Summary: When Sam is fatally wounded in a battle, the AllSpark takes matters into its own hands, and in doing so, activates a piece of almost-forgotten Seeker programming. Oneshot.
Rating: M for gore and heavily-implied smuttage.
Disclaimer: Transformers belongs to Hasbro/Takara and Dreamworks/Paramount. Not mine.
A/N: This is a giftfic, based on her bunny in the Livejournal TF Bunny Farm, for Sanjuno on Livejournal. This was rated M for gore, but when Seekers are involved, there's gonna be some degree of smut. Heavily-implied slash near the end.
When Seekers Protect.
The battle had moved quickly, and although Bumblebee had tried to get Sam out of the way, that plan had been foiled when the ground-based Decepticons had seen Bumblebee was trying to get out of the battle zone, and decided to stop him.
Bumblebee found himself at a disadvantage, In alt-mode he was not easily able to defend himself, but his frail organic ward was inside him. Bumblebee had to decide whether it wiser to stay as he was with Sam inside, or whether Sam would stand a better chance outside with Bumblebee fighting back in mech-form to defend him.
As another fist bounced off his roof, he made his decision. Another few blows like that would cave in his alt, with Sam still inside. He spun, opening his doors to throw Sam out, and began to transform, shouting "Run, Sam! Get to safety!"
He found himself facing Dropkick, Payload and Dead End, all more dangerous than they looked. He feinted at one, dodged another, than engaged the third in battle, hoping it was buying Sam time to run away into the streets and lose himself. Surely the slow-moving Wreckage and the small but nasty Swindle could be outfoxed by the quick and resourceful human?
He never saw what happened, too busy dealing with the trio of enemies around him, but he did hear Sam yell, a sound abruptly cut off by a thump that did not entirely drown out the sound of snapping bones and squelching flesh.
Bumblebee fired off a shot that sent Dead End sprawling, then turned to look, his optics widening and a staticky squeal escaping his vocal processor as he saw Wreckage grinning, as he lifted his big foot from the crushed mass of flesh, blood, shattered bones and clothes that had once constituted Samuel James Witwicky.
"I got him." he said in a tone comprised partly of surprise and partly of satisfaction.
Bumblebee had never before understood the meaning of the human phrase "seeing red" until that moment, and he launched himself at Wreckage, attacking with a ferocity the tank had not anticipated. Wreckage was surprised to note that Bumblebee seemed to have a strength he had never displayed before, beating him back, denting his plating and gouging his hide as he growled deep in his throat. Wreckage fell back in fear, but there was no let-up by the Autobot scout.
It was the bright flash of blue-white light that drew even the enraged, grieving scout's attention, because he recognised it as AllSpark energy. He pulled away from Wreckage, the shocked Decepticon taking the opportunity to scramble back, as Bumblebee, Swindle, Dead End, Payload and Dropkick all watched the heap of human pulp flare up like a strip of magnesium set afire.
The bright area pulsed and flickered, changed shape, grew even brighter and then faded, and the Cybertronians, Autobot and Decepticon alike, stared at it, or rather, what it had left behind.
The AllSpark had been very neat, there wasn't a trace of the organic mush left behind by Sam's messy end under Wreckage's foot. There was nothing organic in it's place at all, only a small and confused-looking blue and green sparkling, blinking blue optics as it swivelled its head around to look around at all the assembled mechs.
It clicked a bit at first, then managed to stammer out a single word.
"Sam?" asked Bumblebee, Wreckage forgotten as he took a few steps towards the sparkling. Nobody noticed the three Seekers drop from the sky, land behind them and walk over to see what everybody was staring at.
"Sam?" asked the red mech Swindle. "You mean the fleshling vermin has come back as a sparkling?"
"It seems so." Dead End said in awe. "Was it just me, or was that AllSpark Energy?"
"Who cares?" asked Swindle grinning and reaching his hands out towards the sparkling, which shied away. "All it means is that it's given me a chance to kill him as well!" He made a grab for the sparkling, which overbalanced, landing on its back with a shrill cry of fear and distress.
What happened next was so fast that nobody had time to move more than a step, including Bumblebee, who was moving to protect Sam.
Skywarp appeared with a bang of displaced air above Sam and Swindle, and seized the latter by the arms. Swindle let out a cry of shock as Skywarp angled up into the sky, the cry turning into a shriek and then abruptly cutting off as Skywarp, still holding Swindle, warped away again.
