The Mech Code

8. Bad CNA

And so it went down for the next few weeks or so; Thundercracker and Starscream shared their bedroom, but they didn't talk to each other at all, and Skywarp stayed with Moonbeam. None of the Trine members were speaking to each other. Thundercracker just watched TV all day (when he wasn't glaring at Skywarp and Moonbeam). Skywarp showed off his relationship with Moonbeam, just to irritate Thundercracker. Starscream thought they were being petty, childish and even ridiculous; his spark was broken.

Due to all this stress, Starscream hadn't been out flying for three or four days, which he knew was a bad mistake because flying was a necessity to keep any Seeker healthy, but he had been so depressed that he didn't want to do anything, even take to the skies, although that normally would have cheered him up. All this drama had completely exhausted him, too; even though he got regular recharge, he woke up just as tired as he was when he fell into restless stasis the night before.

So that morning, Starscream wasn't surprised to find that his wings had begun to ache a little, and he made the unpleasant realization that his nausea from last night hadn't left, either. Being grounded for three days or more was just the limit, and it explained away the fact that his health had apparently been deteriorating over the past few days. Starscream knew that, as tired as he was, he needed to get some breakfast and then outside to fly.

Starscream leaned over and picked his glasses up off of the nightstand, cleaning them off with his fingers. For almost a week now he hadn't been bothering to put in his contacts, as he saw it as too much trouble for his tired body and how had he never noticed how awful those eye drops smelled? In fact, he wasn't sure where his contacts were, and he couldn't care less if he looked incredibly "geeky", as Thundercracker put it.

By the time Starscream got to the kitchen, his wing pain had increased, making it harder to ignore and harder to walk. Every symptom of FDS (short for "Flying Deprivation Syndrome") seemed to get worse when he walked around. Soon he'd be getting crotchety and moody and even violent. All in all, though, he just felt generally lousy.

Starscream made himself walk to the refrigerator and get a cube of high-grade. After all, he'd need fuel if he wanted to fly, right? Starscream felt himself getting tense as he watched the fuel sitting there on the table, waiting for him to drink it, but he couldn't bring himself to pick it up and pour it down his throat.

"I'll come back to you later," Starscream told the energon cube, pushing it away, and stood up.

As soon as Starscream got outside, he turned to jet mode and soared up into the sky. The sensation of flying was wonderful—here, he was free from everything horrible that had been happening in his life since that stupid Moonbeam had arrived. This was all her fault; everything about her made Starscream sick.

That was when he realized he didn’t mean that figuratively—Starscream was confounded when he realized that being in the air was just making his nausea even worse. Well, maybe if he went a little bit faster…but as Starscream accelerated to top speed, he was horrified to feel his thrusters beginning to falter.

Okay, time to land! Starscream started to turn into a robot again but before he could, he plummeted towards the ground, neither jet nor robot, his thrusters giving out completely.

Feeling panicked, Starscream picked himself up off of the ground and dashed into base, then sunk down onto the couch, wondering what went wrong. Never, ever had he experienced airsickness before. Seekers didn’t get airsickness! But there was no other way to describe what had just happened to him.

Maybe it was because he hadn’t finished his fuel earlier. Starscream made his way to the table where his breakfast was still sitting, waiting for him to drink it.

When Starscream opened the energon cube, he lifted it up to try and get a sip of it, but he was instantly averted by the cube's horrible smell. Was this expired? Had Megatron forgotten to order somebody to clean out the refrigerator? Just the thought of drinking this supposedly harmless nourishment was enough to make Starscream threateningly nauseous. Eventually, he managed to force a mouthful of the disgusting stuff down…but then he felt his stomach lurch. Starscream had barely made it to the self-maintenance room off the Seekers’ room before he found himself collapsing onto his knees and purging all over the floor.

Then he heard a startled voice call his name: “Starscream?!”

It was Skywarp, who had apparently walked in on Starscream’s vomit-fest. Starscream had been too sick to even notice.

