The rain came down fast, yet gentle, like a strange mix between a drizzle and a storm, not fully committing to either. Rex didn’t really know how he felt about rain. On one hand, he had grown up on Kamino, where it rained for a hundred days, stopped for one day, and then continued on. He had hours of experience about running in the rain on their outdoor training area, having the drops of water attacking him from all angles while trying to focus on their given task. And then there was his many missions on other planets where it just as often as not, rained. Hours spent trying to get through the mud that reached up to their knees, looking for a dry spot to sit down and rest, fighting the enemy he couldn’t really see through a wall of falling water.
On the other hand, he had grown up on Kamino, surrounded by the best men in the galaxy, where every day was a adventure to get to know them, find out how alike yet different they all were. Laughing at them slipping on the wet floor outside, and then suddenly see the ground coming towards him in the next moment. Longing for the showers and yet not wanting to see another drop of water ever again, while helping a brother with a bruised ankle to the medic. And then there was his many mission on other planets where the rain would earn a grown from every trooper and a hundred reasons why they hated it. Dragging himself through the mud, barely keeping it together at the thought of what he might be stepping on while telling the trooper beside him to man up. Leaning against a brother, or two, to keep his head from the ground, falling asleep the the sound of their breathing. Throwing the enemy of himself and take the offered hand from the brother who’d saved his life.
Rex didn’t really know how to feel about the rain, but every time he saw it, it brought back many memories.
He didn’t really miss the war, but on moments like this, seeing the rain hit the glass in front of him, he missed his brothers so much it hurt. His heart ached from the memories that would never repeat themselves, from the thought of where they might be, what the might be doing. What they had done.
“I’ve never seen this much rain before.”
“Lothal doesn't really get weather like this. I’ve been to planets where it never rains, and where it never stops.” Kanan and Ezra discussed behind him in the cockpit. They were two jedi who had to fight to stay alive because of what his brothers had involuntarily done. And that thought hurt him more than he would ever admit to anyone. Only Wolf and Gregor knew, and that was because they felt the same way.
He had tried to warn some of them, some of his brothers, but he had so little evidence at that time, and he hoped he would have more time to get it before those chips were turned on. He’d been too late. Out of the few he told, fewer believed him. And the worst part was that he understood why they didn’t believe him. It was such an elaborate plan, so well thought through and executed that it seemed impossible to be true. But it was. And his brothers had been forced to kill the people they looked up. The people whom they trusted, and who trusted them.
“Rex, I… I can’t- this is impossible. You know that right? How would that be possible, who could be responsible, who could even think to make such a plan?!”
“I know what this sounds like, believe me I do! But Fives wouldn’t say anything like this, wouldn’t give his life for it if he didn’t believe it was true. I don’t know much yet, but I’m looking and I really think he was onto something. Please, Cody-”
More than half of his memories from the war involved Cody. Which meant they’d known each other for a long time, and spent a lot of time together when they had the opportunity. And given that every battle might be their last, they had taken most of those opportunities. They’d been lucky though, getting to serve under two jedi who worked on so many mission together meant they got so see each other more. It had been a surprise for both of them, but not a bad one. Rex had been relieved, more than anything. He had several friends, like all clones did, but Cody had been, and always would be, his best friend. The men and women he worked with now were all amazing, he didn’t regret joining the rebellion, but no one would ever take Cody’s place. No one could. He was the best man Rex had ever known, in every way.
...Rex had no idea what happened to Cody. Whether he died in battle, escaped and got rid of the chip or… in some ways, he didn’t want to know. The uncertainty was toxic, it made his stomach twist and his soul ache, but it was worse to think about what Cody might’ve become. He wanted to see him again, to have him with him in this new adventure, but if knowing meant finding out that Cody wasn’t Cody anymore, then he’d rather think he was dead. The aftereffect of the chips were questionable. He had heard different stories, some good some bad. So far, he understood it like there were different outcomes. Everyone didn’t get the same aftereffect. His worst fear though, was that it might not turn off again. That once it was on, his brothers, Cody, would just be human droids, unable to think for themselfs. He hadn’t asked around those who might know, and he didn’t want to either. The uncertainty was nearly killing him, but if his worst fear came true, he didn’t doubt it really would kill him. And, both to avoid the pain and to keep fighting, he didn’t ask.
“You alright there Rex?” He looked up and behind him. Ezra was looking down at him.
“Huh, oh yeah. I’m fine.” He turned back to the window. “Rain just brings a lot of memories, you know?” Among other things.
“Oh. From, uh, Kamino right?” Ezra said.
“Yeah, but not just Kamino.” He said, following the trail of one raindrop from top to bottom of the glass. “Been to a lot of planets with this kind of weather.” He gave a weak smile, even though Ezra couldn’t see it. “But none of them could beat the weather on Kamino. The first time I saw a break in the clouds, I think I was thr- uh six.” Six. Physically he’d been six. No need to confuse them about his age. “I stood staring out the window, with a bunch of other guys, and wondered if it was something wrong with the atmosphere. Some of us thought the window wasn’t real and instead a holoscreen form a different planet.” It was one of the good memories.
“I’m guessing you're pretty tired of rain.” Kanan’s voice joined them. “I know for sure I would be.”
“Hm.” He answered, not going into any of the details. “I sure have seen my share of it at least.” If things kept going the way they were now, he would see even more of it. Rex didn’t really mind that.
He couldn’t breath.
Not when he got the order.
Not when he fired his blaster.
Not when the body hit the floor.
Not when he woke up and realised what he’d done.
He couldn’t breath.
Cody shot up from his bed, gasping for air that wouldn’t enter his system. His lungs kept expanding and expanding until there was no more room on his chest, but he still didn’t breath.
Exhale. He had to exhale, before he could inhale. Again. The process had to be repeated, over and over. Again. The blood would carry the oxygen to every part of his body and give each cell a portion so it could work properly. His head would stop spinning in a short while.
After several minutes of reminding himself how to breath, he opened his eyes slowly, begging with his life that there were no dead bodies on the floor, no faces forever locked in a scream of pain and betrayal, no lightsabers lying around without their owner. He had breathed with his mouth, fearing the smell that would come with death and fire combined in a confined space. His eyes searched every part of the room to make sure he was alone, and he took a deep breath through his nose to see if there was the familiar smell from his nightmares. But he couldn’t see or smell anything that didn’t fit his room. Which meant he was alone. It had only been a nightmare.
Cody began to shiver, but shoved his blanket away and sat on the edge of his bed. Sweat was dripping from his brow, his entire body covered in it. Now that he was exposed to the air wound him, it cooled him down more than what was necessary. But that wasn’t why he shivered. Adrenalin was coursing through his body, as if he just had been in a battle, and not just remembering it in his sleep.
He reached out his hand and picked up the glass of water from the nightstand, gulping it down quickly. His other hand had shifted too, out of habit, usually holding a few pills that he would take with the water. But he was out of those. The empty boxes were still on his nightstand, to make sure he remembered the names so he didn’t get the same next time. If he only took one type he would get addicted, and if he got addicted they wouldn’t help him sleep on the same dose, and if he increased the dose he risked an overdose that could kill him, and he already promised himself he wouldn’t die by an overdose. Not when he was the one administering it.
The glass, now empty of it’s contents, were put back on it’s place, hand still holding on to it. It didn’t listen to his command to let go, locked around the cool surface filled with marks from the several times it collided with the floor. It was a miracle it hadn’t broken, unlike the man holding onto it. He had to use the left hand to pry the glass from his right one, like a malfunctioning machine.
“Execute order 66.”
Eyes shut tight, he blocked out the rest of the memory. Breath. He had to breath. It wasn’t real. Not anymore. It was over, and he could do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. If he wanted to find a jedi, befriend him and help him take out the emperor, he would do just that and with no remorse.
If only it was possible.
The jedi was extinct. Or if there still was someone out there, they were staying hidden, protecting themselves from the system that Cody had helped build up. And if they met him, they wouldn’t trust him. He wouldn’t blame them. The clones, his brothers, were known for their heroic act of purging the galaxy from the corrupted jedi, saving them from demons that hunted down children and killed everyone who opposed them. That was the story, if you believed the empire that is. For those who didn’t there were millions of stories that flew around, some more true than others. There were bits of truth in all of the stories, mixed with fairy tales with ghosts, dragons and everything between a dark hole and a supernova. But the whole truth was lost to the stars. Even Cody had only a few pieces. There was a time when he could’ve gotten everything, but that was long gone.
