A/N: Hey everyone! Thanks so much toa ll my reviewers, favoriters and followers, and I'm sorry it took so long to update! Plot bunnies have been biting like mad. This chapter is, er, the shortest yet to put it lightly (half-way between a chapter and a filler), but like I said last chapter I'm at that awful point where long chapters are all but impossible. Don't kill me! But, hey, still an update. Special thanks to Rom12.2-2Cor4.6 for getting my butt back in gear, by the way!
And also… Seventy reviews! Thanks so much to all my reviewers! I love you guys!
Jack could practically feel the life draining out of him as he stood motionless on the sidewalk that led up to his house, trembling violently, emerald eyes dull. He was honestly surprised he was still standing and had yet to collapse. He felt as though he should have by now.
It still hadn't really sank in; the thought was far too nightmarish, too unreal. He felt as though he was standing in a dream, a bad one, with no control over what was happening.
His baby sister was gone. Out of his reach. He couldn't just run over and pluck her into his arms. He couldn't simply snatch her back. She was gone. With each morbid thought that raced through his head, the notion grew more and more realistic, snuck closer to reality. He felt sick, honestly, nauseous. He glanced up, determined to rid himself of the queasiness.
He had not been allowed to stay at the base with Miko and Raf, despite the circumstances. Arcee had been ordered to take him home, and he had been forced into cooperation. As Optimus had put it, he was needed more elsewhere. He could help them more by going home, searching for any clues there, and strengthening the last-minute cover story concocted by Agent Fowler, one centering around an ordinary kidnapping.
So here he was, standing uselessly on the sidewalk while those around him took up most of the work. What could he do?
'Police' (government agents who knew what was really happening) had been called in to investigate, swarming around the yard and house like flies with squad cars lined all the way up the block. The yard was lined with yellow tape, flags marking where the more prominent parts of the alleged crime had taken place, cones blocking off the road. None of the neighbors whom had crowded nearby in their curiosity were allowed to come near.
Then there was the girl, Jenny if he had heard right. She was oblivious, being brought in to 'give her report' and witness when needed. She had hounded him for a couple of minutes before realizing the point was futile, running off to pursue one of the nearest officers. He had barely heard her, in all honesty, and had no idea what she had said.
Willing himself to move, eyes dull and motions sluggish, he took a few steps toward the seemingly innocent motorcycle sitting to his left, no doubt monitoring the scene. She hadn't said a word since they pulled out of the base. For what exact reason, he didn't know.
"Jack!" the sharp yell barely jostled him, barely even broke his thoughts, and all he could convince himself to do was twist his head to the side, toward the road. His mother, he noted, her hair halfway out of its ponytail, her sea-green scrubs wrinkled. It was obvious she, too, was stressed, though he doubted she knew just what was happening yet.
She stopped beside him, her brown eyes bright with her alarm, her mouth slightly open. "What's happening, Jack? They called me at work, and…" she trailed off, realizing just how far gone her son was. "Jack!" she snapped, lifting a hand to wave in front of his face. He blinked, but didn't do much else. Her eyes narrowed to mere slits.
"June, I persume?" a voice interrupted. She jumped, wheeling around to face the source. Her gaze was immediately met by that of one of the many men wandering about, his suit neatly creased, his hazel eyes dull.
"Correct," she bit out, shooting him a cautious glare, not bothering to do much else. She crossed her arms, scowling furiously as she edged toward her son.
"Special Agent Bill Fowler," he almost nervously introduced, gaze lowering. "I'm, uh, afraid there's been a bit of a problem…"
"So, just what d'we do with it?" Breakdown questioned, cocking his helm as he gave the human child a gentle prod. The sparkling in turn gave a shrill squeak, stumbling backward as she giggled lightly.
"Tickles!" she chirped, beaming as she plopped down to a sitting position. The azure Decepticon hesitantly glanced upward, meeting his partner's gaze.
"I think it's broken," Knockout snorted slightly, spinning a small (in his terms) wrench around his digit.
"That's what I thought, too," he admitted, scowling as he dropped the tool with a loud clang. "She makes no sense."
Kate scowled angrily, crossing her arms as she glared to both 'Cons. "Do to," she retorted, blue eyes narrowing. Breakdown raised an optic ridge.
"Whatever you say," he amended, not feeling like arguing.
"I can't believe this!" Knockout abruptly lashed out, turning on his heel to toss his wrench carelessly onto the nearby table. Katie cringed sligtly at the loud clang, though did nothing else. "I'm a medic! Not a babysitter!" He cast the human sitting quietly on the berth a half-hearted glare. Katie missed it completely, attention focused on his partner.
Breakdown looked at him oddly, crimon optics brightening in mild amuesment, mild worry. "You're stuck with it?" he questioned, nearly smirking as he shifted his weight. Knockout hissed, paint flaring in the dim lighting.
"Yes!" he indignatley screeched, glaring at the topic of the conversation once more. His companion hummed lightly.
"Can't you just dump her on someone else?" he chuckled lowly, an evil glint creeping into his optics. "I'm sure Starscream would just love to spark-sit!"
"Wish I could," the cherry red CMO relied, tone almost wistful. "I'm under strict orders from Lord Megatron himself. If I lose her, I lose my helm!"
Breakdown hummed. "Just ignore her," he commented, waving a servo through the air, the human tracking his every move. "How much trouble can one sparkling be?" Katie only blinked.
