Stolen Virtue
By: Sinead

Author's Note: This isn't my typical romance-type story. Well, it wasn't at first. And as a forewarning, it is about rape, and about the aftereffects of what one character has to go through while healing the body, mind, and soul from such a violent injustice. Just something that my own mind ended up thinking about one day. I guess that it kinda cures the writer's block that I've been having lately. Scary, ne?

Updated Note: I'm editing this and reposting it. I will make note of which part is edited, and what is completed. Even though this story is well over three years old, it still remains to be one of my own personal favorites.

Part One: It Begins


The nine companions had been wandering for days. Their feet were sore, their eyes weary from always being on the watch, their nerves shattered and shuddering from the strain of not being in a situation as they had found themselves in. Some understood this kind of circumstance, but it was their first time experiencing living in the wilderness, and living off of the wilderness. Fortunately, they had been able to catch some game, so they weren't hungry.

"This landscape sucks. It's all rocks and dirt."

"Yes, Dannn, we know."

"It smells, too."

"Yes, Dannn, we know."

"Can we go home now?" the three boys wailed, half in attempt to lighten the mood.

The remainder of the companions, six girls, only blinked at them in frustration. This had been the third time that Dannn, Skyfire, and Sharpshot had brought this certain conversation up. Miss Special growled in irritation, then threw her hands up and stalked off in the direction that they had been traveling towards. Sapphire and Starath shared a look, then followed her. Neither wanted to deal with the opposite gender after the recent few spats. Nurannoniel quickly followed those two, while Lady Venom and Sinead jointly sighed after sharing a look. The former spoke first. "Guys, we have absolutely no choice in this. First off, we don't know where we are. You remember that point that Starath made?"

Something glinted, catching Sinead's eye, and she walked towards it, leaving her friend to take care of the small situation. Lady Venom continued. "So we're heading south. Hopefully there'll be some sort of–"

Sinead's guttural yell of shock cut her off. "Uuoh!"

Everyone turned, while Sapphire and Starath each drew a dagger, running towards their current rear guard, already into a fight-or-flight adrenaline rush. "What is it?!"

One word was uttered by Lady Venom as she pointed to the metal with her long, thin finger. "Look."

It was a piece of metal, roughly a foot long and red in color. Sinead reached out and brushed her fingers along it, then shuddered and pulled her hand back sharply. "I don't like the looks of this, guys. And it doesn't feel right."

"It's a piece of metal. So that means we're around civilization!" Sharpshot cried out in glee.

Lady Venom picked the metal up then turned it over, exposing wiring clinging to the underside of it. Her eyebrows shot up, as did Nurannoniel's, who was standing beside her. "Really."

"Woah . . ." Starath breathed, looking closer. "That's not human-made."

There was something else on the top of it, Lady Venom realized, an engraving, but crusted and caked in dried mud. Pulling out a pocket-knife, she roughly cleaned it, causing shivers to run up everyone's spines at the rasping of metal-on-metal. The nine authors stared at the insignia glaring up at them. Nurannoniel sighed. "Great. Who did this belong to, you think?"

"Dunno. But whoever he was, he most likely wasn't happy about getting this ripped off," Skyfire observed, seeing another piece of metal. It was strewn partially across the small clearing, and easy to get to. Picking it up and wiping it off on his jeans, he brought it over to Sapphire, as both recognized the patterning and coloration of the odd, unearthly metal. "Rattrap was here. And there's a partial scorch-mark on the edge of Mystery-Man's arm, so explosives were used. I'd say that he got out alive, both of them."

Lady Venom was still staring at the arm. "Two Predacons have red coloring. Three, including Terrorsaur. We've seen signs of the Quantum surge passing, so this is the second season . . . hopefully we're not too far into it."

Miss Special locked her eyes upon Lady Venom's. "Yeah. That leaves either Ferny or Rampy as being the owner of this. You wanna return it, or shall I?" she quipped, an ironic half-grin hiking the side of her mouth up.

"As much as I'd like to meet him, I'd have to say that I'll skip out on handing this back to Rampage."

Dannn looked at Sinead, whose silence in this conversation had a bit of an edge upon it. "'Nead? Something wrong?"

She nodded. "I followed a few tracks. Both of them had been knocked out by the blast. Both were dragged in one direction."

There was silence.

"Wegotta help Rattrap," Sapphire said, clutching the small piece of Cybertronian armoring to her chest.

Sinead shook her head. "Don't get worried, Sapphire. I'm going to follow the tracks a little further, and then come back here. If they were both taken by one faction or the other, I'll soon know. If they split up, then maybe they're back with their respective sides."

