Series: Transformers, G1-based (“Blue” AU)
Summary: In which our Seekers quarrel, and Megatron finaly recognises futility when he sees it.
Notes: Huuuuurgh, did I have writer’s block bad with this one. :( And it's still pretty short. Oh well. I hope it all kinda makes sense... We’ll be getting back towards some actual action soon, I hope, not just lots of fluffy nothing.
Spike had sat and stared at his empty beer-bottle for several long contemplative minutes, listening to the others chat and generally be rude to each other, before foolishly suggesting ooh, hey, we could play “Spin the Bottle” or “Truth or Dare” or something. Skywarp initially failed to see the entertainment that could be found in just spinning a bottle, but after a quick (and very noisy) demonstration from the humans decided that actually yeah, he was up for that, after all.
It started out pretty hectic, and didn’t get a whole lot better. Forceps attempted twice to politely take her leave before anything ‘unbecoming’ happened, but ended up with a woeful, sad-faced mech insisting she just stay a “breem or two” longer hanging of each arms each time. Jazz was ultimately attracted over by the noise, and decided to give her and Sunstreaker a little sober backup.
After Carly dared Sideswipe and Skywarp to kiss – which they were drunk enough to happily oblige by doing, and with such enthusiasm they required bodily peeling apart by Jazz and a highly-disturbed Sunstreaker – Forceps accidentally-on-purpose lost the bottle before things could get any more raunchy (or, more importantly, she ended up a target – the idea of having either Sideswipe or Skywarp attempting to suck her face off was unappealing in the extreme.)
Sunstreaker watched her sleight of hand, amusedly. “That’s probably a good idea,” he commented, dryly. “I mean, why risk being asked awkward questions in the first place?”
She levelled a scowl at him, but didn’t rise to the bait.
“It’s probably arbitrary now, anyway,” he went on, airily. “Now we’ve got actual genuine Decepticons here as well as wannabes-… I mean, dedicated Neutrals.”
“You’re not starting that again, are you, Sunny?” Jazz chided.
“No-oo.” The yellow twin shook his head, with a practised guileless look in his optics, and mimed a halo with thumbs and forefingers making a ring over his head. “No point. I know I won’t get an answer out of anyone anyway.”
Skywarp watched the conversation shuttle back and forth, and finally made a (comparatively) huge leap of deduction. “Hey, I didn’t know you were one of us,” he commented, almost admiringly, giving Forceps a curious look. “You kept that secret.”
She cast her gaze skywards and rumbled her vents in a sigh. “Only because it wasn’t important. I was only ‘one of you’ for a grand total of five orns; not even long enough to get my name and harmonic data listed.”
“Still, that’s longer than you were an Auto-doofus!” He turned to Sideswipe and waved a finger under his new best friend’s nose, as if claiming a great moral victory. “I told you Screamer had good taste in medics.” Then something filtered down through the various layers of racing thoughts to the core of his consciousness, and he turned back, brow furrowed in confusion. “Waaait, why were you one of us?” he probed. “You’re a… a wibbly Neutral, since when did you develop enough of a cast-iron constitution to throw your hand in with a faction?”
“I hardly think that’s relevant after all these hundreds of thousands of vorns, do you?” she replied, defensively, folding her arms, defensively. “Or any of your business.”
“If you went to them once before, it stands to reason you might do it again,” Sunstreaker challenged, quietly.
“She’s a doctor, Sunny,” Jazz reminded.
“So’s Hook. Your point…?” Sunstreaker spread his hands.
“True, but did Hook become a doctor through choice, or necessity? As he’s the only one halfway competent enough to repair Megatron’s flock of idiots up when they get their afts handed to ’em?”
“You’re trying to excuse Hook, now?”
“No-o, I’m trying to see both sides of this thing, rather than fixate on one side and refuse to see anything else as a possibility.”
“Hey, hey! I don’t like what you’re implying, there-!”
“All right, all right! It’s nowhere near as outrageous or scandalous as you’re thinking, Sunstreaker.” Forceps grumbled, over the top of the arguing voices. “Primus, I never thought I’d have my right to a quiet life held to ransom by Autobots.”
Every visual sensor in the entire room, both robot and human, turned expectantly towards her.
