"This is all my fault…" June sobbed into her good hand, Arcee sitting next to her, gently rubbing her back. The femme looked up hopelessly to her comrades; a furious Bulkhead, a panicking Bumblebee, a far too quiet Ratchet, and an angry looking Optimus crowded around her.
It had all gone so wrong.
Due to a surprise attack by MECH on an oil line in the wilds of Alaska, the Autobots called up and asked Ms. Darby if she could pick up the kids from school and take them home for the day. The kindly woman agreed, wishing them luck.
June said that she had easily picked up the children, informing them of where their beloved guardians had gone, much to Miko's incessant disappointment. Driving through town had apparently yielded much needed construction on the main road, something that June effortlessly remedied with a detour to the scenic desert route just outside of Jasper.
She hadn't thought anything of it as the children prattled as usual about their school lives and the Autobots.
They should have seen through the ruse.
The last thing June remembered was a roaring engine, a chartreuse muscle car with a black-masked driver, and a burst of light and static.
It was the Jasper police who had found Ms. Darby's car on the side of the road two hours later; overturned, windows shattered, mechanical pieces all over the road as if the car had flipped over several times.
June was the only one in the car, surprisingly minimally hurt, but unconscious.
She had regained consciousness at her hospital in the early hours of the next morning, and had panicked when she was told she was alone. Immediately, June discharged herself and contacted Agent Fowler with the number he had given her and told him everything.
Fowler had known instantly what had happened and, in turn, awoke the Autobots and gave them the news; MECH had kidnapped Jack, Miko, and Raf.
No ransom note had been left, no contact made, and they had no knowledge of the whereabouts MECH's base of operations, the past few hours had been maddening.
"You couldn't have known, June, it isn't your fault." Arcee soothed the poor woman. June only wiped at her eyes with her un-bandaged hand, being careful not to irritate the bandaged wound on her forehead.
Optimus knelt in front of the nurse, optics softening, "There is no reason for Silas to harm the children; he will hold them ransom in exchange for a Cybertronian replacement."
Ms. Darby looked up at the Prime with red, swollen eyes, "That's not exactly reassuring, and you know the kids would never allow that to happen." She sniffled.
"Before we start voting on who's throwing themselves on MECH's cutting board," Fowler cut in from the catwalk, gesturing to the main computer screen, "Let's find out exactly what ol' Si wants."
Arcee schooled her voice enough to ask, "How do we get in contact with him if we have no idea where he is?"
"I've been postulating that for some time now, Arcee, and, maybe, we don't have to." Ratchet spoke up from the monitors, "Miko never goes anywhere without her phone, correct?" the medic looked over at Bulkhead.
The ex-wrecker nodded, "Yeah, but I'm pretty sure MECH isn't stupid enough to let her keep it…"
"She doesn't need to," Ratchet turned back to the monitors, "Luckily for us, human cellular devices have an emergency global positioning system built-in for instances such as this." He began to type on the keyboard.
"All you need to do is call her phone and I can triangulate her position."
Bulkhead nodded and activated his communiqué link and broadcasted it through the computer, waiting as it rang. Ratchet's typing increased as a global map popped onto the screen, minimizing to the United States, then the western part. A moment later, the grouping of Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and California was selected and the signal became clearer and clearer.
"Can you still get a signal if I end up getting her voicemail?" Bulkhead queried.
As Ratchet opened his mouth to speak, the ringing stopped; someone had answered the phone.
After a hesitant silence, Bulkhead probed curiously, "Miko?"
"I'm afraid poor, little Miko is a bit indisposed at the moment." A cultured, deep voice answered smoothly.
Optics went wide with realization, even June and Fowler knew, and a cold chill went down everyone's spine in horror. The tracking map on the computer flickered before a new video feed took control of the monitor.
"Silas." Optimus growled, optics narrowing.
"Hello, Optimus Prime, are you and your soldiers doing well?" A charismatic smile spread across the scarred face.
"We would be doing much better if you hadn't taken the kids!" Bulkhead snarled.
Silas cocked his head, face turning innocent. "Who, me? Are you sure they didn't just wander off? Miss Nakadai especially seems to need a leash."
Fowler spoke up before Bulkhead could explode, "Where are they, Si?" The agent punctuated, glaring at the still smiling Silas.
Silas hesitated a moment, before dropping a hand to press something on the console in front of him.
The screen flickered once more to a new image; grainy, dark video feed slowly brightening to clearly show a room with three small occupants.
They were bound to chairs, arms and legs tied with thick, bulging rope. Gagged, they were silent and unmoving; unconscious it would seem, from multiple bleeding wounds. Perhaps they were still injured from the car wreck, but the Autobots saw otherwise.
Bumblebee gave a cry of horror, Arcee gasped and clamped her hand over her mouth, Bulkhead cried out Miko's name, but to no avail.
Optimus tried to school his shocked expression, but it was impossible when he could see the dried blood on their skin next to rapidly blackening bruises.
Ratchet was the first to recover, looking first to June and Fowler, the former having broken down into tears, then back to Silas, who reappeared, looking smug, "You sparkles fragger!" he snarled furiously, "Have you no shame? They're children!"
Optimus' hand on his shoulder drew Ratchet back, "Silas, release them, they do not know any information that would be of use to you."
Silas smirked wickedly, "Who said I wanted information? Perhaps I just like watching you squirm."
The Prime growled lowly, "What do you want?"
Silas just laughed darkly as the screen went black.
