Taylor wandered around the longue, quietly observing the other soldiers talking and laughing around a table. It was 2pm. Bumblebee and the rest of the Red Delta Squadron had left for a session down in the training rooms with Jazz and had to leave her alone for and hour or two. She sat alone, by herself, in her own thoughts. She watched the groups of soldiers running past, technicians walking together or carrying equipment, and even nurses coming towards the cafeteria. She thought back to what Optimus Prime said:
“You were brought here primarily to be a consultant. You have been on this planet long before any of the rest of us. We will be counting on you for advice and strategic planning.”
Taylor’s heart sank. “That’s it?”
She cleared her throat. “With all due respect, sir,” she stated, “I am fully capable for combat. I may just need a refresh of memory with some training, like the obstacle course upstairs.”
Optimus stared at her, with a glint of concern in his optics. That look was uncommon.
Ratchet spoke up. “Optimus and I agreed that as of now, it’s too dangerous for you to be out in the battlefield, for both you, and everyone else. The powers you had obtained is unpredictable and untested. Your human eye has already been affected by your last use.”
Taylor blinked, and removed her glasses, looking at her reflection through the lens.
“I can see just fine!” She objected, unintentionally sounding a bit whiny.
“Nevertheless,” Optimus Prime said, this time with a disapproving tone, “There may be worse consequences if you do it again. Don’t. Do it. Under any circumstances.”
Now Taylor definitely felt scolded by her dad.
After a moment of silence, Taylor replied, dismayed, “Yes sir.”
She was disappointed.
“Consultant? That’s it? He saw me take care of myself perfectly fine! If Ratchet was right about the fact I gained my powers after my interaction with the Matrix, it only took an extreme circumstance for me to unintentionally use my new powers! Shouldn’t I test myself to see how far I can go? So my eye is blue instead of green. So what?”
Taylor sighed, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms across her chest.
“I am grateful that I was allowed to come here. I mean, they’re still my family! I still want to fight for the freedom of our people! Technically I am but…Surely I can do more somehow…!”
Then, she saw a familiar face walk into the room. It was Corporal Dakota Fisher. She looked at though she had just come out of the showers, as her hair looked wet. She sat down in a corner about a few feet away from where Taylor sat, and pulled from out of her pocket, a letter. The Corporal tore the folded area of the letter open. She pulled out what looked like to be an official message. Taylor watched her. She read the letter with a serious look on her face, then, she groaned, leaning her head back, and closing her eyes. She looked a little distressed. It was at that moment, that Taylor decided to stand up, and walk over to her.
The woman soldier raised her head to address the person who spoke her name. When she saw who it was, she jumped from her seat and raise her hand in salute.
“Captain Knightingale, sir!” she exclaimed.
Taylor chuckled nervously and said, “Please, you don’t have to salute. I’m considered off-duty.”
Corporal Fisher slowly lowered her hand, a bit surprised.
“Mind if I sit with you?” Taylor asked.
Fisher raised her eyebrow, even more dumbfounded.
“Y-yes, of course” she stammered, sitting back down in her seat. Taylor sat in the chair to the left of Corporal Fisher.
Firstly, Taylor asked, “Is it okay if I call you Dakota?”
Dakota looked at her for a moment, then shrugged, “Sure, if you want.”
“I was just curious, Dakota,” Taylor wondered, “How did you end up here? I mean, how did you get chosen to be part of N.E.S.T.?”
Dakota didn’t answer for a moment. Then responded with:
“I’m…not really sure actually. I got word from my commanding officer saying I was being shipped out to Colorado. He didn’t say why, only that it was a special assignment.”
“It must have been shocking once you found out” Taylor observed.
Dakota was quiet before replying: “It didn’t really seem real. I just always thought that aliens were just ghost stories people would tell to each other during camping trips. It…did catch me a little off guard.”
“I understand a little of what that feels like,” said Taylor, “I mean, you humans scared the crap out of me when I saw you for the first time.”
Dakota chuckled. “You? Scared of us?”
Taylor nodded. “Yeah, I had never seen your species before. I was terrified!”
She leaned forward, folding her hands and staring out, a little dazed.
“But I got used to it. Humans are certainly not intimidating now.”
There was an additional period of silence. The two women looked away from each other. Taylor wasn’t weirded out by the quiet, but Dakota was immensely uncomfortable. Why did Taylor feel the need to talk to her? Then, Taylor had an idea.
“You got any current orders?”
Dakota looked over at her. “No,” she replied, “Sergeant Epps told me that I trained enough today, and let me have a break.”
“With all due respect Captain, if I were at any other base, I wouldn’t have all this free time. I’m not fond of having nothing to do.”
Taylor smiled. “Well, be anxious no more. Can you do something for me?”
Dakota nodded. “Anything Captain.”
Taylor stood up.
“I’m a little rusty on my combat skills. So, I need an assessment from someone who knows a thing or two about military training, and tell me what I need to work on.”
“In other words, you want me to fight you…sir?”
“Yes. You’re not the only one who’s uncomfortable with having so much free time. Whaddya say? You in?”
Dakota was about to raise her hand, but stopped herself when she remembered what Taylor told her. “Yes sir.”
Taylor stood on the corner of the mat, waiting patiently for Dakota to ready herself. Dakota raised an eyebrow. All that Taylor was wearing was black leggings and the black tank top that was underneath her red, loose sleeved shirt. Her glasses had been removed, and placed on a table in the corner of the room away from hazards, exposing Taylor’s blue eye. Other than that, she was completely bare!
“You sure you don’t need any protective padding, Captain?” Dakota asked, uncertain.
