LAST FAREWELL

Ironhide transformed and sped down the ancient Cybertronian overpass to the shuttle hangar, thrilled to be doing something.

"Those Decepticreeps won't know whether they're comin' or goin' when we get back with that Energon," he drawled to himself as he readied the shuttle for launch and waited for the rest of the crew to join him.

Jazz listened as Prowl, Brawn and Ratchet checked in; they'd be there in a couple of astroticks.

"The sooner the better," Ironhide grumbled through the three-way commlink.

Jazz chuckled. "Easy man, here they come now," he pointed out as Brawn and Ratchet coasted up the eastern passageway, and Prowl stepped out of the tactical centre service lift.

"Yeah, don't get your transistors in a twist," Ratchet griped as he transformed.

"Heh, lucky them; I wouldn't mind a quick trip to Earth myself," Cliffjumper grumbled as they watched Ratchet and Brawn head for the shuttle.

"We'll see it soon enough, buddy," Jazz assured him.

Cliffjumper snorted and turned back to his console.

Jazz grinned and bent over his own panel, giving the shuttle readings a quick check.

He glanced down and noticed the tactitian hesitate before stepping aboard.

"Jazz to Prowl; everything ok, buddy?"

The Datsun turned and faced the control tower.

"Jazz, could you come down here for a minute?" he asked calmly, but Jazz had known Prowl long enough to register the strained tone in his vocalizer.

Prowl watched the Porsche clatter down the plexmetal stairs, leaping the last few and landing neatly in front of him with a metallic clunk.

Agile as ever, the tactitian thought to himself.

Jazz flashed him his trademark dazzler of a smile. "What's up, man?" he said cheerfully, studying his friend's usual calm countenance; there was something unreadable in the azure optics.

"I...just wanted to give you something," Prowl said quietly, reaching into a subspace pocket.

He handed the saboteur a small gold-coloured medallion attached to a red, white and blue cord.

Jazz looked closely; it had the Oregon State Police emblem on the front, and on the back was engraved "FOR BRAVERY. AWARDED TO AUTOBOT PROWL WITH APPRECIATION. OREGON HIGHWAY PATROL."

Jazz stared at it for a second; he clearly remembered the circumstances of Prowl being awarded the medal...he'd saved the lives of three human police officers and nearly lost his own.

The Datsun wasn't a slave to pride, but he kept the medal with him as a reassurance that they were making a difference, hard as it may have been for him to believe at times.

Jazz looked from the gold disk to the tactitian, for once at a loss for words.

"Prowl...why? I mean, I'll see you when you get back; it shouldn't take long to get the Energon from Autobot City, and get back here..."

Jazz trailed off, a strange feeling coming over him as he looked into his friend's calm optics.

Prowl gave him a small smile. "I just want you to hang onto it for me...buddy,"

He gave Jazz a parting handshake, clasping the black hand with both his own for just a second, then headed to the shuttle before Ironhide started foaming at the mouth.

"Hey, Prowl!"

The tactitian turned, one foot already on board.

Jazz tried to muster one of his bright grins.

"Don't forget you owe me a game of chess, buddy!"

Blue optics locked with blue visor for a moment, and Prowl gave him an uncharacteristic thumbs-up.

Jazz watched the black and white door-panels disappear into the small space craft, then hurried back to his post.

He paused outside the entance and carefully tucked the medal into an empty subspace pocket.

He went silently to his station, ignoring Cliffjumper and Optimus Prime's questioning glances.

"Jazz, report security status," Prime said.

"All systems go," the Porsche said.

"Cliffjumper, start the countdown," Prime ordered.

Jazz watched the shuttle lift into space, trying to shake the odd feeling.

He pulled the medal out and turned it over in his hand.

FOR BRAVERY....

Jazz touched the cool metal and watched the shuttle merge with the stars.

'Til all are one...buddy.