Author's Note: THE FIRST 3 CHAPTERS ARE UPDATED AND COMPLETELY REWRITTEN.
Hello everybody! After a longgg absence from this story, I can now present 3 completely rewritten chapters for Captive. I cannot apologize enough for being gone for so long, life got crazy and I was just not happy with my chapters for the story already, and even though I know you guys loved it no matter what, I am sure you will love the new chapters even more. I hope I do not disappoint you guys. Some portions I did keep, but most is completely new and redone, so please, enjoy!
Ragged breath bounced off the cave walls as a trembling Seeker propped himself up against a large boulder. The mech's usually bright red optics were dim and cloudy, accompanied by a grim expression on his face. He held his right side tenderly, as murky blue energon oozed from a large, raw gash on his midsection. He regretted his earlier actions; he had climbed a large cliff to reach some energon scraps and had lost his footing, plummeting to the ground as a razor sharp boulder pierced his side in the process.
Starscream pitied himself. It seemed as if the Primus' damned universe was intent on putting him through so much pain, and yet through all the agony he had gone through for millions of stellar cycles, he managed to survive it all; pain caused by Megatron. He gritted his dentals in mild anger. There was nothing more in the universe that the Seeker hated than his old 'master'. As he laid his head back on the rock wall, he came to the conclusion that his time with the Decepticons had been a waste of time. Look at me now, He thought bitterly. I have gained nothing from them. He thought about that for a klik. Perhaps he would've been killed early in the war if he had sided with the Auto bots? He furrowed his eyebrows. He doubted that.
His wound began to throb more intensely now. Thinking seemed to make it worse.
Shutting his optics, he heard a deafening boom of thunder nearby and the rain outside coming down with more force. It was loud, ceasing to relieve his massive processor ache. The Seeker turned his gaze towards the opening of the cave, watching the rain drops glide through the air and shrivel up into the earth.
To say he was exhausted was an understatement. He had been on a heist for any energon he could manage, and returned with nothing. He was in a daze, and throughout the day he had been on the brink of falling into stasis. His chassis was starting to shut down from the lack of energon. He was afraid that if he went into recharge, he would never awaken.
Forcing himself up to be in a more comfortable position, Starscream coughed roughly, panting heavily. With his tanks growling for energon, he let out a brief moan. Is this really how I will die? He held his breath for a second, trying to recollect himself. He was a proud mech; he wouldn't go out without a fight. His intakes hitched and his optics widened, on the verge of panic. He laid his helm onto the large boulder next to him as his breathing normalized.
His mind began to wander, and countless 'what if's' now filled it.
What if the war didn't start? What if I had successfully disposed of Megatron? What if I had united with the Autobots? What if I never became a Decepticon? What if things had played out differently with the Autobots when they showed me mercy..?
His attention swerved to one previous encounter with the Autobots when he claimed he wanted to form an allegiance. He cussed in Seeker cant. Of course he would've destroyed any chance he had with them; he was cursed, pathetically prone to making such stupid mistakes.
The Autobot femme, Arcee, wandered into his processor next. Primus, he wanted to kick himself in the aft for admitting that he terminated her previous partner. It was because of that her hatred for him seared, though honestly he didn't blame her; but a part of Starscream really loathed himself for it. He could have been in the safety and warmth of the Autobot base or even the Nemesis at the moment; and quite frankly, either option sounded nice at the moment. The Seeker's poor judgement seemed to always come back and bite him in the aft. Perhaps if he hadn't have let his little secret slip Arcee would've been more friendly? He wanted to chuckle at that thought. Of course not; she would still despise him. He was a Decepticon, which in her optics, was probably enough reason for her to not get along with him no matter the situation.
Raising a shaky servo to his faceplate, he touched the jagged texture of his scar he acquired in his past dispute with the navy motorcycle. Puzzlement overcame him like a tidal wave. Why the slag had she spared his pitiful life?
The almost skeptical question found a way into his processor more than once; why had she sparred his chassis? He had robbed her of her partner and yet she just let him go with no further interrogation? There had to be some classified ulterior motive. There just had to be. He'd seen her anger towards Airachnid and her constant desire for revenge towards the eight-legged femme. She'd always intended to end Airachind's pitiful life as she had robbed Arcee of a partner as well; so why wasn't her hatred towards Starscream as powerful as her hate towards Airachnid?
But then again, he had proved himself able to aid the Autobots a few times now. He helped them in finding Orion Pax by providing the Decepticon spacebridge coordinates, saving Arcee's life…
Perhaps they would give him another chance? He winced. He forgot that he had helped those vile humans steal the yellow Autobot's T-Cog.
