Disclaimer: I do not own Transformers Prime nor anything else for that matter.
This is about what could have happened had Arcee arrived too late in the episode Crisscross.
I really like Jack in the Prime series, he's defiantly the best human on the show. He's proven to be really helpful at times, but knows that he could still get in the way as well. Something Miko should really pick up on. This story will focus mainly on the relationships between Jack, Optimus, and Arcee with bits of Ratchet thrown in just for fun. This story will stick to the cannon as close as possible along with my own additions added to it.
That being said, please enjoy the story!
~After the Fall~
Chapter 1: A Failed Rescue
"Mom, I'm sorry." Jack Darby said as he tried to free his hand from Airachnid's webbing. He knew it was pointless. Even if he did free himself, Airachnid would stop him before he'd be able to reach his mother. He sent out another silent prayer for Arcee or Agent Fowler, to hurry up and save his mom from the horrid Decepticon in front of him.
Jack immediately turned his attention back to his mom when he heard her cry out an anguished no.
His eyes widened as he saw Airachnid grab his mother's throat, the Cons' sharp claws hovering hungrily over her pale skin. Desperate, he stuck the end of the metal pole he'd been using to pry his hand free into the residing puddle of Airachnid's melting acidic spit. Once the bottom of it was heavily coated, he quickly jabbed it at the webbing holding him down. He let out a shout of pain as he felt the acid begin to tear away at his flesh, but he didn't stop, he couldn't.
As soon as he was able, Jack pulled his hand free out of the weakened webbing and ran towards his mother; the sight that greeted him at the end of the walkway would haunt his dreams for the rest of his life.
Airachnid was staring at him avidly while holding his mother's neck so tightly that it was causing her to turn blue. She gave him a demented smile before moving his mother's face towards him so that they could look at each other. He felt his heart plummet at seeing the raw tears in his mother's eyes and Jack knew that she'd already given up hope.
He wanted to say that everything was going to be alright, that they were going to be saved, but the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat rendered him speechless.
"Well now, I think it's time to end this, don't you Jack?" Airachnid said sweetly as she used her other hand to caress June's pale cheek. He wanted to yell, to scream at the sky, but that wouldn't save his mom and he had to save her. He had to.
Jack dropped to his knees and made one last attempt, a desperate deal with the Devil.
"Please take me instead, Airachnid. Let her go and you can have me!" He shouted, a sob catching at the end of his sentence. Airachnid tilted her head and pondered mockingly towards him, her optics showing nothing but amusement.
"As tempting as that offer is Jack, I'm going to have to say no deal. You see, you made a fool out of me during our last encounter and this is my revenge against you. And after I break you, I'm going to kill you in front of Arcee, slowly, painfully. Well, if MECH kept up the end of their deal and she's still alive that is, but I doubt it." She turned her attention back to June and let go of her throat.
"Say goodbye Jack!" With that, Airachnid released a mouthful of green acid onto the webbing that held June Darby in place.
Jack ran forward, getting as close to the edge as possible and arrived just in time to see the last of the web melt away. He reached his hand out towards his mother in a desperate attempt to save her, hearing her scream his name as she fell towards the ground.
He tried to make eye contact one last time before he saw her crash into the hard and unforgiving Earth.
Her body looked as if it had exploded from the inside out, and yet he couldn't turn his eyes away from the horrible sight of her mangled corpse. He watched in a detached manner as her blood slowly spread from her body, mixing with her scattered pieces of ripped flesh, bashed organs, and broken bones.
Jack looked up apathetically only when he heard the sound of helicopters heading towards him. It didn't matter anymore; they were too late to save her. He went to turn his attention back to his mother's remains when he heard a hearty chuckle from behind him. Jack spun around and saw Airachnid posturing and preening like she'd done something that deserved an award.
Hatred like he'd never known coursed through Jack's body. This monster had killed his mom and he would get his revenge. Jack clenched his fists in anger and let out a startled hiss as the acidic wound from Airachnid's saliva seemed to burn into him even worse than before. He didn't even spare the glowing gash a glance, but instead continued to glower at his mother's murderer.
