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Tale of Two Praxians

Chapter Text

The attack was over in seconds. As fast as it had begun, it was finished; leaving a once proud city burning, its people dead or dying.

No one made any preparations for the attack. No escape routes or procedures. Of course they hadn’t, no one expected such a thing to happen. Yes there was a war. And yes, other smaller towns had already been lost to the crossfire. But they were the first full city. Filled with innocents, most having little ties to the battle taking place.

Neutral. Not swayed to either side, the city’s governing body held firm on that accord. Both sides were at fault, depending on whom one asked. Yet, asking wouldn’t do you much good. The towers burned, every last soul inside dead. Nobles and commoners, so different and separate in the system, shared the same ending. The few mecha hailing from the city had left before hand. Cycles before the devastating blow, the few lucky ones having reported to their chosen sides.

Prowl surveyed the smoldering ruins of his homeland. He gazed at the buildings that had once been his job, his apartment, and other places that he went to. His optics sweeper forlornly at where Praxus’s Crystal Gardens used to bloom. The shards of the crystals glittered with the scarlett glow of the nearby flames.

The black and white Praxian continued his walk. He had no time to waste, even if it was to remember what just joors ago used to be there. He pressed on with the thought there still might be survivors. By now it was unlikely, so far no one in the city seemed to have lived. Seeing more greyed out frames of the deactivated, Prowl had to wonder, was that the intent?

Leave no one -mech, femme, sparkling- left? No grounder native to walk the busy streets of city again? No flyer to perform acrobatics above? And for what… a display of power? Another wrong supposed to correct the wrongs of the world?

The autobot tactician shook his head. He knew he shouldn’t think that way. But with every passing breem another small piece of hope wilted away within his spark.

After a few more breems, and not finding anything, the tactician knew it was time to head back to base. It was then Prowl first heard it. Distant at first, the sound slightly increased as Prowl made his way to it.

It sounded like that of a sparkling or youngling’s cries. But that shouldn’t have been possible. If no grown mech or femme had survived the tragedy, what hope could there be for a child?

Despite that thought, the adult Praxian still hurried towards the muffled wails. With so much rubble it was hard to walk in through the streets, much more so to run, but Prowl seemed to manage well.

Closing in on the noise, the autobot found himself staring at a dilapidated building. From the first glance, it appeared as though no one could for so long in such a place. But the muffled crying continued, so Prowl went in after it.

As he searched through the house, Prowl came across a femme’s offlined frame. Another room found a mech. If one didn’t look closely they would have missed the few scattered sparkling toys on the floor.

It had taken Prowl a bit to realized it but eventually he did notice after tripping on one. Covered in dust to match that of the ruined floor it was no wonder that the Praxian didn’t pick up on it at first.

Now suspicions confirmed, the tactician returned to his mission with added vigor. It took another comb of the house again before Prowl found his next helpful clue, that there could be a survivor.

Having gone unnoticed or cared in his first sweep, Prowl took a longer look at the frame of the mech. The bot had been thrown on the ground, faceplates appearing determined to get to something. The position of the legs seemed to show he was moving toward something, probably because it held value to the other mech. What was Prowl’s greatest clue was how the bot’s right servo had fallen. Limp like the rest of the body, but almost as if he had thrown something.

It took little time before the object was identified. An overturned energon cube sat near a doorway, it’s blue liquid seeping into the open room. With hurried steps Prowl followed after the trail. The cries had long since stopped, but now in the final room of the house the tactician could hear faint whimpers and sniffles, barely audial even now.

Continuing to follow the the glowing blue liquid trail, Prowl came across another pile of rubble. With a practiced ease after today, the Praxian removed it with ease, revealing a desk.

That wasn’t what surprised the older mech. It was what was under the desk that counted. Somehow, someway, perhaps by Primus’s will alone, a sparkling curled up in a ball peered back up at him.

Young and old Praxian held gaze with each other for sometime. The little one out of fear and the elder one out of pleasant shock. How had the little one manage to survive when all others couldn’t?

Prowl shook his head again, that didn’t matter. What was important was getting the child somewhere safe. The autobot tried what he hoped was an easy going, caring smile. “Hello there, young one.” He wasn’t sure how effective it would be, it wasn’t like Prowl had the same level of emotions as his friend Jazz did. He spread his arms out now kneeling on the dirty floor.

It took a moment but out of either trust or the want to be near someone else the tiny sparkling crawled into the older Praxian’s arms.

Careful not to hurt the little one, especially near the developing doorwing, the tactician scooped up the child and headed out of the house. Knowing the sparkling in his arms might feel distress about seeing the offlined frames of his creators, Prowl was careful to shield the optics of the little mech.

Once he got outside the crumbling building he commed the other officers on the base, ::Prepare the medbay. I’m returning with a survivor.::

Chapter Text

Ratchet was almost done repacking the emergency equipment when Prowl’s comm came in. Before he hadn’t had a need to use it, for out of the entire city of Praxus no one was left online. The medic had a sense of regret. If they had responded quick maybe he could have saved someone. But the Decepticons had spared no one, ever ruthless in their surprise attack of the neutral city.

::Prepare the Medbay. I’m returning with a survivor.::

Yet, the moment the call came in Ratchet was ready. This was his chance to make a difference. He just didn’t know how big of a difference it would.

“Wheeljack! I need the life support system online now! Pharma, standby but prepare for surgery!” He roared. Immediately the two other bots got busy getting systems and tools ready. Mechs and femmes who had minor injuries cleared the medbay rapidly. If their CMO was ordering his subordinates around like that, then it could only mean one thing. Someone had survived Praxus.

Currently, the who was curled up in his rescuer’s arms. The little sparkling was enjoying the warmth of the older Praxian’s spark. It reminded him of his creators. His creators! The little not almost forgot with all the screaming and shaking. It scared him. The sparkling chirped then whined, what if it happened again? Where was Sire and Carrier? He wanted them. He let out another whine and stared imploringly up at the other bot’s optics, squirming as he did so.

Prowl looked down when the bundle he was holding started to make a fuss. He didn’t have any experience with sparklings having no sparkmate or siblings of his own. The tactician did have an idea of what to do, seeing colleagues who did have young children go through this. Gently he bounced the small Praxian, smiling soothingly.

It took a breem or so, but the sparkling quieted down for awhile. He was happy and safe with this bot. The larger mech saved him from the scary screaming and shaking and then the silence that followed. The sparkling decided he could be trusted. Contented, the little bot snuggled back up in his guardian’s chassis.

Satisfied with the results, Prowl continued to head towards the base. It wasn’t far now, only a klick away. Aware of that fact Prowl scanned for any Decepticon signals. It wouldn’t do for him to put the rest of the Autobots in jeopardy because he was distracted.

The sentries guarding the exit opened up to let their Second in Command in without a second thought. They glanced at the bundle in Prowl’s arms, and one asked questionably, “Sir?”

“The survivor.” Prowl responded without hesitation. The two bots nodded and let the two pass.

The rest of the journey to the medbay, Prowl was met with many stares and double takes from the troops on the base. A few gave small coos or waves to the sparkling, but they weren’t returned. The little mech shrunk away from the strangers, hiding under his caretaker’s servos. The action only brought on slight chuckles and a small smirk from the mech himself.

“Woah, bro!” Prowl’s silence was interrupted by the two younglings on the base. The youngling who spoke ran over, “Look at that!”

“What?” His brother asked irritably, trailing after the first, who was making his way to the Autobot Second.

“Prowler has emotions!” The red one exclaimed.

“I don’t believe it.” His golden twin responded, tone in an absolute awe. Afterall, the tactician was normally expressionless. It wasn’t that Prowl had no emotions, they just kept well under check for the welfare of the troops. Of course, that also distanced Prowl from their social circles, but when skirmishes became bloody and causality rates grew it made the pain slightly less.

As if they thought the Autobot Second couldn’t hear them, the red youngling beamed and gave a wave, “Hiya Prowler!”

The named bot sighed, the nickname Jazz had given him long ago had seemed to stick, especially among the younger bots on the base. “Hello Sideswipe, Sunstreaker.” He nodded at the twins. “Is your guardian in the Medbay?”

The red youngling, Sideswipe, nodded eagerly, “Yep! What for?”

At the same time his brother pointed to the shifting bundle still in Prowl’s arms. “What’s that?”

As if the sparkling knew he was the object of the pointing and discussion he peaked his helm out.

Upon sight Sideswipe squealed and clapped, “Look Sunny! Prowlie has a sparkling!”

Sunstreaker responded by swatting his twin, “I know that, stupid! And my name isn’t ‘Sunny’, stop calling me that!”

If Sideswipe was fazed by the swatting he didn’t show it. “So whatcha need Ratch for?” He questioned, in a way one could consider innocent. That is if anyone could call the prankster youngling innocent. Many bots had made that mistake, and pranked for their ignorance.

“I need Ratchet to check on this little guy. We need to make sure he is healthy.”

“Okay! Follow me!” Sideswipe chirped running off in the medbay’s direction. As he past his twin he gave him a light slap and told him, “Tag! You’re it!”

His brother gave a whoop and ran after his brother. Prowl chuckled softly at the energetic younglings’ never ending bout of energy. It was a miracle sometimes with how Ratchet and Ironhide were able to keep up. As for the Praxian himself he followed after them, longer legs keeping stride at the walk.

Of course it wasn’t long before the two tired of the game. Apparently not in the mood for games, the two contented themselves with peppering the Commander with questions.

“Where’d ya find him?”

“What’s his designation?”

“Where’s his creators?”

“Is that his actual paint job?”

So on and so forth until the group reached Ratchet’s domain. It was here the two left him with a “See ya Prowler!” As they ran off they were talking excitedly and giggling, most likely over there latest prank. Ah well, he’d let Ratchet know after the check up.

The medical bay was in a frantic flurry when Prowl walked in. Over the noise Ratchet was giving orders to medical assistance, not without his customary words of choice.

All activity stopped when Ratchet noticed his friend’s entrance, but not the bundle in the other mech’s arms. “Well? Where the slag are they?”

At the new gruff voice, the little sparkling shifted curling up further into his savior’s chassis. The new voice wasn’t like the other two bots from earlier. This one sounded tough and mean and scary. A flash of the event from before entered his mind again. He whimpered, not understanding what was going on.

The medics hawk like optics and audials picked up on the movement and the whimper. “What in the pit?” He moved closeted only to receive more distressed sounds from the little Praxian.

Sensing the little bot’s discomfort and picking up what it was, Prowl narrowed his eyes at the CMO. Over the comm, so not to terrify his charge even more, the tactician sharply spoke, ::Language.::

The medic opened his mouth to retort. He could speak however the frag he wanted, it was his pit slagging medbay! Immediately though he closed it, he knew the sparkling wouldn’t let him check the young spark out if he considered the medic a threat.

“Hey there little guy.” Ratchet cooed in the same voice he used when he and Ironhide first met the abandoned Sideswipe and Sunstreaker. “It’s alright, you can trust me.”

The sparkling made no move to open up to Ratchet, but he stopped whimpering at the very least. His optics looked up at his rescuer, silently asking about the medic.

The SiC nodded, “Ratchet is a friend. He’s going to make sure your healthy.”

The child turned his bright blue optics over to Ratchet, but launched backwards, clinging to Prowl. Having become a sparkling magnet the black and white mech bounced his charge up and down in a soothing manner like he did before. “It’s alright. I’ll stay right here the whole time.”

The sparkling stayed still. Prowl continued, “If you’re good Ratchet will give you a treat when he is done.” The tactical officer knew the CMO typically carried some on him for Sides and Sunny, and Ironhide’s other charge Bumblebee.

It did the trick. Slowly, but surely the sparkling removed himself from his ball and was set on a medical birth. True to his word the older Praxian sat down with him.

At each stage of the routine medical examination, Ratchet held up a tool and gently explained what it was. Every now and then he paused to ask the tactician something, and the exam was soon over. Like the sparkling was told, Ratchet gave him a small energon goodie for being good when Ratchet checked him over.

As the medic moved away he shook his head, chuckling, and muttered something about the perfect bribe.

Ratchet turned his gaze up to the black and white. “Designation?”

“I do not know.” Prowl stated truthfully. Usually he hated not knowing things, it could mean the deactivation of entire units.

“Well, we can’t just keep calling him ‘little one’ all the time. He needs a designation.” The CMO responded. Ratchet was right, they really couldn’t keep calling the sparkling, ‘little one,’ there would come a day when he would grow older and require a proper name.

Prowl thought for a long moment. Roadrunner? Silverblade? Dustcycle? The tactician shook his head, he wasn’t the little bot’s creator but he sensed that none of those names would suit the sparkling. He remember how he had found the sparkling. He was in a building, curled under a desk. Leading into that room was the trail of the energon. A messy blue streak, but it had helped Prowl discover the little bot.

Wait that was it! “Bluestreak. His designation is Bluestreak.”

Ratchet looked and Prowl and glanced over at the sparkling. It was no time before the medic stared at his friend like the tactician had lost a few screws in the processor.

“Prowl,” red and white bot said, oddly calm, “There’s not a speck of blue on him!” He gesture to the happy grey sparkling still eating the treat.

“I know.” The tactician insisted.

“Well?”

