Disclaimer: I, in no way, shape, or form, own the Transformers© franchise or the characters it contains. All publicly recognizable characters are copyrighted to Hasbro, and the respective artists/writers/et cetera. No infringement intended.
Continuity: G1 (Generation One) cartoon-verse
Characters: Air Raid, Bombshell, Bonecrusher, Dirge, Fireflight, Frenzy, Hook, Ironhide, Kickback, Laserbeak, Long Haul, Megatron, Mirage, Mixmaster, Optimus Prime, Ramjet, Ravage, Rumble, Scavenger, Scrapper, Shockwave, Shrapnel, Sideswipe, Silverbolt, Skydive, Skywarp, Slingshot, Soundwave, Spike Witwicky, Starscream, Sunstreaker, Superion, Thrust, Thundercracker
Warnings: Mild violence
Summary: Screaming fits, backhanded comments, and multi-part, multi-participant brawls: these are just a slight few of the everyday hazards found in the Decepticon ranks. When a simple dispute escalates into an all-out hissy fit of Mega-proportions, you can expect the ramifications to be long reaching.
And probably explosive.
Author's Note: This is version 2.0 of an older fic. Updates likely to be slow, but then again, they always are. Criticism encouraged, technical points preferable. EDIT: Whoops, typo fixed.
Same Scrap, Different Day
So, it really hadn't gone all that well.
In truth, there had been little about the skirmish to differentiate it from any other. The Decepticons flooded in all half-cocked with some zany contraption at their back and the insipidly determined faces of their old foes at their front. Taunts had been exchanged, verbal sparring making that inexorable escalation into violence-by-rote with lots of fancy pyrotechnics that, in truth, did little damage to anybody's battle-graded armor. It, unfortunately, had been a long time since someone had gotten really good 'n' scrapped, which was probably due to a distinct lack of enthusiasm on the part of the Decepticons and the general horrific aim of both parties. Thundercracker honestly wondered for a long while if anyone was really trying anymore; he certainly wasn't, purposefully taking wide shots just for the amusement of watching the organ sack that served as the Autogeek squad's pet run in a mad little circle.
He'd had himself a good laugh at that, trying to hide his amusement under the lulling rhythm of Rumble and Frenzy's duet of petty slurs, and, overall, felt rather pleased with himself. He got to look intimidating like he was supposed to and shoot for something that wouldn't blast him back – a perfect plan, really, and one he should have implemented a long time ago. And it had worked rather well, he had thought, until his game was – inevitably – discovered.
Somehow, Megatron was less than amused by his wacky antics.
Tossing a flailing Autodweeb aside – Mirage, Thundercracker thought, though all Autoblunders tended to run together after a while – the commander indicated the distant seeker, gesticulating grandly to illustrate what dire threats he was no-doubt making. More than able to translate what such motions entailed, Thundercracker wasted no time in slinking away from the front lines, hunched down as far as he could to avoid the volleying blasts of laser fire emanating from either side of the combat zone.
So, he had been sent packing to the back lines, to guard the… well, he wasn't altogether certain of what it had been, but, hey, whatever. No paint off his hull, right? It was a doodad and it needed guarding. No point in getting into the technical scrap.
He got right down to business, settling into his most menacing 'I'd really rather be anywhere but here, please shoot me so I can limp away' look, and making a great show of trying not to be seen. Skywarp came ambling in shortly thereafter, sporting a proud splatter of scorch marks across his torso and a cocksure grin guaranteed to get his aft slagged.
Thundercracker had nodded graciously, allowing his wing mate to join him in his oh so temporary vacation. Share and share alike or something along those lines, and besides, he could have used some company as the scuffle dragged on into monotony.
Comfortable and well behind front lines, they had sat on the lip of the vast apparatus, patiently waiting for the battle to end so they could flee off into the distance and get back to their wacky on-base antics. Oh, yes, they had been more than prepared to puff up and rattle off a few scathing remarks and look real surly before turning tail and heading for the proverbial hills.
That was, after all, what always happened since they had crashed headfirst on this Pit-forsaken dirtball that deigned to call itself a planet. Much as his superior officers ignored it, morale had dropped right alongside their win count, and it was all Thundercracker could do to even get motivated enough to fly off to their inevitable defeats every other morning. But at least things were predictable, in an off-the-wall sort of way. In good time, it would be over, and they could run away and lick their wounds and, hey, if he played his cards right, he could even maybe skip out on his patrol circuit due to grievous injuries sustained in the name of the Glorious Decepticon Cause™.
