Prowl approached Major Lennox where he stood in the communications center. "Where's Ironhide?"

The human shrugged. "I haven't seen him since Chromia said she wanted to chat with him for a minute."

"And how long ago was that?"

Lennox's brow furrowed. Prowl sounded almost…annoyed. Of course, Prowl didn't like anything that added unnecessary chaos to life, but he hadn't seemed overly-worried about the new arrivals fitting in with the other Autobots when they showed up last night. Wheeljack was nice enough, and Chromia was another no-nonsense fembot like her sister Arcee. Will couldn't understand why the Autobot seemed put out. "I'm not sure. Maybe ten minutes ago. Why? Can't you just…"

Prowl's optics narrowed as he sharply looked north-west, toward the Autobot hangar's open door. "He's not responding to internal comm and I can't find him or Chromia anywhere on the base. They both are, as you humans term it, AWOL."

"That's not like Ironhide."

"Oh yes it is," Ratchet grumbled as he joined Prowl, obviously catching the last part of the conversation. "If Chromia's anywhere in the vicinity, it is. Prime and Arcee are on their way," the medic added.

"Major Lennox," one of the humans on monitor duty called out. "Massive Cybertronian energy reading on the north west corner of the island, sector – "

Lennox, who moved to look over the man's shoulder at the monitor, swore under his breath. The blip was less than a quarter mile from his house. "Mobilize! We're under attack!"

"Belay that," Optimus Prime ordered as he and Jolt helped a limping Arcee to Ratchet's side.

"Are you injured?" Prowl asked the femme.

"None of your slagging business," she growled, rubbing the center of her chassis armor-plates like they hurt.

"Confidential medical condition," Ratchet translated. "Exacerbated by the recent radiation spike."

She slugged his shoulder, but he took it in uncharacteristic silence.

"But Optimus," Lennox ranted in a panic, "there are Decepticons on the beach!"

"Two Autobot warriors are already in the area," he calmly answered. "I'm certain they can take care of that energy signature all by themselves." Then he turned his worried optics on the femme who was irritably allowing Ratchet to help her to the med-bay.

The man at the monitor said, "But sir, by the strength of these readings, there must be at least a dozen Decepticons…"

"Odd readings, aren't they," Ratchet said as a parting shot before disappearing into the med bay with Arcee, "all staying together in one spot like that."

"Another combiner?" Lennox asked, his terror growing.

"In a manner of speaking," Jolt muttered, rolling his optics.

Prowl shook his head, looking at the screen. "No, that's where our truant Weapons Specialist and his mate are."

Every single human in the room froze at that revelation. "Mate?" Epps repeated in disbelief.


"As in…mate?"

"As in, if you look, the frequency and intensity of those readings indicate unshielded spark energy that is decidedly not Decepticon in nature."

Lennox looked back at the screen, feeling a little queasy. Mating...unshielded sparks... Was that the same as them being naked? GAH! Not wanting to really contemplate whatever it was his best friend was doing just then, Will said, "That's right next to my place, and Sarah and Annabelle are both home. Are you sure there aren't any Decepticons in the area?"

"Positive," Optimus answered, sounding vaguely embarrassed. "I recognize that energy signature."

Lennox sighed, defeated. "Then cease monitoring that sector until…" How long would alien robots go at it? They could do battle for days.

"I'll have them in the brig shortly," Prowl supplied. "I'll notify you when I do."

"You're not going down there right now, are you?" Epps asked, incredulous. Ironhide had been on Earth for eight years now, and it didn't take a genius to figure out what his reaction would be to an interruption.

"This is Chromia we're talking about," the second-in-command answered over his shoulder. "And she's not been with her mate in ten thousand years. I'm not suicidal."

"As you were," Lennox said to his fellow humans, thinking, 'And here Prime had been all panicked that Wheeljack would catch the NEST humans by surprise.' Not once in Prowl's four-hour briefing that morning had anyone mentioned mates. Powerpoints of Wheeljack's more notable explosions, yes, but nothing about mates! As far as Lennox had known, Chromia was another cool-and-professional fembot like Arcee – no trouble there. Hah!

And what was with Arcee? Was Ratchet's explanation technobabble for she hadn't gotten any in a while?

For seven years, she was the only femme on the base and not a single indiscretion. Only now did Lennox appreciate how much he owed her. Seven years without once having to report that his subordinates were triggering every alarm on the base by having sex on the beach. He only hoped that Chromia didn't inspire Arcee to start causing trouble with the mechs. That blue femme was already trouble enough. And he really hoped that Ratchet's treatment for Arcee's condition wasn't what he thought it was.

Chromia showed up and suddenly the NEST Autobots devolved into some kind of sex-happy adolescent soap opera. And he had to be the one to explain it all to General Morshower!

Lennox glared at Prime's retreating back. Surreptitiously pulling out his cell phone, he texted, //u o me//

His phone vibrated in his hand with Optimus' text reply. //I do. My apologies for alarming you. They will give you advance notification in the future.//

// FUTURE?! how often do they CHAT?// Will.

// How often do you and your mate?// Optimus.

//headdesk NOT looking 4ward 2 writing this report// Will.

Optimus Prime stumbled, making every eye and optic in the hangar glance his way, and he coughed slightly. //I don't envy you.//