Part Thirty-Seven

Disclaimers in Part One

Diarwen looked over the railing to see what was going on. "Do you need the room, Optimus?" she asked.

"No, this concerns you as well."

She turned off the datapad that she had been using and descended the stairs to join the humans on their corner of Optimus' desk.

"Diarwen, this is Jemar LaSalle, Mr. Lew's senior assistant. Mr. LaSalle, the Lady Diarwen ni Gilthanel, Prime Consort."

She smiled at her bondmate, thinking that if Sam could learn to introduce his lady and her title with that much style and grace, she might reconsider her objections.

The Sidhe extended a slender hand to their guest. "It is very good to meet you, Mr. LaSalle."

"Likewise, milady. I've heard a great deal about you. I was fascinated by your history with our nation, going back to the days of the revolution. Political history is an interest of mine, and I understand that you were on President Cleveland's staff during both his terms in office?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact I was. Officially, I was his children's governess, but unofficially, I was the head of his family's security detail. I very much enjoyed my time there."

"Perhaps you might consider indulging my questions about the White House of that era."

"I would look forward to it, Mr. LaSalle. I fear that nowadays only those with a passion for history are very interested in my stories of those times."

"It would be a pleasure. But I'm afraid the business that I have to discuss today is anything but."

"I see." She spied Prowl pouring cubes of energon for Prime, Jazz and himself. "May I offer you coffee or tea, and perhaps a raspberry scone?"

"Thank you, that scone sounds amazing. I had something on the plane, but that was very early this morning. Black coffee, please."

"Will, Sam, scones for you as well?"

Sam demurred on the calories, but accepted tea. His desk job and his sweet tooth between them ensured that he was perpetually fighting a battle of the bulge.

Lennox happily accepted the offer of a scone, since NEST's rigorous training tended to leave its personnel with the opposite problem: keeping their weight up.

Diarwen disappeared briefly, made noises offstage, and returned with a tray of refreshments.

She listened quietly as LaSalle told her what he had already told the rest.

"I can imagine what they would make of Optimus and me," she said finally.

"You've been the soul of discretion," he replied. "It doesn't seem that they have any idea. The president wishes for me to assure you that, should he leave office, he will ensure that your relationship remains unknown unless you choose differently."

"Thank you. We have seen no need to give much discussion to that particular eventuality," Diarwen replied.

Officially, no one in NEST, and no Cybertronian, could express his or her personal preferences publicly. But with that oblique statement, Diarwen made her stand on the matter quite clear. LaSalle smiled, and sat down beside Lennox.

The Ranger nodded to him with a mouthful of scone. "Diarwen, these are great."

"They had some at Hanratty's—a pub in Las Vegas; I sometimes go there to play my harp," she added for LaSalle's benefit. "I decided to see if I could copy the recipe. I believe this is fairly close to Hanratty's version."

LaSalle said, "They're delicious."

"Thank you."

Sam's tea was very hot. He sipped carefully, then said, "I know there's a long suspect list, but you must have some front runners. I doubt it's any of the names that we'd yank out of the headlines. Those guys think they can get what they want by throwing money at it, after Citizens United. Getting involved with an illegal conspiracy wouldn't fit their game plan."

"Right," LaSalle said. "The families we're looking at—maybe I should call them dynasties—keep themselves out of the headlines. A lot of them have been very powerful for a very long time. They're careful to avoid showing up on lists of America's richest people, and they do that by keeping much of their money overseas. They still have ties and a lot of assets in the old country, several old countries I should say, unless they kept their assets in physical form. Most of that, land, jewels, art, was lost during the communist era and the breakup of the European empires. Families so affected had to start over here, but in very few cases did they start over from scratch. Many of them had been the so-called noble houses, sometimes married into royal houses, and they still think of themselves in those terms—divine right of kings, and all that."

Diarwen listened intently. "I may have known some of their ancestors. I may even have crossed swords with them."

