(( I've sort of gotten out of touch with the Transformers universe, sadly. I fear I may be losing my touch... Anyhow, please enjoy this chapter. ))
Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own them...
Soundwave felt the floor beneath him rock back and forth violently. He sat up, his damaged frame groaning in protest, audio sensors on the alert for any unusual sounds. A small part of him was frustrated at not being able to find out what was going around him, but there was little he could do about it. Even if his optics hadn't been deactivated, he had been bound and locked up in a cramped locker in the shuttle's cargo bay.
Footsteps sounded from above. He listened intently, fully aware that one could pick up on the situation just from listening to the paces of others.
There were no shouts or alarms that could be heard. The three sets of footsteps he was aware of were quick and businesslike, but there was no urgency to them.
The footsteps vanished from the range of his audio sensors, and he was left in almost complete silence. The quiet hum of the ship's systems made him feel complacent and sleepy, but he kept himself awake through his legendary self-control.
Soundwave suddenly noticed that the ever-present whine of engines was gone. That means that they had to have stopped somewhere...
Behind his battered, dented faceplate, he smiled grimly. Perhaps his captors had docked with a slave trader's ship, and he was about to be sold as either a slave, or scrap metal.
He blamed that illogical, completely baseless presumption on damage, low energy, being held captive by a group of ruthless femmes, and the loss of everything he had become familiar with.
The footsteps approached again, only one set this time. Whoever was walking towards him was in no hurry whatsoever, and her tread was soft and light. It was either their medic or the one who had called him cute.
Hinges squealed as the cargo bay doors yawned open. Locks clicked and he felt fresh air rush around him as his makeshift cell was opened.
"Ride's over, Decepticon," a cheery voice greeted him. He lurched forwards unsteadily as the chain looped around his neck was tugged on harshly, and he stumbled after the femme. Something cold and metallic (a weapon, no doubt) was pressed to the back of his head.
He was led through the corridors of the ship, his shoulders scraping painfully against walls that were meant to accommodate smaller femmes. Shame at being collared and leashed like this dragged at him, but he was slightly thankful that there were only four Autobots on board and not a full crew. At least he wouldn't have to put up with jeers and taunts.
"Ah, Moonracer's got herself a new pet, I see." The violent femme of the group spoke up just loud enough for him to hear.
So much for not having to put up with jeers and taunts.
A large hand patted him several times on the top of his head, a little harder than what could be considered affectionate. His weakened knee joints buckled slightly each time the hand made contact.
The femme chuckled. "He's so well-behaved, too."
Soundwave turned his head towards the sound of her voice, fixing her with an angry, sightless glare. Her harsh laughter echoed through the corridor as Moonracer pulled him away.
They were ascending now, walking up a steep ramp by the feel of it. The cool temperature inside the shuttle soon gave way to warm, humid air. Other than their footsteps, rushing noise that faded in and out was the most prevalent background noise.
Without warning, the surface beneath him fell away. For the first time since he had been a sparkling, Soundwave emitted a surprised yelp as he plunged face-first into relatively shallow water. He was hauled upright by a yank on the chain before he could get his bearings.
No doubt they were on a planet that contained water. He hadn't been captive for long, and the solar system the Decepticons had been called to was a long haul from anywhere... Could they be on that organic-infested planet third from the sun?
He sensed several hasty messages flying back and forth over semi-encoded communications frequencies, but his intricate hacking abilities were too exhaustion-dulled to read them. The ground shook lightly as something with a very heavy tread approached.
"Autobot Moonracer reporting in, Prime." The femme giggled lightly. "I told you we had a very special guest for you."
He felt an intense gaze against his cracked visor, willing himself not to flinch or look away. It didn't take working vision to know that Optimus Prime was scrutinizing him.
"Soundwave." Machinery whirred and clicked in the telltale sounds of transformation. The air in front of him burned with the heat of an energon blade.
"Thousands of Autobots will rest easier after this," Prime growled.
As would I, Soundwave thought. He inclined his head with the last of the pride that remained in him, calmly awaiting the cold, peaceful oblivion that one could find at the edge of a sword.
Several weighty seconds passed in complete silence, except for the soft hum of Prime's weapon and the ominous whispering of the ocean.
Suddenly the blade was gone, retracting into its owner's arm. The mech in front of him growled quietly, and Soundwave felt the weight of imminent death lift from his shoulders. He felt almost... disappointed?
The ground trembled slightly as Optimus Prime strode past him. He tensed, calculating his chances of survival if he made a mad dash for freedom.
A quiet giggle came from somewhere behind him as Moonracer pulled lightly on the chain, reminding him that he was still a captive.
There was a hushed exchange of words from where Soundwave guessed the femmes' shuttle was. Metal collided with an abrupt clang, and a pair of powerful engines purred in perfect harmony.
"Huh." Moonracer's tone had a bit of cheeky humor to it. "Looks like today's your lucky day, Decepticon. Elita's given the order that you're to be kept alive, even though most of us want you destroyed and your frame melted down for scrap." She laughed airily. "Maybe she's allowing me to keep you as a pet."
"Or hopefully, target practice." One of the remaining two femmes on board strode ashore, taking great effort to clip Soundwave in the back with a heavily armored shoulder.
