I wasn't going to post this story until next year, but I had a gust of inspiration last week and I decided to write it now instead. Of course, I could have kept it and save it for some months, but my dear friend and beta reader iratepirate convinced me that I should post it asap, what the heck. I agree. Inspiration is something that should always be followed.
So here it is, a story that has been tickling my mind for a couple of years now, and one that will be quite intense and full of surprises.
I hope you will enjoy :o)
Our Darkest Hour
Written by Taipan Kiryu
Summary: G1. When an unprecedented event causes a radical alteration in the programming of every Transformer, the Autobots turn against everything they held sacred whilst the Decepticons stand as the only hope left for humanity.
Disclaimer: Transformers belong to Hasbro/Takara… you know the deal. I just happen to love these metal guys.
Primus is a practical joker
Primus was not one that had ever had sense of humour.
That's why when He experienced it for the first time in zillions of vorns of existence, He decided to go wild.
Maybe His self-imposed confinement had become too boring, the metallic walls surrounding His main console never so full of nothingness.
Or maybe He got tired of His creations battling a millenary war that did nothing but blur the lines as they reduced the Cybertronian population to a ridiculously low number.
Or perhaps He just wanted to submit Himself into stasis lock for another eternity or two.
Whatever it was, the result was the same.
Primus rotated the board.
And two monsters awakened.
One, to realize that the motors of his life had been only evilness and ambition.
He felt shame.
The other one, only to discover the claws he never knew he possessed.
And he felt pleased.
Both agreed on one thing, though.
They had been mistaken all their lives.
But that was about to change.
Jasper, Nevada, 4:07 pm PST.
The red ribbon moved graciously, teased by the calm wind of the afternoon. Vegetal life, hair and human garments moved as well, imitating the ribbon in the peaceful dance that anticipated the moment in which it would be cut in two to signal the opening of the 'Optimus Prime Park', one more of the many ways in which the humans had honoured their Cybertronian allies.
Optimus Prime stared at his white, motionless twin, unable to repress the slight tingle of embarrassment.
It was too much.
He had been leader of the Autobots for thousands of vorns, but amongst all the things he was certain about was the fact that glory didn't suit him. His relationship with the human race had evolved from respectful to friendly, but still it was too much for him to contemplate his own statue, made to honour him and to serve as a permanent reminder of the ties that bonded Autobots and humans after five years of permanent coexistence. It had all began with a common foe, but now humans and Autobots shared a common life.
Or at least that's what the mayor was saying in his speech. Optimus Prime felt guilty when he realized that he hadn't been fully listening to the human's words, but his lack of attention had other reasons than the mere fact that he had heard that kind of speech dozens of times before. He was more concerned about their current location. Standing in the open during a public event, surrounded by defenseless humans… just the kind of thing that Megatron would consider a target if he was in one of his sick, sadistic moods.
"… so it's with great joy and pride that I declare open 'The Optimus Prime Park', symbol of the friendship and understanding between humans and Autobots…"
A fast and discreet glance toward Prowl confirmed that the heavens remained quiet. The Aerialbots were guarding the area at the top of the near mountain formation and Skyfire would join them soon. His ground forces were also strategically spread through the small town, making any Decepticon attack an anticipated failure.
The logical conclusion was that there was no reason to feel worried, but still Optimus Prime was uneasy. He pinpointed the origin of the feeling to the slight buzz inside his frame. Usually, the Matrix of Leadership remained quiet in the compartment beneath his chest plates; he hardly noticed it was there, perhaps because it had already become one with him and it felt as any other part of his body. But on that Friday afternoon of red ribbons and wind, he was very aware of its presence. The Matrix was alive, and had chosen that precise moment to remind him of such fact.
But it wasn't the Matrix that worried him. The Matrix was not acting, but reacting to something else. Most likely a Decepticon threat, but Optimus Prime knew both the Matrix and his enemies enough and he could tell that it was something else. It sounded extraordinary, and in a way ridiculous, but it was as if the Matrix was reacting to something more distant than time and space, something making its way toward him.
His thoughts were interrupted by the already very familiar sound of applause. That was his cue, and worried or not, Optimus had to follow the protocol. He bent to one knee and extended his right hand, allowing the smiling middle aged man to shake his finger with what appeared to be honest enthusiasm. The Autobot leader waited, allowing the cameras to do their job and preserve the moment for the terrestrial history records. There were also propagandistic motives behind the act, as Optimus noticed when the mayor seemed more concerned about his pose than the event itself, but that was nothing that worried the Prime. He had other things on his mind.
