The medical team had retrieved the teens back at Chicago Theater as well as Carly. Once everyone was rounded up, the team headed back into town to regroup. When they had arrived, Spike and Daniel were waiting for them. “Carly!” Spike exclaimed. Carly jumped out of the yellow beetle and embraced him, overjoyed to see him. “I was so worried about you!” Spike cried. Carly chuckled. “It’s alright. I’m okay,” she turned to Taylor, “Thanks to Ms. McCarthy, and her partner.” “My partner?” Taylor glanced over to Bumblebee, who was sitting quietly in vehicle mode. Did Carly know? General Morshower emerged from the heavily armored van with two soldiers behind him. Taylor said, “General.” “Captain” said Morshower. One of the soldiers stepped forward, gesturing to Carly. “Come with me, miss.” Carly nodded. She turned back to Taylor. “Thank you, Ms. McCarthy” she thanked again, “and good luck.” Taylor nodded. “Thank you.” As Carly was being led into the van, Taylor could see that Jacob was hesitating. “Taylor, I want to help. I want to fight too. Isn’t there anything I can do?” Taylor put a hand on his shoulder, and was firm. “Spike, I know how it’s like to feel useless. But it’s not your time. Go back to your father, and Carly. Right now, they need you.” Spike wasn’t sure at first, but then, he eventually nodded, got back into the van, and the door shut.
General Morshower cleared his throat. “All clear” he announced. Bumblebee transformed into robot mode. He seemed to be shaking a little. “Thank Primus, that was hard!” He declared. Taylor grinned. “What? Ya got stage fright?” Bumblebee retorted and shifted his weight. He groaned. “Maybe a little…Pretending to be a primitive Earth vehicle is harder than I thought. It’s like playing dead!” General Morshower pulled out a big walkie-talkie.
“Captain Lennox, report.”
“This is Captain Lennox. We’ve secured the city, sir. The Decepticons have all fled.”
Another voice, Taylor recognized to be Ironhide, said, “That was too darn easy! Megatron’s gotta have somethin’ else goin’ on!”
“The seekers Ratchet ‘n’ I were fighting took off. Do y’all think it was maybe a diversion?” Jazz added.
“Optimus Prime, do you copy? What’s your take on this?”
“General Morshower, are there any power plants nearby the city?” said Optimus Prime.
“There’s one: a nuclear power plant, about fifty miles out Southeast. Do you think the Decepticons will attack?” Morshower inquired.
“That’s not good. If they do something foolish, the whole plant could potentially explode. The whole city would be covered in high levels of radiation!”
“Why would humans put an explosive power plant near a city?” Bumblebee asked.
“We need a small team to investigate. We need to know if they’re already there without detection.” asked Morshower.
Bumblebee piped up. “I can do it! I’m the smallest, I guarantee you, I can get in there undetected!”
“Heh, it’s not often that Bumblebee will enthusiastically announce his size” Taylor thought, snickering.
Bumblebee heard her. “What?” He asked defensively.
Taylor shook her head. “Nothing.”
“Do it, Bumblebee. Alert us immediately on what you find” Optimus accepted.
“I’m going too” Taylor insisted, “I’m even smaller than he is. Plus, if I’m there, the workers will know to trust me since I’m human.”
“Very well, but do not engage. Just tell us what you find.”
General Morshower put the walkie-talkie away. “Thomas, be sure to keep a team on standby once we report. There’s no telling how long we can sneak around before we get caught” Taylor recommended. Morshower nodded. “Copy that. Good luck, Knightingale.” Taylor nodded, smiling hopefully. She turned back to Bumblebee. “Bumblebee, let’s roll out to the power plant!” Bumblebee obeyed, transformed, and the two headed out.
Bumblebee and Taylor got to the power plant roughly twenty-minutes later. “Oh no…” Bumblebee commented when they saw smoke rising from abnormal areas of the plant. The gates had been blasted open, the checkpoint station was now a pile of debris. Bumblebee paused just long enough for Taylor to step out before he transformed, and secured his blaster. “Stay sharp” Taylor warned. Bumblebee nodded, as they carefully entered the plant.