“‘Well,’ what?”

“What the frag are you going to name him then?”

“Bluestreak.”

The medic growled a sign he was getting impatient. “Prowl, do I need to take a look at your processor? That sparkling is grey, not blue! Get that through your fragging glitched processor!”

The SiC’s doorwings raised also getting slightly aggravated with the discussion. “Ratchet, I will not say it again.” His friend sighed in relief before Prowl had the chance to continue. “His designation is Bluestreak, and if you don’t like it, I will type it in the file myself.”

The sparkling, newly designated ‘Bluestreak’ by his rescuer, cheered and shrunk back at the raised voices of the two adult mechs.

Ratchet backed off at that. There would be no arguing with the tactician once he was set and there was no way he’d risk the sparkling fearing him. He huffed, grabbing the datapad he made the sparkling’s file on.

“Fine. It’s done. His designation is Bluestreak.” Under his breath he muttered, “Primus only knows the frag why.”

Prowl nodded curtly, picking up the newly named ‘Bluestreak,’ “Good day, Ratchet.”

The medic grunted a farewell, and started to put away some of the more important tools.

Still in the room, Wheeljack and Pharma exchanged looks. It was Wheeljack who asked the two’s silent thoughts, “Since when did ‘Grey’ become ‘Blue’?”

In the seconds that followed Wheeljack let out a cry as awrench of his annoyed friend collided with his helm.

Pharma held up his hands in surrender. “Bluestreak it is.”

Chapter Text

With Ratchet confirming little Bluestreak’s health Prowl set out on his next task. Getting a permanent guardian for the little bot. As a Praxian, Prowl would be better choice, but as the Autobot SiC it was an unnecessary risk. If the Decepticons found out, they would target Bluestreak to get him for sure. The tactician could not just let that happen.

By now most of the base had heard of the arrival of Praxus’s only survivor. Many bots commented on the state of affairs involving the child, and many more placed bets on a permanent guardian for Bluestreak. Afterall, Prowl was unsuitable for taking care of a child. With virtually no emotions except anger or annoyance, the Autobot SiC would not be able to give such a sparkling the care and kindness it deserved.

Originally no one voiced that out to Prowl. Having witnessed his entire homeland and everyone he knew deactivated, most bots would be inclined to believe him deep in grief. But damn that cool indifferent expression! Did that bot even have a spark to such emotions?

Such thoughts were plaguing Cliffjumper’s processor. The red minibot was brash and loud and very critical of any actions that he did not like. Watching Prowl walk by with such an empty expression pushed him past the breaking point.

“Hey drone! Whatcha doing with that sparkling? He should be given to Ironhide! Now that’s a real mech!” Cliffjumper announced out loud to the cruel snickers of the other troops nearby.

Other mecha in the Hall took that time to add their jeers to the fray. Most of them faded into the noise but a few notable ones rung out, words biting.

“Your glitched processor can’t handle a sparkling!”

“I’ll bet you would age him up. Send him into battle.”

“Yo Prowl, Is that your newest statistic?”

“Poor child. Forced to be stuck with a drone like you.”

More insults continued as their Second in Command briskly moved through the crowd. The tactician’s plating bristled, his doorsings rose and flared out. Yes, it was true he did not typically show emotions on his face, to do so would add more risks to himself and the army, but his doorwings were constantly displaying his mood. Only if one knew how to read them.

“I bet you don’t even know what a sparkling is! Hint it’s-” Cliffjumper started before being interrupted by another newcomer.

“Better behaved than ya. Y’all should be ashamed of ya selves.” The other black and white officer on base scolded. “Prowler works hard ta keep y’all online. Dismissed.”

The bots in the hallway cleared, invisible tail between their legs. It was hard enough to be yelled at by any officer, but this one was the worst, besides the Prime himself. Jazz’s happy go lucky demeanor and easy going social behaviors allowed him to become a friend to everyone on the base.

It was this attitude that helped many mech’s to forget Jazz’s true roles within the Autobot ranks. Third in Command and Commander of Autobot Special Operations, were positions that required a lot more than simple friendship to receive and maintain. But with the way Jazz normally acted it was easy to forget that on the field he made both Cons and Bots shiver down their spinal struts.

Bluestreak curled up in a ball again, why were those bots yelling at his savior? The other Praxian had saved him, why were those bots so mean? The grey sparkling was thankful when all the yelling stopped. There was another voice, chastising everyone who hurt his rescuer’s feelings. It belonged to another black and white mech, the same colors as the bot who held him. Though this one didn’t have doorwings, Bluestreak noted. Was he a friend of Prowl’s?

Satisfied with the results, Jazz turned a cheerful smile over to his best friend. “Hiya Prowler!”

In acknowledgement Prowl nodded at his companion. “Jazz.”

Taking that as open invitation Jazz slide his arm over Prowl’s shoulders with a practiced ease. “Ah think ah can guess what happened this time. Ya really gotta start standing up for ya self, mech.”

“Jazz-” Prowl started but his friend cut him off.

“Ah’m serious. How can ya expect them to follow ya orders on the field, when they mock at the base? Even Screamer gets more respect.”

“You know why.” The tactician informed.

“Just, think ‘bout it. Ah worry ‘bout ya mech.” Jazz said, but stopped speaking when the other Autobot lowered his doorwings, in a gesture that he did not want to talk about this any more. The SpecOps agent removed his arm from Prowl’s shoulders. He crouched down at the sparkling level. “Hey there, little dude.”

“His designation’s Bluestreak.” The Praxian informed.

The Autobot’s Third in Command looked up incredulously, waving a servo around the sparkling, “Uh Prowler, mech? There’s not a speck of blue on him!”

The object of Jazz’s disbelieving stare did not falter or hesitate a beat, “I know.”

“But-”

“But nothing Jazz. His designation is Bluestreak.”

“Why?” The agent questioned not getting the logical mech’s logic.

“I was only able to find him because of a leaking energon cube. It left a blue streak on the floor.” The tactician explained.

Jazz laughed and shook his head, “Prowler we gotta get ya some sparkling namin’ classes.”

The named mech thought about that sentence, “There are classes for that?”

Jazz looked up from his crouched position of humor. “What? No, it was-nevermind.” He waved his friend’s question off. “Ya going ta see Prime?”

Prowl nodded, “I need to find a permanent caretaker for Bluestreak.”

It was Jazz’s turn to nod, “Gotcha. Ah’ll see you later, Prowler! ‘Member what Ah told ya!” He called out heading down to the SpecOps wing.

Prowl turned and walked until he reached the officer hall where all of the senior officers offices were. Except for Medical, that was a room attach to to the medbay so the medics had easy access in case of emergency. Well that and SpecOps, they usually used the lower, more secure war rooms. And for good reason, most of their mission were of critical priority and the Autobots couldn’t let their plans be known to enemy spies.

Finally Prowl came to the office labeled Prime. Optimus Prime, was the Supreme Commander of all Autobot forces as well as the bearer of the Matrix of Leadership. As such, Prime was the obvious choice to receive help from to find a good caretaker for Bluestreak.

Prime’s second pinged the office for entry. Approved the tactician strode in. “Optimus,” Prowl greeted his leader with a nod.

“Hello Prowl. Who’s this?” The Autobot leader sat at his desk where he set down the datapad he was working on. He gestured at the sparkling in his SiC’s arms.

“Sir, this is the survivor from Praxus. Designation Bluestreak.” Prowl stated.

Optimus made a move to ask a question. Knowing what the question was going to be already Prowl answered it without having the question asked. “Yes, I am perfectly aware he has no blue on him. The designation is simply in relation to how I found him.”

His leader nodded slowly, uncomprehending. Snapping back to the reality, he motioned for the tactician to take a seat. “Ah I see. What can I do for you then Prowl?”

Prowl took the offered chair and moved it closer to the desk. “Bluestreak requires a guardian. I was hoping you would know someone up to the task.”

“There would be a few suitable Autobots willing. But are you sure you don’t want to care for him yourself?” Optimus inquired.

“I have no knowledge of how to take of a sparkling. Besides, even if I did, my work would not be able to provide the attention and care a sparkling should have.” Prowl responded. That much was the truth, between long office hours, running an army, and not having any prior experience.

“If you’re sure…”

“I am, sir.”

“I’ll send someone to your quarters for Bluestreak in a little while.” The Autobot leader told his second. The Matrix bearer was positive that the tactician’s choice was the right one, but Prowl was convinced it was the best one.

Taking his que to leave, the Autobot SiC stood up and nodded to his leader. “Thank you, sir. I will see you at the officers meeting next cycle. Have a good orn.”

Optimus watched as Prowl left. He inclined his head, shakeing it slightly. Inside him the Matrix pulsed, signaling a new era. He just didn’t know how soon this change would come, nor the lives it would soon affect.

Chapter Text

A few joors after his meeting with the Prime, the doorbell chime to Prowl’s quarters rang out. Having been working at his desk, completing some reports at the time, Prowl rose and walked over to the door.

It opened up to one of Jazz’s main scouts, Hound. The dark green truck nodded a polite greeting to his commander. The tactician returned the nod, gesturing for the scout to enter. “Please come in, Hound. How can I help you?”

Prowl was a bit surprised to see the scout at this time. Since Hound’s Amica Endura, another member of Jazz’s unit, the spy Mirage, was currently away on a high priority mission, the Praxian assumed that the green scout was waiting for word of his lover’s return.

The green mech looked a bit concerned and anxious. “Prime said to talk to you about a bot named ‘Bluestreak’?” He had a pained expression on his face, “Is ‘Raj okay? Did something happen?”

Prowl shook his helm, “Mirage is fine. We got a comm with him earlier in the joor. Prime is bringing him back to base as we speak.”

There was alleviation showing on Hound’s faceplates. “That’s a huge relief.” The green mech didn’t know what he’d do if his lover got hurt. He couldn’t think of living a life without Mirage. He told the noble exactly that when he had proposed a bond between them. Unfortunately, however, despite the many orns of mutual affection between the two, Mirage declined it, because of his dangerous line of work. Both mechs tried to see it was for the better, but it was a sore spot for both of them.

Hound mourned those events for a moment before moving back into the present. “Who’s Bluestreak then?” He questioned puzzled. Having just came back from a border patrol just a few breems earlier, it was possible he had not heard of the day's events.

“One moment.” The tactician responded, getting up to go get the recharging sparkling from his berthroom. Hound watched the SiC go, still confused about the whole thing.

The sparkling yawned opening and closing his little mouth slightly, Bluestreak opened his optics dimly as he was shifted from the warm, cozy berth and into someone’s arms. Sensing the mech carrying him to be his rescuer, Bluestreak snuggled further in the tactician’s chassis.

Prowl brought the little bot over to where Hound sat on the tactician’s rarely used couch. He had got it at Jazz’s insistence, so the troops felt more at ease when they had to come to the tactician’s quarters. Besides Jazz, for the SpecOps beloved ‘movie nights,’ no one came around. And to be honest, Prowl actually preferred it that way. He already felt the loss of comrades, because of a faulty plan, hard enough, that he did not need the extra burden of friendship on it. Secretly, the Autobot Second dreaded the day something went wrong with Jazz’s missions.

Sitting down, Prowl introduced Bluestreak to one of his to-be-guardians. “This is Bluestreak.” Anticipating the question the scout was bound to have, Prowl continued exasperated, “And yes, I’m quite aware he is grey.”

Hound closed his mouth. “Okay… Hey there Blue, I’m Hound.”

The sparkling peered up at the dark green visitor. Another friend? He blinked, it seemed to be something like that. Comfortable, Bluestreak curled back up into his rescuer‘s chassis, ignoring the older bots’ conversation.

“Do you know why you are here?” Prowl inquired.

“Not really. But I have a good guess.” Hound shrugged and inclined his helm at the recharging bot in his commander’s arms.

The SiC nodded. “I know you and Mirage are very busy, but would you be willing to take care of him?”

Hound perked, excited his guess of the situation was accurate. The tracker had always wanted a sparkling of his own, but the lack of a bond made that pretty much impossible. His good mood lessened at that. Mirage might not be able to take on that extra burden with his job… And he, himself, was also occasionally away on missions for extended periods of times. They might not be able to provide the amount of time and care a sparkling needed.

“I would love to, sir. But I would need to talk to ‘Raj before we commit to anything.” Hound voiced his concerns.

Prowl suspected that would be the answer. In the scout’s position, he would have done the same thing. Being part of SpecOp Divisions was dangerous enough, adding a defenseless sparkling to that mix could create a disaster, if not properly discussed or planned for. One did not need to be a tactician to know that. As such, he fully agreed with Hound’s response.

“Of course. I know you’ll need some time just to spend with yourselves, but please inform me of your final answer as soon as you can.”

“We will. Was that everything you needed me for?” Hound asked as he stood up. It wouldn’t do to just leave without approval from his higher up, even despite this wasn’t a typical professional meeting.

Prowl nodded, “Yes. You are dismissed.”

The scout didn’t need to be told twice. He was on good enough terms with the strategist, but that was a far cry from being friends. In fact, being on ‘good terms’ meant that Prowl would not get immediately annoyed with being around the mech in question. Being an actual friend to the black and white Praxian… well, only Jazz was known to accomplish that feat.

