Name of series: This is war
Chapter four: Part A. The song with no name. The beginnig of the end.
Characters: Prowl, Jazz, Ironhide, Optimus Prime, Ratchet
Summary: Prowl and Jazz are the best Special Operations team Cybertron has ever seen. Only one problem – they can't stand each other. Can the war unite them?
Warnings: Swearing, violence
Disclaimer: TF doesn't belong to me and I don't use this for profit. Only the game of Treck belongs to me.
AN: The song is "Again" by Yui. Thank you gracesolo for the beta and silberstreif for the help!
Vorn- Cybertronian year, deca cycle – month, meta cycle – week, orn – day, breem –minute, click – second. In all of my stories I use this format.
I will pursue this dream, 'cause I know it's expected
that I be serene
Upon this winding road, in the face of the crowds that bustle all around
Although it seems like I am chasing after the past, what I want is place where the sky is alive and like home to me
Please to try to understand the truth
That this is no choice
And I wish you'd stop with that look
You're giving me
"I always knew…" Jazz murmured, voice barely above a whisper as his visor drained of color, "Always knew you'd be th'death of me…" A smile formed on his face even as energon dripped from his lips.
Prowl stared in horror at the energon sword clutched in his own servos, Jazz's energon staining them both. As if Jazz's voice snapped him back to reality, Prowl quickly let go of the weapon and distanced himself from Jazz, the sword point emerging from Jazz's back plates trembled as Jazz crumpled to the ground, slipping from Prowl's numb grip as energon pooled under him.
Tears are nothing but the shape of our weakness
And they won't bring any absolution
I do not see an end to this labyrinth
Who am I waiting for-
I write it down in the pages of my notebook
'Cause I'm looking for the me that is still honest
I am running but I don't even know why
From this reality
=Several Meta cycles earlier=
Ironhide subtly observed the recreation room as he drank from his energon. It was slow in here, not many mechs scattered around the room. It was the only time of the Orn that they were there. Ironhide lifted his cube to take a sip as he focused his attention on the two figures.
Prowl and Jazz were lounging on a table, a game of Treck spread before them. The room was quiet and the Autobots SIC didn't need to strain his audios to hear what they were saying, it was plenty loud enough for any who were in the rec room to hear. It was both amusing and intriguing how they communicated with each other. They would snark, curse, argue and even fight with each other and yet, it did not posses the menace it did almost 50 vorns ago when they met. It had become just another form of routine for them. One that was slowly ebbing away as time passed.
"Slag, slag, slag!" Ironhide had to smirk at Jazz's comical face, glaring daggers at the 3D game board in front of him as Prowl ate three quarters of his defenses.
Prowl sighed, "Jazz, you play this game the same way as you fight – barbarically reckless. It doesn't work that way."
"Mute it, it's worked so far, hasn't it?" Jazz moved some of his pieces in attack formation, wanting to scatter Prowl's forces.
The tactician however, gave him an unamused look, "Try counting the times you visited the med bay, you brute."
Prowl ignored the next set of curses Jazz let out as he effortlessly stopped his attack and reduced the saboteur's forces once more.
"This is a game about unity." Prowl took pity on him, not that he would ever admit that out loud, and started to explain, "Each piece has either one or more partners. Never separate them otherwise on their own, they are useless. Now, take a look at your battle field." Prowl gestured with his hand, "Do you notice haw they are scattered all over the place? Easy targets."
"Yeah, but they're all over yer field, if I maneuver them right, I would take out yer core." Jazz explained and Ironhide kept watching with growing interest. They certainly didn't act this way the last time he observed them.
Their last mission had obviously changed them, whatever it had entailed. Before, even Ironhide as a keen SIC had trouble reading the black and white pair, now anyone with working optics could see that the pair was able to work together without fighting. But the weapons specialist was so focused on the change in behavior that he didn't actually see the subcontext to the game at all.
