Title: Shades Of Grey

Setting: Sometime after 'Rock Bottom', but before 'Partners', so Arcee does not know that Starscream killed Cliffjumper.

Summary: There was a reason for forbidding any interaction with enemy prisoners.

A/N: Alright, so this is my first Transformers story. I've been meaning to write one for a while now, it has been a while itself since I last wrote anything - I swear I've gone through about six different attempts at starting one before I settled on this one. If anyone is reading this, I'd like to point out that there are no guarantees I'll finish this, I just happen to write on a whim, so you know, just as a heads up. Anyway, I wasn't supposed to post this until later on in the year, but just in case things go awry muse-wise, I'd like to make my contribution now while it matters :) Hope you enjoy!

Chapter One

Considering their history, it wasn't that surprising after all.

/\/\/\/\/\

Ever since Decepticon activity picked up, energon trails had been discovered left and right. For whatever reason, stealth didn't seem to be an option in the Decepticons' mode of operations, not that the Autobots were complaining. The somewhat outdated technology back at the base (outdated by a decent few thousand vorns by their standards), despite Ratchet's tampering and reprogramming, was not well suited for energon tracking. Even though the Decepticons' return meant they had to resume that age-old, vicious exchange of words and strikes, they could finally detect any careless energon movement made by them.

Arcee guessed it could be called ironic in the way they depended on them to find their only means of survival on this planet. It was only a shame they had to settle for energon scraps at best to keep them going.

'Still, better scraps than nothing I guess'.

Concentrating on the road ahead, she checked her radar for the energon signal the base's tracker had picked up, but nothing was there.

'Strange, Ratchet was sure there was a signal coming from around here' she thought, contacting the base while maintaining her speed.

"Arcee to base, does anyone copy?" she started routinely.

"Ratchet here. Any news on that energon trail?" a gruff voice replied.

"Nothing so far, I don't have any close-range signal" she said while re-checking her radar. "Are you sure I got the right coordinates?".

"Yes, I'm sure" he said bluntly, and began tapping numerous computer keys, bringing up a map on the screen. "According to my information, you are roughly five kliks away from the source of the signal".

"You couldn't bridge me any closer to it?" she asked casually, half-knowing the answer already.

"Not if you wanted the Decepticons to find you, no. Besides, knowing them, they're likely to bring the Nemesis in for a pick up. I'd be more concerned with running into that if I were you".

"Gee, that's reassuring, Ratchet" she replied sarcastically, following a turn that lead to a shadowed straight between a large crevasse.

"I don't think I need to remind you that this is a reconnaissance only mission, Arcee" he said seriously. "Should things get out of hand, we'll do what we can to get you out of there".

"Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. I'll be in touch soon. Arcee out".

With that she quickly left the shelter of the crevasse, eager to keep track of the energon trail. She found herself driving along a deserted road situated on a steep precipice that overlooked a rocky valley so obscured by jagged hills and clusters of trees that she could barely see into the heart of it – the perfect place to mine for energon while remaining virtually undetectable.

As if on cue, her radar pinged, picking up a signal roughly half a kilometre away from her position. It was faint, disappearing for seconds at times, but it was there nonetheless. Where 'there' was, however, was the problem. According to her radar, the signal was located somewhere in the middle of that valley.

'Damn, it's never that easy, is it?' she cursed, before trying to find an alternate route on her navigational system. She knew there was no way she could scale down a cliff that steep and make it out unharmed. She had to find another way, even if it meant taking that much longer to reach her destination.

The road ahead, she discovered, eventually lead to a more levelled area of land. Now that didn't exactly mean it was the most stable and safest 'tourist' route or anything, far from it. Angled at what she estimated was 50 degrees at a decline and littered with rocks and uneven surfaces and dried flaky shrubs wedged between small cracks in the ground, it was hardly the quickest route she could take, but as far as her mission went, it was one that provided her with the most cover by the looks of it.

