Title: Mistaken Identity
Disclaimer: I own even less than usual, as this fic was requested rather than my own idea.
Summary: Episode Related "Mistaken Identity". Sideburn isn't as quick to catch on to the switch.
AN: I'm trying to capture the feel of and actual RiD episode in this fic which is why it seems like this fic has ADD. Please give me some constructive feedback as to how I did.
"You mean you were there all the time?" Koji asked.
"The Decepticons have been interested in you lately, so we thought some Autobot insurance was a good idea," Optimus admitted. He stood tall in front of Koji, but his arms were crossed defensively. He wasn't proud of having Koji tailed without informing the boy beforehand.
"Yup, we're just a whistle away," Sideburn chimed in happily. As far as assignments went, he could do worse than following Koji around all day.
"Sideburn, we have gotta be closer than that. Koji's in danger because the Decepticons think he can control Fortress Maximus," Prowl said, admonishing his little brother. Sideburn's relaxed sense of duty grated on his older brother sometimes.
Sometimes, Koji wondered whether it was a Cybertronian custom to state the obvious by recapping the current situation at least three times daily. If it was, he felt it was best to play along.
"But I don't even know how I did it," Koji said pointing at himself for emphasis. Or maybe it was simply a military habit, to make sure everyone was up to speed on the facts of the matter. Why that would be necessary, given that none of them were likely to forget, was beyond Koji.
"That may be Koji, but the Decepticons think you do know, and that makes you a very important target for them."
As Optimus turned to inquire from T-Ai if she'd had any luck locating Fortress Maximus, Koji allowed himself to consider what he'd just been told. The Decepticons were after him for obvious reasons, and as a result the Autobots were going to take preventive measures.
This wouldn't end well, Koji thought to himself.
This was not going well, Carl thought.
So far today, he and Koji had hit several of the smaller skate parks in their home district, like they always did on the weekends. But their favorite parks were the larger ones in the neighboring district. This wouldn't be a problem, except that everywhere they went, Koji's babysitters followed. Sideburn and Prowl, his friends, Koji called them most days. Today Koji was feeling less complementary and called them his guard dogs.
Koji had pointed them out when the boys began their day, only saying the two Autobots would be coming with them today. Carl couldn't understand why Koji was so upset at first. Not that anyone else would be able to tell. Koji was a master at hiding his true feelings behind his bright-eyed façade. Only the tight clench of his jaw gave him away.
As the day went on, Carl began to understand why Koji didn't want his Autobot friends following them around. At each park, the other children would eventually take notice of Sideburn and Prowl. At first they wouldn't think much of it, being use to the Autobots hanging around Metro City. But as time went on, the children would begin to get nervous. Autobots would sometimes stop and watch if something caught their interest. In the beginning, that's what the other children assumed Prowl and Sideburn were doing, and even showed off a little for their unexpected audience. When after a while, long after they usually would have lost interest, the Autobots still stayed, the children began to sense something else was going on. Eventually, they started to pay more attention to Koji, who had achieved minor celebrity status after his father's kidnapping. Rumors had spread recently about the Decepticons' interest in Koji and their attempted abduction of him earlier in the week. Connecting Koji's arrival with that of the two Autobots, the other children began to file off, one by one, until Carl and Koji were the last ones left.
This happened at every new park they went to, without fail. And with each new park, Koji's ire rose. When Carl suggested a larger skate park, down by the mall, hoping maybe they could get lost in the crowd for awhile. He was inwardly making plans to have Koji ditch his signature over shirt, thereby making him less recognizable as Dr. Onishi's son, when Koji spoke.
"I'd really like to," Koji said, about going to the bigger park. "But I've got firm instructions not to go very far." Koji's jaw clenched again before he went on speaking. "Don't believe me, just look," said Koji, pointing at his babysitters.
They turned to stare at the brothers, sitting on the street like silent sentinels. Come to think of it, that's exactly what they were.
Beside him, Koji sighed, letting some of his anger drain away. "I think they're just being overprotective."
"I think you're one lucky kid, really."
"Huh?" Koji asked, his mind obviously too caught up in the present to catch Carl's meaning.
Now wouldn't be the time to tell him how lucky he was to have friends so concerned with his welfare that they were willing to sacrifice their time and stay with him around the clock just so he'd be safe. So Carl spun a story about how great the adventures Koji had must be. Something he said must a given a Koji an idea, because he turned to Carl with a speculative look in his eyes.
