A/N: Yay! Another Transformers fic! They're just too fun. I was going to make this a two-shot at most, but we'll see...
"I'm just saying. How is that breaking rules?" Jack had anticipated his teenage years would be full of arguing with his mother over school, friends, and hopefully girls. He also expected to have a vehicle which would allow him an escape, or at least a method of stalling said arguments while he drove around, relishing in his temporary independence. What he hadn't expected was that his vehicle would turn out to be another mom- or as he thought of her, a big, overprotective sister.
"We're supposed to be covert, Jack." The motorcycle responded in a tone that he was quite sure was identical to his mother's when she was explaining why he had to eat his grandmother's cooking despite its questionable edibility.
"It's not like you're transforming in front of her, Arcee" He was ready to stoop to begging.
"But you are drawing unneeded attention toward me."
"What draws unneeded attention is the fact that I'm a dude, and my bike has pink detailing. That's unwanted attention right there."
"I'm afraid that's not going to be changing anytime soon, Jack." He could hear the smug smile in her voice. "But maybe that's a good reason for you to keep the girl away from me."
"But the point isn't you. It's me. I don't want her to date you."
"Then what do you need me for?" The motorcycle taunted.
"You want me to be miserable. That's it, isn't it?" Jack said in a dead-pan, glaring at the motorcycle's glowing panel.
"Absolutely. Every day." Arcee replied in the same flat tone, though it betrayed some of her amusement.
"Arcee. Do you copy?" Came an equally monotone voice through the comm-link, this one naturally droning and lacking any sort of underlying happiness whatsoever.
"Yeah, Ratchet, what is it?" Arcee replied. The medic usually only called if backup or reconnaissance was needed, or to yell at someone because yet another tool was found broken.
"What's your location?"
His bored tone was hinting toward reconnaissance, but she asked anyways. "About halfway between the base and the city, why?"
"Bumblebee was on patrol in that area, and he hasn't checked in. His comm has been glitching lately, but Optimus would like you to check it out anyways."
"Sure thing. Send me his coordinates."
The human glanced around at their barren surroundings. "You don't need to drop me off on the side of the road, do you? The walk back is kind of far and-."
"Don't worry, Jack. It doesn't sound like a big deal. You can come." She assured him, adjusting her course to head in direction Ratchet indicated. "Bee abuses that comm so much I'm surprised it doesn't short out more often."
"I didn't really picture Bee as a talker." Jack said, not meaning it as a pun because in reality he'd never understood a word the bot had said, but even with the odd beeps he used to communicate, the scout was usually silent.
"That's because most of what he says is written through the comm. His text logs rival yours."
"Impressive." Arcee had once told Jack he could "watch cartoons at the base with Bumblebee" and the bots often referred to the scout as young, but it was still hard to grasp that despite being thousands of years old, the 16 foot tall Autobot had the maturity level and habits of a human teenager- at least partly. Most teens he knew weren't fighting intergalactic wars, but he could name a couple.
Arcee slowed as she neared the coordinates. The area was pretty clear of the towering mesas and red rocks, but the yellow bot was nowhere in sight. "Huh…" Jack climbed off, allowing Arcee to transform. Even with the added height, she still couldn't see anything.
"What's up?" Jack asked.
"I don't know. I'm not getting any readings… hold on." She activated her comm. "Ratchet, you sure this is right?... Ratchet, you copy?" All she got in reply was a hiss of static. "What the-." She froze as she caught sight of the deep groves and divots in the hard packed dirt around her. "Jack-."
A horrifying screech like scraping metal bounced off the distant rocks and reverberated back to the human and Autobot. Arcee was back in her alt-mode before Jack could say a word. He jumped on without hesitation and the motorcycle sped for the protection of the nearest cliffs not a moment too soon. The next sound to reach them was the roar of a military helicopter as it cleared the top of a mesa far to their right.
"MECH!" Jack cried, holding on for dear life as the motorcycle kicked it into overdrive. The last time he had seen these guys, they had kidnapped his mother, more than willing to watch her die, and were ready to dissect Arcee until she was nothing but spare parts.
"I can't reach anybody!" Arcee cursed. "They're jamming the signal." -the same tactic they had used to cut Arcee off before. She sped through a crack in the weathered rocks, pleased when it opened up into a narrow canyon that led to an opening on the other side. "Jack, you need to get out of their range. Call for backup."
Jack stumbled off the bike and into the stone wall for support as he shakily tried to support himself. "Where are you going?" He cried.
"I have to find Bee. Whatever happens, you keep running. Understand? Go!"
