A/N: I have never transitioned well between characters, my thought processes and writing styles are as stubborn, unmoving and pervasive as my moral code and eccentricities. Also, my thanks to the reviewer who corrected my earlier mistakes concerning the Stunticons and Combaticons. I always get them mixed up; I'll have to go back and figure that cluster-frack out someday. Also, as far as the numbers are concerned, do you try a general for the people he kills personally or all the people he forced his men to kill as well? We all think of the excuse of following orders as a cowards way out but the thing no one tells you about is the price of saying no and standing up for yourself when it's all just called insubordination and treason. I know little of Cybertron but I do believe that such an advanced species is capable of spreading and multiplying beyond the limitations of it's native environment in many ways. Plus I have this silly habit of dialing everything up to eleven. This chapter was inspired by the movie "Pontypool" and it's use of words as a vector for viruses.
( A small challenge to expand on this story for those looking for trouble: we all know that in war it is a good idea to keep intelligence records on the enemy. I wonder what the Autobots might have on Starscream and what would happen if Skyfire found it.)
3rd chapter of "Seven".
Question: How do you stop a fusion reaction?
Answer: You don't.
Have you ever thought of a word, any word be it simple or complex, until for some reason it just didn't make sense anymore? It could be a word you used everyday or a word written across the bricks of a building or something you remembered but after a time it just falls apart until the very sound of it in your mind becomes alien and even it's meaning becomes nonsense.
This had always been his second's nature; convoluted, paranoid and stubborn to a fault; a word that didn't make sense anymore and just kept looping around the mind until you doubted the world.
People often wondered how he managed his second, despite the perverse nature of his processor function and just how deeply it ran. Starscreams mind was constantly working, constantly unraveling things, even itself. Truth be told, after a good de-fragging he was, at his most basic level, surprisingly sane. It just took a lot of cautious handling and several supercomputers to get him there. He was used to the routine.
The Decepticons as a whole were an impromptu faction of dissidents, the unwanted of society, made to work and created to die by and for the opulence of the council and the upper class. As a result of the mass production and special requests to manufacturers the majority of mechs under their banner were perpetually broke ne'er do wells riddled with glitches and sick of trying to survive starvation wages and unhealthy work hours and dangerous environments. They never had the money or permission for education or self advancement; meaning that they did not have the intellectual resources of the upper caste Autobots who could both afford it and be allowed it. Megatron had seen his own men drop dead from curable diseases and crippled by repairable damage. He had no doubt that Starscreams ailments could be cured or even all together erased but Decepticons did not have that luxury. It was one of the last remaining betrayals of the 'Golden Age' and the Allspark and it was still killing his men; it infuriated him.
Knowledge is power and ever did the Autobot council hoard it's power.
Functionalists dictated a mechs life by his frame and sponsor, just who had the right to know and do what and the few who profited loved it, enforced it and lifted their perch higher and higher on the backs of the masses; after all they were made for that purpose by the Allspark. This is what made Starscream so valuable; he was one of the few mechs who broke all the rules time and again and got away with it. He was born, not created or commissioned, he was not constrained by rules as he lived in Koan and in Koan there were no rules. He did not follow a military career despite being a military build and despite powerful social pressures, he became a scientist. He did not copy information to himself as dictated, he consumed it and mastered it and went looking for more in any way he could get it. Simply put, unforeseen circumstances conspired for the natural birth and development of a mech with the frame of a military build and the processor of an advanced scientist build in a process completely free of the artificial interference of the ruling caste despite it's best efforts to eliminate such a possibility. Yet still, he was a flawed mech at code. As far as Megatron was concerned it was all further proof that Unicron must have played some role in the mechs creation and was out there somewhere laughing his godly aft off. When mechs called that seeker a pitspawn most of them meant it.
One might accuse Megatron of uncalled for violence and brutishness where his second was concerned. Slag them, they didn't know Starscream like he did. They didn't know that complex heaving processor filled to the brim with burning and turning until the time came when violence was the only thing it understood. Which is why violence was usually his first response; a sharp pain to clear the mind and generate focus. The act bred understanding in what was left of that one sane creature buried under mountains of fragmented twisted data. Hate and pain created clarity, rage sharpening it to a laser intensity like the sharpness of that final killing blow. Time and again he would state his position over the mech. I am here. I see you. I hear you. I will hold you to your word, your position, and when the time comes I will bring the final end for you. He could judge the level of processor degradation in his second by the response alone. The fervor in his begging, the incoherency of his rage and the calling of the void hidden behind too bright optics. The void that once sought to fill itself with knowledge and now tries to drown itself in blood. Megatron could find out all he needed to understand his second's mental state in that raising of fists and claws.
