Fandom: Transformers Bayverse
Author: gatekat and femme4jack on LJ
Pairing: Mirage/Alicia Rodriguez
Rating: PG-13
Codes: Het, Xeno (Transformer/Human)
Summary: A vorn after the newspark he carried goes into its first frame, Mirage and Alicia suddenly feel dizzy when walking past Skyfire's lab. When it passes, they know they are seriously fragged.
Notes: Written in the Dathanna de Gray fanverse (community .livejournal .com/ tf_socket_fics)
"text" translated Cybertronian.

Dark Nobility 01: An Old World

Alicia was contentedly cradled in Mirage's arms as he walked to the newest incarnation of the rec room, which now comprised an entire level of the very Cybertronian looking city with Diego Garcia's lagoon still open to the sky in the middle. It blew her mind how much the island had changed in less than two hundred years without negatively impacting it's environment. So much had changed; so much had remained the same. She still felt the same way as in the first days after she'd met her mechs, yet a city had grown around them. Earth now boasted a population of eighty-eight Autobots, sixteen of which were sparklings, two dozen Neutrals and three Decepticon defectors beyond the Seekers. It also boasted five Autobot strongholds, two of which the human governments knew nothing about.

Then there were the big changes in her life. The sparkling that Mirage had carried had turned a vorn old a few years before. The infant girl sleeping in her arms was by Mirage, or, rather Cybertronian engineered tecnogenes that would have produced the noble Spaniard he chose as a holoform. She already knew their daughter was intelligent and would grow into a true Spanish beauty with her father's grace and noble bearing. She'd never felt so complete as the day when she'd given birth to her mech's child with both of them there, encouraging her and holding her hands, stroking her hair and body. While Mikaela had technically done the delivery, Ratchet was nearby, and every mech that was off duty was waiting just outside the medbay for news and the first look at their newest resident, right along with many of the claimed sockets.

While a source of a great deal of controversy, the birth of the first technohuman hybrid, the next step in humanity's evolution, was a great burst of hope and light for the entire island. Ma-le was completely in tears when newborn Esperanza was pronounced healthy. The Lisu woman was already carrying twins, one sired by each husband (with a great deal of help from Jazz and Mirage on the coding). It had taken her several tries, but as difficult as pregnancy was for her, she'd never seemed happier.

If everyone thought Prowl was doing a good imitation of an Akita while Jazz carried, it was nothing compared to his reaction to any threat to little Repertoire. It was adorable as long as you weren't the subject of his ire. And Jazz, the Unmaker's spawn and force of darkness in the Autobot army, Jazz was the most doting, adoring parent, savagely protecting his offspring from facing the harsher realities of life for as long as he could. One look and you knew he wanted to protect Starshine the same way, but his carrier was Seeker, and he was Seeker, so there wasn't much Jazz could do about it.

The new, yet ancient Cybertronian reproduction process was amazing to Alicia as well. Even though they were close to the same relative age, at least in her mind, a one vorn old sparkling was up, running, learning and playing more like a ten year old than the infant she was holding. She shivered slightly, remembering when they had first introduced Esperanza to Brisa. The femme has been so careful, so proper. As young as she was, she understood how fragile this issue of her carrier was and doted on her as much as her patience allowed.

"Brisa held Esperanza today. She did a wonderful job. So very gentle," Alicia commented quietly with a pleased smile.

"Good," Mirage's soft rumble and a couple cables kept the infant happily resting. "I have little doubt Esperanza's growth will be of great fascination to her and Repertoire, and I suspect a couple of the Seekerlings that are more inclined to carry."

"I will enjoy watching them, and look forward to the eager flock of babysitters...though I have my doubts they are ready to do that without supervision," she laughed. "Did you hear that Miles is bugging Jazz and Prowl that he wants a technohuman baby of his own? I guess he'd need a surrogate mother to carry the child, but it seems like it could be done."

"I have little doubt it's possible," Mirage chuckled affectionately. "I suspect the real question to answer is which of the three is best suited to carrying when they finally agree. I'm sure Jazz could, Miles should be able to with minor modifications, but they might find a relative of Miles is the best choice."

Alicia put her hand over her mouth so she wouldn't laugh hard enough to wake the baby. "Ok, either one of those options will break Miles' poor brain - modifying him to have a womb, or Jazz carrying a human child, no matter what kind of DNA made it."

"Then I'll leave it to Jazz to tell him," her noble teased. Abruptly his stabilizing gyros fell out of synch and his processors began to fall off line. With a last thought, he commanded his body to transform and put his socket and daughter inside.

Pain. There was pain as though every cell in her body was burning up. Then nothing. She could not feel Esperanza in her arms, could not feel the safety of Mirage around her, could not even feel herself.

It was the most terrifying sense of nothingness she could imagine, and it felt like it lasted forever before suddenly the pain ripped through her again and she could hear Esperanza screaming. The bond with Mirage was intact but empty. He was out cold. Hound was incredibly distant, but he was alive. It was all she could tell though.

She turned her focus on calming her daughter while she looked outside the large transparent roof of Mirage's alt. The sky was a golden with shimmers of white. Something like Earth, a bit more like Venus in its terraforming process, but not quite. Everywhere she looked, everything seemed to be made of metal.

Around her Mirage groaned and shuddered as he booted, his processors reluctant to cycle to full awareness.

