Summary: When they said they'd 'never' fight side-by-side again, clearly they meant 'only when Unicron shows up'.

Pairing/Characters: Megatron, Elita/Optimus, Barricade, miscellaneous humans and Bots.

Rating: T

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Author's Note: This fic, and my other updates tonight, have all been up on my writing LJ for awhile, but I finally decided to update them here. Prequel to both "Ragnarök 's Eve: Prowl" and "Ragnarök ".

- Ragnarök Rising : Optimus -

It was a quiet evening at the main Autobot base. Mostly because Optimus, feeling the need for some quiet time, had taken over monitor duty and kicked everyone else out of the base. Not that there'd been much complaining, except from Prowl and Red Alert. Jazz and Inferno had hauled them off before Optimus could snap at them, fortunately, and the large Autobot leader was now enjoying the blessed quiet. The monitors themselves were turned so low they were almost muted, and Optimus spent more time relaxing in the large chair in front of the monitor, optics off, than he did actually looking at them. Teletraan was a very smart AI, after all, and would alert Optimus if something required his attention.

BEEP!

Said alert was unnaturally loud in the quiet, and Optimus almost fell out of his chair before managing to catch himself, doubly glad now that he'd kicked everyone out of the base. Shaking his head and pushing his almost-bruised pride aside, he turned his attention to Teletraan to see what the problem was. He barely had the time to read the "WARNING: INTRUSION DETECTED" message before every screen suddenly went black. Cursing, he reached for the emergency shut-down button, only to freeze half-way as the screens suddenly lit up again - half of them covered with a face he'd been expecting, half with one that, now that he thought about it, he'd also been expecting, though he hadn't realized it until just now.

"Optimus, tell your mate to hold her slagging fire before she gets herself and her crew killed!"Megatron snarled. On the other screen, Elita One looked back stonily.

"I'm sure Elita and her crew can take out any ship you might happen to be on." Optimus replied after a beat, unsure as to precisely what was going on, but taking his best guess.

"On a regular cycle, I'd argue with you about that, but I'm not referring to myself or any Decepticon."Megatron snarled.

"So you claim." Elita said coldly. "I'm still of the belief that you have a base down there."

"You fool femme! This is an

organic system, and that is a metallic planet!"Megatron snapped.

"Such things are possible, especially in a system the Allspark landed in."Elita replied primly.

"Not in this particular case, they are not!" Megatron snapped. "I've been in and out of this system several times, and this is the first time I've seen that planet! Optimus! You saw no metallic planet in the system when you entered, correct?"

"Er - no." Optimus said with a frown. "Could one of you, perhaps, explain to me just whatis going on?" Elita hesitated, frowning at Megatron, but when the Decepticon leader seemed about to speak up, she quickly spoke over him.

"We were following the co-ordinates you sent out, Optimus, but suffered damage from a Decepticon attack along the way. When we spotted a metallic planet with similar readings to Cybertron on the way in, we decided to stop and effect repairs. We hadn't even gotten to orbit before Megatron started yelling at us over the comms to back off. He's claiming he doesn't have a base down there, but I suspect he does, and that it is woefully unguarded, which is why he's trying to scare us off."Elita explained briefly. The Decepticon leader at first looked rather annoyed at having been cut off, but had turned his attention sharply to Optimus as Elita spoke.

"You sent out co-ordinates?"Megatron asked sharply, looking at Optimus with a frown.

"Yes, in a transmission calling the Autobots to earth, since I suspected you wouldn't leave." Optimus replied flatly.

"Primus..." Optimus frowned as he realized that Megatron actually sounded horrified. "No wonder he's here."

"He who?" Optimus asked in confusion.

"This is the 'planet' your mate wants to land on."Megatron said flatly, and his screen suddenly switched to a starscape, showing a single...planetary...

Optimus sat down in his chair with a loud thunk,staring blankly at the screen even as Megatron switched it back, the Decepticon leader's expression now grim.

"I sent a transmission as well, calling for the mobilization of the Decepticon forces in this system."Megatron said. Optimus nodded vaguely.

