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Choosing My Name, and Other Mistakes

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Choosing my Name, and Other Mistakes

a Memoir

By Rainbowsparkles of Tessarus-Minor

This golden disc was given to me by Optimus Prime, with orders to record everything I can remember on it. You probably think my life's not a worthwhile subject matter; and hey, I pretty much agree with you. But Prime said not to leave this room till everything has been recorded. I'll only get one pass at this – there's barely an hour before the ship blasts off into parts unknown. So forgive me if this comes out as a mess. Here goes.

I was built by two mechs who thought more femmes might make their world a better place. They hadn't spent more than five minutes with a real femme in millions of years, however; so when they started building, well... Let's be kind and say they meant well.

The first instant of my life was pain. A million senses I did not yet have a name for burned along my every conduit, and smashed into my brand-new cortex. I gasped, and my vents flew wide. White light shone through me, piercing every atom. And from the light, a Great Voice whispered, "Welcome."

Birth did not feel like a welcome. It felt like disintegration. So from the first, I haven't really trusted Primacron.

My heavy body dragged me down – an unknown mass around my spark. I tried to find and count and move its limbs, to not feel smothered by its weight. Then just as I was learning to survive within my body, its sensor equipment booted up, and the world started pressing in on me. Dark blobs and blurry lights swam in and out; muffled sounds crashed against my head; I inhaled and I exhaled, and each cycle felt like an eternity. "Who am I?" I asked the Voice. "What am I?"

But Primacron never did explain. It only responded with a question of its own: "What name do you choose for yourself, small one?"

I looked down at the bright spark in my chest. Watched how it danced and twirled with every color of the spectrum. I knew the name I wanted.

"Rainbowsparkles," I told the voice. "My name will be Rainbowsparkles." I did not know who or what I was, but I thought I'd found the most beautiful name possible.

I'm still miffed that Primacon, all-powerful creator so they say, did not warn me I was wrong about my name. Maybe Unicron the Destroyer was ascendant on the day that I was born.

Now, if anyone's reading this (I can't decide if should I hope it's read, or hope it rusts on some forgotten shelf), you're probably annoyed with me already. You're wondering why you decided to read this journal. I imagine you shaking your head, thinking, "Slag me, this mech's got issues!" All I can say is, please don't stop.

Because I'm not a mech. And that's the issue.

I'm a femme. A newling femme forged by two ex-frontline soldiers on what's still called (in implied capital letters), "Postwar Cybertron."

I thought my birth story might be useful to some of the science-types. After all, I bet none of you warborn mechs remember your own ignition. You were all forged so unimaginably long ago.

I want to make it clear that my creators weren't at fault for my peculiar "talent". They were just as surprised as I was. (Well, maybe not quite as surprised as I was, considering that it almost killed me.) I've since asked my sisters, and they told me my experience wasn't typical. (So don't worry too much, all you new dads out there.) Still though, being born's not for the faint of spark.

I met my makers spark-first; and it almost killed me.

I was a second or two old, and I still thought my name was wonderful. I turned my heavy head, (hearing its stiff, new abductor cables creak), and tried to make sense of the, well, the everythingness all around me. My still-calibrating optics fastened on two pulsing, glowing spheres of light; one fiery orange and one blueish-white: my makers' sparks. I didn't know what I was looking at. (I didn't even know what seeing was!) I only knew that those two dancing lights were beautiful. And that they loved me. I reached out a hand toward them.

But unfortunately, when your lifespan is still measured in seconds, downloading memories from two 11-million-year-old mechs will pretty much melt down all of your sizzling new circuits.

Apparently, I crumpled to the floor in an insensate, smoking, twitching pile of expensive metals. My poor makers were certain their last and hardest-fought-for newling was dead before she'd even claimed her name.

"-ke up! - pl-se, wake -!"

There were sounds again, scared, frantic sounds this time. Something was tugging at my edges, jostling me out of equilibrium. I felt nausea (an unwelcome new sensation) slosh somewhere inside. A moan rose out of my throat, and echoed around in my head. I wanted to explode and melt and die and never have been born.

"Sunst- d- you hear th-t? She's -!"

"She's brok-n!" (There was a sharp, angry, ringing sound from somewhere farther off. It hurt me. There was pain in it.) "Prima-, why -d you d- th-s? What -d we - wrong?"

