Author's Note:

A different ending to TFP episode Armada.

Arcee kills Airachnid.

I realized I have written next to nothing on Arcee, and that's a shame because I love her character. I decided to do what the show didn't and KILL Airachnid (i was so mad when Arcee didn't kill her) and tried to do it from Arcee's POV. Arcee, for me, I find a difficult character to write. I think this turned out well though. The exchange between her and Optimus at the end really gets me every time.

The song of most inspiration, "Why So Serious?"
Also, the title gave me fits all over. Couldn't find one I liked . . . finally when with this


I skulked warily through the underground caves. This was too easy . . . Ignoring Optimus trying to make communications with me, I let my audio receptors focus on listening for the slightest sound to alert Airachind's location to me.

I regulated my cycles, being as quiet as I could even though it was likely Airachnid already knew where I was. The tunnel I followed yawned open into a massive cave, and I gritted my dentures at the sight of all the stasis pods. That disgusting 'Con still had more Insecticons at her disposal!

My second blaster joined the first, the tension so thick and the silence so heavy that a razor blade couldn't cut through it. It built like underwater pressure—more and more stifling the deeper I went, but there was no way out now. I continually scanned the area for her, the past pounding against the back of my processor; broken promises haunting me; the lust for revenge exciting my thirst.

Only one of us was leaving these caves alive.

Creeping forward, senses on high alert and blasters humming at the ready, I slowly made my way into the pit, spark pounding so hard it was a wonder Airachnid couldn't hear it. My cycles of air had breath for words, shouting out my location while Airachnid remained hidden. I passed a stasis pod, the faint glow of the Insecticon's visor drawing my attention to flick there, but a reflection so faint and dark seized my attention. Crouched on the wall; two palms raised with glowing doom etched in purple.

I lunged into a run just as Airachnid began to shoot, the lasers erupting with shrill cracks and filling the cave with sound. Decepticon coward! They were all the same, Airachnid worst of all! The only way she could achieve victory was through trickery! Gritting my dentures and ducking past the heat of the lasers that singed near my metal, I dove and ducked behind several stasis pods for cover. I craned my head, looking for the opportune moment, and when Airachnid faltered in her fire for a second to find me, I unleashed my full fury against her.

Using another pod as the rest to aim my blasters, I let out a ferocious war cry and attacked, my voice nearly cracking with the amount of passion I poured into it. The trigger was pulled; the laser fire assaulted where Airachnid stood in a flurry of flashing lights, but I couldn't help but think with every hit that this wasn't enough—I suffered her torture chamber—Tailgate died on my behalf—she hunted Jack for the fun of it—

None of it was enough. Each of my bullets had to go deeper—they had to sting harder. They had to fester and consume her mind, and they had to haunt her every waking hour. She had to shed the tears I had! She had to long for the companionship I had! She had to worry the way I had! She needed the misery to plague her every move and dictate her actions until she wasn't sure if she would ever be free from the chains of the past! She deserved it, and MORE!

The wretched spider fell from the wall with a heavy grunt, and despite how I trembled with the urge for her energon like a Decepticon, I didn't let my emotions show outwardly. I advanced on her, both blasters pointed towards the Decepticon that had successfully ingrained all six of her spider legs into my life.

My icy blue optics stared down at her, narrowed and seething, but she still managed to mock my obsession over her death by crooning, "When you extinguish my spark, make it HURT. You know I would extend that courtesy to you."

My dentures gnashed in my jaw. I could still hear Optimus's voice like an annoying conscience in my audio receptors telling me that revenge will not bring back what has been lost; that every sentient being deserves a chance for redemption.

I pulled back a little, saying flatly, "I'm not like you." It stung to even be compared to her filth. Still, Optimus's words were making me think—but I couldn't let her go. Not after I had her. She was at my mercy—

"Very well."

