Title: A Bond of Necessity (Part 1)
Verse: G1 AU
Rating: PG
Characters: Mirage, Hound, other minor unnamed characters
Warnings: arranged bond, slavery
Summary: Mirage waits for his arranged bondmate to arrive

Time Reference:
astrosecond ~ one second
klick ~ one minute
joor ~ one hour
cycle ~ one day
deca-cycle ~ one week
orn ~ one month
vorn ~ one year

(I do not own Transformers.)

A/N: This story takes place after the events in "A Bond of Convenience". Both of these stories are part of a much larger story ultimately leading to war on Cybertron. The story of Prowl and Jazz will continue to be told in the background. I wanted to post this much sooner but I decided to draft the entire story first so I would know exactly where it was going.

Mirage waited patiently beside the official selected to preside over his bonding ceremony adorned with all of the ornaments befitting a noble. Intricately crafted metal charms alluringly hung from his plating which had been polished to a mirror shine. His appearance spoke of his proud heritage and the standing of his family. Never had he looked better in his existence. This was a momentous event for Mirage as well as his entire family. Many of the prominent nobles of Iacon were present to witness the ceremony.

The blue and white noble knew it was common for these affairs to start late so he was not concerned. While he waited he thought about his intended bondmate, a noble from a city on the other side of the planet. This was an arranged bond, planned for vorns, and it was strictly for socio-economic reasons. Mirage had known about it since the time he could understand the concepts of relationships, business, and bonds. He had been raised such that there was nothing unusual about this to him. Mirage's family held great status in Iacon but it was not in a powerful economic position. This union would bring financial gain to his family. The other family in Vos had great wealth but far lower status.

Mirage had never met the mech from Vos but he knew a good deal about the winged noble. He was curious to meet his arranged bondmate but he currently had no feelings for Starscream. That didn't mean he would treat his new bondmate coldly. He simply held no illusions about the realities of an arranged bond. He was sure that with time they would get to know one another and hopefully gain a mutual contentment with the other and eventually produce an heir. He had plans to woo his bondmate, not out of love, but out of obligation to see to his bondmate's comfort and respect for the alliance this bond represented. If he was fortunate, love would come later. If it did not, that was not unexpected. One element in their favor of happiness was that Mirage and Starscream did truly share some interests. Not many, but enough to begin building a relationship and have a starting point for conversation.

Mirage noticed a small commotion at the back of the room and frowned slightly. His sire and carrier slipped from their seats and exited through the grand doors of the ornate room of their home lavishly decorated for this ceremony. The soon-to-be-bonded noble watched them leave and continued waiting for a few klicks. His upbringing as a high-status noble demanded that he maintain proper decorum at all times when others were watching so he smoothed the frown from his faceplates and replaced it with a neutral expression. The doors opened again and his creators entered the room with surprisingly unpleasant expressions on their faceplates. A lone mech followed them – a courier.

Mirage's creators returned to the front of the room followed by the courier. They all then turned to face the assembled guests. His sire gestured to the courier who held a sealed message pad in his servo. In a steady voice the courier announced, "I have been ordered to bring this sealed message pad to Lord Mirage, open it in his presence, and read the contents before him and all observers." The courier then broke the seal and began to read aloud with the authority of an official messenger:

To Lord Mirage from Lord Starscream,

I send my courier to deliver this message as it would not be appropriate for me to deliver it personally. I am calling off our bonding ceremony because I have found love with another.

The room filled with excited whispers as the guests observed the unfolding drama. Bonding ceremonies among the nobility were rare enough, having one fail to materialize would provide gossip for orns. The courier frowned but kept reading with a voice that carried to every part of the room:

To keep to the terms agreed to by our creators, I instead offer to you my slave, the courier Hound, in my place.

The courier stopped reading with a look of horror on his faceplates. It was painfully obvious that he had no prior knowledge of the contents of the message he had been commanded to deliver. He looked up visibly trembling at Mirage's sire. "Keep reading," the stern mech said firmly.

The documents to transfer ownership of Hound to you are attached along with authorization for the transfer of funds which was to take place at the conclusion of our bonding ceremony. Additional concessions favorable to your position are included all of which will take effect upon the completion of the bonding ceremony to Hound. Congratulations on your bond and your new financial position.

With downcast optics Hound handed the message pad to Mirage. Silence filled the vast room. It was a credit to the courier that he did not turn and flee but it was clear that he was completely at a loss for what to do next.

Mirage stared dumbly at the message pad. The bonding ceremony with the mech he had expected was broken off for love? He was now saddled with a common slave? Slavery was not permitted in Iacon. There were places on Cybertron where slavery still existed but all were free in Iacon. Mirage's family had servants but they were actually paid staff. Although slavery was not allowed in Iacon, there were rules governing the handling of slaves from other areas. He quickly read through the attachments on the message pad. At that moment Hound technically belonged to him but in accordance with the laws of Iacon the courier would gain his freedom once they were pronounced bondmates. The author of the documents arranging for this transaction clearly understood the laws regarding slavery and was using them to push him into this situation. It was unclear why Hound was being forced upon him in this manner. Something else was going on and Mirage intensely disliked being made a pawn in someone else's power game even though that was exactly how his own family was using him now.

Hound stood before Mirage and his creators trying hard to keep from shaking. He had been unaware that his master had no intention of proceeding with the ceremony. He had learned long ago to never ask questions about Starscream's business dealings or personal activities. For all he knew, he was delivering a message announcing his master's imminent arrival. He was smart though and understood his situation. His master was free to do whatever he saw fit with Hound. Being a courier gave him some freedoms to move about but he also saw the grim reality of life as a slave. He knew that he could be used in any fashion. Fortunately, his master never used him for physical pleasure or contracted him out for such purposes. He had seen that happen to other slaves and was glad that his plain appearance seemed to keep him from that particular fate. Yet here he was basically being sold to another as a token bondmate to fulfill a contract. He had expected to one day be presented with a bondmate solely for the purpose of having him produce more slaves just as he had been sparked into slavery. This was a most unexpected turn of events and one which he was not prepared to deal with.

"This is a bond of necessity and you will take it." The words of Mirage's sire broke into the thoughts of both mechs. "Mirage, you are to take this mech Hound," he said with obvious distaste, "and bond with him to fulfill the agreements of this contract." He turned to the courier looking down at the common-framed drab-green mech and spoke in a tone that left no room for argument. "At this moment, you belong to Mirage. Since slavery is not permitted in Iacon, your freedom will be granted upon the completion of the bonding ceremony. Take your place beside Mirage."

Hound bowed his helm in acknowledgement. He was still a slave and was required to obey. He turned and stepped onto the small raised podium where his bondmate stood. He caught sight of the stunningly beautiful mech beside him but did not raise his optics to meet those of the other. He was still a slave and it was not his place to behave in a manner other than complete submission. He was aware of the stiff posture of his bondmate and certainly did not blame Mirage for how he must have felt. He was still a slave and it was unlikely his bondmate would ever be able to see him as something more.

The ceremony proceeded with all of the planned pageantry. As a courier Hound had seen enough bonding ceremonies among the nobility to know what was expected and was able to perform his role without prompting although it was without the practiced moves of his bondmate. Finally, after reluctantly joining servos, the official announced Mirage and Hound legally bonded. Mirage and his family gained considerable wealth and business opportunity the moment the pronouncement took place. Funds were transferred and contracts automatically took effect. Hound gained his freedom that cycle but he knew he had only traded one form of slavery for another.