This is based off of the vocaloid song 'Campanella' by Gumi/Megpoid, which is based off of the story 'Night on the Galactic Railroad' by Kenji Miyazawa. It's AU-ish on the count that it takes place in a world where the Autobots came to Earth when Sari was six instead of eight. Everything happens about the same through the first season, though, except for a few things that will explain itself in the story. This is my attempt at a 'short and sweet' style, and it didn't come quite as I expected but it is still pretty good. Enjoy!
Fold the paper in half. Fold the corners into the middle. Fold the sides into the crease. Fold that in half. Fold one wing to the center. Repeat with the other.
Sari lifted up her creation in her hands, holding it close to the small lamp in front of her for a better inspection. The sun had already set on that day, and she relied on the glow to see. After checking it through she nodded approvingly. No mis-folds. No tears or cuts. Just one clean, tidy result.
The perfect paper airplane.
Smiling, she set down her finished product and walked over to her bed where the rest of the materials lay. As she did she noticed the petals of the blue flower on her desk drooping dangerously. She stopped in her tracks, rotating on the balls of her heel toward the small plant. That's right! Her hand met her forehead in frustration. She had forgotten to water it the other day. It was a good thing she had caught it now. What would she have done if her flower went away too? Not only that, but Prowl would've given her a big talking to for skimping out on her responsibilities. Though, he had been less irritable on subjects like that recently.
A lot of things had changed recently.
She took the water bottle that was next to her flower, filled the cap, and carefully poured it onto the soil in the pot. It seeped in all of the holes and free spaces, and she knew that somewhere deep underneath some roots were at work sucking up their drink. At least, that's what Tutor Bot taught her. She didn't really understand how it drank from down there, but there was a ton of stuff she still didn't understand about anything in this life. Her dad said that she would find it out about all that eventually, that she was still too young to 'be exposed'. Whatever that meant.
She was seven years old now. She could handle anything. Or so she thought.
Sari returned to the task at hand, her flower no longer in need. Gathering all of the red paper hearts on her comforter, she transferred them over to the desk and went to work placing them into the opening between the wings on her airplane. They were thin enough not to take up to much space, and when she held up the plane with its new cargo it didn't feel much heavier than before. Good. This was going exactly according to plan.
Time for a test run. She brought the paper airplane up to eye level, aiming it toward her jukebox at the other side of the room. An easy target. With a sharp breath she initiated the liftoff just like she had learned it: lean the aircraft back behind your head, like throwing a ball, and smoothly thrust it forward, letting go as soon as you pass your nose.
It was a flawless performance. Not too much muscle nor too less. She had released it at just the right time. Her practice on the technique was paying off.
Unfortunately, instead of landing on her determined destination, the airplane took a dramatic dive downwards halfway there, plummeting to the ground.
Sari ran over to the crash site, frowning. All of the paper hearts were still intact, and she returned them to her bed. Then, with a grunt of annoyance, she snatched up the airplane and threw it into the trash can, along with all of her other previous failed designs. The pile of paper figures crunched under the weight of its new addition.
Oh well. She'd just have to try again.
"Hi, I'm Bumblebee!"
Sari stared up at her rescuer with awe. She had never seen a robot like this before. The ones her dad made only did boring things that she didn't care about. And they were relatively small. She was sitting comfortably in his hands. But the best part? It talked. Not like the preprogrammed personalities some robots were given (which got super annoying): this one was looking at her. It was really alive.
Yes. A bazillion times better than anything her dad had ever made.
"Oh, don't be." Bumblebee insisted, "I like my name."
Sari smiled widely, convinced she had finally found her first friend.
Sari gasped for breath, her face red. She made sure to keep her fingers firm around the opening of the balloon, not about to let out all of the air she had just blown in. Once her lungs stopped burning she tied a string around it and attached it to the weighed-down basket in one swift motion. The yellow balloon floated lazily along with the other three, though it looked a little antsy. Like it was already ready to start flying for real.
All in good time, balloon.
