Chapter Twelve: Coming Home

Samantha had the impression and recollection of waking up in a similar manner scarcely two years prior.

She bit her lower lip this time to keep a groan of pain from slipping out.

"Steady, Sweetspark." The Autobot chief medic's voice rumbled out to her from seemingly all around her. Warmth touched down through his line. Worshipful grace danced like fireflies across all of the others. She felt like an alter being frolicked around. There was peace in the air that was tangible. It soothed.

"Wha'ppen?" She mumbled druggedly. Her lips turned down and the space between her brows puckered closer together. The right side of her face felt swollen and numb. Her lip felt like a life raft sitting on the front of her face.

"I reset and braced your broken tibia and fibula as well as bracing the radial fracture of your wrist. Your chest is wrapped for support so that your broken ribs may heal easier. Among those injuries were lesser burns to most of your back and about thirty-percent of your right hip. The list of abrasions and hematomas are too numerous to bother reciting while you are still incapacitated from the sedative I administered."

"Huh?" She squinted her eyes open and immediately moaned from the bright lights assailing her. She snapped them back shut.

"You're looped-out and he doesn't want to hash through it when you won't be able to understand," a familiar, friendly voice piped up nearby. She felt two slim metal bars pinch to either side of her skull above the upper shell of her ears. The darkness behind the sanctuary of her closed eyes became even darker.

"You may open your eyes again, Sweetspark. Slowly." She did as she was bid. As much as her stubborn persona insisted she didn't need to listen, that the world around her was going to be just as painfully bright as it was moments before, she trusted Ratchet explicitly. He would do nothing to endanger her or cause her discomfort if he could help it.

This time when she opened her eyes she could see better. She still had to squint, but the blessedly tinted sunglasses with large lenses shaded the world to a much more manageable level. She was lying inclined against a cushioned wedge of discarded army jackets to aid her breathing. She had a light blanket draped across her lap, but she could see a bulge of where her probably-booted left leg lay underneath. A cursory glance at her wrist showed that that too was snuggly encased in a cast, though the material was not manmade.

No, this was a design developed by Ratchet. It wasn't nearly as thick as a standard cast and looked like a web of plastic. Her wrist was held immobile from her palm to her forearm, but the substance was visibly porous. She could poke a finger through most of the 'holes'. Ratchet and Jolt had shown her the preliminary designs they'd come up with, but she hadn't thought they'd advanced to the production stage yet. They called them Honeycombs. These Honeycombs emitted subsonic frequencies that triggered cell growth and regeneration. They had told her, with the Allspark supplying her with the mathematical and scientific understanding, that severely broken bones could be mended in a matter of a couple of weeks instead of months. She wouldn't even need rehabilitation!

"Wow," she mumbled with wonder, looking over the Honeycomb. It was pretty. It was the same color purple as her eyes with tiny veins of blue weaving through the combs. The blue was the single drop of Energon circulating through the alien engineering to make the device work.

"I thought it looked cool, too," Mike chuckled as he sat on the edge of her military-issue cot. He caressed a finger over the alien material. "If we're able to completely integrate the Transformers – ooh, sorry. I know you don't like that term. Cybertronians," he corrected himself with a joking eye-roll, "into human society they could sell this stuff to hospitals around the world. They'd have more than Gates by the time everything was said and done."

"We do not care for human currency, youngling." Ratchet chided her friend from where his alt sat beside the open 'door' of the tent she was sheltered under. His holoform smiled at her serenely as he backed out of the bay of his alt and strode towards her. He had a large bottle of water in one hand and an odd looking syringe in the other. The end had no needle, just a small bulge of black rubber.

"If humans can prove that they are responsible enough to handle the technology we might give them then we will offer our assistance. Until that time? We will save our help for those that can be trusted." He handed her the bottle which she took with both hands. He gestured with the hand holding the abnormal syringe. "Will you allow me, Samantha?"

