A Year in the Life of Optimus Prime: Six
By Becky Ratliff with Vivienne Grainger
(A.N. Transformers belongs to Hasbro and whoever they have allowed the rights to it, which certainly doesn't include me. No money has been made from this fanfic and no copyright infringement is intended. All I own are my OCs.
This story contains religious and spiritual discussion drawn from various religious paths both real and fictional. Those who wish not to be exposed to religions other than their own should turn back now. Warnings: Dubious consent, threesome, complicated pregnancy of a femme seeker, other adult concepts.
This is the eighth story in The Sidhe Chronicles series. Previous stories are "Swords and Jewels," "The Sidhe Chronicles 2: Dark of the Moon," and the first five stories of "A Year in the Life of Optimus Prime." This is a separate AU from the "Come on up for the Rising" verse.
::Silent speech (Internal radio or through a bond)::
Scene Break: -Sidhe Chronicles-
The Siege of Magdeburg was an actual historical event in the year 1631. Names, dates and other real-life details were drawn from the "Sack of Magdeburg" article on Wikipedia. I apologize that this site will not allow a link to the citation; you will need to go to Wikipedia and search for it. The last time this history affected the plot, I was accused of making it all up in order to serve a personal agenda of some sort. I have not embroidered the facts of the siege, nor of the atrocities which followed. The only fictionalized elements of this horror concern Diarwen's involvement after the city had already fallen. Placing her there is no different than having one of the modern characters affected by the events of September 11, 2001. History is what it is. But perhaps as the old saying admonishes, we dare not forget our history lest we repeat it.
Mentioned in passing: the Borrowers, which are, of course, from the beloved children's book of the same title by Mary Norton, first published in 1952 by J.M. Dent.
Thanks to my beta and co-author, Vivienne Grainger. /A.N)
A week after Soundwave's crew had raided the Mission City base, things were slowly getting back to normal, or as normal as they could be with energon supplies so short. Optimus Prime, like all the other bots, had shut down the subroutines that sent hunger signals when fuel-level indicators yellow-lined. They would not reactivate until he reached a level that threatened damage if he did not either refuel or enter stasis.
He, like most of the other bots, had chosen to keep his ration until the New Year's Eve party tonight.
It was in the thirties outside, and his apartment was cold, but Optimus turned off the prompts to activate his heating system. It was quite a few degrees too warm to go into cold-induced stasis, and he was unwilling to use energon to alleviate a condition that was merely unpleasant.
He subspaced the datapads he was working on, and went outside. There was still half an hour of sunlight. He transformed and turned broadside to the sun, letting it supply him as much energon as it would, and very carefully called on Fire to warm himself. He did not want to overheat. Feeling like the novice that he was at magic, he grounded the mana that he had not used back to the earth.
Diarwen joined him. "Very nicely done."
"I am glad that someone thinks so," he replied, the ragged edges of his performance still uppermost in his mind.
His teacher smiled at him. "Elegance comes with practice, as it did when you learned to fight. You must be patient with yourself in the meanwhile. The important thing is that you drew very nearly the amount of energy you needed, and grounded the extra back to Mother Earth without creating an excessive disturbance. Those are the objectives for someone at your level of study."
A red, blue and purple femme came outside to enjoy the sun for a bit. Diarwen said, "Who is—wait! I did not know they could do that!"
Optimus rumbled a chuckle. "Chromia and her sisters are indeed a gestalt, Diarwen. They rarely use that form in combat anymore because they have become so deadly with the skirmishing tactics they employ as individuals. But their energon use and heat conservation are much more efficient when combined."
"I thought that you said mecha destined to form a gestalt were sparked at the same time."
"And, indeed, that is so, for a purpose-built gestalt. It is possible, though rare, for a very close group of sparks to choose to modify themselves in order to become a gestalt later in life. Chromia and her sisters did so after the war began. Their gestalt form gives them a survival advantage under some conditions."
"Their aura is different."
"A gestalt is a personality composed of, yet separate from, its component sparks. I apologize that English does not have the concepts for this. The gestalt has its own glyph, composed of the identity glyphs of all three sisters."
