Title: Crash Into You
Characters/Pairings: Jazz/Prowl, eventually. Ensemble.
Summary: Prowl is unwittingly caught up in a new Decepticon plot, this one mysteriously going back to the very beginnings of Cybertronian history, and unleashing a dangerous old threat.
Notes: OC's seeming at the beginning are for plot purposes only. This is a solidly Jazz/Prowl and ensemble story.
~ 65 Million Years Ago ~
"Sir! That last shot shattered their secondary port exhaust vent! They should be dead in space soon!"
Pax gritted his denta plating, smiling through the sheer forces that were shaking their pursuit craft to its outer hull bolts. "Keep up with them. We cannot let them get back to their empire."
"We're already flying apart at our seams, sir. If we go much faster, they wont have to worry about our pursuit." Switch, his pilot, swiveled in his chair, fingers flashing over the control pad, depressing levers and pulling switches faster than his optics could keep up. He was the fastest pilot on Cybertron, and Pax had personally trained him on the orbital light freighters, pushing their limits in the same way he pushed the hover carriers on the planets surface. It was Switch who had then trained the underground crew of freighter pilots, hover drivers, and orbital bouncers to be secret fighter pilots, waiting for the perfect chance to strike back against their overlords and oppressors.
"Fly us apart then! This cycle wont have mattered at all if we don't stop them!" Pax felt another shudder tear through the freighter, jury-rigged as an interstellar fighter, a rush-job pursuit craft, as Switch pushed another couple microns of speed out of the well-out-of-its operating platform ship.
"They're trying to establish contact again. They've broken through our first set of firewalls. We're gong to have to create a new set!" Download, with his brother, Upload, next to him, were monitoring the communications relays of the other ship. They had managed to stay in range of their communications data bursts, and Upload, being the best and most complex code writer on Cybertron, had planted a cascading systems failure virus within their relay node. No matter how good Upload was though, the others were always better. They knew it was only a matter of time before that had failed. Their real purpose wasn't to interrupt their comms. That was only to stall for time.
"Keep at it," Pax growled, standing up, swaying and rocking under the bucking of the freighter. He could hear the twisting of the outer hull plates, could almost feel the buckling of the outer hulls dead bolts against the strain of the speeds they were currently pushing their freighter into.
"Sir! Look!" 'Chip was furiously bringing up the data from his own console to the heads up display on the front viewscreen, where the sensor telemetry and data nodes created a combined visual and data picture for the freighter's crew. Currently, it was showing their enemy sputtering and dropping out of their space tunnel. The fracture and fold in space encasing them began to creak, breaking open, the engines of their enemy's craft no longer strong enough to continue the warp tunnel. Since the freighter had no space tunneling drive of it's own, Switch had ridden hard and fast, only his special "modifications" allowing them to keep pace with their enemies when they jumped into the tunnel.
If the tunnel fell apart, they would be shot out of it, out of control, and at the mercy of wherever the other ship let out.
Pax could feel the tension spike on his command deck. They hadn't spared a thought for the consequences of their actions when they blasted their way out of orbit, leaving the line of their now victorious comrades to pursue the last enemy ship in their system. They had to stop them. The had been so far from their empire when they took over Cybertron, their new outpost serving as a separate auxiliary of their empire, independent and devoid of the authority, and more importantly, support of the main imperial forces.
That had been their weakness.
The Quintessons had appeared suddenly one cycle, in a blinding flash of explosions and destruction, quickly assuming command and control of the planet with little resistance. They were technologically superior, quickly subduing the small rebellions the Cybtertronians enacted against their new overlords and occupiers. The Quintessons had been amused, but still dealt with the rebellions in a decidedly firm and final manner.
They had been there for the planets resources. The metals, ores, crystals, and circuitry of the planet were complex, rich in abundance, and natural in origin. The Cybtertronians hadn't realized until then the richness and fullness of their planet, until it was no longer their own. That bitter realization had made the loss of their autonomy and planet all the more painful, as they hadn't known their own splendor until it was suddenly ripped away.
