Starscream('Tactician'): "Thrust didn't come here to fight! He came here to teach us how to defeat our enemy!"

…and that's where this little idea sprang from. Warning: I'm a committed Thrust fangirl(in more ways than one…), I love the guy to death, and no, he really doesn't deserve this. But it's fun to torture those you love…

Disclaimer: The cheap humour is mine. Hasbro owns everything else.

"I've heard rumours about these three assistants of yours, Megatron. Some claim they are among the most fearsome of the Decepticons. So much for believing everything you hear."


Devils and Black Sheep

"Alright, ladies, line up!"

And the tragic thing, Thrust mused, was that they really were trying. But the fact remained that, after much grumbling and complaining, the shape that the three Decepticons slowly formed had more in common with a swarm of bees than a straight line.

He sighed.

"Yes, fine, that will have to do."

Inspecting the troops. What Joy.

Thrust had done this sort of thing before. Often he had been assigned to planets where the stationed 'warriors' consisted of thieves, pirates and gamblers who had lost all interest in both Megatron and the war. Thrust had dealt with those sort of malingerers before. Thrust had, in the past, transformed many such malingerers into a well-trained, respectable fighting force in under a month. Upon arriving on the moon and glancing at Megatron's chosen Elite, the tactician had had no doubts as to his ability to weld them into an effective war machine within a week.

Taking in Demolisher's slouch, Starscream's petulant scowl and Cyclonus's twitchy shifting, Thrust began to have his doubts.

It wasn't that Megatron's lieutenants were without their redeeming features, he mused in a kind of blank despair. Demolisher was loyal, considerate of his fellow warriors and with that streak of Decepticon viciousness that made him a valuable asset on the battlefield. Cyclonus was reasonably intelligent, despite his cheerfully manic method of tearing into enemies-a method that often made him surprisingly effective to all those standing at least twenty metres away. Starscream was dangerous, both a quick-witted and relentless creature with almost as much skill as pride.

They weren't, despite Thrust's first impression, quite the rabble that he had immediately chalked them up as.

It was just that, despite their various saving graces, Thrust was beginning to form the opinion that Megatron's most lethal shock troops were all utterly insane.


Still. Still. This time, happily, would not be the fiasco that all his other attempts to train them had been. This time his career would not be torn to shreds before his optics by a handful of surly ruffians. No longer, Thrust thought with a trace of semi-manic delight, would hours be wasted watching Starscream and Demolisher engage in hand-to-hand combat practise, only to have the whole thing devolve into a loud argument. No longer would he watch Cyclonus lose all focus during sharp shooting lessons and start spraying the landscape with round after merry round of wasted ammo.

This time, he had come prepared.

He ceased inspection-it was really too depressing for words- and fixed them all with a merciless glare.

Cyclonus scratched one gun and shuffled, whilst Starscream threw him back a look that was scant inches from insubordination.

"Today", Thrust announced suddenly, carefully modulating his voice to contain the perfect amount of threat and hearty enthusiasm, "we are going to work on a relentless weak spot that I have noticed in all of you. Namely…"

He let the pause linger a second, before snatching something from behind his back and raising it triumphantly into the air.

"…target practice!"

This announcement did not get the applause he had been hoping for.

In the silence that followed, Cyclonus and Starscream exchanged a look. It was a quick look, but it had quite a lot to say on the subject of the grey-green creature before them.

Surprisingly, it was Demolisher who first mustered the courage to speak.

"Uh…Thrust? What's…that?"

Had circumstances and facial-mask allowed, Thrust would have smirked in triumph.

"This, my friends, is your new greatest enemy."

There was another of those silences. Then, Cyclonus; "You want us to shoot at a ball of yarn?"

"It's pink. Why is it pink?" Starscream, of course. Thrust sighed.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen." He shook his head sadly. "Can't you see?

"I see a ball of yarn", Starscream said flatly, crossing his arms and fixing the innocent pink sphere with a look that contained all the hatred of a thousand hells.

