Thus Far Untitled :P


Femmax is ligit. It's on Wikipedia. I added an 'm' so it pertains more directly to femmes. Anyway. Various pairings on the way. I need to flex my romance skills ^O^

So this one goes out to my good FFN buddy who's just lost her mother recently...her mother held on for a long time, and was so, so strong...the character of Angelbane is dedicated to her.

"I assure you, Lord Prime, this is a sure-fire way to ensure that peace remains between our planet and Femmax."

"Yes, but…" Sentinel Prime trailed off, his optics dimming slightly as he watched the sparring ring below the observation balcony. His eldest son was locked in combat with his oldest mentor, his blue, blue optics alight with excitement. "He's so young…"

"He is full-grown," High Councilor Xeon replied in a quipped tone, arching one optic ridge. "Fully trained, and perfectly capable of forging a sparkbond."

"He doesn't even know this femme."

"Femmax will be a valuable partner in the future," Xeon said stiffly, turning cold optics onto the gleaming golden commander. "Economically, of course, but think about it, milord. A planet full of females, most of whom are ready to bear sparklings."

Sentinel shot a swift look at the councilor, optics narrowing dangerously, a low growl building in his throat. "Councilor, please. That is hardly politically…polite."

"Perhaps not, but it is absolutely accurate," the older mech snorted, waving one hand dismissively. "More and more femmes here on Cybertron are enlisting into military service rather than bearing sparklings. We must keep our species alive, Prime, and if there is a planet with femmes capable of reproduction…well, I see no reason to not forge an alliance with them."

Sentinel lowered his optics, a sick feeling welling up in his spark. Below, Optimus glanced upwards briefly, reaching out to his father before returning his attention to his match. Sentinel reigned in his feelings quickly.

"But he has to bond with her?"

"The High Council has already voted on the matter, Prime. We respectfully request that your son at least court the female."

"Very well," Sentinel rumbled, defeated. "I shall discuss the matter with him, Councilor. That will be all."

"I would like to remind you, Sentinel, that we are not simply putting forth a request. We really must demand that—"

"That will be all, Councilor," Sentinel repeated in a low growl, and after a moment's consideration Xeon decided it best to take his leave. The colossal golden Prime really could be a terror when angered, or so the councilor had heard—Sentinel was more than adept at reigning in his own considerable temper.

That did not mean that Xeon felt like taking any chances.


Sentinel turned his ethereal blue gaze from Xeon's rapidly retreating back to instead smile upon his eldest son as the young mech came up the stairs to the observation deck.

"Optimus. Done already?"

"Scavenger pled boredom," Optimus sighed, stretching his already aching frame. "I'm not surprised, I suppose. But, Father—you look troubled."

"Oh. Do I? I can't imagine why…"

"Father…" Optimus trailed off, blue optics apprehensively watching Councilor Xeon as the mech turned a corner at the far end of the hallway and disappeared.

Sentinel sighed, rubbing the back of his helm. His son was too perceptive for his own good. "I wish I could tell you that you don't need to worry, Optimus. The Council has gone too far this time…"

"Tell me," Optimus requested quietly, stepping closer and looking up earnestly at the mech he respected and adored more than any other. "What troubles you, Father?"

"…You have heard of Femmax, my son?"

"Of course. It is…a topic frequented in the recreation room," Optimus admitted bashfully, and Sentinel momentarily rolled his optics upward. Mechs. Sometimes his own breed disgusted him. "It is a planet dominated by femmes, yes?"

"Essentially. Mechs are present there, but they are used largely for reproductive purposes. It is a rather skewed culture, Optimus. Mechs may be the more dominant mechanisms here on Cybertron, but our dominance is not comparable to that of the females on Femmax. Come, we shall go to the wash racks," he added, taking note of the condensation and coolants almost dripping from his son's frame. "Your mother will have my head if I let you rust."