"Unless there's a prisoner exchange," Starath piped up.

Sinead shook her head. "Megatron would let Rampy wreak havoc upon the Maximal base any day. Why pass up an opportunity to do so?"

Silence reigned for another five minutes. Just as Miss Special was about to open her mouth, however, a distant scream rent the air.

Nine heads snapped in the direction of the scream. Sinead was the first to shake off the paralysis that comes from shock, and grabbed Miss Special's arm. "Cover the back! Make sure that we don't get snuck up on!"

Miss Special hefted her evil-looking crossbow up into a ready position, grinning wickedly. "Way ahead of you."


The bot's chest heaved. Lances of pain edged around every movement, and they weren't finished with him yet. Not by far. He knew that it would be long and painful for him, but he hadn't expected for it to be drawn out quite so far.

"Oh, dear," a nasally, quivering voice hissed. "I fear we've worn him out, haven't we, mighty Megatron?"

Unable to activate his optics in the bright lighting of the torture chamber, the Maximal heard the oily, smooth voice of his captor. "I'm afraid so, Tarantulus, yes. We'll finish this later on tonight, Maximal, and never you forget that." A chuckle sent shudders down the spine of the captive. "At least, I'll be back to finish this. Or Rampage. Sweet dreams . . . yes, indeed."

The door slammed shut, sending pain shooting through his head. Unexpectedly, the lights shut off, and Rampage's voice was heard through the now-locked door. "Believe me . . . he'll not touch you tonight until I am finished with my fun with you."

Letting himself activate his optics, the Maximal looked up at the ceiling. Pain was his world; pain and darkness was all that he could feel. He was spread-eagled upon his back on a table, tied down at the wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. They had not restricted his chest, otherwise there was a chance that with what one of the torture methods were, the bond would have been accidentally cut.

He forced himself to look down at himself, memorizing the already-scarring wounds, the rivulets of mech-fluid seeping out of his body. His battle armor, which every Cybertronian wore now that the war was always throwing the unexpected at both side, had been ripped off of him the moment he had been brought into this room, and there it was in the far corner. But there was no way that he could get to it. He couldn't even walk. The pain was too great . . .


He shut his optics off, slamming his head to the left, refusing to look at himself any longer. But closing his eyes would not stop the memories from rising to the surface. Megatron's face leering above him, Tarantulus' snickers as the spider had cut him while he did unmentionable horrors to the Maximal hostage . . . and then there was Rampage's giggles of glee as each whimper and scream was brought forth as every new burst of pain blossomed deep within the Maximal's body.

Tears of hopelessness fell.


Sinead slowed to a walk, seeing something that greatly resembled a small war zone. The other authors were watching as well. Miss Special touched an old tree, feeling the ashes slough off upon her fingers. "Inferno was here at one point."

"So were two others, both Maximals," Skyfire replied, pointing at two new pairs of tracks, coming from a new direction. He crouched down, blinking at some disturbances in what had been mud at one point, then asked, "What are these?"

Starath peered overt his shoulder, then crouched closer, her face less than a foot away from the footprint. "That's like a . . . crap! That's a Velociraptor foot!"

She put her hand down next to the print for reference as Sinead joined the duo. She frowned, then estimated the size. "Eight, nine inches? Can't be Velociraptor. Utahraptor, maybe."

"We've had this debate before, you know,"Starath said teasingly.

Sinead grinned, then eyed the clearing. She wanted to recreate what the battle had been like. They had done this before, which was leading them to where they now were. "Try not to step on anything, please?"

Dannn pointed to the ground, keeping off of the tracks, unlike the time before. "The bigger dude was dragged off this way."

"Yeah," Nurannoniel said from another part of the small clearing, having followed a set out to one side. "But the smaller person was carried, it looks like. And then whose footprints are these?"

Sapphire and Sinead walked over to the Elven-named author who was looking at two sets of footprints, walking between one and another with quick, small steps. Sapphire looked at the sword-toting girl next to her. "Sinead, put your foot next to it."

Sinead complied, and her face paled as a realization hit her. She studied the size of the print, then looked up at the half-cloudy sky while envisioning rough proportions. "I guess Dinobot's no seven-footer. By the looks of this, he has to be about nine. Eight, at the very least."

Sapphire nodded. Nurannoniel pointed to where a drag-marks were heading. "He went with them."

Miss Special and Sapphire looked at each other. The American started the recreation. "'Kay. So. Preds are dragging one of theirs and a hostage off to their base."

