Part 20 - Home Comforts 2

Jacinta grinned widely at Wavefront.

"Are there any more like you at home, sweetspark?"

"Four!" the sparkling piped up brightly. Poppy, unable to decide whether to giggle, wince or curl up in embarrassment, slapped her hand against her forehead and glowered at the Australian Consul.

"Behave, please. He's only a child."

Jacinta faked innocence. "What? I was only wondering if one of the family would like to come visit. Wide open skies, warm weather - it would be fun."

xxx

It was Friday, and the visitors had been at Iacon House for a week. A very busy week, but a week that had also been a lot of fun. Poppy had hardly seen 'Beat: he and Blue had spent most of the time escorting Prowl around the country - literally. They'd all engaged what 'Beat had called holodrivers - holograms that made it look as though they had human drivers - since neither Poppy nor Phil had the time to accompany them and Aaron couldn't go without one of them, and driven up to Scotland, then diverted over to Wales on the way back. Apparently Prowl had been intent on learning to handle the different terrains that he might encounter on earth, and had insisted on exploring them in both modes. Which his companions had no problem with, although 'Beat had been muttering 'never again' on their return. From what Poppy could gather, slipping and sliding down a fair number of yards on their climb up Ben Nevis had put him off mountains for life - or at least for a couple of centuries.

But Prowl declared himself pleased with the experience, so that was OK. Privately, Poppy was startled that he hadn't complained about the horribly muddy and scratched state he'd come back in, compared to the gorgeous pristine state in which he'd left, new alt mode purring almost silently, sun gleaming on his black-with-white-accents sleek, sensuous curves - but a shower, refuel and recharge later and you'd never known he'd been gone. Obviously he was one of those incredibly pragmatic characters she'd always admired...

Starstream and Wavefront, on the other hand, had been happy to stay within their specified bounds. Starstream split his time between intense conversations with Ramp and 'Spin and accidentally terrorising the troops on Salisbury Plain (until they got used to his appearance, anyway), while Wavefront had barely moved from Poppy's side. Which was gratifying, but became awkward when members from the newly instigated UK Extra-Terrestrial Monitoring Commission paid a surprise visit.

It was almost impossible to get the sparkling to shut up...

Fortunately, the officials had found his attention and curiosity flattering, and had even been a little more forthcoming than might otherwise have been the case - Poppy was annoyed to discover that plans were afoot to change the current UK-European agreement on the sharing of alien technology in favour of a couple of countries the current government wanted to 'sweeten' for political and financial reasons. Without a distinct hint being let slip in conversation with Wavefront, she wouldn't have known anything about it until negotiations were well underway. As it was, she could now take the matter up officially.

And today it was time for the usual Consul meeting...

xxx

Starstream sat behind his hatchling, both clawed servos on small shoulder struts, remaining quiet while the Consuls admired and greeted Wavefront. The sparkling was perfectly happy with the attention, smiling and waving as each woman introduced herself. He even asked relevant questions as each Consul stated their location.

Poppy wondered briefly if Starstream, or Ratchet or the Prime, had tutored him - then mentally shook her head. It all seemed very spontaneous. And although she remembered they could learn by simply downloading the information directly into their processors, she was pretty sure it wasn't possible to download attitude or temperament in the same way. Quite simply, Wavefront was naturally curious, friendly and vocal, and everyone responded to him as though he were a cute human child.

Well, obviously not everyone, but near as damn it.

He was currently speaking - in Japanese - to Kiku, who was quite blatantly squeeing (to use a very apt colloquialism popular a few years back) silently at him. Cable slipped out of the breast pocket of Poppy's shirt, climbed to her shoulder and quietly translated for her.

"He's expressing his enjoyment of old monster movies: Livewire introduced him to them a few nights ago after you had gone to bed..."

Poppy made a determined effort to stop thinking of him as a human child who 1) should have been in bed by then and 2) wasn't old enough to watch that sort of thing.

"He likes Mothra, because it's a bit like an organic Seeker. Kiku is agreeing with him."

Wavefront giggled and would have continued, but Poppy laid a hand on his arm.

"Ness, sweetspark, it's time for me to have a word now."

"Oh. I'm sorry, Poppy. It's just so interesting."

"I know, and it's all right. You can stay and listen if you like. We aren't going to be very long." If only because of the hour in everyone's time-zones: it was almost three a.m. in Kyoto and four in the morning in Melbourne, not ideal times for a conference. And the introductions to the two Seekers had already taken up most of their allotted time. But Poppy was determined to advise her counterparts of the recent accidental disclosure of her government's less than transparent dealings with Iacon House, and to warn them to be aware that it might also be happening in their own countries.

