What if Starscream was the one who crashed? Would Skyfire still end up with the Autobots? Or would he join the Decepticons?
I do not own Transformers. Though I wouldn't mind owning Starscream and Skyfire plushies that could snuggle up together, heh heh….
The transmission was breaking up. Skyfire's circuits seized up in panic. "Starscream!" No, this couldn't be happening. Starscream was the best flier on Cybertron, if not that, than the best in the entire Science Corps. It was a fact of life. Starscream just Did. Not. Crash.
Yet that was exactly what seemed to be happening. Without a thought to his own safety, Skyfire gunned his engines, racing to his bondmate's last known location, mentally cursing the seeker's boundless curiosity. Why oh why, had Starscream chosen this planetary pole to get curious about, they'd seen plenty on their exploratory missions. Why had he refused to accompany his partner, instead performing mindless analysis at the equator that a sparkless drone could do. Maybe if he'd followed Starscream, the smaller mech wouldn't be…. No. Don't think about that. Starscream never crashed.
By the time Skyfire arrived at the pole, all he found was an impenetrable ice storm, forcing him to veer off. As soon as it passed, he flew every sensor sweep he could think of, crossing the pole time and time again, every sensor sweep punctuated by repeated, frantic hails. No response. No trace. No sign of Starscream. The residue from the storm combined with quickly refreezing ice had even concealed the location where his partner had gone down.
Skyfire returned to Cybertron in a daze; crashing badly due to lack of fuel. He didn't react to the medics repairing him, didn't taste the energon they forced on him. Nothing mattered. Nothing would matter ever again. He hadn't been able to find Starscream.
By the time the medics released him from their iron grip, he'd recovered enough mentally to go before the Expedition Council to see if it was possible to organize a retrieval mission. The request was turned down flat. The reason given was that with the recent energy crisis and political unrest, there was no fuel and personnel to spare for impossible missions. But what really got Skyfire's afterburners in a twist, was the Council's barely hidden glee at the prospect of Starscream's death. He'd known his love and the Council had never truly seen optic to optic, his lover's temper combined with his abrasive personality and genius had made him a snag in the Council's collective aft on more than one occasion, but to rejoice in his disappearance?
Not to mention, the council hadn't given him any more than a mild slap on the wrist for his carelessness with his council assigned partner and bondmate. That was the worst; it felt like they were rewarding him for abandoning his bond-mate. No fines, no restrictions on data access, not even any personal leave so he could morn on his own in peace. He was only issued a mild, insulting reprimand in his file, and a new mission to leave on in two orns. With a new partner.
The last was the final straw. He angrily quit the Scientific Corps, ending up in the worst dive he could find, trying to drown his grief, guilt, and rage in high-grade. He woke up the next morning lying in a refuse pile with several serious dents and torn connections he couldn't remember getting. He picked himself up, and went back to his quarters to find an eviction notice on his door. If he'd been thinking rationally, it would have made sense: as he was no longer a member of the Scientific Corps, he was no longer entitled to stay in their housing. But he wasn't. At that moment, it was just another in a long series of grievances he intended to nurse for a long time.
As he packed up the few memento's of his life with Starscream, things like his lover's favorite data pad, or the holo he'd had made of their anniversary, something tore in Skyfire at how little there was left of his life with Starscream. Fliers as a rule didn't collect much in the way of objects, though Starscream had told Skyfire once about an old trine mate of his, who had collected stuff like a junkyard, but to see all his memories reduced to two small crates of knickknacks and awards with a few extra data pads on top, somehow seemed wrong.
A data pad was knocked to the floor by his restless pacing. As he bent to pick it up, he noticed it contained Starscream's latest pet project that he'd been working on in his spare time. If Skyfire could remember correctly, Starscream had been developing it as a favor for a colleague who now worked in Enforcement. The project was a way for Enforcement to take a mech into custody with a minimum of damage. The "null ray" as Starscream, had called it, worked by scrambling electrical connections so a unit was temporarily paralyzed when hit with a blast. According to the plans, the null ray should work the way it was intended, but as Skyfire studied the plans, he realized that with a minor modification, the paralysis wouldn't be temporary. One precise hit from the modified null ray, and a unit would need a medic's help simply move again, never mind transform. True, the design was complex, but he'd known how his love thought better than any engineer on Cybertron. It shouldn't be that difficult to build, even with the modification he planned. Best of all, if it worked, he'd have something of Starscream with him where ever he went.
