A/N: Welcome Everyone!
This marks the second episode in my "Enemy of my Enemy" series. You don't need to read my first story (Enemy of my Enemy is my Enemy) to understand this one; however, if you choose to do so, you'll better understand just how the characters all met. This story will begin seven years after the conclusion of the first and will start off a little slow, but no worries. Things will pick up quickly. Please let me know what ya think! Now onto the good stuff!
Disclaimer: Don't own transformers; people who are luckier than me do. However I do claim Lt. Col. Stinger and any other non-transformer characters.
The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend
Chapter 1: New Life, New Problems
"Damn! What a day!" Lt. Colonel Don "Stinger" Kesinger exclaimed as he made his way out to the tarmac. The dawn was just beginning to set the sky ablaze with all the colors of the spectrum. Light, fluffy clouds were quickly turning from a dingy grey, to a vibrant gold. Streaks of pink and orange blazed across the heavens as a new day was born. Close to the hangars, the veteran ex-pilot could hear the thrum of the engines as their operators prepared to engage in their morning exercises. A tiny prick of jealousy pulled on his heart as he watched the war birds slowly make their way to the flight line, the marshallers giving quick, abrupt hand gestures and salutes as the planes drove by. He missed the sky; he missed it something fierce these days. He missed the speed and the adrenaline rush of breaking Mach 2, he missed the tight turns and stomach-churning loops and the blood-draining pull of gs while in the heat of combat. And he especially missed being able to see the world as few others ever had, his favorite time being right now as the dawn breaks. He sighed heavily. It had been his life, his love, his passion to kiss the sky and play in its open arena. But not anymore.
These days, the closest he could ever hope to touch the sky was by placing his fingertips on the crystal clear glass panes of his office windows. It was the price he paid to help save the world only seven years ago. Seven years ago, he had been a young fighter jock no different than the rest of the young men in his squadron. Seven years ago, he had been flying a routine sortie to stop the Decepticons from stealing Symkeria's energy resources. But that's where the routine abruptly ended and his life, not to mention his career, changed forever. Shortly after engaging the Decepticon flight group known as the "Seekers," Stinger had been shot down by an unknown, unforeseen enemy. The attack had come from nowhere and even took the Decepticons by surprise. He had survived the crash, but had landed deep in a hostile country known as Latveria, a country about which little was known and even less of its ambitions. Shortly after being shot down, he met up with someone he least expected, the powerful Seeker known as Skywarp. He smiled at that memory. The Decepticon flyer had begrudgingly admitted to being shot down as well with no idea as to who was responsible. Finding the circumstances suspicious the two soldiers formed a shaky truce with the intention of hunting down the culprit responsible and exacting joint revenge. But it became so much more. After many trials and hair-singeing, armor charring battles the two former enemies soon became close friends and vowed to help each other escape the country. Together the two of them discovered a nefarious plot by Latveria's monarch, Dr. Doom, to take control of the world using a powerful, robotic army based off of Cybertronian technology. The only piece he needed was Skywarp's warp field generator to make his army invincible—hence why the Decepticon was shot down to begin with. But with the impromptu help from Skywarp's wingmates, the three Cons and the pilot had stopped Doom's underhanded plot and destroyed the dictator as well as his army. Unfortunately, he had been grievously injured during their last stand in Doom's castle, an injury that had shattered his left leg as well as his dreams. But humanity was safe (from Doom anyway) and he had a friendship that was unlike any other. After all, how many people could honestly say they were on a name-to-name basis with the Decepticon's Command Trine? Stinger grinned to himself; it could have been worse, a lot worse and he thanked God everyday for what he had now.
The Lieutenant Colonel set his shoulders and once again resumed his march to the hangars, greeting airmen, marines, and soldiers alike. He walked with a slight limp these days, but after seven years of recovery the deformity barely even registered.
"Good morning, sir!" an airman called cheerily.
