The planet was grey.
But that detail could be easily ignored. That could be worked with. As long as there was a berth for him, Starscream was going to make the best of a neutral situation. Though he had to admit the spectacular planet he saw in the pamphlets was falsely advertised.
New Cybertron was just that. New. He arrived on the second refugee shuttle to touch down. Documents in hand, a bag on his back, he was there for the same reasons everyone else was.
A fresh start.
Maybe a new name, but probably not. That was an option, as soon as mechs arrived they had the option to change everything about them. From their frame, to their name, to their eye color. Starscream was all good in that department, he'd changed back to his red frame just before leaving. The mech at the desk checked him into the planet and gave him the key card to his new apartment. After getting a job Starscream could update his living situation, but for now he was given a place to live.
Couples got a two bedroom apartment, single people got one room.
The streets weren't scarce, per-sey, new businesses popped up everyday. But this planet was so strange compared to the Original Cybertron. This planet had fewer cities, more metal fauna springing from the ground, but the buildings were far apart, and there weren't nearly as many of them. There was a sun, crystal gardens, brightly painted buildings.
The city was small, but it was fine enough. In a few years the planet would be reasonably packed, and everything would feel less plain and barren and in-the-middle-of-nowhere.
As Starscream got further into the city, the buildings got close together. The streets were still clean, that was a surprise. He found his apartment building, was checked at the door to make sure he belonged there, then went inside.
The apartment was small, but clean. It entered directly into the tiny kitchen, just beside that was the living room, the next room was the bedroom, with the only washroom. The space came already furnished with a couch, vid-screen, chair, and a small kitchen table. Starscream hoped there was a berth in the bedroom. The journey there had been a solid 18 hours, and he had been surrounded by snoring mechs and sticky, screaming, sparklings.
As soon as Starscream got inside he dropped his bag and went to bed. The apartment was cooled, the planet was hot. Starscream’s cooling systems weren’t enough to keep him at a comfortable temperature. Whoever thought to put a metal planet next to a star should be shot. Apparently the government was working on the temperature controls of the cities, but progress had been little in the short fifty years this had been a viable colony.
It was a surprise anyone stayed, considering.
Starscream took a three hour long nap. He could have stayed in bed for the rest of his life. New Cybertron made itself out to be a utopia. All of the essentials were provided: health care, fuel, housing, all of that. But leisure had to be paid for: Goodies, games, high-grade, social activities. So if Starscream didn’t want to be a lonely shut-in, he would have to get a job. Make some money to buy some high-grade.
Then he could be an alcoholic shut-in.
Starscream rolled onto his back and pressed the tips of his fingers into his forehead. A part of him suddenly began to wonder if this was the right decision for him.
Technically, it had been. The planet he came from hated him. There was no place for him anymore. This was the best option.
If not the only one.
On Cybertron Starscream couldn't find a job, he couldn't find a therapist, he could barely find a friend. The only friend he had encouraged him to move, get a new start, a fresh face.
The phone in Starscream's subspace started to vibrate. He picked it up after one ring.
"Ruler of Cybertron."
Wheeljack chuckled. "Don't go pickin' up old habits."
"How'd you know I was off the ship."
"I know how long it takes."
"You'll come and visit me, right?"
"A'course. Probably not for a while."
"This place is a shit hole. There's nothing here."
"It'll get better."
Starscream closed his eyes and sighed. "Why'd you call?"
"I wanted to see how you were settling in."
"I just got here."
"You should have a drink."
"There might not be much, but there is a bar."
"Hopefully it's close." Starscream stood up. "I'm fucking starving." He muttered, shuffling into the living room. "The fuel on the ship was terrible. There were bits in it, I wanted to puke."
"Uh-huh," Starscream made himself a cube at the dispenser. "So, what are you up to?"
"Working. Nothing new."
"I am very exciting. I blew myself up yesterday."
"What time is it there?"
Starscream looked out the window. "It looks like sunset. So we're not too far off from each other."
"I think you're in yesterday though."
Starscream rubbed his face with the ball of his palm. "I hate space travel time shit."
Wheeljack chuckled. "It is weird. But we're not that far from each other."
"Only an 18 hour jump away."
"Think you'll ever come back."
"Maybe. If I ever make enough money for a transport."
"I hear they pay well on New Cybertron."
Someone knocked on Starscream's door.
"I haven't heard anything." Starscream looked through the peep-hole and found a white, eagle clad chest with an Autobot symbol. "Hey, do you know any Autobots with a blue eagle looking thing in their chest?"
