Chapter 1: Out of Danger
Optimus became aware of the helicopter blades cycling above at the same time that a determined sort of content filtered into his bond with Starscream. The Seeker was projecting that he and Pharma had found a trine again together. At the same time that he tried to communicate how happy he was for the Seeker, Optimus made Starscream aware of Spinister’s presence over his helm.
It was surprising enough that the helicopter hadn’t attacked him yet, he wasn’t going to push his luck.
Spinister began firing in a pattern around Optimus, forcing the Prime to divert from his original course. Optimus liked this less and less. He pinged Prowl for back-up as well as Starscream when two Seekers joined Spinister in harassing and herding him.
As the hostile fire forced the Prime to dodge and weave towards a bluff that was perfect for an ambush, he recalled the age old argument that he constantly had with his officers and Starscream: Was it a trap if one knew it was there?
Though at this point, it was certainly a trap as the convoy was trapped in his alt-mode if he didn’t want to become an immediate target and leave Orion vulnerable. No, he most certainly wouldn’t win this argument, if he and Orion lived long enough to see it.
Suddenly, the roar of jet engines cut down through the sky to his audials as well as the tinny sound of laserfire. Starscream cut across Spinister, Skywarp, and Thundercracker, forcing them to pull up and dodge around him. This opening gave Optimus time to push towards the Ark. Pharma soon followed his daring aeriemate and they harried the two Seekers and the helicopter together. Pharma went so far as to physically push Spinister back towards the Nemesis.
With their three herding aerials out of the picture, the rest of the ambush came out from behind the bluff to chase the Prime and the race was on. Blitzwing took to the air to strafe the convoy from above and Optimus darted and dodged about his fire. Accompanying him were the Stunticons- who were quick to form Menasor. In a straight run, Optimus could easily out distance the Combiner, but Blitzwing was forcing him to wobble to the right and left. He could only hope he would reach the perimeter and bring Menasor under the Ark’s heavy cannons in time.
Starscream and Pharma cracked overhead again and looped around, flying dangerously low over the ground. With one Seeker on each side, they transformed into mech mode and gripped Optimus from behind, activating their jets.
Optimus had often wondered what it would be like to have that kind of speed. He was sorry he asked. His seatbelts and interior restraints were barely keeping Orion, who was NOT happy, in the soft seats as they bounced and jostled back towards the Ark and right under the first volley of heavy artillery. Blitzwing dodged it just fine, as did the three aerial fighters who were coming after him, but Menasor was forced back.
Sideswipe was waiting in Kaon’s skiff safely beneath the heavy cannons. Optimus transformed gratefully and climbed up into the vehicle. “Sideswipe, good to see you.”
“Prime. Like these fancy hoverjets?” He patted the skiff. “Kaon leant it to me. Something about keeping his true affiliation a secret for now.”
“Wise choice. Back to the Ark, please, Sideswipe. Post-haste.” Optimus bounced Orion gently, trying to soothe his child.
Starscream and Pharma had taken to the air again and covered their retreat back into the safety of the Ark. As Optimus, Orion, Sideswipe, and the skiff disappeared behind the armored door and turret defenses lined up on the enemy fliers, all six landed and the stand-off ensued.
Chapter 2: Stand-Off, Stand-Down
Skywarp and Thundercracker. Starscream hadn’t been the best brother to Skywarp, nor the best brother-in-law to Thundercracker. They were not even trine by the end of his time with the Decepticons, more of two Seekers and one Commander. It was a shame.
“You don’t want to do this, Skywarp.” Starscream warned him. “Just turn around and fly away.”
“No can do, Screamer.” Skywarp shook his helm. “You’ve no idea what things at headquarters have been like since you left.”
“I was driven away.” Starscream reminded him. “And had to be rescued.”
“Oh, water under the bridge, Screamer.”
“You’re crazy if you think I’m coming back after what happened to Sunstorm.”
“I don’t think Megatron knows what happened to Sunstorm. But Stars, you have to come back. Soundwave is running the base like the Gestapo.”
