Author's Note: Watch for references to the movie Land Before Time. Mostly similar dialogue.
Optimus Prime stood in a grassy clearing as the sun set. He stood out there to get away from all of the commotion. He was glad that his Autobot team had something to celebrate, as well as their human allies. But Optimus didn't feel like celebrating the end of the war with a party. So he found a quiet place for himself. He stood tall and proud in the dimming sunlight, keeping up his strong and noble leader appearance. When he was absolutely sure no one was watching, he laid down in the grass and completely relaxed. He stretched his arms out and let go of all the inner sorrow and grief he had to carry on his shoulders during the war. He was finally at peace. With the sun set over the hills, the sky grew darker, and Optimus looked for the first stars of the night. It reminded him of nights on Cybertron when he would lie down under the stars, and contemplate the universe. He hadn't felt so calm and happy since he was a youngling. He took the Matrix of Leadership from his chest and positioned it to hover just above his head. He tapped the pointed sides and made it spin back and forth like a compass directly over a magnet. For once in many millenniums, Optimus actually laughed. He started to spin the Matrix back and forth faster and faster.
"Optimus. That's not a toy." Optimus could almost hear his femme creator say. He caused the Matrix to drop back in his hand. He smiled at the memory of his mother's voice in his head. 'I really am acting like a youngling again, aren't I?' Optimus thought. Then the memory of his mother came back. This time it was sad. He began to realize how much he lost in the war, and even before the war. Optimus lost his mother to a bombing of senseless violence. He told himself countless times that she could have lived a full life, if they hadn't gone into town that day. The experience came back to Optimus so vividly.
Optimus' tiny hand held tightly to his mother's hand. He ran to keep up with her. This was typical for the young Prime's mother to be in such a hurry through Iacon's market. She never liked crowds. That's why she and her two younglings lived on the outskirts of town, away from the crowded city and the uprising riots. Optimus was distracted by the fascinating lights of the city flashing by and his mother was focused on getting home. Neither expected what was about to happen. They stopped at a booth to purchase something. Optimus' mother let go of his hand for a moment, and started a conversation with her youngling to make sure he wouldn't run off. She pulled a flier off the booth and showed a picture of Sentinel Prime to Optimus.
"Do you think you can be as great as Sentinel Prime?" She asked. Optimus shook his head. His mother made her purchase with energon cubes and they walked away with their shopping completed. "You're a wonderful little mech, Optimus. Why don't you believe you can be like Sentinel?" His mother wondered. She was a bit concerned. When she asked her oldest youngling the same question, Megatron carried on for two breams about how strong he would be when he got bigger.
"I'm not strong enough. Mega says I'm too little to go to Youth Sectors." Optimus answered in a small voice.
"You will grow. Someday soon you'll be ready for the Youth Sectors. I have faith in you. You will be successful with what ever you choose to be." She comforted.
"Do you think Father is successful with what he chose?" Optimus asked. His mother was surprised to hear Optimus bring up his father. In fact, she didn't even know that Optimus remembered enough about his father to know who he was. Optimus' and Megatron's mech creator left their mother on her own as a single creator when Optimus and Megatron were very young. After Optimus grew two vorns, and Megatron five, their father decided he couldn't be responsible for sparklings anymore. So he took off and never came back.
"I hope he's happy, for all the trouble he's caused. I'm almost happy he didn't come back."
"Some things are just unforgivable Optimus. Sometimes you do something bad, and you can never change it." Optimus clinged closer to his mother's arm. They walked on silently for a few blocks. Optimus caught the sight of someone playing music on the street corner, and giggled. His mother looked down and smiled, happy that her youngling was happy again. The next thing the curious youngling saw was a moon rising in the evening sky.
"Moonbase One!" He pointed out.
"That's right Optimus. How did you know which moon it was?"
"Mega taught me." Optimus would have gone on to say that Megatron didn't teach him enough because, Megatron had no patience for questions. But Optimus was cut off with the deafening explosion that rocked the ground, and shook him off his feet. Fear struck him. He froze where he was, not knowing what to do with the panicked meches and femmes screaming and scattering everywhere. Optimus curled into a ball to protect his head. He was inches from being trampled by the crowd, when his mother dived in and snatched him up in her arms. She dodged straight through the charging chaos and crawled into a tunnel of debris for shelter. Optimus hugged his mother's neck and listened to her spark to calm himself. His mother hugged him and held him close, knowing how distressed the young one was. She knew it was all her fault. She should have known better than to go into town with the bombings and riots breaking out. Screams outside their shelter in the shadows, became distant. Optimus' mother cautiously carried her youngling towards the opening, and looked out. Everything appeared safe. The mother and youngling would have gone home at that moment... if there hadn't have been a second bomb.
