Mojo sat in Barricade’s grasp. The Decepticon had loosened his grip, opening his hand, and the dog had stopped yelping and was sitting, contemplating. Mojo heard Sam scream his name and jumped up onto all four legs expectantly – his Sam was calling!
“Bark! BARKBARKBARK!” Mojo yelled back, responding. He wanted to get down! When Sam called, he needed to go. It was in the dog rule book, when the Owner calls, you run! Mojo looked down. It was too far to jump. This thing that was currently holding him had to put him down, didn’t it realise this?
He waited a few moments more. Still no sign of movement. Mojo got annoyed. He wanted down, NOW.
Mojo turned around to face the thing holding him, “Grrrrrr! PHHHHT! YAPYAPYAPYAP! BARK!”
Barricade paused in his negotiation with Optimus Prime to free Frenzy and focused narrowed red optics on the thing in his hand. “Cease that noise, organic creature! You have no say in this!” he hissed.
Mojo went quiet for a second, then flattened his ears nastily and opened his mouth.
“BARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARKBARK!” A deep doggy breath and a final “BARK!”
Barricade took a hesitant step backwards, staring down at the crazy creature. Mojo bared his teeth, growling. Little bits of drool dripped onto Barricade’s metal flesh. Mojo’s Autobot symbol on his collar flashed angrily in the sunshine.
“Wow. Awesome. Go Mojo!” Sam called, “Bite his ass! Give me back my dog, you Megatron wannabe!”
“Sam, please, quiet,” Optimus commanded, he switched his gaze back and forth between the Decepticon and the human, trying to keep control of the situation – and the peace.
“...should’ve installed those missiles on Mojo...” Ratchet muttered quietly from his position behind Optimus Prime’s back.
Ironhide was irritated by the talking and general carry-on. He wanted action. Enough with the yabbering! Seeing his chance while Barricade was distracted by Mojo’s brain meltdown, the Weapons Specialist shot a short & quick barrage of armament rounds at Barricade’s feet, nicking the metal.
The Decepticon shrieked from the pain in his feet and jumped backwards, startled, flipping Mojo into the air. The dog was free!
“MOJO!” Ratchet dove forwards into a sharp roll-and-catch manoeuvre. The dog was yelping at twice his normal volume and he didn’t stop even when Ratchet sat up in the dirt, cuddling the terrified dog into his chest.
“You’re okay, you’re okay, there’s a good dog, I’ve got you,” the medic soothed the frightened animal. Mojo hiccuped, calming down. Then he barfed, bringing up undigested dog food onto Ratchet’s chest. Ratchet held the dog away from his body, looking down at the mess covering his chest plates. “Oh, whoops. Don’t nobody throw the dog again. He ejects.”
Ironhide dropped Frenzy and leapt at Barricade, ramming the Decepticon onto his back with one large arm in a body slam and keeping him there with one oversized foot planted on his chest. His ferocious cannons whirred as they were jointly shoved firmly into the ‘Con’s face. “You grabbed our DOG? He has no weapons of defence! NO MERCY!” Ironhide roared, his optics burning with blue fire.
Frenzy screeched and tossed himself onto Ironhide’s back, hanging off his shoulders with legs braced on muscle cables and pummelling fists into the hard black impenetrable armor, “NOKILLBARRICADE!!NONONO!”
Ironhide grabbed one quick hand onto Frenzy’s arm, ripping the micro ‘Con off his body and tossing him straight at Optimus. The Leader ducked hastily as Frenzy flew by, still screaming.
Optimus Prime’s head moved in disbelief between the poor sick looking dog in Ratchet’s arms, Frenzy lying in a sobbing messed-up tangle on the ground and the Decepticon that Ironhide was set to blow the head off. He let loose a sigh, allowing the tip of his rifle to sink down. “Ironhide, do not kill him,” he said tiredly.
“I said no.” He glared at the angry black mech, letting his mood speak for itself.
Ironhide snarled back, “Fine.” He took his foot off Barricade’s chest, allowing the warrior to begin to get up warily – and the Decepticon was instantly smashed back down into the dirt by Bumblebee’s flying mass slamming into his chest.
“Bumblebee!!” Optimus cried. Ironhide grinned, chuckling.
The Camero was sitting with his thighs on either side of Barricade’s neck, his arm cannon was blazing lethal yellow plasma – ready to fire - and held inches from the ‘Con’s stunned faceplate. His other hand was jabbing a pointed angry finger into Barricade’s nose area in fury. Bee was angry. Very angry. NO ONE treated his Sam’s dog as a hostage!
