Title: Subterfuge


Universe: PreMovieVerse/ Bay-verse

Characters: Prowl, Jazz,and ensemble

Pairings: ProwlxJazz

Warnings: slight gore, death, implications of violence, use of profanities

Disclaimer: Not mine, I just like to toy with them and hand them back in less than pristine condition.

Summary: When Jazz and a team of new special operations recruits go missing in the spark of supposed neutral territory, Prowl sets out with a team to find them quickly before the Decepticons discover them first.

Request for Ninecrow, hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have writing it hun!

Time measurements: Breem (minute), Joor (hour), Orn (day), Cycle (week), Mega-cycle (month), vorn (year), stellar-cycle (century)

'Blah' – thoughts

::Blah:: - Radio Communication

The artificial glow of Cybertron's two moons cast long and ominous shadows across the metallic landscape of the planet as they rose above the horizon, however every now and again the two satellites became obscured not only by passing acid rain clouds, but also thick plumes of black smoke that rose from the smouldering ground. The buildings that had once made up a neutral colony had been torn apart and the ground had been ripped open, the inner structures of both left exposed to the elements whilst the frames of those terminated remained where they had fallen so many vorns ago. The city had once been home to a thriving population of mechs, femmes, younglings of various ages and sparklings, all going about their orn to orn routines until Megatron changed all of that. Like many others, the city had proclaimed itself neutral and wanting nothing to do with the conflict that was quickly escalating into a war, but within orns of its declaration the Decepticon leader had simply given them two choices; either join the Decepticons and fight against the Autobot resistance, or perish. However like a few others it had stood firm in its resolve in not wanting to get involved and had paid for it severely; that much was evident due to the destruction that laid out before the small team of Autobots.

The chief tactical officer and first Lieutenant to Optimus Prime carefully stepped around and over rubble, his blue optics sweeping across the debris littered landscape whilst keen audio receptors and sensitive sensor nets that covered the entirety of his sensory panels, listened out for any kind of noise other than his unit. Metal and concrete crunched under foot despite his light tread and on more than one occasion he had to leap clear when a remnant of a building crumbled away or the ground disintegrated leaving a hole large enough to cause significant damage should he fall. The black and white Praxian immediately pinged the comm. links of his comrades warning them of the dangers that he was narrowly avoiding; after all they couldn't afford to sustain any serious injury of any kind as they were currently on their own out here and any damage would be more of a hindrance than help.

"Getting anything Hound?" Prowl inquired as he glanced across to where the primarily green form of the tracking specialist was stood as he scanned their immediate area.

"Nothing." Hound responded before he moved on.

The tactician cycled air into his intakes and blew it out in an imitation of an organic sigh. With no positive results radiating from this sector of the city, he was beginning to contemplate ending the search here and starting a new somewhere else. It had been less than an orn ago when they had received news that Jazz's special ops team had failed to report in with their end of cycle progress report and had gone missing deep in the spark of what had once been neutral territory. Prowl had wasted next to no time in devising a rescue plan that would be carried out by himself, Hound and the twins Sunstreaker and Sideswipe; normally Mirage would have joined them on this kind of mission since the spy had an uncanny knack of being able to follow his team leader's movements. But Mirage had no choice but to sit this one out after the misfortune of clashing with one of the Dreads a few orns prior. And Bumblebee? The youngling was still too young and no where near combat ready, that and the tactician preferred to keep his spark where it was right now rather than have Ironhide blast it into the matrix if anything happened to the scout in training.

Of course Optimus Prime had been dubious about letting his first Lieutenant lead the rescue team when his second Lieutenant was either missing, captured by the Decepticons or deactivated. Not that he doubted his chief of special operations abilities, but with several close calls recently the Autobot leader was concerned that Jazz's so called 'luck' had finally run out and it unfortunately had done so whilst the saboteur was out on a simple routine mission with a few new recruits. Ultra Magnus had put forth the suggestion that with the second option being the most likely, that the Wreckers would be the ideal mechs for the job, however Prowl had quickly vetoed that idea since sending the Wreckers in could easily alert the Decepticons to the fact that the Autobot's third in command was missing, or get Jazz killed if the enemy were holding him prisoner. It had taken a little more encouragement and reassurance to convince his Commander, but in the end he managed to get Optimus' approval to lead the rescue mission, although on one condition; three of the Wreckers went with them as a back up team just in case they ran into trouble.

