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The Cause
Chapter 9 Charr

Give me one good reason
To why you're so unkind
You know I believe believe it's true
You know I believe in you

- Fuel, Knives

They were still a day away from Charr when Starscream announced that he was going to be leaving the ship for short time.

He looked at the helmsman. "You're flying has been very good, you pick up things fast and I am sure you can fly this vessel without too much trouble. Just avoid those two asteroid fields on your way to Cybertron. I'll meet you on the way there." The helmsman merely nodded.

He looked around at the people on the bridge. "I will return in about a day perhaps two. If I am not there when you reach Cybertron you are to transmit a distress code." Starscream pointed to a button on the console. It's automated, someone should answer. PLEASE DO NOT speak my name. It could mean instant death for all of you—if it's a Decepticon who answers the hail." He was more worried that he would be intercepted if the Decepticons learned of his whereabouts. He knew that their language would be a problem for anyone if they called the mayday themselves. He had Santor record the messages, as his own voice was as much a tip off as his name would be. His name in Guana was the same as in English. He found it very interesting that they were referring him more and more as N'kosi: Great one.

The Seeker had charged well, and carried with him some extra highly condensed energon, the trip was lengthy and he did not wish to be over tired when he arrived. But a few million kilometres was nothing. It would take him about eight hours to fly to Charr. His mind was set on his plans he was ready to go. He looked around the bridge at the lizards who resumed their work.

He hoped that Decepticons would not intercept the Blue Dragon. He hoped that it would look like a simple freighter or cargo ship on the outside, something of no value. But if they were boarded they would notice that things were not quite what they seemed. He glanced at the faction symbols that were placed in almost every nook and cranny. He knew the Decepticons were hurting. Their leader was too ineffectual to lead them to a useable, viable power source that would help them overthrow their nemesis. And The Blue Dragon was loaded with viable energon.

Teris was thoughtfully chewing on a pencil. Sitting at her station, he pointed at her, "You're coming with me. Get yourself ready and meet me at the cargo bay in ten minutes." Teris darted from her terminal and disappeared. The other Guanas were not surprised at his choice in companion. He had once chosen Santor to fly with him.

The Seeker strode down the hall to an elevator that took him to a lower deck. The two cargo bays and storage areas were on this level, as well as the recreation room and further on towards the nose of the ship the brig. He came to a sealed door and coded in a personal password. The door opened and he stepped into a small storage room. Here were a few metal containers and things holding his belongings, he did not take much with him when he left Guandonnaland for he figured he would be back soon enough. He opened a box containing small laser weapons. He was still uncomfortable in handing the creatures weapons that were powerful enough to stun or damage a Transformer but he took one small pistol out. If Teris was going to join him on Charr he had better let go of his reservations and hand her something that she can defend herself with.

As he left the room he found Teris walking through the hall, her tail swayed from side to side as she moved. Starscream called out to her and she stopped. Her amber eyes glistened in the light. He knelt down so he was a bit lower and held his hand out revealing the pistol.

"Take this; Charr could be a tricky place."

The lizard reached out and took the weapon. She looked it over for a moment and back at Starscream.

"You operate it much like a cross bow; only you don't need to load an arrow into the string. It's a bit like my own weapon just smaller and not as powerful. Pull the trigger," he pointed to a curved button in front of the stock, "and it fires." he pointed out a small knob on the back of it. "These are settings, stun, normal and lethal. Leave it set on lethal, it won't kill a creature like me but it will hurt them for sure. It would easily kill one of your people on that setting or pulp a human."

Teris looked at him in surprise. "You haven't...?" she was worried that he might have taken a few Guana test subjects.

Starscream laughed softly, "No, I am familiar enough with your species to know what you can handle with out testing. Your people are naturally very rugged and tough. Humans, on the other hand, are very soft and they do die easily," his tone became sinister as the sentence ended.

