The sun, burning orb of gases, sunk beneath the city's skyline, throwing warm colors into the sky as though the buildings were aflame. A chilled breeze swept down the empty street as Chip Chase made his way home. His chair creaked slightly under the weight of his school books as he rolled up a hill. He heaved a relieved sigh as he reached the crest.
Lately, he saw less and less of the Autobots and Spike. Chip understood this was a period of growth. He was a university student now, on his way to adulthood and the responsibilities that followed. If he was to flourish in life, he had to let go of certain activities, and visiting the Autobots twice a week was one. Every weekend quickly turned into every-other weekend and phased into once a month. Though he missed the rides home from classes, he knew the defenders of his planet had more important things to do.
Chip yawned as he rolled himself through the darkening city. Street lights flickered to life as he ran a list of homework through his head. How did Carly and Spike have time for Decepticons when there was so much work to do? He immediately regretted the thought. How many times had the Autobots saved his life and planet?
The thought had just entered his mind when a growl echoed from behind him, followed by metallic footfalls. There was no time to turn or call for help, no time to even count how many feet were approaching. An instant later Ravage leapt over him, spun and aimed a hip rocket at the defenseless fleshling. A second and third set of set of feet stopped on either side of his chair and the heat of a powered up laser pistol came in waves over his face.
"Move an inch and Soundwave said we could shoot you," Rumble, or was it Frenzy, said, emphasizing his point with a quick jab to the cheek.
Frenzy, or was it Rumble, cackled on the opposite side, "Yeah, Soundwave said."
"Don't you have better things to do?" Chip asked defiantly.
"Not at the moment," Rumble laughed as he stepped into Chip's line of sight. Rumble roughly pulled the student from his seat, flung him over his shoulder and turned to his fellow tapes. "We have our orders. Ravage, dumped the wheeled chair. Frenzy, take his locator and toss it."
"The Autobots will stop you, whatever you've planned," Chip grabbed his glasses as they slipped from his face, and he hung limply from the Decepticons shoulder.
"Soundwave's counting on it," Frenzy jeered as he ripped the Autobot shaped necklace from the human. The small, silver symbol glittered in the dying sun light as the tape held it in front of him.
"Soundwave?" Chip whispered as Rumble jumped and began his flight over the city, heading east. The cold wind bit at his exposed skin and slid down the back of his loose shirt. His thin jacket was no match for the furious wind. His eyes blurred with tears, which streamed down his face and dropped to the Earth like single raindrops.
The sun had finally finished its journey through the sky by the time Rumble slowed his flight and lowered his altitude. Chip's already limited vision was totally useless as clouds covered any light from the moon or stars. His other senses were so blinded by the roaring wind that he was forced to withdraw into his thoughts until jolted from them by the Decepticons landing and long strides down a darkened tunnel.
"Rumble, place the human in his cell," Soundwaves voice echoed from a distance, though the effect could have been caused by the rush in Chips ears from the flight. Dim lights lined the outer walls of the Command Center of a long abandoned Decepticon base. A small, hastily constructed cell sat on the back wall, a padded bench lined the wall.
Rumble heaved the human off his shoulder and not-so-gently dropped him on the bench. Once outside the cell, the small Decepticon activated the Energon bars, flipped, transformed, and landed in Soundwaves chest. The giant's single optic glowed from one of the many shadows. He stared at the human for several long moments before stepping forward. He was more silent then normal and there was no Megatron or Starscream hanging around to explain why Chip was there. Sweat began to bead on the his brow as thoughts traveled through his head. Unpleasant thoughts.
Why weren't there any other Decepticons around? Soundwave didn't usually work alone, and he didn't like to deal with humans. So why was Chip here, alone with the towering communications officer? A stab of panic ran through his chest. What if this wasn't Decepticon business?
"What's the meaning of this?" Chip's voice cracked, but he received no answer. "Please."
His plea seemed to strike a place very near to Soundwaves heart. The Decepticon twitched, then turned away. Two beeps preceded Frenzy's arrival. A large grin spread across his face when he noted the human, as he strutted into the Command Center. He placed a finger against his own throat and dragged, a human gestured he'd picked up somewhere.
A chill streaked through Chip's body. Did Soundwave intend to kill him? Why? What had he ever done to anger the high level Decepticon? There were too many questions, too many answers that didn't make sense.
