Disclaimer: Transformers belongs to Hasbro, and the events in the recent movies to Dreamworks. Those elements of the following story thus belong to me.
Dedication: This chapter, no, entire story, is dedicated to those who voted for this story on the NaNoWriMo poll on my profile page. You had nothing to go by and yet still selected this story. I'ld name you, but those aren't attached to votes. Seeing as how it's half-way through the month, I'ld figure I'ld give you a taste of what can of writing worms you've opened. ^_~
A Captured Beast Within a Human Skin
Chapter 1 – A Day in the Life
If there was one thing Sam could say about the United States government, it was that they were always one time. At least on the day-to-day things, political deadlines were a different matter.
Everyday at seven forty sharp they would pull into his driveway, the passenger getting out of the car to walk around it and open the door for him. Sam would pat Bee on the hood and then make his way into the black car. The door would close behind him, and the driver would greet him with a "Good Morning Mr. Enig". The other agent would reenter the car and before he was fully settled they would be out of his drive way. Punctual and rhythmic.
Sam had tried to get them to talk to him, but the only thing he got were yeses, nos, or a four word or less sentence. He had given up in being able to have a conversation with them by the end of the first month. Sam had managed to get their names though, Airman First Class Stacy drove and Senior Airman Kantz rode shot-gun. They both sat ram-rod straight, Stacy with his eyes on the road and Kantz on the road and area surrounding them. Every so often Kantz would look into the rear mirror. Sam had not yet decided if the Senior Airman was looking at him or checking for followers. Either way, he liked to make up stories about them during the commute. Stacy worked nights as a stripper and Kantz made home brew beer in the barracks.
They never took the same route every day, there was about seven of them that they cycled through randomly. Sam could never tell which one they were going to take until they were already on it. He swore the airmen decided their path by pulling a number at random from a hat. The lab was not that secret.
Well, maybe it was. They would not let Bumblebee take him there after all, but he was more inclined to believe that was because of alien induced paranoia rather than keeping secrets from civilians. Plus, Sam was fairly sure Bee knew all about it through satellites and government servers and just played dumb when asked what he knew about the base.
Eventually, they pulled into the parking garage for DigiComp Storage, a web-based company that provided server storage space for file back up or other purposes to those who wanted it. The company was a real one and not just simply a front, but only actually used the first floor of the seven-story building. The other six and the three below were the one of the Air Forces Research and Development project bases.
"Thanks for the ride guys!" Sam called as he exited the car at the main doors. As expected, neither one answered and then drove off to park. When he was ready to go home, the secretary would call and the two soldiers would pick him up at the lower doors to take him home. He did not really know what they did during the time he worked, but suspected it was a lot of simple tasks and using the living quarters on the fourth floor. Sam would never say the Air Force did not take care of him, that floor contained small bedrooms, locker rooms, a gym, and several recreation areas. It was not that uncommon for him and his partner to play a round of Super Smash Brothers before heading home for the night. Or to join a lunchtime foosball tournament.
The lobby was full of light, thanks to large windows of bulletproof glass, but very sparse in terms of anything else. There really was only the front desk, behind which was a set of elevators and hallway that led to the offices and servers of DigiComp.
"Good morning Mr. Enig," Ms. Scott greeted him as he came up the half a set of stairs that led to the parking garage. In charge of entry security, all Sam really knew about her was that she was taken and could kick his ass better then half of the NEST crew.
"Good morning Ms. Scott," he sang in greeting as he walked past the desk to the elevators. He swiped his card key and pressed the up button. The one on his left dinged and opened its doors for him.
"Hold the elevator!" a voice echoed through the lobby. Sam pressed the open door button and stuck his head out of the metal contraction to see a slightly overweight, black haired guy, in his late twenties running toward him.
"Tom," Sam grinned as his partner made it into the elevator, not gasping but still taking in more air than normal. "Have a good weekend?" he asked, pushing the button for the seventh floor.
"Yeah, I had tickets to see the Raiders so I went with a couple of friends."
"Did we win?"
Tom sent him an astonished look. "You're a 24 year old guy and you don't follow football?!"
Sam shrugged. "I've never been very athletic and just never saw the point of watching people beat each other up. But beach volleyball, now that's a different story." He gave the other man a wink.
"Sam you devil." Tom gave him a light punch in the arm as the door split to release them.
"What can I say, I'm a young, healthy, adult male." He shrugged as they headed down the short hallway to their lab space. Tom swiped his card and opened the door, indicating that Sam should enter first with a mock bow.
"Why, thank you sir," Sam replied in a false soprano.