Optimus laughed lightly, falling into step beside his father as they departed the arena, making for the shower stalls nearby. Sentinel's pace was brisk, quipped as it always was. He was that sort of mech, always seeming to have a destination, a plan, something that needed his attention. It was an admirable quality for a leader to have, but sometimes Optimus couldn't help but wonder if his father was ever really consciously existing in the present. Some would call Sentinel determined; Optimus thought of him as more absent-minded. Sentinel was a Prime, after all—he'd seen worlds and memories most mechs couldn't even begin to compute. Sentinel had seen a grander side of the universe, and sometimes it seemed to Optimus that his father was mentally reaching out to that other side, that more incredible place…

Sentinel stood off to the side of the room, meticulously rooting through the shelf full of towels while Optimus stepped into a nearby stall, heating the cleaning solvent to his liking and immersing his frame in the warm fluid.

"What issue with Femmax do I need to consider, sir?" Optimus questioned after a moment when Sentinel's silence persisted.

"You are aware that our reproductive rate has gone down, yes?"

"Mother has told me about it. There are so many femmes coming forth to combat the rebel movement that there are less family units being formed, is that so?"

"That is the most probable cause, yes," Sentinel sighed, leaning against the wall and watching the steam climbing its way upwards. It came into contact with the ceiling and drifted lazily out towards the walls, having no where else to go. "Optimus…how do you feel about sparkbonding?"

Optimus peeked around the edge of the stall, checking his father's expression carefully before answering. "It is appealing to me. You and Mother seem so close. I'd like to find a sparkmate, someday."

"Someone you care about."


Sentinel hung his head, inspecting his own feet intently. His son was silent, and the Lord Prime was not surprised. Optimus was incredibly intelligent. The interference of a councilor, the mentions of Femmax, talk of a sparkmate…his sharp processor was undoubtedly already putting together the pieces.

"…How would it benefit Cybertron, sir?"

"…Xeon and his cohorts in the Council…seem to believe that it will benefit it us economically as well as…well. They are concerned with our lack of family units, and therefore our lack of sparklings."

"So they believe that if I were to bond to a Femmaxian royal, femmes would flock to Cybertron in droves and bond with our mechs left and right?"

"They do not always think these things through, Optimus. I'm infuriated that you've been dragged into their ridiculous schemes this time. We have allies within the Council, do not forget, I'm sure we can make them see reason."

"…But…but the Council really might be correct, Father," Optimus intoned, coming out of the stall and gratefully accepting the towel his sire extended to him. "The Femmaxians were once Cybertronians, were they not? It is my understanding that they left Cybertron when Lord Nova imposed stricter controls on the femme population."

"You are correct. They are indeed our sisters."

"Then perhaps it would not be so bad to form an alliance with them. They are a part of us, and we a part of them."

"I would like to see our cultures allied once more, but not at the cost of your spark," Sentinel growled. "I want you to find your sparkmate. I want you to find someone who will support you as your mother does me. An arranged sparkbond is an archaic and altogether primitive means of negotiation. I do not wish for my son to pay this price."

"There are plenty of Femmaxian royals, Father," Optimus reminded his sire gently, rubbing the towel absently over his armor. "Who knows? Perhaps my sparkmate is even among them…"


"…I had a feeling you'd say that."


"Lita, dear, try to be reasonable…"


"Maybe I ought to talk to her," Arcee suggested, tilting her graceful pink helm upwards to blink innocently at her mother. "I'll calm her down, at least, and then she'll be able to think clearly."

"You may be right," Lady Sephirium agreed, grimacing when her eldest daughter kicked out at a chair in frustration. "I'll leave it to you, then, dearspark…but do be careful, you know how she gets…"

"I'll be fine," Arcee said cheerfully, permitting her mother to lovingly kiss her cheek before striding fully into the room and closing the door behind her. "Hey, Elita, tell me when you're ready to calm down, okay?"


Arcee arched one optic ridge, putting her hands behind her back and quietly inspecting a piece of artwork hanging on the wall. Elita scowled out the window for a moment before releasing a long groan, throwing herself onto her berth and glaring up at the ceiling.

"I knew this was going to happen eventually," she grumbled, rolling onto her side and curling herself up. "I knew it! Frag it all to Pit, what's so great about making an alliance with that chauvinistic planet anyway?"

