Well I'm really glad how much everyone seemed to enjoy my last chapter, and my saving Sauria instead of having her die like Dinobot. That is still one of the hardest scenes I've ever had to sit through when watching Beast Wars.

So now it's time to-*interrupted by a crash* Oh not again.

Ripfang: I'm bored! *Is throwing large heavy objects around* I wanna do something fun!

Leaf Ranger: You literally have the Ranger Lair, stocked with movies and video games and training equipment and a giant krogan to 'play' with. How are you bored?!

Ripfang: Cuz you don't let me kill anything.

LR: …tell you what. You behave yourself for this chapter and I'll get you a new playmate…one that you can kill to your heart's content, since he'll keep coming back.

Ripfang: Really?!

LR: Really. Now behave! *turns away as Ripfang runs off squealing*

Elroth: Sasuke?

LR: Sasuke. Now to the single anonymous review here. To Machala, I'm glad you were happy about Sauria living.

Vixtrion: Anything else?

LR: …nope, that's it. Guess we can get on with the chapter now!

Disclaimer: I do not own Beast Wars. It is the property of Hasbro and Mainframe Entertainment. This is a non-profit work of fan made fiction. Please support the official release.

Chapter 35
Moving Forward

Onboard the Axalon, life had returned to a certain degree of normalcy in the six megacycles since Megatron's attack on the proto-human valley. The underlying tension everyone had felt around Sauria had vanished after seeing her almost give up her functionality in defense of the proto-humans and the current timeline. Of course while the Maximals would like nothing more than to celebrate this astounding victory, there simply was no time to do so. They had to continue preparing their defenses in case Megatron attacked their base, as well as now patrol the location of humanity's ancestors incase the Predacons attempted to make another attack against them.

On the bridge of the Maximal base, Silverbolt was currently monitoring the upgrades Rhinox had developed for the sensor grid, ensuring that the new programming codes downloaded smoothly. The Fuzor mech honestly would have preferred more distracting work, as simply staring at the screen left him time to think. And that led to his thoughts coming back to the Predacon femme he had recently been interacting with.

He honestly did not know what to think of Blackarachnia. On the one servo, she was a Predacon. She had made it abundantly clear that she was working towards her own goals. And Silverbolt knew that whatever those end plans were they likely would not be good for the Maximals in general. Yet on the other servo...she did seem different as well. Even though she had admitted that having the Maximals around benefitted her and she wasn't giving information or help just for their sake, the fact was she had aided them with regards to Nightwing's rescue, as well offering a few other tidbits here and there. And during their trek through the jungle she had moments where she had acted…very un-Predacon like. Not many, but still. It was enough to leave him confused.

Just as confusing was the feelings he was having as well. She was the enemy, and aiding her was betraying the Maximals. He knew this and it ate away at him a bit, especially given how they gave him a chance after his temporary stint with the Predacons. Yet at the same time…he thought that maybe there was a chance he could convince her to change sides. Join the Maximals; perhaps even eventually get her programming fixed to make her one again. The fact that she also was attractive and had shown…similar interest in him was something else that muddied this for him as well.

Letting out a confused and frustrated vent, he tried to banish such thoughts from his processors and focus on the task at hand. That is until one of the bridge elevator's rose up, revealing Airazor who was murmuring as she stretched her wings. "Welcome back," Silverbolt said, causing the femme transmetal to look at him and nod.

"Good to be back," she said, moving over to him. "I finished my patrol all along the south-east quadrant. No signs of any Predacons in that direction," she reported, with Silverbolt nodding in acknowledgement.

"Very well then. Rhinox's upgrades to the sensors are almost finished. Once that is done, run a level five diagnostic. I'll start my patrol," he said, getting up to allow Airazor to take his spot.

"How are things here? Has anyone caught Rattrap and Sauria 'together'?" The femme asked with a grin, causing Silverbolt to let out a small chuckle. Ever since Sauria's sacrifice and Rattrap's almost suicidal effort to keep her running, the other Maximals had jokingly placed bets on how long until the two were caught in a compromising, possibly intimate moment.

"Not yet I'm afraid. Either they haven't progressed that far…or are very good at hiding it," Silverbolt joked back, before turning and activating the intercom. "Silverbolt to Optimus. Airazor has reported back and I'm beginning my patrol," he reported.

"Understood. Patrol the south-west quadrant and return in four decacycles. I'll be your replacement while Cheetor is out with Vixtrion," Optimus replied. Silverbolt gave his acknowledgement and shut down the intercom before using the elevator to leave the bridge. A quick transformation and he was soon off, winging his way through the air in his beast form.

