DISCLAIMER: I do not own Transformers, or any of the song/movie quotes used in this story. However, the idea for this story does, indeed, belong to me.
HERE'S YOUR TRADITIONAL, FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD REMINDER THIS IS NOT A SLASH FIC.
NOTE: DO NOT READ THIS FIC UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN DARK OF THE MOON!!! MAJOR SPOILERS ABOUND!
Transformers: Day of the Black Sun
Chapter Four-Firestorm the Knower
BUMBLEBEE'S CONFUSION OVER THE CRYPTIC MESSSAGE THE DECEPTICON had tried to relay before he had fallen into stasis lasted only a few seconds as the realization that the Decepticon needed help overtook everything else that he was thinking and feeling at that moment. And Bumblebee knew that there was currently only one Autobot on Earth who would possibly know what to do.
RATCHET! He commed frantically. Volume wasn't able to be conveyed through the comms, but he knew that the sudden "shout" would catch Ratchet's attention at once.
Primus, Bumblebee, don't startle me like that! Ratchet responded immediately. The words were stern, but Bumblebee could sense the underlying concern in them that the digital nature of the communication could not show. Are you injured? Slag it, Bumblebee, you were told not to fight the Decepticon!
I'm not! I didn't! Bumblebee sent back. He was struggling to support the stasis-locked old Decepticon, but he was far too large and heavy for an Autobot of Bumblebee's size to support for too long, so he finally had to call it quits, easing him onto the ground, before he continued to report on the recent events to Ratchet. The Decepticon didn't attack me. He was trying to tell me something that he said Optimus needed to know, but he went into stasis before he could explain what he meant!
He fell into stasis? Ratchet questioned.
Yes, just a little bit after I found him, Bumblebee sent back. Normally, Bumblebee wouldn't be reacting like this, but it had been so long since he had been in a situation like the one he now found himself in and it was more than a little overwhelming. The young Autobot was very anxious; his instincts told him that this Decepticon meant no harm to anyone, and as a result, he wanted to help him as much as he could. Unfortunately, his medical knowledge didn't extend beyond the very basics of battlefield first aid, so he had no idea where to even begin to help the old Decepticon. Ratchet, he's very old. He could barely stand when I found him. He just collapsed and now he's in stasis lock and I don't know what to do!
Calm down, Bumblebee; I know it's been a while since you've had to deal with anything like this. Try to keep a level head-just relax and remember your Autobot training and what you do know of medical treatment, Ratchet responded firmly. If the Decepticon is truly in stasis lock, he will survive until I can see whatever it is that is causing him to be in that condition-if he does have information it will be in our best interest to treat him so he will be able to talk to us. Optimus and I are almost to your location. Just…keep watch on the Decepticon until we get there. He might be pretending to be in stasis to lure us into a trap.
I don't think he is, Bumblebee sent back. But I'll be careful.
See you shortly, Ratchet replied, then cut off the comm link.
Feeling slightly calmer-Ratchet and Optimus are almost here and they'll know what to do-Bumblebee looked back in the direction he had come from, wondering if he should go and retrieve Sam and everyone else, but the sight of the still-burning entry fire caused him to decide against it. If he didn't do something about it, the entire forest might catch fire, and then his family would really be in trouble. As much as he disliked the idea of leaving them on the edge of the woods beside the road, he knew that they were a lot safer there than they would be near this fire. Bumblebee looked around, trying to find something that he could use to put out the flames, and quickly spotted a way. He moved towards the mound of dirt that had been kicked up by the Decepticon's landing, and set around to throwing what he could onto the flames to smother them out.
Ratchet drove down the road that lead to where his sensors told him Bumblebee was waiting. Optimus was following him instead of leading the way, which was unusual, but Optimus had told Ratchet to go first so he could begin treating the injured Decepticon as soon as possible. If what Bumblebee told them the Decepticon had said was true, the new arrival had something very important to tell them, and he couldn't do so if he didn't recover enough to come out of his stasis-lock.
"There they are," Ratchet said, relieved, as he drove around a bend in the road and the forms of Sam, Carly, Wheelie, Brains, and Blaster came into view. He scanned over all five of them briefly, and was pleased to notice that none of them seemed injured-a little worried and anxious, maybe, but not hurt. His scanners also told him that Bumblebee was nearby but off in the woods, accompanied by a faint Decepticon signal. Contrary to what Bumblebee had told him earlier, the medic was picking up obvious signs of several small injuries on the young Autobot; fortunately, they seemed to be minor, nothing more than his armor being singed in several places. From the heat and fire of the Decepticon's entry, no doubt. Heat can be just as damaging to our systems as cold if we are not in the proper mode, and an Earth vehicle is not that proper mode.
Ratchet considered the Decepticon signal for a moment. If he had been in robot mode at that moment, he would have frowned. The Decepticon's signal seemed familiar, but, just as Bumblebee had told them, it was distorted in a way that made it impossible to identify who exactly it was without gaining a visual. However, Ratchet was able to recognize enough of the signal to know that this was a 'con who had fought the Autobots quite a few times-they had memorized the signals of all the Decepticons they faced, so they would be able to know who was who and determine how great the threat was as a result.
"Optimus, do you…?" Ratchet asked hesitatingly as he came to a stop on the side of the road close to their friends, but far enough away that their conversation would not be overheard.
"Yes, I do," Optimus replied, concern evident in his deep voice as he pulled to a stop next to Ratchet. "This is a Decepticon we have encountered before. But I cannot unscramble the signal enough to unmask his identity."
"We will need a visual to identify him," Ratchet said as he shifted from his vehicle form into his robot mode. "As we need to take him into custody, anyway, that will not be too much of a problem."
"Problem? What problem?" Sam asked, running up as Optimus too returned to his robot form; he'd arrived in time to hear the end of the conversation. Carly followed him, still holding Blaster, with Brains and Wheelie following after her.
