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Chapter 14 Falling Down

I heard it all before
So don't knock down my door
I'm a loser and a user so I don't need no accuser
to try and slag me down because I know I'm right

-Green Day, When I Come Around

Ultra Magnus and Rodimus stood side by side. The Triplechanger, Sandstorm and the irate, Pinzgauer, Overcast stood before them.

"What are you going to do? Arrest him? Send him to the mines?" Asked Overcast hopefully. Starscream had reacted as he had hoped, however he would have preferred a short blast from his null rays rather than the strangle hold he had received.

"We are not going to do anything until we find out what provoked the attack." Said the blue and red mech who stood with his arms crossed in front of him.

"I tell you Ultra Magnus, he should be de-activated!" Screamed Overcast, rubbing his throat. His blue optics bright with indignity.

"Did you provoke him? I know you don't like him." Inquired Rodimus calmly.

"No! He attacked me without any reason, He passed by me and suddenly he was trying to strangle me!" Overcast could feel the indentations that the Decepticon's fingers had made in his throat.

"I was at the space ship Rodimus, I saw Starscream attack him but I don't think it was an unfounded attack." Sandstorm said with an apologetic glance at Overcast.

"Explain yourself." Rodimus gazed at the two Autobots. Sandstorm was first on hand to aid Overcast. The latter was almost uncontrollably angry screaming for someone to shoot down Starscream. Sandstorm had been quick to call the turret operators and suggest that they ought to hold fire until the reason for the attack was sorted out. Sandstorm did not like unnecessary energon shed.

"I've tried to keep the peace between those two, it's more along the lines of keeping the peace with Overcast more so than with Starscream. Overcast has antagonised him from day one. He even fired on him..."

Rodimus turned sharply to Overcast, his calm countenance replaced with anger. "Are you trying to incite him? Are you trying to get him to attack you so that we will have an excuse to put him away?" The Autobots tone was slightly disgusted.

"He's a damned Decepticon whether or not he has his insignia on. He should have been killed when he first arrived and no questions asked. He should have been allowed to expire after Galvatron attacked him. He is not worthy of the trust you are giving him." Overcast was livid with anger. His fists were balled. His plan had been seen through; he would have to find some other way to get the Seeker arrested.

"Now, now, Overcast, He has not done us any harm since he's been here." Sandstorm spoke in a soothing tone which served only to ire Overcast further.

"Do you call this," He pointed at his dented throat, "no harm?" He could not understand why he was being made out as the bad guy here, he was an Autobot, Starscream was a Decepticon, simple white and black, no grey.

"I've seen you harass him; I have seen the struggle in his optics, Prime, Starscream is trying to play by our rules. He should be given the benefit of the doubt."

Rodimus shook his head. "Overcast, none of us like him. He is being watched and Skyfire is keeping us informed. What did you say to him just before he attacked you?"

"He was with that Neutral Seeker, Sunburst, I only told her to watch her back with him. It was right after that he turned and attacked me." His voice was a tone of innocence and disbelief.

Sandstorm chuckled softly as if he realised something that the others did not. "Prime, it's obvious, Overcast provoked him without any doubt, I think that Starscream thought he was making a move on Sunburst."

"That's nuts. They hate each other. You should've heard them snarking at one another as they came down the stairs. Anyway I would not hit on her, she is as much a Decepticon as Starscream is. Why you even allow renegades and mercs to remain on Cybertron is beyond me. What are you going to do when more ex-Decepticons or neutrals join their group?" Overcast's optics glowed angrily as he planted the seeds of doubt in his leader.

"Enough, Please, both of you. Sandstorm, keep your personal views to yourself; Overcast, no more provoking that Seeker. He remains an unpredictable danger to us." The Autobot was irritated by the thought that both Sandstorm and Overcast had put forth. Skyfire had failed to mention Sunburst. This could be a disturbing development. Starscream was known to be very manipulative. Could he be trying to raise his own army? What other things motivated the red Seeker? Again he wondered if he made the right decision in setting the Seeker loose on Cybertron. He glanced over at Ultra Magnus who only nodded. The Seeker would be harder to catch now than he was earlier.

"Then if he is such a danger to us, why did you free him? Catch him now and have him killed." Overcast insisted.

"He has my word and I have his." Rodimus stated justifying his decision.

"BAH!" He spat venomously. "The word of a Decepticon means nothing, they—he cannot be trusted... Starscream's word should be even less trusted!"

"Why this uncontrolled hatred, Overcast? What has he done to you?" Asked Sandstorm softly. He refused to raise his voice maintaining it just low enough so the others had to keep theirs down a few octaves so that they could hear him.

"What has he done to the Autobots you mean!" Overcast was furious. "It was long before you and your people joined us here from Paradron, you never knew Starscream as the cold blooded murderer he is, you've never seen the broken bodies of friends he's killed." Overcast thought for a moment of Brawn. "He deserves nothing other than to be thrown screaming into a slag pit." Overcast could just see himself cheerfully pushing the Seeker into the slag pit as he begged for mercy; watching him shriek as he dissolved. His optics glowed bright as he reveled in that mental image and his lips curled savagely.

"Two wrongs don't make a right. Killing him would only make you a cold blooded killer too, no better than his past; do you want that on your conscious?" Sandstorm's voice was raised a little. He was disgusted in the Pinzgauer's bloodthirsty idea.

