How quickly time passes, Optimus Prime mused, gazing out the window of his office in Iacon. And how much things change when we're not looking.
Repair work on one of the towers just outside his window was well underway, with both builder drones and Autobot workers laboring tirelessly to restore the building. It was somehow satisfying to see the tower come together, albeit slowly, a piece at a time, and to view the progress that had been made in the reconstruction each day. It satisfied Prime even more to see exactly who was working on the repairs – not just Autobot builders, but the Constructicons, each group working side by side and cooperating fully with the repairs. Hook even supervised the construction efforts, calling out orders and constantly referring to a holo-blueprint of the building to ensure everything was going according to plan.
The same scenario Prime saw out his window was being repeated in the streets of Cybertron wherever he went – Autobots and former Decepticons working together to heal and rebuild their shattered homeworld. After eons of civil war, Cybertronians were finally setting their differences aside, putting the welfare of their world ahead of their disagreements. It had taken a great deal of suffering and sacrifice to get this far, and there was still a long, hard road ahead before things were totally restored, but Prime had faith that they would see a whole, peaceful Cybertron before his functioning days were over.
Nothing was perfect, of course, and while the main war was over, Cybertron was not yet entirely peaceful. They had managed to put down Razorclaw's Predacon uprising, capturing the Predacon leader and imprisoning him, but there were still rogue Decepticon factions out there trying to retake Cybertron. And several Autobot groups were actively protesting Prime's efforts to help the former Decepticons integrate themselves into society, claiming that the only good Decepticon was an imprisoned or dead one. It would be a long while yet before things settled down for good, and some mechs harbored enough resentment toward one side or the other that they might never let go of their hate.
Such was the damage the war had inflicted, Prime thought. Some scars could never entirely be healed. But they would do their best to move on despite everything.
Prowl's voice pinged over his radio, interrupting his reverie. Optimus, two scouts reporting from Tarn. They wish to speak to you directly.
Are they who I think they are?
Most likely, came the amused reply.
Prime chuckled softly. Send them in.
The door to his office slid open, admitting two young mechs – already upgraded to adult form but in that fresh, slightly awkward stage humans would have called "teenagers." The first strode forward and saluted crisply, barely suppressing a satisfied smile. A white Seeker with scarlet and blue highlights, he was one of the top fliers in the Autobot Air Force and well on his way to becoming Air Commander. Ambitious and eager to prove himself, he was valued among the fliers for his intelligence and bravery, and Air Commander Silverbolt frequently relied on his advice and suggestions when planning missions or projects.
A far cry from his previous self, Prime couldn't help but think. Perhaps Skywarp had been right, and all Starscream had needed was a little guidance… not to mention a superior who took his suggestions seriously and truly listened to what he had to say instead of dismissing him as an idiot right away. Oh, he still had his lofty aspirations, making it no secret that he wanted to be Air Commander someday, but he seemed content to earn the position through his own merits rather than through treachery.
"Tarn sector of Cybertron clear, Prime sir," Starscream reported. "No sign of Decepticon rebel activity. Repairs progressing well, no sign of sabotage."
"Good," Prime noted, relaxing slightly in relief. "Very good to know on all counts." He wished he could have said the same for other sections of Cybertron, especially the Decepticon-controlled areas. Kaon was still on full lockdown after Onslaught and his team had been sighted there, and an Autobot resistance group was actively sabotaging repair efforts in Polyhex. Prime took both threats very seriously – he had no desire to see a rogue faction of Decepticons reignite the war, nor did he condone Autobots trying to keep the feud between their factions going.
"Anything else?" he asked the young Seeker.
"Negative, sir," Starscream replied, "except that preparations for the Games are well underway."
"Also good." One of the first things Thundercracker had requested once their forces had returned to Cybertron was that the Cybertron Air and Track Games, a ceremonial competition similar to the humans' Olympics, be re-established. Said Games were scheduled to take place in a decacycle's time, and it was Prime's hope that the friendly competition and emphasis on unity the Games provided would help further mend the Cybertronians' spirits.
