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Dream of Life- Escapism

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Within minutes, the ship hovered over the roof of the refinery building, cargo opening and the beta team quickly disembarking.

On the roof, Bumblebee pointed the way toward the stairwell that would take them inside. Sunstreaker handed over the lead for Bob, and told him to protect their smaller comrade.

While they crossed the roof, the ship took back to the sky to initiate the third mission.

They soon clamored down the stairwell, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker leading the way with Ironhide at the back. Heavy hitters around their smaller teammates as protection. Bluestreak pulled his pistol from subspace, and Smokescreen followed suit.

“Okay, the offices are down at the end of this catwalk,” Bumblebee explained, pointing out where they should go. “There aren’t any guards here anywhere, since they keep everyone underfueled and I’m pretty sure it’s also laced with a drug.”

Bluestreak gently touched Bumblebee’s shoulder, not having realized he’d been drugged while here. Looking down at the refinery floor below, he frowned. “Where is everyone?”

“We must have arrived at a shift change,” Bumblebee replied, gazing down. “Vortex herds the group that had been working into one of the big holding rooms, then releases another group to go to work.”

“I think we need to split up,” Sunstreaker said. “Me, Sides, Smokes, we go to the subdue the afts in charge, and the rest of you go help free the workers.”

“No way,” Ironhide replied. “We stay together.”

Sunstreaker grimaced and opened his mouth to protest, but was interrupted.

“What the frag?” Brawl shouted as he emerged from the office area.

They all turned to look at him.

“Hey there!” Sideswipe yelled back, waving like a doofus.

Smokescreen snorted and laughed at Sideswipe.

“What are a bunch of Autobot slaves doing here?” Brawl roared as he lumbered toward them.

“Funny story, we aren’t slaves,” Sideswipe replied, shrugging his shoulders. “And as of a little while ago, neither are your factory workers.”

“And just to be clear, we’re here to kick your aft,” Sunstreaker added with a dark smile.

“Come on you two idiots, let’s subdue him. Rest of you, watch our backs,” Ironhide said, taking over a leadership sort of role.

The three moved forward. Brawl wasn’t a small mech and he easily shoved Sunstreaker backward onto to his aft, but he got back to his feet in an instant. No matter how big this monster was, Brawl couldn’t fend off all three of them. Sideswipe jumped up on his back, hooking his arm around the larger mech’s neck and squeezing in an awkward headlock. Ironhide smirked and his fist flew with all his strength, slamming Brawl across the face. Stumbling a step, Brawl groaned, optics flickering. Sideswipe squeezed his neck harder, and Sunstreaker stepped up, punching the other side of Brawl’s face. He and Ironhide took turns until Brawl passed out from the multiple hits to his helm and toppled forward.

“Whoa!” Sideswipe called out, riding the large mech as he fell. Scrambling to his feet, Sideswipe grinned. “Awesome team work!”

Bluestreak moved in quickly with a set of stasis cuffs, locking Brawl’s hands in place behind his back.

“Here, we should wrap him up good,” Ironhide said, taking out a length energon rope.

The group worked in unison until Brawl was completely tied up and immobile.

“Okay, now we find Vortex,” Sunstreaker said, standing back up after tying off an end of rope around Brawl’s leg. He leaned against the railing of the catwalk and looked down. “How do we get down there?”

Bumblebee jerked his head toward the office area. “There’s a stairwell back behind the offices.”

“Let’s go.” Ironhide lumbered toward the office, and the small team followed him.

The voices of the guards on the other side of the girder and the debris echoed. Jazz, Mirage, Soundwave and his cassettes stood at the ready. The good thing about their being trapped meant they were out of reach of the guards for the moment. Jazz could hear them digging as they yelled at one another about getting tools to break through. It was only a matter of time before their team would have to defend their position.  

“That’s right, good…” Swindle’s voice softly crooned.

Jazz rounded the control panel console to see Skids bent over with a mouth full of Swindle’s spike. “Are you serious?” Jazz grabbed hold of Skids, pulling him off and then picked up Swindle’s lead, jerking him toward the back wall of the small room.