Twenty vorns later Cybertron was on the verge of collapse. A faction of dissatisfied mechs calling themselves the Decepticons had started terror tactics on various installations, trying to force the Senate to give in to their demands. More and more mechs were requesting combat and self-defense upgrades and weapons. While Skyfire sympathized with the plight of the Decepticons, the number of casualties caused by their assaults was enough to sicken the former scientist. There was another faction forming, coming together of units who simply wanted to resist the Decepticons. Skyfire didn't completely agree with them either. Yes, the way the Decepticons were going after their goals was horrible, but that didn't mean the goals themselves were bad. Skyfire had never forgotten how his beloved bondmate had been slighted and scorned whenever possible by the Scientific Exploration Council, even how that hadn't ended even when Starscream was no longer there to defend himself. He could see how the Senators had energon to spare while Keon and Vos provinces were on the verge of a complete shutdown. Surely there was a way to address the issues the Decepticons were in arms about without the massive loss of life. The methods were the only thing about the Decepticons that bothered him, as far as their ideals went, Skyfire was completely supportive.
At least he had the means to defend himself, should he find himself in a firefight. The null rays had been completed, and fit so smoothly into his systems one would think that they had always been there. True, he'd had a slag of the time trying to get the things to work, particularly as Skyfire discovered that Starscream hadn't had the chance to complete the energy conversion matrix. The materials and installation had nearly cleared out all of his saved credits, also partly because he'd chosen to upload a combat/firefight program at the same time as the installation, reasoning that weapons didn't do much good if you didn't know how to use them. He'd never tested them outside of a firing range yet, but with the situation on the streets he didn't doubt he would get the chance.
Sometimes he wondered what Starscream would have made of the current situation. Primus knew that the seeker's fiery temperament would have taken passionately to the ideas of the Decepticons, to their calls of an end to discrimination to military models, to their calls for a new and better Cybertron. But would Starscream be as horrified as he was at the devastating loss of civilian life, of femmes and sparklings cut down with no chance to defend themselves? Would he fall for the rhetoric of the Decepticons, and join in the slaughter? Would he follow the hypocrisy of the Autobots, and preach freedom, peace, and tolerance while upholding a system that was crumbling under its own weight? Who knew?
Primus, he missed Starscream. Not only because he was his bondmate; but because complicated issues had a way of clarifying themselves when the seeker was around. Skyfire knew he had a tendency to get bogged down in the details; that was part of what had made them such a great team. He was the steady methodical plodder, able to find the holes in any argument, theory or plan that was put before him. Starscream was the flash of inspiration, the lightning bolt of creativity who realized things in an instant, always trying to skip several steps while trying to get to the finish. He would ground Starscream's more wild flights of fancy, calm him down whenever he began foaming at the jawplate about something, and make sure that the ideas worked on in the lab were actually feasible. Starscream in return would help him understand things that simply could not be figured out by logic, drag him out whenever he thought himself into a rut, and help him relax and unwind from a stressful orn in the lab. Skyfire remembered with a smile the time Starscream had literally kidnapped him out of the lab and had actually changed the door code until he felt that Skyfire had taken a sufficient break.
Abruptly, Skyfire was jolted out of his musings by the sudden whine of weapons charging. He looked, and saw a group of mechs standing in the street, weapons pointed at a residential complex. Almost without thought, he felt the null rays warming, ready to…what? Open fire in an open street? In the back of his CPU, he tried to guess what would make the Decepticons attack this residential complex, but hadn't arrived at the answer, before the entire group detonated their weapons simultaneously. The building disintegrated in a blast of heat and ash, the result of being hit with multiple fusion cannons.
Lying in the street, sucking air through his intakes do to the shock of the explosion, the answer to his earlier question hit Skyfire's CPU with the force of a flash grenade: Senator Windsong 's bondmate had a sibling, Quicktime, who lived in the complex; a sibling who, thanks to his job as a instructor in the nearby Institute of Energon Research, had been deep in recharge when the attack hit. There was no way any occupants of the complex could have survived.