"Maximals intervene from that direction . . . Dinobot and one other."

"Silverbolt," Lady Venom called out, holding up a handful of feathers. "He got shot, but not badly. He walked off in that direction."

"So they battled," Sharpshot added in. "And Dinobot was taken."

Sinead shook her head. "No. By the looks of the way he had been walking, he gave himself up so that Rattrap would get back to the Maximals. He gave himself in exchange."

Cries of, "That's insane!" "What was he thinking?!" Why would he do that?!" sprung up from the group. Sinead's eyes darkened into near-violet, as she looked at the trail that lead towards the Predacon base. "He did that because Rattrap was already injured. He did that so that the Predacons wouldn't follow Rattrap and Silverbolt back to the Maximal base. I'm going after his trail, see if there's anything that can be done."

"Not alone!" Starath snapped, her own blue eyes darkening in anger.

"Most definitely not," Sharpshot added, crouching to pull out his rifle, loading it swiftly. "Let's go. I'll take point this time. Miss Special, you're behind me, then it's Sinead, Sapphire, Starath, Dannn, Nurann, Lady V, and Skyfire, you take rear guard."

They fell into a staggered line, following the sharpshooter.


Rattrap looked at Optimus and Rhinox. They were in Predacon territory, within sight of the base, but not close enough to send off perimeter alarms. "We hafta get him! You heard 'im, Optimus!"

Rhinox sighed. "Rattrap's right. We have to act soon."

Cheetor was already shaking. He never thought that he would have lived to hear Dinobot's voice howl as agonizingly as it did not fifteen minutes past. He never wanted to hear it like that again. He felt hands rest upon his shoulders, and he turned to see . . . humans? Three had walked up behind him, all with the intent to comfort. He could only blink and nod his thanks while he rebooted his vocoder. "Who are you?"

All optics turned upon the small group. A slender girl with a broadsword walked forward. "We're helping."

"I don't think so," Optimus fairly growled. He was already stressed out enough with this situation. The adding of humans into the mix didn't do any good. "Dinobot's my responsibility. And who the slag are you?!"

"Sinead," came the calm reply. "And don't you tell me what to do. You're not my leader. I'm choosing to go in, but I'll not ruin any surprise that you might have in store for the Preds."

Sapphire and Miss Special came up beside their friend, each with their respective shortsword easy in its scabbard and crossbow ready to fight. Miss Special spoke first. "'Nead and Sharpshot over there picked the trail up about a mile back. How long has he been in there?"

"Four days," Rattrap croaked out. "Four days of patching into his comm only to hear him scream. He shoulda let me go with dem. I don't even know what dey're doin' t' him."

Sinead snorted. "Snap out of it. Stop your pity-party. We're here to help with a rescue mission, not get all sappy because someone decided to put their life on the line for a comrade! Now you tell us the plan, and we'll work around it, Primal." She was frustrated, tired, grimy, and wanted nothing more than to have an uninterrupted sleep that lasted more than even five hours. Right now, that was how everyone was feeling. Sinead just wasn't dealing with it well.

Starath walked up to Rattrap, standing just out of arm's length of the shortest Maximal. "No matter what, though, we'll need your help. You're the closest to him, aren't you?"

Rattrap nodded hesitantly. Sapphire smiled, then reached up to rest her hand upon his head. "You'll be fine, and so will he if we have anything to say about it."

Rhinox looked over the group of nine. "Optimus, I'd let them."


The technician indicated the group that he had been watching intently while they had set up a very discreet perimeter around the Maximals. "They're armed, they look as if they know how to use those weapons . . . let them do so."

Optimus sighed. "Cheetor? Silverbolt?"

The two Maximals nodded simultaneously. Optimus nodded in return. "Thought so. Right. Distract them from the front, give Rattrap and Cheetor enough time to get in the back and get Dinobot out. That simple."

Sinead drew a dagger, and drew a rough sketch in the dirt by their feet. "Have Cheetor help with the frontal assault. Rattrap, from what the battle site showed, was pretty torn up. Perhaps he would still be in a CR chamber?"

"Hm. Possibly. The Predacons . . . How do you know about CR chambers?"

Everyone ignored his question. Sapphire took her own dagger out, and made three Xs around the front of the Predacon base. "Sharpshot, Miss Special, and Skyfire, you three here, here, and here. Quibble about who gets where later."

Lady Venom was already strapping on her gloves with their unbreakable metal nails, making sure to secure them around her lower arms so as to add in support. She tapped the ends together with metallic tings, and grinned evilly. "I'm helping with frontal assault?"