She had to say that she was proud for thinking this up all by herself. Watching parades from her balcony had inspired her. All of the kids never were able to hold onto their balloons, and they always soared up into the sky, never to be seen again. While this was a tragedy to the children, it was exactly what Sari needed. Nothing else she had made so far had been able to reach that distance. None had been able to reach the destination she so desperately needed to reach.
Considering all of her failures, she knew she should be discouraged. But she wasn't. This was the only thing that was important to her anymore, and she knew that this time it was definitely going to work. It had to work.
Sari grabbed her paper hearts from her bed and dropped them into the basket, not before giving a kiss to each one. These were why this was so important. She had to put all of her emotions into them. Part of her own heart into them. That way he would be able to receive them, and know that she was still thinking about him. She gently pressed her lips against all of the paper indicators of her feelings, the soft texture of crayon rubbing against her each time. Warmth was sent from her into the hearts, and she arranged them neatly inside the basket.
Now they were ready to go.
With a click of her remote the window to her balcony opened up, the cool night air leaking into the room. It played with her bangs as she carried the balloon-powered basket outside, tickling her skin. Fortunately the wind didn't seem too wild tonight. Tutor Bot had said that sometimes the wind could affect the flight patterns of planes and stuff. She had worried a bit about what that would do to her balloons, but now she didn't need to. It was a perfect night to launch.
The moon washed over the balcony, giving her enough light to see. She looked around, finding the ideal place to set off. Since the tower was so high already, her gift would have a head start in its upward flight. The top of the ledge would help it even more. She propped it up there, a firm hand on the basket and another on the rock inside, which was serving as a weight. Without the weight the balloons would have hit the ceiling in her room a long time ago. They might have popped against the pressure, and then she would have had to start all over again.
For a second she stared into one of the balloons, her yellow distorted reflection staring back at her. Then she quickly removed the weight, careful not to take any of the paper hearts with her.
The basket rose into the air, gaining altitude faster than she expected. Higher and higher it ascended, the balloons capturing the dim radiance of the night sky. She watched excitedly until it finally disappeared out of view, too small to be seen. Her hopes rose inside of her, just like the balloons. She had done it! She had finally been able to send it! All of her hard work had come down to this one moment. She didn't think she had ever felt happier before in her life.
All of her hopes were shattered, though, when she discovered the basket smashed-up in the branches of a tree in the park the next week, all of her paper hearts ripped and spilling onto the grass.
The sounds of engines revving down alerted her to the return of her friend. Sari bolted up from the couch, not even bothering to turn off the TV which was still blaring loud music. She skidded across the floor when she reached the front entrance, almost running into the wall in the process.
"BB!" She greeted warmly.
Bumblebee walked up into the Plant, his hands hidden behind his back suspiciously. "Hey Sari."
"Where've you been?"
"Well…" He smiled sheepishly, "You said you needed to watch something grow for your project for Tutor Bot, right?"
"Soo…well…I got you this." He brought his hands out from hiding, revealing a small brown pot. Sari took it from him, looking into the dark soil piled within.
"…what is it?" She asked quietly.
"It's a…an organic thing…uh…"
"A flower." Prowl's voice informed from his room, "More precisely, a Forget-Me-Not."
Bumblebee blushed. "Okay…maybe Prowl helped me out a little in picking it."
"There's a flower in here?" Sari poked around inside.
"Uh-huh. You gotta give it water and stuff, and it'll grow up."He explained, "I figured that it would be fun and easy for your project."
Sari looked back at the pot, imagining what kind of flower would come out from the soil. She would get an 'A' for sure. Not only that, but as Bumblebee had said it would be 'fun'. School generally bored her, but this wouldn't. Bumblebee was so thoughtful. He always knew just what she needed.
She smiled up at him. "Thank you so much, BB! I'll take good care of it. I promise."
He grinned back. "I know you will."
"Sari, are you listening?"
