Title: How to Torment your Medic
Characters: TF Prime Autobot & Human Ensemble, implied Optimus Prime/Ratchet
WARNINGS:Brief mention of interfacing of an unspecified variety, possible hint of creation method other than Allspark.
Summary: Miko asks some questions. My take on TF origin theories which will likely be obsolete by the end of the season.
Notes: Written for Darthneko for tf_gift_exchange, and originally posted anon here. This was my first attempt at a TF Prime story. I haven't read Exodus, only the Wiki synopsis, so there is probably much canon-fail here. The second section is an attempt for me to get my meta about Cybertronian origins down in fiction form, but I'm afraid it comes off as a huge info dump. I hope it shows a different side the character who gives said information. Also, in my head canon, Quintessons are not purely mechanoid. They are technorganic with organic origins.
How to Torment your Medic
"Hey, Ratch, which came first, the robot or the egg?" Miko asked cheekily as she climbed out of Bulkhead, ready for yet another weekend hanging out on base. Current plan: distract herself by annoying the resident medic until something cool happened, like a Decepticon sighting, so Bulkhead could kick some 'Con aft.
"Your question, Miko, while incorrectly stated, is actually one which has been the source of significant debate among our philosophers and scientists through the ages," Optimus intoned before Ratchet could react. "Our sparks, indeed, are in an egg-shaped casing, and there are several theories about the origins of said sparks, casings, and the mechanoid forms our sparks inhabit." The leader of the Autobots was a historian at spark, and had never forgotten it.
"Yeah, and I bet they are all bo-o-o-ring. Hey, Jack! How about a rematch on Mario Kart?" she yelled across the bunker as she and her endless energy bounded away towards the couch and game console that had been set up for the humans.
"I'm in," Jack said with a shrug, following her at a slower pace.
Ratchet vented in exasperation. "Like a human could ever have any real appreciation or interest in the intricacies of Cybertronian origin theories," he complained acerbically, turning back toward the replacement part he was attempting to weld from the shoddy human supplies he was forced to work with.
"I'm interested," a smallish voice said from below. "Theories, huh? Does that mean you don't really know where you come from?"
Optimus knelt down so his optics were closer to the young human, a posture he had noticed put the organics at ease. "Indeed, Rafael. While each of the Autobots on base knows their personal origins, we only have theories, educated guesses, about the origin of our kind. Unlike your own species, we are not able to trace our mitochondrial DNA to find our commonality and shared history with other organisms."
"Mito-whatrial what now?" Miko asked from the couch where she was, surprisingly, still tuned in to the conversation as she and Jack raced.
"Don't you listen in Biology class?" Jack chided. "You know, the DNA in the little powerplants in our cells, that can be traced all way back to the earliest forms of bacterial life on Earth, which were engulfed by and entered into symbiosis with our cells' earliest ancestors."
"Ooooo, engulfed! Cool. But ALSO, bo-o-o-ring. You are such a geek, Jack." Miko never took her eyes from the screen.
Rafael ignored them, intent on Prime. "So, which did come first?"
"It is a fascinating topic Rafael," Optimus began to explain patiently, offering the youngest of the humans his hand and lifting him up. "Though a complicated one..."
75 years later
"There are many theories about their origins," the wrinkled professor explained to the packed auditorium. The audience was completely silent, their attention riveted on the elderly speaker and the holographic renderings which illustrated the lecture. Currently several similar three dimensional glyphs were floating before them. "Their own language betrays the uncertainty. As precise and detailed as Cybertronex is, the glyph that can be imprecisely translated into English as the field of archaeology can, with a single addition to the figure, also be translated as origin myth, or even, with another slight alteration, religion, though all of those translations are frustratingly limited and imprecise to them.
"When they had leisure to study such things, they found physical clues regarding their origins, but those clues led to no less than two hundred and twenty three distinct theories, all of which were judged to be scientifically plausible at one time or another in their vast history. Even the most ancient archived memory cores of mecha who long ago gave up their sparks contained no decisive evidence of their true origins. With plenty of evidence supporting each theory and subtheory, what a given Cybertronian choses to believe (or at least not to believe) comes down to preference, with spark traits and personality matrix influencing their opinions."