Airachnid was about to say something, no doubt she was going to gloat, when she was suddenly cut off by an uppercut that threw her off the walkway. Jack paused as the target off his rage vanished from view. A part of him wanted to go after her, but Jack knew that Arcee would make Airachnid pay. He didn't watch as Arcee and Airachnid started to fight, but instead turned his attention to the ladder that he was now climbing down.
He needed to see his mom.
When he finally reached the ground, he slowly walked towards her, trying not to step on any scattered pieces of her body. He could barely hold back the thick heave that came from his throat as he failed in that endeavor. He cringed at every squish and crunch that resulted from his carefully placed steps. Jack collapsed onto his knees and placed his hands on the largest piece of her that remained. He thought it was probably her torso or maybe a leg, not paying attention to the warm blood he was drenching himself in.
Jack barely noticed that Fowler had arrived with backup and was shooting at Airachnid. He gave a spiteful smile at the thought of her being torn apart by bullets, her body left in the same conditions as his mother. He immediately snapped out of his morbid daydream when he saw Airachnid transform into a helicopter and take off, her hideous laughter ringing in his ears.
The young man gritted his teeth at the familiar scene of a Decepticon escaping because they could fly, while the Autobots could not. It was one of the many advantages the Decepticons had, along with a small army of soldiers, access to Cybertronian technology, and lots of Energon. Did the Autobots even stand a chance?
"Jack! Jack where are you?" He heard Arcee shout in a panicked tone. He disregarded her calls and turned his attention back to the cooling body at his feet, finally noticing that he was covered in his mom's messy remains. He was soaked in her blood, flesh, and shit; another dry heave reached his throat, threatening to spill his stomach acid on her carcass.
Dead bodies weren't clean or pretty.
"Jesus Christ, kid. Is that…?" Jack heard Agent Fowler ask from behind him and he just gave a rigid nod in response, he didn't dare open his mouth. A dead and heavy silence fell over them, lasting for several minutes until the roar of Arcee's engine broke through. They both turned to see the cobalt Autobot driving towards them.
"Jack! Thank the All-Spark! I thought that Airachnid killed you." She surprised him by pulling him into a tight embrace. He tried to return the hug, but his arms stopped midway when he felt pain radiate from his hand, traveling up his arm.
He stared down at the partly melted flesh with indifference as the remains of Airachnid's acid dissolved deeper into the wound. Jack briefly wondered if the damage was spreading, but found that he really didn't care at the moment. Shock, his brain pointed out for him as his arms dropped back to his sides, he was in shock. It was only once Arcee pulled him away from her did she finally notice the gore that covered her charge. Her optics widened and shuttered for a second before spotting June Darby's' remains.
"Is that your mom?" She asked in a whisper. Jack turned to look up at her and found that she was blurry; her body simply looked like shapes and colors to his hazy vision.
"Yeah." He answered back just as quietly and started to shake when she hugged him once more. It was only when he realized that his mother would never hold him again that Jack began to feel the tears spill down his face. Her last words, her screams for help, burned into his mind. A curdling emotion burned in the pit of his stomach, corroding something inside of him.
He hadn't been able to save her.
~After the Fall~
"Let's move it men. We need to get out of here before any of Agent Fowler's lackeys show up." Silas ordered as he moved to the helicopter that was waiting to take off. He still couldn't believe that he'd been outwitted by a boy. He hated to admit it, but Jack Darby had bested him in this round.
A smirk made its way onto his scarred face; the kid was good, Silas would give him that. Of course, Jack had still lost to Airachnid in the end, but that was a loss they both shared. Silas both grimaced and smirked as he recalled the murder he'd just witness.
MECH wasn't an innocent organization by any means. They've had to kill people in the past, innocent or otherwise, but they never prolonged a persons' suffering. The way that June Darby had died was brutal and it was even crueler having forced young Jack to witness it. Which was exactly what Airachnid had been aiming for; he had to commend her on making it so personal, so painful. He could use more men like that Decepticon, without the double-crossing part of course.
