From Transformers: Lost and Found
|Location||Castigator - Megatron's Worldsweeper|
|Summary||Can't willfully ignore the fact forever.|
The space around the Castigator is abuzz with activity. Seekers and engineering mechs work to prepare capturing ships and the Worldsweeper itself for the impending mission to Luna 1. Unlike when Prowl visited, there is no orchestrated show of force for Soundwave. He sees the preparations as they are.
Megatron is not there to greet Soundwave when he arrives on the Worldsweeper. He is pawned off to a junior officer who escorts him through the ship to where he is told Megatron is waiting. All around him Soundwave can sense something that is so familiar but which has been missing from his life these past years: the unified purpose that animates a Decepticon army on the brink of an operation, all of the parts of Megatron's grand design coming into harmony with one another.
Soundwave is taken to the top of the Worldsweeper, its observation deck. Familiar faces stream past him as he waits: Turmoil, the field general, Raptorion, the seeker commander, and others who occupied middle echelons of the Decepticon command structure but who in these days have come to stand at Megatron's side. When the room is clear, Soundwave is ushered in. The red rings of Ramophon curve above Megatron, who stands in front of a holo-projector above which an ethereal Luna 1 slowly turns.
"Ah, Soundwave." Megatron greets the prodigal mech. "Anticipating my needs, as always. I did not have to send for you." The tyrant straightens and looks to his old servant. If he notices the new head, he doesn't comment.
Soundwave did not wait to have his old head reattached. After a very thorough cleaning, he now boasts more spare heads than anyone else on this ship. But he has his own again. He didn't stop to have it painted and polished, however. Facemask and visor in place, he left the Lost Light with hardly a word.
His walk among the Worldsweeper is as even and unevocative as his monotone. He doesn't stop to watch or look around- he keeps looking straight as he follows his escort in silence. The same silence that greet Turmoil. That meets Raptorion. That meets any mech. It even graces Megatron, briefly.
But Soundwave bows his silver head, arm crossing over the front of his chest. "Lord Megatron. I have brought battle plans from the Lost Light."
"Very good." Megatron gestures for Soundwave to come closer. "I had thought to call a war council, but there may be some who would chafe at my...direct command. The issue is too important." He extends a black-armored hand to receive the plans. "Prowl does have a certain low tactical cunning. What he proposes may be...salvageable." Megatron inclines his head, now regarding Soundwave's fresh dome piece. "You were in a hurry to come here. The plans do not warrant that." The tyrant fixes Soundwave with his optics. "A fixed face, but turmoil underneath. I know you too well, Soundwave, for you to pretend this is your only purpose in coming to my ship."
Soundwave steps forward, closer to Megatron. Its not an unusual range for him to be in- tho he was usually always behind him. He doesn't not anything about Prowl's tactical prowress- arguing against Megatron's opinion of the Autobot is far beyond a lost cause. He presses the dataslug into Megatron's palm without immediately removing his own hand.
"I was fairly certain you wouldn't notice the change, you hardly did for the last." Slowly, his hand lowers and leaves the dataslug to his leader. The light in his visor narrows. "You called me a traitor. I wonder if you know me at all, my lord."
Megatron turns away from Soundwave when the datastick is proferred and surrendered. He inserts it into the display terminal and allows Prowl's plans to unfold in all their holographic glory. "Mmmm." He considers it for a moment, finger curling around his prominent chin. "We can perhaps work with this." The tyrant turns to Soundwave only then, finally addressing his concerns. "So. In your mind you did not betray me, then? One who betrays his lord is a traitor, Soundwave. Or do you disagree?"
Soundwave hasn't had a jaw in a while. So it takes a minute of working out its sudden clench before he can respond. "Doing what is right by you and the cause even if you cannot see or understand it is not betrayal. I never betrayed you, therefore I am no traitor..."
"Hmm." Megatron consider this response. Despite Soundwave's defiance, the tyrant seems remarkably calm. Is, remarkably calm, if Soundwave should care to peek into his thoughts. "We have known one another and worked together for a very long time, Soundwave." He traces the path of one of the holosoldiers, diverting it in accordance with his own whims. "You knew me before I had a fusion cannon, much less an army. What did I have then, Soundwave? When I had no weapons?"
Soundwave watches Megatron warily. The last time his guard was down, he got a fusion cannon almost through the spark. But talk of the old days softens him around the edges. He turns aways just so so he can look at the rings of the planet beyond. "You had a sense of justice and equality I never felt from another... And you had the passion to make such impossible dreams a reality. You were a promise to mechs like me- born into a gutter and left to scrounge under the thumb of the Senate. You have everyone hope for a new day with your writings, your speeches. By just your spark beating..." He looks back. "And the Decepticon Cause was once all of that as well."
