Thanks for all the reviews!
Also I apologize for this chapter's length. It ended up so long D:
Don't own. Never will. Plot and plot devices are mine though.
On with the fic
There was silence in the common room.
"You know what?" Trailbreaker began with a thoughtful tone, as if just coming to the conclusion of some already widespread knowledge. "We have a Decepticon in our Med bay."
"No, Really? Thanks for the info. I didn't notice the green degenerate with the large purple Decepticon insignia on his shoulder," Cliffjumper spat sounding like he had a very tenuous grasp on his temper.
Most of the bots in the Ark, minus the officers and Mirage, where having an impromptu meeting in the common room. They were all unsettled with having a Decepticon at the Ark, particularly since it was one they had never seen before. All of them, except for Sunstreaker and Sideswipe who were moping on the couch, were huddled around the table they usually used for poker nights .
"I think the real question here, my fellow mechs, is really why do we have a Decepticon in our medical bay in the first place?" Smokescreen inquired.
"It's because we're Autobots and as Autobot's are obligated to be moral morons," Huffer growled.
"Indeed. It's in our programming. Be kind hearted to the prisoners of war at all times, even when it comes back to bite us in the skid plate." Windcharger nodded in agreement.
"So, what now?" Trailbreaker broke the silence. "Do we keep him?"
The reaction was instantaneous and Cliffjumper jumped to his feet, appalled. "Hell no! He's a Decepticon!"
"Yeah. Why in the Well of Spark's name did we even bring that thing here in the first place? Couldn't we have just left it on the battlefield?" Slingshot wondered out loud.
"Alas, my good mech," Sideswipe piped up from his spot on the couch. "That wouldn't be kosher with the Autobot code of honor."
"But we're at war. It's our job to off as many 'Cons as we can! What makes this case different?!" Cliffjumper raved.
"I dunno. He's injured and Ironhide caught him. There must be some rule about it somewhere that if you save your enemy, accidentally or not, then he's stuck under your protection until either you give him back to his faction or he stabs you in the back. Whichever comes first," Skydive said softly.
"Stupid ethical code," Slingshot groused.
"Where is Ironhide anyway?" Bumblebee asked, noticing that the red mechhad basically disappeared the second they got back to the Ark.
"In the wash rack. He's trying to burn off the 'con cooties'." Smokescreen snickered.
Skids cleared his throat loudly, less because he had to and more just to get everyone's attention. "We're getting off topic again. Really, what are we going to do with our little 'guest'? I mean according to Ironhide, it-he dropped out of the sky. That just speaks unusual circumstances."
"More the reason to dump him off a cliff," Inferno growled. "We don't know where it's been. Probably carryin' some kinda virus."
"Well we can't exactly slap a bow on him and drop him at the Decepticon's front door step," Skids reasoned.
"Yeah. Actually that sounds like a pretty good idea," Smokescreen agreed.
"Ya know what. He's here. We might as well use him for something useful. Like for negotiations or an exchange or something. He could be leverage I guess," Sky Dive reasoned.
Slingshot scoffed. "Right. Like the Decepticons will just drop everything they're doing for some random foot soldier of theirs. Come on. We tried doing that when we caught Starscream, their second in command, and they barely twitched a servo."
"Primus, don't remind me," Powerglide's voice piped up, laced with disgust. "I was one of the guys guardin' his cell. By the end we were basically begging Megatron to just take him back."
The Autobots began to digress off the topic of the Decepticon "Prisoner of War" they had and instead went on about the obnoxious, evils that were seekers.
Sideswipe, one who'd normally wiggle himself into the heart of the conversation, throwing in cheeky remarks and sarcastic comments, had been unusually silent, but no one had noticed. Only his brother who sat silently by his side as the others continued to argue, joke and be loud in general behind them knew something was up.
He had a bad feeling, had that bad feeling since his brother accidentally shocked him earlier the previous day actually. He just didn't know why.
"Sunstreaker?" Sideswipe whispered under his breath.
"What?" Sunstreaker replied in an equally hushed tone, ignoring the din behind them.
"I'm getting that feeling," his brother elaborated in a low voice.
"You'll have to be more specific. You get lots of feelings."
"I'm getting the one that's telling me somehow this whole thing is involuntarily our fault."
"Lots of things are involuntarily our fault," Sunstreaker chimed in coming off rather bluntly. "Still, I know what you mean. I'm getting that feeling too."
The two sat in silence.
Optimus had been standing in front of the medical room for at least fifteen minutes, glaring at the closed entrance like it was the inanimate object's fault for everything.
"Did you get your new arrival yet?"
Those words would not leave Prime's processor. Ever since Alpha Trion had contacted him he had felt uneasy, and not long after that enigmatic message they had found a strange Decepticon that had fallen out of the sky.
As if his job as Prime wasn't already difficult enough, what with the ancient, intergalactic battle he had going on against the most wicked Tyrant on this half of the universe. It only had freedom as the Cybertronian race knew it on the line.
And then Alpha went and sent him some random mech, a Decepticon no less and Optimus didn't even know why.
Scratch that. A bartender he didn't know sent him some random Decepticon. Alpha Trion merely relayed the message.
He didn't even know how the green and blue mech was sent there. They weren't anywhere near a space bridge and he seemed much too injured to have gotten himself there. Alpha Trion had cryptically informed Optimus that two of the Prime's own soldiers assisted in delivering the mech to their area (which was something he'd have to address his troops about later.)