Sinead and Sapphire jointly nodded, silent. Clearing her throat, Sapphire said, "Everyone else, you know your specialties, you divvy up who wants to go where."

Starath started charging up the sleeve that allowed her to discharge large amounts of energon-laced energy at her opponents. It was her main weapon, while the sword was her secondary. "I want to go inside."

Sinead shook her head, pulling her short hair up into a small ponytail. "You have a projectile weapon that can be used for long-distance. Me and Sapph are the only two who have close combat weaponry and nothing better to do than sit on our thumbs out here. We'd be liabilities to you guys unless things get messy out here and close combat is inevitable."

The strawberry-blonde seemed disappointed, but she covered it well with a lopsided grin. "Well, can't be ruining the decor, now can I?"

"Sure you can!" Skyfire said cheerfully, hefting both shotguns up to point at the sky. "Just say that you were aiming at that fat so-and-so that was really running back inside!"

The humans chuckled in desperation, feeling almost a queasy nervousness start to rise to the surface. Sinead looked at Optimus. "When do you plan upon putting this all into motion?"

The three cover-shooters started a game of rocks-paper-scissors for who would get the first pick of position. Optimus watched them for a moment, then replied, "Once you and your crew are ready." He paused. "You sure that you want to go in?"

Sinead nodded. "I want to get him out as badly as you do."


Neither Sinead nor Sapphire had an answer that would satisfy the Maximal leader. Both stayed silent. A cuss was heard, and Sharpshot walked over to join Sinead and Sapphire. He rested an arm around each of their waists. "Now what're two good-lookin' girls like you doing with faces like those?"

Sinead laughed, and pushed him away. "You flirt!"

"So tell me!"

Sapphire laughed, and then shook her head. "Maybe later. And would you get your arm off of me?"

"Ah. Right."


"Anytime, Sapph!"

Sinead smiled. Rhinox noticed something about the eyes of both her and Sapphire. Some sort of pain had been dealt out to them. Most of these authors had this pain around their eyes when they thought that nobody was looking. It was a haunted look of wariness that meant more than words could say. Sinead caught his gaze, returning it calmly, openly, steadily. She allowed him to see the pain as it really was, not filtering it, not hesitating to show it to him.

Rhinox murmured just loud enough for her to hear, "What is it that makes your eyes look so lost?"

Smiling sadly, the warrior replied, "You'll know when all this is over. I'll tell you about my story once everything is said and done. You have but to ask."

Rhinox nodded, and they heard Miss Special crow in jubilation. "I get the right side, closest to the door!"

Skyfire grinned. "I get left, so that means that Sharpshot gets his head-on view!"

Sharpshot groaned. "I hate losing."


Dinobot heard the dark laughter just before the lights snapped on, nearly blinding him. Megatron leaned over his once-comrade, and said smoothly, "I had said that I would be back, now didn't I?"

The ex-Predacon didn't answer. Megatron dug his hand into Dinobot's lower abdomen, ripping open half-healed wounds. The gasp of pain caused the tyrant to smirk, yet his voice was still cold. "Answer me."

Dinobot's vision was starting to black out, but he hissed through the inviting velvet veil of warm darkness, "You said so."

Megatron released him unexpectedly, causing a hissed, pained whimper as his hand came free. "Deny me my answers, and there will be only more pain in store for you. Now. I believe that I'll let Rampage deal with you tonight. After all . . . you were impudent towards me already. And with him working with you, you'll feel . . . all the more punishment for your crimes, yes."

"Go eat . . . your own . . . slag . . . and die," Dinobot hissed, glaring as best as he could at Megatron. He didn't even know where the strength to defy someone came from anymore.

Rampage towered behind the overlord, emerald optics glinting in amusement and anticipation. "Scream, Dinobot. I want to hear you scream."

The Maximal shrunk back against the table as best as he could. On the first day, he could keep the fear from showing on his face and body. On the second, he couldn't. Not even four hours into the second day, and they had broken him nearly completely with one act of torture. One act of violation that completely ripped Dinobot's whole sense of being to shreds.

And it was Rampage who had done so.

"No, Primus, no! Don't let him near me again!"

Megatron's condescending smirk caused Dinobot to quiver both inside and out. The Predacon's voice was deceptively soothing. "I'll leave you two alone to . . . resolve a few issues, yes? Ta-ta, Dinobot, see you tomorrow morning, bright and early!"

