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The Cause
Chapter 11 The Light and Darkness

you better hope and pray,
that you make it safe, back to your own world.
you better hope and pray
that you wake one day, in your own world.
'cause when you sleep at night
they don't hear your cries, in your own world
only time will tell
if you can break the spell, back in your own world.

- Shakespeare's Sister, Stay

He was, without warning, aware, yet unaware; perplexed, where was he? Who was he? What happened and why? He could not move his body, it would not respond, he felt paralysed, he felt trapped. He could hear sounds, sounds, there was lots of sound. He could not make out what the sounds were or where they were coming from, and there was pain, excruciating pain, like the fires of the Sun had just engulfed him. He tried to see, there was no vision, just a grey haze that was darkening. Yet there were voices, calling, calling, urgent voices calling.

"We need to roll him over, one, two, three, lift"

An unexpected movement triggered a horrendous pain that sheared his mind in half like a living fire ripping through his soul. His mind screamed out, his hazy grey vision abruptly went black.

"Carefully—slowly, flip—"

"Primus in Cybertron! He's *not* going to make it."

"He did ask for our help. We have to at least try to save him. If he dies, then he dies; Down!"

"His damage is far too extensive. Even if we could, it would take days—"

"Well then, get on with it—" said a louder commanding voice.

He did not understand the words. Soon all the sound and pain faded away into blackness upon blackness, deepening into utter oblivion: it was dark.

The lolling blackness ebbed and flowed like gentle waves on a deep dark ocean. He felt like he was floating on his back in the warm sea, looking up at the blacker than black sky. Overhead was a pinpoint of light, it flickered and glowed like brilliant blue-white star, it reminded him of something. Curious. He wanted desperately to get to the light; to hold it. He reached up to grab it.

FLASH! The light blinded him and pain seared his senses. He opened his mouth to scream but only a gasp came out. He felt confused. Voices shouted to each other so loudly that they rang in his head but he could not quite understand them.

"There is a dip in brain wave activity. Try to re-start that fuel pump."

His mind reeled from the pain. He felt as if he was spinning on his back, dizzy, he attempted to stop the motion of his mind. Suddenly he jerked as pain like fire blossomed and burned at his thoughts.

"Control his movement."

There was more murmuring as he sank into a haze of fog, another pain jolted him. There was too much confusion here. He returned to the dark ocean.

Time floated by or perhaps it did not. He could not tell. It seemed like an instant between awakenings. But time seemed to go by, speedily yet endlessly into the timeless limbo. There was nothing here, in the black void of nothingness, just the slosh of warm black water, on his back and the warmth of a black sun shining darkly in a black cloudless sky. Again there was a glimmer, a spark of scintillating light in the emptiness that surrounded him. He hesitated, not wanting to leave the black warmth. He remembered the agonising light. Yet something compelled him, the light was too tempting, it glowed, it called to him. He desired it. Once more he reached up, watching, as his unseen hand closed around it.

FLASH! The blinding light was still there but not the pain. Cold numbness coated his entire being and he could not move. He could not open his mouth but again the voices were calling back and forth: It was frightening.

"We have a drop in the brain wave...."

"That slagging fuel pump is not functioning..."

All he experienced was a very sharp tingle but no pain. He was curious, very curious. He wondered, could he float higher? past the light?

"We are going to lose him try—zap him again!"

"Can't a replacement pump be found?"

"The Junkions are still looking. Compatible parts for him are very hard to come by."

"We'll have to hook him to the machines; this is not going to be pretty."

Then came a pain so intense it penetrated his numbness. He was brought back down with a snap, like elastic that was stretched too far. He snuggled into the protective black blanket of his deep ocean.

It was an odd sensation the light and the darkness. It confused him. Why should this void be so warm and comfortable and the light so painful and frustrating? Who were those voices and why should they cause him pain when he went to explore the light?

His time in the dark was endless. He would reach up to the light and each time he was brought back forcefully. He resented it and he was angered. Why should he strangely prefer the painful brightness of the light? The dark ocean did not make him hurt. It lulled him but it was boring. Nothing to do but float in the water. Up above was the dazzlingly bright star. It beckoned to him, It spoke both of promise and of warning, like a lighthouse by a rocky coastline, a promise of safe harbour or if he ignored it; of death. He reached for it but he was tied to a great weight. Something heavy...

