Note: I only own this version of the character 'Autobot Flame.' The original version of the character, from the UK 'City of Fear' arc in the G1 comics, is owned by Marvel UK (I think). Aside from that, Transformers and all other associated terms are Hasbro's property.
Also, I may have picked and chose aspects of the books and games for the backstory, but I am primarily staying true to the cartoon here, and contradictions are present.
Also also, this takes place after Operation Bumblebee Part II.
Long ago, Primes only ever touched the Matrix of Leadership once, to imbue themselves with the knowledge and wisdom of their predecessors and thus plan out their rule. These Primes were not chosen by the Matrix itself, but rather by the Autobot High Council of Iacon, who would send their choices to the core to receive the blessing of Primus. The only Prime who didn't go through such a ceremony was Optimus, as he merely made the journey to protect Primus from Megatron and ask for guidance. Optimus then took the Matrix from the ailing core for safekeeping, and rallied the Autobots to defend against the Decepticons.
Before Optimus, however, the Prime was little more than a figurehead. Sentinel Prime, or Zeta Prime as he was commonly known, was a recluse after the introduction of the guild-run caste system. As such, the task of government fell to the High Council more often than not. As it did when they heard the case of an impetuous young Autobot scientist, who was requesting the use of a Council-owned space station as research space.
"I have pleaded time and time again, said that my research cannot continue without that station, and still you deny my grant?" the scientist asked indignantly that day.
"It is the opinion of the Council that you, with your research, are treading into territory too dangerous for Autobots of any caste, mold, or disposition." replied Councilor Drivetrain.
The scientist stepped backwards in disbelief; "Have I not shown the safety procedures repeatedly, in extensive detail? What more do you ask for?"
"Obedience to the will of Primus, for one thing. We are his creations, and as such are to follow-"
The scientist rudely interrupted Councilor Xaaron: "Your function is to govern, not preach!" he said as he bared his dentalwork.
The other Councilors drew back offended. "What insolence!"
"This sort of outburst is another mark against you, I'm afraid." squeaked the Minicon member of the Council, Ratbat.
The scientist growled, then took a deep breath, and apologized. "I...just do not see at all why you continue to scrape for all these obscure reasons to oppose me. This is a question of the sort that scientists are supposed to answer! I cannot, in good conscience, leave it unanswered! Since when has the High Council been so opposed to science?"
"To be blunt, since scientists such as yourself began sowing the seeds of Cybertron's downfall." said Xaaron with a hostile tone.
"Are you truly so blind?" the scientist asked, genuine bewilderment on his face; "I do not seek to break Cybertron down, but rather, prove how strong it's been built up! My success would demonstrate how far Autobot science has progressed, since it could conquer such a mystery!"
"And," added Councilor Traachon, "elevate your name to greatness as well."
The scientist chuckled a little at this remark: "Why not? Name one who is capable of seeking such glory, and doesn't seek it! I dare say that you cannot! If it were not me who would be given that honor, some other Autobot would claim it by his own merits! Really, the more this goes on, the more I wonder why I am the first to suggest it."
The Councilors began to murmur among themselves, while the scientist waited with waning patience.
Eventually, Ratbat raised his miniscule voice again: "To be honest, after hearing this guy, I begin to see him as the sort who won't be deterred by anything. If he were denied here, he would begin his experiments illegally. Perhaps we should...oh, I know! I propose we have him under official oversight for the full duration of the experimental period! That way we can be sure he isn't causing us any problems!"
Xaaron shot a strange look at Ratbat...and then sighed, and said: "I see your point. But it must be strict oversight."
"I think I can work with that," said the scientist, who then secretly whispered to himself: "Way to stick up for me, Ratbat. I guess those were credits well spent."
"Then we are agreed?" Councilor Halogen asked his fellows, at which point the council began to murmur again...this time, in agreement.
A breem later, the council voted, in favor of the proposition. "It is settled, then." said Halogen. "Flame, you are to be given the full access to Trypticon Station for use in your experiments, with the Seekers providing security detail and Council oversight. If an experiment is vetoed, you are forbidden from performing it without harsh penalties. Respect our concerns, and we will respect your right to do research on this matter."
Then, upon a gesture from Halogen, a glowing disc floated up from the floor: the permission key, which the scientist graciously accepted. He stored it in a compartment in his right arm, and bowed; "Thank you, Halogen. And I will follow the latest safety and emergency procedures to ensure that vetoes are unnecessary. And remember, you may do as you wish with the data I acquire, but rest assured that I will get that data. I will not rest until I, Flame, have discovered the secrets..."
