Okay, so this is my first official dive into the world of Transformer's fanfiction and I hope you all enjoy it. I know this is a weird idea for this fandom but I swear it works. This chapter's human-heavy just because I have to introduce everyone. All the characters introduced in this chapter are the main pilots and I challenge all you readers to figure out who goes with which Autobot. It's really fairly straight forward; I think you should be able to figure it out. And don't worry Decepticon lovers, Megatron and the Seekers will be in here, just not right away. We have to get some fun background stuff out of the way first.

Disclaimer: All robot characters belong to HasTak and I lay no claim on them whatsoever, though the majority of the humans are mine and you can't have them. Enjoy!

Eliza looked up at the pristine white building from the tinted windows of the limo's back seat in awe. She had never been outside of the orphanage before. This building was about the same size but newer, as it had been built after the war, and it exuded a sense of authority and power, though she couldn't say why. It was an ordinary building like any other, though the high metal fence surrounding it was suitably intimidating.

As the car pulled up she saw a crowd of a few dozen teenagers standing outside the gates, all wearing visitor's passes like her. So this was her competition. A few months ago The Regime had issued a test worldwide—or maybe that was nationwide, but then they were the same thing now—offering a scholarship to the Tranquility Military Academy. The school accepted only the most elite applicants and the tuition was outrageous. In truth she didn't really want to be there, but she had scored high enough to be a finalist and there was no way to decline. Besides, it was probably the only chance she would ever get to improve her station. An orphan didn't have many options.

The car stopped and the man in the back seat with her, who had been unnervingly quiet, got out and held the door open for her. She took a deep breath and stepped out into the open air, trying her best not to appear nervous or overwhelmed. The man nodded to her and then got back into the car, which promptly left. She swallowed as he left and her mouth went dry.

She had never been good with strangers, part of the reason she had never been adopted. Every time a couple would come to look at her she would shy away and become too tongue-tied to even talk to them. Now in the crowd she experienced the familiar anxiety of having so many strangers around her and clenched her fists to keep her arms from shaking. All of them were here for the same reason as her and it unnerved her. She tried to push back the feelings of self doubt and turned to stare up at the building again, trying to pinpoint where the strange feeling she was getting from it was coming from.

She stood out there with the others for another twenty minutes while half a dozen more cars pulled up to dispose half a dozen more finalists on the pavement before the closed gates leading to the school. As they waited many of the finalists began to talk amongst themselves. Eliza stayed at the edge of the crowd to avoid socializing, but listened in on the conversations.

"This is where they keep them right?"

"Yeah, and this is where the pilots come from."

"There's eight, right?"

"Yeah, and they're all kids from the school."

"No. Not all of them. I heard one was a teacher."

"You know what I heard? I heard this whole test is to find a new pilot!"

"What? Really?!"

"A pilot? For which one? Are there any left?"

"I don't know. I think there's a bunch left actually."

Eliza listened with only half an idea of what they were talking about. The schooling she had received at the orphanage was minimal at best and hardly covered history or current events. They preferred to shield the children as best they could from the harsh realities of the world.

She frowned. By "pilots" she assumed they meant the pilots for the NBE Robotic Fighting Units that The Regime had won the war with. They were supposedly alien robotic beings from outer space that had been discovered nearly a hundred years ago and were rebuilt and reprogrammed during the war to be controlled by human pilots. If she remembered the bits of rumors she had heard right, The Regime still controlled a few of them but another group had been lost to the black market shortly after the war. One of them was supposed to be a new pilot? But why? If what they said was true and the children at this academy became pilots, then why not use one of them?

She was still pondering these questions when the gates swung slowly opened and she looked up to see two people come out to greet them. One was tall and handsome, a young twenty-something man with bright hazel eyes and sandy hair. The girl beside him looked a year or so older than Eliza. She stood straight and proud with piercing blue eyes and blond hair pulled back in a tight and orderly braid. Her uniform was neatly pressed and she had a strict, no nonsense attitude.

"Welcome," the man said with a wide grin. "Welcome, all you lucky finalists, to the Tranquility Military Academy. My name is Dr. Jacobs and one of you might have the privilege of gracing my biology class at the end of all of this." His greeting was met with cheers and clapping. Only Eliza remained quiet, thinking again of pilots. The girl beside him glanced at him and cleared her throat. He jumped, as though having forgot she was there.

