“Lord Prime, do you have your representing creation?” A small green femme entered the office of the High Prime Lord's office with a datapad in her servo. She knew how important this potential alliance was for all of Iacon. Sitting at a desk was a large blue and red mech with his attention aimed at the terminal in the corner of the desk.
He looked away from the terminal to respond. “I do, my nephew Mirage. And the wilds leader? Has he made contact since the initial conversation?”
“No sir, but his translator from before is here to speak with you.” She folded her servos in front of her.
“Oh? Well bring him in.” He sat up straighter and the femme bowed her helm before leaving briefly. She returned with a visored mech that had small crystals wrapped around his arms, legs, and a few hung from his neck. “Lord Prime, may I present Wilds Clan member Jazz.”
Jazz smiled and bowed before stepping closer to the Prime. “My leader extends his apologies for not coming himself, but he is preparing his heir for the ceremony. I was sent to deliver the document on the eldest son that will be involved, as well as the signed contract.”
The mech pulled out the datapads from the satchel that was across his frame. He sat them on the desk before stepping back. Optimus took the datapads and looked at them before looking at Jazz quizzically. “There was an addition to the contract. It says that he wishes to stay in Iacon for a deca-cycle before the bonding ceremony.”
“Oh, right! Father Ultra Magnus wishes next Father Hound to spend time with your candidate in his natural environment. As well as have a chance to further learn your language. If you are okay with that.” Jazz smiled.
“I have no issue with that, I will have to let Mirage's guardian know. Will you be staying with Hound?” Optimus inquired as he sat down the datapads. He knew that the datapad on Hound's personal information would help Mirage, who was less than pleased to be handed off to the Wilds clan, but after nearly a century of fighting they came to an unsteady agreement.
The visored mech continued to smile, “if next Father Hound wishes for me to stay. If there isn't anything else to discuss, I should return before the rains come.” He bowed once more before turning and left to return to his clan.
The Wilds clan claimed a very large land, they had to in order to fuel everyone. The clan consisted of eighty mechs and femmes, not including the mecha-animals they kept. They may not have been the most technologically advanced people, but they lived happily without the large structures and the noise of the city. Their homes were carved out of the mountainside, they made all of their furniture by servo, and they had solar powered systems to properly light their homes.
Jazz finally returned by nightfall and was greeted by laughing younglings. He greeted them all with rubbing their nasal ridges together. They ran off when a large mech walked over to him with a dark green mech beside him. Jazz bowed with the traditional greeting. “My father, my future father.”
“Jazz, what news do you bring of the outlanders?” The tall blue and red mech asked after the greeting.
“He accepted the change of terms and will expect Hound a deca-cycle before the ceremony. He also welcomed my stay if Hound wants me to stay.” Jazz informed his leader before going on. “I also got a name, but no face of the future Inamorata. Mirage.”
The green mech finally spoke, he was still nervous over the whole arrangement. “Mirage. Sire maybe we can have Inferno go find out more about him?” Hound had belt of clear crystals going across his waist and then bright pink crystals wrapped around his upper right arm.
“No Hound, it will be during your visit.” Ultra Magnus had a layered necklace of colorful crystals. His left arm had black tribal markings painted on and his right arm was decorated in crystals.
“I know Sire, but I only wish to know what he is like.” Hound sighed before looking at Jazz. “Could you stay with me? You know more about the outlands than me.” The young mech was practically raised by Jazz whenever his Sire wasn’t around. And during the war between their clan and the outlanders, Jazz was always going there to gather intel for them along with recuing their people if they were captured. And because of this, Jazz was the most fluent in their language than anyone in the clan.
The mech nodded with a chuckle, “as you wish.”
In Iacon, a white and blue mech was sitting at the dining table with a plate of energon along with other items. Beside him was a white and black Praxian as he was going over a datapad. “Lord Mirage, you have to at least try and learn about their culture. The mech that made this, is extremely detailed and his Iaconian is amazing.”
“I don't want to learn about how those… things live. I'm a mech of nobility, actual nobility Prowl. I never wanted this, and now I'm being kicked from my home to go frag some gross old mech that lives in a jungle.” He set his glass down with his arms crossed over his chest. Mirage wanted to go back to the towers, back to his bachelor life, and never see his uncle again for doing this.