"Killing him would not make me feel guilty in the least." Screamed Overcast back shaking a fist at Sandstorm. He could not understand why everyone was protecting the Seeker. It made no sense.

"Cut it out you two!" Said Rodimus as the argument escalated "Overcast you are being re-assigned and ordered to keep away from Starscream. Sandstorm you will be assigned a new guard."

Overcast glared at Sandstorm saluted and left. As he exited he muttered, "We'll see." He had no intention in letting the matter drop. Starscream would face the justice he so deserved.

Rodimus watched the small Autobot and the Triplechanger exit. He rubbed his chin in frustration. "Ultra Magnus, inform Hot Spot and the other Turret operators to be prepared to shoot Starscream out of the sky, on my command. I hope it is not necessary and get Skyfire here."

* * *

Starscream stood regarding the assorted collection of pieces that the Guanas had managed to acquire. He had liked some of the stories and excuses that the crew had used in justifying their needs for their ill gotten gains. His only real trouble was getting hold of the huge metal plate. It was large and not very easy to get into the lab unnoticed. He had only just picked it up an hour earlier. He carefully propped it against a wall.

Six and a half weeks earlier this would have not been a problem. He could have easily hidden it and probably managed an excuse to Skyfire that it had been here all along, but being that he was going to have to work in this place; he had quickly managed to have it cleaned up to his impeccable standards. Shelves were neat, datapads filed, experiments were set up and executed with proper care and precision with results and notes recorded in a timely fashion. Everything was cleaned of the disgusting spills and splatters that decorated the walls, tables, floors and ceilings.

The Seeker booted up his datapad and loaded up the schematics for his rifles power boosters. He hoped this plan was going to work. He knew he was going to have only once chance at succeeding, if he did succeed the rewards would be great. But if his plan failed, Starscream knew he would not have to worry about anything else after, as he would be, in all likelihood, nothing more than a puddle of molten slag.

Thrusting that unpleasant yet possible outcome to the back of his mind, he pulled a stool to him and sat down. He studied his plans as he reached for a circuit board and slowly pieced his puzzle together. Hours later he stood up from his work as he placed his tools down. He straightened his back and un-kinked his knees. It had been a very long, tedious night, one of the longest he had had in quite a while. He glanced casually at the digital clock on the wall, four-fifteen am. Skyfire had left the lab at around seven pm. He sighed deeply; it was almost time for him to call it a night and head for home.

He had spent longer and longer hours in the lab so as to avoid Sunburst. He was grateful to her for allowing him to stay at her residence. But she was not easy for him to be around. Arguments and fights were often breaking out. Most of which was over what he considered an invasion of his privacy. He kept all his research and datapads in the re-charge chamber that was designated as his. And he would return from the lab only to find them lying around everywhere.

It reminded him of his episode with Skywarp and Thundercracker, when they found the secrets hidden on his personal log. Starscream now kept his datapad on his person at all times, hidden in a subspace pocket that only he had access to. He had thought about destroying it a few times since Skyfire had returned it, but it had too much valuable information going back a very long time. If Sunburst got hold if it, he dreaded the thought, he knew she would have a field day blackmailing him. He shot a look at the black object in his right hand and he knew that he should destroy it. In the wrong hands it had the potential to hold too much power over him. Later maybe, he would see that it was destroyed but not right now; for now it held the plans for this weapon.

As he peered from the pad back to the confusion of wires, diodes, prisms and other assorted bits. He poked at it gently making sure the connections were solid. Satisfied he tipped it carefully on its side and held a laser pen light to the opening that would re-direct his rifles laser into the power pack. He flipped a small switch and the pack started to whine redirecting the light from his hand held laser through the prisms. Now it should bounce the enhanced laser light from mirror to mirror and maintain it there until he released it, he thought to himself as he turned the laser out. However the results were disappointing. The energy dissipated. Had he failed? Or was the laser pen's beam not strong enough to maintain it's power?

Starscream stopped the test run, and made note of his simulation. There was something flawed in the design, he sighed, he would have to sort that out later however he figured it would be safe enough to test the power of the pack on his own weapon. He took one of his rifles that was propped up against the wall and laid it out on the table. Carefully he opened the casing and removed an energon conduit hooking it to the mechanism he had painstakingly built. He eyed it suspiciously for a moment. Hoping that this has not all been a complete waste of his dwindling time.

He fumbled with some settings on the outside of the null rifle and carefully reattached it to his arm. He could feel the rifle taking energy away from his systems as it charged the gun. He aimed at a metal plate against the wall; with his hand he quickly flicked the feed switch that redirected the laser of his rifle into the attached pack.

Abruptly the energy drain he had experienced increased tenfold as the device drew massive amounts of power away from his basic life support systems. The laser beam was then passed through a pair of prisms that shattered the laser energy into spectra. The shattered light was put through filters that extracted the unnecessary light waves.

From there the remaining spectra, mostly ultra violet, violet, indigo, and infra red were focused through several lenses where the light waves were reformed into a concentrated beam. This beam was fed into the plasma chamber where it was intensified into raw plasma energy.

The energy draw was feeling most uncomfortable. The device suddenly started to hum ominously as it heated up. Quickly Starscream flipped back another switch manually and he fired a plasma bolt at the plate, a hole melted into it the size of his head. However, he also left a sizeable scorch mark on the wall behind it. He stumbled suddenly; the pack was still drawing power from him at a terrific rate. It was starting to sap his strength. He scowled as he slapped the switch and turned the pack off. He could feel the power draw cease.

