I was going to post this segment by itself because it is the longest in the story, but the final two parts are very short and I didn't think it was worth dragging this out for another day.
Enjoy ... or something.
"...out there right now; you are all scum barely worthy of lingering in Lord Megatron's exhaust," shrieked Starscream. As usual, he had read his audience perfectly and finely modulated his voice circuit to exactly the right tone to make every person present - man or machine - desire nothing more than to punch him in the face. As he spoke, the giant con paced back and forth before the group of humans with his arms crossed.
"If I disagreed with our leader's plan I would call this lunacy, idiocy and the signs of an unhinged individual who is unworthy to lead the Decepticons. However, since the plan has not yet had a chance to fail spectacularly, it would be premature for me to call on all Decepticons to flock to me, overthrow this overblown tyrant and show the universe the true power of the Decepticons under competent leadership."
"Enough," thundered Megatron, who had been standing slightly behind and to the left of Starscream. He stepped forward and elbowed his lieutenant brusquely aside. "Starscream, surely you have some menial duties to perform."
"Of course, Lord Megatron," said Starscream in an oily, obsequious tone. He tapped his fingertips together and bowed before his leader. "I'll just excuse myself to stand over with the other seekers where we will attend to ... menial duties that do not involve plotting against superiors." The jet backed away, bowing once more in a manner that none would ever mistake for reverence. If it was possible to imbue physical movements with sarcasm, Starscream had certainly mastered the art.
"Meat creatures," said Megatron, cranking the melodrama in his audio output to 11. He extended his arm and waved it over the group of humans. "Normally I would have you all eviscerated and thrown off the cliff as an example to others of your worthless kind for daring to enter Decepticon territory, but today I am feeling magnanimous because you have all brought items of great interest to me. If you deliver what I asked, I will let you leave here with your lives and even a fair payment."
The giant Decepticon crouched down and leaned low to focus his angry red optics on the humans, though the tallest of the humans had to bend very low as well in order to maintain eye contact.
"You did bring the things I ordered, didn't you?"
"Oh yes! Absolutely! You bet! Affirmative!" chorused the humans. There was a long, pregnant pause, interrupted only by furtive whispers among the seekers, coughs and shuffling of feet by the humans, and the rhythmic "CLANG CLANG CLANG" of Ravage trying to scratch an itch beneath his metal plating. Megatron remained bent low, burning into them with his angry red eyes.
"Well?" he said in a low, dangerous voice. "Don't trip over each other in your rush to hand it over."
"Sorry, your bigness," said Franco, with an awkward shrug. "I guess we all figured the others were gonna go first. I'll start." The human walked over to his car and elicited a double chirp from it with his key fob. The human popped the trunk and lifted out a metal briefcase. He carried it over to the crouching Decepticon and held it up for him. When Megatron made no move to take the case, he carefully stood it on the ground at his feet and backed away a couple of steps.
"It's all there," he said, "every last known sighting of Godzilla, and the Powerpuff Girls on Blu-Ray."
"All six seasons?" demanded Megatron with a measured growl in his vocalizer. The human swallowed and nodded emphatically. "Excellent," said Megatron. He focused his eyes on the next human before him.
Grant wilted slightly under the Decepticon leader's fiery gaze, but he quickly jumped into action. He jogged back to his car and opened the rear hatch. He paused a moment, staring into the back of his car before he whistled and pointed to Franco. "Yo, Franco, gimme a hand with this." The two men reached into the back of the car and, mutually grunting with effort, they carefully lifted an aluminum-looking frame out of the back.
The frame consisted of twelve alloy tubes bolted together into a glass-faced cube. Eight tubes extended inward at an angle to suspend a second, smaller glassed cube inside the first. The overall effect was that of a 3-D rendering of a tesseract. The glass of both cubes had the slightly smoky tinge of being heavily leaded, which was presumably to protect outsiders from whatever was radiating from the glowing, pulsating green ovoid inside the inner cube. The two men carefully placed the heavy frame next to the metal brief case and stood up, brushing their hands on their pants.
"There ya go," said Grant. "One kaiju egg, guaranteed to hatch if you zap it with enough gamma rays." He lowered his voice to a conspiratorial stage whisper. "I had to bribe some very important people to get my hands on this baby."