"If there's nothing else, Starscream, you're dismissed," Prime told the young Seeker. "Thank you. You've been a great help to our cause."
Starscream beamed at the compliment and turned to go, leaving the other scout with Prime. This mech was bulkier in build than Starscream, but not overly so, with silver armor accented with black and red. Twin blades, part of his helicopter alt mod but also detachable to serve as swords, hung from his back, and a third blade hung from a sheath at his hip. He shifted on his feet a bit, as if nervous in Prime's presence.
"You're free to sit down," Prime told him. "You can relax and be at ease here. You know that."
The mech shook his head. "You're my superior now, sir. That'd be inappropriate."
"I suppose, in a sense, I've been your superior for a long time," Prime acknowledged. "But we're in private now. There's no need for formalities… including calling me 'sir.' You can call me what you're used to calling me."
He smiled a bit at that. "All right, Dad."
Prime smiled back, knowing his mask hid the expression but hoping his optics conveyed some of it. Metronix had made him so proud over the past two vorns. Despite so many doubts and fears from the Autobots in general, he had grown into a fine young mech, and by the time his upgrade had come due, most of Cybertron was perfectly willing to accept him as an Autobot in his own right, and not as just another version of Megatron.
It had helped, of course, that when the time had come for his upgrade both Prime and Metronix had decided that it would just cause too many problems for him to return to either of his original alt modes. Both his Cybertronian tank mode and his Earth rifle mode were too infamous among the Autobots in general, and Metronix wanted to make every effort to distance himself from his former life. He had briefly toyed with becoming a jet – earning some good-natured teasing from Starscream, who'd joked that he could end up as Metronix's superior if he chose that alt mode – but in the end he had settled for a helicopter mode.
Prime didn't return to his desk but instead motioned for Metronix to join him at the window. Together they gazed out at the Cybertronian skyline, watching as the sun set and the lights of the cityscape began to come on. Foot and vehicle traffic filled the streets as mechs returned to their homes after a long day's work, and floating spots of color marked where fliers were making their way home as well. From his vantage point Prime could pick out new buildings, as well as the shells of bombed-out buildings that still needed repaired or replaced… though thankfully there were far fewer of the latter anymore.
"How are you faring, Metronix?" Prime asked at last. "Still able to juggle your responsibilities in the archives with your patrols?"
Metronix had to smile at that. "Patrol isn't that hard. And even if it was, I don't want to give it up. I want to do my part to help out."
"Your work in the archives helps the Autobots as well," Prime reminded him. "Kup tells me you've done a phenomenal job of helping us organize our records, and ensuring the Decepticon history is preserved and integrated into the archives."
"That's not exactly hard either," Metronix pointed out. "The hardest part is remembering not to read on the job. I keep coming across datapads that look interesting and getting distracted."
Prime had to chuckle at that. Who would have thought that the mech formerly known as Megatron would end up a bibliophile? Already his work in the archives was catching the notice of many of the archivists and storytellers, Kup included, and there was talk of making him an archivist himself. Prime had always known him to be exceptionally intelligent, even if he had his quirks, but to see him use that intelligence for peaceful purposes rather than war was rather gratifying.
"Are you getting along well with the others?"
"For the most part. Still getting some rotten looks from a few of the 'Bots. Starscream keeps suggesting we just carry them up to tower height and drop them, but I doubt that's going to help."
"It sounds like Thundercracker needs a word with him," Prime sighed.
"I'm pretty sure he's just joking," Metronix assured him, smiling a bit.
"If you're certain," Prime replied. Metronix would know if the white Seeker was kidding better than he would. Another surprise and irony in Metronix's life – after their initial period of bickering and jostling for attention as sparklings, the two mechs had become close friends. Metronix's mellow nature made an interesting foil for Starscream's ambition and enthusiasm, but one was rarely seen without the other, and they laughed and joked together as if they hadn't spent millions of years trying to kill each other in another life.
