AUTHOR'S NOTE: This isn't intended to be an in-depth story at all, but rather, written as if it were an episode of the original show. Enjoy this random plot bunny that's been chewing on my brain for the past week... or at least part one of it...
It was an otherwise uneventful day in the Ark's recreation room when Bluestreak screeched to a halt in the doorway, his tires smoking, and transformed with a look of wild-opticed excitement on his faceplate. All optics and visors were on the silver gunner as he panted, gulping air through his vents in an effort to cool his engine after that exertion. When he finally managed to speak, it was in a rushed and eager babble that few managed to understand.
"Whoa, slow down, Blue," Jazz advised, walking up and placing a calming hand on Bluestreak's shoulder. "Cool your engines an' speak one word at a time, 'kay?"
Bluestreak nodded, took a moment to compose himself, and began speaking in a voice only slightly slower than before.
"It was huge!" he gushed, spreading his arms wide to hint at some great size. "Flew right over me, I swear I could have reached up and touched it... where's Hound and Beachcomber, they'll wanna hear about this..."
"Hear about what?" asked Hound, perking up. "You've got me curious."
"He's got all of us curious," huffed Ratchet, leaving his chess game with Prowl and going to stand beside Jazz. "Start at the beginning, Bluestreak, and tell us what you saw."
"I was out on patrol," Bluestreak explained. "Lucky thing I was too, 'cause I'm normally not on patrol in the evenings, but Smokescreen's still in repair bay and I volunteered to take over his shift, but anyhow, I was just on my way back to the Ark when I decided to take a shortcut through the forest, 'cause I wanted to get back in time to see 'Family Guy' with the twins, but I don't care about 'Family Guy' anymore because this was so much cooler..."
"Get to the point!" Brawl bellowed from the back of the room.
"I'm getting there!" Bluestreak insisted. "Well anyhow, I was on my way back when I drove into a little clear spot in the trees, which was a good thing because the trees might have hidden it otherwise... and this HUGE shadow passed over me! I thought it might have been a Decepticon at first, but it seemed the wrong shape and I didn't hear thrusters or antigravs, so I transformed and got my gun out just in case and looked up... and I saw it!"
"Saw what?" Ratchet demanded. "What is this 'it' you're talking about?"
Bluestreak grinned widely. "It was a dragon!" he exclaimed.
Dead silence. Then Prowl stood up and gave the other Datsun a stern look. "Are you certain, Bluestreak?"
"I'm positive!" Bluestreak insisted. "An honest-to-Primus dragon! Just like in those fantasy novels Fireflight's always letting me borrow..."
"Which reminds me, you still haven't given me my iBrisingr/i book back..." Fireflight piped up at that moment, but shrank down with a bashful look when Air Raid and Slingshot gave him silencing glares.
Ratchet scowled. "Bluestreak, there's no such thing as dragons. They're just a creature from the humans' mythology, and nothing more. You probably just saw a low-flying airplane or something."
"This wasn't an airplane!" Bluestreak protested. "It had horns and scales and four legs, and airplanes don't have those things! At least not any that I've seen. And it looked at me! Do airplanes have eyes?"
"Aw, Blue," Jazz said in a kind of pitying voice, patting his shoulder. "Sounds like th' heat got t' your processor out there. Why don't ya let me walk with ya t' medbay an'..."
"It's NOT the heat!" Bluestreak insisted. "I wasn't seeing things! And it wasn't a plane or a Decepticon or a really big bird, it was a dragon! Or at least a creature that looked like a dragon! I thought this would be exciting news..."
But already the young gunner was losing the interest of his fellow Autobots, who one by one began returning to their activities, some whispering and chuckling over the story, others ignoring him entirely. Prowl looked at the chessboard, as if contemplating going back to his game, then walked up to Bluestreak and looked him in the optic.
"Bluestreak," Prowl informed him, "I would like to believe your story. But it just isn't logical. Dragons do not exist. They are the invention of the humans. Surely if such creatures existed, they would have verified their existence by now. And if one or more such creatures existed in the vicinity of the Ark, surely we would have discovered them by now."
"But I DID just discover..." Bluestreak countered weakly, a note of desperation in his voice.