"What kind of kaiju? It's not one of those lame ones that has its own Greek chorus, is it?"
"I dunno, but I saw pictures. It's got wings and tentacles and it spews streams of radioactive acid." He shrugged. "It looked pretty bad-ass."
"Good, good," said Megatron. He wrung his hands together in a squeal and creak of metal on metal.
Ivar did not wait for a prompt before he ran to the car and fetched his offering. He returned to the group carrying a small, laptop computer.
"This thing has the blueprints for the latest model of Mechagodzilla," he said, flourishing it out with his left hand and bowing graciously. He glanced up again at the other two objects sitting in front of Megatron. "I'm just going to put it over here," he said, sidling to his left before setting it down, "away from all that radioactive stuff." As he stood and wheeled about to leave, he paused and turned back, tapping his chin in thought.
"One more thing," he said, "it was saying something about wanting to install a Windows update when I shut it down last night. You might want to make sure you postpone that when you turn it on so that it doesn't corrupt the files."
Everyone fell silent when they heard Megatron sharply suck in air through his vents. He stood and planted his hands on his hips. "I am not angry," he said, though is vocal tone suggested otherwise, "just disappointed. Decepticons are taught right from forging to disable automatic updates in the group policy." He turned his burning red glare to the final human. "And what have you brought me, human? Pray that you too do not disappoint me."
"Of course," said Bob. "I too have brought you something." The last human stood with a rev of very human engines, and walked over to his semitrailer emitting the whir and clunk of human servos. He pulled the trailer’s door open, saying, "I have brought you...," his human vocalizer buzzed and went still as his blue optics scanned around in the back of the truck. "Apparently, I have brought sandwiches," he said finally. He reached in and lifted out a large tray of sandwiches on the palm of one hand.
"Excellent," said Megatron. "An army functions best when its leader is well-fed."
Bob emitted what sounded like a sigh, and began reading off the labels. "I've got pastrami on rye, hold the mayo, double mustard..."
The giant human slowly unloaded the back of the truck, handing out sandwiches one by one until he finally got to the last. "Finally, I have an I Shall Overthrow That Fool Megatron and Claim What Is Rightfully Mine on toasted energon with condescension aioli, no irony, and a side of traitor chips."
The call was met with silence. Eyes and optics scanned around, looking for a taker.
"Come on, somebody must have ordered I Shall Overthrow That Fool Megatron and Claim What Is Rightfully Mine on toasted energon with a condescension aioli, no irony, and a side of traitor chips," said Bob with a hint of annoyance creeping into his vocals. "There are no refunds if somebody fails to claim their order. It was initialled with SS if that rings any bells." Again, there were just shrugs and glances tossed about.
"Starscream," thundered Megatron. "Didn't you order something to eat?"
"No, Lord Megatron," said Starscream, scuttling up quickly to fawn at his leader's feet. "I am, uh, trying to watch my svelte figure."
"Somebody claim that last sandwich so that we may dine in celebration of our pending victory over the Autobots," commanded Megatron with a longsuffering tone. He panned the small group of Decepticons who were present on the base with a baleful gaze.
"Mew," said Ravage.
"Finally!" thundered Megatron.
"Mew mew mew mew mew..." said Ravage, with each mew sounding more distressed and pathetic than the one before. All eyes turned to the cassette. The mechanical feline was hunkered down on his legs to the point where his metal belly was nearly touching the ground. His normally yellow eyes were looking uncharacteristically green, and his jagged maw was working. "Hurk!"
"No!" bellowed Megatron. "DO NOT! I just had this base plating re-clad, and you are standing over a critical junction box."
If the cat heard the leader, he showed no sign. "Hurk!"
Megatron grabbed his lieutenant's arm and physically flung him toward the cassette. "Starscream, deal with this at once!"
"At once, Lord Megatron," barked Starscream. He closed the distance to the hunkering cat in three long strides and swept up the little feline under one arm in a single motion. As he ran, Ravage kept time with his steps with a mantra of, "Hurk! Hurk! Hurk!"
