|The Night Fall||By: Sunstar|
Nightfall and his Lieutenant, Starscream plan an attack against an Autobot Munitions Factory. When the smoke had cleared, Starscream's life had taken a very sudden turn.
This fic is an event that occurred in the distant past of Starscream. This is not based in any particular continuity other than what the author calls Seekerverse or Starscream Chronicles.
If anyone wishes to assist in editing this fic, please contact Sunstar. My email is at the bottom of the page
Chapter 1 Best Laid Plans
Chapter 2 Raising Hell
Chapter 3 Air Commander
|Best Laid Plans|
The stark grey walls were a contrast to the brilliant-multicoloured wings of the Seeker battalion as they seated themselves around tables getting ready to fill their datapads with notes regarding the up coming mission. The battle room was diamond shaped, door in the centre back, with the edges coming in toward the middle. Instead of a point it had a flat bottom, where the Imager was installed, and display screens on either side, which were perched on a swivel. To the left and right of the swivel mounted monitors were white boards where tactical drawings could be drawn and displayed.
In front of the monitors the centre desk was raised on a dais with a couple seats for VIP's on either side. The Decepticon Insignia was displayed prominently on the front of the desk; It's edges chipping a little from age and wear from years of use within the room.
The room fell silent as the two Leading Seekers entered the Battle room. Air Commander Nightfall, and the Decepticon Wing Commander Starscream. Nightfall readied himself at the desk and nodded to his second. The red Seeker took out a laser disk and inserted it into the slot getting the information feed ready for the warriors. Starscream activated the Imager as Nightfall started to address the units before him.
“Our mission is to blow out the routes to the Autobots arms manufacturers,” Nightfall declared as he was standing in front of the multicoloured wings. Behind him an image was displayed on the large view screen at the front of the room. Starscream selected the file and then stood off the side scrutinising the image and all its details. “Ideally we are to capture and hold the Munitions plant and turn it to the Decepticon cause. Alternatively we blow it up - but this could put a significant crater into the surface of our world – which we don't really want. Starscream, if you will, please elaborate how we do this.”
Starscream nodded and stepped forward. “We need to cut off the re-enforcements to the Munitions plant, essentially we lay siege to it. However we must keep this siege short as they can continue to manufacture weapons while we are attacking. Their supply of weapons would be greater than ours - that is until they run short of raw materials or energy. We could, in essence keep at it, but the cost in lost life would be great for us.”
Nightfall flicked the screen changing it to a scene of a surface rail. The trains ran along their electric tracks loaded up with shipments of weapons coming out or materials coming in. Some of the trains were clearly passenger types from further afield just passing through the area on their way to Iacon or other great cities. Surface travel became quite precarious in during the war and most commuter travel was moved under the planet's surface for safety sake. However, it was not impossible for people to find themselves in the middle of a fire fight. This was unavoidable and was the hazard of war on a planet where most of the surface was taken up by cities. Nightfall froze the screen and Starscream stepped over to the display. He picked up a dry erase marker and circled a couple spots on the imager. The pen squeaked noisily. Starscream did not care, but a few of the warrior's wings twitched in irritation at the sound.
The marks were finally made in the spots now cleared of the previous trains. “We blow out the fuel routes, this rail line here is one of the primary targets. Not only does fuel come in on these great tankers, but also the supplies of raw materials and foodstuff.” He pointed out the tankers that were parked at the loading docks as well as a rail yard with loaded trains awaiting their connecting engine, just behind the munitions plant “Also this line here is from which all the weapons and supplies are sent to the major Autobot fronts. We wish to weaken their front lines by cutting off their supplies and finally bring our units to bear and wipe them out,” Starscream took another marker and scribbled out the line in three spots. “To do so, this yard, and these locations are the best spots to obliterate. The ground under it is weak and rebuilding the line could take a while.” Starscream rubbed his hands. “Once the plant is removed, we can focus on taking out their stock piles and warehouses.”
Nightfall ran the video again, the motion of the vehicles on roads were highlighted. Mostly civilian traffic as well as some military traffic mixed in. Again the display was frozen and Starscream faced the units once more.