How far those two had come in such a short time… and how much had changed.
Metronix shifted slightly, frowning as if trying to decide how to phrase his next words. Prime caught the movement and frowned himself, wondering what was troubling the young mech.
"Is something wrong?" he asked.
Metronix hesitated, then spoke. "Dad… I've been looking through some of the records on the war. Some of the things I did… or that Megatron did, I guess…" He rubbed absently at his right arm. "I remember some of the things that happened, but it feels disconnected from me somehow. Like it happened to someone else entirely."
"That's the best way to think about it, Metronix," Prime assured him. "You are not Megatron – you chose to renounce him and live a new life. I am sorry you must carry his memories with you."
"It's not your fault," Metronix replied. "It's something I just deal with, I guess. But what I've been reading in the archives has made me think on it a little more."
Prime waited for him to continue, concerned. Whatever this was, if it involved his past…
"I guess what I'm trying to ask is… why? When you found me as a sparkling, knowing full well who I used to be and what'd I'd done… why'd you take me in? We were enemies… and I don't know what I – what Megatron would have done if it had been you instead of him."
Prime reached over and rested his arm on Metronix's, squeezing lightly. "Because I knew this would be a chance for you to start over. To live a new life, a good life. I thought that by raising you as one of us and giving you the loving family Megatron never had, I could help you become a better mech. It was the best way I could see to end the war without further oilshed."
"But you could have just gotten rid of me then and been done with it," Metronix protested. "Not that I want that to have happened… but Ironhide says there were Autobots who wanted to get rid of me at the time. Why didn't you? That would have been easier…"
"Easier… but not right. Raising you as an Autobot was a challenge in its own right – raising a sparkling always is. But it was the right thing to do." He moved his hand to Metronix's shoulder. "And had I done that, I would have never had the pleasure of calling you my son. There are many things in my life I wish I'd done differently… but I do not, and will never, regret raising you as my son."
Metronix managed a smile. "I made life pretty difficult for you, didn't I?"
"Oh, you did," Prime admitted with a chuckle. "Red Alert was furious when he found out you were staying on the Ark."
Metronix laughed at that. "I remember hiding under the conference table and grabbing his feet. And giving the snake to Ratchet… and Starscream and I switching Tracks' wax for glue."
Prime groaned a bit as he remembered that last fiasco – Tracks had flown into a rage, and both sparklings had spent hours hiding from him. Though one good thing had come out of that incident – it had been the turning point in the sparklings' relationship, and marked the point where they had stopped fighting and started considering each other friends. That, he couldn't exactly complain about.
"You've had a good sparkling-hood, Metronix," Prime replied. "You've made me proud to call you son. And I'm confident you'll continue to make me proud of you, and make a good name for yourself among the Autobots."
Metronix smiled, a bit bashful at the compliments. "Thanks… and for what it's worth, I'm proud to call you my father."
A flood of pride filled Prime's spark at those words. Those words meant a great deal to him – far more than any honor or compliment paid him by any other Autobot.
Another chime on his radio interrupted their conversation – not Prowl this time, but a younger, pleasantly accented voice. Am I interrupting something?
Not at all, Shockwave. Come in.
The door to his office opened to admit the violet mech. Like Megatron, Shockwave had opted to forego his old life's gun mode when choosing an alt mode, and he now bore the thick treads of a tank mode on his legs as well as a cannon on one arm. He still had the pointed headfins of before, but instead of the eerie single optic typical of his former life he had a normal mech's face, with amber optics constantly covered by a clear protective visor that gave him the look of an earnest scholar. He carried several datapads under one arm, and he had to stoop to pick up a few more that he'd dropped on the way in.
"Reporting on your father's latest projects?" Prime asked, chuckling and going over to help him.
