Can you believe I've been working on this little piece of magic since forever? *sigh* It's been with me, haunting my laptop for the last eternity and a half, begging to be completed, but I've had no time to do so with schoolwork, plus As We Come Together, Serendipity Kiss, and Surface of the Sun to work on. -_- Now that the school year is finally over (I still have two exams looming over my head, but I'm trying to look on the Brightside), I'll finally have time to finish something. Chapter 2 for this is already done, and chapter 3 is nearing completion. I hope, I hope, I hope this chapter will have a good reception so that there can be a speedy update!
Warning: The behaviours of some of the mechs (mainly Megatron and Starscream) may make your heads spin a little, so make sure your skull is firmly attached to the base of your neck. The characters will become more familiar by the end of the fic.
Read and review as you please, my friends.^^
Even Angels Fall
"By that sin fell the angels." –William Shakespeare
"Are you sure about this?"
"Are you really sure about this?"
"My answer hasn't changed in the last astrosecond since you asked me."
Optimus paused, watching his brother calculatingly. He waited a few extra astroseconds before quirking a smile and asking, "How about now?"
Sighing in exasperation, Megatron threw his arms in the air. "No!"
Huffing, the Prime backed down a step, watching the grey-plated mech with a pained look. "I don't see why you feel the need to personally see to this anomaly; you have duties here that are far more pressing, and, quite frankly, there are others in the research core who are better equipped and designed for missions like this."
Megatron snorted as he went through the final preparations for his long deep-space flight. "Hardly, Optimus. All anyone needs for a research mission is a good set of wings and a pair of thrusters to get you off the ground, both of which I have, if you haven't forgotten." Drones skittered about, checking and rechecking his energy reserves and flight stabilizers while he himself went through the normal routine of self-diagnostics.
"I haven't forgotten," the mech sighed. Megatron was rather proud of his jet alt mode and never ashamed to show it off whenever he got the chance, whether in outstripping new recruits in a race or rubbing it in his older brother's faceplate that he could fly and the Prime could not. "Though, I think I should point out that researchers usually have advanced informational retaining modules in their processors and an intelligence far above average, both of which you lack."
Megatron frowned, his jagged faceplate looking fearsome in the stark, cold sunlight of the chilled Cybertronian mid-morning. "That was cruel," he stated flatly.
Optimus sighed, realizing he might have overstepped his boundaries. "I'm sorry, that was a bit much," he apologized, looking away to the busy horizon so as not to look into his brother's cool optics. "I am simply anxious over your departure. Logically I know there should be nothing to worry about-."
"Then stop being such a worrier-."
"But, that doesn't stop me from caring whether or not you get caught in a particle storm and left for scrap floating in some unnamed nebula. What would I do without you, should something happen?"
The Lord Protector barked a laugh, waving off the concern. "Where's your sense of adventure, Optimus?"
"Sitting safely in a cube next to my recharge berth," the Prime replied matter-of-factly.
Megatron rolled his optics. "You have a sense of humor and yet no adventure. Such a waste," he sighed exaggeratedly. "Keep it up and your paint will peel."
"You should be less concerned with my paint and more concerned for yourself, you thrill-seeking half-bit. I should order you to stay and see to your duties instead of allowing you to run off into space on some half-baked mission," Optimus admonished.
"You may be Prime, my dear brother, but your power is not absolute- I'd like to see you try and order me around."
"I am only concerned for your wellbeing."
"I'll be fine, Optimus," Megatron insisted, a slight bit of exasperation playing in his voice.
"Oh, are you quite sure about that?" Optimus pressed. "You are flying into unknown territory with little to no protection to survey an anomaly that simply appeared out of nowhere on deep space scans a few orns ago without any preliminary knowledge of its existence beforehand. We have no idea what it is, or even if it is something worth looking at in the first place, and yet you are going into the unknown to explore it with absolutely no idea what you are getting into."
"Which is why Starscream and I are going to check it out together; he has the experience, I trust his judgments, so I see no reason why we cannot go and assess the anomaly to see if it is worth researching further or not," Megatron replied.
Optimus shook his head, crossing his arms and fixing his stance. "And why is it that you, the Lord High Protector of Cybertron, feel the need to accompany Starscream, the Grand Head Advisor of the Research Core, personally on this mission? What profound bit of wisdom can you give to enlighten me to the mystery?"
The Lord Protector shrugged. "I can't tell you exactly, Optimus… I just feel drawn to it. Something's calling me to fly out there- it's been bothering me for the longest time, and I want to find out what it is."
"Of all the ridiculous, self-indulgent reasons-." Optimus cut his own words off before he could say something truly indignant. Instead, he fixed his brother with a serious look. "You are the Lord High Protector of Cybertron and you are my brother; plenty could go wrong and I would have plenty to lose. And over such indulgent reasons, too."
