Wolf By The Ears Chapter 1

Disclaimer: Transformers is the property of Hasbro. No money is being made on this, and I am merely writing it for shits and giggles.

Warnings: This is going to be a lot cleaner and less cracky than my other current story, but it still contains adult material. Please do not read if offended by technically non gendered robot alien smex. Spark and sticky, plus some brief non-con with sparks. It's a necessary part of the plot, though.

Optimus Prime waited nervously outside of his commander's office. Ultra Magnus had summoned him on an urgent matter, and he had absolutely no idea what it could be. He sighed, a gusty ex-vent of warm air. It was very strange to be not only back on Cybertron, but also free of the stigmas that had followed him for so long.

Now, Optimus Prime was no longer the failure, the academy dropout and a distant second to the rising star that was Sentinel. Instead he was the mech who had brought down Megatron in a knock-down drag out aerial battle and returned Omega Supreme, the AllSpark, and the Magnus Hammer to his home world.

On top of that, someone had gotten hold of the Sumdac security drones' footage of the final battle with Megatron and his Omega Supreme clones. Pretty much all of Cybertron had now seen a variety of video montages depicting Optimus's aerial duel with the Decepticon leader.

The level of celebrity was actually kind of disconcerting to Optimus. Sure, he and his team had enjoyed the hero's treatment they had received from the human residents of Detroit, but it was a far different experience when they were being mobbed by fellow Cybertronians instead of by small, fragile organics who tended to keep a reasonable physical distance.

Perhaps he shouldn't have turned down the Magnus's offer of bodyguards. It had seemed ridiculous at the time. After all, he had handily survived his time on Earth with the entire Decepticon command team, not to mention a colorful variety of Terran super villains and the occasional parasitic alien menace.

Optimus had been reinstated as a member of the Elite Guard only a few cycles ago, and had spent most of the time before and since in a series of debriefings. Funny how now the council and the military were more than willing to listen to every detail of his team's encounters with the Decepticons on Earth. It would have been nice to have had the support back when they had been playing patty-cake with Blitzwing, Lugnut and the others. They had all survived though, and that was the important thing.

This summons to meet with the Magnus was the first official communication from the recovering bot that he had received, but Ultra's assistant Cliffjumper had been in regular contact. Nice mech, but kind of intense. The reasons for the meeting had sounded rather mysterious, but perhaps it had to do with the choice of a successor for Ultra Magnus. Sentinel had made such a public botch of the job that he was no longer under consideration, and Optimus planned to suggest Jazz as a candidate for Prime, so he would be in the running.

O-o

The guards at Ultra Magnus's door both saluted crisply as the young prime approached. He returned the gesture with a smile at the two bots. One of Sentinel's problems had always been that he treated his underlings with disdain. Optimus knew better than that. These mecha might have his back in a fight someday, and trust and mutual respect made all the difference in a serious situation. Besides which, it was only right for bots in positions of authority to treat others well.

The double doors, which were embossed with the Elite Guard symbol, opened smoothly into recessed walls as he approached. Optimus sternly commanded his tanks to stop their nervous fluttering. After all, this was surely just a routine semi-formal discussion with the recovering Magnus. Right?

Uh, perhaps not so routine. Instead of Ultra Magnus and perhaps a guard or two, it appeared that half the council was jammed into the normally spacious-seeming sitting room.

Optimus stopped dead in surprise, then bleatedly remembered to salute. He dropped into standard Elite Guard Parade Rest. What could this be about? He was no fool. The planet needed a public figure to put its faith in now that Ultra Magnus was out of commission and Sentinel had proven to even the most oblivious bot that he wasn't to be trusted with power. He was the most obvious choice, at least in the short run. Nobody provided a rallying point like a war hero, particularly one with a compelling narrative.

Never mind that he had basically no political experience. Alpha Trion had taken him aside several times for a talking-to. The ancient mech had explained to a doubtful Optimus that lack of political savvy could be balanced out by actual leadership experience, which the young Prime had in spades. Besides which, anything was better than the type of power-grab that Sentinel had attempted only a short time ago.