The Quintessons wasted no time in utilizing the natural labor on the planet for their uses. With their superior technology, they were able to create massive devices, machines to extract and utilize, manufacture the materials of Cybertron. To operate those devices, and to oversee the exploitation of their own world, they employed the Cybtertronians; the ones who were left after the uprisings had all been quelled.
Their technological superiority was all consuming. That had been their first undoing.
They became lazy, arrogant. The Cybtertronians had been pacified, they assumed, awesomed by the immense showing of force and prowess they had displayed, again and again. There wouldn't be another uprising. Though they had overlarge security forces put in place to guard against just such an occurrence, they did not guard against internal subterfuge. The longer they stayed, the more they utilized the natural Cybertronian labour force. And the greater access the Cybtertronians had to the Quintessons technology.
It took a Primusly forbidden long time, to assimilate and understand the technology. Cybertron's best scientists, inventors, machinists, and leaders attempted to reverse engineer and remanufacture the bits of Quintesson tech that was smuggled out of their factories, manufacturing centres, command theatres, and security forces operational hubs. It was a long and laborious process, and many, many mechs were grievously injured in the process. There was a point where they were close to giving up, having lost their best and most brilliant mech-mind to a careless accident during the initialization of one of their weapons tests from the Quintessons own stolen weapons tech.
Pax hadn't been involved in the science side. He was a smart mech, but wasn't a scientist type. His skills were in dealing with other mechs, in commanding and leading them. He had always been able to draw others to him, to motivate, to provide direction. To draw on their individual strengths for the greater whole. He had been one of early rebels against the Quintessons, and was the only one to survive during the last quelling of the uprising. He had laid in stasis for orns, barely clinging on to life, while medics worked to rebuild near his entire body. His spark chamber still carried the vicious scar, from where it had been cracked in two by the Quintessons own hands during their final fight against the Quintesson security forces in Iacontra.
He had never lost his hatred of the Quintessons, had never let go of that fiery, burning desire for rage-filled revenge. He channeled it into healing, once he was online, and made no secret of his attempt to return to fighting the Quintessons as soon as he was physically able. Due to his open allegiance with the rebellion from the start, and the finality of the final uprising, the Quintessons had written his record off as offlined. Pax was free from the subjugation and slavery systems his fellow mechs were stuck in.
They asked him to lead their rebellion. They asked him to gather willing mechs, to train and arm them with their new tech, and to lead them to a new future, free of the Quintessons. They asked him to free their planet. They asked him to free them all.
His hatred of the Quintessons, and desire for freedom had no match in the universe. Mechs around him had quavered in fear around his presence then, certain he was one circuit away from mass homicide. His desire for the utter destruction of the Quintessons was muted however, by the incredible task suddenly laid before his feet. He wished, for one moment, that he wasn't the one they had asked, and then realized there was no one else to ask. If they were ever to be free, it would have to be him. It would have to be.
That didn't mean he wasn't terrified out of his spark though.
He found and recruited the best mechs on the planet, operating in secret, during the night cycles, networking the mechs in silent cells, adding subroutines to enable them to recharge in a neural network, where they could plan and train in secret. They survived raids, betrayals, and training mishaps. The Quintesson security forces knew there was a problem, but assumed it was localized unrest, most probably around the recently enacted termination and offlining regulations they had set down to the injured Cybertronian mechs. The cells were disjointed, fractured, and independent of the massively growing revolutionary movement.
They worked in secret, taking the genius tech from the scientists, and modifying their own Cybertronian freighters, vehicles, mechs, and weapons. The in turn brought their scientists more tech, more specs, more designs to decrease their technological disparity. It was when a cell member, not thinking one day, repaired an advanced piece of Quintesson equipment that he should have no knowledge of, without thinking during a shift, that they realized the time was now.
It was that cycle that they had finally acted.