“What happened?” Skywarp cried, hoisting his brother to his feet. “Are you okay?”

Starscream shook his head, no, and Skywarp guided him to his bed.

“Sit down, Starscream,” said Skywarp, obviously trying to keep from panicking as he stroked Starscream’s wings. “Put your head between your knees…breathe, that’s it…”

Once Starscream had calmed down a little and his stomach had settled (partially), he swallowed hard and whispered, “Thank you, ‘Warp.”

“Please, tell me what happened,” Skywarp begged.

“I don’t know,” Starscream moaned, feeling vomitty all over again as he fell back onto the bed. “This morning I didn’t feel so good, so I went out to fly…and I don’t know why but I got airsickness or something. I tried to have some energon, but I think it was expired or poisoned or something because it made me throw up.”

“Why would flight make you feel sick?” asked Skywarp, giving Starscream a hug. “Flying is supposed to make you feel better when you’re sick! I think we should go see Moonbeam about this.”

“That’s okay, ‘Warp,” said Starscream, shaking his head. “Whatever this is, I’m sure it’ll go away on its own.”

“Only the medic will know for sure,” Skywarp insisted, pulling on Starscream’s hand.

“All this is giving me a terrible headache…” Starscream groaned and lay back on the bed. “I just want to go to sleep.”

They were interrupted by Thundercracker storming into the room.

“What the—oh.” Thundercracker glared at them as he shut the door. “It’s you two.”

“Well, who did you expect?” Skywarp said angrily. “This is my room too!”

“Not ever since you started staying in the guest room with Moonbeam,” Thundercracker shot back.

“Guys, stop FIGHTING!” Starscream cried.

“Starscream is right,” said Skywarp. “There’s no time for that. Starscream is really, really sick.”

“Yeah?” Thundercracker grunted. “What’s wrong with him?”

“My head hurts, my wings hurt, and I’m sick to my stomach,” Starscream answered, struggling to sit up again. Skywarp gently pushed him back down.

“So go out flying, moron,” said Thundercracker. “It’s just FDS, obviously.”

“I thought of that!” Starscream told him defensively. “I was sure I had FDS and that was why I wasn’t feeling just right. But when I was flying, I got airsick or something, my thrusters failed, and I wiped out. When I got inside, I threw up just because of the smell of my breakfast.”

“Please, Starscream, you really should see the medic,” Skywarp insisted. “This is her job!”

“I hate to admit it, but he’s right,” Thundercracker agreed.

“Of course you want to see the medic. You’re obsessed with her,” Starscream mumbled so nobody could hear him.

“What?” said Skywarp.

“I said we can go,” Starscream said. “But please don’t teleport me, okay? Just thinking of that makes me—makes me—”

“Don’t!” Thundercracker clapped one black hand over Starscream’s mouth. “We’ll just walk, okay?”

Moonbeam was sitting on the repair table in the med bay, sipping a cube of energon, tapping her foot and waiting for the hours to pass. Being on call could get so boring sometimes. Sure, she liked being a medic, but that didn’t mean she had to like sitting in the med bay all day long, waiting for a sick or injured comrade to stumble in.

But that was exactly what happened a moment later.

“We need your help, Moonbeam!” Skywarp cried frantically, yanking Starscream into the room, Thundercracker right behind him. “Hurry!”

“What happened?” Moonbeam calmly hopped off the repair table and walked over.

“I suppose he got some sort of sickness, like a virus,” Thundercracker explained.

Moonbeam crossed her arms, looking bored. “What’re his symptoms?”

“I’m feeling sick,” said Starscream, “and my wings hurt. My head does too. I’m starting to feel fatigued.”

“Well, did you ever—”

“NO, it’s not because I haven’t been flying enough,” Starscream interjected, glaring at her. “I already tried that and it just made everything worse.”