"Of course. No wonder he's here." Optimus said faintly.

"He who? Optimus, what are you seeing that obviously only you and Megatroncan?" Elita asked, now concerned, and her voice brought Optimus out of his daze.

"Elita One, you are hereby ordered to avoid that planet at all costs. Do not go near it, do not even scanit, and make best possible speed for Earth." Optimus said, slipping into his 'Prime mode' as it had been called. "Megatron -"

"I'll escort her ship in personally. Soundwave and his symbiotes are staying out here to ensure no other Autobots almost make the same mistake."the Decepticon leader said grimly.

"Thank you. If you could have him send me the co-ordinates, I'll help make his job easier by sending out a message declaring that sector a no-fly zone." Optimus said briskly.

"See that you do it soon. As much faith as I have in my communication officer's skills, I'm rather surprised he managed to get past your security director to contact you."Megatron said dryly.

"Red Alert is currently off-base." Optimus said blandly.

"Unwise."Megatron commented.

"He'll be recalled shortly." Optimus replied flatly. "I suggest you get going if you are to escort Elita's ship."

"Of course." Megatron said with a smirk. "I'll see you shortly, Optimus."Optimus nodded, and Megatron cut his connection. Either Soundwave was keeping Elita's connection open, or it was still managing to piggy-back through the Decepticon's systems, though, as she remained.

"Optimus, what's going on?"Elita asked with a frown.

"I'll explain it all when you get here. Just let your crew know that Megatron will be escorting you in and not to fire on him, or any other Decepticon. Unless they fire first, you are to treat them as if they were under a flag of truce." Optimus answered as gently as he could, knowing he was asking a lot of his mate and her crew - he had left her in charge of the Autobots when he'd left Cybertron, and consequently she'd been engaged in more heavy combat against the Decepticons than even he had.

"A truce? But you and Megatron didn't even speak of it!"Elita asked in surprise.

"We didn't have to." Optimus replied softly. Elita frowned faintly. "If I were not absolutely sure of his intentions in this matter, I would not be telling you to let him within a parsec of your ship." the Prime said seriously, and finally Elita nodded.

"Very well. We'll be pushing our engines, however, to get to Earth as quickly as possible."she said, the warning there that she didn't care if he couldn't keep up.

"Very good." Optimus said, knowing Megatron would finda way to keep up. "I'll see you when you get here."

"I look forward to it."Elita said, her expression only now melting as she smiled softly at her mate. Optimus smiled back, and then the connection was cut. Optimus stared at the blank screen for several moments, reaching out over his bond and now feeling the soft presence there that had put him in a good mood all day without him even realizing it - his mate was close by, and getting closer. With a broad smile, despite the bad news that had come with Elita's arrival, Optimus reached over and hit Teletraan's restart button, mentally composing some of the many messages he'd have to send out as it restarted.


Barricade arrived on their doorstep the next day, before Optimus had even had time to fully brief his troops, let alone the humans - apparently when he'd snapped at them to 'get off the base', the other Autobots had really listened. He didn't even want to know how Jazz and Prowl had managed to get overseasin such a short period of time, but they were due to arrive back in an hour. Fortunately, Optimus had had the forethought to pass on the message that all Decepticons were under a flag of truce, so Barricade didn't get shot on sight, though that didn't stop questions.

"Look, Autobot, I have even less of an idea of what's going on than you, so back off!"Barricade was snarling when Optimus finally made it to the front gate, finding Ironhide and Inferno questioning the Decepticon. Humans stood nearby, looking uneasy, but with their weapons pointed at the ground. Optimus silently thanked Primus for the American government agreeing that any humans on the Autobot base should be under his direct command. Though, one of them, at least, probably figured this truce with the Decepticons fell under the 'breach of trust' clause and had notified their superiors. So long as their superiors waited for an explanation before acting, that was fine.

"Barricade, I take it you're here under Megatron's orders?" Optimus asked as he walked over. Barricade stared at Optimus in surprise before his expression shifted back into its customary scowl as he continued.

