Disclaimer 1: This is fanfic. That means I do not own any of it. I just borrow it to play with for a little while and let people see the pathetic results if they really want to.

Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.

Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here. Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.

Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.

Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these things.

Disclaimer 6: If my characters' conversations seem odd or they appear to be talking past each other the latter might occasionally be intentional, but most likely it is an accident and I'm not aware that they are. It's just my bad communication skills.

Chapter 4: Second Year

"The results are out!" a shout rang through the cafeteria.

Starscream jumped to her feet abandoning her half full glass of energon. "Come on!"

"W ... What?" Skylight took a few seconds longer for the meaning of the words to sink in, but then so did everybody else.

"Starscream! Wait up!" Skywarp shouted after his friend even though he knew very well by now that Starscream never waited for anybody unless a teacher specifically ordered him to slow down. Well, at least he might have a chance to catch up to him as long as Starscream didn't take to the air. Skywarp might be one of the fastest fliers in their year, but Starscream was out of his league and he knew it. Some of their classmates had bets running who'd win a race between Starscream and Whisperglide himself but Skywarp had declined the offer to join in. Everyone knew that Whisperglide didn't race and especially not against his students.

On foot however Skywarp assumed that he was about as fast as his friend, so with a little luck he ought to have a chance.

Of course he didn't have a little luck. Everybody else was suddenly jumping up and running towards the door as well and there was no getting through unless he wanted to risk violating the regulations and flying to the administration. At least Skylight was still with him for some moral support.

The crowd was even worse in front of the administration building. It seemed that every Decepticon on the academy grounds was trying to get through those doors at the same time and for a moment Skywarp wondered what would happen once the building was full. There didn't seem to be any chance for anybody to get back out through the masses trying to squeeze in.

Somehow the whole bulk of bodies kept on moving, though and soon Skywarp was so boxed in between people that there was no chance to go back. He was just pushed and shoved along fighting against a rising feeling of panic. This was too tight. Too many people. Too close. He couldn't move, couldn't see where he was going, couldn't even raise his hands to defend himself. Not enough room to take off and fly. Caught! He was caught! He needed to get away!

But he couldn't. These weren't his enemies and he had to get in there to see his test results. 'Calm down.' he tried to tell himself. 'It's alright. Everybody's going the same way you want to. You just have to be patient and wait and you'll get there and then you'll get out.'

It didn't help much, though. He still felt like screaming, but then Starscream had to be somewhere in this crowd as well and if he wasn't screaming, Skywarp wouldn't either. And if Starscream were screaming Skywarp would hear him. That sound was unmistakable.

It seemed like hours before another particularly bad shove squeezed Skywarp through the usually so wide entrance. The entrance hall didn't seem as full as he had expected and he stepped back into a corner for a moment and breathed a sigh of relief. Much better.

Now if only he could get back out again without being squashed to death. But he couldn't leave yet. He had to find his exam results, had to know, whether he'd been accepted into the second year or not. If not he could as well let the crowd trample him to death.

He felt the panic rise up again. Where were those results?

He looked around frantically and saw Starscream sulking on the receptionist's desk. The green and brown mech sitting behind the desk was wearing a resigned frown that Skywarp knew only too well. A lot of people looked like that after colliding with Starscream. Obviously the receptionist had attempted to get the seeker off his desk and lost the ensuing battle of wills.

That theory didn't match the sulky look on Starscream's face, though. Feeling slightly worried Skywarp squeezed over to his friend's side.

"Starscream? Starscream, what's wrong?" What if Starscream had failed the shooting exam? It hadn't looked that bad, but then the standards were always set by the performance of the other students and they'd only seen a few.

"32nd." Starscream frowned. "I didn't even make the top thirty."

"Starscream, you're impossible!" Skywarp yelled relieved. "Who the hell cares about being in the slagging top thirty?"

"I do." Starscream informed him still sulking. "Of course you wouldn't have any hopes. You're not even near there."

Skywarp froze. "I did make second year, though, didn't I?"

"Huh? Oh, sure. You're not even close to the end of the list either." Starscream answered with a slight shrug. "I didn't find Skylight, though and the Autobot beat you by quite a bit."

"Never mind Motormaster." Skywarp hopped up onto the desk as well. He suddenly felt very cocky. 'I made it! I made it! I'm a warrior!' "What's that about Skylight?"