"Mayor Wilson, I speak in the name of all the Autobots when I say how honoured we—"
That was when it happened.
The wind remained soft, the ribbon stayed resting on the pavement after serving its short purpose, the vegetal life and the dresses of the females continued dancing, the music reached its peak of intensity, the cameras never stopped flashing, the mayor kept his oversized smile…
But something had changed.
For the first time since it had been enclosed in his chest compartment, Optimus couldn't feel the force of goodness inside of him.
The Matrix had fallen silent.
Mina Al-Ahmadi refinery, Kuwait, 4:07 pm PST.
Megatron cast an angry glance over the refinery. Everything was working according to plan; the empty cubes produced by Soundwave were being immediately filled by his Decepticons, the local military resistance had been contained and crushed, the surviving human workers had been confined, there was no signal of Autobot interference…
Perhaps that was the reason for the Decepticon leader's disturbance; experience had taught him that there was no such thing as 'according to plan'. There was always the unexpected factor to consider, which usually showed itself in two shapes. One: under the accursed red insignia of the Autobots. And two…
"I would like to take the opportunity to express my congratulations, Megatron. It had been a while since your wise leadership guided us to a successful energy raid."
And two: his no less accursed Second in Command.
Megatron turned to Starscream and greeted him with the usual glare. There it was, the permanent disturbance, the one that reminded him constantly why 'according to plan' was nothing but foretold nonsense.
"Shouldn't you be supervising the energy collection, Starscream?" Megatron asked grimly. He was feeling very anxious already without his biggest curse shadowing his day.
Starscream smirked. "Why, but that's exactly what I'm doing, Megatron." The blasted Seeker waved his arm toward the scenery before them. "Our Decepticons are performing magnificently. I venture to say that this will be the most prolific energy raid we have had since our arrival on this pit of a planet."
"My Decepticons are performing the way I expect them to," Megatron growled; he couldn't tell why, but he was feeling more uneasy by the minute. "And if this raid proves to be as successful as you say, it certainly won't be because of your contribution, buffoon."
"Nor will it be because of your pitiful leadership," Starscream retorted, his smirk increasing. "Without the Autobots to present opposition, even a malfunctioning drone could have turned this mission into a successful raid. Or tell me, oh brave leader, do you have another reason why you chose precisely this oil refinery as our target, and precisely on the day when you knew the Autobots were going to attend a human celebration thousands of mechano-miles away from here?"
Starscream had a way with getting on Megatron's bad side even faster than Optimus Prime, but that day the task was turning out to be very easy, even for his standards. Megatron was definitely not in the mood. He felt like he was hovering over a never-ending abysm with his anti-gravitational system on the edge of failing. It wasn't a familiar sensation, but it was as uncomfortable as it was becoming annoying.
"What? Did a scraplet eat your vocalizer, leader? Or do you find the truth that unbearable?" Starscream pushed further. "You shouldn't feel so bad about it, Megatron. Regardless of whether your plan was motivated by cowardly reasons or not, our Energon reserves will be almost full when we finish here. So who cares if you avoided Optimus Prime the same way you love to avoid victory?"
Starscream kept talking, but suddenly Megatron couldn't hear him anymore, wasn't even aware of his presence. The annoyance surrounding him like a buzz had another source, one he couldn't see or hear; one he couldn't fight.
The Autobots were thousands of mechano-miles away indeed; they wouldn't arrive in time to stop the Decepticons from drying that refinery. But thousands of vorns of war had taught Megatron to feel the presence of an enemy without the need of radar. Not even the slightest bit of an energy signature was present, but Megatron knew it as clearly as if the alarms were sounding.
Something was approaching. And fast.
"… slag is the problem with you? Did your audio receptors stop functioning or something? I'm talking to you, Megatron! Acknowledge me! I knew age would finally get to your rusted processor eventually, but I didn't think it was going to be so soon!"
The annoying screech, the hateful face, the insufferable smirk… Instinct guided Megatron, more than fury, and suddenly he felt the familiar sting on the back of his hand as it impacted the face plates of his Second in Command. The hit was so brutal that it sent Starscream spiraling backward, making him hit a near cooling tower. The Seeker fell on his knees. Above him, the tower trembled.
And as the pavement started to crack, Megatron felt the newcomer finally making its entrance to his processor. The feeling was not a stranger, but he hadn't computed it in such a long time that it took him some astrokliks to recognize it.
