Some Secrets Must Never Be Told
A/N Bold type indicates databurst conversation.
Optimus' head tilted upright from looking at some images from Qatar sent to him by the Army (who believed the images might show Scorponok hiding under the sand) at Ironhide's knock and databurst. As he did so, he realised that he could again sense that somebody in the base was distressed. Once he'd spoken to Ironhide, Optimus decided that he'd have to investigate. He bid Ironhide to enter.
"There's something wrong with Bumblebee." the big 'bot said, concern evident in his voice.
"What is it, Ironhide? Was there any evident cause?" Optimus asked. Ironhide shook his head.
"No, I was discussing his artwork, and I don't think I said anything negative about it. In fact, the painting he was doing reminded me of somebody I knew." Ironhide stated. "Then he suddenly went all odd on me, asking me loudly to leave his room and leave him alone, and locking the door. You know that's not like our Bumblebee." Ironhide frowned. "As I said, I don't think I said anything to denigrate his artwork."
Optimus got what humans might call 'a sense of foreboding.'
"Ironhide, what did the painting portray?" asked Optimus.
"A beautiful but very distinctive dark green femme, with her hand raised to her chest." Ironhide told the Autobot leader. "Her optics were half-shuttered and her mouth was open as if she were in mid-speech or song." Ironhide explained, demonstrating the pose with his own body.
"You said it reminded you of somebody you knew." Optimus said.
"Who, Ironhide?" he asked.
"Weaponsmistess Laserfrost." Ironhide told Optimus.
"Who was she?" asked Optimus sharply.
"She was one of the best weaponsmiths Cybertron ever produced." Ironhide told Optimus, bringing up the hologram to show him. "Inventive, innovative, intelligent and beautiful. What a shame she joined the wrong side."
He sighed, his optics briefly shuttering, which is why he did not see the alarmed widening of Optimus' optics as he recognised the femme, and registered the purple insignia in the centre of the hologram's chest.
"Ironhide." The tone of Optimus' voice brought Ironhide back from his thoughts and he opened his optics, blinking as he saw the expression on Optimus' face. It was an expression Ironhide was not used to seeing on the face of his commander. Optimus was worried.
"Ironhide." Optimus repeated, urgency in his voice. "Please tell me that you didn't show Bumblebee that hologram!"
"I'm afraid I did. I was showing him how the distinctive head-shape made by her crafted hair meant that his picture was almost definitely of her. How did Bumblebee know her, Optimus? Do you know?"
Ironhide's question went unanswered as Optimus crossed to his door, opened it, and set out at a half-run to Bumblebee's room. Ironhide turned off the hologram and ran out too.
Ironhide followed, quickly catching Optimus up. As they reached the young scout's room, Optimus databurst as well as blipping the door chime and knocking. There was no response to any of the signals.
"Bumblebee, it's me, Optimus. Let me come in, please." There was still no response.
"Autobot scout Bumblebee, this is your commanding officer speaking. Open the door and let me in." he said, letting a tone of authority enter his voice but without making it sound intimidating. There was still no response. Optimus sighed and turned to Ironhide.
"I do not think he is in there, but it is best to check before we search the rest of the Base." Optimus said. "I have called Ratchet, he has an emergency-override code to Bumblebee's door, for cases of medical emergency, or need. This counts."
"What's going on, Optimus?" asked Ironhide as Ratchet approached. Optimus once again didn't answer Ironhide, but nodded to Ratchet.
Ratchet sent the code, asking "I second Ironhide on that. I'd like to know what's going on as well, Prime."
Optimus sighed as the door slid open. He stepped in, talking in the sight of the half-completed picture and empty rest-pallet.
"It's not your fault, Ironhide, I just never thought Bumblebee would find out." He looked up at Ironhide, and then Ratchet.
"It seems that Bumblebee has found out the truth about the identity and affiliation of his mother."
Ironhide blinked several times as Ratchet scowled, drawing down his brow ridges and directing an angry glare at him. Ironhide noticed, holding his hands up and seeming to shrink under the medic's angry gaze. Optimus stepped over and lay a hand on Ratchet's upper arm.
"Easy, Ratchet, Ironhide didn't know, only you and I knew, remember? The chances of Ironhide seeing the picture and knowing the femme's identity were a million to one." Optimus said. He databurst Ratchet the details of the conversation he and Ironhide had had, and an image of the hologram. "Our priority now is to find Bumblebee, and try and convince him that it doesn't matter who his mother was, nor which side she was on."
"Woah – Laserfrost was Bumblebee's mother? You mean Bumblebee was the Sparkling she got from the AllSpark that I heard about?" Ironhide asked.
