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Old 2017-09-23, 02:04 AM   #213
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Dig Site, Doomshot's Position

Astrotrain kept his face stone-like, unflinching, and neutral as Doomshot went about his little speech. He had a 'withering' look, as his teammate Octane often mocked him for. A hard, square jaw, a mouthline that was naturally stern, and an above-average height even for a non-Titan-Master body.

Doomshot was sharp. Very, very sharp. Astrotrain knew that his position as the Decepticon High Command's go-to man wasn't that much of a closely-guarded secret, especially to someone as sly and resourceful as Doomshot. And, yes, High Command would want someone to hold the leash that kept Megatron chained as an attack dog of a figurehead.

And yet... Doomshot was smart. He was good at this game. Deflecting all outright signs of treachery by noting how Megatron is 'safe', and channeling the focus of the conversation to Astrotrain's own motives. It was a way to change the conversation, and at the same time to gauge Astrotrain's own intentions. There was even a small barb, a small insult, so that Astrotrain would defend himself, thus prompting someone less accustomed to the games of Decepticon politics to quickly divulge their hand.

Astrotrain, of course, was no amateur. He had been. Once. A complete fool, bragging about his so-called master plans when his competitors had layers upon layers of machinations.

And, ah, the speech. The grandiose speech and a show of force. The statement that, yes, Megatron is incapable of leading, and he found out High Command's game with the Titan Masters way, way sooner than everyone else before him had. Well, on that part, Astrotrain reflected, he could answer him.

Astrotrain made sure Doomshot finished with that curled 'no', before letting out a mirthless smile. "Your observations, of course, are all completely true." Astrotrain said. No sense denying it. "Which is why you are so perfect as Megatron's Titan Master as compared to the useless dullards who had their minds wiped out by Megatron's insatiable rage. You catch on pretty quick, and, as evidently shown, you are not intimidated by our screaming, frothing berserker of a figurehead. I respect that of you, Doomshot. I really do."

Pause for effect. (Starscream never did knew the value of pauses.)

"That was why I personally made it so that you were bumped up to the forefront of candidates for Megatron's Titan Master." Astrotrain paused once more, to make sure Doomshot understood the full weight of that sentence. A small barb? A small insult? This was Astrotrain's.

"And the reason why I picked you? Where Megatron is incapable of leading, you are far more than adequate to distract him, without getting yourself killed in the process. Megatron is too valuable to the Decepticon cause, more than you know -- he is a figurehead. He is a show of force to cause the Autobot scum to run away in terror, and a gigantic flag we can wave around to rally those nitwits out there."

I should know. I was one of those same nitwits before.

"So no. Removing Megatron, as ideal as it might seem to you, is not a plausible situation. Not now, not ever." Astrotrain folded his arms. "Of course, if I wasn't here to negotiate, High Command would've sent Overlord instead. Yet, here I am. The thing is, Doomshot, as you have so eloquently stated in your speech... you have a point. I want you to be more than a distraction. I want you to be the effective figurehead Megatron can never be without you bonded to him."

Astrotrain knew Doomshot was shrewd enough to note that in his last few sentences, he emphasized 'I', not 'High Command'. He would be curious to see how Doomshot responds to that -- Doomshot wasn't the only one probing for intentions.

Dig Site, Megatron's Position

Sixshot did not quite like how Doomshot worded 'certain activities'. But he said nothing. "Affirmative, sir."

He transformed, claws retracting and replaced by fists that unfurled, hind paws straightening and supporting the full weight of Sixshot's full body, wings locking into place, Revolver jumping into the air and compacting into Sixshot's head, which locked into place in the empty harness that formed Sixshot's headguard. Mental connection is established, and Sixshot's eyes glowed red.

In full robot mode, Sixshot crouched down, slung Megatron's headless robot-mode body over his shoulder, and began walking... and winced when his wolf-ear sensors caught Mindwipe's scream. the name of Alpha Trion's trimmed beard was that? Revolver's voice asked inside Sixshot's mind. I FELT that!

Dig Site, Optimus's Position

Diac's optics narrowed. Significant losses. And no Decepticons to blame it on. These were the work of Autobots -- or those who had been Autobots. "That is a tremendous loss." Diac replied to Furos, then continued. "Ginrai's... new partner? Ah, yes, Pyro fell. Pyro. such a promising recruit, despite his... condition."

Primus apotheosis. The mental disease where Autobots would try to emulate Optimus Prime's behaviour and physical appearance, often leading to a suicidal Messianic charge towards insurmountable odds in the name of victory.

The very same mental disease that Diac knew will await him, as it had claimed Hi-Q, Apex and the others.

Diac tried not to think about that.

"Who is Ginrai's new partner, pray tell?" Diac asked Furos. He frowned at Furos's other comment. Yes, the Decepticons are ragtagged, and a couple of weeks ago Diac would have cheered, made some wisecrack about how the Decepticons deserved what was coming to them. But this was a tragedy of their own making. The combiners were living, walking proof of the destruction they have wrought unto their own race, and Diac took no pride in allowing that to happen.

"Affirmative." Perceptor nodded at Furos's final sentence. "I share Furos's sentiment. It has been difficult for any of us to know what our primary objective is beyond the vagueness of securing the dig site -- a feat we have failed monumentally, as I note, considering our enemies are sharing said dig site with us. I cannot find a truly logical conclusion as to why we are defending an archaeological dig surrounded by rabid combiners."

Really should have told some of them about the main plan... Another failure for the day. Diac had assumed that either he or Optimus would be online to answer questions, to direct the troops, but of course, that didn't quite happen. Perceptor looked at him, his face impassive yet the glare from Perceptor's one good eye bored into him. Even Cerebros glanced up from his work in anticipation of Diac's reply, before quickly busying himself with repairing Optimus's body.

Diac glanced at Scourge and Fracas briefly, and shook his head. "It was... a mistake. A mistake on my part not to keep you informed, Furos. And I apologize. I promise, I will tell you... everything. Once we are out of prying ears."
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