Dear sweet Jesus... This school year was extremely harsh for me, from classes from Hell to deaths of people close to me to being deceived over and over again by people I thought were my friends... It was really tough. But I've pushed through it and mustered up some inspiration to write again. I made a chapter longer than usual to at least somewhat make up for the time I've been gone. I'm terribly sorry to everyone who's been following this story, or any of my other works. If you are reading this, thank you for being patient. I really do appreciate it. I apologize, and thank you once again.

Transformers/Iron Man don't belong to me.


Chapter Seven

Fiery hot air burst up from the explosion at Bumblebee's feet, searing Val's skin the instant it made contact. The teen swallowed down the burning heat and soot as she gasped to breathe, only earning her a scorched throat as the hot air rushed into her system. Bumblebee crashed against something, most likely an Energon vat, and landed hard on his back. A clearly audible crack accompanied the snapping off of one of his door wings, soon followed by the scout's loud, static-laden screech of pain. During that split second, Val had slipped from his grasp and made a harsh impact with the floor, the horrid sound of tender flesh and bone smacking into the cold, hard ground filling both of the individuals' auditory systems.

This time, Val did scream.

White-hot pain came from everywhere; her burnt esophagus and soot-filled lungs, her back, which felt like it had shattered into a thousand different pieces, her arms, her head... The teen was paralyzed by the absolute pain, the feeling so intense that all she could do was scream bloody murder until her lungs gave out.

Bumblebee crawled over, his left leg completely gone and the rest of his body scorched black. The scout glanced down and winced at the damage; not only was his left leg gone, but half of his right leg as well. Energon was seeping from the severed fuel lines, leaving a trail of glowing blue fluid on the floor. Bumblebee's vents groaned as he switched off all the pain receptors from his waist down, slowing the Energon flow to his lower body as well. He began to frantically try and set up a com link connecting to Ratchet. The scout received a static-filled transmission confirming that the medic was on his way. Apparently the Decepticons were retreating already. With that reassurance in mind, Bumblebee scanned the room for the being that had dared fire that missile. He just caught sight of a familiar silver Audi burning rubber down the hallway in a hasty getaway. The scout growled furiously and vowed to regain vengeance on the mech before focusing his attention on his injured charge.

Val was barely convulsing in pain, strangled wails of agony escaping her singed throat. Bumblebee, clueless as to what to do, pulled himself over the teen in a protective position, all the while scanning over Val's internals. The girl wasn't in good shape from what he could tell.

A few moments later, a bright yellow Hummer sped inside, not even bothering to stop as he transformed. A blue ray emitted from the elder mech's optics as he scanned over Bumblebee. "You—"

"No." The youngling dragged himself backwards to reveal Val's injured form. "Her first."

Ratchet's optics widened as he surveyed the teenager's now still form. "Dear Primus…" he muttered, a whole list of injuries scrolling down the right side of his internal scanner. The medic didn't even make it halfway through the list before he started to carefully pick up the injured teen. "We need to get her to the med bay immediately," he murmured, trying to keep the worry out of his voice. It would not bode well if he told the scout just how life-threatening the injuries were. The medic glanced down at Bumblebee with hardened optics. "As well as you." Bumblebee grabbed on to a nearby Energon vat and began to pull himself up, attempting to stand. Ratchet immediately held up a hand. "Stop. Don't strain anything," he warned. The scout gave a small confused click before slumping back against the surface of the vat, his dirtied golden helm bowing in defeat.

Ratchet held Val close to his chest and connected to Ironhide's com channel. Ironhide, report to the Energon storage chamber. Bumblebee needs a transport to the med bay. The medic stood and quickly started out of the room, holding Val very carefully. If he jarred her anymore… Ratchet would rather not think of what could possibly happen. A snarling Ironhide brushed past the medic, obviously peeved that Starscream had gotten away. Ratchet hissed and snapped at the mech in Cybertronian, instantly scanning over Val for anymore recently acquired injuries. Ironhide merely rolled his optics at the mech before gingerly picking up Bumblebee. The scout crossed his arms and started to click quietly to himself, only silencing when Ironhide gave him a warning look.

