A/N: Now I KNOW I've got the other Starscream story in the works but as I've been thinking about it I'm not so sure what to do with it. Thus I decided to go ahead with this story until I've decided what to do with "Our Metal Lord". Well I guess it's about time I wrote something involving TFP Starscream as he is my ultimate favorite Starscream to ever be spawned in the TF universe. Every time he graces an episode it just gets ten times better! (Case in point "Shadowzone") Anyway, being the fangirl I am, I couldn't help but want to see what would happen if Starscream did indeed join the Autobots after the episode "Partners". Sadly, his ego/big mouth landed him in conflict with Arcee thus ruining any chances of "redemption".
Sure, I didn't believe for a second that THIS Starscream actually wanted to change or that he could be a good guy, but I still had that wish in my heart to see his "attempt" at being an Autobot. So I decided to indulge that wish by writing an alternate path to "Partners". (Even though it was a superbly written episode)
(Note: this first bit is from Partners but I'll change it up after a key moment)
"Trying to be an Autobot"
By Leah King
Arcee paced in front of the kneeling Seeker, trying to sooth her mounting anger at being excluded from the impending conflict with Arachnid. That twisted glitch had murdered her first partner and her vendetta to settle the old score still dangled unresolved. But as much as she wanted to join the fight, Prime's sage words repeated themselves in her head. Was she obsessed with settling the score? Would killing Arachnid seal her long festering wounds or would the spider Con continue to elude her and thus continue to cloud her judgment every time they met in battle?
"Yes…yes it would. She has to pay. Tailgate will have justice." She convinced herself.
Once she had sent Arachnid to the Pit she would focus on avenging Cliffjumper's death. Primus pity they Con whom had taken him from her.
"I'm not really so bad you know. Megatron…HE'S the evil one." Starscream commented offhand as he knelt in the dirt, bound by wrist and wing clamps.
Arcee rolled her optics with annoyance, "Tell it to someone who cares."
Starscream returned the annoyance, "Like whom? Arachnid?" he clenched his claws venomously, "What I wouldn't give to get my hands around her wretched throat."
"So we can agree on one thing."
"Oh you have NO idea. She showed up one day and the next thing you know she's acting like she runs the place!" Starscream complained.
Arcee smirked at that. Apparently Arachnid was equally despised by members of both sides.
Starscream continued his rant, gesticulating for effect, "She whispered lies into Megatron's ear; maneuvered to rob me of my rightful place!"
The bitterness boiled in Arcee's vocalizer, "Well…she terminated my partner, Tailgate."
Starscream tipped his head with a pause then gestured, "Ex- Exactly! She's a demented wretch!"
Of course at that moment Starscream was almost smirking at the irony that he had terminated Cliffjumper… the other partner. Better to avoid that likely volatile bit of information and focus on skillfully maneuvering the Autobot femme into a realm of trust and security. After all, if he were to "join" the Autobots he'd need to gain their trust.
"So…why is a skilled fighter such as you assigned this lowly position of 'guard duty' when you clearly should be going after Arachnid?" he inquired with an almost innocent tone.
"None of your business. Now keep quiet." Arcee replied snappishly.
Starscream smirked, "Hmm. Seems Optimus Prime doesn't trust you to such a task. Even though we both know you're just the bot to go after Arachnid."
Arcee's blue optics flashed as she jabbed a finger in the Con's face, "I told you to shut it or I'll stuff you back in the trailer."
The silver Con shrunk back a bit muttering under his vocalizer.
Several silent awkward moments passed until suddenly the sounds of blasters echoed just beyond the stone arch. Both Starscream and Arcee arched their heads toward the sound but they couldn't see what was happening.
"Ah. It appears they have engaged that eight-legged wretch." Starscream commented with a lofty tone, "I am certain they will prevail."
"Don't you ever shut up?" Arcee snapped.
