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Dream of Life- Escapism

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Standing in the middle of the lab, Prowl quietly watched his team working together. Well, mostly. Sideswipe was still casting longing looks at Sunstreaker who was now expertly ignoring him. This had been going on for days now and Prowl knew something needed to be done.

The door to the lab opened and Shockwave entered with a small container in hand.

Prowl immediately walked over. “Stopping by to inspect the progress?”

“I’m here to bring you, well, Ironfist this.” Shockwave carefully handed over the container to Prowl. “I would assume this might be a sensitive issue, so I’ll let you decide when and how to present the item inside to Ironfist,” he said in a hushed voice. “But the sooner our brilliant in house scientist can assess the tracker the better.”

“Inferno’s…” Prowl trailed off, dimming his optics and holding the container to his chest. “Thank you. As soon as it’s appropriate, I will present it to Ironfist.”

“How are things here? Is some of the strife I know you’ve faced with the new mechs calming now?” Shockwave asked, still speaking at a low enough tone that only Prowl would hear.

Nodding, Prowl shrugged his doorwings. “They’re stable, but I’m working on a solution to the issue. I hope to address it later this evening.”

Shockwave reached up to place his hand on Prowl’s shoulder, but withdrew it when Prowl’s doorwings involuntarily flinched. “If you ever need anything at all, even to talk, my section of the compound is open to you always.”

“Thank you,” Prowl replied, truly meaning what he said.

Shockwave bowed his head respectfully, then exited as quickly as he came.

“What did he want?” Ironhide asked as he meandered over.

Prowl gripped the container a little tighter. “To give me something to pass on to Ironfist.” He then turned to face the lab. “I would like everyone to come here a moment.”

Stopping their various tasks, they all walked up. Prowl held the container in his hands and sadly gazed at it. “Shockwave would like to retrieve Skyfire from Starscream, but this means disabling the tracking mechanism within his collar to do so.” Prowl gently sighed. “In order to do that, a once active collar was obtained for Ironfist to analyze.” He held it out for Ironfist to take. “This collar belonged to Inferno, who was deactivated during his time as a slave.”

Smokescreen dimmed his optics and looked away. Both Sunstreaker and Sideswipe simultaneously clenched their fists as they stared at the small container. Prowl knew this would be hard for them. It’s one thing to know their former comrades were being harmed and tortured, but another to know they’d died.

“I’ll treat it with the utmost respect,” Ironfist replied, taking the container.

“Thank you,” Prowl replied. “You may return to your tasks.”

The group slowly dispersed, all except Ironhide who placed a hand on Prowl’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze. “You’re handling things pretty well without Optimus ‘round. You need to deal with Sides and Sunny, though.”

Prowl glanced at them, watching Sideswipe hand an item to Sunstreaker, looking to make optic contact, and Sunstreaker taking it without looking up from what he was doing.

“I know,” Prowl replied.

Sunstreaker dried off and silently left the washracks. He was careful to skirt the lounge area and keep out of his brother’s line of sight before padding down the hall to his room. He stepped inside and froze, optics bright as they fell on an unexpected guest.

“Prowl?”

“We need to talk. Have a seat,” Prowl replied.

Posture sagging, Sunstreaker plopped down beside Prowl on the berth and sighed. “Don’t want to talk about Sides, if that’s why you’re here.”

“That’s not exactly why I’m here,” Prowl replied. “I want to talk about me and you.”

“What do you mean?” Sunstreaker narrowed his optics as he frowned at Prowl.

“First, you love your brother, correct?” Prowl asked.

Suspicious, Sunstreaker scowled. “Yeah, but it doesn’t mean I’m any good for him.”

Prowl held Sunstreaker’s gaze. “Do you find me attractive at all?”

“I, ah, what?” Sunstreaker was completely thrown for a loop by the out of the blue question.

“Imagine a scenario where there was no Sideswipe, no war, just me sitting in an energon bar, and you come in and see me. Would you find me attractive?” Prowl asked again.

Taking a moment to ogle Prowl’s frame, Sunstreaker shrugged a shoulder. “Sure. You’re handsome, and Praxians are, ah, nice in the berth. Why are you asking me that?”

