As far as Mearing heard, Optimus and the others returned to NEST after recovering Sentinel and the Pillars from the Ark. She went out into the hangar to greet them. She could see Optimus carry Sentinel while Ratchet carried the Pillars. Upon seeing Sentinel for the first time, Sentinel seemed handsome to her, for an old mech. She figured that he must've been a wise leader back on Cybertron.
Of course, she remembered Optimus telling her of how Sentinel was the inventor of an Autobot technology and the captain of the Ark, the ship that crashed on the moon. Mearing didn't expect for Sentinel to be this handsome, even for her age; but she stood tall, hiding any signs of attraction.
"Welcome back, Optimus," said Mearing.
Optimus didn't hear, as he was focused on what he held in his arms. A large Transformer. As he passed, Mearing saw the face of the new mech for the first of many times. She didn't pay attention to the fact that Lennox was entering the hangar.
"Well," sighed Mearing, "I suppose we should get the Pillars stored so the Decepticons don't get them."
"We're on it," nodded Lennox.
Lennox stepped toward the other soldiers while Mearing wandered back to her office, figuring that she should carry out some paperwork.
Later that evening, while conversing with the other members of NEST, Mearing noticed that Lennox arrived with Sam and Carly accompanying him. Who let these teenagers into the base? After discussing with the teenagers about Jerry Wang's recent murder, she led the teenagers and Lennox down the hall and into a vast chamber, where Mearing could see Sentinel lying on a gurney.
"So," asked Lennox, "what are we doing now?"
"We're getting ready to revive Sentinel," answered Mearing.
Mearing could notice the majestic appearance as Sentinel lay lifeless on the gurney...wait, why was she eve thinking of him? He's an alien robot! Mearing shook her head, brushing off the silly idea of having a crush on him. There's no way a human and a Cybertronian can reproduce, right? Just then, Optimus opened up his spark chamber and the Matrix of Leadership emerged.
"Let us begin," said Optimus.
Optimus stepped towards the gurney, determined to bring back his mentor.
"Sentinel Prime," continued Optimus, "we bid you return."
Sentinel awoke and his optics blazed to life. Never had Mearing seen such fiery eyes, full of power and fury as the ancient mech tackled Optimus, growling in what must have been his native language.
"Hold your fire!" commanded Lennox.
"Sentinel," called Optimus, "it is I, Optimus Prime!"
Upon recognizing Optimus, Sentinel stood to his feet while Mearing wandered onto the balcony to greet him.
"It is all right," assured Optimus, "you are safe."
"There's nothing to fear," added Ratchet.
"We are here," concluded Optimus, "you are home, Sentinel."
Mearing could gaze at the elder Prime as he glanced around the room with a puzzled look.
"The war?" panicked Sentinel, "the war!"
Optimus slowly got back to his feet and put the Matrix back into his spark chamber.
"The war was lost," Optimus sadly explained, "Cybertron is now but a barren wasteland, "we have taken refuge here on planet Earth. Its human race is our ally."
"My ship," demanded Sentinel, "we came under fire. The Pillars; where are the Pillars?!"
"You saved five of them," answered Optimus, "including the Control Pillar."
"Only five?" exclaimed Sentinel, "we once had hundreds!"
Mearing was now curious about the technology the Autobots had, and she definitely had to get some answers out of him.
"Excuse me, gentleman," interrupted Mearing, "may I ask, what is this technology you are looking for?"
Sentinel focused his fierce blue optics on Mearing.
"It is the ability to reshape the universe," explained Sentinel, "together, the Pillars form a space bridge. I designed, and I alone, can control it. It defies your laws of physics; can transport matter through time and space."
Mearing could recognize that technology for some reason.
"You're talking about a teleportation device," clarified Mearing, "aren't you?"
"Yes," nodded Optimus, "for resources, for refugees."
"Refugees," added Mearing, "or troops of soldiers, weapons, maybe bombs? A means of instant strike, that's its military function, isn't it?"
Mearing knew that the Autobots would never send such destruction through the space bridge, but she suspected that those were possibilities if they were in the wrong hands.
"It is our technology," requested Sentinel, "and it must be returned!"
"Yes," disagreed Mearing, "if humans say so. You can't just bring weapons of mass destruction into our atmospheree. I will have to clear customs first. A little formality called paperwork kinda separates us from the animals."
"I will overlook your condescending tone," remarked Sentinel, "if you heed the gravity of mine."
Wait, was Sentinel being sarcastic?
"The Decepticons must never know the space bridge is here," warned Sentinel.
Sentinel leaned his face closer to Mearing with a stern expression in his optics.
"...For in their hands," continued Sentinel, "it would mean the end of your world."