Starscream's thoughts were disrupted as pain rocketed throughout his circuitry. He swiftly lowered his servos and reached for the blood soaked earth, mounds of dirt seeping through his fingers as he clenched the terrain in agony. Closing his optics hurriedly, he came to the realization that he was running out of time.
I suppose it's now or never.
"Optimus, we're receiving a high frequency signal with an embedded message," Ratchet announced with mild surprise.
On the nearby couch, the kids had paused their video game and twisted around to view the main computer. Their eyes held a twinkle of curiosity; though Miko's held a more dazzling trace of interest and playfulness.
Optimus Prime stepped forward and halted alongside his medic. His faceplate showed no obvious emotion, and his voice was sturdy, yet soft-hearted when he inquired, "Who is it from?"
"Starscream," Ratchet stated flatly as he glanced over his shoulder at the Prime.
Miko's eyes narrowed and sneered as the other Autobots shuffled closer, their auras emitting a mix of curiosity and revolt.
"'Screamy again?" Bulkhead snorted as Arcee crossed her arms over her chest in unison, her faceplate scrunched up in disgust. Ratchet stayed silent as he opened the message and began to evaluate it.
It was a pregnant silence until Ratchet's optics widened in amazement, causing the room to explode with questions from 'bots and humans alike. He made a sound to silence them. "It would seem to be that Starscream requires medical assistance… again." He huffed before continuing. "But he's asking for-"
"Arcee?" Bulkhead interrupted after sneaking a look at the mainframe. Whipping his helm around, he gazed over at the femme. He watched as the large computer pulled her closer like gravity; her cold expression melted into bewilderment as her optics scanned the message before her. The kids were now standing with their hands grasping the bars overhead, waiting for further explanation.
Arcee leaned back and let out a puff. "It doesn't surprise me that he got himself into a jam again. That mech gets himself into trouble more than Miko." The young girl shouted out a "Hey!", but it went unnoticed by the femme. Her metallic eyebrows furrowed. "But why in the pit would he come crawling to me? It makes no sense."
"It's a trap!" Miko exclaimed as her eyes narrowed with her hands on her hips.
"Perhaps," Ratchet said casually.
"That or he thinks you'll be a little friendlier towards him since your last encounter," Bulkhead retorted.
Arcee inhaled sharply and curled up her hands. "Do you really think I would be friendlyto him just because he helped me out? Considering our past?" She paused. "And that encounter with Airachnid? I would've been just fine if he hadn't have shown up."
"Oooo, somebody's a little defensive," Miko taunted with a smirk.
"What are you implying?" Arcee snapped, bristling.
"Well there's gotta be something more. Why would Starscream just show up out of nowhere and save you?" The teenager clasped two hands together and batted her eyelashes in a flirty manner. Arcee clenched her fists.
"Miko…" Jack said to the young girl in a warning tone.
"It was just a question," she scowled.
Ratchet turned to Arcee with a bit of a frown. "Given Starscream's past treacheries it wouldn't be wise to send you alone; and Miko is right. Starscream is an opportunist; there could possibly be something that he wants in particular."
Bumblebee beeped and whirled in shock at the old medic.
"'Bee's right, Ratchet," Bulkhead advanced towards the old medic. "Why the slag should we help him out again? Last time we helped the slagger out, we nearly ended up getting our afts handed to us, and for what? I'm tired of being his back-up plan." He glared at the received signal. "Besides, he helped M.E.C.H steal 'Bee's T-Cog!"
Ratchet snorted. "Maybe before we got caught up in the crossfire earlier I might've stuck up for him, but considering-"
Arcee wasn't listening anymore. She stood in front of the mainframe in a blank state, frozen. Her face held a hint of tension, suggesting the conflict occurring in her processor. She re-read the message slowly and carefully, determined to ensure she had caught every single little detail. Anger flashed in her optics for a second when she saw one specific detail that made her spark leap every time she read it. He was asking for her, and only her; no one else. She had a gut wrenching feeling that it had to do with their last encounter when the silver mech had saved her life from Airachnid as Miko had suggested.
