This story has been nagging me since I first watched the movie a week ago (late to the party, that's me). The large majority of the first Transformers movie is told from the point of view of Sam, who doesn't know what's going on until relatively late. On the other hand, the story told from the point of view of Bumblebee would be very, very different. Here's a character that knows exactly what's going on, and has known for some time, but can't tell anyone.
Hence, a novelization fic. Which officially makes me a loser in the relative scheme of things, but I'll just throw this out there. Hopefully someone will enjoy it.
Prologue: That Don't Impress Me Much
There were good days (too few and far between: when a lead would appear in front of him, or the day when Jazz had confirmed the Allspark was, in fact, on this planet); there were bad days (when Barricade caught up to him). But mostly, there were just a lot of neutral days, driving back and forth over the continent upon which, somewhere, the Allspark waited. Bumblebee told himself jokingly that he barely remembered what his protoform looked like these days, but there wasn't much excuse –or many places – to leave his chosen alt-mode.
At the moment, he was tucked into the back corner of a subterranean parking garage in the overly active city of Las Vegas, 'licking his wounds' as a human might say. (Not that humans actually did that. Apparently their domesticated animals did.)
Four days ago Bumblebee had stumbled upon what he thought at the time was the greatest stroke of luck to ever cross his sensors: the Allspark, shining like a beacon in southwestern deserts of the continent. Overjoyed, Bumblebee had been certain that he could have flown straight to the outer reaches of this solar system under his own propulsion – and possibly foolishly, he had chosen not to waste time seeking out a good hiding place so he could send a long wave radio chatter back to the Ark, but instead rushed to find the Allspark. After all, if he knew, then the Decepticons doubtlessly did too, and Bumblebee would sooner be slagged than let Barricade beat him to it. He'd made a metaphorical beeline for the signal.
But the closer he got, the more things seemed somehow wrong. For one thing, the signal didn't seem to radiate enough strength when he got closer. He may have had other things on his mind in Tyger Pax, but the feeling of the Allspark erupting into the sky within range of his optics had felt like fire at his back. This was too controlled, and almost too concentrated. The crater the signal radiated from was actually made too recently and was too big for the Allspark to have landed here on the calculated trajectory Jazz had produced. The final warning he might have missed if he hadn't slowed down, but there were humans, and they were everywhere – here, in the middle of relative nowhere – with their guns and vehicles. They often practiced battle techniques against each other in a region no more than 500 miles from here, but this was no drill; they were waiting for … something.
Surely not harmless little me? Bumblebee had wondered with wry amusement, changing his course for someplace more secluded and with a better vantage point to perform some reconnaissance.
A single jet (Lockheed Martin F-22, Raptor design) screamed overhead, flying towards the signal the not-Allspark was giving off. Bumblebee noted the arrival and increased the range of his EM sensors in expectation of more jets, backing himself under the sparse cover of a rock formation; his sensors with wild with input from the sheer amount of magnesium and iron alloys in the ground. With an internal wince, Bumblebee dialed back his scans several notches.
There were no more jets forthcoming, even as the first F-22 began to circle back towards the crater. A half-formed idea began to take shape in Bumblebee's processors, but before he could fully appreciate the concept, the jet suddenly opened fire on the waiting humans.
If Bumblebee hadn't been in alt-mode he would have visibly jumped. A Decepticon other than Barricade! He hadn't realized that any other Decepticons had made landfall, although it had only been a matter of time with Barricade there. There were a fair number of flight-capable Decepticons out there, but only one that Barricade kept ship with. Starscream!
Of all the rotten luck. Bumblebee stayed where he was, nervous anticipation flooding his circuits. He didn't think this was the Allspark, but what if he was wrong? What if Megatron had damaged his memory banks as well and he simply didn't remember properly what the Allspark felt and sounded like? It had been a long time, after all, even by Cybertronian reckoning. He couldn't let the Decepticons get it first, no matter what. There was no time to pull back, no time for Prime and the others to land and get here.
He needed to get closer.
On the one hand, this was an extraordinarily dangerous idea with Starscream flying around and virtually no cover out in this desert landscape. On the other hand, Starscream was keeping the humans handily distracted, and the humans were probably distracting him. If he were going to get a chance, this would be it. I'll move fast, get in and out, and verify for myself. And if it is the Allspark … well, he'd probably end up dying defending it. He'd send out an encrypted chatter giving his location to the Ark if it was the last thing he did, though.
