Disclaimer: I do not own Transformers in any way.

So much for posting sooner. .

I'm sorry everyone although I can't promise they will be as regular as I'd like I can promise that I will keep posting until this story is finished. Please be patient with me and I thank you all for reading the story so far.

Thank you very much for the reviews. 3

Chapter 5!

CONSTANT PATH

Decepticon Base

For the second time in the same day Prowl groaned quietly as he came back online, remembering the energy bars this time and allowing his optics to adjust before powering them up completely the cyberninja carefully sat up and instantly wished he hadn't. Sitting with his back against the cell wall Prowl surveyed the damage done and cringed at the sight of the mangled armour plates on his lower torso and the sides of his thighs. With his now freed hands he ran a careful hand down and round to his lower back he couldn't hold back a hiss when his fingers brushed over the jagged edges of more torn plating.

The last twelve hours had been nothing short of a nightmare for the ninjabot that had started with his earlier encounter with Megatron and the big dark blue mech with the visor who he had later discovered to be Soundwave the Decepticon communications officer. How ironic.


FLASHBACK

The way the Decepticon leader stared at him after having the mech's fusion cannon pointed at him had unnerved him greatly. The red optics had stared at him with curious intensity that had he been a wolf or similar Earth predator would have caused his hackles to rise and his teeth to be bared in a snarl. To the ninjabot's relief Megatron had only frowned at him before turning to leave, issuing orders to Soundwave as he stepped out of the cell. He spared one last curious glance for the Autobot who had yet to move from his tense position before turning on his heel and walking back down the hall.

After his leaders' retreat Soundwave stood silently in front of the cell staring impassively at the Autobot within and baring his escape. Prowl slowly rose from his crouched position to stand once more and stared at the large blue mech, calculating his chances. Even if he did get past the Decepticon he had no idea where he was or what exactly lay beyond the door to his prison not to mention how many more Decepticons he would face should he try to escape now. No. He needed more information. He was missing something he could feel it.

He realised what the larger mech was up to when the door at the end of the hall opened once again and two Decepticon jets, one blue, one purple and black, came into view.

'Internal comms.' Prowl surmised and took a defensive stance when the larger Decepticon stepped aside to allow the two jets to enter.

Prowl glared at the jets. If he didn't know better he would assume they were more of Starscream's clones but as he watched the two approach he had a feeling that wasn't true. Contemplating his options Prowl slowly lowered his guard and allowed the Decepticons to take hold of his arms. He may be fast but compared to the jets he knew he may as well be standing still.

'Skywarp. Thundercracker. Take the Autobot to the repair bay for analysis.' The dark blue mech ordered and Prowl was roughly dragged from his cell and down the hall.

'Yeah, yeah Soundwave. Don't get your circuits in a bunch, we're going!' the purple and black jet tossed over his shoulder as he and Thundercracker forced the Autobot prisoner through the door.

As he was herded into some sort of large control room before being dragged down another corridor Prowl took the opportunity to look around and try to memorize the layout of where he was being held. The base appeared to be quite large with a number of different sections all surrounding a main tower with some sort mechanism at the centre. As they passed by a window Prowl discovered something else that caused him to worry. The whole base was apparently under water and although the water itself didn't pose any danger it would certainly slow him down any escape attempt if he couldn't reach land quickly.

Finally he was pulled through another door into what he could only assume was the base's medical facility. A row of examination tables occupied the middle of the room and there were piles of equipment in every corner. At the far end of the room two mechs stood by one the exam tables, waiting patiently as he was dragged over to them.

'Ah, it's about time you showed up. Get lost did you?' sneered a red jet with a grey faceplate and Prowl instantly recognised the Decepticon second in command.

'Shove it Screamer! We got here as fast as we could, this fragger's heavier than he looks.' Spat the purple and black jet and Prowl found himself being shoved face down onto the table while his cuffs were removed before being roughly turned over forced up onto the table on his back. The other mech, a green and purple Decepticon came forward and began to fasten the Autobot to the table with a number of metal, cable woven straps before Prowl could protest. As the straps tightened against his frame Prowl knew he wouldn't be able to break them even if he were at full power.

As it was he hadn't been allowed to refuel since coming back online and even though he was already running on the bare minimum to try and conserve energy, warning messages were already starting to appear.

Once he was fully restrained the green and purple Decepticon stepped back and Starscream examined him with a critical optic, initiating a thorough scan of his frame. Prowl did his best not to flinch under the invasive scan while the scientist started pocking and prodding at his armour.