He beckoned her to follow him into the cargo bay where he transformed. He told her to climb in much as he had to Santor. She hesitated before she climbed in. She was uneasy; for once she did not quite trust him. She hefted a leg into the cockpit and nestled herself in. Her tail was slightly cramped. The amber canopy closed over her head and she was sealed in. She thought it strange to be sitting inside the god.

"Open the cargo bay doors." He said over the radio to the lizards on the bridge.

"Aye, N'kosi." came the quick response.

The small cargo bay door was slowly opened, air hissed out into space and the stars could be seen shooting past at high speed. When the doors were fully retracted, the red and white jet blasted out. He watched as the ship and the Guanas dwindled into the distance. He would have felt entirely alone if he did not have the passenger with him. However, they flew for a couple of hours through deep space in complete silence. Neither Starscream nor Teris made any attempt to speak. Teris was too afraid to speak to the god. It felt almost like he had eaten her. Starscream had not said a thing as he was privately contemplating his plans. Only the whir of his jets could be heard.

But the stillness was broken, "You fear me?" the Decepticon Seeker asked suddenly as he flew through the black void of space. He felt her hands grip the armrests of the seat. He knew that she was uncomfortable by the question.

"You don't give me much reason not to," she replied. "You could squish my life out of me at any moment. You have been quite different since we left Guandonnaland." Her tone was tainted with a hint of unease. She watched the light flash in sync with his voice on the instrument panel in front of her.

"This is true." The thought had occurred to him on several occasions during the flight, but his Scientist kept insisting that she might be more useful to him alive than dead.

Teris looked at the stars ahead of her; her mind went over the past week or so thinking about her nightly observations. "You dream a lot. And they disturb you." A long period of silence followed the statement. "Your dreams make you talk and even cry out. What is it that you fear?" she asked boldly.

He wondered how much she knew of him. She was frighteningly observant. So she had watched him at night when he went into his recharge cycles. "I fear nothing." he shouted back, "Except that empty oblivion, where I only existed as a shadow: a thought. Oh there were times it was fun but it does get lonely. Back at Guandonnaland, I exist with your people but I have no one of my kind there, again, it is lonely. I once stated; I will rule the universe even if I was the only one left in the universe, but what would the point be? What's the point in being the ruler of nothing?" He knew if he was the only one left in the universe he would have only his scientist side chattering, bickering and commenting to him. That would make him go completely over the edge and he would most likely kill himself.

"No, if I were to be destroyed again, I would want my laser core extinguished, put out, whatever. Being "dead" and still aware sucks. I couldn't touch anything, I couldn't feel anything, worst of all it's very difficult to get anyone's attention with out them running away in fear of me. I knew what I was missing and I missed being truly alive." He sighed as his thoughts slithered more and more onto their morbid paths. The cockpit shuddered with his sigh. They remained silent for a few more hours. Teris had fallen asleep and was quietly snoring. Several times he wondered if he was ready for this challenge, the closer he got to Charr, the more worried he became about his mortality. He suddenly wondered if it was wise to bring the lizard with him, she would have been more useful to her comrades than she would be to him. 'Oh well, too late to stop now,' Said a soft thought.

The dead planet of Charr loomed darkly ahead. It orbited a dull orange-red star. The world looked bleak as he entered the atmosphere, a dead planet that was almost completely ruined. The air heated around him rushed towards the surface. "I recommend that you keep out of sight when we land. This could become very dangerous. Keep me within your sight. If I can't find you when I am done I'll leave without you, understood? Also hide the emblem you wear in my cockpit. If the other Decepticons thought you were with me.... "He let his last words trail off; he did not need to say any more.

Teris awakened at the sound of his voice she looked about groggily, staring in horror of the ruined world below her, not a tree in sight, or a body of brilliant water, the sky was filled with a reddish haze of dust and smog, buildings that looked long forgotten lay ruined. There were lights on in a small area ahead of them the yellow glow from windows did not liven the barren world much. As she listened to the Decepticon speak, she murmured an agreement as she removed the pendant and hid it in a compartment in his dashboard.