"Nothing. I just didn't see his name on the list." Starscream answered. "It's a long list there were always people standing in my line of sight and it was getting crowded, so I didn't read all of it."

"Well, if they really have all first years on there it really must be long." Skywarp mused.

"They don't. They've only listed the ones that will be going on to second year."

"Oh." Skywarp stared over at where lots of first years were crowded in front of a section of wall. That had to be where the list was. He was suddenly very grateful that Starscream had already told him that he'd made it. He couldn't imagine squeezing into that tight crowd to see his results. No, he didn't think he cared enough to go and look for his exact position. "So who else from our group did you find there?"

"Well, you and the Autobot." Starscream answered. "And that suck up Weasel." Pause. "Clouddipper's in, too, in case you care to know."

"It's odd, but I do. I know we only met him once, but he seemed nice."

"Yeah, he was great to fly with, too." Starscream agreed.

"What of the rest of our group? Motormaster's room-mates?"

Starscream shook his head. "Didn't see them."

"Just how much of the list didn't you read?"

"Can't say. A few names here, a corner of a sheet there. Maybe about one sheet total all in all." Starscream estimated.

"That doesn't sound like much room for so many names."

"I told you the ones that failed aren't on there." Starscream reminded him.

"They can't all have failed!"

Starscream shrugged once again. "There's Skylight now." he nodded towards the crowd of first years and indeed something that looked suspiciously like their room-mateís right wing could be seen poking out of the crowd. "Frankly, I don't care much about the rest. Bunch of idiots. I'd much rather have had our classes with Clouddipper."

"You do like Motormaster, though, don't you?" Skywarp asked.

"The Autobot?" Starscream scoffed. "Never!" Pause. "He's fun to tease, though." Pause. "And makes good fighting exercise." Pause. "Tried to help me with my shooting as well. Guess I ought to thank him for that."

"You do like him." Skywarp observed.

"Don't." Starscream insisted. "Just find him kinda useful."

"Sure, whatever you say. I won't argue with you."

"That's because you can't win." Starscream grinned proudly.

"Skylight's taking terribly long." Skywarp decided to change the topic. It was never a good idea to tell Starscream when he was right.

"It's a long list." Starscream said once again. "And hard to see with all the people around."

"Why are we sitting here anyway?"

"Because it's less crowded. I don't like crowds."

"Me neither. Can't we wait for Skylight back in our quarters?" Skywarp suggested.

"We'd have to force our way through the crowd."

"It's not going to get any better anytime soon, but I'm beginning to get the impression that it's slowly getting worse."

Starscream looked around. There did seem to be even more people in here than there had been when Skywarp had arrived, definitely more than when she'd flown in, but then she'd been one of the first. The advantages of a fast jet mode. "Alright lets try to get out."

There were two smaller side doors that usually served only as emergency exits, but were used to let the students out now. Somehow Starscream and Skywarp managed to survive the pushing and shoving until they got out. Then Starscream simply ignited her engines and flew home Skywarp quite a bit behind her since he hadn't expected to fly back. Then again, that usually was Starscream's reaction to slow traffic.

"Hi kids!" Astrotrain was standing in front of their door when they got home. "Seen Skylight anywhere?"

"He was reading the exam results list when we left." Starscream told him as she opened the door. "I wouldn't expect him back anytime soon unless he finally wises up and flies."

"Is that what you did?" Asrotain asked trying to hide his surprise.

"That's what Starscream always makes us do. It's fly fast or lose him." Skywarp grinned. "Want to come in?"

He did and sat down on Skylight's bed when he saw all the files and other items Starscream had left lying around on the chairs.

"Did you see my file on wing construction forms anywhere Warp?" Starscream asked while digging through one of the piles. "I' sure I left it here somewhere."

"Aren't you packed, yet?" Astrotrain asked glancing around. There was Skylight's familiar box in the corner, but everything else looked just like it had all year.

"Maybe it's under your bed again." Skywarp suggested to Starscream. "It seems to like it down there. We're not leaving."

"It's a dead object, Skywarp. It doesnít like anything." Starscream retorted, but crawled under her recharge bed anyway.

"Why not? Don't you want to visit your families over the holidays?" Since Starscream was out of sight Astrotrain kept addressing Skywarp who'd flopped down onto his own bed.

