On their side of the shield Arcee, Chromia and Moonracer transformed to their motorcycle form and raced along the length of the shield knowing that it couldn't go forever. Optimus saw them go, but couldn't tear his eyes away Tera and Sideswipe. He had to do something to help!
"We can't just stand here and watch!" Ironhide yelled in frustration, voicing Optimus' own thoughts.
"I am perfectly open to any suggestion that you may have, old friend." Optimus answered him, his voice came out as a growl of suppressed anger. What had she been thinking? Why was she taking this risk?
Ratchet stepped forward, "Sideswipe looks terrible" he said with a head shake. "The sooner this is over, the sooner he is going to get the medical attention he needs."
"We will get to him as soon as we can, what about Lennox? That wound to his head looks bad." Optimus's voice sounded grave.
"Tera would be better at healing the human, my chief concern is Sideswipe." Ratchet declared.
"I can't just stand here and watch this!" Ironhide charged the shield, but couldn't get through; it was like trying to move in jello. All he accomplished was getting pushed back to his own side, unharmed. He looked the direction the motorcycles had gone, then transformed and headed the opposite way, hugging the shield.
Optimus watched him go, but couldn't pull himself away from Tera, if this was the only way that he could support her, so be it, he would give her whatever support he could, and be here if she needed him. He just hoped it was enough.
Tera aimed at the bubble of power she had formed behind Starscream, and released the power arrow as she ran towards Lennox. Before the arrow struck its target she threw a shield around Sideswipe as protection from the starburst of fire that began raining down on that half of the clearing after the arrow hit the power bubble. The raining fire did its trick of confusing the Decepticons enough to give her a head start.
She jumped over the outstretched arm of one of the Decepticons as he reached for her, and kept running. Lennox was pounding on his shield, saw her heading for her and tried to wave her off. Tera kept running, her mind focused on one thing; getting to him. It didn't matter if he hated her; all that mattered was that he was in danger, he was injured and he needed her. She still loved him; maybe what she did now wouldn't change anything, all she knew was that she had to try.
She heard the loud whine of an engine and looked up in time to see the sisters transform in mid air and launch themselves into battle with the Decepticon that had held Lennox. Tera growled in frustration, obviously her shield hadn't been as long as she had intended. There was no time to dwell on what her shield did or didn't do, she had to focus on the here and now, and now Starscream was directly in her path. She dropped to one knee and notched another power arrow as she aimed at Starscream. He raised a cannoned arm and smiled at her as he fired. Arrow and cannon attack collided in between their two targets and the blast blew Tera backwards several yards. She landed in an uncoordinated clump on the ground in front of the shield directly in front of Optimus.
"Tera drop the shield! Let me help you!" Optimus yelled to her.
Tera shook her head, trying to clear her vision. Behind her she could heard Ironhide taunting another of the Decepticons. Her shield had failed to protect them. With a moan she reached out to the shield, intending to reabsorb the power in it and accept Optimus' help, but a large metal foot stomped in her way.
"That was not very nice little Queen." Starscream sneered down to her.
Fear crept into Tera's heart as she stared up at Starscream. Laying on her back looking up at him she felt tiny, and vulnerable, doubt that she had ever been capable of taking him on alone clouded her vision, making him look larger then life. She pushed herself along the ground, backing away from him, and from her shield. If she could drop it, Optimus could make quick work of Starscream. Why had she thought she had to do this on her own? Why had she deviated from the plan?
"I wondered how hard it would be to capture you. I never knew it would be this easy." Starscream continued from above her. Taking a step forward as she continued to back away. "You made it so easy for me, by providing protection from Prime, I really should thank you. It will be so nice to have all that power that you posses to bend to my will."
A silver triangular blade was suddenly stuck in Starscream's shoulder. The Decepticon staggered back several steps and stared in disbelief at the blade protruding from him.
"Now Tera!" Sideswipe yelled from behind her. "Get to Optimus!"
