I Lost a World!

Chapter 17: Most Interesting of Meetings

Silence followed Optimus Prime's staggering mumble.

Only Aria was untouched by the immense importance of what she had found. "A what?" She asked Optimus, completely clueless.

Her words created a wave of whispers in the crowd as the watching bots turned to speak with each other, either wondering at what their Prime's organic friend was saying or how she could be so dense not to know what a spark was and what this one meant.

Optimus opened his mouth to answer her, to explain at least a little aspect of what she had found, but was interrupted by a broad hand on his shoulder.

Optimus turned to see Ironhide looking at him. "Not to be too paranoid," the sturdy, black armored mech said, keeping his voice low, "but maybe we should continue this conversation somewhere a tad more private?" He suggested, suspiciously looking around the crowded room as if he expected Decepticon spies to just spring up out of the metalwork.

Still, it was a good idea. Optimus nodded, "Yes," he murmured before offering his hand to Aria, "Wheeljack, go find Ratchet, he should know about this. The rest of you, come with me. Ariah, if you don't mind?" He asked, switching to what he knew of her language as he quietly urged the organic femme onto his hand.

"Alright," she muttered unhappily, "just don't drop me. I only have so many hands you know." She told him as she warily sat cross legged in the palm of his hand, holding the precious spark in her lap. She had gotten slightly better about Cybertronians lifting her off the ground, but anyone who bothered to watch her could see it still unnerved her.

Optimus felt his mouth twitch in a slight smile. "I wouldn't dream of it." He told her before carefully climbing to his feet and leading Ariel, Jazz, Chromia, and Ironhide through a connecting tunnel into the far less crowded Hall of Records. It was the safest, not to mention quietest, place he could think of for what was bound to be the most interesting and sensitive of meetings.

As soon as they left the room, Optimus heard the muffled explosion of voices as every bot in the room behind them started talking at once. He made a mental note to remember to tell his forces to keep this to themselves. The last thing they needed was the Decepticons learning of their discovery. Megatron, in an appalling show of madness, had destroyed the sparkling sectors and their guardians near the start of the war. Now the only Cybertronian children still alive were the ones that had had creators, rather than emerging from the Well of Allsparks. Like almost everyone else, Optimus had thought that the Well had stopped bringing sparklings into their war torn world, but apparently, they had been mistaken.

Optimus didn't stop until he had reached the well guarded room that was still Alpha Trion's office. Quickly and quietly, he entered the old mech's office, everyone else filing in after him.

The old mech looked up from his ever present ancient tome, quill held in hand as they entered. "Well, well, well, what a surprise. Optimus, we weren't expecting you." He said as Jazz closed the door behind him.

Optimus dragged himself out of his thoughts enough to see that his mentor was not alone in the room. Two other mechs, one stiff necked and stern and the other giving off a very military vibe, were standing next to the old mech's desk. The first had his hands behind his back in a parade ground rest that was out of place in the Hall of Records while the second leaned against Alpha Trion's bookcase on the other wall, more at ease than the other despite his clear militant background. He was painted the dull metal grays that served as Cybertron military camouflage and he openly wore a missile launcher on his right shoulder that would have given even Ironhide's cannons a run for their credits, but his face was open and honest, giving him an almost charismatic look.

The other mech standing by Alpha Trion's desk was almost a complete opposite study. Instead of patchy cameo, he was painted the well ordered black and white of a Kaon law enforcement officer and his face bore the severe look, not to mention the scars, of one that had worked long and hard around the more miscreant members of society.

They had both looked up when the others entered Alpha Trion's office and, according to their transparent natures, the military mech grinned at them while the black and white's face gave away nothing.

"Optimus, this is Hound and Prowl," Alpha Trion said gesturing first to the cameo colored mech and then the stern black and white, "they were just filling me in on the situation near Kaon and Slaughter City in your absence."

