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2017-12-27 Schism

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Schism
Date 2017/12/27
Location Cybertron -- Kaon
Participants Megatron, Deathsaurus
Summary I know the pieces fit

'Cause I watched them fall away
Mildewed and smoldering

Fundamental differing.

Cybertron. The southern hemisphere. The barrens. Tectonic plates of molten metal only recently cooled, interrupted by new and alien mountains thrust out of the planet's core. The edges, where the iron and titanium was broken, have not yet had time to rust. It is a new Cybertron, a world that none of them recognize. The familiar spires of Iacon, a facsimile made by Metroplex, disguises the true nature of what has befallen their world. Beyond that are only the wilds.

Megatron stands alone, at the appointed meeting place. Some random patch of iron that is meaningful only for what the coordinates once led to, millions of years ago. Kaon once stood in this place, the Kolkular blotting out the horizon and shrouding the warrens in darkness. Now only one mech stands in an unremarkable plain, bounded in the distance by random peaks and the curve of the planet. Megatron contemplates the horizon. Watching, waiting.

Above, a glowing speck grows to become a winged shape, glowing with the heat of entry into Cybertron's atmosphere. As it grows closer and the light fades, its wings start to flap, more in show than in need due to the thin Cybertronian atmosphere, and the shape resolves to that of a reptilian, fearsome angles and curves. The creature approaches the lone mech with purposeful pushes of its broad wings, but does not come too close: at about half a klik away, it finally comes to the level of the ground, and after a few more flaps unfolds into the root mode of Deathsaurus, currently Supreme Commander of the Decepticons. His feet crunch down onto the newly virgin surface of the planet. Far above, a small, faint spot of light marks the location of the Prepotent, Deathsaurus's currently designated flagship. Not that it will do much good that far away, if such a need arises.

Deathsaurus notably does not bow to the erstwhile Decepticon leader. That mantle is his, and he bears it even now, and a Decepticon leader bows to none. "Megatron."

If he watches Deathsaurus approach, Megatron gives no sign. His gaze is fixed on the horizon, as if keeping his own counsel even as he has invited Deathsaurus onto this desolate plain. The tyrant's hands are clasped behind him, but the fusion cannon is clearly in evidence. He did not come unarmed, but neither is his posture challenging. Megatron does not acknowledge Deathsaurus until the latter speaks his name. In that moment his crimson optics snap to, focusing on the other mech's face. "Deathsaurus." He repeats. Megatron takes a half-step back, turning his body so that he is in profile to Deathsaurus. The move may be ambiguous, as now the fusion cannon, if it were to be raised, is on a perfect line to the so-called Decepticon leader, but Megatron's posture is also inviting, as if asking Deathsaurus to look beyond him. "Do you know where we are?" Megatron gestures with his offhand.

Already, Deathsaurus assesses that this is going better than expected. Somewhat perfunctorily he sweeps his own gaze across the horizon: desolation, emptiness. But of course he is aware of what was once here. He's willing to indulge Megatron, as harmless as the effort is to himself. "Of course. Currently, nowhere. Once, Kaon." Whether it's conscious or not, he cannot help but also turn his own frame to face the same direction as Megatron's.

"Kaon, yes, but more specific than that." Megatron turns back to Deathsaurus, then inclines his head over him. "We stand in what was once the Theater of Nominus. If I have reckoned correctly, you are standing in the same place where the statute of the false Prime once stood." Megatron moves, then, pacing slowly and deliberately, as if tracing out the metes and bounds of the long gone structure. "It was here, four million years ago, where the Senate had its last meeting." He turns fully then, once again facing Deathsaurus. Hands clasped behind his back. "Before the Decepticons killed them all. On my order. That day, four million years ago, when we became more than a mere movement. The day we became masters of this world." A smile tugs at the edges of Megatron's mouth, though by the time he is finished he is smirking. "But you weren't there, were you? You are too young. Your spark did not flare until the war, my war, was well underway."

Deathsaurus watches, as drolly as he can muster (which isn't very drolly at all) as Megatron paces and lectures. Of course Deathsaurus knows his history, even if he himself wasn't yet alive to experience it firsthand. "I was not. I am warborn. But you know this, of course." Yes, born of your war, old man. But he attempts to betray none of his youthful (perhaps only two million years' worth) impetuousness, and similarly clasps his own hands behind his back. His four optics remain trained on Megatron, but he doesn't show any signs of aggression. Just talking here.