The morning started out normally enough, with mechs reporting for their assignments on time and without complaint. It wasn't until midmorning that the uprising began, after the Quintessons had been lulled into the monotony of another dreary, normal cycle.
Surprisingly, the battle had been quick and decisive. The Cybtertronians were now well matched for the Quintessons, and more importantly, had the element of surprise on their hands.
The Quintessons had never expected it. They had idly entertained thoughts about another rebellion, but never thought they would actually be fighting Cybtertronians who wielded their own Quintesson weapons, reverse engineered from their technologically superior specs. Their assault was swift, overwhelming, and shocking in its scope. The Quintessons fell within one cycle. Isolated incidents were still flaring around the planet, but the majority of the fight had fled with the Quintessons to the orbital command battle stations surrounding the planet.
This was the major sticking gear. Pax knew that they Quintessons couldn't be beaten unless they took the fight straight to the orbital command battle stations. The trouble was, Cybertron had no more space craft. The Quintessons had destroyed all their space craft when they first arrived, leaving only the orbital bouncers and freighters for transport of good and materials. Pax had refused to act until the scientists had figured a way to turn their freighters into space fighters.
Switch had trained the pilots in maneuvers, while the construction mechs remanufactured the freighters into stealth fighters, concealing weapons and extra plating in the cargo holds. They sacrificed crew living quarters, recharge functions and medical space to ensure room for both their weapons, and to keep the same cargo capacity for their still-needed cargo runs of ore and metals to the orbital stations. Those runs were used for reconnaissance. Pax had privately chuckled to himself as he demanded the scientists accompany him to the orbital stations once, just once, to see for themselves the targets they needed to create weapons and defenses against. The scientists, having never been on the front lines, and quite happy in their dusty, dingy, but well protected backline research labs, had been terrified out of their processors.
It had worked though, the scientists getting over their terror as they clicked and computed their way around and into the defenses and subroutines of the battle stations, managing to somehow disguise themselves as off loading workers when they docked, and able to visually recon the landing bays of the manufacturing platforms within the battle stations themselves. They spent the next indeterminable length of time locked up on Cybertron, designing tech and weapons to combat all they had seen.
Pax had to hand it to them. They won the war for him. Their tech, and most importantly, their defenses, had worked flawlessly. If there was a hero to this uprising, this insurrection, this revolution, it was all of them. Every spark challenged, over processored, tera-byte loving one of them.
The battle station had fallen under the mass onslaught of modified freighters and orbital bouncers, crawling into and around and over their defenses. The mass of smaller crafts, picking away at the massive battle stations defenses, had done more than an all out assault, as they had tried (and failed) at during their last attempted uprising. Two of the battle stations had exploded from within, crashing down onto the planets surface, burying their girth into he jagged and harsh landscape they had marred. The modified fighters followed them all the way down, not convinced they were destroyed until they were burning and melting from within, becoming one with the planets core and surface.
The third had reacted better, buttoning up their defenses and taking out more of the fighters than the others had. Their forces concentrated on the last battle station, and in the end, it hadn't fared any better. It broke apart in orbit, pieces of the station flying past the jury rigged attack craft as they continued to break the battle station into smaller and smaller fragments, takink all their time as oppressed slaves out against their former overlords.
However, before breaking apart, the battle station had managed to launch one last escape craft, the only Quintessons to escape the battle. They had opened up a space tunnel, one of the myriad pieces of tech the scientists hadn't been able to reverse engineer, and had disappeared en route back to Quintessa.
Pax had instantly ordered Switch to follow. The Quintessons on Cybertron had been an outlying, independent province of the empire, able to succeed or fail on their own. The empire offered nothing, and demanded nothing, as their Quintessons lived and operated on Cybertron. They knew the province and mining operation would eventually return to the empire, if successful, but for the time being, were operating independently.