“These routes here and here are primary roads for the transport of freight in and out of the facility. There is also a Pneumatic Tube Transit system that connects directly below the facility, this is not our fight, the grounders are also attempting to disable that to completely cut off the facility and isolate it removing the ability for the workforce and eliminating the chance for supplies to enter or exit this way. However we can blow out any connections near to the facility without really having to get under it.” The warrior units in the room sighed with relief. Very few enjoyed the notion of going underground to fight. Seekers were creatures of the sky and as such did not view underground combat as enjoyable in the least. They were fortunate that the mission's tactician, Starscream, was extremely claustrophobic and would avoid going underground whenever possible.
The screen zoomed in displaying the Munitions Facility. Starscream taped his fingers on his hip and glanced over the image. He nodded once more satisfied at the pause.
“These spots are the primary weapons systems defending the facility, they need to be removed by long range air to surface missiles. Disabling these first is prudent to protecting the attacking wings on their bombing runs.” He cocked his head studying some unfamiliar structures near to the front entrance of the facility. “I suggest blowing these things too. I am not sure what they are exactly...could be fortifications.” Starscream put the marker down and stepped back and sat down in his seat.
Nightfall would be taking over from here on in. The strategy was laid out and it was Starscream's plan. “We will be attacking the Munitions plant tomorrow just before dawn, while it is still dark. The Stealth Seekers will lead the assault and then neutralise the weapons. Starscream will follow in behind with bombers and escort wings 4, 5 and 7. I will be coming in from the west side, with Bomber and Escort Wings 3, 6 and 9. Grounders are to be attacking below ground with their units,” Nightfall gave out the orders. “Units are dismissed - meet here at 0400 hours and we'll launch our attack.”
Starscream sat quietly looking over the images on his datapad, he frowned as his fingertips ran along some structures. “I am still uneasy about these buildings. They were recent additions to the area and we have no intelligence on whether or not they are going to be a problem to our forces.”
Nightfall shook his head. “You over think things sometimes, Starscream. It is likely a small shanty town of refugees trying to move in closer to a potential employer. If you want to, we could add a detachment to wipe them out but then again, really, is it worth the energy spent to wipe out civilians in this matter?”
“Would it seem bad of me if I said, maybe we should, then?” the young Starscream replied. “I don't trust it.” The Seeker had become sceptical of things as the war went on. He understood far too well that things were not always what the seemed and felt that caution or even a scout to identify it it was a threat or not would be the best course of action, however he was not in command. He was just a flier, one of many.
“You're paranoid, Seeker. Go to the commons and enjoy yourself this evening. The other warriors will be there. Could be our last night alive!” Nightfall smiled brightly.
The young warrior glanced up at the other. It was a grim thought especially when one was full of foreboding. “That is what I am afraid of,” Starscream responded sourly. “Very well, I will indulge in some drink tonight, but not so much it dulls my wits.” Starscream stood up and tucked his datapad away. “I will see you at 0330 hours,” the Seeker exited the room. Nightfall turned to look at the structures the other had pointed out and pondered.
The commons was not an area that Starscream enjoyed going to often. He, in fact, avoided it.
Yet, he felt that he needed to make an appearance this evening just for moral sake. He disliked the crowding and the behaviour of the other warriors as they drunk themselves into silliness. They then arrived on the battlefield hungover. It rarely did the mission well, particularly the missions that were very early in the day. Had he been able to do it his way, he would have doubled the rations for the night of food and asked the warriors to refrain from indulgence.
Starscream made his way across the room and found himself a spot in a poorly illuminated corner. He wanted to remain alone and did not want others joining him; their jokes, their banter typically made him feel ill at ease.
He was not as social as many of his kind were, he did not find comfort in large groups. He only found comfort in numbers when flying, but that was typically due to the the improved chances of survival in combat. Conversely, he did not enjoy being totally alone. Like his kind, he did occasionally desire company; however, he preferred that company to be quiet. He did enjoy observing his warriors in an environment that they found relaxing and fun. He could learn more about those he oversaw in their relatively unrestricted behaviour.
In exceedingly rare instances he would join in with a card game or two with his wingmates, but Skywarp was already in the middle of a bet, heaps of credits piled around his place. At another table few heavily scarred veterans glanced up to meet the younger warrior's optic and gestured to their empty chair inviting him to indulge. “Care for a game, Silver snake?” the one hissed softly as his partner shuffled the deck.
