Two updates at once… yeah suddenly started writing and couldn't stop after my minor hiatus. WARNINGS on this chapter: Mentions of violence and the death of hatchlings. UNBETA'D!
Oh and THANK YOU to everyone for the great reviews!
I have 2, potentially 3, more stories in the works atm. One linking back to this one and Upheaval and the other 2 TF:A verse ones.
Effortlessly keeping pace with the over excited clicking and squealing mechling darting around a few steps ahead, Ironhide laughs at Optimus' exuberance. He watches as his charge runs circles around a smaller set of spires behind the transparent plate fencing. The tall, slender crystal shaped metal shards languidly floating via natural magnetic repulsion between a few inches to a few feet above the ragged ground. The lights from nearby structures reflecting off the vibrating marbled surfaces as the spires slowly rotate. Each surface and sharp edge sending out mixed patters of light, colour and barely audible sound. Each spire ringing with their own unique tones, the larger ones songs so deep it is more felt than heard.
Trilling with delight at the flowing lights, strange sounds and sensations, Optimus turns to spot the largest set of the spires towards the centre of the gardens. Small feet ringing out a sharp stucco on the raised walkway as he sprints over until outstretched hands impact the protective barrier. Pressing his hands firmly against the clear silicon sheeting, tittering at the funny vibrations running up his arms, he turns to find his guardian already ambling over.
"I'hide! I'hide! Look it!"
Optimus squeals in-between bouts of over excited incoherent clicks and trills. His control over his vocalizer is steadily improving, but he still suffers moments of nonsense babble when over stimulated.
"Yeah I see 'em bitlet."
Bracing both hands against the fencing Optimus tilts comically backwards as he tries to see the top of the huge spire. Bending too far back he abruptly overbalances and topples backward with a started squeak, landing on his aft with a ringing clang. He sits there a moment, slightly stunned from the impact before quickly shaking off the dull pain in his aft back and rolling back up onto his feet.
"Are you alright little one?"
Starting violently at the unfamiliar voice he spins around, almost knocking himself over again, coming face to face with a strange crouching mech. He quickly assesses them, noting the relaxed posture, their plating a mix of emerald and gold, all finely detailed lines, curves and layers with optics a soft glowing violet. A quick glance finds his guardian standing just behind the stranger, pose laid-back and fields giving out no sign of alarm. Staring pensively at the strange mech he receives a warm smile and a gentle brush of the others energy field against his, humming with warmth and trust.
"My you have grown little one and only 14 orns old. It feels a though a vorn has past since I last saw you… You do not remember me do you?"
He receives a blank stare in reply.
"How silly of me of course not. You would have been much too young. My name is Alpha Trion. I am an acquaintance of your guardian, Ironhide."
Gesturing behind him, Alpha Trion watches the wide optics flick to follow his movement before locking back onto him with a sharp analytical stare. Slowly easing himself up from his low crouch, Alpha Trion takes a step back to the side leaving a wide clear path between Optimus and his guardian.
Optics flicking from his guardian to this new mech, Optimus swiftly moves to stand behind Ironhide's wide leg. Small hands gently gripping the big mech's lower leg plating, crested helm coming to resting just above the back of the knee joint. Ironhide can sense his charges field shifting and twitching with apprehension, shyness and some degree of hostility. He can understand the last due to his encounters with strangers so far not being all that pleasant.
Optimus had apparently taken his frustration and stress out on a few poor mechs at the medical centre during his first examination. Many intruding hands and fingers were left scratched and pitted from sharp pointed little teeth. It was something Ironhide found hilarious, but was quick to teach Optimus biting was wrong.
"Ya said ya wanted to meet to talk about this face to face. What information ya got?"
Ironhide states in a flat tone, easily snatching the Trion's attention away from the mechling hiding behind him.
"Yes, of course. As I notified you of earlier I went back to the site where you found Optimus, this time with a search and rescue team as a precaution. That lot made such an awful mess of the area. No regard for the artifacts or remains of the structure what so ever, but we discovered much more than I could ever have anticipated."
