AN: An update for Semper Fi! It's a Christmas miracle! Everyone stand back and stare in awe!
Final chapter, boys and girls. Hopefully I haven't lost all my readers.
The meeting, if that's what one wanted to call it, was held in a military bunker not too far from the parking garage where Rachel Witwicky was born. Sam was leaning on Bumblebee's hood while Mikaela and James stayed in the backseat, Rachel sleeping in her mother's arms. Ratchet was actually kneeling in mech form, running scans on Lennox and the other soldiers. O'Connell and Jones had taken up similar positions on Sunny and Sides's hoods as Sam. Ironhide was crouched behind Lennox, waiting patiently for the proceedings to be over with. Jazz, Epps, and Rob were off to one side, still on battle alert. Will stood beside Lennox, shifting his weight and trying not to look utterly confused. Optimus sat in front of Galloway and the President, unable to stand properly in the cramped space.
The President gave Prime a hard look. "I don't care, Prime." he growled. "Those are our soldiers. They betrayed their country, and therefore they fall under our laws. We will take them in for a trial and sentencing."
Ratchet snorted. "Yes, good luck with that." he muttered darkly. Optimus cast him a look before returning his attention to the President.
"And what kind of sentence would you give them?" he growled.
"Traitors are dealt with swiftly in this country." the President said tightly. "There are no second chances. You have no right to question that."
"I do when your rules will affect the lives of my soldiers." Optimus bit out.
Lennox glanced over at him. "Traitors are executed, Optimus." she said softly. "He wants to make an example of us."
"No." Ironhide snapped. Jazz stiffened; the Twins immediately transformed and powered up their weapons, while Ratchet ceased his scans and gave the President the filthiest look any mech had seen from him. Optimus merely tilted his helm and gave the President a flat stare.
"What makes you think I'll just hand over my soldiers to your justice?" he asked quietly. "I do not wish to fight your people. I merely want to take my soldiers and leave this planet."
"And you can." the President said agreeably. "But the humans stay here."
"Jetfire will arrive within a week." Lennox said, coming to stand beside Optimus. "Maybe less if the fuel reserves hold out. Once he gets within orbit, we're gone. You can claim you killed us if you want. Just leave us be."
"I can't do that." the President said stiffly. "And who are you to tell me what to do?"
"Mine." Ironhide growled. Lennox chuckled and gave him a gentle nudge through their bond. Ironhide responded in kind.
Ratchet sighed and leaned back, a small smirk forming on his face. "Would it help if I could prove definitively that your human soldiers aren't human?" he asked.
The President blinked. Suddenly, all eyes and optics were on Ratchet. "Explain." Optimus ordered.
Ratchet shrugged. "Lennox – take off your shirt." he requested. Lennox didn't hesitate. She stripped her shirt off and glanced down at her shoulder. The bullet wound had healed completely – but there was no longer fragile skin. She touched the discolored area, and her fingers ghosted over warm metal. Ratchet's smirk turned into a full-fledged grin. "They're like us now. All the soldiers are developing metallic internal structures in place of their organic ones, but Lennox is the only one who's actually changing on the outside as well. They are no longer human, President."
Ironhide grinned. "That means you can't take them. Your laws no longer apply."
Galloway chose that moment to speak up. "Mr. President, we need to quarantine them." he hissed. "This is a fascinating chance to study – "
"No." Wheeljack said immediately. "We will not give up our own for you to satisfy your own sick curiosity."
"Well spoken, Wheeljack." Hound growled. "I may not be bonded to one of them, but they're fragging useful in a fight. Not to mention loyal." Mirage nodded in agreement. Bluestreak stayed silent, but his optics were dark with fury.
The President considered this. "Okay. Here's the problem – you guys are simply too dangerous to leave on planet without supervision." he explained. "However, we really don't have a way to supervise you. Now these soldiers are turning into mini versions of Autobots, and we don't know what all that entails. Quite frankly, you frighten us, Optimus Prime. All of you frighten us."
Optimus nodded. "I can understand that. We inadvertently brought war to your world."
"Yes, you did."
Optimus frowned, considering. "Ratchet, how far have these changes progressed?"
"They're still dependant on oxygen and pressurization, Optimus." Ratchet informed him. "There's no way they could survive an extended space trip for us to meet Jetfire."
Optimus nodded and turned his attention back to the President. "I would request that you give us sanctuary for a while longer." he said quietly. "When Jetfire is within comm.s range, or when the changes progress to the point where space travel is safe. Whichever comes first, we will leave this planet and return to our own, if we can."
The President nodded. "I think I can accept that."
Galloway looked like he was about to have a stroke. "But Mr. President – "
"No buts, Galloway." the President snapped. "This could have been handled much more descreetly. The casualties in the city were never necessary."
"You told me you wanted the Autobots destroyed!"
"If a peaceable solution could not be found." the President retorted. "You think I want to pick a fight with someone who can step on me and think nothing of it? I'm not that stupid." He looked back at Optimus. "Please forgive us for this, if you can. This is what I get for having a bigoted idiot for an advisor."
Epps couldn't help it. He started laughing, the sound dark and almost menacing. "Oh, that's rich!" he growled. "Galloway is bigoted. You're the one who just said you're scared to death of us, but instead of tryin' to understand, you gotta go and try an' kill us!" He left Jazz's side to stand just in front of the President. Sing's eyes were wide; Lennox and Will were trying to hide their laughter. "I know you gonna lie to us. The least you can do is come up with a better way of savin' your ass."
"Epps! Was that necessary?" Sing demanded.
"I don' like bein' taken as an idiot." Epps snarled. "He's a politician – he lies every day. Least he can do is treat us like we got some brain cells."
"True, that." Lennox approved.
The President's gaze darkened. "You will stay here until your ship arrives." he bit out. "Then you will clear all air travel with me before you go anywhere. Understand?"
"Yes, President." Optimus said gravely.
"Good." With that the President and Galloway walked out of the bunker. Lennox turned to Optimus.
"You know they're not going to let us leave." she said.
"I know." Optimus agreed. "We can use Mirage's invisibility shield. When Jetfire arrives, we will leave without informing him. He cannot stop us."
"Damn straight." Jazz muttered darkly.
Lennox leaned back against Ironhide's leg. "Does this mean it's finally over?" she murmured. "I can sleep now?"
Ironhide laughed and picked Lennox up, cradling her to his chest. "Rest, Anna. I'll get you the rest of the way."
A week later, the hoped-for comm. came in from Jetfire. That night, thousands of people in the nearby cities saw the Autobots leave and head out into space, unaware that they also carried six half-breed soldiers, one human family, and four friends who would not be left behind.
Starscream also watched them go, a small smirk on his face. "Now we take this to the stars." he murmured. "Soundwave – track them. I want to know where they're going."
The response was immediate. "Affirmative, Lord Starscream."
AN: Whoo-hoo! It's finally finished! (collapses) Dang, I thought the plot bunny for this would never come back.
Hopefully this wraps up a few loose ends for y'all. Enjoy – and if anyone has an idea for a sequel, this story is up for adoption. It's wide open for one, but I just don't have the bunnies for it anymore. Just PM me for permission.
I am yours truly,