At the same time, many klicks away, Blackarachnia was quickly skittering away from the Predacon base. The femme arachnid couldn't help but feel quite relieved at getting away from the Darksyde, especially in the aftermath of the attack on the proto-human valley.

The few Predacons capable of moving had been forced to retreat with their badly damaged allies, but thankfully the Maximals had been far too busy cleaning up from the attack to pursue their slow retreat. In the end, every Predacon had recovered from the attack. Only to find themselves constantly being berated and even assaulted over their failure. Megatron had been in a towering rage over the fact that somehow, Sauria had defeated most of them on her own and even destroyed the Golden disc. That rage had grown worse when news reached them that Sauria was somehow still online and functional, a report that had been delivered to them by a very, very nervous Waspinator.

Blackarachnia shuddered, a chill running through her form even in the warm sunlight dancing over her. Waspinator must have been blessed with Starscream's immortality considering there was no way he should have survived what Megatron did to him after delivering that news. The sight of his mangled frame being ripped to pieces and tossed about by the berserk Megatron had been utterly horrifying.

Needless to say, patrols and other missions away from the base were a blessing so long as Megatron's rage continued. Hence her feelings of relief, though they were also mixed with a sense of giddiness and anticipation. Her plan was coming together now.

Thanks to her agreement with Silverbolt, she was getting the parts she needed that she couldn't steal from the Predacons, due to either security around them being too tight or them just not being available at all. Once she had the necessary components she just needed to wait for the right moment to be able to slip away and reach her goal. And once she did, she'd have what Megatron pretended to have. What every Predacon strove for: power. Course she needed to hurry, as Megatron's latest failure was more than likely going to push him to also resort to his final back up plan. If that happened, Blackarachnia's own plan would likely end in failure.

Still, if Silverbolt continued to come through for her then everything would work out well in the end. She grinned as she thought about the Maximal. He really was quite easy to read. Their journey through the jungle, his talk with her after their first meeting; she could already see the signs that he likely would be working to convince her to join the Maximals. It was quite predictable, really. He had easily proven himself to be the noble heroic type, who would take any moment of so called 'nobility' she might display as an indication she was someone he could possibly 'save'. And as such, he'd feel obligated to do so. Especially if he also thought he was in love with her and that she could or would reciprocate those feelings.

She scoffed at the idea. Oh sure he was handsome, a very well put together mech in her opinion. She definitely thought he'd make a fun dalliance if she felt so inclined. But the idea that she could feel more than that for him was laughable. Not that she'd ever let him know that. She'd play along; keep him on the hook until she finally had what she needed. Perhaps if he proved useful enough and didn't annoy her, she'd keep him around once she ruled over all of Cybertron.

She just cackled to herself as she skittered along, heading off on her 'patrol' while dreaming about the future she believed was ahead of.

Grid Quadrant Selvrix

Cheetor grunted in effort as he and Vixtrion, both currently in beast forms, pulled a sizeable hover-cart behind them laden with a mixture of Energon crystals and mineral ores the two had been mining. As part of the efforts to reinforce the base in the face of expected Predacon attacks, some of the Maximals had been given missions to excavate both raw materials and Energon that would be used with the onboard fabricators to create new ammunition, automated defense turrets, and anything else the Maximals needed. The fabricators could utilize the raw materials and craft them into whatever was needed, while the Energon would be stored away in case of a siege situation.

The young transmetal cheetah mech grimaced as, even with the anti-gravity field generated by the cart it was still a bit hard to move it, especially with both his and Vixtrion's relatively lighter frames and the fact that neither were particularly strong. Still, they were make relatively good time back to the Axalon, which thankfully wasn't too far away.

Still, it seemed like there was time to take a small break. Cheetor let the bar of the cart fall from his jaw. "Let's take a few cycles to recharge," he said, leading to Vixtrion eagerly dropping the bar as well.

"Now you're speaking my code," she said, transforming and leaning on a rock while fanning her faceplate with one servo. "A dainty lady like me isn't built for this heavy work."

Cheetor transformed as well, grinning a bit. "And here I recall you being pretty happy to be out and about, after being stuck in the base crawling through ducts to check on the wiring," he shot back, making Vixtrion grimace. Being one of the few Maximals small enough to do so, she often had the duty of moving through the smaller maintenance ducts and crawlspaces to perform repairs or upgrades to the electronics and wiring within those areas. It was not exactly fun work, given how even for her small frame it could feel slightly cramped in spaces.

"It is definitely not fun," she murmured, shaking her helm. "I guess a little heavy lifting isn't too bad if it means getting into the wide open spaces."

Cheetor nodded in agreement, venting a bit as he leaned onto the rock next to her. "Still, if it means everything's all set in the base until rescue comes, it's worth it. Right?" He asked with a grin.

