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Dream of Life- Escapism

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Megatron left early in the morning, and then returned to settle back into the berth surrounded by his favorite seekers around midday. In no time he quickly slipped back into a light recharge. Where their illustrious leader had been, Thundercracker had no clue. Doing something heinous, no doubt.

Thundercracker stared at the three prone forms beside him in the berth, his mind too fraught with worry to let him fully sink into a true recharge. He’d only managed maybe an hour or so of anything resembling real rest. Were Mirage, Bluestreak and Bumblebee safe? He wanted to comm Soundwave, but Megatron had insisted the trine stay with him in his suite after pounding each of them quite thoroughly the night before as Thundercracker’s very sore valve could attest to. Up here no comm lines worked, being a communications blackout area. Only Megatron’s computer console in the corner of his berth room with a hardline connected this place to the outside world.

All Thundercracker could do was hope.

A light on the console lit, blinking as it softly beeped. Megatron groaned, his grip around Starscream tightening. Starscream made a half-sparked attempt at pushing away, but it quickly faded as he obviously drifted back into recharge. Of the three of them, Starscream had been ‘faced the most amount of times, being Megatron’s favorite. Thundercracker could only begin to imagine the damages his Air Commander’s body was busily working to repair, from finger-sized dents to an inflamed valve lining… Thundercracker simply couldn’t understand the attraction.

The console beeped again.

This time Megatron’s red optics lit up and he scowled at the corner of the room where the offending sound was coming from. Moving a hand down Starscream’s body, he cycled his optics several times before pushing to sit up, and pulling Starscream up with him.

“Megatron… I need to rest,” Starscream whined.

“Fine.” Megatron shoved Starscream away with some force, but Thundercracker was quick to react, catching him in his own arms. Starscream’s frame felt hot against his own. Proof Starscream’s autorepair was working at full tilt. Megatron lumbered over to the monitor and tapped the keys to bring up the message.

From the berth, Thundercracker heard the recording: “Lord Megatron, there has been a break in on the lower floors. Enforcers currently on site to collect information.” Soundwave’s voice cut out.

“Break in, hm?” Megatron returned to the berth’s edge, red optics roaming Starscream who was now nestled against Thundercracker. He then reached out and pinched a lower part of Starscream’s wing. “Wake up, you worthless piece of aft.”

Starscream whined and pressed his face into Thundercracker’s neck.

Skywarp finally stirred, his optics onlining dimly. “We’re gettin’ up?”

“There’s been a break-in in the lower apartments,” Megatron said, sounding annoyed.

Starscream lit his optics at that. “My apartment?”

“Soundwave didn’t say,” Megatron replied.

Starscream scrambled to his feet, fluffing his wings and plating to smooth his roughed up appearance and put on an air of dignity. Thundercracker and Skywarp also got up, and all four took the lift down a level.

The door to the lift opened to reveal chaos. Enforcers were swarming in and out of Thundercracker’s apartment. True panic gripped his spark, but not for the reasons it would appear to the others. Are they safe? he thought as he pushed his way past his trine and walked right up to Soundwave.

“What happened? Where are my slaves?” Thundercracker asked.

Megatron frowned as he wandered over with Starscream and Skywarp.

“Slaves no longer inside. They are missing,” Soundwave replied. “Along with my own.”

That genuinely surprised Thundercracker, and he let it show. “Yours?

“Affirmative. Trail of destruction starts at balcony entrance and goes down into my apartment,” Soundwave replied.

Something had happened between his comm yesterday and now. But what? Thundercracker was in no position to ask right now, though.

He proceeded into his apartment and began to walk around assessing just how much damage Soundwave’s cassettes had caused. They’d been thorough. Broken items were strewn everywhere. Reaching his berthroom, he frowned at the busted lock for the door and stooped down to pick up a game piece that had rolled away when the small table had been tipped. He fingered it, remembering how pretty Mirage looked overloading in his lap. Mirage… He deeply frowned and squeezed the piece in his hand, hating himself for betraying Mirage’s fragile trust.

