Transformers Fan Fiction ❯ Relic Keeper ❯ Chapter 1

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Starscream was blindfolded and being led through the Temple of Primus. He was a little scared, but Skyfire was with him, holding his hand and trembling slightly. The priests were curt and pushy and Starscream didn't like that. He squeezed Skyfire's hand reassuringly. He and Skyfire were both young sparklings, about 500 years old each, and had just been ordered to the Temple. Sparklings like him got called to the Temple every once in a while, for reasons that were never explained. Most of them came back with nothing and no memory of what had happened there. Starscream wondered if he was going to lose his memory. He didn't want to. He would like to know what was going on.

They suddenly walked through something that made Starscream's body tingle all over and he shuddered, feeling Skyfire do the same. There was a murmur of interest from the priests, but they kept walking. They finally stopped and Starscream heard a door open. They walked through and it closed behind them. The blindfold was suddenly removed and Starscream found himself in a plain looking room with all sorts of odd looking devices. They were all empty. Starscream didn't know how he knew that. He just knew. Then he looked at one and knew that it wasn't. It was pulsating and calling to him. He stepped forward curiously, but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at the priest who had stopped him and frowned slightly.

"Why are we here?" Skyfire asked quietly.

"We are here because Primus has chosen you," a priest said solemnly.

"Chosen us for what?"

"For one of you to be a Relic Keeper and the other his Trustmate."

"What's a Relic Keeper?" Starscream asked.

"Somebody very special who keeps a relic of Cybertron inside of himself and delegates the use of the powers it grants him."

"Okay. So, what now?"

"We must explain this to you and you are free to reject it or accept it," the priest said and another stepped forward.

"Starscream, you are the one chosen to be the Relic Keeper. You shall be granted great power if you choose to accept. This relic will in all likelihood be the one to decide which side of the future war shall win. You shall be vulnerable and susceptible to pain, emotionally and physically. You shall be marked as different and will be ostracized by many. You must be able to trust Skyfire with your life, should he choose to be your Trustmate. Do you accept these conditions?"

Starscream glanced at Skyfire and the bigger mech shrugged. "Will it hurt?"

The priests all looked at him strangely. "I'm not sure," one of them replied.

Starscream thought about it then nodded. "As long as Skyfire is my…whatever you called it."

"Skyfire, you are the one chosen to be Starscream's Trustmate. You will be his protector. His spark mate. You shall be like a bonded pair, but it shall be purely of deep friendship. When Starscream is in pain or trouble, you shall go primal, unable to speak or think beyond him. He will be able to control you, but he will be the only one. You must trust he won't use you. You must trust him as much as he trusts you. Maybe more. Do you accept these conditions?"

Skyfire glanced at Starscream and smiled. "He accepted, so I accept."

The relic suddenly levitated above the table and moved towards Starscream. The mech flinched as the thing opened up and a silver spark sized ball rose up. It moved between Starscream and Skyfire and linked them with tendrils of light. The ball shot towards Starscream's chest and went through the metal. Sparks flew and everything in their minds went supernova. The next thing they knew, they were both waking up in a berth, snuggled together. Starscream sat up and shuttered his optics. There was a note on the side table and he picked it up.

Relic Keeper,

You and your Trustmate are to stay in the Temple for one month while you learn to control your powers. Then you shall be put back into your old life. It is your decision whether or not you tell mechs of your powers. We suggest you shower and relax for today. Tomorrow we shall begin our work.

Starscream set the datapad down. Skyfire had read it over his shoulder and they both glanced at each other and shrugged. They got up and walked into the washroom, taking off their armor and setting it on a shelf. It was a double shower and they both sighed as the hot solvent rained down on them. They bathed in silence for a while then Skyfire looked at Starscream.

"Can you feel it, my little Star?"

"The bond?" Starscream asked. "Yes, my blazing Fire. I can feel your emotions. And if we stretched it, I believe I could hear your thoughts."

Skyfire nodded. "I want to hear your thoughts."

They played with their minds and finally figured out how to open them. They were friends. Close friends. And they didn't even flinch when their minds came together. They loved it. It made them even closer. They relaxed and got used to each other's minds.

"Sky?" Starscream whispered.

"Yes, Star?"

"We're never going to be the same again."

"Nope. Can you feel the power?"

"Yes. It courses through me. It feels untamable, unstable."

"You're strong enough to tame it."

"How do you feel, Fire?"

"Weird. I feel quite attached to you. Like you're nearly my whole world."

"Are you afraid?"

"A little," Skyfire admitted. "But I'm with you. And I'm safe with you. Always."

"We'll always be friends, right?" Starscream asked with a smile, already knowing the answer.

"Always, my little Star. No matter what."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Starscream left the medbay, limping. Megatron had taken his displeasure out on him. Again. They were in a ship, heading for Cybertron. The Autobots were already there and Megatron was angry. The neutral fliers had sent a message to the Autobots, claiming that they had found one of the hidden relics. It was the most powerful one on Cybertron. They just had to get it open. The Autobots were no doubt already in the city looking it over. Megatron wanted to gather his forces on Cybertron to storm the city. Starscream was less than pleased.

The years had been cruel to the once innocent sparkling. Megatron had blackmailed him into the Decepticons when he was a youngling, threatening to kill his best friends, and now Starscream was a mechling. He had endured abuse, in several forms, and it had worn away his love of the world. But there was one love he never would forget. It was the love of his spark mate. His Trustmate. Their friendship was a deep friendship, just like the priests had predicted. He knew that no matter what he'd done, Skyfire would always accept him. Love him. Care for him. He was looking forward to seeing him again.

They landed on Cybertron and the first chance Starscream got, he ran off to their secret place. He was there for an hour before he sensed him. He turned to the entrance, which looked like a wall from the outside, but it was really a hologram. Skyfire passed through it and smiled, his bottom lip quivering. They embraced, tears streaming down their faces. Skyfire kissed Starscream's face all over then they sat down, and the bigger mech pulled out two energon cubes. Starscream drank his down in a few gulps then settled back.

"Well, my Fire in the Sky, how are you?" Starscream asked affectionately.

"Happy that you're here, my little Star," Skyfire replied. "Though I don't understand why you're blocking the bond."

