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Old 2015-09-21, 07:42 PM   #1
The Bastard of Driftmark
Protoform
 
Default [Fiction] The New Prime

[Prelude - "The Capture" @ http://tfarchive.com/community/showthread.php?t=54453]

(author's note - this is a first draft I'm still not 100% happy about as the pace shifts around too much; I figure I'll be reediting whenever I do a new chapter! )

Prowl hoped he didn't look as impatient as he felt. He didn't have time for this, he didn't want to be here. Even putting aside the Energon drought, he had problems to deal with - there had been no word from Crosscut on Quintessa for days, his mole in Tarn had reported another batch of desertions from the mines, outlaw activity was increasing with each cycle and now the Throttlebots had disappeared after a seemingly routine arrest mission on the Plurex Flats. He wanted to be back at Iacon, back at his operations hub with all the data he needed at his fingertips. Instead he - and far too many of Iacon's upper rank for his comfort – were gathered at Darkmount. Usually he could get out of engagements under his unofficial function of Iacon's key administrator but today one of their own citizens was becoming a Prime and that meant nearly all of the city-state's leading lights were present.

He had to hand it to Hot Rod, though – he deserved it. His climb through the ranks had been rapid but inexorable. He had crafted the start of his legend at the Sonic Canyons during the first Quintesson invasion; with just five equally fresh troopers he had raided and harassed the bulk of the invading army for three solar cycles while the bulk of the Autobot forces had been pinned down in the valleys of the Manganese Mountains. That he had used his previously hidden strategic talents rather than mere courage had seen him promoted to the rank of Major only sped up his career and when Modus Prime had besieged Rodion as the first stage of his plan to restore the old Empire it had been Hot Rod's cavaliers that had smashed the rebel lines. It had been Star Saberr who had dispatched Modus but it was impossible to ignore whose leadership had inspired the victory.

Modus' seat at Darkmount had been all but destroyed in the resulting struggle between his surviving followers and the combined forces of the other twelve city-states but now it gleamed again. Or at least the Council Pavilion did – the journey through the habitation zones had been more reminiscent of the Dead End than the formerly proud city. Grapple and the cohort of construction experts borrowed from across Cybertron had excelled themselves in the construction of the Pavilion but it was an obscenity, a freshly buffed steel crown surrounded by burnt-out shells and craters. Grapple himself had been blissfully unaware of the sullen stares that had fallen on the Iacon delegation as their chief architect proudly espoused on his choice of styling (the design of the turrets blended Second Era Empire styling and classic Golden Age functionality). Red Alert hadn't been and when a bone-dry Energon cannister had rolled within a few yards of them had been all for interring the entire civilian population until after the ceremony.

Thankfully cooler heads had prevailed. However, if Prowl couldn't be back at Iacon he'd settle for having Red Alert there instead. Not because he trusted the Security Director to particularly look after the city but simply because he'd made the trip to Darkmount several times more stressful than it had needed to be. Instead Perceptor had been left in charge and was almost certainly spending less time being scanned for signs of being a Quintesson duplicate than Prowl was. He tried to put his thoughts to one side, though - while he was hardly a friend to Hot Rod, whose confidence and unpredictability had always made Prowl feel uneasy, he felt he should be treating such a momentous occasional with more attention.

The Pavilion's main podium only had seats on it for the thirteen Primes themselves – twelve for the incumbents and one for the new member. All of the others – bar the bodyguards, who would be lurking behind the stage, would have to make do with seats in the auditorium either side of the aisle leading up to the dais. The Iacon contingent had arrived slightly before the rest in order to help Hot Rod with his preparations and had stayed clustered together in the best seats – Nightbeat, Siren, Bluestreak, Ratchet, Gears, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker. Red Alert was absent, probably bothering Grapple about the building's security while Ironhide was flanking Optimus Prime as they made their way to their seats. Kup was helping Hot Rod prepare, having now officially transferred from the position of Iacon's combat instructor to the role of Darkmount's second in command. Iacon's other contributions to the new garrison – Warpath, Powerglide, Cosmos and Beachcomber – were attending to their various duties.

Sentinel Prime's group from Polyhex were the next to arrive. As First Prime he was the best known to Prowl of the Primes aside from Optimus; he was blustering and hard, a combat veteran of the Empire days who had backed Dai Atlas to the hilt in the days of the great rebellion. In a rare moment of candour Optimus had noted that Sentinel was built for war and had tended to find it; Crosscut's mission to Quintesson was the third attempt to find peace between the planets and Prowl sometimes suspected Sentinel's harsh terms were designed to bring another incursion to Cybertron. With him was his bodyguard Windmill, the former Wrecker with a hundred hazily-reported missions behind enemy lines on his highly restricted record. Thunderclash and his Turbomasters broke off and headed towards the pavilion seating, the large Autobot exchanging a curt nod with Prowl.

Garrus Prime of Altihex and Zeta Prime of Rodion entered together and moved towards their seats locked in conversation, their entourages moving up to take their seats also in discussion, making little attempt to engage with those from Iacon and Polyhex on either side. Rodion and Altihex were separated by less distance than some districts of Iacon and the two companies would likely have travelled in a single convoy to boot. The next Prime was somewhat more boisterous – Levitacus Prime of Helex was announced by his booming bodyguard Bulkhead and strode in alongside Seaspray, Admiral of the Rust Sea Fleet. They were the entire Helex representation but the only one to stir Sentinel from his seat, the First Prime roaring with delight. It was an open secret that the pair were something of an indulgement from Sentinel. Helex existed because of the Rust Sea Fleet and the Rust Sea Fleet existed because of Helex; both were costly anachronisms in these Energon-short days but had saved Sentinel from a rout during a Quintesson incursion and the idea of closing down either the naval base or its' fleet was forbidden from high councils.

