Peter climbed into Optimus’s cab while waving at Natasha and Arcee as they left to return the RV. Laura and Carol had chosen to ride with Jazz, as both loved his newer and much sleeker form.
He tired his headset into their communications and was discussing the plan with everyone else. The main issue was what to do if it wasn’t a Cybertronian and if the infiltrator was Nimrod or human forces.
“While I can appreciate your help, Peter,” Optimus explained, “You cannot interfere with our mission. If the invaders are your people, we must ensure they are not tampering with our ship. And that they are not harming anyone.”
Peter sighed “I get that, but I can talk to them, make them aware they are trespassing, and get them to leave.” Peter paused and leaned back in the massive leather seat. ”But if it’s Nimrod, we’ll have a problem. I think he was made from Cybertronian tech, and he will be hostile. His programming is driving him to annihilate all Augmented life on Earth, and I have to stop that. Your people have waited millions of years, stopping Nimrod might need to be done first.”
There was silence for a few minutes, and Peter wondered if Optimus was about to reject his proposal.
“As long as Nimrod poses no danger to my people's wellbeing, then I agree. Stopping him from accessing Teletran One or the weapons systems of the Ark should take priority. I will not allow life on this world to end because of my impatience.”
Peter smiled, “Thank you, and once he is, I will make it my mission to help as many people as I can. We can bring in any equipment you might need.”
“We thank you Peter, but once Ratchet is functional again he should be able to repair any damage we might have encountered. We will leave the discussion about the remains of our people until after we are more prepared to deal with your government. For now, The Ark is our main priority, and stopping your Sentinel, Nimrod.”
Peter sighed, “and what do we do if he’s a cannibalised Cybertronain? I mean, we don’t want him, but he might not be one of your people either.”
“I will leave that decision until I meat him. If he contains a spark, then he is one of us, if he is a machine made by your people, then he is your problem.” Optimus stated, “However. If he is hostile to the Autobots, we will react accordingly. I will not leave a threat to run free within the Ark, we have the resources to repair it, but they will be stretched thin.”
Peter would be glad if Optimus and the others were forced to destroy him. It would take the decision and the fallout away from him for a change. Nobody in the government was going to argue, especially once Optimus started to pressure them over the contents of Hoover Dam.
There was also the issue of Arcee. Optimus and the others genuinely felt grateful for Reboot, and Arcee's upgrade, but now they were also beginning to ask if there was a way for the rest to have the same treatment. A simple symbcell bath wasn't going to be enough, and so far, all the answers he had gotten had been a resounding no. The only two symbiotes he hadn't contacted were Logan, as he still hasn't returned, and Flash, as Mariah sent a rather pointed and rude response.
Reboot herself was able to spawn once, but if they used the chance up with another Autobot, would that affect their chances with Cybertron. It was all guesswork and conjecture, and Optimus’s pragmatic attitude was to wait until they were home before making any decision.
Even without powers, Peter could tell this had not gone down well with the others. Being stranded on an alien world, and slowly starving with the solution sitting right there was not an easy thing to swallow.
But as Reboot and Arcee were not prisoners or willing, then it would ultimately be her decision. For now, Natasha had told him that they would be heading back to the warehouse, to allow Reboot to join with her sisters, and grow a little.
Allowing Reboot to bond with other hosts would deeper her understanding of her powers, and let Arcee experience the lives of humanoids. She might be an alien but Peter even wondered if interspecies cooperation could be achieved faster by allowing the Klyntar to act as intermediaries. Their natural telepathic powers would remove language barriers and could instruct their hosts on cultural taboos and rituals that would normally need months of study to become familiar with.
Those cheating rotten turds, Peter thought to himself as an idea crossed his mind.
The girls had no issue learning the scrolls and had mercilessly teased Peter about his slow progress through a never-ending pile of Wakandan laws and practices. They had cheated. They had snuck off, bonded with Jhalia to introduce Shuri to the greater group and in doing so gained all her intimate knowledge about Wakandan culture, oh they are in so much trouble, he thought to himself, and he pondered on how to get them back.
Touching the interface with his powers, he opened his contacts page, and selecting Emma, sent her a message.
Busy right now, still solving the Sentinel problem, but once I’m home, we can talk about what I owe you, make a list, check it twice, and you can let me know if I need to be naughty or nice, xx Peter
It will definitely be naughty darling, and expensive. Emma replied, but don’t make me wait too long, I have a life you know, and I was quite clear I am not to be taken for granted.
If Emma wanted to get in on their lives, then she now had an open invitation. They had already discussed it, and after his need to give her protection against Ross, there was now very little between them. This was just the official way of welcoming her to the family, and a good way to get back at the others, as he was sure he could persuade Emma to help. An outside ally, and one that nobody would suspect.