"But there is no life here, where are the trees, animals, rivers and lakes? The sky is not even blue. What is wrong with this world?" Her voice sounded very upset.

"Not every world is like Guandonnaland," Said Starscream banking towards the lit buildings. "It's an old world; it had its golden age long long ago. War ravaged and exhausted, this is the world that my people have fled to under the rule of my nemesis. I think Charr is an appropriate name for this burnt out ruined place. Don't worry yourself about it too much, we won't be here very long."

They glided in very low and landed he allowed Teris to clamber out and stretch her legs she darted behind a rock. From a pouch in her pants she drew out a laser pistol Starscream transformed. She looked at him for a moment and adjusted the settings the Seeker nodded in approval.

His entrance into Charr airspace had not gone unnoticed like he had planned.

* * *

Cyclonus and the Sweeps had seen the white and red Seeker's arrival. They were

Scourge and Cyclonus were hidden in some buildings. They followed at a distance stopping occasionally to watch Starscream's progress. One of the sweeps spoke up. "It's the ghost of Starscream. What is he looking for here?"

Another sweep glanced back towards the main building. "He is looking for another body. I think."

Scourge turned to the two sweeps and quietly whispered, "He is not a ghost anymore see how solid he looks, how he casts a shadow and how his feet make noise when he steps. He did get what he asked of Unicron before the head was destroyed. He then seeks Galvatron."

"Then we must stop him." said Cyclonus as he leapt from the covering of the ruined building and aimed his weapon. He decided that he would want to see Starscream's look of horror when he realised he was not going to win this fight. "We'll keep him as a trophy and allow Galvatron the pleasure of finishing him off." He lowered his weapons setting.

"Halt, Starscream!" Cyclonus yelled.

"Whaaa?!" Starscream turned with jump, at the sound of his name being called. His optics widened in momentary surprise. He had not been expecting a welcoming committee. He realised his plans had failed. There would be no surprise attack on Galvatron; the surprise attack was on him. In front of him stood Cyclonus flanked by Scourge and the Sweeps. Cyclonus has his weapon trained on the Seeker the others had their weapons drawn. A bolt of laser fire, discharged from Cyclonus, hit him square in the chest. He gasped as the unexpected force of the blast threw him backwards into a wrecked building. He let out a surprised yell. His head hit a wall hard and all went black.

He awakened his head sore and throbbing from the impact. His optics were slightly blurry as he focused and saw he was being held behind bars. He was disarmed: his rifles were nowhere to be seen. It was obvious all his other built in weapons were either removed or neutralised. He sighed. Then he decided he would test the energon bars. He reached out to test one of the bars but he jerked his hand back. They were electrified for certain. He paced back and forth in the small holding cell. Looking out hoping some how his luck would change.

He sat on the cold metal plank that served as a resting area for prisoners and despaired. His plans had failed again and far sooner than he had originally anticipated. He had not spent ten years of his life planning this attack to wind up as a prisoner before he had a chance to get a shot off. This was not in the plan. How had he been noticed? He wondered. He cut his engines early came in at a very low angle so he did not bring much attention to his atmospheric entrance, he glided in the rest of the way flying at subsonic speed to reduce anyone from hearing his approach. How had he been seen? Long range scanners? Were the Decepticons somehow expecting him? He felt a bit paranoid. Had they noticed The Blue Dragon? He had so many questions and he wondered how many would be answered. He also wondered about Teris. Had she been seen? If not, where was she and how long had he been out? More questions rattled across his mind. He looked down at his chest for a moment, the weapons discharge must have been on stun, he had no damage on his canopy. He hoped that the Guana would have better luck getting off this rock, he held onto the faint hope that Teris would somehow find him and help him escape. Part of him doubted that she would even try.

'Now we will find out if you pushed her away or if she is still your ally.' The thought said firmly.

