AN: Someone's going to get their wish. Also, I hope you all enjoyed this story. Seeing how it's slightly open-ended where concerning plot, I could write a sequel someday. The amount of time, the sheer volume of work it takes to write a novel like this, however, demands a few more readers. Though I found everyone's support very helpful and the regular readers' feedback inspiring, I end this crossover wanting more, somehow...every performer, even in the linguistic arts craves bigger audiences...one I hope to find by writing something not crossover...y.
I think the biggest reasons this story has not attracted more readers are A) The sparse population of fans who like both SGA and Transformers and B) The fact that this story is in the crossover section. It's quite a bit harder to come across a crossover unless you're looking for it...or you're really, really bored. Admit it, you were bored.
Or the story just really, really sucks...but we all know that's not true. Right?
Random Fact of Interest: This is officially the longest complete story I have written out of 45 stories, which combined total over 651,000 words. The runner up is only 41,000 words long. I plan to go bigger with my next Transformers fanfic. While simultaneously torturing you all with the Twins' antics and Ironhide's snarky coolness.
Behold, the first and only chapter title that isn't a movie! Thing.
Epilogue: Same Side
"Can't figure it out yet, huh, Rodney?"
Sheppard wasn't about to give McKay a piece of his mind for having someone smuggle a laptop into the infirmary. If Beckett were here or even Dr. Keller—heck, especially Keller—the sneaky scientist wouldn't have gotten away with it. But he did think it was at least necessary to taunt him from the end of Rodney's bed.
"Look, I know it's sort of...twisted to say this now that he's, well, dead, but..." McKay was still half in and half out of Rodney Land, the land of magical algorithms and a buffer zone for translation. "Trailbreaker was weird."
"As far as giant talking robots go, you mean," said Sheppard, gripping the metal bar on the end of the bed.
Rodney snorted. "Yes. Well, no. When it comes to the physiology of Transformers, I probably know as much as the tomato I ate in today's lunch special. If that's not hard enough for me to admit, then the fact that the Replicators he was made of are something way beyond my ability to comprehend makes me feel..."
"Out of the loop. Loopless. Thank you, John."
"You can't know everything."
"Yes, I can, and starting the very instant they let me out of this Nazi hospital, I'm going to spend as much time as I possibly can learning about the Autobots."
"I'm sure they'd love that," said the colonel without an ounce of conviction. He then leaned back and crossed his arms, digging even further into his arsenal of mind tricks. "Just as soon as you fix the Stargate and the Asgard shield emitters and figure out how to move Atlantis to the Southern hemisphere without half the world noticing."
"Can you stop being yourself for two seconds?" Rodney snapped. He stopped tapping on his laptop for a second with a reflective expression on his face. "Trailbreaker's nanites were completely unique. It's as if they evolved on their own over a long period of time, assimilating more to the original host's type of programming rather than entering their versatile, hostile takeover stage. This is just a theory, but based on what I've gathered...it's possible that they existed in a more symbiotic relationship with him as opposed to the Replicators that infected Ronon and Mudflap and just about everyone else."
"Interesting," the colonel said, which was only half true. He didn't really understand anything his good pal McKay was saying, but it might lead somewhere. Maybe.
"It's more than interesting," McKay muttered, returning his attention to his laptop screen. He seemed to lower the volume of his voice, as though afraid an Autobot might overhear him in the center of the Compound 2 building. "Now, maybe...and this is a serious maybe, Sheppard...if I combine my old research on the Replicators with what I know about the Autobots, I could figure out a way to reactivate Trailbreaker's Replicator nanites. It's incredibly unlikely they would still pose a threat, seeing how Storm Jet is gone and they're absolutely incapable of replicating themselves."
The first thing Sheppard wanted to do was point out that the IOA would rather wear tinfoil hats then let something like that happen, but he caught a glimpse of a very familiar look on Rodney's face. He broke into a grin. "You liked him," he said slowly.
The scientist tossed him an irritated glare. "That's your logical conclusion? I just happen to want to help them recover a valuable asset they lost while protecting Earth. It's...it's my duty, as a citizen of this planet."
"Admit it, Rodney. You like Optimus and the other Autobots. You're just too shy to admit it. I mean, I get it; Optimus saved your life back on that ice planet before, and Trailbreaker covered your ass when you got injured during the Wraith attack..."