Scourge had been watching them from a distance for most of the day. The boy and his friend were caught up in some human sport that involved a board with wheels. It made no sense to Scourge, but then again, most of the things humans did made little to no sense to him.
Wherever the boys went, two of the Autobot brothers followed closely behind. Scourge was still furious that he hadn't realized earlier that Optimus would have ordered a protection detail for the boy. He a tipped his hand for nothing, failed to capture the boy, and confirmed the Autobots suspicions that the boy was a target. Galvatron was not pleased and neither was Scourge.
After all the hours of stalking the boy, being careful to keep his distance so the Autobots wouldn't suspect he was there, Scourge had gotten a feel for the boy's behavior. So it struck him as odd when the Koji Onishi grabbed his friend's hand and dragged him into a nearby outbuilding. The Autobots showed little interest in this odd occurrence, then they wouldn't as long as the boy stayed within the perimeter of the park.
When the boy and his friend emerged again something was off, but Scourge couldn't place what it was. Almost immediately the boys split up. Onishi stayed and continued his sport while his friend left the park. Strange, Scourge mused.
There were an infinite number of explanations for the other boy's departure. Other plans, parental orders, the boys could have argued in the outbuilding, but something didn't fit right. Scourge had a problem with puzzles. He could never let them be.
He glanced back at the Onishi boy. He was still under close guard by the Autobots. Scourge wouldn't get anywhere near him today. As long as Galvatron's patience held out long enough for the Autobots' to relax their safety measures, then Scourge would have no problem snatching the boy at a later date.
In the meantime, he had a puzzle to solve.
He followed the boy in the red shirt.
"I assume you've all lost use of your optics and audio receptors," Dr. Onishi said, raising a brow.
"No, why do you ask?" said Sideburn in confusion.
"Because," Dr. Onishi jerked a thumb in the boy's direction, "that is not my son."
The Autobot brothers had returned to the base with the boy they thought was Koji hours before. They had put his silence down to being upset at the restrictions they had placed on his activities. That he kept his head down and refused to meet their eyes was put down to teenage pique. They honestly hadn't thought much about his strange behavior.
Now, faced with a boy who was undoubtedly not Koji, Prowl and Sideburn thought that not paying enough attention might have cost them more than simply Optimus's ire and a scathing look of derision from Dr. Onishi. In reality, as they were both aware, it may have cost Koji his life.
He followed the boy to a larger park, with more children present. The boy almost immediately joined a group of children on what Scourge believed was called a quarter pipe.
The puzzle had become more intriguing. Why had the boy abandoned his friend for these other children? Was the Autobots' presence so overbearing that he would deny the bonds of friendship in favor of these humans he clearly hadn't known when he arrived at the park?
He watched as the boy's hand went to his chest every so often. Merely a nervous tic, Scourge assumed at first. But as time went on, Scourge realized the boy was fingering something that hung around his neck. A familiar device.
Clever boy, he'd slipped away from his Autobot guards with little fuss and proven to have a good mind for deceit. If he weren't foolishly allied with the Autobots, Scourge might find it in himself to respect the boy.
But at the moment, his target was unguarded and he wasn't likely to get another chance at this once the Autobots discovered the boy was missing.
"Don't be overdramatic, they want my son alive," Dr. Onishi chastised Sideburn for his outburst.
Sideburn felt like a sparkling again, and wondered if all human parents had that ability or if Dr. Onishi was just special. It had to be that that Dr. Onishi was just special. If all human parents had the ability, the children of Earth would be doomed.
"Now," said Dr Onishi, "how are you planning to find my son?"
"T-Ai," Optimus called out. "Activate the tracking chip in Koji's communicator. We'll use that to find him. I only hope that we're not too late."
"Sorry," Carl mumbled.
Dr. Onishi sighed. "Not that you're not in trouble Carl, and I'm still going to talk to your father about this, but I do know how my son gets when he wants something. You're not the first person he's talked into doing some crazy scheme of his."
"As far as that goes, you're in good company kid," Sideburn, Koji's usual partner in crime, spoke up.
"Thanks… I think."
Okay, Koji could admit this hadn't been the best idea he'd had this week.