"Uh, yeah. Is the rest white?"
"That's Thunderclash. Why?"
"He was a guy. Kind of a big deal. Very, very, good looking. Why?"
Starscream smirked. “Why do you know what his chest looks like?”
“Don’t ask me that.”
Starscream snickered to himself.
Wheeljack said. ‘Why are you asking?”
“Because he’s standing outside my door.”
Thunderclash knocked again.
“I’m going to open it. Stay on the line.”
Starscream fixed his expression to neutral and opened the door. He was met with a bot who had what must have been the worst color scheme he’d ever seen, but a handsome face to make up for it.
Starscream sized him up. “What do you want?”
“Greetings new citizen of New Cybertron. I am Thunderclash and I am here to welcome you to the planet.”
They stood there for a minute in silence.
“Is that all?” Starscream asked.
“New Cybertron wants to make all of its new residents feel welcome. I trust you read the pamphlet.”
“I read the whole thing. The pictures were very compelling, and very false.”
“We’re working on that.”
“Do you need something?”
“I’m here to give you something and welcome you to the planet.”
“You’re not doing a very good job of it.”
On the phone, Wheeljack said. “Be nice.”
Starscream shushed him.
“Did I interrupt something?” Thunderclash asked.
“I was just on the phone with a friend.”
“I’m sorry to interrupt.”
“It’s fine. I’m still wondering what you’re doing here. You seem new at this.”
“I am. The Welcome Initiative was new as of last week. Because of the sudden influx of refugees we thought it best to make them feel welcome. Every apartment complex was assigned a Greeter.”
“So you live in the building. That initiative sounds stupid. There were over a hundred people on the ship with me, you’re going to greet all of them?”
“Not me, personally.”
“I know that. I meant your little committee.”
“There are hundreds of us.”
“You said you had something to give me?”
“Just this,” Thunderclash produced a datapad. “The laws of New Cybertron.”
“Ah, I see,” Starscream accepte the datapad. “So I truly have entered into a cult, like everyone on Cybertron said.”
“The planet is new. It has laws like any other society.”
“I know, it was a joke.”
Thunderclash’s cheeks went purple. “Oh.”
"Well, thanks a lot." Starscr am moved to close the door.
"We encourage new residents to go out." Thunderclash blurted out.
Starscream opened the door. "To?"
"To the parks. The bars. Other things. To make connections. Friends."
"Ah, friends. I had heard of those."
Thunderclash cocked his brow at the joke, but did not laugh.
"Another jest," Starscream smiled. He glanced at the datapad in his hand. "Thanks for the advice, Tunderdash."
"Whatever." Starscream swung the door closed. He replaced the phone in his ear.
"I can't believe you called Thunderclash, The Thunderclash, Tunderdash."
"What's so great about him?"
"He's one of the most noble Autobots who ever lived."
"That's not saying much."
"I know for everyone else it wouldn't be, but this guy is the real deal."
"Hey, I gotta go. The Almighty Ruler of Cybertron is hailing me."
"Say fuck you for me."
"I will not."
They hung up. Starscream went to the living room and sat down on the couch. He watched the vid-screen for all of five minutes before growing tired of it and turning it off. He switched to his phone. His operating system had automatically switched to New Cybertron’s interface as soon as he arrived on the planet.
The internet was updated to include all of the leisurely places and job listings on New Cybertron. Starscream began calling the planet Neutron in his head.
There was an opening at a factory on the edge of the city. Almost anyone who applied got the job, or so it said in the description. There was also an opening as a file clerk at the Welcome Office, where they processed and welcomed all of the refugees to Neutron.
Not everyone who came from Cybertron was a "refugee" exactly. Though most of them did come to escape the hardships of Cybertron, the overpopulation, the lack of resources, the unpredictable weather and wild, seemingly sentient wilderness. There was also the new-found functionist party which was giving Windblade trouble, though she did little to nothing about it, and in Starscream's opinion, her rhetoric only fueled their hate.
Most of the people who went to Neutron were Decepticons or Nails. The Autobots had finally, truly, won the planet.
There were other people from other places who came to Neutron. Bots from the colonies, bots from other sentient mechanical world's, and even some organic creatures who matched the Cybertronians in size.
This obviously invited issues, but it seemed, so far, that everyone wanted the same thing. As far as Starscream knew, the planet had a cap. As soon as the population hit a certain point, nonone else was allowed to enter. Not unless there was an exile. There were no real prisons on Neutron. For serious crimes, like murder or rape, or some other variation of a serious crime, the perpetrator would be exiled. End of story.
