Chapter 1: Escape to Earth
"We're under attack! I repeat—we're under attack!" the captain's gruff voice rang out over the fuzzy and popping intercom system as the small exploration ship roughly made its way through the darkness of space. The female bots it carried hid together with their children among the boxes and other items in the cargo hold as they waited for what horror would unfold next. Several of the little sparkling bots started crying and their mothers held them closer to sooth them. Sudden, fast jolts impacted the ship from the outside and alarms blared through the corridors, announcing a red alert. Heavy footsteps of soldier bots (some being the mates of the females) could be heard running past the closed door as they yelled orders to each other and roughly made their way to battle stations. Another blast impacted the ship, nearly rolling it over on its side. Everyone braced themselves against the wall in order to keep from rolling to the other side of the room. The air was thick, stale, hot, and tainted with fear and the agonizing screams and wails of frightened sparklings. Everyone knew what was going on outside without even having to look. Decepticon war ships had found them and were opening fire. They escaped from the imprisonment of the Decepticons, but their dreaded enemies were fast in pursuit. This was their last battle, there last hope, their last shot at freedom. If all was to fail, the plan was to move all sparklings to an escape pod and fire it towards the nearest planet. At least they would be saved.
"We're being boarded! The Decepticons are coming aboard! All soldiers prepare your weapons for defense!" the captain's voice suddenly screamed over the intercom before it fizzled out completely into static. The female bots exchanged horrified glances with each other. All of them knew what they were to do.
At that moment, the sound of blaster fire, plasma cannons, and angered screams broke out and filled the corridors outside and the impact of heavy metal bodies and footsteps shook the floor under them, announcing that Autobot and Decepticon sides had finally collided in an energonthirsty fight to the death.
"Firesong, hand me that sword." screamed one of the females as she pointed toward a huge rusting sword lying on the ground near the back of the room. Firesong obeyed and handed the sword over to her friend.
"What are you going to do, Windstreaker?" asked Firesong, shifting the sparklings she carried to her other arm.
"I'm going to be ready in case any of those Decepticon scum come through that door."
"You won't stand a chance against them."
"At least I'll go down fighting. It'll be better than allowing them to just gun us down like animals."
Windstreaker had a point. Firesong looked around her for another weapon and found a blaster rifle not too far from her. She quickly grabbed it and nestled it close to her side.
The ruckus outside was beginning to die down or so they thought. But before any of them could comprehend what was happening, there was a deafening screeching and crashing of metal and the cargo hold's door flew through the air with such force that it nearly tore a hole in the wall across from the entrance. What came next was the unmistakable head of a Decepticon—his glowing red optics burning with fury and rage as they scanned the inside of the cargo hold for any signs of life. The face was not familiar to the females but it was still hideous and terrifying. The wings on the Decepticon's back, of which scraped against the door facing when the huge bot stepped forward, clearly showed that his vehicle mode was a Cybertronian jet.
Windstreaker jumped out from the darkness, catching the Decepticon completely off guard, and charged forward with victory in her voice and rammed her sword head on through the Decepticon's spark chamber. There was a brilliant burst of light and the Decepticon screamed in pain and agony before falling into a pile of lifeless scrap metal and computer circuitry at Windstreaker's feet.
"Promise me one thing," Firesong said as she approached Windstreaker's side.
"What's that?" the light blue female bot asked.
"That you won't try anything that stupid ever again."
Windstreaker chuckled as she walked over to pick up her son and a few other sparklings. The other female bots gathered up the rest of the sparklings and together, with Windstreaker in the lead, they made a dash out of the door and headed toward the escape pod docking bay. Firesong had to keep from shrieking as they maneuvered around lifeless bodies of male soldiers, many of them leaking pools of pinkish-purple energon from gaping wounds in their armor plating. Each one's spark chamber had a charred hole through it, revealing a cold and sad emptiness that once housed a glowing, pulsating life source. One female held back tears as she caught sight of her mate among the bodies. Firesong wrapped her arm around the bot to comfort her as they quickly moved on.
"We're almost there." Windstreaker said, reaching down and grabbing up a loose blaster rifle from the floor and powering it up. Turning a corner, the group unexpectedly met up with a Decepticon soldier that towered well above their heads.
"What the spark?" Firesong muttered out loud as she peered at the grotesque figure in front of them.
"Good galaxy," Windstreaker breathed. She thought it had to be the ugliest Decepticon she had ever seen in her life. It looked half dinosaur and half bot with a giant crab's claw for one hand. It must have been some kind of mutated robot-animal hybrid—half and half and totally gruesome. Its huge reptilian mouth gaped open, showing a massive set of fangs that dripped acid saliva onto the ship's flooring. It took a step toward them, all the time hissing like a snake.
"Alright, ugly, I don't know what you are, but I dare you to take your best shot." Windstreaker said aloud, pointing her blaster straight ahead and backing up and into her friends. The Decepticon took a few more steps. Suddenly, without warning, the creature reached out and snatched one of the female bots up in its claw hand. The bot screamed in terror and pain, her legs kicking and scrambling in every direction possible.
"Windstreaker, do something!" Firesong shouted. Windstreaker fired several rounds of blaster fire and hit the Decepticon, but it didn't have any affect on the massive, muscular body. Windstreaker, Firesong, and the rest of their group looked on in sheer horror as it ended the life of the female in its hand with one snap and started coming toward them again.
