by Birgit Staebler
It had all started with a simple book, a book given to
him by the last possible person he could have thought of. Optimus Prime.
The Autobot leader had one day appeared in his office with this ancient
book in his hands and handed it to him.
"What's that?" Megatron asked, suspicious and slightly wary.
"Something that might come in handy, now that you are a pet owner," Prime answered.
Megatron shot him a sharp look, searching for any kind of mockery in the visible part of his former enemy's face. There was none. Optimus' optics held a straight-out honest and mildly amused look, but that was an expression he always had when it came to Sparks. Amusement! Megatron couldn't connect that feeling with the little fuzz face. And he couldn't understand how anyone could feel it when it came to this nuisance.
Sparks had popped up in his life several standard months ago and she was making it a living hell. He remembered the day he had seen the first whisker of her in his vicinity like it had been yesterday and every day he vowed he'd incinerate this four-legged pest. But every day she managed to evade his blasts and he had another hole in his office. It was a rather frustrating game!
Megatron took the book and read the ancient cover. It was a manual. For Cybertronian pets.
"You can't be serious," he growled.
"I know Sparks is not a normal pet, so I think adding the knowledge of this book," another one was placed into Megatron's unresisting hands, "could solve a mystery or two."
He looked down. It was a book about cats, written by a human named Claudia Berg. There was a pair of kittens on the cover and it had been printed in Cybertronian size – obviously a reprint and probably made by Prime.
Optimus simply nodded at him and walked out of the office again, leaving the Decepticon leader with two books and a rather annoyed mood.
But despite his annoyance, Megatron found the books to be interesting reading material. There wasn't much to do right now, the war somehow at a halt, and he had finished all his backlogged work in the last few days. Cyclonus had taken over solving petty squabbles between members of his troops or between Decepticons and Autobots. Megatron had to smile as he remembered the rather non-enthusiastic expression in his second-in-command's face, but Cyclonus had not objected. He served his leader, though he wasn't a blind drone who did everything. When he had still been Galvatron he had rarely seen this, but behind the obedience and loyalty was also a critical and ambitious personality. Megatron knew he could trust Cyclonus, though. He had his loyalty.
Leaning back in his chair he started to read the first book, the one about Cybertronian pets. It was an ancient edition, mainly because pets had been extinguished somewhere
around the outbreak of the first civil war. And most what was written in here didn't even fit the 'pet' he had. None of the authors had ever taken into consideration that the pet might acquire a personality.... and even if they had, they wouldn't have foreseen a personality like Sparks! According to this book, pets were obedient, easy to handle, required little attention other than what was programmed into them or what the owner wanted them to be, and rather simple and dumb. Sparks was difficult, anti-authoritarian, self-reliant, quick with her taloned paws and generally a pain in the diodes.
Megatron threw the book into the next available corner of his room and picked up the other one. It had a collection of cute pictures and he regarded them with disgust. Sparks didn't fit the description 'cute'. He had a lot of descriptions for her, but they all ranged along the line of 'pest', 'nuisance' and 'pain'. He nevertheless started to read and his optics widened ever to slightly as he came to the 'Cat Care' and toys section. He closed the book again and shook his head. None of them applied to what he had to live with.
With a sigh, Megatron decided to check on some of the less important duties he had and forgot all about the cat care books.
* * *
He woke with the now familiar feeling of someone being
in his recharge room with him. His mind immediately informed him that there
was only one creature able to break into the heavily secured room and that
this creature was small, furry and four-legged. And that it was, as always,
resting at the foot-end of the recharge bed. Megatron stared at the ceiling,
his red optics gazing at the plain gray colors with a suffering expression.
What had he ever done to deserve this?!
He was able to handle Autobot attacks, assassins, treacherous lieutenants, day-to-day routine as a leader, even the bureaucracy! Why was he failing when it came to this pest? What was it that gave him the idea that every time he confronted her, the cat came out as the winner?
An itchy feeling in his mouth made him cough, clearing the oxygen intakes. He sat up and wiped his mouth, his fingers coming in contact with ... cat hair?! Was she shedding?! On top of having this weird fur that made her more an Earth creature than a Cybertronian robot, was she also behaving like one? Could she shed and grow fur like flesh animals?
Megatron stared at the small bundle of black fur on the recharge bed. Sparks was apparently asleep. He slipped off, spitting out some more hair. The cat suddenly moved, unfolded from her sleeping position and went through a complicated stretching routine, yawning mightily. Then she lifted her right paw to give it an idle wash. Megatron glared at her.