"Good mornin' to you too, Sergeant White," Stinger returned. He prided himself on knowing almost every single face under his command. His career as far as flight was concerned was over, but his career in the Air Force was far from it. Kesinger was now the Wing Commander for the 213th Fighter Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California. The weather was agreeable to his leg and his position allowed him to at least be close to the second love of his life, the first being his beautiful wife, Carla. Yep, that's right. Shortly after, Doom's demise, the foxy, red-headed vixen left her home country of Latveria to search out the brave American who had freed her country. During his time in Latveria, then Carla Petrova had been a secret member of a resistance force that had been helping disgruntled citizens escape the country as well as to challenge Doom's authority. She had worked in the hospital that Stinger infiltrated and had even helped the pilot escape capture when his cover was blown. He never dreamed of seeing her again, but the day she showed up at his dorm-like apartment, he knew he had found the woman of his dreams. They married shortly after and Carla took to the military lifestyle with ease. She even received the rare pleasure of meeting Skywarp once when the mischievous Con dropped by for a visit after, you guessed it, an energy raid, but that had been almost two years ago.
Stinger missed that rambunctious collection of messed up navigational parts. Since the Latverian Fiasco he had only seen Warp maybe twice and his trinemates once. Officially they were still on opposite sides of the fence where protocol was concerned, but Stinger would never betray his friendship with the trio. He rubbed his right arm unconsciously. As far as the government was concerned, the Cons returning him to base was a "you-scratch-my-back-we'll scratch-yours- and-it'll-never-happen-again" affair. But under the table, he had been keeping tabs on his Seeker friends, often knowing much more than the government's cream-of-the-crop intelligence agents. It was a tricky tightwire to walk at times, often bordering on treason, but Stinger liked living on the edge and pushing envelopes, especially when he was pushing envelopes up pesky political rears!
He made his way through the hangar area, greeting a technician here, shaking hands with a brand new lieutenant there and more or less just making his presence known to his men. He wanted to be involved and he wanted his subordinates to know that he was approachable no matter the occasion. So, everyday he performed the same routine; he would walk the hangars and listen, good or bad, important or not, Stinger would listen to anyone willing to talk and it paid off. His squadron was one of the most efficient, most disciplined, and possessed the highest morale in the Force.
After mingling with his men for almost half an hour, Stinger made his way to his office located at the base's main building. His was a corner office, spacious, but sparsely furnished with a warm, simple décor and a down-to-earth atmosphere that was lacking with higher ranked officers. The ex-pilot walked slowly to the window and drew back the long, burgundy drapes allowing the morning sunshine to fill the office with warm cheer. He then took his seat at the large mahogany desk and rifled through the stack of papers left in his in-box. It was the same-old, same-old—more forms to fill, slips to sign, and reports to write. Damn! How he missed that cockpit! His life had slowed considerably since the day he had left England to return to the States. Perhaps he should retire, hang it up and return to Virginia. Pa would love to have the extra help on the farm and he could probably pick up a job in the old family machine shop. But as quickly as the thought skittered across his brain, it dissipated into a hazy fog. His place was here among his men, helping new pilots adjust, monitoring their progress and preparing them for the day that they too would taste the bitter reality that was combat. With twelve years of service behind him, it would be better to just stick it out and retire after 20. At least he and his wife would be well provided for.
His thoughts once again strayed to Skywarp and his trine. What were they up to nowadays? How were they faring? It had been almost two years since he had last seen Skywarp and even then they hadn't had much time to talk. Here in the past six months Decepticon activity had decreased drastically from levels almost a year ago. Some officials wondered if the malignant aliens were finally giving up and leaving Earth. But Stinger knew better. In the past Skywarp had always managed to slip the Lt. Colonel just enough intelligence to either get his men out of harm's way or to prepare for some sort of engagement. It was a big risk on his part and Stinger was careful to cover both of their tracks. Generally speaking, his men had only ever engaged the Decepticons twice; both times the wily pilot knew the trine had taken it easy on them. Planes marked with the 213th numeric were either shot in a non-critical area or wounded just enough to be unable to fight back. His pilots laughed and joked about how the Seekers couldn't match their skill and Stinger would laugh right along with them, but numbers never lied. His squadron had yet to have a casualty; all the others present at the raid would suffer 80 and 90 percent losses. Deep down Stinger knew it was only by the good graces of the Decepticon Air Commander that his men lived to see another battle. How much longer this game could continue, he did not know; he only thanked God after each battle for sparing his boys' lives.