Airachnid lunged so fast I almost didn't have the time to move. Kicking up into the air, I landed behind her, hydraulics working hard as I threw myself away from her next attack. She was like a bug you stomped on that got right back up!

Darting back, several of her legs impaled into the ground I had been at a moment before. I took the chance to whip out my arm blades for the close combat, optics meticulously drawn on Airachnid's advancing form. My optics flicked to the platform of an empty stasis pod before my optics darted back to Airachnid.

Slag you, Optimus. To the pit.

I parried Airachnid with a new kind of determination in mind, each of her angry blows shocking down my suspension. I crossed both arms when a particularly ferocious blow rattled my body, sending me skidding back. My optics flashed coldly and I stormed forward.

I took some rather sick pleasure in the look on Airachnid's face. The 'Con was expecting me to lung forward in another uncontrolled slash, so when I feinted back at the last second and jabbed my ped up into her face, the shock that etched its way across her features was priceless. Then, I kicked out both peds and the spider glitch went flying backwards with an angry shout.

Stumbling and trying to keep her balance, Airachnid didn't think about where I had hit her until those multitude of legs worked against her. When she stepped on the switch, quick beeps cutting through the silence, her optics widened in horror.

"NO!"

She jumped at the last second, but the pod clamped shut around her before she could escape. One of her legs was severed by the vice-like hold of the stasis pod, and I watched nearly impassively as that one leg stuck straight up into the ground.

Serves her right.

In fact, I took pleasure in watching her squirm, purple optics ablaze in pain and panic. It was a look well-suited for her. Her claws alternately scrabbled for a way out before her purple optics would seethe at me, and then she would collapse into an almost hysterical snarl as she beat at the inside. The beeping intensified as her inevitable doom descended on her, and she let out a last scared and infuriated cry when the stasis crackled over her metal, freezing her mid-cry; mouth open and lips pulled back; optics widened in disbelieving horror.

I withdrew my blades and stared at her. Airachnid. There she was, conveniently trapped in stasis until someone else could set her free. This was the part where I should be the good soldier and return to Optimus with my captive in tow.

But, then again, I had never been the good soldier, had I?

I transformed my hands into blasters again, quaking with the urge to pull the trigger. Optimus was weak. He showed compassion to those who didn't deserve it. His no-kill policy was ridiculous. Why take a captive when they would only get free again? It was no wonder this Primus-forsaken war wasn't over yet! He would never pound Megatron into scrap when he had the chance! I wasn't like him! Airachnid was a sadistic murder with no spark, and I was NOT about to let her live.

My harsh intakes of breath were the only sound in the underground cave other than the malicious hum of my lasers. Just a few quick shots and I would be free of my past.

Then why are you holding back?

I gritted my dentures tightly. My stance tightened as my baleful blue optics darkened with the urge to kill. What was it? Optimus? Was he what chained me down and took away my will? Because I was his best soldier, the one he poured his trust into?

I snarled to myself in the quiet underground. No, it wasn't his order that held me back. It was my inner fear of seeing his optics look down on me with disappointment. Primus slag him to pit! This wasn't his cross to bear, it was mine! He was interfering with what I had slaved the last centuries of my life over!

Still, I couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger. My lasers just hummed in an empty threat as I struggled my inner fight, mocking me as weak. It was OPTIMUS'S rule not to kill—not mine. I had the free will to kill her like I had always planned and finally release myself from the shackles of my past.

A harsh breath gritted out of me. Of my present. Jack was in danger every day this sadistic creature was allowed to live. Leaving her in a stasis was just prolonging the inevitable. I still remembered her teaming up with MECH and kidnapping Jack's mother. Did Optimus want a repeat of that? He tempted fate for it to happen again by keeping Airachnid alive!

She HUNTED indigenous species! She wanted Jack, my charge, my partner, my friend to have his head decorating her ship like a knickknack, her ultimate trophy over me. So that I wouldn't lose one partner to her, but two, and to be broken once again by being unable to protect my partners. I swallowed hard, a foreboding tingle chasing up my spine. I wouldn't open up again if that happened. Not again. Not ever.

