Driver 31 Epilogue

Afternoon Tea

A Transformers Prime Fanfiction

"Mmmm, that smells good," Jack Darby commented as he dismounted from Arcee.

"What does?" the femme inquired as she drew the air over her chemical sensors. The base was full of volatile compounds but she couldn't detect anything new.

"The tea," her partner explained. "Someone must have broken open Mom's special stash. I'm going to go grab me a cup before Fowler gets here."

The young man jogged up the stairs and tilted his head in confusion when saw the set up. He could hear the electric kettle just beginning to simmer. The nice tea pot his mom had donated to the kid's equipment was sitting in a neat circle of cups surrounded by all the accoutrements of afternoon tea. The young man frowned. Had he forgotten something important? Although June Darby drank tea regularly she only set it all out this nice for special occasions. He shrugged and poured himself a cup, listening to the steady typing coming from the computer area. Raf must have been busy.

"So Fowler is coming later to finish up the paperwork for Driver's crew?" he asked Arcee.

"Yes, Ratchet and Optimus are back doing inventory in storage. Doc Bot used up a lot of raw material repairing them."

Jack nodded respectfully to the Prime as he walked into the room carrying a datapad. Optimus returned the gesture and began to speak quietly with the blue femme. The human idly reached over and unplugged the kettle as it came to a full boil. The ground proximity alarm sounded and a familiar yellow muscle car swung gracefully into base. A frown creased his face as first Rafael and then his mother climbed out of the car.

"Oh Sweetheart!" Mrs. Darby called out as she sniffed the air, "you put on tea for me!"

"No," Jack said frowning into the amber liquid, "I thought you did."

"I've been in town since I got off work," she replied. "Well, thanks to whomever."

The air proximity alarm sounded and Ratchet moved with Optimus to greet Fowler. Still frowning Jack walked softly over to the computer terminal where the steady typing was still emanating from. The young man stopped dead when he rounded the partition. Sitting in the battered old office char was a beautiful young woman he had never seen. Short cropped red hair framed delicate ears and creamy white skin. She wore a slightly dusty but new pair of trim black pants and a black sleeveless tee with a blue band across the shoulders. Jack blinked rapidly several times, trying to clear his mind.

"And who, exactly, are you?" he asked as firmly as he could manage, she was beautiful and he was after all a healthy young man.

The woman causally glanced up and emerald green eyes flashed out over a pert little nose. Pink lips spread in a warm smile revealing gleaming white teeth.

"Miss Elspeth Gore, at your service," she replied. "Hope you don't mind I made a cuppa while I waited for someone to notice me, and I am so glad to see you carry the good stuff and not the usual American excuse for tea."

"Jack Darby. You're Scottish," Jack stated, confusion still dominant.

The woman let out a mock gasp and her long black lashes parted dramatically.

"What gave it away?"

Jack shook his head and let out a low chuckle.

"Okay, how did you get in here?"

"Oh, I just nipped in through this dusty old tunnel in back, left my kit at the door. Dreadfully poor security you have here. Ah, before you go sounding the alarm, I'm just typing up how I did it and a few other weaknesses I spotted as well, so you might as well let me finish."

"What are you doing here?"

"Classified!" she chirped out with a cheeky grin.

Jack noted that her strong calloused fingers kept typing away at the keyboard even as she talked to him. He heard Fowler chatting away with Optimus and let out a sigh. The raven haired youth leaned against the partition and kept his eyes locked on her as she finished typing the document. With a graceful flick of her wrist the woman pulled a jump drive from the computer and stood. Jack noted with a frown the large metal case that she picked up. It was about the size of a small duffel bag, soundly locked, and attached to her wrist with a long pair of handcuffs.

"Optimus Prime," Jack called loudly as he escorted the woman towards the catwalk. "We have an intruder."

