Takes place immediately after the end of "Predacons Rising", and immediately after "Reconstruction:Decision" . Here Be Spoilers.
As Megatron descended from Kaon's highest landing pad, a familiar voice, shrill with pain and fear, echoed in the former warlord's audials. The sound was horrifically familiar: Starscream begged for his life—but this time, not from Megatron.
Megatron hurried toward the throne room—of course, that's where Starscream would be—with long, loping strides. Starscream's voice rose into a wordless shriek of pain as Megatron walked in the archway, his massive armored shoulders filling the passage from side to side.
Energon splashed Megatron's former throne and the floor in blue-white rivulets, spatters and gouts. Starscream cowered in the chair, one mangled arm raised to shield his face—Megatron could not see much more beyond the three raging Predacons who stood over the broken Air Commander. One gray-blue wing lay on the floor, torn away at the root, still dripping energon.
Predaking, the dragon, raised a massive, taloned paw, tensed and poised to slam down in a brutal blow—the old Kaon gladiator recognized at once the signs of a mech preparing a deathblow.
"STOP!" Megatron commanded. I am not ready for this. I am not ready for Starscream. I should have known he wouldn't just stop, but I did not expect this!
Starscream heard, and knew. "Master! SAVE ME!"
The Predacons froze; then Predaking rose up and transformed, pinning Starscream's mangled body under one foot. Skylynx and Darksteel turned their heads to face the intruder and growled threateningly. Predaking turned, facing the former Decepticon leader. Perhaps remembering the sheer power and ferocity of Megatron's Unicronian form, the Predacon ruler chose to speak first, rather than attack. "Megatron. This is no business of yours—we have scores to settle with this scum."
What I have wrecked, I will rebuild, starting here. But, Starscream and the Predacons both? Still, I never was one for thinking small... but I really wouldn't have minded a slightly smaller starting project.
Megatron inclined his head slightly. "I know. But answer me this, Predaking—do you want to start your reign over the Predacon nation with an act of petty revenge and murder? Do you really want to be like me?" His voice was strangely soft, bereft of its usual rage. Starscream shivered; this strange new Megatron unnerved him.
Predaking lifted his foot, releasing Starscream, who huddled against Darkmount's throne. "No, I do not. Darksteel, Skylynx, back off!" Predaking looked down at the cowering former Decepticon second-in-command, noting the injuries they'd done. "All he did was abuse us and insult us. The score is even."
Darksteel and Skylynx looked at each other, looked at the broken Seeker, looked at Megatron, looked at Predaking, looked at each other again, and transformed. "We tore him up pretty bad," Darksteel acknowledged with a chuckle.
Starscream merely whimpered softly, cowering against the base of Megatron's former throne as if seeking shelter from the disaster that had overtaken him.
Predaking turned his hot yellow gaze to Megatron. "You were the one who betrayed my brethren to the Autobots and let them be destroyed. I should tear you apart!" he growled, flexing taloned hands.
Megatron again inclined his head. "I do not deny it. I have done much evil over the millenia, but fate has opened my eyes. I have much to undo, and I still live to do it—and I will not lie down and die!" He looked Predaking in the face. "You might succeed in deactivating me, with three of you against only one old gladiator of Kaon—but I will take at least two of you with me. Then what of the mighty Predacon race? There are better paths than revenge."
Starscream stole a furtive, hopeful glance at Megatron.
Predaking flexed his taloned hands; he could see no fear in Megatron, in spite of the odds. "Tell me."
Megatron smiled ever so slightly; Starscream shivered again. Megatron smiling was creepy. "Shockwave still lives; his laboratories are still intact. I will keep my promise to restore the Predacons to life and you will rule a nation, Predaking!"
Predaking staggered back a half-step, his claws scraping across the metal floor. Wonder and hope flashed across his face for a moment, before it closed down into sternness again. "You made that promise once before, Megatron and you lied! Why should I believe you?"
"This time," Megatron said softly, "I do not lead the Decepticons; the cause is no more. I do not fear your power and ambition—I applaud it! You have the makings of a fine ruler, if you restrain your anger and prefer justice to vengeance." If I can talk Predaking out of making my own mistakes... yes. That is another beginning.
Predaking stood silently, frowning as he considered Megatron's words.
Darksteel spoke up. "We know where the lab is, your highness! We can see if he's telling the truth."
Predaking glanced at Megatron as if to say 'Well?'
Megatron crossed the room to a computer console. "I will inform Shockwave of our plans. And please, consider this citadel of Darkmount your own. It is eminently defensible and controls a great many resources. I only ask that you treat my former Decepticons well, as your own citizens if they choose to dwell here or in the outlying districts of Kaon."
Predaking nodded slowly. "I agree, and will honor our agreement as well as you honor it." He smiled grimly. "I will also grant any Autobots who chose to settle in Kaon the same rights and responsibilities."
Megatron smiled openly and waggled one finger at the Predacon ruler. "You test me, Predaking—but I agree. I have no malice towards the Autobots now." Turning back to the console, he opened an encrypted channel to Shockwave, who appeared on screen.