Sharp, azure optics trailed the retreating form of the scout. Prime made a very good choice with the mechs to look after Bluestreak. While the spy could be vain at times, both the scout and the spy were generous, hard-working bots, loyal to the Autobot cause.

Meanwhile, the tiny Praxian shifted once more, shaking Prowl from his musings. Walking back over to the back to his berth, the tactician deposited the younger bot on his berth so he could have a more comfortable recharge. In contrast, the Autobot Officer went back to complete the mountain of reports on his desk.

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Mirage just finished his debriefing of his mission with Jazz and Prime. Hopefully, the intelligence he gathered would be enough to stop Megatron’s newest Weapon of Doom. If not… they’d deal with it. As it currently stood, Mirage had more pressing matters to deal with. Matters such as spending quality time with his lover.

Hound turned his head when the doors to his and Mirage’s shared quarters opened. He was expecting either Trailbreaker or maybe Bumblebee, given that the kid expressed an interest in becoming a scout. Upon seeing who entered exactly Hound ran over giving his Amica Endura a large hug.

“I missed you so much!”

Mirage chuckled, returning the hug, after making sure their quarter was closed. He had never been one for public displays of affection. “I missed you more.”

“Lies,” Hound responded.

The spy shook his head, and gently admonished, “That’s the truth and you know it. You don’t know how lonely it is when all your ‘friends’ are hostile.”

“I guess you’re right. Did Prime tell you about the new assignment?” Hound asked, wondering how much his lover knew about the base’s youngest addition.

The former noble’s optics narrowed, “A new assignment?Already?”

“Yeah. You know about Praxus right?”

Mirage bowed his helm sadly. “Who doesn’t? Millions of mecha died.”

Many of his childhood friends were from Praxus, as the two tower communities were close trading partners. He remembered how happy many of Decepticons were after the attack. It was utterly repulsive, and Mirage was thankful his commanders decided to pull him out nearly immediately after.

“One survived.”

The spy’s helm shot up, “What?”

Hound nodded, “A sparkling. He needs caretakers. Prime was wondering if we would be willing.”

The blue and white bot listened in with shock. One defenseless sparkling? When all adults ceased to function. That...that was incredible.

It took a moment before Mirage’s awe gave way to common sense. “What about our jobs? Can we really afford that burden?”

The scout shrugged. “I’m not sure. But it’s uncommon both of us are out at once, and when we are it’s usually not for long.”

“That is true. Yet, if the Cons find out, they will definitely use him to get at us. Is that truly a risk worth taking?”

“He’s the only survivor of the extinction of an entire city. The kid needs love and support. It’s similar to Bumblebee or the twins. We can’t just abandon him, Mirage!”

The spy huffed, starting to get frustrated, “I know that! But why us? What about Ratchet or Ironhide?”

Hound shook his helm, “They can’t! Ratch is already sinking to his knee joint from the twins, and Ironhide has it worse!”

That was the truth, Mirage had to admit. But surely there had to be someone else. “Who has him now?” Perhaps if that bot was at all willing or a decent caretaker, he could be out of this mess. It wasn’t like Mirage did not want the sparkling, he had enjoyed sparksitting for many of the younger children back in the Towers, it just seemed the risks were too high.

“Prowl,” Hound told his Amica without any hesitation.

Mirage furrowed his optics, in surprise. “Pardon? I think I misheard you.”

“Who’d you hear?”

“Prowl.” Was the deadpanned response. Mirage was sure that could not be right.

Hound smirked seeing the other mech’s reaction, “That’s what I said.”

For the former noble that one drop of a name changed everything. If he did not agree to raise the sparkling now… The poor child! He would most likely get the barest minimum of supplies, and obviously little to no affection. No, despite the security risks it posed for Hound and himself, he would make sure that child got the love and care he deserved.

That determination glinted in his optics as Mirage made optic contact with his lover. “What did you say the sparkling’s name was?”

Chapter Text

One night and a confirmatory comm from Hound later, had Prowl making his way the base’s primary rec room. Along the way the tactician caught stray optics trailing him as well as hushed unpleasant murmurs. Like always his door wings stood erect, fanned out in a formal and confident manner. He kept an unwavering gaze straight ahead, further enhanced by his typical stony expression.

It was odd… Prowl decided reaching the handoff point. He rarely came in to the rec room unless he had to sort out one of the troops petty problems. It was equally as awkward for the other Autobots in the room too.

Sure, many of their officers would come in every now and then. Some, like Jazz, practically lived in there. But this was Prowl, and Prowl didn’t do parties, or pranks, or picnics… or pretty much any fun thing that started with the letter ‘p’! Honestly what enjoyment could there be with bots who liked paperwork, personal schedules, and perfect calculations! Did it truly matter what the ten millionth of a percent risk was in run of the mill missions?

It wasn’t that bad, per say. It was just unexpected and tense. The typical loud music and voices were subdued to a much more quiet level. It was similar to the behavior in the archives during exam cycles for the Cybertronian academies. Lower ranking bots were making sure they used the correct titles for higher up friends. All and all it just wasn’t that free flowing chaos that was normal for the base’s inhabitants.

Prowl noticed the lack of noise near immediately. It was similar to when he would pull the plug on celebrations, before anyone could get too drunk on high grade. The tactician did not do anything about bringing said chaos back, however. Instead, he choose a table, near the back, and settled in to wait for Hound and Mirage.

The first visitors he received were not the two bots he was expecting. The rec room door opened and inside flew two fast moving blurs of paint. Upon recognition of the base’s commanding officer, the younglings skidded and looked around, as if the apocalypse just started.

As the two’s gazes at the older bots were met with barely visible helm shakes. Only if some mecha was truly trying to see it, no one would actually notice or care.

Briefly the twin shared a shrug before going over and hopping on bench opposite of the tactician. They wouldn’t let such a prime opportunity slide.

“Yo Prowler, ya feeling alright?” Sideswipe asked the question no one else dared to.

His twin continued, “We can get Ratchet for you. He said not to disturb him except in an emergency, but you’re in here… So that’s gotta be an emergency!”

Before Prowl could politely decline the offer and say he was perfectly fine, the red youngling had climbed onto the table and began to shake his servo in front of the tactician’s faceplates. “Are you really the real Prowl?”

Having enough of the pestering, Prowl reached up gently pushed the servo away from from his optics. “Yes, I am the real Prowl. And while I appreciate the offer, Sunstreaker, there is no need to interrupt Ratchet. I am feeling quite fine.”

The golden twin crossed his arms over his chassis, “Then why are you here? You never come here!”

His twin shook his head rapidly, agreeing with every word his brother stated. “Yeah! Like Sunny said!” Sideswipe took on a demanding, childish tone, jabbing a digit at the black and white mech for emphasis. “Who are you and what have you done with the real Prowlie?”

Having previously removed Sideswipe’s servo from his faceplate, it was needless to say Prowl was slightly annoyed with the digit that just poked him in the upper chassis. He told himself that it was fine, these were younglings, and this was what younglings do.

Fortunately, Prowl did not have to worry about the removal of the red twin’s latest offending body part. Sunstreaker took care of that for him. With a scowl Sunstreaker push his twin aside with the exclamation, “My name is not Sunny!”

Rather unfortunately however Sideswipe decided to push back, prompting a fight between the brothers.

The Praxian sighed, it was too early to deal with this nonsense. And yet, he found himself sympathizing with the gold twin. He knew the annoyances of constantly being called an unwelcome nickname. However, Prowl found himself going back to his original logic; it was too early for this. ::Ironhide, do you have a free moment?::

Over the line Prowl heard the older warrior grumble, likely from being woken up from recharge. ::Ah do now.::

::Can you come to the rec room and deal with the Twins?::

::Ah could, But Ah’d ratha not.:: Was the drawled reply. With that one line it was clearly evident where, or, in this case, who, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker got their disrespect of authority from.

::Ironhide.:: The name was spoken sternly, not going to be taking no for an answer.

::Fine, Ah’m comin’, Ah’m comin’. Don’t get ya tailpipes in a tizzy.::

::Thank you.::

In the breem it took for Ironhide to show up, Sideswipe and Sunstreaker continued their half-sparked brawl. Not that it did not look intense to bystanders. The younglings’ servos kept colliding with ‘clangs’ as they continuously slapped at their opponents. In addition to the changing of metal, came the squeals and indignant squawks getting vocalized from the twin mouths.

Needless to say, the occupants of the rec room exhaled in unified relief, as the large figure of Ironhide strode through the entrance.

“Alright, what’s all this racket ‘bout?” Came the disgruntled voice of the red truck.

“Ironhide!” Came the joint cry of happiness from the twins as the ran over to their guardian. Promptly, both of them tried to share their side of the story, of what the said racket was about.

As the twins rambled on, the two mechs Prowl was actually waiting for arrived. Mirage flashed and optic ridge at the sight of the the two squabbling younglings, but made his way with Hound to their commander.

Repeating another common phrase of the orn Hound smirked, “We didn’t think you’d be here. Now who are you and what have you done to Prowl?”

After speaking, Mirage, discreetly, jammed his elbow joint into his lover. Always a business mech, the spy made a beeline for the point of this meeting. “So this is little Bluestreak. You would think he’d be slightly blue.”

The tactician reigned in a sigh. Why was everyone so critical of the designation? It wasn’t that bad!

As if being summoned, the sparkling stirred as his newly given name was uttered. Bluestreak squirmed in his hero’s hold to get a look at the newcomers. He knew one of them; it was the green mech from yesterday. Hound, right? The green bot seemed friendly enough. So did the other adult, the blue and white one. He liked his savior better though. The older Praxian took good care of him.

A gentle nudge from his rescuer had Bluestreak looking up at the black and white mech. “Bluestreak, you remember Hound. He and his friend Mirage are going to take care of you for a while.”

The sparkling gave a confused chirp. Did that mean that the green and blue bots were going to play with him? Bluestreak liked to play. His creators used to play with him all the time, they would read him stories too. There was this one story about a really cool Space Ranger, he explored the universe fighting bad guys.

Bluestreak gave another contented chirp as he reach out for Mirage, not understanding the true meaning of being taken care of. He cozied up to the noble’s spark, not paying attention to the conversation taking place between the adults. He couldn’t wait to have fun with Mirage and Hound. The little Praxian was sad that his savior wasn’t coming with them, but Bluestreak knew he’d see the older bot after playtime was over.

As he was carried out of the room by Mirage, Bluestreak leaned over the spy’s shoulder and gave his hero a small wave.

On the other side of the rec room, Prowl’s processor and spark were in a heated battle. Yes, he could finally get back to his towers of datapads without being distracted, but that didn’t explain why a small piece of his spark had left with the sparkling.

Chapter Text

Five breems after Hound and Mirage had taken Bluestreak with them, had Prowl back in his office, prepped and ready to develop more winning strategies. He had already arranged the troops' shift schedule for the upcoming decacycle and had approved of the inventory requests for all of the needy departments on the base. He took care of that quickly and efficiently, just how he liked it. So why was he not pleased?

Even the 94.17% success rate from one of his plans, did nothing to improve the tactician’s
mood. It felt like something crawled into his spark and processor and then started eating it. In short, Prowl was miserable, and to add to the feeling, he did not even know why!

Almost as if on cue, Jazz bounced in and plopped down on the chair, opposite of his friend. "Good mornin’ Prowler!”

“For some. What do you need Jazz?” Came the annoyed Praxian’s reply.

“What happened, mech?” Across the desk Jazz’s signature, the happy-go-lucky smile turned into a perceptive frown.

“Nothing happened. Everything is fine.”

“Bullslag. Ah know that cant of ya doorwings. Something’s gotta be wrong.”

“I told you everything is fine.”

“And Ah’m telling ya no way in the pit! We’re not leaving this room 'til we find out what’s da matter” A dark, demanding look swept onto Jazz’s visor, “And that’s final.”

“Fine,” Prowl muttered. He just wanted to get back to work.

The saboteur beamed at his friend, “Great!” He leaned over the desk at grabbed the data pad that contained the copies of the preliminary battle plan strategies. “94.17%, Ah’m impressed Prowler. Much better than usual.”

Prowl’s doorwings subconsciously fluttered slightly with the compliment. Many mechs did not know how hard he worked to ensure their safety, and the rare bits of praise he received felt pretty good.

“But it ain’t something Ah would consider to be the cause of ya case of da grumps. What about da duty roster? Ya having any trouble with that?”

“Done and checked.” Came the response from where the tactician transferred over to reviewing the base’s collective complaints about… well, everything.

Jazz let out an hmm, thinking about what else could be the matter with the other mech. Apparently liking the sound Jazz started humming and tapping away at his friend’s desk.

Used to such behavior by now, everyone knew of the SpecOps Officer admiration with music, Prowl continued to work, in the mostly soundless office.

After a few breems and a particularly loud slap later, Jazz released the exclamation of the orn, "Ah figured it out!”

Not prepared for the vociferous interruption, the Praxian’s helm shot up. Two optics locked onto visor and Prowl picked up on the half-frown that appeared on the agent’s faceplate. Over time, the Autobot SiC came to recognize that as Jazz’s thinking face.

“Ya still have lil’ Blue?” The tone of the question was serious but not nearly as bad if this had been an interrogation with a Decepticon prisoner.