Starscream frowned and shook his head, “Sorry, there is too much for me to think about – I really should not be here this evening of all evenings.” smiled slightly and tipped his head, “thanks for the offer though,” Inwardly he cringed at the nick name the other used; Silver Snake was a name given to him in his academy days. He preferred not to acknowledge the name, it had been used when he volunteered to fight other warriors in the pit. It was a typical way to settle differences or obtain supplies. He had managed to obtain some level of infamy as a result of his cunning, speed and guile he used. He may not have been the strongest, or heaviest warrior, but he learned fast how to use their strengths against them. Making himself seem much more vulnerable and forcing them to leave open a weak-spot he could attack with incredible speed. Much like a viper or “Silver snake”.
“Your loss,” the card playing warrior replied, and nodded to his partner to deal the deck.
Another aspect of the commons Starscream disliked was the music. It was a loud, heavy beat. Typically industrial instrumental, sometimes harsh vocals, screaming, wailing with nerve-rending screeching. He was unable to comprehend how anyone could function in the environment, let alone drink and call it “peace”. Often the beat of the music caused him to feel intensely aggressive and angry urges deep within, and other times it caused his head to ache incessantly. Usually leaving the commons was enough to remedy his symptoms. But if it was accompanied by rapidly changing light he could find himself feeling sick to his dual tanks.
And then there were the flimsy looking females. Some were Decepticon but most were slaves. Captured females of the Autobot faction or even Neutrals. They typically had many tasks while working under their Decepticon masters. Serving beverages, snacks, waxing surfaces or catering to the needs or whims of the warriors. Many had spent time in the dark labs of Shockwave, suffering his attentions and experiments. Some continued on their path to slavery by having their minds jumbled by Bombshell, an Insecticon. They rarely encountered the mind bending efforts of Soundwave unless they were to walk amongst the highest ranking Decepticons. He had to ensure the safety of Megatron and typically re-wrote their memories - wiping their histories clean and making them safe, perfect and obedient slaves. When their usefulness abated, they would be discharged, dumped into the pits, or their parts recycled for the next batch of slaves.
Starscream watched as the females walked between the warriors, handing out energon beverages, shaking their fingers to the advances of the inebriated males or smiling flirtatiously. He wondered if they actually enjoyed their work - some seemed to be genuinely pleased with themselves and the attentions they did receive.
Starscream leaned back into the shadows as one of the females came over. “Energon for you handsome?” she asked. The female was not tremendously tall – she barely reached the top of his chest. She was fairly sleek and her build indicated that she was a two wheeler. Her blue optics and accent indicated she was at some point an Autobot. Indeed, he could see the brand had been burned off her surface. A slave with some liberties, but not enough to free her. Starscream took the cube from her and she tilted her head and pursed her lips somewhat. “Care for anything else big boy?” she asked in a suggestive tone.
“No, just my privacy would be lovely.” Starscream responded with a hiss. He only hoped she did not just hit on him. He closed his optics briefly and exhaled slowly. There it was, a memory of a fembot from his past – a bright lively Autobot medic who treated Decepticon POW's. This female treated him frequently when he was captured. Taking care of injuries both sustained from work, but more often from the mistreatment of his handlers. Part of him could identify the plight of a slave, but the memory served to firm his resolve against her attentions. Starscream signed a gesture of dismissal with his hand sharply. He had no need for her. It was Enslave or be enslaved – he understood the concept of being on both sides.
She sighed softly then turned and walked away. She knew there were others who were thirsty or hungry and she handed out drinks to other warriors. He watched as one of the card players he had spoken to before took her into his arms. They locked lips and started to kiss. Starscream glanced away with a sickened “ick” sound and his tanks started to churn. He considered the mixing of Decepticon Seekers and Autobot grounders offensive. To see such a public display ultimately disgusted him. Grimacing at his thoughts, Starscream took his cube and moved to a location nearer to the bar and out of sight of the disgusting couple.
He sat quietly and sipped at his beverage slowly, lost in his thoughts until he found he was unable to hear them. As the evening wore on the music became heavier, faster and more lively. Some of the warriors attempted to dance, something Starscream thought was laughable. The chatter amongst the warriors became louder as the music increased until they were virtually shouting at one another. Starscream watched as Seekers gathered around a billiard table watching a pair of particularly skilled warriors play pool. The Seeker reckoned that they were probably scientists or at least fluent with the laws of physics.