"Hold it in you abhorrent creature," said Starscream with a sharp tone. "This is why I am not cat person. In fact when I am running things, there will be no pets on the base at all. You are always getting under our pedes, then eating things that make you regurgitate."
He reached the edge of the mesa and juggled the convulsing cassette. He held Ravage out at arm's length with his palms cupped under the cat’s armpits and his fingers touching across his sternum. "Okay, wretched creature, now disgorge your horrid vomitus."
Ravage's spasms stopped, and the little cassette went alarmingly quiet. With a whir of servos, his head slowly cranked around one hundred and eighty degrees until his angry yellow optics focused on those of Starscream. It took the bigger bot a moment to understand what was going on, but his optics widened in alarm.
"Do not!" Starscream commanded, but it was too late. With a squishy "blarg", the felinoid opened his mechanical maw and lobbed a bubbling green mass of horridness at a graceful arc over his own back. Starscream simultaneously let go of the smaller con and jumped back to safety, but it was too late. "GREAT UNICRON IT'S ALL OVER MY PEDES!"
"Excellent," said Megatron with an approving nod. "Now that the distractions are out of the way, let us continue with the details of our transaction. Since you have provided me with everything I requested, there is just the matter of determining a ... suitable reward," he said with an alarming gleam in his red optics.
"We had a deal," said Franco. The others picked up a hint of uncertainty in his tone.
"Yes, a ... deal," said Megatron. He clasped his giant metal hands behind his back and began to pace back and forth in front of the small line of humans and the goods they'd brought. "There is the unfortunate matter that you fulfilled your half of the deal before I fulfilled mine. Certainly that leaves me some latitude to ... renegotiate the terms."
The humans exchanged glances.
"I don't like the sound of this whole renegotiate thing," said Grant darkly. He stepped forward and ill-advisedly shook an angry fist in Megatron's direction. "You start pullin' stuff like that and you know what, you'll be dealing with my lawyer!" The giant bot clasped his hands over his face in horror.
"Oh no," he said in mock terror, "Not your lawyer!"
"Actually," said Bob, holding up one of his giant, metal, human fingers, "I have dealt with these lawyers before, and I can assure you they are fierce. I got my rig stuck under a bridge when I misread its height because it was displayed in human, decimal numerals. The civic government felt that I should be liable for the damages, and when I disagreed and refused to pay, they sent a team of these 'lawyers' after me. My chromed exhaust pipes got take to the cleaners if you know what I mean."
Megatron's red optics blinked, and then blinked again.
"I have no idea what you are talking about," he said. He was about to say something else when an alarming squeak and almost organic gurgle erupted from his steel midriff. He clapped his hands over his midsection and frowned. "Curse my dual energon denaturing sacs," he said with a scowl. He glanced up and saw Starscream approaching the group again, cursing loudly and giving his slime-coated pedes a shake with every step. Behind him, Ravage was bounding around like a new-forge, sticking his metal muzzle into the base's disposal bins looking for tasty tidbits.
"Starscream," bellowed Megatron. The leader was showing obvious signs of distress now, and he was backing up toward a tall structure poised at the edge of the mesa. "Keep watch on our ... guests while I attend to some urgent matters in my portable, private command chamber."
"Of course, Lord Megatron," said Starscream with a sneer of acquiescence. Megatron exchanged glares with his officer, then turned and bolted into the small building, closing a crescent-moon emblazoned door behind him. Starscream's face took on an air of cool indifference, and he all but ignored the humans while making a show of buffing his metal fingers on his metal chest plate.
"You know," Starscream said, holding up his hand and inspecting it in the harsh lights of the base after a minute, "I have always argued that the placement of that private booth is precarious." He flexed his fingers a couple of times and made a show of flicking some imaginary dirt off of one. "But Lord Megatron knows best. He wants a clear view of his 'future domain' while he 'contemplates on his duties of leadership'."
The seeker spun on his heel and strode over to the small structure. "If I were not so loyal and trustworthy, it would be a trivial matter to do this!" He raised his right pede, planted it firmly on the side of the small structure and gave it a tremendous shove. The look of shock on his face betrayed his surprise at what happened next, as the little structure teetered alarmingly and tumbled over the cliff.