It took Tera's brain a few seconds to register; a quick glance at Sideswipe confirmed that he had thrown the blade. The wounded Autobot motioned for her to reach the shield. Tera scrambled to her feet and sprinted. All she needed to do was touch it, and it would reabsorb into her power crystal. Fingers outstretched she reached for it; her fingertips were nearly to it when she took a hit to her right side as the third Decepticon that had been with Starscream attacked her. Tera rolled with the momentum from the Decepticon and reached with her still good left arm for the shield. Warm healing power was already flowing to the right side of her body. Her fingertips connected and the shield dissolved.
Cannon at the ready Optimus charged for the Decepticon that now loomed over Tera.
Starscream wrenched the blade from his shoulder and threw it to the ground in frustration. His left arm wasn't responding as it should, at least his wing wasn't damaged he thought to himself. Nothing had gone as he had hoped, he had assumed that the queen would back down from any fight, that's how the rest of her kind had behaved, except for the first queen he had dealt with so long ago. Now looking around he could see the Decepticon far to his right barely holding his own against the three smaller Autobots. The Decepticon far to his left was struggling badly with the large black Autobot. The bright yellow medical bot ran right by Starscream and headed for the Autobot that had been his prisoner.
Optimus was making quick work of the Decepticon that had nearly had the little queen. The queen! Where was she! Looking around, he searched for the small blue alien among the carnage. He spotted her on her way to the human, and in her path…Deadset may be useful after all, Starscream thought with a grin.
Tera struggled to get far enough away from the Decepticon to allow Optimus freedom of movement without worrying about squishing her. Several near misses and a long jump had her back on the path to Will. Just as Tera thought she could get to him, the last of the Decepticons stepped in her way.
Deadset stepped forward, fighting blades at the ready. Tera staggered several steps before coming to a halt. The Autobots were all engaged in their own fights, she was alone. Before fear could creep back in Sideswipe's words came back to her, 'You think about what you can control, and you let the rest go.' Squaring her shoulders she absorbed the power bow, and created twin blades.
The world seemed to slow down, the background noises of cannons firing, and her friends fighting, faded. The only thing in her world that seemed real was the large purple tinted Decepticon before her.
Deadset made the first move, slicing for Tera's feet, she leapt over the blade, and nearly sliced her own head off when his other blade came close, Tera dodged backward and regained her footing. The Decepticon completed his spin and faced her again, his left blade rose to the level or her heart. With a sneer, the Decepticon laughed at her, "your playing with the big boys now, little Queen, better keep your head."
Tera swallowed hard, to many thoughts attacked her, were the others all right? Was Sideswipe getting the help he needed, if only she could get to Will! She was so caught up in her thoughts that Tera nearly missed that Deadset was charging again, this time with both blades forward. It took her brain to long register, and she was only able to scramble to one side tripping over her feet, but missed being run through by the Decepticons baldes.
"Dam it Tera! Focus! Think of his moves and your moves only!"
She hit the ground hard and rolled to her feet. Tera shook her head, she must have hit harder then she thought if she was hearing voices.
Tera barely had time to glance upward and react before Deadset was on her; she took the blunt side of his blade to her stomach and flew backwards several yards landing hard on her back. Air rushed out of her lungs, and she gasped for a breath. Her lungs burned and her back ached from the fall. Healing heat flooded her body as Deadset reached her, the flat side of one blade pinning her to the ground, the other raised for a head shot, "you are mine now little Queen." Deadset declared with a wicked smile, his face just inches from hers.
Pinned Tera glanced widely around, and saw Sideswipe, struggling to stand in spite of Ratchet trying to keep him on the ground. "Tera!" the silver Autobot yelled.
Her shield pulsed in time with her heartbeat from the weight that Deadset was putting on it, Tera couldn't feel the load, just the immobility it caused. Sideswipe, Tera knew his voice better then anyone else's from this world, he was the one who had coached her. He knew what to do. Her eyes locked on the Autobot so close yet so far from her. Blue optics met dark blue eyes, and Tera knew what the Autobot would do.
