AUTHOR'S NOTE: Rated 'R' for emotional, physical violence and strong language. *Testament* is written for the grown-up Transformers fan with the intent of a more realistic setting and therefore, a bit more violent. Parents are encouraged to read *Testament* for themselves before reading it to their children. All comments and confusion can be aimed at T.L. Arens: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prime looked up from his desk. The last three days threatened to smother him with their very passage of time. Time! It was running away from him before he could catch it. He pained over the loss at the hearing and he tried to bury it under all the processwork he could get his hands on. He feared for Rusti and wondered what mental punishment Daniel dealt her for running away. Optimus' attention drifted from the present digipad, considering the events and their possible consequences. It sickened him that monsters came in all shapes and sizes. Daniel was very cleaver, never touching his children physically. But torture, as Optimus knew firsthand, comes in all forms.
He let the thought go so it would not stray elsewhere and concentrated on numbers and reports, on logs and maps and research and development and . . . he looked up and found Rodimus standing in the door way, leaning against the post.
"You're so much like me." He gave Prime a slight smile. "Always turning to meaningless stuff to run away from pain." Rodimus approached the desk, "It means nothing, you know. Reports and ideas and logs and where currency comes and where it goes and what is being built and what we're trading for other material or energy." He took up a digipad, glanced at it and tossed it over his shoulder. "It's stupid. It's all meaningless."
He reached for another pad when Optimus' hand slammed on it, meaning Roddi was not allowed to take it. The two Primes stared at one another; an intense light sparked Optimus' optics. "Yes." He snarled. "But it keeps us going."
Rodimus paused and lifted his hand away. "Sorry.' He whispered. He had forgotten how often Prime would habitually bury himself in paperwork when things would go wrong. He'd hide behind formalities and business until he'd come up with a new idea. It was his way of dealing with all the pain and frustration. He'd visit the repair bay and talk to his wounded after a lost battle and offer some sense of encouragement or take their blame and their grief.
Rodimus felt badly enough, but Optimus took the defeat personally.
The Second swept the digipad from the floor and set it carefully on the desk. Prime had returned to another pad, his head bowed in concentration. But he just sat there, unable to think. Rodimus half sat on the desktop, arms crossed. He didn't know what to say to encourage Optimus. Prime wouldn't take the empty little words the other Autobots swallowed so well. Rodimus knew that whatever he said would have to have some kind of meaning to it. His mind shifted through hours and hours of court time. He tried to piece things together, to find some kind of glitch or loop hole they could possibly use to start things rolling again. But nothing, absolutely nothing came to mind.
Finally Optimus stirred and sighed.
Rodimus knew it was a sigh of despair. Rusti meant more to the Senior Prime than he was willing to let on. He would miss the little munchkin, possibly more than Rodimus (but not by much!) "I'm sorry, Optimus." Rodimus whispered.
Prime looked up and set a completed report on the desk. He folded his arms on the desk. "You know, Roddi," his voice softened, his frame a little more relaxed. "Sometimes if you give a person enough rope, they'll hang themselves. We'll get Rusti back. It's just a matter of time."
"An appeal trial?"
Prime took up another pad. "I'm not finished with this problem; just . . . pissed."
Rodimus flinched with the word. It was rare that Optimus cussed. He smiled wryly and tapped the desktop once. "Good night, Prime."
"Mmm. Good night, Rodimus."
So what's the big deal? I'm still me, you're still you . . . Matrix shmatrix . . .
Matrix shmatrix . . .
I'm sick and tired of being responsible for the universe and its suburbs.
Rodimus rolled face down on his recharger unit and moaned out loud. "I can't believe I would say things so stupidly." He sighed, unable to rest. How could anyone be so ignorant and selfish at the same time? However, he digressed, he wasn't the only one who sinned in such a blasphemous way. Optimus wasn't perfect, either. Optimus merely knew how to bury it all. Roddi knew he didn't need to worry about things he recalled doing in the past. Everybody makes their mistakes, their moments of arrogance. Their days of carelessness.
The Decepticons would never know the difference, anyway.
Someone beeped him for attention.
Roddi tried to ignore it.
He was hailed again and Roddi groaned and stared at his door. His internal chronometer told him he had been asleep for only four hours. "Rodimus." He growled.
"Sir? This is Stickler. Uh, we have another problem with inventory. We . . . Optimus said not to bother you, but it's really important . . ."
Rodimus thought his answer over carefully and decided to be a smart ass about it. "Did you guys know we have a guy who specializes in picking up things Op and I can't take on?"
"Yeah. Some new guy. Kinda tall. Has a tendency to loose his temper. What's his name, um . . . Mags . . . Ultra Magnus? Yeah, that's the guy's name. A real gem, if you ask me."
Silence and Rodimus knew he hit the target. The idiot on the other end of the communication line was obviously embarrassed.
"Well," came his annoying snooty voice, "it's just that we really feel you or Op should come take a look-"
"OH!" Rodimus sat up, throwing his hands in the air. "So you asked Op and he sent you to Magnus also, did he?"
"ALRIGHT!!" Rodimus snarled. "I'M COMING!" He stomped out his quarters, vowing to turn this guy over to Magnus for a lesson in courtesy and thoughtfulness for leaders who already carry more than their own load 24-7.
In the bitter cold of the wee morning hours, Roddi made his way to the top level of Fort Max. The space docks stood silent and empty. It was rare that anyone would come flying in this time of night, although the city was capable of accommodating any visitor anytime, day or night. Rodimus growled to himself, not saying so much as making faces. He and Optimus switched days and times for rest. And when Optimus simply could not sleep, Roddi would nap at least. Besides, he was still a bit sore from the acid bath he took at the school incident. His new skin took a great deal of energy to graft internally.
