Title: Nemesis Theory
Disclaimer: Transformers and all related characters therein do not belong to me. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: The Nemesis Theory holds that the destruction of Earth is inevitable by some outside source. Sam is unwilling to accept the fact that it is him.
Spoiler Warning: Only for the various trailers of Transformers II: Revenge of the Fallen, which pretty much everyone here has seen.
Author's Note: This is pretty much a flashfic—I got the scene into my head and it wouldn't go away until I had it written. It was composed in the space of about an hour, so please forgive any instances of it not making sense (the whole thing, maybe?)
Imagine a star. Imagine it a dark and quiet companion for the Earth's own sun, orbiting on the outer edge of the solar system.
Most stars in the universe are binary systems, and for the Sun to be solitary is unusual. But, perhaps it is not alone. Some believe that there is another star, a brown dwarf, a failed ignition, hovering beyond the farthest planet and invisible to telescopic eyes. The theory of this second star envisions its orbit intersecting with the Oort Cloud, a mysterious belt of cosmic debris that is the source of comets. The second star is theorized to pass through the Oort Cloud every 26 million years—the same interval of time during which extinctions on Earth occur due to meteor impact.
Perhaps the companion star knocks debris out of the Oort Cloud, sending them on a lethal collision course with the inner planets of the solar system. No one is sure if this star truly exists or not, but it, one whose mere existence results in chaos and destruction, has been given a name.
Sam was willing to accept that he had earned some cosmic karma for his role in the death of Megatron and subsequent alteration of an intergalactic war that had been waging for millennia. In all honesty, however, he had thought that the retribution had already occurred, having taken the form of Bumblebee's genuine hurt when Sam had told him that he would not be coming along to college. Sam had borne the endless sniffles and blues music because he knew that he had deserved it.
But this? This was uncalled for, though Sam could appreciate karma's penchant for elegance, simplicity, and cruel irony.
Bumblebee was back in his parents' garage, having locked himself in earlier in the evening, and listening to B.B. King's 'The World is Gone Wrong' on repeat. Sam, then, had had to walk Mikaela home after dinner, which was a solid three miles away even with the shortcuts. The distance also meant that it turned dark as he walked back home, the summer sun vanishing behind Tranquility's modest skyline. There had still been little cause for worry, though. Sam had walked this path several times before, as Miles lived in the same direction, and the outersprawl of Tranquility's metropolis, where city met suburb, was largely abandoned and quiet at night.
It was, apparently, the perfect opportunity for which Barricade had been waiting.
Hey, don't be like that. The guardian thing…it's done. You're an Autobot; you're wasting away here.
Sam had turned down an alley, with the intent on squeezing through the broken chainlink fence and heading across the weedy backlot of a warehouse that bordered a small patch of woods, on the other side of which was the road to home. He had not been expecting to see the dark, sleek form of a police car sitting in his path, its lights off and interior empty, with sheer menace seeping through every seam in the metal.
The guardian thing…it's done.
Damn it, Witwicky.
For the first few seconds, Sam could have sworn that he felt his heart skip and stutter, his stomach twisting in painful knots has he realized that there was nowhere to run. He was most definitely alone, with karma laughing its ass off at him.
Sam fully expected death to come within moments; he knew it with as much certainty as a skydiver knew what was coming when his parachute failed to open at 3,000 feet. So much more was the surprise, then, as Barricade remained still, neglecting to transform and squish Sam into an organic smear on the pavement. He was quiet enough that Sam almost questioned whether the car was Barricade; only the cursive edict along the fender and distinctive seal on the door gave the Decepticon away for what he truly was.
Only after a seemingly endless standoff, just as confusion was beginning to replace terror, did Barricade speak and break his silence.
"You touched it."
The voice was the same. It was still deep and grating, overlaid by a metallic twang that echoed in intimidating ripples between the alley walls, but the words were so far beyond what Sam expected that he gaped, complete bewilderment rooting him to the spot.
"The All Spark. I can smell it on you," Barricade clarified, even as he stumbled, ever so slightly, over the word 'smell,' as if he were unsure of the translation, or if there were another, better word to choose of which he was unaware.
"What—what do you want?" Sam managed, the words sticky in his throat as he tried to think of something—anything—to say in so dangerous and bizarre a situation. He thought, oddly enough, of Mikaela, who demanded to know a person's motivation before anything else about them, and his mind had latched onto doing the same.
"You removed your Autobot guardian from duty," Barricade continued, ignoring Sam's rather feeble demand. "Can't say I blame you. But you'll have no such authority over me."