Vixtrion glanced at him from the corner of her optics, suddenly looking a bit more serious, before speaking. "…so what have you got waiting for you on Cybertron?" She asked him curiously.

"Well there are my folks, for one," Cheetor said, looking up at the sky. "My maternal unit must be worried sick. She wasn't too happy about me going off on a long term exploration mission, but my paternal unit helped me wear her down. I was really excited to go out and see new things and have adventures…but I wasn't expecting this," he said, waving one servo at their surroundings. "I just hope they haven't given up on us yet."

"I'm sure they haven't," Vixtrion said with a smile, nudging his shoulder. "Though I'm sure your maternal unit will have you taking up some boring desk job when we get back."

"Uuurrgghhh, I'm not ready for that," the cheetah mech whined, looking down at the ground with a comedic depressed stare. "I've still got a whole bunch of stellar cycles before I want to take a boring old desk job."

The vixen femme just giggled at his antics before venting as she leaned back, looking up at the sky. "…I wish I could have someone waiting for me back home," she said with a sad smile.

Cheetor looked up at her, a look of confusion on his faceplate. "What do you mean?" He asked her.

Vixtrion continued to look up at the sky with a sad smile on her face. "…I haven't seen my parental units for some time," she finally said, her voice very quiet. "I'm sure they're still online and functioning, but I ran away from home several stellar cycles ago. Given how things were when I left…I don't know if they honestly would be too worried about me."

Cheetor's optics widened at that. "What? But why? Of course they would be worried about you!" He said as he stood up in shock. He couldn't understand the idea of parental units not caring about their offspring. He'd heard of it, but actually running into it was something he didn't think was possible.

She turned to look at him, her optics drooping a bit in sadness. "I wasn't what they wanted me to be. They had their plans for me. I ended up not wanting to go along with them. Eventually...well I left," she admitted quietly, turning away as she felt the clench of her Spark at those memories. The suddenly warm day seemed less so now as she looked down at her pedes. "The worst part is...they never seemed to try and find me either. No contact attempts…nothing to indicate they were looking for me…I wonder if they just let me go and moved on without a care..."

"I…I'm sorry Vixtrion," Cheetor finally managed to say after several nano-cycles. He sat next to her, awkwardly fidgeting before slowly placing a servo on her shoulder in support of her. She looked up as she felt the soft weight, looking at his faceplate and seeing the awkward, confused look he had. He was trying to support her, but wasn't sure what to do.

Yet it was enough as she felt a measure of comfort warm her up, as well as another clenching of her Spark, though this one felt different from the last one. She smiled slightly as she leaned against him, causing him to yelp and his systems to heat up a bit suddenly. "Sorry…didn't mean to make this all sad and morose," she murmured.

"I-It's fine," Cheetor said, looking up at the sky in embarrassment, wondering how this conversation could cause so many strange confusing feelings in his systems.

Eventually, Vixtrion realized what was happening and her own systems heated up as well as she shot up, not looking at him. "W-We should totally get going! Got to get this stuff back to base, right?!" She said, shooting up, her tail rigid behind her.

"Y-Yeah, I was thinking the same thing! Lots of work to do," Cheetor said, sheepishly chuckling as they both refused to look at each other, grabbing the pushing bar and beginning to tug the trolley back to the base. All while refusing to look at each other.

Back onboard the Axalon, currently the sound of sharp vents and occasionally metal hitting metal could be heard inside the cargo bay. That was because currently Sauria was following through on Rattrap's request for help with his hand to hand.

The rat mech barely leaned back out of the way of a right hook that would have knocked his helm off; only to let out a yelp as he hurriedly brought his arms up, crossing them to block a follow up kick from Sauria that actually sent him skidding back on his pedes. He winced as he felt a brief shark pain in his arms, and a quick look revealed a shallow cut on one of them from the claws on her pedes. "Easy dere, razor toes. I wanted trainin', not a trip ta da CR chamber," he said as he looked up at the tall femme.

Sauria remained light on her pedes, not wanting to lose her rhythm. "It is a minor scratch at best, rodent. You'll hardly die from something like that. More the pity," she snarked back at him, even as she grinned.

Rattrap just let out a vent as he got back into his stance, doing his best to remember the instructions she had given him on it. Sauria nodded in approval as she moved to re-engage him.

When she had started training him, she was thankful to find that she would not have to start from scratch. He already had a solid base from his time serving with the Maximal security forces. But it was obvious he had never really focused on it, leaving him at an 'adequate' level at best in terms of hand to hand fighting. She was working with him on that.

As they began exchanging blows once more, she nodded in approval as she saw him ducking and weaving around her strikes. "Good. Keep using your size and speed to your advantage. You'll never truly be able to overpower your enemies, and most opponents will have an advantage in reach over you. Your speed and agility are your greatest advantages."