Does he really just want to talk? She thought as a puzzled look washed over her, though it was quickly wiped away when she narrowed her optics at a certain statement, 'Bring medical kit.' Was he just using that as an excuse for her to go and see him? But why the slag would he want to see her? Arcee was no medic. A more realistic question would be, why the slag would she help him if he was wounded? He said it himself, they were even. She had sparred him in the past, and he returned the favor and that was it. They wouldn't let it hold them back from their ongoing conflict; though the Seeker was making that a little difficult for her. She despised the small amount of pity she felt towards him. She just wanted to beat the silver mech senseless, but a part of her just couldn't do it. He was completely venerable; flightless, injured, and all alone. Perhaps that was why she pitied him; he was isolated from his own kind. Like an outcast. Many years ago, she had been in the same predicament; detaching herself from all 'bots she came in contact with, frightened to ever feel towards another Cybertronian again in the expectation that they would be abducted from her. But she was washed away and revealed with a clean slate when she met Cliffjumper. She deeply thought about that for a moment. Cliffjumper had showed her kindness when she didn't want it, or deserve it. She mentally cringed. It pained her to think about her deceased partner.
A new feeling overcame Arcee. Was assisting Starscream the correct answer? She had been one of the only Cybertronians that he had shown honor to. It was completely out of character. There had to be something more beneath his tough mech act, and she had witnessed a small amount of it. As much as she swayed back and forth in conflict towards the mech, the voice in the back of her processor believed that he had potential to become an Autobot.
"Every sentient being deserves an opportunity for redemption. Without that hope we may never achieve lasting peace."
The small feeling in her gut increased.
"I thought settling scores would allow me to move on; instead I chased away our hope of winning this war anytime soon." She heard her own voice in her head, sorrowful and defeated.
"Wisdom cannot be granted, Arcee. It must be earned; sometimes with a cost."
The same phrases kept repeating themselves. She knew what was happening. It was trying to encourage her. Urge her to aid the mech who extinguished her partner's spark. She tried to fight it, but it irked her furthermore. She feared that it wouldn't disappear if she didn't do something soon.
Why does he deserve my help? She wanted to cry out in annoyance. Was she supposed to leave behind her past differences with the silver mech and start fresh? How?
She snapped out of her trance and realized that everyone's gaze was rested on her. She cleared her throat and stepped forward to Ratchet.
"Groundbridge me to his coordinates." It was not a request, it was a demand. Arcee didn't let her gaze falter when she looked at the medic's baffled reaction. Let's just get this over with.
He sputtered, optics wide. "You're certain?"
She scanned over her teammates equally bemused expressions. "Just hand me the supplies I need before I change my mind," she grumbled.
"Arcee, I don't think it's a good idea to go alone," Jack stated, his voice steady, though his face held a look of concern for his Cybertronian partner.
"I don't think it's a good idea to go at all," Bulkhead rumbled. As soon as he had said it, Arcee's belly twisted.
"Think I can't handle it?" She took a challenging step towards him, brow plates drawn together. "I'm not a sparkling, Bulkhead. I can take care of myself just fine." Her hard appearance only faltered slightly when she continued, "Besides, you weren't there when he saved me from Airachnid. He-"
"So what? Now he's your knight in shining armor?" Bulkhead spat, cutting Arcee off. "How can you forgive him for what he did to Cliffjumper?"
"I haven't," she growled. "I'm trying to do what will benefit the team. If we could just change him for the better-"
"You're defending him?" he barked.
Arcee's optics flashed. "I didn't say that!"
"What's the point of you assisting him anyway? So he finally gets the chance to shove the knife in your back?"
Arcee considered his words for a moment, but mentally waved them off as she walked towards the lifeless portal. "It's not your decision to make."
"Arcee, none of us doubt your abilities, but it would not be wise to go unaccompanied," Optimus placed a servo on her shoulder gently.
"If you're that determined, then I'm coming along," Ratchet said as he emerged from the med bay with a small Cybertronian first-aid kit grasped in his hand. Arcee hadn't even noticed him slip out of the main room.
"But Ratchet, I don't-"
"Don't be so stubborn," he scoffed, cutting her off mid-sentence. "Besides, you have only basic knowledge in the medical field. You need my help." As he walked past Bumblebee he told him to lock onto the given coordinates and power up the Ground Bridge, he obeyed and the portal whirled to life.
"If there are any complications, contact us immediately," Optimus informed them.
Bulkhead looked like he was about to argue but kept quiet. Jack kept his mouth shut as he watched the two 'bots go, respecting Arcee's judgement; although he secretly hoped that she knew what she was doing.
Arcee glanced back over her shoulder at Jack and gave a small reassuring smile as they walked through the portal.
Little did she know that would be the last time she would see her partner.
