PLEASE NOTE that this story has been heavily revised and reworked since the first version was posted. New material has been added, and a lot of the old stuff has been changed drastically.

First chapter has been left relatively untouched, but larger changes be a-coming soon.

Author's note: This is a story that I've had on my mind for quite a while but never got around to write until now. Slightly AU in that Jazz is a Decepticon, otherwise it's G1. Prowl/Jazz later on.

Warnings: Story contains slash.

Disclaimer: Transformers doesn't belong to me in any shape or way.

Jazz silently crouched behind the big rocks just outside the Ark, the Autobot head quarter. He kept telling himself that there really was no need for the adamant carefulness or the feeling of vague uneasiness that had settled into his processors – the Autobots were all out on some patrol mission or the other. That had at least been the main gist of the status report that Soundwave had briefed Megatron on, before Jazz had been sent out on his mission.

And the instructions had been uncomplicated enough: While the Autobots are away, get inside their base, plant the tiny Soundwave-made bugging device in the Ark main room, and get out. Couldn't get much simpler now, could it? At least, that was what he tried telling himself. And as a Decepticon spy and saboteur he had been involved in much riskier missions than this, hadn't he? Not to mention the more imminent danger of all the battles he had faced during his long years as Megatron's soldier.

Still, he didn't quite consider himself the typical warrior type like so many of the other 'Cons. Of course there was no way to avoid fighting if you were a Decepticon; it was expected that you were a competent warrior who could handle yourself in battle. Megatron certainly had no patience or tolerance for cowardly weaklings. But as much as Megatron prized fighting ability, Jazz still preferred going on the sort of covert spying or reconnaissance operations that he often would get specially selected for.

The rush one would get from sneaking into Autobot territory, right into the enemy's lair, was something much more appealing than running around trying as best as one could to avoid getting a laser beam right in one's chassis, while at the same time shooting at anything that moved that didn't happen to be wearing the Decepticon insignia. That was something he could do without. Not that he would ever tell anyone, of course, that would probably have him branded as a coward, or, even worse, a traitor, but he couldn't help feeling secretly pleased whenever he was picked for one of these more secretive missions.

This time though, things didn't feel quite as they usually did. He couldn't put his finger on what it was that made him feel this almost eerie unease, but there was a sort of nagging, uncomfortable feeling that persistently refused to go away. Like someone was actually watching him from afar, tracking his every movement.

Well, perhaps it was in fact nothing more than the natural uncomfortableness that automatically came with being on enemy territory, even if he had mostly learned to suppress that feeling by now, whenever it appeared. Not to mention, he did happen to be right outside of Autobot headquarters, and in a moment he would, if all went well, be inside them. He had snuck in there twice in the past on other missions he had been on, so while this wasn't the first time, it certainly wasn't something he would do on a daily basis either.

Nevertheless, he told himself, there was no reason to feel nervous – after all, Soundwave's reports were as good as one hundred percent reliable, and they had shown the Autobots to be out of the base on some mission or another. Granted, there would still be someone left to guard the base – the Autobots weren't that stupid – but keeping his presence unknown to that one mech shouldn't be a problem.

And even if he somehow did get discovered, evading the Autobot guard and making a quick subsequent escape would be easy. He was good at those kinds of things. Not to mention, most likely that small, inexperienced Autobot Bumblebee had been assigned to guard duty. He was too weak to be much, if any, of a threat.

There was simply no need to worry, he told himself yet again, he would carry out his mission and be back at Decepticon headquarters long before the Autobots would have any reason to suspect an intrusion into their base.

Jazz shifted to a more comfortable position while keeping his optics firmly locked on the half-buried spacecraft in front of him. It looked no different from the last time he had paid it a visit; there were no apparent security devices that had been added since then that were detectable from here. Of course, that didn't necessarily mean that there weren't any, but if so he'd take care of those once he got close enough. His training in detecting and disabling such mechanisms was quite extensive, as were his detection avoidance skills. He still sometimes pondered if the Autobots had ever found out that someone had been inside that last time he had paid the Ark a visit, but he'd like to think that they hadn't.