“I do not. I gave Bluestreak over to Hound and Mirage, earlier this morning. Surely you received the report I sent to your office, as it regards your mechs.”

Jazz shrugged, “Probably did. Ah just haven’t got there yet.”

The other black and white bot just shook his helm. Of course, Jazz would not have started his daily duties by now. Admittedly they were much less than the Praxian’s own, but diligence and efficiency was the key to running the army.

The SpecOps agent snapped his digits, drawing Prowl from his musings. “But don’t ya see? Ya miss da lil guy; ya just gotta get Blue back!”

Prowl scoffed. Surely a sparkling was not the reason for his current emptiness. Such a thought was purely preposterous. Prowl decided to voice his opinion on the matter, “A sparkling, Jazz? Do not be ridiculous.” Of course, as he said it, he did not feel that it was that crazy at all. It actually made a bit of sense. The tactician shook his helm slightly, what was he thinking?

“Ah’m telling ya! Ya need Blue!”

By now both Prowl’s spark and processor was screaming at him to agree with Jazz. And yet, he found himself resisting. He could not honestly need a sparkling, did he? His spark seemed positive he did. Just over the course of the last few orns, Bluestreak wormed his way into the tactician’s spark and left an empty void begging to be refilled in his wake.

No… Prowl cursed himself for being so selfish, As much as he wanted to go back and snatch the Praxian youngling for himself, the child would be much happier with the spy and the scout. That was it; end of story.

“Bluestreak is in a much more favorable place where he currently is.” The statement was said in the tactician's customary smooth, calm, vocals, tone saying the matter was final.

Jazz threw his servos up exasperated and gave the ceiling a ‘why me Primus,’ look. “Prowler, I just don’t get it. Why do ya gotta be so stubborn?”

“I will not allow my personal desires to tamper with another’s need for survival.” Was the long version of, ‘I will not be selfish.”

The SpecOps agent opened his mouth to reply, but Prowl was spared when the TiC got a comm from one of his agents.

“What’s da scoop, Skids?” A beat paused, as Jazz listened to his subordinate’s response, “Ah’ll be there in two shakes of a ‘gon-shake.”

“The line of duty rests for no one,” Prowl noted meaning every word. Someone always needed something that required his attention.

Jazz laughed, assuming his friend made a pass at a joke instead of a comment about the truth. "No kiddin’. Ah’ll talk to ya later. ‘Member what Ah said!” The saboteur called out, excusing himself from the office.

“I will look forward to it.” Prowl called back, out of audial shot he muttered under his breath, “I always do.”

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In the meantime, Bluestreak was having fun, he built a tower of datapad a with Mirage and watched Hound mess with his holograms. The sparkling thought they looked pretty cool. But,
like with all good things it had to come to an end.

He was getting tired and he wanted his rescuer. The older Praxian’s spark was w arm and made him feel happy. Mirage had a warm spark and Hound’s made him feel happy too, but Bluestreak just couldn’t get comfortable. It just didn’t feel right, and he didn’t like it! He wanted his savior!

At first, Bluestreak looked around, maybe his rescuer was playing that hide-and-seek thing Mirage played with him earlier. With no early success in finding the bot he wanted, Bluestreak let out a wail. Maybe the big bot couldn’t find him, so he let out a couple more sounds.

That didn’t work… the sparkling found out, as he was placed back in the spy’s lap.

“What’s wrong, Blue?” Hound questioned his charge, hoping the little bot could signal what he wanted even though he couldn’t speak yet.

The sparkling cried louder in Mirage’s faceplates and the spy let out a sentence that sounded something like ‘Oh Primus.’

“Is he hungry?” The scout wondered aloud.

“I don’t see how. We fed him a few breems ago.”

“Waste tank?”

The question was quickly waved off, “Too soon. Maybe in a joor.”

Bluestreak was mystified. How did the older two bots not get it? His savior always understood what he wanted immediately. With that logic, the tired sparkling cried some more. He wanted to recharge! So where was the other Praxian?

“Blue, sweetie, you need to calm down,” Mirage said bouncing the sparkling up and down in his arms.

At the same time, Hound asked about a third potential cause for the wailing, “Are you sleepy, little guy?”

Finally! It took them long enough, Bluestreak decided, ceasing his tantrum.

He heard chuckling above him, “Looks like we got a winner. C’mon let’s get him to bed.”

The winglets on Bluestreak’s back fluttered, excited. There were gonna let him recharge! They were taking him back to his hero! They were-hold on, this wasn’t his savior’s quarters. It didn’t
look like the office he was taken to a few times either. And his rescuer was nowhere in sight! Where were they taking him?!

Within that moment Hound and Mirage were treated to another bout of wailing. Too loud to be heard over the crying, the scout and spy took to their comm links.

::I thought he wanted to recharge!:: Hound exclaimed over the comm.

::I thought that too! What’s wrong with him?::

::I don’t know! But he behaved perfectly before this! No wonder why Prowl wanted to get rid of him. With all this crying, I don’t blame him! It sounds like the air raid sirens.:: The scout sighed at the comment.

::What did you say?:: Mirage demanded. It was hard to hear the comm what with the sparkling’s screeches, but for a moment it seemed his lover might have had the answer.

::I said his wailing sounds like the air raid sirens.::

:: No, before that.::

::Oh! I said I don’t blame Prowl, for trying to get rid of him.::

::That could be it!:: Mirage sleuthed like he would have on one of his mission to enemy territory.

::What’s that, ‘Raj?::

::What if Bluestreak wants Prowl?::

Hound paused for a moment, thinking the question through. At last, he responded, ::I have no clue why Bluestreak wants Mr. Rulebook, but I’m gonna bet you’re right.::

Now with his lover backing his theory, Mirage let out a comm to the Autobot SiC, ::Prowl? This is Mirage. We need you at our quarters asap. It’s Bluestreak.::

Chapter Text

“Heya Prowler!” Jazz called to his friend in the hallway, jogging to catch up with him.

“Hello Jazz.” Prowl said, continuing with his stride, “How is Skids doing?” The tactian inquired referring to the reason for Jazz’s depart from the SiC’s office earlier.

“S’alls good.” Jazz said not alluding to what the private meeting might have been about. “SpecOps stuff.”

Prowl nodded, knowing better than to pry for more. If it was important to the general army he would have already have been aware; as it was, some things were purely, as Jazz put it, ‘SpecOps stuff.’

“And ya? Did ya think ‘bout what Ah said?”

The Praxian hesitated for a moment. “...I did. However, I still stand by my earlier statements on the matter.”

“Prowler-”

The named mech held up a servo interrupting the the other black and white mech. Prowl used his other servo to open the urgent comm signal.

::This is Prowl. Report.::

::Prowl? This is Mirage. We need you at our quarters asap. It’s Bluestreak.::

::I’m on my way.::

Fearing the worst, Prowl executed an about face and began rushing towards the spy and scout’s shared quarters. In an effort to make it to the sparkling’s side immediately Prowl even ignored the hallway’s newly implemented speed limits.

“Prowler?” Jazz called after his friend, chasing after the runaway tactician in the event an emergency was going on.

There was a general rule of thumbs in the Autobot ranks that stated if a high-ranking normally self controlled officer was running down a hallway, you’d better move your aft out of their way scat. While for mechs like Jazz or Blaster, as they were constantly known for making a ruckus, that rule was generally ignored.

Of course, that rule was the reason mecha were twisting oddly and body slamming each other, almost like a weird, painful dance, to clear the path of the normally calm tactician.

As soon as he passed the mechs and femmes flooded back into the hallway, all of them gawking at their head strategist.

This meant Jazz wasn’t so lucky. The SpecOps Commander pushed his way through what seemed like a quarter of the entire Autobot army. Practically wrestling the stunned troops out of the way.

One particular minibot had ran out of luck with this event too.

“Yo! Jazz, what happened to stick-in, uh, Prowl, I mean?” Cliffjumper called out, believe it or not, smart enough not to name call the tactician, in front of the SiC’s friend, and among the gossip lines his protector.

“No time ‘Jumper! Move!” The TiC demanded once again gaining speed.

Apparently Cliffjumper didn’t move fast enough, because the next thing the brash red minibot knew, he was being used as a one-bounce trampoline for the second black and white mech bolting down the hallway.

“Prowler! Wait up!” Came the cry as Jazz finished his vault over Cliffjumper.

Either the tactician did not hear, which was unlikely, or he did not care due to a more important issue, much more probable. Due to this Jazz was forced to put on more speed to catch up. Which worked… until they enter another, busier hallway.

“Aww… C’mon!”

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Meanwhile the bots in the hallway were starting to recover from the shock.

“So, uh, what just happened?” One asked.

“Prowl… ran… down a hallway.” Another said like he still didn’t, nor did he want to, believe it.

The first one gave a slight scowl, and snapped, “I know that! But why?”

“Eh, who cares?”

“Something important probably.”

“Ole stick-in-the-mud? Nah, I bet ya it’s a new rulebook edition. Slagger doesn’t know the meaning of fun.” Cliffjumper grouched, still put off with the whole idea of being used as a jumping vault.

That got a few chuckles out of the assembled bots. A few more statements mocking their SiC’s behavior and attitude were told to the delight of the listeners. If only they knew how wrong from the truth they were.

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Prowl punched in the override password to Mirage and Hound’s personal quarters. Only he, Optimus Prime, and Ratchet held the codes, and the medic could only use it for medical emergencies.

Contrary to trooper beliefs, Prowl used the codes only when he had ample proof to support his suspicions or when a legitimate emergency was going on. And considering the tone in Mirage’s voice when he received the comm, this was most definitely an emergency.

As the tactician entered he was met by the relived optics of the scout. Even though his audials were set on a low-middle setting they still picked up the screeching and energon-curling wails of the sparkling in the other room with the spy.

The older Praxian’s optics looked nervously to the other room. What happened to cause such an uproar.

Hound looked apologetically at his commander. He gestured for the Praxian to enter the berth room. A place, even when inspecting troop quarters, Prowl made sure to have a warrant by Prime or permission from the room’s occupants.

“He’s fine. But when we tried to put him to recharge…” Hound assured, waving a servo as he trailed off.

“Do you know what may have caused this?”

“‘Raj and I believe he misses you.”

The SiC nodded, both in acknowledgement of the scout and as a greeting to Mirage. What ever surprise he might have had was kept inside the tactician’s spark and processor, allowing for his calm, cool aura to fill the room.

“May I?” Prowl held out his arms for the still crying youngling.

“With pleasure.” Disgruntled and concerned, Mirage was happy to pass off the screaming burden. Honestly that sparkling could rival Starscream in the screeching department!

Bluestreak could feel himself being passed over. The sparkling expected to be Hound, and somehow manage to screech louder, until he felt the spark pulse and warmth of the one mech he wanted. Instantly Bluestreak’s tantrum ceased, as the little Praxian immediately burrowed into his savior.

He was back! He came back! Bluestreak excitedly thought, letting off muffled chirps. The little mech clutched on to the one he considered his hero. If Bluestreak has been a bit older and bigger it could have been considered to be a bear hug.

For his part the tactician held the sparkling for a moment, but his emotions finally, for once, kicked in. After a brief moment of hesitation, the older Praxian squeezed back, returning the sparkling’s hug.

During this time Jazz had finally caught up to his friend. He stood in the open doorway to his finest mechs shared quarters watching the scene from afar. His spark warmed at the sight. That sparkling was able to do what he had never and probably would never accomplish; he brought out a whole different, caring side in the normally stoic mech.

As for Hound and Mirage, the two watched in amazement as the tactician, admittedly slowly, but surely, unveiled his true feeling about the sparkling in his arms. If they weren’t witnessing it, neither would consider it possible.

It was eventually Jazz who broke the silence, and consequently the emotional reunion of the separated Praxians. “When’s da adoption ceremony?”

Chapter Text

Accompanied by Hound, Mirage, and Jazz, Prowl now calmly headed towards Prime’s office. The group got more than a few odd looks on their journey, but the tactician ignored them, and the scout and spy traded uneasy glances. However, to lessen the potential fallout of earlier events SpecOps Commander gave his normal signature grin and wave.

Bluestreak was curled up in the SiC’s arm, looking like he just experienced the fall of Praxus all over again. Despite earlier attempts to adjust him to a more comfortable position, the young sparkling had a hold of iron on his savior.

Reaching the offices of the senior officers, or more commonly known as Officer’s Row, it was Jazz who pinged for entry to the Autobot Commander’s workspace. Receiving permission he bounded inside ahead of the rest of the procession.

Plopping on a chair, backwards in regards to properly sitting, he let out a cheery, “Hey Boss bot.”

Prowl came in next, starting to move to his customary position of just behind and to the right of his leader. He faltered for a moment, that was his usual position, but only when punishing troops for misconduct. Considering he had no intent to punish Mirage or Hound, the strategist decided to stay put.

The appointed guardians of the sparkling, brought up the rear. The last three entries all choosing to stand.

“This was unexpected.” Optimus commented, once everyone had enter, “Is something wrong?”

“Not really Prime, but…” Hound trailed off. He was still internally beating himself up over what had happened, even though he was not in any way at fault. None of them were, it was purely coincidental, but the green Autobot still felt responsible.

