Author's note (DarthIshtar): Welcome to the first (chronological) adventure of RaFly, the intrepid station wagon first introduced by DarthIshtar in "Undercover." All of this fic will make more sense if you have a passing familiarity with Doctor Who and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Credit/blame for the plot mostly goes to Kateydidnt, who is also the one to blame for getting us to watch Doctor Who in the first place. "Toxic" belongs to Britney Spears. If any of you should desire brain bleach, it is available in the Botosphere gift shop, right next to the face-palming equipment.
Adventures of a Blue Police Box
6,371.0 km mean radius.
40,008.00 kilometers circumference.
107,200 kilometers per hour orbital speed.
In hindsight, Radio Flyer was not sure that Cybertron's registrars had the same definition of eccentricity.
There was nothing distinctive about the third planet from this G2V main sequence star, yet it had attracted the attention of her race for thousands of years. Its history was little more than a heartbeat in the saga of her people, yet it was a very significant heartbeat. It had been their battleground in the past and, knowing the universe's sense of irony, it would be that far into the future. For now, it was a very unlikely home for some of Cybertron's children.
Significant planet or not, it unfortunately reeked. It may have been her naturally-heightened senses, but to the latest arrival to Earth, it was stifling. Even when she escaped the wildlife, she was subjected to everything from smog to beverages that were far too chemical for the indigenous life forms' own good. The chemical smell should have been pleasing to her, but combining the potency of the beverage with the terrible mixes of chemicals to enhance scents or mask them, it was difficult to single out any one smell. If the stench had been bottled, it would have corroded the container in milliseconds.
She had hoped to lay low out of a sense of self-preservation, but no matter what back alley she skulked in, there seemed to be someone staggering drunkenly down it or a tiny mammal curled up under a drainpipe. It was bad enough that she had dinged a giant chronometer in what local transmissions called London, but now that she had retreated to the outskirts of the city, things were worse. She had not been able to find a decent hiding place in hours and that made her extremely nervous. It was not the natural order of things. Even worse than the lack of privacy was the fact that every vehicle that she had scanned to blend in had only attracted attention. There had been something that an admiring group of young males had referred to as a HUMVEE while taking pictures with her. She had tried to imitate a Citroen next, but there were thousands of them on the street and unsteady humans kept mistaking her for their ride home. She had practically fled from a couple who had been fighting and she wondered if they had noticed that the 'piece of junk' that they had been about to open had driven off without anyone in the front seat.
She stopped to regain her composure in an industrial part of the city and had nearly settled in for a quiet night to plan her next move when a rowdy group approached from the southwest. In a moment of panic, she trans-scanned the nearest thing-a cube-shaped, hollow, metal contraption. She could not match the color, but at least she would go unnoticed.
Or so she had thought until the group started throwing small glass containers at her. She shuddered in horror as another one clambered up her front to add biological emissions from his fuel orifice to the litter they'd thrown at her.
As soon as they were gone, she rocked back and forth in this ungainly form to try and rid herself of the waste. Try as she might, she could not quite rid herself of all of it-she would have to return to her true form for that-and she intuitively knew that it was a portent of things to come.
A high-speed encounter with a micro-meteorite near the sixth planetary body thirteen standard hours ago had thrown her off-course in more ways than one, but she knew that if she could make contact with at least one of her kind, she would be able to find the others. Unfortunately, the micro-meteorite had essentially left her in a state of radio silence, damaging her communications array and crippling essential wiring in her sensors. She could passively receive the local, indigenous transmissions but was unable to make any outbound wireless communications. She had once been crippled in Decepticon territory and this was beginning to feel just like that.
But it was no time to panic. She was an Autobot and she would not malinger, no matter how badly she was being treated by her new neighbors.
Using the minimum amount of power, she searched the surrounding area for a communications signal. Most of them were too weak or too distant for her to utilize, but she found a small, hand-held personal communications device with a limited but purportedly global access to something called the internet. If she could access the same device that the communicator used, that would boost her transmitting capabilities and she might be able to broadcast or receive a signal from one of her fellow Autobots. It was at least worth a try.
Unfortunately, a surge of power occurred during the process and drained more of her energy than she had anticipated. It also left her looking like a seven-foot-high version of the communicator. And to add insult to injury, it hadn't worked. She was seven feet high, eight feet long and unable to send so much as a distress call. Her electronic sneeze had also crushed the communicator and its relevant hardware.
It was an impressive feat that, given the night's events, this was the least dignified moment of all. She did not lower herself to fuming, but she came very close to feeling sorry for herself. Five minutes and thirty-one seconds later, when yet another group of humans approached, she did not have time to find something discreet to scan. She was one of Cybertron's most skilled intrusion experts and she was hiding as a vehicle-sized communications device that smelled vaguely of human regurgitation.
"Right-o," one of the males muttered to the others. "We pay six hundred quid for a prop and what do they do? Chuck it in a bin and hope we know where to find it. See if we use them again."
"Well, at least it's in the same city," his companion pointed out. "Remember the time they mixed up Hertfordshire and Herefordshire and we had to track it down?"
"Yeah, s'pose it could be worse," the first man grunted. "Have Lou bring the lorry 'round."
The 'lorry' turned out to be a cargo vehicle, which did nothing for her nerves. For all she knew, she would be deposited on the other side of the world. Once this part of Earth was facing its star again, she'd have access to solar power at least, which was far more palatable than the odoriferous fuels in use locally. But in the meantime, she was at the mercy of these humans, not exactly a reassuring thought.