Optimus had tried contacting Alpha Trion to get him to explain the situation. Since a comlink didn't have a strong enough signal to reach Cybertron he had to send a pulse wave, however the older Cybertronian had yet to reply.
Prime sighed as his thoughts became more muddled.
A gruff voice dissipated said thoughts. "The Hell, Optimus? Why the frag are you just standing there?"
Prime blinked and realized that Ratchet was standing in the now opened med bay entrance. He was frantically waving his arm in front of Optimus's optics, trying to get the commander's attention.
"Hello, Ratchet," Optimus greeted calmly.
"Damn it, Prime, don't space out like that on me. I thought your cerebral circuits were freezing up again. You want me cutting into your head? Primus knows there's probably a lot of junk up there that needs cleaning out, anyway." Ratchet jabbed at his commander, though in good nature.
"Ha. And ha." Optimus gave his medic a flat look before adding a brusque, "That only happened once."
Ratchet scoffed. "That's what you got for pulling six nights in a row without rest. You should've listened to me."
"Yes. I suppose." He paused. "How's Mirage?" Optimus questioned.
Ratchet sent a distracted look back to the medical bay where the spy was, his look clearly one of exhaustion. "He's been better. It's like I told Hound though, he's one lucky sonuva bitch to have not been off-lined right then and there on the battlefield. That fusion blast hit the one spot in his chest with the least vitals, but there were still some nasty burns. I had loads of fun scrapping those out." Sarcasm dripped in his voice.
"That's excellent news." Prime nodded. It really was great news. He cared a lot for everyone on his team, handpicked them himself even. And since being on Earth their little ragtag group of mechs had gotten even closer to each other then they had ever been before (even though the arguments and random brawls that broke out seemed to say otherwise). It was always great news to hear that the whole team had survived to see another day together.
Still, even though they hadn't lost anyone since they crashed the Ark that didn't necessarily scratch out the possibility that someone could be killed at almost any moment in battle, but that thought and concept had become more alien with every year that passed. With every year that everyone survived to see.
The wear of time had dulled the memories of a time where the Autobots constantly lost comrades in battle and Optimus could no longer picture any of his core soldiers being off-lined.
Even though the likelihood of all of them surviving the war was slim to none.
He had a feeling that the first death that they'd end up facing, when the first mechin their little ragtag group would get killed, regardless of who it was, would be taken unusually hard. More-so then any of their comrades' deaths on Cybertron.
Because on Cybertron the troops rarely got to know each other in such a manner, or interact with such camaraderie as the Autobots on Earth did.
Sometimes Optimus didn't know if that was a good or a bad thing.
"Prime? Prime? Optimus? Primus fraggit, did your circuits really fritz on me this time? Damn, where'd I put that electric saw?"
Prime swiftly snapped out of his thoughts and strode into the med bay (to get away from Ratchet and his chainsaw, ironically enough). "That…won't be necessary." He relayed quickly.
Ratchet shot a mock scowl at his leader and abandoned his search for the surgical instrument. "You know, it's a real wonder that you survive in battle with all your spacing out."
"I have lots of dumb luck." a mischievous glint lit up Optimus's sky blue optics.
Ratchet's own Cerulean pair sent him a longsuffering look. "There should be emphasis on that dumb part sometimes."
Good ol' Ratchet. He was never afraid to tell you off regardless of who you are. Optimus liked that quality. It was refreshing to be treated like just another mech instead of as the supreme awe-inspiring commander of an army sometimes.
Still, the medic seemed grumpier then usual and Prime had a hunch on why.
Ratchet wordlessly walked out of the doorway and made his way past Prime to a recharge berth that had been modified for medical use. Prime quietly shadowed his steps until he was right behind the medic.
Ratchet started speaking softly, "I had to put restraints on him as a precaution, just in case he's a particularly violent one. Seems silly since he's so injured, but the last time I had to work on a Decepticon he woke up in the middle of surgery and put me in a headlock."
Prime had to picture that. The image of the surly medic in a headlock was oddly funny even the actual scenario probably hadn't been at the time. "That sounds rather dangerous though I'm not sure for who. You or your patient?"
"I beat that Con over the head with a spark monitor until he was unconscious again and I could finish repairing the fuselage leak." A bitter smile rose on Ratchet's face. "Wouldn't you know it though, my other patient, an Autobot named Cave Deal, shot him dead in the same fuselage I repaired a few days later." He paused. "Sorry Prime. This isn't what you came here for."
"It's alright, Ratchet," Prime assured softly. The Medic returned the look but it was quickly replaced with a harder, more professional expression.
"Anyway, this mech is in a pretty deep stasis lock. He probably won't wake up until I get him out of it."
Prime looked at the broken body on the table.
Strapped onto the berth was the small Decepticon that had, in the most literal sense of the term's usage, dropped in on them.
They had only taken him back to the Ark because they didn't really have much of a choice. By the time Ironhide had brought him to Prime the Decepticons were already gone, and it wasn't the Autobot way to leave a lone, injured mech with those circumstances on the field. He was also brought to the Ark because, though the others didn't know this yet, Optimus was curious if the battered Decepticon had anything to do with what Alpha Trion said not moments before. The timing had been rather coincidental with the message he received after all.