Mearing wasn't sure what else to say to Sentinel, although she did end the conversation so she could deal with Sam and Carly in her office.
A few days have passed since Sentinel's revival, and Mearing tried to brush off the dream she had last night; that of Sentinel. Is this love at first sight? No way! Right now, she had recently gotten a call from Sam as he told her that the Decepticons were coming after Sentinel. That can't be good.
"I swear to God," grumbled Mearing, "that old fire truck is going to be the death of me."
Mearing could admit that Sentinel does act rather cranky, yet there is something that must be drawing her toward him. She pondered over the feeling while the SUV drove toward the base. When she arrived, the base was literally a warzone, with three black Suburbans that quickly transformed into three Decepticons fighting against Sentinel.
"Why don't you come with us, old mech?" requested one of the Decepticons, "Lord Megatron is waiting for you."
"I'm a Prime," snarled Sentinel, "I do not take orders from the likes of you, and tell Megatron to come here and I'll be happy to show him where he can shove his requests!"
Sentinel kicked one of the Dreads in the face, sending him crashing into the ground.
"My god," exclaimed Mearing, "take those things down!"
Sentinel actually drove the Con back, his speed, strength, and agility surprising for someone his age. Just then, Ironhide jumped into the fray.
"About time you louts showed up," sighed Sentinel, "I can't do this forever!"
"Not to worry," assured Ironhide, "I can kick some Decepti-can!"
"Then go long!" declared Sentinel.
Sentinel kicked a Dread toward Ironhide, and the Autobot weapons specialist shot it in the head.
"One down," mused Sentinel, "two to go!"
As if on cue, Bumblebee and Sideswipe entered the fray, with Sam and Lennox standing on the sidelines.
"You two," ordered Sentinel, "have a Con!"
Upon cue, Bumblebee tackled one Dread while Sideswipe slashed his blade at the other. Soon, the four Autobots had the two Cons defeated. Now they stood surveying the damage to the base and themselves.
"That was a close call!" sighed Lennox.
"You've got to guard Sentinel," warned Sam, "he's the key to the whole thing."
"Something is wrong," muttered Sentinel, snapping his head around uneasily, "something's not right."
Suddenly, a massive driller appeared out of nowhere with Shockwave riding on it.
"Find the Pillars," commanded Shockwave.
Shockwave jumped off the driller as it slithered into the base, causing damage as it went.
"No!" panicked Sentinel.
Sentinel jumped onto the driller while running toward its head.
"Stop!" yelled Sentinel.
Sentinel was just close to the driller's head, but the giant robotic worm suddenly jerked and flung Sentinel off, sending him crashing into a plane. The elder Prime groaned as he started to get back to his feet.
"If you know what is good for you," warned Shockwave, "you will not interfere, old mech."
"I don't take orders from Decepticons!" spat Sentinel.
Sentinel raced after the driller once again, but Shockwave managed to get in the way.
"Move aside," snapped Sentinel, "slagheap!"
"Make me," smirked Shockwave.
Sentinel slashed his Primax blade, making a mark in Shockwave's side and causing him to shout in pain. The elder Prime seized the chance and sprinted after the driller, but soon noticed that it was already breaking into the vault.
"GET OUT," shouted Sentinel, "YOU FRAGGER!"
Sentinel slashed at its head, wounding it in any way he could think of while positioning himself between the beast and the Pillars. However, it seemed to be a bad move since one of the smaller heads slithered close to the elder Prime and bit him hard in the leg. Sentinel screamed in pain, fighting to hold off the Driller as he managed to slice off the head that bit him, which he kicked aside in disgust. Little did he know, Shockwave was about to fire at him, much to Mearing's surprise. She can't just stand there and let the Decepticon kill him!
"Sentinel," warned Mearing, "watch out!"
"Huh?" paused Sentinel.
Sentinel managed to dodge it, the shot only grazing his head. He kept his optics on the Driller, determined to guard the Pillars. But even Mearing could tell the leg wound was bad, bleeding profusely. The shot managed to hit the lock on the vault and Shockwave began to move in as the elder Prime started to become tired from the fight.
"IRONHIDE," Sentinel swore loudly, "I NEED BACKUP!"
As if on cue, Ironhide arrived at the scene.
"Get Shockwave," commanded Sentinel.
"Sure thing," nodded Ironhide.
The Autobot weapons specialist charged at Shockwave, his cannons at the ready.
"Feeling lucky," hissed Ironhide, shooting at Shockwave, "Decepticon punk?"
Shockwave took a few hits, causing him to return fire. One of the shots hit Ironhide in the shoulder, causing him to shout in pain.
