Taylor was now breathless as she ran down the desolate road as fast as she could to reach Mount Ninovan. In the distance she could see Bumblebee in his beetle form taking off down the winding path on the mountain before reaching the bottom. Taylor hastily threw open the driver’s seat door and jumped in. The yellow beetle revved up his engine and took off, back up the mountain.
“You really managed to run that far?” Bumblebee asked in disbelief
“Yep! Thirty-five minutes! Not fast enough!” Taylor declared.
“No way! I could go faster than that! On foot!” Bumblebee exclaimed.
Taylor scoffed. “That sounds like a challenge, beetle boy.”
“Ooh, you’re gonna regret saying that.”
Taylor smiled mischievously. “I’ll race ya. Soon as this is over.”
Taylor and Bumblebee flew into the base and into the communications center, which was a scaffolding set in a C formation in order for humans to be seen eye-to-eye with the Autobots. Taylor hopped out of the driver’s seat and Bumblebee transformed into robot mode. Optimus Prime, Jazz, Ironhide, Ratchet, Wheeljack, and Major Lennox were there as well. Taylor ran up the scaffolding stairs breathlessly.
“Any updates?” She asked.
“I repeat, this is the Starbounder calling Optimus Prime. We have received your transmission, and we request authorization to enter orbit!”
That was her answer.
“Clearly that’s a female voice” Lennox commented.
“Which is a bit odd. There ain’t that many femmebots left…” Ironhide added, “They’re almost extinct!”
“But that is an Autobot secure channel” Ratchet mentioned, “It has to be one of ours.”
Taylor and Bumblebee looked at each other. Both their faces lit up and they instantly had the same thought.
“Knightingale and I think we know who it might be” Bumblebee announced.
Everyone turned to them. He elaborated as he looked at Optimus Prime.
“You remember when you first became Prime? And you promoted Knightingale to ‘Captain’?” He asked, “A team was assembled: Me, another bot, and two femmebots.”
“Roadshot and Nightshock” Taylor added.
“You think it may be the rest of the Red Delta Squadron?” Optimus implied.
“Who else could it be? There were no other femmebots than me who remained on Cybertron prior to launching the Ark” Taylor insisted.
She climbed up onto the scaffolding.
“Let me communicate with them! I’m pretty sure that’s Nightshock! If I talk to her, she’ll recognize my voice!”
She glanced between Optimus Prime and Major Lennox for approval.
Prime and the Major exchanged glances, then Optimus responded, “Proceed.”
Taylor eagerly grabbed the microphone bolted onto the desk and signalled the communicators to open the channel to her. When everything was in motion, Taylor stated:
“Starbounder, this is Captain Knightingale, security code ‘sigma alta’ calling from N.E.S.T. ground control. Red Delta? Is that you? Over.”
She waited for a response. The suspense was killing her! Everyone watched the screen in silence, waiting for the unidentified ship to reply, Bumblebee and Knightingale especially.
Finally, a response came through. “Cap’? Is that really you?”
The two young Autobots beamed, then the rest of their brothers-in-arms followed. Taylor recognized who was now speaking.
Taylor replied, “Yep, I’m still hanging in there, Roadshot! And Bumblebee’s with me too!”
“Holy primus! I can’t believe it! We thought you were dead!”
Taylor chuckled. “We’ll catch up with you once you’ve landed. Is everyone still together? Nightshock? Wadewatch?”
There was a bit of resistance from the other side, before Roadshot responded:
“Affirmative, and…unfortunately, a bit more than that.”
Taylor was surprised by that comment. She looked over her shoulder to Bumblebee, who just shrugged. Taylor turned back to the mic.
“N.E.S.T.’s primary communicators will grant you clearance to land. Bee and I will be there to greet you.”
“You got it ‘cap! Over and out.”
Taylor beamed, exchanging ecstatic glances with Bumblebee, while their elders smiled at them.
“Well Prime, it looks like our troop just got bigger!” Jazz exclaimed.
This was one of the few times anyone would ever see Optimus Prime smile, and when he did, as if for a moment, his huge burden was lifted off his shoulders, with the comforting news that more of their brethren survived.
“This is the second time I’ve seen this. However, I don’t quite remember when the first time was…”
It was a bit chilly as the doors rolled opened and the mountain air blew. Bumblebee and Taylor watched as a metal, slightly battered Cybertronian ship carefully made its way into the runway, and slow to a crawl. It was a sight to behold. It had been so long since Prime’s team had seen another Autobot ship; and it was relieving. A group of soldiers stood behind them, guns in hand just in case something bad happened. The youths were restless, like children waiting for their extended family to arrive. They were so excited!