Transforming into her bipedal mode, she made her way down onto the rocky terrain, contacting the base as she went.

A short silence followed before Ratchet's voice answered again.

"Did you find anything yet?".

While keeping an eye on her motion tracker, she steadily made her way past the jagged grounds and into a graduated area of shrubbery and trees that thrived amongst the shade created by the towering rock faces.

"I'm almost at the source of the signal" she replied, "but it's not exactly the easiest place to get into. It looks as if the plant-life gets even denser from here on".

"Really?" he asked, almost surprised. "You'd think the Decepticons would've made a larger mess of the place".

"Let's put it this way" she said, using her hands to push past branches in her way. "I'm not exactly taking the conventional route".

"Well, you have your reasons I suppose".

"Oh trust me, when I get there, there better be a whole stellar cycle's worth of energon or someone will never hear the end of it".

"That bad, hmm?" he asked, while he typed at something in the background. "Don't worry, I'm sure you'll be over it soon enough".

"Yeah, easy for you to say Ratchet".

A clanging could be heard from the other side of the line.

"And just what is that supposed to mean?" he demanded, his short temper seemingly riled.

"Nothing" she answered quickly, momentarily forgetting about the taboo topic concerning Ratchet's experience in the field. The last thing she wanted to do was get on the medic's bad side, not that his complaints were ever about her. She at least was lucky enough to escape the worst of his moods – unfortunately, she couldn't say the same for Bumblebee and Bulkhead.

"That's what I thought" he said conclusively. "Now, is there anything else you wanted to state, mope or whine about?".

Arcee rolled her optics, a half-smile on her face.

"When I reach the source, I'll be recording any visuals of what I can get, but apart from that I'll be going silent. I'd like to remain undetected if I can help it. I'll transmit my findings to you when I'm done".

"Understood, Arcee. I'll contact you after receiving the transmissions".

"Expect them soon, it looks like I'm nearing the site as we speak".

"All right. You're on your own for now, Arcee. Ratchet out".

Now fully alert and aware of her surroundings, she masked her energy output as best she could and stepped away from the obscurity of the rocks and moved forward into the tangle of the spindly trees ahead of her, crouching low to remain under their canopy and moving forward to get a better look at the clearing ahead of her.

'Well, I guess Ratchet was right after all' she thought, looking down another decline that lead further into the heart of the valley, while scanning and recording the image before her.

The field was barren of any organic life forms, cleared out no doubt by the numerous Decepticon miners harrowing away at the remaining pure energon crystals protruding from the ground. A short distance away, workers were boxing mined shards of energon into clear cubed containers and stacking them onto transportable platforms. From there, they were pulled onto a large round metal surface, a lift, that followed an ascension enclosed by wide rings leading into the belly of the Nemesis.

'Of all places, what are the chances...?' Arcee thought to herself as she recorded an image of the Nemesis docked low on the ground, probably at the lowest point of the valley from what she could tell, so that the surrounding cliffs and rocks provided a satisfactory cover from any passer by.

But the fact that the Nemesis was there did not worry her as much as it did the area excavated for the purpose of energon extraction. An area that large must have contained a large quantity of energon crystals, and the fact that there were still a number of crystals remaining, albeit small deposits, made her that much more uneasy.

'Just how long have the Decepticons been mining here?'.

There was really no way around it. Defeating the Decepticons and winning the war had always been the primary objective. Without it, peace could never be brought about, and countless of innocent worlds would be at stake, just as Earth was. No doubt if Megatron and his forces had had their way by now, Earth would be nothing but an uninhabitable rock and the humans..the humans would just be another species, exterminated at the whim of a dictator who claimed that only the fittest could be granted survival.

And yet, all of this, all these countless vorns of fighting and death and destruction, meant nothing if they couldn't find energon.

"Stay true to the cause, stand by your fellow Autobots, and fight to win. Fight to remember your fallen comrades, to remember those innocents who could not fight to protect themselves, and fight for Cybertron...".

