Well, here it is, people; the new chapter!
Oh, and by the way, if you're not a fan of Jack getting beaten up, then I suggest you steel yourself.
With a blur, Miko's hand shot outwards, gripped Jack's hair tightly, and slammed his head into the bathroom wall. Jack gasped, as his skull slammed into the white tiles. His breath was knocked out of his lungs from the force of the blow, and stars winked in front of his eyes. He tried to orient himself, but Miko was already sending her petite fist into his nose. Blood blossomed, as Miko's knuckles connected with the soft nasal cartilage, and Jack was sent flying back, his head reeling, as he hit the bathroom floor, red droplets spilling onto the pristine tiles. He groaned, eyes screwed shut as he made to get up from the floor, when Miko's boot kicked him in the chest.
"Miko, what are you doing!" exclaimed Bulkhead. But Miko was having none of it. She scrambled out of the bathroom, darting between a startled Ratchet's legs, and narrowly dodging Bulkhead's servo with a dive-roll. Jack, having regained some semblance of his senses, stumbled out of the bathroom, a hand stemming his bleeding nose. "Miko, what the hell!" he yelled, in a nasally voice. But Miko wasn't listening; she'd scrambled up the stairs, and made a beeline for the elevator. Jack cursed, and followed, still clutching his face.
"Miko!" called Bulkhead, as he thundered toward the railing, unsure of how to approach her without damaging the platform.
"Stay away!" hissed Miko, "Just fucking stay away!" Her pupils were dilated, her eyes wide. She stood there, her back pressed against the stainless steel doors, her muscles tense, her fingers digging into the elevator's controls, like the claws of some wild animal. Jack swallowed, as he slowly walked across the platform. "Miko, just calm down!" he insisted, a hand held out in placation.
"No, get away from me! Keep your hands off me! I'll make you burn, I swear!" shouted Miko, as she frantically pressed the call button. Jack wiped his nose again, his mind racing. This was not like Miko at all; her hair had become disheveled, her eyes were manic, and if there was one thing Jack had learned about wild animals, it was that they were at their most dangerous when cornered. A steady beep-beep from the overhead counter told Jack that the elevator was approaching.
Ratchet, having gotten over his initial surprise, immediately hurried over to a console and typed a long stream of commands. "I've disabled the elevator!" he announced. Said elevator ground to a halt, and the counter shuddered to a stop. Miko, of course, was not happy. With an anguished howl, she pounced on the nearest victim: Jack. The boy was thrown backwards onto the floor once again, as Miko's fist connected with his chin, making him bite his tongue. Jack spat out the copper tasting liquid, just in time for Miko to straddle him and dig her fingers into his face. Jack grunted, as Miko's digits tightened around his cheeks and forehead, as if they were trying to pull them apart. He tried to prise them off, but Miko had somehow developed an unrelenting death grip. She looked down at him, with an expression of pure fury, her eyes wide, teeth bared, strands of her hair loosened and flopping around her face. "M-Miko! Stop!" choked Jack, as his fingers strained to loosen Miko's stranglehold. Miko did not relent; if anything, her grip was steadily getting stronger, and it was so painful…
A sleeved arm suddenly wrapped itself around Miko's neck, causing the girl to shriek. Her hands came up to try to claw and dislodge the limb, freeing Jack's face, and allowing him to scramble away. Struggling to his feet, Jack saw, to his astonishment, an enraged Miko being restrained by none other than June Darby. Miko roared and threw off June's arms. Without breaking stride, she lunged towards Jack. The boy backed away rapidly, only to feel the cold steel of the railing on his back. Miko leaped. Jack braced himself for the impact. Miko snarled as her fingers stretched out towards his face…
There was a cyan blur, as June tackled Miko, both women toppling to the ground in a roll. Jack could only watch, as the two wrestled on the ground, Miko hissing and snarling. The nurse grunted as she drew a hypodermic with her free hand, and plunged the needle into her forearm. Miko gasped, her head thrown back, as the drug took effect. Her hands stopped clawing at June's sweater, and soon her limbs became limp. Her eyes drooped, and her head lolled, as she fell into unconsciousness.
June sighed, as Miko became still in her arms. Jack was dumbfounded. "M-mom!"
The nurse's stern eyes snapped onto Jack's, and she jabbed a finger towards the large side door. "Med bay," she snapped. "Now. And I want Miko tied down. Securely!"