He rested his head in his hands, sighing. He should’ve listened to Rex. Why didn’t he listen to him? It doesn't matter it was a crazy idea at the moment, he should've known Rex didn’t go around and trust every conspiracy theory he came across. He should’ve known that Rex had information to back up his claim. He should’ve trusted that his best friend knew what he was doing. But he hadn’t. And now it was too late. Whatever had happened to Rex, he prayed he was safe, and happy. That he wasn’t haunted with nightmares of regret and pain. That he wasn’t alone. Rex never like to be all alone, and Cody just hoped he had someone with him. Someone good. Someone who listened to him.
Cody drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly.
He was just so tired. Tired of everything. And he knew he could end it, quickly and painlessly, but… He wouldn’t be the first of his brothers to do so. Whether it was weakness or strength that kept him from pulling the trigger he didn’t know. A part of him wanted to go on, for all of his brothers that couldn’t. For Rex. But another part wanted to be free. Free from guilt and pain and just get some sleep. Because whatever was on the other side, it couldn’t be worse than this.
He looked over at the small blaster on his nightstand. It was loaded, he always kept his weapons at ready, and it was within reach, even closer than the water glass had been. He’d bought a small one so he could carry it with him without anyone else detecting it. It’d saved his life more than once. Will it take his life too?
Outside, the rain fell down quickly and forcefully. Like a full storm, raging against his window, urging him to make a decision, and then commit to it. Living or dying. Cody didn’t know how to do either.
Time was moving slowly. Instead of passing by it spinned in circles and made everything around him go slowly. By the time it took for one mech to step out the door, Starscream had counted the scuffs and marks on his chassis, figured out how much wax and polish would be needed to clean them out, and how long it would take. It was excruciating and boring. He flicked his left wing in annoyance, but as usual it didn't help the situation.
He wondered if he should make time go by faster by walking or reading those datapads Knockout had given him, but his mind was mainly on the task he just wanted to get over with. But Rodimus wouldn't be here for another half groon. He still wasn't quite sure how to go about the task of cutting the ties between them, and was kind of counting on luck to bring it into conversation rather quickly. It wouldn't do to let him stay there for a groon and then send him away for good. No, it would be best to do it quickly, and it wouldn't come as that big of a surprise after what happened yesterday. If only time could go by quicker…
He'd expected something from Megatron or Soundwave, but they hadn't even given him a hint that they knew what had happened. Of course they knew, there was no doubt about that, but was neither of them going to say anything about it? He was used to have his every action judged, and their silence made him a bit jumpy. And annoyed. And then he was annoyed at himself for being annoyed by their silence. He should be glad that they finally left him alone, if only for a little while, but he just couldn't find it in him. Old habits did die hard, he supposed.
And so he sat there, on the edge of his berth in the medbay, waiting for time to go by. Knockout had already been there, but the 'visit' had been cut short by some other matter he had to take care of, thus leaving Starscream alone to his musings. Everyone else in the medbay left him alone as usual and did their business. After a few more cycles of just waiting, he found himself moving his left wing in every way possible. Up, down, out to the side, in towards the middle, close to his back and away again. He could decide and feel every movement. His right wing was left in one place. No thought of action made it move, no natural wish to stretch or bend it did anything at all. He wondered what would happen if he tried to fly… Would he crash the very moment he transformed, or would he be able to fly for a few kliks before he lost all steering? He didn't plan on finding out though. He had decided very quickly that he was not going to allow himself to die in a situation where he would've been alright if he could still fly. He would sooner turn into a ground-vehicle before he let that happen.
He was allowed to think about it though. After all, time was still moving slowly.
Two breems left.
Knockout had mentioned that he soon would be fit for work. No heavy lifting - who would trust him with that anyway? - but something. Right now he was doing nothing. He wondered vaguely if it was decided already, what he was going to do, or if they would wait to see how fit he was when Knockout discharged him. Take note that Knockout wasn't letting him go, just discharging him from staying in the medbay every klick of every day. Something about his mental health meant he had to come back every day, but at least he could recharge somewhere else.
Starscream tried not to think about what kind of work he would be assigned, because whatever he came up with he didn't like. Not even being the the one on top leading all this sounded like a good option to him, which only made him realise how down he really was. And he had no idea how to get up. He wasn't giving up, Starscream was too stubborn to do that, his life was pretty much just on hiatus right now. But he would make sure it didn't last.
The door opened and in came the newspark he'd been waiting for. He was early, there was still a four cycles left of his countdown. Rodimus looked unsure, for the first time since they've met, and Starscream realised what happened yesterday must've really confused him.
"Hey Starscream." He said, slower than usual. He also kept himself at a small distance. He otherwise didn't really understand the concept of personal space, even though Starscream had explained it to him once. Literally.
"Rodimus." He greeted. Now to get this over with, as soon as he figured out how.
"I'm sorry about yesterday, even though I don't get what I did wrong." Rodimus began to talk, or rather mumble. "I said earlier I wouldn't make you talk about stuff you didn't want to talk about, but you never said you didn't want to talk about those things, so I didn't really know that." He explained. Starscream wondered for a moment what he was talking about, but then remembered their night on the roof. He was right about that, Starscream never told him where the line went. But that didn't matter now.
"Yes, I could tell you were confused." He began, calculating his next words. He thought he had a way to do this. "But I think, with everything that has happened and how this truce between the factions is developing, we should end our agreement."
Rodimus blinked a few times. "What are you talking about?"
"When we first met, we agreed we would answer each other's questions at the best of our abilities, remember?" He put in a pause, but it was just short enough that Rodimus didn't have time to reply. "I think it's time to end it now. I'm soon leaving this medbay and then I'll be busy with work, and you have studies to concentrate on." Rodimus listened carefully, and his expression turned from confused to hurt as he seemed to understand. "I don't think we will be of need of each other any more."
It was at this point, when his victim understood they'd been played, that he would feel satisfaction seep into his spark. That was not the case this time. But Starscream had been prepared for that and didn't let this hinder him.
"But I," Rodimus looked around confused, as if the words he tried to speak was hiding in the corners. "I thought we-, I came here because we were friends. You know, just so we could talk and have fun." Hurt and sadness aside, Starscream wondered what kind of mech this was that considered talking to him fun, especially in the state he had been since he woke up. That's the thing with friends, they don't make sense. He mentally shook his helm to scramble that thought. Where did it even come from?
"Ah," Starscream smiled as if the whole situation was just awkward. "Rodimus, you are a newspark. I'm not socializing with newsparks simply for fun, nor do I become friends with them." There, that had to be the last screw to send Rodimus' idea about them crumbling down.
Rodimus just stood there. He didn't move or say anything. Well, Starscream thought, this is the part where you react. He had expected a tantrum of some sort, or maybe him storming out of the medbay and drawing attention from everyone. At least some harsh words-
"The Autobots were right about you." Rodimus suddenly said. His voice was shaking a little, and he clenched his servos tightly. "They were all right about you! You were just using me like a, like a toy!" And now he was shouting, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. "I hate you!" Then he stormed out. That had been the reaction he expected from a newspark.
He still didn't feel any satisfaction.
Kup was keeping an optic out for trouble, even though he was officially off duty at the moment. He hadn't fully relaxed since he landed on Cybertron, not even in recharge, thanks to the 'cons walking around. He would have to admit he was impressed with how well it was going, this recruiting thing. Fights had erupted several times, but nothing serious ever came from them, miraculously. It would, he was sure of that, but nothing had as of yet. Nothing he knew of at least.
Most orbital cycles he spent on duty, but he could only work for so long before someone, probably ordered from Ultra Magnus, came and told him to take some time off. He did as he was told to avoid stirring up trouble, but he was still looking out for any problems that might arise. There hadn't been anything yet this day, and he was waiting for something to happen.
Though, a newspark nearly running him down wasn't quite what he had in mind.
"Ouf!" The small cybertronian ran straight into his right leg, sending them both out of balance and towards the ground. Kup managed to catch himself, while the newspark landed hard on his side. Kup got up and to the newsparks side, ignoring the pain in his right knee joint - had to be his bad knee - and helped him up.