Starscream on the other hand could barely contain his excitement as he studied the Autobot on the table. After meeting the Autobot and witnessing his behaviour in the cell Megatron had ordered the Decepticon scientist to find out all he could about the mech. So naturally Starscream's first idea was to question the 'other' Megatron about the bot's abilities.

What a waste of time that had been!

Either this alternate Megatron simply enjoyed watching him squirm, no matter which reality he was in or he paid absolutely no attention to potential threats right under his nose. Starscream favoured the latter as it seemed that the alternate Megatron saw the mech as nothing more than some sort of second rate repair bot rather than an Autobot soldier.

'If this is the attitude of the Decepticon leader in this other reality then it's little wonder we lost!' the seeker thought sarcastically, having heard tales of the war in the alternate reality from their 'guest'. Looking up at the monitor Starscream frowned in confusion when it began to display images of something hidden beneath the black and gold armour.

What the frag are those?!

Scrutinizing the monitor closely it appeared that the Autobot had some kind weaponry built within his armour. With a gentleness belying his intentions Starscream placed his hands on the Autobot's abdomen, feeling the mech twitch only slightly and started to carefully feel the joints and seams that indicated where the plating was either removable or retractable.

'Tell me Autobot, is it true that your name is Prowl?' the scientist asked absently as he examined the prone bot's armour.

Prowl had been trying to ignore the Decepticon's questing fingers and startled at the sudden question.

'Yes, that is my name.' He replied carefully.

Starscream hummed in response.

'Do you know where you are?'

Prowl was starting to feel a sense of dread at the smug jet's questioning but he answered anyway.

'I would assume I am being held within a Decepticon base somewhere.'

The scientist laughed lightly and began applying gentle pressure to one of the seams in his abdomen causing the Autobot to tense beneath his hands.

'What if I told you that your little space bridge overload threw you into another reality?'

Prowl's optics widened under his visor. Was the red jet serious?! Considering who he was talking to Prowl doubted the scientist's words and told him so.

'As unlikely as it seems I can assure you that it is true. Something to do with an Allspark fragment that caused the control matrix to overload, or something like that….'

Starscream trailed of absently, feigning disinterest, but he had intentionally stressed the word Allspark and was watching Prowl's reaction closely from the corner of his optic.

A thousand and one thoughts were careening across his processor as he tried desperately to make sense of what was going on.

'Another reality?'

The absurdity of the idea just floored him.

Now Prowl had never actually considered himself a slave to logic but this seemed just a little too 'out there' for him to believe. But the more he thought about and replayed everything that had happened, that he could remember up until now, the more doubts he unearthed every time he looked at the situation.

The Megatron that came to visit him in his cell certainly wasn't the Megatron who had dragged him into the space bridge. Now that he thought about it the Starscream that was examining him was definitely the real one even thought the colours were wrong, and he seemed more attentive to his task, more calculating. Dare he say it……….more intelligent.

The unknown Decepticon base, the Starscream clones that weren't Starscream clones as well as other unknown Decepticons, and the space bridge. Having spent so many cycles repairing the things Prowl was pretty sure they needed to be located in a wide open area in order to operate and certainly couldn't do so under water so there was another question. If he arrived by space bridge then where was the thing and could the Allspark really have sent to another reality?

Prowl was so distracted by his internal speculation that he didn't notice Starscream reaching for something beyond his view and was abruptly pulled from his thoughts by searing pain across his abdomen. Looking down he saw the scientist cutting into his armour with a laser scalpel along the seam he had found moments earlier sending waves of white hot pain across his sensory network. Shuttering his optics against the pain he strained against the straps holding him to the berth but refused to give the scarlet jet the satisfaction of crying out. Minutes seemed to stretch on forever as Starscream cut into his body and the number of warning messages in his view doubled as the strain on his systems intensified.

Finally the cutting stopped and Prowl collapsed back against the berth, exhausted. Air intakes heaved in effort to cool his overtaxed systems and Prowl realised with an uncharacteristic twinge of panic that, with the last of his remaining power being unexpectedly diverted to his self-repair, stasis-lock was approaching a lot faster than he had anticipated.

