When it's hot, what is the difference between reality and illusions? CSI: Miami/TF: 2007 Crossover
As soon as I received the message from Optimus over our com links, I knew something was going to go wrong. I do not know exactly what, but then again, Iam just a medic and former diplomat, not a prognosticator. For various reasons, I was the only suitable candidate to go on a mission to investigate possible Autobot sightings in the southern part of the American state of Florida. It was most likely a dead end, brought on by hysterical humans seeing things where things were not, but orders were orders. I was to try and be as incognito as possible, since there were still repercussions from the fiasco at Mission City.
I did a search over the humans' networks and found a few possibilities for my new alt-mode, and one in particular caught my eye. It was the same size and form as my original alternate mode and would blend in, as there were other vehicles of the same color and body style. I noted the approximate location and did a search of all H2 Hummers in charcoal grey registered in Miami-Dade County, the closest population center to several of the reported sightings and chose the likeliest place to find a new form to scan, entering the GPS data into my systems.
I left our temporary home early the next morning, even before the early risers of the base stirred. The changing landscape rolling past my wheels fascinated me. I watched as the desert, dotted with scrub and small hills, changed into the grassy plains of Texas, interspersed with creeks lined with cottonwoods. Icaught a particularly nice sunset midway through Texas, as I watched the sun drop below the horizon, and the sky moving from pink to darkest blue dotted with a few bright stars and satellites. I stopped to admire the view, and enjoyed the fragile peace of summer dusk.
I ran into trouble when I hit Dallas. Traffic was a slagging mess. It took two slagging hours for me to drive from one side of that road happy city to the other. I was stuck in traffic in the middle of a very sunny day with the sun shining on one side. My poor holomatter projector was on the fritz, so I think I may have caused a few children and sensitive adults some problems, since the light was slagging shining through the 'driver'. Another thing added to my growing list of things to do.
My next stop, in Mississippi, was a bit of a disaster. I needed some fuel, so Ihad to lurk about like some criminal, waiting until dark and humans left the electrical substation. I needed to use the electricity to power my energy converters but I needed to be in my root mode and thus would be quite obvious in the daylight. I got a bit greedy (I was low on fuel and still had over thousand miles to go!) and accidentally fried the substation's equipment, causing half the city to go dark. I knew from scanning the local emergency radio system and cell phone traffic that the maintenance personnel would be coming to inspect the substation soon, so I had to hurry through the energy conversion and leave without anyone spotting me and raising questions.
The American South was a strange place. Large cities were often surrounded by smaller towns and those towns were in turn surrounded by large fields and farms. Forests sprang up and petered out within a hundred miles, and on occasion there were a near forest between the lanes of the interstate. There was so much organic life on this little planet so far from home!
Next snag was the Gulf Coast. There were still signs of the hurricane's wrath and it was hard to find non-water damaged substations, but I managed to keep myself fueled. The last leg of my trip through Florida was uneventful, except for the insect life ornamenting my hood and windshield.I will not mention the humid heat that would have Ironhide yelling about rust. I am not a vain mech, but Iwas looking forward to transscanning my new form, since it would remove any organic life from my frame.
After a day and a half Earth time had passed, I finally arrived at my destination. As soon as I came into visual sensor range of the city, I began scanning the law enforcement frequencies to locate the Crime Scene Investigation vehicles. I followed one of the vehicles, driven by a red haired male in sunglasses to a scene and waited till dark. I had noted a substation that was providing electricity to the area and began planning how I was going to obtain my new form. I had to be in protoform bipedal mode for maximum effectiveness and I needed the dark to hide from the humans' sight. So Ideliberately overloaded the equipment, causing a blackout. I immediately fired up my trans-scanners, taking into account the mass differential between my original search and rescue body style and the unmodified body style of the vehicle I had chosen. A few modifications to my systems and I was now in local disguise and leaving the scene before I accidentally stepped on a human or worse, was spotted by a human swarming the area. I'm not slagging made for sneaking around, but the two mechs who were designed for it weren't available. So we had to make do with me. Primus only knows what would happen if Ironhide or Optimus were to do this mission.
I looked for a likely place where I could blend in and get some rest for what was left of the night, choosing a parking lot that had a few vehicles that were exactly like my new alt-mode. I parked my weary chassis and went into recharge.
I woke up to my door opening and a human male climbing in. I hastily scanned the intruder, and then relaxed. My visitor was the red headed male that was in some of the pictures I used to choose my alt-mode, so he was supposed to be driving a vehicle like me. It was still slagging odd to have a human inside me. I played dumb while I analyzed the situation. On one hand, I could pretend to be an Earth vehicle by day, and do any recon at night. On the other hand, Icould enlist him. I pondered that last idea, and then decided to find out who was driving me before I made any decisions.