“That’s not what I was going to say,” said Moonbeam. “Many Seeker afflictions are misdiagnosed as FDS. Aching appendages, especially the head and wings, are common symptoms. But your appetite shouldn’t have been affected. Are you fatigued because you haven’t been eating, or because you’ve been having trouble sleeping?”

“I haven’t been having trouble sleeping,” said Starscream. “I’ve been sleeping even more lately. It’s just that I don’t feel rested.”

“Contrary to popular belief, FDS rarely interrupts your sleep cycle,” said Moonbeam. “The fatigue you feel is simply because you get a lot of your energy supply when you fly, and when you don’t fly, it saps your energy. It actually has very little to do with lack of sleep or malnourishment. The only thing you’d have any energy for right now is your mood swings, and you actually seem less emotional than you usually are. If you were truly experiencing FDS, you’d have attacked me by now.”

“I’m too tired to attack anyone,” said Starscream. “But it’s only been three or four days. I don’t think my symptoms have fully kicked in yet.”

“Starscream, the full effects of Flying Deprivation Syndrome manifest themselves in less than forty-eight hours,” Moonbeam reminded him. “I’m telling you, it’s not what you have.”

“I KNOW it’s not what I have!” Starscream yelled at her. “I tried to go flying already this morning! Nobody listens to me!”

“We’re listening to you,” said Moonbeam, placing her small hand on his wing.

“DON’T TOUCH MY WING!” Starscream hollered, looking angry at first, but then he collapsed against the side of the repair table, his hand on his forehead. “Oh Primus.”

“Are you okay?” Skywarp cried, rushing over. “Come on, sit up here.”

“What was that?” said Thundercracker, as Skywarp helped Starscream up onto the repair table.

“I don’t know what that was.” Starscream sighed. “I just felt a little dizzy for a bit…I guess I shouldn’t have gotten mad.”

“Don’t worry,” Skywarp said, jumping up on the repair table next to Starscream and giving him a hug. “We still love you.”

“Well, I wouldn’t say I love him,” Thundercracker grumbled. “That’s a little too close for comfort.”

“Either way, Starscream, I have a question for you,” said Moonbeam. “It might feel kind of…uncomfortable to answer, but you have to be honest.”

“Fine.” Starscream shrugged listlessly.

“Well, I hate to be nosy, but as your health-care provider, I have to ask you this.” Moonbeam picked up her energon cube off her desk again and took a long sip, then put it down. “Have you been interfacing with anybody lately?”

“No, of course not,” Starscream lied, his face feeling hot as he thought about his latest experience with Megatron. It had been almost a month ago by now, and they hadn’t done anything since, but it was still fresh in his mind.

“Yeah, okay, I’ve been lied to about it before.” Moonbeam rolled her eyes. “It’s just that to be in the family way, you generally have to have ‘faced with somebody first, and have you ever considered that to be a possibility?”

“That’s the biggest load of scrap I’ve ever heard!” Starscream yelled, pointing at her.

“Fine, don’t listen to the medic, who happens to have delivered plenty of sparklings before and knows what she’s talking about,” said Moonbeam sarcastically.

“What does ‘family way’ mean?” Skywarp raised his hand, looking confused.

“It means pregnant,” said Moonbeam. “That’s my diagnosis, at least so far.”

“But why do you think I’m going to have a sparkling?” Starscream asked, a note of fear creeping into his voice.

“You’re showing quite a few symptoms, that’s why,” Moonbeam told him. “But I don’t know if you’re having mood swings or if this is just normal behavior for you.”

“But are we going to test him?” Thundercracker asked. Of course, he and Skywarp were looking shocked too.

“Definitely,” Moonbeam replied. “I’ll just need a small sample of your CNA, we’ll wait for the test to register, and you’ll be good to go.”

“You know how much I hate needles,” Starscream whined.

“You know how much I hate cowards,” Moonbeam said back, grabbing her kit of medical supplies. “Seriously, just let me prick your finger and it’ll be done before you know it.”

Starscream shut his eyes and put his free hand over his mouth as Moonbeam grabbed his other hand.

