A/N: *cracks knuckles* All righty. Here I go, off to tackle this cross over! I hope I do well on this. On the read-through, it felt a bit rushed, but I really wanted this done.
Request: From Aniay (A TF/Real Steel x-over with the prompt of 'Alive.')
Warnings: Mild swearing and weird dimension altering events.
Disclaimer: No, I do not own either Real Steel or Tf's. Just playing with fandom ;D
When Sentience Meets WRB.
Charlie Kenton took his eyes off the road for a moment to look at his son, peacefully sleeping in the front seat of his truck. Max was completely within the dreamland, slumped in his seat, seatbelt tugging across his shoulder.
Turning back to the road, Charlie made a mental note to fix him up and make him more comfortable at the next rest stop.
He was glad to have his son with him. The blondie, Aunt Debra, had relented guardianship to him once she saw how sullen Max got when he was away from both his father and his prized champion fighting robot, Atom. As a compromise, Charlie let Debra and Martin have him a few months here and there throughout the year, and always visited on holidays and birthdays to maintain the amiability of the arrangement. As hard as it was sometimes.
Flicking a gaze into the side mirror, he smiled as he saw the sporty Honda behind the truck. Bailey was travelling with them this time, and it warmed his heart to know it. Her support, their burgeoning relationship, meant a lot to him when he felt the weight of the world pressing in.
It was quiet as they wound through the seldom used back highways, the stars twinkling merrily above them on a moonless night. Right now, they were passing by wheat farms, the plants swaying in the night breeze.
In that moment, all was peaceful.
It was shattered when something bright burst out in front of them on the road.
Charlie yelped in shock, hazel eyes widening in surprise as his truck sped towards a large glowing silver circle. He slammed on the brakes, jostling Max, who woke. Like his father, his eyes widened into round astonishment as they neared the silver circle. It was like the truck brakes weren't even working!
"Dad!" Max cried out as they neared it.
Charlie almost didn't hear his son as their vision was taken up by bright silver, and they were sucked through the circle with Bailey behind them.
And everything went black.
Awareness was flickering in front of him. All he had to do was grab it. It was dark, and where he was smelled like a nice clean hospital.
And then the memory of the weird silver circle popped up, and Charlie's eyes snapped open and he bolted up.
"Ease human…your friends are safe from harm."
He barely noticed the impossibly wide surface he was on, but Charlie sure as heck realised that hovering above him was a…talking robot! And he was HUGE!
"What the hell?" he yelled, scrabbling back, only for a large red hand to pick him up and bring him closer to the light grey face with blue optics. The robot was frowning at him in a way like a mother scolding her son would.
"Are you some new kinda new WRB? I didn't know they were planning on making new bots that could talk!" Charlie blurted, his eyes roving over the big robots face.
"WRB?" asked the white and red robot.
"World Robot Boxing. C'mon, you have to be a new model. Never seen anything like you before. Where's my son? Where's my robot? Where's Bailey? Could someone please explain this crap now?" Charlie growled, looking all around. It was a huge room, mostly silver, but with a ghastly orange ceiling. There were huge beds everywhere, and supersized medical equipment. He was too frenetic to realise the robot was looking at him with pity.
"It seems that Starscream's teleportation device worked. Just not in the way he wanted to," Ratchet said thoughtfully, holding the wriggling human firmly so he wouldn't slip and fall. He had a sneaking suspicion that the minibot recovered from the trashed truck outside in the desert was, as this human said, a WRB bot. Which meant they were from a different dimension. Frowning, Ratchet moved and placed the human down on the berth, and cleared his vocaliser to focus the frantic humans attentions.
"Calm down. What is your name?" Ratchet asked.
"Kenton. Charlie Kenton, so just call me Charlie." The man seemed to have calmed down slightly, so Ratchet lowered himself to the berth level and introduced himself.
"I'm Ratchet. I'm the Chief Medical Officer for the Autobots stationed here on Earth. I come from the planet Cybertron. I am certainly no…WRB bot. I am fully autonomous, not a mere 'robot.'"
Charlie looked at the ro…Ratchet, shook his head, and then promptly pinched himself, shutting his eyes and whispering, "This is just a dream…this is just a dream."
"I assure you it isn't," the medic said sardonically. Humans. They were always pinching themselves.
Charlie opened his eyes again, pressing a hand to his head. "How the hell did this happen? Where the hell are we?"