He softly sighed, and walked back out toward the front area, slowing when he saw Megatron staring at Soundwave. He knew that look, and it sent a chill down his spinal unit. Soundwave was speaking with an enforcer, telling them about the situation. His story of returning after running errands to find his apartment rummaged through and then following a trail of items into the lift and taking it up to this floor and finding more destruction was credible enough for an enforcer, but it clearly wasn’t fooling Megatron.

::Soundwave, are they alright?:: Thundercracker commed him on the secured channel.

Without breaking his focus on the datapad the enforcer handed him to review with his statement, Soundwave answered. ::They are safe. Your extraction is paramount.::

::I don’t think that will be possible,:: Thundercracker replied. ::And I don’t think Megatron is buying your story, either.::

Soundwave handed the datapad back to the enforcer, then turned to Megatron. “My lord, please excuse me while I go down to the security room to review the camera footage.”

Megatron regarded him for a long, uncomfortable moment. “You do that. Find whomever is responsible.”

Thundercracker fought to keep the wince off his face at Megatron’s tone. This was not good.

Soundwave nodded, then bowed his head before leaving.

Megatron reached down and picked up a broken trinket on the floor, scrutinizing it. Starscream then swept in with Skywarp behind him.

“Holy slag, your place got trashed!” Skywarp said, looking around.

“Well, thankfully my apartment is in tact. But look at this place! And the thief took your slaves! I bet is was the same seeker that stole mine at the parlour,” Starscream said, flicking his wings.

“Or perhaps not,” Megatron said, optics narrowing as he dropped the trinket on the floor. “Why trash the apartment like this if taking the slaves was the objective? No, something about this isn’t right.”

Thundercracker frowned. “Then what could have transpired here?”

Megatron glanced at Thundercracker with a dark look. “My impression is that this is staged. That we have a traitor among us.”

“What?” Thundercracker tried to feign shock.

“Soundwave… I believe he might be working against me,” Megatron replied with a slight growl to his voice.

“Soundwave?” Starscream looked disgusted. “Do you think he took my slaves as well?”

“Perhaps.” Megatron frowned. “I will have him closely monitored.”

Thundercracker quickly threw open the secure comm channel. ::Soundwave, he knows it was you. Get out of the building as soon as possible.::

::You must be extracted,:: Soundwave replied.

::I’ll figure a way out, but you have no time. He’s going to have you monitored. You are not safe. Your cassettes are not safe. Get out of here now. Go,:: Thundercracker insisted.

::We will come back for you,:: Soundwave replied before the line cut out.

Megatron trailed his fingers down the leading edge of Starscream’s wing. “I’m bored of this. Let’s all return upstairs.”

“My autorepair is still busy,” Starscream replied, shooting Megatron a glare.

Megatron then turned his focus on Thundercracker. “Then perhaps I should comfort you instead, hm?”

Suppressing a shudder of revulsion, Thundercracker bowed his head and dropped his gaze in a gesture of submission. “Yes, my lord.”

A large hand reached over and skimmed down his wing slowly. “I do enjoy your talented mouth,” Megatron crooned. His hand then moved between Thundercracker’s legs from behind, cupping his closed cover.

“There’s a reason I wanted a Vosian noble for my trine. His years of training are quite enjoyable,” Starscream said with an equally dark smile.

Megatron swiftly swatted Thundercracker’s aft and grinned. “Let’s go back up to my suite.”

Thundercracker felt what little dignity he’d regained in freedom from his trine and Megatron slip away completely. His home was destroyed, Mirage out of reach, and his only value in these mech’s optics was his talent in the berth. Reduced to nothing again, he felt himself slipping back into a numbed state as he was led from his apartment.

Prowl hadn’t intended to drift off, but curled up against Sunstreaker’s warm frame he’d relaxed enough to do so. He woke when he heard Sideswipe return.

