Disclaimer: Transformers is the property of Hasbro.
A new Beginning
It was a gloomy orn. But despite the mass of clouds that covered the sky and their promise of a heavy rainfall, the courtyard before the Autobot Headquarters was packed with both soldiers and Autobot-leaning Neutrals. And why wouldn't they have come?
Finally, after so many vorns, one of the three most dangerous criminals of their times was going to be executed. During the last battle against Decepticons, Jazz, the ruthless and sparkless Third in Command of the Decepticon Army had been captured while he had fought Prowl.
The Autobot Head Tactician was still in critical condition in the medbay, under the watchful optic of Ratchet. It was assumed that he had been successfully fighting and driving back three Decepticon soldiers when the saboteur came behind him and struck hard with the intent to kill. That was the only logical explanation that Ironhide could come up with when he went to help Prowl and found him slumped at Jazz's pedes surrounded by unconscious enemy mechs. Enraged, he attacked and got the TIC with a lucky shot.
That had been five orns ago. Optimus Prime wanted to wait for his Second to regain consciousness so that he could witness this unpleasant, but necessary event. However, he couldn't postpone it any longer or some hot-headed mech with a grudge would kill Jazz himself for all the atrocities he committed.
And there were a lot of them. But what truly made every Autobot hate him with a passion was the destruction of the youngling sectors of every major city. After Jazz was done with them, there was nothing but fire and rubble with the occasional Neutral or Autobot frame. There weren't even any severed body parts of the younglings, all lost to the fires.
The Prime sighed, watching the crowd gathered in the courtyard. He didn't agree with the sentence – he thought that everyone deserved a second chance – but complied with the wishes of his senior officers. The Decepticon saboteur would be publically injected with a fast-acting poison. His death would be quick and painless, unlike that of his victims.
Movement below drew his attention. Jazz, still visibly drugged, was marched by half a dozen security mechs to the specially erected platform. The big mech ex-vented loudly and turned to exit the room.
It was time.
The medbay was quiet, the only sounds produced by the medical equipment connected to the figure laying on one of the berths. Everyone left to watch the execution, everyone, that is, but Ratchet. The Chief Medical Officer sat uncharacteristically pensive near the occupied berth, watching his patient.
Something wasn't adding up. At first, it seemed that Prowl wouldn't make it through the first orn post-operation. His spark casing has been cracked during the battle and his spark had fluctuated wildly all through the hasty operation. For Primus' sake, it had guttered out three times! But again and again, as if by some unseen force that willed it to happen, the weak sparkpulse persevered.
And the doorwinged mech lived, and got stronger by the orn. The rate at which he was healing had the CMO truly confused – it was simply not possible for a mech with such severe injury! His spark should be weak, in need of regular boosts of energy from an outside source to properly stabilize. But no, after the first scheduled medical treatment, any other would have overloaded his frame and caused internal damage.
After four orns Prowl was at a stage where he should have been awake and talking, yet he was unresponsive. His vitals were strong but resembling ones of a mech under the influence of drugs. It was simply inexplicable as Ratchet checked three times for any foreign substances in the SIC's energon lines – and found nothing.
Another problem was the Chief Tactical Officer's battle computer. Some Con had taken a shot at his head. Luckily it mostly missed his processors, apart from the battle computer. Ratchet had had to assemble a new unit for him and had given the old one to Wheeljack to see if any data could be salvaged from it.
The inventor had come back looking troubled only joors later. He had been able to recover the most recent battle plan – of the battle during which Prowl nearly died. Normally it wouldn't be anything strange but for the fact that it was from the Decepticon's point of view – as if the tactician had planned the attack, not the defense.
Yes, things really weren't adding up.
And then Prowl started to online.
Oh Primus, his head hurt. A lot. What happened?
"…owl? Prowl? Prowl, can you hear me?"
What was that noise? A voice, right, someone was taking. He sounded familiar. Why couldn't he concentrate?
"Prowl, you Pit-spawned slag pile, you'd better start answering me or I'll scramble your processors so hard that you'll neve-"
"Ratch'?" The abrupt end of the yelling confirmed his assumption about who was standing near his head. So he was in the medbay. Why? He still couldn't find his most recent memory files.
"Yes, it's me. You're in the medbay. You nearly died during the battle five orns ago. How are you feeling?"