Alicia held the screaming six month old to her breast to quiet her. The infant latched on and suckled frantically, giving little shudders every few seconds.

~Espejismo?~ she asked, knowing communication through their bond could happen before vocal processors rebooted.

~She okay?~ he sounded as groggy and disoriented as she felt, but recovering faster. Abruptly something clicked as his reboot hit critical levels where he could actually think and processes information. "Primus! It can't be!"

Alicia tensed at his exclamation. "What it is, love? Where are we?" She asked softly, trying not to disturb Esperanza who was slowly calming down.

"Cybertron. Before the war," he managed to not stammer. "Home," he whispered and powered up the rest of his systems to roll forward, scanners looking for the nearest road. "That is Crystal City on the northern horizon."

Alicia couldn't help the look of horror that crossed her face. She instinctively held Esperanza tighter. The stories of Cybertron were mostly stories of loss and death. "How? Why? How long before the war?" Her voice sounded panicked.

What if they had come to the time when there had only been generators? Or right before the 'Cons destroyed the breathable atmosphere and killed nearly every socket that still remained on the planet?

"The ... the datanet says it's ... current," he struggled to grasp that. "This isn't the past. It's now. Somewhere else, but now."

He scanned the traffic without showing himself. Without a word he selected a new alt mode, one that wasn't nearly as optic-catching as what she was used to, and pulled into traffic headed for Crystal City.

"Another universe," Alicia whispered. "An alternate reality. Like a Star Trek episode." She shook her head, trying to get her mind around it. It had to be a bad dream. The landscape around her was so alien that she had an instinctive desire to simply hide. It had its own kind of harsh beauty, but there was nothing alive ... at least not organically alive, she corrected herself, and on some primal level, that fact made her nauseous. The city they were heading toward was eerily beautiful, and she focused on it because it looked like it had grown like a crystal. Her body was desperate to see something grown rather than built.

"You're distressed," Mirage stated the obvious. "Why? There is no immediate danger here."

"I don't know," she whispered. "It's my body that is distressed...even terrified. This feels so wrong to me...there isn't anything growing, Mirage."

"The crystals grow, metaloplants grow. The cities grow. Cybertron is as alive as Earth, just in a different material. You're carbon based. We are silica and metal alloys. If the war hasn't come, that means Primus is still alive within this shell," he shivered in joy at that realization.

"I know that in my head. It's the primitive part of me that is freaking out, Mirage. I'm sure I'll be able to see the beauty when the shock has worn off. If it were just you and I...I don't think I'd be so scared. But Esperanza...I mean, who knows why the war didn't come here. Maybe they never switched from the generators." No oceans, no trees, no birds singing, or buzz of insects, her traitorous mind whispered.

She wondered if that was how Mirage felt on everything was just wrong.

~Yes,~ he answered her softly. ~It is living in the opposite way as Cybertron. The first time I stepped onto an organic world...~ he shuddered and silenced, unable to go back to those memories willingly. "Maybe they just didn't change organics from property to full citizens overnight. The higher ranking mechs around us do have organics in them."

Somehow, it helped, knowing they both had similar reactions to something so alien. But this was Mirage's home...somehow as it should have been, not destroyed through war, and Mirage wasn't alien to her. Panicking did no good. Not for her, Esperanza, or Mirage. She looked down at Esperanza, now contentedly suckling, no longer hyperventilating. ~Please let her be safe,~ she whispered in prayer, not even realizing it was through their bond.

She focused on Mirage's awe and excitement and let it cover her like a blanket, stilling her fears. He was excited, and nervous, yes, but more in the way of not knowing what to find out first. She could feel him downloading and processing massive amounts of data to the point he only had the most minimal attention on her and traffic. Enough to be safe, but everything else went to the data mining.

As they passed into the open, spiraling gates of the city, it crossed her mind to wonder if these grew faster than crystals on Earth. After all, with a lifespan as long as the mechs, it could be viable to call that 'growing'.

All around her mechs were driving, stopping and transforming to walk, or walking. Gradually she realized that Mirage had a destination in mind.

At one point Mirage had told her that they estimated that between the two factions and neutrals 500 or less Cybertronians were left alive out of an original population of close a billion. She could see at least 500 mechs of various sizes in her vicinity.

~Where are we going, love?~ She asked, finally calm. Esperanza, she noted, had fallen asleep, as she often did following a big cry.

~The Tower district market,~ he answered, ducking into a little-used side street and opening his canopy. ~Please get out. I'll carry you from here out. I need energon and you need food.~

She quickly got out, wishing she had her sling for Esperanza. It was chilly, she noticed. Not freezing, but not comfortable, either. She was dressed for Diego Garcia, and it was probably 45 degrees. Esperanza was in a little red sundress Mirage had gotten for her

~I may need something to wear, too, and some blankets for Esperanza. She will chill fast here.~

She held the 6 month old close to her skin, trying to give her as much body heat as possible as she was transferred to his shoulder and settled there.

~Understood,~ he plugged into her socket to provide her with better translations and feedback on the environment. ~Be ready to grab hold fast. If she's about to make noise, I'll need to bolt. Being caught stealing would be a very bad thing with you here.~

Alicia shivered, not with cold, but with fear of being separated from her mech. ~I understand, love. I'll do my best to keep her silent. I think she'll be out for awhile.~

A wordless thought of thanks-approval came before she felt his mind change during a soft boot. He'd done so every once in a while before, in berth games, but this was the first time she'd felt him enter what might pass as a mission mode. With no one watching he cloaked them and moved as quickly as he could while running silent to the edge of the open air market a block away.

