AN: Greetings everyone, and welcome to my first fanfic in any fandom! Before we get started, I need to let everyone know that this story was inspired the most my Ray of Starlights "Twin Times the Fun," and this has been written with her knowlege and blessings. I'm trying to write an original story, but chances are there are going to be parallels, and I don't want anyone mistaking me for stealing someone else's ideas. So Ray-fans, please don't come after me with pitchforks and torches.
Any and all comments will be loved, constructive criticism is appreciated, and flames will be laughed off.
Edit 11/6/08: I added a bit to this chapter, a few paragraphs from our star Autopots pov, to hopefully make it a little more interesting. I hope you like it!
Ch. 1 – First Contact
"I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to any Autobots taking refuge among the stars: We are here. We are waiting."
I had played Optimus' message nearly a hundred times now, and it never became any less surreal no matter how many times I heard it.
I almost could not believe it. After over a hundred thousand vorns of war, an end to the fighting finally seemed to be within reach…
I was not so naïve as to believe the war over already. There was too much bad blood between the Autobots and Decepticons for the war to end so easily. But I could not help but feel cautiously optimistic about a peaceful future. True, the loss of the Allspark ultimately meant the loss of Cybertron, and that was a loss I suspect I would feel heavily for a long time.
And yet, in a strange, perhaps perverse way, I was almost glad of it. Cybertron had been consumed into a single, giant battlefield long before we had been forced to abandon it. For most of us, it only held memories of endless war, pain, and death. If I had the choice, I am not certain I would have even wanted to return. It seemed only fitting that that world, with all its dark and painful memories, be left behind only as a mausoleum for the dead.
The journey had been long, but it was nearly done. I had already passed the systems outermost planet, in search of a small alien world I had never before seen, but would someday call home.
I referenced the data Optimus sent in his transmission of this planet, and drew up the information about the dominant species: the Humans. I could not help but wonder, what would they be like?
"I'm sorry sir, but that's how much it costs."
"I was told it'd only be 11 dollars over the phone!"
"But no matter how I slice it, the cheapest I can get it is 13.45. That's still over ten dollars less than what it was. I can't sell it to you for less than half of the original price."
"I was told it'd only be 11 dollars! Are you trying to cheat me?"
Seventeen year old Nolan O'Connell resisted the urge to snap at the customer to stop whining and take his freaking dry-cleaning already, there was a line forming behind him and all he was doing was wasting gas as he left his car stalling. Normally, working at the dry-cleaners wasn't a big deal, and was actually one of his better jobs. It wasn't the most paying, but most days it was pretty easy-going and quiet. This wasn't one of those days.
The customer finally got fed up, and left without his dry-cleaned pants and ties, threatening to sue them. Nolan merely put the clothes back on the conveyer. It was a pretty good job all in all, but it wasn't without its annoyances.
And here comes one of them now.
Repressing a grimace, Nolan turned to see his admittedly attractive co-worker smiling brilliantly at him. "Yeah Jennika?"
"Since neither of us is working this Thursday, I was wondering if you'd like to see a movie or something with me that day?" She leaned slightly against the wall as she talked, practically radiating 'I'm-so-cute' at him.
Nolan was unaffected.
"Sorry, I'm working at my other job that day."
"You're working two jobs?" Jennika asked in slight surprise.
"Three, actually, for the summer."
"Three jobs?? Wow that must suck." Jennika said thoughtfully, lightly chewing her lower lip. "If you're working that much, then you hardly have any time for yourself to do anything fun."
"It's not that bad." Nolan said, moving around Jennika to get back to working. But the 16-year old girl wasn't done yet.
"Well, you've gotta relax and de-stress sometimes, or you'll, like, get an ulcer or something from working too much. How 'bout you talk to your boss, get a Friday off, and I'll show you a good time?" She flashed him that smile worthy of a toothpaste commercial.
If nothing else, dealing with Jennika was a good way to practice his patience.
"Thanks but no thanks. I need the money more than I need a movie, for when I move out after high school." Nolan only added the last part to stave off the questions he knew were coming.
Jennika pouted. "But whyyyyy?"
