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Chapter 7

Standing in the small room waiting to be interviewed, or maybe the better word would be interrogated, by people I had never met before for a job I knew nothing about with my only options being getting the job or life in prison was a bit stressful to say the least. I thanked God I had put on deodorant before I had walked over.

Maggie was gone and Simmons had left through the door opposite the one we had entered through to "let the big guys know we're here." I was left to my own devices in the completely empty and windowless room. The grey metal walls added nothing to it other than claustrophobia. My mind was flitting from one possible outcome to another before I had to force it to stop and focus on my story. I was just a normal woman who was very well-educated, hardworking, and professional. Nothing strange or abnormal other than that I had much more biology, physics, and astronomy knowledge than the average person. Despite my mental pep talk I couldn't help but feel the old paranoia creeping back.

Those first few years after my accident were… difficult. I was something close to a hermit with a tinfoil hat back then. I never saw any sign that Sector 7 following me, but I knew that that was precisely how they operated. They struck when it was least expected and they weren't the kind of people to let anything go that they considered theirs. And that included any information, artifacts, or even people that fell into their hands. Keeping low became me, became my life, and even decades later it still manifested as suspicion and avoidance in me.

Before I could fall much deeper into my worry of the past and the present, Simmons reentered the room and walked over to me. I was standing stoically with nothing but a mask for an expression, but Simmons seemed to smell something amiss right away.

"Hey, relax, sweetheart." Simmons clapped his hands on my shoulders and gave me a gentle shake. "You're gonna knock 'em dead." His voice was soft, especially considering his high volume that seemed to be his default. Damn that man. How did he see my emotions when I didn't show them? Maybe it was a lucky guess on his part. However, I was thankful for his kind words.

With a deep breath I followed closely behind Simmons as he opened the door and lead the way into the next room. We made our way through an enormous tunnel that looked like the inside of a jet engine that was open at the other end. As we neared the opening I could see that the room was actually a huge hangar-like area. The ceiling had to be about one hundred feet high and there were too many large machines and pieces of what looked like scaffolding to see either end.

But what was in the middle of the area several yards in front of me confused me to no end. Several vehicles, much like the ones I had seen outside, were grouped together with a scattering of men and women in black suits wandering around. What was this, an auto show?

"Over here." Simmons gestured for me to follow closer until we were only about ten feet from the vehicles. The largest and most intimidating looking vehicle was a large, blue Peterbilt semi with red flames. Beside it to my left was a black Chevy Topkick, an almost equally huge truck with large silver stacks much like the semi. A neon yellow Hummer rescue vehicle sat parked on the other side of the trailer truck and a bright yellow Camaro with black racing stripes stood next to the Topkick.

Either these guys are really trying to impress me, and I couldn't fathom why, or something very strange is going on.

I stayed silent as I waited for Simmons or someone else to explain the situation since the suits standing along the sides seemed uninterested or uninvolved.

"Hello, gentlemen." Simmons said towards the cluster of vehicles before us as he placed his hand on my shoulder. "This is the young woman I told you about earlier."

I could only stare in absolute bewilderment as it appeared that he was taking to the cars. At first I simply assumed that these strange people I was about to meet were sitting in the cars, but it became apparent quickly that no one was in them with a quick look through the windshields.

"Simmons, what are you…?" Before I could finish I noticed the look on Simmons' face. His expression said 'give me a second' and I obliged.

My attention was drawn forward by a strange sound, something electric, mechanical, and biological all in one. My ears were bombarded by overlapping waves of humming and clicks and my eyes took in the sight before me. The vehicles were folding and reforming in such intricate patterns and that it was hard to track it all. The almost acrobatic and incredibly graceful movements had me transfixed. Within seconds the mechanical oddities before me were standing upright and had taken on astoundingly tall humanoid forms. The largest had to be a little over thirty feet.

I was being stared at by four large robotic beings with glowing blue eyes before I was even sure of what was going on. My head felt as if it was floating miles above me and I feared I might faint, but refused to allow myself to show such weakness. I grounded myself and inhaled deeply, forcing oxygen to my brain so I could fight off the darkness growing at the corners of my vision.