One look through her own eyes and she knew this was a higher-end marketplace. The mechs were flawlessly and intricately painted, many with stone and precious metal inlays in their armor, and walking sedately as they browsed. The ground and open storefronts were immaculate, as were the vendors. She could even smell food that would probably be suitable for her, and the now-familiar smell of specialty energon mixes.

Most of the mechs she saw had an organic with them, sometimes two, intricately decorated and highly groomed. Jeweled collars and other forms of ornamentation were the norm. The sheer variety of aliens perched on shoulders or held in hands was astounding. By comparison to the colorful plumage, scales and fur around her, she felt desperately plain, though she also quickly realized that her lack of fur, feathers, or scales would, in itself, make her very unique should they decide to reveal themselves, and she wasn't sure she wanted that kind of notice or not. The costumes that Mirage loved for her to dress up in when they were being creative with their fantasies suddenly made so much more sense to her, and despite the anxiety she harbored about their situation, a small smile came to her lips. It crossed her mind that seeing Mirage in his 'natural' environment was going to be a highly educating experience for the ecologist.

It wouldn't be a bad thing for his socket either. It was one thing to be told, or even shown memories of what had been, but this was her mech going back home. The modern Mirage, who had so little in common with that young mech that had watched his home destroyed ... how differently would he react?

She kept those thoughts in the front of her mind, putting the intellectual in charge so she didn't have to deal with the emotions as much. She was fairly sure he was doing the same thing, give or take, as he slid around mechs who had no idea he was there. A cube of flavored energon was the first to disappear to his hand from a stand selling refreshments. A package of solid energon confections was next, six stalls down.

A breathtakingly smooth dance across the walkway and a couple mech-sized squares of fabric were handed to her to wrap Esperanza in.

She could not hide her appreciation, and smiled broadly. If it were not for her concern for her child, this would actually be fun. A brush against her mind told her that Mirage would do everything in his power to keep both his socket and their daughter safe.

~You make a brilliant and lovely thief, Espejismo,~ she thought, caressing his mind in what she hoped would not be a distraction even as she wrapped Esperanza up in one of the intricate and beautiful clothes, and expertly tied the other around herself as a wrap that would both keep her warm, but that she could also tuck her baby into to keep her safe and snug, leaving Alicia's hand's free to hold on to Mirage if needed.

Hopefully Mirage had plenty of polishing cloths she could cut for diapers, because this was far too beautiful to take a scissors to, though she would if she had to.

~I do, and I know where to get as many as we need,~ he told her with an affectionate brush of his mind that didn't completely conceal how shudder-worthy he found that particular duty to be. ~You're remarkably calm about stealing,~ he observed as he began to work his way towards the smell of organic food.

~Not like we have anything to purchase with. Survival is a practical matter, love, and I get to see you in action.~

Seeing other organics had obviously calmed her down. Property, likely, considering what she knew of this culture from Mirage, but well cared for. She and Esperanza could survive, and at least she wasn't here by herself. There were far worse times in Cybertron's history to have landed.

Mirage slipped into a concession booth and calmly filched three small boxes that were decorative enough to be sold on their own before slipping out and down a side street, away from the slow-moving shoppers.

~I don't know what these will taste like, but they are nutritionally suitable for you,~ he daintily opened one of the boxes that was minuscule to him but too large for her to comfortably handle and plucked one of the bite-sized squares from it for her.

She had far too much adrenaline to feel hungry, but ate the square from the tips of his clawed fingers dutifully. Adrenaline could also decrease her milk supply, and Esperanza was growing fast.

It was a strange, but not unpleasant texture, and vaguely reminded her of a cross between nori and fried tofu.

~Not your chile rellanos, but edible and tasty,~ she commented. ~Do you think we will find a source of clean water? I'll need to stay hydrated with the rate that Esperanza is feeding these days.~

She really should have thought of that at the market, but had to grin when Mirage pulled a metallic water bottle out of subspace for her. He and Hound were all too aware of how thirsty she constantly was since she had been nursing.

~You are my thoughtful noble,~ she commented affectionately while draining the bottle like a runner who had just finished a marathon.

She felt the smile more than anything, and realized she was relaxing with him as he drained one of the energon cubes he'd taken. A flicker of a grimace crossed to her at the flavor, but he finished it quickly with thoughts of emergency field rations that were far worse.

~Now for a place to recharge, and a safe place for you while I do more delicate work,~ he murmured silently with an implicit apology that he would be leaving her.

She could not suppress her shiver of fear at the thought of being left alone with Esperanza, but there was no way around it. If he was leaving them, it meant that bringing them was more dangerous.

~Do you have any idea how we got here, love?~ she asked as they began to move again.

