Something was wrong.
Megatron should have been pleased. After centuries of war, he was home, the fires of Kaon's furnaces rising around him, fueled by the molten remains of his enemies.
And his last and greatest enemy had fallen, slain by his own hand, melting to nothing in a flare of purple heat from Megatron's cannon -
That was too easy.
He walked through the halls, smelling the smoke of his enemies' burning. It soothed him, filling his olfactory sensors. If something was wrong, he had all of eternity to attend to it. He had won, and surely he could take a moment to savor his -
"Megatron," growled a familiar voice.
He looked down. There, below him, stood his enemy. "Optimus Prime."
This is not right. Moments ago, you tore him apart.
Moments ago -
He could not remember. Something had happened. His enemy had died.
Or so he had thought. But Optimus was nothing if not resourceful - No! No! Not like this! This is impossible! - and to stand around puzzling over strange occurrences while his enemy stood before him, weapons readied, was the height of foolishness.
Besides, he'd waited vorns for this moment. Surely, this was the time to enjoy it.
He spoke again, tasting the words. "Your Autobot armies are defeated. Your comrades have been stripped for scrap. Or melted down. You are the only one left, old friend." He chuckled. "You should be bowing before me, not sneaking into my stronghold on some mission that will only end in your destruction."
How did he get in here? We won the war - how could an Autobot sneak all the way into Kaon without even my knowing it?
"Never, Megatron," his enemy rumbled, transforming his arm into a knife and brandishing it. "One shall stand, one shall fall."
I've heard that before.
Megatron's own blade emerged from its place on his arm as he leapt down to meet his enemy. "So be it."
They ran at one another, Megatron slicing out with his blade, waiting for the inevitable parry that would deflect his blow, so that he could -
It never came. His enemy simply came on, oblivious to anything Megatron did, until the knife cleaved through his frame and he disappeared in a puff of smoke.
That isn't right.
Megatron turned, growling, feeling suddenly empty. Optimus was dead; he ought to be exulting. But that was no victory. One blow, against an enemy he'd fought for centuries? It was cheap - cheap and pathetic.
That wasn't Optimus.
He whirled around, the sounds of the roiling lava startling him into alertness, as though he could find the answers hidden behind the columns of his reforged citadel.
But he was alone. Completely and utterly alone.
That wasn't right, either. This was Kaon, capitol of the Decepticon empire, home of its triumphant rebirth. Why was there no one here?
"Soundwave," he hissed into the fiery darkness.
The spy appeared immediately, stepping soundlessly from behind one of the columns. He slid gracefully to his knees in front of his leader, bowing his head in recognition of Megatron's ultimate victory.
Megatron chuckled, his spark whirling with pleasure. At last, some answers!
"What is happening?" he snapped. "Moments ago, I destroyed Optimus Prime. And yet - how did he find his way here, with none of his kind to help him? Why - how - how did any of us come to be here at all, after so long in exile?"
Soundwave raised his head, his visor blank but for a single line of light flickering across it.
Megatron waited. His most trusted follower would soon play back a recording or display a video on the smooth surface of his visor that would stir his fragmented memories and set his whirling processor at ease again.
"Answer me!" he bellowed, shouting it to the heavens, his great claws tightened into fists.
Soundwave was silent as death.
"This is useless to me!" He brought his great fist down. Where it touched Soundwave, the thin, dark metal buckled and gave way completely.
Megatron's optics widened. That wasn't supposed to happen. None of this was supposed to happen.
Moments ago, I destroyed Soundwave, he told himself. Before that, Optimus Prime. Before that, Optimus - moments ago, I destroyed - moments ago - I -
A column shook, splitting apart. At its center, pristine and gleaming, his greatest enemy stood tall.
"Megatron. Your treachery ends here."
Optimus was not supposed to be here. There was - there was a reason - he knew - he'd spoken to Soundwave before, hadn't he? And he had told Soundwave that Optimus had - that he - that -
Why couldn't he remember?
He growled. Enigmas and puzzles and doubts, following him as though this were all some kind of -
He smirked, flashing bright fangs at his nemesis. It didn't matter. This was his archenemy, standing before him in his place, his home, his reforged glory. And soon, he would have the satisfaction of watching his greatest enemy die here.
He raised his arm, his weapon charging. He felt its heat, real and alive, the roiling warmth of his molten citadel scorching him, fueling him, spelling death for his last enemy.
His enemy vanished in a flare of light.
And where he had been - nothing.
He cried out, a din to shake the heavens.
I have been tricked.
But who -? And how -?
"Starscream," he rasped.
As if on cue, his Second appeared before him, grin wide, wings fluttering.
He bowed deeply. "Master? You called for me?"
Starscream's optics widened, the picture of wounded innocence. "But my lord, it is only fitting that I show my loyalty, here on the eve of our greatest victory."
The Autobots were all dead.
All except for -
"Megatron," said a determined and all-too-familiar voice, as its owner ascended the stairwell behind him.
Irritated at the interruption, he raised his arm and fired. As before, his enemy vanished.
He turned to Starscream, expecting effusive, insincere praise.
The eve of our greatest victory.
The eve -
"I've heard those words from you before, Starscream."
This time, the Seeker reacted, his wings twitching in trepidation. "Of course, my lord. You know I think of -"
Megatron advanced, growling. How were those words any kind of response to what he had been saying?
Starscream matched his movements perfectly, stepping back. "- nothing but best - serving the Decepticon cause -"
Megatron lunged. Starscream hissed.
"And what, Starscream, has that to do with this strange place and these - apparitions - I find in it?"
He knew better than to expect an answer. None came.
Roaring, he launched himself at the Seeker, his claws grabbing at wings. He heard Starscream cry out once, half terrified and half expectant, and his spark pulsed in his chest, hungry and eager. If Optimus would not bow, or have the decency to die properly, at least he could have the pleasure of tormenting -
Starscream's wing fell apart in his hand.
The Seeker responded with a twisted little smile that didn't last nearly long enough. The rest of Starscream fell apart moments later, the pieces falling to the floor of the chamber and vanishing in wisps of vapor.
Megatron snarled, running toward one of the columns and extending his knife. Howling in frustration, he tore at it, the blade ripping too easily through the twisted metal.
Everything I hear is something I have heard before.
Everything I see is something I have seen.
He laughed, his spark surging with relief at the revelation.
And yet, how long would this enlightenment last? Things had happened here. Starscream, just before. And he had - he had called Starscream to him, because something - something had happened before that, something that had made no sense.
Something - something - that had to do with -
"Optimus Prime," he chuckled, seeing his nemesis appear before him.
Something wasn't right, but at least before returning to that mystery, he would have the pleasure of watching his enemy fall before him, once and for all.
Trying to ignore the uneasiness still crackling in his spark, he raised his cannon arm and smiled.