Disclaimer: I do not own the Transformers; I make no money from this. All people in this story are fictitious; the towns are real, as are some of the events referred to. But only their names have been used, actual details have been changed to meet the author's purpose.
Rating: R or T. Language, death, violence. This is a dark fic and deals with death, grief, fear, fanaticism and betrayal. No rainbows and butterflies here.
Verse: 2007 Movie AU.
Primary characters: human OCS, Optimus Prime and others.
A/N: This belongs in the larger Finding Salvation verse, and takes place years after Holding onto the Future. It is the back-story of an event/arch/plot point I scratched because I couldn't find a way to weave it into those stories. There are several back-stories to that verse that are screaming to come out and be told. As they are written, they will be posted.
Enemies of Our Enemies
Keri hated going home; even for the short summer break. She hated the oppressive heat of the Kansas summer, and the hot wind that threatened to boil a person's skin off. Only a few clouds ever dotted the blue sky, and the ones that didn't burn off grew into raging thunderstorms sweeping across the stubby fields. The rain never brought relief though; it only added humidity to the one hundred plus temperatures.
Basically, Kansas sucked, and made her choice to go to school in Washington State insanely easy. There, it rained more, but the temps were decent and to a naive, Kansas girl, it might as well have been the Land of Oz. She ached for summer to end so she could hurry back to college and spend her time with more worldly and knowledgeable people. No one in Seattle would be caught dead discussing such stupid crap like the harvest. Who cares about the bushel per acre yield and the moisture content of wheat or milo? Boring crap for the boring people living in a boring place, and she still had to endure three more weeks of it.
Sweat rolled down her back and soaked through her shirt. Her hair and clothes clung to her, sticky and damp. The snow cone she bought from the little shack had turned into syrupy water and a few bits of red ice floating at the surface. It didn't matter. The cool liquid made her smile and brought back memories of her youth; walking to the Snow Palace with Bobby Carrolton laughing and talking the whole way there.
One school year. All that had passed was one school year, two semesters and her small town life seemed like a million years ago.
Things had been so simple a year ago. Everything had come easy then and she didn't worry.
Now she worried. She had seen and experienced so many things. The world had opened up before her, becoming a dangerous place, where the human race fought and destroyed, raped and maimed everything it touched.
Her professors had encouraged the students to attend symposiums and rallies every time one happened. She didn't even know groups like N.O.W., Earth First, Friends of Cybertron, The Sierra Club and the Christian Coalition existed. She had grown up hearing about the Masons and the garden Club, but never paid attention to anything else.
She had felt ignorant and sheltered when the speakers spout out statistics, and facts, supporting evidence for human depravity and despair. For her whole life, she had been loved and protected, until she had gone to college the most important things had centered around her friends and family, nothing else mattered. She felt the stab of guilt, not knowing how bad other people had it, the conditions they lived in day to day. Now she knew better. Even in the Twenty-first Century, humankind still battled starvation, disease, poverty and itself.
Her heart sank when she thought about such things. They scared her.
But there might be hope; the Cybertronians had shared some of their technology. They perfected a cleaner, more efficient way to convert almost anything into fuel for electricity. She didn't understand how it worked, but now every country on the planet could take what it had the most of and make electricity from it. Sounded great, but the giant robots still fought skirmishes on Earth, taking innocent lives in the process.
She sighed, despondent and unsure, her eyes on the ground. A dog barked at her from behind a fence, and a fly buzzed around her drink.
She walked down a street, her flip-flops slapping against the hot pavement. Keri had walked down this stretch of concrete her whole life; she could almost name the owner of every house on the road, but felt like a stranger. Elyria Kansas, her hometown, not even worth a dot on most maps. She easily could walk from one end to the other, passing by the one block "downtown" and the K-through-twelve school. She looked skyward; the grain silo at the co-op overshadowed the spire on the Lutheran church.
Her past held nothing for her; she couldn't care less about this place. The people in it seemed so… oblivious to the larger world. They appeared content to live the same way they always had, never changing or looking outward.
But Keri didn't know what she wanted for a future either. Almost a sophomore in college and she hadn't declared a major, undecided what path to send her life down, and afraid of all the choices. The future gnawed at her. A wide, endless unknown spread before her, and she floundered in limbo.