When the two Autobots got inside, they found dozens of human workers huddled into a corner, gunned down by none other than Starscream, and his seekers: Thundercracker, the blue jet plane and Skywarp, the purple and black jet plane. There were other Decepticons taking glowing, cubes from a stack on the other side of the room, and placing in what looked like to be an armored aircraft. Bumblebee and Taylor hid behind one of the large, round machines still running amidst the chaos. Taylor pressed her ear piece. “This is Knightingale reporting in at the power plant. We were right. There are Decepticons everywhere, and it looks like they are siphoning the energy just as we suspected. They don’t look like energon though” she whispered. Bumblebee aimed his blaster at the stack of energy cubes but Taylor hissed, “No, Bee! We can’t shoot those!”
“Why not?” Bumblebee hissed back, a little annoyed, “The blast would cause a distraction, and we could get the humans out!”
“Yeah, in addition to letting out fumes, intoxicating the atmosphere, and killing all the humans in this building, and from miles further!”
Bumblebee sighed, and put his blaster down. “Wow, okay, then I guess I’d better not do that then.”
“Knightingale, this is Optimus. Jazz, Ironhide, Ratchet, and I are on our way, ETA one half megacycle.”
“Copy that. We’ll try pave the way for you. Over and out.”
Taylor sighed, anxiously watching the Seekers flamboyantly waving their guns around at the humans, threatening to blow them to pieces.
“What do we do?” Bumblebee asked.
“We’ve got half an hour. We need to do something useful until they get here. We can’t just be sitting ducks!” Taylor thought out loud, “It’d be nice if we could get those workers out before something bad happens…”
Bumblebee was confused. “What’s a ‘sitting duck’?”
Taylor couldn’t help but snicker at that question. “I’ll explain it to you later, when we’re not in fear for our lives.”
There was a moment of silence while Taylor was pondering their next move.
“We can buy them some time if we can somehow shut down the power to the entire plant. That way, the Decepticons wouldn’t get anymore energy, and will be forced to leave the room to investigate, and we can get the workers to safety.”
Taylor poked her head out, only for a moment to scope out the rest of the room. Then, through the open door, and down the hall into the next room, Taylor could see a series of control boards.
“If I can get to that console, I could do an override shutdown on the entire plant. Then, we can close off the rooms where the Decepticons are, and get a path going for the workers to escape.”
“Didn’t Optimus say not to engage?” Bumblebee inquired.
Taylor was getting annoyed now at Optimus Prime’s constant orders to not engage practically anything they came across! “He’s concerned about me now that I’m human, and I understand. But it’s better to do this than do nothing!” Taylor looked up to Bumblebee. “Bee, can I trust you to cover me?” she asked. Bumblebee smiled. “Captain, it’d be my genuine pleasure.”
Taylor poked her head out, cautiously, before front rolling to the next engine. Bumblebee followed her, as quietly as he could, towards the open doorway. “I want to squash one of them so bad! They’re so tiny! And frail, and helpless!” exclaimed Skywarp. The two froze, Taylor holding her breath. “Megatron explicitly stated not to harm the fleshlings!” Thundercracker corrected, “I don’t know why. I don’t see how they’d be useful to him or Nazeer. Heh, ironic, isn’t it?” “Who’s Nazeer?” Taylor wondered. She continued to focus on their objective. Once the seekers stopped their bantering, Bumblebee and Taylor continued to sneak around, ducking behind the heat engines, one by one. Once they reached the door, Taylor paused a moment to catch her breath. The Decepticons had yet discovered their presence. She glanced at Bumblebee, signalling she was moving forward, and, with his nod of confirmation, she moved forward.
