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Part 1 of a Transformers: Prime fanfiction based after the events of episode 19 "Rock Bottom"

Subtlety had never been one of Starscream's greatest assets. It seemed that, no matter how cautious and secretive he tried to be in his endeavours, someone always found him out – and more often than not, that 'someone' was Soundwave. How the voiceless intelligence officer had managed to achieve omniscience remained a mystery. Starscream couldn't fathom it – Soundwave was always listening, always watching. He'd known about what had happened amongst the debris out in space, when Starscream had removed the Dark Energon from their master's chest. He'd also known that Starscream had then tried to use the same shard to revive the fallen Skyquake. And, perhaps the most significant of all, he'd known about Starscream's private stash of energon in the supposedly abandoned mines. But this time – this time would be different. This time, Soundwave couldn't know.

Starscream paced the four corners of his cell in the bowels of the Nemesis, cradling his wounds as he tried to think up some way out of his predicament. Jaw clenched, he cast a fleeting glance at the sealed doorway – the only exit. Breakdown was standing guard outside, positioned with his back to the cell, barring the Seeker's only means of escape. Continuing to pace, Starscream let out a quiet growl of frustration. His servos ached from the effort of movement, but he refused to simply accept his punishment. How dare Megatron put him in here – lock him away like some petty war prisoner. But though the thought of finally snuffing his master's twisted spark thrilled him to the core, Starscream knew that the metaphorical ground on which he stood was far too fragile for impulsive actions. There was simply too big a risk; he could not afford to make even a single error now.

"Please, Lord Megatron! I did not mean for-!!"

Starscream's desperate plea for forgiveness was cut short as he found himself hurled back against the inner wall of the Nemesis. He slammed against the control panel of a nearby computer terminal, the impact shorting out its screen with a crunch of static. Crumpling gracelessly to the floor, he choked on energon that had ruptured from his internal systems – hacking and spluttering as the hot fluid welled up in his throat. Being treated like a punching bag was not a new experience to the Air Commander, but the pain of his master's fury was something that no amount of familiarity could lessen. Struggling to restore his air of dignity, he pushed himself up into a kneeling position. Uncontrollable shivers rocked his scratched and beaten frame, spawned from a mixture of fear and the Cybertronian equivalent of adrenaline, as he raised his optics to meet the pitiless glare of the Decepticon leader.

"I grow weary of listening to you beg for mercy, Starscream," growled Megatron, his voice dangerously soft as he approached his second in command. He came to a threatening halt, fists clenched, and stared down at his trembling inferior in obvious disgust. His very gaze burned with the desire to inflict further bodily harm to the Seeker, the look of a general who'd stepped in something unpleasant on his way to an important war meeting. "Your two-faced grovelling and constant, wretched attempts to assassinate me have finally grown too tedious to withstand."

Frantic, Starscream stole a glance over his master's jagged shoulder. His optics fell upon the perfectly still Soundwave. Eternally silent and impassive, the intelligence officer was flanked by an equally motionless crowd of Vehicons. Airachnid was standing beside him, with elegant servos folded and a cruel smile on her lips. Her smirk widened as Starscream met her gaze; she was evidently here for the show and savouring every moment of it. Knock Out and Breakdown were also present, watching from amongst the expressionless soldiers, similarly summoned by Megatron to witness as he made an example of the Seeker. Neither seemed particularly interested in proceedings, however; the medic cast jaded crimson optics over his own sharp fingers, perhaps inspecting them for scratches, as his bulky assistant idly inspected the closest wall.

It didn't take long for Megatron to notice that Starscream's attention had become divided. Baring serrated teeth, the Decepticon leader started forward again – each heavy step seeming to send tremors though the entire ship. Starscream realised that he'd made a grave error at once. With a start, he doubled over and pressed his forehead to the floor; beginning to splutter an urgent apology.

He got no further than stammering his master's name. Megatron's pronged foot rammed hard into his side, sending the Seeker sprawling across the floor with a snarl of pain. The Vehicons scrambled to get out of the way as his battered, bleeding body screeched to a halt at the base of the computer terminal, watching as he coughed up more precious energon. Megatron sank slowly into a crouch; Starscream gasped in surprise as the sharp digits of his master's right hand closed around his chin, forcing their optics to meet once more.

"But pathetic as you are… you may yet be of some use to me," breathed Megatron. He could feel his second in command shaking beneath his fingertips, see his own sinister reflection in the trickles of blue liquid that oozed from both corners of his mouth. "Out of the generosity of my spark, I decided to rescue you from certain death in that cave… and now choose to give you one final opportunity to redeem yourself. But know this, dear Starscream – after today, there will be no more second chances. Is that understood?"

