Not many in the Autobots truly appreciated Skyfire’s experience as an expert in planetology and geoscience. Sure, it was all well and good being able to study and identify the different aspects of a planet that they were on and how it worked, but no one thought it was terribly impressive.
Except for Perceptor. As someone who prided himself in all disciplines of science, Perceptor was always excited by any pursuit of knowledge. That was why Skyfire liked inviting the microscope to go on exploratory missions to different places on Earth. Cybertron didn’t have ecosystems, so seeing all of the different ones there was fascinating. Or, as Perceptor always called it…
“Extraordinary!” the microscope enthused, putting a hand on the cypress tree before him. The swamp around them stretched for miles, framed by dense forest. The pair stood at the edge of the water, Skyfire being especially careful. His large size was often a concern for when he was observing the planet’s vast biomes. “Even with the changes brought about by humanity, this flora still displays amazing adaptability! They cling to life and continue to grow.”
“Biological life has the highest capacity for survival in the universe,” Skyfire agreed, looking from the microscope to the vast wetland he brought him to.
The others had scoffed at the idea of coming to the Great Cypress Swamp. ‘Great, go and look at mud,’ Brawn had chided. They didn’t understand that this was just one piece of the great puzzle that made up Earth. And every one of those pieces was important, working together to keep the planet alive. Sure, there were members who understood that nature was a miracle of the planet. Beachcomber loved it as much as any human, though he much preferred the more traditionally aesthetically pleasing areas.
No one truly appreciated it all as a whole like Perceptor did, though. Skyfire appreciated that the much smaller scientist was willing to be dragged from his studies at any time to see a new ecosystem he hadn’t experienced yet. Every opportunity to see something he hadn’t before was something he coveted.
“How many types of aviary did you say lived here?” Perceptor asked, watching one of the colorful birds fly by.
“73, as far as human research has determined,” Skyfire answered. “94 if you count the migrating ones.”
“Magnificent,” the microscope vented. “As ravaged as this swamp is, they still return.” He turned to say something else, but something caught him by surprise. A fairly large bird seemed to come from nowhere, narrowly missing his face. “Oh, my!” he shouted, taking a few steps back. He tripped and the next thing he knew he was in the water and muck.
“Perceptor!” Skyfire called, running over. He saw the red and green microscope sit up in the muddy water, blue optics wide from the experience. “Are you alright?”
The microscope lifted his arms, looking down at himself. “Quite intact,” he chuckled. “Though filthy. I think I’ll have to take a long oil bath when I get back to the Ark. I can feel it in my joints and gears.”
Skyfire relaxed and laughed, reaching down. “Well, look on the bright side,” he said, taking Perceptor’s hand and helping him up. “We don’t have to take samples, now. We can just scrape them off of you.”
Perceptor returned the sound, brushing himself off. “I think I would have much preferred to take my samples the old-fashioned way.” He looked to the sky as the sun began to dip in the winter sky. “Shall we be heading back? I think I’ve officially had enough nature for today.”
“Sure, let’s go,” Skyfire winked, gesturing down the river. They needed to get closer to civilization before he could risk transforming and taking off. “I just realized you’ll have to climb inside me covered in that, though.”
“My apologies,” Perceptor said sheepishly. “I really am glad you brought me along with you, though. No matter what Brawn says, this is always a treat. As much as I love staying at the base and working on my inventions, it’s always nice to get out onto the field. Sometimes I feel like I spend all of my time inside the Ark.”
“I’ll gladly take you with me wherever you wish,” Skyfire assured him. “Honestly, it’s the least I can do for you with how much kindness you’ve treated me with. And it’s literally been millions of years since I’ve had someone with me during my research.”
Perceptor looked up at him, noting the sadness still in his vocals despite his smile. “You still miss him, don’t you?” he asked softly.
Skyfire looked at him in surprise, face falling. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply… I mean, I don’t want to compare you to Starscream. I value your companionship just as much as I ever did his.”
The microscope shook his helm, placing a hand on the shuttle’s arm. “I know you do. You’re a good mech, Skyfire. You don’t have to justify yourself to me.”
Skyfire vented deeply, looking at the sky as two birds flew by, flitting around each other. He still felt awkward talking about it, since Starscream was their enemy now. But… “Yes, I do miss him. I don’t think I honestly will ever stop doing so. Sometimes I hope he’ll just… realize that he’s on the wrong side. If he did, if he truly wanted to change, would the Autobots accept him?”
Perceptor thought about it, watching the sun. The sounds of birds calling and the wet ground under their pedes filled the silence. After a moment, he answered, “I couldn’t say for everyone. Optimus Prime is a good leader, though. I’m sure he’d at least give Starscream a chance.”
“Would you accept him?” Skyfire asked.
“I… don’t know,” Perceptor admitted. “I suppose I would have to see if he was truly sincere. But… I’m sorry to say it, but I cannot imagine him truly wishing to change sides.”
There was another silence, Skyfire thinking over the words. He wanted to be at least a little upset that Perceptor didn’t have any faith in it. But he was right, and the shuttle knew it. Starscream was someone completely different than he used to be. It made him feel lonely realizing that. It was like the resetting of an optic for him. Starscream was haughty but caring, with the best intentions despite his spoiled nature one moment. Then he woke up after being knocked into the ice and Starscream was cold and calculating, willing to sacrifice anything and anyone for his ambition.
At least, he felt lonely until he looked down at the microscope walking beside him. He didn’t want anyone to replace Starscream, and honestly, no one ever could. But Perceptor wasn’t a replacement. He was someone completely different, someone kind and soft-spoken. Someone who showed his brilliance off not for attention and accolades, but to help those around him and truly try to make the universe a better place.
Skyfire finally smiled again. “I may miss him, but I think I’m coming to terms with it. Maybe one day we’ll be able to have peace between the Autobots and Decepticons. Then we’ll be able to explore whatever planet we want together again, just like we used to. It’s a nice thought. A dream, I guess,” he said. “But until then, you’re an excellent partner.”
Perceptor reset his optics in surprise before returning the smile, looking away as his faceplate flushed a bit. “Well, then,” he replied, resetting his vocals. “I hope you won’t feel too awkward if I ask you to help me… hmm… gather the samples off of my frame before I wash it all away. It would be a shame to waste all of it.”
Skyfire stared at him a moment before chuckling, then finally breaking out into a loud laugh. “I would be honored to scrape samples off of you, Perceptor,” he assured him as Perceptor began laughing as well.