"Almost Home"

You have to learn to take the responsibilities of your job in stride. You can't always be perfect. There is nothing wrong with striving for perfection, but if you actually think you're going to achieve it, that will drive you crazy. You can only do things how you do them. Trying to emulate someone else does not work. You have to be honest to yourself first and find your inner strength.

This isn't something anybody has told me personally. This is something that I overheard Ultra Magnus tell Rodimus Prime one day. Yet it somehow seems to suit me as well in my day to day life, so I have taken the advice to heart. My function with the Autobots is stressful and I know that I cannot tell any of them. It's not that they wouldn't understand. I have no doubt whatsoever that they would. I would simply feel like I was burdening them. I've heard them talk about me. They rely strongly on me and my fighting and defensive abilities. If I were to show my fears or worries, they would start to worry as well.

I can imagine what you must be thinking. I seem to eavesdrop a lot. That's how I have learned almost everything I know about my fellow Autobots. I'm much younger than most of them and my position gives me little opportunity to interact with them. But I find them all very interesting in their own unique ways. Listening to them like I do may seem wrong somehow, but when you put into context, it really isn't. I truly cannot help it. You see, I'm their home.

Well, almost.

Their true home, and mine as well, is Cybertron. It seems strange and almost foreign to me that I think of Cybertron as my home. I have never even been there. For that matter, I'm not even sure that I will ever set foot on the cold metal surface that seems to glitter under the starlight in the holopictures that I've seen. I'll probably never stand among the spires and thoroughfares as my fellow Cybertronians hurry along towards their respective destinations. Even if this war, a war that has lasted far longer than I can even imagine, ended today, there is simply no convenient way for me to reach my home world short of dismantling me. A Transformer the size a city must learn that the freedom and mobility that others have cannot be granted to all. Sometimes on a clear night I will look up at the stars and dream about all the wonderful possibilities out there. From images I've seen of these far off worlds, there seems to be no end to the diversity from system to system. No two worlds are alike. In a universe so big, that in itself is astounding. Sometimes I find myself longing to be a normal Autobot, one that can hop aboard a shuttlecraft and blast off to any one of these worlds.

But that is not my destiny. This is one of those things that makes me feel I have more in common with Rodimus than with any other Autobot. Listening to him discuss his concerns with Ultra Magnus or to hear him whisper in his quarters about the need to accept the burden of leadership when he'd rather do just about anything else, I can understand that feeling. No one else can shoulder my responsibilities. And I must shoulder them alone.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoy what I do. It's exhilarating in a way to know that you are seen as a last line of defense. Metroplex the Autobot is looked up to, no pun intended, by the other Autobots for this prowess. And yet I am nearly completely out of the Autobots' collective minds when I am Metroplex the City.

This is how I want them to feel, that the city is a sanctuary from the pain and suffering that exists outside these walls. I worry sometimes that seeing and hearing what I do will make them conscious that they reside in a living being. I simply cannot help but see and hear the things that I do. In order to assure that I am in top condition, I must monitor everything around and within me. Most times a simple electromagnetic scan or pressure sensors or internal diagnostic systems are enough to monitor potential problems. But other senses, like hearing and sight, are essential as well. I could hear a squeak as an Autobot walks through a corridor and identify a stress point before the diagnostic systems register the problem. One time, my visual sensor picked up on electrical fire seconds before my fire detection center alerted the maintenance mainframe to a problem. That couple of seconds saved Pipes an hour's worth of repair and testing. Because of my need for sight and sound detection, I see everything that happens within me.

But I don't want to be some ghost in the machine that indicates where their lost transmitter is or tidy up their quarters for them. I don't want them to talk to me as they walk down the halls. It is better that they feel as though I am not watching over them, that I'm not some spy peeping at them while they are in their energizers. All I do is open doors for them; few Autobots realize that only a couple of the doors open automatically. I see all that they do, but never, ever acknowledge those things. In their home, they deserve privacy. Even from me. In addition, it gives them a further sense of home rather than what might be a creepy parasitic sensation of living within another Transformer.

This forced silence can make for a lonely existence. The only Autobots I converse with regularly are Rodimus and Blaster. Rodimus and I have a professional relationship. He is, despite his lack of confidence at times, a fantastic leader. He respects me as well. We discuss the strategy involved with the periodic moves of the city or potential attack or withdrawal plans in case of a Decepticon assault. I have never brought up my perception that we are alike in many ways because Rodimus has never discussed his feelings and misgivings about the burdens of leadership with me. Those discussions are always private and I don't consider myself privy to them despite being an audience to them.

Blaster's conversational style is completely different. His confident swagger and perpetual good nature are addicting, even during times of stress. We discuss protocol just as Rodimus and I do, but the conversations often diverge into pop culture or some other topic Blaster would rather discuss, often at length before guilt over not completing our duties drives us back on topic. While we run through diagnostic checks or maintenance schedules, he keeps me up to date on the latest news, the latest trends, the latest and greatest songs, and the latest gossip around the city.

This last bit always makes me smile a little. The fact that Blaster feels he must tell me about the lives of the other Autobots lets me know that I am successfully allowing them to have their privacy. Oh, but the stories I could tell Blaster.

The way Springer contemplates his reflection while in his quarters, flexing the pistons in his arms from time to time.

How Spike, when deep in thought working on diplomatic paperwork, will whisper the word "Dad" from time to time without even realizing it.

How Swerve watches humans play professional basketball or that he has a poster of Kevin Garnett hanging on the back of his door. I've lost count of the number of times he has knocked over the ore samples from his display case when throwing that basketball around his quarters.

Outback likes to watch old Burt Reynolds movies and Broadside's favorite movie, ironically enough, is "Titanic."

Or that Sunstreaker, during his rare visits, always goes to his brother's quarters to make sure it is still in order before retiring to his own. And when he does enter his own quarters, he simply lays atop his energizer staring at the ceiling, lost in thought, most likely dwelling on Sideswipe's state in the medical wing.

Or that Tailgate has a mock-up for the liberation of the appliances at the Best Buy in nearby Everett. He even has Scamper helping with his crusade.

Or that Wheelie, who shows the world his kind-hearted, childish spirit, retreats to his quarters and studies a picture showing himself standing with a group of comrades and wonders why he was the one to survive. Sometimes he even wonders how much of himself actually survived.

Every Autobot in the base has a story like that. They have something that they simply cannot share with the outside world. Even from their fellow Autobots. I suppose I am no different. I harbor the stress of being the Autobots last line of defense. If, Primus forbid, all of the other Autobots perished, it will be solely up to me to tow the line. It is a frightening thought, one that haunts my dreams when I enter my recharge cycle. But it also motivates me. I know that if I do my job on the battlefield well, the other Autobots will be safe. It doesn't surprise me that I feel as such. The Autobots are my brothers.

And I am their home.

Almost.