FLASH! Again searing pain and the glare of bright unnatural light. He screamed a word and that brought the attention of the other voices. What had he said? He wondered.

"Skyfire?" One of the voices murmured. A shadow crossed his field of vision.

Did he say Skyfire? He thought that was a good description of the blinding light. It seemed the sky was on fire.

"Stop his writhing—"

"Give him another sedative."

"I can't work with all that slagging movement!"

Coldness swept over his body like a cold rain, oh how sweet, he thought, as pain slipped from his mind. He re-entered the dark abyss of his private ocean. He relaxed and waited. He was starting to find the star interesting. Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder what you are. He could hear the voices, but the star was not there. There was no glint in the sky, only coolness, not the warmth he was accustomed to.

"For Primus sake—he's a damned Decepticon— "

"Do as I say, Overcast, contact Skyfire."

He sank back in to the murky ocean depths. Only this time it was different, his lovely black ocean formed a dark blue ball in the middle, surrounded by millions of tiny pinpoints of light that flickered and winked at him. As he drew nearer to the sphere, he could see that it sported splashes of green and light blue and white, the colours formed shapes like land masses. He found this very interesting. He soared to the jewel like globe. He was drawn closer, as if pulled by gravity and entered the atmosphere of the planet. He flew through white clouds and dove to the brilliant blue waters of an alien ocean. The world was strange, yet familiar and primitive.

He landed on a white sandy beach. There he stood for a moment, looking at the horizon. The magically turquoise waters touched with the deep blue-black of the celestial blanket. In the sky, glimmered a very bright white star.

He stepped into the ocean. It lapped gently at his feet. The water was pleasantly cool; he waded out into the sea until it went to his knees. He halted and glanced down at the water. The water slowed its motion and stopped. It reflected the light of the star that shone brilliantly over his wing and shoulder; he could see himself reflected in the mirror-like surface. He touched his face, with the tips of his azure fingers. He crouched, studying his refection. He looked deep into his own glowing red optics, for a moment he remembered, he wondered, was he dead? Is this limbo? Was this Heaven, Hell, Valhalla or Summerland? Many more names for the afterlife darted across his mind.

He looked around himself at the visage of the world in front of him; it could not be, not again, not now. It had to be a dream. Slowly he lowered his hand to take the flashing star from the water, his fingers touched it, as tendrils rose out the smooth glass-like surface and entwined themselves around his wrists, ankles and body. He writhed. They pulled him into the solidified liquid. The Ocean started to flow into his mouth, he struggled to keep himself above the fluid but his body was dragged under. He renewed his struggles, pulling free of some of the tentacles. His head burst out of the water, his arms flailed as he gasped. One tendril rose, high, out of the sea, thickening; forming the head of a huge lye spitting Wyvern. Its blood red eyes regarded him with hatred and fury, it reared, beating its weak wings as it opened its mouth, exposing many sharp titanium teeth, dripping with caustic saliva. It lunged at him; unable to get away he screamed, its mouth closed around him, teeth sinking into him, he screamed.

FLASH. The blinding light hurt his optics. He turned them off. Pain pulsated in his head as he struggled to get free. A groan erupted from his mouth. He moved his fingers slightly, he winced, his entire body ached. He opened his optics again just a little. He could see undefined shapes as well as muted colours.

There were those voices again.

"He's coming to."

"I am curious why we are actually trying to save him. Would it not be better to have just let him die?" murmured a second voice with a tone of deep disgust. "It was most likely a waste of time and effort."

"Perhaps, I am not so sure he is the Starscream we knew long ago. He might be the one that Skyfire once knew and still laments for." said another.

"Well he still is in pretty bad shape, but he should live. It will take a while to patch him completely up." spoke the first voice.

"I am not surprised Skyfire reacted the way he did, after all he's done for him," said the second voice disgustedly.

"Starscream? Do you hear me?" asked a voice that was a notch closer.

"Starscream?" The Seeker whispered. "Who?" he was confused. "Where am I? Whaaa happened? Why can't I move?" His voice was barely audible. His head pounded from the loudness of the voices.