Tonight hadn't been a total loss for MECH, though. They'd been able to open the Autobot's chest cavity and had analyzed her 'heart' or as the Transformers called it, her Spark. They'd also gotten a look at how they're able to transform into Earth vehicles and aircrafts, thanks to Airachnid.
However, what little knowledge they gathered had shown Silas that the Transformers were far more complicated than he'd originally believed. He'd first thought that they were advanced robotic machinery, but when he saw that Spark and its' readings, Silas realized that he was dealing with so much more.
A Spark was life and energy and in that regard, the Transformers were not so different from humans.
This meant that his plans needed to change. Before, he had meant to build his own Transformers, but now he realized that he could never duplicate an energy source as powerful as a Spark. Not if he wanted a true warrior instead of a mindless drone. Silas shook his head as he got into a helicopter and signaled for the pilot to take off.
He needed more information and the only way to do that was to get his hands on another Transformer, unfortunately he knew it was going to have to be someone that neither side would miss. Perhaps one of those flying Vehicons…
Silas turned his head to look out the window and saw Jack Darby staring up at him while standing next to his motorcycle guardian. The boy was morbidly covered in blood, but what got his attention was the look of hatred on the young mans' face. Silas had little doubt that he had just made an enemy in young Jack, but instead of feeling wary, he was intrigued. Jack had shown great promise here today and Silas couldn't help but think that the boy could prove to be very useful to him in the future.
"I want you to look up Jackson Darby's family and any other information that you can gather on him." Silas said to one of the many MECH soldiers in the copter. He received a chorus of "yes sir" and smiled as ideas began to take shape in his mind.
~After the Fall~
Jack glared at Silas's retreating helicopter; he was really starting to hate those things. He turned to his mom's body and found that she was already being placed into a body bag by some medics.
"What now Arcee?" He said in a dead voice. The shock of his mother's death had yet to fully fade, leaving Jack's mind blissfully blank. He could grieve later, but right now Jack was just thankful for the numbness that seemed to consume him. A stabbing pain in his hand reminded Jack that he wasn't completely numb, but he welcomed this physical pain more than the emotional one that he knew he would soon be feeling.
Arcee sighed as she thought about their next course of action, but she'd never been in a situation like this before. She had only had to deal with warriors dying, and all that was left to do in the end was honor their sacrifice by avenging their deaths. This time though, an innocent human had died and left behind a son. Arcee mentally cursed herself and Airachnid in both Earthling and Cybertronian. She had failed to escape MECH sooner and June had paid the ultimate price, leaving Jack with nothing but a painful sense of loss. She turned to look down at her partner before she spoke.
"I'm so sorry Jack. Had I gotten there sooner, I could have…" She trailed off when saw June being placed into an ambulance.
"It wasn't your fault Arcee; it was Airachnid's and MECH's." 'And mine.' Jack added quietly to himself. "They were prepared for us and we're lucky to have survived it." He said tiredly, trying to reassure his partner and knowing that he was failing at it miserably.
"Lucky? It's only thanks to your quick thinking that we're here Jack." Agent Fowler said in a subdued tone as he walked up towards them. The older man sighed as he placed a comforting hand on Jacks' shoulder. "Listen to me son, I'll take care of the expenses for her funeral, but we can't give out the true reason for her death. Prime and his men-"
"I know, I know, they don't exist." Jack interrupted as he brushed a bloody hand through his hair. That phrase, it had never sat well with Jack. Those words had first been spoken to him in a threatening tone by Arcee and he'd later used them on her before "leaving" the Bots. Now, now they just left a bitter taste in his mouth. The way his mom died, it doesn't exist.
"Do you have anybody that I can to notify for you?" Fowler asked, his voice coming out low and full of sympathy. It was such an odd tone to hear coming from the older man as the agent had always spoken in an irritated or bold manner in the past. Jack shook his head and looked up at the stars.
"No, it's always been just mom and me as far as I know. Dad died when I was six and I don't know if he had any family, but mom was an orphan. I'm the only family she had left." They all stood in silence for a few minutes before Jack noticed a small blue light coming out of Arcee's' chest. "Arcee, your chest is glowing." His voice came out flat and low, but it was loud enough for his partner to hear. Arcee looked down and covered the open piece of armor with her left servo.
