Taylor lifted her head. She had been sitting in the cafeteria at N.E.S.T. waiting for news. She had cleaned the house a little bit, but wasn’t motivated enough to do any renovations. She couldn’t focus under the circumstances. Dark circles were slowly beginning to appear under her eyes from lack of sleep. It was Dakota. Taylor hastily wiped off her face with her top.
“Yes? Did you need something Corporal?” She asked in a quiet, tired tone, “Come, sit down.”
Dakota sat down in the chair across from her. She shifted her weight in the seat uncomfortably.
Then, she asked, “Permission to speak freely, Captain?”
Dakota leaned forward.
“It seems like you’ve been avoiding Bumblebee. Did something happen between the two of you?”
Taylor shared down at the table.
“Why do you say that?”
“You two seem inseparable since I’ve gotten here. It’s a bit concerning seeing Bumblebee walking around, but you absent.”
Taylor leaned back in her seat and sighed, rubbing her eyes.
“We got into a fight.”
“Was it about the cave-in situation?”
Taylor sighed again and moved back forward.
“To speak frankly Corporal Fisher, he thinks I’m babying him.”
Dakota couldn’t help but snort a little. “What?”
“He implied that, after a certain situation back on Cybertron, I handicapped him, never gave him a chance to do anything, at least not by himself.”
Dakota raised an eyebrow. “May I ask what that was Captain?”
Taylor hesitated. She hated to think about that day, that one moment that caused eons of regret and pain and scarring.
“Optimus Prime had sent us on a Reconnaissance mission. We were to break into one of the Decepticon outposts and steal information. I sent Bumblebee to scout ahead. But then, something went wrong…”
“Now, I think you know what I want” he said in a rough, threatening voice,
“You’re a captain, and a tactician. You know every code and tactic that the Autobot’s use, whether offense or defense. So, I want to know: where are Metroplex’s defense systems?”
“I was fully aware of Decepticon interrogation tactics. It wouldn’t have mattered what I said, whether it was the truth or a lie, they would always be brutal. I had been in their prison long enough that I was willing to hold my tongue. But then, Bumblebee got involved.”
“Leave her alone, you piece of scrap!” She could hear that familiar voice cry out from the other side of the room.
Knightingale’s vision got blurry again. Her energy supply was lowering.
“Bumblebee, stay out of this!” She wanted to scream.
“THE CODES!” He shouted.
He grabbed Bumblebee’s throat with claw-like knives attached to his fingers. He began to pull harder. Bumblebee closed his optics, trying to pretend that he didn’t feel it. But he couldn’t do it this time.
“NO! STOP! STOP IT!” Knightingale shouted desperately.
“And the worst part is, Bumblebee is right. I did baby him. Not intentionally, but….”
Taylor’s eyes wandered into the open rec room.
“I nearly lost my best friend. The one treasure I had left from when things were good.”
Taylor looked at Dakota.
“Wouldn’t you want to protect your last living family?”
Dakota stared at Taylor for a long moment, unable to respond. Taylor turned away again.
“I lost my caretaker, my home, my town, that starry sky,” she said, “I couldn’t bear to lose him too.”
Taylor peeked into the Autobot’s quarters. The cryo-tubes stood in the corner of the room, now frosted, hiding the entities inside. On the other side of the room was Perceptor. Large chemistry tubes were now littering the stretch in the middle of the room, now being used as a table. Various bottles were filled with various chemicals in different quantities. On a smaller table next to it was a large chunk of energon, which had recently been chipped away at. When Taylor was assured that they were alone, she entered the vicinity.
“Any progress, Perceptor?” Taylor inquired.
“Very slow, but steady, Captain” Perceptor replied, “Earth electrical power is…very limiting compared to Energon. I’m doing the best I can.”
Taylor nodded. “Keep on it. I appreciate you working on this.”
Preceptor looked over his shoulder and smiled.
“I’m simply doing my duty” he replied.
Taylor walked to the back center of the room where Teletraan One stood. Since her last use, a scaffolding had been put in place for Taylor to use. She chuckled, then quickly saddened. She walked up the scaffolding, then said:
“Teletraan, have there been any updates on the Decepticons whereabouts?”
“Scanning…” replied Teletraan.
There was a moment of silence and a quiet whir as Teletraan made a scan over the globe.
“Negative. No Dark Energon signatures detected.”
