Chapter One: Limbo
The glowing ball of light moved slowly in its orbit about the steel, mechanical planet, as it had for millennia. It was not a star, and not a satellite, but the soul, the essence of a creature long dead, and yet, long undead.
Below it, time passed both slow and fast. The landscape of the planet changed rapidly and strangely; first it grew, giving birth to steel and crystalline spires and walkways, then it was destroyed, bursting in the fires of war, only to be rebuilt, only to be destroyed again. Old cities were destroyed and new ones were built with their recycled scrap.
The light could hear the voices of the living as the millions of years passed. They were happy, and then sad, and joyous, and angry. They were the people of the planet. The people of Cybertron.
And the light was forever cut off from it.
Oh, it had tried to rejoin numerous times. It could easily possess a body, but this proved to be ineffective as a permanent solution. It even once gained its own body back, only to have it destroyed. Ambitions finally crushed, it just circled the planet, and waited for the end that never came.
"I think I'll pray," it said, its voice coming out articulated, ghostly, yet calm. "They say that we were created by Primus, or some believe. There are so many contradictions, it is beyond logic, but nothing logical has worked thus far. So, Primus, if you are there, why are you torturing me? Why have you not let me die? They say I am mutated. I think this is cruel, for even other mutates have been destroyed."
Silence greeted the light.
"Answer me!" its voice grew a bit shriller. "What have I done to deserve this endlessness? Either grant me a new body or let me rejoin with the others. Even my own comrades from long ago have died of old age by now, replaced by better, more updated models."
"I suppose you aren't even there. I bet the legend of Primus is just that; a story that creators tell to their creations to ease their sparkling-minded fears. I am not a sparkling, but I know that this existence is unnatural."
The voice that came at the glowing light seemed to surround it completely, as if it were a physical entity. The sound and feel of it was overwhelming and yet pleasant, as if carrying the essence of a long lost home and family.
"I've heard you."
"Then tell me! Why am I here? What is the purpose of this endless limbo?"
"Out of all my children, Starscream, you have proven to be one of the most contemptible. I do not wish for your knowledge and emotions to rejoin with the others."
"What?" The ball of light fairly shook with fury. "I am contemptible? There are surely others who are worse than I am! What about Megatron, who thrust the planet into war for millennia?"
"He served his function as I planned it. You…you strayed from your purpose. You denied your destiny, and myself in this foolish plot to become a ruler."
"Foolish?! All I wanted was a chance! Megatron was no better! He allowed the planet to fall into squalor, with its inhabitants either dead, starving, or fighting to survive! He only created more wrongs that were compiled on those already transgressed before him from the previous rulers! He did nothing to solve them!"
"I know you did not care about your brethren, Starscream."
"Wrong, Primus, they did not care about me first! I used the logic given to me, and was betrayed time and again! I had no family, no friends! I only had myself to rely upon. I worked so hard to achieve my goals, only to have them ripped from under me by Galvatron!"
"Your selfishness is still abundant. Until you can prove to me that you cared for anyone other than yourself, I cannot accept you."
"Who did Megatron care about then, oh Primus? Aside from himself?"
"That is knowledge you cannot have access to. Your limbo has nothing to do with Megatron, Starscream."
The ball of light was silent, and the essence of the voice faded. It circled the planet once, then again.
"Primus? What…what if I could have a second chance? Give me the chance to prove that I am capable of something that would allow me back?"
"Primus, please, I beg you. Anything is better than this torture. I know…if a second chance were to be had, you could give it. Please! I demand a second chance!"
"Starsceam, you were blinded to those about you, to yourself and your planet, by your ambitions. How am I to know that, if given this chance, you will not just repeat your actions?"
"If I knew what I had done, then I could avoid those mistakes! Just tell me! How will I know if you do not tell me?"
"If I told any of my children what they needed to know, I would not have created them in the first place. Only you can decide what a mistake is for you, Starscream."
"Then what do I do?"
The voice once again became silent, its comfort leaving, but its absence was brief. "You are beyond space and time, Starscream. I will give you this second chance, this only chance, for you to learn."
The glowing light trembled. "You…you mean it? You are going to give me this chance?"
"It has already been given…" The voice left, taking with it the comfort it provided. All that was left was emptiness that now seemed sourer after such a brief lapse in what seemed like eternity.
"Wait…what? What's that supposed to…" The turn of the metal planet before the light spun backwards, swiftly. Time shifted back as the light was drawn towards the planet.
Starscream found himself standing in a tall, peaked hallway with gleaming walls and crystalline windows. Below him, his reflection looked back up at him from the spotless polished floor, his expression one of disbelief. It reflected his body, a younger body, free from the scars of battle and war, gleaming and new. He could almost detect the fumes of the new paint upon him.
