Rodimus looked out the window as he walked down the hall. He could see the construction across town in the distance, `bots still at work fixing the exteriors of several buildings. Most of the major repairs were already done, but there were some small details on certain structures that had yet to be completed. He was surprised that so many `bots had come together to finish this so quickly, but it made sense. This event had impacted their lives so dramatically. Less than a fourth of the population on Cybertron had been spared from having their sparks removed by Dirge. Two of those few actually happened to be members of his team.
Ironhide and Brawn gave him an official report about the incident as soon as he regrouped with them. Well, as close to official as possible. It mostly consisted of Ironhide spouting out facts rapidly and without explanation while Brawn attempted to translate what he was saying into something they all would understand.
After they had brought Rodimus, Hot Shot, and Red Alert back to Cybertron to be tested, the council had been convened to talk about actions to be done on account of this anomaly that had happened to the members of the space bridge team. Ironhide and Brawn had been requested to join, being the only witnesses in this case. The session had still been in process when Dirge had struck, leaving only the two of them and a `bot named Perceptor with sparks. They had tried to get out, but the Metroplex had somehow gone into a lockdown. Cliffjumper had found a way, but when they were about to leave Unicron appeared. Perceptor had suggested that it was best to stay inside, so inside they stayed. Everything past that was general knowledge.
A lot of jobs had been created to renew the city as soon as the leaders got back to their senses. Picking up rubble. Repairing buildings. Medibots for the injured and emotionally unstable. And…collecting bodies.
Rodimus inwardly shuddered. Duties had been given out randomly to `bots who had no construction skills. Since he wasn't a particularly good construction-bot, he had gotten into that lot. The job assigned to him was designated 'street cleaner', but he soon found out its real meaning. Hot Shot had been 'in the same boat' (a phrase he was now using like crazy, though Rodimus had no idea where he had heard it from), only because he had lied on his application. Of course, he could do construction! One of the only things those flamethrowers were good for was welding. But he had figured that if he said that he would've gotten an easier task.
Rodimus guessed he had deserved lugging around offline chassis for a few solar cycles because of his dishonesty.
Apparently some chassis were injured when Unicron hit the planet or were too weak to sustain themselves, so their sparks weren't able to make the journey back. It had really been a rather easy job from a physical level. Just walking around to the last place an energy signal had been located, then carrying it back to the morgue. On an emotional level, though, it was almost impossible to bear. Seeing all those `bots who had so much to live for destroyed by a sick and selfish campaign was depressing. Why had some like Rodimus made it back, but they hadn't?
Hot Shot hadn't been able to take it, and as soon as the first required shift was over he had hitched a ride with Bumblebee and Sari to Earth on the pretense of a 'vacation'. Only Rodimus really knew that it was actually an escape from all of the carnage.
Funerals were held in all of those `bots' honors, almost all of them headed by Optimus Magnus himself. Rodimus couldn't figure out whether it was another appeal for an increase in his popularity, or because their leader really cared.
No. That was rude. Rodimus had gotten to know Optimus a lot more recently, and he knew that he wasn't that kind of `bot. He was truly compassionate and always put the needs and interests of his people first. And at the moment, the people needed remembering.
Ultra Magnus had been one of the chassis that had been laid to rest. The sight of their former leader completely gray was as shocking as it was expected. Everybot had been preparing for it since the assassination attempt, whether consciously or not. His eulogies had been especially long, far longer than any of the others, though nobot seemed to mind. Somehow he still had a considerably high rating.
In the midst of this, Rodimus had noticed something rather odd: the distinct lack in a funeral for Sentinel. In fact, it was like nobot realized he was gone yet, or something like that. Knowing his dangerously low appeal, there should be cheering in the streets for stellar cycles to come. Or some sort of celebration held in honor of his death. Not that anything of the sort would happen; Optimus would've have severely punished anybot who had taken part in it. Rodimus didn't fret over this ignorance, though. It was something he'd figure out later.
He looked up to see Red Alert walking toward him with two other sciencebots at her side. Their names suddenly escaped him, but he knew he had seen them before. If his memory served correctly, the one with the yellow circle on his helmet had a particularly bland voice pattern, and the taller one was explosion-happy. He could remember hearing the blasts in the background of several of Red Alert's video conferences with them.
Oh! That was right! Their names were Wheeljack and Perceptor!
"Hey, Alert." He greeted.
"Heard you have a meeting with Optimus Magnus." She said, "Must be something big. Not that I know anything about it."
"Which you do not." Perceptor reminded with deliberate pauses between each word, his own way of emphasizing without betraying the slightest emotion.
