Forever, My Father
Vaguely, I had a sense of myself. Or what I had once been. There were touches of having been someone, or something else, but in that vast golden pool, I cared not. I was close to Primus, and I was happy.
Or, I tried to make myself happy. There was a wrongness to my placement; a subtle twitch in what remained of my complete consciousness. I wasn't here naturally, and that dug into my essence.
I recall voices, or semblances of voices, pushing past me, over me, around me. Calling out to me. They spoke words I did not understand, or I could not understand them anymore. And then there was blazing heat; not of the glorious Primus-warmth, but of a searing, pain-filled fury that I had not felt since … since some time. Millennia, seconds, eternity?
Slowly, awareness came upon me. I felt myself stretch out, ooze into places along an unfamiliar plane. Senses: audio, touch, taste, scent, and lastly, visual. Who had I once been, that the landscape before me unfolded in rays of black and white?
My head felt too large, overly so. So much information was being filtered in, that I cried out, fearful that I might burst. Part of me yearned for the tranquility of Primus, but the other part remembered how wrong that had been. Hard vices clamps about my exterior, voices harsh and so sweetly-low washed over me. I sobbed, straining against the bonds that held this awful body to the table; strained against the pain and the futility of life.
"It is in flux! I told you, Autobot fool, that it would not work a second time! His mind will backwash into the dimension we drew it from."
"Oh, do be quiet!" Softer. "Ratchet … Ratchet, my dear friend. Can you hear me?"
I could hear; more-so, I could understand. In this ooze that was my consciousness, I strained to extend it, to reply. Something contracted, something hissed. I recall a mouth, I recall a voice box. "… ssszzhhhssssssss …"
That self-same voice, so gentle: "Again, Ratchet, just once more."
Ratchet? My mind locked onto that word as if it were a lifeline. A thousand blazing paths lit up inside my head, each setting off a chain reaction that flared my soul to existence. A hand pressed onto my chest, and I sat bolt upright, breaking every bond on my body.
I saw. I remembered.
Shells, former friends, comrades. Soldiers. They lay in various states all around the laboratory. Perceptor sat by my side, quietly explaining, in plain terms (for once) what had happened. I was amazed, horrified, slack-jawed by the end of it all. We had won? Finally? Our sacrifices had not been in vain, it seemed (once I had gotten over the shock of how terrible the carnage had been).
My body was stiff, almost completely so. How strange it was, to awaken to a new form, after being accustomed to the old one for so long. But in a strange twist of fate, or a quirk of Perceptor's humor, I looked very much like I had on Earth. And I had to thank him for that.
We sat there for a long time, just catching up. I knew he was just letting me get used to being alive again, and I appreciated his patience. I was too newly reborn to have much of my old acerbic wit, and I think Perceptor was a little taken aback by my affability.
Time passed and I slowly walked around the room, exploring. Beyond me lay the new shells for my friends. Prowl was next, they told me. At first, I was upset at the presence of the Quintesson, but I suppose if it weren't for him, I wouldn't be here, and still wallowing in that wrongness. He kept to himself, and that was fine with me.
A day and a half into my personal rebirth, Perceptor approached me. I was sitting at the counter in the lab, watching the latest news vids from a glowing Cybertron.
"Do you feel like having a visitor?" He leaned over my shoulder, respectful.
"Who?" I spun around, a little too wildly. "Optimus?"
Perceptor gave a small smile. "No, but he does want to see you. It's Solarflare."
My cortex spun. Solarflare? Little Solarflare? I pushed myself to my feet, fueled by an instinct I had long repressed. Perceptor held my arm; it didn't take much. "Just wait. I'll get her."
"No." I tried to pull free, but my servos were still new.
"Sit." The Quintesson intoned, wrapping one thin tentacle around my upper arm.
I turned. "Get your slaggin' paws off of me," I growled.
Spinning around, I saw her. At the far end of the laboratory was Solarflare, all grey and black and white. She stood with her wings low, hands clenched nervously at her sides. Suddenly, I understood; I knew then how she had felt, waking up after deactivation in a new body. A new mind. A new soul.
"Flare." I shook off the slimy grip of the Quintesson and held out my arms.
And she was filling them, my little Solarflare. Her head pressed into my new neck lines, and I could feel the sweetness of the fluid that fell from her optics as she cried. "I can't believe it," she sobbed, her talons clutching at my shiny white plating. "You're alive. I thought I'd never see you again."
I held her tight, my voice box incapable of anything more than a soothing hum.
Her talons wrapped about my shoulders, tighter. A long, shuddering sigh wracked her body. "After … after you died, I didn't know … what I could do … how I could go on without you. I could barely carry on. Mirage … he … everyone … was leaden."
"Flare," I managed to whisper.
She lifted her tear-streaked face, and I gently brushed the wetness from her sharp planes, a face I had had a hand in crafting. Could I ever tell her how much she meant to me? More than a Transformer and its creation could, or should, share? I had never told her before, but the others had always made fun at me – before I threw a laser pen at their heads, or wrenched a limb back into place.
"Don't leave me again, Ratchet …" her gold optics pleaded. " … Father."
I stared at her, shocked to the core of my reborn spark. My fingers slipped on her shoulders; I quickly drew them tight. Gently, I lowered my head, and did something I wish I had done so many ages ago. I kissed the top of her crested head, softly. "I'm home," I murmured. " … daughter." And held her as I had longed to.
"I suppose that makes you my father-in-law," I heard someone drawl casually, culturally, urbanely. "How amusing."
I looked up, and saw that insufferable spy smirking by the door. "You watch it, tread-face," I snarled, feeling my own long-lost irascible personality resurfacing. "I'm back, and that means you're not safe anymore. There'll be some shaping up here, for sure."
Mirage grinned. "Sure … Dad."
In my arms, Flare was laughing through her tears. And as I looked at her, I had to smile, too. I was alive again, and I had my family, all of them, around me – some waiting to be reborn, too. Now, to see what this new Cybertron was like.