The final leg of the journey was quiet, and nearing the large volcano there were several park roads, all heading around but not close to the base. It had been marked as dangerous, falling rocks and other rain hazards had closed it off, and Peter wondered if it was dangerous or if Trask had paid someone to keep it private.
“Okay everyone, I've got police frequencies monitored and so far nothing over the usual scumbags and idiots. We’re going to have to go off-road, the GPS says the coordinated Optimus gave us is through the park and at the bottom of the volcano. So, on foot from here.” Peter said, as his armour slid over him. The black was safe to use here. Not many people outside New York cared who Venom was.
As Arcee approached the side of the road, Natasha dismounted and her armour slid over him, thickening. Wandering into a possible combat situation unarmoured against a Sentinel that had absorbed who knows what power was stupid, and as Laura and Carol, did the same, he nodded.
“Optimus, you won't fit past the trees. You let us scout ahead with Arcee and Jazz. follow behind, keep your distance and we’ll make a perimeter around you.”
“If Nimrod is at the Ark, then stealth is unnecessary. Ironhide said but Venom shook his head
“It's not him I’m worried about, it's a jogger or hiker seeing five giant robots walking through the trees and calling the national guard.”
The giant robot huffed and crossed his arms, “This mission that requires speed, not stealth. Once the authorities are alerted we can take care of them.”
“Yup, sure you can, but right now the public is still twitchy after our own robot attack, they might not listen and come guns blazing. You can handle yourselves, but do you want to open fire on innocent people?”
Ironhide paused for a second, “A valid point, but in these forms, we are conspicuous anyway. I still vote for speed. If your forms are able to keep up.”
Venom laughed, “we’ll have to slow down for your rusty undercarriage to stop from falling apart at the speeds we can fly, you cant use your vehicle mode in dense trees.”
Ironhide laughed, “And why have you been examining my undercarriage. I was aware that you preferred the slimmer feminine curves of Arcee’s exhaust ports, or do you like both?”
Natasha began to hum, “I like auto butts and I cannot lie,” and as Carol snorted, Venom shook his head,
“Yeah yeah, fine, Optimus, you’re the tiebreaker, speed or stealth?” Venom asked him.
Optimus looked at Ironhide, who shrugged. “If Nimrod is accessing our systems then stealth is unadvisable. If the Ark powers up, your authorities will be altered. Speed is a more desirable option.”
Venom nodded, “fine, speed it is.” and pressing the control panel on one of his gauntlets the burners on his harness test fired. “Keep up old man. You've got a good million years on me, I’ll try not to embarrass you too much,” and as the GPS tracked the location of Optimus’s signal, Venom fired the booster and hovered a few feet of the gound.
“Last one there’s a rusty ladle.” and laughed as he shot off.
Talon, Widow, and Ravage all stared at Venom as he shot off between the trees, “I had imagined though that we would stay together.” Optimus said, “Autobots, transform and roll out.” and the eight moved forwards at a much slower pace,
Over their comms, “I have flight, good reflexes and very precise senses. I'm just scouting.”
Widow snorted, “yeah, he’s showing off. It’s tough in New York.” and she sighed, “I think he had dreams of being this big hero, and well. Life and a few things got in the way. Venom became a big public figure for the wrong reasons, and well, now he hardly goes out.”
“Okay, heads up, sending a new route your way, campers at my location.” and two dots pinged on their HUDS where Venom was and where the campers were.
As the group crept through the trees, “it's fine though. He’s just blowing off steam, and well, he might not admit it but deep down he always worries about people leaving him. Pete.” and Widow stopped, “Pete bottles a lot up, and you’re helping to get some of that stress dealt with. We can only do so much when he refuses to really talk.”
Ravage nodded, “yeah, I left pretty much right after we hooked up,”
“Pete’s still a bit goofy, we’re all happy but it's just his way. Plus, giant robot lady, so dont worry, spend time with him. He was cut up about Carol leaving, even if he didn't say anything,” Widow said after Venom gave his report.
Ravage nodded, “It was hard for me too though. Remember, Reboot will bond with so many, and miss that connection. You might want to stay on Earth for a while, at least until Cybertron is more habitable.”
“Routes clear until the volcano. No sign of Nimrod but I am seeing scorch marks on some trees. He’s not here now, but he was here, and he wasn’t happy.”
“Affirmative Peter. We are still en route and given our speed, we should be there within thirty of your minutes.” Optimus replied,
“I read you, will circle back to make sure there is nothing else in your way.”
Arcee sighed once Venom had given his report, “That is a problem though, if we are to save Cybertron, we must leave immediately. With Reboot's help, I can reformat the planet, returning it to its original form. I wish to stay, but for the sake of my people, I can’t. No matter what.”