Author's Note – This is the Qatar Base battle scene (beginning of the first Michael Bay movie), but from the Decepticons' point of view. It was hard getting a feel for their (movie) personalities from the film, so I used the prequel novel, Transformers: Ghosts of Yesterday to get a feel for their individual temperments.
The Ability to Adapt
"Blackout, what have you done?" Starscream challenged the other mech over a private comm. Moments earlier the helicopter-disguised Decepticon had informed his fellows, over an open channel, that he was engaging a human military installation.
"I'm getting answers. These organics know something of both Megatron's location and that of the Allspark. I'm tired of waiting for you. It's time to act!" Blackout declared, still over the open frequency.
"You fool," Starscream sneered. Realizing the rash mech would not keep this confrontation private, he switched to the open channel as well. If the other Decepticon wanted a confrontation, very well. "You will ruin everything that we've worked toward."
"That's what you'd have us believe. But what have we 'worked toward?' We have hidden ourselves among these creatures. And … what? We sit, and do nothing. Are you even trying to find Megatron or the Allspark?"
Starscream cursed silently. He was, indeed, trying to find the Cube. That had always been one of his priorities. Finding the Allspark, and ensuring the continuation of the Decepticon race, would finally ensure an end to this infernal war. And if he found it, the glory would fall on him. Megatron could rust in a pit for all he cared. But signs kept hinting that Megatron had arrived before them. And, worse, was probably still on this miserable planet. If they recovered both their leader and the Cube, then Megatron would take the credit and the glory for their inevitable victory.
For thousands of years, Starscream had led the Decepticons in their leader's absence. He, not Megatron, had kept the volatile group together, focused on their goals. Not an easy task, given the Decepticons' natural combative temperaments. And, as Blackout was currently demonstrating, their defiant traits. When those undesirable tendencies interfered with Starscream's plans, he forcibly reminded them why he was in command. The severity of their offense determined how long they required to recover from his 'lessons.' Blackout, it seemed, had forgotten his own earlier and numerous lessons handed down by Starscream.
Perhaps not completely, Starscream noted. Blackout was engaging in his minor coup on the other side of the world. Well away from Starscream's immediate reprisal. Immediate, but not eventual.
"You always think in the short term," Starscream answered, scorn lacing his vocals. "You never see the whole picture. Of course I'm searching for Megatron and the Cube. But how can we do that while fighting these insects? There are almost seven billion of the things." He paused. "And you just revealed us to them."
Blackout laughed. "Are you afraid of these squishy things, Starscream? They can't stand against me. Their weapons aren't even damaging me!"
Blackout uploaded his visuals of the current confrontation. Tiny organics ran in between their non-sentient machines, while the Decepticon tore a path of carnage through their base. Vehicles, propelled by his energy waves, flew through the air. Explosions lit the night. A few attempted a counterattack, to no avail.
"You accuse me of fear? And yet you decide to challenge my orders … while hiding half a world away from me."
Barricade joined the discussion, dry humor in his vocals, "Yes, I noticed that too."
As if Barricade's inclusion in the conversation was permission for the others, they began voicing their thoughts: ranging from Frenzy's demands for more carnage, to Bonecrusher's lament at missing out on the fun. They were restless. It'd been too long since they'd seen true combat. But their comments mostly supported Blackout's actions. Idiots. Starscream needed to bring this confrontation back under control.
"Silence!" Starscream waited a moment to ensure their compliance. The other Decepticons quieted, even as Blackout chuckled, although whether at his commander or the tiny organics fleeing before him was unclear. Starscream decided to add that to the other mech's list of punishable offenses. "We are Cybertronians. We have an advantage that no other race in galaxy possesses: the ability to adapt. Whatever their world, we can blend in, become part of it. None of – how many races have we seen? – can do that. We adapt. We infiltrate. Then we take what we need. That is our strength. Only a fool throws away his most powerful weapon."
"You like to talk. That's all you do. You use words to turn us around, mislead us."
"Starscream's motivations are his own. But his logic is sound. Subtlety will help us find Megatron and the Allspark here, more than brute force," Barricade again joined the conversation.
Barricade had ignored Starscream's order for silence, but since he supported the Seeker's reasoning, Starscream let it pass. As long as he continued leading the Decepticons towards finding Megatron and the Allspark, Barricade would support him. The other mech saw him as a means to an end. As long as he had his support, Starscream didn't care.
Confronted by both Starscream and Barricade, Blackout did not reply. He continued streaming the visuals as he demolished the fleshling base.
"Tell us Blackout, now that you've executed your brilliant plan, what have you learned of Megatron and the Cube's location?" Starscream queried, fully aware the other mech had not gathered any intelligence, instead focusing on slaughter.
Blackout paused. "I am finding a terminal now."
If his current alt-form allowed it, Starscream would have smirked. Perhaps he should not have reminded Blackout of his reasons for being there. But he had decided not to chance the other Cybertronian remembering on his own. This way, by demanding results from a subordinate, the Seeker took command.
As Blackout tore through a building, Starscream experienced a moment of doubt. Would the organics have sensitive information – surely they had to consider Megatron and the Allspark 'sensitive information' – where Blackout could access it? Could the rash Decepticon actually succeed? He buried those doubts. If that happened, he would adapt. He had before. As the Seeker had told the others, that was their greatest strength.