Hound leaned away from the bookcase and approached the former data clerk with a grin. "Optimus Prime, it is an honor. I just about cheered when I heard you arguin' with that no good Megatron. Unfortunately I was stationed over at Fort Gig so I was the only one, but it's their own loss if they want to throw their lot in with a sadistic megalomaniac with mad delusions of grandeur. They can be my guest just so long as they don't get all snippy when they come up against me on the battlefield." He said, sounding almost cheery about it as he held out his rough hand to his Prime.

Managing a small smirk at Hound's words, Optimus Prime took the offered hand. "It is an honor to meet you as well Hound. It's reassuring to know that not all of the military castes went over to Megatron's side." He admitted, firmly grasping the mech's hand.

Hound gave Optimus a slanted grin as he let go and turned to the mech standing behind him. "Ironhide you tough old slagger what're you doing here? I thought a stubborn old mech like you would have stayed in Praxus till the bitter end, or someone dragged you out by the neck. How did you make it out of the continent?"

As the two mechs traded stories and friendly insults, Optimus turned toward the still silent Prowl. The officer inclined his head respectfully to the large red and blue mech and planted a fist over his spark. "Prime." He said by way of greeting.

Optimus returned the gesture and then looked over at Alpha Trion to see if this was normal behavior for the black and white mech.

"He isn't all that social," Alpha Trion admitted, "but he's a brilliant tactician. At the risk of sounding too omniscient, I dare say you're going to need his help."

Optimus Prime nodded to show he understood, but before he could say anything, Alpha Trion was speaking again.

"Now, eh, why are all of you crammed into my office again?" He asked, sounding slightly confused.

Optimus couldn't resist grinning slightly at the old mech. "Nope, no risk of sounding too all-knowing at all."

"Aria found a spark." Chromia spoke up for the first time since Optimus had seen her standing next to the organic in the crowded hall, although he couldn't help but notice she still sounded somewhat dazed.

"You're yanking my chains," Hound answered bluntly, clearly not taking her seriously.

"It's true ya great idgit." Ironhide told him. "Just use your optics for once."

Optimus brought his hand down to Alpha Trion's desk, holding still so Aria could climb onto the solid surface. The little spark was still clasped tight in her hands.

That shut Hound up right quick. "Well I'll be a cyber-monkey's creator's brother," he breathed as he leaned down to get a closer look. "It really is a spark."

Alpha Trion and Prowl leaned closer as well, neither speaking for a long cycle as they absorbed this new, astounding, piece of information.

"Oh my, my, my," Alpha Trion eventually said as he peered at the little sphere Aria held, "you always bring such interesting things into my office Optimus."

Optimus had no answer to that. He didn't even know if this would become a regular occurrence or not. The thought that it would frightened him slightly.

Aria was the first to speak after another long, disconcerting, moment of everyone staring at her. "Alright so we're alone," she said giving the now crowded room another look, "sort of. Now will someone please tell me what all the fuss is about? Just what exactly is this thing anyway?" She asked, holding up the spark.

There was a sudden whoosh as the group of bots sucked in air at her careless handling of the little spark. Optimus nearly felt his own spark falter at the sight. Uncertain of how to explain this in terms the little organic would understand, he looked over at Ariel, silently pleading for help.

The rose red femme nodded slightly at his request and came forward. "It is a spark, Aria, one of our offspring. Please be more careful with him." Ariel explained patiently.

A look of pure horror flooded Aria's face. "It's a baby?" She choked, holding the little spark farther away from her body. "And I've been using it as a flashlight?" She demanded, her pitch climbing higher and higher until her voice was barely more than a squeak at the end.

Fortunately, she was spared the mortification of having to explain what a flashlight was by Ratchet and Wheeljack's abrupt entrance. Wheeljack was practically giddy now, having gotten over his previous shock, but the older medic nearly stopped functioning at the sight of Aria holding the little spark.

"I-I don't believe it," he gasped when he was firing on enough pistons to think straight. "I thought they were all gone. Where in the world did she find it?" He asked as he stared, mesmerized, by the little, yellow spark the organic held.