"Take a seat, men." Silas' icy tone echoed through the MECH agents' ears as they stood around a large table, saluting their leader before quietly sitting. The room was bleak and poorly lit and the utter silence that followed only intensified the melancholy atmosphere. Silas' best ranking soldiers shuffled their feet in anticipation of hearing of what was the cause of their leader's recent discomfort.
"I have gathered you all here this evening for merely an exchange of opinions," he began, strong arms folded neatly behind his back as he slowly paced the room. "Project Chimera is undoubtedly MECH's most challenging endeavor yet; though I believe I speak for us all when I say that it shall be the most rewarding." His scarred face held a hard frown. "But despite our efforts, Project Chimera has not advanced past the early stages. It is no secret that we have obtained the remains of what used to be Breakdown, but we still do not possess the tools nor the machinery to create our very own living machine."
A slim man at the very front of the table hesitantly rose to his feet. "Sir, if I may?"
"Yes?" Silas nodded.
"Wouldn't it be much simpler if we used a method that did not require us to assemble the machine ourselves?"
Curious, Silas raised a brow. "Please enlighten us, Commander Loubet."
Loubet raised his voice as he explained, "By obtaining the chassis of Breakdown, it may have not benefitted the project directly, but indirectly." He glanced at his comrades before continuing. "Our MECH surgeons have been studying every inch of the Cybertronian's biology, and have been graced with magnificent results."
Silas inquired, "Such as?"
"We have learned that Cybertronians possess their own unique reproduction system," the Commander rumbled, "which may be the answer we are searching for." He studied his leader's newfound grin.
"You never cease to impress me, Loubet," Silas rasped, circling the room, his soldiers intently watching. "This child must possess the qualities of a military partner; stunning agility, cunning instincts, stamina, and drive." He paused shortly, collecting his thoughts. "I want the Autobot femme as the dam."
A different soldier timidly rose to his feet also, his voice hoarse, "How are we going to lure her out of the safety of the Autobot base? She is quite a resilient machine despite her size."
"That is exactly why I want her. Do not stress upon the matter, Johnston. We have managed to coax the Autobots out of their base before, and we shall to do so again. But we will worry about her as soon as we have our mech."
Commander Loubet's brows furrowed. "Who do you believe is fit for the task? A large, sturdy mech such as Optimus Prime? Megatron?"
"No, they may seem to be worthy candidates, but they do not hold the qualities I am looking for. I am thinking of a mech much more compatible." Silas turned to Johnston and said, "I want you to locate Starscream's bio signature at once."
"Starscream?" Loubet sputtered. "That treacherous snake? Why him?"
"He may be deceitful, but Starscream was Megatron's Second in Command for a reason. His strength, drive, and unpredictable behaviour makes him more dangerous than any other Cybertronian. I want a sparkling of great prosperity."
"As you command, sir," Johnston nodded.
Silas banged a sturdy hand on the face of the table, "Resume your positions. I want those machines in my possession at once!"
It was hours later when Silas had received a call from Johnston, informing him to report to the main control center immediately. With his hands curled into the pockets of his frayed taupe military jacket, he strolled past the large doors and into MECH's control center, Johnston eagerly waiting for him.
"Silas, sir, we've picked up on a Decepticon energy signature."
The broad shouldered man emerged from the shadows, lights of the massive supercomputer mirrored onto his musky clothing. His scarred face was impassive as he placed a sturdy hand onto the large piece of technology before him.
"Starscream?" Silas' voice rumbled in an almost tender fashion.
"Affirmative," Johnston replied. A raspy chuckle addressed the grunt as the man eyed the screen with ravenousness. "He is the only energy signature I'm detecting."
"What is his location?" he demanded. After the soldier steadily worked his fingers on the console, he replied, "Canada, sir. From the coordinates provided, we understand that the mech is present in the southern forests of British Columbia."
Silas seemed pleased. "Right close to home," he remarked.
He placed his hands behind his back. "Any further progress in tracing the femme?"
"No," the smaller man said hesitantly.
"Then start up the helicopters immediately!"
The soldiers scrambled like ants, grabbing the necessary tools as required, and hopped into their designated helicopters. Silas grinned dangerously as he sauntered towards his escort, murmuring to himself, "Let phase one begin."
When the Ground Bridge opened, Starscream flinched from the bright light, in which he gripped his side while gritting his dentals in pain.
When Arcee and Ratchet were completely through the groundbridge, they were both taken aback at the grisly sight they were welcomed with.
