"Choices are the hinges of destiny." - attributed to Edwin Markham and Pythagoras
"Do we really need to continue?"
Those were the first words Starscream could bring himself to say in response to Skyfire's suggestion. When his companion didn't reply immediately, the tetrajet continued.
"Every world we've visited so far has proven to be a dead end. This galaxy you propose to visit will more than likely prove to be no different. Perhaps it would be best to cut our losses and return to Cybertron."
Although slightly annoyed that his suggestion was being dismissed, the shuttle made an effort to respond calmly and firmly. "You know full well our world needs new energon sources, Starscream. It is our duty to do everything we can to find them. And if that means examining unexplored galaxies, then that is what we do."
"And look how well our expedition has turned out so far! All the planets we've visited which seemed promising at the start have all turned out to be useless for one reason or another!" Starscream was at the end of his limited patience. As far as he was concerned, the mission was a failure and needed to be aborted, and he was going to make sure Skyfire understood why he felt that way. "Either they had sentient life, or inadequate amounts of energon for our needs, or the energon source proved to be toxic. How many more worlds are we going to have to visit before you will admit that this has been a fruitless expedition, Skyfire?"
Skyfire sighed inwardly. While he hated to admit it, he couldn't deny any of Starscream's points. The expedition had proven to be arduous and irritating right from the start. Each planet the two of them visited and scanned had proven to be of no real use to their home world. Ancient Cybertronian law forbade them simply taking energon from worlds where sentient life existed, for the sources by rights belonged to those inhabitants, and could not be removed without their permission. Of the majority of worlds that did not contain sentient life, the sources proved to be meager, far too small to last Cybertron for any significant length of time. On a handful, while the scans showed larger sources, further tests had shown either traces of toxins and pollutants that would be dangerous to their systems (and there was no guarantee that purification would work on some of these toxins), or the energy was too unstable to be transported without the risk of it exploding.
It also hadn't helped that on some of the worlds with sentient life, Starscream got bored and decided to tease the inhabitants, the end result being their having to leave in a hurry. Skyfire had long since grown weary with the whole mission and its string of failures, and could not deny there was something to be said for returning home.
On the other hand, there was one particular detail that Starscream seemed to have forgotten about in his tirade.
"Do you really want to inform the Science and Expedition Council that we failed to check out every possibility? And the galaxy ahead is virtually uncharted with only two cursory scans of the system ever being done. No expedition has ever been sent here, so for all we know, there may be a world that meets our needs."
Starscream was silent for a few kliks, pondering this point. No, he truly didn't want to report to the Council that they had failed to check out every potential energon source. He had more than enough problems with them as it was, and was not particularly eager to add another to the pile. If they could at least find one world that was suitable, it would certainly be a boon for Cybertron. Not that he expected he and Skyfire would get much credit for discovering it. No, more than likely the Council would claim all the credit, as usual. But at the very least, it might help them get better assignments in the future.
Still, he couldn't shake the feeling that something would happen to cause this search to fail as well. On the other hand, he knew just how stubborn Skyfire could be when he had his processor stuck on something. There would be no getting it out of his helm, and Starscream suspected that Skyfire would go on alone even if he refused to continue. And the Council would be on his aft for that.
Seeing no other solution, and pushing aside his misgivings and anger for the time being, Starscream asked resignedly, "What is the information we have on this galaxy?"
Skyfire inwardly grinned. He knew the mention of the Council would be enough to sway Starscream. Keeping his amusement at winning the argument out of his voice, he replied.
"Galaxy C-29A321 was scanned about seventy-two thousand vorns ago, with a second scan performed approximately thirty thousand vorns later. The results of the scans showed there to be nine planets, an asteroid ring, and a solar star in the center of the system. The scans also showed that several of the planets were composed of gas, and several had moons and rings. All of the worlds are uninhabited. The galaxy was deemed unimportant enough to explore further shortly after the second scan, and no one has been interested in mounting an expedition there since."
"If several planets are completely formed of gas, it may be impossible to find a suitable source world for Cybertron's needs," Starscream warned after thinking this information over for a few kliks.
"Still, it is possible we will find a world that could be useful. Not all of the planets are gas; there were five that registered as rock planets. If not any of the worlds, perhaps one of the moons may have energon deposits.
"And if I'm wrong, you can say 'I told you so' for the next thousand vorns," Skyfire concluded with a grin in his voice. "Besides, even if there are no energon sources, wouldn't it look good on our records that we were the first to discover new information about this galaxy?"
Starscream couldn't help feeling just a little amused. Skyfire sounded as excited as a Sparkling at the prospect of discovering new information. Of course, the idea was exciting to him as well. Besides, he was always up for trying something new or different. He gave an inward smirk. What the Pit…Nothing worse could happen than our previous experiences.
"I shall hold you to that, Skyfire," he responded, amusement in his voice.
Without another word exchanged, the two explorers sped off on a direct course towards Galaxy C-29A321.