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Demon Prince

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

The Burial Ground was nowhere for burying prisoners, and those who died in the Central Jail were more likely to be straightly recycled into the Smelting Pool. Instead, the Burial Ground got its name because almost no one getting into it could ever leave: it was the most heavily defensed part in the jail and kept the prisoners that were least likely to be abated.  

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

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

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

There was no one but knew this prisoner, once the hope of Cybertron and the Prime leading the Autobots to fight against the Warlord. Now he had reduced to this, who else going against the Decepticons could expect a salvation, and who that had submitted dared be disloyal?      

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

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

Day after day, he 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 saw this, Optimus was almost thankful to the stasis restraining bands for making him unable to struggle or shiver. Whatever other Cybetronians might think, he always regarded the miserable scene before him as his fault.

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

Optimus knew that the Warlord wanted the elite soldiers live all along. After all, Megatron would not eliminate all the Autobot soldiers and civilians that almost took up half of the population on the planet. The elite soldiers being killed would make them martyrs and could cause previous Autobot-aligned civilians to revolt in desperate, thinking that they would otherwise have the same fate. Letting the elite soldiers alive and turn into scraps enslaved could pacify the civilians and was more deterring to Autobot sympathizers. But the Prime was also clear that if he refused to submit to Megatron, his soldiers, at least part of them, would still be deactivated.

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

The side door of the hall opened. There entered an insentient drone for energy supply. The buzz of the drone, not really loud, echoed in the empty hall.  

The supply drone went through the baffle board and onto the lifting table against the wall. The lifting table rose to Optimus’ side. The drone reached out its mechanical arm, detached his transfusion tube from the energon bottle, and sterilized the end of the tube by medicinal liquid. It would 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 only, or…? Optimus could not judge, but he was almost expecting the uninvited guest. During the countless staller cycles of wars, he had never hoped to meet that Cybertronian.

A hologram emerged before his optics as he was wondering.

The hologram was 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 anyone possibly passing by, in front of him there was only air. The signal came from the supply drone. He had met that guest for several times like this.

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

Starscream was 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 seemed to be made of temporal decorating sprays and composed an abstract silver-grey pattern in frosted texture.

It was 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 was undeniably beautiful on the Seeker, but Optimus was almost shocked at seeing it on him.

Before Optimus could ask anything, Starscream transferred him a data file and said in the communication channel:  

“Tonight, Rodimus will lead his entire troop to come for your rescue. On Luna 2, Jazz will lead the break out of the mine at the same time. You cannot get a faster energon transfuse under the surveillance, but I have replaced 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 data file was the detailed action plan of the Autobots tonight.