With a thud, and only enough application of his thrusters to stop himself from sustaining damage, Thundercracker landed between the squealing Sam and Wreckage, both arm-guns aimed at Wreckage's Spark-chamber. Although Wreckage was not the brightest of mechs, his response this time saved his life and Spark. The usually slow mech prostrated himself face-down, arms crossed above his head in a gesture of complete submission to the protective Seeker in front of him. Having changed his status from 'threat' to 'surrendered', Wreckage had put himself at Thundercracker's mercy, thus was no threat to the Sparkling. That was the only reason Thundercracker didn't fire, and moved one gun to point at Payload.
By that point, Starscream had landed to stand between the sparkling and Bumblebee, Payload, Dropkick and Dead End, who all, except the Autobot scout, took several steps back when they spotted the look on Starscream's face. The Air Commander crouched, one null-ray pointing at the group as his other hand reached out towards Sam. The sparkling watched the hand warily. As blue fingers wiggled in front of him invitingly, the re-made Sam clicked and reached out for them, and Starscream drew him closer to his side before picking him up and straightening as Skywarp reappeared in the sky and landed beside him.
Starscream looked at Skywarp, who took over from guarding the others as Starscream repositioned sparkling-Sam in his arms, clicking and cooing at him as the sparkling squeaked and whirred at the unfamiliar face. As Starscream turned him to examine him and check that he was okay, Sam caught sight of Bumblebee. His clicks and whistles took on a beseeching tone and he reached two short green arms out towards the Autobot scout. Bumblebee went to take a step towards him but stopped as Skywarp jerked one of his blaster-muzzles at him. Starscream turned the sparkling, whose cries had taken on a distressed note and tried to soothe him, as Payload asked "Where is Swindle?"
"Gone, probably to the Pit," Skywarp said, his blasters never wavering as he addressed Payload. "He will never threaten another sparkling again." The others looked at each other, knowing what that meant and registering the unspoken warning in Skywarp's reply.
"Skywarp, let me see him, let me see if he recognises me," Bumblebee said as Sam's cries notched up in volume and pitch as Starscream futilely tried to soothe him with clicks, coos and hums.
"You won't harm him?" asked Skywarp as Starscream turned his head to look at the yellow Autobot.
"I was Sam's guardian, I would never harm him and I would never harm any sparkling, no matter whose it was or what its Creators had done. What sort of mech do you take me for?" Bumblebee asked, shocked.
Starscream nodded to Skywarp. "Let him approach," he said. Bumblebee spread his arms to show the twitchy Skywarp that he was unarmed, and slowly stepped forwards. The sparkling's little blue optics found Bumblebee's face and the cries decreased, and he stretched his arms out again. Bumblebee extended his arms and Starscream, with obvious reluctance, relinquished Sam to Bumblebee.
Sam quieted instantly as Bumblebee brought him to his face and hummed. He clicked and whistled happily, small sparkling hands touching and stroking the scout's silver features. Bumblebee held Sam to his chest, began running his engine gently, and Sam clicked rapidly in a sound indicating pleasure, than began to purr. His purr barely slowed as Starscream took Sam back and did similar, holding him against a wing and letting his engines start up.
At that moment the two guard-Seekers tensed, Thundercracker turning with both barrels raised to face the approaching Autobots, who had come over to find out what was happening, as the battle appeared to have just stopped, the Seekers having shot down to the ground mid-battle and not reappeared. It was Ratchet who took in the situation, his optics widening as he spotted the sparkling Starscream was cradling protectively. He moved forwards, put out both his arms to stop everybody else advancing any further, and said in a voice as sharp as a gunshot, "Everybody, power down and put away your weapons, now!"
It was said in a tone the brooked no argument and nobody disobeyed. Many of the Autobots present had never heard Ratchet speak like that before, and those who had knew that he wouldn't do so unless there as a very good reason, thus to do as he said. For a moment there was no sound save for that of weapons powering down, reconfiguring, and folding away. Ratchet did not approach, but spoke to Starscream, reaching his hands forwards slowly.
"I won't harm the sparkling, Starscream, I give you my word as an Autobot and a medic. I would, however, be interested in knowing where it came from, if you know, and would like to check it over to ensure it is healthy. It will need feeding soon, I can make up a basic formula for now, but can make more in our Base. I invite you to come with us under Protocols Four and Five of the Treaty of Iacon for the sake of the sparkling's continued health." He kept his voice low and calm, and inclined his head in a gesture of respect.
"I heard a sparkling cry and came down to defend it." Starscream explained. "I do not know where it came from but I heard Swindle threaten to kill it. We acted accordingly."