Sure, he was having fun, but it was tempered with guilt. His decision to switch clothes with Carl had been a spur of the moment stroke of genius, or as he was beginning to see it, reckless stupidity. Now that he was actually starting to think about it, he had more than likely put a target on Carl's back along with his clothes. If the resemblance between the boys was good enough to fool the Autobots, maybe it could fool the Decepticons as well, putting Carl in danger.
In reality there was probably no where safer for Carl to be than in the company of the Autobot brothers, but still, the worry kept Koji reaching for his communicator every few minutes. He always managed to talk himself out of making the call and confessing everything to Optimus. He'd remind himself that if he did, he'd be sentencing himself to house arrest at the least and confinement to the base at worst.
Koji wasn't in a hurry for that to happen.
"Transform!" came the familiar voice of the Decepticon commander.
On second thought, house arrest sounded pretty good about now.
Scourge looked down at the boy in confusion. He hadn't even bothered to run, simply holding his ground as the Decepticon leader advanced on his position. It gave Scourge another puzzle to ponder.
For now he needed to get to work. He sent a silent message to his Decepticons, telling them where to meet him. He wouldn't mention that he had the Onishi boy. He didn't trust his Decepticons not to blab to Galvatron.
That done, he reached down and grabbed the boy.
Onishi was silent. Odd, Scourge would have thought the child would be screaming by now. Not that he minded the lack of noise. Human cries grated on his audios.
"You're coming with me boy."
The child sighed. "I figured as much."
Scourge frowned. Some terror would be nice. But it didn't matter, he decided.
"We're too late, Optimus," Prowl reported after speaking to the officers on scene at the skate park. "Scourge was here. From all accounts, he grabbed a boy matching Koji's description and left."
"Scourge has Koji? This is bad," said Sideburn, standing to the left of his brother.
"Very bad," Optimus agreed, with a nod of his head. His disappointment in Koji's conduct was all but forgotten now as fear for the boy's safety took over. Scourge needed Koji alive and well to control Fortress Maximus, but his worry didn't abate. Scourge believed that Koji knew how to control Fortress Maximus, and would never believe that it was a fluke Koji had no idea how to repeat. If Scourge and Galvatron perceived that Koji was useless to them, the teen's life would be in great danger.
They would need to track down Koji quickly. Unfortunately, Scourge had destroyed or disabled Koji's communicator, so their best means of tracking him was no longer possible. They would have to hope they detected Fortress Maximus's next emergence before the Decepticons did if they were to have any chance of finding Koji before anything untoward befell the boy.
They would need to get in contact with Galvatron, and try to bargain for Koji's freedom. Maybe they could offer something Galvatron wanted more than control of Fortress Maximus. What that might be, Optimus couldn't guess. He could only hope that such a thing existed.
Optimus stood before the view screen as T-Ai tried to raise Galvatron on the comm system. His arms were crossed, and he shifted nervously from foot to foot. It was a nervous tic he had developed only recently. In recent days he was able to empathize with his creator more than ever before .
If blame was needed to explain this phenomenon, then it could be laid firmly at Koji's feet. Optimus had developed a bond with the boy that had grown over time to what it was today. It was the closest thing Optimus would likely ever experience to fatherhood.
Not that he'd voice these feelings. After all, Koji already had a father…
… Who was standing beside him in a similar stance.
Sometimes Optimus felt guilty that he'd tried his best to step in to the doctor's shoes while he'd been away. But Koji had needed someone to fill the gap, and he'd turned to Optimus to be that someone.
Finally, after nearly thirty minutes of trying Galvatron's image filled the screen.
"Prime," was the terse greeting.
"Where's the boy, Galvatron?" Optimus demanded.
"The boy? Honestly Prime, can't you keep track of your human toy?"Galvatron snorted. "It's a wonder you've held on to him for this long, what with your track record."
Optimus flinched, and purposely avoided looking at the human scientist at his side. "Where have you taken, Koji?" he repeated.
Galvatron looked puzzled. "You're serious?" he asked.
"I'm not in the habit of playing telephone pranks, now answer me!"
Galvatron frowned. "And what makes you think I have the child?"
"You expect me to believe Scourge was acting alone?"
Galvatron couldn't hide his shock quickly enough. Optimus and Dr. Onishi both saw it. Oh no, Optimus thought.