The lights automatically activated as they stepped in, starting with where they were standing and then moving away to light up the rest of the lab space. It was large, just shy of half the floor with roof access on top of the already abnormally high ceiling. There were bits and parts of mechanics lying on tables everywhere, papers and notes scattered in loose leaf piles and in some cases tapped to walls, there was a large computer station on the right wall, and several mini data accesses were placed around the room to enable data retrieving and entering from project stations.
Once all the little parts they were working on were perfected and combined, Sam and Tom would have a self-repairing satellite. The satellite was expensive sure, but it would save money in the long run by avoiding the cost of having NASA run repair missions for defense satellites. It would also ensure a longer life then what current satellites were getting, extending it from ten years to twenty.
There were lab coats waiting for them on pegs by the door, but they ignored them. It is not like they were a requirement in the lab enforced by the Air Force, and Sam always found the sleeves annoying and at times they hampered him when he was working on satellite entrails. Tom always claimed it clamped his style.
There was a netbook lying on a shelf next to the coats, plugged in with a bright green light indicating it was fully charged. Next to it was a cord for a second one.
Sam shot a look at Tom who sheepishly pulled a netbook out of bag. "I couldn't just leave that piece of code alone! It would have bugged me all weekend, driving me insane if I didn't work on it."
The brunette just shook his head. "Whatever. Did you finish it at least you workaholic?"
"Of course, you doubt my skills?" Tom placed a hand over his chest in mock hurt. "And I'm less of a workaholic than you. I actually go home every night."
Sam scowled. It was not his fault that there were times he spent all night working. It usually happened about once a week and was a result of his All Spark altered mind obsessing more that usual over a problem, knowing that the answer or project completion was only this far away. It never let him leave in those instances until he was done or too exhausted to do the task without risking damage to the satellite.
Not that Tom knew that, in fact only Bumblebee did. And maybe Ratchet, Sam would not have put it past the scout to inform the medic on things concerning the matter. But since not once had Ratchet showed up at his house in the two years he had been working with the Air Force Sam assumed it was not anything to be concerned about and was just thankful for the beds on the fourth floor.
"Right then, want to work on Ed?" Sam grabbed his nexbook and made his way over to a table on the left side of the room.
Normally they worked separately, Tom on the programming code and Sam on the actual building. Ed was the current part of the satellite they were working on, an arm that had four fingers with Swiss army knife like endings. Sam had finished working on the screwdriver, one based on a magnetic system and as Tom had announced he had finished writing the commands that the base computer would send to Ed's second finger.
At the moment, Ed was not hooked up to a computer mind so Tom connected it to his netbook. "Right, let's see. You have a practice sheet somewhere around here?"
Sam snagged one off the table behind them. It was not actually a sheet, more like a box that had eight screws in the lid. More then any panel on the completed satellite would have, but if Ed could handle this it could hand proper work. Sam set the box down in front of Ed.
"Let's see what you wasted your weekend on Tom," Sam joked.
The other man did not answer, instead typing into his computer. Ed jerked and then smoothly extended and curled his fingers. They had gotten that down last Monday, and now had moved on to the individual appendences. Ed's arm extended out, putting the hand closer to the practice box and the second finger extended towards the first screw.
Sam held his breath, hoping this worked. They had been on a roll lately, Tom's and his work coming together and working within a couple of hours of combining them. So of course there would be a snag eventually. The fingertip rotated, successfully removing the screw from the lid. And then, Ed dropped it.
"Shit." Sam swore, running a hand through his hair. The satellite would only have so many replacement parts in space and thus had to conserve everything it could. Dropping a screw in space meant loosing it for good. Thus, Ed was supposed to hold on to the screw in his fingertip until it came time to close the panel or what ever it was he was working on. And if more that one screw was needed to be removed, the second finger was hollow so the screws could be safely stored inside.
"Is this a me thing or a you thing?" Tom asked.
Sam shook his head, "It's gotta be both. I mean, you were gonna have Ed store it, right?" Tom nodded. "Well, that didn't happen. As a default though he should have been able to still keep it on his finger, something happened to the magnets."
Tom left Sam to his work, heading to the main computer station to find what part of the code went wrong. Sam did not envy the computer engineer, looking at code for long periods of time made his head hurt and trying to find the mistake would really get an ache going behind his eyes.
Instead he turned to Ed, hands on his hips. "Right buddy, let's see what went wrong."
He and Tom spent the day in silence, aside from the occasionally swear word here and there. Most of those came from Sam, while Tom seemed content to make primal noises of aggression and helplessness from time to time.
By the end of the day, Sam's head was pounding and he still had not found out what the issue was. He just knew that the next night would not find him asleep in his own bed but rather either on a bed downstairs or slumped over the table.