Ariel quickly asked Aria the same question in a language she could understand.

"Well I'm not rightly sure." Aria answered, holding the spark more carefully now. "You see, I was thrown into this lava pit by this fra-, eh," she hesitated with a look at the little ball in her hands and reminded herself not to swear around the baby, "this freaking little minicon and after walking forever through the dark, found this little guy just sitting on the ground, although all the others are still stuck in the wall of this huge cavern-"

"Others?" The seven voices of those that could understand her all demanded at once.

Aria flinched before nodding at the bots standing over her. "Yeah, about six others all in the cavern I was telling you abou-"

"What cavern?" Ratchet demanded.

Aria slanted him a dirty look at his interruption. "I don't know," she replied somewhat snippily, "the cavern, the only one I found in that whole underground maze."

"Here," Ariel said, handing over the smallest data pad she could find, "show us."

After carefully setting down the little spark on a nest of soft metal fabrics Alpha Trion found in his desk drawers, Aria leaned over the data pad that was easily twice as tall as she was and started drawing the spark cavern on its electronic screen.

"Oh!" She cried in delight, her little blue optics lighting up as her image began to take shape in the air in front of her, projected by some kind of holographic system implanted in the flat device laid out on the desk at her feet. Laughing, she finished filling in the rest of the blackness of the cave around the sparks and then drew a stick figure of herself to show proportions.

"So cool!" She giggled in delight when she was done. "It's like Photoshop but better." In the air before her, her drawing flickered slightly as dust motes drifted in front of the projector.

"It's like she's never seen a data pad before," Hound muttered to Ironhide standing next to him.

"She hasn't." Chromia answered him from the armored mech's other side.

"Sheltered little critter isn't she?" The military mech pointed out, making his old Praxian friend nod in agreement.

"That is magnificent Ariah," Optimus told his little friend, choosing to ignore Hound and Ironhide's whispered comments, "but what about above ground? Where is the entrance to this place?"

Aria's brow furrowed in thought. "I'm not exactly sure," she told him, "I only saw the exit for a second when we first came out on the surface, and I didn't recognize anything around it."

Optimus tapped the data pad, bringing up a clean page. "Can you show us?" He asked.

Aria nodded and frowned down at the white slate in front of her, trying to remember as much detail as she could.

As the little organic quickly drew on the data pad, Hound leaned around Ironhide to look over at the blue and silver femme that had answered him earlier.

He smiled at her. "Sorry, but I don't think I caught you name before darlin'." He said, asking without actually asking.

The silver femme glanced over at him from the corners of her optics, a mischievous smile playing across her face that Hound liked the look of. But before she could speak the 'mute it,' he could see behind her lips, Ironhide shoved him back.

"Now don't go getting any ideas you hound dog," his old friend growled at him, "Chromia's too good for the likes of you anyhow."

Hound was too surprised at Ironhide's reaction to feel very offended. "Why Ironhide you old rascal, just who is this pretty femme exactly that she's got you all worked up over her name?" Hound asked looking over at Chromia much more curiously now with a meaningful grin.

Ironhide none too gently elbowed his old friend. "Would you kindly stuff it Hound?" He growled, carefully avoiding the question. "This is actually important."

For her part, Chromia just stood there quietly, listening to the two mechs badger each other as she bit back her grin.

"Aren't we enjoying all the attention?" Ariel murmured to her sister.

Chromia snorted lightly. "As if your one to talk, right?" She answered back with a significant look at the broad red and blue painted shoulders in front of them.

"Ta-da!" Aria interrupted their conversation and the mech's budding argument as she finished sketching out the landscape she remembered seeing when Bluestreak had finally exited the underground labyrinth.

"Great," Jazz murmured as he and the others carefully inspected the holographic image, "I don't recognize it. Do any of you?"

They all shook their heads, some muttering negatives.

"So how do we get there?" Chromia asked slightly impatient now.

