The Lost Light. It had been a chance to escape the old. To put aside his old life and make something new out of himself. After all, the war was over. Cybertron may as well have been gone - certainly the Cybertron he once knew was gone - and Earth was no place for a Cybertronian. Neither Autobot nor Decpticon was welcome there anymore.
Smokescreen slipped into his quarters and looked around. He was one of the few mechs who had a room to himself. He had originally roomed with Animus, but when the mech had been caught out in the halls during the sparkeater attack, no one had been willing to room with Smokescreen. Even here, away from almost anyone else who actually knew him he still wasn't trusted. Rumours had flown that he had been the one to lock Animus out, who had forced the Ethics Committee member to face the sparkeater. It didn't matter that that wasn't true. All that mattered was that the rest of the crew thought that it was. So now he had premeditated manslaughter to add to the list of his perceived crimes. Manslaughter, rape, torture, brainwashing, ethical violations ... the last one might have been true. But none of the others were. Not that it mattered.
So after that first day on the ship Smokescreen found himself pigeonholed again. Untrusted. Unwanted. And without anything resembling a job. Somehow he was always left off the ship's detail. He tried to find other things to keep himself occupied - he'd offered to tend bar for both Mirage and Swerve; neither had accepted. He offered his services to Rung, but the real psychologist had no need for a mech who's certifications were questionable at best. And it wasn't like the ship needed much in the way of diversionary tactics.
Smokescreen ended up spending his days in Swerve's bar getting drunk on sub-par high grade and trying to start up a card game with mechs who knew better. He would read and sometimes he'd write - spending days on end in his quarters without anyone ever noticing that he was never around. Even the few mechs who did know him from the old days - Trailbreaker, Ratchet, Bluestreak, Sunstreaker, Mirage - none of them noticed when he just stopped attending official functions, when he was no longer in his usual seat at Swerve's.
They had been on the Lost Light for over a year. They had lost mechs and gained them. They had had adventures that were completely unbelievable to anyone who hadn't been there to experience them. They had even seen the complete turnaround of Megatron, from Decepticon to Autobot. It was a truly wonderful and bright new future that they were entering. And it was more than clear that Smokescreen had no place in it.
Smokescreen finished packing up his few belongings and stowed them in his subspace with some of the extra rations he'd been squirreling away for the last several weeks. It was time to go. Certainly no one on the Lost Light would miss him when he was gone. And maybe this next step would be a real chance to leave his old life behind and start something new.
He reached the shuttle bay and slipped in unseen. He may as well have been using Mirage's disruptor for all the attention that he drew. All he needed was to borrow one of the lesser used shuttles. He already had plans in place to ensure the shuttle's safe return as soon as he arrived at a space station. Any space station or intergalactic capable planet would do. He just needed to find somewhere - anywhere - where he could start a new life. So long as he was away from the rest of the Cybertronians he might be able to finally find somewhere where he could ditch his past and actually belong.
"You mind telling me where you think you're going?"
Smokescreen spun and retracted his hand as he prepared to loose a volley of blinding smoke.
"Calm down, Smokescreen," Megatron said as he stopped his approach. "I've never known you to be this jumpy in the past."
Smokescreen glared at the former warlord. The brand new autobrand in the middle of his chest and the new position of "Co-Captain" of the Lost Light would do nothing to change his past. If Smokescreen couldn't escape his, Megatron shouldn't be able to either.
"I'm leaving," the Praxian replied tightly. "I'll make sure you get the shuttle back. But I need to leave and I need to leave now."
"Why?" Megatron replied, and his confusion did seem genuine.
"I'm neither wanted nor needed here," Smokescreen replied as he continued to back toward the chosen shuttle. "And Cybertron offers no better prospects. So I'm leaving. Striking out on my own."
Megatron simply nodded. "Okay. I won't stop you. Though I am curious as to what led you to this conclusion."
Smokescreen cocked his head to the side slightly. The question made no sense. It was so completely obvious that there was no need for a mech with no serviceable purpose on this ship. So what was the angle? He asked Megatron as much.
"I'm still not understanding," Megatron replied. "You have a purpose. You do things here, I'm sure."
"Really? Name one thing. When was the last time I was on the roster? When was the last time I used any of my skills? When was the last time I was even missed when I wasn't at an event? It's been over a year and I have been in my room alone almost that entire time. And believe me, I have tried. I have offered to help Swerve and Rung and Rodimus. I have approached everyone on this ship and have been brushed off at every single attempt."
"You never approached me," Megatron said gently. It was a tone that should never come out of the warlord's vocalizer.
"You're right. I didn't. Because I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. You went from being Megatron, leader of the Decepticons, the Unmaker himself to good little Autobot. We're just supposed to believe that you've seen the error of your ways? You are personally responsible for the deactivations of how many mechs and we're just supposed to accept that you've changed?"
"Isn't that what you Autobots do?"
Smokescreen made a rude noise. "Maybe you have to really commit all the atrocities to get the forgiveness. Because Primus knows if you're accused without any proof, you sure as slag won't get the same kind of acceptance that you're getting on this ship. Now let me leave or try to stop me. I don't care which. Not any more."
Megatron sighed softly and it genuinely sounded like he was saddened by the response. He raised his hand, palm up to Smokescreen and motioned him closer. "Let me offer you a third option. You come have a cube with me. We can speak and discuss your grievances. If we can find a new way of looking at them then you stay, but if you still feel the same after we've discussed matters then I'll personally give you a fully supplied shuttle. You can leave and won't have to return it. You can do whatever you like then."
"What's the catch?" Smokescreen asked, parsing every word that Megatron had said, trying to interpret the meaning behind every movement and inflection.
"No catch," Megatron replied. "I just don't want to see you run off before all the angles have been covered and discussed. that's all. I would give you my word, though I believe that wouldn't be worth much to you."
"You'd be right." Smokescreen replied. "But, I'll agree to speak with you. After all, we both know that you're more than capable of stopping me from taking that shuttle if I try to force the issue."
"You'd be right on that one," Megatron replied with a surprisingly genuine smile. "Please. We can go to Swerve’s bar. It should be quiet this time of day."
Megatron motioned to the door and together the former warlord and former con artist left the shuttle bay. Smokescreen wasn't sure where this would lead, but at least it was something. At least someone had actually taken notice. Even Megatron was better than no one.