"Get the sparklings to the escape pod. I'll handle tall, dark, and ugly." Firesong pushed her way forward and dumped her sparklings into Windstreaker's arms. "GO!"
"I can't just leave you here!"
"I'll be fine, now get going!" Firesong turned around just in time to fire a few more rounds at the beast with her own blaster. While Firesong kept the Decepticon busy, Windstreaker ran as fast as she could past the battle, the sparklings in her arms screaming in fear. The other females followed her until they finally reached the door that would lead them to the pods. It hissed open when they approached. Windstreaker ran to the nearest pod and rammed her elbow into a red button on the outside control panel, the door of the pod coming down to form a boarding ramp.
"Everyone, put your sparklings inside the pod. Hurry!" Windstreaker barked her orders, holding her own sparklings close to her and following the others inside.
"I'll go outside and open up the main ship's door." A purple female said, making her way out of the pod. The other females followed her, one of them picking up Windstreaker's blaster. Once they were outside, the pod door came up and closed shut. Windstreaker watched in awe as the other females purposely stayed behind. She banged her hands on the pod's windows and tried to get their attention, but they didn't hear her—or pretended they didn't. The main ship's door was opened and the pod fired up its engines and shot out into the empty void of space. Its thrusters kicked in and sent it flying at top speeds away from the ship. The last thing Windstreaker saw before the pod ejected was at least two Decepticons bursting into the pod docking bay and one of the females firing at them, trying to hold them off so the pod could make it out safely. Now, Windstreaker blankly stared at the helpless ship in front of her—what was left of its small crew was still onboard, fighting for their lives. Not only that, but her mate was still on there.
A few minutes passed and Windstreaker brought herself out of the shocked state she had been in and peered out of the window. Suddenly, the ship in front of her exploded into flaming debris. Windstreaker couldn't believe what she was seeing.
"Noooooo!!" she screamed in anger and fear, pounding her fists on the window's glass. Tears filled her optics as she stared at the pieces of burned metal that still floated through space. What had caused such an explosion was not known, but she did know that it would have been impossible for anyone to have survived. But she had bigger problems to worry about. Two of the Decepticon ships had spotted the pod and were coming toward her.
"Slag!" she muttered through her teeth. "Don't they ever give up?" Her only chance was to make it to the nearest planet. The pod wasn't built for battle and thus had no form of weaponry to defend against attacks. They were sitting ducks and Windstreaker knew it. A sudden blast hit from behind and threw the pod forward.
"They're firing!" Windstreaker struggled to regain her balance, grabbing hold of the window and peering out at the enemy ships in hot pursuit. The frightened screams and cries of sparklings filled the air but Windstreaker didn't seem to notice. Another hit rocked the pod, this one hitting home and sending a shower of sparks. A fire broke out on one of the nearby control consoles—Windstreaker grabbing an extinguisher and dowsing it before it had a chance to get out-of-hand. Then there was the rumbling and violent rocking and shaking as the pod entered the nearby planet's atmosphere.
~ Meanwhile, in a Detroit park:
Sari bounced the ball up and down a few times before tossing it to Bumblebee, who then threw it upwards and straight into the basket.
"YES! Score one for the Bee Team!" Bumblebee shouted while doing his strange interpretation of a victory dance.
"We aren't keeping score, you know." said Prowl. "We're merely playing for pleasure."
"I know, but no one said we can't celebrate. Besides, I know how to play this game good."
Prowl grabbed up the ball and twirled it around on one finger before leaping gracefully through the air and shooting the ball through the basket, hanging onto the rim and then flipping over and landing perfectly on his feet.
"Show off." Bumblebee mumbled.
"Look who's talking." Bulkhead added.
It took about an hour for Sari to explain the rules of playing basketball to the Autobots, but they were surprisingly catching on fast. Already Prowl, Bulkhead, and Bumblebee were shaping up to be excellent players. Optimus Prime and Ratchet, however, preferred to stand off to the side and watch, not really understanding why humans would want to throw a ball through a bottomless net hanging on a pole.
Before the game could continue, Sari's key started glowing. Everyone stopped and stared in the girl's direction. The key glowing could only mean one of several things—either there was a piece of the Allspark nearby or there was danger lurking about.
"There's something wrong." Sari said nervously, seeming to sense what was happening. "There's something very wrong."
An ear-splitting roar filled the air followed shortly by a streak of flame and smoke that shot across the sky toward Dinobot Island. All eyes and optics followed the sight until it disappeared from view. Optimus and Ratchet exchanged glances, knowing full well that trouble was connected to the bizarre display they had just witnessed.
"What was that?" said Bulkhead, still looking in the direction in which the thing disappeared.
"Shooting star?" Bumblebee jokingly suggested. Prowl gave the young Autobot a sharp smack to the back of the head. Bumblebee turned an irritated look toward the ninja-bot.
"I hope it lands on the island—whatever it was." Ratchet said.
"Autobots, let's move!" Optimus ordered before transforming into a fire truck. The rest transformed into vehicle mode and followed him, Bumblebee stopping for only a moment and allowing Sari to climb into him.