Bad decision there, Sepp. Should have let them quarrel until it was out of their system. She dropped her gaze to her lap, and studied her fingers, uncomfortable having all the expectant optics upon her. “If you must know, Hardline and I had an, ah… disagreement… over something that shouldn’t have been used as a political football,” she said, softly. “He joined the Autobots because of it, and because that made me angry with them… well, you can see where I’m heading.”
“What did you argue about?”
She glanced up to meet Jazz’s inscrutable face, and offered up a grim smile and retreated back a little. “Nothing you need to worry about.”
Jazz elevated a curious brow, but inclined his head and didn’t challenge it.
“I betcha it was a kid,” Sideswipe piped up. “All Woof’s problems started when he decided to get to procreating.”
“If you call me Woof once more,” Skywarp threatened. “Then I’m gonna hit you, T-Bone. Besides, Sepp’s not got sparklings. Right?”
The initial silence wasn’t quite as stony as it usually was when a machine got on her wrong side. “That’s right,” she replied, at long last. “Never have done, and never will.”
“See, told you…”
The subtleties that had sailed completely unseen over Skywarp’s head weren’t lost on Jazz; he leaned closer and started, softly; “Listen, I’m sor-”
“Don’t be,” she cut in, sternly, and added, more softly; “Please; don’t. You weren’t responsible for it, to start with. Besides, worse things have happened, and we’re both over it.”
She glaared amusedly and waved the bottle she’d confiscated earlier in a way that implied she’d like to throw it at him, although it looked more like an ampoule, in her large fingers. “Keep poking, Autobot, and you won’t ever be having sparklings, either.”
Jazz chuckled and inclined his head, lifting his hands in surrender. “Let nobody ever accuse you of mincing your words, madam surgeon!” he observed, dryly, then gave his head a little jerk in Skywarp’s direction. “Speaking of little ones… I think you ought to take Casanova and put him to bed before he sparks anyone else up. Or needs major corrective surgery for another broken nose.”
“What? Casanova? Who’s-…” She frowned, but followed his line of vision anyway, and found a lack of bottle hadn’t stopped the dares getting more and more silly. “…oh.”
Sideswipe was leaning ‘casually innocently’ on Skywarp hard enough to have jammed the Seeker against Sunstreaker. Skywarp had taken it as akin to either an invitation or instruction to get friendly with the yellow twin, who in turn looked like he was teetering on the point of landing his fist in Skywarp’s face.
The teleport looked up at her, and took a good few moments to get his optics to focus. “Ohh, hey, Sepp. What are you doing still here?” He sounded genuinely surprised.
She resisted the urge to cast her optics skywards in despair. “Waiting for you to finish dicing with death and allow me to drag your over-energised aft back to its berth in the medical centre.”
“You want to take me to bed? Awww Sepp I didn’t know you cared.”
Forceps barely had time to blink before finding she had a lapful of drunken Seeker; her expression mirrored Sunstreaker’s very quickly. “Not like that,” she sighed, levering him back out. “I think this is proof you’ve had more than enough for now, agreed?”
“Aw, I’ve still got plenty of room in my tanks!” he protested, rubbing his cheek affectionately against her arm, although if the fumes he was giving off were anything to go by it was vapour-space only.
“When I say ‘enough’, I mean retain the ability to move around without spontaneously combusting. I doubt the twins were anticipating you polishing off all their high-grade when they invited you over.”
“Oh that’s okay, we’ve got plenty! And we don’t mind, do we, Sunny?” Sideswipe reassured, and Sunstreaker pulled a face that said he did mind, but was outvoted. “I’ll be impressed if you can take off with that sort of payload.”
Skywarp smirked and rumbled his engines, and Forceps promptly grabbed him. “Oh no you don’t. No flying indoors.”
“…spoilsport.” The teleport huffed his turbines.
“And proud of it. Come on, you pain in the aft.” She insinuated herself beneath his arm and got the pair of them upright; Skywarp elected not to help at all, dragging his thrusters. “You can’t assimilate all that excess fuel properly if you’re laid out in the middle of the floor, tripping machines over.”