Skids sat back and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

Mirage came around to help keep Skids and Hound contained as Jazz tied Swindle up with the lead, wrapping it around him several times before tying it off.

Soundwave didn’t move from his position, only casting a look over his shoulder once at the scene while he secured Swindle.

“What happened?” Frenzy asked, jumping up to stand on the console.

“Swindle using Autobots inappropriately,” Soundwave replied.

Rumble joined his brother, and they both glanced at Skids and Hound now curled up together against the backside of the control panel. “Why would he want them all out of it like that?” Rumble asked.

“Oh, they’re delightful like that! They do anything I ask. Obedient and submissive,” Swindle replied with a huge grin.

“Pfft. What fun is it if you have to boss them around, though?” Frenzy asked. “Way more fun when everyone is into it.” He elbowed Rumble. “Right?”

Rumble chuckled at that.

Mirage looked vaguely disturbed by the implications of their comments, but didn’t say anything.

“So, Big and Blue over there, tell me, has your purchase been satisfactory?” Swindle asked.

“Shut up,” Jazz replied.

“You know he wanted to buy you specifically, right? He asked what night you’d be put up for sale. I maybe high right now, but I remember what a pain in the aft you were that night. Had to give you an extra large dose and you scuffed your finish when we subdued you. Still, Soundwave wanted your fine aft, scuffs, attitude problem and all,” Swindle said, chuckling.

“You don’t know anything, so shut it already,” Jazz replied.

“What did you say to me, Big and Blue? ‘The visored one, Jazz, was an attractive piece you wanted to have’?” Swindle smirked as Soundwave turned to look over his shoulder at him.

“I did make that statement, but it was for your benefit,” Soundwave replied.

Jazz frowned and tried to not let Swindle’s prattle get to him. “Mirage, you mind watching those two?”

Mirage nodded.

Returning to Soundwave’s side, he softly sighed. His whole existence, his love for this mech and the fact he had paid for him started to make him feel uneasy and unsure. He prefered to act in the moment, live day by day. Reflecting on the past, trying to imagine a future, those were things he usually avoided for just this sort of reason.

Soundwave gently touched Jazz’s hand, and he glanced up at him as their fingers laced together. His spark fluttered as he gazed into that red visor, and the unease began to ebb. No matter how he arrived at this moment with this mech, he knew deep down this was where he wanted to be.

Walking through the refinery floor area, minibots and other non-fighting military built mechs began to stream into the area around them.

Their team came to a stop. Bumblebee sadly frowned, watching his former co-workers walk right past without even questioning their presence, proceeding to their assigned tasks to set to work.

“What the frag?” Sunstreaker said, watching them.

“They’re like drones,” Sideswipe softly murmured.

“Vortex broke their wills. I hate to say it, but I think my rebellion probably made them even more complacent since I was beaten right in front of them all,” Bumblebee said with a sigh.

“Vortex is a piece of trash that needs to be taken out,” Sunstreaker replied, his anger rising to the surface.

Bob chirred and sniffed at the mechs walking past, but not even the presence of an insecticon was enough to rouse them from their stupors.

“Bee?”

Looking toward who’d called his name, Bumblebee’s face lit up. “Huffer!”

Huffer ran over and threw his arms around Bumblebee’s neck, clinging to him in a tight hug. “You’re alive! I thought for sure you were gonna die.”

Bluestreak smiled at how happy the two looked to be reunited.

Pulling back from the hug, Huffer scrunched up his nose. “Why are you here?” He then looked at the team all staring down at him. “Where are all your collars?”

Bluestreak reached down, and unlatched the one around Huffer’s neck. “We’re free again, and so are you.”

Bumblebee smiled at Huffer. “We’re here to free you all. We already tied up Brawl, but we need to find Vortex.”

Huffer stared with bright optics as Bluestreak dropped his collar to the floor and crunched it under his foot. “Uh, he’s in the back handing out rations to the group that just finished their shift.”

“Blue, Bee, how ‘bout you two deal with gettin’ these mechs off the machines and de-collared. The rest of us will go pay Vortex a little visit,” Ironhide said.

“Sounds like a plan,” Bumblebee replied.