"Yes. My writings." Megatron replies. He turns to look out upon the rings himself, the site of a great battle and defeat, many millenia past. "The only way I could express that. Mechs gave their lives to ensure that my voice reached the masses. We are all indebted to them. The Decepticon cause does not stand without them." Hands clasped behind his back, Megatron turns to look at Soundwave. "And what did you do, Soundwave? You consorted with a mech who once had pretensions to primacy. You went to Vector Sigma, to receive some vision or commune with it, I don't know. Something Optimus would have done. And then?" Megatron turns back to the celestial display. "You silenced me. Suppressed my writings, without warning, without discussion. You acted, Soundwave, as if you were a Prime yourself. A betrayal so fundamental, so deep...only your years of loyal service preserved your life."
"I am nothing like the Primes!" Soundwave's fists clench and he works on easing his fingers into a simple curl as he speaks. "I was sick. I have been shadowplayed, conditioned, brainwashed- brainwashed by a species so insidious you can't detect your own infection. Vector Sigma cured me and your writings rallied those against it. I could not let the only thing that could heal you and countless others perish because you don't realize your own infection! But you would not know that because you silenced me- you wouldn't let me explain and you had Starscream tear my vocoder from me."
Soundwave cycles his vents, pulling back to center himself. "... I didn't intend for it to silence you. Not like that. But... You must understand, my lord."
Megatron allows Soundwave to rant at him, the red rings occupying his attention while his subordinate speaks. "Perhaps so." Is all Megatron allows. "But the act was done. Without explanation. You judged me as the old regime did. Silence Megatron first, then the power belongs to them." He turns to Soundwave. "I dealt with you as I dealt with the Primes. I need understand no more than what plainly occured..." The tyrant trails off, optics narrowing. "I have never given Starscream an order to tear out your vocoder." Megatron squares up to Soundwave. "As if I would ever trust him with such a task. No, I decided long ago that if ever you should betray me...it would be my own hand that addressed it. So where did that notion come from? Are you so sure, Soundwave, that you have not traded one puppetmaster for another? That these Autobots to whom you cling so desperately have guided you rightly?"
"Has everything I've done for you mean so little that you would compare me to Primes- the Senate?" Soundwave stares at Megatron, visor ticking from crimson to scarlet. He weighs his options carefully. Of all the things he'd say. What he could say. What he won't. In the end, he says: "I recently visited a universe in which the Decepticons won the war. The lineage of Primes was ended, the Autobots beaten, and a reborn Cybertron was ours... What do you think this world looked like, Lord Megatron?"
"How interesting." Megatron allows himself just a shadow of a smirk. "Did you know that Optimus Prime asked me a very similar question, not too long ago?" He can't help but tweak Soundwave just one more time. "And I will tell you what I told him. When the war is over, and I have won, and Cybertron is mine...the real work will begin." He looks out on nothingness, but Soundwave can see the future come together in the tyrant's mind. "I will rebuild Cybertron. I will repopulate our race. We will take our place in the stars, a shining civilization where all are equal and all provided for, and none need suffer because of their frame or function. And I will be above it all, duty-bound to my people to provide that future. A tyrant, yes, but a slave to them, ultimately. An endless service, and peace to all who submit to my rule."
Soundwave's head bows, going beyond just listening to Megatron's spoken words. He can see it. The paradise Megatron imagines he can make for their race. But... "I see... And the Autobots? They would have a place in this world you would rule?" he asks blandly, like he had simply spouted an equation needed solving. No emotion betrays him as he stews within his own, private thoughts.
"I would accept the surrender of those Autobots who saw the true way, at long last." Megatron replies, still looking through the viewport. "The rest...well. They fought me and the future I would bring for four million years. I doubt they would want to experience it anyway." He says this without a note of malice. To the tyrant, it is a fact.
Soundwave falls to a knee, bowed forward. It looks like a show of posturing, but it feels like his spark has been shot. "Lord Megatron," he says, a slight waver to his synthesizer. He braces his hands against the floor before picking himself up. "You cannot have a world of equality if you rule it. 'And your betters? You have none.' You wrote that. Please tell me you have not forgotten it. The you from this other world seemed to have lost all that once enraptured me. He took my voice because of three questions you posed yourself." Beat. "Will you do the same if I were to ask you them right now?"