He grimaced as he was forced to actually block a hit, feeling the heavy hammer blow of her clenched servo as it impacted against his arm. It actually deadened the tactile sensors for a few moments. "I thought yeh said my greatest advantage was bein' a wild card," he said, suddenly chucking a wrench he had palm during his dodging at her.

She easily caught it and tossed it over her shoulder without breaking her stride, already moving into another punch. "It can be if your opponent isn't wise to your antics. You'll need more than that to make it through a longer fight. Otherwise-," she started to say, only to be surprised when he suddenly rolled past her, swinging out suddenly with a swift kick that caught her off guard. She hit the ground, momentarily dazed and finding him quickly there with one servo raised, ready to deliver another blow

"Gotcha," he said with a grin, venting lightly. Sauria was venting as well as she lay there, only to smirk as her optics lit up and a very low powered blast from her lasers hit him in the chestplate, knocking him back but doing little damage.

Rattrap yelped as he hit the deck-plating, only to find Sauria now above him, pressing one knee onto his chest. "Do not assume you've defeated an opponent until they are defeated," she chided him, though there was a faint smile still present on her faceplate.

"Dat was cheatin'! Yeh didn't say we could use guns n' stuff!" He complained as he squirmed under her.

She just smirked at him, leaning over a bit as she very slightly applied more pressure onto him. "I never said we couldn't either, cheese breath. You simply assumed so," she taunted, causing him to pause in realization. He grinned sheepishly before glancing at her knee joint pinning him down and then smirked up at Sauria.

"Yeh know…I do like a femme dat likes ta take charge," he said, causing her to pause before pulling away quickly, the blue protomatter of her faceplate taking a slight purple tint.

"T-That wasn't…I was merely…" she started to sputter, only for Rattrap to chuckle as he got back up while dusting himself off.

"I was teasin' Sauria. I knew yeh weren't doin' anyding like dat," he reassured her. "Though if yeh were inta dat sort of ding…"

She felt embarrassed warmth spread through her systems as they heated up at his comment, leading to her sputtering as she shoved him away. "Perverted rodent," she muttered as she took a few steps back. "Take a few cycles while I try to delete such nauseating thoughts from my memory."

He chuckled as he picked up a bottle of coolant, watching her do the same. Yet as he began to cool down a bit, he couldn't help but find his thoughts straying to somewhat confusing territory: his feelings regarding Sauria.

The rat mech found himself not exactly sure what he felt regarding her. Their relationship had been a long convoluted one from the moment they had met. He hadn't trusted her, and she had looked at him with nothing but loathing. And yet as time went on, they started to warm up to each other. That moment in the cave when she told him about her father had changed things, and the antagonistic nature of their relationship became one of friendly rivals rather than actual malice and disdain. They got on each other's nerves because it was enjoyable trading barbs. But what's more was the y knew more about each other than any of the other Maximals did about either of them. They started trusting each other more, even as they kept up their insult war. And in the process…Rattrap found himself growing fond of her. He found himself spending more time around her if for no other reason than to enjoy another session of them egging each other on.

When she had started to act distant and lost in thought after the 'Big Burn', it had left him worried. He of course now knew why, as she had been lost in her thoughts and turmoil over what the Golden disc represented, but at the time he had been concerned since it was seemingly out of character for her. And when she had betrayed them…it had hurt deeply. He had always tried to keep others at some type of comfortable distance after Starfall's betrayal, to prevent himself from being hurt that badly. And even when he let his guard down around Sauria, letting her get closer, he hadn't thought he could ever experience pain as bad as what happened with his ex-girlfriend.

Yet Sauria's betrayal had cut just as deeply, if not more so. The sudden betrayal of someone he had let that close to him after Starfall's betrayal hurt worse because he had finally opened back up to someone. But what had been worse was her constantly being around, a reminder of the pain. With Starfall he had been able to bury and ignore it. With Sauria he had to be reminded daily.

And then they had swapped frames. They had been forced to be around each other even more, and eventually had to cooperate to save the Axalon. And he realized how hard she was trying to make up for her failure. But it was only when he had experienced her memories and the emotions associated with them, and actually talked to her, did he truly understand how she felt. He truly understood why she had done what she had done.

Perhaps that's when he started having these thoughts about her, where a part of him was unconsciously viewing her as more than just a comrade or a friend. But it wouldn't be until she was laid out in front of him, her Spark ebbing away, that he realized he had no desire to ever see her go offline. He couldn't let it happen, not after everything she had been through, not after all she had done, not after he was beginning to realize how much she meant to him. He knew that he'd be willing to fight alongside any member of the team, and do his best to see them get back to base in one piece. But Sauria was the first one he had ever knowingly and purposefully put his functionality on the line to save.