Prowl’s gaze softened a little. “It takes me a long time to form emotional attachments. Maybe it’s a byproduct of my position as a strategist in wartime, or my previous life as an enforcer, but either way, I don’t form those kind of attachments quickly. Despite sharing a berth with your brother over the last few months, it took me several weeks to work up to more than sharing kisses.”

Sunstreaker grimaced. “You have a point, right?”

“I would like to explore the possibility of a relationship with both you and your brother at the same time. If you’re open to that,” Prowl replied.

Dumbstruck, Sunstreaker stared at Prowl. “You and me and Sides… like a triad?”

“Precisely,” Prowl replied.

“I dunno, Prowl,” Sunstreaker replied, looking away. He and Sideswipe were a mess as it was. To add in another mech seemed like a really bad idea.

“I was hoping you’d be open to at least exploring the option. As I said, it will take me time to foster an emotional connection, and I expect it might be the same for you,” Prowl replied. “But in the meantime we’d each have Sideswipe in our lives.”

“He’d be thrilled about that.” Sunstreaker glanced at Prowl. “Wait, did he suggest this? Put you up to asking me?”

“No. In fact, I didn’t mention I’d even talk to you about it,” Prowl replied. “I hate seeing him in pain, but I also don’t want you suffer, either. We need to find a workable middle ground, and this is the most logical option available.”

“Well, can I think on it before deciding?” Sunstreaker asked.

“Of course,” Prowl replied. He then got to his feet and moved to stand in front of Sunstreaker. “I find you very attractive, in case you were wondering.”

Sunstreaker snorted a laugh. “That’s ‘cause I’m gorgeous even all collared up and with my dull finish.” It was a false bravado, but one he clung to in order to not lose what small part of his pride remained.

Prowl smiled a little at that, then leaned down and kissed Sunstreaker sweetly on the lips. It felt oddly nice, despite how unexpected it was.

Straightening his posture, Prowl fluffed his doorwings and his expression became calm and outwardly devoid of emotion again. “If you decide you’re interested in trying a triad relationship, come to our room any evening and we’ll discuss it further.”

“Right, okay,” Sunstreaker replied, trying not to chuckle at how businesslike Prowl was about such a personal issue.

Prowl then slipped out of his room, and Sunstreaker sighed, falling sideways onto his berth and curling up.

A triad was a certainly a logical way to handle things, but Sunstreaker wasn't generally the logical sort. A part of him was selfish, too. He wanted all of his brother or none at all. To share him with anyone went against how strongly he felt for Sideswipe. Still, this wasn’t anyone. This was Prowl. A mech willing to try anything to make his brother happy. He couldn’t be such a bad mech if he loved his brother that much, right? And he was pretty cute… Primus, what was he going to do?

The door to his room slid open partway, and Smokescreen poked his face in. “Hey.”

Sunstreaker half-smiled. “Hey.”

Smokescreen came inside and shut the door. Sunstreaker moved to lie on his back on the berth and Smokescreen wasted no time crawling up and lying against his side.

“What was Prowl doing in here? Talking to you about Sides?” Smokescreen asked.

Gently drawing a circles over the middle of Smokescreen’s back, Sunstreaker nodded. “Yeah, kinda.”

“Kinda?” Smokescreen prompted.

Looking away, Sunstreaker sighed. “He suggested we do a three-way thing. A triad.”

“Really?” Smokescreen sounded surprised. “Do you, I mean, is Prowl even your type?”

“I don’t know.” Optics dimming, he frowned. “Wish things weren’t so complicated.”

Sunstreaker knew if he agreed to try a three-way relationship, Smokescreen would lose his company at night. They hadn’t interfaced since that first evening here, but they’d recharged together every night since arriving. Leaving him alone felt cruel. Gazing at Smokescreen, Sunstreaker felt guilty for even thinking about abandoning him.

“I think you should try it,” Smokescreen said, fingering Sunstreaker’s chest.

“Are you serious?” Sunstreaker asked, surprised.

“Yeah.” Smokescreen looked up at Sunstreaker. “You’re both so miserable. I just don’t see the point of being apart when you’re meant to be together, Prowl or not.”

“But–” Sunstreaker frowned. “Who will you recharge with then?”