There still needed to be a lot of work done on the pack before he could adapt such a weapon to work harmoniously with his systems. He knew if he used it for any length of time the chances were it would sap him of all his available strength. It had to use considerably more energy to redirect his laser charge into the plasma chamber than he had anticipated and the resultant charge was unstable he could tell by the ominous hum. If he had waited in firing, it could have literally blown up in his face. Something had to be changed. He looked back at the datapad. He had run computer simulations and the results were good. With disappointment he placed his datapad down and walked over to the still smoking plate and wall.

He looked closely at the metal, a sly smile played at his lips. The plate was the toughest armour he could acquire on Cybertron. That is truly not saying much, as Autobots were not as heavily armoured as Decepticons were. He had identified it as a chunk of outer armour used by the ancient guardian robots. Tuli and Zumbo had done well. All he needed to do now was find more and dispose of this piece.

The wall behind the armour plate was made of standard building materials; not very tough stuff but adequate for the purposes of building non military structures. It had taken a very deep burn into its surface. Soot from the smoke covered the edges of the gouge and a cooling puddle of slag had formed on the floor. Starscream looked around for a piece of cloth so he could wipe the wall off and picked up a chunk of debris to scrape the still hot slag off the floor and onto the plate. It would not do to let it adhere to the floor. He looked around he could move something to hide the hole. He figured that he could be hard put to make up a good excuse to explain why the burn was there.

Although there was a flaw in the pack, the overall results were promising. He knew he would have to run more simulations and scan the device to see where the problem lay. He would also have to run more simulations on how his weapons would hold up to the vigours that this device would put them through. If he could maintain the strength of the blast or make subtle changes in the setting and make it stronger. Could anyone stand against him?

'Beware of your overconfidence.' Came a cautioning thought. 'It has been your fatal flaw.' Starscream did not respond to the caution but he noted it.

He looked around the lab and wondered how he could quickly re-decorate. Skyfire had grown used to his frequent shifting of things. He slid a bookshelf in front of the hole, so as to hide it from immediate notice. He figured he could just say, if any one asked, an experiment went very bad. Things like that often happened in the pursuit of science.

He lifted a large steel tool box he had stored under the work table and placed it on the top. Starscream unlocked it and opened it up. It seemed larger inside than it appeared on the outside. The beautiful benefits of subspace pockets, they could hold more than meets the optic. He had almost forgotten about subspace during his stay on Guandonnaland. He did not have the technology on him that he needed to access it there in this manner.

Starscream carefully placed the unused parts into their bags and placed them inside the box. He did not want anyone knowing his plans, least of all Skyfire who would most likely betray him to the Autobots. He had the distinct feeling that Skyfire was not all that overjoyed with his presence. And he also figured that Skyfire would blab to Sunburst. He had found out from the giant flier that he had found her injured in the Sol system. What she was doing near Earth remained unanswered. He had inquired with Skyfire and all he said was she would not talk about it.

He attended to his other legitimate experiments that he was working on as the excuse for staying later. In silence he logged in his findings and filed his reports and signed off. He dropped the report datapad on Skyfire's work table. The large flier rarely expected him to arrive any earlier than noon.

On his own datapad he recorded the results of his test. Indeed the weapon drew far too much power from him, he felt quite drained from that single experience. Having two weapons simultaneously charged would drain him in a matter of two or three shots each. That was unacceptable as it would most likely get him, the user, killed.

With a sigh Starscream signed out of his datapad. He gathered his rifles up and reattached them to his arms. He picked up the melted plate and tucked it under his arm as he stepped out the lab. He closed the door firmly behind him and keyed in the exit code. A loud thunk echoed in the empty hall as the locking mechanism sealed the door shut. The Seeker stuffed the datapad into a chest compartment and he started slowly down the hall.

The hall had every other light out to conserve electricity. There were very few robots around at this time of night. Security personnel were about and they had become used to Starscream's frequent late night presence. If it were not for the fact Starscream had disabled the alarm system in the lab he figured that the security personal would be running down trying to find out why he discharged his weapon. He often wondered why the 'bots had even returned him the rifles even though it was suggested, for his health, not to even think of using them.

He reached the elevator doors and hit the button to call it to his floor. He leaned heavily against the wall. The drain caused by the weapon was very intense. He felt exhausted and desired to have some form of energy boost. When he got home he could relax and enjoy a re-charge

The elevator arrived quickly; there were very few people using them at this hour of the morning. "That would soon change." He thought as he rode alone and in silence.

'You'd be lucky to get that pack to work without it drawing all of your power.' Came the unwanted thought.

"It will take bit of time to get it sorted out." He replied tiredly. Starscream did not want to battle his thoughts right now.

'Time, my friend, is something you might not have much of. It will be only a matter of weeks or even days before Galvatron catches wind of your survival.' His thought said warningly. 'He will come back to get you.'

"That is ever close on my mind." Muttered Starscream. "I expect to get this done long before then."

'That pack you are making might not be wise. Your weapons are designed to work with you. They are what you were created with, they are what your systems are used to. Changing them might cause you greater physical problems in future. The draw from your personal power is excessive, it's dangerous. I recommend ditching this idea.'

