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Dream of Life- Escapism

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Roused by the sensation of a hand pushing up his chest, Perceptor lit his mismatched optics just as Drift began to grind his hips against his aft in their spooned position. “And good morning to you, too.”

“Primus, that voice when it first comes on…” Drift pressed his face into the back of Perceptor’s neck, and he could feel his lover's mouth curve into a smile as he continued to rock his hips.

“You’ve been quite amorous since we started on our voyage home,” Perceptor replied. “Not that I mind.” He pressed his black hand over Drift’s black and white one over to his chest.

“Making up for lost time with all those weeks of prepping and everything,” Drift replied. The distinct sound of his interface cover snapping open echoed in the room. “Plus, being with you–” He began to rub his spike on Perceptor’s aft. “Is like an affirmation of life for me.”

Turmoil’s destruction and Wing’s influence had altered Drift dramatically. Bit by bit, day by day, the anger Deadlock, now Drift, carried around had faded away, having been replaced by renewed hope. Perceptor found the transformation fascinating, and he’d subsequently fallen even more in love with Drift.

“I want to hear that lovely voice,” Drift said, moving his hand from Perceptor’s chest down to cup his interface cover.

Perceptor smiled a little. “What would you like to hear? Should I tell you how delightful your beautiful, decorated spike feels inside me? Or talk about how the quantum engines on this borrowed ship are far superior to anything we have had on Cybertron and I wish to study the divergence in technology the Circle of Light has created in greater detail once we free our homeworld?”

Drift playfully mouthed the back of Perceptor’s neck. “Frag, any of that. Don’t care… Just wanna hear your voice...”

Opening his interface panel, Pereceptor’s spike surged forward into Drift’s eager hand and he moaned at the touch.

“Only thing sexier than you talking is that moan,” Drift said as he slid his knee between Perceptor’s legs to part them. Shifting behind Perceptor, Drift got himself into position, poking his spike’s head just past the rim of his valve.

Perceptor grasped at the berth’s padding and moaned louder. “Please,” he breathed. “I want to feel you filling me.”

“As you–” Drift rolled his hips forward. “–wish,” he said, punctuating his last word by impaling Perceptor.

Moaning in reply, Perceptor was happily at Drift’s mercy. They interfaced in all sorts of positions, but their morning ritual had become this particular positioning. There was something about it harkening back to their very first time together, coupled with the fact that Drift prefered to recharge spooned against his back.  

They writhed together on the berth, Drift thrusting over and over into Perceptor’s quivering valve, causing him to moan wantonly, which always revved Drift up more, and within minutes they reached the crescendo.

“Ah!” Perceptor gasped and groaned as pleasure went crashing through his array. His whole frame shuddered from the thick wave of pleasure that pushed through him.

Drift grunted and then made the smallest sound of whining pleasure as he sheathed himself to empty into Perceptor with his own overload and release. Perceptor relished not only the liquid heat filling him and the incredible pleasure he felt, but that small sound Drift made meant the world to him. After being together for all this time, Drift had only let himself make noise when he was being spiked. It was a force of habit from his time in the gutters not to make noise or draw attention especially when spiking another mech. A habit he was slowly breaking with Perceptor.

They sank into a listless pile, and Drift kissed and nuzzled Perceptor’s neck. He dimmed his optics, and smiled at the affection.

The intercom suddenly buzzed. “Hey, where is everyone? We’ve got a message from that medic friend of Drift’s. Everyone get your afts to the bridge.”

“So much for post-overload snuggling,” Drift said, shifting his hips to slip free of Perceptor. “Rodimus has the worst timing.”

Drift pulled away, and Perceptor rolled to his back and gazed up at his love. “Rodimus. I’m still trying to process that name as his.”

“He likes it better,” Drift replied, pulling a cloth out of a drawer in the berthside cabinet. He first carefully wiped up the mess he’d made of Perceptor, then flipped the cloth over to tend to his own array.

Perceptor felt spoiled in the most wonderful way when Drift tended to him. He snapped his cover shut and sat up. “It’s still going to take time for me to get used to.”

Drift half-smiled, then kissed Perceptor sweetly. “Didn’t take you too long to get used to using ‘Drift’ as my name.”