Sadness flickered over Smokescreen’s face. “Believe it or not, I’d rather you be happy than feel obligated to bot sit me.”

“I’m not bot sitting,” Sunstreaker declared as he tweaked the edge of Smokescreen’s chevron.

Swatting at his hand, Smokescreen sadly smiled. “You know what I mean.”

“Don’t want to abandon you, though,” Sunstreaker replied, his tone turning more serious.

“You aren’t. You’ve looked out for me, and we’re going to be close for a long time to come.” Smokescreen pressed in closer. “And… I want you to be happy, Sunny.”

Happy was relative all things considered. Sunstreaker sighed again. “I’d settle for less miserable.”

“Then be less miserable.” Smokescreen craned his neck and kissed Sunstreaker’s cheek. “Be with your brother again. But, you know, do it tomorrow so I at least get one more night with you.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll at least try it out.” Sunstreaker chuckled and hugged Smokescreen to his side. “And one more night doesn’t mean we can’t snuggle now and again. For all I know it’ll end up horribly anyway.”

Smokescreen gazed at him and shook his head. “I dunno. I think it might work out if you’re really willing to give Prowl a chance.”

One could only hope... Sunstreaker thought. At the very least, he’d get to be near his brother again.

...

Sideswipe tugged Prowl into his lap, hands moving over his smaller frame as he mouthed down his neck. It was a lovely distraction. And that’s what was helping him cope with Sunstreaker so close and so far away: distractions. Watching endless hours on the vid screen, throwing himself into his daily tasks, or ‘facing Prowl into berth without holding back were how he made it from day to day now.

“Wanna ride me?” Sideswipe asked.

“I would love to,” Prowl replied, his voice low and seductive.

A knock on the door, startled them both. Prowl glanced at it and then back at Sideswipe.

“Who in Pit is knocking now?” Sideswipe asked. Pretty much everyone knew not to knock when they came in here together.

“This is my doing,” Prowl replied, sliding off Sideswipe’s lap and going to the door.

“What do you mean?” Sideswipe asked, confused.

The door opened to a grumpy-faced Sunstreaker. “You two busy? I can go if you are,” Sunstreaker asked, edging back a step.

Sideswipe’s spark lurched at the sight of his brother. Primus damn their connection to one another.

“Not at all.” Prowl reached out, gently taking hold of Sunstreaker’s wrist and pulling him into the small room then closing the door.

Sideswipe glanced at Prowl, a questioning look on his face. “Prowl?”

“Have a seat, Sunstreaker,” Prowl said, gesturing to the space on the berth next to Sideswipe.

“Prowl, what’s going on?” Sideswipe asked again, wanting an answer.

“After some deep contemplation, I came to the conclusion that perhaps the best solution to the problem at hand is to test out a three-way relationship.” Prowl paused, clasping his hands behind his back. “And I don’t mean Sunstreaker and myself switch back and forth sharing you. What I would like is to build a strong relationship with Sunstreaker like I have with you. Knowing myself, though, that will take time.”

“You’re serious?” Sideswipe shook his head in disbelief. He then glanced at Sunstreaker. “He asked you about this already?”

Sunstreaker frowned as he glared at the floor and nodded.

“Sunny, you’re really willing to try this?” Sideswipe asked, wanting to be sure, especially in light of the fact he wasn’t sure himself about such an idea.

“Yeah,” Sunstreaker replied. “Not like I have much left to lose.”

Sideswipe frowned and looked away from both of them. He wanted his brother back in his life, but he felt a twinge of jealousy about sharing Prowl. After all, if not for Prowl, Sideswipe would have taken his own life.

“Sideswipe?” Prowl prompted as he moved to stand in front of him.

“I dunno if I want to do this,” Sideswipe replied honestly as he looked up at Prowl.

“Why? Cause you’re still mad at me?” Sunstreaker asked, sounding hurt.

Sideswipe glanced at his brother. “I already told you I’d forgiven you forever ago. Primus, my spark won’t stop calling for you now that you’re so close. Every waking moment I feel like it’s going to tear itself from my chest to get to you.”