The escape pod roughly touched down, skidded about twenty feet, and turned a complete flip over, scattering debris and blowing the door off before flipping some more and coming to a halt by ramming into a tree. A trail of upturned earth, fire, and burning trees led right to the wreckage. Windstreaker limply tumbled out of the open doorway, coughing from the smoke and fumes. She quickly looked around for the sparklings, but she couldn't see any sign of them. She hoped they were still inside and safe. Getting to her feet, she weakly grasped the pod's doorframe and hoisted herself back into it. She shakily and hurriedly rummaged through the scattered and scorched innards of the ship for any signs of the children. Hearing a faint squeak, she turned her head to her left. Picking up a slab of metal, she found the pair of male twins and a female sparkling huddled together. All of them were in shock—half from fear and half from the wounds they received during the crash.
"It's okay, sweeties. Everything is going to be okay." she said in a soothing tone, rubbing her fingers gently over the sparklings' heads and faces. "Now I just have to find the others."
Windstreaker continued to quickly and roughly overturn and dig through the scattered stuff inside the pod, until she found all but one sparkling. She went through and overturned everything again, but the sparkling was just not there. Fear gripped the female bot's spark. She turned, her optics looking over the huddled mass of baby bots in the corner to see who exactly was missing.
"Piper," the name caught in her throat. Her own son was the missing sparkling. "PIPER!!" she screamed at the top of her voice. Tears in her optics, she turned back around and started flinging everything she could lay her hands on out of the pod's door. Piper wasn't inside. Windstreaker fell to her knees and began to sob. The only other explanation for Piper's disappearance was that he had been thrown from the pod when it was still crashing. If she succeeded in finding him, it would be a miracle if he even survived. She couldn't give up hope—not now, not after coming this far. The other sparklings needed her more than ever. Windstreaker got up and walked over to where the tiny sparklings were barely staying online. She would have to find help somewhere.
Piper woke to find himself laying on a soft bed of grass—alone and in a strange place. Whimpering, he quickly looked around him to find anything that looked the slightest bit familiar—the escape pod, his mother, the other sparklings. But there was nothing. However, his optics soon caught sight of a flower—a big, beautiful, majestic, purple flower that grew not more than a few feet from where Piper sat. He gazed in wide-eyed wonder at the strange thing. Never in his whole life had he seen something so gorgeous.
"Pretty!" he breathed, crawling closer to it for a better look. He winced at the pain he felt in one of his legs, but it didn't stop him from investigating the curious object. When he got close enough, he reached out a tiny hand and carefully touched the flower's soft petals. He squealed in delight, his blue optics beaming with joy. He touched it again, this time quickly poking it with one of his fingers. The flower bobbed up and down and around at the slight impact. Another squeal of delight escaped Piper's mouth and he clapped his hands together in excitement. He then grabbed the flower playfully by the stem, but quickly drew his hand back while uttering a cry of pain. Tears crept into his optics as he sucked his stinging fingers. Not understanding what had happened, he looked down at the plant and saw pointed thorns protruding from the green base.
"Bite," he said softly, "Pretty thing bites."
Piper felt the ground under him shiver. Forgetting everything else, he nervously looked around to find the cause. He couldn't see it just yet, but the shivering worsened and there was a slight sound of thunder. Getting scared and instincts kicking in, Piper quickly scanned the flower. After his systems absorbed the information, his body started to transform into a flower identical to the one in front of him. The source of the quaking was soon revealed in the form of Grimlock, one of the Dinobots that inhabited the island. His T-rex mode heavily stomped over the island's vegetation and stopped in the clearing and sniffed the air. Piper remained silent in his new flower form and curiously eyed the stranger. Not finding anything threatening, Grimlock moved on.
Chapter 2: Piper
As soon as the boat pulled up to the island, the Autobots and Sari immediately started toward the area where billows of smoke poured into the sky.
"I hope we aren't too late." said Ratchet.
"Do you think there are any survivors?" Optimus asked.
"Hard to tell from here; we'll have to wait until we get closer."
Once they reached the scorched path of the pod, the Autobots transformed into robot mode and gazed at the sight. Optimus extinguished as much of the fire as he possibly could while making his way to the upturned earth.
"Looks like whatever landed here is big—very big." Ratchet examined the gigantic rut.
"And it leads that way." said Sari, pointing in the direction she implied. Optimus started forward, followed closely by Sari at his heels. The others followed as well—jumping over massive mounds of dirt, rocks, and dodging flames (Optimus extinguishing the ones that blocked their path). It took them a few minutes to make their way to where the pod stood and when they reached it everyone was taken back at the sight.
"Careful," Optimus cautioned, "we don't know if it's friend or foe. Bumblebee," he turned to the little yellow Autobot, "you're in charge of protecting Sari. Don't let her out of your sight for one nano click. And that's an order I expect you to obey."
Bumblebee nodded, picking Sari up and holding her in his hands. Optimus turned toward the pod and whipped out his ion-axe. The pod's contents were scattered all over the area and a piece of metal was propped up against the inside of the doorway, acting as a makeshift door. Teeth marks grazed the outside of the metal.
"Grimlock must have been here." said Prowl, nodding toward the marks.
"And whoever is inside must have put this up for protection." Optimus placed his hand up to the metal sheet and tapped. "Anyone in there?"
There was no answer.
"Any survivors?" Bulkhead shouted a little louder.
