A/N: This is it!! The FINAL chapter!
Thankyou readers for all your support, favs, kind reviews and just for reading this. I have had a lot of fun writing this and I hope you've enjoyed reading it.
Now please resist the urge to brick me to death when you reach the end. ^__^
With thanks to my betas Antepathy and Toyzintheattic for reading over this and celebrating the end with me!!
Chapter 17 - Damage Control
cycle = hour
Megatron stood, for once on the sidelines, watching the battle unfold before him. Cybertronian versus Cybertronian. Their epic war finally coming to a head on the pitiful, dusty planet Earth. The Decepticon leader refused to allow himself any gratification for how events were turning out. He'd been on the verge of victory too many times only to have it snatched from his grasp, to be able to truly enjoy the moment. It wasn't over until it was over.
His red optics narrowed as the three seekers flew overhead, they had strict orders to remain out of the main fight, they were to serve as a distraction only. Once explained to him, Starscream had yielded his position and had obeyed the orders readily. He wanted this to be over just as much as the rest of them did. Megatron cast his optics around the carnage below him, would any of them truly come to terms with victory? They had been fighting so long; peace almost seemed an unnatural, alien concept.
Pulling himself out of his deep reverie Megatron activated his comm.
//Starscream, Soundwave is in position, the Constructicons have managed to trap Prime and his grunt in the valley, you are clear to herd the Aerial bots to their position, make sure they are grounded.//
//Understood Lord Megatron.//
Megatron glanced up into the dark, moody sky as the trine did another loop of the battle itself, before dive bombing at break neck speeds. Megatron smirked as the Autobots on the ground scattered and threw themselves out of the way and there they were. Prime's supposed surprise attack. The Aerial bots appeared seemingly out of nowhere, shooting from the cloud created by Smokescreen. Megatron had known of this tactic. It had been used before and thanks to their fortunate link with the Autobot tactician; most of their battle tactics previous and otherwise were now revealed to them. Megatron thanked Primus for Autobot predictability.
It had taken a significant degree of planning, to counter every possible tactic the Autobots might use in such a situation, but they had managed it with clear, direct attacks at key Autobots in key positions. Their defenses had begun to crumble not long after they had clashed.
Megatron had stayed out of the fight, he had been the lure to get Prime trapped in the valley but he had refused to fight him. There was too much at stake to risk deviation from his plans, no matter how tempting it was to smash the Autobot leader's face into the ground. Besides the Constructicons were doing a rather impressive job of stone walling Prime and Ironhide within the valley. None of them directly attacking, simply using the rocks and environment around them to keep them from the main skirmish.
Megatron had, after baiting Prime, returned to the main battle. Maintaining his vantage point on the high ledge above them, he kept in constant communication with each of his teams. Directly below him the Stunticons were making a meal out of the Autobot grounders, Sideswipe was pinned down behind a rock face by Dead End and Breakdown, the arrogant Autobot had paid for his daring attack on Motormaster and was now vulnerable. His red chassis was leaking energon, his right arm was dislocated and he couldn't get a clear shot. Megatron watched as the red bot's notably more vicious twin joined the fray. He managed to take Dead End unawares with a right hook to his helm before landing a clean shot at Breakdown. As instructed the Decepticons fell back, maintained their defenses. Sunstreaker seeing this as a victory guided the field medic to his brother. Megatron hummed to himself.
//Motormaster, split up the brothers, take the golden one. Dead End, Breakdown target their medic, he's no fighter.//
Megatron felt great satisfaction as his orders were carried out, Sunstreaker was no match for Motor master and the impudent foul mouthed Autobot fell and fell hard, energon spilling from his open chest wound. Turning his attentions to the rest of the battle Megatron couldn't help but smirk. The Autobots were separated and being targeted individually by Onslaught's team, for once working smoothly as a unit, never allowing the Autobots to re-group and gather their forces, nor were they allowed to retreat.
