Author's note: In the old radio show, after whaling on the crook of the week, one of the Shadow's catch phrases was: "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit." Whatever comes from the weed of intergalactic warfare has to be a lot worse. This is the first thing I've written from the Transformers Animated universe. I hope you like it. I try to write about the good guys sometimes, but the bad ones are just so much more fun for me. By all means feel free to comment. I may not always reply to them, but I really do appreciate them. Transformers belongs to Hasbro and Takara, but not me.

Bitter Fruit
By: Quetzal1

xxxxx

Eventually he would figure out what to do, of that he was certain. And woe be unto the Autobots when he did. This was not over. As long as he remained functioning the war would continue.

Wondering how it all went so terribly wrong and what to do next was keeping Megatron from thinking about more immediate concerns such as how much pain he was in… and the humiliation of it all. He was damaged nearly to the point of deactivation. Everything hurt, from surface panels to his subframe, though perhaps an infinitesimal amount less than earlier. Optimus Prime had refused to finish off the Decepticon leader when he had the chance. Instead the fool spouted some nonsense about Megatron being undeserving of the easy way out. That had been a huge mistake on the Autobot's part. So fixated were they on their notions of justice that they even refused to let him die on his own.

xxxx

Earlier he had been on the verge of deactivating as he stood confined in his cell. A damaged energon line had finally ruptured and the mech didn't see any point in mentioning it. His systems flashed warnings but they went unheeded. His vision was starting to fail and he hurt much less. It wasn't that bad. One of two things would happen: the world would fade into nothing and that would be it, or, he would find himself in the Well of All Sparks. Either way, it would deprive his captors of their fun.

More warnings danced in the periphery of his failing vision. He was tired, so very tired, and the idea of death was much more preferable compared to what was awaiting him on Cybertron. No one, except for Lugnut and perhaps Shockwave would miss him. Their fates would remain the same regardless of what happened to their leader, not that he really cared. As he stood there, his bonds keeping him in an upright position, he heard something but couldn't quite make it out at first. It sounded far away and muffled. Finally he was able to determine that it was that big, dumb Autobot calling for help. What was his name? Oh yes, Bulkhead. Evidently he had spotted the leaking energon and surmised what was happening. So what? By the time they did anything it would be too late. Sounds grew fainter but he heard other voices getting closer. He felt the world quickly tilt beneath him and that was all…until later.

"Watch out Ratchet, I think he's coming out of it," a voice said. Megatron knew that voice. It was the odd little human insect child that belonged to Dr. Sumdac. He didn't recall the name. His optics hadn't come back on line yet and he couldn't move to attack but the child had alerted him to the presence of at least one Autobot.

"Oh yeah? Good. I'd hate for him not to feel this," the medic said, and then there was a loud clicking noise and the worst pain yet raced throughout Megatron's chassis as his systems were reconnected. The Decepticon roared in pain, unable to help it. His optics came back on and he saw, much to his dismay, that his hands were still bound in the stasis cuffs and the rest of him was secured to the contraption that enabled them to move him around without allowing any chance of escape. He watched as Ratchet replaced a panel and welded it into place.

"How dare you!" Megatron snarled. "Get your filthy, wretched Autobot hands out of my components!"

"There's Decepticon gratitude for ya," Ratchet said, not bothering to look up from his work until he was finished. "You heard what Prime said. We've got to keep you alive so you can get everything that's coming to you on Cybertron"

"Spare me your self righteous blather."

"Yep. Mine won't be the only filthy, wretched Autobot hands on you, friend. No way. We'll have to get you all fixed up before you take your punishment." Ratchet continued as if Megatron had said nothing. "There'll be a trial but there's no way you won't be found guilty. What I wonder about is what they'll do to you. Will they lock you up for the rest of your days? Will they deactivate you?"

Megatron stared at him but said nothing. He wasn't afraid of deactivation. He'd been prepared to face it three times in this day alone.

"Hey, maybe they'll try rehabilitation," Ratchet said, cheerfully. "All it would take is wiping your memory banks and reprogramming your CPU. Then you'd be useful instead of rusting away in prison. They could find you a job like being a valet to Ultra Magnus or something." The medic was lying about that part of course, but he was fairly sure he saw the Decepticon flinch at the idea. After what poor Arcee had been through, it would have been fitting but Autobots didn't engage in cruel and unusual punishment. Besides, everyone would want this slagger to know exactly what was happening to him.