However, if the empire heard of the massacre against their own independent forces, their independent outpost, they would retaliate, en masse. Pax had no delusions that Cybertron could hold off the wrath of the Quintesson Empire. An outpost, commanded by one auxiliary Governor was one thing; an imperial attack force, operating under the direct authority of the Imperial Guard was not something that Cybertron would survive.
They had to stop that shuttle. They had to. If it returned to Quintessa, and spread word of what had happened, Cybertron was as good as destroyed. If it didn't return, and Quintessa never heard from their outpost again, they would write it off as simply another lost outpost, lost to the ravages of space. It had happened before. Each outpost was self sufficient for a reason – the empire could reap the benefits of their return, without having to extend their protection and resources to failed prospects.
Switch had managed to ride the tail end of the space tunnel, rocketing them into the wake of the Quintessons' craft. They had traded shots, each damaging their own systems in approximately the same ways, maneuverability down to next to nothing within the confined space warp tunnel. The Quintessons had the upper hand though – the modified freighter was in no position, technologically, to be in the space tunnel, and hadn't the capabilities to fly at their current speeds. The cargo hold had already been crushed by the sheer pressures against the craft. Pax wondered how much longer they had, and knew, deep in his spark, that he wouldn't live to see a free Cybertron.
"The tunnel is collapsing!" Switch cried out, struggling to keep the freighter under control. It careened and bucked under his hands, refusing to steady itself as the eddies and currents of space ripped though the craft's energy fields, crashing in waves against their plating. They went tearing from space warp speeds to near impulse in an astrosecond. Pax fell to the ground, seeing 'Chip and Upload crash down around him. He saw Switch's helmet violently impact his console with a sickening, wet crunch. Consoles exploded around him, sending a shower of sparks and flame around them into the cramped command deck.
'Chip was the first to recover, scrambling back to his smoking and smoldering console. He ignored the flames, coaxing more data out of the damaged nodes and sensor lines. "We've output into a planetary system! The Quintessons are heading into the planets orbits!" The front viewscreen crackled, fitfully trying to show the Quintessons craft descending down into the small planetary system they had literally crashed into. The system was protected by a cloud of rocky asteroids, magnetic fields and ores playing havoc with their remaining sensor pings, and working to the Quintessons advantage.
"Keep after them!" Pax called, stepping over to Switch, who had dazedly righted himself. Energon poured from his helm, one optic cracked and useless. Pax placed his hand on Switch's shoulder, ready to relieve him and fly the freighter himself, but Switch shook him off.
"Pursuing, yes sir!" Switch was as dedicated to destroying the last of the Quintessons as Pax was. Pax had a moment to feel his pride and love for Switch seep out of his processor, before he clambered back to his command platform. His fingers sweept across his half destroyed console, trying to make sense of the sensor ghosts and phantoms pinging off the asteroids around him.
There were four large gas giants in the outer portion of the planetary system, and the Quintessons were heading fast towards the fourth one. "Follow them, Switch. Fly us apart. This is it." His command was soft, steady. No longer did he need to shout or growl over the alarms and shrieking, twisting metal of the space tunnel, the freighter protesting ever micron of the way. This pursuit was eerily calm, belied by the utter destruction surrounding them on the command deck.
Pax quickly checked the mainframe and found that the bottom half of the freighter had sheared off. Though Switch hadn't mentioned anything, hadn't complained, he must have known and was struggling to compensate for the changes in mass, drag and thrust on the freighter. The command deck was the most heavily shielded on the freighter, and would be the last to go, but losing a large chunk of their space craft meant they were in for some rather large problems during the inevitable engagement to come.
Pax tried to bring up a systems check of the weapons systems, and to his dismay, realized that in losing that chunk of their freighter, they had cut the main energon lines feeding the forward laser cannons. They had no weapons to engage the Quintessons.
'Chip knew it too, having finally smothered his smoldering console. He looked to Pax, finality and inevitability in his eyes. Upload hadn't rejoined his brother at the comms station. Download had energon dripping from the back of his helm, and was furiously typing away on his console, trying to maintain his hack into the Quintesson comms relays.