“You know exactly why you are being involved. And from the information on your future mate, Hound is actually around your age.” Prowl sat the datapad down.
Mirage groaned with annoyance before standing with his energon in his servo. “I'm going to my room.” He grumbled before going to his chambers with anger evident in his field. The mech didn't want to be mated off to some uncultured bot that was probably covered in rust and mud. The picture that was forming in the mech's processor was causing his tanks churn.
He went over to his large berth and sat down with a heavy ex-vent. The noble chugged his energon before throwing the glass at his door. Mirage didn't want to be handed off as some peace treaty. He laid down with the thermal blanket consuming his entire frame. The mech didn't want to think about his impending doom.
When Mirage was with his uncle it was nearly seven solar cycles after his discussion with Prowl, he was listening to him talking about the plans for that day. He spit out his energon in surprise when he heard what the Prime had said. Everyone at the table all looked at Mirage as his face contorted into disgust at the state he was now in.
“What did you just say? They're coming here? No, no way Uncle! It's bad enough I'm being forced to live with them, but to be seen with them!?” The young noble slammed his servos on the table with anger in his words.
“Mirage, that is enough. This arrangement is for the good and safety of both of our people. Their leader was a nice mech and spoke highly of his son. Hound and their translator is stay only for a deca-cycle so you two can get to know each other. He wishes to know our way of life to please you.” Optimus remained calm as he explained.
“If you wanted to have this peace so badly, then why not have one of the others do this!? I'm losing everything while everyone else gets something out of this stupid arrangement.” Mirage revved his engines in anger.
The Prime rose to his peds, which got everyone at the table to stop moving in astonishment and fear. “Mirage, enough of this sparkling attitude. All of the other lords with the same rank as you are already in a mating contracts. You were the only one that had yet to accept someone. You are going to be polite to our guests and stop judging these people, they are going to be your family soon.”
The white and blue mech sat back in his chair with his arms crossed. He looked away from his uncle with a frown on his face. “You can't make me love him.”
“No, but you may actually like them if you pushed aside your pride and prejudices.” The large red and blue mech slowly sat back down at the contact of his mate.
“Mirage dear, I was like you once. Before your uncle and I mated, I thought all Primes were arrogant and only cared about themselves. When I took the time to get to know him, I realized that I was wrong and now my only regret is that I didn't see that sooner.” His aunt was a white and pink femme. Her sister was Mirage's Carrier and became his legal guardian when both of his creators deactivated when he was young.
That mid-cycle Mirage was being detailed for the meeting. He didn't talk much as he looked at his reflection. The noble was pulled out of his thoughts when he heard the echo of the front door being knocked on. I am not ready for this. The detailers stepped back with proud smiles on their faces at their work.
“Is this to your expectations Lord Mirage?” A turquoise Tarn femme asked as she sat the paint brush into the bucket.
“It's fine.” He said quietly before the door to his washroom was opened. The mech looked up to see Prowl entering. “Are they here?”
The Praxian nodded, “they are in the study with Lord Prime and Lady Elita. If you're ready, I'll take you there.”
The polished mech looked at his reflection one more time before nodding. The mechs went down to the study, Prowl opened the doors and Mirage stopped in the doorway when he saw a forest green mech, lightly decorated in crystals, stand up from the couch. Their optics locked for an uncomfortable amount of time before the smaller multicolored Polyhexian tapped the mech on the arm.
He started clicking what almost sounded like gears. The green mech looked in realization before turning to the satchel that was sitting on the couch. He pulled out a long strand of thing wires that had a dozen small clear crystals with four larger blue crystals in the center. Hound walked towards Mirage and held it out in front of him.
He looked unsure about something, but finally spoke. “Gift. Your tradition, yes?”
Mirage nodded before taking it carefully. “It is. My name is Mirage.”
Hound looked slightly confused before looking back at the visored mech. They started clicking back and forth, and the green mech nodding in understanding. “Hound. Do you… like?”
“It is very unique. I've never seen anything like it.” Mirage answered honestly as he looked at it longer.
“Young lord, why don't we take his conversation to the couches?” Prowl advised with a gesture. Mirage nodded and Hound was quick to return to the other mech's side. The Iaconians sat on the couch across from them. “I'm Lord Mirage's guardian as well as his tutor.” He held his servo out to the visored mech.
