Opening Note: My entry for the July edition of a monthly fan-run short story contest on IDW Publishing's forums. The character prompt was a choice between Thundercracker or Bluestreak - I went for ol' Bluestreak.

The targeting reticule framed Crankcase as he slouched along the lonely street, his grumbling and his street sweeper's whirring the only sounds to be heard during the recharge cycle.

The only sounds to be heard aloud, that is.

+Please, I can't do this anymore, he's not harming anyone...+

--We weren't harming anyone either, were we, when his kind came for us. That didn't stop them; this won't stop you, Blue.--


--We've been over this before so many times. Don't you want us to be free, Blue?--

+...yes... yes...+

Crankcase was so preoccupied with complaining about sweeping a street that'd just get dirty again tomorrow, that he didn't notice until too late the bolt that unerringly struck his spark chamber housing... and splashed against a hidden forcefield. He still staggered backwards, but recovered and sneered at his unseen attacker.

--You see, Blue?! They can't even be trusted to follow regulations!--

+No, this isn't right, he's just a grunt, even breaking rules he shouldn't...+

Bluestreak yanked his sniper rifle from the windowsill and bolted for the door of the empty room he'd co-opted. It opened as he reached it - and the mech on the opposite side greeted him with a gun barrel pointed at his head.

"Drop it. Now."

--He won't stop us, Blue. Don't let him stop us!--

+No, no, I definitely won't do this.+

Bluestreak tossed the rifle to the floor, and Nightbeat kicked it behind himself into the corridor. He then reached out and pulled the tape from Bluestreak's mouth, causing him to wince. "We'd wondered about reports of mumbling from the few witnesses of previous snipings..."

"I tried to be careful, but you found me out anyway, set me up, knew exactly where I'd be-"

Nightbeat interrupted with an upraised hand. "We knew someone was accessing Con monitoring records. We need to know who helped you, of course, but we just had to temporarily arrange it so there was one tempting target tonight..." He paused, then, "Why, Bluestreak? I can think of several Bots I'd have suspected, but you? I thought you wanted peace."

--Peace? There'll never be peace until we're free, Blue.--

"There can't be peace, they won't allow it, won't let me have peace until they have peace, they want me to give it to them-"

"Whoa, whoa. Who's 'they'? I know that folks don't trust the Cons to keep peace, but I don't think you mean them..."

"My people, my people want peace, I figured it out you see-"

--Tell him, Blue. Make him understand.--

"-the first time I... killed a Con, they spoke to me, told me it was all right, that one of them was free, and every time another Con died, another one was avenged and free to rest, don't you see?"

--He will see. Tell him more, Blue!--

"I know the war's over, but so many of my people still aren't free, I'm so sorry, Nightbeat, so sorry, but I have to do this, don't you understand?"

Nightbeat's mouth twitched. "I... understand."

--Liar! He doesn't understand at all, Blue!--

"You think I'm crazy, don't you, I knew you would, it's why I didn't tell anyone, they'd think I made it up, that my people aren't really here, and-"

"I think," Nightbeat raised his voice to interject, "We'll have to find another way to... free your people."

--He can't do this! Make him understand! Make him help us! SPEAK FOR US, BLUESTREAK!--

Bluestreak moaned, "No, leave me alone, please leave me alone..."

Nightbeat scooped up the rifle and led Bluestreak away. "I'm sorry, I can't."

--No, Blue, no we won't.--

Closing Note: When I first read the prompt choices I groaned... not because I don't like either character, but because they seem like the sort of characters where there's been so much written about them that there's hardly any new ground to cover. So this was me looking at Bluestreak's tech specs, picking on the fact that he's supposed to be a sharp gunner, and running with it trying to do something different.

I originally was going to have Prowl be the one who found Bluestreak out, but then realized that wouldn't work continuity-wise... eh-heh. Plus, I like Nightbeat, and he fits the role.

Finally, it was really freakin' annoying trying to find symbols that this site would actually let stay in the story... grr. I originally had different ones, sorry for the slightly goofier-looking choices.