The insects proved more resilient, and stubborn, than Starscream imagined. They destroyed the hardline connections, halting Blackout's infiltration of the their primitive computer. His quiet chuckle was lost amid Blackout's cursing. The other Cybertronian cut the video feed. Starscream played with the idea of demanding Blackout resume transmitting. But by ending the visual stream, Blackout had admitted his failure to all of them.
Starscream would not spare him, though.
"What did you learn?"
Blackout did not reply.
"Nothing more than we already knew. Nothing new," Blackout answered begrudgingly.
"So. You disobeyed me. You revealed your true form to an entire group of humans. And you learned nothing."
"Perhaps he's learned to leave the thinking to those better equipped for it?" Barricade quipped.
"I ordered all of you silent." Starscream had no use for that one's contributions now. "Blackout. You have witnesses – to your attack, and to our presence. I do not like witnesses. Handle it."
" … Yes, Starscream."
Starscream waited, wishing he wasn't entrenched in his own disguise. He fought the urge to simply leave, both to ensure Blackout 'handled' the witnesses, but mostly to show the other Decepticon the depth of his displeasure. However, it had taken no small effort to infiltrate this military base. The fleshlings were surprisingly thorough and precise with their records. An extra jet instantly drew attention. He could leave whenever he wished, but that too would draw immediate notice. As much as he wished to punish Blackout, that would have to wait for a more convenient time.
After awhile, more than enough time for Blackout to finish, Starscream contacted him.
"Are the insects dead?"
"They will be."
"'Will be?' What is the problem?"
Pause. "Some of them escaped. I have tracked most of them down, and dealt with them. Scorponok is following the last group. He will have them soon."
"You let some escape?" Starscream dragged the words out.
"Scorponok will finish them," Blackout insisted.
"I am not pleased."
"I … understand."
"Do you really?" A sudden inspiration struck Starscream. "Do you understand what is at stake? These creatures are crude and primitive, but even they will realize that you and Megatron are the same species. If they have him contained – however unlikely that is – what do you think they'll do when they realize more of us are here? Will they chance us releasing him? What would we do, in their situation?" He paused to let that sink in. Decepticons would never chance a dangerous prisoner escaping. "They will dismantle him. Reduce him to spare parts. You will have cost us our chance to free him. You, personally, would be responsible for his death!"
Starscream savored that last touch. Let Blackout, ever loyal to their absent leader, believe he caused Megatron's demise. Most likely, if the organics had discovered Megatron and they possessed any sense, they had already destroyed him. Now Blackout would take the blame. If they hadn't, perhaps this attack would inspire them. With any luck, Scorponok would fail. It would leave witnesses, but any chance to remove Megatron permanently was worth it. Even without survivors, evidence of Blackout presence would remain; traces of advanced weapons fire, indentations where he stepped.
Regardless if Scorponok succeeded or not, the humans would know they were here.
"I'm left with one question," Starscream mused. "If you've killed our leader, should I let the others tear you apart, or save that pleasure for myself?"
"There will be no witnesses. Scorponok will finish them," Blackout replied, his vocals subdued.
The comm fell silent as the various Decepticons waited. Starscream pondered their next move. Organics were extraordinarily unpredictable. Could he chance them leaving Megatron operational, assuming they actually had him? Another Decepticon attack should help convince them that he was a threat. Nothing obvious, of course. The others would become suspicious if he suddenly reversed his stance on revealing themselves. So, covert then. Frenzy was best suited for infiltration. He would need a way for the insects to link Frenzy's assault to them. Correction. Not them: Megatron. The creatures had so few advantages, even compared to the tiny Decepticon, deducing their best hope was problematic.
Scorponok followed his prey for several hours. Reporting in occasionally, Blackout repeatedly assured Starscream that the arthropod was close. The Seeker ignored him, letting the other mech worry.
The time allowed Starscream to ponder the best course of action. He created a subroutine to run simulations pitting Frenzy against humans in various situations. In every one, Frenzy unequivocally succeeded. However, in some simulations the organics did not fail as completely. Starscream processed the data, cross-referencing every detail. He concluded that an enclosed space would limit Frenzy the most. And provide the organics more opportunities to detect him.
What was taking Scorponok so long?
"Blackout! What is happening?"
"Scorponok engaged the humans." Blackout sounded reluctant to continue.
"They are dead?"
" … No. They were able to call for assistance. Aircraft arrived. They employed explosive ammunition. Scorponok was severely damaged and was forced to flee."
"The insects survive?" Starscream asked.
"Not only do witnesses survive," Starscream said, his vocals low and deadly, "but now they know how to damage us?"
Blackout did not respond.
Starscream continued, "Perhaps I've misunderstood, but how has your attack aided our cause? We have learned nothing, you've revealed our presence, left witnesses alive and provided the organics information on how to injure us. Have I overlooked something?"
"No, Starscream. I have … miscalculated."
"Yes, you have. We will 'discuss' this more when I next see you." Starscream paused, ensuring Blackout truly comprehended his threat. He addressed the others, "Thanks to Blackout, our presence has been revealed. We can not chance that the creatures have Megatron, and might destroy him. We need another – more skillful – infiltration to access their computers. Once I find a suitable target, Frenzy will do this. There will be no more unauthorized attacks. Have I made myself clear?"
His fellow Decepticons, including Blackout, agreed. Starscream broke his comm channel off. His plans had changed, been accelerated. But as always, he would adapt.