~Given our prior location, just outside Skyfire and Wheeljack's lab, I would assume some experiment went wrong,~ he shrugged mentally. ~Shelter and survival here is a higher priority. Then we can worry about what happened and how to fix it.~

~Of course,~ she replied, looking around her at the utterly alien city. The scale was overwhelming. Everything was symmetrical, and seemed to reach for the golden sky. Layer upon layer stretched above her, and in places went deep below. Many mechs walked, while others sped along in their alt forms on what clearly were designated as roads above and below the metal walkway they were on. Larger transports docked on spiked crystalline towers high above them, while fliers soared miles above looking like tiny birds, but who were surely as large or larger than any of the Seekers she had seen on base.

Esperanza began to stir, and she quickly put her to her breast, hoping to keep the baby quiet and keep attention off her, deliberately keeping herself very calm and relaxed so no anxiety would be transmitted to her child.

~Will she need anything?~ Mirage asked, most of his processors working on something, the distraction palatable across their bond.

~Just me, and likely a diaper soon, but not yet.~

~We'll have a room to stay in soon, one that allows organics,~ he told her. ~I have a clean polishing cloth you can cut up and use until I find a better option. I have checked the local laws. Organics are classified as a dog or cat would be on Earth. I will have to treat you as property in public to avoid suspicion. You do not have to be on a leash, but it would be a good idea to visibly mark you and Esperanza as mine. You will draw a great deal of attention.~

She was intellectually ready for what he told her. She had suspected it from what she saw in the market, and had expected it from what Mirage had told her of his culture prior to the war. What she didn't expect was the strength of her emotional reaction, the power of her outrage, not at Mirage who was only trying to keep them safe, but at the people who would view other sentient beings in such a way. Playing pet with her lovers could not prepare her for the reality of being one. But worse than herself, that her 6 month old child was, by law, property, and in this place, Alicia had no rights to the child who had come from her body and was fed by her own flesh.

She bit her bottom lip, took several deep breaths, and nodded.

~Whatever we have to do, love. I trust you.~

~I will do what I must to keep both of you safe,~ he promised her, something in the background warning that he would even if she hated it, or him, for it. ~For now, try to be still and not glare at those who will be staring at you, even trying to buy you. The less they realize you understand a great deal of High Cybertronian the better,~ he added as he dropped his cloak before stepping onto a busy street.

She felt her intellect take over the fire of her emotions once more. They had to survive. Attracting more attention than she would already was bound make things worse. She focused on the child in her arms, stroking Esperanza's dark, thick hair as the infant nursed frantically, as though having sensed her mother's emotions. Looking at her baby would keep her from glaring, or even gaping at the strange sights all around her.

~I'm sorry, I was expecting that, but I wasn't prepared for how the prospect would feel,~ she whispered through their bond. ~I know you'll do what you have to do, and I'll do my best to be convincing in the part.~

~Thank you,~ he sent a wash of appreciation and affection through the bond before most of his focus turned to answering questions and refusing to sell her or Esperanza as he walked.

She centered in on his perceptions to avoid focusing on her own. He was annoyed, but showing it in the arrogance of his bearing and clipped vocals. She'd see him do this, but never to quite this extent. Here, he really did think like he owned the universe and nothing he met was worthy of his attention or his pet.

It was an ugly thing to feel, even as she understood the use. He looked like a noble. He'd stand out all the more by not acting like one.

Then they were inside a grand building and the people, while no less curious, were decidedly more surreptitious about it.

He walked right up to the mech behind a large, wide desk ... check-in counter some part of her mind prompted ... and allowed himself to be greeted in very formal language.

"Strong Wind of Swift Sky," he said simply.

Her socket took a moment to translate the long string of intent behind the word ... his designation here ... and realized that he was passing himself off as a first creation in his former House.

~Strong Wind,~ she translated thoughtfully. It suited him.

~Yes,~ he smiled mentally at her, even though his visage was anything but happy as an assistant came out and bowed deeply to him before leading them into a lift. ~There will be suitable diapers and pins in the organic quarters of the suite and a way to order food once you understand what is edible to you. This is what you would classify as a five-star hotel.~

She almost asked how they would pay for it, but held the thought. Mirage, obviously, had already figured that out, or they wouldn't be here. It felt instinctively to her like a safe place, and it was obvious that Mirage commanded respect.

The lift was opaque to the outside, and as they rose in altitude she began to see the true scope of the vast city that stretched around them. The city itself was an amazing dance of symmetry, spiraling out from a center spire. It was clear where the city ended, but what lie beyond it was obviously urban as well.

~It is as beautiful to me as it is distressing to you,~ Mirage observed quietly.

~It is beautiful, Mirage. I can see that. It reminds me of a fractal. The distress is not that different than what I felt in New York, or the time we went to Beijing. I felt like I couldn't breath. I can only imagine what it is like for you to be seeing this, after what you have lost.~

Esperanza unlatched and let out a squawk, so she pulled her out of the wrap to burp her.

The other mech, small and immaculately detailed with simple colors, glanced up briefly, but did a good impression of not noticing. She was sure that it was part of his pay not to notice anything he wasn't expected to tend to.

She watched as they walked down corridors with clear walls to the outside and were shown to an entry room with the same austere aesthetic of crystal and metal as the rest of the city. Her immediate impression, beyond the sterile perfection, was utter exposure to the outside world. Every exterior wall was completely transparent.

"This will do," Mirage said in his most snobbish voice, sending the other mech away. ~She will need cleaning within half a breem,~ he warned and strode through the room and up the ark of a staircase to the second level of the suite.