Somewhat dazed from the kiss, Perceptor smiled a little. “Drift is a beautiful name that fits you much better than Deadlock. Rodimus sounds like one of those mechs from a lewd interfacing movie.”

Drift snorted and laughed. “Don’t you dare say that to his face!”

“Most certainly not,” Perceptor replied. “Well, we should go see what’s got him excited and how Tremorwave is fairing.”

Drift brightly smiled and nodded. “Hope he’s okay. We’ve been gone a lot longer than I expected.”

They both slid off the berth and left their quarters for the main bridge. Perceptor was also worried for his fellow Autobots back on Cybertron as well as Tremorwave. Things had been so oppressive and dark once Megatron took control. After all these months, he imagined many he knew who were being abused were possibly irrevocably damaged in both mind and body.

On the bridge a handful had gathered. Blaster was tapping his fingers on the console, looking bored. Rodimus was pacing around and Ratchet and Wheeljack were sitting in side-by-side chairs, both with their arms folded over their chests.

“So, what’s going on?” Drift asked as they joined them.

“This message is huge. It’s taking forever to download,” Blaster replied with a scowl.

“Why is it so large?” Perceptor asked.

“No clue,” Blaster replied. The download symbol finally went from greyed out to full color. “Finally.” He then went to open the file only to be stopped yet again by an encryption requiring a key. “What the slag?”

“What? What’s wrong now?” Rodimus asked.

“It’s encrypted,” Perceptor looked at Drift. “Does Tremorwave know how to encrypt?”

“I doubt it,” Drift replied. “You think my message was intercepted?”

“No, I think Soundwave encrypted it,” Blaster said, fingers flying over the console keypad. “What a clever–” The encryption was broken. “He locked it using my old encryption key.” He pressed play for the message and suddenly a song blared over the speakers.

“Music?” Rodimus looked confused.

“Is that the theme song from your radio show, Blaster?” Wheeljack asked.

“It is.” Blaster chuckled. “Well, I would say that means Jazz is alive and kicking. Only he’d send me that music file.”

The theme song ended and a video file started to play with Tremorwave on screen.

“Hey Deadlock! So I got your message. And, uh, I kinda had visitors at the compound when I played it.” Tremorwave looked off screen for a moment as he raised an optic ridge. “A lot has happened. So lemmie sum up before I hand this over to the head honcho. Basically, Megatron and Starscream were blown up and they’re currently at the medical center under heavy guard. Shockwave was hiding a really nice starship that I’m now CMO of under his compound. We’ve got fifteen? Sixteen? Something like that on board ready to fight. And the new leader here–” he jerked his head toward whoever was off screen. “has got a big ol’ plan to set things right again. In fact, I’ll let him tell you.”

Tremorwave got out of the chair and Prowl sat down.

Prowl?” Ratchet said, clearly not happy.

“First, let me say I appreciate any and all help you will be arriving with. But circumstances cannot wait much longer. Events that recently unfolded exposed our former Decepticon allies and it’s only a matter of time before retaliation will be exacted on us. Therefore I have a three pronged plan that will be set into motion on the attached date of the file that should be bundled with his message. Join us when you arrive, and may we all make Cybertron our home once again.”

The video ended and a set of plans popped up on screen.

“Prowl is the leader? This isn’t good,” Ratchet replied. “His schemes tend to not end well…”

“These plans look pretty solid to me?” Rodimus replied, reading them over.

“I doubt they would have chosen Prowl as their commander if they didn’t feel he was the right mech for the position,” Perceptor said, looking at Ratchet.

“I guess.” Ratchet scowled.

“From the looks of it, they’re moving on this in just a couple more days,” Blaster said.

“Will we get there in time to help?” Rodimus asked.

“Yeah, we should. I think they’re timing it to what you sent in that first message, Drift.” Blaster glanced over his shoulder at him.

Drift smiled. “Then let’s Dai Atlas know, and go take back our home like Prowl said. Right?”

Rodimus grinned at that. “Frag yeah.”

Jazz doubled checked his pistol, and then stowed it in his subspace pocket. “Forgot how much I missed having my sub-pocket.”

