AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a side chapter to "Thundercracker's Glory," written as a prize for JayKitSune, who scored the 4000th pageview on my DeviantArt page and requested a story detailing Starscream's reaction to Glory and her impact on the Decepticon base. It takes place during the events of Chapter 6, before Glory's question-and-answer session with Hook.
"She's doing it again, Soundwave," Starscream informed the Communications Officer, peering out the doorway of the control room and into the corridor.
"Specify her activities," Soundwave ordered, his visor never leaving the screen he was working on.
"Come see for yourself," Starscream snapped. "I'm not one of your midget lackeys."
Soundwave rose and joined Starscream in observing Glory as she made her way down the hall, arms wrapped around Ravage's chest beneath his forelegs and lugging him along with a grin. Ravage's audial receivers were pressed flat to his cranial unit in annoyance, but for the most part he simply hung limply in her grasp, wearing the expression of one who was making a great sacrifice for another and was not the least bit happy about it. Doubtless he had already been advised that it was in everyone's best interests if he simply endured the treatment and suppressed the urge to scratch the daylights out of the sparkling's purple paint job.
There wasn't even a flicker of his visor to indicate Soundwave was at all surprised by the sight. "Activities: normal. Recommended course of action: no interference."
"No interference?" Starscream spat. "When she's tormenting your own cassettes? I've seen you put dents in Decepticons who've so much as threatened to scratch their paint jobs. Why does she get special treatment?"
"Negative," Soundwave replied, leaving the doorway to go sit back down at the computer console. "No 'tormenting' or 'special treatment' occuring. Femme's actions toward Ravage: harmless."
Starscream snorted through his facial vents. "I still say you're coddling her."
From out in the hallway came another mech's exasperated voice -- Thundercracker's. "Glory, put Ravage down please."
"But I wanna hold the kitty!" came the plaintive whine.
"He's not a kitty, he's a Decepticon spy," Thundercracker explained, obviously layering on a calm tone when he probably wanted to be smacking his helm against a wall instead. "And I'm sure he doesn't like being dragged around like that..."
"He likes it!" she replied. "Doncha, Ravage?"
A low growl was her answer.
"Glory, just... put him... down..." Thundercracker grunted, as if he were forcibly trying to extricate Ravage from his niece's grasp. Ravage continued to growl annoyedly.
"Well?" demanded Starscream. "Aren't you going to rescue him?"
"Rescue: unnecessary," replied Soundwave without turning. "Situation: unfavorable but not deadly. Risk of damage to Ravage: negligable."
Small feet skittered across the floor outside the control room as the Decepticon cat finally hit the ground and bolted, his desire to escape the femme momentarily overcoming his usual preference for stealth.
"Now c'mon Glory, you have lessons," they heard Thundercracker tell Glory. "It's Wednesday, and you know what that means."
"I get to play with Wildrider!" she whooped.
"Playing comes after the lessons," Thundercracker reminded her, and his heavy footsteps, trailed by her lighter tread, marked their departure.
Starscream scowled. "The entire base is coddling her. By all rights that sparkling should be dead by now. But slag it, even the Stunticons like her. The Stunticons!"
"Negative," Soundwave replied. "Motormaster's attitude toward the femme: very negative."
"I'll give you that," Starscream conceded. "The only reason he hasn't ripped her apart is because Megatron would dismantle him if he did. That and the little scraplet's too quick for him."
Soundwave resumed typing, letting Starscream continue his rant.
"And the way everyone panders to her... it's disgusting." Starscream paced angrily. "Swindle, who lives to bleed every mech dry with his stupid con-artist schemes, spoils her rotten. Skywarp thinks he's a fraggin' second uncle to her. Rumble and Frenzy have practically adopted her as a fellow cassette. The slagging Stunticons are worse than before, what with their attacking anyone who so much as looks at her crossly. Even Megatron's willing to screw up everyone's schedules just to suit her whimsy..."
"Glory's education: hardly whimsical," Soundwave countered, rather disinterestedly.