"What could she do if she remains my ally? She does not have the size or strength to break me out."

'You underestimate the Guanas. They have incredible intelligence, or did you forget.'

"No, I did not forget, I just don't see how it is possible." He said his voice edged with despair. He pushed his thoughts from his mind and sat on the bench, waiting. He waited for whatever was to befall him. He sighed again and looked at his hands that were resting across his knees. How could he break free? He looked around the room. The lights, the bars or even the floor there had to be a way to bypass the charging mechanism of the cell.

"What brings you back after such a long absence?" Asked the voice of Scourge as he came into view. He looked like he might be somewhat sympathetic to Starscream's plight.

Starscream looked up from his pondering. "What do you think brings me back?" hissed Starscream. As he stood up to face the intruder his hands rested lightly on his hips.

"You have come for Galvatron." Scourge said. "He is not here. He is out raiding an Autobot stronghold on Earth with the Predicons."

Some how that bit of information slipped his scanning. He had arrived too early or late. He stood up and approached the bars regarding Scourge who stood on the other side. "On Earth, joy," his tone was disgusted. "Let me go, Scourge. Let me out and you can join me. We can help each other. You could be my second in command. Let me out so I can finish my job," said Starscream smoothly and hopefully. He really did not want to see Galvatron while being disarmed and defenceless.

"How many have you promised to be your sub commander, Astrotrain? Blitzwing? And who else? No one here would follow you—you're dead, and have been for twenty years."

"I am not dead, not any more than you are! Scourge, I was brought back by the same entity that brought you back!" Starscream's voice pleaded.

Scourge looked at Starscream for a moment a glimmer crossed his optics and his face firmed once again. "It did not have to be that way, your word is worthless, Starscream, you left us to die. My allegiance is to Galvatron and the Decepticons, not to a lone traitor and renegade. I have more reason to hate you than any other Decepticon alive, even more than Galvatron." Said Scourge acidly as he started to turn away.

"Please!" Again the Seeker implored, "Don't go, please free me!"

"I am sorry but my orders are to hold you here till Galvatron arrives. I suspect he will execute you quite quickly. Or perhaps slowly." Scourge had a savage twinkle in his optic. He turned and left the brig.

Starscream paced the cell again looking slightly frantic. He looked around for any sign of an access panel in which he could disrupt the energy in the bars. If he had his null ray he could have easily broken free. As it was, the weapons he had were probably locked away in another room or destroyed. He continued his circling, stopping to look up at the lights. He reached up and attempted to twist the screws out with his finger tips. He tugged and pulled at the fixture, no such luck; he inhaled deeply and started to pound at the metal of the light, it dented slightly but nothing more. All he could do was wait for his soon to come execution. He exhaled.

He returned to sitting on the uncomfortable metal bench in the corner, feeling like a pent up lab rat. With his elbows resting on his knees, Starscream placed his head sourly into his hands. He knew from that point of conversation with Scourge that the chances were that he would never be accepted as leader of the Decepticons. What about his destiny? His second chance? He should have given it up in the swamp. He allowed his optics to go off-line and rested for a while in despair.

* * *

Teris watched from behind a pile of rubble. She witnessed the attack on Starscream, she remained hidden unsure what to do. She looked down at her pistol should she help him or stay hidden. She remained out of sight as they removed his weapons and picked his limp, unconscious body off the ground. She waited for a few more minutes before she came out of hiding. Teris was surprised that they did not come after her. She must have not been seen. The Guana looked around and crept out of her hiding place. She followed at a safe distance behind the Decepticons, ducking behind rubble and slinking into obscurity.

They entered a large grey building. It looked better kept than the rest of the area. She sniffed the air, Starscream and the others of his kind did not have a very discernible odour. Teris sighed as she entered the building creeping through the corridors staying close to the walls and remaining in the shadows. She lost them, the Guana looked around her. There were doors everywhere. Where had they taken him? She slunk into a dark corridor and waited. She knew he would awaken soon.

