Bad enough that he had his own Autobots giving him second looks and being slow to respond to his commands, now he had Decepticons looking at him funny, as though he’d been replaced when they weren’t looking.
Ratchet promised he’d fix Optimus’ vocalizer as soon as he could. For poor Optimus, it wouldn’t come soon enough.
He’d gotten tired of repeating his override code to Teletraan, only to be locked out of the system when the super-computer remained unconvinced of his identity.
He didn’t like Red Alert jumping when Optimus spoke, because his recognition protocols kept stalling at the sound of Optimus’ voice. Especially when the one he was using was borrowed from an Autobot long dead.
Red Alert wouldn’t stop muttering about ghosts. And Ratchet told Optimus he’d remove his vocalizer entirely if Optimus didn’t stop surprising Red Alert.
Needless to say, he’d routed all conversations with Red Alert through Jazz or Smokescreen for the time being.
Worst of all, however, was how often he startled himself when he spoke. It was so jarring, when the voice you had known for thousands of years, was different. He didn’t recognize himself and it was quite disconcerting.
So when the alarm sounded, calling the Autobots to battle, Optimus was relieved. It was something familiar. Something that would help take his mind off the looks, of both confusion and disappointment. And if his pre-battle speech was not as rousing as usual, well, Optimus blamed that on the temporary vocalizer, too.
He rushed into battle with a roar, determined to protect the humans and drive Megatron away. If he was lucky, by the time he returned, Ratchet would have worked a miracle.
“Megatron!” Optimus shouted as he pounded across the battlefield. “Cease this mindless pillaging at once!”
He didn’t even turn to acknowledge Optimus’ presence. He fired a shot in Optimus’ general direction and continued to direct his troops as though Optimus wasn’t worth his time.
He didn’t even bother to check and see if that unfamiliar voice was a threat. It would have been amusing, if it hadn’t been an irritation compounding on top of irritations that Optimus had dealt with.
Optimus refused to be ignored.
He easily dodged the offhand shot and barreled his way toward Megatron. He shouted and that was all the warning Megatron received before Optimus tackled him from the side and to the ground.
“Who… Optimus Prime!?” Megatron shoved a fist toward him, his field rippling with surprise. “Where did you come from?”
“I am always here, Megatron. Just when you least expect it,” Optimus said as he jerked a knee toward Megatron’s mid-section and they grappled like schoolyard children.
“What the frag is wrong with your voice?” Megatron demanded, sounding horrified. “You, you’re not Optimus Prime! You’re a fake! A decoy!” Megatron snarled as though personally offended. “They dare taunt me with a false Prime!”
The whine of his fusion cannon powering up echoed through the air. And Optimus cycled a sigh.
This wasn’t going to be pretty.
Ratchet better get that damn part fixed soon.