Sideswipe crawled onto the berth and kissed Prowl. “Guess things went okay?” he whispered.

Smiling, Prowl nodded.

Settling in, Sideswipe gazed at Sunstreaker with obvious adoration. Prowl was happy things were finally starting to come together more or less for them.

Sunstreaker groaned a little, then lit his optics, scowling at Sideswipe. “Stop staring at me like a goofy moron, Sides.”

“What? I can look all I want,” Sideswipe replied, rolling to his side and propping himself up on one of his elbows. “You’ve always been nice to look at.”

“Shut up,” Sunstreaker replied with no real venom in his tone. In fact, he smiled a little.

Prowl found them so fascinating to watch when they interacted.

“So…” Sideswipe trailed a finger down Sunstreaker’s frame, and Prowl felt a flare of warmth where their plating touched. “I was thinking, we really should make this all official.”

“You mean frag?” Sunstreaker frowned.

Sideswipe’s smile faltered a little. “Not ready for that still? I mean, if not, that’s okay. I just thought maybe, you know...”

Softly sighing, Sunstreaker looked away and let his fingers idly make circles over Prowl’s lower back. Prowl looked at Sideswipe and shook his head. Looking confused, Sideswipe scowled back at him.

“I want to,” Sunstreaker said after a moment. He dimmed his optics. “It’s just, I don’t trust myself.”

“Then trust me and Prowl,” Sideswipe replied.

“It’s not that simple,” Sunstreaker replied.

“Why not?” Sideswipe asked, disappointment edging his voice.

Prowl gently touched the corner of Sunstreaker’s chestplate where he’d kissed him for his unseen scars earlier. “What if Sideswipe and myself do everything?”

Both sets of blue optics stared at Prowl with matching unsure looks. Primus, how had he never seen they were brothers before?

“What do you mean?” Sunstreaker prompted.

“You’re afraid of the unknown reaction you may have to interfacing with us. I just thought by removing the pressure of mutual obligation, we might be able to cross the initial hurdle,” Prowl replied.

Sideswipe frowned. “Wait, so…” He looked at Sunstreaker. “You’re holding back because of what happened to you?”

“I’m holding back because of what I did. What I had to do. Because when I ‘faced with Smokes I felt nothing. I don’t want to feel nothing with you!” Sunstreaker’s grip on Prowl tightened with his confession.

Realization blossomed over Sideswipe’s face, and he leaned in and kissed Sunstreaker’s cheek. “Our sparks still feel everything, don’t they?”

Sunstreaker sadly frowned as he nodded.

“So is it Prowl, then?” Sideswipe carefully asked.

Prowl’s doorwings immediately flattened against his back, guilt rising up in his chest. This was why he’d wanted to step back and let them be together. As much as he knew it would hurt to lose Sideswipe, it would have been better than this. Now he’d have his spark broken by both of them if they decided they only wanted each other. He honestly wasn’t sure he could bounce back from something that emotionally devastating.

Sunstreaker gazed at Prowl. “No. It’s not Prowl. It’s this whole thing. I don’t deserve either of you, let alone both of you.”

Relief washed through Prowl along with a deep sadness. “Sunny…”

“Don’t be stupid,” Sideswipe replied. “After everything we’ve all been through we all deserve one measly corner of happiness with one another. You just need to trust me and Prowl a little right now, and in time it’ll get easier. Closing yourself off won’t help things, only make them worse.”

Gazing up at his brother, Sunstreaker looked humbled. “Okay.”

Sideswipe canted his head slightly. “As in okay you’ll stop being such a glitch thinking you don’t belong here with us?”

Sunstreaker dimmed his optics a little and nodded as he squeezed Prowl in his grasp.

“Good. ‘Cause I love you both.” Sideswipe half-smiled. “This also means no more running into danger and getting yourself almost killed, clear?

“Clear,” Sunstreaker quietly replied.