"Perfectly, master…" Starscream managed to reply, in tones constricted by agony. Megatron released him at once, scowling as he dropped his gaze back to the blue-spattered floor and struggled for breath. The Decepticon leader cast him one final glare before rising from his crouch, and turned on his heel to head for the doorway that led out into the corridors of the ship.

"Get that pile of scrap metal out of my sight," Megatron snapped, as the crowd of Vehicons quickly parted to let him through. "Put him somewhere he can reflect on past mistakes… perhaps a night in the brig will remind him where he stands."

Starscream glowered silently after his master, not resisting as two faceless soldiers emerged from the crowd and took hold of his arms beneath the elbows. The troopers hauled him upright, but did not loosen their grip even after pulling him to his feet. Starscream clenched his jaw as the door slid shut behind Megatron, suddenly aware that every single pair of optics in the room was now focused on him. It wasn't a feeling he particularly enjoyed – not under present circumstances, anyway. Normally he would bask in the attention of his inferior officers; but now that Megatron had made certain to thoroughly humiliate him before the troops, he would much rather they looked elsewhere.

As he allowed the two Vehicons to escort him toward the exit, Starscream held his head high in attempt to preserve what little of his dignity remained. His efforts were in vain, however; the scornful chuckle that Airachnid let slip through her lips was enough to tell him so. True to form, Soundwave watched him go by in motionless silence beside her – but Knock Out averted his gaze as the Air Commander passed. Starscream thought it curious that the medic was turning down the opportunity to poke fun at him. Breakdown, on the other hand, followed the convoy intently with his one functional optic, something close to satisfaction on his faceplates.

"My, my," sneered Airachnid. She narrowed her magenta-coloured optics, smirking cynically. "What a delightful mess we've gotten ourselves into."

Starscream chose not to fall for her taunt, instead biting back a bitter retort as the troopers escorted him to the brig. They marched him right up to the door of an open cell, the same one he himself had personally used to imprison and interrogate an arrogant human prior to the space bridge explosion, and released their hold of his servos. For once knowing better than to challenge his master's wishes, he walked himself inside; scowling as the Vehicons closed and sealed the door behind him.

He estimated that at least three megacycles must have passed since then. A part of him was grateful that Breakdown was the one assigned to guard the door of his cell, since he suspected that Airachnid or Knock Out would have snatched at the opportunity to torment him to no end. Such an irritating farce would have only served to distract him from thinking up a solution to the current quandary.

'One final opportunity to redeem myself, hmm?' thought Starscream. He grimaced at the prospect of failing to comply with Megatron's wishes. He had to – as the humans would say – get back in his good books, whatever a book might be. Failing to do so was the equivalent of signing his own death warrant, and that was unacceptable.

He needed a plan – something big – something that even the mighty Megatron couldn't conceive of. The last time he had attempted to concoct a scheme of that magnitude, it had backfired with disastrous consequences. Stealing the lens from that human telescope had been an elaborate strategy, an exotic one that he felt Megatron would never have envisaged. Maybe that was so… but perhaps it had been the wrong kind of 'big'. Megatron would never be satisfied with mere energon, no matter the quantity. Even surrendering the entirety of his private stockpile would likely not be enough. An alternate approach was ultimately necessary, if Starscream was to survive the solarcycle.

"So think…" he muttered to himself, a slight limp beginning to hinder his pace. "What is it that Megatron wants most… more than energon, more than anything in the universe?"

Optimus Prime. The Seeker let out a humourless breath of laughter at the prospect. There was not a chance in the Void that he could draw Prime out alone, separating him from the rest of those infernal Autobots, much less lead him aboard the Nemesis and straight into Megatron's hands. So much for that option.

Starscream faltered as the crest on his forehead made contact with something solid. His audio processors were filled with the sound of metal clinking gently against metal, a delicate noise that didn't belong on a warship. He looked up to see two sets of chains attached to the ceiling, swaying lightly where his crest had caught them. After staring at them in perplexity for a moment, he remembered the reason for their installation. The troops had used them to restrain that disrespectful human, the one called Fowler, while they interrogated him for the location of -

A thought suddenly struck Starscream, monumental in all its simplicity. Perhaps he could not lead Optimus Prime aboard the Nemesis – but maybe he could lead Megatron directly to the Autobot base.

He dropped his optics to the floor, thinking quickly. Of course… how ironic that the answer to his prayers was so cataclysmically simple. If he could learn where the Autobots had been hiding all this time, pointing Megatron to their exact position would surely grant him the redemption he sought. But… his spark sank as he realised that Megatron would never allow it. It was highly unlikely that he would let the treacherous Seeker off of his ship anytime soon; much less have him disappear in search of the enemy.

Still…this could be the only way.