"We mean you no harm. We're here to help." Optimus shouted. Still no answer came, but the piece of metal started to move to the side and in its place stood Windstreaker, weary and barely online. A gasp escaped from the group.
"She's an Autobot." Optimus caught sight of Windstreaker's insignia. "Ratchet, get her out of there and to a safe place."
Ratchet, not wasting a bit of time, hurried forward and caught the fainting bot before she hit the ground. He carried her as far away from the wreckage as he possibly could and placed her down on the ground under a tree. She was in bad shape and looked as though she had tackled Grimlock with her bare hands. With a worried look on his face, Ratchet set to work repairing the exposed wires and circuitry the best he could with what medical instruments he had on hand.
"Everything's going to be okay now. Just lie still while I mend these wounds." Ratchet calmly and softly spoke. The female didn't hear him, however, as she slowly slipped into delirium—mumbling incoherent things that didn't make sense to the old medic. Optimus Prime and the others soon joined Ratchet, carrying bundles of something in their arms. Ratchet was too focused on the female to notice, though.
"How is she?" Optimus asked when he approached Ratchet's side.
"Not too good." Ratchet shook his head. "It looks like she's suffered a traumatic shock of some sort, and I don't mean Grimlock. Aside from that, her circuits are badly damaged, outer plating's torn, she's lost a lot of energon, and she's slipped into unconsciousness. I need to take her to the plant where I can treat her properly."
A sharp cry reached Ratchet's audio receptors, making the old bot turn around. Cradled in Optimus's arms were four tiny Autobots. Ratchet's optics blinked in surprise and confusion.
"There are more, Ratchet." Optimus turned to Prowl standing beside him, who was holding two identical baby bots. Ratchet turned to Bulkhead who also held one.
"If we only knew her story," Optimus turned to the motionless female bot.
"I suppose that Bumblebee and Sari are back at the ship with more of these sparklings?" Ratchet's eyebrow plate rose a little. Everyone looked around, noticing for the first time that Bumblebee and Sari were not with them.
"Now where have those two run off to? They should know by now that this island isn't safe." Optimus groaned.
"Want me to go look for them?" Prowl asked.
"No, I'm going to go. You stay here and tend to these." Optimus gave the four sparklings over to Prowl's already full hands.
Bumblebee and Sari walked into the clearing and stopped. The place was adorned with a variety of beautiful flowers and other vegetation. Birds sang in the trees and the sound of flowing water could be heard not too far away.
"This place is so pretty." Sari breathed.
"Yeah," Bumblebee sighed in boredom, "if you're into the whole 'nature' thing. I bet Prowl would love this place."
"Look at these flowers, Bumblebee, aren't they beautiful?" Sari dropped to her knees and touched the purple petals, careful to avoid the thorns. Bumblebee stopped beside her and looked down, his optics blinking and studying the plants.
"Hey, did that flower move?"
"What?" Sari looked up at her friend.
"I thought I saw that flower move."
"That one right there," Bumblebee pointed at the one he was talking about. Sari eyed it for a few minutes, but nothing happened.
"I think you're imagining things, Bumblebee." the little girl giggled.
"I know I saw what I saw." the Autobot reached down to grab the flower.
"Careful, those flowers have thorns…"
"I know, I know," Bumblebee just barely touched the flower's petals when a thorny vine shot out of it and snaked itself around the upper part of Bumblebee's left leg.
"OW! Sari! The flower grabbed me! Heeeeeelp! Giant killer flower—with teeth!" he screamed in fright, kicking his leg in hopes the flower would let go of him. Another vine shot out and wrapped itself around Bumblebee's other leg. Both pulled together and Bumblebee fell to the ground with a hard thump. He continued to kick his legs, trying to unwind the prickly vine. Sari could only shake her head in amazement. Bumblebee was supposed to be protecting her. Somehow she got the feeling it was the other way around.
"Sari!!!" Bumblebee shrieked, clawing at the ground with his fingers. "I'm too young to be eaten by a flower!"
"Hold on, Bumblebee." Sari ran around to the flower and prepared to stomp it, but she stopped. For some reason she couldn't bring herself to do it. She turned to the flailing Bumblebee and stared at the vine wrapped around him. It glistened oddly in the sun's light almost like it was made of… metal. And, looking closer, she saw what appeared to be a tiny hand at one end. It couldn't be—it was impossible. Sari turned back to the flower.
"Bumblebee, shoot it with your stingers!" Sari yelled over Bumblebee's screams. "Don't hurt it. Just shoot it enough to make it let go."
Bumblebee's hands rotated around and in their place were two energy charged stingers. He aimed carefully at the flower and shot a small charge that hit it head on. There was a slight yelp and the vines uncoiled themselves and went back into the flower. Bumblebee sighed in relief.
"I told you that thing moved!" he said in annoyance. "Now I REALLY dislike nature!"
Sari said nothing but kept her eyes on the flower. Bumblebee turned to look at it too. Right before their eyes, the flower transformed into a small green and purple robot. He flopped down on the grass and broke out in tears while kicking his legs and feet furiously.
"What??" Bumblebee's optics widened. "He's an Autobot? But… how?"
The little bot continued to cry and sob as Sari walked over and gently picked him up and cradled him in her arms.
"There, there little one, it's okay." she said soothingly, patting the sparkling on the back.
