Note: Sooo freakin' sorry this one took so long, it really is inexcusable. However, I stand by what I've been saying with this fic; it'll never die, not until it is completed. It may take a while between updates, but I promise it shan't die.


Chapter Fifteen: Damage Control

Megatron sat in his chair - the one in the command room that only HE could sit in. The room was dimly lit, casting warped shadows as the massive, ashen beast of metal that was Megatron sat hunched over with only his thoughts for company. Megatron frowned to himself. Brooding was not usual for him. He was a mech of action who fed off emotion and conflict. He wasn't the sort to just… sit about. Yet here he was, he mused, sitting alone in the near dark and stewing in his thoughts not unlike that morbid twit Dirge. Lately he had been… concerned about certain matters.

Ever since his battle with that freak.

The frown on his face deepened, and his optics blazed slightly at the memory. He had nearly died at the hands of some emotionally unstable, organic fledgling. He, a warlord with countless vorns of experience, and he'd nearly been defeated by a mistake of fate. If the Cybertronian race had a single, organic form, then Spike would be a tumor blighting it; a distorted mass of corruption that had no place in the body of its species. Megatron mused that, had this been just some regular, Autobot punk, it would not have posed THAT much of a problem. Humiliation at the hands of an Autobot could be dealt with eventually. After all in this war you were bound to pick up a couple of dents along the way. But Spike… he wasn't an Autobot, not a real one anyway. His near-victory over Megatron was far more damaging then even his troops could know.

His troops…

He could see it in their optics, he knew he could. That barely-there hint of disdain and judgment. That carefully-hidden contempt that he KNEW they were feeling. It didn't matter how often he terrorized them or asserted his authority and strength, it was still there… it was as if Starscream's blatant treachery had infected the rest of the crew in ways far more insidious. Only a few were spared, namely Soundwave and Skywarp (who'd been uncharacteristically sullen ever since his utter humiliation and mutilation at the hands of the abomination). The rest though… they thought him weak, to be nearly killed by what had once been a mere human. Starscream's poisonous words did not help matters much; with all the ammo the incident had provided him, it would seem that the crew was now giving serious thought to the Air Commander's rather vocal insistence that he was a better choice of leadership.

This, however, did not worry Megatron. Not as much other implications that arose from that day. Megatron had for his entire existence based his philosophy on the supremacy of mechanical life over organic life. That, even if given an equal footing, organics would inevitably fail before Cybertronnian life in all ways possible. The perfection of machine life in comparison with organics was one of the central tenants of the Decepticon worldview. But, now this long held view had been challenged…and it threw everything into doubt. Should the news spread back home, it could prove disastrous. It could plant the seeds of doubt into more weak-willed, open-minded members of the Decepticon faction and, if left unchecked, undermine the united (at least against the outside) front of his army, thus spelling ruin for his ambitions and all his hard work. He had to nip this problem in the bud before it caused him any undue stress back home.

But how to accomplish that? mused the old tyrant as he set a hand to his chin and let out a low murmur of inquiry. He needed something, something that would end in Spike's death and hopefully restore his credibility. Something to remove doubt…or, failing that, distract his mechs from the doubts until they faded to insignificance. But what? What could he do…?

The cogs in his mind, both metaphorical and literal, began turning as one thought led to another, then another, and another. Slowly but surely, he began to sit up straight, and then a most hideous smile graced his ancient features.

He had a plan.

"Why the slag do we have to be at the forefront of all this?" Brawn groused as he carried away the metal wall plate while other minibots sifted through the wiring contained within, inspecting them for any unfortunate surprises that may have been left by the lunatic thing that had taken control of the ship a scant day ago.

"'Cause, for one thing, we're small enough to get into the real nitty-gritty of it all, Brawn," Windcharger explained while casually shunting aside his own portion of metal plating using his magnetic-fields. "I mean it's not like the Dinobots are gonna be able to pick through all this junk and get those damn bugs out with any precision, now are they?"