"I suspect that's true, milady. They may not know about your relationship with Prime here, but I think it's too much to hope that you personally are unknown to them."

"Likely. One is known by one's enemies, and those are enemies that I am not sorry to have made. I suppose it is also too much to hope that the breed has improved over the generations."

"We have a saying, Lady Diarwen, that the trouble with inherited nobility is that nobility is not hereditary. Also, some of them are the ultimate leadership of organized crime families. We have a few left-overs from the cold war, families that emigrated to South America—and some middle-rank ex-Nazis—who once there were supported by our government because they offered opposition to leftist reformers."

He opened his briefcase and took out a stack of dossiers. Diarwen scooted over to give Jazz room to see the human-sized papers, knowing that he would push it out to Optimus and Prowl.

LaSalle sorted through the files. "A couple of them are Middle Eastern princes. Your raid on that nuclear facility last year made a number of people nervous about you, Prime."

"I am surprised that did not turn into another excuse for an endless round of hearings and right wing media outrage in the same way that Benghazi did," Optimus replied.

"It was impossible to spin toward their objective, as it showed us in too good a light, sir. There's no way the opposition could make a decisive victory like that look bad on the White House without criticizing US intervention—and they can't do that as long as they're promoting intervention. Also, they want your people acting in US interests, so they can't criticize you for doing that. And, at that time, the media was entirely focused on Chicago. The popularity of our military, NEST, and the Autobots was polling in astronomical numbers. Any attempt to politicize the raid would have been shouted down by their own base."

Sam said, "What I'm hearing is that their machinations are about acquiring more power. They want either to have Cybertronians under their control, or to ensure no one else has an alliance with you." He nodded at Optimus. "So that rules out the princes, because they'd wait until after the election and offer you a better deal, Optimus. These people are empire building, and you're a wildcard that no emperor can afford to have put in play by their opposition."

LaSalle opened his mouth, shut it for a moment, and then, sounding slightly stunned, said, "That...makes the sort of Machiavellian sense that would appeal to these people."

Prowl said, "If that is the case, we can expect to see them attempt to cut off our options so that we have no choice except turn to them. They know that we have civilians to protect now. They will see that as an exploitable weakness."

Diarwen's aura turned cold and brittle, though her expression remained diplomatically neutral. Optimus reached out to her. "Beloved?"

"Will I see my family again left with the choice between conquest and retreat?" All the blood and chaos of the final decampment of the Seelie Court to Tir Nan Og lay at the forefront of her mind.

Optimus replied, "I have a third option. We stop them."

-Sidhe Chronicles-

In the very early hours of the next morning, Sam waited on the tarmac for Bumblebee to meet him for the run back to Nellis. Optimus went to him. "Brother, you are still troubled."

"Yes. The more I think about it, the more I'm worried about Excellion. As long as he's here, you have too many options to make these people happy. He's too easy a way for you to pack up all of us, including the organics allied with you, and get the hell out of Dodge. That's an option they don't want you to have."

"They would dare a great deal to try to act on that," Optimus replied, with more starch in his tone than Sam was accustomed to hearing unless bullets were flying. "Excellion is formidable in his own right, even in city mode."

"So are suicide bombers," Sam pointed out.

Optimus gazed across the base at the cityformer. "We will take precautions. Prowl will be asked to consider the problem, Sam. If necessary, I will take preemptive action and move him off Earth."

The younger Prime offered, "No one's living on Mars. And for all we know, there are still a few Cybertronian stragglers living on the moon."

"That is a truth," Optimus said.

"I hope it doesn't come to that."

Optimus smiled slightly. "As do I. If it does, there will be a place for you and all of your family with us, including Ron and Judy, should they so wish."

Sam said, "I don't know what they'd do. We might not have a choice."

"Or we might locate these people and put a stop to the entire business." Extreme prejudice wrote itself large in Optimus' tone, and Sam relaxed a bit.

