Oh hello there! We interrupt your daily Aspen Broadcasting to bring you this message:
This is Beri, the occasionally-mentioned mythical sister-figure. Aspen was kind enough to let me post a few stories on her account because I don't have one, and I'm not sure how to use the system. I won't be around too often, but it seemed fair to introduce myself before foisting my scribbles off on you all.
So this is me introducing myself. Hello!
This is all a bit awkward, as I've never done this before, but once I get the hang of things I'm sure we'll all get along like a house on fire!
To preface this particular set of one-shots, I have been following the IDW comics Dark Cybertron arc for awhile, and it just finished (and broke my heart along with it). I felt as though many main characters didn't have a lot of closure, so these short pieces sort of came to life out of that.
Well, then, shall we head down this rabbit hole together?
In the days following the defeat of Shockwave, Jhiaxus, and the Ammonites, Optimus found that there was once again a very shaky peace to be brokered among the people of Cybertron. Decepticons and Autobots had fought side by side, forgetting old rivalries and forging new paths, but now that the fighting was over, some of his subordinates could not accept the new system, nor the fact that Megatron had well and truly become an Autobot. Now a council of the highest ranking Autobots and ex-Decepticon allies had been called, where Prowl was ranting and pacing. "I don't know what you thought would happen," the black and white mech growled, "But I didn't do everything I did to see Cybertron half run by a Decepticon warlord!"
The fragile peace erupted into shouts and accusations, Autobots and Decepticons at each other's throats, with Optimus trying to calm them. Megatron only stared grimly ahead as the cacophony grew around him.
"ENOUGH!" With some surprise, the ex-Con saw Rodimus slam his hands on the table, glare at everyone, and leave the room. After a few seconds of bemused silence, the doors opened again. Rodimus strode in and smiled.
"And here I thought you wouldn't start the meeting without me! Guess I'm not that important after all!" Prowl scowled. "We do NOT have time for this-"
Rodimus cut him off, walking purposefully up to Megatron. "Hello friend, I don't think we've met before," he said, extending a hand. "I'm Rodimus, I'm a hothead with an ego problem a baggage claim full of mistakes. I'm sure if Optimus still keeps oddballs like me around you'll fit in just fine. Welcome to the family!" As Megatron warily shook his hand, the younger mech turned to fix the rest of the room with a glare that would have done Ratchet proud. "Now," he said in a no-nonsense tone, "Shall we start over?"
Prowl started to splutter, but was shocked by Ultra Magnus clapping a VERY heavy hand on his shoulder guard and booming, "Good Morning Prowl! How long have you been here?" With the mood lighter, reintroductions began and Optimus hid a weary but proud smile. If all his people could accept each other so boldly, Cybertron's future might be brighter than he'd first thought.
"You've quite a talent for working crowds."
Rodimus half turned to look at the speaker and managed a wry smile. "That I learned from Drift."
Megatron shook his helm. "There is one I never pegged for a public speaker."
"Oh he's not," laughed Rodimus, "Drift hates talking to crowds. He writes a good speech though..." His voice died off into something that sounded very like regret before he popped his head back up with a winning smile. "So how're you liking the Autobots this time? Good? Except Prowl I guess, no one likes him, seriously. Not even Prowl."
Megatron frowned. "I know why you do that," he said, stepping closer to the younger mech. "Do what?" Rodimus sputtered defensively.
"Smirk and laugh and hide behind your ego and your hotheadedness." Megatron trapped him with his gaze. "You're afraid."
The red and orange mech's face hardened and he looked away. "Who in the universe isn't?" He muttered, crossing his arms.
But Megatron wasn't finished yet. "You're afraid others won't like you, afraid of not having their approval," he continued, "Afraid that if you stop pretending you've got this, you'll be overwhelmed by guilt. Afraid that you're not a leader."
"Aren't you perceptive," Rodimus gritted out through clenched teeth. "But if you're trying to be thorough you've forgotten the part where I'm so desperate for approval that I have to be a hero to get someone's attention, and end up failing my crew repeatedly. Do you know how many died because I couldn't stand up for what I knew was right? If I let up the cheerful hothead even for a minute, they'll eat me alive."
He fell silent then, glaring up at Megatron as if daring him to disagree. The larger mech tilted his helm to one side in contemplation. "Do you not think they would forgive you if you admit your faults?" He was not prepared for the bitter laugh that answered his question.
"See, that's funny. Yeah sure, I think most of my crew forgave me, but the big guy? He clearly regrets ever telling me I could be a leader. Pretty sure he wishes I was Bumblebee. I mean, he made friends wherever he went, always had Prime's blessing, always knew how to fix things. And I TRIED. I tried to fix it all, tried to show him I could do it. You know what he told me? He said I should have stepped down, that he was ashamed of me. Whereas you," here he pointed an accusing finger at Megatron, "All YOU had to do was defect to the Autobots and he forgave you immediately!"
