The next morning came way too fast. I was still in bed, and still trying to sleep, but there was a noise that denied me of the sleep I was desperate for. I heard the door open and quiet footsteps approach me. This time I knew it was a friendly, so I wasn't formulating plans of attack. I just let the person come to my bedside.
"Michael?" It was June, she shook me to properly wake me up.
I groaned as I sat up in the bed, wiping my eyes.
"Morning. What time is it?" I asked.
"Ten" June replied.
"Why did you wake me? I need more sleep"
"Err, well you have a visitor"
"Captain Wallace?" I perked up.
"Not quite. You need to get up and… well look respectable"
"Wait, what? Look respectable? What do you mean?"
June was leaving the room "Just be ready quickly" She opened the door, stepped out and closed the door behind her.
"What?" I asked myself. I quickly got out of bed and jumped straight for the ensuite and had a quick shower. Had a reasonably quick shave, minding not to cut myself, applied some aftershave even if it cause my face to sting, as I had no idea now respectable I need to be.
I got out of the ensuite and got dressed in my usual fashion of a brown shirt and jeans and with the black Chelsea boot of course. I left my room and went for the main control room.
The Autobots were present and I saw June fixing up a mug of coffee for a number of people. I climbed the stairs and approached her.
"So, why are you making six cups of coffee?"
"Well the kids stayed last night, I rang their parents saying they were staying over mine. They were too tired to travel home. And the other is for your visitor"
"Not allowed to say"
"No seriously. This better not be some stupid joke or something. I was hoping for some proper sleep last night"
"You're not the only one" Elita said as she approached, carrying a sleeping Raff in her arms, curled up in a thick blanket. "He was having nightmares last night and was frightened by them"
I didn't want to guess as to what his nightmares were about, but I hoped they weren't about me being angry at him last night.
"I'm sorry to hear about Raff, but will someone tell me who this person is?" I asked loudly.
"Well is that a clue?" June said while pointing towards where the cars are parked. What I saw shocked me. Sitting next to my black Jaguar XFR was a black Jaguar XJ series III from 1982. I only knew one person who drove one of those.
"Where is he?" I asked June.
"In the medical bay"
I quickly made my way towards the medical bay and standing at Mack's bedside was Rear Admiral Colin Banes. He was in his late fifties and it showed, he wasn't trim but not fat either but considering his age he was doing ok. He was dressed in a grey wool overcoat and waistcoat and grey trousers nearly matching the colour of his silver hair. He always had slight anger of annoyance on his face, he is a man you don't mess with.
He looked back at me, silently telling me to approach as he came to the foot end of the bed, I too did the same. He stood staring at each other for some time. We never did see eye to eye.
I decided to break the silence "If you've come to ask him questions, I'll think you'll find-"
He landed a quick short, fast powerful punch to the face. I staggered back a number of steps temporary stunned.
"Oh that feels good" He said, sounding pleased with himself but in a well-spoken voice as always.
I came out of my daze then quickly hit him twice in the face with two quick jabs. But before I could land a harder throw he kicked me hard in the testacies. It winded me and I keeled over in pain no man should ever have to go through.
"What in the all-spark is going on here!" Ratchet asked, hearing the commotion.
"FOUR MONTHS! Four months Michael" Baines shouted down at me "That's how long it's been since I was told you were killed in that explosion. Why didn't tell me you were still alive?"
"I'm sorry-" I gasped.
"SORRY? Sorry you didn't want to do anything with me? I only found out you were still alive when you boarded that car carrier. I was furious when I found out. Were you ever going to tell me? You know what, I don't want to hear it. I rather not hear you say, yes"
I was still struggling to overcome the pain from my groin as Elita helped me to my feet while still holding Raff who was currently waking up to the shouting.
"I was going to say, once I was back at Warsash" I struggled to say.
"I don't lie to me. You would be glad to see the back of me"
"Why are you here? And more importantly how?"