I moaned again, and reached out to the pain-filled voice. It needed me. But I bumped against something hard much closer. Instantly, the whatever-it-was wrapped around me and lifted me. I felt gravity's downward tug like something wanting to absorb me. But thing holding me was warm.

"Sunstreaker! Get - here! She's not -!"

Something came clanging, clomping toward me. But I turned my head away. I was afraid to see those dancing lights, afraid of what they'd do to me if I looked into them again. I flung my arm across my face, and tried to keep my optics covered.

"Sh- moved!"

"I know! Get the -!"

Something (someone?) started gently putting all the tangled things inside me right again. Sharp smells and flashes of bright heat came and went. But I wasn't scared any more. Because the whole time, someone steady held me close, and murmured safe sounds into my recalibrating audial receivers.

I rebelled when they tried to pull my hands away from my optics, though.

"No," I groaned, revving up my arm-servos and gripping the front-flanges of my helm. "Don't want to see it." (I did though. Those lights had been so, so beautiful before they'd begun killing me!) My own spark clenched inside my chest, aching with grief that I would never again see something so lovely.

"Don't want to see what, sweetling?" The first voice I'd heard was low, and somehow barren.

"Beautiful lights. That hurt."

"What lights? Primu- Primacron? Did he hurt you?" This was that second voice, the angry one. "I'll find a way to kill 'im if he did." Someone was tugging at my hands: gently, carefully, but with unresistable persistence. "Thundercracker, what's wrong with her? What did she see?"

"No!" I wailed, as the tugging won and my hands came free from my face.

There were no lights. None that could hurt me, anyway. Just a soft white glow from a big ball-thing in the ceiling, and from veins that ran along the walls. It was a familiar glow. It reminded me of the Great Voice, the one who'd asked me what I wanted to be called. (I still thought Rainbowsparkles was a perfectly glorious name. This delusion would last me for another minute and a half.)

I let my taut body go slack. "They're gone," I said, wondering. "I guess everything's all right."

Two dark shapes whispered urgently together. About me. I didn't care.

"Can you stand? I want to make sure I've repaired everything." The one who'd held me took my hand and helped me to my feet. I steadied myself, and let go. I stood. So did they: two figures, bipedal like I was, the taller of them broad and hunched; the other straight and slim and proud. Both were looking intently at me.

"Who are you, please?" I asked them.

The shorter, yellow one stepped forward. He (I somehow knew they were both he's) was exquisitely formed – a lithe, blue-eyed mech so beautiful he almost made up for the loss of those two lights I had seen. "I'm Sunstreaker," he said. "I'm your maker."

"Hi." I waved awkwardly. "What's a maker?"

Sunstreaker laughed, and it was wonderful. I didn't know then what a rarity his laughter was; but I saw the taller blue mech raise an eyebrow in surprise. "I'll explain maker to you later, little one," Sunstreaker said. (This, I think, was the first of all the many, many awkward questions I would ask which no one wanted to answer.)

"Oh. Well, thanks for fixing me," I said lamely.

"You're welcome." He gave a little awkward bow.

I turned to the larger one. His back was to the softly glowing globe in the ceiling, so his wide wings cast us both in shadow. But though I only saw him as a dark shape from which stared two unblinking red optics, I was unafraid. Because he was the one who'd held me. I knew I was safe with him. That he was someone I could depend on. I still feel that way about Thundercracker.

"Thanks for not giving up on me," I said. "Who are you?"

He smiled – I could tell because I saw his optics crinkle – and told me his name. "I'm your other maker," he explained.

"You know our names," said Sunstreaker, "What's yours, little one?"

I looked down into the spinning, changeful light within my chest, and felt the warmth of selfhood surging through me. I pressed my hands against my chest, and for a moment, even the cool metal felt alive. "I'm Rainbowsparkles," I said proudly. "Isn't that a great name?"

"PFFFT!" Sunstreaker clamped a hand over his mouth, and turned away, his shoulders heaving with suppressed laughter. (I've never quite forgiven him for that.)

I looked up at Thundercracker hopefully. But he was faring little better; his face was all squinched-up, and he kept twitching.

"What's wrong with my name?" I demanded. "Yours are long, too!"

