Cardiff. South Wales. United Kingdom
Four weeks later.
To the north of the Welsh capital there was a quiet secluded church. It was an old church. Been around since the 16th century, surviving the reformation of the church from Henry VIII, all the way through the second world war. It had a tall peaked spire and the rest wasn't all that impressive. It stood strong, like it had been there since the beginning of time. It was on a side of the mouth of the Rhondda valley, looking over the old city which has seen much change over time. From being a simple Roman fort town over the three rivers in the area, the Rhymney, the Taff and the Ely. To becoming the busiest port in the world during the Victorian times up until the early twentieth century exporting high grade coal from the South Wales valleys. To how it is now. Just another city trying to reinvent itself.
The church wasn't in a busy place. Nothing over looked it. The church yard was quiet and peaceful the drone of the city could be heard and the sound of the birds tweeting there evening song. The weather was typical for Wales. Grey skies and a light rain drizzled the already soaked ground, and more came off the old trees some of them been around when the church was built.
The Autobots formed a semi circle around a certain grave. Optimus in the centre, with Arcee and Bumblebee to one side and Ratchet and Bulkhead to the other. Jack, Miko, Raff along with June and Fowler stood in front around the grave everyone being mindful not to stand on other graves as a sign of respect to the dead.
The grave head was made of grey stone with lettering chiselled into it. The dirt, moss and years of weathering hid most of the words. However what could be read was 'Here lies M… ickers'. Everyone's face was sad. All not saying anything.
But Optimus spoke, breaking the silence. "We have come here today to pay respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the people they cared about. And we will carry on remembering those people, so that there loss was not in vain" He said. Everyone remained silent looking down. Everyone made a silent prayer.
Optimus stood aside as Elita came through. She had something in her arms. The humans below stepped out of the way as Elita came down on one knee looking at the grave. She read the stone. She extended one arm out still keeping a hold of something to her chest hidden from view. She brushed away the dirt and moss from the stone. The crest with an anchor and the crown on top could be seen. The rest of it could be read.
'Here lies Markus Alexander Rickers, loving father and husband, died in the line of duty. Also here lies Sarah Rickers loving mother and wife, sacrificing herself to save her only child. Both will always be remember, forever'
Elita read it and she looked sad. Thinking about that only child left all on his own.
"Finally nice to meet you both. You have a wonderful son, and you should be proud of him" She said. "There's someone who wants to say hello"
She revealed from within her arms was me, asleep. I was still alive. My heart had stopped for two minutes and for thirty seconds I was clinically dead. But my heart restarted but it hasn't fully recovered. Even now my heart is still weak and I have to rest a lot, hence I'm sleeping. I was wrapped up in a brown blanket.
Elita woke me up "Michael, we're here" She said very gently. My eyes opened slowly. I smiled at Elita and looked at my parents grave. Elita unwrapped the blanket from me and put me into a sitting position in her hand. Hooked to her hip was a wheelchair which she put in front of me and she lifted me into it.
After June did that emergency operation. Fowler called in the taskforce surgeons who performed lengthy operations. The bullet severed an important nerve and it paralyzed me from the waist down. The doctors told me that I might never walk again. It was really hard to take. Elita was there when they told me. I cried in her arms for hours.
Without the use of my legs the life I knew would be over. I didn't want to be crippled for the rest of my life.
But Elita was there for me, and since she has been my carer. She helps me throughout the day with simple tasks such as getting around, reaching things down for me and many other things. I can't even get in and out of bed without her help. I needed round the clock care and she volunteered herself to care for me. She promised she would.