After some time Sparks looked up, her emerald optics giving him the usual 'Who are you and what do you want?' look. Megatron held up the hair between thumb and forefinger.
"Yours?" he ground out.
Sparks gave the few strands of hair due consideration, brow wrinkled in deep thought, tail swishing from left to right.
"Yep," she said after half an eternity.
Megatron's optics took on a deeper red glow. "Keep your fluff to yourself!"
Sparks wasn't impressed. "I'm a cat. What do you expect?"
With that she jumped off and, tail raised high, non-chalantly walked out of the recharge chamber. Megatron stared after her, torn between simply shooting her and strangling her with his bare hands. Suddenly a thought struck him. She wanted to be a cat? Fine! He would treat her as one!
His evil smile could have melted titanium steel.
* * *
Sparks returned to Megatron's quarters in a rather good
mood. She had explored part of the new wing of South Port, had pestered
some of the workers, had discovered some very interesting hideaways and
had then spent the afternoon with Ravage, who could be a rather intriguing
person to be around with. The night had been passed prowling again and
now, in the early Cybertron morning, she was looking forward to some napping.
Breaking Megatron's door-lock was almost routine by now and she rarely took longer than a few seconds. It was a knack. Trotting over to the usual napping place, the window sill, she didn't register the changes at first. When she did, she stopped.
Sparks blinked, not trusting her own rather sharp optics. This had to be a joke! Then again, Megatron had never had any sense of humor she could detect.
There, shoved into the corner of the room, was a cat basket. With a pink pillow in it. Pink! And with frills! Sparks shuddered in total disgust and horror.
"Welcome to your new home," a voice said and she looked up, right into Megatron's smiling face.
The smile was broad, honey sweet and welcoming. It made her immediately suspicious. What was going on here?
"My new home?" she asked.
"Your new home, complete with this." He materialized something he had hidden behind his back, placing it on the floor.
Sparks took several steps back and stared at the thing in even greater horror. "A litter box!?" she finally exclaimed.
Megatron's smile didn't waver. "Of course. As a cat you need a litter box."
She looked at him, unable to believe what was happening here. "You can't be serious!" she growled.
"Oh, I'm all serious. You see, you are a cat, I am a cat owner. I have to take care of you, kitty."
Sparks' lower jaw threatened to hit the floor. Had someone over-energized him? Had he lost the last of his synaptic wiring? She looked at the cat basket and the litter box again, then an idea blossomed in her mind. Okay, he wanted her to be a true cat, so be it. Her emerald optics fixed on her 'owner' and then she switched on the 'cuteness'. She sauntered over to her 'master' and entwined herself around Megatron's legs. Then went to inspect her new 'home'. It smelled new and she fluffed it a bit using her clawed paws, then turned in a circle several times before flopping down in a perfectly folded cushion of fur.
Through narrowed optics she watched Megatron walk over to his desk after giving her a wary look and start his daily routine.
Never try and tease a cat, she thought evilly. We strike back when you least expect it.
* * *
Megatron looked over the reports and other stacks of papers
he would have to have a file. The last two days had been even more eventless
and he had arrived at a point where filing away old papers was the only
way to keep him occupied, other than actually assisting Optimus or Rodimus
with Autobot bureaucracy. Something shadowy jumped onto the desk and emerald
eyes glowed softly. Sparks stepped into the light of the desk lamp and
then sat down, watching him.
He went back to work.
Hours later he was ready to blast his silent watcher off the desk. The green stare was unnerving and Sparks had not moved a muscle the whole time!
As if she felt his mood, and Megatron was never certain she wasn't empathic, she walked over to him, rubbing her head against his arm. He shot her an annoyed look, but found himself reacting to the soft purr coming from her. Without conscious thought he began to scratch her head. The purring turned into a contented rumble.
The Decepticon leader suddenly became aware of what he was doing and pulled back his hand as if he had been burned. He glared at the furry pest on his desk and was rewarded with the usual innocent expression she had when she knew exactly what she had done.
"Go and play with a mouse!" he snarled.
"Meow," was the answer and he shot her another glare.
For the past week Sparks had behaved like .... a cat! She slept in the cat basket, she used the scratching post – as well as most of the furniture around here, much to his dismay – and she took regular naps all over the place. And she didn't talk. All she did was communicate in cat noises. It was slowly but surely going on his nerves! But he wouldn't give in. If she wanted to play cat, so be it! He would not break!
