Author's Notes: Hello precious readers!
Some notes about this fic: It is my first ever published fanfiction! So if you'd be so kind as to critique, point out typos, offer help or advice, etc etc, it'd be very much appreciated. I'm doing this for fun in my spare time, but hopefully I'll be able to update often.
This fic is set in a modified post DOTM setting. That being said, expect spoilers for the trilogy to come up now and again.
The Guardian protocols that are heavily featured in this fanfic were conceived by Khalthar, who has been very patient with me as I bumble around with the pm system and who has offered pointers and help for this fic along the way. He's graciously given me permission to use the Guardian protocols, so go check out his works! Specifically, 'Alone Nevermore,' www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/s/7741834/1/Alone_Nevermore where I first discovered him and his idea. Go give him some love!
This fic is rated T, mostly for language and some violence.
And, lastly, the infamous disclaimer: I own nothing of the Transformer's universe. I can only claim Danny and Bonebite as beings of my own creation.
Temperature: 46.3º F/7.94º C. Local time: 05:34. The sky, overcast. Lighting, minimal.
He was going to rust if he stayed out here much longer.
The rain from the night before left a sheen of moisture on everything exposed; the pavement reflected the dying streetlamps, puddles and tiny streams of water dotted the sidewalk, and cold droplets covered his black chassis like dew in a spider's web. The organics, the... humans, as they called themselves, hadn't seem much concerned about the extra moisture. They simply produced little devices that expanded over their heads to shield themselves from it, or pulled their coverings closer, and moved hastily. Apparently water didn't have much of a damaging effect on them, unlike his kind.
Bonebite huffed out of his vents in mild annoyance, startling a nearby dog who'd been rooting around in the waste receptacles that humans seemed to have everywhere. He didn't have anywhere to go. As a former Decepticon, it was highly unlikely the Autobots were going to welcome him with open arms, especially after what had happened in Chicago with Sentinel Prime. And as a traitor to the Decepticons themselves, well, he was better off out here on his own.
The anger came easily, and frustration along with it; it was still second nature to rage and roil, even after denouncing Megatron and the Decepticon cause. There weren't many places to park that weren't 'owned' by some human or other, and he didn't want to borrow trouble. But it meant that he had to stay out here in the public parking lot in the middle of this dank, dark city, sulking like a chastised sparkling as he waited for... something.
Something was going to happen. It always did. If it wasn't a surprise call to Egypt or a mass comm call proclaiming that the AllSpark had been found, it was that Optimus Prime had been resurrected or that Cybertron had appeared over Earth. And, most commonly for him, it was other Decepticons coming to take out a traitor. The numerous encounters had always been a fight for his life, and so far he'd been strong enough to best all who came after him. He'd offlined many Cybertronians while within the Decepticon faction. Leaving them hadn't changed his abilities or skills, a fact which his former comrades seemed to have forgotten.
If there was one thing Bonebite knew about his current situation, it was that it wasn't immediately threatening his life, and that was more than he could say about many cycles in the past. And yet, he was bored to the Pit and back. All he did these days was hide and wait and hide some more, occasionally catching a few breems of recharge here and there. His energon was running low, but short of raiding the NEST base there really wasn't a way to get more.
And so, he waited.
It was going to be another chilly, wet day, and all the more miserable until the sun could come out and dry up Danny's clothing. Running a hand through short, damp black hair, Danny was at least looking on the bright side of things while shuffling into a public parking lot. It was the closest thing to a shower to be had in a long time, and better, it was free.
Still, it did mean stiff joints and chilled muscles, both of which made moving around a lot difficult until warmed again. Given that Danny was in a particularly sketchy part of town, having spent the night under a tiny balcony nearby and barely shielded from the rain, the morning was starting out less than optimal. Regardless, the young vagrant was going to have to wait to dry out before moving again.
Letting out a sigh of relief, Danny dropped the bag and sank to the ground against the brick side of a building. Not, perhaps, the best resting place, but nobody could kick the vagrant out of here. At least not for another few hours while the sun finally started rising.
Temperature: 50º F/10º C. Local time: 08:34. The sky, light overcast. Lighting, increasing.
Joors had gone by with absolutely nothing of interest happening, at all, save for a group of humans coming into the parking lot to...what was it... 'Smoke'.
