And here's the final part! Optimus, stuck in his Academy past, has had a second chance to meet his old friend Elita-1. Old feelings have arisen again between the two, but could an old love change the future that Optimus knows? Or are there some things that just weren't ever meant to be changed?
If any of you are seeing parallels between this chapter and an episode of the 90s show "Gargoyles" called "Vows", then good observation!
In Another Time - Part 3
Blackarachnia shot a small splodge of webbing from one of her back-mounted spider legs onto two torn electrical cables that she was holding together. The webbing managed to connect the cables into one curved line. She released them then fitted a covering metal panel back over the exposed internal systems. She stood up from her completed repair work on the control panels for the transwarp generator.
"That should be enough to get it working again," she informed herself.
She pushed a button. The charging sound of reactivating internal circuitry emanated from the control panels. Blackarachnia looked up at the readings screen above the controls as it came back online. Lines of numbers and symbols shot across the screen. Her fingers began to tap rapidly at several keys.
"Now to recall the last settings for his temporal and physical coordinates," she told herself.
Blackarachnia watched in focused concentration as several more lines of information appeared on the screen. Then the words: 'TEMPORAL AND SPATIAL COORDINATES RECALLED' flashed on it. Blackarachnia's red optics narrowed intently.
"Found you, Optimus," she murmured.
She gripped a lever to her side and pulled it down. Her four optics travelled up to the transwarp generator towering in front of her. A small ball of white light manifested in the centre of the generator's spires and began to expand into a larger circle. Blackarachnia walked towards it.
"Time to bring you back," she uttered.
She shot a line of webbing up to the cave ceiling and swung herself into the light of the transwarp portal.
Optimus remained perfectly still as he quietly watched Elita resting peacefully against him, her head lying next to his neck, her optics shut off. He had brought one of his hands to rest comfortably on her lower back, whilst his other was laid over her wrist on his right shoulder.
"Guess there's something about the past that still surprises me after all," he murmured down at her.
Seemingly lost in contentment, Elita did not seem to hear Optimus.
Flashes of lightning crackling in the dark sky to his side caught Optimus' attention. He turned his head to observe the phenomenon. Immediately, he recognised that it did not appear natural. It looked like a single circular whirlwind forming in the sky with lightning bolts crackling from it. Optimus quickly realised what it could be.
"Elita, look at the sky," he alerted.
Somewhat reluctantly, Elita lifted her head off Optimus' shoulder and followed the direction of his pointing finger with her optics.
"I think...it's another transwarp portal opening up," Optimus quickly informed, "We need to get to it."
Elita glanced briefly at Optimus, seemingly uncertain. Then she returned her gaze ahead.
"It...looks like it's appearing above the courtyard area where I first found you," she said somewhat hesitantly.
"Then let's transform and roll out."
Optimus transformed into his Earth fire truck mode followed by Elita transforming into a sleek gold Cybertronian vehicle. They drove off side by side toward the lightning phenomenon ahead.
When they reached the Autobot Academy courtyard where Optimus had first landed, Optimus and Elita transformed back to bot modes. They were immediately confronted with the incredible sight of a white portal hanging in mid-air a few feet from the ground. It was directly below the whirlwind and lightning phenomenon in the sky.
"It is a transwarp portal!" Optimus declared, "She must have opened up another one..."
Suddenly, to Optimus and Elita's surprise, a dark figure emerged from the portal and dropped to the ground before them in a crouch. Optimus' optics widened in instant recognition as the dark figure stood up.
"Blackarachnia...," Optimus breathed.
Blackarachnia glared coldly at him then at her younger self, Elita-1, standing beside him staring back at her warily.
"Optimus, you sentimental fool," she uttered.
Before Optimus could react or reply, Blackarachnia shot two thick lines of webbing at him from her back-mounted arachnid legs. Elita watched in shock as Optimus was thrown back onto the ground by the force of the webbing hitting him. It bound his upper body and he struggled to break free. Blackarachnia began to approach him. Elita immediately ran to his defence and took a firm stance in front of him, facing Blackarachnia.
