Come on Up for the Rising
A.N.: Transformers belongs to Hasbro and whoever they have allowed the rights to it, which certainly doesn't include me. Likewise the West Wing characters that appear now and then belong to John Wells Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television Production Inc., and NBC TV. They don't belong to me either. No money changed hands, etc. The title is from Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising." All I own are my OCs.
If I used the same names as somebody else's OCs, it wasn't intentional, and the names should be all they have in common. Several concepts are probably fanon rather than canon. I especially have to credit the influence of Bookworm Gal's Black Crayons stories, though I tried not to copy anything directly. If you haven't already, go forth and read everything she has ever written because you've missed some great fanfic! If any other author feels that my use of any other fan-created concept or non-canon character turned out to be too close to their original idea, then they should contact me through my author profile. I will gladly edit this note ASAP to point readers their way. I have no beta. If you see anything you consider a glaring error, contact me if you'd like to beta for me.
This story is rated M for some very raw language, drinking and wartime violence. I have known a lot of real-life soldiers over the years. I love and respect them too much to sugar-coat the lives that they have lived so we don't have to. There is not a lot of really explicit sex to be found here, nothing to need an M rating on its own, but still, kiddies should hit the back button now.
*-T-F-Rising* = Scene Break
::Silent speech (Internal radio or through a bond)::
This is mostly an AU of the Bayverse which begins right after the DotM credits and spans a couple of decades, but there are ideas here going back to the first cartoons in the 80's. It will be long, and I update whenever I have a new chapter ready. If you like what you read, put the story on story alert. I picked and chose backstory from all over the place, and filed off serial numbers to try to make it all fit. Note that my version of Elita-1 is not one of the Sisters, who are Arcee, Flareup and Chromia. I hope you enjoy my first foray into Transformers fandom as much as I have enjoyed writing. Long author's notes like this will not happen every chapter. /A.N.
(Chapter 1-Out of the Ashes)
Things had finally quieted down. After the battle was over, after Megatron and Sentinel were dead, after the bridge was destroyed, after Cybertron fell into the void, the wounded had been tended and the remains of the dead recovered. Even Sam's two little Cybertronian refugees, who had turned out to be as heroic as anyone else in the end, had been fished out of the Chicago River by a couple of Navy SEALS. They were soggy and miserable but still functional. Sam and Carly were comforting Bumblebee, and no wonder. Que had been gunned down right in front of him, just like Ironhide had been, and he had come within five seconds of being next.
Ratchet had got Optimus Prime to hold still long enough to make some field repairs to the stump of his arm, by threatening to get everyone to put him at the bottom of a dog pile and sit on him if he didn't cooperate. They wouldn't be able to reattach his arm in the field, but he wasn't still bleeding energon or getting Primus only knew what contaminates in it.
On the human side of things, Lennox had rounded up his surviving team as well as the retired NEST operatives who had come in with Epps and lived to tell about it, and all of them were getting something to eat from a mess tent that had been hastily raised by the support personnel who had moved in once the hostilities stopped. A green zone was set up and they were moving out from there to secure the city. The Autobots were helping with that, mixed teams of humans and Autobots were working together to clear the downtown block by block. Occasionally they found a Decepticon straggler, and when some fool decided to fight instead of surrender, absolutely nobody objected to giving him more fight than he could handle.
Prime felt some detached, distant sense of horror at himself that he was relieved most of them refused to surrender, because he hadn't yet determined what the humans were planning to do with the few prisoners they did take. But at the same time, there might be hope for those who did surrender. Charlotte Mearing had sworn to make sure it was all above board, and he believed her.
Mearing was still threatening to have Simmons arrested, but despite all her bluster and insults, nothing was coming of it, and neither of them was moving more than a few feet away from each other. Prime never claimed to understand the interactions of the human sexes, but he was certain they were either going to mate or fight—or, like Earth's cats, maybe it would be impossible for anyone not actually involved to tell the difference. In any case, it seemed to be what they needed to get through this insane day.
Urgent voices got his attention. Bumblebee was frantically stringing sound clips together. "No, she wasn't with me at all. I haven't seen her since we rolled out! I thought she was with your team!"
Prime ordered, "Report."
Sideswipe said, "No one's seen Shimmer since right before we rendezvoused with Sam and Epps' team. We all thought she was with someone else-"
Prime said, "Things like that happen in the fog of war. We'll find her." He was certain she hadn't been killed, because if she had sent out a distress call he would have heard it, and if her spark had gone out, well, he would have known that too. He had felt that sudden nothingness far too often in the last few days to mistake it for anything else. But when he ordered her to report in, there was no answer either.