Esperanza was fully awake now, looking around with the intense curiosity of a highly intelligent 6-month old.

"Hello mi hija," Alicia crooned. "What do you think of this pretty place?"

The dark haired infant gave her mother bright smile, then looked up at saw Mirage's face and her smile became even larger.

"Papa!" the baby called up to the mech, reaching out her tiny hand and smiling brightly. Alicia laughed as Mirage deposited them on an elaborate and gigantic berth. While not all that impressive from a sparkling point of view, the fact that a human child already had clear words at 6 months was an impressive testament to the genes her father had fabricated for her.

"Yes, papa, you and I are on an adventure, querida."

"Papa!" The dark haired child reached out again toward Mirage's face, which she was endlessly fascinated with, and then began crawling toward him. "Isa?"

"Brisa and Hound are not with us," he answered and knelt, offering his fingers to distract her from the more delicate mechanisms of his face. "It is just your mother and I."

The olive skinned baby grasped the elegant finger with both of her hands and began to work with deep concentration on pulling herself up, making little grunting noises as she got herself to her feet and balanced against him.

A second noise soon followed, though not from the lovely baby's mouth, and Alicia tried not to giggle at the sudden grimace on Mirage's face that he swiftly tried to change for her benefit. Not even Mirage could recode himself enough to lose his distaste for those type of organic physical functions.

"You'd better show us where those organic quarters are, love, so I can take care of that," she chuckled.

"Of course," he guided the baby towards her mother and picked them both up. He set her down by the door, sized for her as it slid open. The organic quarters were on the far end of the upper level, and somewhat to Alicia's surprise, were sized to her perfectly on first look. "The diapers should be out," he said as she took in the space that was no less elegant and high-end than the rest of the suite, yet it also had numerous features in the design and decorations with more organic sensibilities.

Posh owner, posh pet flitted threw her mind unbidden. Of course anyone who could afford this kind of luxury would expect their organics to be just as pampered as they are.

There was not a doubt, looking around her and looking outside the transparent crystal walls that this was a society at its prime. While Diego Garcia was an amazing city from a human point of view, it was nothing compared to what she saw above and below her. She estimated that she was at least a mile in the air above what seemed to be the 'surface' level of the city, though in reality she could see that the city went deep below the 'surface' of the planet. It wasn't even clear that there was a true surface, or whether it was layer built upon layer, going to the core of the world.

She found the diapering supplies, far more advanced than cloth with pins. It was some sort of 'smart', beautifully colored material, extremely thin that formed itself naturally to Esperanza's shape after she had been cleaned off. She threw the soiled diaper and wipe into the recycler and then put her curious little beauty on the floor to explore.

She could easily fool herself into believing that they were on some sort of vacation with Mirage. It just happened to be a vacation to a world and culture that no longer existed in this form. That it was a vacation they might never return from was not a thought she could not allow herself to dwell on. She had to deal with what was, and for now, that was that she was safe, had her daughter to care for and give a sense of normalcy to, and she was with one of the mechs she loved and trusted more than anyone else in her life. She could not allow herself to descend into grief that Hound and Brisa weren't with them, or even fathom the thought of not seeing them again. She had to be strong, for Esperanza's sake, and for Mirage's. He had enough to be concerned about to be worrying about her emotional stability.

She walked though another doorway to what obviously served as the bedroom for the suite. Esperanza crawled after her, babbling and squealing to herself about the soft floor and all the organic-friendly objects around them.

~Alicia, remember I mentioned the usefulness of marking you?~ Mirage asked across their bond.

~Yes,~ she focused on him with her mind and their daughter with her eyes.

~It will look like a tattoo, however it will be nanite formed. There should be no pain involved in having it added or removed when we get home.~

"Alright, let's do it. If I like it enough, I might just keep it," she said aloud with a smile and a wink, deliberately being lighthearted. Esperanza needed to hear verbal language at this point in her development when she was picking up new words daily. It took conscious effort for Alicia to not speak to her mechs solely through their bond, but she knew Mirage's audios would have no trouble hearing her through a couple of doors.

~Good,~ he brushed against her affectionately. ~A team to properly detail me and see to your markings and clothing will arrive soon. Try to just hold still through the prodding and unpleasantness. You'll be forgiven, but it's not good for you or Esperanza to be distressed.~

"Anything else about how I should act, love? I'll try to keep Esperanza calm, but she may not appreciate being handled by strangers, especially if they aren't cooing and smiling at her like she is used to from the mechs in her life," she commented, looking over at Esperanza who had managed to pull herself up against the crystal wall and was babbling and laughing at a magnificent looking transport floating by.

~As unpleasant as it is to think about, they will view you as a prize poodle like those rich ladies in New York carried about in their purse. Pampered, spoiled and as demanding and always right as it's owner. She will be seen as a very young puppy of the same kind. If you hold still and do what I ask you to, they'll be thrilled and treat you more nicely as you make their work easier. Don't be surprised if they do coo at her either. These are specialists. They will have coped with young organics before,~ he explained. ~Those coming to tend to you will be small enough to enter your quarters, or you can be with me in my washrack.~

"Well, I'd much prefer to be an Andalusian; I've never much cared for toy poodles, but I've never minded playing pet," she commented, again trying to keep her mood light about the whole bizarre situation. "I'll just pretend the whole thing is another one of our elaborate fantasies and I should do fine. And yes, wash racks. I'm afraid I'm a bit on the clingy side right now, all things considering, and I'd love to watch you getting pampered."