“I have a better idea. You can stay here.” Starscream tapped one foot.
“Stay? With the Autobots? No, way, Starscream.”
“I don’t have the sigils. I’m still a Decepticon, Thundercracker. And I always have been.” The red and white Seeker replied.
“We’d be hunted down and massacred by the DJD.”
“No, you won’t.” Starscream assured him. “The DJD won’t be anyone’s problem soon. I promise you that.”
“Hah! You’re all talk and no payoff, Starscream. You always have been.”
Starscream’s optics became sad. “I’m sorry it has to be this way.” He leveled his null rays and the two sides opened fire on each other.
The Decepticons peeled off and away after a few minutes of back-and-forth shooting and a brief tussle between the former members of the Elite Trine. Starscream watched them go and bowed his helm, clenching one servo in a determined fist.
Pharma set a servo on his shoulders. “I’m sorry. I wish they had listened.”
“They will listen. They will all listen.” Starscream ground out. “When I remove the DJD from the universe.”
Pharma hugged him. “Come inside and let’s introduce our sparklings to Sunstorm. He could use cheering up.”
“You’re right. The sooner he’s on his pedes, the better. How long do you think he has in his gestation?” Starscream had teeked the sparklings almost at once when they had seen the golden Seeker.
“The three are about to descend, and from there it’s only a matter of a few months.” Pharma explained. “I’m worried for his sanity, though. A three-way Carrying is nothing to sneeze at.”
“At least he wasn’t bonded to one of the Creators.” Starscream sighed.
“No, there is that.” Pharma agreed. “Starscream… who do you think…?”
“I have my suspicions.” Starscream reflected on Jazz’s accusation against Soundwave and the fact that Soundwave was very close to both Megatron and Shockwave. And, according to their spies, Shockwave had been on base during the right time-frame. “But let’s not talk about it anymore. It’s not our business until Sunstorm decides it is.”
Chapter 3: Comforting Sunstorm
Optimus looked up from Orion as Starscream came in. “He’s settled. I think the ride helped, though that last section…” He was trying to make light of a scary situation. Starscream sighed and went to him, holding the Convoy. Optimus hugged him back.
“Let’s show our sparklings to Sunstorm. He needs cheering up, Optimus.”
“I felt your message. You’ve found a new trine, then?”
“Yes.” Starscream nodded. Trines were important in Seeker culture. Three was a magic number. Though it wasn’t nearly as intimate a relationship as perverted minds might imagine, it was a close one between three individuals. Trines could form between family members, as Starscream’s old trine had been. In the old days of Vos, trines had been constantly evolving, being broken and mended as social groups changed. It was rare for one to be permanent.
“I’m glad for you.” Optimus squeezed the Seeker about the waist as he accepted Regullara with the arm not cradling Orion. Starscream carried Rigel and Bellatrix.
Pharma and Kaon met them in the corridor. Pharma was holding their red and gold twins, Shockbreak and Lightwing.
Kaon and Optimus nodded to each other. The generator bar electric chair was a former member of the DJD and had agreed to help Starscream organize a resistance against the autocratic monstrosity the Decepticon movement had grown into.
Sunstorm’s optics had difficulty tracking them when they entered the medbay. His faceplates were melted and scarred and the sensors would take a long time to repair. His vocalizer was destroyed for now.
With that in processor, he was recovering well. Ratchet had replaced a good deal of his chassis and his wings had been re-shaped. Perhaps he would be walking soon.
Starscream gently set Rigel beside him on the berth. “Sunstorm, these are mine and Optimus’s sparklings. Rigel, Regullara, Bellatrix, and Orion.”
Sunstorm lifted his servo just barely and Starscream brought the sparkling to it, letting him stroke the baby’s wings. The golden Seeker turned his optics to Pharma and Kaon next.
“These are Shockbreak and Lightwing.” Pharma told him in a soothing voice. “Kaon is my mate and their Sire. He was the one who found you.”