"What is that?" She asked with genuine curiosity, not animosity. Despite having him sedate her after she'd brought Optimus to his feet she did not hold a grudge. He was just taking care of her the best way that he knew how. He was right, after all. She was stubborn.

"It is a prototype injector for humans. Its contents, however, are medinats. Your own nanites will disable and dispel them from your body within forty-eight hours, but until that time they will act as a barrier against infection while your own nanites repair the extensive damage done to your body."

"How much will it hurt?" She found herself asking the inane question even as she set a critical eye to the injector Ratchet held aloft for her open perusal. The blackened end really did look like rubber. It was smooth and not abrasive looking at all. It was just the kind of thing a parent would love to see shown to their children to make getting inoculated easier.

"Less than the injections you are familiar with receiving." He pulled the syringe out of her line of sight and she felt the injector's tip, velvet-esque against the smooth skin of her neck, and met her gaze steadily. She nodded her head once in ascent, knowing that he wouldn't hurt her if it could at all be helped and also knowing that he wasn't above doing 'what was best for her' without her permission.

Her brows shot into her hairline when instead of feeling a prick or burn like she was so used to and had been expecting, she instead felt trickle of coolness proceeding a 'finger-flick' to her throat. She'd snapped her scrunchies, far softer than traditional rubber hairbands, with more force against her own wrist than the injector applied to her neck.

"You see? No pain." His holoform chuckled at her. One of his gnarled fingers brushed against her undamaged cheek. It was a tender and heartfelt gesture. "We will develop more injectors and serums for further use so that you may utilize them when necessary. Human technology is still in its infancy, no?"

"That's probably for the best, Ratchet." She took a large swig from the bottle, careful to keep the stream slow over her swollen lip. "Reverse-engineering off of Megatron afforded the human race much, but if we proceed too quickly I'm afraid that we'll lose what little respect we have for what we've gained already."

A heartfelt smile trickled through their shared line and touched across her mind's eye. She felt his respect for her. His holo took her bottle away when she had had her fill, her hands a tad shaky as she handed it over to his pseudo gnarled fingers.

"I sometimes forget that you are indeed a grown woman for your race and not our Sparkling."

I'll always be your Sparkling, she thought fondly, her heart lighter than it had felt in a long while. Ratchet's bond thrummed with delight as soon as the thought had played itself out and a dimple-raising smile split across his whiskered cheeks.

:: So you will. :: It was his voice in her mind, like the Other's voice had been, but different. Her brows furrowed only slightly, realizing that the words hadn't been physically audible and that Mike was clueless to the sounds. That meant that she had heard him in her mind. She could use their comm lines now?

"Where are the human medics?" She queried by way of distraction. She didn't want to think more than she absolutely had to. She felt off, whatever sedative Ratchet had given her making her thought processes slower. She pointed towards the only other opening to the tent, though it was closed off. "Why aren't we already headed back home?"

"The medics are tending to the other wounded. N.E.S.T. is being waylaid by what humans have come to call 'red tape'. The Jordanian King is in the middle of discussions with President George Bush and General Morshower." Ratchet eased back away from her, his holoform fizzling out of sight. "We will be on our way by nightfall."

There was silence in the tent for several moments as Sam studied Mike. His nose was bandaged and reset, parts of his shoulder wrapped in gauze. He was wearing military fatigues. So was she for that matter. Overly large since it was a men's shirt and cargo pants lashed around her waist by a piece of rope.

"So," Mike's hand came to rest on her knee through the blanket draped over her. "You scared the ever-loving crap out of all of us. The Autobots…God, Sam, I don't know how to tell you what happened with them."

He didn't need to tell her.

After Ratchet had sedated her she had had another 'dream'. It had been as though time had rewound itself and she had been permitted a third-person view of what had happened when she'd died.

Looking down at your own dead body was highly unsettling.

Samantha grimaced as she looked at her mangled body. She was floating in the air above her corpse. She felt like a ghost. Maybe she was? Maybe when Ratchet had knocked her out she'd died again? She didn't feel dead, but she hadn't felt dead in that light-realm with the Other, either. What did she know?