“NO.” Now it was Bumblebee’s turn to look startled as he was lifted up into the air and off Barricade by Optimus Prime’s hand grabbing onto his rear neck armor. “We will NOT kill or injure him! Enough already!” Bumblebee was dropped on his rear into the dirt with a thump by a despairing Autobot Commander - when had his troops gotten so volatile and started to act like rampaging sparklings? Perhaps this mission away from home had gone on for too long.
Barricade lifted his head up and looked around warily, staying on his back. He was waiting for someone else to hit him. These Autobot’s had serious glitches in their programming. Really.
Sam was helping Ratchet clean up his chest with his t-shirt while Mikaela held Mojo in her arms. Optimus had sent both Ironhide and Bumblebee to stand behind him in disgrace. Ironhide slapped a hand onto Bee’s shoulder, congratulating him. “Onya Bee, nice work. You’ve got a real warrior in there somewhere, kid.” Bumblebee glared at him, putting a hand on Ironhide’s chest and shoving him backwards. Ironhide chuckled, still proud.
Barricade’s optics met the despondent gaze of Optimus Prime. The Leader shook his head, muttering discontentedly.
“You may stand, Barricade,” he finally said quietly, “But do not make any sudden moves or I will fire.”
Barricade was quite happy to listen to that order. He was on Prime’s side if it meant he stopped his troops from sitting on him. Frenzy got up and skittered over to his partner. Optimus let him go, dipping his head and watching him run past with appraising optics.
“Cade, Cade!” Frenzy squeaked, jumping onto the Decepticon’s sore foot and hugging his lower leg.
“OW! Zee!” Barricade growled, snagging a finger onto Frenzy’s arm and lifting him up for inspection. “You require repairs to your head support structure,” he said, seeing where he’d been hit by Bumblebee’s front bumper bar.
“Uhhuh, uhhuh, uhhuh,” Frenzy agreed. A quiet whirring sound similar to a cat’s purr emitted from the hacker.
Barricade shook his head and opened the side of his chest, gesturing for Frenzy to get inside. The little bot complied, hitching himself up and disappearing. Prime’s finger tightened on the grip of his rifle, ready for anything. Barricade’s chest panel closed without incident yet Frenzy’s excited talking could still be heard. The Decepticon rapped a fist on the closed panel, “Quiet!” he barked. The talking stopped.
The Autobots and lone Decepticon stared at one another. Hesitant.
“Now what?” Sam murmured, standing next to Bumblebee with Mikaela.
“We will not kill him. Nor will I hand him over to the United States Government. We have all seen what they can do to one of our kind, despite their overall good intentions. And yet...” Optimus’ optics dimmed with sadness, thinking. “It is not for us to imprison him, either.”
“What kind of slag is that?” Ironhide burst out, stepping forwards, gesturing angrily, “You cannot mean to set this pit-bred slagheap free!”
Ratchet spoke up, seeing where Optimus was going with this, “While Barricade and Frenzy did indeed murder several humans BEFORE the Allspark was destroyed, they have not caused any deaths, or even damage, in the many months since. We have been scanning for any sign of this, and found nothing. Am I not correct?” The medic’s words were meant for all of them but he aimed a cold stare at the Decepticon.
“You are... correct.” Barricade was confused. He HAD been keeping to himself. The worst he had done was get Frenzy to carry our surveillance on the Autobot base. He had no chance against the Autobots as a group and anything out of the ordinary would have attracted their intimate attention. He siphoned oil and fuel from mass pipe transit lines, yes, but it wasn’t in large enough amounts to be noticed by anybody. Did they actually mean to set him free?
“He has stolen supplies from the humans!” Ironhide desperately tried to get his own argument together. “That’s theft, where do you think he’s been getting his energon from? Saying ‘please’?!”
Optimus Prime locked stern optics with Ironhide, and then with the rest of the Autobot group. “Until such time as he causes concern, we must let him go. I will not keep him imprisoned indefinitely. There is nothing else we can do.”
“Nothing else? NOTHING ELSE?! You fraggin’ glitch! ARRGH!” Ironhide threw up his hands and turned around, stalking off, “Be it on your own CPU! I’m not helping you!” he yelled at Optimus over his shoulder.
Optimus did not respond. He would deal with Ironhide later. He looked down at Barricade standing uneasily in front of them. “Go, Barricade, but know this – damage, kill or otherwise disturb any humans and we will hunt you down. Give us reasonable cause and I will order your termination. Keep to yourself. Am I understood?”
“...yes...” Barricade knew the score. While he would be a ‘good bot’, he was only waiting for his Decepticon comrades to return. Until then, it was a waiting game, and they all knew it.
They all watched with different degrees of trepidation and concern as the Decepticon transformed without another word and accelerated down the dirt road away from them.
Sam laughed as Frenzy’s hand suddenly popped out of the Mustang’s window and shoved a backwards middle finger up into the air, defiant.
Barricade wasn’t the one to worry about. Frenzy was the crazy one!