No insignia decorated his wings.
"I'm…a-alive," he touched the blue of his arms, the red of his torso. This was not his Earth jet form, it was his tetrajet form. "I'm on Cybertron, before the war…this…" He looked down the hall, then at the other Cybertronians traversing the hallway. "This is the military academy, before the Decepticons were even reformed…!" He smiled. The smile faded. "Wait, I remember this day. Something bad is about to…"
Starscream found himself shoved to the floor as something…or someone…collided with him. Laughter and squirms came down on him from above as he was fairly crushed into the floor. "Get…get off me!"
"I think we squished one of those nerdy bots," a voice came at him, almost from memory. Two warrior class bots picked themselves up and grinned down at Starscream. He recognized them immediately. Thundercracker and Skywarp. He stared at them in disbelief. They were so…young! They don't know who I am…I don't think I knew who they were either. They frowned when he refused to do anything but stare at them. "Is it alive?"
"Maybe we should scrape it up before someone slips on it."
More laughter came. Starscream growled.
"Enough, you two."
Starscream's optics widened at the voice that caused the warriors to straighten and shuffle off. He could recognize that voice anywhere, and yet…
A large white hand grasped his arm and he was easily hoisted to his feet. Once righted, he backed away from the tall white painted jet before him. "Skyfire?"
The jet regarded him strangely, but with a slight smile. "Yes, Starscream?"
"I…" Starscream thought. What day is this? Of course! We were students in the academy before we graduated, and then we became partners assigned together during our time with the military! We tested organic theories! "Nothing, I was just surprised, that is all."
"You shouldn't let others push you around, Starscream," Skyfire frowned.
Starscream's optics clouded. "I don't intend to, anymore," he turned and looked about, searching his memory for where he was supposed to go. It's the end of the day…time to go home…which was the barracks. Oh slag, the barracks. I've been with my own private quarters for so long, I'd forgotten what it was like to share…and with such a large bot as Skyfire.
"Are you alright, Starscream?"
"You look a bit…lost?"
"I must've taken a slight jostle from the fall," Starscream shrugged. "Aren't you going to the lecture tonight? There's a lecture or something going on, if I remember correctly?"
"Well, I was going to, but if you aren't feeling well, I'd rather not. Do you want to see the medical personnel?"
"No, I don't," Starscream scowled. "I'm fine, Skyfire, I told you!"
Skyfire flinched, seeming a bit…dejected. "Oh, alright. If you say so."
Starscream frowned, then softened. "I'm sorry, Skyfire. I guess I am a bit…upset about…I don't know. Um, just forget about it. Go to your lecture." He turned from Skyfire and continued down the hall. Great, Starscream. Primus just told you to be more wary of those about you, and first thing you insult Skyfire. This isn't the same Skyfire as before, this is the one before the accident. When you were friends, at the academy. Your…only friend, actually.
Starscream halted and cast a glance to Skyfire. The big jet was walking slowly in the opposite direction. Starscream frowned. This lecture…it was about something boring. Minerals. Alien minerals. I know them now, but back then they couldn't be more boring. I had wanted to know about alien life, about the possibility of organisms not made from sparks and cores and metal. I know they exist now! Well they will, soon enough…
"Wait, Skyfire!" Starscream ran down the hall to his friend, who waited upon hearing his name. "I want to go to the lecture with you."
"Are you…sure? I didn't think you were interested in minerals."
"Well, no, because you were interested in it, and I know you'd tell me about it anyway, but," Starscream shrugged, trying to think of a valid excuse for wanting to go, aside from the reason of seeing his friend without the cloud of faction before them. Skyfire waited patiently. "Look, I just want to go now!"
Skyfire gave a small laugh, small and to the point, as many things he did were. As if making up for how tall and massive he was, trying not to be overbearing on purpose… "Sure, Starscream. If you want to go so badly!"
Starscream smiled, somewhat elated that he wasn't barked at or turned away. He has no idea what would happen to us in the future, how we would become enemies. Starscream's smile faded as they walked along. I should do what I can to prevent that from happening again. I was not loyal to him, and chose the Decepticons and Megatron over a friend. The Decepticons were a sorry replacement for that friendship…all because my hatred for the Autobots got in my way. Anger that a friend could choose my enemy over my friendship. I couldn't explain why I was following Megatron to him, I had no chance, no time. I let him betray me, in a way.
I must prevent the Autobots from ever becoming a threat to this friendship. Or the Decepticons, for that matter.