Any effort to talk to Ratchet was forestalled by having to airlift to Egypt, as it turned out a few Decepticons had been late to the party held there earlier in the year. The twins screaming bloody murder had at least come by day for the U.S. based Autobots, but in the middle of Egypt's night.
Prime attempted to leave Mikaela behind, on the flimsy pretext of monitoring Arcee's repairs.
"Like Pits you're not taking her with us!" Ratchet roared. "She's fully checked out, has the ability to actually get to us faster than I can break free of combat, and I refuse to keep trying to function without my assistant!"
Mikaela thought more got said, as each one went silent, but her hair stood on end. The more she lived among them, the more she could almost swear she felt the communication frequencies between them. In the end, it only mattered that Ratchet had won, because she was given her gear and allowed to board.
One day, Sideswipe or Bumblebee was going to weld the twins together as a deterrent to their idiocy. Mikaela hoped she was still alive to see it happen.
The Decepticon attack was anything but. A fighter plane that had seen better days and a tanker truck were sitting under the nominal guard of Allied forces and the twins when the NEST team landed. Ratchet was startled enough by their appearance that he held Mikaela back, keeping her out of sight.
"Get up on my back. I'll move a plate for you to duck into," Ratchet told her through the ear piece she wore, dedicated to a comm frequency just for him to walk her through repairs. The odd order was quickly obeyed, Mikaela scrambling up the plates that shifted to allow her purchase until she saw the gap he had made for her. A quick tuck of her body, pressing her torso close to his internal wiring, and a shift of how the plates closest were laying got her nearly fully camouflaged from sight. The pulse of Ratchet's holo projectors, rarely used on the move, told her he was cloaking her further.
Whomever these two were, Ratchet thought they were trouble of a different kind than normal. This kind of protectiveness was one Mikaela could handle. She was a hidden asset this way, not a helpless observer too far from the scene.
"Blitzwing. Octane." Prime's voice was guarded, but he clearly knew who these two were. Mikaela could not see them, but at least Ratchet was close enough for her to listen in. She heard the whir-click-grind of transformation, and then felt the ground shake some as apparently both hit their knee in front of the rightful Prime of Cybertron.
"Prime, we offer you our services." The voice of that one was rough, broken with some static, as if there had been unhealed damage, though not as severe as Bumblebee's.
"We see now, how the Fallen led us all astray. Cybertron lies in ruin, rather than strong like Megatron promised us!" That voice was fierce, proud and strong with anger.
"Only now?" The question, uttered in a deep rumble of suppressed rage, was prelude to Prime in motion. Mikaela heard the blade pop free and sizzle in the air of the desert, making her tense from the sheer idea that Prime could or ever would be so merciless. Ratchet, likewise, was rigid from helm to pedes, his energies sizzling through the wires and fluids pouring through the mech in anticipation of everything going wrong.
"How many deaths can each of you claim responsibility for?!" Prime demanded, voice harsh and thick with emotion. "How much of the ruin of our planet was because of your strafing attacks, Blitzwing? How many Seekers did you fuel, Octane, so that they could continually pour death down upon those who did not want to choose either side, only seeking peace?!"
"Our side was not the only side to lead to this ruin!" the stronger, angrier voice roared back, overlaying the sound of a metal body pushing back as if to rise.
"We fought to protect freedom, and did all we could to prevent the destruction your kind wrought!" Prime roared.
"We are all the same kind!" The scratchy, staticky voice was not quite pleading, but it was desperate to be heard none the same.
Mikaela almost flinched at the silence that had fallen in the wake of those words. She held her breath, until the sound of Prime's sword being returned to its housing cut the silence. His heavy footfalls were clear enough to her; he was advancing toward Lennox for a conference.
Ratchet's soft huff of air matched the sigh Mikaela silently let out. His voice came to her ear piece again, strictly sent via the encrypted comm channel. "We may yet lose him."
Knowing Ratchet's audials would hear her, Mikaela answered in a breathless whisper. "Hell no, we won't."
Blitzwing and Octane were formally accepted as non-hostile neutrals by Prime on the island complex in the Keys at a facility that had been under construction as a new Autobot sanctuary. It was too risky to allow the pair to go to the main base. Ironhide and Bumblebee would not be coming to the island, but they could reach it, as the particular Key the Autobots would be on was one connected to the coastal highway. It just happened to be more remote, and inhospitable enough for the government to turn it into a new military base.
Mikaela entered their quarters the night before they were due to move out. Mikaela had not yet figured out how Ratchet would smuggle Jazz's spark to the new location, but then she hadn't gotten to discuss it with him, either.
"You need to stay with Ironhide here, or let Bumblebee look after you while Samuel is in school," Prime told her, back to her as she came through the door to their shared quarters.
Her tone, cold enough to chill even his conduits, made him turn enough to see her, covered in the residual hydraulic fluid from repairing a broken line on one of the LMTVs.
"Until I am certain they will not pose any true threat, I do not want you exposed to the pair of defectors."
"I don't remember signing up for just the safe moments, Optimus," Mikaela said, voice threaded with tones of displeasure. "I've been through all of this that has touched my planet; I'm not going to back away now."
Prime, and she could see the difference now between the mech and the leader, pursed his lips tighter for a long moment. When he spoke, it was in his most autocratic voice. "I am assigning you here as medical officer, because Ratchet will be accompanying me there."