Taking a deep breath despite of the burning from her lungs, Tera gathered power and used it to shove the Decepticon. Deadset was already off balance because of the angle he was leaning down at, so a hard shove at the right spot had him summer saluting off of her. Tera's blades were held before her at the ready as she rose to her feet. Deadset glared at her and spit out a mouthful of sod. "Foolish queen, this is no fight! I was trained by the best, you cannot beat me."
She ignored him, and listened to Sideswipe's advice from that night that felt so long ago, 'think about what you can control. You're breathing, your muscle tension, your blades and balance.' Tera took a deep breath, it hurt a little, a fast healing was fine for the moment, but later she would have to check herself. She forced her muscles to relax, to remain fluid and movable. Her blades gleamed a steady pale blue in the night. Her balance was never wonderful, so Tera made sure her feat were planted far enough apart to allow for sudden movements.
"Good Tera, now study him, which way is he leaning! He will telegraph his moves to you if you pay attention!" Sideswipe coached from behind her.
"Shut up, this fight is between the Queen and I!" Deadset bellowed to Sideswipe.
Not waiting for him to attack this time, Tera charged, right blade leading, left blade low. Deadset was about the same height as Sideswipe, but she had never advanced to actually attacking in their practice. The only reference she had was when she had watched Sideswipe and Ironhide spar that one weekend. She expected him to dodge to the left away from her, so she spun with him as she passed, slicing along the midsection with her left blade. It was a hit, but a minor one.
Deadset dropped to a knee and kicked out with one of his legs as she struck his stomach. In a fluid motion Tera absorbed the swords power and launched herself in a dive over the Decepticon's leg, she hit the ground and summersault rolled to her knees. For the first time since the battle started Tera had an unobstructed view of Lennox where he was trapped in the energy dome. Her eyes locked on the humans and her focus slipped. Lennox stared back at her, mouth slightly open as if he were going to yell something to her; before he could speak he doubled over with a wracking cough. Tera's fingertips tingled with healing energy, and her throat felt swollen with emotion. At the end of the cough, Lennox spat blood on the ground before looking back to Tera. The look in his eyes as when they focused on Tera was apologetic.
"Tera focus!" Sideswipe yelled from behind her.
Still on her knees, Tera tore her eyes away from Lennox; she could feel the air above her grow heavy, her only warning of the imminent attack. She rolled hard to her right several lengths, toward the tree line, stopping long enough to catch a glimpse of Deadset pursuing her, his blades held high for an attack. Tera used power to push her to her feet mid roll, and spun to face him, a new pair of blades gleamed in her hands.
"Good Tera, now watch his body, look for subtle motions!"
"Sideswipe if you don't sit still, I will sit on you!" Ratchet yelled to his unruly patient.
She weighed her options for a moment, then turn and ran towards the nearest tree. She leapt as far up the tree as she could, using power to balance herself she pushed off from the tree and spun mid air to meet Deadset's charge. The Decepticon had a split second to recognize the attack, and defend it. The blade in Tera's left hand made it past his block and stuck in his shoulder.
She let go of the blade in her left hand, leaving it in the Decepticon, and dropped to her feet. Tera created a new blade and held both of them up in time to block Deadset's one-handed attack, his right arm hung useless at his side. Tera faked to her right and spun to her left, slicing out with both blades, she took out Deadset's right leg and the Decepticon fell hard to the ground.
"Good Tera! Now don't hesitate!" Sideswipe called.
Tera turned back to her fallen opponent who was glaring at her, and paused. Her opponent was a monster, but she couldn't help but wonder if he could change, if part of him was good still.
"If you don't kill me little Queen, I can promise you I will do my best to kill you." Deadset challenged as Tera approached him. Both her blades pointing towards the fallen Decepticon.
"Second chances are possible for every creature under the stars." Tera kept both swords pointed at him, her muscles tense as she approached him.