"My parents are off on some scientific expedition to some asteroids in the middle of nowhere." Skywarp answered. "Too far away to be back in time."

"My mother doesn't want to see me ever again." Starscream came back up wearing a slight frown of disappointment. "She always hated me and it's not down here. I bet Skylight took it. He can't be bothered to go to the library or actually read a file, but he's always playing around with mine. I think he does it on purpose."

"He just moves them around, because you always leave them lying around on the chairs. We have to sit somewhere." Skywarp defended their absent friend.

"Then he should put them back where he found them afterwards." Starscream hissed.

"Calm down. What's the matter with you anyway? We passed! We're officially members of the warrior caste now. You ought to be happy." Skywarp tried to remind her.

"I'm only 32nd and I can't find one of my favourite files." Starscream complained. "What am I going to read tonight?"

Skywarp reached out one hand and without even looking snatched a file off the next chair. "How about this: Planetary Rotation and Orbits in Systems with More than One Sun? Sounds fascinating." He rolled his optics at Asrotrain, but continued: "Or maybe this: Air Manoeuvres Under Bad Weather Conditions. Just your thing."

"No, I want the file I started this morning. The one about wing construction. If you hadn't dragged me out for a drink, it wouldn't be missing now."

"Do you want a sure tip how to find it?" Astrotrain winked at Skywarp as he said that.

"How?" Starscream finally stopped turning over files to look at the older mech.

"By taking all those files and sorting them alphabetically on that empty shelf over there." Astrotrain answered.

"That's Skylight's." Skywarp commented.

"So?" asked Astrotrain. He's already packed and won't be here all holiday. He won't need it until he gets back."

Starscream frowned, but did start picking up files and carrying them over to Skylight's shelf. If that was the only way she was going to find her file, she'd have to do it.

"You didn't see whether Skylight made it, did you Skywarp?" Astrotrain asked suddenly.

"I didn't see the list at all." Skywarp admitted. "There were too many people and Starscream had already seen it."

Astrotrain looked to Starscream hopefully. "And?"

"I didn't see all of it either. I found myself, Skywarp, Motormaster and Clouddipper, but then I had to give up, because I'd had enough of the pushing crowd."

"Couddipper? Who's Clouddipper?" Astrotrain had met Motormaster a few times since he and Skylight got along very well, but he was obviously puzzled by the last name.

"A friend. Great flyer." Starscream explained. "He isn't in or classes, but we flew together in the exams. Would be nice to have him in our Flying class next year, though."

"The classes do get mixed around a lot at the beginning of second year and if they assigned him to you in the exam that could mean that they're planning on putting you together permanently." Astrotrain said. "I wouldn't count on it too much yet, though. In second year everything can change. After that the groups don't undergo such mayor changes anymore, though. The longer you've flown with one partner the bigger the chance they'll keep you together."

"They probably just added Clouddipper as a third seeker, you know." Skywarp reminded Starscream. "It does look a lot better in formation flight, if all participants are of the same model."

"It's also more effective to teach similar models together." Astrotrain put in. "You're likely to end up in a class of mostly seekers next year, while Skylight will probably get assigned elsewhere. There are a lot of fast manoeuvres seekers do, that we heavier flyers can't manage and you'll need to train those."

Astrotrain tried to continue a light hearted conversation, but it was obvious that his thoughts kept drifting away. After several hours had passed without Skylight showing up, he finally gave up waiting and went to search for him.

Skylight was back when Starscream woke up from recharge the next morning.

"Lord I'm From an Old Warrior Family failed." Skywarp announced as soon as he saw his friend's optics light up.

"They cheated!" Skylight shouted furiously.

"Oh no they didn't." Starscram answered with a cruel smile. "You just didn't study."

"Octane doesn't study either." Skylight protested.

"You know, I'm not all that sure about Octane and the claims he makes." Starcream mused. "I don't think one can trust everything he says. Not even when he isn't drunk."

"When did you ever meet Octane when he was sober?" Skywarp quipped.

"I'm not sure I did, but I might have." Starscream grinned.

It wasn't always obvious at first glance when Octane was drunk and Starscream strongly suspected that he sometimes overacted the part. There definitely were things one would say in the presence of a very drunk person, that one would never tell them when they were sober. If Octane was too drunk to stand straight most people assumed he wouldn't remember a thing the next morning. Starscream seriously doubted he went to class drunk.