Sunstreaker took off at that, with Sideswipe, Smokescreen and Ironhide hot on his heels. Near the back of the refinery was a large open warehouse-like space that was empty of mechs. Dirty, disgusting berth paddings lay strewn across the floor, and oil and energon stains were everywhere.

He then moved to another doorway that peered into an identical warehouse area, this one filled with minibots and others. Some were lying down, but most were standing in a long line to get their ration off a rolling cart that Vortex was manning.

“Hurry up you pieces of scrap, take your ration and step back!” Vortex barked at them.

Zeroing in on the mech that had made his life miserable for months and months, Sunstreaker stalked forward. Nothing else registered except his rage. Reaching the cart, Sunstreaker darkly smiled as Vortex looked up and their gazes met.

“Wha-what the frag!” Vortex staggered backward.

Sunstreaker found his former master’s fear intoxicating. With each step Vortex took backward, Sunstreaker took another step closer. “Weren’t expecting to ever see me again, huh?”

“You-your collar. What’s going on?” Vortex stammered.

“You’ve been removed from your position here. No more torturing anyone ever again. That’s what’s going on,” Sunstreaker replied, stepping into Vortex’s personal space.

“Get away from me!” Vortex stumbled as he tried to back up further, falling over a dirtied berth pad on the ground.

Sunstreaker dropped down over top of him, straddling his hips. “Aww, didn’t you miss me?”

“No! Get off me! You’re disgusting! You’re-you’re…” Vortex was so upset by Sunstreaker’s very presence, he wasn’t even trying to fight back. It was pathetic.

I’m disgusting?” Sunstreaker said, taunting the larger mech. He then ground his interface cover against Vortex’s, taking intense pleasure in the whimpered response he got. “But didn’t you enjoy finally sticking your spike in me? Wasn’t that what you wanted all along? No?

“Sunstreaker!” Ironhide bellowed. “Stop being a glitch and cuff ‘im.”

Sunstreaker ignored the older mech, focused on his prey, grinding their array covers harder. “Tell me I’m disgusting one more time, you sick piece of scrap.”

Vortex’s visor flashed as he pushed on Sunstreaker’s chest. “You’re a disgusting, vile Autobot!”

Rage and hatred blinded Sunstreaker and he swung his fist with all his force, cracking it across Vortex’s face plate mask. “That’s for calling me disgusting!” He swung again, this time hitting so hard he dislodged the mask. “This is for calling Smokescreen a piece of shareware!” He swung again. “This is for putting me in the torture closet!” His fist flew yet again. “This is for almost killing Bumblebee!” Soon he was just pummeling his fists across Vortex’s face, which had cracked and began to seep energon. He didn’t even notice that he’s knocked him offline, his hurt and anger owning him to his core.

He vaguely heard his comrades yelling at him to stop, but he couldn’t. He wanted to kill this mech. He wanted there to be nothing but a stump where his head should be. Suddenly, he felt something he hadn’t in eons. Unconditional love poured into his spark from his brother which brought his attack to a halt. With his arm raised for another blow, he was left overwhelmed by a love so intense it had obliterated his rage in a spark pulse. Arm falling to his side, he sat back on his heels, tears glistening over his optics.

“I got you,” Sideswipe said.

Arms wrapped around his chest from behind, lifting him back to his feet. Sideswipe held him, hugging him tightly and murmuring his love to him softly. This was why Prowl had insisted they re-open their bond. Linked like this again, they could keep one another safe and sane. He let his tears slip from his optics, uncaring how he might look to the rest of them.

Ironhide grumbled as he secured a now offlined Vortex. Smokescreen helped him, but as soon as he was done tying off his part, he got to his feet and walked up to Sunstreaker.

Sunny...” Smokescreen pressed in close, and hugged him from the front, resting the side of his face against his chest. “Thank you.”

Sandwiched between the two mechs that had helped him survive his time with Vortex, he broke down completely, trembling as he quietly sobbed.

“Always got you, Sunny,” Sideswipe whispered from behind. “Always.”