Optimus had reluctantly concurred. Ratchet's descriptions of the situation on Cybertron under Sentinel was enough to convince him. He trusted the crusty old medic's judgment, and Jazz corroborated his description of what a terrible commanding officer the Sentinel was.

Optimus Prime had never been a mech prone to shirking responsibility, and he was not going to start now.

He squared his shoulders and tried to look like a leader.

Ultra Magnus was seated in a half-reclined medical berth, surrounded by discreet monitoring equipment. The Autobot Supreme Commander still looked drawn and tired from his ordeal.

"Optimus." Said that deep, resonant voice. "I suppose you're wondering why the Council is here in my sitting room, instead of their usual haunts."

The huge, regal frame of the Magnus seemed diminished by the crowded room and the medical machinery. Optimus wondered if it was the fact that he was still recovering from his wounds, or if it was in comparison to all the Decepticons (not to mention the Lugnut Supremes!) that he had faced lately. Ultra Magnus was very large by Autobot standards, but Megatron was much bigger, not to mention nastier.

Perhaps Optimus just wasn't as easily intimidated as he had once been.

"Sir?" He asked, maintaining his parade rest.

The Magnus sighed. He looked terribly tired and still unwell from his recent near death. "Optimus Prime, you have more than proved yourself in the last few cycles. You and your team defeated Megatron and his closest lieutenants, recovered the Allspark and Omega Supreme, and bore the Magnus Hammer in battle. Both it and the All-spark have accepted you as a worthy leader, and the people of Cybertron love you."

He met Optimus's optics, his expression grave. "Now I am afraid that we must ask more of you. The Decepticon menace is still strong. We may have their leader in custody, but many of Megatron's generals are still at large, spread throughout the galaxy, awaiting word of his escape, or of his death, in which case another will rise to lead them. While he was missing, they were willing to bide their time, but now he is here, and they will do no such thing."

Optimus could feel his sense of foreboding growing as the Magnus spoke. He had a very bad feeling about what was coming.

The leader of the Autobots continued. "As long as Megatron is alive, he is not a martyr to their cause. His death does not provide a rallying point for the Decepticons, or for disaffected Autobots. Another leader cannot rise among them without seeming disloyal to him. Unfortunately, this is offset by the fact that he is a grave danger even when contained by our best guards and security measures. We had no sign that Longarm was a Decepticon spy, and there could easily be other deep-cover agents among us."

Xenon, one of the other council members, spoke. "However, we have a plan to ameliorate the danger presented by having Megatron in our custody. That, Optimus Prime, is where you come in."

Optimus left the meeting in a daze. He needed a drink. No, he needed to talk to Ratchet. Who would probably provide him with a drink. Hopefully the old mech would have some advice, or know some way out of the Council's insane plan. He was willing to be a figurehead for the sake of Cyberton (and Earths) future. He knew all about the Decepticon threat, and understood that organics were not one. He would fight, would die if necessary, to preserve his home world or the world that had adopted him and his team.

What the Council wanted though...that was just...wrong.

They had been concerned that Megatron would be able to escape the maximum security prison in which he was incarcerated, or worse, lead a rebellion from within. With that in mind, Autobot scientists had hacked the Decepticon leader's processors, much like he and Shockwave had once done to Arcee. They had uncovered an ancient, dormant program intrinsic to his build-type, a program that would bind him in servitude and obedience to a chosen bot who he would see as his master. That bot, they had explained, had to be Optimus. He had defeated Megatron in single combat, was an Autobot Prime, and could be trusted to thwart the Decepticon's attempts to escape and/or wreak havoc.

Supposedly, slave programming had once been common among warrior frame types, to control them and prevent them from running amok among the civilian population. It had been installed along with their core programming, to be activated if necessary. One of the scientists had hypothesized that it was a leftover from the long-ago Quintesson occupation of Cybertron, and that it had been a part of every member of their species once upon a very dark time in their history. Due to the incredible potential for abuse, it had ceased to be included in any new mech generations ago.

