"Here we go," Miko said under her breath as she stared at something behind Jack. He turned to find her host parents approaching.
Just what we need, another argument. Jack glanced at Arcee, standing at the edge of the training room. She and Bulkhead were watching via their human-size Pretender bodies, along with Miko's real parents and an assortment of base personnel. Ashanti's team, along with others who expected to find themselves combating enemy troops sooner or later, had been learning a new set of combat techniques over the past couple of weeks. Jack and Miko had joined them since Decepticon-related trouble always ended up finding them one way or another.
It made sense for Miko to be here, anyway, since a lot of the new moves were inspired by her inventive use of her armor's jetpack during a sparring match with Ashanti. She wanted to continue going on missions with the rest of the team and had been fighting with both sets of parents over it ever since they'd arrived at the base two weeks ago. Her host-mother had been objecting to it more strongly than anyone else, though her host-father seemed increasingly weary of Camille's hostility to nearly everyone involved.
With Miko's real parents, visiting from Japan, the dynamic appeared to be reversed, with her mother beginning to see Miko's side of the argument as time passed. Her father was harder to read, remaining stoic for the most part. The only times he showed any emotion, it was usually sternness while watching Miko training with the actual soldiers. Still, he clearly didn't approve of any of this.
Ashanti clapped her hands, snapping Jack's attention back to her. "Okay, everybody, let's see how well this has sunk in. Grab a sparring partner."
Arcee grinned and blew a kiss at Jack. His heart beat a little faster and he tried to blow one back at her but ended up slapping his hand into the front of his helmet. His face grew hot and he hung his head while Arcee laughed.
Miko reached out to a member of the support unit and grabbed his arm. "Okay, Terwilliger, you and me." She dragged him to the center of the mat.
"Gee, how did I know you'd want to be the first one to show off?" Ashanti laughed, glanced around, and motioned at Jack. "Everybody else has already paired up, so you're stuck with me."
Jack nodded and joined her as she and the others moved to the wall to give Miko and Terwilliger some maneuvering room.
"Kick his ass, Miko!" Bulkhead thrust a fist into the air.
"Take it easy, Bulk." Terwilliger held his hands up. "It's just for training." He glanced at Ashanti. "Uh, you might wanna be ready to notify my next of kin, just in case."
A quick laugh rippled around the room. Miko's mom smiled, while her dad remained expressionless and her host-mom shook her head and sneered.
"Come on, Camille," Miko's host-dad whispered, "stop being a wet blanket."
"You want me to let her start thinking we'll allow this to continue?" She scowled at him. "She's going back home, and that's final."
"Honey, look how much she's changed in the last few months. Before, she spent more time in detention than all of her classmates combined, she didn't care about anything but goofing off, and she didn't even have any friends. Look how driven she is now. She actually cares about what's at stake, she has friends who care about her, and she feels like she can make a difference."
Camille glanced at him and rolled her eyes. He shook his head and sighed.
"Even if she goes back home, you can't deny that she's changed for the better over the past few months. She's grown up a lot."
Camille just stared as Miko and Terwilliger faced off.
Terwilliger fired his thrusters and launched into the air. Miko kept her eyes on him, took a few steps back, and snapped her arms up to protect herself. He fired another set of thrusters, shooting himself down at her, and cocked his right fist back. Miko's suit thrusters fired, scooting her to the right, and Terwilliger slammed through empty space and into the mat. Miko immediately jetted back to the left and swung her right fist. He blocked it and jabbed at her visor. She jerked to the side, lit up another set of jets, spun around, and landed a kick to his gut that sent him reeling across the mat.
"Yeah!" Bulkhead clapped, his metal hands producing a clanging that made several nearby people wince. "Go get him!"
Terwilliger picked himself up just in time to block a flurry of kicks and punches, and finally got off a left hook that connected with the side of Miko's helmet. She staggered off to the side, shook her head, and then spun around as Terwilliger's jets launched him straight at her. She landed a wheel-kick to the side of his head and fired her thrusters, spinning herself around with her arms extended, and her fists smashed into his helmet at least a dozen times before he could back away from her.
"Whoa." Josephine Chang, one of Ashanti's team members, grimaced. "If I tried that, I'd totally vomit in my helmet."