"Decepticons don't believe in second chanced, or mercy for that matter!" Deadset swung out at the blue alien with his still good left arm.
Tera blocked the attack easily, and jumped a step back. Deadset used the momentum from the attack to roll to his side, his hand changed to a blaster and aimed at Sideswipe and Ratchet.
What she wouldn't do for herself, she would do for others. Tera didn't think, just reacted, with her friends in danger, she attacked. Deadset never saw the kill blow coming, one moment he was taking aim at the Autobots, the next twin blue blades of power were coming out of his chest where his spark chamber was. The Decepticon had enough energy to look to his wounded chest, before falling dead to the ground.
Ironhide had once told Sideswipe that it was far harder to watch a fight when it was someone you loved and had trained, then it was to be the one in the fight. Sideswipe had never had the experience before, had never had a student before. But watching Tera fight had been by far the most terrifying thing he had ever had to do. And being helpless hadn't helped his disposition. Now seeing his young friend standing over the corpse of her first kill he felt a pang of regret. She would never again be innocent, would never be able to take back that moment. Her kind was peace loving, not hardened in battle like his had become.
For one moment Tera's eyes locked on Sideswipe's and he felt all his fears dissolve like the blades of power she reabsorbed into herself. Tera was a Queen. Born and bred to protect her people. She had been protecting himself and Ratchet, no matter what else was going through her mind at that moment, he knew that she knew her actions were more then justified. She was stronger, more mature after her first fight. Ready to lead and protect those she loved.
Pride filled Sideswipe as he regarded Tera from across the battlefield. A kind of pride he had never felt before. Her eyes stared into him, and he knew that in that moment she knew how much he loved her, and how proud he was of her. Slowly, she nodded to him, a salute to her teacher and friend. Emotion filled the Autobot as he nodded back. Tera gave him the ghost of a smile, before spinning on her heal and running toward Lennox.
Tera ran as fast as she could toward the human. Her bow of power was in her hand again, arrow notched and aimed just above Lennox's head.
"Behind you!" Lennox yelled from inside the dome of power, "behind you!"
Tera ignored him and shot her arrow, it struck the dome and shattered it, effectively freeing Lennox.
Before she could reach him, a large metal hand surrounded her, and lifted her from the ground. "Mine at last," Starscream hissed to her, his voice no longer held triumph, but a clear note of desperation.
Her bow of power vanished and she forced her body around so that she could see Starscream. He held her up close to his face, as if he were surveying his prize. "Your ancestors were smarter then you little Queen, and stronger then you could dream of. You resemble the last Queen that I dealt with, but lack her fire." He squeezed Tera a little, and she moaned in pain, "That last queen should have remembered that I promised her that her line would fail, and I intend to keep that promise, by killing you. After the Fallen is done with you that is."
"The last Queen didn't have me as her friend," Optimus said as his energon sword rested on Starscream's shoulder. The Decepticon he had been fighting lay dead several yards away.
"No, she is mine!" Starscream yelled as he tried to back away.
"Not the wisest move," Chromia said from behind him, all three of the motorcycles had their weapons trained on Starscream's back.
Behind Optimus, Ironhide had his cannons trained on the last surviving Decepticon.
Starscream narrowed his eyes and he surveyed his chances. "You want her? Catch her!" With a flick of his wrist he launched Tera skyward, while the Autobots moved to track her trajectory Starscream transformed to his F-22 form and flew as fast as he could not caring where he went as long as it was away.
The eerie sensation of being weightless, while not in space cleared Tera's mind. She saw everything from a height that she hadn't expected. The Decepticon that the sister's had torn to small pieces lay far ahead of Optimus. Ironhide had made a hole in the Decepticon he had been fighting large enough for her to stand up in. Sideswipe lay on the ground with Ratchet hovering over him. A liquid sounding cough pulled her attention to the human far below her, Will.
