This is the sequel to A Covert Op. To read about Starscream and Bumblebee (and anyone else) I'll update Mad, Bad and Dangerous, more or less at the same time. Although they all take place at the same time, I decided to keep them separate.

G1 Starscream in yet another coup d'etat. Does he win, lose or draw this time? Only Primus knows for sure.

Covert Lives

Prologue

I.

Skyfire looked at the figure with look of amazement. He couldn't quite believe what he was hearing.

"Are you saying that you have unqualified commitments from all of them?"

"That's exactly what I'm saying".

"Well, precisely what is it you intend to do afterwards?"

Starscream looked at Skyfire irritably. Did he have to explain everything to him?

II.

It had taken a long time but he had finally convinced Skyfire to help him with getting into Shockwave's laboratory on Cybertron. He discovered Elita-One was coordinating insurgency operations in Cybertron. Instead of revealing this information to Megatron, he decided to use it for his own purposes until he could find a way to exploit it.

A wave of discontent was building in the Decepticon army. Matters were at a standstill. The Autobots had managed to ingratiate themselves with the dominant life form on Earth and secured a guaranteed flow of energy supplies, forcing them on the defensive; indeed, it was now they who were forced to sneak around and steal whatever energy supplies were available. As if that weren't humiliating enough, the Autobots had somehow developed the struts to fight back, inflicting losses. No, the troops were unhappy. They hadn't joined up to take a back seat to a motley crew of Autobots.

Unlike the Decepticons, the Autobots were not originally configured as military grade; they were default consumer goods. The art of war was not part of their core programming and that one fact alone made them inferior, which is why they all felt especially humiliated after losing to them. And they blamed Megatron. He was, after all, their leader, as he reminded them at every opportunity.

Megatron had been frustrated and thwarted at every turn. He took his it out on his troops, and in particular, Starscream. He was blamed for every failure. It made no difference Megatron's lack of strategy and tactical deficiencies were the real cause of their losses-he expected them to not only to take the blame, but to accept the beatings and humiliations he heaped on them after every loss.

He singled him out for the worst.

Starscream often wondered why. He was one of his earliest followers, bringing the other two Seekers, Thundercracker and Skywarp, then the rest. Even Megatron knew that without air power, his movement was doomed to be one of many that had sprung across Cybertron shortly before the civil war erupted. Air superiority had been the factor that determined victory. The Autobots had no fighter aircraft and were incapable of creating any until recently; however, the ones created recently were no match for them.

He knew why Megatron singled him out; he was afraid of him. He was threatened by Starscream's skill and intellect.

He was a graduate of the Academy, a trained scientist and had succeeded in being appointed to head Vos. All accomplished without having to resort to a war. Megatron may have fought his way to the top, but he was aware Starscream was capable of maneuvering himself tothere before anyone knew what had happened.

The public humiliations were deliberate, designed to reinforce his role as supreme leader and Starscream as a weak number two. He had had enough. He'd tried to take over before but every attempt had backfired; however, he was determined to succeed this time. And surprisingly, Shockwave had opened the door.

Shockwave had been manipulated into flowing Megatron right after the disastrous conflict with Vos, which had been Megatron's intention all along. Starscream, having guessed Megatron's true objective and recognizing it as the perfect way to convince the numerous Seekers residing in Vos to join Megatron, went along. He didn't care so long as Megatron held up his part of the bargain; appointing him Air Commander and eventually, making second only to Megatron himself. If the price was the annihilation of Tarn and Vos, well, so be it.

Power was worth the price of one decayed city.

Ever since they came out of stasis on Earth, matters had taken a turn for the worse. Megatron had shown mercy when he should have taken no prisoners, he had held back when he should have gone forth.

In short, Megatron had lost the ability to lead his troops to victory, the biggest flaw amongst their kind there was.

He had to be taken out. And the Autobots had provided the means.

When Megatron sent him to Cybertron to assist Shockwave with finding and destroying the Autobot guerillas, he realized they could be valuable. Instead of hunting them down, he fed Megatron just enough information to appease him while he convinced Soundwave that Shockwave was a traitor. Eventually, Soundwave agreed to help him with uncovering what Shockwave was working on Cybertron. Soundwave had discovered evidence that he was conducting secret experiments from the data Starscream had obtained. With the discovery that Shockwave had created to what amounted to his own personal army of Seeker clones, he had also confirmed that Megatron had not only not authorized Shockwave's experiments but had, in fact, expressly forbidden him under pain of termination.

Recently making Astrotrain his lieutenant, he secured the loyalty of the Triplechangers. Soundwave had reluctantly agreed that Megatron's recent performance left much to be desired. The remainder would go along-or face termination. Getting the Autobots to do the hard work and get the information they needed, in addition to attacking on his command, was a remarkable accomplishment. He was pleased with himself.

He looked directly at Skyfire. "As second in command, I am next in line. It's time Decepticons had a leader that can lead them into the future, instead of living in the past".

"Let me guess- that would be you."

"I hope that's not a problem for you" he replied, with a hint of malevolence.

"All right. Suppose you succeed. What then?"

He knew what he wanted to hear.

"We can agree to disagree."

He drew a blank. Starscream loathed how Skyfire wanted everything spelled out.

"This war is a disaster. Cybertron is big enough for all of us".

Skyfire hesitated. He didn't trust him completely. Starscream grabbed his arm to emphasize his next point. He drew closer.

"In a time of war, you have to prepare for peace. Megatron doesn't want peace; his natural state of being is the war. He can't stand the thought of not having a war to fight. Take him out and the war is over."

Starscream saw Skyfire was still hesitant.

"We have to eliminate the obstacles. Megatron is the primary obstacle. Tell Elita to be on stand-by and make sure the Wreckers are in position. We're that close."

Skyfire decided to gamble. There was no going back.

"All right. I'll talk to her before the cycle is over. We'll wait for your signal".

Starscream relaxed and allowed himself to smile.