Beginning to pace the smaller mech gestures openly as he recounts what occurred. The gaps they found showing evidence of where Optimus crawled out. The dangers they encountered over 6 joors of careful digging through the fragile, crumbling structure, the scares and near misses with corroding support beams and falling debris. When they finally reached an open space the sight they encountered horrified them all as much as it humbled.
"It was a nursery… or what remained of one. The majority of the structure had collapsed in quite some time ago, but this very small chamber, only really large enough in width to hold approximately 4 large framed mechs, remained almost entirely intact. It appears to have been deliberately built separate from the main chamber. The broken very tall and heavy doors the only exit to the remnants of what was once a large nursery. I've never seen structures so heavily carved with images and glyphs in such a small space. The language was of the ancients, but mixed with some old state common cybertronian. Much of what I could decipher in passing were prayers of protection and blessing of the Allspark."
Seeing the warriors confusion, the elder presses just behind his right audio. With a flash a glowing blue hologram appears mid air between them. The display is of a mostly intact but corroding room. The remains of the walls and pod support structures scrawled with strange soft curved, script like glyphs and symbols combined with the sharper lined old cybertronian glyphs. None of the markings of glyphs mean anything to the black mech. Shutting off the display Alpha Trion resumes pacing in an agitated manor, vocals cool and clinical.
"We found approximately 27 pods in what remained of the main nursery… some had only the remnants of the casing left indicating the hatchlings had been born, but most… most where damaged or crushed… the hatchlings long passed... I am not one best qualified to make such assumptions but it appeared a vicious battle took place within the nursery based upon the damage and corpses we encountered. Why, we cannot yet know without further study."
Optics dimming the Trion stops pacing coming to halt front of the larger mech. He briefly glances down at the mechling shyly hiding behind his guardian's leg before releasing a soft puff of heated air. Gathering himself he meets the warriors questioning optics, harmonics gradually softening with a saddened edge.
"We located the remains of at least 7 mechs, we believe to be a mix of warriors and guards out in what was left of the main nursery chamber. All were found near the doors of the secondary chamber. Each appears to have been felled by various blade and crush wounds, some with the instrument of demise still lodged within their frames. The doors to the secondary chamber showed evidence of being blasted open, possibly with crude explosives. They were twisted, charred and melted… Mostly crushed under one door we found the remains of a very large, but thin and strangely built mech we currently surmise to have been a nursery attendant. Another two were found near him… one clearly of a warrior type reviling you in size the other potentially another attendant, both locked together by the blades and spear that tore their bodies and extinguished their sparks… At the back of the chamber we found two more mechs and evidence of where Optimus emerged from."
Hearing his name spoken, Optimus moves to look around his guardian's leg at the other mech. He can sense the sadness and disquiet rolling off the slender, colourful mech in palatable waves.
"We followed the trail of freshly dried nutrient gel to a recently hatched pod in the far back of the room, along with 3 more pods held within another attendant's arms. The one I displayed portions of. 9 destroyed pods were discovered in the middle of the chamber with a mech speared through the chest amongst them, but we found the 4 including the one Optimus hatched from, protected by the attendant all intact –"
"Ya mean there are others?!?! Why didn't ya tell me that to start with? Where are they?"
Ironhide barks, a wide range of emotions tearing through his field. Anger, fear, guilt and shame rush through him at the thought that he left defenseless hatchlings behind in that crumbling ruin. His self-deprecating rage is abruptly staunched as Alpha sharply snaps.
"All intact, but all extinguished! We thoroughly inspected and scanned each of them. The best we can determine is that they were put in modified stasis several thousand vorns ago. Scans and sonar dictated that with the varying levels of deterioration they perished one after the other over a long period. We surmised the first passed around 797 vorns ago, the second 454 vorns ago and the last more recently at approximately 106 vorns passed. The energon in their pods long used up, the nutrient gel putrefied, useless. Optimus must be blessed by the Allspark to have survived at all, one can only guess at what could have triggered his birth after so long... The attendant was lying curled around and physically holding the 4 pods, his frame crudely wired directly into them… We suspect this mech moved the 4 to protect them from whoever attacked the nursery, nurturing and supporting them with his own energon, systems and spark in an attempt to save them… we need to perform more tests, but it seems he lived quite some time before his spark finally gave out…"
Turning away from the visibly shaken dark mech, the scholar tries to regain his composure as images of the remains of corroded and crushed hatchlings and the mangled mech corpses assaults his mind. Even thinking about the intact hatchlings, curled up peacefully within their pods embraced so tenderly in the dead mech's arms, sends shuddering waves of anguish and regret at the loss. He had wondered briefly if they too had predetermined names like Optimus written within their chest plates. Sonar showed they had similar frames and external markings, but in the end he couldn't bring himself to open the cloudy grey pods and disturb their eternal sleep.