"How did you know?" Bumblebee asked.
"Well, anyone knows that vines don't have hands." Sari looked the bot over. "Hey, his leg looks funny."
Bumblebee stepped closer. "It looks like he's wounded. See, he's bleeding."
Sari took her hand away and saw that it was covered in a pinkish liquid.
"He must have been injured in the crash." Sari hugged the bot closer to her. "We must get the poor thing back to Ratchet."
"There you are."
Bumblebee and Sari looked up to find Optimus standing before them, his arms crossed over his chest and his face wearing a not-amused look. This changed quickly when his optics spotted the sparkling in Sari's arms.
"Another one?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" Sari looked up in wonder.
"There are more of them back at the ship. Ratchet has them now."
"This one's hurt," Sari lifted the bot's small leg to show Optimus. "We need to take him to Ratchet too."
Optimus continued to eye the baby bot, not understanding why there were so many. He sighed and led the way back to where Ratchet and the others were waiting.
"Mommy!" the sparkling in Sari's arms squealed when they approached. The little bot squirmed and stretched his arms out towards the female bot lying unconscious—pinkish fluid leaking from some of her wounds. Ratchet, taken by surprise, turned toward the sparkling and then turned back to the female. The sparkling struggled to release himself from Sari's hold but the girl held on tight.
"Sari, take him away." Ratchet came between her and the female bot. "He doesn't need to see this."
Sari turned and ran into some of the trees and bushes, Bumblebee following. The sparkling started crying and wailing for its mother, but Sari kept on running until she was a good distance away. She stopped to catch her breath and to give Bumblebee a chance to catch up to her. The baby in her arms screamed louder and beat his fists against anything within reach—Sari's arms, face, and chest. It hurt, but Sari kept quiet and let him vent his frustration. After all, the poor thing had just been through a horrible ordeal. She felt sorry for him and even felt like crying too. That was it! Sari suddenly burst out in fake crying, trying to make it louder than the infant's.
Bumblebee came up behind her, finally, and stopped. He blinked in confusion when he saw both his friend and the baby bot crying their eyes out. It wasn't too long before Sari was the only one making crying noises. The sparkling stopped and was looking curiously at the girl who held him, tears still running down his small cheek plates.
"Sari," Bumblebee placed his hand on the girl's shoulder, "I think you can stop now."
Sari quit her fake crying and looked down at the baby bot. His huge, blue optics stared at her in wonder. He placed a thumb in his mouth and began sucking, sniffing occasionally and hiccupping. Tiny flaps on his head moved up and down gently while he continued to study the strangers. Thumb still in mouth, the baby used his free hand to feel of Sari's face—gently running it over her nose and mouth then reaching to grab hold of her pigtails. She yelped slightly when the baby pulled on her hair, sending the little bot into a fit of giggles. Sari smiled.
"My guess is that he's never seen a human before." Bumblebee smiled, slowly putting his finger up to the baby and rubbing it up and down the cheek plates.
"He sure is cute." said Sari.
Sari smiled again before turning to nuzzle the baby bot with her nose. The little sparkling giggled happily. But Sari's attention was soon drawn to the wounded leg that continued to leak pink energon. It pained her to see it but she didn't dare take the baby back to Ratchet.
"Meep!" the sparkling squealed while fingering the key strung around Sari's neck. He took it in his small hand and put one end of it in his mouth. It wasn't until then that Sari felt so dumb. The key! Of course!
"Come on, little guy, we're gonna fix you up!" Sari bounded over to a shaded area and placed the baby bot down on the grass. Bumblebee watched as Sari held her key in front of the sparkling's Autobot insignia. The key began to glow and the insignia disappeared to reveal a slot where the key could fit into. Sari inserted it and watched as the Allspark power healed the sparkling's leg. When it was finished, the sparkling gurgled and peered at his leg.
"Feel better?" Sari asked. The sparkling immediately looked up into the girl's face and smiled as if he had understood every word she said. Sari tickled his tummy and succeeded in sending the small robot into a fit of giggles and laughter, his tiny feet trying in vain to push her hand away.
Heavy footsteps suddenly made Sari and Bumblebee turn around. A few more heavy steps followed before Optimus Prime appeared in the clearing.
"Sari, we need you." he simply said.
Chapter 3: Dino Duel
Back at the plant, everyone waited patiently for Ratchet to come out of the med bay with news on how Windstreaker and the sparklings were. Sari succeeded in healing Windstreaker's wounds with her Allspark key before they left the island, but Ratchet was giving her a thorough examination to make sure everything was in good working order. The female bot lay motionless on the table, in deep recharge and resting from her ordeal, as Ratchet moved around her, checking readouts and other medical equipment. Sari busied herself with healing each of the sparklings with her key. All of them moved restlessly on the table opposite from Windstreaker. They curiously looked around at their new and strange surroundings, patiently waiting until Sari got through with them. They gurgled and made unusual noises common to sparklings. Huge, innocent blue optics peered at the strange looking being beside them as tiny squeaks of fascination and confusion escaped their mouths, reminding Sari of a litter of kittens that was desperately looking for the mother cat. She smiled and gathered them closer to her.
"Hurry, Ratchet, I think they're becoming afraid."
"Just a nano click," Ratchet replied, not bothering to take his optics off one of the readouts. "There, I'm done."