As it turned out, waiting was just as boring this orn as it had been for many orns in the past. Bonebite finally decided that he'd have to move to a secluded place and transform, if only to get the water off so he wouldn't rust , when a commotion at the edge of the parking lot caught his attention. The smoking humans, five, or, six, there was one on the ground, were fighting. Fighting each other? That'd be fun. But... no. Five against the smallest human, flailing their limbs and extremities at it.
He quickly ran over the last couple breems of his sensors' memory to figure out what caused it. The smallest human, a scrawny creature that seemed to be just shy of adulthood, had been minding it's own business in the corner. The many baggy, tattered coverings and hunched posture had caused him to disregard the human the moment it had entered the parking lot to sit down against the wall, and he cursed himself for his inattentiveness. The five attackers, the smokers, had wandered into the parking lot only half a breem ago, and he'd tracked them at least. One of them had pointed the scrawny human out to the others and they'd crowded close. The scrawny one had risen to its feet at their approach, obviously wary. The larger humans had promptly grabbed at Scrawny, trying to take something from its grip. A quick internet search told him it was a 'Sea Bag.' Scrawny had had the gall to throw a punch at the larger human's face, and its comrades came to its aid and began physically assaulting the smaller organic.
Which brought them to the current situation of Scrawny splayed across the damp ground, coughing up some red gunk... blood, he believed it was called... and weakly trying to push itself back up into a sitting position. The five assailants had taken the bag and dumped it out on the ground, snatching up a few items before fleeing with those odd vocalizations Bonebite had learned were called 'laughter.' And yet, he couldn't see much that was humorous about the situation. While he'd been a Decepticon, that didn't mean he enjoyed the pain of others when they'd done nothing to warrant such hostility, and especially not against such dishonorable odds.
It was partly thoughts like that that had caused him to leave the Decepticons in the first place.
Scrawny slowly gathered up the fallen items- what looked like a 'pocketknife,' some sort of electronic rectangle with wires sticking out of one end, several 'pens' and 'pencils,' a... an odd book that seemed to be unlined, and a roll of silvery stuff that his sensors told him would be sticky to touch. Then Scrawny sat back against the wall with the bag tucked close against its chest, wiping away some of that blood stuff from its mouth. The reaction seemed odd to him; was Scrawny used to such treatment? He'd seen only one other mugging while in this parking lot, and the victim, a female, had cried out shrilly until help and come, and even after she was safe had whined and made herself a nuisance. Scrawny's reactions were an odd contrast.
Further scans revealed that his first guess as to Scrawny's age had been more or less correct. The little creature was still just a sparkling, albeit one close to adulthood. Looked bulky under all those coverings, but his scan showed otherwise. Malnourished, possibly stunted in growth it was so small, and it made it difficult for Bonebite to tell whether or not Scrawny was female or male simply by looking. The punch Scrawny had thrown hadn't had much strength behind it, another testament to the lack of proper care. Shaggy, short dark hair that spiked up a bit in the back(this seemed natural, as far as Bonebite could tell), and oddly light eyes. Blue, like an Autobot. Bonebite clicked to himself thoughtfully. How odd. Didn't humans try to hold onto their offspring until at least the second decade? How strange to find one outside and alone.
And... how concerning. His spark lurched as he reviewed the fight again, anger coursing through him like red hot metal before he forced his processes to slow. Those humans had harmed a sparkling, had possibly damaged it, despite the sparkling being of their own kind. Outnumbered and outmatched, Scrawny had put up a fight even though it'd been obviously futile. Bonebite could respect that, foolish though it was. Then he had to hold in a laugh; a Decepticon like himself, ex or not, respecting an organic. Ha!
But there was something undeniably interesting about this organic in particular. Something that drew his attention towards it and made him focus more processes than normal on it. He was concerned about the damage Scrawny had received in the fight, and wondered if there was anything he might be able to do to help.
The thought struck him like a shot from a cosmic rust gun. He wanted to help an organic? Slag, he should've deleted those protocols after all...
Suddenly, Scrawny looked right at him, blinking wearily as it looked him over.
Ah, right. His alt form was large and was the only vehicle in the entire parking lot at the moment. No wonder it'd finally caught the human's eye. Scrawny watched him for a few seconds before getting up and walking. Not towards him, but out along the sidewalk and down the street. Bonebite waited an astrosecond or two before turning on his engines and following after.
He could question his motives later.
Danny was becoming paranoid. There were no two ways about it. The classic symptoms that consisted of being constantly watched and growing anxiety plagued her, and seeing that damned truck every few minutes just made her feel twitchier.
