Title: Starscream Memory
Author: Karan Seraph
Disclaimer: Work of fan fiction. Author makes no claim to own characters. The belong to Hasbro et al.
Summary: Starscream's clones deal with his apparent death and develop as individuals as they pull together as a family. TFA 'verse. Set after end of Season 3 of cartoon. Teen rating for sci-fi violence, language and themes. Ensemble cast.
First Published: 8-25-09
Slipstream alighted on the gray lunar soil, close to one of the breaches in the Nemesis hull, and dropped the spare parts she had been carrying to the ground. The parts sailed down slowly in the satellite's low gravitational field, and she gave them a kick as they finally touched down. Though there was not enough atmosphere to transmit the sound of the metal-on-metal impact, the vibration felt through her lower extremity was satisfying in its own way.
She continued through the breach, uncertain whether there was anything left to salvage here, but not yet having any better plan. She had inherited from her creator, as from an earlier and somewhat buggy software package, so much data and programming. She had that mech's mega-ego, and seemingly contradictory, not-above-pleading directive for self-preservation. As well she was possessed of vaulting ambition and lust for power, and had all the conniving, manipulative ability to lie, wheedle and flatter in order to climb the rungs of any hierarchy. But, perhaps most of all, she held the belief that guile and speed were keys to her success, and much more effective and efficient methods than any brute force, boasting and other mech-like posturing. Thus she felt comfortable with a plan; to use her genius level intellect and tactical brilliance to analyze all available data, and formulate the most efficient means toward a goal was most satisfying. Any glitch who did not agree with her assessments could slag the pit off, because she was most often correct and at the absolute least deserved to be listened to, if not sought for consultation!
Focus, Slipstream ordered herself. She continued into the wreckage of the former Decepticon flagship. She had logged self-generated queries, perhaps what might even be worries or fears, but these she had determinedly flagged as lower priority. First on her list of goals was collecting material and informational assets. It was fairly probably that more information and supplies would prompt her to come up with a more effective plan of action for the immediate future. She tried not to bring up the actual percent of probability into the active parts of her processors; she just seemed to operate more effectively if she acknowledged it was a positive value and quantified it as fair.
It was evident a mech with a fusion cannon had been through the wreckage; inherited memory gave Slipstream more than enough data for comparison to the present damage. None of the seeker frames appeared intact, though there were pieces enough that she might add not a few to the spare parts. She lifted a discarded pair of stasis cuffs, and with an internal command opened the access point to her subspace pocket, at her back, then slipped the cuffs inside. Megatron and St – her creator, would have known of the presence of protoforms on the Nemesis, and whether any remained; she expected the Autobots who had been through would salvaged any if there were. Slipstream could not consider them useful at the time. She could not count among her assets any spark or shard to spare for the sake of potential company.
Motion detectors alerted Slipstream to a potential threat, almost too late. She quickly ignited her thrusters and made a well-trained low-gravity evasive maneuver, strangely hopeful for an instant, as she noted the blast that narrowly missed her mid-section was consistent with a null ray. She glimpsed the teal and gold Seeker; no overt signal meant he had the Sumdac dampeners, but it was possible that information had now left Earth, so she was not able to confirm or deny whether this was another brother, or a Seeker-build loyal to Megatron. Slipstream decided quickly that claiming alliance was the most efficient method of surviving to collect more information.
Slipstream positioned her arms, and thus the attached weaponry, away from the new Seeker, and smiled disarmingly – which probably turned out more a smirk, for all she could help it – and settled again on the warped metal plating below. The guns remained trained on her, and creepily lascivious sneer and territorial posturing argued in favor of this being a fellow clone. They were on different communications frequencies, from the frustration stealing into the other Seeker's expression and posture.
Slipstream moved forward as non-threateningly as she was able, cringing internally as well as literally that she was mimicking the annoying behavior of her brothers Skywarp and Sunstorm. She was allowed to approach, and straightened slowly as she stepped up to the other Seeker. She kept her optics trained on the other's as she gestured a claw toward her audio receptors.
The other gave a slight nod. At this point, Slipstream saw two possible paths of action: she could now grab the barrels of the other's weapons and force them away from her while placing a few disabling knees and kicks, or she could tune their comms to the same frequency and allow communication between the two. Slipstream was nothing if not confident in her battle prowess, but she ultimately saw the value in avoiding conflict until such time as no other options existed; avoiding conflict simply meant less injuries, and grater potential for survival and advantageous alliances.
In a quick movement, Slipstream darted her right hand toward the other's helm and pried open the audio access panel with her claws, then quickly adjusted his comm frequency.
'This is my ship!' he commed as soon as the channel was shared. Even over internal comms, the voice in all it's high-pitched, snarky, know-it-all tone was familiar. A brother.
Slipstream flinched, and then sneered despite herself. She had, since certain recent events on Earth, noted some peculiar behavior in herself. It was one of her lower priority goals to find an explanation; she had already run a full system diagnostic. Focus, she ordered herself, again. 'Designation and Function, Seeker,' she ordered with all the haughtiness of one accustomed to the rank of Air Commander.
'Dirge,' Dirge commed instantly, and stood a bit straighter. He needed to process his reply to the second part of the query. So many to choose from! He wanted all functions to be his. He began listing ranks, titles and functions: 'Air Commander, Tyrant of the Firmament, Science Officer, Prince of the Skies, Acquisitions Officer, Herald of Your Destruction....'
