A/N: This is an idea I thought about when I remembered the death of Starscream in Chicago in DOTM and how in G1 and Beast Wars, he was nearly inmmortal and never really died because of his spark mutation. So what if the same were true for the movie trilogy? And how did he get that way? So many questions and if I get good reception from this I may continue the idea, although if I do , don't expect routine updates because I'm working on Just Changed. Written by just me, no Beta to mention. Title inspired by a lyric in the song 'By Now' by Marianas Trench.

Disclaimer: I don't own Transformers. If I did, I would die from infinite happiness, most likely. ^-^

I don't own Ratchet's alt mode Hummer either, although I don't think I would happily have a heart attack if I had that. Now an F-22... yeah I don't own that either.

"Talking" 'Thinking' Flashback Dream state :Comm link:


Prologue

Strident gunfire sounds in the southern end of the ravaged, broken city, yet among the littered carcases and strewn jagged debris that was once tall glass skyscrapers, each individual in their reach to the sky and each stretching to be the most elevated of all, there was an eerie silence that in its own right was just as deafening. In a place like this, where no movement is seen and no voices are heard, the solitude and stillness would make you wish to be on the other side. On the other side of the river, where the shots were fired, the energon splattered and whole lives torn to pieces in front of all who are unfortunate enough to witness such carnage. Families split apart forever and friends lost for eternity and a day due to nothing more that the indirect violence of the metallic creatures warring against each other. In places like this, where all hope is lost and the glorified light that would streak between concrete prison-like walls never shines again, you wish that the gods would be merciful and end you pitiful existence. Unfortunately, not all beings have such a privilege...


Should Know Me By Now

The shots had stilled and drawn blood had long since ceased to flow. What was left of the once proud city was now a messy, desolate wasteland compared to it's former fleshy glory. Wreckage that was strewn heavily upon the cracked and fractured street was crushed and crumpled under the weight of the large lime metallic figure stepping above them, letting out the only noise apart from the distant cheering and celebration that was continuing its fourteen hour streak, to echo coldly between the singed walls of buildings and irreparable bodies of sparkless Decepticons. To Ratchet, a medic who's very life was sworn towards protecting and healing any and all, it was a grizzly sight that sent shivers down his back struts. Such a disregard for any life went against what the Autobots now stood for, but then again, not all is fair in love and war. And such an unfair, long and unjust war it had been, where love had no place or home for some. Love was cherished like trust with the Autobots and few in their army were ever truly alone. So in a way, as he gazed and scanned the empty shells of the once destructive 'Cons lying face down in the ash, he couldn't help but feel pity for them. He couldn't even begin to fathom what it would be like to be in a war full of physical and emotional turmoil and to be utterly rejected from comrades and commanders. What it's like to be alone. There was no place for emotion in the Decepticon populous, where trust was used as a mighty dagger to be stabbed between an ally's back plates and tortuous punishment for failure was a bitter reality. The fact that the opposing troops die so willingly for such a terrible, useless cause was what had called Ratchet to the scattered remains of the once active battlefield, in hopes of finding someone. Anyone.

Ratchet bent down to examine the shattered spark chamber of yet another offline Cybertronian before glancing to this one's darkened face plates. Judging from the lurking ghost signature, rounder face and larger, yet devoid optics, this mech had been nothing more than a youngling. An Autobot would have known not to kill it, for it was not a child's fault where or whom they came from. His optics trailed over the smooth circular puncture wounds in the dark optics as well as between seams in the young one's silver leg plating. Wounds like this were known to Ratchet, for he had pointed out these weak points and helped devise the maneuver to make use of them. A human weapon, or several in this case, had been the cause of this one's premature death. Ratchet's face plates tightened into a scowl which was just as quickly dropped. He sighed forlornly and slowly stood back on his feet. He shifted his head to look around, but his alert sensors told him what his optics could not. None had survived. Not Cybertronian. Not human.

'What's the point,' Ratchet asked himself. 'They're all dead anyway.' Head held low he walked on, glancing in false hope at every movement he saw only for it to be snatched by the wind along with drifting shredded newspapers. 'What am I doing out here anyway? My med bay is destroyed and six feet under.' He reasoned with himself, trying to push down guilt that shouldn't be his. ' Even if I DID find anyone, what would I do with the ugly slagger? I can't bring him to base, we don't even have a base thanks to Sentinel, that traitorous blinded fire truck! Never liked the bastard anyway, Prime or not.' The lime medic grunted and rubbed his faceplates with a thumb and index finger as he remembered the betrayal brought on by the ancient blood red transformer. To think that none of them had seen this coming had made it just the more disheartening to the remaining Autobots. Optimus had taken it harder than everyone and thoroughly blamed himself for the murder of Ironhide.