"Stay away from him!" Elita shouted, "I don't who you are, but I won't let you hurt him!"
She raised her fisted hands in a fighting stance and glared defiantly at Blackarachnia. Blackarachnia stopped and narrowed her red optics at her younger self.
"Believe me, I know exactly how you feel about him, Elita-1," Blackarachnia said bitterly.
Elita watched Blackarachnia suspiciously.
"How do you know my name? Who are you?" she demanded.
"I guess it's kind of hard to recognise yourself when you've changed this much," Blackarachnia darkly uttered.
Elita's large blue optics widened for a moment and she gaped. But her gaze quickly hardened again.
"You're lying!" she shot, "You wear the Decepticon badge! You don't look a thing like me!"
Blackarachnia gazed unsympathetically at Elita.
"If you don't believe me, you can ask Optimus," she sneered, dropping her accusative gaze down to Optimus lying tied behind Elita.
Confused and uncertain, Elita slowly turned her head to look behind her down at Optimus. He met her questioning gaze with a regretful one.
"Elita...," he whispered, "she's...telling the truth..."
Shock and horror rose in Elita's expression. She snapped her head forward again to see Blackarachnia walking right up to her.
"Yes, I am you! Your future self!" Blackarachnia declared forcefully. She pointed spitefully at Optimus. "Because of him, I am what you will become! A techno-organic freak! He will abandon you to die, but I am what will happen to you instead!"
Elita threw a disbelieving look down at Optimus as Blackarachnia continued to overwhelm her with her venomous accusations of him.
"You think he's so noble? You think he really cares about you? Don't delude yourself! If he ever has to, he'll leave his friends behind to save himself! Ultimately, he'll look out for his own skid-plate!"
Elita watched Blackarachnia in frozen fear and denial as her obvious hatred grew in intensity and force.
"Optimus Prime will betray you! He will be your downfall! Him and Sentinel both! You're better off never having known either of them! Stay away from them! Don't let them get close to you! Don't let yourself care for them! Don't let yourself care for anyone! No-bot is trustworthy! You can only trust yourself!"
Elita began to shake her head in unwilling rejection at Blackarachnia. Blackarachnia's lips twisted in anger and she seized Elita by her shoulders.
"Don't you understand that I am trying to save you from my fate? From being hurt by him?"
Blackarachnia threw an unforgiving glance at Optimus. He turned his face away painfully from her. Elita watched him with concerned and conflicted optics.
"Can't you see that I am right?" Blackarachnia pressed forcefully at her younger self, "That I am what you will become if you don't listen to me?"
Elita suddenly thrust her hands forward and pushed Blackarachnia away from her.
"I don't want to be like you! I will never be like you!" she cried.
Elita roared as she threw herself at Blackarachnia. Blackarachnia grabbed her wrist just before she collided into her and swung her younger self onto the ground. Elita, lying on her back, moaned in pain.
"You've got a lot to learn, Elita!" Blackarachnia hissed down at her, "And you will learn my lesson even if I must beat it into you!"
Suddenly, something grabbed and pulled one of Blackarachnia's legs out from under her. She slammed into the ground. Looking down at her legs, she saw one of Optimus' grappler cables holding onto her ankle. She looked up to see that Optimus had broken free from her webbing.
"Elita, run!" he shouted desperately.
Elita quickly got to her feet again and ran to join him.
"I'm not leaving without you!" she stubbornly declared.
A combination of gratefulness and guilt entered into Optimus' spark at Elita's declaration. If only he could have said the same to her back on Archa Seven...
Elita stopped beside Optimus and activated her downloading power. She lifted a brightly glowing arm up to him.
"Mind if I borrow some of your upgrades?"
Optimus nodded and Elita pressed her palm onto his chest. She pulled her arm back as soon as her download completion beep sounded from her systems. Meanwhile, Blackarachnia reached down to the grappler cable that was pulling at her leg. She swiped at it with the spikes jutting out of her lower arm and successfully cut herself free.