“Me, too,” Mirage replied, tucking energon rations in his.

“Oh! I got something for you,” Jazz said. He took hold of Mirage’s hand, and reached back into his pocket, pulling out the invisibility cloak device. Placing it in his friend’s palm, he smiled. “You should be using this.”

“Jazz…” Mirage folded his fingers around it and squeezed, initiating the cloak. His form shimmered out of view, leaving Jazz grinning. “Thank you so much!” Mirage’s invisible form hugged Jazz tightly.

Laughing, Jazz shook his head. “Suits you best anyway.”

Rematerializing, Mirage carefully attached it to his hand with the proper magnetizers.

Soundwave walked into the prepping area and came to a stop. “Prowl is ready to leave. First we must perform our part of the mission. Are you both properly armed and ready?”

“Sure are,” Jazz replied. “Let’s get going.”

Mirage nodded. “We’re taking Shockwave’s shuttle?”

“Yes. It has thicker outer hull plating than Tremorwave’s. Even still, we are going to have to be diligent in our actions to avoid failure,” Soundwave replied.

“Three of us against Swindle and his compound goons,” Mirage frowned. “Are we really going to be able to pull this off? I know I, for one, might be a little rusty at this.”

Jazz flashed a grin. “Try seven of us.”

Mirage canted his head. “Seven…?”

“Rumble, Frenzy, Ravage and Laserbeak are stowed and ready for my command,” Soundwave replied.

With bright optics, Mirage glanced at Soundwave’s chest. “Well, then. I feel a little better about our chances.”

...

In the cargo hold everyone assigned to the second mission milled around. The intercom buzzed on and Prowl spoke. “We will not be starting the engines until we have word that Swindle’s compound is secured. Please be on stand by. The alpha team is leaving the compound now.”

Bumblebee was excited he hadn’t been sidelined for the mission to take control of the refinery. His time in the regen tank had restored much of his lower sensory net, allowing him to walk again. All he needed now was a cane to help him maintain balance.

“You try commanding him, okay?” Sunstreaker said, handing off the leash to his pet insecticon.

Bumblebee looked down at the four optics staring up at him. “What do I say?”

“Try the S-I-T command,” Sunstreaker suggested.

“Um, Bob, sit,” Bumblebee said.

Bob plopped his rear end down, wriggling a little where he sat as he waited for his reward.

“Gotta toss him a treat,” Sideswipe said, gently elbowing Bumblebee.

“Oh, right!” Bumblebee pulled a box of treats from subspace and threw one, which Bob’s helping hands caught and shoved into his mouth. “So, will I need to throw a treat everytime I give a command?”

“Yeah… But don’t worry. We’ll be there, too. We won’t let anything happen to you,” Sunstreaker replied.

“Better not,” Bluestreak said as he wandered over after he’d checked his weapon and stowed it.

Bumblebee smiled at him. “Just glad I’m not getting left behind.”

“You kidding? You’re our rebellion leader. We need you there!” Sideswipe replied, slapping Bumblebee on the back.

“Can’t wait to see that fragger and take him down,” Smokescreen said with a dark look. “Right, Sunny?”

Sunstreaker’s expression also grew very dark and he sharply nodded. “Payback sucks slag.”

Ironhide huffed. “You two better not get carried away. We’re there to put Vortex and Brawl out of commission and get control of the facility. Not exact revenge.”

Bumblebee couldn’t help but feel sympathetic toward Smokescreen and Sunstreaker, though. Things he’d not mentioned to anyone, not even Bluestreak, made him want revenge, too. Beaten almost to death and left there as an example to the others, lingering in and out of consciousness for days had left unseen scars he’d carefully hidden away from everyone around him.

His comm link buzzed, drawing him from his thoughts. It was Bluestreak, despite the fact he was standing only a couple feet away.

:: You alright? :: Bluestreak asked.

:: Yeah. Ready to fight. You? :: Bumblebee asked, shoving his darker emotions aside.

“We’re gonna kick aft, either way. And set everyone there free. That’s the most important part,” Sideswipe piped up, trying to drain some of the tension from the room.

