A/N: Here is part two. It remains one of my favorite stories (at least as far as writing goes), but it may be a while before third part is up.
Part Two: He Blinded Me With Science
Fortunately for the pair, the lab was located closer to the command deck near the surface. While anything but optimal, it did ease the tension in the jets' joints to see actual blue color out the windows rather than dark depressing overpowering black.
True to Thundercracker's word, the red and white Seeker was found hunched over a beaker filled with some dark violet liquid of dubious origins. Starscream himself was totally non-responsive to the world around him, so enraptured with his project was he.
Thundercracker had to smile at his brother. He looked to be in such bliss. So at peace. So… not Starscream. And the quiet Seeker had to wonder if this wasn't the true Starscream he was seeing. The one that existed back when he was only a scientist and not a warrior at all.
He had always had doubts about whether the Second in Command ever really wanted to be Commander. It wasn't that he wasn't a good leader. Quite the opposite in fact. He was the Decepticon Air Commander and led in Megatron's absence, even though he was more trouble than he was worth at times. Were he not so brilliant at what he did, Thundercracker suspected he would have been kicked out or deactivated long ago. But what the scientist-turned-fighter seemed to want was the attention that came with leading or the attempts for the job. Some acknowledgement that he was worth fussing over, be it positive or negative.
Had Starscream wanted to be a higher ranking Commander, he would be so now. Most couldn't see the mech behind the egotistical warrior. But the jets did. And as Thundercracker watched his brother work, he knew that if given the honest choice, Starscream would choose a test tube over a Command post any day.
However, like all good things in life, the Second in Command's peace was not to last. For when one brought Skywarp into a room with breakables, all kinds of merry hell tended to break loose. He thought he heard some humans mention people like him as a walking Murphy's Law… whoever this Murphy slagger was.
"Hey, Screamer!" chirped the teleporter as they made their way to his side. "What's the good word?"
Starscream's head shot up in surprise, having clearly not sensed the others entering. From the icy glare Skywarp received as a greeting, Thundercracker was sure that the unexpected interruption was far from welcomed. Then the glare turned to wide-opticed alarm as Skywarp's right hand reached over to poke… well… a weird something next to him.
"No, Skywarp, don't!" the scientist tried to lunge for the jar.
But it was too late and the jar smashed to the ground, spewing its putrid contents everywhere. The end result, while murder to the olfactory sensors, produced a visual effect not unlike a Picasso… if Picasso liked to paint with grayish-green chucky fluids. Thundercracker found the result to be quite unique among his brother's capers.
Starscream begged to differ.
"You slagging moron!" the Seeker railed like a grief-stricken maternal unit. "Do you have any idea what you just did?"
Ever the brains of the trio, the teleporter pondered the sludge, poking it with his foot slightly. "Um…" he ventured. "Cleaned off the counter?"
"That," snarled the livid scientist, "was the control for my latest experiment!"
"You're experimenting with fleshling discharge?" Skywarp asked, looking like he knew it was already too late to save Starscream's sanity, and that it couldn't hurt to humor the dear deluded bot.
"It was the fuel for my new amino-acid based, nuclear fused, solar-powered 26-JX9 roto-cylinder, plasma power generator." His optics shut down for a moment, unable to look at it any longer. Then they blazed to life again like the fiery pits of the Inferno. "And you are squishing it into the floor with your goddamn foot!"
Skywarp blinked and lifted his offending appendage, making a sloppy, squishy noise in the process. "Oh," he said, then paused for a moment. "Was it important?"
"It was only a new method of creating energon, thus saving the existence of our planet and race!" Thundercracker would swear the Seeker was practically vibrating where he stood. One would think Skywarp had suggested he join the Autobots, or something to that effect.
"Oh please, Screamer," the young jet scoffed, not intimidated in the least as he was well used to displays of fury from his brother. "Like that vat of goo would produce anything besides a good stink. We need something to do. Something fun…" he moved to inspect another jar, tracking the putrid greenish-gray plasma-whatever around with him.
"KMnO4 is not a toy!" Starscream quickly grabbed it before his comrade could destroy it as well. Thundercracker wisely resisted the growing urge to laugh good and long at the sight of the exasperated scientist and the curious street urchin. Some things never seemed to change with time, did they?
"Why? What does it do?" Skywarp asked. Starscream frowned, cradling it like one might a newly-sparked mech.
"I should let you drink it and then we could all find out together," the red jet hissed.
Oh sweet Vector Sigma, Thundercracker sighed. Don't tempt him to ingest the damn stuff! He would do it in a nanoclick if only to see what would happen. True to form, the black jet cocked his head to the side in intrigue.
"What is it like?"
