Trying to be an Autobot
"Chapter 7: Not Much of a Team Player"
By Leah King
Long ago at the Cybertronian Academy, not long after the flight demonstration…
After his impressive flight display, Starscream's fame at the Academy took off amongst his peers. No rookie cadet had ever completed the Gauntlet on their first raw run; few seasoned cadets had flawlessly flown it. And Starscream gobbled up the attention like it was fine Energon candy. Everywhere he went mechs and femmes alike would complement him on his flight. But as the week progressed, Starscream noticed the fawning and general attention had lessened. This was to be expected at such a bustling Academy, but Starscream had grown quite attached to the adulation of adoring fans and sought to maintain his status.
But status would come later when he selected his own Seeker Trials team and he took Top Wing after the trials. It was all a matter of selecting the perfect pair to compliment his already stellar skills.
"Hey Starscream!" a pleasant voice called out.
Starscream stopped instantly and turned when he realized whose voice it was. Rapida was standing a few feet from him, looking right into his optics. He couldn't speak for a moment.
"Your name is 'Starscream' right?" she asked carefully.
Finally he found his vocalizer, "Y-Yes! Yes, I'm Starscream."
Dear Primus what a smile.
"I saw you fly last week. I've never seen anyone make it through the Gauntlet without a mistake." She said with a tinge of awe.
"Not even Contrail?" he asked.
She shook her head, "How did you do it? It was so remarkable."
Starscream vented deeply, trying to calm his Energon pump, "It's just…talent I guess."
Inwardly Starscream was cursing himself. Where was his confidence? Around any other adoring fan he could be so smooth and yet when Rapida opened her lovely mouth he was reduced to a nervous dork.
She laughed lightly, "Well you are VERY talented then."
The compliment made Starscream feel like he was hovering off the floor. "Th-Thank you, Rapida."
She smiled again, "I'd love to see you fly again."
Starscream's eyes must've grown large because Rapida giggled.
"Is that ok?"
"Yes! Yes it would be great!" he thought about a time for a second, "I have flight training and practice every day if you want to watch…or…" he summoned his confidence with all his might and bowed slightly, "But if you want I could give you a private demonstration?"
Rapida's smile grew shy at his change of confidence. "Maybe sometime…well I've got to be going. Bye Starscream. I'll see you later." Rapida said as she walked on down the corridor.
Starscream watched her go, floating on the loveliness of her smile and compliments.
"Hey! Rookie!" a voice called from behind Starscream shattering his "float".
A tick of annoyance flicked Starscream's wingtips as he slowly turned. There was Contrail with an even larger purple flier tailing him as they approached.
Starscream straightened himself as they approached and held his chin up, "After my recent flight that outshined yours…I would hardly say that name fits."
Contrail snorted but then smirked, "Been real full of yourself since that day, haven't you?"
Starscream looked away, "Do you have something legitimate to say? I need to get to class."
"I couldn't help but notice you haven't been put on any trial teams yet."
Contrail sidled up to Starscream and pointed at his larger purple counterpart, "Crosswind and I were wondering if you'd be our third wingman? After all, we both know you and I have got the skills to make our trine unbeatable."
Starscream raised his brow, "You want me to be a part of your squad?"
The red flier nodded.
Starscream mulled the proposition over a second. True, Contrail was his biggest competitor and he had seen Crosswind's uncanny agility despite his size. As a trine they would make top squadron no questions asked. But…Starscream wanted to be Top Wing and he knew the leader of the top squadron was almost always chosen.
"And…who would be the squad leader?" Starscream asked, already guessing the answer.
Contrail leaned back a bit, seeming to read his tone, "You're a great flier Starscream, but you don't have the experience to lead a Top Wing squad." Starscream felt his temper rise at the subtle insult but before he could launch a counter Contrail clapped him on the shoulder, "You think about it Starscream. We'll see you later."
As Contrail walked away, Starscream stewed silently. The nerve of Contrail suggesting he didn't have what it took to lead a Seeker Squadron! That he would be better suited as anything LESS than Top Wing. He didn't need Contrail or Crosswind to get him a winning team. He would form his own trine with him leading it.
As he glanced around the now bustling hallway he already had two fliers in mind: Thundercracker, with his remarkable maneuverability, and Skywarp, with his blessed gift of teleportation, were the only logical choices for his Seeker Trials team. All he had to do was coerce them into joining him. Then Top Wing…and Rapida…would be all his.
Present time…the next day…
Starscream didn't finish with his cleaning and organization of the storage closet so the inevitable "partnership" with the human was delayed…much to his relief. Of course this gave him the time he needed to devise a plan that would best suit his needs. He'd said it before with conviction that humans were always the weak link, but somehow this human boy seemed to be his only link (weak or not) to gain the Autobots' trust. He sneered at his musings.