"Cybertron has more military might than five of our planets put together, and then some," Arcee responded easily. "And we have an economy and resources that they could only dream of. It's quite logical, really." She glanced sideways at the berth, optics dimming at the sight of her sister's distress. She padded across the small expanse of the room and sank down at Elita's side, reaching out to pet her sister's helm gently. "Don't worry, Lita. There are lots of noble daughters for this mech to choose from. All you have to do is go to Cybertron and enjoy his hospitality while he flirts around with some other femme."

"Easy for you to say, Arcee," Elita sighed heavily. "You don't have to come."

"Just because I'm too young to be courted doesn't mean I won't be going. You'll need someone to keep you under control, and besides, I want to meet a cute mech who'll give me my first kiss."

"Of course you do," Elita snorted, sitting up reluctantly and smiling at her little sister. "How is it that you're so much more mature than I am, Arcee?"

"You're just overstressed," Arcee responded simply. "It might be nice to go and have a handsome mech fawn over you for a few orns."

"I always have handsome mechs fawning over me. Mother hires them to do just that."

"Yes, but this one won't be just a servant," Arcee reminded her, a sly smile crossing her cute faceplates. "He'll be passionate and independent and strong…it'll be like a forbidden erotica novel."

"…I told you to quit reading those."

"You still throw tantrums like a sparkling. Pit take me if I ever do what you tell me to," Arcee giggled, getting up and returning to the piece of artwork. "Anyway. We'll take Chromia with us too, just in case the mechs get a little grabby. She'll put them in their place."

"Flat on their backs beneath her?"

Arcee laughed openly, and Elita couldn't help but to smile. Chromia wasn't the only femme who got an odd rush from completely dominating the larger and stronger mechs, but that didn't make her any less fun to tease.

"It really might be nice," Arcee continued, practically gushing now. "I heard Cybertron's mechs aren't like ours. And their princes must be so handsome."

"Based on what?"

"Well, they are princes, after all."

"Oh, Primus," Elita groaned, and promptly flopped back down again. "You're hopeless, Arcee."

"Well, excuse me for being a little hopeful. And look on the bright side of things, Elita. There's a good chance he won't even choose you. So you can just go, smile at the mech, be as uninteresting as possible so he ignores you, and enjoy Cybertron and experience a new planet. How many times have we even gotten to leave the palace?"

"Not many," Elita admitted. "Perhaps you're right. He's got plenty of femmes to choose from…"


"…And I've never even seen pictures of Cybertron…"


"…Alright, it could be interesting, at least," Elita acquiesced grudgingly. "And if you and Chromia will be there, it might even be fun."

"It'll be a blast," Arcee said breathlessly, and for the next joor, Elita couldn't get her little sister to shut up.

The docking bay had never been more tense.

Sentinel Prime, aglow in his handsome golden armor, stood at the side of his quietly beautiful sparkmate, Angelbane. Optimus hovered just behind his creators, cobalt blue optics anxiously scanning the dark, starry sky periodically.

"Peace, Optimus," Angelbane murmured wisely, reaching over to place a small hand on her eldest son's forearm. "They'll arrive when they arrive."

"They're a little behind schedule," Optimus worried, frowning deeply. "You don't suppose something went wrong? Maybe they were attacked by pirates? Or an engine was damaged?"

"You worry far too much for your own good, Optimus," Sentinel rumbled quietly. Optimus conceded the point, falling silent, and Sentinel took to scanning the rest of the docking bay. All thirteen High Councilors were present to greet their galactic neighbors, as well as no small amount of Sentinel's personal staff and soldiers, all eager to get a glimpse at the fabled Femmaxians.

"Where's Soundwave?" Angelbane wondered aloud, peering around her mate's massive frame to look towards the entrance to the hangar. "He was supposed to be along with Megatron…"

"Soundwave will come when he's good and ready, and no sooner," Sentinel replied good-naturedly, placing one gigantic hand on his sparkmate's waist. "You're acting as jittery as Optimus, dear."

"I don't feel right about that monotous semi-drone watching my son," Angelbane replied dryly, and Sentinel smiled, bemused.

"Soundwave is simply spoken, love, but he adores Megatron. They are the best of friends, even with their age difference. I trust him with Megatron implicitly, and as you trust me, you should trust Soundwave as well."

"…Hmm." Optimus thought his mother's growl was still irate, but Sentinel seemed to take it as a concession, for he removed his hand from her waist to tuck both hands behind his back and look patiently up at the sky.