He loosely slid his arms around Smokescreen, and pushed back all the love he carried inside his spark for his brother over the bond. He didn’t deserve an ounce of this affection from either of them, but Primus he wanted and needed it right now.

Ironhide’s expression softened when Smokescreen thanked Sunstreaker. Watching the three together, he could see how much pain and hurt Sunstreaker had been trying to hold in. The abuse they’d all endured had been brutal, and taken quite a toll on each of them. It was a wonder they were able to function at all. Still, here they were, with a refinery of free mechs.

Ironhide opened the general comm link line they were using for their missions to report in and sent his special signal to Prowl.

:: Refinery is secured. It’s a mess, though. Workers here are in bad shape, but we got the two goons in charge all tied up. ::

:: Excellent news. No injuries? :: Prowl responded.

:: Nah. The team is fine, :: Ironhide replied.

:: Good. As soon as I can, I will report in on our final mission, :: Prowl replied.

The comm link line then cut out.

The ship rounded the city and then straightened out as the targeted area they were heading for came into view on the monitors.

“Everyone hang on tight,” Prowl said, grasping the console. He pressed the intercom button. “Ironfist, Skyfire, grab onto something!”

They all braced themselves as Shockwave steered them at a sharp angle toward the medical center where Megatron and Starscream were. Jazz’s plan set into motion, the large ship careened into building’s front area, taking out about a quarter of the building before they came to a stop. According to the schematics Shockwave had acquired, they had smashed into the refectory area first, and then took out the offices and waiting areas. The ship was protected from any damage thanks to the force field wrapped around it.

“Tremorwave, in case of any injuries we may have caused from our little landing, be on stand by,” Prowl said over the intercom before practically leaping out of his seat. “Red, stay here, monitor all chatter and if there’s anything we should know abou–”

“Our crash is being broadcast on the news network. They’re saying the medical center was shut down after Megatron’s arrival?” Red Alert frowned. “Apparently fearing further retaliation against Megatron, all patients were moved to smaller medical centers around the city when he and Starscream arrived in case there was another attempt on their lives.”

Thundercracker derisively snorted at that.

“Let’s perform our mission, then,” Shockwave said, also getting to his feet.

Prowl nodded, and offered a hand to help Thundercracker up. “Let’s finish this once and for all. Red, keep me apprised.”

“Yes, sir!” Red Alert replied.

...

The drilling sounds were getting louder, along with the shouts and hollers of the guards.

“They’re going to break through any second,” Mirage commented with a frown.

“Bring it on!” Rumble said, transforming his arms into pile drivers.

“Frag yeah!” Frenzy added, following suit.

Jazz half-smiled at them. It was funny, he’d hated all the cassettes so much at first. Unruly, out of control little mechs that did nothing but tease and annoy him. But now, he saw how intensely loyal they were to Soundwave, and he found he respected them for that.

“Laserbeak reports four mechs attempting to break in,” Soundwave said, looking at Jazz.

“I have four guards left? Wow, thought I killed more than that,” Swindle said, chuckling.

“You are seriously fragged up,” Mirage said.

Jazz turned to look at Mirage, somewhat shocked to hear him use such a term. “You should swear more often!”

Mirage huffed. “I wish he’d just shut up, honestly.”

More debris dislodged and the voices got louder.

“Swindle, if you don’t keep your trap shut, I will shoot you in the mouth. Clear?” Jazz said, looking at their tied up prisoner. Of course, all Swindle did was start cackling.

“Everyone, get ready,” Jazz said, holding up his pistol. “Protect Hound and Skids as best we can.”

Ravage then jaunted behind the console and nudged Mirage away.

“Ravage will protect them. You may join us to fight, Mirage,” Soundwave explained.

Mirage raised an optic ridge at the cybercat, then got into position next to Jazz, also holding up his pistol.

“We can totally take four of ‘em. So let’s kick their afts, ‘kay?” Jazz said.

Everyone nodded in agreement.

A section of girder fell inside from the guards’ laser cutting efforts and a face of a guard they’d not seen before peered in. “Well, hello there! The bounty is all mine, mechs!”

“I don’t think so!” Rumble shouted.

“Now!” Frenzy yelled.