"Oh, ah, and this is Miss Amelia Platt. She is somewhat of a…uh…student president, I suppose," Dr. Jacobs introduced awkwardly. Eliza wondered at the odd hesitation in his introduction but didn't have time to dwell on it too much as the girl stepped forward and fixed them all with a steely glare that dared someone to try something.

"There will be no talking. Follow me," she said curtly. Jacobs gave her a nudge with his elbow and a look when she would have turned around. The girl glared at him and then appeared to hold back a sigh. "Congratulations on getting this far," she added through gritted teeth. Jacobs smiled and winked at the group before turning to follow as Amelia lead the way to the academy's front doors.

The group of candidates followed their chaperones up the academy's massive front steps to the large front doors over which hung a Latin phrase that no doubt meant something about peace and prosperity but Amelia interrupted and swept them along when Jacobs tried to explain it. The entrance hall appeared like something out of a castle and it was from there that their tour began.

Most of it was a blur to Eliza. Amelia strutted down the hall with determined purpose, turning once in a while to glare at someone in the crowd who dared to whisper. Jacobs on the other hand fell back into the crowd itself and became the chief cause of most of the whispers as he attempted to hurriedly point out the many classrooms they passed.

She wasn't sure how much time had passed when suddenly there was a deafening boom from a classroom further down the seemingly endless hall they were currently touring. A door flung opened and coughing students tripped over each other to get out as black smoke billowed into the hallway.

"Louis," Jacobs sighed, shaking his head, and Eliza jumped to find he had fallen in step beside her at the back of the crowd. He began to make his way through the crowd to the front once more and Eliza followed out of curiosity. When they got to the front he hurried forward and Eliza hung back, just a few steps behind an impatient Amelia.

The teacher went forward to a coughing child a bit removed from the others and who seemed to be the target of many accusing glares. Black soot covered his front but Eliza could still make out the shock of red hair. He was currently trying to wipe the black smears off his glasses.

"Louis, how many times have I told you?" Jacobs demanded, checking the boy for injuries.

"It was an experiment," the boy replied, replacing his semi-clean glasses.

Jacobs fixed him with a stern look and would have said something else but Amelia cleared her throat and interrupted him. He glanced at her and then back at the boy.

"I want to see you in my office later, understood?" he said sternly.

"Yes, sir," Louis replied sheepishly.

"Sorry about that," Jacobs said when he rejoined the group. Amelia huffed and turned them down an adjacent hallway. Eliza lingered for a moment, still staring at the soot covered boy, before reclaiming her place at the back of the group.

They hadn't gone far when Amelia stopped before a seemingly random door.

"If your visitor's pass has a number between one and ten you are to go in this room now," she instructed icily. Jacobs nudged her and she added an emotionless "Please," as she opened the door.

As a group everyone looked down at the visitor's passes pinned to their shirts. Eliza was number 30. The first ten detached from the group and entered the room as instructed and without another word Amelia closed the door and started down the hallway again. The group glanced at each other and then at the door in confusion but slowly followed when Jacobs gave them a reassuring smile.

They passed more hallways and staircases, all a blur of tile and marble. Two hours slipped away like this before they found themselves in the entrance hall again.

"Numbers 11 through 20 come with me now, please," Amelia instructed them, straining the "please" with a pointed look at Jacobs.

"The rest of you come with me," Jacobs invited with a wide, friendly smile. His group looked decidedly happier as the remaining finalists parted ways.

"I bet you're all hungry, right?" Jacobs asked with a grin. Some of the remaining ten finalists nodded eagerly while others mainly grinned. Eliza remained impassive and tried to hide the sound of her growling stomach.

"Well, aren't you the lucky ones? We have time to get some lunch before…well, before the tour's over," he announced as he led them through a set of tall doors and into a large cafeteria that Eliza thought was bigger than her whole orphanage was. She didn't miss when he hesitated in his explanation again, but hunger won out over curiosity and she quickly followed the others to get in line for a free meal.

A girl about her age and a younger boy joined the line behind her. She tried to pretend like she didn't notice when they both looked at her and the other finalists curiously. The girl had brown pigtails and freckles and warm brown eyes. The boy shared her eyes and freckles, his own brown hair an unruly mop on his head.

"Are you one of them?" the boy finally asked. She looked at him in surprise and felt her terrible shyness swallow her up like it always did.

"O-one of who?" she asked, feeling her mouth go dry.

