Chapter Seven: Ancients
"You probably shouldn't do that."
Samantha passed only the briefest of glances to her new companion before returning to her inspection.
She sat high in the rafters, heedless of the occupant in the cell beneath her and his nervous worry at her being so high, and picked at her new skin with a medic's scalpel. She'd found tools in the derelict medical wing of the drop ship meant for the more appropriately-sized drones and minicons. The room hadn't been maintained, many parts scavenged over the eons, and that wasn't to say that it had been well-equipped to begin with. Medical wings on drop ships were only purposed for bare-bones operations or emergency situations, the bigger and better stocked medbays on the main ships a crew's and medic's calling card.
Still, it had tools enough for what she deigned to tinker with.
"Lemme rephrase; I'm askin' you to please not do that." Ryder reached out to take the scalpel from her hand. "It unnerves me."
She yanked her hand – and the scalpel – out of his reach. She felt her eyes flare with heat and energy as she glared him down.
The big man sighed deeply before taking a seat on a rafter well above hers. She was perched in snapping distance of the cell's prisoner and while she was comfortable, she knew that he would not be. The Cybertronians trapped beneath where they sat and in the other cells were older than Optimus or Megatron. In truth, they were older than the old-timer Jetfire. They were some of the first of their kind. A part of the very, very few that had developed a sentience of their own separate from that of the reincarnated souls of the Creators.
She hummed as a devastatingly sharp talon, one larger than her whole body, caressed her calf with supreme gentility. She giggled as the tip of the talon scraped against the entire base of her foot. An involuntary kick had her toes clinking into yet another talon as the being beneath her rumbled joyfully.
He enjoyed playing with her too tiny, still too fragile body. Despite all of her body's changes, she would without a doubt splatter into a million pieces from the force of one of his servos pushing her into a wall.
That fragility enamored and endeared the titan to her almost as surely as the Allspark's power did.
"Why ain't these guys let out yet?" Ryder was timid when he gestured towards the behemoth contentedly playing with her feet. "If they're dangerous then why the hell are you lettin' them do that?"
"They'll unbalance the ship," she replied distractedly as she tossed a solitonic-regulator – a grapefruit sized piece of machinery meant to track and control energon flow within a Cybertonian's frame at the point of repair – at the being's head. He chirped with good humor and allowed the regulator to ping off of his red optic.
He tickled her foot again.
"Stop it!" She yelped when she nearly dislodged the platelet she was attempting to explore and gouged into the pool of pure energon in her arm. A hiss of pain slipped from her lips. She yanked the scalpel away, set it in her lap, and cuddled her arm to her chest protectively. The platelet throbbed as it resettled. "They're too big for this dropship. They know they'll tip us in our current heading and speeds so they're content to stay where they are."
"You okay? Want me to take a look?"
Sam peaked at the self-inflicted wound on her forearm, not surprised to see it already healed. The energon that had managed to leak out, however, would be dangerous to Ryder at present or toany other human. Energon was not a human's friend. Not as quick acting as sulfuric acid, but just as volatile.
"No," she groused, using her stained white blouse to wipe at the liquid. "I just wanted to see what I was made of."
She found herself screeching as a set of deconstructed forceps and grapplers latched onto her legs simultaneously and yanked. Sam scrambled for the rafter, another bar to the being's cage, instinctively. She missed.
"Shit!" She cried as she dropped into the massive palm of the ancient titan. More grappling tendrils latched onto her clothing while she wiggled under the talons that began to close around her.
"Fuck! Optimus!" Ryder was on his feet above her and scrambling to bring himself lower. "It's got Sam!"
She could hear the others scrambling towards the cell she and the titan were in, could feel their worry for her bombarding her through the bonds, and rushed to calm them. Even so, she goggled up at the red optics of the being holding her. He brought himself down to a crouch, his massive form shielding her from the others' views.
"I'm fine! It's all okay." She endeavored to calm her heartrate. The titan was still purring over her. He seemed unfazed by the threat of the others. In point of fact, she could feel that he wasn't worried in the slightest. He was…amused. He was cooing!
When she tried to shake the grapplers off they grabbed for her skin instead. She remained pinned on her back despite how she kicked her legs and flailed her arms. The titan's opposite talon reached into his cupped servo to tickle her stomach and pet against her cheek.