The door shut after his retreating back. Rampage advanced, only to reach out and graze his fingertips against Dinobot's metal-skinned arm. "Aah, you've been a pleasure to work with."

"Matrix, don't . . ."

"Aah, afraid that I have to, Dinobot! Orders are orders, you simply must understand."

Rampage leaned over the Maximal, hands already where they shouldn't have been. Pain flared through Dinobot in a blistering wave. His tormentor snickered as Dinobot whimpered, unable to scream anymore. "Dinobot, Dinobot, Dinobot . . . see what treachery will get you? Ooh, and I'm not done with you yet . . ."

The base shook, causing Rampage to over-balance and land with his elbow upon Dinobot's sternum. The Maximal spat mech-fluid up, as Rampage's comm activated. "Megatron to Rampage! Get out there!"

Growling to himself, the crab opened the door and left, slamming it shut behind him. "What now?!"

The voices faded off. Dinobot trembled.


Rattrap peeked into the hallway. "Clear."

Sapphire sprinted for a few feet, European throwing knives ready to be thrown in her left hand, her right hand gripped around her sword-hilt. She looked around the next corner, then nodded. "Clear."

Sinead walked down the hall, broadsword in the scabbard upon her back, katana and wakizashi drawn and glittering in the dim lighting of the Predacon base. She was the only one with such an amount of serious, bladed weaponry/ She paused at each door, listening, then stopped at one about halfway down the hall. Sheathing both swords, she touched the door, then opened it. Rattrap was right behind her. Both saw the same thing at the same time. Crimson optics locked upon storm-blue eyes.


"Sapph, guard the door," Sinead replied, looking away, embarrassment covering shock. "Please."

Sapphire didn't look into the room, but she saw the looks upon both Sinead's and Rattrap's faces. She nodded. Sinead closed the door partially behind her as Rattrap walked up to Dinobot and started to reach out to him. Dinobot shrank back. His voice was weak, trembling . . . it was everything that Dinobot wasn't. "Don't touch me."

Sinead was careful to keep her eyes on appropriate places as she walked up to Rattrap and Dinobot. "We can't get you out if we can't touch you."

"No. Rattrap, forgive me, but please . . . don't . . . don't touch me."

Sinead immediately saw the pain in his optics. "Oh . . . oh, no . . ." She turned and kicked the first thing in sight, which happened to be an upturned metal bucket, yelling her rage. "Bloody idiots! Aah!" The bucket hit the wall, and landed by the pile of Dinobot's armor. "Rattrap."

"See it."

"I'll get him free."


Still fuming too much to answer, she drew the wakizashi, careful not to let Dinobot see it, even if the sound of the blade being drawn was obvious, and popped the bond upon his right wrist off by wedging the tip into the hinge and pushing at just so of an angle. "Like that, maybe?"

Rattrap nodded and went to the armor. Dinobot's hand gripped Sinead's left wrist. His face was trying to tell her something, but she couldn't read what his optics were trying to convey. Sapphire ran into the room, not even glancing at Dinobot. Instead, she hissed to Rattrap. "Rampage's coming."

Sinead swiftly pressed her palm against Dinobot's mouth, stifling an involuntary whimper. She now knew one of the culprits behind the breaking of this warrior. "Hush. We'll not let him touch you again."

Rattrap drew his pistol and crouched by the door. Sinead looked at Sapphire, a slightly-defeated look upon her face. "Maybe we should have let Starath come after all."

Sapphire nodded silently.

Rampage entered the room and saw the two humans. "What's this?" Sinead's devilish grin caused Rampage to blink at her. "Oho. You're bloodthirsty, aren't you, human?"

"Only for one thing," Sinead hissed through gritted teeth, a not-quite-sane grin upon her face.

"Oh? I wonder what that would be now, hm? Want to have your turn at the captive?"

Rattrap shot him in the knees, but Rampage still managed to bat Sinead upwards and against the ceiling as he fell. She landed upon Dinobot, but rolled off to the other side of the table quickly, glad that all three swords were locked in their sheaths. However, the broadsword scabbard across her shoulders had dug into her back, and she felt at least bruises already forming. Thankfully, nothing felt broken, which occurred to the slightly-older of the two women in the room to be very odd. Rampage could have killed her without a thought with that motion. Sinead pulled the broadsword out, hearing Sapphire fight alongside Rattrap, who was calling for reinforcements if possible. The answer from Optimus was that there wasn't time or people to spare.