The two of them rattled the floor with their piledrivers, while Jazz and Mirage tried to pick off the guard with their pistols. Their target ducked the shots, and threw something small and round into room.

“That’s a bomb!” Mirage shouted.

They all ran to get behind the control console, and Soundwave did his best to shield all of them with his much larger mass. The bomb went off, heat barreling through the small room.

Once the heat of the explosion passed, Jazz winced and looked up to see the ceiling was cracked and crumbling. Pieces from the shattered ceiling started to rain down on them, but Soundwave remained where he was, bodily covering Jazz, who had Rumble and Frenzy in his lap, Mirage, Hound and Skids as much as he could. Then, despite his drugged state, Hound got to his knees, and mirrored Soundwave’s posture, using his larger bulk to help shield Skids and Mirage a little better.

The sound of debris falling was all they heard for what felt like forever. Finally, the roar of the building collapsing ceased.

“Everyone still here?” Jazz asked.

In the darkness, only the light of their optics illuminated their debris surrounded tomb.

“I think so?” Mirage reached up and cupped Hound’s face. “Thank you.”

“We’re okay,” Rumble and Frenzy replied in unison.

“The weight is heavy, but I can sustain this position with Hound’s assistance,” Soundwave replied.

“Wait, where’s Ravage?” Jazz said, looking at their little cocooned group.

Soundwave was silent for a moment. “Escaped. She will search out help with Laserbeak.”

“How in the world did she get out?” Jazz said, surprised and relieved.

“Ravage jumped through the hole just before the explosion,” Soundwave replied.

“Well, this isn’t how I thought I’d die, you?” Rumble asked his brother.

“Nah, I figured in a hail of glory! Shooting and fighting and stuff,” Frenzy replied.

Jazz snorted. “We’ll be alright. We aren’t dead yet, and I got no plans on biting it now.”

The two looked up at him. “Thanks for grabbing us before the bomb went off. You’re not so bad, Autobrat,” Rumble replied.

“Yeah, and you’ve got a cute aft, too,” Frenzy added with a grin.

“Refrain from harassing Jazz, please,” Soundwave replied.

“Eh, don’t worry ‘bout it. They can harass me with compliments. Besides, I thought you liked my aft, too?” Jazz said, teasing Soundwave. The brother cassettes both laughed.

Mirage shook his head. “I didn’t understand before. But I think I do, now. You two fit very well together.”

Jazz smiled at Mirage.

“Hello?” a familiar voice called out. “Anyone alive here?”

Mirage and Jazz exchanged looks.

“Is this an auditory hallucination, or did I just hear Wheeljack?” Mirage asked.

“Hello? Oh-uh… Nice kitty,” Wheeljack said.

“Ravage is on our side!” Jazz yelled. “She won’t hurt you!”

“Jazz? That you?” Wheeljack called back.

“Yeah! My whole team is here, plus a couple rescued mechs! We got buried!” Jazz shouted.

“Hey, Ratch! Roddy! Guys! They’re over here! We gotta dig ‘em out!” Wheeljack yelled.

Soundwave retracted his mask, revealing a smile to Jazz. “We will be saved.”

“Slag, yeah we will!” Jazz squished the brothers in his lap to tip his head up and kiss Soundwave in celebration. “Now let’s hope Prowl and Shockers pull off their part without a hitch.”

Picking their way through the destroyed medical center, Prowl and Shockwave took the lead, armed and ready to fight any would be guards they crossed paths with. So far, though, the building looked to be abandoned.

“Megatron should be on this level in a large suite at the back,” Shockwave said, turning down a main corridor.

“Will Starscream be with him?” Thundercracker asked, hobbling along behind them with his cane.

“Yes. He should be,” Shockwave replied.

A group of Decepticons ran into the corridor from an adjoining hallway. When they saw Prowl, Shockwave and Thundercracker, they all dropped to the knees with their arms up.

“We surrender!” one of the called out.

“Just don’t kill us!” another said.

“What the?” Prowl didn’t understand, but he wasn’t going to question the good fortune. “All of you up against the wall!”

The group scrambled at his barked order. He counted eight of them, pressed against the corridor wall. They looked terrified.