Without warning, the horrifying roaring sound came back. Optimus' mother looked back at the burst of fire racing towards them. As a last resort, she pushed Optimus out of the shelter. She tried to squeeze out with him, but at the last moment she realized her foot was caught in wires sticking out from Cybertron's crust. She couldn't think of how she could have gotten tangled, and there was no time to escape. So the brave mother made up her mind. She would shield her youngling and let the explosion take her life if it was Primus' plan. Optimus was thrown out into the street so quickly, he didn't have time to register what was happening. He looked up and saw the cloud of fire still coming at him with smoke clouds bigger than the youngling could comprehend. The fire devoured the shelter, and its crackling flames roared. Optimus ran behind a building and covered his audio receptors and shut down his optics. (He would be grateful later that he never heard the agonized screaming.)
Suddenly Optimus felt a tiny stinging sensation on his head. He grabbed a near by piece of scrap metal and held it over his head like an umbrella. He knew how dangerous acid rain could be. But when it wasn't hitting him, he thought it looked beautiful when it splashed in puddles. The rain didn't last long. It only drizzled long enough for the fire to die down. When the rail was now only a couple sprinkled drops, Optimus ran back across the street. But he froze when he saw their tunnel shelter in pieces. Burned, charred, and blown to bits. He almost didn't recognize his mother, but there she was, lying directly in front of where the shelter's exit used to be.
"Artemis!" Optimus screamed. He sprinted towards her. He fell to his knees at her side and cried. His poor mother was leaking energon from her spark chamber. Her beautiful sky blue armor was ruined with a dirty grey color. Her armor was also broken and melted where she was most vulnerable. Her face was turned away from him, and she didn't move the smallest bit. Optimus leaned over her fading spark and buried his face in her arm, crying. He was surprised to feel gentle fingers stroke his head. He realized that Artemis was moving. He looked back at her face. It was turning towards him, with a pained smile. "Artemis." Optimus sighed, and hugged her neck. Artemis nuzzled her head close to her youngling, since that was all she could move.
"Dear sweet Optimus..." Artemis sighed weakly. Optimus held her hand.
"Please get up." Optimus cried.
"I'm...not sure I...can." she said through the pained gasps from trying to move. Artemis stopped struggling to move and relaxed her body.
"Sure you can. We have to go home."
"...Do you remember the way home, to your brother?"
"I guess so. But why do I have to know? We're going together, right?" Artemis weakly nodded. Her optics were flickering in and out more.
"You and I will always be together. I will always be with you, to guide you. As goes for Megatron. I love you both so much. Even when you can't see me, I'm there."
"What do you mean? We can always see you. Mega and I are always with you too." Now Artemis felt like she would cry. She dreaded the day she'd have to let her sparklings go, and grow up on their own. But she never imagined it would be like this.
"That is true Optimus. But from now on Megatron will protect you. And you need to look after him too. From now on, you won't see me with your optics." Artemis whispered. Optimus was starting to understand now.
"Will I ever see you again?"
"Yes. But you must look, and listen, with your spark, and I will never leave you." Artemis' hand fell limp in Optimus' grasp. "Follow your spark Optimus. It whispers; so listen carefully."
"Artemis?" Optimus whimpered. She gave her youngling one last reassuring smile, and then her clear blue optics dimmed, and finally went dark. "Mother?"
When Optimus brought himself back to reality, he felt a strange presence near him. He could sense it coming from the Matrix. The presence was coming closer to him, but he couldn't see it. Optimus gazed at the Matrix for an answer. A haunting and familiar voice gave him chills.
"She never could be ashamed with either one of us." In one swift motion, Optimus hid the Matrix back in his chest, and jumped up with his massive guns ready. He was petrified when he recognized the voice that spoke to him. "Even with the war against each other, even when I killed you, and you killed me, she would still love us unconditionally. And all this time I thought you were her favorite." The voice of Megatron continued.
"Where are you Megatron?"
"Follow Artemis' advice and you will see me." Optimus offlined his optics and listened to his spark. He noticed that his spark and the Matrix were pulsing at the same rate. He listened closely to them both. The Matrix's pulse turned into Megatron's voice. "Surprised to see me, Brother?" Optimus onlined his optics. He took a step back, startled by what he saw. Megatron was alive and well... and younger! He looked about the age he was before the war started, when he was High Protector of Cybertron. Optimus also looked many vorns younger. He looked down at himself and realized he had his Cybertronian frame again. He wasn't formatted to transform into a semi truck anymore. Optimus was scared to death of what ever was happening to him, and kept backing away from Megatron's younger self. Megatron only smiled and watched, shaking his head. "Normally we would be locked fist to fist in another death match. But as you can see, I'm not capable of fighting a war in my current form."