Aria was beginning to look unnerved by all the sudden, insistent attention as every eye retrained itself on her. "I don't know. Ask Bluestreak. He's the one that got me out of there."

"Bluestreak?" Jazz asked. "Who's Bluestreak?"

A slight noise made all of the bots turn around. There, standing by the door looking as if he wanted nothing more than to bolt from such fearsome warrior bots like the commander of the Autobots and his friends, stood the youngling that had driven Aria to Iacon.

For a long cycle, the adults blinked at the boy, each of them wondering how they had missed his presence to begin with.

"Hello," Optimus finally found his voice. "Are you Bluestreak?"

The little mech eyed the adults watching him, and then nodded quickly. "Yes," he squeaked.

Slowly, not wanting to frighten the boy, Optimus inclined his head. "It is nice to meet you Bluestreak. I am Optimus Prime-"

The little mech's optics lit up as his whole frame leaned forward in excitement. "Oh I know sir. My guardian Solarwind used to talk about you all the time. He said you were one of the bravest Primes he had ever heard of and that if anyone could defeat that nasty old Megsie it would be you." He finished, speaking faster than any child Optimus had ever heard.

A snort of laughter followed Bluestreak's words. Optimus looked over to see Hound grinning wickedly at the child's name for Megatron. "Megsie," he laughed again, "I'm going to have to remember that one. Nice name kid. Your guardian has quite the sense of humor." He said, smiling over at the young mech.

But Bluestreak looked down at the floor, his small hands clinging together anxiously in front of his frame.

Optimus exchanged a worried look with Ariel over the little mech's head, his silence telling them more than all his words put together.

Ratchet must have finally dragged his attention away from the spark because he suddenly gasped in horror as he caught sight of the still untreated scratches and dents that littered the youngling's frame.

"Dear Primus, what happened to you boy?" Ratchet demanded, outraged at the sight of the injured youngling.

Bluestreak flinched at the medic's loud voice and refused to look up as he nervously wrung his hands together. But eventually he gathered up enough courage to whisper, "Starscream," into the grave silence of the room.

Optimus felt a fierce rage light in his spark at the hateful name. How dare that sycophantic Seeker harm a youngling like that, not to kill but just to take pleasure out of causing harm to another living being. At that moment Optimus wanted nothing more than to find this Starscream and wring his sorry frame, but somehow he resisted the strong urge to ball his hands into firsts, afraid it would only frighten the youngling further.

But then comfort for the little mech came from an unexpected source.

"Are you from Helix, youngling Bluestreak?"

Bluestreak finally looked up from the ground, along with the rest of the room's inhabitants, at the sound of the low, unfamiliar voice. Prowl still stood stiffly beside Alpha Trion's desk, only now instead of distantly watching the mechs and femmes that had suddenly joined them, he was looking over at the blue and gray youngling standing anxiously near the door.

Bluestreak glanced up at the withdrawn mech uncertainly, and then nodded quickly.

Prowl nodded at the little mech. "I was there a few orbits ago. They called us in when the Decepticons took out the city's forces on their way to the Praxus border." He explained calmly to the little mech before carefully crossing the room to kneel down in front of him. "May I?" He asked, holding out a hand towards the youngling's arm.

After a slight hesitation, Bluestreak nodded.

Gently, the taciturn officer picked up the youngling's arm and inspected the cuts that marred its surface. "You should have Ratchet here look at those, but I don't think you're in danger of off lining any minute." He told him and then silently waited.

Eventually, Bluestreak tried to fill in the silence. "Were you afraid?" He asked the law enforcement officer in a small voice.

Prowl nodded slightly. "Yes," he admitted to the boy, "at first, but then I fought back and the 'cons weren't so frightening anymore." He told the child. "If you care to learn, I can teach you how to protect yourself youngling Bluestreak."

The youngling's bright blue optics grew wide. "Really?" He squeaked, "You'd let me be an Autobot? Yes! Yes! Yes! I want to fight Decepticons just like all of you." He said, regaining some of his energy at the idea of turning into a brave warrior like the bots in front of him.