Rodimus quickly figured out the meaning behind their odd behavior. Perceptor held a seat on the council as the representative from the Ministry of Science. The council probably convened earlier and discussed whatever Optimus had summoned him to speak about. Then Red Alert (and possibly Wheeljack, though Rodimus didn't know how nosy he was) coaxed this information out of him, as gently as possible with Red Alert doing it. The poor mech must have been nagged nonstop until he couldn't take it anymore. Rodimus was glad he hadn't been in his situation. This time.
But that also meant that whatever this meeting was going to be about was highly important.
"Yeah, I am going to see him." Rodimus replied, "And I'm sure we'll talk about that something you don't know anything about."
"I'm sure of it too." Wheeljack added, confirming Rodimus's suspicions.
"It seems crucial to remove the details from my processor and upload it to my secure backup the next time I attend a council meeting." Perceptor said, adjusting his visor.
"Oh that." Wheeljack waved his servo, "Don't bother. I already know the access codes."
Perceptor blinked. "It seems crucial that I modify the codes as soon as I sedate Wheeljack for precaution of an accidental discovery."
"Aw, Percy, you know you wouldn't do that to me."
"I informed you earlier-"
"Look at us, still talking when there's science to do!" Wheeljack exclaimed, cutting Perceptor off.
"'Science to do'?" Red Alert asked, amused.
"It's either add the verb 'do' or turn 'science' into a verb itself. And 'sciencing' doesn't sound quite as official, now does it?" He explained, "Anyways, we need to get back to the twins soon."
"Slaggit, I hate it when you're right."
"You should have gotten used to it by now."
She ignored this and turned to Rodimus. "Sorry. I'll have to check up on you again later."
"That's fine." He insisted, "Besides, then we'll get to talk all about this stuff you don't know anything about."
"I can't wait."
They said their goodbyes and hurriedly departed, the sciencebots headed back to the opposite end of the corridor, Rodimus to the ominous office of Optimus Magnus. He was suddenly incredibly nervous. What could he possibly want to meet with him for, the leader of a space bridge team? And something important enough to go through the council first…?
The door to the office was already opened, and after a deep breath Rodimus knocked on the side, not wanting to enter uninvited.
Optimus looked up, startled. He had been typing on the keyboard in front of him which was attached to one of many screens on his desk. He looked tired and worn out, but that wasn't anything new for a Magnus.
"Oh, hello Rodimus."
"You wanted to see me, sir?" Rodimus asked, taking the greeting as an approval to come in. He walked up to the desk slowly. "Did I come too early?"
"No, no. I'm just running a little behind on another eulogy. It can wait, though, I suppose." He pushed the keyboard aside, "It's hard to think of anything creative when its become…so repetitive."
It was then Rodimus realized that there was only one `bot who hadn't received a eulogy yet. Optimus had to be working on that one.
He felt his insides knot up a bit. Rodimus was unwillingly reminded of the past, things he had done. A guilt washed over him, both for interrupting Optimus now of all times and for his actions.
"I…uh…I'm sorry for what I said to him. Right before he went." Rodimus said softly. "It was disrespectful and out of line, since I wasn't even really on the council and..."
"Don't beat yourself up about it. Sentinel deserved everything that you said to him." Optimus replied, "In fact, I'd say that all of his comments before you spoke up were much more disrespectful and out of line."
Rodimus bit down hard to keep himself from letting his mouth hang open. It made it difficult to talk, but it was worth not looking so stupid. "But, sir…"
"It's alright Rodimus. Besides, I didn't call you here to talk about Sentinel." He paused, "What do you think about the Decepticons?"
The question took him by surprise almost as much as Optimus's dismissal of his rudeness toward his offline friend. Decepticons? He wanted to know about his opinion on that? Well, let's see: Scum of the universe. Evil brutes. Always lying. Monsters. Tried to slagging offline him with cosmic rust. For some reason, though, Rodimus had the feeling that this wasn't the kind of answer his leader was wanting out of him. He thought it over for a nanoclick more before replying.
"In a word: Complicated."
"And in two words?"
Rodimus blinked. "Uh…very complicated. Sir."
"That's three words, Rodimus." Optimus said with a smile, "And, please. Stop with the formalities."
"Okay…" He struggled to think of what to call him instead of 'sir' and ended up with nothing. "Okay."
"I'd like to know why you think Decepticons are complicated."
"Well…they are violent and brutal to us…" Rodimus admitted, "But, I wonder whether that's partially our fault."
"We took away the only home they had. If they didn't have a reason to try to kill us on a regular basis before, after we drove them off they definitely did." He explained, "It's not exactly what I learned from the history vids…but it's something I kinda figured on my own. One of the bases of hostility is territorial protection."
"How did you come to this conclusion?"