"May I see?" She activated her datapad so that he could send her the information. A single, complicated glyph appeared on her screen. She studied it, turning the pad a few times to look at it from different angles. "Why...this looks like...it is. Remind me once I have covered more of the basics to include the making of sigils. Interesting that a glyph-based language has this technique. It is usually found in alphabetic languages."
"There is magic in combining glyphs?"
"Oh, yes. I have taught you that the name of a thing has power. The magic of sigils distills that power to its essence. It is a method of focusing intent."
"We use it chiefly for names. For example, here was the combined glyph of my cohort. You will find all our identity glyphs within it, going back to its formation four generations preceding Ironhide. Ours is the oldest cohort existing among us; therefore its glyph is one of the most complex."
"There is not one for the Primes? Or am I mistaken to believe that a cohort?"
"It is, and once there was such a glyph. It was retired when the Fallen was cast out, and the Primes who survived were too devastated and angry to create a new one. Instead, they began simply to use the Prime glyph which marks each of us."
"I see. There is no war more terrible than than that between rival princes within a house. Such a thing can end in victory for no one."
Optimus gave a low rumble of agreement.
She looked for the designations of those she knew were in Ironhide's cohort glyph. "What do you mean, this was the glyph for your cohort?"
"Now that Ironhide and Colonel Lennox are brothers, it will need to be redrawn. Sunstreaker is working on that for us, but I believe he is not quite sure how it should be done. Perhaps if you were to discuss with him how this is done in alphabetic languages, he might find the information useful."
"I would be happy to do so."
"What are you translating now? More of Chromia's romance novels?"
"Actually, at the moment, no. I am working my way through the collection of sparkling literature for D'andre Epps. I fear you will be receiving a rather large file from me this night. It is necessary to be very precise for him, and I am not certain of the most exact English word to substitute for some of these glyphs. It seems that ambiguity is to be avoided at all costs. As I recall, this was true of my cousin as well. Oh, Optimus, how I wish I could consult with him now."
Optimus recalled that her cousin, whom they now believed to be autistic, worked as an armorer in Tir nan Og. "That would indeed be a good thing. But did not Orthelion tell you that a gate would reopen from Tir nan Og into Ireland one day?"
"He did so prophesy. But I have learned that prophecies are best studied in hindsight. We do not know if that will happen tomorrow, or a thousand years from now."
Diarwen's phone rang. She noted the caller ID, and said, "Excuse me, it is Monique. It may be something involving D'andre."
She answered, "Is Diarwen. Hello, Monique."
"Are you busy for a little bit? I need someone to watch D'andre while I solve a problem with the twins."
"Of course. Give me five minutes." She glanced up at Optimus' rear view mirror, where she knew he had an optic. "My apologies, acushla: duty calls."
"I will see you at the New Year's Eve celebration this evening?"
"Yes, I plan to be there."
"I probably will shut down for a little while before then, after the sun goes down."
"Rest well." She barely touched his running board on her way to the Epps apartment.
Neither noticed that Ratchet was observing, with a larger scowl on his faceplates than was usual when he saw them together.
New Years' Eve was never as big a deal as the Great All-Purpose Holiday Party, but this year Lennox had decided they needed an excuse to cut loose a little bit after the raid. There would be no alcohol, out of solidarity with the bots.
The bots themselves had turned over any high grade they had to Ratchet, who kept it for medicinal purposes.
This was an opportunity for everyone to come together, have some fun, make a lot of noise, and get back to normal—something very much needed after the raid shattered everyone's sense of security. The bots planned it so that everyone could be awake, and those who were not in stasis had saved up rations to welcome in the new year.
Laughter and music overcame the echoes of battle in the commons. They had the Las Vegas fireworks on the big screen, and everyone yelled along with the countdown.
A lot of people followed the custom of kissing at the stroke of midnight. Optimus held Diarwen to his spark for a moment, before lifting her to his shoulder where she could see the screen without a lot of six-foot-tall soldiers blocking her view of the bottom half.
Hardly anyone in the crowd noticed that brief gesture—but Ratchet did.