"After I risked my life fixing the DHD to save everyone else first!" the heated snipe came right back at him. "Let's not forget who figured out how to shut off the Transformer Replicators, either."
"You're right. We should thank Sam again for showing you how to do that."
"He gave me a hint! He didn't actually do anything, he just...you know what? Forget I said anything. Jennifer told me to not let you bug me so much, and I'm going to take that advice. Starting now."
"Get well soon, Rodney," Sheppard said with a smirk, satisfied that the scientist was back to his normal self just two days after his close call. Of course, the morphine was helping him through the worst of having a hole that penetrated two inches past his collar bone. Ignoring his friends blatantly irritated look, the colonel turned around and headed out the door of the infirmary.
People were recovering from the catastrophe rather well. Sooner or later, they would have to start setting up real missions to their allies outposts out in the Milky Way galaxy, to gather both intel and potential resources to start a new kind of war against the last remaining Pegasus enemies. It was obvious by now that the hybrids were being led by some sort of figurehead; it was just a question of who and where. Not only that, but they weren't being as candid and aggressive as the Wraith had been—no, they were finding planets to settle on. Biding their time. Attacking Jaffa and humans alike to increase their numbers. An entire hive ship full of half-Wraith, mostly human alien cultists was bad enough, Sheppard thought. A whole galaxy, though?
If it weren't for NEST, their future would look very, very grim.
After a few minutes of aimless strolling through the Compound 2 building, Sheppard found that he had moved right past the mess area and the training gym. The marines guarding the south saluted him as he stepped through the blue barrier that lead outdoors—a gesture he was still getting used to. Heck, he was still one of the Compound Alliance leaders. Or he would be, if Colonel Caldwell decided to overlook that court martial he had promised during the Daedalus incident.
Sheppard immediately spotted Lennox driving towards him in one of the Compound mini-carts. There were bullet holes in the side of the tiny vehicle. "Hello, Colonel," the NEST commander greeted. "Let's cut the small talk, because we both know we've had less than twelve hours of sleep between us. Get in the cart; we're meeting Epps at the CAR to check in with Optimus."
"Got nothing better to do...surprisingly," said Sheppard, adding the last word for emphasis. He hopped over the somewhat crumpled door into the passenger seat. "Hey, uh...I don't suppose, y'know, after all that's happened..."
"Nice try, Colonel, but you still owe Epps and I two rounds of beer. Just as soon as we're done fighting an intergalactic war with an invading alien species."
As the cart sped across the Compound lot, the colonel leaned back in his head and folded his hands on his lap. "Fair enough."
"General O'Neill, thank you for taking the time to see me."
As always, O'Neill was standing at the front of the briefing table whilst the two other occupants in the room sat on either side of the stainless steel structure. The silvered general furled his brow slightly before replying. "Well thank you for your thank you, which we all know is about as genuine as my Uncle Marty's Christmas cards every New Year's Eve."
He did not have an Uncle Marty, but who cared?
It was well worth making the comment to see Galloway's face pucker up a little, as though the bureaucrat had just tasted something sour. Woolsey, the other member of the (fully intended to be) short meeting, tried to not look smug as the so-called liaison was raked against Jack O'Neill's seniority and wit.
Galloway cleared his throat, obviously not wanting to instigate something that could be considered an 'oversight'. "I was just going to say that...despite the way things were handled here these past few days, I'd like to assure you that the President doesn't hold you accountable in any way."
O'Neill nodded thoughtfully. "Well that's good," he said. "How is that old leader of the free world doing, anyway? Still being all fancy-free and...not you? Being the commander of Earth's most powerful defense organization, I tend to not get informed of these things until..." He looked at his watch. "Oh, about an hour after Joe the Plumber finds out."
Woolsey, who had been in mid-sip with his coffee mug attached to his lips, had to start coughing to cover up the laughter he'd failed to repress. When the java had left his airways, he straightened his tie and forced his mouth into a thin line, reserving his own comments for later.
"You may think this is a laughing matter, General, but let me assure you--"
"Look, I really don't have a lot of time to stand around and listen to you complain about how poorly my men put their asses on the line to save the planet," O'Neill cut him off with a much more annoyed tone of voice. "I just figured Major Lennox and Colonel Sheppard would be too tired to listen to your whining after fighting Decepticons and Wraith and such, so I'm here as a favour, not by any sane decision made on my part, and since my helicopter leaves in about twenty-five minutes, you don't have a lot of time to make my day any worse than it is. Now," he added, extending his palms outward for effect. "Unleash your hounds, so to speak."
