PHOTOS

Chapter 3: Captured

Chapter 3: Captured


Eight weeks after the discussion he had in the med bay with Prowl and Ratchet, Optimus was still couldn’t really believe how things had turned out. The shock about expecting a sparkling had faded relative fast – it would have been much easier without Megatron in the equalisation, but it couldn’t be helped – but that he wouldn’t have to face some sort of trial, or at least be relieved of his rank was a surprise he would have to process first and how the discussion had continued after that had been settled.

*~*Flashback*~*

“Not to mention that risking the Prime’s life is not an option in the first place” the SIC added in a neutral tune. The medic looked relieved, but Prowl was far from finished.

“I have to admit however that I had been very close to relieving you of your rank, Optimus.
I’ve followed you all these vorns, I trusted your judgement regardless of how illogically it seemed, I even had your back when you made mistakes – and we both know you have made some really stupid mistakes before - but I’ve never been this disappointed in you.”

The red and blue mech shrank visible. He had known before it had even come to his mind he would ever reveal his secret that this would happen and he knew he deserved it, but he hadn’t known how much it would hurt. The saying was true; one only knew what they had when they lost it and the medic’s unconscious nodding showed he had not lost his tacticians trust, but also Ratchet’s.

Prowl rose, not waiting for an answer.

“I suggest everything regarding this . . . problem between the three of us for until I had time to come up with a decent strategy. Breaking it to the others now would be disastrous” he said and left in a hurry, almost as if he was trying to flee, which probably wasn’t very far from the truth. There was only so much his battle-computer could take without crashing and someone had to keep this place from going to the Pits.

“I would prefer it to stay this to stay secret as long as possible anyway” the bearer of the Matrix mumbled more to himself than his remaining audience.


“Reasonable, but although I wouldn’t have it formulated like that, but the kid is right: I know you won’t betray us and I still trust your leader qualities, but everything else ...” Ratchet shock his head again, this time fully aware of the move. Then he stood up, too, and pulled the larger mech with him as good as he could and patted the bread shoulder comforting, but it was notable forced gesture – just another prove how much their friendship had suffered under his stupidity.

“You better go back to your room now and rest. I expect you to come here for daily checkups. I may not be happy with this situation, but I surely won’t let you risk anything.”

“Would it help when I say I’m sorry?”

“Do you mean it?”

“Yes.”

“It won’t make it better, but it wouldn’t hurt if you keep trying.”

Optimus smiled weakly, but at least he found hope that maybe they could one day return to what they had and a bit more rest sounded good. This day had been really exhausting and as long as the poor Prowl hadn’t locked up his systems in the attempt to make sense of this he knew his second could keep everything under control for a while longer.

“Prime?”

“Yes, Ratchet?”

“Do you have any sort of feelings for… him?”

The Autobot leader stared at Ratchet in irritation. The first thing coming to his mind was amusement about the others current inability to say Megatron’s designation out loud, the second anger that he dared to think something like this was even possible ... but he couldn’t even bring himself to throw a nasty glare in his direction. The truth, even if everything else of him was recoiling in disgust from the very idea, a tiny, but very persistent part he usually managed to ignore and really didn’t want to examine further, told him that he indeed had some sort of feelings for the Decepticon Lord, feelings other than sole carnal desire or he would have never given in to said desire.

“No, absolutely not!” he said a little too late and a little too loud; he had to in order to silence that little voice that called him liar. “I feel nothing for him.”

For a moment it looked like the medic wouldn’t believe him, but then he nodded.

“Good. Emotions would only make this whole mess more complicated than it already is.
I’ll gather some information about what we can expect to happen now. It’s been too long, without the scanners I would have probably never realised in what ... condition you really are in.”

“You are the best medic of all Cybertron. If anyone can do it, then you.”

The white and red mech huffed half annoyed.

“Compliments won’t get you anywhere. Now go and rest, doctor’s orders.”

*~*Flashback End*~*

With a sigh Optimus return to the present, still blankly starring at the data-pad resting on his desk, optics dimed when the uncomfortable memories flooded back in his processor.