The stoic Prowl managed to smile a little at the youngling, although the action felt out of place on his faceplates. "Well first you should have Ratchet fix you up." He told the little mech.

Bluestreak nodded. "Alright, but will I see you later Prowl? And Optimus Prime and Ironhide and Jazz and Chromia? Oh, and Ms. Ariel and Aria and the sparkling too when it's got its first frame and-"

"Yes, yes, alright," Ratchet interrupted the youngling impatiently as he took his hand and guided him toward the door with a gentleness that surprised the youngling, "you'll be able to see everyone once I've gotten you fixed up youngling. Oh, and speaking of frames," he said turning back around to face Optimus, "we're going to need to find more parts for his first frame." Ratchet tore his gaze away from the injured youngling long enough to point at Aria's sparkling. "I should have all the required parts in my lab back in the med sector. Wheeljack knows where everything is. Although if there really are six other sparks down there then we might have to be more creative with the parts we have." The old medic pointed out.

"Well then we'll just have to go find some more." Ironhide spoke up before switching to the crude imitation of organic speech Chromia had taught him during Aria's absence. "C'mon little Sparkfinder," Ironhide said to Aria as he made his way determinedly towards the door, "let's see what other kind of luck you bring."

Aria rolled her eyes at the trigger happy mech, but climbed back onto Optimus' hand so they could follow him anyway. "Do you mind watching the spark until we get back Alpha Trion?" The little organic asked quickly before Optimus left the room.

The old mech nodded at her. "Of course, it's fine." He told her, making the organic femme smile at him as the door closed behind her and Optimus.

Alpha Trion shook his head once he was left alone with the spark before opening up his old book and picking up his quill. "It's quite amazing," he muttered as he wrote something down before he could forget it, "I'm hundreds of vorns old and still I'm being asked to spark sit at the oddest of times."

As if he took some offense to the old mech's words, the spark flashed fussily at him from where he sat swaddled next to the quill stand.

"Oh don't take it that way," Alpha Trion told the glowing spark. "Besides, they're going to be right back and with a whole new mess of parts for you and the others for your first frames. Please try and behave yourself until then at least."

The spark flickered at him again, but not quite as brightly as before.

The old mech couldn't help but smile at the little glowing sphere. "Oh you're going to be a special one alright, don't need my book to tell me that. I can feel it. Especially with your choice in guardians. Although I feel I must warn you, you have absolutely no idea what you're getting yourself into my little friend."

The spark flickered sleepily, tired out by all this talking, telling the perceptive old mech that he would take his chances.

Finding Ratchet's parts was easy. Even finding the cavern entrance wasn't nearly as hard as anyone thought it would be. It turned out that it was the sparks themselves that made up the hard part.

"So why can't we just pick them up again?" Aria asked for the fourth time in as many minutes. She had already asked Optimus, Ariel, and Chromia, but they had been so busy marveling at the sparks shining in the wall that none of them had bothered to answer her. And at the moment, it didn't look like Wheeljack was going to be any more help than they had been.

"Well," the white and green mech said slowly as he placed a hand on the cavern wall, "pure sparks like this are so easily influenced that just a touch could lead to imprinting and that's generally discouraged until they get their first frame and are technically a sparkling."

Aria raised an eyebrow at him, getting the feeling that that would have been more understandable if he had said it in Cybertronian. Still, it was more than the others had given her. "What do you mean by imprinting?" She asked as she followed Wheeljack down the cave wall as he scanned its surface, collecting information.

"Huh? Oh, it's uh, it's where the newly created sparkling instantly bonds with a certain bot, who then becomes its guardian, or caretaker. They're the ones that watch out for the sparkling and take care of him until he receives his final frame. Even then the bond is strong between the guardian and the younger bot."

