So here is the promised look into the future, what Prowl and Jazz are doing. :)
Disclaimer: Transformer belongs to Hasbro and others.
In a future far, far away (or Run, little one)
"Run, run, little one! Can't fly, can't speed, just run, run, slow one!"
With a sob, he did run as fast as his pedes would carry him, but the jeering, laughing youngling group was always behind him. They already had their altmodes, all of them sleek and beautiful, and rather sooner than later they would catch up with Lightstrike as they had caught up two orns previously and the orns before that. He just couldn't forget the pitying and concerned looks of his creators when he had come home dented and beaten up. His sire had quietly offered fighting lessons, while his carrier had cited laws that forbid exactly this behaviour. But no one would put a dozen younglings into a prison.
He stumbled in his hurry, and the song behind him was interrupted by a wave of mocking laughter that was suddenly so near. "So he can't even run!"
Lightstrike caught himself and gritted his denta. Before him, the street led to the city centre where many more mechs were, but he realised that he wouldn't reach the safety of the adult masses in time. His gaze flickered to the smaller alleys that led away from the main street on both sides. They were smaller and darker, but also often cluttered with barriers which would hinder the other younglings. If they all were on pedes, hewould've stood a chance. A small one but a chance... He reached the next alley, and before he could doubt his decision, he took a sharp turn to the right, not stopping his running in the slightest.
Behind him he could hear engines stutter and brakes squeak. Lightstrike smiled a bit, his imagination giving him a picture of all of his yearmates being piled up. It would serve them right.
But far too soon, he heard the same engines behind him again.
"Stop, scrap mech! Or you'll regret it!" screamed their leader, now obviously angry.
Lightstrike had the distinct feeling that they wouldn't treat him any differently if he stopped or was caught, and forced himself to run even faster. His pistons ached already and his systems were overheating. But he had to lose them.
He dived into the next alley on the left, then the very next on the right. The alleys were becoming narrower and darker. Instead of being completely alight, there were now just lamps every few metres and the ground had obviously not been polished in ages. Lightstrike didn't care – the younglings behind him had become even quieter. Were they giving up?
He choose another few alleys by chance, and noticed that the area was becoming dirtier and poorer. Rust covered the ground and on a few walls below the now rare lamps he could even make out craters. Was this still war damage? He had to avoid a few trash and scrap heaps, and Lightstrike realised that he hadn't seen anymech in a while.
He became slower, looking around. Where was he?
"There you are, rust processor!" snarled a familiar voice behind him suddenly. "Get him guys!"
His panic flared anew and he started running again. Only three now were behind him, but they were the biggest, meanest few of the bunch.
He ran again, but everything was hurting now. His engine was stuttering from exhaustion, but stopping meant even more pain and the looks of his creators and so he kept running. And the other younglings always behind him.
A sob escaped him. Why wouldn't they just leave him alone? He hadn't done anything. Did he really deserve this, just because he didn't have a standard frame? He hadn't asked to be a hovercraft.
The alley blurred as static burst through his vocaliser. He wanted to be just left alone and learn, nothing more!
"Hey, shiny, careful here," said a smooth voice suddenly and hands grabbed his shoulders, bringing him to an abrupt stop. "In a hurry?"
He looked up at the mech he nearly ran into. He was dark silver with small Praxian doorwings on the back and a white visor. A friendly smile graced the face. Lightstrike opened his mouth, but his engine raced so much that his vocaliser couldn't form any words, so he just stood there mortified and gaping.
"He has to be in that alley!" screamed a voice.
The stranger looked up and to the way were Lightstrike had come from. "Ah, I understand, you're in trouble with your friends, I guess."
"Not... my friends..." he forced out. Those idiots would never be his friends.
"Okay, but you're in trouble." The friendly smile got wider. "I think then, we should hide you before the wrong kind of mechs find you here."
Lightstrike frowned. On one hand, he was thankful for the offer; on the other hand, this was a stranger and 'the wrong kind of mechs' didn't really sound good at all. But the other mech didn't give him the chance to decide for himself. He put a hand between his small wings and pushed him to the side. Only now did Lightstrike see the steps that led down a dark hole, in which he could barely make out a door.
"Come on, I promise nothing will happen to you while you're with me," said the stranger, gently pushing him down the steps. "You can go at any time."
Lightstrike wanted to go now – but then he heard three engines howling and knew that this was his only chance to avoid a very painful beating. He hurried down the stairs and pushed open the door, which was so dirty that it left black smears on his hand.
A part of him was expecting the worst, but instead he found himself in a small room, filled with cables, plates and everything mechanical a mech might ever need. Lightstrike wasn't very good at engineering, but even he could see that this small room held more than its fair share of precious gems and old circuitry. A soft push at his shoulder tore him out of his stupor.
"You can step further in, you know? I still have to close the door," said the strange Praxian. "It's not much, but it's enough to hide you until they give up."