The rattle and rumble of an engine pulled her from her thoughts, and she stopped. Keri glanced over her shoulder, the light glared in her eyes obscuring her sight. She held her empty hand over eyes, blocking out the late day sun. An old tuck slowly rolled towards her. She turned back, and resumed her walking, unconcerned.
The ancient vehicle pulled beside her, fumes from the exhaust adding to the oppressive heat.
"Hey, Keri. Mom said, she thought you were back in town. Wanna ride home?"
The truck slowly stopped, then squealed and clacked as Bobby applied the parking break.
Bobby Carrolton, her past on-again-off-again boyfriend and once best buddy. She forced her face to contort into something resembling a smile, and looked at the boy… man. Her eyes widened as she looked at Bobby for the first time in over a year.
The face still belonged to him, but it had grown, matured a bit. The person hanging out of the truck's window looked like her friend Bobby, but hotter. His features had filled out trading the boyish softness for a chiseled ruggedness. The blue eyes practically glowed against his tanned skin. Sun bleached hair flopped in the summer wind.
She glanced at the truck to make sure that it was still the same 1950-something junker Bobby had always driven. It was. The rust still fought with the chrome and paint for dominance and the back windshield still had the same diagonal crack in it.
"Hi, Bobby," she finally managed to say. "Why would I need a ride when I am almost home?"
Bobby smiled sheepishly and ran his hand through his hair. "Ok. You got me. I was planning on kidnapping you and running away…" He winked at her. "…Or we could go to the Old Mill Park and hang out? Maybe go to my Aunt's and fish the pond?"
She wrinkled up her nose at him, and glanced into her snow cone cup, a fly thrashed around in the red liquid, failing at the backstroke. She held onto the cup, but slung her arm to the side, flinging the melted drink onto Mrs. Paxton's yard. The flowers needed a drink anyways; it hadn't rained in a week. "No thanks. It's too hot."
"Fine, then we will go back to my place, drink a couple of beers and catch up."
"You have a place? With beer? Since when did they lower the drinking age? And when did we get a liquor store?" She let her voice carry total disbelief.
Bobby smiled at her, a smooth, confident smile. "I have taken over Grandpa's farm. He gave me his old fifth-wheel to live in out there, and the beer in the fridge is cold… so's the air conditioning" he beamed at her, obviously proud with his lot in life.
Keri wanted to puke. The thought of living in a motor home, working from sun up until after dark in the heat and dust revolted her. She wanted more in life, she didn't want to spent her years popping out little, pooping, baby Bobbies.
She took a step backwards, and looked at her feet again. "No thanks Bobby, I need to get home." She felt her stomach knot up, one time they had been best friends. He had been her first in many ways and now she couldn't stand to look at him. He didn't belong in her life anymore, but guilt still twisted inside of her.
She glanced down the street, something flashed in the distance. A car headed towards them.
She stepped further back, out of the gutter and onto the yard. "You need to get moving, someone is coming up the street."
She looked at Bobby and he frowned at her, disappointed. She watched as he shifted the old truck into drive and the vehicle shuddered when the parking break disengaged. "I'll see you around. Maybe this weekend we can do something." His voice sounded strained.
Three cars roared past them, missing Bobby's truck by inches. Their air stream rocked the battered vehicle, and swirled leaves and dust into the air.
"HOLY SHIT! Assholes!"
The trio of almost identical sports cars shot down the street, blowing past a red light and continued on, unabated. There and gone in seconds.
Keri shook, her heart hammered in her chest as adrenaline surged in her veins. She smiled and laughed at herself for being startled by a group of speed demons. It had been the first time she had laughed in a week. Wow, she thought to herself, bet that is the most excitement that this place has seen in a years. She giggled some more.
The chuckle caught in her throat. A low, red car blurred past, faster than the previous threesome, its engine growling.
The hair on the back of her neck stood up as more vehicles rocketed past.
A huge, black truck lead the caravan, closely followed by two military Humvees and a green ambulance.
"Oh, my God," she muttered. She had never seen them before, few people ever did, but everyone knew what the Autobots looked like. The public even knew a few of their names: Optimus Prime, Prowl… Those were the only ones she could name, but her brother knew them all by heart.
Syrupy sweet liquid rolled in her stomach; she could taste cherries and bile in the back of her throat.
"Those weren't what I think they were… were they?" Apparently, he had made the same conclusion she had. "Holy, shit this is awesome. Wait until I tell James." Bobby's eyes stared down the street, his face turned up into an excited smile.