A large, gentle hand closed carefully around her, and the strong feeling that she was safe at last filled her. Tera looked up in to Optimus Primes worried face and smiled. Her throat closed with to many emotions, it seemed her native form was becoming as emotional as her human one. Tera had the bizarre feeling of drowning in emotions, relief that she was safe, gratitude to Optimus and the others for saving her, gratitude to Ratchet that he would be able to fix Sideswipe, and relief that her guardian was safe again.
The multitude of emotions forced her throat closed. Tera closed her eyes for a moment and thanked the Stars, that all had turned out well. When she looked up again she found it impossible to express in words what she felt. She hugged the only part of the large Autobot that she could, his thumb. Tera didn't know how to say all that she wanted to. After a moment she looked up and knew that he understood. Optimus dropped his face shield and studied the small alien. She could see the worry lines dissolve from his metal features and were slowly replaced by a gentle serenity.
Optimus worked his mouth a few times before being able to say, "I am just glad you are safe."
The liquid cough sounded again from far below them. Without needing to be asked, Optimus lowered her to the ground. Tera ran for the human, changing to her human form as her strides shortened to accommodate human leg length. Lennox watched in disbelief as she approached him.
No awkward moment for Tera, no doubts about her feelings. She threw herself into Lennox's arms and held on as if her life depended on it. Her left hand fisted in his hair pulling him closer, her right leg wrapped around his body. Contact was all that was required for her healing powers to flow into him, and contact was all she wanted. She needed the flesh-to-flesh reassurance that he was alive and healing. Her lips found his, no gentle child exploring her first kiss this time; she had grown and matured more in the past week then any other point in her life. As their lips moved in a dance of emotions Tera was able to see his memories, see what he had been through. Through Lennox's eye she could see what he had when the hologram of himself had broken her heart, she could feel his emotions, taste his regrets.
Healing heat flowed between them, the gash on Lennox's forehead knit back together, the blood poisoning from the wound that had caused the cough, and fever, was cleansed by Tera's power.
Lennox broke the kiss, "I'm sorry, I didn't do or say any of tha-"
Tera kissed him again, needing the contact, needing him. Behind her she could hear the Autobots speaking in low voices about where to discard the Decepticon parts. That wasn't her concern, the only thing she wanted for this moment was Will.
"Tera," Lennox whispered, then he trailed kisses from her jaw to her ear, "I'm sorry." He whispered in her ear.
The liquid in his lungs was gone each breath came easier, the gash was healed, the crusted blood covered new pink skin. Tera leaned back, the healing complete, she regarded her patient and saw the human who had taught her what love was. "I know it wasn't you, I know everything."
"Just like that?" Lennox asked.
Tera looked up into his brown eyes and felt a part of her melt, "just like that." She answered the question in his eyes, not the one he had spoken aloud. It took all of Tera's will to turn away from Lennox, but she did. Squeezing her eyes closed for few seconds to stop the tears from falling, Tera walked away from him.
Ratchet looked up at Tera as she approached where he knelt by Sideswipe. Ratchet already had the energon leak in Sideswipe's chest patched, and his hip joint back in place. She gave the medical officer a brief smile, then turned her attention to her guardian. Before she could tell him how sorry she was, Sideswipe shook his head, "It was not just my duty to protect you, it was an honor."
Her throat closed with emotions, "the honor, was mine my friend" she said in a whisper. She had told him about every dream she had about the old Queen, now she told him about the last. No worlds needed to be spoken between them, just simple contact. Tera placed a hand on the Autobot and showed him her dream. She had done this before when they were alone but this time was different. She didn't stop with just the dream; Tera showed him her emotions, how much she had come to love him. And how much she was going to miss him when she went home.
Sideswipe regarded his small friend with a nod, "when?" his voice sounded rough with emotions.
"I was warned that if I stay here to long, hope for my world would die with me. Its already hard enough to leave." Tera said. Keeping her hand on his arm Tera began slowly passing power into him, replacing the lost energy and furthering the healing that Ratchet had started.