The warehouse on the north-eastern side of the docks was lit, but the only one not presently overcrowded with late-night workers. He approached the warehouse and greeted Stickler with a growl.
"Well, I knew it wasn't a good idea to get you out of rest and all, Rodimus. Optimus did say-"
"WHAT did you drag me out here for, Stickler?" Roddi snarled.
Stickler's color greyed slightly and he opened the lock-up. Every item and box therein had been ransacked.
"We, we managed to catch the theft in progress sir. But the thief got clean away."
Roddi scrutinized Stickler for a moment. He struggled to recall what was so important about the lock-up. Events over the last month had distracted him to the point of memory fragmentation. What . . . he tried to access that moment he was here last and it just didn't 'click'. "Remind me now, what was in here?"
"Uh," Stickler glanced at Kup who just came in to join them. "Uhh . . . the crate, sir."
"WHAT CRATE?" Rodimus' patience was thinning.
"He means the one with the weapons in it, dontcha, Stickler?" Kup's voice sounded a lot less threatening than Roddi's at the moment. Stickler stared at Kup as one would seeking salvation from another; and in Stickler's case, it was his own caboose from Roddi's temper.
"Uh, sir." He turned the digipad in his hands a three-sixty. "Uh, yes."
"And it was the one that contained the Screamers, wasn't it?" Kup clarified.
"Uhh . . . sir."
"And those were the rifles you were ordered to send to Ultra Magnus, wasn't it, Stickler?"
Rodimus had to draw a deep breath to keep from blowing up. He glared daggers at Stickler, however, swearing to himself he was going to make someone's life miserable. "All of them, Stickler? Are all the weapons gone?"
"No, sir. Most of the grenades are here. All of the Semi-solars are gone, though and we're missing one of the Screamers."
Rodimus tore his optics off the incompetent Autobot and stared at Kup. "Fine. I'll notify Prime and we'll set out a another god-damned search through the city." Rodimus stomped out, knowing he had better not say one more word. Kup lingered a moment longer, giving Stickler a look of warning.
"I think Ultra Magnus will want to discuss this with you tomorrow, Stickler. He might have a new job for you."
Kup abandoned Stickler to deal with the mess and his own conscious and sought Rodimus Prime. The once-young robot he knew had changed a great deal over the years. Trauma and events had turned him into something that Kup could still not grow accustomed. Rodimus had his quirks, but not quite the immature little ingot the old Autobot once knew. And somehow, Kup missed that youthfulness.
"I know what you're going to say, Kup." Rodimus said outloud as the oldster caught up. "Don't worry. Stickler is the least of my worries."
"What do you intend to do?"
Rodimus stared at the cold half-moon and wondered why the moon was supposed to remind him of something. "Well . . ." Rodimus drew slowly. "First off, what time is it on Lunarphyte? And can we place a subspace call there?"
Kup shrugged. "Only Blaster knows that one."
Roddi gave him a wry smile. "Op's still up, I'll bet. Come on, let's go make a prank call."
Well, it wasn't the very exact person Roddi really wanted to talk to, but the furry little fellow on the view screen was good enough. He had long pointed ears, a tail that slipped in and out of view and a hair piece that trailed down between a pair of huge solid black triangular eyes. He looked sorta like a cat, but not exactly like a cat. He had a mischievous grin that Rodimus appreciated very much.
"Mmm, I suppose I could help you out, there, Mr. Prime." The 'guy' answered. "Whaddya wanna know?"
"Antares Screamers. How can we track one down?"
The Wancheeah swept his feet off the desktop and set his elbows on the table, staring hard into the video screen. "Sounds like you have a problem."
"We do indeed." Rodimus answered simplistically. "Someone's taken it and I'm hoping you could tell us how to get it back."
The Wancheeah batted his huge black eyes. "Pray?" He sighed. "Well, we don't manufacture the weapons here on Lunarphyte, although Smat Enterprises, who does make the weapon, is stationed here on our humble little world. There is no way to track the device-unless you hear a really terrible sound and find your front lawn has been erased from existence. Sorry. I know that's not much help."
Kup scrutinized the little twerp for a moment. "Isn't there a way we can combat this weapon or protect ourselves from it?"
"Protection, did you say?" The furry creature inquired. "Oh, let's see. Can you protect yourself from time? How about the elements? Can you avoid reality? No? Hmm. A serious problem indeed. Tell you guys what, we can send you a couple of experts in the next week or two."
"No." Roddi moaned. "We need someone here within the next hour. We're dealing with fanatics of some war cult."
"Oh, that's a new one." The alien chirped. "Uhh, the only thing that might help you out at all is that the force field frequency on the weapon is in the zeta-9 spectrum. I know that's hard to come by, and it doesn't shut off the weapon. But it can disrupt the force field generated by the weapon when its activated. That way you can at least shoot it."
"Zeta-9?" Kup echoed. "That's some weapon if it takes that high a frequency to counter-act the field."
The furry alien smiled lightly. "Not something to take home and show the kiddies, that's for sure. Sorry I can't be of more help."
"Well," Roddi sighed, "it's enough to start with. Thanks, Ambassador. Rodimus Prime over and out." He switched off and turned to Kup. "Inform Blaster we need something designed with that frequency. Like Ambassador Weezaxas said, it's not much, but it might give us half a chance."
"Not even that!" Kup argued. "Rodimus, even if we were able to get that close to the weapon, there's no guarantee we can stop it!"
Rodimus solemnly fingered the panel under the video screen. "I know Kup. I know."