And if all went according to plan, they would not find out this time either. The bugging device he had been given to implant would go unnoticed, and would continuously be feeding Megatron useful information about what the Autobots were up to. That was the plan. And he was determined not to fail.

Now, he just needed to find a way to get inside without getting noticed. He scanned the craft and its metal exterior yet again from his crouching position. As impenetrable as the structure might look at first glance, he knew there would somewhere be a way for him to get in. He just wished that that strange feeling telling him that something wasn't just quite right would go away.

Well, whatever the reason for its presence, the feeling would probably disappear once he got inside and had other things to mind. So if he just...

Suddenly, without warning, a foot placed itself firmly on Jazz's back and pushed down, roughly shoving his face into the dirt on the ground. Before he had any time to react, he felt the unmistakable presence of the end of a laser rifle pressing into the back of his skull. He froze.

Autobots! How was it possible they had detected him, they were supposed to be out on patrol, how could Soundwave have been mistaken, he never was, this wasn't supposed to happen...

The thoughts were racing around in his processor like overcharged drones as he fought the panic that was welling up inside him as his position became clear to him after the initial shock faded. He had been captured by the Autobots! His worst nightmare coming to life, the one thing he had always feared more than anything else during his missions. And there was no one here to help him; he was utterly and totally alone.

"Don't move, Decepticon," a stern voice commanded. Quite unnecessarily so; Jazz wouldn't have dared to move an inch in his current position. He wondered with rising fear who the Autobot standing above him was; the only Autobot voice he could easily recognize was that of Optimus Prime – what Decepticon wouldn't know that terrifying voice from a mile away – but this one clearly belonged to another mech.

Laser rifle still pressed firmly to Jazz's head, the Autobot that was holding the other end of the weapon pulled out an intercom and flipped it on.

"This is Prowl speaking. I need your help over here, please. Believe it or not, I've encountered a Decepticon sneaking around right outside of our base. From what I can tell, he's alone."

Prowl. So that was the Autobot who had taken him down. Jazz tried to sift through the information he had on this 'Bot, to see if there was anything that might be even slightly useful in his current predicament. As a spy and saboteur, he was more knowledgeable about the who-was-who among the Autobots than most of his fellow Decepticons, who just knew the basics – who was a tough fighter and what weaknesses did they have, and so on. Not that most 'Cons really needed to know much more than that. After all, anything wearing that glaringly red Autobot insignia was an enemy to be shot at; and for many Decepticons that was about as far as they were concerned.

For Jazz, it was different though. Due to his function, he had been given somewhat more background information on the various 'Bots, including their characters and relations to the other Autobots. And Prowl was one of the mechs that he knew more about than he did about most other 'Bots.

Second in command only to Prime, he was an officer who strictly adhered to protocol, something that apparently would annoy even his fellow Autobots at times. Certainly not a mech who would let emotions take precedence over logic and rules. Cold and efficient. Somebody who probably wouldn't think twice about blowing the circuits out of a downed enemy mech, should he deem it to be the most appropriate action. Maybe even...

The transmission crackled a bit, interrupting Jazz from his racing thoughts, and a gruff voice on the other end replied,

"Wha', are you serious, Prowl? A Decepticon here?" the voice growled, sounding surprised and yet disturbingly pleased at the same time. "Ya need my help in takin' him down for ya?"

"No, don't worry, Ironhide, I've got him covered. He's not going anywhere."

"Hmm, if ya say so. I'll be there in a klik."

Jazz, still lying prone and motionless on the ground, stiffened. Ironhide was well known among the Decepticons for his strong dislike – well, his hate – for the opposing faction. Whereas most Autobots were generally seen as wimpy weaklings who desperately clung to their useless Autobot code because they were too coward to follow the way of the Decepticons, the way of the strong, Ironhide was one of the few Autobots that actually commanded some grudging fear and respect even among the Decepticon ranks. They had seen him mercilessly ripping into his enemy in battle too many times not to hold him in some sort of esteem, even if he was a loathed Autobot. Jazz had himself seen Ironhide in action several times and he was glad that he had never had to fight against him face to face.