She loitered in various small low alcoves till she heard Starscream's voice, the Guana followed it. There was another slightly soft spoken voice, she crept low to the ground and peered around the corner. There was Starscream being held in a barred room similar to the brig back on the ship, however this place was much smaller. There was no point in attempting an escape now with the other god creature there. The Guana wondered if she could find his weapons, it might help him escape. She hunted several rooms until she came across one that held them. They were resting against a wall but the chamber was barred with glowing rails.

She returned to the shadows by Starscream's prison, she watched and waited as the Decepticons finished their conversation. By the tone of Starscream's voice he was pleading for his freedom and the other was not accepting it. The big Decepticon returned and walked down the hall and out of sight. Now it was her chance.

Teris returned to the chamber that was sealed with glowing bars. She walked over to them and slipped through. She was small enough to pass the bars without touching them; they were designed to keep creatures the size of Starscream out. She hauled on one of his rifles. They were very heavy, she was surprised at this as she had seen him fly and assumed he was very light. She wriggled out of the chamber and noted the panel with buttons.

It had to be an access panel one that would open if the right combination of numbers were keyed in. Teris ignored it as she slowly dragged the astoundingly heavy gun down the hall.

"N'kosi! Here!" she called softly.

Starscream looked up from his hands. Relief crossed his dark face. So he had not driven her away after all. That was good news, she was moving with great difficulty dragging something behind her; as she got closer he could see she had his rifle. It surprised him that it seemed as though she cared enough to look for him. It surprised him even more that she was dragging his laser weapon to him without his asking for her to find it. After all, she had faced the business end of it a couple of times.

'Guanas are not stupid.' The thought informed him. 'She will have to use the manual switches to fire the null ray at the bars, there is enough energy stored in it for a couple of shots.'

"I know all that." He murmured back.

Then he will need to reattach it to him to fully charge it again. His options seemed fairly bright at this moment. He stepped over to the bars where she stood, he kneeled and whispered, "Teris there is a switch on the underside, flick it down and aim at the bars. Hit the red button that is beside the switch. That will discharge a null ray that will short out the electrified field." he said quickly glancing down the hall. "Quickly, I have no idea how long I've got."

He had hoped she would be able to hold onto the gun when it fired. It did have a tendency to pack powerful recoil. He moved quickly to the other side of the cell. If he got in the way of his own null ray, he might as well give up on any plans to escape.

She fiddled with the weapon, heaved it into position, then hit the red button as she was instructed. A purple pink ray hit the bars and with a crackle they shorted out. Teris was thrown across the room and Starscream chuckled. He had been expecting that.

"Great! Now slide me the gun. Hurry I can use it to break free," said the Seeker urgently.

Teris rapidly shoved the weapon through the bars. Starscream picked it up easily and connected it to his arm. She watched him as he aimed at the bars.

He could feel the rifles drawing power from him. "Get out of the way!" hissed Starscream quietly. Teris blinked and ran down the corridor as the weapon discharged. There was a low boom and squeaking sounds as Starscream bent the bars out of his way freeing himself. He smiled and nodded to the Guana. "Where is my other rifle?"

"In here N'kosi." She pointed to the keyed room.

Starscream smiled wryly and fired another null blast; the bars stopped glowing he looked over his shoulder to see if any one might be coming and fired a bolt of his laser at the bars. Teris used his leg to shield herself from the flying metal fragments. He shot another quick glance over his wing. Still no one.

The lizard woman showed him to where his other gun was. He snatched it up and attached it to his other arm. It clicked. 'Good,' he thought, he was armed once again. It gave him some of his shattered confidence back.

The Guana female looked down the corridor. He had seriously hoped that they might not have heard the escape attempt. She nodded at him and ran quietly down the hall. One question that nagged at his mind was, 'Where were the guards?' Surely they did not just leave their prisoners unwatched.

