Chapter 26: Finding Darkness

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Slowly Optimus and several other bots, including his bodyguards, moved through the streets of Sepika. Optimus was attempting to retrace the path taken by the policebot to get back to wherever he had been held as a sparkling. It wasn't easy, and the path was winding, but he was hoping that he could and would lead them back even though he did not want to see that place. If there were any sparklings there now he owed it to them.

Finally his path ended at the wall to a warehouse.

"I'm sorry." Optimus offered the bots following him. "This hasn't worked well." He felt disappointed in himself for not being able to lead them there even though, logically, he knew that it was not really his fault. The memory files were incomplete and degraded by fever and drugs.

Several of the bots following him spread out and started examining the surroundings. Optimus separated himself just a bit, wrapping his arms around himself and staring out into the bit of city he could see. They were in Sepika's capital city, Bereton. He had never really wanted to be back on Sepika, much less in this city. From what he could see, things hadn't improved at all. Actually, some of what he had seen as they drove through the city looked a lot worse. Sepika didn't actually have a lot in the way of industry or a specialty. Nothing they could offer was unique or of great quality so life here wasn't good. In fact, the only reason the moon wasn't abandoned was Bolter and his 'services.'

Optimus shuddered at the thought. Even though he had gone about it in a horrible way he was, essentially, the only one who had kept the moon from being an impoverished slum. The thought sickened him.

An abrupt motion drew his attention and he saw a Guardbot frantically motioning for everyone to join him over by the wall where Optimus had stopped. Quickly Optimus moved to join them over there and saw where the wall had cracked open to begin forming a doorway. It seemed that he wasn't as wrong as he had thought.

Quickly the Guardbots got into formation, pushing Optimus to the back, before shoving the wall open and quietly storming into the building. They entered into a dimly lit hallway with several doors along it. Each was opened and the rooms beyond scoured. Optimus shut off his olifactory sensors after the first room. He remembered all too well that scent – heatsync and partially processed energon, the lingering scent of heated circuits thankfully long gone though.

It seemed they would find nothing but the remnants of bots long gone from the building, until they reached the last room, the one closest to the door at the other end of the hall. Throwing open the door they found a single sparkling curled up in the corner of the room. When they approached the sparkling weakly lifted her head and stared at them with dull optics. One of the Guardbots approached her, but she only whimpered and curled in on herself tighter. All of the Guardbots turned to look at Optimus and he knew that they wanted him to try. Even though he knew what it was like in her position he really didn't know how to approach her.

But he moved slowly towards her, intent on trying anyway. He stopped an arms length from her and crouched down.

"Hey sweetie. We're not going to hurt you." He spoke low and soothing. "We're the Elite Guard, see?" He pointed to his Elite Guard wings and saw her little optics peek out from under her arms. "Actually, we came to take you home. You want us to take you home don't you?" She made a tiny nod. "I thought you would. Can you tell me your name little one? What do your creators call you?"

"Glider." She whispered, shifting a bit, and Optimus spotted the tiny winglets folded tight against her backplates. There were going to be some seriously upset flyers out there. Fight models were still quite rare in neutral and Autobot territories since the war and he could see no affiliation symbols on her.

"Well Glider, what do you say I get you to a medic and contact your creators? Does that sound okay?" Optimus asked, still softly, hoping that once they got her medical attention she could give them her creators' comm. frequencies. Or that once it became apparent what they were doing that they would come forward. Unless they were being held somewhere by these bots.

Glider reached a shaking servo out towards Optimus and he took it gently, drawing her into his arms, tucking her against his chest carefully. He had never actually handled a flight model before. Just as Optimus stood he heard a shout and the sound of running peds. Turning he saw a few Guardbots take off down the hall, obviously in pursuit of somebot.

"What…" Glider asked hesitantly and Optimus stroked her helm softly.

"It's okay. You're with me and nobot will get to you." Optimus nodded to the other bots and they cautiously exited the room and out the door they had not yet been through. On the other side was what looked like a storefront, complete with shelves of paint and accessories. Above the door they had just come through was a sign that said 'Shop Area; Employees Only.'

Transforming slowly Optimus settled the sparkling in his seat and, surrounded by the other Guardbots, headed for where the medical ship was docked. It didn't take long to get there and Optimus immediately took Glider into the sparkling care designated area, thankful they had organized the ship for this before leaving Cybertron. The medics knew what to expect and waited anxiously for Optimus to transform and hand over the sparkling.

Except she wouldn't let go of him. She gripped his fingers and begged him not to leave her. Optimus couldn't find it in his spark to remove his fingers from his servo after that so he looked at the medics, hoping to convey through his optics what he felt. He needn't have bothered with the pleading look because the medics looked back at him with almost the same expressions. Likely they didn't want a sick and distressed sparkling if they could help it.

Optimus set her on a berth and settled into a chair that a medic pulled over near it. He stayed as much out of their way as possible without moving out of view of Glider.

"My creators?" She asked, optics locked on him.

"Can you beam me their frequency?" Optimus asked softly.

"I…" Her face scrunched up and then fell. "Can't…it won't…" She started to cry and Optimus offered her what comfort he could from his position.

"You will be able to soon." Optimus reassured her. "They're on Sepika, right?"

She nodded between sobs.

"Then we can find them one way or another." Optimus said gently. "In fact I can send somebot out right now. What model are they?"

"Jets." She answered. "Both jets. Big jets. And green and silver."