Alpha Trion jolts at the abrupt push of a strong energy field against his own carrying warmth, concern and comfort, thin arms wrapping around the middle of his thigh. Looking down he finds Optimus staring up at him in all concerned innocence.
The colourful mech is upset and hurting, but he can't see what's causing him pain. Optimus knows the conversation involves him and childishly wonders if he did something wrong. Seeing the mech smile down at him, their long angular features softening, violet optics glowing warmly he trills happily.
"A noble sacrifice indeed, but in the end a sacrifice not wasted."
Alpha murmurs, long tapered fingers gently brushing the crest of the now exultant mechling hugging his leg. Hearing Ironhide shift he looks up at the bulky mech.
"So… why did this attendant mech just sit there til his spark extinguished. Why didn't he try get out with the remainin' hatchlin's? Ya said he lived for vorns."
Slipping back into his cool, professional veneer, the emerald mech meets the black warrior's optics with an even stare.
"To be honest Ironhide, at this point in time we truly have not done enough exploration or investigation into this matter for me to give you a more conclusive answer. I can only offer my own speculations based on first hand evidence. For a start it seems the collapse of the main structure of the nursery may have occurred around the same time or shortly there after the battle going by damage and degradation of structures and the corpses. Preliminary examinations of the attendant show he suffered debilitating damage to the right hip juncture and joint at these points with severed secondary and primary spinal structures at the lower thoracic level."
The scholar motions to the points on his own body demonstrating where injuries were found on the long dead attendant.
"I highly doubt he could stand let alone walk without assistance. There was also little evidence of self repair occurring outside of cut lines clamping off, despite strong indicators he lived a considerably long time after the injuries were incurred."
Scooting back over to his guardian Optimus watched him pensively as he shifted, mechanisms linked to his currently recessed cannons twitching and clicking.
"So they just left him and the hatchlin's to die? Didn't even try to find them?"
Ironhide snaps with a nasty growl, startling Optimus causing him to stumble back from his guardian's suddenly volatile energy flare. He didn't care if this happened long before his spark was even a glint in the Allspark leaving anyone, especially innocent hatchlings, to die like that made his spark pulse violently within its casing.
"Please calm yourself Ironhide. You are upsetting Optimus… I cannot give you a proper answer to that. Not at this time. He was trapped, unable to move and potentially siphoning off so much of his own energy to support the 4 pods that he may have spent a good portion of time in low level stasis lock. This means he probably could not communicate his situation or call for help. Logically others may have presumed him and all the hatchlings dead. For all we know other circumstances may have been at play here. It is too soon to tell. Many orns, potentially full cycles may be needed before truly conclusive answers can be found."
Raking a hand over his blunt face plates Ironhide forced his ire down, pushing a calming pulse through his field and willing his spark to settle. Kneeling, he calmly reaches out fingers flicking in a gesture for Optimus to come to him. The mechling hesitates a moment, controlling his energy field enough to expand out and test that of his guardian's. Finding it back to normal, the frightening rage gone, he wastes no time running to him. Scooping the small frame up he lifts the mechling to sit on his shoulder keeping one hand firmly on his long legs incase he should slip. Slowly the large mech begins to voice something that has been plaguing his CPU since Optimus first spoke only 4 orns ago.
"Sorry bitlet… It makes sense now… I think…"
Alpha prompts, watching the mech closely as various emotions flit across his face plates.
"About 4 orns ago, when Optimus finally spoke for the first time… he didn't just say one word… he got out a whole sentence. I was checkin' on him after a bad recharge when I went to go he… he roughly said 'Ironhide, please don't fade away too.' Scared the spark outta me the way he said it, but I think I understand now… he couldn't remember… could he?"