Dinobot was coughing from her sudden fall onto his already-beaten chest, but Sinead had to ignore it as she vaulted over the table, pausing just long enough to shove the sword halfway to the hilt through Rampage's forehead. With a grunt, she twisted it in such a manner that his neck was put in an awkward position. Sapphire immediately took the opportunity, and with one clean swipe, severed the Predacon's head from his body. Sinead managed to get his head off of her sword, and then dumped it into one of the drawers under the table. Sapphire was trembling.

"Sinead, is he dead?"

"Don't ask questions, and don't think about it," Sinead said quickly, sheathing the broadsword while drawing the wakizashi to finish cutting Dinobot's bonds. Sapphire went to help her silently. Rattrap brought over only the armor that was needed the most, holding it as Sapphire cut the last bond. Dinobot curled on his side, but Sinead jumped onto the table, and crouched by his head. "Look, you don't want us to touch you, and I get that, but we have to get you out of here somehow. Your legs look like crap."

He swallowed, and whispered, "That's not the reason why I can't walk, human."

Sinead' face flared scarlet. Her voice was soft. "I know. But you can't stay here, and we both know that. Sit up."

"I don't know if . . ."

"Then let Rattrap help you. Can't you trust him?" They couldn't afford to deliberate over anything right now.

Dinobot looked at Rattrap, then nodded slowly. "Yes . . . yes, I can trust him."

Rattrap helped his comrade sit up, while Sinead and Sapphire turned away, giving him as much privacy as they could. The shorter female was tapping Rampage's shoulder sassily. Rattrap cursed colorfully, causing Sinead to turn away from her poking of the inanimate body. "What now?"

"Choppuhface, you'd better be light enough for her t' help you walk out."

Dinobot nodded, then shivered. Rattrap popped another drawer open, and another, until he found a blanket. He draped that around Dinobot, who was still watching Sinead. She turned back around, while Rattrap helped Dinobot into only the most necessary parts of his armor.

Then the pain hit.

With a grunt, Sinead hit the buckle of the broadsword, letting it fall to the floor as she knelt. Immediately, she felt her shirt start to pull away from a sticky back. She sighed. "Oh, just what I need."

Sapphire blinked at Sinead's back. "You're really bleeding, you know."

"Deal with it," Sinead hissed. She winced, then rubbed her face in her hands. "Sapphire, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap at you."

The other young woman picked the broadsword up to buckle it over one shoulder. "I know. I'll carry this. You help Rattrap and Dinobot."

They were watching her. She stood, trying not to move her back too much, then walked over to them, the three steps that it was. Dinobot looked away, then started to let himself slide over the edge of the table, so that he could rest his feet upon the floor. The moment he let go of the table, he collapsed. Sinead dashed closer to his face, and then covered his mouth again as he cried out. She pulled her hand away, and whispered, "We don't know how much time we have left. You have to stand, Dinobot. You have to get up, and you have to help us get you out of here."

His gaze broke Sinead's heart. Her shoulders fell, and she whispered, "Please."

Nodding, swallowing his nervousness, Dinobot stood with a laborious effort. Rattrap was upon his right side, lending shoulders to lean upon. Sinead took his left side, and said, "Sapph, scout please?"

"Yeah," she whispered, turning and opening the door. They followed her out.


Optimus looked from one human to another, as they battled. Starath was beside him, panting, letting the sleeve recharge. "Blasted thing. Do you see them yet?"

The Maximal shook his head. "Not yet."

She sighed, then heard the readying hum reach the pitch it was supposed to be at. Whirling out from behind the rock, she shot three rapid-fire blasts at Inferno and crouched back down. He yelled out in anger, and left his chest open for the shot. Sharpshot smirked and reloaded his sniper rifle. Then, from his high perch, he saw three . . . four figures! He grinned, and said down to Rhinox, "There they are! Near the other side!"

Rhinox nodded, and yelled, "Optimus!"

The Maximal leader stood, yelling, "Full retreat! Move!"

Megatron stopped his minions from firing as the Maximals ran off. After a few more moments of silence, and once his enemies were mere dots, and then nothing, he speculated aloud, "And I wonder what that retreat was about, yes. They would not have left without Dinobot."

He turned and walked back into the base. "Rattrap was scrapped. I saw to that personally. He is still recovering, it seems. And those humans were under command of Primal. Or were they?" He reached the torture chamber, and paused. Surely Rampage would have started by now. Dinobot should be screaming with every breath.

He opened the door, and saw the still body of the immortal crab. Then he looked up, and saw the empty table. With a roar of rage, he crushed the sides of the doorframe.