Slipstreams optics rolled behind the outer lenses. 'Listen, Seeker, we have no need of all those.'
'No need? There is always need! To have more, to be better. They are mine!'
'Dirge,' Slipstream tried to sound pleasant, but she was not as able with such platitudes as Sunstorm, 'We have need of a Science Officer; assuming you received the same installation files as the rest of us, you should have skills. I calculate it highly probably your particular motivations fuel scientific curiosity as well as material gain. I will record your function as Science Officer and secondarily Acquisitions.'
Scientific curiosity? Of course! Dirge produced a pair of half-spectacles from subspace and put them to his face. 'All the answers of the universe will be mine!' He regarded the female seeker, again, 'Slipstream.' A nanosecond to access relevant data. Dirge raised his weapons again. 'You betrayed us to Megatron! You and your back-stabbing brothers! Ramjet! Sunstorm!'
'You have an update?' Slipstream demanded. This was, she thought, the only logical way that Dirge could have access to memories of the battle within the carbon mines.
'The very first chance you got!' Dirge accused, 'You turned your back on your own creator! Allied yourself w-with Megatron????'
Slipstream ignited thrusters and flew backward, with a kick, as Dirge fired on her. She twisted to evade and fired back. 'As if St – He wasn't the most backstabbing, traitorous mech?' Slipstream fired again, but she saw as soon as she had, the shot would be wide. She knew, though she would not admit it to her brothers, she had, as much as they had, inherited weaknesses as well as strengths. Her temper. She must repress it. Get control. Focus.
'Ah, curious!' Dirge sang out over their comm channel, 'What a display of emotion! I want it! So much anger; it is an energy!'
'Then rip-out your circuits and cry, Dirge, because He's dead!' Slipstream raged, 'He was ours! Our Creator! And no Decepticon deserved such a death; they couldn't even let him go out fighting! The shard was ripped out of Him! He was a pathetic, egotistical, simpering, lying, greedy coward, but he was ours! No one else should have been allowed to kill him!'
Dirge flew close; Slipstream's emotions clearly blinded her to outside threats. Dirge understood: ours. Our creator. He touched his claws lightly to Slipstream's arms. 'There now, give me the truth. Tell me. Is Starscream truly dead?'
'Don't even speak His name,' Slipstream pleaded.
Dirge understood the concept of loss; it was anathema to him. He did not fully grasp why Slipstream should feel such seemingly tangible pain, and he should not possess the same feeling. They had the same creator, and that mech was now deactivated. Should he not possess the same emotion, or even more emotion? Should he not howl at the loss? 'Why?'
'I don't know,' Slipstream admitted. She normally got snarky and threatened violence if her brothers put their claws on her, but as creepy as Dirge had seemed shortly before, Slipstream felt able to function more normally with a brother holding her. She put her hands to Dirge's neck and tipped her head so the top of her helm touched Dirge's jaw.
The lack of atmosphere did not allow for howls or cries or screams to be heard, but when Dirge switched on his engine and turbines, the vibrations moved through the both of them. It was music. What seemed at first, to Slipstream, symptom of a poorly-tuned engine, was a mournful song. Dirge sang everything that Slipstream felt; the wretched feeling of loss of an individual and with Him all seeming normalcy in the universe; a rage at the unwelcome change; fear that life would never get better again.
It was clearly inefficient, especially as she had no need to fly, but even so, Slipstream revved her own engine and idled, singing along with Dirge such as she was able. After a short while, Slipstream felt better. Not whole, not entirely unconfused, not good, but a lot better than before. The engine noise was shut off.
'Grief is a normal response to the termination of life,' Dirge commed.
Slipstream lifted her head, claws of her right hand prying at one of the capped ports on Dirge's neck. 'Share something with me?'
'Share? Share what is mine?'
'I am not asking to access your very shard, Brother. I seek only a secure hardline download of information: your update. I just need to know if He left any sort of message, or plan, anything for me...for us. I am your sister: kindred in shard and shell; any information shared with me is still there for you to access, only I will also have it as well. I am your sister, so in a way, my assets add to your assets, in having me as a sister. Our kindred is stronger as a whole, for everything gained by any one among us. You do want to have more, right?'
'I might share, if there was direct gain for me. Perhaps you have memory files I do not yet have.'
'Agreed,' Slipstream commed quickly. She pried off the cap on Dirge's neck to expose an i/o port. Then, as quickly, she accessed a port on the left of her neck and ran a retractable cable between the two. Typical, she thought as she located the file. St – He had not assimilated the update into Dirge's backup installation files, but left it separate. Slipstream began the download. Once the data was hers and passed her immune sub-routines, she assimilated the file into her own installation backup; it was more effective, should she ever have need to fall back on her original installation files. Slipstream initiated an update protocol to refresh her active memory to include the new update.
Half-aware of Dirge's uploading, Slipstream lifted her hand and disconnected the hardline connection. 'Let's not get too greedy,' she commed pleasantly. Even as she tucked the cable back into her neck, she processed the new data from the update. It was part of her now, in His point-of view: creating the clones, His opinions of them, His plans, His goals, the hurt caused by their betrayal, the time spent alone with Megatron, manipulating Lugnut and Shockwave. All of it, up until the setting of the dead-mech switch to activate Dirge, just in case. Was it some means to getting in the last word, or laugh, that the newest clone's designation referenced a mournful song? So like Him.
Slipstream smiled, smirked really. 'I think I have a plan!'