Author's Note: In chapter 16 of The Tie that Binds, Sam asks Ratchet about a rumor he'd heard - something about the medic and power lines. Ratchet refuses to answer, but Optimus promises to show Sam later what REALLY happened the night the lights went out in Tranquility (or LA or wherever Sam's hometown is). Unfortunately, Optimus won't be able to keep that promise, but I didn't want to disappoint, so here is a first-hand account instead. :) Hope you enjoy!
The organics were an excitable bunch. Before I could even complete transforming out of my transitional cometary form, I could hear their raised voices. They came running and shouting, but thankfully, no one appeared to consider a meteorite a threat once it had landed. I hid behind the nearest cover, some tall vegetation, and took a moment to assess the situation. The humans' primary concern appeared to be containing the fire and…being spectators. Inconvenient, that. One of them yelled about something in the trees, and I realized I needed an alt-form immediately. There was no time to be choosy. If I found another form I liked better, I could always upgrade.
My optics roved over nearby vehicles, and I noticed one labeled "Search and Rescue." That was practically fated. Scanning and transforming into my chosen alt-form, I activated my siren to hurry some oblivious humans out of the way and then locked onto Bumblebee's beacon. Tonight's excitement was only beginning; hopefully the humans would remain completely unaware of the rest of it.
Jazz soon fell in with me, literally running a circle around me to show off his alt-form. /Slick,/ I told him.
/It fits,/ Ironhide added, joining us. /Fast and showy but not much to it./
Jazz fishtailed and squealed his tires in Ironhide's grille before racing forward. /Last one ta Bumblebee is spare parts./
Ironhide's engine roared, but the sly 'bot had three length's head start. That wouldn't stop me or Ironhide from trying to catch him, though, and we raced down a side street, getting the feel of our new forms.
/Anyone spot you?/Ironhide asked as we speeded down the blacktop.
/'Course not,/ Jazz scoffed.
/Nothing definite,/ I said. /A juvenile claimed he saw 'something in the trees,' but he was brushed aside by the adult humans. You?/
Ironhide's engine huffed. /Just a youngling femme. There was no avoiding her. I landed in a private body of water, and I don't want to hear a word about rust from you, Ratchet. I was still heated enough from entering the atmosphere that I was dry before I took an alt-form. When I pulled myself out, the youngling was standing right there staring at me in my bare base form./
/Did she scream?/Jazz teased
/No. She asked if I was the tooth fairy./
Jazz and I both searched through the internet until we found the relevant information, including pictures. I broke out in laughter, startling all of us when my emergency flashers and siren flickered on.
/Great,/ Ironhide rumbled.
Jazz sniggered, /I'm officially pullin' ya off all stealth operations as long as ya're in THAT form, Ratchet./ With a good five lengths ahead of us, he dodged down a back alley. /Suckas!/
Being lighter and lower to the ground, I was able to shoulder my way in front of Ironhide, chuckling again – complete with sirens and lights – when he cussed us both out.
/I'm lovin' this form,/ Jazz crowed, splashing through a puddle.
/Enough games,/ Optimus said gently. /These humans are unnerved enough./
/Leave that ta me,/ Jazz assured him. /I'll make 'em feel right at home. Just greet the boy by name. That'll make him more comfortable./
Optimus slowly transformed so as to not startle the children, and we followed suit, keeping a respectful distance. Bending down to a less imposing eye-level, Optimus asked, "Are you, Samuel James Witwicky, descendant of Captain Archibald Witwicky?"
The girl whispered, "They know your name," and the boy answered, "Yeah?"
According to Jazz, it should have been comforting, but for some reason, their heart-rates and epinephrine levels spiked.
"My name is Optimus Prime. We are Autonomous Robotic Organisms from the planet Cybertron."
Trying to dispel their rising fear, I took a step back and said, "But you can call us Autobots for short."
"Autobots," the boy warily repeated.
/Jus' let me work my magic,/ Jazz told us. Mimicking human gestures, he greeted them with, "What's cracking, lil' bitches."
"My first lieutenant, designation Jazz."
Showing off a little, he jumped and spun, saying, "This looks like a cool place to kick it."