Rattrap led them the fastest way back to the Maximal base. Dinobot was hanging on, but just barely. His voice portrayed that, as they took a brief rest. "Why did you come after me?"

Sapphire looked at Rattrap, then returned her eyes to Dinobot. She whispered, "I could never leave someone in the kind of place that you were in. Rattrap and the Maximals have the same view, and so our goals were the same."

The very rat was leaning against a tree, resting. His optics were closed, his head leaned back against the bark. "Yeah. Besides. You're no good if you're dead."

Sinead was on her side, asleep for the moment. Sapphire winced as she saw the bloodstains on her friend's shirt, but it looked to have stopped bleeding for the moment. "I hope that isn't too bad."

The Transmetal sighed, activating his optics to look at the human woman before him. "Da fact dat she's still alive, not t' mentionwalkin', is somethin' of a miracle."

"The sword took most of the hit," Sapphire said.

Rattrap nodded, and reached over to rest his hand upon Sinead's shoulder. "Hey. No sleepin' too– Boss Monkey!"

Sinead sat up with a start, then yelped as sore parts moved and scabs reopened. She saw Optimus before her. He was watching the four of them silently for a moment, before saying, "Need help?"

The two humans shook their heads. Rattrap looked at Dinobot, who was half-asleep against a tree. "Choppuhface."

The warrior blinked slowly at Rattrap, not speaking.

"Need a lift back home?"

"Home . . ." Dinobot sighed. That meant someone would he touching him. Someone other than a human, who couldn't hurt him, or Rattrap, whom he trusted. For the moment. "No. I'll walk."

Sinead watched the warrior warily for a moment, before saying, "You sure?"


Optimus nodded, understanding. "Then I'll walk back with you."

Sapphire stood, then helped Sinead stand. The Maximal leader caught sight of her bloodied back and cursed silently. "What happened?"

"Rampage knocked me up into the ceiling," Sinead replied, straightening her stance. "Nothing too serious. It's stopped bleeding for the most part."

"Rattrap, you get her back to the base, now. She has to get that seen to." The leader snapped a look to his spy and second in command, one that said that there should have been a more detailed report of what had happened in the Predacon base when they had checked in right after leaving.

Sinead shook her head, waving a hand dismissively. "I'll be fine. I've walked this far, and we haven't far to go from what Rattrap has said."

Optimus stared at her for a moment. Who did she think she was? Another Dinobot, only human, female, and smaller? "No, I'll not tolerate that. You get back to the base before you injure yourself more."

"I told you, I'll be fine."

"Rattrap, bring her back. That's an order."

"Orders be slagged, Primal," a weak growling voice proclaimed. Optimus looked to Dinobot, who was trying to stand on his own. The tall bot held onto the tree, still holding the blanket around his shoulders tightly with one hand. "Let her stay. Let her do as she wishes."

"Dinobot, you're hardly in any position to advise me on–"

Crimson optics dimmed. He sagged against the tree again, then wobbled. Sinead and Rattrap caught him before he fell. His free hand gripped around Sinead's shoulders, as she locked her arms around his waist as far as they could go. Then he passed out completely. Optimus took Sinead's side and picked Dinobot up as gently as he could. The blanket slipped slightly, revealing part of the ex-Predacon's lacerated chest. Optimus looked from one warrior to the other. "How bad is it."

Sinead looked down. "Dunno, exactly. But he didn't even want Rattrap touching him when we found him. With what he looks like, we don't blame him."

"He needs to be seen to."

Rattrap shook his head. "He wakes up in da middle o' Rhinox examining him . . . I dunno what he'll do, except it ain't gonna be pretty."

Optimus nodded, and knew that he was going to let Rhinox know not to do anything without Dinobot's express permission. "Get back to the base as quickly as you can. He'll be in the sick bay."


Nurannoniel paced. Optimus had come in with Dinobot a half hour before, clearly stating that the wounded Maximal was not to be disturbed in any way. So the humans were in the command center, waiting silently.

The lift dropped, and all eyes were upon it. Rattrap, Sapphire, and Sinead were upon it when it returned. Nurannoniel wrapped her arms around both of them, causing an answering hug from Sapphire, and a yelp from Sinead. She turned, so that they saw her back. "I gotta get this cleaned up."

Lady Venom and Miss Special chorused different and quite strongly worded versions of "What happened?!"

Sinead explained the part about Rampage finding them, but nothing else. Sapphire added, "So where's Rhinox?"

"Sick bay with Dinobot and Optimus," Skyfire replied, watching Sinead carefully.

