Author's note: This is my first fanfic in a very, very long time and a long time since I've written anything. This story takes place during and after TFTM and features my Autobot femme character Flamestrike. Crystal Shekeira is kindly writing the precursor to this story in "Logical Arrival." The music mentioned at the top of each chapter is music that inspired me to write the scene, or that I was listening to while writing. I do like comments and constructive criticism, but be aware, I'm writing as a hobby and to get these stories out of my head before I'm subsumed. :-)

Legal stuff: Transformers et. al. are copyright to Hasbro and are not mine in any way. The character Flamestrike, however, is my intellectual property. Solarflare belongs to Crystal Shekeira.

Gorecki Symphony #3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs"

"C'mon, Trailbreaker, I want to try and get back before the shuttle lands. You know they're due in today," muttered Flamestrike as her green optics scanned the Southeastern horizon. She was practically hovering in anticipation. A dry chuckle was her only answer. When she turned impatiently towards the tall black mech, he finally gave his last farewell to the commanding General and both Autobots transformed, moving towards the front gate of the Army post. Upbeat marches provided by the Army band followed them out and closed the (seemingly endless) ceremony to celebrate another successful training exercise.

After moving the ever-increasing population of Autobots to Lookout Mountain in Tennessee; they, Flamestrike in particular, developed a good relationship with the Army Soldiers at Fort Campbell. Every once in a while they'd take a small group up to the home of the 101st Division "Screaming Eagles" to help train the Soldiers in their warrior tasks. Usually Flamestrike went with her bondmate Prowl, or Hound, but nearly all of the Autobots found themselves involved in the exercises held on the post at one time or another. Flamestrike admired the tenacity of the Soldiers and took a fiendish delight in their "field exercises" playing Deception infiltrator, defending Autobot, or any number of other tasks the exercise planners asked her to do. As the most frequent participant of the wargame exercises, and partially because of her alt-mode's gryphon form, she had been adopted as the new "unofficial mascot" to the 101st. Though she had tried to convince Solarflare to accompany her (just knowing that the Soldiers would adore her Eagle mode), the Communications Officer adamantly refused to go.

Her loss. She'll never know what she's missing, was the gryphonic femme's wry thought as Trailbreaker drove slowly and carefully through the front gate, Flamestrike tamely padding alongside the road.

Once off-post, Trailbreaker turned for the highway while Flamestrike launched into the air. Her anti-grav units whined momentarily as she ascended to a height able to see for miles. "No Decepticons in range", she radioed down to her mission partner. "Can't you go any faster? We need to get back in time and that exercise," and ceremony, she thought with tolerant exasperation "took longer than we had planned." She circled back around, keeping the black truck in the precise center of the rather large spiral she was making.

"No can do, Flame. This is as fast as I can manage. I'm not as speedy as your bondmate, you know," was the amused reply. Flamestrike sighed inwardly at the delay and tried to lose herself in the feel of cool air rushing over her red pinions, the warm sunglare on her back; tried to admire the lush green carpet below, now broken only by the ribbon of highway winding East and South along the contours.

An hour passed, bringing them through Nashville. Trailbreaker turned to a more Southernly bearing and paced along, the sun moving inevitably across the sky. Every moment brings me that much closer, Flamestrike reminded herself as she carefully kept within hailing distance of Trailbreaker. She wanted to break out of this ever-crawling circle, to fly as high as she dared for a glimpse of the streaking light that would be the shuttle. It's not been that long, but every time Prowl leaves, it feels like an eternity. Not logical, I know, but even Prowl figured out that logic and feelings usually have very little to do with each other. Almost unknowingly, she ascended another degree in the sky. Just that much closer. Maybe he's in range?

Glancing down to make sure that Trailbreaker was still carefully winding his eventual way to Autobot City, Flamestrike took a moment to try her long-range radio communication. She focused her ears and sent out a quick hail on the shuttle's frequency. A burst of static was her only response. Not quite daunted, she decided to try an experiment and reach out to Prowl through their spark-bonding. No one could quite explain it, and certainly both Perceptor and Ratchet working together were unable to scientifically define it, but spark-bonded couples could feel each other. She had never tried reaching out at such a range before, though, but she missed Prowl. She missed his shy smile, his wry humor, sharp intelligence, and the look in his optics that was for her, alone.