She knew it was the same truck because it had intricate white celtic knotwork painted on the front, right behind the lights and over the wheel wells, that made it instantly recognizable. She'd seen it that morning in the parking lot after those assholes kicked the shit out of her, and the weird feeling of being watched starting around then. It'd been interesting to see a car that big and shiny in a parking lot in the bad part of town. It was a black Ford F250, which wasn't exactly a pushover model. The custom work on it? She'd been surprised it hadn't been stolen yet, quite frankly.
Danny'd left the parking lot and rubbed at her busted lip. Oh, yeah, that was going to smart for a while. It'd been when she was turning a corner that the truck had gotten her attention again. It was driving up the street behind her, slowly despite the lack of traffic. The front windshield was heavily tinted and she couldn't see who was driving, and this unnerved her more than she expected it to. Shrugging it off and trying to ignore the itching between her shoulders under the feeling of being observed, she scampered across the intersection and made for the cafe at the end of the block.
It was a small place, some sort of Frenchy type of theme that she'd never really been able to understand. It was clean, though, and the food was always good. Seats outside and inside for variety, with a red cloth awning to cover the exposed seats from most of the elements. A waist-high fence separated the outdoor seating from the sidewalk, wrapping around the corner of the building to encompass boths sides of the block. It was broken in only two places, one for an emergency exit route, the other for the proper entrance that was almost always manned by one employee in particular at this time of day.
"Danny girl! Where you been hidin' all week?" Danny couldn't stop the grin that crossed her face when the familiar, friendly voiced called out to her. A tall young man with light hair and a cheery smile waved her over from his place at the host station on the sidewalk. A few patrons sitting in the outside tables nearby glanced her way before averting their gaze. Invisible homeless. Danny ignored it when a few of them coughed and tried to discreetly cover their noses. Not an odorless problem, apparently, although she was fairly certain that at least some of those reactions were overly dramatic. Wasn't like she could really do much about it at the moment, anyway.
"Hey, Nathan." Her smile turned to a full-fledged grin as she dropped her sack at her feet to rest her arms, standing slightly to the side of the podium so customers could still approach and otherwise making it obvious that she wasn't the head of a line. At least he didn't seem to notice, or mind, the smell. "How've you been?"
"Better'n you, by the looks of it. What happened to your face?"
"This?" Her tongue darted out to lick her busted lip, and she was aware that her cheek'd been scraped against the concrete of the parking lot. "I was introduced to a fist and we didn't get along."
"No shit. Need anything beyond the usual?"
"I can't today. The jerkwads took my money." What little there had been. Nathan gave her a sympathetic, slightly worried look. He quickly put on a cheerful mask when a pair of customers approached, greeting them with charm before moving to get them seated. Danny watched his progress through the restaurant as he seated the patrons indoors, tossed their responsibility over to a proper waitress, and returned. He seemed to have made up his mind about something by the time he'd come back.
"Listen, I hate to see you out here like this. I'll get you something. Won't be much, I'm afraid, but it'll be free. 'Kay?" He smiled and patted her shoulder comfortingly before hurrying inside to make good on his deal. Not without one last check for more incoming patrons; he could only get away with so much before the manager took his head and mounted it on the cafe's mantle.
Best friends since childhood, Nathan and Danny had always stuck their necks out for each other, whether it be against bullies three times their size or managers who wouldn't like an employee leaving his station to spot a bum a meal. It was good to have friends in high places, or at least places that served food.
Danny leaned against the podium that served as the host station, idly reading the menu for lack of anything better to do until the feeling of being watched returned. She jerked around suddenly, and nearly recoiled at the sight of the black truck, parked along the street right behind her. There was no one inside it at the moment, she could tell, now that she was close enough to look past the tinting. Her curiosity got the better of her and she walked over to peek inside.
The interior looked comfortable from what little she could see. Leather? And that symbol on the steering wheel was not a Ford one. Custom, maybe, like the paint? Kinda cool to look at, actually. Some sort of pointy, jagged face from the looks of it. She must've been staring for a while because someone tapped her shoulder, causing her to jump a mile.
"Easy, Danny. Just me. Here." Nathan was back and handed her a brown paper bag, putting his hand on her shoulder again. "Hey, you gonna be alright?" He was frowning now, concerned, not seeming to pay much attention to the goddamn car behind her. She realized the look on his face probably had a lot to do with her skittishness right now, and plastered on a big, fake smile for her friend.