Starscream flushed and let down his walls. As soon as Skyfire felt Starscream's pain, wildness appeared in his optics. He snarled and knelt down to caress Starscream's ankle before taking the armor off. He began to repair the damage that Cyclonus had missed. He was infinitely gentle and soon the physical pain Starscream was feeling disappeared. The emotional pain stayed, though, and Skyfire sat down again then pulled his Relic Keeper into his lap. He kissed his forehead then rested his chin on the top of Starscream's head. Starscream was relaxed and soaked in the comfort from Skyfire, dwelling on the love that flowed over their bond.

"I love you, my little Star."

"I know. I wish things had turned out differently," Starscream sighed, offlining his optics.

"You could still join the Autobots. They're in our city."

"Optimus would never accept me. I'm too damaged."

"You are not. You're fine."

"Can you not feel how scarred I am?"

"I can. But you are mine. I don't care."

"Thanks, my Fire. I have missed you terribly. You are a soothing balm for my wounds."

"And you are the spice in my energon," Skyfire said with a laugh. "Every day I'm with you is interesting."

They sat there comfortably, taking in each other's company and talking about how their lives had been since they had last seen each other. Skyfire was a scientist for the neutrals, who were seriously considering turning Autobot. He had been researching several things and happily talked about them for an hour before asking Starscream about his life. Hesitantly, Starscream explained the abuse he'd been through and how much he wished he were an Autobot.

"Maybe I could talk to Optimus about it?" Skyfire said gently.

"If you really insist," Starscream replied.

"I do," Skyfire said sternly. "Even hearing about how much pain you're in makes me want to go primal. The urge is very strong."

Starscream's comm. link buzzed. "Starscream!" Megatron roared. "Get your aft back here!"

"Yes sir," Starscream growled and stood, turning his comm. link off. "See you later, Fire in the Sky."

"Soon, my little Star."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Optimus stared at Skyfire, unsure what to think. "So, you're saying he wants to defect?"

"No," Skyfire said solemnly. "I'm saying I'm making him defect. I'm sick of Megatron bullying him."

"You're…making him?" Optimus asked, confused.

"Yes. He's been my friend through all these years. Nothing will ever change that. I want him to be safe. He's not safe with Megatron and he never will be. So, I'm making him defect."

"Skyfire, you can't do that. It has to be his choice."

"I can do that."

"No, you can't."

A fierce look appeared in Skyfire's optics. "Watch me."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Starscream was leaning back against a ruined building, staring at the Prime. Optimus stared back, Red Alert beside him. Skyfire was to the left of Starscream, pressing a hand against his Relic Keeper's shoulder.

"Starscream's going to defect."

"Is that your decision, Starscream?"

Starscream smiled. "No. It's Skyfire's. But if that's what he wants for me then I have no qualms with it. He can be rather…forceful where I'm concerned."

"Skyfire, forceful?" Red Alert asked. "I doubt it."

"You don't know him very well. I've known him since before we learned to walk. He can be forceful. Especially with me."

"Starscream's not lying. When his safety's in jeopardy, I can get mean. I will get mean if he doesn't defect soon," Skyfire said with a nod.

"And what if I say I don't trust him?" Optimus asked, crossing his arms.

"Then I leave the base and Starscream leaves the Decepticons."

Optimus scrutinized them then lowered his arms. "Do you trust him to obey me and be a good mech?" he asked Skyfire.

"I wouldn't," Starscream said before his Trustmate could answer. "But I will listen to Skyfire. He's my friend, and you're not."

Optimus studied him again then spoke to Skyfire again. "He will listen to you?"

Skyfire nodded. "He'd better," he said, squeezing Starscream's shoulder, reminding his Relic Keeper of the power within him.

"I will, Skyfire," Starscream promised, his lips twitching with an almost smile.

"Then I will allow you to come to the Autobots. There will be restrictions, which will be relaxed when you prove you're trustworthy. Mind you, that will be a long time from now," Optimus said.

Skyfire beamed, embracing his friend. He kissed his cheek happily and set him down. Starscream noticed Red Alert whispering to Optimus and he snorted.

"You can search me now, if that's what you're trying to ask him," the Seeker said, arching an optic ridge.

Red Alert jumped. "You…don't mind?"

"Of course I mind, but it's either going to be here, where it's private, or in the base, where it's not. I'd prefer you search me here. I will warn you that you will find three knives and two grenades hidden on my person. I'm going to see if you can find them all."

Red Alert stood there quite still for a minute, then walked over and began searching the mech. Red Alert was thorough, and found almost everything. He just couldn't find that last knife, even after searching him three times. He finally stood up and huffed.

"Where is it?" he demanded.

"On his wrist," Skyfire said, reaching over and plucking it off. "But he keeps this one. I want him to have something to defend himself with. Especially with Hot Shot around."

"Granted," Optimus said.

"What mech is stupid enough to keep a blade that close to major energon lines?" Red Alert asked, grabbing Starscream's arm and stripping of the armor to reveal his pulsating lines. There were several small scars on the tubing.

"Nobody ever finds it. Not even Megatron," Starscream said with a shrug.

Red Alert frowned and turned to talk to Optimus in a low voice. Skyfire slid the blade back into the wrist sheath and leaned over.

"They don't know about the most dangerous weapon, my little Star," he whispered quietly into the Seeker's audio receptor.

Starscream smiled and whispered back. "No, my Fire in the Sky, they don't. And we shan't tell them."

"What are you two whispering about?" Red Alert asked harshly.

"Nothing that concerns you," the red and white Decepticon said.

"Really? Where's the other weapon?"

"That is none of your concern. It isn't a weapon you can take anyways," Skyfire said, straightening up and crossing his arms.

"Give it up," Red Alert snapped, striding forward and grabbing Starscream's arm tightly.

Skyfire slammed his hands onto Red Alert's shoulders and physically picked him up. The medic yelled, looking shocked. Optimus actually took a step back, optics wide.

"Leave it alone," Skyfire said slowly, menacingly.

Red Alert nodded and was unceremoniously dropped. He scrambled over to Optimus and stayed half a step behind him, both of them staring at Skyfire.

"Forceful, eh?" Optimus asked, his voice steady.

