Yes, yes, I know I should have updated sooner. Whatever, I'm taking three design courses AND applying to several grad schools and fellowships. I have a legitimate excuse. Also, I've had writers block. Anyway, I hope this really long chapter makes up for the wait. Just so you know, I have no real plot in mind: I was planning on writing this episodically. The first seven chapters were to introduce my OC and I don't plan on having all of the following chapters focus on her. In fact, this one isn't intended to focus on her. I don't own anything. Enjoy! Sincerely, madlibs44.
Michelle glared at her laptop, a barely-started report on the screen. Her eyes couldn't focus on the damn device as it swam back and forth across her vision. A small, orange bottle sat mockingly to one side of the laptop, declaring "MAY CAUSE DIZZINESS" in bold print. Standing up had already proven to be a futile gesture. The only reprieve from the situation was that the pain in her ribs had dulled to a slight ache. With a final, frustrated sigh, the young woman slammed the laptop shut and leaned back against the couch. A commotion from the base entrance drew her attention.
A purple witch leapt out of Bulkhead's alt mode with a loud cackle and waved a small, painted stick. A reluctant-looking Jack Skellington climbed off of Arcee. Last, a miniature Iron Man clambered out of Bumblebee, stopping to adjust his oversized helmet for a moment. Michelle started to chuckle but stopped when the action caused her head to swim even faster. With a moan, she finally gave in and laid down on the couch as Jack, dressed as the Pumpkin King himself, made his way up to the loft. Miko laughed as she chased Raf around with her wand, declaring that her magic trumps his technology.
Jack resisted the urge to pick at the makeup on his face as he sat down on the floor and turned on the TV. The channels were chock full of Halloween specials. Unfortunately, most of the decent horror films wouldn't begin playing until later in the night and thus, there were only the classic kid features and B-list horrors showing now. He glanced back at the young woman currently lying face down on the couch.
"Shouldn't you be at some college party by now?" he asked, absently flipping through channels.
"Orders from your mom," came the muffled reply and Jack chose not to question further.
"What in the Allspark is going on here?" Ratchet's annoyed voice came from the entrance to the med bay. The medic stood over the witch and Iron Man where they had collided and landed in a laughing heap on the floor.
As Arcee walked by him, heading into the medbay for a routine checkup, she answered, "Haven't you seen the human chrono-logs? Today is 'Halloween'." Ratchet's optics blinked as he swiftly accessed the information. He opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by an incoming com.
"Ratchet," Optimus Prime's deep baritone sounded throughout the main hanger. The medic in question moved over to the computer and ground bridge consoles. "Smokescreen and I have finished our reconnaissance mission and we require a groundbridge back to base."
With a flick of a switch, the groundbridge swirled to life, allowing the Autobot leader and rookie to stride through. Arcee rolled her optics and stepped into the med bay as Smokescreen went on excitedly about the simple recon. Ratchet followed the femme into to the med bay shortly after pausing for a moment to close the groundbridge and greet Optimus. Arcee eyed the examination table warily before hopping onto it, extending her servos for the preliminary phases of the tune-up. The door to med bay swished close behind Ratchet and the old medic grabbed some equipment off the work bench before stepping over to his least favorite patient. He could already see her inching her way towards the door.
"It will make both our lives easier if you actually sit still this time," he sighed as he began hooking up some sensors to her servos. She twitched slightly at each connection.
The blue femme grumbled slightly and fidgeted. "Is this really necessary, Ratchet? I can assure you that everything is working fine."
"It is my job to keep every Autobot in this base in the best condition possible," Ratchet began his usual spiel. "An under-maintained biomechanism can be just as dangerous as a Decepticon on the battle field."
Arcee laughed, and then frowned when Ratchet lightly smacked her servos as punishment for moving. "You try telling that to Megatron."
"I'm sure his medic would agree with me."
"Knock Out?" Arcee scoffed. "He cares more about his own finish than maintaining Megatron and his troops."