Close enough, anyway.

Thrust sighed again, dropping his arm as it began to hurt.

"This, my illustrious comrades, is our pathway to victory! The vessel through which we shall obtain total domination of the universe! The object that must become the focal point of your very lives!"

Finally, Demolisher made an effort.

"Um. Thrust? How is a ball of yarn going to help us conquer the Autobots?"

As Thrust made a delighted noise that sounded unnervingly like a giggle, Cyclonus leant towards Starscream and whispered, "Where did he get it all, anyway?" The seeker shrugged.

"Alright seeing as you are all obviously completely beneath understanding the brilliant simplicity of this ball of yarn-…"

…and here Starscream's optics twitched slightly, although he remained silent…

"…-I shall explain it to you. See! Ah…Cyclonus! What can you tell me about this yarn, hmm?"

In retrospect, Thrust mused, that had probably been a mistake. The 'copter-bot stared blankly for a few seconds, before frowning to himself. At last, raised his head, fixed Thrust with a confused yet hopeful look, and said, "It's…colourful?"

"Yes! Bravo! It's colourful! And, Cyclonus, what can you tell me about the Autobots?"

Inspiration dawned on the orange Decepticon's face like sunlight. It wasn't that the helicopter was stupid. But when he applied his mind to a problem, he had to run through every angle of the problem before volunteering an answer. If asked what colour Earth's sky was, Cyclonus would have either said, "Ozone?", or "From which angle?"

"…Colourful?" he said, and was rewarded by Thrust's happy chuckle.

"Yes. Well done. Exactly. So, Cyclonus, can you see the relation between this ball and the Autobots?"

Thrust watched the Decepticon's face change, before deciding to show mercy.

"What do you do to Autobots, hmm?" The voice was almost kind. Cyclonus's face lit up.

"Shoot 'em?" he asked with a grin.

"Well done."

As Cyclonus rejoiced, Thrust gave a nod and turned o the other two. "Alright, girls, time for a little exercise. You are all to take aim upon this ball of yarn-not now! Not now!"

Looking disappointed, Starscream deactivated his null rays. Ruffled but undefeated, Thrust continued.

"As I was saying, you are all going to take aim on this ball of yarn when I have moved out of range and then, and this is the exciting part, you are all going to try to actually hit this ball of yarn. Does anyone see the point to this? Yes? No? The point, gentlemen, is to make an attempt to improve your target-hitting skills, which are, tragically, verging into the realm of the abysmal. When you are capable of hitting a small, innocent, colourful ball of Earthling string, chances are you all just might stand a chance at hitting a large, innocent, fully functional Autobot. Got it?"

They got it.

Thrust selected a position, put down the yarn, and the training began.


Five hour later, Thrust raised a hand into the air. The other was busy cradling his head.

"Stop. All of you. Just stop."

There was a kind of dead resignation in his voice.

By degrees, they stopped. Before Starscream floated a small section of yarn, sliced to pieces by the long, white blade in his hands. Demolisher grumbled and slowly got to his feet. Cyclonus took a bit more time to stop firing randomly, having gotten himself and his rotor hopelessly tangled in pink.

With varying degrees of hostility, three pairs of optics landed on Thrust, irritated at having been distracted in their quest annihilate the hated, long-standing pink enemy.

The majority of the yarn, Thrust noted, was still bouncing innocently over the landscape, a trifle battered after having gone eighteen rounds with an increasingly frustrated Starscream and being used as a volley ball by Demolisher and Cyclonus at least seven times, despite Thrust's strangled threats.


"Alright, that's enough for one day."

Cyclonus protested, having not yet completed his decimation of the accursed yarn. "But…"

"I SAID that's quite enough, Cyclonus. Now, back to base, please, men."