Battle? What battle? He was just walking down… oh. The Decepticons planned to attack the residential area of Iacon. Many families with sparklings and younglings lived there. He had to hastily plan and execute the defense. They didn't have enough time. The Cons would be there within two joors, along with Megatron and J-
"What happened, Ratchet? How did I get here?" his thought processes were still too slow.
"You've been offline nearly half a decaorn, barely survived Jazz's attack, and you want to what? Analyze the battle?!"
Jazz attacked him? No. Something was wrong. In only he could remember!
"Please, Ratchet. It is very important. What happened to put me in the medbay?" He needed to now. Something wasn't right. Something was missing. His spark, it longed for-
"Hmp. You were fighting off several Cons when you were attacked from behind by Jazz. He nearly smashed your sparkcase. Thank Primus Ironhide found you in time, or you wouldn't be here right now. He also captured Jazz."
Jazz was in the Headquarters? Why was it so important? He knew that designation but… Oh Primus.
Primus, no, that couldn't be true.
The haze lifted from his memories. He tried not to visibly panic.
"So Jazz is in the brig right now?"
"No, the soldiers were out for his energon. Optimus had no choice but to schedule his execution. It should be taking place right now, actually."
NO! He needed to get up from this berth and stop this before it became too late. He couldn't be late. He couldn-
"Hey! What do you think you're doing?! Get back on that berth!"
"Help me get to the execution. I have to be there. Now! Ratchet, I do not have time to waste! Get me there NOW!"
He had to. Before it was too late.
He tried not to look at the faceplates of the mechs and femmes he was marched through. He could imagine only too well what they held – disgust, contempt, anger and glee. Disgust and contempt for him, for who he was, his actions and crimes. Anger at the chosen method by which he would be killed. Many thought that it was too good a way to die for the likes of him. And glee at finally having some measure of justice in this never-ending war.
He even had had a trial. The mechs on the panel, maybe with the exception of the Prime, were slightly biased but it was more than any Autobot would have got from the Decepticons. They would have just tortured him until he deactivated.
He hadn't tried to defend himself. It wouldn't have changed a thing. He knew he would be executed the moment he was captured.
The drugs they pumped into him on an ornly basis didn't help either.
He just regretted- No. This was no time for regrets and what-ifs. He would meet his end with his head held high. If only he knew what happened to him. He knew he was alive but nothing more.
They were getting up onto the platform now. His wrist and ankle joints were secured to the metal bar behind him, giving him no chance to escape. But he wouldn't have done that. He had resigned himself to his fate.
The Prime was walking slowly towards him. He could see the uncertainty in his blue optics and … compassion? What a strange mech. He was thought a monster by everyone but would have been shown mercy from the leader of the opposing faction if he could have ruled it so.
The giant red and blue mech was talking now. He didn't hear a word, too absorbed watching the medic that was walking towards him with a syringe in his servo.
So this is it.
He tilted his head back, revealing his neck cables.
And offlined his visor.
The shouted words echoed around the courtyard. Mechs turned around to see who dared to interrupt such an important moment.
The needle stopped millimeters from Jazz's main energon line.
In front of one of the entrances, supported by Ratchet, stood Prowl, the Second in Command of the Autobot Army and Head Tactician. He looked weak and slightly dazed but wore a determined expression. The CMO on the other hand looked livid and ready to throw his famous wrenches. Together they started a slow trek to the platform and onto it.
Prowl's next actions shocked all gathered, including Prime and the medic. No one expected him to take the syringe from the frozen medic, throw it away and stand before the sentenced Con, with his back to the saboteur, shielding him.
"I will not let you execute him."
His words caused angry mutters and shouts of protest to rise from the crowd. Optimus frowned at his Second, happy to see him on his pedes but unable to comprehend what he wanted to achieve by interrupting.
"Prowl, what are you doing?"
"I am stopping you from committing one of the biggest mistakes of your life. You cannot kill Jazz."
"Prime, you have to understand something. Ja-"
"Oh for Primus' sake, Prowl, you've got severely injured, got a bullet through your head and have your processors scrambled. You don't know what you're talking about. Now get outta my way." Ironhide snapped angrily at the CTO, picking up the syringe. He moved towards the bound mech but was once again stopped in his tracks.
This time the words weren't shouted. His voice didn't even rise. But the strength of conviction behind it made everyone listen and stare at the doorwinged figure.
"You will have to kill me first."