All in all Octane was probably better than his name. He couldn't be any worse.

"You don't have to be like Octane, you know." Skywarp observed. "Maybe next year you should try being more like your brother instead of his best friend and you'll actually pass."

"I don't know." mused Starscream. "Deathclaw told me that those who fail the first time rarely make it. Guess Mr. Old Warrior Family just isn't good enough."

"They cheated me!" Skylight insisted. "But I'll show them. Just wait till I've talked with my father. I'll be back next year, you'll see."

"Your father, huh?" smirked Skywarp. "Is he such an important guy?"

"My father has served Emperor Straxus for decades." Skylight informed him haughtily, grabbed his box and stalked out. "See you next year."

"Yeah, maybe." commented Sarscream.

For now they had the holidays ahead of them and they turned out to be a lot of fun. They had almost the entire corridor to themselves, the library was usually deserted and the shooting range open for practise almost all day.

When they got bored on the nearly empty academy grounds they started exploring the city of Polyhex with all its many sights. For a few days they hung out near the Emperorís palace hoping to catch a glimpse of Straxus himself, but all they got to see were guards, servants, the occasional general and the Emperor's pleasure bots.

"And they just have to be all pink." Starscream commented. "Yuck!"

"I guess we're agreed that masking as pleasure bots isn't worth the chance to get in there then." Skywarp smirked.

"Definitely not." Starscream confirmed. "I'm bored. Lets fly some." and as usual she took off without waiting for Skywarp's reaction.

Skywarp, by now used to having that problem, didn't even try to comment. He raced after her keeping up as best he could and trying not to think about what might happen, if they got caught speeding like this.

Their flight, quite by accident took them to the space-port district. Skywarp had been there before travelling with his parents and pointed out the different types of ships, explained the boarding operations and refuelling and maintenance stations.

Starscream surprisingly found all of that only mildly interesting. Spaceships and shuttles, in her opinion, had the distinct disadvantage that one was flying, but didn't get to stretch ones wings and had to remain cooped up inside. The thought was rather uncomfortable and she decided to get away from it by searching for the space-port bar. It couldn't be hard to find.

Indeed she soon spotted the rather shabby looking establishment.

"I don't like the looks of this. Skywarp promptly told her when she dragged him towards it. "My parents always stay away from places like this."

"Oh, come on, it'll be an adventure." Starscream said and pulled him through the door by his arm.

She soon wished she hadn't. The inside was no less shabby than the outside, but the room was so dark it wasn't as obvious at first glance. Dock workers and lowly space sailors made up most of the crowd inside and the room reeked of spilled oil, cheap energon and other substances Starscream decided not to examine too closely. A few aliens milled about, some of them even organic.

Starscream was still trying to fight down her revulsion at that latest discovery when her optics fell on the stage next to the bar and the femmes dancing up there.

"Yuck! And Octane and Astrotrain actually come here to enjoy themselves?"

"Okay, we've seen it. We don't like it." Skywarp whispered into her audio sensor. "Can we go now?"

"Hello there! Anything I can do for you boys?"

Starscream forced herself not to jump at being addressed so suddenly. She turned to face the speaker and found that it was a serving girl who was wearing even less armour then the femmes on the stage.

"I have much more to offer than just energon." she continued with a wink.

"No, thank you. We're just looking for a friend of ours." Starscream managed to answer.

"Someone I know?" she was still posing to show off her almost uncovered breasts.

'Damn, can't she see we're too young for that?' Or was she trying to sell something else anyway? Starscream wasnít sure she wanted to know. "His name's Octane. You know him?"

"Maybe." she held out her hand.

Starscream glared at her and realised with a start that she looked not much older than herself. "I'll take that as a yes." she decided ignoring the hand. She wasn't going to pay her for information she knew she couldn't give. Octane had left for the holidays on the same day as Skylight and Astrotrain. "Have you seen him today?"

"No, he isn't here, but I might be able to tell you where you might be able to find him."

"Well, that was all I wanted to know." Starscream smirked. "Thank you." She turned to leave and almost crashed into her best friend. "Well, come on Skywarp. Or do you want to stay for a drink?"

"No ... no no, lets go." Skywarp nervously shook his head to emphasise his words and they hastily retreated out of the bar.

Starscream immediately transformed and shot off at top speed, leaving Skywarp hopelessly far behind until he finally warped to catch up.