Miko hooked her foot behind Terwilliger's left ankle and swept his leg out from under him. He started to topple over, and she slammed his arm across his chest, smashing him to the floor. Then she pounced on him and fired a continuous burn from the jets on her back, pinning him to the floor. He struggled, but couldn't pick himself back up.
"Not bad, kid." Ashanti applauded.
"He let her win," Camille grumbled.
"I really didn't," Terwilliger muttered. "I didn't want to hurt her, but if I'd known I was gonna get spanked , I would've tried a lot harder. But I didn't exactly take a dive, either." He seemed to become fully aware of Miko on top of him and cleared his throat. "Not that I'm complaining, though."
"Christ," Chang said. "She's fifteen ."
"I know. It makes my skin crawl, if that's any consolation." He turned back to Miko. "Um, if you wouldn't mind letting me up …?"
Miko hopped off him, grasped his hand, and helped him back to his feet.
Camille took a step toward him. "If you even think about touching her --"
"Whoa, hold on." Miko planted herself between them and took her helmet off. "He knows he can't touch me. But y'know what? I'm okay with him thinking about it as much as he wants." She glanced at Terwilliger, winked, and walked over to stand near her parents.
"Bravo." Ashanti gave Miko a thumbs-up. "Nice move with the thrusters to pin him down. I hadn't thought of that before."
Miko bowed theatrically.
"Okay, it's almost lunchtime, but we've got room for a few more rounds. Who's next?"
"Think I've been embarrassed enough for one day," Terwilliger said. Then he glanced over at Camille and added, "Actually, I need to go crank one out."
Miko snickered and then seemed to panic when she saw the rage on Camille's face. Miko stepped in front of her again and shook her head.
"Take it easy. He's just saying that to push your buttons." She smirked. "On the other hand, I'm glad to know I can get someone all fired up like that."
Ashanti cleared her throat. "Time's a-wastin'. Kefira, how about you take center stage? Let's see how your new legs are working out."
"How's it going, guys?" Jack sat at the picnic table, placed his tray in front of him, and let out a long sigh.
"Not bad at all, now that we've managed to go a couple of weeks without a crisis." June smiled as Arcee's doppelgänger sat beside him with her own tray. "I had my reservations about all this when I found out about it, but my schedule here is actually normal, so that's definitely one in the 'win' column." She glanced over at both sets of Miko's parents, Miko herself, and several others at the adjacent table. "When I worked at the hospital in Jasper, I worked long hours and was on call the rest of the time, which made it really hard to be there for Jack. It's nice to finally have some time with him on a regular basis, and to get a decent amount of sleep and do other things most people take for granted."
Miko nodded. "Ashanti said one of the first things General Sanchez did when he took command of the base was to make sure the medical staff was big enough for everyone to nine-to-five it instead of working eighteen hours at a stretch."
"I'm endlessly grateful for that." June grinned and nudged Jack's shoulder. "Makes me wish you'd brought me in on all this when you first got caught up in it, yourself."
"Some of the people I went to school with have parents who work in the hospital in Jasper," Sierra said, leaning over to wave at Jack and Arcee. "I've heard how stressful it is. The only up side I can imagine is all the stories I've heard about things emergency-room surgeons have removed from people's rectums."
June snorted. "It's not much of an up side when you're the one performing those operations."
"And some rectums are probably worse than others. I'd probably throw up if I had to take something out of Weird Walter's asshole."
"I can't go into specifics. Patient confidentiality, y'know."
Miko grinned suddenly. "How about just telling us a few of the objects you've had to remove? No identifying info, just the objects themselves."
"While we're eating ?" Camille scowled at her.
"Yep." Miko took a bite of her tuna sandwich. "Come on, let 'er rip."
"Maybe some other time. Not during lunch." June grimaced. " Especially if it's something that reminds me of Weird Walter."
"Oh, speaking of which." Sierra braced her elbow on the table and smirked. "Well, not him, exactly, but someone who's probably related to him. Wouldn't surprise me, at least. Anyway, Theresa, the town prostitute."
"Oh, dear." June shook her head. "Don't think I want to know."
"Oh, you do, trust me. This is fantastic . My cousin Jade was waiting in line at the bank yesterday when Theresa was exchanging some foreign currency. A couple of busloads of dudes from another country -- Jade didn't say where -- went through town on some sort of tour. They stopped at the new casino on the edge of town, and apparently Theresa did all of 'em. She brought a ton of money to the bank, but because of the exchange rate, she ended up with only two dollars."