"My guess is that the porting device Starscream made collected you from a completely different universe," chimed in a chipper voice.
The man and medic turned to see Wheeljack, cradling Bailey and Max in his hands. Bailey looked doubting and shocked, while Max looked excited. Charlie was relieved. They were fine. Now he just had to make his mind believe this wasn't some dream…or maybe someone slipped something into his scotch and coke at that bar the other night, and this was just a really bad trip.
"This is Wheeljack, our engineer and inventor," Ratchet said.
Max's eyes were bright with excitement. "Hey Dad! Guess what? They talk! They're like you and me, only they have processors instead of brains. Wheeljack has been showing me and Bailey around while you were conked out, and there's more of them." He giggled. "This is so cool."
Yeah, definitely not a bad trip then.
Charlie rubbed his eyes. "I don't believe this."
"Believe it. A freak of nature has put you here, and now you're stuck on this Earth," grumped Ratchet. He was getting a bit tired of the melodrama.
Wheeljack brought the two other humans over and deposited them gently next to the man, who was completely out of his element. Still, he got up and embraced his girlfriend and son, kissing Bailey in relief while clutching Max to him. He hid his anxiety. They were in a world they didn't know. How many of these robots…Cybertronians were there? Had they taken over Earth? A weird tingle shuddered through him. A weird, alien thought.
"So…are we the only people here? Have you guys taken over or something?" Charlie asked.
Ratchet and Wheeljack looked at each other as if to say 'oh brother.' Wheeljack answered, face turning kindly, "No. We are refugees in a sense. We crashed here looking for energon…our lifesource. And we've been here ever since. There are other humans that visit here, but we like our privacy."
"Oh. Ok. Another question. Where's my robot? Where's Atom?" Max cut in, looking around as if he was hidden from their view.
"Oh…" Wheeljack's helm flanges turned light peach in embarrassment. "I didn't realise he wasn't Cybertronian. He looked like a seconds class minibot after all. So I took him while Ratchet was looking at you…and…well, I thought it was weird that he didn't have a spark, and so I-"
Ratchet had turned thunderous in his rage and smacked his friend in the back of the head. "WHAT have you done?" he bellowed. For if he knew 'Jack, and he knew him well, something had gone wrong.
The little group of befuddled humans simply watched in fascination when Wheeljack yelped as a silver wrench came spinning his way.
"I didn't mean to! He had all the right equipment for one of our kind except for the right energon processing, and advanced processor, and a spark! He even had a little housing for it. So," the engineer ducked once more as another tool came sailing towards him, "I went to Prime, and he helped me! The Matrix gave a little spark, and I imbued it with some of my own spark energy!"
Ratchet's optics darkened. "You dolt," he growled.
Wheeljack shrugged. "I had no idea it was going to happen."
"That's what you say every time something happens in your lab. Where is their robot?" the medic asked.
Bailey whispered to Charlie, "I feel like I'm having an out of body experience. You?"
"I keep wondering if Superman is gonna turn up next," he quipped back.
Bailey and Max gave him a brief smile as they watched the robots talking in low, heated tones. As much as they may have that 'WTF?' feeling, they would stick with it. They had no choice but to believe these beings. It was still blowing Max's mind that they could talk to him, and they were so smart. Finally, the two white mechs turned to their human guests, Wheeljack chastised and Ratchet frowning. They seemed to be looking for the right words to say. Ratchet finally asked, "How many new weird events can you handle on one day?"
"If you're asking me, not too much more. Why?" asked Charlie.
"Slag," whispered the medic to himself. He then extended a hand towards the trio and murmured, "Hop on. I have a feeling that what my friend here did to your robot just might break the extents of your imaginations. So hold on tight."
The group entered Wheeljack's lab. The trio of humans saw Atom lying on a metal bench and immediately lurched forward. It was only Ratchet's forward thinking that prevented them from tumbling off his hand.
They immediately saw that Atom was different.
Max turned, suddenly angry. "What have you done to him?" he yelled. Atom was a large part of his life, and if these Cybertronians hurt him there would be no stopping his grief.
The engineer looked remorseful. "I thought I was doing him a favour. He wasn't quite alive. I didn't think he was an actual non sentient robot."