His lover picked up where the scout left off, “It seems that you-I mean we, had made a mistake in guardian choices for Bluestreak.”

Optimus’s brow started to furrow in confusion. He was just about to ask what had happened but was interrupted, and saved, by a comm from Jazz.

::Don’t ask. It’s a sore spot. Ah’ll tell ya later.::

::Ah… Thank you, Jazz.::

Discreetly the saboteur shot his Commander a broad grin, ::Anytime, OP.::

“So… What can I do for you all then?” Optimus inquired instead.

Prime was grateful that his second decided it was his turn to speak up. The tactician would supply all the important information, without getting into every detail like Hound, or being to vague as Mirage was accustomed to.

“We require the legal transfer of guardianship to put Bluestreak into my care.” The older Praxian stated, starting to feel pain in his arm and chassis that the sparkling had wedges himself firmly into.

“I see.” Optimus replied and Mirage looked away, actively avoiding the sight of legal documents being placed on the desk.

Prime noticed most of it was actually filled out already. The medical evaluation was put in the messy, yet readable scrawl of his Chief Medical Officer. And the general paperwork, dubbing Hound and Mirage as the legal guardians for Bluestreak, were carefully written in the precise, smooth, and distinguishable handwriting of his SiC.

Optimus took out another form. After the arrival of Bumblebee and the Twin, the Autobot forces decided just to copy guardian transfer files, instead of going through the slow moving process of the Cybertronian Sparkling Placement Board. It made situations like these a lot less stressful and painful for those involved.

Quickly scanning over the original documents, Optimus was satisfied that everything was done. All they needed to do was sign consent of the change on the bottom of the form.

“Everything seems to be in order. If you three will just sign your designation at the bottom. Jazz, stay here, we need a witness to this.”

The agent gave off a salute, “Ya got it Prime.” As his friend hunched over the desk, cleanly printing out his designation on the form.

Mirage went next, handwriting swooping and curving the way he was taught in the Towers. Hound went last slowly reading it over until he got to the part the other two had.

‘I hereby give my legal consent to this transfer and will abide by this contract in all matters regarding any situation changes.’

There was a blank line at the bottom reading Current Caretaker. For Hound each slash of the stylus seemed like a death sentence. Finishing his signature, which now legalized Prowl’s rights as Bluestreak’s full guardian, the scout cringed back. It tore him apart, and he actively fought against the tears that threatened to spill from his optics.

“That’s it.” Optimus said taking back the documents and filing them away. “Unless there is something else.”

“N-no, sir. That’s everything. Thank you for your time.” Hound managed to choke out. He’d sob later in his and Mirage’s personal quarters.

“You can all go then.” Was the cue for dismissal. Optimus waited until Jazz made a move for the door before saying, “Jazz, a word please.”

“Sure thing OP.” Jazz flung himself back at his claimed chair.

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Fearing that after the incident with Mirage and Hound, Bluestreak wouldn’t be open to social calls like mecha his age should be, Prowl journeyed back to rec room. Ever since the sparkling’s arrival these occasions had gone from rare to somewhere between unusual and not surprising.

The two Praxians had settled down at their normal table in the back. Satisfied his guardian wouldn’t be leaving him, Bluestreak kindly released the death grip of Prowl’s arm.

Having previously gone to Ratchet to get low grade energon for the sparkling, the tactician was in the middle of feeding the little bot when a group of lower-ranked Autobots came up to them.

“Hey secretary, where’s the paperwork?” Sky Lynx jibbed, on purposely changing Prowl’s billet as a tactician to secretary.

“When did SiC become Sparklingsitter in Charge?” Hot Shot mocked, using the black and white’s other title in derision.

“Your a selfish scrapheap, doing that to Mirage and Hound.” The first bot who spoke commented.

More comments and insult ensued and Prowl made sure to lower the sound level on Bluestreak’s audials so the sparkling would not pick up the crude language.

“Go away.” Prowl informed the group, attempting what Jazz had repeatedly told him to do. Before this moment he had never tried to stand up to the harassment of the troops, preferring to ignore it, but it seemed Bluestreak invoked a newfound supply of courage.

“Or what? You’ll send us to the brig? Big deal. Nah, we got a score to settle, and this time Jazz ain’t here to help you.” Brawn replied. That was the worst the Praxian could hope to do. Without any solid evidence of true harassment, even with both the SiC and TiC claiming it to be, a court martial would do absolutely nothing.

“Bluestreak does not need to witness such negativity.”

The one who spoke last laughed at the tactician. “Hiding behind a sparkling? You’re a bigger coward than I thought, Prowl!” Brawn’s comment prompted laugher from the other Autobots surrounding the tactician.

Anger bubbled up under the SiC’s plating. It crawled through his energon lines urging him to do something more about the situation. Prowl took a moment to exhale, and tried to focus on the sparkling in his care. Compared to Bluestreak those mechs weren’t important. Compared to Bluestreak those mechs were nothing.

“-Can’t believe the kid choose you over ‘Raj and Hound. Logic processor disability must be a common trait in Praxian’s.” Prowl tuned in to Tracks at that time easily catching the jab on Bluestreak.

Now fully furious, no one had any right to mock his charge, Prowl did another un-Prowl-like thing this orn. Quickly setting Bluestreak down on the table, the tactician punched Tracks in the faceplates.

Tracks staggered backward, but before he recovered he was tackled by quite the pissed off strategist.

“You can mock me all you like, but You. Will. Not. Insult. My. Bluestreak.” Prowl growled at the end slapping the flying car’s faceplates with every word at the end.

Tracks gave a yelp before beginning to struggle back. He wasn’t going to act like a coward. No way in the pit!

Always eager for a good fight Brawn joined in the fray, not really caring about which of the two other bots he was currently assaulting.

Eventually the commotion reached the non-combatants in the current rec room struggle. Apparently one of them had the good sense to call Jazz and Ironhide, the peacemaker and troop disciplinarian, in the absence of Prowl, respectively.

“Ahright, that’s enough. Break it up.” Ironhide drawled pulling Brawn and Tracks out from the punching pile.

Meanwhile Jazz had a tight grip on his enraged friend, “That’s it Prowler. Settle down.” He waited a moment until he felt the Praxian release tension that was pent up in his frame. “Ah know Ah told ya to start standin’ up for yerself, but Ah didn’t mean ya should punch ‘em, mech.”

Chapter Text

“Is there a problem?” Optimus asked as a few of his top officers, and a sizable group of his troops marched into his office.

Jazz shrugged, moving to his position flanking his leader, “Hadda bit of a brawl in da rec-room.”

Prime winced, if his SiC couldn’t handle it by himself it must have been bad.

“What would your suggested punishment be Prowl?” Optimus asked, counting the number of mechs in his office. Oh forget just a bit of a brawl, it must have been a full scale one.

“Place me in the brig for 6 orns.”

Optimus started to nod, but caught himself once he comprehended the victim of the proposed punishment. It was also then that he realized that it was Ironhide, not his second who took up the position behind him to the right. “Excuse me?”

“He wants ta be punished for 6 orn, Prahm. Lil’ ‘treme if ya ask me.” The Autobot’s weapon specialist responded for the tactician.

Optimus changed his focus from the older mech to the one he named his second. Prowl was avidly avoiding making optic contact trying to stay focused on the sparkling he had in his arms. It was slightly… unnerving to see that the calm Praxian mech had a slight fidget in his seat.

“Prowl.” Optimus called out.

The named mech froze, slowly and reluctantly raising his helm to make optic contact with the Autobot leader. “Sir?”

“What happened?”

Prowl opened his mouth to respond but the rest of the gathered troops all broke out at once, all trying to get their side of the story and grievances out first. Prime caught a few key words such as ‘defense’ and ‘unfair’ and ‘punch’ before he roared, “SILENCE!”

Unused to Prime raising his voice like that, the Autobot troops hastily shut up in fear of retribution.

Optimus calmly looked back at Prowl. “Go ahead.”

“I… ignitated a fight amongst the troops, and acted with… misconduct becoming of an Autobot.” The tactician said slowly and carefully. It was obvious he choose the spoken words to maintain his professionalism, as well as conceal some of the specific details of the event.

“That’s the fancy way of saying he punched me!” Tracks cried out, glaring at the black and white.

“Calm down, Tracks.” Optimus said to the blue mech gently, “Everyone will have their turn to speak.”

Jazz commed the other officers, except Prowl, at the same time Optimus spoke. ::That’s slag and ya know it! Prowler wouldn’t do that without bein’ provoked!::

The rust color mech nodded with the saboteur’s outburst, but everyone one else would think that he was silently affirming the Prime’s statement. ::Ah agree. Prowl ain’t Second for just flyin’ off the handle. Somethin’ being hidden here.::

That made two executive votes backing Prowl. He trusted both his old friend and his TiC immensely but both were prone to hasty judgement. Despite his agreement with them so far, he had to make the right choice, and that meant listening to everyone else.

“Prowl. Please wait outside the door.” Optimus said. It was clear something was bothering his second and Optimus didn’t want to make the situation worse by unintentionally placing his tactician in a corner.

“Yes sir.” Prowl responded quickly getting out. Avoiding the gaze of everyone else as he left with little Bluestreak.

Door closing behind his second Optimus directed all of his attention to the loosely assembled soldiers. “What really happened?”

“He already told you!” One protested.

“I know my Second better than any of you.” Optimus started, getting a ping of ‘‘cept me,’ from Jazz. “And I know he would not act like that unless something else occurred. I’ll ask again: what happened?”

One of the bots fidgeted under Prime’s gaze. “We just wanted to see Bluestreak. We didn’t know Prowl would react so badly.” The bot fibbed, but it sounded so innocent and heartfelt that not even Jazz found the lie. The other troops nodded in agreement, some muttering a ‘yeah.’

Optimus sighed, “Prowl is going through a lot right now. Our war with the Decepticons is only getting worse. The loss of his city was likely very hard on him. Bluestreak is pretty much all he has left.”

The assembled bots suddenly felt really guilty. They hadn’t really, or would have, thought about that. Their excuse weighed heavily in their sparks. However, except for a bit more fidgeting not one of them made a move to speak the truth of the situation.

“Prowl has asked for 6 orns in the brig. I will grant that request. In the meantime,” the soldiers internally cringed at their leader’s words, expecting punishment. It never came… “I will ask you all to be mindful of what you say around him. I believe that some uninterrupted time to reflect on what has happened recently will be good for him, and in the end the Autobot cause.”

The assembly nodded, and Jazz had to conceal his internal twitch and rage. He knew his friend better than this. Sure, Praxus may have been a factor, but there was no way, Prowl would just let that happen. They were still missing something…

“If that is all, you are all dismissed. If you would, please send Prowl back in.” Optimus informed the troops.

The soldiers couldn’t believe it! Had they really gotten away with their earlier harassment? And of their Second in Command no less? It was unbelievable! Maybe not for the Decepticons but certainly so for the Autobots. And Prowl… Prowl made no move to tell the Prime what had really happened. He was going to take the punishment for their misdeeds… That quickly sucked the joy out of the dismissed mecha.

Now that they actually thought about it. Despite being a stickler for the rules, Prowl had never ever reported them or order a court martial for the harassment and tampering of his property that the troops often gave him. If it made them happy, the tactician was willing to take all the blame and suffering from the mecha he served with and for.

That guilty line of thought rang in their helms. Constantly reminding the mecha just how often they had mocked their Second. And how much more, Prowl let them do it. They had teased him about being a sparkless drone, but maybe it was they themselves that deserved such mockery. It was they who deserved that brig time and worse.

Other such contritions plagued them as they left. How could they have let this come so far? And how could they prevent it from happening again? It would be awhile before those questions were answered.

Once they all had filed away, the tactician re-entered the office. “Sir?” He inquired again.

Bluestreak wiggled in his guardian’s hold happy that the mean bots were gone now. The sparkling likes them as much as he likes that other red minibot. Which was to say not at all. He was happy when his savior taught those bad guys a lesson!

The grey Praxian gave a little wave at his hero’s friend and Jazz gave a grin and a wave in return. As Bluestreak’s doorwings fluttered, Prowl and Prime remained oblivious to the exchange.

“Is there anything you left out about your earlier incident?” Optimus questioned hoping that his stubborn right-hand mech would admit that the troops had actually provoked him. He knew Prowl wouldn’t say anything as long as the enlisted mecha were there, but perhaps if they were mostly alone…

After all, if Prowl was to be sent to the brig, even on his own violation, the tactician would not be able to perform his proper duties. In the end that meant more work for him and his department heads.

“No, sir.” Prowl responded. “I let my stress take control. It will not happen again Prime.”

Jazz bristled, still flanking their leader. He knew Prowl better than anyone. The Praxian may be good at hiding his thoughts but they were still there, and all one needed was to know the signs. Between the Praxian’s tone and slightly adjusted doorwing position the SpecOps mech knew that his friend was lying to them. Jazz also knew that Prowl was extremely stubborn, if he did not want to tell you something, one would have a very slim chance of getting the information.

However, Prowl wasn’t the only source of information, Jazz noted. As soon as his friend was taking his volunteered time in the brig, the SpecOps Officer decided that he would have a little… chat with some of the soldiers that were in here earlier.