"Recommendation is ignored. I do not intend to use them all the time. It is not like they are going to be a permanent part of my armament." He sighed. The elevator door opened. Silently he walked past the huge plants of the U.A.C. entrance while he listened to his internal monologue. He realised that over the years he had become far too used to listening to his internal self, talking to it as if it were a separate individual. It was interesting in the facet that the internal voice was very logical and sometimes spotted things that he missed. It saw things on a subconscious level then voiced its findings. It was disturbing because he could not figure out how to turn the voice off. He knew he was in that very dark grey area that was the border of insanity.

'If you insist that you are going to use the pack then I would recommend that you not put the packs on the weapons until you are just about to need them.'

"Do you have any good advice on how I should tweak it to lower the energy consumption and keep the firing output at that level?"

'No. Not at the moment. I will think about it.'

"Then, please, go away." He said loudly in frustration. A mech coming off the tube car looked at him strangely and shuffled away. He walked up to the vacant car and climbed in. Starscream belted himself into the seat of the vehicle. He punched in the destination and the canopy of the car sealed down over him. The car shot away and Starscream found himself mesmerised by the blur of his surroundings and fell into a brief doze.

The car stopped abruptly and the Seeker was jolted to wakefulness. He looked around feeling groggy. Yes, he had arrived at the surface. A fifteen minute ride and he had spent ten of them asleep. He disengaged his restraints and hauled himself out of the car. The Station was empty; his footsteps echoed as he walked to the surface.

Walking outside, down the street in the crisp early Cybertron morning, it was quiet save the humming of the planet itself. Light illuminated the street in circular pools of amber. He glanced up at the towering spires; most were partially blackened. Only white light emanated from a few windows where other mechs worked or resided. Most places of business were closed at this hour to help conserve energy so Cybertron could maintain the highest standard of living that any of the mechanised worlds had.

The conservation was something he learned the Autobots had imposed sometime after 2015 when the restoration of the planet really started to show. When one side of Cybertron was cast in its shadow most things, save the major factories and important functions, should be shut down to conserve energy. It was a logical course of action, though it made nightlife a drag. Not that he really wanted to indulge in such activities. Starscream leapt into the sky and transformed as he tucked the plate into a cargo compartment.

* * *

Overcast drove rapidly over the rubble of a landfill site, he had his headlamps off so his activities would be more exciting. He had been angry with Rodimus' decision. Starscream had attacked him; he should be de-activated for that. Thoughts ran across the Autobots mind of all the violent things he wished to do to the Seeker if the opportunity presented itself.

He did not like neutral mechs either, they were undecided and possible threats, what he hated more were Decepticons who claimed to be neutral and above all he hated Starscream. He accelerated with frustration. He stopped suddenly and backed up. He spotted a new possible challenge.

He aligned himself with a bunch of concrete and steel girders sizing them up, seeing if they were remotely interesting as a challenge. He sighed. There was little to do on this world: too flat. There were no natural mountains that could test his courage and skill. The buildings were tall enough and he had taken to jumping off them to get the thrill he desired, but even now that thrill was worn; he wanted something else to try that was dangerous.

From above there was a roar of engines. Overcast transformed and looked up. In the darkness he could see the form of an F-15 jet: Starscream. Curious, he hid himself under an overhang of rubble keeping out of sight.

The Decepticon transformed and landed. He dropped a sheet of metal and sprinkled and kicked other bits of trash over it hiding it partly. Overcast was intrigued. Ammunition for the gun: Starscream was up to something covert. He grinned wickedly and readied his weapon in case of discovery.

Taking Starscream in hand to hand would be a thrill. He owed the Seeker one and he now, more than ever, wanted to see Starscream's energon on his hands. Silently he removed his canvas backpack opening it to dig around in the subspace looking for his starlight amplified camera. He would take photos of the Seeker, incriminating evidence that would hopefully help issue an arrest warrant.

* * *

It was five am and he had found himself creeping through a landfill site. Starscream dropped the metal plate on the ground and kicked and sprinkled debris over it to partly hide it. Could he not have chosen a more suspicious activity to get into while he was on Cybertron, he wondered with a wry smile? He walked over to the area where he had originally collected the slab. If there was that small piece of Guardian robot there had to be more. They were huge mechinoids which were almost extinct. Omega Supreme was one of the few that survived, if not the only one left.

He dug through the rubble, searching until his hand touched a thick heavy slab. It was small, being about three metres long and about two metres wide, but he figured it should serve his purpose. He pulled it up brushing the other debris off. He turned it over and peered at it carefully. He smiled as he tossed it aside and kicked more trash over it. He would return for it in the evening. Starscream looked around himself to make sure he was not being watched. He had a strange feeling he was not alone. However he dismissed that as simple paranoia. He knew he could be tracked here if the Autobots wanted to check up on him. Starscream looked to the sky and with a sigh he jumped and flew out.

* * *

Overcast waited a few minutes until he was sure the Seeker was far away. He walked over to the plate Starscream had attempted to hide. He saw the huge smooth melted hole in its surface. He took a deep breath as he dug his hand into the subspace backpack and brought out a scanner. He watched the dials and sure enough the energy signature matched the one on record of Starscream's, it also had an unknown energy signature. It took something very powerful to melt a hole like this into that sort of metal. Rodimus would have to be alerted. He took a few photographs and recorded his scanners finding. He smiled wickedly. He could almost taste Starscream's end.

