A/N: Well, folks, it seems I was visiting the TF Bunny Farm on LJ earlier this week, and one caught my eye. The idea was intriguing to me, so I decided to try it. The bunny was posted by Balrog Roike and is as follows: "G1: Desperate times call for desperate measures. And so, lacking necessary troops at the beginning of the war, the remaining senate forces Optimus Prime to recruit some of his soldiers out of the ranks of criminals imprisoned in the high security ward of the local prison. Most of these criminals don't survive their first fight, too weak, insane or tired of life to survive. Just one mech is tenacious enough to pull through and to survive every battle until the Autobots finally reach Earth: Starscream, imprisoned for the murder of his colleague, mentor and best friend. He deals with the hostility of his "comrades", the snears of his frame-kind and fellow military models on Decepticon side, and is just happy to have a full tank and at least a little bit of freedom again. Then Skyfire is freed the murderer suddenly becomes the victim. "

The idea of this AU was intriguing to me, so I have decided to explore it while I deal with my dreaded case of writer's block for IdF: Kaleidoscope. I will be posting for that one as soon as I work through a gnarly patch with how best to present that next chapter. In the meantime, please do enjoy this little offering. This one will not be abandoned any more than IdF:K will, but will be slow in posting due to real life issues preventing me from writing as much as I'd like.

Balrog Roike credits the author of Hear My Scream, FreakazoidChimpanzee, for inspiring her with part of the idea for the bunny. I, too, would like to credit the author of that story as well for assisting in the inspiration. However, as suggested in the bunny, my story will be going in a different direction.

That said, I now finally present chapter one of Pariah.

"God help the outcasts, or nobody will." - Bette Midler, God Help the Outcasts


Starscream streaked through the dark void of space, his processor racing with the memories of what had happened so recently. He was barely paying attention to his surroundings, so intent was he on the events that had occurred barely fifty orns ago…

Harsh, icy, fierce winds, buffeting him about…Constantly struggling for altitude…Nearly crashing Primus knew how many times…If he ever made it out of this nightmare in one piece, he would never understand how he managed to do so.

Pit, he didn't even understand how he and Skyfire ended up in this predicament. They had just come to this planet in one of their last stops in searching for energon sources before returning to Cybertron. Following protocols, they had come in via the Northern polar region. The plan was to separate after they found a suitable place to make camp. However, they decided to do some initial scans right away. The initial results were promising, and it was while they were discussing it that the ice storm came up. They hadn't even detected the dark clouds on the horizon…

Even now, Starscream didn't know why their sensors had failed to give them warning, so they could find a place to land before it hit. All he knew was that somewhere along the way, as they tried to get out of the unexpected tempest, he and Skyfire had become separated by a hard gust of wind. It had knocked Starscream into a sideways spiral.

It was perhaps two kliks before the tri-color tetrajet was able to right himself, and even that was two kliks too long. By the time he was even able to regain even a modicum of equilibrium, he had lost sight of Skyfire. Long-range sensors were practically useless, and short-range were almost to that same point. His comm. was of no use, for when he tried to hail Skyfire, he heard only static…

That had been the moment when Starscream could honestly admit to feeling terrified and more alone than he had for a long time. Skyfire had been his best friend for a number of vorns, and his presence had always grounded him when he pushed things too far. For the shuttle to be missing was a frightening prospect indeed. Still, he had tried to reach out, even with the static filled frequencies.

For what seemed like the longest time, he heard nothing in response to his hails, then he heard a response. Weak though it was, the contents still sent chills through his Spark.

"Star…Storm…strong…unab…to…out. Wh…you?" Then it went dead.

Starscream nearly panicked at that point. The signal had been weak and far too short for him to be able to determine the coordinates, and now he began to wonder if he and Skyfire would ever make it out of there.

The Seeker still wasn't sure how he had managed to find that air current that got him outside the blizzard's range. He stayed as close as he could, though, praying that Skyfire would also find his way out and they could meet up. The moment the storm finally moved on, and his comm. had cleared, he hailed Skyfire over an open channel, even knowing how unsafe it was. He also sent out a number of inquiry pings. None of them received any answer. That had been the point where Starscream realized that their mission had just become a disaster.

He then went back into the region where the storm had just passed through. For several joors, he sent out sonar pings, ran metal and energy scans. A few times, he thought his sensors had picked up something, but there was too much ice and snow over those areas for him to be entirely sure. And the continual silence from Skyfire was unnerving. Around his tenth intensive scan, Starscream checked his fuel levels. What he saw made him curse.

His levels were getting dangerously low. He would have to abort the search if he wanted to get back to Cybertron to get better scanners and a team to help locate Skyfire. As much as he hated to admit it, he could not do this alone anymore. He knew Skyfire would forgive him for leaving once he learned that Starscream had only left in order to get help. While Starscream didn't normally like asking for help, in this case, he was more than willing to make an exception to the rule. Starscream pointed his nosecone at the sky, and activated his thrusters. Within moments, he was on his way back to Cybertron…

Starscream was broken out of his memories by his proximity alarm going off. Turning his visual screens forward, he saw Cybertron about five thousand mechanomiles ahead.

Thank Primus.

Starscream was now close enough to the planet that he could submit his report of the accident to the Science and Expedition Council. The tetrajet knew that while he had a bad history with them, Skyfire did not. In fact, the mech had garnered quite a bit of respect with the scientific community, even if many couldn't understand how the seemingly calm shuttle could be friend with a fiery-tempered Seeker, one of the worst frame-types there was. Starscream sometimes privately laughed at that assumption. Those who thought him unflappable had obviously not seen him upset about a failed experiment before.

But that was a thought for another time. Starscream sent an encrypted message on the Science Academy's private frequency, informing them of his return. He then submitted his report.

As Starscream awaited the response, he felt a bit apprehensive, and he wasn't sure why. The Council may dislike him but certainly they would be willing to help Skyfire. Whatever happened after that, he would deal with when it came.

Starscream had no idea how very wrong he was.