The human tripped over his feet as he hurriedly backed up and sprinted for the opposite end of the canyon. With some difficulty, he pulled his cell-phone from his pocket and flipped it open, waiting for the bars to pop up, indicating a working signal he could use to call for help. He barely noticed as the sound of the helicopter grew fainter, clearly either not interested in or not noticing him.
His feet continued to pound across the cracked earth for an unknown amount of time. The sun beat down on him despite the late afternoon hour. Jack was so concentrated on the screen of his phone that he almost ran straight off the edge of a cliff to a canyon floor hundreds of feet below. He barely managed to stop himself in time, dropping to the ground and sliding a few feet across the rocks in his effort. Feeling the panic that had been pushed back while he ran, Jack looked around frantically for some way across.
The sound of his phone ringing and his subsequent jump of surprise nearly sent him headfirst into the canyon again. It took a few seconds for his racing mind to remember to answer it. His shaking hand could barely find his ear. "Hello?" He was surprised at how casual his voice sounded when he really wanted to shout at whoever was on the other side of the line.
"Jack? Where are you? Ratchet's been trying to-."
"Raf!" Thank heavens, not his mother. "Get Optimus, now!"
"Raf!" Jack paced the edge of the canyon, barely able to hear the younger teen over the sound of his heart pounding in his ears.
"Alright, alright." A few, terrifyingly long seconds passed. "Okay, he's here. You're on speaker."
"Jack, what is it?" The deep baritone of the Prime's voice was surprisingly calming for the terrified teen.
"Optimus! MECH is here. We can't find Bumblebee. Arcee went after him. They're jamming the signal, she told me to run so I could call." Jack explained as quickly as his mouth would allow.
"Ratchet, prepare a ground bridge." Ever calm and in control, Optimus's voice only betrayed his concern with a slight increase in tempo.
The next half a minute was filled with the medic's familiar routine of generating the transport, then an unfamiliar drone cut it short. "Slaggit!"
"What is that?" Jack asked, panic quickly welling up again. "What happened?"
"The ground bridge is also being jammed. I don't know how." Came Ratchet's frustrated reply. "It's never happened before."
"Bulkhead," Came Optimus's voice again. "We must travel there ourselves. It is not far. Jack, stay where you are. We are coming."
The roar of engines cackled through his phone's speakers as the Autobots sped from their base.
"Jack, you still there?" Raf asked. His high-pitched tone gave away the obvious concern he had for his guardian.
"Yeah…" Jack gasped, the rush of adrenaline leaving him shaky and weak. He looked helplessly back in the direction he had come from. It was deceivingly still. "Look, I'll call you back."
"Jack, wait-!" Raf was cut off with the snap of Jack's phone.
"What are you doing, Jack?" He muttered to himself as he started to swiftly walk back towards the spot he had left Arcee. "What can you do to help? Nothing… So why are you still going?" Indeed, he had picked up his pace. "Oh hell…" He started running again.
Arcee had somehow managed to lose the MECH soldiers in the maze of boulders. It helped that she had shot down their helicopter, giving them one less form of transport and surveillance. She was now cautiously making her way towards what seemed like their base of operations- at least it was where most of M.E.C.H.'s men had come from.
The horrible screeching noise had continued intermittently and only her darkest thoughts could imagine what was causing it. Regardless, she knew she had to find the source, because it was more likely than not connected to the missing scout. Primus help those fragging sadists if they had done anything to Bumblebee…
Another shriek pierced her audio receptors, sending an electric chill through her circuits. She was getting closer…Arcee quickly ducked back around a corner. She was close alright. Just on the other side of the rock she was using for cover was a large group of mercenaries, and while she usually had little to fear from earth weapons and wasn't concerned about harming these specific humans, she had to be cautious. They had surprised her before with their knowledge of Cybertronian weaknesses and how to bring them down.
Jack had better have called in that backup…
Arcee was silently preparing herself to charge through MECH's forces when a horrifyingly familiar voice reached her ears.
"Let me go! This is kidnapping, you know."
Oh, Jack, no. Arcee closed her optics tightly as the yells became quieter. I told you to run! What was she supposed to do now? She had no way of knowing if he had time to call for help. She knew MECH wasn't above harming their own kind, but if she blasted her way in, they might just kill Jack outright or he could get caught in the cross-fire. She needed another way in…
"You certainly have a knack for showing up at just the wrong time, don't you?" The MECH leader, Silas, said contorting his scarred face into a sinister grin.
"I don't know, by my count, you've always ended up losing." Jack spat back. "How many more times do you think you'll get lucky before the bots, or the government get fed up and crush you?"
"I like our chances." Silas shrugged. "With every encounter, our technology improves and your "bots" become more…human."