“Okay, just a little pinch…” said Moonbeam (not knowing, apparently, that this just made it worse), and stuck the needle into one of the wires in Starscream’s finger. It probably only took a few seconds, but to Starscream, it felt like hours. Why couldn’t she just use some of his vomit or something? Certainly he was doing enough of that.

The nausea Starscream currently had just got even worse when he saw his own raw energon being harvested into test tubes for analysis. Being a scientist, he was no stranger to test tubes, but he rarely worked with test tubes that contained actual body fluids.

“That really hurts,” Starscream whimpered. “Are you done?”

“Just about,” said Moonbeam, pulling the needle out and wrapping a bandage around the pricked finger. “The bleeding will clot very soon. Come back here in an hour and I’ll give you guys the results, okay?”

Starscream and his Trine were back in the med bay one hour later, right on schedule, jostling each other in a hurry to get to Moonbeam. Starscream was visibly shaking with fear and anticipation; his brothers were following behind him, looking curious; and Moonbeam was just standing there calmly, arms crossed, waiting.

“What are the results?” Starscream gasped.

“Well, let’s see,” said Moonbeam, picking up her data pad. “I didn’t look yet.”

“Hurry up!” Starscream told her.

Moonbeam read over the results for a minute, and finally she looked up and said, “Looks like I was right.”

“About what?” Skywarp asked.

“About his pregnancy, you glitch-head,” Moonbeam told her boyfriend.

“So I am going to have a sparkling?” Starscream found that his voice was quivering.

“No, not exactly.” Moonbeam glanced down at the results again. “You’re going to be having two.”

“What?!” Starscream cried, feeling dizzy again.

“Which word don’t you understand?” Moonbeam asked flatly. “These test results tell me that you will be giving birth to twins in about eight months.”

“Maybe it was a mistake,” said Starscream, grabbing for Moonbeam’s data pad.

“No touchy,” she said, yanking it back. “And I highly doubt it’s a mistake. This was a blood test, so it’s pretty accurate.”

“But I’m not ready for that!” Starscream sputtered. “What do I do?”

“There’s more information in these results,” Moonbeam continued, ignoring him as she read on. “Hmm…that’s weird.”

“What? What’s weird?” Starscream couldn’t imagine anything weirder than this.

“Well, your little dumplings aren’t purebreds,” Moonbeam replied. “It looks like they only have Seeker CNA on your side. Now, who was it who knocked you up? And don’t tell me you don’t know.”

“Um…I don’t know,” Starscream said uncomfortably. Actually, he had a pretty good idea who the twins’ sire was, but he would never admit it.

“You do know that this test reports both parents’ energy signatures and designations, right?” said Moonbeam. “Let’s see who you’re so embarrassed about ‘facing with, shall we?”

“NO!” Starscream shouted, running over to stop her from seeing the designation of his twins’ sire, but it was too late.

“You spread your legs for MEGATRON?!” Moonbeam shrieked.

Starscream was trying to snatch her data pad away, but she put it out of reach. “Listen, Moonbeam, this really isn’t any of your—”

“I don’t believe this!” the medic interrupted him. “Of all the possible partners you could have had, why in the name of Cybertron would you choose Megatron?”

Starscream shrugged and stared down at the floor, suddenly feeling ashamed of himself. Sure, ‘facing with Megatron was both incredibly humiliating and painful, but also seemed to be the most pleasurable and in the end, he could never resist complying. How could he explain that to everyone here if he couldn’t even explain it to himself?

“It’s okay, Starscream,” said Skywarp, gently touching Starscream’s wing, and that was when Starscream tasted saltwater in his mouth—tears.

“I’m sorry, my contacts must be acting up again,” Starscream mumbled, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, apparently forgetting that he was wearing his glasses and couldn’t use that excuse this time.

“You aren’t wearing your contacts, Starscream, remember?” said Moonbeam, walking up to her patient and taking his hands off his face.