"So Miko took a possibly fatal hit for my son? Why wasn't I told about this?" asked June, her arms crossed, looking for the entire world like a parent reprimanding a naughty child. Optimus looked towards Ratchet, Bulkhead and the other Autobots, an optical brow raised. Bulkhead bowed his helm sheepishly. Arcee and Bumblebee shared a nervous glance. Ratchet looked away.
"…We forgot?" mumbled Jack, lamely. He was sitting on the human-scaled console's swivel chair, an ice pack held to his nose. Rafael coughed, rubbing the back of his head. June sighed exasperatedly. "Never mind," she said, shaking her head. "Just tell me what's wrong with her…"
"Have you diagnosed Miko's condition, Ratchet?" asked Optimus. The medic nodded, and swiveled a screen, the better for those present to see. "I have performed an extensive analysis on a foreign agent in Miko's blood. It isn't listed in my database, but it is still distinctly cybertronian in origin." On screen was a three dimensional render, of a sleek, segmented, eel-like…thing…with a round mouth on one end ringed by what could only be shearing and slicing mouthparts. "For those who have studied the basics of cybertronian bio-mechanics, the microbe's design might seem startlingly familiar."
Arcee blinked. "It looks a bit like a nanite; I remember, from that one class I had," said the femme. "But in this case it looks very different…"
"Wait, hold on," said Rafael, raising his hand, "What's a nanite?"
"They are microscopic bio-machines, a vital part of our biology," said Optimus, unfolding his arms from his chest. "You humans are made up of so called 'cells' are you not? Nanites function in a similar vein; you can call them our own 'cells', if you like."
"So your armor, weapons, everything," said Jack, "They're mad of these…things?" He pointed to the screen, where the render slowly revolved.
"Well, not exactly," said Arcee, "Our nanites are different. The one over here" -she gestured to the screen- "Has been modified."
June blinked, her thunderous frown disappearing. "Modified? In what way?"
"Here, let me show you," said Ratchet. He brought up another render alongside the first. It was another nanite, but this one was noticeably different from the first. It was stockier and somewhat benign looking, and there was a noticeable lack of cutting tools, or any distinct mouth. "This is one type of nanite, specifically designed to track down viruses, or any similar disease causing programs," said Ratchet, "Our version of a white blood cell, if you will. This one, from Miko's blood sample, has been repurposed for infiltration of an organic body."
Miko eyes snapped open, and she gasped, her back arching sharply. She barely registered that she was, once again, in the med bay, in the same berth. She was more preoccupied with the numbers and shapes that flew across her vision. Miko blinked, trying to clear her field of view, but the numbers wouldn't go away. They blinked and flew from left to right, a flurry of numericals and symbols reminiscent of a computer on boot. Miko's eyes darted, trying to make sense of what she was seeing.
The numbers disappeared, and were replaced by a circular reticule, divided into quarters by two lines. Miko licked her lips, and flicked her eyes around the ceiling. The reticule followed her line of sight, like a set of crosshairs on a precision weapon.
Dear God, what was happening to her?
"Infiltration?" asked Jack, stunned. "Why?"
"Of that, I am not certain," said Ratchet. "My initial analysis suggests that they may try to augment certain aspects of Miko's physiology."
"Augmenting?" asked June, stunned, "What on Earth for?"
Arcee frowned. "Wait, hold on; I think I remember something like this back on Cybertronian underground, in the Kaonian ghettos." The others turned towards Arcee, and the femme shifted. "It was only a rumor, but I heard about this one mech, who knew another mech, who knew another mech, who heard about some sort of stimulation drug based on nanites."
"A drug?" asked June, her hands gripping the railing. Her face had gone an interesting pale color. Arcee shrugged. "I didn't really think about it much at first," said the femme, "But then, a century later, I started hearing stories of this mech called Dead-End, a stunticon, they said. Turns out he had the drug, and went ballistic; tore through a whole platoon of Wreckers once, with his bare servos."
Bulkhead growled. "Now I remember! I heard he was the one who took out Rotorstorm and Pyro!"
"Well, that's all very informative," growled Jack, "But this drug; is it…addictive?"
"Addictive? Definitely not, when it comes to human physiology," said Ratchet, "But it appears this iteration of nanites were designed to be permanently bonded to Miko."
"So it's not addicting," sighed June, relieved. "Is there any way to remove them?"
Miko took in a deep breath and looked around the med bay. Her newfound heads-up-display began displaying stress levels, stamina, and heartbeat rate. She made to sit up, but found her wrists bound to the berth. With a grunt, she looked down, and found toughened black straps securing her wrists to the edge of the berth. Panic shot through her, as she looked around the bay desperately. They tied her down! They were really going to tear into her, expose everything, her secrets, her wants and needs, everything for the whole world to see.