"Slag," groaned Ironhide, "BUMBLEBEE, SIDESWIPE, GET IN HERE!"
Just as Sideswipe and Bumblebee arrived at the fray, Shockwave shot at the ground, causing both Autobots to jump back.
"All of you back down now," demanded Shockwave, "or I will kill every organic here..."
Shockwave aimed his cannon at Mearing, causing her to tense up as a chill was sent down her spine.
"...Starting with this one," continued Shockwave.
The only sounds came from Sentinel and the Driller, as Sentinel hadn't been able to hear the threat over the sounds of his fight. Luckily, he had also commed Optimus, who now took Shockwave by surprise. The young Prime punched Shockwave in the face, sending him crashing into the ground.
"Autobots," commanded Optimus, "attack!"
Optimus and Ironhide charged at Shockwave while Bumblebee and Sideswipe went after the driller. Sentinel was still fighting to keep the Pillars safe. Mearing didn't know much about these strange creatures' bodies, but she knew a crippling wound when she saw one, like the one on Sentinel's leg. Add to that the additional damage he was taking from continuing the fight. He was losing, and Mearing could tell he didn't have long before he was defeated. And it turns out that she wasn't the only one as Bumblebee noticed as well.
"Sentinel," advised Bumblebee, "we'll take care of this one from here."
"I can't," groaned Sentinel, exhausted, "let them...the Pillars...aagh!"
The next thing she knew, Mearing saw Sentinel collapse on his knees, dropping his Primax blade and shield. At that moment, she couldn't stand to just let him die.
"Lennox," commanded Mearing, "send reinforcements to back them up!"
"You got it," nodded Lennox.
Mearing turned back to Sentinel in time to see the Driller rearing above the wounded old mech, preparing to strike the killing blow, and the elder Prime was completely helpless. He could only sit there in the growing pool of his own energon, waiting to die. Optimus shot a glance at his mentor and his optics widened in panic.
"Sentinel!" shouted Optimus.
Optimus tackled the driller before it could harm Sentinel any further. While Optimus used his arm blade to slice the robotic worm, Shockwave shoved Ironhide, Bumblebee and Sideswipe out of the way while wandering into the vault. Mearing would not let the Decepticon get his hands on the Pillars, so she has to at least do something. As a last resort, Sentinel fell on top of the Pillars, his body covering them. Upon cue, Mearing sprinted closer to the vault.
"If you don't leave right now," barked Mearing, "I will have squadrons take you down with rockets!"
"Hmph," scoffed Shockwave, "no human can kill me, least of all you."
Shockwave used all his strength to shove Sentinel aside and snatched the cases containing the Pillars.
Sentinel struggled to his feet.
"No," groaned Sentinel weakly, "g-get...your filthy hands...off them...D-dec-cepti...cepti...slag..."
Sentinel staggered toward Shockwave despite his body's protests and the energon he was losing. Even Mearing was amazed to see someone who was obviously in unimaginable pain still continuing to fight with every bit of strength he had. The driller managed to knock Optimus aside as Shockwave jumped on top of it.
"Stop," gasped Sentinel while swaying, "stop...him..."
Sentinel fell to the side below the walkway Mearing was standing on, where he lay motionless on the floor. The driller began slithering out of the base with Ironhide, Bumblebee and Sideswipe chasing it.
"Get back here," shouted Ironhide, "you Decepticon punk!"
Much to their dismay, Shockwave and the driller was out of sight.
"Damn," muttered Sideswipe, "he's gone, 'Hide."
"Oh, Primus," groaned Ironhide, "Optimus isn't going to like this."
Ironhide, Sideswipe and Bumblebee returned to the base, where they could see Optimus carrying Sentinel toward the medical station as Ratchet appeared.
"What in Primus's name?" exclaimed Ratchet.
"Shockwave attacked the base and took the Pillars," explained Lennox.
"What did this?" demanded Ratchet, pointing to Sentinel.
"Sentinel tried to stop Shockwave and the driller from taking the Pillars," explained Ironhide, "but they beat him up really bad."
"H-He...took," gasped Sentinel, "the...Pillars."
Optimus set Sentinel down onto the gurney.
"We'll track him down," assured Optimus, "don't worry."
Sentinel only groaned softly in response. Optimus focused his optics on Ratchet.
"I'll do everything I possibly can," declared Ratchet, "Optimus."
"Thank you," smiled Optimus, "Ironhide, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, you're with me."
"Notify the hundred and first airborne," added Lennox, "we need to hunt this thing down!"
"We're on it, sir," nodded a soldier.