Skyfire felt something in him snap. He'd known Quicktime, had seen him at several scientific conferences that he and Starscream had attended. A quiet mech, one with no political views whatsoever, a mech whose only wish was to teach younglings the mysteries of energon. While Skyfire and Starscream had focused their scientific pursuits on exploration and engineering, both of them had known intimately just how valuable Quicktime's work was, particularly in light of the energy crisis that was sweeping Cybertron. According to the latest papers Skyfire had read, Quicktime had been working on developing varieties of energon that would allow a mech to function on less energon for greater amounts of time.
Why would the Decepticons, if they were truly interested in the future well being of Cybertron, kill off a scientist whose work was invaluable towards their supposed long-term goal, simply because of a distant and insignificant political connection? Answer: they weren't. Skyfire could feel the part of him that recalled Starscream's idealism and passion for justice roar in outrage.
His null rays fired, golden energy lancing out from each shoulder, each shot landing dead center of a unsuspecting Decepticon chassis, right over the spark. They fell without a sound, and before any of their surprised comrades could react, Skyfire was already targeting again. Another pair of targets fell before the Decepticons pulled themselves together enough to flee. Part of Skyfire was relieved that they were gone, but yet another part of him, a part he had never known before, howled in disappointment.
He had just fired upon others who had not attacked him first. And surprisingly, it felt….good. It felt like a weight had suddenly fallen off his chestplate, one that he had never even noticed was there. He looked at the null rays; they had worked even better than he had anticipated in a real-fire situation. He shook his head ruefully. Starscream was even more of a genius than Skyfire had previously known. The first weapon system designed by the seeker, and it worked beyond Skyfire's wildest dreams.
The signature sirens of Enforcement snapped Skyfire out of his post-victory haze. He had to leave; Enforcement would be questioning every mech for klicks about what had happened at the destroyed complex. Due to the chaotic state of current affairs, Enforcement took a dim view of mechs who started fighting in the streets, for any reason. And if they learned that he had simply stood there and let the Decepticons destroy the building, and only started firing after the fact, combined with his unregistered null rays, and his current state of unemployment, he'd be lucky if the only thing they did was haul his aft into a cell. That's not to say that they would have an easy time of it, even if he co-opereated. Being a big, bulky, mech had some advantages.
Several breems later Skyfire was forced to stop running as his actions finally caught up with him. He stumbled, leaning against the wall of a nearby building and his unsettled fuel lines threatened to pitch him to the ground
How could he have just fired upon fellow cybertronians? How? He wasn't programmed for war, if anyone had asked; he would have described himself as a pacifist. This was Starscream's type of behavior, not his; Primus knew the amount of times he'd had to pull the seeker of a mech unfortunate enough to dent his bond-mate's massive ego.
And to top it off, he'd tainted Starscream's final gift to do it. The null rays were designed as defensive weapons, designed to cause little to no permanent damage to the target. He'd twisted that, modified Starscream's original design and increasing the strength of the weapon until the target would lose the use of the affected limb until a skilled medic could be found, or die. As had happened to at least two of the Decepticons outside Quicktime's residential complex; he'd killed them before they had known the danger that they were in.
"Hey there," Someone was behind him. Without a thought Skyfire whirled, null ray raised. "Whoa, don't shoot!" the smaller mech protested, raising arms empty of weapons as if to ward off Skyfire's attack.
"What do you want?" Skyfire tried to keep the tremor out of his voice, but his neural circuits were on the fritz. He had to concentrate more than he liked to keep the null ray on target on the other mech's spark.
"I was jus' wonderin' if you were alright there, I mean, Primus, you look like complete slag." A disarming grin kept the words from being offensive.
"I assure you, I'm fine."
"Oh? Is that why your stabilizers are so shot to the Pit that you can't keep yourself upright?" the other mech never lost the grin, though a definite note of concern could be identified.
"Truthfully? I just happen to know the best medic in the whole sector, and it just so happens that his medbay is less than a kilck from here. I was already headed there myself, as a matter o'fact." He mech shifted his disarming grin to a hurt and wounded expression so ridiculous that Skyfire was forced to give a weak chuckle at it. "Yeah, that's it. Thought for a moment that the ole' Jazz-bot had lost his magic-touch! Ain't no bot that can resist it forever, not the boss-bot, Prowlie, Sunny, the Hatchet, or - wait an astrosec. What's your name?"