"Yeah. He said I should come listen to your 'speech' for an explanation as to why we now apparently have a truce."the Decepticon snarled. Optimus sighed.

"Of course he did. I bet he'll get you to recount the whole thing and then repeat it verbatim to his own troops, too. Lazy slagger never did like to write his own briefings." the Autobot leader grumbled. All the mechs present gave Optimus a weird look, and the Autobot leader shook his head, finding it strange how easy it was to slip back into the past. "Never mind. We're waiting on Prowl and Jazz, they should be back within the hour. If you'll come with me, you can wait in the briefing room while I warn them that you'll be here." Barricade nodded, then followed at Optimus set off.

The Autobot leader got more than a few suspicious looks, walking through the base with a Decepticon trailing behind, but he paid them no mind, taking Barricade to the briefing room and leaving the mech with a cube of energon before sealing the room with his command code, effectively locking the door and the terminals. Barricade could hack into the terminals, of course, but not in the time he had before the briefing. The door he might manage, but that was for Barricade's own safety, and Optimus suspected he knew that.

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, Optimus received word on his way back to his office that a helicopter with human officials was landing momentarily to 'discuss his recent orders', and with a sigh, the Autobot leader re-routed to the helipad. Of the three men that stepped out, one was a high-ranking army general, one was a Joint Chief, and the other was a presidential aide - the Joint Chief Optimus had spoken to before, but the man was clearly more suspicious now, and Optimus supposed he couldn't blame him.

"Prime, we're here to discuss your orders concerning the Decepticons." the Joint Chief said without preamble, stepping forward as soon as the helicopter had shut off.

"Of course. I'll be holding a briefing within an hour to explain the situation, if you'd like to listen in?" Optimus suggested, and the Joint Chief hesitated only briefly before nodding. With that line of questioning effectively put off, Optimus had someone show the three human visitors to a place they could wait, while he returned to his office to put a bit more explanation into his briefing and polish it up a bit. Finally, however, he received word that Jazz and Prowl had arrived, and headed to the briefing room where he'd left Barricade, ordering someone to go fetch the human officials, as well as their human allies on base. The perimeter guards would have to stay where they were, of course, but their friends and comrades should hear the explanation directly from him. Especially Sam.

The humans, both the officials and their allies, actually seemed less pleased to see Barricade than the Autobots, though no one quite managed to top Prowl and Jazz's growls - Optimus winced as he recalled that he'd been planning to warn them, but had completely forgotten. There was nothing he could do now, though, so he just glared them both, and the rest of the Autobots, into their seats. Finally, everyone was assembled, and Optimus stood in front of their expectant, and in most cases already disapproving, faces.

"The Allspark was the source of life for our planet. It was mentioned in our oldest stories, and has been a prominent part of all of our lives." Optimus began. "What has been forgotten over the years, however, is that in our ancient stories, there is another power mentioned as having a hand in our creation and evolution as a people and a species. This power was always described as the opposite of the Allspark in every way, including its form and purpose. Where the Allspark created life, this power took it. Where the Allspark helped our people grow, this power tried to pull us down." Optimus smiled grimly as he saw understanding dawn on Mirage and Ironhide's faces - he'd expected them, with Mirage's background and Ironhide's age, to be the first ones to realize what he was talking about.

"This power was given no name until the first Prime, Vector, decided that we had lived in its shadow long enough and attempted to destroy it. That was when he discovered that the power was different from the Allspark in another way - it was sentient."Optimus said, pausing and sweeping his gaze over the room, enjoying the last few moments of seeing his fellow Autobots without the lurking horror he knew would be in all their optics shortly. "The power gave his name as Unicron. Vector Prime named him the Chaos Bringer, and the Devourer." The Autobots began to shift uneasily now, while the humans were frowning, and Barricade was sitting completely still and straight, seemingly listening intently. Optimus suspected he was trying to listen closely for the part where Optimus said this history lesson had no relation to what was going on.