"Silas opened up my chest compartment while I was in stasis-lock, but my system scan says that my Spark is undamaged." She was looking at the ground, speaking in a quiet voice. Jack didn't demand that she look at him though, he couldn't bring his eyes to meet her gaze either.
"Spark?" He asked in a tired voice as his eyes once again drifted toward the ambulance carrying its' latest corpse. Was it ironic for his mother to be in an emergency vehicle that had the name of the hospital she worked at printed on the side of its frame?
"It's sort of like our heart." She replied in a soft voice and Jack quickly turned back to her in worry.
"You sure you're okay? They didn't do anything to your Spark?" He asked, concern leaking into his words. Who wouldn't be extremely apprehensive about the fact that Silas had decided to poke at their partners' heart?
"I'm fine Jack. Agent Fowler, is it alright for Jack to stay at the Autobot base tonight?" Though Jack was slightly miffed about how easily he was brushed off, Arcee's casualness about her situation eased his worries greatly. The sudden alarm he felt faded and was again, thankfully, replaced with that earlier numbness. Fowler rubbed his tired eyes and turned to look away from them both.
"At this point of time, I believe that's the best thing to do. However, there are many issues that will need to be addressed soon, I'll contact you tomorrow." He patted Jacks' shoulder one last time before he moved away to talk to a few of his men.
"What does he mean that there are issues that need to be addressed?" Arcee asked as she transformed into her motorcycle form.
Jack simply shrugged as he got on, pretending that he didn't' know any more than she did. She and the others would find out soon enough and Jack didn't want his remaining time with the Autobots to be ruined by the future. He looked back one last time as the ambulance disappeared from his line of sight, heading towards the hospital his mom used to work at.
"I'm so sorry mom." He whispered quietly as he put on the helmet that she had demanded he wear whenever he rode Arcee.
"Ratchet, we need a Ground Bridge please." He heard Arcee say in a solemn voice.
"Opening Ground Bridge, is everything alright Arcee?" Jack heard Ratchet ask.
"I'll tell you when we're back on base; gather everyone, even the kids." She replied as her engine came to life and Jack climbed on. The hum was comforting, calming even, and Jack gripped her handlebars tightly.
"Wake the children, at this time of the night? It's four in the morning." The Medic responded with a grouchy tone, nothing unusual there.
"And it's important, so just do it." The two-wheeler snapped back. It had been a bad night and she was not in the mood for any attitude from anybody. She got a huff for an answer before the Ground Bridge appeared in front of her and Jack.
~After the Fall~
Optimus Prime, who had been looking at the latest strategy used in the Decepticon Energon raids, turned his attention towards the opened Ground Bridge as Arcee drove in with Jack. His optics widened in surprise and alarm as he saw the state of their oldest charge.
Jack saw Ratchet approach, but just waved him off. He wasn't in any mood to being poked or prodded. He got off of Arcee and she quickly transformed in order to prevent Ratchet from aggravating her partner even more.
"Really Arcee, I need to take care of Jacks' injuries." Ratchet growled only to be followed up with frustrated sigh as the cobalt Autobot refused to move. Arcee was about to respond, but Jack beat her to it.
"This isn't my blood, I wasn't the one hurt." He said in a hollow tone, but he could feel the sorrow starting to build inside him as the shock from before slowly started to wear off. Arcee quickly bent down and placed a servo against his back. He gave her a small smile as thanks for her comfort.
"Whose blood is it, Jack?" Optimus asked in a grave tone. The young human looked up at him and Optimus saw a dead look in his blue-grey eyes. It was not unlike the ones he used to receive when one of his men had nothing left to live for due to the tragedies of the war and loss.
"My mom's, Airachnid killed her." Jack replied in a heart wrenching voice and he could feel the sob aching to break free at the back of his throat. He clenched his hands, welcoming the dull throb from the wound Airachnid's acid had given him. The pain gave Jack something else to focus on instead of his grief and itch to mourn was soothed a little.
