Blackness was all Optimus could see at that point in time. He shook his head to clear the processor. “Oogh, my achin’ processor!” he moaned. It was still black around him. “What the scrap? The Matrix?”
“That’s correct,” confirmed a motherly voice. Optimus turned to see a short, stocky femme stroll towards him. Her armor made her look like a blacksmith, she had a short handled hammer attached to her waist, and she had a three pronged crown on her helm. Optimus’ optics went wide.
“By the Allspark!” he breathed. “You’re Solus Prime!”
“What gave me away?” she said in a teasing tone.
“My Lady,” greeted Optimus, “it’s an honor to meet one of the 13. Maybe you can help.”
“What’s the problem?” she asked. “You defeated Shockwave, did you not?”
“Yes,” confirmed Optimus, “but I seem to find it hard to believe that the Cyber Key was just waiting for me.”
“Cyber Key?” muttered Solus. “You found a Cyber Key?”
“Yes,” replied Optimus.
“But, that’s impossible,” mused Solus. “I ordered all Cyber Keys to stay away from the planet.”
“I…don’t think I understand,” stammered Optimus.
“When I forged the Omega Keys,” explained Solus, “they started producing Cyber Keys, like the ones you and Shockwave used. Alpha Trion saw a planet in the future and…”
“Wait, hold up, when was this?” asked Optimus.
“A few solar cycles after we beat the Chaos Bringer,” replied Solus.
“Alpha Trion is that old?!” yelped Optimus. “Sheesh! Ironhide would be floored! I knew he had a special connection with the Matrix, but I…wait…no!”
“Yes, Alpha Trion is one of us 13,” answered Solus. “He didn’t tell you this?”
“No!” replied Optimus. “Why…? Never mind, I’ll ask him later. Anyways, his Quill saw something about Mobius?”
“Yes,” confirmed Solus, “he saw a hotbed of activity there and so, once the Cyber Keys were finished, I did something to their codes so they could avoid Mobius at all times. Something must have interfered and sent one there.”
“Maybe more,” muttered Optimus. “Can a Prime check to see if there are other Cyber Keys?”
“Not one of your caliber, no,” answered Solus. “But one of my caliber, most definitely.” She held her hammer in front of her and gathered light around her. Her optics started glowing a brilliant white as her sight pierced the cosmic veil of the universe to reveal what she sought. A frown of confusion crossed her features. “That doesn’t make sense,” she muttered as her optics went back to their normal soft, purple color. “Mobius is littered with Cyber Keys.” Optimus arched an eyebrow and tapped his chin.
“There’s something here in this whole situation,” he mused, “something staring at us in the face, but we don’t have enough info to know what it is.”
“There’s a cosmic mystery going on,” agreed Solus, “and bringing the Cyber Keys on Mobius to my attention may be a step in solving it.”
“But what caused them to go there? That’s the question,” quizzed Optimus. “I originally wanted to ask how I managed to use one and how they work, but it evolved into something more.”
“Well, I can answer your original questions, at least,” replied Solus. “The Cyber Keys usually wait until they see a worthy bot to have the power they possess. In the code, they’re told to examine the Sparks of all Transformers in the area and see which one has the qualities needed to use it. Evidently, it sensed that you had a burning sense of justice and will use it to win. You do what you believe is right, even when the rules say that’s not right.”
“Burning sense of…” stumbled Optimus. Then he remembered what Shockwave said. “Many an Autobot have disregarded the warnings of their internal computers. All have fallen by my hand as they believe the universe has given them ‘Burning Justice’ to get through the fight,” were her words. “I thought she was kidding!” protested Optimus.
“She may have thought it to be one of her rare jokes,” chuckled Solus.
“She has a sense of humor?” asked Optimus, not believing it for a second.
“Despite that façade of logic being supreme,” replied Solus, “she has an emotional side to her.”
“Of…course,” mumbled Optimus. He then felt a twinge.
“Er, you might want to prepare for the processor-ache,” warned Solus.
“What processor…?” asked Optimus before he woke up in reality. “ACHE!” he screamed once he felt it.
“Optimus!” cried Ratchet.
“PRIMUS, THAT HURTS!” shouted Optimus. Ratchet gave him a dose of painkillers, which dulled it slightly. “Ow!” winced Optimus.
“Are you all right, Sir?” asked a voice. Optimus turned his head to see that it was Prowl that asked that question.
“I just went through the Pit and back from that fight with Shockwave!” snapped Optimus. “What do you think?!”