:: I’m ready. Been a long time since I fought. Hope I’m not too out of practice, :: Bluestreak replied, moving to stand right next to Bumblebee.

:: Honestly, with Ironhide, Sunstreaker and Sideswipe I think we’re gonna be fine. They’re all really strong, :: Bumblebee replied.

Bluestreak gently fondled one of Bumblebee’s repaired helm horns. “I’m really glad you’re coming along with us.”

Bumblebee looked up at him, his spark flip-flopping in his chest as he stared into his love’s pretty optics. “Me, too.”

Setting the shuttle down in a deserted area not too far from Swindle’s compound, the three disembarked.

Jazz looked at the compound not too far away, then clapped his hands together. “Let’s break in!”

Soundwave’s chestplate opened and Laserbeak ejected. “Laserbeak, disable rear cameras.”

Laserbeak squawked then flew off toward the compound.

“Mirage, you’re our invisible lead,” Jazz said, gesturing.

“Yes, sir.” Mirage initiated the cloak and disappeared from view.

They walked across the destroyed landscape, each focused on the mission. Jazz knew from the intell Shockwave provided that Swindle had reduced his guards after selling off most of his slaves. He now just raked in extra credits selling drugs to slave owners. This was hopefully true, and would give them an advantage.

Arriving at the back wall, no guards appeared.

“Laserbeak did it?” Jazz asked.

Soundwave nodded. “He is perched atop the guard tower.”

“There’s a backdoor, right?” Mirage’s disembodied voice asked.

“This way,” Soundwave replied.

They followed him until they reached a recessed entry way. “‘Raj, go ‘round and see if there’s a camera, and you know what to do if there is.”

“On it,” Mirage replied.

Soundwave placed a hand on Jazz’s shoulder. “We must move carefully.”

Jazz smiled up at him. “I got no plans on dying. Don’t you worry.”

The sound of metal being crunched under foot, signaled them to move in. At the door, Mirage had made short work of the camera, stomping it to pieces.

Jazz scowled. “Keypad entry with twenty buttons?”

Soundwave stepped forward, and removed the face off the panel with his fingertips. He then reached inside and took the needed wiring out, tying the proper ends together. The door then slid open.

“Wow. You may not have much in the way of subtly, but that was quite effective,” Mirage complimented as his footfall echoed into the building.

Jazz chuckled, and he and Soundwave stepped inside after him.

“Laserbeak is now hooked into the security system. He has disabled all alarms, and cameras are on feedback loops. We can move freely,” Soundwave informed him.

“Now that’s just cheatin’!” Jazz teased.

“Which way, though?” Mirage asked.

The corridor looked exactly the same each way, long and badly lit.

“Well, coming in the from the back, I think the cells are prolly above us. We need to get to the control tower in the middle, so prolly either way will work,” Jazz replied.

“Your reasoning is sound,” Soundwave replied.

After wandering for several minutes, Jazz was getting antsy. They hadn’t crossed a single guard, and the corridor looked the same as it had.

“Freeze!”

They all turned to see a guard armed with a stun gun.

“Oh, thank Primus. I was startin’ to worry we wouldn’t run into any guards,” Jazz replied. “‘Round the side, ‘Raj.”

The guard scrunched up his nose at Jazz. “Are you mental?”

“No, he was giving an order,” Mirage’s disembodied voice said before he kicked the guard in the side so hard he went careening into the wall.

Staggering back to his feet, the guard looked around wildly. “What the frag?”

Moving with speed, Jazz grabbed the guard from behind and held him in a headlock. Mirage disarmed him, sending the stun gun skittering across the floor.

“Alright, Mr. Guard-guy, which way to the main tower?” Jazz asked.

“Don’t kill me!” the guard shrieked.

“I don’t plan on killin’ you. Just point us in the right direction.” Jazz squeezed his neck hard to give him a little extra incentive.

Gagging, the guard clawed at his arm. “At the end of this corridor is a green door. That leads to the stairwell to the tower!”

“And the panel that controls all the collars is located there?” Soundwave asked.

The guard looked at him, and scowled. “You’re the one that betrayed Megatron.”

“Answer the question!” Jazz replied, wrenching on the guard’s neck.