Optimus closed his optics and tried to keep a clear processor, but it was hard with all the guilt and anger that suddenly consumed his Spark. He heard Ratchet gasp from beside him, but didn't turn to look at his old friend. Instead he bent down to look at Jack, not wanting to tower over the child at this moment. Jack still had to look up at Optimus, but he appreciated what the Autobot was trying to do.
"Jack, I am sorry. We have failed you and your mother. I know that there is nothing that I can do that can make up for this loss, but I-" Optimus went silent when the front entrance opened, letting the others into the base.
"Optimus…" Jack said, getting the Autobot leader to look back at him. "I could never blame you or any of the other Autobots for what happened to mom, I can only blame myself." He said softly so that only Optimus could hear. Arcee and Ratchet had already moved to talk to Bulkhead, Bumblebee, Miko, and Raf. Optimus gave Jack a sharp look, but he ignored it and continued. "I knew that hanging around with you guys would be dangerous, but I couldn't resist being a part of something so extraordinary. Then when I met Airachnid, I acted stupid, like the whole thing was some sort of an adventure. I was foolish and mom died because of that." Jack said, his eyes never leaving Optimus' optics. "Most of the blame goes to Airachnid and MECH for her death, but I can't ignore the fact that I was part of the equation as well."
"Jack, it is not your fault that she's gone." Optimus stated firmly. "It was our duty to guard you, as well as every other human on this planet; we were the ones who failed."
Jack slowly shook his head, not wanting to state the fact that it was impossible for five Autobots to protect a population of billions, knowing that it wouldn't have any effect on the Prime. He decided to let the matter drop and pretend that Optimus had absolved him of his guilt. Nothing anyone could say would make Jack feel any different, but he wouldn't hide the gratitude he felt towards Optimus for trying.
He turned towards Miko and Raf as they made their way towards him with tears in their eyes. As they approached him, he couldn't believe how young they looked to him now. Sure, he had always felt older than them, but now, Jack felt like he'd aged twenty years in the last hour.
Raf plowed into him, tightly wrapping his arms around him as he sobbed into his stomach. Jack placed his hand on top of the younger boys' head as he started to whisper comforting words to him, which only made Raf sob harder. He turned to Miko, who was standing a few feet away; looking more scared then he had ever seen her. Whether it was because of the blood or because she'd just realized how much danger they were in, he didn't know, but Jack held out his other arm for her and soon found her crying softly on his shoulder.
~After the Fall~
Jack sighed as he watched the blood stained water go down the drain. He was back at home, having realized earlier that he needed a shower and new clothes, unless he had wanted to sleep in an outfit that was soaked in his mom's blood. Ratchet had opened up a Ground Bridge in the garage, where Arcee was still waiting for him, so that he could avoid running into anyone. Not that Jack expected to meet any curious neighbors at three in the morning. Still, after what MECH had just done, Optimus wasn't taking any chances.
Miko and Raf had returned to their homes a few minutes before he'd left, still looking very upset. Raf seemed to be taking it the worst as he had cried himself into an exhausted sleep and Miko had been painfully silent. Bulkhead had offered his condolences while Bumblebee beeped at him with soothing words that he couldn't understand, but Jack truly appreciated their support.
Absentmindedly, Jack scratched at the hand that had been partially melted by Airachnid's acid and noticed that the wound had healed over, not even leaving a scar. He looked his hand over carefully and for a second, he felt a bit of uneasiness fill the back of his mind. He was too tired to hang onto the feeling though, too tired to care, and much too tired to question why the injury was now healed.
He looked up at the bathroom mirror and stumbled back in shock when he saw his eyes flash a bright glowing green. He shook his head and looked back at the mirror again, only to see wide bloodshot blue-grey eyes staring back at him.
Passing off the weird moment as sleep deprivation, Jack put on his clothes and grabbed his fully stocked backpack before returning back to base with Arcee.
~After the Fall~
Chapter 1 over and done! So how'd you like my depressing opening? It broke your heart didn't it? Good! I don't want this to become a sob story where all Jack thinks about is his Mom's demise and this definitely won't turn into a thirst for revenge thing either, so I'm getting the "boo hoo" parts out of the way now. Jack is stronger than that, which is one of the reasons for why he's my favorite character.