"The Cybertronian that you saw make a hot comet entry is a Decepticon," Optimus informed the small group, his tone grave.
"It is?" Wheelie asked. "I thought that's what his signal looked like, but it's so scrambled I can't tell if it's someone we know."
"No idea," Brains added.
"Why didn't you say anything earlier?" Sam demanded.
"Because we weren't sure," Wheelie replied defensively. "We know you're prone to overreact and we didn't want to get you worked up in case it was nothing."
"Oh, no. You mean Bee's in the woods with a Decepticon who could just…"Sam shot an anxious glance in the direction Ratchet assumed Bumblebee had gone.
"There's no need for alarm, Sam," Ratchet informed the human. "My scans have let me know that Bumblebee is fine-a little singed, it looks like, but fine. He commed us a short while ago and told us that the Decepticon was in stasis-lock. If that is the case, he can't hurt anyone. In fact, I'd better go and make sure that it is the case." The medic looked towards Optimus for confirmation.
The Prime nodded. "Go. I will stay here until you send Bumblebee back."
Ratchet nodded in return, and then turned and headed into the woods in the direction that his scanners told him would lead to Bumblebee and the injured Decepticon.
It didn't take him long to find the trail left behind from the Deception's entry. Like Bumblebee had done, Ratchet followed it to the clearing where he could make out a large, dark, bulky shape that was in all likelihood the Decepticon, and a smaller silhouette that was pouring something on the last remaining flames cause by the Decepticon's landing. His scanners tagged the smaller figure with an Autobot signature, and a quick adjustment of his optics provided confirmation of the smaller one's identity.
"Bumblebee?" Ratchet called.
Bumblebee looked up from where he was pouring dirt on the last of the flames. He let out a relieved chirp and headed quickly towards the medic, meeting him close to the fallen Decepticon.
Ratchet looked over the young Autobot with a critical optic, noting the singe marks all over his armor, and the one nasty-looking burn in particular on his chest armor. "So…you weren't injured, eh?"
Bumblebee looked at the burns on his armor, noticing for the first time how much they were stinging. He'd been too concerned over the Decepticon and then over putting the fire out before it could spread to be aware of just how many burns he'd gotten from doing so. Now that there was no more work to do, there was nothing to distract him from the pain, and he winced slightly before beginning an apology over his comm.
Sorry. I was…
"I know, Bumblebee. It's all right," Ratchet reassured the younger Autobot before turning to look at the stasis-locked old Decepticon, and heading closer towards him. "Now, let's look at our new friend."
Ratchet shone his headlights onto the Decepticon's face, and suddenly, he froze as recognition dawned in his optics.
What? What is it? Bumblebee asked, unnerved by Ratchet's reaction.
"I…I don't believe this…this is…" Ratchet stammered. "How is this possible?"
Bumblebee looked at him in surprise. Ratchet never acted like this. What was wrong? Ratchet, who is…
Ratchet turned to face the younger Autobot. "Bumblebee, go and get Optimus. Go."
Bumblebee hesitated, feeling anxious all over again at Ratchet's strange behavior. Ratchet, what…
"Now!" Ratchet said in a tone that left no room for argument, before turning back to face his patient.
Bumblebee cast one last worried look at the medic before he turned and hurried back the way he had come earlier, when he had first entered the clearing. Once the sound of the young Autobot's footsteps had died away, Ratchet shuttered his optics and vented to calm himself, then began to run scans to try and find out what had sent the Decepticon into stasis.
This wasn't possible. He knew who this was-he had seen him before; he had fought him before.
Despite his great age and the fact that he rarely set foot on the battlefield, this Decepticon had been known as one of the strongest warriors in the ranks of Megaton's soldiers back in the earlier days of the war, but he had vanished shortly before the slaughter at the Youth Sectors. He had never been seen on Cybertron again, and everyone-among the Autobots, at least-had assumed that he had gone offline. He had been old to the point of being ancient even then, and the most common belief was that he had finally succumbed to his old age.
"Everyone thought that you were dead," Ratchet said in an undertone. "And yet, here you are. Now, only one question remains. Why are you here?"
Bumblebee stumbled out of the tree line, close to where he had entered earlier when he had been tracking the fallen Decepticon. He kept throwing anxious glances over his shoulder in the direction he had come from, still feeling on edge from Ratchet's unusual behavior.
"Bumblebee?" The familiar voice of Optimus Prime caught his attention, and the younger Autobot turned to face his leader. Optimus was standing next to the side of the road, and Bumblebee could just make out Sam and the rest of his family standing behind him. Relief filled the young scout when he saw that they were still okay.
Optimus looked over Bumblebee, noting with concern the many scorch marks on the younger Autobot's armor, but far more worrying was the anxiety the Prime could see in Bumblebee's optics, and the way the scout kept casting nervous glances over his shoulder. It was more than enough for Optimus to realize immediately that something must be wrong. He took a step forward. "What is it, Bumblebee?"
Bumblebee shrugged, anxiously meeting his leader's gaze. Ratchet is acting strange…he saw the Decepticon and I think he knows him. He told me to get you.
Optimus began walking towards the trees. "It must be serious. Bumblebee, stay here until we return. Once I am fully aware of the situation and Ratchet lets me know what he has discovered, I will let you know what must be done."
Yes, sir, Bumblebee responded, watching as Optimus disappeared into the trees. After he could no longer see the Prime, he turned his attention back to the others and walked over to them.
"Bee, are you okay?" Sam asked in concern.
Bumblebee warbled, crouching down so that he was closer to the eye-level of his human friends. "Just fine."
"But your burns," Sam insisted, gesturing towards the singe marks all over the Autobot and the nasty burn on his chest armor where the metal had hit him when he had been driving earlier. "Don't they hurt?"