Without further ado Overcast transformed and drove, as quickly as he could manage the long distance back to Iacon.

* * *

Starscream slowly circled the spire as he admired the view of the city. Abruptly he started to get low energy messages. "Slag." The Seeker silently cursed as he cut his engines and transformed. Slowly he descended scowling as his feet touched the solid surface of the building's roof.

The Seeker glanced behind him at the door to the flats on this level. He did not want to enter quite yet. Although he had spent over thirty four hours awake and was utterly exhausted, he was not eager to return. He almost thought he preferred Iacon and that tiny loud mouthed Autobot, Overcast. He had little choice in the matter.

He walked to the building's edge and stopped. His azure hands rested on the rail as a gentle breeze whistled as it blew past. He leaned heavily against his hands. Stilling his mind, he listened again to the thrum of Cybertron. A flash of a memory crossed his mind: the blinding, frigid whiteness of Mount Everest on Earth. He remembered vaguely having that dream in recent weeks but he could not remember when. In the dark distance he could hear vehicles and way down below he could see the movement of a few people. Cybertron was starting to wake up. He glanced around himself. Starscream figured he was at least nine hundred metres from the surface of Cybertron. Above him stars shimmered as bright fire-like specks in the pitch black sky.

Starscream drew in a deep breath as he turned to enter the building.

He punched his I.D. into the passcoder. The door clicked and he swung it open. The room was dark. He used the dimmer switch to shed a little light on the situation. Starscream walked into the hall and looked down towards the re-charge chamber. Sunburst's door was closed. He hoped she had not heard his arrival. In silence he removed a rifle and started to place it on the rack in his weapons locker when Sunburst came up behind him.

"Its well past five in the morning, Traitor. What in Cybertron do you do that it takes you all night?" She said suddenly, eyeing him coldly.

Starscream almost leapt in surprise. He felt annoyed. He knew what time it was, he did not need to be told. He stood up as he unlatched the left rifle. The Seeker looked at her in silence. She stood glinting gold in the dim light of the apartment. "Will you stop calling me traitor!" He snapped after a long moment. His optics flashed and glowed brightly.

"Is that not what you are?" She asked icily holding her ground.

"I have a name, slag you. You will learn to use it." He commanded, his tone was similar to how he used to reprimand Skywarp for calling him Screamer.

"Starscream which is also synonymous with traitor." She reasoned to justify calling him traitor. "So where have you been?"

He slammed his rifle down on the table. 'She's not my keeper.' He thought angrily. He could feel his optics blaze with red fire. The last thing he needed after a very long tiring day was to be confronted by Sunburst. "I don't have to explain to you what I do with my free time. My time is my business. Now get out of my way!" He shouted. He watched her as she stepped back a step in surprise at his volume. Yes, he could feel her fear, she was now afraid of him. He stood fully upright, straightened his wings and firmed his mouth.

"I have the need to know what you do in my home." She retorted.

He felt heat and fury fill him but he managed to maintain a level yet a very dangerous sounding voice. "I have done nothing in your home; ergo it's none of your fragging business."

She shot Starscream a glance of disbelief. "Then what is this?" She threw down a couple datapads that he had kept in his recharge chamber, onto the table.

Starscream recognised them as the research files he had downloaded from the computer recently. He looked from the datapads to the yellow Seeker, he felt angrier. He clenched his teeth as his optics blazed brighter. He wondered why she had been going through his things. "I don't have to tell anyone what I'm working on. I especially don't have to report to the likes of you, Sunburst." He felt highly frustrated about this confrontation, every signal in his body wanted to rain pure wrath down upon her. Yet he tried to resist. "I have asked you to keep out of my personal effects and affairs." He said stiffly. He did not want to be pressed for answers that he did not wish give. He simply gathered up his rifles and was returning them to his arms.

"If you don't want me looking, then don't keep your stuff here. Now what the hell are you doing?" She inquired.

Starscream felt his weariness fade as he was filled with a burst of eletro-adrenaline. He dropped his rifle as he spun with such speed and anger. He threw Sunburst against the wall as his fingers wrapped tightly around her throat, lifting her just off the floor. Her right hand was pinned between his body and hers. His right hand took her wrist crushing it painfully as he pressed it against the wall. He seethed with intense fury as he looked her in the optics. He challenged her to put up a fight. She did struggle against him but her efforts were hampered by his hand holding her by her neck. He cocked his head, regarding her for a moment. He had never been this close to Sunburst; he could see the panic in her optics. He enjoyed seeing her fear. Yes, although he was very tired, he was strong enough to kill her and that thought was very entertaining. "What did I just finish saying? I don't have to tell you what I'm doing, so deal with it." He ruthlessly tightened his hand that was around her wrist. His optics blazed like the flames of hell.

Sunburst cried out in pain and fear. "Starscream stop you're hurting me!"

"No more than you've hurt me, bitch." He hissed using the vulgar Earth slang. The Seeker could feel his anger radiating out from his body. "Anyway pain is a weakness that does not befit a Decepticon. However, I recommend you learn to enjoy it Sunburst, it means you're still alive." Starscream laughed sadistically as he threw her aside.

Quickly he picked up his dropped rifle and hooked it up to his arm. He looked down at Sunburst, as he held his weapon in readiness. She picked herself off the floor glaring back up at him. Her mouth quivered in fear.

