Symmetry in Contrasts: Prowl/Optimus - 07
Chapter: One Shot 7 – Prehistoric Trouble
Author: neverminetohold (LJ/FF.net)
Summary: Another lesson learned about Prowl – when he gets something into his helm, he’ll see it through, come what may. But where the Dinobots are concerned, that spells disaster... or doesn’t it? Set in TFA (Season 1); Follows 06
Pairing or Character(s): Prowl, Optimus Prime; Bumblebee, Ratchet, Bulkhead, the Sumdac’s
Disclaimer: I do not own Transformers in any form... Poor me!
Feedback: welcome as always!
The EMP blast expanded to thrice its width, a burst of pure, golden-white light.
Its frequency shivered with the fragility of spun crystals in Prowl’s spark, resonating with the memories of mechs, femmes and places long lost. It was the same every time Sari used her key – but now much more pronounced.
It swept over the newly created Dinobots, halting their hostile advance, its heat melting the artificial skin away. Only the bare frames remained, the plating exposed; tubes and circuitry peeking through seams.
Everyone stared, optics transfixed on the powerful surge Sari’s key had ignited, channeled through Bumblebee’s systems.
But Prowl was distracted by things unseen, invisible to the other members of his team. Something had shifted and realigned within those human made machines. Its pulsing, sudden flaring lapped in waves at his highly attuned sensor-net; still focussed after the fight as it was.
As soon as the sensation had rushed through him, before Prowl had a chance to further analyze, - it vanished. The EMP blast ebbed away mere astroseconds later, its retracting energy pushing the Dinobots into deep stasis; optics going dark in deactivation.
Prowl retreated into the shadows, pondering the experience. He listened to the unfolding conversation with only half an audio; recording and filing it away for later perusal.
The clatter of the now useless remote control drew his attention back to his environment. Stepping closer, Prowl watched as Professor Sumdac removed the front plating of the tyrannosaurus rex. His lab coat fanning out in the evening breeze, he crawled in as far as the robots internals would allow; shifting wires and checking circuit boards at random.
Sari rolled her eyes behind her fathers back; whispering something that made Bee and Bulkhead grin. – Ratchet, on the other servo, only scowled, probably still suspicious of this accident.
”Hmm.... I have to find out what went wrong and then take them apart,” Isaac Sumdac mumbled, more to himself than to the gathered Autobots.
Prowls visor flashed inadvertently: ”Is that not a bit extreme?”
The professor slapped the metal panel shut and turned to him with a distracted smile; shrugging somewhat apologetically: ”They are just machines.”
The deep growl of an engine rumbled closer from the main road and the ‘bots cleared a path for the transporter. It had been called to pick the Dinobots up and bring them into the Sumdac laboratories.
Optimus noted how Prowl’s frame seemed to stiffen at the offhand comment. Two long steps brought him closer to the ninjabot. Thinking he might be disturbed by the similarities to them, as Cybertronians, Optimus tried to soften the impact: ”You know he didn’t mean it like that.”
”Of course not – you’re not mere machines to us! You’re our friends!” chimed Sari in; having overheard from her perch on Bumblebee’s shoulder.
”... of course.”
”Prowl – is something wrong?”
In that instance, Optimus found the fact utterly frustrating that the ninjabots faceplate gave nothing away which Prowl did not want to be seen. It was all too easy to be fooled by that.
”The Dinobots, they...”, but he hesitated. Prowl tried to reach out and touch the foreign energy signature – careful to avoid contact with the ones of his fellow teammates. He went so far as to hum very faintly, trying to lure it with a spiking cant most masters had long since forgotten.
Failing that, he shook his dark helm, deciding to keep his suspicions to himself until he got further proof. He would need to investigate, and soon. ”No. It is nothing. It must have been my imagination.”
”Whoa – who would have guessed that’s part of your programming?!” commented Bumblebee. Setting Sari down, he transformed, opening the driver’s door in invitation.