"STARSCREAM, I WILL DESTROY YOU...," came the murderous bellow of Megatron from inside the structure. If he yelled anything else, it was lost to distance, and the crash and bang of the structure tumbling away to the plains below.
Starscream stared mutely down the cliff for a moment longer, then his frame relaxed and he turned abruptly to face the base again. He stood tall on the edge of the cliff and assumed what everyone supposed was a commanding stance.
"Lord Megatron has fallen," he cried shrilly. "I, Starscream, now lead the Decepticons!"
"All hail Lord Starscream," droned the Decepticons on the base in a tone that bespoke of much practise.
Starscream pointed to the nearest con. "You, random seeker, go fetch some cleaning rags and polish for my pedes. While you are at it, get hold of Soundwave and tell him to come and get his cassette before I have it stripped to the last bolt and sold off as scrap."
He pointed at the collection items that the humans had brought for Megatron. "Next, I want those ridiculous things out of my sight! What madness gripped our dear, fallen leader to even consider such a hare-brained plan? Go on, get them out of here."
Bob swept everything up in his arms and double-timed it to his trailer. "I will just put these in this trailer so that you don't have to see them," he said as he tossed the lot into the back and sealed the doors.
"Fine, whatever," said Starscream with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Now that I am in command, we are going to run things a little differently." He marched back and forth along the edge of the mesa, slamming a fist into his other palm as he spoke. "No more ridiculous schemes that have no measureable chance of success. No more side-deals with the humans. Our first task will be to start building very large bombs, and orbital platforms to drop them from."
"But Lord Starscream," said Dirge, stepping up from the ranks and waggling a finger at the leader. "Bombs and platforms aren't the way we Decepticons do things!"
Starscream leveled his blaster at the other con and unloaded five shots into his chest. As Dirge lay, twitching and sparking on the ground, Starscream scratched his chin. "You raise a good point," he said. He waved his blaster in the general direction of the other seekers. "We will need to work on changing our culture first. Does anyone else here have anything they wish to add?"
Other than the sound of nervously shuffling pedes, and the clank of somebody climbing the cliff behind Starscream, there was nary a sound.
"Good," said Starscream with an approving nod. "It helps when we are all on the same page."
"I have something to add," bellowed a familiar voice from the edge of the cliff. Starscream whirled in surprise as Megatron's head and upper torso appeared over the edge of the cliff. The giant bot hoisted himself up one forearm lying flat across the edge of the mesa while he lowered his other arm with an impressively large blaster pointed at Starscream. The blaster was audibly winding up with a very large charge.
"Oh for..." said Starscream with a screech of indignation in his voice. He raised his pede and kicked Megatron solidly in the solar plexus, dislodging the giant Decepticon's grip on the cliff. Even as he started to tumble, Megatron let loose with the blaster. The other bot's kick threw off his aim, though, and the tremendous mauve bolt just clipped one of Starscream's wingtips before deflecting at a low angle into the sky, towards the moon that was rising in the east. Megatron tumbled out of sight again with a roar of annoyance.
"That was a very angry bolt," said Bob slowly.
"Wow," agreed Ravage.
Starscream used a finger and thumb to douse the glowing tip of his wing where Megatron's blast had singed it, then after a quick, nervous glance over his shoulder, he cried, "Lord Megatron has fallen ... again. I, Starscream, am once again the leader of..."
"Nothing," thundered Megatron. He soared over the cliff on his thrusters and tackled the startled seeker in a thunderous crash of metal on metal. He sat astride Starscream with his blaster jammed under the prone jet’s chin. "You are the leader of ... nothing!" He leaned his face close to Starscream's, his red eyes blazing so bright that the seeker looked like he might melt under their glare. "It seems we both forgot I could fly. Do you have any last words?"
"Yes," said Starscream, his own eyes blazing back up at the leaders. He squirmed slightly. "Are you as turned on as I am right now?"
"You know how much I love it when you get rough and seditious," said Megatron with a throaty growl in his vocals. He stood and yanked the seeker back to his feet. Without loosening his grip on Starscream's wrist he waved vaguely in the direction of the other bots with his other hand before pointing at the first one that caught his eye. "You," he said, leveling a digit at Ravage. "Deal with ... all this."