The sound of weapons charging filled the silo as Arcee and Bumblebee placed themselves between the other two humans and whatever the threat might be. Jack watched Miss Gore start at the sound and stumble a bit at the sight of the Bot's. The young woman's green eyes were wide with wonder, glee, and something else he couldn't quite identify; some sort of satisfaction maybe? She was clearly seeing the Cybertronians for the first time, but for all that she didn't seem quite surprised enough.

"What in the name of Uncle Sam's beard is going on here?" Agent Fowler's voice cut through the noise.

"Bugger, I'd been hoping to avoid the American officials," the woman murmured to Jack, but then her searching gaze found Optimus standing slightly back from the others. A gasp escaped her lips and Jack heard the woman whisper softly. "Finally, it's him."

"Him?" he asked in confusion, moving slightly to shield her from Fowler's oncoming wrath.

Suddenly she threw back her head and let out a peal of delighted laughter; shocking the approaching Fowler into silence. Her eyes locked onto Optimus and she began to speak as if reciting something long memorized while clutching the metal box to her chest.

"Standing approximately 35 feet, possessing a color scheme predominantly of crimson and cobalt, visual organs of luminous London Topaz blue (optics the goode Captain pronounced them), said to exude an air of authority not to be denied," here her tone changed and she looked directly into the Prime's optics, completely unafraid. "By this description may I take it that you are the rightful leader of the faction of Cybertronians known as the Autobots, Optimus Prime?"

"I am Optimus Prime," he confirmed with a curious glance at the befuddled Fowler.

"Class Sigma nine response required, authorization Gamma-seven-ought-five-three-delta-nine-five."

A collective wave of astonishment washed over the assembled Autobots at that but Optimus calmly responded.

"Authorization Prime Alpha-nine-gamma-five-three-seven-beta-six-triple-delta."

Reaching into a small bag that hung at her side the redhead pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the cuffs from her wrist.

"Optimus Prime. I, Elspeth Gore, hereby present you with a communication from Captain Holdfast of the Autobot battleship Challenge."

"Holdfast!" Arcee gasped out in astonishment. "His ship was declared lost centuries ago."

"But it was in this sector," Ratchet reminded her.

"Why wasn't out government informed of this communication?" Fowler suddenly demanded, finding his voice again.

"Well first off you bloody Yank; the instructions that the Autobot Captain gave to the Royal Navy Captain were that the message was to be presented to Optimus Prime and no other, but secondly; at the time the message was entrusted to him the Crown didn't recognize that little band of rebels in New England as a government."

As she spoke she handed the metal box to Optimus who delicately accepted it and held it out to Ratchet to be scanned. The special agent was sputtering in confusion when Ratchet nodded and Optimus extended a slim wire to unlock the container. From the foam padded interior he lifted a time worn but well cared for wooden sea chest secured with leather straps and a bronze padlock.

"How old is this message exactly Miss Gore?" June asked with a smile as she walked up to the other woman.

The redhead glanced up at Optimus about to ask a question but the Prime responded first.

"Everyone here has my complete confidence, please answer their questions."

"Two-hundred thirty-four years this August," she said with a grin. "The Captain in question was none other than James Cook of the Royal Navy."

"Captain Cook knew an Autobot?" Raf asked in astonishment. "I never remember that in the history books."

"Miss Gore," Ratchet interjected. "How pray tell did this device come into your hands?" He held up an obviously Cybertronian device; small in his hands, that he had removed from the sea chest.

"I'd like to know that myself," Fowler growled. "There's no way you're MI6."

"You are correct; I'm no secret agent of any sort. I am simply the descendant of one Captain John Gore."

"I thought you said the message was entrusted to Captain Cook?" Fowler cast her a suspicious glare.

"But Captain Cook died before he could reach England at the end of his last voyage," Jack offered.

The young woman flashed him a grin and nodded in confirmation.

