The Ark

Earthen Year: 1985

"…And that's how Jazz almost got us killed."

"I beg to differ, good sir. Who was it who dragged us into the incinerator?"

"Oh. Hey there, Jazz."

"You're never going to let me live that down are you?"

"Ha, ha. No. Having something on you? Like finding a gold mine."

"Don't think you're so clean, Jazz. I recall a little contraband friend of yours that you hoarded in our room."

"Aw, he totally grew on you, Man. Don't even try to deny it."

00000000000

Several million years in the past

Valvoluux, Cybertron

The 112,000 vorn under Sentinel Prime

"You are brilliant, Prowl. A military prodigy, that much is certain. You are one of the rising stars in this army: you are skilled in combat and weaponry, shrewdly intelligent, and are on your way to being an excellent diplomat. And Jazz! Jazz is another gifted soldier like you! He's an expert in various fields, versatile, charismatic, quick witted, and is a promising candidate for a top spot in the special operations department. You both have courage, and drive and live up to the Autobot ideal in your own ways. And together," Spin laced his fingers together tightly in a fist for emphasis, "You two made the most Primus-awful team I have ever seen in my life."

Prowl's door wings dipped in shame.

"I don't understand. It doesn't make any sense." Spin sounded baffled, perplexed even. "Two of our best young soldiers and instead of benefiting from each other's skills, instead of some kind of synergism, you both made idiotic mistakes and almost got each other killed. You both just…there was gridlock."

Prowl began to wish he wasn't as thorough with his report as he had been. He should have left out the part about the incinerator. "To be fair, sir, I wasn't aware that Jazz was undercover."

"Gridlock!" Spin repeated for emphasis. "You two almost died!"

'We are obviously still functioning, Sir. And it was mostly Jazz's fault.' That's what Prowl wanted to say.

Prowl and Jazz had wandered aimlessly in the waste ducts of the Decepticon base in the dark for hours. Fortunately in that time Prowl had managed to get his comlink working and they sent a signal to the nearest Autobot base they could reach. They made it out of the pipe system and ended up in the barren wasteland of the Sonic Canyon's plateaus. They were picked up soon after. Jazz and his information were delivered straight to Iacon. Prowl soon after found himself back in Valvoluux. Spin, who returned extremely early from his trip, was there to greet him.

And that lead back to where he was: In his superior's office. Getting yelled at.

He never got yelled at.

"I apologize for the disorderly manner of our escape," Prowl started in a methodic tone, "However I do believe that the entire scenario would have gone a lot smoother had either of us been given more accurate information detailing the situation."

An icy stare was thrown in his direction. "Two rules of the Autobot command. What are they? Number one?"

Prowl remained perfectly still. "The superior officer is always right."

"Rule two?"

In monotone, "If the superior officer is wrong, see rule one."

"This is concerning, Prowl. If two great soldiers like you and Jazz can't work together I honestly don't know how either of you will be able to handle the opposing personalities you will encounter when you both climb the ranks." Spin got up and walked to the window, arms behind his back. "If you can't handle Jazz, how will you handle perhaps a Rebel leader in the throngs of negotiations or maybe an off world government? You both need to learn to cooperate with mechs you might not necessarily even like."

"That's hardly fair sir. The circumstances-"

Spin turned to him, face harsh. "War's not fair, Prowl. Circumstances rarely turn out they way they are supposed to. That's why you learn how to improvise. You work alone so often, Prowl, and usually you do extraordinarily well on your own. However you need to learn teamwork. So does Jazz apparently." He stared directly into Prowl's optics. "The two of you have so much potential. If you were able to work together that potential would only be magnified. This is why from this point on I'm assigning you two in the same unit as partners."

To Prowl that was the most planet shattering thing anyone could have said to him at that moment.

He tried to not let it show. "Sir. Surely what had transpired is not enough to warrant such a rushed decision."

"You two don't have to like this situation. Hell, you two don't even have to like each other. I just want to see that despite your differences you are capable of working together. I want to see some flexibility, some good old fashioned teamwork. Benefit from each other. Learn from each other. And if all goes well, you'll never have to see each other again."