The familiar, soothing feeling of Kaon’s blanketing EM field surrounded Sunstorm. Yes, he knew Kaon. He knew he had great power to kill and cause pain. But apparently, he also had great power to heal and soothe. He wondered how much of that Kaon had known of.
Kaon took his servo and helped him touch Shockbreak and Lightwing. Then, Sunstorm carefully took his servo from Kaon’s and tapped his chest plates- where his gestation tank lay.
“Your own.” Starscream spoke softly. “We know, Sunstorm. We can’t wait to meet them too.”
Sunstorm nodded and let his servo rest over them. The sparklings, let loose under their Carriers’ watchful optics, began crawling all over his aching frame, chirping in curiosity and exploration. Sunstorm didn’t wince: Their weight was nothing and he had suffered worse. His optics did their best to follow them.
At last, Pharma gathered up his twins. “It’s time for you to get some rest, Sunstorm. We’ll be back later on, okay?”
Sunstorm nodded and his optics dimmed as Starscream and Optimus gathered their own sparklings. Starscream flicked his wings to Sunstorm in a Seeker greeting and Sunstorm flicked them back. Then, he cozied down into the berth with a sigh.
Optimus arranged the two sparklings in one arm and set a servo on Starscream’s wing as they left the medbay. “It isn’t your fault.”
Starscream turned his red-gold optics on him. “How can you say that?”
“It’s the truth, Starscream.” They walked back to their quarters together. “It wasn’t your fault that Soundwave took Sunstorm, just like it wasn’t your fault that he wasn’t rescued by any of the other Decepticons. You’ve spent a lot of time keeping him alive. You can’t protect all of your Seekers.”
“It seems I can’t even protect one.” Starscream bitterly replied. “I convinced him to come to Earth with the rest of us. He wanted to stay on Cybertron, but I worried that if I let him out of my optical range…”
“Someone would offline him. Starscream, you did your best for him.” Optimus patted his mate’s back gently. “You did more than could be expected of you.”
“It wasn’t enough, though.”
“Do you think anything would have been?” Optimus countered. “And now that he’s here, you will protect him again, and he will protect you. You are trine.”
Starscream nodded slowly. “Yes, we are.” He sighed, looking up at Optimus with a soft smile. “I love you, you know?”
Optimus opened his mask and pressed a kiss to his lips. “I love you too.”
Chapter 4: Pharma's Breakdown
Kaon and Starscream sat down with Pharma for a strategy meeting later in the decacycle. The three had taken over a forward lounge that was currently empty. It had definite benefits. The strongest of which was that the vents were located at the floor level instead of on the roof level. That meant that even if Lazerbeak were in the vents, she wouldn’t be able to see what they were planning.
“Tarn, Vos, Helex, and Tesaurus.” Starscream considered the four names. “Kaon, I need everything you know on them. Weaknesses and strengths.”
Kaon took a stylus and began writing on the projection screen. “You all know about Tarn’s voice, of course.”
Starscream and Pharma shuddered and nodded. Everyone knew about Tarn’s infamous ability to stop a mech’s spark just by speaking to them.
“Tarn is also the most skilled fighter. But there’s a caveat. He’s the most skilled against one mech.” Kaon explained. “He can take on multiple, but if more than one person begins to tag-team him, his skill fails.”
“So if we focus on taking out the others quickly, then face him together, we stand a better chance.”
“Logical. But it won’t be easy to take out the others, especially not quickly. Helex and Tesaurus are slow and not as subtle, but they’re strong and Tesaurus especially has an amazing grip. If he gets ahold of one of us… We’d have to cut off his servos to get them loose.”
“…And there’s only three of us to do it. Wonderful.” Starscream scrubbed at his optics with the heel of one servo. “What about Vos?”
“Vos is the sniper. He’ll be firing from above, harassing us and trying to pick us off. However, he isn’t as good of an aim as you would think.” Kaon explained. “He always takes the shot he thinks he has, regardless of if he has it. If one of us is close to a member of the DJD during a fight, he might hit his own allies instead and that can work to our advantage.”