"They're sure taking their sweet time."

The little family all turned at the gruff, familiar voice, and Sentinel couldn't bite down a smile as he watched his two oldest and most faithful friends joining the trio.

"Ratchet, Ironhide. I'm glad you could come."

"Hah. Why wouldn't I? I'd never pass up an opportunity to see a whole shipload of femmes come in just to meet our little upstart," Ironhide retorted, glaring at Optimus with a sort of fierce pride. Optimus blushed and took to fidgeting, muttering something incoherently. He liked Ironhide, but the mech could be so intimidating.

"The Femmaxians do have mech servants and such, yes?" Angelbane inquired, blinking up at her mate, but it was Ratchet who answered.

"Yes—the males are used exclusively for labor and for reproductive purposes, but I believe the more important families have mechs to wait upon them. Perhaps we ought to 'liberate' a few during their stay, eh?"

Ironhide smirked. "What mech in his right mind would want to be 'liberated' from a planet crawling with femmes?"

Optimus made a face; being a sexual slave and then spending all of his spare time in hard labor definitely qualified as being in need of liberation in his books. And it certainly couldn't be any less of a paradise. "Doesn't sound like much fun to me."

"Of course it doesn't," Ironhide snorted. "You wouldn't know what to do with a femme if she was in protoform and prostrating herself in front—"

"Ironhide!" Angelbane snapped, sky blue optics blazing up at the titanic black mech.

"Aw, come on, Angel," Ironhide said meekly, holding up his hands in a gesture of surrender. "He's not a sparkling anymore…"

"He's my sparkling!"


"Megatron," Sentinel said brightly, and Angelbane and Optimus turned to see the immense, navy blue form of Soundwave trooping towards them with a silver youngling marching in front of him.

"There you are," Angelbane sighed, moving forward to pull her little mech in close. Megatron whined and squirmed when she kissed his helm. "I asked you to have him back a few breems ago, Soundwave!"

"Apologies," Soundwave said in his trademark monotonous tone. "The young master was insistent upon finishing his game."

"I beat level sixteen," Megatron remarked, arching an optic ridge at his older brother. "What level have you gotten to?"

"Twenty-four," Optimus replied smugly, smirking at his baby brother. "But nice try."

Megatron scowled, wriggling out of his mother's arms to stand instead between his father and brother, puffing his chest up importantly and staring up at the sky as they were. A long silence passed before he spoke again.

"So…what are we looking for?"

"We're waiting for the Femmaxians to arrive," Sentinel responded, looking down at his youngest son, his optics aglow with affection.


"We want to make peace with them," Optimus explained, dropping his optics as well when his brother looked up at him. "The Femmaxians have a number of resources that we could benefit from, as well as rich and interesting culture that we are eager to know more about. We can help them as well, so we seek a partnership that would be mutually beneficial to both worlds."

"Huh." Megatron wrinkled his noseplates, peering back up at the luminous sky. "When do they get here?"

"Any breem now. If you're tired, you may go rest, Megatron. Your presence is not required diplomatically."

"I'm a Cybertronian prince," Megatron huffed importantly, lifting his head proudly. "I'm every bit as important as you, Opt."

Optimus smiled, reaching a hand down to gently pat his little brother's head. "Of course you are."

The docking bay filled slowly as another breem passed, and yet another, and another. Megatron sat after the first two, heaving a long yawn on the first, prompting his father to lift his youngling into his arms and allow the little mech to fall asleep against his shoulder.

"Couldn't I take him up to our quarters?" Angelbane requested softly, stroking her son's helm with gentle fingertips.

"You are Cybertron's empress, dear," Sentinel responded, his voice low and rich. "It would not be politically polite for you to not be here when our guests arrive…"

"Hey," Ironhide cut in suddenly, pointing his scarred and grizzled faceplate up to the sky, his good optic squinting slightly. "You hear something?"

The others paused, all falling silent to listen for whatever it was Ironhide had detected. After a moment, Optimus sighed and shook his head slightly. Not another astrosecond later, the others heard the soft reverberations of a space bridge opening. All at once, a tear seemed to open in the sky itself, revealing the dark, swirling mass of anti-space within; the sky lit up as a single shuttle exited the bridge, and the surrounding darkness sewed itself up once more.