"That's a load of bullshit, Optimus! The only ones not going live with humans or are still in Egypt!"
"Nevertheless, due to the highly exposed lives each of the two here on the mainland have, you will be assigned as their medical officer. Your skills are enough to keep them functioning while Ratchet is air dropped here, should something happen."
Mikaela stormed over, scaling the hand and footholds to get on top of the workstation that was built for Prime's size. Her footsteps disturbed several datapads and parts that belonged to the latest device he had been working on integrating into his armor. She did not stop until she was directly in front of him, though he made no effort to evade or stop her himself.
"Listen to me, you great big hunk of metal! I made a choice. So did you. And I know you made that choice twice before, and it cost you both times! But, here's the fact you need to face more than your worries over my safety. I am human. I started dying the minute I was born. I cannot live long enough to be more than a moment in your lifespan. And I will be damned if I let your fears stop me from sharing every single minute I can with you, so you have at least that moment to hold on to!"
Her words, she saw, slammed home, piercing the walls he had been placing around himself ever since this last attempt to find peace within the AllSpark. His hands came around her, slow, and gentle, but their intent clear, and she allowed him to sweep her in against his chest, only aware of the tears of anger and frustration when she had to sniffle against her sinuses trying to drip in answer to them.
"Just... You might be Prime, but you don't get to make my choices for me. Freedom is the right of all sentient beings, remember?" She pressed in hard against his chest plates, hands spread wide on the metal.
He couldn't answer her throwing his own words at him, and instead rose, carrying her to the berth, uncaring of the residue from her day in the mechanical bay, and she decided a shower could wait until he was fully settled down.
Ratchet kept Mikaela at his side when they arrived on the island, where, true to their word, both defectors were helping finish build a shelter for their own purposes under the watchful optics and weapons of Sideswipe and Jolt. It wasn't difficult to realize that Ratchet was under orders from Prime to guard her, but she could also see that Ratchet was still worried about exposing her to them.
Then he was distracted by the honest-to-Primus medbay with multiple berths the right height for him yet big enough to accommodate even Prime's long form. He decided it was just right, especially as all the berths were outfitted with the hand and foot holds Mikaela needed to safely get up on them, before he saw to refilling one of the nutrient tanks to the side. Arcee was walking, barely, on her own power, but he wanted her back in light stasis and absorbing materials again.
"Mikaela, could you go check all the generator connections in case of power loss?" Ratchet asked once he had seen to getting Arcee situated with his apprentice's help.
Mikaela put her hands on her hips, knowing they were very much alone, and Arcee was no longer conscious. "Not when you could use my help to hook up the spark-tank wherever you are going to hide it this time," she said sweetly, just to go ahead and get it out in the open.
Ratchet's optics narrowed, and he leaned down toward her, which in her opinion was better than if he had denied it. "Prime can't know."
"Why not? Not saying I will tell; I haven't since I figured it out, but why?"
Ratchet took a long moment to decide what to say, then shook his helm and went to get one of the crates he personally had loaded from the old base. Again, the chosen location was one of the experiment bench/cabinet combos, and Mikaela's entire skin rippled and broke out in gooseflesh as they worked together to get the tank in place. The spark in that tank was very powerful, and in a less shielded case than she was used to in her friends. The power connections were made, and Mikaela helped disguise the lines this time, before coming to rest on that work bench in front of Ratchet.
"I have not transferred many sparks to full frames. I have never had to do so where the frame did not possess a processor set already crafted by the best of artisans. You helped me, piece by piece, build all the frame we need for him, even if you did not realize it."
"I did after finding the tank," she admitted.
He shook his head. "It is easier for you to keep secrets from Prime, or I would not tell you this. I don't even dare let my guard down when we interface, which both thankfully and irritatingly has not been frequently enough to risk the secret." He cupped a hand behind her, giving her a rest to lean into to ease her muscle strain. That she accepted it, and didn't think twice about the fact he had just mentioned sleeping with her lover was one more step down the road she had chosen. She'd accepted the polyamorous lifestyle of her chosen people, and had come to know each of Prime's cadre well. "I may not be able to save Jazz. Not within a sane amount of time. Building the processor is what slows me down. So many connections, and the materials I have are... not what I truly need. But the one that was in Jazz's original frame was degraded badly by the voltage surge when his spark chamber was breached by the destruction."
"You thought he was gone. I know you did. So how?" Mikaela pushed into that supporting hand, just to show she was there for him as well.
"When we transported his body, I slipped the fragments of his spark inside my own casing. It seemed the best way to transport them, the most respectful. When we arrived at that first, temporary base, I discovered that the shards had shifted, fusing back to one another. At first, I thought that was residual heat and surface instability. But then I saw the glow. Of course that I put down to reflecting my own, until I realized it was within, and not on the surface," Ratchet explained.
Mikaela considered that for a long moment. "You mentioned, after the battle for the cube, you and Ironhide both felt more able to ignore the wounds. You performed aid on Bumblebee right away, in fact, because you said you were fine."
"Yes, and I theorized it was likely backlash... Oh, Primus!" His optics went bright as he saw where she was leading him. "The backlash of energy charged his spark, so when I put it in proximity to my spark, an energy source, it was nurtured!"
Mikaela surged up, pressing in close to that face of her mentor. "Ratch, you're gonna save him. One way or another, because he's not just Prime's hope; he might be the last gift of the AllSpark!"