"Something to reflect on." Megatron replies, apparently putting the subject to rest. He regards Deathsaurus from top to bottom, though his optics barely waver. "I suppose that, despite our efforts, Iacon remains the locus of power on Cybertron. While this..." He gestures to the not-Kaon. "Remains a waste." Megatron drops his arm. He is silent for a moment before proceeding. "I wonder, Deathsaurus, why you accepted Soundwave's invitation to interim command in my absence despite the fact that you had long abandoned the Decepticon cause."

Deathsaurus smiles, a broad smile, long awaited and finally free. His fangs even make a guest appearance as he accepts the gambit. "I have never abandoned the Decepticon cause, Megatron, I merely abandoned you." It takes effort, but he has practiced it, with his subordinates on his warworld, so he succeeds in tearing his gaze away from Megatron himself, and begins his own pacing. Stilted, yes, but it's a decent pacing, quite measured. "The Decepticon movement, more than a movement as you have said, is more than Kaon. Or Iacon. Or ... you." And the gambit is answered. He stops, and turns once again to face Megatron, and an observer might imagine he could topple Deathsaurus with a stray breath. "It is for all. You, and me, and all. And when Soundwave selected me, I accepted for all." Deathsaurus's chest puffs out slightly. He is not quite there yet.

Megatron's posture is rigid as he watches Deathsaurus pace and puff himself up. The tyrant's smirking smile dissipates as he listens to the other mech's words. His servos tense, audibly if not visibly, but his optics never leave the bestial Decepticon. Megatron does not interject, and once Deathsaurus is finished a silence hangs between them, long enough that one might think Megatron has been rendered speechless.

Megatron laughs. "Is that all?" The tyrant chuckles, shoulders shaking with mirth that may be real or forced. His new smile, at least, seems genuine. "I've heard many a speech from many a usurper, but none that was so...naive. Oh, yes, they've told me the Decepticons are more than me-they all must, of course-but this idea that you accepted for all?" Megatron steps forward, entering on the circuit of Deathsaurus's pacing. "And who is this all, Deathsaurus? Did you accept on behalf of Starscream, who would strip you to your servos the instant you dared to blink? For Rodimus, who would name himself Prime if only he had the competence to match his ambition? Ultra Magnus?" Megatron chuckles again. "Oh, Deathsaurus. What thin reeds you would-be usurpers grasp when you try and pretend that the Decepticons are anything but mine."

Deathsaurus doesn't know it, but the servos between his brows are able to compress the otherwise smooth metallic sheen above, and just that happens as he listens to Megatron. He's going off script now, but, well, it was probably inevitable. "They are the ones you sent to their DEATH." An index finger, taloned, jabs forward, and he doesn't even care if it strikes home. "They are the faithful who followed you even when you sent them to their doom not for the cause, but for your own glory!" Another jab. "The ones who had faith in you, who put all their trust in you, who surrendered their very lives to you, and who you sent to be SLAUGHTERED. For NOTHING." A jab. "For petty REVENGE." Jab. "For ... for the LAST WORD." Jab. "For ... for NOTHING." No jab this time, but his hand drops to his side again, and soon enough it sweeps back up, pointing to that speck in the distance. "I accepted for them, for my soldiers, who kept the faith without you, and despite you. And for all those who might flourish, flourish without being ... without you." There's a huff, a thin but proud huff, as if he is still able to draw his strength from them so many kliks away. "You talk of usurpers, but they came to me, on their own, and even without me, they won't come back to you."

Megatron stops just an inch short of those jabs. He's not worried about his paintjob, but appears to have calibrated his approach to deny Deathsaurus the satisfaction of feeling his talons strike home. As before, Megatron listens, though his expression is easier, as if he is indulging Deathsaurus rather than hanging on his every word. "I imagine, Deathsaurus," Megatron begins, "That if this goes the way that you hope it will, if I just...go away, and leave the Decepticons to you, one day you will stand where I am standing. One day, a young mech will be jabbing his finger at you, blaming you for the death of the soldiers under his command. And your spark will burn at his insolence. After all, he wasn't there. He wasn't standing on the bridge of the Prepotent, Unicron's maw full on his viewscreen, some deck officer screaming into his audial that the Harbingers have just broken the line. That mech, his rage so certain, so rehearsed that he can punctuate every accusation with a jab of his finger, has no notion of the decision you had to make: send his soldiers, his family, in to the maelstrom knowing how few might come out, or risk the collapse of the entire effort. You will stand where I am standing, Deathsaurus, and you fill feel what I feel and know what I know." Megatron steps forward, now very much in poking range. "That mech is weak. He loves his own too much. Fearful of losing them, of facing the pain that must come with command in a ruthless struggle such as this, he can only assign blame elsewhere." Megatron straightens. "It is a noble thing, to love your mechs, Deathsaurus. To care for them. But you will do them no favors if as a commander you think of anything other than victory. You cannot be permitted to lead, Deathsaurus, because you are unfit."

