Taylor jumped as she whirled around. It was Perceptor. She stood up quickly from her seat, and Dakota soon followed. At first, Perceptor didn’t respond to her gesture. Then, he looked down and saw her staring at him.
He exclaimed, “Oh! My apologies, Captain! I’m still not used to your…new appearance.”
Taylor nodded in understanding. “It’s quite alright, Perceptor. Is Bumblebee alright?”
“He’s awake now. A little dazed, but alive.”
Her heart lept. Taylor’s face burst into a huge grin and exclaimed, frantically moving hair out of her face, then composing herself.
“Good! That’s good! So we can begin to recharge the others?”
Perceptor nodded. “Major Lennox has also informed me that there were more Energon deposits in that cave than we originally anticipated.”
“That’s excellent!” Taylor gasped, “Fantastic!”
There was a moment of awkward silence before she asked:
“Can I see him?”
“Er, yes! Absolutely! If you would follow me please-”
As Taylor followed Preceptor exiting the room, she turned back to look at Dakota. She gave Dakota a glance of gratitude, almost mouthing “thank you” with her lips. Dakota nodded, and smiled.
Taylor slowly followed Preceptor inside the Autobot Quarters, and down to the far corner of the room. There was Bumblebee, sitting on the operating table wincing and rubbing his head. Taylor breathed a sigh of relief. She ran over to the side of the table, and pushed a ramp up and walked atop of it.
“How do you feel?” She asked.
“Like my cords have been torn out, twisted, and put back in reverse order” Bumblebee grumbled.
Taylor couldn’t help but chuckle. She put her hand on his arm. He looked up her, and smiled smally.
“He’s had temporary sickness to what the humans call, fission power,” Wheeljack explained, “But he should get over it in the next few nanoclicks.”
“What about the remaining energon?” Taylor asked.
Preceptor showed Taylor a large vial of glowing blue energon, “In the next couple days, we’ll be able to fully charge all functioning Autobots, and operations can proceed as normal.”
Taylor grinned. “Good, good!”
She turned to Bumblebee. “As soon as you’re feeling well enough, let’s go home. It’s been a long week.”
He glanced at her and sighed. “Yes, I agree.”
Taylor took a deep breath and sighed. Bumblebee was also standing there, a bit anxious himself and shifted his weight nervously. He looked down at Taylor.
“Are you ready for this?” he asked. Taylor loosened her shoulders.
“Yeah! Yeah, we’ll be fine! I mean, Prime isn’t going to be too harsh with punishment…right?” she said.
Bumblebee made a face and shrugged. Taylor scoffed.
“Your expression is very reassuring. Well, let’s go in.”
Taylor walked cautiously forward. Once again, by Optimus Prime’s firm expression, she couldn’t tell if he was angry or not. Ratchet was also standing with him.
“You…wanted to speak to us…sir?” Taylor asked.
“Yes,” Optimus replied, “I wanted to speak to you concerning yours and Bumblebee’s actions while we were indisposed. You disobeyed my orders and used your powers to revive Perceptor. In addition, you put Bumblebee’s spark in jeopardy by allowing him to be operated on-”
“-With all due respect, sir,” Bumblebee interrupted, “That wasn’t Taylor’s fault. That was my choice. I insisted.”
“Yes, I’m well aware of that, Bumblebee” Optimus reiterated.
Bumblebee said nothing.
Optimus Prime continued. “What do you have to say, Knightingale?”
Taylor was quiet for a moment. Then, she took a deep breath and said in a strong voice:
“You are absolutely right. I blatantly disobeyed your orders. I claim full responsibility and will accept the consequences for my actions. I do not regret my choice of using my powers. I am more than willing to take any risk to save our people…”
Somehow, she couldn’t look at him. She was trying to word it as best as she could with the intention of being honest, not offensive. She was still slightly ashamed. Optimus observed her closely, raising an optic ridge. The way she spoke, it reminded him of something familiar.
He bent down on one knee to meet her gaze.
“I take it you understand very well what it means to be a leader. What the consequences will become.”
Taylor forced herself to look at him in the optics. “I understood fully a long time ago, sir” she replied.
Optimus Prime looked at her, smiling sadly. He knew what she was referring to.
Then, he stood back up, straightening.
He said in a comforting gesture, “We had expected that eventually an Energon recharge would be needed. What happened wasn’t within your control. Regardless of your actions, it would have come, and you handled the situation well. Thank you, Captain Knightingale.”
Taylor was surprised. She looked up.
“So you’re saying…I’m not in trouble?” she emphasized.
“You are not in trouble” Optimus Prime replied, smiling a little.
Taylor nodded, and smiled.
“Though, I’d highly recommend that you don’t make a habit of it” Ratchet added.
Taylor chuckled. “Of course. Thank you, sir.”
“Thank you so much for your help!”
Taylor waved as the large furniture truck exited her driveway and moved down the road. She sighed in satisfaction. All her new furniture and appliances had been moved into the house. She now had a suitable place to sleep, and a place to put visitors if she so had some.
“There’s only one thing left to do now,” she thought to herself, “Ice cream!”
She rushed to the fridge and pulled out a bucket of chocolate peanut butter ice cream and scooped some out in a bowl. Then, she opened the front door and observed the improved state of her new house before hanging out with Bumblebee. However, once she opened the door, she noticed something unusual: A plain traditionally wrapped package with string, along with the rest of her mail. There was a note pasted on top of it labeled:
“Rising Sun Woodworks & Arts.”
It had her name, along with another note that said:
Cautiously, she picked up the package.
“That’s strange,” she said aloud, “I never ordered anything from a business of that name.” After examining it for a few additional seconds, she carried with her to the garage.
“Is that what ‘movies’ are typically stored in?” Bumblebee asked.
Taylor laughed as she closed the door of the garage behind her.
“No, no! This was on the doorstep. I’m not quite sure what it is, but it has my name on it.”
She put the ice cream bowl on the workbench and held the package with both hands.
“Oh good, because I’ve seen what a ‘disc’ looks like, and that didn’t look right.”
Taylor giggled again.
She gently tore the package open. She had to raise her leg in order to balance what was hastily coming out. She raised an eyebrow. It was a piece of pottery, glazed with soft, blended powdered blue, tawny orange, black and white. At the front of the piece was what looked like a large, tall mountain. Clouds and lightning stood over it. On the right was the silhouette of an Indian Chief smoking a pipe. Finally, around the rest of the rim, was a pattern of geometric shapes, symbols of arrows pointing left and right, and in the very back, a single image of a man with feathers in his hair.
“Hmm…Interesting…” Taylor breathed.
“What is it?” Bee asked.
“It’s a clay jar,” Taylor announced, “Definitely Native American. I wonder which tribe…”
She gently put the jar down on the workbench.
“I’ll have to do some more research about this later. Right now, the first animated motion picture of Earth: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves!”
She put a movie into the television she had hooked up in front of the garage door and it lit up. Frankly, as curious as the jar got her, she was ready to relax after a week of high tension, and eager to finally show off showcases of Earth to her guardian.
“What’s in the bowl?”
“Ice cream: Another one of Earth’s finest creations! Oh Bumblebee, the things I have to show you!”
As she pressed play on the DVD player, she quickly checked the rest of her mail. One was and invitation, which read: “Silverado Ranch Hoedown.”
To be continued…