The base was layered in a heavy blanket of tense silence. The only sound which was able to penetrate it and reach my ears was the tapping of Lennox' pen against the metal table we were sat on. This wasn't how my week was meant to go. This wasn't how my life was meant to go; waiting for a husband to come back to me. Husband? Partner? Friend? I still wasn't sure what he equalled in human terms. Maybe it was even degrading to try. Bonded. Spark-mate.
It was only meant to be a quick mission. Optimus, Ratchet and Sideswipe were the only ones who'd been sent as it was a low-key, easily managed mission. A day, two at the most. Seven days later and there was still no word, no sign, no feeling. The bond wasn't working. Somehow, for some reason, Optimus was blocking it. I could neither feel anything or send anything. I could only hope that he was indeed blocking it, and not dead.
No. He couldn't be offline. I would know about that. That was one thing he couldn't hide.
"Lennox, where are they?" I asked quietly. At first I wasn't sure he'd heard.
"I don't know."
How had my life come down to this? When had I made the decision to be a part of something which could kill me in more ways than I thought possible. If there was even the slight possibility that Optimus was offlining, I could be facing my final year alive and, in that time, leading the Autobots until the time a 'suitable replacement' could be found.
And then it happened. The shout came up from outside that they were back, and with it came the cry for every mechanic on the base. Something was wrong. One of the Autobots was down.
Five years ago
I didn't like being classed as 'weak' or 'needy'. Unfortunately, everyone bar my family sees me that way. Fourteen years ago I was involved in a serious car accident involving a drunk driver in a four by four, a lorry and my family car. My parents were both killed but I escaped with a broken arm, two broken legs and two mutilated eyes. I was three at the time and most things before the accident are hazy. As a result, I didn't really miss my sight. I'd only had three years of it and little of it was remembered.
I'd been shipped off to live with my mother's sister, her husband and her son. Aunt Judy had taken me in instantly, spending her free time learning Braille with me and modifying her house to accommodate me. Uncle Ron and my Cousin Sam had been roped into learning Braille and all three had helped me pick out my first Guide Dog when I was thirteen. That same dog was now waking me up. That and Aunt Judy was calling to me from the kitchen. "Tamara! Tamara, breakfast!" I rolled over and my face was licked happily by a tongue smaller than that of Boo, my dog.
"Mojo!" I groaned, pushing the smaller animal away. He landed with a thump and a whine on my carpet and I sighed. "It's your own fault." I sat up, reaching down to pet Boo who was panting happily. "'Morning girl." she nudged my leg and I slumped my shoulders. "I don't want to go to school." I muttered but got to my feet anyway, heading for the door. My room had been the same since I'd arrived fourteen years ago, like the rest of the house, so I didn't need Boo's help to navigate. My room was on the ground floor and I followed the smell of pancakes into the kitchen. I heard Uncle Ron before I felt his usual bone-crushing hug.
"Morning." I replied with a smile as he led me to my seat.
"Sam never cleaned up last night. Running over his stuff for today." I smiled. Sam needed one more A grade and he'd be getting his new car. He'd got all the other requirements like the $2,000 and the other A grades. He just needed this one in Genealogy.
"He'll do great, I'm sure. Tell him I say good luck?" I asked my Aunt and the clink of china on marble indicated my plate was infront of me.
"Of course." I smiled as I tucked into my pancakes. I went to a school half an hour away from Tranquillity. Sam wasn't exactly an early riser so I hardly saw him in the morning. "I thought I'd take you this morning." Aunt Judy informed me. "Have a little girl time. Boo needs her walk too." I nodded. There was no need for Boo to come to the Highschool with me. We all knew our way and there were enough members of staff about to help us if needed.
"Sure thing. Boo needs it I'm sure." In response my dog whined. "Oh, you're getting fat and you know it!" My aunt and uncle chuckled at my tendency to talk to my dog like a human. The truth was, it's what I saw Boo as. I didn't have any friends that lived nearby and hopping on a bus was a little difficult. Sam and his friend Myles were my only source of company that were the same age as me. Aunt Judy was great for a girl-talk, but Boo listened and didn't answer back. "I picked you up some more Braille paper and your laptops been charging all night." My aunt informed me once she'd finished laughing at my weird habits. "Your clothes are on your dresser."
"Thanks." I didn't really need my Aunt to pick out my clothes for me, but I didn't have the heart to tell her to stop. Each of my clothes had a tiny button sown on the inside so I could tell the colour. My red shirts had a button on the inside of the left sleeve. My black shirts had one on the left sleeve. Jeans had one on the front pocket and so on, so forth.
Breakfast done I slid from the table, heading towards the bathroom. My feet moved from tile to carpet to tile again as I pushed the door shut behind me. I felt my way around the bathroom, using the Braille notes to distinguish between my toothbrush and everyone else's. When Sam was twelve he'd found it funny to switch our toothbrushes around and laugh when I used someone else's. As a result Aunt Judy had applied Braille notes and Uncle Ron had made a dent in the handle of mine. I knew they were trying to help but it only made me feel weaker. I pushed the thought aside as I headed back to my room. Boo nudged something to my foot and I bent down to pick it up. It was my phone. It was safe to say that I hated the thing. Both that and my laptop translated my speech into words then, when received by another phone or computer like my own, translated the text into words. I preferred Braille paper over electronics any day.
Ten minutes later and I was ready to go. My hand was looped through my Aunt's arm as we bid goodbye to my uncle and stepped outside. It was warm and my skin heated from the sun. It was a dry heat and I smiled. No sign of rain. I hated rain. Without Boo I stepped in way too many puddles, making the rest of my day uncomfortable and frustrating. I relayed the lack of approaching rain to my aunt and she laughed.