Starscream gave her a scowl but tucked his head into his body. He had acquired that habitual gesture early on in life and had to use it a number of times when speaking with Megatron. Sometimes it saved him from a beating. Usually bots and femmes alike had enough hubris to appreciate his "compliments" and in the best cases, win over their favor. Apparently Arcee (and Megatron) did not appreciate them.
The blasting suddenly changed; two distinct blasters instead of three. Had one of the Autobots fallen to Arachnid? Arcee seemed ever agitated as she couldn't see what had transpired. Although Starscream could distinguish the missing shots, Arcee knew by sound it was Bulkhead who wasn't firing anymore. Her fuel pump increased its rhythm. A few moments passed before only one blaster could be heard. But it was Bumblebee's.
Arcee's optics widened with dread. Optimus? Had Optimus honestly been taken down by the likes of Arachnid? What was happening?!
"I suppose that means Arachnid found whatever she was looking for on the Harbinger." Starscream mentioned, seeming to dismiss Arcee's earlier threat.
Arcee whirled around, "What was she looking for?"
Starscream scoffed, "I'm afraid she deemed the information "need to know"."
The blue femme stepped forward a moment, "You're a Decepticon- "
"Former." the mech corrected.
"Then you would know what was listed in the Harbinger's cargo manifest."
Starscream glanced at his claws in a bored fashion, "I might."
Tired of his attitude Arcee extended her forearm blade making Starscream cringe with placating hands up, "Ok! Ok! When she looked up the cargo manifest I noticed she was looking for a weapon we called the Immobilizer."
Arcee had heard of that weapon; an energy staff able to shut down any mech's motor functions and freeze them in place. In Arachnid's claws that weapon would be an aphrodisiac to her already twisted desires of torturing helpless bots.
She looked at Starscream again and stepped at him, menacing with her arm blades, "Get in the trailer."
The Seeker's red optics darted with panic, "What!? But…but I told you what you wanted to know!"
"I won't ask nicely again." the femme replied coldly.
Starscream's face was the poster of indignation, "But…!"
Arcee thrust her arm to the tip of his chin, "In the trailer NOW!"
Caught between a blade and a cramped place, Starscream chose the latter…the one that offered him his life instead of a swift termination. With little dignity he shuffled into the cramped metal container. His optics glowed from the dark, seeming to shift between fear and outrage.
"This indignity will not be forgotten Arcee, I am Commander Star—!"
Arcee slammed the door shut before he could finish his rant. With all urgency she transformed and sped through the stone arch to help her team. She was on the scene in an instant but too late to join the battle as Bumblebee had sent Arachnid packing. Frozen in attack postures were Bulkhead and Optimus.
"Bee! Are you all right? What happened? Where's Arachnid?"
The yellow scout conveyed that after she had frozen Optimus and Bulkhead, he had tricked the femme Con and she had retreated. He had broken the Immobilizer and now they needed a Ground Bridge to get Optimus and Bulkhead back to base. He asked about Starscream.
"He's in the trailer." Arcee said simply, "Come on. Let's get these guys to base."
"What about Starscream?" he buzzed.
"He'll be fine. He can't get out and even if he could he's cuffed." Arcee stated, moving to signal for a ground bridge.
The yellow scout shrugged and began scooting Optimus's frozen figure toward the opening green portal.
Much later at Autobot headquarters…
Ratchet held up the fixed Immobilizer, "Well the damage looked bad, but it was a snap to repair, allowing us to reverse its effects on you. You should regain your full range of motion before long."
"Thank you Ratchet." Optimus nodded to his medic before turning to Arcee, "Where is Starscream?"
"Don't worry Optimus; he's locked up in your trailer right where you left it." Bumblebee chimed in before Arcee could answer.
"Then I suppose we should go retrieve him." Optimus concluded.
Ratchet spun around, "Optimus! Are you serious? I know he asked for asylum but this is Starscream we're talking about! He's even more devious than Megatron and almost as evil."
Bulkhead rotated his slow shoulder, "Yeah! Who's to say he wasn't just lying so we wouldn't scrap him?"
"Precisely." Ratchet pointed in agreement.