I wheeled the chair next to the side of the stone and put my hand on the top. "Hi Mum, Hi Dad. Been awhile hasn't it. What was it… seven years since I last visited? I'm sorry I have been around but you know. Always on the move"
My head hung low. "Dad, I'm sorry I didn't go into the service but I couldn't, not after what's happened. I hope you understand" Elita put a comforting hand on my shoulder. I took a deep breath. "But hey, I'm still carrying on what you did. I'm stopping bad guys and I'm still at sea like you were. So it's not all bad" I smiled and looked up again. "And Mum. I knew how much you did to keep me safe when I was young and I have complete respect for you. I owe you my life. I could only imagine it would have pained you to watch me having to always run and to see me get hurt. But you don't have to worry anymore. I've got friends now who'll look after me and keep me safe. So you can rest peacefully now" I put my hand on Elita's hand. "She looks after me now. After all that time since you past away I'm now safe again because of her" She smiled at me and I smiled at her.
Elita handed me a bunch of flowers which she held between a finger and thumb. It looked tiny in her giant hand. I took the flowers. Mostly purples and pinks with a few other colours thrown in to liven it up a bit. I stood it against the stone. I was getting tired again. Elita lifted me out of the chair and I sat in her hand as she hooked the wheelchair to her hip. She wrapped the blanket around me and I laid on her arm as she held me to her chest.
She looked at the stone place a hand on top. "Mr and Mrs Rickers, I will promise to protect your son, and keep him safe. I also promise to care for him and show him love, just as you have for him. I'll look after him as if he was my own son" She stood up and let me have one final look. She looked from the grave to me. I quickly fell asleep again. She lifted me to her face and planted a kiss on my forehead. "Sweet dreams" She whispered. She took one final look at the grave and turn around. A ground bridge open and we went back to base. Back home.
She carried me through the control room, up to my room. She opened the large door. Knelt down next to my bed. She gently unwrapped the blanket and put me in the bed. She tucked me in and gave me another kiss on the forehead. This one being a long gentle one. A mothers kiss.
She watched me sleep for a few minutes then quietly left me to rest.
She walked back into the control room.
"How is he?" Optimus asked.
"Ok. He's just sleeping" She smiled.
"Well I better be off" Fowler started. "Got to make a few calls. See if Michael's company is willing to keep him for the time being. In case he does walk again. And I'll have to speak to the Academy and the MCA as well. Hopefully he can keep his career" He said.
"Thank you" Elita said.
"Anytime" Fowler got into the lift and left.
"Elita" Optimus started. "We need to sort you out with a vehicle mode"
"Michael and I had been discussing that. And together we made a choice. I actually quite like it" She went to the computer and brought up a photo of a Honda S2000 hard topped convertible "He said the styling suited me and I liked its physical properties" She explained.
"Ratchet, download all the data needed" Optimus told him.
Ratchet took Elita's place in front of the computer and did as asked. He connected a cord from the computer to the back of Elita's head. Pressed another key which started the download. She told me how this process works. Either physically scan a vehicle form or download the blue prints.
She started to transform. It took longer than normal as parts had to change an alter. It looked like a hideous mess of metal moving around itself. Then it all came together to form the sports car that was on the screen. The only difference to the one on the screen is that the one in the base is a light shade of pink and all the Honda badges have been replaced with the Autobot symbol. Only the S2000 badge remained. Apart from that they were practically identical.
She transformed back into her robot mode, which had slightly changed. The big sweeping wings were the side doors still big as ever and the headlights appeared around the chest. But other than that. There weren't any serious noticeable difference. She looked the same on the whole. She checked herself out and liked her new look.
"Can't wait til Michael sees this" She said.
She went out with Optimus to not only test out her vehicle mode and to just be with him for awhile. Just the two of them.
The next morning came. I woke up to the sound of the wall opening. The light flooded the room. I squinted but then the light was blocked out. I knew it was Elita. When she came in I saw she had changed. She knelt down by the bed.
"How are you this morning?" She asked as she did every morning.
"Good. I see you have a vehicle mode now" I pointed out the major changes.
"Yeah. Great choice by the way it's a good with handling and speed" She said.