"But, Sir. It would not be beneficial to pair us up. Jazz is in the special operations divisions while I am in the diplomacy department. Our professions are radically different and logically that would make it difficult to-"

"You might as well stop right there, Prowl. I know what you're trying to do but you can't talk yourself out of this."

Prowl shut up.

Then he opened his mouth. "Is this some kind of punishment? I don't mean to speak out of line, but nothing like that had ever happened to me before and I can assure you that nothing like that will ever happen again. I don't see the logic in me receiving retribution for acts that happened as a result of my unit getting attacked."

Spin rolled on. "Our work here is done in Valvoluux. We're packing up and we'll be heading to Iacon in about Twelve Joors. And," he paused for dramatic effect, "We will rendezvous with Lieutenant Grid Iron's team while we're there."

Silence.

"That's Jazz's unit," Spin elaborated.

"I guessed as much, Sir."

"Don't get me wrong, this little relocation isn't because of you, Prowl. You're not being punished. We were going there anyway regardless of your little fiasco. It was planned megacycles ago that our units would combine. However I had a discussion with Grid Iron and he supports this little partnership as much as I do. We just want to see the best from each of our units reach their full potential, and we came to the consensus that you two working together would be the best manner in achieving this." Spin's optics glittered with delight. "Sometimes these things just work out so well, don't you think Prowl?" he grinned.

Prowl frowned. It was barely noticeable though "…Yes, Sir," He replied tonelessly. On the outside he had the air of total and complete calm. On the inside he was desperately trying to keep his composure.

"Right-O!" Spin stood and slapped Prowl hard on the shoulder as he usually did, jolting the younger mech forward. "Well then gather your things. I'll meet you in the air hanger with the rest of the unit at 0800. And don't worry. It won't be that bad. You two might even grow on each other."

Prowl highly doubted that.

000000

Iacon was a beautiful city of gleaming metal spires and light. The gorgeous Indigo haze of the sky was almost impossible to see past the rising skyscrapers, unless you were above it all in a shuttle of course.

Prowl sat as close to the center of the transport aircraft as he could. He hated flying so much. What was the point of being able to turn into a vehicle if he was forever trapped in the air on these things?

The rest of his team was sitting rather quietly around the plane. There were a few soldiers who were shoulder deep in their subspace compartments as they felt around for things to keep them occupied for the long flight. Some of their newest recruits, young mechs who had never been out of their home city, were plastered to the windows starring down at the capital city in awe.

Iacon was a symbol for all they stood and fought for.

Prowl had no need to gawk at the city from the windows though. He had been in Iacon plenty. It was where he went to the prestigious Nova Prime military academy and got his education. He considered Iacon to be his second home when he was not in his beloved Praxus.

The shuttled jostled slightly as it began its descent.

He could wait to see it when they landed.

Iacon HQ was located at the center of the city. It was a giant dome like structure, almost an entire city in itself actually. The only way one could get into the fortified base was through a single extendable bridge.

As soon as the shuttle landed they all shuffled out and made their way to one of the main halls for briefings, and explanations for why the two units were merging.

Prowl only half listened as Spin and Grid Iron elaborated on the benefits of joining the two platoons. Prowl scanned the crowd.

He saw Jazz.

Jazz looked different than he had when he had first met him. His helmet was black with two horn-like audios adorning it. His armor's color scheme was monochromatic much like Prowl's own, but with a splash of blue running down his chest plate. It wasn't at all like the jagged and dark armor he had been wearing as part of a disguise. The red visor he had once worn under the persona of Racket was replaced by a cerulean blue one.

But it was definitely Jazz. Prowl would recognize that face anywhere.

Jazz, had been looking a little bored himself but suddenly his head perked up. It was almost like he had felt Prowl's gaze because he turned and looked right at him. For a moment they were fixated on each other. Jazz frowned then turned away.

Apparently he was aware of their team up and was just as excited about it as Prowl was.

Prowl looked away as well.

He didn't see Jazz for several hours after that.

0000000

Not until he found his way into the mess hall anyway.

