Note: This fanfic, a prequal to *Silent Scream* takes place about nine years before. Transformers and all respective characters including Optimus Prime, Rodimus Prime and Fortress Maximus are (C) Hasbro, 1984
G R A V E Y A R D
Sometimes he would catch himself inventing ‘reasons’ for leaving the city on urgent business. Those who questioned him were given a stern scolding, effectively told to just mind their own business. Even Rodimus would get the ‘attitude’ if he persisted in asking questions. After all, wasn’t he permitted to take off alone from time to time?
Of course, Optimus supposed Rusti could tag along if she so insisted. After all, the girl was kept inside much of the time and needed to experience something more than the wearisome day-to-day city routine.
The most amusing act Optimus caught himself committing was how he’d time the ‘excursions’. Always his little escapades took place on a Sunday and then especially if it were a particularly lovely day. Of course, it was mostly for Rusti. It was part of the dreary task of babysitting, tending the welfare of his charge. (You know how it is, you have a child that should see that movie, so you take her to see it).
There was one Sunday afternoon when the weather was particularly lazy and clouds flitted by at a snail’s pace. The air was calm and the stiffest breeze failed to upset the temperature. Prime had tons of work waiting his attention and all he could think about was how he’d like to go outside.
He wasn’t a leader, but a bureaucratic prisoner.
Perhaps it was time to take matters into his own hand units and go on a privileged drive outside the city. To his right, he heard a piece of paper rustle and hit the office floor. It was followed by a little girl’s sigh. He turned slightly so that she would not notice he was watching her. She sat, still and silent just continently coloring. A Raggedy Ann sat beside her against the wall and a very large box of crayons sat on the other side. Her curly blood red hair draped over her face and slid about her dress as she exchanged crayons. Prime rounded his desk and leaned against it, crossing his arms, still staring at the mysterious nine year-old child that insisted on accompanying him whenever he did paperwork.
"Rusti?" He asked softly. His baritone voice filled the room like a flood filling a dry well. She looked up, locking onto his optics with sea-grey eyes. Storms, the Autobot leader thought. "It’s a nice day."
He expected a reply but received nothing but her silence. Perhaps he wasn’t being clear enough. "Wouldn’t you rather go out and play? Maybe the Dinobots–"
"You don’t wanna be left alone." She suddenly answered.
He drew back, surprised at the accusatory remark. "We-you wouldn’t be alone. You could play with the Dinobots."
She stared at him for a long moment then resumed her work. "Grimlock doesn’t do picnics, Optimus." Her tiny voice tinkled across the room like bells.
"I didn’t say ‘picnic’, young lady." He snarled. "I’m trying to suggest you go outside."
She purposefully ignored him, exchanging crayons. She didn’t even look at him.
"Rusti." He called again. "Did you hear me?"
She lifted only her eyes at him. "Optimus." Her whisper hit him accusingly, her expression clearly stated what her words did not.
And Prime struggled not to squirm in front of her. She gave him *that* look; the one that said: I know what you’re trying to do, you over-sized pencil sharpener. He signed resignedly and knelt before her. "Uh, I suppose we both could use a little sunlight. How about a drive?"
She stared at him intently, as though testing the seriousness of his suggestion. "No flat tires this time?" She teased.
"You hush." He admonished playfully, remembering one such drive where he ended up with a flat.
She giggled lightly.
He walked out of Fort Max, Kup tagging at his heels, asking all the not-so-important questions. Rusti felt a bit cheated that Prime was going to take her to Memory hill. She really had never been there, but didn’t like the idea of going to a graveyard. Of all places to go on such a nice day, too! Of course, they weren’t going be gone for very long. Optimus had too much work to do. None the less, it was nice that he decided to step out and away even for a couple of hours. That would shut Rodimus up for about two days. Optimus cleared the Western city entrance before transforming. Rusti took in the cool mountain air, the fresh sweet scent of the surrounding pines and their shadows as Optimus rounded two other mountains. Neither said much of anything for about five miles. There really was no need to speak, anyway. The girl found that sometimes talking ruined the moment. It was so odd how someone could say so much, but say nothing at all. She also loved how she could be with someone and not need to talk; just being there was pleasant enough.