She drifted closer to herself, floating right through the American medic that was shaking his head and backing away from her body. She coasted a hand over her face, her incorporeal self billowing like smoke at the contact. The slash across her face was vicious. She knew even then that it wasn't the kind of wound that would heal without a scar. It was so deep that she could see bone. Her right eye was a bloodied mess. She wasn't a squeamish person, but that much damage was a sight she had never thought to see outside of a horror film.

Her brows drew downward to see Lennox, Epps, and the other soldiers that had been surrounding her take up arms. She had thought to see Decepticons encroaching. Instead she saw the Autobots looming high and mighty. Their optics had shuttered from their normal electric blue to inky black. It wasn't even that they had died out. They were glowing an unholy obsidian unlike the dark, dank grey of an offlined mech.

There was a sense of foreboding in the air. She had never felt this before. The Fallen was evil and exuded malevolence like a second skin, but this was different. It was like their sentience had shut off and some deeper, more primal instinct had come to the fore.

She felt her body whirl around the mass of 'Bots before whizzing past Bumblebee and Astrotrain, noting their mimicked stances of ill-contained bestiality, and settle in front of Skids and Mudflap.

The Cybertronian fraternal twins were mix-matched bookends to Leo, guarding him against possible Decepticon rebels. Under normal circumstances, despite their juvenile behavior, they would have been a force to reckon with. At that moment, however, she didn't think a nuclear explosion would have garnered their attention from the plane in which they now found themselves.

She heard words in her head and saw Cybertronian glyphs flicker across her mind's eye. She felt dread shudder through her. It was horrifying to see ones that she had come to care for with every fiber of her being slowly but surely being blinked out of existence as she knew it.

Predominant mother-system deactivated and unreachable.

Mainframe shutdown and recalculation.


Initiating primary systems operations.



Prime objective reactivated.

System reboot imminent.

Individual differentiators at risk of removal.

Void imminent.

She didn't feel them dying due to her own death at the time, but she did now. She knew that was what was happening. Their bodies would outlast their sentience. As the mechanically spoken words proclaimed, they would be nothing more than a void. Neither the twins nor any of the other mechs or femme she had bonded herself to would survive through this.

Very distantly the Allspark supplied to her the knowledge that given time the other Cybertronians would fall to the same fate. The Allspark was designed to power them, to keep their race alive, and while the destruction of her bond with the others brought their end sooner than the others, they would still not escape extinction. The Allspark's power wouldn't be gone, but without her to access it any longer there was little to no hope for them.

She reached out her hands and touched her ghostly appendages against their chest-plates above where their sparks resided. The sparks were going dark and cold. Tears welled in her eyes as she lamented over their looming death.

Whatever it was that their originators had designed them for would initialize as soon as their awareness of themselves snuffed out. They were designed for destruction – for fighting – to do the dirty work that their Creators didn't want to suffer themselves. Would Earth die from the Machine turning back on and drawing out the power from the Sun or would its inhabitants meet its end by the very servos of the aliens once set on saving them?

She didn't have long to linger in her sorrow as she was ripped from the dream or hallucination or whatever it was as she came back to life. Everything grew black and she felt tired.

She was waking up.

"I know, Mike," she mumbled as she pushed the blanket off of herself. She admired the lavender Honeycomb that encased her left leg from just below her knee to her ankle for only a moment before attempting to turn herself. She hissed and grit her teeth at the pain that seemed to blossom all over.

"Lay down back down, Sweetspark," Ratchet chided her, his holoform settling in her direct path. The human face was stern and uncompromising. Mike's own hands hovered nearby as though wanting to set her back against the cot, but afraid to hurt her. Ratchet had no such compunctions. His steady medic's hands settled lightly, but firmly onto her shoulders and urged her back. "Where were you going?"

"I need to see everyone." Primarily the Autobots.