"Trust from Autobots…hmmph. I'd much rather have their ultimate surrender." He thought to himself.
He smirked, imagining the look on Megatron's face if he somehow captured this nest of Autobots and flaunted them before him. His "leader" would never doubt his usefulness again, nor take him for granted.
Quite unexpectedly the door to his quarters was unlocked and opened to reveal the yellow scout. He had a very serious expression in his bright blue optics.
"What?" Starscream sat up defensively after a moment's silence.
Bumblebee buzzed in a low register, "You're going to be building a sanitizing drone with Raf today?"
"The human boy…the one I have guardianship over." Bumblebee stated.
Starscream rolled his optics, "Oh. Him. Yes, what of it?"
"What's your game? Everyone knows you can't stand humans." The yellow bot crossed his arms.
The Seeker tapped his claws, "That is true. But I also can't stand inactivity. And since no one will let me do anything except cleaning spaces I jumped at the chance to do something else."
Starscream sighed with exasperation, "That human volunteered his services…I didn't propose them. If it were MY choice I'd build it alone. So if you're here to threaten me about not harming your precious pet then don't bother…your medic already made the threat abundantly clear."
Bumblebee stared at the slender Seeker for several moments before gesturing, "Raf is waiting for you in the main atrium."
The Seeker made a distasteful face but stood up as Bumblebee removed his cuffs before he followed him. When they finally came to the end of the corridor Raf was waiting on the catwalk.
He waved at them with excitement, "Hey Starscream! Ready to build a robot? I brought my fastest computer and my tech tools!"
Starscream grimaced at the boy's enthusiasm but began gathering the tools and supplies he'd set aside the day before. He silently sat down at the edge of the room and began sorting the parts. Raf looked at Bumblebee who shrugged. Carrying his newly repaired computer and back pack he walked down the stairs and approached the seated Seeker. Starscream looked at him for a moment and resumed sorting the parts. Raf paused a moment before sitting down with his computer in his lap. He patiently watched Starscream meticulously work. Soon it appeared that everything was ready, but the Seeker made no sign to his "partner" to help him. He took a bundle of wires and using a small solder-like device he began connecting them to a fair size circuit board.
Several long moments passed before Raf summoned the courage to ask, "So…what can I do?"
Starscream's red optics flicked at him minutely, "Perhaps you could keep silent while I work?"
Raf frowned, "But I thought we were working together?"
"Yes, well, that's what happens when you think."
Bumblebee buzzed warningly across the room, overhearing the Seeker's rudeness. At that Starscream growled and stared at Raf pensively.
"Fine. The better question would be what CAN you do?"
Raf reached into his bag and pulled out his soldering tool and some solder wire, "I can make circuit connections."
Starscream rolled his optics, "Very well." He held a bundle of wires and a large circuit board in his talons. "This is the board that controls the optical sensors of the cleaning drone. I need connections to each of these nodes."
"Got it. Just like the ones on my remote control cars."
"Your cars have optical sensor?" Starscream raised a brow with doubt.
"Well, more like video camera tech. But it's kinda the same thing."
Raf took the items presented and set to work connecting them.
Starscream watched the boy for a moment to ensure he didn't do something wrong. Much to his surprise the boy seemed competent in the task. But he still kept his optic warily trained on him in case the human screwed something up royally. Starscream admitted he always had difficulty working with others.
In the past…
"No, NO, NO!" Starscream shouted with exasperation as he landed on the highest training platform. "What was THAT?!"
He glared at his teammates Thundercracker and Skywarp who landed just behind him.
"What do you mean? We made it through the obstacles together didn't we?" Skywarp argued.
The silver mech jabbed a finger at his dark purple wingman, "Why didn't you teleport when I ordered?"
"I teleported just fine!" Skywarp interjected.
"If you had teleported when I told you to you wouldn't have hit two rings and almost rammed Thundercracker around that last turn! How do you expect us to beat out Contrail's team in the group events if you can't follow a simple order?"
There was a thrum in the air and suddenly Skywarp teleported just behind Starscream which made the mech jump, "See. I can teleport just fine. Why should I teleport only when you tell me to?"
Starscream raised his chest, "Because I'm the leader of this team that's why!"
Thundercracker sighed heavily, "Will you two quit bickering already?"
Starscream pointed at the blue mech, "Stay out of this Thundercracker! We'll get to your lack of commitment to this team and our training in a moment."