"Easy there, Sludge. Easy!" As if by magic, Windcharger's point was proven when the frantic call of Wheeljack came as he directed Sludge (whose rather infamous clumsiness was not doing the nerves of the somewhat scatterbrained scientist any favors) in stacking the wall plates further down the corridor.

Brawn just grumbled to himself as he continued his work. After the disaster involving X, the Ark had been practically turned inside-out in the effort to "decontaminate" the various inter-structural cables and wires which had been laced with the nanobots that had endowed X his seemingly supernatural ability to control the very ship itself. This group consisted not only of Brawn and Windcharger, but also a rather distracted Bumblebee, who was at this moment dazedly sifting through the conduits and not paying any real attention to his work as other thoughts occupied his mind.

To the yellow Bug, it just seemed unending… it was if whatever force that controlled the universe and all within it had decided that Spike was to be the butt of a cosmic joke, and not a funny one at that. Ever since the reformation, ever since the TRANSFORMATION, it seemed like every time one problem was dealt with another, much bigger problem came along to gum up the works! Bumblebee resented it, and he was more than a little irritated that he couldn't check up on Spike, languishing in the medbay for the second time in but a few weeks. Ratchet certainly wasn't about to become a fan of his, that was for certain.

Come off it 'Bee, you're just being a worry wart, he scolded himself as his nimble, little fingers absently picked away at clump of nanobots, setting them into a scattered pile next to him. You've gone through all this earlier, haven't you? I mean, you thought the worst when Spike got out of that fight with Megatron, and he turned out fine didn't he?

But Bumblebee's failure to cheer himself up only caused him to vanish deeper into his own somewhat depressing little world. An outside observer would easily compare his mood to that of the perpetually unhappy Huffer or the hypochondriac Gears, and, to be quite frank, in his current state he would not dispute such a comparison. He was so wrapped up in his worries about Spike that he hadn't noticed that someone was calling out to him, not until…

"BEE!" A hand gripped at his shoulder.

"Aiiiighg!!" shrieked the tiny saboteur as he jerked in panic, pinning himself against the wall to face… a rather confused-looking Windcharger.

"Good grief, 'Bee, what's up with you? You're wound up tighter than Red Alert usually is," Windcharger cocked his head to the side, looking at the strung-out Mini with more than a hint of worry. With a sigh, Bumblebee forced himself into a calmer state as he tried to explain himself.

"Sorry 'Charger, I'm just… distracted, is all…"

"Lemme guess; Spike?" Windcharger smirked knowingly, to which Bumblebee smiled, softly and sheepishly.

"Is it that obvious?"

"All of your PAST emotional upheavals this year seem to focus around his state of being, so yeah, it's kinda obvious," Windcharger shrugged, sarcasm thick in his voice before his overall demeanor changed to a more sympathetic state. "Ease up, 'Bee. Ratchet'll repair him good as new, you'll see. I mean, we all thought it might be the end of him after that showdown he had with Megatron, didn't we?"

"Yeah, you're right… still, this whole thing is just nerve wracking," Bumblebee sighed before smiling back at Windcharger. "You're right, Ratchet WILL fix him." Then, the Bug looked around curiously. "Incidentally, how much more of this do you think we have to go through before we're finally done?"

"More than enough," grouched Brawn, who was busy moving materials. "And am I the only one who remembers how to work here?! C'mon you two, let's see some hustle!" To emphasize his point, the pint-sized titan tossed his current load of scrap into the cart with a resounding clang. Not needing to be told twice, his fellow mini-bots split up to resume their own parts in the cleanup. And while the minis worked on their part of the mess, Wheeljack worked on his with Sludge, entertaining himself through one-sided conversations with the somewhat dim Dinobot. At this particular moment, Wheeljack was swooning over something caught between his forefinger and thumb; a teeny tiny nanite, one of the many scraped from the insides of the ship's wiring.

"Beautiful, isn't it Sludge?" Wheeljack said in an airy, almost loving voice as he displayed the minute machine to the large Dinobot, who simply gazed upon it with a marked amount of confusion (more so than usual for Sludge).

"Uuuh…what beautiful?" the big mech asked in puzzlement as he tried to get a look at the minute thing between his co-creator's fingers.