Teris ran on ahead through the corridors as she was smaller and less noticeable than Starscream. She could tell him if the way was clear. Her hand was on her pistol, as she entered a large chamber she froze and waited. Scourge and the Sweeps were sitting at a table illuminated by a single lamp; the rest of the room was fairly dark. They chatted while playing cards. Teris waved to Starscream. It was time to sneak through to get to the other doorway.

"Where did he come from?" asked a sweep. "I mean he has not been seen in almost twenty years." He piled a bunch of credit chips into a heap.

"Then he was alive when Galvatron blasted at him, I am quite surprised that he managed to survive. There are few planets even close to Cybertron that he could have gone to. Most are inhabited by Autobots and they for sure, would not have helped him," said another Sweep, raising the previous bet by ten.

"So he must have gone to a different more distant stellar system," Said Scourge. He tossed his cards down. He had a flush. He grinned and scooped up the energon chips. The other Sweeps moaned in disappointment, tossing their hands down. Scourge had slaughtered them again.

Starscream listened. He leaned out and caught the shoulder of Teris. "We must not go in there, we are outnumbered. We should leave. It appeared that no one heard us break free," he whispered.

She nodded in agreement. "Leave to live and fight another day."

"Now is there another way out beside that door?" She nodded. He picked the lizard woman up and they turned the corner to a different corridor. "Which way is out?" he asked. Teris sniffed the air and pointed. Starscream figured he would have a better chance of survival if he just left and came back at a later time, to lay low for a while, to gather his nerves again. He really wanted to return to The Blue Dragon. He wanted to nurse his disappointment and failure. What really needled him was that he no longer had the element of surprise. Galvatron would soon know he existed. He would have to get out of this system fast, he knew they would not stop until they had hunted him down and killed.

Starscream ran flat-out down the hall with the lizard woman nestled in his arm. He was almost to the outer door. He faltered for a moment as Cyclonus walked through the door. Starscream ran faster and barged past Cyclonus. The Decepticon stumbled, his mouth open in surprise.

"Sorry for this reptile lady but I don't have time!" He tossed Teris into the air and transformed catching her neatly in his open cockpit the canopy sealed shut and he gunned his engines to full throttle and flew into the sky with all his available speed.

"What are we to do now?" Teris had asked. "Will we be followed?" she looked over her shoulder at the planet as it shot away from them.

Starscream thought for a moment. "It would not be safe to return to the ship as planned. I had hoped I would simply go in and eliminate Galvatron. It appears that, as I had said before, plans have gone awry. Galvatron was not even here." His he said with disappointment tinged with worry.

He shuddered as he detected four blips on his radar. "Slag! Cyclonus has gathered the sweeps. He is coming after us. Use my radio com link and warn the Blue Dragon to proceed to Cybertron. Tell them I will try to meet them there," Starscream said with an urgent tone. "I hope." He added in English.

Teris made the call as Starscream put all his mental powers into speeding up and dodging incoming laser fire. He headed towards Cybertron. There was no other place could think that might prove to be sanctuary, what might deter the Armada from following him. "I'd transform but it would be very uncomfortable to do that with you inside me. Going to Cybertron myself with that lot on my tail is a dubious plan as well as the Autobots might just open fire thinking I am leading an assault, however I am hoping that Cyclonus and the sweeps would not try to follow me that far."

He got distracted and a blast from one of their weapons hit him in his left wing. "Argh! I'm hit!" he wailed. His wing tip was missing and smoke issued forth. Teris had covered her ear holes with her hands. Starscream's cry of pain and displeasure was very shrill.

Starscream fought for balance as he tried to compensate for his damaged wing. "Hang tight, I'm gonna have to fight back!" Starscream transformed. He fired both weapons at the encroaching Decepticons. His null ray hit both Cyclonus and Scourge. They went limp and the other Sweeps hesitated in their pursuit.

