I apologise that it's been so long since I updated. Put simply, life got in the way. But, the new chapter is here now and I hope you enjoy it.
Also just a small note that this story will probably have plenty of random people (aka human ocs) drop in and out throughout the story because what's the point of saving humanity if you don't meet some along the way :D

And shout out to for the kind review! It helped give me the motivation to finish the chapter and for a scene that should show up next chapter :)

Because it's been so long, just to put you back into the story, here's the last few lines of the last chapter where a certain someone has just arrived to help Jack and Arcee:

A platform under the ship lowered and her position automatically straightened. A tall blue and red mech stepped out. He regarded the wet earth distastefully as his large form sunk slightly into the mud. Grunting, he turned his focus onto Arcee. "Report, soldier."

The femme saluted. "Arcee reporting, sir. Welcome to Earth."


Chapter four - Of gain and loss

"Sir?" Jack raised an eyebrow at his partner. The Autobots had never used such formal language with each other before. What made this guy so special?

"Hmmm," the tall mech with large shoulders narrowed his optics at the earth creature. "Please advise the native to watch his tone."

"What?" Who did that guy think he was?

"Jack, please," Arcee knelt down to speak with her charge. "This is Ultra Magnus, Optimus' key lieutenant during the war. He's real by the book type. Just go with it."

Jack nodded slightly. He wasn't sure he liked this, but as long as this new bot was there to help, he would put up with it.

Arcee stood and addressed Ultra Magnus. "Sir, we have been escorting rescued civilians to a secure location. We aim to reach there by nightfall as our supplies are almost depleted."

"Understood. Is this all the native lifeforms you have been travelling with?" he gestured towards the small group, who were watching the encounter closely for signs of more trouble.

"Yes, this is all," replied Jack as he stepped forward. At a stern look from the commander he added, "…Uh, sir."

"Very well. I will take you to your destination via my ship. We are to be grateful for your small statures as without it we would not have the room to accommodate you all. Come." Ultra Magnus made his way back through the mud to his ship.

"What did he mean by that?" Elicia asked as everyone followed the mech.

"He means that we're short so we don't take up much space," Victoria explained.

"And that's a good thing?"

The young woman glanced up at the metal titans. "Not usually." She watched as Ultra Magnus took the platform up so that he would not get in the way of loading on the humans. "But today, it's a blessing."

Once Ultra Magnus had returned to his ship, the platform lowered again to pick up it's charges. Arcee climbed on and helped the humans up, the height a bit troublesome to a few of them. Remaining on the ground, Jack did the same. Quickly they got the ex-captives on board until everyone except Jack and Victoria were on the platform.

Victoria heaved herself up as Arcee counted the group to make sure they hadn't lost anyone. The woman turned to Jack as she sat on the lip, extending a hand to him. "You doing alright?"

He raised an eyebrow in confusion as he grabbed her hand. "Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"

She helped him up. "Well, um, after what that mean bot did to you, are you sure you aren't injured?"

"Oh, yeah," he assured her. "Probably have a few bruised ribs, but I'll live."

Finishing her head count, and assured that no one had been left behind, Arcee started the platform to take them up. It was then that the whole ship lurched in the mud, flinging everyone over. The femme quickly threw an arm out to stop the people from falling off the ship. Two humans weren't so lucky.

Jack tumbled off the edge. For an adrenaline pumping few seconds he fell, only for his drop to be arrested as something grabbed his ankle. Catching his breath, he looked up to see Victoria holding his ankle with one hand while the other gripped the edge of the platform. The woman strained under the effort, her eyes screwed shut in concentration.

"Don't. Move," she uttered through grit teeth.

Jack froze as he swung slightly back and forth, her grip the only thing keeping him from falling to the mud below. The lift still moved higher and higher and even if they didn't fall, they still might get crushed. "Arcee!"

"Jack! Hold on!"

The lift jerked to a stop. Victoria let out a cry from the strain, her grip slipping.

"Arcee! Now would be a good time!" Jack always thought that if he was to die young, he'd die fighting Decepticons. He certainly never would have guessed it would come by dropping thirty feet onto his head.

"Jack…" Victoria's voice wavered. He could feel her grip slipping.

His thoughts turned his mother. He hoped she'd be alright without him, and that she wouldn't blame the bots too much for his death. She'd need their support when he was gone.

The ship slipped again and Victoria wasn't able to hold on any longer. They both started to fall.

"Ahhhhh-

"Oof ugh…"

"Owww…"

Their fall abruptly ended as they landed in a large metal hand. The pair looked up to see Ultra Magnus lifting them into the ship. He placed them beside Arcee and the other humans.

"Are you alright?"

"I think so," Jack uttered, getting up and rubbing his shoulder where he landed. "I'm alive at least."

