A/N: The following ficlets are all ideas that have popped into my head at one point or another that don't really fit into the main story line of 'Instability'. NOTE: These one-shots do not go in chronological order, and they do not all take place after ROTF.
NEST Files: Alien Encounters
Disk One: "It started with an Ipod..."
Approximate Terran Date: 3 months after the battle of Mission City
The following data logs are the joint property of the NEST Command/ Intelligent Systems teams and the Autobots under the leadership of NBE 4, Terran designation: Optimus Prime. All within are classified Top Secret and are not to be removed in part or in whole at any time without express written permission and supervision of the parties listed above. Additionally, any information acquired herein may not be conveyed either verbally, visually, or by written document to anyone without clearance to access the Top Secret security level. All violators will be---
::Okay, dis is boring. What do you say we liven this up a little, Wheeljack?::
::Doing so would be highly unorthodox and most likely against regulations.....Let's do it::
::Alright! Here's da NEW list of rules for dis secret base of ours! Enjoy. Skids, out!::
Living with giant robotic aliens: A how-to guide for day-to-day survival
Rule number 1: When in doubt, duck.
Rule number 2: NEVER get into a prank war with Optimus Prime. He gives as good as he gets......
Sergeant Bobby Epps used to be convinced that the infamous Twins were the biggest pair of troublemakers in the galaxy. Within three hours of their arrival, they had downloaded every conceivable language known to man and began putting together the most creative compound-curses he had ever heard. Man, those guys could swear in paragraphs when they really got going; one time when a D-Con had gotten in a lucky shot on Mudflap, the orange freak had sworn up and down for a solid twenty minutes without repeating himself, only some of which involved pig-latin and Swahili.
Epps always pitied whatever poor sap became their target for the day. Not that he didn't laugh like hell when they found all their gear dyed pink or ended up covered from head to toe in shaving cream and lobster bisque and refused to ever mention a single word about the incident, but he had to give the aliens credit-- they had style.
But he never would have guessed that picking a fight with Optimus would have an even more devastating fallout. He probably should have seen it coming, given the way the robot wiped the floor with whatever sideshow freak he was fighting, but it was hard to picture him running up the flag with someone's Hane's briefs when he was off being serious and diplomatic all the time. Especially since Epps half expected an 'indubitably' to pop out of his mouth at any moment.
And that had probably been Will's first mistake-- underestimating the extent of Optimus' alien badass-ness.
The entire incident started innocently enough. They were on another mission, same old thing as always, some Decepticreep blowing shit up somewhere. For once Will had actually remembered to bring his own iPod for the drive, leaving Epps to enjoy his own in peace. Man, that guy was a music hog-- he was always trying something or other to distract him so that he could snatch his iPod for himself. But anyway, on that particular mission Will had finally remembered to stop being a whinning pussy and bring his own music like any real man.
Things had started off well enough-- they rode in Optimus' cab, driving along some dirt road or other, heads bobbing slightly to the music coming in one ear bud while they left the other one out to listen to mission particulars. Boring stuff, but necessary. Epps didn't want to have his ass shot off by a D-Con who got in a lucky shot when he wasn't paying attention. But even keeping on high alert, that freaky little scorpion dude still managed to sneak up on them. It had tried to burrow in under the big guy's wheels and pop out at them through the floor of the cab, but Optimus was slick enough to catch on to the plan before the bug could get away with it and ran right over it, tossing the two of them out so he could transform.
Now normally one or the other of them kept a NEST laptop on hand for things like satellite uplinks and signal triangulations. Optimus always knew about the laptops-- expected them, really-- and was careful to adjust his transformation so that they didn't end up crushed little pancakes of wires and circuitry. But when the bug robot suprised them, they had to jump out in a hurry. Epps had his iPod in his hand when his boots hit the dirt; Lennox dropped his on the seat and left without it. They grabbed their guns, Optimus transformed....and, well, that was the end of Will's newly acquired iPod.
The good news-- Optimus was able to take out the bug before it had the chance to impale either one of them with its big-ass stinger. The bad news-- Will bitched like a little girl all the way back to base when he discovered the pieces of rubble that used to be his iPod. Epps had to crank the volume all the way up on some Metallica to block him out. You'd think he could be a little more grateful that Optimus had saved his sorry hide, but apparently killing his music was tantamount to killing his second child.
Anyway, things only went downhill from there.
Lennox kept up his snit for a good week or two, though thankfully he laid off the whining after the first day. Otherwise, Epps might have been the one to make the first move rather than Optimus.
--Actually, to be fair, the wise Jesus alien probably would have put up with the bitching without a word if it hadn't gone any farther than that. Not that he ended up saying a word in the end anyhow, but things wouldn't have turned into an all out war if Lennox had left well enough alone.