Nolan was spared from answering by a customer at the front desk, where Jennika was (supposedly) stationed. Nolan breathed a sigh of relief, as he went to taking and cataloguing the dirty clothes into the computer. The day was reasonably busy, so hopefully he wouldn't have to put up with Jennika too much for the rest of his shift.
Plus, today he had the evening free.
Too far, the planet was too far for my energy levels. I had been left drained by my last battle, and had no more emergency rations to consume. Yes, deep space required little to no energy, but for landing and navigating through a system to find the correct world…that was taking more energy that I had hoped, and for interstellar travel I was getting worryingly low, already less than 50% capacity.
I sped toward the planet, as it moved away from me little by little in its solar rotation. I could make out the shape of the landmasses now, and in my frustration I realized that, on my current trajectory, I was on course to land on the wrong side.
I adjusted my course to curve around the planet, counter to its own rotation, but I was coming in too low, too fast. If I tried to land precisely where Optimus had said the new base was, I would instead risk skipping off the planet's atmosphere and ricocheting back into deep space, costing me time and energy I couldn't afford to waste to turn circle around and try again. True, there was a small margin where I could pass through the atmosphere and land close to the new base…but it was far too small for my liking. I would not chance it, not when I was so close to the end of my journey.
I had no choice: I had to make an early planet fall.
Well, I thought a bit sardonically as I tipped downward, at least I will be able to land on the right continent.
A bus ride, a bank trip, another bus ride, and a short trip by bike later found Nolan nearing the large white lake-side house he called home. And he used the term very loosely here.
Most people, looking at the colonial style house so near to Lake Ontario, would think that Nolan must belong to a filthy rich family and was dang lucky to be there, and would probably be completely boggled as to why he deemed it necessary to work three jobs over the summer, or why he had no plans to go to college after high school. Though if Nolan told them the truth, he doubt he'd be believed by most.
Amazing how far a little charm and an ability to lie will get you with people, Nolan thought darkly, swinging off his bike and wheeling it to the garage.
A sharp 'bang' sound and muffled shouting grabbed at Nolan's attention, and without a moment's hesitation he let his bike fall and ran inside through the side door. He had his reasons for wanting to leave home as soon as possible, and this was one of them.
Nolan burst through the door and ran to the living room, where the shouting was coming from – he wasn't getting every word, but it included words like 'lazy,' 'useless,' and 'backtalk'. When Nolan turned the corner, the sight that greeted him was an all too familiar one: his father, towering in his righteous anger and shouting his displeasure for all to hear, and his sister, standing before him, trying to be still but unable to stop her trembling or raise her head, for fear of exposing her tearful eyes.
"I said LOOK AT ME!" the older man shouted, lifting a hand as if to strike. He never did, but Nolan always feared he'd cross that line.
"Stop yelling at her!" Nolan shouted, coming around to stand between the two. At five foot ten, Nolan was eye to eye with his father, and served as an effective wall between the man and the tiny slip of a girl. Richard O'Connell briefly reeled back from the sudden intrusion of his personal space, but he recovered quickly.
"Get out of my face Nolan." Richard warned him lowly, eyes dark with anger. "I'm talking to your sister."
"No, your shouting at her for no good reason! What's wrong with you this time?"
The girl let out a small gasp. Nolan's face was forced to the side, his cheek turning red. Richard still had his hand up after delivering the teeth-shaking slap to the boy.
"Don't you dare talk back to me Nolan." Richard said, lowering his hand slightly, his voice and eyes icy cold. "I am your father and you will show me respect." Shifting his gaze, Richard redirected his attention to the quivering thing hiding behind the boy. "Aine," the girl flinched, "don't let me catch you slacking off again. We're having company tonight, six people; they'll be here by six thirty. I'm expecting you to have dinner ready and the house cleaned before they get here."
Nolan and Aine both glanced at the clock on the wall.
"But, it's already nearly four thir-"
"No excuses!" Richard snapped. His point made, he stomped off. Nolan and Aine were quiet for a few seconds, until they heard the door to the garage open and close. They were alone for the moment, at least until tonight. It would have been too much to expect the family patriarch too actually help prepare for his own party. The only reason he was having people over at all, Nolan suspected, was so that he could show off how much he had. Richard was a CEO of TechnoMain, and was paid well for it, something he enjoyed showing off every chance he had. Too bad he didn't hold a generous spirit towards his own children, beyond making sure they were presentable to others.