He smiled and accepted the gesture before sliding his servo further up the Praxian's arm. “Jazz, I am many things in the clan, but I believe your Prime has labeled me as the translator. We know it isn't your way to have the participants of a courtship meet, but it would be smarter to combine both cultures.”
“I agree with you. And I have been reading that datapad you made for the young lord about your people. I'm impressed by how fluent you are.” Prowl answered politely.
While the two mechs spoke, Mirage was studying Hound quietly. He would look away when Hound's gaze would make its way over to him. The noble looked up and saw that Hound was staring at him. “Yes?”
“You are… unhappy.” Hound could smell it coming from his future bonded. He could tell that Mirage was not happy with any of this. Hound felt extremely out of place in such an expensive place. He probably thinks we roll around in mud and act like animals.
“I… was not expecting to be mated off so soon.” Mirage could practically hear his uncle telling him to be polite. He wanted to voice his actual thoughts, but he was still a mech of nobility and wasn't going to give up his way of life for a bunch of wild mechs. “Are you staying here for your visit?”
Hound was still learning the language to better communicate with Mirage, but it was going to take longer than a quick visit. He did catch onto a few words and his processor filled in the gaps with what made the most sense. “No. Staying at the um-" the green mech looked at his friend for help.
“We are staying at one of the guest houses on the property. Did you have any questions or concerns about our traditions?” He directed his question at Mirage. Jazz knew that Hound was uncomfortable with being in here, just because everything looked so extravagant.
Prowl went to answer Mirage, but the young lord was faster. “Housing? How do you recharge?”
“Well it's not as big or amazing as you lot, but we make do.” Jazz smiled before talking to Hound, and a model sized hologram of the mountain they lived at appeared on the table between them. “We carved our homes into the mountainside. We have our lääkäri… medic in a separate structure in case of viruses happen. There is a large dugout where we hold meetings and celebrations. At the top of the mountain is where the leader lives. When you and Hound are done with your traditional honeymoon, you'll be living there.”
I go from living in a mansion, almost a palace, to living in a cave! I may as well be stripped of my title. All of my friends will laugh at me. Mirage stiffly nodded, biting his glossa to prevent the groan of disgust at having tiny Insecticons or whatever crawling all over him. “What do you do for fun Hound?”
“Exploring, scouting, collecting stuff.” Hound smiled excitedly as he held onto the satchel in his lap. “And you?”
“I usually spend time in the shopping district. We do sometimes hunt for sport.” Mirage answered his question.
The two mechs looked at the noble in shock. Prowl took their reaction as a negative blow to their beliefs. “I can have that activity removed from the roster during your stay.” Hound continued to frown at the thought of someone finding enjoyment in killing for fun. He looked at Jazz and clicked at him.
Jazz answered him before translating for their hosts. “We would appreciate that. We do not find enjoyment in killing unnecessarily. Even if an animal is being a nuisance to our clan, we try to relocate it and only kill it if it returns. Even then we mourn its deactivation.”
“I see.” Prowl nodded before looking at the two mechs. “Young Lord, perhaps we could show our guests the stables?”
“Okay.” He stood up and sat the gift on the table. Hound looked at himself and then at Jazz. He started clicking again.
Jazz tilted his helm with confusion before nodding. “Hound is right, we've had a long journey here. Maybe we should get some rest, perhaps a later time to have a tour?”
Prowl's wings perked in surprise, “that sounds okay. Would you like to join the family for fueling this evening?”
“We'll love too. Thank you.” Jazz led Hound to their temporary home. When they entered the large guest house, the Polyhexian looked at the green mech. “Hound, you were so excited on the way here. What's wrong?”
“Me. This whole thing Jazz! Mirage could give two scraps about me, the clan, or the bonding! He was disgusted with everything being said.” Hound sat on the couch with a distressed sound, his helm going into his servos. “I don't want to spend the rest of my functioning with a mech that hates me.”
Jazz smiled softly before sitting down beside the mech. He slid an arm around the other mech's arm. “Hound, do you remember when your Sire found me? And brought me to the clan? I was absolutely terrified of the unknown, I hated him for a long time but then I realized that the clan offered me more than anything the world I came from could. Mirage is just blinded by the prejudices and lies he was told. Just show him what we are truly like.”