Megatron's elocution and presence are outstanding, and Deathsaurus is nearly taken in. Nearly. After a moment of silence on the desolate plain where the two Decepticons stand, he speaks. "A few things, Megatron. The way that I expect this to go is that you blast me to atoms." Another pause, longer this time, longer than Deathsaurus wanted but as short as he could manage. "Another thing is that I consult with my charges, we work together. I command and they obey, but we have trust in one another. If and when we face Unicron himself, and I send them to certain doom, they already know it is for the greater cause. Unlike with you." There's a jab there, but it's weak. It cannot reach Megatron. Deathsaurus's head is bowed, watching the metallic ground below for nothing. "And lastly, my 'fitness' is irrelevant. My soldiers have chosen me, and I serve them. Soundwave chose me, and I serve him. They judge whether I am fit. Not you."

Megatron grins, though this expression lacks the malice or derision he had earlier worn on his features. "Blast you to atoms?" Megatron shakes his head. "I do commend you for coming out this far. I was disappointed when you did not answer my summons and instead demanded that I meet you aboard your ship, surrounded by your soldiers. It should be obvious that you cannot pretend to command the Decepticons if you are afraid of me." Megatron doesn't step back, but he does move to the side, which has the effect of reimposing some distance between them. "I have other commanders, Deathsaurus, out there among the stars. Turmoil. Raptorion. Shockwave, whatever hole he has crawled into. I could call on any of them and they would serve me ably, and supply their own troops to this cause. But I am impressed that you are here and, despite it all, have stood your ground." Megatron turns around to face Deathsaurus again. "Have you ever wondered why I kept Starscream alive for so long?"

Deathsaurus is wary of being compared to Starscream, but isn't quite sure where this is going. He thinks of his own second-in-command, Leozack, so naive and pliant yet fierce and loyal. And potentially traitorous? "Honestly? Yes." He says nothing to defend himself against being afraid of Megatron. Only a fool isn't.

"It's a fair question." Megatron admits. He clasps his hands again. "After all, I have something of a reputation for not tolerating insubordination, when that is precisely the program that was etched upon Starscream's spark upon his making." Megatron grins again, though his posture relaxes. He seems at ease in the wastes, speaking only to Deathsaurus. "But there was a value to a dissenting voice. Someone who would keep me sharp. You cannot grow complacent in command. You must every day demonstrate you are worthy of it. If Starscream succeeded, then so be it. I would not be worthy." Megatron waves a black-armored hand, as if dismissing this design. "Now of course he believes that he has. He will realize his error soon enough." The tyrant's grin widens. "My point is, Deathsaurus, that I do not shy away from dissent, properly channeled and timely made. Soundwave saw some value in you, and I am willing to trust in his untainted judgment."

There's those unknown servos furrowing Deathsaurus's brow again. He lets another moment of silence on the windswept wastes elapse before replying. And then another. There is some thought put into the delay, It's unclear, but the words that come from him are measured and as firm as he can make them. "I am not the leader of the Decepticons only subject to your judgment, or Soundwave's, or any single personality." The four optics on Deathsaurus's face narrow, what are you playing at, so-called mighty Megatron. "I take counsel from my army, from the masses ..." Is this so much different from using a single individual as a foil? The thought that he is even slightly similar to Megatron makes Deathsaurus clench his masticators.