She snapped her fingers at his side-view mirror in warning. Hadn’t the last hail of shuriken been enough to stop him from teasing Prowl when the mech acted a bit... weird? Seriously, Sari thought; climbing into the car; obviously I’m the responsible one here. Well... at least most of the time. Aloud she said: ”Remember what they say about still waters, Bee?”
”Sure do. But what do they say about grumpy-broody puddles?”
The ambulance next to him rolled even closer, its sirens flaring up briefly: ”Give me a break,” groaned Ratchet; stressed out. ”Let’s head back to base, Prime. This time there’s a bit more for me to patch up than scratched paintjobs.”
As if to prove his point, Bulkheads engines squealed horribly as he revved his motor to shift gears.
”Right. Autobots –”
” – roll out,” finished Sari cheekily, watching Prowls transformation sequence with a barely hidden, fake yawn. ”Yeah, we all know that one.”
The howling roar of the Dinobots gained a desperate edge as their bodies sank ever deeper into the stinking mud of molten tar. Despite their power they struggled in vain, movements growing sluggish and soon, only their helms peeked out of the hardened mass.
Only an hour later, the structure was reinforced with a special blend of concrete; an experimental mixture straight out of the professors laboratory. An energy cage was installed and activated for added security, framing the now solid block. Its buzzing, silvery lines stood out against the darkening horizon, casting odd flickers over the workers pale faces.
Prowl stared up into the faintly glowing optics of the Dinobot mech whom had proudly declared that his designation was ‘Grimlock’. Their rampage through Detroit had sent the humans into a frenzy – and they had proven themselves as worthy opponents...
Despite Grimlock’s, admittedly, simple speech pattern and irrationally justified aggression with a curious focus on cars, he had displayed self-awareness and cognizant thought processing...
It was hard to define the line between the advanced programming of an AI and a genuine spark... But Prowl had cross-checked his observations with the scientifically approved 56 distinctive signs of spark sentience on which Cybertronian scholars agreed upon. – Perhaps he did it to rationalize and support what his spark already, due to his Circuit-Su training, knew.
”What will now happen to them?” Prowl asked, although he could predict the most likely answer effortlessly.
Professor Sumdac checked the power cell for the energy field generator one final time, before he turned around to answer: ”I melt them down, first thing in the morning. They are far too dangerous.”
”... I see.”
Prowl began immediately to carefully consider all available options, - and found himself willing to take a... personal... risk to achieve his goal.
After all the humans, including the two Sumdacs – with Bulkhead as their chauffeur -, had left, Prowl chose to speak up: ”Optimus... could I have a word with you, - alone?” The younger ‘bot didn’t look surprised by that request, he noted.
”Of course. Ratchet, would you -”
”Sure, Prime,” the CMO nodded. With reflexes belying his age, he grabbed a hold of Bumblebee’s outstretched servo, who had jumped up and down to get a better look at the flying Dinobot.
”Stop that nonsense, for Primus sake! If you touch that energy barrier it will at least melt your paintjob,” Ratchet reprimanded sternly; feeling like a Youth Sector caretaker.
”Hey – no fun, old-timer!”
Ratchet vented a heavy sigh, feeling an impending processor ache creeping up over his taut neck cables: ”Let’s head back to base before I blow a gasket.”
”Aw – but I want to know –” Bumblebee was dragged away before he could say something stupid about secret talks and certain ‘bots.
Prowl waited till the two of them had transformed and were well out of audio range before he got straight to the point: ”I am now certain that Sari’s key granted the Dinobots a spark and thus, consciousness. They displayed both during our encounter. They are therefore no longer ‘just machines’, - to offline them means to kill sentient beings.”
Optimus ducked his helm slightly in automatic response, hearing the implied reproach quite clearly. He himself had always stressed the fact that they, as Autobots, were programmed to protect all life. But still...
”Even if you are right, I nevertheless agree with Professor Sumdac. These Dinobots are too dangerous.”