"Who can get motivated when half of our time is spent arguing over who screwed up or listening to you rant about beating Contrail's team." Thundercracker scoffed.
Skywarp smirked, "Yeah, Screamer."
"DON'T…call me that." The silver mech warned menacingly.
"Contrail's team isn't the only one we have to beat you know. There are twenty other teams besides ours trying to get into the Seeker Academy." Thundercracker stated with crossed arms.
Starscream narrowed his optics with determination bordering insanity, "Contrail's team is the ONLY team we have to beat. The others are inconsequential."
"Why are you so obsessed with beating Contrail anyway?" Thundercracker turned his head.
The slender silver mech stepped toward the blue mech, "Because…HE is the one who is threatening my rightful place as Top Wing. And…he needs to be shown his place."
Skywarp mocked quietly before saying loudly, "Or maybe you just want his femme?"
Starscream's head snapped around to Skywarp, "What?"
"Oh don't play dumb Screamer. We both know you're blowing a fuse for Rapida and currently she's with Contrail." The black and purple flier sneered, "And if YOU were to get Top Wing she'd be more…receptive… to your advances."
The silver mech's optics narrowed as he jabbed an insistent finger at Skywarp, "I will be Top Wing. We will beat Contrail and his team…and that is all there is to it."
Skywarp rolled his optics but then raised an interested brow, "Speaking of Rapida…"
Starscream turned quickly and looked down on the observation platform. There shining like a teal jewel was Rapida.
"She came to watch me fly." He thought happily to himself.
That is until he saw the familiar red form of Contrail cruise in and land next to her. She embraced him and Starscream trembled with jealousy.
He turned to Skywarp and Thundercracker, "I'll be right back."
"Oh yeah, go get her Screamer!" Skywarp pumped an enthusiastic fist.
Starscream took a flying leap, diving head first off of the tower they stood atop. He did not transform right away, but took a long free falling dive toward the observation platform. It was a risky maneuver waiting to transform at the last minute, but it would definitely catch Rapida and Contrail's attention. Just when it was almost too late, Starscream transformed and fired his engines. He halted mere feet from the platform, tail fin town and nosecone skyward. His sensors could see Rapida's startled expression. With a screeching blast he fired his afterburners and arched up into the sky.
Rapida almost bounced with excitement to Contrail, "Did you see that!? That was so amazing!"
The red flier watched Starscream arch high above and scowled, "Yeah. Real amazing."
"Didn't you ask Starscream to be part of your team?" she asked.
Contrail nodded, "Seems he found his own team. I've gotta go Rapida. I'll see you later tonight."
"There! All done." Raf stated proudly as he held up the circuit board.
Starscream quirked a brow at him and grudgingly took the piece, "We shall see."
With a scrutinizing optic Starscream inspected the child's soldering job to ensure it was done correctly. Much to his astonishment it was done correct…and well.
"Satisfactory." he stated with reluctance.
Deciding that was a compliment from the former Decepticon Raf smiled, "Thanks!"
With quick movements, Starscream mounted the circuit board into the mother board and made the proper connections.
At that moment Ratchet approached, "So, how's it going?"
Starscream looked at him but before he could say anything Raf piped up, "Great! I finished an optical sensor circuit board!"
"Well. That is an accomplishment." Ratchet agreed.
Raf looked at his phone quickly and drew in a breath, "Ooo. I'd better get home. Mom will hit the roof if I'm late to lunch again." Quickly, the boy gathered up his tools and tech, "Thanks Starscream. I'll be back later to help."
Starscream sighed, "Grand."
With a wave and a signal from Ratchet, Raf walked through the ground bridge. Once the device powered down, Ratchet looked to Starscream.
"I don't know how you managed it…" he trailed off.
"You mean working with a human?" Starscream huffed.
Ratchet scowled but kept walking as he muttered, "No. I don't know how YOU of all mechs managed to make friends with Raphael."
Starscream gave him a funny expression; a mixture of confusion and indignation, "You think I can't make friends?"
Ratchet scoffed, "I doubt you have any."
The Seeker flared his wings up, "I have LOTS of friends!"
The medic balked, "Ha! Name one you STILL have."
Starscream raised a claw but stopped, trying desperately to think of a name. "It's…umm…it's hard to choose just one name."
Ratchet shook his head, "Admit it Scream, you don't have any friends anymore…the closest thing you've got is that boy."
Starscream was silent for a moment before snarling and pretending to resume work on his sanitation drone.
What did that medic know? He had thousands of troops at his disposal that would do anything he commanded…though…he couldn't name one. He had friends…didn't he?
But the longer the former Commander thought about it, the sadder and uglier the answer became.