"Arg. Ed you really are a stubborn bastard, you know that?" Call it a habit from spending so much time with animate technology, but Sam talked to everything and even gave it a name in most cases. The netbook was June, his phone Barbie, the computer at home was a stubborn male by the name of William, and his favorite coffee maker Eve. It just seemed wrong after knowing his car was alive to not treat other mechanics is a similar manner since they had had the same capacity.
Well, before he had destroyed the All Spark. Sam still felt bad about that. He had essentially shattered the Holy Grail and then threw it in a foundry. The Autobots kept telling him that losing such an artifact was not that bad of a deal, they had been without it for over ten thousand years and while it was the easiest way of creating a child it was not the only one. It had taken him awhile to stop feeling guilty about it, and even now he still did once in a blue moon, so he supposed talking to the technologies around him helped soften it. Bee just thought it was funny. But then he was always going on about how twelve years of being on Earth had not given him any insight into the human mind.
"This would be so much easier if you could just tell me what went wrong," Sam glared at the mechanic hand in front of him. "I mean, what it is Ed? The magnets? Power? Size of the fitting?!" He threw his hands up in exasperation but Ed did not even twitch.
"Right, that does it buddy," Sam felt Tom's hand land on his shoulder. He had not even heard his lab partner walk over. "I know you talk to Ed, but when I can hear you from across the lab it's quitting time."
Tom reached around Sam and closed the open netbook. "One round, or two, we'll see, of killing each other with on the Nintendo and then home you go."
Sam sighed in defeat, picking up June and making his way to the door. "All right, all right. I give." He plugged the netbook in. "Just give me, like two minutes to clean up okay?"
Tom gave a one shoulder shrug. "Sure, I probably should too." Sam looked towards Tom's station to see a candy bag wrapper and the remains of lunch. Had Sam even ate his? He did not remember stopping. Bee would freak if he found out.
Sam set to work organizing and tidying up his table. He stroked Ed's second finger. "You're such trouble, you know that?" Ed did not answer, but Sam thought the finger twitched in his direction as he retrieved his hand. He stared at the satellite arm, but nothing else happened so he put it off as a product of his over worked mind. That was happening a lot lately; maybe he should take a vacation.
Tom was waiting by the door, radiating a 'I'll-force-you-to-leave-if-I-have-to' aura.
"You can't take your netbook home."
"Wasn't planning on it," Tom pointed to the shelf showing two charging computers blinking blue.
Tom walked out the door, Sam just behind him. "Good night Ed!" he called as he switched the lights off. He could not be sure, seeing as the lab was in the process of going dark, but Sam swore Ed's hand dropped the to the left in a half wave.
He turned to Tom to ask if he had seen it, but got distracted.
"I call shotgun on Link," the black haired man declared.
"Not if I get there first!" Sam took off for the elevator, but the door did not close quickly enough to prevent Tom from getting in.
The computer programmer grinned and pressed the button for the fourth floor. "Race ya."
Sam tightened his grip on his messenger bag. "Sure, but get ready to lose. I'm faster." He gave Tom a devil's grin.
The elevator dinged and Sam squeezed by his partner, making his way to the rec room a slow spirit. He need not have bothered; another team had already commandeered the gaming system.
"Winner!" the TV exclaimed while Jigglypuff did a victory dance.
Sam sputtered in laugher. "Who lost to Jigglypuff?" The older man on the right, Shaun, raised his hand.
"I got ambushed by three pokémon at once."
"What's the hold up?" Tom asked, seeing Sam still in the doorway when he finally entered the rec room. He peered over his partner's shoulders. "Oh, hi Shaun, Alice. Wait, Jigglypuff won?"
Shaun smacked himself in the forehead. "Yes, now can we drop it?"
His research partner, Alice, gave him a sympatric smile before transforming it into a competitive smile as she looked at Tom and Sam. "Team Satellite vs. Team Bullet?"
"You're on," Tom gently shoved Sam out of the way and snagged a controller.
"Just let me warm something up," Sam made his way to the microwave on the back counter and removed some left over pizza from dinner the night before. Yep, he had forgotten to eat lunch again. He stuck it in the microwave and gave it a soft pat on top as it started up.
"Who do you want Sam?" Alice called over her shoulder.
"Damit." Stupid Tom. "Um…I'll take Star Fox or Roy."
Alice was a woman in her late thirties with the most vibrant red hair Sam had ever seen. Not actually of Irish decent, she had immigrated to the Untied States during high school from Scotland and always shot down those who called her Irish. Shaun was one of the older researchers in the building, just climbed over the hill the past year and he already had a head full of salt and pepper hair.