The mood sobered immediately - none of the women were under any illusions as to what their own governments might do to gain technological supremacy. Ramp had already reported back to Diego Garcia and informed them all that the Prime would be holding a meeting with his own officers first, then shortly afterward with the global heads of state. They'd be advised of the results and any action they would need to take as soon as possible.

Poppy nodded, wondering if this had anything to do with Sally's supposed 'espionage'. She'd contact Sanders as soon as she could to let him know about developments.

Jacinta lingered as everyone said their farewells, waiting for a private word with Poppy once the Seekers had left the rec room.

"I was serious, you know. About him having a brother, I mean. It would be fantastic to have a Seeker here. We've got an awful lot of territory and while Valiant is great, being able to get around by air would be better. The craft our friends have provided is good as far as it goes, but I still have to drive to and from it and it still needs a pilot, just in case of emergencies."

Poppy nodded understandingly. "There are three other Seekers, but I think Starwind is already taken. He sticks to the twins like glue. I can see them becoming a proper operational unit in a few years time: he's already good with a variety of weapons. But Cloudrunner and Windchaser are still free. Of the two Cloudrunner is very shy, but Windchaser is a lot more outgoing. He's also the youngest - the least developed of them. But I'll certainly advise the Prime of your interest. Of course, ultimately it comes down to what they themselves want. We can't dictate that. And I think Starstream might want a say in it too!"

"Yes, of course. But if you could make sure my interest is recorded... I'll keep my fingers crossed."

Chuckling, Poppy nodded and closed the connection. Ramp transformed and sat on the edge of the console, legs dangling as he eyed her narrowly.

"The Prime won't allow any of his people to be used, you know."

"Yes, I'm fully aware of that, and I wouldn't dream of taking advantage. But if they like the idea and if Starstream and Prime approve and if there are no problems with it, it would be fantastic to partner flyers. It's fun enough in Highdive - I can only imagine how wonderful it would be in a jet. Or whatever else they end up as."

Ramp nodded sombrely. "Wavefront is keen, and he has a certain amount of sway over his siblings. You will all need to be careful not to be too enthusiastic or persuasive, at least while they are still developing."

"Thanks. I'll remember. And I'll make sure the others know too. We've no intention of jeopardising our relationship with your people..."

xxx

Abigail was in the secondary part of the cooking space around the corner from the main section, quietly finishing off a last few chores and getting ready for the morning, when Wavefront entered the kitchen and joined Phil at the main table. She paused in her work, unnoticed as the Seeker hunkered down to be at the same height as the lieutenant and excitedly began to tell him all about the meeting. Phil nodded as he drank his last coffee of the day, smiling at the little Seeker's enthusiasm. Abigail held herself still and silent, listening intently, her keen mind memorising everything they were saying.

The Consuls were worried about governmental interference in their work? The Australian Consul wanted a Seeker of her own? Oh, this was excellent. Mr Hawkins would be very pleased indeed. She might even get a bonus!

xxx

Barricade was pacing - not that he could go very far, enclosed as all three of them were in the shipping container. Knock Out eyed him tiredly, then glanced at the corner where Soundwave rested, visor blank and the comms expert himself most likely in stasis. No help there. He turned back to Barricade.

::I know you don't like this. None of us like this. It's... humiliating. And uncomfortable. But it's also the easiest way for us to travel overseas::

Barricade snarled incoherently and carried on pacing. Knock Out shuttered his optics for a moment in frustration.

::Three more days. That's all. Three more days before we dock in England. Then the True Human Brotherhood will collect us from the port and we can start planning what to do next::

::True Human Brotherhood - what a load of slag!::

::A load of slag which will shelter us and provide us with energon while they plot how to drive our kind offworld. I'm not stupid, Barricade. I do know what we're letting ourselves in for. That's why, for the moment, we downplay our abilities and act like good little Autobots until we're ready to move::

::And then what?::

::I don't know!:: Knock Out took a deep invent to stop his systems overheating, calming himself. ::We need somewhere safe to regroup. Find out how many more of us there are. Decide our future. We can't do that stuck out in the wilderness. These fleshbags have resources we need. Once Soundwave jacks into their comms systems and we have a secure base, we can make them work for us::

Barricade paused, considering, then grunted an affirmative.

::I want Prime's spark::

::Yes, well we'd all like that. It's not going to happen unless we're organised, though, so let's take this one step at a time::

Barricade growled and resumed his pacing...

xxx

© JAT 06.10.12