Disclaimer: Transformers © Hasbro, Paramount, and Dreamworks. All unrecognizable characters © mine.

chapter one

The military transport van shot down the highway at an alarming speed, preceded by two police cruisers with flashing lights and wailing sirens. The highway had been closed down for them, facilitating movement in an otherwise crowded city. Usually no one made this good of time in Washington DC. Inside the transport were what had suddenly become the six most important people in the USA, all of them Marines and longtime associates.

On one side of the transport sat a thirty year old woman with blond hair and blue eyes known as Ashley Stringer. To her left was Irishman David O'Connell, and to his left was the New Yorker Brian Jones. On the other side sat a young black man named Michael Epps. To his right was a slightly older Asian man identified as Kim Sing; to his right a young woman with her father's dark hair and her mother's blue eyes. This was the leader of the group, not the oldest or the most experienced, but the most determined. She was a natural soldier, but that was to be expected with her background.

She was Marine Lieutenant Annabelle Lennox.

None of the soldiers were armed, and all were dressed in regular street clothes. Out of all of them, Stringer was the best dressed, having been summoned from a date with her fiancée. All were nervous.

Epps, as usual, was the one to break the tension.

"Man, I wish I had a smoke."

Anna laughed. "I'm surprised your dad didn't beat that habit out of you." she teased.

Epps grinned at her. "Hey, in this profession, I doubt I'll live long enough to die of lung cancer." he pointed out. "'Sides, who was the one who snuck off base to buy me smokes in basic? I seem to remember that being you, Lennox."

Sing laughed. "Yes, I seem to remember covering her butt too when she almost got caught." he joined in the good-natured heckling.

"Oh, shut up." Anna shot back with a grin. "Just remember who outranks you. Oh, wait – that would be me."

"And we only pay attention to that in polite company." Stringer teased from her safe position on the other side of the transport. "I don't think we're doing escort duty this time."

"Yeah – maybe we'll see some real action." Jones said, speaking up for the first time. "We haven't actually gotten deployed since we first got out of basic."

"You haven't." Anna pointed out. "They called me off of leave for this, so it better be good."

"They're taking us to the Pentagon." O'Connell said, and suddenly the group went serious. "I believe we are to be briefed by the SecDef."

Jones made a face. "Great. That means we're probably being brought into something top secret. Then we'll be erased, so we'll make perfect little secret soldiers."

"You know, you picked a bad profession if you're paranoid of the government." Epps pointed out.

Anna smiled to herself, but didn't say anything. Her father had told her stories about Mission City when she was a child. She had never met any of their new allies in person, but she knew all about them. If Epps' father had told him half the stories her father had told her, he knew about them as well. Jones would freak out if he knew that the government really did have huge secrets, and emphasis on 'huge'.

The transport finally came to a halt in front of the Pentagon. A second later the doors to the transport opened and a man in a black suit stood there watching them. Anna made a face. Beside her, Epps starting humming music from Men in Black. Sing snickered under his breath.

The Secret Service agent didn't say anything about it. "Follow me, please."

Anna got out first, tailed closely by Epps, Stringer, Sing, O'Connell, and Jones. They were tense, unarmed, and very, very twitchy. If they had been armed, it probably wouldn't have taken much to set off a firefight. The deeper into the Pentagon they were lead, the worse their nervousness got.

They were finally lead into a conference room, and the group relaxed a bit at the sight. The SecDef Keller was there, as was anticipated, but so was retired Army captain Will Lennox with a slight smirk on his face. It made Anna feel better to know her father knew what was going on. Epps caught her eye and winked at her as they lined up in front of the SecDef.

"You know who we are." Keller said as soon as the SS agent left the room. "Now you need to know why you're here.

"At 0500 yesterday morning, a small city in South Africa was attacked. It doesn't sound like much, but the method of attack caught the attention of our Intelligence agents." He looked them over. Sing looked like he desperately wanted to make some smart remark, but was biting his tongue. The rest were watching him with expectant looks. An attack in South Africa of all places wasn't their problem, under normal circumstances. Keller continued. "The method matched what happened to our base in Qatar 25 years ago."

Eyes flickered over towards Anna and then snapped back to the SecDef. What happened to the base in Qatar was a prelude to what happened to Mission City. Taking a breath, Keller continued. "We are sending you to South Africa. You are to find those responsible for the attack and kill them."

Anna's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Will all due respect, sir, by ourselves?" she demanded. "I know what happened to the base – it was a miracle as many as did survived. I will not lead my team on a suicide mission."

Will cut her off. "You won't be fighting this alone." he assured her. "Our allies will be waiting to meet you at the airport, which means it's your job to brief your team on the situation."

"So long as our allies don't mind a demonstration." Anna said quietly.

To her surprise, Keller rolled his eyes. "Somehow, I don't think they mind showing off." he muttered.

A brief chuckle rippled through the room. Epps glanced at Anna. "So what exactly are we going up against?" he asked.

Anna offered a tight smile. "Decepticons."

"I was afraid of that."

Sing looked at the two. "What are Decepticons?"

"I'll explain on the way." Anna glanced at the SecDef, waiting for him to dismiss her. He nodded, and she lead her group out of the room.

After the door closed, Will turned to Keller. "Man, I hope they make it to Africa." he muttered.

Keller glanced at him. "You think they won't?" he asked. "The Decepticons don't know we're coming."

"The ones in Africa don't." Will said darkly. "But you can't tell me there aren't some still stateside. They'll know as soon as word hits the computers."

"Then we'll have to make sure the Autobots that are still stateside know about the danger." Keller said with all confidence. "Don't worry, Captain. We'll take care of your daughter."

"You don't need to." Will said, a proud smile crossing his face. "Anna can take care of herself."