"Hey kid, you okay?" The newspark had a severe case of bad paint jobs, orange and purple, and he looked like someone name 'Double Trouble' or something like that. "Come on, you didn't hit yourself that hard." He urged on when the little thing didn't get up further than on all fours.
"I-I'm fine." he stammered out.
"Did you hurt yourself?" He couldn't really tell from this angle, but it didn't look like anything other than the paint suffered. He'd hate to have to carry him or something if he was more damaged.
"No." His voice was slightly off, as if he was - a few drops of lubricant dropped from the newspark's faceplate and hit the ground - crying. Oh, scrap.
"Hey, kid. Look at me. Are you okay?" He reached out to help him up, only to have his servo shoved away.
"I said I'm fine! Leave me alone!" He slowly stood up, revealing his faceplate too Kup. Several drops of lubricant were running from his optics. The kid seemed to notice something was on his faceplate and reached a servo to touch it. He retreated it and looked in confusion at his now wet servo.
"What's that?" He asked, but it wasn't necessarily directed at Kup. He still answered because there currently weren't anyone else there. Besides he wanted to know if he really was okay.
"It's lubricant, kid. It leaks from your optics when you're upset or sad, and sometimes hurt." The newspark looked at him then back at the servo. And then he did what everyone does when the realise they're crying: attempts and fails to wipe the tears away. Instead of removing the liquid from his faceplate, he smudged it out so it wasn't just the areas under his optics that were wet, but his entire faceplate. Kup vented and took a cloth from his subspace.
"Here, use this." The newspark took it and used it to wipe is faceplate and servos, which had gotten wet at the first failed attempt. He handed it back.
"No problem." Kup took the cloth again and sub-spaced it. "Now, care to tell me what made you so upset that you decided to run me down?"
He shook his helm. "No, I don't." He met Kup's optics. "Sorry about running into you though. I didn't mean to do that." Kup decided to shrug it of. If the kid hadn't apologized he wouldn't have, but since he had there was no reason to make anything big out of it.
"I've had worse, believe me." He said and took a good look over the newspark. He looked familiar, now that he thought about it, but Kup was sure they hadn't met. The paint job wasn't anything discreet, so if Kup had just seen him running around he still would've noticed him. But he'd seen him more than once…
"You're that kid always running after Megatron." He stated, remembering. He'd mostly seen him from afar, hadn't gotten a good look at his faceplates, but it was the same mech.
"Yeah." He answered.
"Rod- something…" He thought aloud. It was a strange name, that's all he really remembered. Strange, and not really fit for a newspark in his opinion.
"Yeah, that was it." He took in the flame design on the kid's chassis, and his overall slim build. He wasn't thin, like Soundwave, but his build suggested he was made for speed and not strength. Not that he was weak either. Kup's knee still hurt a bit. Rodimus was upset at the moment, but he didn't appear like someone that was unsure of himself, and he wasn't scared either, considering he was spending his free time with Megatron of all mechs.
"You look more like a Hot Rod to me though." He said after a moment's thought, not realising he was doing the name thing again. He'd chosen quite a few names back in the Golden Age of Cybertron, and still had it in him.
Rodimus narrowed his optical ridges in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," He gestured to Rodimus' chassis, "you don't look like a Rodimus, but more like a Hot Rod." The newspark looked down on himself, trying to see what Kup meant, but ended up with an even more confused expression.
"I don't get it."
"It's not important anyway." Kup answered. He didn't feel like explaining it, besides, he was getting sidetracked. Rodimus was still upset. "Where were you headed of to?"
Rodimus shrugged. "Don't know." Well that was enlightening. Kup didn't feel like just letting him go, and if he had to keep him here until he thought he was alright again he would, but preferably he would have someone else look after him.
"Do you have a guardian, or someone who looks after you when you're not in class?" By the looks of it, Rodimus didn't seem to know what a guardian was.
"Uh, just my friends, and sometimes team Prime." He answered eventually.
"Okay, where are they now?"
"Don't know. Probably one the other side of the Nemesis. The other newsparks likes to play there." Other side of the Nemesis. Rodimus hadn't been heading in that direction at all.
"Why aren't you there?"
"...don't want to talk about it." He was looking away.
"Fine, don't tell me.." Kup turned around. "Come on."
"I don't want you to be alone, so we're going to find you're friends." He looked back at Rodimus. He hadn't moved.
"I don't want to play with them."
"Fine, then you can sit on the sideline. Like I said, I just want someone to keep an optic on you." Rodimus still didn't come. In fact, it looked like he was moving the other way. Kup turned around to face him completely and narrowed his optics.
"Look here, Hot Rod, you have two options right now. Either we find your friends, or I'm going to drag you up to Ultra Magnus and hand you over to him. Either way, I'm not leaving you alone."
Rodimus didn't look pleased, but his sad expression had changed to an angry one. Kup decided that was a good sign. Angry newsparks were always easier to deal with anyway.
"So, which one's it going to be?" Rodimus narrowed his optics before mumbling 'fine' with nearly closed mouth plates and walked after Kup, fuming. He had a temper too, then. Definitely a Hot Rod.
The kid was right, for some reason the newsparks seemed to like playing at the east side of the former Decepticon ship. Or maybe team Prime had just made this place their playground, away from the other ships and construction areas. Either way, there were a lot of newsparks running around.
A few newsparks came running towards the still fuming, orange mech beside Kup. He didn't seem particularly happy to see them.
"Hey guys." He said curtly. The others stopped when they saw his mood.
"What's wrong?" A green mech said.
"I don't want to talk about it." Kup rolled his optics. He was sure he only stayed angry because he was stubborn, and not because he actually was angry.
"He's been like that since he ran into me, maybe you guys can lighten him up?" The others looked up at him and nodded enthusiastically.
"We'll lighten him up real good! Come on Rodimus!" The others began dragging him away, and he followed reluctantly. He turned around slightly to look back at Kup, and the veteran sent him a grin.
"See ya around, Hot Rod." The kid then sent him a mix between a glare and a pout, which looked ridiculous.
"What's that about?"
"Why'd he call you Hot Rod?" The other newpsarks began probing him with questions as Kup turned away and looked for someone that seemed like they were responsible for the newsparks. He wanted to tell them what happened, how he came across Rodimus and the newspark's state of mind. It might be nothing, but in case it wasn't, Kup thought it would be best to let them know.
There were several mechs and femmes watching over the newsparks, some were playing with them, others just keeping an optic out. He opted to go for someone he knew, the yellow mech called Bumblebee, who were standing a few spaces away while looking over the moving blurs of small Cybertronians.
"Hey Kup." Bumblebee turned slightly towards him. "What brings you here?"
"One of the newsparks." He pointed behind him. "You familiar with the Rodimus kid?"
Bumblebee made a face that said it all: He'd had plenty of experience with Rodimus. "Yeah, I know him."
"Good. You see, I wasn't doing anything particular when he nearly ran me down a few cycles ago." Bumblebee looked surprised.
"I don't know, he wouldn't tell me. All I know is he was leaking his optics out for some reason and whatever it was, he won't talk about it." Bumblebee looked out to the sea of newsparks, maybe to find the subject of their conversation.
"That's not like Rodimus. He's usually a talkative mech." Bumblebee looked back at Kup. "Really talkative. He can ask questions for groons on end, and he loves to hear stories from the war." Kup nodded.
"Yeah, I figured it might be something unusual." He thought back to the conversation with Rodimus, but didn't think of anything else that might be important for Bumblebee to know. "I don't really have anything else to tell you, other than he came from the Nemesis. Hopefully you guys can sort it out."
Bumblebee nodded to him. "Thanks Kup, I'll see if I can find out what it might be about."
They then said their goodbyes and Kup turned to walk back to his post on the other side of the Nemesis. He cast a glance towards where he'd left Rodimus of, but couldn't see him. Ether the others had gotten him into a game or he was sitting on the sidelines. At least he wouldn't be alone now, which had been the reason he brought him here. Hopefully the next time they met it wouldn't be in a crash.
"What happened?" Someone asked, but Starscream didn't listen.
"Why is that machine making that noise anyway?"