With a strangled cry of pain, the guard nodded. “Alright, alright. No, the panel for the collars is this level in the main control room for the cells.”

“Show us,” Mirage replied.

Looking around for who spoke, he fervently nodded. “Right, okay. Just don’t kill me!”

Soundwave stepped up and pulled a set of stasis cuffs from subspace. He clasped them around the guard’s wrist. “Lead the way.”

Jazz let go once Soundwave had firm hold of the guard’s arm.

“Th-this way,” the guard said as he started down the corridor. “You guys have no idea what it’s been like since Swindle did his last auction… It’s been horrible.”

“Horrible?” Jazz asked.

“Swindle, he’s hooked on his own drug supply…” the guard winced. “He’s killed several of us for sport.”

“His own guards?” Jazz asked.

“Yeah,” the guard replied.

Jazz was shocked. “Why the frag did you stay, then?”

“There’s hardly any jobs. If I don’t work here I’ll be out on the streets, which is way worse.” The guard looked miserable as he admitted to what had been going on.
“Swindle kept a couple Autobots for himself, and he’s holed up in the control room with them, getting high and well...” the guard came to a stop beside a dark purple door. “You’ll see.”

Soundwave pulled the guard to the keypad entry panel. “Open the door.”

The guard did as he was told, entering the passcode.

The door slid open and to their collective horror they took in the scene before them. Swindle was lying on a makeshift berth made up of dirty padding on the floor in front of the control panel. Over top of him, their comrade Hound was riding his spike. Swindle had a lead attached to his collar, holding it tight so there was no slack and jerking on it to force Hound to continue on despite the sudden audience. In the back corner of the room Skids was chained to wall by his wrists and middle, optics whited out from being extremely drugged.

“For the love of Primus!” Jazz was outraged.

“Hound?” Mirage suddenly shimmered into view, visibly shaking. “I’m going to purge…”

“Swindle. Desist.” Soundwave walked right into the room, still holding the guard by the arm. With his free hand, he snatched the lead from Swindle’s grasp.

Mirage quickly turned and wretched his morning ration of fuel all over the floor, and Jazz gently touched his back. “‘Raj…”

“Just go get him off that sick fragger,” Mirage grumbled as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Jazz did just that, walking over and taking the lead from Soundwave. “Come ‘on, Hound.” Dazed, and clearly not sure what was going on, Hound dismounted and shakily got to his feet. Jazz cupped his face, looking into his pale optics. “We got you. You’re safe, ‘kay?”

“Soundwave?” Swindle sat up. “What the frag are you doing here? Megatron decreed your death upon sight! I should shoot you dead!” He then began to maniacally laugh.

“How is that a humorous sentiment?” Soundwave asked, letting go of the guard’s arm.

Clearly not interested in staying, the guard bolted out of the room. Ignoring the runaway guard, Soundwave wrapped his large hand around Swindle’s arm, hauling him to his feet.

“It’s hilarious!” Swindle cackled more. “Because–” he wheezed. “-because you’re Soundwave! I don’t have a death wish myself. I kill you and I get a set of cassettes peeling my plating off piece by piece!” His laughter got even louder, and he wrapped an arm around his middle, laughing so hard he was nearly doubling over.

Mirage suddenly lunged at Swindle, energon knife appearing from his subspace. With his whole frame, he slammed Swindle into the control panel, ripping him from Soundwave’s grasp. “What is wrong with you!?” He brandished the knife, scraping the edge against Swindle’s main fuel line along his neck. “You sick piece of scrap. You don’t deserve to live!”

“Mirage!” Jazz barked his full name, hoping that would help rein him in. “We've gotta mission and the clock is runnin’. Secure Swindle with cuffs and stand down. Soundwave needs access to the control panel.”

Mirage pulled back and slumped his shoulders. “If it wasn’t for this aft, I wouldn’t have been violated over and over and over by that seeker. He deserves no mercy, Jazz.”

“And if he hadn’t, you wouldn’t have ended up in Thundercracker’s place. You can’t play the 'what if' game with what’s happened. All we can do is move forward and do our best not to repeat mistakes. Killing Swindle is a mistake. He should spend his life in a cell just like the ones he kept us in,” Jazz replied.