"You cannot claim to take counsel from the masses when you simultaneously claim to speak for them." Megatron replies, a knowing smirk on his features. "Dictatorship 101, my dear Deathsaurus. Once you embody the zeitgeist, no one individual can speak against you. The voice of the masses, which is your sole province to interpret, can always outweigh a single speaker." Megatron waves a hand again. "But I did not invite you here to watch you learn what I have long practiced. We are here for a practical matter." Megatron faces Deathsaurus full on now, arms at his sides. "Very soon I am going to call the Decepticons to me. For too long we have stood apart, when the moment demands our unity. Rodimus, through incompetence or malice, has unleashed a great terror upon the universe that only we can set to right. When that time comes, we will all be imperiled if the Decepticons do not stand together." Megatron draws himself up, servos tightening. "I am going to make this offer once. I will confirm you, Deathsaurus, as operational commander of the Decepticon forces. You will have Starscream's position, and Soundwave's position after him. There will be no more Lists, I have no time for such matters. All of our energy must be focused on our task. All Decepticons, not just your soldiers, will have amnesty if they return to the fold. You may continue to represent us on this Council of Worlds. We may yet need them, and if they trust you all the better. If you do not accept," Megatron lowers his helm, "You will be my enemy. That reckoning may not come while we are dealing with Unicron, but I have a long memory. Make your choice."

And so the ultimatum comes, as Deathsaurus expected. The amnesty offer, of course, that certainly would be there, and removal from the List (although with Tarn in chains what does that matter) as well. Remaining on the Council of Worlds, of course, that's no surprise, it wouldn't function with Megatron on it anyway. As Deathsaurus continues to weigh this offer that he knew was coming, he does finally notice that he's doing what he knew he would do, which is to really think about accepting it, and that thinking about it is something he'd already decided he shouldn't do, so that's the reason behind the long sigh that Megatron can hear.

Deathsaurus doesn't really puff his chest out this time, but it's firm, simply there, what it is. "It's a generous offer, Megatron ..." And he stops himself, and shakes his head. Megatron is an amazing, spectacular, singularly incredible being. So worthy of serving, if only. If only.

"No. I have all of those things now, because I am leader of the Decepticons. All Decepticons are already in the fold, my fold, our fold." Megatron's words do have impact on Deathsaurus ... has he already co-opted the voices of the masses? Is he a dictator? Maybe?

And Deathsaurus's thoughts flash back to a silly thing, a cookout. His Decepticons, eating and drinking and being themselves, while he watches over them, dines with them. His optics look over to one side, as memories of his times with them run through his mind. Is he worthy of them? Those optics snap back to Megatron. "My choice is no. But ..." and those optics close, and he cannot understand why he says these next words, "I want your help. To lead."

Megatron frowns. It's as if he really did expect that Deathsaurus would accept. The expression digs deep grooves into his faceplate and his optics turn darker. "If you have to tell yourself that you are leader of the Decepticons, you are not." Megatron replies, flatly. "Your choice is made. Free and clear. Regretful." Megatron turns to depart, walking away in what can only be the direction of the horizon. "I cast you out, Deathsaurus. You and all your crew. You are Decepticon no more. Do not expect that your prior affiliation will afford you any mercy in the days to come."

Deathsaurus had decided some time ago that his own answer would be no, and had expected that Megatron would reject that answer, and had also pretty much expected that they'd be shooting at each other by now. Somewhat unexpectedly, the shooting hasn't happened, but Deathsaurus had no idea he'd somehow ask for Megatron's help, and Megatron's rejection lands with a devastation that wounds and beguiles the apparently still Decepticon commander. There was a window, a sliver, a flash of time where things could have been different, better, but it snapped shut as soon as its rays reached Deathsaurus's optics. A hand reaches out as Megatron turns to leave, but falls limply again. "I remain a Decepticon, Megatron. My followers and I, Decepticons. My door remains open to you, to any who take up the cause."

Megatron can be heard to vent, a laugh. "He thinks he has a cause." That last more to himself. Megatron must have sent a signal, as Astrotrain can be seen in the distance, coming to pick him up. As great a desolate plain is for brooding or taking stock, there is work to be done.

Alone on the plain that was once Kaon, Deathsaurus watches Megatron fade into the distance. Once he's far enough away, seemingly, he converts into his dragon mode, and sinks to the barren surface, wings shielding him from the gusts, and thinks. He sends an all clear to the Prepotent, as a postscript to the transmission he's been sending this entire time, and which no doubt could only be received if Soundwave permits it, but he sends it regardless. On the surface he remains for a while, a mighty Decepticon leader, buffeted by winds on a desolate plain, heavy with the weight of his leadership, not able to soar again, not quite yet.

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