Starscream's body looked like it had been to the Pit and back. His armor was covered in scrapes and scuffs; the usual gleam it held was nonexistent. His chassis was not the only part of him that appeared lifeless and dull; his optics lacked luster and held a look of tediousness. Decepticons were known for their intense stares, and his was gone. As her optics trailed down his body, she caught a glimpse of the horrific gash in his side, seeping energon into the growing pool around him. His arms were shaking as he desperately tried to hold himself upright against the rock wall of the cave.
"By the Allspark..." Ratchet breathed. From the look on his face, Arcee assumed that the medic didn't expect Starscream's condition to be as serious as it was, and neither did she.
They slowly and carefully approached the Seeker, as if approaching an injured wild animal. Arcee had transformed her arms into her blasters, only for precautions.
Starscream, gathering the strength to lift his head, took a look at the two Autobots and gave a grunt of amusement.
"I thought I only requested the femme," he rasped, resting his head back onto the cave wall. "Autobots... never listen."
"Just never mind." Ratchet muttered as he gathered all the supplies he required. "You are in too serious of condition to be worrying about that." The minute Ratchet's hand touched Starscream's armor, he fidgeted.
"It hurts," the Seeker whined, his voice cracking.
Ratchet made an irritated face. "Well if you sit still, it won't hurt nearly as much." When he lightly touched Starscream's wound, the Seeker yelped in pain. Ratchet seemed to ponder for a second. Arcee noticed the medic's expression and asked him what was the matter, but the medic made a sound to silence her.
"If it's what I think it is..." He murmured mainly to himself, taking a closer look at Starscream's gash. Zooming his optics in a bit, the medic was able to make a conclusion.
"There is something solid embedded in the wound, but even with the utensils I have, my hands are too large to get it out gently."
Arcee didn't like where this was going.
"You're going to have to extract it for me."
The femme shook her head, optics wide. "No way. What if I make it worse?"
Ratchet gave a snort. "You were quite confident back at base to patch him up, and yet you can't handle this?" He motioned to the still oozing wound in the silver mech's side. Arcee seemed to reconsider, but Ratchet interrupted her thoughts when he said, "I suggest you move quickly; that is unless you wish for him to die from the loss of energon?"
She made a face of irritation but offered her hand to the medic, in which he dropped a pair of tweezers in it. The Arcee gave a defeated sigh as she focused her attention on the infected wound. She placed her free hand on Starscream's chest to steady herself, and when she darted her optics towards his own, it seemed like he didn't mind the contact. She zoomed in her optics and distinguished the object that she was after. Tenderly, she directed the tweezers closer and closer, and with a quick flick of the wrist, she plucked it out.
"Nghh!" Starscream's hands flew to his side, knocking Arcee back a few feet. "That really hurt!" He held his side tenderly, whimpering.
Arcee frowned at him as she lifted herself off the ground. "Big baby," she muttered, dusting her chassis off. She lifted her hand to examine the tweezers that she still grasped. Tucked in between the two plates of metal was a rock fragment covered in blue fluid. Its edges were quite sharp.
"Yikes," Arcee thought aloud.
"We need to stop the bleeding immediately," Ratchet said, "He's already extremely low on energon."
Arcee nodded, and threw aside the rock fragment in her grasp. Unsure of what to do with the tweezers still in her hand, she gave Ratchet a questioning glance.
"Erm, just set it down for now," he said awkwardly.
The two-wheeler did as she was told, and took a couple steps back to let the doctor work, as it seemed that he no longer needed her help. Arcee stood in a relaxed manner, perfectly content with watching. She crossed her arms over her chest and let her optics trail up Starscream's wounded body. An unintentional wince occupied her features. She couldn't believe she actually felt sorry for the silver mech; she hated herself for it.
A faint buzzing echoed off of the cave walls and delicately embraced her audios. She raised a metallic eyebrow as she listened to the odd sound slowly increase. Her optics darted to Ratchet and Starscream, which both seemed to be oblivious. As it became much louder, a realization hit her.
Bristling, she quickly transformed her hands into blasters
"Ratchet, we've got comp-!" Arcee was cut off mid-sentence when a blast of electricity unexpectedly hit her body. The femme shook violently as she dropped to the rocky terrain, completely helpless. She laid there in shock, utterly useless to fend off the cluster of humans advancing towards her and the others. Her optics were wide as she trembled from the energy current travelling through her chassis, sending sparks from the tips of her armor to the dusty ground.
Before Arcee could register what was happening, static began to cloud her vision. Everything slowed down and the Cybertronian was bitterly embraced into darkness.