Bee arrived; Optimus said, "You two, keep yourselves safe in Washington. You are targets there."

"I know, brother. I remember the last time I made a target out of myself. I won't do anything that stupid again. I'm going to ask Director Mearing what precautions she thinks Bee and I should take, and we're going to listen to her."

"That eases my processor greatly. Have a good trip, and be careful."

"We will. I promise."

"Bee, that goes for you as well."

The young Guardian said, "Yes, stupid risks...promise. ones."

The brotherhood broke up with a laugh.

It wasn't until Bee's taillights had disappeared down the access road that Optimus saw the lights go out in the bedroom of Sam's apartment. Once again, Sam and his family were separated by miles and duty.

-Sidhe Chronicles-

After the brief mouse-centric conversation Excellion had with Optimus, and a longer one with Ops, the shipformer ran a personal scan, and found some small life signs in his lower level that he was certain he had not invited aboard.

The Web yielded a list of local animal shelters. He got clearance from Graham, chose a shelter that had to put animals down after a short time for lack of resources, and picked a cat whose paint job reminded him of a friend's.

First thing next morning, Bobby Epps was dispatched to this shelter. Shortly, he returned with a snaggle-toothed black and white beast, big enough to require the large carrier.

Cat-plus-carrier achieved sufficient weight that Epps leaned sideways to compensate for the cat's frantic thrashing. Fortunately, he didn't have to carry him far; he had permission to drive almost to Excellion's door.

The entire trip, car and foot, featured musical accompaniment by the cat, possibly titled "Extended Growl upon Outrage, with Variations." He was a cat, and he wanted no surprises. Today he had had three: first his personal space was severely invaded when he was microchipped, and then, still wrapped in the towel used to restrain him for the microchipping, he was placed in a carrier.

Then came the car trip. Long muscular forearms protruded from the cage, and made serious efforts to swipe at Epps' hand on the wheel. Serious, claws-out efforts, accompanied by an obbligato of feline swear words. Perhaps, thought Epps, a charitable fellow, the microchipping still stung.

But Excellion had insisted upon that microchip, as they were detectable by Cybertronian senses, and with it he would always know where the cat was. So would other Cybertronians and the Pretenders visiting Excellion, thus reducing to nothing the chances of having to peel sad scraps of black and white fur off the treads of somebody's ped.

Epps released Sebastian (Excellion said) on Excellion's lowest level, after setting up food, water, and a litterbox (some distance removed from the other two; would you want to eat in the privy?). He performed this exercise from behind the carrier, near the door, telling Excellion to shut it after him. This was a good decision on his part, as Sebastian felt he owed somebody a licking. That debt, however, remained unpaid: upon release, he sprang out of the carrier, rowled, and spun to express his displeasure further. But Excellion's door was already sealing behind Epps' retreat.

The level which Sebastian was now in sole possession held the small life signs which Excellion had detected. Sebastian would, he hoped, detect dinner.

The cat detected playtime instead. This had the same effect, that of swift reduction to zero of the mouse population aboard Excellion. However, Sebastian preferred the good catfood they bought for him to disposing of his night's work in the accepted fashion of a cat. It proved his only shortcoming.

He eventually made a friend, or at least a not-enemy, of Steeljaw. If the Wreckers were occupied near Excellion, Sebastian could usually be found sitting on top of Steelie, purring.

He also made an acquaintance, though he kept this affection to a scratch-behind-the-ears level, of Diarwen. The Sidhe's motivations were ulterior: she applied his flea medication mid-scratch. Usually, but not always, she completed this task without injury to herself.

Finally, Sebastian made enemies with Harvey, the equally large Maine Coon cat to whom Frankie Reis belonged. On more than one occasion they engaged in atonal duets, or perhaps yodeling contests, across the sandy no-cat's-land between Excellion's outer ring of lights and the entrance to the Cliff House. After a first memorable encounter and some vet bills, Excellion erected a series of stations around the base which emitted an ultrasound the cats found unpleasant, but these activated only when their microchips were within twenty feet of each other, and approaching. The duets continued without further injury.