"It's a spark monitor. Knockout connected it to my energy signature and every time my spark beats, it makes a noise."
Rodimus listened for a few kliks, tilting his helm to the side. "Is it okay? Your spark I mean."
"Knockout didn't say anything, so I would assume yes."
"Why did Rodimus leave?" Same voice, same reaction.
"How do you know so much about so many things?" Rodimus looked at him with admiration.
"I studied for the most part. Or I experienced it."
"That must have taken a long time. Didn't it ever get boring?"
"Of course, but I didn't always have a choice remember?"
"Starscream? Did you send him away?"
"What does flying feel like?" Rodimus looked at Starscream's wings, the right one finally out of it's clamp.
"Superior." Starscream answered with a smirk. "There is no traffic in the air, nothing that can block your path. In the air, you are free." As much as it bothered him that he wouldn't fly again, he enjoyed talking about it. It was, truly, the superior way of travel, as well as an unfathomable feeling of freedom.
"Wow. That sounds really cool." Oh, it is. Was.
"Starscream? Answer me." Finally he looked at whoever had questioned him. It was Flatline.
"Did you send Rodimus away?" He looked impatient.
That hadn't been the answer he wanted to hear. "Why would you do that to him?"
Starscream narrowed his optics, "That, is none of your business." His voice was cold. He wasn't in the mood for this nonsense. "Now, I would like to rest, alone. And you have work to do." For a moment it looked like Flatline would push him further, but then he shook his helm and walked away.
Good. Starscream had enough things on his mind as it was. Like the mess he had gotten himself into. Rodimus asked so many questions, and Starscream liked to answer them. He wanted to answer them. No one had appretiated his knowledge in a long time, and honestly it was nice to be able to prove you were good at something, and not get beaten up because of it. As long as he could avoid certain things, he was happy to just continue on that way. But he nearly slipped up. He had almost said their names.
He didn't talk about them because he didn't want to. He didn't think about them because then he would have to remember they weren't there anymore. He didn't acknowledge that they'd even existed because it wouldn't do any good. Not to him. Not to them.
But he almost told Rodimus just so he could answer a question. He was getting attached to the little glitch, something he didn't want to. He'd just wanted someone to keep him company while healing, but that someone was becoming more and more likeable by the cycle. Though, in all honesty, he was a fool to expect anything else. When someone treats you nicely and visit you every orbital cycle, it's only reasonable you become attached to them. Well, he would just have to end their little friendship before it became too serious. He might have hurt Rodimus, emotionally, but it's not like anyone would expect much else from him. They would be mad for a short time, and then continue one with their lives. Rodimus? He had other friends, and he practically worshiped Megatron. He wouldn't miss Starscream.
What Starscream had to focus on instead was to get out of the medbay. Get as well as he could and stay alive. It wasn't as ambitious as his usual goals, but he would have to start small now that everything had changed. And the first thing he had to do to get out of the medbay, was to learn to walk properly. It was much harder than he'd thought, even with the pain gone. And annoying. One would think wings were only used for flying, but the sensors in them were used all the time. Those who had wings barely noticed it, unless they suddenly didn't have the ability anymore. What Starscream found the most difficult, was finding his balance. So that was what he would have to work on first. He still had one perfectly function wing, along with other sensors who helped with, among other things, balance. If he focused on using them more, instead of thinking about what he couldn't use, he would most definitely learn to walk quicker.
After that, someone would assign him some sort of job, most likely helping them find energon, only without the ability to fly he would probably be stuck by the monitors. He knew how to work them, but it was without a doubt the most boring part of finding energon. You rarely actually found energon, rather you checked the weather, kept up the communications among those out on the field and wrote down the locations where they found energon. He had his doubts anyone would want him to have the responsibility for their communitation, or even want to communicate with him at all.
Another possibility would be digging out the energon they found. Which was, also, a boring and tiresome job. He could be stuck underground or only pick up scraps, all depending on the energon source. And he would have to work in groups of other bots. None of those jobs were preferable, but maybe he'd get lucky. Maybe.
Knockout wasn't questioning him that much anymore, but it was rather clear he didn't consider Starscream mentally healthy either. He wasn't wrong, but Starscream hadn't really been mentally healthy for a long time - who had time for that when there was a war going on? The problem would be if he continued digging. Knockout was usually happy once the patients was out of his medbay and he could continue his life, but he also used to try to kill the Autobots. He didn't want Knockout digging in affairs that wasn't any of his business, but unless he made the good doctor think he was as healthy as he could be that's exactly what would happen. He would have to convince him he was healthy.
Finally, the last thing he had to do, or the one thing he had to do all the time, was to keep an optic out for Soundwave and Megatron. They were watching him, he knew that, but he didn't know how closely. They had their own jobs and responsibility with the refugees, surely they didn't have time to watch his every move? Soundwave did have Laserbeak though, and that minicon did not need help on knowing what it should and should not show Soundwave about Starscream. He looked around wondering if it had seen him just now, but he couldn't be sure. If he had, Soundwave would instantly know why Starscream had sent Rodimus away. Scrap. He shouldn't have reacted the way he did, but there was no changing that. He only had to be careful from now on.
And while he was, he wanted to find out what the spy and his former leader was looking for. It couldn't just be that they wanted to know what he was up to, could it? Okay, maybe it could considering his past, but it just seemed like a waste of time now that they had more important things to do.
Megatron hadn't 'visited' him since that first night, so Starscream had no idea what he was thinking about any of this. Soundwave on the other hand he had seen. Not as a visitor of course, but sometimes when other came in or out the doors, Starscream had seen him. Sometimes he was walking, not even looking inside the medbay, other times he stood still and if he hadn't had that visor, Starscream knew their optics would have met. Maybe he wanted Starscream to see him, wanted him to know he was being watched. Starscream hadn't doubted it even is Soundwave hadn't made himself visible, but the fact that he had made Starscream sure of it. Whatever reason Soundwave had for watching over him, it was important enough that he deemed it right that Starscream knew he was being watched. He really didn't like Soundwave.
Megatron was walking just outside of the official worksite. He didn't know that much about construction so there was no use in getting too close where he might be in the way for those who knew what they were doing, but he wanted to see how they were doing. From what he could see, it was going just as planned.
Since they were building rather close to the ruins of Kalis there were groups who simply had the job of tearing down the ruins both to make room and to reuse the metal. What was usable would be melted down and then formed into whatever they needed it for. And now that they had much more workers they were able to work on several projects at the same time. So as well as building small houses for the refugees, they were building a medical center. It wouldn't be perfect, but to have one main center on the ground instead of on the ships would be easier both for the patients and doctors. There they could focus on the minor damages, and send the more severe ones to one of the ships. That way the doctors could focus on one group of patients instead of having the full spectrum, making their work more efficient and less stressful. That was at least what the doctors themselves had said.
There was a few who looked at him nervously, but no one said anything against him being there. Most Autobots and Decepticons stayed away from him, and when someone for whatever reason had to come near him, they made the meeting as short as possible. The Decepticons were used to that, an unwritten rule being that you didn't disturb Megatron more than you absolutely needed unless you were on his good side, which few had been. As for the Autobots, he knew Ultra Magnus had made it clear Megator was on their side so he was allowed to walk where he wished, and most were probably afraid of him.
"Hey Megatron!" Then there was those who were neither Autobot nor Decepticon. He turned around to see six - seven newsparks come towards him. Springer was the one leading the group and he had been the one to shout his name. The rest of the group was mostly watching him, as if he was some object that needed study to be understood. Most newsparks looked at him like that, and it annoyed him. He'd been looked at like that before, and had gotten enough of it quickly. But, they were newsparks. Even though he didn't know much about how to treat them, he knew how to not treat them.
"Springer." He greeted the young mech, as well as the three others he'd met before.
"What're you doing?" A light blue and white femme asked.
"Looking over the construction." He answered curtly.
"Why?" That word, 'why', was every newsparks favorite word. 'Why' this and 'why' that, and sometimes they asked another 'why' after he'd just answered the first one. It was rather quickly losing it's meaning in being a question to the purpose of what you were doing, and instead turned into a bother. But he still answered.
"To make sure everything is in order."
"So far, yes."
"And that's good?"