Yeah, things would have gone swimmingly, if Starscream hadn't come prancing in like the stupid little dweeb that he was, and, like always, managed to frag things up something royal. He didn't even bother trying to hide what he was doing, strolling up pretty as you please to leer disturbingly at the unhealthily glowing stick of whatchamacallit they had procured to power the thingymajig. He tore off the outer plating with one good tug and carefully maneuvered one wing and one intake into the resulting breach. The surrounding machinery had sputtered alarmingly, little warning lights that nobody but the Constructicons understood flaring up to life and subsequently dying as something vital was disconnected. None of which were good signs, in Thundercracker's esteemed opinion. He had shifted uncomfortably, realizing his proximity and intended duty could, indeed, make him liable for any ensuing damage to the gizmo, and nudged Skywarp's elbow meaningfully, tilting his head to indicate what was visible of Starscream.
"Uh, Screamer," Skywarp called, rolling his optics and sidling a bit further away from the idiot they called Air Commander. "I don't think you should be doing that."
"'Thinking' is something I very much doubt you do," Starscream replied with his usual dose of graciousness and charm. Screws and bolts and little pieces of unknown machinery flew from where most of his torso had disappeared.
"Ditto, space-case," Skywarp replied mutinously, barely loud enough to be heard over the general clash and clatter of combat. Thundercracker chuckled appreciatively, before twisting about to squint back. "Uh, what are you doing?"
"Nothing that concerns you two incompetents," Screamer's screechy voice sounded oddly hollow, echoing out from somewhere deep within the thingamabob. He carefully backed out, cradling something shiny and probably radioactive close to his canopy. "Ha! With this in my arsenal, Megatron won't stand a chance against me," He carelessly tossed the radiant ore from hand to hand, more than a little smug with himself. "I will rule the Decepticons!"
"Uh-huh, sure, cause, y'know, that's what happens every time you say that," Thundercracker had snorted, feeling that, at some point, his day had taken a turn for the worse. Screamer was not what he needed at the moment. All he wanted was that sweet, sweet clarion call for retreat and they could just light out and just not get shot for one day.
"As if you understand such things," Starscream hissed, turning to primly swagger away.
"Whatever," Skywarp grunted. "Like we care anyways. Right, TC?"
"Aw, nuts and bolts," Grimacing despite himself, Thundercracker twisted around to glower spitefully after his wing leader, weighing the pros and cons of just letting him get his not-undeserving aft fried. Just as he began to open his mouth to tell Screamer to drop the glowy-bits and get lost because, predictable as sunrise, Megatron would show up at any moment to kick his sniveling aft to the far end of oblivion, hey, whaddya know?
Superion showed up.
Next thing Thundercracker knew, 'Warp had grabbed his wrist and got them both out of there, though with the unfortunate and unforeseen misfortune of appearing a few dozen meters further off the ground than what the teleporter had likely intended. The two had crashed down right on top of some Autobrat or another, and had probably missed some really good bits in the resulting tangle of confused limbs from around the something-or-rather.
By the time the dust had cleared and the Autochump had been disposed of, the actual battle was already over.
The respective forces had drawn off of one another, eyeing their counterparts with hefty doses of suspicion from where they had withdrawn to. Looming over all, Superion had stood with that dimwitted expression that graced every combiner's face when presented with a problem greater than 'smash that, would you?', the doohickey in one hand and a rather irate Starscream in the other.
Thundercracker had time to wonder distantly why his oh-so-beloved commander had not been smashed into oh-so-many beloved pieces when, like a herald of terrible gods, Megatron appeared at the top of the nearest convenient hill once more to negotiate in that special way of his.
"Prime!" The gunformer had roared thunderously, one foot securely placed on the head of the Autodorks' medic, a squirming squishy held in his up thrust right hand. "I believe an exchange is in order."
Optimus's optics had widened with that silly simpering look, and his yellow tagalong speed-bump of a minibot squealed like stripped fan belt. Megatron had their undivided attention immediately; all conspicuously blue optics were glued to the under-evolved primate despite the far graver predicament of their battered comrade. It was over like that; Optimus Prime had always been a simple thing when it came to hostage negotiation.
"Let them go, Megatron," Prime called, stupidly appealing to Megatron's renowned sense of mercy like he expected it to work. He held up one hand to forestall Superion's squeezing fingers from completing their happy task, and motioned for his tensing troops to stand back. From on high, Starscream hollered something unintelligible and probably derogatory at someone, struggling madly to wrench free of the brainless behemoth's clasp, evidently peeved that his plight was duly ignored by both sides.