Anyway, said little mech was looking to be in a much better condition then he had been in earlier (where it looked like he gotten into a fight with an army of lawnmowers and lost horribly). His minor scrapes and cracks had been welded shut, Ratchet had reconstructed the most basic, skeletal frame of his missing arm, he had wires hooked up to a port in his right temple that were gauging the status of his freshly mended head injury and, while his side casing was still missing, most of the damage that had been done there was fixed and under control.
He still looked like total crap though if the jagged welding marks, the scraped blue and green paint job and various scuffs and dents were taken into account. Still, you could only do so much at a time and Ratchet had gotten the big damage out of the way. The medic had simply decided to let the mech's self repair system run around the patch jobs before he completely finished with the grueling minor repairs and the aesthetic-maintenance session the kid still desperately needed.
Well, he'd only get to that point if the Autobots didn't give him back to his faction first.
"So," Prime started out resolutely. This was why he came to the medical bay in the first place. "How are the repairs coming along?"
Optimus watched as Ratchet's shoulders tensed. He quickly relaxed and shot a tired look over his shoulder at the Prime. It easily read as are-you-serious? "Have you ever tried repairing a multifunctional relay servo with rocks before?"
Optimus's optics flickered. "I can't say I have but it sounds rather difficult."
"You have no idea and this job was worse." Ratchet absentmindedly reached out and flexed the skeletal wrist he built for the mech, testing to see how well the joint worked. "Somehow I managed to get him stable. He's not out of the woods but at least he's probably seeing some gaps in the trees."
"Were his injuries really that bad?" It was a stupid question, Optimus knew, but he wanted to hear how Ratchet would respond.
"Despite the fact that his left arm was wrenched off by something, he had a hole in his side big enough to stick my fist in, and he was suffering from a potentially dangerous cerebral bleed, his injuries weren't the issue. I've repaired mechs with worse damage then this and never had the same amount of trouble." Ratchet, with gentleness few knew he possessed, set the skeletal hand down and turned to face his leader.
"Then what was the problem?" Optimus asked with earnest concern.
Ratchet crooked his finger. "Come here and take a look." He turned back to face his unusual patient and bent over to closer examine the Decepticon's uncovered side. Optimus complied with the request and ghosted next to the CMO.
"If you ignore the casing damage and just take a look at his structure, you see that everything about him is contradictory."
"What do you mean?"
"This." Ratchet motioned toward the exposed inner workings of the mech's side. "See this mechanism? The thing attached to the engine cowl right here is the axial-flow compressor."
"Alright." Optimus nodded despite the fact that he had no idea what Ratchet was talking about. His medical knowledge was basic at best. "What was wrong with it?"
"Nothing and that's what bothered me. They don't make this kind of part anymore."
Prime looked at the medic in surprise. A lot was disguised in those few words. "What do you mean they don't make this part anymore?"
"This component hasn't been used since the beginning of the Second Great war eons ago."
Optimus glanced down at the stasis locked Decepticon. "Just how old is this mech?"
"Ah, Hell." Ratchet scowled, straightening to a stand. "I've done every scan I could think of on him. He's young, Prime. The chronometer scans showed that he's probably barely out of his primary years. I'll even throw one out there and say he barely has a millennium under his belt. However if you take that information in comparison to the ancient parts he's built with it doesn't make sense. The structure and pieces in his body are both archaic and obsolete to us now, but this kid looks fresh out of the factory."
"What are you implying Ratchet?" Optimus had an inkling that he already knew the answer.
"Ironhide's body is more up to date then this kid's. That's what was giving me trouble with the repairs. None of my tools were really compatible with his design. These parts and components he's built with would lead me to believe that this mech would have to have been built during the first Great War."
"That's impossible! If that were the case he'd be old as Alpha Trion! He's just a…child."
"And that's where the second issue comes in," Ratchet started sullenly.
Cybertronians, before the wars, originally started the first thousand years of their life in small, weak bodies so they'd have time to learn about their world and themselves with out causing damage to the world around them. They wouldn't be able to wreak the same havoc they'd be able to if they were in a bigger form.
However, since the wars a practice that ashamedly both sides did, even though the Autobots did not condone the act, was created.
It was the act of killing the young ones before they were old enough to carry a gun or protect themselves.
That's where the concept of Fledglings came in. Instead of a young Cybertronian spending the younger portion of their lives in a smaller weak form, their spark would be built straight into a body closer to that of a full grown Cybertronian. That way they had some chance in defending themselves against attack.
But here, in front of Optimus Prime and Ratchet, mechs that had been sparked as Fledglings, they had an unusual case.
"If I've done my homework correctly then I believe that before the first War Cybertron had a system of upgrades called the Juvenile steps where'd they ease a small newborn spark into a larger body as they learned more about themselves and their world. There were four of them, each one separated approximately by 300 years on average. Our unidentified mech, given his body form, probably is in his third upgrade, the stage right before what we would consider a Fledgling size. I'd call it the Cybertronian equivalent of Spike's age, maybe."
"If he was built that long ago that'd mean he'd have to be millions of years behind on his final upgrades. If he really was created in that time then he'd be older then Ironhide." Optimus stopped and thought hard. "Could he have been preserved with Cryogenics?"
"No," Ratchet nipped that thought in the bud curtly. "Even in Cryogenics there'd be a residual indicator left over that showed how old he was. No matter how perfectly something may appear to be preserved, the wear of time would still show somehow. This mech has not existed that long."
"I find this hard to believe." Optimus was skeptical.