"Mew?" said Ravage, but Megatron did not respond; he and Starscream turned as one and started walking briskly toward the main Decepticon bunkers. While they walked, Starscream's free arm reached awkwardly back so that his hand could rest on the rear plating covering Megatron's upper leg joints.
"Well, uh, now what?" said Franco as the two Decepticons disappeared into the depths. "I mean, we're still getting' paid, right?"
"Mrowr?" replied Ravage. He sat up on his haunches and gave a feline shrug. He and the humans turned to the nearest seeker.
"Don't look at me," said the seeker. "This kind of stuff is way above my pay grade. I guess you could help yourselves to some stuff on our way out or something, because I don't give a..."
"...fuck." was all Cliffjumper had time to say as he looked down at the gaping hole where his chest had been. A mere instant before, a mauve bolt had come sailing in from the direction of the earth and blew through him before leaving a three-mile molten furrow in the lunar surface. He keeled over slowly to one side and his optics flickered once and went out.
"Well, couldn't have predicted that," said Ratchet. He exchanged a glance with Bumblebee, but the yellow mini-bot shrugged and shook his head in agreement. The medic chuckled drily. "Not totally unexpected, but not what I'd have predicted." He grabbed one of Cliffjumper's arms. "Take hold of the other arm, kid. We're going to have to do some major repairs this time."
Bumblebee gripped the other arm, and the two bots began trudging back to the moon base, leaving a Cliffjumper-width trail in the ground as they walked.
"Might need to borrow some more parts from you," said Ratchet.
Bumblebee's blue optics flickered red. "Bwa! Bidi bidi bidi bidi!" he protested.
"Ya, about that," said Ratchet. "You know that none of us actually understand what you're saying when you make all those noises. We're just humouring you."
"No, he can't understand you either," said Ratchet, shaking his head slowly. They walked on in silence for a moment, dragging Cliffjumper behind them.
"Wait," said Bumblebee, "if you couldn’t understand me then how..."
"...did the mission go, boss?" asked Jazz. The real Optimus Prime had shed his human disguise and moniker before returning to the Autobot base.
"I am not sure if we can measure the results of this mission in terms of success or failure," said Optimus Prime. "I have returned with tools that Megatron had been planning to use against us. I believe we should study these tools so that we can better defend against them if he pursues this avenue again."
The laptop, briefcase, egg container and an unclaimed side of minestrone soup were lined up on the large desk in his office. A number of other Autobots from the command team had streamed into the office on word of their leader's return. Bluestreak and Smokescreen had already fired up the laptop, and they were fumbling their hands over the other's trying to disable the Windows auto-update.
Ironhide had opened the briefcase and emptied its contents onto the table; he'd brushed away the papers so that he could get his giant hands on the discs. "Oh Buttercup, you're my waifu," he said wistfully. He waved the discs in the Prime's direction. "Ya don't mind if I take these back to my room for a bit, do you?"
"You may take them," said Optimus Prime, "but please return them when you are done with them so that they can be added to the archives later."
"Yesss..." said Ironhide with a pump of his fist. He whistled happily from his vocalizer and began striding purposely toward the door.
Optimus Prime turned back to the other bots in the room. "Hound, Skids, I need for you two to take that egg to one of the base's deeper chambers and do whatever is needed to begin hatching it."
"Uh, Prime," said Prowl, his door wings twitching. "Hatching that egg is a really, really bad idea."
"Prowl," said Optimus Prime in response. He turned to his officer and tapped him firmly on the emblem with his forefinger. "Don't be such a bitch." He focused on Hound and Skids again. "Be cautious with that egg, friends. The human who delivered it said something about it spitting radioactive acid once it hatches."
"So, what, we're going to be mother hens to a monster?" asked Hound.
"Eh," said Skids. He picked up the egg container and jammed it carelessly under his left arm. "C'mon Hound," he said. "I don't care what this thing turns into - it can't be any worse than mud duty."
Then there was a freeze frame of everybody with their heads back laughing while it faded to the credits.