"Will she be okay?"
"Yep, she'll be fine. She just needs to rest for awhile." Ratchet smiled at the tiny sparklings crawling all over the other table. One by one, Ratchet gently picked them up and set them down next to the resting femme.
Everyone immediately stood at attention when Ratchet finally entered the common room, followed closely by Sari at his heels. No one spoke as the elder bot sat down in one of the makeshift chairs and sighed tiredly. He looked up at the optics that stared in his direction waiting for an answer.
"She's going to be fine." He answered the questions everyone's staring optics conveyed. "Give her a little while to rest and she'll be as good as new. The sparklings are fine too."
There was a sigh of relief heard all over as everyone eased back down into whatever place they had been sitting.
"I just wish I knew her story." Optimus shook his head.
"You will soon enough." Ratchet replied, stretching to loosen up stiff joints.
"I can't understand why an escape pod full of sparklings and a female bot would crash land on earth. It just doesn't make sense."
"Perhaps they were trying to get away from something or someone." said Prowl. "An escape pod usually means some disaster happened and the crew had to evacuate the ship."
"Like, Decepticons maybe?" Bumblebee blurted out the one word no one cared to hear.
"I hope not." Optimus's gaze narrowed. "If the Decepticons are involved in this, there's no telling what we're in for."
"Why would an Autobot ship be this close to earth, though?" asked Bulkhead.
"They could have gone through a space bridge like we did and came out here." Optimus replied. Bulkhead silently nodded in agreement.
"If that's the case, then perhaps—"
"I think it's best we wait until tomorrow to discuss this," Ratchet grumbled, cutting off Prowl's sentence, "You'll get yer chance to ask the female yerself. No need to wear yer processor out trying to solve a problem when you've got the answers in the next room."
"Ratchet's right." Optimus stood to his feet. "We'll just have to wait until tomorrow to get the whole story. Who knows? It might not be as bad as we think."
~ Later the same day, on Dinobot Island:
Deathwish climbed out of the crater his body just inflicted on the earth when he touched down. He stood up on the very edge of the hole and peered around him. Everything about the new planet did little to arouse the Decepticon experiment. In fact, he could care less. The sights didn't interest him—nothing about this planet interested him. He had only one thing on his mind—killing. He snarled in disgust at the organic life around him and turned a reptilian head to look for his comrades. A slithery tongue restlessly moved about in his gaping mouth as he took a step forward.
"Report!" he hissed in his com link, hoping there was someone on the other end. "Is there anyone still online out there?"
"We're—phssst—here!" another Decepticon struggled to say over the static. The impact they made must have frazzled their links, Deathwish thought. He'd have to make a note to get them checked when they returned to the base.
"Good," Deathwish replied with his deep, gritty voice, turning his eyes emotionlessly to the sky, "Spread out and search for any survivors of the escape pod. Don't come back until you've found them! And I want them offline, do you hear me?"
"Yes—zzzzzt—sir!" The com link transmission was cut off after the other troops had their orders. Startled, Deathwish hissed at a passing bird. Finding it unthreatening, he transformed into his alternate mode which was similar in appearance to his robot form. It resembled a mechanized Carnosaur, only it had one giant crab claw arm. The head looked organic, having robotic implants and multicolored tubes and wires connecting it to his metal body. The huge claw made him appear crudely unbalanced as he struggled to stand up straight. There was a slight hissing sound, much like a deep breathing, when he finally got himself situated comfortably in his alt mode. Not giving his looks any thought, Deathwish proceeded to stomp through the island in search of the escape pod, uprooting trees with his claw as he went. If anything dared to get in his way, there would be no mercy shown towards it.
One of the Decepticon troops found the escape pod first and reported it to Deathwish. It didn't take the walking, robotic monstrosity long to reach the crash site. He peered down at the wreckage with glowing blood red eyes and snarled in disgust.
"There's no one inside, sir. It looks like they survived the crash and took off on their own." The Cybertronian jet robot reported. Deathwish suddenly roared out loud for no apparent reason other than to blow off anger before slamming his huge claw into his comrade, nearly coming close to ripping the Decepticon's arm clean off.
"They will be found," Deathwish growled, "even if I have to scour every inch of this worthless planet! You," he turned an angry glare to one of the other Decepticons standing nearby, "Comb every piece of this island. They couldn't have gone far. I smell fresh energon in the air. One or all of them sustained injury during the crash."
"Yes, sir," the Decepticon troop tilted his head before turning to disappear in the trees.
"I will find you," Deathwish quietly growled out loud.
"Hey! Who you?" another voice broke the silence. Deathwish turned his head. Not more than five yards away stood a metal Tyrannosaurus Rex. It crouched low to the ground as if ready to pounce. "Me Grimlock spot intruder!"
Before Deathwish could react, the metal rex had its jaws clamped tightly around his neck. The Decepticon wriggled and thrashed about until Grimlock let go and fell to the ground with a jostling thud that seemed to shake the entire island. Deathwish snarled, watching as his opponent regained footing and came charging at him again. Deathwish swung his massive head around and caught Grimlock in the left flank with the sharp, metal, bladed horn that protruded from the tip of his nose. Grimlock let out a roar of pain and staggered.