Of course they had all rights to be upset with him, but it was very hard to have Prowl avoid him where he could and Ratchet only address him for matters of health. To go to the med bay and face the still disappointed medic, who only talked with him when it concerned his or the sparkling’s wellbeing every morning wasn’t easy at all. He wouldn’t admit it out loud, but to be threatened with such coldness and to always see that glow of deep disappointment in his old friends’ optics really hurt. Losing the thrust of two of his most dear friends and officers was indeed a high price to pay for his unforgivable foolishness.

If only he would have never developed these feelings, if only Megatron wouldn’t have returned them, heck, it would have been enough if only they wouldn’t have been locked in that Primus damned cave together to keep them from falling victim to temporary craziness and he wouldn’t be in this situation now and he couldn’t even place the blame solely on Megatron.

Why in Primus’ name had he fallen for that crazy maniac in the first place? All he could recall was that the desire had grown aver countless of millennia and had been bound to explode sooner or later, but Optimus would have really preferred later, much “later”, when he couldn’t have “never”.

Talking about Megatron; he wondered when the other would start to wonder why “the Calling” as he called it wasn’t setting in. Usually they couldn’t manage to stand the pain for longer than a month, but the sparkling prevented that from happening.
Optimus had worried Megatron could maybe learn about their creation through the bond, but Ratchet had assured him that the warlord on his own shouldn’t be able to notice the unborn for another few weeks, if ever.

A sudden pain in his chest interrupted his musings and made him yelp rather undignified and rub the sore spot softly, but worried.
Was this normal? Ratchet had said something like this could happen from time to time and he shouldn’t dare come running to him every time, but how was he supposed to know when he should be worried and when it wasn’t necessary?

The throbbing pain subsided and although feeling drained the bearer of the Matrix relaxed again, guessing that this was the indication that everything was within normal parameters, but as he rose to his feet the pain returned as suddenly as the first time and forced him to sit down again.

This wasn’t the sparkling; it was more like the Calling, only without the need to be near his bondmate. It felt like something was tearing his spark into two, for a moment even so intense that he slid to the ground and clutched his chest plates, vents fighting to cool his from stress overheating systems. Then the pain faded to a more bearable level, although it didn’t vanish again.

Megatron had to be the origin of this, but instead of calming down and maybe even consider being gleeful about the other’s situation – for him the pain would completely fade, but Megatron was the one damaged and it seemed highly unfair that only he should suffer because of a mistake they both made, while the other could just continue with his life – he panicked even more. Megatron, his bondmate, was obviously heavily damaged, maybe even life threatening, and when the Decepticon died so would Optimus and with him the sparkling.


The Calling got worse again and the Autobot leader even imagined he could hear the voice of his nemesis echoing in the back of his CPU, tainted by a great deal of pain and ... was it fear? It had to be and that terrified him. Never before in their long life had he witnessed Megatron showing any sigh of fear. He had to do something and be it only to guaranty his own survival, if he couldn’t admit to himself that he couldn’t stand the thought of the other being in such a state.

.: Optimus… I need you… :.

The red and blue mech flinched and managed to rise to his feet once again. He had to struggle, but managed to ban every trace of the pain and fear he was receiving through the bond from his body language, thanking Primus for the battle mask, since he really couldn’t straighten his faceplates, too. He left his office and made his way to the entrance of the Ark down the hallway. In his head, the pleadings became more desperate, more insistent, and with every passing moment it got harder to remain composed, but fortunately it was already late and since they had adopted the local customs regarding day and night time most were already in recharge, so he only had to pass the guard at the entrance and Tracks just greeted, but didn’t try to stop him or questioned any further where he was heading. Insomnia was after all common among the commanding stuff and he had heard a nice long walk/drive did wonders. Optimus just agreed friendly and left as fast as he could without appearing to be in a hurry, transformed once out of visual and hearing range and rolled on in the night, always following the calling of the bond and hoping to reach his destination before it was too late.

The thought that it could be a trap didn’t even once come to him.

*~*

Many miles away in an abandoned factory near a large human city Megatron was fairly proud of himself for his cunning idea how to lure his bondmate into a trap and into his hands.