"Tommy!" the girl reprimanded, hitting him lightly on the head. The boy gave an indignant cry and reached up to feel his head but the girl ignored him and turned to Eliza. "Hello. I'm Isabelle, but you can call me Izzy. And this is my tactless brother, Tommy."

She just looked at them for a moment before whispering, "I'm Eliza."

"So are you one of them?" Tommy asked again eagerly, earning him another reprimanding smack to the head.

"What my brother is trying so skillfully to find out is if you're one of the candidates for the Model Zero," Izzy explained with a friendly smile.

"Model Zero?" Eliza asked, remembering the rumors the other finalists had been discussing. Brother and sister exchanged looks.

"They didn't tell you?" Izzy asked with frown.

"Tell me what?" she asked curiously. She didn't receive an answer, however, for at that moment the hall exploded in noise. Eliza jumped in surprise and turned just in time to have something sticky and moist hit her in the face and slide down her front.

"NICK! JASON!" Izzy screamed, leaving the line and stalking over to two boys. Eliza wiped the sticky substance off her face, Tommy attempting to help with napkins, and saw Izzy yelling at the same boy standing side by side. No, not the same boy, twins, she realized as she blinked crumbs and goo from her eyes. The twins shared dark brown hair and forest green eyes, identical mischievous smirks decorating both their faces.

"Maybe you should go clean up in the bathroom," Tommy suggested. She looked down at herself and nodded, barely catching his directions to the bathroom.

In the bathroom she did her best to wash what appeared to be some kind of pie out of her hair and got most of it off her face, though her baggy sweater was hopelessly stained. A red blotch spread across her chest and she frowned at her reflection. Finally deciding there was nothing else she could do she sighed and left the bathroom, only to discover that she had no idea where she was.

Tommy's directions had completely fled her mind. She looked down the deserted hallways, none of which offered her a clue as to where to go. Panic and nerves began to overcome her and she looked down the barren hallways more anxiously. Just as she was about to start shouting down the hall, however, a new sound made her stop.

Light and melodious music filled the air. At first it was nothing but light scales, but soon it had become a quick, uplifting rhythm that she knew must have taken great skill to produce. Mesmerized, she followed the sound down one of the empty hallways. The melody carried her steps forward until she suddenly found herself in front of the room where the music was coming from.

She stepped up to the door and peered in the window in amazement. A boy a bit older than her was standing in the middle of the room playing expertly on a violin. He swayed in place, fingers flying over the strings while broken hairs floated through the air from his sawing bow. She watched opened mouth as he waltzed around the room to the music he created and she found herself swaying in place as well, compelled to move by the beautiful song.

Then he turned and caught sight of her and abruptly the music stopped. Eliza gasped and ducked down below the window, crouching against the door. She nearly fell over when the door opened and she looked up sheepishly to see him staring down at her. He had long black hair, almost too long for a boy, and eyes so dark brown they appeared black as well. She swallowed nervously.

"Hello? Can I help you?" he asked, titling his head and smiling a bit. His violin was tucked under one arm and he twirled the bow absently in his hand. She stood up slowly, noticing that he was still about a head taller than her even when she stood at her full height.

"Um…I'm kind of…lost," she explained nervously. He frowned for a moment and then smiled when he caught sight of her stained visitor's pass.

"Ah. I see now. I forgot that was today," he said with a friendly smile. "Lost your group then, did you?" She nodded slowly and he smiled even wider, extending his free hand for her to shake. "Well I'm Aaron."

"E-Eliza," she replied, shaking his hand stiffly.

"Did you enjoy the performance?" he smirked, proffering his violin.

"Yes, very much," she said sincerely, smiling before she realized what she had said and quickly backtracked. "I-I mean…I didn't mean to be spying on you or anything…I just, I heard it down the hall and—" she cut off awkwardly as he began to laugh.

"It's alright. I don't mind," he assured her. "Now, let's get you back to your group. You weren't with Amelia were you?" She shook her head.

"No…a man…Jacobs, I think his name was." Aaron nodded and she continued. "We were in the cafeteria and I got caught in the middle of a food fight," she explained, gesturing to the stain on her front. For some reason she felt her shyness slipping away. He was very easy to talk to.

"Don't tell me, let me guess. The twins started it, right? Brown hair, green eyes, devil horns?" She laughed and nodded as he began to lead her down the hallway. "Well then it's a good thing Amelia wasn't there, good for them I mean." She laughed again. As they continued down the hallway she mulled over everything that had happened today.

"Can I ask you a question?" she asked hesitantly, silently amazed that she was carrying on such a lengthy conversation with this stranger.

