Disclaimer: I don't, have never and will never, hold any claim over the Transformers franchise. All writings hereonin, apart from my Author Notes, are merely for my own amusement and are not intended in any way to make money or break copyright laws.
Author Note: This doesn't even fit in canon, so don't bother trying. It should take place after the first scene of the '86 movie, but Optimus is dead after the first scene of the '86 movie HOMG. It was inspired by a discussion on Livejournal about the overuse of 'paperwork' in Transformers fanficton and is really nothing serious.
More Fragging Paperwork
The fleshies called it 'paperwork'. More often than not, the word was spat out with the same vehemence that one usually applied to the worst of insults.
Cybertronians had a word for it, too. While unpronounceable in the human tongue, it roughly translates to 'that frag we have to fill out when someone kicks the bucket'.
Optimus Prime narrowed his optics accusingly at the computer, which seemed to be mocking him silently from behind the safety of reinforced shatterproof screen. He hadn't done 'paperwork' for at least four million years – admittedly, he had been unconscious for that period, but it still counted as time that he had had to forget quite how to go about this business.
'Dear Mrs Ratchet...'
No, no, that sounds too human.
Starting the consolation letter was half the problem. Exposure to humans and severe lack of practise had taken their toll on the literacy of the great, heroic Autobot leader, who hit the backspace on the keyboard and started again. Consolation letters were never easy to write anyway, but he was struggling more than usual in the face of four of his greatest warriors falling to the Decepticons.
'Dear fembot who was associated with Ratchet...'
No, that's too impersonal...
The medic was missed, of course. He had been mourned and his body placed in the Autobot crypt. However, Prime now faced the daunting challenge of informing Ratchet's family of the loss – did Ratchet even have a family? It was much harder than expected, especially as, for some inexplicable reason, whenever Prime thought of his late friend, he was reminded very strongly of large dogs – great danes, to be precise.
Just what is a Scooby Snack, anyway?
'Dear Ratchet's womanbot...'
No. Just... no.
With a sigh of resigned frustration, Prime put Ratchet's commiseration letter to one side and attempted to start on that of the second of his fallen warriors.
Yes, that works. Right, that's the hard part out of the way. If only I knew Ratchet's girl's name...
'I regret to inform you that Ahnharrd perished in the course of carrying out his duty to the Autobot cause...'
Something was nagging in Prime's cerebro-circuitry. It was a persistent itch-like sensation that refused to go away even when he raised a metal hand to the spot and rubbed it absently. His blue optics scanned the short sentence he had just written and he realised immediately what the problem was.
Oh, frag, I'm even beginning to think in his accent...
But Ironhide's accent had been very pronounced, he thought to himself as he frantically backspaced the 'Ahnharrd' and replaced it with the proper spelling of the dead warrior's name.
Prime found himself envying the Decepticons. They probably never bothered themselves with something as pointless as 'paperwork', the fraggers. They were all too insane to care if someone died, and if they weren't then they were the ones doing the killing. Suddenly, the dark side was looking more appealing than ever.
'Ironhide served the Autobots loyally and will be sorely missed...'
Then there came the writer's block. Prime stared at the sentence, willing it to write itself. What should he put? Common sense told him that the only sane thing to write was about how wonderful Ironhide was, and how he had served the Autobot cause, fought heroically until the very end, where he had gone down in a blaze of glory.
Some blaze of glory. Having the side blown out of your starship and then being shot several times by some power-hungry lunatic with more testosterone than sanity doesn't sound very glorious to me.
Optimus Prime, as a rule, did not lie. He couldn't really write that Ironhide had died gloriously when he believed quite the opposite.
Ah, a fail-safe thing to write in letters like these was how inspiring the deceased had been, or memories of wonderful times spent together, that sort of thing.
Inspiring? He inspired the other Autobots to not be quite as old and decrepit and Southern as he was, certainly. And he was good at encouraging them to go into battle, but that might have been because they wanted to stop him threatening them with those liquid nitrogen squirters of his. And wonderful times? Most of those happened when we pumped him so full of energon that he couldn't tell his transistors from his arseplates. I can't put that in a letter about his virtues.
The heroic crusader for justice glared at the half-written letter with all the righteous fury of one so dreadfully wronged by the unthinking masterpiece of literature before him, feeling part of his spark wither away like a titanium moosebot that had had one too many of its ailerons frozen off.
Perhaps Ironhide's letter could wait until later, too. Who else was there...? Oh yes, Prowl.