The ugly look that Starscream gave him definitely got the point across that he thought his brother was as crazy as Dirge was now. Like he'd drink one of his chemicals to find out. Not everyone was a teleporting black and purple jet with a processing malfunction. "I imagine," he answered in the calm voice of a viper, "that it's rather like drinking 5 cubes of high-grade energon." At his brother's excited look he added, "without the fun."
The three of them winced at the thought. That sounded less than pleasant for the one downfall of drinking 5 cubes of high-grade energon was the galactic hangover that resulted. The last time Starscream had had such an energon overcharge, he had begged Thundercracker to kill him for the entirety of the following day. Whatever Skywarp found enticing about drinking the KM-whatever was gone, leaving him to once again find something to do. Seeing his brother's optics begin wandering again, Thundercracker tried for some quick intervention.
"Starscream," he inquired. "Skywarp and I agree that we need to get out of the Nemesis and do something. Anything to stretch our wings… proverbially of course."
Starscream pondered this, looking rather tempted at the thought. He opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off by his third wingmate's eager shout.
"I know what we need," Skywarp interrupted. "One of those water balloon fights! But let's use this… ah… what is this?" he pointed to a beaker.
Starscream sighed, shaking his head like an exasperated Creator to its protoform who was too stupid to know any better. "Sulfuric Acid?"
"Yeah! Let's use this Sulfuric Acid just to make things more interesting."
Sharing a flat look with his superior, Thundercracker had to chuckle. Never a dull moment. Not with their resident teleporter around.
"And anyway," the youngest Seeker continued as he went on with his fun-search around the lab, "your nasty smelling slop won't produce enough energy to fuel Laserbeak."
"It won't?" Starscream humored him for lack of anything better to do. "Says who? You?"
"Yeah says me," Skywarp retorted looking offended at his brother's lack of faith.
"You and what Decepticon University of Science and Technology degree?"
"Me and the Screw the Decepticon University of Science and Technology degree. I'm not all good looks and charm, you know," he grinned cheekily.
"You're not?" Starscream asked flatly.
"Nope. I read."
"Thundercracker reads," the red and white jet pointed to the quietly chuckling brother. "You do not read."
"I read!" Skywarp insisted. "And if you weren't such a slag-sucker, you'd realize there's more to life than a Command post and microscope."
"Enlighten me. What else is there?"
"Atole! That has more energy in one cube than 10 hundred cubes of your sludge." Well, if anything, he now his superior's attention.
"What is atole? Where did you hear of such a fuel?" Starscream demanded, seeing a chance for his energy-gathering mission after all. If the Autobots did not yet know of this strange fuel, then this could very well be the turn-around needed to finally win the war.
"A type of human fuel," Skywarp explained, puffing himself up with the pride of the well-informed. "They produce it in the Southern section of this continent. It is said it can produce nearly limitless energy."
"Human fuel?" The 2nd in Command deflated somewhat. "What good do an organic's nutrients do for us? Skywarp, you imbecile!"
"Well I thought that since you were all sciencey you could adapt it for us." Skywarp sniffed disdainfully, giving his elder brother a wounded look. "Obviously I overestimated you."
"I suppose that with a sample of this 'atole' I might find a way to adapt it for Transformer consumption," Starscream mused to himself, thinking of the possibilities.
Thundercracker, having composed himself a few minutes ago, leaned over to query, "perhaps we could turn this into our excuse to get out of the Nemesis for a day?" He tried not to sound too pleading, but he really really needed to get out in the open air the more he thought about it.
"Agreed," his superior nodded. He turned to his little brother who stood muttering angrily to a bottle of Na2Cr2O7. "Skywarp, you win, alright? We leave as soon as we collect the others."
Forgetting his anger toward Starscream, the teleporter perked up happily. "We're having our Sulfuric Acid balloon fight?"
"…No. We begin our quest."
"Yes, a quest," Starscream grinned gleefully. "A quest for atole!"
End Part Two
A/N: Alright, now we're starting to roll. For those of you who haven't read my profile, this chapter is taken very much from my own experiences in chemistry lab. Thank God I switched majors! Perceptor in the lab I was not. So yeah, everything from the Sulfuric Acid balloon fight to the quest to find atole is from my freshman year of college. Good times.
Ok, no one tried for the last one, so the question still stands: Who is Pearl Forrester and what does she have to do with Mike Nelson?
LKW: Thanks. I have a soft spot for the jets and I wanted to show them in a more positive and still in character light. Thundercracker was always described as the quiet one, I thought he'd be the calm in the storm that was his team. And poor Dirge… Skywarp isn't done with his antics by any means. I hope I do all six of them justice. Wish me luck!