Synopsis: [G1] He never wanted to see another world torn apart by their war as his had been...but in a small American town, abandoned, left to ruin and decay after the initial invasion, Bumblebee finds a glimmer of hope for possible redemption in the form of a small child. Rating T. Chapter One: Helping hands. How did it come to this? Bumblebee sighed mentally to himself. It was pitiful. Everything around them crumbled with every new raid. The enemy was relentless in its siege of this virgin world; they tore everything apart in a mad, starving desperation to get to the energy while the native inhabitants huddled together, wide-eyed and frightened, as their peaceful lives were shattered. He recalled what that had been like… He had been so frightened when his home city had been destroyed, much like the humans’ cities were at that moment. He had been a young bot at the time, not even a full Vorn old. He and one other had been the sole survivors of the rampage; Bluestreak. The memories of that day had changed the Autobot forever. His mind was plagued with regret and anger; not that Bumblebee could blame him. He knew the overwhelming surge of varying emotions were powerful enough to completely take over their minds and turn them mad. However he had managed it, Bumblebee managed to carry no scars of his early life trauma. He only carried the memory; a large burden in and of itself. He had been cowering under a pile of ruble when a large Mech had found him. It was early into the war and the names of those so famous now were relatively unknown, but Bumblebee would always remember that Mech and his name: Optimus Prime. Bumblebee was still a protoform and had only gone through one upgrade since he’d been brought online. He was considerably taller now then he had been back then, but as a minibot protoform such a small stature was common and to be expected. He remembered how startled he was when he beheld the large and intimidating red Mech for the first time. The piece of metal roofing he was hiding under had been lifted up and the small protoform revealed in the eerie glow of the still blazing fires of the city. Surprised optics gleamed as the large Mech crouched down, offering a large hand. And then a voice, deep and smooth, said to him, “It’s all right little one. You’re safe now.” Bumblebee had shrunk away from the offered hand, tiny optics glowing with fear. Optimus sighed and reached down to his subspace compartment, pulling out a flask. The little protoform’s optics followed the flask with a hungering stare; knowing full well what it contained. His fuel tank shuttered at the thought of Energon and he received an annoying, warning flash across his vision before he removed the red banner. How long had it been since the life sustaining fuel touched his eager lips? A long time he decided. The raids had made Energon so scarce that rationing was implemented. His creator had done his best to get enough for them both…but there simply wasn’t enough and more often then not he went tank half empty while Bumblebee was near full. His creator was gone now…had been for the better part of the last hundred joors or so. He had left Bumblebee alone in the lab while he went to collect rations, but something must have happened…he never returned. After a long while, Bumblebee was forced to venture out alone to scour for fuel or to find his creator; neither presented themselves. Optimus smiled behind his battle mask as he held out the flask to Bumblebee. “Take it…” Bumblebee looked back and forth between the flask and masked figure; the fear of the larger bot and the craving for the Energon were tearing his small processor to shreds. With a small, violent shake of his head as if to clear away his fear, the little Transformer lunged at the flask, pulling it away from the larger being’s loose grip, not that Optimus fought for it. Pulling the top off the container, Bumblebee raised it to his lips and began to greedily drain the glowing pink fuel in earnest. Halfway through, Bumblebee let out a small yelp of surprise as the larger bot reached out and picked the him up. Sensing the small being’s protest at the contact, Optimus placed the little one in the crook of his arm, “Shhhhh…you’re alright.” The little protoform’s processor raced and suddenly froze when he remembered…his creator used to hold him like this. He missed him. Realization suddenly dawned on Bumblebee…his creator would never return. He was alone. He stopped struggling against the larger Mech and allowed himself to be carried off. His optics dimmed and he sipped absently at the Energon despite his hunger. “A survivor?” someone said, voice astonished and relieved at once. Bumblebee glanced up into the optics of an equally large, blue mech. His expression was very sad as he gazed at Bumblebee. The little protoform shifted and pushed himself closer to the Transformer that held him; the red one was scary, but the blue was even scarier. “Just a sparkling,” Optimus replied sadly. “How goes the rescue effort?” “Not good,” the blue robot replied. “Counting this one, we’ve recovered five functioning, but