"A bit-but-not bad," Bumblebee pieced together.
"Uh-huh," Bumblebee warbled. He looked over his friends; even though they had told him earlier that they were fine, he still felt the need to make sure that they were all really okay-he'd been in a hurry to take care of a potential Decepticon threat and hadn't given them a proper-looking over to make sure that the spinout he had done hadn't injured them. Knowing that made him feel guilty and he knew he wouldn't fell better until he made up for it.
Sam looked a little disheveled and anxious, but was unhurt. Carly still seemed a little shaken, but not as much as she had been earlier, and, like Sam, she wasn't hurt. She was still holding Blaster. The little Sparkling was also unhurt; he was still quietly whimpering, but seemed to be a tiny bit calmer than he had been earlier. Bumblebee gently rubbed the Sparkling's head with a finger to calm him down some more before he turned his attention to Wheelie and Brains. The two former Decepticons were talking to each other, discussing who the new arrival could be and why Optimus had left in such a hurry when Bumblebee had come back. They weren't hurt either, and Bumblebee finally allowed himself to relax. They were all fine.
"Optimus seemed concerned," Carly said then, looking at the trees.
"Yeah, he did, and you seemed upset about something when you came back, Bee," Sam looked at his friend. "What happened? Who was it?"
"I-don't know." Bumblebee shrugged, and then continued in his own voice. "R-Ratchet s-seemed to r-recognize t-the D-Decepticon. H-he w-was a-acting f-funny…a-almost l-like he b-both c-couldn't b-believe i-it and w-was n-nervous a-about who it w-was."
"If both Ratchet and Optimus are on edge, it must be a very dangerous Decepticon…" Sam hesitated, a sudden suspicion and anger dawning on his face. He looked at Bumblebee. "Bee, the 'con isn't the one who burned you, is he?"
Bumblebee shook his head quickly. "N-no. T-the e-entry c-caused a f-fire. I g-got t-the b-burns p-putting it o-out."
Sam visibly relaxed. "Good. Er, I don't mean 'good' that you got burned, but good that the Decepticon didn't attack you. But…for Ratchet to react like you said and for Optimus to just go off like that…this Decepticon must be bad news."
Bumblebee shook his head again. "I d-don't t-think so. I t-think-"his voice capacitor shorted out with a burst of static and he narrowed his optics in frustration. *kzzt*
"That hasn't happened in a while." Sam gave Bumblebee a sympathetic glance. "It must be the stress over what just happened."
Bumblebee shrugged. Even though having his voice capacitor short out again was frustrating, it didn't bother him as much as it could have, as he still had the radio to communicate with. The young Autobot didn't have to search for long before he was able to find clips to convey what he had been trying to tell everyone before his capacitor had stopped working. "He's not dangerous-I trust him."
"You trust the Decepticon?" Carly asked in confusion. In her arms, Blaster wriggled, holding his hands out to Bumblebee with a pleading whine.
Bumblebee nodded, taking Blaster into his arms as Carly handed the little Sparkling to him. Blaster latched onto the young Autobot, whimpering as he looked up at his caretaker. Bumblebee adjusted his hold on the Sparkling slightly and Blaster quieted down, clinging tightly to his caretaker's armor.
"You said don't know who he is?" Sam gave his friend a weird look. When Bumblebee nodded again in confirmation, Sam continued. "But you trust him?"
Bumblebee gave a positive chirp, still nodding.
"I don't know-just a feeling-I got," Bumblebee shrugged again. He still didn't understand exactly why he trusted the Decepticon. He only knew that he had seen something in the Decepticon's optics that was familiar and safe and told him that the Decepticon would not hurt anyone. With his voice capacitor out at the moment, he was stuck using nothing but radio clips to communicate with the human members of his family, and he searched for a while to find appropriate clips to convey his thoughts. However, nothing fit the explanation he wanted to give, so he remained silent.
"I hope your feeling is right, Bee," Sam responded, casting a nervous glance towards the trees where Ratchet and Optimus had gone. "Or Optimus and Ratchet could be in big trouble."
The sight that met Optimus's optics when he emerged into the clearing was not what he was expecting. Whatever he had been expecting was certainly not the sight of one of the largest Cybertronians he had ever seen sprawled out on the ground, with Ratchet kneeling nearby, using one of his various medical tools to inject a dose of Energon directly into one of the stasis-locked Decepticon's main fuel lines.
"Ratchet?" The Prime asked.
"Optimus," Ratchet greeted without turning around. There was a tone to his voice that Optimus had not heard in quite a while-Ratchet was unnerved by the identity of this Decepticon. And even though Optimus himself was concerned about the Decepticon's identity, he was also worried about the injuries he had seen on Bumblebee.
"Bumblebee has several burns," Optimus stated, concern evident in his tone.
"I know." Ratchet shook his head. "He was putting out the entry fire so it wouldn't spread. You know how intense the flames from a hot comet entry can be-they can hurt even the most heavily armored Cybertronians if they are not in cometary mode. I checked him over with my scanners when I arrived in this clearing, Optimus. None of the burns are too serious; they need treatment, yes, but they are not life-threatening."
Optimus approached the medic, who had not looked up from his treatment of the far larger Cybertronian during the entire time he had been talking, but before he could ask the questions he needed to be answered, Ratchet spoke up again, starting to report on the Decepticon's condition.
"He's suffering from severe Energon deprivation; that's why he's fallen into stasis-lock. I gave him a small infusion to get him stable, but I'll need to get him onto the base in order to properly treat him."
Ratchet finally fell quiet, and Optimus took the chance to address him, stepping forward. "Bumblebee told me that you were on edge."
Ratchet vented, finally pulling away from his patient. "And with good reason. Look at him, Optimus. Look at his face. Recognize him?"