Hound managed to get clear of Swindle and went straight for Onslaught, taking him down in a flurry of limbs and dust. Vortex leapt into action, he mowed down Tracks and Blaster, directing Brawl and Blast off to attack Wheeljack and Perceptor who were launching makeshift explosives in his direction. He plucked Hound from his team leader and soared into the air, before letting the Autobot drop from his high altitude, smashing directly onto Smokescreen and Bluestreak with a sickening crunch.
"Three for three!" The 'copter bellowed as he swooped back down to join his team, Megatron let out a deep chuckle, the battle was going well.
Megatron watched as another Autobot was brought down and incapacitated, he recognised him as Red Alert, one 'bot saw him drop and let out an angry roar.
//Blitzwing, Astrotrain; Inferno has your location, leave Red Alert he's not getting up, take Inferno out and help Onslaught's team take out the engineer and the scientist.//
Another advantage of the spark link; they knew most of the Autobot's individual weaknesses. To be more accurate, Megatron now knew everything that the Autobot SIC knew about each Autobot and he was wasting no time in relaying this information to his Decepticons as they fought.
The Decepticon leader observed a small team breaking off from the main skirmish, he smirked slyly. They were coming for him. About time to. Megatron had wondered how long it would take for the Autobots to act under their own initiative once their Prime was taken out of the picture. He let out a low growl when he saw who was leading the small special ops team. His pet was returning to him, how tragic that he had no idea that Megatron had planned for this all along, just like he had planned for everything else.
//Soundwave, you are clear, infiltrate.//
Megatron waited feigning ignorance upon the approaching Autobot team that had circled around to his rear. Lull them into a false sense of security and then crush them.
//Bumblebee, circle round t' my right flank, Mirage stay cloaked you're on the left. On my mark we take Megatron got it?//
//What about Prime's orders?// Bumblebee cast a nervous look toward Jazz.
//Trust me Bee alright.// Jazz replied. He led the way around the base of the ledge; Megatron at its apex still hadn't seen them and was completely focused on the battle raging before him.
Prime, we're going after him now. Can you hold out?
We should be ok for the moment… frag… the Aerialbots are down… hurry Jazz, take him out now while we still can!
Prowl can you hear me?
I'm here Jazz.
How's the base lookin'?
Still quiet here, Ratchet and Cliffjumper are getting agitated; Grimlock is also not one for waiting patiently.
We're almost in position, should be over soon, how are you feeling? Jazz's question was heavy with concern, with worry for his bond mate. The three of them had finally managed to sit and talk things through merely cycles earlier. Further affirmation of their feelings and of their bond had been halted by the perimeter alert sounding the attack.
Prowl could sense his irritation at the interruption and felt his concern laced with affection. Prowl couldn't let it get to him, he was still raw, still anxious about his bond. Less so than before but the fear of failing his bond mates was now more prominent than ever. Not now Jazz, concentrate…
The bond fell silent. Jazz frowned before an overwhelming sense of anger and surprise hit his processor. Prowl's consciousness was a mere whisper in his cortex.
Something has happened… The base has been… Oh no… Jazz…
Jazz stopped suddenly a frown on his face, he could feel panic but not like before. Something else. Something far more sinister and worrying emanating from Prowl's side of the bond. He cast a look back in the direction of the base.
Prowl can you hear me what's happened?
He swore under his breath, glancing back up at Megatron. He had two choices, continue ahead or help those at the base.
Prime I think the base is compromised!
I know I felt it too. Stick to the mission Jazz, the others can take care of it.
Taking deep intakes, Jazz forced his worry to the back of his mind and pushed himself forward. He crept silently over the back end of the ledge, Megatron was almost within reach. Lifting his rifle Jazz aimed a shot.
//Ready, Mirage? Bee?//
//On your mark.//
Jazz took aim and let the shot ring out. It hit dead on target but something wasn't right. Jazz frowned, Megatron hadn't moved. He quietly shifted from his position, when the form of Megatron shimmered and disappeared.
"What the frag?!" Jazz exclaimed in growing dread.
//Fall back, fall back! It's a decoy, fall back!//
Jazz turned around frantically, coming face to face with a smug looking Megatron.
"Well hello Pet, glad you could join us."