“But I like their floor…! A mech has space to stretch out…” He waved his arms dramatically to illustrate the theory, and almost sent the pair of them flying.
“I tell you what. How about I give the twins leave to turn you into a rug, then you can enjoy their floor as much as you like?”
“…um, actually, ok, thinking about it, I think I’d rather have my berth.” Skywarp gathered his thrusters back underneath himself and – unsteadily – managed to just about walk on his own.
“For a Decepticon he’s kinda sweet, now he’s not trying to kill you guys,” he heard Carly say, somewhere in the distance, and grinned stupidly to himself.
“Don’t let it go to your head, she’s drunker than you are,” Forceps growled, noticing his silly expression.
“Oh, I know,” Skywarp lurched along beside her, heels clattering hollowly against the floor as he tried (and mostly failed) to keep this legs underneath him, clinging to the supporting arm. “I just liked hearing it.”
When they finally clattered through the door to the medical suite, Skywarp missed his berth altogether, the first time – it was only getting his wing jammed against Forceps stopped him mashing his abused nose into the floor. Two attempts later and the big femme lost patience altogether with him, caught him around the legs and heaved him up.
“Now are you going to behave and offline all by yourself, or am I going to have to make you?” Forceps wondered, making sure he was settled and not about to slide straight off the opposite side of his berth.
Skywarp folded his arms against the memory-foam surface, and pillowed his head with them. “I’m ok. I don’t need your help.”
“Sure?” She gave him a dubious look.
He offlined his optics for emphasis. “Absolutely positive.”
When Starscream arrived back a breem or so later, it was to find Skywarp far from dormant.
Ratchet looked up from a delicate piece of medical equipment he was trying to service, and pointed irritably off to one side as the red Seeker arrived. Starscream followed the pointing finger to find Skywarp – very awake and emotional – up on the sideboard next to Footloose’s precious tank of uulu-fish, his legs crossed, gaze fixed on the door that led to the quiet little isolation room. Footloose was back in his arms, cheek against his canopy glass, curled up and almost offline, mumbling quietly to herself and sucking her fingers. The teleport looked unnaturally troubled, his lips pursed in a sad little grimace.
“You finally got bored of attempting to drown your temperature regulator, then?” Starscream challenged, tiredly, setting an armful of parts down on a convenient workbench to sort through. “How much have you had tonight, Skywarp?”
“…Enough.” The teleport gave him an evasive look.
“Enough, certainly, but for how many?”
“Ha ha.” Skywarp gave him a sour look and attempted to fold his arms, huffily, in spite of the fact Footloose was right in the way. “My tanks aren’t even full, just go ask Sepp…”
Ratchet drifted back out of plain sight with his equipment, wanting to give them a little peace without openly abandoning them to whatever idiocy Skywarp might get up to. He tried to politely keep his attention elsewhere, but it was far too tempting to eavesdrop – especially since Warp’s over-energised vocaliser seemed to have run away from him at mach 20, and he wasn’t even trying to censor what he was saying any more, simply pouring out every single thought as it came to him.
“I want to go see her, Screamer. Just once,” Skywarp whined, softly, rubbing his brow. “I don’t care if it means I’m soft. I just want to go see her, and tell her I’m gonna go find him and stomp on him for her.”
“Do you really think discussing violence will help her recover from having violence dealt to her?”
“I don’t… you… what? I don’t get it.”
Starscream gave him a look; the vivid optics that looked back held a genuinely puzzled expression. “I doubt Sepp will let you past her if you’re going to just remind Squeaky of all the things Siphon did to her,” the red Seeker elaborated. “She’s trying to help her recover, not keep reliving it.”
“But that-… wasn’t what I meant.”
“I know, but it’s the way it’ll come across. So unless you want Sepp to do something nasty to you to keep you under control-”
“She won’t hurt me, she’s a doctor.”
Starscream sighed, impatiently. “Just leave this whole thing in peace until you’re sober, Skywarp. You’re tearing yourself in three directions, at the moment.”
“I can’t help it. I think about what she looks like,” Skywarp explained, faintly, “and remember what he’s done to her… and then I think about TC, and Seem, and I see them all bashed up in the same way. And-…” He dropped his gaze to his lap, and finished on a more plaintive note; “Screamer, I don’t wanna find TC and have him screaming at me.”