Maybe I was doing it wrong. Withdrawing the blasters, I unsheathed my arm blades, trembling with the urge to do her in. Her face mocked me as she waited so helplessly inside her cage for me to give her the coup de grace. It wasn't like it was hard—I knew a grand multitude of ways to wipe her existence off the planet. There was nothing stopping me but my own hesitation.

Why was I hesitating?

I snarled, infuriated that I had her in my grips and was unable to do it. I began to pace around her pod, dagger gaze knifing through the metal in my imagination and spilling her energon across the dirt floor.

She killed Tailgate. I could still see the sickening splatter of energon across the walls of the torture chamber as Airachnid calmly killed him, seeming to take a great deal of pleasure that showed itself through the quirk of a smile. It was just everyday business for her. She LIKED the fact that she could cause me such sufferings. I could never get her out of my processor. Growling shortly and prowling around her form locked in stasis, I glared into her purple optics every time I passed her front.

I could still feel her venom burn through my metal. There was agony locked deep in my body that I could never escape, a constant fight that haunted my dreams and caused the pain to whiplash over me again, even if just in my imagination. This should be an easy kill! WHY was it taking me so slagging long!

I shrieked at her. Blind hatred overtook my senses as I once again changed weapons, choosing my blasters again, and I open fired at the 'Con. After a moment of wasting torrents of bullets, I realized that I was aiming above her pod and the lasers merely were hitting the wall. I hissed and pulled my arms down . . . down . . .

I screamed in fury when I couldn't get my aim to go any lower and blast the 'Con's head from her body. I stopped endlessly wasting the lasers and lowered my weapons. I began to stalk around her again.

WHAT was holding me back? I had every reason to kill her! It was cold-blooded murder on my end, but it was a murder that was pure justice. I was doing it for myself, for Jack, for Tailgate. Optimus's words didn't have that much of a hold over me! So what the frag was it?

When I finally rounded around in front of her again, I transformed my hands and crossed my arms. This was ridiculous. Bulkhead would accuse me of being scared.

I paused as I leered at Airachnid. Was that it? Was I scared? What the frag would I be scared for? There was nothing stopping me! I had killed plenty of 'Cons before her, and none would give me as much satisfaction!

As I began to pace around her again, I narrowed my calculating blue optics on her. This was what she wanted. This was her triumph over me—

I couldn't kill her.

For some reason, her words had twisted my thinking. And that was her whole goal. She wanted me to never kill her because that would haunt me the worst. It would mean I couldn't avenge Tailgate the way I had promised—another broken promise down the drain. It would mean I would live my days constantly looking over my shoulder as if just excepting her to snatch Jack away from me again—another paranoia. It would mean I could never truly stand up for myself and conquer my past once and for all!

I felt my lip curl as I came around the front again. Not this time, she didn't. My blades came unsheathed for the last time, a hideous screech of metal on metal that foreshadowed what I had in store for this glitch. This time, I would not fall ploy to her vindictive devices. This was a stand for myself, to truly set myself free.

And I wanted to hear her SCREAM.

With an enraged yell, I attacked the stasis pod so ferociously that I cracked it on the first hit. A gushing hiss of air drew inside it, and I shouted again in fury, hacking and slashing at the infuriating pod that provided a barrier between me and Airachnid. The pod broke, and Airachnid was starting to gasp, twitching and coming back to her senses as the stasis wore off, but before she could defend herself, my steely grip had grabbed her by the throat.

I slung her out of the pod viciously and tossed the wretch to the floor. She grunted when she hit the ground, and I landed on top of her with blazing blue optics. Her purple optics widened in shock.

"You didn't think I had it in me, did you?" I growled at her. I swung my arm and severed off one of her multiple legs. To my sick pleasure, Airachnid didn't disappoint but proceeded to howl in pain and began to thrash beneath me.

