It’s quiet now.
Quiet was not something he expected in the Ark. The Nemesis was always loud with fights and terrible whispers in the dark. Parts of the ship had been relegated to disuse over time, and there was no limit to the nooks and crannies that it held; that it could hold.
Starscream missed it.
He was tired. Interrogations were always tiresome. They had been playing this game for millions of years at this point, and occasionally one of them got caught by the opposing side, roughed them up for information and then let them go. Starscream supposed he was one of the higher-ranking officers to get captured in a long time, but it was not his first time by any means. Maybe it was the first time on Earth.
They had dosed him with something. He felt it like a blanket on his logic processor, trying to make him more suggestible. They needn’t have bothered; he had always been a suggestible mech, even without pharmacological aide. That didn’t mean he would give info up easily; no, it just meant he was open to whatever they had to offer.
This time, there were no offers. Which was odd.
Like no, “if you tell us where Megatron is we will let you go,” or “give us some intel on Cybertron,” or “what are you plotting, you disgusting bot fragging son of a Cessna?” No, he didn’t get any questions yet. Just waiting.
Primus he was bored. There were no other captives right now for him to make fun of, and no audience meant no showboating. Just him and… Jazz.
Jazz. That fragging “spymaster.” Walking in with a flash of smile and just sitting there, watching him. Saying nothing, asking nothing, providing nothing. Just a smile and a watchful gaze.
Clearly, he was trying a new tactic. Hoping Starscream would crack under the pressure. Start talking and just give everything away. Mech was so fragging stupid.
Had they increased the temperature? Frag it was hot. His fans were whirring near maximum, and the heat made his processor lag. He felt sick.
He put his helm on the table, trying to cool his cheekplate.
Slag, he felt drunk.
“Why am I drunk,” he said into the side of the table.
“We’re celebrating, Starscream. We won the battle and we got you. Congrats.”
Starscream huffed his vents and turned his red optics to train on Jazz. “Would think that there’d be more confetti,” he said irritably.
“It’s on backorder. Confetti that would be appropriately sized for Cybertronians is hard to come by. The small human stuff gets clogged in our vents. Trust me, I’d know.”
Starscream huffed his vents. “This is a strange interrogation,” Starscream said offlining his optics, feeling a swash of heat rip over his processor. He felt awfully lightheaded.
“Who says we’re interrogating you?”
Starscream onlined his optics to see Jazz smiling with a tilt of his head. Starscream slowly pulled back, lifting his helm off the table, but holding his servo up to his helm. He was wincing, and his mouthplate was in a deep frown.
Starscream sighed. “I’m bored with this already, you’ve kept me longer than usual. What are you after, this time?”
Jazz said nothing.
Starscream tilted his helm to meet the saboteur’s optics behind the visor. Jazz was just watching and smiling.
Dimly something registered in his processor that this was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong- but Primus he felt lightheaded. Untethered. Undone.
“How are you feeling?”
That question was dangerous. Always had been for him. He felt loss, betrayal, sparkbreak, but also just annoyance and irritation at almost everything. He felt disappointed when Megatron hit him, and sadder still when his schemes failed to materialize-
Oh. He had meant physically. Of course.
Starscream held up his other servo to his helm, grimacing. “This idiocy is giving me a helmache.” With a small spurt of fear, he realized he was not in stasis cuffs. He was not bound at all. He could stand up and do whatever he wanted, even attack-
“Oh, Primus,” he said as his helm erupted in fiery-hot pain.
“Hmm, some pain? Dizziness? Nausea?”
Starscream stared at the Autobot for a moment. He looked to his servos, looked to the room, looked to the Autobot again. Fear started to creep around his spark.
Something was terribly, terribly wrong.
“What did you do to me?” he whispered.
Jazz smiled. “How are you sure we did do something?”
“Because I feel…” he stopped. He couldn’t form the words.
“You feel what?” Jazz asked, barely concealing his excitement.
Starscream blinked and stood from the chair, backing away. “What did you DO?”