A glance at Ironhide and Jazz could tell the older mech was thinking the same thing.

“See to that.” Optimus half-ordered, slightly defeated, using the tone he would to the troublemakers of the army. “Prowl as leader of the Autobot forces I hereby sentence you to 6 orns in the brig for misconduct becoming of an Autobot Officer.”

The Cybertronian truck looked at his other officers, “Please escort uh, Prowl to the brig.” Optimus said, very weirded out by the sentence he thought he’d never have to utter.

Jazz and Ironhide gave a half-hearted salute and moved over to Prowl. Protocol stated that they place handcuffs of the sentenced bot, but between Prowl still holding Bluestreak, and their own indesire to cart their Second around as a miscreant they just decided to walk along the black and white Praxian instead.

“C’mon punk,” Ironhide said opening the door to the hallway, “Let’s get this over with.”

Chapter Text

In the brig, Prowl sat. He watched as Bluestreak slowly crawled around the medium-sized area, only moving in to stop the sparkling when the little bot came too close to the electric cell bars.

Every now and then the SiC would look up and nod at a few nosy, bewildered troopers, who came in to see if the rumors were true. They were.

Occasionally some of the other Senior Officers would come in, and they would engage Prowl in conversation or some other activity. Under the guise of supplying average reading material to the tactician, Red Alert would pass over some security reports. The next joor might find Ultra Magnus and the SiC discussing potential additions to the next Autobot Field Guide edition. Ironhide came up with some new training, aka punishment, ideas for the troops, seeking approval.

Jazz came over too. Across the room the agent would lean on the wall facing the brig. Besides from occasionally trying to glean more information from his friend, the SpecOps mech engaged the tactician in a game of tech-chess. It was a slow process, between the game having to be verbal and because both mechs had long drawn out thinking processes. Though Jazz was a mech prone to personal instinct and acted on impulses, the SpecOps Commander treated his pieces like they were his own bots in the field. In other words, he was hard pressed to sacrifice them in any other situation than absolutely necessary. Prowl was the same way. While long, however, the idle chatter and Jazz’s latest music tastes kept sound alive in the brig.

In the meantime, Bluestreak would either nap or play quietly with the small toys that the engineering team, at Wheeljack’s request, fashioned for the sparkling. The blocks were a huge success, the little bot was quietly, constantly creating buildings. Unfortunately, that peace only lasted for so long. If the blocks fell, Bluestreak would start to wail. It was during those times that a medium-sized, plush doll became the favorite playtime object.

Ratchet had a fit when he found out. According to Jazz, the medic had gone on wrench throwing rampage. Up and up the ranks until the medic was even ranting at the Prime, himself, for being, ‘a slagging indulgent soft-sparked, fragging fool for putting Prowl and a sparkling in the slagging scrapheap called a brig!’

As Optimus cowered away from his furious CMO, Prowl had a hearty laugh at Jazz’s retelling of the tale.

The few passerby in the brig who saw the saw were only reaffirmed of two things. 1.) They were completely wrong about their tactician. 2.) High Command took care of their own; officers and enlisted alike.

Towards the end of Prowl’s voluntary stay, a mech shrouded in the darkness of the brig in the night approach the tactician’s cell. The lack of a voice accompanying the shadow made deciphering the newcomer’s presence more difficult, but through that same logic Prowl worked out that this bot was not one of his fellow members in High Command.

“Can I help you?” The Praxian asked politely.

The other bot mumbled something just short of being audible.

“I apologize, I could not hear you. Come again?”

A beat of silence past, and Prowl began to wonder if he imagined the entire exchange. Then the voice sobbed again, slightly louder this time, “...I’m sorry… Primus I’m so sorry!”

Prowl gave a small frown under the cover of the dim light that caned from the hallway. He was never good at comforting these bots, that was always Jazz’s unofficial job. Perhaps the mech assumed the SpecOps mech took his usual place, as of late, with the strategist. “Jazz isn’t here.”

The mech sniffed and looked up, “I wanted to talk to you, Prowl. ...But I’ll go, if you want.”

That was a surprise, Prowl noted, scrutinizing the shadows. Between the hitched vocals and the additional shadows of the other Autobot’s frame, the identity of the newcomer was identified. Tracks. But why would the warrior come to him ?

Oh. Oh. The incident. Well then, yes, Prowl supposed that was a good enough reason as any to talk to him.

Careful not to wake the recharging sparkling, the older Praxian made his way closer to where Tracks was on the opposite side of the bars. “To borrow a phrase from Jazz: ‘I am all audials.’”

Tracks laughed at the tactician’s word choice ruefully, “Heh… you always have been.”

Confused the Praxian asked, “I beg your pardon?”

Tracks glanced up to meet his superior’s optics, mournful tears threatening to spill from his own, “I-you… you’ve always put us before yourself. You had every right to punish us or kick us out every single slagging time. But you didn’t… Still don’t. I-I think I finally got it.”

“Got what?” Came the gentle inquiry. It wasn’t out of curiosity this time, purely just a slight prod to get all of the Autobot’s pressing emotions lasted out. More often than not it was a tactic that his best friend used on him, after a rough battle. It was Prowl’s one light in where everything else was surrounded by a scorning darkness.

“You know; all you’ve done. Putting our desires above your own wants and needs… and if it hurts you, then so be it, you’d do anything to keep us safe and happy. Am I right?”

Prowl nodded slowly, surprised and slightly touched by the warrior’s confessions and observations. “Yes…” Was the Praxian’s murmured response.

Then Tracks lost it, helm getting tucked into his his raised knee plating. His moral duty as an Autobot was to be generous and kind to all. Loyal to his own, no matter the personal opinions one might have. And he couldn’t even give that much to his own commander! What type of Autobot was that?

In a rare display of comfort Prowl was able to slowly slide his servo through the electrified bars. His arm only got scorched slightly, but the wounds were purely superficial. Successfully through he lay a servo on the other’s hunched shoulder and gave it a small squeeze, yet another thing he was taught about consolement by Jazz. His volunteered gamble paid off in that moment.

He knew it to be true. The SiC who was mocked and disrespect would not be any longer. Mechs had changed.

The Praxian smiled down on his recharging charge, with his free servo he gave a small rub to the little one’s doorwings, both in a gesture of thanks and an effort to destress them. Because he too had changed, for the better. And it was all due to a grey sparkling named Bluestreak.

Chapter Text

Prowl opened his mouth to respond, but Mirage beat him to it. “Hmm… True. But really, Hound, if Blue was in any danger I’m sure Prowl would not allow this to happen.”

“It shouldn’t have happened at all!” Hound shot back.

“It shouldn’t have,” Mirage agreed, “But it did. You know as well as I, that you can not change the past.”

“That doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it!” The green Autobot replied, continuing with his mission of trying to shoot lasers out of his optics at Prowl.

The tactician was finally able to make his way into the lovers conversation, “You are, of course, allowed to feel however you want. Allow me to assure you that if Bluestreak would be placed in any harm, my actions would be greatly different concerning the situation.”

The former noble made a servo gesture at their SiC, giving a pointed look at his companion. The stare was obviously a haughty ‘see?-I-told-you-so’ look.

“Fine.” Hound spoke in moody tones, accepting, but nonetheless, displaying his distaste for the situation. In grudging manner he passed Bluestreak back over to his appointed caretaker.

That was all the three adults could accomplish before the screeching of Klaxon alarms blared across.

Hound and Mirage turned to face the tactician, silently asking their superior officer about the best course of action. The Praxian, however, was already many steps ahead of them. “GO!” He yelled rushing to get to his pre-battle spot in Security Hub.

It was also where he was going to deposit Bluestreak. The Hub was defended, constantly watched, and improved always by the Autobots Security Director, Red Alert. This made it the safest place for the base’s children to be during a Decepticon Attack.

The previous fact was already confirmed during the early days when the Autobots came into guardianship for Bumblebee and the Twins. As such, Ironhide and Ratchet were also making their way over to Security Hub; despite the Twins protest.

Before Ironhide had time to respond, Sunstreaker voice floated in, “C’mon Ratch! We’re not sparklings anymore; we can fight!”

“Yeah! Sunny and I’ll show those Decepticreeps!” Sideswipe crowded, more enthusiastic about the confrontation than most of the actual soldiers.

The golden youngling decided to ignore the annoying nickname in favor of pestering his guardian. “They won’t see us coming! Please ‘Hide? Pretty please with energon treats on top?”

“What part of ‘no’ don’tcha punks git? Now pipe down, the big bots need ta talk.” Ironhide growled, showing that his word was final.

The Twins seemed kinda put out, but Bumblebee, slightly older than the troublemakers seemed relieved. “Don’t worry, Ironhide. I’ll watch them.” The yellow minibot youngling informed quietly, loudly enough to be hear, but quiet enough to not interrupt the officers situation assessment.

“Status?” Prowl inquired at the same time.

“Ah got teams Delta and Seven on da ground. Firestormers ETA one breem. Unit P-21 double that. Wreckers just landed.” Ironhide reported, in the midst of coordinating battle positions with the mentioned teams.

“Bay’s prepped and ready. First Aid said inventory’s fine for a small skirmish.” Ratchet responded, not wasting more words than necessary on the situation.

Prowl gritted his denta, even from the middle of the base he could still hear and feel the assaults effects. This was not going to be a small skirmish. Now, if only the troops on the frontlines could avoid getting severely injured for once. Alas, that was not to be…

“Ya jinxed it Doc. Kup’s sayin’ his squad’s pinned by Screamer’s mechs. Magnus ‘nd Percy ain’t faring any better.”

“Slag it to the Pits!” The medic exclaimed, skidding to a stop, as something went down in Medical. Hastily, he let go of the Twins in his grasp, giving gruff instructions, “March your afts straight to the Hub. Stay there and behave for Red Alert.”

Another explosion trembled throughout the base, and Bluestreak started wailing reminded of what happened in Praxus, not that long ago. The sirens hurt his audials, and the shouting reminisced those of his creators’ and neighbors’ during the city’s fall. The bases shaking due to the Seeker’s steadying runs did not any.

Ironhide let his other charge down as well. And like Ratchet sprinted back to his station. The younglings were more than capable of moving on their own, but it was still more efficient for the adults, with longer legs to transport them in emergencies. This brutal attack, however, was going be the first of many exceptions in the coming vorns.

Knowing the danger of being away from the mechs on the frontlines any longer, Prowl called out to the retreating form of the yellow minibot. “Bumblebee! Come here.”

The youngling scurried back, his optics wide with fear as another explosion quakes the floor. As he was taught, by Ironhide and Chromia, he saluted the larger Praxian, “Sir?”

Prowl bent down and quickly, but gently pushed Bluestreak into the younglings servo; he urged, “Take him with you. Stay safe. Now go.”

“Y-yes Sir. I promise he’ll be fine. I-I won’t let you down.” Bumblebee managed to stammer out, he watched the twins before, that was no trouble. But they were not as fast or as sneaky then, and the less frequent attacks were not as severe.

Bumblebee’s spark pounded in his chassis. Was he up to this added responsibility? Of both the twins, himself, and now Bluestreak… Bumblebee wasn’t sure; but he’d do his best. For Ironhide, for Prowl, for Sideswipe and Sunstreaker, for Bluestreak… for himself. They were counting on him. And he would not let them, would not let himself, down. He was an Autobot, just like the rest of them; and he could do this.

Chapter Text

The jets overhead whizzed past as dropped their explosive cargo across the field. Going at Mach 3 and performing crazy, daring stunts, kept most of them from being hit. Even the majority of the more unlucky ones were barely even grazed. In other words, nowhere near enough to bring any of the enemy fliers down, especially those in the Air Commander’s squadron.

As the Decepticon Elite Trine came in for another pass, the Autobot’s newly arrived tactician started calculating for the best firing points. Noticing the diamond sweeping pattern that was recently used in the fall of Praxus, the SiC was able to find a spot with over an 82.479% chance of bringing a member of the Elite Trine down.

::Ironhide! Cannons at 62 degrees!:: Prowl shouted through an open commlink to avoid the roar and thunder of the battlefield around him. It also helped in lowering the chance of the enemy learning of their plans; however, if the Decepticon’s Communication Chief was somewhere nearby, using the comms or not would not really matter.

::This had better work...:: Was the grunted response, as the rust colored mech moved to follow and relay the order. They had lost too much ground and ordinance already, and the battle had barely begun!

As it would waste time they could not afford to lose, Prowl did not grant the grumbling with a response. Instead the Praxian gave his next set series of orders, timing the Seekers approach mentally.

::Ready…::The cannons were moved into position, being rapidly, yet efficiently reloaded.

::Aim…:: Each of the large artillery weapons were locked on to the position that the tactician had called for.

FIRE!” Now, those dozens of projectiles rocketed towards the three unexpecting fliers.

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“Sideswipe! Sunstreaker! Wait for us!” Bumblebee cried, chasing after the two.

“‘Us?’ Whatcha talking about ‘Bee?” Sideswipe called back confused, although both he and his twin obliged the request.

Speaking of the golden bot, the youngling just elbowed his brother in the side. “Honestly, Sides! Don’t you ever pay attention! Obviously, Prowler gave ‘Bee the pipsqueak.”