It was utter gibberish to me, but it seemed to have the desired effect – their heart-rates eased lower and Sam looked back to Optimus in surprise. "What is that…How did he learn to talk like that?"
"We have learned Earth's languages through the world wide web." This seemed to set them even more at ease. "My weapons specialist, Ironhide."
/I can mimic humans, too, Jazz./Ironhide whipped out his cannons, spinning them. "You feelin' lucky, punk?"
"Easy, Ironhide," Optimus said, fighting a smile. We knew Ironhide was just playing, but the humans were terrified.
He shrugged, almost sheepish at the children's reaction. "Just kidding, I just wanted to show him my cannons."
The boy grinned in relief, and his heart-rate slowed even more than before.
"Our Chief Medical Officer, Ratchet."
As their fear receded, I caught the edge of other hormonal changes, and I inhaled a larger air sample. Confused, I said, "The boy's pheromone levels suggest he wants to mate with the female."
/Don't worry, we're not interrupting anything,/ Bumblebee answered, clearly disgruntled. /They're always like this. I've tried EVERYTHING and they just can't seem to figure it out./
/They're juveniles,/ I reminded him. /Give them time./
Optimus diplomatically moved on. "You already know your guardian, Bumblebee."
Bumblebee was so happy Sam finally knew his name that he literally started dancing. "Check on the rep, yeah, second to none."
"Bumblebee, huh?" The boy was even more relaxed now and, if I was reading his expression right, rather impressed. "And you're my guardian?"
Bumblebee nodded his head and voiced a raw chirp as if to say 'yes,' reminding me yet again that the young 'bot had rushed off in pursuit of the All Spark before I could properly repair him. Seizing the moment before he could use another distraction as an excuse to avoid treatment, I shot him with a regenerative laser. He melodramatically coughed in protest, and rolling my optics, I explained to the children, "His vocal processors were damaged in battle. I'm still working on them."
The female looked up at Optimus, her wide eyes solemn as she asked, "Why are you here?"
It seemed that being level-headed and in control the situation was a femme trait among the organics as well among Cybertronians. Using a hologram, Optimus told them our story, and the boy agreed to turn the glasses over to us. I collapsed down into my altform with a vented sigh of relief. If the boy had refused…Optimus wouldn't have taken them by force, but it would have put us in a very difficult position.
Of course it wasn't as simple as that, though. The elder Witwicky waylaid his son so long that Optimus decided to simply intervene and ask the father directly for the glasses.
That nearly sent Bumblebee into a panic. /Back off!/ he ordered, waving us away. /The boy is one in a billion – the parents will get frightened and might break the glasses!/
Frowning unhappily, Optimus hung back until the father walked away from the exterior door.
/Betcha I could sneak in there and get 'em,/ Jazz offered.
/What's wrong with you?/ 'Bee demanded. /Even you're too small to crawl around in that house./
The whole thing took on an almost farcical air. Optimus managed to crush a decorative statue (although why the humans would leave something as delicate as that laying around to get stepped on was beyond me) and some kind of subordinate organic lifeform lubricated on Ironhide. That alone made the whole visit to the hyperactive and stressed-out adolescent worth it.
Optimus ordered, "Autobots recon," and those two words reminded me of the gravity of the situation.
The bumbling boy was ineffective in his search, and I almost began to wonder if he had some kind of neurological deficiency. To Optimus, I sent, /Send the femme in. He obviously needs help./
He nodded in agreement. "What is your name?" he asked her.
Eyes wide, she said, "Me? Uh, Mikaela. Mikaela Baines."
"It is imperative that we recover the glasses, Mikaela Baines. Will you assist the boy?"
Still a little stunned that Optimus was speaking to her directly, she nodded. "Sure." And then she bit her lip, looking uncertainly at the second-story window.
Anticipating her next question, he offered, "I could give you a lift," and extended his hand.
Taking a deep, uncertain breath, she nodded and climbed into his palm.
Raising her up and into the boy's dormitory, Optimus told him, "Time is short. Please hurry." The children set about doing just that.
/His father's pacing,/ Bumblebee announced.
/Alt-forms,/ Optimus ordered.