“Then why wouldn’t you want to try this then?” Sunstreaker asked. “I know I’m not any good for you but I feel the same. My spark won’t stop aching for you. At least with Prowl as part of all this we have a chance at making things work. You told me he’s what’s kept you going... given you something to hang onto.”

“He has,” Sideswipe replied quietly.

“Then maybe he can be that for both of us? If you’re willing to share? I mean, who the frag knows if anything will even develop between me and him, but I can’t keep going on like this. How about you?” Sunstreaker asked, his desperation bleeding into his voice.

Sideswipe stared into his brother’s optics. He wanted to help Sunny heal. Help him see he wasn’t the fragged mess he saw himself as. Maybe he wasn’t the one that could do that for him, though. Maybe they needed someone outside their connection to help them both at once. “Okay. Let’s try it.” He then looked back at Prowl. “I mean, as long as this really is what you want, too?”

Prowl looked between the two of them, optics dimming. “Yes, but after listening to you two, I would like to add one condition.”

“What’s that?” Sideswipe asked.

“You two spark merge at some point in the near future,” Prowl replied.

“That would reopen the bond,” Sideswipe replied with a small frown.

“I believe it’s the only way your sparks will calm. And I need that calm around me as much as you both need it within you,” Prowl said, expression sympathetic.

“When exactly do you expect us to merge by then?” Sunstreaker asked.

“No set timeframe. Whenever you feel ready,” Prowl replied. “I do think sooner might be more beneficial, though.”

Sideswipe slowly nodded to the addendum as did Sunstreaker, though his brother was scowling. They hadn’t merged in eons now. How strange would it be to suddenly feel the bond come back to life after it had gone silent so long ago? He definitely shared his brother’s reservations.  

“Now that we’re all agreed, I would like to invite Sunstreaker to stay with us tonight,” Prowl said.

Looking at the berth that barely fit two mechs, Sunstreaker raised an optic ridge. “And we’ll fit how exactly?”

“You two side by side and I will lie over top,” Prowl replied, clearly having already thought about it.

Sideswipe cracked a smile. “Sounds like a good plan.”

It took some shuffling, but they managed to cram together on the berth. Sideswipe felt more content already just being physically close to Sunstreaker, even if they had light years to go before things got better between them emotionally.

Prowl settled mostly overtop of Sideswipe, and then reached across Sunstreaker to grab the inhibitor.

“What’s that?” Sunstreaker asked.

“It’s for me,” Sideswipe replied with a sheepish smile.

“Sideswipe experiences vivid memory feedback, which sometimes displaces reality,” Prowl replied, snapping it into place on his neck.

“I got caught in a memory feedback loop of being with Wildrider and beat the slag out of Prowl once. So this makes sure I don’t hurt him,” Sideswipe explained.

“Oh,” Sunstreaker replied with a sad frown. “So you can’t move with it on?”

“His lower body is immobilized.” Prowl pressed the button and Sideswipe lost his ability to move. The sensation had taken time to get used to, but now it offered comfort, knowing Prowl and his brother would be safe from him.

“You have a processor glitch, then?” Sunstreaker quietly asked.

“Yeah, probably from the fuel deprivation,” Sideswipe replied.

“Sides,” Sunstreaker turned more to his side, and sadly gazed at him. “I didn’t realize how bad it was for you.”

“We’ve all had bad slag happen,” Sideswipe replied.

Leaning in, Sunstreaker kissed Sideswipe’s cheek, then settled his head on his shoulder. Prowl reached out and gently trailed his fingers over Sunstreaker’s face. “Thank you for coming here tonight.”

Sunstreaker dimmed his optics. “You’ve been good to me so far, and Sides adores you. Seemed worth a shot.”

Sideswipe couldn’t help but grin at that. “I adore you both.”

Prowl kissed Sideswipe’s cheek in response.

Whether this was going to work or not remained unclear, but this was already much better than Sunstreaker ignoring him. Sideswipe just hoped they’d be able to find their way together.

Ironhide didn’t recharge much these days. He mostly just lay in his berth staring up at the ceiling trying hard to think about better times so the more recent memories wouldn’t take hold. It was hard, though. He was coping at least. More than he could say for some of his comrades here.