"You'll live to regret that you did not heed my advice!" she snarled at Elita as she stood up, "It'll be too late when you realise the mistake you made in trusting Optimus!"
Simultaneously, Optimus and Elita launched two spinning bola-whips at Blackarachnia. She ducked low and avoided them both. As she brought herself up again, Optimus charged toward her and reached out to grab her. Blackarachnia easily jumped to the side and out of Optimus' immediate reach. But then she felt another grappling hook grip her wrist. It had come from Elita. Using her downloaded grappler cable from Optimus, Elita swung Blackarachnia around herself and threw her hard against a wall. The impact was enough to stun Blackarachnia and knock her offline. She slumped to the ground in stasis lock.
Elita retracted her grappler cable and sadly watched her incapacitated future self in silence. Optimus approached Elita slowly.
"Are you...alright, Elita?" he asked tentatively.
Elita kept her gaze focused on Blackarachnia.
"No. No, I don't think I'm going to be alright at all..." Her optics fell brokenly. "Is this truly what I am to become?" She raised a hand to her face and covered her emotional pain. "What am I to do?"
Optimus pulled Elita into his embrace and held her against himself. Elita pressed herself against him, accepting his comfort and reassurance.
"Remember what I told you, Elita," he whispered softly, "Don't look to the future waiting for tragedy to happen. Live in the moment. Cherish your life and your friendships. If and when a time comes when you are alone and afraid in the darkness, hold on to the things that make you radiant and beautiful: your compassion, your trust, your love... Don't give in to hatred and fear. Never forget who you truly are deep down, no matter how much you may change on the outside."
Leaning her head into his neck, Elita hugged Optimus tighter.
"Don't leave me alone, Optimus," she whispered almost pleadingly.
Optimus' optics darkened. There was a moment of silence as he and Elita simply stood holding one another.
"Forgive me, Elita," Optimus murmured, "for what I may do to you."
He began to pull away, but then Elita took hold of one of his hands, clutching it like a precious object.
"If something bad is to happen to me in future, then let me give me you something now, while I still can...and want to," she said determinedly.
She released Optimus' hand and, opening up a small compartment in her arm, pulled out a small diamond-shaped crystal pendant on a fine chain. She held it before Optimus. It looked very familiar to him...
"Remember this?" Elita prompted, "You gave it me as a construction date gift five deca-cycles ago."
"I remember...," Optimus answered, looking closely at the crystal pendant like he had just found an old possession that had been lost for a very long time, "And you've been keeping it on you?"
Elita nodded with a smile and placed the crystal pendant into Optimus' hand, closing his fingers over it.
"Keep it," she insisted, "Whatever happens, at least you'll always have this to remember me better by. Consider it...a token of my love."
Keeping a hold of the crystal pendant in his closed hand, Optimus brought his arms around Elita one more time and embraced her. She returned his embrace.
"Thank you, Elita," Optimus uttered.
He lowered his lips to Elita's audio sensor.
"I'll be waiting for you in the future, Elita, whenever you're ready to come back to me..."
Optimus' blue lips approached her face. They hovered over her turquoise lips for a fleeting second, then rose up to her gold forehead. There he planted a tender kiss.
Optimus drew back from Elita, their embracing arms sliding apart reluctantly. He turned away from her and walked up to Blackarachnia's unmoving form. He picked up her limp body in his arms. Then he turned toward the transwarp portal hovering in the air above him. He looked back at Elita one final time. Elita waved to him.
"Good bye, Optimus..."
Optimus smiled subtly at her.
"Good bye, Elita..."
With Blackarachnia in his arms, Optimus leapt up, disappearing into the white light of the portal. Elita watched stunned as the portal closed up abruptly, leaving no trace of its presence behind. A melancholy expression began to settle on her face.
She turned to see Optimus walking up to her, her Optimus.
"Are you alright?" he questioned with a hint of concern, "I thought I heard voices. What are you doing back out here?"
Elita smiled, her expression lifting at the sight of him.
"Looking for you, Optimus."