"Where are you going?" he radioed as she shot past him again.

"Home. I've got a good file to read and I'm tired of the city for today." she answered without slowing down.

Skywarp warped again. It was a lot easier, if you knew where your target was headed. "Can't you slow down a bit?"

"No, I feel like flying fast!"

Skywarp sighed. Well, at least it didn't look like Starscream would want to return to the space-port bar anytime soon.

Unfortunately for Skywarp Starscream's curiousity returned only a little over a day later and though she didn't show an interest in the Space-port Bar again Skywarp soon found himself tagging along as she explored other bars and actually sitting down to drink in most of them. Could nothing stop that whirlwind of a mech at all?

The start of the new school year finally did. One evening shortly before the start of their second year they arrived home after an afternoon at the shooting range to find Motormaster lying stretched out on Skylight's bed looking perfectly happy with himself.

"Hi, there flyboys." he greeted them with a wide smile. "I'm your new room-mate."

"New room-mate?" Starscream asked confused. "But Skylight's our room-mate. He said he was coming back to try again."

"For one of the top Science students in our year, you sure are slow." Motormaster informed her with a grin. "Skylight's going to start first year again. This room is now for second years and as my room-mates all failed our room will be assigned to a new bunch of first years meaning I had to move out. They said I could either room with you two or down the hall with the weasel and that idiot who mounts his guns backwards. And I generally prefer dwarfs to idiots."

"Gee thanks!" Skywarp commented sarcastically. "We're better than the weasel, Starscream. Doesn't that make us feel all good and mushy inside?"

"Good? For having an Autobot in our room?" Starscream frowned. "Lets make one thing clear right from the start: This was our room first and you're going to stay out of our way, get that?"

Of course Motormaster did not get that and Skywarp was treated to another gladiatorial fight on the recharge bed. At least this time Thundercracker didn't walk in on them and the show was a lot better since the fighters were much more familiar with each other than Starscream and Skylight had been on their first day.

Over the next few days the academy filled up with students again and all the corridors were once again noisy and crowded.

Skylight was one of the last to return. He looked a little sulky because his father had obviously been unable to help him and he had had to move in with two snotty, as he called them, first years who weren't very impressed with his failure.

After taking one look at the line in front of the administration building Starscream practically bullied Thundercracker into getting their schedules for them sparing them another experience of being shoved about by the crowd.

"Alright boys," Thundercracker announced as he handed out the schedules to the four remaining members of his group. "Now I did this just as a favour, because I like you so I hope you'll be grateful and reward me by being less rebellious and more disciplined than last year."

"Dream on." mumbled Skywarp after one look at the faces of Starscream and Motormaster. He doubted either was listening to the speech at all.

Comparing their schedules resulted in a few surprises. Strategy and Hand to Hand Combat were the only classes all three room-mates shared this year. Skywarp and Starscream were also in the same Flying and Shooting classes, while Starscream and Motormaster were assigned to the same Weapons Theory class and Skywarp and Motormaster shared most of the Science classes. All of them were in different classes in the technical subjects.

"Well, I guess it could be worse." Motormaster finally decided. "At least we're together some of the time."

Srarscream sighed. Somehow she wasn't looking forward to being alone in the sciences and technical subjects. Who'd be her lab partner now?

Her first class of the year was Flying, though and that was still her favourite subject. The class to her surprise consisted of only twelve students, all of them seekers. It looked a little disappointing with the exception of ...

"Clouddipper!" Starscream waved to the green seeker who came over wearing a wide smile.

"Hey, I was hoping you two'd made it." Clouddipper greeted them.

"Hi, where's the rest of the class?" Skywarp asked looking around as if they might appear any time.

"I think that's all there are." Clouddipper answered with a slight shrug. "At least all my classmates from last year are in different classes. Some were even assigned to a different teacher."

Whisperglide showed up only a few minutes later and regarded each of them for a moment before he started to speak. "Welcome to the advanced Flying class. You were chosen for this class because of your speed and agility. It is one of the hardest classes the academy has to offer and I want you to understand from the beginning, that being switched into a lesser class does not mean that you are failing in any way. This class is far ahead of the training schedule for your classmates and I expect peek performance of all students in it, performance that is well ahead of what can normally be asked of a 21 year old. There are currently twelve of you, because that makes it possible to arrange you in permanent triads, but the number of students in this class will always vary over the year. This class will not be slowed down by any problems of one particular student. If I think one of you isn't keeping up, he has to leave, if I think a student from another class might have what it takes, he'll join us. If I do make you leave, that doesn't mean I won't bring you back in once your performance improves again. Understood?"