Curses of both the English and Cybertronian language began to fly out of Ratchet's vocal processor as Val fell unconscious, heart rate becoming erratic. He hunched over the teen's form so no one could scan over her and darted to the med bay as fast as he could without adding to the human's list of injuries. If Bumblebee found out what was happening…

Ratchet gently placed the teen's frail form on a berth he normally used for the injured NEST soldiers and activated his holoform beside her, his mech self gathering medical supplies while the holoform began to quickly hook Val up to an oxygen supply and the other necessary devices to improve her chances of survival. The medic didn't bother to look as Ironhide burst in with a frantic Bumblebee. After he had gathered all of the needed supplies, Ratchet paused for a moment and glanced back at the two. Bumblebee was still trying to get out of Ironhide's grasp, desperately trying to see how Val was doing. The medic went back to his work and quietly murmured, "Ironhide, you know where the sedatives are."

Bumblebee's optics widened and he began to protest, squirming in the bigger mech's grip as he tried to get away to check on his charge. Ironhide grunted as the scout delivered a blow to his side, but kept a firm grip on him as he grabbed the sedative injector. "Sorry 'Bee," he murmured solemnly before injecting the liquid sedative into the young scout's system. Bumblebee continued to struggle for a few more seconds before succumbing to the sedative's power and falling limp in his elder's arms. Ironhide sighed and shook his helm before looking back at Ratchet.

The medic was deep into his work now, beginning his desperate attempts to at least keep the human's internal systems stable. He swore loudly, throwing a scalpel to the floor, and looked up at Ironhide, a grim expression on his face. "I… I can't save her."

The weapons specialist's expression hardened. He knew that wasn't it. Ratchet would never say anything if he was about to lose a patient, and he would most definitely not be so calm. "You know of a way to save her, don't you? What are you hiding?" he asked suspiciously, blunt as always. The yellow-green mech remained quiet for a few moments before sending all the modifications and blueprints of his plan to Ironhide, awaiting the other's opinion. Ironhide's optics narrowed as he read over his comrade's suggestion. It seemed much too thought out to have been created on the spot. Ratchet cut off the mech before he could say anything. "I'll explain later. Now should I go through with it?" Ironhide straightened and looked his fellow soldier in the optic. "Do you think you can do it?" he questioned. The medic nodded once, replying, "Yes." The black mech crossed his arms and nodded back. "Then do it."


The said teen groaned softly and shifted, wincing as something pricked her side. "Watch the IV, child," warned a familiar voice. Giant metal fingers rearranged the teen's form so she was in a more comfortable position. Val winced and slowly opened her eyes. Blue optics met her gaze. A couple pairs of blue optics, actually.

Ironhide was the first to speak. "Congratulations, kid. You just made it through a surgery by Ratchet," he said with slight sarcasm. The black mech was pushed out of view by a peeved-looking Ratchet. He clicked a few curses at the weapons specialist in his native tongue before looking back at Val. "Valerie, do you have feeling in your arms and legs?" he queried.

With a small grunt of pain, Val closed her hands into limp fists and wiggled her feet a little. "Y-Yeah..." she croaked. The teen just wanted to sleep some more, but with the way Ratchet was prodding and poking at her limbs, that wasn't going to happen any time soon.

"Huh… I can't believe it actually worked," said a deep, unfamiliar voice. A silver mech with a much smaller stature than all the others slipped forward to inspect the teen at a closer perspective, despite his medic's barking orders to stay away from the patient. "It looks funny… Are you sure you did that right, Doc?" he asked, glancing over his armored shoulder at the fuming lime-green Hummer.

Ratchet pulled Sideswipe back with one hand, yanking the mech away from Val's berth and almost literally tossing him onto a different medical berth. "Sit there and stay there, Sideswipe," growled Ratchet, holding a wrench in one hand. The Corvette slid back a little on the berth and raised both servos in a surrendering position. "Hey now, easy with the medical tools... You don't want to show your violent side to the human child, do you?" asked Sideswipe in a mock-frightened tone.

The lime-green mech grumbled and went back to collect some of the datapads containing copies of Val's scans, and of the original blueprint for her procedure. "If you keep it up, the girl is going to see my violent side and more very soon," grumbled the medic.

Sideswipe merely snickered in response, a triumphant grin plastered on his facial plates.

Val watched the small exchange with slight amusement before resting back and closing her eyes. Whatever Ratchet had done, it had made her extremely tired and sore all over. They kept saying something about a procedure of some sort, a surgery, but what kind of surgery? All she remembered was a big explosion…


The said medic paused in his work and briskly walked over to Val, instantly scanning over her. "Is there something wrong? Are you feeling pain?" questioned the mech. Val slightly shook her head. "No, no. I just have a couple questions."

Ratchet relaxed back and nodded at the teen. "Proceed."

"Um, first, how bad was I hurt? And second… Where are Bumblebee and my dad?"