"This is not a playground, General O'Neil. This is a highly developed, intensely classified series of events that you and the rest of your military bunkmates clearly do not take seriously if this is how you treat a member the President's advisory council. This entire alliance has gone to ruin the moment Major Lennox was put in charge of the Autobots' deployment. He allowed the Replicator situation to get out of hand, which if I recall correctly—" Galloway ranted, flipping through some of the pages of the report he had spread out in front of him, "—nearly cost Teyla Emmagen her life, not to mention Ronon, or the alliance members he put into jeopardy when the nanites forced control over him. And need I even get started on the insurgent Autobot who was not only spying for the enemy, but was in fact, made from the very same alien technology we are at war with?"
"First of all, the thing about Replicators..." O'Neill spoke as though he were speaking to a class of ten-year-olds on the subject of physical intimacy. "They're really good at hiding. Being microscopic and all. And that 'alien' thing you keep mentioning, pretty much sums up why even our best equipment couldn't detect them. That's what McKay tells me, anyway. Canadian brainiacs tend to be right about these things."
"I would like to take a moment to add that Major Lennox is not, was not, and never has been in charge of Autobot deployment," Woolsey put in, turning his coffee mug around on the table using only the handle. "I believe Optimus Prime has been in charge of that particular duty since day one. Also, if it hadn't been for his intervention, willingly incapacitating one of his own officers, Teyla wouldn't be alive to care for her infant son and husband today."
Naturally, it took much more than the blunt end of the axe of truth to nullify Galloway. Clutching the folder containing the mission report, as though it was (and it was) his only ally, the man in the twenty-five thousand dollar suit swallowed and went on to say, "Optimus Prime and the rest of his alien cohorts are precisely why the Wraith even bothered to come to Earth in the first place. According to the Wraith informant we have in custody, they would have continued pursuing the hybrids had the Autobot responsible for this mess not contacted them and formed his own alliance."
"Oh, yes," said O'Neill. "And after they found them, fed on them, increased their arsenal of weapons and information, they would mailed us a post card and and high-tailed it through hyperspace back home."
"At this point," snapped Galloway, slapping the folder shut. "I have no interest in butting heads with the thickest skull in the history of the United States Air Force. Starting next week, I am going to be doubling as a member of the International Oversight Advisory as well as the President's personal NEST liaison. I am positive they will see things for the way they are, rather than this bloated fantasy you're trying to spin here."
"Actually," Woolsey said, leaning forward in his seat. This was the moment he had been waiting for. "The I.O.A. has decided to elect me as their official Compound Alliance representative. Given my experience in the field of hybrid warfare and successes in collaborating with Colonel Sheppard in the past, the choice was rather obvious. And yes, even the President agrees with their decision."
For a moment, the balding bureaucrat opened and closed his mouth silently as his opponent's words sunk in. "You...you are trying to say that you cheated me out of a position I have worked for, for two years in solid dedication to humanity's cause?"
"On the contrary," Woolsey replied, standing up and straightening his jacket. "I am putting you in the position where you belong: with your political face under my foot, and out of the Alliance's way. After all, we have another war coming our way. Those not on our side direly need to step down and let humanity...and its allies do what needs to be done."
"We'd love to stick around and talk about your feelings some more, Mr. Galloway," O'Neill said, gathering up the papers he had brought with him and tapping their edges on the table to straighten the pile. "But I have yet another meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to attend to, and Mr. Woolsey's a busy man, what with his recent promotion and all. I'll have Airman McCormick show you the way to your bunker. I hear it even comes with the Internet now. Which is way better than the bunkers I had to sleep in twenty years ago."
A red-faced Galloway was led out of the loft and down to the main level by the airman standing by, which left Woolsey and O'Neill behind. The general checked his watch and made a thoughtful sound. "Hmm, that didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would. Care to join me for a bowl of Fruit Loops, Mr. Woolsey?"
"Actually, I have been feeling a little peckish this morning," the new Alliance liason said with a controlled smile. "I would be delighted to."