Jazz was there. He was animatedly telling stories to several mechs, some from Prowl's unit as well. The tales he wove were seemingly about his own younger years as a trainee at the Iacon military academy branch in Altihex.

Prowl was several tables away sitting with his own unit. His back was to Jazz and it seemed like either the special ops didn't realize he was there or he was simply ignoring him. He couldn't help but overhear Jazz's story though.

"So the hero of this story, we'll call him Alpha to protect the innocent, was stuck manning our platoon's door when this training instructor from one of the other platoons made a profane and heated series of attempts to get into our dorm. And he was doing it without using his proper 'authority to enter' card I might add," Jazz began dramatically.

There were several chuckles. Prowl took a sip from his energon.

"He was sorta mad at us all already. I guess I was partly to blame. Ya know he had tried this stuff the day before when I was on duty," Jazz said with mock remorse. "and after telling him somewhere between three to four times that his library card, a his business card, and whatever else he had with him didn't give him the proper authority to enter, I called the Security Forces on him, sayin' some guy was trying to break into our dorm. I kinda forgot to mention that the guy doin' the breaking in was a training instructor though."

There were several chuckles at this.

"Anyway, the security forces responded and there was a lot of cursing and yelling and such, I was banned from using the communal comline and so on, but he never made it into our area until after the Security folks escorted him in. Anyway I'm getting' off topic."

"So our hero Alpha was valiantly trying to hold his own against this angry training instructor, who was tryin' to huff and puff and blow himself into our dorm. Poor Alpha looked like he wanted to just teleport himself the frak outa there, or melt into the floor or somethin'. Unfortunately he couldn't do any of these things and he still had to deal with this furious guy trying to break down the door. There were threats of demotions, promises of bodily harm and poor Alpha opened the door just a tiny bit," Jazz pinched his fingers to emphasize the tininess, "cuz he was so scared of this guy. But the second this raving lunatic got one leg through the door, and tried to fling it open Alpha had a change of spark. In a moment of instinct and terror he threw his whole body into slamming that door shut. Now mind you this guy's leg is still in the door."

There were more giggles.

"And so Alpha just kept trying over and over to slam this sliding door shut as hard as he could while, at this point, this training officer is just desperately tryin' to get his leg outa the door. I mean, he managed to eventually but by then our hero had dealt out quite the abuse on this cat's leg. It was all pinched in like he got it caught in a giant pair of pliers. As soon as he got his leg outa that door the guy dropped to the ground like lead and landed a pile of dents, moans, and profanity. Nobody minded all that much when I used the communal comline to get a medic despite the ban."

The mechs gathered for Jazz's tale were laughing hysterically at this point.

"All of us trainees that were present for this 'little victory'" He made quote marks with his fingers. "Buuuut then we were escorted to the Captain's office a while later for a little 'Spark to Spark'," he said, a whimsical look on his face. "He told us that if we broke any more training instructors, none of us would graduate. Ever. We promised to do our best." He shrugged.

The room echoed with laughter.

Prowl just sighed and stared at his energon. It didn't make sense. Why did Spin think Prowl couldn't work well with others? He worked fine with others. It was just Jazz he couldn't click with. And from what it looked like Jazz would probably be fine and well if had been assigned to anyone else. He could have his pick of anyone in that room probably.

Why were their commanding officers doing this to them?

"So your Jazz's new partner."

A small blue mech slid into the empty space next to Prowl.

Prowl looked up at him. "Unfortunately yes. You would be?"

"The name's Skids." He outstretched a hand. "I'm in Jazz's unit. I'm a theoretician."

Prowl took his hand and gave him a firm handshake. "It's nice to make your acquaintance, Skids."

Skids gave him a nod.

"So," Prowl started listlessly, "Jazz appeared to be quite sociable."

"On some level," Skids smiled softly. "He's charismatic. Gets along well with people. He's easy to like."

"We don't see optic to optic it seems," Prowl muttered.

"So I heard," Skids laughed. "Jazz's quite the story teller."

"So I've seen," Prowl said with the barest hint of bitterness in his voice.