The medic stepped aside so that Optimus could get a good look at the Decepticon's face. Optimus looked over the older Cybertronian's face, recognition and shock dawning in his optics. He raised his head and met Ratchet's gaze.
"How is this possible? He was said to have died long ago, on Cybertron."
"I know. And yet, here he is. Alive, more or less. But the most important question is why is he here?"
Optimus looked back at the Decepticon. Yes, he was believed to have died on Cybertron, shortly before the attack on the Youth Sectors had taken place. None of the Autobots, himself included, had doubted that he had died. The only problem was that his body had never been found, but everyone had assumed that the Decepticons had either jettisoned it off-planet, salvaged it for parts, or had simply left it somewhere and the wandering swarms of Scraplets had disposed of it, leaving nothing behind.
Speculation aside, the fact remained that he had vanished, and everyone believed him to be dead, even though the question of what had happened to his body had never been answered. But now, the answer was obvious.
His body had never been found because he had never died in the first place.
Ratchet gave Optimus a thoughtful look. "You knew him before the war, right?" When Optimus nodded, Ratchet continued. "Well, Bumblebee said that shortly before he fell into stasis-lock, he was asking to see you, and that there was something you needed to know, remember?"
"Yes. It would not surprise me if he did have some bit of knowledge for us that we do not have," Optimus said thoughtfully. "His pre-war title back on Cybertron was 'The Knower', after all."
"I remember," Ratchet said tersely, returning his attention back to his patient. "However, I never encountered him before the war started; I only learned of his pre-war history by stories of his reputation." He glanced at Optimus again. "They were enough to make me wonder why he would ally himself with Megatron. But you have a better knowledge of what he did before the war started. Do you remember anything that might show why, even for a Decepticon as odd as he is, he would run himself to the point of stasis lock just to pass on information to you?"
"I might." Just as Ratchet had pointed out, Optimus had encountered the old Decepticon before the war had even started. Optimus narrowed his optics as he thought back to the day when he first met the old Decepticon, back when he was still a Youngling, back before he had been Prime and was just known as Orion Pax. If there were any clues as to the reason he had traveled this far-to what point and why-they were undoubtedly in that memory.
The size of the Hall of Records was a bit overwhelming to Orion Pax. It was his first day there, and already he had managed to get himself hopelessly lost in the building's maze of corridors and hallways.
'If Megatron finds out about this I'll never hear the end of it,' Orion thought glumly. 'What's the matter, Orion? Can't find your way around the Hall of Records? It's so easy a Sparkling could do it!' Orion cut off his thoughts of what his brother would say as he found himself in front of a large door. It was shut, and there was an old, faded sign on the door bearing a handful of Cybertronian Glyphs, spelling out the words "Quite Please-Important Research and Filing Occurring Inside".
He didn't want to disturb whoever was in the room, but he was lost and needed directions, so with only the slightest bit of hesitation, he reached up and opened the door.
The room was large, and there were shelves upon shelves of datapads and other types of records. Off in one corner, there was a large desk that had even more datapads scattered across its surface. Seated at the desk was the biggest Cybertronian he had ever seen. The Cybertronian had red, orange, and gold armor and appeared to be deeply absorbed in the reading of a datapad. He was clearly very old.
Orion stood uncomfortably in the doorway for a long time. He wanted to ask for directions to where he needed to go, but he didn't want to interrupt the Cybertronian's reading, and besides, he hadn't even seemed to notice Orion standing there.
He was about to leave the room and find someone else to ask for directions when the old Cybertronian cleared his voice capacitor, and spoke.
"May I help you?"
"Uh," Orion stammered. "I'm lost. I…I'm supposed to start working here today, but I took a wrong turn in a hallway and now I can't find where I'm supposed to go."
"Hmm." The older Cybertronian sounded thoughtful. He looked up from his datapad. "You are the new page for Alpha Trion, correct?"
Orion nodded, wondering how he knew. "Yes."
"Well, I have something that needs to be given to him, at any rate. Now, listen. From this room, you go down the hall to the right. Go left at the end of the hall, down the stairs, and the room Alpha Trion does his research in will be on your right." He looked through the datapads scattered on his desk, grumbling to himself. "One of these days, I will get this mess completely organized."
Pulling out a couple of the datapads, he handed them to Orion. "Here, young 'un. Take these to Alpha Trion for me."
Orion took the datapads, and looked around the room once more. He couldn't suppress a question before he went. "What are all these datapads about, sir?"
"History, what else?" The old one shrugged. "Of course, it is not normal history. It is history from ancient times, and it is very important. I need to get it organized and, in some cases, translated, so that it can be read by all and understood, so that the mistakes of the past do not happen again."
Orion frowned. "I thought our recorded history of the ancient times was only kept in the All-Spark, sir."
"Most of it is. However, a long time ago, records were kept in addition to what the All-Spark had, and some of the records of the All-Spark have been transcribed into separate records. Most of those records are lost, though. I have a few copies, and one of my duties is to try to find the missing ones." He gestured to the some of the datapads on the desk. "These here are the ones I am currently sorting through."
"When I have free time, can I read some of it?" Orion asked eagerly. He loved history, which was something Megatron was always teasing him about. He loved the old stories about the Primes, but Megatron simply scoffed and said they were nothing more than that-just stories.
The old one laughed. "Maybe someday, young 'un. Now, go on and report to Alpha Trion, or he will send someone out looking for you."
Orion headed to the door, but paused again and turned back. "My name is Orion Pax. What's your name, sir?"
The old Cybertronian smiled at him. "It is very nice to meet you, Orion. My name is Firestorm."
"History," Optimus said with conviction. "Before the war, he was in charge of the oldest records of the planet's history in the Hall of Records. Whatever his message is, it must have something to do with the very ancient history of Cybertron. Does he have any datapads with him?"