Prowl's moment of respite was short lived however as Starscream, after abandoning the laser-scalpel, dug his fingers into the narrow incisions he had just made and began to tear back the plating of Prowl's abdomen with his bare hands. Raw agony exploded in Prowl's processor causing his optics to actually go offline momentarily as shock ran through his systems. Looking down at the Decepticon scientist with barely contained horror Prowl watched as he ripped the plating aside before slipping a hand into the compartment underneath, searching for something. The black and gold mech flinched visibly as the hand withdrew but opened his optics to see Starscream examining one of his throwing stars in the hand that had just left his body.

That was what the scientist was after? His weapons?

Prowl shuddered. Starscream's earlier scan must have revealed the weapons he kept hidden beneath his armour.

He quietly hoped that the jet didn't attempt to remove the rest of his weapons the same way.

END OF FLASHBACK


His hopes had been ignored and he had gone into stasis lock not long after Starscream started on his leg armour, his body no longer able to keep both him and his self-repair online.

Sighing heavily Prowl carefully tried to make himself comfortable against the back of the cell.

The fact that he was online at all meant the Decepticons had repaired him enough to bring him out of stasis-lock and refuelled him enough to stop it from happening again, in the immediate future at least.

But what to do now?

His internal chronometer told him that, since he first came back online in his cell, he had been captive for approximately 12 hours and there was no way of knowing how many hours he was offline before that.

One thing was for sure, if he was going to be subjected to further examination like his torture with Starscream then there was no way in any universe he was going to stick around and wait for it to happen.

With grim determination Prowl forced himself upright until he sat cross-legged on the floor of his cell. Resting his hands limply in his lap he fought to clear his thoughts of recent events until there was nothing there but calm stillness. With a renewed sense of peace Prowl found his focus and set about solving the problem he had in mind.

He had met his captors, he had seen where he was being held.

So now it was time to think of a way out.

The Ark

'Who is……'

'I've never seen……'

'…need to contact…'

'…looks like…'

'……is that……'

'…can't be…'

He could hear voices.

He strained to pick up what they were saying but everything sounded as if were far away or underwater water. He was faintly aware of movement around him but found himself unable to move except to turn his head slightly to one side. The small movement must have caught someone's attention because a moment later he felt a surprisingly gentle hand on the top of his helm. The soothing touch of the cool metal was slowly pulling him back towards oblivion and he was sure someone was talking to him but he was just too tired to make out what they were saying. The feeling of movement eventually faded into the background and he was once again drifting.

Now if he could only remember why his head hurt so much.

'Bumblebee?'

Bumblebee came back online with such a jerk that he had to wait several minutes for the all of his systems to catch up. When he opened his optics to look around they widened in shock when everything that happened suddenly came rushing back.

He was in the same room he had crashed-rolled into earlier. The one where he had seen the human and the big red and white mech that had him running out the door before his processor could so much as sputter. Only this time he was on one of the examination tables. He tried to sit up to get a better look at his surroundings but to his horror he found that he couldn't move. It was then that he noticed the thick metal straps stretched across his chest, abdomen, wrists and knees keeping him on the berth. He tugged at them experimentally but they wouldn't budge. He was well and truly caught this time and he didn't even know who by.

Slumping back down in defeat Bumblebee couldn't hold back the sob of despair as it escaped.

'Come on! You can't give up, now what would Prowl in a situation like this?' he thought furiously.

'Hmm. Hum his way out?' his processor replied sarcastically.

'How can you joke at a time like this?!' he mentally shouted back and swore he heard something that sounded suspiciously like a snigger at the back of his CPU.

'Great! I'm arguing with myself.'

'You started it.'

'Will you shut up already!'

The sound of a door opening startled Bumblebee out of the internal argument and turned his he the door he had escaped through before but there was no one there.

'Well, it's about time you woke up. I was starting to think Percy had given you too much.' The rough but soft voice echoed faintly round the room.

Bumblebee jumped as much as his bonds would allow at the sound of a voice in the room and he twisted round to see the same red and white from before emerging from another room apparently connected to the repair bay itself. An office maybe. Either way, Bumblebee kicked himself for not noticing it earlier.

The red and white frowned when he received no response from the bot on the table and put down the data pad he had been reading to come and take a closer look.

The reappearance of the red and white was enough to send Bumblebee back into panic mode but with metal straps holding him in place there was little he could do about it. That didn't stop him from shaking slightly when other mech began to walk over, a confused frown on his faceplate.

'Still not talking huh? Well I checked you over while you out and there's nothing wrong with your vocal processor…..' the mech trailed off as he began to examine readings on a nearby monitor.