"He doesn't have my son," Dr. Onishi said.
"No, I don't," Gavaltron growled before cutting the transmission.
"Scourge was acting alone," Dr. Onishi said, unnecessarily.
"This changes things," said Optimus. It changed things more than he wanted to imagine. Scourge was even more ruthless than Galvatron could ever hope to be. Koji was safe as long as they needed him, but when they discovered Koji couldn't control Fortress Maximus? Koji would not find it pleasant.
The Decepticons, sans Galvatron and those loyal to him were assembled awaiting the emergence of Fortress Maximus when Scourge arrived.
Scourge opened his passenger side door to allow the Onishi boy to get out. Koji almost fell out in his hurry to get away from the Decepticon commander. Scourge refrained from chuckling at the boy's discomfort. There was no need to taunt the boy further, especially as they needed his cooperation to a certain extent.
"You've captured the boy?" Mega Octane asked in surprise. "You said nothing about him in your transmission."
"Why should I have? Besides, it would have ruined the surprise," Scourge said with a malevolent chuckle as he transformed.
The boy shuddered, his earlier bravado fading.
"You don't trust us," Mega Octane accused.
"I don't trust Galvatron not to be monitoring our frequencies," Scourge lied to placate his troops.
Mega Octane snorted in disbelief. No matter, the coward wouldn't challenge him, and even if he did the others would never follow him. Not after Scourge had proven himself a superior Decepticon.
At the moment he had more important things to worry about.
"Now, how long until Fortress Maximus emerges?"
"Within the hour, Scourge," Rollbar answered.
Nothing to do now but sit and wait.
T-Ai had managed to locate where Maximus was most likely to appear next.
They were on their way.
The most annoying part was the waiting. There was just no dignified way to do it.
And dignity was something Scourge couldn't do without. While his team lounged around, he was standing tall and erect. But even still, it was hard not to give into the dullness of waiting.
Even the Onishi boy was starting to look bored.
Scourge began idly tapping his fingers against his crossed arms before realizing what he was doing. He immediately stopped and tossed a glare at Onishi for good measure. Unfortunately the boy wasn't looking and couldn't be cowed even further. The stupid child was too busy staring at his feet to look at his captors.
Scourge growled, catching Onishi's attention. The boy looked up, noticed Scourge's glare, and went right back to staring at his shoes in fascination.
It went on like this for an hour before Fortress Maximus appeared.
The telltale tremors announced its arrival, knocking the boy to the ground. Scourge noted that the child had the sense to stay there until the tremors subsided. Only then did Onishi climb back to his feet.
Before he could give any further instructions, the ground near Scourge exploded.
They were under attack. Scourge spun around to find that Galvatron and the Predicons had arrived.
"Return fire!" Scourge ordered as his Decepticons took shelter. He summoned his own weapon and began firing on that idiot Sky-byte.
The battle waged on.
After several minutes Scourge spared a thought for Onishi. The child could hardly be trusted to simply stand still while Scourge was busy. He remembered how easily the boy had slipped away from his Autobot guards.
He glanced around, taking his attention from the battle at hand, trying to locate the boy.
The distraction proved nearly fatal.
The last thing Scourge knew was a terrible pain in the back of his cranium.
They arrived to find Scourge sprawled on the ground, watching Fortress Maximus as it vanished into the Earth. He seemed disoriented to Optimus, as though he was just regaining consciousness after a long recharge.
He didn't spare them a glance as they approached, seemingly unconcerned about his imminent capture.
Optimus suspected a ploy of some sort and waved the others to stay back while he continued on. The field was open but there were plenty of places to hide a sniper along the cliff.
There was no sign of Koji.
"Where is Koji?" Optimus demanded.
Scourge paid him no mind, even long after Fortress Maximus had disappeared from sight. Optimus frowned, realizing something was deeply wrong here. When something went wrong, Decepticons got angry. Scourge wasn't angry.
"Where is the boy, Scourge?"
Finally, finally, Scourge looked at him. "The boy is gone."
"Where?" Optimus demanded.
Scourge was silent.
"Where?" Optimus growled, even more insistent.
There was a pause. "I don't know," Scourge admitted quietly.
AN: To be continued… Maybe. And for the record, I love Koji, but he seriously acted his age in this episode.