“What is going on?” Thundercracker asked in a hushed voice.

Their comm links all pinged.

:: Um, so someone named Dai Atlas commed in, and he said his ships landed, and they’re busy subduing anyone wearing a Decepticon symbol, :: Red Alert informed them.

“That explains it,” Shockwave replied. “Reinforcements are here.”

:: Send Dai Atlas this message: No killing any of the Decepticons. Arrest and detain for later sorting. Free all slaves of their collars but also round them up so they also can be properly examined and processed. Got all that, Red? :: Prowl replied.

:: Got it. I’ll let him know. Oh, and I just got a message from Jazz. His team was rescued from Swindle’s compound by Rodimus’ group. And they’re searching for Swindle. They don’t know if he’s dead or not, :: Red Alert replied.

“Who’s Rodimus?” Shockwave asked.

Prowl sighed. “I assume that’s Hot Rod, and I honestly don’t need the backstory right now. Let’s move on.”

“What about us?” one of the Decepticons against the wall asked.

“Stay put. You’ll be detained shortly,” Prowl replied before resuming down the hallway.

A closed door greeted them at the end, and Prowl glanced at Shockwave.

“He should be inside,” Shockwave quietly replied to the look. He pressed his laser hand to the control pad and shot it, shorting it out. The door hissed and unlocked.

Prowl grabbed hold of the door’s edge and pulled it open, revealing a sad scene inside.

Megatron was laid out on a medical berth hooked up to several machines. Wiring and lines with fluids were connected to his prone form, disappearing inside his opened chest. The soft beeps of a life support system eerily echoed in the room.

He wasn’t alone. Starscream was also curled up in the medical berth with him, barely lifting his head when he saw the intruders. Burns and dents covered his body, but he looked to be in fair shape considering how intense the blast to the apartment building had been.

“You,” Starscream said, stirring when he locked his gaze on Thundercracker. He weakly sat up. “You did this to him. Betrayer, traitor! How dare you come here!”

Thundercracker frowned. “How are you not dead?”

“He protected me.” Starscream looked down at Megatron, fingers gently stroking the side of his face. “When the roar and fire of the bomb started to barrel through the apartment, he threw me down to the floor and covered me with his bulk.”

Prowl wasn’t sure what to think of that, especially in light of what Jazz had relayed him about what he’d seen in the apartment after his mission.

“One act of kindness toward you in the face of eons of abuse doesn’t absolve him of his crimes,” Shockwave replied.

“He loved me!” Starscream spat back, optics wild and bright.

“Loved? He didn’t love anyone or anything, Starscream,” Thundercracker replied.

“What do you know about love, traitor? Your spark is too twisted to ever understand,” Starscream replied.

It was one of the saddest sights Prowl had ever seen in his life. Starscream so brutalized, so abused, so lost in his way that he believed Megatron had acted out of love. “You were a possession,” Prowl said after a moment. “He most likely believed with his larger, armored frame he’d be able to weather the explosion and acted accordingly to protect his prize.”

“Shut up!” Starscream replied, tears making his optics glossy. “You know nothing!”

“I know love,” Prowl replied. “He was incapable of such an emotion.”

“Frag you! Frag all of you! Get out! Leave us be!” Starscream threw himself back over Megatron’s unmoving body, sobbing and trembling.

Thundercracker limped forward with his cane. He ran a hand down Starscream’s wing slowly in a gesture of comfort. “You need to let go of him. He’s only alive because of these machines. It’s all over now.”

Starscream twisted to peer up at Thundercracker. “Will you kill me as well?”

“No,” Thundercracker replied.

“I’ll be locked away for the rest of my days, won’t I?” Starscream asked, a coldness entering his tone.

“Yes,” Shockwave replied.

Starscream pushed to sit up again, wiping at his face. “The broadcasts are saying three ships landed. That the slaves are free now. Is this all your doing? Did you all destroy everything he built here?”

“We overthrew a tyrant that was oppressing and abusing everyone he came in contact with, including you,” Prowl replied as he stepped forward, holding his weapon at the ready just in case.