After a brief scan, Ratchet looked up and nodded. "He has a side compartment next to his Spark chamber. He is keeping them in there."
"He brought those datapads with him for a reason," Optimus replied. "I have no doubts about that."
"Hard to believe that he traveled all this way, pushing himself to the point of nearly offlining, just to deliver some old datapads to you," Ratchet muttered in disbelief. "It's not very Decepticon-like…not in the slightest."
"He never was very Decepticon-like," Optimus pointed out. This much was true; even though Firestorm had chosen the side of the Decepticons during the war, he had always been quite lenient with the Autobots and had never hurt them if he could avoid it; in fact, he had never been known to kill another. Many even questioned why he even chose to be a Decepticon in the first place when his ideals seemed to be more akin to the Autobots'. It was one of the most puzzling things that Optimus and the others had seen in the war, and they had never found an explanation for it.
"That may be true," Ratchet replied, frowning at the stasis-locked Firestorm. "But that still does not tell us how old datapads would be so important that he would do this to himself to bring them to you."
"When I first met him, he told me that the reason he took charge of the oldest records on Cybertron was because the history was very important, and that everyone needed to know of it so the mistakes of the past would never be made again." Optimus looked thoughtful. "Whatever is contained in those datapads must be very important, though I do not know what that may be. There may also be something else he was to give us." He paused. "How is he?"
"Stable, for now." Ratchet ran one last scan over his patient, and then faced Optimus once again. "He won't remain so indefinitely, however. I need to get him back to the base so I can hook him up to an Energon feed-it's the only way to get him to completely recover. We'll have to carry him to the side of the road so we can transport him back to base. If we follow his entry trail, we will have a clear path to the roadside and not have to worry about knocking any more trees down." He returned his gaze briefly to Firestorm. "We have to move quickly-the Energon infusion I gave him won't last for long."
Optimus nodded. "Let us hurry, then."
Bumblebee had struggled to lift the large Decepticon, and had not been able to even partially do so, but that was understandable, as he was not all that big, and even though Bumblebee was strong for his size he lifting a Decepticon of Firestorm's size was beyond his abilities. Fortunately, Ratchet and Optimus were large and strong enough to lift Firestorm's weight easily between the two of them. As they walked, following the trail Firestorm had made as he had crashed into the clearing, Optimus commed Bumblebee.
The younger Autobot responded immediately. Yes, sir?
We are on our way back with the Decepticon now. We are going to take him back to the base so that Ratchet can treat him properly.
Is he going to be alright? Bumblebee asked.
As long as Ratchet can get his Energon levels back up, he will be. And we all know that Ratchet will be able to do so. Optimus paused. And I know that Ratchet will want to take care of your injuries, as well.
They're not bad, Bumblebee protested.
Ratchet will be the judge of that, Optimus responded firmly.
In a short while, the two older Autobots emerged from the tree line and approached the flatbed trailer that Optimus had pulled along in the knowledge that they would need to transport an injured Cybertronian. Sam, Carly, Wheelie, and Brains were still standing where they had been before the Prime had left to go assist Ratchet; now, however, Bumblebee was crouched next to them, holding Blaster, who was trying to hide in the young Autobot's arms at the sight of the two much larger Autobots carrying another, even larger Cybertronian between them.
"Need-any help?" Bumblebee asked via his radio, standing up. Blaster gave a startled sounding squeak at the movement, tightening his hold on his caretaker's armor.
"Thank you for the offer, Bumblebee, but it looks to me as if you already have your hands full," Optimus replied, nodding in Blaster's direction with a slight chuckle. "Ratchet and I have things handled."
As Optimus helped Ratchet carefully place Firestorm on the trailer, he heard gasps of astonishment from Sam and Carly, as well as hushed whispers from Wheelie and Brains.
"He's gigantic," Carly whispered.
"Uh, he's unconscious, right?" Sam asked, eyeing the motionless Firestorm warily. "He's not going to wake up and attack us, is he?"
"He is in stasis-lock and until I can get his Energon levels back up to normal, he will remain that way," Ratchet responded briskly as he secured Firestorm to the trailer. "He will not be waking up and attacking anyone."
"Look at his Decepticon insignia," Wheelie said suddenly, pointing. "Thing's a scratched-up mess."
The humans did not have very good night vision, but once they made the proper adjustments to their optics, the Autobots did, and they could clearly see what Wheelie was talking about as they looked to where he was pointing. Ratchet looked at the scratched insignia with narrowed optics, Optimus looked thoughtful, and Bumblebee looked mildly confused.
"Sorry, but why does it matter whether or not his insignia is scratched up?" Carly asked.
"One almost near constant in the war was the pride each Cybertronian carried over which side they chose," Optimus explained. "Whether we are in our normal forms or in our alternate modes, we wear our faction insignias proudly-they are symbols for what we believe in. As such, every Autobot, and, on the other side, every Decepticon, takes great care of their faction insignia. It is very unusual, almost unheard of, for any Cybertronian to allow their insignia to become damaged like this."
Ratchet was examining the scratches on and around the Deception insignia, frowning as he did so. "It almost looks like he tried to claw it off of himself."
"So…does that mean he's ashamed of being a Decepticon?" Sam asked hesitatingly. "I mean, why else would he try to rip off his symbol?"
"You could be right, Sam," Optimus responded, with a slight nod in the human's direction. It was as good a theory as any. If Firestorm had tried to take off his insignia, it could be a sign that he wanted to permanently renounce himself of the Decepticon cause. But, even still, they should be careful. Optimus vented wearily. They'd learned the previous year that sometimes things that seemed too good to be true could actually be too good to be true.
Yes, they'd learned that the hard way.
"We need to leave. The sooner we get him back to base, the better chance he has of recovering." Ratchet finished covering Firestorm with a tarp to shield him from prying eyes, and then turned to Bumblebee. Even though he knew the extent of the scout's injuries, he still needed to be sure of one thing. "Can you Transform?"