"No, no, no!" the boy ranted when he saw us. "This isn't hiding. This is my back yard, not a truck stop!"
/He's got a point,/ Jazz agreed, and I knew he was smirking at Optimus, even in his alt-form. /Ya don't blend in so well, Prime. Unlike saboteurs./
/Or pick-ups,/ Ironhide added. /Especially when you can't figure out your own alt and how to disconnect the sirens, Ratchet. What's wrong with you, anyway? Why can't you be quiet?/
Frustrated with us, Optimus transformed again and we followed suit. The boy babbled on in a panic, first berating Optimus for stepping on some apparently-prized vegetation and then slandering his own progenitors. Did he not understand that the whole planet was at stake? Flowers and statues should have been the least of his worries.
"All right," Optimus agreed when the boy begged him to leave, no doubt seeing that our presence was counterproductive. "Calm down, calm down. Autobots, fall back."
Ironhide, faithful body guard that he was, automatically moved to follow Prime and walked right in to me. "Get off. What's wrong with you," I razzed him back. "He said to be quiet, why can't you be quiet?"
And then something hit my chest and the earth spun and I fell into the sky. I looked and I saw Ironhide staring at me. "Wow! That feels tingly!" I rolled back. Another wave of power rushed through me. "You should try it."
"Yeah," Ironhide said dismissively, "that looks fun."
That felt…good. Really good. Why didn't he try it? They really should try it. I'd have to convince them to try it. How did I get the tingles? I was walking. That's right. Walking, that was how I got the tingles. I rolled to my feet. No tingles. Slag.
Then I remembered. Something hit my chest. I looked at my chest. There was a line. A scorch mark. Something hit my chest there. What was it? I turned on my flood-lights. Looking. They really needed to try it. I wanted to try it again. I was bright with the tingly power. So bright! I turned, looking for the chest-high thing that brought the tingles. I was so bright. The shadows were so dark. The light hit the corner of the house and disappeared. A line of light. So beautiful.
"Ratchet," Optimus hissed. "Point the light."
"What's with the light? Turn off the light!" the organic said. I shined the light at him. Did he know where the tingles were?
"Turn off the light," Ironhide said, shoving me away.
I killed the light. Now the shadows were just grey again. No lines between bright and dark. No lines to bring the tingles. I looked at my chest again. The scorch-mark. I needed to find the tingles. They really should try it.
"Quick! Hide!" Optimus commanded.
'Hide quick? Only to shoot. That would be bright! Would that bring the tingles?
/NOT A WORD!/ Ironhide growled over the public comm and pinned me against the wall. /WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?/
/You really need to try the tingly power,/I told him. Told them.
The male parental unit pulled his head back into the house.
/The wires are a power source,/ Jazz said. /They musta scrambled his circuits with he fell inta 'em./
/Great. We've got a tripped-out Ratchet,/Bumblebee moaned.
/An' I thought 'Bee was the only one who could get a wicked buzz,/ Jazz sniggered.
/Stay on task,/ Optimus said. /We'll worry about him later./
/What's our task?/ I wondered.
/Oh for the love of plasma cannons,/ Ironhide complained. /The boy has the glasses. Remember?/
/Come on, come on. Let's go get them. Then you can try the tingly power./
/Can't,/ Jazz said. /Parents./
/Can they get us the tingly power?/
Ironhide spun the weapons on his arms. "The parents are very annoying. Maybe we should take them out."
"Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" I grabbed his arm. I pointed it toward the house. That would be bright!
"Ironhide, you know we don't harm humans. What is with you?"
"I'm just saying we could. It's an option." /Since I KNOW you won't let me plug our only medic./
I tapped Optimus on the arm. "Prime! Prime! Prime! There's something strange."
He looked down at me. "You don't say."
"Lots of cars. Lots of males. All driving together. Coming this way." My sensors were the best. And now they were tingly, too!
"A convoy of some kind?"
Bumblebee frowned. /The same people who have been trailing me since I landed./
"Can we take them out? That would be REALLY bright!"
"Can I take HIM out?" Ironhide begged.