Prowl had been dubious about Prime's conditions since the Wreckers had a tendency to get restless and further complicate issues, so he had recommended that the Wrecker team remain just inside the walls of the city as they needed stealth rather than brute force to locate Jazz and the probationary special ops agents. Leadfoot had quickly argued that if Prowl and his team ran into Decepticons then they would be too far away to offer any kind of aid if they remained at the proposed checkpoint. The tactician had swiftly reinforced his orders with idle threats that he would happily send them all to the brig for insubordination once they returned to base, Leadfoot had no choice to relent as he knew brig time meant that his team would be incarcerated and not out doing what they did best; hit and run operations on small Decepticon strongholds. Although Leadfoot had reiterated at the time that if they didn't make radio contact within two joors, then he and his team would come after them; orders be damned. The 2IC had conceded to that idea before he had lead his team into the wasteland.

Suddenly the sound of concrete and metal shifting drew Prowl out of his thoughts and had him dropping down into a defensive stance, he knew that although the Decepticons were currently still licking their wounds from the battle several orns ago, he would never put it past one or several of Soundwave's symbionts or Scorponok to be scurrying around somewhere close by. The tactician's well honed optics scanned the debris field and deteriorating buildings critically as he scanned for signs that they might come under attack that astro-second, his sensory panels subtly twisted and turned in their sockets as they too 'listened' out for any kind of sound, however all he could hear was the small movements of his team as they too checked their immediate surroundings.

"Prowl I'm getting several energy signatures up ahead." Hound informed the tactician, breaking the silence that had descended upon the small group. The black and white mech glanced at him before he quickly made his way over to the tracking specialist.

"Autobot or Decepticon?" Prowl inquired as his sensory panels flicked upwards and flared out as they too detected the signals, he couldn't quite decipher the individual frequencies from this distance.

"Not sure, seems some sort of jamming signal is interfering with the readings." Hound responded, the news about a jamming signal had every bot on alert as they knew it could only mean one thing; the sparkless drone better known as Soundwave had to be close by.

"Well the only way we're gonna know if they are friend or foe, is if we stop talking and go over there." Sideswipe spoke up as his gaze remained fixed upon the half buried entrance to a building, Prowl shot him a disapproving look, the last thing he needed right now was for the twins to become reckless and trigger happy.

"Sideswipe's right Prowl." The tracking specialist told their commanding officer "one of us should go on ahead and scout it out first."

The red front-liner took a few steps forward "Let me go first."

The tactician raised a single optic ridge "You are hardly built for stealth, that and you have a tendency to use your vocaliser rather than your processor."

Sideswipe heard his brother snort in amusement and he levelled a glare at him before returning his attention to Prowl "Funny, besides you can't send Sunny, the fragger would bitch about his paint gettin' scratched ..." He ignored the low growl that escaped his brother's vocaliser " ... an' Hound is special ops, he's probably got Intel. the Decepticons would love to get their servos on and there's no way I'm allowing you to go first."

Prowl vented a deep sigh "Alright fine, proceed with the utter most caution Sideswipe, I don't particularly want to explain to Ratchet how you managed to get yourself slagged."

The red front-liner checked the charge in his rifle before he glanced at the black and white mech with a small pout "You make it sound as though I do it on purpose."

The tactician rose a single optic ridge "I do wonder sometimes whether you do it out of sheer boredom, now I suggest you get your aft into gear and scout out those signals."