When a coyote dared to invade no-cat's-land? The duet did not stop, although its intended audience changed. The coyote found itself faced with fifty-seven pounds of enraged cat, about half of that coming from Excellion, and the other half from Cliff House. The coyote turned tail, and word must have gotten around: no further coyote invasions were staged.

As for that litterbox: Sebastian shortly realized that he was magic and could make his personal door open any time he liked. (The true magic was Wheeljack's: the microchip could be used to trigger a sensor.) This magic allowed Sebastian to exercise an important cat-option: if you have the entire base to poop in, why do it in your own home?

Thus Sebastian's tale comes to an end. For almost a quarter-vorn, he proved himself to be an excellent mouser and all-around guardian of the base.

But in all his long and fruitful partnership with Excellion, the black-and-white cat never did forgive Bobby Epps.

-Sidhe Chronicles-

While Epps got the cat settled in, several NEST soldiers gathered at the intersection of the main road and the street leading past Pretender barracks. A group of Pretenders joined them, and they broke up into mixed fire teams, then split up for the morning's patrol. Some of the Pretenders were in root mode, others in human form; a few transformed occasionally for one reason or another. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Figueroa's partner was a Pretender of relatively light build who preferred root mode, and an observer would have assumed he preferred weaponry incorporated into his frame, because he didn't carry an auxiliary weapon. The pair drew patrol of the heights east of the firing range, difficult territory crisscrossed with narrow ledges and several played-out mines, all of those marked with "Danger-No Trespassing" signs and boarded up to keep would-be spelunkers out.

The observer was unlikely in the extreme to guess that the Pretender was, in fact, Raf, or that patrol duty gave him and Fig the opportunity to spend time together.

If that observer were of the urban persuasion, she might object, "Why do you need to patrol here? Stand on top of the highest point, spin three-sixty, you've seen all there is to see." But while he had grown up a city boy, Fig's Ranger training had broken him forever of the habit of making assumptions.

Raf had the same issues as the city boy, however. "Why have we been sent here to patrol? You can just look at it and see that nobody's here."

Fig smiled at him, then went back to a slow, continuous sweep from right to left of the hundred-seventy degrees he could see. "We also need to understand who was here. Who might have come across the fence, what might have wandered too close to the places on base where children play, Raf."

Raf swept the area with senses his uncle did not possess, and said, "Oh, you mean the coyotes we hear up here sometimes."

"Si. Or that damn reporter that Optimus picked off Buzzard Rock."

Raf grinned widely. He'd had a front-row seat for that.

"Let's go," Fig said. They moved on, placing their feet and peds carefully in the treacherous, uneven rock.

Raf being Raf, he was scanning as Fig did, and also doing some fifth-order equations in his helm. These concerned the alteration of the incident angle of sunlight over time, and caused him to begin thinking about the phenomenon of sunrise, a couple of hours in the past at this point.

Then realization broke over the young Pretender like that sun coming out from behind clouds. The sun continued to come up every morning on time, a time that altered slightly every day. The local star also, in its own time, created the glorious light show of a desert sunset, every day, exactly when that was supposed to happen. The planet's own ever-changing rhythms meant that rains had come early this year, and for a while thereafter, the desert bloomed, exactly as it had for all the millennia that the area had been desert.

Exactly as it was meant to be. (Even taking into account, though Raf did not know this, some extracurricular celebration of Beltane by Chip and Mikaela.)

Everything around Raf was exactly as it was meant to be. Raf himself, in this surprising new body, was exactly as he was meant to be. As he walked the land, guided by his uncle's wisdom and ready grin, he knew this was something his curandera abuelita would have understood immediately.

Raf, he realized suddenly, needed more time—more sunrises, sunsets, possibly another set of spring rains—to come to terms with the changes Life had thrown at him. He also understood that this planet, this desert, this sun among them would give him all the time he needed.