She closed her eyes as Prime rounded another hill. Shadows of trees and mountains brushed over them and the temperature dropped just slightly as the road wound upward. Optimus took a left on a private roadway paved with weather-enforced metal sheeting. From there he steadied down a good mile into a well-kept meadow, fenced off by single- and double-eyed sensors.
He paused before a Private Property sign and Rusti took that as a silent hint to evacuate the cab. She slid down and the moment she touched ground, Optimus shifted beside her. The sound of his body movement sent chills down her back and she smiled. The Autobots were so neat! Imagine having the ability to change and shift your body; you’d have so much more control!
Optimus proceeded ahead of her, stepping off the roadway and onto the soft giving surface of dirt and grass. She trailed softly after him, wondering what was on his mind. Sometimes she really had to wonder whether or not he was aware of her at all. He seemed so lonely sometimes, like someone who had lost all his friends and everyone around him was a stranger. Rusti remembered losing a puppy once. She felt so sad and really couldn’t talk to anybody; she didn’t think they’d understand.
She sighed inwardly, wondering why Optimus would drag her out here to such a sad place. All over the meadow stood metal obelisks or monoliths or statues dedicating that one tiny piece of land to the person whose name it bore.
And a rather large marker for Ironhide.
None of the names meant anything to her, of course. But all of them had something to say about the dead: "Loyal with a heart of gold" read Prowl’s monolith. "Determined right to the end." read Huffer’s marker. There were many, many others. There was a marker for one Autobot with two names: Bumblee/Goldbug "a little fellow with the biggest heart in the universe". There were a LOT of markers for femmes. Chromea, Firestar, Silverpoint, Audicia. And there were more on the other side of the huge meadow.
Why would Optimus use such a nice day to come to such a dreary place was beyond her. She shrugged. It was his way, she supposed. "Optimus?" She almost whispered it. She waited until he turned to her, ever silent, naturally. "Does everybody who dies gets one of these? And will they be here?"
"No." He answered sullenly. "Not everyone. Most of the EDC officers won’t be buried here."
"Oh." She paused a beat. "Grandpa and Grandma are here somewhere, hu?"
She turned and more names came at her.
So very, very sad. She wondered how anyone could handle losing so many friends and she knew Optimus knew each and every one of these people. She stood silently beside as he stared at Ironhide’s marker. A plaque rested before the statue of some alien animal. On the plaque was a the laser print of a photograph of Ironhide, Kup and Ultra Magnus and the epitaph beneath it. "A skin of cold rock-titanium, and the most warm-hearted and forgiving of souls."
Just beyond this marker stood a tall monolith that tapered narrow at the top and broadened to the bottom. No names were etched into the metal. No pictures. Nothing to adorn its solid steel surface. Except: REMEMBERED.
Optimus rose from his kneeling position and turned away, his optics searched the peaceful sky. Rusti felt like an ant beside his stature. He was so huge, towering above her like a god. She smiled, feeling very protected. Her mother often feared Rusti would be stepped on and crushed by the sheer size of these alien robotic creatures. But there has never been such an incident the entire time the Transformers have inhabited the Earth. It was odd that a creature so huge could be so mindful of something so small. And the respect Autobots had for humanity was almost legendary. Humans were considered equals.
"Whose marker is that, Optimus?" Rusti asked finally, pointing to the near-blank monolith.
Prime pretended not to hear her. But she had learned a long time ago that there was no such thing as ‘deaf’ as far as Optimus was concerned. Not when he can pick out what three people are saying all at once. Not when he seemed to be able to read people’s minds. Not when he can hear her giggle outside his office! There was nothing she could hide from he and Rodimus. She frowned. His silence meant he didn’t want to talk about it.
"Will you get a marker here if you die, Optimus?" She asked to get his attention.
He glanced down at her over his shoulder, watching with obvious amusement that she padded after him, almost having to run to keep up with his long strides. "Yes, Rusti." He answered patiently.
"Can I get one when I die?" She asked before he turned away.
His whole expression turned upside down and he whimpered and turned away.