Disclaimer: I still don't own Transformers. A review would be appreciated though.

Notes: I figure it's time to get this sorry excuse for a plot moving, don't you? Sorry for the long update time.

Optimus just wants to do what's right. The Council isn't exactly into that kind of thing. Ratchet just wants his memories put to rest, not join the 'cons.

"My squad has personally overseen the inspection sir. Any fault in locating the escaped Decepticons lies with us, sir."

Optimus rubbed the place his nose would have been, had he a nose.

"Have you checked the basements of warehouses?" he really wasn't used to such…accountability. From Bulkhead probably. Bumblebee would certainly have blamed being unable to find the Decepticons on anyone but himself. Ratchet and Prowl (it still hurt his spark to think of his friend) would have kept at it, retaining an aloof exterior.

Which was what Ratchet was doing now. Optimus had already gotten several calls from the medic, requesting a meeting. He was sitting outside now, waiting for this Autotrooper to finish.

"Affirmative. We used our most up-to-date scanners, which can detect through the signal dampeners the human Isaac Sumdac built."

"Then that's it," Optimus said kindly. "We can't check anywhere else without the Council's permission. Dismissed," he said after a moment. He really wasn't used to this military compliance.

As the Autotrooper walked out, Optimus waved Ratchet in.

"I saw the recording, kid."

Optimus sighed.

"And I ain't here to condemn you for it. You did what you thought was right. But…"

Optimus waited. Here it was.

"I served with Firestar for stellar cycles. That wasn't her."

The shock was almost physically painful; his spark jerked at the thought that there might not be another traitor in the Elite Guard. "You're not serious."

"Firestar was completely fearless. She never would have allowed the Decepticons to escape without a fight. She wouldn't have returned either, until the 'troopers had gotten a fix on the location of the generator."

The generator. Something clicked in his processor. "It said on the report Firestar had been on leave and not due for another decacycle. But if the 'cons were to possibly be contaminated with outside weapons, she would show up." Silently, Optimus messaged the Autotrooper to run a scan on transwarp frequencies used in the past three solar cycles.

"Prime, no bot has seen or heard from Firestar since she went on leave."

"Then who got transwarped to the 'cons hideout?" This, combined with the generator, was the biggest lead so far.

"Arcee. I haven't heard from her in five solar cycles. She refused to allow Perceptor to examine her processor for any Decepticon programming-"

Optimus's intercom buzzed.

"Message for you sir. Alpha Trion is on line three."

Optimus mouthed sorry to Ratchet as he accepted the call.

"Optimus Prime, all attempts to locate the Decepticons have so far failed. All abandoned warehouses have been searched. What do you propose your next move to be?"

"I have my second-in-command scanning all transwarp frequencies used on the day of the trial. If he pinpoints the correct one, we should be able to trace the frequencies beginning and ending point."

"Excellent. Once he has received the information, send it directly to me."

"Yes sir." Alpha Trion cut the communication.

Ratchet waited a moment before beginning again. "Shockwave might have left something in there that would make her break him out of prison. If we found her, I could fix the programming. I know I could."

Optimus considered this. "It's possible, but in order to look for her, we need somewhere to start. This could be handled much faster if you just reported her as missing."

Ratchet snuck a glance at the intercom.

"I'd like to keep this on the quiet side."

It was, Hook surmised as he wiped his spotless operating table, one of the fastest operations he'd ever done. Barely more than ten cycles and a Decepticon's life had been saved. Possibly. But no one could do a better job than him.

The container which held an incomplete spark lay beside his servo, just waiting to be examined. Studied. Reproduced.

The quiet, almost imperceptible whirr of machinery around the base served to comfort his processor. The near-silence, thanks to Lugnut's patrolling permeated the area.

The spark seemed to wink at him. Hook stared at it for a moment, but turned away. It was late. He was tired.

Hook paused to take a sip of low-grade as he watched his patients automatic repairs from the computer. Sensors hooked up to their bodies told him instantly their sparkrate, processor speed, and time until activation.

A small blip on Jetlag's screen worried Hook until he deduced it had something to do with interference from the tunnels.

Hook continued wiping, drinking, and watching the console.

As soon as the alarms began to ring, Hook was already at Shockwave's side.

The Decepticon lay unmoving, in stasis. But the computer had informed Hook he was waking up.

Hook injected the larger bot with a sedative, but was unsure of its potency. It had been lying around here for stellar cycles.

As Shockwave's optic flared up, Hook began to pray to Primus.

"Greetings, Hook."

Hook wondered for a Nanoklik if Shockwave's vocaliser had been ruptured. It had lost its accented glitch, only to be replaced by a lower tone, faintly reminiscent of Megatron's own voice.

"You shouldn't be online Shockwave." Hook said firmly, checking his scanner. The sedative was working its way through his system slowly. As long as he didn't move, he wouldn't tear open his body.

"Why not? According to my chronometer, it is one stellar cycle after the Great War. I have a mission to complete-"

"Your chrono is out of whack." Hook said bluntly, resisting the urge to fix it. "You need to sync your systems with Vector Sigma."

"Vector Sigma is not operational at this time."

"It is now. You need to recharge." He wouldn't call Shockwave insane just yet; this happened to most bots who'd had their sparks mutated. Their processors ended up in a completely different time. Temporarily, possibly.

Shockwave looked at the Decepticon medic with mingled disgust and suspicion.

"I'm offline. Aren't I."

"That's it. I swear."

I believe you.

Ravage crept along the edge of the tunnel, staying just in Arcee's range of vision. His paws moved soundlessly through puddles and rough patches, his red optics gleamed in the darkness.

I doubt the Autobots would have simply let them go. They have a way of tracking us. I'm sure of it.

The panther-bot paused to look into her optics.

The Autobots here would have someone on the inside.

"Like me?"


Arcee's scanner detected a slight movement in the next tunnel. Ravage slunk ahead and shortly returned, carrying a limp petro-rabbit in his jaws.

These are tunnels. Petro-rabbits should not be down here.

"Are you sure it isn't just someone's lost pet?"

Ravage dropped the corpse at her feet. Inside the creature's exposed throat, a small device beeped, echoing throughout the tunnels.