Thundercracker tried. He really did. "It's not the length, Rainb- Rainbow-" He took a second, shook his head, shunted his vocalizer, got control. "...Rainbowsparkles. It's only- We're not used to names that..." (His optics rolled upward pleadingly) "...names that don't sound tough."

I dropped my gaze from his, embarrassed. Should I have chosen something more fierce? I wracked my brand-new brain for options. Standoff? Quick-Kick? Pulverizer? None of those fit me; at least, not that I could tell. I stared through Thundercracker, trying to think up a name I liked half as well as I loved Rainbowsparkles. But then something caught my eye. I stopped. I pointed. "The lights," I choked. "The lights that hurt. They're inside you!" I stumbled back from him, and looked down into my own spark for safety and reassurance. It was bright with every color of the spectrum. I was a living, spinning, swirling soul, alight with hundreds of new questions.

Alight...

Lights...

"The lights. Lights that hurt. They're not just in you. They are you." I risked a fearful glance toward Thundercracker and Sunstreaker, my makers. Back into those beautiful pale-white-blue and flaming-orange lights. Their sparks. Their souls. Them.

And all I saw was love for me. Everything ancient and hurt and broken and defiled was overwhelmed in that instant by their love. For me. And who was I to deserve it? I'd just been born!

Thundercracker moved quickly to support me as my knees buckled. He put a gentle hand over my optics. "It's all right, little one," he said. "I understand it, now."

Sunstreaker took my other arm, and helped me sit before I fell. "You think she's really seeing our sparks?" he whispered. "How can she do that? Did you program her to do that?" There was anger in his voice now. I was afraid of him.

"Of course I didn't program her for this! Did you?"

"No! Who do you think I am? I don't even know how to program something like that!"

Thundercracker sighed. "I don't think anyone does, 'Streak."

I raised my head tentatively. "What's wrong with me, please?" I quavered.

"Nothing!" Their voices came in unison. But I wasn't sure that they believed it.

Thundercracker patted me carefully, like I might explode if he did it wrong. "Nothing's wrong with you, Rainbow. You're just... different."

They were so patient with me, that first day. There on the floor of the Creation Chamber, in the light of Primacron itself, they worked tirelessly with me on a problem which they must have both found incredibly creepy. I mean, what is all that armor for, if not to hide sparks? And here I was, hinting that I could see what they were thinking, every repressed memory, all the failures of which they were most ashamed? That cannot have been comfortable for them. But back then I only cared about my own discomfort. I hid from the things I didn't like.

But they persisted. And may Primacron bless them for it. Because they never once made me feel any less loved for my mutation.

Through long hours of trial and error, I learned to focus on optics, instead of sparks. It takes practice to not stare at the brightest lights in the room, but I had a strong incentive. I liked living. I liked being sane. Gradually I learned to keep half-blind, to decode what my makers wanted to convey through their words, facial expressions, and body language; rather than simply reading the truth inside their sparks. Long after dark, when I'd grown overconfident and cranky, (and my two wiser makers thought I might avoid outright collapse), we finally left the Chamber of Vector Sigma. We hiked up tunnels and more tunnels, and emerged into the night. That's when I saw my planet for the first time.

We walked, because I'd spent all day learning to ignore half of what my optics sensors told me, instead of practicing basic functions like transforming or driving. I didn't mind walking though. Out here there were so many things that I could look at! Roads and buildings, stars and clouds were all blessedly sparkless. Safe. Of course, I didn't know what any of them were. So I asked question after question.

"What's that?" I pointed up at a tall, dark shape in the night. "It's beautiful!"

Sunstreaker's vocalizer hummed, and he seemed to grow a few inches.

"Don't get too cocky, Mr. Artist," Thundercracker warned. "She's gonna think everything's beautiful for the first day or so."

"Little do you know." Sunstreaker turned his back on Thundercracker, and put an arm around my shoulders. "That's one of the towers I helped design, Rainbow."

"What are all those little lights on it?"

"People live up there." He pointed. "Every light you see is a window. And behind every window is a Transformer just like you, sipping an evening's cube of energon, or reading the latest news, or settling in for an hour's recharge."

"What're those?" I pointed, as small colored objects streaked across the sky.

