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The Bounty Hunter's Collection

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In the vacuum of space the sounds inside the altered ship were muted, the machinery still active but of no concern to the Prime as he stepped over the fallen body of a cyber-hound. The last of the twisted pets of the fallen bounty hunter had been quickly dispatched by his sword.

 

As Optimus had launched himself into space his sensors had alerted him to the retreating bulk of what had been Lockdown’s ship. A ship that at one time had housed his Autobots and him before being lost to the war, and apparently twisted by the Cybertronian bounty hunter and his drones.

 Coming to a quick decision, the ascending Autobot commander had altered course, landing on top of the ship before making his way inside. He met resistance almost immediately as his heavy tread attracted the attention of the remaining security forces of the ship, which were quickly overcome by the battle hardened elite mech.

Continually assessing his surroundings, noting again the alterations and motley assortment of disgusting organic non-sentients, he made his way to the bridge. Striding through the doorway, spark-deep battle coding had him raising his shield to block the shot of the large drone left in control of the bridge. Raising his own cannon, one shot took out the sparkless underling. A careful scan later, the Prime strode to the pilot’s seat, subspacing his fire arm and leaning his shield against a chair arm.

 Seating himself in the large metal chair, Optimus extended his wrist cables into the panels on the armrests, linking himself with the ship’s systems while keeping his firewalls in place against any counter-measures. There was no telling what type of defensive measure a mech like Lockdown would have left to stop an intruder from hacking his ship’s mainframe.

 Just as Optimus had expected, there was considerable resistance to his invasion. However, he had vorns of experience in dealing with data systems, being more at ease with sifting through information streams than he ever would be on the field of battle. With the deftness of long practice, he hacked into the system, overwriting command codes with his own and onlining more processors to deal with the multiple tasks of cleaning the ship’s CPU and backup system of the centuries of corruption Lockdown and his crew had imposed on it.

 Optimus kept at this virtual battle for several hours, connecting to the ship’s freed sensors with one processor to map out a blueprint of the ship while others rewrote the coding down to the base code. To his pleasant surprise, there was some of the original coding lurking deep in the ship’s processors.

Having offlined his optics to lessen any distractions, while still leaving some sensors active against the possibility of a surviving drone or other lingering security measure, Optimus slowly regained physical awareness as he pulled most of his concentration away from the systems that now responded to his every command.

Looking around, he spotted the blue form of the planet its inhabitants called Earth in the viewscreen. With mixed emotions in his spark, he stared at the beautiful world that had been the place of so much change to the long war of his people, and so much personal sparkbreak, and then commanded the ship to move away from the planet, plotting a course for open space. He would soon have to decide on a destination, but for now he turned his focus on investigating the ship that was now his once again.

Drawing his wrist cables out of the hard line connection with the ship he stood from the pilot seat, focusing on the processor that had compiled a schematic of the current dimensions of his vessel. There was a lot of cleaning and restructuring to do, and he still had to decide what course he would take that would hopefully bring him within reach of more of his fellow Autobots that were still drifting out somewhere in the vastness of the galaxy.

The ship would have to be stripped, rewired, and decontaminated. If any of his Wreckers or other engineers saw it like this, they would glitch. For now, all he could do was clean it up a bit and explore using the map that was now at the forefront of his attention.

With his usual steady tread, Optimus traveled through the ship, noting the various rooms and the plethora of metal parts strewn around as the now deactivated trash and disassembly systems left them to lie on the floor. What few scrap drones remained online were slaved to the ship’s controls and were idle for now. There was a lot of circuitry and armor lying around like so much discarded scrap that the Autobot Earth forces had not had access to in years. Ratchet would have been alternately cursing the barbaric sight and praising Primus for access to such components.

A pang went through the Prime’s spark, both at the processing of all those who had been deactivated in recent cycles and at the memory of his old friend. He could almost picture him there with him, kneeling amidst debris he was sorting through while grumbling about pit-spawned bounty hunters.

Optimus could not help but feel guilty that in his absence so many of his Autobots, his dear friends and comrades, had been hunted down and slaughtered by Lockdown and his human allies. It made no difference to the Prime that he had been in stasis lock from the damage taken in Mexico City, he still should have been there!

Losing Ratchet was the greatest blow of all. After the loss of Ironhide due to Sentinel’s traitorous actions, he had been the only one left that had been with him previously to the war. He had known him before he was a Prime, and occasionally still treated him like he was still that young mech. Optimus felt an echo of the rage that had overtaken his spark when he saw the head of one of his dearest friends hanging in that human facility. There was no recovering from the loss of the mech who had been friend, comrade, and CMO for so long that he still was unable to fathom the idea of no longer having him by his side.

His processing troubled and angry, had Optimus been any other mech he would have kicked the debris he was now wading through out of his way. The temptation to smash in a wall panel in his rage was there. Blast Lockdown, the humans, and his supposed creators to Unicron and back anyway!

Still fuming, Optimus allowed the corridors he was wandering through to circle him back toward the center of the ship, making his way slowly back to the bridge. Turning down another passageway, he strode near a doorway on his right, his schematic informing him that he was moving toward Lockdown’s berth room.

Pausing in front of the doorway, he pushed the controls to open the door panel and was unsurprised that it did not immediately allow him entrance. Lockdown was careful enough to make sure that not all of the systems on the ship were interconnected. Making a note to check other areas of the ship for similar places later, he again hacked into the controls, guarding his processors against any viruses or disabling coding that might have been left behind.

There was some resistance, but gaining access to the room was infinitely easier than gaining control of the ship’s systems had been. With only a faint swishing noise, the doorway cycled open.