"The battle between Vector Prime and Unicron is told in countless tales on Cybertron, and is littered throughout our literature and artwork. It was well-known to all. What the tales never tell, however, is the end of the battle. The older mechs know that Vector Prime, granted strength beyond that of any other mech, fought Unicron to a stand-still. They also know that when he later died, his power was so great that in his place rose multiple Primes, who formed the council that lasted up until the day the Fallen betrayed his brothers." Optimus said, then continued more slowly, "Most of the tales claim that Vector Prime succeeded in killing Unicron. But, as every Prime and Lord Protector knows...he did not. Unicron could no more be destroyed than the Allspark could." Optimus gave Sam a pointed look at that, reminding those present that the young man was considered the Voice of the Allspark, though not the Allspark itself. That, they were still trying to find, though they weren't having much luck - and probably wouldn't ever find, now.

"This is all very fascinating Prime, but what does it have to do with your most recent orders concerning the Decepticons?" the Joint Chief spoke up, looking supremely unimpressed.

"Late last night, the ARK IX was approaching this system when it detected a metallic planet in loose, but stable, orbit just beyond Pluto. Damaged from a Decepticon attack, they decided to land and repair, but stopped when Lord Megatron contacted them and told them to cease their approach. They were naturally not inclined to follow a Decepticon's orders, and Megatron had Soundwave bring me into the discussion to confirm what he himself had discovered not long before." Optimus replied flatly. "Each Prime and Lord Protector goes through a ceremony when they are chosen, in which they download certain important memories of the Primes before them. Megatron and I both have several memories of Vector Prime's, including the battle he fought with Unicron." Optimus paused only a moment before continuing.

"The metallic planet that the ARK IX discovered outside this system, and that Megatron ordered them to stay clear of, is the depleted travel form which Unicron used to flee from his battle with Vector Prime. What's more, since the ARK IX and Megatron detected him in a stable orbit, it is clear that Unicron has regained some measure of power and is no longer depleted from his battle with Vector Prime." the words rang in the sudden silence, almost echoing.

"That would explain the overwhelming feeling of wrongnessI've been getting." Sam said softly after several long moments passed, and Optimus nodded to the young human.

"Indeed it would." he said, not bothering to berate Sam for not mentioning this feeling earlier - even now, Sam was still trying to sort out what was himself and what was the Allspark.

"So Unicron is coming here?"Inferno asked in disbelief.

"According to Soundwave, he seems to have settled on the outer fringes of the system, but it is doubtful that he will stay there." Optimus said.

"Why?" one of the human officials, the Presidential aide, asked. "Couldn't he just be passing through, resting?"

"Given other circumstances, that would be our assumption. However, two factors make it extremely unlikely. The first is the concentration of Cybertronians in this system. Vector Prime's last words were that 'Unicron would return to our second home'. I had not worried about it because only Autobots were coming to this planet. However, evidently Megatron sent out a call for the Decepticons to mobilize in this system, as well." Optimus explained.

"And the second factor?" Sam asked curiously.

"You." Optimus replied, and Sam sighed.

"I thought as much." he said.

"What does Mister Witwicky have to do with this?" the Presidential aide asked with a frown.

"When I said the Allspark and Unicron were exact opposites, I meant in every way. The Allspark did not care about whether or not Unicron lived or died because it had no life, no sentience of its own. Unicron, however, wanted the Allspark destroyed. He could not approach it as it was back on Cybertron, because they repelled each other, like magnets." Optimus explained patiently. "Here on earth, however, the Allspark is no longer as potent as it once was. This gives Unicron an unprecedented chance to destroy it - or at the very least, devour it and this planet."

"What exactly do you mean by 'devour'?" the Joint Chief asked with a frown.

"I was not exaggerating when I said that the metallic planet the ARK IX came across isUnicron. He is huge." Optimus responded. "And, as the opposite of the Allspark, instead of creating energon, he needs to consume it."

"His regular food is planets." Ironhide decided to jump in helpfully.