Bumblebee nodded, replying via his comm as he returned a once-again whimpering Blaster to Carly. Yes, I think so. My armor's all that's damaged.
"Good. Optimus, are you ready?"
"Yes," Optimus responded, initiating his Transformation sequence and backing up so that he could connect to and pull the trailer that Firestorm now rested on.
Ratchet followed suit, Transforming into his vehicle mode, and Bumblebee did so as well, swinging his doors open once he was in Camaro mode so that his family could get in. Ratchet flashed his headlights at Bumblebee. "Just follow us to the base, Bumblebee. It's not all that far from here."
"Okay," Bumblebee replied, having no trouble in pulling that particular word from the radio.
"Ratchet, you take the lead. Bumblebee, you follow close behind me," Optimus commanded. "I will comm ahead and alert Prowl and Sideswipe that we have an…unusual guest on the way. We will need to make the necessary preparations so that our human allies will not feel on edge by the presence of a Decepticon on base."
Bumblebee and Ratchet took their positions, and Optimus gave one more order.
The small convoy pulled back onto the road and moved in the direction of the Air Force base, driving slow enough as to not be reckless and fast enough to get to the base in time to help the old Decepticon before the Energon infusion he had been given wore out, and his Spark faded.
And, if Optimus's hunch about the importance of the datapads Firestorm carried, the likelihood of an additional message, and his possible renouncing of his Decepticon ties was correct, that was something that they could not afford to let happen.
Both Sideswipe and Prowl met them in vehicle mode at the gates leading into the base. Prowl turned around and led the way to the main hangar, and Sideswipe slipped into formation behind Bumblebee, flashing his headlights at his younger friend once in greeting, and Bumblebee responded in kind. The Autobot scout could basically feel the anxiety and caution radiating off of the older Autobots, and it was very unnerving, to say the least. The tense atmosphere was even affecting his passengers-human and Autobot. Sam and Carly were silent; Wheelie and Brains were still talking in hushed undertones, and Blaster was also being quiet, his whimpers finally stopping, though he was fidgeting a lot. The excitement they had been feeling about visiting everyone at the Autobot base had pretty much faded, replaced by uneasiness.
Bumblebee couldn't remember a time before when they had been on edge like this outside of an actual battle or a possible battle situation. Bumblebee also didn't understand why Optimus and Ratchet were being quiet about who the Decepticon was. It was obvious that they both knew him. Were they waiting until they were all safely inside the base before letting everyone know what was going on, and who he was? If so, why? Bumblebee was really confused, but he trusted Optimus and Ratchet, so he was willing to not push for answers, even though he really wanted them.
"Director Mearing is not happy about this at all," Prowl informed them as they prepared to enter the hangar that housed the main hub for the Autobots, and led to Ratchet's makeshift medbay. "I'm letting you know, so you have a fair warning and can brace yourselves."
"I suspected as much," Optimus replied. "I will deal with her; hopefully, I can make her understand how necessary this is."
"Better you than any of us, sir," Sideswipe added. "She's really upset-she's been giving Colonel Lennox an-what is it the humans say-an earful, for the last thirty minutes."
When they pulled into the hangar, Bumblebee could see exactly what Sideswipe was talking about. Director Mearing was standing in front of Will Lennox, apparently deep in a heated argument with him as she waved one arm in the direction of the entrance the Autobots used to enter and exit the hangar. She looked angry, but Will merely looked annoyed. He was holding his ground in the argument very well, but Autobot help would obviously be needed to end it.
Optimus initiated his Transform sequence, detaching from the trailer containing the stasis-locked old Decepticon. Taking the cue from their leader, Ratchet, Prowl, Sideswipe, and, after letting his family out, Bumblebee, all Transformed back into their robot modes as well, coming up to stand next to the Prime-except for Ratchet, who returned his attention to the Decepticon on the trailer, scanning him to see if he was still stable. The noise from the multiple Transformations caught the attention of both Mearing and Will, and they both turned at the same time to face the Autobots.
Will's gaze fell onto the Decepticon. Eyes widening, he opened his mouth to say something, but before the words got out, Mearing stepped forward to confront Optimus Prime.
"I don't know what you think you're doing, bringing a Decepticon to the base," Mearing said hotly as she gestured towards the trailer, glaring up at Optimus.
"He is injured and needs help," Optimus replied evenly. "It is not the Autobot way to turn someone in need of assistance away, even if they are a Decepticon."
"Injured or not, and whether he needs help or not, he's still a Decepticon. When he wakes up, he could attack."
"He has not attacked anyone yet, and I have no reason to believe that he will while he stays here."
"Oh, really? Then what about him?" She gestured towards Bumblebee, who blinked in surprise. "Do you mean to tell me that this Decepticon is not responsible for what are obviously injuries all over his armor?"
Bumblebee shook his head, holding up his hands in denial, trying to get the message across that he had not been attacked. He could tell that Mearing understood the message, but could see in her expression that she didn't believe him. He looked at Optimus for help.
"Bumblebee," Optimus responded, looking briefly back at the young scout, "Was not attacked by this Decepticon. He received those burns putting out a fire that would have raged out of control if he had not acted. While it is true that the fire was caused by the arrival of this Decepticon, it was not intentional or intended to be aggressive. He did not attack Bumblebee when he had the chance; if he had wanted to cause harm, he would have done so upon landing. He did not, so I believe he has other intentions beyond wanting to fight."