"You have been immobilised. I did not want you suddenly moving. We are still working on very delicate circuits. You suffered critical damage in the attack and we did not expect you to survive this long, however your main functions, for the most part, have been stabilised with help of external life support equipment. It's now a matter of finding the more elusive, replacement parts, for those components damaged beyond repair." said Perceptor.

"Am I dead?" he asked wondering. His thoughts were confused. He had a vague memory of kneeling on the ground in a pool of energon. He squinted at the owner of the voice trying to get his optics cleared. His vision however remained cloudy and supersensitive to the light.

"No, Starscream, you are very much alive. We think, however, Galvatron believes you are dead. He was about to slag you when we arrived but we managed to beat him back." Said Rodimus.

"Galvatron?" The name was familiar, it made him feel cold. But before he could grasp the meaning of that name Perceptor administered a sedative.

"Now go back to sleep Starscream, we've had a gruelling week."

"Thanks," he said with a wispy sigh. Then he allowed himself to be taken over with the cool numbness.

He stood on top of a snowy Mountain top. He knew this mountain; he had been here a few times before. He slowly turned around and looked at the world from the highest point. Chill wind buffeted at his wings as a wisp of snow blew around him. He gazed downwards at the sea of clouds that covered the world in a thick white blanket. Behind him the blazing golden sun warmed his back. He could see his dark shadow, on the clouds below, outlined by the glowing golden halo known as the glory that surrounded him like an aura of power. He remembered this mountain: Everest. It was the only place on Earth where he could ever feel on top of everything; feel at peace and to feel truly alive. He opened his left hand and looked into it, the glowing blue star scintillated as it grew and infused him with its brilliance.

His previous dreams became a haze, as it started to drift to the recesses of his mind: confusion, anger, anguish, pain, blackness and the star. He suddenly realised what the star was, a revelation like a blast of chill air that slammed into his back like a thousand metric tonnes of super cooled steel, it was his soul, his lasercore, his spark, his life.

* * *

Teris waited for several days in an observation room watching the medic as he carefully rebuilt Starscream's midriff and chest. The god had almost perished. Several times in fact. The one called Rodimus had told her that he seemed to be trying to release the soul of his being.

It was a terrible sight to see, him laying there for days, while Autobots worked around the clock carefully reconnecting torn and melted circuits. They were quite concerned with a large round shaped device that was the fuel pump. That kept stopping. When she questioned them on the importance of it they explained it was much like a Guana's heart. It regulated the flow of energon through his body, so in silence she watched on.

* * *

She had been with a small group of Guanas' in a library, Empangeni; the pilot, had been working on flight training, his landing of the Blue Dragon had been questionable but he had potential. Umfolosi, the engineer, was researching improved engine designs. She had found that The Blue Dragon's engines were very outdated and inefficient. Tuli and Zumbo sat close together looking though information on metallurgy, to improve the metals that they manufactured back at their homes.

"Teris, any idea when we will return to our home?" asked Tuli looking up from a datapad she had been punching information in.

"It depends on N'kosi and the Autobots."

"I miss home, this world is strange, cold and very dry." she said with a slight whimper. Zumbo snaked an arm around her and nudged her with his snout affectionately.

"I would prefer this world to that ruined Charr," Said Teris, idly rubbing the gold pendant that she wore.

"He said he'd send us home." Tuli said bitterly. "Perhaps Madba was right. Perhaps we will never see our families again, perhaps he is false."

Teris and Umfolosi both hissed in surprise.

"Regardless of who or what he is; he has given us much and that we are to be grateful for. Anyway Madba is a bloated, close minded slug. He has it coming to him."

Empangeni and Zumbo exchanged glances, their eyes twinkled with mirth, they said nothing. Empangani leaned back into his chair and kicked his feet outwards and intertwined his hands on his abdomen.

"Aroab and Kibaya and a few others want you to take the ship back home. Empangeni is skilled enough to fly it himself. N'kosi can follow when he is ready; there is little point in us remaining. We have garnered enough information. What about you? You can't even speak the language. What information have you gathered?"

"I am not going to abandon N'kosi unless he tells me we should leave and he has not given us that order! Taking the ship would be Mutiny." Teris said angrily. "As for the language, I have learned how to read it. That is enough. If Starscream wishes me to speak it he will teach me."

