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Last Best


Note: Recently Raksha posted a fanfic about Optimus joining the Decepticons in response to Megatron joining the Autobots in the IDW comics. It was a short fic and it only showed the moment that he actually joined, not what led him to desert the Autobots. I took up the challenge to try and come up with a story explaining why he would do something so out-of-character. This is what I came up with. Enjoy!


LAST BEST
by Mako Crab




5.5 million years ago.


He stood motionless on the rocky planetoid as though in a trance; Optimus Prime. The volcanic rock was remote, distant and of no scientific or military significance. No one would come looking for him here. His dull blue optics flickered a little, brightening, as though he had been shaken out of deep thought. And then they brightened in confusion. He was holding the Matrix of Leadership in his right hand, but could not remember having removed it from his chest cavity.


Why had he come here? A vague feeling of urgency tapped away in the back of his mind, every second the tapping becoming quieter, more distant and muffled until it was replaced entirely with confusion. The Matrix was no longer in his hand and he couldn’t remember having placed it back within his chest. Couldn’t remember why he had come. Couldn’t remember the urgency with which he set out alone to this desolate location. Optimus spotted his ship nearby and began walking towards it. On the long hours it would take him to return home, he would forget that he had journeyed here at all. Had he landed his ship just a few kilometers to the west, however, he would have seen a very familiar set of footprints frozen in the alien landscape. He had made this journey before. . .




Now.


Optimus Prime stared into the red optics of his nemesis, Megatron. The Decepticon leader lay beaten at Optimus’ feet. How many times had they been in this position? How many times had Megatron escaped to fight another day? No more! No more speeches. No more banter. No more attempts to reason or to savor the victory. No, this time Optimus was going to simply end it. He stepped forward, thrusting the barrel of his ion rifle at Megatron’s head. His finger beginning to tighten the trigger and then. . .


“This is where it ends, Megatron. Today you answer for your crimes. Today your defeat is absolute. The Decepticons are no more!”


“Stuck in a data loop, Optimus?” Megatron chortled. “You’ve given me that speech a thousand times!” Seemingly out of nowhere, Laserbeak swooped in, knocking Prime’s rifle away. In the ensuing skirmish the Decepticons made a hasty retreat led by a laughing Megatron. The war would have to end another day.


It had been hours since the battle ended, and in that time Optimus had been secluded in the war room of Autobot Headquarters. The room was dark, lit only by blue holographic maps of Cybertron emanating from the table at the center of the room.


“Every time. Every time I have Megatron in my sights, I hesitate. Why?! WHY!” He pounded a fist on the table, causing the holographic map to warble. A horrible thought entered his mind- maybe he was stuck in a data loop. Could it be Megatron had actually hit upon a stark truth? He needed answers.


“Computer, seal doors. I am not to be disturbed.” Multiple layers of his chest armor opened, revealing the Autobot Matrix of Leadership contained within him. Grasping it with both hands, Optimus removed it, his chest compartment closing afterwards. He gazed into its blue crystalline core and in moments entered a trance state. The war room was no longer empty. Ghost-like figures of all the former Autobot leaders stood around the table: Sentinel Prime, Zeta Prime, Prime Nova, Alpha Trion and many others.


“Welcome, Optimus Prime,” the spectre of Alpha Trion spoke.
“My mentor, do you know why I’ve come?”
“Of course. We perceive all that you experience through your connection with the Matrix.”
“This war has been waged for millions of years without end. But more than that-“
“You feel personally responsible for squandering opportunities that would end the war.”
“Yes. Peace negotiations always fall through. And again today-“
“You missed the chance to cut off the head of the Decepticon Empire.”
“Total victory has been within our grasp so many times, only for the Decepticons to return stronger than ever. Even with all the wisdom of you and my predecessors guiding me, I have failed to bring this war to an end.”
Alpha Trion chuckled. It carried the tinge of pity. “Oh, Optimus, my prodigy, you haven’t failed. You’ve succeeded more than you can know.”
“What?”
“How many times have we had this same conversation? But I suppose it’s our own fault for protecting you from the truth.”
“What truth? What are you talking about? Alpha Trion?”
Trion remained motionless for a moment, his optics averting themselves from Optimus’ gaze as though he were considering his next words carefully. He let out a sigh, knowing exactly how Optimus would react, had reacted a hundred times before, to the information he was about to give him. “Optimus. . . Optimus, how many worlds have you united against the Decepticon threat?”
“Hundreds. Thousands.”
“Yes, and upon those worlds, countless billions upon billions of allies. All fighting for your cause. You encounter primitive species, and share our technology with them. Raise their quality of life.”
“Yes?”
“And through them, you have brought the Autobots back from the brink of extinction and ensured that our legacy will live on for eternity. How many of those worlds do you think would have so willingly joined your cause and cyber-formed their own worlds without the imminent threat of Megatron and his evil forces? Your mission as a military leader is not to win this war, but to perpetuate it.”
Optimus’ optics brightened in surprise. “I would never!”
“Of course not, Optimus. And that’s why we provide you with a guiding hand.”
“You mean?! My hesitation on the battlefield today- every time I’ve had the chance to end it?!”
Trion chuckled again, “Well, not every time, but more than a handful.” Trion regained a sympathetic tone, “Optimus, please, it’s not as though we’re in league with the Decepticons. They’re merely a tool. We keep them in check, never allowing them to gain too much power. A Decepticon Empire would’ve wiped out all those species that you’ve allied yourself with.”
“Instead I’ve gotten them to conquer themselves for me. I’m a benevolent warlord. And you,” he looked directly into Trion’s optics, “when I was brought to you, and you rebuilt me, changed me from Orion Pax into Optimus Prime, you’ve been influencing me from the start.” Trion stood silently. The conversation was playing out exactly as it had many times before. He knew what came next.
“Return to your world, Optimus. The weight of this truth will not burden you.”
7/28/2015, 1:10 pm Link to this post Send Email to Mako Crab   Send PM to Mako Crab AIM
 