"Oh yes, Father's work is never done," Shockwave replied. "There's been some exciting new developments – and he thinks that we'll be able to establish a permanent space bridge between Earth and Cybertron before the end of the cycle!"
"That's wonderful news!" Metronix exclaimed, grinning brightly. "Has he put you in charge of that project?"
"Oh no, not yet," Shockwave replied. "I'm more interested in the six-changer project, to be honest. That's looking very promising too." He deposited his armload of datapads on Prime's desk. "Ready for your inspection, Prime sir."
Prime had to smile at the young scientist-in-training, marveling at how far he had come as well. The sadistic scientist and commander of the past was gone, replaced by a bright and inquisitive young mech who was constantly fascinated by how things worked, and how science could be utilized to improve their lives and homeworld. At the moment he was simply an assistant in Perceptor's laboratory, but Perceptor had reported that he was considering trusting him with a major project very soon. Prime looked forward to seeing what kind of scientist Shockwave would prove to be in his second incarnation.
"Thank you, Shockwave," Prime told him. "You've been very helpful. Do you have any other duties you need to take care of today?"
"Not exactly," Shockwave replied, "but I did want to get some reading done tonight – Metronix found an absolutely riveting volume in the archives about subatomic particles that I wanted to look over…"
"Would you be willing to delay your studies for one night?" Prime asked. "Because I was considering inviting you and your father to join us for drinks at the Dancetron tonight."
"Oh! That sounds wonderful! I haven't been there to see Soundwave in a long time! If I can pull Father away from his work long enough for that…"
Prime chuckled a bit at that. Of the four former Decepticon commanders, Soundwave seemed to have changed the most from his old self. No longer the near-silent, enigmatic henchman to Megatron, his second sparkling-hood under Jazz's care had transformed him to a friendly, open mech with a deep love of music and dance. Though he had kept his original alt mode of a tape deck, he no longer wore the mask of his former self, though he kept the visor on the grounds that it made him "look cooler" and more like his father. Now he operated Iacon's most popular nightclub, the Dancetron, acting as DJ while Rumble and Frenzy staffed the bar and Ravage, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, and Ratbat served as security.
Some might have considered that a serious step down from his former life… but Jazz couldn't have been prouder of him had he turned out to be next in line to bear the Matrix. He was simply ecstatic that Soundwave was as passionate about music as he was, and that he wanted to put his energies to creative use rather than destructive.
"Dad, mind if I ask Starscream to join us too?" Metronix asked. "Seeing as we're sort of getting the gang together tonight, I'd hate for him to be left out."
"That's perfectly fine," Prime replied. "Give him a call. I'll see if Elita's free to go, then we'll meet outside and go together."
Prime patted Metronix's shoulder one last time, then turned to go. Elita was being kept busy these days, helping mechs who had fled the planet to escape the war find new homes and get settled, and she didn't get as much time to visit with Prime and Metronix as she would have liked. But hopefully she could find time in her schedule tonight.
If only Xaaron could see us now, he thought as he paused outside the door of his office, reflecting a bit. The Emirate had long since retired from the Council, and anymore seldom left his estate on the other side of Cybertron, preferring his solitude. Prime had a feeling that he would have been somewhat irritated to know that not only was Metronix defying his past to become an exemplary Autobot, but that he was being accepted for what he was by his fellow Autobots, rather than rejected for his past.
You warned me that I would have to accept the consequences of my decision, Emirate Xaaron, Prime thought. I think said consequences turned out to be far more positive than you thought they would be.
With a soft sigh he continued down the corridor, heading for Elita's office. The past few vorns had been a time of great change for the planet… and for his life. It had been difficult, adjusting to a peaceful Cybertron and helping Metronix find his place among the Autobots. And he would not deny that there had been hard times, and that there had been days when he'd simply wanted to give up and stop trying. But he hadn't lived as long as he had without learning that nothing worthwhile came without a struggle. And in the end, it had all been worth it.