"Forceful," Starscream said then quickly lied. "And he's right. It isn't a weapon you can take. It's my hand to hand combat skills. I don't get to use it much anymore, but I keep my skills honed as well as I can."

"Oh really? What hand to hand?"

"Metallikato and circuit-su," came the reply.

"Really? You had a Master who knew metallikato?" Optimus asked. When Starscream nodded, the Autobot leader continued. "If I asked you to, could you teach me?"

Starscream nodded. "Sure, but it's grueling."

Optimus nodded. "So, I've heard."

"Not to rush you, but can we get out of here? Megatron's going to flip when he realizes I've defected."

"We're leaving," Skyfire said immediately.

"That's my call Skyfire," Optimus said sternly.

"Then call it," the large mech growled.

"Skyfire, what is wrong with you?" Red Alert demanded.

"I'm just—" Skyfire started then Starscream stomped his foot.

"Skyfire," he said slowly through gritted denta. "Stop being overprotective. Now."

Skyfire immediately snapped his mouth shut and relaxed, rubbing the back of his neck. "Sorry, my little Star. You know how I get carried away sometimes."

"Optimus is a wonderful leader from what I've heard. You have no reason to be acting like this in front of these two. You should be worried about Hot Shot and the other Autobots."

"And…Warp and TC," Skyfire said, looking a little scared.

Starscream paled. "Th-they're here?"

"Yes, and Thundercracker loathes you."

"What…what about Skywarp?"

"He's just sad when he thinks of you. I'm sure he'll love to be around you once you tell us all why you went rogue."

Starscream looked down. It was the one thing he hadn't told anybot. How could he tell his best friend and Trustmate that he was a part of the reason he left? Megatron had given to him an ultimatum: join the Decepticons or he would kill Skyfire, Skywarp, and Thundercracker. While he watched. So, without a chance to say goodbye to any of them, he left them all. Only Skyfire had stayed his friend, and that was because he felt the regret, the pain, the sheer hatred of him becoming a Decepticon. And if he knew the reason why, he'd probably hate Starscream, too.

"I never said I'd tell everybody that, Skyfire," he said quietly.

"But you will tell us. I mean, we're your closest friends," Skyfire said, a warning tone in his voice.

"Not anymore, they're not, and you…you'll just hate me."

"Starscream, I love you. You're my friend, my everything. Why would I hate you?" he asked tenderly.

"Optimus has to know, but you don't."

Rage suddenly filled his dearest friend's optics. "I have helped you and waited for you to come back! I know how much pain you were in when you left for the Decepticons! I repair you every time you come close enough for me to because that damnable monster won't leave you alone! Now I convince you to join the Autobots and you won't even tell me why you left in the first place?! I thought you were my Re-"

"Skyfire!" Starscream roared, his mind shooting out a command to shut up or else.

Skyfire jumped, his rage gone. "What?" he asked then his optics widened as he realized what he almost said. "Oh…heheheheh. Sorry. I should watch my temper. It's just, come on Starscream. Please?"

"No."

Skyfire suddenly turned away and crossed his arms then…silence. Starscream looked over at Red Alert and Optimus. The Prime was looking from Skyfire to Starscream then back again. Red Alert was presumably doing the same. After a few minutes, Optimus cleared his throat.

"Well, I believe we should be heading back. Come along."

The trip back was silent. At least it was until they got to the base where the Autobots were staying. Everybody immediately started whispering loudly about Starscream and Skyfire did nothing to help. A flash of blue and purple caught the Seeker's optics and he stared at Skywarp and Thundercracker. They stared back. Skywarp hesitantly waved at him, and Starscream waved back. The blue Seeker looked murderous and snatched Skywarp's hand out of the air, dragging him around a corner and out of sight. That hurt. A lot. Pain flooded Starscream's spark, and it took all he had to keep his hand at his side and not put it up to his chest. He saw Skyfire look at him—the bond was still open—and the larger flier relaxed a little. Optimus stopped outside a door and gestured Starscream in.

"Red Alert, you may return to the medbay. Skyfire, please wait out here. Starscream, please come in."

Starscream walked in and sat in a chair in front of a desk. The door swished shut and Optimus took the seat on the other side of the desk. The mech placed his hands together, put his elbows on the desk, leaned forward to set his chin on the top of his hands, and stared at Starscream. The Seeker sat there for a moment, looking into the kind optics, then looked down and hugged himself.

"He threatened to kill them, Optimus. All three of them."

"Who?" Optimus asked slowly.

"'Fire, Warp, and TC."

"You were blackmailed?"

"Yes. I couldn't lose them. Even if I couldn't see them, knowing they were alive and safe was important. I love all three of them dearly. Even if none of them will talk to me right now."

Optimus looked thoughtful. "You're telling the truth, that much is clear."

"You know that?" Starscream asked, looking up at the mech.

"You're crying. In my experience, Decepticons don't cry. But you're different, and you always have been."

Starscream reached up and touched his cheek. His hand came back wet. He blushed and hugged himself again.

"Why don't you want to tell your friends?"

"TC is definitely not my friend anymore. Skywarp might be if I play my cards right. Skyfire's pretty mad at me, so I don't expect much from him right now. Besides, they'll just think I'm stupid and hate me."

"Well you and Skyfire will be able to work out your differences. You two are rooming together."

"Okay."

"You may go."

Starscream walked out of the office and nearly ran right into Skyfire, who was pressed up against the door. His face was blank. He grabbed Starscream and barreled down the hall. He went through a maze of hallways then stopped at the last door on the left. Opening it, Skyfire threw Starscream in and shut the door behind them, locking it.

"So, um, that berth over there is mine?" he asked in a small voice.

"Starscream, do you really think Megatron could hurt me?" Skyfire asked incredulously. "I mean, I'm so much stronger than every mech I know, including Optimus. I have at least some control over the forces that you do. I can make liquid metal from Cybertron's surface and form any weapon I want to. Do you see how stupid your paranoia was?"

"What about for TC and Warp?" Starscream asked. "They don't have any of that, and they're Seekers, the physically smallest of the fliers. Megatron would have slaughtered them."

"We could have asked the Autobots for protection!" Skyfire exclaimed.

