A member of Botosphere, Eowynn-77, sent me a PM which mentioned that her son owns an item with Optimus' imprint on it. That connected to a pre-existing plot bunny. Be warned.

Not mine, HasTak's and about nineteen other people's, including the ones who make … well, you'll find out. Anyway, that's for profit. This is for fun.

Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, described in Top Secret documents from many governments as "The most dangerous individual now alive on the face of the Earth," stretched a little in the chair custom-made for his 28-foot self.

The desk in front of him, also custom-made, was 12 feet, seven inches high. The humans' platform at the other side of it was an additional seven feet up. A single flight of winding stairs led up to the platform, and another human-sized table had been placed on it, with chairs around it.

The Autobots' business manager glanced at him, and then away. He didn't like being, either metaphorically or physically, across the table from his client.

But he wasn't an Autobot.

Neither was the present speaker. "So you see, Optimus, there are quite a few advantages to allowing us to market Autobot-facsimile toys to children. One is that it does generate royalties to you and your group; the greater good may be that you become familiar to us. We'll get used to you by seeing you in the hands of our children. The clothing lines especially will make a lot of money for you, and generate some real brand-awareness right across the globe."

Optimus, like many veterans of business meetings across the universe, had long ago extracted the meat from the motion of what the marketing manager had to say, and had made three decisions already: one was that the Autobots would do this, and the second was that however many copies of, say, a Sideswipe or a Swoop toy were sold, both Sideswipe and Swoop would benefit equally. It would go into the coffers and be divided up among all Autobots.

For one thing, that would keep the size of Sunstreaker's helm within roughly normal bounds.

The third was that if they were not totally dependent on any human government for funding, the Autobots could pretty well do what they liked with their money. The divergence between Autobot and human culture was massive, and their differences made the process of funding throb like an aching dentum anytime Optimus wanted to get something done. Money which did not have to be accounted for in triplicate would not come amiss.

"Very well," Optimus said, as the man opened his mouth again. "What products did you have in mind?"

They had in mind t-shirts, in nearly every size that humans came in; billed caps for large and small humans; footed sleeping garments for very small humans; sleeping garments without feet for slightly larger humans; underwear for small male humans; various cups to be filled with fluids humans drank, but most Autobots avoided (mostly for reasons of corrosion. The fact that their tiny allies regularly ingested this stuff without suffering harm gave the Autobots more respect for them than they might otherwise have had); bowls with Autobots' faces on the inside bottom, where they would be covered with food ...

"Wait," Optimus said. "Explain this to me."

The marketing manager glanced at the business manager. "Optimus, sometimes children don't want to eat food that is good for them. If it's put into an Autobot bowl, the parent can tell the child that if he eats the food, he'll get to see his friend Optimus Prime again."

Optimus tilted his head. "This works, and the child is not resentful of the subterfuge?"

The marketing manager lied right through his teeth. "Oh no, Optimus. They want to see their heroes again, so they eat the food."


"Many children regard you and your group as heroes, Optimus."

The Autobot leader was truly confused. "But … isn't that a reason not to deceive them, and not to compel them to purchase these items?"

"Optimus," the marketing manager said, "believe me, with what you've done for us, no compulsion is going to be necessary. The children know you for heroes, and they will want these. Trust me."

That was an odd request from a man who was practically radiating stress hormones, Optimus thought. But he nodded. "Very well. What else?"

… small replicas of themselves, in plastic and metal, in several sizes, root mode, alt-mode, and transforming, and …

"A what?"

"A toothbrush, Optimus." The manager held up a model. "It uses batteries, and it's a really good way to keep a child's teeth clean and healthy."

"May I see it?" Optimus said, and held out his foot-and-three-quarter wide hand.

The marketing manager laid the tiny object in his palm.

Optimus brought it up to his face, and regarded it carefully. They all heard the gears in his optics refocus from "near" to "microscopic."

Finally he said, "It looks like me. But why do I have a toothbrush coming out of the top of my head? Wouldn't it be better if I were holding it?"

There was a long pause. Why indeed. "We have no way to make one like that sturdy enough to work well and still be light enough for a child to hold," the marketing manager finally said.

"I see. I had forgotten that your metal technology is so very different from ours. -Whose countenance, beside my own, would you put on these objects?"

"Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Prowl, Mirage, Bluestreak …"

"Not Sunstreaker?"