"I believe it'll be good for him," Skids started. "You know, having a new partner. It'll be a good learning experience."

That actually caught Prowl's interest a bit. "I'm not sure why. He's seems like he gets along well with others. I may be the only one he doesn't get along well with from what I observed."

"Don't get me wrong." Skids held his hands up." He's great at getting along with mechs. He's just terrible at working with them. Everyone he's been paired up with in the past didn't last very long."

"Really?" That was news to Prowl.

"He's charismatic but," Skids paused, "He's one of those mechs that are approachable but untouchable."

That was a rather ambiguous thing to say. "I'm not sure I understand."

"Well, you'll figure it out soon enough. I'll see you around Prowl." With that Skids got up and left.

Prowl stared after him.

Behind him Jazz was the end of another story "… So our trainin' inspector had us drop this kid's polish rag down the drain, and made us sing funeral taps for it as it was sucked inta the waste pipes. We tried so hard ta keep a straight face but it was just too hilarious. We were crackin' up all over the place."

Prowl got up and left too.

Prowl and Jazz avoided each other as much as they could after that. Prowl holed himself in the military archives to refresh himself on the battle of Altrihara's history. Jazz continued to be the social butterfly he was.

It worked until they had to unpack.

0000000

Predictably Jazz and Prowl were assigned to the same quarters.

Spin had made it clear that the two were to spend as much time together as possible. They were to work together, go on the same shifts, bunk together, and learn from each other. Prowl had the feeling that if it was ethical, Spin would have just had the two grafted together. Perhaps Spin was expecting that maybe if the two were together enough, they'd start to get along through osmosis if not through actual compatibility. Only when they were to be sent on profession related missions were they to be apart. Lieutenant Grid Iron approved wholeheartedly to the order basically sealing the two young mechs' doom.

Prowl and Jazz met up in the hall in front of their door. Neither said anything to each other as they fumbled with their keycards. They didn't talk when they finally entered or when they started unloading their things from subspace either.

When they were almost done with their unpacking it was almost comical how different the sides of the room were.

The room was a small, windowless square space, as was every other room in the barracks. There was a recharge berth on each side along with a small shelving unit and a desk. The symmetrical layout of the room was where the similarities of the sides ended.

Prowl's side was austere and orderly. His berth was bare and clean. Data pads filled to the brim with military history and tactical arts were arranged in a systematic manner on the shelves. His rifles and cleaning equipment were neatly arranged on his desk along with his unfinished paperwork and his personal data processor. Its screen glowed regulation blue, the latest political news brought up in the tabs.

Jazz's side was an eclectic nightmare.

The Special Ops' side was overflowing with, as Jazz would call it, "personality".

Holograms of mechs and femmes Jazz must've known, and bands he probably liked made his walls near impossible to see. There was one framed abstract piece of art hanging over Jazz's berth made of moving colored light. Lazily the image morphed into various colors and shapes based on the sounds and percussions audible in the room. His regulation shelving unit was filled with odd doohickeys and knickknacks, some obviously alien in origin. He must've gotten them off planet. He had apparently customized his personal data processor because the translucent glass of it was a bright orange color. It flashed cheerily with pop culture news feeds, and movie streams. Musical Sound Bit chips were scattered across his desk haphazardly and a small, translucent, octagonal tank was sitting in the corner.

In Prowl's opinion it was like being back at the academy in the dorms. Jazz's side didn't look like it belonged to a skilled special operations agent of the military. It looked like it belonged to a Fledgling (Not that the two were that much older than that but still…). There were just so many things. Jazz apparently wasn't able to grasp the concept of traveling light.

Something was moving in the tank on Jazz's desk.

Out of morbid curiosity Prowl peered into the container. A small but horrifying armored creature was lazily crawling along the sandy, crystal filled bottom. It was a flat techno-robotic creature with four short stubby clawed legs, and an engraved, armored shield on its back. It turned its short silvery head toward Prowl, its mulberry optics flashing with distrust.

It opened its tiny, beaked maw and hissed at Prowl.

"What," Prowl started slowly. It was the first thing he had said to Jazz all day. "Is this?"

