Author's Notes: Slowly but surely folks, slowly but surely. I have much if not all of the remainder of the story planned out. How many chapters that will be has yet to be seen, but know we are begining to wind down to the end. I thank each and every one of you for your support and reviews! I decided to post today because it's getting close to christmas and plus today is my birthday! So please review and make today special! Thanks everyone and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Phase Thirteen: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Chapter Twenty-Eight

The Mech flinched and pulled his hand away with a curse.

"Stop that!" It demanded hotly. Brea closed her mouth tight, but did not relax. The Mech placed a hand to his temple and shook his head as if trying to clear it. When he looked back down at her, he fixed with a glare. Clearly he was unappreciative of being screamed at. However, Brea was not in much of a cooperative mood either.

Alright, so maybe that was a bad move. Feeling the situation becoming more dismal by the moment and fearing she might have royally pissed him off, Brea tried another tactic.

"They'll come for me!" She blurted, narrowing her eyes and trying to keep herself from trembling.

The Mech's eyes widened a little at that. He looked confused.

"They'll find out where I am and come for me." It was quiet an effort to attempt at appearing threatening when one was but an eighth the size of their opponent. And Brea's was clearly not buying it. His optics narrowed and he bent down to her level, all but shoving his face into her. Brea bit down on another scream and leaned back away from the encroaching visage. A chocked squeak blurted out of her as her shoulder reminded her it was still much in pain. As if she really was in need of such a reminder.

"Who?" The Mech asked evenly as if he thought she was hard of hearing or just slow.

Determined not to be dissuaded, Brea held her grown. Puffing her chest out in a very 'I'm not gonna take it' attitude, she stuck out her chin, all the while trying to keep her lip from trembling too badly.

"Optimus!" She declared with forced bravado, hoping the mere mentioning of the Emirate's name would somehow dissuade him from whatever plans he had for her. "He'll come and you're gonna be in trouble because when Ratchet find out he's gonna –"

She was cut off but a loud, boisterous laugh. The abruptness startled her and she hurried to cover her ears, but one again being reminded of her tender shoulder muscles, knee-jerk reactions be damned. Looking up, she saw the large red Mech chuckling and shaking his head. Was that a good thing, she wondered? When he redirected his attention to her, he bore an amused grin. Before saying anything, he reached around and grabbed a chair, pulling it towards him. As he lowered himself into it, he smirked at her.

"So you're one of Prime's wards, then?" The Mech asked, in English.

Stunned and a little confused at the abrupt change of the situation, she nodded numbly, inching away. "Uh-huh…"

"You don't need to be all fidgety, I ain't gonna do nothin' to ya." He tapped the table top. "Yer safe here."

Brea blinked and stared at him warily. "…how do I know you're not lying?" That seemed to surprise the Mech and yet he seemed pleased with the question. He reached up to his chest plate and pulled on a panel. Set inside was the red face insignia of the Autobots. Her apprehension melted away at seeing the familiar symbol; Jazz and Bluestreak both had their old badges hidden somewhere on their frame too.

The Mech was grinning widely. "My name's Ironhide, former Autobot. I was Prime's Security Officer and personal bodyguard during the war."

"Oh," she said. "I'm Brea."

The Mech leaned back into his chair. "So, let's get down to business," Ironhide said, righting in his chair to lean forward. His amused grin had faded into a grim stare, serious but not unfriendly. "How did one of Prime's foundlings end up in a crashed craft belonging to a former Decepticon?"

Foundling? Brea thought. "He kidnapped me from the Academy," she said.

"What were you doing there? I haven't heard Impactor creating any programs for organics."

"No, me and another human were there with Perceptor and Bluestreak. We were there to talk to the students to try and kind of relate ourselves to them so they would care a little about us," She replied. "I don't know how long ago it was, I kind of blacked out for most of it."

Ironhide ran his thumb across his chin in contemplation. Wordlessly he got up from his seat and strode over to the computer consol and began typing. After a moment, he made a curious humming noise. "If they know you're gone they haven't reported it. Nothing in the server about missing humans. They might not even know you're gone yet."