"You alright Aine?" Nolan asked, turning around to face the smaller girl. 14 year old Aine nodded, using the back of her hands to wipe her eyes.
"I was…I finished the laundry early, I thought I had some free time. I was just…I didn't think Dad would mind if I just read a little, so long as I was quiet."
Nolan glanced around the room, and spied the hardcover book lying on the floor by the wall, looking like it had been thrown. That explained the banging sound he heard earlier.
"I don't…I don't even know what he expects me to make or…" Aine continued, trying to hold back the tears. Nolen pulled her close into a gentle, warm hug.
"Shush Button," he said, using Aine's old nickname. "Since Dad's not here to get on my case, I'll help you, okay? We'll look online for something quick and easy so Dad won't complain, and I'll run to the store for anything we need. That sound good to you?"
Aine nodded against her brother's chest. "Times like this…" she mentioned, her voice slightly muffled by Nolan's shirt, "I wish Mom was still here. Dad was a lot nicer back then."
Nolan's memories flashed to the fights he watched his parents have when he was 12 and Aine was asleep and ignorant of it all, his father shouting and always angry, his mother meekly taking it all and trying to apologize, but it wasn't enough, no it was never enough-
Nolan said nothing, but held Aine a little tighter.
They ended up making a chicken and lemon pasta dish with tomatoes and a Caser salad. Aine wasn't sure if they were expected to make dessert or not, but just in case the girl whipped up some batter for crepes and chopped up some strawberries. Crepes filled with ice-cream, fruit, and topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce was bound to appeal to anyone. Hopefully.
While Aine added the finishing touches to the meal, Nolan cleaned the kitchen as they went so Aine wouldn't have to do it later. Of course, he was only able to do this because Richard wasn't there. The man had strict ideas of gender-roles, and while he fully expected Aine, as the only female left in the home, to keep up ALL the household chores and cooking by herself, heaven forbid he catch Nolan helping her. The chicken was cooking in the oven by the time they heard the door open and shut again, and Nolan swiftly exited the kitchen, though he made sure to wait by the doorway, just in case Aine needed him again.
Richard came into the kitchen, and gave his daughter an expectant look.
"Chicken and lemon pasta, with a caser salad side and crepes for dessert." She explained at the silent prompt. Richard scowled.
"Crepes? You couldn't do better than that? I was expecting at least a cake or a pie if you would deign to actually get off your lazy ass sometimes."
"Well what did you expect?" Nolan asked angrily, automatically stepping forward in his sister's defense. "You didn't TELL her what you wanted, and you gave her less than two hours to do everything. What do you want, a friggin' miracle?"
"I WANT Aine to do what she's supposed to!" Richard snapped. "It's too late now, so I'm just going to have to stick with it. But you, Aine, I expect you to stick around and serve everyone and take their plates away, and to refill everyone's glasses. Nolan, don't you dare show your head. I'm not going to have you embarrassing me."
"Fine, not like I want to talk to your friends anyway." Nolan retorted. Really, the people his father associated with were all assholes. Those of a feather and all. At least they didn't bother Aine. At dinners like these, they usually ignored the designated server (more often than not Aine, unless she was on her sickbed) and went about their conversations and admirations of Richards newest acquisitions or monetary windfall or what have you.
Why did the least deserving people get the best of luck?
The guests had come, had eaten, and Aine had played her role of a submissive servant yet again, while Nolan hid in the kitchen, partly to keep her company, mostly acting as sentinel, just in case. While nothing has ever happened yet, you never know when Richard might lose his patience for whatever trivial matter in front of his guests, and he wanted to be ready to protect Aine from that. She was a delicate girl, soft and gentle in personality as her name was on the tongue, and he didn't want her to be hurt worse than she could manage.
Their mother had been a gentle woman as well. Look what happened to her.