"Why the frag is she HERE for an education?" demanded Starscream. "Slaggit, the Decepticon base isn't the place for a sparkling, orphaned or not, Thundercracker's niece or not! She belongs back on Cybertron in a foundling home or in Shockwave's academy, not constantly underfoot among our elite force, egging the blasted cassettes on in their pranks, vandalizing the base walls at every opportunity..." He paused to fume silently a moment, then continued. "I don't know WHAT Megatron was thinking when he agreed to let the brat in the base! If I were leader of the Decepticons..."
A wild hoot echoed from the corridor, and the two mechs looked up to see an unlikely high-speed parade bolt past the doorway. In the lead was Wildrider, in his Ferrari form and an enthusiastically-grinning Glory sitting atop him and clinging on tightly, the two of them laughing gleefully. Close behind trailed Dragstrip and Breakdown, also in their vehicle modes, Dragstrip carrying Rumble in his seat and Breakdown with a wildly hollering Frenzy clutching his roof. Motormaster roared past not two seconds later, bellowing obscenities at the top of his vocalizer and his black paint blotched with patches of glue and what looked to be feathers. There was no sign of Dead End -- though a few telltale streaks of dark red on Motormaster's front bumper indicated a possible reason why.
Starscream pointed dramatically at the receding circus. "See? EXACTLY what I was talking about! She's worse than useless -- she's stirring up chaos! If we don't send her back to Cybertron soon, this will cease to be a military base and become a fraggin' circus!"
Soundwave stood. "Chaos was prevalent before she arrived," he pointed out. "Watch the monitors. Rescue of Rumble and Frenzy from Stunticons: necessary." And the tape deck jogged out of the room.
"Why do I bother talking to you?" Starscream demanded of Soundwave's back, and flopped into the chair.
Technically he shouldn't even be in the base. He should have been on patrol with the rest of his trine. But Megatron had effectively seen to it that his Air Commander would be unable to complete his duties today. Skywarp was currently doing grunt labor for the Constructicons as punishment for his latest asinine prank against Onslaught, a prank he'd been stupid enough to be caught in the act of setting up. And Thundercracker... where was that slagger anyhow? He should have reported for duty after dropping the brat off with the Stunticons. She couldn't need his direct supervision ALL the time!
As if on cue, voices trickled in from the hallway.
"This way, they couldn't have gotten far," Thundercracker was saying, obviously trying to keep a calm front on but his anxiety leaking into his voice.
"I warned you, didn't I?" drawled Dead End, sounding entirely unconcerned. "Her suicidal habit of annoying much larger mechs would be her premature doom, I told you. But no one listens, do they? Not that Dead End ever has anything pertinent to say..."
"Will you shut up and put some hustle in your step?" snapped Thundercracker. "Your leg's not THAT damaged, you can quit limping like a drama-queen..."
Starscream shook his head and kept his eyes on the screen, not even sparing the doorway a glance. If Thundercracker demanded his help in rescuing his obnoxious niece, he'd ignore him and later claim he'd been busy. But the two mechs passed by without addressing him, their voices fading as they continued down the hallway after the renegade cassettes, Stunts, and sparkling.
Huffing a sigh through his vents, he picked at the keyboard in an attempt to look like he was doing something constructive. Thundercracker... he'd known the blue Seeker for vorns, or at least he'd thought he had. Even before they had been assigned to Megatron's elite unit, Starscream as Air Commander and Thundercracker as a front-line warrior, they had fought side by side in the general ranks of the Decepticon army. While he wasn't nearly as close to him as Skywarp had been, he had talked with him, enjoyed off-duty trips to the oilbar with him, even shared quarters with him for a brief period before the Nemesis had launched. He had always known Thundercracker as a quiet, thoughtful mech, quite in contrast with Starscream's proud demeanor and Skywarp's boisterousness. He had provided their trine with a sense of stability, keeping them grounded (figuratively, of course) and on task when the others got caught up in their own pursuits. And while Starscream knew Thundercracker loyalty toward the Decepticons was no sure thing, he had never considered that anything could make Thundercracker abandon their trine.