"Me too. Now, the next question is where the fragging hell did he come from? Ironhide said he dropped out of the sky?" Ratchet sent Optimus a questioning look. He hadn't seen the mech drop in, him being busy with the task of saving Mirage's life and all, but Ironhide assured them that had been the case.
"We've seen stranger things," Optimus answered.
"Yeah, I guess we have." Ratchet went back to giving the lowdown of his abnormal patient. "Now, if these palm stabilizers and the boosters in his legs are any indication I'm going to assume he's a flyer. Not a seeker though, his design is too small and too weak to be one of those fraggers. Still the injury on his back makes me think he had aircraft wings, but they were ripped off of him in one way or another."
Prime winced. That couldn't have felt too nice.
"So I'm thinking as a flyer," Ratchet continued with his theory, "there's the possibility that he was on route to meet with the Decepticon forces and ran into some space debris which set him off course. That could have caused him to crash land."
"And he just happened to 'crash land' at our exact coordinates," Prime started doubtfully, "without his wings, looking like he got mauled by sharkticons," he finished in a flat tone.
"Damn it, Prime! I'm just throwing out theories. I haven't a frakin' clue, and I won't until he wakes up, and tells us. If he doesn't try attacking us first." Even though the Doctor in Ratchet wouldn't allow him to snub a patient in need of medical attention just because of their faction it didn't mean he'd have to particularly like working on a Decepticon.
"I'm sorry Ratchet but this is rather unsettling."
"Of course it is. He dropped out of the freaking sky." Ratchet threw his arms into the air and stomped over to where he kept his medical computer. "And now I'm going to show something even more disturbing." He started typing.
"Just what I needed," Prime responded evenly.
"You'll just love this. I was able to download his security number while I was fixing that head injury of his and decided to do a background check."
Every military mech had a security number that held their basic records and information, similar in the way human beings had social security or birth certificates though not quite as complicated. They were more like military dog tags then anything.
"Doesn't that go against the patient's privacy?" Optimus asked peacefully, masking his uncertainty.
"Not if I'm using them as medical records." Ah, the loophole. Ratchet typed in the number and a file came up.
"It says here he was one of 4,200 protoforms built in Tarn at the manufacturing facility 3700-4. His design is based on prototype form type 147 B with minor custom modifications. It doesn't appear that he has any specific creators registered under his creation date so I'll hazard a guess and say he was just churned out as your run of the mill conveyor belt bot. Sounds like a normal and average creation but tell me, what's wrong this picture?" Ratchet scowled.
Prime spotted the discrepancy right away. "Tarn? Tarn and Vos destroyed each other with photon missiles. There are no active sparking facilities in those areas any longer."
"Yeah and that happened thousands of Orns ago too. Hell, I was just a young bot when it happened. Sentinel was still Prime." Ratchet careened his head back to look at the Decepticon. "And he, if his internal clock is correct, is approximately 936 years old. Nowhere near old enough to have been created in Tarn before it was destroyed."
"So his age and creation are contradictory."
"And he fell out of the sky," Prime added as an afterthought. Couldn't forget that little detail, after all.
"Yes." Ratchet all but rolled his optics.
"I need to question him," Prime decided with certainty. "That's the only way we'll figure out where he came from and what he's doing here. For all we know he could be part of some Decepticon plot. You can never be too cautious." Optimus stopped, reflected on how much he sounded like Red Alert in that moment, and decided that he needed a vacation.
"I figured you'd want to. I already have him hooked up to a lie detector." Ratchet pointed to one of the wires, a small yellow and black striped one, attached to the mech's temple. There was a small, flat monitor with a glowing blue line running across the screen propped up next to the injured mech's berth. "If he's telling the truth the Polygraph's line will stay flat. If he's not, it'll spike. Trust me. This machine could catch Starscream in a lie."
The Prime looked at Ratchet in surprise. "This seems a bit early. Is his condition ready for questioning?"
"I've repaired him enough to pull him out of stasis right now if you want. He would've waken up already, if only briefly, if I didn't have him on so many neural buffers to keep him in stasis. It'd probably be easier to question him like this anyway and I need to see if that head injury affected the way he's functioning at some point. I can only really do that when he's conscious."
"Are you sure that'd be ok?"
"It's not like you're making him run a marathon." Ratchet would never make a patient do something, Decepticon or not, if it would compromise his or her health. Optimus knew he could trust Ratchet's judgment.
"I'd like that. There are some things that of recent have been bothering me."
Ratchet nodded. "Don't over exert him though or I'll kick your aft. The worst is out of the way, but he's still hurt. And Con or no, I have a reputation as a medic to uphold and straining my patients with interrogation is not what I want on my record."
"I'm only going to ask him a few things, just to figure out how he got here really. Besides, better it be I interrogating him then say, Ironhide."
Ratchet let out a laugh. "You've got that right. Hide's paranoid enough from just catching the mech." He walked to a machine the Decepticon was hooked up to and began shutting off the neural buffers. "Alright, some things you should know. He sustained head injuries. The scans I ran said his cerebral cortex was fine but regardless his mind may be somewhat scrambled so be careful what you ask. Keep your questions simple. He'll be out of it. Also he might panic slightly, or a lot, when he wakes because he can't move because of the restraints, and he won't be able to see. I had to shut his optical sensors off so his cerebral repair system could work more efficiently."
"I understand. Just one more thing before you turn him on."
"If he happens to be some Decepticon super project, breaks free of his restraints and tries strangling me in headlock, could you toss me a crowbar or something?" Prime's requested gravely, voice deceptively serious sounding.