The population cap did not seem forthcoming.
Starscream applied for the job as a file clerk. Desk work was fine, being away from a lot of people was better. He applied for the job and got a response fifteen minutes later, asking for an interview an hour later, which he went to after a quick shower.
The interview was quick and casual.
"Can you read Cybertronian?"
"Can you download language files?"
"Do you have at least one fully functional hand?"
"And you can use a computer?"
"Great. You're hired."
And Starscream started training that day, much to his displeasure. Fortunately it was only the training. Payment was 20 shanix an hour, 25 hours a week. More than enough to pay for leisure.
The training was only four hours. Afterwards he was immediately wired payment to a bank account that had been activated upon his arrival.
As soon as Starscream got paid he went to a sweet shop and bought himself some goodies. The sweet shop was a block from his building, so he opened up the box and started eating on the way home. When he opened the door to the apartment building he ran right into a white chest with a blue eagle. He would have fallen on his ass if Thunderclash hadn't grabbed him by the wrist and kept him upright.
Unfortunately Thunderclash was not able to save Starscream's goodies, which spilled helplessly onto the sidewalk.
Starscream groaned, staring at the fallen treats.
A set of bright red optics blinked down at him. "Are you alright?"
Starscream scowled and tugged his wrist out of Thunderclash's loose grip. "No."
"For what? I ran into you." Starscream bent over and started picking up his treats into the box. Thunderclash took a knee to help him.
"I'll buy you a new box," Thunderclash offered.
They stood up together. "As a courtesy."
Starscream clutched the box of ruined goodies to his chest and narrowed his eyes. "Why?"
"You seem the skeptical sort."
Starscream brushed past him. "You're very weird."
Thunderclash seemed to flinch at that. Starscream continued on his course. He scurried through the door, up the stairs, to his apartment. He threw the treats into the garbage and returned to the couch.
He mindlessly watched a program and scrolled on his phone until the sun went down, and it felt like an appropriate time to go to bed.
Starscream quickly grew indifferent to his job. He got up, went to work, worked for five hours, then went home. There was nothing special, or new, or fulfilling about it. There was nothing special or new or fulfilling about the planet as a whole.
Three weeks in, Starscream was beginning to consider, more seriously than before, that this had been a mistake. A part of him missed the graffiti on his door and being shouted at in the streets by strangers, at least that was something. Maybe a negative something, but it was still action. This planet had nothing. Nothing good. Nothing bad.
Boring. Boring. Neutral.
As Starscream sat on his couch thinking about this, he also began to think about the minimal amount of effort he'd put into making this new life anything special. He hadn't had a drink, he hadn't taken part in any of the leisurely activities available on planet. He began to think that maybe he was the problem.
Starscream sat up and turned the vid-screen off. He took a shower, put on a small amount of polish in the most pleasing areas, and went down the street for a couple of drinks.
Drinking alone was not necessarily an improvement, but at least he wasn't drinking alone at home watching TV. Sometimes people drank alone and it wasn't pitiful.
The bar was dimly lit with little red lights hanging around the top edge of the walls. The hue was warm and pleasant, with little to no dark corners to hide in. For the first time in what felt like forever no one looked at Starscream when he came in. They all sat undisturbed, sipping their drinks and chatting with their friends or random people at the bar.
Almost as soon as Starscream entered, he found the last person he wanted to see sitting in a corner booth surrounded by other mechs. Among them, he was the largest.
Thunderclash wasn't a bad bot, certainly not by Starscream's low standards. But he was annoying. He was persistent, and Starscream had a good guess as to why.
Thunderclash was the type of bot everyone loved. He could win the hearts of Autobots and Decepticons alike. He was a peace-maker and a peacekeeper, and he wasn't used to having someone think of him as any less than he made himself out to be. Or, at least, what others made him out to be. The Autobots, even those who no longer wore the badge, admired Thunderclash and looked up to him. They regarded him with more respect than even Optimus Prime, and used him as an example for what a hero looked like.
Starscream didn’t see it.
Thunderclash might have won the spirits of many a lowly Decepticon, but he had done little to endear himself to Starscream. All he had done was get Starscream a box of goodies to make up for the one he’d lost, and knocked on Starscream’s door every other day in an attempt to encourage him to take part in leisurely activities.