Jack looked around the massive cave which had been converted into MECH's temporary base of operations. The tunnels continued back beyond his view, but the constant commotion led him to believe that they were being used as well. His suspicions were confirmed as the metallic screech echoed through the base, forcing him to clamp his hands over his ears.
"Ah, there's one now." Silas said smugly, apparently immune to the ear-splitting noise.
Jack's blood ran cold. "What?"
"We're just continuing our studies. Would you like to see?"
Jack would have punched the smug smile off the MECH commander's ugly face if he hadn't turned and stepped out of reach at that very second. Two guards flanked him, each grabbing an arm, making any other attempts unlikely to succeed either. They led him along behind their leader through the snaking tunnels. After a minute, the passage opened up into another large chamber. In the center, secured to a large metal platform, was Bumblebee.
The yellow bot was struggling weakly against his bonds as a small group of MECH soldiers walked over and around him, periodically using some unrecognizable tool on him. Pitiful whirrs and drones emitted from the scout. They were unmistakable to Jack as moans of pain.
Jack tried to make a break for it, to run to the bot and throw off his captors, but the guards held him fast. "What are you doing to him?" He cried.
"Well he wasn't exactly the robot we wanted, so a little dissecting, a little testing, mostly questioning. The first two were much more worth-while." Silas answered calmly, as though reciting his grocery list.
"You idiot! He can't talk!" Jack nearly ripped his shoulder from his socket in an attempt to get at the MECH commander. Bumblebee wasn't his guardian, but if he thought of Arcee as his sister, that as good as made Bee his brother.
"Well," Silas shrugged. "That explains that. Best to use him as bait then. Get what you can, but leave enough to be useful." He ordered the men around the scout.
"What? No! Bee!"
Bright round optics spotted Jack for the first time. He renewed his struggles in earnest, and this time the metal bonds groaned in protest. Jack watched in horror as one of the men snatched up a long pole, the pronged end crawling with electric tendrils, and stabbed at the yellow scout. The shriek sounded again, and this time Jack knew it for was it was- Bee was screaming.
Both Jack and the scout ceased their struggling, Bumblebee from exhaustion and Jack from shock.
"See what fighting gets you?" Silas said, stepping up to the now motionless bot and slapping a hand onto the yellow armor of his leg. "I suggest you become helpful to us Jack, or I'll have no need for you."
Jack looked helplessly into the scout's dimming optics. "You would torture a kid?" He muttered darkly.
Silas laughed. "I never said that."
Jack spun around, fixing his glare on the scarred face. "He's a kid." He spat, pointing at Bumblebee.
Silas scoffed. "Nonsense. It's a robot."
"You can't hear what you're doing to him?" Jack shook his head. What was he doing? Silas didn't care. Silas had been about to kill an innocent human before. Why would he care about a robot- even a sentient one like the scout? "You know what? Fine. You want me to cooperate? Let Bee go."
"You would tell us where to find the other bots?" Silas asked, raising an eyebrow.
Bee squawked his protest, wide optics begging Jack not to do it, but the teen couldn't look at him. "At least I can talk." He said coldly.
The scout cried out again in a pitiful metallic drone, and for a moment Jack thought he could understand the bot clearly. Don't do it. I'm not worth it. Run. A MECH soldier reached for the electric prod again. "Bee, stop!" Jack cried. "You don't need that. Don't. Please." He begged the mercenary.
"I don't know." Silas ran a hand over his scarred chin, studying the dark haired teen. "I think I have all I need right here… and I won't have to lay a finger on you to get it."
"What?" Jack realized his mistake too late. He had just handed them the ammunition they needed.
Silas smirked. "You see, I could let the robot go…and then you might cooperate. Or… I could keep it here and make sure you tell me everything I want to know. So what's it gonna be, Jack? Do I have to hurt your friend?"
Jack's breath caught in his chest as his throat closed up. He glanced from Silas to Bee, who was explaining everything he could in one pained look. I can handle it.
But I can't. Jack thought. I also can't give up the other Autobots…Optimus, Arcee. Where is she?
As if on cue, an explosion from outside shook the rock foundation, causing the humans to stagger to remain upright. Jack took his opening and ran for the soldiers and the yellow bot they guarded. He snatched up the electric prod and waved it in front of him, warding off the men. The responded by raising their weapons.
"Now, Jack." Silas chided. "You really don't want to be doing this." For once, his voice wavered slightly as he threw a nervous look over his shoulder toward the cave entrance where the explosions continued.
However, it was the female voice echoing through the stone chamber that really worried him. "No, Silas, I don't think you want to be doing this."
A/N: I might be a little notorious for cliffhangers... oops. Review please!