The air whistled by and burned hot around my pod, and the misty white clouds gave way to reveal the brown and green earth below, colored grey and black by streets and buildings. So close to impact, any adjustments to my descent were limited in options and effectiveness.
The humans had expanded far, and as a result there were few places I could land without causing destruction and risking human life and injury.
This was no good. Where could I land? Where could…oh!
The lake was close, wide and deep. I could not avoid being noticed completely, not when it was still daylight and the lake edge surrounded by buildings and dwellings, but it was safest for the humans and would suit my purposes just fine.
I made the necessary adjustments, and headed down toward the icy, dark waters that awaited me, aiming for least populated lake side I could reach.
So long as I was able to avoid being seen by humans directly, and found a suitable alt mode, everything would be fine.
As I passed by over head, I caught glimpses of one or two isolated homes, far from the rest of the city.
Yes, one of those would suite my purposes perfectly.
Dinner was winding down, and Aine was just taking the dirty plates away to clear room for dessert. Then it happened.
Nolan had been looking out the window over the sink, which happened to be facing the lake. The sun was setting, sitting on the horizon, shining on the shifting waters. Quite peaceful, and very beautiful, he could admit. So it was quite a surprise when something large and flaming fell from the sky and crashed – not fell - crashed into the water with a boom and a splash.
"What the hell?!" Nolan shouted, back pedaling away from the window. His surprise went unnoticed, seeing as he wasn't the only one who saw the giant meteorite (for what else could it have been?). From the dining room, he could hear surprised exclamations and some panicked ones too.
"What the hell was that?!"
"Did anyone see what it was?"
"I did! Through the patio doors! I think it was a comet-"
"Sounded more like a bomb to me…"
"Is it an attack?"
"A comet, a huge comet, it went into the lake-"
"No way, it's too big, the governments probably behind it-"
"You sure it wasn't an attack? Maybe we should hunker down somewhere…"
Aine was suddenly leaning over the sink, trying to look out the small window and see what the commotion was, all in vain. The waters were still rippling, but the meteorite had disappeared under the surface. But some steam from the hot space debris was still wafting upwards, so it didn't disappear without a trace. Nolan himself hadn't moved from his new position against the kitchen island, still staring out the window in shocked disbelief. A part of him wanted to be scared, but another small part, the part that hadn't yet been forced into adulthood prematurely, was crowing just how awesome this was.
As one, all the adults were hurrying to the door, clamoring about going down to the lake and maybe getting a better idea of what that was. Sure, they probably could have turned on the news, but it was too soon and they had a chance to be among the first to know and see what happened. They might even have a chance to BE on the news!
Because of the houses proximity to the lake, it was decided that a walk would be faster and more straightforward than a drive, which meant everyone was quick to disappear. Nolan hovered in the kitchen, trying to look calm and collected, like having a huge meteorite landed practically in his back yard wasn't anything to get excited about. Aine wasn't fooled for two seconds.
"You don't need to stay with my Nolan." She told him matter-of-factly. "I'd rather stay here, but I'll be just fine alone. You go on ahead."
"It'll give me a chance to catch up on the dishes, before they have a chance to overflow. I could use the break anyway. Just tell me how it goes when you get back."
Still Nolan hesitated, torn between his sense of duty and his youthful curiosity. Aine smiled and playfully pushed him towards the door. "So long as you don't let Dad see you, I give you my full permission to go enjoy yourself. You stay in here much longer, and I'll be forced to roll you down to the lake myself."
Nolan gave a mock long-suffering sigh. "Well when you put it like that, how can I refuse?" With a grin he gave his sister a quick peck on the forehead. "I'll tell you all about it when I get back, assuming something actually happens."
Aine lightly laughed and scooted her brother out the door. He was off like a bullet, hurrying down to the lake before whatever show that might be going on had a chance to end. Aine watched him go until he was a fair distance away before going inside to clean up the kitchen and get the dishes going. Richard's guests were going to be back later, for their cars if nothing else, and if they decided they still wanted dessert Aine would have to be ready for them.