And he was entirely Not Amused.
If everyone else was blind to the threat that the Sidhe presented to his Prime, Ratchet was not. It was time to do something about her. He didn't know yet what that would be.
But he would.
The Autobots had learned a long time ago that Ratchet would be Ratchet, and that attempts to cheer him up would not be appreciated. Therefore, when he went back to his office, he received a few "Happy New Years" and "good nights," but no one tried to persuade him to stay.
Ratchet was a wily old bag of sprockets. He knew internet usage from the base was monitored—that was standard operating procedure on any military base. If he logged into Google through the base's internet connection, it would be easy for anyone, even the humans, to discover what he downloaded.
But he had figured out that humans and their computers couldn't send a point of presence through the hardlines to another node outside the base. It required using a workaround such as a program running on their computer that allowed remote control of a machine located outside the base. Further, if a human wished to carry out stealth operations, that human would have to find a process that left no evidence in the base systems that they had done so.
It was simple for him, however, during his many uploads of medical data, to use the servers at O'Callaghan to remotely surf the net. Since he was already using them for a legitimate reason, there was no exceptionally long internet usage to attract attention.
It was much easier to cover up his tracks at O'Callaghan, as well. When he was finished, no evidence of his extracurricular activities remained.
He was trained in working with a mech's coding. In comparison, non-sentient computers were sparkling's play.
Jazz was perhaps better at some kinds of reprogramming—but not even Jazz exceeded Ratchet at leaving no evidence of changes made. Leaving "footprints" behind could result in lifelong glitches rather than a seamless incorporation of the new code. Causing a patient's problems, instead of solving them, was a level of craftsmanship Ratchet would not accept.
So, seamlessly, he covered his tracks as he found information on the Sidhe. Most was clearly fictional, and could be disregarded as a product of the author's imagination. Some found on Wiccan and Pagan sites seemed potentially factual. And Kindle files were, so to speak, an open book to Ratchet, so he was not limited to blogs and Witchvoice.
The useful information he wrote to memory for later study—which he was conducting now.
Since Ratchet had no proof that Diarwen had done anything harmful, anything he did would have to be harmless unless she took action against his Prime. His research gave him several promising ideas. All that remained was deciding which one to use.
Sam Witwicky got off the bus near George Washington University, a stone's throw from the White House.
The Washington Monument rose into the clear blue sky at the far end of the Washington Mall. He'd lived and worked here for almost a year now, but all told, the city still felt like something out of legend to Sam. Even when he was getting off a loud, crowded bus that smelled of diesel and unwashed fellow passengers, and carefully stepping over a squashed hot dog that lay on the curb, dropped by a lazy—or tardy—passenger who could not take it on the bus, for him, the capital city of the United States had magic.
Sometimes he still felt like pinching himself to make sure he really was a cog in the machine that kept the country moving—even if he was a very small cog—and not just daydreaming to get through a stupefyingly easy statistical analysis class back at Princeton.
He checked the street numbers to make sure he was going the right way, and eventually found himself in front of a large office building.
The doors to the lobby shut out much of the commotion of rush hour traffic. There was no building receptionist. He joined a small group of people at the directory and located the office he needed.
The Hunt Research Agency took up the entire sixth floor. Like S13 and S5, the Agency masqueraded as a simple, mundane office whose workers pushed papers of indeterminate origin around their desks all day. In their case, the shelves of psychology books and the waiting-room arrangement of the reception area led the casual visitor to assume they had something to do with the psychology department at the nearby university. Anyone who pressed for more information would eventually learn that they were involved in parapsychology research.
Occasionally, someone with real talent found their way here. For the sum of $25.00 per hour, adjusted on a sliding scale for income, the agency would test that potential. They would also provide those who had just enough ability to make their lives Chinese-curse interesting with the training to understand and control it.