"Even if I let you in my forces, yours are left defenseless by singles. It is very easy for me to infiltrate and destroy the core. Look at my battlefield and ignore for a moment your pieces in it. Do you notice something?"
Jazz's visor brightened as he leaned over the board, "None of them are singles."
Ironhide nearly dropped his cube as he saw the subtle smile on Prowl's face. He was brought out of his thoughts by someone comming him, slightly alarmed by the secure frequency being used.
::Ironhide here.:: He answered immediately recognizing the caller, ::What is it, Prahm?:: Optimus was one of his closest friends and the only reason he trusted Prowl and Jazz on the battlefield was because Prime trusted them. But lately, their Prime was more than distracted, barricading himself in his office. Ironhide, not only as SIC, but as a friend as well, had asked multiple times what was he planning. He knew Optimus too well not to notice that the Prime was contemplating action on something serious.
::I need you to gather the following mechs and arrange for a meeting, security level one, as soon as possible.:: Ironhide straightened in his seat, not liking the tone in Prime's voice.
Security level one was the highest lever there is. It was mostly reserved for Spec. Ops meetings and briefings, but there were some exeptions. It was on meetings like these that the fates of wars were decided.
Absently, he heard Jazz cursing somewhere in the background, ::Something, th'matter Prahm?::
::I'll explain everything in time, Ironhide.:: And he believed his Prime. If Optimus said that he'll explain later, then Ironhide will wait. So he set Prime's order in to motion.
It was a couple of orns later that Ironhide approached the black and white pair.
Like usual during the slow hour, the two of them were in the rec room. The unusual thing was that they were playing Treck again.
"Again," Prowl said annoyed, "Use this," He tapped with a claw Jazz's helm, "Not this." Now he tapped his chest, right above the spark chamber.
Ironhide had to stop and simply gap at the two of them. From weird, it was getting weirder.Did the two of them even realize how they were acting? Ironhide shook his head. If this had happened a couple of vorns ago, Prowl would have probably lost his arm. But several vorns ago, Prowl wouldn't even attempt to play Treck with Jazz.
"Fight with CPU, not spark." Jazz sighed, "I know, I know. But ya gotta admit, my emotions come in handy during sparring, right?" Jazz was smart, but he knew Prowl was smarter, but what Prowl lacked, Jazz strived in it. Prowl could never compare to Jazz's free spirit.
::I used to play this with my little brother in the Crystal Gardens in Praxus.:: Prowl said off handedly through the comm line frequency that the two of them shared as partners, surprising Jazz completely.
::Ya have a brother?::
Prowl smirked, ::You never asked.:: But his smile vanished, ::I have no idea if he's still alive. He just got upgraded in his younglings frame when I signed up for the Autobots.::
Jazz nodded as he made another move that Prowl completely obliterated.
::I'm…:: Jazz started, not really good at giving condolences, ::Sorry.::
::He was young, but he was good at the game. After all, I taught him.::
Now it Jazz's turn to smirk, "Arrogant, aren't you?" He spoke out loud.
"Maybe a little."
::We should stop by Praxus if our next mission passes by it.:: Prowl added offhandedly.
::Oh, I thought it's not the same as it used to be.:: Jazz gazed at the 3D board, contemplating his next move.
::It's not.:: Prowl gave a nod of approval when Jazz made the right move, ::But it's still Praxus, still home. Like I said, the Gardens may not be in perfect shape but they are still none like them in all Cybertron.::
::I've seen the ones in Iacon, though I don't know if they are still there.::
Now Prowl snorted, "Please,", ::Those cheep imitations could never compare.:: He glanced at Jazz, ::You've been to Iacon? I thought you were created at the beginning of the war?::
::I was,:: Jazz glared when Prowl again ate some of his pieces, ::And that's th'main reason – not safe for a younglin' to stay in one place fer too long.:: Jazz's face darkened.
::Where exactly are you from Jazz?:: Prowl asked, truly curious. Jazz's accent could have been acquired later in his upbringing, so it didn't tell much.