"This! THIS is a beautiful work of craftsmanship and ingenuity here in my hand," Wheeljack explained excitedly, while Sludge decided to simply let the inventor yammer on to his spark's content. It would be much less painful for his head that way. "The possibilities of these things are practically endless! To think that it could come from such a diseased mind - wait." The inventor suddenly narrowed his optics as his vision focused on the intricate circuitry and design of the tiny drone, and then they widened in anger. "Why that son of a GLITCH!" he roared, causing Sludge to jump in surprise. "He stole this design from me! Why that slimy…! No," Wheeljack said suddenly, forcing himself to calm. "No, I won't let the glitch get my goat. Nooo, I'm just gonna keep moving forward with this!" he declared firmly, turning around and tossing the nanite into the trash pile Sludge was getting ready to haul away. "Speaking of which, we better get moving. Still plenty to clean up here, eh Sludge?" With that, he started to head to another section that had been yet to be decontaminated.

Sludge, finally realizing that Wheeljack was moving tried to catch up. Unfortunately, in his hurry to join his fellow 'bot, he ended up doing something that was dangerous for any and all involved.

He lost his footing, and began to sway around as he tried to regain it. "Whoa..whooa…" he rumbled out, prompting Wheeljack to turn around in curiosity… and then yelp in alarm.

"Ack! Sludge! Easy there, big fella, easy…!" he raised his hands protectively. By some stroke of bad luck, Sludge's stumbling had him pinned in a corner and he hoped to Primus that he would be outside the range of the massive Dinobot's body. To his dismay and horror, Sludge continued to lurch and wobble about.

"Sludge gonna fall!"

"No, Sludge, you won't fall! Falling is bad, VERY bad! Just find your balance- OH NO! NO!!"

Suddenly there was a crash, a feeling of the base rumbling, and the sound of metal impacting on metal. The minibots scrambled to the scene, and, upon arriving, began to wince in sympathy as they saw Wheeljack writhing desperately under the immense metal bulk that was Sludge and the only slightly less immense mass of scrap the Dinobot had been carrying. Sludge himself, had only one thing to say.


Many hours after the cleanup was complete, a soul began to stir within the Ark's medical bay.

Hello HUD, my old friend, Spike thought absurdly to himself as he began to regain his consciousness, his vision greeted by the now familiar sight of the statistics and readouts that would assail his vision every morning after recharge, but before his optic sensors came online. Spike was actually quite thankful to see the readouts on his Head Up Display this time. After what had happened God knew how long ago with X, it was comforting to know that he was still alive. He shivered as the battle against X raced in his mind, the memories flashing before him like some horrid kind of slideshow. He remembered everything - from X's taunting speech and the revelations of what Red Alert had wanted to do with him, to the desperate, close-in fight and the bloody carnage they had wrecked upon each other, to the terror of having a hostage made from his…

"….Dad?" he spoke out in a quiet voice, barely audible. But his audials picked up a rather different response from what he was expecting.

"Aw, slaggit," growled Ratchet, and, upon hearing THOSE dreaded words, Spike's optics came online in a miniature blaze of blue. "He's conscious too soon. Slagging faulty knockout cartridges."

Spike did not need to look around to know where he was; the medical bay was very much synonymous with the sound of Ratchet uttering the word "slag". "Wha… Dad?" Spike murmured out as he tried to sit up, looking around for the sight of his father, only to be shoved back down on the medical berth, his audials assaulted by Ratchet's exasperated roar.

"For the love of Primus, don't move! I haven't completed repairs yet!"

"Better do as the Doc says, Son. Don't want you losing something vital, now do we?" came the familiar (but slightly forced) chuckle of Sparkplug Witwicky. Spike turned his head and smiled, seeing not only his father sitting on the ledge of a table, but Bumblebee with him and looking very relieved.

"Hey, Dad. Hey, 'Bee," Spike said tiredly, a smile on his face. "How's it hangin'?"

"You mean aside from you, once again, scaring us silly?" Bumblebee wryly responded with crossed arms and a raised eye-ridge, prompting a chuckle from Spike.