For a moment Sentinel entertained the possibility that the Femmaxians had finally arrived, but this hope was quickly doused when an excited shout echoed from the shuttle.


"Frag," Ironhide growled, but fell silent at a glare from Angelbane, who pointed an indignant finger at her sleeping son.

"Optimus," Sentinel intoned quietly, "you did tell Jetfire how very important this is, didn't you?"

"I told him," Optimus answered, his mouth set into a grim line. "Although, I think he stopped listening once the word 'Femmax' came up. I did try to avoid it, but he was bound to find out eventually."

"So what did you tell him?"

"That some very influential and potentially life-altering political delegates were arriving from a far-off planet…and that that planet just might be inhabited almost entirely by femmes…"

"Oh, dear," Sentinel sighed, opening his comm. link. "Jetfire, report."

: Jetfire reporting in, Boss. :

"As impressive as your flight capabilities are, Jetfire, I really must request that you land—carefully—and wait patiently with the rest of us. Your enthusiasm is appreciated, but…we really do want to make a good impression."

: Oh. Right. Copy that, Boss. Landing now. :

The shuttle gained some altitude one last time before dropping into a steep dive, pulling up within mere feet of the ground. Jetfire transformed on the run, his immense form folding out from his sleek shuttle mode so that he hit the ground running. He yelped as his momentum carried him forward, pinwheeling his arms backwards wildly to slow himself down before skidding to a wild stop mere inches from the royal family.

"…Landing successful, Commander," he said brightly, snapping one hand up into a chipper salute.

"Glad to see it, Jetfire," Sentinel replied, heaving a long, relieved sigh. "Please, no more antics like that tonight. I really can't stress how important this alliance is."

"I understand, sir," Jetfire said, bobbing his head up and down, earnest golden optics blinking quickly just over the rim of his mask. "Political mumbo-jumbo and whatnot, I'm all over this, Boss. And hey, Optimus, you're looking kinda jittery," he added, cocking his head at his best friend and classmate.

Sentinel glanced at his heir and son, arching an optic ridge, to which Optimus only shrugged weakly. He hadn't even attempted to explain to his friend that he was to be bonded to one of the femmes arriving from Femmax—the knowledge that his buddy would no longer be a bachelor probably would have fried Jet's processor.

"Oh!" Angelbane yelped suddenly, pointing towards the approximate location where Jetfire had come out of warp. "Look! That—is that them?"

All heads snapped upwards instantly, and a great cheer rose from a few onlookers at the sight of a ship pulling out of transwarp drive, gearing down as it reentered normal space. It was a beauty of a vessel, long, cylindrical, pearly white, three swept-back engines propelling it from the rear.

"Whoa," Jetfire intoned, clearly in awe. "It's awesome…"

Optimus could only nod dumbly, awe-struck himself. He'd never seen a ship like that. Cybertronian vessels were bulky, thick, heavily armored, built for combat, not leisurely space travel, and very few had a femme's aesthetic touch. It was truly a sight to see.

The young mech was startled out of his reverie by his father's hand on his shoulder; looking up, he nodded nervously as he met his mech creator's confident blue optics. He turned his gaze forward, tightening his jaw as the ship coasted in for a graceful landing, guided by several docking guards. His sparkmate was on that ship somewhere. His sparkmate, whether he liked it or not.

The royal family moved forward once the ship was docked, followed closely by the slightly wary Councilors and flanked by the formidable force of Jetfire, Ironhide, Ratchet, and Soundwave. Jet planted himself at Optimus's right side as the procession stopped, folding his arms over his chest and holding his wings high. Though he'd never been assigned the position officially, he'd taken it upon himself to be Optimus's bodyguard of sorts, ever fiercely loyal to his future Prime and commander. Ironhide and Ratchet took up similar positions near Sentinel and Angelbane, quietly guarding the Prime and his empress from any threat awaiting them on the white ship.

As the ship powered down, the whole hangar seemed to hold its breath. Sentinel tightened his grip on his eldest son's shoulder, blue eyes darkening, intensifying. Angelbane took her youngest son from her mate's arms, hushing him gently when he stirred. Optimus felt Jetfire's hand close over his free shoulder, and he swallowed nervously.