Lennox said, "Got an MIA?"
"Shimmer," he confirmed. One of the Autobots who had heeded his call to rendezvous on Earth after the defeat of the Fallen, Shimmer was a small blue-gray femme who had not even specialized yet, beyond her duty as a sniper. Before the war, she would have been expected to try out several duties to find out where her preferences lay before she settled down and started advanced programming. Now, just like the rest of them, she was a warrior, and she had proven to be a good one. True, she was lightweight, but she was agile and hard to hit, and an excellent sniper.
Lennox said, "I may have a line on her. Some gang-bangers on the East Side apparently took out some Decepticon, and they report that it was already damaged from a fight with another Transformer." Lennox shot him a GPS location from his phone, which made sense with where Prime had last seen her.
Bumblebee said, "We'll go see what they have."
Prime didn't like the look of him. He wasn't short an arm but there was something about the smaller Autobot that set off all of Prime's alarm bells. "No, you stay here and keep an eye on Sam and the other humans here at the command center. I would really not be surprised if some suicidal Decepticon decided to crash the green zone and take them with him."
"Okay, Prime, but are you-?"
"I'm just going to back up Lennox' team, they need my sensors more than anything else."
Sam said, "We could all go, it might be safer than sitting in one place."
That was true on the face of it, but Lennox had picked up on the same thing that Prime had. "Sam, I'd rather have you here at the command post in case something else comes in out of left field while I'm gone. I don't trust some of those folks not to run in circles, scream and shout if something would happen. Mearing and Simmons have their hands full right now."
Sam didn't have the two commanders' experience, but he twigged fast that he really was the one they expected to take care of the others with all the military personnel out of the green zone, and they didn't want Bumblebee in the field right now. "OK, sure. We'll hold the fort, right, Bee? Be careful out there."
Lennox clapped him on the shoulder then he and Prime headed out, joined by the combined NEST/former NEST team.
Once they were out of Bumblebee's hearing, Lennox asked, "Anything on comms?"
"No, the connection is still there but she isn't answering. The most likely causes are either that she has been thrown into recharge mode, or her comms unit is damaged."
Lennox commandeered a huge flatbed and they all piled on. Getting the big rig to the gang's location wasn't the easiest thing, with streets blocked by debris and battle damage all over the city. Optimus Prime had never wanted to see this kind of wreckage here, the same as Cybertron had become before they had lost the war. How many thousands of innocent humans had perished today, they might never have a full accounting. Several times he had to help shift debris out of the way, and once they stopped to rescue a group of civilians trapped in the wreckage of a collapsed building.
It was fortunate that they met the civilians, because several of them had clearly seen an Autobot matching Shimmer's description fighting some unknown Decepticon, apparently one of the lesser ones that had come through the Bridge when it was open in Washington DC. They were able to point out approximately where the fighting had gone down.
They dismounted the flatbed and continued on foot.
Several young men and boys were sitting on the carcass of said Decepticon. Some of them were injured, a couple of them badly enough to need medical care which hadn't yet been forthcoming. Lennox scowled at that, because right now they were all on the same side. "How the hell did you guys take this thing down with small arms fire anyhow?"
A boy who couldn't have been more than fourteen carrying a gun as big as he was spoke up. "Bust enough caps in dey knee joints, dey go down hard, man. Then you bust some more caps in dey faces and dey don't get up no more." The skinny little smart-ass with the overdone homeboy accent made it sound easy, but Prime and Lennox looked at each other. It had been anything but easy. Their injuries, and the dead young men who had been laid out on an untouched piece of sidewalk, were mute testimony to that.
One of the men said, "Somebody already done poked its eye out. That helped. It came staggering out of there." He indicated a rubble choked alley between the burned out hulks of two three-story apartment buildings.
Lennox got on the radio with the driver, then told them where to meet the flatbed. "A medevac unit will rendezvous with you there."
The gang leader gave him a long look, and then nodded. They headed up the street carrying their wounded.
Prime said, "There's no sign this Decepticon was damaged in a fight with one of us, except possibly for the optics. Everything else seems to be attributable to concentrated small arms fire."
Epps said, "I don't know. Prime, can you take a closer look at that optic? It looks from down here like someone just jabbed it with something. Who else but Shimmer could reach it to poke it in the face?"
