-1I don't own Transformers, but I DO own the characters mentioned here, Night Raid included.

I don't know squat about military rankings.

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The radar screen pulsed in its unending sweep, casting a green glow upon all around it, including the wide-eyed face of Private Franklin, the young soldier monitoring it. What he saw made no sense.

"Report, Private." That gruff voice belonged to the commander, a white-haired old man known to most as Colonel Zimsky.

"All our birds are homeward bound, Sir. The mission was a complete success." There was a pause. "...We sent out ten B-2's, right, Sir?"

"We did."

"Then how come I'm picking up eleven?"

Zimsky was there in an instant, staring at the radar screen. Sure enough, there were eleven B-2's where there should have been ten, all of them flying in perfect formation. "It's..."

His next words were loud and clear. "Get Mission Leader Hornsby on the line."

The radio crackled. "Hornsby reporting in."

"What's the status on our mystery bird?"

"It came outta nowhere right before we hit the target zone and fell in line right behind Whitby, pretty as you please. Participated in the mission too."

"Tell your wingmen to drop back for an ID check on your 'friend' there."

The next words weren't directed toward Zimsky. "Nelson, Diaz, drop back for an ID check on our mystery bird."

A few seconds passed and a different voice came on the line. It was fuzzy from being relayed through Hornsby's jet, but it was clear enough. "No ID number... Nothin'. ...Wait. I'm seeing a marking on the wing. Looks to be purple or black... that's why I didn't see it at first. Some kind of crown, or a face of some sort."

Zimsky stepped back. "It isn't one of ours. That means it has to be... her."

"Her, Sir?" Private Franklin asked.

The query went unheard. "Hornsby, you listen and you listen good. Deactivate all weapons and don't make any threatening moves. Just keep it cool and fly like normal. Zimsky out."

The radio went dead.

"You're new around here, son, so I don't expect you'd know this. The 459th bomb group is supposed to be the best of the best. Top dogs in all the world. That's gotten us a lot of attention from some... surprising sources."

"I was a new recruit just like you the day she came cruising in... a lone B-2 straight outta nowhere flyin' over the base. Didn't show up on radar or anything. It was like there was nothing there. It made a pass overhead, low and slow, then landed on the runway like one of our birds would. We all thought we were done for when it... transformed."

"Now, I know you know about those alien robots that showed up a while back. Transformers, we call 'em. I'm sure you also know that there's two kinds... Autobots and Decepticons. The Decepticons are the enemy."

"Well, what landed on the tarmac that day was a Decepticon." Zimsky grinned. "Damn good-lookin' one, too. You wouldn't think a species of alien robots would have or need any women, but they do. She'd have made a damn fine human, and no mistake. Said her name was Night Raid."

"She cut a deal with us that day. Said she wanted to participate in some of our missions and have free run of the skies 'round here. Just a spare-time hobby sort of thing. In return she wouldn't let on to any of her higher-ups that we've got a base here. That's the reason we've never had a Decepticon attack. We're the only base that can boast that, you know? And it's all because she kept her word. The Decepticons don't know we're here."

"So that's how it is. You're one of us now, son... You've had your first encounter with our very own Mystery Bird."