As they watched the stealth jet take off in the direction of the moon base uttering curses under his breath, Demolisher returned to the task of untangling his feet. How the yarn had succeeded in such a clever manoeuvre he did not no and no longer cared. Starscream re-sheathed his sword sulkily, giving a random moon rock a kick. As the seeker stalked past, Cyclonus casually dropped a comment that made both tank and jet grin.

"Gee. Smart tactician and all, you'd think he'd know that yarn doesn't have gravity resistors like we do, wouldn't ya?"


Two months later:

"Lesson twenty-nine: camouflage!"

Demolisher lurked in the long grass. Possibly, there have been worse attempts at hiding since the dawn of time, but Thrust was finding it hard to think of any. Albino chameleons sprang to mind.

Why the tactician had selected the African veldt as a good training spot, Starscream really didn't know. It was, true, a long way off from most of the Autobots' scanners, but then, so was Iceland.

The reason they had warped to earth for this particular exercise, he had declared, was to enhance their 'adaptation and concealment skills'. Which was why Demolisher was now pretending to be a leopard, Wheeljack was trying blend in with an anthill and Cyclonus was trying to look like a tree.

Starscream, for his part, had considered the fact of his red-and-white coating in a mostly brown environment, and simply drawn his sword and tried to look menacing to the grazing wildlife. Thrust, unfortunately, had objected to this, and ordered him to get camouflaged quickly. A move that had almost gotten him killed, had not Megatron contacted them at that moment to demand to know what was going on.

Which was why the Air Commander was now submerged up to his neck in a lake, flamingos on every side.

"Getoff", he grumbled to a large pink fowl who dared wonder too close to his wingtips, both just poking out from under the surface.

"Hey, Thrust? Can we come out now?" pleaded Cyclonus. "My arms are really starting to hurt…"

"Yeah, and these ants are getting to me...", muttered Wheeljack, brushing the tiny red monsters off in their thousands.

"Silence", Thrust snapped, and yet again Starscream was gripped by an unreasoning urge to smite him dead where he stood. "This is a training exercise, we have at least three more hours to go…"

At that point, he was interrupted by the activation of the com-link. Megatron's voice came through, sounding even more infuriated than normal.

"THRUST! What the blazes are you doing down there? We have a crisis!"

The tactician winced, and put his most wheedling, pleading voice to use. "Sir…?"

"A Minicon panel has just activated! Within twenty breems of your area! What is happening?"

A Minicon, thought Starscream in horror, as Thrust froze rock-solid and the began babbling apologies to the warlord.

In…our area? But that means…

Starscream buried his face in his hands, regardless of the fact that they were covered in slime and lake-weeds. "Oh, no…"

Before he could move, before he could even think what to do next, a horribly familiar sound reached his audios. The sound of a warp gate activating and several heavy bodies touching down upon soil at once.

Starscream didn't even bother hoping. Resignedly, he twisted around in the water to see all eight Autobots standing in the middle of the plain, staring.

And so it was that this day took its place as the very worst of our brave, handsome hero's life, he thought morbidly.

Mercifully, they didn't seem to have seen him yet. What they were staring at was the sight of Cyclonus standing rigidly upright, branches in either hand and leaves stuck onto his propeller, Demolisher staring up from the ground with a completely blank expression on his face, and Thrust, standing in the middle, talking to Megatron on the link.

After a few minutes, Jetfire offered a polite 'ahem'. Thrust spun around, and gave an odd squawk at the bemused gazes of the Autobots' greatest warriors.

It was Hot Shot who broke the silence. "We...came for the Minicon."

Adjusting quickly, Thrust was about to give some automatic response, before a petrified wail shattered the stillness. He winced, and turned, as did Optimus Prime and every other Autobot and Decepticon present. (Save for Cyclonus, who was still concentrating on being a tree.)


Optics wide, Hot Shot watched as Wheeljack exploded from behind and anthill and ran past, seeming not to notice them. It was just possible to make out a light red dust all over his torso. A light, red, moving dust.

The black Decepticon, operating on instinct alone, spied the nearest source of water and made a dash for it.