Switch had managed to skirt the edge of the third gas giants' rings, hiding their impulse signature in the magnetic and radiation fields of the interplay between the planets rings at atmospheres. The Quintessons were nearing the fourth gas giant, a huge swirling mass of red and orange toxic gases, its gravity fields competing with the solar gravity of the system. The Quintessons swung around the outer band of the thermosphere, managing to slingshot their damaged and leaking craft further into the planetary system.
"Faster, Switch…" Pax gripped the edges of his command console, the only thing holding him up as the freighter somehow managed to squeeze ever more power from its fractured, shattered chassis. The front viewscreen flickered, static showing on most circuit relays. The sensor nodes feeding the viewscreen had nearly all given out.
The Quintessons must have lost their forward sensor array during their mad dash through the system. Perhaps their maneuver around the thermosphere of the gas giant had been pure accident, or a mad save by their blind pilot. They plunged straight into the fragmentary band of asteroid chunks separating the inner, rocky planets from the gas giants. The impact sent a flash of light across the remaining sensors of the viewscreen. Pax inhaled sharply. That couldn't be the end. They couldn't be that lucky.
Switch gasped quietly in front of them. Download ripped the coaxial cable from the base of his neck, having established a hardline to the comms relays after the smoking console refused to accept his manual input anymore. He dropped to his brothers side, still unmoving on the command decks floor. 'Chip was furiously working his last remaining console pad. Energon dripped from his shoulder, clearly set at an unnatural angle from his torso plating. The rushes of extra energon, highly refined by a little used process of the energon pumps during extremely taxing and demanding situations clearly pushing 'Chip through the pain. This certainly seemed to apply, Pax thought grimly, watching 'Chip work through his injury, paying no mind to the limb that barely functioned.
"They're still out there, Sir! That's wasn't the end of them!" 'Chip found the Quintessons, somehow, their half destroyed, mangled spacecraft barely functioning, operating on emergency systems only. It sparked, trailing exhaust and damaged fuels, ruptured systems cascading into systems failure as they struggled to clear the asteroid belt. The viewscreen flickered again, barely showing a gaseous streak finally flying high above the asteroid belt.
"Now, Switch! After them!" Pax dropped down to stand behind Switch's chair again, gripping the back of it with a renewed enthusiasm. This was it. The Quintessons were not going to make it. Both their ships were near destroyed, but Pax's was slightly, slightly better off. At least he could still see where they were going.
Switch pushed the freighter hard, pushing the last of their energon into the final pursuit. Pax felt the life support systems offline, knowing that Switch had drawn on all available power to the engines. Steadily, the gained on the broken Quintesson craft, until what once had been a blur in the viewscreen now filled the command deck of their freighter with its sparking, broken, burning contrail.
"They're heading for the sun…" Switch muttered softly, not sparing a glance to Pax as his fingers danced over the console still. Pax noticed the fifth digit on his right hand was bent at an unnatural angle, clearly knocked out of its sitting joint on his palm. "If they slingshot again, the gravity push can clear them from the system."
"We've lost comms," Download said, finally sitting back from the still form of his brother. He held Upload's lifeless hand in his own, looking into Pax's optics, spark weary exhaustion framing every word. "If they clear the system, they could get a clean transmission out."
"Crash into them, Switch. Drive them into the sun." Pax remained standing beside Switch, his hand still gripping the back of his chair. Download sighed, leaning forward to rest his helm against the chassis of his brother. Pax had a moment to spare a fond farewell for Download, as his spark ceased it's pulsing next to the still frame of his twinned spark. 'Chip, Primus bless him, turned back to his console, shunting power to reinforce the electromag plating at the front of the freighter. They had to survive the collision long enough to set their final course.
The Quintessons had slowed, their dying spacecraft unable to carry forward any more. Switch coaxed one last joule out of their own dying spacecrafts engines, before plunging headlong into the portside aft of the Quintesson craft.