The forest green mech looked at the multicolored mech quietly. “But how can I show him when he hates us? He only accepted my gift because he had too, not because he wanted. Maybe this trip was a bad idea.”
“Now don't be like that Hound, give it time. Just be yourself.” Jazz cupped Hound's face with a supportive smile. “Get some recharge, I'll wake you when we have to go to the evening meal.”
The future leader nodded before going up to one of the berth rooms. He looked at the luxurious room, only guessing how much time all off this took to make. The mech went over to the mirror that stood across from the berth, looking at his reflection. Hound normally didn't see anything wrong with how he looked but seeing how Mirage reacted to his tribal painting and his jewelry.
The mech started carefully removing the crystals until he reached for the light green and sky-blue crystal necklace. Hound smiled at the memories the simple jewelry gave him. He turned around when he saw a door connected to his room. The mech looked at the door he entered through but shook his helm.
If I am going to impress Mirage, I need to do things on my own. Hound entered the room and his sensory system was insulted by the smells that were building up behind the closed door. He bit his lip in uncertainty of everything that was there. Hound walked to a large white bowl like object, with a curious tilt of his helm.
A chuckle brought him out of his thoughts. Jazz was standing in the doorway with his arms crossed and his ankles crossed. “It's called a tub, it fills up with water, and it's used to get cleaned. Only thing I miss about the city, hot water.” The Polyhexian laughed before walking over and pushed the stopper down, and then turned on the water.
“Do you miss being with the outlanders?” Hound asked as he watched the water pour out of the faucet.
“Naw, too many rules and it was every mech for himself. No one really thought of everyone else, how their actions affected everyone. The clan is my family, my home now.” Jazz gestured at the filled tub. Hound hesitantly got in until the water came up mid-chest. The green mech groaned at the feeling of the hot water coaxing his cables to relax. Jazz laughed and grabbed a cloth, dunking it in the water before cleaning the mech. “If Father had another creation, I wouldn't see the problem in letting you decide if you wish to stay with the clan or not.”
Hound nodded in understanding with the statement. “Because the grieving cycle isn't over. Can I be the one to answer that involve our customs? I need the practice of speaking the language and Mirage could learn about us. Will there be other leaders at this meal? What if they say something about the clan?”
“Sure, I don't see the problem in that. If there is any translation issues, I'll help. As for others at the meal, I'm not entirely sure. I was never wealthy enough to dine with nobles before I joined the clan.” Jazz gently rubbed the paint off. “Fears and nerves out of the way, what do you think of the Lord?”
The green mech smiled at the thought of Mirage. “He's nice looking and bright too. Thank you for coming with me, I don't think I would be able to stay so calm without you.”
“I'll do anything for the clan and for you. All you need to do is ask.” Jazz wiped the paint off of Hound's cheek plate. Hound knew he could rely on Jazz to help him with any situation he had. “You have to realize Hound, relationships, no matter how it came to be, take both parties to make it work. You don’t have to do things that make you uncomfortable just to impress anyone.”
He nodded and held onto the crystals that were around his neck. “I know, but I want to have somewhat of a fighting chance.” The mech looked at the water that had turned into a rainbow of colors from all of the paint that was on his frame.
After the bath, Hound and Jazz went back to their rooms and take a small nap before the meal. When it came for the meal, they arrived back at the manor where the Prime, his mate, Prowl, Mirage, and several other mechs and femmes were gathering in the dining room. Hound had only the necklace around his neck to show where he came from, Jazz had stripped the markings except for the small one that wrapped around his forearm.
There were two empty spots besides Mirage, and Jazz told Hound that he was to sit beside his future mate. The nervous mech sat down and looked at Mirage briefly before looking at the spot in front of him. “Your markings are gone.” Mirage pointed out after some time.
“I thought you would… prefer it this way.” Hound rolled the large crystal in his digits. He looked at the others at the table, noticing all of the stares.
“So, what do your people call you, Hound?” Optimus asked as the servants brought out plates with assorted miniature energon cubes.
Hound looked at the Prime with a smile, “next Father until I… take over the clan. Then I will be Father. Mirage replaces Jazz as the Inamorata.”