"Well it is one of the best sports cars around" It was a good sports car. And it is everything a sports car is meant to be. Comfortable whilst having a well put together chassis and engine. And also it's a convertible. I wish people would stop saying things like Aston Martins, Ferrari's and Lamborghini's are sports cars. Because there super cars. Sports cars are things like Mazda MX5's or a Porsche Boxer's. It's not speed that counts, although the more the better.
"Maybe today I could take you out for a drive? Just to get you some time outside instead of being cooped up in here" She suggested.
"I would love that" I answered.
"Good" She leaned in and kissed me as she does. Always on the forehead. She pulled the sheets back and with a finger under each of my arms and one under my knees she shifted me into the already waiting wheelchair. She stood up and left me to sort myself out like getting washed, dressed all the normal things you do in the morning. I quickly learned to all these things by myself. I really appreciated the help Elita would give me, but there were just some things I wanted to do myself. I still wanted some independence.
I got showered, shaved this time not cutting myself and got dress into a pair of jeans, light blue shirt and Chelsea boots. I wheeled myself out the door. I didn't open it like normal. I just bashed it open these days. I came into the control room. Elita had cooked me a breakfast. She had wanted to look after me as if she really was my mother. She got advice from June on what it is like to be one. And other things like cooking for example. She made me a full English. She was learning fast. And I have to say she was actually good at it. She is much better than that Bulgarian Steward who used to make breakfast on the Catalonian Star.
I may not be able to do much anymore but I'm always kept in the loop on the days events and I do voice my opinions on things. I even play a major roll in forming mission plans. With my unique take on things. I can look at a situation and see things that others either don't see or just overlook. It was a case of two schools of thought. Theirs was as a battle group and me, as a stand-alone. We combined our ways of thinking and it has produced good results. The Autobots have seized more energon deposits than ever before. So they were now always fighting fit. I even reviewed how Optimus fought hand to hand and gave him some tips based on how I used to fight. Because in a sense I am his human equivalent. Tall, big built and very strong. On comparison we were almost evenly matched. Almost nothing in it. I used to have slightly more power in the legs. But not anymore. My legs were slowly withering away.
I had my breakfast while I discussed with Optimus on how to capture another energon deposit from the Decepticons. He thought it was too much a risk. I counter that, that's what the Con's would think so there guard would be low. Not expecting an attack. And by doing so, it would cause panic in there ranks. Not knowing where we would strike next. I like using mind games. He slowly agreed and went about making plans. He went away to do so.
Elita came to the platform edge. "How's your breakfast?" She asked.
"Excellent as always" I answered in a cheery tone. She smiled.
"There this place in Canada I thought would be a good place to visit. So when your ready we can go. I've got together some sandwiches, drinks and other stuff for you and I have sorted myself out with some cubes. There's a lake in this valley. I thought we could have a… oh what's the word?" She tapped her head trying to recall the word.
"Picnic?" I asked.
"Yeah, that's it. What'd you say? Up for it?" She asked.
"Sure, defiantly" I went into deep thought. "Now I come to think about it, I've never been for a picnic before. First time for everything" I said.
"There you go, something new. New life now yeah? As I promised" She said. I smiled. She did too.
"Well let's get going eh?" She lifted me while in the chair on the platform and onto the main floor.
I looked up at her "Watch this" She said. I watched her transform in front of me to form a light pink sports car. The roof was down and the drivers door opened. Left hand drive might I add. I looked on amazed.
"Well don't just sit there gawking all day. You getting in or what?" She teased. I wheeled to the open door and heaved myself from one seat to the other. I folded the wheel chair and lifted into the other seat. I sat in proper. The door close and the roof closed. The seat belt did itself and squeezed me gently. "Safety first" She said through the door speakers.
The ground bridge opened and she drove out through the wall of swirling light.
We found ourselves on this wide twisting road going through a picturesque valley. Mountains on either side. A valley forged by ice thousands of years ago. Trees littered the entire place. All evergreens.
She drove along and I took in the scenery though the windows. I laid back on the seat feeling quite content to just look.