"An American boy with a decent education in history," she quipped, "aren't you supposed to be on an endangered species list? Yes, Cook died on the Hawaiian Islands. He had entrusted the package to Captain Clerke in the case of his death, but Clerk also perished before reaching Plymouth. The task of keeping the record until such a time as it could be delivered to Optimus Prime fell to the then Lt. Gore. Which in retrospect was most likely for the best, as neither Captain Cook or Clerke successfully reproduced, while there are enough Gores and Gore cousins littering this planet to populate a small country."

"Anyway," she turned her attention firmly back to Optimus. "I need to inform you of a few things. In the sea chest is the device Captain Holdfast gave to Captain Cook said to contain the ship logs of the Challenge up to that date. Underneath it are the ships logs of both the HMS Discovery and the HMS Resolution pertaining to the dates they interacted with the Autobot vessel. In the metal carrying case is the list of all the Gore's who have carried the message down through the years. I am willing to stay and answer any questions you might have but we all know how uptight these Yankee's get about their secret bases, so as I have discharged my duties I will leave now if you want me to."

Fowler was sputtering again. June hid her smile as she watched the young woman's effect on the agent.

"I would prefer that you stayed until I have reviewed the material," Optimus stated, "if this is permissible Agent Fowler."

The human took a deep calming breath and shook his head

"That's fine Prime," he glared ruefully at the redhead one last time and muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'more paperwork'.

"So are you the one who made the tea?" June asked.

"Yep, got board waiting to be noticed, which reminds me," she held up the jump drive to the Autobots. "I couldn't help but notice when I broke in that your security is a bit shoddy. I detailed how I got in and a few other holes I noticed if you want to look at it."

Ratchet sputtered in indignation at the comment much to Miss Gore's delight and snatched the device from her hand. Optimus had already pulled up the Challenge's logs and was studying them carefully, while Ratchet scanned the other two logs.

"So your family has known about the Autobots all this time?" Fowler demanded. "Why wait until now to come forward."

"Agent Fowler," June said in her nurse voice.

The man wisely shut his mouth.

"Miss Gore has come a long ways and done us all a great favor. Please remember that. Right now," she turned to the younger woman and indicated the couch. "Won't you sit down and share a cup of tea with us?"

"Love to!"

"My name is June Darby. Please call me June."

"Then I'm Elly. Darby huh? So the smart lad here would be your baby brother then?"

"My son," June said with a chuckle.

"No! You don't look old enough!"

Miss Gore sat down on the couch as June poured tea for everyone.

"And who's this?"

"I'm Rafael Esquivel," the boy introduced himself shyly, a little overwhelmed by the newcomer.

"Well it's very nice to meet you Mr. Esquivel," she said extending her hand.

"Please call me Raf."

"Delighted Raf."

"So your family has been keeping these records safe for nearly three centuries now?" June asked as she sat down beside Gore; Jack and Fowler were standing on either side of the television.

"Yep! Passed down father to son by the Gores for twelve generations."

"You're no son," Fowler commented dryly.

"Yeah, well granddad had five girls, so they all made their husbands take the family name, but none of the aunties had boys either. When I turned sixteen he came to me and spent about a year convincing me that this was for real and here I am."

"Why wait until now?" Jack wanted to know.

"Well some government," she shot a glance at Fowler, "decided to be a bit quiet about the whole 'aliens tromping all over the flipping place' thing didn't they?"

"We have our reasons," the agent growled.

"And they're perfectly sound ones I'm sure," she continued dismissively. "But it wasn't until a cousin of mine in the Royal Society heard that the Yanks were nosing around for anything in Royal Navy records pertaining to giant robots that I got wind of it. Then another cousin of mine went hunting for sightings on the web and this little town called Jasper kept cropping up. So I flew across the pond and drove out here." She took a sip of the tea and smiled. "The next bit was rather tricky. Captain Holdfast had told Captain Cook that they liked to impersonate mobile machines. So I just kept a lookout for any autos that appeared out of place. Then this shiny yellow American muscle car without a driver caught my attention. I saw it drive south out of town and had another cousin who's pretty high up in the RAF do some digging for me."

