On Earth, there wasn't a lot that could keep a mech of Megatron's vast intellect entertained. He had to have something to fill the time. And between battles, and loses, and punching Prime, it was the little things he enjoyed the most.
Little things; like tracking progress. Measuring his accomplishments. He liked to be organised.
It was perhaps a small indication of a compulsive glitch, but he enjoyed it nonetheless, marking down the tallies. The worlds he had conquered. He enemies he had felled. The seeker's he'd fragged.
That last list was his favourite, and not coincidentally, his longest.
And getting longer all the time.
"Megatron..." Dirge whispered, breath fogging the glass screen of the communal shower, the solvent long since switched off.
"Megatron..." Thrust whispered too, somehow more desperate.
He had the two of them pinned, Thrust squashed between the wall and Dirge, and Dirge between Thrust and himself. They went between moaning his designation and kissing each other as he fragged Dirge, and Dirge fragged Thrust. It was good. Their wings fluttering, synchronised with each other's pleasure.
Megatron pumped his hips languidly, content with a pace that was just shy of being enough for the two seekers.
"Please, Megatron, sir..." Dirge arched back against him.
Ah, formalities now. They must be particularly desperate. He didn't require the same respect for rank here, now, as he would have during the on-shift, but it was nice to hear anyway.
"What do you think, Thrust?" Megatron leant over Dirge's wing to peer down into the other seeker's flushed face. "Should I finish him?"
Thrust nodded frantically, his digits slipping against Dirge's solvent drenched armour. He swallowed thickly. "...Yeah."
They were loyal, obedient soldiers, so Megatron obliged them where he might have strung a lesser jet along. The two of them had put him in a rather good mood...
His heavy hips clanged sharply against Dirge's aft. He braced his servos against the glass on either side of them, and drove into them. His thrusts bucked Dirge deeper into his trine-mate, and Thrust, the loudest of perhaps all his seekers (save one), yelled with every harsh shove, his engine roaring as climax approached-
"Hnng~" Dirge let out a pathetic little noise. His helm dropped to Thrust's shoulder, whole frame slumping.
"Dirge!" Thrust yelled indignantly, and Megatron looked down when he felt a patter of droplets on his pede. The shower wasn't dripping. Dirge had overloaded, fluid falling from between his thighs.
Megatron bit the side of Dirge's wet neck, smirking at the blissfully stupid smile that flickered over the seeker's face. "Uh wow..."
"Wow indeed." Megatron agreed, carefully removing himself from Dirge's valve. "That was far sooner than I had expected."
Dirge was too pleased with himself to realise he was being criticised. He stumbled out from between them and slumped to the wet floor. Thrust was still leant against the glass wall, touching his valve absently as he scowled at his trine-mate. Megatron wasn't surprised at the resentment.
No wonder these seeker's were so easy to charm- they certainly couldn't satisfy each other.
Luckily for Thrust, he was here.
He knocked slim fingers away from Thrust's valve and with two strong servos under shapely seeker thighs, hoisted him up the wall. Thrust cried out when he entered him. He was tight, Dirge's spike not sufficient enough preparation for his own thicker, longer equipment.
On the floor Dirge watched them with his silly grin.
The least Megatron could do was put on a show for him.
Dirge and Thrust were late for morning inspection. Again.
"I don't know what's keeping them." Ramjet said stiffly, his sneer inches from Starscream's.
"You're their trine-leader aren't you?" Starscream leant in a little more, their olfactories almost brushing. "Find out!"
"Chill out, Screamer." An obnoxious voice called across to him.
Starscream looked over Ramjet's wing and saw the culprits themselves hurrying into the flight hanger. Thrust was sporting a slight limp. Infighting perhaps? Internally, he felt a curl of delight, mood lifting at the perfect excuse to punish them.
"And where have you been?"
Thrust and Dirge shuffled into formation either side of a straight faced -uncharacteristically stoic- Ramjet.
"Special duties, commander," Thrust explained, sounding smug. "Attending to Lord Megatron."
Further up the line, Skywarp snorted.
Starscream turned to look at him, and kept looking at him, until Skywarp wiped the stupid smile off his face and straightened up again.
He turned back to Thrust, eyeing him and Dirge suspiciously, repeating, "Special. Duties?"
Like slag would Megatron pick these two dunderheads for special duties over his own trine. Or himself, for that matter.
"Well, we'll see what Megatron has to say about that, shall we." He said smugly, and activated his comm.
"What now, Starscream." Megatron answered exasperatingly.
Starscream bit back the urge to snap at him.
"I have two tardy miscreants here citing you as an excuse." He sneered, glaring at the seekers in front of him, daring them to throw in any last desperate excuses. "What should I do with them."
There was a moment of silence on Megatron's end. Starscream started to smile, when-
"Give them the rest of the shift off," Megatron advised gruffly, "They completed the task I set them commendably-"
Whatever else he might have said was lost to the snickering of his gathered airforce. He stared down the line, and became aware that his mouth had fallen open. He snapped it shut, then hung up on whatever undeserved praise Megatron was still prattling out for the Coneheads.