"Blue," Jazz said sympathetically, "it's all right, man. Everyone sees things that ain't there sometimes. Even our optics glitch from time t' time. Now c'mon, let's head t' th' lounge where th' twins are an' make sure ya don't miss 'Family Guy'..."
Bluestreak blasted out a sigh. "No thanks, Jazz. Not in the mood anymore." And he turned and walked off.
Ratchet watched the Datsun go, considering. "Think there could be anything to his story? Blue's not given to lying or making stuff up to cause trouble."
"His story is illogical," Prowl countered, sitting down before the chessboard and making his next move. "It might not be a lie, but it could simply be his sensory systems malfunctioning. I'd suggest a maintenance scan in the near future."
"Will do," Ratchet replied. "Poor kid, though. He seemed so sure of what he'd seen." He nudged a rook forward. "Checkmate. Gotta run to medbay and take care of something, see you later."
"Wait, that's not checkmate," Prowl protested, but Ratchet was already gone.
Bluestreak flopped onto his recharge berth that night with a weary sigh. What a night. When he'd left the base that afternoon for patrol, he had never imagined that his return and report would make him the laughingstock of the base. Primus, he'd hoped someone would believe his story, but instead everyone saw him as a sunstruck crazy. And what was worse, all evening he'd been hearing mechs whispering behind his back, no doubt passing his story throughout the Ark.
He rubbed at his optics, then at his temples, trying to fight an oncoming CPU ache. Had he really imagined it? His optics were just fine, according to his readout, so had his processors simply shown him something that wasn't there?
He thought back on his patrol, focusing on the trip home when he'd paused in that clearing to transform and work a rock out of one of his tires. A slight chill had passed over him as a shadow had fallen across his back, and he'd jumped to his feet and drawn his rifle, ready to fire overhead at the oncoming Decepticon...
But it hadn't been a Decepticon. It hadn't even been a cybernetic being. An enormous beast had soared overhead, so close he had nearly reached up to touch it before catching himself. Easily fifty feet from reptilian snout to spade-tipped tail, it's massive wingspan had cast the entire clearing in shadow. It's scales had gleamed a pearly white in the sunlight, with sky-blue markings swirling across the wing membranes, and flashing violet eyes had caught him and held him in their slit-pupiled stare.
His rifle had fallen, forgotten, to his feet, and would remain there until long after the creature had looped around and flown back the way it came, leaving the gunner gaping after it in wonder.
Wonder if it lives around here, he mused now, folding his arms behind his head. Wonder if it has a nest, or a cave or whatever. Hey, maybe there's more of them. Maybe next time I have a day off I can go looking... it was flying northeast, if I just follow it's route...
But he didn't know if the creature was friendly or not. Maybe it would be more prudent to wait until he had at least one fellow Autobot on his side in this matter. Then they could go out together and investigate.
He offlined his optics and tried to relax, but images of the dragon kept haunting his processor and invading his dream cycles.
Autobots were not notable for their cruelty, but they could and did have their callous moments. The aftermath of Bluestreak's incredible story was one of those instances -- even days afterward, he had to endure the ribbing and teasing of his comrades, ranging from the good-natured to the downright nasty.
"Hey Blue, just how big WAS this thing ya saw?" asked Inferno during the morning refueling, smirking a little.
"Um... about Dinobot-sized, actually," Bluestreak replied, not catching right away that the fire truck was being snarky. "HUGE wingspan too, but it would have to be big to support that big a body..."
Inferno laughed. "Don't have t' make up exact dimensions for it, Blue. I was just kiddin'."
"You asked..." Bluestreak explained lamely, but Inferno had already walked off. The gunner sighed and left the room, continuing down the hall and bracing himself for the inevitable attack. He didn't have long to wait.
"Hey Bluestreak, been off critter-watching lately?" Powerglide cackled. "Seen any unicorns? Or ooh, maybe a flock of fairies! I hear it's their nesting season."
"Ha ha," Bluestreak huffed. "Leave me alone."
"Just don't get any bright ideas to start feeding the dragons," giggled Sideswipe. "The humans won't take too kindly to their fair maidens being used as kibble..."
"Or start playing Saint George with it," Cliffjumper added, getting in on the game. "Locking Carly in a tower and fighting the dragon to rescue the damsel in distress..."
"If he has to rescue a damsel in distress, wouldn't it make more sense for him to lock Spike in the tower and rescue HIM?" asked Slingshot.