Prime said, "It must have been this." His big hand had trouble getting hold of the small piece of metal, but once he got it out where they could see it, it wasn't rebar at all, like he had thought at first. It was the twisted remains of a metal walking cane.
Nobody knew what to make of that. But they had all seen plenty of weirdness on the battlefield. Lennox motioned to a couple scouts to take point, and the rest of them fanned out to advance.
Prime scanned the area. His sensors were just as banged up as everything else, but at short range they were good enough. "One tango range 50 meters. It's probably Shimmer but I can't be positive about that. There's no movement."
Lennox said, "Roger that."
The whole back of one of the apartment buildings was collapsed; all that was left was the front facade. Shimmer was in the rubble, curled protectively around something that turned out to be an old lady and a cat.
Shimmer was out, but quickly came around when Prime checked on her. She reported that she had been somehow almost completely paralyzed by a beam weapon from yet another Decepticon, but before the one she had been fighting could kill her, the old lady had reached out her window and jabbed her cane right in its optic.
The paralysis started to wear off as soon as Prime brought her around. Shimmer could move slowly after a couple of minutes, but still hadn't regained radio comms. The old lady's hip had been broken when she jumped with the cat to escape the building collapse, but there hadn't been anything Shimmer could do to help her other than keep her from getting hit by flying debris. Now the lady's only concern was that they didn't make her leave her cat behind.
Epps said, "Don't worry about him, ma'am. I'll keep an eye on him myself until we find out where you're going to be. Did you live in this building?"
She nodded, pale and shocky. The medic said, "We've got to get her to a hospital on the double, sir."
Lennox got on the radio.
Shimmer checked on her the next day. It turned out that she was in a suburban hospital, she had no family and it would be a long time if ever before she walked again. She had no resources beyond social security.
Ratchet still wasn't sure what to make of the paralysis beam that had hit Shimmer, but she had shaken off the effects. She said, "He had me cold, Prime, there was nothing I could do and she saved my life. I can't just leave her there alone, but what can I do?"
Sam shook his head. "They're going to have to put her in a nursing home, Shimmer. She's going to need people to take care of her 24/7 for at least a while."
Prime said, "I wonder…Shimmer, scan Simmons' wheelchair and see if you can manifest one as a remote."
Some Cybertronians were capable of doing that, in fact Prime could control two such units at once and even give them a certain amount of autonomy. Shimmer scanned the chair and concentrated, then a moment later, transformed. She lost two feet in height off her normal fourteen, but manifested the chair as a remote that she could control.
"I would still need to be smaller—human size and mass, so that I can manage in one of their dwellings in order to help her. Is that even possible?"
"Yes, it's possible." Prime explained about scouts who could leave nearly all their mass behind as an inert form, leaving them with a small primary alt more suitable for some very hazardous reconnaissance missions. He located and transmitted the necessary instruction set. Shimmer took a moment to assimilate it then transformed again, producing a large metal block and a human-sized Autobot.
Prime warned, "Don't forget that you are highly vulnerable in that form, and that if anything happens to your inert form, you'll be trapped in that form permanently—or at least until something that you could use as replacement mass could be located."
"I understand." For the payment of a spark-debt, it was well worth the risk.
Three weeks later, Georgianna Brown was released from the hospital. Shimmer had researched carefully for a new vehicle form, and finally had simply customized her normal sedan form to fit their requirements. The wheelchair settled into place as the driver's seat, so that it would look like there was a driver in the vehicle. If Georgie wanted to lie back, Shimmer had no trouble moving her chair to the passenger's side and putting up a hologram of a driver.
"Where are we going?"
"Epps' house in Florida to pick up your cat, then…where do you want to go? Do you want to find a place to live here in Chicago?"
"I think I've had enough of Chicago for a long time. No family here or anything and I'd rather not be reminded of the battle every time I turn around. Do you have a home somewhere?"
"Yes, in Washington DC."
"Your…are they your family? The other Autobots?"
"Yes, I think it's fair to call them that." Of course they were a family. They were all that were left of their kind, and they were so few now.
"Then you should be with them. Let's go to Washington. We can get an apartment close by, so when they need you, you won't have so far to go."
"Georgie, right now my job is taking care of you. You saved my life at the risk of your own. I owe you. We all owe you for that."