"Yes." The newsparks took turns in asking, and Megatron answered all the questions as well as he could. He did find himself hoping they would leave soon though.
"Have you seen Rodimus anywhere?" Springer asked suddenly, interrupting the one called Sideback. He looked a little offended, but didn't do anything else.
"No, not this orbital cycle." He answered Springer. Rodimus had somehow managed to find him nearly every orbital cycle, and followed him around like a drone - with a smile and many questions. He probably shouldn't be surprised after what the Autobots told him about all his questions, but he still was. He was a warlord, a former gladiator, he didn't see why someone like him would be of interest to Rodimus. But, maybe the fact that he was the first bot Rodimus had met, and had saved his life, somehow made him interesting. It wouldn't have been so bad, most of his questions were interesting and he didn't mind answering them, if he didn't talk so much about Starscream. About half of the time Megatron had spent with the seeker had been either with a servo around his throat or a fist crushing his chassis, so talking about him in a nice manner was rather… challenging. He could admit that Starscream had good qualities, there was a reason he'd been made second in command after all, and he could also admit that he had had some temper difficulties, during the war, but so had Starscream and he had deserved at least half of those beatings. He'd even deserved to die too, but Megatron wouldn't go there. It only made him question why he had let him live all those times and he never really had an answer to that. One of the great 'wonders' of the universe.
"He usually is with Starscream this time of the orbital cycle." As he said that he wondered if Rodimus bothered Starscream with questions about him too. He hoped so. He knew the seeker would hate that.
"He was but Starscream told him to leave earlier than he usually does." All of Megatron's attention turned to Springer.
"He did?" Of course, he didn't look or act as if this alarmed him.
"Mhm. Something Rodimus asked about suddenly made Starscream act really weird, that's what he said at least." Springer continued. He tilted his helm a little to the left. "I thought he would go see you instead." Somewhere in Megatron's mind he was… upset, that it had already become known how much time he - Rodimus, spent with him. But Springer was his friend, so it was only natural that he would know about it. As if nobody else had noticed a bright orange and purple newspark walked around with Megatron, the former leader of the Decepticons. No, on one would be able to notice that at all. He had to put those thought away for now and instead focus on the matter at hand.
What could Rodimus possibly have asked that would make Starscream send him away? As far as Megatron had been told, by Soundwave and Knockout, they got along rather well. Again, Megatron didn't understand why or how. He'd never taken Starscream as someone who liked newsparks, the contrary in fact, but then he did get attention, which was something the seeker liked too much. Rodimus had explained in very detailed ways how much he liked to talk to Starscream, so whatever he had said it wasn't supposed to upset the him.
"When did he tell you this?"
"A groon ago or something." Megatron nodded.
"If I see him I will tell him you asked." Springer nodded back, looking pleased.
Megatron wanted to contact Soundwave and ask if he knew anything about what happened in the medbay and see the recording of it, and perhaps check on Rodimus to make sure he was alright. But, he had an audience. The newsparks all looked up at him, as if his next move was crucial to them, and no one took the hint that the conversation was over. He waited a klik longer, hoping they would understand what the silence meant, but then gave up.
"If you'll excuse me, I have some work to do." He made to turn and walk towards the Nemesis, but was stopped by yet another question.
"Why?" That word again. He thought what would be the best answer in the situation.
"There are several projects I need to check on, and make sure they are in order as well." Such as keeping Starscream on a short leash.
"Oh, okay." Seeing his chance, he gave a polite nod and walked away. Thankfully, he wasn't followed.
He continued walking a small distance away from the newsparks, and anyone else nearby, before he commed Soundwave.
Half a groon later, Megatron was watching the video from Rodimus visit with Starscream. Megatron had made a point in not supervising the conversations like this, even though he considered everything Starscream did his business, and trust that Starscream wasn't a fool who would hurt a newspark in medbay filled with other bots. But Soundwave still made sure to keep a record of their little time together. He hadn't reported anything so Megatron had assumed everything was okay, considering they were dealing with Starscream.
The conversation didn't seem strange in any way, but once Rodimus asked about Starscream's past, it turned into something different. Megatron watched that part three times before pausing the video just after Rodimus asked the question. Starscream faceplate was locked in an expression Megatron hadn't seen in a long time. It wasn't something you would look much into unless you knew the seeker, and Megatron knew the seeker very well. The first time he saw it was when Thundercracker and Skywarp died, and then every time they were brought up in a conversation. Megatron quickly learned not to bring them up. Not that he usually did, he wasn't the kind of mech who asked how someone was doing after a great loss, but sometimes it had just fitted the conversation. Or threat. But whenever they were brought up Starscream became unpredictable, more so than usual. And distracted in a way. And Megatron did not need a distracted soldier.
But Rodimus didn't know any of this, he was just curious. By the look on his faceplate when he left, he was both worried, most likely over what he did wrong, and hurt, because he hadn't meant to do anything wrong. On top of that, Soundwave didn't know where he was. There was only so many cameras.
"Situation: serious?" Soundwave asked, using his own voice.
"No, I doubt it. Rodimus is only confused, and Starscream hasn't done anything unexpected." He took one more look at the paused image of Starscream before turning around, letting Soundwave clear the screen. "I'll look for Rodimus, the studies start in five cycles so I doubt he is too far away. As for Starscream…" What could he do? Despite his feelings towards the seeker - conflicted, unexplainable, messed up feelings that had build up over the course of the war that told him he had to do something with that seeker- he wasn't really his responsibility anymore. Was he? Megatron let the question linger.
The Autobots were the ones who had rescued and recruited him, on their own. They hadn't approached him on anything that had to do with the seeker, even though Megatron was sure they had thought about it. When he dispatched the Decepticons he also dispatched Starscream. They had their history, certainly, but they had nothing else between them anymore. Starscream hadn't been assigned a job yet so they weren't even colleagues. Just two mechs who used to work very closely with each other. And against each other.
"...Starscream wanted to be left alone, might as well grant him that wish." He said in the end. "He has some thinking to do, it seems." And so did he.
When it came to finding Rodimus, Megatron had an idea of where he could be. There seemed to be something about high places that appealed to Rodimus, more than once he had caught Rodimus saying he'd climbed some of the broken buildings in Kalis, and of course told him not to do it again. But, his favorite spot was on top of the Nemesis, so that was where Megatron decided to look for him. He only hoped Rodimus wasn't too upset. He didn't know what he would do then, he barely had any experience with happy newsparks, how he was supposed to handle a sad, or angry, one he didn't know. It's not like he could threaten him like he'd done with his troops.
Sure enough, Rodimus was on top of the nemesis. He had perched himself at the front, as far out on the spikes as he could, which was very far, and Megatron felt something twist inside him at the thought of what would happen if the newspark fell down. A very detailed picture of a crushed cranium, ruptured fuel-lines, bent limbs and grey optics was threatening it's way into his mind. He pushed it away.
Rodimus hadn't noticed him, which was knew. Every time Rodimus saw Megatron he would come up and greet him, often staying with him until he had to leave. In fact, Megatron would sometimes go out of his way to avoid being seen by him just so he could get some work done. And sometimes he'd do the opposite, because, like he admitted earlier, he wasn't that bad of a company.
"Shouldn't you get back to your studies?" Megatron said questionly, hiding the fact that he knew why he was there behind a calm voice.
Rodimus looked up in surprise, but smiled as soon as he saw who it was. "Oh, hey!" He didn't move to stand though. "I… just wanted some time alone." He looked downward again, the height seeming to be no problem. Megatron waited to see if he would say something more.
"Springer asked for you earlier." he said after a moment. Rodimus turned back towards him.
"He did? Why?" Megatron took a few steps closer. However, the edge was getting too narrow for him to walk on normally and he didn't feel like playing acrobat.
"Yes. He said you seemed upset earlier, and probably wanted to know if you were alright." He added, "If you hurry and get to you studies you can tell him yourself how you're feeling." He was hoping Rodimus would get the hint and get up and walk away from the edge.
"Do I really have to go to the studies? I can tell him later before recharge." No, that was not what Megatron wanted to hear.
"Yes, you have to go. Those are the rules, remember?" He said a bit sternly. "And you remember what happens when you break the rules?" This seemed to bring him to his senses.