As Starscream sat down at the bar he began to regret choosing this as his watering hole. Of course Thundeclash was here. His job was to create relations and make friends, of course he was at the bar.
Starscream told himself he would have two drinks then return home and go to bed. It was the weekend, he had no obligations, as much as he wanted to get wrecked and wake up with a hangover the next morning, tonight was not that night. Not with Thunderclash breathing down his neck from fifteen feet away.
Starscream did not hate him.
Only, in part, because Starscream didn’t have the energy anymore to hate anyone. (Besides one particularly ugly, old, bucket-headed, former-warlord.) And even that Starscream didn’t think about as often as he used to.
He just found Thunderclash infuriating in the way he found most self-important Autobots infuriating. Doing good made him feel good, so he did it, and that was the only reason why. Not any of the noble, selfless reasons the Autobots had been spoon-fed.
Starscream opened a tab and ordered his first drink. Something that tasted sweet and came in a tall glass with an energon cherry on the top. He grabbed the cherry by the stem and began poking the ice further into the glass with it.
He worked slowly at the drink, taking steady, small sips at a time between checking his phone and getting lost in his thoughts. At one point, while he was staring at some of the more obscure decorations above the bar, a large bot took his seat on the stool just beside Strarscream’s. At first Starscream ignored it, passing it off as someone who didn’t get the one-stool-away rule.
But then he heard the voice.
“I knew I would get through to you.”
Starscream sneered, immediately recognizing the smile in that tone. He poked at the ice in the bottom of his glass. “You take a lot of pride in things you had nothing to do with.”
“I’m sorry to have assumed. Let me buy you a drink.”
“No thank you.”
When the bar-tender came around Starscream pushed his glass forward. “Another one, please.”
Thunderclash put his hand between the bartender and the glass. “Put it on my tab.”
Starscream’s wing twitched. He threw a glare at the side of Thundeclash’s stupid smirking head.
“Bartender,” Starscream called. “Don’t do that. Put it on my tab.”
The bartender shrugged. “It’s going on his.”
Of course it was, because Thundeclash had absolutely every bot in this town wrapped around his stupid finger. Starscream didn’t bother with the second drink, he threw his shanix on the bar and hissed at Thunderclash. “You fucking drink it, then,” and stormed out.
Barely ten feet from the door, Starscream heard the obnoxious indecent voice calling his name.
Starscream didn’t want to wait. He walked faster. Thunderclash caught up with him, but stayed a safe distance behind.
“I meant no disrespect-”
Starscream whipped around. “Oh will you shut up already!” He screeched. “Is it not super obvious to you that I want you to leave me alone? Do I have to spell it out? I don’t like you! I would like it very much if you would go away!”
Thunderclash’s outstretched hand pulled in. His expression dropped, his eyes going wide.
Starscream huffed and went home, leaving Thundeclash alone on the sidewalk.
All Starscream wanted was two drinks. Two drinks! Was that so much to ask? As soon as he got home he considered requesting to move cities. But Starscream was pettier than that, and had too much pride to let one insufferable Autobot drive him out.
Starscream only slept well that night because the drink in his system pulled him to sleep. The irritation he felt still tickled across his plating, even as he was falling blissfully to sleep.
Thunderclash did not harass Starscream for three weeks after the incident at the bar. Every time they saw each other, Starscream turned his nose up and snubbed him. Thunderclash never tried to initiate conversation. Even after Starscream nearly walked into him for a second time, Starscream only growled in frustration and brushed past, not even sparing his face a glance.
On the last day of the third week with no incidents, Starscream returned to the bar. Had he more energy, or more motivation, he would have gone to a different bar. But this one was close and he just wanted two drinks before bed.
Thunderclash was there as well, but he was looking more somber than usual.
Starscream scoffed and took a seat at the bar. He went through his first drink slowly, taking in the multiple, inexplicable, unidentifiable decorations on the bar walls. He was halfway done with his first drink when Thunderclash came over and sat next to him.
Thunderclash ordered some plain high-grade. When it arrived he did not return to the booth with the bots he had been with. Starscream felt a tension in his neck, tempting him to look behind him and see if any of those bots were still there.
He resisted and continued to drink undisturbed.
Thunderclash took a deep breath. “I’m sorry if I’ve been bothersome lately.”
“All the time,” Starscream said before he could stop himself.
“But I am trying to make your experience a good one.”
“You’re doing a terrible job at it.”
“Then tell me what I can do.”
“I already did. You can leave me alone.”
