Kiryoku

Inner Strength

(Japanese)

"So my scrappy little cyber-cat," a silky smooth voice purred in the darkness, "Are you ready for another day of training?"

Perhaps for the first time in her short life Miko Nakadi was experiencing personal mortal terror. The slim Asian girl trembled with rage because that was all the movement she could manage. She might have screamed, except she was at the limit of human endurance and a wire-thin network of metal sealed her mouth shut. Slowly, one at a time the wires recoiled, leaving a crisscrossed pattern of fine red lines etched into her skin and a maddening burning pain. The girl gasped, choked, and swallowed.

"Come on my pretty pet," the voice crooned sweetly; honey and arsenic, "tell me how much you hate me."

"Kimoi ijiwaru busu," Miko snarled; trying to glare up at the leering black and gold face hovering over her. The girl couldn't remember when she had begun reverting to her native tongue. A searing pain ripped through her back and the human's body strained against the living metal that held her.

"No no my pet," the voice crooned again, this time with a touch of annoyance, "in English."

Chapter 1

Autobot Base Omega, Yesterday

"In English please geek boy?" Miko demanded loudly, her pink fringed odango bobbing aggressively as she glared at the brown eyed boy in front of her.

Rafael Esquivel gave a small sigh and adjusted his rectangular glasses with one finger.

"Ratchet thinks the Cons are trying grow energon in the Bikini Islands," the twelve year old simplified the half hour lecture he'd been giving her on energon fixating coral and the ambient radiation levels in the Pacific Island chain. The girls brown eyes lit up with sudden delight.

"See? That wasn't so hard. Now, I need to go home to do some stuff. Later."

The smaller boy sighed again as the slim Asian sprinted across the base in search of Bulkhead. Girls were all a mystery to him, but Miko simply defied reason. She'd been moping about all morning because it was raining outside, now the bots were headed off for a search that might take Bulkhead away from her for days, and she was suddenly cheerful. There was no way they were letting her go on such a dangerous mission. Ratchet always watched their backs for the girl now. He shrugged it off and returned to helping Ratchet calibrate the radiation sensors.

At home in her bedroom Miko hummed happily to herself as she finished tying the last strap on her black and indigo bikini. She eyed her trim body in the bedroom mirror and nodded in satisfaction. If only she was just a little rounder up top the girl thought wistfully. She shot a smug look up at the cloudy grey sky. Quickly she pulled her usual ensemble of a blue tank top and jean shorts on over the swimsuit. Then her favorite striped stockings and black knee-high lace up boots followed. The girl pulled her pink dyed black hair back into a ponytail, grabbed a canvas bag, and tore out of the house.

"All right let's go!" she had called out to the green SUV that waited on the curb.

"Are you sure you want to hang around the base?" Bulkhead asked. "It's gonna be pretty boring with just Ratchet."

"Oh, I'll find something to do," the girl said mysteriously.

"You won't get in trouble will you?" the Cybertronian asked nervously.

"Who me?" Miko demanded, pasting her best innocent look across her face. "I'll just be working on a surprise art project in back of the base," she elaborated, shoving her hand behind her back and crossing her fingers.

"Oh, what is it?"

"Duh! If I told you it wouldn't be a surprise."

"Fair enough," the mech conceded as they pulled into the silo and he transformed with a whirring of gears and hissing of hydraulics. "Well I gotta go. Have fun with your art project," he called as the girl disappeared into the hallways of the old missile base. With a final grin in the direction of his charge Bulkhead strolled over to where the Optimus Prime stood by the main controls with Ratchet. The two mechs were quietly discussing the mission and wrapped up their conversation quickly.

*Are we ready to leave Optimus?* a whistling voice enquired as a young yellow mech walked up with a sleek blue femme.

"Indeed," the primary red and cobalt blue Autobot leader responded. He nodded to the amber and white medic at his side and Ratchet triggered the groundbridge controls. With a powerful buzz of energy a swirling portal of green and pink opened "Autobot's prepare to roll…"

The Prime was suddenly interrupted by the blaring of an alarm on the main consol.

"What could Fowler want now?" Ratchet demanded in exasperation, "more inane restrictions for this mission?"

The attention of the Autobots successfully diverted from the open groundbridge, a small form darted out from behind a crate that was sitting near the portal. Miko slid unnoticed across the event horizon and let out a squeal of joy as her boots landed in soft sand of a pristine beach. Collecting her wits the girl quickly sprinted into the forest of waving palm trees. The bots would not be distracted by the fake communications signal for long. With any luck the doc-bot would brush it off as some after effects of the scraplet infestation. Anybot who went back to check on her 'secret' art project would find a pile of art supplies with a vague note saying she'd gone home to get more.

When she was safely in the depths of the neat rows of palm trees the girl collapsed panting and giggling in the soft sandy soil. Except for the crashing waves and the calling of seabirds there was nothing to be heard. Miko dug her fingers into the warm earth and let out a contented sigh as the heat of the sun baked into her skin.

"Now why would such a gorgeous island be uninhabited?" she asked a curious lizard that blinked at her from a nearby rock. "I would totally live here. Okay, the bots said they would be on the west side of the island so that means I need to go…. that-a-way."

Getting up she quickly removed everything but her bikini, shoved the clothes into her bag, and strolled out to the water on the east side of the Atoll. After a few blissful minutes of frolicking, the silence began to nag at the gregarious child. Wandering back to where she'd left her bag Miko plopped down in a cluster of drift wood logs and began to chew on a granola bar. The sun and fresh air soon blended with the sound of the surf to lull the child to sleep. The snack bar slipped unnoticed from her fingers as she curled into the soft sand.