After the fact the man swore up and down that he'd had nothing to do with the posters that mysteriously showed up one night all over base. Even Epps would have suspected the Twins were behind it, except that the Twins wouldn't think of something as subtle as wallpapering the rooms and hallways-- even the bathrooms and breakrooms-- with the 8 by 11 ads. Epps himself had saved a copy, as had everyone else on base. He was almost certain that someone had also posted a scan online, and that close to ten thousand responses had been logged, including at least a dozen marriage proposals. There were no pictures on any of the ads, but the bold black letters screamed:
"Alien Male w/ Bod of Steel seeks like-minded Female, Alien optional. Likes: fighting evil, trucks, big guns, red & blue, martinis on the rocks, taking long walks on the beach. All responders must have robo kinks and be willing to save the world. Evil aliens need not apply."
Optimus never said a word about the ads, of course, but even Epps could tell that a line had been crossed. It was ON.
Even after living with a sunflower yellow robot in his garage for three months, Sam had still not completely adjusted to the fact that not only did aliens exist, he had helped save the world with them. Woah. Heady stuff, there. And not something he was entirely comfortable with yet.
Not that he had anything against Bumblebee (or against having a bitchin Camaro to ride to school in everyday-- eat your heart out, Trent), but sometimes it still freaked him out when the car suddenly turned left while he was turning the wheel right, or when the front bumper edged forward to nuzzle into his hand when he drifted his fingers along the liquid smooth yellow paint. Or the way an embarassingly inappropriate song full of innudeno would come on when he was in a crappy mood-- or the way the doors would lock themselves, the seat back lowering into a reclining position, when Bee was feeling particularly clingy and wanted him to 'sleep over'.
He guessed it had something to do with the fact that he still couldn't fully process the existence of aliens. ALIENS. One moment he would be an average kid heading to his car after school, and the next the realization that he was walking up to a robot, an ALIEN robot, would slam into him with the force of a train. His psychology teacher probably would have labeled it selective denial. Whatever it was, it frequently made him tremble and go weak in the knees with revived fear and awe.
So when one spring day he looked out the window from his math class and saw a hulking Peterbilt truck decorated with red and blue flames parked in the student lot, he kinda freaked. Luckily his stern algebra teacher wouldn't let him immediately spring up and rush outside, otherwise he might have done something humiliating like glomp onto the front grill and squeal excitedly at the fact that an ALIEN had come to his school to see him. Either that, or run in terror out the back door. By the time the bell rang to signal the end of school, he felt mostly in control of himself once more. He even gave himself a mental pat on the back for being calm enough to walk to his locker, gather his stuff, and walk out to the parking lot without making a scene.
Sam knew better than to verbally greet the truck (especially with so many curious stares directed at him), so he simply reached for the door handle. Breathing a sigh of relief when the door swung open easily at his touch, he hoisted himself into Optimus' cabin and shut the door.
"So....what's up, Optimus?" He greeted the air, putting on his seat belt. The truck shifted into gear and edged its way out of the parking lot.
"I'm kidnapping you." To Sam's surprise, the alien sounded both teasing AND serious. He was just glad that Optimus hadn't responded with something along the lines of 'Starscream's attacking your house. And oh, by the way, you need to save the world again.'
Sam grinned. "Cool. So does this count as an alien abduction?"
The truck pulled out onto the busy road and shouldered its way into the stream of cars.
A confused click. "You seem to want it to. For what reason?"
"Getting abducted by aliens is one of those things on my life long to-do list."
"But you are accompanying me willingly." Optimus pointed out. Sam pressed his elbow on the button to roll down the window and stuck his head out into the whipping air.
"Help, help. Someone help me. I'm being kidnapped by aliens." He waited, then pulled his head back in and rolled the window up.
"Oh well, I tried. I guess I'm doomed."
Optimus rumbled a laugh. "In that case, you have my permission to eliminate 'alien abduction' from your list."
They road in silence for a while, then Sam suddenly picked up on the fact that they were heading in the opposite direction from his house.
"Um...Optimus? Two questions-- where's Bumblebee, and why are we heading away from my house? I know you know where it is (you did wreck my backyard, after all)."
"I requested that Bumblebee 'take the afternoon off', as it were. I told him that I needed your assistance on a small errand, and he agreed to allow me to retrieve you from school. He will be awaiting your return at your house."
Suspicion coiled in Sam's gut, his shoulders tensing at the word 'errand'.
"Not to rain on anyone's parade, but I'm going to have to back out if you need me to go destroy another Allspark or something."
"No, Sam. This time you will not be in danger. But I do, however, require human assistance."
Sam raised an eyebrow at the instrument pannel. "'Human assistance'? Why? What for?"
But Optimus-- radiating something like embarassment-- clammed up and refused to say another word for the rest of the drive. Luckily, it didn't take long to reach their destination. Less than two minutes later, the truck put on its right hand turn signal and pulled into the parking lot of the Post Office.