The manager hesitated. "He didn't have a part in the movie, Optimus. He's not so much in the public eye as the others."

"Mmph." Getting Sunstreaker to do the posing had been his worst nightmare anyway … but Optimus suddenly realized he had another role for the tempermental bot. "All right, we'll do it. But we will supply the artwork."

The manager looked blank. "The models, as well as the sketches?" he said.

"Let me consult with my staff," Optimus said smoothly. "I know we have an artist on board the Ark; I do not know if he works in clay."

He did work in clay, but scale presented a problem. Sunstreaker's "miniature" sculpture of Optimus was nine foot high.

In terms of scale, it made sense, the marketing manager realized. He usually saw two-foot-tall sculptures of humans.

However, "Optimus Prime" was also Cybertronian in execution. If ever there were a demonstration that human and Cybertronian optics functioned differently when recording three dimensions, "Optimus Prime," all one hundred and eight inches of him, was it.

The sketches worked, being two-dimensional, even if they were four feet square, the smallest scale to which Sunstreaker could work accurately.

But this … the manager walked around the statue, trying to find something to say other than, "I refuse flatly to sell this to human children. Because if I do, I will be responsible for every nightmare on earth for the next ten years."

Finally he settled for, "You know, it has a beauty all its own. But I didn't realize how differently humans and Cybertronians process visual information until now." He turned to face Sunstreaker, and had his life-insurance company seen the look on the yellow bot's face, they would have quadrupled the man's premiums, right then and there. (And the human could not perceive it, but "Stand down, Sunstreaker!" rang through the comm, not just from Optimus but from Prowl and Sideswipe as well. Poor Sunstreaker didn't faint. Somehow.)

The human continued, "I could introduce you to an art agent, Sunstreaker, and you will probably find a gallery to take this. And it will sell. It's exquisitely beautiful. But, because of the differences in perception, I can't use it as we had planned."

Sunstreaker's fuel pump quickened. "I'd be grateful for the introduction," he said, nodding.

Later, the Autobots' own business manager would have a chat with Optimus. This would result in Sunstreaker paying the Autobots a fee every time he sold a work, as, while he might be an Autobot, he was still bootstrapping off the brand name.

Money works in mysterious ways. God does too, but that's because He watched, and took notes.

Several stellar cycles later, it had all worked out to everyone's benefit.

Or so Optimus thought at the end of one orn, readying himself for recharge. The toys sold well, and they were well-made, even though Optimus had had to Make a Suggestion that this be so.

Sideswipe had been disappointed that underwear with his own face on it did not come in his size. He resolved this issue for himself by having it custom-made; he could afford this because, once the toy income began to roll in, he found that human stock markets meant money for the taking to a former Iacon trader.

The underwear required fifty-one yards of inch-thick fabric, a custom silk-screening project of an image covering four square yards, the kind of sewing machine used to create stadium tarps, fifteen hours of fittings, to begin which tailors in Singapore (why go with less than the best, Sideswipe figured) crawled all over a recumbent Sideswipe with measuring tapes in their hands, and thirteen miles of thread. This resulted in two sets of T-shirt and Y-front, one red, one yellow. He'd actually considered a set in silver, but Sam Witwicky had said something about "Lady Gaga's alt-mode." No, red it was.

Sunstreaker refused absolutely to wear his, or even to try it on, citing his twin's ability to circulate the resulting image all over internet. As this had indeed been Sideswipe's plan, the silver twin just grinned, and kept both for himself.

Bluestreak was said to be saving up his own money, as his had proven to be an unexpectedly popular image as well, for underwear … even after Sam explained to Sideswipe that he really shouldn't wear his custom-tailored duds when on patrol outside the Ark.

Sideswipe had been unpersuaded, until the young Prime raised the possibility of battle-damage to the precious garments.

Sideswipe still wore them everywhere inside the Ark, though. They were getting terribly oil-stained, and the silver twin was a bit … impactful on the olfactory sensors, as a result.

Optimus realized that he was going to have to insist that Sideswipe change, and wash, his underwear on a regular basis. This would be a first among Autobots, if no surprise to the mothers of human eight-year-olds.

Optimus finished tidying his quarters, and, approaching his berth, picked up a tiny object from its recharging stand. Extending a dainty probe from one finger, he pushed the "on" button, and conscientiously brushed his denta with his tiny plastic rechargeable self.

Yes, it was all working out very well indeed.