She focused on getting into role, much as she did when she wore some costume for her lovers, playing into Mirage's 'indulged noble' fantasies just to she could see and feel him quiver.

Alicia scooped her daughter up and walked into the mech-sized suite, not the least bit surprised to see Mirage there ready to pick them up so she wouldn't have to walk the considerable distance to his berthroom and through that to the master washrack.

"What do you think of this for your mark?" he asked out loud for Esperanza's benefit as he sent Alicia a thought-image of an octagonal crystal design that contained what she gathered was his personal crest, a combination of his House crest and his formal designation. She knew enough to recognize several glyphs, and that the three triangular shapes pointed outwards in different directions were stylized Seekers.

"It looks lovely, Strong Wind," she replied, practicing his false designation so she would not use the wrong name. "Where will it go, and how large?"

She supposed it would have been too much to hope for a Zia, the Zuni symbol for the sun, rising over New Mexican mountains.

"It has to be something recognizable here, my Alicia," he chuckled softly. "I was thinking on your upper back, covering two thirds. It does need to be obvious."

She laughed and leaned against his chest where he held her, even as she snuggled Esperanza close to her own. "I know. I was thinking of the tattoo I almost got when I was drunk one evening in college, across my belly. Thank mama Mary I didn't do that. I can only imagine what pregnancy would have done to it. Yours is lovely, even if it is too symmetrical for me. Why the seekers?" she asked, curious about their inclusion in the image.

"My House came from the House of Star Fire, a Seeker lineage," he explained with obvious pride as they entered his berthroom and she took in the view once more. "We still have strong ties to them, even though we no longer carry Seeker code."

"Any Seekers I know who are also a part of that lineage?" she asked, curiously. She had spent a fascinating afternoon conversing with Skywarp a few years prior to Brisa's framing day.

"No Seekers are left of that line, though the Aerialbots are distant cousins," he said. "They don't recognize their Seeker heritage, and thus do not acknowledge their link to me. I will not press the matter with them."

~You can speak in plural about your house again, here, and not just meaning Brisa,~ Alicia noted the obvious, brushing against his mind with a sense of her awe, silently longing that Hound and Brisa were here to experience this with them.

~I must be careful of it in public still,~ he sighed. ~With the House of Swift Sky still very much in power they will not take well to one they have not recognized claiming membership. It will be a delicate balance until I can present myself and be formally acknowledged.~

~How will you explain your origins?~ Alicia asked, intensely curious as he set her down on a counter in the washrack room.

Before he could answer there was a chime from the door on the level below them. He pinged the door open and transmitted directions on where to join them.

~I am still working on that,~ he admitted. ~That is part of what I need to do without you there. I'll need to alter records, possibly bribe or blackmail a few mechs into cooperating. Fortunately I have the spark chamber, construction and spark to prove I am of noble and House origins once it gets to the physical examination,~ he explained.

~How will you explain my origins...or are there other humans here?~ Alicia carefully held back a very curious Esperanza so she wouldn't fall the substantial height from the counter to the floor.

~I'm working on that too,~ he chuckled silently and saw in the crew of at least a dozen mechs ranging in size from a bit larger than Mirage to half of Alicia's size.

The three smallest ones were deposited on the counter with Alicia along with a sizable box while the larger mechs shepherded Mirage into the washrack to detail his frame.

"Do you understand me?" the largest of the mechs with Alicia spoke slowly, cautiously testing out the lingual packet he had been given. It was a spindly spring pea green thing that reminded her vaguely of Frenzy, only with a soft female voice.

"I do," Alicia responded in as haughty a voice as she could contrive. I am the prized pet of a pampered noble she reminded herself. "My daughter will understand a little, but it will be simplest if I hold her while you tend to her," she added, hoping to have struck the right tone with those she would view as servants in this society, even to a pet such as her.

"We understand, Alicia," the Frenzy-like mech stated. "My designation is Silk. This is Marker," she motioned to the smallest mech, a spider-like silver creature with sixteen needle-like legs. "This is Dream Train," she indicated the middle-sized one that was done in a brilliant metallic rainbow of ever-changing patters. "We need to remove all material that is not part of your body."

"Of course," Alicia nodded, standing to make it easier for them to work, assisting them only by momentarily shifting Esperanza to allow them to remove her dress. Her nursing bra and panties were quickly removed as well. It was odd being undressed by mechs who were not her lovers, even stranger to be deliberately projecting the expectation that it was normal for her to be waited on by servants.

Silk began to take her measurements with sensors and fingertips, the delicate structures sliding all over her body and Esperanza. It was hard to keep her surprise contained when the mechs cooed, trilled and clicked at Esperanza any time they were near her.

Marker had moved behind her and had spread a soft powdery substance across her upper back. He was manipulating the area, and she could feel it tingling, but nothing more, though her nanites and socket were well aware of the new nanite population spreading into her back.

Across their bond, she could feel how ecstatic Mirage was at his treatment. Though he kept the snobbish exterior up, inside he was a quivering bit of protoform goo that couldn't be happier in the moment.