Ironhide looked to the little scholar silently pleading with him. Alpha Trion just stares back blankly, body pulled rigid, his CPU threatening to stall as the implications and logical denials screaming through his mind. It kept cycling over and over, he was too young, he couldn't possibly remember, he couldn't possibly have seen anything in the darkness. He just couldn't.
"I… I honestly do not know what to say to that. It's possible he may have been aware, but I do not… I'm sorry I do not know what to say."
Nodding slowly, Ironhide took some solace in the fact after he assured his charge he wasn't going anywhere the mechling had said nothing more on the matter, going back to is quiet yet happy self. Giving himself a mental shake he diverts his processor onto other matters.
"Right, so any of this stuff you found in the excavation site gonna affect us? I mean, would the counsel be second guessin' his placement with me now all this has come up?"
Taking the sudden change of topics for what it was with no small amount of relief, Alpha Trion switches mental gears.
"No I don't believe so. At this point their interest lies more in the discoveries within the ruins than Optimus himself. They have expressed a wish for him to have as normal a life as can be afforded considering he is a full vorn younger than the most recent generation. They only stipulation was that his progress be discreetly monitored. They have also approved my application to be his tutor until they find him sufficiently developed to begin general schooling."
Ironhide snorts at the emphasis on the word discreet.
"And I'm guessin' you're the one that's gonna be doin' this monitoring right?"
So he's gonna be watched from now on. Fine by him, not a lot he could do against it anyway. Turning, he gestures for the small scholar to walk with him. Optimus clicks in glee as the move off. His new, much higher vantage point looking over his guardian's helm gives him a much better view of the spires as they move back towards the main entrance. He knows the discussion was about him yet again, but he's finding the bright lights and strange sounds much more interesting.
"Right, this tutorin' thing, when's that gonna start?"
"I believe 35 orns of age will be sufficient to begin basic tutoring. He has demonstrated that he is attentive, basely aware of the moods of others and becoming well adjusted. I would advise taking him out more often, socializing with others in new environments. He needs to improve his confidence and self control around unfamiliar mechs. Interaction with new environments full of visual, auditory and physical stimuli is also recommended to help stimulate his processor functions and synaptic connections."
A barely there smirk sneaks its way onto the warriors features as he mulls over the lack of terms concerning this 'socializing' with strangers and the need to 'stimulate' Optimus' processor. Large fingers twitch and hidden parts within his large forearm shift as he thinks. He slyly wonders how far he can get away with twisting this mech's innocent advice. Appearing overly benign Ironhide smugly drawls;
"Well, already had a few mechs at the academy askin' about seein' Optimus. He'll get to meet plenty of new mechs and I got an idea for an activity that will help stimulate his CPU, visual and auditory like."
The elder scholar begins to nod in agreement, before suspicion creeps in. Spotting the mech's poorly hidden devious smirk, he snaps to attention.
"Do not even think about taking him to the firing range Ironhide! The last thing we need is a gun obsessed miniature version of you tottering around."
Alpha Trion hisses, energy field betraying his lack of true anger at the mech's stealthy attempt to twist his advice and test him. Unafraid of the much larger and stronger mech's reaction, he sharply jabs covering of one of the massive cannons to emphasis his point. Ironhide grins smugly at the feisty little mech. Nice to see overly formal little scholar has a sense of humor.
Looking at Optimus comfortably perched on his guardian's broad shoulder, completely immersed in watching the light play on the passing spires, both mechs simultaneously concocting images of the shy little mechling running around with guns a big as he is. Locking optics, both clearly having come to the same ludicrous conclusion, they burst out laughing. Any pensive tension left in the air between the two instantly evaporating.
Startled by the sudden raucous laughter Optimus looks from Ironhide to Alpha Trion as they both walk side by side, breaking into peels of laughter ever time they look at him. The mechling completely lost and confused as to why they suddenly find him so funny.
The idea they had in the RoTF 09 movie of TF's being on earth before was ok… just the time period really threw me, between when all that happened to when the Allspark arrived on earth. Far too short a period for them to forget their origins and what came before them with the Primes.