"For N'kosi's voice, Teris, you are pretty mute. He has to speak to you in our language." snapped Tuli.

Teris shot Tuli an angry glance. "I will...." She was cut off.

"That's enough you guys, I can't concentrate with all this bickering!" Zumbo barked. Tuli opened her mouth to say something and Zumbo nudged her sharply in the ribs. His pupils narrowed sharply and she closed her mouth again.

Teris had ended up being their leader by default. It was not a job she really wanted but it was how it ended up being. Her basic knowledge of the shamanistic ways, her being daughter of Santor and being in almost constant company of Starscream, but sometimes even she wondered about the great one. Those doubts she kept mostly to herself. She would have to word it carefully if she questioned Starscream, as he was apt to take it the wrong way.

They were sitting talking quietly amongst themselves when they heard the sirens. Tuli and Zumbo both looked up. The sirens had never gone off before. The sound was shrill and irritating to their hearing. Umfolosi held her hands over her ear drums expressing a very sour look on her face. Empangani ran to the window.

"There is an attack! Creatures who look like N'kosi, when he is a bird," Empangeni said eagerly to the others. They had read about the wars that went on between Starscream's kind and the group that ruled this world. They had never seen gods fight gods before. The other three Guanas clustered around the window as a bomb rocked the building.

"Teris, you must see this!" Umfolosi said eagerly. She looked over her shoulder but Teris was not in the room. "Teris?"

Teris was pounding through the halls, her head jutted out as her strong legs stretched out full length. Her tail held out straight behind her. She increased her speed running. She had a bad feeling. There were robots running through the halls. She leaned forwards further to increase her speed. She darted between their legs and out the door. She stopped and looked ahead. The guards at the building were leaving, her eyes could just make out the shape of Starscream at the door as he turned and returned up the stairs.

Teris ran forwards again, glancing over her shoulder at the building behind her. As she shot across the courtyard her feet barely touched the ground as she ran at lightning speed. No one was in her way to slow her down. She took deep breaths as she ran, her throat felt dry. She opened the gate in the door that was built so she and the others could visit. The sirens in the building stopped as the ground rumbled from the shock of another explosion.

She ran up the stairs and dropped herself flat abruptly. A strange blue god crept in the hall from the other side. She held her breath, her lungs were burning. Cybertron's atmosphere was far too dry for a Guana's comfort. He pressed his finger to his shoulder, his chest opened and a small rectangular cassette shot out. It transformed into a little blue robot. It looked up at the larger god, said something and opened the door a crack and crept through.

She could see on the front of it that it had a symbol identical to Starscream's. She wondered is this was a friend or a foe. Suddenly the ground shook. Teris slid down a couple steps, she clambered back up. The blue mech stepped into the hallway blocking the passage and most of her view. Suddenly Starscream shot out of the room. He looked frightened.

Teris realised that these were not friends; they might have the same symbol as Starscream but that seemed to mean little amongst his kind. She had fled down the stairs and out the door. She looked into the sky looking for the planes she spotted them slightly to her left. Where there is smoke there is fire. She ran hard between buildings. The fight was not that far away but her lungs felt as if she had drank Wyvern venom, they burned. She ran to find Rodimus Prime. He was the only one she could talk to, the only one who knew her language. Her large amber eyes scanned the bunker, looking; she managed to spot him and ran to him.

"Hail! Rodimus! Please help N'kosi, help him; I fear he is in danger!" She said rapidly in Guana over and over, her words came in between great heaving breaths. She had not realised how out of shape she had become. Too much sitting around reading or talking.

The Autobot leader leaned down. "Slow down little lizard. I can hardly understand you."

"Please help lord Starscream. He is in danger! He was being chased by a large blue god who gives birth to smaller ones."

"Soundwave! You are sure?" He asked quickly.

Teris nodded her head vigourously.

"Magnus you stay here." He pointed to Springer, Upland and Sandstorm. "You three come with me."

The four Autobots transformed. Rodimus opened his door. "Jump in quick we might not have time." She hardly had the door shut when they shot off around the building. They came from behind and there was a huge hole in the back wall rubble strewn around the ground. Teris figured this was probably from the explosion earlier. They drove around to the front of the building. Teris rapidly exited the Autobot and ran into the stairwell. The four Autobots transformed, Springer and Sandstorm flattened themselves against one side of the door while the blue Upland leaned against the other side. She waited inside as Rodimus punched in the access code. The door swung open.