And he doubted that the mech would act much differently even if his enemy happened to be a defenseless captive. If it had been Ironhide instead of Prowl pointing that rifle at him, Jazz doubted that he would have been much more than a smoldering scrap heap by now.

Whether he would fare much better at Prowl's hands he wasn't sure. Granted, if the Second in Command had wanted to kill him right here, he probably would have done so already. Or perhaps he was just saving Jazz for Ironhide to dispose of, who knew. Judging by the sound of that other 'Bot's voice on the intercom, he would be only too delighted to get a chance to do to Jazz what he would usually do to the Decepticons he encountered on the battlefield.

Jazz suppressed a shiver, and hoped that the tiny motion wouldn't cause Prowl to fire his laser rifle straight through his captive's head. Nothing happened though; the foot and the rifle still pressed him as firmly into the ground as ever.

"Well, well, Prowl, I'll be damned," a voice right behind him suddenly mused. It sounded if possible even more pleased than it had done on the intercom. "So ya really did catch yourself one of those creeps, heh, first I almost thought that ya had mistakenly gotten a'hold of one of our own who surprised ya by coming back earlier than expected. But no, that's definitely a 'Con if I've ever seen one. Looks like that sneaky little saboteur of theirs, eh? Well, ya certainly made a good catch there, Prowl!"

"Yes. Although I must say I'm surprised at the gall of these mechs, sending one of their soldiers right into our territory like this. They really are too cocky for their own good."

"Indeed. Indeed they are," the red mech snorted disdainfully. "And as if it's not enough with us havin' to run into these creeps away from base, now they're runnin' around right outside it as well. Filthy slag heaps, the lot o' them."

A foot prodded Jazz's midsection ungently, as if it was examining a disgusting and repulsive garbage heap.

"Alright, Ironhide," Prowl commanded. "We're taking him into base."

The red 'Bot only gave an affirmative grunt. Jazz guessed that he would have preferred to finish things right on the spot to save themselves the trouble of taking him prisoner.

The foot that had been resting on Jazz's back suddenly lifted and was swiftly replaced by a knee pressing down just as forcefully, if not harder. A hand roughly grabbed his left wrist and painfully twisted it behind his back. A short moment later he heard the clang of metal on metal, and the cold steel of a pair of handcuffs snapped around his wrist, much tighter than he would have liked. Then his right arm was equally painfully twisted around and his other wrist cuffed as well.

Jazz fought the panic that slowly had been making its way up from deep inside of him, from where he had desperately tried to press it back down since the moment when he had found himself pushed flat onto the ground. Now there definitely was no way of escaping. Not that he had had much of a chance before either, but with the handcuffs trapping his arms behind his back and painfully chafing his wrists, the position he was in somehow became so much clearer to him, like he had been slapped in the face. He was a prisoner, a helpless prisoner, and he had no idea what the Autobots were planning on doing to him...

Well, actually, he did have a few ideas, but none that he liked to think about at all.

"Get up, 'Con," came Prowl's brisk order, and Jazz was yanked to his feet, none too gently.

"So Prowl," Ironhide sneered as Jazz was marched towards the base, "I figure this one in particular should be able to tell us quite a bit about what those 'Cons are up to, don't ya think?"

"Considering his function among the Decepticons, he is most certainly in possession of information that would be useful," Prowl answered rather stiffly.

"Yep, he probably just needs a little bit of persuasion, and I'm sure he'll be happy to tell us," Ironhide grinned.

Jazz didn't like the direction their conversation was taking. He was certain he was going to be interrogated – and most likely tortured – but he most definitely didn't want to be reminded of it. It was clear that the sort of "persuasion" Ironhide was talking about wasn't of the friendlier kind.

He made an effort to push those thoughts away. Worrying about what was coming wasn't going to help him, and whatever was coming would be bad enough without him living things through in his processor first.