Starscream stared at him and began to cry. "Don't you think I know that?" he sobbed. "I've thought about it more than anything in this blasted war! But I didn't think of it then. All I knew was everything I cared about could be taken from me. It was better to lose you then to have you all dead!"

Skyfire flinched at the torrent of pain that flowed from Starscream's side of the bond. He quickly guided the distraught Seeker to his large berth and pulled him into his lap. Skyfire stroked his wings comfortingly, cooing at him, while simultaneously sending love and affection through the bond. Starscream slowly calmed down then relaxed. His breathing evened out and he yawned.

"You've had a tiring day," Skyfire said, tucking Starscream's wings in snugly. He tucked his own in and they cuddled together on the berth.

"Don't you have stuff to do?" Starscream asked blearily.

"Yes, but you're much more important than trying to get that stupid empty relic open."

"Empty? How do you know it's empty?"

"Two reasons. One, I sense it, just like I've been able to since that day in the temple. And two," Skyfire said then paused for a moment. "It's our relic."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thundercracker was glaring daggers at him while physically holding Skywarp to prevent him from going to say hi. Starscream ignored the spike of pain from seeing his former friend acting so mean. He knew that Thundercracker meant for it to hurt. That just added to the pain. Skyfire walked over and handed him an energon cube. He sipped it and found that his Trustmate had sprinkled rust in it, just like he used to. Of course he would. Their relationship hadn't changed.

"Let go of me, Thundercracker!" Skywarp whined loudly.

"No! You're not even talking to that traitor!" the blue Seeker spat. "We're leaving."

"But we haven't even had any energon!"

"I'll come get it once you're safely away from him. I don't want him to break your spark again."

Thundercracker had looked directly at Starscream when he said that. Starscream stared back, letting his face morph into one of sorrow. He looked down as they began to head out. As he passed, the blue flier flipped Starscream's energon over, splashing the nearly full cube down his front. Starscream cried out and stood up, and the Autobots and neutrals started laughing hard. Skyfire's gentle demeanor disappeared and he was over behind the two in a second, grabbing Thundercracker's wing roughly and spinning him around.

"You forgot your energon!" he snapped and dumped his own full cube over the shocked Seeker's head.

Starscream shuttered his optics. He got no joy from that, but he did feel like Thundercracker deserved it. The blue flier was sputtering and Skywarp started laughing, slipping from his hand and dodging as he was lunged at. Skyfire blocked Thundercracker's path so Skywarp had time to get to Starscream. The red flier was standing in a puddle of energon while the sticky substance started to dry on his frame. Skywarp ignored it and grabbed his hands, holding them close to his spark.

"I missed you, Starscream," he said, sadness appearing in his optics.

"I missed you, too. More than you'll ever know," Starscream said, trying to pull his hands out of the purple Seeker's.

Skywarp leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "Promise me you'll never go back."

"I promise," Starscream said.

"Like your promises mean anything. You promised we'd be a Trine," Thundercracker growled, tearing their hands apart.

"Just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it won't, TC," Skywarp said, jerking his hands out of the blue Seeker's.

"I wouldn't be his Trinemate if he was the last available Seeker on the planet."

Starscream's hurt got the best of him. "Yeah? Well look who's talking. You're so bitter, you couldn't get a Trinemate if you paid them. And your sky dancing needs work. You always were awkward in the air, you know. What kind of a flier is that?"

Thundercracker's optics widened and a misting of tears appeared. He grabbed Skywarp and dragged him out, no doubt heading for the washroom. Starscream stomped his foot, feeling guilty and angry and hurt. He stormed out of the rec room and wound his way to the washroom. He waited outside until Thundercracker came out, Skywarp behind him, rubbing him down with towels. He paused to throw the towels in the chute. He looked at Starscream and frowned as Thundercracker continued down the hall.

"Why'd you have to point out his flying? You know how sensitive he is about it."

"He's treating me like a monster."

"In his optics, you are one. You abandoned us. You didn't tell us anything when you left. You didn't even invite us to go with you."

"That's because Megatron didn't want you." Starscream hesitated then added in a whisper, "That's why he threatened you. And Warp? I did it because I love you. And TC. And I know he won't believe me."

"Believe what?" Thundercracker asked as he appeared, grabbing Skywarp's arm.

"Wait a minute," Skywarp said, staring hard at Starscream. "Are you saying you were blackmailed?"

Starscream didn't answer as Skyfire hurried up behind him. Thundercracker snorted.

"Don't believe him, Warp. He's just lying. That's what Decepticons do."

The purple Seeker stared at the red as he was dragged away. Skyfire held him close then led him into the washroom and turned on nice hot solvent shower. Starscream washed away the energon, scrubbing to get it all. What he wouldn't give for a private shower so he could wash his circuitry.

"Why can't we make it a private shower?" Skyfire asked, flicking his hand at the door. There was a click. "All solved."

Starscream giggled and took off his armor, sighing as the solvent began cleaning his circuitry. Skyfire took some soap and backed his Relic Keeper out of the spray then soaped him up. Starscream wiggled; circuitry was very sensitive and, though Skyfire was much too gentle to hurt him, he did tickle him. He was dragged forward again and Skyfire was careful to wash every little bit of soap out. Starscream proceeded to wash and rinse his Trustmate then they quickly did the Cybertronian equivalent of dressing. They turned off the shower and dried off.

"What is that noise?" Starscream asked.

"Oh! I forgot to unlock the door!" Skyfire laughed and twitched his hand. Hot Shot fell into the room.

"Ouch!" he gasped.

"Got it!" Red Alert said. "Boy that button must stick something fierce."

"It only sticks every once in a while," Skyfire said, mirth in his voice.

"What's your problem? Didn't you two hear us?" Hot Shot demanded.

"The door's pretty thick. We couldn't hear you over the solvent."

"That's true," a mech Starscream had never seen before said. ~Wheeljack~ Skyfire said over the bond. The mech continued. "Still, Skyfire, you should have known not to press the button without telling anybody. You could have been stuck in here for hours."

"I didn't think of that. I'm sorry." Skyfire was really trying not to laugh.

"You're the one who's spent the most time trying to fix it!" Wheeljack exclaimed.

"Did you try washing out the wires?" Starscream asked; he had moved to stand beside Red Alert.

