A Poem for Optimus Prime
He can’t be certain how his people came to be,
Can’t remember how his own spark first ignited in his frame
—Archivist, history-keeper, he should know these kinds of things—
Remember crawling up out of the Well of All Sparks...
Or recall whether Vector Sigma gave him soul...
Or know he was bolted together out of factory-built parts
(One of thousands of slaves imbued with the imperative to work, to build, to serve)
By some tentacled Quintesson…
All these are optional creation myths.
He doesn’t know which one, if any, is the true one.
Ought to know
But memory grows faulty after several million years
And all the records are lost or corrupted.
(All that work he put in cataloging contradictory
Archives went up in smoke)
And who knows, maybe the records lied.
He cannot quite remember how it was when he was young
Cannot be sure, despite his searching, whether life was good back then.
Was his other self a slave, or free
Or maybe just a little bit of both?
The information is fragmented.
Was he happy?
He thinks so.
He pictures young Orion laughing with bright Ariel and Dion
Before Megatron betrayed and shot them
And Orion became someone else entirely.
He can’t explain exactly what the Matrix is
Despite having it plugged into his circuits for uncounted million years.
The stories vary:
Sometimes the Matrix is a conduit to ask the ancients what they knew—
(Archivist, he likes the idea of carrying a repository of their wisdom)
Sometimes it’s a connection between him and all the others:
Every mech of Cybertron, living or dead
(All weigh on him
All pull on him
All cry out to him to be better)
One thing he does remember well
(But doubts the memory because it switches if he looks at it too long):
Is how it felt to wake up with a new thing in his chest.
To wake up in a brand-new, bigger body
With a bright light inside that called him to be better, braver, stronger, truer,
To become the prophet-leader of his people.
He does feel in his soul that it was not a thing he sought.
The Matrix built him strong to bear it
Built him Optimus standing taller than the others
It killed off the young Orion.
Left Elita widowed, in a way—
Though he tries daily to show her he’s still the same old foolish boy who loves her.
But Ariel is lost to him, just as Orion’s lost to her.
She changed too, when he changed.
Their old selves were killed in battle,
Though they still walk, resurrected but not quite the same.
Their old selves are like the old world:
A fond memory they aren’t quite sure is true.
The old world’s something else he thought he knew, but didn’t.
Something nigh-holy to return to
Beacon, anchor, compass, light—
An ideal to aspire to.
But then he found out about Nova
And it broke him for a while.
His predecessor, leader whose boots he was trying to half-fill...
Was a villain
As if someone had poured tar into the holy water
Acid in the holy water
Bitter past polluting his present
(Archivist, he ought to be prepared, to know these kinds of things!)
Maybe the record’s wrong?
But Prime knows this is wishful thinking
The pure past he thought he knew and loved was full of lies
Full of Deception.
He thought right and wrong were easy
But too many things are complicated
Memories change when he looks too closely at the records
Archivist, he ought to know these kinds of things,
But he was too long filing
Slotting everything into its place
Collecting information without really looking at it
Taking every byte for granted
He hides his face nowadays
Is this the reason?
Is he hiding more than the Orion Pax behind the Prime?
Hiding the weakness and the wrong within?
But he was so sure he was right
Now he asks questions of himself.
But he has to believe in something true
In something pure
Even if it never existed
Even if he made it up.
Because belief is at the core of him.
The core of Prime – of Optimus – even Orion Pax—
And since he’s not sure if the past is all as pure as he had thought,
He has to have faith in the now
He has to find and focus on the good
In fellow-mechs, in other races
Even in his enemies
He has to try
Because to do anything else would be contrary to his very nature
Would stop him from being not just the Prime, but Pax as well.
Optimus Prime believes in people
Believes even when they let him down
Will trust and hope and trust again
Despite deception and betrayal
It’s a weakness
But it’s the one thing he holds onto:
A warrior’s defiant faith.
A last-ounce shout of “Never!”
To the voice that tells him he ought to stop loving them
Give up on them
Give up on hope.
The key, the core, the heart, the soul
Of being Prime is faith.
A faith that’s big enough – most days –
To hold the future brightness of all possible good things
To let him smile at silly things
Be filled with joy
Because he chooses to be so.
In spite of ever-present doubt.
He chooses faith
Chooses to hope
It gives him and the ones who follow after light.
It makes Optimus... Prime