Even as he bristled at the slur against Bumblebee and the still raw confrontation between them, Sam blinked at Barricade's last, bitter statement.
"I am your assigned guardian."
It was not said happily. Rather, Barricade chewed out each word, grating over each syllable as though he regretted every moment he had to allow Sam the privilege of breathing.
And this so went over Sam's Weird Shit-o-Meter that it went beyond karma and into a whole new class of retribution smackdown.
"You do know who I am, right?" Sam questioned. The Decepticon had been thrown headfirst into a powerplant by Bumblebee, after all. Some processor damage had to be expected. What he got in reply was a miserable chuckle, borne out of anger instead of amusement.
"Oh, I know exactly who you are. Ladiesman217. Samuel James Witwicky. Autobot codename: Spike. Decepticon codename: Nemesis."
Barricade moved, then, lurching forward so suddenly that Sam jumped, pressing up against the wall to avoid being run over. The passenger door opened, effectively cutting off all means of easy escape.
"Get in," he said.
"I'd rather not," Sam replied, eyeing the tear in the fence in the back of the alley, wishing for either a miracle or Bumblebee, if they were not already one and the same.
"I was not giving you a choice." But Sam still hesitated, and he jumped again as Barricade revved his engine in frustration. "You need not fear for your life, human," he said, though his tone implied he wished rather the opposite. "Not yet, and not from me."
Sam had never in his life been in a no-win situation. Even in Mission City, there had been allies. Friends. Backup. Luck. Here, he was well and truly trapped. He could either get in, or, he suspected, Barricade would make him get in. As such, Sam climbed into the front seat, the door slamming so quickly behind him that he barely had time to pull his feet in behind him.
They sat in silence, unmoving, and while the seats were surprisingly supple, Sam could not get comfortable in them. All he could do was wait, as Barricade seemed to be doing with him.
"Before Megatron went to search for the All Spark alone," Barricade said at length. "He gave me, and only me, the assignment of acting as guardian to the All Spark once it was located, and keep it protected until Megatron was able to extract the necessary information from it."
"I'm not the All Spark," Sam replied reactively, without thought and with conviction. It had been his mantra over the past couple of months, first said by Ratchet, then Optimus, and repeated by himself as he continued to set off whatever All Spark-energy geiger counters the Autobots had built in to their processors. They, as Barricade had stated earlier, had been able to 'smell' it on him, in him, and only Ratchet's very thorough scans had been able to confirm that it was merely radiation. Sam had pointedly ignored Ratchet's skepticism of his own scans, but as there had been no effects aside from radiating the apparent residue, little else could be done. Or assumed.
"No," was Barricade's response. "That much is obvious. But you did touch it. Held it, from what I understand of Starscream's transmission."
He tripped, the sound of a nearby explosion causing him to stumble over his own feet, and there was a deep vibration through his arms—almost like holding onto an electrical current but without the pain—before the machines, frightened and acting accordingly, rose up around him.
…And the same feeling, as Megatron loomed over him, both spark and All Spark joined in mutual annihilation, the current trembling deep through to his bones—
"So you have been imprinted with it, by it. You hold the same information it did."
Like a key pressed into soap—the negative space forming an object identical to the original.
"What information?" Sam pressed, unable but desperate to rid himself of the crawling, icy sense of dread that was wrapping around his spine. "Megatron wanted to the All Spark to transform Earth's machines, to create a new army."
Ratchet's words formed in his mouth like water, and he grasped onto them in an effort to stave off whatever doom the universe had in store for him this time. Barricade chuckled again.
"You are exceedingly stupid," he replied. "If you assume that to be the extent of Megatron's plans for the All Spark."
Of course it could not be that simple, Sam thought. Not when it came to giant alien robots fighting a war that spanned the galaxy. But it was more than that, too. The war, as Optimus had explained in sparse detail, had never made a tremendous amount of sense to Sam. If Megatron had simply wanted an army, battalions of mass destruction, then they could have been built by hand. Perhaps not easily, and the new drones would most likely be without sentience if not created by the All Spark, but it still seemed easier than losing good soldiers over a never-ending game of Ultimate Keep-Away. As much as he feared what Barricade was implying, Sam would not be surprised if there were still secrets about the All Spark, and the war over it, of which he had not been made aware.
While he did not believe that Optimus had ever outright lied to him, Sam did wonder how much the Autobot leader had been keeping from him. And if those secrets had led to Barricade cornering him in a dark alley, far from help and ignorant bliss, Sam felt he had the right to be just a little angry with Optimus.