"Yeah, aside from that," Spike chuckled. Sparkplug's own face took on a serious countenance, his voice speaking of the deep relief he felt.

"Well, Son, you've been out for quite some time. Ratchet's been working nonstop ever since you got in here. That nutcase sliced you up something awful, but Ratchet's nearly done with you." Then the man's voice and demeanor lightened some. "Second time in a few weeks you've been on this berth. Makes me think you're developing some kind of fetish for it."

"Oh, that's a pleasant thought…" Spike groaned, "Seriously though, is this gonna become a recurring element of my life as an Autobot?"

"I dunno. Maybe you're cursed?" Bumblebee shrugged.

"Funny, 'Bee. VERY funny," Spike groused sarcastically. "I already thought about that one, thank you very much," he huffed, but smiled to assure the small, yellow 'bot that he was just joking. Bumblebee for his part just chuckled and set a hand to the massive mech's shoulder.

"Seriously though, Spike, it's good to see you're pulling through," Bumblebee explained with a soft, relieved smile. Spike appreciated the gesture, however, while he physically may have felt fine (or what passed for "fine" in his current body), mentally he was still somewhat on the edge. The memory of what X had told him - of what Red Alert had suggested be done to him… he shivered slightly, he couldn't help it. It didn't help that the mech repairing him would have been the one to… to…

Before Spike could finish contemplating that horrific thought, a voice rang out from the entrance of the bay - a voice practically dreaded by the master of that particular domain.

"Heya, folks! What's shakin?" The grinning form of Sideswipe was soon making it's way towards Spike, prompting everyone present to focus their attentions on the vermillion warrior as he strolled on through.

"JUST WHAT IN THE PIT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING HERE?!" Ratchet bellowed, standing tall as he glowered at the precocious mech. Sideswipe simply chuckled.

"Oh, work's over, so I figured I'd just swing on by to see how 'Mister Popular' here was doing," he explained smoothly as he managed to slink his way around the irate medic and to the side of Spike's berth. "Congrats, kiddo, you've just earned a spot on Ratchet's slag list twice in a single month!" His grin widened some, and Ratchet just groaned.

"Oh joy," Spike stated flatly as he eyed Sideswipe with some degree of suspicion. Whenever either one of the twins showed up, something bad would happen. It was practically a Law of Nature, and why would the medical bay be spared?

"Seriously, though, how you feelin'? That damage looks pretty nasty," Sideswipe's tone shifted to concern as he looked over Spike's form. While the life-threatening damage had been dealt with, Spike's body was still riddled with some rather horrendous looking wounds, the worst pretty much mangling his right arm.

"Actually, I feel fine," Spike admitted, while Bumblebee patted his undamaged shoulder.

"Primus, the amount of painkillers you must be on," Bumblebee said sympathetically…and then jumped (along with everyone else in the room) at Ratchet's sudden outcry.

"Oh Primus, that's right! The painkiller cartridges will be wearing off! Aw, slaggit…" He winced to himself and sped towards a counter, seeking more analgesics. "I was counting on the sedatives keeping you under longer than that, so I haven't been boosting them like I'd usually do," he said ruefully and with more than a hint of apology in his voice.

"Really? 'Cause, to be honest, I don't really feel much of anything," Spike stated calmly - almost serenely. All the 'bots present turned to stare at him, incredulous… and that made Spike nervous. "What?" he asked, looking around at the gaping expressions of the mechs present.

"Don't toy with me, Spike," Ratchet growled dangerously. "Don't make jokes like that, ever. Do you understand me?"

"What joke?" Spike's metal brow furrowed in annoyance as he lifted his hands to gesture in bewilderment. "I'm telling you, I feel okay. I mean that buzzing sensation is pretty much everywhere, but it's not like it hurts."

"Whoa…you really don't feel anything?" Bumblebee asked in slight horror, giving the impression that, if he were human, he'd be going pale.