Ratchet chortled. "I'll be sure to do that." With that he shut off the Decepticon's last neural buffer, ran the stasis unlocking program and walked to the other side of the room to watch the grilling from afar.
There was the whirring of the Con's dormant systems coming to life. Then there was motion, the simplest twitch of movement from his uninjured arm. Optimus patiently waited.
The green mech made a groggy noise. The neural buffers had done their basic job and he probably couldn't feel much pain, just numbness. The mech tried moving ever so slightly but the restraints restricted his motion. The Decepticon gave up moving with out much of a fuss. He was probably too exhausted to anyway.
More awake, the mech tilted his head slightly to the left, then slightly to the right. His brow knitted in confusion. Prime guessed the confusion was because he couldn't see.
"Where-?" The young Decepticon croaked. His voice was barely above a whisper. "What?" he questioned a little louder, and his voice was a little deeper then Prime had been expecting given his form.
The mech continued to 'look' around in confusion. Optimus decided to make himself known.
"So, you're awake," Optimus stated with ambiguity in his voice. The Decepticon went rigid and tilted his head in Prime's general direction. His optics, they had been an in-your-face fire engine red Optimus remembered, were almost black and unseeing. "You are currently in an Autobot medical bay aboard the battleship Ark."
"Autobot?" The mech parroted, slowly gathering his senses from the fog of stasis.
"So you're Cybertronian too?" the mech questioned a bit nervously.
"Yes." Prime replied, somewhat glad it didn't appear like the mech was going to break free of his restraints and attack him anytime soon. That wouldn't have been much fun to deal with.
The small mech relaxed considerably after hearing that Optimus was Cybertronian. Optimus thought it was odd how trusting the 'Con was being but figured it was just because he wasn't completely free of the after effects of stasis. "Do you understand your situation?"
The 'Con's lips tightened to a straight line. "You said medical bay…I'm injured then? Is that why I can't see?"
That wasn't entirely the response Prime was expecting. He had been expecting something more along the lines of "Autobot scum! You'll never get anything out of me! When I break free I'm going to rip your spark out!" or something of the sort.
The little mech was a Decepticon and therefore was technically a prisoner of war. He would've figured the Con would be more concerned about that tidbit of knowledge. "Yes. You had a heavy cerebral bleed which our medic managed to fix. We had to shut off your optical functions temporarily so your self repair program could run more effectively."
The mech nodded. "Thank you for fixing me."
Well if that wasn't the dang most polite Decepticon Optimus had ever spoken too, and he had only been conscious for a minute or two. Those most of been some strong neural buffers…
"You're welcome," Optimus replied, though somewhat awkwardly. He stood in quiet for a brief moment longer before starting again with a tone that held subtle authority, "Alright... I'm going to be honest with you. You are not in a very good position right now. However, given your unusual situation we may be able to work something out and get you back to your faction with out many complications. I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to ask you some questions and I want you to be truthful. You're hooked to a polygraph so we'll know if you're lying. Understand?"
"Yes, Sir?" The 'Con answered compliantly though with confused undertones in his voice.
'He called me Sir,' Prime noted dully. "I understand you're injured so I'll try to keep my questions as simple as possible. If you start to blackout or feel unusual pain, tell me and my Chief Medical Officer will take care of it." Prime shot a look back at Ratchet who nodded in confirmation.
The green and blue mech made a weak nodding motion.
"Well, I'll start with something easy. Could you tell me your name?" Optimus asked calmly.
"My name is Valence, Sir," Valence answered respectfully.
"Valence." Prime tried the name out. "Alright. Now, Valence. Do you know anyone by the name of Alpha Trion?" Might as well ask the things that were bugging him the most first.
"I can't say that I do, Sir."
"Alright." So that was scratched out. Then again Alpha Trion said that a bartender chose a mech so, "Have you been in any bars lately?"
"Er…I don't believe so, Sir. I just got my Third upgrade and there hasn't been an opportunity," Valence answered somewhat hesitantly.
Optimus blinked and realized he had probably sounded like a complete loon in asking that. Ratchet was probably looking at him weird too but at least that proved the medic's theory about Valence as far as the Juvenile steps went. "So what do you do, Valence?"
"I am designated a Decepticon under the Cybertronian Resistance Alliance's military."
Discomfited, Optimus walked closer and sat down on the stool that was conveniently placed next to the berth. He had never heard of a Cybertron resistance alliance but remembered what Ratchet had said. 'He sustained head injuries. His mind may be somewhat scrambled so be careful what you ask. "Do you know how you got here? What were your reasons for coming to Earth?"
"I'm sorry?" Valence asked, seemingly confused. "I don't know where here is. Is Earth a new city?"
"Earth is different planet."
That seemingly shocked the other mech. "How'd I get here? I've never left Cybertron before." He sounded panicked.
It looked as if things were going to be more difficult then Prime had hoped. The more questions he had the other answer the more confusing the situation got. Prime shot a brief glance at the polygraph and saw that it was still running a steady line. Valence was telling the truth.
"I don't know, Valence. That's what we're trying to find out," Prime reassured with a steady tone. Valence dipped his head feebly as a reply, still acting unusually obedient for a Decepticon who was technically a POW.
"So, Valence, you're a military mech?"
"Yes, Sir. I'm a Private first class and was under the leadership of the Autobot Grit Haul. He was the one that led my unit in battle." That was quite the bomb to drop.