"Spike's not a damsel," Sideswipe pointed out.
Slingshot shrugged. "So?"
"Will you guys cut it out?" Bluestreak demanded, and stormed off. The gathered mechs only laughed and broke into a chorus of "Puff the Magic Dragon" as he strode away. Bluestreak clenched his fists, wishing he could deck someone without being told off by an officer for it...
"If I hear one more comment about the dragon, so help me!" Bluestreak roared, whirling to face the speaker... and shutting up almost instantly. "Um... yes, sir?"
Optimus Prime sighed and set a hand on the gunner's shoulder. "Why didn't you tell me you were being harassed? I would have put a stop to it."
"I didn't want to bother you, sir."
"It's never a bother to lend my troops a hand, Bluestreak," Prime told him. "But back to what I wished to speak to you about. This dragon story of yours..."
"Am I in trouble for it?"
"No," Prime assured him. "But you seem adamant about declaring it to be fact. Would it not save yourself a great deal of trouble to simply admit you might have imagined it?"
So not even Prime believed him. He guessed he should have expected that, but it still hurt. "I can't do that, Prime. Because that would be lying. I know nobody believes me, but I can't deny what I saw just because it seems impossible to everyone else. And I'm not going to blow it off as something I imagined either. I saw what I saw."
Prime nodded, seeming a bit resigned. "If that's the way you feel, Bluestreak, I won't press it further. I'll see what I can do about the harassment, at least." He shook Bluestreak's hand, then turned and walked off.
"Huh?" He turned and glanced down. "Oh, hi Sparkplug. You're not here to make fun of me, are you?"
"Why would I do that, Bluestreak?" the middle-aged human asked with a slight smile. "I was just going to ask if you'd be willing to drive me to the library."
"Oh, sure." He folded himself into his Datsun mode, swinging his driver-side door open. "I'd be happy to, I've been hoping for an excuse to get away for awhile."
Sparkplug patted his dashboard as he climbed in. "I can only imagine. Bumblebee told Spike and me what you were going through, and I have to say, I'm pretty disappointed in a lot of the Autobots' behavior toward you. You'd think they'd treat one of their own better."
"Do YOU think I'm making it up, Sparkplug?" Bluestreak asked as he made his way through the halls and out of the base. "Or that I just imagined it?"
"I think you saw SOMEthing," Sparkplug replied. "And you're not a liar or a prankster, so if you say you saw a dragon... then I'm inclined to believe that you saw a dragon, or something close to it."
Warmth flooded Bluestreak's spark. Finally, someone believed him. "Thanks, Sparkplug. Means a lot to me."
"Not a problem, Blue."
The talk turned to more idle, everyday matters as Bluestreak drove, finally pulling up before the library. Sparkplug hopped out of the vehicle and disappeared into the building, promising to be quick. Bluestreak didn't really mind waiting, though -- it was peaceful and quiet here, without any of his comrades to poke fun at him for his story. Even the eager kids who broke free from their mom to poke at the Autobot symbol on his hood and engage him in eager conversation were a welcome respite from what he was going through back at the Ark.
Finally Sparkplug returned, dumping a formidable stack of books on Bluestreak's seat before sitting down. "Whew... I don't envy librarians, having to haul books around all day. They're heavier than people expect."
"Planning on doing a lot of reading?" asked Bluestreak, flashing his headlights at the kids in farewell before pulling out of the parking lot.
"Actually, these are for you." He pointed off to his right. "Stop at the park there, and we'll do some research. Maybe we can uncover a little more information on this dragon you saw."
Bluestreak pulled up to the curb to let Sparkplug climb out. "Aw shucks, you didn't have to do that..."
"It's purely selfish, Bluestreak," Sparkplug laughed. "I'm just as curious about this beast as you are."
Once Sparkplug had exited the vehicle Bluestreak transformed, and the two of them sat down under an oak tree and leafed through the books, which turned out to mostly be mythology books and the like. Bluestreak found himself critically studying their illustrations, his optics picking out the differences between the dragon he'd seen and the dragons depicted here.
"This is all wrong," he pointed out. "The dragon I saw had four legs. This one only has two."
"My guess is whoever drew the picture had never seen a real dragon," Sparkplug suggested. "Or it could be a subspecies. Maybe you should try drawing what you saw, so you don't forget what it looks like."