The girl wavered, gripped Rattrap's arm, and steadied herself. Her vision had blurred for a moment, which she knew to be a bad thing. "I think I lost a little more blood than I thought I did. Not good."

Silently, Starath carefully supported Sinead, bringing her down one of the halls. They had gotten a brief tour of the base from Silverbolt while they had been waiting. Dannn and Sharpshot looked to Sapphire. The sniper spoke first. "What really happened out there?"

She sat, and accepted a cup of warm something from Miss Special. "Dinobot was tortured badly. I have a very bad feeling about it, though."

"Why?" Dannn asked.

Sapphire's gaze was mournful, and she looked down at the mug in her hands. "Because I think that this torture wasn't just physical."


Rhinox opened the door, saw Sinead, and smiled tightly, lifting her carefully to carry her to a bed. In that short moment, he felt her curl up slightly, snuggling into his arms. Nevertheless, the technician and medic had to be firm once she was sitting upon the side of the berth. "Shirt off. Now."

Starath and Sinead both stared at him.

"You do it, or I do it for you."

"No 'please'?" Sinead grumbled, folding her arms across her stomach.

He chuckled, relieved that she was at least quipping back at him, and nodded, touching her shoulder with two large fingers. "Please?"

Smiling at his gentle chuckle, Sinead took her katana and wakizashi out from her belt that went around the large shirt, then rested them upon the bed next to her. She undid the belt, carefully peeled the shirt from her back, pulled it over her head, but kept it pinned to her chest. Rhinox frowned at a strap. "What's this?"

"Oh. My bra."

"What . . . ? No, I don't want to know. It's stuck to the wound, whatever the Pit it is."

A soft groan came from where Dinobot was on his own bed. "Sinead . . . ?"

"I'm here. To your right."

He turned his head slowly, and then blinked at her. She smiled, and felt something rip away with the back of her undergarment. Wincing and yelp-grunting with pain, she straightened her back slightly more. Starath walked over to behind her, then said, "'Nead, your back looks nasty."

"Thanks. I needed to hear that. Owowow! Hey!"

Starath tugged on the strands of hair again, then said, "You're really grouchy when you lose blood and are running on four hours of sleep, you know that?"

"Thanks for your enlightenment," Sinead replied sarcastically. "Any other news?"

Starath laughed and leaned against the just-above-table height medical bed. "Nah, I'm all out. But we're never letting you take Graveyard shift for watch again. That's a promise. You're plain evil."

Sinead smiled and released one arm from holding the shirt to her chest to ruffle Starath's hair clumsily. Noticing this, she raised her hand to her face, and saw it shaking worse than she would have thought. A small "oh," escaped her before everything went black.


Lady Venom sighed. "So she collapsed."


"Because of blood loss."

"Correct again."

"And she didn't let herself be brought back to the base, why?"

Rattrap shrugged. "She's stubborn, is my best guess."

Eight humans just blinked at him, and a collective "Duh" was aimed at the bot. Miss Special looked away first. "Right. So. Where is she, again?"

Silverbolt smiled, happy to be giving them information about their wounded friend. "In the sick bay, and completely out to the world."

"Rhinox drugged her up?"

"Nah, she didn't need it," Rattrap said, grinning. "But I wouldn't get on her case about goin' beyond 'er limits. She knew what she was doin', an' she knew that she'd end up payin' for it later."

"But she didn't expect to faint in front of Dinobot," Rhinox's chuckling voice added in as he walked into the small meeting in the command center. "He nearly went berserker on me, which is normal. She helped save him, and to see her so weak afterwards didn't bode well for his mental state."

Starath grinned. "I had to tell him that she was fine. It took him almost ten minutes to calm down enough to hear what I was saying."

Miss Special shook her head, smirking. "Raptors have thick skulls."

"Sinead's a prime example, then!" Dannn piped up, causing the authors to chuckle. Rattrap looked up at his large, green friend, exchanging the look of comprehension dawning. So that girl in there had a similar kind of mentality as Dinobot.

Rhinox indicated the second hall. "Your quarters are set. Guys are in one room, girls are in the room across the hall from them. Cheetor will show you where you'll be staying." They stood, and he blinked. "Oh. And don't worry about Sinead, she's sleeping fine. I don't expect her to be up before noon tomorrow at the very earliest, and so I don't want you peeking in just to make sure that she's doin' okay. Believe me, she is. I'll be keeping a watch over those two."

They nodded and left. Rhinox smiled after their backs, then turned on a small screen, watching as the two wounded slept.