Everyone gaped at her. Miko burst into laughter.
"No way! All that 'work' for nothing!"
"Yep. She wasn't happy. She argued with the teller for a minute, then yelled, 'You mean I fucked all those guys for two dollars ?' Everyone in the bank heard her."
"Oh, no!" June tried to hold in a laugh, but couldn't. Beside her, Miko's host-dad clamped a hand over his mouth and shook with silent laughter until his face turned red.
Boots and metal footsteps approaching from behind caught June's attention. She took a slow breath and glanced over her shoulder to find several new arrivals. She recognized Jensen and Khalilah and several of the Pretenders living on the base, but one of them was new. Built like a brick shithouse, but just curvy enough to be obviously female, tan in color, with red lenses over her optics that reminded June of aviator-style sunglasses from the 1980s. It took her a moment to recall her name -- Strika, the former Decepticon general who'd arrived with Elita-1's team two weeks ago.
Interesting. She never seemed the type to bother linking up to a Pretender body unless it gave her a tactical advantage. Which it really wouldn't, as far as I know. June shrugged it off and greeted them with a smile.
"Hey, everybody." Jensen took a seat at the end of the table to June's left and slid his crutches under the table. Khalilah sat beside him and slipped her arm around his shoulders. He grinned and said, "How're things?"
"Still quiet, aside from what Sierra just told us." June snickered.
"Which was …?" Jensen cocked his head. Sierra repeated it for him, giggling the whole time. When she finished, he burst out laughing, slumped over the table, and buried his face in his hands until he regained control of himself. He took a deep breath and said, " Wow !"
Everyone else laughed along with him, except Strika. She merely swept her optics over the others and looked slightly bewildered.
Well, she's only been on Earth for a couple of weeks. She'll have to learn a lot about humans to understand why this was hilarious. June waited for the laughter to subside before asking him, "How're things coming with the new ship?"
"They're ahead of schedule, last I heard. Elita's squad has been a huge help. They and everyone else working on the ship have been putting the components together faster than our fabricators can crank 'em out. And now that we have the ship Wheeljack stole from the 'Cons, lifting the pieces into orbit for final assembly is a piece of cake."
"That is where I am actually located," Strika said. "I am currently helping assemble the ship until my presence is required in another strategy session. The ship is being built for a primarily human crew, to make it easier for them to operate the controls, so the Cybertronians who are joining them on the mission will be using human-sized copies of themselves. Our real bodies will be stored in the ship's cargo holds until we're needed for planetfall."
"Ah, I was wondering why you finally started using one of those bodies," June said. "Taking it for a spin?"
"I am learning how to operate it, yes. It is … taking some time to adjust to."
"It has some features you might like," Khalilah said. She nuzzled Jensen and added, "I certainly enjoy them."
"Ah, yes. A considerable number of our new allies have mentioned those features to me. They seem pointless, though I must admit I am … slightly intrigued. Perhaps I will explore them at some later point when there is time for such trivial matters." Strika glanced around and her gaze settled on Sierra. "Ah. You are the one named Sierra, correct?"
"In spare moments, I've been reviewing video of the combat simulation some of you were engaged in just before we arrived. Your performance was particularly impressive."
"Combat?" Sierra stared at her and then glanced around at everyone else.
Jack frowned, then he grinned. "Oh, I think she means the night we all got together and played GTA Online ."
"Oh! Yeah, that was the most fun I'd had in a long time."
Miko leaned over to her and whispered, "Aside from the nights you've been spending with Smokescreen?"
Sierra's face turned bright red and she stared at her food. Miko grinned and performed the "docking" gesture with her hands. Sierra quickly slapped Miko's hands down and her blush intensified.
"Anyway ," Sierra mumbled. She glanced up at Strika. "Um, thanks. About the 'combat simulation,' I mean."
Strika nodded. "I was particularly impressed by your aggressive pursuit of the one called Vince. You showed a rare level of tenacity and viciousness. And the moment when you threw a proximity mine into his path when he tried to retreat shows that you have a gift for tactical thinking."
Sierra smiled. "Thanks. I have to admit, that was one of my most favorite moments of the whole night."
"It gives me reason to believe you could be a worthy addition to the mission."