The impact was unholy in its pure, unadulterated destructive power. The command deck exploded around him, all structural integrity shattered around the frame of the freighter. Every console exploded around him in a shimmering hailstorm of fire and sparks. 'Chip, caught in the fireball of his former consoles explosion, collapsed to the deck, his processor melted completely, offlining his self immediately. His spark flared briefly, then shut out forever.
Switch had been jarred from his seat on impact, flying sideways and crashing into Pax's side. They both tumbled to the deck, missing the firestorm of the exploding console, but not avoiding the tumbling plating crashing down around them.
Pax struggled to stand, Switch moaning on top of him. He gripped Switch close to this frame, hauling them both to his feet. He stumbled, realizing with a detached surprise that he was missing the lower half of his left leg. Energon was rapidly pooling on the floor around them, and he looked down to see Switch had a long, jagged gash in his mid back, a piece of hull plating buried into the right side, slicing neatly through his main energon line from his pump to his lower extremities. Switch's breathing was rapid, ragged, his optics flickering and wide. His hands gripped Pax's shoulder, clinging to him in his final moments.
The impact had sent both craft tumbling through space. At the last second, perhaps anticipating the impact, the Quintessons had changed course, but were unable to escape their final impact. It was enough, however, to change Switch's precisely projected course heading. Both craft spun, end over end, not towards the sun, but instead towards the surface of the third planet. The azure and white marbled world rapidly filled the final flickerings of the viewscreen, imminent impact alarms futilely attempting to warn the freighters occupants of their fate.
Pax sighed. It was done. The Quintessons were finished. Cybertron was free. Finally free. Surprisingly, he wasn't sad to realize he would never see it for himself. Nothing would change the fact that their homeworld was free, whether he was there to experience it or not. From the Matrix, he would be able to revel in the new life given to his planet, and to his people.
He looked down to Switch, still clinging to his shoulder, his arms tightly wrapped around his frame. Switch's optics were watching him, wide, his breaths hitching in his vents, ragged and frothy. "Switch… I never told you… what you meant to me…" Pax whispered above the alarms of the command deck, his whisper seemingly overloud to both him and Switch's audials. He raised his hand to cup Switch's face plates, thumb stroking his bruised and bloody cheekridge.
"You…" Switch gasped, energon spilling out his lip plates. "You never needed to," he breathed out, holding Pax's optics and finally pouring his pent-up and long-shuttered love into his final gaze.
Pax lowered his head, capturing Switch's energon stained lip plates in their first and final kiss, as the combined hulks of the two freighters burned through the third planets atmospheres and plunged to the ground below.
On the formerly peaceful planets surface, a brontosaurus glanced up from his lunch of tree leaves, turning his head towards the unusual sound breaking through the forest. Several miles away, a group of pterodactyls squawked and flapped away, sensitive brains detecting the sudden and rapid changes in the air waves, signaling an event they had never before encountered, or anticipated. A triceratops paused from his morning drink at the still waters of the lake edge to look up at the streaking fireball, plunging to the ground.
On impact, the joined crafts sent a plume of smoke and debris high into the atmosphere. A sonic boom shattered the landscape, and the super heated gases of the explosive impact ignited fires across the entire northern hemisphere. All life within 400 miles of the impact was immediately extinguished, obliterated by the heat, shockwaves, and radiation from the crafts. Tidal waves rocked the peninsula, sending reverberating waves around the world. As the dust rocketed into the upper atmospheres, the sky darkened, added to by the innumerable fires burning uncontrollably across half the planet. A dark and unnatural winter settled over the planet, the suns warmth prevented from warming and feeding the plant life on the surface. Organic life across the globe shuttered, and began to die.
~ 65 Million Years Later ~
It was, Jazz thought much, much later, a completely inauspicious start to the end of his world.
Jazz woke up in a generally agreeable mood. He grabbed his morning energon in the rec room, trading banter with Bumblebee before scooting out the door. He had the early shift on comms, and walked up to the command deck whistling a catchy tune he had picked up off Earth's pop radio stations.