“Don’t be frightened, this is only temporary. We’re testing to see if it works,” Jazz said standing.
Starscream backed up until he hit the wall behind him. He sank to the floor and folded his arms across himself. Tears sprung to his optics. He couldn’t help it.
“I… I don’t understand.”
“It will fade, don’t worry. We just needed to see if it worked on a Decepticon. But before that, let’s test it, shall we?”
Starscream turned his helm to stare at the saboteur. Jazz came to him, bent over and lifted a servo under his chin. Then Jazz kissed him. It was platonic, and less than a peck, but it was still shocking.
Starscream’s eyes burst wide but felt himself do nothing to stop him.
“Oh it definitely appears to be working. Let’s try hitting you.” He slapped him across the faceplate. More tears were now flowing, and even a little energon dripped out of his now split lip, but still Starscream did nothing. “Sorry about that,” Jazz said, wiping the energon from the seeker’s lip. “We’ll get that fixed for ya.”
“What did you do to me?” he asked again, whispering.
Jazz finally relented, his optics softening. “Pacification. We found a way to remove violence from you.”
Starscream sat dumbly on the ground, letting the words “pacification” sting in his audios. He’d heard the word before, used in this context. He felt a deep-seated dread coil in his tanks.
“How long does it last?” he breathed out.
Jazz was seated on the ground next to him now, rapidly typing away at a datapad. He looked up and saw the pain in the seeker’s optics, and it looked like he had just a tiny crack in his resolve. He swallowed and shook of the feeling, his perfect mask of affability back on. “It should last about a cycle in total from the dose we gave you,” he said. “Tell me, what does it feel like?”
Starscream stared at the mech and frowned. “This is a new low, Autobot.”
Jazz nodded. “It is a little extreme for our usual methods,” then he tilted his helm. “But this is not anything the Decepticons wouldn’t do, hmm? Shockwave’s experiments? The reprogramming of the Constructicons against their will? Nothing beyond the precedent you all have already set.”
“So you aren’t any better than the Decepticons, then. Glad that’s been established,” Starscream said hatefully, his vocalizer pained.
“The faster you tell me what I need to know, the less likely I’ll have to give you another dose.”
Starscream offlined his optics and sighed. “It feels… like you opened my processor, got overenergized, and purged all over it.”
Jazz pursed his lips. “Hmm. Vivid. How about your desire to hurt me?”
Starscream sighed, leaning his helm against the wall again, looking levelly at the Autobot. “Nonexistent.”
“Do you feel like you could fight me if your life depended on it?”
Starscream hesitated and felt more cleaning fluid well in his optics. “N-no,” he said his faceplate twisting.
“Hmm,” Jazz hummed. “No capacity for self-preservation?” He leaned forward, his field brushing up against Starscream’s. In it, he only found fear and anger, but not an ounce of murderous intent.
“Dizziness? Nausea? High-temperature?”
Starscream looked at him. “Yes,” he said simply.
“How do you feel about Megatron?”
Starscream deigned not to answer but felt it in his spark. He no longer wanted to kill him. That... was disturbing. “How long did you say this lasted?”
Jazz checked his chronometer. “Ah, should be wearing off shortly.” He pulled out some stasis cuffs, and gently clicked them onto the seeker’s delicate wrists. “Thank you for your participation.”
Starscream narrowed his optics. “You didn’t give me a choice slagger,” he said angrily. “When I get back, I’m going to make sure we cook up something… something…” He trailed off, his optics becoming unfocused. His glossa swelled in his mouth, or at least it felt like it.
Jazz looked at him and stood. “Interesting. Works even with threats or thoughts of violence.”
Starscream suddenly looked very, very frightened. “Where… where did you get this formula? This drug?”
Jazz waved a finger at the seeker on the ground. “Ah-ah-ah, Starscream. Trade secret.”
“No, please, Jazz? Please. I’m begging you.”
Jazz frowned and was unnerved by the sincerity. “Why?”
“It’s not… it’s not wearing off.”
Jazz’s frown deepened.