It actually had been fairly simple, especially with the help of his communication officer and his devices, but nonetheless brilliant to just use that cursed bond between them to his favour. All he had had to do was made him believe the pain he felt through the bond was real. Of course it held a not small risk to send false sensations to his mate. The risk resides in the fact that the stress generated by the pain could send Optimus into an emergency stasis lock, or, if the stimulation continue for too long, even kill him, but that certainly wasn’t what he wanted. The trick was to find a balance of fear and pain that wouldn’t endanger his bondmate, but still force him to take action for preventing his own deactivation. He would think that Megatron was in dire danger of off-lining and would come to his rescue – the imagination was more than just amusing – even if it was just to save his own life. He would follow the signal; he couldn’t do anything else, because it was the way he worked, and the warlord knew it quite well.

Yes, a very clever plan, and with the pleading Prime just had to hear adding to the illusion, it was almost flawless.

“How long before he arrived?” asked Megatron, looking at Soundwave, who answered in his usual monotone way: “ETA 10 minutes, Lord Megatron.”

“Good. Keep following his progress” replied the Decepticon leader with a dark chuckle. “Soon enough you will be in my grasp, my dear bondmate and so will be my heir.”

Behind him the navy blue mech remained silent, keeping his attention on the little device in his hands. He was, of course, the only one in the whole Decepticon army to know about Megatron’s rather unorthodox relationship with the Autobot leader, because he was the only one the warlord trusted not to betray him, contrary to a certain second in command and everyone knew it.

Megatron had a hard time trying to keep his treacherous air commander from sticking his olfactory sensors where they didn’t belong. The Seeker was beginning to get a little too curious about where he disappeared to from time to time and what the “secret project” he was working on with Soundwave was about. So far the Decepticon leader had managed to keep him as far away from the truth as possible, but his second was no fool, pretty clever actually if it weren’t for his egocentrically nature, and eventually he would be able to draw the right conclusions and what then would follow Megatron didn’t want to imagine, but it came to him nonetheless.

Starscream would accuse him of treachery and try to take over the Decepticons and for once he would be in the right. This little fact would guaranty him the support of a majority of the Decepticons, because no Decepticon, with the exception of Soundwave, would stand for a leader who not only had an affair with the Autobot leader, but was bonded to him.
No matter how much they feared and/or respected him, even a Megatron himself couldn’t fight against his own army all by himself.

He shook theses thought off with an annoyed shrug and return his attention to the present situation. Soon enough he would have his dear mate in his possession and Soundwave had guaranteed him he was perfectly able to help him build an adequate proto-form and aid with the sparking. In a very rare show of emotion the CO had also added, that he wouldn’t let the Constructicons near either, spark or proto-form. They would just try and make a weapon and an energy source out of it, not necessarily out of malice or disrespect towards life, but simply because it was part of their nature.

“Lord Megatron, the target arrives in three minutes” interrupted the monotone voice of Soundwave beside him. The silver mech wouldn’t have needed the reminder at this point anymore; he could already sense the closeness of his bondmate and how the distance between them became smaller with every passing moment.

“Excellent! Is everything prepared?”

“Affirmative.”

Megatron let out a dark laugh; the trap was about to close.

*~*

Optimus followed the signals coming from his bondmate toward the nearby city, trying to ignore the growing pain in his spark has he closed on him. The closer he came to his counterpart the more he had to fight against losing against the pain.

When the Autobot reached an abandoned factory the pain reached its peak. He transformed and closed in to the largest building, cautiously since he didn’t know what to expect, but he couldn’t imagine it was even possible to temper with a sparkbond either, so he never suspected a trap, but for a moment or two he wondered if it really had been such a good idea to go alone. When Megatron was as badly damaged as it felt like the Autobot leader would hardly be able to repair him. On the other hand had Ratchet made it very clear that he didn’t want to have to do with this any further than the health of Optimus and the sparkling went, so it wasn’t as if he had had any choice.

He rounded a corner of the building and eyed the large two-sided door on the old, rusty wall wearily. Optimus tried to listen to the wall, but he couldn’t hear anything nor concentrate enough to use any scanners due to the pain. Still it was almost too quiet for his likening.