"... of Dark Energon."
And with that, the scientist known as Flame left with the permission key, and the meeting was adjourned. Afterward, Xaaron was seen mumbling to himself:
"Primus help us all."
After a little ringtone, Agent Fowler's voice came from the loudspeakers of Autobot Outpost Omega-1: "Prime, ya there?"
Optimus responded, and Fowler continued: "Remember the briefing you gave me about the Cybertronian Relics? Well, Military boys found something in Lake Erie, I wonder if it's one of the things you're looking for."
"Are you sure, Fowler?" asked Ratchet, "We did not pick up an Iacon homing beacon."
"Well, it's alien tech at any rate, and if I were you, I'd come over and give it a look before Soundwave gets wise."
Less than a minute later, a truck mode Optimus Prime returned from the (freshly-evacuated) base, dragging the machine behind him on a flatbed trailer: an upside-down pyramid with a triangular base, with a blue, glowing prong extending from each corner. Optimus dragged it in front of Ratchet, then reverted to robot mode.
When Ratchet asked if Optimus recognized it, Optimus answered: "Ratchet, I believe this is an Autobot transmitter-decoy. Briefly employed by Autobot spies during the middle parts of the war so they could safely communicate with Headquarters, until the Deceptions seized them all and destroyed them."
"Well, hand it over so I can check for booby traps." said Ratchet in a 'let's-get-this-over-with' tone, eager to get back to his own work; he did not want to miss a real Iacon homing beacon, on the off chance that the next relic the Decepticons unearthed was another artifact of the Primes.
Regardless, Ratchet pulled out his specially-tuned scanner and waved it over the transmitter-decoy...and was surprised when Cybertronian code began jumping across the scanner screen!
"Optimus!" the medibot exclaimed, "There's a message embedded in the central system's programming!"
Intrigued, Optimus Prime asked: "What does it say?" to which Ratchet replied:
"Hmmm...'Any Autobot who finds this, please send me an invitation. Receiver frequency already set, so you don't need to search for me. Use this machine, so I can trace your coordinates but the Decepticons can't. It will self-destruct after one transmission, so the Decepticons can't analyze it should they capture it, so make it count. Ship's also cloaked, so wait for me.' … Optimus! Do you understand what I'm seeing here?"
Optimus understood perfectly: "We know where a fellow Autobot is, and can in all likelihood rely on his aid in our struggle. Let us waste no time. Send the decoy somewhere remote, and make the transmission."
Ratchet followed the order, while Optimus Prime ordered Arcee, Bulkhead, and Bumblebee back to base, and informed Fowler about the current developments.
"I'll be there." he said. "Yes sir," said the rest.
Somewhere just outside the solar system, a tiny little Cybertronian exploration craft hovered in the empty void... until a previously-thought dead console beeped out a loud beep, shocking the ship's only inhabitant out of stasis lock.
"Wha wha wha – ooh, somebody actually got the message. Finally, I'll be able to finish what I started so long ago." said the shadow-shrouded robot with a smile, his blue eyes showing his realized hopes. He quickly fired up the hyper-engines, and with their last reserves of fuel, followed the signal.
All the Autobots, the children, and Agent Fowler waited at the top of the mountain that covered the base. A light wind ruffled the humans' hair, but didn't affect the robots one bit, as they all watched the sky eager to see the supposed newcomer.
Mere seconds after a bored Miko suggested playing some music to pass the time, a gust of wind suddenly picked up, and a shimmering outline placed itself in between the waiting party and the sun.
Quickly, Ratchet shouted: "If you can hear me, unidentified vessel, please decloak so I can assess your craft's size, then direct you to an appropriate landing zone."
"Understood, my fellow Autobot." an electronic speaker blasted from the outline, which then darkened...revealing a small (by Cybertronian standards) spaceship, which resembled a box with engines, a nosecone and fins. While the humans were shocked by the size of the craft, Ratchet went right on with his calculations. " Well, I think it's still too large to land on top... land over on the side that doesn't have an adjacent road. Oh," he added, "And decloak again once you've landed. The natives of this planet may be watching. We'll meet you once you've landed."
"Got it."The ship then floated behind the mountain, and slowly touched down, disappearing as it did.