"Oh, wow. Thanks." Sierra's smile turned wistful. "I've actually been thinking about it, but my parents would never let me go."
"Well," Jensen said, "you might think about going through the training program just to see how it turns out. Even if you don't go on the mission, you'd still learn a lot of useful stuff that could be applied to any number of careers on Earth."
"Hmm. I might just do that."
"Because Smokescreen is going, right?" Miko winked at her.
"That's … uh, he's … one of the reasons I'm thinking about it. But there are others." Sierra picked up her bottle of water and sipped.
"Regarding the combat simulation," Strika said, "I am curious about one thing. Vince demanded sex from you after you attacked him so relentlessly. Is that a typical human mating ritual?"
"What?" Sierra gaped at her. "No, not even close. I went after him like that because I fucking hate him. He's a bully. He's spent years picking on my friends for no reason other than making himself feel powerful. What I did was revenge, though it was only a video game." She sighed. "I guess part of it might be guilt, since I didn't even notice his bullying until recently. I just needed to show him how it feels. I honestly wish I could beat the shit out of him in real life, though."
"Ah. Then I apologize for the misunderstanding. His exact words were, 'fuck me.' I assumed it was an example of the 'belligerent sexual tension' concept I've heard about."
Jensen had started to take a sip of his coffee, but had to put the cup back down until he stopped laughing. "That's, uh, not what that phrase means."
"What does it mean, then? It seems to clearly be a demand for copulation."
"Its meaning varies depending on context. Sometimes it's an expression of surprise or shock. Sometimes disgust. In this case, I'm pretty sure it was anger."
"More like rage," Miko said with a laugh. " Impotent rage."
"Hmm." Strika shook her head slowly. "That makes no sense."
"Yeah. Well." Jensen shrugged, grinned, picked up his coffee, and raised the cup as if making a toast. "Welcome to Earth."
"This isn't over," Camille grumbled on the way to the gate, and Miko rolled her eyes.
"Shocking. Absolutely shocking." She glanced around at the rest of her parents. She could tell Roderick was slowly being won over, but he seemed reluctant to clash head-on with Camille. The same could be said of Miko's mother, who'd actually beamed with pride several times while watching her training sessions and sparring matches. Her dad, on the other hand, hadn't budged an inch, so she'd find no help there.
He sure hasn't changed at all. He'd always run a tight ship back in Japan, to the point where Miko had felt as if she were being suffocated every moment of every day. Discovering the level of freedom she had after the student exchange program led her to Jasper, Nevada, had felt like she was finally able to live, rather than merely exist.
And then the months after she'd been caught up in the last gasp of the Cybertronian civil war, playing out right here on Earth … at first, she'd jumped right into it because giant alien robots fighting each other was fucking awesome. She hadn't truly learned what was at stake, and how much danger she was in, for months afterward, despite a number of close calls. But then, less than a month ago, when a device created by those giant alien robots sawed her right arm off …
That was the moment it had finally sunk in. The robotic arm she had now was pretty goddamn sweet, sure, but she could've so easily bled out right there in the snow. Or if that giant worm-like robot had sunk its teeth into her neck or her chest instead of just her upper arm, she would've fucking died .
As thick-skulled as she'd been before, there was no way she could've ignored that. Even without the nightmares she'd been having ever since, which she absolutely refused to tell her parents about.
I have to see this through. Maybe to prove to them that she could handle it, maybe to prove it to herself. Or maybe because going back home and trying to stay safe would be the same as letting those bastards win. Or maybe just to make the Decepticons pay . They'd almost killed her and her friends so many times, taken the lives of innocent bystanders and good people like Jared, whom Airachnid had murdered right in front of the whole squad, and one of their monstrosities had taken Miko's arm off. If nothing else, she wanted to show them just what a terrible mistake that was.
And her own parents were trying to take all of that away from her.
Sure, they want me to be safe, but I can't leave my friends, and I can't go back to the way things were back then. I'll die inside if I'm stuck in that kind of life again.
"Hey, Miko." Raf's voice jolted her out of her thoughts and she glanced around to find herself almost at the gate. Raf and his huge family were there, as well as Rosalina and Lucas and their adopted son Bobby. Raf wore the latest version of his armor and held his helmet under one arm, and his brothers and sisters grinned and kept asking him questions about it. Even his parents looked thrilled. Maybe they didn't fully understand the kind of danger he was in, or maybe they saw that he was in a position to help prevent the Decepticons and Unicron from destroying the whole world. No matter why, at least they seemed to be supporting him.