“Okay, if all Autobots would clear the med-bay!” ordered Ratchet. “I have a patient to tend to!” All visitors left the med-bay so Ratchet could work without interruptions. It took some time, but Ratchet cleared Optimus for duty. Optimus made a beeline to his office. On his way, he bumped into Prowl.
“Prowl, may I speak with you in my office?” he asked.
“Er, of course, Sir,” gulped Prowl. The tactician followed his young superior to his modest sized office. He noticed that Optimus didn’t sit at his desk.
“Prowl, I’m not entirely thrilled with your performance in the fight with Shockwave,” remarked Optimus.
“May I ask how, Sir?” asked Prowl.
“I gave you an order to stay in formation when she and Metal Sonic gave chase,” recalled Optimus.
“Sir, with all due respect, Shockwave was a greater threat than the Sonic robot,” countered Prowl.
“You don’t know Metal Sonic like us,” argued Optimus. “You exposed Ironhide’s right flank, thus giving Metal Sonic more chance to attack him and get the Tox-En. When I give an order, I need it to be obeyed.”
“Is it not my duty to suggest…alternatives?” asked Prowl.
“On a private comms channel during battle, yes,” answered Optimus. “What you did wasn’t a suggestion, it was flat out disobedience. When I have made a decision, I expect you to follow through with it. I don’t recall the history trax saying you’ve ever pulled this stunt with Sentinel Prime. Were they missing that fact?”
“No, Sir,” admitted Prowl.
“If you feel that you can’t follow through with your duties,” continued Optimus, “I can arrange for your wife to take your place while you deal with domestic matters. I wouldn’t put in your file as a reprimand, simply a transfer.”
“I would prefer to remain here to tie up loose ends,” countered Prowl.
“Then I would suggest you conform to the guidelines laid out, understood?” quizzed Optimus.
“Yes, Sir,” confirmed Prowl.
“All right. I’ve said my peace. Dismissed,” directed Optimus. Prowl saluted and left the office in military fashion. After his tactician left, Optimus sat at his desk a few seconds later. He didn’t look forward to reading Prowl the Riot Act, as calmly as he managed, and it left a bad taste in his mouth. He tried to get his mind off of the incident when his desk screen chimed. Optimus was snapped out of his reverie and pressed a button to receive the call. “Yes?” he asked.
“The Naming Ceremony for the ship is ready,” reported Jazz. “Team Dark is representing G.U.N. and Teams Sonic and Rose are requesting to join.” Optimus’ signature grin came back.
“They are more than welcome!” he cheered. “Let’s head for the ship!” Teletraan 1 activated the Ground Bridge and adjusted to compensate for putting the other end to a structure in orbit. Everyone had ended up on the bridge of the ship. Optimus had found a bottle of high grade Energon. “My friends,” began Optimus, “today, we stand with a new friend. This ship is no mere collection of bulkheads, circuits, windows, and consoles. This ship is our home away from home…away from home, in reference to the Autobots. With all that said, I dub this ship the Ark!
“Wait!” called Rouge. “I thought we settled on the Watchful!” The bottle stopped about a foot from the wall.
“I settled on the Ark because it sounded more majestic,” explained Optimus, “like the name for a fleet’s flagship. The situation with the Harbinger will need a ship and I’m not against owning a fleet someday.”
“Yeah, but the reason people voted for Watchful,” recalled Ratchet, “was because they didn’t want to call it a name like the space colony.”
“Yes,” snapped Optimus, “but, it’s not their ship now, is it?!”
“Prime,” warned Ironhide.
“Okay, fine!” sighed Optimus. “All Vanguard-class ships have four scout ships. We’ll call one of them the Watchful! Okay?”
“No objections,” answered Prowl quickly. He didn’t want to annoy his superior again.
“Thank you,” remarked Optimus. “Now then, I dub thee the Ark!” He banged the high grade bottle on the wall, but it failed to even give a tiny crack. Optimus looked at the bottle and banged it again. Still nothing. Annoyance set in and Optimus kept banging the bottle against the wall.
“This is gonna take a while,” predicted Jazz.
“You want to get some high grade?” asked Prowl to the group. “I know where the bar is and there is a replicator that can give Mobian drinks.”
“Hey, lead the way!” directed Rouge. All members of the ceremony headed to the bar at four-forward, all except Optimus, who kept his attention on breaking the bottle against the wall.
“BREAK, SLAG YOU!” he shouted.