Disclaimer: I do not own any of the recognized characters and settings – which is basically everything. The plot, however, is my own brainchild. I do not write for money, only for fun. No copyright infringement is intended.
Some part of the dialogue is taken directly from Transformers: Prime, season 2, episode 25 Regeneration. Not mine, don't sue.
Spoiler Warning: The first chapters will cover the last two episodes of the Transformers: Prime show. If you haven't seen them yet and do not want to be spoiled, press the back button.
Author Note: After finishing Exiles from Alex Irvine, I wondered what happened to the rest of the Autobots aboard the Ark. They never got mentioned in the show, although the novels and Transformers: Prime are supposed to be the same continuity. Therefore – especially after that dramatic season two finale of the show – my muse and I started working on combining them both.
There will be quite some G1 and movieverse influences.
This story was also greatly inspired by Fate is a Cruel Mistress by brohne. I can only recommend reading it.
Last but not least a short legend on Cybertronian time measures I use:
vorn = Cybertronian year - approx. 83 human years
orn = Cybertronian day - approx. 6.5 human days
joor = Cybertronian hour - approx. 6.5 human hours
breem = Cybertronian minute - approx. 8.3 human minutes
Enough waffling, on we go. Enjoy. :)
– chapter one –
It had been a long day – at least, that was the impression Jack had. It wasn't even mid-afternoon yet, but he was exhausted. School had been trying; two tests, a difficult experiment in physics, and endurance run in PE. Thank God there was no homework. He was looking forward to hanging out with Arcee and just relax.
He met his friends and co-conspirators at the front door. Raf was leaning against the stony banister and Miko lounged on it, looking rather bored. Jack met Raf's eyes, asking silently why they were still here; both their classes had been out earlier than his so they should have been fetched quite some time ago. That they were still here was… troubling.
Deciding to try for casual, Jack walked over and asked, "You didn't have to wait for me, guys."
Raf opened his mouth to answer but Miko was faster. "We wouldn't but had no other choice." She got up and jumped off the banister to land lightly next to him. Standing straight and turning toward him, she said, "We've been stood up."
"Eh…" Jack looked at Raf for a better explanation and the younger boy gave it freely.
"None of the bots has yet shown up."
Miko walked away, only to sit down on the stairs. She huffed in annoyance. Deciding to soothe her by giving her company, Jack sat down next to her, settling in for a wait.
Half an hour came and went, and they were still sitting on the front stairs. All their peers had long since left the school; even a few of the teachers had walked by them. They had received curious glances, and Raf's English teacher had even asked if everything was all right. "Thanks, we're okay. Don't worry, Ms. Brink. We're just waiting for a friend to pick us up who probably just lost track of time. They'll be here shortly." She didn't seem quite convinced but left them to their own devices.
Another half hour went by and there still was no bot in sight. Miko sighed deeply and put her elbows onto her knees to prop her chin into her hands. "What's taking them so long?" she complained.
While Jack shrugged, Raf said diplomatically, "Maybe they got stuck in traffic."
She snorted. "As if Bulk would allow that." She was in a crappy mood, that much was obvious. Not a moment later, she got up with a huff, walked over to the stone banister and gave it a hard kick. She winced which made her only angrier. She jumped back onto the stone banister and stomped on it.
To avoid Miko maybe attack them in her frustration, Jack pulled out his cell and dialed up Arcee. The call never got through; his display said the callee was unavailable. "Huh," he muttered while choosing the base next. To his relief, there was a ring. He was immediately picked up.
"Optimus?" Ratchet's voice came out of the speaker. He sounded hopeful even though a little tense.
"Eh, uh, no, Ratchet, it's Jack," he said before starting to ponder over why Ratchet addressed him with the Autobots' leaders name. There was no need for the medic to assume it was Optimus who called unless… "Is something wrong?" he asked. "'Cause school's been up for almost an hour and no one showed to pick us up." If the bots were out on a mission, they would of course be unable to fetch them from school.
Confirming his thoughts, Ratchet replied, "That is because the entire team is rather… indisposed at the moment." He sounded a little hesitant. "I suggest you obtain an alternate method of transport."
Miko was getting sick of waiting. She jumped back off the banister and, getting into his personal space, asked, "What's he saying?" without bothering to tone it down.
Jack tried to lay her off. "Eh, the bots are busy."
She of course was having none of being getting rid of. "Then tell Ratchet to come get us. It's not like he has anything else to do!" she said loudly enough so that the medic most likely heard her on the other end of the line.
When the bot replied, he sounded crabby. "Just go home. I'll be in touch later." The line fell dead.
"Eh, hello?" Jack asked, surprised. When no answer came, he pulled the cell away from his ear with a sigh. So Ratchet had indeed heard her. "He hung up," he told the other two. He's probably disgruntled at Miko's attitude, Jack thought. I'd be too if it were me she spoke about like that.
The girl in question seemed oblivious that she had hurt the medic. "What crawled up his tailpipe and diode?"
Ignoring her, Raf asked him, "Did Ratchet tell you what's going on?"