Starscream reformed into jet mode and high tailed it out. He was disgusted in his flee policy he had taken as of late, but it was obvious that if he did not have the element of surprise he would end up dead before you could say Galvatron. Starscream flew as fast as he could through the void of space hoping against hope that they might break off their hunt. He was starting to get low energy warnings.

"N'kosi we are getting hailed. I don't understand what they are asking. Its in your language." muttered Teris as she listened to the comm.

Starscream took over the comms. "Mayday, mayday. I request assistance. I am damaged." He grimaced. He was asking the Autobots for help.

"Identify yourself." The comms crackled.

Starscream thought it was odd that they did not recognise his voice, but he realised he had spoken in Guana not in English and the accent was very different. He repeated the request in English. "I am—I'm Starscream. I'm damaged; please, I need assistance, please help, Over."

There was a very long pause. "You are cleared to land. Starscream. Then drop all your weapons. We have two laser cannons aimed right at you. You will be taken as our prisoner until we decide what to do with you. Try anything and those cannons will be fired."

"Hurt me in any way and you will hurt my passenger; and I know how you Autobots are when there is a flesh creature involved." he hissed back. He had figured that something like this would happen; at least they were going to give him a chance to explain himself. The odds were in his favour that they would not give him to Galvatron. He might even seek asylum for the intern. "I will comply with your instructions. Please, I seek asylum."

He scanned the planet briefly. He spotted the two laser cannons and they indeed tracked his movements. Autobots gathered around as he came in for landing. They were surprised that he did not transform immediately but opened his cockpit to allow a small reptilian creature to climb out. She stepped aside as Starscream transformed, the creature did not run away. She stood next to him with a proprietary hand on his leg and her pistol aimed at them.

"Teris, drop your weapon. We must disarm. These Autobots won't harm us. We've agreed to their terms. They are usually good to their prisoners." Starscream whispered in Guana. He knew they would be good to her but the question remained: what of him?

"Yes my lord," and Teris placed her pistol on the ground. The Autobots closed in on them. Starscream disconnected his rifles and gently placed them on the ground. With his hands slightly raised he backed away slowly. He could almost feel the laser sight of the cannon burning into the middle of his back. For a moment he doubted the Autobots would keep their end of the bargain. The Autobot Security chief waved towards the cannons. He felt the heat of the laser diminish. Without further ado the Autobots lead them away.

* * *

Again he was locked in a prison cell. This time he was "safe". The Autobots were not known to execute prisoners without reason. He hoped that they would not have reason to execute him now, although he was responsible for several of the deaths in the attack on Autobot city. He hoped that they might overlook that incident and spare him.

The Guana woman was locked in a cell across from him. The Autobots had tried to speak to her but she answered their queries with questions in Guana. She was confused that they could not even speak the language. She looked over at the Decepticon and he shrugged. The Autobot turned and walked away.

She and Starscream spoke back and forth all day. There was no news at all from the Autobots whether or not a ship loaded with Guanas had given their distress call. The chances were they would not tell Starscream even if they did get it.

There was a knock and the door opened. Rodimus Prime entered. He looked at Starscream then looked at Teris. He seemed to have a bit of confusion.

"I don't quite understand what the relationship is between you and this creature..." said the leader of the Autobots gesturing between them.

"Guana and there is no relationship." injected Starscream tartly.

"This Guana. Where have you been? Where did this person come from? We have just received a mayday from a ship with twenty nine more of them on board. They are in the process of landing." Rodimus said softly.

Starscream breathed a sigh of relief. News of the Blue Dragon landing quelled some unease he had with Cyclonus and the sweeps out and about.

"That ship is mine, and they were told to send that message should I not return. My plans were momentarily foiled and I was unable to return to them without jeopardising their safety."

Rodimus looked surprised at this statement. He'd never heard of a Decepticon giving a care about other living creatures and what made it even more difficult to believe was that Starscream had said it.