"Need a chair, sweetheart?" Simmons' voice barely registered next to me, but I could still hear the amusement in his voice.

"I'm fine." I managed to mumble back as I was too preoccupied by the wonder of a sight before me. Never before had I been in such stunned awe.

"Hello, Ms. Ambrosius." The being that used to be the blue Peterbilt spoke as he crouched down on one knee so he was at my eye level. "My name is Optimus Prime. I am the leader of the Autobots, and these are a few of my men; Ratchet, our medical officer, Ironhide, our weapons specialist, and Bumblebee, one of our soldiers." The large mechanical man gestured to the beings on either side of himself; the Hummer, the Topkick, and the Camaro respectively. His sudden closeness frightened me, but I refused to let it show.

It took me a few seconds to realize that I was staring at the group before me with my jaw clenched shut. Embarrassed at having forgotten myself, I tried to think of a proper response.

"H-hello." I tried to keep my voice strong and loud enough to be heard and was very pleased with the result.

"It is a pleasure to meet you. I'm sure you're very confused as to why you're here, so you may ask any question you like."

"I might have a few." I nod slowly in thought. "What are you? Where are you from? Why are you here?" I listed them off mildly as examples, but truly hoped for an answer. I had already formed theories in my head, but I wanted to know for sure. These beings were definitely not man-made, that much was for certain, but where did they come from? The one named Optimus was still knelt before me so I could see in his expression that he was in no way bothered by my inquiries.

"We are autonomous robotic organisms from the planet Cybertron. And we came to this planet to protect it and a precious artifact we sought from falling into the hands of our enemies, the Decepticons." His concise description seemed logical. Despite that, I grew a small smile, hiding the exalting, overwhelming joy I felt inside. Aliens! They were aliens! Years of my life's work had been devoted to finding these intelligent beings from the stars and here they were already here. If an advanced race could reach us, it made sense that at least a good number of them would be peaceful. And why else would such a race visit a primitive planet like earth unless they had to? But I was ever so thankful they stayed.

"Do you come here in peace?" I asked in an even tone. I prayed to God I wasn't in the middle of a rather diplomatic invasion of earth.

"Yes." Optimus nodded solemnly. "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings. We have promised to protect this world and its people, and in return your government allows us to stay here." This took a large weight off my heart. I had begun to worry about what I had gotten myself into, but this alien being had made it known in no uncertain terms that they were here to help, not harm.

"I thought you said I wasn't going to be working with aliens." I turned to Simmons with a look of suspicion and taunting.

"No, no, no." He wagged his finger as if chastising a small child. "I said you wouldn't be working with little green men. As you can see they are neither small nor green." I rolled my eyes at him in exasperation. This man was impossible and I thanked my lucky stars I would be working closely with someone else and not him. I realized if I did work with his extensively I still might end up in jail, this time for murder. Against all the odds though, he did seem to have a good heart under all the crazy.

"Now, I think we should get down to business." Optimus raised himself back up to his feet. "Do you mind if we ask you questions of our own? We thought an interview would be in order."

"Sure, but may I ask what position I'm being interviewed for?" I asked as politely and smoothly as I could. It was a question that could easily be mistaken as a sarcastic remark.

"Of course." Optimus spoke. "I am in need of a liaison. I speak with many human contacts almost every day and a well-educated woman such as yourself who understands both human and possible extraterrestrial biology and culture could help us bridge many gaps. We all try to avoid misunderstandings and understand one another's point of view, but that is usually easier said than done, despite our many similarities. Are you interested in this position?"

"I very much think so." I wanted to mention that I really had no other choice, but restrained myself. This alien, Optimus, had only known me for a few minutes and seemed to be trying to make sure I was comfortable with them and the situation. It was very generous and kind so I made sure to return the favor.

"Good." He seemed pleased with my answer. Simmons led me over to one of the tall raised walkways. Once I reached the top I was at eye level with all the Autobots around me and ready for the interview of my life.

God help me. I thought with equal parts humor and dread.