Ratchet paused for a moment before compiling all of the teenager's injuries into a simple explanation. "You received third degree burns over a great majority of your body, fractured your skull, basically snapped your spinal cord, shattered almost all your limbs, and broke about five ribs, two of which pierced your right artery and left lung." That wasn't all that had happened to Val, but the medic didn't feel it was necessary to go into too much detail; it wasn't like she would understand it anyways. He moved forward and very gently nudged her right arm, once again moving the teen's position. "I had to go through… far, and risky lengths to save you, Valerie. It was something that I've never done before, but if I hadn't, you wouldn't be here right now. Or you would, but you wouldn't be able to speak or move," murmured Ratchet in an uneasy tone.

Val's eyebrow knitted together as she watched the medic. He seemed to be worried about something, but the girl couldn't quite figure out what. "Ratchet… What are you talking about?" she asked, looking up at the mech with confusion.

"Haven't you seen the old-timer's handiwork yet? Those things you have are just replacements whipped up in thirty of your Earth minutes, but the real stuff he's making… It's actually pretty fraggin' amazing, I must admit. Kinda weird for a human, but still cool." Sideswipe shifted on his berth so that he was facing the human teen. "I just can't believe he actually got your nerves to calibrate with the—"

The loud, pinging sound of metal on metal rang throughout at the med bay, accompanied by varied curses and reprimanding from Ratchet. Once the medic was able to get Sideswipe to silence his vocal processor and behave, Ratchet turned back to a thoroughly confused Val. "To put it simply, some of your organic parts were pretty much destroyed, and I had to replace them," he stated.

Val exhaled sharply and narrowed her eyes at the medic, looking at him with slight anxiety. "W-With what?" she stuttered.

The medic's answer was simple. "Those."

Ratchet's large but practiced servos carefully lifted the bedding sheet that was previously covering Val from the neck down to reveal the medic's work.

Smooth, silver metal took place of what used to be Val's arms and legs, as well as a good portion of her upper torso. Wires, circuits, and whatever else Ratchet had installed in her limbs were tightly compact, like normal muscles, but were bulky and looked too Cybertronian for the teenager's like. Her digits were long and claw-like, seeming to be able to cut through anything if she touched it; and her legs appeared bird-like, extremely thin at the ankles and looked like they were meant to bend backwards. Bloodied bandages were wrapped tightly around the areas where her organic skin and flesh met pure Cybertronian metal. Random little mechanisms spontaneously whirred within the mechanics of the teenager's new appendages as she began to tremble. Val's breath hitched, a horrified expression consuming her facial features.

Before Val could fit in a word, Ratchet stepped forward and replaced the bed sheet, blocking the teen's view of her prosthetic limbs. "Before you start to hyperventilate, let me explain. Those are just temporary replacements until I can figure out how to calibrate the other prosthetics to respond to the nerve signals sent out by your brain. I assumed that having at least something there would be better than nothing at all," explained the mech in a calm vocal tone. He figured that keeping the girl in a calm atmosphere would possibly help take the edge off of her own emotions.

Val sank back into the makeshift bed of sterilized sheets and took deep, shaky breaths as she tried to comprehend what was going on. It sounded like she broke just about everything in her body except for her brain; great. Apparently, she had lost both her arms and legs to the explosion; even better. And now she looked like a cyborg freak straight out of a horror film; just fantastic.

The teen bit her lip as she slowly lifted her arms up, each move slow and clunky. What was left of her organic shoulder ached in pain, but she continued to lift the bed sheet until it slipped and softly fell into her lap. Val concentrated harder on her movements, maneuvering her new arms down and gently clamping the sheet in her claws. Steadily, the teen brought the piece of fabric back up, but at the last moment, it slipped out of her grasp and flitted back into her lap.

With a sigh, Ratchet moved forward and gently helped Val sit up, bunching up a pile of sheets behind her to serve as a backrest for the girl. He gingerly picked up the bed sheet in her lap with his thumbs and forefingers, and glanced down at Val. The teenager looked completely miserable, her eyes filled with tears and her expression displaying plain despair. His holoform activated beside the human and carefully opened her servos, placing the white fabric in her palm before closing them tightly around the material.

Val slowly brought the fabric to her face and tilted her head down, hiding her ashamed face from the mechs in the med bay. She could feel them watching her every move, especially Ratchet. The medic was sure to be analyzing and taking note of her every reaction and motion. The teen began to take deep breaths as she closed her eyes and willed herself to calm down. There was no need to break down in front of the mechs; it would just prove that she was a weak little human and had little reign over her emotions.