"Hey, man, relax," Jetfire breathed, cracking a nervous grin. "This is all good."

"Then stop denting my shoulder."

"Relax," Jetfire repeated firmly. "Count on me."

Optimus nodded mutely, trying to make his intakes work properly. He had to make a good impression. He had to get at least one of these femmes to bond with him. He simply couldn't afford to make such a huge blunder as mess up relations with Femmax so early in his career. The trust of the Council—and of Cybertron, for that matter—was on the line. And he'd need the Council and the people behind him when he ascended the position as Prime. One of these femmes…one of these femmes had to be willing to bond with him…

A seam split in the anterior lower portion of the ship, revealing a small door that would hardly allow a mech of Sentinel's size. A ramp extended to touch lightly upon the floor of the hangar, and then, all at once, there were femmes.

A procession of five, then three, and then five again filed out. The first and last rows were obviously bodyguards; the femmes were almost as tall as Optimus, bore heavy armor and guns slung over their backs. The middle row was completely obscured.

Optimus felt himself tugged from Jetfire's ironclad grip as his father suddenly strode forward, all but dragging his dumb-struck son behind him. Optimus found his feet quickly, straightening his back and lifting his head, drawing his shoulders back, mimicking his father's confident posture. The front row of femmes peeled away to reveal what Optimus could only assume was the royal family of Femmax.

"Lady Sephirium," Sentinel said warmly, dropping to one knee to gently kiss the Empress's delicate hand as she extended it. "I can't even begin to express how much of an honor it is. Please consider Cybertron your home away from home, and us your humble hosts." Optimus caught his father's sidelong glance and hurriedly dropped to one knee, crossing one arm over his chest and dipping his head. Frag. He should have been the first to be on the floor—long before his father and any case. Strike one.

"Rise, Lord Prime," Sephirium requested softly, and her lyrical voice sent Optimus's circuits on end. He'd never heard a voice like that before. "We are of equal stature, are we not? You needn't bow to me. Nor should you, young prince," she added tactfully, and Optimus lifted his head to see his father already standing. He rose slowly, cautiously, struggling to remember if it was polite to make optic contact or not.

"You look nervous," the Empress's accompanying mech spoke up, stepping forward to stand just behind the femme. "Are we so intimidating, Prince?"

"I—um—n-no, not at all," Optimus said, cursing his trembling voice. "I…please, excuse my inexperience. I've met very few foreign delegates. Um, but, I…I'm very honored to be playing host to our sister planet."

Optimus thought he caught an involuntary twitch from his father and felt his tanks plummet. He'd said something wrong? Already? Why hadn't he just kept his stupid mouthplates shut?! But all at once Sentinel relaxed again and carried on with the introductions. The femme named Sephirium was Femmax's empress, the esteemed ruler and protector; the navy-black mech behind her was Baron, her mate; the tiny pink femme who hovered behind them was their youngest daughter and Princess, Arcee.

"I was under the impression that Femmax had been blessed with two Princesses, milady," Sentinel noted, cocking his head. "Was I misinformed?"

"No, not at all," Sephirium replied, laughing lightly. "Our other daughter is traveling with the young Lord's other suitors—she thought that she would be given an unfair advantage in the battle for his affections if he knew she was the Princess and the heir to my throne."

Optimus blushed darkly, wanting to sink into the floor and disappear. He wished he could tell the Empress that he didn't want anything to do with the Princess or the 'suitors,' but that, obviously, would not have made the Council too pleased. He held his glossa and forced a smile.

Angelbane stepped up and introduced herself, along with the drowsy young prince in her arms; within a breem, Megatron had been given back to Soundwave to be taken up to bed and the entire procession—lords, ladies, bodyguards, and stumbling, nervous prince alike—were making their way steadily to the upper floor and the grand hall.

"Not so bad, eh?" Jetfire intoned, catching up to his friend's side and nudging him lightly. "That Arcee is a cutie."