Poor Prowl. He had been so overworked on Cybertron, and, after landing on Earth, his crowning moment before his death had been when he and Bluestreak had tried to take on a squadron of Decepticons by themselves and ended up having to be pulled from danger by Chip Chase, that human with wheels. Prowl had only performed as well as he did because Chip was controlling his body. Even Tracks had seen more action than Prowl, and, with the amount of time that the former spent preening, that was just embarrassing.
So, an existence in the background and then a brutal death at the hands of a sociopathic megalomaniac with extreme homicidal tendencies. Prowl must have really fragged off the powers that be.
At least there was a lot to say about him, so it shouldn't be so hard to write a letter for him as it was for Ratchet or Ahnhar – oh, slag it, Ironhide.
'Dear Mrs Prowl,
I regret to inform you that Prowl perished in the course of carrying out his duty to the Autobot cause...'
Frell. Dear Mrs Prowl? Jazz is 'Mrs Prowl' – unless that fiasco in the supply closet really was because Sunstreaker locked them in there for claiming he had a scratch on his paintwork.
Jazz knew all about Prowl's death, of course. He had been pretty torn up about it. He'd had a memorial ceremony and had then retreated into a grief that consisted of playing very bad music at very loud volumes, as though to voice to the world the unfairness of it all. It certainly was unfair. Poor Jazz. It would be even more unfair when he had to have his audios replaced after the high decibels he was exposing himself to caused internal rupturing.
All bad taste and worse jokes aside, Prime had had a long and gentle conversation with Jazz about Prowl, and he was relieved that his sub-commander seemed better for it. It was good that Jazz wasn't about to lose himself to depression. The Autobots just wouldn't be the same if he changed, if he stopped speaking because of this, if his wonderful unique voice was never heard again.
Anyway, 'Mrs Prowl' already knew about Prowl. That was almost a shame, because Prowl was the only deceased Autobot so far that Prime could actually think of something to write about. Irony was coming around to kick him in the neuro-circuitry again.
Feeling the slow, impending knowledge of certain demise creeping over him at the thought of what he still had left to do, Prime tried to convince himself that it was 'one down, three left, not that much really' as he discarded the commiseration letter about Prowl and turned his attention to the last deceased Autobot from that supply run.
Starting a letter with 'Dear Mrs Brawn' seemed a bit pointless. Brawn was not the type to have a womanbot, he would sooner have a large blunt cylindrical object (all the better for clobbering them thar Decepticons with, my dear).
'Dear whomever it may concern'
Yes, that seemed to be a decent enough way to start it. Good grief. Brawn was exceptionally hard to write about. How did you explain a small can of barely-contained testosterone and boisterous macho 'tough love' in respectful and compassionate words worthy of a epitaph? Perhaps Perceptor should write this particular letter. After all, he and Brawn got on famously.
Why couldn't I have warriors like Starscream to write about? I wouldn't mind killing him off to write some sad 'paperwork' about it.
On second thoughts, that wasn't such a great wish to have. Heck, even Megatron struggled with Starscream. The Decepticon warriors were a wide and varied bunch, and most of them were a few diodes short of a logic circuit. Starscream just put the 'fun' in 'fundamental genocide'.
At least Brawn didn't sound like a bolt-bat had got lodged in his vocal modifiers and chewed up half the circuitry on the way out.
Yes, that was just the thing to put in an epitaph. 'Brawn was a good warrior. He might have been a bit keen to kick keister, but at least his voice didn't sound stupid.' That would certainly go down a treat with whatever overly masculine associates that Brawn had had.
The paperwork was surely a Decepticon invention, created solely to carry out the purpose of causing his spark to die out of sheer frustration. It was working. Optimus Prime, the much-accredited leader of the heroic Autobot faction, let his optics wash blankly over the uncompleted sheets on the screen, his will to live ebbing away with each passing astrosecond.
Thank Primus for delegation. It was just one of those perks of being leader.
"Ultra Magnus," Prime called out to one of his loyal subordinates, "Could you look after this for me? My attention is, uh, urgently required elsewhere."
"Of course." The soldier stepped up to the screen, not registering the depths of despair that showed there. "What is it?"
"Paperwork." Optimus said, in a voice that sounded much more like a human cough than it needed to. Ultra Magnus apparently did not understand at first, giving the Autobot leader the chance he needed to slip carefully away.
There was a sound much like a sonic boom as Ultra Magnus realised his mistake. Somewhere, under the sea, on the ocean floor miles away, Megatron cursed as part of his crashed space cruiser caved inward, starting a minor tidal wave that destroyed his Super Weapon of the Week.
"P-Paperwork!?" Magnus cried out in horror as the true, mind-numbing comprehension finally dawned on him, threatening to engulf him and claim his soul as its prize. "But – but Prime! I can't deal with that now!"