At this Megatron was quiet for a long time, and Rodimus began to think he'd won, hollow victory though it was. At last the old warlord spoke. "I think, perhaps, Optimus Prime holds you to a higher standard than others, as he did with Bumblebee." If his voice cracked a bit at the mention of the late Autobot, Rodimus didn't mention it. He snorted and turned away mumbling, "Yeah, so high I can never reach it. I'm just some chancer anyway."
Heavy hands grabbed his shoulder guards and spun him around.
"Not. Some. Chancer." Hissed Megatron with an unexpected ferocity. "The mech who destroyed his home to keep it from a truly evil fate, who defied me because he did not agree with my then-violent ways, who kept the morale of an entire crew up during dire circumstances, and who talked the spark back into Orion Pax in the Dead Universe is no 'chancer'. You're a leader young Rodimus, and he will see it before the end."
Some unidentifiable mix of emotions passed over the young mech's face and he blinked rapidly before roughly whispering, "Thanks."
After a slightly uncomfortable silence, Megatron cleared his vents and punched Rodimus in the shoulder. "That being said, you're still a hotheaded idiot sometimes."
Rodimus grinned. "What about charming and heroic?" The older mech grabbed him by the back of the helm and gave him a push towards the Autobase. "Go recharge." With a playful swipe at his hand, Rodimus obeyed, and Megatron resolved to speak with his brother before dawn. He had learned from hard experience with Optimus to never alienate a Matrix bearer.
A/N Rodimus referred to himself as a "chancer" when he was trying to convince Orion Pax to become Optimus Prime again, and it sounded to me like he meant he was someone just lucky to get through life.
Prowl blinked slowly. "I beg your pardon?"
Arcee shrugged, avoiding his gaze. "I said no. I'm... I'm done with this. I'm leaving with the Lost Light in two cycles."
Unconsciously gripping the edge of his desk, Prowl leaned forward. "What about your vengeance? What about everything we had planned? What about Jhiaxus, everything he did to you?"
Arcee crossed her arms and met his stare. "Jhiaxus is dead, he will hurt no one else. It's time I moved on Prowl, or else my rage will kill me as surely as Jhiaxus would have."
"You have been talking to That Decepticon," he snarled. There was no need to ask who That Decepticon was.
Crossing the room, Arcee looked at the two political figures rallying crowds beneath them. "Megatron is an Autobot now. If he can change his destiny, so can I." With that, she turned on her heel and left the lawman alone.
Well let her go. He didn't need them. He didn't need ANY of those traitors. He would protect Cybertron himself, from anyone he had to. Who else truly knew what was best for the people? Who better to take care of the planet than someone whose whole purpose was To Serve and Protect?
Time and Space were safe, the Ammonite army was destroyed, and Ratchet was very very tired. Millennia of work as a field medic had long since drummed into him what losses war brings. But Cyclonus, and Kup, and Bumblebee... Ratchet clenched his jaw and looked down at his hands. Pharma's hands. What was the use of new hands if he could not save his closest friends?
He looked up from his seat in the square, watching Optimus give speeches while Rodimus walked around, checking on crew members. Now there's a reversal, he thought wryly. He returned to his introspection. What was left for him on Cybertron? Could he allow himself to work alongside Megatron, even if he claimed to be an Autobot? Intent in his thoughts, he nearly missed the exchange happening to his right.
"So you'll be off then, with your crew," hemmed Ultra Magnus awkwardly. Windblade looked back at Chromia and Nautica and nodded. "Suppose I will. Alpha Trion may have more for us to do." Ultra Magnus looked down for a moment before extending his hand. "It was an honor fighting with you," he said solemnly. "And you as well Magnus. Perhaps we shall meet again."
Ratchet noted the faint redness to Magnus' faceplates with interest.
"Where will you go? Back with the Lost Light?" asked Windblade. Just what I was wondering thought Ratchet.
"No I've- I've put in my temporary resignation as first officer . I will remain here on Cybertron and help Prime rebuild." Windblade arched an eyebrow. "Does this have anything to do with that lawman your crew member threw off a cliff?" Magnus nodded grimly. "He's lost sight of the purpose of this job, and is therefore dangerous. I don't plan on losing sight of him."
"But you don't want to be here." It was not a question. Magnus sighed. "I admit I have found myself… attached.. to the crew of the Lost Light." A slight twitch of the optic, barely noticeable to any save the eavesdropping doctor, betrayed his discomfort with his own words. "Besides," he coughed, "Most of them are so deleterious that I fear the ship would be doomed without a strong disciplinarian."
Ratchet let the rest of their conversation fade to a buzz as he tried to straighten his thoughts. Magnus was leaving? How had their young captain taken the news, he wondered. The Lost Light would return to the stars without a senior officer, without it's main disciplinarian, and that made things... Oh, so very simple actually.