“…This is insane!” Pharma burst out suddenly. “We’re going up against four of the Galaxy’s most vicious killers and warriors and we have to rely on the idea that one of those killers might hit his own mechs!” The medic burst into tears. “It’s never going to work! The war is never going to end!”
Kaon reached out and stroked his wing, spark supporting Pharma’s. “I think that’s our cue to have a break, Starscream.”
“Looks like it. Thank you, Kaon. I’ll… Go mess around with calculations. Maybe I can come up with some kind of bomb that can destroy them utterly.”
“I wouldn’t count on it.” Kaon sighed. “Tarn has plenty of upgrades and Helex can withstand everything anyone throws at him in alt-mode.”
“… I’ll think on it.” Starscream assured him. “There is a solution to every problem.”
Kaon comforted Pharma while Starscream went to find Optimus and ask for his advice. He couldn’t help with the battle, but no one would ever know about these preliminaries.
Starscream rested against Optimus’s side. The convoy was bouncing Orion to sleep while the three Seekerlets were already resting in their cradle. “…Do you think I’m being foolish?”
“About the DJD. Do you think I’m being foolish? Insisting on taking them on alone?”
“I think you’ve thought over all the options and decided on the best one. I trust you, Starscream. And that means letting you risk yourself if you believe it to be the only option.”
“I suppose I need to convince myself again.” Starscream sighed. “Pharma is afraid we’ll all be killed.”
“…I’m afraid you’ll all be killed. That doesn’t mean you will be.” Optimus kissed his helm. “And Tarn’s pride will compel him to take at least two of you alive.”
“Perhaps Pharma shouldn’t take part in the fight with the DJD. He’s so nervous, he might panic and do more harm than good.”
Optimus brushed Starscream’s spark, sensing that there was more. “And?”
“And… if I don’t come back, someone needs to teach our sparklings to fly.”
“You will come back. It would take more than Tarn to stop you.” Optimus kissed his helm again and nuzzled his audial. “Now give us a kiss and put that brilliant processor to the problem. You’ll find a solution. I know you will.”
Chapter 6: Ravage's Mission
Ravage stalked through the Autobot base, tail twitching. Megatron’s orders still rang in his processor: Find and secure one of Starscream’s sparklings. Easier said than done, of course. Seekers being notorious for paranoia regarding their little ones.
Ravage slid into the shadows and stilled as the Autobot speedster walked past, the light blue one who couldn’t stop talking if his life depended on it.
Currently, he and the chatterbox sniper were talking over each other as they strolled along a patrol of the Ark. “Have-you-seen-the-sparklings? I’ve-never-seen-so-much-cute-in-my-fuctioning.”
“You really wouldn’t think that the Screamer could produce something so adorable. Not that Starscream is much of a Screamer. I haven’t even heard him screech lately. It must have been part of his persona while he was still an informant. Anyway, the sparklings are so cute. Especially the Seekerlets, though Orion is adorable as well, they’re so active for infants and their optics light up when they see new bots. So curious already-“ They turned the corner and were out of hearing range.
Ravage flicked her ears and continued on through the corridors and into the air vents. She didn’t dare approach from the door. Not on this mission. Starscream would be too alert over his sparklings and he knew her tactics too well to be fooled by tricks.
She picked up the noise of soft humming and crept along the vents, finally finding herself with a view of their berthroom. Starscream was curled around the four little ones, singing them Vosnian songs, but his optics were distant. He seemed to be musing on a distant problem.
Ravage settled in to watch, optics gleaming. Step One: Surveillance.
Chapter 7: Lessons for the Seekerlets
Pharma sang softly to Shockbreak, trilling three notes. Shockbreak scrunched his little nasal vent and made a babyish attempt to copy his Carrier’s voice. He seemed to understand that he hadn’t succeeded and began to cry.
“No, no, dear. You’re getting there. Try again.” Pharma shushed him with a kiss and cuddle. He repeated the notes.
“What are you doing?” Kaon came into the room, rubbing his wrists. He had been preoccupied repairing one of Ratchet’s tools. The doctor had given up on it, thinking it was broken beyond repair, but Kaon had rescued it from the scrap heap and was attempting to bring it back to working order.