"You need to rest." There was great deal of chastisement in that tone and it had her looking down at her lap. It was hard to see through her right eye, the edges blackened and the center of her vision in that eye blurred, but she wasn't blind. That in itself was a miracle. She felt the yellow officer soften towards her. "I will call them in. Only a few at once. You must rest and remain calm."

She wanted to see Optimus first, but she knew that she wouldn't be able to due to the meeting he would undoubtedly be having with Lennox as well as the Jordanian king and her own President. So instead she requested for Bumblebee and Jazz.

Almost instantly their holoforms fizzled into existence before her, their blue eyes warm and full of love. It wasn't Mike was narrowly hustled off of her cot as the two crowded in closely. Bumblebee was the first to her and set his warm palms against her cheeks, the one on her right so light he might not have been touching her at all.

"I did not think I would see these eyes again, Samantha." His line echoed with remembered hurt, loss, and anger. She felt it through them all. Had he been human he would have trembled.

"I'm here, 'Bee. Here to stay." She raised a good hand to grip one of his tightly. She smiled, ignoring the horrible tightness in her cheek and lips from the pull of muscle and tendon. "The Fallen…he's gone?"

Jazz stepped forward and around Bumblebee, reaching out his own hand to touch the back of her palm which she still gripped at the scout. "He is. With Jetfire's help Optimus was able to offline and destroy that piece of ancient scrap metal. For being as old as he is that antiquated mech has some serious power packed in those afterburners of his. Most of us only hope to have the kind of strength he displays at such advanced vorns."

She figured as much. Despite his 'infirmities', Jetfire was still a magnificent being of engineering and design. His will, intelligence, and power had seen him through lifetimes, but without a body of strength it would have been for naught.

"Thank God," she sighed, closing her eyes.

She had known the Fallen was dead, knew it without a shadow of a doubt in her mind or heart, but there was something in her that had not been there before. Megatron. She had an awareness of him that went past the Allspark knowing where he was, but not yet attaining a bond with him. She could feel the taint that the Fallen had left on him gone. The Megatron that he had once been would reemerge without the ancient mech's influence, but she wondered if it would be soon enough.

This War had to end.

She tilted her head off to the side and looked off behind the assembled mechs to see the main entrance of the tent tremble. There was the sound of raised voices for only a moment before a familiar face ran his way into the tent.

"Hey! They said you were up!" Leo ignored the dark looks given to him by the Autobots as he shouldered his way up beside her. He didn't have the nerve to push them out of the way. He was probably afraid to, wisely so, after witnessing Skids and Mudflap losing their circuits in the quarry. Simmons came in after him, a little slower and warier as he assessed the space as a whole. Epps, too, made his way up to her.

"How are you doing, Leo?" She could see a cut above his left eye, not very deep, and he looked tired. She frowned. "I'm sorry about all of this. You didn't need to be dragged into this."

"I don't regret it, though." He shrugged a single shoulder negligently. "Don't get me wrong, it wasn't exactly fun, but you were right. I wanted it to be real and I got that."

"You feeling a little more on the up and up, Sam?" Robert Epps asked her softly, his eyes assessing as he took in her lounging form. His brow perked up to see the Honeycombs on her arm and leg.

"I'm alive," she responded unnecessarily rudely. No, she didn't feel all that well. She could feel the Allspark again unlike before, but she had felt it after waking from her death so she wasn't sure if enough energy had been returned to her via the Other or something else. She hurt everywhere, though, and was considerably miserable.

She'd only been a part of it all since Mission City, just over two years, and she felt as though she had been embroiled in the War from the very beginning. She was, to quote every mother on Earth, sick and tired of it all.

"I need to get up," she pronounced to the room as a whole, hissing as she worked her way back over the edge of the cot. Ratchet sighed deeply from nearby. She could tell between them so easily.

"You are a force of nature, Sam," Jazz chuckled as he hunkered himself up beside her. His holoform, an attractive black man with piercing blue eyes, reached dark-as-pitch hands out to her. "May I? I think it best that you do not walk around on your own for now."