Relenting with an exasperated huff, Mirage stashed the energon blade and pulled out a pair of stasis cuffs, snapping them over Swindle’s wrists. “You sound like Prowl,” he grumbled.

Jazz took that as a compliment, even if Mirage hadn’t meant it as one.

Obviously still high, Swindle continued to laugh as Mirage hauled him off the control panel and threw him to the floor.

Jazz sighed, glad that he’d been able to reason with Mirage. He wondered how many of the others might end up having similar reactions when facing down their oppressors, though.

Soundwave sat down at the control panel, and began to work on hacking into the system to disable the collar remote control signals.

“You want to hold Hound, or help remove the chains on Skids?” Jazz asked, looking at Mirage.

Mirage looked at Hound. Jazz knew they were good friends from before their enslavement. “I’ll handle Hound.”

Jazz gently handed Hound off to Mirage and moved to the corner of the room to work on removing the shackles and bindings around Skids. He found the locks weren’t too complicated, and undid the pins easily, removing the bindings piece by piece.

Meanwhile Mirage removed the lead on Hound's collar, and he cupped his face. “Hello, old friend.”

Too out of it from whatever was pumping through his lines, Hound’s brow creased, but he didn’t seem to understand or even recognize Mirage.

Jazz finished unbinding Skids, and looked into his white-colored optics. “Hey, there. You still with us?”

After a long moment, Skids nodded once.

“By the color of their optics, I'd venture to guess they are both on a memory-inhibiting drug,” Soundwave said. “Until it’s flushed out of their systems and processors reset they will not fully recognize anyone.”

Jazz sighed. “This is fragged up.”

“Indeed," Soundwave replied. "I have gotten past the password protections."

“You know, you shouldn’t have let that guard go,” Swindle said from where he lay on the floor, giggling.

“Why is that?” Jazz asked walking over to him.

“Because, he’s gonna tell on you!” Swindle cackled.

“Tell on us to who?” Jazz asked.

Pausing his laughter, Swindle snorted. “Just because I’m not suicidal enough to try and kill Big and Blue over there doesn’t mean other desperate mechs out there in need of credits aren’t! His bounty is huge!”

Jazz looked at Soundwave. “You almost done there? Sounds like we need to beat feet outta here.”

The control panel’s varying red, orange and yellow lights suddenly all went black as the panel shut down. “Yes, we may leave. The collars are disabled.”

“Let’s go,” Jazz replied.

Mirage removed Hound’s collar now that it was deactivated. He then squatted down and hooked it in place around Swindle’s neck. “A perfect fit, you piece of scrap.” Snapping the lead in the jangling loop, he stood up and tugged. “Get up!”

Swindle looked pretty pathetic, floundering to get to his feet, while trying to unsuccessfully repress his laughing.

Jazz gently took hold of Skids arm, and helped him up. “Sounders, you grab Hound? And ‘Raj, Swindle is yours. Let’s get back to the ship–”

Just then there was an explosion. Debris filled the air, raining down on them.

“What the frag?” Jazz called out.

A large girder fell across the doorway, blocking them in.

Mirage ran forward, pushing at it. “No!”

“It appears we’re trapped.” Soundwave’s chestplate opened, releasing Rumble, Frenzy and Ravage.

“Whoa!” Rumble looked around at the destroyed area. “What happened?”

“An explosion, you idiot,” Frenzy replied.

Swindle started cackling again. “My security guards that aren’t dead must have set off the explosives!”

“What?” Jazz whirled around and grabbed the dropped lead, yanking hard on it. “What explosives?”

“It’s rigged so if I ever had an uprising, I can blockade areas or blow up the slaves,” Swindle replied with a maniacal grin. “They set off the bombs to keep anyone from getting to the control panel. Told you not to let that guard go.”

“Fraggit!” Jazz dropped the lead and held his head in his hands for a moment, looking around frantically, trying to think fast.

“We’re easy targets now,” Mirage said, brushing some of the dust and debris from his shoulder, then turning to Hound, and knocking some off him as well.

“Jazz, may I suggest a course of action?” Soundwave said.