Sam was not ready to leave the CAR. Even though he had arrived less than a week ago, ripped out of his normal life and dragged through his third climactic battle with aliens in his short lifetime, he felt as though it wasn't time to go just yet. Nor was he expected to—with Storm Jet's double-betrayal against Starscream, Megatron would only try harder to obtain the one human that Optimus would give himself up for unconditionally: Sam.
Despite that, he was going to leave. College was still new, and he was still untrained. Fighting and running from the bad guys couldn't be a career, not unless he joined the army (never, ever happening), so what could a good kid do? Go back to Pennsylvania and study, of course. With Bumblebee, his guardian, and the two extra street slang-slinging sidekicks that Optimus dumped on him. The only upside to his fate was that Leo was going crazy over the Twins' addition to the college team. If Skids hadn't been assigned to be his roommate's 'first year car', Leo's rant alone could have made the severely damaged CAR building collapse. The quickest way to make a college student happy was to give him a car in his freshman year. Who knew?
Most of his things were in boxes, still. Sam decided to leave them in the empty office and closed the door behind him, the mild and humid air of the Autobot residence hitting his face. The Twins were being treated by Ratchet for their final 'check-ups' to make sure they were ready for the next mission through the Stargate. They were also apparently being 'upgraded' with some special technology that helped them get through the weird alien device without overloading their circuits.
Ironhide and Optimus were sitting in the middle of the open hangar, where a pile of Wraith debris had been just forty-eight hours earlier. Sam approached them leisurely, taking note of how extremely polished and perfect the black truck and the massive Peterbilt were after Ratchet's careful ministrations. Nothing got past the medic's attention, apparently. Coming up on Optimus' right side, Same gave a rigid wave. "Hey, guys."
"Hello, Sam," came the base voice over the truck's speakers. "I take it you are ready to return to your college to resume training?"
"Studying, Optimus. Not training. And yeah, I guess I am. Uh, mind if I join you? This place kind of freaks me out, since all I can think about are green-skinned aliens and screaming death gliders."
In response, the passenger door to the blue-and-red truck opened wide. Same grabbed on to the handle outside the door and climbed into the seat of the Autobot's cab. This was a bit more familiar, and he didn't even realize he had been tense until he felt the muscles in his neck relax. "So, let me guess...you're not changing your mind about the Twins?"
"I believe you already know the answer to that question""Right...of course."
"Understand, Sam. If I am on a mission in another part of this galaxy, I will be unable to come to your assistance should the Decepticons attack. It will be entirely up to Bumblebee, Skids, and Mudflap to transport you safely into the hands of your military."
"It's okay, Optimus. No need to explain to me why, because trust me, I've figured it out by now. I know this makes me sound selfish, but...why exactly are you getting involved in all this? The fight against Decepticons, protecting Earth from them, I get all that, but all these new aliens and secret military operations...it's just a little too deep, isn't it?"
"The boy wants to know why," Ironhide's voice came from the cab of the black pick-up next to them. "I think the inquiry itself is too absurd for me to wrap my processor around."
"There are many reasons I chose to involve ourselves in this alliance," Optimus said, neglecting his officer's comment. "None more important than this simple question: how are we able to defend Earth if its inhabitants are no longer around to preserve?"
"Ah." Sam toyed with the chain around his neck, the same one Leo had given him as a 'thank you for not getting me killed' present. "Somehow I figured it was more than that. I mean, you and the other Autobots are going to start hunting the galaxy for aliens who want to destroy us, right? Even though they could do it without you."
"Sam, your concern for our safety is appreciated, very greatly," came the voice over the truck's speakers then, seeing right through the college student's flimsy word barrier. "Trust me. Ironhide and I have been doing this for a very, very long time."
It was getting warmer outside, and Sam could see in the middle of the paved lot outside a cart heading in their direction. Lennox and Sheppard were probably on their way to let their fellow Alliance leader in on the updated news from within Compound 1. Sam sighed, realizing just how short the day was going to be. "Y'know, you're right, Optimus."
Same grinned, catching the tone of feigned conceit in the Autobot's projected voice. "No, no, I really get it. I've been thinking like it's 'them' and 'us' all this time, which is just as bad as thinking of you as machines with software, and all humans as monkeys. I know, I know it's lame, but we're obviously all on the same side."
"And that, Sam, concludes your first lesson in understanding the nature of a complex relationship."
Sam kicked the underside of the dashboard.