"Oh we wanted to give you a proper reception." Starscream drawled from behind him having landed with such stealth, it would have impressed a ninja.
Jazz clenched his jaw and went to raise his weapon. He wasn't fast enough for Megatron and found himself lifted off the ground by his throat, the rifle clattering uselessly to the ground.
"Now that is not an appropriate way to greet your master." Megatron snarled before smashing Jazz into the ground with enough force to knock him unconscious.
Starscream gave his leader a sidelong look. "We have Prime pinned down, he's not going anywhere."
"Good work Starscream." He smiled at his SIC. "Take the seekers; help Soundwave at the Autobot base. I want it under our control."
"Consider it done." Starscream kicked off the ground and transformed, accelerating into the air with a grace that Megatron never failed to notice Starscream displayed when victory was within his grasp.
Casting his attentions back down to the still raging battle. "Decepticons! Finish it!"
The chaos below him escalated exponentially, his mechs were merciless in their attacks, having been on the defensive for the majority of the battle, they now had a lot more energy than their now near exhausted adversaries. Megatron relished the cries of defeat from each downed Autobot, energon spilling onto the desert from calculated strikes.
3 Cycles later
Megatron walked amongst his mechs, they were injured, tired but mostly intact. He came to a stop at the group of Autobot prisoners, huddled on the dusty ground, all of them shackled together with energon cuffs Even the ones too injured to move. The Decepticons were taking no chances.
"Decepticons herd them to the valley to join their exalted leader."
He led the way to the nearby valley. The Constructicons were taking pot shots at the group of trapped Autobots, the Aerial bots had been grounded some of them seemingly by force. Wings torn, some missing. Ironhide and Prime tried to protect them from the shots raining on them from above, but had taken too many hits themselves to be of much use.
Ironhide glared angrily at the 'cons surrounding them and gasped softly when he caught sight of Megatron hauling Jazz towards them. He growled and felt a stab of anguish for the visored mech as Megatron dumped the now conscious and bound Jazz at his feet and idly stroked his helm. "Take them to their leader." Megatron smiled darkly.
The Autobots were forced together and were now surrounded and outnumbered by the Decepticon army.
"You have lost. Surrender Prime and I will let you all live." He cast a look around the valley at each of his mechs now in position for a killing shot. "Defy me and fall anyway."
"You'll not get away with this you slagger! We have reinforcements on the way!" Sunstreaker yelled, aggravating his patched up chest wound as he struggled against his brother holding him back.
Megatron let out a cold laugh, prompting the rest of the 'cons to laugh with him. "Oh I am afraid that it is too late for your friends at the base. You see we had help in defeating you today. Your base belongs to me and soon enough Cybertron will be among the spoils of victory."
To emphasise his point Starscream and his trine landed lightly beside him and flung the injured frames of Ratchet and Cliffjumper at his feet.
"The Dinobots?" Megatron asked casually.
"Offline." Starscream sneered at the Autobots who murmured in fear and dread.
He narrowed his red optics. "You have all been betrayed by those closest to you." He glanced up at Soundwave who activated his holo-projection and pre-recording.
The Autobots watched with horror and disbelief as the data track showed them images of Prowl and Jazz's collaboration with the Decepticons during their capture. The Autobots learned about Prowl's link to Thundercracker and bore witness to Jazz's time in captivity which had been filmed without his knowledge. His desperate wish for the battles against the Autobots to go in Megatron's favour. Their more amiable discussions that Megatron had enjoyed from time to time clearly visible for all of the Autobots to see, all they could do was stare in horror.
"Jazz... you wanted us to lose?" Sideswipe stared at his friend in disbelief his desperate, pained expression imploring with him to deny it, to say it wasn't so.
Jazz's temper flared and he launched himself at Megatron, who batted him away as a nuisance. The visored mech was grabbed and held firmly by Skywarp.
"You lying slagger… none of that is true… it didn't happen like that!!"
"Looks pretty damning to me Jazz." Tracks snarled.
"Is your processor defective!" Sunstreaker squared up to Tracks angrily. "Jazz isn't a traitor!"