“Oh…”

Sunstreaker’s helm met his servo, “And you want to be a warrior one day.”

Sideswipe glared at his twin, but the anger was muffled with a pout.

“That wasn’t nice Sunstreaker.” Bumblebee chided the younger mechling, catching up to the twins.

“What are you, my Creator?” Sunstreaker shot back, using faux annoyance to cover up his fear for both of his guardians, and the warriors he was raised with knowing, out on the field.

“Whatever Sunny,” Bumblebee said, ignoring the glare he was given by the golden bot. “We should keep moving. We stayed here too long already.”

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As the three younglings and one sparkling forged onward to the Security Hub, none of them noticed the black shadow that was watching them from above through the grated air vent.

Ruby red optics tracked the four young Autobots, narrowing at the sight of the youngest. Oh his Commanders would like this very much, indeed.

::Soundwave, I may be a little late for rendezvous.::

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As a melodious change to Autobot audials, cheers, instead of panicked yelling, erupted across the battlefield as a member of Starscream’s Trine was brought down in the missile firing.

From his vantage point, Prowl could not make out which of the three were shot down, as they were all cover in the same battlefield grime. From the Air Commander’s screech of outrage, instead of pain, the tactician was able to conclude that the Seeker Captain was still in the fight.

That left either Thundercracker or Skywarp, Prowl thought planning new strategies for both potentials. The tactician stifled a sigh, it was so easy planning when there were all three, or at least knowing who was there, but taking one out added for so many possibilities. Both Thundercracker and Skywarp had sigma abilities, but only Thundercracker could still use his when injured and on the ground. But in the air, Skywarp had access to anywhere in the battlefield and the Autobots would need to be ready for any potential surprises.

::Who’s got optics on ‘Warp?:: Ironhide asked over the comms.

So it Skywarp who was taken out, Prowl mused. That was good news for the Autobots; the teleporter’s chances of causes problems for the remainder of the battle were limited. With this new information, the black and white tactician was able to shift over to more specific plans for the situation.

::Yeah, we got optics. Not for much longer though.:: Some member of the communications and surveillance team responded.

::What do ya mean?:: Ironhide growled. In the background of the channel Prowl could hear the Weapon Specialist in the middle of an intense servo to servo combat.

::He’s gonna crash on the generators!:: The mech sounded frantic.

At that statement Prowl hastily opened up a private channel to the older warrior. ::That will cut out the lights. The children-::

::They’re safe; probably with Red ‘ready. The bots out here need ya more.::

::You are right. I apologize for the outburst.::

::Nah, no need for ‘pologies. Ratch and Ah’ve been there too. The kiddos are fine, don’tcha worry.::

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The lights flickered overhead ominously, and some nonessential areas were already incomplete darkness. Fortunately for the younglings the route to the Security Hub was considered absolutely necessary, as it was also in the same hall as the Command and Communication Centers, in the heart of the base.

Despite that fact, the nervous anxiety was enough to subdue further conversation as the three younglings forged on. Sensing the fragile, cautious, tension of the older three bots, even little Bluestreak stifled his terrified wails to mere whimpers and sobs.

Then suddenly the last shreds of the dim-lighting vanished as the largest explosion yet quaked the surrounding areas.

Trying to be brave for the younger bots Bumblebee did his best to quell a scream, letting out a small squeak instead. In a similar fashion the twins shared a unified gasp, but neither made any further move. Only Bluestreak made a racket, shrieks filling the hallway.

It was dark. He couldn’t see. He didn’t like that… The dark was scary, it reminded the sparkling of Praxus. His home was dark too. And the noise… It was loud, it sounded like thunder. He didn’t like thunder, because it was part of a storm, and storms were bad. But storms had lightning, but that made things light, and Bluestreak like the light. But this wasn’t a storm! And it was scary! And his rescuer was gone… but he would be back right? Because his savior had to come back! His rescuer had to save him from this cold… dark… scary… hallway. Oh where was Prowl?! He wanted, no he needed, Prowl!

Whoosh! Bluestreak felt a sudden breeze in his faceplates, successfully re-shutting him up. What was that? Whish! There it was again! He looked up questioningly, at the two blue lights marking the yellow youngling’s optics. From the way Bumblebee’s optics were darting back and forth, the older mechling picked up on the sound too.

“Be quiet!” Bumblebee hissed at the twins who started to murmur to each other.

“What’s up, Bee?” One of them whispered, yet it was too dark in the hallway for Bluestreak to make out which one.

“Shhhh!” The eldest of the four strained his audials, trying to pick up the slight sound disturbance again, to no avail.

After about a half a breem, all of them heard a slight Cybertronian hiss, and it certainly did not sound friendly. Bumblebee heard this sound before, he was sure of it, but where?

The light flickered back on again for a split second and the yellow youngling caught the tiniest glimpse of a black and silver blur. His vents hitched, he knew who that was, and if the cat was after them this wasn’t good.

The wide, paralyzed optics of the Twins, told Bumblebee that both of the younger bots had noticed the spy as well.

“Into the storage closet. Quickly!” The yellow youngling whispered urgently. As he said that, Bumblebee already started slowly backpedaling in the said closet’s direction, Bluestreak still in his arms.

The Decepticon cassette was apparently already aware of the children’s plan, if his abandonment of the shadows was any indication, as he bounded towards the four defenseless children.

Bumblebee watched helpless as the cat pounced on the Twins. He wanted to back and save them, listening to their hurt shouts. He pushed onwards though, he would get them help later. He had to save Bluestreak. The sparkling was his responsiblity, he promised Prowl that. Told the Autobot SiC, that he would make sure the little Praxian was safe. He couldn’t break that promise, not now. The tactician was counting on him, he couldn’t let him down!

That was Bumblebee’s last conscious thought before he felt a sharp, painful sensation in his side. “Agh!” The youngling cried out, tripping on the ground. He release Bluestreak from his grasp somewhere in the fall and could hear the Ravage’s snarling somewhere nearby, before everything went dark.

Chapter Text

“Hmm… Very good Ravage. Not only will your find damage the Autobot morale, it will secure the future of Decepticon hierarchy! It’s a shame that the others are too old to be influenced by our noble cause.” Megatron declared.

Behind him, Shockwave spoke up in dissent, “You’re being illogical, my liege. Placing a sparkling in a position of High Command is ludicrous.”

“For once, I agree with Shockwave.” A battle-scarred Starscream approached, his equally damaged Trine behind him. “Sparklings should be cherished and cared for; not placed in the middle of a war zone!”

Megatron leveled a dark scowl at his commanders. “If I recall correctly until before he challenged your positions, you had both consented to destroy the same child’s home.”

“Don’t remind me…” Starscream muttered looking away. His Seekers were still reeling at that time from Tarn’s attacks on their own sparkling centers in Vos. At the time though, they had been convinced that it was Praxus’s and Iacon’s fault, and the aerial legions were quick to turn their rage into retaliation. When the fliers found out the truth… they were still devastated by their actions.

The muttering had not deterred the Decepticon Warlord in the slightest. Instead, he continued, “My decision is final. We will make the proper preparations back on base.” The gun-former raised his voice then, back to its thunderous battlefield roar. “DECEPTICONS, RETREAT!”

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Another loud cheer arose from the remaining Autobots on the field when the enemy heeded their leader’s call for retreat. After waiting for a few breems to make sure the enemy forces were really gone, and not waiting to strike them in the back, the Autobots turned back for their base.

Field medics and squadmates accompanied their injured comrades to the medbay because even in victory there would always be casualties. Prowl scanned the field noting that a large portion of the two Wrecker squads was being taken in from their earlier run-ins with the Seekers; Ironhide’s team also seemed to take a good portion of the attack, prompting the tactician to remember to give the three teams’ members additional time to file battlefield reports.

That was all subconscious in the Praxian’s mind. The only thing that truly mattered at the current moment, was being assured of his charge’s safety. Despite Ironhide’s assurances that the children were fine, the black and white bot could not suppress the urge to make sure of it, himself.

Forging onwards to the base, Prowl found himself subject to multitudes of cheers and back patting, for not only taking down Skywarp but eventually the other two members of the Elite Trine as well. As it would be rude not to also commend the troops, the SiC gave each of his warriors equal attention. That was until a sharp, urgent voice cried out his name.

“’Hide, Prowler! Ya need ta come here now!” Jazz waved him over, to where Ratchet and Red Alert were huddled at the entrance. The CMO was hunched over something, likely another mecha; who, Prowl could not tell, as the frame was fully covered by the white and red medic. As for Red Alert, the Security Director looked like he was trying his hardest not to fritz, and just barely managing that.

As Prowl got closer he could hear something that sounded like a child’s sobs. The voice sounded like it belonged to Bumblebee, but why? Had something happened to the yellow youngling? The Twins? Or Bluestreak… A wave of rare terror flashed briefly in the tactician’s spark, and he moved faster towards the other officers, dodging the hoards of returning warriors.

“What’s going on?” Ironhide demanded, joining with the two black and whites.

“The kids never got ta Red.”

“But they should have had ample time.” Prowl stated frowning to his best friend.

“Under normal circumstances.” The SpecOps mech agreed grimly, “But that doesn’t ‘clude being ‘ttacked by Ravage.”

“W-What?” The normally calm and collected strategist’s voice hitched.

“If they ain’t okay, Ah’m gonna offline that monster.” The Weapon Specialist growled as the group of three got closer.

“They’re alive.” Jazz ever so helpfully informed. “Hurt, but nothin’ Ratch can’t handle. Con wasn’t aiming ta kill. Well…”

The brief moment of relief was quickly shattered at the last uttered word. “‘Well’ what?”

“We know the Twins and ‘Bee are fine. But we can’t find Baby Blue anywhere. ‘Bee says Ravage took ‘im. I’m sorry Prowler…” Jazz said regretfully. He hated to be the bearer of such bad news.

The tactician’s face grew slack then stone cold. The two doorwings on his back were flared wide and hiked to an intimidating, never before seen, murderous position. Whatever warmth was in Prowl’s optics before and during the younger Praxian’s arrival was smothered instantly. An icy aura swept around where the black and white stood. The nearby passerby made a wide circle around him, and even Jazz took a few steps away, fearing further reaction.

“Then find him.” He hissed at Jazz, in a threatening voice, “At any and all costs.”

“Prowl, ya know as well as Ah do. We just don’t have th’ resources or mech-power ta launch a full-scale search.” Ironhide tried reasoning with the SiC.

“Make the resources! Form the ranks!” The tactician raged. Usually, those words would be followed by some sort of action, but nobody moved to heed the orders, due to the strategist’s current mindset.

“Prowler, the sacrifices-” Jazz tried again.

“Sacrifice? You want to talk about Sacrifice?!” The Praxian gave a deranged laugh, hysterical fury rising, “My city; my home; my people… all gone! When Praxus fell, all I wanted was to go with it! But Blue-he gave me a reason to press on. And you are still babbling on about sacrifice? What about my sacrifices?!”

With the last word, all the anger was sucked out of the tactician, the empty void quickly filling up with all of the pent-up misery and grief that Prowl had locked inside him for vorns. And when the tactician finally fell sobbing to his knees, all the other Autobots saw was not their brave, brilliant SiC but a normal mech; a mech who had finally been broken.

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“Starscream!” Megatron barked at his Second in Command. The Seeker lifted his helm up, glaring at the grounder. The grey mech held out the wailing sparkling with disgust, wasting no time in shoving Bluestreak into the Air Commander’s unprepared arms. The Seeker had to juggle his arms around to safely catch the young Praxian so that the child did not fall onto the floor. Megatron gave his SiC’s struggle no mind.

“What is it now, mighty Megatron?” Starscream spoke in his sarcastic, high, raspy vocals.

“From now on you will be watching him. Dismissed.” Megatron said tersely, turning around to stomp back out; leaving his SiC with the still crying sparkling. His reasoning was that if the noisy little brat was that annoying to him, then he would be more so for the traitorous Seeker. Besides, his Air Commander’s trine had often alluded to their desires about raising a sparkling. Not only would it satisfy them, it would also give the warlord a break from the onslaught of assassination attempts courtesy of Starscream.

Now alone in the Command Center, the other Cons celebrating their victory over the Autoscum, the tetrajet allowed for his more caring, pre-war, personality to appear. He gently repositioned the child into a more comfortable position before bouncing the sparkling, cooing softly at the little one.

It did not take long for Bluestreak to calm down, the bot holding him seemed much nicer than that scary grey bot. The big mech was an even bigger bully, but this one reminded him of his guardian. The smile held the same kindness, though his current holder’s optics also had an apologetic tint to his; almost like the larger bot was upset about something. Bluestreak snuggled up against the mech holding him, in the sparkling’s attempt at cute comfort. He delighted in the fact that the warmth of this mech’s spark was just as cozy, if not more so than, than his rescuer’s.

The little one’s squirming sent an amused smile to the Seeker’s faceplates. Starscream’s wings fluttered behind him in happiness. The act of the snuggling had him thinking this was Primus’s way of saying ‘you’re forgiven.’ That he would be given a second chance, despite foolishly approving of the mission that resulted in so much tragedy. As such he could not let harm befall on the little one. Never again; not now, not ever.