"Grimlock…share!" Came the snarled reprimand of one of the titan's cohorts. Strafe banged against his cell's bars. He was smaller than Grimlock, but not by much. He reached through the bars beckoning for her. The forcefields were a precaution she'd turned off once she'd realized who were in the cells and that they were no immediate danger to them, but was somewhat regretting now that they were going to pass her around like a favorite stuffed teddy bear.
"Grimlock's Baby." The Dinobot leader rumbled down to her, his servo raising and talons splaying out so that he could nuzzle his battlemask against her. His purr was loud enough to send a vibration through her whole body.
"Share!" Scorn reached for her now, too, his splayed and taloned feet stomping with irritation.
The Quad and Optimus stood dozens of feet shorter than Grimlock when he stood and the others weren't much shorter than their leader. The servos they held out were well above the traditional-sized helms of the Autobots. Grimlock passed her over to Slag with a final tickle to her bared feet and remained leaned against the bars as though to stay as close to her as possible.
"Allspark baby." Slag purred at her, the English word for sparkling a throaty rumble in his vocalizer. He tickled and caressed her much the same way as his leader had. She detected true warmth and a smile in him. "Dinobot's precious Baby."
"I am not a baby," she snapped at Slag as he chuckled happily at her.
"Baby hurt herself," Strafe snatched her from Slag as she was handed over, an intrusive scan thrumming over her body. She eeped. She had not expected that! That scan had been intense and complex. While most Cybertronians had the ability to perform scans that could assess general health and stability, both in humans and on the things around them, only medical personnel had the deep-tissue scanners.
Strafe was a medic?
"Strafe take care of Baby." She yipped once as she was rolled onto her stomach in his servo and her already healed arm was pinned outwardly by the too-tiny appendages medics tended towards pulling out of nowhere for detailed repairs. The grapplers they'd all maneuvered her with, the 'limbs' branching out from between the plating of their palms and digits, kept her immobile as the appendages descended.
"Wait wait wait!" She pulsed Allspark energy into Strafe's servo in an attempt to shock him into releasing her, but Strafe outright bellowed in laughter. His free servo caressed her back lovingly. He didn't even flinch.
"Baby's pet fall. Grimlock help pet so Baby not upset."
Sam was sufficiently distracted from Strafe's meddling with her arm – it didn't hurt at any rate – to see Grimlock reach up with a more careless servo to snatch Ryder from the bar he'd been perched upon. The human was almost comically dwarfed by even one of the Dinobot's talons. Ryder shouted obscenities even as he was quickly maneuvered down to the ground and pushed with a big toe out of the leader's cell.
"I ain't no pet," the man grumbled as he straightened his shirt out.
"Baby's pet," Grimlock snorted before training his optics back onto her.
"I am not…a…baby!" She reiterated before wailing as something warm and metallic began to slither up over her legs. It moved quickly and silently to coast over her buttocks, then her back, before settling to make itself a home around her neck and into her hair. She felt the weight of her hastily-made braid – as her hair had regrown to its ankle-length sometime during her transformation – grow with whatever the thing was.
"Kalisdahk help Baby." Strafe nuzzled her back before releasing her so that she could be transferred over to his final 'brother'. She heard the others below them vent heavily at whatever they saw. She was too busy rolling on the new servo to pay attention.
"Baby ours." Scorn rumbled, his battlemask instantly against her body. Unlike his brothers, Scorn's left arm was a spiked whip of sorts, the base of it widest at his shoulder and thinning out to a jagged point at his peds. He couldn't touch her like the others had, but he could still show his affections.
Sam shoved her foot into an engraved Cybertronian glyph in his battlemask and pushed. Scorn laughed, his hot venting puffing over her body. She fumbled with the thing caging her throat and tangling in her hair. It wasn't tight, but it was warm and she felt her own power pulsing through it. Her brows furrowed as she dug for the meaning to that word Strafe had spoken.
Kalisdahk. An ancient Cybertronian talisman, a holdover from the Dynasty. It had been utilized as a protective carrier for the Allspark. It was capable of masking the Allspark's great power from those that sought it, but it was also a semi-living entity on its own. It was capable of harnessing the Allspark's power and converting it into an impenetrable shield. It enabled the Allspark to use its power to create or destroy with full focus without fear of it coming to harm.