"Ratchet…what does this mean exactly?" Sparkplug asked in worry, causing the medic's brow to furrow in anger and curiosity. Before he could say anything, though, the cruel mistress known as fate decided to intervene; the half-sliced, inner cabling of Spike's damaged arm – which had been essentially the only thing keeping the limb attached, finally gave way. His forearm fell to the table with a clatter and then rolled off the edge, dangling uselessly from one last nerve cable before finally clanging to the floor.

Spike looked down at it, then at his friends, and let out a single, sheepish "Oops…"

Bumblebee and Sideswipe both gaped in shock. Bumblebee's face looked like it was frozen in a silent scream before turning to a supremely sickened look, his hand shooting to his mouth to prevent an involuntary expulsion of energon. Sideswipe's expression soon warped into a kind of dopey-yet-impressed smile, and gave voice to his thoughts on the matter with only one word. "Cooool," he drawled.

"OUT! Both of you get outta here NOW!" Ratchet bellowed, grabbing Sideswipe and Bumblebee roughly shoving them out of the bay despite their protests. He slammed the door shut and locked it before he turned to face Spike and Sparkplug who was also starting to look a little ill from the display. Ratchet narrowed his optics at the bemused Spike. "All right, boy, what are you trying to pull here?"


"Didn't I tell you not to toy with me? I don't know what you're playing at with this tough guy routine, but I suggest you drop it now."

Now Spike was getting annoyed. "Tough guy routine? Ratchet, seriously, I don't feel exactly good, but I'm not in agony or anything. It hurt more when I broke my leg when I was six."

"Spike… you've lost a LIMB," Sparkplug finally spoke, looking horrified, as well he should. "You can't honestly say you don't feel it… you just can't."

"I sorta just did…" Spike said sheepishly, while Ratchet picked up the detatched arm and then glared down at Spike. Only Ratchet could care with a glare.

"Once I re-attach this limb to you, I'm going to get to the bottom of this. I suggest you get comfy, kid. I'm going through every sensory conduit in your body and every circuit in your processor until I find what's glitched!" he said gruffly as he retrieved a welder. This was a serious problem; if Spike truly WAS nerve dead, for lack of a better phrase, then he would be at considerable amount of danger on the field.

However, he could have chosen better words. The talk of going through his processor brought back memories of a certain revelation, prompting Spike to flinch and shiver at the thought. Realizing what was going on his son's mind, Sparkplug leveled a glare at the medic, who shuttered his optics in confusion. "What? What?!" Ratchet asked with a frown.

"Ease up with that kinda talk. Given that certain facts about a certain meeting came up, I'd thank you to NOT talk about turning my boy inside out." Sparkplug now had his hands on his hips, and his glare intensified.

"What the Pit are you…?" Ratchet asked irritably before his optics widened and realization dawned – that meeting. "Oh, slag!"

"Oh Slag' is right," Sparkplug growled. Spike for his part looked anxious. When he spoke it was with the fearful tone of a mech who might not have wanted the answers.

"Would…would you have done it?" he whispered, feeling something akin to a knot forming in his stomach… that is, if he still had one. The medic had a decidedly uncomfortable look about him.

"Spike…" he sighed, trying to find words for something he did NOT want to speak of .

"Answer him, Ratchet. Answer the BOTH of us," Sparkplug growled, his gaze turning baleful and practically soul flaying. Ratchet looked at him, then at Spike, still shivering and now beginning to look actually frightened on his berth.

"No… no, I wouldn't have," Ratchet said thoughtfully. "It would have taken a frag of a lot more than Red gave us to make me do that. Not even with a direct order from Optimus."

Sparkplug sighed in relief, his expression softening some. "That's...comforting to know, Ratchet. Still, that it even came up... that we had to hear the truth from the mouth of that...that..." He growled in disgust as his memories turned to X. That he somehow created that monstrosity would haunt him for the rest of his days, though not nearly as much as learning so awful a truth from him. Spike stared at the ceiling as the weight of the matter began to bear down upon him.

"I knew you guys were.." He didn't say "scared of me", he just could not bring himself to actually speak it. Luckily the message was clear enough to the visibly troubled medic. "But that it was THAT bad…"

Ratchet bowed his head in shame before the ex-human and his father. "I'm sorry, Spike. The only thing I can say in our defense was that the option had to be raised before we could dismiss it...but that sounds pretty damn hollow, I know."

