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"Trauma"

She didn't know who she was.

Not true in the strictest sense, perhaps--she knew she wasn't amnesiac.  It would be more accurate to say that she didn't know who she wasn't.  She knew too much about her life--but how much of it was her life?  Everyone she'd ever met, every day she'd ever lived... she knew they must belong to someone else.  Either that, or she was going crazy.

With nothing but her thoughts to keep her company, she had tried to piece together as much as she could, but it seemed as though there were gaps in her mind.  She could recall in vivid detail everything that had happened to her the past few hours, but she wanted more.  She longed for instant access to every second she had ever experienced--a futile notion, she realized.  It was human nature to forget things over the passage of time.  She had no accurate way of knowing how long she'd been locked away--hours?  Days?  The incessant ache in her belly served as an unwelcome reminder that she desperately needed food.  She'd never been alone for so long before.

Running her slender fingers down her stomach in an attempt to silence the rumbling, she turned to her faint reflection in the orange, metallic door.  She inspected her facial features carefully--they seemed so familiar to her--it was her face.  Her bright blue eyes sparkled as she made faces at herself--puckering her lips; grinning insanely; squinting at the young woman in front of her.  She didn't recall being this occupied with her physical appearance before--why the change?  Was she always this determined to look beautiful for...

Every time her thoughts turned to her friends, she had to push them aside.  They don't exist, she reminded herself, they're not real.  Everything she knew about them was a fabrication--that had to be why the memories were fading so fast.  Was she deluded?  Was she losing her mind?  The conflict welled up inside her until tears streamed down her face.

Her real life was like a fading dream--she knew it had existed, but was unable to bring any of the specifics to mind.  When she had been brought into the city, they had found no I.D. on her; her fingerprints and retinal scans were absent from the EDC database.  They had assumed she was an immigrant, possibly a criminal... and admittedly, she was hardly in any position to refute that possibility.  Her clothing wasn't indicitave of any one profession--for all she knew she could be a businesswoman, a soldier, or a homemaker...  Why, she might even have children!  The conclusion the officers had drawn, however, was that she was... how did they phrase it?... a "bit touched."

She dreaded the time when her psychological evaluation would come.  If she couldn't come up with a feasible explanation for her behavior, they'd simply lock her back up again--possibly forever.  

She hated being alone.

Anything would have been better than being trapped in this room, unable to block the din of her own thoughts.  Her story didn't even make sense to her--it obviously wasn't true--so why should anyone else take her seriously?  She knew in her heart she was living a lie, but she was unable to convince her brain that the truths she so tightly clung to were nonexistent ones.  What would people say if she told them she was really a four-million-year-old robot warrior from another planet...?

"Arcee?"

It took a moment before she realized she was being spoken to.  She looked up with swollen eyes and found a man standing before her in green overalls.

"It's all right," he said with a familiar warmth to his voice.  "Drath and his men have been apprehended.  Perceptor found the equipment he used to steal our bodies--he's pretty sure he can put us back where we belong."

She looked into his eyes long and hard, searching for some link to her past.  His gaze was powerful, but there was a gentleness to it--like he already understood what was going on inside of her.  How could he possibly know what she'd been though?  All at once she wanted to cling to him and run from him--could he represent the life she was forcing herself to eradicate from her mind?  If only her friends were here... especially...

"Springer.." she gasped, almost in disbelief.  He was here!  How could she have forgotten who he was?

"It's okay to be a little shaken up," he said quietly.  "C'mon, Arcee."

Springer led her by the arm back to the outside of Autobot City.  One of the EDC guards who had taken her in shot her a look of mild disgust, but she was too weary to respond.

"Arcee..." she whispered, as though she were trying out the name.  

She was Arcee... But not quite Arcee.  Whatever entity she had become, she knew she would never be herself again... at least, not her old self.  She could never reclaim that--not after having experienced human emotions... pain... fears...  How could those things not change a person... or a robot?

She was the new Arcee, and that would have to be good enough.

***

Even back in her rightful body, Arcee knew the experience had affected her more profoundly than Springer and the others.  She had heard the Throttlebots snickering once or twice about her, dismissing her brooding as a "female thing."  Later, on Nebulos, she couldn't believe it when she had the opportunity to become human again--at least, part of the way.  After she had binary-bonded to Daniel Witwicky, she felt some of the same "pure" emotions she had only had a glimpse of before.  She felt complete again... and secure.  Danny's health was still an issue even years after his accident on Nebulos; sometimes Arcee wasn't sure if he'd last the night.  But she was determined to keep him safe for the rest of her days... and his.

***

The elderly Autobot touched a button on the datapad and set it down on her lap.  "That's all, children.  Time to recharge."

Five or six of the youngsters transformed and sped off into their recharging chambers, but one of them remained, wide-eyed.  "Is that a true story, Auntie?"

She knelt down to his level and smiled gently.  "Every word of it, sweetie.  Now get some rest."  She touched a panel on the wall, dimming the lights.  She hobbled out into the hall, clutching the railing for support.

The youth scrambled into his recharging pod and lowered the dome.  "One day," he whispered to himself, "I wanna do great stuff like my Great Aunt Arcee."  And Rattrap fell asleep.


Author's Notes:  Having recently re-watched "Only Human," I was struck by the treatment of Arcee-as-human by the EDC officers in Autobot City.  It's not without its element of humor ("there's a nice doctor who'll be stopping by a little later") but I felt sorry for poor Arcee.  I got to thinking about what might have happened to her had she never been restored to Autobot form, and this was the result.  (The bit at the end was an afterthought, but I liked it.)

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This Page Created 10/27/1999
Uploaded 10/24/2000