Starscream turned to steal another glance at Breakdown through the tiny section of glass in the door. The bulky soldier was still facing away from him, standing guard outside the cell, head drooping slightly as though in a daze. Starscream studied him for a moment, thinking. Before even beginning to figure out how he would locate the Autobot base, he had to get out of this infernal room.

He clamped a hand to his side, over the dented panels of his chassis where Megatron had kicked him, and let out a weak groan. Doubling over where he stood, he rearranged his faceplates into a pained expression and placed a hand on the wall as though using it for support.

It took several nanokliks for Breakdown to realise that something was supposedly wrong inside the cell. "You alright in there?" he asked, peering uncertainly in through the tiny window.

"I…" Starscream began, before dropping suddenly to his knees as though they'd given way beneath him; sharp fingers screeching against the wall as he 'fell'. Breakdown moved closer to the window, lowering his gaze for a moment as he punched a swift code into the numerical panel beside the door. The locks hissed open and the door quickly followed suit; Breakdown hurried into the cell and knelt beside where Starscream was hunched against the wall. He assisted the Seeker into a more comfortable sitting position, flinching as he gasped in supposed pain beneath the larger Decepticon's fingertips.

Breakdown inspected Starscream's battered chassis for a few kliks, studying the deep abrasions in its metal contours. "Megatron really did a number on you, huh?" he muttered. The Seeker engineered a second agonised moan, slightly more urgent than the first, and shuttered his optics. "I'm gonna take you to sickbay – have Knock Out check you over."

With clumsy difficulty, Breakdown helped Starscream to his feet and eased one of the Seeker's long arms around the back of his neck. Starscream made sure to stagger a little as the medic's assistant walked him out of the cell, maintaining the charade just long enough to allow Breakdown to escort him into the corridor.

The hallway was dark, cold, and void of Vehicons. After noting that they were completely alone, Starscream dropped his guise and threw off Breakdown's arm; turning on his heel to sprint for the nearest exit. The much burlier Decepticon stumbled slightly in surprise, jaw falling slack as the sound of rapid footsteps told him that the Seeker was making his escape. Breakdown armed his shoulder-cannon at once, taking aim at the retreating form of his superior officer.

"Stop right there, Starscream!" he called, balling both fists in open threat.

Starscream skidded to a halt, whipping around to face his subordinate. "You owe me, Breakdown," he hissed in threatening tones, pointing a long finger at his fellow Decepticon. "I rescued your sorry hide from those who held you captive!"

Breakdown hesitated, repeatedly clenching and unclenching his jaw. Starscream interpreted his silence to be an admission of defeat and took a slow step back, testing for a reaction. When Breakdown didn't move, the Air Commander allowed a smirk to crease his faceplates. He turned his back to the medic's assistant, and set off at a run down the hall.

Aboard the Nemesis' flight deck, Megatron had already begun to suspect that something was amiss. The ship was oddly quiet – too quiet. He had always possessed the uncanny ability to sense when not all was as it seemed, and this instance was no different. It was a niggling feeling that couldn't quite be pinned down, but he had a good idea of whom it concerned. If ever there was any trouble aboard his ship, Starscream was sure to be the cause.

An alarm began to sound all of a sudden, blaring through the halls of the Nemesis. Airachnid was at the surveillance terminal in an instant, lethal fingers tapping away at its control panel in a frenzy. Suspicions confirmed, Megatron approached her from across the deck as the siren abruptly cut to silence.

"What is happening?" he demanded.

"Proximity alert," she replied smoothly, glancing back to momentarily meet her commander's stare. "Someone's outside the ship without authorisation. I'm pulling up a visual as we speak."

Identical video feeds suddenly filled every single monitor on the deck in unison, showing a partially cloud-obscured section of the Nemesis' hull. A battered F-16 streaked through the mist, fleeing the ship, wingtips trailing moisture as it soared away like a bullet.

"Starscream," growled Megatron, narrowing his optics. "He dares disobey me yet again?!"

Airachnid was genuinely surprised to learn that the Seeker had managed to escape. She turned to her superior for instructions, recovering from shock just enough to revel in the possibility of seeing the Air Commander suffer more glorious punishment. "Your orders, Lord Megatron?" she asked.

The Decepticon leader slammed a hand onto the control panel, opening an audio channel that was transmitted through the entire ship. "Shoot him down!" he roared.

The Nemesis' external weapon systems came online at once, secondary turrets rotating in place to target Starscream. Their Vehicon operators let fly a barrage of missile fire, the projectiles shrieking through the air in pursuit of the Seeker. If not for the sound, Starscream would never have realised that he was under fire in time. Gasping in panic; he strafed this way and that, diving and weaving between the oncoming missiles at speeds impossible for a regular fighter jet. He might have thought his impulsive manoeuvring impressive, had he not been flying for his life.