Bumblebee downshifted himself and accelerated. On his dashboard he nearly broke the speedometer indicator off its gears as he hit speeds considerably over the normal limits of a 1976 Chevrolet Camaro; he rode roughshod over the uneven, roadless desert dust. Explosions from Starscream's missiles made the ground shudder and washed out the Autobot's EM sensors, and the poppoppoppoppop of automatic weapons fire assaulted his audio circuits.
The signal of the Allspark abruptly winked out.
Bumblebee faltered at the suddenness of it. He estimated himself to be visible as a cloud of dust to the naked human eyes at the crater when he slammed on the brakes, uncertain if he wanted to throw himself into a fray over what was now empty space.
He was distracted by the sight of Starscream streaking away to the south, banking for a return run at the hapless humans (who doubtlessly thought one of their own had gone rogue or some nonsense). That was his excuse, anyway, for why he was T-boned spectacularly by a Saleen S281 modified Ford Mustang police cruiser.
Bumblebee's passenger side car door half-crumpled; he spun 1080 degrees, warning diagnostics lighting up behind his optics even as pain shuddered up what he thought of as his back. Slag! Half his sensors were rendered temporarily useless by the impact, leaving him virtually blind on his right side. He almost transformed, almost; instead he reversed and banked hard to the left, tires spinning without grip on the dusty ground.
The police car revved his engine like a gloat. Barricade. Of course. The Decepticon functioned in a role not unlike Bumblebee's, but with less 'scouting' and more 'plowing aside the inferior biological life forms until the Allspark is found'. On this planet it seemed his mission was to hunt Bumblebee down and harass the slag out of him.
To a human's ears, the sounds that emanated from the police cruiser would have been a burst of unintelligible electronic sound. To Bumblebee, it was a particularly demeaning suggestion of what his designated purpose really was, followed by a familiar declaration: "Die, Autobot!"
You first, Bumblebee thought in frustration. While he relatively certain he could probably waste Barricade in his protoform, this wasn't the time or the place, much to his disappointment, and Starscream was nearby; Bumblebee didn't fancy that two-on-one battle. He didn't bother to wait around and see if Barricade decided to go protoform; he dug his wheels in and whistled by Barricade with barely inches to spare, taking off towards the nearest road.
"Running like always, huh!?" Barricade mocked, but Bumblebee knew he'd given himself a good lead by forcing Barricade to turn to chase him. "You Autobots are all the same: fragging cowards, all of you!"
For all intents and purposes rendered mute for over ten thousand Earth years, it had been a long time since the Autobot had been able to properly exchange barbs with a Decepticon. But humans made more … creative use of airwaves than many other planetary cultures, one that Bumblebee found worked well for him.
He switched on his radio and found the desired station. "Hit the road, Jack, and doncha come back no more no more no more no more! Hit the road, Jack, and doncha come back no more!"
Barricade let out a scream of rage. "You slagging little scrap heap!" He always did seem to have the most interesting reactions to Bumblebee's music choices. Bumblebee revved his engine and poured on more speed, sprinting away on wheels. Barricade put up a good chase, but for the moment he was falling behind; the Autobot was not sure how long that would last, since he couldn't keep up this pace forever.
The scream of jet engines and a spray of bullets to Bumblebee's left made 'Bee jerk his wheel to the right, almost into a rocky outcropping he had been unable to see and unable to sense thanks to his damaged recievers. He swerved, fishtailing wildly; errors flashed and it hurt to pour on enough torque to counteract the uncontrolled movement. Starscream roared overhead, his voice Dopplered to the point that Bumblebee couldn't decipher what he said, but it didn't matter; the Decepticon had clearly shifted his focus. He arced back around to aim again from another angle.
Bumblebee could outrun Barricade and outmaneuver Starscream … individually. Together, and already marginally crippled, he had no idea how he was going to escape. But even as his spark threatened to seize in its chamber, he felt a margin of relief: the signal couldn't have been the Allspark. Starscream wouldn't be taking out his frustrations on Bumblebee if it were.
The road! Bumblebee bounced himself on his front chassis to ease the considerable gully of a runoff ditch and hit the asphalt at close to 150 miles per hour. Tires screeching, he did a complete one-eighty and tore off down the road, taking note with some pleasure how Barricade completely failed to imitate 'Bee's jump and took almost one hundred feet of burning rubber to get himself oriented the right way. "I'm going to pluck off your limbs one by one and shove them in a garbage compressor!"