Olivia Hunt, the agency's director, considered that a public health service. Her clients usually went away happy that there was indeed a reasonable explanation for the phenomena that they had been experiencing, and contentedly went back to their normal lives until the next major occurrence. In this way, Olivia had cultivated a network of minor psi-talents who would pick up the phone and call her if they had a flash of something that they couldn't explain in their day-to-day lives. Often such a flash usually required only reassurance, or a simple conversation with someone who knew they weren't crazy. But if her phone was ringing off the hook with reports, that was an indication that something big was in the works.
Even more rarely, a client who had a high level ability, was either very sensitive or very accurate, walked through the door, and they were recruited whenever possible. Depending on their security clearance, they might find work with the CIA or military intelligence. Some joined an agency that provided "psychic consultants" to police and sheriffs' departments all over the country, and some had gone on to careers in law enforcement.
Then there were the emergency cases—young people in danger of abuse from their families who did not understand their abilities, for the most part. Hunt worked with children's services and, if necessary, the Sectors' legal department in those cases, and had a very well-vetted list of foster homes able to take the kids in at short notice if all else failed. Which, sadly, it did with depressing regularity.
Sam knew all this because, before going to work at Portman, Bailey and Fitch, he had worked for NEST Director Charlotte Mearing, who was responsible for all the Sectors, including Sector 11.
He had not expected to need to come here as a client.
The receptionist, Karina Haubrich, was accepting a check from a middle-aged lady who looked like she would have been more at home bird watching than practicing with Zener cards. The lady put her checkbook back into her purse and said, "See you next week!"
"Have a good afternoon, ma'am!"
"Thanks, you too!"
Sam got the door for her. "Hi, Ms. Haubrich. I've got an appointment at 5:30 with Dr. Hunt."
"Yes, it's through the door and straight back. She's expecting you. It's good to see you again, Sam."
"I suspect I'll be here pretty regularly for a while at least."
"Yes, ma'am, apparently so."
"Welcome to the club," she smiled. Karina had just enough talent that she never had to worry about losing her car keys or missing an important phone call. She was content to keep the office running smoothly for the benefit of those whose talents tended to take over their entire lives—not a circumstance that she envied them.
"Yes, ma'am," Sam replied.
Olivia had her door open. She was on the phone, and waved Sam in. He sat down on one of the chairs in front of her desk, and studied the diplomas and framed pictures of her daughters on her brag wall as he waited for her to wrap up the call.
There was a small voice recorder on the desk in front of her with the switch in the "Off" position, mute assurance that whatever Sam said here would remain here, even if someone reenacting the Watergate burglary took a snoop through her office.
She concluded the call promptly. "Sorry about that, Sam, unfortunately it was a pretty important call. What seems to be the problem? Charlotte and Optimus both checked to make sure I could get you in soon."
"May I close the door?"
Sam reached over to push it closed. "Did they say why? I mean, is there some kind of a problem they haven't told me about?"
Olivia said, "No one's been especially forthcoming about what's going on with you to me, either. I presume that you experienced an event?"
"Several. Um, related events. Just so you know, a lot of this is still classified. Director Mearing assures me that your clearance is high enough, but it's included in your non-disclosure agreement."
"I understand. I'll treat everything as classified information."
"Thanks. Sorry to have to pull that on you, but..."
"It isn't a problem at all."
"OK. You know, when Megatron was killed the first time at Mission City, I destroyed the All-Spark to do it. Or, at least, we thought I had. What was really destroyed, though, was only its vessel. The All-Spark itself was—well, I don't think we really understand what it was, but let's call it a form of energy."
"I was the closest vessel handy. I carried it for two years, and it made some changes to make itself more at home. Among other things, I started having psychic episodes. Flashes of things that haven't happened yet. Viewing things in real time, at a distance. And, some things that aren't necessarily 'psychic' but definitely weren't talents I had before. I pick up on relationships between events. I understand cause and effect, and see connections between events. And, I breezed through all the training that Director Mearing and Colonel Lennox could put me through. I was never exactly what you'd call a couch potato, but I wasn't special forces material, by a long shot."
"Do you still...I need a good word here...contain...that energy?"
"No. It left me a while ago. But the changes it made seem permanent."
"I see. Be more specific about these psychic episodes."
