They found the three of them in a small clearing, now made bigger by the remains of the crashed shuttle. Sunstreaker sat with his back to a tree, Sideswipe and Ratchet resting their heads on his thighs; their darkened optics stared sightlessly into the sky, never to brighten again. He couldn't join them yet - he still had a job to do. He was the strongest of them all - the scorch marks on his armour showed that. The corresponding marks on his brother's armour revealed fried circuitry, ripped wires and slashed energon cables. The medic's armour.. well, it too was blackened, at least it was where it hadn't vaporized altogether.
Sunstreaker looked up, his own optics dim, as the rescue party ran forward. He watched listlessly as they lifted his bondmates from the ground and carried them out of the woods, down to where Skyfire waited to bring them all home. He rose unsteadily to his feet, never more than a step behind, and not once did he take his optics off his dead brother and their mate.
The trip back to the Ark was silent, the other mechs not knowing what to say or do, so they settled for saying and doing nothing. After all, this was Sunstreaker, the mech who would be more likely to tear your arm from your body then to talk to you. It wasn't as if he would want to talk... right?
They took the bodies to the medbay - why, Sunstreaker didn't know, as you couldn't bring a spark back from the Matrix no matter how hard you tried, but he guessed that they would try anyways. He wanted to go with them, but found himself steered in another direction by a pair of black hands, pushing him down a hallway and through a door that he knew very well. He was pushed down into a chair and had a cube of energon thrust into his hands before his lagging processors told him he was in Prime's office.
Forcing his gaze upwards, Sunstreaker stared over the shoulder of the larger mech and concentrated on the blank wall. He noted a few scuff marks, probably made when Prime moved his chair back too far before standing up, and focussed on them, anything to help him ignore the sympathetic words that Prime was spouting. The pitying looks he was getting from Prowl, Jazz and Ironhide were just as bad, and Sunstreaker couldn't stand it anymore. He dropped his gaze to the cube of shimmering energon. He had to get out of here - he had a place to go and people to be with, after all.
Ignoring Prime and his little speech, he started reciting his report in a flat voice; how the three of them had gotten to their objective, retrieved the supplies and information they had needed, even picked up a bit of bonus info from an old friend of Ratchet's. He told the now-silent mechs where the data chips were hidden on the shuttle and who to contact for the shipment of supplies. When he came to the attack on the shuttle and the explosive charge that must have been hidden somewhere near the engines, he slowed, his words prompting flashes of the events to flicker across his vision.
Sideswipe trying to steer them away from danger; Ratchet trying to repair a sparking weapons control panel; himself trying to find any method of retaliating against their attackers. A shot from the enemy ship sending a surge of energy into their ships systems, shocking Ratchet, Sideswipe lunging for the smaller mech even as Sunstreaker leapt for the controls his brother abandoned, and then... a soundless explosion of light and fury, and then the pain. The pain that struck his very spark and tore it into tiny pieces, flinging them into the atmosphere to burn like the shredded engines of their shuttle.
Sunstreaker looked up when he realized that it was quiet in the room, and had been for some time. The other mechs stared at him, concern and sorrow plain to see on their faces, even Prime's for all he wore a facemask. He sighed and sat up in the chair, placing the cube of energon on Prime's desk, untouched. No need to waste it, after all.
"Is that everything you need to know?" Primus, but he was tired. He'd never felt this tired before, not even after a triple shift. He just wanted to close his eyes and drift off...
"Yes, Sunstreaker, thank you. This will save many a life both here and on Cybertron. If there is anything we can do for you, just ask. Anything." Prime's voice was soft and deep, soothing. Odd, Sunstreaker had never noticed just how soothing that voice could be. Like warm arms wrapped around you, promising safety...
"Can I go now?" His voice dropped to a whisper, optics dimming a little more. Oh how he just wanted to rest...
"Of course! Wheeljack and First Aid have the others down in medbay, you can-"
"Prime," Jazz broke in softly, stepping forward to place a hand on Sunstreaker's shoulder. "I don't think that's what he means."
Prime stopped and looked hard and long at the seated mech, and with a sad sigh, Optimus stepped around the desk and went to a knee in front of the bereft twin.
"You have served long and well, Sunstreaker. All three of you will be remembered for your valour and sacrifice. Rest well, warrior."
Sunstreaker smiled, a shockingly sweet smile that transformed his tired and scarred visage into a thing of true beauty.
It was done - his last task complete, his purpose fulfilled, his release now given. Sunstreaker smiled, sighed, and eagerly let go. He had a place to go, and people to be with, after all.