four deactivated before we could get them to the Medical station. The one survivor we pulled out and is still functioning is being treated by Ratchet as we speak.” Blue eyes flickered back to Bumblebee. “What about this little one?” “I’ll take him,” Optimus replied. “I trust you can handle things until I return?” The blue one nodded. “Of course. Primus be with us.” Optimus glanced down sadly at his young charge. “Primus be with them…” It seemed to have been so long ago. When he looked back now, his first reaction to Optimus seemed silly, but he had been so scared. He had no notion of war at the time; Autobots and Decepticons were words he heard in passing with never an explanation to clarify his curiosity. Bumblebee sighed to himself again as he passed the remnants of what might have been a gas station. He imagined all the humans gathered around the pumps, filling their vehicles…he imagined where they would go in their vehicles…how they lived their daily lives and how much that had changed in just a few short months since his kind had awoken. At first, the raids started small and discretely but, as confrontations escalated, more humans began to become aware of what was happening, and, much like a cornered animal, they lashed out violently. So many died during the retaliation strike. The human armies that faced the Decepticons perished in a blaze of destruction. Any survivors were made examples of and their bodies thrown into a populated area where the resulting pandemonium and panic further destabilized the area, making it much easier to steal the energy. The Decepticons made weekly raids of random cities, never allowing the crumbling human government to adjust and retaliate appropriately. Thousands were displaced as they fled their homes, abandoning full cities to escape the attacks. It became a common sight within the first three months to be driving along and come across a hundred or so humans walking along the road just as it was common to see the bodies of those unable to continue lying on the ground. Bumblebee had seen the elderly and the young suffer such miserable deaths as well as a couple of single parents, their child or children attempting to wake them to no avail. If he wasn’t certain the children would be picked up and taken care of by the others, he may very well have attempted to do so himself. The planet of the humans, Earth as they called it, was geologically divided and the patch of land that saw the first and most Decepticon activity fell easily under the continuous devistation within the first seven months. Their government fell a week after their military was obliterated. There was mass panic and suicide. Hundreds chose to end their lives, some with loved ones, instead of facing the grim future full of alien machines. With the top superpower in ruins, the Decepticons moved their full force across the ocean to Europe where the current bulk of the attacks were occurring. Bumblebee, along with a few others were stationed at the Ark – the ship that had carried their war to this planet – while the larger group of Autobots went to Europe to aid the humans in defending themselves against the inevitable invasion and destruction that had toppled the United States. Europe was going a lot better then North America had for the Autobots. The European Union had allied themselves with the Autobots and, for the past several weeks, the Decepticons had been pushed farther and farther into East Asia where other human nations were waiting to strike. The last report from Optimus informed the home base Autobots that one of the Seekers, Dirge, had been shot down in East Berlin the previous Earth day and Skywarp had been severely wounded. With one Seeker down and out and another wounded, the sky was suddenly the focus of the efforts with the Autobots scrambling to keep the Decepticons from reclaiming that advantage. Take away the Seekers and the Decepticon’s main disadvantage against the ground-bound Autobots was gone and the war could turn for the better. Bumblebee’s morning patrol was always depressing. He noted familiar land markings that dotted his path. The area used to be a small town called Burbank with the city hall and the local church just across the street being the center point. Both buildings had burnt to the ground, and only skeletal walls stood loosely in the windless air. The post office remained mostly intact except for the shattered windows and a partly collapsed roof. The surrounding shops, beauty boutiques, shoe stores, clothe outlets, electronics stores, and a thrift store had all been raided; some of the merchandise cluttered the abandoned streets. Bumblebee had to swerve around the larger items but, for the most part, simply drove over the curious objects, once in a while stopping and Transforming to pick one up and admire it or try to determine what it was used for. He had a small collection of odd objects in his quarters that he had picked up on his patrols. As he drove past a large building, the largest one in the town to be still standing completely, with a few intact windows, his audios perked