"I believe you have something that belongs to me," Megatron had continued nonchalantly, grinding his heel into the medic's cranium with an audible crunch. The defining grey chevron snapped under the pressure, collapsing inward under the heel of the commander and scattering its little pieces all over the place. As one, the Autojerk's flinched, their faces screwing up in the most amusing ways. "I want the pan-dimensional amplifier returned to me. Immediately," The despot demanded gamely, evidently enjoying the contorted expressions of the assembled stooges as he set just a smidge more weight on the writhing medic's head, eliciting a distressed groan from his hostage. "And in perfect working order, if you want the same to be said of this scrap."
Nobody moved, waiting for him to finish. Even Starscream shut up to hear him out.
He paused, a fleeting look that might have been bemusement – more likely simple frustration – passing over his face. "It would be best for all involved for this to happen quickly," He tried, somehow trying to galvanize the exchange by lightly shaking the floppy organic in his hand. The waste of a monkey clunked its delicate head against the commander's fingers, crying out in surprised hurt, and still the expectant silence continued, unabated.
A few 'bots shifted uneasily.
Skywarp scratched absently at some annoyance lodged in his thigh.
Megatron seemed confused.
"Well?" He snapped, scanning the crowd for clues. Meaningfully – or simply by incidental happenstance, it was kind of difficult to tell – Soundwave inclined his head ever so slightly toward Superion.
Megatron glared at the tape-filled flunky for a few moments longer than necessary, and then proceeded to squint at the bamboozled gestalt, his mouth set in a decidedly unhappy line. And he stared. And stared yet some more. After an inordinate amount of heated glowering, a realization seemed to dawn on him, the lines that defined his universe again falling back into place.
The commander managed to convey a great sense of exasperation, grinding out, "… And Starscream too, I suppose." Like the words were so much than shrapnel in his fuel intake.
"You suppose? You suppose!?" Starscream had screeched, apparently no longer willing to bear the quietude and spare their audial sensors his caterwauling. On long-honed instinct, Thundercracker dampened his audios to near zero before the pitch really picked up, thus missing most of the no-doubt lurid rant, but bearing full witness to the convulsive thrashing, and the pinched look on many an imprudent 'bot's face.
Megatron countered with equal fervor, attempting to both jab an accusing finger in his second's direction and keep hold of his yowling organic captive at the same time, resulting in some probable spinal damage to the said squishy. Starscream delivered his repartee with great gusto, pulling out all the stops and really driving home the question burning in them of just why exactly he was allowed to live. Superion looked distinctly uncomfortable, pleadingly staring at a similarly discomfited Optimus Prime, just begging to be allowed to crush the shrieking thing in his hand and be done with it.
And through this all, nobody bothered to wonder where Mirage had wandered off to.
Thundercracker had just begun to weigh the chances of being able to sneak off unnoticed, when abruptly Soundwave pointed at Megatron, likely calling out some variant of: 'Megatron; look out' with that eerie, lifeless sort of tone that always took you a few moments to work out—
And Megatron disappeared.
Well, more precisely, most of him went tumbling helm-over-pedes down the lofty slope he had been shouting from, but the effect was the same. He went 'poof', gone, careening off his perch to slide most ignobly on his backside with a great spray of sand.
Save, of course, for the black fist, inexplicably cradled in empty air, still clenched tightly on the dazed fleshling's coat. A smirking Mirage appeared, coolly prying Megatron's unresponsive fingers free from the squishy and reaching down to help a slack-jawed Ratchet to his feet.
The maltreated medic had reached out desperately, caught hold of some freshly-revealed limb and hauled himself up, hobbling at – considering recent head trauma – a pretty good clip toward his comrades. The Autogoof ranks surged forward to envelope him, the Decepticons – not really sure if they should jump the fraggers or wait for Megatron to stop rolling before they acted – scooted away, letting the mud-grubbing Autoboobs transform and, to quote that annoying catch phrase, roll out.
Superion cast Starscream a vaguely disgusted look and flung him to the ground, where the Air Commander bounced entertainingly high and skidded right into a boulder, much to Thundercracker's amusement. Meanwhile, the hulking dullard had then seized the contested thingamabob in both gargantuan hands, and, with a frighteningly casual flex, snapped it in half, letting both ends tumble earthwards. He proceeded thereafter to stomp the sparking remains into oblivion, sneer at the gawking Decepticons, and split into his separate parts, each Aerialbot turning to hightail it after their fellows with a few choice slurs in farewell.