"Uh, thank you," said Lightstrike quietly. He couldn't stop to look around. Was that really a laser sword? And that thing in the corner even looked organic... and what about that thing there high up on the shelf? If he didn't know it better, he would swear that it looked like pieces of a hand...
The mech had closed the door and now walked past the youngling to the counter. "If you'd like to, you can look around. Don't get many customers these orns, they prefer the more upstanding shops uptown."
Lightstrike nodded distractedly. "I didn't even know that shops here existed..."
"Oh, they do. But we cater to mechs too poor to get things strictly legally, or well, that have reasons not to take the other ways, if you catch my drift."
His little wings twitched as his processor translated the meaning. "This is a black market shop?" he exclamained surprised.
The shopkeeper laughed. "Sure, it's one. I would say it's even one of the best black market shops around."
His carrier had always said that he should keep away from them, but well, he had also said to keep away from the whole area he was currently in and from strange overly friendly mechs. It seems this was an orn made for disobeying.
"Then you've got real illegal things here?!"
"Some," answered the silver Praxian amused. "But nothing that would put me in jail for more than a vorn."
Lightstrike's little wings shuddered as he imagined that he was standing in the middle of a shop full with stuff that could put a mech into jail. Jail! His carrier, who worked as the Head of Space Patrol, would certainly love to put this mech right there. His sire though... he saw things more relaxed. Probably a result of having been a Decepticon for all of the Great War.
"Uh oh," said the shopkeeper, suddenly tense. "That's not good."
Fear ran through Lightstrike and he turned to the door, forgetting all about the shop and his creators. "What? Have they found me? Primus, how did they find me?"
"Chill, little one," the Praxian gave him a strained smile. "It's not you that's in trouble."
Lightstrike relaxed only marginally before worry for his rescuer overcame him. He briefly wondered who or what would be able to make a black market dealer nervous and he really didn't like the answers. "Then you're in trouble, right? Is it a gang, or other criminals? Enforcers?"
The shopkeeper opened his mouth to answer, when the door sprang open and hit the wall with a bang. The shelves rattled as another imposing Praxian made his way into the shop, dark-blue wings spread wide in a posture that spoke of pure aggression.
Automatically, Lightstrike drew back to the shelves, wings pressed against them, just so that he was not in the path of the very angry looking mech.
The Praxian ignored the youngling and set his golden optics firmly on his target – the shopkeeper who raised his hands in apology: "Hey mech, I get that you're angry, but really that's not reason to come in like that..."
"Angry?" repeated the newcomer softly. "I'm furious! You promised me!"
"I did, I know, but see there was this little helpless youngling in front of my shop, hunted by a gang..."
"Right." The golden optics glided from the shopkeeper to Lightstrike, who returned the gaze terrified, completely certain that the mech would get out a gun at any moment and start shooting. "Is that him?"
"Yep," the shopkeeper said.
"And couldn't you just lead him home or to the next big street?" growled the mech.
"Would've made me late anyway."
The Praxian stared at Lightstrike as if contemplating that he was worth anything at all – then suddenly he sighed and relaxed, his wings falling back. "Still, that is the fifth time in a row you didn't come to my novel reading. I'm slowly getting the feeling you're avoiding them!"
Lightstrike's processor came to a grinding stop. Novel reading...?
The shopkeeper walked to the mech, obviously contrite. "Lover, I'm deeply sorry, you know I love the worlds you create, I just... don't find it so easy to clear my schedule."
"Really." He kissed the dark-blue Praxian on the chevron.
A snort. "You forget that we're bonded, I can feel your non-existant enthusiasm." Then, the Praxian's face showed a small, nearly hidden smile. "But I can also feel your desire to come for my sake. So I guess that evens it out."
The shopkeeper, now that he was forgiven, melted against his lover. Lightstrike blushed. "I'm fortunate to have such a forgiving and understandig bondmate..." The shopkeeper whispered and did something to his bondmate's audio, that elicted a groan out of the mech and made his wings flutter in deep enjoyment.
"Youngling," warned the novel writer anyway.
"Of course," chuckled the shopkeeper, but didn't change his position.
With a sigh, the newcomer disentangled himself from his bondmate and looked at Lightstrike, who couldn't help but partly wish that they would've just forgotten about him.
"What's your designation, youngling? And the designations of your creators, so we can tell them that you're alright."
His creators. Right. Who were probably half out of their processors already with worry, because he was way past every common excuse of being late. "Oh yes, I'm Lightstrike and my creators are Ultra Magnus and Thundercracker."