Elita-one looked at the visored mech for clarification. Jazz finished the cube that he had in his mouth before answering. “Inamorata is like what you are, as the Inamorata you help the clan and help the Father with whatever is needed.”
“So, Hound is-" the pink femme looked between the two.
“Oh, no Hound is not mine. His Carrier was… taken from the clan when Hound was young.” Jazz said all that was needed to get the point across.
Hound was looking at the other diners, trying to get a clue as to how to eat the cubes that he hadn't touched yet. Mirage leaned close to help him, after some silent gestures from Prowl. “The blue ones are normal energon, pink is sweet, orange is acidic, and yellow is more on the heated side.”
The mech relaxed slightly and picked up one of the blue cubes like the others at the table. A white and red mech looked at the guests and decided to introduce himself. “My name is Ratchet, personal medic for the family. I am curious as to how you have survived so long without the technological advances we have.”
Hound looked confused at the mech, try to translate it in his processor. He looked at Jazz for help, and Jazz took that hint. “We have someone who takes care of our medical needs. If it's something we cannot do on our own, I come to the cities to get the equipment needed.”
“And sparklings? They can't survive without upgrades to protect them from viruses.” Ratchet placed a firm servo on the table, Hound snapped to attention. “We were only trying to integrate you lot into society for your own protection.”
Hound shook his helm, “we don't need them installed. Our bodies… evolved and we are sparked with them.”
Jazz grabbed Hound's servo and started clicking. The dark green mech relaxed and looked away. Jazz looked at the medic with an apologetic smile. “I understand that you only want what you think is best for us, but why change what doesn't need fixing? Our people only retaliated because you were taking our home away, killing our own. And in the heat of a battle confused your own for a member of the clan, and permanently scarred them.”
The others at the table all stared at Jazz who folded his servos under his chin. Hound looked at Mirage, “do you like the stars?” He wanted to get to know about the mech that he was about to spend the rest of his life with.
“If you haven't realized we're in the middle of a city. Can't exactly see the sky.” Mirage said as he avoided optic contact.
“Right.” Hound frowned and chose to just refuel quietly the rest of the meal. He wanted to make this mating work for the sake of both people, but when you have a stubborn intended mate it was hard to do your duty.
Mirage was watching the green mech beside him and saw how miserable he looked. When he saw that he was not covered in paint and crystals, a part of him was taken aback by the gesture of wanting to appeal to him. He looked at his Uncle as he was in the middle of a discussion with his advisor, Roadbuster. “Uncle, may I be excused?”
“Yes.” He answered curtly before going back to the conversation.
The young noble stood up and looked at the green mech. “Come on, we had discussed about seeing the stables." Hound looked up at Mirage in surprise and looked at his guardian before looking back up at Mirage. He quickly stood up and followed Mirage outside the back of the manor.
The two said nothing as they walked to a building that was smaller than the guest houses, but Hound could already tell that there were a lot of creatures inside. The mech took a deep intake as he took in all of the smells, smiling happily. Mirage opened the doors, lights brightened the large stable, and Hound was instantly excited when he saw a few chronohorses.
Hound stepped in front of stall that had a large violet and silver chronohorse standing inside it. Mirage went to warn him that it wasn't trained yet, but the green mech held his servo out with soft clicks. The elongated helm bobbed with neighs as it moved around in the stall. After a few moments the chronohorse gently pressed its snout in Hound's servo. “Wow, she has never let us touch her.” Mirage looked at the mech as he rubbed their faces together. Probably doesn't even know what I'm saying. Primus could have at least learned some words before coming.
“I used to play in the fields with a herd of chronohorses when I was small.” Hound looked at the mech with a smile on his face. “Sorry if I'm slow on my… conversing. My processor is still adapting. Jazz has been helpful in teaching me.”
The mech looked at the mecha-animal and then Mirage. He took his servo, placing it gently in the end of the snout. “Does she have… name?”
“Name? Don't be ridiculous, it's just an animal.” Mirage dropped his servo and looked at him as if he said the oddest thing ever.
Hound laughed softly with a shake of his helm. “Naming forms bond. She may respect you.” He leaned his back against the gate, the animal sat her helm on his shoulder, and he started laughing from her nibbling at his frame.