Together they worked in the basement labs developing a new type of high heat round that could be used in an easy to carry gun. Both were pretty good marksmen with guns, but swords and paper fans were a different story. Team Satellite won both rounds, though the second one was close. For not being Irish, Alice sure had a lot of luck.
Shaun called Ms. Scott to inform her they were ready to leave while the rest of them rolled up the cords and cleaned up.
"Is there a reason you always pick a pokémon?" Sam asked Alice.
"My son never gives me another option," she laughed.
They headed down to the parking garage, talking and laughing the entire time. Shaun invited them to a Halloween party his wife was throwing next weekend, costumes only. Sam grinned. He had gone to the party last year and had a good time, had even met a cute girl. He'ld have to come up with a cool costume.
Sam did not know how they managed it, but each of their designated cars came at essentially the same time, all in single file. After a mass of 'good-bye's and 'see you tomorrow's they all slid into the cars and took off.
The ride home had Sam debating over whether he should eat what was left of his lunch or not. He was hungry but give it less then an hour and he would be home and could have proper meal. He settled for eating a couple of his carrot sticks and draining his water bottle to take the edge off.
"Thanks for the ride guys!" Sam exited the car after it pulled into his driveway. As expected, he did not get a response from Stacy or Kantz. He did not even bother watching the car leave, his attention instead focused on the car in the driveway flashing his headlights at him in greeting.
"Hey Bee," Sam walked up to the car and ran his hand up the hood.
Bumblebee let out a high-pitched chirrup and Sam gave him a great smile.
"Welcome home…You have been gone for far too long…"
"Thanks. Hey, you mind if we head to the grocery store. I forgot to eat lunch so I'm thinking a large steak dinner."
The door clicked open in a way that said 'yea! A ride!' and 'I'm disappointed you don't take care of yourself' at the same time. How Bee did it, Sam had no clue and sometimes he wondered if the better question was how did he know. Bumblebee was at the moment, a car. Will Lennox though had expressed similar thoughts so he was not alone in his puzzlement.
Sam rubbed his thumb over the Autobot decal in the center of the steering wheel as Bee pulled out, a habit he had started the first time he had sunk into the Camaro's seats. The moment did not last long however, Bumblebee was first and foremost his guardian.
"You really should eat lunch Sam," the voice came from the radio in the center of the dashboard.
Sam sighed, "Yeah, I know. Today was one of those days though."
The arrived at the store, and Sam got out before Bee could lock him in. "I'm really hungry," he said as explanation before leaving the yellow car in the parking lot.
Ten minutes later he walked out the store with a steak, some veggies, a six-pack, and a day old pumpkin pie. He slipped into the driver's seat, placed the grocery bag on the passenger seat, and buckled up as Bee's engine turned on. The Camaro pulled out of the parking lot at took a right. Looked like it would be the long way home.
"One of those days?" Bee asked as if their conversation had not been interrupted.
"Ed was not behaving, and so I was forced to work on him all through the day. You can probably not expect me home tomorrow night."
There was sound that resembled too long fingernails tapping on piano keys, something Sam had come to link to a human's 'ah' of understanding.
"Yeah," Sam leaned his head back on the headrest. He stayed that way for a while. "I'm thinking a vacation. Any suggestions?"
"We are family," sounded over the radio.
"Sounds good, I haven't been home since Easter."
Bee seemed to bounce a little on his shocks in happiness.
"Don't know if any of the Autobots would be there though, sorry Bee. You wanna go to Oregon instead? Aren't they trying to build another NEST headquarters there?"
"Maybe we should wait until you have managed to acquire your time off, nether your parents nor those in Oregon would object to a short notice of our visit. Tranquility is much closer, but if you manage to get a long vacation I shall like it very much if we can visit those working on the base."
"Right, I'll try to put a request in tomorrow sometime."
They had reached his house by this time and the yellow Camaro pulled all the way up the drive so Sam only had a few steps to walk before he stood in front of the grill. He lit it, and then retreated into the house to get dinner ready.
Songs in order of apperance: King Diamond's "Welcome Home" and Sister Sledge's "We Are Family"
A/N: For those of you who know me, you're probably amazed by this chapter length. . I'm not setting a tone here, I'm not promising that all such chapters will be this length (though the second one looks like it might). Hopefully, those who voted for this aren't disappointed, and if you want me to return my attentions to it I'ld suggest you go vote on my profile because right now my Kingdom Hearts fic is winning. Never fear though! Regardless I will still work on this, it would just mean a longer time between updates.
Reviews, thoughts, and hey even stuffed bunnies are appreciated.