A/N- Last chapter, ending as everything begins. Hopefully it lives up to expectations!
"Then what happened?" Sam was sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of Barricade's cell.
The door to the detention center scraped open.
"Sam, it's time to go," Bumblebee said, coming to stand beside him
"Oh, alright. I'll see you later, Barricade."
"Go on ahead, Sam. I want to speak with Barricade a moment."
"Sure." Sam frowned over his shoulder at them as he jogged out of the room.
Bumblebee waited for the door to close behind Sam. He glared at Barricade. "Stay away from Sam."
Barricade looked up from where he was lounging in the back of the cell. "It's not like I can actually avoid him, Autobot."
"Whatever you're planning, leave him out of it, Barricade! I won't let you twist him with your lies – you've done enough damage already!"
"Still seeing everything in black and white. Why would I bother lying to your pet when the truth is so much worse than anything I could make up?" Barricade pointed a clawed finger at Bee. "Maybe it's not my words you should be re-examining."
Bee scoffed. "You never quit, do you?"
Barricade's engine rumbled. "It doesn't matter now, anyway. Everyone who mattered is dead, and we lost. I'm going to be tried for war crimes and shot. The victor writes the history, so what does it matter what I say?"
"It matters when you lie to Sam, Decepticon."
Barricade snorted. "Fine. Whatever. I won't speak to the boy. Happy?"
The mech on the other side of the bars was silent for a long moment. "No, I'm not." Bee turned sharply and walked out, leaving Barricade with his memories.
Cybertron, nine million years ago -
Fortress Kolkular, Kaon
"Several have raised the possibility of the Lord Protector being held hostage by an insurgent faction within the armed forces-"
"And so I languish in captivity," Megatron said with heavy irony, lounging in his quarters and idly flipping through the news reports.
"That's not the line they're taking in their messages," Blackout noted. "They've addressed everything to you directly."
"Of course. They're attempting to save face. They 'hope for a peaceful resolution, and a smooth restoration of the balance of power,' or some such. They fail to see how much damage their 'balance of power' has already wrecked on Cybertron. As long as they remain in command, there can be no peace."
Blackout stepped forward eagerly. "Then allow us to remove them, my lord. For the good of Cybertron."
Megatron gave Blackout a considering look. His bodyguard was driven by blood lust more than any sense of patriotic fervor, but that didn't change the validity of the argument.
"Very well." Megatron leaned back in his chair, frowning in thought. "The council sent another invitation to meet with them and negotiate a solution." He smirked. "I have a 'solution' for them. Blackout, send a message back to the council, saying that I accept their invitation. Then we will see about ending their corruption once and for all."
"And Optimus Prime?" Blackout's optics gleamed.
Megatron paused. "…No, I still have hope that he will see reason."
"Not participating in the negotiations, Councilor?" Optimus Prime glanced up as the councilor entered his office.
"This entire situation is idiocy, and I refuse to have any part in it." He snorted. "The others are scraping and bowing, expecting Megatron to go along with their little plan to pretend nothing happened." The councilor walked over to the massive window that overlooked Iacon. "People are dead, and they're just going to let everything slide."
"Warfare benefits no one," Optimus pointed out. "If a peaceful agreement can be reached, it should be."
The councilor waved a hand dismissively. "I'm not advocating violence, Prime. Quite the opposite." He turned back to look Optimus in the optics. "Personally, I think we should dismantle the entire army. They've proven exactly how far we can trust them – not at all."
"They exist for a reason, though. They were built to protect Cybertron from any threats, and without them -"
"Oh, please. Right now, they are the biggest threat to Cybertron."
Optimus looked at him sadly. "I hope you're wrong, Councilor."
The door crashed open, cutting off the councilor's reply. "Optimus!" Bumblebee skidded in. "They've killed the council!"
"What?" Dumbfounded, both Optimus and the councilor stared at Bumblebee in shock.
Bumblebee visibly gathered himself. "Megatron and his men!"
The councilor swore. "I knew he was a treacherous blackguard, but even I didn't expect him to go this far!"
Optimus held a hand up to stop him. "Back up to the beginning, Bumblebee. What happened?"
"It sounds like Megatron showed up to the negotiations with his bodyguard, like planned. Only they had no intentions of negotiating anything – They barred the doors and killed everyone." Bumblebee shuddered.
Bumblebee shook his head. "Don't know yet, Prime. The reports just started coming in."
"Keep me posted," Optimus ordered. Bumblebee nodded and left hastily.
"He's insane," the councilor muttered after a long moment. "He doesn't think he can get away with this, does he?"
Optimus shook his head. "I don't know, Councilor. I just don't know."