“Then you name her.” Mirage crossed his arms with his helm turned to look at the other mech-animals that were either watching or doing whatever it was they did. Hound sighed and shook his helm before looking back at the creature. The noble mech looked at his intended mate with his arms folded behind his back. “What do you suggest for name?”
A soft, thoughtful hum came from the larger mech before he answered with a smile aimed at the other. “Ära. It means honor.”
Honor? Mirage nodded thoughtfully as he looked at the chronohorse. “Can you say it again?”
Hound nodded and fully faced his intended, saying it at a slower speed. Mirage attempted at saying the word, but the green mech shook his helm with chuckles. “No, no, no. Roll ‘r' like revving engines. Ära.”
“Ära?” Mirage said slowly and saw the big grin on Hound's lips. “Perhaps we could take some time out of our schedules, and teach each other some words?”
I suppose Hound isn't too much of a wild creature if he's being so civil. Mirage thought to himself. Hound nodded with a smile. “I would like that. Teach me a word.”
Mirage knew it was a request, but he figured stating what he wanted was easier for Hound. He lifted a servo to his chin in thought. The mech wanted to give him an easy word to learn, but he couldn't think of one. Until his optics landed on Hound's chest, and he got his word. “Spark. We will start with that one.”
Hound attempted at saying it, getting stuck when he kept hitting the middle of the word. Mirage shook his helm and helped him along. “The ‘a' makes the same sound as it does as it does in my name.” He pronounced both words slowly, exaggerating each sound. Hound copied Mirage, only saying it normally when he saw the small approving smile.
The two were interrupted when Hound caught sight of Jazz and Prowl walking into the stables. The visored mech started clicking and spoke their language. “Hound, it's time to return to the guesthouse. I'm going to be taking you into the city for sightseeing.” The two Iaconians looked at the two as they continued speaking in a calm manner.
The green mech nodded before looking at Mirage. “Will I see you tomorrow?”
Mirage turned to his guardian for his schedule, which got Hound to look at Prowl too. The Praxian pulled up his charge's list for the next day. “You have a morning meeting at the café with the twins, a meeting with the Lord Prime mid-cycle, but after that you are free.”
“Not until the evening unless my meetings end sooner.” Mirage shortened what Prowl had said for Hound's sake. Hound nodded, seemingly understanding the busy schedule. “I will see you tomorrow.”
Hound smiled and nodded, “I look forward. Night.”
Jazz put a servo on Hound's back and led him to the house. “You seem happy. Guessing you are reconsidering about this being a bad idea? What would you like to see tomorrow?”
“Do you have to ask?” Hound gave him a cheeky grin, and Jazz shook his helm with a laugh. “Jazz, do the outlanders not appreciate the animals? Mirage was surprised when I asked for the chronohorse’s name.”
The Polyhexian nodded, “they don't see the point in naming things that will deactivate.”
“But we give our creations names, and we all deactivate one day. These outlanders are confusing about their beliefs in life. What do they think of me? That lääkäri was very angry at us.” Hound looked down at the shorter mech.
“There is still slight tension, but that's to be expected after a war. The Prime understands that it will take you and your future Inamorata to form a connection. And he is right, it does take time for emotions to form. Did I ever tell you that your Sire saw me as a reminder of your Carrier's deactivation? I blamed the clan for everything that happened to me, but then our entire viewpoint of each other changed one lunar cycle.” Jazz love Hound as if he was his own creation.
The mech listened to the visored mech quietly. He had heard the story about how Jazz had run away from the clan, going deep into the forbidden section of the forest, and his Sire rescued him from a pack scavengers. “I want to make it work with Mirage, but I can tell he doesn't. How can I convince him to give it a chance?”
“Just be honest with him and be yourself. Now, get some recharge Hound. We have a lot to do tomorrow.” Jazz gave the mech a hug and a kiss on the top of his helm.
Hound returned the hug before going to his room. He looked at the berth with a bit of recognition, but it wasn't as artful as the ones they made for their homes. The mech took all the pillows from the head of the berth, tossing them all on the floor, and he laid on top of the blankets. He had all the windows open and he allowed a smile to slide on his lips as he drifted into stasis.