Author's Note: Well, this . . . so totally did not turn out as I'd originally thought it might. It took a few turns on me along the way and somehow morphed into a very different animal by the end. Still, I think I like how it turned out. I hope you do too!

Also . . . some of the historical facts may be a little or even a LOT off. Normally, I'd try to research this to make sure I've got my facts straight, but . . . since this is in spur-of-the-moment dialogue, I decided to go with what I remember or think I remember off the top of my head, just as Spike and Sparkplug are doing. So yes, some of it may be wrong, but while I normally welcome critique, please don't feel the need to correct me in this instance if I am in fact wrong on something. Thanks.

Disclaimer – "Transformers" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Hasbro, Takara, and any other related owners/distributors/producers. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.

"Independence Day"
by DragonDancer5150

Chapter 1

A small collection of Autobots stood in the command center going over some of the details of the last mission, seeking ways it could have been prevented in order to better respond to the next time – there was always a next time with Megatron – when a startling boom sounded over the loudspeakers from somewhere nearby.

"Wheeljack?" Ironhide asked on reflex, looking in the direction of the sound.

A huff to his right and a hand on his shoulder brought his attention back around. "I'm standin' right here, 'Hide. Have been for six breems."

The security senior gave the engineer what might have passed for a sheepish look and a shrug. "Habit. Can ya blame me?" Then he turned to Sunstreaker, who was currently stationed at Teletraan I. "Sunny, what was that?"

The yellow Lambo warrior had already deployed one of the ship's external camera-drones to a point some fifty meters from the ship. In the foreground, Bumblebee was sitting up from where he'd apparently tackled Sparkplug and Spike. An impressive plume of smoke rose from the ground behind them. Smirking, Sunstreaker turned to the group. "I gotta agree with Ironhide, Wheeljack. I'm almost having a hard time believing you weren't behind that. Wasn't big, but it was still pretty impressive."

Wheeljack folded his arms. "Cute, Sunny. So what was it?"

Ironhide wanted to know too, but since Sunstreaker looked so unconcerned, he knew it couldn't have been Decepticon activity, so-

"Guys, it wasn't supposed to do that, was it?" Bumblebee's voice sounded slightly tinny over the loudspeaker from the camera's microphone.

"No." Sparkplug groaned softly as he pulled himself up to his knees. "No, it wasn't supposed to do that."

"It should have shot up into the sky at least a good fifty feet before exploding," Spike commented.

"What should have shot up into the sky first?" a resonant voice wanted to know, coming in over the speaker before the camera caught sight of the mech who owned it.

Ironhide sighed. "Better go see what's up," he muttered. "Wheeljack, with me."

Bumblebee winced when he heard his commander's voice, then straightened and turned to face the powerful mech. "Optimus Prime."

"They're called fireworks!" Spike chirped in excitement. "The Fourth of July is coming up, and Dad and I thought it'd be nice to show you guys what we like to do for the Fourth."

Sparkplug stepped forward, clarifying, "Independence Day, July Fourth – the day a written declaration was signed by the Founding Fathers of our country to make ourselves autonomous from the British. We were considered a colony before that, but the Declaration of Independence stated that we would no longer be under British rule and instead be our own country. That Declaration is still to this day one of our most important historical documents."

"The Declaration of Independence," Optimus echoed with a rumble, rubbing thoughtfully at his chin. "Yes, I have heard of this document. It was part of the start of your Revolutionary War, was it not? The Americans' first war for freedom."

"Yeah, that's right!" Sparkplug nodded. "Today, we traditionally celebrate with barbeques and family gatherings and a fireworks display."

"And since you guys should probably stay close to the base in case of a Decepticon attack," Spike added, "we thought we'd bring a display to you!"

"I see." Optimus nodded, then focused on Bumblebee, though he was still addressing all three. "And the explosion just now?"

"A test run," Bumblebee offered, shifting uncomfortably, "and . . . I asked them to show me one."

"You should have warned us, Bumblebee," his commander admonished.

"I radioed Sunstreaker and let him know."

"You could have set the whole area on fire, Bee!" Hound fussed, arriving from the patrol he'd been scouting in the area.

Spike put up his hands in a placating gesture. "We chose a cleared spot to set the launch tube. We made sure even if it did detonate on the ground, it wouldn't catch anything on fire."

Just then, Ironhide and Wheeljack arrived from the Ark to join the gathering. Ironhide rolled up close before he transformed, clapping Bumblebee on the shoulder. "Takin' after your creator now, Bee?" he teased.

Bumblebee huffed through his vents. "It wasn't supposed to explode on the ground. Must have been defective."

Ironhide snickered, throwing a look over his shoulder at Wheeljack. "Yep, takin' after his creator all right."

Wheeljack shrugged. "At least he comes by it honestly?"

"Guys…" the Minibot scout complained.

"What exactly are your plans for these, Sparkplug?" Optimus asked.

Sparkplug grinned and looked up at Wheeljack. "You remember me telling you a few weeks ago about fireworks?"

Bumblebee watched his creator's optics brighten in excitement. "Ya found 'em?"

"Yep, sure did!"

Bumblebee wasn't going to be the one to tell his creator – especially not in front of Optimus Prime and the others – that they'd had to go all the way to Primm on the other side of the border with Nevada to get them . . . because fireworks, the scout learned only just this afternoon, were illegal in California without special permits.