"We'll find them." Optimus activated his comm.. "Wildlift, would you see if you can locate two jet bots? Green and silver."

"Sure thing sir." Wildlift answered immediately. "We've found their sparkling?"

"Correct. She is onboard the medical ship now. Her designation is Glider."

"On my way, sir." Wildlift said deactivating the comm..

"Wildlift will look for your creators." Optimus told Glider. "If you can send me their frequency before then I will call them too. So can you."

"She will once we can reactivate her comm. system." One of the medics corrected, scanning a datapad connected to Glider. "Looks like they offlined it with some sort of code patch." The medic looked up at him then. "I'm not familiar with jet coding. Her creators may have to help me with this."

"I understand." Optimus said. Glider twitched and Optimus turned to her, concerned. "Are you alright, Glider?"

"That tickled." She said. "And my tanks feel gurgly."

"We're trying to clear your systems." A different medic spoke up. "You may purge at some point, but it will be okay, I promise."

It was sometime later that she did purge, afterwards shivering, slightly fevered. Optimus helped wrap her in a blanket, never letting go of her tiny servo. They put her on an energon drip rather than trying to feed her energon. She didn't need to purge more. Glider had nearly fallen into recharge when the door opened.

"Glider!" Two shouts echoed across the room and Optimus turned to see two matching painted jetbots rushing in. Optimus tried to move back but Glider still wouldn't release his servo. Her creators hugged and cuddled her as best they could with her still on the berth.

"They rescued me mama." Glider said softly.

One of the jetbots turned to Optimus. "Thank you. I admit, we were a bit skeptical at first, but when your Wildlift used her nickname I knew you were not lying."

"Glider is a nickname?" Optimus asked, interested.

"Her official designation is Glidewing." The other jetbot answered. "Somewhere along the line we started calling her Glider. The nickname hasn't gone outside the family before now."

Optimus nodded but before he could say anything else a medic spoke up.

"Now that you're here I could use your help." He addressed both of them. "They installed a code patch to offline her comm. system and I am not familiar enough with jet coding to remove it."

"Of course." One of the jetbots answered, moving around to look at the datapad the medic connected again while the other continued to cuddle Glider.

Glider released Optimus to cling to her creator and Optimus backed off. When they started to ask Glider about what happened Optimus left. He didn't need to be there for that.

Optimus headed for the Steelhaven then, dodging around glazed and blank opticed bots who were being escorted on board by Elite Guard members. He grit his denta. Living in the city filled with those bots had been hard and seeing them now was even more painful. Suddenly he was unable to stand the crush of bots around him. He wanted to escape, to go somewhere that others weren't. Where he wouldn't be surrounded by pain and suffering.

Transforming he drove to get away. He had no destination processed, he just drove and drove. Aimlessly he wandered until finally, nearly a megacycle later he stopped at the edge of the oil springs. Optimus didn't transform, instead he stayed there like that, watching the steam rise off the warm liquid. It was really unfortunate they hadn't used these for tourism to keep the economy alive. Maybe then so many would have been spared.

"Sir?" Chargeup asked softly, putting a servo on his roof. Optimus twitched a bit, slightly startled. He hadn't noticed the bot following him, but he really shouldn't have been so surprised. "It's getting late. You should return soon."

"Alright." Optimus agreed softly, not transforming but slowly turning back towards the city.

"We've got a shuttle coming, sir." Chargeup informed him, not removing his servo from Optimus' roof. "It'll be quicker that way."

Optimus hummed in agreement and stilled. He wouldn't mind the trip. It would, at least, be away from the street.

A short while later the shuttle arrived and Optimus boarded it silently, settling in the back quietly for the trip. Soon they reached the Steelhaven and Optimus exited, not bothering to transform, before driving directly to his quarters. He had no intentions of setting ped on Sepika again if he could help it. Once inside he transformed long enough to grab several blankets before returning to his vehicle mode, burrowing down into them to make a small nest and dropping into recharge.


ironfire13: Why, thank you. :D Sorry this took so long. _

Wolf Prime: lol you have the Dcons and the torture fun. Too bad Optimus had to go with them. :/ No relaxation here. He will be beat up but he is a good leader-bot! Sorry the chappy took so long. I shall have to post the little ficlet I wrote int he meantime.

CrazyNutSquirrel: LOL visit from Wreck-Gar. XD Have some cheer-up garbage!

Optimus'girl: Lola the insane femmebot. :P She is locked up indeeds. Optimus does worry others a lot. Such a wonderfully shiny target. Sorry this update took so long. :(

flamingmarsh: Glad you liked it. Optimus can't help but be a bit depressed. He's always in the crosshairs for somebot. Sorry about the long wait.

Sounddrive: Poor Optimus indeed. Things just like to be rough on him.

Patcher: Fanbots are scaaaary and dangerous. :P Sorry for the long wait.

SavvyEnigma: Nope, Optimus isn't out of it yet. Maybe not so much danger as just a crappy mission. :( *stares back just as innocently* Sorry for the wait. I shall have to post the fluffy goodness I wrote in the meantime.

scrin99: There will be a loooooot of counseling and problematic processor-washed bots. Perhaps they will come for a visit so he can be pestered by a familiar danger. )

bRamble Girl: Well, then you are less a crazy fan than crazy femmebot (called Lola by Optimus'girl). ) Well, he's trying to stay out of the medbay. Trying being the keyword. Not succeeding. Sorry for the wait.