Author: Koi Lungfish
Disclaimer: Based on characters and situations from The Transformers ((c) 1986 Hasbro, Ltd). Used without permission. Text (c) 2007, Koi Lung Fish (Mark of Lung. All Rights Reserved.)
Continuity: G1 cartoon, pre-Earth.
The last Rappaxians huddled together in a cleft between two bright spearheads of crystal sixty feet high. The gelatinous little xenos stared at Megatron with huge, wet, terrified eyes. There was a certain irony, Megatron thought, in finding the final dregs of their species cowering amongst the crystal formations that had drawn the Decepticons to their world. And now they will die hiding amongst the crystals they died to defend. It brought him no amusement.
Behind him, across the low valley all littered with magenta ooze that had been Rappaxian bodies, with fire-pits where Decepticon gunfire had detonated unseen crystals, there came a great roar, a booming sound that broke into a crash. A Decepticon voice cried out in triumph. Another Rappaxian war-beast had died. Above, jets swung in sweeping search-arcs, their shadows fleeting hither and thither across the smooth hillsides in search of more aliens, more of their brute constructs, more targets. In the distance, Megatron heard the crump and crash as the last Rappaxian city was torn apart, the wordless rumble of Devastator's laughter as he crushed the shard-spun crystal metropolis in his hands.
Before him, the Rappaxians clustered together, silent, shivering, clinging together in a wet mass.
At Megatron's right hand, Thundercracker grimaced and looked away.
"You have some difficulty with your duty?" Megatron snarled. One of the smaller Rappaxians gibbered at the sound of his voice. Thundercracker shook his head, not looking Megatron in the face. Megatron grabbed him by the wing and hauled him close. "This may not be glorious but it is necessary."
"Yeah," Skywarp said, checking his gun and locking in a new ammunition packet. "These things multiply like glitch-mice. If we left this lot alive, next week there'd be six thousand of them, and then we'd just have come back and blow 'em up all over again."
One of the larger Rappaxians wobbled up, pulling itself up to its full knee-high reach. It made slobbering noises Megatron roughly translated as a total, pleading surrender.
"Shoot it," Megatron ordered Skywarp and watched as the organic blob exploded into a mess of brilliantly coloured jelly. A ripple of gibbering ran through the huddled mass, then silence.
Overhead and behind, a jet roared down, blotting out the sun and turning the quivering mass of Rappaxians into a shuddering carpet of glob-shapes.
"This extermination operation is a waste of resources," Starscream shouted as he landed, perching on the edge of the crystal formation on Megatron's right. "We should've stopped back at the plains."
"What, and leave these blasted things to keep creating those blasted things?" Megatron yelled back, jerking a thumb over his shoulder at the hills behind and the crackling, flaring corpses of the war-beasts.
"Bah, those," Starscream said, waving a hand. "They're hardly a threat."
"Never give an enemy a chance to improve his weapons," Megatron said sternly, frowning at Starscream.
The jet snorted. "Are these the last?" he said, waving his other hand at the gibbering crowd.
"So it seems," Megatron said.
"What's taking so long?" Starscream asked imperiously. "Have you lost your nerve?"
"Shut up, Starscream," Megatron ordered on reflex.
"I agree," Thundercracker said sullenly. "It is a waste of time."
Megatron backhanded him, sending him sprawling. "Have you both lost your minds? We are Decepticons! We command the fear of the galaxy because we are merciless! Worlds kneel to us because they know that we will leave nothing behind but ash and corpses!"
"We should have accepted their surrender months ago," Starscream said. "We've wasted gigacubes of energon on this operation!"
"I was willing to accept their surrender when we first arrived," Megatron said, laying out his words like ingots of lead. "They chose to fight. We are Decepticons. We do not deal in mercy!"
"Mercy? Who said anything of mercy?" Starscream sneered. "I was talking about the waste of time and energy! We're losing ground by the planetoid in the Aregula Cluster and what are we doing? Playing around in the muck, slaughtering pathetic xenorganics as if it was fun!"
"We need the energon from this planet to fuel the troops in Aregula, you screaming moron!" Megatron bellowed.
Starscream bridled, optics flaring, wings stiff. "You run-down museum piece!" he shrieked, jabbing a finger at Megatron and incidentally aiming his gun at the same time. "Can't you see we've wasted more fuel on this than we'll extract from this planet in the next three months?"
Megatron raised his cannon arm. "You try my patience, Starscream."
"I was only offering an alternative logistical perspective!" Starscream gabbled, optics widening as he raised his hands defensively.
Skywarp laughed. "Can I shoot these things now?"
"I do not care," Megatron said stiffly, not taking his target locks off Starscream. "Destroy them, or if that task is too menial, ignore them. We will rip this world apart and drain it of everything it has. They will die, now or with their planet. It does not matter which."
"Shooting squishies in a crate is no fun," Skywarp said, sounding bored, and lowered his guns. "Come on, Thundercracker, let's go see if the Constructicons left any of those glowy spikey things behind this time."
As the two jets soared away into the rose-tinted skies amidst the spires of smoke rising from the corpses of the war-beasts, Starscream skidded down the edge of the crystal boulder and smirked at Megatron.
"Going soft in your old age?" he needled.
"It's barely worth the cost in ammunition to destroy those things," Megatron said, as they launched themselves into the air and turned towards the falling city. "Their war-beasts are destroyed, they have no refuge and no resources to fall back on."
"As I said, soft," Starscream smiled, poisonous as a dagger in the neck.
"Soft? I'll show you soft!" Megatron snarled. Pivoting in flight, he trained his cannon on the cleft. With target-locks fixed, he saw the expressions of terror on every Rappaxian face. He saw them raise their grasping-tendrils to cover their wet eyes, to cling to one another or to shield one another. What hopeless weakness, he thought. They had the chance to serve us as slaves; now, for their presumption, their world dies. A fast flare of anger burned up inside him. Foolish flesh-germs! Did they really believe they could defy us? Did they believe they stood a chance against the Decepticons? Let them die for their arrogance!
He fired, and the crystal cleft erupted in a purple blaze; the crystals glowed, throbbed with power, and put forth crackling spurs of new growth. The Rappaxians went extinct in a patter of gentle magenta rain.
Other worlds will hear of this and tremble before us, Megatron thought, angry at himself for giving in to Starscream's goading, angry at himself for letting the campaign drag on so long. Some will take up arms in outrage. As soon as we blot out one irritation, another springs up, and the Autobots will welcome them all.
Was it right to do this? Was it right to squash one germ at the risk of angering some other, more powerful future foe?
Am I making Cybertron a target?
He looked around at the devastation, the emptiness of a landscape once thronged by an alien race, the ruined bodies of war-beasts scattered on the slopes of the hills, the tearing and crashing of the city falling, the dark shapes of jets slicing the air, Starscream floating, waiting, smirking, equally lethal in all directions.
"Found your nerve, you antiquated lump?" Starscream asked.
"Starscream, you fool! We are Decepticons - proud, mighty and merciless! If anyone will stand against us, let them come! We will show them a true test of strength. And if they outmatch us in strength," - Megatron laughed - "then they will learn why we are called Decepticons."
Author's notes & addenda:
Feedback always welcomed.