Chapter 12: Insist and Resist
The three femmes, along with Jazz, met with the new Prime outside the High Council's chamber.
"Prime," Jazz intoned overly respectful, giving his old friend a little bow and a playful smirk.
The newly dubbed Optimus Prime looked almost horrified. "Don't tell me you believe all this," he asked, trying very hard to keep his voice down so as not to attract too much attention. He shouldn't have even tried. Already the whisper was going out that there was a new Prime, and he was standing not twenty feet away.
Jazz's playful demeanor instantly dropped away. "What? You don't?"
Optimus Prime anxiously rubbed at his head. "I'm just a data clerk-" he tried to say.
By then the crowd had started to surge forward, wanting to catch a look at their new leader. The guards that had been stationed at the door of the High Council's chamber came forward, barring the way as the crowd's whispers led them forward.
"Perhaps here is not the best place to discuss this," Ariel said, striving for calm and barely half succeeding. She wasn't sure what to think about what had just happened. Even with the space around them given by the guards, she had to raise her voice in order to be heard.
Optimus nodded, still in a state of shock. "Yes, I believe I know the perfect place to go."
Chromia suddenly stepped forward, making her presence known for the first time. "Just say the word and I'll get you there Optimus Prime." She said smartly, saluting as she did.
"Oh no, I couldn't impose-" he tried to say.
But it seemed that Optimus Prime got cut off more than Orion Pax had. "Social change or not I am still a guard sir and proud to do my duty by you. Besides," Chromia added with a significant look at her long time friend standing next to her, not that Ariel noticed, "I wouldn't miss this for the world."
With Chromia's escort, the small group arrived at the Hall of Records in little time. The news from the council chamber must not have arrived here yet, because Optimus found very little resistance getting inside. Co-workers he knew, the odd acquaintance, all treated him as they had every other orbit he had come here.
Quickly Orion Pax led the small party up several levels, past rows of old codex records that had long ago been transcribed into the DataNet by others such as himself, until finally they reached the office of the Archivist, the mech that kept order in Iacon's Hall of Records.
Optimus had barely knocked before a soft, "Come in," came through the closed door. Carefully, Optimus let himself in, the others trailing in behind him as he respectfully acknowledged the mech that, up until a handful of cycles ago, had been his immediate superior.
The old mech known as Alpha Trion sitting behind the desk looked knowingly up from the even older codex he always had on his desk, quill in hand. "I had a feeling you would be coming soon," he glanced over at the others that had followed Optimus all the way from the council chamber, "although perhaps not with such as entourage."
"These are my friends," Optimus quickly explained, feeling a bit awkward and very unsure of himself. "I asked if they would come with me." He hadn't actually, but he was glad they had followed all the same.
Alpha Trion nodded slowly as he closed his book, large fingers keeping his place until a suitable bookmark could be found. When he had marked his place, he folded his arms on the desk in front of him and looked up at his former data clerk. "Well go on," he finally said, "best to let it all out at once I think."
Optimus Prime paced nervously in front of Alpha Trion's desk while the others hung back near the far wall, watching curiously, wondering what the old mech was talking about.
"How is this possible?" Optimus finally demanded. "With all the respect that is due to you Alpha Trion, I am just a data clerk. How can I be the next Prime? Alpha Trion what is happening?" He finally asked, sounding very alarmed as he stopped in front of Alpha Trion, hands spread wide next to his sides to express his extreme confusion.
"Is that all?" The old mech asked patiently.
It wasn't. "And what is all this about myths and legends and signs pointing towards me to save everybody? Since when does the High Council listen to prophecies?"
"Anything else?" The Archivist raised an optic ridge.
"Yes!" Optimus Prime started pacing again. "What in the world is going on?"
Alpha Trion fell quiet, nodding to himself at the end of his younger friend's outburst. "You always did have a tendency to over think things Optimus," he murmured, speaking the former data clerk's new name as if he had been using it for ages.
"I'll second that," Jazz added from where he leaned against the wall next to the door, arms crossed over his chest.