"Beautiful isn't it?" She asked. I nodded. I didn't quite know what to say. We drove on. She took me further along for miles and miles. She went along very smoothly. Her engine humming quietly. She wasn't pushing it. There was no need to. We cruised along for more miles.
"You into music?" She asked.
"I like all sorts, but more recently I got into club music, drum and bass, euphoria. That sort of stuff" I said.
"Ok" Her radio adjusted like it was changing channel and Ian Van Dahl started playing. Her songs may have been around for sometime now but they all had this quality of having a good beat but relaxing at the same time. I liked it. I liked it a lot and she noticed. We kept on driving for miles along the valley.
We had been going for so long and this valley just kept on going. Elita slowed down and turned off onto a dirt road. She drove under the canopy of the trees and came out to the lakeside and she stopped.
"We here" She said. The seatbelt undid itself and the roof and door opened. I lifted the chair over my head onto the ground, unfolded and heaved myself into it and wheeled back slightly. The door close and she transformed back into her robot mode.
I did up my jacket as it was slightly chilly. She sat down, again the floor quake as she did. She sat with her legs out straight and using her arms behind her the prop herself up. She noticed I had done up my jacket because of the cold.
"Come here" She plucked me out of the chair and sat me in her lap. I leaned back against abdomen facing the same direction as her. It was warm to the touch so I snuggled up. We sat there for a while not saying anything. Just taking in the amazing views.
Again I found myself feeling tired and needing some sleep. I rested my head side on against her and napped. She put a hand around me shielding me from the breeze. I slept for half an hour. Her thumb stroking my hair.
I woke up still in her lap and her hand covering me. Still in her warmth and safety. She produced a ham sandwich offering it to me along with a can of coke. I accepted them both and had them while she sipped on a cube of energon. She made lot's of sandwiches for me. Maybe too many, but I wasn't complaining. It was lovely just being out here with her and not worrying about anything. Well nearly anything.
"I've been thinking" I started. She looked down at me while I still looked out on the lake "What would I do if it turns out I'll never walk again?"
"I don't know. But it's your choice what you want to do, and I'll support you whatever that might be" She said.
"But being at sea is all I ever wanted to do and I might never be able to go ever again. I don't know what else I would want to do"
"That I have no answer for. Let's hope for the best and that you will be able to walk one day soon" She said.
"It's strange since I found you and I have seen some sort of normality in my life. I find myself missing my old life. The one with constant danger where I had to be one step ahead. It feels like a big chunk of my life has gone missing" I said.
"This is your new life now. One where I keep you safe from harm. One where you can be finally free" She said.
"I do miss the action. The adventure. Also I did like investigating. How else did you think I found you? If one good thing has come out from all this, is that now your free" I said.
"With me you can still have adventure. Just no longer on your own" I looked up at her. "If you really want to go on doing all the things you did, then I won't stop you. But if you do, let me come as well so your never alone again. Because I know the one thing you hated most about your life was that you were just about always on your own. I'm here for you, and always will be" She hugged me the best she could. We went silent again, looking out across the lake. I carried on having my sandwiches and other stuff while she sipped on energon cubes.
After a while the sun went behind a mountain, and I became very cold to the point I started shivering so Elita transformed back into vehicle mode, and I sat in the driver's seat warming up. Soon we were on the road again heading back the way we came. She played more of Ian Van Dahl and I was feeling tired once again. But I kept myself awake. Eventually we drove though the ground bridge and we arrived back at base, or as I have now been calling it, home. I got into my wheelchair and Elita lifted me up to the human area. Fowler was there waiting for us.
"Michael I've been making calls on your behalf, and I think there is someone you need to speak to" He said.
"Your training officer" He told me.
I wheeled over to my desk. Elita and everyone else gathered around. I dialled a number and put the phone on speaker.
"Seawave Maritime Agencies" A woman voice answered.
"Hello. I'm a cadet and I would like to speak with my training officer please" I said politely.
"Can I ask your name please?"