Advanced Flying class was a lot more difficult than an ordinary Flying lesson, but Starscream hardly noticed. She wouldn't have realized it at all, if Skywarp hadn't had such troubles with some of the turns.

Whisperglide had sent them up in a tight formation with Starscream leading, Clouddipper on her left and Skywarp on her right and kept shouting out orders mostly for changes of direction until Skywarp finally missed a turn completely and shot away from his partners.

"Okay, Skywarp land! Highwind, take his place!" the teacher ordered curtly.

He gave Highwind just enough time to reach his position before he announced the next turn and the new seeker almost missed it as well. He seemed to be better at fast turns than Skywarp, but he wasn't used to the suddenness with which Starscream could lean into a turn and didn't quite manage to keep a steady distance from her during the manoeuvres.

Clouddipper had had similar problems during the first few turns, but had adapted very quickly. He'd soon realized that he needed to focus more on Starscream's movements than on Whisperglide's orders.

Whisperglide frowned a little when he ordered them down and sent up the next group. Once everybody had had their turn he called them all together.

"I know all of you can perform simple turns and that you can fly faster than we practised all of last year." he told the class. "But that also means that you need to be able to perform those turns faster and I need you to remain in formation while you do it. I saw some really good examples of that in the first group, but then Skywarp dropped away from the group. What happened?"

Skywarp shrugged in the way Starscream knew meant he was embarrassed. "Too many commands in quick succession, I guess. I got confused, felt like everything was going too fast and I didn't know where I was going anymore and I just couldn't keep up my concentration."

Whisperglide nodded. "You don't turn as easily as the other two. Starscream and Clouddipper don't pay much attention to the actual turn and are free to concentrate on their positioning. That's why I sent Highwind up instead of Skywarp." he informed the class. "Highwind turns more fluently and I expected him to fit in much better with the group, but the result actually looked worse. They looked completely out of sync, as if they weren't even a formation at all."

Highwind shuffled his feet nervously. "Starscream's much too sudden. He's going straight one moment and the next he's in mid turn. And those turns are too tight as well as too abrupt. Even at that speed he could have eased into the turns more gently."

"But he chose not to, which allowed him to change his position faster." Whisperglide stated. "Starscream was in the lead and therefore the decision was his. You need to follow your leader's decisions even if you don't agree with them."

"Such abrupt manoeuvres are a mistake." Highwind insisted. "They're too risky and a waste of energy."

"They're air battle manoeuvres." Whisperglide stated calmly. "In a fast battle, the longer you stay on a constant, predictable flight path, the higher the risk of being hit. We haven't practised any evasive manoeuvres, yet, but that's no reason to stop Starscream from using them."

"But we weren't practising for air battles up there." argued Highwind.

"Not?" sneered Whisperglide. "If you intend to join the ground troops, you should have said so sooner. I really don't think it's a good career move for a seeker, though. The Decepticon seekers rule the skies. Nobody out-flies them, nobody can stand up to them in the air. This class is meant to teach those that will uphold that tradition. Right now I'm just teaching you to make full use of your flight abilities. Later I will teach you how to use them in battle, at first against an enemy on the ground, but later against other flyers. That is the most difficult kind of battle, but also the true purpose your bodies are designed for. Everything we do here, everything you learn at the academy is just preparation for the moment when you will be out there in the sky fighting for the glory of the empire. That is what it truly means to be a Decepticon. Most Decepticons are flyers, yes, but we are all warriors."

"What about the other castes?" asked one of the other students. "What about those that fail the academy?"

"They never get to realize their true purpose." Whisperglide said sadly. "But their services are needed as well and somebody has to perform them. That is why only the best are chosen to be trained as warriors. Be proud that you were chosen, boys and remember your duty to the empire." He took in their wide eyed looks for a moment, then added "You are dismissed for today and I expect you to perform better in our next lesson. Starscream, Clouddipper, stay! I need to talk to you."

The two seekers exchanged nervous glances. Had they done something wrong?