That had been the first of many motivational speeches made by the commanding officer she first served under, before she'd been promoted and transferred to Prime's squad.

'I guess he forgot to mention what would happen once Cybertron became a wasteland and our energon reserves ran low' Arcee thought bitterly, before taking a final scan of the area and prepared to send her images. 'No one ever thought the war would go this far'.

Still crouching low to the ground, she tapped a key on a gadget on her left arm which brought up a holographic screen with cybertronian commands. Pressing a sharp finger to the touch-sensitive screen, she began to upload the images into a file for transmission.

'Come on, hurry up..' she thought, resisting the urge to tap her fingers impatiently against her leg. Despite Ratchet's reassurances, being this close to the Decepticon armada alone wasn't the most soothing feeling, after all, anything could go wrong from her experience.

'The sooner I get out of here, the better' she convinced herself, while bringing up the file and pressing her fingers on the screen, specifying the file's destination. The screen flashed a confirmation message, asking her whether she was sure she wanted to send the file. With a bit more pressure than was required, she confirmed the transmission, and waited for her next orders. Considering the circumstances, this mission would have to be stored under the ever-growing "waste of time" file she was sure that existed somewhere in the Autobot database.

From a distance, a steady low rumble made itself known to Arcee's audio components, and her body was suddenly tense as her battle systems automatically activated. What was once a low rumble in the air turned into a booming roar, and to her dismay, two fighter jets soared overhead and circled around the valley in a completely synchronised manoeuvre, right to the far edge before looping around the Nemesis and flying back, closer to her position but not in her direction.

The larger, bulkier jet was in the lead while the smaller, sleeker one followed close by, imitating his leader's sudden dive and transformation, perching nearby him on a platform that overlooked the workers in the middle of the valley.

'Slag' Arcee cursed, 'just what I needed'.

She instinctively went to open up her communication device and link up with the base for a quick evac, but her fingers only just hovered by her audio component as she realised that Megatron was arguing with Starscream. She paused for a moment and turned up her audio receptors, just enough that she was able to clearly hear Megatron's shouts and Starscream's own pleads.

"..no fault of mine, I assure you Master. The overseer was supposed to-".

"I don't care for what the overseer was supposed to do, Starscream. The fact that you did not take care of it when the matter first arose is what disappoints me" Megatron said while looming threateningly over the smaller figure.

"But Master, I.." he started, hunching defensively as Megatron glared at him. "I replaced the defective cloaking device as required – how could I know the second would malfunction just the same?".

Megatron let out a low snarl, flexing his claws while visibly resisting the urge to strangle his second.

"When was the last time an inventory check was carried out?".

"Seven solar cycles ago" the seeker replied instantly.

"And why were the malfunctioning units not dealt with?".

"The report came back clear, Lord Megatron. Everything was in perfect order at the time".

"Really, Starscream?" Megatron questioned sceptically. "I wonder, what could have possibly gone amiss in such a..small time frame, hmm?".

"Eh heh.." he started, a nervous expression on his face. "Nothing I would have anything to do with – Master" he added on quickly with a subservient bow.

Arcee looked on with a slight shake of her head.

'Some things never change' she thought.

With Megatron turned away from her, however, she couldn't quite catch the strange expression on his face at his second-in-command's actions, the grandiose gestures of the seeker failing to please him.

"Starscream" he spoke, looking over to the mass of workers mining the small remainder of the energon deposits in the area, before addressing him completely. "I grow tired of this".

Arcee could see Starscream tense up at those words.

"W-What ever do you mean, Master?" he stuttered, his own claws beginning to fidget in anxiousness.

"I believe you know exactly what I mean" Megatron said, while taking heavy steps towards the seeker, his fusion cannon humming with power. "Though I should have known better – it really is no surprise that you did not heed my warning".

Starscream instinctively stepped back, his hands open before him as an unaggressive gesture.

"Lord Megatron, surely you're being unreasonable? A simple malfunction will not cost us a scrap of energon, I assure you".