“Trying to teach Shockbreak to sing.” Pharma explained. “He was making noise and trying to follow along with me.”
“He’s less than a vorn old, should he be singing so soon?”
“Seekers grow much faster than grounders, Kaon.” Pharma sadly told the sire. “We are a slave frame.” He cuddled Shockbreak again and trilled the three notes. The little Seekerlet neared one of the notes with every attempt.
“… I’m sorry, Pharma. I forgot for a moment. I know little of sparklings, almost nothing really. I was an only child.”
“It’s not your fault, Kaon. Pick up Lightwing and try talking to him while I sing with Shockbreak. It will strengthen your bonds with them to try and teach them.”
“Of course, my mate.” Kaon scooped up Lightwing and balanced the tiny child against his chassis. “Well, Shockbreak, I’m your Creator. Can you say that? Creator? Cre-A-Tor.” The generator was simultaneously in and out of his element with the child against his chassis. On the one servo, he loved to hold and snuggle them, physically displaying his affection. On the other servo, he was hopeless at attempting to communicate verbally with them.
Pharma sighed and smiled. His mate was a buffoon.
Chapter 8: All Your Base Are Belong to Ravage!
Red Alert stared down at the new scanner he had just installed. It was picking up a Decepticon signal. Not Starscream or Kaon’s, but something else. With trembling servos, he picked up the communicator. “Prime?”
“Yes, Red Alert? Go ahead.”
“I’m picking up a Decepticon energy signature within the Ark.”
“It’s not Starscream or Kaon. It’s- I think it’s Ravage.”
“Where is she?”
“Prime. She’s in the vents directly above Starscream and the Sparklings.”
Optimus had a frozen moment of horror before switching comm channels. “Starscream?”
The Seeker raised his helm. He had just managed to get all of the four infants to sleep, content. “Optimus?”
“You have to get out of there now! Take the babies and make your way to the command center. Ravage is in the vents right above you.”
“Roger.” Starscream gathered up his darling sparklings and backed away from the vents, trying to keep an optic on it as he retreated.
Ravage’s optics lit up in frustration and she charged the grate. Starscream barely closed and sealed the bedroom door before her claws dug into it. While Ravage back-tracked through the vents, Starscream made straight for the Command Center- the most secure point on the ship. As he rushed, Pharma joined him with Lightwing and Shockbreak and Kaon.
“You heard about Ravage too?” Starscream spared a glance for his aeriemate as klaxons sounded throughout the base.
“Optimus commed us after alerting you. If Megatron is after our sparklings, may as well go for both, right?”
“But why is he after the sparklings? Or is he at all?” Kaon’s voice was choppy as he sprinted to keep up with them.
“This is the second time Decepticons have been stalking my babies.” Starscream hissed.
“But Orion was with Optimus that first time, Starscream. They probably attacked Optimus and didn’t know about Orion.”
“It’s still worth it to take precautions.” Pharma told Kaon.
Hours later when the Klaxons had been silenced and the base cleared, the Seekers and their mates conferred over the safety of their children.
Chapter 9: Tarn and Megatron
“Why has Kaon not made a report, Tarn?” Megatron brooded in his throne room. “It has been nearly three decacycles since he was expected.”
Tarn and Vos exchanged glances. The cynical sniper rifle shrank back into the shadows of the decorative columns and let his commander act as a windbreak between him and the sadistic and tyrannical leader.
Tarn sighed and stepped forward. “Kaon’s silence is troubling, but it needn’t be because something has gone wrong. The last report showed that Kaon had been accepted by the Autobots and that Pharma was none the wiser. Perhaps the transmitter has been damaged or Red Alert has broadened his security field to include the area surrounding the Ark.”
“We would have been aware if Red Alert had broadened his security field to that point, Tarn. The upgrades would have been obvious.” Megatron growled. “No, I fear something far worse has happened to our Informant.”