"Please," she solicited, raising her arms up so that she could wrap them around the thick column of his neck as he eased her into his own arms. He hefted her weight as though she were a single pound of flour. No effort. No strain. The ease in which any of them maneuvered and carried considerable weight was daunting.

"Ratchet?" She gave him the best puppy-eyes she could muster of Jazz's holo's shoulder through the darkly tinted sunglasses. "Can I please go outside? I need to see everybody." Including Astrotrain, whose distress she'd been feeling since she'd woken up, and a mech that she had yet to bond herself to that was not far from the mammoth ex-Decepticon General.

"Very well. You may go." He held up a single gnarled finger in warning. "You will heed me, though, Sparkling. If at any time it gets to be too much you will willingly return to this tent until such time that we can be on our way. Am I understood?"

"Yes Hatchet." She stuck her tongue out at him playfully, ignoring the uncomfortable pull to her lip as she did so, but reassured him through their bond that she meant it. She couldn't bring her body to fight any of their protective instincts even if she had wanted to.

Jazz was slow in bringing her outside and she semi-hid her face in his chest. The sunglasses were extremely dark, but the fabric of the tent had helped to lessen the powerful glare of the Sun they had so recently saved. It had been midday when the Fallen had killed her and then Optimus in turn had deactivated and dismantled him. It was still bright. Had she slept through the night or was it the same day?

"It's tomorrow," Mike mumbled next to her ear as he shielded his own eyes from the bright sunshine. "Ratchet kept you under so that he could heal you without hurting you more than he had to. Besides, you needed the sleep."

No kidding, she snorted derisively.

While the Autobots didn't rush her physically, she felt them all smother her inwardly. They touched her all over, reassuring themselves that she was there. She felt them knotting their bonds around her like nooses. They had lost her once and they weren't about to let her go again.

She felt like a steer being roped in the rodeo ring.

Humming in acknowledgement to them she passed her gaze around the crowd of humans and Cybertronians alike. Some of the Jordanians gaped like fish out of water at the mechanical titans towering so stoically over them. Under normal circumstances she knew them to be quite amicable and friendly towards the human race, but they were colder at the moment. Her recent brush with death had done that to them.

They were all here. Not a single one of them had remained behind at Diego Garcia. They had all come. She wasn't really surprised. They felt the need to protect her, but also with the threat of N.E.S.T. disbanding they weren't going to linger in the shadows. It was quite literally do or die.

On the fringe of the Autobot cluster sat Astrotrain. The great mech, though sitting on his aft in the sand almost carelessly, had a helm nearly even with Jetfire's. Jetfire wasn't sitting, but neither did he rely on his 'cane' for support. He leaned against it, yes, but she couldn't see as it was because his struts refused to hold him.

A small blue form jetted out from under the Blackbird's peds and sped towards where Jazz cradled her. She tapped the holo's shoulder and pointed towards the defacto-Decepticons. She knew without having to ask that Astrotrain would not be returning to Megatron's side as long as she remained with the Autobots. Their newly formed bond would allow for no less.

"Warrior Goddess!" Wheelie cried with enthusiastic joy. His spindly arms waved dramatically. "I am sorry that I could not defend you more! I came to your side as soon as I could."

"It's all right, Wheelie," she assured him as Jazz made his, and her, way towards the great Cybertronian beasts. His movements were stiff and she could feel that he didn't fully desire to put her within reaching distance of the mechs, but he deny her. He knew the bond was there with Astrotrain and the quadru-arm – was that even a word, she wondered absently – would be unable to harm her. He could not go against the new and primary coding in his systems that made it impossible to do so. "I'm sure we can figure something out in the future for you to stay near me and keep me safe. My pint-sized bodyguard." She smirked at the dueling feelings of indignation and pride that soared through the line connecting her to the tiny 'Con.

