Author's Note – For "tf_speedwriting" on LiveJournal. The prompt was "Scenario – the immediate aftermath of victory (any victory – small and personal, or large and world changing)".

Disclaimer – "Transformers" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Hasbro, Takara, and any other related owners/distributors/producers. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.

"Even That of an Enemy"
by DragonDancer5150

Optimus Prime crouched at the center of the clearing, the raging chaos of the battle around him quieting by rapid degrees as mechs on both sides realized what had just happened and stopped to turn and stare. Reaction rippled out from the epicenter in a shockwave, first of deafening silence, then riotous screams – both of victory and defeat.

Optimus paid it all little heed, gaze locked on the black optics of the mech before him, defiant silver still in the process of darkening to deep, uniform grey. Dimly, he registered a keening from Soundwave, and Starscream's call to retreat. Amid those noises, he could pick out the voices of his own mechs. If he bothered.

He didn't have the mental energy to put forth the effort.

Slowly, the great Autobot leader climbed to his feet, pulling his energy axe from the other mech's chest. Energon and cydraulic fluid sizzled off its surface, the spark chamber from which it slid giving one last, dim crackle of energy before going completely dead.

His own spark heavy, Optimus dragged his optics up to meet those of the astonished, celebrating mechs around him. He was exhausted. The battle had been a long one, lasting through the waning hours of night and well into morning as the factions clashed, parted, regrouped, and tried again, each attempting to surprise attack the other to gain the upper hand after hasty repairs had been made. Optimus's gaze dropped to his hands and the rest of his body, coated as they were in grime, laser burns, and a hemic wash of various mech fluids.

The troops around him seemed to sense that something was wrong, and they quieted. Bumblebee was the first to actually approach him, reaching up to touch his arm. "Optimus?"

Jazz stepped to his other side, hand on his shoulder. "Don't, Prime." His voice was firm but gentle. "Ya did whatcha had to."

Optimus's voice was as heavy as his spark. "I know, Jazz. I know." His gaze dropped again to the body at his feet.

Megatron, powerful and infamous leader of the Decepticons, was dead. Without him, the remaining forces would splinter and scatter as the faction fell apart. Subfactions and combiner teams would draw in and bicker between each other, none able to pull the forces together once more to make of themselves a threat of anywhere near the level they had been for thousands of years.

Megatron was dead, and with him, certainly, the war that had torn apart Cybertron and threatened to do the same to Earth. At last, the Autobots could realize the peace and freedom they'd dreamed of and fought for for thousands of years.

Optimus Prime gazed at the face of the mech who had caused so much suffering and grief, who had been the primary force responsible for countless lives lost. He tried to feel glad, relieved, triumphant . . . something . . . but all he could do was grieve. One more life lost, one more spark that couldn't be saved.

He wondered how much of his own he had lost as well.

He looked around at his troops, powerful voice a steady boom to mask the turmoil within. "Ironhide, Trailbreaker, Ratchet – load him into my trailer, along with his fusion cannon. And see that he is not mishandled. We're taking him back to base with us."

"What! Why?" came the shocked reactions around him.

"Slagger should just be left to rust, Prime! We-"

"No." The word was simple. Optimus didn't even have to raise his voice. The sheer strength of his tone was enough to make Cliffjumper cut off with a step back. The Autobots' Prime let his gaze scan over all those present, making sure every one of them heard and heeded. "Understand this, Autobots. With Megatron dead, you are right to think the war is over, a new era upon us. We will not start that era rolling in the wrong direction. Every life is important, and every life lost should be mourned, or failing that, at least treated with respect. It is as I have always taught you. All life is sacred, even that of an enemy. Megatron was our greatest, but that gives us no right to treat him with dishonor. If for no other reason than we run the risk of falling to levels ourselves that I will not condone. We are better than that. You are better than that, each one of you. And I want to see every one of you behave accordingly. We are each an example to one another and to those around us. Set the best examples you can, in all things. Especially in victory."

No one spoke, some shifting uncomfortably, others meeting his gaze with a questioning look or a quiet nod. No one challenged him, all of them realizing the truth of his words. That was enough. He nodded, tone softening. "Good. You have all fought well, and I am proud to stand with each and every one of you." He glanced down at the still frame at his feet, vented a deep cycle of air, and squared his shoulders. "Autobots, transform . . . and roll for home."