Mearing was not backing down. "Well, how do you know that for sure? I don't think your belief that he won't do anything is enough. After what happened the last time-"
"We have learned from our mistakes," Optimus cut her off. Nearby, Bumblebee flinched at the tone of voice Optimus was using. Anger, regret, sadness- all of those emotions were present in the Prime's voice, and judging from the look on Mearing's face, she knew from Optimus's response that she had crossed the line. Optimus paused for a very brief moment to calm himself, and then continued, still with the tiniest bit of those emotions present in his voice. "I have learned from my mistakes. The name of this Decepticon is Firestorm, and, though I have reason to believe he will not harm anyone, he will not be left unattended at any time during his stay on base. We will have a guard present with him at all times. If, and only if, he can prove to us truthfully that he means us no harm, will we relent our caution, I assure you." He gave Mearing a hard look. "Is that enough?"
For once, Mearing actually backed down. Her response was subdued. "Yes, it's enough. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."
Optimus nodded curtly, but did not say anything else to her. Instead, he turned to face Ratchet. "Is he still stable?"
"Yes, but he won't be for long," Ratchet replied as he looked over the readouts from his latest set of scans. "I need to get him to the medbay now."
"Can you get him there on your own?" Optimus asked, gesturing towards the trailer.
"On my own, no. With a little help, yes." Ratchet looked at Optimus. "He needs a guard, anyway."
"Sideswipe, please accompany Ratchet to the medbay," Optimus ordered.
Sideswipe nodded, and moved to help Ratchet push the trailer towards the medbay. They had barely started moving when Ratchet turned back around and looked at Bumblebee.
"Bumblebee, medbay, now. Those burns of yours also need treatment."
The young Autobot hesitated, looking down at his human family. Sam shrugged up at him.
"You better go, Bee; you know that Ratchet is scary when he gets mad. Plus, you'll feel better after he takes care of your burns."
I can't argue with that, Bumblebee thought, nodding in agreement. He was noticing the painful stinging of his burns more and more as time went by. He moved to follow Ratchet, but was halted by a weight attaching to his right leg. He looked down to see that Blaster had somehow managed to wriggle out of Carly's arms, onto the floor, and had firmly attached himself to his caretaker's leg. The little Sparkling was whimpering pitifully again, and Bumblebee thought he knew why-the evening so far had been stressful for him and the others, but Blaster was extremely young and couldn't handle stress as well. Not to mention the fact that Blaster was not used to being around any other Autobots besides Bumblebee, Wheelie, Brains, and very occasionally Optimus and Ratchet; seeing so many others was making Blaster nervous, as he didn't know them very well. Bumblebee knew the little Sparkling was feeling upset and overwhelmed by everything, and was turning to him for comfort.
Bumblebee knelt down and picked Blaster up, detaching him from his leg as gently as he could. He wished that he could stay and comfort the little Sparkling, but knew that he couldn't; Ratchet would get upset and he couldn't take Blaster with him-the medbay wasn't a good place for a Sparkling like Blaster who tried to find obscure hiding places everywhere; he might get into something dangerous on accident. Bumblebee warbled soothingly to Blaster as he handed him to Sam. Blaster cried out in protest, trying vainly to hold onto his caretaker. He liked Sam and Carly, but Bumblebee was always the one he turned to when he was really scared or upset (it was a Sparkling's instinct to turn to the Cybertronian mainly raising them, but of course Blaster was too young to know this), and as Bumblebee always gave him comfort in those situations, Blaster couldn't understand why his caretaker was leaving him instead of soothing him like he normally did.
"No go, Bee!"
The young Autobot rubbed Blaster's head gently with one finger, finding a snippet from the radio to reassure the Sparkling, though he didn't know if Blaster would fully understand it. "I'll-be-back soon." Blaster quieted down a little, but still made a sniffling sound every now and then. Bumblebee looked worriedly at Sam.
"Don't worry, Bee," Sam assured his friend. He gave an amused smile. "Blaster will be just fine with his Uncle Sam and Aunt Carly."
"We'll take him to the other Sparklings," Carly added. "I'm sure having some friends to play with will keep him from being too upset."
Bumblebee chirped gratefully at them, gave Blaster's head one more affectionate rub, and then stood up and followed Ratchet and Sideswipe to the medbay, catching up and helping to push the trailer alongside his friends.
Ratchet worked quickly and efficiently to get Firestorm hooked up to the Energon feed. Sideswipe was fulfilling his assignment as guard by standing watch at the interior entrance to the medbay. Bumblebee had watched Ratchet treat the old Decepticon for a minute, then he stepped forward and asked over his comm if there was anything he could do to help. The medic was grateful for the younger Autobot's assistance, but having Bumblebee help him reminded him of Jolt, how the apprentice medic he had considered his son had always helped him out in the medbay, and that caused his Spark to twist painfully.
Bumblebee must have picked up on his thoughts, because the younger Autobot looked up at him with sadness in his optics as well, and Ratchet remembered that Jolt and Bumblebee had been good friends, too. Working in the medbay must also be bringing back memories for Bumblebee.
I'm sorry, Bumblebee told him.
"You don't have to apologize, Bumblebee," Ratchet vented. "It would've been the same anyway, whether you were helping me or not."
I know you still miss him.
"Yes." Ratchet looked at Bumblebee. He had a hunch that missing Jolt wasn't the only reason why Bumblebee seemed upset. "Just like you still miss Ironhide."
Bumblebee lowered his head slightly. Yeah, exactly like that. I guess it was in the back of my processor all day, but it wasn't until I got here and saw the others that it really hit me that I can never just pop into the base and visit Ironhide again. I don't know why it took me so long to realize it. It's…it's been a year.
"There are some things you never get used to, Bumblebee." Ratchet made another adjustment to the Energon feed. He looked in the direction of the main hangar, where he knew Beachcomber and First Aid were. "But it's okay to move on."
Yeah, it is, Bumblebee replied, thinking of Blaster. He hoped that he would do as good of a job raising Blaster as Ironhide had done raising him.