"Yeah. Fine. Thank you." The young woman was edgy, her voice low and crisp. He caught her hand as she tried to slip off, his tone chiding.
"Seriously. If something happens, if you run into trouble..."
"-Give you a ring. I got it." She relaxed a little, and he followed suit. "Thanks, Nathan." Her friend didn't seem entirely convinced, but he still shot her one last smile before his manager, a flabby man with a mustache and a seriously bad taste in ties, suddenly came outside, asking just what the hell was going on here, anyway, and made a beeline straight for her. With a wave and a laugh, Danny skittered away, easily outpacing the man as she went to find a good place to enjoy her meal.
The car followed.
Temperature: 60.5º F/15.8º C. Local time: 14:12. The sky, cloudy. Lighting, moderate.
For such a tiny human, Scrawny seemed to attract trouble wherever it went. First had been the incident a few joors ago where he'd first spotted it getting attacked by other humans. Next had been the angry human coming out of the 'restaurant'- the internet was invaluable, now that he was making an attempt to understand the humans- who the tiny human had laughed at and fled from. Then there'd been an altercation between it and a human who rode around in what looked like Barricade's alt form- 'police.' Scrawny'd spent too much time sitting on the steps of a multi-dwelling place as it consumed its... sandwich? What odd names. After that, it'd moved to the more deserted parts of the industrial district. Each and every interaction between Scrawny and another hostile human made his energon boil a little and made him want to reach into his subspace, pull out his blade, and rend the little human's foes... slowly.
Oh. Oh frag it all to the Pit. His Guardian protocols had activated. Really had activated, and his Charge was a human. Slag, slag, slag, what a mess to stumble into. He should've been much more careful about this, should've dealt with the protocols sooner.
Scrawny seemed to have picked up on the fact that he was following it, if its constant, irritated looks his way meant anything. So he'd backed up a bit and mostly tracked the small human via sensors. The closed down industrial district was deserted save for his Charge, so it wasn't hard to follow the human by temperature variations alone. Now that he had, it seemed much less stressed and stopped looking behind for him as often. The thought that his Charge was now a little more at ease made Bonebite relax, and the fact that he was relaxing over an organic's well-being was irritating him to no end.
However, things couldn't continue in this fashion. While Bonebite was usually a mech of patience and observation, preferring to gather information before ambushing to deal punishing blows, he knew that he'd have to make proper contact with Scrawny soon. He was still coming to grips with the fact that he'd accidentally taken her as a Charge, but since he had, he'd better make the best of it. And it'd be too much of a hassle to just follow Scrawny wherever it went, not to mention demeaning. He'd rather just lock the little organic up in the cab of his alt form to make life simple for everyone involved. But the protocols rebelled vehemently against that; it'd stress out Scrawny, and he had to make sure Scrawny was safe and content. It was his job now.
That was not to say he liked this. At all. Bonebite should've done what every Decepticon did and deleted all the protocols early on; a bit of emotional weakness had stayed his hand upon first joining the destructive faction, and then he'd just been too complacent to bother deleting them once Cybertron and most of its people had fallen. And now they were activated... on a human, no less! There'd be no getting rid of them until Scrawny was dead. And now, of course, because Primus had a sick sense of humor, he couldn't let that happen. The mere thought of harm to his new Charge made his spark jerk in his frame. And his energon simply froze in his lines when he even considered doing the deed himself.
Bonebite had been so deep in thought as he processed information and tried to reach a course of action that he hadn't realized he'd rounded the corner too close behind Scrawny and was spotted by the tiny human. He braked suddenly, waiting to see what it'd do now that he'd been discovered here on an empty street. Too late to hide that he'd been quite obviously following it. Scrawny was staring at him, then raised one hand to it's face, digits pointing to both of its optics, before slowly turning the hand to point the index finger at him. The meaning was clear: 'I'm watching you.'
And then Scrawny turned and took off at a jog, raising its third finger over its shoulder without so much as looking back. He had to pause and do another internet search to ascertain the meaning. Then he let out a huff of mild amusement through his vents. Such gall for such a tiny creature.
That horrible thing was still following her? It was fucking possessed! First in the parking lot where she'd lost all her money, then outside of Nathan's workplace where she'd gotten chased out by the manager, then nearby the stoop and the problem with the cop and his 'loitering' bullshit, and finally again just a few blocks ago. It just kept appearing around her, and it seemed to be cursed because whenever it did, problems arose. There was no driver, that much she'd been able to make out for certain, and that had her adding points to the 'demon car' theory. Danny shook her head, wondering if she was just having an elaborate hallucination. She had hit her head pretty hard against pavement that morning.