He knew he cared about her a great deal. Especially when she had kissed him, despite how chaste and awkward it had been. He just didn't know how much he cared about her.

Little did he know that Sauria's train of thought was very similar at the moment. It had been one of the constant subjects in her CPU since that moment when she learned he had nearly deleted himself to save her, to bring her back from the brink.

When she had first met the rodent, she had loathed him. He was a whining coward who took every moment to insult her. She believed him to be a pathetic excuse for a mech who would run and hide from trouble at every opportunity. The very nature of how he fought and acted was something she could not truly comprehend. And yet despite their incredibly rocky relationship…he was always there for her. From the moment in the cave where he stood by her, he was there. He still insulted her, but now it seemed more like a battle of wits then malice. And even if he wouldn't fight on the frontline with her, she knew he'd be behind her, keeping her safe. She came to trust him. She even came to admire his obvious skill with both pistol and explosives. He obviously knew his craft very well. And there was likely none better at infiltration, given the number of times he had snuck into the Predacon's base.

He also was there to support her through emotional times, though she would never have admitted that out loud and would never have asked for support. She had thought that as a proud, honorable warrior, she could not reveal suck weakness to anyone. Yet not only had Rattrap managed to get some personal information out of her, he actually helped her as well.

She had come to rely on him. To a point where she actually occasionally sought out his company, if only to engage in another battle of barbs and insults. She found herself, as she'd grudgingly admitted to herself and no other, actually enjoying his company.

And then she had betrayed him. Betrayed them all. It had hurt seeing all the Maximals look at her with mistrust or disappointment, but Rattrap's coldness and seeming loathing for her had been the worst. She had thought she understood, as he had made his disdain and mistrust for Predacon's known from the start. But it wasn't until she learned about Starfall that she had truly understood. He had fallen in love with a Predacon who betrayed him in the worst way possible. And the moment he began to trust another Predacon, herself, she had done the same thing to him.

She would have happily accepted him keeping his distance from her after that, as she realized just how much pain she had inflicted on him. Yet instead, he hadn't just turned around and supported her, but their friendship started to return. In fact, it was stronger than before, if that was possible. And despite her own constant self-recrimination and guilt, Sauria had also recognized that as she spent more time with Rattrap, she had begun to have…deeper feelings for him.

It was not love, she knew that. But she did know that her feelings were greater than just friendship. Feelings that only grew stronger as he had stood by her afterwards, up to the battle in the valley.

She had fully expected to die, and she had accepted it. It would be her final act to help the Maximals, to protect them, and hopefully prove to them her loyalty. Yet instead she found herself waking up in the CR chamber, and finding a heavily drained Rattrap laid out in one of the engineering bays, his systems damaged in his efforts to save her.

She still did not believe she was in love with Rattrap…but she knew he was special to her. In a way that could possibly lead to love down the line.

Yet for now, she was resolved to focus on her duties. They needed to end this war, to stop Megatron once and for all. She finished off her coolant before standing back up again. "Are you ready?" She asked, retaking her stance.

The rat mech grinned as he stood back up. "Jeez, I know yeh like getting' tah beat meh up, but don't be too eager 'bout it," he said, getting back into his stance.

"I wouldn't dream of it, rodent. I'm simply savoring having such a…mobile punching bag. It makes the training more…intense," she said with a smirk before lunging at him as they started anew.


Megatron scowled angrily as he stared at the screen in front of him. The tyrannical Predacon leader currently had retreated to his quarters for the day, both to fume once again over the latest loss for the Predacons as well as try to cover every contingency regarding the last of his plans.

While Megatron had been furious over defeats in the past since arriving on this dirtball, he had never felt so enraged or humiliated as he did now. Victory had been so close. He had finally proven that time could be altered, that the past, present, and future could all be changed. He had been on the cusp of victory by wiping out the pathetic organic species that had robbed their Decepticon ancestors of their right to rule Cybertron, and thus ensure a Decepticon victory in the Great War, and thus Predacon rule over all transformer-kind. And yet he and his troops had been stopped cold…by a single femme. His own treacherous former lieutenant, who had now completely thrown in her lot with the Maximals.

She, with the aid of that pestilent scurrying vermin, had decimated his followers and smashed the Golden disc to pieces. Megatron had gathered what shards he could, but he had been unable to retrieve them all. As such, the disc was utterly useless to him now beyond a few fragmented images and messages that could be retrieved.

The defeat at the valley was bad enough, but the loss of the disc was what had pushed him to the point of almost scrapping half of his subordinates in a fit of pure rage. The disc had contained far more than just a record of the future; it had also held data on it that was absolutely necessary for his last, final plan. Data that had been lost when Sauria destroyed his personal data servers, most likely unknowingly aided later by Blackarachnia. Data that could not be recovered from the shards of the disc.