at a loud crash from within. He braked and listened. He could hear the clanging of metal from within the dark building… Jazz did say he ran into Ravage the other day… Bumblebee thought to himself. …Maybe that filthy black glitch is back… Bumblebee transformed. As he did so his weapon; a laser pistol, popped into the air and the Autobot caught the object after he completed his transformation. Stepping over a crushed box of what appeared to be human clothing, the yellow, VW-disguised Autobot made his way silently across the street. The building’s name was displayed on a large broken marquee of white human characters above the entrance: WAL-MART. The ‘T’ and one of the ‘L’s was missing, having long fallen to the ground below where they still lay in pieces. Using the concrete side of the building as cover, Bumblebee peered through broken entrance and gazed inside. A number of small counters with mounted computers lined the space just beyond the entrance. Tall poles displaying the stations’ designating numbers followed down the row in sequence. Looking beyond those, he saw aisles for human objects and merchandise. Most of the aisles were cleared of their treasures, but some artifacts remained. Bumblebee’s audios twitched as he heard a soft rustle inside. Holding tight onto his weapon, Bumblebee strode across the entrance, bent low and crouching as he made his way into the human store. When he was fully inside he felt a wave of relief flood him as he realized the ceiling was high enough for even Optimus to stand comfortably inside. Gazing around he saw the floor was littered with trampled items; clothes, food stuffs, and boxes. He heard the sound again. Bending low, weapon raised, he began walking towards it. As he neared its location, he noted the condition of the surrounding aisles. It looked as though one of the shelves had fallen over and the resulting domino effect had toppled three more before a metal support column had quelled the destruction. He noticed curiously the thousands of small metal canisters with various colored labels littering the floor. There would be no way he could tread through the mess and not alert any lurking Decepticon that may or may not be in the vicinity. Walking past the littered floor he found himself in an area of the store that apparently stored the flesh of other creature of which humans commonly consumed. Bumblebee had encountered carnivorous species before, but nothing like the Humans. Their society provided food and everything for them, and the primitive act of hunting one’s own food was eliminated from their culture, at least in the more modern places. But organic flesh rotted not long after the creature life functions ceased without some sort of preservation. The area used to be refrigerated apparently, and, when power went out a couple months ago, the packaged flesh began to rot, leaving a disgusting odor in the air. Bumblebee immediately turned off his olfactory sensors as he passed the rotting meat, trying his best to ignore the mess and revolting display. There was another noise, a clash of metal on the linoleum floor. It was loud; too loud for Ravage to have made…on purpose anyway. Bumblebee began walking down the aisle, stopping to peer around and pointing his weapon. He began to feel he was chasing a ghost when he reached the back aisle. He jumped out from behind the cover of the previous aisle and pointed his weapon, his optics and chest-mounted head lights illuminating everything before him. Instead of confronting the lurking Decepticon Ravage as he had expected, his laser scope pointing at his head with a red dot, he confronted a small being - smaller then most he had come across. It was a human…a human pup…or whatever they called their young. And young he was. The little creature froze, his expressive eyes wide and frightened as he stared at the much larger being that had popped out of seemingly nowhere. The human held two of the silver canisters in the crook of his arm and had been reaching down for another when Bumblebee had jumped out. The little creature let the two cans he held drop to the floor with a clang (so that’s what that noise was, Bumblebee thought to himself). With a partially relieved smile, Bumblebee stowed his weapon back in his subspace. Turning back to the little organic, Bumblebee titled his head in an amused way. “Hey there little guy,” Bumblebee said quietly as he took a step towards the wide-eyed human. The little organic shifted noticeably and took a step back; his eyes staring up at Bumblebee with sheer terror. Noticing the little one’s fright, the yellow Autobot lowered himself to one knee and gestured towards him. “I’m not gonna to hurt you.” Bumblebee stared at the child, his optics scrutinizing it. He surmised it to be male, but, while they were young, most human offspring of both genders looked too alike for him to differentiate the two. It was only when they became adults that the difference was obvious. The only way to tell for sure was a more invasive scan, and he doubted such an action would quell the young human’s apprehensions. Judging by