As Arcee began mentally preparing to face the wasteland alone, Blackjack’s words rang true:
It doesn’t matta what you’ve done. That wasn’t you. That was someone else. He touched his hand to a pink spot of her paint. This is you.
He was right—she had been someone else entirely, someone she could no longer recognize, and that was over with now. But the nagging feeling within her remained—if she were capable of betraying her dearest friends, what ELSE could she be capable of, in the future? Deep down, she knew nothing could completely conquer her Autobot heart—in fact, it was the very reason she was standing there now—but Arcee couldn’t help but have some self-doubt. The others were actually listening to Blackjack’s speech—they were actually willing, albeit somewhat begrudgingly, to give her another chance. She didn’t want to do anything that would make them regret it.
Then Rattrap spoke. She knew she would hear the term “traitor” for quite some time yet—she would surely have to hear it from every Autobot she faced—and yet, she knew that with each utterance of the word, it would sting equally as badly as it had the first time.
Trait ... Arcee. Your fate isn’t up to us. It’s up to those you wronged most, the Autobots you served with for years.
Cambreaker, she thought. He would be the real test, and she found herself truly fearful. Of all whom she had hurt, she knew Cambreaker had received it the worst—both physically and emotionally. Their friendship was only beginning to cement itself, and she had immediately broken and betrayed it. She began to remember their fight outside of Iacon … the sheer glee with which she had pointed her gun to his back and fired. Primus, she had enjoyed it. She shook her head, disgusted with herself.
Either way, it’s our duty to take you back to Iacon.
As they made their way into the vessel, Arcee turned to Blackjack and mouthed a quiet "Thank you." She was surprised to find they let her board the ship rather freely—she had half expected them to treat her like their prisoner, placing her in stasis cuffs and throwing her in the brig. She certainly wouldn’t have blamed them. Instead, she simply sat down, no restraints, as Redline scanned her for injury. Arcee said nothing and did not look at her as she did this … she had hardly met the fembot before everything soured, and she was saddened by the fact that Redline’s first impression of her would be that of a turncoat.
Then Dinobot broke Arcee’s thoughts. I, too, was given a chance to redeem myself … if the group can accept you, then I can, too. She hadn’t known of his defection, and it caught her off-guard. Perhaps this experience, these emotions she was feeling … would be something over which they could eventually bond?
Besides, Rattrap is right—you look slagged.
For the first time in a long, long while, Arcee let out a throaty laugh ... unbeknownst to her, however, was the storm she would soon face on the horizon.