It wouldn't be much of a fight to do so, she knew. Despite his size, Wheelie was not human-made. He was not young. He was strong and fierce. To an extent he could keep her safe until reinforcements arrived.

The fight would lie in trying to get the others to let her return to human society without an armored sentinel within a ten-foot radius.

Worry about that another time, the inner-her cautioned sagely. I'm too damned sore and tired to deal with that fight right now. Recovery first and then we'll set our sights on a plan of attack.

"I'm sorry Astrotrain," she spoke as clearly as she could while keeping her face shadowed in Jazz's chest. The sunlight was so strong outside. She shoved heartfelt guilt at the four-eyed, four-armed mech that had crimson optics only for her. "I wouldn't have done that if there had been any other option. Your choices should be your own."

"What did you do, youngling?" Jetfire inquired gently. It was only his tone that gave him away to her. Outwardly he made no gestures. He had no 'tells' like a human would.

Astrotrain ignored the black mech, his gunmetal servos reaching out for her. Jazz's frame stiffened even more underneath her before gently settling her onto the General's palm. Astrotrain's other primary servo hung above her, effectively blocking out much of the glare of the Sun. She gave a hefty sigh of relief. The heat was oppressive and the light hurt her sensitive eyes.

"This one sees no reason for you to apologize," the General's vocals were ultra-deep. They put Optimus's to shame, though the Prime's own voice was closer to heavenly than hell-fire tainted. Astrotrain's was not a soft voice. "Had you not initiated a bond, this one would have been so much fodder on the fields of battle. It was well known that the Fallen did not leave witnesses to his scheming machinations for power. This one is…grateful to you."

His tension was still there at being amongst those who he had once called enemy, but now must call brothers, but for the first time he reached out for her tentatively. His line shimmered with apprehension. He was timid.

She answered his call with one of her own. She pulsed care and friendship through the tether holding them together for the rest of their lives. She sent reassurances. Sam felt nothing except gratitude and peace for the connection she shared with the mech and she let that wash over them both.

His faceplates couldn't show it, but she felt his smile anyway.

"Allow me to see what it is that I am missing." Before she could say yay or nay to that proclamation, she felt a single digit brush against her back. If her ribs hadn't been broken she would have gasped and jolted away. The abortive movement wouldn't have saved her, though, from Jetfire's tie to the Allspark snapping taught to her very soul.

All of his memories – so many! – poured through her in an instant. Amazement, amusement, and contentment tickled her senses from his direction.

"Ah. How fortuitous that I felt the urge to protect you earlier." She felt glee from the ancient. He even chortled happily. "Though I see now that I misinterpreted your age. You are but a Sparkling, are you not?"

Samantha groaned loudly.

Here we go again, she thought cynically, sneering at the humor the others felt at her 'misery'.

Eleven Hours Later:

Samantha sat on the edge of the bow of the U.S.S. Roosevelt. Her legs hung over the lip precariously. She knew she was being watched diligently, like a toddler that had just learned to walk and the whole house needed baby-proofing, and so felt no fear of falling. She wouldn't have feared it even without the watchful eye of every Cybertronian on board.

The Sun was setting again just like it had back in New Jersey the night before the Pretender's, Alice's, appearance. This one wasn't quite as pretty. She imagined watching it set against the backdrop of the Pyramids again. That had been an experience she would never forget. She'd gotten to see Egypt! She'd seen a sunrise and sunset over various ruins that most people could only ever dream of seeing.

It had been amazing.

"Did Ratchet not tell you to keep your leg elevated?" The gravely baritone that echoed closely behind her had her chuckling. She tipped her head back to look the long distance up into Optimus Prime's blazing blue optics. He entire shape was darkened and slightly blurred in her one eye, but that was okay. Even if she were blind she knew that she could see him no differently than he was now. He was a hero amongst his people and a good mech.

"He did," she agreed readily enough, though she didn't lift her leg back up onto the deck.

The Prime exhaled harshly through his intake valves. "Do not dally in obedience, please. He will be most displeased with us both if your healing is prolonged due to your own reckless abandon."