What had started out as admiration for the other's stellar qualities and quirks grew slowly into a bonding that both would have disregarded had it not been for-- She broke off that line of thought with a mental shake. Giving a quick scan around the area to reassure herself of a continuing all-clear, she locked her wings into the traveling spiral and focused attention inward to the attenuated spark-bond linking her with Prowl.

Following the faint scintillating green-blue bond was difficult and Flame had to focus more attention into reaching out, out, further, further… Her soaring wings flared, unnoticed, as her body climbed higher in an effort to reach just that much closer to her mate. The faint blue spark-thread seemed to thin and whiten into nothing, causing the femme to cast about desperately until… There!

A bright icy blue spark glowed in her core's optics, one that pulsed in time with her own spark's vacillating. With an internal smile of loving triumph, she sent a pulse of seeking-greeting along the bond. A moment of surprise, then the icy-blue pulse returned back a feeling of admiration, love, and welcome. She could feel Prowl smile slightly, even so far away as the shuttle and she savored that smile as he savored the greeting pulse that was for only him.

"Crazy femme-bot! What are you doing up there? You're way higher than when we started!" came the sudden communiqué from an amused Trailbreaker. "We're making good time back to the City and you won't get there any faster if you decide to go into orbit!"

"I'm just enjoying the…scenery," bantered Flamestrike. There was no way she was going to share this private bond-moment with Prowl. Giving Trailbreaker a vague reassurance that she wasn't going to fly off, she focused back down beyond into the dark, misty center that housed her internal spark – and the now re-established link to her bondmate. She'd barely opened up the bond again when she felt him start in surprise.

She could almost see what was happening. Sensing Prowl's increase of activity at the controls, she "listened" with every circuit in her programming. Something was wrong with the shuttle. No, it wasn't the shuttle that was wrong…Megatron had attacked with a picked squad of Decepticons! She reached further, trying to mentally/emotionally bridge the gap; to try and help Prowl if she could.

While Megatron bashed his way onto the forward deck, Prowl had calculatedly shut down the affected shuttle systems, Brawn was the first to sound the alert but he had collapsed on the deck, shot by a transformed Megatron, aimed by Starscream. Flamestrike felt Prowl's calculation: Megatron must have powered up his troops with something extra to have knocked Brawn down so fast! Flamestrike felt his battle computer go into action with only one possible outcome.

No, she whispered to herself as her mate bravely swung around to face his attackers. He's trying to buy the others time, she realized as she felt her circuits suddenly go cold. He knows that with the extra power they have…no! Prowl fired his gun at Starscream who ducked slightly, allowing the shot to hit the bulkhead. She felt his disappointment when the blast went awry. Concentrating his attention on Starscream, he almost missed Scavenger's prepatory aim. Prowl caught the last movement from the Constructicon, but not in time. No!

Flamestrike felt the blast that ripped through her bondmate's armor. She screamed as pain radiated down their bond; fire coursing through her system. Prowl was burning inside, his systems shutting down in rapid succession as the oddly powerful blast melted delicate internal circuits. She was losing him! Ignoring Trailbreaker's startled query, she forced herself inward and down, and grasped for the bond, feeling her spark blaze. Prowl fell over backwards onto the deck, unable to keep equilibrium. She threw her own strength along the bond-thread, desperately striving to keep her mate alive just one more moment. One more astrosecond until Ratchet could reach him, until Ironhide beat back the invaders. She could feel the rushing flow of his internal Energon pooling around him. No!

Ignoring everything but the bond, Flamestrike strove to reach Prowl. She focused with all of her formidable iron will, to keep him, hold him. Love, pain, anguish, all radiated down the spark-thread to Prowl's ice blue self. Don't leave me, the feeling said.

I'm sorry…love, was the rueful reply, a tangle of overwhelming pulses; regret, ire, embarrassment, pain, love, calculating, wistful, that flowed back through the bond before the ice blue spark suddenly jumped up, out, streaking away into the darkness. In her intense concentration, Flamestrike could see the barest glimmer of the spark's passage.

She didn't hesitate.

Green-blue, her spark surged out, traversing the fading bond-line in an instant, forcing itself past the smoking former shell of Prowl's spark and into the darkness beyond. She never noticed her physical body transforming, never gave a thought to the form that was now falling from the sky.