By the time the Autobots and their friends had gotten to the landing zone, the ship's sole occupant had just shut the vessel down, and was just exiting. A door opened out of thin air, revealing a tall robot with red, orange, and yellow plating all over his body. Black metallic tubes arced over his shoulders, connecting large tanks on his back to devices under his chestplate; which itself was shaped like a yellow upside-down triangle with a flame-shaped border, and an Autobot insignia stamped in the middle. His head was encased in an orange helmet, somewhat like Megatron's helmet, except the Autobot's had a red three-pronged crest on the forehead. His face was colored a lighter shade of orange, which contrasted with his blue Autobot eyes.
The Autobot jumped out of the floating opening, which closed up behind him. As the onlookers struggled to find a first impression, he addressed them:
"Hello, Autobots. I am Flame, of the Iacon Academy of Science and Technology."
"Welcome to Earth, Flame. I am Optimus Prime, and those who stand before you are Arcee, Bulkhead, Bumblebee, and Ratchet. Below your immediate field of gaze-"
Before Optimus could introduce the humans, he suddenly noticed that Flame seemed somewhat distracted. The Autobot leader asked if he was OK, to which Flame answered, looking intently at Optimus: "I remember you from somewhere..."
"Well, he is our leader. Has been since the Great War." said Arcee with a touch of snark.
"No," Flame said, still intrigued by Optimus' appearance; "It's that... wait... Orion Pax? You're the legendary Optimus Prime?"
"...So, you know me as I once was. How? And why did you not recognize me before?"
"I...left Cybertron on a scientific expedition in the middle of the war. Returned to find Cybertron a lifeless husk, it took so long. I must have missed your being named a Prime. Besides, I remember you more clearly as Orion Pax. You see, burned into my memory is the time I met Orion and his friend Megatronus (before he became Megatron) in the Hall of Records."
Optimus, in response, took a close look at Flame...and said: "I'm afraid, for some reason, such an event does not immediately spring to my memory."
"So, Orion, did you hear about the Council's new ruling from last Solar-cycle?" asked Megatronus in his trademarked raspy voice, as he approached his red-plated friend at his desk in the Hall of Records.
"No, Megatronus. I can't say I have. It must have been kept in the dark."
"Well, not from Soundwave and his Minicons. They heard that they granted the use of Trypticon Station to some two-bit scientist called Flame."
This surprised Orion. "Trypticon Station? Wasn't that Sentinel Prime's masterpiece from the Golden Age?"
"Indeed. And now it is nothing more than a glorified laboratory...and guess what they're studying there?"
When Orion failed to guess, Megatronus went ahead and gave him the answer: "Flame is apparently researching Dark Energon. Also known as the blood of Unicron the Destroyer."
"WHAT?" Orion shouted in disbelief as he rose from his seat, "But...the decree of Vector Prime made it illegal..."
"Yes, I remember, from our mutual discussions on Cybertronian history; Vector Prime banning use of the substance after he saw what happened to The Fallen. But how long ago was it written, Orion? Very long ago, apparently, since the Council ignored it completely. It was never even brought up in the discussion."
"But...Megatronus, this is abominable! How could the Council-"
"Ignore a decree of one of the Thirteen original Primes? From my experience," interrupted Megatronus, "The Council these days exists not to uphold the will of Primus, but the will of the guilds and their caste system. They decide Cybertron's destiny in this day and age."
Orion walked out from behind his desk, and out to the window. "Well, this time they have gone too far."
Megatronus joined his friend at the window, looking out at the Iacon horizon, and said: "And they shall be punished for it. Just not yet. I am not ready to take them on; to them, I am simply Megatronus the gladiator, who has a scheduled 'grudge match' with Sunstorm tonight. While instead, I am Megatronus, the one who shall bring Cybertron out of this plutocratic dystopia, and return to the Golden Age."
"And," he added, "Just because, I shall respect the decrees of the Thirteen, and not ignore them for my own personal gain. You shall never see me use Dark Energon."
"Thank you," said Orion Pax with a smile.
Just then, the door opened behind the two, revealing the one they started the discussion about: Flame.
"Ah, Orion, just the one I wanted to see. I need to browse the files pertaining to Trypticon Station, so I can copy them for study. After all, I do own the station now, and must be able to make full use of it for my research to be optimized."
"Flame." said Orion, in a hostile manner, "How did you convince the Council to approve your research of Dark Energon? Use of the substance is illegal according to the decrees of the Thirteen!"
"...Is it really? If so, the Thirteen were shortsighted, and did not know how far science would advance after they left us! The Council merely made the rational decision in the matter, unclouded by superstition and fear."