But here in the past six months, Skywarp's intelligence flow had ebbed with the activity and it seemed the Cons had slipped off the radar. It made Stinger nervous where other men were relieved. It raised his guard, while others lowered theirs and being an officer midway up the totem pole meant his words and feelings didn't amount to a pile of horse manure. It was the same old vicious cycle. Once again he focused his thoughts on the paperwork before him and resignedly picked up his pen to get to work.
It was almost five in the evening (1700 for all you military buffs) when Stinger finished his office work for the day and was getting ready to lock up for the night. Preparing to stand-up he paused as if hit by a sudden remembrance. The colonel sat back down and slowly opened the middle pencil drawer of his desk. To a normal observer it was just another drawer filled with pens, pencils, leads, and other office affects, but a trained eye could tell a difference. Stinger slid his hand into the back of the drawer and gently pressed down. The front floor of the drawer popped up, allowing the ex-pilot to slide his fingertips underneath. He raised the floor and slipped his free hand into the hidden compartment and withdrew a tiny piece of shaped metal.
He rolled the tiny piece across his palm and studied the intricate detailing. It was roughly triangular in shape and bore the Decepticon shield with a double chevron in the background. It was actually a tracking beacon as well as a passport of sorts. Skywarp had given the piece to him as a parting gift back in England. If activated the beacon would signal the trine of his whereabouts; it would also discourage any other Decepticons from messing with him should the need arise, which he hoped it wouldn't. It brought back a wave of fresh memories.
He slipped the beacon into a hidden pocket and prepared to leave once more. Suddenly his telephone rang, the sound loud and shrill in the stillness of the evening. "Now who in the hell could be calling this time of day?" the Lt. Colonel grumbled to himself. He sat his briefcase down on the floor and reached for the receiver.
"Lt. Colonel Kesinger."
"Kesinger? As in Don Kesinger?" an irritating, nasally voice queried. Stinger frowned; he wasn't much of a rank stickler, but when dealing with people he didn't know he'd like for them to address him properly.
"Yes, this is Lt. Colonel Don Kesinger. With whom am I speaking?"
"Oh, well yes, yes. My name is Larry Sarver, the representative for Laura Kline."
Laura Kline? Why did that name sound vaguely familiar? "What can I help you with, Mr. Sarver?" Stinger inquired, barely withholding the impatience in his voice. Carla would have dinner ready soon and he promised he wouldn't be late this evening.
"Well, Mr. Kesinger, as I've said, I am Laura Kline's representative and I'm calling to arrange a time and place for pickup."
"Pickup?" Kesinger repeated. What in the hell do I need to pickup from this asshole who represents someone I don't even know? "Pickup of what?" he asked genuinely puzzled.
"Why your daughter, of course."
The phone line was silent for a brief moment. "You mean, you didn't know?"
"What in the hell are you talking about!? What do you mean I didn't know!? What's there to know? Is this some sort of a prank, 'cause if it is, by St. Peter, I'll have your head for this!"
"Wha-Wha-Wait one moment, Mr. Kesinger…"
"It's Lieutenant Colonel Kesinger, Sarver."
"Oh, yes, well, uh Lt. Colonel, uh sir, you mean to tell me you weren't aware that you had a daughter?"
"Hell no, I didn't know I had a daughter! What kind of sick joke is this!?"
"Oh, it's no joke, sir! According to Mrs. Kline's will and her daughter's birth certificate, you are the father."
"Will?" Stinger repeated again.
"Uh, yes, will. Mrs. Kline regrettably passed away in a car accident two days ago. An intoxicated driver T-boned her vehicle…Terrible, terrible thing, Mr. er uh, Lt. Colonel, sir. But I can see how this comes as a shock to you…"
You have no idea. "Uh, Mr. Sarver, you have to be mistaken. I don't know any Laura Kline and I would think I would know if I had a daughter or not. I think you're mistaking me for someone else."