Teris went to step further in; Upland placed a hand on her. "Keep back."

"N'kosi is my friend, I am not a weak minded mammal so can take care of myself." She snapped as she darted up the stairs. The Autobots shook their heads and followed her. They could hear echoes of voices. Teris looked around sniffing at the air. There was no odour, it frustrated her, and she could not track anyone if they did not have a scent. They walked quickly through the halls.

"Frag they could be anywhere."

Teris cocked her head slightly listening. She could hear sounds. Pointed to the doors of another staircase. "In there. There is activity, one level below us."

"You three split up this is a big building. We might have a better chance at finding him if we take different routes. Teris come with me." The other three Autobots ran in different directions. Rodimus opened the door and Teris stepped through. Suddenly the stairwell was filled with thundering of someone running. "Someone is in here, run! Run follow!" Teris darted down the steps at the end there was a loud crash. They quickly arrived at the door. It hung on two hinges the door was bent someone had gone through it very forcefully. Teris peered closely at the door and noticed some flakes of red and blue.

"Which way?" Asked Teris looking left and right. There was a shrill scream that ended in a stifled sob. The sound reverberated. The sound seemed strongest in the hall to her left. "That way," said Teris pointing. They ran forwards. She saw some pink splotches on the ground, Teris suddenly stopped she crouched and scrutinised the splat, instinctively sniffing at the air, she dipped her fingers into a thick pink glowing fluid, looking at its shimmering iridescence she knew what it was: Energon. N'kosi was wounded. "He leaves a trail that is all too clear, we must find him!"

There were voices coming from the halls ahead, the sound of a weapon discharging and a loud bloodcurdling scream. Teris froze for a moment. She had never heard a cry so filled with fright and anguish. She was worried that they were too late. Her feet picked up speed and she tracked the voices and followed the energon.

"I hope we are not too late!"

Echoes of a very pained panicked, pleading voice came from the right hand corridor. Ahead appeared the other three Autobots. Rodimus signed them to move up. "Teris, stay here." he said softly to the lizard.

She looked around the corner and saw what she really did not want to see. Starscream had been beaten to his knees and was begging for his life. That memory burned in Teris' mind. She had never seen him so humbled before. It haunted her to see rabid fear on his face as the blast hit him.

The Autobots attacked and drove the Decepticons out of the building and away from Cybertron. But it appeared it was too late. He was laying face to the side in a pool of pink. His mouth was slack and a thin line of energon seeped out. All expression of his previous terror was erased and there was no light in his eyes.

"N'kosi wake up!" she called softly. Her voice was choked. She shook his arm. "Please! Get up."

She waited for the medics to arrive. Tears trickled from her eyes but they dried up at the announcement that he was indeed alive but barely. However they had to bind him to the table in the infirmary and told her to keep out of the way. Rodimus explained that this was to prevent him hurting himself further when he awoke. He awoke often. Struggling or screaming sometimes he shouted out a name or a place. It appeared he could not see as he did not notice her. It was quite obvious that he did not notice anyone. More minutes drifted into hours and hours dragged into days. The operation was almost complete.

* * *

"Teris?" A soft voice asked. "I will be reviving him in a few minutes," Said Perceptor distracting her from her thoughts. He beaconed her to follow. They unlatched his arms and legs. He almost looked as if nothing had ever happened. Perceptor turned Starscream's right wrist up and opened a small aperture that exposed a glowing pink conduit. He administered a stimulant to the Decepticon's energon flow.

The red and white Seeker's eyes flickered and then glowed an unsteady, dull red. He turned his head as he focused on the Autobot standing there. Suddenly vague flashes of memory trickled past his minds eye, running, falling, crying for help, Galvatron firing, dying..... Or did he? Suddenly he was not sure. He felt confused.

"I was at Galvatron's mercy," said Starscream wearily. "How did I manage to survive?" Starscream realised Galvatron and mercy was an oxymoron. There was no such thing. He had expected a relatively slow, painful execution. He had certainly not anticipated ever waking up again.