“Keh, that’s how you see it, I suppose.” Leaning down, Starscream kissed Megatron’s lips. “No one will ever understand you like me, and that means no one else should have this honor other than me.” Reaching into Megatron’s open chest, Starscream wrapped his hand around the exposed spark chamber. “If I’m going to be locked away for the rest of my days, I may as well be the one to murder him.” His hand squeezed the chamber.

Prowl’s doorwings began to tremble as he watched the light of Megatron’s spark brighten then flicker under the pressure. It looked just the same as when this monster had done the very same thing to Optimus on the battlefield. The memory of that horrible moment flooded Prowl’s processor as he watched the light in Megatron’s chest go out. Tears surfaced as both grief and relief swirled around inside his own spark. It was over. The war, the fight for their freedom, it was all over now.

Starscream sadly gazed at Megatron’s empty shell of a body for a moment, then held out both his hands to Thundercracker. “Arrest me, or whatever.”

Leaning his cane against his hip, Thundercracker pulled a pair of stasis cuffs from subspace and snapped them around his wrists without a word.

Shockwave gently touched Prowl’s arm. “Are you alright?”

Prowl nodded, battling the tears that were trying to escape. “We need to start  organizing and gaining control over the chaos we’ve caused.”

“Of course, commander,” Shockwave replied with warmth and respect.

The task ahead was daunting, but Prowl had faith in their kind. They were a resilient race. After all, sixteen or so mechs from both factions had just exhibited incredible strength and prevailed despite the odds stacked against them. In time, he knew things would be set right again.

Epilogue, one year later:

Walking down the long corridor from the council meeting room toward the front of the new government building, Prowl was lost in his own thoughts.

He’d been in charge of the situation on Cybertron those first few weeks after Megatron’s death. Rodimus had used the matrix to help heal their planet with Perceptor’s help using some sort of apparatus to direct the energy into the planet’s core, which renewed its internal energy levels and brought their planet back to life so to speak. All the freed slaves were soon on their way to recovery, while all the criminals were charged and put into detainment including Swindle who they’d eventually located and Starscream. Prowl had then called on Dai Atlas to help him form a new government. After long meetings, they’d decided on a council structure, but unlike the previous iteration, the members would rotate and be voted into their positions. At the moment, Prowl was on the new council but in all honesty he was already looking forward to stepping down at the end of his appointed term.

Reaching the end of the corridor, he walked into the large entryway of the building. He came to a stop in front of a life-sized statue they’d erected in Optimus’ honor. The statue was on a pedestal which put his feet at chest-level for most mechs, including Prowl. Placing a hand on his former mentor and leader’s foot, which was shinier from several mechs all doing the same, he sadly smiled up at him.

“I thought I might miss you less as time marched on, but I still feel a very real pain in my spark every time I look at this statue of you,” Prowl said. “I hope you can see from the Well of Sparks our efforts to heal. You didn’t die in vain. I’m doing my best to honor all you stood for.”

He then grew quiet, gazing at the face of the statue. Memories of their time as friends who sometimes were at odds with one another surfaced.

“Prowl! We’re gonna be late! What are you doing?” Sideswipe asked as he bounded across the entryway from the front doors toward him.

Glancing over, Prowl smiled at the sight of the two brothers. He braced himself as Sideswipe reached him first, arms wrapping around him and hugging him tightly. Sunstreaker strolled up with Bob trotting along behind him. Reaching them, he threw his arms around both of them, and leaned in to kiss Prowl’s cheek.

Bob wriggled his aft and chirred excitedly.

“Bob is ready to dance! How about you?” Sideswipe asked as he leaned back to gaze at Prowl.

“Dancing isn’t exactly a pastime I would chose,” Prowl replied.

“This isn’t a ‘pastime’, Prowl.” Sunstreaker raised an optic ridge. “This is a celebration. One a long time coming, if you ask me.”

Prowl softly sighed.

“Oh come on, Prowl.” Sideswipe started to dance a little against him. “You can’t deny having me and Sunny grinding up against you in front of everyone isn’t an ego boost.”

Heat flaring over his faceplates, Prowl shook his head. “I am certainly a fortunate mech.”