“There’s something we’re missing. They’re obviously not on the surface. They’ve got to be either underground, or they’ve got a ship under cloaking” she mumbled to herself, “I don’t like having no idea where they are.”
“I could be of assistance Captain.”
Taylor turned around. It was Nightshock.
“Nightshock, did you find something?” she asked.
“Not exactly Captain. However, before the cave-in completely left us immobilized, I managed to fire a tracking device on one of the fleeing Deceptions.”
“A tracking device?” Taylor echoed.
“Not only that Captain. It also locates the radio system and locks onto it. We’ll be able to transmit all transmissions back to Teletraan. We may be able to get more information on what the Decepticons are up too.”
Taylor grinned. “Excellent Nightshock!”
Taylor turned back to Teletraan One. “Teletraan, connect to that device and begin relaying audio of radio transmission starting at the beginning.” Teletraan made a garbled whirring sound until he replied. “Relaying.”
“What’s the status of the Autobot intruders?” A naily voice spoke, whom Taylor recognized as Starscream.
“All buried, Commander. But unfortunately, so is our Energon.”
The voice on the other end grumbled. “Then dig out the Energon! Use poles if you have to! We need to make more Dark Energon! Our Lord Megatron will not last much longer.”
“Yes, Commander Starscream.”
“So, the Decepticons are having the same problem as us, eh?” Taylor commented.
“Commander Starscream the…the Energon has been removed.”
“The Autobots dug it out before we had a chance, sir.”
There was an angry growl as Starscream apparently stepped away from the mic for a moment.
“Search for another source! If energon exists on this planet, then it must exist elsewhere!”
“I wonder if they found any…”
“Doctor, what is your progress on the energon formula?”
“You’ll be pleased to hear that I have made vast progress. Each test is bringing back more and more positive results. Soon, we can make use of Earth’s resources.”
Immediately Taylor’s attention was fully caught.
“They’re working on a substitute as well?”
“They appear to be possessing the upper-hand once again” said Nightshock.
Taylor thought for a moment, clenching her fist.
“We’ve got to get our hands on whatever they’re working on. Obviously they’ve found another energon resource somewhere” she continued thinking out loud.
She looked up.
“Teletraan, are you able to trace the ship’s flight pattern using?”
“Affirmative. Displaying flight pattern.”
Teletraan pulled up a map and red dotted lines were stretching from New Mexico, to a nameless secluded area in Africa, then to a perplexing location: the Arabian Sea. Taylor was soon suspicious.
“Teletraan, scan around the Arabian Sea but ten thousand feet below the surface.”
“Scanning…” said Teletraan, “High Dark Energon traces found at 6,000 feet below the surface.”
“Gotcha!” Taylor hissed.
“Why would the Decepticons be underwater?” Nightshock asked.
“That has to be where the Nemesis crashed!” Taylor exclaimed, now excited, “Wow! They were way off from where the Ark crashed!”
“Captain, are you suggesting we infiltrate?” Nightshock guessed unsuringly, “Shouldn’t we wait until we’re at full strength?”
“We don’t know how long that’s gonna take…” Taylor sighed, irritably.
Then, she had an idea.
“We don’t have to storm in their guns blazing. They’re in the water. All it would take to take the Nemesis down would be to flood it.”
“Does Earth have powerful enough explosives?”
“I’m not sure. C4 could be enough if we struck the ship at its weak points. There is no way it could’ve crashed into the sea without a scratch. We could get close enough, scan the ship for weak points and plant C4 in its weak points.”
“You sure love sporadic treks, don’t you Captain Knightingale?”
Taylor turned around. There was Major Lennox, along with Sergeant Epps. He had been standing at the entrance, listening into their conversation. Taylor bit her lip.
“Major, I know how this sounds. I understand the risks.”
She took a deep breath.
“We could wait for Perceptor to find an energon substitute, and then we would be at full strength. But what if the Decepticons finish first? What if they have information we don’t? They already found that supply of energon before us, who’s to say they won’t finish their repairs first and attack? They could even have information on where they plan to strike next once they’re ready! Doesn’t this seem like an opportunity we should take advantage of?”
Major Lennox thought for a long moment, carefully considering his options. After a while, Epps leaned forward and inquired:
Finally, Lennox took a deep breath and sighed.
“Well, guess you’d better equip yourselves, ‘cause we’re heading to the Arabian Sea.”
Until further notice, Into the Fray will continue to update twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday 4pm EST.