"Anyway, you ought to survive the rest of the trip just fine," Ratchet said, roughly adjusting the containment device so that the prisoner was standing upright again. The human was openly staring at him, prompting Megatron to sneer down at her and strain weakly against his bonds, though it only made him hurt more. She hurriedly followed the Autobot out of his cell casting a nervous glance over her shoulder as she went. That he could still strike fear into the heart of someone buoyed his spirit, but only a little.

xxxx

Now he was alone in his temporary prison, save for Bulkhead, who was keeping a close optic on him from the other side of the force field. He didn't want to think about it but that accursed Ratchet had planted the idea. What was likely to happen to him? Naturally there would be a trial with all the pomp and congratulatory fanfare. It was only a formality. Once they put on a display for the citizenry to show how fair and morally superior they were, he would be found guilty. But then what? Megatron was almost certain they wouldn't deactivate him. No. In their mindset that would make them no better than him, and they had to be sure they proved just the opposite.

They could put him in permanent stasis, but what would be the point if he was to be held indefinitely? Why not go with deactivation? They definitely wouldn't allow him on any kind of work detail. Not for an extremely long time if ever. And as initially unsettling as the idea was, he was reasonably confident they wouldn't reprogram him. The fact that even he found the idea disturbing was enough proof they wouldn't do it. It would undoubtedly be the third option. He'd be left to rust in a maximum security prison cell somewhere beneath the surface of Cybertron.

The mech shifted his weight a bit and tried to get more comfortable. The stasis cuffs made it extremely difficult to move. They must have set the strength downward because of his injuries, because usually they rendered motion impossible. He was definitely feeling less pain. Hmmm…the emergency repairs must have kick started his automatic internal diagnostic and restoration system. That was good, however he wouldn't let anyone know about it. Finding the positives in this current state of affairs would be a wise course of action. He had been in dire situations before and came out on top. Occasionally it helped to engage in an activity while one let their processors wander.

The Decepticon took in his surroundings. The walls were smooth, seamless metal except for the side facing the hallway, which was blocked by a force field. If Lugnut and Shockwave were nearby he didn't see or hear any sign of them. That left only the Autobot for distraction. Megatron fixed Bulkhead with a withering stare and did not deviate from it. It took the buffoon a moment or two to realize what was happening but he finally caught on.

"What?" Bulkhead asked. Why was that creep looking at him so hard?

Megatron said nothing but continued to stare as he searched for any high points in his situation. For a start, he had his body, such as it was, instead of being scattered around a lab in pieces. That was good. He was stripped of weapons but if he weren't bound he wouldn't need one. Someone would learn this the hard way in due course. They would have to remove the stasis cuffs for one reason or another and when they did would regain his strength entirely. He didn't need weapons to destroy an opponent, but he did need his swords if he were to transform. As it was he would be without rotors. But then they might remove his transformation cog all together. And certainly they would disable the systems that allowed for flight in his robot mode. The mere idea that he was so at their mercy made him angry all over again. They could do whatever they wanted to him and he was powerless to stop it. His gaze bored into Bulkhead with more intensity and he saw with grim satisfaction the big Autobot squirm uncomfortably.

Unfocused rage was no good. He needed to calm himself. Alright, fine. He had his body, what else? There were other Decepticons besides himself. If they had any sense, their enemy would keep them all isolated from one another. If he had to act alone, it would be extremely difficult and would take much longer. Ah, but they hadn't captured all his troops. Blackarachnia was still out there somewhere, but she'd been missing for quite a while and he would be insane to put much hope at all in her. Might as well expect one of Starscream's clones to save him. Lockdown was a slightly better possibility, but Megatron had nothing to offer the bounty hunter who was motivated only by self interest. Constructicons weren't bright enough to get the job done and their loyalty was questionable. The strongest contenders were Strika and her team. Sooner or later she would learn of their fates. And Lugnut was her consort. She would come for him if no one else and once Lugnut was free, he would not rest until Megatron was freed as well. That particular thought cheered him. However, he couldn't wait around for this to happen. He would need to actively work at his own plan. First though, he had to think of one.

These idiots thought they had beaten him. As long as he functioned he would resist…but they didn't have to know that. If he played the part effectively, it might be possible to lull them to complacency that much more quickly. He could totally withdraw, pretend to be defeated in body and mind and then cooperate to a certain extent and not cause any trouble. The less bother he was, the less they would notice him. Given long enough, a lot of them would forget just how deadly he truly was. There was no reason why a lesser being wouldn't behave that way. He, however, was not a lesser being and they would learn this in the most brutal way possible in the end. Many of the Autobots had no first hand dealings with him and a great number of them were young. The arrogance of youth was easy to exploit. It caused carelessness and overconfidence. Those two things together often led to big mistakes. The key would be to recognize that mistake when it happened and then act upon it.