Both Prowl and Sideswipe leaned in kissed each side of Sunstreaker’s face in response. Prowl lingered close, nuzzling him and smiling a little. Step by step, Sunstreaker was finally coming around.

“So you wanna mess around then?” Sideswipe asked.

Sunstreaker actually snorted and laughed. “How about we wait for when I’m not fighting off poison in my systems?”

“That might be a prudent choice,” Prowl replied, pressing a hand to Sunstreaker’s chest. “You’re plating is quite warm from your autorepair.”

“It’s not just my autorepair.” Sunstreaker’s hand wandered lower and to pinch Prowl’s aft.

Optics brightening, Prowl let out an undignified squeak, which resulted in Sideswipe snerking and laughing.

Attempting to maintain some level of dignity, Prowl pursed his lips at them. “All causes for your high core temp aside, you can’t even properly walk around right now. I think resting a bit more before we test the waters of intimacy might be best.”

“He’s cute, isn’t he?” Sideswipe said, gazing adoringly at Prowl.

“You have a good taste,” Sunstreaker confirmed.

Prowl shook his head at them. “Is this how it will be then?”

“Pretty much, I think,” Sideswipe replied with a lop-sided grin.

Leaning over, Prowl kissed Sideswipe, then he shifted and kissed Sunstreaker. “Good. This is how it should be.”

Soundwave quickly grabbed Jazz’s holo guitar from the locked cabinet, and then called to his cassettes to gather with an internal signal.

Rumble and Frenzy wandered out from their berthroom, followed by Ravage. Laserbeak was already perched on the shelves in the living area. These were the forgotten. The small mechs of a supposedly disposable race that he’d rescued and looked after for millena. He knew Jazz didn’t understand his connection to them, but it was hard to even put into words what they meant.

“The situation has changed. We must leave. Please gather what belongings you wish to take,” Soundwave instructed.

“What?” Frenzy scowled. “Why do we gotta leave?”

“Megatron sees me as a threat,” Soundwave replied.

Serious expressions suddenly played over Rumble and Frenzy’s faces.

“This is about your Autobrat, isn’t it?” Rumble asked.

Soundwave internally sighed, and nodded.

The brothers exchanged looks then each took a step forward. “We don’t need any of this junk. Our home is with you. Always has been, you know that, Big guy,” Frenzy said with a smile.

Ravage got to her feet and stepped forward, followed by Laserbeak flying down and landing on Soundwave’s shoulder.

“So where we going then?” Rumble asked.

“Shockwave’s compound,” Soundwave intoned, his spark swelling with so much affection for all of them.

“Then let’s get goin’!” Frenzy replied.

Soundwave nodded, smiling behind his mask. He opened his chest and they all transformed and stacked into his special subspace. Once it closed, he pressed his fingers to the center of his glassy chestplate and dimmed his optics behind his visor. He was never alone. It was a comfort to him in the face of everything else he’d endured under Megatron. “I will protect you always.”

He put the hologuitar under his arm, and took one last look around his home. He was going to miss this place, right now he missed Jazz more than anything. Having only been a few hours, it was clear his attachment ran deeper than even he initially realized.  Just as the cassettes saw Soundwave as their home, he knew his home was with Jazz. He felt guilty knowing he was going to leave Thundercracker behind, but he had no doubt they would find a way to retrieve him.

Soundwave exited his apartment and took the lift to the roof. He stepped off to see Shockwave’s shuttle waiting for him. By leaving with Shockwave, their hidden conspiracy would be exposed, but maybe it was time they came out into the light and face down their oppressor, Megatron, more directly. Soundwave was ready to be freed from Megatron’s tyrannical reign just as much as the Autobots deserved their collected freedom from his post-war policies.

Jazz sat flopped on a chair in the corner of the rec room. He watched the others interacting, being so normal with one another. Ironhide was quieter than he’d once been and Mirage was obviously trying hard to keep it together, no doubt worried for Thundercracker, but overall if Jazz didn’t know any better, he’d swear it was the old days again. Back when they were banding together, fighting for freedom.