"You fight dirty. Me Grimlock fight dirty too!" Grimlock snapped his head around and breathed a stream of fire towards Deathwish, who was caught completely off guard by the attack. Burning flames seared into his organic face. The half reptile, half robot Decepticon screeched in agony before falling backwards.
Grimlock sneered in pleasure. "Me Grimlock found your weakness."
Deathwish was stunned for several minutes as he lay on the ground, his flesh still hurting. When he opened his eyes again, he found himself peering into the faces of two other metal monsters—a Triceratops and a Pterodactyl. He watched as both creatures transformed into robots right before his eyes and wielded massive weapons. Enraged at being taken down so easily, Deathwish swung his tail around and slammed it into his new enemies before getting to his feet.
They'll be sorry they tackled with him.
Chapter 4: Windstreaker's Story
Ratchet allowed the femme and sparklings to sleep undisturbed until the next day to make sure they were well rested and fully charged. Although, when Ratchet came into his med bay early that morning he didn't find the femme awake. Instead, he was met with a bunch of highly alert and energetic sparklings. He groaned at seeing the tiny bots climbing around on the tables and medical equipment. He spoke softly into his com link for the others to come and help him while grabbing hold of the nearest sparkling, which was about to take a tumble off the medical table. His optics quickly scanned over the room, taking in a mental count of the small bots to make sure all of them were accounted for.
"Optimus!" Ratchet yelled as quietly as possible into his com link, his temper growing thin.
"What's wrong, Ratchet?" Optimus stood in the doorway. Prowl and Bulkhead appeared behind him.
"'Bout time you came in here. I need help gatherin' up these sparklings. The whole bunch of 'em is running loose. Wait, look out Bulkhead, one's gettin' away!" Ratchet pointed at the small bot that ran past Bulkhead's huge feet and ran squealing out of the room.
When Sari finally woke up, she found herself looking into a glowing pair of light blue optics that hovered a few inches over her face. It startled the girl at first, but a smile soon appeared on her lips when she saw that the peering optics belonged to the green and purple baby bot she had healed the day before. At seeing Sari finally wake up, the little robot happily made unusual noises and moved and flapped the little antennae-like flaps on his head.
"Where'd he go?"
"I thought for sure he came down this way."
The familiar voices of Bulkhead and Prowl were heard just down the hall. Sari smiled and shook her head before reaching to lift the sparkling off her and setting him down on her bed.
"I'm not even gonna ask how you got away from them." she said, reaching for her clothes. The little bot curiously eyed the girl as she dressed herself and made up her bed. Sari grabbed up one of her stuffed teddy bears and placed it beside the bot while she finished tucking her sheets. At first, the sparkling jumped at seeing the strange object but then proceeded to investigate. He grabbed the bear's nose and gave it a squeeze before breaking out in amused squealing. He ran tiny fingers over every inch of the stuffed animal, at times smacking it as if he expected it to move or fight back. Sari giggled as she continued to watch.
"Do you have a name?" Sari suddenly asked. The sparkling looked up at her as if not understanding the question. "Name—do you have a name?" she asked again.
"Pi," the little robot began, turning to the teddy bear beside him and smiling. He placed one of his hands on the bear's nose and squeaked. "Piper!" he clapped his hands excitedly and squealed. He turned a smiling, beaming face to Sari before repeating his name again.
"Piper," Sari smiled. She reached and picked up Piper, holding him like one would hold a newborn baby. She prepared to leave the room, but a short, piercing wail from Piper made her stop. The sparkling stretched his arms out at full length towards the teddy bear still setting on the bed. Not saying a word, Sari smiled, turned back around and picked the bear up and handed it to Piper. The little robot gladly accepted it with both hands and clutched it tightly to his small body.
"Did you find him?" Sari heard Optimus Prime say to Bulkhead and Prowl as she approached the common room doorway.
"No, we didn't." Prowl answered. "We looked in every room but Sari's and didn't find any trace of him."
"Sooooo, guys," Sari said cheerfully, holding Piper up for everyone to see, "Did you lose something?"
Piper squeaked happily while holding his teddy bear up the same way Sari was holding him.
"He was in my room, on top of me." she answered before Optimus could get the question out. Optimus just shook his head in an exasperated manner.
All optics and eyes turned toward Ratchet, who had just entered the room. Behind him walked the light blue femme. She shyly looked around at the many shocked faces that stood near her. A slight smile formed on her lips as Ratchet showed her to one of the chairs and helped her to sit.
"This is Windstreaker," Ratchet gestured towards the female. Everyone smiled and offered her a warm greeting. "Windstreaker, allow me to introduce you to: Bumblebee, Bulkhead, Prowl, Optimus Prime, and Sari."
Windstreaker said nothing as her optics followed Ratchet's hand around to each bot and the young human girl.
"I'm very pleased to meet you… Windstreaker." said Optimus, stepping closer.
"Likewise," Windstreaker finally spoke in a dainty, quiet voice. "I—I want to thank you—all of you—for rescuing me and the sparklings yesterday. I honestly don't know what we would have done if you hadn't."
"Don't mention it." Ratchet smiled.
"Windstreaker," Optimus leaned down on one knee next to the femme, "Do you feel up to answering some questions?"
"What happened to make you get into an escape pod with a bunch of sparklings and crash here on earth?"
Windstreaker nervously looked around at everyone as if she wasn't sure she could trust them before turning her gaze back to Optimus. "It—it's kind of a long story."
