Ratchet allowed the femme and sparklings to sleep undisturbed until the next day to make sure they were well rested and fully charged. Although, when Ratchet came into his med bay early that morning he didn't find the femme awake. Instead, he was met with a bunch of highly alert and energetic sparklings. He groaned at seeing the tiny bots climbing around on the tables and medical equipment. He spoke softly into his com link for the others to come and help him while grabbing hold of the nearest sparkling, which was about to take a tumble off the medical table. His optics quickly scanned over the room, taking in a mental count of the small bots to make sure all of them were accounted for.
"Optimus!" Ratchet yelled as quietly as possible into his com link, his temper growing thin.
"What's wrong, Ratchet?" Optimus stood in the doorway. Prowl and Bulkhead appeared behind him.
"'Bout time you came in here. I need help gatherin' up these sparklings. The whole bunch of 'em is running loose. Wait, look out Bulkhead, one's gettin' away!" Ratchet pointed at the small bot that ran past Bulkhead's huge feet and ran squealing out of the room.
When Sari finally woke up, she found herself looking into a glowing pair of light blue optics that hovered a few inches over her face. It startled the girl at first, but a smile soon appeared on her lips when she saw that the peering optics belonged to the green and purple baby bot she had healed the day before. At seeing Sari finally wake up, the little robot happily made unusual noises and moved and flapped the little antennae-like flaps on his head.
"Where'd he go?"
"I thought for sure he came down this way."
The familiar voices of Bulkhead and Prowl were heard just down the hall. Sari smiled and shook her head before reaching to lift the sparkling off her and setting him down on her bed.
"I'm not even gonna ask how you got away from them." she said, reaching for her clothes. The little bot curiously eyed the girl as she dressed herself and made up her bed. Sari grabbed up one of her stuffed teddy bears and placed it beside the bot while she finished tucking her sheets. At first, the sparkling jumped at seeing the strange object but then proceeded to investigate. He grabbed the bear's nose and gave it a squeeze before breaking out in amused squealing. He ran tiny fingers over every inch of the stuffed animal, at times smacking it as if he expected it to move or fight back. Sari giggled as she continued to watch.
"Do you have a name?" Sari suddenly asked. The sparkling looked up at her as if not understanding the question. "Name—do you have a name?" she asked again.
"Pi," the little robot began, turning to the teddy bear beside him and smiling. He placed one of his hands on the bear's nose and squeaked. "Piper!" he clapped his hands excitedly and squealed. He turned a smiling, beaming face to Sari before repeating his name again.
"Piper," Sari smiled. She reached and picked up Piper, holding him like one would hold a newborn baby. She prepared to leave the room, but a short, piercing wail from Piper made her stop. The sparkling stretched his arms out at full length towards the teddy bear still setting on the bed. Not saying a word, Sari smiled, turned back around and picked the bear up and handed it to Piper. The little robot gladly accepted it with both hands and clutched it tightly to his small body.
"Did you find him?" Sari heard Optimus Prime say to Bulkhead and Prowl as she approached the common room doorway.
"No, we didn't." Prowl answered. "We looked in every room but Sari's and didn't find any trace of him."
"Sooooo, guys," Sari said cheerfully, holding Piper up for everyone to see, "Did you lose something?"
Piper squeaked happily while holding his teddy bear up the same way Sari was holding him.
"He was in my room, on top of me." she answered before Optimus could get the question out. Optimus just shook his head in an exasperated manner.
All optics and eyes turned toward Ratchet, who had just entered the room. Behind him walked the light blue femme. She shyly looked around at the many shocked faces that stood near her. A slight smile formed on her lips as Ratchet showed her to one of the chairs and helped her to sit.
"This is Windstreaker," Ratchet gestured towards the female. Everyone smiled and offered her a warm greeting. "Windstreaker, allow me to introduce you to: Bumblebee, Bulkhead, Prowl, Optimus Prime, and Sari."
Windstreaker said nothing as her optics followed Ratchet's hand around to each bot and the young human girl.
"I'm very pleased to meet you… Windstreaker." said Optimus, stepping closer.
"Likewise," Windstreaker finally spoke in a dainty, quiet voice. "I—I want to thank you—all of you—for rescuing me and the sparklings yesterday. I honestly don't know what we would have done if you hadn't."
"Don't mention it." Ratchet smiled.
"Windstreaker," Optimus leaned down on one knee next to the femme, "Do you feel up to answering some questions?"
"What happened to make you get into an escape pod with a bunch of sparklings and crash here on earth?"
Windstreaker nervously looked around at everyone as if she wasn't sure she could trust them before turning her gaze back to Optimus. "It—it's kind of a long story."
"We're ready to listen."