She stopped coloring her new batch of paper hearts, turning to look at Tutor Bot. Her robotic teacher was a few inches away from her face. Frowning, she twiddled the red crayon in between her fingers. It was actually almost a stub now, but it worked well enough to continue to use it.
"Sorry…what were you saying?" She asked innocently.
With that, Tutor Bot continued on his lecture about the history of space exploration, and Sari continued to tune out everything he was saying. She considered using her key to make this lesson more exciting, but knew it was better not to. If she misused it anymore the Autobots would definitely take it away from her again. And she still needed it. She knew that the Allspark had given it to her for a reason. She just had to find out what that reason was.
As she worked on perfecting her latest heart, she caught something in Tutor Bot's talking that, oddly enough, interested her.
"Wait, repeat that last part." She interrupted.
"What last part?"
"About the moon."
"Well, I was saying that Earth's moon is approximately 384,403 kilometers, or 238,857 miles, from Earth." Tutor Bot informed in his usual, manner-of-fact way.
"Really…" Sari murmured, "It's that far?"
"Unless my calculations are incorrect. Which, they aren't."
She leaned forward, her attention caught. "Tell me more."
Sari jumped over a snow drift, narrowly avoiding a cold fall. She adjusted her scarf as she sprinted forward. Everyone must be worried sick about her. She knew it had been wrong for her to just run away after they took away her key, but it was the only thing she could think of doing at the time. It had gotten worse when that mean-ol' Blackarachnia had caught her. It was like there was no one around here who wasn't after her key! And this time she didn't even have it! Fortunately this said lack of key and the consequent explosions from downtown was enough for the Decepticon to let her go and try to get her prize another way.
The explosions. She wondered what that meant. Were the Decepticons attacking? It was quiet now, but earlier she could've sworn that it was the Fourth of July. Hopefully that was an indicator that whatever was happening was over. Her dad was probably waiting for her to come back, along with the Autobots, and she would get a big lecture about running away.
There was the tower! Smoke was rising from the top floor, but she continued to race toward the bottom. Even though it was more than slightly odd that smoke would randomly appear, it wouldn't be the first time her home was on fire. Besides, she could see the Autobots standing around the front entrance. And was that her dad? Yep. He was so small in comparison to her robotic friends, though she was even smaller. He looked like a bug or a mouse next to them.
The road was torn up in some places and she had to skip around them. Bulkhead must've had another accident or something. Everywhere he seemed to go something got broken. Not that he did it on purpose. If she were that big, she probably would break things all the time too.
She waved wildly and called out to them as she got closer. "Guys! Guys! Hey!"
They turned to meet her, and she knew something was wrong. None of them looked happy at all. Maybe the damage done to the tower was worse than she thought. Most likely they were to blame for whatever happened and would have to pay for it. Her dad always seemed down when he had to pay for something that misfired. And the `bots took awhile to recover from all the hits to their pride. Already Detroit saw them either as heroes or mess-makers.
"Oh…Sari…" Optimus said uneasily.
It was quiet. All of the robots stared at each other as if trying to figure out what to say next. Why were they acting so strange? It was starting to scare her. Her dad, on the other hand, was watching her sadly, his eyes fixed straight on hers. They must've been worried about her; that was it. They had been so worried that they were in shock.
"…aren't you gonna punish me or something?" She asked nervously.
Prowl frowned. "Why would we punish you?"
"I…I ran away from home…"
She wasn't the reason for all of this, then. Sari tugged at one of her pigtails, hoping to ease her anxiety. One by one she looked at all of her friends – her family – in the face, trying to find out what had happened. They all returned her gaze blankly, seriously. They looked like they wanted to tell her something, but it wouldn't come out. She had never seen them so uncomfortable before. It was about to drive her crazy when…
"Hey…" She glanced around, "Where's Bumblebee?"
"…is he hiding or something?"
Once again, nothing, though everyone visibly stiffened.
She gave a weak smile to break up the apprehension. "…guys…?"