Bumblebee could no longer follow her, since she had a better chance of getting to that console board undetected, while Bumblebee would be standing out in the open. Taylor’s heart started to race, very uneasy with the thought of being caught. It had been years since she had to creep around on an infiltration mission. She was worried about messing up. But, she managed to make it to the console board, and began configuring the controls. It took her more than a few minutes longer than she desired to just to get into it, since she had little knowledge with hacking. She tried as hard as she could to stay focus, but it was difficult, considering she froze nearly every time she heard heavy footsteps. “Well, that’s all we can fit in this shipment. We need to get this one out and reload” said a Decepticon. As he was saying this, Taylor finally got inside the system. With a thumbs up, she found the emergency override, and flipped the switch.
What she didn’t realize, was that in initiating the emergency override, she had just announced to the entire plant that she was there. Alarms blared, and flashing red lights flashed everywhere. The Decepticons immediately snapped to attention and spotted Taylor. “Hey! What is a human doing there!?” Thundercracker exclaimed. “Hey, it’s the red maned fleshling from the base! Get it!” Starscream exclaimed. “Scrap!” Taylor shouted. “Knightingale! Look out!” Bumblebee jumped out of his hiding place and threw up his shield just before she was blasted. He powered up his blaster and fired. “Keep going! I’ve got your back!” he informed Taylor. Taylor nodded worriedly, still kicking herself for her stupidity. Fortunately, the seekers were distracted by Bumblebee just long enough for Taylor to shout to the workers, “This way! Move it!” The workers did not hesitate to break for the doorway. They quickly ran past Taylor and Taylor rushed to access the blast doors. “Bumblebee! Come on!” she exclaimed, gesturing him to move to the other side of the doorway. Bumblebee shot a look at her, before front rolling past the firing lasers, and right next to Taylor. Taylor slammed a button, and the blast doors started to close. Bumblebee exhaled a sigh of relief. “You didn’t know that was gonna set off an alarm? I thought you knew!” Bumblebee cried. “Well, in my defense, I haven’t done a sneaky mission in twenty years!” Taylor snapped. Bumblebee looked at her, puzzled. Taylor groaned. “Twenty years is like two thousand stellar-cycles! Earth is weird that way!” She frantically examined all the other possible blast doors and current security footage. “Come on! Come on!” Taylor growled, “Get your act together Knightingale! You can do this!” Bumblebee could hear shouting from both Decepticons and humans from the other end of the hall. “Knightingale!” he cried, nervously. “I know! I know!” Taylor remarked, then, finally she shouted, “Got it! Down they go!” They heard doors slam and now shouting of anger. “Okay, that should do it! Let’s escort these guys out safely. Bumblebee, get ahead in the front, I’ll cover the rear!”
Together, Taylor and Bumblebee rounded up the workers together, and made their way through the corridors of the power plant. There were a few Decepticons Taylor had failed to seal in, but luckily, the two were managing well in fighting them off. Finally, with the help of the workers (Taylor was proving to be a bad navigator), they managed to blast their way out into the open fresh air. The workers ran as fast as they could out of the outer court, and into the grasslands. “Will they be alright?” Bumblebee inquired. Taylor hesitated for a moment. Then, as she was about to open her mouth, she could see military vehicles coming up from the North, all seemingly guarding two ambulances. “Knightingale, this is Squad Theta. We have visual on the plant” she heard announced from her comm link. Taylor sighed in relief. “Yeah, I see you Squad Theta. Am I glad to see you!” Taylor and Bumblebee could also see the familiar, but also out of place vehicles speeding towards them. They were the rest of the Autobots. Taylor sighed again. “Well, that could’ve gone better” she chuckled, embarrassed, scratching the back of her head.
Bumblebee looked down at her, and laughed. “Hey, we got the humans out safely. I say we did the best we could’ve done.”
“Yeah…You’re right; and next time, I’ll be better prepared” Taylor vowed
Taylor glared at him, then the two laughed.
Then, Bumblebee instantly thought of something. “You know, for all we talk of doing that more smoothly,” he wondered, “That escape seemed way too easy. We’re not done yet…”
“Smart way to think, Autobot.”