“Clearly,” Megatron said, mouth cocked in an amused smirk, as they added another clamp over his wrists, “your mechs could use a refresher on what ‘surrender’ means.”
“Not like you’ve given us a lot of opportunities,” Jazz said. His gun never wavered from Megatron’s face, as they proceeded through the hallways of Omega Supreme heading, Megatron presumed, to some novelty in captivity.
Though he never expected anything less.
Jazz gave Prowl a puzzled glance, across Megatron’s body, which got waved off with a brisk swipe of the hand. Megatron caught the gaze, the gesture, his smile deepening. Keeping secrets from each other? And the Autobots held to some moral high ground, clinging to it with all the desperate strength of drowning delusion.
Jazz turned back. “Trusting a lot to my good nature,” he snarled.
“Am I? Or do I merely trust you don’t want to…indulge yourself with so many witnesses?” Because, Megatron knew, there were different kinds of brutality, and the kind he himself chose to indulge right now was a little more refined.
“Please.” A small mech, white and red, pushed in front of Jazz, standing between him and Megatron. “He surrendered. It’s just words, Jazz.”
“Just words,” Jazz echoed. “First Aid, nothin’s ‘just words’ from Megatron.”
“First Aid has a point,” Prowl said. The blue optics lifted to meet Megatron’s steadily for a moment, as they continued walking down the brightly lit corridor. Waste, Megatron thought, such waste, all this energy. As though they have all the power in the world. “Megatron has no power, except what we give him.”
Oh, so untrue, Megatron thought, and a retort bubbled on his mouth. But he knew when to retrench his position. He’d made his point with Jazz, after all. Hard as the special operations mech might think he was, he was easily bruised. And that might prove useful in the future. He held up his bound hands, showing his open palms, turning his attention—his real attention, the one that targeted like a laser sight, searching out vulnerabilities—to this First Aid.
“He still has rights,” First Aid said. “And we’re still Autobots.”
Ah. An idealist. Megatron didn’t think there were any of those left.
“Ratchet and Perceptor are on their way,” Prowl said. “They will handle it.”
“It,” Megatron said, “or me.”
“They have more important things to do right now than you,” Jazz muttered.
“I’m sure they do. How is Optimus, anyway?” He allowed some goading pleasure to seep through his voice. He hid his smirk in the turn of his head as he ducked under the lintel to what he guessed was to be his holding cell. Interesting. They’d made it dark, in here, a place of shadows thrumming with the core-hum of Omega Supreme’s systems. As though a miner would be anything but comforted by the confinement, the heat, the dimness.
“Fine,” Jazz said. “Back on his feet in no time.”
“And,” Megatron added, a coy over-the-shoulder glance at where Jazz had staked himself in the threshold, like some mythic guardian, “one should hope, wiser when he does.” The Kinetic Harpoon had backfired, badly, on the Autobots, Optimus’s almost pathologically suicidal drive leading to a rash waste of a gesture. One that Megatron turned to his own ends. He never was one to let an enemy’s weakness go unexploited.
He smiled down at First Aid. “So you are here to examine me.”
“For injuries, yes.” The mech’s hands knotted together. Oh? Was he nervous? Or was he merely the only one open enough to actually show it?
“And to disarm you.” Prowl gestured to the cannon, significantly.
Megatron gave an indulgent sigh. “Prowl. I thought you were an aficionado of logic. Tell me. What logic in me surrendering merely to attack you now?” Though he expected nothing less. There was, if nothing else, the psychological castration of taking the weapon that had been synonymous with his name for so long.
They can take my cannon, he thought. I existed before it, and was a threat then as well. I can exist after it.
“Access to our fortress,” Prowl countered. He stepped to a console, tapping out commands. A deliberate turn of his shoulders away from Megatron.
“I assure you, it’s your leader with the suicide complex.” He laughed at the sudden rigidity in Prowl’s posture, striking a chord. How many times now has Optimus done that, he thought, knowing he didn’t have to say that out loud. Not to Prowl.
“Please.” First Aid stepped between them again, somehow seeming apologetic for both sides. “This isn’t helping.”
Of course not, Megatron thought. “Indeed, this is merely delaying the inevitable.” He turned, regarding the heavy grips of the Variable Voltage Harness. So, not merely confined to a cell, not merely stripped of weapons. He was to be pinioned, immobile, able to be executed at a whim.
“I’d think you’d want to delay your inevitable execution,” Jazz said. “Hook him up.”
“How little you know me, Jazz,” he said. He stepped onto the platform, raising his bound arms so that First Aid could affix the belt around his waist, attaching each of the electric leads to contact points. The medic seemed hesitant, frowning as he clicked each lead home, as if the idea of the harness disturbed him. A mech of conscience, then, Megatron thought, and look at his Autobots, doing such violence to his ideals by giving him this duty. This mech should never leave the repair bay, should never have to wrestle with ethical issues, have his pretty black and white world muddled with ambiguity. This was a mech who wanted to do his work and feel that he had done good work, done right, at the end of his shift.
Megatron remembered that, vividly, from his days in the mines: the exhausted satisfaction of having done, having produced.
But here he was, attaching the lines, his protest merely on his face, his hands moving swiftly enough. Here he was, just like a subject in that Milgram’s experiment, willing to do as long as someone else told him it was right, willing to suspend his ethics so long as someone told him there was some larger service to be done.
Megatron pulled back, as far as he was able, twisting from the mech’s grasp. “Send him away,” he barked, aeons of command snatching their attention.
“You’re in no position to give orders,” Jazz snapped.
“A prisoner,” Megatron retorted, “has every right to refuse medical aid. I know the protocols.” The fact that he’d ignored them, countless times, did not mean he didn’t know. There was a difference between ignorance and a willful knowledge of defiance. “I am a prisoner. I do not need medical care. You, or Prowl, I’m sure are more than competent to attach the rest of this…device.”
A tense moment, First Aid bent, almost in a genuflection, with another of the VVH’s bands for Megatron’s ankle. Prowl straightened from the console. “All right.” His voice was carefully bland. “First Aid, we’ll handle it.”
“But--?” The face was lined with confusion, concern, limned by the garish lights of the harness’s power lines.
“Leave,” Megatron said, optics blazing under the shadows ofpurple chased helm, half-angry. The medic quailed, as had nearly every mech when faced with that hard glare.
“But I was only trying to help.” The light seemed to etch his expression of confusion, rejection, into Megatron’s cortex.
I know, Megatron thought, and that was the worst of it. “You sell your help too cheap, medic.” He shifted his legs, just enough that First Aid scrambled back. “Go back to your bay, and fix what’s broken there.” Because, he thought, as First Aid regathered his tools, pushing in a confused rush past Jazz, all the medic’s skill could not fix what was broken in this place.
And he so despised waste.