"Thank you" I was put on hold, listening to a man reading out the companies quality guarantee. The usual crap you here in company blurbs.
Then after a few minutes another man's voice came through "Michael, good to hear you. I'm so sorry to hear about Richard. And I want to say the entire company feels your loss, we were all shocked to see The Catalonian Star go down. She used to be the company's flag ship. How are you?" He asked.
"Ok, but not as I used to be" I said.
"I'm glad you called because there are some things I have to tell you"
"When we were informed that you were caught up in a bank robbery and you were shot, we all feared the worst" I looked at Fowler with a confused look. He just put a thumb up. Cover story. Lame, but it was good enough.
"I hear you're for the moment paralyzed. If you need we can provide you financial cover for medical expenses as you seemed to be living in… I'm sorry Nevada?" He asked confused.
"Don't bother asking" I said.
"Yeah, I learnt that quite quickly with you"
"Nah I'm fine, I've got some good friends taking care of me. So what else is there?" Wanting to get to the point.
"Well, I have been speaking to my bosses and I have pleaded on my knees for you. They wanted to get rid of you saying your career at sea was finished. But I made the case that you probably walk again and get back out there, and you are also the best cadet the company has had in a long time. No one has had better exam results in this company than you. I just want to say, you're the best cadet I've ever had" He said.
"And what happened?" I asked.
"After long talks they have accepted to keep you on. However they said if you still can't walk in six months then they will terminate your employment. But they will give you a bonus so to help you get by" I was ecstatic. But I didn't react just yet.
"We have arranged for you to visit a therapist in the local hospital, and we will pay for it. And when your ready we will fly you back to the UK so you can get a new ENG1 medical certificate. The nearest MCA approved doctor to where you are is too expensive. He's a real rip off so we will get you to the one you went to before in Cardiff" He told me.
"Thanks that great news" I said.
"It is. Well the whole of the training department is behind you and were all really rooting for you. I'll see you when you get back to college for the post-sea briefing with the others. Get well soon" He said.
"Thank you very much" I hung up.
I punched the air. "Yes!" Everyone was pleased. I could still have my career. I didn't know what to say.
Elita picked me up and hugged me tight. "I'm so pleased for you" She sat me in the hand and gave me a kiss.
I spoke to everyone "Well I'm extremely delighted. I was sure I was going to get the can. Guess I must have some pretty decent employers. I'm so glad I can keep my job. I went to so many interviews with other companies. They didn't take me on because of the lack of references you see. Seawave didn't mind, they looked at my record and thought it was good enough"
"So this means you can go back to sea now?" Miko asked.
"Not quite, as he said I have six months to stand up. And I have to get a new medical certificate, because I have a major change in my health it's now void. The next I go out again will most likely be in June or July, next year. However if I can stand up within the next two months, they might give me more time at sea before I go back to the academy in January. Maybe two months" I explained.
"We all know how much being at sea means to you" Optimus started. "We will all do our best to help you recover as quickly as possible. I hope to see the day you go back"
"Thanks Optimus, thank you all. You all been so nice accepting me in. I hope this is a start of many great things to come" I said.
Elita put me back in my chair and I quickly wheeled back to my room bashing the door. I went to the bed side cupboard and took out a cigar and my zippo lighter. Bashed the door again and came back to the desk. Everyone still where they were. I bit the end off the cigar. Lit the zippo and breath in and out through the cigar quickly as I lit it. Flicked the zippo closed and put in on the desk.
"Michael, you really shouldn't smoke those" Elita said.
"Why's that?" I asked.
"There not good for your health, they could kill you" She said sounding like an over concerning mother, not surprising really.
"With all that's happened in the past, I should already be dead" I said.
"That's not the point, your choosing to do it" She told me.
I looked up at her. Drew a bit from the cigar. Let it linger a bit and slowly let it out. "My name is Michael James Rickers. I'm in the merchant navy. And I can do anything" I took another draw. Let it linger and let it out nice and slow. Leaned back as I did and smirked.