One of those communications devices Mikaela told me was a 'cell phone' rang, pulling me out of my absorption in triangulating the sightings' locations and developing a list of likely places to scan for Autobot or Decepticon energy signatures. I focused one of my auditory sensors onto the conversation in my cab, recording it for my data banks.
Audio transcript below:
-That blackout at the crime scene yesterday wasn't because of excessive power demand by the neighborhood. It wasn't that hot last night. One of the techs said that he had heard about something like that happening in Mississippi, with a localized power overload. Whoever or whatever did it, was connected into the control system of the substation.
-So it was somebody at the substation. Did the substation have any security cameras?
-They did but they got fried as well. They didn't find anything useful.
-Okay. Thanks for letting me know.
I stopped the recording after that, wincing internally. I had hoped that there wouldn't have been a link from the incident in Mississippi to what I had to do here. But I did have a clue as to who my passenger was, so Iscanned the police databases for any Caines that were with the force. Ipinged on one Horatio Caine, a Lieutenant with the Crime Scene Investigation unit of the Miami-Dade Police. I then copied the records into my personal files and weighed the pros and cons of revealing myself to the investigator, and decided to wait and see.
I sat in the summer sun all day while Horatio and his team crawled all over some abandoned building where a body had been found. I couldn't even turn my cooling systems on for fear of alerting the humans that I wasn't an ordinary Hummer. I regretted the charcoal gray paint job and the dark interior as Islowly roasted in the humid summer day.
I was about to blow my cover when he finally approached me and climbed in, immediately flipping on my air conditioning controls which triggered the rest of my cooling systems. I ran diagnostics to see the extent of the damage and was relieved when I found that that I was just hot, rather than having melted circuits. If I got damaged, there wasn't anybody who could fix me, since the only other mech who could do anything was Wheeljack, and he wasn't here.
He parked me in the parking lot of the CSI building and left after making sure he didn't leave any trash behind. I waited until it was quiet, then started up my engine and rolled out of the parking lot to the first set of coordinates I had noted from the sighting reports.
It was a racetrack. Color me surprised. I had an idea on who had been spotted, but this was the first sighting and any traces of the visitor's identity were washed away. I cycled air through my intakes and trundled along to the next set of coordinates, which were fresher. Scanning the area, I detected faint traces of an Autobot signature, but not enough to identify who it was. Frustrated, I settled back on my chassis to figure out my next course of action.
It was the engine sound that warned me. I had to shift my aft before it was dented by the engine-revving punk. I transformed into bipedal mode and stood in the road, arms akimbo, waiting for that turbo-happy jackanapes. He came tearing around the corner on two wheels and laid rubber for quite a ways before he came to a stop at my feet. Transforming, he stood up and looked me square in the optics.
"Mirage, you blasted idiot. Way to alert the natives to our presence!" I hissed, trying my damnedest not to bellow at him and wake the neighborhood any more than they already were.
"Ratchet, what are you doing here?" Mirage blinked.
"Got reports about sightings, had to check it out. Apparently they were seeing aMirage, instead of hallucinating because of the heat."
Mirage winced. "Sorry Ratchet, sir. I was enjoying a spot of racing."
"That is better done where you won't injure one of the natives, Mirage. However, no matter, I have orders to bring you back to Tranquility. We've set up base there." I glanced up at the lightening sky. "It's getting close to dawn. I have to return, or else my absence will raise questions. I will contact base and give them an update, then tomorrow night, we will leave. I'll be in contact with details and coordinates."
"I'll be ready to leave, sir." Mirage saluted, then transformed back into the sleek blue and white Bugatti Veyron he had chosen as an alternate mode, according to the quick search of the human's networks. Likewise, I transformed back into my Hummer form and left the area, intending to return to the parking lot where Lt. Caine had left me parked.
I made it back in plenty of time and settled back into my parking spot to snatch some light recharge time before I became the Lieutenant's ferry. I woke to find that he was standing in front of my grille staring at me in disbelief. I had asinking feeling as I remembered splashing through some mud puddles while I was investigating Mirage's sightings. I had neglected to make sure I was as clean as when he parked me last night. Lt. Caine circled around me, hands on his hips.
I made the snap decision to reveal myself. "Lieutenant Caine." He had started in surprise, and then stared at me. "Pardon the subterfuge, but my presence would raise many alarms and questions some may not be prepared to accept the answers to. I was sent here to investigate sightings of possible... compatriots, friends of mine and was successful." As I fell silent, Iobserved Lt. Caine's reaction. "If you require proof, I can have somebody vouch for my identity or transform, but the second option wouldn't be advisable until tonight."