"She's not available, Jet," Optimus replied, wishing desperately that his knees would stop shaking. "Listen, I'll talk to you in a bit, okay? I need to ask Father something…"

Jet nodded obligingly and dropped back, allowing Optimus to weasel his way to the front of the procession and take the side of his father that was not already occupied by the chattering Empress. Waiting until his mother distracted Sephirium for a moment, Optimus leaned into his father to ask the question that had been plaguing him, but his father answered before Optimus had scarcely opened his mouthplates.

"No, Optimus, I do not believe there was anything wrong with your greeting," Sentinel said swiftly, smiling down at his startled son. "It was very humble, very cordial, very polite. You did very well. I was merely concerned with your reference to Femmax being our 'sister' planet; you have to remember that the Femmaxians think of mechs as lustful barbarians. I wasn't sure the Empress would take kindly to the comparison. But she didn't seem at all fazed, so you're in the clear."

"Thank Primus," Optimus sighed, feeling his spark unclench. "I was afraid I'd messed up already…"

"Hardly. You're doing well, my son. I really couldn't ask more of you. I'm already asking so much," he added glumly, his optics darkening.

"No, Father, not at all," Optimus said quickly, forcing some conviction into his voice. Trying to sound brave. "This is a service I can do Cybertron. That I can be of help to the planet before I'm even Prime…I'm proud to be doing this. When shall the other femmes arrive?"

"Late tonight. You do not have to be awake to greet them, in fact, you shouldn't. Best that you see them tomorrow morning when you are rested and have had some time to learn a bit more about the culture. Doubtless, the ladies will be tired as well. They may be dismayed if you were to see them in their disheveled state."

Optimus couldn't help but to laugh, feeling his tension ebbing away quickly. Yes, his father was right. He'd be humble and polite, learn what he could of the culture, and tomorrow he could begin searching for his bride. He had some time to relax.

The grand hall was brightly lit, lively music playing from the large speakers in the corners and mounted on the walls, and the huge dining table had been stacked with a dizzying array of premium energon, oils, pastries, treats from Iacon's finest stores. The head of the table was seated for two; Sentinel and Sephirium sat here, with their mates at their sides. Though Optimus had planned to sit with his mother, he found himself somehow seated by Baron, with the very shy Arcee on his other side.

He was a little nervous at first, but he took a liking to Baron almost instantly; he reminded Optimus of a friendlier Ironhide. The huge mech was blunt, to the point and brutally honest, but he was also amiable and talkative; his optics spoke volumes of his joy and enthusiasm.

"Really can't tell you how excited we are to be here—Optimus, am I correct? I could call you Prince, of course, if you'd like, don't mean to be impolite—"

"I prefer Optimus," said mech assured him quickly, smiling. "We're thrilled to have you. I've been studying, but I still feel that I know so little of Femmaxian culture. I hope to learn a lot."

"As do I, son, as do I," Baron agreed heartily, helping himself to an energon treat. "Are the blue ones any good?"

"The best. Megatron loves them."

"Cee was ecstatic when she learned she would be coming with us," Baron went on, loading his plate generously. "She's got such a fascination for other cultures. Our other daughter—I'm withholding her name, you know, for pre-mentioned reasons—was a little less excited. She's a free spirit, that one, not too keen on settling down, especially with a mech she's just met."

Rather than being offended, Optimus found himself greatly relieved by this blatantly rude (in political terms, anyway) statement.

"I'm a little apprehensive myself," he admitted slowly, gauging his choice of words carefully. "I hadn't even thought of sparkbonding when the Council came forward with this proposition. But at the same time, it's an incredible opportunity."

"No need to be polite about it," Baron chuckled. "These arranged affairs are the worst kind of business. No one should bond for political reasons. You should bond for love, you see. That's the key to happiness. But such are the curses of the privileged. All you can do is make the best of the lot you're dealt, yes?"

"Yes," Optimus agreed, feeling much lighter with that confession off his chest. "I'm eager to meet your daughter. You insist that you can't tell me her name?"

"Oh, no," Baron chuckled. "Sephirium twisted it a bit. My little one has determined that you'd choose her immediately if you knew she's the princess, so she threatened me with various unpleasant treatments if I let her identity slip. That goes for you too, Arcee," he added purposefully, leaning forward to point a finger at his youngest daughter, who winced and blushed. "No giving Optimus here any hints!"