Optimus did not immediately move through the doorway. He was well aware that he was on his own, and there was no bot to pull him out of trouble if he charged in and got his aft handed to him by a booby trap. So he took the time to do a thorough scan of the interior before bending slightly and treading inside.

It seemed to be a standard berth room for a ship of its class, with a metal berth off to the left cushioned by softer components, and next to a wall that held the soft blue glow of lighting placed just above a recessed table that had a few items and parts strewn across its surface. It was both familiar and disconcerting to the Prime, who had spent the last several human years living on a planet where everything seemed too small for him.

Looking around Optimus allowed a gust of air to escape his vents in what, if he were human, might be considered a sigh, lowering himself to the edge of the berth and leaning forward to rest his arm plates on his legs armor, his servos dangling between his knee joints as he bent his helm and shuttered his optics.

He was indeed on his own, a state which made him uncomfortable as both a mech and a Prime. Cybertronians were quite social beings normally, and Primes even more so as specialized coding demanded that he or she look after every individual considered to be a part of his or her unit. This coding had even extended to previously close human allies. Now, with no one but himself, Optimus felt the ever present loneliness of being a Prime joined by the isolation of being the only Cybertronian within sensor range.

His EM field expanded without his conscious command, as his spark longed for another of his own kind. He had rarely felt so alone. Even in the midst of the war there was almost always someone that would seek him out. Responding to his sparkfelt yearning, his field expanded further, sweeping out and through the room, colliding with the walls and extending out a little into the corridor. The walls were for the most part able to contain his EM presence, but his spark’s awareness expanded further, walls unable to completely block the energy from reaching for the presence of another.

Optimus stayed where he was, optics still shuttered, and allowed himself this moment of unshielded yearning. There was no bot around for which he had to appear the strong and contained leader.

Something pinged off his awareness, an answering energy so slight that he might have missed it if he had not been so utterly focused on his spark’s call. Cycling his optics online he focused more processors on the strange echo, now deliberately sending out energy from his spark in an expanding field that overlapped and went beyond the EM pulses of his sensors. After a few kliks, he felt it again. A definite response, yet so weak that it seemed barely there at all. He could not make out the signature, or even if there was more than one, but the Prime still knew the call of a fellow Cybertronian’s spark answering his own. And now he had an approximate direction to follow. He stood, his systems filling with the faint hope he felt in his spark. Friend or foe, he was not alone.

Sending out continual pings, further narrowing his search parameters, he made his way to the wall directly opposite the still open doorway. Reaching out one large servo, he smoothed it over the surface of the wall, acute sensors taking in and recording minute differences in the texture and thickness of the metal. Compiling and processing the data in an astrosecond, Optimus then searched for the opening mechanism to what his sensors told him was clearly a hidden hatchway in the wall. Searching the room, he finally located an activation switch underneath the berth near where it was attached to the wall.

Pressing the switch, the Prime looked up as the metal panel he had been investigating slid upward, revealing a dimly lit room. Pausing once more in a doorway, Optimus started to scan the room and froze, his spark lurching in its chamber.

The walls were lined with crystal containers, within which the blue light of sparks flickered and glowed. His vocalizer temporarily malfunctioning, Optimus slowly stepped into the room. His scan incomplete, the Prime wouldn’t have noticed a trap until it had dropped on his helm or swept his pedes out from under him. Luckily, no such security measure materialized. The quiet of the room was broken only by his own shocked venting and the hum of what had to be hundreds of sparks.

Pulling himself away from what was threatening to be a processor glitch, he surveyed the incredible sight before him, forcing himself to take in further details. The frameless spark chambers were hooked up to thick knots of cables which were siphoning energon to the sparks, keeping them from going out. But while they were sustained, most of the sparks pulsed slowly, obviously having little energy to them.

Cycling his optics, his processors finally completing their stalled assessment of the situation, Optimus Prime allowed the energy of his spark to once again expand, pulsing through the room unhindered and sensing out the signatures of the Cybertronian life forces before him. Like an invisible wave, the spark pulse of the Prime swept throughout the room.

There was an immediate response, sparks flickering and cycling energy faster as the feel of a Prime’s spark field touching their own. Rapidly cycling through the emotions of surprise, shock, dismay, and horrified wonder, Optimus recognized several signatures. His long term memory core identified the cores belonging to Autobots, Decepticons, and even Neutrals. They all pulsed in frantic greeting.

Further into the room, one energy field answered more strongly than the others. For it had been there the least amount of time.

Optics cycling wide, Optimus found himself striding carefully through the rows of casings, coming to a stop before a spark that was last in a row next to empty sockets that had not yet been filled by spark chambers. That would now never be filled as the perpetrator of this horrible trophy room was now so much slag. And the human scavengers were welcome to his parts and Primus blast his soiled spark to the pit!

Servo reaching out carefully, Optimus laid it gently on the spark casing before him, his own spark sending out a gentle pulse of relieved greeting that was answered quickly by a pulse of both welcome and a familiar irritation that have a smile curving the corners of the Prime’s lip plates.

“Ratchet.” He murmured, finding his voice again at last.

His smile deepened as he looked around him, joy lifting his weary spark for the first time in an age. He had a ship littered with parts, and storage rooms that were no doubt full of even more. He was no medic, but the war had forced him into situations where he needed to learn new skills fast. He had even been the somewhat panicked participant in a few spark transfers where the only thing keeping his servos steady was the knowledge that Ratchet would offline him if he fumbled it. He could build enough of a frame to house an online spark. From there the matter would be taken from his servos into ones that were infinitely more qualified to make a proper Cybertronian frame. And then they could both start on restoring others. He allowed himself a full smile, his helm lifting in relief and the ever present weight on his shoulder plates lightening somewhat.

He could hear his old friend’s complaints about his shoddy workmanship now.