"Yes, yes," Skyfire sighed. "I've tried everything."

"Did you try rerouting the power to different sectors in order to find the burned-out wire?"

"Ye-No. I actually haven't tried that," Skyfire said, walking over to peer into the box.

"Flush it out with electricity. Either give it too much, or try the different sectors thing. The bad wire should put out sparks," Starscream said. "I'd bet you anything it's the purple one in the back. It's hanging too low, and it looks like the casing's split open."

With that, Starscream turned and walked away, ignoring the stares after him. He wasn't a scientific mech. He really wasn't. He was an artist, a writer, a singer, a sky dancer. The only reason he knew about science was because Skyfire was a logical, scientific mech. When they had been in school, he'd loved the classes Starscream hated, and vice versa. They balanced each other out quite nicely. With their combined passions and knowledge, they had soared to the top of their classes. They graduated early from their required school and moved on to University. They had finished that with flying colors, too. They each had several advanced degrees, but all in different fields. Not that degrees amounted to much in this world now.

Starscream sat down at the table in the rec room. He had been there for five minutes when a hand softly traced the top edge of his wing.

"Hey, my blazing Fire. Did it work?"

"Sorry, Screamer. I'm not you're blazing Fire. Nice nickname though."

"Skywarp!" Starscream gasped. "Where's Thundercracker?"

"Taking a nap. I managed to sneak out," Skywarp said, sitting down across from the red flier with a cube of energon. He suddenly turned serious and leaned forward. "Tell me about this blackmail and I'll decide if I believe you or not."

Starscream hesitated for a second then whispered what had happened. He told how Megatron had pinned him down and ordered him to join. He told him how he'd been shot and torn into and how Megatron had finally threatened him.

"Then you guys came looking for me. He got this awful smile on his face and said, 'How about this, my pet. You join the Decepticons as my air commander, and I leave those three pathetic creatures alone. If you don't, you can join the Autobots without them.'"

"Man, Starscream," Skywarp whispered. He reached over and swept a tear off Starscream's cheek. "I forgot how sensitive you are." There was a pause. "I believe you, Starscream. I'll start working on TC."

"What?"

"I'll start working on TC. Get him to relax around you."

"It won't work. If I remember right, TC really knows how to hold a grudge."

"Can't hurt to try. Anyways, tell me about your life."

So Starscream did. He told him of pain and suffering and misery and war. Then Skywarp told him of the daily life they had settled into. Starscream found himself enjoying Skywarp's presence, just like he used to. Sure, the mech was hyper and bubbly and talked loud and fast and a lot, but he was still quite pleasant to be around. They were laughing over a joke when Starscream's wing was grabbed harshly, hard enough that the sensitive metal began to crush sensitive wires. Starscream gasped and began cringing downward, trying to get away from the cripplingly painful sensation.

"TC, let him go!" Skywarp cried out, grabbing the blue Seeker's wrist.

"Why should I? Did he let me go?"

"No!"

"Then why should I let him go?"

"Does that mean you never let me go before?" Starscream ground out.

Thundercracker's jaw dropped, but before he could reply, he was picked up and hurled across the room into the wall. Every mech in the room had their mouths open in utter disbelief. Wheeljack stood, but couldn't bring himself to approach Skyfire, who looked absolutely murderous. Starscream could see the primal urge swirling in his Trustmate's optics. He was fighting it hard, but Starscream was in a lot of pain. Wings were very sensitive, and even a slight bend in the metal could cause pain. Starscream had four deep imprints on the front of his wing and an even deeper one on the back. It was paralyzing, but Starscream fought it off and stood, walking over to Skyfire.

"Fire, it's okay. Relax. Calm down. Now."

Bit by bit Skyfire relaxed, the wildness in his optics the only thing that stayed. Thundercracker's wing was worse than Starscream's. It was bent. Skywarp helped him up, looking fearfully over at Skyfire.

"We need to get to Red," he said, swallowing hard. "Can we get by?"

"I'm not going to say yes. He might snap again," Starscream answered honestly. "Let us go first. He'll want to fix me himself." Starscream was suddenly scooped up into Skyfire's arms. "See ya, Warp."

"Yeah, see ya," Skywarp said with a wave.

As Skyfire carried him out, the red Seeker heard Thundercracker's pain-laced question.

"He was in the lab when I passed it. How did he know what I was doing to Starscream?"

Starscream was set down on Skyfire's berth, then the mech disappeared, locking the door behind him. He returned with tools and wires and he set them beside Starscream before carefully popping off the metal on the front and back of Starscream's injured wing. The patient lay back as the sudden medic easily manipulated the metal back into shape. Then he turned Starscream to where he could easily reach the damaged wires and began to work. A half hour later, he placed the armor back on and smiled at Starscream, all of the primal wildness gone.

"There you go. All better."

"Skyfire, you hurled TC into a wall."

"Did you not feel how intensely painful that was?" Skyfire asked incredulously. "Can you really blame me, Starscream? I mean, really?"

Starscream sighed. "No. No, I can't. I know how hard it is for you to be what you are. Just try to control yourself around TC and Warp, okay? I still love them. To me, they're still my friends."

"I'm sorry, Starscream." He paused. "I owe him an apology, too. Let's go."

They walked to the medbay where a strangled yell told them that Red Alert was still trying to fix Thundercracker. Skyfire walked in, Starscream following. The latter immediately winced at the look of the wires. Thundercracker was crying he was in so much pain. He looked at Skyfire and shrank back.

"Go away," he hiccupped.

"No. Red, let me fix this. You go grab some energon," Skyfire said firmly.

Red Alert looked surprised. "That sounds…nice actually. I think I'll take you up on that offer. Just don't hurt my patient anymore."

He walked out and the four fliers were suddenly in an uncomfortable silence. Skyfire finally moved first and walked over and continued where Red Alert had left off. Thundercracker actually relaxed a little and wiped his cheeks.

"Fliers just know how to repair wings better," he said softly.

"Of course they do," Skyfire said matter-of-factly. "They know how it feels. As good as Red Alert is, he doesn't understand how much it can hurt to have your wings damaged." His voice suddenly grew hard. "And, though I'm sorry that I damaged your wing this badly, a flier should know better than to damage another's wings. Isn't that right, TC?"