Rodimus didn't understand where this was all heading. To him it seemed that Optimus was just asking him random questions about their mortal enemies. But was there something hiding behind those seemingly innocent questions, ready to strike while he was unprepared. He nervously rapped a finger on his side as he considered his next answer.
"Probably when Megatron offered to join forces. I'd never seen a `con do something like that before."
"And why do you think he did that?"
"He wanted to protect himself, most likely." He said with a shrug, "But there's the chance he was also concerned about his forces and the home he had been fighting so hard to reclaim."
"So what should we do with them?"
"With who, sir?" Rodimus asked, then shook his head, "I mean…I didn't mean to say 'sir' right then. Sorry. Force of habit."
Of course. He should've known. "I'm not sure. I personally don't know too much about everything they've done…but I have a feeling you already have an idea with what to do."
Optimus nodded. "They seemed willing to work with us in the middle of a crisis…so with some time I don't see why they won't be able to be cooperative all the time. Of course…they will have to spend their share in the stockade, but I think we can improve conditions there so it won't be quite so bad."
"Is that possible?"
"I…I'm not sure. But I'm going to try. If we show them kindness, maybe they'll finally learn." He informed, "Before they assimilate back to Cybertron, we'd give them a trial period on a colony nearby. At least they wouldn't be in the stockade the whole time…freedom is the right of all sentient beings."
"Do you think the council will agree with you?"
"It matters. Do you think they should act on their pain, or on doing what is right?"
"I'd do what is right. And becoming allies with the Decepticons is the only way of stopping all of this fighting." He stopped, then added, "Not that I don't think we're capable of defeating them by force, but that could just end in more casualties for us as well."
"Exactly." Optimus stood up, "Alright, then. I've made my decision."
"About the `cons?"
"No. About you."
About him? How had anything they had been talking about apply to him? They had spent cycles on Decepticons, and now they were just suddenly changing the subject? As Optimus approached, Rodimus thought he could hear the wheels in his own processor turning, trying to find out what was going on.
"With Sentinel gone…well, I don't really have anybot that I know and trust to be my successor. Not that he would've been the best either…" He sighed, giving a sad smile, "But then I met you. You have a lot of potential, Rodimus. I'd heard a lot about your reputation before."
No. No, he couldn't be serious! Rodimus's spark beat so fast that it threatened to overload itself. "Isn't too early to be thinking about that?" He asked uneasily, wondering if this was all a set up of some kind.
"It's never too early to be preparing. Especially in these times when everything is so spontaneous." Optimus said, "Who would've known that Dirge would have attacked when he did?"
"But…but I'm not qualified at all…I…I…"
"Ironhide said you would be modest and refuse my offer."
"I…you spoke with Ironhide?"
"Yes. And with Brawn and Red Alert. They really respect you, you know that?" Optimus replied, "You should be proud. They're proud of you."
"This is all so sudden." Rodimus confessed, "I'm…I can't think straight. Sorry."
"Don't apologize. I had the same reaction when Ultra Magnus chose me." He reassured, "But unlike me, you actually want this."
Yes. It would be a lie to say that this wasn't what Rodimus wanted. How could it be not what everybot wanted? He could remember when he first made this his goal. All of his friends had laughed at him. Even when he had first confided this to his teammates they had been skeptical. Only Hot Shot had laughed that time, and it was because he had seriously thought it was a joke.
Is that why he was so unsure to believe this was real?
"So…you want me to be your successor?" He asked.
"What about my team?" The words felt funny coming out of his mouth. Going back on that asteroid to defend the space bridge? Not something he would usually want. But at the moment it was the only place he really felt like he belonged.
"We're having a bit of a shortage on willing volunteers to man space bridges." Optimus winked, "Anyways, most council members join in via video screen conferences."
"This is all really happening, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is."
"Wow…" He put his servo over his chestplate in an attempt to slow down his sparkbeat.
"Now that you've got that straightened out, do you accept?" Optimus asked.
Rodimus looked straight at his leader with a newfound awe. He was serious. He was really serious. Well, there was only one thing to say to that.
"When do I start?"
Now its really over D: Wow...Its done...
Anyways. Points for those who can find the Portal and Azumanga Daioh references!
Also, questions about the series are encouraged, as I purposefully didn't write some `bots' fates. You can ask about stuff that's already happened, stuff I didn't talk about, etc. If you are asking about characters that I didn't write too much of, though, a fair warning: I am not J.K. Rowling who has ever character that says more than two lines's future mapped out twenty years past (okay, over-exaggerating much). So I'll probably be making it up on the top of my head for that kinda stuff.
For all who have stayed with it this far, thank you so incredibly much for your support and kind words!
'Til All Are One!