"Who is your contact?"
"Victoria Harper. She is the public relations officer for our base in Nevada. She can brief you on the specific details relating to mine and other's presence on Earth."
"If it isn't too much bother, have her come out here. I like to talk face to face to the principals."
"Not a problem at all, Lt. Caine." I calculated the time difference, and then rang Victoria's personal number. She answered at once.
"Ratchet, is that you? Are you in trouble?"
"My cover is, ah, blown, as the humans say, Victoria."
"...Crap. How bad is it?"
"So far only one person knows, but he's requesting that you come out here to speak to him 'face to face,' as he put it."
"Not a problem, Ratchet. I'll be out there by this afternoon."
Disconnecting the call, I addressed Lt. Caine. "Victoria Harper will be here by this afternoon."
"I'll be waiting." He turned and stalked back to the police department. Isettled back to wait for the cavalry. Victoria arrived in a yellow taxicab amere five hours after I contacted her. Dressed for the weather, she strode towards the lab, passing by the parking lot where I was stuck and giving aseemingly random wave. I sat back on my shocks and waited for the denouement.
Sure enough, Victoria and Lt. Caine emerged from the lab shortly thereafter, walking swiftly towards my parking spot. "Lt. Caine, how much has Ratchet told you?" Victoria asked, resting a hand on my fender.
"Ratchet told me he was here to investigate some reports of, er, /strange/sightings."
She crossed her arms, leaning against my grill. "What started this were reports of engine sounds but no vehicles after a bright light and a bit of an earthquake. We thought it was another one."
"There are more like Ratchet?"
"Right now there are five Autobots based in Nevada and-"
"Make that six, Victoria." I corrected. "My mission was successful and Ilocated another Autobot."
"Six Autobots on Earth and I know of one Decepticon lurking about, with quite a few underwater. But more will most likely show up."
"Why? Autobots? Decepticons? Care to explain?"
Victoria removed her sunglasses and assessed Lt. Caine, her eyes glowing bright blue."I just upgraded your security clearance, sir. The Autobots, the good guys, and Decepticons, the bad guys, are two factions of a race of sentient robots from the planet Cybertron. A valuable artifact landed on Earth about 12 thousand years ago. That brought the big guys to our little planet, and now we have a robot disguised as a CSI vehicle."
Lt. Caine looked at me then Victoria. "Sentient robots from outer space. Forgive me if I'm a little skeptical, but I require a bit more proof."
Victoria replaced her sunglasses, a small smile playing across her mouth. "I knew you would say that, Lt. Caine. I have contacts at Homestead Air Reserve Base, where there will be plenty of room and no civilian onlookers."
"Shall we go, then?" He reached for my door handle, and then paused.
"You drove him yesterday, why should today be any different?" Victoria asked, on my passenger side. "If it makes you feel any better, I still get the creeps whenever I'm riding in one of the Autobots and I knew them for quite abit longer than you have, Horatio. Just let him do the driving and pretend."
"At least you are tidy, unlike one human I am acquainted with." Iinterjected. Caine jumped a little bit, shrugged, and opened my door. "I always make sure not to leave a mess behind, Ratchet."
Victoria climbed into my cab and buckled up. "The Autobots are always very careful with the humans in their care, but you never know. Also, a word of warning. If Ratchet says get out, get out. I don't know where his cab goes when he transforms, but judging by his bipedal mode, it would be very messy if somebody was stuck inside during transformation."
"Voice of experience speaking here?" Caine glanced at Victoria, his hand resting on Ratchet's steering wheel as Ratchet navigated our way to Homestead.
"Inanimate objects, mostly. Annabelle, Major Lennox's daughter, lost her favorite doll inside Ironhide, and I don't know if it was him or the baby who was fussing the loudest.
"Ironhide. Ratchet. Very unusual names."
"Well, their Cybertronian names would be very unpronounceable by humans, so their Earth names are the closest equivalents in English."
"What is the difference between the two factions?"
"The Autobots respect all forms of life. They believe that sentient beings have the right to be free. The Decepticons disagree. On the subject of appearance, it all depends on the robot's mass and height. Autobots have tended to choose consumer type vehicles, while the 'Cons choose military vehicles. Ratchet is the medic and he normally is a H2 Hummer ambulance since that fit him better."
Caine glanced at Victoria, then turned his eyes back to the road. "So why are you public relations when they are top secret?"
"I deal mostly with the government and scientists who would like to study the Cybertronians. You happen to be the first civilian to stumble upon us, so you came under my purview."
"Should I feel privileged?"
Victoria smiled briefly. "Ratchet didn't necessarily have to tell you who he was. He could have played dumb and left as soon as he could without causing alarm."