Despite his current misery, there was something about the mech that made Skyfire smile just a little bit. The newcomer – Jazz, was it? – almost reminded Skyfire of Starscream when the seeker had been caught in the grip of some new discovery. There was also something oddly refreshing about the mech's irrepressible good humor and cheer after several vorns of the fear, gloom, and paroinia that infested Cybertron all the way up to the atmosphere. It wasn't as if he trusted Jazz per say, only fools trusted strange mechs now, but it felt good to relax for a bit. Not to mention, none of the other mech's weapons were out.
There truly didn't seem to be any danger for the moment. Skyfire lowered the null ray, allowing his circuits to fold the weapon out of his way. "I'm Skyfire," was all he said as he allowed the smaller mech to help him up.
"What the Pit do you think you're doing here! I just repaired you an orn ago." Whatever Skyfire expected from the medic Jazz claimed to be the best in the sector, it wasn't this. The layout of the medbay was pretty standered, as was the equipment, though Skyfire noticed one wrench that had some suspicious-looking dents- but what was so off-putting to Skyfire, was the medic's utter lack of anything resembling a bedside manner.
Even more disconcerting, Jazz was acting like this was ordinary behavior from the medic, from the various cues Skyfire was picking up, like how the smaller mech did not react to the words and the ease by which he navigated around the medbay. Not to mention the complete lack of fear for the integrity of his armor as Jazz replied, "Well, let's see. I came here to pass on the Big Guy's latest orders, as well as update you on the latest 'Con activity," Jazz began.
"And him?" a jerk of the medic's head indicated Skyfire.
"I brought him along because he looked like he really needed to see a medic, he was practically keeled over in the street-"
Clang! The medic grabbed up the dented wrench and landed a solid hit on the upside of Jazz'z cranial unit. "Have you lost what little sense you had? I know you know better than to bring strange mech's here of all places! He could be a –"
"He's no 'Con." Jazz interrupted, suddenly all business. "I saw him drop 4 of them at their latest hit, scared off the rest of them before I could raise a finger. He figured out the target before I did. Obviously it seriously ticked him off."
Skyfire found himself staring at Jazz. Just how long had the smaller mech been following him? And judging by the way Jazz and the medic were talking, it looked like this place was Autobot HQ, or something close to it.
Not wanting to get involved with the Autobots any further, he let go of the wall where Jazz had kindly propped him against, intending to leave by the quickest route. And very nearly ended up on his aft for his trouble. The only reason he didn't fall, was for the surprisingly gentle hands of the medic that caught him, leading him gently, but irresistibly, to the nearest examination berth. By the time Skyfire realized what was happening and tried to resist, he was already lying on the berth, and when he tried to get up, was merely shoved back down again in a distracted manner. Jazz was openly snickering. "For all your talk, Ratchet, you can't ignore a patient in your med-bay." He ducked as the wrench went sailing toward his head again, the medic barely pausing in his scans.
Finally the medic stopped scanning and looked up to meet Skyfire's optics. "If you haven't already heard from the idiot over there," he jerked his head to indicate the downed and groaning Jazz, "My name is Ratchet. And you are….?"
"Skyfire. " he hesitated, then spoke what was on his mind. "And you are the Autobots."
Optic ridge raised, Ratchet exchanged a long look with Jazz, then turned back to Skyfire. "Is that a problem?"
Skyfire let a gust of air from his intakes. "If you asked me that question an orn ago, the answer would have been 'yes'. Now..." he trailed off, finally shaking his head. "…I don't know."
"Good enough." The medic grumped. He glanced around the medbay, irritated optics coming to rest on Jazz. "I'll talk to you later. Get out."
"but Ratchet…." Jazz's wheedling tapered off as Ratchet picked up another wrench. "Umm, I'll be going now!" and shot out the door.
"That's better." Bereft of other targets, the medic's gaze clamped on Skyfire. "I can repair you easily enough, but before I do, I have one question: how do I find your bond-mate."
Skyfire felt his fuel pump stutter. "You can't." he whispered, unable to speak louder.