At the warm touch of a hand on her shoulder, the teen glanced up. Ratchet's holoform was looking down at her with an expression of sympathy. "As for your other question," he began, "Bumblebee is currently in recharge on—"

"Ah, not anymore, Doc," interrupted Sideswipe.

Ratchet's holoform scowled and crossed his arms, grumbling a few curses under his breath as he disappeared. The medical mech turned around and searched for the scout's bright yellow armor.

Bumblebee was situated beside Sideswipe, giving the medic a sheepish grin as he began to scoot behind his silver comrade. Sideswipe rolled his electric blue optics, but made no move to stop the youngling's pitiful attempt to hide behind him.

With a sharp exhale of his vents, the neon yellow-green mech swiftly grabbed a small wrench and chucked it in their general direction. A satisfying clank rang throughout the air, followed by a small electronic yelp. Ratchet walked over to Bumblebee, who was currently rubbing the new dent in his helm with a pouty expression. "Next time I tell you to stay in bed, I expect you to do so," he scolded, arms crossed over his chassis. The medic took a quick peek back at Val, who was still looking downright depressed, before switching over to his com link. Look, Valerie is going through something very tough for a human her age, and she's going to need a slag of a lot of support. He fixated Sideswipe with a heated glare. And I swear to Primus, if you make this any harder for her… The Corvette slightly shrugged, leaning away from the medic. Hey, I think it looks cool. I never said anything negative, did I? That earned the twin with a slap to the back of his helm. While Sideswipe proceeded cursing out loud, Ratchet continued. Just… don't say anything that might offend the child. Humans are especially sensitive to the opinions of others at this age. And do not stare. Understood? Both of the younger mechs nodded and glanced at Val simultaneously before looking back up at Ratchet.

Satisfied with the results, Ratchet turned his back to the two mechs and activated his holoform beside Val once again. "As you can see, Bumblebee is just fine. He can't transform for a few days and needs to rest his legs as much as possible today and tomorrow. As for Mr. Stark…" He trailed off and gave the two younger Autobots behind him a pointed glare. Bumblebee and Sideswipe quickly looked away and turned to face the opposite side of the med bay, conversing over a private com link.

"He was… He was taken by the Decepticons. I am very terribly sorry, Valerie," murmured Ratchet in a sorrowful tone. He placed a hand on the teen's good shoulder and very gently squeezed it. "We are already searching—"

Val squirmed and shrugged off Ratchet's hand, slowly shaking her head. "No… N-No… Dad's here on base… Y-You're lying. You're lying!" she accused, eyes narrowed at the holoform. Her metal digits sliced through the thin medical berth sheet as she clenched her servos into fists. He stepped back, a solemn expression on his face. "I know it is hard to comprehend this at the moment in your condition, but…he is gone. Valerie, I am not lying to you. He was grabbed by Blackout during the retreat. None of us were in the vicinity at the time; there was nothing we could do."

The teen's rage quickly gave way to despair as her shoulders slumped, shuddering slightly as she began to heave with heavy sobs. Ratchet's holoform slowly inched closer to the girl, and once sure that she wouldn't lash out at him, he ever so gently enveloped the human in his arms. The holoform shushed her quietly, calm thanks to thousands of years of dealing with patients after issuing out heartbreaking news. Ratchet's true form glanced back at Bumblebee and Sideswipe, a weary expression on his mechanical visage. Both mechs were looking on quietly, the two Autobots frowning. The young fighters glanced at each other before their electric blue optics flickered back over to the medic and teen.

A few moments later, the scout's holoform appeared at Val's side. He sat at the teen's side and carefully stroked her cheek, wiping away her tears. His other hand gently rested on Val's servo as he watched her, pained to see his charge in such a state. Sideswipe's holoform sat on the opposite side of the berth, one hand placed on the teenager's thigh as he watched his other two holographic companions. He wasn't necessarily fond of the human or any humans in general, but Bumblebee had insisted that he do something to try and help calm the girl. Since the youngling scout was considered the little brother of the Autobot family, Sideswipe felt obliged to help him even if it meant making contact with a human.

Val blinked through her tears and glanced around her at the trio of holoforms. Each face was watching her with mixed emotions, but her gaze eventually settled on the one that was most familiar. Sobs reduced to mere sniffling, the teen closed her eyes and let her head rest against Bumblebee's hand. The holoform continued to wipe the few lingering tears still remaining on his charge's cheeks before leaning forward and softly kissing her forehead. "Don't worry. We'll get him back soon.

"I promise."