She faced my dash and spoke to the radio. "And Ratchet, I'm correct in thinking you trust Lt. Caine?"
"I had the opportunity to read his records and he does seem to be trustworthy to the humans in charge, so yes, I do trust Lt. Caine. He hasn't done anything so far to change that assessment."
"So what should I do now?"
Victoria turned her head towards Horatio. "Keep your eyes and ears open for anything strange, like shooting stars, meteors, sightings of odd cars, that sort of thing. Oh and any rampaging vehicles are a big sign. I'll give you my cell number so we'll know to come and help. We're expecting any survivors to come to Earth, so we have to keep an eye and ear out."
I had contacted Mirage as soon as Victoria mentioned going to Homestead and he was bringing up the rear.
"Victoria, if I may interrupt, I made contact with the Autobot who was the cause of the ruckus, and he is following us to our destination."
"What's his designation and function?"
"Mirage. He serves as a spy and sniper." I could feel her latching onto the human networks, while she started a database file for Mirage. "If it helps, he's chosen a Bugatti Veyron as his alternate mode."
"Flashy." She glanced in my mirrors. "Anything I should know in dealing with him?"
"Used to be a noblemech Neutral, until the Decepticons started killing any Neutrals who didn't side with Megatron. He's a bit prissy, but he's a good mech."
"Thank you, Ratchet. I'll keep that in mind. Excuse me, I need to make a call to my contact before we show up at his doorstep." She dug in her purse and clipped a small earpiece to her ear.
"May I speak to Colonel Masterson? This is Mrs. Richard Harper." She waited, eyes rolling. "Colonel Masterson? Hi, this is Victoria Harper. I have afavor to ask, and it is a bit short notice, I'm afraid. I'm asking to borrow acargo plane with your most trustworthy crew and a tall hangar. I have a couple of friends to take back to Nevada and its top secret I'm afraid. I'm authorized to ask you under Executive Order #36739. I believe you have a copy of that, as it pertains to any military installation?" She drummed her fingers on her thigh. "I appreciate your cooperation, Colonel Masterson. Please let the gate know that there will be two vehicles. One will be acharcoal gray Hummer and the other will be a Bugatti Veyron. And thank you. Istill miss Richard. Goodbye." Victoria unhooked the earpiece and stowed it away in her purse. "I borrowed a cargo plane to take you home, Ratchet. Less trouble than a cross country trip. I'm sure you had some adventures, though. Optimus wants you to do a report when we return, so start culling your databanks."
"I hate reports. Optimus knows that, the slagger, and he only asks me to do them if I did something he doesn't like."
"Poor Ratchet." Victoria patted my dash. "You'll live." She glanced up. "Oh there we go. Almost there, guys." She gathered up her purse and made sure my interior wasn't cluttered up. "Ratchet, stop at the gate. I may need to get out." I pulled to a stop just outside the gate to the base, and Victoria scrambled out.
She approached the men guarding the gate, and spoke to the officer who seemed to be in charge. A few words were exchanged and the gates slid open. I stopped to let Victoria climb back in, then we were rolling forward, escorted by the officer and his driver in a dark green Jeep. Our little procession led us to afairly tall hangar, which looked adequate enough for the purpose. A cargo plane was parked nearby, its crew busily preparing it for take-off. I pulled into the open hangar doors, and stopped inside, waiting for Mirage to follow us in. Victoria and Horatio exited my cab, and moved away.
I transformed, Mirage following my lead, then knelt down so as to not damage the roof struts.
'Enough proof for you, Horatio?" I asked, one hand on my knee. He blinked, then watched Mirage transform.
"Plenty. I want to apologize for leaving you out in the sun, Ratchet. I forgot that it gets pretty toasty in the summer in Miami."
I blinked, rewound the last few minutes of audio, listened again. "Don't worry about it, Horatio. I've been in hotter weather. We do live in the desert."
A young airman came up to our little group and spoke. "Mrs. Harper, the pilot wanted me to tell you that he is ready to take off, if you'll get the passengers loaded."
"Ratchet, Mirage, let's roll out, boys. I need to get you home before we turn into pumpkins. Or Optimus gives another speech." I folded myself back into my alt-mode and followed Mirage to the waiting plane, its cargo doors open, and the loading ramp extended.
Horatio Caine put on his sunglasses as we were loaded into the plane, and said"Look me up the next time you're in Miami. There is definitely more than meets the eye with you, Ratchet."
"Of course, Horatio. I'll be sure to let you know whenever when in the area again."
Victoria spoke again, just before we drove up the ramp. "I'll be up front with the pilot, Ratchet. Be good." She patted my hood and made her way up the ramp, with Mirage and I following her into the plane, the cargo bay doors closing with a thump.