Silence. Complete and total silence. And then –
Many weren't even sure if they heard correctly. Who would dare to address the SIC in such a familiar manner? But then – again.
"Prowler. Don' do this, not now."
The quiet words were spoken by no other than Jazz. During the exchange of words he had again onlined his visor and was looking straight at the tactician. He seemed calm and a little… happy? content? It was hard to judge. He waited for the black and white to turn before speaking again.
"Thin' Prowler. What do you think you can do? They have already judged meh and passed mah sentence. They want mah energon. We knew it was probabl' it'd come to this. We prepared for this. Ah'm only thankful that you're okay. Ah wasn't certain befor'."
"Shut up." The snarled words carried to every audio of their very confused audience. What was going on? Why was this Con talking with such familiarity to their Commander?
"SHUT UP Jazz or I swear to Primus I'll make you!" He ex-vented loudly. "I was supposed to have time to talk to Optimus. To explain. To prove that my words were true. That you are not who they think you are. I certainly was not supposed to online in the medbay only to hear that the base was in the process of executing MY BONDMATE!"
No one moved. No one breathed. What they just heard was inconceivable. Bondmates? With a Decepticon? Their SIC?! It couldn't be true. They couldn't have been betrayed like this. Not by this mech – the rule-abiding, no nonsense, right hand of the Prime.
Even the Prime looked shocked, confused and hurt.
The mutters began anew, evolving into angry questions and shouts. The gathered soldiers took the betrayal and anger they felt and channeled them into furious energy as they started for the platform.
Then four words stopped everyone for the third time in only breems.
"That explains a lot."
This time it was Ratchet who made the crowds still. The red and white mech came closer to the black and white pair, optic ridges furrowed but no longer angry. He stared steadily at the mechs before him, noting Jazz' apparent calm and Prowls agitation, how close they stood together and just itched to touch the other.
"How long have you been bonded? Bet it's been a long time, for the bond to be able to sustain the injured spark under such extreme circumstances…" the CMO trailed off, gazing intently at Prowl. "So, how long?"
The unlikely pair just looked at each other like they were silently communicating – and of course they were, they were after all bonded!
Kliks later the CTO turned towards the medic and started to answer, when he was interrupted by the Prime's succinct command to explain what the frag was going on.
"From the medical point of view, your Second's spark should have joined the Well of Allsparks five orns before," Ratchet stated frankly. "Even all my skill and knowledge shouldn't have been enough to keep him here – for Primus' sake, he took a bullet to the head and his spark casing was damaged! Yet by some miracle he survived the operation and recovered too quickly. I assume that Jazz here, even under the influence of all the drugs we pumped into him, felt his bondmate's critical condition and kept him on this plane while I was operating. Correct?"
At the sharp glance sent his way, Jazz nodded his head. "Ah couldn' not do anythin'. When Ah felt him get injured on the battlefield, Ah ran to him and got the Cons responsibl' for it. In your brig, nearly all of mah energy was used to help Prowler."
"And that would be why his energy levels rose so quickly. I also suspect that the drugs influence was transferred along the bond and kept my patient unresponsive for such a long time. He onlined around the time your systems should have cleared."
Optimus looked from his medic to his tactician and the Decepticon. "So they are really bonded? Why did we not suspect anything? When they bonded, Prowl's spark reading would have changed, wouldn't it?" he asked, thoroughly confused.
"That's true," the red and white mech agreed. "The readings would have shown changes. So we come back to my first question: when did you bond?" The question this time was directed to the chained Polyhexian.
From the side, Ironhide snorted. "Don't be ridiculous Ratch'. You're implying that they what? – bonded before Prowl became an Autobot? That he would fight in our ranks while his bondmate" he spat the world with enough anger and venom to make some mechs around the stage cringe, "attacked and murdered innocent sparklings all over the planet?! If so, we should execute both of them, right here and no-"
"No! Jazzy didn't do it! Please don't do that!"
Jazz and Prowl's heads snapped up at the sound of the young voice coming from the direction of a transport vehicle. Suddenly a young mechling appeared before their optics. He was mostly grey with red touches and small doorwings flapping anxiously behind him.
All gathered mechs stared at the sight, hardly believing what they were seeing. It was a youngling! A Praxian one at that! Impossible! They were all murdered, even before Praxus fell, by the Con sentenced to be executed!