He walked into the command deck to find Prowl beginning his pre-patrol briefing with Sideswipe and Sunstreaker. Prowl cast a sidelong glance to Jazz as he strolled in, still whistling away. Prowl paused his brief long enough to arch an optic ridge towards Jazz.
Jazz grinned, waving a cheeky good morning, but stopped whistling for his friend. Prowl found it distracting during his briefings or on duty, the audial input racing across the sensor relays of his doorwings, causing all manner of generally distracting and, to Prowl, irritating displays. Jazz hummed instead, low and softly, having found that Prowl never complained about his humming.
Prowl resumed his briefing. "We've discovered intermittent Decepticon signals in these grids." He indicated to the maps displayed on the illuminated free-standing island in the back of the command deck. It was useful for planning and preparations meetings of the command staff, as well as pre-patrol briefs. Prowl had been quiet excited, in his own way, to have Wheeljack install the tactical island. The rest of the Ark had been less enthused, but understood the tactical, and admittedly administrative, significance. "We will begin our patrol in sector E-7, then move on to D-7, and C-7, respectively. We'll keep in a spread wedge formation. Sideswipe and I taking front, Sunstreaker, you will bring up the rear. Each of us will utilize full spectrum sensor scans on our designated grid." He paused, looking to Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, each standing on the opposite side of the island. Sideswipe looked bored, never paying rapt attention to any briefing. Sunstreaker looked mildly irritated, not interested in the finer points of tactics or patrol. "Understood?"
Sideswipe and Sunstreaker nodded, heads bobbling, eager to get to their patrol. Each of them looked forward to the patrol as a way to potentially, hopefully, engage the Decepticons. Prowl had decided long ago that only a few officers would ever go out with Sideswipe and Sunstreaker together, as the two of them would barely be controllable if and when an engagement were to occur. Jazz had readily agreed, and was one of the few officers that went out with them at times. He couldn't really imagine Bumblebee, or Hound, taking patrol with the twins.
"Which grid are we starting on?" Prowl asked Sideswipe.
"E-7," Sideswipe droned, bored tone belying that he had indeed heard every word.
"And then moving on to?" Prowl turned to Sunstreaker.
"D-7, then C-7." Sunstreaker's sulky, anger riddled tone was inescapable to miss.
"Spread wedge." The twins answered in unison.
Prowl nodded once, satisfied. He hefted his acid pellet gun, the twins onlineing and loading their own weaponry. "Lets go."
Once outside, Prowl and the twins initiated their transformations, striking out onto their patrol precisely on time. They passed Hound and Bluestreak, returning from their night shift, checking in with Jazz at comms as they crossed into the Ark's perimeter. Prowl gave the final call out as they left the perimeter, echoed a moment later by the Perimeter Patrols confirmation of their leaving to Ark comms. Jazz confirmed each communication relay per procedure, idly flipping through the last nights log. Blaster had logged a procurement requisition for Ratchet, which Ratchet must have signed off personally for. The log showed Ratchet's own signature confirming the call. There was an alpha band call for Prime from the Pentagon, secure and funneled straight to Prime's office. It had come through in the middle of the night shift. Jazz frowned, worried that Prime was over working again.
The last call was a personal communication for Bumblebee from Spike, halfway around the world on a school trip. All in all, a quiet night shift. Jazz leaned back in his chair, hands crossed behind his helm, and resumed his whistling in the quiet, early morning command deck.
It was mid morning when Prowl's communication came in, on the tight, high frequency band. "Ark Ops, Prowl. Contact. Repeat, hostile contact. We have engaged." The comms were shorting out, static filling the line as the Decepticons starting jamming the signal.
Jazz stopped his carefree whistling, dropping his chair back to the command deck. "Prowl, Ark Ops. Acknowledged." He flipped the Ark's internal communications systems, sounding the enemy contact alarm and notifying the rapid reaction squads to mobilize.