Later that day, everyone on base was out with some sort of duty. Everyone except Charlotte Mearing and of course Sentinel Prime, who now lay in a makeshift patient's ward beside Ratchet's medical area. It was the equivalent of a standard single person hospital room for humans. She was impressed that Ratchet did a good job repairing his wounds. While focusing her eyes on the elder Prime, she couldn't help but feel sorry for him. She knew he tried as hard as he could to keep the Pillars out of Decepticon hands. He groaned, muttering quietly in his native language, which didn't sound so harsh now that it wasn't being yelled. She did pick up English words: "failure", "weak", and "my fault", as he seemed almost ready to cry.
"Sentinel?" Mearing said softly.
Sentinel slowly turned his head to Mearing.
"Yes?" he said softly.
"Are you feeling all right?" asked Mearing.
"No," answered Sentinel, "I am not. The Deceptions now have the space bridge. With it, they can easily defeat us...and it's my fault for being too weak to guard it."
"You fought as hard as you can to keep the technology out of Decepticon hands," replied Mearing, "we all did. It's just that this Shockwave has overwhelmed us."
"I should've killed it," sighed Sentinel, "I should've killed him...I am useless to this cause."
"I don't see you as useless," assured Mearing, "we could've sent you reinforcements, yet it was already too late."
"What have I done," asked Sentinel, "except hand the victory to the Decepticons?"
"Just because the enemy attacked the base and stole your technology doesn't make you a traitor," explained Mearing.
"No," muttered Sentinel, "but it doesn't help us, either."
"Wasn't the space bridge meant to ensure the Autobots' victory?" pondered Mearing.
"Yes," nodded Sentinel, "but it can't now."
Mearing glanced around the room and noticed that no one else is around, so maybe she could try comforting Sentinel up close. He kept his optics on her, not sure what she was doing. She carefully climbed onto the gurney, making sure she doesn't fall off and stepped closer to the elder Prime's face. His large, alert blue optics tracked her every move. Mearing eventually settled next to Sentinel's head while placing her hand on his face.
"We may be facing a crisis right now," said Mearing, "but I'm sure we'll find a way to stop the Decepticons before they could bring humanity to extinction."
"How can you be so sure?" objected Sentinel.
The elder Prime's ancient eyes softened when Mearing came near, but she could see the eons of pain, sadness, and suffering in them, much like the eyes of many a retired military service person who spent their life in a warzone.
"I've been in the military like you have," answered Mearing.
"But I doubt you've known the loss I have," replied Sentinel, "losing loved ones in war is one thing. But actually watching them die..."
Mearing didn't say anything, but she stroked Sentinel's face, hoping to soothe him. He found that he rather liked this soft touch. It had been eons since he'd felt one like it. Slowly, he brought up his hand and put it around her, trying to show he liked it and wondering what he could do to show his appreciation for this alien woman taking the time to be with him and comfort him. Mearing could feel her heart beating faster in response. Should she really accept the fact that she likes him? It seemed that she didn't have much choice, since he apparently sensed it, too.
"Are you all right?" asked Sentinel, concerned, "your pulse has increased."
"I'm fine," assured Mearing.
Mearing leaned closer to his face and gently embraced him. Sentinel couldn't hide a smile as he placed his hand protectively over her. Her hand brushed away his tears on one side of his face.
"Thank you," whispered Sentinel.
"You're welcome," smiled Mearing.
He said nothing and just laid there, letting her do as she pleased with him. After a long while, Mearing released her embrace and sat up.
"I hope you are feeling better," said Mearing, "now if you'll excuse me, I have paperwork to do."
"My apologies for taking up your time," muttered Sentinel.
"No need to apologize," assured Mearing, "I'm just..."
Mearing glanced around the room once again.
"Can you keep a secret?" whispered Mearing.
"Yes," nodded Sentinel.
"Have you thought about the possibility of humans and Cybertronians in relationships?" Mearing asked softly.
"A bit," answered Sentinel, "why?"
"I think love at first sight seems ridiculous," admitted Mearing, "and yet I find myself liking you."
"May I ask why?" requested Sentinel.
"I guess I find you attractive," explained Mearing, "considering that I've never dated anyone."
"I've only had one love," replied Sentinel, "so I guess that makes two of us."
Mearing nodded in agreement.
"Perhaps," suggested Sentinel, "at some point...we could take the time to get to know each other better."
"After we solve the crisis," agreed Mearing.
"Do you really think we have a chance?" asked Sentinel.
"I believe so," nodded Mearing, "all we have to do is to come up with a plan for a counterattack."
"Good luck," replied Sentinel.
Mearing climbed down the gurney and sauntered over to her office to finish her paperwork. She now had an objective to accomplish, solve the crisis and then she could set up a date for her and Sentinel. Maybe this could work out after all.