Disclaimer: Transformers © Hasbro/Takara. Any and all creative liberties are by the author, and in no way are connected to The Powers That Be.

Inspired by the LJ prompts.

The First Set : The Rookie's Tale

Log Entry #12: On Top – The catcalls really need to stop.

A real leader would accept that one or more of his subordinates were far superior in combat. Being the better combatant wasn't what made one a leader, anyways. But something had to be said when one of those subordinates always gained the upper hand in combat practice, in plain view of the rest of the army.

Yes, he decided as he stared up the battered muzzle of his opponent's crossbow cannon, something definitely had to be said.

Cheers reverberated around the enclosed area as Arcee rose to her feet and swung the cannon muzzle away. He had to wait until she stepped off his chest before he could sit up; as he did, he watched the larger mechs and a number of femmes applauding and clapping their hands on her shoulders as she walked out of the large room.

«You ever gonna win?» Jazz asked in amusement as Bumblebee climbed to his feet. He looked down at his superior and shrugged.

«I've won…twice.»

«If you tried to win, you might make it three times and stop losing face.»

Bumblebee studied the lieutenant suspiciously. «Are you suggesting something?»

«Well I'm just saying – she's small and fast, but you've got the firepower and brute strength. You should take a few lessons from Sunstreaker.»

«Are you saying Elita-1 didn't teach me anything?»

«No, and, uh, don't tell her I said that. But she's a femme, and you're obviously not. You got to play to your strengths, Bee.»

«Yeah, I know.» He turned to leave with the rest of the impromptu audience.

«So…you're really not trying to win, are you?»

His Spark twitched, and somehow Jazz picked up on it. With a knowing chuckle, the lieutenant said, «Maybe if you actually beat her, she'd warm up to you.»

To his credit, Bumblebee didn't overreact to the subtle suggestion. Instead he said evenly, «I told you, I already beat her twice.»

He walked down the hall, presumably to Ratchet, and just missed Jazz's quiet comment.

«So you do know what you're doing. I'm impressed.»

A lull on the war front made for clashing tempers and an overabundance of restless energy in the barracks, and whenever a sparring match was set up down at the training grounds, a huge crowd was guaranteed to show up.

They were treated to Springer's eventual victory over Bulkhead and loudly approved of it, but what they were looking forward to the most was the twelfth match between squad commander Bumblebee and his subordinate Arcee, and not because the outcome was so predictable.

It didn't require Prowl's infamous simulations to know who would emerge victorious. Not only had Arcee won nine of the previous eleven matches, but her supreme agility and gladiator-style techniques also made for some real entertainment. Her two losses were simply flukes, little hiccups that interrupted an otherwise perfect record.

There weren't many backers for the young commander, and some wondered why on Cybertron he was given command of a squad in the first place.

But then they overheard him tell her, «Don't hold back» while walking into the training room and the spectators wondered if Bumblebee had been holding back in previous matches. The femme, to her credit, said nothing but glared at him as they took up their customary positions in the area.

The first few cycles were uneventful. As expected, the femme initiated the match by lunging for the mech, who avoided her at the last klik. Evasive tactics were in play.

Not like that would ever stop Arcee.

She slipped in after a feint and swung her crossbow cannon. He took the hit and staggered back. As she ricocheted off of the impact, she aimed and fired.

Battle mask in place, he braced against the hot blue blast, and slashed through it with his arms. His right arm rapidly transformed and he fired at the femme as she descended. His aim wasn't terrible but she avoided it with a twist of her body, and one of the walls sported a fresh scorch mark.

Arcee was always the aggressor. She fired the cannon before charging in, using the building speed to shove her opponent against the wall. She only allowed him enough time to get back onto his feet before striking again. And while many of the more violent Autobots enjoyed watching her beat upon the hapless other, her suddenly vicious tactics – when did she ever shove her foot in her commander's faceplates? – took even them by surprise.

Just as surprising was Bumblebee's equally aggressive response, absent in previous matches. He wasn't pulling any punches, either, and began hammering dents and scorch marks into Arcee's armor. His cannon was in full play, constantly trying to shoot her out of commission or at least cripple her and he nearly did it when she fired at him before rushing in to batter him with her cannon; he returned fire unexpectedly and it blew her back into the opposite wall.

Long Arm was going to have a fit when he sees the condition of the largest training room in the Decagon.

When Arcee went flying across the room again, the spectators realized that the two Autobots were not playing around, were not training, but were playing for keeps. They were out for each other's Spark, and the Allspark help the Autobot who dared to step in between them to stop the violence.

Then Bumblebee shouldered her aside, and Arcee went sliding across the pitted and battered floor. She was up on her feet in two nanokliks and launching herself at Bumblebee, picking her crossbow cannon up along the way and aiming for his chest. He crossed his forearms in front of the armor protecting his Spark Chamber and braced for impact, but she leaped into the air, drew her legs up, and grabbed a foothold on the forearms to thrust herself upwards. All optics were on her as she aimed, but he fired first, and the cannon fell out of her grasp. It crashed to the floor and tumbled away, its long body sparking, as she landed heavily. Pulling herself together, the femme ignored the useless weapon, rose to her feet, and charged at the mech. A few Autobots caught a glimpse of a row of blades emerging from her left forearm.

Something happened, nobody knew what, it was so fast, but for a klik Arcee was on top again, holding her forearm against Bumblebee's neck armor. Then suddenly he had gained the upper hand; his right arm hung limp and broken, but the armor on his left forearm had extended itself and thin tendrils of blue energy flickered between the two prongs held to her chest. Her left forearm was still pressed against his voice capacitor's shield, but it was over. He had won.

Everyone was stunned silent by the outcome, even the combatants-

«The Allspark be damned!» Cliffjumper exclaimed, and suddenly the audience was in an uproar. Words were tossed around, Autobots shouting about how spectacular Arcee was yet again, how shockingly fast Bumblebee gained the upper hand at the last klik, how nobody knew his left forearm concealed a weapon, how the femme always had a trick hiding in her armor, how they couldn't imagine that little Bee could be so violent, and nobody noticed the two opponents who had not moved from their positions since, who were locked in a silent but furious staring contest.

Lieutenant Jazz detached himself from the raucous crowd, and the faint but distinct and annoyed fury of Ratchet's vocal processors slowing approaching, and sauntered over to his subordinates.

«Impressive,» he remarked lightly. «You should do this more often.»

Author's Note: I feel a little rusty with fight scenes. Damn it.

Reviews are deeply appreciated.

Preview: It was simply not an option.