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Demon Prince

Chapter Text

The Iacon Central Jail towers over the city and also has several stories of cells underground. Twenty stories below the surface, the bottom structure of the jail is called the Burial Ground.

The Burial Ground is nowhere for burying prisoners, and those who die in the Central Jail are more likely to be straightly recycled into the Smelting Pool. Instead, the Burial Ground got its name because almost no one getting into it can ever leave: it is the best defensed part in the jail, and it keeps the prisons whose penalties are least likely to be abated.  

Each time the guards march a prisoner into the Burial Ground, they both see the mech on the wall at the end of its central hall as they pass by it.

Behind a transparent baffle board, the big mech is fastened onto the wall high above the ground by stasis restraining bands on his limbs and waist, and supported by wall shelves beneath his pedes. His red and blue armor covered by breakages and his optics dark, he looks lifeless except that he does yet turn grey.

The view is deterring for the guards and anyone coming for their duties. For the prisoners it is rather the visualized despair.

There is no one but knows this prisoner, once the hope of Cybertron and the Prime leading the Autobots to fight against the Warlord. Now he has reduced to this, who else going against the Decepticons can expect a salvation, and who that have submitted dare be disloyal?      

Optimus has been in the Burial Ground since the Decepticons won the war and ruled the entire Cybertron. Actually, he can see his surroundings, but for saving energy in his weakness, his optics only give dimmest light even when they are online.

The enemies have given him some repairs to prevent his further bleeding or infection, but also keep his energy level lower than adequate to perform self-healing. Restrained by the stasis bands and unable to move a finger, he can only live on the energon transfusion into his flank through a tube connecting to a bottle of energon on the wall. The amount of the supply is only as much as to keep him online.

Day after day, he has watched prisoners taken into the Burial Ground: some were his acquaintances, some unknown to him but carrying Autobot insignias, and some badgeless. There were also prisoners taken out, and most of them were back with all kinds of wounds from tortures, leaving energon traces by tripping and dragging on the floor or trailers carrying them. Those who never returned ended up in the Smelting Pool: by the time they were dragged out, some of them were still online, some had turned grey, and some were not even in one piece.

Every time he sees this, Optimus is almost thankful to the stasis restraining bands for making him unable to struggle or shiver. Whatever other Cybetronians may think, he always regards the miserable scene before him as his fault.

He can always kill himself to end such torture, but if he does, the elite soldiers captured together with him at their last battle will also be deactivated. Megatron has threatened that. Only for the chance of his soldiers to live did Optimus surrender and let the Warlord put him here for exhibition; now the soldiers are kept on Luna 2, working as slave miners.

Optimus knows that the Warlord wants the elite soldiers live all along. After all, Megatron will not eliminate all the Autobot soldiers and civilians that almost take up half of the population on the planet. If the elite soldiers are killed, others will regard them as martyrs, and can rather revolted in desperate, thinking that they will otherwise have the same fate. Letting the elite soldiers alive but gradually turn into scraps under the enslavement can pacify the civilians and is more deterring to Autobot sympathizers. But the Prime is also clear that if he refuses to submit to Megatron, his soldiers, at least part of them, will still be deactivated.

He has been locked up here for over one thousand and a hundred solar cycles. But his worst days actually ended more than one hundred solar cycles ago, when an uninvited guest came to him for the first time -

The side door of the hall opens. There enters an insentient drone for energy supply. The buzz of the drone, not really loud, echoes in the empty hall.  

The supply drone goes through the baffle board and onto the lifting table against the wall. The lifting table rises to Optimus’ side. The drone reaches out its mechanical arm, detaches his transfusion tube from the energon bottle, and sterilize the end of the tube by medicinal liquid. Shortly afterwards, it will change a new bottle of energon for him, and then get back to the floor and leave to send energon cubes to the cells.

Does this one come for ordinary supply, or…? Optimus cannot judge, but he is almost expecting the uninvited guest. During the countless staller cycles of wars, he has never hoped to meet that Cybertronian.

A hologram emerges before his optics as he is wondering.

The hologram is sent via a special private short-range communication signal directly into his processor, making him the only one seeing it. Under the surveillance videos and in the eyes of any guards possibly passing by, there is only air in front of him. The signal comes of the supply drone. He has met that guest for several times like this.

The guest - the flier in red, white and blue, is slender and glamorous even among the Seekers. This, though, has not impeded his becoming their Winglord and the Air Commander of the Decepticons.

Starscream is not putting on his trademark smirk. Moreover, Optimus notices at the first sight the new paints on his snow-white wings besides the purple Decepticon insignias. The new paints, seemingly made of temporal decorating sprays, compose an abstract silver-grey pattern in frosted texture.

It is a ribbon pattern formed by alternant insignias of two city-states, Vos and Tarn, each slightly overlapping its adjacent ones on the left and right.  

This classic design is undeniably beautiful on the Seeker, but Optimus is almost shocked at seeing it on him.

Before Optimus can ask anything, Starscream transfers him a data file and says in the communication channel:  

“Tonight, Rodimus will lead his entire troop to come for your rescue. On Luna 2, Jazz’s side will break out of the mine at the same time. You cannot get a faster energon transfuse under the surveillance, but I have changed your new bottle of energon into one with highly concentrated formula. By the time your mechs break the restraining bands on you, your energy level should enable you to move normally.”

The file is the detailed action plan of the Autobots tonight.