"Well you just did, but sure. What do you wanna know?" he smirked down at her.

"Could you tell me…what's a Model Zero?"

He paused and looked at her, his face serious now. She fidgeted awkwardly under his gaze, wondering if she should have asked that. Finally he sighed.

"I never did agree with their decision not to tell you," he said, shaking his head. "It isn't right to bring you all here without letting you know what you're in store for." Fear settled in the pit of her stomach.

"What do you mean?" she asked, her voice a nervous whisper. He opened his mouth to answer but didn't get the chance.

"There you are." They both turned to see Jacobs standing at the end of the hallway somehow managing to look both annoyed and relieved. Eliza stuttered to explain but Aaron beat her to it.

"I found your little lost ducking and treated her to a concert. I was just on my way to return her, Doc," he smiled, winking at Eliza. Jacobs' frown deepened but then disappeared with a sigh.

"Well I'm glad you found her," he said finally. "Now let's go. The others have already gone. You're the only one left," he said a bit more sternly to Eliza.

"Sorry," she said quietly as he turned to go back down the hall and she hurried to follow him. She looked back at Aaron who smiled and gave her a thumbs up. She returned the gesture. For the first time that day she really hoped she was the one who got to stay.

Jacobs led her down yet another set of maze-like halls. This time, however, they arrived at a large elevator that seemed somehow removed from the rest of the school. As they stepped inside she felt the same odd, powerful feeling she had felt outside while looking up at the building. The feeling grew as they began to move down.

The elevator reached its destination and they stepped out to find a pair of huge metal doors. Jacobs ran a keycard over a sensor and they slid opened with slow force. She blinked in the bright light and followed him dumbly as he started inside. Something huge loomed in a corner of the room though her eyes hadn't adjusted enough yet for her to make it out. A few adults were standing around a computer console in the middle of the room. Amelia stood next to them looking very impatient. She opened her mouth, presumably to scold Eliza, but Jacobs held up a hand to stop her.

"Ready?" he asked the men around the computer. They looked like scientists. All of them nodded and mumbled affirmatives. Amelia folded her arms and began to tap her foot, looking more impatient than ever.

Eliza's slow mind took in the room in pieces. She saw the computers and the thick wires snaking across the floor to them. She followed the wires slowly with her eyes and saw they draped over something huge and blue…a massive foot. The foot led to a leg which led to a torso, the wires originating from an opened section in the chest that housed what looked like an airplane cockpit. Her eyes crept further upward and took in two giant arms and wide, broad shoulders. An enormous blue head, the lower half covered by a metal mask, sat stoically atop the strong shoulders. She felt her legs go weak. The rumors were true.

"—need you to get in the cockpit," Jacobs was saying. She shook her head and looked at him as though he'd grown another head.

"What?" she asked slowly as though just waking from a dream. Jacobs sighed, seeing she hadn't been paying attention.

"This is the real reason you are here. We need a pilot for the Model Zero. None of the others we have tried have been compatible with him. He's a bit stubborn," he added, throwing a look at the massive robot. "You're the only one left. We need you to climb up into the cockpit so we can test your compatibility." He nodded at a cherry picker that sat before the robot, ready to hoist her up to the opened chest cavity.

She gulped and looked at him but he had put a hand on her back and was already gently propelling her towards the giant robot. Her mouth went dry and she found she couldn't even protest when the cherry picker began to rise slowly up the length of the blue and red body. All she could hope was that she would be no different than any of the others; that she would prove incompatible and they would let her leave.

He helped her move clumsily into the chair and she felt a wave of vertigo as she looked down. The scientists at the computer were all watching her anxiously while Amelia glared up at her. Eliza bit her lip and sunk further back into the seat. The feeling of power was washing over now and she could feel warmth behind her seat. A mildly annoying ringing sound assaulted her ears.

"Put your feet on those pedals and grab those levers gently. Don't push or pull anything, just let him know you're here," Jacobs explained. She moved shaking limbs as he requested, concentrating on keeping her arms and legs from jerking and hitting something on accident. The moment she successfully set her feet on the pedals and wrapped her finger around the levers the warmth radiating from behind her exploded and the strange feeling she'd had all day flooded her. The ringing rose to a high buzz that filled her head until she was deaf to everything else. Somewhere far below she saw the scientists shout excitedly and Amelia's glare darkened. Jacobs smiled at her gently. Then she passed out.