"Keep it together, Danny." She muttered to herself, approaching a payphone. This counted as trouble, right? Getting followed by a big creepy car was totally trouble, so she had a phone call to make. Stickers and graffiti decorated it like an elaborate mural, stylized irises overlapping the rim to make a frame for the artwork. One side had once held a poster to some film or other, and though the title had long since been torn off, the intense gaze of the poster boy remained. That got a morbid chuckle out of her as she fished around in her many pockets for the quarter, two dimes, and the pair of nickels that she knew were in there. Figures she'd think she was being watched and then run into eyes everywhere. The coins went into the phone, buttons were pressed, a few rings went by and Danny was finally checking in with her friend.
"Nathaniel Zukerman, who's calling please?"
"Nathan... hey, uh, it's Danny." Okay, she hadn't entirely thought this out. How was she supposed to say this? 'I think a car is following me and it might be possessed or on remote controls because I can't see a driver, what should I do?' Yeah, no. "I think I'm being followed."
"I... What?" Nathan sounded incredulous, but bounced back right away. "By who? Can you get a look at his face? Or- or her face, or whatever?"
"No." She replied, truthfully enough. "It's more of a... it's kind of... it's a car." 'Real smooth, Dan.'
"Okay. How many people in the car? Can you tell-?"
"No, no." She interrupted him, resisting the urge to take another look around the area for it. "Just a car. No one inside it." The silence on the other end that followed this bit of information had her biting her lip.
"...Okay." A slow exhale, static partly clouding the speaker of the payphone. "Well, where are you now?"
She opened her mouth to reply before turning sharply as the black vehicle rolled to a stop at the nearby T-Intersection, not fifty yards behind her. Nobody else was around, nothing else stirring, no footsteps or car alarms or crows calling, not even a breeze. Just the steady, faint rumble of the damned cars engine. Creepiest fucking thing in the world. It was definitely watching her. Danny slapped sapience on the normally inanimate object with ease, more concerned with survival than her mental health. She could fix that later.
"What? Oh, I, uh, I'm at..." The car began rolling forward, its headlights flicking on once. Greeting or threat? Did it even mean anything at all? The car picked up its pace as it drove through the intersection, already within twenty meters of her. "I gotta go." And she dropped the phone and sprinted for her life, leaving the worried voice of Nathan far behind.
The engine revved behind her and she grabbed the pole of a bus sign, using it to assist her through a sudden, sharp ninety degree turn into an alley, although she skidded a little upon getting her footing and got a rock stuck in her left shoe. The sharp stab of pain made her hiss, but she ignored it as best she could and kept running, dodging between broken debris and dumpsters. The car, going too fast to make the turn properly, passed the entrance of the alley and was forced to back up to manage the maneuver. It bought her some precious time to dart out the other end of the alley and search for cover.
The only building that wasn't boarded up or partially collapsed was what looked like a huge old warehouse. Windows were broken in and the metal that helped make up the building was rusted, and the thing was positively covered in spray paint and old worn posters like everything else around here, but it'd have to do for now, especially since the rock was making it aggravating to move at any sort of speed.
Danny sprinted into the cool shade of the building, looking around for anything to hide in, behind, under... and there was nothing. Nothing but the odd bit of rebar or a piece of a broken wooden box; a few sheets of plastic here and there, and the remains of the shattered windows littering the ground near the walls; that was it. The warehouse was empty and open-floored. Not even another room to sneak into. But the main doorway was not in line with the alley, and she was far enough into the building that she figured she wouldn't be immediately spotted. Rock first, better hiding spot later.
Quickly hopping up and down on one foot, she finally managed to pull her oversized left boot off and sighed in relief, shaking out the rock. It came out, one jagged edge tinged red, and she glanced down at her foot. Apparently it'd been sharp enough to give her a nice cut along the arch which was now oozing blood through the ratty old socks. Fan-fuckin'-tastic. It was probably going to get infected, too, unless she could swipe some alcohol somewhere.
A whirr-click caught her attention, and she looked to the huge doorway as a shadow fell across what had been lit of the room.
The fucking truck. It was the fucking truck straight from hell, and it was blocking her in.