Other Decepticons continued with their poker games. As a- new breed of slave was being born this evening, Starscream noted, a few warriors had bet themselves into destitution and all they had left was their services. One very pale Seeker, cream coloured body, pure white wings with blue wing stripes was bullied into submission, handed the tray of empty energon cubes from one of the Autobot Slave females and ordered to fetch more. Starscream might have considered briefly to set the situation right, no slave female was superior to any Seeker regardless of the situation, however, it was noted that the warrior in question was a chronic gambler and this was his way. Providing Whitespark, and his sniper, Windraker, could function 100% during battle in the morning, he did not care.
The energon cube in his hand was almost finished, just a few more sips were left when a brawl broke out. Four tables away. The two warriors hell bent on exposing the other as a cheater threw each other across the room, crashing into tables, people grabbing their food and beverages as they dogged the snarling pair. Energon cubes fell to the ground with small explosions. Glasses fell and shattered, oil spilled leaving slippery slicks on the floor. The pair slid across the room until a third mech, angry for having his energon explode in his face, stood up and winding his right arm back and punched the accuser clean across room. The trajectory of the flying seeker slammed him directly into Starscream's table causing the young fighter to leap from his seat, protecting the remainder of the energon he had been drinking. It was none other than Skywarp.
“For Primus sake!” Starscream shouted as he darted out of the way. He could feel his patience uncoiling and his nerves started to become unglued. “Have you all gone mad?” he looked at the gathering crowed of warriors, who left their cards, halted their pool game, left their beverages or their slaves. The cluster of warriors and the bristling pair were more than enough to trigger his claustrophobia. While the brawlers ignored, Starscream the Seeker realised he had to get out. He tipped back the remainder of his energon and pushed through the crowd. He could not help but notice other warriors starting to place bets on the outcome of the brawl, deciding who would win, and what other collateral damage would occur. With that in mind he ensured he would not be part of the mess and neatly escaped, barely noticed. his way back to the door, dodging the less than sober movements of his compatriots. Disgusted in the whole evening, Starscream left the commons and returned to his semi-private quarters.
Starscream keyed his door keypass and entered. The room was small, set up with bunks along the wall, each with foot locker. Above each platform was a weapons rack and a lamp. To the left of each platform was a table and writing tools. Across the room was a larger table and chairs, an energon dispensary as well as a sofa and an imager.
The Seeker proceeded across the room to his platform and disengaged his rifles and sidearm to hang on the rack. His side arm he placed in the drawer of the table next to his platform. He sat down with a cleaning cloth and some gentle cleanser and started to wipe his body down. He was not alone. Thundercracker was across the room, on the sofa reading a datapad in the dim light. The blue Seeker glanced up and sniffed the air, “you've been drinking, Starscream?” he asked. It was unusual for Starscream to do this – particularly before a mission.
“I was trying to have a peaceful energon, nothing more.” Starscream replied soaking the cloth with the cleaning oil. “and just one energon – I have a mission tomorrow.” He wiped his face and neck.
“The commons is the wrong place for peace, Starscream, you know that. Did you happen to see Skywarp?” the other asked setting his datapad down then fished through a box next to him.
Starscream tipped his head thoughtfully and realised that perhaps he should have remained back at his quarters for that quiet companionship he had desired rather than hanging out in the unruly heart of Darkmount. “Yes, I couldn't miss him; Actually he could not miss me. He was sent flying into me after starting a brawl over cheating at a card game,” he replied. “I hope he is not hung over tomorrow or I will hang him by his thrusters over the battlements of Darkmount as an example of what over indulgence does to people,” Starscream exhaled sharply then smiled. “ At least of the three of us, you had the smarts to stay home. I sure as the pit wished I did.”
Thundercracker chuckled softly and tossed Starscream an energy bar. “Eat this, its better than what is at the commons anyway. Also don't tell Skywarp. That walking tank will find my stash and eat my supply.”
Starscream nodded and peeled back the protective outer layer and slowly ate the energy bar. He chewed carefully while his mind played back the images in the briefing. Those structures still rankled him.
“Something is bothering you, Starscream?” Thundercracker asked, having noted his wingmate's intensely quiet mood.
“Unfortunately, yes...I have one of those feelings that something very bad will happen during the mission tomorrow and I'm told to ignore it.” he rubbed his face as if to wipe the thoughts away.