Just the thought of him that happy spiked her arousal in a way that had been hard to achieve since Esperanza's birth. Constant nursing and arousal were notoriously difficult to mix, even for a socket as lustful for her mechs as Alicia was. But feeling him so happy was a beautiful thing.

~Do you have to leave right away when this is done, love? Or can I enjoy you this happy for a bit?

Esperanza was eating up the attention from the servants, giving them wide smiles and babbling at them continuously, pointing to everything they held and used and asking the eternal baby question "Da?" which Alicia's trained ear was amazed to notice was sounding more and more like the "That?"

The servants responded by naming and explaining what was pointed out, often with delicate touches that made the baby squeal in delight.

~Not immediately,~ he chuckled, his arousal spiking in response to her interest, something he had missed greatly. ~Most of the first steps are best done during the off-shift.~

He was probably going to say more, but the exquisitely intimate but non-sensual attention to his frame made his processors fritz briefly with unadulterated pleasure and he came back almost too relaxed to use language. It was a feeling she could understand. Her mechs loved doting on her, and the three servants tending her made a good case for how good it could feel to be pampered by those who specialized in the craft. She pampered Mirage often enough to know exactly what it did to him.

Marker had turned his attention on Esperanza, who was giggling at the ticklish sensations on her back as she kept attempting to turn around and see what was happening.

"Stay still, cariƱa, so they can finish your pretty decorations."

There was a sunken portion of the counter that began to fill with scented warm water. It was a crisp, metallic smell, not unpleasant, but definitely something that was designed to appeal to mechs, or perhaps neutralize organic smells that might be unpleasant.

When Marker was finished, a portion of the tub molded itself to be just the right depth for Esperanza, and Alicia was surprised to see Silk remove several items from the box that obviously would make excellent toys for a baby's bath. Alicia settled Esperanza in her little tub, to the squeals of delights of the sitting child who immediately began to splash and repeatedly say "Agua, auga, agua!" Then she lay back in the larger part of the tub, ready to enjoy her royal treatment as a noble's prized pet.

So long as she didn't think about Brisa and Hound, she could enjoy this, probably far too much, which she found secretly troubling. She reached out through her bond to the extremely distant Hound. She knew he couldn't hear her, but she spoke through it anyhow.

~We are ok, love, but I wish you and Brisa were here.~

~So do I,~ Mirage murmured against her mind with a comforting wash of emotion. It took her a moment to realize that the not-quite-normal sensation underlying it was a building charge. Her lover would likely overload before they were done with him, and not a single touch was sensual. He was simply enjoying the attention that much.

"Stand please," Silk distracted her while Marker cooed and played with Esperanza and Dream-Train did something with piles of material at speeds only a specialized mech could manage.

Silk began washing her with a loofah-like material, removing layers of dead skin cells to prevent their shedding on her mech. It felt wonderful, and she closed her eyes and sank into the sensations until she was turned around and found the little femme examining her pubic hair with a tsk sound.

"Most who prefer hairless varieties ask to have these vestigial growths removed entirely. I will inquire with your owner as to his preference for yours, both on your pelvis and your head."

~Mirage, don't you dare let her take my hair. I will not be bald, on either end! It hurts to be bald down below.~

She had once shaved her pubic hair for Mirage's benefit, as a surprise, knowing his distaste for fur of any sort. The resulting rash had been horrible and had earned her a lot of sympathy, and Mirage had offered to make her nanites cause the thick hair to quit growing and fall out on its own. At the time, she had insisted on remaining 'natural', a decision quietly embraced by Hound, who enjoyed getting her dirty as much as he enjoyed cleaning her up, and had no issues with fur.

~I won't,~ he promised before responding to Silk's comm inquiry. ~You're far too grumpy when you hurt,~ he teased gently.

The femme hid her surprise well at Mirage's response to her comm, but Alicia was trained enough in what to look for to know that she disapproved of the decision.

Silk had her lie back in the water and began a lightning fast, but highly satisfying manicure and pedicure. Esperanza's attention was drawn from the entertaining Marker to her mother, and soon was in Alicia's arms nursing with her body submerged in the warmth. Her mother leaned back her head, thoroughly relaxed as her hair was washed in an indentation that formed behind her in the 'sink', but gave a sudden shiver and a quiet moan when she felt Mirage finally overload from the ministrations of his team of servants.

~Enjoying yourself over there?~ she asked teasingly, even as she felt him reboot several systems.

~Greatly,~ he concealed nothing from her over the bond. ~I haven't had a proper detailing since the Towers fell,~ he added a sense that he'd been in his late teens at the time; old enough to be looking at adulthood, in an adult frame, but not yet of age to bond or have a home of his own.

Silk guided Alicia out of the water, still holding a nursing Esperanza. Both were gently dried off with soft fluffy towels before the femme led Alicia to a comfortable chair to sit to have her hair trimmed, dried, and styled in some sort of elaborate braid that she knew Mirage would love.

Esperanza had finish nursing by the time Alicia's hair was done, and once more Marker stepped in to distract her with many legs and various toys while Silk and Dream-Train dressed and undressed her repeatedly, each time in a different gown. They were all flowing, showed off her curves and a great deal of bare skin. Far more decorative than functional, mostly translucent and shimmering, and she couldn't help but notice that none of them covered her breasts, throat or neck, and in several cases, they quite deliberately left her sex in full view. Mirage could easily slip a cable or two in to caress her most intimate places at will.