But that Kalisdahk has been gone since before Megatronus-the-Fallen broke from the original Dynasty. How do they have it? Did they steal it from Fortress Maximus or was it the other way around?
"Baby see pet now. Tiny warriors are nervous of Scorn with Baby." Scorn's red optics flared brightly at the assembled Autobots in censure even as he crouched to let her slide onto her own two feet. "Tiny warriors should know better."
Samantha hurried out of the cell. It wasn't that she was frightened of the Dinobots. No, far from it. She was afraid they'd scoop her up again and play 'pass the baby' until their joints rusted.
"Are you okay?" Ryder took her into his arms and held her close for several moments. She felt his hands skim her back inquisitively. She was the first to pull away far enough for him to look down onto her face. She jerked a nod. One of his brows perked up high. "You sure they're in there for stability's sake?"
"I didn't ask for an 'I told you so'." She shoved him away from her and turned with a huff. The others had very reluctantly gone back to their posts as soon as she slid through the wide bars of Scorn's cell.
"You're still gettin' one."
"Nobody likes a smartass."
"Mister Joyce," the accented voice of one of his Beijing secretaries brings his attention away from the labs below him. Attinger had just left the room to discuss more private matters with his cronies.
Fingers steepled in front of his lips, Joshua analyzed the situation at hand.
They had the Seed now. It sat beside him even now, the envoy from Lockdown's ship having arrive an hour after their arrival. In the next week he would be sending out a finite crew to discharge the Seed in the Mongolian desert away from innocents. They would have enough Transformium to keep operations going for the next five-hundred years or so. Of course, that was all contingent upon how deep the charge burrowed beneath the Earth's surface. Regardless, his plans were finally coming to fruition.
While he knew that the military, and Cemetery Wind to a large degree, would commission and commandeer a contingent of Cyclons – as they would come to be known – for their never-ending pursuit of war and strife, he also banked on the eighty-five percent of his creations propelling the human race out from under their Cybertronian 'neighbors'.
He could hear that woman – Samantha Witwicky – as clearly now as he had back in his Chicago headquarters. A total remodel now. She had said that the Transformers, her precious aliens, were alive. He didn't understand how that could be, but a niggling sense kept telling him to listen to what she had spoken so clearly.
How could a machine be alive? Not simply moving and adept at mimicry, but truly alive. Was it possible for a soul to exist within a metallic frame? It didn't seem probable or possible. Of course, if he gave it any thought, it didn't make any logical sense that humans had souls. What were they but an evolved mammalian species? They were hunks of bone, muscle, and vast amounts of tissue holding it all together. They had brains and other organs that allowed their bodies to function, but what sparked a self awareness in the human race? Where did their consciousness come from? What gave them a soul?
Was it so far of a stretch to imagine the Transformers as having souls the same as they did?
Beyond all that, he couldn't outright deny that the Transformers' home world crossing through that Gate hundreds of years ago hadn't helped the planet Earth. There hadn't been a single meteorological issue in centuries. The ground seemed revitalized. Forests were growing at an exponential rate. Wildlife was thriving. The waters of the Earth were cleaner than they ever had been before. He was a scientist. He knew that the Grid granted some benefits to Earth, but he suspected that the Spires drove deep down and cured their planet from the inside.
He disliked the Transformers for the simple fact that he saw them as competition to the human race. What would it take for them to be rendered as endangered as the rhinos of long-ago times before the assimilation of the two worlds? The Transformers were superior in almost every way to humankind. They were stronger. Faster. More intelligent. …and they had all but destroyed their own world in their wars. Humans were no longer the dominant species on Earth.
His inventions, his Cyclons – made from the very same essence that created the Transformers – would save the human race. They would be able to make greater strides on their own with the Cyclons on their side. They wouldn't have to ask for aid from the Transformers. They could build, grow, and explore well beyond where they had ever dreamed possible. There would be endless opportunity…
"Mister Joyce!" He startled, so thoroughly drawn into his own thoughts that he'd disregarded the aide. His brows furrowed at the sleek silver phone she held out to him. Her look was stern. "You have an urgent phone call, Mister Joyce."
"Who is it?" He asked even as he reached to take the device.
"What?!" Joshua shot a look to the doorway, relieved to see that Attinger had skulked away to some dark corner somewhere. He didn't need the man overhearing this particular conversation. He waved off the aide. "This is Joyce."