"The first one was two years ago, at Princeton..." Sam told her the whole story, and it sounded even more crazy when he tried to explain it in so many words. "So, that's it. I knew these other bots were coming before they got close enough to make radio contact."
"But isn't that wonderful, that so many more Cybertronians have been found alive and safe?"
"Yes, of course it is. Excellion is going to make a big commotion when he lands. Optimus said Excellion makes him look like an ant, if you can imagine that. But so many friends and relatives are going to be reunited that I really don't care how much hoopla there is in the press about it. After everything that's happened, they deserve some happiness."
"Absolutely. I wonder if they'd let us watch him come in for a landing?"
"Well, you know, I think it would be great if there was a crowd there? You know, like when the troops come home from Afghanistan? These people are coming home from the wars, too. I think we should do that. If we talk to the director about it, I'm sure she'll say yes."
"I'll do that. When do you think it will happen?"
"I couldn't tell from my vision, but Optimus told me they'll make planetary orbit in nineteen days, and they'll be allowed to land on the base."
"What do you mean, allowed to land? That sounds ominous."
"We don't know yet what their status will be after that. Optimus and the rest of the Autobots are legal aliens, with green cards and everything. The former 'Cons are detainees. They can't leave the base without an Autobot or NEST escort. These new guys are all either Autobots or neutrals, so they shouldn't be detainees, but we don't know yet what their immigration status will be. We think the new Autobots will be able to get green cards fairly easily, because we know there are still 'Con combatants out there. But the neutrals, well, they're neutrals because they aren't fighters. We think right now they'll get some kind of refugee status, but that's still up in the air."
"Wow. I never thought about immigration issues where the Cybertronians were concerned."
He nodded, this unprepossessing fellow you could order by the dozen from Central Casting. His clothes, though, were expensive. Not showily so, but chosen with care for quality: which alone made him unusual. But all he said was, "Yeah. Nothing's simple."
Olivia nodded thoughtfully. "All right. Let's break this down. The All-Spark created several measurable changes. Your physical and mental abilities are both greater than they were before this happened. But those are separate issues from the psychic phenomena that fall within my area of expertise. So far, you've demonstrated three distinct abilities, precognition, astral projection and clairvoyance.
"Now, when I say they're separate issues, I don't mean they're completely unrelated to more easily explained areas of your life. Your precognitive abilities may be coming into play when you describe your talent at data analysis. Knowing which outcome is most likely certainly helps with that. You can expect your skill with data analysis to grow as you gain better control over your abilities.
"But what I'm saying is, these are the areas of study where I can teach you."
"What do you want me to do?"
"There are various tests for psychic ability that we've developed over the years. We can get started with some of the preliminary ones this evening. Have you ever heard of Zener cards?"
Sam frowned. "Five symbols, and you try to predict which one will come up next?"
"Yes. A score of 20 percent is consistent with random chance. A score that is significantly and consistently better than that indicates a degree of predictive talent. Ready to give it a try?"
"I guess so."
Olivia opened her laptop and booted it up while she took out a deck of cards, and shuffled and cut them a few times. "There are twenty-five Zener cards, five of each of five different symbols. You will tell me which symbol is coming up next before I look at the card. In that way, we can be sure you're predicting the card, not reading my mind."
"Do you need to do anything specific to focus your mind before we start?"
"What do you mean?"
"Some people focus on a crystal or a candle flame, for instance."
"I've been asleep every time it happened," Sam explained.
"That's a common story. When you're asleep, your conscious mind isn't acting like a traffic cop, telling you this can't be real. You'll probably have to consciously accept that this is really happening before you can go any further while you're awake."
"All right, concentrate on the top card, and tell me the first symbol that comes to your mind."
Sam did so. Olivia recorded his results, but didn't tell him as he went along whether each call was right or wrong. After they went through the deck, she added up his score.
"Very good. Forty percent."
"That's better than the statistical average, but I was still wrong sixty percent of the time."
"It isn't an exact science. I'm considered fairly good at this, and I score around eighty percent."
"What can I do to improve?"