"As you know, I have contacts. In this case it was Captain Wallace. He told me everything and I was straight on the phone with the Pentagon. I got in touch with the Autobots through Special Agent Fowler, and here I am" He had a briefcase at the end of the bed. He opened it up and pulled out my merchant navy training board, training record book.
"You left your TRB on board ship. You need to take better care of it. That's your career there, don't lose it"
"Oh right, well next time I'm held in the grip of the greatest evil this planet has ever seen, I'll say don't throw me over board to the freezing waters just yet, I've got to get my TRB" Elita winced at that.
"Yeah, well I dispatched HMS Westminster to intercept CSV Nevada Highway as soon it came into UK waters. The captain arrested the crew and brought them back to Plymouth where they will be put on trial for murder in a closed court. The frigate also recovered all of your belongings. I have them in the boot of my car"
I listened. He actually cared for me and was showing it. "Thank you. But, but I though you hated me?"
He was stunned by this remark "Hate you? How I could I ever hate you? I remember you as that frightened little boy all those years ago who had just lost his mother and needed someone to care for him. And that's what I did. I was there at your christening and when your parents asked me and my late wife to be your godparents. I never realized that's what you thought of me. I love you, always have, always will. You are like a son to me so I would never hate you. Look I know I was a bit of an asshole three years ago. I should have respected your decision but I didn't. I only thought about what I wanted you to do not what you wanted to do and that was foolish thing to do and for that I am truly sorry. Will you forgive me?"
This man never apologized for anything for as long as could remember. He always got his way and got what he wanted. So for him to say sorry meant he truly was. I had to forgive him, if it wasn't for him I would have wound up dead years ago. I owed him, like many others my life.
"Oh course I forgive you. I'm also sorry for being such a prick at times. We all do stupid things I doubt it will be the last"
Baines smiled back and I did too. After three years our relationship was finally on the mend. All it took was for me to be almost killed by an evil warlord from a distance planet.
Baines looked at Elita "I take it you're the one who has been caring for Michael?"
"Yes, after he freed me from MECH it was the least I could do for him" She looked down at me with the look of a mother love to her child.
"Well, that's what he does. He goes from a place to place and he helps people who need it. And that something I want to talk to you about Michael"
"And what would that be?"
"Look, I'm not getting any younger and I've done my bit for Queen and country, which is why I'm planning on retiring. I've seen what you managed to achieve after you left three years ago. I want to do the same, helping people"
"So, are you're going to put an ad in the paper for those with the odds against them?"
"Ha! No, well not quite. Look, I need someone who I can rely on, someone I can trust. I've already got a small team made up from those in the internal affairs unit when I was there all those years ago, but I need someone a bit younger and much more in shape-"
"-someone like me" I finished.
"Right" Baines confirmed.
"Look, you know I'm busy with my training and all. I don't want to do any of that anymore, that's why I joined the merchant navy. You know that more than anyone else"
"Well, that hasn't stopped you before. You investigated the reasons behind the sinking of the Catalonian Star and uncovered a terrorist organisation and freed her" He pointed at Elita. "You then also recovered MI5 files, so when you say you don't want to do this anymore, I'm finding it hard to believe. You'll always carry on doing it, because in truth you like it"
We all heard groaning coming from Mack. I quickly came to his bedside with Baines on the other, both waiting for him to open his eyes.
They slowly opened with some strain "Michael?" He asked as I imagine his vision was slightly blurry
"I'm here mate"
He looked to the other side "Admiral?" He was surprised to see someone so high ranking there, he tried to sit up but we both stopped him "Easy there Mack, you're still recovering" I told him.
"Did we succeed?" He asked.
"Yep, everything is taken care of"
He smiled "Great, that's great to hear"
"Navy or marines?" Baines asked.
"Royal marines 42 commando, sir"
"You did well, you should be proud of yourself"
"Thank you, sir"
Baines gestured to me with a simple flick of the hand for me to come with him. We stepped away from the bed "Look, Michael. I understand why you don't want to, but I could really use someone like you. I retiring and I don't want to just sit around waiting for my number to be called, I need to do something and I want to help people in the way you did"
I sighed a deep breath "You know I can't" I had a sudden brain wave, spouting out a good idea "How about this, I'll help you out if I can, if you will help me to help them. The Autobots are facing an uphill struggle and could use all the help they can get. Deal?"
