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[personal profile] katharos
Just finished marathoning TFA. Oh so wonderful! So adorable, silly, happy family with awesome hilarious but still edging scary cons. (proper reaction post to come.)

But somehow the fic I immediately HAD to write was this one. Because I find a lot of the Autobot Elite Guard deeply creepy.

Cadet Optimus is ordered to report to the Science Division.

"Alright 'bots! Simulation 27b - go!"

A hand landed on Optimus' shoulder as his team disappeared into the sim-room and he looked up.

'Not you lad," his drill sergeant said heavily. "Orders for you to report to the Science Division."

It was a moment before Optimus could move enough to pull off a salute. "yes sir!"

Sarge squeezed his shoulder once briefly before following the team into the sim room. The doors snapped closed with a hiss.

***

"Cadet Optimus," the lead Scientist - there were four of them - peered at him over the edge of his data pad. "Lately of the base Guard, recently transferred to Advanced and undergoing the transition training, correct?"

"Yes-"

"mmhhm." the scientist made a note on his 'pad. His colleagues murmured among themselves. Optimus kept his back straight, hands clasped behind him in accepted military parade rest. "Yes, very good, very good." The scientist looked up at him again but somehow Optimus felt as if he was still reading lines of data. "Cadet Optimus, you have been selected as a candidate for a, mmhhm, certain project of mine. You will report to Tech Cosine for the initial testing."

Salute, military training and common sense told Optimus. Salute and say 'yes sir.'

Optimus saluted. "Sir, could you tell me what this project is about?"

The scientist chuckled. "I'm afraid that is far, far above your level of clearance cadet. But I can tell you that you are one of several candidates being considered. So do your best in the testing, hmmm?"


Tech Cosine turned out to be a blue and green mini bot with a talent for chattering cheerfully and incessantly about nothing in particular. Optimus let the sound wash over him with something like relief as he was directed through the standard Academy battery of tests.

"Oh, we like to be sure that we have the correct results!" Cosine said cheerfully. Now, please open your arm plates!"

Cosine was the one who took him to his new room, informing him brightly that he would be quartering in the Science Compound for the forseeable future. Then he attached a few wires to Optimus' helm and left, waving.

Optimus lay cautiously down on the recharge plate and shuttered his optics, trying to force his processor to shut down. He 't want to give himself too much time to think, to speculate, to remember.

It was a long time until he slipped into recharge. 

The next few cycles passed in blurr of poking and prodding and testing as Techs like Cosine crawled over what felt like every inch of his plating and wiring, as he struggled through an endless succession of sims, some near identical to Guard training modules, some so esoteric his processor hurt trying to work out what they wanted to learn from them.

It was boring, mostly, with occassional discomfort when the Tech's were too careless with their tools- or deliberately hard in their probing - interspersed with bouts of pure exhaustion as they forced him to the limits of his specs and beyond. Once their attentions left him curled up on the floor by his berth, shivering and gasping as he fought the ghost feel of a thousand tiny fingers skittering between his neural circuits. 

Occasionally he glimpsed the other candidates in the corridors trailing their own cloud of techs and scientists. Some would meet his optics, others wouldn't.

Then one day he arrived at the lab to find only Cosine waiting for him. "Bad news I'm afraid Optimus," the small tech said unhappily. "you've been dismissed from the project."

Relief washed through him in a bright, dizzying wave; he locked his knee joints to keep from staggering. "Dismissed?"

"Unfortunately a number of your test results failed to hit the mark," Cosine sighed. "Now hop up on the table - I need to check you over before we send you back out to the grunts."

For a while he couldn't think past the relief, the release of a fear and tension he had carried for a deca-cycle. He sat quietly listening to the small clinks of Cosine's tools against his plating and gradually another thought occurred to him.

"Cosine," he asked quietly. "Could you tell me who was chosen for the project?"

Cosine patted him on the hand. "Oh Optimus," he said, smiling. "You know that's classified."

***

The barracks hadn't changed. Walking through them it felt like he had been gone longer than a deca-cycle; he felt awkward, as if he was somewhere he shouldn't be. 

When he reached the corner he, Elita and Sentinel had claimed for their own he stopped, feeling his spark grow hot and tight. His berth was still free.

"Optimus!" The twin shout startled him out of his stasis lock and he spun, barely able to brace himself before two concussive cannonballs slammed into him.

"Sentinel. Elita," he breathed as their arms folded around him and he let himself sag into their hold, forehead pressing against the top of Elita's helm. The familiar smell of favourite wax and weapon ozone filled his olfactory sensors, and the thread of guilt and self-hatred for his own relief twisted even tighter around his spark.

"Science bots finally let you out of their clutches huh?" Sentinel laughed. His own hold on was so tight Optimus could feel metal creaking.

Optimus let out a shaky laugh, pulling back a little but not so far that they'd let go. "Apparently my specs weren't up to it."

Sentinel smirked. "I could've told them that in ten seconds. Ow!" Elita waved her fist threateningly under his chin for a moment before pulling back and linking her arm through Optimus's.

"What's say we celebrate your return by getting off this base and getting some energy?"

"Pit yeah!" Sentinel whooped. "Maccadam's!"

Off the base sounded - disturbingly good, but. "Wait you two," Optimus protested. "I've got the rest of this cycle off but don't you have duties?"

"We'll just have to get so overcharged we won't care we're in the brig!" Elita's smirk was so wonderfully familiar Optimus almost forgot to protest until they were over the base wall and half way to the town. Elita and Sentinel pressed close to him all the way and Optimus did his best to loose himself in their joy at having him back. And yet he couldn't forget - found he didn't want to forget - the mech he didn't know who had bought this freedom for him. The guilt and the grief and the consciousness of his own helplessness was all twisted up, inextricable from this      their relief and happiness. They were all part of the great Autobot machine.

But good Autobots didn't think about such things too much.
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June 2012

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