Optimus approached her from behind and knelt by Sideswipe, Ratchet took a few steps back to give them privacy. Behind them, Tera could hear Lennox apologizing to Ironhide.
"Tera, you must do what heart tells you is right." Optimus said looking down on her.
A nod was her only answer.
"Being a great leader is not simply protecting those you love, its being big enough to realize when you need help, and asking for it." Optimus told her.
Tera looked up at him, the great Optimus Prime, her friend. She took the crystal from her neck, and held it out to him. "There is enough energy stored in the crystal to keep all of you with power for tens of thousands of years." She used power to float the crystal up to Optimus. "Please take it and keep it safe. It will act as a beacon to my kind, they will know whoever holds this crystal is a friend and ally."
Optimus held his hand out and nodded as he accepted the crystal. "I will keep it safe, and any of your kind that are drawn to it."
"If any come, tell them that home is being rebuilt. And that we will have our place back among the stars." Tera closed her eyes for a moment, hoping that what she said would soon be true, "thank you, for everything." She looked down from his large face and found Lennox staring at her.
"Just like that?" Lennox said as he approached them, "you're leaving?"
Tera blinked back the tears again as the human approached her. She could see a future here; a happy life, Will and her were compatible enough biologically to have children. She didn't know how, but she knew that for sure. For the briefest moment she allowed herself to picture those children and that life, just a moment to savor what could have been. "I have to go, my world needs me."
"I need you." Will said, his voice barley above a whisper.
Tera took a step towards him, "you have everything you need here, family, friends." Slowly she laced her fingers with his, "I want that, I want that for my kind." Slowly she changed from human to her native form. As her true self she stood nearly two feet above Lennox. It made her smile that he didn't take a step away from her, or let go of her hand.
"Tera…" Will breathed; his eyes were moist from tears.
Sideswipe cleared his throat, still holding Will's hand, Tera turned to face him. "You will always have a place here, family here." Sideswipe declared.
Tera stepped away from Will long enough to kiss Sideswipe's cheek, then she stepped back. "Thank you, all of you, for everything. I have learned more then I can say. If you ever need a safe haven among the stars, we would welcome you like family." Tera tapped one of the jewels on the bracelet that she always wore; her ship arrived within moments in response.
"Give my love to Sam, and Mikaela, and Judy and Ron. And tell Bumblebee thank you and that I will miss him." Tera's voice sounded thicker then usual as her emotions began to slip the leash.
"We will tell them that you fought bravely, and wisely, and that you have gone to give you kind a very special gift, the gift of a second chance." Optimus assured her.
She forced herself to look at each of them one last time. Chromia stood next to Ironhide, one hand on his bulky forearm, and the other rose in a sign farewell. Arcee and Moonracer stood next to one another, both waving a hand in farewell. Ratchet stepped closer to Sideswipe and placed a friendly hand on the silver bots shoulder, offering silent support. Sideswipe, her guardian and friend, she memorized every aspect of his face, forcing the tears to stay at bay a moment longer so they wouldn't blur her vision. Looking up she stared at Optimus Prime, her teacher, and friend. He was a truly great leader, much loved by those who he commanded; she sent a small prayer to the stars that she could one day be like him. She would never forget his words of wisdom he had offered her, or the kindness he had shone to a lone alien who had been lost among the stars in need of a safe haven, and friends.
Last her eyes fell on Will, and she nearly lost the willpower to return home. Her eyes searched his face, making a mental image to carry in her heart. For the briefest of moments she saw what her life could be again, she saw her children with Will, a boy and a girl, both with brown hair and blue eyes playing happily with the Autobots. She saw herself as an old human with silver hair that matched Sideswipe. She saw Will as an old man, and could feel his arms around her, his lips moving with her own. Tera closed her eyes and savored what life could have been. Then opened them again, blinking away the tears.
With a last smile to her friends, Tera turned to her ship and began the journey home to rebuild. To no longer be an alien on a foreign world, but to return home and break the Decepticon's promise.