His anger flared sharply, but he buried the emotions and stood as upright as his battered body would allow. He wouldn't show any shame, fear, or guilt to these pathetic Autobots. They were no better than his own faction, though neither were they any worse.
When a war went on for so long, the line between good and evil usually blurred.
What made a warrior "good," then? Their actions? Their beliefs? Where their loyalties lay? Their reasons for fighting?
Soundwave considered himself. He had sided with the Decepticons, who were thought of as evil by members of both factions. He was a murderer and a wiley deceiver, but he had also been a father and caretaker.
If you committed horrible crimes in order to further a righteous cause, did that make you a righteous being?
Negative, he concluded.
If it was true, then he wouldn't feel so terrible for being allowed to continue existing.
Arcee fidgeted nervously, watching the prisoner out of the corner of her vision. Even though he was shackled, disabled, and securely trapped behind glowing streams of threatening blue energy, Soundwave's presence was still darkly foreboding. After all, he was the mech who had nearly offlined Bumblebee, crushed her arm, and killed Sideswipe's brother.
Strangely, she felt a remorseful kind of pity for Soundwave. According to what she had heard, the Decepticon had been damaged during a mission, but Megatron and Starscream had abandoned him. Left him to die, they said, alone in the empty void of space. It was a terrible way to go, weakening from lack of energy and malfunctioning parts until your Spark gave out. It was a death that could take anywhere from a couple days to thousands of years, but no matter how long it took, you died alone.
As of now, Soundwave seemed to be in a state of deep recharge. He hadn't even twitched or looked up when Arcee came over to relieve Hound of prisoner duty, and he was sprawled haphazardly against the wall in a manner that hardly matched his reputation.
There was a strong sense of resentment in the atmosphere. It went without saying that none of the Autobots, except for Elita-One, wanted to keep the Decepticon around.
Almost every Autobot femme, Arcee included, looked up to and deeply admired Optimus Prime's regal, wise bondmate. However, at this point, Arcee was doubting the rose and white femme's decision.
Even in his damaged state, Soundwave was dangerous - much too dangerous to keep around. They had to get rid of him, even if it meant that they were condemning him to a lonely death.
Maybe that was why leadership was one of the most difficult roles to perform. You had to deal with decisions like this one. Any wrong turn would weigh heavily on your conscience, and everyone looked to you for guidance.
She heard the whirrs and whines of systems powering up from recharge and glanced over at Soundwave quickly. The mech was awake, if just barely. He was turning his head this way and that, as if he was trying to get a better look at a hazy object in the unseen distance.
It was interesting, Arcee noted, that she could make out what she thought resembled a faint green glow behind the shattered, dim red visor.
Soundwave growled softly in what sounded like suppressed frustration as he attempted to stand. Firestar, the silent medic who had come to Earth with Elita's crew, had done a decent enough job patching the Decepticon's injuries, but she had done only that and no more. It was unlikely that Soundwave would be escaping of his own accord.
"Escape: impossible," the mech said quietly, as if he was reading her thoughts. (Then again, Soundwave was rumored to be a telepath...) "Your presence is not required."
Arcee regarded him with an unamused smirk. "I didn't make the rules, I just follow them."
The satellite tilted his head towards the sound of her voice. Arcee kept her gaze locked on his, unwilling to show weakness or deference despite how uncomfortable she felt facing down the Decepticon third-in-command.
She stared at him for several minutes, wondering what he was trying to accomplish by drilling into her with his optics. And then she realized that he was simply staring blankly ahead - he was sightless. Pity for him flared once more, but he forced her emotions back under control.
Don't pity him. Remember what he did to Bumblebee and Sunstreaker. He deserves this. He deserves to be tortured until he dies. Think of all the Autobots he's slain in the past.
"You are familiar," Soundwave noted.
"As are you."
He replied with a strange, bitter chuckle that sounded both grating and vaguely musical at the same time.
"I fail to see the humor in what I said," she remarked blandly.
Soundwave lowered his head resentfully, reluctant to continue conversing with the enemy. "There is little humor in war, femme."
He ignored the disinterested noise she made, turning away from her to settle his chin against his chest.
"You know, you should be thankful that I'm not blasting you into a heap of slag," Arcee called to him. "I never did get to pay you back for our last meeting."
The mech shrugged wordlessly.
"I ought to rip out your spinal relays," she threatened casually. "It seems only fair, after what you did to 'Bee."
Arcee extended the small blades built into her arms, holding them up so that they glittered in the bright electric lights. "Maybe I'll just kill you." She continued, leaning against the wall and giving him a chilly smile. "But that would mean disobeying orders, and I value my honor as an Autobot more than you."
Soundwave spoke up, his voice as neutral and emotionless as it always was. "What will you gain from killing for the sake of vengeance?"
She had no answer.
(( I apologize for the month-long delay in this chapter. Life went sharply downhill for me these past few weeks, and I barely had the motivation to drag myself through each day, much less write. However, I am back on my feet now.
This fic is probably close to the end. It should be finished some time in late November, unless something unexpected happens.
Thank you for all the alerts, reviews, and favorites. ))