“You know Thundercracker’s stronger than that,” Starscream eased, discarding a selection of unneeded clips. “And Megatron will probably see to it that Slipstream is unharmed, especially after all that effort they put in to grab him in the first place.”
“But it’s Siphon doing it, what if even Megs can’t keep that psychopath under control?”
Starscream levelled him a serious look. “If Megatron can control the Stunticons, I don’t think you need to worry about his ability to keep one small unarmed vehicle in line-”
“But Megatron built the Stunticons! And even he has trouble getting ’em to do what he wants, what’s he gonna do with that frigging sociopa-”
“Warp. Stop it.”
Skywarp rounded his shoulders and tucked his chin down.
“I know you’re worried – I am, too,” Starscream went on, more gently. “But torturing yourself with all these what-ifs is the exact thing Siphon wants you to do. Why do you think he did all that to Squeaky?” One blue hand gestured at the isolation room door. “He wants you hurt and angry, so you’re an easier target. If you still want to fall to pieces, wait until afterwards, all right?”
Skywarp studied his fingers, and elected not to answer.
The silence held for couple of breems. Starscream was beginning to wonder if (and hope) Skywarp had finally allowed himself to lapse into dormancy when the teleport spoke up again.
“You’re good at this sort of science thing, right, Screamer?” he said, softly. “If I asked you to, reaaaally nicely, would you build us a time-travel device so we can go back in time and stop ourselves from even going to Cybertron in the first place?”
“What?” Starscream gave him a warily puzzled look.
“You know. Go back to before all this slag blew up in our faces? ’Cause things were easy, back then, weren’t they? I just did what I was told, ’cause it was never anything more important than shoot the slag out of the Autobots, and you just argued with Megs and got your aft kicked. Squeaks would be driving everyone crazy with her whining but she’d still be in one piece. And TC would still be with us. Wouldn’t be stuck out there in the desert with the crazy, he’d just be angsting over whether he still wanted to be a Decepticon, and we’d be telling him to shut the Pit up with his whining.”
“No, Warp, that’s what we’d be doing to you. And If I did that,” Starscream argued, gently, “we’d generate a temporal paradox of such monstrous proportions, I’d probably hurt your poor brain even more just attempting to explain it. So I’ll just say ‘no, Warp, that’s not a good idea’.”
“But it’s a brilliant idea! Just ignore the temporal para-whatsits, and it’ll all be great!” Skywarp pleaded. “Come on, Screamer, we’ll all be normal again – you, me, TC, Squeaky, all of us. It’s foolproof!”
Starscream gave him a sad look. “I wish I could explain to you why it won’t work, Warp,” he sighed. “So you’re just going to have to trust me. It won’t work.”
“You could at least try.” Skywarp pouted, optics narrowing in a resentful glare. “You don’t like any of my ideas, do you. Just because I’m not as smart as you are-”
“No, it’s usually because most of your ‘great ideas’ are strongly derived from human television and non-scientific handwavium,” Starscream interrupted, irritably. “We’re not going to find some magic fix to all this – we’re just going to have to play with what we’ve been given, and hope we can muddle through.”
“Story of our fragging life, that is.” Skywarp glared at his wingmate, and watched suspiciously as he approached. “What do you want now, anyway?”
“I want you to get some rest,” Starscream instructed, in his best no-arguments voice, carefully extracting Footloose from Skywarp’s arms. “Partition off a little of that excess fuel, sort yourself out. You don’t exactly do so well on thinking straight normally, let alone over-energised. And later, if you still want to talk about it when you’re back on form, then I’ll try explain exactly why it won’t work, all right?”
Footloose grumbled wordlessly at being disturbed, and rearranged herself with the top of her helm thrust up against Starscream’s throat.
“It’d sort everything out if you just tried-” Skywarp tried, irritably.
Starscream gestured a threatening finger at him. “Get some rest, Skywarp! For Primus’ sake. I am not above hitting you to make you go dormant!”