Ratchet just 'harrumphed' and continued working, moving from her servos to her pedes now. The two sat in relative silence as the medic worked, the only sounds being Ratchet's unintelligible mumblings and muffled noises from out in the main bay. Arcee glanced around the med bay idly and noted the presence of an unfinished report displayed on Ratchet's med bay computer. It detailed the improvements in a certain college student's injuries since the medic had last seen her a couple weeks prior. Arcee glanced down to where Ratchet currently had her leg opened up. She immediately looked away. Something about seeing her own insides made the femme uncomfortable.
"So where has Michelle been recently?" she asked absently, not really expecting an answer. "She's missed out on a lot that's happened lately… Bulkhead's injury… Smokescreen… the Star Sabre…"
Ratchet shrugged slightly before moving to work on the back of her cranial unit, a procedure that made Arcee unduly nervous. "She has been busy with course work at the university and physical therapy with her doctor at home."
"Ah," Arcee nodded then winced as she received another smack from the medic. "Is that why you've been so grumpy lately? Missing your human?"
She gave another laugh as Ratchet, flustered and frustrated, spat out, "I am not! And she is not 'my human'. She is Optimus' charge."
"Whatever you say, Ratchet," Arcee rolled her optics. She tried to sit still as the medic fiddled around with connections at the base of her neck. Once again, the med bay fell into silence.
Several torturous minutes later, the doctor was finally satisfied with her check-up and prepared to release the femme. "I noticed that your blaster relays are slightly irregular. Keep that in mind when you're on recon tomorrow. It shouldn't be a problem in a battle but alert me if you have any difficulties in-."
Ratchet dropped his tools and Arcee leapt off the table, blasters at the ready, as a scream tore through the peaceful quiet of the base.
A few moments earlier…
"Hey, who's this?" Smokescreen asked, pointing to the now unconscious college student lying face down on the couch.
Jack glanced up from the Peanuts Halloween special on TV. "Oh, that's Michelle. She hasn't been here in a while so that's why you really haven't met her."
Bulkhead slapped the rookie on the back, "You'll like her. She's Optimus' human charge."
"Woah, really?" the sports car looked down at the human woman with instant, though unfounded, admiration. The rookie moved closer to the sleeping human. Bumblebee beeped a warning to the rookie but it went unheeded. Without a second thought, Smokescreen leaned in close, his face hovering just above the couch, and poked the woman.
The woman spun around and sat up with unrivaled speed, coming face to giant face with Smokescreen. With an unholy screech, the woman scrambled away from the rookie, who was still trying to process what had happened. Her scream was cut short as she fell off the couch and her head slammed into the nearby coffee table, effectively knocking her out-cold.
Smokescreen remained frozen in position, his digit still poised as if poking. After several moments of stunned silence, he sputtered, "W-what?..."
The poor mech barely had enough time to stumble backwards as Ratchet stormed into the main bay.
"What in the Pit did you do?!"
"I don't know!"
Ratchet turned first to Bulkhead for an explanation but quickly changed his mind and turned towards Jack instead. "What did he do?!"
Jack looked supremely uncomfortable under the medic's glare, even though he knew it was not meant for him. "He startled her."
Ratchet's glare turned back to Smokescreen. Arcee who had come in behind Ratchet, though far enough behind to avoid collateral damage, started to wonder if the medic was actually going to inspect the unconscious woman lying on the floor. She gave Jack a pointed look and he responded by quietly calling his mother.
"My patient is still recovering from injuries and you just added a concussion to that list!" The older mech smacked the rookie upside the cranial unit to emphasize his point.
Smokescreen, for all his self-confidence, looked ready to curl up and die. "I didn't know! How was I supposed to know? The other humans don't spaz out like that!"
Bumblebee raised his servo. Bulkhead chuckled quietly, "Actually, Bee tried to warn you."
The Autobot team (minus Optimus) looked down at Jack Darby. The teenager pointed to the cell phone in his hand. Ratchet nodded and tapped into the call, moving away so as to speak more privately with the nurse on the other end of the line.
"I can't believe I'm stuck on curbside duty all night!" Smokescreen moaned as Jack and Miko dumped candy from their full sacks into the mech's backseat. He was currently parked in some back alley, holding the kids' candy while they trick-or-treated. The group, as per Raf's research, was collecting their sweets in the top trick-or-treating city in the nation: San Francisco (Zillow . com rating). Unfortunately, the younger boy had been unable to accompany them on their excursion due to a stringent curfew. The race car sat low on his tires in boredom.