Preoccupied, the councilor allowed himself to be bundled onto a transport. We have to move now, before he gets any further entrenched. He watched the cityscape fall away, becoming a shining blanket of millions of lights far below. We have to prevent Megatron from gaining any more influence in the industrial sector - if he's constrained to stealing his supplies, he'll be limited in what he can do. The councilor frowned thoughtfully. He's going to hit on the idea of propaganda in the mass media soon enough-
There was something wrong. "Why are we stopping?" Suddenly he realized that he hadn't seen or heard any of the escort jets since takeoff. "Where are the others?" he demanded.
"Don't worry about them, Councilor," his pilot replied calmly. "They went on ahead." Barricade levered himself out of the pilot's chair, and strolled into the passenger compartment.
"Why are we stopped?" the councilor demanded again. "What sort of idiocy is this?" Fear tightened his fuel pump as Barricade stepped closer. "I insist-"
Barricade grabbed the councilor by the throat. "Do I care what you 'insist?'" Ignoring the politicians attempts to free himself, Barricade dragged the councilor to the back exit.
Desperate, the councilor brought up his cannon, only to have it seized in one of Barricade's clawed hands and ripped off its mountings.
The door cycled open behind the councilor. Cold wind buffeted the transport, but the ice in the councilor's fuel lines had nothing to do with the weather or the altitude.
Barricade smiled, sharp and vicious, at the dawning horror in the councilor's optics. He pulled the councilor close. "All hail Lord Megatron," he whispered into the councilor's audio.
Then he flung the councilor from the transport, to plummet thousands of feet to the unforgiving ground.
"It was for the best, brother."
"For whose, Megatron? Yours? The army's?" Optimus stared out the window of his office.
"For everyone. As long as they remained in power, our entire race was doomed."
"There are other ways than violence, brother." Optimus turned back to the screen.
"There comes a time when negotiation fails, and the virtuous must act-"
Optimus' optics flashed in anger. "You didn't even try, Megatron. You decided it was more efficient to simply slaughter anyone who got in the way."
"Oh, don't be so over-dramatic. The world is better off without them." Megatron idly examined a claw.
"And who next? How far do you plan on taking this?"
"However far I need to, Prime."
"You're insane," Optimus said flatly.
"Hardly." Megatron snorted. "I'm just doing what I was built to do – protect Cybertron. From any threat, even if it comes from within." He leaned forward, optics intense. "The council betrayed Cybertron with their incompetence and foolish adherence to principle – no matter what the price."
"You're going to destroy everything that makes our civilization great."
"Cities can be rebuilt."
"The dead can't be."
Megatron glared. "A small sacrifice, to restore Cybertron."
Optimus met his glare with one of his own. "I won't let you win, Megatron."
The Lord Protector's voice was as cold as space. "You don't have a choice, Prime."
Optimus sat in the darkness long after Megatron cut the connection. I ask him how far he plans to take it – but how far do I? Am I doing the right thing? Or am letting my personal feelings cloud my judgment?
Leaning his elbows on he desk, Optimus buried his face in his hands. If I make the wrong choice, a lot of people are going to die. Megatron will not give up, no matter who he has to kill. He'll follow this to the end, whatever that may be.
The question is, am I willing to do the same?
The door hissed open. "Prime?"
Optimus looked up. "Ironhide," he responded tiredly. "Updates?"
Ironhide shook his head. "They're still trying to find the councilors who weren't at the Pavilion." He hesitated. "Optimus, we're with you, no matter what." Ironhide shifted his weight uncomfortably. "I... I just wanted you to know that."
Optimus looked up. "Thank you, Ironhide." He managed a small smile. Ironhide gave him a short nod and took himself out of the room. They trust me to do the right thing.
If only I could be sure what that was.
Accessing Cybertronian News Broadcasting System. Downloading…
"In response to demands by the insurgent group that Autobot officials have dubbed 'the Decepticons,' Optimus Prime declared a state of emergency across Cybertron earlier today, a move that has been anticipated by experts since the massacre at the High Council Pavilions yesterday.
"The Decepticons, led by the Lord Protector himself, issued the demand for the immediate and unconditional surrender of Autobot officials mere hours after the attack.
"An Autobot spokesperson spoke to reporters following the general announcement, saying 'We will not be intimidated. We will not be frightened into submission. Everyone has the right to live freely, and without fear, and we will not allow anyone, not even the so-called Lord Protector and his Decepticons, to take that right away from us.'
"Meanwhile, in Kaon, the Decepticons issued a press release of their own, urging civilians to stay home and not interfere. They denied accusations of ulterior motives, instead blaming the violence on the Autobot policies..."