Title: A Prayer and the Matrix

Disclaimer: don't own nothing but the idea

Smoke.

As Ironhide approached the burning building, he felt a chill run through his spark. Optimus Prime had asked him to check out a single that had originated 4.2 miles from the Lennox's farm. He had been halfway there when he saw the fire trucks head toward the house that he had just departed.

The tell-tale scorch marks identified the attacker as Starscream. Paramedics were currently placing Captain Lennox and his wife into the back of the ambulance-neither was moving. Ironhide started to back up when the image of his youngest charge flashed through his mind-the six-year-old Annabelle.

Shortly after he had come to join Captain Lennox and his family unit; Will had set up a 'hidey-hole' for Annabelle to go into if either of her parents called out 'Disneyland.' Ironhide reached out with his sensors and tried to locate the little girl.

Annabelle was scared. A big robot had appeared in the front yard when her mom and dad had been bringing in the groceries. Her dad had called him Starscream, and then the robot had attacked her parents. Anna had run into the hidey-hole with her plush bunny.

She remembered that Ironhide had told her about Deceptacon's, and how the Autobots protected the humans against them. Anna never believed it, Ironhide was the only talking truck that she knew of. 'Hide was fun, he played games with her, and let her sleep in back set if it stormed, and play in his truck bed. And when he was in his robot form he let her draw on his armor-though he didn't like it at first, but he said that she could as long as it washed off.

"Annabelle?" a voiced called out followed by the familiar rev of Ironhide's engine.

"'Hide!" she cried out as she came out of her hiding place and ran toward the GMT truck. A hologram appeared at once, catching her in his arms. "You ok Annabelle?"

"Yes," she whispered as she allowed him to place her into the trunk. "Mommy? Daddy?"

"I don't know, their being taken to the hospital," the truck replied as his hologram appeared in the truck set and the engine started.

"Can I stay with you?"

Ironhide's engine sputtered at the question, "Of course Belle."

Optimus? The weapons specialist called out.

Yes Ironhide? The leader of the Autobots responded at once.

Starscream attacked the Lennox's, and there in the hospital.

I'll inform Bumblebee to have Sam and Michaela brought to HQ. As soon as you arrive, we'll try to figure out what to do.

Roger.

Ironhide was tracing the homing beacon, while Belle spelt in the set next to her. This was not how he envisioned his first real mission in 5 years. His charges getting attacked when he was gone, two of them ending up in the hospital, and the third scared to go near humans.

He parked alongside a crater, and the remains of a pod scattered throughout the nearby field.

Hide backed up as a red 2007 dodge viper drove out from the smoke.

At the very moment the viper identified himself, Annabelle woke up and started to scream.

Bumblebee?

Yes sir?

Starscream has attacked the Lennox's.

What?!

Bring your charges to HQ as soon as possible.

Yes sir.

Autobot Headquarters was actually the former sector seven bases. The Hoover Dam's construction allowed the Autobots to move around freely in their natural form. Everyone had arrived so far, they were waiting on the last member of the team, Ironhide. The weapons specialist had chosen to remain with Captain Lennox, and had seen the others very rarely-mostly to the fact that he was a warrior and he had no place in this time of peace. Bumblebee had been the last one to see him and that was about 2 1/2 years ago, when Captain Lennox had brought Ironhide to a Conference in Washington.

The familiar sound of an engine being revved pulled the three autobots from their thoughts. But it was the second rev that brought the trio to their feet.

Ironhide stopped about five feet away, and a red viper pulled up alongside it.

Ironhide it is good to see you, and who is that beside you? Questioned the autobot leader.

It's been awhile sir, he replied as he opened up his door and Annabelle jumped down. Hide quickly transformed and set his hand down so that she could climb up on it, he brought his hand up-being careful not to jar the girl. "Hotrod?"