He stood still for a moment to observe a pack rat as it gathered food in the shadow of a rock, and let his new knowledge settle into his processor.

"Raf? Hijo?"

Raf turned his helm to find Tio Jorge staring at him. "Is everything all right?" the man said, coming close.

"Si, papa," Raf said, using that term to Fig for the first time. "Everything is just as it should be."

They turned and walked into the future together, and got on with the job they had been given to do.

-Sidhe Chronicles-

After the brief halt of activity for colors, the base had returned to its usual early morning bustle. On the lowest level of the Cliff House, medical took up several suites of rooms, a much more spacious area than the corner of the hangar allotted to them before. They had kept what worked—a single large triage area where bots and humans both presented with whatever problems they had, and separate patient rooms and treatment areas on either side of Triage. Each healer and doctor had a private office on the level directly above.

Jazz passed by Ratchet's office on his way to the conference room that he was using as a classroom this morning, but the medic's fields were spiky with aggravation. Ratchet might have stopped throwing wrenches at patients, but pests who stuck their helms in his office uninvited were a different story. Jazz exercised the better part of valor and went on about his business.

Jazz' students were already there. Seneschal and McKuen were talking about NASCAR racing. Moonracer was talking to someone over comms. Sapphire was furiously flipping through the datapad containing their reading assignment with such frustration in her fields that she might as well be waving a sign that read "I do not understand this fragging assignment!"

That concerned Jazz. They had got through the basics of firewall coding, and the last reading assignment had concerned the natural ability of Cybertronians to code supplementary firewalls to provide additional protection in response to changing conditions as their situation required. He wasn't sure why that should be so confusing as Sapphire found it. It was something they all did, after all, and the results were self-evident even if the process was buried so deep in their OS that it worked without conscious supervision.

"Mornin', everybody."

The class returned his greeting. Moonracer ended her conversation, as the mechs left stock-car racing for another time. The three of them got out their data pads.

Jazz turned a chair backwards and landed his skidplate on it. The chair was a little tall for him, and his peds didn't reach the floor. "OK, did anyone not get to their reading assignment? Good. Who can tell me about supplementary firewalls?"

As the discussion began, it occurred to Jazz that he may have started out giving a few lectures, but somewhere along the line, he had become a teacher. Him, a teacher. Music, maybe, but psychology? How had that happened?

He soon ascertained that the older three understood the assignment, and got them started on the next chapter. Then he reviewed with Sapphire, helping her catch up to the others. Her previous education might have been lacking, but it was gratifying to both teacher and student when she did master a lesson. She wasn't afraid to work hard to get there.

-Sidhe Chronicles-

Borealis spent much of her time in her nest now. Through her skylight, she could see the cloudless expanse of blue overhead, and that was enough to satisfy her sky-hunger, with her carrier protocols taking priority over everything else. Every alert added up to soon, soon, soon.

Her largest son kept pinging for ::more room, more room, more room!:: She sent a glyph for ::patience:: and he replied, every time, ::now!::

But neither she nor the bitlet would determine the precise timing of his egg's debut. That was up to the healers, who twice a day arrived to take measurements and check readouts, then sent her a glyph for ::patience.::

Like her son, she wanted to reply ::now!:: But Borealis had learned to be nice among the Autobots, as she still thought of them, and anyway, it was better all around to be polite to medics.

She tried to distract herself with a datapad, but couldn't keep her processor on the story she was trying to read. Sighing, she subspaced it, and made her ponderous way from her nest to the washracks.

No one had told her that carrying would necessitate emptying her waste tank so often, but its volume had been significantly reduced to make room for her eggs. That odious chore accomplished, she set her plating right—as much as she could, considering her eggs—and decided to sit outside for a little while, as long as the area right outside her door was still in the shade.