"I'm not talking about a measly blunder, Starscream" he dead panned, and only then did the seeker seem to realise what he was on about.

"B-But I have done everything you've asked!".

"Menial requests and orders – I ask for more than that!".

"The skills and lives of my aerial squadron – I've trained them to fight for you, they would follow you till the end!" he said desperately, his hands clasped in front of him as he sunk in fear to his knees.

"They would be of no use to me dead" Megatron replied, while aiming his cannon at the prostrate figure.

Arcee's optics widened as the situation became all too familiar once again, but this time, she had a feeling nothing was going to stop him from executing his second-in-command.

Starscream's pleads had turned into outright begging. It looked as if he wasn't even trying to fight or flee from Megatron – she guessed that something must have happened after he was left in that mine not too long ago.

"Master, please!" he insisted. "I placed my own Seekers under your command!".

He shook his head as something overcame him, before lowering his voice to a quiet, mournful tone.

"My..my own trine, Lord Megatron. They gave their lives, under your orders. Of what more could you possibly ask?".

"Your loyalty, Starscream!" Megatron finally said, not fazed by his pitiful speech. "I ask for nothing more than your utter and devout loyalty to me!".

"Was not everything I once held claim to, in giving to you, evidence of my loyalty?" he pleaded desperately once more.

"In knowing you over the countless number of stellar cycles I've had to put up with, I would have to question your definition of that word".

Starscream remained silent, his head bowed bitterly as Megatron laughed darkly.

"No argument there, I see?" he paused, contemplative. "In all my years, I have never met a more deceitful mech with even more a deceitful tongue – oh believe me, Starscream, I'm no stranger to sarcasm! And I've had it up to here with your blatant disrespect of my authority".

His words hit home as Starscream remained bowed low on the ground, his optics refusing to make contact with Megatron's as he finally pledged: "Give me another chance, Lord Megatron. I'll make it up to you, I'll change, I swear it!".

Megatron stared down at his second-in-command with distaste, his optics glowering with disdain.

"I am done with giving you 'second chances'" he stated conclusively, his weapon glowing as he prepared to fire. "And even yet perhaps these circumstances would have been different, if you haven't become so...disposable".

At this Starscream froze, and Arcee held her intakes as the seeker lifted his head in attempt, she assumed, to give one last pleading look.

"W-Wait! Master, no, I-".

But his words were drowned out by the point-blank blast that resonated as Megatron fired his fusion cannon into Starscream's chest, flinging him onto his back where he remained motionless among the broken rocks.

Open-mouthed, Arcee watched as Megatron seemed to murmur something to the fallen seeker, before turning to address the workers, who had no doubt been listening in on the exchange.

"Hurry up with the final batch! We leave in three kliks, no exceptions!".

"Yes, Lord Megatron" a chorus of workers replied as the Decepticon leader transformed and soared towards the Nemesis.

Arcee watched as the workers quickly finished and boarded the Nemesis, its engines powering up to a deafening whine before its thrusters fired it off the ground, ascending it further into the sky until it became entirely encompassed within the clouds.

It wasn't until everything had become deathly silent that she realised that Ratchet was trying to ping through to her comm link.

"Arcee! Arcee are you there?".

Returning her awareness to her surroundings, she finally replied to his fretting voice.

"Yeah, Ratchet. I'm here".

Getting up from her prone position, she looked down to where the conflict had taken place. It was a fair way down from where she stood, but looking to the side, she saw a safer route down from the elevated flat along the steadily declining cliff face.

"Oh thank Primus" he uttered. "We've been trying to reach you for close to two kliks now. You had us worried".

"Ratchet, trust me when I say I've been a bit occupied" she said, as she carefully scaled her way down, using the wheels on her legs to steady and slow her descent.

"You were discovered?" he asked, dreading the possibility of another injured Autobot.

"No, far from it" she reassured. "In fact..you wouldn't believe me if I told you".