The blonde chuckled again.

"I always know you all are stressed when you drop the mannerisms," she noted out loud. She scooted back just enough to swing her leg up onto the deck. It wasn't exactly elevated, but at least it wasn't hanging towards the water any longer. Her brows pinched at the pain she felt in her chest at the movement. She was preemptive in speaking, knowing that if she wasn't she'd be 'escorted' back to the lower decks where Ratchet worked to mend the damage done to his comrades. She didn't want another sedative pumped into her. "Don't make me go back in just yet. Please? I want to sit out in the fresh air for a little while longer. This sunset…I wasn't sure if I'd see one again."

She watched silently as the skies took on a blazing inferno coloration. It wasn't the pinks and purples she found so entrancing, but it was pretty just the same. The beaches had disappeared from sight hours ago, but she still looked in that direction as though hoping to catch a peak at the historic monuments once more.

"Thank you for saving my life, Sweetspark." He kneeled now beside her. One of his servos cupped along her back for both support and for the physical connection it brought them.

"No, Optimus. Don't thank me. I could have done nothing less for you." She looked into his optics and sent a thought to him filled with love. "You do all in your power to help those you love."

:: Indeed. :: His response was immediate and sent shivers of pleasure down her spine. :: And you are well loved, my little Sweetspark. You deserve no less. ::

She sent him a teary smile before looking back out over the ocean. Her jaw trembled as she held back the jubilant sobs that threatened.

They were headed for home. Well, for Diego Garcia at any rate. She would stay there for a short time while she healed with Racthet's added care, make up her assignments without the threat of the glyphs demanding her full attention online, and then return to campus life. She wasn't quite sure how she was going to do that just yet, but she'd find a way. She was nothing if not resourceful.

She'd handle the problem of her forced 'publicity' across the world and then she would handle the overprotective Cybertronians that would be determined to keep her contained in a secured bubble of their metal and Energon.

She wouldn't let that happen.

The Other, as topsy-turvy as his speaking had been, had made her think more clearly. He hadn't made a lot of sense to her, but he was right that the Allspark was her now. She couldn't pretend to be a normal human and she didn't have the right to. She was meant to be there for the Cybertronian race. She was meant to save their race if she at all could. A human degree would bump her position among the Earthen species and thereby help in her cause to aid the Autobots and Decepticons better. She would take the avenues presented to her that would best help her to reach her ultimate goal.

The Cybertronians were hers now. They belonged to and of the Allspark, though their souls originated elsewhere – that was who/what the Other was, she assumed – and the Allspark was her. The Allspark's 'children' were her children.

They are mine, she barked fiercely in the sanctity of her own mind. They are mine and nothing will take them from me.

She looked back over the deck, noting the 'new' gunmetal C-17 and Blackbird stationed side-by-side, surrounded by seven of the Autobots in their terrestrial guises. The rest were stationed down below and being repaired by Ratchet. Leo was standing beside Simmons, the two arguing like the rivals they were. Mike was chatting with Lennox and Epps, though he looked her way frequently to ensure that she was as fine as she proclaimed.

These were her allies. Her friends.

No, she told herself firmly. They are my family. So long as there's air in my lungs and life in this body, I will never give up on them. I will never stop fighting for them.

"I don't know what the future hold for us, Optimus," she began with conviction, finality ringing in every word. She met her eyes to his optics before setting them for the distant stars that were beginning to blink into existence in the darkening sky. "I don't know if we're going to survive or burn out like one of those stars, but I do know one thing…I will never give up.

"You all are mine and I will never let you go."

She felt his grin in her heart, felt all of their answering faith in both her and her words.

She closed her eyes and concentrated, sending a burst of thought and feeling out into the heavens. She sent it for her children that had yet to come home. She sent it for those that chose to block her out, wanting them to know that no matter what she accepted them. She would not shut them out.

:: Come to me, my sweet ones. Come home where you are meant to be. ::