The blue Seeker frowned and placed his book down and sat up. “Gut feelings, I get those enough. Sometimes they mean something while other times they are just thoughts turning into manifestations of symptoms felt by the nervous system.”
He brightened an optic. “I don't usually get these feelings and I'm very much disliking it.” Starscream sighed heavily, “Oh I suppose he's right, I ought to just ignore it and mark it down as paranoia.” He tossed the cloth and the cleaner into the drawer beside his side-arm and shrugged his shoulders. He picked up his datapad and started to plug in his log and some of his rampant thoughts.
“What do you think is gonna happen?” Thundercracker asked trying to see if there is some way to comfort his ill at ease wingmate.
“A trap. That's all I can feel from this mission. Some sort of trap and that we're all gonna die.” Starscream put his datapad down and laid on his platform looking up at the ceiling. “I'm not ready to die...well, I am sure none of us are, but I am the only one who feels this dis-ease to fear the possibility of a battle end tomorrow...You know, I'm going try to get some sleep. If Skywarp returns, then keep him away from me. I'm not in the mood for his games, pranks or humour and most assuredly his stench.”
Thundercracker looked at the other with some concern. He never knew Starscream to have these apprehensions before missions. Usually his trinemate relished battle, not feared them. “good night, Starscream,” he said huskily before picking up his datapad to finish his entry.
Starscream's mind wandered for a bit until it settled down due to the calming proximity of his quiet companion.
The Seekers stood on the flight deck at the top of Darkmount. They were ordered in their ranks in front of their respective wing leaders. Starscream had Skywarp and Thundercraker in his unit. Skywarp was nursing a bruised face from the previous night's brawl. Starscream remained unsympathetic.
“Seekers, I do not care how you feel today, but Primus help your sparks should you fail this mission, however you are all here at least.” Starscream carefully strode back and forth in front of the three formations before him. “Skywarp and Thundercracker will each lead a sub-unit's 4 and 5 respectively and I will lead unit 7 and take point of formation. The same will happen with Nightfall's units. You are to shield and protect the bombers and ensure they get through to their targets with their payload.”
“Starscream, are you ready?” Nightfall asked.
“I am and we are, sir” the Seeker replied referring to his units.
Nightfall ordered his troops to attention then to the sky. Starscream turned back to his unit and did the same, leaping into the sky with the grace of a born flier.
As they neared their targets, the stealth teams fired and blew out the surface to air missile sites then replied with mission success. They banked and came in behind the attacking units to provide backup.
Starscream and Nightfall's unit came in from the sides of the Munitions facility. The over flew the strange ground structures that resembled shanty towns. Suddenly the ground below was lit up and the air exploded around them. Seekers started to fall from the sky, smoking, torn up as enemy troops on the ground opened fire.
“Argh, flack! Avoid it!” Starscream shrieked across all comms as he watched a unit including a bomber go crashing into the ground. Autobot warriors swarmed the downed fliers and checked for life and killed anyone showed it. “It's an ambush! We were expected!” Starscream screamed at Nightfall, who was experiencing similar problems.
Nightfall's units were similarity decimated. He had lost several warriors to the ambush and then to the Autobots below.
Starscream banked and his unit followed, he was determined to follow through and blow the rail systems, “Skywarp, Thundercracker, hassle the Autobots!” A streak of blue broke from the ranks, and a flash of purple indicated that the two Seekers had received their orders. Thundercracker flew low over the field and shook up the area with his controlled sonic booms. He blew out the audio systems of the ground bound Autobots as Skywarp teleported behind the lines and started a bombardment of cluster bombs.
A second set of anti aircraft weaponry was unleashed and the sky once more was filled with black shrapnel, chunks of Seekers, pink fluids, flames and smoke. He quickly surveyed the scene in front of him as he felt the sharp pain of bullets ripping through his right wing. His heads up display lit up with warnings of damage. He could still fly on the wing, this he could tell, but not for long. He had to bear with it and see to the mission.
“Nightfall, I recommend a strategic withdrawal.” Starscream communicated, but the other did not respond. Instead the navy blue and black Seeker flew his bombers toward the roads. The sky lit up with plumes of flame and smoke. Several Seekers spiralled toward the ground impacting, shattering and died. “Nightfall, this is madness, we must withdrawal, we are sorely out gunned while they have us torn to shreds in the sky!” Starscream saw the ground launch another volley of the anti aircraft shells. “Break formation and take evasive action!” Starscream ordered to his remaining wingmech.