"Yea, yea I'm going." Sideswipe muttered in response as he clicked his rifle into place upon his back and took off towards the ruins not far from their position, surprisingly the red front-liner moved unseen and unheard as he cautiously clambered up the small pile of concrete and twisted metal that half buried the entrance to the almost demolished building. Sideswipe allowed one of his swords to slide out from its protective sheath on his left arm as the yawning darkness stared back at him, normally he liked to shoot first and ask questions later however the red front-liner suspected Prowl would want the Decepticon alive rather than a cold terminated frame. Sideswipe scaled down the small pile of debris and almost immediately his olfactory sensors were met with the distinct smell of smoke, ash and several chemicals that had been superheated in the attack, although they weren't as prominent now, but none of them could compare to the smell of metabolised energon. Speaking of their life fluid and source of fuel, the red front-liner spotted a trail of the glowing blue liquid upon the charred floor leading to the adjoining room.

"Got trails of energon here." Sideswipe informed the rest of his team as he crouched down to get a closer look "looks like either one of our own or a Decepticon got injured, I'm hoping for the latter." The red front-liner pushed himself up to his full height before continuing forwards, he couldn't help but notice that the droplets of energon had increased into small pools and smudges. However Sideswipe soon found one of the probable causes for one of the large puddles of energon, oil and coolant when he stepped over a couple of beams that had been knocked loose. Lying before him covered in his own mech fluids was one of the young agents Jazz had brought out with him to gain field experience, the red front-liner crouched beside the greyed frame taking note of the fatal injuries that had killed him "frag found one of Jazz's agents .. he's dead."

There was a brief silence on the other end of the comm. link before Prowl spoke up ::Any sign of the others?::

"No." Sideswipe responded as he quickly glanced around the room.

::Understood, Sideswipe, Hound is requesting that you remove the agent's tags*.:: The tactician told him.

The front-liner frowned at that "His what?"

::His tag, it should be somewhere beneath his collar plating, its a long thin rectangular piece of metal that has markings on it.:: The black and white mech responded.

The frown that marred Sideswipe's facial plates deepened "Special ops have tags?" He had to admit he was mildly surprised at that since he had never heard of it before, but then again special ops agents kept their secrets under tight lock and key and only shared them with a trusted few. However the red front-liner was determined that he would have to ask Jazz about them when they returned to base; that was if the saboteur was still on-line. Sideswipe reached up and slid his fingers under the dead mech's collar plating and felt around for the said tag, it took only a few nano-clicks to locate it before he managed to slide it free from its slot. The tag was slippery with the mech's life fluids, but a simple wipe of his thumb across the top surface cleared much of the detailing beneath. Sideswipe gave the dead agent a few more brief nano-clicks before he stored the tag in his sub-space and pushed himself upright, the red front-liner knew he had to push on forwards as they still had a chief of special ops to locate and rescue.

Sideswipe made his way through the debris as quickly and as quietly as possible, although it seemed almost impossible as some structures had suffered quite terribly at the servos of war and the elements. There were also more times than he dared to count that the red front-liner found himself moving out of the way or risk either being severely damaged or deactivated. As he continued through the rubble he found the rest of the newbie agents just like their unfortunate comrade, but still no sign of Jazz; Sideswipe wasn't sure whether that was good or bad news. And like the first agent, the red front-liner removed their tags and stored them in his sub-space since he knew he would have to hand them over to Mirage if the saboteur turned up dead.

Suddenly his audio receptors detected voices not far from his position, Sideswipe crouched down and edged along the crumpled wall he had taken refuge behind. The red front-liner glanced around the corner and over the edge, he immediately spotted the three Dreads Crankcase, Crowbar and his least favourite Hatchet who were watching their surroundings whilst a few grunts snarled and growled at one another over a game they had started, it was clear to Sideswipe that they were waiting for something or someone. Then from the corner of his optic he spotted the very mech they had been searching for, he felt his spark clench painfully in its chamber when his azure gaze fell upon Jazz's prone form. The saboteur was sat upright, his back plates up against a pole whilst his arms had been tied above his horned helm, Sideswipe watched for any kind of movement but when the silver mech failed to even twitch, the red front-liner knew there was a probable chance that Jazz was in stasis lock.

