Chapter One

Bengal Tiger

Royal Bengal tigers were majestic creatures, kings in their own right. They were all extremely powerful and stealthy hunters. They possessed a feline grace that was unattainable by any other species and moved with ease in their home environment, aided by their coats, which helped them camouflage in the leaves and trees. Males were the fierce hunters while the females were the equally fierce protectors.

However, one fact rang true for all of them. When viewed from safe distance, the tigers appeared docile, and the cubs appeared cuddly. Their calm appearances lured the unwary traveler. If provoked on the other hand, the traveler risked getting his or her face ripped off by several-inch long sharp claws.

Danger was always covered with kindness.

That was true with the woman before him now.

U.S. Secretary of Defense John Keller laced his fingers together and stared in contemplative silence at the scowling woman on the other side of the oak desk. She had just finished a rant about inappropriate use of government funding and something random about ex-Sector-Seven agent Reginald Simmons. As long as Keller could remember, this woman and Simmons had been mortal enemies, something that involved an extremely old grudge.

Of course, that did not make his job any easier.

The prominent U.S. Air Force Brigadier general in the room glared at him when she received only a blank look from him. "You did not catch one word of that did you?" she snarled, placing a fist on the top of the desk.

Keller sighed and unlaced his fingers. "I'm sorry General Stanton. It's just been a long week that's all," he said, meeting her ice-blue eyes. No need to tell her about the Autobots he thought.

"Ah, yes… the terrorist-attack on Mission City. No one has yet claimed responsibility for that…" Stanton murmured, pacing slightly in front of him now. "Damn fighters knocked at least half my squadron out… definitely an inside job… probably somehow Simmons in revenge… wouldn't put it past him…"

Keller watched her pace. If he mentioned who the real culprit was, chances were that she would personally hunt them down in vengeance and then there would be hell to pay.

Hell that could easily be avoided.

"So what brings you to Washington D.C?" he asked, attempting to divert the conversation away from Mission City.

His attempt half-worked. "Funeral services for Captain Thompson and Lieutenant Rochester. The other dead have been sent home due to personal request," she said, picking up her gloves. "Thompson and Rochester were two damn good pilots." She hesitated, and then said, "Mr. Keller, I am in need of two data analysts for something I'm… working on."

Keller frowned. The general's last 'project' had nearly annihilated a Sector Seven base in Oroville Washington… although Keller hadn't known the significance of the location at the time. It had looked like a general had gone crazy, attacking an American town using the armed forces. Leaning forward, he asked, "Will this 'project' involve explosions?"

Stanton smiled fondly at the memory. "We would have succeeded if we didn't have faulty intelligence and Simmons would be ancient history," she said. Glancing at Keller and seeing his expression, she said quickly, "Although it is a good thing it failed and nobody died." She faced the door and Keller heard her mutter, "That would have been too much damn paperwork to fill out afterwards anyway."

Keller narrowed his eyes. He would have to keep an eye on this rivalry between Stanton and Simmons. Stanton, he knew, was smart and disciplined enough to know when to stop, but Simmons had the potential to be uncontrollable and therefore deadly to the American public. He was the one who usually carried things a little too far, too far sometimes.

"What about the data analysts?" the general asked, turning to face Keller again. "They are essential to the planned operation."

Keller nodded. He knew which two analysts to send, and which one to entrust a little spying work to, just so he could keep a tight leash on the general if necessary. He didn't trust the other analyst very much… it had been a hassle to change his authorization codes so he could be sure that there wasn't any under-the-table hacking going on. "I'll have the analysts ready for you before you head back the Southwest. Just check in before you leave Washington," he said, leaning back in the chair.

General Stanton saluted in a crisp manner, straightening her posture. He dismissed her with a wave of the hand, and she turned on her heel and promptly left the room, closing the door with an audible click.

Keller groaned and put his face into his hands. Only the President and the immediate members of the Cabinet were aware of the Autobots' existence and it would have to stay that way. He would also have to make sure that Sector Seven didn't attempt to regroup… although he could probably rely on Stanton to do that. He would have to make sure nobody else inadvertently harassed the Autobots. He had assured the Autobots that their privacy and natural rights were protected under the Constitution and Declaration, and that definitely meant no experiments by any curious scientists.

He sighed. It had been a long week.


A/N: Disclaimer: Transformers and all related media belong to their proper owners. Any OCs belong to me.