She had to get out of here. She had to get away from their eyes.
Objective: Proceed to Coordinates.
Miko blinked. Coordinates? What was it talking about? Was it trying to make her go somewhere? She swallowed hard and tried to make sense of the situation. If she stayed here, she would be torn to pieces. If she followed the directions…well, she didn't know, but it probably wouldn't be as good. But her eyes were trying to help her, weren't they? Wherever they were leading her, it would be far away from them, and far away from anyone trying to pry her to pieces. Miko set her jaw. She would follow her eyes to safety. She trusted her eyes. But first she'd have to remove these bindings.
She grunted as she strained against the straps, the tough material digging into her skin. There was a loud ripping sound, as one arm came free. With a squeak of elation, she focused on the other, her fingers scrabbling at the strap, her muscles straining. That too was torn loose, allowing Miko to leap from the berth. She trotted towards the door, and edged it open. Her breath hitched as she took in the scene.
Everyone was in the med bay; Optimus, Ratchet, Bulkhead, everyone, looking at what seemed like schematics of herself. She swallowed, and frantically looked around for an escape route. Her HUD helped somewhat, by tagging the occupants of the room and marking their distance from where she stood. It was like her very own personal radar. On a whim, she removed her boots, leaving only her leggings, and set them aside; the less noise she made the better. Silently, she padded out of the room, and into the med bay. The 'Bot's backs were turned to her, as were June, Jack and Raf's. Bulkhead's massive frame shielded Bumblebee and Arcee from her view, and the way the group was huddled together, meant that Ratchet wouldn't be able to see her.
The tension was ripe as she walked across the large med bay. It was common practice to associate sneaking away with lots of hiding and ducking around objects, and it felt almost frightening to simply stroll out under the noses of the 'Bots. Thankfully, they were too engrossed with listening to what Ratchet had to say, so they didn't even so much as blink in her direction.
"Augmenting? What on Earth for?"
Miko froze in place, her heart thudding in her chest. She slowly turned her head to look at the others, but they still hadn't taken note of her. Sighing softly, through her nose, she slunk the rest of the way, and soon, she was past the massive doors of the med bay. She proceeded a few more feet, before she broke into a run down the corridor, her heart still beating a mile a minute.
"Remove the nanites? I'm afraid I can't. Not without knowing what side effects could occur."
"I agree," said Optimus, "We do not know for certain if MECH has placed contingencies in the event of the nanites' forced removal."
Jack sighed in uncharacteristic frustration. "So what do we do then?" he said, heatedly, "Go right up to MECH's doorstep and just say 'Hey, our friend is slowly turning insane thanks to your microscopic death engines. Could you please help us?'" Rafael scratched the back of his head as June shot her son a heated glare. Bumblebee, however leaned towards the hacker, and said, /That's a good idea; why don't we? /
Optimus paused, noticing Jack's elevated heart rate: the boy was anxious and stressed. "That is not one of our strategies. However, the nanites are partly cybertronian in nature. It might be possible to-"
A ping sounded from one of the main screens. Ratchet swore as he glanced at the notification, and pushing past Bumblebee and Arcee, he thundered out of the med bay, Optimus in tow. "She's using the Ground Bridge!"
Bulkhead threw his optics towards the direction of the room Miko was held in, and he too uttered a curse when he saw the door was ajar. Not wasting time, he took off after Ratchet, Bumblebee and Arcee not far behind. Jack grunted as he lifted himself off the swivel chair, ice pack still held to his nose, but was pushed back down by June's hand.
"Stay," said the nurse, sternly, before she left Jack's side and sprinted down the stairs, her sweater flying behind her. She dashed down the corridor, and rounded the corner, skidding to a stop, just in time to see the Ground Bridge vortex wink out.
They had been too late.
Miko gasped as she fell to her hands and knees, steely cold raindrops tumbling from the sky, soaking her clothes, and seeping down her neck, her back, and her face, the mud soaking her hands and feet. She heard the Ground Bridge fizzle shut behind her, and she threw her head back, not caring that the freezing rain pooled into her eyes, a relieved and lopsided grin on her face, as she gaze dup at the stormy grey clouds above her, as if appraising a holy diety.
She was free.
Hope you enjoyed that, folks!
Next chapter will feature MECH in all their dickish glory.
-This is Zapwing, signing off.