Ratchet met Bumblebee's optics. He knew exactly what the younger mech was thinking. "You will, Bumblebee. You will."
The younger Autobot watched as Ratchet ran one more scan, made one last adjustment to the Energon feed, and stepped back, venting in relief.
"There, far more stable than he was on the Energon infusion alone. His levels are climbing and he should be fully recovered in a few days." That said, the medic turned his attention fully to Bumblebee. "All right, then, Youngling, it's your turn."
Bumblebee sat on one of the empty berths as Ratchet readied the Energon solution that would both sooth the burns and cause Bumblebee's own repair systems to heal the damage to his armor faster. Once it was ready, he turned and began to spray the solution onto the minor burns. He frowned, his optics straying to the larger, more severe burn on Bumblebee's chest armor. The paint on and around that particular burn was singed almost completely off, and the metal beneath looked slightly buckled and warped. In short, it looked awful and doubtlessly felt so.
"How on Earth did you get that one, Bumblebee? It looks too serious to simply be caused from putting out an entry fire."
Bumblebee ducked his head slightly in embarrassment. One of the pieces that broke off during his entry slammed into me when I was in vehicle mode. It hurt really bad and…and I had a spinout because of it. I pulled out before I crashed, though, He added quickly when he saw Ratchet's frown deepen.
"I'll need a stronger solution for that one, then. And I see you've managed to short out your voice capacitor again. I told you not to use it until it heals properly, which it won't if you keep talking with it before it fully heals," Ratchet said in admonishment, finishing up the treatment of the minor burns and heading over to the supply cabinet to get the more concentrated solution for the more serious burn, as well as a small plasma laser tool to treat the damaged voice capacitor. "Now, I'm going to treat it once I'm done taking care of your burns, and this time you'd better not abuse it before it heals."
Ratchet? Bumblebee asked hesitatingly, wary of irritating the medic further.
"Yes?" Ratchet turned to see the Youngling giving Firestorm a curious, worried glance. When Bumblebee turned back to face him, the medic could see that Bumblebee was barely able to hold his curiosity about the old Decepticon in, and was now going to ask him as many questions as he could.
Optimus said his name was Firestorm, but what's his story? How do you and Optimus know him?
Ratchet shook his head. "I'm not the one to tell you, Bumblebee. Ask Optimus; he's the one who knew Firestorm long before the factions even existed properly. But…after that conversation with Director Mearing, I doubt he'll really want to divulge too much information right now."
Oh, okay. Bumblebee looked disappointed.
"You can ask him anyway, Bumblebee," Ratchet continued as he began to treat the more severe burn. "He might tell you something, at least, if not the whole story."
Optimus looked up from his conversation with Will-about the precautions they would have to take as long as Firestorm's motives were not clear-when he saw Bumblebee walking into the main part of the hangar as he returned from the medbay. There were shiny patches all over his armor-the places where his burns were-and the young Autobot kept rubbing his throat and making coughing noises.
Ah, Optimus thought. Ratchet must have worked on his voice capacitor, as well. The Prime was relieved to see that Bumblebee's injuries had all been successfully treated and that the young scout seemed to be no worse for the wear otherwise. Bumblebee looked over and saw Optimus watching him, and, after a moment's hesitation, he came over to stand in front of the Prime. Will excused himself and headed over to where Sam and Carly-Blaster still being held by Sam-were keeping an eye on the playing Sparklings.
"I already apologized to Sam, Carly, Blaster, Wheelie, and Brains for this not being the celebration that we intended to welcome you to your new home," Optimus told Bumblebee, looking at the younger Autobot, regret at the change of plans that had been forced to occur clearly showing in his optics.
It's okay. Bumblebee fidgeted slightly under the Prime's apologetic gaze, and then looked up. Sir…I…I'm sorry for panicking earlier, when I found Firestorm…before you got there. I know I shouldn't have.
"There is nothing to apologize for, Bumblebee," Optimus told the younger Autobot firmly but gently. "You have not been in situation like this one for a year. Your reaction was perfectly understandable and there was nothing wrong with it. You were able to calm down and carry out your tasks in the end, and that is all that matters."
Bumblebee hesitated a bit before asking the question he had asked Ratchet earlier. How do you know Firestorm, sir?
Optimus vented wearily. "I met him when I was a Youngling myself. Before the war started, he worked in the Hall of Records, and was called Firestorm the Knower. He was in charge of recording and keeping track of the most ancient historical documents on Cybertron. Firestorm was very passionate about history then. He told me, when I first met him, that history is extremely important and that everyone must learn from it."
You think that what he needs to tell you is related to the history he was in charge of? Bumblebee looked curiously back in the direction of the medbay.
"I have no doubt about it."
Bumblebee looked back up at Optimus. Sir, I believe what you said about him not being a threat to anyone. I got the same feeling from him when I first saw him.
After a moment's pause, Optimus spoke up again. "I know that you are still not on active duty in NEST, Bumblebee. However, if you want to help out around the base while Firestorm is here, especially since Sam will be working here now, you are more than welcome to."
Really? Bumblebee looked up eagerly. That'd be great! And Blaster will be able to come here too so he can play with the others?
I'll do it, sir, Bumblebee replied, his optics bright with excitement. I'll help out as much as I can.
Optimus chuckled slightly at the younger Autobot's enthusiasm. They'd all missed having Bumblebee around base, missed his cheerful attitude and how willing he was to help everyone, and now, he would be joining them there again, not matter for how short a time. With the uncertainty Firestorm's arrival had brought, they would need every bit of cheerfulness they could get. He gave Bumblebee a gentle, affectionate clap on the shoulder as he headed towards the medbay to check up on Ratchet and their Decepticon guest. "It is good to see you again, Bumblebee."
It's good to be back, sir, Bumblebee replied, the smile he could not show with his faceplates shining in his optics instead.