"I warned you not to press me for answers. You are also lucky my energy reserves are too low or you would have tasted my firepower." He said lowering his weapon. With a quick decisive movement, Starscream spun on his heel as he exited the apartment. The door slammed shut behind him as his feet thundered down the hall to the roof top exit.

'Wow! You do have a way with the fembots don't you, Screamer?'

"Piss off." He said angrily as he pushed the door open returning to the wide open space of the roof. He wondered why she thought he had to answer to her. He never answered to anyone else unless it suited his purposes. "I have no idea what goes on in the mind of that female. She's incorrigible." He wondered about her motives. If she really knew about his history she would have found out he was not a mech to be trifled with.

'Yes, so are you. You also over-reacted.'

Starscream snarled with frustration as he leapt off the top of the building. He did not want to have his alter ego jabbing at him now. "I over-reacted because I am exhausted. I need to get down time soon. Also I am sick and tired of her insults and questioning." He soared through the air with his arms out-stretched. He flew fairly low to the ground as he did not trust his present ability to fly. Fatigue coupled with low energy and anger did not aid his judgment.

'I think that she thinks you are out raiding as a Decepticon again.'

"Is that not what I have been more or less doing through the Guanas? I might have to resort to raiding again myself; I will need to recharge soon. Anyway why should I care of what she thinks I am up to?" He snarked.

'You like her do you not?' The scientist asked softly.

Starscream almost fell out of the sky with that thought. "Why should I like her? And what is there to like about her? And what does that have to do with any of this?" He asked rapidly as he regained his altitude.

'It has much to do with it.'

"I refuse to answer, leave me to my own thoughts." He said angrily as he dipped his arm to the right and veered for the chasm that led almost to the core of Cybertron. Starscream landed at the edge.

He looked down. The chasm got darker and darker until he could not see. Many kilometres deep into the planet it went down. Cities were built into the side looking out into the abyss. Closer to the core the lights were on all day and night. However the further down the less populated it was. The core was creepy. He refused to go down that far. Deep twisting tunnels that were made of smoothed or rough hewn rock rather than metal. Many Seekers refused to go into the depths of the planet. Most suffered claustrophobia to one degree or another. He shuddered at the thought, it was said the soul of Cybertron laid somewhere deep in that abyss along with other ancient Quintesson relics.

Starscream sat himself down on the edge. His feet dangled over the precipice. He looked over the huge gaping hole that spanned several hundred square kilometres. There was nothing for him to do now other than to think. But he disliked being questioned by a "subordinate" as he saw her. He was once the Air Commander of the Decepticon battle fleet, as well as the Decepticon Sub Commander. He regretted the choices he had made in his previous life that put him into his present situation. He had so much to gain, so much going for him and in a simple miscalculation; he had lost everything that had any meaning to him, in a short few days. Skywarp, Thundercracker, rank and life.

'Sunburst is not one of your warriors, Starscream and stop dwelling on the past. Look to the future.' His thoughts tried to soothe him.

Starscream looked into the blackness below, his mind getting lost in the void. As for looking into the future; he did not want to. He felt that he would not like to see what was in store for him. "She is not even a friend." He whispered sadly. He had been excited when he had seen her, he had briefly thought he could befriend her. Very briefly, her reaction to him was not quite what he had expected and he had become defensive. "I wish she would tell me what she has been doing since Windraker's death, why she holds this grudge and why she needs to know so much about my life."

'Well you have an odd way of affirming friendships, throwing her around like that.'

Starscream ignored his internal grumblings. He glanced over the planet again and had to think. He realised he had been looking at Sunburst in rather different way lately even when he had pressed her against the wall he had a strange feeling come over him, instead he resisted and crushed her hand with his in frustration. There was another slightly worrisome feeling that had come over him when he brutalised her, it felt rather nice and he thought he would enjoy smashing her about again if the need arose.

Despite all her fundamental flaws and failings Sunburst had vitality, viciousness and agility. Despite his mistrust for female mechs, he was somewhat curious about her endless fascination with his life. He understood now why he had avoided her and why he would have to continue to avoid her; he did like her. Starscream knew it was never to be. Not yet at least. Maybe later after all the fighting was done, but even then he doubted he would have that luxury. He did not care to admit even to himself this reality. The Seeker had a weird fear that it would mark her for destruction as it had marked everyone else he had ever cared for, Skyfire, Thundercracker and the incorrigible Skywarp.

He however did not like the feeling that he had to answer to all of her whims. He did not answer to every wish or command of Megatron. He really only carried out the commands of his superior officer if the benefits for him outweighed the cons, she was not his superior by any stretch of the imagination. He took a deep breath as he looked up at the sky. The stars were starting to fade out as the dawning approached. The celestial sphere seemed less black and more of a deep blue-purple.

Starscream was a loner; part by nature and part by necessity. He preferred living by his own rules, by what he saw fit as right and wrong. He felt hindered by the rules and restrictions of others. Sunburst imposed all manner of weird rules on him. The one he disagreed with the most was having to remain disarmed while he was inside her apartment. He had no wish to get caught defenseless again. Necessity dictated that he had to remain more or less aloof from everyone else. In order to make sacrifices that he needed to; he could not have strong bonds with others.