Ratchet shook his helm. Things for the humans were going too much too fast. He continued to monitor their vital signs as he placed them on the berth next to Atom. They ran to his head, looking at the changes. His plating was cleaner, the mesh covering his face had been replaced by an actual face (although the optics stayed the same), and he looked a little more solid. Max shakily placed his hand on the helm, amazed at the changes, but then his mood sank. What else had changed about Atom? Was their secret connection gone?
Charlie whistled low, "Now that looks like a champion bot."
Bailey sighed, muttering, "Men," and lightly slapped her boyfriend on the arm. If Max had paid heed to the comment, there could have been some screaming.
Max turned to the mech with the flickering fins on his head and demanded in his stubborn way, "What did you do to him?"
Wheeljack was about to reply when his friend shook his helm. This would be better coming from him. Lowering his voice to its most gentle tone, Ratchet said, "Wheeljack didn't intend for this to happen. But it turns out that he has re-engineered your WRB mech into a fully fledged Cybertronian, only he would run on electricity instead of the Cybertronian life source of energon."
Blank faces stared back at him.
"So…what you're saying is that…Atom is now one of you?" Max asked, voice barely wobbling.
"That's correct young one."
The new voice had Max and his father spinning around as the hiss of hydraulics sounded and a new voice made itself known. Atom began to sit upright, grey plating rustling softly as he did so. His voice was smooth and pleasantly mid range for a male voice. He looked down at his humans, glad to see them once more. He was glad the Cybertronians had transformed him. As a WRB sparring bot, his processor was limited and he was only for the single use. When he 'saved' Max and in turn was saved by him, he recognised the boy and could hear the humans. He understood their speech.
And now, thanks to the creative efforts of this mech Wheeljack, he could finally talk to them.
"Oh shit," Charlie swore, Bailey clutching his arm as they struggled to integrate the concept that Atom was now a living being.
"H-h-h-how?" Max squeaked, taking a step back, only for the minibot sized robot to lean forward and pick him up under the arms. Reminding Max of their first run together.
"It was relatively simple to wire a new processor and give him the sentient faculties in addition to a living spark-"
"Shut up!" chorused Ratchet, Charlie, and Bailey as Wheeljack started to launch into another explanation.
Atom smiled, blue optic lenses focussing on his boy. The boy he fought for and protected. "I am sentient, but it doesn't change that I'm your fighting bot. I may have a new face and can speak to you as you speak to me, but nothing changes. I still have my shadow programming and my battle protocols. I just may be more vocal."
"I hope to Primus you let him download the protocols about what it means to live," whispered Ratchet to the CME.
The medic grunted. At least the wacky bolthead next to him had the sense to do that.
Max meanwhile was instantly enamoured by the fact that Atom could talk now. He grinned as he realised that the old Atom was still within, just shinier and conscious. "This is so cool," he said.
"Unfortunately he can't transform, but I'm working on it," Wheeljack announced. He was so unfazed by the events that Ratchet and Charlie almost had to admire it.
Bailey grinned now, walking closer to Atom. "Amazing," she whispered. "What's it like to be seeing us through a different operating system?" It was odd to be talking to the bot, but now that he was 'alive' she figured she would have to adjust.
He rotated his face to her and answered, "Freeing. I've always wanted to thank Max for rescuing me from eternal deactivation. Second chances, I've heard, don't come often."
Max's and Bailey's eyes shifted to Charlie in that instant. They knew what the minibot meant.
Charlie seemed to come out of his stunned stupor and chuckled, "Of all the damnable things. Now we got a walkin' talkin' bot. Oh boy."
"As much as this is touching…we need to figure out what happens next," Ratchet cut in, businesslike.
"Like?" asked the female of the trio.
"Where you all are going to stay, how much the mechs of the Ark, where we are now, should know, and if you can all get home. While it is intriguing to meet others from a world in which robots have developed into mere fighting machines, you don't belong here," he expounded.
Shrugging, Charlie decided to go with it. He didn't really care. Sure, they were far from home, but Atom was happy, Max was happy, and Bailey was looking all right too. As long as they stuck together, he looked forward to the challenge. Hazel eyes sparking with interest, he asked, "So where do we start?"
Grinning, Ratchet replied, "Kickin' Con aft for bringing you here."
"I like the sound of that."
A/n: Gah! If I do any more, the bunny is going to eat me alive! I was SUPPOSED to cut it off earlier in the fic, but it just didn't happen. So here this is.