Sunstreaker grinned at that. “Two hot mechs dancing around you, frag yeah you are.”

Prowl playfully swatted at them. “Let’s get going.”

He’d honestly never imagined the relationship they’d forged would have lasted, but the two of them circled their lives around him like he was the center of their universe. No doubt it made him feel special and very lucky. He couldn’t imagine his life without them in it now, and silently reveled in every moment they shared together.

They walked out of the building, and made their way through the streets toward the origin of loud, booming music that echoed into the night around them. Rounding a corner the new dance club came into view. Named “Vibes”, Jazz and Soundwave had worked hard to bring a dream they shared to life. Opening night they’d decided to throw a party in celebration of the one year anniversary of winning their home back.

Entering the club, lights and music overtook all other senses. Prowl was pulled by each hand onto the dance floor, and the brothers danced around him, while Bob ran around their feet. He finally relented, and let his body move to the strong beats of the music, swaying and bopping between the twins.

Blaster was up on the stage, in charge of the music. Every one in the club was drinking, dancing and letting loose. It was a catharsis for their kind, finally enjoying their existence instead of lamenting it.

Jazz and Soundwave danced together near the stage, surrounded by the cassettes who were also enjoying themselves. Soundwave slid an arm around Jazz, dipping him backward and stealing a quick kiss after he retracted his mask.

“Sexy slagger,” Jazz replied loudly over the music.

Soundwave smiled. “Beautiful Jazz.”

Nearby Bluestreak stuck out in a small sea of minibots, but he only had optics for Bumblebee. They two held hands and swung around as they danced, both thrilled to have the other.

Smokescreen sat with Ironhide at a side table, optics bright as he watched the scene. Ironhide’s focus was on him, though, and after a moment, he took hold of Smokescreen’s hand and lumbered onto the dance floor, pulling his smaller companion along behind him. He then wrapped Smokescreen up his arms and despite the fast-paced beat, the two melted into one another’s embrace to slow-dance.

Shockwave no longer sported a singular hand and optic. They’d been replaced with an old, familiar visage of a time long before the war. Tremorwave had successfully reversed his empurata, and he now beamed as he smiled and danced with an overly excited and very awkward Ironfist. While there was no official word on their relationship as being more than friends, the two had been spending a lot of time with each other over the last few months.

Just next to them, Tremorwave danced with First Aid who was mobile again thanks to external leg modifications he’d designed himself. His affection for the rescued medic apparent each time he leaned in to kiss First Aid.

Thundercracker had also healed completely from his near death, and he and Mirage danced close, drawing on a traditional series of steps which bolstered their presence on the dance floor, mesmerizing those around them who couldn’t help but watch.

Another pair to arrived somewhat late, Skyfire and Red Alert. The two had spark bonded to one another in those first few days after Megatron’s defeat, and Red Alert was the happiest he’d been in a very long time. His sadness and loss stayed with him every moment, but the crushing loneliness was gone. Despite his reservations about Skyfire taking on the burden of his loss, it had worked out better than he imagined. He still didn’t understand how he’d found two mechs to love this much, but he thanked Primus constantly for the blessing he’d been given.

The music’s upbeat sounds slowed.

Drift pulled Perceptor close, and they kissed. “Love you,” Drift said against his lips.

Perceptor smiled. “I’m aware.”

Drift’s new blue optics brightened as he mock frowned. “Percy!”

Cupping his face, Perceptor kissed him again sweetly. “I love you, my beautiful fighter.”

Melting at that, Drift dimmed his optics. He’d never imagined when he bought this mech to save him all that time ago, they’d both end up free and so in love. He’d move the planets themselves for Perceptor if he had to and he spent every day trying his best to be worthy of Perceptor’s love.

Prowl barely moved with Sideswipe and Sunstreaker holding him between them and nuzzling his helm as they swayed with the slower song. Looking out across the dance floor, seeing all the truly free mechs smiling and happy was an amazing achievement and collective dream come true. He knew Optimus would be very proud if he’d lived to see this moment.

 

“To get a dream of life again, A little vision of the sun in the end,”
Breath of Life, Florence + The Machine