"Dirge. Thrust. Get out of my sight." He ordered, short and furious with Megatron for making him look like such a fool.
"Yes sir, commander," Dirge's optics brightened pleasantly.
"The rest of you!" Starscream shouted, focusing on the snickering underlings so he wouldn't have to watch Dirge and Thrust gleefully skip off to go and enjoy their free day. "Flight manoeuvres. Get outside. Now."
They mumbled and shuffled to obey less than enthusiastically. All save Ramjet, who shoved his shoulder like he was some grunt he could get away with throwing his weight around and not someone far, far above his station.
"How am I supposed to do manoeuvres without a trine?" Ramjet argued, arms open to show how alone he was. "Just give me the shift off too."
"In you dreams," Starscream snarled, "Make a trine out of a pair of seagulls. You won't notice the difference."
Ramjet's face screwed into an expression that warned of forthcoming obscenities. Starscream ignored him, marching off to find Skywarp and smack him for giggling like an ingrate when he was trying to threaten someone.
Did no one in this damn airforce have an iota of respect?
Starscream was annoyed enough that he decided to do some snooping. Soundwave knew nothing of any 'special duties' and there had been no reports filed by Thrust or Dirge that morning. They were fairly stupid though, so it was always possible they simply didn't do it because neither of them could remember how to read...
But no. There was something else going on.
With no official reports to rummage through he had to dig deeper. If Megatron needed seekers for special duties, there was no logical explanation for why he wouldn't have picked competent fliers for the job.
Like himself. Skywarp and Thundercracker may be subpar in comparison, but his presence more than made up for their failings. And they certainly outclassed Dirge and Thrust, for spark's sake.
He let himself into Megatron's quarters with a small explosive shoved between the sliding door and it's frame in order to blow it off it's track. The door fell to the floor with a bang. He poked his helm in and looked around. No one home.
He had been in Megatron's quarters before -never invited and never with Megatron's knowledge- and as always, he was disappointed with the sheer unimpressiveness. A leader should have the gumption to take advantage of his rank and have at least a few luxuries. Megatron quarters contained nothing more than a regulation berth, a regulation desk, a three legged chair than had to be held up in one corner edge by a crate, and exposed power lines where some of the bulkhead had fallen away.
Not exactly something to be envious off.
He sat himself down in the wobbly chair and started going through the desk.
He found an energon treat hidden under the datafiles, obviously something that was being saved for later. He threw it into his intake and chewed on it absently as he began going through the files.
Boring, boring, poetry, boring, politics, boring, some nonsense scheme, boring, boring.
Thankfully, the last one he switched on was less boring and more... Intriguing. It was a list of designations.
Acid Storm, Bitstream, Dirge, Hotlink, Ion Storm...
He scrolled down. It went on and on. Names. Only seekers. All of them marked through with a sharp red line and almost all of them with tallies beside them.
All of them.
His designation sat at the bottom of the list. Apart from everyone else. It wasn't crossed off. It didn't have tally marks.
Now this was interesting little mystery.
"What is this?" He demanded, shoving the datafile under Skywarp's olfactory.
Skywarp scowled but took it, scrolling down as he looked over it. "A list?"
"I know it's a list!" Starscream snarled. "I'm asking you what it means!"
Skywarp poked at it again, "Well, how should I know? Oh hey-" he smiled, and turned the datafile around to show him, pointing, "I'm on it!"
"I know you're on it." Starscream snatched the datafile from him. He jabbed at Skywarp's designation. "That's why I'm asking you. I found it in Megatron's desk. Your designation has more tallies than anyone else's."
Skywarp snatched it back, frowning. He mouthed numbers as he counted on his digits. Then he froze.
Starscream poked him. "Skywarp?"
Skywarp was staring into the middle-distance. Starscream knew that look. It was the look of Skywarp's processor actually turning itself on.
After an embarrassingly long pause, he blinked himself back to the present. "Oh, yeah..."
"Well?" Starscream pressed.
Skywarp's mouth fell open, "Oh, uh... I dunno." He said unconvincingly.
"You do know."
"I guess I forgot."
"Why is my name not checked off?!"
Skywarp snatched the datafile back, scrolling to the bottom. "Hey, your name is on this!"
"What does it mean?!" Starscream yelled, about to blow a gasket.
"I dunno, Screamer. It's Megatron's list though, isn't it? Maybe you should ask him."
Starscream snatched the list back and marched away.
It wasn't until a couple of nights later that Skywarp remembered the list.
He gasped. Or would have gasped, had he not had Megatron's spike down his intake. He choked instead, optics watering. Megatron jumped out of his blissful stupor, hurriedly pulling him off.
"Skywarp, what on Cybertron-?"
Skywarp just laughed though it, sniffing and wiping the drool from his chin, winking tears from his optics, "You- you have a list?"
In his throne, still a mighty and formidable sight with his spike stiff and wet between spread thighs, Megatron frowned at him, uncomprehending. "Explain."
"Your list?" Skywarp sat up and reached to stroke him, a careful indulgent touch. "You keep a record of this."
"...Ah," Megatron seemed to realise what he meant. He slumped back against his throne. "That list. And how did you see it?"