"I need to know if you have seen anything," Barricade interrupted Sam's musings, and somehow this quiet demand was more frightening than being pinned to a car, with devil-red eyes and serrated metal teeth flashing mere feet away. "Visions. Hallucinations, just as your ancestor experienced."
"Nothing," Sam said. There had been dreams—peculiar, fluttery things that occurred only on the edge of sleep, filled with whispered words in a strange language—but Barricade had not asked about those, and whatever small betrayal he felt towards Optimus was nowhere near enough for him to think about aiding Barricade. A small hum of contemplation came from the engine.
"Then it's not all gone. A piece of it, maybe. A shard."
A very small piece, no bigger than his hand. A piece that had fallen? Broken off? Gotten tangled in with his things somehow…
Followed him home…
"No," Sam countered even as he began to think of places to hide the shard—from Barricade, from the Decepticons. From the Autobots. There had to be somewhere where no one would look for, or smell, it.
"You're lying," Barricade snarled, engine revving loudly before he cut off, forcing his considerable temper down. "It doesn't matter," he said, more to himself than anything. "You have the information. It can be obtained."
In the moment following his question, Sam could practically feel the slow grin, one that could only come in anticipation of horror, when truth will hurt more than any lie.
"The information on how to win this war. Imagine a weapon. One that will bring victory to the Decepticons and bring ruination to the universe. One that can flatten all resistance, destroy planets and civilizations and bring all beings under Lord Megatron's rule. You, Ladiesman217, have the information on where to locate it." Barricade paused, waiting for one vicious moment before continuing with a hint of something horribly like genuine curiosity. "How does it feel to be the key to Decepticon victory? The source of all chaos and the obliteration of your planet?"
Samuel James Witwicky, you hold the key to Earth's survival.
And, apparently, its destruction. He forgot to mention that part to me.
"And what's stopping me from telling Optimus all of this?" Sam questions, in his mind already halfway to the garage to demand Bumblebee to get Optimus to Tranquility, and fast.
"Nothing," Barricade admits easily. "Go ahead, in fact. It will not change anything. Your very existence assures that the Decepticons will triumph, and your world will end. Nothing you do can stop what has already been set in motion. Now, get out."
The passenger door opened, and it was too easy, too random a gesture to have him sit inside with nothing happening for Sam to believe that Barricade had not done something to him—
Like breathe poison, or implant a locator chip, or scan for yet more All Spark energy…
Or maybe he did just want to instill fear, doubt, and take revenge for no other reason than that was what Decepticons did…
--But Sam knew when he was the one not in control of the situation. He got out of the car, the door clicking shut and Barricade shuddering as though he could still feel a deplorable human presence inside him.
"I will not be far," Barricade said. Sam liked it better when Bumblebee said those words, when they were a promise and not a threat. "And I will know everything that happens to you, so do not think to try and hide. I will come for you soon. All hail Megatron."
Then, he is gone, departing with a squeal of tires on grimy pavement and a mocking laugh in the sound of his engine. Red tail lights disappear around the corner, swallowed up by the night's gloom.
Sam remains standing in place for nearly a quarter of an hour, thoughts running in rapid tilt through his head. He eventually turns, continuing back on his original path through the fence and woods, a plan settling all the more firmly in place. Barricade did not know for certain about the All Spark fragment, but it was no longer safe with him. He would have to hide it, give it to someone else he could trust to be both silent about it and who would leave it alone. Sam would also have to speak with Optimus. The Autobot leader was away, using Keller's help to slowly enlarge his sphere of contacts within the U.S. military, and he would not be back in time before Sam left for college.
Still, it seemed like there was enough time. While what Barricade probably had some truth to it, there also had to be some twist in its presentation to make him think—panic—that the end of the world would be coming to an end within the next few days. He would not fall for that. Optimus would want him to keep his head, and that was what he would do. He would wait. There was also the chance that Barricade was simply wrong. Other than a few dreams—they were not even nightmares—nothing was amiss, and surely Ratchet would find out before any Decepticon if something were to change.
Yes, Sam thought as he entered the woods. For the moment, he would let the incident with Barricade go, even while keeping their conversation in mind in order to be more attentive to anything strange. Any changes. He would wait for Optimus, and then tell him everything.
Barricade had been trying to scare him, and it worked, but there was no chance in hell that Sam would ever let himself become what Barricade had been implying.
The source of all destruction on Earth?
Your very existence guarantees it.
If worse came to worse, he would die first.
No sacrifice, no victory.
Or his name was not Sam Witwicky.
Decepticon codename: Nemesis.