“Belay that!” Nightfall responded. “Maintain formation and proceed to targets.”
Starscream's engines roared with rage, “Are you out of your mind?! I have lost at least half of my fighting strength!” Starscream was furious. 'Why did it seem that Nightfall wanted his units dead, they were unable to succeed, they could plan for another attack later, why the need to push on and so many die needlessly?'
Starscream once more sent a message to his wings, keeping Nightfall out of the link. “Fall back to the plateau, ignore Nightfall's insanity - call medivac and access losses, you are my warriors and I value each and every one of you - If I must, I will take the discipline from him so we may live to fight later. All wounded await medical attention.”
Starscream's units banked and flew down toward the plateau leaving their leader to circle alone.
Nightfall was considerably annoyed with the young wing leader. After Seeing Starscream's units withdraw, he then deemed it necessary to also pull back.
The battle ended in chaos, dead and dying Seekers lay scattered about with medics running between them. The metallic ground was pink with the spilled fluids and the Autobots had left the Decepticons to pick up the pieces of their failed mission.
Starscream transformed landing on a ledge above the plateau after having flown after a few of the departing Autobots. He let loose a whistle and shook his head. “We were massacred,” he said in a whisper walking through the fragments of wings and tails. He recognised some bodies as warriors he had watched enjoying the evening the night before. Starscream frowned. 'Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die' he thought to himself.
“It was for the cause,” Nightfall responded to Starscream's earlier comment about the. He flew overhead in a circle. Starscream glared at Nightfall as he landed to look over the carnage. “We will withdraw,” Nightfall said to his Wing Commander.
“You should have called that long before it got to this point,” Starscream hissed. The Wing Commander strongly disapproved of the losses. Starscream had lost many valued members of his unit and he disliked the notion of having to train up fledglings to replace them. “You should have realised we were tremendously outnumbered, out gunned and spared us the loss. Scrubbed the mission. We needed those warriors - for the cause. I fail to see how their deaths succeeded in anything but weakening our fighting strength will help our cause in the least, so don't give me that scrap that they died for the cause. They died in vain!”
The other Seekers were checking each other's injuries out. Skywarp was busy teleporting injured survivors into the staging area, then he returned with the larger parts of the deceased. Thundercracker assisted the medics.
Nightfall turned around, “Watch your tone with me warrior!” he snapped back. “I'm just as taken by the failure as you are.” Nightfall clenched and unclenched his fists.
The Seeker raised his hand and pointed accusingly.“Hardly, I recommended withdrawal - you chose to ignore me,” Starscream practically spat the words out at the other.
“I hardly take orders from you – insubordinate fledgling.” Nightfall responded. “You disobeyed my direct order.” The other warriors started to gather and watch the two commanding Seekers as they circled one another.
“Oh, fledgling is it? Well maybe this fledgling should be giving the orders from here on in,” Starscream snarled standing upright. His wings twitched then drew back in a challenging manner. Nightfall's wings also drew backward in response to Starscream's posture. “I declare you incompetent and challenge you to a duel,” the words fell out of Starscream's mouth surprising even him. 'Am I ready?' he wondered briefly. 'Am I actually going to fight this to the death – my death?'
Nightfall stared dumbly at the Seeker and then launched after him, fists enclosed. “Traitor!” he struck at the challenger.
'Apparently I am,' Starscream thought briefly as he caught the fist before it collided with his body. He twisted the arm sharply and bent it behind Nightfall's back and shoved him to the ground. “Try again, scrap-head,” Nightfall only responded with a sharp grunt of pain. The red Seeker smiled.
Nightfall rolled onto his back firing his weapons at Starscream. Striking the other in the chest flinging him backward off the ledge to the ground below. Starscream shrieked in surprise as his commander leapt off the ledge and body slammed him into the ground. Starscream screamed in anguish as his weakened wing was pierced by some metallic rubble and then was ripped off by force of his fall. The earth shuddered and dust flew up into the air. Seekers ran to a safer distance from the battling Seekers.