Jack looked around nervously, worried that someone might hear the talking car. But Miko just laughed and leaned on Smokescreen's driver side door. "It's your own fault, Screen. Everyone else on Team Prime knows that Michelle is the jumpiest person on the planet."
Teasingly, the girl poked Smokescreen's side view mirror, which twitched away in response.
"Time to move on to the next neighborhood?" Jack suggested. They had already hit three different neighborhoods so far and were making great time.
"Yeah, sure," Smokescreen responded unenthusiastically. He turned on his headlights and popped on the doors. "How long do you humans usually do this?"
"Aren't you having fun, Screen?" Miko fake pouted as she climbed into the passenger side. But then she smiled encouragingly at the dashboard console and offered, "I would totally share some of my candy with you if you could actually eat it!"
When the Autobot did not respond, Jack and Miko glanced at each other in confusion. Jack placed a hand lightly on the steering wheel in front of him. "Smokescreen?..."
"Pretty bitchin' ride you got here, kid."
Jack nearly jumped out of his skin upon hearing and seeing the man standing just outside the car door. The man seemed to be in his early forties; his friends in their late twenties. Miko looked out at them defiantly as they circled the race car like vultures. The ring leader remained by the driver side window, staring Jack down.
"Thanks," Jack replied cautiously. He didn't dare take his eyes off the man. "I'm just borrowing it for tonight, though."
The man laughed and suddenly pulled open the driver's door. "That's great! Out for a drive in mommy and daddy's fancy car? You won't mind if we take it for a test drive."
"Hey, look at all the candy they have in the back!"
Jack tried to take advantage of the man's quick glance towards one of his partners and pull the door closed. But the man was faster and stronger, holding the door open and pulling the teenage boy out of the car. With seemingly no effort, he threw Jack into the arms of one of the other men.
"Jack!" Miko screamed. The car door then slammed shut with such speed and force that it nearly took the man's hand off. The windows quickly rolled up and the doors locked.
The man and his friends looked stunned for several moments. But then one guy standing on the passenger side pulled out a gun and pointed it at the young girl inside the car. "Get out!"
For once, Miko was speechless, simply sitting frozen in her seat. Seconds crawled by and the two humans stared at each other. Finally, the man impatiently fired a warning shot at the car door.
Without even leaving a dent, the tiny bullet pinged off Smokescreen's metal armor and whizzed by the man's head before embedding itself in the brick wall behind him.
The leader scowled as his friend screeched and ran out of the alley, dropping his gun in the process. He turned to glare at the car before leveling his own gun at Jack, who was being restrained by two other goons. Jack, who had been struggling, froze and paled upon sight of the weapon. "I don't know what's going on here, but surrender the car and I'll let the kid go unharmed."
Smokescreen would have sneered had he been in bipedal mode. His headlights blinked slightly as he spoke. "I have a better idea: let the kid go and I won't squash you."
The leader tilted his head in confusion and looked at the car quizzically. It took several moments for him to process the information that his ears had just relayed to him. The car had just talked? He subconsciously lowered his arm (and the gun) as his brain tried to work out how the car had spoken and what the car had meant by 'squash'.
The Autobot swiftly took advantage of the man's distraction and transformed. During the transformation process, he smoothly swiped away the men standing by the passenger side door before depositing Miko behind him. He stood up straight, towering over the grown men by at least twenty feet. Two of them ran off with a screech, following after their other partner. The leader and one of the men holding Jack remained, though the leader had dropped his gun and the goon had let go of Jack's arm and backed against the wall.
Smokescreen bent down, his arms bent outwards so as to make himself seem larger and more intimidating. He glared at two of the three humans before him. "Boo!"
The last goon screamed and ran off, tripping over a garbage can in his attempt to escape. The leader, to his credit, didn't run but stumbled over some trash in an attempt to back away, falling into the wall. Jack took the chance to run and stand with Miko behind the rookie. The man cowered into the brick wall, visibly shaking.
"Please, don't hurt me!" he cried, holding up his arms before him as a meager defense. Jack finally noticed a wedding band upon the man's left hand and the ragged state of his clothes.