"Hey, Raf," Miko said. "Roz, Lucas. Bobby, how ya doin'?"
"I don't wanna leave again." Bobby pouted and Roz knelt in front of him and brushed his hair out of his eyes.
"I know, honey, but you won't be far away. The other Pretenders and I still can't leave the base." She gave him a hug. "You need to keep going to school. Daddy will bring you back here next weekend."
"I can't wait!"
"Neither can I, kiddo." She kissed him on the cheek, ruffled his hair, and stood. "Sorry I still can't go with you, Lucas."
"So am I, but I know it's for a good cause. Now that they've started to trust you and your friends and the defectors, you don't want to do anything to jeopardize that." He smiled and held her hands. "Keep at it and they'll let you come back with us before you know it."
"I sure hope so." She embraced him and they kissed. "Well, I guess you shouldn't keep the bus driver waiting." She hugged Bobby one more time. "Remember to do your homework and eat your vegetables every day."
"Yeah, yeah." Bobby let out an exaggerated sigh. Lucas prodded his shoulder.
"Cheer up. School's a lot better now that the bullies have stopped picking on you."
"Yeah!" Bobby grinned as Lucas took his hand and led him toward the bus, both of them pausing in the doorway to wave at Roz again.
Miko laughed softly and glanced up at her parents. "He had a hard time in school until he showed the other kids a few photos of his mom in her robot form. I'm guessing those glowing red eyes scared the piss out of 'em. None of 'em have even glanced in his general direction since that day."
"Yeah," Roderick said, "That'd do it for me, too."
Miko watched them for a few seconds and held in a sigh. I guess I should try to play nice with them. Maybe they'll ease up a little.
"You wouldn't have to spend so many hours on a bus if you'd stay in the guest quarters here."
"The less I have to do with anything going on here," Camille said, "the better. I just wish you weren't so pig-headed about staying." She glanced at Roderick. "I don't know why we don't just drag her onto the bus ourselves."
Before Miko could tell her to try it and see what happened, Roderick let out a sharp sigh.
"That wouldn't be right. You've seen how much she wants to stay. If we tried that, she'd hate all of us." He chuckled and tried to lighten the mood. "Besides, she could kick our asses."
Miko took a slow breath and motioned at the bus. "Well, like Roz said, we're keeping the driver waiting." She glanced over at Raf and saw his siblings filing into the bus. As his parents hugged him and turned to get in, Raf seemed to notice something off to the left. He frowned and stared for a few seconds, then he put his helmet on and sealed it.
"Guys, the guard in the booth just slumped against the wall and dropped out of sight."
Miko spun toward the booth between the entrance and exit gates, squinted, and found it empty. She nodded toward her parents and motioned at the buildings behind them.
"Get back inside. Something's going down."
"Not without you," her mother said, reaching toward her as she started to back away.
"Raf and I have this. You need to get out of here and warn the others." She crept toward the bus.
Raf tapped a button on the control panel on his belt. "Buddy, check the guard booth. He just disappeared. Looked like he collapsed."
Miko glanced into the bus and saw the driver raise a hand to his earpiece, turn toward the booth, and open his mouth.
Movement outside the gate caught Miko's attention -- men in desert camo and masks covering their faces swarming onto the base.
"Get inside," Miko snapped. " Now !" She turned to Raf and said, "Fade!"
He tapped another button and his armor rippled and vanished.
"Bobby," Roz whispered as her optics opened wider. "Lucas …"
I shouldn't have taken my armor off. Its active camouflage sure would've helped right about now. Miko's heart pounded as she rushed toward the rear of the bus. The only advantage she had now was her cybernetic arm. She couldn't lift heavy objects without tearing the arm off, but she could sure as hell crush things and punch these guys into next week.
One of the camo-clad men jumped into the bus, aimed a rifle at the driver, and dragged him out onto the pavement. He jammed his gun against the driver's head and the driver raised his hands slowly.
The rest of the invaders planted themselves between the bus and Miko and aimed their guns at her and her parents. One of them stepped forward and pointed at Miko.
"You." His voice was deep and had a thick Russian accent. "Get in with the rest of the hostages."