It was nice to watch the sky without glass in the way, and to enjoy the breeze blowing across her flight control surfaces. It would be a very nice day to fly.

::More room. NOW!::

::Soon, bitlet. Patience.::

::NOWWWWWW!:: There was a clang as he punctuated his demand with a rather hard kick.

Borealis vented another sigh. Soon, please?

Rodi pinged a cheerful hello as he emerged from the ramp into the Seekers' courtyard, and her bitlets all calmed: they liked Rodi. She sent a warm glyph of welcome.

-Sidhe Chronicles-

Late in the afternoon, Optimus found Diarwen absent from their apartment. He took a moment to sense her presence. She was above him, somewhere up on the cliff top. Her state of mind was peaceful and happy, but he could also sense that she was ignoring hunger.

A quick ping to the galley retrieved the day's menu. He put in an order, and on second thought drew a second small ration of energon. If Diarwen had worked through dinner, very likely her usual partner in crime, Milestrina, had done so as well. He stopped by the galley to collect the order, then transformed to drive up the ramp out of the Cliff House through the Seekers' courtyard and finally out onto the clifftop.

A craggy, weathered rock formation created an alcove which was shaded, yet open to the desert breeze. A collection of picnic tables and outdoor furniture suited for all sizes of the base's inhabitants had quickly accumulated here, and this informal outdoors lunch room was one of Diarwen and Milestrina's favorite places to work.

He joined them, providing them with a little more shade as he soaked up some sun. He unsubspaced the food. "Since my ladies did not come to dinner, dinner has come to you."

Milestrina accepted the smaller of the two cubes with both servos, bowing over it gracefully. "Thank you, Prime. It seems mealtimes come and go very quickly when we are working."

His bondmate gave him a radiant smile. "This smells delicious, Optimus."

"How is your work coming along?"

Diarwen sighed. "My translation is nearly finished. And I must say, I am very grateful for your help, Elder Conservator. It would have taken me ages without you."

"You are very welcome, Prime Consort. I have been cataloging our collections as I add them to our new library. It is tedious work. I am happy to have the company."

Optimus opened his own energon cube. "I actually have the rest of the joor. I would be happy to help you with the cataloging, if you would like."

"Oh, splendid! This will go much more quickly with the assistance of a trained archivist. Excellion has set aside an entire sector for our library and virtual museum. I have been uploading my collections and adding them to the catalog one at a time, before organizing them for availability to everyone. Unlike an archivist, I can only work on one thread at a time. It has been a time-consuming process."

"I can imagine, but a labor of love, I should think," Optimus replied.

She smiled, and pinged him with the login information. He greeted Excellion. ::I will be helping Milestrina with the library for a little while.::

::Excellent! Thank you, Prime! I have a small collection myself, but I was waiting to see what Milestrina already has before copying anything to that sector. Burnout has a large collection of religious works that he is waiting to add, as well.::

Optimus made a note to himself to see what the medical and science bots had preserved.

He devoted a full three processor threads to the work, leaving one to monitor admin through Roller, and another to download the day's current events and sort by his list of key words. He could still maintain situational awareness and carry on a conversation while doing all those things. Only a tactician such as Prowl could maintain more simultaneous processes than an archivist.

He took a moment to familiarize himself with the work already completed. "Milestrina, this is amazing! These works—some I thought lost long ago."

Milestrina smiled. "When I knew that Cybertron could not be saved, I began to preserve everything I could. Everything I could keep in my own memory, and all that I could subspace. It shattered my spark, trying to decide what to keep and what to leave behind."

"Please, Elder Conservator, no. You have done Cybertron an incredible service. Generations to come will be Cybertronian because you have preserved our culture, our birthright, for them. We owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be expressed."

Milestrina's field radiated fulfillment. To have her life's work validated by the Prime she served satisfied the deepest levels of her ancient coding. She rose gracefully from her chair, and bowed deeply. "Thank you, Patron."

"Milestrina, you are a treasure."