"He's gone." An endless field of white….
"Gone. Offline. Extinguished. Gone forever."
"Given that you're still functional enough to sit in my medbay, I rather doubt that."
What?! Skyfire couldn't believe his audio sensors. What Ratchet was saying couldn't be true. Because if it was….
"…when one member of a spark-bond dies, the other follows soon after. I've seen it happen before…" Skyfire knew he should pay attention to what Ratchet was saying, but the words were drowned on the tidal wave of emotion shrieking Starscream is alive!!! The initial joy was followed hard on the heels by another wave of grief and guilt, for if Starscream was alive then…..
"…then he's… he's still there. I…I left him there." The tone was dazed; the words weren't more than the barest whisper of sound escaping his voice capacitor. "I-I…"
"Frag it." As he forced the flyer into stasis, Ratchet belatedly picked out the signs of bond-shock, a unique condition that only affected bonded pairs that had either been separated for a long period of time, or one of the pair was close to death. Slowly internal systems began to break down, slowing the self-repair programs and weakening connections. It became harder and harder to hold a charge, until some mechs suffering from it went offline from lack of energy. Bond-shock was extremely rare, in all his vorns of practice Ratchet had seen only one case of it: one time when Sideswipe had nearly slagged himself for good. While Ratchet was working on Sideswipe, his twin Sunstreaker had let himself go to the point where, when Sideswipe was ready to be released, Ratchet had to exchange twins in surgery. Obviously, Skyfire's case was less extreme than Sunstreaker's, but who knew how long the flier had been living with it. He wasn't in danger of dying, but that could change in a hurry. All in all, Skyfire had been doing quite well all things considered, at least until Ratchet had dropped his little bombshell on him.
"Slag it." The medic cursed again. There was no treatment for bond-shock. The only way to alleviate the symptoms was to re-unite the sundered pair, but Primus only knew where Skyfire's bond-mate was. Not only that, but judging by the other mech's words, Ratchet was dealing with a healthy helping of survivor's guilt on top of bond-shock to make the dilemma of finding a way to treat the mech all that more difficult.
Ratchet pounded a closed fist on a bulkhead. Primus, he hated being unable to help. The only thing he could do was try to keep up with the various glitches that were bound to be plaguing Skyfire's frame, hopefully long enough for Skyfire to get back to whatever out-of-the-way dustpit of a planet that Skyfire's bondmate had gotten himself lost on.
Slag it all, and Unmaker drag whatever's left to the Pit. Noisily gusting the air from his intakes, Ratchet went looking for a problem he could fix.
So, quite a different mech from the Skyfire we all know and adore, hmmm? The way I see Skyfire, is that he's a very practical idealist. He can see that the actions of the Decepticons don't match their ideals, but he can see the exact same thing with the Autobots. He will not, in this fic, ever fully trust them, to Skyfire, fighting with the Autobots is first and foremost a way to survive long enough to get Starscream back, and secondly, because he can see independently that the Decepticons need to be stopped.
Did anyone get the imagery in the title? In G1, Skyfire is pure white, a match for his purity uncorrupted by the war-torn mentality that marks all the others. But he's a cloudy grey now, at least mentally, with a strong sense of what he believes is right, even if that personal code doesn't match that of Optimus Prime.
By the way, I took that incident with the Twins from a brilliant story called "the Lost" by the Starhorse. Read it. Brilliant character studies of the twins through the eyes of other Autobots. Is there something wrong with me for liking Skyfire, Starscream, and the Twins, the 4 most screwed-up characters in the entire transformers universe, the best? Review and let me know.
Another chapter is in the works. Don't expect it to arrive anytime fast, this chapter took about a month to get down, and I have a lot of ground to cover in the next one. I'm thinking that the next chapter will cover his time with the Autobots, until his reunion with Starscream. I might write a third chapter, I might not.
You don't have to worry about me abandoning this fic. Second chapter is already started, so progress is slow, but steady! Please review and I might get more inspiration to write quicker.
PS, already, this fic is the longest I've ever done. Wish me luck!!
Needed to fix a few things, thus, the re-post. I'm almost finished typing chapter two, so it will be out in a few days. Sorry to get your hopes up!