Tarn’s optics widened behind his mask. “My Lord, you can’t mean… Kaon is your most loyal soldier, second only to myself. I have trained, groomed, and instructed him in every nuance of Decepticon lore and code. He would never dare betray you… or me.” The accusation hurt more than it had a right too.
“Are you absolutely certain, Tarn? Completely certain that Kaon would never be less loyal? He has never shown any Autobot tendencies?”
Tarn silently evaluated Kaon’s behavior. It was in line with Decepticon dogma. Except… “…In the matter of the Seeker medic, Starscream’s aeriemate, perhaps there were a few wobbles…” Tarn found himself on the floor with a large crack in his mask. Megatron had back-handed him.
“Fool.” He stated coldly. “At this time, when my rule is attacked from inside and out, when the best of my Decepticons leave my side, I cannot afford to have my administrators slacking.”
“Forgive me, Lord Megatron.” Tarn crawled to his knees and bowed low. “I believed I had driven the tendency from Kaon when I took Pharma in my own servo. I must have been mistaken.”
“Stand up, Tarn. It is no fault of yours. I would no more have suspected Kaon of deception than I would have Starscream of… Of…”
“It is not easy for you to speak of, Master. You don’t need to speak of it.” Tarn dared to comfort his leader. “We both know the egregious crime that Optimus Prime committed.”
“…It must never leave this room, Tarn. I will not have Starscream mocked in the assembly or jeered at. He was loyal once and remained loyal through suffering. I refuse to believe that he cannot be redeemed.”
“But my Lord, if we do not speak of the crimes Optimus Prime visited on Starscream, he will never be accepted into Decepticon society again.”
“He will be accepted if I say so.” Megatron hissed. “I will not stand for any less.”
“…Of course, my lord.” Tarn and Megatron continued their discussion, unaware of the flash of a watching visor.
Chapter 10: Discussion
“Why on earth would Megatron want one of our sparklings?” The two Seekers discussed over Sunstorm’s berth. The little Seekerlets were playing with the still weak Seeker while Pharma and Starscream talked and kept the golden Vosnian company.
“A bargaining chip, obviously. He knows we’ll have to retrieve them if he has them, that we’ll do anything to get them back safe and sound.”
“Agreed. I can’t bear the thought of any of our six in his servos.”
“With that in mind, I suppose he could be trying to make me come to him, using one of our babies as leverage.”
“That’s despicable. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was exactly it.”
Bellatrix squeaked happily and “attacked” Sunstorm’s servo, batting at his digits as the Seeker tried to tickle her. To his frustration, his servos were still clumsy and out of sync.
“But what could he hope to gain? He has to know we would be rescued.”
“Perhaps he hopes to hide you somewhere you couldn’t be found.”
“Pfft. He has to realize Optimus would find me, through sheer determination alone.”
“Then maybe he wants to make you stay by persuading you?”
“If he does, he’s going about it badly.”
“Agreed. But I know how mechs like Tarn think and Tarn is very similar to Megatron.”
“Tarn is a cheap copy, but a copy nonetheless. Perhaps you’re right. It is the sort of ham-fisted thing he might try.”
“Well, we can’t know for sure.”
“I think we can find out, though, if I can convince Jazz to do some snooping.”
Chapter 11: Jazz's Discovery
Jazz loved a good snoop. He was a terrible gossip and an incoragible spy. Going through Megatron’s base, finding out everything about the Decepticons who lived there, it was a job he would gladly do for free, and when the bossmech’s bitlets were on the line, he took it seriously.
He began by shadowing Megatron in the vents, following him through the corridors and rooms that formed a labyrinth around the Nemesis. If the great slag-lord didn’t lead him right to his target, he was Alpha Trion.
Sure enough, Megatron headed for the brig and through it to the interrogation room where Shockwave of all mechs was tinkering with a machine. “Shockwave. How goes progress?”
Jazz made a soft sound of disgust when he thought of the last report from Cybertron intelligence. Shockwave was clearly not at Point Darkmount anymore. From the looks of what he had set up here, he hadn’t been there for a long time.