And then Glory had come along. Primus, Thundercracker could have told someone he had a sister -- especially one who was also a member of the Decepticon army, albiet not a front-line fighter. And he could have asked for everyone's opinion before dragging her into the base. Now the former warrior had become a bumbling parent, spending more time with that brat than on anything of any importance, such as flight patterns and weapon drills.
How long had it been since they had flown as a complete trine? How long since both Skywarp and Thundercracker had joined him in the skies as a team? With one or the other of his wingmates constantly kept in the base to watch over Glory, Starscream was forced to either pick a flier from the coneheads or haggle with Blitzwing in order to fill out his trine. And while it helped to have a complete formation in the air, it wasn't the same. They were incomplete. And it was the femme's fault.
That's not the only reason, an annoying voice sneered in the back of his CPU. She's broken up the trine, but that's not the only reason you hate that sparkling. Admit it, you're jealous.
"Why would I be jealous of that spoiled brat?" he muttered, flipping through images of various sections of hallway on the monitor. "What's to be jealous of?"
What isn't there? the annoying voice continued. She's the center of attention. Whether they're trying to kill her or bending over backward to please her, the other mechs pay her more mind than anyone else in this base. Including you. And isn't it telling that in Megatron's optics, that femme's a more valuable asset than you are?
He growled and ground his dental plates, but he couldn't argue. Femmes had never been common on Cybertron even before the war, and as few of them had any combat programming many of them had been killed during the first initial clashes between the two armies. The Autobot femmes had gone into hiding, while the Decepticon femmes were either upgraded with weaponry and battle programming or kept locked away under the strictest of protection. It wasn't a matter of the survival of the species -- unlike most organic species, a femme wasn't necessary to create new Cybertronian life -- but femmes still possessed unique abilities and skills that neither side was willing to lose through their extinction. It was for this reason that so few of them were allowed on the front lines of the fighting.
And while the Decepticons might be winning the war on Cybertron, they were rapidly losing the few femmes they had. With every passing megacycle more and more Decepticon femmes defected to the Autobots, and while Shockwave's forces had managed to capture and reprogram a few back to their side, many more were eventually lost in battle. Just a few months ago, before Glory's arrival, Shockwave had reported an Autobot shuttle that had taken heavy fire and crashed, killing everyone aboard. Seven of the dead were femmes... and five of those former Decepticons.
So when a young, orphaned femme fell into the Decepticon Command's hands, they weren't going to take any chances. They would do all in their power to keep her on their side. Glory -- and by extension her uncle Thundercracker -- were both invaluable part of the Decepticon forces, though neither of them realized it.
Whereas Air Commanders, while valuable, are not irreplaceable, sniggered the voice.
He snarled and slammed a fist into the console. It was Windblade's fault, he decided. Never mind that he'd never met the femme scientist or even knew she'd existed before learning of her death, he was still blaming her for this mess. If she hadn't gone and gotten herself slagged, her spawn might not now be terrorizing the base, disrupting and weakening his trine, and dragging Starscream down in Megatron's optics.
Soundwave chose that moment to re-enter the room. "Dismissed, Starscream."
"Took you fraggin' long enough," Starscream sneered, looking the tape deck up and down. "Not a scratch on you -- how'd you save the brats from Motormaster anyhow?"
"Motormaster's tires: ruptured during pursuit," Soundwave monotoned, ignoring Starscream's hostile tone. "Current location: repair bay. Cassettes and Glory no longer in danger."
"Until the next time she frags someone off," Starscream grumbled, standing and stepping aside from the console.
Soundwave took Starscream's seat and went back to work as if he'd never been interrupted. Starscream just growled and strode off.
Starscream turned sharply -- just in time to catch a launched water balloon smack in the face. He staggered back from the impact, momentarily blinded, though the scamper of small feet and the giggle of a very young femme and two cassettes immediately identified his swiftly retreating attackers.
When the momentary blindness lasted a lot longer than a moment, he reached up to wipe off his optics, allowing him some degree of sight. His fingers came back dripping with flourescent green paint.
Slag her, he thought disgustedly, and stalked off for the washracks.