Megatron remains impassive through Soundwave's emotional display. It's as he said: lots of turmoil under that impassive faceplate. "I also wrote Peace Through Tyranny." Megatron replies. "Who, exactly, did you think that tyrant would be?" He turns to face Soundwave. "You are trying my patience, Soundwave. I have indulged you long enough. There is a vital role for you to play in the upcoming assault, if we are to be successful. I must know that I can trust you, as I have before."
"Your patience," Soundwave repeats. His visor dims and he tilts his head away. "Indulge me. Trust you..." He vents softly before straightening. "What would you use me for, Lord Megatron?"
Megatron fixes Soundwave with his optics. A fist clenches behind his back and Soundwave can feel Megatron's rage rising within him, no longer constrained or held back. "Are you quite finished?" He asks. "You mope and you sulk...the only mechs who ever feared you were the ones who never saw you nurse a petty grievance." Megatron waves a hand. "If you have something to say, Soundwave, then say it. I have had enough of your petulance."
Soundwave stands there, joints locked. Face inscrutable. "I watched you die, the you from this other universe. The you without me... That is all. As previously stated: What would you use me for, Lord Megatron?"
Megatron laughs, a harsh chuckle that cycles out of his vents. "Truly, either you are lying or this universe is more different from ours than I thought. I achieve victory, but am then destroyed? Impossible." Megatron turns away, back to the mockup of Luna 1. "Now that we can return to the work at hand. Our offensive must be decisive, but it cannot fall on the Harbingers directly. They are too powerful. At most, we could hold them off..." He reaches out, spinning the glowing world. "We need a diversion. You are to spread the word, Soundwave, that Optimus Prime is having difficulties with his transwarp systems and is looking to expand our space bridge network so that his strike force can more ably meet Harbinger threats. There is only one place in the galaxy where one might expand the space bridge network." The globe zooms in to the titan graveyard, rows upon rows upon rows of dead titans. "Optimus Prime will lead a diversionary attack on the titan graveyard to draw off Harbinger forces, while our main assault strikes at the Harbinger citadel. The Lost Light crew has the knowledge and the expertise. They must be the ones to enter the citadel. My forces must provide the bulwark that permits them to accomplish their task."
Soundwave watches the holographic image turn and zoom in. The talk of tactics reminds him of the past. When the war was young, insular... And Lord Megatron saw the threat of organic life and begin planning the cyberforming phases as he waged war on Autobots and organics. A two front war they had impossibly gained ground to. And, oh, how his spark aches to look at the back of Megatron's head again. He presses his fingertips against his thighs. "Understood, Lord Megatron. I will update Prowl and Ignition on these developments. And what of when we best them and win this battle?"
"Then on to Unicron." Megatron declares, voice echoing off the walls, as if he has no reservations that they will actually push that far. It's strange that he chose this place, Ramaphon, to stage his attack. One of the many sites of the Battle of the Six Systems, when the Constellate was decisively defeated by the very organics Megatron had long persecuted. "But I suspect you mean after that." He turns. "The war is over. I accept this. It cannot continue as it has. I count Optimus Prime...if not an ally, then at least we are on the same side. Starscream rules a Cybertron that stretches across unknown colonies. This is a new future, and one that must be adapted to." Megatron looks out the viewport. "After Unicron? I cannot abandon my ideals, Soundwave. I cannot turn my back on what I have strived for for so long. I am who I am. I cannot betray that." The tips of his fingers tap against his clasped hands. "But, I suppose first we shall have to celebrate."
Soundwave's head lifts and its hard to resist the glimmer of hope when Megatron recognizes the end of the war. Even Starscream's rule, as much as he has insulted it in the past. He steps forward, closer. Drawn to such an idea- to live post-war and pursue the Decepticon ideals. And of the idea of celebrating. "Yes, a celebration sounds appropriate. I have been saving a glass of engex to share with you for far too long, my lord... And after, you can join the Lost Light. The Cause's ideals, they're working in action on that ship. I've witnessed it. It could be perfect."
Megatron nods to his former lieutenant. He does not respond to the sentiments, or respond to the Lost Light invitation. "You have your orders, Soundwave." The tyrant notes, his tone curt. "Nothing will come to pass unless the Harbingers and then Unicron are defeated. That is our task now. Our sole focus. Keep the goal in sight, Soundwave." Megatron steps back to his map. "You are dismissed. Linger on the ship, if you desire. Inform Prowl I will review his plans and incorporate what is worth incorporating into the overrall plan."
Soundwave hesitates, a hand hovering in the air, before placing his arm over his chassis. "Yes, Lord Megatron," he says hollowly. A foot slips back before he turns sharply to march out. He does not linger on the ship.