"Is that…" Ironhide trailed off, as he gazed at the small miracle running towards the stage.
"You have to stop this, Jazzy didn't do anything, he is the one that saved us, came for us and took us to safety! He warned the caretakers about nearly patrols and defended us! He plays with us every time he visits and always has a new story to tell and gives gifts or toys! Please don't kill him, please don't, ple-"
"Blue!" That one word from the fearsome Con silenced the youngling that at this point reached the stairs of the stage. "Blue, calm down, pleas'. What are you doin' here?"
The mechling finally made it onto the stage and threw himself at Jazz, tears streaking down his faceplates. "I'm sorry Jazz, I know I shouldn't have come, but Mirage came back to the hideout and talked to the caretakers. And he said that there was a big battle, and Prowl was injured, and you have been captured. I was walking down the corridor, I swear I wasn't trying to eavesdrop! But I heard his voice and I was curious, and then he said your name and that you will be executed. But they can't! Who will take care of us? You always protected us, you can't die!" He turned to look at Optimus and pleaded again "You can't kill him! You can't! I won't let you!"
The shocked Prime was brought back to reality by his Second's voice. "Bluestreak, that is enough. How did you get here?" the question was asked gently, but everyone could hear the worry in it.
"Um, that would be my fault," stated an invisible voice from behind them. Prowl turned just in time to see Mirage appear in the center of the stage, looking as sheepish as a Noble could. "He escaped me."
" 'Raj?" The amusement audible in the mechs voice made everyone turn to Jazz. The Con was lounging comfortably against the pillar, arms wrapped securely around the youngling clinging to him. "How did a 15 vorn old mechlin' get away from the hideout protected by some of the best Spec Ops mechs the Autobot army has to offer?" a smirk was tugging at his lipplates.
"Jazz, stop goading Mirage." Prowl snapped, still troubled by the situation, and ignored the "Yes, dear" he got in answer. "But I am curious – how did Bluestreak get here?"
Mirage, the Autobot's Chief of Special Operations, straightened at being addressed by his superior. "He escaped the building while I was relating the current situation to the other caretakers. We didn't realize that until he didn't come for his energon. I found him a few breems later wandering the streets. When I tried to take him back, he cried loud enough for the mechs around us to become suspicious of the noises with no source," he ignored Jazz' chuckle as easily as Prowl and continued. "My only option was to take him here. I am sorry, sir."
"Oh, you should by sorry, alrigh', Ah'm half of the mind to kick your aft all the way to Kaon! Blue's a younglin' and you took him to an execution?! You aftheaded –"
"Jazz, that is enough. You know very well how stubborn Bluestreak can be, and if you didn't want him sneaking around, you should not have taught him how to do it in the first place."
The shout, surprisingly, came not from Ironhide, but from Prime.
"Prowl, explain, from the beginning," ordered an irritated Optimus. His helm started to ache around the time Ratchet confirmed that the pair was bonded and now it was pounding fiercely.
The tactician straightened and faced his commander. "Jazz and I met and bonded 200 vorns before the war even started. At the beginning he was a singer that came to live in Praxus and I was the Chief Enforcer. We first met when he was attacked by an obsessed fan and severely injured. I caught his attacker and he invited me to dinner. We became close and finally bonded several vorns later. J-"
"Hey, don't forget to men'ion what a chore it was to get you to agree to that dinner with meh. You were so suspicious Ah had an ulterior motive and Ah only wante' to thank you, and of course stare a bit at that sweet aft of your-"
"Thank you Jazz, that is enough details," the SIC flicked his doorwings agitatedly at his mate. The mechs around them stared at the byplay between the two, surprised by the amount of emotion the stoic Chief Tactician was showing. "As I was saying, after Jazz witnessed the murder of a young femme, he decided to become an Enforcer. I agreed and trained him to the best of my ability. As he showed a real aptitude for undercover work, he was transferred to the Black Crime branch – the equivalent of Special Operations. We worked in Praxus as long as we could.
"Then the war became a certainty instead of a possibility. I run several thousand simulations on it, all of which ended in the defeat of Autobots if they didn't have a deeply embedded agent in the Decepticon ranks."
"Ah volunteered," Jazz joined his mate in the storytelling. "As Ah already had the needed ex'erience and abilities. Told Prowler Ah would spy for him. Of course we fought over it, but finally Ah wore him down. We joine' opposite factions and climbe' the ranks. Missed him like frag durin' that time, though."