"It was-Sam was trying to-Well, Wreckage-Wreckage stepped on Sam." Bumblebee said, his voice full of emotion. "When Wreckage lifted his foot, Sam was-beyond anyone's help." The telling was obviously hard for Bumblebee, but he continued. "That is, beyond the help of all but the AllSpark. What-what was-left-lit up with AllSpark energy. When the AllSpark energy subsided, it left the sparkling behind. I believe it saved Sam by turning him into a sparkling. His colours match the clothes Sam was wearing, his hooded top and jeans."
Ratchet nodded. "As a medic, I happen to know that Seekers are all built along the same pattern, a pattern that has not changed in milennia. That includes programming that has not been activated in many vorns, programming that causes them to eliminate any perceived threat to a sparkling, and this protective programming overrides all other programming, including moral coding and constraints. A Seeker would try to kill anyone they saw as a threat to a sparkling, including a superior officer or planetary head, it wouldn't matter. No loyalty or antipathy would be involved, as long as the threat to the sparkling was removed, permanently."
The Autobots looked at each other, now Ratchet's sharp order made sense. Continuing to bear visible blades or powered-up energy weapons in front of Seekers with active sparkling-protection programming would likely have been fatal for them all.
"So…that's why Seekers were never used in an area why sparklings might have been present, and why Megatron sought to have them removed from the cities when they attacked, ostensibly to safety but in reality to be destroyed by loyal grounders?" asked Ironhide.
Ratchet nodded as Starscream's arms tightened around Sam, who squeaked in surprise. The Seeker shook as he looked at Ironhide.
"I heard rumours about that, but was told by Megatron it was just Autobot propaganda. Have you seen evidence?"
"Yes," Ironhide said. "I have seen evidence that it is not just Autobot propaganda. I saw a pile of dead sparklings." His optics flickered in distress. "We became suspicious and decided to investigate. Mirage found out the truth of what was happening and alerted us. We stormed one of the facilities some of the sparklings, including two that Chromia and I were raising, had been taken to. We had hoped to save a few, but by the time we got there, they had killed all those in that particular facility. I had to pick the bodies of our two sparklings from a pile of sparkling shells in the building we stormed." His voice grew rough and pained. "None of those involved in the killing survived either once I saw what they had done. If you want proof, I can let you connect to my processors and see my memories of the event."
Starscream abruptly handed Sam to Ratchet, all three Seekers were visibly shaken by the information they had obviously only just begun to believe might be true. "Check him, and we will accept your invitation. The sparkling's needs must come before any prejudices or grudges that exist between Autobots and Decepticons." His hands fisted as Ratchet examined the now-fretful sparkling. "Megatron lied to us about the sparklings, said they had been evacuated to safety and sent offworld in a ship for their safety. If he still lived, I would kill him myself. I will see your memories, Autobot, to be certain, but your voice has the ring of truth. If Megatron has lied to us about this, what else has he lied about?"
Ratchet nodded as he finished scanning, only half an audio on what Starscream was saying. "He is perfectly healthy, but I will mix him some formula." He handed the sparkling to a nearby pair of willing hands, which turned out to belong to Bumblebee. Sparkling-Sam cooed and snuggled into the scout's warm chest happily as Starscream watched.
"We must discuss who will care for Sam when we get to your base as well," the Air Commander stated. "He will need somebody to rear him, and perhaps a better name."
"No discussion is needed, Starscream, Sam was an Autobot supporter as a human, and my ward. As his guardian, I claim the right to rear him."
Starscream's response to that was a snort through his vents and a dropping in the pitch of his engine, which was indicative to all there that Starscream had been annoyed by the scout's remark. He did, however, keep his tone civil, although his voice was slightly more shrill and had a sharp edge to it.
"Sam is a winglet." He pointed with one digit to the small delta-wings visible on the sparkling's back. "He will need to learn flight and other things no mere grounder can teach him. That makes my wing-brothers and I the logical choice to care for him. Or would you rather he go mad because he cannot fly because he does not know how to get airborne?"
Bumblebee pulled back as if slapped. Sam cried out, sensing the tension in the scout's frame.
"I have a jet-pack, and so does Cliffjumper. We can take him up, he can learn under the Base force-field, in safety."
"Being carried is no substitute for real flight. It will stave off the sky-hunger for a short time, but in the end he will still succumb over time. I must rear him if you want the best for him."
Ratchet had heard enough.
"Shut up, both of you!" he bellowed. Sam squeaked and buried his face in Bumblebee's chest as both Starscream and Bumblebee stared at Ratchet with wide optics. Certain he had their full attention, Ratchet spoke again.
"Starscream, you are correct when you say that Sam must learn to use the body he is in, and you and your wing-brothers are best qualified to do so." Starscream flashed Bumblebee a smug grin as the Autobot scout's optics dimmed and his doorwings sagged. However, Ratchet hadn't finished.