"Try me" he said, waiting patiently for her answer.

As she neared the lower platform, she gracefully leaped off the cliff face, flipped and braced her legs, landing safely mere metres from the fallen seeker.

"I think Optimus should be there to hear this too" she suggested, carefully stepping around the melted and broken pieces of metal debris that had been blasted off on impact. A short distance away from the seeker, she could just make out the remains of a delicate wing that she assumed may have snapped on forceful impact, judging by the way the inner fibres looked splintered and frayed where they would have been attached to the seeker's back.

"I'm here, Arcee" a rumbling voice answered. "What happened?".

"Well.." she started. "Megatron scrapped Starscream".

A brief silence followed as her statement sunk in.

Optimus was the first to speak.

"Are you sure?" he asked, his tone of voice undecipherable.

"I saw it with my own optics" she said without hesitating. "He took a blast, right to the chest. The 'Cons haven't even come back to collect the body..poor slagger" she added on without remorse.

"How does it look?" Ratchet asked. "Is there any...doubt?".

"There are pieces of him strewn everywhere – it's not a pretty sight" she said, cringing slightly as her sensory receptors picked up the distinct smell of burning metal and energon. "There's no way he could've made it through that" she commented further, glancing at the charred metal plating that had melted and withered away from the heat of the blast, exposing some of his inner circuitry.

"If you're certain.." Optimus began solemnly, his tone triggering something in Ratchet.

"Oh no, please don't suggest what I think you're about to suggest..".

Arcee wasn't sure what caused Ratchet to groan in annoyance, but she had a feeling if Ratchet didn't like it, then neither would she.

"I believe it may be up to us..to place his body to rest".

"Optimus you can't be serious" Ratchet objected immediately. "I can't even begin to describe the implications of that, and I'm certain they wouldn't do the same for us!".

Another silence passed as Optimus contemplated his words, and Arcee waited for his answer.

"But it's not just about that, is it?" Ratchet questioned.

Optimus sighed before he spoke again, this time more gravely.

"Should I remind you all that, though we trust our human friends, you know as well as I that there are some humans who would gladly take advantage of their find, should his body be discovered. We cannot, under any circumstances, allow the humans access to our technology. I fear that if they do, their world will soon spiral into the same chaos that destroyed ours. Starscream may have been our enemy and betrayed by his own side.."

'Yeah, there's nothing ironic about that' Arcee thought sarcastically as she bent down to pick up his wrist, lifting his limp arm before dropping it. 'Like a brick..'. She placed a hand over his mouth, checking for any sign of an intake as Optimus continued.

"..but regardless of his own war crimes, it would go against every moral code we stand for if we allow the humans to desecrate his body for the sole intent of creating weapons of warfare and destruction".

'Trust Optimus to have a way with words' Arcee thought as a bitter taste formed in her mouth, finally removing her hand from its position. No intakes, whatsoever.

"Well, by the looks of it, we may have to follow through on that" Arcee commented. "No movement, no intakes, no heat radiation – I can't even hear a spark beat, and his plating is too misshapen to even attempt a manual spark-check" she paused for a moment. "I could always pry it open if you're that desperate to find out".

"No, no. That won't be necessary" Optimus said. "Thank you Arcee. We'll make the necessary arrangements from here".

"Optimus, may I speak freely?" she asked, her eyes inspecting the malformed plating and the melted indent close to the centre of the seeker's chest that had been a direct result of the blast.

"Of course".

"I don't entirely agree with this" she openly said, choosing her words carefully. She knew she had nothing to fear from expressing her own opinion, but she also wished to remain respectful to her leader's choice – deep down she knew his was the right one, but she couldn't help but feel the need to offer her side (and most likely the side of the other team members) to him.

"I mean, I understand that we can't let the humans find him, but are we really going to 'put him to rest'? Are we supposed to forget everything he's done, just like that? If his own side didn't take him back, what does that say about them? What does that say about him?".