Ratchet from afar somehow tripped over himself and almost went sprawling. Optimus remained stationary and merely blanched. The lie detector was still not making any notion of showing that the pine green 'Con was being dishonest.
After regaining his composure Ratchet sent Prime a look and mouthed, "What in the hell was a Decepticon doing under the leadership of an Autobot?" Prime shrugged.
This little interrogation was not going as planned.
However Prime decided not to address the abnormality of Valence's words directly and rolled with it. "I noticed you used past tense when referring to this Grit Haul. Did something happen? We're you reassigned. Did you do something to be discharged?"
"N-no, Sir." The mech's voice cracked. "Grit Haul was KIA."
"Killed in Action?"
"Yes, Sir. He was a great mech though."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Optimus paused. "Valence, would you mind if I asked why were you, a Decepticon, under the leader ship of an Autobot?" Maybe the Decepticon was a deserter. That would be an explanation.
"I don't believe I understand your question, Sir." The mech's voice fluctuated slightly with fatigue.
Prime heaved a sigh. Of coarse he wouldn't get a direct response. That would be too easy.
Optimus tried to keep it uncomplicated while still getting an answer. "What does being a Decepticon mean to you?"
The Decepticon didn't even need to think about his answer. "It means I was sparked as a mech created for militaristic use instead of a bot of burden like the Autobot brand."
That was interesting. "So Decepticons and Autobots…You don't consider them factions?"
"Of course not, Sir. They're just our designations of use." Valence paused. "I thought that was common knowledge."
Optimus shot Ratchet a confused look and Ratchet replied with an equally lost shrug.
"I'm just trying to keep questions simple. You were injured remember? We need to see how your memory is faring," Optimus lied, cleverly. Valence bought it and gave a weak smile. "So back to your military job. As a PFC what were your duties?"
"It was nothing special, Sir. My designation was a runner. I mostly carried messages and occasionally was a code breaker if no one better was around. I never saw much combat."
"What about the rest of your unit?"
He hesitated. "Killed in action as well, Sir."
That remark made Optimus blink. "How, exactly?"
"…I don't remember, Sir." The small mech paused, looking quite out of it. "If you don't mind me asking, what's your name, Sir?"
That caught Optimus off guard. It had been so out of the blue, but then he realized how unusually trusting the small mech had been to this point and figured it wasn't atypical to want to know who it was you were being interrogated by, if just to settle the mind somewhat (Though Prime had to admit, as far as interrogation went this was probably the easiest and most laidback, if not confusing, one ever).
He gave Valence a long hard look deciding whether or not it would be smart to reply considering his rank in the Autobots and the other's faction but then he figured he'd tell the kid if only to see how the other reacted. So far the little Decepticon was not acting as a Decepticonshould, or would normally in that situation. "My name is Optimus Prime."
Prime waited for a response, waited for the small Decepticon to cringe in disgust or fear at hearing his name. What happened was a bit different.
"That's rather interesting, Optimus Prime Sir," Valence said thoughtfully. "I wasn't aware anyone else besides Nova held the title of Prime."
"Nova Prime?" That honestly surprised Optimus. Nova Prime had been the Prime before Sentinel Prime, his own predecessor. "You were being led under Nova Prime?" he repeated for emphasis.
"Nova Prime and the Lord High Protector: Gloryseer."
Prime remembered his history lessons well. "Gloryseer was a Decepticon."
"Yes. He is," Valence replied unenergetically.
Prime mulled it over. Valence, the strange mech that fell out of the sky, claimed to have been under the command of two mechs who had been dead for millions of years. Conversely the history wasn't matching up either. Those two mechs were never allies. In fact they had spent their lifetimes with the soul purpose of eradicating the other.
Optimus came to an odd and somewhat discomforting conclusion. "So the Autobots and Decepticons were allied?"
Out of his peripheral vision he saw Ratchet gape.
"Of course we are, Sir," Valence responded. Optimus noted the usage of present tense. "We are all Cybertronian aren't we?"
For some reason that offhand comment stabbed deep into Optimus's spark but he continued with his questioning. "You said something about combat earlier. Who were you fighting against?"
"Quintessons," the 'Con answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the World. "They attacked our planet centuries ago. You're a Prime, right, Sir? Weren't you aware of that?"
"My crew and I have been away from Cybertron for a very long time." That much was the truth. "How were the combined forces faring?"
"Against all odds we were winning." A tired but fond smile played over the Con's lips before dropping into a frown. "Something went wrong though."
"I don't know. We had just driven them off. All we had to do was rebuild Cybertron but- I'm not really sure."
"Valence, I need you to try and remember," Optimus urged firmly. "I don't think you are fully aware of your situation here. We need to understand your circumstances as best as we can if we're to help you and sort all of this out. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Sir." Valence answered though it became evident that he truly didn't understand his situation: A Decepticon in Autobot hold. "Cybertron- I believe the sky was red. There was fire in the distance, that's why I think. But something else was wrong… with the sky, I mean."
"What was wrong with the sky, Valence?"
"There was an extra moon," he whispered hazily, succumbing to the pull of lethargy more and more as time went on. "Or maybe it was a planet. I think it had a ring around it."
Prime sighed. The young mech's increasing tiredness was making him more difficult to understand.
"Were you under attack?" Prime asked delicately, trying to incite some sort of response. "Was the extra moon a ship? A different race? An Army?"
Valence shook his head in a no motion.