Diarwen watched this exchange with a lump near her heart, and another in her throat.

Milestrina had no more returned to her seat, and her work, when they heard a door open into the Seeker's courtyard below A moment later two little helms, yellow and blue, popped up over the railing. They immediately took to the sky, playing an impromptu game of chase while they waited for their sister to join them. Barricade strolled up the ramp and shooed them over into the canyons, safely away from the base. No one wanted little Seekers' thrusters kicking up sand in their faces.

Presently, Skysong, still in her intermediate flyer, took off from the airstrip and joined in the games. A little while after that, Flareup transformed as she exited the ramp. She greeted Optimus with a warm glyph as she came up beside her mate and watched the sparklings fly.

Their bright jeweled colors against the late afternoon sky reminded Diarwen of hummingbirds. A tune began to assert itself, creating harmonies and arpeggios.

She needed to write it down or it would keep her awake all night. She hoped she had some blank music paper—but then, in this day and age, she could easily print a few new sheets as she needed them.

Optimus followed her gaze and smiled as he watched the little ones' antics.

At the same time, he scanned an article about the continuing violence in the Middle East. It had caught his attention due to the fighting's proximity to the grave of the Primes at Petra. The Jordanian government had assured him that the site, home of the ancient Nabatean people, was just as historically important to Jordan as it was to the the Cybertronians. He had hoped to let the ancients of his people rest in peace in the place that they had chosen, and hallowed with their sacrifice, but he would not risk the lives of any of his people guarding a grave site. If the fighting seemed as though it would reach Petra, he resolved to move the remains of the Primes to a safer place. It could be done quietly, and a holographic memorial left at the site.

He resolved to worry about that later. Peace settled on his pauldrons like a caress, and Optimus Prime, for the first time in far too many vorn, let war slip from him to treasure the moment.

-Sidhe Chronicles-

From the journals of Optimus Prime:

I later looked back upon that evening as the start of a new age for the People of Cybertron. We had taken a precarious first few steps into it, for we still relied heavily upon the charity of this fractious young race who became, by the will of Primus and of the Great Mother Earth, our sisters and brothers. At the time, none of us had any idea of the challenges and trials— and triumphs—that awaited us as we began to take our first hesitant steps toward reclaiming the stars.

But, above all, we had hope. A little more than an Earth year ago, I stood on a bridge amid the ruins of Chicago with my brother and my mentor deactivated at my peds, by my own servo. I ended our great war, but at the time, believing the All-Spark lost to us, I saw nothing ahead for my kind except a slow descent into oblivion. Instead, Primus granted us a new beginning, full of promise for the sparks here, and for those waiting in the Well of All Sparks too.

We had a temple. Primus was with us. And now, we were creating a library, seed for a university that we hoped would blossom in time into a center of Cybertronian culture and learning. Milestrina spoke of her plans for a school for Conservators, and told me of a few promising younglings to whom she intended to offer apprenticeships.

As for government, I was no longer the only Prime. Primus raised up a human to speak for his kind on the Council, marking the organics as our equals and partners. And, in young Hot Rod, we had the promise of future Primes to come—Sam and I were not to be the last.

Without a home of our own, as yet, Cybertron took root in the desert, and began to thrive. My call to the People still traveled out through the stars and through the distant remains of the space bridge system. More survivors would gather one by one, each bringing a few shards of our old culture and something to contribute to the new. With my Consort at my side and my People around me, I gave thanks to Primus for peace at last, and waited to welcome them.


[AN: So ends this arc of the Sidhe Chronicles, A Year in the Life of Optimus Prime. Thank you for reading. The series will continue in the eleventh volume of the Sidhe Chronicles. My co-writer and I hope that it will not be another year before that story is published, and beg your indulgence. We have found that we can write quickly, or to the best of our ability, and we prefer to do our best to write well. We look forward to seeing you again when Sidhe Chronicles 11 is ready to publish. /AN]