|Predator Prey Relationships
Author: Ceris Malfoy PM
In which Starscream helps Deadlock defect, and Deadlock learns his place in the world. Side-story to A Different Beginning. IDW AU. RnR?Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Horror - Starscream & Drift - Words: 2,024 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Published: 09-25-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7413152
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Predator-Prey Relationships
By: Ceris Malfoy
Summary: In which Starscream helps Deadlock defect, and Deadlock learns his place in the world.
Continuity: IDW AU. Side-story to A Different Beginning.
A/N: This story was written before I got around to reading IDW's Drift, where they explain how things really went down. So, as far as things go on that end, consider this a major AU as far as canon events go. Though, considering that this is a part of an established AU, I supposed that's old news. Lol.
Deadlock stared out at the cold, empty vastness of deep space as it passed him by, trying to ignore the equally cold, empty hole that was growing within his spark.
When he had joined the Decepticon cause, he had thought he was making the correct decision; that Megatron would lead them all to their rightful places within the society that preferred they'd all drop dead; that Cybertron would finally be made great. He had joined because Megatron was already the stuff of legends – the only mech to have been apprenticed to Lord Starscream and survived; the only mech who had been capable of taking the living nightmare of sparklings and younglings alike and bring him to bended knee.
'Megatron' had been the name whispered cautiously in his audios.
'Megatron will lead us to greatness.'
'Megatron will save us all.'
'Megatron will keep our sparklings safe.'
So he had joined.
And now look at him. Just another mech in a vast armada of them; a proud mech reduced to the petty theft of resources belonging to other races and the murder of those that refused to swear loyalty to the Decepticons. The murder and ruin of countless races weighed heavily on his spark, made him hesitant in battle and combative with his superiors. He had been transferred between units so often for insubordination bordering on treason that he had eventually been transferred to the Xius, the ship containing the Decepticon's Second in Command and Air Commander, Lord Starscream.
The Xius was currently en route to rendezvous with the Nemisis for some planned battle or another, but in the meantime, Deadlock was stuck on board a ship with anywhere between thirty and seventy-three restless seekers, and the living-nightmare that was their Air Commander.
Deadlock jumped and whirled around, mentally berating himself. Of course Starscream would catch him just standing there when he had a patrol to do. Fear clenched his spark as he considered the thin ice he knew he was already treading – Starscream alone had his life in his clawed servos, and he couldn't afford to be written up for disrespect, not if he wanted to live. "Sir! I'm sorry, Sir, I was just starting my patrol and – "
"Leave it for someone else," the seeker interrupted. "There are enough restless seekers on this ship to cover for you." The Decepticon Second in Command smiled, and it was not at all reassuring.
Deadlock stilled. "Sir?" he asked, unsure about what this meant.
"Come with me, Deadlock. I think it's time we had a discussion on your future in this army." The Decepticon Second in Command turned sharply on his pede and walked gracefully down the hall, never once looking back, confident that Deadlock would follow.
And as he should be. Deadlock was a brilliant frontline warrior, capable of going hand-to-hand with most mechs without taking a single scratch of damage himself, but Starscream was in a league all his own. The only mech capable of bringing him down was Megatron himself, and even Megatron had to work for it. Deadlock didn't have a prayer of defending himself if he tried to run. So Deadlock followed, nervously, as the seeker led the way through the ship to a private meeting room off the side of the Control Bridge.
Once there, Starscream gestured towards a chair, silently demanding Deadlock to sit. He did so, watching nervously as the seeker picked up a lone datapad on the table, turning it on, and leaning casually against the wall.
"Deadlock: Decepticon frontliner. Training focused primarily on heavy combat, but trainee showed signs of aptitude in both field-medicine and military tactics. Served under seventeen unit commanders so far, transferred to mine because your loyalties are under suspicion." The seeker looked up from the datapad, crimson optics burning, but facial-plating blank and passive. "Have I said anything that is incorrect?"
"N-no, sir," Deadlock replied.
"Good. Honest when you know there's no purpose in lying. I like that in a mech. Shows you have a keen survival instinct." The seeker tossed the datapad onto the table, and then crossed his arms. "Tell me, Deadlock, why are you having second thoughts about your status as a Decepticon?"
Deadlock hissed involuntarily. How did Starscream…? "Sir, I… I'm not – " he tried to deny.
"And here I thought I had just praised you for your honesty," the seeker said, thin lips twisting in a wry smile. "Don't lie to me, Deadlock. I have lived quite long enough to be able to tell when a mech is lying to me, and I am not one to suffer being lied to patiently."
It was a warning.
"I'm sorry, sir, but – " But how could he admit to having treasonous thoughts to a mech that scared more mechs then Megatron did?
"But nothing, Deadlock. Let's put it this way, shall we? As of this moment, I am not your commanding officer. Nothing you say can or will be used against you, but only if you speak now. Do you understand?" The seeker's gaze was intent.
"Yes, si– Lord Starscream."