A faint shudder ran through the ship (in actuality Omega Supreme,) signifying the descent to Cybertron was underway.

"What are you doing with that?" Bulkhead asked, happy for company and distracting Megatron from his reverie.

"Pretty spiffy, don't you think? Bumblebee asked as he came into Megatron's view. The tyrant fought hard to keep his expression impassive. The Autobot was carrying his smashed fusion cannon on one shoulder and attempting to strike a few awkward poses like it was a permanently mounted weapon.

"You'd better be careful with that thing," Bulkhead said. Even broken it was a sinister looking device. Sort of like its original owner.

"What are you worried about?" A new voice asked. It was one of the Autobot Elite Guard: Jazz.

"Nothin' I guess. But where are you guys takin' all that stuff?"

Jazz was pushing a cart that held both of Megatron's swords/rotors. The blades were longer than he was tall. "We're just putting them with the rest of the cargo that's getting offloaded."

Still very much upset over the death of Prowl, Jazz couldn't resist taking a small measure of comfort in taunting the cause of it all. "Besides, it's not like you'll need them where you're going," he said to Megatron.

If he wanted to provoke a response he was going to have to do better than that. The tyrant only stared at him. His outward appearance was calm but on the inside he would have liked nothing better than to grab that ridiculous yellow 'bot, rip his head off and then beat the other two to death with the carcass. But again, he must keep his temper in check. He was not in a position to provoke them.

"What's the matter? You got nothing to say for yourself?" Jazz asked, becoming angry at the perceived disdain being shown him. He glared up at the prisoner and then visibly relaxed. "That's okay. You're going to get everything you deserve," he said, more to calm himself than anything else, before going back to his task.

That's right, Autobot. And whatever I receive I intend to repay with interest, Megatron thought. They might have his swords and his ruined cannon, but he remained in full control of his deadliest weapon: his mind.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The reentry and landing on Cybertron took a while longer. In the meantime, Megatron had gone back to his game of staring at Bulkhead. The big Autobot tried to remain nonchalant by stubbornly refusing to make optic contact, but relief was unmistakable on his faceplate when Jazz returned with Optimus Prime.

"We're here. It's time to go face your adoring fans, Megatron," Optimus said with obvious sarcasm. The tyrant noticed that the Autobot was wearing the Allspark on a chain around his neck. Oh how he would have loved to strangle him with it. Instead, Optimus received only more of what Bulkhead had been getting. None of them bothered with trying to needle him further. Instead they pushed him down a corridor in the same direction they had taken the weapons earlier. Despite being bound to the carrier and wearing stasis cuffs on top of his damaged condition, Jazz and Bulkhead kept their weapons at the ready. It wasn't a long trip. The cargo bay was brightly lit and Megatron saw he wouldn't be alone in whatever happened next. Lugnut and Shockwave were already there being guarded by the yellow bot, Ratchet, and the human. Both mechs were damaged and wearing stasis cuffs. They were in no condition to try anything. He also noticed a few of the protoforms in addition to the shell of that stupidly heroic Prowl were there. The Decepticon did not believe in self sacrifice. Why bother if you wouldn't be around to enjoy the benefits of your work? In any case it was one less enemy he would have to deal with.

Megatron was kept slightly apart from his minions. Optimus stood in front and the others, except for the human, went back to attend to the sarcophagus of their fallen comrade. Prowl would not be put off the ship like mere cargo. He would be carried like the hero he was. Slowly the door at the side of the cargo bay rose and then they were being conveyed downward toward the gathered crowd. It looked like the entire population of the planet had turned out. The roar of the cheering crowd was nearly deafening.

Did they intend to parade him and the others before the rabble like some kind of cheap prize? To let them mock and taunt and make this humiliation that much worse? Fine. Let them. He would not bow before these commoners. He would not ask their forgiveness nor plead for mercy. They would all suffer in the most horrible fashion he could devise when his time came again. He would scour each and every one of them from the planet. The mech lifted his head a little higher and stared at the crowd spitefully, as if trying to set it afire through the force of his gaze. He was Lord Megatron, leader of the Decepticons, and though he was down now, he would rise up again.