"Are you saying he's going to eatEarth?" the Presidential aide asked in horror.

"With the Allspark here, how could he resist? It would be like a gourmet desert to him." Sam said with a groan.

"Precisely." Optimus said with a nod for both Ironhide and Sam. "So now you understand why Megatron chose to stop the ARK IX from landing on Unicron, and is now escorting them back here."

"Escorting - Prime, isn't -" Ratchet started, looking startled, and Optimus cut him off.

"Yes, she is. And yes, she knows he's escorting her in, though not the reason why." Optimus replied shortly, then turned his attention back to the others. "You will also understand now why Megatron and I have ordered a truce."

"Er, actually, I don't." Major Lennox spoke up from next to Sam. "Why wouldn't he just side with this Unicron?"

"Major, Megatron may have betrayed our people and plunged us into a civil war that has cost millions of lives...but he would never side with what would effectively be your antichrist. He would never have been chosen as the Lord High Protector were it even the slightest possibility." Optimus said, his tone dangerous as he frowned at the army major.

"Besides, Megatron wants the Allspark for himself, and Unicron wants to eat it." Sam piped up helpfully.

"There is that." Ironhide said with a chuckle. "So what're we gonna do, then? None of us exactly have the power of Vector Prime, though there isa slag of a lot more of us."

"Megatron and I will be discussing our options when he arrives, and will hold a full tactical session with both our command staffs when his officers arrive, as well. Astrotrain will shortly be replacing Soundwave in standing watch over Unicron so that he may attend, as well." Optimus stated, and again there was a ringing silence.

"Are you saying we're going to have the entire Decepticon command staff down here soon?" Red Alert asked, his voice a dangerous hiss.

"Yes." Optimus replied pleasantly, doing his best to be unfazed by the wrath of his security director.

"And you agreed to this why?"the red mech demanded, rising in his chair and leaning forward to glare at Optimus, who unconsciously leaned back just a little bit.

"It was the most convenient and expedient." Optimus responded easily, refusing to mention that he hadn't actually discussed this plan with Megatron yet.

"And what if some of themdecide that they don't care about the Allspark and just want us dead?" Red Alert demanded.

"Shockwave's the only one you'd have to worry about that with, and he's on Cigni 7 still." Barricade interrupted, and didn't flinch when Red Alert turned his challenging gaze on the Decepticon. "Starscream knows how fragged we are without the Allspark, Soundwave knows his lore too well, and Hook is reasonable. Which just leaves Shockwave, who may or may not decide that it would be an interesting experiment to see what would happen if Unicron got the Allspark. But, as I said, he's on Cigni 7 still."

"As enlightening as that is, and as reassuring as I'm sure it was meant to be, you'll excuse me if I don't take you at your word." Red Alert growled. Barricade just smirked and shrugged, leaning back in his chair.

"You seem to be missing the point, Red Alert." Optimus said quietly, drawing attention back to himself, and when he had everyone's attention again, continued speaking, his voice growing in strength, slipping into full 'Prime mode' once again. "Megatron and I have both called this a truce, having had no chance to officially discuss it with each other...but if this goes the way we think it will? The war ended the moment I got that call."

"What? I mean, not that this isn't a good thing, but after all these years, all these deaths, it's gonna end just like that?" Lennox asked in surprise. The Cybertronians looked at each other uncomfortably, but it was Sam who answered.

"If Unicron comes, as they think he will, they will have to fight him." Sam said. "Tell me, Will, how many humans would live, do you think, if we stormed hell and tried to take down the devil? Especially if we were in the midst of a nuclear war?"

"There's not going to be any of you left to fight." Lennox realized, looking up at Optimus in horror.

"Or there will be very, very few of us." Ironhide rumbled in confirmation.


It was unsurprisingly that - despite Optimus' assurances that the war was at least on pause, if not over all together - the humans insisted on having a military contingent on hand when the ARK IX landed high in the mountains, undercover of thick rain clouds, Megatron's jet-form following closely alongside. The Autobots, too, weren't terribly relaxed, something not helped by the fact that Barricade stood in their midst. Once he'd transformed, Megatron seemed more amused by this than anything else, as the first thing he did was walk to Optimus and hold out a hand. Ironhide shifted uneasily behind the Prime, but Optimus paid him no mind, reaching out to take the offered hand.