Maybe he had confused things and Megatron was perfectly alright and he was the one damaged. Maybe he had hallucinations or something like that, the Autobot leader thought for a moment, but the new wave of searing pain in his spark wiped his processor clean of all doubts, but not only that. This time it was too much to bear and send him not only to his knees, but fully to the ground. Optimus curled together in a tight ball and clutched his chest plates tightly. His vision was clouded and many warnings flashing to life in his field of vision. The Prime gasped when something, or rather someone else coming out of the factory, perfectly fine and grinning down on him.

“Welcome, Prime. We were already expecting you, both of you” Megatron said, crouching down to the other and resting his right hand on top of Optimus’ chest.

For the smallest of moments he was relieved that his bonded was alright, but it was very fast with a disappointment that made him understood how Ratchet and Prowl felt. For all the bad he could say about Megatron, never would he have imagined the other would sink this low, and he made sure the Decepticon could feel it through their bond.
If Megatron felt it he surely didn’t let it show, but Prime was sure he noticed his fear for his own and the unborn’s life, if the wicked smile of his bonded was anything to go by.

Optimus wanted to ask how he had learned about the sparkling, but he couldn’t say if he managed to ask and if his bonded answered he couldn’t hear it, for the pain grew so intense that his systems shut down in emergency stasis lock.

The last thing he felt was a soft, almost lovingly caress of the part between his battle mask and the helm, before he fell into darkness.

He only hoped that the Autobots would soon notice his disappearance and search for him.

*~*

Back at the Ark Prowl, despite his repulsing behaviour towards his superior, was a little worried about Optimus behaviour these days.

Granted, since their rather disillusioning discussion in the med bay the other day he had hardly left his office and when only to go to his quarter and if asked the tactician would admit not being the best at deciphering emotions in general, but even he noticed how much his and the medic reaction to that entire situation hurt his commander.
He had let everything run through his battle computer about a hundred times, but it was always the same outcome: they, he had been highly unfair towards their leader and friend. No matter how hard this was for them, for Optimus it had to be worse manifold and when he was honest with himself he was actually less disappointed about what Prime had done – and nobody was perfect after all – but about what he hadn’t, namely tell Prowl about the bond. He had after all gone and told Prime about his bond with Jazz, too ... well, after they had kind of locked themselves in their quarters and not come out for three orns and although not forbidden a relationship between officers was a very high risk that had made his CPU crash numerous times. It was admittedly much more complicated for Optimus, but this was about principles.

Still, no matter how he turned it, they had abandoned their commander and friend. Primus below, when he imagined to be left alone like that in Prime’s situation, he would have curled together in a corner at the least, but Prime didn’t. He had gone on with his job with the same undeviating conviction he always had done and with the same fairness ... it made him sick in the tanks.

Ashamed of himself the monochrome mech transformed, greeted Tracks and was suddenly dragged behind a slightly smaller, but also black and white coloured mech.

.: You will talk with Prime, right now. :.

.: But ... :.

.: No buts, Prowler. I’ve let this go one for too long already. You will feel better when you do, he will feel better and I don’t have to sit between the chairs anymore. :.


Prowl didn’t knew what to say to this.
Jazz knew of course about Prime’s current situation – they were bonded for a very long time already what made it for him at least impossible to hide anything from his partner. He would never run his vocalize about it, but that he could stay so completely unaffected by it, except for the excitement about a sparkling soon running around, impressed him and he was right. The saboteur was always right when it concerned things like this.

Feeling that his bondmate had finally given up whatever had kept him from talking to Optimus earlier the special operations commander let go and flashed the other his mark trade grin.

“See you later?”

“Of course” Prowl replied, feeling much calmer now, and watched the other officer go back to their quarters, before he turned and went straight to Prime’s office, knowing the other worked just as much as he did and would very likely be still there. Actually were the chances for the large red and blue mech to be anywhere else so slim the tactician and second in command was surprised when he got no reaction after he knocked.

Prowl waited a moment, then knocked again.

“Optimus, sir, are you here?”

Still no answer. The black and white mech’s optics dimmed irritated.

Optimus always answered the door, no matter if he was busy, tired, or in not so rare as once cases even angered or depressed. On the other hand war he carrying a sparkling, which was according to Ratchet very exhausting.

Contemplating between first trying it at Optimus’ private quarters and missing him here and just going in and making sure Prime didn’t just drop into recharge on his desk – a bad habit among officers.