The sun continued to get lower and lower, and everyone still hadn't come back. By there a small crowd had gathered by the lake shore, and there was even a boat on the waters heading towards where the meteorite had fallen while a helicopter circled around, probably getting footage for the evening news. Aine herself had cleaned up as much as she could, without knowing whether or not she'd be serving the crepes later. With a rare moment of free time, she decided to bring her book into the kitchen and try and pick up where she left off.
Aine glanced at the garbage, which Nolan had forgotten to take out the evening before. Really, she was mildly surprised no one had noticed yet. Well, she might as well take it now and save her older brother the trouble.
Carrying the full trash bag over her shoulder Santa-style, Aine navigated her way out the door and around the house, dumping the trash in the large blue receptacle located on the side of the house. Come to think of it, the garbage was being picked up tomorrow. While she was out here, she might as well bring the bins out to the curb.
With that in mind, she cheerfully lifted the latch that kept the gate closed and pulled the trash receptacle out, pulling it behind her as she led it to the curb, already anticipating some mild difficulties getting around the cars that filled the driveway and the street.
Something impossibly tall and metal was kneeling on the driveway, staring at one of the said cars intensely, leaning forward and using one of its hands to hold itself steady, the other folded on its knee.
Aine stopped in mid step, her hands going numb and loosening their grip on the receptacle handle. For the longest time she couldn't move, couldn't blink, couldn't breathe as she tried to comprehend what she was looking at into something more sensible.
She could only see its profile, but the tall metal….thing was human shaped, with two arms, two legs, and a rather ornate head. The body itself was long and slim, made up of dark twisted metals. As irrational as it was, Aine got the distinct sense that it was naked, or at least bare. In the fading light it looked both vulnerable and magnificent…and incredibly terrifying.
The receptacle finally yielded to gravity and fell from her hands, falling against the cement with a bang that sounded as loudly as cannon fire in a canyon.
The creatures head whipped around, and Aine was trapped under the scrutiny of its glowing blue eyes. The girl froze, a primitive part of her brain hoping that, if she stayed absolutely still and quiet, the creature would forget she was there and move on, and not squish her under its foot because dear god she wouldn't be able to get away if she ran and if it wanted to kill her it'd be so easy so easy can't runcan'trunohpleaseohpleasedon'thurtmeplease-
The creature slowly, ever so slowly, straightened to its full height, which pushing twenty feet at least, not that Aine was in the right frame of mind to be making accurate guesses. It held its hands up, and took a step back. Then another, and another, until suddenly it bent down and, with an accompany of clicking's and moving metals, electricity crackling over its entire frame, shifted from a twenty foot robot to a sleek car right before her eyes.
Wide eyed, Aine could only watch as the fake car drove away in the fading light and disappeared around the bend. She spent several long, silent seconds just staring at it, until her eyes sent up protests and she was forced to start blinking again.
Trash forgotten, Aine ran/stumbled back into the house, slamming the door behind her. Her shaky knees finally gave way and she sank to the floor against the door, her heart thudding so hard it was ringing in her ears. Her entire body was trembling, whether in fear or simply shock she couldn't say. Last but not least, her cognitive senses came back online.
"Oh. My. GOD!!"
Nolan was at the lake side for nearly two hours, and he was able to see everything that happened.
This amounted to a big fat NOTHING.
Sure, there was a small crowd, and the meteorite got a lot of attention, but nothing came of it. No one knew what had happened to it, whether anything was left, or even where it was. The officials that were combing the lake bottom were coming up with zip, zero, nada, and they were about to call it a night. Nolan was sure they'd be back in the morning, probably with more sophisticated equipment, but that was all the excitement for today, and he was going to have to hurry it up if he wanted to get back home before his dad and friends got there first. He couldn't deny feeling disappointed, but at least he had a little adventure, and Aine got to have some peace to herself for once.
Nolan stopped. This was weird; the trash bin was halfway down the driveway. If Aine was taking out the trash, why didn't she leave it on the curb?
Maybe she figured she'd empty the trash in the other rooms and was planning on coming back. He reasoned, though it didn't sit well with him. He entered the house a little more hurriedly than he strictly needed to, calling out "Aine? You there?"
Feeling a mild panic beginning to rise up, Nolan came further in and raised his voice. "Aine? Aine? You ok? Where are you?"