Somewhat stiffly, Alpha Trion stood and came around his desk. "I will start with the book." He said, reverently touching the cover of the old book on his desk. "It is where all the signs are written, other then that it is none of your business, so kindly leave it alone." He said, not sounding entirely cross. "And you would be surprised how long the High Council has listened to the somewhat, how shall I put this, far fetched words of an old mech like me, especially when it pertains to the book. Let's see, what else did you ask?"
"How he could be made Prime." Jazz added sounding slightly irritated at his friend's doubt.
"Ah yes, that was it." Alpha Trion said stepping closer to the still anxious Optimus. "Well, as for that, did you ever think that maybe you are asking the wrong question Optimus?"
Optimus waited a long cycle, but his old mentor did not speak. "And what would be the right question then?" He finally asked.
Alpha Trion smiled slightly. "Who are you not to be Prime?"
The question threw Optimus for a loop and he fell silent, thinking.
"Well, now if you are done doubting yourself," Alpha Trion said after giving Optimus a moment of quiet to soak in this new idea, "perhaps we can get down to the urgent business."
"Urgent business?" Ariel asked her voice soft.
Alpha Trion locked his wise old optics on her, taking her in before giving her a small, endearing smile, as if he recognized her as someone he had known for a long time. "In case you haven't noticed my dear, a maniac set off bombs all over the planet. Something must be done about him."
Ariel blinked, feeling chided despite the old mech's soft tone. "Undoubtedly," she said, "but what is the best course of action?"
Chromia laughed, a hard sound. "Kick his aft of course. Murderers like him don't deserve mercy." She said, her eyes going hard at the memory of Megatron lording over the murders of thousands of innocent Cybertronians.
Everyone looked over at the soft sound of Optimus Prime's voice.
"No?" Chromia asked, frowning slightly.
"No," Optimus said again, at the very least outwardly calm, although some of his self doubt still remained etched around the corners of his mouth, "if there is to be a war, we shall not be the ones to start it. Not until every other option has been exhausted." He said somewhat hesitantly, but his voice was firm.
Chromia shifted her weight angrily and scowled at him, much to Ariel's embarrassment. "I hate to break it to you Prime, but Megatron already started this war when he set explosives throughout the continents. And while I'm not so sure about having you in charge, I know for sure I don't want him."
Everyone in the room, even Optimus, nodded, agreeing with her last words.
"I understand," he said anyway, sounding grave, "however I will give him the chance for surrender for now. Hopefully he will take it before anyone else gets hurt."
"You really think he will turn himself in?" Ariel asked softly.
Optimus vented a frustrated sigh. "No, however I will offer it anyway. Perhaps when he sees the change in leadership, and hears what I plan to do, he will give up trying to attain freedom through force and will work with me instead of fighting against me."
Even Optimus realized how much like wishful thinking that sounded.
"But until then," he quickly continued, trying to think through everything at once and doing a fairly good job of it, "until then we need to start repairing the damage done by his explosives and honor those who were extinguished before their time."
"And use the time to build up our own supplies, just in case." Chromia muttered, ever the warrior.
Optimus heard her. "Yes," he intoned, "just in case."
A loud 'ACHOO!' cut through the severity of the moment.
Everyone looked down to see Aria rubbing at her nose before she sneezed again, all the dust from the ancient records irritating her nose.
"Oh my," Alpha Trion said in mild surprise when he had leaned far enough over his desk to catch sight of the little organic. "I do apologize; I did not see you there." He said before looking over at Optimus. "And who is this?" He asked.
"Ariah," Optimus answered.
Jazz and Chromia snorted laughter.
"An organic." Jazz said sounding amused.
"An alien." Chromia said in the same instant sounding as if she still could not quite believe it rather than amused.
For the first time since they had arrived, Alpha Trion looked truly surprised.
"Really?" He asked softly as he peered back down at the organic femme. Aria, for her part, stared back up at him, smiling at the familiar look of shock on his face. It was so weird getting this reaction from everybody she met.