"Fine." He stood up and walked back from the edge, Megatron noticed he had a great balance - that part of him that had twisted earlier sent a 'thank you' to Primus - and stopped just beside him. Now that he was closer, Megatron noticed what Springer had said earlier. Rodimus did look upset. Confused. "Can you go with me?" he asked. Megatron nodded. He wanted to make sure Rodimus did get to the studies and didn't run away.
They walked back to the door, and then into the elevator. The room that were used as a schoolroom used to be a storage room, one of the larger ones, and was located six floors down.
"I think I did something wrong." Rodimus said. He looked down at the newspark beside him.
"How so?" He asked. Rodimus was clutching his left arm, his usual upbeat statue slumped over.
"I asked Starscream a question, and it looked like it really upset him." Rodimus looked up to meet Megatron optics. "I asked him what he was like before the war. At first it looked like he was going to answer me, but then he said he didn't want to. Then he told me to leave." His voice had a higher pitch than usual, as if he was whining, but his expression told Megatron he was confused. And hurt. He wasn't used to this kind of 'punishment', for lack of better word. When he'd done something wrong before he'd always been told exactly what it was. Now he didn't know, and unlike his other wrongdoings where it had been something physical, like racing inside the halls, now it was a matter of feelings. Starscream didn't want to answer that question, and but Rodimus didn't understand what he had done wrong, and that was what confused him.
Instead of this long explanation though, he thought out a shorter one. "You have asked him many questions, haven't you?"
"And this never happened before, did it?"
"Then you didn't do anything wrong. The question must have upset Starscream, but you couldn't have known." The elevator stopped and the door opened. They walked out and to the right. "You should concentrate on your studies, and then address this matter with Starscream the next time you see him." Hopefully Starscream would've regained some sense by then.
here were literally hundreds of them. And they were everywhere. They were working with Bulkhead and the drones outside, they were scouting for energon, coming and going all the time, they were patrolling the halls - Rodimus didn't know what for but that wasn't his job anyway - and they were talking. Not just on break or in special places, but everywhere. There were noise everywhere and all the time, even during the night! And it was amazing.
He and the other newsparks were talking with them too, and they never ran out of stories. Stories about spying, stories about fighting, stories about winning and losing, everything they could think of. Why had the autobots - or team Prime as everyone called them - never told them any of this? It was so exciting! Of course, Rodimus had gotten a lot of info out of them, but they never seemed happy to share that much. The refugees on the other hand were more than happy to share a story, even when they were working.
The first orbital cycles, most of the newsparks just talked with the Autobots, leaving the Decepticons alone. But they started to talk a little with them, and now they barely noticed they were of different factions. Springer, Blurr and himself had been walking around outside the ship the orbital cycle they all came, and stumbled over the three decepticons talking. Though it had been fun seeing the big one fall, and he still wanted to prove to them he was friends with Megatron, he avoided them whenever he saw them. Springer and Blurr hadn't seen them either and agreed it was best to stay away from them. What if they told the Autobots they had been away from class? They would really be in trouble then.
Many of the Decepticons where ruffer and told scarier stories than the Autobots, but some of the newsparks actually liked that. Though, they often had to agree not to let the Autobots, especially Team Prime, know about it. Like when Brawl - if Rodimus remembered correctly - told them about a battle where he split an Autobot in two. Rodimus hadn't asked him for more stories since - Springer on the other hand…
He was on his way to the medbay to visit Starscream. He hadn't been allowed back to the medbay for five orbital cycles after the refugees came, but had managed to stay out of trouble, ergo: he hadn't been caught since then. Now, sixteen orbital cycles later, he liked to visit him around noon. They often had a long break from studies then, when they had studies, and it was just a nice time to come. By that time, Starscream would have gotten enough recharge and Knockout was often done with his checks and whatever other things he did. The first few times Starscream seemed surprised and a little shocked. Now though, he looked pretty okay with Rodimus being there. He never said a word to any of the other patients, doctors or visitors in the medbay, and was always sitting on his berth away from the others. Starscream didn't like being alone, Rodimus had figured that much out, but he didn't want just any company either. It was weird, especially since he didn't think anyone else visited Starscream.
The doors opened with the normal 'swish' sound and revealed a packed medbay. Every sick-berth was taken, and there were always at least three doctors there looking over everything. This time it was four: Knockout with Starscream, First Aid with a new femme, and Flatline and Red Alert who appeared to actually be talking to each other while looking over their patients.
Most didn't look up as he entered since they were used to him being there around this time. He did give a wave to the femme though, since she didn't know him.
Knockout was writing something down as Starscream walked around near his berth. He was getting better, but his balance was still really bad: he walked really slowly and had problems going straight. He had asked once why, but Starscream said it was nothing. It was something, but he didn't want to talk about it. Maybe he was embarrassed? Anyone could walk, and not being able to do it right wasn't really fun.
"Hey guys." He said when he got close enough.
"Hey Roddy." Knockout answered without looking away from his writing. Starscream stopped at his berth and used it to keep his balance. He looked tired. "Hello Rodimus."
"You're getting better." Starscream huffed as if he didn't believe it. He did that everytime Rodimus or Knockout said anything good about his health.
"He is right, you know. You've improved a lot: you're pede is completely healed, there is no way it could get any better, the same goes for your inner wounds. The only thing left is to help you walk normally again." Knockout said while turning around.
"What about flying?" Knockout stopped on his way to a computer, frozen in midstep, which looked a bit funny. "Aren't you going to help him with that?"
"Of course!" Knockout glanced over at Starscream, but he didn't say anything. "What I meant was; the only thing left before he can leave the medbay, is to help him walk again. He can't fly in here now can he?" No, that wouldn't work. It would be really stupid. Maybe he could hover, but he couldn't move around in here.
He walked over to Starscream. "Is it okay if I sit?" He gestured to the berth. Starscream nodded. The berth was too tall for Rodimus, so he had to climb up on it, but it was kind of cool to suddenly feel taller. Starscream remained standing though.
"Are you tired?" He looked like it.
"A little." He gestured to Knockout. "He came two groons ago." Rodimus grimaced. That's a lot of time to have someone ordering you around.
"Is he done now?"
"I believe so." Starscream shifted a bit and leaned against the berth with his back. "Anything interesting in your studies?" Rodimus shook his helm.
"No, not this time. We're just having math. It's okay." Math wasn't his favorite subject, but he didn't hate it either. It just got really boring over time. Luckily they had another teacher though. Or, several new teachers, since they were so many newsparks. There was Neon, a tall and sturdy mech who didn't have a neon coloured finish - unless you count dark green and and grey as neon. He'd worked with a lot of younglings before and during the war, so he knew how to handle them. He taught them about social rules, whatever was left as he said, and trained them. A little self-defence, but mostly games in order to get out all their energy. Marine, a femme with the same height and personality as Bulkhead. A teacher-turned-wrecker… Turned back to teacher. She mostly taught them how to read and write and about different dialects, even though there weren't that many left. She said it was important to understand what other bots said even though they spoke a little different than you. Last there was Azo. He had been a history and math professor before the war, so that was what he taught them. He was calm, not that the two others were wild, but he made the newsparks calmer by just being calm himself. It was weird, but it was helpful too. Studying in a noisy room wasn't always easy.
"Hm," Starscream answered. "How far have you gotten into it?"
"Um, we learned how to multiply some larger numbers just now, if that's what you mean." Starscream nodded. "Did you have math when you had studies?"
Starscream nodded again. "It was called school back then. Before we were assigned to a cast we had school with newsparks our age, no matter who they were, and learned the basics, including math. After I was assigned, I only learned what would be necessarily within the line of work I had. It was some math, along with geology, how to fly quickly without using too much fuel and similar things." Rodimus had learned a lot more about Cybertron before the war from Starscream then from Azo. Not that he was a bad teacher, but most of what he told, Rodimus already knew.
"Did you like to learn those things?" Rodimus knew geology had something with the ground to do, and that sounded really boring.
"I liked to learn, but not always what they taught us there." Rodimus turned as someone lost something on the other side ot the medbay. It made a big "clank" sound, but nothing broke. He turned back to Starscream, who hadn't moved, "You liked to learned about the universe, and energy stuff, right?" He hadn't said it directly, but Rodimus had gathered that from many answers to many questions.