"But what about the spark link with Prowl?" Perceptor spoke up quietly his confused and hurt gaze falling onto Prime and Ratchet. "You can't fake that..."
Megatron stepped closer to the quarrelling Autobots, raising his voice enough to get their attention. "What's worse is your beloved leader knew all about his Second in Command's betrayal and kept it from you." Megatron ignored the frantic snarls of rage from Jazz as he struggled against his captor.
The image flickered to the med bay, Optimus and Ratchet discussing Prowl's link. Optimus agreeing to keep it quiet.
The Autobots gasped and shook their heads, their confidence was shaken. They had been beaten in battle with relative ease, almost as if the Decepticons knew all of their moves, their tactics only to have it confirmed as fact, the Decepticons did know every single one of their weaknesses. They hadn't stood a chance.
"You knew and you still led us out to fight?!" Hound in his anger went for his leader.
"Mind your place Hound, Prime wouldn't have gone to battle if it were a lost cause, so just sit your aft and calm the slag down before ya make things worse." Ironhide held onto Hound tightly, meeting his angry glare.
"But you were right 'Hide, Prowl betrayed us he told them everything! How could it get any worse?!"
"He wasn't given a choice!" Ratchet snapped angrily, silencing the dissention of Hound who sank to the ground in despair. The rest of the Autobots looked to Ratchet who glared back at them. "They forced it on him!" The medic whirled to face the approaching Megatron, ignoring the gasps of disbelief and shock from his fellow captives. "They raped him and Jazz. Can't you all see he wants us to fight each other!?"
"Oh enough of the melodramatics Doctor." Starscream smirked darkly. "You've lost at least accept it graciously."
The Decepticons sniggered with Starscream eliciting a guttural snarl from the medic and a much louder cry of rage from the still restrained Jazz.
Optics flashed between Optimus and Megatron, doubt and mistrust crept into their quiet murmurs. Smokescreen stepped forward meekly, not wanting to believe the evidence before him. "Prime… is it true, did Prowl betray us or ...?"
"Of course it's true!" Megatron interrupted. "Why else would your SIC flee?"
"He's gone?" Bluestreak exclaimed with wide optics.
"If he were a traitor Megatron, wouldn't he have simply joined your side?" Optimus countered darkly. "I am willing to bet that not even you knows where he is."
"Doesn't change the facts Prime." Megatron smiled, turning back to the rest of the Autobots. "Now if you cooperate, you will be treated hospitably. If not you will be imprisoned with your Prime and his senior officers indefinitely. Which is it to be?"
The Autobots shifted uncomfortably, their trust was shaken but not yet broken.
"So be it." Megatron waved dismissively. "Decepticons take them back to our new base. Separate Prime from the rest. I have further use for him."
Megatron glared at his SIC. //Where is the tactician?//
//I don't know, we detected him at the base but he just disappeared we can't track his spark energy signal anywhere… he must be offline.//
//Unacceptable. Get back to the base and find him.//
Starscream gave a curt nod and shot off into the sky with Skywarp and Thundercracker in tow. Megatron hoisted Jazz off the ground. "You will stay with me. Where I can keep you out of trouble."
"Go slag yerself." Jazz growled, earning himself a hard slap across his face.
"Oh Autobot, we are going to have plenty of time to get to know each other again. You will learn respect."
Megatron led the way back to the conquered Autobot base, dragging Jazz with him. The rest of the Autobots were put into energon cuffs which allowed enough movement for walking and were herded back to the Ark. Their departure was watched from a high vantage point. Mirage de-cloaked both him and Bumblebee and sank down on his aft. "Slag, this is not good."
Bumblebee glanced at him optics wide with fear. "What do we do?"
Mirage shuttered his optics in an attempt to quash the feeling of panic rising in his systems. "I don't know Bee, I really don't know."
A/N: *quiet voice* tbc. Keep a look out for the title: 'Shades of Grey.' Will be posted when Shattered Glass has been or is close to being completed, which is while yet I'm happy to say. Thank you for reading and I hope you join me for the sequel. ^____^