"Starscream had it." Skywarp explained, leaning in with an open mouth. "He wanted to know what it was."
Megatron stiffened under his servos, and it had nothing to do with him taking his spike back into his mouth. He bobbed his helm, watching as Megatron watched him.
"And did you tell him?"
Skywarp shook his helm, swirling his glossa around the tip before pulling off, swallowing, "No way. He'd ruin it-"
"How so?" Megatron rested his cheek against his fist, leaning against the arm of his throne.
"He'd hog you." Skywarp said grumpily, because he would.
Starscream was selfish. Everything and anything that was good Starscream sucked up all for himself like the universes's most obnoxiously loud black hole. If he knew how... talented Megatron was, he'd probably paint his name over Megatron's chest and 'no trespassers' over his codpiece.
He definitely wasn't the sharing sort.
"I very much doubt that." Megatron rumbled, but he looked contemplative. Skywarp dropped down on his spike again, sucking as Megatron thought. "Starscream... is not like other seekers..."
Skywarp scowled and renewed his efforts, resenting having brought up his trine-leader at all. What was so special about Starscream anyway? They were all the same frame type. Practically identical. And Starscream's personality hardly made him a catch.
And knowing their luck, if Starscream did decide to wriggle his way between Megatron's thighs he'd only use it as an opportunity to attack him when his guard was down.
His resentful musing drifted into none existence when one of Megatron's big servos found his wing and massaged it. He moaned around the obstruction in his mouth.
"I think that's enough." Megatron murmured, pulling him off again and patting his thigh. "Come, join me on the throne."
Skywarp grinned, panel clicking open and exposing his valve as climbed into his leader's lap. It was certainly enough to make him forget Starscream.
Enough to forget everything else as well...
Starscream studied the list like it was stolen Autobot intel, trying to decipher what could only be a form of code. He reordered it according to rank, then according to disciplinary reports, then according to perceived intelligence. There was no pattern. He had no idea what the tallies could have represented.
Why Skywarp had twelve. Why Thundercracker had three.
Even Sunstorm had one.
Why didn't he have any?
For someone as good at puzzles as he was, it was maddening.
"Starscream." Thundercracker sighed, looking vastly uncomfortable- as he always did when he found him pouring over the list. "Just give it a rest, will you. It doesn't mean anything."
"You have three tallies." Starscream squinted.
Thundercracker's cheeks coloured with energon. "Three? Well I don't... Doesn't seem right.."
Starscream whipped around. "So you do know what it means?"
"No." Thundercracker waved his servos. "I swear. I don't-"
"I-" Thundercracker tapped his pede, looking left and right, debating with himself. "I- alright, listen, it's not what you think-"
Starscream had absolutely no idea what Thundercracker thought he thought, so he didn't contest that. He tilted his chin up expectantly, servos on his hips. "I'm waiting?"
"It's... It's how many times we've been with him."
Starscream snorted. "You expect me to believe that? I've been by Megatron's side for years. I've been on dozens of missions with him-"
"No." Thundercracker cringed. "Not been with him, I mean- been With him."
Starscream didn't say anything, not wanting to reveal how utterly confused he still was.
"For Primus's sake, Star!" Thundercracker hissed, bright purple now. "Interfacing!"
Starscream's fingers released the datafile on instinct. It hit the floor with a slap between them. Thundercracker started massaging his temples. Starscream was still frozen as he struggled to comprehend the horrific truth.
"You mean to tell me..." He breathed, confusion making way for growing, unexplainable fury. "That Megatron has been fragging my airforce behind my back?"
"Not really 'behind your back'-"
"What is this? A hobby for him?!"
"Three times!" Starscream lifted as many fingers and shoved them at Thundercracker's face. "You've fragged Megatron three ti- oh slag, Skywarp!" He suddenly realised.
Twelve Primus-damned tallies beside his name.
His servos curled into fists. "This... Is a step too far."
"Don't be mad at Skywarp." Thundercracker reproached. "He's only-"
"It's not Skywarp I'm angry at!" Starscream snapped, having thought that would be obvious. "Megatron has been taking advantage of you all this time, and you never thought to mention-"
"Advantage?" Thundercracker sounded appalled, "No, Starscream. He's never-"
"Oh, Thundercracker," Starscream drawled nastily, placing a patronising servo on his shoulder and patting him. "So naive."
"Starscream, you're really reading this wrong-"
Starscream didn't see how this could be read any other way. Megatron had -was systematically abusing his airforce. He was pulling rank and manipulating defenceless seekers into performing these deplorable favours, these Special Duties.
Why else would they have all fallen victim to it, when he had not? They weren't as strong, as clever, as he was. Megatron must have known he'd never get away with doing it to him like he had the others.
"Not to worry." He reassured the still stuttering Thundercracker, stooping to sweep up the datafile again. "I'll deal with this."
"Oh, please don't."
He gave Thundercracker a pitying look. Megatron had them well trained, it seemed.
He was going to make his displeasure with such unprofessional practices known. And if he happened to shove this datafile up Megatron's exhaust in the process, at least then the old fool would regret ever having written it in the first place.