Megatron opened a drawer and pulled out a cat toy he had acquired through dark and hidden channels, threatening the one who had sold it to him that if he breathed a word, he would be molten slag. It was a toy mouse on a string. Dangling it in front of the black cat, he watched her emerald optics light up and paw at the toy. Seconds later she was chasing the mouse, getting entangled in the string and making happy noises in the back of her throat.
Shaking his head, Megatron tried to concentrated on his work. He found he was unable to with Sparks chasing a toy mouse. He rose and walked over to where she was trying to entangle herself, picked the rather unresisting bag of fur up and then placed her from inside his office to outside his office. Megatron breathed a sigh of relief when the door had closed.
Two hours later he nearly had a screaming fit and was
ready to give up and simply blast her. Sparks sat on his desk, a robot
mouse in her muzzle, giving him a proud 'Look what I caught' look. She
dropped the dead mouse, pawed at it, then sauntered over to him and walked
around his legs, rubbing her back against him. Her purring seemed to echo
inside the room.
Calmness, Megatron thought, controlling his rising anger tightly. Just stay calm!
He had to find a way to retaliate.....
And he found it. Having the squirming cat tightly in his
grip he strode toward med bay, a malicious smile pasted on his face. Sparks
clawed ineffectively at his armor. She left scratches, but they didn't
hurt, only sting a bit when she managed to get deeper.
"Stop struggling. It's only for your best," he told her sweetly as he dumped her on the examination table in the empty lab. He still held on to the scruff of her neck.
First Aid had followed him and was now shooting curious look at the most infamous pair of pet and 'owner' on Cybertron.
"I've come for her shots," Megatron told the surprised medic. "Cat flu and about every other precaution and shot you can come up with." There was an evil gleam in his optics.
"Cat flu?" First Aid stuttered.
"Yes." The gleam turned even more evil.
"And maybe you should worm her as well."
Sparks gave an enraged screech. She struggled more and suddenly lashed out full force, her unsheathed talons biting into Megatron's hands with such force that they drew energon. He gave a yelp of pain and let go. The cat was out of the lab and med bay in a flash of black fur. Despite the stinging hand and his mild anger that she had got him, Megatron had to smile.
"Score!" he chuckled.
* * *
"Noticed anything odd about Megatron lately?"
Optimus Prime looked up and studied his partner-in-command. "Odd?" he echoed.
Rodimus shrugged. "Well, strange. He seems to have changed. And a bit jumpy lately."
Optimus frowned slightly. Yes he had noticed that Megatron had displayed a strange mixture between nerves and overly joyous moments.
"He is behaving .... out of the ordinary," he finally confessed.
"And then there is Sparks," Rodimus went on. "She behaves like a ....cat...."
Optimus' eyes narrowed. Now *that* was strange. And then he remembered the books he had given Megatron a few weeks ago.
He wouldn't have ...?
He couldn't have.....!
And how come Sparks was playing along?!
"Oh-oh," he muttered. "Trouble."
Rodimus gave him a queer look and Optimus shrugged, then told his younger friend about the books. Rodimus gaped, then broke out in laughter.
* * *
Another week later the contest, game or whatever one would
call it, was severely testing Megatron's nerves. His furniture had scratches
from cat claws, he found cat hair everywhere, and several rather soggy,
chewed up toys were in the most unusual places, but always where he would
surely stumble over them. Sparks had also developed the habit of napping
on his chair, his recharge bed and, when he was recharging, his chest.
It was maddening! Her hair seemed to be everywhere, though she didn't shed
all the time. It looked like she was able to choose when to leave hair
Megatron growled something under his breath. Then he remembered what he had bought a few hours ago and his evil smile returned. He opened his drawer and took out the slender, sparkling collar. It had a Decepticon symbol dangling from it and the name 'Sparks' embroided in glittering kitsch stones. It looked ...disgusting. He grinned. Just right!
Sparks entered the office with a wary look, but there
was nothing amiss. Megatron had cleaned away the toys she had played with,
as well as the hair.
She never saw it coming.
There was a shadow, a quick movement of hands, something slipping over her head and when she finally managed an enraged screech, she was already too late.
Something was wrapped around he neck, it was tight and it felt suspiciously like .... a collar! Her enraged wail drew a rough chuckle and she glared at the towering silver robot with all she had. He had given her a collar! A collar!! Sparks ineffectively scratched at the alien object and discovered there was something dangling from it. You could have killed with the look she then cast Megatron's way.
A Decepticon symbol!