"Well how about we bring this up with their commanding officer"
"Follow me" I instructed him. I led him out of the medical bay towards the main base computer.
"OPTIMUS!" I yelled out for him. Within moments we could hear the thumping of his footsteps and he emerged from the nearby corridor.
"Yes Michael?" He asked looking at us both. Baines was in slight shock at Optimus' scale.
"Rear Admiral Baines, wishes to speak to you"
I gestured to Baines as if giving him the floor. Baines came back to reality. He stepped forward very nervously, you wouldn't have known he was a high ranking officer in the Royal Navy by the way he stood.
"Well, well" He stuttered, trying to find the words "Well Michael has informed me that you could do with an extra body on your side. Well I'm retiring from the force very soon and I don't really know what to do with myself afterwards. I mean I had a terrible moment when I almost considered taking up gardening. I don't have much of a life outside of the navy so I don't have much to look forward to" He took a deep breath, taking a moment to gather his thoughts.
"I'm the one who taught Michael how to think, just like I did with his father so you can guess where my skills are. I understand about this problem of Decepticons using human agents. I used to flush out rouges years ago with Michael's fathers so I could help out with that. A lot of people won't want anything to do with an old bastard like me, but perhaps you might?"
Optimus stood there listening to what the old Admiral had to say. His furrowed his brow slightly.
"As you know of our presence and given your experience, someone of your expertise could become in extreme use considering recent events. We would be pleased to accept you into our fold" Optimus replied in the long winded way as the great Prime always did.
"Thank you very much, Optimus Prime" They both nodded once with respect to each other.
The proximity alarm went off. Baines looked around for answers.
"Agent Fowlers arrived" I told him.
The lift whirred in action and Fowler stepped out of the lift.
"Special Agent Fowler" Baines approached him with an outstretched hand "Rear Admiral Collin Baines, we spoke on the phone"
"Good to meet you at last. Glad to see someone new turn up on the base who isn't a kid"
Baines smiled and gave a single nod "Your tie isn't done up properly"
"Oh, not you as well!" Fowler sounded, immediately annoyed and started to fix his tie.
"Well I taught Michael the importance of a proper appearance. That's why when he was seven I sent him to the sea cadets"
I face palmed. I hoped he wasn't going to bring up my embarrassing childhood
"Collin" I wined like an annoyed child.
By now pretty much everyone on the base apart from Mack came to base, even Raff was on his feet. All the Autobots, Fowler, June and the kids.
"Michael you do know I still have that uniform you had when you were in the sea cadets"
"Sea cadets?" Elita asked, intrigued as I chose to not mention it as I always got embarrassed by it.
"It's like the scouts but on water, and they dress up in navy uniform, he was very cute wearing the sailors cap. You remember Michael, HMS Cambria?"
"Yes" I said flatly. I heard a few chuckles from some I didn't look behind to see who. I knew Miko was definitely one of them and almost certainly Bulkhead.
His mobile went off before he could come up with more embarrassing stories "Baines here… what?... But they're not meant to be back yet… well where are they now?... Right ok, how long till they in?... Four hours… can I put you on hold for a moment… thanks" He turned to me.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Well it would seem that Captain Wainwright who is commanding the HMS Albion is trying to sneak into Plymouth two days early without me knowing. This is the fourth time he has disobeyed orders. Honestly I don't why we have these boys in charge. Last time the ship was a mess when it arrived in, probably trying to cover something up before I inspect it when it should be coming in"
He looked to Optimus "I would be very grateful if you would send me to an airbase with your…"
"Ground bridge" I said.
"...Ground bridge, I need to sort this captain out"
"That will be no problem, Admiral" Optimus replied.