Thundercracker winced and looked down. "I suppose so. I just…he's such a jerk!"

"I'm sorry that I left, TC. I really am. I was blackmailed, just like Skywarp said earlier. I'm sorry. Please forgive me?" Starscream said quickly, getting down on his knees; it was a very familiar position.

All three of the other fliers stared at him. Thundercracker's face was the most surprised out of all of them.

"You never beg. You're too…you to beg," he said softly, his expression changing into one of hesitation.

Starscream crawled his way closer to Thundercracker, placing his hands on the blue knees. He looked up, his optics misting; it was familiar too, but this time, Starscream hardly minded at all. The red Seeker stared up at him pleadingly.

"You have changed, Starscream. You don't have as much of that damnable pride."

"Nah, I do. It's just been broken," Starscream said with a soft smile.

Thundercracker took his head in his hands, wincing as he moved. "Well, it's better to be on Skyfire's good side," he said softly, stroking Starscream's cheek.

"Does that mean you forgive me?"

"Yes, Screamer, I forgive you."

Starscream sobbed happily and slipped up onto the table, nuzzling into the blue Seeker's side. Thundercracker was surprised again, but wrapped his arm snugly around the crying mech. They stayed silent for a while then the peace was interrupted by a sharp cry from the wounded flier. Starscream sat up and stared at Skyfire. He looked frustrated.

~Starscream! I need a little extra power here! Can you help me?~

The fact that Skyfire had spoken over the bond made Starscream worried. The red Seeker got up and strode over to the wing. He peered in between the wires and noticed one of the support structures was bent at an odd, harsh angle. He grimaced. That would be painful if it had to heal at normal rates. But he could speed it up a bit.

"Skywarp, go stand on the other side of Thundercracker, right where I was and hold his hand. TC, squeeze his hand. This might hurt."

Starscream waited until the two had obeyed him then gripped the bar. He took a deep breath, focused, and the power within him blasted forward, too long held at bay. The entire support structure healed so fast that Thundercracker yowled at the intensity of it. Starscream had to pry himself off of the bar for the power flow to cease. Thundercracker was literally glowing as Skyfire placed the metal back onto the wing.

"Whoa! What did you do?" he asked. "I feel great!"

"I guess it looked worse than it was," Skyfire said, nodding. "And I gave you a dose of painkiller."

"Fastest working painkiller I've ever felt," the blue one said happily.

The purple one looked suspicious. "TC, what kind of pain killer would make you literally light up?"

"What?" Thundercracker looked down and yelled, leaping up. "What the frag?! Was it radioactive or something?!"

"Yes?" Skyfire said nervously, inching over to stand between the blue and purple Seekers and the red.

"Starscream?" Thundercracker said, starting to sound angry. "What did you do? Don't lie to me."

"I just fixed you, TC. That's all I did. You said you feel great," Starscream said in a small voice.

"How did you fix me? What did you do?"

Starscream stayed silent. Thundercracker's face got red, and he leaped up, grabbing Skywarp and heading for the door. Starscream cried out. Flinging his arm forward, the door snapped shut right in the blue Seeker's face. The two previously retreating figures spun around, staring a little fearfully at him. Starscream approached and Thundercracker stepped in front of Skywarp, as if to protect him.

"This is a onetime offer, TC. If you two come to our room tonight, I will tell you the big secret you used to ask about. But it has to be tonight. Not tomorrow, not next week. Tonight. Take it or leave it."

Starscream twitched his hand and the door opened behind them. They disappeared through it. Starscream hoped they came, and he hoped they didn't.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Starscream was pacing back and forth across the room. They hadn't shown up and the night was nearly over. Skyfire finally pulled him close, tucked in his wings, and snuggled him down on the berth.
They were almost asleep when there was a knock at the door. Starscream perked up, but Skyfire held him down. When he had stilled, the white flier got up and opened the door. Two figures came in, and Starscream sat up. He could barely see them. Skyfire walked over to the berth and slid back on it without turning on the lights.

"No lights?" Skywarp asked.

Starscream swallowed and cupped his hand out in front of him. Light flooded the room from a floating ball in his palm. Once their optics got used to the light, Skywarp and Thundercracker stared at the ball. Skywarp hesitantly walked forward and eased his hand into the light. It wrapped around his hand and he sighed and began playing with it. Thundercracker poked it.

"What is this, some kind of science experiment?" he asked.

"No," Starscream said softly. "It's a manifestation of energy from the core of my being."

"I wanna do that! How do you do that?" Skywarp exclaimed.

"Skyfire and I are the only two left alive that can do it."

"Why? How?" Thundercracker demanded. "And don't lie. We came because we want the truth, Starscream."

"You probably won't believe me, but here's the truth. I'm the last Relic Keeper left alive. And Skyfire is my Trustmate."

They stared at him. "Relic Keeper?" Thundercracker asked. "You a Relic Keeper?"

Starscream suddenly felt the urge to prove it. He leaped out of the berth and stomped his foot. Suddenly they were all falling. Even Skyfire yelped before they all caught themselves and activated their thrusters. They were high above Cybertron.

"Hey, this doesn't look like the Cybertron around the base," Thundercracker said. "Where are we?"

"We're...above the old Primus University," Skyfire said, amazement in his voice.

"Wait a minute," Skywarp said. "How in the world are we there? That's halfway across Cybertron!"

"Not anymore," Skyfire said, shooting down and landing easily. "My little Star, you're much more powerful than the last time we checked."

Starscream landed beside him. "I honestly didn't know we'd make it this far."

"What did you do?" Thundercracker asked, lighting down with Skywarp.

"You know how Skywarp can warp? I just did a big one. Really big," Starscream said, pressing his hand on the keypad. There was a series of beeps and the door that even Megatron hadn't been able to force open opened. "Care to come in?" the red Seeker asked.

Starscream and Skyfire led them around, showing them different sections of the library. It used to be their favorite spot in the university. And, they discovered, it still was. They poured over old datapads, while directing Skywarp and Thundercracker to datapads of their choice. Thundercracker came back to them quickly.

"I can't get through the door. Besides, it says 'Restricted' on it."