Thundercracker smiled fondly. "Those are mechs who can fly. Like you. You'll join them up there soon enough. I'll show you."

"Like me? But they're so small!"

Sunstreaker laughed. "They're very far away, sweetling. Close up, most of them are just as big as you are."

"And none of them are shooting at each other, more's the wonder," Thundercracker muttered.

I almost asked what he meant by that ominous statement. But then we moved out onto a roadway. And I learned that, despite what my makers had said, the other transformers were nothing like me.

They were – all of them – mechs.

"Remember what we practiced!" Thundercracker hissed into my audial. I nodded, making sure I focused on metallic surfaces, never beneath optics and armor. Sunstreaker pressed in close beside me. So did Thundercracker. We kept tripping over one another's feet.

We soon caused a small traffic jam, as every bot on the road slowed to stare at us. At me. A crowd of bots surrounded us, in colors just as various as the ones in my fast-beating spark. Out of it zoomed a wheeled blue speeder, which skidded to a halt some feet away. Then in a graceful, liquid movement, it unfolded into a robot on two legs. My mouth fell open. That transition was the second most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

"How did he-?"

"Hush little one. You'll do it too, soon enough," Thundercracker whispered, his arm tightening around my shoulders.

"Hey Sunny!" called the blue mech. "Got a new femme? Lemme see!"

Beside me, my yellow maker tensed. "Back up, Blurr. This one's delicate."

"They're all 'delicate' or 'fancy' or 'experimental'. You and Thundercracker don't know the meaning of the word 'overkill'."

"Overkill's a cassetticon living up around Simfur. You're the one who's confused."

"Primus beneath us, Sunny. That's the worst pun I've heard since the War ended."

"Blurr, I'm gonna punch your face in if you call me 'Sunny' one more time. Also, back off. I'm not kidding."

The blue bot backed off a scant step, but he was hopping with excitement. He darted from side to side, trying to peer around my makers and get a better look at me. "I see you gave her wheels, at least. Color looks weird, though."

"That's none of your concern, Blurr," Thundercracker warned. "Now go back your beloved road, and give her space!"

"Ooohh, tetchy aren't we, Mr. Nice-Guy-Now, Best-Buddy Decepticon. I was just looking at her. Ease up! You've got, what, eight now? You can afford to start sharing."

Thundercracker's jet-engines revved. He raised an arm, and pointed the long tube-thing on it at the fidgety blue mech. From the tube came a low, teeth-grinding hum. "Blurr, I am not your 'buddy.' And this certainly is not your femme. Now drive away."

Blurr held his hands up. "Hey pal, you know the rules. No shooty-shooty." He turned to Sunstreaker. "You gonna let him talk to me that way, Streaks?"

Sunstreaker crossed his arms and stood between me and the unknown bot. "Yes. Tonight, yes. You'd better go."

I watched in apprehensive awe as the blue mech transformed back down into a speedy-looking car. It pushed aside the other onlookers, and drove away with a long squeal of tires, leaving behind the acrid smell of scorched rubber. After a moment, the other bots slunk off as well. What had any of that weird standoff meant? I did not know how to begin to ask.

"This is insane," growled Thundercracker. "We've got to get her home before more gawkers find us."

Sunstreaker sighed. "Now that Blurr knows, we can assume the entire province will have heard of it by morning. Wish we could make them without every other bot making such a big deal about it."

Thundercracker snorted. "It isn't like you not to want an audience... 'Sunny.'"

Sunstreaker shoved him. "Shut up, you fragging glitch-face! Can you carry her on your back in jet-mode? Since she's still not able to transform..."

"No, I get it. Good idea." Thundercracker let go of my hand. "Give me some room, sweetie."

Like Blurr, he also folded out and down, becoming a sleek, swept-wing shape. His motion was nowhere near as dance-like as Blurr's had been. And his parts clanged together roughly. Still, my spark flared painfully at the simple perfection of it. I walked over and ran one hand along his wing, in silent awe.

"Climb on," he said. "And hold on tight."

"Don't slagging drop her!" Sunstreaker warned.

"I'd kill myself if I did," Thundercracker muttered, as I clambered onto his broad back. I shut my eyes, and locked my arms around him. Then his engines roared, and the ground fell away. By the time we made it home, I was asleep.