"No," was the only reply he could give. Darkly, he added, "They seem to be keeping us in the dark a lot lately." And whilst he could understand that there were some things they better not knew, it still hurt that their friends would willingly not share information.
Miko grumbled and crossed her arms in front of her chest. "Great, and now?"
Putting away his cell and grabbing his school bag, Jack stood. "Guess we have to walk home. It's too far to get to the base on our own." Raf nodded and stood too, but Miko kept arguing.
"We can't just walk away like that. What if they do come here and not find us waiting for them? They'll worry."
Raf turned toward her and asked, "Don't you think that if they could, they would have shown up by now?" From his tone it was obvious he worried about his friends as much as Jack and Miko but was trying to not show it.
Finally, even Miko had to admit defeat. "Great," she muttered and sighed. She then fell into brooding silence.
Since they all lived in the same approximate direction from school, they set off together toward home. Raf and Jack walked side by side without speaking, and Miko trotted after them. That the boys didn't speak with each other was nothing bothersome, but Miko's continued silence worried Jack. For her to keep her mouth shut this long, something was wrong. He was about to turn around and ask what her problem was when he heard a car approaching. He halted. Out of the corner of his eyes he saw Raf stop too, looking up hopefully; the sound of the engine was the one of a racer. Maybe Bumblebee had made it at last.
Instead of their friend, it was a silver and red sports car careening around the corner before heading right for them – without giving any sign of slowing down. "What the –?" Jack muttered before grabbing Raf and pulling him backward. They stumbled into Miko, but before she could start ranting, the familiar sound of transformation reached their ears.
They stared up at the Decepticon medic in surprise.
"Hello, hello," Knockout purred, "who do we have here?" He crouched down and reached for them.
Spinning around, Jack shouted, "Run!" But they were never even able to take a single step forward.
Because directly in front of them towered Soundwave's silent form. They hadn't even heard his approach. Before Jack could form a coherent thought, Megatron's communication officer reached out and grabbed him. Miko started screaming, the tone pitching higher still when she too was grabbed. Raf tried running but was picked up by Knockout unceremoniously. He didn't go without a fight; he boxed at the fingers holding him.
Narrowing the red optics, Knockout demanded, "Stop making such a ruckus!" and proceeded to shake the hand holding Raf up and down. Miko screamed again, in horror, while Raf started to look sick.
To his surprise, Soundwave stopped the medic; one of his tentacles slung itself around the wrist and arm, preventing further movement. Knockout glared up at the silent mech, but retaliation was delayed when a groundbridge opened next to them. Soundwave let go of the medic and, without a backward glance, stepped into the groundbridge, not waiting for the other to follow.
Before they arrived at the other end, Jack locked eyes with Miko; they were both scared, though he could still detect defiance radiating from her. Not a moment later, when she obviously overcame the first shock, she started to loudly cuss them out with things like "Let go, you overgrown rust bucket" or "Are you so weak that you have to take it out on children?" Jack marveled at the girl's tenaciousness but also feared for her safety if the 'cons decided she wasn't worth it.
As if to prove him true, the Decepticon medic appeared at Soundwave's side and peered down at the girl. "Quite a foul mouth you have," he said and reached out with a finger to tap her on the head. "What bad manners that brute taught you."
Growling at him, Miko spit back, "Just you wait. Bulk will hand you your aft."
Grinning, Knockout replied, "That I'll have to see."
Their conversation was cut short when they arrived aboard the Decepticon warship – because where else would the bridge lead? Soundwave and Knockout met up with Starscream who had been waiting for them. "Do you have them?" he asked his comrades.
"It was easy," Knockout said and held out his fist with Raf. Soundwave didn't reply, only held his arms out, presenting Jack and Miko.
The Seeker smirked predatorily. "So we meet again," he said ominously before stepping aside and giving way to what looked like three gas tanks, only made out of glass. Soundwave and Knockout walked over and immediately dumped them into those, each within one tank. Miko of course didn't go silently, lashing out with the most insulting curses she could come up with. Starscream was only laughing, enjoying her fury and baiting her even more. When he eventually said, "Now you truly look like the pets you are," his smirk was still in place. He gestured at Knockout to seal the tanks; the caps came with handles. Before Jack could speculate why that was – or what the Decepticons wanted with them –, his tank was picked up by the Seeker, answering him all questions before they even arose.
Their way led down a long hallway before ending on the top deck. Jack's eyes widened in surprise when he realized they were in outer space – and that the Nemesis was stationary next to the spacebridge orbiting the moon. It was already activated, and the three Decepticons walked toward it. For a moment Jack wondered how a non-flyer like Knockout would cross the distance, but when the three 'cons arrived at the deck's end, he saw they only needed to jump and would land on the spacebridge construction's edge. They then did just that –
– and almost instantly arrived on the planet Jack had secretly been dying to visit again, though never again under dire circumstances.