He had comrades in arms but he never had anything special with any of his underlings. Only to his wing mates did he wish he had shown a little more courtesy to. They often defended him and he on occasion, if he felt like it, returned the favour. There were times when he had found his solitary life very difficult and sometimes empty, when he had wanted to integrate himself with the social activities of the other Decepticons, he found himself unprepared, unwanted, and invariably left out.

Once he had a friendship with Megatron but that only deteriorated until all that was left was a mutual hatred of one another. Why had that gone so wrong? He wondered. Once he had a deep respect for the gladiator, Megatron, who rallied the Decepticons to him. He led the Decepticons in the Great War. Starscream near worshipped the ground the larger robot walked on and he pleased his leader so much that he rose in rank very rapidly to the chagrin of the others.

However, Megatron did things that seemed wrong. At first he ignored them as minor oversights. But then they occurred again. They were not oversights. The first time he told his leader of a possible hazard in a plan he ended up facing the business end of his leader's fusion cannon. Although it was set at the lowest possible setting when it was fired at him and it did not do very severe damage to his body, he was forever mentally shattered. Slowly over time his hurt and frustration turned to anger and that blended into hatred of the silver robot. Megatron at the same time grew to hate the young Seeker, but he let him live; the reason being that his abilities as an aerial warrior far outweighed his cons as a treacherous, conniving deceiver. At least until he became Galvatron.

Skyfire was his only true friend he ever had over the eons, he was incredibly patient. Their friendship was strained due to the separation of the ages; Starscream had become a Decepticon warrior as Skyfire remained locked forgotten in an alien icecap until his discovery. The Seeker had become a more dangerous character, someone different, someone Skyfire did not know.

Since Starscream's recent return to Cybertron, he had been working closely with Skyfire, trying to gain his trust and rekindle the broken friendship. He managed to get the larger flyer to tidy up his lab and remove the odd bits of disgusting decomposing organic matter that lay scattered all over the place. He also had renewed the interest of the larger mech in the young planet, Guandonnaland. Old files had been reopened and the contents of the Blue Dragon were systematically downloaded. Starscream's personal research was compared to the first findings. Other tests would have to be done on the planet so they started to make plans for a return expedition.

Sunburst was the first time he had a chance to interact with a fembot on any level. Needless to say, he had not really enjoyed her company. He felt that her incessant and sometimes relentless questioning about his whereabouts and his activities were enough to drive him for the loop. He tried to be polite, asking her to refrain from inquiring. Telling her she would not like the answer if she pressed him further, he had warned her and she had pushed him.

He felt that he did not need to answer to anyone. It was his life and his time to do with as he saw fit. It annoyed him that he had to leave as it was her place and not his. But how long would he remain away? He decided that he would go back, but when? One day, two days? What would he do in the mean time? How could he re-fuel? Starscream glanced up at the tall buildings. He could see the turrets. Raiding would be dangerous. He wondered how much of his energon supplies were left on the ship.

In silence he decided he would return to the lab and work all night and leave before Skyfire arrived. Where would he rest? He thought for a moment. How about in his ancient city of Vos? The old ruins would provide a shelter where he could be left in relative peace. He hoped that no one would notice his absence and call on a search party. That was his decision then: return to ancient Vos.

He looked past his feet and into the deep dark chasm. A few occasions he had contemplated self destruction, but he could never pull it off; self preservation always won out. Starscream smiled wickedly as he pressed his hands to the edge and shoved himself off. He fell free fall for a kilometre, Wind screamed in his audios, lights rushed by in a blur. It felt exhilarating. He allowed himself to fall without restraint for another one hundred and sixty seconds. He had dropped a grand total of over eight kilometres from the start of his daring plunge before he drew on reserve power to transform into his jet mode. He shot up and out of the chasm; his engines screaming with full power and speed. He cut his engines, transformed as he glided down over to the ancient ruins of the city. He felt like he had played a little Russian roulette. If he had not been able to draw on his reserves he might have continued to fall until he disintegrated when he hit the core's unseen bottom. He doubted it would have come to that; he could have just as easily flown out in mech mode.

The sky was brightening with the rising of the Cybertron star. Blue-green light was cast on the pinkish clouds in the sky. His shadow was long as he landed. He would have to rest before he went looking for energon or some other more conventional method of re-charging. Starscream came to a building and scanned it for its structural integrity. It lasted this long, it should last a few more days. He placed a hand on the outer wall and thumped it with his fist a few times. Small gouts of dust fell along with a couple small pieces of concrete but it would hold well enough. He walked in, stumbling every so often in the loose rubble. He found a fairly sheltered area and hoped that in the next few days it would not rain. The pink clouds in the sky were a little worrying. Getting caught out in an acid rain storm was a very unpleasant experience.

Starscream pulled a few dusty sheets of metal and leaned them against the overhang to provide some extra cover. He kicked out some of the debris as he huddled into the dark corner. He figured he would not be seen. Completely worn out; he settled down with a disdainful glance at his surroundings. He leaned his back against a dusty wall and his head propped against one of his air intakes; Starscream immediately fell into a much needed rest cycle.

* * *

Overcast arrived at Iacon and hesitated. He realised that Rodimus would flip on him if he found out that he had been spying on the Seeker. The evidence he had was minimal and inconclusive: not enough to get the papers pushed. He needed more evidence. In order to get that he knew he would have to get the frequency of the tracking element they had injected into the Seekers energon conduits. Once he had that information, he could track Starscream anywhere.