Finally, the ship landed. The soldiers slowly advanced closer, some pointing their guns at the ship. There was a few moments of anticipation before the exit ramp descended. One by one, three bots stepped out. The first was a purple and silver femmebot with yellow eyes, and she slender and tall. The second one was another femmebot: slightly more heavyset, green and yellow with faded orange chains down the back of her head, which had the appearance of hair, and blue eyes. The third one was male, with red, black, and white colors; the shortest of the rest, and shy. Suddenly, they all exclaimed in unison:
They practically ignored all the soldiers, who were alerted by their sudden dashing and Taylor exclaimed:
“Hold your fire!”
The bots ran to Bumblebee eager and elated.
“Oh my primus! We never thought we’d get to see y’all again!” The green and yellow boy exclaimed.
Bumblebee chuckled. “You had that little faith that we could get away, Roadshot?” Everyone was surprised.
“Bee, your voice! When did you get it back?” The red and white bot inquired.
“How did you get it back?” The purple bot added.
“Huh? Oh!” Bumblebee cried, “That’s right! My vocal processor was busted last time I saw you, wasn’t it? Well, you’re not gonna believe this, but Knightingale actually fixed it!”
The red/white bot raised an eyebrow. “But…That requires a high degree of medical knowledge. How did she manage to accomplish such a feat?”
Roadshot cut him off. “Speaking of which, where is she?”
“Uh, down here!”
Taylor ineptly raised her hand. The bots looked down and spotted her. They stared at her for a hot minute, with widened eyes. Then, Bumblebee broke up the awkwardness and cleared his throat.
“Roadshot, Wadewatch, Nightshock,” he gestured to Taylor, “This…is Knightingale.”
All optics turned to Taylor, which surprising to her, made her extremely uncomfortable. She composed herself and said firmly:
“It’s good to see you all again: Nightshock, Wadewatch, Roadshot.”
They continued to gaze at her a few more seconds, before Roadshot saluted her.
“Captain, permission to speak freely?”
Taylor lifted her hands. “Granted.”
Then, Roadshot lowered her hand, and couldn’t help but point at her human captain.
“How the heck did you end up looking like that!?”
“Heh, it’s a long story…” Taylor replied.
Suddenly there was a crash from within the Starbouder. Bumblebee instinctively triggered his hand blaster to transform and point in the direction it was coming from.
“What was that?” He exclaimed, genuinely alarmed.
Now Taylor was peering at her team, like they were her kids sneaking a puppy into the car. They were just as alarmed as Bumblebee and Taylor were. But then, they looked at each other, then Roadshot groaned.
“Pardon me, Cap” she stated.
She trotted back to the Starbounder and shouted:
“Hotline! Geyt up outta there!”
A few seconds later, another bot stumbled his way out of the Starbounder. He was a tattered red bot with blue eyes. There wasn’t much to him, other than the fact this was one more team member than Taylor expected.
“Who’s that?” she asked.
Nightshock sighed slightly. “That’s Hotline. We picked him up three quartexes ago, when we received his ship’s distress signal. He was the only survivor” she explained.
Taylor frowned. Then, she glanced back up at Bumblebee. He was still holding his blaster up at the door, his optics glued to the ramp of the Starbounder.
Bumblebee seemed to snap back to reality an slowly lowered his blaster. He glanced at his gun, then sheepishly changed it back into his hand.
“Sorry” he simply said.
Taylor nodded. “It’s alright.”
Roadshot corralled the newcomer up to Taylor and Bumblebee. Hotline saluted at Bumblebee.
“Pleasure to finally meet you cap’ -er-um- captain!” he panted.
Bumblebee stuttered. “Um-!”
Taylor cut in. “Down here Hotline” Taylor called.
Hotline looked down, and around, until he finally spotted her.
“Oh! You’re…not an Autobot!” He stated.
“No, I’m afraid not.”
Roadshot hissed at him and was about to open her mouth, but then Taylor intervened.
“It’s alright, Roadshot. We’re all friends here” Taylor smiled. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Hotline.”
“Yes, er-you too, I mean, good to meet you do…Captain.”
Taylor nodded, and smiled. “On behalf of the Autobots and the human race, welcome to Earth-” Then she added, “-All of you.”
Taylor folded her hands.
“I’m sure you have a lot of questions, but first, we need to meet with Optimus Prime before I can answer any of them.”
Hotline’s optics widened. “We’re going to meet Optimus Prime? The real Optimus Prime? Now!?”
Taylor nodded. “Yes, you’ll find he’s not as intimidating as the title sounds.” She turned to Bumblebee. “Bee, can you show them around? I’ll be in the lounge if you need me.”
“You’re not coming?” he asked.
Taylor shook her head. “It’s not necessary. I won’t be the one leading them into battle.”
Bumblebee frowned. He understood what she was referring to.
Then, he announced, “If you’ll follow me, I’ll show you where do go.”
Taylor quietly left her team to Bumblebee. It wasn’t the reunion she was wanted. Then again, she wasn’t sure what she wanted. She had suspected that the Red Delta Squadron would find her new “look” a bit awkward and foreign, since they had presumably never seen a human before.
“I hope it won’t always be that way” she hoped.
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