“Don’t you tell me what to do!” Skywarp waved an arm at him and flopped his way off his perch. “You’re not so smart either, ‘cause this was your slagging plan that went aft-up! Your stupid fault we’re stuck here with the Autobots, if we’d all stayed together-… frag, Megatron’s fault for making things hard in the first place, I’m so gonna go kick his aft-”
Starscream arched a brow. “You are going to go and kick Megatron’s aft? I think you might have that the wrong way round.”
“Oh come on, I can so take him-! That… that… wannabe-Seeker, ground-pounding loser… I’m faster, I’m waay more agile-”
Starscream ignored him, mostly, settling Footloose into her little berth and checking her temperature was within limits before hooking the charging prongs into the appropriate places. “You’re also over-energised and over-emotional,” he said, dryly, not looking up. “You need to get yourself offlined, get yourself defragmented, and partition your tanks better so you can think straight.” He directed his attention down at Footloose, who still hadn’t quite got her drowsy fingers to unlatch off his thumb. “And you need to behave yourself and stay in your berth, as well, missy. Come on, let go.”
“I stay with Day,” she protested, but her voice was a badly tuned fizz of distortions.
Starscream peeled her off him. “I strongly doubt he’s going to be going anywhere. If I have to hit him to get him to go night-night, then I will.”
“Will you quit talking at me like I’m some dear widdle sparkling who needs your care and guidance?” Skywarp flared up.
“Certainly – the instant you stop sounding like one.” Starscream rounded on him, and huffed his engines, frustratedly. “You are tearing yourself to pieces because you’re trying to convince yourself that Megatron’s the source of all our problems-”
“He is the source of the problem!”
“Will you let me finish?”
“No, not if you’re gonna ‘finish’ by talking out your exhaust some more!” Skywarp planted his fists on his hips and glared, belligerently.
“Primus, Skywarp…! You did this to us. You did it, because you couldn’t keep your fragging hands to yourself!” Starscream flared, his patience finally lost. “We are here now – outsiders, unneeded, unwelcome – because of you and your stupidity. You gave them the opening when you got emotionally involved – frag, when you made it so all three of us were emotionally involved! – and Megatron has capitalised on it. So the sooner you take a little responsibility for your actions, the sooner we can start to think how we’re going to fix this!”
“You slagger!” Skywarp sounded outraged. Excess energy surging inside him, optics flaring almost white-hot with emotion, he took a drunken swing at his wingmate; Starscream moved easily with him, and trapped the flailing fist inside a cage of blue fingers. “Don’t you fragging deny me this!” Skywarp howled, and followed it with another swing, equally-easily countered. “I’m gonna slagging well kick your fragging aft for that, now stand still!”
“Grow up, Skywarp. Primus. How many thousands of Vorns do you have behind you? And you still behave worse than your own offspring!” Starscream moved with him, keeping his wingmate’s hands trapped and easily sidestepping the kicks.
“How about fuck off with the self-righteous fragging tone of voice?! I’m gonna slagging kill you!” Skywarp struggled to free his hands, frustrated. “This is not my fault!” His words had already taken on a pleading edge towards the end of his sentence. “It’s not my fault!” His knees buckled, and they came together with a flop and a dull crunch of armour. He struggled very briefly, but couldn’t get the coordination back together and quickly gave up.
“Okay, Warp, easy up, now,” Starscream counselled, gently, letting him cling to him, and feeling the stressed vibrations gradually infecting all of Skywarp’s over-wrought systems; his wings were already buzzing very softly. “I told you not to overdo it.”
“Yeah but you’re jus’ a humourless old slagger anyway,” Skywarp whispered, brokenly, but didn’t move to remove his helm from where he’d tucked it up under his wingmate’s chin. “Fuck it, Screamer. I hate this. I hate it.”
“…I know, Warp. I’m not exactly a big fan of the whole mess, either. But flying faster than your emotions isn’t going to help us sort it out. The only way we’re going to get Thundercracker back is by being smart, and outwitting Siphon.” Starscream paused, and added, in a lighter tone; “which shouldn’t be too difficult, because we’ve got me.”
Skywarp managed a feeble chuckle.
In the background, someone pinged a set of co-ordinates and a code at Starscream; the Seeker glanced up, defensively, for the first time noticing their argument had been watched, but his temper quelled unusually quickly at seeing Ratchet standing politely to one side. A quick cross-reference had suggested the co-ordinates directed him to a room in the residential sector.