"What is she doing now?" Alpha Trion asked as Aria looked over at Optimus and silently pointed up at the top of the desk.
"I believe she wants to meet you." Optimus said before carefully leaning down and offering Aria his palm. With a deep breath, she stepped on and held tight to the large mech's thumb before closing her eyes. She only squeaked fearfully once as Optimus lifted her onto his mentor's desk. Personally, the new Prime was impressed.
"I think I'm getting better at this whole being carried several stories above the floor thing," Aria muttered, slightly breathless, as she leaned heavily against the metal stand Alpha Trion had set his quill in, trying to reassure her thumping heart.
But then she opened her eyes to find glowing blue optics staring at her from only a foot away and she jumped up with a shout, her heart beating double time before her feet hit the desktop again.
"Well the book certainly didn't mention this," Alpha Trion murmured as he peered intently at the little being that barely would have reached his ankle joint, "at least not that I could tell." He admitted after another moment of staring.
Aria was beginning to feel like an ant under a large, blue, magnifying glass. Not wanting to take her eyes off of this new person for too long, she quickly glanced over at Orion Pax, who was watching them anxiously.
"What's he doing?" She hissed, starting to freak out from the stranger's undiluted attention.
Fortunately for the little human's rising apprehension levels, Ariel stepped forward, leaning down near to Aria to speak in her usual calm, serene voice.
"Aria, this is the Archivist, Alpha Trion, one of the oldest and wisest members of our race. He means you no harm. He is just curious by your presence." She tried to explain, but even the linguist wished that the old mech would remember himself and stop staring at the organic femme as if she was a specimen on a slide. It was unnerving to say the least.
Aria found it even more so, however she wasn't about to let one freaky old man frighten her. Not after living through that decimating blast when so many others hadn't.
So instead of running and hiding behind the metallic pencil holder like she wanted very much to do (because apparently even some aliens still used pencils), Aria placed one foot behind the other and bowed as elegantly as she could to the old mech.
Alpha Trion leaned back, obviously surprised by Aria's action. To be fair, so was everyone else, especially the ones that already knew her.
But the odd gesture paid off. "My, my, what a delightful little creature," Alpha Trion murmured approvingly, undoubtedly pleased with her formal reaction. "Why didn't you bring her by earlier Optimus?"
Sensing there was no way he could win, Optimus rolled his optics. "Must have slipped my processors," he mumbled at his mentor.
"Yes, well," Alpha Trion began, his train of thought momentarily derailed, "is she self aware or some sort of pet then?"
"No!" Optimus instantly protested. "She's lost! I took her in because I wasn't sure what else to do with her at first and then, well," he trailed off not sure how to explain his reasoning without sounding foolish.
"Then she got him wrapped around her little digits." Jazz filled in for him, still holding back laughter.
Optimus was so stunned he didn't know what to say. He just stared at his oldest friend with his mouth hanging slightly open.
Chromia was quick to join in the fun. "Yes, she's quite the keeper." She added, grinning mercilessly.
Being teased by a complete stranger only sunk Optimus into a deeper embarrassment.
With as much fun as they were having poking fun at the large mech, no one noticed how quiet Ariel had grown. No one that is, but Alpha Trion, who studied her with almost as much intensity as he had watched Aria, only now his idle curiosity had been replaced with thoughtful musing and a growing sense of approval.
"So this is his Chosen One eh?" He thought, remembering several harder to read passages from the closed book sitting in front of him. They had been made up of enough future characters that they had remained mostly a mystery to the perceiving mech's optics, however enough of the words were still in present use that he had gleaned the basic, if not slightly vague, gist of what the passage foretold.
A small noise cut through the jesting atmosphere that had sprung up with Aria's noticed presence. Almost as one, the five Cybertronians turned and looked over at the little organic. She was still standing on Alpha Trion's cluttered desk. Only instead of leaning on the quill stand, she had made her way over to the old Archivist's left where she had found the data pad he had been looking at before Optimus had knocked on his door. She was trembling as she stared down at the images displayed on the pad's screen.