'Who is to say he deserves to be put to rest?' Arcee wanted to say, but held her words back.

Optimus sighed, his voice understanding.

"In times like this, Arcee" he started, in that same familiar tone she knew he used when he was about to make a point to convince her otherwise of her own opinion, "It does not matter what anything says about them or him, but rather what it says about us. If we don't set the right example, then whose lead do the others follow?".

He let a short moment pass to allow his reasoning to sink in.

"I am not asking you to forgive and forget, only that we make an effort to remain honourable and, no matter how atrocious his crimes had been in life, hope that he attains the peace he never found during life, in death. It is all we can do".

Arcee exhaled the heat from her systems, her expression passive as she contemplated his words.

"..I'm still not entirely sure".

"You have the right to your own opinion, Arcee, but know that we do this not because we have to, but because it is right".

Arcee nodded to herself.

"I understand".

"We'll meet you on the other side soon. Ratchet shouldn't be much longer".

"Take your time, he's not going anywhere" she said, looking back over the body.

Despite Optimus' reasoning, she still couldn't help but feel a great deal of animosity towards the seeker. She had no doubt that any Cybertronian who had lived and fought during the war on their side would say that there would be no love lost at Starscream's death. His own side even despised him – Arcee would imagine if they'd come back for the body, they would be inclined to salvage him for parts, or better yet offer his frame as a gift to Megatron to hang as a trophy.

A part of her could only feel glad at that and say the seeker finally got his dues...but then again, a smaller part of her thought, putting two and two together before the realisation hit her: if they weren't going to deal with the body, then no one would.

No one would come back for him.

No one would mourn him.

No one would remember him.

No one would care.

She felt a stab of pain in her spark, not exactly for him, but not exactly...not for him. She didn't know where that thought came from, where that feeling had originated, but it made her feel and think – if it had been her in his place, wouldn't she want to be remembered? To know that even though she had left that world and moved on to the next, that the living were still thinking of her, remembering who she had been, what she had done?

That was not to say Starscream wouldn't be remembered – in fact the after-effects of his 'handiwork' would no doubt still be felt for years to come. It was just...the war had gone on for so long, was there anything good of him anyone remembered. Who he had been, what he had done – as far as she was concerned, Arcee could not think of anything. Judging by his rank and his frame – or what was left of it – he was much older than she was, by how many stellar cycles she could not tell, he probably came from the high, aristocratic class of Cybertron whereas she had come from the average middle-class caste. If the war had never happened, if they were left to live their lives as normal, she was certain she would never have met him, let alone have known him.

Without a doubt, she concluded, it would have been better that way.

She sighed, suddenly feeling uncomfortable kneeling beside his corpse for so long.

Primus what was she even doing there?

She shook her head, willing to remind herself he had been, and still was, the enemy. But her thoughts kept coming back.

No one would mourn him. No one would remember him. No one would care.

Her processor was urging her to speak words she didn't want to say or even think of saying, because even in death he did not deserve to hear them. He was a Decepticon, through and through. He didn't deserve their pity, for all he'd done, and yet there they were, his own enemies about to take it upon themselves to give him of all 'Cons any semblance of peace.

'Yeah, and I'm sure you'd do the same' she thought sarcastically. 'You're more likely to turn us in for scrap if you had the chance. So much for gratitude'.

But looking back down to glimpse at the features on his face, she saw a pained expression, filled with unease and hurt and a sense of..shock? Disbelief? She didn't know. She didn't want to know, because she knew if she over analysed it, her mind would start drifting again, and she would lose her focus on the bigger picture.

A Decepticon was a Decepticon.

'No exceptions' she tried to convince herself, but remembering the way he lay prone on the ground, pathetically trying to convince Megatron to spare his life after so long, how he didn't even try to fight him...he had tried to change, even if the only motivation was to spare his own life.

"Look where that got you" she finally said out loud, looking back down at him. "I don't know who's more more to blame – Megatron for keeping you around this long, or you for believing he wouldn't turn on you in the end, for all the good you've done".