Sam looked curiously towards the innocent little white building, wondering if Megatron were crouching behind it, waiting to spring out at them. But the very thought made his heart race and his palms grow slick on the steering wheel, so firmly telling himself that there wouldn't be so many people milling about if there was an evil robot in the back, he forced the image from his mind and discreetly wiped his hands on his pants. He didn't know if the Cybertronians were disgusted by clammy plams, but he didn't want to risk grossing out Optimus.
Optimus found a place to park in the back and turned off his engine. He hesitated again, once more seeming reluctant, and the reason for his apparent embarassment suddenly dawned on Sam, causing him to chortle with furiously supressed laughter-- the alien was embarassed because he needed someone small enough to fit through the door of the Post Office to go get his mail. Oh, the irony! He could dish out the beatdowns like nobody's buisness when it came to Decepticons, but the great alien leader was stymied by something as simple as a human-sized door.
Finally squashing the impulse to collapse into peals of laughter, Sam let out a sigh and asked, "What do you need me to get, Optimus?"
The seatbelt retracted on its own, though the door remained firmly shut for privacy. Now that his secret was out, Optimus wasted no time in telling him what to do.
"There is a small package inside post office box 233. I would ask that you retreive it and bring it back to me, as I cannot obviously reach it for myself."
"Not without taking the roof off, that is-- but that's a really bad idea, so please don't try it."
In response, the glove compartment popped open, revealing a small key.
"Geez, what is it with you guys and hurrying?" Sam snatched up the key and pushed open the door to the truck. "Don't you ever take time to stop and smell the flowers? You know, do the whole relax and unwind thing?"
He jumped to the ground, yelping in surprise as the door nearly swung closed on his butt. The Optimus version of a 'shut up before I shoot you' slap. Sam snapped off a salute, ignoring the bewildered glances of the other patrons milling about the parking lot that had stopped to stare at the brightly colored truck, and went into the building.
A back room off the main lobby held the floor-to-ceiling stacks of P.O boxes. He swiftly scanned down the rows to number 233 and unlocked it, pulling out the small box within. About the size of a paper back novel and very heavy, the sticker on the front nevertheless made him snort with laughter once again. It was addressed to 'Optimus Prime'. He guessed the Decepticons were too low tech to try hunting through the snail mail for references to the Autobots.
Package tucked under his arm, he hurried outside to the parked Peterbilt and clambered back into the cab. As Optimus laboriously turned around and exited the parking lot, Sam held the small box to his ear and shook it.
"Please stop, Sam. It is fragile, and you may irreversably damage it," the alien ordered. Sam complied, setting the package in his lap and scrunitizing the label once more.
"What is it?.....from the 'Harry Potter Contest Company'? What the heck!?"
Now that he had the chance to really examine it, there was no mistaking the bobbing snitch buzzing in between the sparkly words.
"An online quiz agency. I achieved a perfect score on one of their advanced trivia quizzes, thus meriting the shipment of the prize you hold in your hands."
There were so many things wrong with the entire situation that he could only gape at the steering wheel, brain sputtering and shutting down with an error message and a small farting noise.
"....You read Harry Potter."
"All seven books."
"I do have occasion to pursue other activities besides fighting Decepticons, Sam."
"....and you took an online trivia quiz. And won."
"Yes. If you do not believe me, the evidence is there in your hands."
"Oh, I believe you," Sam slowly shook his head, "But now I have proof, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the world has gone completely bonkers. I mean, come on! No self respecting, butt-kicking alien should read Harry Potter! The two things just don't go together outside of some bizarro universe!!"
He paused for breath, watching the scenary flash by the window. They were almost back to his home.
"....which Hogwarts house did you test into?" He asked casually after a moment, accepting that he had entered the twilight zone and deciding to just go with it.
But apparently Optimus had revived from his embarassed mood and was feeling playful.
Without thinking, he answered, "Griffindor."
"No," the alien responded, to his surprise.
"Please don't tell me you're a Hufflepuff. That would just be messed up on so many levels."
Optimus let out an alien whirl of laughter, turning onto Sam's street. Less than thirty seconds.
"Slytherin?! I'd rather you were in Hufflepuff after all. Slytherins are evil, EVIL, in case you hadn't heard."
Bumblebee was waiting for them. Sam still hadn't found out what was in the package.
"So...what did you win?" He asked, when no answer seemed forthcoming.
"That's my little secret."
The truck pulled to a stop with a hiss of airbrakes, but Sam refused to take the hint when the door popped open of its own accord.
"Nuh uh. I went in and got this for you-- the least you could do is tell me what it is!"
Optimus sighed to himself, and gingerly shut the door.
"Very well. But I am swearing you to secrecy. If Lennox calls, you never saw me."