There was only one glimmer of light in this dark mess Megatron found himself in, and it was the simple fact that there was one last source for the data he needed: Blackarachnia. The arachnid femme had been alone in the Predacon base while they had fought the Maximals shortly after becoming transmetals, and it had been her who confirmed the destruction of Megatron's private data servers. Megatron did not, for one nano-cycle, believe she hadn't somehow downloaded the data from what was left of the servers and then destroyed the rest to keep it out of his hands. And now with the disc gone, that meant she alone held what he needed.

He could, of course, simply secure her and forcibly extract the data he wanted from her. But more than likely she'd try one last desperate act of defiance and delete the data to prevent him from accessing it. And so instead he would simply wait and watch. If she acted as he expected her to, if everyone and everything acted the way he expected them to, then his one last gamble would pay off. It was a desperate plan, cobbled together after so many failures had riddled it with holes. But he had faith that many of the pieces that would influence the plan would act exactly as he predicted they would.

Still, Megatron hated having to rely on hope and luck. He'd much rather rely on certainty, and failing that, then rigging the odds in his favor. So for now he would hold off on the Maximals while he continually assessed his plan and did his best to cover for every possibility.

Axalon CR Chamber

"You cannot do this! I swear I will be free and reclaim this frame from you!"

Nightwing did not respond as she stared at the mirror copy of herself opposite of her, the one currently ranting and raving at her from behind the bars that separated them. Of course the bars were not actually there. None of what was around her was actually there. It was all within her processors, as she currently was offline within the CR chamber as Rhinox began his scans. At the moment, she was seated in the engineering sections of the Axalon, though the large room was divided by the bars currently keeping the Predacon programming locked away from herself. On the other side of the bars was the command deck of the Darksyde, in which the Predacon copy prowled angrily.

Nightwing had awoken within this strange representation of her own internal processes shortly after her systems had shut down. She had been a bit perplexed to find herself within the Maximal base, but even more so when half the room had suddenly morphed and changed into the Predacon base, with the inert form of her Predacon self laid out in the middle of it. The sight of this dark, twisted copy of herself that had been assaulting and terrorizing her comrades for close to two stellar cycles left her with a feeling of anger, guilt, and disgust. She could feel her systems running erratically as she thought about what this…thing had done while using her frame. Deep down, she felt sick and twisted inside, as if there was something wrong with her just thinking about what had happened to her.

And then of course her Predacon side came online. Slowly they had sat up, a look of confusion evident on her faceplate. Confusion that morphed into shock, then anger when their optics landed on her. Her Predacon side had leapt to her pedes, immediately arming and firing her arm cannons only for the shots she fired to simply dissipate when they reached the bars.

From there, things went somewhat predictably. The Predacon half began demanding to be set free, demanding Nightwing fight her, demanding to know what was going on. When Nightwing refused to answer her Predacon half began prowling across her side of this 'mindscape', searching for some way to get at Nightwing, some way to free herself from this cage she found herself in. Yet nothing availed her. And so once again, she had resorted to yelling at the Maximal Nightwing.

At this moment Nightwing just watched her Predacon half prowling back and forth, almost like some type of trapped predator just waiting for a moment to strike. She tuned out her darker half's demands and threats, simply watching her instead. And slowly, it seemed to dawn on the Predacon Nightwing that much like searching for a way out had done her no good, so too seemingly were these threats she was making against the original Nightwing.

She soon fell to silence, simply glaring at Nightwing who returned the glare with an emotionless stare. There was so much she wanted to do, so much she wanted to say. She wanted to hurt her darker self, to make her feel the pain, the suffering, the guilt, the emotional turmoil that she herself was feeling right now.

Even now Nightwing could feel her own dark emotions boiling beneath the surface. A simmering, ill-feeling heat running through her systems, making her feel uneasy. A lingering, painful ache in her Spark, one that she felt couldn't go away unless she inflicted pain onto this dark corrupted version of herself.

When the Predacon Nightwing finally slumped to the ground, seemingly realizing there wasn't anything she could do, the real Nightwing finally spoke. "It's horrible, isn't it? Feeling trapped? Helpless? Unable to do anything as your frame, your body, is going to be used against your allies? The fear of not being able to do anything, as someone else takes over and controls you?"

The Predacon programming glared at her as Nightwing slowly rose from her seated position, approaching the bars. "A never ending fear and terror gripping at your systems, making your Spark clench and pulse rapidly. That's what you're starting to feel, isn't it?" She asked as she reached the bars. "Take a moment to understand every single sensation going through you right now…this is what I've been feeling ever since I woke up to find myself trapped in my frame, with you in charge."

