The likelihood of today’s mission to end in a dangerous encounter with the Decepticons was extremely small. After the Autobots’ last victory mere days ago, they were still licking their wounds and probably replenishing their energon supply. Still, Arcee and Bulkhead remained cautious as ever as they approached the object they had been sent to retrieve.
The stasis pod had entered the atmosphere a mere fifteen minutes ago, its outside still hot from atmospheric entry. The homing beacon was of Autobot origin, though it wasn’t clearly identifiable. Before they threw a glance inside, they would have no idea who had just crashed in the wilderness of Banff National Park, Canada.
The pod had crashed into a steep rock wall near Mt Forbes and had slithered a long way towards the densely forested valley until it was stopped by a large tree. Meeting any humans in this remote area was unlikely, and except for the occasional wildlife the two Autobots were completely alone out here.
“Ugh, forest… think I’ll stay up here. Call me when you need help.” Bulkhead said, unwilling to leave the somewhat clear area above the pod.
“Sure. Wouldn’t want you to get stuck.” Arcee replied, not without a slightly mocking undertone, then hopped down towards their objective, making use of the mowed over trees as she descended. The large green mech shrugged, glancing down the path the stasis pod had cleared earlier.
The small and nimble femme reached the stasis pod quickly and, after landing on top of it gracefully, examined it for damage or any indications of danger. She wouldn’t have been the first bot blown up by a rigged pod. There was nothing suspicious about it though.
She checked her long range sensors. Still no enemy activity. Then she continued to the small window near the top of the pod.
It was blackened from the outside just like the rest. Arcee scrubbed at it until she could see what- or who- was inside. The sight before her unsettled her.
It was a femme. Young, barely an adult, nobody familiar. What was unsettling though was the obviously panicked expression on her face, frozen mid- scream, hands clawing at the window in front of her; she had obviously been desperately trying to get out before stasis had been initiated.
“Arcee? What’s taking so long?” The larger Autobot yelled across the distance.
“All clear.” She commed back after a moment. “Let’s haul it up.”
A grappling hook was quickly shot down and attached to the pod, and within moments Arcee was on her way back up, riding the stasis pod like a surfboard and pushing crushed branches and shrubs out of the way. Once it was out in the open, Bulkhead lifted it up onto his shoulder and they made their way back to the ground bridge.
The young femme woke with a start. Struggling to fight off whatever was touching her when she suddenly felt a warm hand gripping her shoulder firmly.
“Easy. Nobody is going to hurt you.”
“What- where am I? Who are you? Everything’s so blurred-“ she almost shouted frantically, shivering not only from the resident cold in her system, but also with agitation.
“Sssh, calm down, young one. You have been in deep stasis for a very long time. Your processor and sensors are still not up to operating temperature. You’ll be fine in a few astroseconds. To answer your questions, you’re on an Autobot outpost on earth. My name is Ratchet, I’m the medic here.”
She didn’t move for a moment, stiff as a board, then she started to relax slowly.
“I’m so cold…”
“Well, you just kicked your thermal blanket off. There.” He pushed her back down onto the medical berth gently and covered her with the blanket. She was still freezing, but she was also feeling the warmth from the electrically heated blanket seeping into her limbs slowly.
“Now, I’m gonna ask you a few questions. If you get confused or cannot remember right now that’s alright, I’ll just ask again later.”
The young bot nodded slowly, squinting to try and take in her surroundings.
“What is your name?”
“What is the last thing you remember?”
“I…” she said hesitatingly, closing her optics with a frown. “I remember… being on a ship. Someone grabbed me and shoved me into that stasis pod. I didn’t know why they were doing it… I got scared and tried to get back out, but they wouldn’t let me. Next thing I remember is waking up here.”
Ratchet leaned in closer. “Whose ship was it? Where were you headed? Was there an attack?”
The young femme looked at him. She could see a little bit clearer now. The white mass she had registered earlier was slowly taking the shape of a mech. “Attack? No… no I don’t think so. Those other things I don’t remember.”
“Alright. That’s fine for now. I’ll just take a quick scan now to make sure the enduring cold hasn’t damaged your systems.” The old medic said with the friendliest tone he could muster, adjusting some settings on his scanner. When he was finished, he took a moment to analyze his results. His mouth twitched.
“Uh, you seem to be fine. Rest now. Yell if you need me, I’ll be just in the next room.”
Still quite dizzy and somewhat unsure what to make of this situation, Silica pulled the blanket closer. Maybe he was right, she should try to get some rest.
In the next room, Arcee and their leader, Optimus Prime, were watching the monitors and waiting for any news regarding the new arrival.
“We’ve got a problem.” Ratchet stated bluntly after he had entered and closed the door behind himself.
“A problem? What kind of problem?” Arcee asked from her spot by the ground bridge control, her arms crossed over her chest. Optimus slowly turned around to face the medic as well.
“I just scanned her. She’s a breeder.”
Optimus frowned. “Have you been able to talk to her?”
“Yes, but apart from her name and having been shoved into a stasis pod, she doesn’t seem to remember much yet. Considering the approximate age of that stasis pod, she must have been in the second or third wave of Cybertronians fleeing our home planet. Taking into the equation the time and circumstances of that incident, next to her nature…”
“…her being a breeder probably was the reason someone put her in there in the first place.” Arcee finished.
“Precisely. Which is exactly what we should do as well.”
“Please, let us not rush to a conclusion without fully assessing the situation.” Optimus said, raising his hands in a calming gesture. “There must be other ways to deal with this.”
“Well…” Ratchet started, scratching the back of his head. “…there is a certain risk of permanent damage due to prolonged stasis. But Optimus, we can’t afford to have a breeder here. She would cause nothing but chaos. None of us would be safe… except Arcee maybe.”
“Isn’t that reassuring. Can’t you just meddle with her programming? Deactivate the breeder part?” The blue femme inquired. Ratchet snorted.
“It’s in her core programming, it cannot be changed. Breeders exist to reproduce. She is still quite young, so that part of her programming might still be dormant. But it won’t stay that way. And when it activates, she will stop at nothing to, you know…” he didn’t have to actually vocalize the last part, they all knew what he was talking about.
“To sentence a bot to a life in stasis for something that is an instinct rather than a choice of will cannot be the answer. We cannot put her back in the stasis pod, and we cannot let her wander the planet on her own. I will not risk her falling into the hands of the Decepticons. There is no telling what they would do to her.”
“You want to keep her here? Optimus, have you lost your mind? This is crazy!” Ratchet was indignant at the prospect of having a breeder stay at their base. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Maybe there’s another way. Ratchet, can’t you make some sort of… medication? Something that suppresses the breeder programming?” Arcee inquired. If there were ways to cure bugs, there had to be ways to handle this in a similar way, right?
“It has never been done before. I’ll need to take an energon sample and research the subject, but maybe, with the right formula in combination with some mechanical aid… it might just suppress her urges enough for her to become sociable, but the medication would need to be very heavy to take any effect and the side effects would be accordingly strong.”
Optimus was slowly walking up and down in the room by now, his hands clasped behind his back. When Ratchet finished talking, he stood, his back towards the other two Autobots.
“Very well. For now, this seems to be our best option.” He turned around and nodded at his medic. “You may proceed, Ratchet.”
“Fine.” Ratchet left the main hangar again without saying another word. Saying he was unhappy with the current approach was an understatement, but as he didn’t have any better ideas, he left it at that for now.
“You’re sure this is a good idea?” Arcee asked the commander after the medic was gone.
“No. But doing the right thing requires the ability to compromise more often than not.”