Starscream looked into the perplexed face of the Autobot leader. He seemed to read the question that lay behind the pale blue optics. "Over twenty years of fighting for survival in space and on a distant planet can change a person somewhat." He was glad Teris could not understand or speak his language as what he was about to say would alienate her almost immediately.

"I befriended these creatures mostly on lies. It is these lies that have built a strong relationship with their species. I had thought of exterminating on several occasions but something compels me not to. This disgusts me. Makes me feel weak, but I cannot bring myself around to harming them," he said with evident self disgust. Starscream launched into a telling of his time on the backwater planet.

The Autobot leader was not expecting this sort of confession at all. It appeared Starscream had become caught between two worlds. One where he was a murderous treacherous Decepticon who would kill just for the sake of killing and the other where he was a caring almost compassionate individual who cared for what he worked so hard to sow and reap. "I am not sure I believe this."

The Decepticon sat scrutinising the bars in front of him. He was humiliated by what the Autobot must think of him. "I've tried to destroy the one who destroyed me. He was not home now I don't know what my next step will be. Perhaps I'll return to exile in Guandonnaland." He said with defeatism both in voice and body language

Rodimus was impressed with the tale yet remained cautious. This is Starscream; good with words he could spin lies as a spider spins webs. He was a ruthless killer in the ranks of the Decepticons. Deadly fast and unmerciful. His tail did not jive with his known personality. "Is there a way I can speak to the Guana and confirm what you have said?"

"I alone speak her language. She does not know ours." He sighed heavily. "Let her come to me and I can translate. The language is fairly simple."

Rodimus did not like this idea but he relented. It was the only way he could confirm the story the Decepticon had told. He opened the door lock and motioned for the Guana to enter. She gave him wide berth and came to Starscream. She looked at him and spoke in her language Starscream responded. She nodded.

"She asks if she can remain with me. She is frightened of you, which is strange, they fear very little." said Starscream with a tone of amusement.

"Why would she fear me?"

Starscream inquired, laughed and translated. "You are an "evil" Autobot."

"Will she answer my questions?" said Rodimus annoyed.

Starscream inquired. The Guana spoke rapidly looking between him and Rodimus. "It depends on the question. She also asks when she can go. I told her that her kind has arrived."

The interrogation went along quite smoothly. The Guana confirmed with the Autobot, Starscream's claim. They started with simple yes and no answers and then ended with more complex questions as Rodimus rapidly learned the newcomer's language.

"She is free to join her companions. You, however, are not." said Rodimus. "I will be sending someone to question you further later." The Autobot led the reptilian creature out of the cell and locked it behind him leaving Starscream to his thoughts.

He looked out the bars at the empty chamber ahead of him. The cell was electrified with a null charge so if Starscream so much as brushed against it he would short out for a moment. He was distressed. He knew he did not belong in either world anymore Decepticon and certainly not Autobot. Was it possible to go neutral again? He wondered. Would he even want to?

* * *

"I mustn't leave N'kosi," Said Teris after she was gently shoved from the room. She shot a look over her shoulder.

"We have to ask him more questions, and these must be asked in private." He said as he led her down the hall. There were lots of the creatures; they all looked different from one another. But they all wore the same red face on their bodies. One of them came running up the hall.

"Rodimus!" he yelled out.

The Autobot leader stopped, "What is it Overcast?"

"You should look on that ship, its incredible, the stuff, jewels, and the whole place looks like a flying temple. But that's not what concerns us... the energon that is on board that ship... there are whole rooms filled with energon cubes, and they are definite Decepticon formula."

"How much?"

"Several million left, it looks like just under half have been used for powering the ship. Here is a list of things that have been found on board, weapons, supplies and much more."

"I'll inform Upland, he's the one who will be questioning our guest."

"It looks like Starscream has been living it up; he must be doing mercenary work now."

Rodimus frowned. "We'll talk about this later. I have to show this woman to her shipmates." Starscream would have some serious explaining to do.

Chapter 8 - Teris Chapter 10 - The Conflict of Interests