That made Prowl take hold of the other's hand and squeeze. "The higher he got placed, the more useful information he brought me or made it possible for our agents to discover. When he became Third In Command of the Decepticons, Megatron tasked him with the complete eradication of youth centers across the planet, to hit the Autobots where it would hurt the most."
"Ah wanted to break cover righ' then but Prowler came up with this crazy impossibl' idea – we would feign the destruction of the centers and relocate all the younglin's and their caretakers to a hideout that only we knew about. We knew we would need som' help and that's how 'Raj and a few others from the Spec Ops got pulled in."
Optimus interrupted them when his anger and hurt could no longer be restrained. "Why didn't you tell me any of that earlier, Prowl? How could you keep it secret from me?" The hurt and pleading warred for dominance in his staticky voice.
"I had to protect Jazz. The fewer mechs knew about him, the safer he was. And I didn't know you well at first. You were my prime, Optimus, but you were young and naïve, too much under the Council's thumb to trust completely. I apologize, sir."
Those words hurt. But deep down, the wilder of the Matrix knew them to be true. At the beginning he was too susceptible to the Councilors thinly veiled orders. But he became wiser, learned the truth and became the true leader of the Autobots. He thought Prowl trusted him. "You don't trust me?"
"I trust you with my life and the life of my bonded. We decided to tell you everything after the last battle. I didn't predict I would get so severely injured or that you would capture Jazz."
The instantaneous answer eased the turmoil in Prime's spark a little. He glanced at the bondmates and the youngling still snuggled against Jazz, and for the first time saw them as completely devoted to the others and a very loving … family.
Then a brutal reality check came from the largely forgotten crowd. " What about all the mechs he murdered?" someone shouted.
"Mostly 'Cons, some 'Con leaning Neutrals and Autobot traitors," answered Jazz promptly, causing shouts of denial to rise in the air.
"I have documented each instance of a traitor in our ranks and their transgressions, as well as the penalty dealt," Prowl's voice rose over the unrest. "I will make it available for anyone who wishes to see the hard proof. Mirage will also be able to confirm those facts, as his subordinates were tasked with finding evidence against each one of the listed designations."
That quieted the gathered mechs enough for Bluestreak's hopeful questions to be heard. "Is it over now? Are you free, Jazzy? Will you come and play with me and Bee? Can Prowl join us?"
"Ah don't know, lil' Blue. We have to see what the Prime will decide."
Bluestreak turned around and looked up at Optimus with huge blue optics filled with hope and awe. "Please, Prime sir? Can you make Jazz free? He's really a good bot!" he exclaimed, followed quickly by snorts from Ratchet, Ironhide and not so surprisingly now, Prowl, but they held their silence, awaiting their Prime's verdict.
Optimus looked from one of his officers to the other, noting their wariness, resignation and a spark of humor in the medic's optics, then to the bondmates standing close together, tense but already accepting of his decision and finally at the youngling standing before him, scared for his caretaker but brave of spark and so, so hopeful.
And he made his decision.
"Prowl, I want all the pads pertaining to Jazz' role as undercover agent, the youngling hideout and the traitors in our ranks on my desk as soon as Ratchet allows you to gather them.
" For now, Jazz, you are still under arrest and are not allowed to leave the base, but you can go back to the brig or stay with Prowl – in Medbay or in his quarters. I assume young Bluestreak will stay with you?"
"Jazz gaped for a klik before he found his voice. "Yes, Prime, Blue will stay with meh and Ah'll stay with Prowler." Then he added softly, "Thank you."
"Don't thank me yet. If those materials do not satisfy me, you will be executed. But for now, I will give you the benefit of the doubt. Don't disappoint me."
"Ah… Ah won't. Ah swear on mah spark." Jazz looked close to tears at being given this chance and turned his helm into Prowl's chestplates while pulling him into a fierce hug. Bluestreak joined them, enthusiastically hugging their legs and loudly exclaiming that his Jazzy was free.
When Optimus took his optics from the happy family, he was met with the indulgent smirk on Ratchet's face and the resignation radiating from Ironide's entire posture. He was sure they had known what he would decide even before he did.
Well, they were his friends, after all. And looking at the black and white pair, he thought he would soon gain a new one and cement a previously shaky friendship.
Not such a gloomy orn, after all.