That did not mean it was in any way easy.
When pressed and the madness would ooze out between the cracks like pus from a wound and it was decided it must be dealt with, a whole dance routine of strategies came into play. Comfort and care meant nothing to them, a soft touch and a quiet whisper had more double meanings than logically possible. No, they knew only violence and it's purity and responded to it in kind and it was the only way to deal with them. It didn't matter if he had to beat the mech into spare parts so he could safely strap him down for de-fragging and treatment. When they came to actual nock down drag out fights the events were long, loud and legendary, generally a bloody mess on both parts. More than once had Megatron thanked Primus for his huge gladiator build.
Violence was a solid and unmistakable language that had taught him well and served him just as good when words became naught but hissing in the hot air. Everyone understood the universal language of violence, even the long dead councilmen could not deny it. Would he wish there was another way? No, violence did not lie, it left no illusions of one's place in the world. It had burned their world to the ground but their world had deserved to burn; all of it.
So mechs can argue that he is unfair all they like, though none of them are stupid enough to question his way of handling the deranged seeker. His method of dealing with his seconds perversions has so far been the only one to pan out into success. His methods of argument were the only ones to ever breach the noble's doors and the hideaways of the senators.
It begs the question though, why go through all of this madness?
His seeker is a creature of so many talents and skills that, if he could, he would have chained the mech to a de-fragging repairs console and let it be at that. His many strengths were, however, tempered by his many faults; arrogance, a temper more volatile than Megatron's own, a mind more questionable than any he'd seen before, a terrifying drive that cried for blood, occasional crippling shortsightedness; the list went on and on and never once repeated itself. That was why, in those rare moments of clarity in the seekers life, the sheer mundane sanity creeping below the surface was downright shocking. Not to mention disappointing. It was no wonder that Starscream couldn't even win a fight with himself when the mech beneath the rabble was such a weakling.
He could almost hear someone laughing at him when those times came about.
Starscream, the real mech, could tend to others with a startling care and compassion, one could almost see that tired countenance behind dim optics as it pushed aside wandering code and set itself to task. It was at these times that Megatron didn't know wether to feel disgusted or guilty.
So why bother?
It didn't come from any sense of owing the mech, the only thing he owed that bastard was a beating. It had a lot to do with his varied uses and talents, many of which were not found in mechs outside the Decepticon elite and never in such concentration. It also had a lot to do with his firm entrenchment at the very top of the Vosian social hierarchy in his army, a position, like all others, that he had lied, cheated and murdered his way into. A position he had earned and suitably dominated, that made him irreplaceable in the armada.
Perhaps it came from their most fundamental and shared reality of violence, that on such a simple level, no matter what state Starscream was in, they understood each other perfectly.
He would never admit but on some level he liked Starscream's constant testing of him, that their shared dynamics dissuaded dissent within the ranks like no other. He liked to watch his second turn his nose up to highgrade and laughed when the mech had it out with the mechs under them for their failures. He liked to wring the bastards pretty little neck and to watch all of the many various emotions that played across his face and wings.
Targeting and passion were as ingrained into his systems as violence; he was a gun former after all and what was a gun with no one to wield it, to point it in the right direction and fire. His sights were narrow and his power devastating, which is what made Starscream valuable the most. Perhaps all those years of fielding his own faults had taught him how to channel others but his second knew how to tease out the hate and pain from him like no other. The mech knew when and how to pull the trigger and just where to aim it.
He hated him for it, for just how quickly and thoroughly the seeker could breach every defense he had even from under a dozen layers of slag code.
Spreading outward, a cracked glass spiderweb of death reaching from one port to another; from planet to planet, from the many moons to the space between and across the stars. Their war would stretch long and far and still it did not end, it was not enough.
Sometimes we forget that we feel, that we cannot sleep when the nights are too dark or to hot or when rage fed energy picks its way under exhaustion and armor and there's nothing left to do but let it out. Violence was nearly all they knew and at times it was all they understood, like the people strangled by war and hate that they were, sometimes it was the only thing they could do. Like so many other painful things, Starscream knew it too and understood it, teasing out that pain with a puppet-masters care; just as Megatron had done to him.
It was sad, it was broken and it was all they had.
The language of violence.
To remember when enough is enough.