He laughed cheerfully and continued up the steps. He had some snooping to do.

* * *

Sunburst lay along her couch with a pile of Starscream's datapads at her side. She scrolled through each one in turn hoping to turn up some useful blurb of information on Starscream. Surely he kept a record of his life and if he did it would be the most interesting piece of reading available. She would perhaps understand what makes him tick if she did locate it.

Ever since she had first seen him at the academy; she wanted to get to know him better. He had an Aura of power and mystery that surrounded him. He was very aloof from others keeping more to himself and being very secretive. She wanted to know what drove him what motivated him and why he was so distant from the rest of the class. The mystery was very enticing.

His resurrection from death was also very fascinating. Not many mechs, or any mechs for that matter, who had their bodies completely and utterly destroyed had ever come back. Those whose bodies were still intact came back more or less as zombies. Their brain functions were often messed beyond repair. Starscream however managed to beat all odds and return to life much like his former self.

She still wanted to know what his motivation was; lust for power and control were two but why? Why did he need to have all this power at his disposal? What were his reasons? There were no explanations here; only technical drawings, weapons designs, power supply schematics and other various strange diagrams and instructions. He must keep his daily record, if he kept one, on his person at all times.

The buzzer to the door sounded and Sunburst glanced over her pale yellow wing. "Yo! Who's there?" She inquired not making a move.

"Skyfire, let me in."

Sunburst sighed she had figured he would arrive at sometime but she had hoped it would have been Starscream returning from wherever he was at this time. "The door is open," she replied, "Just enter."

Skyfire pushed the door open and ducked so he could enter the apartment. For him it was a very small place; he could only just stand upright fully. If he stood on the tips of his feet, his head would touch the ceiling.

"I heard you called in for repairs today and yesterday. Are you feeling well?" He asked as he sat down. "And where is Starscream I have not seen him today or yesterday for that matter."

"I am fine now, where Starscream is your guess is as good as mine." She said reproachfully. "I don't think I really give a slag where he is now." Her tone was bitter and resentful.

"What happened then?" He asked concerned. Something had happened between the two. Sunburst rarely sounded this upset. "Do you want to talk about it?"

She took a deep breath. "I don't know what to think of him anymore. I can tell for certain he hates me"

"I am sure he does not hate you, he just does not know how to express himself." Reassured Skyfire.

"Ya, sure he doesn't. That's why he tried to kill me yesterday morning after an all nighter at the lab." She said sourly.

"He what?!" He said with surprise and disbelief. "You must be joking."

"No I am not. I asked him a few simple questions then he went completely off his handle, grabbed me violently by the throat; pinning me to the wall. After he finished his strangle hold; he then threw me bodily to the floor and threatened to shoot me. That was when he stormed out." She spoke rapidly. "He had a strange look in his optics, like he was confused or something about what he was doing."

Skyfire could only stare in shock.

"I left to get my throat checked. He did not do too much damage but he scared me slagless." She admitted. "I don't really hate him; I just don't understand why he is this way. You know him perhaps you can answer my questions."

"Ah, well, you see, I don't know him as well as I once did. He's changed much and not for the better. He's up to something that I can tell."

"What does he do at the lab all night?" She asked.

"Experiments, as far as I can see. He files meticulous reports on his tests. He's very precise."

Sunburst smiled wryly. "Yes he is a bit of a perfectionist." Her smile faded. "Why is he the way he is?" She said beating around the bush.

"Why is he what?" Skyfire was perplexed. "I don't understand your question."

"Why does he, oh, slag. He is so self-centered, he thinks of no one other than himself. I want his friendship; is that too much to ask?" Her voice was frustrated and sad.

Skyfire took a deep breath. "I think I see what happened. You see Starscream is a recluse, he prefers to live alone and by his rules. As you already know he and I were very close friends once, the bond is not as strong anymore if it is there at all." He shook his head gently.

"Don't try to get involved with Starscream; there would be nothing in it for you. Quite frankly, his life is a cosmic disaster. He seems to resent the universe and what life has put him through; from what I gather he does enjoy your company, although he will never admit it to anyone. He will not reciprocate your affection so don't even bother; there is no future in it. He has his reasons for being the way he is and I don't pretend to understand why or what they are."

Skyfire cocked his head at the yellow Seeker. He was not trying to downplay the red Seeker; he was only trying to make Sunburst understand that forging a relationship with Starscream would be unwise; he did not want to see her hurt again. He knew that Starscream was capable of incredible acts of cruelty.

"I am sad to hear he attacked you but he might have another underlying reason. I think he could be trying to keep you at a distance perhaps for your own protection." Skyfire did not condone the action but he also understood Starscream really only understood pain and fear.

Sunburst shook her head sadly. She would have to be content with the inconclusive knowledge that Starscream might enjoy her company.

"He might come around one day but don't hold your breath. It took Starscream years to admit a tentative bond to Skywarp and Thundercracker and only recently did he even admit it to me. Sadly they are both dead and it grieves him much." His voice was soft and full of sadness. "Again I will emphasise don't seek Starscream's affections, he won't give it to you and if you press him, you will not like the reaction."

Sunburst could not say anything more. Her feelings were devastated. Skyfire remained and chatted to her for the rest of the evening not once mentioning Starscream or his absence.

Chapter 13 - Scavenger hunt Chapter 15 - Irrefutable Evidence