"Of they just don't want a lot of attention."

"How so?"

"Well…I'm kinda on a hit list…of sorts."

Ironhide turned to look at her over his broad shoulder, clearly skeptical. "…of sorts?"

Brea nodded.


"I know someone's dirty little secrets."

Ironhide's expression was still for a moment for an odd look of revelation spread over his features. He leaned down towards her with intent optics, face grim and serious. "You're not our key witness to the trial are you?"

Before Brea could answer, a buzz filled the room and an unfamiliar voice rang out from nowhere and everywhere. "Sir? You might wanna come up to the reception desk. We have a guest up front requesting an estimate of the cost for the plaza crash. Says he's gonna pay for it."

Ironhide's optics narrowed. "Why so generous? What's his aim?"

"Looks to me like he's bribing us to not pursue the investigation. He came with Breakout to talk to you about it."

"Who is he? Has he identified himself?"

"Says he's an associate of Rebar's boss and says the crash was all a 'grievous error' that his boss wants to 'amend'. Also, he's asking about what was confiscated from the craft. He wants us to give it all back."

"God dammit!" Brea hissed. "Is this ever gonna stop?!"

"What was that sir?"

"Nothing," Ironhide was quiet for a very long moment. "Ask him what specifically he is looking for."

He glanced back down at Brea. She sat still and stiff, breathing deep and long trying not to let her emotions run away with her. She was more angry then scared at this point. When she looked up to meet the Mech's optics she shook her head pleadingly.

"Don't…" she whispered.

The mysterious voice returned. "Said there was a data pad case he needs back and an organic he's looking for."

Brea flinched at the word 'organic' and bit her lip. Closing her eyes, she looked down at the table top, trying to breathe normally.

"Tell him we have the data pads, he can have those as soon as he's filled out the form, but the organic didn't survive the crash."

Brea looked up to see Ironhide smiling deviously down at her.

"…sir?" There was clear confusion on the voice's part. "But didn't it…"

"The organic didn't survive," Ironhide repeated, enunciating each word with deliberate stress.

"Oh, yes sir."

"Make a copy of the data pads before giving them back. Send me the copies when you're done."

"Yes sir. Draft out." There was a click and the voice was gone.

Brea stared at him gratefully. "You lied."

For a long moment Ironhide did not speak or move. He stood in front of the table, staring off intently, deep in thought. Brea was quiet, not wanting to interrupt whatever thought processes he was working through.

"Something's not right here," Ironhide finally groused, turning to the computer again. "Why would Prime not send out a notice, but Rebar's boss sends a lawyer over to smooth it all down? Something ain't lining up."

Brea carefully negotiated herself to stand and strode over the edge of the table. "What are you going to do?"

Ironhide didn't answer her right away. "Someone's been inside the server," he growled. "A notification entry was deleted…whoever did it was sloppy too. I'll bet you a case of Tarn High Grade that it was Prime's note about you."

"So, what does that mean? Who deleted it?"

"I don't know," he replied. "But it can't mean anything good. Someone really doesn't want you found I'd wager."

"Who's Rebar's boss? Is it Xeon?"

"Don't know. I'm not authorized to seek that info without a warrant."

"Can't you call Optimus?" Brea asked, feeling her grip on her emotions slipping. "Tell him I'm here so he can send someone to get me."

"No. Can't risk the transmission. If they can get into the server to delete a notification, they can certainly monitor our communications. We don't use a secure line, it's against regulation."

"I just want to go back to the Sanctuary! Can't you take me?"

Ironhide turned around, regarding Brea curiously. "Calm down, kid. I'm not gonna just hand you over. I wanna see those slagheaps get tossed behind energized bard as much as Prime or anyone. I'd take you, but I don't know where it is. Prime tried to recruit me a while back but I didn't take the offer. I stayed here."

"So what are we gonna do? Just sit and wait here for Xeon to send his personal army after me?"

"I said calm down," Ironhide growled. "Getting worked up isn't gonna help you none."