"Well, if we were few moments later your wounds would have been fatal for sure." Perceptor leaned in closer to Starscream and whispered, "If it was not for her informing us of the second attack, you would have been slagged without a doubt." he said pointing at the lizard.

Starscream moved his head to briefly look at the Teris. He laid his head back with an exhausted sigh. "How long has it been since the attack?"

"Nine days," Perceptor replied. He tapped on the computer. "You resisted us almost all the way too. Your fuel pump kept seizing and had to be replaced. You had several full system failures, but somehow we managed to keep you functioning. Finding compatible replacement components, for you, now that was extraordinarily difficult, we don't have very many Seekers on Cybertron and we also don't make a habit of repairing Decepticons."

"Nine days?!" He exclaimed. It felt like only a few hours had gone by at the most. He had no recollection of any of his previous awakenings. "And what of Galvatron?" he asked nervously, feeling his body quaking slightly. He remembered asking the same of Megatron before his ill fated coronation.

"We managed to beat him back. He said he was only coming to finish off a job. I assume you are the job he was referring to." said Perceptor coolly. "I think he thinks you're dead."

"He nearly had me that way. I could not defend myself." said Starscream bitterly. He remembered everything far too clearly. "You 'Bots almost had me killed because of your precautions." He attempted to sit up; he was very groggy and his head pounded. Lights danced in front of his optics and his mind swam. He groaned and refocused his optics.

"Starscream," Perceptor spoke softly. "Prime decided you are telling the truth. He offers you asylum." He brought out an Autobot insignia. "He was wondering if you wished to wear this emblem," He held out the insignia.

Starscream looked at it for a long hard moment. Nausea welled up inside and he thought he would be ill. If there was a remote chance that he, Starscream, Decepticon Ex-sub commander, would have ever considered taking their banner they lost that opportunity at his interrogation. He was disgusted with the Autobots. "He decides that after he sees me nearly killed?" He shot the Autobot a dirty look. "Oh boy, look the Decepticons really mean to kill him. Maybe we should apologise." spat Starscream sarcastically. He was angry, he was frustrated. Somewhere amongst those feelings he was hurt. He was grateful for their attempts at saving his life. But there was no way he would ever stoop to their level. "My answer: hell no! Who do you think I am? I'm not even sure who or what I am anymore," replied Starscream harshly.

"Well he figured you would not wish it. He told me that you have freedom of Cybertron and your weapons are to be returned to you. You are not permitted to leave Cybertron, without valid reason. He also wishes you to know that if you attempt to cause any Autobots harm you will be incarcerated again or rendered harmless permanently."

The Seeker scowled. The Autobots were laying restrictions on him again. They claimed he had freedom but all he had was a larger cage.

Perceptor held out the two weapons that Starscream wore on his arms.

The Seeker held them for a moment, looked them over slowly. He looked for evidence of tampering, finding none, he reattached them carefully. He could feel the draw of power. They remained unused for so long that the energy within them had dissipated. He looked at the Autobot. "What's freedom to me if I can't fly or transform?" he hissed.

"Take a look at your diagnostics. We've reconnected your transformation relays and your flight program is also back online."

He was secretly delighted, freedom and the perks that make life worth living. But he maintained an indifferent face. "Thanks," he said in a sarcastic tone.

"I'll leave you two for a few minutes. I need to find Prime," the Autobot said and he left.

It was bound to be common knowledge of what he was by now. He was not immortal; he was a living creature like any of them although he could survive in very harsh conditions that would easily wipe any of them out. The strange thing was he was starting to believe he was a god and really thinking that nothing would ever happen to him: Arrogance. He knew that cost him his life the first time.

"You are not really a god, are you?" Teris said sadly echoing Starscream's thoughts. "I saw you reduced to your knees like a blubbering spawnling." She glanced nervously at the weapons he now wore.

Starscream remembered his reaction when he heard her say that before. He felt a sense of guilt as he recalled holding his weapon mere centimetres from her face. He recalled Megatron doing the same to him as he questioned leadership, however she was not questioning his leadership, and she was questioning his word. "Do I have to be?" he asked.

"You lied when you said the Autobots were evil. They claim that you are evil." she whispered. "They spent days repairing your broken body, when they could have easily walked away. That is not evil."