Both of them stared at him and Lightstrike's wings twitched in annoyance. Of course, they recognised the designations. Everyone did! Ultra Magnus, the famous Space Patrol Enforcer, and Thundercracker, one of the Decepticon elite and part of the lead trine, second to Starscream – and together they had been named the unlikeliest pair on Cybertron by the 'People's magazine' three times in a row. Yep, they were known and famous. Just his problem that he wasn't sleek and enticing like his sire, or impressive and powerful like his carrier. No, the codes had decided that he was to become a slow, bumbling along hovercraft. It had probably Primus' idea of a joke to let an Autobot truck and Decepticon seeker fall in love and bond.
Fortunately, before he could voice a bitter comment, the two Praxians had recovered.
"Well then, we really should send them a message soon. Between those two, we'll have a full city-wide search in less than two joors going on," said the shopkeeper amused. "Do you still have their numbers, lover?"
Now it was Lightstrike's turn to be surprised. "You know them?"
"Met them a long time ago, yes," answered the shopkeeper, while his bondmate's gaze became unfocused for a moment, then he became normal again and said:
"I've sent them a message over the normal network, they'll receive a notification immediately."
"Why didn't you comm them if you have their numbers?" asked Lightstrike. Messages were normally for unimportant things like bills or so, not for personal interactions between mechs.
"You'll know some orn," answered the shopkeeper. "But now we should bring you back to the highway." He opened the door and mocked bow. "After you, gentlemechs."
As it turned out, the highway was less than two alley turns away, but Lightstrike was still reasonably sure that he wouldn't have found it without any help. At the side of the well-lit highway with many mechs and where nothing hinted at black market stores just a wrench throw away, he felt relief. He was well and safe again. Then, he looked back towards his rescuer and his bondmate and felt a bit embarrassed by how he had mistrusted and feared them in the beginning:
"Thank you for your help. I'm sure that my creators will want to thank you as well..."
"Naw, not necessary," said the shopkeeper, and did he really still not know their designations? "It's what every citizen would do. After all, we all are one, right?"
The old slogan that somehow had become a well-known saying over the last vorns, staying for solidarity and – as his creators had explained – for their New Age of Peace.
"Yeah, sure we are..." He just couldn't quite believe that every black market store keeper would've helped him, but he only said: "Still, thank you, really. Can I have at least your designations? I promise that my creator will not put you into a cell or anything..."
The novel writer's doorwings twitched in amusement. "That's not what we're worried about, Lightstrike."
"Not at all," the shopkeeper shrugged. "If you want to tell them something, tell them that Meister said hi, yes?"
What a strange designation. "Meister, okay." He looked expectantly at Meister's bondmate, but that one only shook his helmet.
"I did nothing to help you, you will not need my name."
Lightstrike was fairly sure that his creators would see that differently, but he didn't dare to pester him further. Instead he nodded, thanked them again and transformed to enter the highway at his highest speed – which meant that he hovered just fast enough to still be allowed to use the highway.
Oh well. At least, some orn, he would be able to carry weights that no one else even would think about moving. Some orn, surely, he would be the strongest!
Still, when he came home and apologised and explained what happened, he had expected much, but not the paling faces and hugs he received when he muttered the designation 'Meister'. Confused, he looked up at his sire. "You really know them, then?"
Ultra Magnus laughed, but there was more than a hint of sadness in it. "As much as one can know dead mechs."
Four joors later, Thundercracker, who had dashed off to look up that little hidden shop, came back and shook his head: "Abandoned as if there had never been anything."
Ultra Magnus sighed. "Can't say I expected anything else."
Far away on another road between cities, an engine revved playfully. ::Up for a ride?::
::Always.:: An engine answered in kind. ::You still owe me five novel readings.::
::I guess you wont forget about them?:: A gentle bump from behind underlined the request.
The other altform swerved a bit and then accelerated. The other one followed sharply. ::Never. After all, they just turned into five favours you owe me.::
::Only a bit.::
The second Praxian now drove next to his bondmate, both racing along the empty plain. ::It's not as if you're reading much at those novel readings – you write sparkling novels!::
::Very good sparkling novels,:: was the dignified answer, bond full of amusement. ::My audience loves me.::
Light laughter. ::That they do. Good thing that they can't run around alone, or you would've had thousands of tiny stalkers and I would be a very jealous mech indeed.::
::I really do not need protection from sparklings,:: said his partner. ::Though I was contemplating a switch to a genre that would make certain that you'll come to my readings... after all, I remember that you liked erotica sometimes.::
::Prowl!:: spluttered the other one, ::You can't do that!::
::Oh, I think I could become famous in that genre.:: The Praxian suddenly maxxed out his engine and sped away much faster than his frame usually allowed for. ::Or you can catch me now, and pay off the favours.::
Jazz stared after his bondmate for an astrosecond, then he pursued him with all he got.
Together, they drove down the highway, leaving a cloud of dust and the citystate New Praxus far behind them as before them opened up a new, peaceful world in which they were forgotten footnotes of history and finally free.
Really this time. ;) The other stories in this universe will play earlier.
Thanks for reading!