"I can't help it!" Brea barked, gesturing wildly with her uninjured arm. "I'm sick of having to run from him all the time! No matter what I do he's always there waiting for the chance to smite me after he failed the first time! Do you have any idea how seriously freaked out I am? How would you like it if some psychotic giant was hell bent on destroying you for nothing you did wrong? Huh!? I didn't ask to be here you know!"

Ironhide was silent as Brea yelled, arms cross and expression neutral. "Been holding all that in for a while haven't ya?"

"And I'm not finished!" She cried, full on angry tirade mode. She began to pace. "Before all of this crap, we never even knew for sure if there were any of life forms outside our own planet. Hello! Thanks for the really rude wake up call! Oh! And you know what else? My entire species is being enslaved and our planet is probably destroyed beyond repair. And on top of all that, my family is probably dead, long gone. So even by chance I do survive, what exactly is left for me? And even if they are alive, for how much longer? They probably think I'm dead too! And they may be right! Xeon's bound to get to me sooner or later, no matter where I go he's there or one of his cronies is! I might as well go hand myself over and beg for a quick death!"

Brea stared at the Mech, out of breath and with watery eyes.

"…that's not a bad idea," Ironhide mused.

Brea scoffed. "What? Are you crazy? I was just…"

"No, listen here," Ironhide leaned onto the table again and pointing his finger close to her face, making her go cross-eyed, "Xeon's a public figure. Whatever he does is closely scrutinized, it's why he's got so many shady deals under the table. So, instead of hiding you, we'll just put you out for all to see."

Brea stepped back from the red digit to look up at his face. "You are nuts."

"I'll take you to the Citadel," Ironhide decided, ignoring her. "It's heavily fortified with guards all over the place. If he tried anything in there, he'd be convicting himself before the trail even begins!"

"That's what they said when we went to the academy," Brea grouched, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"The academy is a school; I'm talking about Cybertron's capital building where the Senate and Council are held, our main body of government. I'd be able to get in contact with Prime better from the Citadel, too," Ironhide added. "He might even be there, or Prowl at least. And if not, there're a million places to stash you until we get in contact with him."

Brea was not amused. "Can I come out yet?"


A pause.

"How long until we get there?"

"A breem. Maybe longer if you don't quite your whining."

"In case you didn't know, traveling by box is not very comfortable."

"You got any better ideas?"

There was silence from the box.

"That's what I thought."

Ironhide's plan was simple, almost on the verge of stupid. He would sneak Brea into the compound inside a box and hide her somewhere until he could locate either Prime or Prowl or at least get in contact with them. As an officer to the Iacon's security task force, he was granted virtually limitless access to important buildings such as the citadel. So far, Brea was still working through her 'Why me? Angry at the world and my rotten' luck stage which primarily consisted of a lot of whining. Which Ironhide did not appear to appreciate all that much.

"Ultra Magnus's is gonna hang me out to dry when he hears I'm abusing my authority," Ironhide muttered, seemingly to himself. However, Brea thought she detected a small hint of excitement in his tone at the notion of getting caught and reprimanded. Could Cybertronians be adrenaline junkies if they didn't have adrenaline?

"Is he an Autobot?"

"Of course!" Ironhide boomed. "No way he'd be a 'Con. Magnus? Ha! He could barely handle being an Autobot. Poor slagger has trouble with powers of authority. Great mind, but barely any self confidence. Doesn't take pressure real well. Which is hilarious when you think about it."

"Why's that?"

"He was Prime's field commander."


"Prime's a good judge of character. Magnus's has the potential to be a great military commander, but he needs a bit of pushing for him to realize it. But whenever we really needed him he was there. Since the war's end, he's taken to the commonplace routine pretty well. A lot less pressure ordering around a few security bots then an army."

"I suppose so."

"What about you?"


"What are these dirty little secrets you know about Xeon that it would grant him sending bounty hunters after you?"

Brea felt no restraint in telling Ironhide everything. Like the many times before she had recited her tale, it was very therapeutic.

Author's Notes part 2: A little short I know, but if I added any more the chapter would have been uber long and would have taken longer to get to you all and like I said before, I wanted to get this out today! =D