Optimus sighed. "Autobots, transform and roll out. Do what you can for Ratchet. I'll stay behind and ensure the boy's safety."
"But you haven't tried the tingles."
Jazz quickly walked toward the alleyway. Bumblebee followed him. Ironhide gave me a shove. "You heard Optimus. Alt-form." /NOW./
I transformed. It made my gravitational stabilizers reel. I was dizzy. Jazz quietly rolled down the alleyway. I was too dizzy to follow. Bumblebee went next. Ironhide rear-ended me. I dizzily crept down the narrow alley to the street. Jazz and Bumblebee turned on their headlights. That made me feel better. Light made me think of the tingles. I turned on my lights. All of them. The blue ones were pretty. The red ones were scary. Ironhide rear-ended me. I turned them off. Just the headlights were better. They made me think of the tingles.
Jazz turned onto a big street. So did Bumblebee. I followed them. Ironhide followed me. Jazz stayed between the dotted white lines. So did Bumblebee. I did, too. So did Ironhide. Jazz crossed the dotted lines to the middle lane. I did, too. That was fun! I went over another set of dotted lines. Now I was in the outside lane. And then back to the middle. And then back to the inside lane. And then back to the middle. And then back to the outside. This was fun!
Bumblebee changed lanes and paced me. Ironhide and Jazz blocked me in front and behind. I couldn't change lanes anymore. Slag.
Jazz turned down another lane. It led to an asphalt field. Buildings surrounded us. Jazz changed to his base form. I scanned for humans before transforming. The buildings were empty. I stood up. My gravitational stabilizers were dizzy again. I sat down.
"What do you think we should do for him?" Ironhide said.
"You're the one with the most battlefield experience. I was hopin' you'd know," Jazz shrugged.
"I'm always providing cover fire while somebody else is doing the patch jobs," Ironhide answered.
/That somebody is always Ratchet,/ Bumblebee pointed out.
"Yeah, but that's why medics don't have much in the way of offensive hardware," Ironhide said. "It all goes into their sensory and repair systems because usually they can't count on another medic being around to help them if they get damaged."
Jazz tried to access a diagnostic junction in my neck. It tickled. My siren and flashers went off.
"Would you just shut up," Ironhide grumbled.
"It looks like the failsafe circuits for his repair systems got tripped in the power surge," Jazz said. "Lemme try resetting 'em."
He poked my neck. I giggled again.
/Any better?/ Bumblebee asked me.
"Can we find some more of the tingly power?"
"I'll take that as a 'no,'" Jazz answered with a grin.
He fiddled with my neck again. This time it didn't tickle. I turned on my floodlight. I wanted to find more lines that tingled.
"Aw, Pit," Jazz grumbled. "The repair system's readin' normal. They don't show anythin' wrong with 'im."
"I'll fix that," Ironhide said. He hit me. Hard. I fell into the sky, again.
The stars were blurry. My optic system must have been damaged. I briefly off-lined my optics and then looked again at the sky. The stars were clearer now. I half-rolled, and my gravity stabilizers reeled. I lay back down, giving myself a moment. I'd taken enough hard hits in battle to recognize this sensation. The malfunctioning gravity stabilizers were actually a safety mechanism that limited my movements while I healed.
Jazz frowned. "Ironhide."
"Your bedside manner does leave something to be desired," I told the mech.
He snorted. "Yeah, but it worked."
"It might not have," I retorted. "In which case, I would have been even more heavily damaged."
/Glad to have you back, Ratchet,/ Bumblebee said, grinning and offering me a hand.
I took it and unsteadily got to my feet. "Glad to be back. That was…exceptionally odd."
"No kiddin'," Jazz smirked. "I didn't think I'd ever meet anyonemore trigger-happy Ironhide. An' I really didn't expect that someone ta be you."
/Autobots,/ Optimus said over the comm. He would have heard at least Bumblebee's part of the conversation and realized they'd repaired me. /The men in the convoy are taking the children. I am following them now. Lock on to my beacon and roll./
/We roll,/ Jazz confirmed.
I transformed with the others – much less dizzily this time – and we followed Optimus' signal as he raced after the convoy. In the depths of my spark, I knew I'd never live this down.