Despite their ease with one another, Jazz still felt on the outs. He silently got to his feet and slipped back out to return to his chosen room. He had no idea how to fix what he’d broken with Bluestreak. Until he could find a way to mend their relationship he knew he’d remain on the outside.

He walked into his room and sighed as the door closed. He flopped front first on the berth and offlined his optics. What made things worse was how strangely lost he felt without Soundwave. It had been what? A whole day? How sad was it that he missed him this much already?

There was a knock on the door. It wasn’t Prowl’s sharp knock, which meant someone else stood outside. He onlined his optics behind his visor and stared at the closed door. He wasn’t much in the mood to talk to anyone, though. Whoever it was politely knocked again, and he huffed air from his intakes. “Coming.” He got to his feet and opened the door to Mirage with Bumblebee riding his back.

“Bee wanted to see you,” Mirage said with a small smile.

“Can we hang out a bit? You keep wandering off from the rec area,” Bumblebee said, hope in his voice.

“Yeah, sure.” Jazz couldn’t say ‘no’ to an old friend. Especially one that wasn’t even ambulatory at the moment.

Mirage walked in and carefully squatted down so Bumblebee could situate himself on the berth.

“You gonna stay, too, ‘Raj?” Jazz asked. “I mean, if you’re mad at me still–well, you don’t have to.” He rubbed the back of his helm and shrugged.

“I was never mad at you,” Mirage replied as he stood back up. “Disappointed, maybe, but not mad. And I would like to stay.”

Bumblebee grinned and tugged Mirage by the hand to sit.

“Yeah, I fragged up,” Jazz quietly admitted.

“Hiding in here isn’t going to make anything better, Jazz,” Bumblebee said.

Jazz sat down on Bumblebee’s other side. “I know. I wasn’t expectin’ to be shoved in the shuttle earlier. Guess I figured I’d get more time before the slag hit the fan and I don’t know how to be ‘round Blue right now without it bein’ an issue.”

Mirage glanced at Jazz over Bumblebee’s head. “I’ve never seen you act the way you did with Soundwave before. I think that just threw us all for a loop, especially Blue.”

“I don’t think I have ever acted like that before,” Jazz replied with a shrug.

“Do you love him?” Bumblebee asked.

Jazz softly sighed. “I think I might. Mostly I’m worried for him right now, though. What if Megatron figures out that the break in thing was faked? He’s not dumb.”

Bumblebee put one hand on Jazz’s arm, and the other on Mirage’s. “Don’t either of you lose hope. It’s all we have left and more important than anything right now.”

Mirage sadly smiled. “I just want to know Thundercracker is okay, too.”

Jazz shot Mirage a sympathetic look.

There was a sharp knock at the door. Prowl’s knock.

“Open,” Jazz called out.

The door opened, and Prowl looked vaguely surprised to see all three of them. “Jazz, Shockwave just sent me a message to meet with him and bring you with me.”

“Me?” Jazz asked.

Prowl nodded.

“Uh, alright.” Jazz got to his feet. He glanced at Mirage and Bumblebee and smiled a little. “When I get back, we’ll hang out. If you guys want.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Bumblebee replied and Mirage smiled a little and nodded his agreement.

Prowl led Jazz through the compound. Reaching a stark corridor, Jazz felt sort of uneasy. He’d never spent much time exploring the compound during his brief visits, but most of the other areas were richly decorated. This area was cold and bland in stark contrast to the areas he’d been in before. At the end of the corridor was a heavy-duty door which parted as soon as they were within about ten paces of it.

Prowl’s even stride broke and he frowned. “Never going to get used to that,” he murmured before leading Jazz inside.

On the other side of the door was a dimly lit, very cozy looking living quarters. Jazz marveled at the intricate and detailed features he could see in the main living area just off from the foyer they were standing in.