The Predacon version of her surged to her pedes, reaching out to try and grab Nightwing through the bars, only to be thrown back with an agonizing scream of pain as electrical bolts leapt from the bars and struck her. She lay on the ground, twitching and venting heavily, optics fluctuating the entire time.

Nightwing felt a small, sick surge of pleasure at that, a feeling she both welcomed and felt revolted by at the same time. "Everything I experienced…you're going to experience now as well. This is my frame. I finally have control of it again. And when Rhinox finally finds a way, he's not just going to delete you…he's going to rip that filthy piece of tech that you exist in out of my frame. And I'll enjoy every moment of ensuring that not a single trace of you ever exists."

She turned away, only to be stopped by a weak voice from behind her. "…then you'll… be no better…then me…"

Nightwing turned to see the Predacon version of her slowly sitting up, venting heavily. "Delete me…and it'll be no different…then what they were going…to do to you," she said, regaining her strength, her purple optics catching Nightwing's. The two stared at each other as the Predacon version continued to speak. "You pretend to be the victim…yet you're no better than me…your comrades are no different than the Predacons. Just like they were going to delete you, and end your existence…so too will your Maximal friends delete me…so what does that make you…hypocrite?"

Nightwing snarled as she slammed her clenched servos against the bars. "SHUT UP! YOU STOLE MY LIFE, MY FRAME, TO EXIST! I'M JUST TAKING BACK WHAT IS MINE!"

"By taking away what I consider to be mine," her darker side said, slowly standing up. "This chassis is just as much mine as it is yours. It is the one I was born in. Why is your existence more important than mine? What gives you the right to exist and not me?"

"Because it's my frame! I came online! I was created by loving paternal units! You're nothing but the creation of programming that hijacked my chassis!" Nightwing yelled, feeling the stress on her vocal unit from how hard she screamed at this darker version of herself, feeling her emotions boiling over.

"Yet I still exist! I am my own person, which you're trying to destroy! Accept it, Maximal! You're no better than me! Deep down, you're just as corrupt and dark as you claim me to be!" The Predacon Nightwing said as her optics took on something of a mad glint.

Nightwing let out an inarticulate shriek as she tried to punch through the bars at her, to try and physically get at her. A red mist had descended in her processor and all she wanted to do was tear that dark copy of herself apart, to make the words stop, to inflict as much pain as possible.

Yet she could not. While the bars did not attack her like they did the Predacon Nightwing, they did not budge either, leaving Nightwing unable to do anything but fruitlessly struggle and scream as the Predacon Nightwing just sat down. And for the first time, her darker side began to laugh. It was something of a deranged, sadistic laugh, one that had no mirth in it. It was the sound of a broken, dark figure, simply enjoying what might be one of their final acts of vengeance. That laugh continued to echo even as the 'world' melted away, leaving Nightwing in darkness.

And just as suddenly she found herself staring at the door of the CR chamber. The interior was dimly lit, preventing her from seeing the scanning and repair tools within. But she could hear them moving as they retracted back to their holding positions, and the door opened with a hiss, allowing her to stumble out.

She found herself being caught in a pair of strong servos, and it took her a moment or two to realize she was being supported by Rhinox who was looking down at her with concern. "Nightwing, are you okay?" He asked worriedly.

She looked up at him, her purple optics meeting his red ones. And in that moment she broke down, slumping against him as she began to cry, gripping onto his chestplate and arms tightly as she did. She kept sobbing, even as she felt his arms wrap around her, gently pressing her closer in. She kept sobbing even as she heard him making soft noises to try and soothe her. All she could do was cry, as all her emotions overwhelmed her and she broke down there in his arms.

It took some time but finally her cries lessened and then stopped, though she remained in his arms, refusing to look up. Rhinox didn't say anything until finally she pulled away. "…it...she spoke to me," Nightwing finally whispered, refusing to look at her friend. "She threatened and ranted at me...and when she finally gave up, I taunted her. I felt so...vindictive. I wanted her to suffer like I have ever since I 'woke up'. And she..."

She finally looked to Rhinox, the large engineer mech finding her optics filled with pain and uncertainty. "...will I be just like her? Wanting to see her erased, removed from existence? Am I any better than the Predacons?" She finally whispered out.

Rhinox just gripped her shoulders so she couldn't look away. "Nightwing...I'll admit that in all honesty...I have no real sympathy for the Predacon programming within you," he finally said. "It stole you, my closest friend, from me. It used you like a puppet to carry out Megatron's orders. In all honesty, it suffering the fate that it and its allies were going to visit on you would be justice in my opinion. And yet I know that isn't necessarily right. But in all honesty...what else can we do? At the end of the megacycle…we have to remove that Predacon shell program, or you both will die. As far as I know, there is no way to save her without handing you over to the Predacons. And that would mean you'd be deleted instead of her. So in the end…what else can we do?"