Jazz had been standing on his berth in the futile attempt of searching out a blank space on his wall for a smaller light-art piece. He cocked his head back to see what his new partner was talking about and then his face split into a wide grin. He jumped down and walked past Prowl straight to the tank.

"Aww, you found my little buddy." He reached into the tank and pet the horrifying metal creature's shell with one finger.

"What is it?" Prowl repeated seeing as Jazz clearly hadn't understood the question the first time around.

"It's a Chelonian Volterrapin," Jazz cooed as he scratched the little creatures back. It trilled appreciatively. "I call him Barium. Feel free to call 'im Barry though, he likes that."

"It's a what?"

"A Volterrapin. From Chelonia. My creator brought this little guy back from an off world mission."

"You're hiding an invasive species in our room?" Prowl asked in horror.

Jazz's giant light-art swirled tumultuously shifting from a serene blue to a fiery red and orange.

"Pets aren't allowed in the barracks! This is breaking regulation. You can't do that, Jazz! Did this thing even go through customs when it was brought on world?"

"Look. If our commanding officer is allowed to keep a photovoltai-cat, I think I should be allowed to keep my techno-turtle buddy here. Besides, it's not hurting anything," Jazz huffed.

Barry chirped in agreement.

The light art on the wall changed to a soft indigo and started to drift hazily.

"It's still not allowed, Jazz. We could get into trouble for this breech."

Jazz waved him off. "Don't get yourself in a tizzy, Chevrons. Nobody's gonna know. I don't plan on telling them, do you?"

Jazz stared at him expectantly. Prowl just growled.

There Jazz went again breaking regulations with no regard for why they were in place. Off world creatures were dangerous. Prowl recalled of an incident he heard about some time ago. It was about a small, harmless looking alien creature that had been brought from another world to a science academy in Praxus. After being exposed to the radiations prevalent on Cybertron for a while it morphed into a destructive, insect like creature twelve times the size of the average mech. It took several elite guard officers to stop its rampage.

"Then it's settled. Barry stays."

The little mechanical creature hissed. Jazz fed the little guy a small round crystal, which it snapped up happily.

Prowl glared at it with disdain.

Jazz saw this. "Are you really always this uptight?" he asked with complete seriousness. "It's just a pet."

"Are you always this lackadaisical with the rules?" Prowl wiped his hand down his face agitatedly.

This was just stupid. They had been in the same room for maybe a few breams and they were already arguing.

Over a turtle no less.

It was just that Jazz rubbed him the wrong way.

Prowl had always been by the books. Always followed the rules without question. Jazz seemed to be antithesis of his very existence.

It just irritated him, and Prowl was a difficult mech to irritate.

"This just isn't going to work Jazz," Prowl dropped to his berth.

The other mech eyed him warily. He left his pet and walked back to his side of the room.

"Look man, I don't particularly like this any more than you do. Trust me." Jazz plopped onto his own berth and crossed his legs.

The two sat across from each other; chaos and flare on one side, order and precision on the other. Neither looked at the other.

"Ya know," Jazz started, "The quicker it looks like we're getting along the quicker we can get away from each other."

"I am perfectly aware of that," Prowl responded apathetically.

"Then let's do somethin' about it. For starters. Let's just try to stay outta each other's way and keep our stuff as separate as we can. I'll keep my stuff from eatin' your side of the room. You keep your plainness from invading my space, ya dig? Maybe then we can avoid the Third Great War." He paused. "'Sides, given our professions, we probably won't be hangin' around each other very long anyways."

"Well that's very…pragmatic of you, Jazz," Prowl said in surprise.

"And you thought I couldn't be practical." Jazz grinned and hopped off from his berth. He walked to the center of their room and turned to the wall. "Now help me find a buzz saw. I want a window."

Prowl took what he said back.

This was going to be hell. He was going to die a Jazz related death.

He could already tell it was going to be a slow and obnoxious way to go too.

The light-art on Jazz's wall took the form of a gray, bloblike mass.

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Jazz's academy tale was based on a true story. Names have been changed to protect the innocent :)