Author's Note: Again, I must apologize for a lengthy delay in updates, but I had reason...
In early August, my grandfather started feeling very sick, and he ended up in the hospital. The doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia in one lung. We were hopeful he'd get over it fairly quickly, or as quickly as possible for a 93-year-old man. But, alas, it was not to be. He was getting better, but then he started going downhill. My grandfather died September 26th of last year.
I've been living with him foir the better part of seven years. And now the house where I live is going to be sold. Things have been very hectic as we're trying to get everything straightened out. I don't want to leave; I'd have to cram myself, my stuff, and my eight Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish) into a cubbyhole of a room in a mobile home. The thought is not appealing.
Since my grandfather died, the only member of the family to call me just to talk and see how I myself have been doing has been my uncle Hughie. I never heard from anybody else unless they wanted something. Hughie had a heart attack and died in late February, breaking my only link to any other member of the family outside of my parents and sisters.
Also, college has been going downhill for me as well. I have spent two whole semesters trying to find a tutor to help me with a couple of major assignments, but the AccessAbility center at Cape Breton University has proven worse than useless. I have gotten no help and am failing because of it. I'm really and truly in trouble, and I have no idea what I'm going to do.
Disclaimer: Ultra Rodimus Prime is mine. Shadow belongs to Shadowdragon04. Everybody else belongs to people with more lawyers than I ever want to tangle with.
Chase the Stars
Ultra Rodimus stood on the ramparts of Autobase, looking out over the ruins of Iacon's former market districts. The ravaged buildings glimmered faintly under the cold starlight. His optics took in the bleak view, but his thoughts were miles away.
A soft whine and a nudge at his hand caught his attention, jolting him back to reality. The silver-haired mech looked down, seeing his pet cyber-wolf looking up at him. Yellow optics flickered quizzically as the mech animal tilted his head, pricking his ears at his master. Then the canine nudged his hand again, metal tongue lolling out in a silly lupine grin.
"Can't let me stay melancholy and reflective for five minutes, can you," the Prime murmured, chuckling as he obeyed the unsubtle hint and began scratching his pet's neck. Lightfoot leaned into his hand, panting happily, tail going a mile a minute.
"I think I'm a bit jealous," a new voice commented, and the Autobot commander looked up to see Shadow approaching. The red and black femme smiled at the happy cyber-wolf, who was well on his way to melting into a happy canine puddle of goo under his master's caress. "He's quite cute, and he doesn't seem to care what's going on. Yet he's very perceptive to your mood. It must be nice having someone to talk to who won't judge you, and who offers comfort any time you need it."
"I do admit he's very good company," Ultra Rodimus confirmed, scratching Lightfoot's ears and getting a happy whine in response. Lightfoot leaned against his leg, tail managing to wag even faster.
"Now I know I'm jealous." Shadow watched with a smile. "I'd love to have a pet 'wolf."
Ultra Rodimus tilted his head. "Then why not try to tame one? It's not overly difficult."
Shadow blinked. "I wouldn't even know where to start."
The Prime took his hand away from Lightfoot's neck, resulting in a sigh and a disappointed look from his pet. Then Lightfoot trotted back into the complex. Ultra Rodimus watched him for a moment, then waved for Shadow to follow him and headed for the main gate. "I can help you with that, though most of the work will have to be yours, since you want the 'wolf to bond with you, not with me."
The femme stuck close to her commander as he led her out of the base and into the outskirts of the ruined city. He seemed to know exactly where he was going, whereas she had no real knowledge of how the city had originally been laid out. The tall mech wove his way through the ruins until he reached what had once been an open square near the edge of the city. Waving for Shadow to settle beside him, he crouched in the shadows, looking out into the clearing.
"See there?" He pointed.
A lean, starved-looking cyber-wolf slunk into view. It was a dirty white in color, splotched with charcoal and gunmetal, and flecks of red here and there. Keeping its tail tucked between its hind legs, it crept through the wreckage until it became aware of the two Transformers. Once it noticed their presence, it immediately flattened itself to the ground, ears flat, watching them.
"Here," Ultra Rodimus breathed in Shadow's audial, pressing a container into her hand. "It's energon kibble; Perceptor made it for Lightfoot. Take a few pieces and toss them toward it. Move slowly, or you'll scare it off."