"Good." There was a moment of silence. "Now tell me, Deadlock, why do you doubt the cause?"
He considered denying everything yet again, in the hope that the seeker would believe him, but Deadlock doubted it. Starscream was known for many things, none of which was his mercy. Best just come clean and hope the seeker kept his word. Deadlock shuttered his optics, and vented softly. "I'm tired of it – of all the violence and all the pointless, unnecessary death. I'm tired of waging a war with no end in sight; I'm tired of slaying not only my race but the countless races of those that have nothing to do with us." And he was. He was so tired anymore, and there was no end to the war in sight. The Autobots were steadily getting just as bad as the Decepticons once were, causing the Decepticons to reach even greater depths of depravity and violence.
"This war…." Silence stretched between them, the seeker's gaze distant and somewhat…sad?
Deadlock watched the mech with something akin to shock and disbelieving wonder. His gaze caught sight of the Decepticon sigils marring those otherwise perfect wings. Most mechs had the sigils painted on while some of the more die-hard veterans had the sigils welded on in a series of thin metal plates. Starcream's wings, however, had been branded with Megatron's mark, and no amount of buffing or waxing in the world would ever hide the scaring around the edges of the sigil. A claim. Had the seeker actually been tamed? Had he been existing on his reputation? Had Megatron truly –
"I'm transferring you to another unit," Starscream said abruptly, cutting Deadlock out of his thoughts. "You will be placed under Officer Turmoil's direct command for an indefinite period of time. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Lord Starscream."
"While you are there, you will do nothing to draw attention to yourself – good or ill. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Lord Starscream."
"You will wait for a seeker by the designation of Switchgear to make contact. You are to do as he says, when he says to do it. Do you understand?"
"…yes, Lord Starscream." And he did, too. Starscream was offering him a way out; a way that would not be traced back to the Decepticon's Second in Command. This 'Switchgear' was most likely a neutral of some sort, and to have survived this long, only Primus knew what they were capable of.
"Your official record will state that after close observation, the 'loyalty issues' were dismissed as the excessive paranoia of mechs that have been on the front line for too long, and that after spending several orns under the …enthusiastic care of our seeker medics, you were eager to return to direct combat."
Deadlock was only a mech, and couldn't help the flare of his energy-field at the images Lord Starscream's words and suggestive tone produced. Most seekers were notoriously easy to get into a berth, but seekers who've been cooped up in a single ship for close to three stellar cycles? Enthusiastic didn't even begin to describe what they would be like in a berth. But, still… "Why?" Deadlock finally murmured. "Why are you doing this? Why are you helping me?"
And had he thought those symbols – Megatron's branded mark – on Starscream's wings somehow made him less? If so, he had been a fool. Starscream's crimson stare sharpened, narrowed down on him, piercing him with a gaze that chilled his very spark. There was a deadly presence in the air, an overwhelming feeling of watchfulness and patience and endless hunger. There was no overt threat of violence, no outright feeling of anger or fury – and suddenly Deadlock knew that those were only the excuse of the weak to disguise themselves as the strong. Deadlock knew, abruptly and with perfect clarity, that regardless of the claiming mark that marred Lord Starscream's tempting wings, regardless of whose servo may be holding the seeker's metaphorical leash, regardless of how tame and ineffective the seeker may act, Lord Starscream was a predator amongst prey.
He was prey, and it was not his place to question why he wasn't being hunted.
But Lord Starscream merely smiled a cold, grim smile that bared gleaming, razor-sharp denta that would have done a Sharkticon proud and did nothing at all to set Deadlock at ease. With that grim smile on his face, Starscream replied, almost casually, "Because it amuses me."
Ummm… I know this isn't what I was supposed to be updating, but the muse bashed me over the head with an idea on how to finish this, and so I wrote it. The unfinished bit has been sitting on my hard-drive for close to a year now, so I'm sure some people won't mind when I say that this was priority for me over Endgame. That being said, the next chapter/interlude thingy will be up sometime soon. Probably Tuesday, when I'm off of work…
As for this fic, there's not really much I need to say about it. It comes off to me as pretty straight forward. Though for those who've not read A Different Beginning, I guess I should mention that this AU was based off an idea I had when I read All Hail Megatron. Starscream said something about being there before the beginning, before Megatron. Which, when you consider that fan-consensus is that Starscream is actually much younger than Megatron, made absolutely no damn sense. Could have been just Starscream's arrogance talking, but my plot bunnies jumped on the idea and mated quite vigorously. XD
So, thusly, we have Older-than-dirt!Screamer with Megatron as his student-turned-master. A Different Beginning is actually gonna be re-written sometime in the next month or so, as I can so totally do much better (but for my first TF fanfic, I guess I can't be too critical…), but I still recommend reading it and The End is Only the Beginning if you want to get a feel for the AU. Or, you know, you could just accept this as written…
By the way, if someone wants to jump in and play around with this AU, drop me a line with your ideas, k?