Very simple indeed.
"Let First Aid take over here as CMO," thought Ratchet. "That ship is in need of an old relic to shoot down the terrible ideas and keep those young bots in line, and I know the crankiest one around…
..At least until Magnus gets irritated and comes back."
The hangar was awash in activity as the once again newly repaired Lost Light went through its last checklists before takeoff. Optimus Prime noticed Arcee and Whirl gaily chatting about explosives as they loaded cargo (and he made a mental note to warn the captain), as though they had never heard of war, or peace, or anything else that made sense to a rational mind. He stopped to let more crewmembers by and, seeing an old friend, smiled warmly and stepped across the bay.
"Are you returning to the stars Ratchet?" he asked, a hint of regret in his voice. Ratchet looked away briefly before answering, "Cybertron is safe again Optimus, but I'm not sure I have a place here anymore. Too much was lost, too much has changed." The Prime did not try to argue, he knew in his spark that it was true. The two old friends stood silently for a moment in the half-grieving way of those who cannot stop to process loss. Then with a braver smile than he felt, Ratchet clapped his Prime familiarly on the shoulder and strode into the ship, immediately scolding a nearby Autobot who had the misfortune of being late for an appointment.
With a smile and a shake of his helm, Optimus turned away towards the city. Megatron was standing at the entrance to the hangar, conversing earnestly with Rodimus. The Prime couldn't quite stop the twinge of suspicion in his spark, despite knowing that he had fully forgiven his brother. Old habits, he supposed. As he watched, Megatron smiled broadly and clapped a hand on Rodimus' back, who laughed at whatever the other had said before shaking his hand and turning towards the Lost Light. A second twinge hit Optimus' spark.. was it guilt? The last time he had truly spoken with the young captain, his words had been full of anger.
I do not regret what I said to him, he decided, If he wishes to be a leader he must know the weight of true responsibility. Yet… Optimus noticed the stiffness in the younger mech's posture as he approached. "You are leaving then?" he asked as Rodimus saluted him.
"Yeah, we're about ready I think. Magnus is staying here, for a while at least." The orange and red mech busied himself with the numbers he still had carved into his hand. "Look, about the whole Dead Univ-"
"You did well." Rodimus' helm shot up in surprise. "Pardon?!" Optimus sighed. "You did well in the battle, inspiring Brainstorm to work. And you did well in the Dead Universe to remind me who I was. Thank you." Rodimus couldn't stop an enormous smile from overtaking his face, although it quickly disappeared as he remembered what he had been trying to say.
"You were right though Optimus. About me, and the crew. I did think the majority would vote for me. It's just… I couldn't.. Nevermind." Rodimus wasn't sure why he was uncomfortable with telling Optimus about Drift's prophecy. Maybe he thought the Prime wouldn't believe him, would just think he was on an ego trip again.
"It was not the right choice," said Optimus, not unkindly. "But I too learned a lesson from what I told you. A leader should not lash out in anger when mistakes, even sincerely regretted ones, come to light; it can do more harm than good."
A commotion from Rodimus' communicator allowed the younger mech to contain his surprise and relief as he quickly turned his attention to the hubbub. Optimus listened in amusement to the half-conversations and orders.
"Of course I didn't, Swerve. Where did you put it last time? You know what, ask Tailgate. He needs distracting anyway. Rodimus out."
"He WHAT? Put him on the line. Whirl, what did I say when you got on board? Uh-uh. No. What. Did. I. Say? That's right. So you just take all those little contraband explosives- YES I know about them, I'm the captain. And you just give those to Ratchet. I'm not repeating myself Whirl. Rodimus out."
"Sorry about that," Rodimus apologized with a charming grin. "No rest for the wicked." "It does seem like it some days," agreed Optimus. "You will continue searching for the Knights?" "Yeah.. We'll probably head back to Luna 1 and see if Brainstorm and Perceptor can't rebuild Tyrest's portal. I mean to try to find Drift as well; he deserves a pardon and to be reinstated if he'll still have us."
Another signal from Rodimus' communicator informed them that the ship was ready and awaiting her captain. "Well then," Rodimus snapped a flashy salute. "Till all are- you know what? Just 'Bye' this time." Optimus shook his helm and smiled. "Farewell Rodimus, until our next meeting."
Megatron moved to join him and the two watched the old ship take off. "Like watching us when we were young, eh Orion?" The Prime scoffed good-naturedly. "I was never that young, Megatronus." The former warlord threw a friendly arm around his shoulders. "Ha! Of course you were. Levity aside, I can't shake the feeling that we've seen that ship somewhere before."
And so they had, but in days so far removed that they had mercifully forgotten what terrible events that ship had been connected to. And as the saying goes, those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it...