Keeping her movements very slow, Shadow opened the container, reaching into it and drawing out a small handful of glowing kibble. Taking one in her other hand, she tossed it toward the 'wolf. It cringed as the piece oif kibble landed just in front of its muzzle, then realized that it had not been struck or harmed, and slowly it inched forward to sniff the glowing object. Quickly identifying it as being food, the 'wolf practically inhaled the piece of kibble, then looked back toward the two Transformers, ears up.
"Toss the next one a little nearer," Ultra Rodimus whispered.
Every piece of kibble landed a little further away from the 'wolf. Slowly, it inched forward, closer and closer to the two Transformers. It took many hours, but eventually Shadow succeeded in coaxing the 'wolf close enough to very carefully take the kibble from her hand. The first time she tried to touch it, it cringed, almost flattening itself to the ground, but she kept her movement slow, offering it more kibble. Even so, it took her quite a while before she at last managed to brush her fingertips over the top of its head.
"Behind the ear is a small access panel," the Prime rumbled softly. "Open it slowly, and feel for a small series of chips. Right under them will be a small control panel with four connections. If Lightfoot is any example, one of those connections will be either loose or detached completely. As carefully as you can, reset it in place. That will reset the original programming, since cyber-wolves were originally meant as guards and pets. After that, it's up to the 'wolf if she wants to run away, or stay and become a pet."
"She?" Shadow whispered back, feeling for the panel.
"This 'wolf is a female. A fairly young one, from the look of her."
It took a bit of poking for Shadow to locate the connection and get it back into place. The 'wolf's optics flickered for a long moment. Then it looked straight at Shadow, as if considering. The femme watched it, waiting to see what it would do. Then, finally, the 'wolf took a step closer.
"She's chosen you," Ultra Rodimus murmured. "But she still needs a lot of training, as she's lived all her life running feral.
Shadow carefully reached out and began scratching behind the 'wolf's ears. Red optics dimmed, and the 'wolf leaned into the caress. A bright smile blossomed on the femme's face. For a long moment, she forgot there was another Autobot there. Until Ultra Rodimus made a startled sound, and she turned to look at him.
The Autobot commander was looking as the smaller mech animal that had appeared right in front of him. It was a turbo-fox, showing no sign of the wariness its kind usually had around Transformers of any faction. Having been the favored prey of the nobles during the Golden Age and even the early stages of the Great War had taught the 'foxes to avoid all contact with the dominant races of Cybertron. This one, apparently, had failed to get that memo. It stood in front of the Autobot commander, showing no nervousness or fear despite the fact that he was many times its size, and could very easily have killed it. Yellow optics watched him with curiousity and an intelligence he'd never seen in a turbo-fox before. Then it actually padded closer, sniffing at his arm and legs.
Grinning, Shadow handed him the container of kibble. He gave her a sideways look, then experimentally took out a single kibble and offered it to the 'fox. The small mech animal took it from him without hesitation, then stood up on its hind legs to stare him right in the face. Bemused, he stared back.
Wire whiskers twitched for a moment, and pointed ears flicked. Then the creature startled the much larger mech by hopping up onto his shoulders and sniffing at his audial plate. He tried to shoo it off, but the 'fox only jumped back up, hooking sharp metal claws into his reptile-skin coat.
"Looks like it's chosen you," Shadow told him between giggles.
Ultra Rodimus sighed. "This is going to be interesting..." He rose to his feet, the 'fox still clinging to his shoulder.
"I don't think you're going to be able to get rid of it," the femme observed. "It'd just weasel its way into the city and go looking for you."
"As far as I know, nobody has ever managed to tame a turbo-fox." He experimentally rubbed the 'fox's neck, and it leaned into his hand.
"First time for everything." Shadow stood up, keeping one hand on the shoulder of her 'wolf.
"True, true." Ultra Rodimus glanced at the 'fox again as if settled onto his shoulder, yellow optics half-closed, then shook his head in amazement. "We should be getting back now, before our respective mates come looking for us."
Shadow grinned. Then both turned back toward Autobase, leaving the darkness of the ruined city behind.
And that is that. She's-a finally done. The ending didn't turn out quite as I'd planned, but that's about par for the course, it seems...
Next time: A ruined complex from the days of the Quintesson Occupation and the Great Rebellion yields up an ancient secret. What does this mean for the war? Up next: "Awakening"