“I-I don’t care,” Starscream mumbled, leaning into Skywarp, who rubbed his shoulder sympathetically.

“Maybe you should get some rest, Starscream,” said Moonbeam seriously. “I think you’ll feel better if you do.”

“I’m never going to feel happy again,” Starscream whined. By now, even he realized he was kind of talking nonsense, but it didn’t seem to matter to him.

“Of course you will,” said Skywarp, smiling as he got off the repair table, taking Starscream down with him. “I’m sure this will be fun.”

“Well, it probably won’t be fun,” said Moonbeam. “But if you take care of yourself, you’ll be less miserable.”

“Real helpful, Moonbeam,” said Starscream. “Not.”

“How about I teleport Starscream back to the Seekers’ room, and then you and I can have a nice little romp in the guest room?” Skywarp winked at Moonbeam and kissed her on the cheek. But before she could respond, Thundercracker intervened.

Skywarp and Moonbeam were indeed fired up with burning love, but Thundercracker was fired up with burning anger. As that familiar scowl darkened his features, he flexed his wings a little and stomped up to his brother.

“STOP IT!” Thundercracker hollered. “STOP IT RIGHT NOW!”

“What are you talking about?” Skywarp looked shocked as he pulled away from Moonbeam for a second. Thundercracker stared at Moonbeam’s beautiful face, her killer body, and then glared at Skywarp. This was becoming unbearable. Moonbeam was to be his mate, not Skywarp’s, and ONLY his! They were meant to be!

“You stupid freak!” Thundercracker yanked Skywarp away by the wing, ignoring his sudden yelp of pain. “You don’t deserve the lovely Moonbeam! Leave her alone!”

“What, you think Moonbeam’s too good for me?” Skywarp yelled back. “You don’t think I’m a good boyfriend?”

“You think you’re a good boyfriend?” Thundercracker let out an artificial laugh. “You don’t know the first thing about having a girlfriend!”

“At least I have a girlfriend!” Skywarp shot back. “Who’s the stupid freak now, huh?”

“Just who do you think you are?!” Thundercracker roared.

“Better than you!” Skywarp shouted. “If you were my friend, Thundercracker, you’d be HAPPY for me and my girlfriend!”

“If you were MY friend, you wouldn’t keep rubbing your stupid relationship in my face!” Thundercracker hollered, shoving Skywarp aggressively back into the wall.

“I’m not rubbing my relationship in your face!” Skywarp grabbed Thundercracker by the wing. “THIS is rubbing my relationship in your face!”

To everyone’s surprise, Skywarp dealt a hard-enough-to-dent punch to Thundercracker’s faceplates, knocking him onto the floor. Thundercracker immediately bolted up, seething with rage, and tackled the purple jet so that both of them were on the floor. It wasn’t long before a full-blown fistfight had started.

The two Seekers were hurling insults and obscenities at each other as they tried to tear each other apart—with more ferocity than some Autobot/Decepticon battles. Starscream chanced a glance at Moonbeam, who was leaning on the repair table, smirking, as usual. Obviously, she just loved it when these two mechs fought over her, both of them willing to destroy each other for her love.

“I’m right!” Thundercracker shouted. “Starscream, tell him I’m right!”

“No, tell him I’M right!” Skywarp interrupted.

“Shut up!” Thundercracker yelled. “Starscream, tell him!”

“Oh no you don’t!” Skywarp slapped Thundercracker. “Obviously, he thinks I’m right!”

“No he doesn’t!”

“Yes he does!”

“No he DOESN’T!”

“Yes he DOES!”

“STOP IT!” Starscream screamed. “Just STOP IT! Neither of you are right! You’re just a couple of idiots who have betrayed the Trine and I don’t want to talk to you or have anything to do with you or even LOOK at you ever again because I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”

Skywarp and Thundercracker froze in the middle of their fight. Moonbeam’s smug expression turned to one of shock as Starscream burst into tears and bolted out of the med bay without another word, slamming the door behind him.

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