'Ironhide.' Ratchet felt optical fluid build behind his lenses in remembrance of his dear friend. 'You did not deserve to die like that.' Vorns ago, before the command team had left Cybertron in pursuit of Megatron and the Allspark, Ratchet remembered the conversation he'd had with the midnight trigger happy mech on the preparing launch pad.


"Hey Ratch?" The other sighed. "Yes Ironhide, what?" Ironhide shifted his weight from foot to foot, his energy field giving off a nervous and uncertain tremor. He hesitated. "What is it 'Hide? Can't you see I'm busy? Wheels up in a few breems, and my supplies STILL need to be loaded."The black mech's shoulders slumped as he let out an almighty sigh through his vents, sadness flowing over his dark ocean optics. Ratchet's expression softened and he turned fully to his old friend. " You're thinking about her, aren't you?"

"Can't help it. I just can't get her out of my processor. By Primus Ratchet, I was standing right there and I did absolutely nothin'! How could I have been so stupid?" Sensing the foreboding breakdown, Ratchet moved closer and laid his servo comfortingly on Ironhide's loose shoulder. Ironhide lifted his gaze and locked it with his, and Ratchet could see the self hatred and loathing lurking shallowly beneath.

"What happened to Chromia was NOT your fault 'Hide. She knew the risks she was taking when she took that mission as well as you did. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nobody could have seen that ambush coming." Ironhide's lips rose sadly for a moment. "Ya really think so?" Ratchet nodded positively. "I'm sure of it, she would have wanted to go down fighting, you knew her. She was just as bad as you are, what with all that 'go down fighting' slag." Ironhide smiled weakly and nodded back." That's how ah wanna' go down, kicking all the way. What about yo-"

"Ratchet, Ironhide! Wheels up in a few kliks! Hurry up down there!" The two glanced up to Jazz flapping his servo about from a nearby observing platform, trying desperately to catch their attention at a distance. The two nodded to the silver saboteur before Ironhide turned his helm to look intently at Ratchet. "Ah'll remember that. It's better to look to the future and help someone carry on rather than lingering on their actions in the past. Thanks fer trying to cheer me up Ratch."

"It's a pleasure of be of help." Ratchet gave a final reassuring pat to the weapon specialist's plating before walking off towards a pyramid of balanced metal crates, each holding nearly a ton in spare parts, surgical machinery and the odd spare finger.


Jolting back to the present, Ratchet shuttered his optics rapidly, trying to regain a bearings of his ruined surroundings. He flinched at the racket of a particularity loud gunshot from across the river, reminding him of the celebration that he really ought to be returning to. He still had yet to fully scan and check over Samuel and Carly, never mind Lennox, Epps and the rest of the surviving American soldiers. He gazed once more to the young mech offline on the remains of a cracked and pebbled asphalt street. 'You didn't deserve to die like this.' Ratchet gazed to the darkening sky, smoke and kicked up dust beginning to blend in seamlessly with the end of the long day. 'Neither of you did.'

Ratchet exhaled his breath, not knowing he had held it in until his air pumps screamed to be released. Once again stepping through the wreckage, Ratchet suddenly froze, shell shocked with surprise. There it was again. A light trickle of energy brushing feebly against his own pleadingly, as if calling for help. The energy could not have possibly been from an Autobot, all but Que were knowingly accounted for, and Bumblebee stated that he had been offlined by a close range plasma cannon blast from a sadistic Barricade. 'Who the bloody pit would still be ALIVE out here!' Curious, Ratchet transformed into his emergency Hummer vehicle mode and slowly made his way towards the lingering Cybertronian signal, careful not to pop a tire on the littered glass biting angrily into his rubber.

The signature grew stronger as he approached the twisted remains of the poor fragger lying in discarded pieces on the ground like a bored sparkling's broken toy. Ratchet transformed back into his bipedal mode and grimaced at the energon flowing in pools from the shredded body. He caught glimpse of a long arm a few hundred yards away amongst other things, and when Ratchet saw what remained of the Decepticon's helm he nearly purged in disgust and pity. The 'Con's helm, if you could call it one, was absolutely blown to smithereens and Ratchet's optics widened when he realized just what he was standing in. He quickly shook the broken metal shards from in between his pede armour, shuddering internally at the prospect of stepping unknowingly essentially in another being's blasted brain. The poor slagger's helm was blown from the inside out, no doubt from one of Que's prototype timer bombs. The rest of his body was no better, what he could see of the mech's legs and chassis was dented, scratched and leaking energon all over the ground. One glance at what remained of the 'con's head sported puncture wounds similar, yet unlike those he found on the youngling earlier.