Nightwing shuddered softly. "…I can't stop hearing her question. Why do I deserve to live, and not her. I can't stop hearing it over and over in my processor. And I don't know if I have a good enough answer," she whispered, her voice low and soft.

"Because your life didn't come into existence at the expense of another's," Rhinox stated firmly, drawing Nightwing's attention back to him. "That Predacon version of you only exists at your expense. In order for it to survive, you would have to die. Your functionality wasn't at the expense of another's sacrifice. No one else had to cease to be, to surrender themselves and their existence, for you. That Predacon version of you only came into existence because it stole your body, your life, from you. And if it were the one to be spared…what then? It would serve the Predacons, helping to enslave or destroy countless Cybertronians. Your functionality, your existence, your life…should not be sacrificed or given up just so another can exist. Not unless you choose so yourself. That, I believe, is why you deserve to live and not it. Because it stole everything from you, and now demands that your existence ends so it can continue to live."

Nightwing sat there, before leaning against him. "…thanks," she murmured softly. "…thank you, Rhinox."

He gently wrapped an arm around her. "We'll get though this Nightwing. I'll find a way to remove that shell programming. And then we'll get back to Cybertron."

"And hopefully get blitzed enough to forget all this," Nightwing murmured quietly.

Rhinox chuckled softly. "Drinks will be on me," he told her.

She just nodded, dimming her optics as she leaned against him. She still felt the emotions roiling inside her; the anger, the guilt, the sick twisted feelings. But they felt somewhat lesser now, and were mixed with comforting warmth. A soothing feeling that took the edge off, that seemed to seep into her from the mech next to her. She kept leaning against him, wanting to feel more.

Rhinox felt her frame go limp as the emotional turmoil, the release of all those conflicting emotions, wore down on her systems and sent her into sleep mode. Very gently he picked her up, turning to carry her to her quarters. The Predacon programming had been put back into stasis, but the corruption had spread a bit more during the scans. He had the data he needed, so he knew that most likely she'd have to go into stasis soon, to preserve her until he could remove the Predacon shell core for good, and remove the transwarp energy corrupting it.

As he carried her towards her quarters, he couldn't help but look down at her. He was glad that he could be there for her right now, as it helped him deal with his own feelings of guilt. Guilt he felt at her suffering so much because he hadn't gotten to her in time, that he hadn't been able to stop the Predacons from taking her, and that he hadn't been able to rescue her for so long. The worst part was the guilt he felt that even now he still couldn't help her. A part of him felt like he should have all the answers, that he should be able to just instantly be able to save her. Even if he knew that wasn't how things truly worked. But he knew he wouldn't give up. He'd find a way to save her. He wouldn't fail her again.

After entering the code to her quarters, he gently laid her out on her recharging berth, gently positioning her so she was comfortable. He stepped away, pausing as he took in the peaceful look on her faceplate. He wasn't lying when he said he had no sympathy for the Predacon programming within her. But at the same time, after seeing how emotionally distraught Nightwing had been, it made him reconsider those feelings. Letting out a soft vent, he leaned over. "We'll figure this out Nightwing…I promise," he whispered to his friend, gently squeezing her shoulder joint, before leaving her to sleep.

And I think that's a relatively good point to stop. Considering how long it took me to get this chapter out...

Sorry for the wait everyone. Just...things have gotten crazy. Half the time I'm running around trying to keep things together inside the house to make things easier on my dad. The other half of the time I'm sitting here, trying to work up the energy and will to do things, and finding it so hard to try. Course it also doesn't help that this chapter was an original one I came up with pretty much on the spot. So had no real frame or plan for it.

Nightwing: Will you stop with the angst with me already? Jeez, why hasn't this been marked drama/angst/hurt/comfort?

LR: Because there's a lot more action and stuff then all of that…I think. Right guys? *Looks at everyone else in the Ranger Lair*

Lycanok: Uuuhhhh…

Vixtrion: Weeeellll…

Ripfang: Get over it and get to more action already!

LR: …not what I was hoping for...well anyways, hope you all enjoyed the chapter then, and see you next time. Oh, and Ripfang…since you were a good boy…here's your new friend.

Sasuke: *Yelps as he get's booted into the room* What the hell is...oh no…

Ripfang: OH YEAH! *grins as he pulls out his chain axe, revving it and charging after Sasuke, who runs off screaming like a girl*

LR: Aaahhh…bliss.

Thanks for reading, hope you all enjoy, and till next chapter.