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“I won’t forget!” Optimus yelled to an empty war-room. He looked around, but the spectres were gone. Then he looked to the Matrix of Leadership in his hand. “This thing. They’ve been controlling me through the Matrix. His optics darting around the room, Prime quickly found a storage tote in which he could carry the Matrix. No more would he interface directly with the device. He had to destroy it, but the Matrix was so strongly regarded as a holy artifact, that he would have to do it in secret. Somewhere desolate. Somewhere barren. There was a small volcanic planetoid that came to mind…


Nearly a day’s worth of space-flight had passed, but the planetoid was now in view. He would drop the Matrix into one of the many active magma chambers and be done with it. The heat and pressure would melt it down completely and intermingle it with the elements at the core of the planet. He touched down on the planet’s surface, the ship’s engines kicking up dust and obliterating his own footprints from a millennia ago. Now in his vehicle mode, Prime drove down the boarding ramp and tore into the surface with great urgency. But it wasn’t more than a few hundred feet, when he suddenly remembered that he had left the Matrix aboard the ship. He had been carrying the Matrix within him for so long, that despite a direct link, Trion’s influence over him was still great. “C’mon, Prime. Remember what you’re here to do!” he said to himself. He retrieved the Matrix and set out once again.


Minutes later he came to the edge of a cliff. And below was a roiling cauldron of magma. He opened the tote containing the Matrix, and that was his undoing. Blue light emanating from the crystalline core bathed Optimus, snaring his optics, entrancing him. He managed to shut the tote and avert his optics, face-planting into the rocks and dust and wiping his face as though he were still covered in the blue light.


“I’m here to destroy the Matrix!” he reminded himself. “I have to get it into the lava! Wh- why would I do that? Why would I?” He still felt the dire need to destroy the bauble, but couldn’t remember the reasoning behind it. He removed the Matrix from the tote once again and held it in his palm. “Why would I?” He turned back towards the ship, his foot casually bumping the tote and sending it into the lava cauldron. He paid no notice.


The ship was prepped and he lifted off. He couldn’t shake this strange feeling though. A light on the control console lit up suddenly and Optimus was greeted with an image of himself- a video recording made a few hours before. “If you’re seeing this message, it means I have failed again. You must destroy the Matrix of Leadership! It’s controlling you. For millions of years it’s been controlling you. It doesn’t want the war to end. It will never allow for such an outcome. For the future of Cybertron and for the good of all life in the universe, you must destroy the Matrix! Before they block your memories again!” The video flickered out. A newly stunned Optimus shouted, “I remember!” The ship had now escaped the planet’s gravity and was heading for the stars. The Matrix shone brighter than ever, filling the cockpit with blue light, but Optimus shielded his optics. Straining to focus his thoughts, he changed course, locking the ship on a path for the system’s central star. Then he stumbled towards the escape pod all the while the many voices within the Matrix beckoned him to retake the helm and change course. Their call was causing him physical pain, but he pushed through, pounding his fist on the button to open the pod hatch. He fell inside and sealed the door. A wave of torturous memories poured into Optimus. Every mistake and failure, all the death he had witnessed all came flooding back suddenly. The spectres within the Matrix knew their fate, and had resorted to this final attack. They would take Optimus with them if they could.


Reeling back in agony, Optimus kicked the control panel and the pod blasted off of the ship and took him a safe distance from the gravitational pull of the star. Within moments the ship impacted the star and was reduced to nothing in a magnificent explosion. The voices and torment ceased. He had succeeded in destroying the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. Optimus breathed a sigh of relief and rolled onto his back in a slumping position. It was only now that he was able to assess his situation. On the pod’s power, it would take him at least a week to reach Cybertronian space. And in the days that he journeyed, his thoughts were preoccupied with his place and his loyalties.


Prime remembered the old Decepticon slogan, “You are being deceived.” He had always scoffed at it before, but now, free of the Matrix’ influence, he couldn’t help but consider those words. He himself had been deceived for almost all of his existence. The Autobot cause itself was a lie, merely a way to subvert other cultures under the guise of benevolence and mutual interest. And he had done Alpha Trion’s work well. The Autobot Empire now spanned numerous star systems. Whole worlds had been cyber-formed and countless species had made themselves cyborgs of their own free will to adhere to Trion’s vision. The Autobot Empire was a blight upon all life in the universe. Despite its pretense to respect various life, the outcome was the same regardless of which planet they visited. Everything was cyber-formed.

A solemn Prime caught sight of his own reflection in the pod window. He felt resentment. He was Orion Pax once, before Alpha Trion remade him in his own image. Was there anything left of himself that he could say was truly his own? There was, he decided. For the first time in millions of years, he could say that his choices were truly his own. He would explain his actions to his fellow Autobots, and either be branded a heretic or a savior. He would seek peace with their enemies, and do whatever he could to hobble the growth of the Autobot Empire. His closest friends would support him, of that he was sure.
But if not, if he were to return and find only rejection, then he would leave knowing that his last, best act was to free his species from the epoch-spanning manipulations of its founding father. Now the future could be determined by its people and its spectres finally exorcized.
7/28/2015, 1:10 pm Link to this post Send Email to Mako Crab   Send PM to Mako Crab AIM
 


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