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Judge and Executioner

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Megatron was the first to find the manipulator behind all the events. Seeing the damage Ravage had already taken, the Lord High Protector nearly finished the task the cyber-hunter had begun, but he had to make a firm example. Everyone would see the outcome of this attempt to wrest control from him. A curt command to Starscream, who bore his own damage as if it did not exist, and the hunter was carried away for repairs. Reflector did not like applying his scientific prowess to other mechs, preferring his more anti-social pursuits, but until Megatron had a constructor he could trust, Reflector was going to be in charge of repairs.

That left the broken form of Buzzsaw, turning brittle with the loss of energon, and the nearly destroyed mech who had served Megatron's purposes even in his rebellion.

"Did you dare dream I did not know, Soundwave? Or did you truly fall to the belief I was weak and unworthy of my place?" The war-mech snapped a heel out, crushing the weapon Soundwave had been trying to bring to full power. "I knew." Now, Megatron crouched, optics near Soundwave's. "I used you this time, shadow-king." The Lord High Protector smiled, but it was cold and edged with all his triumph in this moment. "Your rebellion has been the final crucible for annealing our race into what I see for their future." With that said, Megatron lashed out one more time, knowing Soundwave had felt defeat truly sink in at the thought of being out-manipulated, and sent the mech into a full crash of his systems. Only then did Megatron drag the heavy frame to the repair bay.

`~`~`~`~`

Scion tried hard not to hiss as Powerglide pulled on his wing, trying to align it correctly. Both of them were smeared in char and dried energon, and Scion knew he should return to the palace. He didn't really want to get swept up in the aftermath of this so quickly, and Powerglide seemed to understand the oddities of his frame enough to work on him.

He didn't want to dwell on the fight, he found. It had been different, repelling the Junkions. This? This had worked in under his sense of self, the self that was more than willing to defend his own existence, the self that had no problem bucking up against Starscream or anyone who dared threaten him. It made him regret, and that was an emotion he wasn't comfortable with at all.

"Honorable Flier?"

The voice made Scion look, expecting one of the pathetic ones to be speaking to Powerglide. It was shocking then that one of the higher-functioning ones was standing there, offering him a ration cube. The amber eyes showed no fear, and the hands did not tremble as they held the cube out. Scion reached out, accepting the cube, and then forced a smile for the wretched… no, not wretched… damaged one. "Thank you." The verbal pleasantry sent the damaged survivor scurrying away, but Scion saw the faint flicker of pleasure in the fields.

Maybe he had fewer regrets, after seeing that, even if he could never admit any of this to his Lord.

`~`~`~`~`

The full population had been commanded to come forward for the day of judging. The Autobots were arranged so that they shielded their broken wards, but they had come to avoid angering the war-mech who now held this planet entirely, with no resistance capable of meeting him. Scion had seen Powerglide very ably leading them in; his friend was showing all the signs Megatron had taught him to look for in leaders, despite having never been more than an auxiliary in the war, by the records Scion had found.

The assembled rebels who had survived were in chains and at the center of the surviving Seeker Flights. Starscream stood to one side of the Lord High Protector, and Scion was tolerating the fact he stood equal with his pattern-maker on the central dais. For once, they seemed to be in accord with their Lord's wishes to tolerate one another.

Longarm, Soundwave, and Hook were at the forefront of the prisoners, while the row behind them held Blitzwing and Octane both. The rest of the rabble, which included no few Autobots who had rejected the peace, waited, certain of the fact their fate rested in the claws of a mech who had plunged their entire race into civil war for reasons no better than ambition.

A combined hiss of shock rippled out as Megatron snapped his fingers, and three mechs who looked like no other class emerged from the bunker to the side. Those mechs who had existed long enough stiffened with fear and caution, both among the free and the imprisoned.

"Cybertronians, this day is the end of the war, for once and all, between those who choose to call themselves Decepticons or Autobots to the detriment of our race," Megatron began, as each of the three insectoid mechs stopped in front of one of the front row prisoners. "Mercy will be granted to all who surrendered, but they will be banned from carrying any weaponry until I have individually spoken to each one."

Silence rippled through the crowd; that had not been expected by many. The silence gave Megatron time to speak clearly and have his words be heard by every mech there. He wanted none to miss it.

"Blitzwing and Octane will transport those who did not surrender willingly to a planet of my choosing. They will do so under a Flight commanded by Thrust. Longarm is the designated leader of this new 'colony', which will be his perfect dream of a flier-less society, as both triple changers are invited to return as full members of our society, all past crimes and insurrections forgotten. To make the trip more… efficient, Kickback will be in charge of siphoning excess energy from the transportees."

Protests grew into a roar, as the named Insecticon violently deconstructed into a mass of small flying drones, swarming out to preordained targets. The noise died, with some protests of 'mercy' called before the only noise was that of mechs falling on the field, chains losing their glow as the mechs lost power under the leeching effect of the swarm.

"Now, I have named Longarm leader, choosing him over two highly placed officers without the typical battle for supremacy," Megatron stepped forward, walking to just behind the two remaining Insecticons. "Soundwave, you have existed through three pairs of leaders on Cybertron, and had a hand in many administrative decisions. You were useful, for a time. Now, you have reached too far. Shrapnel is immune to your unique abilities, and has been very hungry for a very long time."

"I take that from you!" Soundwave declared, hatred in every syllable before he instigated a self-destruct. The mech fell to one knee, robbing Megatron of the full horror of the chosen death. The Lord High Protector growled, but turned Shrapnel lose to devour what remained, erasing Soundwave from any form of existence save memory.

He did not doubt Starscream would eliminate that as well, with careful tinkering in the databases.

Hook was stiff with dignity, refusing to admit defeat, and incapable of the level of self-harm Soundwave had managed. His ward, Longarm, had excelled, even if the plans had gone astray. "Of course none of my class would lead, Lord High Protector," Hook began, but Megatron cut him off with a growl of 'silence!' that left the crowd leaning in to hear of this next fate.

"Bombshell, this one has skills that are useful, but his concept of self is getting in the way of that usefulness," Megatron decreed. "Fix that for me."

"NO, my Lord, please!" Hook screamed, trying to jerk forward and plead for mercy, but Bombshell was already bringing up his hand and transforming it to implant the device that would eradicate Hook's personality completely.

Megatron tasted the scream that followed with savage pleasure, but walked back calmly to his place on the dais. He looked over the crowds, prisoners and allies alike. His point was made; he could show mercy and ruthlessness in one maneuver, while maintaining Cybertron's place as what he cared for in their optics.

He had forged a race that would be powerful, while Longarm's rebels brewed in their discontent to be a problem that would plague and sharpen the future generations of Cybertronians. As he mounted the dais, he flicked his awareness over both Seekers, tasting their contrasting reactions. Scion was deeply thoughtful, possibly tinged by disgust of some kind, but it was aimed at the prisoners, not Megatron.

Starscream, as always, was wary and contemplating insurrection of his own, no doubt. Megatron would let him; every greatness had to be measured by the trials overcome, after all. A few more ceremonial words, and the assembly was broken up to turn to duties.

That left Megatron time to write his brother for the safe keeping of Blaster, last of a once common class.

`~`~`~`~`

…in short, brother, the cost of my gamble was minimal. Some were lost, but in the full scope of it, I believe this will end the wars between our factions for the foreseeable future. Enjoy the peace while we have it; universal law demands that something evolve to meet us on the grounds we exist already.

Optimus closed the communication down, and realized he'd been more than remiss in his duties to his brother, contemplating all that had happened since Ratchet had returned from Cybertron.

"You have no idea, brother," he said softly, before beginning his own briefing to send back.