"I didn't mean to indebt you. I just couldn't let that thing—I could tell by looking at you that you were a person, just like me, and if situations had been reversed you would have done the same thing. And—you're just a kid, aren't you?"
"Not exactly. I think you would have to say that I am a young adult, approximately the equivalent of a college student or some of the young soldiers. Prime, and some of the others, have been around for many thousands of your years. They probably always will see me as a just a sparkling. Only Bumblebee is younger than I am, and not by that much."
"I wasn't about to let that thug of a tin can murder you, not if I could do anything about it. We were both lucky."
Shimmer agreed. "There…aren't many of us left now. So, yes, I would like to be near my—my family."
"Shimmer, I really don't like the idea of you tying yourself to me from now on just because I did something anyone with a lick of common decency would have done. You don't know anything about me, who I am or where I've been and what I've done."
"Do friends not care for one another in time of need? I'd like to think we could be friends. Besides, I've heard Prime say it doesn't matter so much where you've been as where you stand now."
Georgie shifted to a better position. Even with the seat reclined all the way, she still wasn't what you could call comfortable. It was going to be really fun, going on a road trip all over the eastern half of the country with a busted hip. At least she had plenty of pain pills. "I guess I can't argue with that, Shimmer, you're right on both counts. Well, first things first. Florida, here we come!"
Georgie took Fleabag back from Epps and the huge cat curled up in her arms, purring. She had lost everything else, but he was thankfully in one piece and healthy as a horse. Mrs. Epps had a bag of stuff for him, food, bowls, litter box and cat litter. "Are you sure you don't want to stay the night? You've been driving a long time and we've got plenty of room."
Shimmer said, "Georgie, maybe you should listen to her."
"I'm fine, sweetie. We can make Atlanta today and get a motel there, and then we'll get to DC tomorrow. It'll be fine."
Epps asked, "How is everyone?"
Shimmer said, "The Autobots are still working on the recovery and clean-up. We're…it's hard. We lost a lot of good bots. Not just Ironhide and the others, but since we first came here…." She shook her head. "Lennox and the NEST team are back home. I can't imagine they're in any better shape than we are. I'm not sure where Simmons is, he and Mearing disappeared a few days ago. But they'll be around, because I happen to know Mearing asked to be reassigned to NEST permanently."
"Really? I'll bet Will was overjoyed with that."
"I overheard her talking to him and Prime. She was apologizing to Prime for how badly she mishandled the situation. She feels responsible for the whole exile debacle, although I really don't think she was and there was nothing she could have done to stop it. Prime just told her that whoever was responsible, it was the only way we could have got into Chicago."
"Having the bad guys think you're dead tends to work out that way," Epps agreed. "We should have all known Optimus Prime had a backup plan. He always does."
Shimmer said, "Well, no one knew about it except the Wreckers and him. It surprised us all when they herded us into the escape pod. The Xan was a piece of junk. After that last trip to the moon it wouldn't have made it out to the black again in the first place, Starscream or no Starscream. Just convincing the Decepticons that it was still spaceworthy was a miracle all on its own. For that matter, so was traveling overland from Florida to Chicago without anyone figuring it out. We used throwaway alts and kept a few cars between us, and stayed away from the energon detectors, but still."
Georgie said, "The whole thing was a long string of miracles, but it's hard to see that with so much loss."
Epps said, "We'll come back from this. Maybe even stronger than we were before. Al Qaeda couldn't stop us, these guys won't either."
"Their commanders are all gone. Megatron, Starscream and Shockwave were the worst of the lot. None of the rest of them are real leaders, and they're afraid of Optimus Prime. I don't think they'll do anything organized. But they're trapped and desperate. They'll try to hide but they will need supplies."
Epps nodded. "They'll turn raiders and pirates."
"We hope some of them may switch sides. The ones who haven't done anything really unforgivable yet. Your government will make use of them and, one would hope, prevent them causing more trouble. Undoubtedly we will still have to deal with some of them," Shimmer said.
Epps nodded. It didn't matter in the long run if you died in a glorious battle to save the universe or in some mop-up operation in the ass end of nowhere. Dead was dead. They were going to lose more good people "dealing with" those sons of bitches. The Autobots couldn't afford to lose even one more.
Georgie winced as Fleabag dug his hind foot in her leg, too close to her incision. Shimmer said, "Let's put his things in the back and I will confine him there. Feline, you had better not pee on my back seat."
Epps guffawed. Taking care of relocating the cat changed the subject, and then they got on the road north.