Ratchet kneeled down, resting with one arm perched on his knee as he searched for any telltale signs of bullet wounds. The once scarlet optics, now gray and void without the light of life weren't clearly pierced as they would be if they were shot out with a machine gun, but thoroughly shattered with what appeared to be small claw markings around what remained of the lens. They looked like something had latched onto the main socket wire of the left optic and refused to let go. 'Que's grapple gloves...' Sam said that he and Lennox had taken down a Decepticon, but Ratchet had been hard pressed to believe it, but now the evidence was sniggering and slapping him on the face. Moving down from the destroyed helm and exploded processor, Ratchet moved to the gunmetal grey mech's backplates when he caught sight of something he never thought he would see again. The tattooed wings and engines of a seeker. The mech's identity was finally brought to light. 'Starscream'

Ratchet pulled his hands away from the body, a new scowl plastered on his face. 'I should leave him here to rot.' He reasoned with himself. With that branch of thought he straightened and turned to walk away. He only managed a few steps before Starscream's weak energy field made another desperate effort to cling to his. Stopping, Ratchet looked over his shoulder at the face down flier. Another distressed usher. He sighed to himself uncertainly. 'Never leave a mech behind'. Ratchet's moral code was strongly based on this philosophy. He remembered Ironhide in that moment. ' It's better to look to the future and help someone carry on' He sighed conflictingly. ' Rather than lingering on their actions in the past.'

'Wise words, my old friend.' The green CMO turned back to Starscream and confidently flipped him over to inspect this spark chamber. Several serious cracks and fissures traced his shattered cockpit glass and Ratchet could see the weak sputtering spark flickering in its place snuggled in the chamber. The weak, sputtering, SILVER spark. Puzzled, Ratchet pushed aside his curiosity over the abnormal coloring to examine the damage done to the spark itself. Nothing major, but if Starscream's wounds were left untreated, he would be dead within the Earth hour. 'Primus, it's a miracle he's managed to live THIS long, stubborn fragger.'

Making his decision, Ratchet opened his comm link and contacted Optimus Prime. :Ratchet to Optimus, come in. It's urgent:

:Yes Ratchet, what have you found? Survivors I hope.: Ratchet glanced at the limp F-22 next to him.: I guess you could call him that. Call Mearing, tell her to have at least have my basic remaining equipment online for our return. And would it kill you to control Sideswipe's constant victory shot's. That damned hooligan will give me a spark attack, I swear on it.: Ratchet heard a chuckle echo through the link. : I will try, but I am not so sparkless as to deny him what little freedom he currently has. I think we both know you will deal with him when we return to base. Now, do you know the identity of our survivor?:

:I do, and I'm not sure you're going to like who it is, Prime.: He grunted. :I'm sure whoever it is can be negotiated with reasonably when they regain consciousness, I assume he's offline?: Ratchet snickered to himself with amusement. :If you knew who we were dealing with here, you would be eating your words like a starved turbo-jackal, Orion: Silence met with his comment. :Who exactly ARE we dealing with Ratchet?: Ratchet looked into the dead optics of the wilted flier lying at his feet before answering.

:Starscream, Prime. Starscream:


I'm flying, no floating.

I'm floating freely on an endless cloud. I can feel the wind brush my entire being and I purr in happiness.

A drastic change from the utter racket I usually make on a daily basis. But oh... It feels so GOOD.

Freedom feels good. Amazing, even. An amazing feeling for an amazing change. To be free from the chains binding me to reality. To the cruel veracity that bound me to the Decepticons and MEGATRON. The sheer lack of restraint of my past has no effect on my weary spark here. The Autobots can't touch me here, in the sky. Can no longer haunt my waking dreams.

I feel a pull on my soul and instinctively flinch away from the probing entity. "Go away, I don't want you here. Leave me alone!"

The other is persistent and I can feel myself being unwillingly dragged from my peaceful domain and I can't help but remember what happened last time this happened.

"L-leave me ALONE! Please, just leave me be!" The other ignores my pleas, just like THEY did. Like they refused my desperate cry for mercy when the agony reached its peak. "P-please..." I whimper, utterly terrified. "N-not again! Please! I just want to be left alone!"

They never listened to me, they never cared about my pained screams. In fact, I would not be surprised if they revelled in it, in my suffering. In my PAIN.

I feel a powerful yank from the trespasser before feeling the gravitational anguish of being dragged from the sky and shoved to the ground. It's a common occurrence for me, both in the present and in the past. And as I'm pulled from my ideal reality, I can feel their filthy hands on me again. Probing at my very being. I can't shake off the panic long enough to realize this person felt different than them. But I don't care. I just can't stand it anymore.

Not the shocks, not the concoctions forced down my throat, not the burning radiation searing my spark. Changing it. Making me nothing more than a freakish monster to be caged and tamed.

I can't stand it. Not anymore.


Review! I command it! ... Please? I live on them and without them, I would lose my source of sustenance... Not really, but still... REVIEW!