Ravage appeared soon after, his prowl lighter than normal as he glanced at Soundwave then parked himself in front of Chip's cell. Chip had never been more terrified than he was at that moment. A silent room, unbroken by even the hum of computers, faced with two glowing red eyes belonging to an alien robot that was more than willing to tear his limbs from his body, and no help on the horizon. It froze the blood in his veins as though his heart no longer pumped 98.5 degrees of warmth through his body. Instead, it felt as thought his body was sweating ice water that beaded and slid down his trembling flesh.
"You don't look so good, meatbag," Frenzy smiled at Chip from his position at Soundwaves side. He prepared to continue his comment before the larger Decepticon signaled for his silence.
"Monitor the Autobot transmissions," Soundwave still faced away from the human, but turned his head to address the tape. His optic band flashed, and a moment later Frenzy's optics responded in a similar manner. The smile instantly disappeared. "Ravage, acquire a heat source for the human."
"Why don't you just tell me what you're planning?" Chip blurted, his hands gripped the edge of the bench like it was the last thing keeping him grounded to the Earth. "I don't have anything you want."
"Correct," Soundwave faced the frightened human, "you do not possess anything of importance," he paused, "except your connection to the Autobots."
Chip sat stunned for the moment. His mind trying to wrap around the idea Soundwave was presenting him, "I don't understand. You want me because I know the Autobots?"
"Why? Why not Spike or Sparkplug?"
"One is sufficient."
"Sufficient for what? What are you planning? What are you going to do to me?" Chip's rapid release of questions halted further conversation. The Decepticons stared at the breathless human, a large smile reforming on Frenzy's face as he turned away to follow Autobot transmissions. Ravage stretched then disappeared through a dark door to the right.
As his breath and heart rate slowed, a chill rippled through his body, more frozen than before. In an effort to converse his heat, Chip pulled himself close, bent at his hips and held his body over his legs. Not even when the Decepticons had taken over Central City and the Autobots were believed dead, had Chip felt so miserable. At least he had friends then. Now he was trapped with the least conversationally inclined Decepticon ever. Despite his desperate situation, Chip let a laugh escape. A communications officer that was the most silent of the bunch; how did things like that manage to work out?
Ravage returned, dragging a space heater by the cord. The scrap and squeal of metal against metal had no effect on the Transformers, but it made Chip's skin crawl and his muscles freeze up. Why the enemy would have a three prong outlet, or a space heater for that matter, was a little beyond him, but why it was in a human sized cell was way beyond any reasoning he had left. The Energon bars dissipated as Ravage neared. He tugged the heater around once he was in front of the outlet, dropped the cord and gave an angry look to the human staring at him in wonder.
The Decepticon wasted no time plugging the machine in, he gripped the plug with his jaws. What followed would have been amusing if the location and circumstances had been slightly different. A shot of electricity leapt from the outlet into the Decepticons body through his jaws and nose. A roar of shock and fear erupted from Ravage. His paws held in muzzle protectively to the ground. For a moment, a whimper seemed to come from the large cat before the heavy sound of Soundwave's rapid footsteps neared the cell.
"Ravage, return," Soundwave commanded. Ravage's response was instantaneous, as though embarrassed cat was eager to be away from everyone's sight. A short giggle came from Frenzy, though he quickly turned his head back to his work. Soundwave finished what Ravage had started, though he also looked mildly hilarious crouching into a small cell and plugging in a tiny space heater. He straightened, turned and began to walk back to his station when Frenzy burst out excitedly.
"Autobots on their emergency frequency, boss, asking about the fleshling," Frenzy eagerly put the channel through the loud speakers. Ironhide's distinctive drawl boomed through the room.
"No sign of him at his apartment, Prime."
"Jazz, any luck on your side?" Prime's worried voice followed quickly by the saboteur.
"Got his locator, but no Chip."
"We shouldn't jump to that conclusion, but I'd say it's fairly safe to assume the worst. Until then, keep searching," Prime echoed through the empty base, "If Megatron hasn't responded in 3 hours, we'll move in. Prime out."
A surge of hope swept through Chip's system. Now Soundwave had to do something.
"In 2.95 hours, Lazerbeak, deliver out ultimatum," Soundwave flicked off the radio and strode away, the smaller Decepticon at his heels.
Chip's moment of joy deflated. Three hours or more, he didn't think he could last that long. The tedium, the mindlessness of silence was too much, especially after the stress he had put up with. The Autobots were searching for him, at least there was hope. They would find him and everything would be alright. It he could last three hours, alone. His eyelids suddenly became heavy. He had been awake all day and it was getting close to bedtime.
He leaned back against the cool wall and folded his arms over his very hungry stomach. Maybe if he slept he wouldn't have to worry. His stomach gurgled, if he could sleep with such an empty stomach. Decepticons, apparently, didn't understand the human body as well as he thought. Just keep thinking, 'everything will be alright.'
