Dust to Rust...

By Princess Artemis

© S.D. Green, 2002, except fer Hasbro's stake in it all

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I could have killed him.

Right then, right there. He was quite literally falling apart at my feet.

Not normally... Normally, I couldn't have... I am too slow, too weak. Normally, perhaps I could have damaged him badly, if I could get close enough to fire off a near point-blank shot and he didn't kill me first. But then... I could have, so easily. He had no structural integrity left. I am slow. I am weak. Light though... Light is not slow, nor is it weak, and I can use light as a puissant weapon.

They were all shocked. All of them, and no wonder! Their powerful leader was rusting, turning to dust before their eyes, and that was the first they'd seen of it. I could have taken advantage of the shock, taken the chance...destroyed him, shattered him. Thrown their hierarchy into chaos, and likely died myself at their hands.

Likely so. But why, I wonder...? Why did I not take the shot and murder Megatron as he sat disintegrating in front of me? It was no fear of dying, that I can say with assurance. I'm not afraid to die, not if it will save another life. Some, I imagine, wonder if I am too eager to die.

Perhaps it was that: saving a life...even if it was his. Even if it was a mortal enemy's life. But I wonder still. Sparing him, curing him...it would have ultimately lead to more lives taken. More war. I am not a pacifist, not truly. I can't be. If I were, I should certainly have taken my own life long, long ago rather than become inextricably trapped in a war so old few know even why it started anymore. Taken my own life rather than taken another's...but I have taken other lives, sometimes. In a war no one can avoid that, even the slow and the weak...not the slow and the weak that, though they hide it so well few even know, have the ability to transform into a tank-and not a useless one with no power. A tank is a war machine, no scientist's tool. No one can make that mistake. Yet still...I am a scientist, as often called to the role of medic as to any other. Maybe it was that, that I am not a murderer.

But in that case I could have left him. I could have simply said no. They would have killed me...or found what I had anyway despite me and cured him, and everything would have fallen out as it had. No...that wasn't it. That would have been unwise. I had to act, in this way, or that; I was not in a position to stay neutral. Indeed, to say no in this case would be to kill because I could cure him. It would have been faster and would have left less to chance had I just blast him.

Maybe it was just pragmatics. There were many possible outcomes, many consequences to my actions. If I had killed him...would everything have occurred as it did anyway? Would they have had the presence of mind to put aside their constant squabbling for leadership to leave me to infect my friends? There was a chance that it would have happened that way. But more likely was the chance that they would have killed me right there. And perhaps they would have been infected, and even if they had found the cure I carried it wouldn't have been enough for all of them. Most of them would have died.

But there were no guarantees of that. Best case if I killed him was that they would have taken my life and it would have ended there. An eye for an eye. After that they would have been weaker, without a clear leader. That was the best case. There were worse cases... in fact, the very events that occurred though I did not kill him were far worse. It was dumb luck, or a miracle, that saved us, and one cannot count on either. Had it happened that they were infected and had simply killed me... I was brought there, I must assume, because Starscream and the Constructicons lacked either the skill or the knowledge to cure him. I don't doubt at all that they would have been unable to create something that would put them in the position we were in, the position to allow a miracle or dumb luck to side with us for one day. This is not to underestimate them or overestimate myself-they simply had no time.

The worst case... They were right to think my friends would not leave me, right to think Optimus Prime would not listen to me. Right to think that he would be so massively foolish as to risk everything for the sake of one whom clearly did not want to be saved. He is strong and intelligent, but they pinned his weak spot and exploited it and they very nearly destroyed us all because he would not listen. He was like a fool rushing in blindly to save a man in a burning house only to burn himself. And not only himself, but every single one of his friends, and risking the lives of millions more he never knew.

He wouldn't listen, wouldn't leave me, and they knew that. It was idiocy to save me. Sheer lunacy, and didn't I tell him not to? Didn't I tell him I would die so they would be safe? That's why I didn't simply blast myself into oblivion but waited...so no one would make the mistake of touching my dead body, so I could warn them. "I had no choice," he had said when he found he was infected. You damn well did have a choice, Optimus! You could have listened to the one who knew more about the situation than you did and left me. Instead, you go where only fools rush in, and we were very fortunate that 'the good of the one' didn't kill us all.

There was another case... another, should I have killed him as he sat falling apart. The resulting shower of disintegration could have infected them and me...and they could have left me as a trap anyway. That would have left the Earth safe from our war...because we would all have died. And any that found us and followed after would have died as well. In that case, at that chance...I could have killed our entire race when I killed him.

Maybe the reason I didn't kill him was naïveté. Naïveté of him, because I am not hardwired to duplicity, but also naïveté of my own leader and his inability to leave the dying to die without interference. Maybe I actually believed him, or wanted to believe him...or was it even so deep as to think that saving his life would mean anything? That he would spare my friends, and leave me to die alone? Because I was dying... The instant I touched his rusted, fallen hand my fate was sealed.

I think it was partly that. Partly naïveté.

And partly that I am not a murderer, partly that I could not stand and watch another die no matter who he was.

It was also partly the preservation of my race-the attempt to end a plague that could destroy us all. The future is too uncertain to predict.

But perhaps I should have killed him and let the chips fall where they may. Perhaps I should have killed him...

I could have killed him.

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Author's Note:

Perceptor blew apart Devastator once with a light blast. Can't tell me he couldn't have landed a fatal blow to a rusty falling apart Megatron with same. Occurs at some indistinct point very shortly after "Cosmic Rust". Many thanks to Nightwind for helping to iron out wrinkles!