Sideswipe shifted his gaze and spotted one of the young agents (the mechs designations completely escaped him) not too far from Jazz's position, the red front-liner had to admit he was surprised at that since all of the others had been ruthlessly terminated. Although Sideswipe figured that the Decepticons knew that the only way to get the saboteur to talk was by keeping one of his agents alive so they could torture him painfully when Jazz refused to talk. However the red front-liner knew that the saboteur was an incredibly hard individual to crack due to the training he had undergone and would sooner sacrifice himself and the agent before he compromised the Autobots in any way.

"I've got optics on Jazz, one of the rookies and eight Decepticons, three of them Dreads." Sideswipe informed the rest of his team as he thumbed the safety off on his rifle.

::Understood, however do not move from your position, we're on our way.:: Prowl told him before he terminated the comm. link on his end.

The red front-liner settled down to wait, although his warrior coding was clearly itching for a fight; after all he had never really been a patient mech at all and whilst he could easily take the eight Decepticons, he knew he couldn't put Jazz's or the young agent's life at risk especially when the pair of them were incapable of defending themselves. Sideswipe could feel his rather short tether of patience slowly begin to wear out, until he heard the unmistakeable familiar voice of his twin cursing their surroundings and what it was doing to his finish.

"Why don't you say it a little louder Sunny, don't think olé Megs quite heard you over in Kaon." The red front-liner grinned at his twin only to receive a nasty glare in return.

"Don't call me that and shut the frag up." Sunstreaker growled at his brother before turning his attention to his rifle.

Sideswipe shook his head in amusement before turning his attention to Prowl as the tactician made his way toward him, the black and white mech didn't utter a single word to him as he laid down upon his front and peered over the edge. The red front-liner immediately noticed the change in the tactician's body language when his sensory panels rose upwards into a sharp 'V' before they flared out, he knew Prowl and Jazz were close, as to how close? He hadn't quite worked that part out, but for the tactician to take up this mission rather than leave it to the Wreckers, the saboteur clearly meant more to the black and white mech than a simple close friend.

"Alright Sunstreaker, Sideswipe I want the pair of you to head down and take up point there ..." Prowl pointed to a crumbled wall that sat several clicks from a pair of grunts scrapping it out on the ground "... give me confirmation once you arrive there." The twins nodded in unison before the pair of hem headed off to their allocated position. Prowl then turned to the tracking specialist who was knelt beside him "Hound I want you to scout out any potential exit routes in case this rescue is unsuccessful."

"Yes Sir." The primarily green mech responded before he took off.

The tactician watched him leave before turning his attention to the scene below, he felt his spark clench in its casing when his azure gaze fell upon the prone and slumped form of Jazz. The black and white mech knew that the saboteur would take the news of his agents being brutally terminated quite hard; after all he had brought them out here for a simply training exercise in a location that was of no consequence to either them or the Decepticons. Which meant that either the Decepticon unit had been out here already and had stumbled across the special ops team, or they had a leak somewhere in their ranks; an unsettling fact he knew he would have to investigate further into once they had returned to base. But first he had a certain silver saboteur that required his rescue.

Prowl settled himself onto his front once more whilst taking a few brief nano-clicks to settle the butt of the rifle against his right shoulder then hooked himself up to the weapon via a data-cable. He sighted along the barrel and noted with satisfaction that he had several clear head shots, although he knew it would all change once the twins were into position which was why he had hooked himself up to the on board targeting scanners so adjustments could be made much quicker. The tactician used the sniper scope to see if he could take note of the injuries that Jazz might have incurred at the servos of the Dreads or the grunts, he immediately noticed the scorch mark upon the saboteur's flank plus several scuffs and scrapes upon various areas of his frame, the black and white mech couldn't help the anger that was suddenly raging through his lines at seeing his lover harmed, nor the sudden need to maim something preferably the Decepticon who had injured his Jazz so badly.

::We're in position Prowl.:: Sideswipe informed the tactician.