"Well, the sky's clear but you know what this global warming's like!" She tapped the family car's boot, letting me know where it was. It was unnecessary as Boo was nosing me towards the correct door.
The ride to my school was short. Or at least, it felt like it. Most people think I'd find it longer with nothing to look at, but I can listen to all the cars passing us, the radio, Boo and my aunt and, on quieter days, things other than traffic outside of the car. "I'll be back to pick you up at two. With any luck, Sam will get his car and he'll be able to take you out!" I smiled in the direction of my aunt, getting from the car. Sam treated me like a sister, yes, but he wouldn't be seen out with me. It 'ruined his rep.' as I'd hear someone refer to it once when we were fifteen. I followed the sound of voices that led me towards the school, moving into the entrance hall. I stopped and listened for the sound of my friend. I heard her by the sound of her wheelchair moving across the floor. There were several wheelchair's in the school, but Chrissie's had a quiet squeak in the left wheel.
"Good morning, Chrissie." I said as I caught up with her chair.
"Morning Tam. You doing okay?"
"Yep." I replied, following the sound of her chair towards out form room and first class. Chrissie had also been in an accident when she was little but had broken both of her legs. She'd been ten at the time and often mentioned how much she missed her sight. Although I knew my way around the school well enough, I still kept my right hand on the wall. It was something that I'd heard many people confess to doing. It made us feel more grounded without the comfort of our dogs. We found our seats in out class, joining two other students and a helper at the desk. There was one helper for every desk in the school. That was a lot of staff. Chrissie and I shared a desk with Morgan, Holly and Mrs Hanna. She brought the total of helpers in the class to eight. Not including the teacher.
"Good morning ladies." Mrs Hanna, or just Hanna, greeted. "How are we?"
"Tired and wishing we were still in bed." Chrissie muttered and I heard her apply her brakes.
"I'll second that." Morgan sighed. "I wish I could still be cuddled up to Pepper." Pepper was Morgan's dog and I often got the feeling that Morgan was closer to the dog than her family.
The day moved slowly, even for me. Each hour seemed to drag on for a year and by the time three o'clock rolled around, I felt dead on my feet. I hated Friday's – double maths, double English and study period. It was tedious and murderous. "Do you think your cousin got his car today?" Chrissie asked as we followed Hanna out to the car park. There'd been a room change last period and the school had instantly deemed us incapable of getting out of the building on our own.
"If he did he'll be off after some girl." I muttered. I didn't understand Sam's fascination with some 'Mikaela' girl. I'd often overheard him talking about her to Myles or just to himself. She sounded dull and like she wouldn't look twice at him. But I couldn't judge. I'd never met the girl.
"Tamara, your Aunt is ahead." Hanna called and I grimaced. I knew where my aunt was. I could hear the engine of her car. I gave my thanks anyway, bid goodbye to the others and headed to the car, being met halfway by Boo.
"Hey Boo. Miss me?" She nudged her nose into my hand and I smiled. "I missed you too." I slid into my seat and laughed as Boo jumped onto my lap. "Good girl. Hey Aunt Judy." I smiled towards the driver's seat and reached to pull the door shut. "Sam get his car?"
"His school doesn't finish for another ten minutes. Ron said he'll ring to let us know Sam's final grade." I nodded, knowing that if the call was late, Sam would've stayed behind to beg his teacher for that A. Sure enough, the call was late.
"Aunt Judy? Phone."
"Oh! Thank you!" I hear her rummaging in her bag one handed for her phone.
"I'll get it." I sighed and she dropped her handbag into my lap. My hand hovered inside before I located the phone, snatching it up and hitting the only button on the phone.
"This is Tamara."
It's Ron. Sam got an A-. I grinned, relaying the information to my aunt.
"Tell him we say well done and he's to get the best car he can with what little money you're going to add to his total of two thousand." It was a well known fact that Uncle Ron did not spend money unless he had to.
Will do. See you later. And the phone clicked off.
"Sam's gonna end up with a pile of crap, isn't he?" I sighed and took my Aunt's laughter as a yes.
I was getting tired when I heard a choked engine stop out the front of the house. I rolled over and smacked my alarm clock. Time: Nine Fifteen PM. I groaned at the automated reply. Sliding from bed I made my way to the front of the house. "Sam? That you?" I called, opening the front door.
"Yeah! I got a new car!"
"So I've heard. It sounds like a piece of crap." I laughed, gripping Boo's scruff. She led me down the steps to the front garden, pausing next to the car. "What type is it?"
"A yellow and black Camaro." Sam replied proudly. I reached out my spare hand and it came into contact with rough metal. I rubbed the area and bits of metal chipped off and scraped my hand. Rust.
"It needs some work done to it, but I don't care. I have a car!" I could hear Sam's grin. I moved along the car, letting go of Boo to run my hands along the exterior. "It's mainly yellow with two black stripes running along the middle of it." Sam explained.
"So, like a bumblebee?" I asked. I vaguely remembered them from when I was little.
"Bumblebee." I smiled. "Your cars got a name; it's one step closer to being decent."
"Hey!" Sam objected as I stepped back from the car, grabbing onto Boo again. "I'm gonna back it into the drive. I'll see ya tomorrow."
"Sure thing Sam. Congrats with the car, but you so owe me a ride." Sam didn't reply so I moved back towards the house.
"I shrugged!" He called after me and I waved over my shoulder before closing the door.
"That is a bad feeling car!" I called out to Uncle Ron, pausing in the hallway. "It's all rusted!"
"Yeah, well, when I was his age I was happy to have an engine and two wheels." Was the response and I snorted.
"Cheap ass Uncle." I muttered, heading back to my room and shaking my head as I heard a 'pop' of Bumblebee's engine. That thing wouldn't last the week.