On the long run he decided the latter was more efficient, so Prowl tipped in the code in and stepped in cautiously, but no one was there, so he closed the door again and went to his quarters, checking the command centre and the rec. room without success.

Now the second in command got very worried and activated his com. link, while hurrying back to the command centre.

:: Prowl to Ratchet.
Does Prime happen to be with you? ::

:: Haven’t seen him since this morning. Something happened? ::


Contemplating the possible consequences of telling the medic that Optimus obviously had managed to vanish into thin air the tactician decided against it. No need to start a panic before he could be sure their leader didn’t just wanted to be not found for a while. It was hard to imagine seeing the others size, but he was the Prime after all.

:: No, I’m just need to talk to him.
Prowl out. ::


Cutting the line Prowl entered the command centre again, startling Ironhide and Blaster

“Already back?”

“Wasn’t there” the black and white mech replied shortcut and went to the console, accessing the security net Red Alert was working so hard on keeping up-to-date, but no camera could catch even a glimpse of red and blue, only Jazz heading for the entrance. He had “heard” most of what was going on through their bond and apparently had an idea.

“Ye checked his office? That’s where ah saw him last, doing paperwork.”

“Of course. That’s where I looked first.”

“Rec. room?”

Prowl was close to snapping at the red van, but seeing the other’s concern he swallowed the sharp remark and left it with a short glare.

.: Tracks says Prime left about three hours ago and Bumblebee saw him heading north. He’s on his way to report to you. :.

Sending a wave of gratitude through the bond the second gave the information to Ironhide and had to block the path so the over protective self-proclaimed bodyguard of the Prime wouldn’t do anything stupid.

“It’s not like him to just go out without telling anybody. We have to search for him! Bet the ‘Cons are responsible for this.”

“Let’s first hear what Bumblebee has to say. It’s no use just storming off headless.”

The red mech growled, but complied. With Prime temporarily AWOL Prowl had now the highest rank, but he didn’t have to like it.


With Bumblebee came Ratchet and Jazz, listening to the Mini-bot’s story. Apparently Prime had passed him on his patrol route, but had been too distracted to notice it was him and he hadn’t answered his hails.

“Honestly, I start to worry. He’s been acting strange for a while now, but over the last weeks it had gotten worse. I mean, he didn’t answer his com link and drove at top speed and I’m not talking about the allowed top speed” the yellow bug finished and Ironhide as well as Blaster nodded.

Prowl and Ratchet traded looks.

This wasn’t good. They had never believed to be able to hide Optimus’ condition for long, but a bit more time would have been nice.

“Guys, I think it’s time to spill the secret.”

The dirty glares Jazz got in return were countered with a smug grin, but otherwise ignored, as he did with the rather livid images his bondmate send him about what he planned to do to him for getting especially him into this situation.

“What secret?”

The medic and the tactician shared another glare.

“Well, as the humans say: the cat is out of the bag, thanks to that loudmouthed, little . . .”

“Bondmate of mine” Prowl reminded neutral and added that, since the odds for Prime being in trouble were against them, it couldn’t be helped anymore.

“However; I refuse tell this more often than necessary.
I want all officers in the conference room, ten minutes ago!”

The SIC left, not even waiting for any verbal or nonverbal affirmation, and tried to prepare himself for what would follow, because three thing was sure: Optimus, especially in this current condition, wouldn’t leave the base for this long without telling anyone, which lead to the assumption, that Megatron had to be responsible for it in whatever way, what finally lead to the necessarily to brief the rest of the Autobots about Prime’s condition and the Decepticon lord’s contribution.

Still he wondered how the Pit Megatron had learned about the sparkling.

“Prowl?”

The mech in question winced surprised. He couldn’t remember reaching the conference room or the arrival of the other officers, but all were already present: Ironhide, the weapon specialist; Smokescreen, diversion; Ratchet, medic; Wheeljack, engineering; Perceptor, research; Blaster, communications; Cliffjumper, maintenance; Red Alert, security; Jazz, special operations; Bumblebee and Mirage were also present, since the special ops had their own rules and the twins simply because they were the twins and the only way to keep them out of here would have been to lock them in the brig.