"Was there a mutiny? Did the Decepti- Auto…." Prime stopped. "Did any one from the Cybertronian alliance revolt?"
Valence shook his head. "I don't think so. But something was there. The planet was falling apart. Everything was breaking." He frowned. "I don't remember why but… everyone was dead."
Prime went rigid. "Is…Is that what happened to your platoon and Leader."
Valence hesitated but nodded, affirming Prime's suspicion.
For some reason that didn't bode well with Optimus, and based on the expression across Ratchet's face it didn't sit well with him either. "Why was everyone dead?"
"I don't know."
"This is important, Valence. You need to remember. What attacked Cybertron?" Optimus pushed for an answer, feeling on edge.
"I was…running a message from Altihex to Iacon," he started. "It took me a bit longer then it should have. I ran into an abandoned Quintesson drone but out flew it." He paused. "When I got to Iacon everyone was dead."
"Why was everyone dead, Valence?" Prime asked more firmly then before.
Optimus had just talked to some of his troops on Iaconw ithin the past week when he was requesting Swerve as a metallurgist. He knew the city was fine, but this strange boy claimed not all was well and if the lie detector was any indication he was telling the truth.
"I don't kn- wait." Valence stopped as if thinking hard. Optimuswaited with bated breath. "There was someone left, someone alive."
"Who? Were they Autobot or Decepticon?"
"Neither. The mech didn't have any insignia."
"Can you describe him?"
"He was standing in the shadow, standing over a mound of…bodies. He was big. He was shaped sort of like Nova Prime was. I can't recall his face but it was his optics I remember."
"What was it about his optics?"
"They were gold," Valence said wistfully.
That was more significant then it sounded. While the shades varied, Cybertronians either received red optics or blue optics. That was it. Optic color was as much a show of allegiance as an insignia was.
Though there were some mechs who's optics were borderline other colors. The Lamborghini twins were a Prime example actually. Their optics were a shade away from being flat out violet.
"What happened next?" asked Optimus.
Valence went quiet. For a second Optimus thought he had fallen back into recharge and wouldn't have blamed himif he did. This little game of questions and answers was going a lot longer then he expected, and in a radically different direction as well. But then Valence said something in a hesitant, disturbed tone that chilled Optimus. "I think I died. I think that mech killed me."
The polygraph still made no noise. "That doesn't make any sense, Valence. You're alive right now aren't you?"
"Yeah, I guess," he said sleepily. "But last I remember I was at Iacon. Then there was light. I'm sorry I can't remember, Prime Sir. Everything is really fuzzy."
"It's alright, Valence." Optimus looked the young mech over. He looked exhausted and he was still recovering. It looked like their discussion would have to be put on hold. "Go back to recharge. We'll figure out what to do with you when you wake."
"Ok." The small mech answered softly. Optimus got up to walk away but Valence's voice crossed his audios one last time. "Huh you know I was wrong. I think there was one other mech who was named Prime, the one I saw at Iacon with the Gold Optics. I think his name…was…. Nemesis Prime."
Prime had called a board meeting the second he left the medical room.
Jazz, Ironhide, Prowl and the rest of his officers were sitting around the conference table and were staring at him expectantly waiting for him to say something regarding the "interrogation" session with the Decepticon.
"Well," Prime began halfheartedly. His officers all leaned in ever so slightly with eager looks in their optics. "Either that was both the most deceptively polite and compliant Decepticon I have ever come across or that mech really believes the Autobots and Decepticons are fighting under one banner. It honestly doesn't seem like he thinks we're enemies."
"Well come on, Prime. You know that has ta be a load of Bull!" Ironhide slammed his hands on the table and rose from his seat. "What's he doin' here! Did the Cons send fer him or what?"
"Honestly," Prime began unenthusiastically, "it didn't seem like he knew what he was doing on Earth. He never heard of it before actually, and he made it apparent he didn't know anything about being a Decepticon reinforcement, or anything about Bartenders."
"…Bartenders, Prime?" Prowl sent him a questioning look. Prime's head snapped up. He hadn't meant to let that slip.
"It's nothing," He declared quickly. "However what he did tell me was rather…baffling."
"Which was what?"
"Ratchet recorded the whole exchange which I'll show to you all later. For now I'll just try to paraphrase this best I can. He thinks the Autobots and Decepticons are fighting as combined forces under the leader ship of Nova Prime and Gloryseer against an invading race called Quintessons."
"The hell?" Ironhide barked. "Nova Prime never teamed up with no Decepticons!"
"Hide's right. Sides, those two've been dead for ages," Jazz started, somewhat skeptically. "That'd make the kid over there 19 million years old and he don't look a day over 1000."
"I'm just relaying what he said," Prime stated, sternly. "Apparently the combined forces, he called it the CybertronianResistance Alliance, drove this invading race off, which if it actually ever did happen I suppose would be good news, but then he told me something rather unsettling. He said someone killed everyone in Iacon and the planet was falling apart."
There was a stunned silence .
"That's not possible. We just spoke with Iacon half a week ago so they'd send Swerve and everything was fine! That and Iacon has never been breached," Red Alert began speaking rapidly, and panicked.
"I checked in with Iacon again on my way here and it's just as we've left it," Prime said halting any fears amongst his men.
"Prime," Wheeljack started off hesitantly, "D'you say that someone, as in one guy, killed everyone in Iacon?"