“The device is ready, Lord Megatron. Now all we require is the Seeker himself.”
“And you’re certain this won’t hurt him?” Megatron looked up at the wall of computers, each one flashing different scan images. “Merely rearrange his priorities?”
“Of course, Lord Megatron. It will perform a deep-read of his memories and mentality, then at the touch of a button.” Shockwave tapped a shielded, red button. “It will wipe his memories of Optimus Prime, the horrendous crime he committed, and the Sparklings completely.”
“And the spark bond?”
“Will be broken.”
“Excellent Shockwave. Carry on. I will attempt to bring the Seeker to you once again.”
Jazz had taken a vid-capture of the entire conversation and his optics narrowed. Starscream had to see this.
Chapter 12: Starscream's Reaction
Jazz found Starscream tending to the sparklings, rocking Orion to sleep. “Jazz, did you find out anything?” Starscream questioned, looking up.
“I did. I don’t think you’ll like it.” Jazz handed over the tape and Starscream uploaded it, reviewing the footage.
Starscream’s servos trembled. “This… This is impossible. This technology is impossible.”
Jazz nodded. “That was my thought as well.” He sighed, tapping the table. “And another thing. The crime Shockwave mentioned… what was he talking about?”
Starscream was too good a liar to immediately deny any knowledge of it. “I’m not sure. Perhaps seducing me away from Megatron’s depravities. In his sick mind, he could see Optimus as some sort of thief or even rapist for being with me, marrying me. As if I had not chosen this.” He waved it off. “Optimus is my mate and he’s never so much as raised a servo to me, Jazz.”
Jazz nodded slowly. “Who knows how Megatron and Shockwave think, eh? So… How are the bitlets?”
“They’re all just fine.” Starscream smiled at his darlings. “All asleep for now.”
“I’ll head out before I wake them.” Jazz tickled Bellatrix’s wing. “Have a good afternoon, Starscream.”
Starscream nodded, smiling, but his energon was running cold. Jazz was too close to the truth and didn’t realize it. He only hoped the saboteur had been thrown off by his excuse.
Meanwhile, Jazz was thinking fast. He knew Prowl’s spark, so he knew about the person Optimus Prime had been. There was also the fact that Starscream was very careful to refer to his mate as Optimus, always.
Optimus Prime had never raised so much as a servo to Starscream, but what about Orion Pax?
Chapter 13: Snooping Part One: Ratchet
There weren't many Autobots who had known Optimus Prime when he was Orion Pax. He had been a mech about town, but he never had any serious relationships except with his partner, his doctor, his favorite drinking buddy, and his CO at the time - Ultra Magnus. Not by coincidence, all three were in close proximity.
"Why the interest?" Ratchet gruffly questioned.
"Just trying to understand, mech."
"Orion Pax saw the world in black and white. If you were white, he was your best friend. Hugged Sparklings, walked mechlings to school... The whole shebang. If you were black, you were dirt." Ratchet sighed. "He settled down after the war kicked in and he changed his occupation from Police to Archivist."
"I know he had a real rivalry with Starscream. What was going down there?"
"Hmph. Knowing what we know now? I'd say a mutual attraction from either side of the battlelines that fed into a constant frustration with each other. You know, Orion Pax never talked about Megatron with me. It was always Starscream this Starscream that."
"Makes sense if they were battling it out helm-to-helm."
"Yep. He was always talking like he was half-frustrated, half-admiring. Loved to hear how Starscream had put him in his place sometimes. Really seemed to change his opinion of Warframes."
"So... He was a Functionist?"
"He was an unconscious Functionist. Worst kind. Didn't even realize what he was doing to those he was patrolling under."
"You don't mean...?"
"Look. Orion Pax is nothing like Optimus Prime. He was a truly terrible person when it came to wrongdoers and he hated the Decepticons. Yes. He got brutal with them more often than not."
"What do you think would happen if he had managed to catch Starscream?"
"Probably would have torn his wings off and shredded them."
Jazz nodded, thinking.