As I finally got time to catch up on some of the TF Prime episodes, I realised how detached this fanfic was from the overall story, as well of how OOC I had made some characters. And I am pretty ashamed of myself for letting it all slide. As such, I've been rewriting every chapter to fit in better with the canon, and hopefully making it all more believable.
Instead of after Crossfire, this will be taking place after Tunnel Vision, modifying the timeline slightly and having Arcee and Bumblebee return before the start of 'Hurt', while also somewhat intercepting with the start of Triangulation, and then will build on from there.
'She knew with painful certainty that the opposite of love was not hate, but indifference'
Chapter 1; Emerge
The evening sunlight filtered through the autumn forest, leaving dappled shadows on Arcee's sleek frame. She left the base for scout duty with Bumblebee just over an hour ago, and her peds were already aching. It didn't help that she had barely returned from New York when she was sent to scout with Bee. Iacon Relic race or not, Optimus demanded that the surrounding territory be kept as safe and 'Con-free as possible. As for the Phase Shifter, Optimus had it stored away in the deep vaults of the base.
Frequently, she stumbled on stones and sprawled tree roots, and the uneven ground wasn't making it any better. Next to Bridge operation, scout duty was her least favourite job - especially in the forest areas - but at least she wasn't stuck in the base all day.
A series of Cybertronian beeps and chirps sounded from Arcee's comm system; Bee was signalling a grateful absence of Decepticon activity.
"You head back to base, Bee. I still got a few places to search," she replied to her yellow companion. A few clicks and the distant woosh of a Ground Bridge closing, and Arcee was alone.
15 minutes later, the blue femme found what she'd been looking for. The halved wreck of the Harbinger, embedded in the dusty ground and hidden among the rocks surrounding the crash site. Optimus had given Arcee specific instructions to scout the remains before bridging back, perhaps hoping she'd stumble across some form of Cybertronian tech or an energon cache. The ship brought memories of Airachnid to mind, as well as their most recent encounter. She was the central mind of an entire hive of Insecticons, Primus knows how she got the rabid creatures under her control. Though at least with Airachnid in stasis the insects would be out of action. And then there was their penultimate meeting: Arcee strung up like a trapped animal, the spider-femme about to snuff out her spark when... Starscream appeared.
'Consider us even,' is what he said before sauntering off, leaving Arcee dazed in the dirt. She still couldn't figure out what caused the deadly Decepticon to save her, the enemy. Starscream seemed incapable of any emotions other than hate, pride and greed. But in that one moment, the Autobot was sure she something like mercy flicker in the mech's blood-red optics, something that seemed almost...human.
Her own optics widened as she refocused on the task at hand: Search the ship. Report anything suspicious. Do not engage in battle. Now that she thought about it, Optimus had most likely arranged this mission as a test for Arcee. She'd claimed to have no desire for revenge against Airachnid anymore, but their last mission proved otherwise. Her leader wouldn't have much trust in her to obey orders after that.
She took in a ventful of cold air to keep herself aware of the surroundings, and entered the wreckage.
Arcee's peds clanked against the metal floor of the Harbinger, sending ominous echoes down the deserted corridors. She peered through every doorway and opening she came across, blasters at the ready. So far only one of the closed doors she came across still had its motion detectors working and slid open to reveal a laboratory- all computer banks and empty protoform holders. Too advanced for Arcee's limited science knowledge, but she'd let Ratchet know it was there. Back to the search, scrutinising every shadow for signs of Cons or other hostiles. With Airachnid gone, the ship would be up for grabs for any bot in need of shelter.
'Which applies to Starscream,' Arcee realised, pausing her search to consider the thought. If she encountered the Seeker again...what would happen? Another skirmish would be the most likely - if the only possible - outcome.
Shaking her helm, Arcee continued with her mission, praying to Primus the ship really was as abandoned as it first appeared.
Starscream was used to situations like this by now. Alone, exhausted, starving for energon and in desperate need of repair. And just when he thought the situation could get any worse.
He had terminated the last of his treacherous clones and thought things were finally looking up as he prepared the clone's T-Cog for transplant. The organ wasn't the only thing that the clone had brought with him though. An Insecticon had tracked him back to the original Starscream's base while he was escaping the Nemesis, and the foul creature must have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. It tackled Starscream to the floor, bearing those hideous fangs and sinking them deep into the metal, clipping several energon lines. He was caught off guard and weakened, so it took the rest of his strength and firepower to finish it off.
It had left its mark in the form of countless scratches, bites and all manner of lacerations. To top it all off, the Primus-forsaken creatures carried a kind of poison which was highly dangerous to Cybertronians, and now streaming through Starscream's energon. The pool of the lifesource had collected and since dried underneath his mutilated frame, which was spotted with purple toxins.
The mech had propped himself up on the walls of the ship, to disrupt and slow the progress of the poison coursing through him. He gave himself about another human hour before he offlined. At this point, he didn't even care. If four of him couldn't defeat Megatron, what chance did he have on a world where the weak were stepped on and thrown to the scrapheaps? It was imperialist Cybertron all over again.
Forcing a sigh past his audial systems, Starscream's thoughts took over. 'Is this what it's like for all bots? A sudden influx of petty memories before the spark goes out? Still, could be worse. I could have that power-mad waste of energon Megatron lording over me. Times like this I wonder what I saw in him all those cycles ago...Maybe it was just the typical naivete that came with Cybertron youth.
Maybe I just wanted to prove myself...'