The young Optimus blinked in surprise.
"Looking for me?" he repeated, puzzled, "Why?"
Elita approached him and watched in mild amusement as he shifted nervously at her close proximity.
"I think we should spend more time together. How 'bout we go out tonight? Somewhere quiet. Just us."
She watched a surprised expression come over Optimus' face.
"But...don't you have plans with Sentinel?"
Elita placed her hands on her hips in mild annoyance.
"No, I didn't agree to anything with him tonight. Despite what he would have everybot believe, we're not a couple you know. Besides, what's a little outing between two friends?" She smiled sweetly up at Optimus. "So what do you say, Optimus?"
Optimus' words came out clumsily.
"Uh...s...sure! I mean, yes! I'd like to."
Elita's smile widened.
"Somehow, I had a feeling you would."
Elita slid her arms around one of Optimus's. They began walking off together.
"So where would you like to go?" Optimus asked.
Elita gazed at him affectionately.
Optimus emerged out the other end of the portal carrying Blackarachnia. Though he descended from a considerable height, he managed to land on his feet this time upon the rock floor of Blackarachnia's cave. As he straightened up, Blackarachnia stirred in his arms. She came back online and held a hand to her head in discomfort, groaning. Then she looked up and realised who she was being carried by. Optimus was looking down at her with a calm and quiet expression. Blackarachnia's gaze hardened and she pushed herself off Optimus' supporting arms.
"Nothing's changed," she uttered darkly. Optimus listened to her quietly. "I have clear memories of meeting you all those stellar cycles ago...and it changed nothing! Sentinel still talked me into going to Archa-Seven, you still left me behind, I still became this!"
Blackarachnia swiped her sharp clawed fingers up and glared at them as she said the last word hatefully.
"I never forgot what you told me back then, Optimus," she continued bitterly, "but your words were meaningless when you abandoned me!"
Optimus' gaze fell disappointedly and he shut off his optics. Blackarachnia turned away from him, hugging herself.
"Obviously, history is immutable," she murmured desolately.
Optimus lifted his head again and began walking tentatively toward her.
She turned her head slightly back toward him. He held out his hand and revealed the crystal pendant he was holding to her. Blackarachnia turned fully to look at it. Her red optics narrowed.
"That old trinket...that was a lifetime ago..."
"And it can be a lifetime again." He looked into her red optics. "Elita, it doesn't have to be this way between us."
Blackarachnia looked away.
"That simple, huh? Just a matter of choice." She looked back emotionlessly at Optimus. "I think destiny's already taken that luxury out of our hands."
Optimus tilted his head slightly to one side.
"We decide what we are, what we can be..."
Blackarachnia raised her sharp fingers to Optimus' face and touched his metallic cheek. He lifted his hand as well and placed it lightly over hers.
"Poetic. You always had a way with words, Optimus."
Then, with lightning speed, she struck him. Her venomous spider legs jabbed forward and punctured the armour of his broad shoulders. Optimus cried out briefly before collapsing onto his side. Blackarachnia knelt down over his offline body and gazed at his still face. She brushed his cheek again lightly with the back of her fingers.
"In another time...and another place...maybe," she uttered.
She reached for his open hand holding the pendant. Slowly, she closed his fingers over it. Then she lowered her face toward his, her dark lips passing close over his blue ones, travelling upward to his crested forehead. She shut off her optics momentarily and planted a private kiss upon it. A tear trickled down her cheek and dropped onto his as she pulled herself up again.
Then she rose to her feet and quietly departed.
Time passed. Optimus made his way out of the large cave that had been Blackarachnia's hidden lab. He emerged out of the cave's wide entrance onto a rocky mountainside, stepping out into intense African sunshine.
He lifted up a loose fist in front of him and lowered his blue gaze down to it. His fingers opened to reveal the diamond-shaped crystal pendant lying in his palm. It sparkled under the sunlight.
A solemn but resolute expression shaped Optimus Prime's face.
"Past, present and future. I'll be waiting for you always, Elita," he whispered.