Seeing the narrowing visor, now glowing a dirty teal, Optimus felt compelled to add, not really comfortable with the only solution he could see, either: ”It would be a different matter if it were possible to contain them somewhere. But, seeing as how powerful they are and that both the humans and we lack the necessary resources... Not to forget how unreasonable and aggressive the Dinobots acted towards ‘fossil feeders’...” Optimus mulled it over, as he had for dozens of times, but was again unable to come up with a different, viable option.
He shook his helm with an air of defeat, but knew his duty. ”We can not take such a risk, endangering the humans of this city. Prowl – we have to destroy them. I... I regret that.”
”May I offer a possible alternative?”
Optimus hesitated only for a moment, feeling... tested, in a way he could not quite put a servo on: ”Of course.”
Prowl’s visor lit back up in what, maybe, could have been hope or excitement: ”During my explorations beyond the city perimeter I came across an isolated place I believe to be perfect as a habitat for the Dinobots.”
”Far away from any human settlement and overall hard to reach.”
Optimus preferred not to make hasty decisions, even more so based on so few information’s, - so the next thing to leave his vocalizer took him by surprise: ”Can you guarantee that the Dinobots will be unable to escape and neither be discovered? That no humans will be endangered due to their presence?”
”Yes,” Prowl’s simple answer was spoken with confidence and lacked any hint of hesitation. In fact, he seemed to be prepared to put his – no doubt well thought-out – plan into action right away.
Not exactly sure why he found himself making an U-turn, Optimus vented a sigh to cool down his suddenly racing systems: ”Where exactly is that place?”
”Plausible deniability, Optimus. It would be prudent for you, as our leader and main contact to Sumdac Enterprises, to remain ignorant of further details.”
Optimus reset his optics in reflexive surprise at Prowls deadpan tone: ”... right.”
”Thank you, Optimus. I will do my utmost so that you will never have reason to regret this decision,” saying that with solemn fierceness, which turned the words into a vow, Prowl bowed deeply.
Then it hit him: ”Wait, - you asked for my permission although you knew that the chance for me to change my mind was slim.”
”Yes,” Prowl answered simply, waiting patiently.
”Despite the fact that, had the Dinobots ‘mysteriously vanished’ overnight, you would have been my main suspect.”
Optimus watched on as the ninjabot turned and started to work on the energy field generator; his processor reeling because of the implications of Prowl’s simple admission.
He felt at the same time honored by this display of trust, confused by Prowls dedication to the Dinobots, in some ways manipulated, which he, surprisingly, didn’t mind. Furthermore, it felt like back then, during his Elite Guard time, watching Ultra Magnus and his SIC, - discussion, arguing – making tough decisions with practiced ease.
And it made his spark quiver in dread, the implication that Prowl would have, maybe, gone through with his plan, regardless of Optimus consent.
Would the ninjabot have lied? Covered up all traces of his involvement so perfectly that it left Optimus with suspicions he could just not prove?
As if sensing Optimus inner turmoil, Prowl interrupted his work and turned to face him, calm as always. ”I knew you would agree to save them. Therefore, it was not as much a risk as you may think."
Optimus shook his helm: ”How could you have known that?”
Prowl actually smiled at that, a slight upturn of his lip components: ”’Freedom is the right of all sentient beings’”, he quoted. ”Is that not right, Optimus?”
And although it should have been more complicated than that, the simple statement put Optimus’ sudden fears and doubts instantly to rest. He was content to leave Prowl to his plan and drove away; pondering the days events until recharge claimed him.
The next morning, all that Professor Sumdac and his team found were the cracked remnants of the once solid, improvised cell block. They looked as if something had burst free from the inside; scratch and bite marks covered everything. The generator was charred black. An investigation discovered a malfunction due to a spike of electricity, - caused by a loose connection, of all things!
The fact of the Dinobots escape was successfully hidden from the media, though.
Despite a throughout search, not a trace of them was found. But, since no reports of sightings, or worse: disasters, came in, the professor began to slowly relax.
And in the end, occupied with other things as he was, he forgot about the event completely.