Aria took a few lazy steps after the inventor, absorbing his words. "So…" she finally began uncertainly, "you build bodies for your bab-eh sparklings?" she asked hesitantly.

"Yup," Wheeljack said.

"But the sparks themselves come from holes in an underground cave?" She asked, just to be sure. Even as far as alien robots went, this seemed to be just a tad too far out of reasonable to Aria's organic mind.

"You got it," Wheeljack told her, finally turning away from the apparently extremely fascinating worn metal wall. "Although," he added after a moment of thought, "some sparklings are created through sparkmates instead of coming from the Well of Allsparks."

Aria found herself looking up at the inventor, wondering if she dared to ask what he was talking about now. She did. "Sparkmates?"

Wheeljack nodded. "Yeah, they're bonded pairs, or, erm, how else to describe them, a couple of, ah," "A couple of whats?" He asked himself.

But fortunately for him, teenage humans were all about describing things in vague notions like 'couples'.

"Oh," Aria said in realization, "couples, okay got it."

Wheeljack looked down at Aria uncertainly. Not for the first time he reflected on how strange organic speech was, fluctuating from impossibly specific to horribly vague more times than he could count in just a single conversation, sometimes even in a single sentence.

"Yes, well," he continued, trying to remember where he had stopped, "sparkmates can create a spark, however after that the process is really just the same, even though the bonds are slightly different between creator and offspring than they are in guardians and sparklings."

Aria nodded slowly as she thought this through. "That sounds more like how we bear and raise children." Aria said, thinking out loud. "You've got a mom and a dad and between the two of them you end up with a baby. One plus one equals three." She told the inventor with a grin.

Wheeljack nodded. "Interesting." He mumbled, trying to imagine how organic parents gained enough soft parts to build frames for their children. "I wonder how they keep them from disintegrating until the organic spark is ready."

Fortunately for Aria's gag reflex, he didn't say that out loud. Instead he settled on several different questions he wanted answers to. "Now maybe you can explain some things to me Aria," Wheeljack asked looking down at his organic friend, "for instance, how does your kind create sparks for your offspring if there is no Well of Allsparks? Do they only come from sparkmates then?" He asked.

"Yeah, I guess you could say that. Although we don't call them sparkmates. When a mech and femme pair off like that we usually say they're married, or husband and wife." Aria told him as she lazily followed him, staring at the walls in the new and improved lighting they had brought with them.

Wheeljack nodded as he processed this new information. "And how do this husband and wife create a spark between them?" He asked curiously, wondering if it was similar to bonding between sparkmates.

Aria froze in her tracks when she realized what the answer was to the curious mech's question. "I am not having this conversation." She told Wheeljack flatly.

"But-" the inventor tried.

"No." Aria said turning away. "End of story."

"But it's not the end I'm concerned with," Wheeljack called after her, "it's the beginning."

She either didn't hear him or just plain refused to answer. But, as she found out later, it was already too late. Wheeljack was curious now.

"So have you guys figured anything out yet?" Aria asked as she stopped near where Optimus was speaking with Ariel, Chromia, and Ironhide, discussing how to get the sparks back to the surface and then Iacon without imprinting on them she guessed.

Ariel was the only one to turn toward hers, the others continuing their discussion. "I'm afraid not, young Aria," the femme told her, "it seems that finding a safe way to transport them is proving more difficult then we first anticipated."

Aria nodded as Chromia spoke up in Cybertronian. "Maybe we can get Firestar down here and she can carry them. Her bed should be big enough for all of them." She suggested with another thoughtful look over at the glowing sparks.

Optimus made a thoughtful sound in the back of his vocal processor. "Yes, but I would feel better if we could find a way to keep them from sight so no wandering Decepticons can just happen to see them."

"And besides she would still need something to wrap them up in so that they didn't make physical contact with her frame, unless she wants to become a guardian to six little glowing balls of joy." Ironhide pointed out.

Chromia blinked at the mental image that presented, then laughed loudly. "It would be absolute mayhem! The first time any of them had a tantrum she would give them to the Decepticons."