~And I will as often as you let me,~ his engine revved lightly. ~You know what public interfacing does to me.~

It didn't take much for Alicia to realize that he was watching her through sensors, both his own and those in the room, and very, very much approved of her new wardrobe.

~You look amazing,~ he whispered even as he controlled his engine.

~Oh, my Raj, I adore doing this for you,~ Alicia moaned into their bond, her body feeling hot and needy. Costume play had become a staple of their lovemaking over the years, and seeing these dresses, Alicia truly understood for the first time the desire it fed in Mirage, who in his native culture would have worn a scantily clad socket as an accessory at every public functio. ~Just as long as you remind me that I have 3 PhDs and the Nobel Prize in Biology from time to time, ok? Not that I don't adore being your sexy little orgasm machine.~

~Of course,~ he crooned silently in that old Spanish that could make her tremble before catching himself. ~We really should think less erotic things until they are gone. No one will comment if I take a break to 'face you senseless, but it's poor manners.~

~Damn, I was hoping I could ask them to babysit. Esperanza adores Marker. Sometimes I wish the little one had an off switch, but I'm afraid I might abuse that.~

Alicia was not as inhibited as some humans about sharing with her mechs with her child around. The girl, after all, was growing up in socket culture, which was decidedly sex positive. But there were limits, and she was certain she wanted to take Mirage far past those at the moment.

~Where are Ma-le, Bumblebee or Bluestreak when you need them, huh?~ she commented about her three favorite babysitters. ~I'm not going to be able to think of anything not erotic dressed like this with you in the room. I'll go to my quarters to wait.~

"She may return to her quarters when you are finished," Mirage spoke out loud and a stair to the floor from the counter level formed in response to a silent command. ~Remember your socket should allow you use of the imperial datanet.~

Alicia assisted in putting Esperanza's clothing on her next. She cringed a bit at these. The gowns were beautiful, but highly impractical for an active, curious baby, and most of them would likely not stay on her for any amount of time that she crawled around on the ground. For a few minutes of showing her off, they would be fine. They were of the same types of flowing, translucent materials, and Alicia grinned inwardly imaging the numerous ways her active daughter would find to soil them. At least they were not sexualized the way her own were, even if the basic design aesthetic was the same.

~Love, would it be appropriate for me to ask them to make some more practical things for Esperanza to wear when she is not in public view? She is going to need things that she can play and explore in without tripping over. Also, something more practical that covers my breasts in private. Otherwise Esperanza won't leave my boobs alone and it will drive me nuts dealing with the constant nipple twiddling.~

~Like flannel PJs and slippers,~ she added with an inward teasing grin, knowing that look would make her mech cringe.

Mirage's soft, almost musical laughter rumbled from the washrack enclosure. "Silk, a few extra pieces to cover her breasts from the little one, and stronger clothing for the little one to crawl around in."

~Mmmm love you,~ she whispered in response to that laugh, ~I need a cold shower and a vibrator at this point.~

~Order one from here,~ he sent her the equivalent of a URL. ~Whatever appeals. It will arrive well before they are finished with me. They have much work to do yet.~

~When they are done, I have much work to do on you as well, and these vibrators are not helping my arousal level,~ she laughed, even as she walked out of the washracks and ordered one of the more outlandishly fun looking sex toys that apparently could split into multiple cables, cocks, or tentacles of various sizes for whatever forms of penetration and stimulation she might desire, and would thrust into her at whatever pace she wished leaving her hands free. For good measure, she ordered a set of restraints for her hands and feet as well.

Dream Train quickly fashioned some non-translucent coverings that went well with the gowns, and even added several luxurious, but decidedly comfortable looking silky robes of various lengths, and translucent cloaks that would keep out the chill while allowing her gown to be viewed when outdoors.

"I do not have the appropriate materials along to make the play-clothes for your child, but I will have them sent up within the joor, Alicia, along a variety of footwear that must be fashioned in my workshop," the colorful femme stated in a soothing voice, sounding almost apologetic.

"Thank you," Alicia nodded regally to the three servants. "These are all truly lovely." She hoped she was not being too kind for her station. She just could not help herself. "I'm sure my master will be very pleased with them," she added, trying to resist the urge of sending seductive images to Mirage at the many ways she would like for him to 'master' her in these costumes.

Allowing the three servants to carry the gowns and Esperanza (because the little one was enjoying their cooing and clicking attention so much), Alicia swept down the stairs in an elegant and luxuriously silky gown that showed...everything.

Browsing the site Mirage had sent her to made her all the more aroused as every object had a high quality vid of it's various uses. It was even sorted by the size and species to make finding what she wanted easier. Granted there was no 'human' section, but her socket quickly sorted threw the data to provide suggestions on what would be close enough to suit her.

When they entered her quarters, Dream Train immediately went to work arranging the gowns in a closet the slid out from the wall, then did the same with Esperanza's clothing. "May we watch your daughter while you attend to your arousal?" Silk offered, indicating Marker and herself as Dream Train excused herself to return to her workshop.

Alicia paused for a moment, debating the safety of allowing those she didn't know to watch her daughter. Her instincts told her to trust the three servants, but instincts could be tricked, especially by those with processors far more advanced than her own mind.

~They will take good care of her,~ Mirage assured her. ~If they leave your antechamber I will know.~