As the black shape appeared before him and the future became instantly clear, Starscream shut his optics off and awaited the mercy of cold death.

This moment is going to haunt me until my dying day.

The flamingos scattered. All save for one, which perched contentedly on Starscream's head, happy that the owner of its perch was suitably distracted. As the pink veil took flight, eight pairs of Autobot optics landed on the third big attraction of the day.

After a while, Smokescreen said, "…Starscream? Is that…you?"

His vocals broke up on the last words, with the beginnings of what jut might have been a giggle. Starscream glared at them all, gracing Thrust with a quiet growl before fixing his gaze solely upon his latest tormentors. He folded his arms and shook the water from his frame, stubborn pride masking an attempt at dignity.

Unfortunately, dignity is difficult when you have a flamingo perched on your head.

Sideswipe giggled, very softly.

It was a barely perceptible sound, yet it was enough. Within two seconds every Autobot was on the ground, clutching their knees or just chuckling to themselves.

The noise seemed to penetrate Cyclonus's little world, and he fell out of position, looking around in surprise. Then his gaze fell upon the Autobots, and his optics lit up.

"Hey! Autobots! Hey, guys, look! The Autobots are here!"

The laughter stopped. Starscream had to admit, the sight of Cyclonus clutching two tree branches with a manic gleam in his eye, particularly an armed Cyclonus, just wasn't all that funny.

A water reed clinging to one of his wings and mud coating his legs, the seeker suddenly grinned.

Beside him, Wheeljack, checking to ensure that all the ants had been successfully removed, now looked up at him quizzically. Then he looked at the Autobots, at the bewildered Thrust, and at Cyclonus's happy grin.

"Shall we?", he said after a reflective pause.

"…Yes, alright", said Starscream. Demolisher turned and gave them a look.

As one, all four Decepticons drew their weapons.

Just as he went for Scavenger, Starscream noticed Thrust, still standing a tad confused amongst the grass. Perhaps, the seeker mused, the day had not been completely wasted, after all.


The warp gate activated. Atoms shifted aside and five grubby, victorious Decepticons took their places.

"Well, that was fun", commented Starscream as he stepped off the platform. The flamingo had finally abandoned his head, having taken off in a distressed flap upon finding itself deeply in the midst of an all-out Autobot-Decepticon braw. As Cyclonus giggled in response, the seeker noted with distaste the dust covering his wings. He'd really have to clean that up soon, nothing disrupted flight patterns like filth stuck in all the wrong places…

Cyclonus piped up, having finally discarded his branches. The first in Hot Shot's exhaust pipe, the second in a vase which he now placed upon a shelf and admired briefly, before turning to Thrust.

"Hey, Thrust? That was really fun! Can we do some more training techniques tomorrow?"

Cyclonus grinned at the tactician, who had said nothing so far. Now he turned and looked at them all. One of his optics was flashing on and off irregularly, and his posture seemed oddly…rigid.

"Thrust?" Demolisher asked, gentle concern in his voice. He reached out and patted the stealth jet's shoulder experimentally, as if interested to see whether he would blow up or not.

At this, however, Thrust jumped, spinning round to look at them in what was now recognizable as abject horror.

"…'More'?" he repeated, voice just above a whisper.

Cyclonus nodded happily, almost hovering an inch above the ground in his enthusiasm. "Oh, yeah! I love this tactics stuff! Can we do it again, huh? Pleeease?"

An optic flashed on and off again, before Thrust turned around and, with an impressive show of speed, bolted. A hideous scream trailed behind him, and eventually disappeared down the corridor.

Demolisher chuckled.

"You know, that was an incredible evil thing you just did", Wheeljack pointed out quietly. The corner of his mouth was twitching.


"Out of interest, how did you all get so good at this?"

"Hey", sniggered Starscream, "why do you think we were named the most fearsome of the Decepticons?"

Wheeljack blinked.


The End.