The males hefted her with some effort and loaded her onto the back of the lorry. Nothing disastrous happened in the process besides one of the men getting a 'pinched finger,' and they were soon on their way with her held in place by fibrous bonds of some kind. She felt her first faint flicker of humor when 'Lou' patted the tie-downs and said "There, it's not going anywhere now." If she sneezed again, the bonds would be torn to shreds. These men had handled her without a second thought and, whatever else might happen, she had maintained her disguise. It was with some professional pride that she realized she could effectively blend in even in this embarrassing form.
Conserving as much energy as she could, she settled into a more natural state of lying low in passive scanning mode and hovered just above full-out recharge. She barely noticed the primitive little town with its hundred-story towers and seven-and-a-half million inhabitants. Bigger things were on her mind. London had been small, but it had been a relatively thriving metropolis and for all she knew, she was about to become an pitdoor advertisement for rural communications development.
Instead, she found herself at the end of her journey in a ramshackle warehouse of sorts. It was filled with all sorts of things that appeared to have no real function and she experienced no small amount of terror at the thought that she had been mistaken for this planet's castoffs.
They locked up with a rudimentary closure device and she waited half one standard hour before making her move. There were dozens of appropriate objects there, ranging from the handheld communications devices to sensors devices that were undoubtedly meant for military operations and there was no shortage of vehicles, but when she examined them, they turned to be nothing more than imitations and shells. There was not a single functional device in the entire storage facility, which only enhanced her fears that she was in some kind of human junkyard.
She expanded her search parameters and found a practically-useless signal that seemed to be derived from a direct connection. Since she could hardly be caught plugged in, she would be better served by seeking out a wireless connection.
Dawn came without any success, but it did come with the arrival off more humans, and Radio Flyer had to postpone her efforts. More males strapped her onto a primitive but effective two-wheeled handcart and, with much grunting and griping, brought her into a curiously-designed room. Even in passive scanning mode, she recognized that the walls had a layer of sound-dampening material, and what should have been functional appliances were mere shells.
For several minutes, she was left on her own, but there were no nearby vehicles to scan. She could have made a quick getaway, but time was of the essence and secrecy was of the utmost importance, so she resigned herself to riding out the storm.
The men returned a few minutes later, accompanied by a young female who was regrettably underdressed for the occasion. The internal temperature of what someone had called the 'sound stage' was set at an acceptable level for human habitation, but it could not have been comfortable for the girl to be clad in two separate pieces of thin fabric that only covered her pelvic and upper thoracic areas. Her excessive follicle growth seemed to be her most effective natural defense. Why the organic had coated said defense in flame accelerants was beyond her as most things had proved to be on this world so far.
The explosion of noise that followed could have possibly drowned out an atmospheric entry. It was a combination of curiously treble instrumental music about a dangerous woman, "spinnin' round and round." The female gyrated experimentally, perhaps trying to work some warmth back into her limbs before biological hypothermia set in, and then proceeded to mount RaFly and paw at her. Less than twenty-one seconds later, however, she clambered off.
"Sean, love, this isn't going to work."
"Cut," Sean called irritably. "What is it now? The choreography?"
"No, I'm perfectly content to push a few buttons, but there are no buttons to push. I thought this thing was supposed to be flexible."
Sean muttered something about outsourcing. "Licia, we'll fix it in post. Just pretend, will you? For all they know, it's a touch-screen."
Licia prodded unhappily at the evenly-spaced protuberances on RaFly's dorsal surface, but they were as unyielding as ever. Try as the 'bot might, she could not find a suitable alloy here that would allow Licia to push buttons. Given a prototype and an instruction manual, she could have done a more passable job, but she had been forced to imitate an inferior model. Not that the humans would appreciate her efforts, but she did try.
"Take two and try to get past the first verse this time," Sean called imperiously.
Against RaFly's better judgment, she did not engage her self-defense protocols. The task seemed simple-Sean intimated after two hours and nineteen minutes that he should have hired a brain-damaged kangaroo for all the usable footage they'd produced-but neither Licia nor the director could complete the assigned sequence. When the dialogue was spoken correctly, it was spoken emotionlessly. When Licia spoke the words with the right inflections, she spoke the incorrect sequence.
In the end, when five hours, forty-three minutes and twenty-seven seconds had passed, something called a voiceover was ordered and Licia was lowered to simply crawling over RaFly, prodding ("I said 'suggestively,'" Sean bellowed) at her solid metal and stroking her as if she were a favorite pet while the music about the "toxic" lover played on. More confusing was the constant stream of encouragement to "Work it, darling," and "make love to the damn thing! It turns you on! You turn it on! You're a bad, bad girl!" It seemed to have nothing to do with the original dialogue, but the misdirection was apparently intentional. The name of the appliance-a "Bad Wolf Hullaballo"-was not even mentioned in the finished product. Finally, Sean called, "That's a wrap" and the entire team practically fled in terror of having to repeat the experience.
RaFly suppressed the urge to shudder or at least flee for her life, since there were still humans around. It was difficult, since some of the aerosol-based products and mist-producing appliances had reacted negatively with some of her exposed parts. It was all she could do to not scratch herself, especially since her current state did not allow her to produce phalanges.
"Piece of junk," Sean commented a few feet to her right. She immediately went still as he approached and kicked her hard. It wasn't enough to leave a dent, but there was no telling what he might do next and RaFly braced for the worst. "Last time we use any of them."