The slave programming would easily accept that Optimus was Megatron's master, they said. He had spared the others life when he should by all rights have taken it, and delivered him into captivity. Pit, he had personally put the stasis cuffs on his wrists. That made the Prime the logical choice as "master". He felt his tanks roil in disgust.

Megatron was fearsome. Megatron was ancient. Megatron was the leader of the Decepticons, a monster who fancied himself a freedom fighter, but preyed on the defenseless. He was not a slave. At least that was how it was supposed to be. Optimus didn't want a slave, didn't want anybot to be a slave, and certainly didn't want Megatron to be his slave. It was wrong, and the would-be tyrant would be in his life, in his quarters, and follow him around as a symbol of Autobot power. He hated the idea. A lot.

He was supposed to report to the med bay of the Citadel tomorrow, to have the Decepticon's slave code fine-tuned to answer his spark. It was an abomination, to create a spark-link for such a purpose. He had never even shared sparks for pleasure. He didn't want his first experience to be something like this, and he definitely didn't want it to be with Megatron.

He found his feet too slow, and the minute he hit the street outside, he transformed and peeled rubber for Omega Supreme and the rest of his friends.

Ratchet looked at the shaken young Prime, who had grown so much in the time he had known him. He had started as a wet-behind the audios academy washout who couldn't control a kindergarten, to a confident, well-respected leader who would have been right at home in command of a squad during the Great War, and a Magnus candidate as well.

He was so young, though. Throwing him into a situation where a mech like Megatron was supposed to be under his control was reckless.

And the young prime was such a decent mech. Earth had been good for him, had opened his processor to the universe outside Cybertron and points of view different from those of the general Autobot populace. It was not so great a jump from seeing things from an organic's perspective, or a cyberninja's, to seeing things from an enemy's point of view. Especially given Optimus's feelings for that unfortunate femme who had become part organic. The Dinobots, even Wreck-Gar, they had helped the young prime to realize that non-Autobots could still be people, even if they were more than a little strange.

Some of it was Prowl's influence, some was Sari and her father's. Some was just having the academy-standard stick up his aft jarred loose by life experience.

Ratchet sat his leader down, poured him a container of jet fuel, and let him talk. Now the young mech had wound down, and from the slight vagueness of his optics, the fuel was hitting his (undoubtedly empty) tanks hard. Good.

"Optimus" he said. "I very much understand why you don't want to do this, and I agree that it's pretty fragging far from Autobot ideals. But think on this; you aren't Magnus yet, and you can't stop the Council's plan. What you can do is either refuse a direct order, in which case they'd court-martial you, or you can do this and make the most of it."

The prime stared at his friend. He had always known that Ratchet had a streak of ruthless practicality that came of being a wartime medic, but that really wasn't the advice he had been expecting.

"Ratchet? What do you mean, make the most of it?" He felt shaky inside, like his gyros had lost their sync. "I'll be spark bonded to Megatron, and he to me. They want me to have him around me all the time, to show off Autobot superiority."

The medic ex-vented softly. "It wouldn't be the kind of spark-link a bot would have with a bonded partner, Optimus. It's much less invasive, especially for you. You would have to consciously develop the bond to have more than a vague awareness of him. You would still be able to have a true spark-bond to a partner, when you find the right being. The slave programming is ancient, and it was originally developed for purposes like this- to control defeated enemies or prisoners of war. It lets you control him, but it doesn't give him much access to you."

He smiled grimly.

"Of course, I don't blame you for not being thrilled about the prospect of having Megatron at your back cycle in and cycle out. Its certainly going to make team reunions...interesting."

Optimus's mouth quirked in a bitter little smile.

"I'll have to inform the others that there's going to be a big addition to our little family. At least things won't be boring any time soon..."