Disclaimer: I don't own Transformer or any of the fictional characters described below. This is just for entertaiment.

Taralynden and Starfire201: Thank you for wonderful work as betas!

Isolation

Laughter could be heard outside of the rec room of Autobot headquarters in Iacon. He knew that one could meet mechs at any time of the orn there, trying to forget the outer world and its gruesome war. Energon flowed freely, friends met and some, few became more than that...

Prowl sped up and walked past the door. This was not his area; he had duties which needed to be performed. The new data from Polyhex was more than worrying and their spies at Decepticon base D89/2 had probably been exposed. Not to mention the rumours about a new kind of weapon from Shockwave.

On the other hand, when had Shockwave ever not had a new weapon?

The corridors around him were empty. No laughter any more. Even his steps were silenced by an expensive carbonate floor. Here was the place they worked and determined the fate of the Autobots. In front of a high door at the end of the white corridor, he stopped. He had reached his destination, his office, the very centre of the tactical department.

Lamps flared up as he stepped into the room and immersed everything in a bright, hard light. They had been applied in such a way that the furniture left no shadows at all. A security measure against assassins.

But today everything seemed to be okay. Without further waste of time, he began with his work.

Orns later, his duties at the Department of Science led him back the same way. The laughter felt like a slap in the face after all the silence. Though this time it subsided and he could hear voices.

"...and then I just looked at the 'con and said: 'Hey, ever heard of tactical advantage?'"

His steps paused. He knew that voice; it belonged to his student, Trailbreaker. He hadn't known that the young mech followed such recreational activities. Especially not now, as the tactical department was swamped with work! Had Trailbreaker no understanding of responsibility?

But no, he had seen how utterly exhausted his student was. Not only physically, but mentally. Had it not been he himself who sent Trailbreaker home? It was not his concern how his student found balance again, as long as he appeared in optimal constitution at work again.

Autobot civil rights, privileges of the superior, paragraph 34 b.

The Department of Science awaited his report.

Breems later, he returned to his own office just to see his chair taken.

"Jazz", he greeted coolly. "What can I do for you?"

With a grin the saboteur leaned forward and braced his elbows on the desk. "Hey, come on, can't I visit my friends now and then?"

"We are not friends."

The grin vanished as if it had never been there. "Of course not. I'm here because of my two agents. What's up with the rescue mission?"

He had not forgotten this mission request, had calculated everything multiple times. "They have no critical data and we don't know their exact whereabouts or situation. A rescue is not recommended."

"You really just want to leave them there? They are being tortured and you know it!" Jazz's visor hid his optics, but even without them Prowl could see the rage of his colleague.

"Yes. But we would risk too much."

Jazz leaped to his feet. "Risk? It's an insecure outpost. They wouldn't even realize what was happening before it's too late!"

Maybe. But certainly they had increased their guards after they had found those two spies. Additionally, the possibility of a trap or an ambush existed. And how had their cover been leaked anyway? Too many unknowns to risk the lives of Autobots for it, especially as it was unknown if they were still alive or not. No, it wasn't worth it.

"I will not give permission for a rescue mission, Jazz."

Without Prowl's approval, without tactical backing, Prime would never agree to such a mission. The saboteur clenched his hands.

"Are your comrades nothing to you? Do you even know their names?"

Of course he knew their names, history and skills, just as with every other 'bot he ever gave a mission. "Moonblast and Barrel."

Against Prowl's expectations, Jazz only got angrier. His face showed his disgust.

"You know them and still you are willing to let them get tortured? Your spark must have extinguished a long time ago!"

An insult which he had heard often before... nevertheless he answered with more emphasis than needed: "I can't risk more lives."

"Sure." Jazz went around the desk and stopped in front of the tactician. "If it helps your conscience to believe that."

"It is the truth."

But the saboteur didn't seem to be listening any more. Silently, without deigning to look at Prowl, he left the room. Only the sharp hiss of the door destroyed the painful silence.

Prowl could not stop the sagging of his doorwings. Moonblast and Barrel, two additional names on a list already too long.

He sat down at his desk and continued with his work.

Orns later, he discovered that the energon distributor on his floor was broken. Without a doubt had one of the resident pranksters thought it hilarious to replace all energon with a green and bubbly substance. For better or worse, he would have to get his fuel from the rec room.

This time, he heard not only laughter, but music and many different voices, too. He hesitated, it seems like a party had just started. However, he needed energon and his tank signalled alarming levels. It would be illogical not to go in.

He stepped through the doors and into the rec room. It was as if he had stepped into a different world. Coloured lights cut through the twilight of the room, turning everything softer and less real. The room was stuffed with Autobots of which one after another saw him. The conversations slowly died out.

He could feel their optics as he walked through the crowd which divided silently in front of him. Huffer, Slicer, Kup, Grindor... No one looked into his optics. No one spoke to him. Lonely floated the beat of the music, but the party was frozen.

Silently, he took his energon cube and went back to the entrance.

No friendly gesture in this sea of Autobots. Prowl knew, he was an invader into their small, fragile world of peace and oblivion. He was unwanted.

And still, just once he wanted to be a part of the crowd and to forget...

The door closed behind him and as if the ban was lifted, conversations started anew.

… to forget that it was he who decided with calculations, facts and recommendations who lived and died. But for the other Autobots he was nothing more than a walking memory of all lost comrades, of daily missions which bore his signature and the war in general.

On the way back he met Jazz, who was apparently on this way to the party. Normally they would greet each other, exchange a few friendly words, but this time Prowl was ignored. Lost in thought he gazed after the saboteur.

Finally he forced himself to move on, overly aware deep down that he was missing the party of the vorn and probably Prime himself was invited.

Back in his office he read the newest information which had come in. Among the reports was one of a small Autobot outpost. Two corpses had been found, identification was under way.

Prowl didn't wait for results and took two forms with the header "Death Entry" from the lowest drawer. Carefully he wrote the names in and searched for the addresses of relatives:

"With our deepest regret we have to inform you..."

Someone had to do it.