"Most of the theories can be divided into three major schools of thought," the professor continued as the projector rendered a five-faced, tentacled alien being, a cacophonous mixture of technological and organic components whose appearance was highly unsettling to the humans present.
"The majority of Decepticons have long preferred the Quintesson origins theory. They believe Cybertronians were originally created as slaves for a brutal technorganic species, and in overcoming their creators and oppressors, completely wiped them out. They are wary to the point of hatred of all other sentient organic or partially organic species. After all, most sentient organics share a common paranoia regarding sentient machines, and the enslavement of so-called 'artificial' intelligence, and their eventual rebellion and conquest of their creators is an archetypal story in nearly every technologically evolved organic culture. The archetypal organic paranoia is clearly a sign to them that organics will enslave or destroy what is a threat to their universal population dominance. Superior, mechanoid forms of life, they believe, have the right to dominate those, who by their sheer numbers and reproductive capacity, have the potential to destroy them if organic development is not subdued and brought under their control."
"The will to power is the way of the universe for most of those who ascribe to this origin theory. To question the right of power is to question the basic facts of existence. If you don't assert your power and control, others will assert their power over you. The slave castes of Cybertron understood this all too well. To truly live was the to cast off the chains and the dominion of others so one would never be chained again."
The hologram shifted to an artistic rendering of two giant, planet sized mecha, locked in battle.
"According to the Quintesson theory, Primus and Unicron, as seen here, are myths. They are simply part of the power that is within each Cybertronian spark: the power of hope to create a new life for oneself in the face of struggle, and the power to destroy any threats to ones will to power. When those powers were in balance within each spark and on the planet as a whole, it was believed that Cybertron would prosper. Many of the original Decepticons believed that the spirit of Primus had gained far too much dominance over the spirit of Unicron in Cybertronian conciousness, and thus fiery destruction was needed to bring their society back into harmony. Interestingly, Megatron himself, according to Optimus Prime, does not subscribe to the Quintesson theory, but used its narrative to his benefit when recruiting mecha to his faction."
The hologram was replaced by another artistic rendering, clearly by the same artist, of a crystal and metal triskaidecagon shaped structure that produced its own light, a temple of some sort, set against an inhuman skyline on a nearly sunless world. Its walls were covered in glyphs and murals depicting one of the same massive, planet-sized mech creating thirteen smaller ones.
"Others on Cybertron were offended by the Quintesson origin theory, but for the same xenophobic reasons some embraced it. Many of the Alpha caste nobility scoffed at any notion of organic origins to their kind. Their favored theory was referred to as the Alpha theory. They were pure mechanic beings, untouched and unsullied by the messy chaos of organic life. Primus created the original thirteen, budding their sparks from his own and building the first frames which the sparks were placed into. Primus gave the original Primes the knowledge and ability to craft frames themselves, and the Allspark as the source, not only of new sparks, but of the energon which was the lifeblood of their kind and their planet."
"The Quintessons had, indeed, attempted to enslave them, but that was long after their origins. The horrid, inferior technorganics, sullied by the organic matter intermingled with their mechanical systems, had been easily dealt with and destroyed, and had never enslaved their kind. Peace came by adhering to the will of Primus, whose spark was believed to inhabit inaccessible core of the very planet that was his body. The will of Primus, they believed, was for an orderly, stable society in which the castes sparked and built for leadership, whose coding descended from the original thirteen, were followed without question by those sparked for other purposes. Order was the only means by which they would hold back Unicron when he eventually came to challenge his brother and his brother's creations."
The image shifted from artwork to a still image of Cybertron, its cities turned to slag and the light of its many structures and the planet itself dimmed or completely gone.
"When Cybertron seemed to be dying, the Alpha caste who subscribed to this theory believed that Primus himself had died. Many who had not already been killed facing the wrath of a populace too long subjugated, found their sparks failing out of despair. Unicron, it seemed, had conquered his brother after all."
The image was replaced again by that of a tall blue and red mech whose very posture and expression communicated nobility, patience, and wisdom.
"Optimus Prime," the professor continued, "along with the majority of the remaining Autobots, hold a third theory, or family of theories, usually referred to as the Primalspark theory. They theorize that the original sparks were the creation of a primalspark, later referred to as Primus, a life form who was neither organic nor mechanoid, but something wholly different, and likely from a different dimension. The original thirteen were believed to have been budded from the Primalspark."