"Keep the Seed away from Galvatron." So it was her. He would never forget her voice. He'd heard it in school when he grew up as his history teachers replayed coverage of the Witwicky woman and the aliens she brought with her. Now, he'd heard it for himself. Hers was a voice that undulated with power. It was husky and smooth all at once. She had a voice that could bring men to their knees.
"How did you get this number?" Was his unintelligent question. He felt like bashing his own skull against the wall. He was thankful that she ignored the inane query.
"Assure me that you understand what I am saying, Joshua. Galvatron wants that Seed. You cannot let him have it."
"How are you still alive?" While he hadn't been aware initially that Attinger had sent out his hound Savoy to kill the woman, he had no doubt that the officer was certain of his success in annihilating his long-standing opposition. Attinger practically preened like a peacock when Savoy had called to state that the 'alien lover' was no longer an issue.
"Careful, Joshua. This call is being monitored. If they think you had anything to do with my kidnapping and torture, you'll be praying to every God out there for salvation." Samantha tsked him mildly.
"I wasn't privy to what happened to you until after. I am sorry." And he was. No one should have to face their own death as she had. Of course, he was beginning to wonder if he'd been the one to snuff out the lives of her precious Transformers in the same way in which Attinger had attempted to snuff her out.
He shook his head.
"Galvatron is under my control. He isn't a threat."
"What did I tell you before, Joyce? You don't have the power to do what you have been doing. Galvatron is tainted by something far stronger and far more dangerous than you can possibly imagine." He could hear her exhale loudly. "Galvatron is going to make an army of your prototypes. He's going to lay waste to Beijing, steal the Seed, and use it to destroy the world as we know it. You know I'm right. You know there is something in your Galvatron that you can't analyze or control."
He did know that. It was the main reason he'd been so pensive about the Transformers to begin with. Galvatron spoke. He broke out of pattern. He acted feely.
That wasn't supposed to happen.
"We're coming, Joshua. We're coming and I hope to God that we're not too late." Silence for a heartbeat. "Do the right thing. Don't let Galvatron take the Seed."
Samantha disconnected without further word and Joshua found himself looking at the blank screen. He imagined he would appear shell-shocked or dumbfounded to anyone that might walk in on him. He knew he'd never be able to trace her call back; would never be able to open communication with her in return. His staff had attempted to make contact with her in the past. He'd hired the best hackers he could find.
The woman was as good as a ghost when she wanted to be.
"Congratulations, Joyce." Attinger returned to the room, his arms flailing out in exaggerated joy. "You finally have the Seed. Or should I say that we have the Seed? When can we start mass production?"
Joshua rose from his seat as steadily as he could, his eyes trailing between both of the agents. Savoy had entered behind Attinger and comfortably seated himself in one of the vacant office chairs. Both men looked at him just as intensely, suspicion sharpening their gazes.
"It will take some time," he evaded as best he could.
"How much time?"
He turned to look through the glass wall and doorway into the frontal office. Su Yueming was yelling into the two-way intercom system, her precisely groomed tail jerking with her angry movements.
"I need to gather all of my collectors. I need dedicated personnel. I have to revamp security. It could take a while." Attinger stormed up behind him, fisting his hand into his designer suit jacket to thrust his around. Joshua felt himself thrown into the wall, warping the video playing as his body was smashed against the crystals beneath the screen. He looked up into the Cemetery Wind Commander's dark eyes.
"You backing out on me, Joshua? You understand that that would be treason against your fellow Americans?"
"I'm not backing out." A lie. "It will simply take time."
"Time we don't have. There are American lives at stake, Joyce. Your technology is imperative to the future of not only America, but our human race. The Transformers have plagued us long enough."
Su stormed into the room undaunted by the fuming agent manacling her associate's tie. She shoved between the two men, leaning forward enough to whisper in his own ear. "Your Galvatron activated himself."
"Have a car brought around," he whispered back, his eyes locking on Attinger's narrowed ones. "Discreetly."
Su released him without another were, her fingers snapping for the attention of the security agents scattered throughout the front office. They scurried like good little worker bees to do her bidding.
"Change of plans. We need to move." He shooed his hands at the agents, urging them out of the room and towards the bank of elevators.
"What's going on?" Savoy looked even more primal than he did under normal circumstances. His right hand fondled his gun.
"The end, gentlemen."