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He started as an enigma to me; he remains an enigma to me. - Jeff Feuerzeig

Ajihad: You are an enigma, Eragon, a quandary that no one knows how to solve. - Christopher Paolini

Being dead sucked.

Skywarp grimaced as he leaned himself back against the wall in the corridor just outside the Seeker part of the Victory.

Not that he'd thought dying would be much fun (and it sure as Pit hadn't been), but he'd at least thought there'd be something meaningful after that.

Such as an endless pranking paradise, for example.  Playing all sorts of tricks on people in the Matrix would be the best afterlife ever, as far as he was concerned.

At the very least, he'd heard the human stories about how ghosts were supposed to make themselves known and cause all sorts of mischief.  As ridiculous as the fleshbags had sounded, Skywarp couldn't deny that when he'd found himself a ghost, the idea of spooking his comrades had appealed to him. 

It hadn't worked out that way.  All he'd been doing since then was watching his former comrades trying to stay alive in the death trap the Victory had become.  The only one who seemed to have any idea he was around was Dirge, though Skywarp wasn't sure why.  And he hadn't yet gotten the courage to approach the Conehead to ask about it.

Maybe he would later, after he'd checked in on his former Trinemates.

Well, one of them, anyway.

He looked down at the floor.

TC had taken his death hard.  Not that Skywarp could blame him.  They'd been friends since they were younglings, and had managed to survive all sorts of slag together.  With all they'd gone through, both had figured they'd see the end of the war together.

Again, it hadn't worked out that way.  And it was all because Skywarp had wanted to prove to Starscream that he could take care of himself in spite of that rule he'd laid down.

Stupid.  I was so stupid.

He should have known better; they'd had so many close calls before that day.  But Skywarp was convinced that his teleportation would pull him out of any jam as it had before.

If it hadn't been for that scrambler Motormaster had (courtesy of Soundwave, no doubt), he probably would have been able to.

But the aft had had that device, and Skywarp hadn't been able to escape before the Stunticons had jumped him.

The purple and black Seeker ghost growled softly as he tried pushing down the memories of what happened next.  He really didn't want to think about it anymore.

Experiencing it had been bad enough.

Waking up to find himself standing outside his mangled body with TC staring at it with hollow optics hadn't been fun, not at all.

Starscream hadn't been there, though.  Or if he had been, it was before Skywarp had become aware that he was dead.

But if he hadn't been, it would sure serve him right.  Primus knew that Skywarp had pulled enough slag on Starscream that his Trineleader probably wouldn't mourn him very much.  And he had probably been pretty slagged off when he'd learned that Skywarp had broken his rule and gotten himself killed.

Skywarp snorted.  Why the Pit was he worrying about Starscream anyway?  Mech made a good Trineleader, but he sure as Pit was a pain in the aft when it came to dealing with people.  Fragger couldn't take a joke, either.  He could also lie rings around everyone else and had turned on allies when it suited him more times than Skywarp could count.  Skywarp had never understood how that other fragger called Skyfire had ever put up with Starscream.

A soft sound just off to his left caught the black and purple Seeker's attention.

He turned to see the door leading into the main entrance to the Seeker wing opening, with Starscream stepping out a moment later.  His face was a stone-cold mask, and his wings were lifted slightly.

Huh.  Speak of the Unicronian and he shall appear, Skywarp thought ironically as Starscream turned in his direction and began walking towards him with an air of determination.  His field was calm as he passed Skywarp.

The purple and black Seeker was puzzled.

This didn't make any sense.  What was Starscream doing, breaking his own edict?

Skywarp frowned.  Starscream had been pretty clear on that rule of his, so what was he doing outside of the safety of their wing, especially now that their Trine was down one?

This warranted investigation, Skywarp decided.  Pushing himself off the wall, he went after his former Trineleader.

He followed Starscream through the corridor until they reached a darkened part of it, close to where Soundwave and his supporters hung out.  Silently, Starscream stepped into the shadows and off-lined his optics, and pulled in his EM field until it was almost non-existent.