Chapter Text

“Hiya Screamer!” Skywarp said warping in next to his Trine leader, a reluctant, spluttering Thundercracker in toe.

“Skywarp, you can’t just teleport unexpecting mecha!” The blue Seeker scolded, releasing himself from his purple trinemate’s grasp.

“You’re no fun TC…” Skywarp pouted, before becoming excessively interested in what his Trine leader was doing, “Ooh! S’ that who I think it is?!”

Thundercracker turned from one mate to the other, with a small frown, “What are you talking about Warp?” His optics landed on the squirming bundle in his leader’s arms, two blue optics meeting his own. Thundercracker’s own optics brighten in brief surprise, before settling back into a deeper frown, “That’s the Autobot Praxian’s charge.”

“He was the Autobot’s charge. He’s ours now.” Starscream responded to his blue trinemate's observation.

Bluestreak yelped in surprise as two purple servos pulled him away from his current holder. Faintly the sparkling heard the frowny bot yell at the crazy mech who grabbed him. The little Praxian gave a small whimper as the purple and black bot squeezed him too tightly and the blue one looked over at him with a disapproving expression.

Hearing the small whimpers coming from the little Praxian, Starscream shoved his way through his trinemates, retaking the sparkling from Skywarp’s arms. To calm the little one down, the tri-colored jet brought the child back up to where his spark chamber would be under all of his armor and rubbed circles near the Praxian’s winglets slowly and soothingly.

Skywarp grinned sheepishly, between Thundercracker’s scolding and the slight glare that Starscream was sending him. “Heh, sorry… Guess I’m just excited. I mean, a sparkling! We get to raise a sparkling!”

Thundercracker had a smirk tugging at his faceplates at his trinemate’s enthusiasm. He could see where the younger Seeker was coming from, he too wouldn’t mind raising young life, but the blue Seeker was also content to wait until the war was over before they did so. Like Starscream had told Megatron on the field, a war zone, much less the Decepticon Base, was no place for a child. Even under the protection of the Elite Trine and the promise of being Megatron’s heir, would not stop another Decepticon from trying to harm or kill the young child. While many would see the sparkling as innocent, innocence was also one of the leading causes of civilian murders or kidnapping… Which in a way, Thundercracker noted, was what Ravage just did to the innocent, little Praxian.

“Yes, that is the plan, Skywarp,” Starscream responded calmly. Inside he was just as thrilled, but as the Decepticon SiC, he had to maintain composure. If he didn’t, any other mecha could use the sparkling to get him, and Starscream just couldn’t have that.

“So what’s his designation?” Thundercracker rumbled. They couldn’t just keep calling the sparkling or kid forever. Eventually, the kid would grow up.

Skywarp frown in thought, after he was shot down he could have sworn he heard it from some bot on the field. “Something ‘Streak?’ I dunno, something with color.”

“Silver probably. I mean just look at him!” Thundercracker gesture. In reality, the sparkling was more so in the grey color palette, but silver was definitely a more flattering color term. He thought for a moment about the other part his trinemate had said, ‘Streak.’ Fast definitely, a good Seeker quality. And Silver, like the silver lining on the clouds.Yes, yes, Thundercracker could work with that. He moved over, bending down in front of the little one's optics, with a smile, “Silverstreak, welcome to the Elite Trine.”

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Right after the… incident… as the Autobot forces had taken to calling the devastating battle, Prowl was immediately taken off active duty. He was also, for the time being, taken off of the unofficial list of mechs you should talk to for any and all matters. At the current moment, gluing all of Ratchet’s tools to the medbay ceiling, filling Ironhide’s cannons with glitter, and stealing Jazz’s music or SpecOps knives, was a lot smaller of a deactivation sentence than just simply getting to close, or interaction with the distraught tactician. The only mecha that were actually safe to go within a 20 ft range of the tactician was Jazz and Optimus. Usually Ironhide and Ratchet would be included in that group, but since Prowl considered their previous reassurances as what ended up getting Bluestreak captured in the first place, both CMO and Weapon Specialist avoided the SiC, and his wrath, at all costs.

Optimus was safe because he had no part in the incident, and immediately offering his assistance and comfort to his Second’s problems. Jazz was allowed not out of friendship, the tactician held his friend responsible for being the bearer of bad news, but solely for business. For once the Special Operations department located where the sparkling was being held, it would be the SpecOps Commander, himself, who would be going after and bringing back the child.

“Updates?” Prowl spoke cold and flat, a pleading undertone in his voice.

Jazz shook his helm, careful of staying out of reach from the other black and white, “Not yet. But from what Red recovered from da tapes, it looks like Megs want a heir. No ‘Con who cares ‘bout their life’s gonna risk bucket helms wrath.”

Prowl’s faceplate looked pained but at the same time slightly relieved. They would hurt his Bluestreak, not yet at least. And with Primus on the sparkling’s side, the Seeker Trines would also take in the child as their own, protecting him from any other threats. Because if anyone hurt his sparkling, they were going to wish they faced Unicron’s wrath once he was through.

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Megatron frowned at the lastest datapad submitted by Shockwave. The cyclops not only disagreed with his decisions about the Decepticons, youngest, newest, member, but continued to outright question the warlord’s choices. From the text he was currently reviewing it seemed like the scientist was making a silent threat to the newly appointed heir of the Decepticon throne.

The former gladiator did not like that at all. As the logic-driven mech was typically dedicated to the Decepticon Cause, and by default, the warlord, himself, when Shockwave found something to disagree on the riffs could be legendary. Perhaps even just as physically dangerous as those between Starscream and Megatron. This was partially due to the stubborn, refusal to yield, nature of both the purple and grey mechs; the other part stemmed from the fact that Shockwave was just as or nearly as powerful as Megatron was. And Shockwave, by that logic, was certainly more than a match for a defenseless little sparkling.

For what was probably one of the first times since he had met the Seeker, Megatron was thankful for Starscream’s involvement. He knew that the Seeker Captain’s Trine’s ‘adoption’ of the Praxian, as well as Seeker nature, in general, would keep the child safe. For a brief moment, Megatron considered what would happen if Starscream hadn’t accepted the caretaker responsibilities. If both his Air Commander and Military Operations Officer were in agreement with each other against Megatron… Starscream might actually get his dream come true. Shockwave’s unfailing strategies combined with the sheer loyalty and mechapower of the Aerial Force, the gun-former has no doubt in his mind that they could cooperate long enough to pull a successful coup.

Now then, Megatron thought, turning back to the task at hand, what to do with Shockwave?

Chapter Text

The storm outside of the Autobot base had nothing compared to the one inside of it. The acid raindrops were perhaps smoldering at best when contested to the dark and dangerous aura of their second. The sonorous thunder was but mere pulse, contrary to the pangs in his spark as each astrosecond ticked down. The fleeting flashes of lightning were dim and amiable in divergence to the omnipresent, scorching glare of the mech in question.

Every second that time continued to keep moving was just another moment that the grief-stricken monster consumed their tactician. If it was possible, Prowl seemed to be getting worse. Instead of withholding the majority of his rage from the world, it almost seemed like now the black and white was doing his best to outwardly express it.

That was if the ‘Cliffjumper incident’ was anything to go by. Granted, all the Autobots knew that between the nature of the two natural adversaries and time, that that event was likely; just not to that level.

If Ratchet hadn’t known any better, many of the troops were positive that the medic would rival the SiC for the ‘flying-off-the-handle’ award. Thankfully the CMO did not… but nevertheless Ratchet also started to show signs of aggravation. Ironhide too… though for the older mech it was more like mass disgruntlement. In any case it just was not a situation that any of the other Autobot outposts were envious of.

“Stand down, Ironhide,” Prowl growled, stomping past the other officer.

“Look Prowl,” Ironhide said, following the tactician, who was doing his best to avoid being followed, “Ratch and Ah a’ready ‘pologiz’d. Ya got every right ta be angry; We’re mad too… But it coulda happened to any one. Ya gotta calm yerself; being like this ain’t gonna be any help to lil Blue.”

At the mention of his charge’s nickname, the Praxian snarled. The black and white mech turned sharply, narrowly hitting the Weapon Specialist with his doorwings. “Get away from me.”

“No… Prowl, have ya seen yerself lately? This ain’t the Prowl I know. Where did he go?”

“Away.” Prowl responded crudely, turning back around. The tactician hurriedly made the last few steps to his office door and punched in the code.

By the time Ironhide had caught up the doors had slammed shut. There was no use trying to communicate now. The tactician would have already made use of his override codes, and certainly would not allow the rust-colored mech to ping for entry. With a weary sigh Ironhide trudged back, the way he came.

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“How’d it go?” Ratchet grunted at the mecha who entered his med-bay. The medic did not need to look up from his paperwork to know who it was. The familiar ped thumps were answer enough.

“Just swell. How’d ya think it went?” Answered the other mech, drawled sarcastically.

“In other words: ‘like slag.’” The medic commented.

“Pretty much.” Ironhide agreed, sinking into an adjacent chair in the med-bay’s office. “This has gone on for too long, and ya know it. We gotta rethink our ‘proach.”

“Mhm.” The medic mumbled turning over another completed datapad. To most others it would appear as if the medic was not paying attention in the slightest. But not to Ironhide… The rust colored mech knew how busy the other officer was. He also knew that despite all the show and appearances that he had a solid portion of his friends attention. After all, the bodyguard noted, after being the Autobot field medic for a few vorns, the level of multitasking was something to be greatly impressed by.

“Yeah,” the Weapon Specialist nodded, to his comrade’s implied comment. “Ah mean, there’s no way in the Pit, that Ah’m putting up with this any long’r.”

“Is that so?” The medic deadpanned, still engrossed in his work.

“Well, sure. Avoidin’ it doesn’t work. Neither does talkin’. Fragging Pit, leadin’ the rescue ain’t makin’ the cut! It’s time ta fight fire with fire!” Ironhide worked up a rant.

Ratchet choose that moment to look up, a critical glint in his optics evident. His mouth was purse into a small, tight frown; obviously unamused. “There’s something wrong with that plan. A few things actually.”

“Ya don’t say.” Ironhide drawled sarcastically.

Ratchet ignored the tone his friend took. “I do. For one thing we don’t even have ‘fire’. And two: do you really want to fight our slagging superior while he is doing a fragging good job at impersonating Unicorn?”

Ironhide felt his faceplates hearing up in embarrassment. He had always been among one of the more impulsive Autobots, for better or worse. Sometimes, it was better that way; quick decisions, less time for the enemy to be able to attack. Other times… “Well, when ya say it like that, Ratch…”

The CMO made a small noise of triumph, before his gaze turned serious once more. “I agree with your meaning though. It’s gone too far.”

“So what are we gonna do? Prowl ain’t talking to either of us right now. Primus, he’s barely speakin’ to Jazz!” The red van exclaimed.

“But he would talk to someone he considered innocent.” There was a slightly sly edge to the medic’s voice.

“Yer not thinkin’ of…-” The Weapon Specialist started.

“I am.” The response was simple, and yet, effective.

Honestly, Ironhide thought, if Ratchet ever decided to give up medicine, it would practically mean and all out civil war between Tactical, SpecOps, and the field teams over who the medic would be placed with. There was no question in Ironhide’s mind now of where the majority of the Twins devious behavior was coming.

“Hey Ironhide, Optimus wanted me to- Why are you guys staring at me like that?” Bumblebee questioned, nervously. His guardian was looking at his charge with a thoughtful, calculating look. Ratchet was watching him with a slightly predatorial smirk, a very, very similar one to the look the Twins gave to the victim(s) of their newest prank, right before said prank happened. All things considered that was more than a bit scary to the yellow youngling.

After a few moments, a satisfied Ratchet spoke, in a sickly sweet voice. “Hello Bumblebee~~~ How would you like to help us with a little something?

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Each step felt like a death sentence. Why did he say yes? How could they ever think this was a good idea? Didn’t they know what awaited him on the other end of the hall?

One ped in front of the other. It was like a mantra going through the young bot’s helm. Don’t stop; that’s it; keep going. Everything was going to be okay. They wouldn’t have sent him if it wasn’t. Relax, he told himself, you can do it.

The doors he was approaching seemed to loom over him. He could practically feel that uncomfortable, unwelcoming, icy chill the others had talked about in hushed tones; as if the object of their mourners would suddenly appear before them.

What were they thinking in sending him here?! He couldn’t do this! He’d just anger the beast- then they’d be two children short!

The youngling started to hyperventilate. This was bad… go away… danger… This was really, really not good. It was stupid, risky… It was-

“Bumblebee? What are you doing out here?”

It was him. “H-hey, P-prowl…”

“You do not look well. Should I call your guardian?”
The tone was flat, but Bumblebee could hear faint concern in it. That didn’t help his voice come out anything other than a squeak though…

“NO!” The yellow youngling blushed embarrassed, “I, uh, mean no. Umm, thank you, but th-, er, I wanted to, um, talk to you?”

The tactician raised an optic ridge in a doubtful manner, but did not comment on his suspicions. “Of course. We can talk in my office. Follow me.”

Bumblebee’s vocal box gave another pathetic little squeak. “Y-yes Sir.” He responded meekly, following the older mech. The metaphorical knot in his tanks started tightening again in panic. Why, oh why, did he agree to this?