"However, Sam does seem to be happier curled up with Bumblebee, he probably has spark-memories of him and sees him as a big brother figure, if not a Creator-figure. No, I don't think ether of you could give him what is the best for him individually. I think that together, however you could give him the best start possible."
The grin was wiped off Starscream's face as he turned to look at Bumblebee, who was giving him an equally surprised look.
"What, bring up a sparkling, as if we were bonded, or as good as?" the Seeker asked. "Me, play happy families with a groundling?" The last word almost dripped scorn.
"I can't say I'm happy playing bonded with the Decepticon leader either." Bumblebee said. "On the other hand, if that is what Sam needs, I'm willing to do it." He gave Starscream a challenging look. "Surely, that is the most important thing?"
Starscream blinked, his feelings warring between avoiding being outdone by an upstart young Autobot, and the well-being of the sparkling. His optics looked Bumblebee up and down. The scout was not so unattractive for a groundling, and those doorwings did add a certain appeal, even if they were not actually functional for flying. Additionally, Starscream had to admit a certain curiosity regarding this particular grounder, and if it was for Sam's own good…
The internal battle resolved amicably, Starscream nodded.
"Of course, it is Sam's welfare that is of utmost importance. You do realise, however, that we should spend as much time around him as possible together, so he becomes used to the both of us? I hope Protocols Four and Five are flexible enough to allow for a protracted stay at your Base. And fuel will be available at all times, for my wing-brothers and I, so we can teach Sam all the flying manoeuvres and tips we know?" he asked, more nonchalantly than he felt.
He had successfully hidden the severity of the flier's fuel shortage from the rest of the Decepticons (except Soundwave, who had agreed to keep the secret in return for being allowed to carry out his own projects) and this would also elegantly, in the short-term at least, solve that problem. He was relieved when Optimus Prime actually nodded.
"Of course, fuel will be freely available, that comes under the Treaty as a basic right," he stated. Starscream smiled and moved over to Bumblebee, stroking a finger along the glass of one doorwing before loosely clasping a hand on Bumblebee's shoulder: he felt the scout shiver at the touch, saw the wide blue optics look up at him in query, to which he responded with a very small nod. Only Ratchet noticed the exchange: he shuttered his optics and blew air silently through his vents in response.
"Then I see no problem with our arrangement, but we will still need, I think, to find an appropriate name for Sam," Starscream said, taking Sam, who had relaxed and slipped into recharge, and carefully placing him in his cockpit. Bumblebee looked concerned until Starscream turned to face him and spread his arms.
"Co-Creator-figure, would you like a lift to your Base? You would not be too heavy to carry."
"If it's no trouble, I would like that." Bumblebee said. Starscream nodded, stooping to pick up Bumblebee before turning to the other Decepticons.
"Return to our Base, tell Barricade what has happened, and clean the base up: I will see if I can negotiate terms to allow you all to come in as well." The four remaining Decepticons all transformed into their alts and rolled off.
"I would have allowed them to come in if you had asked, after all the Treaty would cover any you chose to accompany you." Optimus stated.
"Ah, but perhaps a few days waiting will temper their rebellious sides, which is all good for me." Starscream said with a wolfish smile. With that, he took off, Bumblebee clasped securely in his arms.
"What about me? That sparkling will be hungry, I need to make some formula for it," Ratchet stated. Skywarp had powered down his blasters and approached Ratchet, arms spread.
"I can get us there in an astro: we may even have time for a little overload if you are up for that," he said. Ratchet gave a snort.
"Seekers!" he huffed, but he was smiling a little as he stepped into Skywarp's embrace. Skywarp smiled, and held the medic to him.
"For such a compact little mech, you certainly carry a fair amount of mass: I think getting airborne could be problematic, I shall warp us from here," the dark Seeker said.
"Cheek!" Ratchet said. "I need all my mass for redundant systems for medical work."
Skywarp's only response was a chuckle, and then both were gone in a bang of displaced air.
"I guess we should leave, I hope I won't be the only one to miss out on some interfacing." Thundercracker groused.
"I am sure you won't." Optimus said with a small smile. Thundercracker ran an appraising optic up Optimus' frame.
"If that's an offer, well, I certainly won't be kicking you out of my berth if you crawl in." the Seeker said, giving Optimus a saucy optic-shutter-wink. Before Optimus could reply, Thundercracker had launched himself into the sky. Optimus ignored the curious looks of the other mechs: whether he took Thundercracker up on his offer or not was none of their business.
"Okay, we're heading back to Base." he said. "Autobots, transform and roll out!"
They all did so, and all headed for the Base.