Warning: There is not one ounce of violence or foul language in this story. So be cautious, you might fall asleep ;)
Author's note: This story, while a part of the DSR epic, is history-a part of Optimus Prime's history. While the story is brief, it helps-in a small way-to fill a huge gap in Transfiction writing.
DSR chapters 6 through 10 are currently in production and I appreciate everyone's patience.
First JobTime stood frozen in the fancy office lobby of LightTouch Industries. The only point at which it moved was when the phone rang and the scaly-skinned secretary answered with a leveled, experienced voice.
Prime sat in the dull and quiet for uncounted hours. LightTouch was the only company willing to hire extra-terrestrials. The planet Abthin was a stop-over for many trade routes from the Leon system to Centaurus to Rashe-Amron. And while the continents were cluttered with all kinds of alien races, the natives were far from accepting everyone into their cultures and societies.
At least there was a chance at a job, no matter how slim. The pirates, who rescued Optimus and four other sparks from cruel slave traders, were happy to help as they could. They gave Prime a small ration of energon and a long cloak against elemental wear and a few potential predators. Prime quickly discovered robots were bought and sold as merchandise, whether or not they were sentient. The slave traders were heartless in their treatment of the so-called 'artificial life forms'. Prime watched helpless as they dismantled one robot after another, tossing the parts into separate piles to sell to other dealers. Some of those robots were very much aware, very much sentient and their pleas and cries went ignored by the pirates who constantly calculated how much money Prime could bring to them because Cybertronian robots had a bit more value than some other races of robots-except for the Automotrons. Optimus Prime had no idea who or what the Automotrons were. And after three days of torture, he did not care. The pirates removed bits of his armor, exposing sensitive areas to the ship's cold temperatures. When that was not enough entertainment for them, the tall, slender aliens began to tamper and explore the exposed components.
At least he was able to repair himself, bu the salvers left burnt gashes in his armor and a few revisiting nightmares. The outside universe was a very hostile place.
The pirates could not allow the robots to stay with them and concluded the closest world safe enough for Prime was in the Tauan System, farther from Cybertron than what most star charts dictated. The pirates, a band of young aliens, dropped him on Abthin where his chances were far better than in chains.
That was a painful memory.
A postal courier entered their lobby. He laid a parcel and a handful of mis-matched letters at the desk. He and the secretary exchanged a few 'hello's' and he retreated. The phone rang and the lobby resumed the dead stillness. Sitting in the familiar, sterile office hour by wearisome hour only forced the young Autobot to relive decisions and ideas, events and recount where his life had gone wrong. He knew and understood nothing of politics. He believed the Decepticons were not wholly at fault regarding the explosive riot in Iaacon and Precenter City. It was a serious misunderstanding on both sides, but the Council-every last one of them-refused to admit they were wrong. They accused him of siding with the Decepticons. Fortunately for Prime, they could not so viciously discredit him in public; not with his status as the new Autobot leader.
Prime considered the political situation again and came to the same conclusion; the council was wrong. The Decepticons had a right to their territories and a right to do with them as they saw fit. But the Autobot council insisted the Decepticon culture of gladiatorial combat, and 'rough-house' competition was inappropriate. The council wanted to 're-educate' the Decepticons into a more 'peaceful', and 'safe' existence and annex Decepticon territories and convert them to landing reserves for future alien traders. The Decepticons resented the council's self-aggrandized appropriation and more than once demonstrated their disapproval by means of lewd graffiti and/or televised outcry and a few public demonstrations.
Suggestions for such changes became threats. Threats turned into a public rally for support of such political changes in the Decepticon lifestyle. Public rallies became parades and then the Decepticons, those groups who chose to remain in the Autobot cities and participated in defending the cities against the rise of Megatron's great empire, evacuated.
There were, however, about three Decepticons who still chose to remain in Iaacon. The Council, losing public support for their rash ideas, actually tried to create an incident to prove they were in the right. They ordered Decepticon Lieutenant Cutter's personal quarters broken into and all his possessions illegally confiscated. Cutter, who was always a bit outspoken in public, went ballistic and sliced off Commander Tapper's head. The council saw it as an act of war and arrested Cutter and the other two of his friends as accessories to murder.
Prime openly rebuked the Council and demanded they correct the mistake. The Sentinels, loyal to the council, not only forcefully dragged Prime off Cybertron, but guaranteed he'd not return by selling him to an uncivilized band of slave traders.
Now all that was behind him and Optimus found himself alone, struggling to find a way to survive.
Four aliens entered the lobby and sat at chairs and the one couch nearby the brochure table and winding staircase. Prime's optics traced the great winding staircase as it curved its way to another level where meetings (and hopefully employment) took place.
The other applicants more or less ignored him. They chattered quietly as each scanned over their employment application pads. A two-headed Parshmaon snorted and giggled now and again while his three companions rambled on in their grunting language. Another patron sitting silently caught Prime's optics. She was a tall, well-fit and groom individual with long legs and a bright face. Well-defined musculature ade her a likely candidate for body-guard or other security position. Her lipless mouth told Prime she was from the Bylonth system-one of few places willing to trade with Cybertron.
"Next?" The receptionist called. Optimus took to his feet, grateful for the change from the dull and quiet. He approached with trepidation. "I'm here to apply for a job." How clumsy that sounded! He needed to sound confident, determined. But his own voice betrayed him.
The receptionist scrutinized him with blue-white eyes. "You're here for the position of body guard?"
"You can fill out an application, but I'll have to let you know, Mr. Andrez screens all his own applicants."
Prime had no idea what that meant. "Alright." He accepted a digipad and pointer from the receptionist and returned to his seat.