For one moment, he was a young miner again, his hands covered in the vital fluid of a dead mech, innocence snatched away from him in the most horrible and disgraceful way.
No…. Nonono… What… what did I…
From the ground, Starscream raised his head and turned to look at him. There was no hate in his optics, not even the expected desire for retaliation. There was only pain and confusion.
But Megatron was beyond those feelings. In that moment, only one prevailed.
Megatron recognized it fully this time. It was there, staining his spark as clearly as he had stained his hands countless times with the blood of the ones he had appointed as his enemies.
His neck hurt when he forced it to rotate towards the dozens of terrorized humans that waited in fearful silence, confined inside a metallic cage like animals.
Animals that his Decepticons had deprived of their freedom, following his orders…
Guilt became a torture when he caught sight of the dead corpses that lay spread over the platform, soldiers and unlucky workers that had committed the mistake of standing between the Decepticons and the energy they already considered theirs.
They were innocents, and yet they had been murdered.
He had murdered them.
Megatron bowed his head, the feeling of filthiness spreading through his systems faster than the cosmic rust that had invaded him once. The image of those deceased humans would remain in his processor as the permanent reminder of who he had been.
The tower kept trembling, signaling its imminent collapse. The humans screamed, realizing that it would fall on top of them.
More deaths… absolute carnage brought by his hand.
"Decepticons, save the humans!" Megatron heard himself ordering. He hadn't chosen the words, they came to him naturally. He knew that one minute earlier he would have never even considered saying anything like that, not even in the most acidic of irony. And yet, the words didn't feel foreign. It was as if his need for redemption had been there, dormant inside his processor for millions of years, waiting to be released.
And now he was free.
Optimus Prime looked toward Prowl again. No alterations in the radars, no enemy energy signatures detected, no suspicious sightings…
Everything remained the same, and yet it felt so new. He was kneeling, and he hated it. How many times had he knelt like that, courtesy or kindness guiding his actions, and how many times had he hated it?
Every single one of them. He was surprised that he had never been able to realize it before, when it was so clear now.
Optimus Prime was seeing for the first time in his life. His optics had opened, no barriers of fake morality blurring his vision.
"Uh… Mister Optimus Prime?"
He heard the voice beneath him but he didn't bother in looking at the human. He got to his feet and stared at his High Command, one by one, calmly regarding them with a stare that found nothing but acceptance.
The wind kept blowing, sending pleasant sensations to his metallic features. He turned to his left, to the white statue that mimicked his form. It looked a lot like him indeed, but of course he had noticed the not-so-small mistakes even before he had stopped caring about the wind and all the smiling faces surrounding him. The shape of the helm wasn't accurate, the chest plates were wider than his, the legs were very long, not proportioned with the rest of the body… One minute ago, he wouldn't have cared about any of those things. He would have noticed them but he would have disregarded them immediately and have only cared about the generosity behind that statue.
But now he could see. All the things that had remained invisible to his sight lay bare naked before him now.
And they annoyed him.
He looked at his troops again. Prowl was respectfully standing behind him, as well as Ironhide, ready to defend him from any Decepticon threat. Jazz was at his right, beside the stage, optic visor fixed on him. His ground forces were guarding the square, also looking at him, waiting… He could also feel the presence of the Aerialbots nearby, their attention turned from the skies to him. They were there, his soldiers, loyal as ever and ready to obey his command.
Then he looked at the humans; at the mayor and his wife, at the smiling people waving white flags with Autobot insignias, at the children wearing garments with his figure imprinted on them… They were all there, looking at him expectantly. He knew the protocol. He was supposed to speak, to continue his speech of demagogic gratitude.
But when he spoke, with his voice as calm and composed as ever, he addressed only his Autobots.
"Kill them all," he said in Cybertronian.
To be continued.
As far as I know, Jasper, Nevada, is a fictional place. And yes, that was a blunt hint to Transformers Prime - but just that, a hint, because this fic will be one hundred percent G1. On the other hand, the refinery in Kuwait actually exists, but I didn't mention it with any second intentions, just as a location.
The mention of Megatron's past was taken from the IDW comic 'Megatron Origin', in which Megatron freaks out after killing a guard. The 'No… nonono…' line was actually taken from the comic.
I will try to update this story as frequently as I can, but please be patient because I have other ongoing fics and I don't want to neglect them so much.
Please let me know your opinions. I highly value them and they provide a lot of inspiration for faster updates.