His thoughts wandered toward Optimus. He missed his old friend and commander more than he could ever really put into words. Prowl was a far cry from the benevolent leader Optimus had been, but he was doing surprisingly well all things considered. Ironhide wasn’t stupid, either. He could see the overall plan Shockwave was carefully putting into place: gather all able bodied Autobots to help him overthrow Megatron. He was being meticulous about it, too. His acquisitions bought or traded for in the most discreet ways possible. Still, there were only six of them so far. Hardly an army’s worth. And who knew if Shockwave would even grant them freedom if he was successful in taking over power.

The sounds of sobbing, drew him from his thoughts. Ironhide sat up, and pressed his audio to the wall beside his berth, listening. “Smokes…” He slid off the berth, and left his room, walking the handful of steps to the next room.

Lightly wrapping his knuckles on the door, he grimaced, unsure his presence would be wanted.

“Someone there?” Smokescreen’s muffled question came through the poorly insulated door.

“Yeah,” Ironhide replied as he cracked the door and peered in.

Smokescreen was curled up on his side in the berth, doorwings quivering on his back and tears smeared over his face from trying to quickly wipe them away.

“Hey, mind if I come in a sec?” Ironhide asked.

Pushing to sit up, Smokescreen nodded. “Yeah, sure.”

He entered the room and quietly shut the door. Sitting down beside Smokescreen, he rested hands in his lap. “What’s got ya upset?”

“It’s nothing,” Smokescreen replied, staring down at the floor.

“Far cry from nothing, if you ask me,” Ironhide replied.

“Thought I could be okay alone.” He sadly smiled as he glanced at Ironhide. “Guess not. But, not like I can change things.”

“Gonna take a stab in the dark here, Sunny’s not in his room tonight?” Ironhide asked.

“Him and Sides and Prowl are going to try and work out a relationship together,” Smokescreen replied. “I thought I’d be fine without him, but everytime I try to recharge memories come back.”

That was certainly an interesting solution to the problem of the twins...

Ironhide put his arm around Smokescreen’s shoulders. “Sorry you lost yer buddy.”

Smokescreen leaned against Ironhide, wiping his face dry with his hands. “I felt safer near him. I know that sounds pretty pathetic, but being alone I start to get that creeping fear I’ll wake up back in that place with those Constructicons again.”

“I know how that is. I barely recharge these days. Just not worth the memory feedback,” Ironhide replied.

With a nod, Smokescreen sighed.

They sat together in silence for a little while, and Ironhide had to admit it was kind of nice to hold someone again. He’d been afraid even touching other mechs might trigger his dark memories of Octane, but instead it reminded him of better times.

Smokescreen soon calmed and his optics started to flicker and dim. Clearly he was  exhausted and fighting to stay awake. Ironhide gently hugged Smokescreen’s shoulders with his arm draped around them.  “How ‘bout I stay with you for tonight?” he asked.

Smokescreen looked up at him and sadly smiled. “I’d really like that.”

Ironhide half-smiled in reply, then moved to lay back on the berth. Smokescreen curled up at his side, head resting on his shoulder. Fingering the edge of Ironhide’s boxy chest for a moment, Smokescreen sighed. “Thanks for checking on me and everything.”

“Sure thing,” Ironhide replied.

Smokescreen tucked both his hands under his chin and offlined his optics, his body relaxed and within moments the distinctive hum of recharge took over.

“You were exhausted alright,” Ironhide whispered as he gently traced the edge of Smokescreen’s yellow chevron.

Ironhide lay there for a while, watching Smokescreen, wondering how in the world would they be able to fight when they each had so many demons haunting them? Maybe their pain would be what fueled them to fight harder than ever. Or maybe it would break them. Optics dimming, Ironhide felt a wave of drowsiness wash over him. He’d normally stay awake as long as possible, thinking about things, or reminiscing, but the warmth of Smokescreen’s frame and soft vibration from his recharge soon scattered Ironhide’s thoughts to the edges. With a sigh, he gave into the seductive undertow of recharge, slipping offline to join his friend.

“Clever little device. But easy to circumvent the mechanisms,” Ironfist said as he prodded at Inferno’s collar. He’d taken it apart piece by piece, and carefully laid out on the table in their lounge area.

