(Awhile ago, me and @katodown discussed an AU idea in which Nightgear found little orphan Houston after a bad firefight, and adopted him as her own, caring for him while serving in the war. This is just me playing around with the idea and how she found him)
Search and rescue missions were Nightgear’s least favorite task. Digging through burnt and bombed out buildings in hopes of finding survivors often yielded nothing but entire days spent pulling charred shells of innocent civilians from crumbling rubble. It was enough to make her sick most days, but it was her duty as a soldier to make sure these bots at least got a proper burial.
She grunted with the effort of pulling another unnamed bot from what used to be a boarding house, laying the blakened shell next to the dozen others she’d already moved out. She straightened up and took a rag from her compartment, wiping her servos of the char, ash, and energon before touching the side of her helm.
/Lieutenant Nightgear, reporting in. Building 35C in sector 12 cleared out. No survivors, I repeat no survivors. Body count, 14./ She ended the comm., knowing full well that her fellow soldiers were still clearing out other buildings and adding to the total death toll. She sighed and took her ration out, taking a sip before putting it back.
A sound caught her attention, and she was immediately on alert, drawing her plasma shooter and spinning to face the direction it had come from. She waited in tense silence until she heard it again, a quiet and pitiful whining. She hit the button on her helm to activate a continous transmission, heading for the two-level building.
/Nightgear to base, investigating building 42A for possible survivors. Sounds heard point to some signs of life./
The femme touched her servo to the door, and it fell off it’s supports, hitting the ground with a dull thud. Unable to see anything immediately inside, she activated the miniature searchlight on her shoulder, carefully stepping over the threshold. The stench of death was heavy in here, more than the last building. The first doorway made her tanks churn, and she held a servo to her mouth to keep herself from gagging.
/First level… no survivors…/ She grit it out as she walked past and forced herself to cary on. An orphanage… It had to be a fragging orphanage. This war was claiming too many young lives.
Upstairs, there came another sound, sniffling, and Nightgear hurried for the staircase, climbing it as carefully as she could in case it wasn’t stable. Miraclously, she made it to the next landing and searched everyroom. In the last room, a bedroom full of small berths, she shined her light inside. Scuffling and whimpering came from in the corner, and Nightgear’s spark beat a little faster, realizing her survivor wasn’t a full-grown bot.
Venting a calm sigh, she began to slowly head for the other end of the room, keeping her voice as steady and soft as she could. “Hey…Hey, it’s alright. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m not, I’m here to help,” She was getting closer and now she could see a hint of white plating, hiding behind the last berth. “It’s okay, sweetspark. Don’t be afraid. I’m going to take you somewhere safe.” She saw it shift and smiled, kneeling down to hold out her servo. “Come on out.”
It took a few moments, but eventually the bot moved and came into the view of her searchlight, and she felt her spark leap into her throat. A young sparkling stood just feet from her, his blue eyes wide with fright and Primus only knew what horrors he’d seen in the last few hours. His white plating was dusted with ash, and a few scuffs and dents marred his tiny frame.
Seeing another bot brought a little glimmer of hope to his expression, and he ran towards her, throwing his arms around her waist and digging his grubby faceplates into her armor. Muffled clicking noises followed, and her optics softened with pity and sorrow, wrapping her arms around the poor sparkling.
“It’s okay…It’s okay, I’ve got you…” She looked to the berth and saw a nameplate screwed into the wall above it, squinting her optics to read the letters etched into the burnt metal. “‘Houston’…” The sparkling stopped its crying and looked up at her, sniffling as he cooed at her. She smiled back at him and picked him up, resting him on hip. “Houston. Cute name. I promise, I’ll take care of you.”
Young as he was, he seemed to understand her, cooing again with a shy smile and resting his helm on her chassis, listening to the soothing sound of her spark. Nightgear smiled and tightened her hold on him, using her servo to hide his face as she carried him out of the building.