"As I said, I'll occasionally bring other students into our classes and I also take students from this class into other classes. Clouddipper, I expect you to be here for another Flying class right after lunch break today. Starscream, the third lesson tomorrow. Don't be late." Whisperglide barked at them transformed and shot off into the sky.

"Yes, Sir!" they shouted after him, but it was unclear whether he'd heard them.

Starscream wondered about the additional lessons for a while, but she had other things to worry about as she found most of her classes more challenging than last year. Strategy was the only one that remained as dead boring as ever and she found herself thinking more about how she could possibly get out of taking that class, than about flying on her way to Whisperglide's flight field just before the third lesson on her second day.

She was surprised out of her thoughts when she saw the size of the students waiting there. Those definitely weren't second years. Maybe she'd misunderstood Whisperglide's orders?

But she clearly remembered him telling her to be here for the third lesson today. Maybe there were two classes meeting here for this lesson, or maybe Whisperglide had meant for her to go to another teacher's class, but hadn't trusted her to find her way to the right flight field alone?

"Hey look, Darkwing!" one of the bigger students shouted pointing at her. "It's an ikkle first year!"

"Second year." Starscream frowned at the group of staring almost fully grown students.

"Second year." the corrected student repeated. "My, the tiniest second year, I've ever met. Are you lost little second year?"

"Whisperglide said to be here third lesson today." Starscream glared up at him. "I believe this is the third lesson."

"This is tenth year Advanced Flying, Tiny." declared the one called Darkwing. "In other words no place for you."

"You think you're so tough?" Starscream challenged.

Darkwing grabbed for her, but she dove out of the way and kicked his leg the way that'd usually been successful with Motormaster. Darkwing stumbled, but his friend suddenly grabbed her wing from behind trying to hold her in place. Starscream kicked out backwards and heard an enraged scream, as she managed to duck out of the grip.

She turned to face her opponent only to find that Darkwing had already regained his balance and was coming in from the side. And now she had the rest of the tenth years in her back. Would they attack as well? And even if they didn't, could she handle two battle trained tenth years?

"Attention, please!" Whisperglide's voice rang out from above them as he dove in to make a perfect landing in front of the class.

"Sir, there's a second year here." complained Darkwing's friend.

"Yes, if you count your classmates, you'll find that we're one student short, if we wish to form proper triads, so I went and found you a suitable wingmate." Whisperglide informed him pleasantly.

Darkwing and his friend stared at each other, then at Starscream.

Starscream really hoped this was Whisperglide's idea of a joke. He couldn't really expect her to fly with those two monsters, right?

Wrong, he'd meant it.

"Since you're volunteering so nicely, Hawkwing," Whisperglide continued. "I'll let you go up first today. Starscream, you take his left side, Darkwing the right."

Well, at least she wasn't between them. That should give her a good chance to get away should they decide to attack her again.

"Start with a series of attack runs on our position. Remember that you will need to come in in such a way that you can use both your main weapons against us at any time and that we're shooting back." the teacher ordered.

Starscream did a quick double-check, but none of the students were armed and Whisperglide hadn't lifted his weapons. It appeared he'd only meant for them to pretend this was a fire-fight.

Hawkwing started out fast, probably faster than he was normally used to, threw himself into a fast turn and dove in on the group of students gathered below. He pulled up long before he had to, in Starscream's opinion, and rose up high, then came back down in a steep dive. The turn however proved that Starscream was still there right by his wing.

Hawkwing growled softly to himself. A second year wasn't supposed to be able to do this! Just to make sure he rolled onto his backside flying upside down, but that slagging second year was still following his movements perfectly.

"That roll was unnecessary." Whisperglide's voice promptly came out of his radio. "You're still too high to be in our weapons range."

Starscream meanwhile was really enjoying herself. This was much better than the boring flight manouvres from her first year! The air rushed past her hilariously and she could really imagine attacking a bunch of Autobot invaders like this. Hawkwing's little challenges just served to make it all more interesting.

"Split up to attack individually!" Whisperglide announced a few runs later as they were starting to pull up once again.

Starscream smiled to herself and let herself drift outwards in a spiral instead of going through with the upward manoeuvre. She circled the group of mechs on the ground once while the other two were once again rising up, then speeded away levelly as they came back down from different sides. She went through a half looping coming out lying on her back, then rolled sidewards until she was right side up again.

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