"I pledge an end to all Decepticon hostilities from this time forward." Megatron stated, and several Autobots behind Optimus suddenly had systems start sputtering at what was essentially an offer of an unconditional, permanent cease-fire.

"I pledge an end to all Autobot hostilities from this time forward." Optimus returned in kind, and winced as he heard a mech collapsing behind him - most likely Prowl.

"I think we just overloaded your tactician's logic processor." Megatron said, glancing behind Optimus and confirming the Prime's guess.

"I thought as much." Optimus said as they let go of each other's hands, and he shot an apologetic look in Ratchet's direction, the medic already glaring at him as he set to work on rebooting Prowl's systems. Then Optimus' attention was thoroughly distracted as the hatch to the ship opened, and Elita came out at a run, apparently not caring about decorum for once as she literally jumped on Optimus, wrapping herself around his torso as she kissed him soundly.

"Now there'sa sight I've been happy to go without." Megatron said, and Optimus, his mouth busy and not knowing Megatron's comm frequency, opted to borrow a gesture from the humans in response. The human soldiers nearby either choked back laughter or snickered. Megatron just shook his head and turned his attention to Barricade, clearly having a silent discussion over comms. The Autobots, too, seemed to find other things that needed their attention until Elita finally let go of Optimus, dropping onto the ground and glaring up at him.

"You are never allowed to assign us on different missions everagain." she said pointedly, and Optimus squirmed under her glare.

"Never again." he promised.

"Not like you'll have much of a choice." Megatron said seriously, interrupting, and Optimus looked up at him and sighed, nodding. Elita looked between them curiously.

"Whathas gotten you both so spooked?" she asked.

"Nothing much, just the apocalypse." Megatron said dryly, and Elita stared at him in surprise before turning to Optimus for confirmation.

"You have no idea how glad I am that you stopped to argue with Megatron rather than continue with your landing." Optimus replied seriously. "That planet is Unicron." Elita swayed slightly, shock clear on her face as she reached out over the bond to Optimus. He caught her easily, both physically and mentally, doing his best to reassure her, even though he knew that her fears were entirely founded.

"If you're done, we have some planning to do. I'd rather have somethingfigured out before Starscream shows up." Megatron said dryly.

"So that he can tell ya how stupid it all is and suggest something better?" Jazz asked with amusement, stepping forward now - Prowl was apparently fine, and now the saboteur was stepping in to take his place.

"Precisely. He always comes up with the best plans that way." Megatron said, and Jazz chuckled, then to everyone's shock, held out a hand to the Decepticon leader. Even more surprisingly, Megatron took it. Realizing the looks they were getting, Jazz dropped Megatron's hand and turned to look at the Autobots.

"What? You expect me t'hold a grudge when Unicron's hangin' over our heads?" Jazz asked defensively. "Besides, he got totally owned after killin' me, an' by a human.I think I can say that Sam got my revenge for me."

"Thank you. As if I don't have Starscream reminding me of that every day." Megatron ground out. Jazz just patted the Decepticon's hip - the highest spot he could reach - and grinned.

"No problem Megs." he said, then headed back to the other Autobots and Megatron glared after him.

"He's going to be more annoying than Starscream, isn't he?" Megatron growled quietly, so only Optimus and Elita could hear.

"Let's just hope they don't team up." Optimus replied dryly, having heard tales from his undercover operatives about Starscream, even though he'd never seen the mech in his own element before. Elita shook her head slightly, and Optimus returned to official business. "Elita, if you'll get your crew to disembark, the humans will deal with the ship while we escort you all to our base."

"Of course." she replied, but she refused to let go of Optimus, giving the order over comms. Optimus didn't really blame her - they'd just found each other after so long, and now their days were numbered.

- END -