"So we can't really leave any time soon," Hot Rod's comment laid out the lengthy explanation from Perceptor.
"Correct. Omega Supreme simply does not have the energy to get us to the next system," Perceptor replied.
"Then we need to find some that we can use," Hot Rod said. "There is a system nearby – can it have what we need?"
"We can check, lad, but if we land, Omega may not be able to take off," Kup mused. The old veteran had been semi-retired when Hot Rod had asked him to come along.
"Perceptor, can Omega maintain an orbit around the planet's moon?" Hot Rod asked.
"Almost indefinitely," the Autobot scientist said.
"All right," Hot Rod said. "Cosmos, Perceptor, Twincast, you three will head down to get us a read on the situation. Stay safe, and try to find some energy. If trouble comes, holler. Kup, Blurr, and I will make our way down."
Now, it was a matter of seeing what sort of energy remained.
Entry in three, two, one…
Perceptor could feel the buffeting as he entered the atmosphere – and knew that both Cosmos and Twincast were both close by as well.
There would be an impact – but they would be far enough from the abandoned settlement to avoid doing any damage. They had detected some biological life forms.
They landed with no complications, but they were unable to locate any energy. With that signal, Hot Rod made the only decision he could. Omega Supreme placed himself into stasis lock after the other three Autobots had left him, and chose to hide in an asteroid belt.
Kup, Hot Rod, Cosmos, and Blurr all scanned forms. Perceptor and Twincast did shortly afterwards.
For the next fifteen thousand years, they would rest.
/---*---/ PRESENT DAY /---*---/
Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard was not exactly thrilled to be on this dig. If anything, it looked more like suburbia – or at least the Ancients' version of it.
"Looks like we have some stuff here," one of the Marines said. He picked up the device, looking a lot like an Ancient version of a boom box.
He brushed off some of the accumulated dust – looking over the boom box. He didn't see any tapes – or whatever the Ancients used.
"What do you suppose this is?" the Marine asked.
Sheppard looked – it was as if it had a face on the front…
"Odd symbol," he noted.
"Probably a brand or something like that. Too bad I didn't bring my 2Pac CDs," the Marine said.
"Right… and make sure the MALP gets back to Atlantis, Sergeant" Sheppard said.
"I just sent it back."
"Then why is it still there?"
The Marine sighed.
"I'll check it out, sir," he told Sheppard.
He carried the boom box back with him, as Sheppard continued his search of the suburb. It was proving to be little better than an IOA meeting.
At that point, Sheppard noticed something – almost garaged. It looked like a car… certainly not any Earth car.
So how does an Ancient car drive?
He walked over, and opened the canopy – which included the entire windshield. Okay, this doesn't look like any Ancient vehicle I've seen…
Perceptor noted the bipedal biological human approach him. He'd taken the form of the robot that had arrived from that wormhole-based transportation system largely because it was a better fit for him – and it would allow at least some communication.
"Hot Rod, I am transmitting some language data, hang on."
He watched (actually, observed) as the being began to work on him. Just then, the human stopped as he'd brushed some stuff away.
"Colonel Sheppard, did our MALP have any custom etching on it?"
As the human waited for a response, Perceptor shot a databurst to the other Autobots on the planet – everything he had pulled from the computers linked to the remotely-operated vehicle these humans had used.
"Custom etching?" Sheppard asked, as he looked for the ignition on the car. "Can you describe it, Griffith?"
"Looks sort of like a face," the Marine's voice said as Sheppard wiped some dust offthe dashboard and steering console…
And saw that in the middle of his steering wheel was a robot face, one that seemed… gentle, for lack of a better word.
"Yeah, this car's got one, too."
"The face… looks like a robot, but still seems kind, for lack of a better word?" Sheppard asked.
"Pretty much," Griffin's voice said. "What do you think it means?"
"Get on the horn to Atlantis… see if anyone back home has an idea what it means," Sheppard said.
"Yes, sir," the Marine said.
Sheppard took a closer look at the car's dashboard. It was unlike any Ancient tech… maybe some other alien technology?
"What exactly are you… I mean, you look like the kind of car I'd like to take out for a spin, but I get the impression there's more than meets the eye here," he said to the car.
Do we initiate contact? Hot Rod's question had been kicked around by Perceptor for about thirty seconds – at least as these humans reckoned time. It was an eternity for an Autobot.
I believe it might be a good idea, he shot back in a databurst.
Sheppard's search for the ignition was still not going well.
"Excuse me, but is there something you are looking for?"
The voice caused Sheppard to bump his head on the dashboard.
"Ouch! Who said that?"
Sheppard looked around the car.
"Great, I'm in an alien KITT."
"Actually, my designation in your language would be Hot Rod," the disembodied voice coming from the car said. "What's a Kit?"
"Oh, a car with artificial intelligence from an old TV series where I come from," Sheppard explained.
"I see. And taking a spin is what you normally do with vehicles?" the car asked.
"Well, it's when I'd like to see what they can do. Drive around, cruise – safely, of course – and sometimes just find a spot where you can go flat-out, drive as fast as the engine will go," Sheppard said.
There was silence for the longest five second Sheppard had felt in a while… well, since the last firefight with the Wraith.
"Then perhaps we can help each other out. A member of my team's signal has gotten a little weaker, and if you are willing to help me check on him, I'd be happy to show you just what I can do."
"Not a problem," Sheppard said. "Close up, and let's roll out!"
"Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, United States Air Force. Just call me John," Sheppard said, smiling.