The worst part was that they all starred at him expectantly and for once silent. Primus, he had never been this nervous before, not even when he had his first job interview with Sentinel Prime way back before there had been even rumours about a war.

Clearing his vents Prowl tried to take the whole matter from an objective when he informed the commanding stuff of the Ark about their supreme commander’s spark bond to the leader of their mortal enemies, what resulted in the unborn sparkling currently growing behind the Prime’s chest plates.

When he finished it wasn’t just silent, it was gravely silent. He could have just as well been standing within a mausoleum.

“Optimus as well as the sparkling have been perfectly healthy this morning, for all that is worth it” Ratchet grumped when no one bothered to ask, but in the otherwise soundless room he could have just as well shouted.

Red Alert twitched, then just fell from his chair, processors completely locked up, but otherwise alright and after sending him temporarily offline so his programs could try to get a hold on his systems again the medic considered it best to sit him against the wall in order to keep an optic on him without having to leave the room. From the looks of it Prowl would need all the support he could get.

Suddenly the room buzzed with disbelieving, even downright angered whispering, but the angriest of them seemed to be Ironhide, mumbling darkly to himself.

“Well, that’s … really surprising, to say the least” Bumblebee finally said out loud, pulling everyone out of their private talks. “But that’s good news, isn’t it? I mean, we all know Megatron is evil, but he wouldn’t harm his own bondmate, especially when he is with a sparkling, so that buys us some time, right?”

“Not that much, I fear. The sparkling is due in about three to four weeks, maybe earlier. If the Decepticons really have Prime we must retrieve him fast.”

“And why would ah do that?” asked the weapon specialist in a dark, almost enraged tone. “He got himself stuck in that mess; he can help himself out for all I care!”

All optics turned on the red mech, most too shocked to do more than glare.

“You can’t mean that, Ironhide” Wheeljack gasped. “That’s bordering treason; he’s still our Prime after all.”

“Yeah, how can you say something like that?” Sideswipe put his two cents in, too, optics dimmed in suppressed violence that filtered through the bond to his twin, approving murmurs rising among the officers. “So he went and fraternised with the enemy; who cares?”

“Siders is right. He’s still the same, still the Optimus Prime who would go to the Pits and back for every single one of us. If we have to argue about what he did I say we at least own him the chance to explain himself.”

“And most importantly is he our friend” Jazz finished what the twins had started. “I understand that you are angry and disappointed; I was, but that doesn’t change that I will give it my all to get Optimus and the sparkling back safely.”

“But he is a traitor” Cliffjumper argued, siding with his fellow red mech, but Prowl wouldn’t have any of it.

“If he would have really wanted to betray us we all would already be deactivated, but I won’t force you, so everyone not interested in Optimus’ and the sparkling’s wellbeing is allowed to leave now ... ”

“ ... And shouldn’t dare coming to my med bay again anytime soon” Ratchet interrupted growling. The tactician wasn’t really happy about it, but didn’t say anything against the threat either.

Some looked as if they had to fight with themselves for a moment, but in the end no one moved, not even Ironhide.

“But ah don’t have to like it” he grumped and Prowl’s frame lost some of the tension that had held him captured for the last minutes.

“No, you don’t.
Does anyone else have to say something? No? Then we should stop wasting time.
I expect you to brief your divisions about the situation and form search parties as fast as possible. Dismissed.”

Mumbling the officers left, some still throwing dark glazes, most concerned and other completely confused about what they should make of this, until only Ratchet and Jazz remained behind with the acting commander and the still offline Red Alert.

“I take it you got over your problems with Prime?” the medic asked, mainly just to say something. The meeting had gone much better than expected and with the twins on their side the other hot-headed members of the Autobots would think about it twice before trying anything stupid – who would have thought their worst troublemakers would ever keep a situation from escalating? – still it could have had went better. In the worst case Optimus, the one who had united them at the beginning of the war, would also be the one to separate them again and then their cause would be lost.

“I’ve been angry with him for the better part of the last two month without contemplating how much more difficult this must be for him. Right now I don’t care anymore if and to whom he is bonded, as long as we get him back here safely so I can at least apologies.”

-TBC-

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