Optimus Prime slipped into the broken husk of the building, his traditionally bright coloring disguised to help him better blend in with the shadows of Cybertron's night. Behind him, Ultra Magnus waited beside the opening, keeping watch for any approachers, of either faction.
The inside of the building was just as dark as out, shadows too deep for even electronic optics to penetrate. Optimus skirted rubble and darkness alike, moving deeper into the building. He was late, delayed by well-meaning individuals with no inkling of their commander's plans for that night. He could only hope that the other hadn't tired of waiting for him and-
A clawed hand grabbed his arm. He whipped around, weaponry humming just beneath the surface of his armor, defense protocols on the alert, long trained to react with violence to the unknown. A huge form rose from the shadows, towering over even him, armor Optimus knew to usually be silver-bright disguised as his own was. Red optics glowered at him. Megatron.
Then the harsh, cold look in those optics changed, and the mech he'd known his entire life looked back from behind the fearsome visage of a monster. "Orion."
"Brother." The grip on his arm changed and Optimus returned it, clasping the Decepticon's wrist. "Have you waited for me long?"
"Since this war started," Megatron replied simply, seating himself on a piece of rubble that must've been steadier than it looked. Optimus shuttered his optics at the words. It hurt so badly, every time they met like this, like skulking thieves in the darkness, stealing a few precious moments together. He powered back on his optics when Megatron touched his arm again, claws trembling to rattle against armor. He embraced his sitting brother, trying to pretend, for just a tick, that they were mere children again, so close and protective of each other and not the mechs responsible for so many deaths, so much destruction.
It didn't last long, and Optimus moved to his own rubble seat. "What next, Orion?" Megatron asked, leaning forward. His claws flexed against his own leg, gossamer ribbons of metal curling up under the sharp digits, a habit he'd had his whole life and that Optimus had long ago stopped nagging him about.
Optimus shuttered his optics again. What next, indeed. How like Megatron, to be so calm when asking what new, terrifying order had been passed down from their god. "We will launch the AllSpark," he whispered. Such words were best spoken quietly. "Within the next five vorns. You will follow it, and we will follow you. To the Sacred Race."
A sharp noise, like pneumatics hissing. "Me?" Megatron asked, so quiet, so tight, a rare moment of weakness and Optimus felt his spark contract. Megatron had already given up so much, carrying out the will of Primus. Certainly, their god had ordered the deaths of so many of their race, but it was Megatron that the people would remember; Megatron, the great and terrible monster, the murderer, the destroyer. It was unfair! The most loyal of all their kind, the most willing to serve, and the people of Cybertron would curse his name until the end of time.
"Only you can keep up," Optimus said, forcing himself to look at his brother. "You will find it, and we will all follow you to the Sacred Ones, to take up our roles as guardians." Primus had spoken to him, so many vorns before, had shown him the purpose and destiny of their kind, to protect a race of sacred, special creatures from great horrors from between the stars.
But too many, Primus had said, were selfish and weak, unfit to take up this role. They had to be culled.
Megatron would preach to their people that the time of Cybertron was nigh, that they should go out and conquer and kill, and those too full of hatred and contempt would follow him. The rest would follow Optimus and try and stop Megatron's forces, and those too weak in body, in mind, in spark would fall. Only the best would survive to follow Optimus among the stars, only the best would survive to meet the Sacred Race. There, on a planet far, far from Cybertron, the rest of the Decepticons would fall, and those chosen few would remain to restart their race, a selection of those fit to be called Guardians raising a new generation of Cybertronians as the protectors of the Sacred Ones.
And so, the war had begun. None of their people could know what they had done, that they had started this war. They would be killed, and the Sacred Race would be destroyed, devoured without their destined Guardians. Optimus had tried to ask their god why this race was so special, why it required so many of their kind to die, and he had been rewarded with a vision of unimaginable horror and devastation.
'The universe needs the Sacred Race, to save it from a force even I cannot stop. And the Sacred Race needs the people of Cybertron, to help them survive long enough to fulfill their destiny.'
He hadn't asked again.
Megatron's head was bowed, his optics dull. "At least this means we are almost finished," he said, talking more to his hands than to Optimus. "I grow weary of... of this charade." It was a charade Megatron played with exquisite, frightening perfection. How many times had Optimus despaired, thinking he had lost his brother to the game they played, that there was no way the kind, loving mech he remembered could do the things the Deceptcon leader had done?
And how many times had they met, just like this, and Megatron had clasped his hand and called him 'Orion' and waited for his next order, certainly older and harsh, so harsh, but still his brother? Still so trusting, rarely ever questioning Optimus, always trusting him to correctly interpret their god's words. Optimus didn't want that trust. He wanted Megatron to challenge him, to make him doubt that what they did was right, to give him an excuse to call this all off. But he was sure, so damned sure, and the gravity of that surety crushed him, threatened to break him. So much death, all because he was so sure that Primus spoke to him, because Megatron trusted him enough to follow his terrible orders.
He stood and drew his brother up, holding him close again. "You will lead us to our destiny," he said into Megatron's shoulder. "And I will ensure that our people know what you have sacrificed for them, I swear it. And then we will be together again, as we once were." Not that things could ever go back to the way they had been, but they could dream like this, arms twined around each other. "Until all are one."
"Until all are one," Megatron repeated, breaking the embrace. He seemed reluctant to move away, however, standing close with his hands on the Prime's arms for along moment, delaying the time when they would have to do their best to kill each other.
"Autobots: approaching." A dark form ducked into the area. Soundwave, Megatron's protégé, should he fall - Primus hadn't promised either of them they would live to see the bearing of the fruits they had planted, and they had planned accordingly. Should Optimus fall, Ultra Magnus would train the next Pime, whoever it would be, and he could only assume that Soundwave was ready to step into the role waiting for him. "Suggestion: escape."
Megatron sighed, his hands tightening fractionally before the mask of Megatron the Tyrant slid back over his face and he whirled away, melting into the shadows again. Optimus didn't hesitate, silently making his way back to Ultra Magnus, then away from the battered building.