Name. Address. Species. Height. Weight . . . Address would be tricky; he had none. No education, no references, no 'nearest of kin'. Well, at least it was worth a try. He filled the application to the best of his limited experience and returned it with little hope. "How long do I wait?" Again he realized how clumsy and tactless that sounded.
"Well-" she eyed his application and doubt creased the corners of her mouth.. "Might be a while, Mr. Optimus. We usually like an application completely filled. You need to put down what schools you attended and former job experience."
" . . . I never went to school. I've never had a job before." Of course, Optimus thought of the docks; the night classes he took. But he could not put it down because it was under another name, another life and an indeterminate amount of time ago
She curtly smiled. "Well then, I'll see to it he gets this and you'll have to come back later and ask if he's even looked at it."
"Thank you." It now occurred to Prime it might be a long time before Andrez would even give the unfinished application a first look. Optimus was running low on energon and without a job soon, his situation could turn for the worse. He sat in the lobby until the business closed for the day. He returned to the short alleyway in the same street he slept in the night before and waited.
He spent another long day in the lobby from the moment LightTouch's office opened to the moment it closed. It was difficult just sitting there but it was all Optimus could think to do. If Mr. Andrez was the only businessperson willing to hire aliens, it didn't seem like Optimus had much luck getting in. He watched as one person after another submitted applications and they were asked to see Mr. Andrez. Some of them came out with big smiles on their faces and hope in their eyes.
The next day came with the very same result, and the day after that and then the week became two. Two weeks became a long, hard month with diminishing rations and bad weather.
This was the meaning of depravation, long silent days, empty nights with little or no energon. Prime missed his friends, his home world and everything familiar. Even with all its problems, frustrations and heartaches, Cybertron was still home.
A month passed, or as close to it as Prime could calculate on this moonless world. No word, no promise. On the third day of each week he confronted the scaley secretary with much the same answer.
Perhaps it was time to move on in hopes other opportunities arrived. But Prime's energy level was so drastically low he could fall to stasis before reaching the next town.
Still, he gambled, nothing attempted, nothing discovered.
The clock above the wall water fountain chimed a late afternoon, early evening. The office would be closed soon and another day's hope found unfulfilled.
It was time to leave the city. Now.
Prime stood and gathered his cloak, but his fingers slipped and he dropped the garment just as a tall, sharply-dressed humanoid' came down the winding staircase. Three huge insect-like guys followed him a few paces away and waited until he was ahead of them in the lobby. Their wide bodies and multiple legs did not take either the staircase or the narrow lobby walkways very well.
The humanoid, who had four arms and wings, signed a piece of paper at the receptionist's desk before turning around. He spotted Optimus, as the Autobot picked up his cloak.
"Renthel, who is that?" He glanced at the female.
"That's an applicant, sir. He did not complete his application and you said that you wanted people who could fill out an application."
"He *looks* it."
Optimus now realized they were talking about him. The gentleman approached and slid his hands into pant pockets. "I'm sorry, I didn't get your name."
"Optimus Prime." he stood, some measure of hope rose inside, but Optimus was too conservative at this point to approach any conclusions.
"I see. How long have you been here, Optimus Prime?"
"Exactly forty-six sunrises."
The male's large black eyes blinked. "That's a long time to be here, my friend. You know, I was just going to dinner, but how about you and I go to my office instead?"
Optimus remained carefully impassive.
"An unreadable face! I like that! You know what? Instead, how about we just talk right here?" He snapped his fingers and one of the insect-guards pushed a chair behind him. He sat down and motioned for Prime to do the same. Then he turned and eyed the same insect-guard. "Gragonath nu lallinath goda gonag'mon."
The next minute the guard brought him the digipad containing Optimus' mostly-empty application. He took a moment to scan over it and frowned. "There's not a great deal here to go by, Optimus Prime. Well . . . being a Transformer alone is intriguing. Are you an Autobot, a Decepticon, a Z'taxan, Eedreeite orAg'Al'Arnoth?"
"Autobot." Optimus had no idea there were so many other robotic races outside his own kind.
The gentleman nodded, but frowned. "Well, there is a saying that one should never trust a Cybertronian, Mr. Optimus. It's difficult to distinguish an Autobot from a Decepticon."
"I understand. But I AM Autobot." Optimus held the man's attention and realized in how bad a condition he must look; his form was covered in dents and scratches, he was dusty and even the cloak covering a better portion of his frame was wearing thin. The slavers did more than a good share of marring the surface of his paint job through torture and deprivation. Optimus knew he looked desperate.
The well dressed alien before him made a funny noise with his mouth and finally nodded. "Well, see, here's the thing, Optimus, I work for one of the most prestigious companies in the galaxy. LightTouch Industries is a no-nonsense business and we choose our own. We don't go through some agency looking for good workers. We play for keeps. You can fight, right?"
"Yes . . ." Optimus' answer came a bit slow. "One learns how to kill to survive on Cybertron."
"No doubt. But it takes no brains to bash someone's head in. I mean fight as in to defend, only. You can't wear any weapons at work."
Optimus knew he already lost the job. One bad turn after another was mounting against him like a stockpile of bombs. "I was training to be a doctor. And one event led to another-"
Mr. Andrez laughed. He took to his feet, made three paces away then swung back around. "The thing of it is, I like you. I don't know why. I know how to read people and that's why I insist on picking my own workers." He thought for a moment then: "tell you what, you agree to undergo defensive fighting for thirty sunsets. The company will foot everything you need: place to stay, something to eat, whatever else you need to get yourself cleaned up. Come back to me after that and I'll give you your first assignment. Miss a class or be late to it more than once and you'll have to find work elsewhere. Deal?
Optimus stood, proudly for the first time since his exile from home: "I won't let you down."
The man pointed the digipad at him. "I know you won't."