"Oh, I've got an image of it saved to my CPU," Bluestreak assured him. "Besides, I'm not much of an artist."
"Why don't you share that image?" Sparkplug suggested. "Maybe Prime and the others will believe you if you have solid proof like that."
"I dunno," Bluestreak said sadly. "I was kind of hoping they'd believe my words and not NEED proof."
"Hey, cheer up," Sparkplug told him, lightly punching his leg. "And keep reading. You might learn something useful."
Inaccurate pictures or not, Bluestreak couldn't help but be fascinated by what he read, and maybe a little terrified. In many of the books, especially the older ones, dragons were described as cruel, cunning beasts with hot fiery breath like a Dinobot's and poisonous blood. They seemed to delight in terrorizing humans and often demanded meals of the best of farmers' flocks and herds, or even fair maidens. They hoarded gold and jewels, could hypnotize their prey with their sinister gaze, had rock-hard scales with few weak spots...
But as he read on he found accounts that contradicted that monstrous portrayal. The Chinese portrayed dragons as wise and powerful guardians with control over the elements, who brought rain and guarded rivers and lakes. Other stories described them as intelligent beings that, while not strictly good, didn't go out of their way to cause harm to humans either. In certain cases they were seen as sources of wisdom, or even as gods. And some dragons apparently even forged powerful bonds with humans and carried them on their backs as dragonriders.
I wonder which kind of dragon the one I saw is, he mused, flipping through a copy of Dragonlover's Guide to Pern as carefully as he could so as not to rip a page by accident. I didn't SEE a rider, but maybe this one's rider was somewhere else... and it didn't look like the Chinese ones, those don't have wings. I sure hope it wasn't one of the nasty kinds...
"Huh?" His head jerked up at that voice. "Oh, hi Hoist."
"Glad you could make it," Sparkplug said warmly as the green tow truck transformed and moved to stand beside them. "Bluestreak and I were just doing some research on his incredible sighting."
"Ah yes, the dragon," Hoist replied, nodding. "I'd heard tell of the tale, but I hadn't had time to ask Bluestreak about it. I was hoping a fellow dragon-watcher might wish to compare stories..."
Bluestreak's jaw fell open. "You saw it too?"
"I seriously doubt it was the same one you saw, seeing as I was almost a thousand years in the past when I saw mine," Hoist answered. "And Spike and Warpath saw it as well. I'm wagering they kept quiet about it so as to save face, however -- humans aren't exactly partial to tales of the fantastic, and the minibots are probably putting pressure on Warpath to stay quiet."
"I'm just glad I'm not the only one who's seen something like this," Bluestreak said gratefully. "I was starting to wonder if I really HAD just imagined it."
"I know the feeling all too well," Hoist said sympathetically. "Do tell me what this dragon of yours looked like."
"Um... it had four legs and wings, like this one." He picked up one of the illustrated guides to mythological creatures and showed Hoist the picture. "Except the one I saw was white instead of green and not as spikey. Kind of an iridescent white, actually. And it had horns -- two big ones kind of like an antelope's, and a cluster of smaller ones that went down the back of its neck."
"What did the wings look like?" asked Sparkplug curiously. "Like a bird's or a bat's, or something completely different?"
"Batlike," Bluestreak replied. "And kind of see-through -- not like glass, but more like holding a sheet of paper up to the sun... translucent's the word, I guess..."
"Would it happen to be of the fire-breathing persuasion?" asked Hoist suddenly.
Hoist pointed up. "I think your dragon has returned... with friends."
Bluestreak glanced up excitedly... only for that excitement to quickly shift to dread. Half a dozen dragons swooped down on the two Autobots and their human friend, eyes glittering savagely and deep, piercing roars thundering from their throats. The lead dragon, an emerald-green beast with a lighter green belly, folded its wings and dove like a falcon, claws extended and white-hot fire bursting from its jaws.
"Look out!" he shouted, and in one swift movement he scooped Sparkplug up in his hands and dove to the side. Hoist flung himself to the other side as a sheet of blue-gold flame carpeted the area where they had just been sitting. The tree they had been sitting beneath burst into flame, and the stacks of books were reduced to piles of ash in the blackened grass.
