"I thought you hated quicksilver flavour," Skyfire noted as Starscream subspaced a bag of energon chips.
"I do," Star confirmed, "but Skywarp can't get enough of them."
"My left Wing. Let's go back, my chain reaction is finishing in 0.7 breems," the Seeker demanded, impatient.
Skyfire followed his friend to the lab. He wanted to continue their conversation but Starscream sat down and hooked his feet behind the footrest – an unconscious gesture that meant he wanted to be left alone. Skyfire respected his wish.
It was a calm orn, one of those rare orns when everything goes well. Skyfire was preparing his A-42 compound; the violet liquid swirled in its flask waiting to be heated up. Suddenly the concentration of static in the room skyrocketed, the air cracked and brushed over them, and in a flash of light a dark Seeker appeared in the middle of the lab. The flask fell from Skyfire's servos and shattered against the floor. Starscream, on the other hand, didn't even twitch, despite sitting with his back to the room. In two fast strides the intruder closed the distance between them and took Starscream by his wings. With a crack they were gone.
Skyfire's visual centre rebooted in shock as his processor replayed the scene. What the pit just happened?!
::Starscream!:: he yelled over the comm., terrified for his friend.
To his relief, Star answered the call. ::I'm fine, Skyfire.::
::Where did he take you? I'm calling the enforcers!::
::Please don't! There's no need for that. He's a friend.::
::Friends don't abduct each other without warning!::
Starscream actually had the audacity to chuckle at that. ::I made the mistake of mentioning I had a surprise for him. Unfortunately, Skywarp has patience of a sparkling on energon high. And the glitch's a teleporter.::
::That was Skywarp?::
::Yes. Sorry he startled you. I'll introduce you to him and TC when we return.::
"What did I tell you about teleporting to my lab?"
"Err, not to do it?" Skywarp smiled sheepishly.
"And which part of that escaped your understanding? Now Skyfire thinks you abducted me and he's threatening to call the enforcers!"
"But Staaar!" the teleporter whined. "You promised to go flying with us! And—and you said you had a surprise for us!"
"Don't 'but Star' me! Would it kill you to wait just a few more joors?"
Skywarp nodded emphatically, making Thundercracker chuckle at his antics. With a resigned twitch of his wings (and a carefully hidden grin) Starscream took off.
"Where are we going?" Thundercracker wondered as they flew over the flat roofs of Iacon. They didn't compare to Vosian spires. Then again, nothing compared to Vosian spires.
"Western district," Starscream answered with a mysterious smile.
"And what's there?" Skywarp practically radiated curiosity.
"Wait and see."
It would have been a short flight but he took a detour to make it longer – despite Warp's impatience and pestering questions, Starscream really enjoyed flying in a trine. He led them towards a beautiful marble building and touched down in the middle of its spacious courtyard. An amused smile lit up his face as he watched his trinemates trying (and failing) to figure out what they were doing at the place like that.
"Come on," he headed inside.
"What is this place?" Thundercracker asked.
"An art studio."
A grey minibot emerged from around the corner and approached them.
"You're Starscream, right?" he unsubspaced a datapad and handed it over. "Please note that while certain modifications are possible, an extra fee is applicable depending on the scope of adjustment. Change of colour is free of charge."
Starscream nodded as he accepted the datapad, his spark pounding in its casing.
"What is it? Star, what's it, what's it, what's it?"
He took a deep vent to cool his systems and turned to face his trinemates. "My surprise for you. Our trinemark."
Trinemarks were traditionally the responsibility of the Leader, unless one of the Wings was artistically inclined. For a scientist, Starscream was surprisingly traditional when it came to trinemarks. He wanted their designations in a simple triangle – and paid a pitload of credits to the mech who was considered the greatest living artist on Cybertron to design it. He hadn't seen it yet; he wanted to share this special moment with his trinemates. Now that he was holding the result in his servos, he was almost afraid to switch it on. He could feel their trinebond drumming with excitement. TC couldn't suppress the flutter of his wings; Warp was openly bouncing on his thrusters.
With a nervous flutter of his own wings Starscream onlined the datapad.
To say the trinemark was beautiful would be an understatement. The proper qualifier was stunning. It was a silver triangle formed by Star, Sky and Thunder written in calligraphic Seekercant glyphs intertwined with each other to symbolize unity. Simple yet elegant and beautiful enough to render all three of them speechless.
The minibot's smile was downright smug; he'd obviously expected their reaction. "I take it you like it. Normally Sunstreaker would apply them personally but he had to leave. You can either have Airbrush apply them now or wait ten orns until he returns."
Ignoring him, Thundercracker turned to gape at his trine leader. "Sunstreaker? You commissioned our trinemark from Sunstreaker?"
"Who?" Much to the minibot's consternation, Skywarp had no idea what his trinemate was fussing about.
"The mech who designed the Crystal Tower in Vos," Starscream replied simply.
"Oh. But that's the most beautiful building I've ever seen! And you commissioned us a trinemark from that guy?! Star, that's..." the teleporter trailed off. He couldn't even begin to find words to describe how much he appreciated his Leader's effort.
::That must have cost more than I earn in a century!:: Thundercracker protested over the comm.
It did, but Starscream wasn't going to tell him that.
::Shut up, TC, you're worth it.:: To the minibot he said: "We'll have them applied now." Before Warp bursts from excitement.
This time they entered the lab properly, through the door. Skyfire was waiting for them.
"Alright. TC, Warp, this is my lab partner Skyfire. Skyfire, these are Thundercracker, my right Wing, and Skywarp, my left Wing," Starscream made the introductions with a pointed look at the teleporter.
"Uhm, hi! Sorry 'bout earlier!" Skywarp grinned brightly in a failed attempt at innocence.
"Ah, sure. No problem. Nice to meet Star's wingmates..." He trailed off when he saw their glares. "Err, what did I do?"
"Wingmate in general refers to any mech flying with you in a formation; you don't even have to know them. Wing is a title given to a Leader's trinemates." Thundercracker explained.
"Think about your physical wings," Starscream added. "They are an extension of your self. They are what keeps you in the air. Damage to your wings hurts more than any other injury. Losing them would effectively drive you insane within breems. If given a choice you would rather deactivate than live without them." As a flier Skyfire undoubtedly had to agree with that. "The same is true of Wings in a trine," Starscream indicated Skywarp and Thundercracker. "In a culture where trinebonds are often valued more than matebonds, degrading somebody's trine to mere wingmates is a grave insult – for which you are forgiven because you've obviously had no clue."
"Oh, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to... Wait, trinemates? You didn't want trinemates!" Skyfire exclaimed, confused. He vividly remembered Star yelling that he didn't want to participate in the Trining. Belatedly he realised he probably should have muted his vocalizer...
The two Wings turned to Starscream with incredibly hurt looks.
Starscream glared at Skyfire before turning to face his trinemates and saying something soothing in Seekercant. Whatever it meant, it was obviously the right thing to say, if their relieved faces were anything to go by.
Later, when he was alone, Skyfire asked the computer to translate it. Yes, it was terribly rude of him but he couldn't help it. The computer beeped and the words appeared on the screen translated into Standard. It was an ignorant thing to say and I only said it because I hadn't met the two of you at the time.