Megatronus laughed. "And if you pull my other leg, it turns into a musical instrument. There is nothing 'rational' about the Council at all. Tell me – how many of them did you bribe, in order to achieve your desired outcome?"
Flame was taken aback; "What? How dare you accuse me of such despicable actions! Why, I'd never!"
Both Orion Pax and Megatronus gazed at him intently, causing him to backtrack slightly; "Okay, I would. But I didn't! I need the credits for my research!"
Megatronus wasn't convinced at all. "It was Ratbat, wasn't it? The corrupt disgrace of a Minicon only believes what he's paid to."
"Flame" said Orion as he stepped forward, putting himself in Flame's face; "You used a corrupt system to perform an illegal act with Council sanction. This will not stand."
"...Oh, but it will." said Flame, his anger finally aroused. "You see, not only is it a bad idea to challenge Council sanction, but if you bring up any illegality of my actions, I can make it seem like you made the law up! Because this, my research, will be a triumph of modern science! And I will not see it stopped. Not by you. Not by the Council. Not even by Zeta Prime himself! Now, if you please, the files?"
Orion stared Flame in the eye...then turned towards Megatronus, who said with a sigh: "Give him the files. Like I said, we are not ready. Besides, I must return to Kaon and prepare for my big fight."
So, Megatronus walked back towards the window, opening it up with a push of a button, while Orion led Flame to his desk...
"...but take solace in the fact that the days of monsters like Flame are numbered." the gladiator said, just before transforming and flying off.
"Well, I remember it clearly," said Flame, just before Optimus asked Ratchet: "Could this lapse in memory have anything to do with the recent incident?"
"It could be. Anyway..."
Just then, Miko jumped up, saying "Hiya Flame! So what kinda stuff do ya do? Ya a Wrecker like Bulk and Jackie? D'ya have some super-cool weapons built in? C'mon, we're all waitin' to see how ya rumble with the 'Cons!"
Flame stared blankly at the strange creature a second, before asking if these were the 'natives' Ratchet mentioned.
"Yeah, we're humans. I'm Jack, this is Miko, Rafael, and Agent Fowler." said Jack, before Miko and Raf waved.
"Uh huh...and you were concerned about them seeing my ship because..."
"Not them," said Ratchet. "These four know our secret. But, the other seven billion inhabitants of this world would be considerably frightened of aliens on their planet. Hence, we keep ourselves hidden from them. Plus, hiding from the Decepticons is another good reason."
"Ah, I see." said Flame, smiling. "I thought you meant like they would be a threat to my ship or something..."
Agent Fowler glared at the new Autobot, insulted by the dismissive remark towards humanity's armed forces.
"Anyway," said Flame as he bent down to Miko's level, "to answer your question...I'm actually not much of a warrior. Like I said, I'm a scientist; a chemist to be precise! Don't expect me to really 'rumble,' as you put it."
"What? You're not gonna help us fight the Decepticons?" asked a shocked Bulkhead.
Flame took a second before answering: "Sorry to disappoint," he said in a slightly sarcastic tone, "but the reason I sent out all those transmitter-decoys was because...well... I'm basically asking my fellow Autobots for laboratory space."
"You see, while my ship does have a built-in laboratory, for the next few crucial experiments I need to perform, my ship's not suitable. I am researching a radioactive element, and I need a radiation containment field in order to prevent it from messing with the ship's systems...which means I can't do any experiments on the element on board the ship."
"I see." said Optimus Prime. "I am disappointed to hear that you are unable to contribute-"
"Oh, don't think of it like that! Once I'm finished with the experimental phase, I'm sure I'll be able to think of something! Far be it from me to be a perpetual leech on my fellow Autobots!"
"Glad to hear it – we need all the help we can get." said Agent Fowler.
"And, I see nothing wrong with granting you the use of one of our storage rooms as a temporary laboratory in the meantime."
"Oh thank you! You are as generous as the tales say, Optimus Prime!" Flame said, and then offered to shake hands...which Optimus accepted.
Bumblebee then made several noises with the synth-code device standing in for his voicebox. Flame responded with: "Oh, I won't need any assistance, I can set up my lab myself. You guys can go back to your normal day, keep fighting the Decepticons as usual."
After that, the Autobots left Flame to his own devices...and just as they all filed back into the base, humans included, the scientist looked at his own arm, considering the substance he had stored in his arm-compartment...
"After all, I wouldn't want to cause unnecessary worry..."
Next time, what changes will Flame's arrival bring? Will his research cause as much controversy as they did back in the day?
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