"I think we can safely assume they're not friendly," Hoist noted, drawing his gun.
"Sparkplug, run!" Bluestreak ordered, setting the human down. "Find cover!"
"I'm not going to run like a coward..." Sparkplug protested.
Another dragon, this one scarlet mottled with gold, blasted flame at them, this time catching Bluestreak's left doorwing. He screamed as the searing heat warped the metal and practically melted the joint, fusing the wing to his shoulder. Dropping to one knee, he yanked his ion rifle out of subspace and fired, aiming for the creature's own wing. Despite everything he really didn't want to kill these creatures, but neither did he want to see Hoist or Sparkplug hurt.
The red dragon screamed in agony as the blast struck its wing, crisping the membranes and charring scales and hide and bone. It plummeted to the ground and thrashed in agony. A blue dragon striped in violet and green darted down and grabbed the wounded creature's shoulders, trying to lift it to safety, but the green dragon gave a barking roar and beat its blue comrade across the head with a clenched paw. The blue whined pitifully but dropped the red, rising into the air.
Hoist whirled and fired on the black dragon that had swooped down to rake at him. The beast hissed as the blast seared a patch of scales on its neck and veered away, but not before its claws had caught Hoist across the chest and gouged out deep furrows in the metal. Hoist staggered back, a hand over the slashes, and quickly surveyed the damage. When he'd assured himself that the blow had only opened the metal and not damaged any internal components, he turned his attention back to the sky and kept firing, scattering the dragons that kept diving and swooping down to harry the Autobots.
"There's too many of them!" Bluestreak shouted. "We need backup!"
"I've radioed Optimus regarding the situation," Hoist replied, squeezing a few rounds off at a mottled gray and brick-red dragon that had just launched a fireball at the tow truck. "Hopefully he doesn't mistake it for a crank call..."
A terrible bellow, louder and fiercer than the dragons' roars, shook the air and drowned out all other noise, and the creatures cried out in dismay and scattered as a huge silver and yellow form crashed through the park. Though no bigger than the largest of the dragons, the newcomer sent the creatures scattering and shrieking in panic as it blasted its own fire at them. Again the blue dragon pulled and yanked at the fallen dragon, trying to carry it away to safety, but a snap of the attacker's steel jaws sent it flying away with a piteous cry. The other still-functional dragons followed close behind, with the green bringing up the rear as if to herd them on their way.
"Whew," sighed Hoist, subspacing his gun. "That was, as the humans would say, a close shave. Thank you, Grimlock."
The Dinobot commander huffed. "Me Grimlock not scared of stupid dragons," he said disdainfully, transforming and cracking his knuckle joints. "Me showed them not to mess with Autobots."
Bluestreak lowered his own weapon and looked around, sudden panic seizing his spark. "Where's Sparkplug?"
"I thought he was with you!" Hoist protested.
"I'm right over here."
Bluestreak and Hoist turned to see Sparkplug standing by the red dragon's side, one hand on its neck. Bluestreak hurried forward and scooped the human up, partly to check him for injuries and partly to get him away from the dragon before it decided to make a snack of him.
"Are you hurt?" he asked.
"Just in my pocketbook," Sparkplug replied resignedly. "I don't even WANT to know what I'm going to owe the library for those burned books... but I'm a bit more concerned about the dragon."
"You are aware that those creatures WERE trying to melt us into slag just now, aren't you?" asked Hoist.
"You know," Sparkplug replied thoughtfully, "I don't think they were doing it all on their own. Did you get a good look at their necks?"
"Not really, it was the mouths I was more worried about," Bluestreak replied, looking at his melted doorwing.
"Well, take a look at this one."
Hoist approached the dragon warily. The creature's great sides heaved in and out as it breathed, but otherwise it was still -- possibly it had been knocked out from the fall or simply lost consciousness from the pain.
"It's collared," Hoist noted, reaching down to touch the thick band of metal at the base of its neck.
"That's weird," Bluestreak said, puzzled now. "The one I saw didn't wear a collar. You think it's a trained attack animal of some kind?"
"Not sure," Sparkplug replied. "But it's worth a look at anyhow, right?"
"Me Grimlock say just smash and be done with it," Grimlock argued.
"No, Grimlock, Prime's going to want a look at this," Sparkplug replied. "Let's get it to the Ark, and quick."