"Yes. And I did on my own, whenever the opportunity arose". There was a little hint of pride in his voice.
"Did you have any friends you studied with? You couldn't have been the only one who wanted to something different that energon searching?"
Starscream looked away. "No." he said. "Not that I know of. I was alone."
That sounded really sad. And lonely. "Weren't here anyone else?"
Starscream frowned in thought. "There was one mech, not from my cast, that I considered a friend. He was a scientist, and we shared some interests." Rodimus shifted so he faced Starscream, whom also looked back at him. This was the first time Starscream had mention on ever having a friend, which was kind of worrying, but at the same time Starscream liked to keep some secrets.
"Who was he? What happened to him?"
"His name was Skyfire. He was a very calm meck, I almost never saw him angry or upset, though he could get serious when needed. I don't know what happened to him as he joined the Autobots. I never saw him in battle, though I'm not surprised, he was never one for fighting."
"What did he look like?" Maybe he was here? Maybe he wanted to become friends with Starscream again? That would be really nice, and Starscream would have someone else to talk to, about more complicated stuff.
Starscream looked at him skeptically, as if knowing why he asked. "He was taller than Megatron, a flight bot like me and his colours were mostly white with red on his wings and chassis." Rodimus tried to remember seeing someone looking like that, but he didn't think so. There were so many new bots, but Skyfire sounded like someone easy to spot, and remember.
"I don't think I've seen anyone looking like that. Maybe he's not back yet. I heard there were still more ships on their way home." A lot more in fact, but he didn't know any numbers. No one would tell him, or know one knew.
"I doesn't matter. We haven't talked for nearly fifty thousand vorns, I doubt we would have anything to talk about now."
Rodimus didn't agree, "I'm sure you would find something to talk about. It's not that hard."
Starscream huffed, though something apparently made him smile a little. "What?"
Starscream looked him over, "You talk as if everything is much easier than what it really is."
Rodimus tilted his helm, not really getting what he meant. "Maybe because I'm right?" He asked, he didn't make a point. What would the 'point' be anyway? Talking?
Knockout turned back towards them. "Well, it seems my work here for now is done. I'll be leaving and probably won't be back before tomorrow." He looked firmly - as firmly as one could look while smiling - at both of them. "And I assume I won't find anything or anyone out of place when I get back?" Knockout was still a little mad about that trip to the roof. He hadn't punished Rodimus or anything like that, but he kept reminding them both it was a bad idea then and a bad idea now.
"With so many new friends back home, how do you expect me to stay here?" Starscream said with false complaint. His voice was funny too: a bit higher than usual and softer..
Knockout seemed happy with the sort-of promise to stay here. He shifted his optics to Rodimus and raised an optical ridge.
"I won't take Starscream with me when I leave." That was all he wanted to hear. "Good." He turned around and walked away. "Well, bye bye for now." He said it with a sing-song voice and gave a half-sparked wave with the back of his servo. Then the doors closed behind.
Rodimus liked Knockout. He seemed so happy with himself and what he did. Still though, "Knockout is kinda weird." He looked back at Starscream who shook his helm. "You don't say." Starscream shifted and put some weight on his bad pede, testing it a bit. "Knockout was probably made with a broken mold." He put all his weight on the bad pede, and stood still for a moment. When nothing happened he relaxed a bit. He put one hand behind his back while using the other as he talked. "And then Primus thought it would be fun to watch us all suffer due to his mistake."
"Has he always been like that?"
Starscream nodded, "As long as I've known him. Though that hasn't been very long, thankfully."
"Do you think he was ever different than now?"
"I have my doubts anyone goes through life without changing at all. Even Knockout." Starscream answered. Rodimus couldn't really imagine it. Maybe a Knockout that didn't know so much about medicine and of course smaller, he probably didn't always have so many good come-back remarks either, but a Knockout with a different personality was a weird thing.
Rodimus looked a Starscream. He had to have been different too then. It sounded a little like that when he talked about the time before the war, but Starscream didn't share anything personal. The most personal thing he knew about him, that Starscream had told him, was some of the things he liked, like science, and now about Skyfire. It wasn't really much.
"What about you?" Starscream shifted his weight to the other pede, still relaxed. That must mean nothing hurt.
"What about me?"
"Have you always been like you are now?" For a moment Starscream was gone. He was still there, but it was like his mind disappeared to another universe.
"Of course not."
"What were you like before then?" Maybe he was happier? Starscream didn't smile that much, but Rodimus had noticed there were a lot of bots, from both factions, that didn't really smile much. It was because of the war, some of them had told him. After seeing a lot of bad things, you have problems seeing the good things, Smokescreen had told him. Rodimus could understand that.
Starscream opened his intake, but then closed it as he seemed to realise something. "I don't want to talk about it." He finally said. He spoke low, but not too low. Rodimus could hear him, but there was no way anyone else did.
"Why not?" Rodimus asked.
Starscream spoke even lower this time, but he sounded mad. "I said: I don't want talk about it." He pronounced each word carefully.
"Okay. I'm sorry, I won't ask again." They both went silent. Both staring at the floor. Rodimus tried to find something better to talk about. Something to break the silence. And the tension. He had gotten some annoyed answers, but never mad ones. What did he say wrong?
"Do you want to talk about the stars?" He didn't answer him. He just continued to stare at the floor, thinking hard about something. When he spoke his voice was back to normal.
"I want to be alone." Rodimus quickly turned his helm and looked at Starscream. He had never sent him away before, even though he had been really annoying at times. Instead he'd told him to calm down, or stop with whatever he was doing. Rodimus didn't know how to react.
"I'm really sorry! I promise I won't ask again, we can talk about something else".
Starscream raised his helm and met his optics. "I heard you the first time. I'm tired, and I want to be alone." He was really serious.
Rodimus sat still for a few kliks, but then reacted. Slowly, he climbed down from the berth and took a few steps back just to put some distance between them. None of them said a word as Starscream then sat down himself. Rodimus waited, hoping Starscream would say he didn't have to leave, but he didn't even look at him.
"I'll see you tomorrow." Rodimus said hesitantly. Starscream didn't answer him. Rodimus turned and, understanding absolutely nothing, walked away.
The recruiting was going as well as one could expect. Fights happened every orbital cycle, bots from both sides broke the rules and the cells very slowly filling up. It was very unrealistic, but deep down Smokescreen had hoped that last part wouldn't be necessary. It would be so nice if they could just focus on rebuilding Cybertron. No fights, no wondering who might get hurt next. Keeping the newsparks out of the loop was a challenge, but so far it didn't seem like the had noticed.
The first time a fight had been reported, they all rushed to stop it. That Megatron would be the first to arrive was, frankly, a surprise. Smokescreen guessed they - he - still didn't fully see how much he wanted the peace to last. He hadn't even taken a klik to take in the situation. He walked right into the fight and separated two bots, one Decepticon and one Autobot, by grabbing them by their shoulders and throwing them away from each other, and into other 'bots and 'cons. The fight stopped in an instant.
Smokescreen knew Megatron hadn't led the Decepticons the same way Optimus had led the Autobots, but seeing it was something else. He demanded respect by just standing there, and his optics pierced through anyone who didn't show it to him, even the Autobots. He asked a question, and expected an answer without any hesitation. Optimus had always acted like a part of the team, while Megatron set a clear and thick line between subordinate and leader with every action.
And for a few moments, Smokescreen was scared. He could still remember falling from the Nemesis with Megatron just behind him. He'd felt the anger burn like flames, just ready to consume him.
Though, when the fight was over and the assigned guards began their part of the job, Megatron stepped down and turned back to the calmer mech he'd been the last orbital cycles. No uncontrollable rage, no fight with the guards or Ultra Magnus about how they should do the job. He just stepped down. And when he turned and looked at the rest of them, he knew exactly what they were thinking about him. Ultra Magnus addressed his tactics, saying it might not be the best when addressing the Autobots. Megatron answered, respectfully, that it was the only way to address the Decepticons.