The rest arrived to less boisterous greetings – Nexus Prime of Vos; Senex Prime of Kalis with his right hand Scattershot; the grim Nominus Prime from the mining city of Tarn, flanked by his Axelerators; Nova Prime of Kaon accompanied by his gigantic bodyguard Quickswitch; the former gladiator Xenon Prime, head of Tesarus; the gleaming Hyperion Prime from Corvax with the Sixliner team and finally that zealot Trion Prime from Boltax in his ridiculous wire mesh robes to signify his role as High Guardian of the Well of All Sparks, the grim Star Saber in tow. After what felt like an interminable wait as the twelve Primes exchanged pleasantries Sentinel finally drew his sword from his back and, both hands on the hilt, drove it into the stage, a signal for the ceremony to begin.

“Bring forth the new Prime!” Sentinel hollered. The mighty doors at the end of the pavilion, only closed a few seconds before after Boltax and his acolytes, swung open. Hot Rod entered, flanked by his bodyguard Kup and second-in-command Ultra Magnus. Both were beaming with pride. A small cluster of the warriors drawn from the other city states to garrison the revived city-state fell in behind as they marched to the stage. For all the pomp and circumstance the ceremony itself was mercifully brief; Hot Rod swore to uphold both the Autobot Code and the Code of the Primes; to be loyal to Cybertron, Darkmount and Sentinel Prime's authority as first Prime, to uphold the values of Dai Atlas. After agreeing to all in a suitably solemn fashion Sentinel dubbed him Rodimus Prime and handed him an ornate, rune-covered chalice filled with a sample of fuel from his twelve peers.

His acceptance ended the formal part of the ceremony and the assembled Autobots rose from the pavilion seating and began to move to join the group on stage. Not Prowl; he was never at ease in these situations at the best of times and moved for the doors with what he hoped was polite speed. Meanstreak tried to attract his attention but Prowl was in no mood for his boasting and pretended not to notice before the crowd swallowed up his former assistant. He picked his way down the pavilion steps and glanced around. Red Alert was pacing ferociously a few yards away, stabbing at a datapad; Prowl turned smartly on his heel and walked in the opposite direction, hoping the ever-vigilant Security Director hadn't seen him.
“PROWL!” The call came after him. He quickened his nonchalant pace around the side of the pavilion.
“PROWL!” This time it was followed by the sound of rapid footsteps. Resigned, Prowl stopped and turned around, being pleasantly surprised to find out the caller wasn't Red Alert but High Beam. The pair's training programmes had overlapped at Iacon and Prowl hurriedly shuffled through his internal database to find out what the smaller Autobot was up to now.
“Security Director at Tarn now, High Beam?” He asked.
High Beam nodded. Prowl remembered him as dutiful but sometimes stubborn, introspective yet given to bursts of often impulsive action. A good trooper but he'd never have pegged him for a Security Director.
“Yes,” High Beam replied, brimming with enthusiasm. “For a year now. It's going well.”
Prowl was taken slightly aback. He didn't need to read intelligence reports to know the situations in most of Cybertron's ailing Energon mines, let alone Tarn.
“Really? With the strikes and the walkouts?” He instantly regretted his lack of tact but High Beam was unfazed.
“Oh, it can be challenging sometimes but really it's just pruning out those who don't want to work.” The green Autobot replied. “Nominus Prime is negotiating with the workers and the strikes are a thing of the past and it's been eight cycles since the last walk-out. We've even had some return from the wastes and ask to go back to work.”
“Really?” Prowl was impressed. It had been a long time since he'd visited Tarn but the occasional reports his sources fed him had suggested it was by far the harshest of the mines. How had Nominus, with his blunt personality and blunt force, been able to turn things around where the Primes of the other mining cities were struggling?”
“Really.” High Beam's faceplate hid his mouth. “Maybe some of your boys should come over and see how you really run a city-state?” His tone was good natured and he reached across to give Prowl a firm handshake.
“Well, I've thing to do, Prowl. Nominus wants me back at Tarn straight away to keep up the good work.”
“Uh-huh. Maybe I will drop by some time.” It was the best a dazed Prowl could manage as High Beam walked off in a hurried fashion.
“PROWL!” This time it was Red Alert, just as High Beam was disappearing into the blackened maze of Darkmount's broken housing areas. Prowl turned to face the music.
“No time for socialising, Prowl.” Red Alert scorned. “Optimus has just contacted me to say we're all to return to Iacon as soon as possible to oversee important business.”

Prowl could tell that Optimus hadn't specified what business to Red Alert and derived a small, guilty amount of pleasure from the Security Director's obvious annoyance a being kept out of the loop. Prowl could hazard a guess, though truth be told there were many more important items of business they should be dealing with than imbibing too much high-grade Energon that would serve better being split among the population that spilt on the floors of Grapple's disgustingly majestic Pavilion floor.

What remained of the Iacon delegation assembled in fairly short order, though Sideswipe and Sunstreaker were complaining of the early exit. One of Optimus' more severe gazes hushed them both. It was only now, surrounded by trusted comrades, that Prowl felt safe enough to unclench his fist and deftly drop the dataslug High Beam had palmed him into the hip compartment on the left side of his waist.
 
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