"Oh, that's because it was only for upper level students," Starscream said then went and unlocked the door. He led Thundercracker to the top shelves where he pulled datapads on Relic Keepers. "Is it because I'm one? Or do you still need more proof?"

"I'm leaning towards the first one," Thundercracker replied, walking back into the other room with Starscream.

They all began reading their selections. After about half an hour, Starscream looked up and met Skyfire's optics.

~Should I do it, my Fire in the Sky?~

~Most assuredly, my little Star.~

Starscream sent out a burst of power, releasing the gravity. The datapads on the shelves were magnetized and the shelves went from ceiling to floor, so they were safe. All four fliers and their multiple datapads began to float. Starscream and Skyfire waited. Skywarp looked up first, turned to Starscream, and began to laugh silently. He silently activated his thrusters and lightly pushed Thundercracker. The blue Seeker didn't look up until he hit the wall. One startled yell later, Starscream was being glared at.

"A little warning next time?" the angry flier asked.

"Sorry, TC," Starscream said. "Fire and I used to study while floating around our room. Once when we had a visitor, I accidentally gravetized myself instead of turning on the gravity. The look on the professor's face was priceless. I told him Skyfire was working on an anti-gravity device. That was back when you were in the applied mechanical sciences, right?"

"Yes. And because of your mistake, I had to abandon my real project and quickly put together a new anti-gravity device to make your story plausible. I still don't know why he never questioned the fact that you were walking around when everything else was floating."

They both laughed at that. Starscream did a slow flip. "I've missed our time here. It was amazing. Peaceful. Fun."

"Once Primus starts handing out sparks again, maybe we can head up some departments," Skyfire said softly. "Start letting knowledge flow again."

"Maybe," Starscream said then they lapsed into silence, reading again.

They spent three days in the library, getting energon from a still working natural energon line. Then they got a call from Optimus.

"Skyfire?"

"Optimus! Uh, what's going on?"

"We've got our signal up as high as possible. Where are you and are you and Starscream with Thundercracker and Skywarp?"

"Yes, Prime. We are. And we're just flying around. We'll head back now."

"Good. Prime out."

They gathered a few datapads for the trip then they all grabbed tight to Starscream. With a pop, they were in the air again a few miles from base. They flew in, Thundercracker at Starscream's right, Skywarp at his left, and Skyfire taking up the rear. Landing easily, they walked inside only to be led directly to Prime's office. They all stood there awkwardly. Optimus watched them intently.

"When did you all become friends again?" he finally asked.

"That's why we went on this flight," Thundercracker said quickly. "We just got a little carried away. We didn't know it would bother you so much. We've taken long flights before."

"Yes, but you've always answered within a reasonable signal strength. We had it up as high as it would go before you could be reached. Where were you?"

"At a library," Starscream answered; it wasn't the whole truth, but it was enough.

Optimus' posture relaxed. "Library? Well, those are designed to block communication except for specific wired sources. I suppose that you brought energon?"

They all nodded then Skyfire said, "But we were starting to run out, so we would have headed back anyways."

"Okay then. Just try to check in with us when you do that sort of thing in the future."

"Yes, sir," they all chorused.

They left the office and went to get energon, sitting at the same table, and talking animatedly about everything they'd been reading. It was fun and peaceful. Everybody was staring at them, but they ignored it. Several days later, the peace was shattered by gunfire. Every available bot raced out, the neutrals excited to try their guns and the Autobots ready for some action after so long without any.

Starscream flew out with his wing brothers, Skyfire behind them. The red Seeker and his Trustmate stayed high above the battlefield, watching the blue and purple Seekers fight. They were very skilled, Starscream noticed. He could hardly believe those fierce fighters were his kind, gentle companions. He felt like something was boring into him, so he looked down and saw Megatron staring up at him. He could feel the smirk on the tyrant's face and he shot down.

"No!" he cried.

He watched in horror as Megatron grabbed Skywarp and shot him through the belly. Energon and circuitry exploded out of his back. Starscream was still three thousand feet off the ground when he shut down. Pain tore through his spark and he dropped from the sky. It was only Skyfire's quickness that saved him. He wailed in agony, kicking away and crawling over to the shuddering purple flier. Megatron held Thundercracker by his throat. The blue flier was crying and scrambling at the large hands.

"Skyfire kill him!" Starscream shrieked, grabbing the bleeding body and holding it close.

Skyfire suddenly slammed his fist into Megatron's face, snarling viciously. The Relic Keeper saw the Primal urge so close that it had to have been painful to hold back. Starscream cradled Skywarp gingerly, tears slipping out of his optics. He heard the sounds of an increasingly rough struggle, but all he cared about was Skywarp. And Thundercracker agreed with him. Suddenly he smelled his Trustmate and arms wrapped around him and the blue Seeker.

"Skywarp, I need you to warp us to that library," Skyfire said loudly.

~Come on my little Star. Please warp us to the Temple. And make it purple.~

Starscream moaned low in his throat and had enough mind to force Skywarp to nod. He opened up a warp gate, the bubble swelling to encompass them all then there was the sensation of movement. They landed in the main room. Starscream stood shakily and began to glow, along with Skyfire to light the dark room.

"Starscream, why are we here?" Thundercracker asked. "Primus never listens to me."

"Well, he might listen to me," Starscream said. "Carry 'Warp, 'Fire."

"My sweetest little Star," he moaned. "I've never felt such pain before. You have to insulate them! I can't stay sane much longer!"

"TC, here!" Starscream ordered immediately.

He pressed his hands against the blue flier's throat and put slight pressure then released it. He watched as a thick film spread across Thundercracker's body. The blue flier shivered hard, a whole-body shudder, until the film had covered him. Then it disappeared.

"That felt weird. What did you do?"

Starscream knelt and carefully did the same to Skywarp, saying softly, "We call it insulation. It's sort of like a pheromone. When Skyfire goes Primal, he tells friend from foe by scent. He'll rush anyone he doesn't know by sight and scent, and immediately sniff them. If you've been marked by me or another Relic Keeper, you're safe, if not…"

There was a snort and Thundercracker was physically picked up. Skyfire brought him forward and sniffed his neck deeply. He did so twice then snorted again and set him down. He then crouched beside Skywarp and sniffed him thoroughly. Another snort then he wrapped his arms around Starscream.