Optimus looked horrified at the very thought, but Ariel slanted her old friend a look. "Or she would just threaten to leave them with Auntie Chromia until they learned to behave." She said slyly.

"Hey now!" Chromia protested, "what are you talking about? I love younglings. I'm wonderful with younglings. That little mech of Silverwolf's adored me! He was always begging me to watch him when Silverwolf was on shift and I wasn't thank you so much."

"Says the femme that left him at the transport station the second time she watched him." Ariel said, trying hard not to smile. "Poor little thing was so distraught he called me to come and pick him up because no one else would pick up their comm."

"It was an accident!" Chromia cried. "You're just never going to let me forget that are you?"

Ariel grinned at her sister. "No." She told her truthfully.

Ironhide snorted. "That's nothing, the first time I had to spark-sit I took my optics away from the youngster for two kliks and he went and wandered into a cryo-stasis chamber. It took Hound and me cycles to find the kid. Lucky for us the room's power had been cut for maintenance and he just thought we were playing hide and seek."

"Well if the room was warm then that's not so bad." Chromia said, relieved that the youngling had been alright.

Ironhide, however, still looked a little traumatized. "His creator was my immediate superior."

The other three stared at him, either imagining the horror of a situation like that or trying not to laugh at it altogether.

Mainly it was Chromia trying to hold in her amusement. Partly to distract herself, and partly for an actual answer, she turned to the warrior mech and said, "I never would have expected you to be fond of younglings Ironhide." She said, trying to sound more offhanded about it than she felt, not that she had much success.

He thought about telling her that his commanding officer had left the youngling with him because he thought that if anyone could keep the little frame of energy out of trouble it was gruff, imposing Ironhide, but quickly decided against it. Admitting he had been ordered into spark-sitting just because the little bot's creator thought Ironhide would scare the kid into obedience took some of the niceness out of it, he realized. Usually he wouldn't have cared one way or the other what anyone thought of him in that department, but Chromia changed everything.

So instead he settled on, "Yeah, I do tend to give that impression, but they're not so bad once they open up a bit," "and stop gawking in terror at your cannons," he thought.

Besides, the youngling had actually grown on him, you know, once they had found him.

"And you?" Ironhide asked Chromia, eager to get the focus off of his previous experience in losing younglings in heavily fortified, extremely dangerous military bases filled with all kinds of advanced weaponry.

Chromia smirked at him boldly, her expression doing funny things with the old mech's spark. "That depends," she said, voice low and smooth.

For the first time in a long time, Ironhide felt a thrill of nervous excitement shoot through his frame. "On what?" He finally found enough voice to ask.

Subtly, Chromia leaned closer to him, never taking her sly blue gaze off of his. "On if you're making me an offer." She murmured to him.

Any cool the mech might have had disappeared at the femme's low words and it took all of his stubbornness not to just shiver with Chromia still watching him.

Fortunately he was saved from the others' scrutiny (and noticing their barely held in laughter at his dumbfounded expression he had no doubt) by a small voice calling out from near their feet. It was difficult, but somehow Ironhide managed to tear his attention away from the fascinating blue frame next to him and focused on organic Aria's foreign words. True he had learned a little from Chromia, but most of his attention hadn't been on the lesson, exactly.

"Well what about Bluestreak and me?" She asked, looking up at their towering frames. "I mean, he's a kid and I'm an alien so the bonds between us should be different right?"

Ariel pondered this for a moment. "It's true that Bluestreak is too young to form a guardian bond with the sparks, and Aria's anatomy is so different that it would be difficult to form any kind of bond with her at all, spark to spark at least anyway." She mused out loud.

"Right, exactly," Aria said, "So why don't Bluestreak and I just pick them up? We carry them, you guys carry us." She suggested.

The adults looked at each other. Her idea was so simple, so easy, that they wondered how they had missed it before.

Optimus looked down at his organic friend. "That could work." He announced.

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