"To be honest, I have no fraggin' clue." Jazz muttered. ::The place I've spent my earliest vorns is Polyhex, but other then that, I could have been sparked and created anywhere.::
::It is…hard for me to picture you as a youngling.:: Prowl said, changing Jazz's train of thoughts.
::Oh, I was the spawn of Unicron, let me tell you.:: Jazz grinned, mischievous shining in his visor.
::Somehow, I'm not surprised.:: Prowl deadpanned, but he knew that for a youngling to survive the streets when a war was waging on, some horrible things must have been witnessed and experienced.
Ironhide decided he had seen enough and approached the two.
::We have company.:: Prowl said, optics not leaving the 3D board.
"So, who's winnin'?" Just before Ironhide could place his servo on Jazz, the saboteur gripped the hand, denting it.
Prowl simply stilled, wings flaring wide, optics narrowing as his battle programming partly flared to life. Both black and whites said nothing, waiting for Ironhide to act.
Ironhide ignored the hand gripping his own, "Prime wants ta see ya." Straight to the point.
The Spec Ops agent regarded him completely. "Why not simply comm. us?" Jazz spoke, both of their EMF held painfully tight around themselves.
Ironhide simply shrugged, "Does it really matter? C'mon. Meeting starts now."
Ironhide pulled his now dented servo away and crossed his arms waiting for them to get up. He wasn't surprised they were so defensive. He would be surprised if they weren't.
"What is this about?" Prowl finally asked as he saved the game and put the board away.
"To be honest, Ah have no fraggin' clue." Ironhide started to lead them out of the rec room knowing that they would not trust him with their backs. He sighed and hoped that whatever Prime has planned, it better be good.
Back then you always could accept the things I'd done
And you're still the same today so I'll try not to burden you
But try to realize that I have closed my eyes
Just because the world is too harsh
And I'm willing to blind myself
The silence in the room was deafening, tension filling the air trying to suffocate the five mechs in it. No one moved as the words spoken earlier still left an uneasy feeling all around them. The darkness in the office seemed to reflect perfectly the mood that was set, as optics pierced the blackness. And like all things, the silence came to an end.
"You are serious?" Jazz muttered, the sentence bordering between a question and a statement.
Prowl's voice was barely above a whisper, as his wings silently rose and his optics narrowed, "Fool."
"Perhaps," Optimus Prime started, "And yet, we need to see the bigger picture, for the good of Cybertron. This needs to succeed."
"'If' Prime, don't forget the big 'if'." Ratchet did not look happy.
"Let meh get this strait." Ironhide frowned from his seat, "Ya want to… to eliminate the Autbots High Council? Ha! Ratch' I think ya better perform a scan. Prahm's obviously not feelin' well."
"Don't tempt me." Ratchet muttered as he glared at thier leader.
"Do not think lightly of me." Primes spoke, optics narrowing and frown growing, "I have thought this through. But I can't accomplish this alone. I need your help." He gestured to the four mechs before him, "All of you." Optimus paused letting his words sink in.
Suddenly, Jazz started to laugh. "Yer crazy." His visor brightened, "Hahaha, the Prime suggested just now to eliminate the Council, hahaha, mech you are crazier then I gave ya credit for."
Jazz's dark humor was showing again, even though they were in the presence of their Prime. Both Ironhide and Ratchet looked at Prowl and Jazz, wondering again how Optimus could find it so easy to trust those two. Perhaps it came with being as a Prime, perhaps not, since it took their leader so long to see the corruption in their ranks and the High Command. Whatever it was, Prime was obviously seeing, or rather feeling, something they weren't.