"According to Valence, yes. At least he only saw one mech. I believe he said the mech in question was named Nemesis Prime. Can anyone tell me if that name rings a bell?"
Everyone exchanged looks.
"Well, I can't say I've ever heard of mech named Nemesis, an' I'm sure if he did what that kid, Valence, claimed he did we would've heard somethin'." Jazz scratched the back of his helm, a habit he picked up from Spike. "Whaddabout you, Prowl? Ever hear of some cat named Nemesis Prime?"
"Don't be idiotic, Jazz. That was obviously a lie." A stony looked spread across Prowl's face. "It is general knowledge that there can only be one Prime at a time. There is only one matrix of leadership and as such can only be carried by one mech. It's common logic. If there is a mech out there claiming to have the title of Prime he must be an imposter."
"I think that head injury of his must've been worse then I thought. Not only did he think the Autobots and Decepticons were allies but he completely recreated a history from millions of years ago," Ratchet grumbled. "But all the same, the polygraph's scans all read the same. He wasn't lying."
"Or at least he made himself believe he wasn't lyin'." Jazz drummed his fingers on the table, a show sign he was getting antsy. "There's that possibility. I mean his helmet was almost cracked in half when we dragged 'im here. Something pro'lly got messed up in his processor."
"But what about his body design and age." Wheeljack, who had been unusually quiet up until that point threw in his two cents. "I was in the med bay workin' on finishing Mirage's casing when Ratchet was working on that 'Con. He's a young kid with an old body design that's been obsolete for millennias. What if he's not actually lying? What if…" Wheeljack quieted.
"What, Wheeljack?" Optimus prodded.
"What if he's, ya know, from a different time? I've tinkered around with the concept of time travel before. I mean come on. Math proves that it's possible. We sent the Aerial Bots back once by accident, didn't we?"
Prime's optics widened. He hadn't even thought of that possibility. But the odds were slim in that case. No one had really successfully created a time machine that worked. On purpose, anyways. "I guess it could be plausible. That would explain why his body design is so old but he's so young."
"That can not be the case," Prowl disputed. "Let's say for a moment that he is from the past. Well what kind of past would that be? Nova Prime and Gloryseer never teamed up. Autobots and Decepticons have essentially always been enemies, and he said that everyone in Iacon, our most impenetrable stronghold, was dead. Does that sound like anything we've heard in the history tracks? Even if he came from the past, his stories and accounts would not match up to what we already know."
"Alright, so back to square one it is." Jazz sighed, sliding his elbows forward on the table so he could rest his head. He hated officer meetings with an unholy passion. He was more of an action oriented mech so sitting around and talking just didn't do it for him.
"So… We don't where he's from," Ironhide twanged. "Whadda we do with 'im? Give um to Megatron or keep 'im here?" Prime could tell by Ironhide's tone that he wanted to get rid of the Decepticon as quickly as possible.
"I don't believe giving him to Megatron would be wise at this moment," Prowl answered. Ironhide's look deflated. "If this mech, Valence, didn't know he was on Earth, then there's a chance Megatron doesn't either. We should try to question him further later. To find out where he came from and figure out if there's any basis in what he told Prime."
"Excuse me. I think I have a theory."
The seven officers turned to the office's door. Standing there was Skyfire. He was crouching so he'd be eye level with the other mechs.
"Jazz. You left the door open again," Prowl noted flatly.
"M-hm," Jazz answered lazily not really hearing the accusation. He was borderline asleep, and snuggled his face further into his own arms. Prowl gave him a longsuffering look.
"Skyfire what are you doing here?!" Red Alert stood, and glared accusingly. "This meeting is classified."
"I'm sorry," Skyfire smiled gently, a somewhat regretful look in his optics. "I happened to overhear as I was passing by and curiosity got the better of me I suppose. I apologize."
"Jeez, I didn't think you'd be such a snoop, Skyfire." Ratchet groused. "Didn't you know that curiosity killed the techno-cat."
"But satisfaction brought him back," Skyfire finished. The knowledge hungry adventurer in him was getting the better of him indeed.
"Sky, ya have a theory?" Anticipation filled Wheeljack's optics, eager for the other to share information.
"Well, that's more then I can say for us," Optimus looked around the table, his eyes lingering on a now recharging Jazz, then back at the large shuttle. "Let's hear it." He motioned Skyfire to enter.
The large shuttle barely fit through the already large door but somehow managed to get inside despite the tight squeeze.
"Wheeljack, I think you are actually on the right track as far as the time travel but I think there's a little more to it then that." Skyfire had a thoughtful look across his face. "When I was a scientist on Cybertron I heard many of my colleagues discuss this topic. Math also proves what I'm going to say next even though no one, as far as I know, has ever successfully accomplished this particular feat."
"And would that be?" Prime asked, decidedly.
"Dimensional travel," Skyfire dropped his theory like a bomb. "What if he's from a different dimension? What if he's not only from a different time but a different reality as well?"
Well, that was a new one.
"So," Wheeljack started after a moment of silence. "If he did come from another dimension, how did he actually get here?"
No one had the answer to that.
Valence and Gloryseer were made up for the sake of the story. Valence, despite how much the Autobots griped about him this chapter, is not going to be this story's central focus. I just need him for plot reasons. That's all.
Sorry if everyone's confused. I'm trying to explain everything best I can. It'll all make sense soon.
Quick question. Should I combine the two prologue chapters?
So reviews are loved, concrit is welcome and flames are used for marshmallows.