"How are you alive, Megatron?"
"I'm not." Optimus' optics widened. "And I didn't offline you again, if that's what you were thinking." Megatron added bitterly. Optimus looked up at the sky. A cloud moved over them and began to pour water on them. But the rain never got Optimus wet. Optimus observed that it passed straight through him. He took a scan of his surroundings, but nothing came up. Though he saw the grass, the trees, the mountains and the rain, his scan detected nothing. He saw the living Earth around them. But all Optimus Prime's scan could prove truly existed was himself, Megatron, the Matrix, and an invisible empty void around them.
"So where are we Megatron?" Megatron folded his arms behind his back and began to circle Optimus.
"Between life and death. Between Earth and the Well of All Sparks. It was the Matrix that opened the doorway here. I was overhearing your thoughts when I dropped in this way. I should have known you would have preferred to see Artemis rather than me."
"Is Artemis with you?" Megatron nodded.
"We both made it to the Well of All Sparks to live in Primus' grace."
"You Megatron? How is it that the almighty Primus has granted you paradise after death?"
"I haven't received my eternal reward yet. But I will. Whether it will be with Primus or in the Pits of Unicron, is your choice."
"Why is it my choice? I'm not Primus."
"But you are Optimus Prime, my brother. If you never see my face again, won't you want to know I received justice?" Optimus didn't answer. Megatron decided his silence meant 'yes'. "So I'll ask you one question that will determine my fate. All I have to ask you is..." A thick white light blinded Optimus. He fell down on the ground and tried to shield his optics. When the light faded, Megatron stood before him as an innocent youngling. Optimus was also reformatted into his much, much younger self. Optimus looked closely at his smiling brother. This Megatron he once knew protected him and loved him like a brother should. "Can you forgive me?" Megatron's youngling voice quivered. Optimus opened his arms to his brother and hugged him. Megatron accepted the hug. He figured it wasn't so bad since the power of the Matrix helped them appear as younglings at the moment. Besides that, Megatron missed his growing up with his brother just as much as Optimus did.
Then it occurred to Optimus what he had to do. He was assigned to be Megatron's judge. He had to give his brother justice. Megatron committed countless crimes and took the lives of so many innocents. 'You don't deserve eternal glory.' Optimus thought. Megatron was truly sorry this time. Optimus could see it in his optics. Although, those optics had deceived him many times before. 'Even you don't deserve eternal torture in the Pits.' Optimus couldn't decide. How could he? Then Optimus had an idea. It was as if Primus or one of the ancient Primes whispered it to him.
"Your deeds haven't earned you an eternity in the Pits." Optimus sighed, distancing himself from Megatron.
"Oh thank you Optimus! I promise you won't regret this decision." Megatron groveled.
"Megatron please. All I want you to know is that I always loved you Brother." Optimus said soothingly.
"Then I will see you on the other side someday?"
"No." Megatron looked confused. "You will stay right here." Optimus held up the Matrix and he began to disappear with it. Megatron tried to grab the Matrix as well. But his hands were slipping through it like there was nothing there. "This is your eternal award. You can not leave." Optimus stated.
"No! Take me with you!"
"Until all are one." That was the last thing Optimus said before leaving Megatron trapped between dimensions of time and space. When he hit the ground and found himself back to where he started, he wanted to get out of the area as soon as he could. Optimus knew Megatron could never reach him, never hurt anyone ever again and never be hurt by anyone else. But he still wanted to be far away from the last place he saw Megatron. So he rolled back to base, wondering just how long he'd been gone.
"Are you ashamed of me?" Optimus asked to no one in particular. He was still thinking about what he'd done to Megatron when he rolled onto the base early in the morning. Someone answered him. It was a whisper, but even so, he knew the voice without a doubt to be his mother's. 'Don't go Artemis!' Optimus thought. He took a tight corner towards the East side of NEST, determined to follow the voice. He skidded to a stop when he couldn't hear it anymore. There was absolute silence for a couple minutes. Optimus decided he was only imagining things, and was about to turn into the base. Then he felt something. Warmth. Optimus transformed and looked to the East. The sun was just coming up. Its rays stretched over the hills and lit up the clouds and sky with beautiful shades of orange, red, and pink. Optimus hadn't seen anything on Earth so beautiful. Optimus knew everything that happened last night, happened for a reason. Megatron got what he deserved. It was a punishment of brotherly love, whether he realized it or not. And Optimus knew now that his mother still guided him everyday. Optimus smiled. He imagined more generations of Autobots living on Earth, building a new family, to tell the war stories that brought the Cybertronian race to Earth millions of years ago.