"Do you honestly think that it will be that easy?" Prowl asked, his voice slightly mocking of the Prime's naivety of how things really worked. He narrowed his optics and continued, "The council may be made up of the worst stuck up afts, but they are smart. They know that any one of us Ops mechs could easily take them all out. That's why they installed 'fail-safes' in each of us." At this, Jazz growled, a low animalistic sound, but Prowl continued undisturbed, "They are not so easy to bypass, otherwise Jazz and I would have taken care of it ourselves and the Council, as well." The darkness behind those words was truly chilling and Prowl paused, letting the seriousness of his words sink in.
"These blocks are infused with our core programming and the wrong tweak can do the worst kind of damage, up to and including a complete core memory reformat." The mechs in the room cringed at that.
"And that is just one obstruction in our way." Jazz glared, "Have you even contemplated the consequences such a radical move would bestow, not just on political but moral level, as well. I'm sure ya don't want th' army splittin', boss bot."
"I... never knew." Prime stared at his two soldiers. How much has been going on behind his back all this time?
"Of course you wouldn't. Jazz tried once to delete it himself, but the fool got himself admitted to the medbay in critical condition not long after." Ratchet could be heard snorting at that.
Jazz smiled sweetly at Prowl, even if the smile had something hysterical about it.
"Call me a fool, one more time," Jazz growled, ignoring the Prime's concerned glance.
"Even if we help you," Ratchet started, "Form a team if you will, how do you expect this to play out? Surely you realize that we are speaking about the Council."
"We have all the necessary tools at our disposal." Prime looked at each one them, "We have a medic – someone who we could rely on if something happens," He gestured to Ratchet, "The Autobots SIC, Ironhide, having all sorts of access in all the right places and not to mention my oldest friend - someone who I could trust my with my spark." Prime nodded at Ironhide, "And then we have Cybertron's two best Ops agents." He gazed at the two black and whites, "I think it is time you broke free from this curse they cast upon you."
Prime stood up from the table and went to its far end, looking at everyone in the room, considering his next words carefully.
"I know about your last mission." Optimus didn't notice the curious looks from both Ironhide and Ratchet, but focused on the spies in the room.
"At ease. I will not use this against you," Prime was quick to clarify, seeing how both black and whites tensed. The changes were minuscule and would have probably been missed if one didn't know where to look. But Prime did. He noticed how Prowl's wings, usually held so rigidly still, rose just a tiny bit showing his emotions, and Jazz's visor had brightened in the slightest amount.
"You…" Jazz started, visor draining of color, "You knew what they were doing and you let them go forward with that plan unchallenged!" Jazz stood up and smashed his clawed hands on the table, engine revving hard.
Prowl wasn't looking any better, "Some Prime you turned out to be. You wield the Matrix of Leadership and yet they have power over you." Prowl mocked, trying to hide his anger.
"Now wait just one slaggin' click!" Ironhide frowned, canons charging, "Ah have no idea what the Council did, or what sort of influence they have over Prime, but if Optimus did nothing, then he sure as Pit probably had some darn good reason about it!"
"Oh, like what?" Jazz sneered, "Too much of a coward to actually say somethin'?"
"If he had said something, anything," Prowl continued, "The public, the army – everyone would have supported their Prime."
"And he would accomplish what exactly?" Ratchet added his thoughts on the subject, "If we publicly expose the Council for what they are it would undoubtfuly cause a stir in the already unstable population."
Jazz was about to say something else but Prime beat him to it, "If I did that, then the Council would have simply be replaced per law. How can we be sure that the next one would be any different?"
"Then how can you be sure that after we assassinate the current one it will not be replaced as well?" Prowl asked, his battle computer activated for the first time in maximum capacity.
"They won't." Certainty clear in Prime's words.
Ironhide nodded at that, "Ah agree, fear could be a powerful ally used th'right way."
Prime pulled out a data pad and plugged it to the table. A 3D file loaded. Nine columns formed, each containing mech info on the Council members and on the Council as a whole.
"When I started this research, I wasn't surprised about the little info we have on them." Prime started, "Location: Praxus," He pulled up Praxus map, the light reflecting on the serious expressions on every mech in the room.