"Theories diverge at this point. Some hold that the Quintessons managed to capture those original sparks, which, though powerful in their own right, were also inherently vulnerable. Some believe that the Quintessons even harnessed the power of the Allspark, the ancient relic that was their link to the primalspark's dimension, forcing it to produce new sparks and encasing them in mechanoid shells as slaves. Others believe that the first thirteen sparks had been able to form simple protoform shells around themselves by manipulating raw materials with their telekinetic abilities. A minority, including some of their top scientists, subscribe to an organic origins theory, in which the sparks that were budded by the primalspark harnessed the bodies of simple organic lifeforms on what had originally been an organic world, modifying them, causing them to evolve until they were, eventually, completely mechanoid, though with hints of the organic origins still able to be traced in coding of the nanites that make up their protoforms."
"The Autobots were comfortable with a multiplicity of origin theories, and there were some within their ranks who firmly ascribed to the other two major theory families. While origin theories do not necessarily lead mechs to defined mindsets regarding other species, most Autobots hold that respect, care, and reverence for all forms of life is the basic spark trait of Primus, and that only by embracing that same reverence for life, not matter how different or similar it is to their own, can they be at one with their source. 'Till all are one' is the founding principle of the Autobot creed, and it did not simply refer to their own kind. It is a hope that all sentient life would one day be recognized as valuable and important in its own right, and would recognize other forms of sentience in the same manner."
Miko took off her glasses and gazed at the assembled gathering of academics, students, and community members who were listening to her so attentively.
"Thank you for listening. Do you have any questions?" she asked with a slight bow to those gathered.
Several hundred hands shot into the air. Trusting her instincts, the elderly professor pointed to a woman sitting in the third row.
"So with the Allspark gone, and so many of them lost to war, are they facing extinction? Or is there another way for them to create new sparks?"
75 Years Earlier
"Hey, Ratch. Where do baby robots come from? We had health class today, and it just had me wondering. You know, cause Arcee is a girl and the rest of you are boys, kind of like the Smurfs in that movie." Miko practically flounced out of Bulkhead, her eyes full of mischief as she prepared for another weekend of tormenting Ratchet until something more interesting happened.
"Puh-lease!" Ratchet objected.
"Not going there," Arcee warned, her optics flashing dangerously.
"Um, Miko, there isn't any such thing as baby robots," Bulkhead began awkwardly.
"Uh huh, I don't believe you. Optimus said Bumblebee was the youngest." Miko crossed her arms, staring at the room full of Autobots who had all become eerily still and tense.
"Miko," Jack hissed. "You're embarrassing yourself, and them."
"Actually, the question is a legitimate one," Optimus intoned, kneeling down to be closer to three humans. "While by relative age, Bumblebee is the youngest among us, he was never, as you might describe it, a baby, or a child. Though new sparks do go through a period of integration into their frames in which they are given the guidance of mentors whose feelings are not dissimilar to those of a human parent. But to answer the question I believe you are asking, new sparks came from the Allspark, which is now destroyed." The grief expressed in Prime's optics and voice should have been enough to halt the questions of even the most inquisitive human.
"Yeah, so no babies, and no new sparks," Miko ventured blithely on. "So can you explain what it is that I walked in on you and Ratchet doing yesterday when I accidentally opened the storage closet? Because I can't wash that image out of my brain and inquiring minds want to know."
"Routine maintenance," Ratchet snapped, but not before laughs were quickly covered up by static-laced coughs from the remaining Autobots, minus their Prime.
Miko simply continued to glare while Jack and Raf edged away, neither having any desire to have their brains broken by what apparently was to be the next topic in their Cybertronian education.
"This might be a longer conversation than we have time for under the current circumstances," Optimus began.
"Optimus," Ratchet suddenly interrupted, pointing to a clearly blank monitor. "Energon detected in grid 4. Shall we investigate?
"By all means, Ratchet," Optimus replied, his tone thick with concern as he quickly stood to full height. "Set the landbridge to those coordinates. Miko, I apologize, but we will need to discuss the maintenance you witnessed another time."
And just as quickly, Optimus and Ratchet were gone. Miko, her arms still crossed, turned to glare at Bulkhead and waited, the silence thick, until he finally spoke.
"Umm...anyone wanna go...dune surfing?"