"VERY damn hollow," Sparkplug piped up, anger flaring before he softened and sighed. "At least we know you'd have never gone through with the cockamamie plan."

Ratchet again sighed before turning his attentions to Spike. "Probably I'm the last person you want near your processor at this point, Spike. If we had another medic in this gravity well, I'd happily turn your case over to him. But, as it is..."

Spike again shivered, then looked up at Ratchet questioningly, forcing himself into relax. "You say there's something wrong with my nerves?" he ventured.

"Considering you're not screaming in agony right now and I've not given you a lick of additional analgesia, damn right there's something wrong." Ratchet snapped, his trademark irritability returning. Sparkplug groaned, shaking his head sadly.

"As if there wasn't enough going on in his life…" he grumbled. A weak chuckle came from Spike as he forced a smile for his father.

"You always said, 'It never rains but it pours'."

Ratchet kept silent, torn between wanting to smack Spike and yell at him to cooperate already and the knowledge that was the one thing he COULDN'T do at this point.

"Yeah, but it usually stops after a bit," Sparkplug sighed before turning to face Ratchet. "So you're saying my boy is the Cybertronnian equivalent of being nerve dead?"

The medic scowled fiercely. "Let me put it this way. If Ironhide was on this table with the same injuries, he'd be screaming his head off...that is if his processor hadn't already off-lined in self-defense."

Spike's optics shuttered in a blink. "Heck…"

"God…" Sparkplug winced. Spike was THAT damaged? He should be in THAT amount of pain? He shuddered at the thought; as a war veteran he was no stranger to pain, but still.

"So you see why I might be just a little bit concerned." Ratchet drawled, his sarcasm rallying at last.

"Do what you have to, Doc," Spike finally said as he rested his head back against the berth.

"No kidding," Sparkplug murmured. Ratchet picked his tools up, readying them for the long job ahead.

"Okay, I'm gonna get you put back together the rest of the way, first. I'm feeling generous, so I'll give you a break before we go through your pain net." Ratchet explained as he revved the tools up. Spike for his part could not help but grin.

"That would be the calm before the storm, right?" he quipped, prompting a chuckle from Sparkplug.

"So what else is new? Lay down and let the mech work boy!" he smiled, happy to see his son calming down finally.

"And it's my chance to decide what the Pit I'm going to do to Red for this frag-up." Ratchet growled as he set to work on Spike, the sound of sparks flying and metal grinding filling the med bay.

"I suggest a forced vacation. That ought to drive him up the wall," Spike offered impishly. Ratchet chuckled and shook his head.

"Too much trouble to get him back in working order again after his CPU locks up. I'd say a good smack upside the cranial unit would do it. Better than what..." He suddenly fell silent as a horrific realization dawned upon him.

"What?" Sparkplug asked anxiously, fighting off the panic he was feeling at Ratchet's suddenly horrified face. Ratchet turned his head to the two, his face now wearing the same axiousness as Sparkplug's tone.

"I know I have no right to ask this of you two, but...I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell anyone else about this. At least until I've discussed it with Optimus. I've got enough work to do without having to put Red back together if...certain mechs found out." Ratchet was utterly serious as he spoke, as well as more than a little apologetic.

"Oh man, you're right…" Sparkplug murmured, his eyes widening. In his head, an image formed of a panicked Red Alert dashing down the halls of the Ark, pursued by a screaming and homicidally-enraged, axe-wielding Bumblebee. Under normal circumstances a hilarious thought, but given that things now were anything BUT normal…

Spike's optics widened, his own thoughts echoing those of his father. "Yeah...actually, I think Red Alert's kinda got his already. The act I had to pull to get Dad away from X..." Sparkplug winced at the memory. He did NOT want to repeat that again. Ratchet for his part returned to his work resolutely, determination written in his metallic face.

"Well, I'm gonna have 'words' with Optimus and the whole command staff about this. Now lay back and relax," he ordered as he continued with his work.