The two locked combatants left a small crater in the ground. Starscream attempted to bear his rifle on his opponent but Nightfall pushed it aside and punched him resoundingly in the jaw. His teeth seemed to rattle, his vision blurred then nearly blackened. Fighting to maintain his consciousness, Starscream glowered out of the haze and drew his knee up hard slamming Nightfall in the chest and pushed him off. Within moments Starscream had his weapon trained on the other and fired.
Nightfall, dodged Starscream's fire and lunged once more. He grabbed the Seeker's face and started to pound his head into the ground. “You'll never lead the Seekers because you are about to die!” Nightfall grasped Starscream solidly and lifted him into the air. He then drove his opponent face down into the ground. Starscream's scream was muffled by the soil, there was the ominous crunching in the centre-back of his neck to his shoulders. Starscream laid face down on the rocky surface, metallic dust swirled up in the wind and brushed across his face. Nightfall remained just behind the broken body of his subordinate, charging up his weapon.
A glimmer of red sunlight peeked through the thick Cybertronian cloud cover. It's red glow seemed to highlight the battle area in a blood red tinge. Starscream groaned. Pain pulsated across his body. He gathered his strength...the fight would end shortly. He did not wish it to end with his own demise. Still, there was a bit of fight left in him.
“You dare to attack me Starscream?” Nightfall hissed raising his weapon to shoot the downed Seeker in the back. He did consider that the Seeker's spark was fairly re-enforced with extra plating at the back and side, but if he angled it slightly, he could bi-pass it and fire a lethal, shot. The question was, did he wish to end Starscream? After all the young upstart usually had intelligent and well laid out plans, also this was the first attack against his commanding officer, and first action of insubordination he had witnessed. His adversary's history of clever escapes, have not gone unnoticed, but the Seeker was also a scientist. Something he considered a terrible weakness. However it was a leadership challenge and there were specific rules governing that. Rule one, each opponent was to fight as he or she naturally was. Rule two unless otherwise specified, the fight was to the death. Sometimes the rule allowed for exile, but Starscream did not specify at the time of his challenge so, unfortunately, it seemed Starscream would have to die. “You think you deserve to live? You are nothing. Nothing but animated scrap - you failed to dispatch me the price is your spark." Nightfall could see nothing in Starscream other than a creature who was all but dead.
As Starscream pushed himself up, he realised he was not paralysed. This was a good sign. As he spat pink glowing fluid into the Cybertronian soil, he also spat out a tooth. Pain sparked and surged through his limbs and his chest crunched and cracked as he moved. The red Seeker glowered and glanced over his broken wing at Nightfall. His neck sent signals of pain that indicated several of the metallic vertebra within his neck were fractured. Pain pulsed and nearly caused him to black out. He could see that the other was damaged, not nearly as bad as himself. Nightfall was cracked, dented and had a bent wing.
It was not uncommon for those of similar battle strengths to be locked in a combat that led to each other's mutual destruction. Due to their similar physical strengths and armaments as Seekers, Starscream had to contemplate how could he tip the playing field in his favour. What other strengths did he have that the other did not have as much of? Deceit - that was usually considered a strength and often highly valued in Decepticons. 'Not dead yet...'
Starscream pushed himself up to his knees, kneeling with his back to the approaching Air Commander. He spat fluids once again and attempted to make himself look vulnerable. It was not really all that hard to act vulnerable, he felt as rough as he looked.
“You'll enjoy this, I know,” Starscream rasped as he moved his left hand slowly to his waist, where he had a concealed energy dagger. He needed to buy himself some time and talking could potentially give him a few extra seconds. “Murdering your opponent with his back turned...execution style.” Starscream cocked his head slightly and pain once more pulsed through his systems. He glanced back to his commander. “but...where is the pleasure in that? You will never get to watch as the light fades from my optics, the fear of the end in them as they do,” he goaded. “There is no honour even... at least kill a warrior as he deserves, you ought to admit, how many of us would dare try to take your place.” Starscream leaned over and coughed hard, spitting up more fluids. His fingers closed around the hilt of his blade and he remained hunched over moaning. “You ought to end it quick, at least.”
The other Seeker considered Starscream's words, briefly. “You're right.” He grabbed the broken Seeker up by his broken wing and turned him around violently. Starscream screamed from the pain in his neck and his mishandled wing. “I should savour this, destroying you as you would have destroyed me.” He shoved his service pistol into Starscream's throat and was about to pull the trigger just as the younger mech energised his blade and drove it upward into Nightfall's chest. The blade found its mark, puncturing then cutting through the spark chamber. There was a slight crackling sound and Nightfall opened his mouth to screamed in agony before he fell to his side, optics going black and the rest of him darkening. As he fell, his finger flexed and pulled the trigger. The weapon discharged and Starscream felt the fiery burn as it struck him in the head. He also fell – unconscious and bleeding out – to the ground.