She scratched even more, but to now avail. It was fastened securely around her neck.
"Suits you," Megatron told her with a wide smile. "And keeps the fleas off you."
Fleas??? She had no fleas! She didn't need a flea collar. Walking over to the reflective surface of the door she studied herself and nearly had a fuel pump attack. It was the most horrendous piece of a pet collar she had ever seen. Fake gold sparkles covered its surface, and obviously fake, very large gems! They littered the thing she had around her neck, catching everyone's optic. It was truly ugly!
She hissed at him.
Megatron's smile widened even more. "Now you look like a real kitty cat."
Up yours! Revenge is mine, was all that crossed Sparks' mind.
* * *
Another week later Megatron was ready to give in. Sparks
had resumed her normal life as a cat, doing all those annoying little things
– only with more vengeance behind them. And now she also got under his
feet. He couldn't make a step without finding her right where he wanted
to step or tangling herself into his legs. Once he had nearly collapsed
flat on his face because he had stumbled over her. Sparks had only watched
him with a lot of amusement and he thought he had heard her chuckle.
Then there was her rather pronounced instinct to play with everything. He had found some of her games rather amusing and had given in to playing with her now and then, but she also lost interest from one moment to the next to walk off and do something completely different. Sparks had also adopted the habit of bringing home robot mice, birds and assorted other critters. He had no clue where the drones came from and most of them were rather active before she finally 'killed' them. Worst of all were the moments when he found those dead drones as a 'gift' on his recharge bed.
Another annoying habit was her tendency to play alarm clock. His recharge cycles were set, but Sparks ignored them. Sometimes her loud crying was the demand to be let out of the office – she was the one always breaking in, for Cybertron's sake! Why couldn't she open the cursed door on her own now – or just to demand in a rather plaintive meowing that he feed her. He had never fed her before! He didn't even know where she got the energon she needed to function from! He had tried out different variations of energon, only to be either treated to an expression of disgust or a quizzical 'Got anything more edible?'.
But the most irritating thing about the whole situation was her refusal to talk. She hadn't said a single word! It was incredible and he hated to confess it, but Megatron had grown quite used to the verbal fights, the arguments and the rare serious discussions they had had. And it was showing.
It was all Optimus Prime's fault! He and his stupid gift! He should never have read this idiotic book!
With a growl he looked up from signing some orders and stared at the innocent looking half pet on his window sill. Sparks lay in an impossible position, always on the verge of falling off the narrow sill but never really close to really losing balance. He rose, walking over to her, red optics glaring at her.
"Okay, you win!" he ground out.
Sparks cracked an optics open, then yawned and made a big fuss out of stretching. She scratched herself behind the left ear and then looked at him.
"You can stop with the pretender act," the Decepticon leader continued. "I give up."
Sparks started to clean herself, an act he had begun to hate because it told him she was not the least bit interested in his presence.
She looked up. "Mrow?"
His optics brightened with anger. "What else do you want?"
Sparks seemed to consider it, then shot a pointed look at the dangling symbol around her neck.
"I see." He cautiously reached out and when she didn't introduce him to a pawful of claws, he unfastened the collar and let it fall to the floor. In an afterthought he set his cannon on the lowest setting and incinerated it.
Sparks appeared rather satisfied with it. When she looked up, she met the half-expectant optics of Megatron. She gave the next move due consideration. Either she played on or she accepted his surrender. The last three weeks had been fun as well as a pain and sometimes quite annoying, but generally more fun. She knew that if she kept this up, Megatron would surely change the pace and come up with worse stuff, though the distasteful collar was hard to top.
"Okay," she only said and jumped off the window sill, sauntered over to his desk, jumped onto it and curled up again.
"Okay?" he echoed. "Is that all you have to say?" he demanded.
Sparks looked at him, tilted her head, wrinkled her nose in deep thought. "Old Wossname!" she then added.
Cyclonus was walking by the office when he heard the discharge
of a fusion cannon. He knew the cannon in question. Megatron. Half a second
later the door slid open and a black flash left the room, laughing in glee.
A second shot narrowly missed the flash and burned a hole into the corridor
wall. The door closed again.
"Ah," was all he made.
"Back to normal," the black bird on his shoulder remarked, both not the least bit rattled by what had just occurred.
Cyclonus nodded. "Finally."
Both walked on, ignoring the slightly smoking piece of wall. Maintenance would take care of that.... as always. And probably of the rather ruined office as well. A grin flashed over his face.
Yes, everything was finally back to normal.