Spike did as ordered, though his mind was hardly relaxed. Yet again, he'd had a revelation about his new nature sprung on him, leading him once more into a spiral of frustration and self-doubt. Although, given how it seemed the universe was picking on him, he was more than justified in feeling this way.

It never ends…it just never freaking ends! He thought to himself angrily. Am I EVER going to get a goddamed break?!

Had some informative deity been listening to Spike's question and saw fit to answer it, he would have said something around the lines of "Hell no." For even as Spike recovered from both his battle and the latest shocking revelation in his life, events were unfolding deep within the Nemesis II that would prove hazardous for the former human.

"Wonder what the boss wanted us for?" Thundercracker asked aloud to his companion, the currently sullen Skywarp. "Must be pretty important for him to call us all here, eh?"

"Hrmph," was the sole response of the other jet, and Thundercracker could only sigh as he gazed forward over the mass of Decepticons ahead of him, the murmur of their own private conversations and gripes echoing through the room. For Thundercracker, it hadn't been easy being with Skywarp ever since that battle. He supposed that he shouldn't be too surprised though; what had happened to him was simply horrifying, especially from the viewpoint of a flyer. Ever since leaving the medical bay, Skywarp had become a sullen, moody, and short tempered mech. It was disconcerting to the blue mech to see his friend in such a state, and more so to see his attempts at lightening Skywarp's spirits - or at least get a positive reaction from him - fail over and over again. Still, he wasn't going to give up on his friend. He'd break out of his funk, eventually. He'd have continued, but the appearance of Megatron at the head of the room quickly silenced him. The grey tyrant was accompanied by both Soundwave and a somewhat perturbed Starscream.

"Fellow Decepticons, lend me your audials!" he bellowed out. The reaction was almost instantanous, everyone shutting up and turning their heads to face their leader. Skywarp did the same, though his dark expression did not alter for a moment. Megatron, having gotten the attention of the room, continued. "As you are all aware, the Autobots have a new addition to their ranks, formerly one of their little organic PETS," he spat.

"Wonder whose fault THAT is?" Starscream remarked snidely, prompting some chuckles from the crowd before they were silenced by a glare from Megatron. Soundwave was the only one in the room who remained silent and still, standing by his master's side as he had done for countless vorns. Normally, Megatron would have put Starscream in his place right then and there for daring to interrupt him, but he refrained; Starscream would get his comeuppance soon enough, much better then a simple beating could deliver.

Megatron continued with his speech.

"I have decided that this abomination, this affront to our own glorious purity, must not be allowed to continue existing! It is for this reason that I have reached this decision; whoever is able to kill the FAKE Autobot known as Spike, shall not only be rewarded handsomely in energon, but he shall also be my NEW second-in-command!"

"WHAT?!" Starscream shrieked in utter shock, while the other Decepticons began to chatter excitedly as an opportunity unlike any other presented itself to them. Way in the back, Thundercracker noted that Skywarp at last had a smile on his face; a dark, deeply malignant smile.

"Megatron, this is a joke, you can't be serious!"

Megatron simply smiled down at his Air Commander.

"What? You've long boasted of your prowess as both a warrior and leader; think of this as a chance to prove it. After all, if you're good as you say you are, you should have NO difficulty in taking down that freak and keeping your position," Megatron said smugly before shoving the indignant seeker aside and observing his handywork with an demonic gleam in his optics. He ignored the squawkings of his second-in-command as he took a moment to marvel at the plan he developed. It was perfect… uttery and completely perfect. Each and every last one of the piratical mechs under his command would be aching for a stab at Spike now, and with a little luck, the aberration's days would be numbered now. Even better, with this threat to his rank present, Starscream would be doing everything in his power to be the one to do the deed. Loath as Megatron was to admit it, Starscream WAS one of his better warriors, flaws and all. And now all of that skill and ferocity was going to be focused on one target and one target only - something for him to obsess over other than usurping the command of his betters for once.

Life in the future was about to become much, much more difficult for Spike than he'd could have realized. And Megatron was going to love each and every second of it.

Sooner or later, Spike. Sooner or later… he thought to himself with a dark chuckle.