"Thank you" He put the phone to his ear "You there… good get hold of RNAS Culdrose and get the first Merlin they have on standby, I'll drop in on the ship and speak to Wainwright myself in person… thank you" He hung up the phone. "Honestly, the people coming through Dartmouth is nothing like it used to be. We used to actually follow orders, not go gallivanting off doing what hell we like"
He turned to face Elita "Look take good care of Michael, you hear? Otherwise I'll be knocking on your door and you won't like it"
"Consider that a promise, and I wouldn't mind hearing more his childhood, it would seem there are some parts he has left out"
Baines and I went down the steps toward his car. He opened up the boot and I hefted the bags out and piled them up to one side.
"Well, when you said you were joining the merchant navy, I didn't expect this" Baines said.
"You take care"
Baines walked to the driver's door and opened it up. "Doctor, please send me to Royal Naval Air Station Coldrose in Cornwall please" He asked Ratchet politely.
Ratchet operated the controls without being rude to the Admiral. He had no reason to, Baines asked in a nice polite way which pleased Ratchet after having to deal with the hot headed Agent and the explosive Japanese teenage girl.
The ground bridge burst into life, filling the control room with bright light emanating from the swirling wall of light. Baines watched it open up with wonder then he swept his vision toward the control room then towards me.
"Looks like I'll be seeing you more often and soon. Take care of yourself, not that I need to tell you that"
"Being seeing you soon" I said back. We both shared a brief smile then he climbed into the old Jaguar and fired up the engine. I stepped to the side out of the way as he reversed from the parking space and drove toward the swirling wall of light and disappeared in the event horizon. As soon as the light swallowed up the car the light itself died away as the ground bridge powered down. I stared a few long seconds at the empty tunnel as if I was still looking at Baines. In affect he was the last remaining link to my lost family.
I turned on my heels and proceeded up the steps toward the human area.
"So what's this about the sea cadets?" Miko asked.
"Ask me that one more time, I dare you"
She knew to shut up "Good girl, you're learning"
"So what's the plan for today?" Jack asked as he knew to try to move the subject away for my own sake before Miko could flare up again.
"Some rest hopefully" I said going toward the TV "Anyone want to play video games?"
"Sweet!" Miko declared.
"Yeah sure" Raff said while Jack shrugged.
I sat in the sofa while the kids practically jumped at it. June ad Autobots smiled. As the video console started up I couldn't help but muse that my life had just completed one big merry go round. I spent years trying to escape from Baines and the life he try to lead me to and here I am again, only this time I am going to accept the challenge of defending the realm, but not the United Kingdom, but the whole world by helping the Autobots defeat the Decepticons.
So from this day forward I would be a deck officer in training in the merchant navy by day, but a defender of Earth by night.
Meanwhile on the bridge of the Nemesis, Megatron stood watching the planet Earth revolving around, below him which he believed would soon to be his to rule. Soundwave silently came to his side and played back a recording "It means a righteous infliction of retribution, manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by a horrible bastard… me"
"Well it would seem that this Mr Rickers shares the same qualities of being hard to defeat like Optimus. If we can't break him physically, then we will break him mentally and he will soon learn his place. I will not have my plans foiled by a mere human. Soundwave see to it that our… servants focus their efforts of bringing him to me"
Soundwave made a sound to warrant Megatron's visual attention. Megatron turned on his heel to see what Soundwave was displaying on his screen for a face. On the screen was a yellow dragon facing to the left with a blue anchor tattoo on its wing, while holding up a flag staff with a white over red flag with two red roses of Lancaster and one white rose of York on the flag. It was the symbol of Warsash Maritime Academy.
"Yes, according to Arachnid he will be returning back this place of education. We will wait until he feels safe and then that is where we will strike, where the Autobots will be unable to defend him. Then we shall see who is our Nemesis"
Megatron chuckled in an evil manner. He would have his revenge on the one who stopped him when he was so close to finally learning the location of the Autobot base and he would take great pleasure in doing so.
Michael Rickers Will Return