Megatron stood swiftly to place his clawed hands on his brother's shoulders. "I was made the Lord Protector for a reason, Optimus, and it's not because I am you're brother," he assured. "I can defend myself if the need arises."
Optimus relented with a shake of his head. "I know that, of course."
"You needn't worry about me. This is just a routine flight, nothing new. I'm only following Starscream out because it's been so long since I've had any sort of adventure, and I need to know why I am being drawn to this. Let me do this one thing for myself just this once and I will never bother you again, if I can help it."
Optimus searched the clear, crystalline lenses of Megatron's optics and found only honest sincerity in them. He could find no further reason to object. "If I can't change your mind, then go."
"Thank you," Megatron said warmly, leaning in to brush his forehead to Optimus's.
Optimus did not resist, allowing for a bit of affection to show between them. "You and Starscream better return unharmed," he warned, "or so help me Primus, I'll throttle you."
Deep laughter rumbled in Megatron's chest as he offered Optimus one last hug. "Your wish is my command, my Prime. Starscream and I will come back in full operating condition, or you can send us to the scrap heap personally." Backing off a step, he glanced towards the Prime Protectorate, who stood nonchalantly to the side, apparently doing his best to ignore the proceedings. "Think you can keep all my Autobots in line while I'm gone?" Megatron asked, optic ridge raised.
Ironhide huffed, crossing his thick arms across his massive chest. "I'll be running them through so many drills, they'll be begging for you to come back."
"That's the spirit," the Lord Protector joked, reaching out to pat the other mech on the shoulder. "Thanks for agreeing to step in for me."
"It's no trouble," Ironhide shrugged. He was the Prime Directorate Advisor after all- what good was he to the Prime if he couldn't even handle the ranks of the Autobots?
Optimus peered out at the clear sky stretching above the main launching pad of the High Spires of the Council Pantheon in Iacon. "If you're going to be leaving at all today, you might want to leave soon- I heard that there's a front of sulfurous clouds coming in from the east. I don't want you caught in a sulfuric downpour."
"We'll be a long ways away from the atmosphere before any type of storm hits. Besides, my armor's thick enough to handle a little acid." Megatron assured.
"I still worry," Optimus sighed.
Heavy claws rested on the Prime's shoulder, Megatron's optics warm as they stared into his brother's deep, slightly clouded gaze. "Save the sentimentalities for when I'm dead," he teased. "Right now, just be glad I'm going to be out from under your feet for the next couple of orns. This is a routine flight and I'm going out with an experienced Seeker as a guide. Nothing will happen. Repeat after me; nothing will happen."
"Yes, yes, nothing will happen," Optimus laughed quietly, shaking his head. "I shouldn't doubt you're abilities; I'm sure you're right about this."
"I'm always right, which is why Cybertron is in such a good state right now," Megatron replied, laughing as well. With Optimus minutely soothed of his worries, the towering Lord Protector glanced over to see if his fellow traveler was ready to launch.
Unfortunately, Starscream was encountering a similar form of resistance.
"You have reports to finish, Starscream!"
The Seeker snorted. "They can wait."
Jetfire glared down stubbornly at his friend in exasperation, his arms outstretched to the heavens as if divine strength could come down and strike him with the ability to deal with his advisor and friend. "They certainly cannot! They're due tomorrow!"
"I'm well aware of that. They're all written up and lying on my desk in the labs; all that needs to be done for them is to be dated and transmitted to the right bots." Starscream tilted his head upwards in that haughtily expectant way he liked to use. "You can see to that, can't you?"
Jetfire's mouthplates pursed. "I can, but that doesn't mean I will. I have my own responsibilities to see too."
"Come now, it'll take less than a breem to transmit all of the reports, and I know you have all the right transmission coordinates filed away somewhere. I'm sure you can fit that into your busy schedule while I'm gone." With the famously sharp optics he'd been built with, Starscream was more than capable to spotting the moment his friend began to weaken. Jetfire's shoulders drooped, the plating about his upper torso tucking in ever so slightly. It had taken vorns for Starscream to spot the pattern, but now that he knew what to look for, he wasn't against exploiting it.
"Even if I were to do that for you, what of the presentations you're scheduled to do at research cores in Polyhex, Kaon, and Straxsis?" Jetfire asked, crossing his large arms in agitation. "Am I to suppose you simply forgot about them, as well?"
Starscream canted his head, adopting a thoughtful expression as he accessed his memory banks. He checked briefly, and then got a rather amused expression on his faceplate. "Ah, no, not forgot per say."
"Then what brilliant excuse do you have for me?"
"I didn't bother to mark them down on my internal calendar, that's all."
"Starsream!" Jetfire groaned in exasperation, but was waved off with a completely dismissive gesture.
"You know how I'm like, old friend," Starscream said on an airy sigh. "Those presentations simply were not important enough to warrant my interest for so long. You'll just have to stand in for me while I'm gone." He looked Jetfire up and down in mock-contemplation. "Of course, you're not as attractive as myself, but the audience will have to deal with the disappointment."