Taylor nodded. “I’m sure. I can take human punches. Are you sure you don’t need anything extra?”
Dakota wasn’t sure if Taylor was taunting her, or being serious. However, Dakota did decide to wear padded armor, along with a padded helmet. She took her place on the mat, and the match began.
The two circled around each other slowly, reading each other, and coordinating the best first move. Suddenly, Dakota raised her arm to throw the first punch. Taylor quickly moved her head to the right, surprised. Dakota then shot up her leg to kick Taylor in the side. It worked, and Taylor stumbled a little, feeling a small pain in her waist. Dakota didn’t flinch when she hit her. Her face was cold, and focused. She waited, fists up as Taylor recomposed herself. Taylor looked at her for a moment, analysing as quick as she could what to do. Dakota threw her fist again. Taylor, with her quick reflexes, grabbed Dakota’s wrist, and forced it out of the way, using her other hand to push Dakota in the jaw. Dakota grunted as she flew backwards, and hit back first onto the floor. Taylor winced.
“Ooh, sorry!” she cried.
She forgot her own strength, much stronger than the average human. However, Dakota managed to scramble back up. Her face was cold, and focused. Taylor then charged at Dakota, attempting to bodyslam her. It worked, and Dakota was sent onto the ground. Taylor jumped on top of her, and tried to punch her again, but Dakota stopped her. She winced under the weight that Taylor was pushing, but then used her knees to pelt Taylor in the stomach. Taylor heaved and gasped for breath. Dakota wiggled herself out of Taylor’s grasp long enough to free her leg, and push her off. Dakota wrapped her legs around Taylor’s waist and gave her a good punch in the face. Taylor cried out, half out of pain, and half out of surprise. She blocked Dakota’s next punch, and headbutted her. The sudden swift movement in the head made it swim slightly, as Dakota fell back, flipping backwards onto the mat. Taylor scrambled up. Her nose dripped with blood, as she stood breathless, waiting for Dakota’s next move. It took some effort, but the soldier got back on her feet. She squinted her eyes. Taylor threw up her fists, in a confident stance, gesturing Dakota to come at her. She wobbled a little, but soon came at Taylor again. Taylor stopped her, grabbing her on the shoulders with a tight grip. Dakota winced a little, but quickly, took her right hand, curling it around Taylor’s arms, and suddenly forcing her into a choke hold. Taylor’s eyes opened wide as she felt her windpipes close on her. Then, she had a plan. She forced herself up, jumped into the air as high as she could, and pulled Dakota down. Dakota was raised into the air, over Taylor’s head, and was thrown back. She was thrown back so hard, she flew into a weights station, and hit the back of her head on the pile of stone solid weights, creating a huge crashing sound.
Taylor covered her mouth in horror as she ran to Dakota, alarmed.
“Oh my gosh, Dakota! I’m so sorry! You okay!?” she cried.
She ran over to Dakota, who was seemingly unconscious. Taylor bent down, taking her two fingers and checking for Dakota’s pulse, legit scared that she may have ended this soldier’s life! Suddenly, Dakota’s eyes flew open. She wrapped her arm around Taylor’s, and pulled it back.
“Ah, ha, ah!” Taylor suddenly exclaimed.
She felt her arm being pulled back so far, she was afraid it would break.
“No more! I yield! I yield!” she cried.
Dakota held the stance for a moment, before releasing Taylor’s arm.
The doors to the gym suddenly burst open. There was Major Lennox and Sergeant Epps, with looks of sheer fear on their faces. Bumblebee and Jazz were there too, on their knees and looking in.
“Captain! Corporal! You guys okay?” Lennox exclaimed.
The two girls sighed. Taylor stood up, reaching her hand out to Dakota. Dakota gladly took it, and Taylor pulled her up.
“Sorry, Major Lennox, I take full responsibility,” Taylor replied, breathless, and wiping her nose, “I asked Corporal Fisher to train with me. But I guess-” She scratched the back of her head, her face becoming red with embarrassment, “-I forgot my own strength.”
Bumblebee scoffed, lowering his head, and shaking it in disapproval. Major Lennox was silent for a moment, observing the scene, then said:
“Well, are you injured in any serious way, Corporal?”
“No sir,” Dakota replied, “I’ll only be a little sore tomorrow, sir.”
Lennox nodded. “Good; and none of the equipment looks damaged. Well, as you were.”
The two girls let out a sigh of relief once Lennox turned his back and exited the room with his partner.
Once Jazz left as well, Bumblebee looked at Taylor and remarked, “ ‘Gale, please try not to get anyone killed. We’re trying to stay on this planet, ya know!”
Taylor nodded. “I know, I know! I’ll be more careful next time.”
As Bumblebee started to leave, Taylor called, “O-oh! Wait, Bee?”
Bumblebee leaned his head back down into the room again.
“Can you…Please not tell Prime about this?” she asked, with a nervous grin, folding her hands.
Bumblebee made a low humming sound before replying:
“Fine. But I’m watching you!”
Finally, everyone was gone, and the two girls were left to themselves.
They let out a breath of relief.
“You hit hard!” Dakota exclaimed.
Taylor laughed uncomfortably.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” she replied, “Like I said, I had forgotten my own strength! I believe I still have my original strength, but in a human body.”
“A superhuman” Dakota stated.
Taylor didn’t respond. She didn’t like being called that. That’s what the soldiers and scientists called her back at the base in Roswell: “superhuman,” and “super soldier.” She was an Autobot, plain and simple; whether she was human, cybertronian, or both.
“Well, I’d better get back to my quarters and await orders. It was good to spar with a fellow soldier” Dakota stated.
The two shook hands.