Skywarp frowned.  What the Pit are you up to, Starscream?  This behavior made no sense, not even for his Trineleader.

Before he could go any further down that train of thought, a sound of raucous laughter reached his audials.  Skywarp froze as he recognized the voices of Motormaster and his team, and tendrils of fear crept up his backstrut as he realized that Starscream had put himself right in the path of his Trinemate's killers.

"Damn it, you fragger, are you trying to get yourself killed, too?!" he yelled at his Trineleader in a half-panicked voice, knowing that Starscream couldn't hear him, but he didn't care.  He might not care about Starscream that much, but he knew that if TC were to lose both members of his Trine, it would break him.

And that was one thing that Skywarp didn't want to watch happen.

Starscream didn't move as the voices came closer, and Skywarp could only feel a sense of helpless dread as the mechs drew closer, laughing and shoving each other in rowdy fashion.

But, to his astonishment, they walked right by Starscream without seeming to notice him.  Skywarp wasn't sure if he should feel relieved or not as he watched the Stunticons heading away from them.

He almost missed the quiet whine of a weapon activating.  It was only old instinct that caused him to whip around just in time to see a blaster shot rip by him, and a few seconds later the pained screams of the Stunticons reached his audials.

Skywarp whirled back around to see the graying out form of Motormaster laying on the floor, crumpled up in a heap, a massive hole in his back.  Judging by the energon pooling under the aft's front, Skywarp knew there had to be a matching sized hole in Motormaster's chest.

His jaw dropped as realization hit.

Starscream, you...

He turned his head around to see Starscream now standing just at the edge of the shadows, his optics now lit dimly.  He was watching the Stunticons' pain at the broken gestalt bond dispassionately, his wings still in the same neutral stance.  Then his optics fell on Motormaster's shell and Skywarp saw one of the coldest smiles he'd ever seen appear on his Trineleader's face.

"Wherever that Pit-spawned soul of yours is now, Skywarp," Starscream spoke now, very softly, "I hope you're appreciating what I just did for you and Thundercracker."

With that, Starscream turned and headed back towards the Seekers' wing, leaving a dumbfounded Seeker ghost and moaning Stunticons behind.

As Starscream disappeared around the corner, Skywarp finally gained enough presence of mind to shut his mouth.

It didn't stop the roiling in his mind, though.

Motormaster was dead.

Motormaster, the mech who had given the order to attack and then dealt what ended up being the killing blow to the black and purple Seeker, was dead, laying in a pool of his own energon with a hole in his back and chest.

And it was Starscream who'd dealt the kill shot.

Skywarp didn't know what to make of it.

He and TC had never been close to Starscream, mostly because of Starscream's own attitude and behavior.  Sure, he spent time with them, but only if he had nothing else "better" to do with his time.  And when he did decide to spend time with them, he never really talked much to them, saving any real conversation for his siblings whenever they happened to be at the same base.  Aside from battle, he'd kept his Trinemates at arms' length.

But on the other hand, Starscream had never once dropped them as Trine or even tried to replace them.  And he had had chances to do it, Skywarp knew.  More than once, he could have abandoned them during a battle, but he hadn't.  Skywarp had certainly given him more than enough cause to do it if he'd so desired.

But Starscream hadn't done that. Whatever his reasons, he'd never broken up the Trine.  From the orn they'd been put together as a fighting unit until the day of the teleporter's death, he'd stayed with them, fought with them, bunked with them...

And in the end, he'd avenged his Trinemate's murder.

It was almost beyond belief.

The Seeker ghost just shook his head.

Starscream had never made any sense to him, and now was no exception.

But in this case, he couldn't say he minded very much.

Looking back at Motormaster, and the by now barely conscious remaining Stunticons, he smirked nastily.

"Catch ya later, fraggers," he called out to them, before turning around and heading back towards the Seeker wing.

He decided he'd go watch Starscream break the news to TC, then he'd go pop in on Dirge and let him know what happened.

Maybe being dead didn't suck so much after all.