Arcee nodded, "That skinny little sneak would do ANYTHING to save his own hide."
Optimus nodded, completely understanding his troops' concerns, not to mention addressing his own personal thoughts on the matter. But his morality dictated his next response, "Perhaps. I am not ignorant to the risks Starscream could potentially pose to us, but if we do not grant him asylum we could lose a valuable asset, not to mention turning our backs on the Autobot code."
"Asset?!" Ratchet interjected, "Forgive me Optimus but any supposed 'asset' Starscream could be is too small to risk our base, our human comrades, and our safety."
Arcee stepped forward, "We've done just fine without him. And I for one don't want to spend my days at base wondering and waiting for him to stab us in the back."
Optimus glanced around at his troops, "And you all feel this way?"
Confirmed nods, some stronger than others, came from each Autobot. The Prime pondered this a moment. There was considerable risk. Starscream's loyalty to Megatron may have always been in question, but that also meant loyalty to them would be even less. Too few Autobots remained to risk. But to reject Starscream's request, if it were genuine, would go against their very goal of reuniting the Cybertronian race and their code of "Until All Are One". It was indeed a fierce debate within the Prime.
"Autobots follow me." Optimus commanded. There seemed to be protest until he said gently, "We need to let him out of my trailer."
About that same time…
Starscream had sat in the dark of the cramped trailer for far too long. Claustrophobia was breathing its foul breath down his neck, threatening to clog his vents and send him into a panic. No Seeker could stand being confined, much less in a space where they could not stand and stretch their wings, and having his clamped only made the feeling ten times worse. His wide red optics darted madly, panic threatening to seize his very functioning. His vents opened and closed rapidly, trying desperately to trick his processor into believing he had plenty of room. The effort was futile. Finally he couldn't stand it any longer. With a panicked thrust he flared his bound claws and slammed them into the trailer wall. They sheared through but didn't make a very noticeable opening. A wisp of cool air hit him only driving his need to escape into a higher urgency. Again and again he rammed his claws through the side of the trailer. He was hitting so hard and frequently that the trailer was beginning to rock.
Suddenly, the back door flew open. Starscream didn't even care that Bulkhead was filling the space. Like a confined wild cat suddenly given a way out of its cage, Starscream let out a shout of panic and leaped straight into the hulking green Autobot, sending him stumbling back in surprise. Starscream flailed his bound arms, landing amid the feet of four seriously startled Autobots. His optics were wide red saucers of terror as his vents flared rapidly.
He was out. He wasn't cramped anymore.
As the calm slowly started to wash over him he became increasingly aware of several blasters aimed in his direction. On his back he curled his limbs pitifully a moment.
"What in the blue frag is WRONG with you?" Bulkhead swore.
Starscream didn't respond, still venting rapidly.
Bumblebee made a high to low range bleep which was indicative of "someone's going to be mad" sound and pointed at the slashed holes in Prime's trailer.
"Autobots stand down." Prime ordered calmly, extending a hand to Starscream.
The Seeker cringed at the hand, perhaps expecting to be struck but Optimus assured in a deep voice, "No one is going to harm you."
With mistrust, Starscream stared at the Prime's offered hand a moment and yanked himself away, using his own bound hands to push himself up and stand on his own. Once on his feet, Starscream's demeanor immediately flipped as he straightened his posture.
"How DARE you leave me in that cage! I would've suffocated in there!" he screeched irately.
"Stop complaining. You're fine." Arcee scoffed.
The Seeker's optics flashed angrily at the smaller femme. It was only Prime's shoulder that blocked his path but it was enough to halt his desire to lunge at her and make her pay for her discretion to confine him in that trailer.
"If THIS is the way you treat new members Prime, then I'd just as soon jet back to the ship and face Megatron." The tall Seeker huffed, giving the Autobot leader his best look of resentment.
Optimus patiently responded, "It was not my intent to see you put in such an uncomfortable position. But given your past history with us AND with the Decepticons, Arcee felt it was the safest course."
"Safe! What part of being cuffed and clamped in a tight space is safe for ME?!" the Seeker shouted, arching himself.