the clothes it wore, he appeared to be male; as females usually wore more bright colored clothes and did not encase their legs, but instead wore open ended garments. This one wore a white top garment, faded lettering on the chest, and bottoms made of the blue, durable fabric most humans donned as the standard of clothing. He wore foot coverings (shoes) and their restraints (laces) hung loosely across the floor around his feet. He was covered in dirt and his exposed arms were covered in scrapes and healing lacerations. “What are you doing out here all alone?” Bumblebee asked. Almost as if to answer him, the little boy’s stomach gave a loud and long rumble, before he covered his abdomen as if to silence the noise, all the while never averting his gaze. The yellow Autobot couldn’t help but laugh. “You’re hungry aren’t you?” The little boy gave a small, almost unnoticeable nod, eyes never wavering from the much larger Mech kneeling a few feet away. Bumblebee reached out. The human flinched away startled, but relaxed slightly (though not much) as he realized Bumblebee was reaching for one of the cans he had dropped and not for him. Bumblebee turned the can over and gazed at the cover. In large ornate lettering it said “Old Dixie Peaches”, while further inspection revealed the nutrition label and a recipe for Peach Cobbler. Bumblebee flicked an amused smile down at the little boy, who was now eyeing the canned fruit rather then Bumblebee. His little hands were pulling the hem of his shirt anxiously. Bumblebee chuckled and with little effort (and without the aid of a can opener) he sheered off the top. He looked at the little boy and held the can out, but in order to get to the food, the human had venture towards the Autobot. If it worked for Optimus, Bumblebee thought to himself, thinking back to that time in his life. It can work for me! If Bumblebee had read the little one’s expression correctly (much like the one he had when Optimus discovered him alone under the ruble of his past home) he would choose the food. And he was not disappointed. The little boy’s eyes flickered back and forth between the food and Bumblebee and with each suspicious switching of the gaze he took one cautious step forward. Five glances later, a little hand reached out slowly and grasped the edge of the can. For a fleeting moment their eyes met and the little boy didn’t seem as frightened...then he pulled the can from Bumblebee’s grip and ran off. Stopping a safe distance away, halfway down the aisle, the human crouched down and began to devour the peach slices hungrily. At first Bumblebee felt a little disappointed as the boy ran off, but the feeling vanished when the boy simply crouched and began to refuel himself….messily at that. The syrup spilled over the can’s side every time the boy reached inside to pull out yet another peach slice, dripping onto the linoleum flooring. Sitting cross legged on the floor, Bumblebee propped his head on his fist and observed the boy. He watched as the human swallowed the last bit of organic matter that was the peaches and stared down into the can; considering it before lifting the can to his mouth and draining the remainder of the syrup. Pulling the can away, the boy looked back inside it as if expecting it to magically refill with fuel. Licking his lips, the human dropped the can and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before wiping said hand on his pants. The little boy spotted another can and reached for it. Eyes lifted from the can’s label back to Bumblebee as if considering. Turning to the Autobot the little boy apprehensively made his way over to him and held the can out, his face pleading. The bemused scout stared for a moment before realization hit. “Still hungry little guy?” Chuckling lightly to himself, Bumblebee took the can and sheered off the top, noting the contents of the can differed from the previous one. This can was filled with a red pasty goop with round white circles. Shrugging off his observation, Bumblebee handed it back to the boy who eagerly took the can and lifted it to his lips and began to slurp the contents noisily. Half way through the can, the little boy bent down and sat on the floor, leaning up against Bumblebee’s leg. Finishing off the can the boy sat it down and wiped his face with his hand again though a good majority of the red goop remained. The little boy looked up at Bumblebee…and smiled. “Tankyu…” The little human muttered in a small shy voice. It took Bumblebee a moment to translate the bad pronunciation of ‘Thank you’ though he dismissed the error as a product of the child’s young age. Protoforms were known to have trouble saying certain words as they grew accustomed to their vocalizers and he saw no reason why young humans wouldn’t come across a similar obstacle. Bumblebee smiled down at the boy and patted him fondly on the head; the boy didn’t pull away but giggled instead, reaching up to grab a hold of one of Bumblebee’s large fingers. He stared at curiously, observing the wires and servos visible in between the armor plates. “You’re welcome,” He smiled.