Despite his efforts, a blast inevitably clipped his wing and knocked him off-course – propelling him into the path of a second missile. Unable to pull up in time, he caught the shot squarely in the underside; the explosion that followed ripping free great chunks of panelling and metal from his chassis. Snarling in pain and unable to control his descent; Starscream found himself plummeting toward the Earth, toward solid ground. Trailing black smoke and debris, he spiralled end over end in the clutches of gravity – and crashed down into the rocky sands of Nevada.
Word count - 2939

Next - ???
Chapter list - [link]

Before the episode aired, ~Terra-Akala and I discussed our thoughts of what might happen in 'Partners'. We thought that Starscream wanted to become an Autobot so that he could finally learn the location of their base and report it to Megatron, to redeem himself for "past mistakes". Trust me to turn those ideas into a new fanfiction! :lmao:

In case you couldn't tell, I really enjoyed writing as Airachnid. A female character from my own story has an almost identical personality to her, so I'm surprisingly comfortable with the spider-bot :XD:

Transformers (C) Hasbro
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TheBattyCrow Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
This is so good! I really hope you continue, you've piqued my interest! :)
OreoCat14 Featured By Owner May 19, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Please write the next part and post it~ I really like how the story is progressing!! <3
dery-muffin Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
omg please wright the next chapter 
Lovershlaser Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2013
Oh wow! Why did I not come across this any sooner???
Loved reading this! Totally awesome stuff!
Silverstar3 Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
This is awesome sauce!
Challenger2012 Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I really love this first chapter. I hope you'll write another one soon; I'm dying to know what happens next!
IrkenConfederate Featured By Owner May 20, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You gonna post a new chapter?
daughterofMyou Featured By Owner May 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Hopefully soon, but no promises - I've been really busy lately D:
IrkenConfederate Featured By Owner May 21, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Okay, thanks for replying.
grievousorvenom Featured By Owner May 13, 2012  Student Photographer
hope you post a new part shortly
Gingerlulu Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2012
This is fantastic. I do so enjoy the angst of my favorite characters, and Starscream is no exception. You captured everyone's personalities perfectly, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
honeybear1200 Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2012
I can't wait to see what Starscream has up his sleeve this time. Please keep writing.
indigofire1o9 Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2011
Wow. That was friggggggin amazzzinngggg! :D :jawdrop: Cant wait fer moreee x33
diedott Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2011  Student General Artist
That was awesome! Please continue! I can't wait to see more! :lol: :D
TCLindsay Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Hellz yeah! This is what I expected to see out of Partners XD Lol! Rather then this weird stuff with the imobilizer which is AN AUTOBOT INVENTION RAWR! :chainsaw: gah I still can't believe they turned it into something the D'cons would invent >.<; totally an Autobot thing 'cause the A-bots don't always like to kill other 'bots.

But seriously I'm loving the characterization in this :D it's totally awesome XD Especially the way Megatron is talking ;) Rockin' on girl!

Ok face spam time :D
daughterofMyou Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Sweet :XD: Perhaps the 'Cons stole it from Wheeljack way back when? ;P

Hehe, I rather like writing as ol' Megs. I can delve into the breadth of an extensive vocabulary and order imperceptive fools around in a lofty manner. Kinda like real life. :evillaugh:
TCLindsay Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
LMFAO YES gah I hate going to work and having to turn my brain off >>; one day I forgot and I went through a whole spiel and the people were like :iconblankplz: XD

Maybe they did O_O damn those Decepticons!
Rinzler-n-Daft-Punk Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Student General Artist
Aww, Breakdown cares a little for Starscream~!!!
daughterofMyou Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Perhaps, but I think he mostly wants to be 'even' with him after what happened between them a few episodes ago ;P
Rinzler-n-Daft-Punk Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Student General Artist
Hehe, I can see that
kairon92 Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Starscream's "You owe me, Breakdown" surprisingly made me giggle. This is going along pretty well!
Felina-Faerlaingal Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011
Look great!
I really love your fanfic!
awsomexgirl123 Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011
I like it. can't wait for chapter 2.^^
SteelBlastAreya Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Student General Artist
Ooohh! I love it when Screamer turned around and told Breakdown he owned him XD lol keep writing awesomeness!
Fire-Redhead Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Awesome! Very well written and you have the characterizations down remarkably well. The beating was graphic and very on key to what we'd expect for our Poor Starscream. I will follow this.
CrescentMoonDemon Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
MADE OF WIN!!!!! MUST READ MORE!!!!! :iconiloveitplz:
KillMarioLoveBowser Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Student Writer
EPICNESS! I want more! :iconohjoyplz:
McRiggs Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
please don't stop, there must be more
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