"Afraid of the dark Screamy?" Bulkhead jibed.
"No!" the Seeker snapped, flashing a death glare at the former Wrecker, "And if you want to stay functioning you will NOT address me as such!"
Bulkhead squared his ample shoulders, "Just try it Screamy."
The Seeker snarled menacingly, with itching claws. Prime placed himself between the two.
"We are not here to posture or make threats." He turned to face Starscream, "Starscream you have asked us for asylum by joining the Autobots?"
Starscream's optics darted a moment before nodding.
"We have rather significant doubts your request is genuine, but I am willing to grant you a temporary asylum if you can prove yourself trustworthy."
The Seeker seemed agitated by this pronouncement, "But-but-but- haven't I proven myself already?! I led you to that wretch Arachnid so you could recover the Immobilizer and I've been nothing but compliant with your orders!"
"A small first gesture that is greatly appreciated, but our trust is not so easily gained by someone with your history." Optimus explained evenly.
Starscream threw up his claws dramatically, "Then what must I do? Terminate Megatron for you and bring you his severed head?"
"That would be a start." Bulkhead agreed.
Starscream flashed a death glare at the green Autobot before Prime said, "If you can prove yourself trustworthy and show that you are willing to make a change for the better then we shall grant you all the rights and privileges afforded a credible Autobot."
"And…if I can't?" the thin mech asked nervously.
"Then we will have no choice but to try you as a war criminal." Optimus stated with all seriousness.
Starscream seemed befuddled and a bit outraged by the Prime's terms, "You would terminate me if I don't live up to your Autobot standards?"
Optimus gave a grim look, "Or send you back to Megatron to suffer his wrath."
Don't I always? Starscream thought bitterly to himself. Whenever Megatron needed a scapegoat for any failure, Starscream always bore the brunt of it whilst the other Decepticons would silently watch him get dented and broken in every way possible. Though…he didn't relish the idea of Megatron discovering this recent treasonous act. He'd already been pummeled to the brink of termination for his latest attempt at getting rid of him and nearly executed afterwards. By some sick twisted miracle Megatron had found his latest pleading for his life amusing enough to keep him around. Like a cat playing with a mouse, that little bit of "movement" was enough to spark his interest again. He very much doubted the tyrant would suffer even the smallest infraction from him.
Starscream was essentially trapped. He might join the Autobots but be tried as a war criminal if he screwed up badly enough. But if he escaped and returned to the Decepticons he would be executed for treason, no questions asked. He could abandon both factions and be a rogue…but could he make it on his own with no resources and no protection? His options all sounded dismal. But being a mech of self-preservation over anything, Starscream chose the most attractive option afforded him.
"Then…I will join you." Starscream conceded.
"Very well." Optimus nodded.
Arcee and Bulkhead both made small noises of disapproval but were silenced by a stern look from Optimus.
"Before you come with us we will need to ensure you possess no tracking devices on your person." Optimus explained and then motioned to Arcee who produced a scanner.
She curtly stepped forward and waved it over Starscream's front, producing an indicating beep.
"Got one." she confirmed.
"All Seekers have a tracking device." Starscream mentioned, "That way we can be recovered if we crash."
"Whatever. Deactivate it."
Starscream knew if he did so the Decepticon warship couldn't track him, thus eliminating one of his options: leading Megatron to the Autobot base and regaining his favor. But he should've known the Autobots wouldn't be stupid enough to let him into their base without "frisking" him. So he reluctantly did as he was told.
"And your weapons." Arcee stated firmly.
"What?!" Starscream straightened.
"You heard me. Deactivate your weapons." She ordered.
Starscream's panic rose again. Weaponless in a nest of Autobots sounded terrifying. He wasn't a strong mech and his weapons were his only means of defense aside from his formidable claws and his flight speed.
Starscream looked to Optimus in panic, "Be reasonable Prime! You can't expect me to go into your base with no means to defend myself!" He gave Arcee and Bulkhead a pointed stare, "Any one of your troops could terminate me when I turn my back!"