Other warriors ran to the fallen combatants and checked them for viability.
“Nightfall is dead” proclaimed the medic amongst them.
“And of Starscream?” asked Thundercracker.
“Alive for the moment, but not for long if we do not stop these wounds from bleeding,” the medic responded.
“Do we attempt to save him?” another warrior asked.
“We should, it was a legal challenge. Starscream did win – albeit barely.” Thundercracker responded. Skywarp who joined him nodded silently.
The medic opened his first aid kit and started to seal off some of the weeping wounds. “I have to get him to a medical facility or he won't survive, I do not have the means here to fix the major wounds, especially that wing.”
A medivac vehicle flew down into the middle of the smoking battle field. Stretchers of wounded warriors, the dying and the deceased were loaded on board. The bodies of the defeated Autobots were left to flying scavengers that circled patiently above the battlefield. A few minutes later medics came to claim the unconscious Starscream and the defeated Nightfall.
Acrid smell of ozone and sharp metals were the first odours the Seeker detected as his mind pulled out of the deep sleep he had been in for the week after his battle. The bullet from the dying Air Commander had narrowly missed his brain unit. The shock of the slug sent the Seeker into an extended reset cycle - which was fortunate. The shock and the pain would have probably killed him.
The next thing he became aware of was the cool nature of the room he was in, the throbbing ache in his head, and the tingling sensations along his wings - insidious itches that could not be reached. His wing twitched and he realised that he had two wings. The tingling was simply the signals being sent through a healing nervous system into the newly grafted wing.
He realised that there was a presence next to him. Heavy energy field that was partly responsible for the tingling his sensitive wings felt. He twitched his fingers and started to bring his optics online. His heads up display booted in, giving detailed information about his systems, he shut that down quickly – it was to much to take in all at once. Before him was Megatron, watching him in a near serene manner. Starscream winced, surprised at the visit and then fearful that Megatron would seek revenge upon the Seeker for dispatching his Air Commander.
“At ease Starscream,” Megatron said. “You were not the first to attack Nightfall, but you were the first to succeed in killing him. I do admit your duel could not have been any more ill timed as I required my Air Commander to oversee a number of critical missions, these missions had to be postponed. And you are in no condition at the moment to oversee these missions, Air Commander Starscream.”
Starscream blinked up and moved his mouth, sounds could not form very well. “I'm Air Commander now?” he rasped, voice cutting out periodically.
“I assume that was why you initiated the fight – am I incorrect?”
“No no, I am honoured...”
“Just remember, Starscream, the higher you go, the larger the target is on your chest. You may be considering being a leader sometime in the future, but that will happen over your dead body. My lieutenants are also very solid in their position, and you'd need to go through them before you could get near me. Just keep that in mind if you have other ambitions.”
“However, You have impressed me with your skill, cunning, and resourcefulness. In any event, I shall let our good medics attend to your healing process and when you are back field ready, you are to come to me first.”
“Yes my Lord,” Starscream said groggily.
“Good,” Megatron quickly turned on his heel and left.
Few moments later Skywarp and Thundercracker entered the room. They were smiling, well Skywarp was smirking impishly.
“You have an instinct, Starscream, but you did not die – nearly did though,” Thundercracker said as he sat down next to the newly promoted Air Commander.
“Does this mean you are leaving our room?” Skywarp asked hopefully. “Your platform is larger than mine, and I kind of want it.”
“You do get to pick your quarters and your final unit...”
Starscream glanced at both he felt quite tired and nodded. “I do want private quarters, yes. But I do not wish to break up my trine...I value you both and your company. I will consider the request to remain a unit.”
Thundercracker nodded. The two Seekers stood up and patted Starscream on the shoulder. “Get well Air Commander, and make those changes you wanted to see. We'll back you.” The pair left Starscream alone in the medical bay.
Starscream laid there for a while before his lips curled in a smile and he thought 'two more steps to go before I am at the top, Sub Commander and then maybe Decepticon Lord - one day'.