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"The production ability has been severely curtailed," Hook announced as he looked anywhere but the gleaming Seeker to the left of Megatron.

"Unacceptable," Megatron said, well-aware of how sharply it irritated Hook and enjoying the way Soundwave was recalculating the odds on whatever scheme he had in mind. His shields and firewalls had never been tighter, knowing that Soundwave was steadily growing closer to open rebellion. Soon, Megatron would have the culling he needed in his own ranks, to bring forth a truer race.

"Without flight assistance…" Hook began, only to be cut off abruptly by the piercing croon of consideration by Starscream.

"It seems to me, if we are to have a functional society beyond this meager city that's been carved out, my Flights must begin mapping and finding the resources that have been shifted and pushed to the surface from deep within the core, yes?" Ruby optics glinted with the jab at both Hook, for the scope of rebuilding thus far, and Megatron, for whom the city was named.

Megatron ignored the barb, but Hook did not manage it. His arrogance where his designs and abilities were concerned was easily as fierce as the Seeker's. The Constructicon, most experienced surviving member of that particular class with its hive-like tendencies, pulled himself to full height and powered up his not inconsiderable weaponry.

Starscream cocked his head to one side, his shields already on full, and smiled with brazen confidence.

"You dare insult my work?"

"I dare anything I care to."

The pair matched optics, Starscream's weapons still in stand-by, cocky to the extreme in his belief that Hook could not actually damage him even at this short range. His complete assurance in how he held himself, and so much history crowded into the Constructicon's processor, making him uneasy. This room was shielded against intrusion, but could that truly keep out a trans-warp? If he fired, would it be to receive a blade through his spinal struts and out through the spark? Would Megatron, after all his efforts to reclaim as many members of their species, allow such violence without meeting it on his own terms? What secrets were hiding inside that frame that baffled all Hook's discreet scans, protecting the insufferable Seeker?

"Then you will come to a speedier end this time, Starscream, because this world is no place for callous idiocy," Hook contented himself to say, backing down. He hated to do so, but the odds were too unpredictable. His weapons went back to stand-by, and he chalked today as one more insult to remedy down the line.

"I suggest a compromise," Soundwave began, his tone flat and dispassionate. "Starscream should allocate a portion of the Flights for both tasks."

"No." Starscream casually canted back in his seat, leg draping over the arm console. "There have been two broods of perfectly serviceable mechs created, both of whom are well-enough along to be an effective work force, since they are, with only one exception, merely ground-mechs. Use them for more than just war games and courier services, Hook, under that lumbering thing you call Longarm." There was an undercurrent in his words of the 'one exception' that Soundwave read as displeasure for the young Seeker Megatron employed as a personal guard and companion.

Hook bridled again, but did not make the mistake of taking the insult to measures of umbrage. In time, Starscream would pay. Longarm was going to be Hook's shining exemplar of Hook's abilities.

"Do it. Starscream, I expect results," Megatron added with a glare at his capricious lieutenant. The wingtips merely twitched in amusement, as Starscream smiled slyly. "Soundwave, I expect the drones ready for launch within the orn. You have each touched a topic we need to address. Our population remains critically low, with those survivors of the cataclysm little more than mindless drones themselves in some cases. I want all Decepticon forces to return to Cybertron; I am certain you will handle any cases of insurrection they bring."

"Of course, Megatron." Soundwave kept his tone and expression bland, his fields neutral.

Megatron knew this was all going to break open wide, and end the most current threat one way or the other. He had a task for Scion, as he accepted the coming violence as necessary to the future he envisioned.

"If we're all done with all this pointless talk?" Starscream inquired in his most biting tone, shifting to rise.

"Starscream, you exist. We'll never be at an end of pointless talk," Megatron informed his lieutenant, making the Seeker sputter as the meeting dissolved.

`~`~`~`~`

"Results… I'll give you results you cannot doubt, and then claw this planet out from under your rusted frame," Starscream muttered once he was in his chambers. "SKYWARP!"

"I'm right here, blast your sonics!" the darker jetformer snapped as he came out of his own chamber.

"I have a task for you, so get your ration and start processing it. You'll be going to Alpha."

"I hate moon trips," Skywarp grumbled but he got his ration from the dispenser, then overrode the coding to steal part of Thundercracker's too. He'd need it, so he could trans-warp instead of fly it straight. Starscream stalked him like prey to the bench he perched on, catching the other Seeker's chin in long talons.

"This one will serve us very well, Skywarp." Starscream smiled with that edge of his processor spinning over a plan, and Skywarp paid strict attention when his commander spooled a set of coordinates to him with very specific instructions on how to retrieve what had been hidden there. Thundercracker had said they'd be loyal, for now, to Starscream, and Skywarp had to admit it was at least looking more entertaining already.

`~`~`~`~`

Megatron looked up as his door slid open, pleased Scion had responded so promptly. Truthfully, as engaging as it was to have Starscream at his beck and call with the promise of eventual conflict to spice it up, there was something about Scion's obedience and loyalty that made Megatron consider it a good investment. He beckoned the young mech closer, turning his attention back to the screens with the city map on display, with various sectors highlighted on each screen.

"I have a task for you, Scion." He did not even have to look to know Scion had straightened with pride to be chosen. How far would Megatron be able to command this one before he dug in and bit back? That would be an eventual entertainment, Megatron was certain.

"Yes, Lord Megatron?"

"Circulate in these areas discretely." Three sectors were highlighted for Scion to view.

"Those are the Autobot areas," scion said with a hint of distaste. He had not forgiven Blaster for leaving with the Autobot medic, relegating him to strictly the company of the Combaticons when Megatron had no need for his services.

"Yes." Megatron turned to look at his young honor guard. "You will get to know them, and learn their thoughts. You will serve me, Scion, as an unofficial ambassador to them, so that any … developments within the Palace need not bring them to trouble. After all, we are not yet to a point where we can dispense with my brother's good will and energy sharing, are we?" His tone was amused, but his optics glinted. Optimus would be a part of his final plan, he swore again in his spark.

Scion's wings flexed in irritation, but he nodded once, curtly. "I will… what is that term you used from the organic world? Herd the flock as needed."

Megatron laughed at the terminology, delivered with flat tones and no enriching glyphs. He reached out, one hand purposefully caressing the edge of a wing, just to see how it made Scion's fields spark and flare.

One more upgrade, and Megatron would learn if the spark behind it could withstand the desire's culmination….

"Good. You may go."

Scion gave a short bow of his head and left to begin his task. Megatron let the door seal and coded it to privacy, before examining the maps again. Such submission to his will was good, in small doses.