Laughing heartily, Baron joined Sephirium and Sentinel's conversation, leaving a rather awkward silence hanging between Optimus and Arcee.

"So…er…how old are you?" Optimus inquired kindly, smiling down at the little femme.

"Too young for you," she deadpanned, and reached for an energon goodie, leaving Optimus in shock. He'd thought she was shy, but it turned out she was just as blunt and practical as her father.

"Thank Primus for that," he laughed nervously. "You seem too tough for me."

"Hmph. Are you calling me a mech?"

"No, not at all! Of course not! There isn't a mech in the universe with a face that pretty…"

"…It's kinda creepy that you're hitting on a kid," she said stiffly, casting him a flat glare before popping in an energon goodie.

Optimus resisted the urge to dunk his face into his energon. He was making a bigger idiot of himself with this kid than he'd even come close to doing with Baron.

"What's your sister like?" he asked after a moment, and for the first time she seemed to consider him before answering.

"She's too good for you," Arcee decided, tapping her chin with a finger. "But she's beautiful and strong-willed and smart. Of course, she'll probably put on an act so you don't choose her. So it doesn't really matter."

"I wish she wouldn't," Optimus sighed, sitting back in his seat. "She sounds lovely."

"I'll hurt you if you choose her," Arcee warned him. He frowned.

"Why's that?"

"If you choose her, she'll have to come stay on this awful planet, and she'll have to live in this dreary building, and I'll never get to see her," Arcee said bluntly, scowling into her energon.

"…Why would you say that?"

Arcee looked up, startled by his sudden change in tone. Optimus looked different. He wasn't glaring by any means, but he didn't look at all happy. More…frustrated.

"Cybertron is an incredible planet," he went on, tightening his hands into fists and looking down at his plate. "It has sights and places that would take your breath away in a nanosecond. It's beautiful and majestic. I love it. I love it. That's why I'm going through with this arranged mating. For the good of my planet."

Arcee blinked at him before looking down at her own plate, making a soft, thoughtful humming noise, considering his words. "Alright," she acquiesced after a moment. "I'm sorry, that was pretty rude of me. This is all pretty new and scary for me, too. You love your planet a lot. That's pretty admirable. It just looked so gray from space."

"All you can see from space are the uppermost levels of the cities, the business and political districts," Optimus explained, toying with his energon pastries. "I'll take you on a tour while you're here. I'll show you the Helix and Crystal Gardens in Praxus—my friend Prowl was born there. And the Acidic Sea, and the Hall of the Primes, where my ancestors are honored."

"Huh. It sounds interesting. Alright, Optimus, I'll go with you. If you give me that," she put in, pointing to his pastry.

"What? There's a whole plate right there."

"I want one of yours. You want to be my friend, right?" she said cheekily, grinning at him. "No sacrifice, no victory."

He stared at her for a moment before breaking into laughter. "That's pretty wise for a kid. Where'd you hear that?"

"This old mech named Alpha Trion is always saying that."

"Trion?" Optimus said in surprise, handing over the pastry and watching as she delved into it. "You know Trion?"

"Yeah. He's my sister's tutor. Why? You know him too?" she inquired around a mouthful of pastry, licking her fingertips.

"I do. He's my father's old friend. When I was born, my spark was very weak. If it weren't for Trion's therapy, I wouldn't be alive."

"That's pretty cool," Arcee replied, finishing off the pastry in one monstrous bite. "I guess he goes back and forth between planets. That guy is really smart, 'specially for a mech."

Shrugging off that last comment, Optimus wiled away the rest of the evening with the little femme. They were fast friends by the end of the banquet. Her jabs and barbs at his gender and ego didn't cease, but she made him promise to seek her out tomorrow morning so they could discuss his prospect brides. He agreed happily; he rather liked the fiery little femme, sharp glossa and all.

Optimus slipped into recharge in his family's huge living complex feeling much better than he'd anticipated at the start of the evening. He liked Femmax's royal family, even with their prompt and blunt manner, and Baron and Arcee's descriptions of the princess intrigued him. Maybe…just maybe…this wasn't going to be so bad…

Oh, Optimus XD How wrong you is :D

Reviews are loved :3 Hope you enjoyed, and please review.