"You didn't think I would actually kill you, did you?" I shouted at her, voice nearly cracking under the stress of my hatred. I amputated another leg without mercy, making her scream again. "You thought I was too weak to do it, DIDN'T YOU!?" Snarling with sheer malice, I grabbed a desperately attacking leg and hacked my way through it as well. Energon was gushing everywhere, staining my hands and splashing up my arms, but I didn't care. By Primus, it felt so GOOD to finally get it out of me!

My hateful voice lashed like whips. "Well I've got news for you, you fragging coward!" I chopped off another leg and Airachnid arched beneath me in agony, thrashing in the effort to get away. "I'm not as weak as you take me for! A pity I can't extend your sufferings like you did mine!" I cleaved right through the last appendage with pure cruelty, loathing seeping from every wire inside of me.

I brought back my fist and my knuckles cracked against her jaw. My hand gripped her face, letting her see the pure rage that embittered my soul, and I was pleased to see fear coil deep in her optics like never before.

"I can't wait to send you straight to the pit!"

I kept her pinned under my body weight and began to carve into her body with my arm blades. I sawed through her metal with a savage vengeance, losing myself in the despairing vortex of my emotions

"This is for Jack!" I shouted at her, beating her with my fists. She screeched beneath me, helpless and pathetic. "This is for Tailgate!" She began to slake limp beneath me, in too much pain to even fight. Against my will, through my murderous haze for revenge, I felt hot tears spark in my optics. "This is for ME!" I howled, lost to everything but final release to the misery that sank its claws deep in my spark.

I kept striking her, over and over, my fists colliding with her and energon pooling around Airachnid's body from her bleeding limbs. When I finally reined back my desperate punches, I knew she was dead, without a doubt—Tailgate avenged, Jack finally safe, and my own demons released.

Scrambling off of her lifeless body, my hands and knees hit the energon-slick ground, and I wept.

I pressed my face into my energon-covered hands. Overwhelmed, I just sat, crying my spark out, unable to do more than that as the agonies and tears of millennia surged up and crashed over me.

And, oddly, I felt all the better for it. Letting it all out in deep-wracking sobs where no one could see me, I purged my spark of all the misery that had manifested inside. Airachnid was dead. Jack was safe. Tailgate could rest in peace. And I . . . And I . . .

I was free.

Slowly reining in my impassioned emotions, I let out a strangled breath. Breathing in deep, I sighed, letting my tense shoulders roll and relax. Standing a bit shakily, I looked down on Airachnid.

Dead. That thought kept coming back to my mind, and an incredulous laugh left me. For some reason, I never thought this day would come. My slightly hysterical laugh must be the shock finally setting in, but I merely shook my head and began to walk and leave.

Finally accessing my communicator, I contacted the Prime that had been so worried about me. "Optimus?"

"Arcee!" I heard him burst. "Are you all right?"

As my tired steps took me upwards, closer to the surface and clearing up the frequency that we spoke across, I said, "Yeah . . . Yeah, I'm fine. Actually . . . I feel a lot better than I have in a long time."

There was a pause as Optimus digested this. "You sound much better," he finally said softly, compassion permeating his voice.

I gave a small laugh, shaking my head in disbelief. "You're not mad at me?"

"Hearing you like this after so long," he said back, a faint smile in his voice as well, "I don't think I can be." I laughed, really LAUGHED, a sound that rather surprised myself, but it felt so GOOD. Primus it felt so good! When was the last time I had laughed? The thought was bittersweet, but my spark sang.

"It's good to have you back, Arcee," Optimus said warmly.

I shook my head. "It's good to BE back," I said though in reality we knew I had never left. Just suffocated. "Meet you back at base?"

"Affirmative."

I smiled, ascending up from the dark tunnels that Airachnid had led me down. The bright sun nearly blinded me, but that hope illuminated my future. Finally, after so long, I left behind my harrowing sorrow.

For good.