"No, no. I believe you are the right person…" There was the sound of shuffling papers on the other end. "Oh, let's see here…Yes here we are: Born October 4, 1975 to Mr. Edward Kesinger and Mrs. Katherine Kesinger in Roanoke, VA, entered service in the US Air Force in 1997, you…"
"All right! All right! Yes, that's me! I get the picture. But what does all this have to do with Laura Kline?"
"Well, sir, uh, how about we meet tomorrow afternoon? I'll bring Maria and we can sit and discuss this over lunch, there on your base, Edwards isn't it?"
"Marvelous! Marvelous! I'll see you tomorrow at your office about two then. Good evening, Mr. Kesinger."
Slowly, Stinger placed the receiver back in the cradle and pinched the bridge of his nose in defeat. "I hate Mondays, almost as much as I hate lawyers," he grumbled before picking up his briefcase and slamming the door shut.
Stinger only lived a short distance from his office on base. His rank afforded him and his wife a comfortable house to live in, close to all the base necessities that they'd ever need. Besides, he liked the exercise; it kept him from getting fat and lazy in his "old age." But this evening, he didn't take any time to savor the short, scenic walk back to his home. Stinger's mind was in a flurry of activity. He all but ran up the steps of his small and quaint two story house, opening and closing the door with just a little more force than necessary. He left his briefcase by the door and rushed to the kitchen, the most likely place he would find Carla.
Sure enough she was leaning over the oven, removing a large pan of freshly baked bread. Her head turned up to look at him, a bright smile flashing across her face. She quickly set the bread off to the side and stood up to meet her husband.
"Stinger? You're just in time!" she greeted cheerily, however her smile faded as she saw the taunt expression on his face.
"What is wrong?" she asked, her Latverian dialect lightly accenting her words. She pulled a few stray locks of auburn hair behind her ear and her vibrant, blue eyes showed her concern. He held her upper arms lightly and gave a labored sigh. Oh, boy. Here goes nothin'.
"Uh, Carla, there's something important I need to tell you," he scratched his scalp anxiously. "Here, let's sit down," he pulled a couple of chairs out from the kitchen table for himself and Carla. They sat down holding each other's hands, her waiting patiently for him to begin and him trying to find the right words to say. Finally, he settled on the simplest course of action.
"Carla, you know I'm not one to sugar coat things, so I'm gonna come right out and say it," he inhaled deeply before continuing. "Today at the office, I received a phone call…from a lawyer. He told me me…he told me I had a daughter."
The kitchen grew quiet. On the wall in the living room, a hand carved German cuckoo clock slowly ticked the minutes; a car passed by on the street and in the distance children were laughing as they played a game in a nearby yard. The smell of freshly baked bread filled the house with goodness, although no one had much of an appetite for eating just now.
"A…a daughter?" Carla whispered slowly, her blue eyes filled with puzzlement. "I do not understand."
"Huh! Neither do I, honey. I honestly had no clue about this whatsoever and for what it's worth I'm sorry. I really am."
"Who is the girl's mother?" Carla asked; her expression did not betray any emotion whatsoever. Her blue eyes bored steadily into his grey ones. It made Stinger shift uncomfortably. His wife was one of the few people he had trouble reading when they were deep in thought.
"The lawyer said her name was Laura Kline; I really don't remember having met anyone with that name, but I guess we'll find out. The lawyer, Sarver, said she was recently killed in a car accident. They're coming tomorrow around two. I…I'm sorry, Carla! I didn't know…"
"Ssshhh." Carla replied, pressing a finger to his lips. Her thin lips turned up into a small smile and her blue eyes twinkled with endearment. "You do not need to explain yourself. All will be revealed tomorrow. Is this child coming to stay with us?"
"Yeah, I think so," Stinger replied. He was grateful that Carla didn't seem too upset over this new development; she was a cool thinker under pressure anyway. She had to have been while working for the Luptãtorii de Libertate back in Latveria. It was one of the many qualities he admired in her, both then and now.
"If the girl just lost her mother, she will be in deep distress. We will prepare our spare room for her use, but first let us eat. We can discuss this much more thoroughly after our stomachs are full."
She rose from her seat and gave him a gentle kiss on the forehead before turning and finishing her preparations for dinner. Stinger sat in his chair a minute longer before rising from his seat and approaching Carla. He wrapped his muscular arms around her waist and gave her a tender kiss on the neck. "Thank you," he whispered softly into her auburn locks.