He woke with a start as metallic footsteps neared his cell. Somehow, he had drifted between reality and dream. A quick glance at his watch froze him. Nearly three hours had passed him by, hours he had been at the mercy of those fiends. Like steel rammed through the human body, a foreign voice echoed through his skull, "Fiends attack the weak and defenseless."
The feeling rumbled around his head, down his body and was still traveling around his extremities when he realized who had spoken in his thoughts, Soundwave. Soundwave had chastised his thoughts. The communications officer faced away, as though nothing had passed between them. A fury built in the thin human.
"You have no right," Chip could hardly contain his anger as flecks of spit shot out of his mouth.
"Might makes right, as demonstrated adequately by the Autobots," Soundwave still didn't turn, though Rumble and Frenzy did, anger clearly written on their faces.
"The Autobots aren't like that! The Autobots," Chip tried to continue when Soundwave thrust his fist into the consol he was working on. He still didn't turn.
You hardly know the Autobots. How dare you try to judge our war! He spoke telepathically again, more forcefully than before. You have no idea what the Autobots are capable of, so don't think you can put them in the category of saint!
Whatever had transpired between Soundwave and the Autobots, had hit a soft spot on the normally stoic Transformer. Though Chip wished to know, he also didn't wish to have his view of the Autobots tarnished. They had done too much good, helped him too often to do something like that. No one wants to be rescued by the bad guys, no matter how much good they do.
A quiet beeping signaled Lazerbeaks internal communiqué to his boss. The message to the Autobots had been delivered. Chip glanced at his watch again. Two hours and 57 minutes, his heart skipped a beat and increased its pace.
Soon he'd be out of this awful place, back in the safety of the Autobots. He'd be alright. Hope began to creep back into his system, until noticed Rumble leering at him from the control panel. Frenzy copied his twin. Buzzsaw perched on Soundwaves shoulder, eyes glowing red with hawk-like hate. Ravage flicked his tail in anticipation. It was the most disturbing "family photo moment" he'd ever seen in his life. Each Decepticon stared at him, as though aware of some hidden knowledge. Lazerbeak arrived then, circled and landed on Soundwaves outstretched arm.
"Return," Soundwave ordered and each tape transformed and landed in the safety of his chest. All, but Lazerbeak. "Proceed."
Chip had never, and never would again, feel the kind of pain he did at that moment. His time with the Autobots had made him tough, but not so strong as to not scream when the cassette vulture fired. The beam shot through his flesh from one side of his body to the other. Blood poured forth instantly, soaking the front and back of his cloths.
"This was your plan! You shot me! What good will that do?" Chip pressed his hinds to the wound in his abdomen.
"Revenge," Soundwave turned away, "A lesson. The Autobots will know how it feels to suffer. Good-bye, Chip Chase."
Shock swept into his system, coupled with blood loss, Chip strained to stay awake. He knows my name, Autobots suffer? Chip reeled again as Soundwave walked away. What did he mean, a lesson? Revenge? His thoughts blurred together. Please let the Autobots come soon. Please let them save me.
When he did wake again, his thoughts picked up where they left off last. Please don't let me die. And then he focused on the florescent lights in front of him and a stabbing sensation in his arm. He brought a hand to his face, there was no blood. Spike and Carly's weary, but smiling faces came into focus. Their lips moved animatedly, but no words spewed forth. Slowly, jumbled sounds formed words and arranged themselves in his brain.
"We were sure you'd be dead," Spike said.
"Soundwave left that awful message and we thought that'd be the end of you," Carly let a tear slide down her cheek, then caught it with the back of her hand before it fell off her chin. She wasn't normally a weepy girl, but this obviously shook her.
"Let the boy wake up," Sparkplug pulled his son away, "Are you feeling alright?"
"No. What happened?" Chip silently praised modern medicine for
inventing intravenous pain killers.
"Soundwave kidnapped you, shot you and left you to die. Just because of some stupid revenge he plotted," Sparkplug's eyes seemed to spark with righteous anger.
"He said it was a lesson," Chip struggled through the fog in his brain.
"Decepticons never make sense, not even that one," Carly put in, "You're safe now. Don't worry about it."
But he did. Decepticons only captured humans with a reason, the antimatter formula, bringing Cybertron to Earth, all for a reason. So why? What lesson? Each time he would broached the subject with Optimus, he was silenced with comforting words, but there was always a look that said 'it means more."
It was his life that had almost been snuffed. Didn't he deserve to know?