"Well, my mate and I were scientists back on Cybertron. We were sent to explore a nearby planet to study and bring back samples of whatever organic plant life could be found there. My mate, Starwhisperer, was the captain of our little ship and the most wonderful father to our son, Piper." Windstreaker pointed to the green and purple bot in Sari's arms. "When we finally landed on the planet, we were taken by surprise and ambushed by a group of Decepticons almost immediately. Apparently they were using the planet to secretly build up their armies. Starwhisperer tried fighting them off so that we could get away, but it was no use. They were too strong and too powerful. The Decepticons took our ship away from us and held us captive for days. What we soon discovered is they were also holding other Autobots captive as well—mainly femmes and sparklings, and a handful of soldiers. During our captivity, we grew to know them very well."
"What happened next?" said Optimus.
"Starwhisperer and I both agreed that we had to get out of there and take the others with us. Our only hope would be to break out and make a run for our ship. The soldiers agreed to obey any orders Starwhisperer gave them. So we came up with a plan—a couple of the soldiers would create some kind of diversion to attract the Decepticons while Starwhisperer and I led the femmes and sparklings to our ship, of which we found out was stationed not too far from where they were holding us captive. It seemed flawless at the time, but we soon discovered that it was going to be a rough ride. We made it to the ship and took off but the Decepticons were fast on our tail before we knew it. Our ship had weapons but it wasn't enough to fend off the Decepticon's war ships, which are ten times more powerful than a simple exploration vessel.
"We tried fighting them with everything we had. But suddenly, in the middle of our escape and battle, we came across one of those space bridges and it brought us here. It looked like we were safe, but the Decepticons apparently followed us through the bridge and came out behind us. They boarded our ship and the soldiers tried to protect us, but it wasn't enough." Windstreaker put her face in her hands. "Part of our plan was that if all attempts failed to protect the ship, we were to put the sparklings in an escape pod and send it toward the nearest planet so at least their lives would be saved. As we had thought, it did come to that part of the plan. The other femmes and I carried the sparklings to the pod docking bay. Before I knew what was happening, the other femmes had locked me in the pod while they fended off any Decepticons that dared to set foot near us. And there I was, floating out in space in the pod, headed for the nearest planet."
"So why is there a problem?" Optimus asked.
"When the pod left our ship, I thought everything was going to be okay—I thought that the others would escape capture somehow and go into hiding until we could reunite. But then, right before my eyes, the ship exploded for some unknown reason. There was no trace of it left except for pieces of metal."
A horrified gasp filled the room and Windstreaker broke out in tears. Optimus put his hand on the female bot's shoulder.
"It was horrible—all of them gone, right before my eyes. There was nothing I could do about it. Nothing! I feel guilty that I'm even alive. I should have been on that ship along with them—along with Starwhisperer."
"Wind—" Optimus began, but Windstreaker roughly pushed his hand away.
"Leave me alone!" she sobbed in grief. Optimus lowered his head and pulled himself away from the female. Windstreaker cried a few minutes before getting up and disappearing out of the room, toward the medical bay. Sari quietly followed while carrying Piper in her arms.
After Windstreaker left the room, the Autobots gathered together privately to talk over the current situation. Neither of them knew what to say for a time as they stared silently at each other. Optimus was the first to break the silence.
"We've got to think of some way to get Windstreaker and the sparklings off earth."
"Why not just let them stay here?" Bumblebee suggested.
Optimus shook his head. "It's too dangerous—for them, for us, and the rest of the people who live on this planet. It's obvious that there is a new group of Decepticons here somewhere. I know they didn't just give up after shooting the pod down."
"Prime's right," Ratchet broke in, "We need to get Windstreaker and the protoforms off here as soon as possible. There's no tellin' where those Decepticons landed, but I have a feelin' it won't be long until they show themselves. We have enough problems as it is with trying to protect the Allspark fragments and the organics. We don't need a female bot and babies to look after too."
"Besides, we haven't even focused on the main issue," Optimus grimly said.
"What issue is that?" Prowl turned to face the Autobot leader.
"Windstreaker is the only survivor of that small ship, besides the sparklings, meaning she's the only one who knows the whereabouts of the planet where the Decepticons are secretly regrouping their armies. She's holding valuable information and doesn't even realize it yet. If the Decepticons ever find out that she's still alive, she could be in more danger than any of us could possibly imagine."
"She's valuable to both sides." Ratchet breathed. Optimus nodded.
"B-but what about the new Decepticons?" said Bumblebee.
"We can handle them when they decide to show themselves. Right now we need to get Windstreaker and the sparklings off this planet as soon as possible so they can go somewhere safe and away from this part of the galaxy."
"And just how are we going to go about doing this?" Ratchet crossed his arms over his chest.
Optimus thought a moment before answering. "Is there a way we can repair the escape pod and turn it into a regular ship? It's a long shot, but at least it'll get them to where they need to go."
Ratchet shrugged his shoulders and thought. "It might be possible."
"We might just discover that we can repair something other than space bridges!" Bulkhead smiled.
"If it doesn't turn into a disaster," Ratchet frowned.
"Then it's settled." said Optimus. "We'll take a trip to the island this afternoon and begin work. The sooner we get started the better."