"Alright." Miko held her hands up. "Just don't hurt anyone." She trudged forward, making sure to pass within arm's reach of the guy who'd just spoken. In the corner of her eye, Rosalina glared at the men in front of the bus and shook as if she were barely holding herself back.
When she got close enough, Miko lashed out and crashed her metal fist into the side of the Russian dude's head. He grunted and staggered away. Before he could recover, she clamped her hand over his, pinning it against his weapon, and squeezed . He groaned and snarled, but managed to pull her off-balance.
Past him, Roz charged the nearest man, tackled him, and stabbed her sharp fingertips into his gut. He doubled over with a shrill scream, clutched at his abdomen, and collapsed. She pulled her fingers out and blood splattered the ground before she moved on to the next man. The rest of them turned their guns on her.
The air behind the one on the far right rippled, followed a split-second later by a sound like a bug zapper. The man convulsed and groaned through clenched teeth for several seconds before crumpling to the ground.
The Russian threw himself forward and slammed his rifle into Miko's face. The sudden pain almost blacked her out, but somehow she kept her grip on his hand. She recovered and found herself kind of hanging from his arm. She braced her other hand against the blacktop and pushed herself up.
Roz freight-trained into another intruder and plowed him into the side of the bus hard enough to scoot it sideways a few inches. He plopped to the ground like his strings had been cut.
Miko regained her balance and tried to ram her knee into the leader's balls. He blocked her with a casual flick of his arm, then he cocked his fist back and drove it into her gut. The air rushed from her lungs and she couldn't draw another breath. She finally released her grip on him and fell to her knees, doubled over, and tears filled her eyes.
An incoherent shout came from off to the left and she glanced up to find her dad charging him. She tried to shake her head, but from the corner of her eye she saw the Russian flip his rifle over, raise it, and snap its stock into the side of her head. Everything turned white and she slumped over.
Her dad screamed again and she forced her eyes open. He landed nearby, blood pouring from his nose. She tried to pick herself up, but everything blurred and spun around her. Something hard hit her back, and through the fog in her head she realized it was the blacktop. She'd fallen again and rolled onto her back. Everything started to fade away.
"Enough!" the Russian barked, and Miko managed to open her eyes again. One of his men had dragged a kid off the bus and pushed him to the ground in front of the boss. A man in the bus lunged at the door, but another of the masked goons punched him in the face and shoved him back inside.
Oh, shit … Bobby …
The boss turned, held his gun to the bus driver's head, and pulled the trigger. The sharp bang made Miko twitch and suck in a deep breath as the driver collapsed.
"Get your hands off him," Rosalina shrieked. "You hurt him and I will fucking kill you! Slowly !"
The man jammed his gun against Bobby's head. "Ah-ah. One more step and your 'son' will need a closed-casket funeral. And then your husband will be next."
Roz stopped, clenched her fists, and trembled. Her red optics remained locked on to him as if she were trying to kill him with her glare.
Bobby sobbed and tried to crawl away. The Russian grabbed his shirt with his free hand and picked him up. Bobby burst into tears.
"You're gonna be okay, Bobby! It's gonna be okay!" Roz lurched backward, clearly struggling with everything in her to stop herself from charging the man. "Try to be brave. I need you to be there for Daddy, okay? Stay with him and just wait for us. We'll bring you home safe, I promise!"
The asshole kept his gun pointed at Bobby's head as he backed toward the bus. "If anyone follows us, this brat will be the first to go. I'll send him back to you in pieces."
Roz kept backing away, holding her hands up and shaking her head. "Alright, alright! Just don't hurt any of them!"
He nodded at his men and several of them darted forward, grabbed Miko and her dad, and shoved them into the bus. One of them followed their leader into it, and the rest ran back through the gate. Miko glanced through the windshield and spotted a half-dozen vehicles with guns mounted on them waiting in the distance.
"Go," the leader said, and the driver started the engine.
Miko dropped herself into one of the seats as the bus accelerated toward the waiting vehicles. She finally managed to take a few slow, painful breaths and glared at him.
"Why are you doing this, you cocksucker?"
"This base has something I want. You're going to help us get it back."
"And what would that be?"
"Three things, actually." He leaned against the back of the driver's seat and kept his rifle pointed in her general direction. "Jackson Darby. Arcee. And Silas."