"Yes, but Bumblebee didn't know that, until you told him." scowled Ratchet. "I would have preferred it if the situation had stayed that way. We now potentially have one very scared, confused, and upset scout to find."
"Then maybe we should have told Ironhide, if we had thought this might happen, but we can't see into the future, we were not to know." stated Optimus. "So, Ratchet, stop blaming Ironhide, and Ironhide, don't blame yourself. Assigning blame is pointless. We should concentrate on finding Bumblebee."
"I have a scanner set up that we can access from my office." Ironhide said, as Ratchet's scowl dissipated. "It can show Spark locations. Ratchet, you could probably tie it into your medical computer and by a process of elimination, we can find him using that, can't we?" Ironhide asked.
"Yes, that's if Bumblebee hasn't driven out of the Base in an agitated state." Ratchet said.
"I'll check." said Ironhide, his optics dimming. "No." he said a moment later. "I spoke to Bumblebee just half an hour ago, and Cliffjumper, who is manning the gate, said the last people he opened the gates to were Hound and Prowl, who are on patrol duty. That was an hour ago. Wherever Bumblebee is, he's still in the Base."
They went to Ironhide's office, where he accessed the computer. A map sprang up, showing a graphic of the base, with spots scattered through it.
"We can eliminate those three – that's us." Ironhide said, touching the screen to remove the spots. "That one up by the gate is Cliffjumper." He said, touching another spot, which winked out.
Ratchet pointed to two spots in the area of the map corresponding to the Medical Bay. "One of those is Mirage, and the other is Jazz, who's in recharge." he said. Ironhide touched them both and they blinked out.
"There are five signals left - one in the corridor, one in the storage area, and three in the rec-room." Ironhide said. He turned on his comm.
"Sunstreaker? Are you in the rec-room?" he asked.
"Uh, yes sir, what's up? We haven't played any pranks, honestly, and it's our off-duty time!" said the yellow mech, sounding aggrieved.
"Nothing's up, just let us know who's in there with you. One of them is bound to be that misbeSparked twin of yours, right, but who's the other?" he asked.
"Uh, yes, 'Sides is here and so's Powerglide." Sunstreaker said.
"Thank you. That's what I wanted to know." Said Ironhide. He switched his comm to a different setting.
"Wheeljack, where are you?"
"On my way out to the courtyard. I have a new experiment to try." He said.
"As long as it's not likely to go 'bang', proceed." said Ironhide. He commed off, and touched the three spots in the rec room and the one in the corridor. He pointed to the single spot left, the one in the storage area.
"I believe we have found our scout." He said.
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They entered the storage area, which was dark and silent. Ratchet ran a scan, and pointed silently over to the opposite end of the storage room. The three quietly advanced.
"He's hidden in the scrap pile." Ratchet databurst to the other two. Ironhide databurst back something none too polite.
"It'll take forever to search that lot!" He said. "Who's idea was it to collect old metal and circuitry anyway?"
"Mine!" Ratchet replied. "I can't make spares and new plating out of thin air, you know!"
"I think I may be able to resolve this without the need to search." databurst Optimus. He turned back on his vocal processor.
"Scout Bumblebee, you have nothing to fear and we would like to talk to you. Report."
There was a scraping and clattering noise, and then the little yellow scout slipped out from behind a pile of old hoods and roofs.
"Scout Bumblebee reporting Sir," he said. "I apologise, I needed time to think, and to reach a few conclusions."
Optimus shuttered his optics, feeling for anything from Bumblebee, and to his surprise and gratification, he could not feel as much distress coming from Bumblebee as he had feared he would.
"Would you like to share those conclusions, Bumblebee?" asked Ratchet gently. "Don't worry the three of us all know about your mother, but we are the only three who know, and none of us care whose side she was on."
"She was my mother, but I was AllSpark-created and too young to choose my own side." He said. "My lack of a suitable number of memory-chips mean that I didn't even know my original name, or hers." He looked at Optimus.
"In the absence of a parental unit, you took on that responsibility and you brought me up, and as a result, really, that's all that matters. Why should the choice of my dead mother affect me?"
The little yellow scout straightened his back, held up his head and twitched his doorwings.
"I am Autobot scout Bumblebee, and would not want to be anything or anyone else." he said proudly.
"What my mother was, and what she probably expected me to become, have absolutely no bearing on who I am now. Why should it?" He said. Optimus stepped forwards and stooped to embrace the young mech.
"Of course it doesn't, Bumblebee, and we wouldn't have you any other way." He said.