Making a Cybertronian, Pt 1 - Forging
“Where do Cybertronians come from?”
Well, it depends, my friend. But for a starter, we’ll talk about Forging- which is where the majority of Cybertronians originated for a long time. Forging is perhaps considered the most “typical” or “natural” way for Cybertronians to be born by most.
Forging begins with an energy discharge building under the surface of Cybertron or Luna-1 - this can occur in seemingly random locations, rarely, but more likely this will occur at a “hotspot” or an established “sparkfield”. A hotspot is a one-time ignition of multiple sparks in the same area, whereas sparkfields continually generate sparks, sometimes for millions of years straight.
The energy buildup can be difficult to sense, particularly because it happens incredibly quickly, being generated near the planet’s core and racing towards the surface, but a spark’s coming is heralded by a sudden energy spike, followed by sparks and static- and the spark emerges! Some ignite quietly, simply flickering on, others pop or bang or even create a firework-like display of sparks- particularly high-energy sparks tend to create this sort of show when they ignite and can be easily spotted. The spark then settles, exposed partially upon the surface, and while initially unstable, once it stabilizes it will begin it’s next stage of development-
However, it is worth noting that from the point of spark stabilization on, sparks can be harvested and grown to completion, even by artificial means, which is standard in some areas.
The surrounding area of Cybertron’s surface will begin to convert to sentio metallico, a very specific type of unspecialized nanite that forms several key componants in a Cybertronian’s body, and is vital for the growth of a protoform. The sentio metallico will being to “grow”, covering the spark entirely in a shell that thickens over the course of several hours, filling with vital basic minerals and metals in order to prepare for building a body. Briefly, the actual protoform is exposed in most cases, before it is covered by the growing shell. These growths are typically referred to as pods, although some other earthly terms that may apply could be buds, or eggs.
Inside the pod, the protoform is quickly growing around the spark, forming first the sparkchamber, and then simple, basic shapes that will become the foundation for a body. While initially little more than a soft, plastic-like protoform “armor” stuffed with busy nanites, over the course of several days distinct shapes and features may form- including the beginnings of a sensory patch, which appears as a dark, glossy screen-like section that will later become the optics and several other key sensory features. Sparks are aware of their surroundings and of the EM fields of other cybertronians around them from ignition, but it is not until a sensory panel develops that newsparks may begin to react to outside stimulus, turning within’ their pods to face nearby mechanisms or in response to sound.
External the pod, they grow in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and will look very unique depending both upon the demands of the spark within’ and the surrounding area- they are not limited towards growing upon the ground, either. Any portion of Cybertron’s surface may support a pod- there are even established sparkfields within’ tunnel systems or upon cliff walls. Vos’ most famous sparkfield even hangs upside-down upon the bottom of a floating “island”, and upon Luna-1 the lower gravity means that pods can grow upon tall, tube-like structures in certain situations.
As the pod nears completion, the thick mixture of nanites, energon, and other basic materials inside depletes and becomes translucent as it’s glow fades, and the shell of the pod becomes thinner and more delicate. The shape of the bot within’ can be seen in silhouette easily, and cultures that practice the culling of protoforms often begin to do so early in this stage, when it is easy to identify the features of the new mechanism within’, but still easy to simply harvest the pod without “waking” the bot inside to transport them.
Typically within’ two to three weeks of a spark first igniting, their first stage of growth is complete, and…
Out comes a mobile, well-developed youngling! Younglings often have very simplified features, and their smaller bodies are packed with reserves of nanites and energon to assist them in growing further. They are covered in the same white, soft, plastic-like “armor” that they had in earlier protoform stages and may only have the beginnings of certain features, and still sport exposed mesh, wiring, tubing, so on, so forth. They continue developing quickly, however, imprinting upon the features of those around them and voraciously hungry- younglings consume raw materials and energon at an alarming rate, and depending upon size, altmode, and the simple matter of development, may become fully grown physically anywhere between several days, or several months.
Protoforms that are allowed to develop to completion naturally are automatically drawn towards other bots, forming groups, and seeking out fully-developed mechanisms. Typically, nurturers and harvesters will wander sparkfields ready to “hatch” and wind up collecting a gaggle of newsparks trotting, driving, wandering after them, who they will help to feed, organize, and educate as needed. They rapidly grow in size and awareness, and typically it is only a matter of weeks before they can go on to other forms of education or to seek jobs.
Protoforms who are harvested earlier are more malleable and can be
shaped into slightly different forms or appearances, but require more
care and basic materials in order to grow in tradeoff, often times being unable to move by themselves or transform for some time until they finish development.
FUN FACT: Arcee was previously a “harvester/nurturer” and this was effectively her lifelong job- to pick up the cabbage patch babies as they hatched and make sure they were taken care of. Nurterers are somewhat empathetic, by nature, in that they have unusually strong EM fields and sensory capabilities regarding the sparkfields of other bots, allowing for them to not only sense protoforms, but also to calm and influence their behavior with emotional “nudges” from their own fields. This skill can also be used to manipulate other mechanisms to some degree, and became a standard practice for special operations during the war.
However, forging is simply one way that Cybertronians can come to be…