This was when a filthy – and rather less than amicable – Megatron made his triumphant return, clouds of dust trailing from his scowling mouth. Those thin lips pulled back in a snarl, and formed a word, a familiar sequence of motions that Thundercracker didn't need to hear to understand:
And suddenly, Thundercracker knew he wanted to hear this.
"—nce again, you've cost me my victory!"
The Air Commander had just managed to sit up, clutching his head in both hands in apparent pain. He groggily looked up, one optic flashing on and off uncertainly, and tried to focus on the massive silver blob storming its way toward him. "What?" He squawked, a few seconds before his muddled expression abruptly cleared, his ill-used processor catching on to his current predicament. "Wait, Megatron, it wasn't my fault! Thundercracker was supposed to watching the amplifier!" He pleaded unconvincingly, scooting back on his aft and trying (but failing) to put significant distance between them, to give himself room to get up and flee properly. But it was already too late. He managed to make a jumbled, indecipherable protest and then Megatron's hand was swooping down upon him like the talons of some vast and terrible hawk, ready to seize his throat and—
The socket where Megatron's wrist once rested clunked hollowly against Starscream's nose, the lip of the fusion canon tapping on his helm. Both seeker and commander paused, thrown for but a few precious moments by the conspicuous absence of strangling.
Starscream drew off slightly, squinting quizzically at the shorn wires and buckled metal before he raised his optics to Megatron's own, and beyond him, back to the hillock where Megatron's missing limb still rested, innocently discarded to the dusty earth. His lips quirked slightly, and his head tilted askance, almost questioningly.
He then did something extraordinarily stupid, even for someone with a record of general idiocy as long as Starscream's.
He couldn't seem to help himself, cackling hard enough to send himself rocking in jerking little zig-zags, despite the way Megatron's expression slowly fell, crumbling in on itself like a collapsing star caught in a black hole. The gathered Decepticons were silent, shocked beyond all sense of reason and to a one convinced something vital had been jarred loose in the Air Commander's noggin. They began to discreetly back away, sensibly allowing the inevitable explosion ample room to go off in.
It looked like it could even get somewhat serious. Megatron was not happy.
This was a sentiment he most eloquently expressed to his second, through a series of fusion canon blasts.
One moment the overclocked glitch had been helplessly giggling, and the next, he was laying flat on his back in a crater, thoroughly covered in soot and smoking. Megatron snarled what was likely meant to be words, and stalked away, heading for his annexed limb and some measure of dignity. Behind him, Starscream rolled onto his hands and knees, fumbling for the lip of the depression to haul himself up. Wobbling, he at last managed to stand, glaring off after Megatron's back, intakes sputtering slightly.
The commander had just crested his hill again, stooping to gather his hand up—
And, once more, he was sent rolling with a shot right to the aft.
"You failed on your own, Megatron!" Starscream screeched while he still had opportunity to function, evidently having lost most of what little was left of his cognitive functions some while back. "Like you always fail. I wouldn't let myself be so distracted by one little fleshling!" It wasn't until a few, long moments after this declaration was uttered that what the glitch had just done began to sink in. Losing his confidence at a prodigious rate, Starscream, uncertainly, queried, "Megatron?" and took one hesitant step back, then another.
There was an ominous silence on the other side of the hill, as the fresh clouds of dust began to settle.
Again, Skywarp scratched at whatever had managed to work its way into his hip.
After that, things got… a little blurry.
Megatron had popped up once more, like a bad case of rust, incredulity written all over his face. Thundercracker was never altogether clear on what had happened afterward, and he was fairly certain Starscream didn't really know either. There was a great deal of pointless supplications, and a great deal more of hitting and shooting. It looked like Megatron was out to kill. And likely he had been, initially. In the end however, it went as it always did; Megatron didn't follow through with his intent, appearing to lose interest all at once and simply dropping the thoroughly scrapped Air Commander back to the ground. "Decepticons, withdraw," He declared, kicking Starscream's side once more for good measure, and took off without further instructions.
Thoughtfully, Soundwave sent Laserbeak to retrieve a, once more, unsteady Starscream, and followed his leader's example, sparing not a glance for the assembled ranks of silent 'cons.
The rest of the troops, in no great rush to catch up with their commander, milled about briefly before they collectively lifted off to trail after their officers, ignoring the static-complaints of one straggling Cassetticon.
So, yeah, things hadn't gone too well.
But, then again, when did they?