Victoria didn't get up for the time being, instead lying on the floor and letting her arms recover. She groaned softly, "Please don't ever make me do that again…"

Ultra Magnus frowned at the fleshy creatures. "Your size certainly puts you at a disadvantage." He headed for the cockpit. "But now that everyone is on board, we must be going. I have no desire to have my ship sink any further into your water soaked organic terrain."

He moved off to pilot the ship, leaving Arcee to watch the humans.

"Vikky?" Elicia called out, the small girl stumbling around in an effort to find her guardian.

"Here I am. I'm alright," Victoria replied.

Following the sound of her voice, the young girl collapsed onto her in a hug. Groaning slightly, Victoria wrapped her arms around the child's small form. "We're all going to be okay now."


"Keep going!" Miko yelled as she ran after the fleeing people, periodically pausing just long enough to get in a shot at the two vehicons on their tail. Her and Vince's shots at their knees were the only things keeping them from catching up. The group had been moved into flight when the vehicons started smashing down trees, forcing them from their hiding places.

Turning to fire another bullet at the Decepticons, Miko hit one in the knee joint. Continuing her flight she checked her clip. Three bullets left. Scrap.

"We can't keep this up," Vince yelled at her after one of his own shots missed.

"How many you got left?"

"Four. You?"

"Three."

"I hope Hatchet has more back at base. And where in the pit is he anyway? We're gonna die out here!"

Miko frowned. She certainly wasn't ready to die out there. There had to be something they could do. Glancing back at the vehicons, an idea started formulate.

"Anything I can do to help?"

Miko glanced up at the stranger's voice to see a middle-aged man running beside her. He looked in pretty good shape for an older man, only a few grey strands behind his ears and a salt and pepper beard indicative of his age. Perhaps he could help. At the very least, he would be more reliable than Vince.

"How's your aim?" she asked, dodging around a tree.

The man grinned. "Pretty good. I was in the marines during my youth."

Miko's grin brightened. "Great! Take this," she handed him her pistol. "It's only got three shots left, so don't waste them."

"And what'll you be doing, missy?" he inquired, giving her a concerned look now that she was seemingly weaponless.

"Probably something stupid," grumbled Vince, firing another shot at their pursuers. At least it hit this time.

Miko rolled her eyes, "You won't be calling it stupid if it gets you out of this mess." She looked over at the middle-aged man, who was checking the pistol, getting a feel for it's weight. "Just keep them busy and I'll take care of the rest."

"What do you think you're gonna do without a weapon?" spat Vince. "Stare them to death?"

"Knock em dead," encouraged the ex-marine. "You got this, little lady."

She ignored Vince and nodded before disappearing into the trees.

"Oi!" yelled the man, waving an arm to grab the vehicons' attention.

The metal being turned towards the human. It raised its blaster to fire when something caught on his ankle. Glancing down, he saw another human climbing his leg.

"Halt!" he commanded. But she didn't listen, continuing to make her way up his appendage.

His partner paused to watch, snickering a little. "You've picked up a bug."

With a slight grunt at his fellow vehicon, the mech transformed his blaster back into a clawed hand to remove the tiny being. He reached out for her only to be struck in the face by a small explosion. His vocalisers hissed in pain, the shot almost having hit his optic. It would leave a nasty scar if not seen to, and since it was not life threatening, he would not be getting it seen to. No vehicon in their right mind went to see Knock Out unless they were leaking out or were missing a limb. Provided Knock Out wasn't the one to remove the limb in the first place.

"Take that ya rotten beast!" yelled the older man who'd shot him.

He growled a grumbling growl and turned his attention back to the girl climbing his frame. She'd reached his waist, using the gaps in his armour for foot and hand holds.

"This way, losers!" yelled Vince, shooting the second vehicon in the knee, steering his attention away from the ex-marine.

The two on the ground kept the second vehicon busy. Their ammunition supply low, they saved their shots, instead using their voices to attract the Decepticon towards them and away from his partner.

Meanwhile, Miko jumped out of the reach from the vehicon she was climbing. She had to get to his neck, that was where she could use her flip knife to cut a few cables, perhaps even offline the Decepticreep. Now that would make her guardian proud and give her one up on Vince. She couldn't wait to see his face once she killed the vehicon.

But first she had to make it to his neck. The vehicon growled, clawing at his own back but unable to reach the pesky girl climbing his armour. Miko was glad this guy was a grounder. She'd hate to think of what she'd have to deal with if she had to climb around a pair of wings.

"Get it off!" the vehicon cried, whirling around to unsuccessfully grab at his back.

Miko clung to the seam, feeling her stomach rise up into her throat. Primus, why couldn't he just stand still. It all would be over soon.

His partner started towards the distressed trooper. "Hold still, I'll get it."