“I can’t do that.”
“Yes you can. It’s simple and easy, like infomercial products. You get up, you walk away, and we never have to deal with eachother again.”
“Let me make it up to you.”
“Oh, for Primus-” he finally looked at Thunderclash. “Are you hard of hearing? Or are you just that full of yourself?”
“I know, you’re ‘the guy’ you’re The Thunderclash, the one the universe looks up to. Well I don’t, alright? And you need to get over it.”
“Is that why you think I do this?”
“Don’t try to hide it, Tunderdash, your vanity is obscenely opaque.”
“I’m afraid you have the wrong idea about me.”
“I know what everyone says-”
“I know what everyone says about you as well.”
Starscream’s wing twitched. He sneered into the edge of his glass. “Yeah, well, you can’t believe everything you hear.” He muttered.
“Exactly my point. So can we try this again?”
Starscream rolled his eyes. “If I hadn’t died a couple dozen times, I might believe you’re more resilient than I am.”
“So would you let me buy you a drink, Starscream?” Thunderclash put on an admittedly charming smile.
Starscream narrowed his eyes. He lifted his brow and slid his empty glass across the bar. “Maybe just one more.”
Starscream hadn’t done this in- truly he didn’t know how long. And especially not with an Autobot of all people. Thunderclash grunted with every thrust, holding Starscream’s lower back with one hand, and leaning against the wall with the other. Starscream hung on for dear life, both arms wrapped tightly around Thundeclash’s shoulders, etching claw marks into the metal every time a spring of pleasure sparked through his valve, up his spine, to the tips of his wings.
They had both been sufficiently tipsy when they stumbled back to the building, into Thunderclash’s apartment on the top floor. Starscream knew himself to be a variety of drunk, and apparently tonight it had been horny.
This was their sixth go, Thunderclash having already sufficiently filled Starscream’s valve with eight overloads, and given him seven in the process. Thunderclash grunted, rutting forward into his ninth overload, filling Starscream’s valve with it’s ninth serving of warm transfluid.
Starscream bit his lip and leaned his head back. Even in this drunken state, he could feel his valve getting sore. It had been a while, and this was a lot for a valve that hadn’t taken anything in a thousand years, give-or-take.
Thunderclash panted above him. He stationed his elbows on either side of Starscream’s body to keep some of the weight off of him. Their lower halves were still intimately intertwined.
“Do you want to go again?”
Starscream wiggled on his back. “I think I’ve got one more in me.”
Thunderclash nodded. He grunted, sitting back up and reclaiming his former position. Starscream winced when his hips were lifted just so. Thunderclash dipped and kissed Starscream’s neck as he started to thrust. Slow at first, then a bit faster, but never pounding.
If Starscream was being honest with himself, he considered this an accomplishment. One of the Greatest Autobots of All Time coming undone above him, overloading nine times, soon to be ten. Starscream was almost impressed. Either Thunderclash was easy, or Starscream was a very good lay.
Starscream stopped thinking to himself and concentrated on the sensation. The thick spike penetrating his valve, the little nubs all over said spike tickled the valve wall, sending bursts of pleasure through Starscream’s frame. He came first, going stiff and moaning softly, followed soon after by Thunderclash who thrusted deep and stayed there to empty his tenth load into Strascream’s sore, but eager valve.
Thunderclash nearly collapsed that time but caught himself on his elbows. His vents were so loud they were nearly deafening. He panted, resting the side of his head against Starscream’s. When Thunderclash regained his strength he sat up and pulled out. His erect spike bobbed, a trail of transfluid followed the tip.
A thick drop of transfluid spilled out of Starscream’s valve and dripped into the already soaked berth. Starscream sat up on his elbows and flexed the calipers in his valve to watch more of the transfluid drip out. Thunderclash watched it as if he were in a trance.
Starscream leaned forward, putting a smirk on his face and spreading his legs wider. “You like seeing your transfluid in me?” He purred, ticking the edge of Thunderclash’s chin with the edge of his talon. “This pretty valve is all yours for tonight. I like the way your transfluid feels inside me.” He leaned in closer. “Maybe I have a few more in me if you’ll have a few more in me.”
Thunderclash inched forward, his barely parted lips nearly meeting Starscream’s smirk. Thunderclash dove for Starscream’s neck and went down on him again, his hard spike pulsing at the thought of claiming that valve.
Starscream laughed, biting his lip, and clinging on.
Maybe this new planet wouldn’t be so bad afterall.