“Why work on it here?” Ironhide asked, arms folded as he watched with genuine interest.

“Oh, well, seems like the kind of thing that should be done in a more private sort of place,” Ironfist smiled behind his mask, and rubbed the back of his helm. “Outloud that sounds kinda weird, though.”

“Nah, I get what you mean,” Ironhide replied with a small smile.

Smokescreen wandered over and pulled up a chair to join them, reaching under the table to give Ironhide’s knee a gentle squeeze. “Make any progress?” Smokescreen's asked. Ironhide smiled a little, and patted the hand over his knee.

“Yeah. This here is the tracker. And there’s a secondary tracker here. One is active at all times, that’s the one that Swindle can use to locate any of us wearing a collar. This one here–” Ironfist pointed to a small round metal piece. “–it’s the tracker that’s activated when a collar is removed and sends an emergency signal to Swindle in addition to the location.”

“Is there a way to disable the tracker without setting off the emergency signal?” Prowl asked.

They all looked up at the doorway to the rooms, seeing Prowl flanked by Sunstreaker and Sideswipe.

“You all finally decided to get up, hm?” Ironhide asked, teasing a little.

Ironfist nodded at Prowl. “Yeah! I can deactivate the trackers and disable the emergency signal, too,” Ironfist replied, clearly excited about his progress.

“You can really do all that?” Sideswipe asked.

“Yep. Just need some more parts from the lab to finish this,” Ironfist said, holding up a small remote device.

Prowl was incredibly pleased with Ironfist’s work. “Excellent, Ironfist. You all go to the lab and I’ll speak with Shockwave regarding the progress.”

Being crammed in the berth with the twins hadn’t been terrible, but Prowl’s somewhat stiff gate as he made his way to Shockwave’s area of the compound told him they needed a larger one regardless.

Despite a few moments of awkwardness when they woke, Prowl was generally pleased that Sunstreaker had decided to come by and that Sideswipe had agreed to trying a three-way relationship. It would take time to develop deeper feelings for Sunstreaker as far as Prowl was concerned but he felt they were at the very least finding a middle ground and removing the tension for the time being.

Arriving at the door, Prowl was about to buzz for admittance when his proximity and new access opened the door automatically. He frowned, feeling strange about just walking in but he had no other choice. He took a few steps inside and craned his neck to see into the main living area.

“Sir?” Prowl called out, instantly wincing at his voice carrying down the nearby hallway. Shockwave could be recharging for all he knew.

He then backed up a step and considered maybe leaving a note when he heard a door open and Shockwave appeared in the hallway.

“Prowl, what a nice surprise,” Shockwave said as he walked toward him.

“I was going to ring the buzzer, but the door opened since you’ve given me access,” Prowl tried to lamely explain.

“I gave you free access for your use anytime,” Shockwave replied, trying to reassure Prowl.

“I didn’t wake you, did I?” Prowl asked.

“Not at all.” Shockwave gestured to the living area. “Come in. Have a seat. Tell me the reason for your visit.”

Doorwings sagging with relief that he hadn’t woken Shockwave, Prowl nodded then proceeded into the adjoining room. He took a seat on one of the smaller plush couches and folded his hands in his lap.

Shockwave poured out two glasses of energon, handing one to Prowl. He then sat and made himself comfortable, and the slot in the bottom of his face opened as he dropped a straw into the liquid fuel and took a sip.

Watching a mech without a face refuel was always an awkward affair, and Prowl quickly took a gulp of his own fuel, looking everywhere but in Shockwave’s direction.

Setting his glass on the small side table, Shockwave’s fuel slot snapped back shut. “What brought you by?”

“Two things, actually,” Prowl replied, holding his glass with both hands. “One, Ironfist has developed a remote that disables the tracking devices as well as the emergency signal. He should have it finished today. I think we should have a test run done with it, beforehand, though.”

“Agreed,” Shockwave replied. “One of you will have to be the test subject. Who did you have in mind?”

“Myself,” Prowl replied. “Should the emergency signal still be activated, then Swindle’s team showing up and finding me with you will not look as suspicious.”

Shockwave nodded. “We can do that, then. If this remote works, that means we can safely remove all your collars.”