She turned and smiled at him, placing a hand behind his head. "Everything will be all right," she reassured him.
"I hope so. I really hope so."
The next morning drug by with painful slowness. Stinger went through his rounds with his men and equipment as usual, but it felt as if he were on autopilot. He made arrangements at the gatehouse to clear Sarver and his "guest" with instructions and directions to come to his office. Carla was going to meet him there about a quarter 'til two; she had already made plans to have lunch at their home once introductions were complete.
But even with his wife's support, Stinger felt a stomachful of butterflies fluttering around in his insides. Honestly, he hadn't felt this nervous since he first met Skywarp's wingmates. Now that had been nerve-wracking! It was still a surreal feeling that in less than five minutes he had gone from happily married man to a father. Him! Lt. Col. Don "Stinger" Kesinger a father! He didn't know the first thing about raising a kid! It wasn't as if they came with instruction manuals or simulators. And what of her mother? Who was she? Would his new-found daughter accept Carla? Hell, for that matter, would she accept him? These questions and more raced through his mind like a California wildfire at the head of the Santa Anita winds. So many questions, so few answers.
He checked his watch. It was almost time for Carla. He shuffled through his paperwork, not that any of it was going to get completed in his state of mind. He reached into his pocket and withdrew the tiny beacon. What would Skywarp think about this? He smiled at the thought of his friend's reaction. It would be nothing short of comical that's for sure. And that was a whole different situation in itself. If his daughter did stay with them (and it looked like there was a pretty good chance) should he tell her of Skywarp and his relationship with the Seekers? At this time, Carla was the only other one who knew of his secretive friendship. Actually it probably wasn't so much as "if" as it was "when" he should tell her. Now that he thought about it, he should probably leave it up to Warp to decide whether or not to accept her into the tiny ring of trust. As Carla had said last night, "time will reveal all."
A soft knock on his door brought him out of his reverie. "Come in," he called lightly while shoving the beacon back into his pocket. It was probably Carla. Sure enough, his assumption proved correct. She entered through the doorway and gave him a flashy smile.
"Are you ready?" she asked, walking over to meet him behind the desk.
"As I'll ever be, I reckon," he grinned in return, but his jitters only seemed to increase.
"I believe I saw them in the parking lot; they are not that far behind me," she said quietly.
"Oh, boy," he said, pulling a calloused hand through his hair. This was it. Sure enough, not five minutes later another knock on his door echoed ominously throughout his office. Instead of requesting them inside, Stinger walked up to the door and opened it himself.
A small, spindly man with round spectacles on his nose gave him a smile that would have made any salesman proud. He was dressed in a neat, high-dollar grey business suit and carried a locking briefcase in his right hand—yep, definitely the stereotypical lawyer type. By his side and just a few inches taller than the man escorting her, stood a young girl between 14 and 15, if Stinger had to hazard a guess. The ex-pilot had to stifle a gasp as his eyes met his daughter's for the first time. She was almost the spitting image of himself when he was a teenager. She had his eyes, a beautiful steely grey framed in a heart-shaped face. Her hair was the color of summer honey and her skin was a healthy, sun-kissed tan. All in all, she was quite a pretty little filly.
Stinger offered the laywer a warm smile and a handshake. "Mr. Sarver I presume," he said.
"Yes, that is me," Sarver replied, shaking Stinger's hand.
Man shakes hands as if he's made of glass; better watch this one, Stinger thought to himself. Sarver's voice cut in once more.
"And this, Mr. Kesinger, is your daughter—Maria Elizabeth Kline."
"Nice to meet you," Stinger greeted warmly offering the teenager his hand and not bothering to correct the lawyer just yet.
Her eyes iced over and she turned away from him just a bit, her dark eyebrows furrowed across her brow. She didn't take his hand, but crossed her arms defensively over her chest. "Hardly," she spat, bitterness permeating her voice.
'Oh boy, this is going to be harder than I thought, the pilot thought grimly withdrawing his hand. He swung the door wide and beckoned the guests inside. Cue his mid-life crisis.