Starscream flitted around the deck of the Harbinger, wings bristling and engines thrumming, feeling guilt and panic flood his brain in a sudden flurry of realisation. He'd exiled himself, abandoned the Decepticons and all they stood for, to make room for his goal of conquering them. In doing so, he'd inevitably terminated his ability to walk freely upon the Nemesis and interact with any of the crew members. That meant everyone on board was free to do as they pleased without their strict yet fair second in command's ever watchful optics boring into them. Everyone, that meant Soundwave.

For Primus' sake, he'd left Knock Out with Soundwave!

Starscream threw his arms into the air in frustration, plotting and contemplating his next course of action. What should he do? He couldn't just leave the medic for dead, or for Soundwave, and Megatron wouldn't offer any form of support or protection to the erratic little mech. Due to his paranoia, Knock Out had refrained from informing Breakdown of the situation, and though the seeker knew full well the Stunticon would never let Knock Out be harmed, Starscream knew Soundwave well enough. He knew that creeper would take advantage of the blue mech's ignorance. Knock Out was, effectively, alone.

And for the love of the Allspark - blessed be its name - he'd left him with Soundwave!

The possibility of convincing Knock Out to accompany him in exile had already crossed his mind, along with the fact that Breakdown would not object; just follow the medic like a lost puppy, but that would only serve him safety for a short time. Soundwave would track them down. Soundwave would kill Starscream for trying to protect his target. Self-preservation protocols let off alarms in his helm at the very notion, so that scheme had been quickly scrapped.

Perhaps taking Knock Out away wasn't the best solution. Maybe taking Soundwave out of the equation was the answer. Lure him away, perhaps? Assassinate him and add yet another reason to Megatron's list for wanting his head. Again, self-preservation warnings popped up in his CPU.

Every theory, idea and hypothesis was eventually shot down by his need to keep himself alive. He was a rogue now; a renegade, again. He needed to start acting like it.

That thought made him freeze in his steps, staring at the wall directly opposite. Why should he try to save Knock Out? What compelled him to protect and rescue the medic so drastically that he was almost willing to sacrifice himself for him? Well, he didn't need to be reminded of what happened the last time he tried to protect someone, to know what the answer should be.

Nothing. Not a damn thing was forcing him to save Knock Out from Soundwave. If anything, the creeper's obsession with the medic was his advantage, keeping his attention off of Starscream. It was out of pity that he'd let Knock Out hide behind him before, but what of it now? He was alone, just like he was after Skyfire... no, don't think about it. You'll only end up hurting again.

With a firm nod to himself, he looked up at the wall again, regarding it as though Knock Out were standing in between them.

"Well, my friend...," He said gravely to the grim silence of the Harbinger. "Good luck." And with that, he turned his back on the wall, and walked out.

.X.

Knock Out stared blankly into space, stylus suspended above the data pad as if time stood still in the medic's world. He'd been sitting there for cycles, trying to begin his data log, but words just couldn't seem to float from the stylus and onto the screen.

He'd had this... sinking feeling... like something, somewhere, had just tipped his fate in a horrible direction. And somehow from this feeling, he felt somewhat abandoned and... betrayed. But what in the world could it be? To make him suddenly feel like there was no one left in the world he could really turn to, aside from his partner. It was almost as if... Starscream had...!

No, the Seeker was self-centred and greedy, but he wouldn't just leave him for scrap. He had full trust in Starscream, even if he had yet to return.

That is what he assured himself of, at least. That he still held faith in someone besides Breakdown.

He tapped the end of the stylus against the desk, head bending down to stare at the screen in front of him. "Damn report... why won't you just write yourself?," He muttered, beginning to scribble dark blue letters over a cyan backing.

.X.

Soundwave smiled as Laserbeak's wings flickered and fluttered shyly, the tiny femme slightly leaning into Megatron's gentle touch.

"Excellent work, Laserbeak," Their lord praised, a slightly smile on his lips. "Your work in invaluable. What would we ever do without you, my dear?," He continued to pet and praise her, unaware of her growing blush and rise in spark beat. Unlike Soundwave, who could hear it from where he stood.

'That's adorable!' Frenzy chimed through Soundwave's left optic.

'Pathetic femme junk.' Ravage sneered from the right.

'Feel sorry for her. He doesn't even know...!' Rumble pointed out through his sharp, pointed teeth. They all agreed to that; as far as Megatron knew, Laserbeak was little more than a drone, like the Eradicons. He was purposely kept in the dark about the lovestruck femme beneath those wings, and he would stay that way. There were, after all, a lot of things Megatron didn't know.

"Soundwave," He looked up when addressed. Megatron looked very impressive; the dark purple glow of his optics, bright white strobe lights glaring behind him, while having one arm raised with Laserbeak perched on his wrist. "What news do you have on Starscream?," Soundwave lowered his helm apologetically, shoulders and hips staying perfectly still. Megatron frowned, but didn't show any signs of anger. "Pity... where-oh-where could our wing lord have gotten to, Laserbeak?," He cooed, rubbing a digit under chin. Her optics fluttered shut at the affectionate touch, revelling in his unwavering aura of well-controlled power. "Ah well, he'll return when he is ready, as he always does...," He turned his back to Soundwave, though still allowed the femme to remain with him. "As much as I hate to give that wench a position of power, perhaps Airachnid would be a suitable replacement, for the time being." He considered. Soundwave tilted his head at his master's back, making the tyrant chuckle. "Oh, do not misunderstand, dear Soundwave; I trust Airachnid as far as I can throw her! But who else could I possibly assign to the post?," He pointed out.

Soundwave remained in that slanted position a moment longer than he probably should have, then straightened up and nodded.

"Very well; send her a data burst. Airachnid will be our temporary second in command until Starscream's return. Or until I get tired of that quim and her attitude."


Hey dudes, I understand quite a few of you missed this one! Well, I friend of mine at school has read it and he loves it, and he'll be the one pressuring me to add more chapters outside of the internet. Now then, for the questions!

Soundwave: You've been answering those via inbox...

I felt rude just leaving them hanging, but I've got a couple I haven't answered! Kami Count D asks; Soundwave, why don't you just kill Starscream?

Soundwave: Well, as demonstrated in this chapter, lord Megatron is very attached to Starscream. I do not and will never have the pleasure of offing that little cretin myself. That will be my master's eventual triumph, and his alone.

Ah-huh. Now one from my dear Speedy, which I may have already answered but is important; Why did you eat all your siblings aside from Laserbeak?

Soundwave: Well... our creators came home before I had the chance... but when I finally found her again, they'd made her ugly-pretty again. I couldn't let that be. I tore her apart again and put her back together, making her the way she was always supposed to be; an ugly, razor sharp, unlikeable little piece of slag.

Laserbeak: … Primus, if any of you have any mercy, please; Kill me.

Hail to the princess, baby!