A feral grin spread from ear to ear across Sam's face. This was going to be interesting to watch.
"I swear on my stack of secret Playboy magazines. Now spill!"
So Optimus did.
Bumblebee jolted on his shocks in surprise when Sam began to roar with laughter.
Nothing happened for a week or two after the wanted ad incident. Epps didn't know whether Optimus had decided not to retaliate, or was taking his time putting together the most brutal (though hopefully non-life threatening) prank possible. And he wasn't sure which possibility scared him more.
Then, to his astonishment, the big guy came back and gave Lennox a new iPod. A lot of money changed hands with that one. Apparently, the pool for how much of a beat down Lennox would get had been fairly large. Seeing the smug, triumphant look on Will's face when he held the shiny new device had been enough to make him need to go shoot something. Then, as he plugged his new conquest into his laptop to download some songs and discovered that it already had close to a thousand on it, Epps decided shooting something wasn't going to be enough-- he needed to blow something up, preferably something big and expensive that would make a very satisfying mushroom cloud.
But then, at the sight of precisely which songs were loaded onto Will's new iPod, the urge to set off an explosion turned into a whoop of victory. Especially when Will discovered that not only could he not add any new songs or remove any old ones, every time he tried the song in question would begin to play at full volume, loud enough for everyone on base to hear.
"--I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie wur-ur-urld!--"
"Shit! Epps, this thing's going haywire!"
"--life in plastic--"
"It won't let me turn it off!"
By this time a small crowd had begun to gather, humans and Autobots alike flocking to witness the source of the commotion.
"It's brand new! This is ridiculous!"
"--You are the dancin queen, young and sweet--"
"--ONLY SEVENTEEN, OH YEAH!--"
"OPTIMUS!!" Money changed hands again. Will furiously mashed at the off button without effect.
"--It might sound crazy--"
"Optimus! Damn you, come turn this thing off!"
"--But it aint no lie--"
Optimus, of course, was no where to be seen. But at Will's red-faced demand, the volume upped another notch, causing the very room to shake to the N'Sync boy band beat.
"--BYE BYE BYE!--"
Finally reaching the end of his rope (and incensed by the presence of several camera phones and video recorders in the audience), Will disconnected the iPod from his laptop. It didn't make one iota of difference-- the annoying litany of songs continued to blare impossibily loud from his laptop.
"--WHO LET THE DOGS OUT--"
Several people whistled and clapped. Almost everyone on base had gathered to watch Lennox's bloody defeat at the hands of the purple iPod, all very glad that the Captain was being knocked down a peg. Even trying to turn off the laptop didn't work-- it defiantly remained powered up.
"--I'M A BARBIE GIRL, IN A BARBIE W--"
Eyes blazing, teeth clenched, Lennox pulled his gun from its holster and shot the unfortunate iPod. It whirred its last gasp of life, throwing out a shower of sparks, and died. A curl of acrid smoke rose into the air like its mechanical soul. Dead silence descended on the room in the wake of the thunderous rapport of the gun being discharged and the sudden absence of music.
No one noticed that Optimus had entered the room until he spoke.
"That was a terrible waste of a gift, Captain."
Lennox spun around, eyes still glinting with restrained fury.
"With all due respect, that wasn't a gift. It was sabotaged," he spat.
"Nevertheless," the alien refuted, voice as smug as a cat lapping cream, "I see no reason to provide you with another one now that it is your fault, and not mine, that it has been destroyed."
Optimus strode past them, heading for the door to the hanger, then stopped and looked back, blue optics alight with dark amusement.
"Oh, but since it seems that you will be in need of some sort of diversion during the 'boring' parts of our next mission--" Here, even Epps had the good grace to flush, "--I took the liberty of signing you up for a lifetime membership with the Harry Potter fan club. I believe you will find a delivery of all seven books on tape awaiting your signature, as well as many letters and gifts from the members of your Harry Potter blog who have found inspiration from your dissertations on Harry's infantile need to 'bitch' about every unfortunate circumstance in his life. Now if you will excuse me...."
Without another word the stately alien leader strode away, leaving an awed silence in his wake. Even Lennox appeared utterly sideswiped by the put-down he had just recieved. Dis!
A few days later, a sign appeared in the break room reading:
Living with giant robotic aliens: A how-to guide for day-to-day survival
Rule number 1: When in doubt, duck.
Rule number 2: NEVER get into a prank war with Optimus Prime. He gives as good as he gets.
Rule number 3: Don't mention the words 'Harry Potter' around Lennox unless you like being shot in the balls.
Author's Note: Ta-da! What do you guys think? I'm not very experienced with humor, so you'll have to let me know how I'm doing. This one-shot was inspired by a scene in the transformers book, "The Veiled Threat", in which Lennox bitches about not having an iPod. So no screaming at me that he's out of character-- the producers wrote him that way in the book, not me.