"Oooh, woah, you think you're something special? Ooh, woah, you think you're something else? That don't impress me much," Bumblebee blasted on his speakers, gaining some minor amusement from the answering curse.
Bumblebee would have sent another offending song Barricade's way if Starscream hadn't pelted his hood with bullets at that moment. The Autobot banked hard and braked, screeching sideways down the middle of the deserted road and presenting Starscream with his already damaged right side. Bullet fire slammed into his door, ripping holes in his armor and sending another paroxysm of pain and errors to 'Bee's processors; Barricade was coming too fast on his left even as Starscream came in low. For a horrible, tractionless moment, Bumblebee thought Starscream was going to transform right on top of him and he wouldn't be able to turn in time to avoid another ramming from Barricade, but at the last second he managed to twist his frame away. Barricade clipped his rear fender; Starscream broke the sound barrier right over both of their hoods, creating an audio-sensor-deafening boom.
Bumblebee's energon was running so hot now that even with the significant damage to his right side and the overload to his audio sensors he believed he could have maintained his 200 mph plus speed run for breems. (His processors told him that he could hold his current speed for another 306.28 miles before he was on reserve power, and another 148.67 miles after that he would be offline whether he liked it or not.) He made a break for it as Barricade struggled to turn once again.
The Autobot probably would have made a clean getaway then if Starscream hadn't still been intent on the chase. Streaking in from his right, Bumblebee didn't register the missile that decimated the asphalt 867 feet in front of him until it exploded into a dazzling fireball and wall of smoke. 'Bee swerved hard and maneuvered to avoid flying debris, but he was forced to slow down, unsure how wide or deep the dust-cloud-obscured hole in the asphalt was.
Barricade was roaring down on top of him, not crippled by damaged sensors. Bumblebee couldn't avoid Barricade and the hole in the road both; he chose to avoid the road, rattling off the asphalt and into the smoke cloud.
Barricade rear-ended him, lifting Bumblebee's back tires right off the road for a moment. The Autobot fishtailed again as his tires hit the ground. "What, no snappy comebacks now? Don't you have anything to say, Autobot? Oh, wait – you can't talk!"
Primus, I hate him, Bumblebee thought. But in truth he was in real trouble; between Starscream and Barricade, he was pretty much a guaranteed pile of rust on the side of the road. He reconsidered transforming; at the very least he could go down with a fight. Prime would never approve, but if Bumblebee's spark was going out, well slag it all, so was Barricade's--!
But then, provenance. If Starscream had intended another pass at Bumblebee he wasn't able to get it; two new Raptor F-22 models suddenly roared into the sky, dropping down in perfect formation on either side of Starscream. With another garbled curse, the Decepticon was forced into retreat, zooming off towards the horizon. And as Bumblebee bounced and skidded back onto the road, Barricade began to drop back, cursing aloud. Some unforeseen damage, I hope, Bumblebee thought as he dug into his energon stores and roared back up to full speed.
He had lost Barricade in the highway interchange just outside of Las Vegas and limped his way down the Strip, too exhausted to properly appreciate the maximized gaudiness in all its glory; his only goal had been to find a secluded place to send a package of data to the Ark and go find a place to recharge; the last thing he wanted was for his comrades to come charging to Earth after a false, flickering Allspark signal.
The damage done by Megatron in Tyger Pax had been to his voice processors: they had been crushed beyond recognition. Humans, interestingly, had an equivalent biological component located in a similar part of their anatomy, the 'throat'. However, the functions of the voice processors were broader; in a sense, Bumblebee couldn't remember how to speak. Even if his actual voice had full function, without those critical capacitors all Bumblebee would produce would be bursts of unintelligible noise. Translation: even forms of communication that did not require direct use of his voice was reduced to pictographs or writing.
He picked and chose a selection of his memory banks of the last day for sendoff, wrote off an analysis of the data and added an apology to Ratchet, who would be less than pleased about his state of wear. Then, under the cover of darkness in the shadows of a building, he unfolded into his protoform, shot off an encrypted data stream, and too soon folded back down into the shape of a Camaro.
Now, three days later, he revved his engine experimentally, opening and closing both his doors in unison. Thankfully, none of the damage he had sustained was of a permanent nature and could be self-repaired. He ran a diagnostic on his right sensors; twenty error messages popped up, but compared to the couple hundred a few days before, the remaining damage was minor.