“I know the two of you are trying to covertly turn the place into your own little section of the Ark,” the medic deadpanned, gesturing in such a way to encompass the whole of the medbay, “but I’m afraid I’m going to have to kick you out, for now.”
“That’s all right. We were going anyway.” Starscream gave him a half-hearted glare, but didn’t complain too loudly; he had the strong impression he’d just been given a silent invitation to use the medic’s quarters. “Weren’t we, Warp?”
Skywarp grumbled something that sounded like it was mostly static, but let himself be led.
Ratchet pressed something into the blue palm as Starscream carefully manhandled Skywarp past. The red Seeker glanced down to find a small semicircular device, shaped in such a way it’d cup the nape of the neck, and glanced up at the doctor.
“Just in case he won’t offline by himself,” Ratchet reassured, enigmatically.
Of course. Sedatives. Must be a stasis bracket, to gently nudge the cortex into standby. That made sense, there was no way Skywarp would be going dormant on his own with this much energy slopping around in him, and he was too scatterbrained right now to think to partition it all off.
Although the expression he made looked more suited to a machine taking a wrench to a sensitive part of their anatomy, Starscream nodded, and subspaced the device. “…Thanks.”
Ratchet looked pleased by the reply, though, no matter how grudging it had been. “Welcome. I hope it helps.”
Still working quietly in the little sideroom, where she’d been since dropping Skywarp off several breems earlier, Forceps glanced up, and studied her patient’s face; Pulsar was watching the doorway, lips pursed in a little grimace of dismay.
“Did you hear that?” the surgeon prompted.
The Policebot nodded, just once, and lowered her damaged gaze. “I want to see him,” she said, at last. “Or-… at least… talk to him.”
“You think you’ll cope all right with that?”
Pulsar knew her friend meant ‘will I have to swoop in and kick him out when you start screaming at the sight of him again?’ “If I have to be blindfolded, then so be it,” she confirmed, quietly.
As was always the way with his (supposedly) best laid plans… Megatron was starting to wish he’d rethought where he was going. And regretting starting this whole venture off in the first place.
He pinched the prow of his nose, tiredly. The plan had been such a simple one, it was hard to think how it had managed to go quite so stupendously awry. Of course, he considered, when those three Seekers were involved, there was very little that could be guaranteed not to go immediately Pitwise.
The plan had been to grab the little ones, and first and foremost use them to keep the three big sparklings in line, because Pit, one flier in particular had gone from total saluting obedience to in-your-face belligerence in the space of only a few Terran lunar cycles – and that had only been in defence of his wing commander. Primus only knew what he’d have ended up like if he’d managed to somehow keep the younglings hidden on Nemesis.
Grab the sparklings, cue instant obedience from the rebellious threesome. Provided you behave? The little ones remain unharmed. Might even let you see them, if you're reeeally well-behaved and do the frag as you're told, for once.
Once he had the youngsters in his possession, and the unruly fliers had been reminded yet again of their place? (As in, you are not in command, you never will be in command, and you will fragging well do as you're told…) He'd have dragged the ungrateful pair back in out of the dirt, got all three cleaned up and fixed up, checked they were absolutely a hundred percent aware of what would happen if they didn’t mind their manners, and after maybe a hiccup or two, status quo would have resumed nicely.
The ultimate result would have been five for the price of three. Three obedient warriors, and two highly-impressionable younglings to train up to take Starscream’s place, when the nigh-uncontrollable Air Commander finally overstepped the boundary and got himself permanently slagged.
And now… well, it felt like an exercise in sweeping sand in the middle of a sandstorm. Both sides of this mess seemed to be running in blind circles, and achieving nothing at all. Of course, it was probably the fault of the two so-called “Recovery teams”, in the very first instance. If they’d succeeded in the oh-so-simple task of just grabbing the two sparklings – how did two teams of highly trained warriors each fail to secure one small, weak infant, when its guardian had already been grounded and dealt with?! – all would have gone perfectly to plan… But they were about as reliable as Starscream’s trine at getting a simple job done with minimum fuss.