"Hey! Leave her alone!" Vince cocked his modified shotgun and fired at the vehicon's head.

It hit his helm, leaving an awful wound down the side of his face. Touching a hand to it's face, the vehicon pulled it back, only for it to be covered in energon.

"You won't be getting those stunning looks back," the boy taunted.

"I'm gonna kill you!" roared the vehicon lunging for the human.

Before he got more than a step, a swirling ground bridge opened up beside him. The sound of a roaring engine reached his audios seconds before a yellow Urbana sped out and rammed right into him. The young scout transformed, slamming him into the ground and ending his existence with a swift shot to the helm.

Ratchet ran out of the portal after him, immediately taking stock of the scene. He spotted Vince and the middle aged man but not the young Wrecker. "Where's Miko?"

He was answered with a scream of pain. The girl had made it to the vehicon's neck and began slashing wires. The Decepticon started to go wild, ripping at his own neck as he tried to catch the insolent human attacking his sensitive wiring and hydraulics. Finding the spot she was looking for, Miko stabbed the knife into the main energon line for his processor. Without medical treatment he'd bleed out in less than a few minutes.

She made short work of a few more connections before making a dash for the mech's shoulder. "Catch me!"

Bumblebee warbled in fright. He made a desperate leap for the girl as she jumped from the vehicon, without even waiting for him to get closer. His servos closed around the girl, and he crashed to the ground. The vehicon she'd been assaulting scratched at his neck a few more times before giving a shudder and collapsing.

The young scout let out a whirr of relief, door wings relaxing. The current threats were neutralised and so far the rest of the Autobots were keeping their enemies distracted.

"Did I kill it?" Miko asked eagerly, trying to see the vehicon through Bumblebee's fingers.

Bang!

Bumblebee squealed in pain. The explosive bullet had hit the side of his head, damaging his audio fin.

"Let her go," growled the ex-marine, pointing Miko's pistol at the bot's head.

He whirred and beeped softly, letting Miko slide off his hands and onto the grass. He didn't get up and keep himself low, trying to appear as non-threatening as possible.

Ratchet, on the other hand, stomped up with a growl, "Put that down! We're here to rescue you." He batted the human away and huffed as he ran a scan over the scout.

"Hey, Ratch! About time you guys got here," called Miko.

"Some of yours I presume," the man asked as Miko took back her weapon, significantly lighter than when she'd handed it over. She didn't even need to check to know that there were no bullets left.

"Yeah," she grimaced, tucking the pistol back into its holster. She wasn't too happy that he'd used the last bullet on her friend.

"You'll live," grunted Ratchet to Bumblebee. Knowing he didn't have time for repairs now, he turned to the three humans at his pedes. "Where are the rest of you? We have to get moving now. The ground bridge won't stay open for long."

"Ground bridge?" the man repeated, having no idea what a ground bridge was.

"Way to go, Doc bot! You got the ground bridge working!" cheered Miko. She glanced towards the vortex only for a look of confusion to cross her face. "Is it supposed to be that colour?"

The usual blue-green poral was flecked with tinges of red, accompanied by a low rattle not usually heard from the vortex.

Ratchet sighed. "It's unstable, hence our need to move now."

"Is it safe?" asked Vince giving the ground bridge a rather worrisome look.

"It won't be if you don't get through it now," growled the medic.

"Bee, lift me up," commanded Miko, beckoning him closer. He bent down and offered her his hand, which she climbed onto. Putting her fingers in her mouth she gave a shrill whistle. "Yo! People! If you wanna live you need to get through the glowing portal over here. It might make you a bit sick when you go through it but it's a whole lot better than staying around here to become chew toys for the Decepticons."

Slowly the humans started to trickle out of the forest. From her position on Bumblebee's hand, Miko watched the freed captives head into the ground bridge. Many were too tired to give the vortex more than a concerned glance, the promise of safety more important than the frightful science fiction looking portal. Vince and the ex-marine guided the people through the ground bridge, urging them to hurry up, while Ratchet and Bumblebee kept an optic out for more Decepticons. She knew Agent Fowler and Nurse Darby would be on the other side of the ground bridge, ready to accept the newcomers, and probably help most of them find a place to sit down until the vibrating of their bones and the motion sickness of their first ground bridge trip wore off.

As the remaining humans dwindled, Ratchet contacted the other Autobots. "We're almost done. Get to my coordinates immediately."

:: Sure thing, Doc. I think the Con's have had enough of us by now anyway, :: replied Wheeljack.

"My name's not Doc!" Ratchet yelled into the comm link.

:: See you soon, Sunshine, :: teased the Wrecker before shutting it off the connection. It was way too fun to rile up the crotchety old bot.

The orange and white medic fumed, clenching his fists, fury bleeding off his frame and frightening the last of the humans through the ground bridge. "I'm going to tear off his wheels and shove them down his throat," the mech hissed through clenched teeth.