"We're ready to listen."
"Well, my mate and I were scientists back on Cybertron. We were sent to explore a nearby planet to study and bring back samples of whatever organic plant life could be found there. My mate, Starwhisperer, was the captain of our little ship and the most wonderful father to our son, Piper." Windstreaker pointed to the green and purple bot in Sari's arms. "When we finally landed on the planet, we were taken by surprise and ambushed by a group of Decepticons almost immediately. Apparently they were using the planet to secretly build up their armies. Starwhisperer tried fighting them off so that we could get away, but it was no use. They were too strong and too powerful. The Decepticons took our ship away from us and held us captive for days. What we soon discovered is they were also holding other Autobots captive as well—mainly femmes and sparklings, and a handful of soldiers. During our captivity, we grew to know them very well."
"What happened next?" said Optimus.
"Starwhisperer and I both agreed that we had to get out of there and take the others with us. Our only hope would be to break out and make a run for our ship. The soldiers agreed to obey any orders Starwhisperer gave them. So we came up with a plan—a couple of the soldiers would create some kind of diversion to attract the Decepticons while Starwhisperer and I led the femmes and sparklings to our ship, of which we found out was stationed not too far from where they were holding us captive. It seemed flawless at the time, but we soon discovered that it was going to be a rough ride. We made it to the ship and took off but the Decepticons were fast on our tail before we knew it. Our ship had weapons but it wasn't enough to fend off the Decepticon's war ships, which are ten times more powerful than a simple exploration vessel.
"We tried fighting them with everything we had. But suddenly, in the middle of our escape and battle, we came across one of those space bridges and it brought us here. It looked like we were safe, but the Decepticons apparently followed us through the bridge and came out behind us. They boarded our ship and the soldiers tried to protect us, but it wasn't enough." Windstreaker put her face in her hands. "Part of our plan was that if all attempts failed to protect the ship, we were to put the sparklings in an escape pod and send it toward the nearest planet so at least their lives would be saved. As we had thought, it did come to that part of the plan. The other femmes and I carried the sparklings to the pod docking bay. Before I knew what was happening, the other femmes had locked me in the pod while they fended off any Decepticons that dared to set foot near us. And there I was, floating out in space in the pod, headed for the nearest planet."
"So why is there a problem?" Optimus asked.
"When the pod left our ship, I thought everything was going to be okay—I thought that the others would escape capture somehow and go into hiding until we could reunite. But then, right before my eyes, the ship exploded for some unknown reason. There was no trace of it left except for pieces of metal."
A horrified gasp filled the room and Windstreaker broke out in tears. Optimus put his hand on the female bot's shoulder.
"It was horrible—all of them gone, right before my eyes. There was nothing I could do about it. Nothing! I feel guilty that I'm even alive. I should have been on that ship along with them—along with Starwhisperer."
"Wind—" Optimus began, but Windstreaker roughly pushed his hand away.
"Leave me alone!" she sobbed in grief. Optimus lowered his head and pulled himself away from the female. Windstreaker cried a few minutes before getting up and disappearing out of the room, toward the medical bay. Sari quietly followed while carrying Piper in her arms.
After Windstreaker left the room, the Autobots gathered together privately to talk over the current situation. Neither of them knew what to say for a time as they stared silently at each other. Optimus was the first to break the silence.
"We've got to think of some way to get Windstreaker and the sparklings off earth."
"Why not just let them stay here?" Bumblebee suggested.
Optimus shook his head. "It's too dangerous—for them, for us, and the rest of the people who live on this planet. It's obvious that there is a new group of Decepticons here somewhere. I know they didn't just give up after shooting the pod down."
"Prime's right," Ratchet broke in, "We need to get Windstreaker and the protoforms off here as soon as possible. There's no tellin' where those Decepticons landed, but I have a feelin' it won't be long until they show themselves. We have enough problems as it is with trying to protect the Allspark fragments and the organics. We don't need a female bot and babies to look after too."
"Besides, we haven't even focused on the main issue," Optimus grimly said.
"What issue is that?" Prowl turned to face the Autobot leader.
"Windstreaker is the only survivor of that small ship, besides the sparklings, meaning she's the only one who knows the whereabouts of the planet where the Decepticons are secretly regrouping their armies. She's holding valuable information and doesn't even realize it yet. If the Decepticons ever find out that she's still alive, she could be in more danger than any of us could possibly imagine."
"She's valuable to both sides." Ratchet breathed. Optimus nodded.
"B-but what about the new Decepticons?" said Bumblebee.
"We can handle them when they decide to show themselves. Right now we need to get Windstreaker and the sparklings off this planet as soon as possible so they can go somewhere safe and away from this part of the galaxy."
"And just how are we going to go about doing this?" Ratchet crossed his arms over his chest.
Optimus thought a moment before answering. "Is there a way we can repair the escape pod and turn it into a regular ship? It's a long shot, but at least it'll get them to where they need to go."
Ratchet shrugged his shoulders and thought. "It might be possible."
"We might just discover that we can repair something other than space bridges!" Bulkhead smiled.
"If it doesn't turn into a disaster," Ratchet frowned.
"Then it's settled." said Optimus. "We'll take a trip to the island this afternoon and begin work. The sooner we get started the better."