Megatron sighed, tiredly. Might just have to write this whole thing off as a bad job. The tradeoff didn't seem like it was going to be worth the effort, any more. So he had the little mech – so what? The fact he was bold as brass, almost as idiot-fearless as his sire, and would happily attempt to stare out even some of the most fearsome Decepticons… didn't really seem to count for a lot, any more. En route to getting this eminently trainable little warrior, he'd lost two of best; all three, if Thundercracker kept on this downward spiral he'd got himself on. Recovering the missing two and the last sparkling was beginning to seem more and more like a pipe-dream.
Speaking of whom… Thundercracker cut a very sorry figure, in that little cell. Two failed attempts at escaping had meant another rearrangement in living conditions, and now he wasn’t even being given the liberty to move around – wrists pinioned, unable to even get back to his feet, held almost completely immobile. and slowly despairing of ever seeing his precious sky again.
Typical. The warlord sighed, and studied the broken figure from the doorway of its cell, silently. Why did it have to be the ditherer? That Thundercracker was the only halfway sane one in his trine, no questions about it. That he helped moderate and regulate his two brothers, kept them from enacting the very worst of their aftery and stopped them getting their sorry sparks killed on a regular basis? Again, no questions, at all. But on his own? Primus. A machine more prone to self-doubt and self-destruction would be hard to find.
No, the only way he’d be able to call this a success would be to get all three back; they only operated at their best when it was all three together. Thundercracker was the voice of reason; had the patience to devote to explaining things to Skywarp, to moderate Starscream’s temper, kept them even, kept them thinking straight. Starscream was very much the brain, the inspiration – when he wasn’t plotting one of his ridiculous coups, he had an imagination and the intelligence to make his plans work that was second-to-none. If it weren’t for the fact that success made him trebly impossible to live with, insisting on rubbing Megatron’s face in it – ha, aren’t I so much better than you, maybe it’s time we got a new leader! – the warlord would probably have allowed him a longer leash and more freedom to operate. And of course there was Skywarp, who was… well, it was had to work out exactly what function the teleport fulfilled, except for the undeniable fact that without him, the other two functioned worse on all counts. Perhaps he was just a particularly effective punching bag? He had looked suitably frightened and small those few times Megatron had smacked him, recently. Megatron smiled privately to himself; maybe all those unsavoury jokes doing the rounds on Nemesis lately weren’t so far off the mark, after all – the only mistake being exactly which of the three was the trine’s “bitch”.
Perhaps – if he could find someone careful, methodical and dedicated enough to do it – he could use Thundercracker to draw the other two back. Perhaps if he cajoled the blue – correction, formerly blue Seeker back into the faction, got him fixed up and cleaned up and feeling more like himself again... The voice of reason could be the catalyst for bringing the other two back.
The silver giant crossed the sand in a few short strides, crouched in front of him, and watched as the optics flickered dully and struggled to alertness as they registered he was there.
“Meg-… tron,” Thundercracker managed to buzz out. “What-… you want?”
“To tell you I’m prepared to allow the three of you one last chance,” Megatron said, softly. “Back into the ranks, no questions asked. I can’t forgive you, but I can… paint over it. Pretend it didn’t happen.”
Very faint damson optics met his gaze. “…can’t do this any more,” the broken jet croaked, faintly. “…’m tired. Can’t put anything more… on my conscience.”
“Well, that’s as maybe, but I don’t see that you have many options left, do you?”
Thundercracker remained quiet for several moments. “…’ll think of someth’n.”
Megatron’s brow furrowed, grimly; this was obviously going to take a lot more work than he had to spare. Perhaps his newest recruit could be persuaded to change his tactics from destruction to “social reprogramming” – it was the sort of thing he seemed good at, after all. The tanker had serious talents in psychology, and the warlord hadn’t quite decided if he thought they were amusing or unnerving.
“Your optimism is admirable, but sorely misplaced,” he said, grimly. “You have nowhere else to go. You yourself know, deep down, that the Autobots will never forgive you for your war crimes. If you plead your case well, you may convince them to just lock you up forever – but I can’t see that you’ll consider being eternally grounded to be better than execution.” He pushed himself tiredly to his feet. “I’m sorry, Thundercracker. We are still your only option.”