"Your vanity is only surpassed by your irresponsibility," the red-and-white scientist stated flatly. "If you think for even a moment that I am going to allow myself to be swindled into standing in for you again-."
Instantly, Starscream huffed, looked ruffled. "I take offense to that. When have I ever swindled you into doing something you haven't wanted to do?"
The answer was instant. "A few orns ago when you made me lie to the Research Advisory Board about why the di-lithium-based stellar warp drive calculations were not ready; I told them there were delays due to the unstable nature of the element, causing our estimates to go askew, when in reality you had dropped the project to pursue your own personal agendas."
Unconcerned, the accusation was waved aside. "I'll have you know, the project I was working on was far more important than calculating the logistics of some new warp engine. I bet you can't name any more instances."
Jetfire was more than happy to recount several more instances of being swindled into things. After the second or third one was rattled off, he started to question his own intelligence. There were only so many times someone of such high-ranking intellect could be tricked into doing things this often without wondering if their high-ranking intellect was faltering.
"What's a few trivial matters between friends?" the seeker chuckled, ever weaseling.
"You are being unreasonable," Jetfire sighed, almost pouting.
"Haven't you ever thought that perhaps you are being the unreasonable one? All I am asking is a few simple favours from a friend."
"Your manner of favours have a way of coming back to bite me in the aft."
"They do not. Things just don't always go according to plan, that's all. You know my work well enough, do you not?" Starscream insisted.
"Then I trust you not to make a fool of me."
"I should do that just to teach you a lesson."
Starscream laughed, yet again waving away the concerns and threats. He had heard enough of them from his long-time friend to know they meant little. "You wouldn't dare. You care about the research core a far greater deal than I. You'd never risk sullying our reputation. Plus, you worship the ground I walk on."
Jetfire rolled his optics. "Only in an alternate universe."
When Starscream pretended not to have heard, carrying on with his preparations for flight, Jetfire grumbled obstinately. The entire research core was breathing down his neck column to convince one of their most influential scientists to stay for the time being. Starscream, of course, was going to hear none of it. As always, he was going to do what interested him most, which was not meeting any of the deadlines.
"If I bow to your ego and say the core will fall apart without you, will you stay?" Jetfire asked.
"As much as I know that's true, I'm afraid there's no stopping me," Starscream replied, clearly enjoying the opportunity to rankle someone so early in the orn. "I'm the one who found the anomaly and I'm going to be the one to check it out. I'm not leaving it to any second rate researcher or worse yet, some mindless drone."
"And you know how much this entire exchange is going to give me a headache later on, right?"
"Oh yes, which is half the fun." He signaled for a drone to come inspect his thruster alignment when he detected a slight offset. Jetfire waved the drone off, kneeling to see to the problem himself. Drones were fine and all, but a delicate task like thruster alignment required a more sentient touch.
"One of these orns, that attitude of yours is going to get you into more trouble than you can talk yourself out of," he chided as his large hands moved from Starscream's thrusters to flight stabilizers.
"I hardly think I'm going to encounter any kind of trouble like that on an expedition like this."
"So you say."
"I'm designed for this sort of thing, just as much as you or any other Seeker is. I've handled far worse in the past." He blew a long whoosh of air out his vents, sweeping against Jetfire's faceplate. "And besides, even if I do suddenly find myself in a situation I can't talk my way out of, I have the firepower to back me up." And as unconcerned as could be, he motioned to the heavily armed Lord High Protector.
"While I'm sure you're confidence in Lord Megatron is a stroke to his ego, there is no accounting for the irresponsibility of you two simply flouncing off into space like this. It is not a new thing for you to disregard every responsibility you hold in the research core to feed your own interests, but for the Lord Protector to do so as well… I just don't know what's gotten into the two of you!" Finally done with the realignments, Jetfire backed up, and then straightened to his full height, casting a long shadow along the length of the launching pad.
"Don't think of it as irresponsibility, then," Starscream countered. "Think of it as an opportunity for exploration, one that I am not willing to pass up." He turned away, hailing to Megatron with a wave.
"Are you ready to launch, my lord?" he called.
With one last nod to Optimus, Megatron turned to the Seeker and awarded him with a broad smile. "Yes. All systems are go."
"Then let's get out of here before we lose these good atmospheric conditions."
"Very well, let's be on our way." They transformed in unison, Starscream's sleek Seeker alt mode dwarfed in comparison to the imposing form of the heavily armored Lord Protector, whose jet alt mode was more like a tank with wings than a carefully calibrated scientific research instrument.
"Watch each other's backs, will you?" Optimus called as the pair steadying themselves and aligned their trajectory to take off into the atmosphere.
"Wouldn't dream of doing anything else, Optimus. We'll be back before you know it."
And then they were off into the atmosphere.