Prowl hadn’t really thought about that part of things. “I think we’d all very much like to be rid of them.”

“Then it will be done as soon as it’s feasible,” Shockwave replied, seeming pleased by Prowl’s reaction. “And what was your second point?”

Prowl set his glass aside and took a moment to mentally word his request. “The habitation area works for us for the most part, but in light of recent developments, I would like to ask for... a larger berth?”

Shockwave didn’t immediately reply and Prowl tensed, worried he’d pushed too far with this request.

“I wasn’t going to reveal this quite yet to you. There’s much work left to be done, but in light of your request and the fact I finally acquired the necessary fuel cells just a few days ago, perhaps it’s time.” Shockwave pushed to stand. “Come with me.”

“Sir?” Prowl was confused.

“Place just a little bit of trust in me,” Shockwave replied, offering his hand to help Prowl to his feet.

Taking the hand, Prowl stood. What was Shockwave talking about? Prowl just hoped for a larger berth, what did that have to do fuel cells?

Leading Prowl out of his private suite, Shockwave led him down a corridor he’d never been down before. When they reached the end, Shockwave took Prowl down several flights of stairs that took them to yet another hallway, though this one was much shorter.

“Have you ever wondered why I chose such a remote location out here for my compound, Prowl?” Shockwave asked.

“I assumed for privacy,” Prowl replied.

“That was a large factor, yes, but there was another reason as well.” Shockwave led Prowl to a door at the end of the hallway and palmed it open.

Prowl expected to see a room behind it, but that’s not what was on the other side. “By Primus’ light,” Prowl said, staring with bright optics a large starship standing before them.

Shockwave chuckled a little at Prowl’s reaction, then clasped his arms behind his back as he walked into the cavernous hangar. “When I began scavenging with my private teams and drones, I planned on living within Megatron’s new city. But then one of my remote drones tunneled through some rubble to scout this area out and broke through into this underground hold.” He stopped and looked at Prowl. “This ship is in bad shape. It needs a lot of work done to it’s engines. The fuel system it uses required specialized equipment I just negotiated the purchase of. The parts will be arriving from offworld when the Constructicons return in a few weeks.”

“Won’t they suspect something?” Prowl asked, breaking his gaze on the large starship to look at Shockwave. “Bringing back parts for a ship?”

“I’ve told them it’s for a more efficient power source for the compound,” Shockwave replied.

Still shocked by such a revelation, Prowl looked back up at the ship. “Is it entirely non-functioning?”

“The power can be routed through the grid of the compound to make it functional. The current fuel cells won’t hold a charge, unfortunately. It is also an older model which will require quite a lot of upgrading.” Shockwave reached over and put his hand on Prowl’s shoulder.

For the first time in weeks, Prowl didn’t flinch at the touch.

“But I believe with Ironfist and soon Skyfire on hand to assist, this starship can be made space-worthy again.” Shockwave glanced at Prowl. “I can tell I’ve taken you by surprise,” he said with a small chuckle.

Prowl shook his head. “I wasn’t expecting this at all. Certainly not in reply to my request for a larger berth. Which, I’m sorry–” he looked at Shockwave. “-what does this ship have to do with my request?”

“Unlike the broken section of a small shuttle ship that you all call home, I thought perhaps you could move into a more spacious location,” Shockwave replied. “This ship can house up to one-hundred occupants comfortably, including officer’s quarters with larger berths.”

“You want us to move onto the ship?” Prowl asked.

“That’s the idea,” Shockwave replied.

Prowl smiled a little as he rubbed the back of his helm and looked back at the beautiful ship that would be their salvation. “May I bring them down here to see?”

“Of course. In fact, the sooner Ironfist is down here to start work on hooking it up to the power grid the sooner you all can move into a much more comfortable setup,” Shockwave replied.

Prowl placed his hand overtop of Shockwave’s that was still resting on his shoulder. “Thank you. For everything you’ve done and are doing to help us.”

“I’m only trying to set things right again. I helped create this dark future and it was never my intention to bring about such abhorrent conditions for fellow Cybertronians. Autobot or not, enslavement on any level whether by function or chosen faction is a wrong I will always fight to right,” Shockwave replied.