"Ark Ops, this is Perimeter 2." Cliffjumper's voice came over the Ark's comms lines, voice filling the speakers as Prime burst onto the command deck.
"What's the situation, Jazz?"
"Perimeter 2, Ark Ops. Go ahead." Jazz toggled the Arks comms to Cliffjumper's band.
"Ark Ops, Perimeter 2. We have a flare from the patrol's sector." There was a pause. "Confirmed, it's Sunstreaker's."
The flares and incendiary rounds had been another of Prowl's additions. Ironhide had readily agreed with his recommendations to add them to the patrols, and both had recommended the rounds to Prime together. Jazz had agreed as well, once their application was explained to him. With Soundwave's ever increasing adaptability to their defenses, the potential for jamming was ever present. The flares and illumination rounds allowed for the roving patrols to rapidly relay to the perimeter patrols their need for aid, and for deployment of the rapid reaction squads.
"Prowl's patrol's run into the 'Con's, Prime. Comms to them are gettin' jammed. " Jazz's good mood of earlier had been lost the moment he heard his friend had run into trouble.
"Who's with him?"
" Side's and Sunny."
Ironhide's voice broke through the Ark's internal comm. "Ops, Ironhide. My squad is ready to roll out." The rapid reaction squads were small fire teams, made up of off duty, but on-call mechs. They were fully loaded and ready to quickly respond if needed when their active, on duty patrols were outside the Ark's perimeter. It had been unusual to see the fire teams wandering around the ark fully loaded and armed while on call, as most mechs dumped their excess weaponry when off duty. However, this had been another modification made to the Ark's combat operations by Prowl and Prime, after several Primusly long communication exchanges between Prime and the Pentagon.
Prime nodded to Jazz. "Send them out."
Jazz nodded, flicking the line to Ark's internal comm network. "You're clear to roll out. Go get those 'Cons."
"Don' you worry." Ironhide's voice was darkly dangerous, already having dropped himself into his battle mainframe.
Jazz flipped back to the Ark's wider comm net. "Perimeter Patrols, Ark Ops. Ironhide's squad cleared for departure. They're headin' you're way."
Cliffjumper responded again. "Ark Ops, Perimeter Patrol 2. Ironhide's squad cleared. We sent them the triangulation of Sunstreaker's flare."
"It'll take us 12 minutes to get there," Ironhide voice called back through the battle channels, now open and free to the command deck. Jazz had onlined the battle net as Prowl had reported enemy contact. All mechs operating now were linked together in the common battle net communication relay.
12 minutes was a long time, for the mechs going top speed to the patrol's location. Jazz called up the grid of E-7, Prowl's patrol's first sector. The far edge of E-7 brushed up against the edges of the mountain range, neatly forming the far exterior of their operational zone. It was the furthest point from the Ark's base. A lot could happen out there, a single patrol against innumerable Decepticons. A lot could happen in 12 minutes.
"What's the status on the Aerialbots?" Prime asked.
Jazz flicked back to the Ark's internal comms. "Silverbolt, Ops. Are you 'bots ready to launch?" The Aerialbots didn't run patrols, but were instead on permanent rapid aviation reaction force standby. Whenever a patrol ran into problems, or the 'Cons, the Aerialbots were sent out with the reaction squad to provide air support, and to engage the Seekers, if Starscream was out with his trine.
Silverbolt responded quickly. "We're launching now."
"Ironhide's on the move already. He estimates it will take 12 minutes to reach their location." Jazz uploaded Cliffjumper's triangulated coordinates to Silverbolt. "What's your fastest you can get to 'em?"
Silverbolt quickly analyzed the data, and Jazz heard the roar of the Aerialbots launching from outside the Ark. "We can get there in 6 minutes."
Prime nodded behind them, then spoke over the battle net. "Let's go get our patrol, Autobots. Find them quickly. Bring them home."
After that, things started happening fast.