"Lord Megatron? I calculated that there was a small but finite chance you would survive the destruction of Unicron. What are your plans?"
"Just Megatron, my old comrade. The war is over, the Decepticon cause is done, and I no longer lead. Am I correct that your labs are still intact?"
“They are. What are our plans? I would prefer to continue research—I have been calculating contingency plans since the emergence of Unicron. With Cybertron and the Well of Allsparks restored to viability, the possiblities are excessively numerous. I... am not sure where to begin."
Megatron stared into the communicator. It's another test. Shockwave knows as well as I do what the obvious beginning should be—if we are in accord. Are we?
Megatron answered. "We will build a new Cybertron, Shockwave—but not by conquest and oppression. We will not rebuild the old system—that also was founded on oppression. And, we will work with the Autobots and Predacons—we are all Cybertronians. As for you, my old comrade, I ask that you continue your work on restoring the Predacon race—your work is already well along, and I made a promise to Predaking, one that I intend to keep." Megatron could not help glancing at Predaking to see how he was taking all this.
The Predacon leader looked pleased and nodded, then leaned over the console. "Shockwave—I will be sending Darksteel to contact you." He waved one hand at Darksteel. "Go." Darksteel left.
"That is logical—the work is already in progress. It would also be logical to cooperate with the Autobots in restoring Cybertron's technical infrastructure."
Shockwave still tests me, though more subtly. He wonders if this is a ploy, or if I truly mean what I say. "I am no longer your commander, Shockwave. That is your decision to make—though I agree that it would be a wise decision."
Through the screen, one red eye regarded Megatron cooly. "As it is logical, I will do so. I request that you do whatever is feasible to keep anyone from interfering with my work because of past events."
Megatron understood immediately what Shockwave meant; it had been on his mind as well. "Yes, we don't want 'war crimes trials' or private retribution disrupting your work, do we?" He turned to face the Predacon leader. "Predaking?"
Predaking glared at Megatron and frowned. "Very well, I will protect Shockwave—if he moves to Kaon and becomes a citizen. You are on your own—my people will not answer for your past deeds."
Megatron gazed steadily back. "Nor shall I ask them to. My crimes are my own, and I defend myself."
"What about MEEEE?" Starscream couldn't keep quiet any longer, and fear made his voice shrill.
He's lost a lot of energon—and he's still leaking. He's still my problem, and one I need to start taking care of, now. I don't want him to be the last victim of 'Lord Megatron'.
Skylynx reluctantly moved aside as Megatron knelt and picked Starscream up, far more gently than Starscream was accustomed to. "I will take you back to Shockwave for repairs. Then we will... talk."
Starscream gulped nervously. That didn't sound ominous at all.
Predaking scowled; none of his memories of Starscream were good. "You nurse a viper, Megatron. Take him away, but beware he doesn't drag you down again."
Megatron turned his head to look at Predaking. "I know exactly what Starscream is—he is one of the greatest evils I have committed, for I made him what he is now. He is my mistake to repair. A word of advice, before I leave..."
"Yes?" Predaking looked suspiciously at the former Decepticon warlord.
"You are the king of a soon-to-be rising nation. You will need laws, your highness. Rule by whim of the strongest is the fastest road to despotism and oppression that I know of. Lay down laws and decrees that all your citizens are aware of and can obey while prospering, and do not punish by whim and caprice," Megatron said. Don't be me.
"You should know," muttered Starscream from his position under Megatron's arm.
"Yes, Starscream, I know all too well," Megatron replied patiently.
Predaking clenched one mighty fist. "Only the strongest can rule the Predacons!"
“Oh, that sounds familiar!” Starscream gibed. Now that neither the Predacons nor Megatron seemed about to dismantle Starscream, his courage and sarcasm were returning.
Did I really sound like that? Yes... I did. Megatron gave Predaking the look of one long suffering fools. "Then add a Rite of Challenge to your laws, so that in the proper time and place a challenger can fight the king for rulership. Laws controlling succession are far better than random assassination attempts during moments of crisis."
He gave Starscream a pointed glance; the mangled Air Commander scowled back.
"That's really good advice," commented Starscream. "Learning from your mistakes, are you?"
Predaking looked thoughtful, so did Skylynx, perhaps considering when she might challenge Predaking legitimately. "Though you have done great wrong in the past, Megatron, your advice now is wise. Go, and let me consider all that you have said."
"Fair enough... your highness." Megatron transformed into space-figher mode, still clutching Starscream in one taloned landing gear.
As Megatron hovered, preparing to jet away at high speed, Predaking said, "You are welcome to return later, with more advice. Don't bring Starscream."
"Indeed. I shall return." The thunder of jets drowned out any reply, and Megatron left Darkmount behind.
Dangling from Megatron's claws, Starscream muttered, "In twenty minutes, you save my aft, make an alliance to restore the Predacon race, convince Shockwave to cooperate, and convince Predaking to establish a city-state and a legal system. You may not lead the Decepticons, Just-A-Civilian Megatron, but you still lead."