Bumblebee was confused. Although the mech's tone was gruff there was a note of genuine worry there also. The red and white turned back him, the mech's optic ridges were creased with worry and even though he was still trembling slightly Bumblebee couldn't keep his confusion from showing and shut his optics while a loud hiss of air came from his vents as he sighed.

'Hey kid, you alright?'


FLASHBACK

'Of all the techno-brained idiocy I've seen that has got to be by far the worse. WHAT were you thinking? You could have gotten slagged out there today. By the Allspark you could have gotten Sari slagged!' the medic raged while he finished patching up the yellow bot on his repair table.

Another close call with the Dececpticons had almost resulted in fatalities, namely Bumblebee's and Sari's as they tried to take on Starscream alone. Prime was furious, Prowl was disappointed and Bulkhead wasn't talking to him.

Bumblebee slouched where he sat on the med-bay table, crestfallen. He and Sari just wanted to try out some of the new moves Prowl was teaching them. Admittedly they could have picked a better target, like one they actually stood half a chance against but Sari had insisted that between them could handle it. Thankfully Prime and the others had arrived before either of them were killed by the jet but both would be nursing a few cuts and scrapes for a while, him in particular. Prime had read them the riot act and after Sari went home he pulled Bumblebee aside to have a nice long chat about behaving responsibly around impressionable 8 year-old girls.

Anyway here he was being repaired and getting an audio bashing by the only mech who hadn't had his chance yet.

He already felt miserable about the whole thing, he didn't need Ratchet to make him feel any worse and pulled his knees up to his chestplate and buried his face in his arms, which he had folded on top of his drawn up knees. Ratchet glared at the little bot where he sat curled up on the repair table and so preventing him from completing his repairs but Bumblebee didn't move.

'Come on! The sooner I get this done the sooner you can go.' The medic snapped but his sour mood evaporated when he heard a sob come from the bot on the table.

Shaking shoulder struts confirmed his suspicions as Bumblebee cried softly, hiding his face in his arms. Angry mood now completely gone Ratchet sighed heavily and turned around to sit on the each of the table.

'Alright, so maybe you get it now. But you gotta promise me something?'

Bright optics glowed softly as they peered up from the tear stained faceplate.

'What?'

'That you'll never try something that stupid again without telling anybody. At least give us the chance to talk you out of it first.' The old medic smiled at him and Bumblebee felt his heart lighten considerably.

Ratchet may be a grumpy old medibot but he cared about all of them and Bumblebee knew that this promise was Ratchet's own version of the 'team work' talk.

'Sure, I promise.' He smiled in return and unfolded slightly to examine a particularly nasty gash on the back of one hand. The edges of the wound were black where energy of Starscream's null-ray had touched it. It had been so close he could have lost his hand completely but thankfully it had only grazed it. Still, if Sari had been the one hit instead of him…..

Bumblebee shut his optics in a desperate attempt to avoid thinking about and had completely forgotten Ratchet was there until he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder and he looked up, startled.

'Hey kid, you alright?'

END OF FLASHBACK


Opening his optics he stared at the red and white in shock.

What just happened?

That tone. The gruff yet caring quality of the voice reminded him of Ratchet.

His processor had made the connection when the medic had asked him if he was all right. The same way the Ratchet in his own reality had asked him when he had almost gotten slagged by Starscream. Bumblebee was stunned. It had never occurred to him that his comrades could exist in this reality too.

What if HE existed in this reality?

What if he did and he met himself?! Wasn't that like a paradox or something?

Looking at the mech more closely Bumblebee could actually see the resemblance, although not uncanny, between this medic and the Ratchet of his own reality. Same primary colours, although most medibots opted for the traditional red and white, similar chevron and by the mech's increasing look of agitation the same short temper.

'Well? I haven't got all day!' griped the medic and Bumblebee smiled knowingly.

'Ratchet.' He stated confidently and said mech almost jumped in surprise.

Ratchet stared at the yellow mech in stunned surprise, he hadn't told him his name. Immediately suspicious Ratchet glared at the minibot but was even more surprised when the bot didn't even cringe at his harsh look.

Instead Bumblebee's smile widened as he realised with relief that he was amongst friends.

'You ARE Ratchet aren't you? Oh man! Do I have a story to tell you!'

To be continued……………..

Wow! These things seem to be getting longer every time I write one.

Again I'm sorry it's taken me so long but I want to take my time and try and make this the best it can be and I thank you for staying with me. ^.^