Head bobbing rhythmically to a beat only he could hear, Jazz lounged on the chair. He had his pedes propped up on the console and the chair tipped back on its back legs. His arms were crossed behind his head. Monitor duty was a dull task, but with a little music, it was much more agreeable. At least in Jazz's view. There was one bot who didn't share his sentiments at all and forbade any form of 'distraction' during shifts, giving Jazz the impression he was aiming to offline the saboteur from boredom. Thank Primus it was the graveyard shift and the bot in question was in recharge, which meant he was unable to berate Jazz for not following orders.
When the door to the command center swished open, Jazz didn't bother scanning for the spark signature. He knew it was just Sideswipe coming to relieve him from his shift. The frontliner was a couple of breems too early which was practically unheard of, but Jazz didn't spend another bit of processor power on the thought.
He should have bothered because when the other bot suddenly said, "You call that monitor duty?" Jazz jumped, startled, making the chair topple backwards and loudly crash onto the command center's deck.
Groaning, Jazz untangled himself from the chair before looking up at the bot standing over him. "Hiya, Prowler," he then greeted his commanding officer with a sheepish smile.
Prowl wasn't amused. "How often do have I to tell you to not call me 'Prowler'?" he asked flatly.
Jazz shrugged, moved into a sitting position and dusted his shoulderplates off. When he looked up again at the white-and-black Praxian, he said, "Shouldn't ya be in recharge? It's way ta early for ya ta be here."
"Having now seen how you spend your shifts of monitor duty, ignoring my orders, I'm glad I couldn't cycle down and came here instead."
Acting a hurt expression, Jazz replied, "Ya wound meh."
"Not my problem," was the immediate comeback before the tactician walked over to the communications console. They were waiting for a message from their Prime and his team, but so far, none had come. However, Prowl didn't seem to be looking at the message relay. His optics were narrowed while he stared off toward the radar.
Pursing his mouthplates, Jazz quit fooling around and stood up. He could read the tactician like no other, and from what he saw he knew the bot was all tense. "What is it?" he asked.
Prowl pointed at the sensor console without looking in his direction. "Run a deep-range sensor scan," he said.
Walking over to where he was directed, he asked, "Care ta tell meh why?"
"Just do it."
Venting a sigh, Jazz set to work. He would pry answers out of Prowl later. Right now, he had a job to do. He connected to the systems that immediately flared to live and powered them up quickly. He pulled up the proper protocols and then set the sensors loose. It didn't even take two breems before the results came back in. There was nothing out of the ordinary, except –
"Ya knew it, didn't ya?" Jazz asked, staring in surprise at the screen displaying the high energy reading the sensors had recorded. When he looked up, he met the intense stare of the tactician right in front of him. He hadn't even noticed Prowl leaving the communications console and walking over to him.
The Praxian nodded. "Let's say I… had a hunch." He pointed toward the screen displaying the scan results before Jazz could comment. "How far?"
Jazz angulated their position and let Teletraan-1 do the rest of the math. "One quadrant over," he eventually said. "A star system on the outer Orion Spur. We should be able ta cross the distance in hyperspace in less than half a joor." Suddenly realizing something, he stiffened, his head snapping up. "That's where Prime went with his team," he croaked.
Prowl remained silent for a moment, staring out of the bridge's front window, then nodded. "Yes. And I believe they are in need of help."
"But we never received any message! For all we know we walk right into a trap of the pirates. It could be their active spacebridge we detected."
His expression hardening with resolve, Prowl replied, "I know. Still, it's our duty to check it out. If something happened to Prime and the others, we'd be foolish to not back them up when they need it most." He paused, as if waiting for Jazz to shoot off a comeback, but the smaller bot didn't know what to say in response. Prowl therefore continued, "I want all hands on deck immediately. We have a new mission."
Jazz ambled over to the communications console, but before he punched the button to alert the crew, he asked, "What if it's not the pirates' spacebridge and they're still behind us? They will follow us before long."
"We'll deal with them once it comes to it. Now wake the others."
It was a testimony to their effectiveness: only five breems after Jazz woke them all, everybot was at their designated station and briefed about their new mission. Before long, the Ark's powerful engines rumbled to life and the ship started to move forward, away from the ice planet they had orbited the last three solar cycles. Prowl stood in the middle of the command center and issued orders that were immediately followed.
Jazz in the meantime did what he did best: keeping out of Prowl's line of sight. He worked on mission plans on how to best help Prime and his team. If only he knew how to factor in an active spacebridge – especially when not knowing who controlled it.
"Now's a good time for that hyperspace engine to properly function, Perce," Sideswipe suddenly muttered, sounding tense, pulling Jazz out of his musings.
"Have a little faith in him," Blaster said cheerfully from where he sat at the radar console. "He's the best."
Despite his efforts to stay out of sight, Prowl always seemed to know where Jazz was and what he was doing. The tactician joined him before long and murmured, "You might need these scenarios for your plans." He lightly held out his arm, the cover for the hardline connector already removed.
Jazz didn't hesitate; he pulled out a cable and plugged in, swiftly downloading what simulations the other bot's battle computer had come up with before disconnecting them again. The data he integrated smoothly fell into place with the plans he had so far devised, but Jazz saw things a little clearer now and relaxed a little. He nodded at Prowl who then said to the command center at large, "Prepare for hyperspace."