“Thank you for coming so quickly, Prowl. And thank you for bringing Jazz,” Shockwave said as he appeared from an adjoining hallway. “Have a seat in here, and our other guest will join us in a moment.”

“Other guest?” Prowl asked, doorwings flattening against his back with a slight tremor.

“Yes. Nothing to worry about,” Shockwave replied. “But he wanted it to be a surprise of sorts for Jazz. Please sit.” He gestured to the couch with his laser hand.

Jazz frowned. “A surprise?”

Heavy footfall from the hallway drew all their attentions, and all Jazz’s apprehension fell away at the sight of Soundwave. Without thinking, he bolted toward him, practically throwing himself at the taller mech. Large arms encompassed him, and he happily sank into the tight hug.

“I was so scared I’d never see you again,” Jazz quietly admitted.

Soundwave nuzzled one of his helm horns. “I will always return to you.”

Jazz leaned back and scowled up at Soundwave before jabbing him hard in the middle of the chest with his forefinger. “Don’t you ever hide slag from me again. I’m not one of your cassettes. I expect from this moment on to be treated like an equal. You got that?”

Soundwave nodded.

“Good. ‘Cause as happy as I am to see you I’m still pretty fragging mad ‘bout what you did yesterday, shovin’ me on that shuttle,” Jazz replied.

Gently trailing the backs of his fingers down Jazz’s face, Soundwave nodded. “Will I be forgiven?”

Jazz frowned, then sighed. “Yeah, you’re forgiven, but let me be mad for a bit.”

“That is acceptable,” Soundwave replied.

“I don’t mean to interrupt, but aside from reuniting you, we need to have an urgent meeting now to discuss Thundercracker’s extraction,” Shockwave said, cutting in.

“Wait, you’re here, but TC’s not?” Jazz said, giving Soundwave a pointed look.

“I picked up Soundwave late yesterday when circumstances took a bad turn,” Shockwave replied. “Megatron grew suspicious after the staged break-ins and one of Thundercracker’s last communications warned him to leave as soon as possible.”

Wait, you’ve been here since last night?” Jazz said, pushing to be let go.

Soundwave didn’t loosen his grip, though. “The cassettes are here. I cannot take them near the other Autobots yet. They need time to process the situation.”

Jazz stopped struggling to be freed from the firm hold he was in. “They don’t know anything about what you’ve been doin’?”

“They did not before our arrival. For the safety of all, I remained here with them last night after fully informing them,” Soundwave replied.

“And how are they takin’ it?” Jazz asked.

“They are accepting the situation. But for now, it is best they remain in this area,” Soundwave replied.

Jazz was unable to hide the disappointment on his face. If the cassettes stayed here, then Soundwave would, too. That meant there’d be no taking Soundwave back to his room on the ship and ‘facing until they couldn’t move anymore. Embarrassingly, his entire being ached for Soundwave. He wanted to feel that connection to him between his legs, the heat and weight of his larger frame overtop of him–

“Let’s sit. We have much to discuss,” Shockwave said after a long, awkward silence.

Soundwave finally let go of Jazz and they all sat down on the couches in the living area.

“As you are aware, Thundercracker is currently still inside the main tower. From what Soundwave observed, and what little Thundercracker was able to say, Megatron has the entire trine staying with him inside his top-level apartment. It’s a communications blackout area, which is why coordinating an extraction with Thundercracker is nearly impossible,” Shockwave explained.

“We can’t leave him there,” Prowl replied. “But... You picked up Soundwave, who Megatron suspects may have betrayed him. Once they trace which shuttle came to retrieve him then you will also be exposed. This whole compound will be exposed.”

“That’s why it’s imperative that we move quickly,” Shockwave replied.

Prowl held up both his hands to halt Shockwave. “Thundercracker’s situation aside, how in the name of Primus will we be able to stand up against Megatron once he's unleashed his full force against us? As it is, the Swarm was able to breach the outer wall. This compound can not withstand a full on assault.”