The Autobot race car brought his face close to the man's and angrily asked, "Why shouldn't I?"
"I-I have a family!" the man stuttered, on the verge of tears now. Smokescreen raised an optic ridge. "My wife is in the hospital being treated for breast cancer! I can't afford the medical bills on my wages so I have to make up the extra money by any means necessary!"
Smokescreen looked puzzled by the man's explanation. Jack stepped forward, holding up a hand to the Bot when the mech tried to stop him. "Grand theft auto is not the best way to make extra cash."
The man was crying now, holding his head in his hands. "I don't have the education to get a better paying job and with this economy, it's hard to find work. So I make do by collecting cars and car parts for the boss to sell."
"You mean stealing," Miko pointed out as she peaked out from behind Smokescreen's leg.
Jack looked down at the man. Despite his anger at the man, he felt a small ping of pity for him. He could hear Smokescreen's systems revving agitatedly behind him. "You won't be helping your wife if you end up in jail. What's your name?"
"Richard Blake," the man sighed. He wrung his hands anxiously, glancing up at the large robot before him nervously every few moments. "I don't know where else to turn. I couldn't even take my babies out trick-or-treating tonight because I have a bill due in two days…"
Jack looked thoughtful for a moment before taking out his cellphone and quickly dialing a number. Richard jumped up in panic but stopped short when a large metal hand blocked his path. Smokescreen shook his head at the man. With his other servo, the mech rummaged around inside one of his interior compartments before pulling out a sack full of candy. He plopped it at the man's feet.
"Hey, that's our can-," Miko shut her mouth when Smokescreen narrowed his optics at her. She 'hmphed' and crossed her arms. "It's not like I was going to object or anything."
Richard looked up at Smokescreen with newfound hope, despite the seeming insignificance of the act. He mouthed a quiet 'thank you' before he scooped up the bag. He turned to Jack as the boy flipped his phone shut with a knowing smile.
"Our friend, William Fowler, his willing to help you with your wife's medical bills," Jack began. Richard instantly lit up with disbelief and hope. "But he needs something in return."
The man's face fell as quickly as it had lifted. It almost seemed as if 10 years had been tacked on. But Jack just gave a grim smile.
"He needs you to promise not to talk about him." The teenager pointed to Smokescreen, who sheepishly rubbed the back of his cranial unit with a servo. "He also needs you to promise not to participate in these… activities anymore, do some community service, and consider revealing the names of those in charge of the operations."
Richard nodded enthusiastically, relieved that that was all. He had expecting another shady deal considering the strangeness of the encounter. He graciously clasped Jack's hand in his own. "Of course! You don't know how much this means to me!"
Miko looked suspiciously at Jack's strained smile, though the older man didn't notice. The boy simply nodded and continued, "Fowler has access to your information and he said he will be contacting you tomorrow morning."
"Thank you so much!" Richard shook Jack's hand vigorously before turning and almost skipping away.
The two humans and Autobot watched the man disappear around the corner. Smokescreen let out a sigh. "Can we go back to base now?"
"Yeah, sure, Screen," Miko laughed, patting his leg. "I think we've all had enough excitement for one night."
As Smokescreen transformed, Miko shot another glance over at Jack. The raven-haired boy was staring off towards where the man had disappeared, an almost sad look on his face. But it was mixed with something else… anger.
"So why were you willing to help that guy so much, Jack?" she asked as they climbed into Smokescreen's alt mode again.
Jack looked reluctant to answer but slowly responded, "My dad left me and my mom when I was young. I don't want his kids to suffer the same fate."
Smokescreen shifted into drive and pulled out of the alley and onto the street. Miko narrowed her eyes at the boy-almost man in the driver's seat.
"Ok... but you could've just given him some speech about taking care of his kids," she began slowly. She noticed he seemed to be even tenser now than during the attempted mugging. "Why did you go out of your way to ask Fowler for help?"
Jack seemed to fight with himself for several moments. Miko sat still and uncharacteristically patient. The teenage boy opened and closed his mouth several times. Finally, he took a deep breath and, looking straight forward out the windshield, answered.
"Because he's my father."
And there you go. Happy? Let me know. If I get some good responses I'll consider delving into this further *hint hint*. Until next time!