The quietness was becoming unbearable. The whole atmosphere seemed to tense up around her, a cold hand squeezing in over her heart. Making her lungs turn to ice. Like her body was made up of the snow that had started to fall again. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong. Bulkhead had turned away, unable to even look at her anymore. Ratchet shook his head, a grim expression on his face. Prowl opened his mouth to say something but thought better of it. Optimus just took a deep breath.
It was her dad who finally spoke.
He slowly walked up to her, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder. A comforting gesture. The ice continued to crawl up her spine, invade all of her senses.
She lifted her head, her eyes wavering.
"…Bumblebee had to go away, Sari. Far, far away."
Tutor Bot had been right. Space was really huge.
Sari leaned back in the chair, which was way too big for her. Probably on account that it was designed for Cybertronian life, not a still-growing human. She couldn't even reach the controls properly from where she sat, but she could see outside. The window-screen-thing was large enough to view everything that passed by her. All of the stars. The planets. The moons. Distant galaxies. Everything. It was so beautiful and mysterious and she couldn't keep her eyes off of it.
She snuggled up in one of the corners of the chair, her flower in one arm and a basket of paper hearts in the other. It was a good thing she didn't need to use the controls, since she couldn't reach them. Her key appeared to be doing everything for the small escape pod. All she had to do was sneak on it when the Autobots weren't watching, insert her key into the ignition that had magically formed (as always), and she was off; flying deep into space. Hopefully no one would miss her while she was gone. She planned to be home before dinner.
It was a little embarrassing to think that it took a year for her to realize that this was the only way to reach Bumblebee. If her friend was 'far away', then she had to go as far as she could, which was here. After months and months of planning and making things to send her emotions to him, she could've just taken the pod and gone herself a long time ago. She hugged her basket of hearts closer to her, feeling all of the love and happiness she had put inside of them practically bursting out. It had been her dad who suggested that she mail her gift, but he had never been able to give her an address. So she had taken matters in her own hands.
Bumblebee would be so happy to see her! And she had so much to tell him: all about how Megatron was defeated on the day he left (and that her dad almost helped rebuild him, but that's another story), how she had been given her key back, and all of the crazy adventures they had gone through trying to find pieces of the Allspark, which was now broken. Most importantly, she wanted to ask him to come home. She missed him so much, and the Plant was so different without him. Heck, all of Detroit was different. The whole world, in fact! How would she be able to live her life without her best friend?
If he didn't want to go back, though, then she would just have to stay there with him. Everyone else back at home would understand.
The pod started to shake a little bit, and Sari clung onto the armrest in fear. That wasn't supposed to happen. There had been some shaking when she had left the atmosphere, but now that she was actually in space it should be fine. A smooth ride. As the pod continued to vibrate, she knew it wasn't going to be smooth at all. Her fear increased as she considered all of her options. What if she wasn't going to make it? What if she wasn't able to give her hearts to…
A flash of yellow to her side caught her eye, and she spun around. Hope and anticipation welled up inside of her. This was it. This was the real deal. Her eyes brightened and her mouth erupted into a huge smile.
A vacant, cold space met her. Just the wall. Just another part of the pod. No friend. No happiness.
Suddenly everything around her started spinning. She wasn't sure whether the pod was simply going out of control or whether it was just her senses going crazy. Space outside was one big whirl of black. Her heart was racing. Either that, or it had stopped beating altogether. Whatever it was, it was hurting her, and bad. That was it. Her heart was aching. Warmth fled from her face, tears brimming in her eyes. She grabbed her basket and flower tightly, pushing them against her chest to try and stop the pain.
Somewhere she could hear the robotic voice of the pod's computer telling her something about 'gravitational pull' and 'critical error', but she didn't care. Her tears were probably flooding her plant, but she didn't care. She finally knew. She finally understood what her dad, what everyone, had been trying to tell her. No, she had always known it. She had just been hiding it away. Ignoring it. But she couldn't do that any longer. Her sobs echoed in the pod as it spun out further into space.
She would never see her best friend again.