"She was what?!" Fowler couldn't help but recoil, wincing dangerously as he all but cowered, Jack looking on with wide eyes. June was furious, and he was the target. Her hazel eyes nearly black in her anger, a dangerous scowl etched onto her feature as she leveled the agent with an icy glare that could send Megatron himself running for the hills.
"W-we're doing all we can, June," he comforted as best he could, backpeddling across the sidewalk in an attempt to distance himself from the distraught mother. He held up his hands in a placating manner. "We've got squads all over Jasper, and alerts already airing! We'll find her!"
June would hear none of it. She stormed forward, cornering the man against the egde of the house. Snarling ferally, she rose onto her toes in order to level his gaze. "And what if you don't? What if you can't find her?" she questioned, not paying any attention to the numerous stares she was gaining from the men patrolling the house.
"We will find her!" he promised. "We're already tracking down the culprit,"
The nurse growled lowly, shaking violently in her rage. She was on the edge of losing it. "You don't get it!" she barked, Jack suddenly breaking into a sprint to race to her side. "My baby is out there and you're-"
"Mom, Mom," Jack suddenly yelped, carefully snagging his mother's arms in order to tug her backward a few feet. "It's not his fault!"
She forced herself to take a shaking, weak breath before turning to face her son. "Jack, just what happend?" Looking into her eyes, Jack almoat recoiled. He had never seen his mother this distessed, and it was obviously it was only worsening. She looked ready to fall apart at the seams. And, worst of all…
She was crying. Not once in his life had he seen her cry. He had never seen so much as a trace of a tear, or a hint she was close to it. She had always put on a strong façade, no matter the situation, even when his so-called father had left, leaving her a then thirteen-year-old Jack and infant Katie. But now, she was crying openly and freely, broken down into heaving sobs, tears coursing down her face.
"Mom," he barely choked out, stepping forward. Throwing his arms around her, he pulled her into a tight emrace. "We'll find her, I promise! Everyone's looking out for her, and we've got a witness. Kate'll be back in no time, as happy-go-lucky and hyper as ever!"
June didn't say a word, far too caught up in her grief to say anything. Instead, she merely returned the tight hug she was enveloped in, not bothering to stiffle her keens. Neither of them paid any mind to the cerulean motorcycle pulling silently out of the driveway.
Arcee made no effort to stiffle her engine as she tore into base, going well over the usual speed limit as she wound through the entry tunnel. Her brakes shrieked in protest as she slammed to a stop, and she transformed before she was anywhere close to a complete halt.
Wordlessly, she moved to the monitor at which both Optimus and Ratchet were stationed, stopping beside it, positioned to where she could see the screens without any strain. Her optics darkened.
"Still nothing?" she softly spoke, breaking the tense silence that had wrapped its way around the normally noisterous, loud base. Her optics roamed the pannel of computers, though they landed on nothing important as she observed the progress of dozens of scans.
Ratchet cast her a sideways glance, though did no more as he rapidly typed, running through numerous systems and programs. "No," he spoke, humming lightly as he returned his gaze to the rows of screens. "I'm searching as fast as I can, but the Nemisis's cloaking device is very reliable; it is… unlikely… that we will locate it by scans alone." His tone was grim.
"But… we'll find her, right?" Miko spoke from the balcony, charging forward to prop against the railings. Arcee shot her a backwards glance as Ratchet vented. The teen paled slightly. "We have to! She's just a kid!"
"We're doing all we can, Miko," Bulkhead spoke from his spot sagged against the wall, his optics locked cautiously on his charge. Bumblebee, who was stood beside him, buzzed lightly, doorwings flicking back slightly before returning to their sagged position.
"There's no way they can hide forever," Raf spoke, obviously attempting to lighten the mood. Miko nodded nervously, obviously unsure.
"Rafael, I am going to be completely honest with you," Ratchet suddenly spoking, tearing himself from the monitor in order to face them. His sober gaze roamed from the pre-ten, however, falling onto each being, Autobot or human, in the room. He was addressing them all. "There is a very real chance they could."
He cut off the numerous protests fired his way with a simple wave of his servo before he started again.
"Their sheilds are exemplerary, outstanding. Even if we had the proper technology, it could very well take me weeks to so much as get a general idea of where they are, and months to find out exactly. And, with this," he motioned blankly to the computers humming beside him. "It could take years."
Nobody said a word as the news sunk in, the two humans paling drastically. Bumblebee warbled weakly, his doorwings flaring, and he cast a hesiatant, sympathetic glance to their leader, the mech not having so much as glanced up at the revelation. He didn't know how the Prime was still functioning; he couldn't imagine what he'd do if he lost Raf.
"There has to be some way," Arcee spoke, frowning almost angrily as she shifted her weight. "I mean-"
"I'm doing all I can," Ratchet fumed, cutting her off without any forward warning. He quieted, turning away from the group. "We can only hope that's enough."
A/N: Eh. Not my best chappy, not my worst. Kinda in between I guess, but I had to slide into it somehow. One last thing: Like I've mentioned before, I'm getting to a point where there's very possibly going to be some big plot twists. I'm not giving anything away, or at least nothing major, but I'd like to get your opinions on it because it'd impact the story so much. So, in order to do so, I'm putting up a poll on my page. I'd really appreciate it if you could check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks, and you guys are awesome!