"The Grand Hall is where they do their meetings. The plan is simple – infiltrate and plant a bomb in it."
"That's it?" Rathed asked surprised. He may not be battle trained and yet he knew the plan was to blatant, simple – black and white. "But what about the civilians?"
"That will be Ironhide's job. To make sure that the building will be evacuated and only the members would be in it." Ironhide nodded.
"Prowl, Jazz – you will infiltrate and plant the explosives. That is all I ask of you regarding the mission. I'm not going to risk them activating their fail safes."
"First," Prowl started, "We never said we agreed to help you. And second – again you underestimate them. If it was that easy: plant a bomb and run away, we would have already done it. The very moment we activate a weapon against them the coding activates and stops us."
"The only reason," Jazz piped in, "That we are even able to hold this conversation is because I was able to write a separate set of coding that isolates the original one. It blows that it can only do that. Whoever wrote that fraggin' fail safe," And this he grumbled out, "Is a slaggin' genius."
"Ratchet?" Prime looked at the medic.
The white and red bot was less then amused, "When have you heard of an Ops agent showing his coding to a medic? I haven't," He deadpanned, "Have you?"
"We're not suicidal." Jazz smirked.
"Fagging paranoid is what you are!" Ratchet glared at them.
"And with good reason." Prowl said and look at Prime, "Prime, sir, can we discus this in private?"
The Prime regarded the door winger and after a brief hesitation allowed that, dismissing for now Ironhide and Ratchet.
"What exactly do you know… about us?" Prowl started, right to the point, "About our missions?"
"I admit – not much. The missions regarding Special Operation were, still are, being handled by the Council. It was by brief accident that I even discovered your last mission."
Jazz and Prowl's faces darkened. "We shouldn't have obeyed it like that." Jazz said at last.
"It's not like you had a choice." Prime stopped himself, was he…defending them?
"There is always a choice, Prime." Prowl answered, admission and accusation all too clear to Optimus. Optimus briefly wondered if there were more missions of this caliber, but a part of him didn't want to know. The Prime didn't need more proof of how badly he is handling his position as a leader.
A silence formed, no one knowing what to say exactly. Jazz suddenly stood up from his seat and headed towards Prime's desk.
Jazz activated the device, "You play Treck, Prime?" He eyed the set that was waiting to be played.
"I do." Prime watched how Prowl went to stand next to Jazz. The visored mech picked up a piece. It was a strong one, since it only had one partner.
The game of Treck was simple, yet complex in its own way. There were two players, each with their own core. The rest of the pieces were either in pairs, triples, quadruplets and such. There wasn't a single piece in the entire game. And that was the foundation of the game. The stronger the piece, the less partners it had and the other way around – the weaker the piece the more partners it held. This game is often used as a form of a military practice to develop teamwork so when on battlefield a soldier never to be alone. And the main goal is to capture and/or destroy the core of your opponent. Each core consists of nine pieces. Once it is destroyed, the game is over.
::Are ya sure ya want to play this game, Prowler?:: Jazz fiddled with the piece in his servos.
::When I play, I play to win.::
::And if you lose?::
Prowl looked at Jazz, ::There is nothing left for me to lose.::
::Then don't hold back, partner.:: Jazz placed his piece in attack formation, Prowl smirking at his move as the door winger lifted the partner of the played piece and placed it right next to it.
Optimus watched how the two black and whites conversed with each other. It was a difficult task for them – trusting someone else rather then just themselves. They would give him their answer, he just hoped that it was the right one. Because he wasn't feeling like the righteous leader he believed he was. Prime sent a prayer to Primus, asking for guidance.
::I didn't plan to.::
The game flared to life as the pieces were activated. This was just the beginning.
To chase my wishes I'll carry on living
And I will always remember the depths of the darkness
I'll face my demons and I'll no longer run away
There isn't a place to go
I'll lose this feeling of being so helpless
'Cause my whole life is ahead of me
I'll quash the numbness
'Cause pain's better than the emptiness