"Skyfire, I need you to carry Skywarp," Starscream said, pointing at the purple Seeker. The large flier grunted and moved to do as he was commanded. "Do it gently!" the red Seeker added.

He complied and Starscream began leading his friends and Trustmate through the temple, hurrying through the halls. They went deep inside and Starscream stopped at a point. He looked back at Thundercracker desperately then prayed out loud.

"Primus please listen! I beg you to let them in! Please choose them. They're all I have. I know that I became a Decepticon, and I've regretted it since the moment I was forced to say yes. Please, all I can ask is that you do this."

"Starscream?" Skywarp asked weakly. "Why do you say that?"

"Because if you can't get in, you will die," Starscream said brokenly then stepped forward.

He took three steps and turned around, gesturing for Skyfire to step through. He cringed as his Trustmate did so, then nearly collapsed when he walked right through it. Thundercracker followed and shuddered as he walked through.

"What is that?"

"It's called the 'Veil of Primus.' Only worthy priests and chosen ones can get through. He chose you. He really chose you." Starscream was weak with relief.

They half ran through the halls. The last door on the left flew open when they were nearing it and when they were standing in the middle of the room, Starscream turned and grasped Skywarp's hand. The purple speaker onlined his optics; he looked so weak.

"My dearest one," Starscream crooned. "Which one sings to your spark?"

Skywarp listened for a second then pointed and Skyfire moved of his own accord, following the purple one's instructions. They stopped in front of a table and he was pointing at a star shaped container. Starscream gently picked it up and faced Skywarp directly.

"Skywarp, what I'm about to offer, you may freely reject or accept. You will be given power and abilities beyond your wildest dreams. You will be considered strange and might never have true friends besides Skyfire and myself. You're spark will ache with passions and you shall become like me, a mech with wild imaginings. Your passions will be fierce and free. Do you accept?"

"Screamer, you know I'm already strange. I accept."

"Thundercracker, you are the one chosen to be Skywarp's Trustmate. You will be his protector. His spark mate. You shall be like a bonded pair, but it shall be purely of deep friendship. When Skywarp is in pain or trouble, you shall go Primal, unable to speak or think beyond him. He will be able to control you, but he will be the only one. You must trust he won't use you. You must trust him as much as he trusts you. Maybe more. Do you accept these conditions?"

"Forever and always will I be by his side. I accept."

The relic hovered between them and the tendrils of light stretched out to touch them. The ball shot at Skywarp and Starscream watched as every wound on his body was healed. He was whole again. When Thundercracker collapsed, Starscream warped all four of them to the room that he and Skyfire woke up in all those years ago. He instructed his Trustmate to set Skywarp in the berth, then Thundercracker as well. Then, after he'd written a little note for the newest chosen ones, Starscream got to work on the lighting system. Soon it was working again and the whole temple filled with light, though Starscream kept the windows covered to keep the Decepticons from trying to break in. Not that they could. They'd tried and given up after six months with no progress made in breaking in. Besides, even if they could get in, they'd never get what they wanted, which was behind the Veil of Primus.

Once the lights were up, Starscream got to work on the natural energon lines. Those were fixed easily enough by a thorough flushing of power through him, cracking open the dried energon to let it be flushed out. He'd cleaned up a little then walked with his primal Trustmate to the library and began rereading the datapads about being a Relic Keeper and Trustmate. He was interrupted a few hours later by a soft noise. There were Thundercracker and Skywarp, looking around the room.

"Wow. Lots of datapads," Skywarp said, walking over to him.

"Yep," Starscream said.

"You said something about training?" Thundercracker said, holding up the note he had let them.

"Yes. It is intense and you'll be discovering things about yourself far beyond what we'll teach you," Starscream said.

"Do we get to learn how to make that little ball of light?" Skywarp asked excitedly.

"You get to learn how to crack open Cybertron and use its metal to make anything you want."

"Yes, but what about the ball of light?"

Starscream laughed softly and held out his hand. Light flared above his palm.

"Hold out your hand. I'm only going to do this once, so be sure to pay attention to how it moves, feels, and acts."

When Skywarp complied, the red Seeker placed the ball into his hand. It floated above the surface of his palm. Skywarp studied it. Really studied it. He slowly placed his other hand on top of the ball then moved his hands apart. The ball stretched sideways. Skywarp looked pleased. He manipulated it for several minutes. Starscream suddenly waved his hand and the ball disappeared.

"Hey!" Skywarp exclaimed.

"Make one yourself." Starscream looked deadly serious.

Skywarp concentrated, remembering the details of the ball of light. He shuttered his optics hard, and flexed his hands. There was a spark of light for a brief second then it disappeared. Skywarp onlined his optics again, looking disappointed.

"Don't worry, Warp," Starscream said with a smile. "It takes practice. You got a spark, which is pretty impressive."

"But I didn't do it," Skywarp grumbled.

"It doesn't matter. You'll get it eventually."

Skywarp frowned as he tried again. He got another spark that seemed to linger for a split second longer. Starscream clapped.

"Wonderful attempt!" Starscream said happily.

"But I—"

"It doesn't matter if you didn't do it, because you have plenty of time to practice," Thundercracker said firmly.

Skywarp still looked upset, but took it for what it was worth. He and his new Trustmate looked around the room.

"So what now?"

"Now you practice."

"And then?"

"I don't know. Do you want to offer your powers to the Autobots or stay neutral?"

"Autobots," Skywarp said immediately. "I want this stupid war to be over. And the Decepticons can go to the Pit if they think we'll help them."

Starscream nodded. "Make the ball again."

Skywarp made a face. This time it lingered for five seconds before disappearing. The purple mech swore. Starscream and Skyfire laughed. Thundercracker rolled his optics.

"I love you guys," the ex-Decepticon said fondly.

"We love you, too, Screamer," Skywarp said. "Trinemates?"

"Trinemates. Plus Skyfire."

They smirked at him, and the larger mech blushed. "Oh, stop it, little Star."

"Okay, Fire in the Sky."

They smiled at each other, sharing their delight as they had many times before. Life had had so many unexpected twists and turns, but throughout it all, they had stayed together. And now they had two new mechs to share in the power, to stay together. And they would lead them through the war to peace, every step of the way.



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