"That inquiry about defunct military bases we had a few days ago," Fowler nodded in understanding. "Your cousin is Air Chief Marshal Smythe?"

"I told you, enough Gores to populate a small country, his mother was a Gore. Anyway, I hiked out here and nosed around the mesa until I found a way in. Nobody was around so I typed up my report and mad a pot of tea."

Fowler let out a low chuckle.

"Ratchet was so sure the base was impregnable. Guess he focused on Decepticons so much he forgot to account for a human intruder. The mech is going to blow a gasket."

"What's the Royal Society?" Raf asked from his perch on the arm of the couch.

"An old, old, club for eggheads to get together and talk about sciencey stuff."

"Miss Gore," the deep voice interrupted the conversation. "I would like to thank you for bringing this to our attention. I have already proven useful and may yet prove invaluable."

"You are perfectly welcome," she replied. "I was simply glad to be of service and finally be able to fulfill my family duty so soon. Captain Holdfast was of the opinion that it would have to wait until we developed spaceflight on our own."

"Our coming to this planet was unexpected."

"You know, this is all absolutely amazing and everything," Miss Gore said shifting a little. "But if you don't need me I really need to be getting back to my home. You see, granddad doesn't have long left and I'd like to be able to tell him that I succeeded before he passes."

"You are of course free to go," Optimus said. "Ratchet please prepare a groundbridge for our guest."

"A what now?"

"Groundbridge," Fowler explained lading her towards the device, his humor slowly returning, "stable wormhole type thingy. You'll love it. Get you back to the UK in less than five minutes. When you do get back I trust you will be able to keep everything here to yourself? Except for debriefing your grandfather of course."

"What? No mountain of paperwork to sign, swearing I won't tell a soul?"

"Oh, don't worry. You'll get a visit soon enough from MI6. We find people usually respond better to those things when they come from their own government."

"That makes perfect sense," she replied in surprise, "are you sure you're American?"

"Get outta here before I arrest you," the agent growled, but he couldn't completely hide the grin. "This," he indicated the portal that swirled to life, "will take you to a large abandoned warehouse in Edinburgh. Will that do?"

"Yeah, I can catch a bus home from there. But my kit is still back where I got in and my rental is still parked back on the road."

"We'll take care of all that. Just watch your step leaving, there will be about a foot drop."

With a final wave goodbye the young woman walked fearlessly across the event horizon.

Fowler made his goodbyes after collecting her gear and took off in his jet.

"So what's it say Optimus?" Jack asked, pointing at the records still scrolling across the screen.

"You remember the plague ship that we found in the Gobi desert?"

The human nodded and a shiver ran up his spine.

"That was the Challenge; captained by Commander Holdfast. According to these logs they engaged the Viper and then came to Earth to resupply."

"Wait," Raf's head shot up. "The Viper was the ship Driver was on!"

"Indeed, Holdfast recorded their interactions with the gestalt. It happened much as Driver told us. The virus that Airachnid infected the gestalt with was in fact a carrier version of cybonic plague, and it was Captain Holdfast who captured them and placed them in stasis. From the logs of the human ships this Captain Cook observed the final battle between the two vessels that resulted in the Challenge crashing to Earth, and the Viper's destruction. He also records a small point of light leaving the scene of the battle before the final explosion."

"Airachnid's escape pod no doubt," Arcee stated bitterly. "The coward."

"No doubt," Optimus agreed. "But there is more in the human's logs."

"What else?" June inquired.

"It appears that in accordance with Captain Holdfast's request, Captains Cook and Clerk concealed and recorded the location of a substantial amount of processed energon; if these records are accurate, enough to last us several months. It is scattered around several islands and hidden well underground but should still be useable after all this time."

"That's great!"

"Indeed Rafael. Autobots prepare to roll out!"

Many thanks to all my loyal reviewers on this story! I had a blast writing for you.

Especial thanks to Merchant Navy Cadet for his help in editing this last chapter.