There had been plenty of time to think between recharge cycles. That was a trap, 'Bee acknowledged to himself. Laid for … well, that would be hard to say. Any Cybertronian, really. The humans couldn't have expected Starscream, though, or they would have been better prepared. Granted, the Autobot hadn't managed much reconnaissance before the whole thing had become a run for his life, but he estimated the trap was sufficient to catch either himself or Barricade if they dashed in without heed. While Bumblebee knew humans were aware of Cybertronian presence on their planet in a limited fashion, the trap confirmed three things: one, that humans knew the location of, or had in their possession, the Allspark. Jazz had offered that suspicion some time ago, when he had deciphered the Allspark's signal but found it oddly weak and dissipated, suggested it was well shielded. Two, that humans were able, on some scale, to harness the power of the Allspark. What use that had for biological lifeforms was hard for Bumblebee to say. Three, and perhaps most importantly, humans recognized the link between Cybertronians and the Allspark.
Knowing the humans knew where the Allspark was and finding out what the humans knew were two different things. Humans made widespread use of an information tool known as the World Wide Web, a hardwire and airborne digital cornucopia of collective knowledge. Bumblebee had downloaded English, the local dialect, from it and sent it the Ark's way, along with a more personal message: Interfacing with current technology on this planet is too easy. I suspect a Cybertronian root, likely Decepticon by their encryption base.
Optimus Prime had opined that it was Megatron. The thought was enough to send tingles down Bumblebee's circuits. Wouldn't it be just ridiculous if the last Cybertronian to see him so many vorns ago were the first to see him now, after his long absence? But Megatron would have decimated this planet long ago if something hadn't stopped him. Surely not these creatures, whose very concept of civilization went back only a fraction of Bumblebee's lifetime; something else had done it. The think-tank of Jazz, Ratchet and Optimus had decided that Megatron probably did whatever-it-was to himself on accident: most likely he had deep-frozen himself on one of the planet's poles. The kind of extreme heat needed to slag a Cybertronian body was rarely available on the surface, but below certain temperatures the circuits just shut themselves down. Humans weren't commonly at either pole, their own physiology ill-fitted for extreme weather, but somehow, at some time, they had quite likely found a frozen Cybertronian body and taken advantage of the technology it had to offer.
The final conclusion drawn was that whoever had found Megatron probably had thereafter found the Allspark. Megatron knew where it was, long before anyone else did, successfully traversing hundreds of millions of miles of space in nothing but his protoform, only to crash-land on the planet when he got there. Rather typical of him, Bumblebee snickered to himself. Thank Primus the Decepticons tended to trip over themselves and their strife so often. But with only limited expeditions to either geomagnetic end to work with, Bumblebee had someplace to start looking.
Of course Bumblebee had scoured the Internet for more information, but he had eventually come to the conclusion that wherever the Allspark and Megatron were, it was not publicly disclosed. Lead after lead had been discarded, and now Bumblebee was down to his last one: the expedition of Captain Archibald Witwicky over 100 years previous. It was a likely choice. Witwicky had 'gone mad' with claims of seeing a giant ice man in the Antarctic, which lent credit to Optimus' theories. Here the information came to an end, though; the insane asylum the man had lived in was gone, burned to the ground. Besides, the man would have been dead. Humans rarely lived much longer than a vorn. Bumblebee had tracked down his descendants, working his way methodically across the country to each of their places of residence, but this little side trip to the not-Allspark had left him closest to Tranquility, Nevada, home of Ronald Witwicky, father of Samuel Witwicky, grandson and great-grandson of Archibald Witwicky.
Bumblebee quietly started his ignition and rolled out of his chosen parking space, starting back up towards the surface and taking advantage of the navigational websites available to track a path to Tranquility. It's always in the last place you look, 'cause you wouldn't keep looking if you found it, he mused.
Easing onto the road, sensors alert for a familiar police car, the Autobot joined the stream of cars out of Las Vegas, one in a million to nearly anyone who cared to look.
To be continued
Events in this chapter are based on information from Transformers: The Movie Prequel by IDW comics. Blackout was also present for the attack on the 'ambush' attempt, but you can assume Bumblebee never laid optics on him. Music credits go to Shania Twain (That Don't Impress Me) and Ray Charles (Hit the Road Jack).
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