“The Swarm was only able to breach the wall when I took down the force field in that area,” Shockwave replied.

Prowl’s mouth gaped slightly with his apparent surprise. “Why would you do that?”

“To test the drones Ironfist built me. Sunstreaker’s involvement was unintentional,” Shockwave replied, cowing his head slightly.

Jazz had seen the look that suddenly flooded Prowl’s face enough times to know he was extremely angry.

“Sunstreaker almost died,” Prowl bit out slowly.

Shockwave’s optic dimmed. “I am aware my test was not as thoroughly thought out as it should have been. That said, the forcefield is impenetrable. It’s ancient technology that my salvage teams found, and I was able to install for use here. The issue before us now is getting all the forces we want inside this fortress before Megatron acts.”

Prowl fluffed his doorwings in annoyance. “In that case we not only need to extract Thundercracker, but acquire a capable medic.”

“Frag, Prowl’s right,” Jazz said. “We can’t fight without someone here to help repair mechs.”

“The only medic I even remotely trust is Tremorwave, and I don’t know if he would be willing to join our cause,” Shockwave replied.

“Then I will make him choose our side,” Prowl replied. He then stiffened his posture and laced his fingers in his lap. “I propose a two part mission: One mech sent to infiltrate Megatron’s apartment and get Thundercracker out, while a second team goes to Tremorwave’s compound to convince him to come back with us.”

Shockwave’s optic sharply focused on Prowl. “And who would you send in to get Thundercracker?”

Jazz smirked as Prowl looked over at him. “One of the best spies the Autobots ever trained.”

“Negative. Jazz will not be put in danger,” Soundwave replied.

Jazz poked Soundwave hard in the side. “Hey, I get to decide this stuff for myself.”

Soundwave looked at Jazz with a dimmed visor. “I do not want any harm to come to you.”

“Jazz is the best. He’ll be well equipped for the job, and I can say with confidence, he will return. He always does,” Prowl explained.

“With all due respect, Prowl, you’ve all been inactive since the end of the war.” Shockwave gently placed a hand on Prowl’s knee. “Everyone’s skills may need some honing.”

“Pfft, you don’t know me at all, Shockwave.” Jazz crossed his arms over his chest. “Wanna know why I was such a good spy? It’s ‘cause I spent most of my life gettin’ by as a master thief. My skills are sharp as ever. I promise you that.”

Soundwave gazed at him for a long moment, then glanced at Shockwave. “Plan 23 is also in place. Jazz could initiate the detonation upon departure.”

“Plan 23?” Prowl asked.

Shockwave glanced at Prowl. “Remember when you analyzed the layout of Megatron’s apartment for me?”

“I located all the weak points and easy access areas, yes,” Prowl replied.

“Explosive charges are in place. The entire top apartment is set to be leveled via remote detonation,” Soundwave intoned.

“Frag.” Jazz grinned. “Let’s do it.”

“You still have the plans here?” Prowl asked. “I can help identify the best routes through ventilation shafts for Jazz to get inside undetected.”

Shockwave nodded. “I do. I can drop Jazz off via shuttle on the roof, but I won’t be able to linger. How will he and Thundercracker come back?”

“TC is a flier. He’ll just carry me with him. It’ll be fine,” Jazz replied.

Soundwave took hold of Jazz’s hand. Obviously this was not what Soundwave wanted him to do, but he was confident in his abilities. Besides, he had someone important to return for, which was a first for him.

“Then let’s get down the details of the planning,” Prowl instructed.

Shockwave hopped to his feet to retrieve the maps, which struck Jazz as sort of funny. The power dynamic had certainly shifted between them. Lots of things were changing now, though. Jazz squeezed Soundwave’s hand and smiled at him. These sort of sea changes were scary, but he felt more alive now that he had in so long. It was like he’d woken up from a long stasis and he was raring to go.

They were going to regain their true freedom, or die trying.