O - O - O
Upon waking, Jack was hit with a wave of raw pain shooting down his spine. His groan was suppressed by a thick cloth forced into the back of his jaw, leaving a dull ache at the tightness around his head. Jack blearily opened his eyes to see nothing, the darkness overwhelming in wherever he was. His neck was stiff from hanging for so long, and he sat up and rolled it a little to alleviate the discomfort.
And to the left, he saw an unconscious Miko, tied up just as he was, with blood dripping down her face.
Cold fear washed through his body with a terrible shudder, his eyes widening to the point he thought they would fall out of his head. He struggled, but discovered his hands were bound behind him, and, despite the copious amounts of blood dampening the rope, he could not slick his way out of his bindings.
Jack gave a muffled version of Miko's name, but she didn't respond. He turned back around as he struggled harder against his binds, succeeding in rocking his chair back and forth, but not much more.
A quiet whine sounded to his right, and Jack turned to see Rafael in a similar state; tied up and bloody, his glasses were shattered and there was a gash on his shoulder, most likely from the crash. He too, was gagged, making conversation impossible.
Raf gave him a nod, which Jack interpreted as him signaling he was ok, and Jack gave a nod of his own.
Beginning his struggling again, Jacks thoughts drifted back to the accident; after MECH had attacked during the school day, they had all been picked up by his mother, just driving home and avoiding construction, then a flash of light, pain, and sound, and everything had gone dark. A jolt of fear ran up his spine again as he struggled to remember what had happened to his mother.
No. She had to be alright. He had to believe that she was…
Ok, calm down, think about this, Jack. We're in a human sized room, so rule out Decepticons. Maybe MECH played the 'bots to get to us? He snorted angrily; Silas would hold them hostage to get to the Autobots. But there was no way he would get away with it, not while Arcee, Bumblebee, and Bulkhead had anything to say about it. Absently, Jack wondered how much time had passed since the accident.
Had the Autobots found out about it all yet? Had Arcee found his mother? Were they mounting a rescue mission or simply negotiating for their release? Jack shook his head at the last thought, Optimus may put diplomacy before violence, but even he would not stoop to bargain with Silas when they had been kidnapped so ruthlessly, would he?
No. No, help was on its way; he knew it was, all he had to do was hold on till then.
Jack's thoughts stopped then as the door to the room opened, and light spilled in behind the silhouette of Silas himself.
"Hello, Mr. Darby," The man smiled smugly, nodding to Raf as well, "Mr. Esquivel. So glad you two could join us."
Jack narrowed his eyes to a glare as he watched the man predatorily circle them, and beside him, he heard Raf's breathing hitch as Silas came to a stop behind him. Jack panicked and tried to look over his shoulder enough to see exactly what the MECH agent was doing, but failed to see anything significant until Raf's gag was taken off. He saw Silas move out of his peripheral to do the same for him, and Jack wasted no time in spitting the putrid thing out and flexing his jaw to relive the ache.
Silas had moved onto Miko by the time Jack twisted around again, watching as he untied and removed the cloth from her mouth. "Now," he purred lowly as he moved to stand in front of her, "let's have Miss Nakadai join us as well, hm?"
Too quickly for Jack to realize, Silas reared back and backhanded Miko ruthlessly on her bloody cheek, who gave a sharp cry of pain upon being forcefully awoken.
"Miko!" Raf cried hoarsely next to him.
Miko's head lolled as she struggled to right her head again, looking up blearily at Silas. "W-What-?" She whimpered, trying to sort things out. Silas gave a chuckle and stalked a few steps away from them, hands behind his back.
Jack leaned over to Miko, "Miko, are you ok?" he murmured slowly into her ear as she looked over at him; her eyes clearing and realization setting in.
"Jack! Where- what happened? Where are we?" She cried frantically, eyeing Raf, then Silas, then her own predicament; spastically trying to free herself as she began to hyperventilate.
"Calm down! It's ok, Miko, we're going to be alright." Jack urged, trying to calm her frenzy.
"You should listen to Jack, Miko." Silas called from the other side of the room. The man was leaning against the wall coolly, his arms folded across his chest. "He is, after all, the most responsible of you three. At least that's what I've managed to gather."
A moment passed, as Miko composed herself, and Silas' smile grew.
Jack swallowed, managing a defiant stare into Silas' eyes, "We're not telling you anything that would hurt the Autobot's." From behind him, Raf and Miko nodded.
Silas cocked his head, "And your mother? Think she would talk to keep you safe?"
Jack growled, knowing it was true, "Go to hell." He spat in Silas' face in a rare flash of rage.
The man reared back and dealt a harshly slapped Jack, causing Miko and Raf to cry out behind him as he slumped over a little.
Silas walked carefully behind Jack to Raf's side, looking aver at the eldest of the trio. "I would have thought your dear mother would have taught you better manners when speaking to your superiors, young man. After all," Jack watched at Silas moved to untie one of Raf's arms and took it firmly in both hands as Raf shouted at the man to let him go, "words like that hurt people."
With that, Jack watched in horror as Silas sharply jerked his hands in opposite ways, resulting in a sickening, audible 'crack' and Raf screaming in agony.
"Stop! Raf!" Jack cried helplessly, struggling to no avail against his bonds. Silas retied the boy's now-broken arm, walking over to a shaking, crying Miko and standing behind her now with a sadistic smile.
"Stop it! Leave them alone, please!" he begged, but Silas ignored him, and proceeded to pull out a switchblade knife from his belt. The man grabbed one of Miko's pigtails and viciously angled her head backwards to place the edge of the knife at her throat.
"No! No, don't, please! Don't hurt her!" Jack was desperately pleading, looking at Silas with hysterical eyes.
"Then, "Silas coed next to Miko's terrified face, "if I were you, Jack, I would do as I'm told."