Rod quickly transformed - he was slightly shorter then 'hide and he spared a glance around the room-surprised that they were all on earth but he was far more interested in the little girl who had somehow managed to wrap the weapons specialist around her hand. "Primus it's good to see you guys," he joked as he clasped hands with Prime, Ratchet, and Bumblebee.

"Hotrod, thank Primus you are all right," Prime stated as he returned his gaze toward Ironhide. "Ironhide, who is that child?"

The said 'child,' moved backward away from the giant robots in front of her. Hide said that Hotrod was ok, but he didn't say anything about these three. "Hide?" she whispered gazing up at her guardian.

"I must speak with the others," Hide stated as he turned his attention toward the human pair that was standing next to Bumblebee, "Sam, can you..."

"NO!" she called out as she stood up and turned around in order to face him. "You promised!"

Ironhide sighed as he ignored the looks that he was receiving from the five standing across from him. "I must speak with Prime, alone," he added on before she could think to ask to join him.

"Ok," Anna replied with a defeated sigh as she glanced over toward the autobot standing beside Ironhide.

"What? No!" Hotrod called out as he was handed the girl.

"Don't drop her," Hide growled as he turned around to follow Prime into his office.

"Ah," Rod sighed aloud as he glanced down at Annabelle. "So what do you want to do?"

"Draw!" she said excitedly as she removed crayons from her pack.

"That can't be that bad," Hotrod figured but was greeted with a sudden feeling of dread. What was she drawing on?!

"Ironhide, it has been awhile," Prime stated as he studied the autobot across from him.

"You to sir," he replied. "Though the circumstances could have been a little better."

"Of course, Ratchet has checked on the Lennox's they are both in stable condition and are both expected to make a full recovery. Red Alert is currently standing guard over them at the hospital."

"Thank Primus," the weapon specialist stated as he glanced over to were Hotrod was watching Annabelle, and judging from the Autobot's expression Belle had decided to give him a custom design.

"Ironhide?" Prime's question was clear; he wanted to know who the human was and why she was with him.

"Annabelle Lennox."

"Why is she with you?" Prime frowned. "Shouldn't you have turned her over to the human authorities?"

"She's afraid of humans right know," 'hide responded. "And if I had left her at the police station she might have run into Deceptacon's. As it is right now she'll only stay with me and Hotrod for some reason," he mused this for a minute-why did she dislike Prime and the others?

Meanwhile Hotrod was trying in vain to convince the human girl to stop drawing on his chest plate. "Come on, stop drawing on me!"

Anna looked up at the Autobot and frowned, "Ok," she sighed as she put her crayons back into her pocket. Glancing around her gaze was drawn toward the humans who were staring at her. "Hotrod?"

"Yes?" he replied as he wondered if he could wash her artwork off of his armor.

"Who are they?" she asked pointing toward where Sam and Michaela were standing beside Bumblebee.

Hotrod frowned as he gazed at the two humans, "Don't know Anna," he replied as he questioned Bumblebee, "Bee who are the humans?"

"Sam and Michaela; they are Bumblebee's charges," Optimus stated as he and Ironhide reentered the room.

Ironhide retrieved his charge from Hotrod, shaking his head at the flower design that Belle had drawn on the Autobot's armor.

"'hide?"

"What is it Annabelle?" questioned the weapons specialist.

"Who are the other bots?" she asked pointing to where the other Autobots were talking with Hotrod and joking with him about the picture that had been drawn on his armor.

"This is our leader Optimus Prime, our medic Ratchet," both bots nodded his head in acknowledgement. "As well as Bumblebee, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe and you already meet Hotrod."

"Their not Decep'ta'cons?" she asked.

At that the Autobots turned their attention toward the young girl. "No," Ironhide assured her glancing at the other Autobots to gage their reaction.

"Their not bad?"

"No," he repeated calmly; having no problem with answering any questions that the youngling might have-much as he had done with Bumblebee.

Finished

R/R – I'll continue if I get enough requests