A soft sigh escaped her, shaking her head to herself.

"I..I guess even someone like you should have someone to remember them," she finally admitted. "Not that you deserve it" she spoke very quietly, not thinking of only his situation, but of hers, and Bumblebee's and Bulkhead's, and Optimus' and Ratchet's..

'And Cliff jumper's and Tailgate's' she thought sadly, before taking a deep intake, feeling an imaginary weight lifting off her shoulders.

"Well, I think that's enough talk for one solar cycle, and more than I'd ever say to you in a lifetime" she concluded, but with not quite as much malice as she'd intended, before getting up to stretch her legs, her joints aching from their cramped position.

And then she heard it, the distinct sound, however faint, of a ragged intake, followed by a very weak splutter. Arcee instantly transformed her arm into her primary weapon and aimed it at the seeker, who had only barely managed to online his optics as a fresh trickle of energon appeared from his mouth.

She couldn't believe what she was seeing – how could his body take that much abuse and survive? What was keeping him alive? How could she not find any sign of life in him before?

It didn't take long for her to recover from the shock, and her hand shot to her audio component as she contacted the base, unsure of how to proceed. In the end, it wasn't up to her to decide the fate of the Decepticon anyway, and regardless of the decision that was sure to be made, it didn't look as if he would last for much longer.

"Arcee to base, we have a situation" she started, not waiting for a response. "Starscream is alive".

A short moment passed before a voice answered.

"He's what?" Ratchet asked incredulously.

"I know, I can't believe it myself".

"How..How is that possible?".

"Trust me, I've been asking myself the same thing" she said, more to herself than anything. "What should we do?".

There was silence from the other side, and Arcee took a brief glance at the seeker. His vision, somehow, had managed to focus up enough to see her (or so she thought) through his still-hazy optics. A small, quiet whimper managed to escape him – whether he was trying to speak or cry out in pain, she wasn't too sure, but she forced herself to look away, afraid that if she looked any longer she would not be able to restrain herself, and end his misery right there and then.

'Primus forbid it would be that easy' she thought uneasily, as the silence seemed to stretch on, threatening to disrupt her semi-calm state.

"Frag it, I can't just sit here and watch, what do you want me to do?" she only just restrained herself from yelling over the comm link.

Finally, a voice answered.

"Arcee," Optimus began, "what's his status?".

A mental sigh of relief escaped her, her processor finally settling at the sound of a command.

"Not good" she said, looking over to the seeker once more. "He's lost a lot of energon, and as far as I can tell his vital systems are heavily damaged. I'm no medic...but if we were to leave him here, he definitely wouldn't make it the night – I'd go so far as to say he won't make it the next five kliks at this rate".

Her words made her pause for a brief second, a small notion nagging at the back of her processor.

"Optimus..we are going to leave him here, aren't we?".

"I don't believe that was ever an option, now more so than ever" Optimus said sombrely.

"Don't tell me, we're going to..?" Arcee trailed off. She didn't need to finish her sentence for Optimus to know what she was asking.

"I think you very well know the answer to that, Arcee" Optimus replied, confirming her thoughts – and, to her dismay, her fears. "We cannot allow this opportunity to pass by. However slim the chances are, we must maintain the hope that should Starscream make a full recovery under our care, he may share valuable information that may turn the tides of this war".

And then he gave the order.

"Arcee, stabilise Starscream as best you can. Ratchet, gather your medical equipment for an emergency on-site patch up. We won't let him die, not on our watch".

End Chapter One

Important Note: I'll be busy for the next two weeks (at most, I think) with my finals, so I won't be working on the next chapter until after then. Unfortunately I have a notorious streak for taking a looooong time to update, but hopefully I'll be able to spew something out by Christmas.

As always, reviews are appreciated and constructive criticism is very welcome! Feel free to be picky about the characters - I can't stand OOC-ness myself :)