She just stared where the maybe-Cybertronians had vanished around a bend in the road, a row of hedge trees blocking the view. She had learned to be skeptical of such things. Several kids at college had cars of similar makes and models to some of the Autobots. A few had even decked theirs out to match the aliens, but none of them ever had a military escort.
She stepped off the curb and started to head around his truck, eager to get home and tell her mother what she had seen.
At first, she didn't recognize the rap-tat-tat of distant gunfire. It didn't register, sounding fake, shallow, nothing like it did in the movies, but the short sets of repeated pops couldn't be anything else.
"Keri, get in the truck."
Keri ignored him. She quickly glanced in both directions to make sure a stray car didn't hit her then trotted across the road.
"Keri, did you hear me? Get in the truck."
She turned to look at him, wanting to tell him that she was heading home, and not to worry. The words died on her lips when, fire belched upward from behind the grain silo on the edge of town and the ground shook.
A car sped down a cross street, a low-slung red sports car close behind it. They disappeared behind a row of houses, but the clank of metal crashing into metal echoed clearly enough.
A woman's scream startled her.
The tornado sirens sounded. The long pulsing moan telling the town to seek shelter.
She started running for home, her flip-flops hindering her.
Another explosion, this one closer and louder. Her ears rang from the boom.
Unseen men shouted; calling out orders, she didn't comprehend.
She tripped. The concrete bit into her knee, and she sucked air, hissing in pain. Sitting in the street, she cradled her injury.
The world erupted into flame. Brilliant light blinded her and the concussion from the blast rolled her over and over. Debris pelted her body, slicing and cutting. She finally came to rest against something hard, but the world still spun out of control. She remembered throwing up, and the smell of burning wood and plastic.
Keri's ears rang, drowning out the sound of her pounding pulse. She flailed around, trying to figure out which way was up. She saw blood on the ground next to her and on her hands, wondering who had been hurt.
Using a rusty bumper for support, she feebly made it to her feet, looking down to prove to herself that she was actually standing. Her shoes had gone missing, and blood trickled down her leg.
She raised her head, and pushed a lock of grimy hair out of her face. She looked about, blinking and weaving where she stood. Smoke curled from the concrete. Shingles and pieces of wood littered the ground. The houses nearest to her lacked windows, the glass blown away. One looked like it had part of its roof peeled off, and the porch had collapsed.
Somewhere, a baby cried, the little voice hitching.
Keri started to stumble down the street towards home. The further she went, the worse the damage became. It only took half a block for everything to turn into ruin. The houses had collapsed. Images of the Greensburg Tornado came to mind. Where people had once lived, only piles of rubble remained, but this hadn't been a tornado. Tornadoes don't explode.
She staggered down the street, stepping over and onto glass and wood slating. Strips of singed fabric and charred paper tumbled past her, carried by the wind. Fires smoldered, and she coughed on their acrid fumes. She covered her mouth and nose with her hand, a meager attempt to keep the fumes out.
She couldn't find her house. It should have been right in front of her… maybe. She tried to remember exactly where on the block her home had been, but without any familiar landmarks, she couldn't tell one pile of rubble from another.
Her legs gave out and she collapsed onto the road. "MOM!" she cried out.
"MOM!" she screamed again. The distant wail of an ambulance answered her, and a dog barked somewhere nearby.
Keri sat in the middle of a ruined road, sock settling over her. "Mommy?" she whispered. Tears filled her eyes and ran down her cheeks.
"Mommy?" she asked again, and warm hands touched her. Carefully encircling her and lifting her into their embrace. She laid her head on the camouflage-patterned material.
"I need a medic over here, she's bleeding." The voice rumbled through the chest she laid her cheek against.
He sounds foreign, she thought to herself
A massive shadow loomed over her. Dazed she looked upwards, a green Cybertronian stood surveying the devastation around them. His eyes glowed, a cold, alien blue. He raised an arm and pointed. "Empty," his voice rolled like distant thunder.
She slowly turned her head, and a different man in military fatigues scribbled something on piece of plastic and staked a little flag in the yard. Mounds of broken boards, chunks of sheet-rock and odd pieces of stuff littered the area.
Keri blinked as she watched. The Autobot stepped to the remains of the next house; a beam of light came from his eyes and slid over the mess of green siding. A huge tree had fallen over and cut right through the center of the rubble.
My house is green, she thought.
The Autobot looked away from what had been her home. "One. Deceased."
She started screaming.