Megatron glared over the sights of his fusion cannon at the whimpering red and blue wreck at his feet. White-hot fury craved yet more release; his circuits trembled on the edge of firing it.
"PLEASE, Megatron!" Starscream turned his dark face up towards the Decepticon warlord, stark terror of death in his optics. He raised one arm, futilely trying to shield himself. "Please, don't shoot! I didn't know! I really didn't!"
One click of a relay, just one click, and Starscream would be a blasted pile of scrap, quite beyond repair. That knowledge and the vicious satisfaction that it brought finally gave an opening for the muffled voice of reason in the back of Megatron's mind.
I need him. He's too valuable to lose.
He resisted the urge to fling his cannon down; in his fury, Megatron had come far too close to destroying one of the two best officers he had. He couldn't let Starscream know how much he'd lost control; the red and blue Seeker was a rapacious vulture, seizing on any sign of weakness.
Let Starscream think he'd intended to punish his mutinous second-in-command as thoroughly as he did. Megatron reached down and seized Starscream by the throat, hauling him up to optic-level. Bent and broken wings hung crazily from twisted joints; the amber glass of his cockpit was cracked and crazed. A green, oily streak of lubricant leaked down his face.
"Your stupidity is exceeded only by your cowardice, Starscream!" Megatron snarled. "Had you succeeded in your plan to blow up the Earth, you would have destroyed all the Decepticons you claim to want to lead!"
"I thought I was alone," Starscream whimpered. "I thought they'd blown up on the starship with you!"
He's probably convinced himself of that excuse by now. After five million years... but being marooned on this planet has only made him worse.
Megatron's rage at the near destruction of his Decepticons from Starscream's ill-considered plan started to ebb. He'd found a certain satisfaction in working with Optimus Prime for a short while--and a definite amount of private glee at giving Prime orders and watching Prime obey.
Megatron released the battered Seeker, letting him collapse to the ground once again. He marveled briefly at Starscream's unerring talent for driving him into complete and utter rage.
"Get over your stupidity, Starscream! I have no use for a moron as my second-in-command!" Megatron waved his cannon at Starscream.
Starscream flinched, half-raising his arm again. "I will! I promise! It won't happen again."
Of course it will, because you refuse to learn. Megatron glared at him, and then turned his head towards the other Seeker still watching from a fearful distance.
"Thundercracker! See that Starscream gets properly repaired!" Megatron turned on his heel and stalked off.
Starscream was one of his best officers. He could have been Megatron's absolute best officer: the red and blue jet was brilliant at improvisation, skilled in battle, ruthless beyond all others, and possessed of a keenly analytic mind that let him see the flaws in the most complex of plans.
Unfortunately, Megatron reflected, Starscream was also a self-centered prima donna who rarely thought through the consequences to others of his actions, and who obsessed over every perceived slight and insult. Lately--since they'd woken on Earth--he'd become fixated on Megatron's supposed disregard for him.
I'd regard you a lot better if you'd get over your constant attempts to undermine me! What do I have to do to get your attention on something besides yourself and your obsessions? If I kill you, I lose what skills of yours I do command, but Primus help me, it's going to come to that one of these days! Favoring you only makes you more self-obsessed, ignoring you just encourages you to plot against me, and I swear that you seem to like the attention you get from being punished!
I can't let him anger me like this. I almost lost control this time; I almost killed one of my own officers.
This particular officer nearly killed all my troops, and ME! The anger still seethed in Megatron; he stalked the corridors of the undersea base, his face set in cold fury.
Rumble took one look at what came around the corner and bolted. This was not a day to be a small, kickable object in Megatron's path.
I can't afford to lose him. I can't afford to lose control. At least his raging temper had one up-side: even fewer Decepticons would be willing to cross him, or even argue with orders. Megatron didn't expect to hear any whining (except for Starscream) from anyone for a long time.
Small consolation. Once in his quarters, Megatron allowed himself to sigh wearily. Such a waste! His second-in-command could be so much better than he was.
I wish you would grow up, Starscream.
-- FIN --
Thank you to fellow TF fan K. Pulver, aka dunmurderin, for beta-reading.