"Evil and good is merely one's perspective on things. True, they saved me and this I am thankful for, but..." He thought for a moment. However, they have treated him cruelly, "clipped" his wings and taken away all his defences. He knew they were evil. Benevolent beings don't treat their POWs like that, some Decepticons tended towards the sadistically harsh side but not every Decepticon was like that. Even some Autobots were like that. Starscream had been known for his cruelty, experiments, vivisection of both machine and animal. But for the most part it was for learning how things work, why they work and ultimately how to stop it from working, but that was only to improve warfare. Science was often considered evil. It depended on how you used it. For the Guanas he used science in their benefit, for good, teaching them things that they might need to know to improve their way of life. There was something unique with them, was something about their memories that intrigued him. Something that he could not quite put a finger on.

If there was any species in the universe he would want to see extinct, that was the humans. They were prolific, not very bright; although, they thought that they were brilliant, and the best things that had happened to the universe. Hypocritical and weak. Their overall weakness and fear of the unknown made him hate them. He had experimented on them ruthlessly. He wanted to find out how they multiplied, but his experiments in trying to get a few pairs to breed in captivity failed, and he had to dispose of the specimens. There was enough information on that subject kicking around their world but it never seemed to work in a controlled, lab environment. All he wanted to find out was how to render them sterile.

"We have been fighting for eons and I can't even remember why." he sighed sadly. "It was how I was taught to think when they sent me to the war academy." He looked at the floor interested with the tiles. "The war had gone on for so long at that time that most of us had forgotten the reason that it was being fought. I guess each side thought they were right. Each side thinks the other side is evil, that's the nature of war. Each one trying to wrest power from the other. Pick a side and fight with them."

"Like you and Galvatron? You are trying to take him out, to take his position."

"Excuse me?" Starscream said with insult taken. "I think I am in my right mind to attempt to destroy him. It's not about power anymore, it's about revenge, it's now about survival. An eye for an eye, a life for a life." He paused for a moment thinking. "I am not sure how things would have been if I was not killed in my coronation. I had been told once that there would be someone waiting to take me out. I had not anticipated that it would be so soon. Hmmm But then again, is it not my comeuppance? I have wriggled my way to the top, lying, betraying those who would stand in my way." He felt more like he was thinking out loud.

"Your species envied my powers of hunting. I could kill a deadly beast with one shot. Take a hit that would kill any of you and live. I could not resist the glory I had felt in being worshipped by creatures I deemed inferior. I have since learned that Guanas are very intelligent and perhaps worthy of more than I have given." He knew the scientist hiding in his head was gloating. "I honestly think it would be good for all Decepticons and Autobots if such a madman like Galvatron was contained, preferably destroyed. He is insane. De-activating him is my task. When I am ready to confront him I shall go alone."

Teris listened intently she thought for a moment. She understood what he meant it was only a perspective. "If you need a friend, Decepticon, I can be that, but I don't want to be threatened again. I can hold your secrets and no one ever has to know, who or what you are."

Starscream nodded. He slowly sat up hunching under the throb of his head. He looked over at his wing insignias for a moment thinking. He reached up with difficulty and tore first one then the other off. "I am "free" now, to make my own choices. I am presently bound to Autobot rules about *MY* life, but in essence I have my freedom. I am not locked in a little cage. Galvatron will still pay. His death is in my debt. In that I have no choice. As long as he lives I will never be truly free for he will seek to destroy me when he realises he has failed." He opened his palm and the tattered insignias fluttered off and lay on the floor.

Teris shivered. She had seen the anger in the evil purple Decepticon's face. He was meaning for Starscream to never wake again.

Perceptor returned. "O.K. Little lizard lady, Starscream needs, some final examinations and to rest, he's been through a lot."

Teris walked for the door. As she passed the insignias she picked them up and hastily stuffed them into a pocket.

"You will be free to go in the morning, just don't forget, Starscream, you owe us a big one. There were more in favour of letting you die this time than those who wanted you fixed... fortunately for you, Prime does seems to have some faith in you." The Autobot put his face in front of Starscream's. "Don't disappoint him."

Chapter 10 - The Conflict of Interests Chapter 12 - A Stigma