Alpha Trion felt the heaviness of things to come re-enter his spark. He no longer needed the data pad to know what the young organic femme was looking at. The images had burned themselves onto his processors, never to be forgotten.
Optic ridges furrowed in worry, Optimus Prime came over to the other side of Alpha Trion's desk to see what it was that had his little house guest so upset. Slowly, as if he was afraid to see what was on the data pad, he reached out to pick the device up. He nearly threw it down again when he saw what it showed.
There were more images of destroyed Cybertronians on Alpha Trion's data pad then Aria could count, all in pieces and all strewn about the ruined ground as if they were nothing more than dolls a spoiled child had torn apart during a temper tantrum. The thought of all those people killed so frivolously stabbed at the human's heart like a knife.
"It isn't right," she thought as the tears came to sting at her eyes, "how can anyone do this to another living creature?"
Optimus Prime was asking himself much of the same thing as he looked through the images on Alpha Trion's data pad. He wanted to stop, to look away from the lightless optics and extinguished sparks that met him at every turn, but he knew he couldn't.
"This is what will happen if I fail." He told himself. "This is what Megatron has planned for Cybertron."
He would not let it happen. He would save them. Somehow.
It occurred to him that it would be much easier to first save one being before he tried to save a planet full of them.
"Ariah," he finally murmured into the heavy silence of the room. His organic friend looked up at him and he saw she was leaking again, the whites of her optics red with sorrow.
Optimus thought he could understand how she felt as he knelt down to be eye level with the soft-body standing on his mentor's desk.
"Ariah," Optimus nearly choked on the words he knew he needed to say, "Ariah, you must leave."
But the little organic only blinked at him and carefully wiped at her leaking optics.
Not wanting to shirk this duty by passing it on for Ariel to translate, Optimus gently shooed Aria to the far end of the desk and pointed out the sturdy window that stood behind Alpha Trion. Clearly, he pointed out at where the white beam of the space bridge stood in the outskirts of Iacon.
Beginning to catch on, Aria stared up at Optimus Prime, her red optics going wide.
"No!" She cried, "No, I can't leave! I won't!"
Optimus didn't need Ariel's talents to know his small friend was protesting.
"You must," he told her patiently, "this is not your war. If you stay you will most likely be killed, young Ariah, and I cannot let that happen to you."
Aria's head whipped around when Ariel spoke up from where she still stood against the far wall. The human girl looked back up in horror as the rose colored femme translated Optimus' words.
"No. NO!" Aria yelled, her muscles going rigid with held in anger and frustration as more tears coursed down her face. "I will not run," she told herself, "No matter how afraid I am I will not run."
Optimus Prime leaned down closer to the human girl. Despite the close proximity of a head that was easily twice as tall as she was, Aria stood her ground, meeting Optimus Prime's determined gaze. Stubborn blue eyes met glowing blue optics. When Aria finally spoke, her words were slow and concise, even though she knew most of her audience had no idea what she was saying.
"I am not leaving without my sister." She told them, a period after every word.
Her tone left them with no room for argument.
"Well," Alpha Trion finally said when Ariel had told them exactly what the little organic had said, "I guess that's settled then, unless you care to try and kidnap her or something similar." He said with a straight face as he looked over at his new Prime. But when Optimus did not speak, the old mech continued briskly. "Now, back to business. We have much work to do and only so little time to do it I am afraid."
A deep boom suddenly thundered through the empty sky. Aria felt her heart leap into her throat as fear flooded her system. Immediately, everyone's attention was drawn to the window.
Far off in the distance, well outside Iacon's city limits, a tower of smoke, thick and black, rose in ominous warning as the plains below it burned with the force of the violent explosion.
Slowly, Optimus Prime stepped closer to the window, hands balling into fists by his side as he took in the immense destruction taking place before him.
Alpha Trion's sorrowful murmur was the only voice to brave the horrified silence. "Maybe even less then I feared."