“Sure, what do you think?” Jazz asked, desperate for a plan of any kind.

“Notify Prowl of collar deactivation, and barricade our position until the other two missions are fulfilled,” Soundwave replied. “With cassettes, and Laserbeak outside, we have a reasonable chance to fend off guards. Eventually, our comrades will come seek us out.”

“We’ll knock ‘em on their afts!” Rumble added, excitedly.

“We don’t have much choice, do we?” Mirage said with a frown.

“Slaggit. You’re right. I’ll send the signal to Prowl that we did our part,” Jazz replied, praying to Primus they could hold out long enough. He opened his comm link and sent the prearranged energy signal over the secured line to Prowl.

:: Status? :: Prowl asked, his voice coming over the combined, open channel.

Everyone back on the ship would hear Jazz reply… He needed to be careful how he worded this. :: Collars deactivated. Proceed with next mission. ::

:: Your shuttle is stationary. ETA on return to compound? :: Prowl replied.

:: Uh, not sure. We sorta got ourselves in a situation, but proceed with plans. We’ll stick it out, :: Jazz explained.

There was a pause, and he averted his gaze from Mirage, Soundwave and the cassettes who were all staring at him.

:: Understood. Location to proceed to once we’ve completed our objectives? :: Prowl finally responded.

:: Control room of Swindle’s place, :: Jazz replied.

:: Stay put. We’ll come the minute mission two and three are complete. :: Prowl cut the communication.

Mirage sighed, and resumed brushing dust off Hound. Jazz glanced at the girder, and scowled when he heard voices echoing from down the hall on the other side. “Get Hound, Skids and this idiot–” he jerked his head at Swindle. “–behind the panel. Everyone else arm up and get ready.”

“Let’s get going. Last thing I need is to lose the alpha team,” Prowl said, settling into the captain’s seat of the bridge.

Shockwave had offered to be the navigator, and he nodded to Prowl as he opened the intercom to the engine room. “Ironfist, Skyfire, report on engines.”

“We’re all set!” Ironfist replied.

“And Red is coming up to help out on the bridge," Skyfire added. "He insisted."

That surprised Prowl, but he wasn’t going to argue the point. Trying to fly this large a ship with himself and Shockwave at the helm was definitely on the ludicrous side, but he needed as many as could be spared for the second mission to take over the refinery.

Checking the main control panel, Prowl saw the lights for the engines all come on. The doorway to the bridge opened and he turned in his seat to see not just Red Alert, but Thundercracker walk onto the bridge. The large seeker leaned heavily on a cane to get around as he slowly made his way forward.

“Where would you like me, commander?” Thundercracker asked, meeting Prowl’s gaze.

“And me,” Red Alert added.

Prowl smiled at both of them. “Red, could you monitor all the chatter and communications? The station is right there,” he said pointing.

“On it,” Red Alert said as he plopped down in the seat and hooked the audio-piece to his helm.

“Are you sure you should even be out of medbay?” Prowl asked as he looked at Thundercracker’s abdomen injury still covered with a crude piece of mismatched plating.

“And pass up the chance to arrest Starscream for his actions and watch you snuff Megatron’s spark out? Not a chance. I can’t fly like this, but I can certainly still throw a punch when the time comes,” Thundercracker replied. “Besides, if Mirage needs rescuing later, I want to be there.”

Prowl sharply nodded.

“Okay, hangar doors are opening. Everyone not sitting down, find a seat quick!” Ironfist called out over the ship’s intercom.

Thundercracker took a seat at another console, and Prowl settled in. He checked the camera feed from the cargo area, and saw the beta team was ready. “Proceed when ready, Ironfist and Skyfire,” Prowl replied.

The engines roared on, and their ship that probably hadn’t moved in millenia lifted upward. From the cavernous metallic walled underworld of the hangar, they rose up into the light of the midday on Cybertron.

“Wasn’t sure this ship would lift off." Shockwave inclined his helm at Prowl. "You have command. Orders?"

Prowl straightened in his seat and opened the ship intercom. "Remove compound perimeter force field, lift up, initiate our ship's shield and head for the refinery. Let's take back our home."