Nolan released his breath in relief, and headed her way. "You had me worried for a sec Button, don't-"
Nolan stopped. Aine was putting the dishes away, but she was pale, gave no indication that she could even hear him, and her hands were trembling like leaves in a storm. As Nolan watched, the plate slipped from her weak grasp and shattered on the floor. Aine jumped in startled, and stared at the shards stupidly.
Now Nolan was really worried. He took Aine by the shoulder and gently but firmly forced her to face him, to look at him. "Aine, this is gonna sound like a stupid question, but is anything wrong?"
"N-no, nothing's wrong, not really, I'm, I'm just tired is all." Aine said, after a second's hesitation. That hesitation spoke volumes to Nolan, and his mind went back to the trash bins.
"Aine, were you the one that left the bins on the driveway?"
The girl opened her mouth to speak, but nodded instead, looking distinctly uncomfortable.
"Okay then. So why did you leave them there…" Nolan's voice trailed off, as a scenario built itself in his mind.
Aine was taking out the bins, but stopped halfway and came back inside. She was clearly upset, but didn't want to say anything. In Protective Big Brother World, that added up to one thing, and it made his gut twist until he felt like he was torn between being sick and being outraged.
"Oh my god. Aine, did some guy try to hurt you?" Nolan asked, his voice (unintentionally) taking on a sharp edge of anger that promised retribution of the most painful sort to the deserving one.
Aine blinked and, once she realized what Nolan was getting at, rapidly shook her head.
"No no no no, it's like that. Nobody tried talking to me or kidnapping me or…or something. I'm just a little tired, I haven't been sleeping well lately. Really, I'm alright." Aine offered up a weak smile and placed her small hands on Nolan's, which were still on her shoulders. "I'm fine. You don't need to worry about me, really."
Nolan was not convinced, but he was willing to back off for the moment. If she wasn't ready to tell him what had her so upset right away, fine. He could wait. He also made a mental note to double check that all the doors were locked tonight. Maybe even dead bolted, just in case Richard's extensive security systems picked tonight to fluke out on them.
And when Nolan finished pulling the trash bins to the curb so Richard wouldn't have an excuse to get mad at them, he kept a sharp eye out for any prowlers or potential predators hiding near his home.
That certainly could have gone better, but I couldn't complain. At least the little organic hadn't panicked and started screaming. The last thing I needed right now was to have the entire community on before, before I could scan a vehicle for my disguise.
I lifted a hand to the com link in my head, hoping to be able to improve the reception if I fiddled with it. Loud static was my reward, and I quickly shut it off. No good. The rough landing had damaged it beyond my ability to repair.
I had made my choice to avoid harming any locals, and I did not regret it - but I had forgotten to take into account the effect of going from the intense heat of reentry to the cold lake waters on my more delicate systems. In particular, my com links and, now that I had a moment's peace to perform a self-diagnostic, my scanners and ability to access the organics information systems. I couldn't contact anyone, I couldn't orient myself, and I didn't even know how to get to where I needed to go from here…wherever here was. I was, for all intents and purposes, blind, mute and, if I am going to be honest, lost. I could not even create a hologram to interact with the humans, having never been outfitted with an emitter.
I fisted my hand, the only outward sign of my annoyance. I was close, so painfully close, yet so far away from where I had to be, from-
I could not let my thoughts wander there, lest I forget about the here and now. I was alive, in one piece and in relatively good condition. I would simply do what I have always done, and adapt. I have become quite good at that, if nothing else.
If I was going to make it to the new Autobot base, I knew, I was going to need help. My options in that area, though, were slim. All I had available to me were the humans, but I could not just randomly pick one and hope for the best.
I recalled the young female that saw me scanning the vehicle in front of her home. I have no doubt I frightened her, but she had remained calm and did not try to run or attack me.
Perhaps I should try approaching her again.
AN: Since this is my first story, and I have to juggle school and work in the real world, I don't want to make any promises as to how often or how quickly I'll be able to update. But I'll try to be as timely as I can, and if this story is reasonably well recieved, I'll try even harder.
BTW, Aine's name is Irish, and it's pronounced "Awn-ye."