Wisely Bumblebee didn't make a sound. He knew better than to mess with an angry medic. Instead, he returned Miko to the ground, thinking she'd follow the other humans into the ground bridge. She didn't. She stood by his pedes, gaze turned towards the sounds of fighting.

The mech whined her name, not that she understood, but she grasped the concept.

"I'm waiting for Bulkhead. I won't leave without my partner," she said, her eyes. not leaving the forest from where she expected her guardian to appear.

He nodded and went back to watching for the three mechs himself. He hoped they would be quick. The ground bridge wouldn't stay open much longer and Ratchet said he wasn't sure he would be able to reopen it a second time.


Having just received the message from Ratchet, Wheeljack smirked behind his battle mask. Slicing through the vehicon he watched it drop to the ground and turned to Knock Out. The vain medic whirled the energon prod in his hand as he realised he might actually have to participate in this fight. Oh well, he had been starting to get bored anyway.

"You really wanna mess with me, Con?" Wheeljack crossed his swords in front of himself.

Knock Out's optics narrowed as he took on a battle stance. "Not the first time I've dealt with a Wrecker."

"Might be your last. You're nothing without that big lug that followed you around." Wheeljack could tell he'd hit a raw spot when the Decepticon medic stance tensed, his scowl deepening. "Whatever, happened to him anyway? Couldn't handle your selfishness, was that it?" he goaded the vain mech. He really should be going but they did need a distraction before they made a run for it. Bulkhead was thick in a battle with two insecticons, while Smokescreen held off two vehicons. Three of the vehicons which had arrived lay dead, two by Wheeljack's swords and one by the rookie's blaster.

:: Jackie? Any time now, :: Bulkhead said through the comm link. He was anxious to get back to Miko and leave the rotten Cons behind.

The Wrecker ignored him for the moment, focusing on his opponent. "I bet he just didn't want to hang out anymore. Couldn't stand to be around your air of pompous, superiority complex, needing to buff out every little scratch. I would be surprised if he was finally tired to being your lackey and-"

He didn't get to finish before Knock Out let out an animalistic roar and raced towards him, energon prod raised. Wheeljack smirked, easily deflecting the attack. Pure rage shone from his opponent's red optics. Good. That meant he was no longer thinking.

Wheeljack deflected another stab, using it to get closer to his opponent. He landed a powerful kick to Knock Out midsection, flinging backwards, right into an insecticon.

"We're rolling out boys," Wheeljack called happily to his comrades, slipping his swords into place on his back.

"Finally," grunted Bulkhead, smashing a wrecking ball into the second insecticon's face. While it reeled from the attack, he turned and ran. His large frame dodged through the forest to where the ground bridge stood, having rescued the humans.

"Sorry we can't stay," Smokescreen teasingly apologised to the vehicons, dodging their blaster fire, "But I've got somewhere to be." He fired a final shot before he joined his teammates in a retreat.

Wheeljack retracted his battle mask to smirk at the young upstart. "What took so long, kid? For a sec I wondered if we were gonna leave you behind."

"What? Me? Never! You should know I had it all under control," the rookie smirked as they dodged blaster fire almost as much as they dodged trees

Through the forest they saw Ratchet and Bumblebee standing beside their exit. The vortex was no longer the familiar blue green it usually was. Flashes of red and orange flickered through its surface, earning worried glances from its creator. It would not last long. He could only hope that it would hold long enough for them to get back to base.

"About time you arrived," he grouched, giving them a final look and disappearing into the ground bridge.

"A ray of sunshine as always," grinned Wheeljack.

Bulkhead frowned, glancing behind him at the approaching Decepticons. "Let's just get in there before it closes."

Bumblebee whirred for them to hurry up, making sure to point down at Miko before he too retreated into the ground bridge.

The green Wrecker, glanced down at his charge, scooping her up. "Miko, why aren't you in there already?"

The girl smirked, "And leave my big guy behind? No way! Us Wreckers have to stick together."

He sighed but wasn't able to hide the smile that tugged at his lips. You never could tell her what to do anyway.

"See ya, Cons!" Smokescreen called back to Knock Out, the remaining Decepticons.

Bulkhead and Wheeljack stepped through the portal, and the rookie let out a final shout as he jumped towards it. "Maybe next time, fellas!"

Mid leap the ground bridge blinked out of existence. His cheeky grin vanished and he crashed to the ground. The young rookie let out a groan, not appreciating the twigs, leaves and dirt now buried under his armour.

"Couldn't you guys have waited just a second more?" he groaned.

Two pedes stepped into his view and he looked up. Knock Out was grinning down at him with a hunger in his optics. "What were you saying about 'next time'?"

"Oh, scrap…"