Smokescreen hadn't payed much attention to their reaction, but when he thought about it they didn't show the same fear the Autobots had. The Autobots, along with himself, were scared. The Decepticons weren't scared. They feared Megatron the same way anyone feared their leader: in a respectful way. You didn't want to do anything against your leader because he was you leader. Sure, Megatron had gained that respect through the wrong means, but that didn't change the fact that he had it. If he'd acted another way, the Decepticons might begin to see him differently, and then who would lead them? The Autobtos needed Ultra Magnus as their leader because he was someone they could look up to, someone they could trust. And Megatron was still the same to the Decepticons.
Smokescreen was unsure of how he felt about it, he could still feel the fear wake up whenever Megatron stepped into his old leader role, but Megatron never overstepped the line that made them believe he wasn't on their side. He did his part of the job, and then it was over. Smokescreen wanted to trust Megatron, he wanted it to be true that he'd changed, he wanted the war to be over. When training at the Autobot academy, he'd learned that it wasn't his job to make sure someone deserved his trust, but if and when they earned his trust, he owed them all of it. He was trying to do that now. Megatron deserved some of his trust, Smokescreen had no problem admitting that, but after everything he'd done during the war, earning all of it would take some time.
Like every time he was done with a check up on Starscream, he had a ache in his processor. But, like the last few times, it was worse than usual. Starscream wasn't, well, Starscream. He barely complained, he barely even talked. The only one who got him to talk was Rodimus, and it wasn't really the topics Knockout wanted him to talk about. 'How are you really feeling', 'what's bothering you' and 'what will help you get out of this pitiful, pathetic state of mind' wasn't questions for a newspark to bring up, but Knockout was starting to hope he would.
He was spending more and more time with team Prime, and he found himself enjoying it. Of course he spent just as much time with old friends among the Decepticons, but it was a long time since he last made new friends. It gave him a funny but nice feeling, especially since they were his enemies not to long ago. He spent a little more time with Arcee than the rest, they both knew something about the other no one else did, and it was nice to have someone who understood. Not just about being alone, but she lost partners too and she knew what it felt like suddenly not have the idiot around to annoy you. They hadn't really talked about their losses, but it was just under the surface. They understood each other.
But, despite their growing friendship, Knockout couldn't talk to her about Starscream. Not just because she hated him, but he'd told her that because he was a doctor, he wouldn't tell anyone about their little talk. He couldn't be a good doctor to her and then no one else. And, if he told others secrets to her, she would definitely think he'd tell hers to others once she wasn't around. He didn't want to lose her friendship.
He could legally tell the other doctors about Starscream condition, but they wouldn't truly understand why it was so serious. There was only one who would understand, and Knockout wouldn't be breaking any rules by telling him either since he was his and Starscream's leader, but by the Allspark he didn't want to talk to him.
He'd talked in Megatron's favor that orbital cycle Smokescreen brought up the recruiting idea, and he didn't think any of it would've worked if Megatron hadn't joined them, but with the history between them, and especially between Megatron and Starscream, that conversation would be too awkward. Starscream was a fighter, he had survived worse things than this. And Knockout was a good doctor. He'd continue on working like he did now, and if, if, it got worse, he would contact Megatron.
Bulkhead was on edge, figuratively and literally speaking. Literally because he was checking the work on of the buildings the happened to be on the fifth floor - it wasn't a floor yet, but it would be as soon as he approved the work they'd done on the railings. Figuratively because the ones who'd done the work he was inspecting was the Constructicons.
They'd been the first to put down their weapons and join their new plan, but Bulkhead couldn't help but be on edge when around them. He blamed that on the long war were they'd tried to kill each other. On their work, he couldn't be anything but impressed. Everything they'd been ordered to do, they'd done. They worked fast, but didn't hurry. If something needed extra time in order to be done right, they took the time that was needed. Sometimes they worked on separate projects, sometimes on the same one. When working together, it was like they shared the same mind. They fought and complained over each other like any other team, but it never affected their work.
But, sometimes Bulkhead would catch one of them looking lost or confused. Other times they would look around annoyed before seemingly realising something and continue their work. He knew there'd been six Constructicons when they first gained their name, but now they were just four. They were 'cons, they'd done horrible things, but they were also sentient beings, as Optimus used to put it, and they had feelings. It's not that Bulkhead thought they didn't feel, but seeing them react the exact same he had when losing someone was… strange.
Of course he had seen some 'cons that really were different. He'd looked them in the optics and seen absolutely nothing, but the Constructicons weren't like that.
Bulkhead didn't trust them, but when thinking about all the work they had in store, it was good to know they were on the same side. And they had the ability to communicate with the drones and actually get them to do their job. Why they listened to them and not him he didn't know, but for now he would be happy they were getting somewhere.
Apparently, recruiting the Decepticons had worked. They experienced fights and complaints, but nothing that wasn't to be expected. Ratchet didn't know how to feel. Happy for his friends or miserable for himself. He was glad the war was over, by heavens he was glad! But he missed Optimus. He missed the entire team. He missed shouting at Bulkhead and joking to Arcee, complaining about Bumblebee racing inside and the talks with Optimus.
But at the same time he enjoyed having some time alone to just think. He hadn't had time to do that in so long. Not on the same scale as now. He was thinking about Optimus and his sacrifice, he was thinking about the good times with the children and about Cybertrons reawakening. But mostly, he was grieving. Not just over Optimus, but all of the friends he'd lost during the war. He regrettably couldn't remember all of them, but he felt them. Or what was left of them. It was a feeling of an empty part in his spark that he just knew had once been filled by someone.
The feeling of losing someone you care about were so familiar to Ratchet he almost didn't recognize himself without it. The first times a friend died he had allowed himself time to grieve, but that time only proved to be wasted because soon someone else was gone too. So when someone then died, he would be sad and hurt, but he wouldn't stop his work. He had to continue because he could save someone else that sorrow, he could give someone else a reason to continue.
Sometimes he failed, and that hurt, but he didn't give up. He continued to the moment it all ended and now he finally had time to just grieve.
Sometimes the grieving was a moment of silence or a little pause in his work. Other times - and he would never tell anyone about that part - he broke down into a complete mess. It wasn't pretty, or even sane, but he'd hid those feelings away for so long it was a relief to finally let them go. He never showed any of the humans working with him that he was in fact grieving over more friends than he could remember, but they helped him through it. When he wanted to have 'break' from it, he would ask if the needed his help and they always had something extra for him to do. It was a strange way of handling it all, but from a doctor's perspective, he believed he needed it.
And when he was done, when he didn't not understand how to feel, he could visit Cybertron. Not just for a few groons, but several orbital cycles. He would meet the rest of the team, and old friends he hadn't seen in several vorns. And maybe, just maybe, he would even be okay with the Decepticons being there too.
There was chaos and order at the same time. Hope and fear, happiness and anger. Old friends met while their enemies watched. No one knew what to expect, but everyone knew what to do. And in the middle of it all the newsparks observed and took in what they could, interpreting everything in their own way. The Autobots, and Megatron, were doing everything in their power to keep them out of the fights and danger zones, but it was impossible to shield them all from everything.
Soundwave could see, hear and feel all of this. Very little escaped him and he would often find out about those things later. The Autobots tried to hide from him, and while the Decepticons didn't like his everlasting presence they knew it was futile to hide. Everything of importance he would report to Megatron, like always, and Ultra Magnus. What they then decided to do was up to them. If they needed his help he would give it to them, but his main job was to observe. Communication with other ships was a part of that job, and he did that part flawlessly.
Usually he knew what to expect, but now was one of those times he didn't. He could tell those newsparks would sneak out tonight, and that mech would collapse on his berth in a few cycles, but he didn't know what would happen with the situation as a whole. The fact that the war was over was sinking into everyone, and they were happy about it, but finding out how to act around their enemies was a challenge. There were a few, very few, who had been friends before the war that now decided to talk again. It didn't go without any problems, but those few made it possible for the others to be a bit less tense around each other. A few others who didn't know each other also started communicating, only about trivial things like "pass me the drill" and "we have to check for energon over here", but it was much better than a gun in the faceplate.
Soundwave had had little faith in the entire plan, but he could see there was hope it would work. Slowly, true, but the war had lasted for fifty thousand vorns. And considering it was only eight orbital cycles since the refugees arrived, they were ahead of schedule.
Nursing student with free time that probably should be used on other things than fandoms...
I'm working on a Transformers fanfic, check it out if you want to. I also draw and paint, though I rarely post any of it.