Optimus dipped his head, "I know you are used to the violence amongst the Decepticons, but I give my word that no violence will befall you whilst in our base as long as you grant everyone that same courtesy."
"Words are just THAT Prime, words." The Decepticon spat.
"Those are the terms Starscream. Disarm or accept the alternative." Optimus stated with finality.
Starscream glanced around, pitifully hoping for some sort of support but there was none. No one was on his side…again. His first instinct was to fire a shot amongst them and jet away, but the cuffs on his wrists and wings nullified his usual hit and run tactics. With a visible shake in his arms Starscream unhinged his arm mounted rocket launchers, letting them drop to the dirt. Bumblebee scooped up the two long projectiles. Since he was cuffed, Starscream was unable to activate his other weapons but when he became unshackled Optimus would order his medic to disconnect his relays. After giving him one more thorough sweep for safety, Arcee nodded to Optimus.
"Ratchet, open the Ground Bridge." He commanded as he moved to his trailer to hook up.
When the swirling green portal opened, Bumblebee entered first. Arcee prodded Starscream and he gingerly entered the portal with her and Bulkhead behind. Optimus meanwhile, sighed at the holes slashed in his trailer but transformed, hooked up, and followed them through.
In the Autobot base…
Once every bot and Starscream were in the base and the Ground Bridge shut down there reigned and uncomfortable silence as five pairs of blue optics scrutinized the single pair of red ones.
Ratchet made no bones about his displeasure as he met Optimus off to the side, "Optimus…I thought we had discussed this. But you actually BROUGHT Starscream here to our base!?"
Optimus nodded, "Starscream has been granted asylum. If he follows the terms we discussed and can prove himself a changed mech then he will be granted all the rights and privileges of an Autobot."
"By the Pits of Kaon Optimus have you lost all sense and reason? This is Starscream, the only mech devious and evil enough to be considered Megatron's Second in Command and you're just letting him in?" Ratchet gestured passionately.
As Optimus and Ratchet heatedly discussed the situation, Starscream perked his head slightly, hearing his name but tucked it back under the uncomfortable stares of the three other Autobots. His red optics darted, taking in every detail of the Autobot base that he could see. It wasn't much really. Rather a primitive set up. Amazing how they'd been so well hidden from the warship and their sensors all this time. What Megatron wouldn't give to know of this place…and what rewards would be bestowed upon the mech that delivered said information. But, though he stood in the heart of their base, there was no way to know where the base was since he entered through the Ground Bridge. His GPS sensors were all out of whack now.
So much for that idea.
"Precautions will be observed Ratchet." Optimus continued firmly, "Bulkhead, escort our guest to his quarters."
Bulkhead tipped his head, "Right…where would that BE exactly?"
There was a silence for a moment since no one really knew where they would hold the Seeker. They really didn't have an official Brig set up, though there were several large storage spaces further in the base. Roomy, but not very secure.
Finally Optimus said, "Arrange a set of quarters in Section Omega."
The big green Autobot nodded with understanding and grabbed Starscream roughly by the shoulder, pushing him out in front of him.
Starscream stumbled a bit but walked. He looked to Optimus, "Might I perhaps be rid of this accursed wing clamp? My wings are really beginning to ache."
"Tough bolts Scream, keep movin'." Bulkhead shoved the slender mech forward.
But Starscream was adamant, "I'll gladly wear the wrist bonds if you'll but release my wings!"
Optimus thought a moment as Bulkhead nudged Starscream forward again, "Bulkhead. Once our guest is secure in his quarters remain with him. I will be along presently."
After disappearing down the corridor Optimus's optics met Ratchet's highly disapproving ones.
"I hope you know what you're getting us ALL into by doing this Optimus." The medic shook his head.
"Make no mistake Ratchet, I have had similar reservations about this decision. BUT…if we can extend a hand in kindness to the likes of Starscream, perhaps it will be returned in kind."
"Or you'll pull back a stump." Ratchet growled.