Prowl didn't reply to Ironhide's comment. Probably busy thinking up how he's gonna pry the information he wants out of me in the easiest way, Jazz thought bitterly. He wondered how long he would be able to hold out. If he could just remain strong long enough, Megatron and the others would eventually realize that something had gone wrong and that Jazz wasn't coming back. They would know that there was a possibility that he had been captured and was at the very moment spilling strategic information to the enemy. And since Megatron knew what information Jazz was in possession of, he would be able to take measures to lessen the consequences of it falling into the eager hands of the Autobots.

Jazz tried to console himself with those thoughts, tried to tell himself that even if he did eventually talk, it might not have such horrible implications for the Decepticon cause after all. If only he could hold out long enough, things would be fine.

Not that the Decepticon cause actually seemed like a terribly important thing in his current situation. Perhaps it was more of a reflex that he had even thought of it at all – simply because it was something that had been hammered into his and his fellow Decepticons' minds through Megatron's rousing speeches about their cause and its profound importance. But right now, that cause could do nothing to help him.

They reached the Ark and Prowl led him inside. It felt strange walking into the base as a prisoner. During his previous visits, the whole thing had felt almost like a game, albeit a serious game, with him alone in some sort of huge playground where he was free to explore the place while outwitting whatever intrusion detectors the Autobots had installed. Even if the base looked the same as then, it struck Jazz as so much more menacing now; even if the spaceship was huge, it felt as if the walls were physically closing in on him, further accentuating the fact that he was a prisoner. The quiet hum of Teletraan-1 that he had barely noticed before, now sounded nothing short of ominous.

Prowl led him on, Ironhide following on their backs, gun drawn. They were heading towards an inner part of the ship, one Jazz had never visited before. His imagination was flaring up yet again with mental pictures of whatever tortures they had in store for him. He involuntarily flinched and tried to disengage himself from Prowl, which only earned him a sharp push in the back – courtesy of Ironhide's gun – making him stumble forward ungracefully. He probably would have fallen flat on his face if it hadn't been for Prowl holding his arm in a vice-like grip.

"Don't ya try anything, Decepti-scum, or next time it won't be the end of my gun that I'm using!"

Even though a whole string of retaliatory insults were burning in his vocalizer, Jazz knew better than to put voice to them. He doubted it had been an empty threat, and he was almost surprised that Ironhide hadn't blasted him where he stood instead of just giving him a shove with the gun.

They walked on, and after a while Prowl stopped. Jazz already knew where they were, the icy dread in the pit of his stomach growing as he scanned the area. The holding cell section. On his right side was a long row of cells, all of them empty, of course. The Autobots hadn't managed to take any Decepticons prisoner since their arrival on Earth. Not until now, that was.

Prowl pulled out an access card and held it up towards a sensor in the wall, which bleeped dully. The bars to one of the cells retracted with a clang.

"Get in."

Jazz obeyed, wondering as he gingerly stepped inside if he would ever see anything outside of this cell ever again. Perhaps they wouldn't even bother torturing him, perhaps they would just leave him here to slowly waste away, all alone. Perhaps they would deny him even the smallest energon rations, sending him into stasis lock, and then remove and destroy his personality component and throw out his dead chassis somewhere for his comrades to find. Perhaps they would...

He was taken a bit aback as he felt the handcuffs coming off him with a distinctive click. Prowl had unlocked them, and had now taken to scanning Jazz for any hidden equipment.

Of course, the bugging device he was carrying was quickly found, as were the other items he had on him that were designed to disable various security devices. Not that Jazz had been expecting that they wouldn't be found, but seeing them all removed effectively crushed whatever tiny little spark of hope he had still foolishly entertained of escaping. Now any escape would be next to impossible.

Confident that the captive had been rendered non-threatening, Prowl exited the cell and had the metal bars cover the entrance again. The clang as they closed seemed to Jazz's audio receptors to resound at least ten times louder than when they had opened. The two Autobots then left him without a word, although Ironhide gave him a final sneer as he glanced over his shoulder at the captive on the way out. Then they were gone, and Jazz, all strength suddenly leaving him, collapsed onto the floor, arms hugging his legs and forehead resting on his knees, the very picture of desperate hopelessness.