The Language of After
by K. Stonham
first released 24th June 2009

Dying was apparently salubrious to one's mental health. At least, after dying and seeing the original Primes and being unceremoniously kicked back to life by them, Sam was no longer being driven by the ancient symbols locked away in his brain. They were still there, and if he let his mind blank and his hand hold a pen over paper, they'd come. But he was no longer having breakdowns where they forced their way out of him.

A gift from Optimus' ancestors, probably. The Prime agreed with this when Sam shared the theory, and translated what flowed from Sam's pen. It was apparently a history of the Transformers, one that sounded just a little bit like a bible or holy book. It was old, and it had been lost for a very long time, and now it was in Sam.

He sensed his free time for rather a long time was going to be spent transcribing stuff from his head.

But as Optimus continued quietly speaking the translation aloud, Sam blinked. The characters in his vision, golden light, wavered. And as he watched them, staring intently, they... transformed.

They were still the same glyphs, the same shapes, but suddenly they blossomed with meaning in his mind, layered references in each one that he could vaguely feel the shape of, and knew that if he teased at them he'd understand it, like going on Wikipedia and clicking from one link to another....

"Sam?" Optimus asked him, having stopped his reading.

Sam blinked once and took a breath. "And Vector caused the creation of the first star-ship," he continued where Optimus had left off. "It was a vast vessel, measuring ten thousand astro-meters long by four thousand astro-meters wide and five thousand astro-meters deep, and it housed all manner of scientists and builders...."

Optimus' optics were wide as Sam halted. "So now you understand our language."

"One of 'em, anyway," Sam admitted. He looked up and up and up, at the other figure sitting at the tail end of the aircraft carrier, both their legs dangling over the side and down toward the blue-gray ocean water. He smirked. "The dead one." But the others, he felt sure, would follow in due time.

"Prime," Ironhide said, crossing the deck toward the two of them. Then he spoke in a quick, high-pitched spate of Cybertronian, not being rude so much as conveying a good deal of information to his leader more quickly than English, or any human language, allowed.

And maybe "due time" was now, Sam thought in muzzy wonder as new symbols flooded his head and vision, glowing golden characters in the air translating the modem-static speech for him.

Optimus halted Ironhide with a single raised hand, looking down at Sam. "Sam?" he asked cautiously, then spoke a deliberate question in Cybertronian.

"Well, I can't speak it, but I can definitely understand it," Sam answered. Human vocal cords just weren't cut out for the sounds of Transformer speech.

"Fascinating," Ironhide said, staring at Sam.

"Isn't that more Bumblebee's line?" Sam asked. "Playing a clip of Mr. Spock or something?"

"Ha. He's with Arcee," Ironhide reported.

"Is she going to be okay?"

A minimal shrug from the black Autobot, which was not very helpful and could have meant almost anything. "Her Moonracer body is destroyed. Her Arcee body is in stasis lock, and Ratchet thinks he may be able to repair her."

"That's bad, right?" Sam asked to confirm.

Optimus sighed. "Each of her bodies houses a separate memory core."

Sam hissed through his teeth. "So she's just lost two-thirds of her memory, one-third of it permanently? Plus a body, which I'm guessing would be like chopping a limb off for us humans?"

"More or less," Ironhide allowed.

"I was considering assigning her to Mikaela while Ratchet repairs her second body," Optimus said, not quite fishing, but definitely inviting the two of them to share their opinions with him.

"Mik'll go for it," Sam said instantly.

Ironhide took a moment longer. "It's better than medical leave," he allowed. "I doubt Arcee will object."

"Well," Optimus said, and pushed himself back from the edge, standing, "shall we go make the proposal to the two of them, then?"

"Sure," Sam said, standing, and followed the two giant aliens back toward the center of the aircraft carrier, completely at ease in their company.

And not nearly as weirded out as he'd have been a week ago about the fact that his had been the only voice in the entire conversation speaking English.