"Practice," Olivia told him. "Simple things are best. Every time a commercial break comes up when you're watching TV, try to determine what commercials will be played. Predict the winners of a day's sporting events. What you're trying to do is recognize the state of mind that you need to be in before you can tap into your abilities. Everyone does this differently. I use meditation and biofeedback techniques. Jarrell is a martial artist, so he does katas for half an hour or so to get into the right mindset. Adele Hempstead of S13 meditates using a certain incense before attempting a Tarot reading. You'll have to learn what works best for you."
"Is this science or magic? And I know, any sufficiently advanced science..."
"I believe that what I'm doing is science. It's repeatable, testable, and I don't have to cast spells, or call on help from beyond. I think that magic and science are two different ways of looking at the world. We may be studying the same phenomena, but learning different things and getting there by different methods."
Olivia went on, "Next, I'd like you to try reading photographs. This is Jarrell's strongest talent, and if you share it, it's the best way I know to train clairvoyance. I'm going to give you a series of photographs of places that I'm very familiar with, so I'll have a good idea how accurate your readings are."
"I want you to study the photos, calm yourself and reach a state where you can see the place as if you were standing there. You said that you're an astral projector. At this point, don't try to go there. Instead, I want you to remain here, but experience the place with your senses."
"All right. Let me see the first one."
She handed over a picture of an old, ivy-covered barn. Sam took a deep calming breath as he examined the photo, trying to feel the energy of the place.
"I hear bells? Cowbells? It's very cold—of course, it's winter. I can smell wood smoke. There's a dog barking."
"Excellent! This farm is in Vermont, and it's a dairy. It belongs to my college roommate's family. If you're standing looking at the barn, there's a farm house with a wood stove behind you, and they have a dog. The chances are very good that you're highly accurate with that one. Now, return to this room and clear your mind, and then we'll try another one."
The next photo was of a beach, with a small girl in an old-fashioned bathing suit building a sandcastle. Sam said, "That's you...but I'm not really getting anything else. Is there something especially significant about this picture?"
"It was taken on a family vacation at Myrtle Beach. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, though."
"This other picture looks more recent. Maybe that's it."
"Maybe. There may have been enough changes over the years that it no longer reads as the same place to you. Some people hit on this picture and some don't. I think it's probably significant that you recognized me in the photo."
They went on with the exercise until Sam started getting a headache. At that, Dr. Hunt called a halt. "Sam, you're one of the stronger talents I've ever met. If you were anyone else, I'd be recruiting you right now. But, since I think I'd be in a bit of trouble for poaching you, we'll concentrate on training. I'd like you to come in once a week, if that will work for you?"
"I think I'm going to have to make it work. I need to learn to control this. My visions have already saved lives. I can't miss one."
"You won't. But we're only human when it comes to interpreting them. Ten years ago, I had a vision so strong it gave me a migraine that knocked me flat on my back. I saw crowds of people running from a cloud that was rolling down the street like a tidal wave. I had no idea what it was and neither did any of the other CIA analysts I was working with at the time. That was September 8th, 2001."
His eyes opened wide. "Oh, my God."
"Yes. When the attack happened, when I saw news coverage of the towers' collapse...I still have nightmares, Sam, where hundreds of people are pointing fingers at me and asking me why I didn't warn them."
"There is no way you could have known what that was. You couldn't possibly have warned anyone."
"That's my point. We do the best we can. Sometimes it isn't enough, there just isn't enough information. But since then, I've made it a point to network with as many psis as I can, so that no one of us has to deal with a strong warning like that alone. I hope that network means we'll be in contact with each other when we hit on the same event, and pick up on different details. That should improve our accuracy. That's the best we can do."
Sam nodded. "Thanks, Dr. Hunt."
"Have you had any training in meditation?"
"A little, while I was at school after...we came back from Egypt."
"I want you to meditate for at least fifteen minutes before you go to bed every night. Calm yourself and set aside the stress of the day. I think that will help you focus."
Hunt smiled. "I'll see you next week. Stop and see Karina on your way out to work out a schedule. Have a good evening, Sam."
Sam, his new schedule set, hurried to the metro station on a cold, dark winter night.
(End Part One)