::Understood.:: Prowl responded as he settled his index finger upon the trigger and set his sights upon a grunt who was laughing at his two wrestling companions whilst the other growled and cursed at them. The tactician's well trained sight was focused solely upon the centre point of the grunts helm right before he decided to take the shot that without a doubt would terminate the Decepticon swiftly, he watched with a small amount of satisfaction as the grunt stopped mid gesture and dropped heavily to the debris covered ground. His sudden demise immediately caught the attention of the Dreads and the four other grunts, two sets of crimson optics locked onto his position but Prowl was already moving before the pair could unload a barrage of weapons fire that would surely have killed him if he had stayed.

The tactician edged his way along the crumpled wall in a crouch whilst also ensuring his sensory panels remained almost flat against his back, he stopped every so often to deliver some return fire and to check on Sunstreaker's and Sideswipe's positions. It appeared initially that the four heavily armoured but seemingly not too bright Decepticons had chosen flight over fight, however the twins quickly ambushed them before they could disappear into a large density of debris and drove them back into the open. Prowl knew the twins were more than capable of taking down the four large mechs through precise and deadly attacks that they easily co-ordinated through their sibling bond with frightening efficiency despite their reckless tendencies and lack of discipline. It was one of the many reasons why the twins had been the crowd's favourites during their time in the gladiatorial pits in Kaon, their ability to communicate flawlessly over their bond allowed them to take down their opponents swiftly, such as the pair of them were doing now with Sideswipe using himself as a distraction so his brother could move in for the kill.

However as much as the tactician was intrigued by the twins unique fighting techniques, he had his own concerns, the felinoid like mech better known as Hatchet launched himself over the debris in front of him but the 2IC was undeterred by that known fact. Prowl continued running and leaping over pieces of debris as he brought his rifle round and wasted no time in opening fire upon the Dread in front of him, Hatchet growled and hissed as the acid pellets scored his heavy armour before howling in pain when one shot sunk deep into his left hip joint, the corrosive acid immediately going to work in destroying delicate muscle cables, energon and coolant lines. Normally the injury would have been enough to debilitate any other mechanoid, but the damage only seemed to slow Hatchet down rather than incapacitate him.

That was until the tactician managed to get in two well placed shots into the felinoid's chest plates, Hatchet yelped in pain then took off before another shot could be fired. However the 2IC knew he was far from safe as the other two Dreads were closing in on his position from behind, and he was all too aware of just how out matched he was against the two heavy hitters. Prowl leapt over the wall that was in front of him and collapsed into a somewhat undignified heap on the other side, the tactician wasted no time in popping back up and squeezing off a few shots that had the Dreads scrambling for cover.

He had to admit he was surprised that the Decepticons had neglected to leave someone with their prisoners, unless they felt extremely confident that they could deal with them quickly and efficiently before their retrieval squad arrived; a particularly large if not stupid decision upon their behalf, the tactician mused as he poked his helm up over the wall he had taken cover behind only to duck down again when the Dreads unleashed a torrent of weapons fire upon his position. The 2IC cursed his own recklessness (a word that wasn't often associated with him) and his stubbornness for deciding to leave the Wreckers back at the city's boundary, particularly more so since he knew with the jamming signal still currently in place there was simply no way he could raise them on the long range comm.'s and request for back up. Although knowing Leadfoot's infamous lack of patience, he knew there was a high probability that the Wreckers would have followed them a joor into their search, and could quite possibly arrive on the scene any given breem now.

In fact as if sensing his thoughts he heard a distinctly familiar whoop of sadistic glee not far from his position, Prowl risked popping his helm up to take stock of what was going on only to nearly vent a sigh of relief when he spotted Leadfoot and Roadbuster peppering the Dread's position with weapons fire. The tactician pushed himself up onto his peds and sprung over the wall he had been using for cover, narrowly avoiding being hit by return fire as he moved to take up a new position behind some twisted metal.

"Bet your glad we didn't follow your orders." The engineer/front-liner said as he spared a glance for the chief tactical officer.

"Ecstatic." The black and white mech responded sarcastically as he squeezed off a few rounds, he heard a yelp of pain followed by vehement cursing when one of his shots found its mark. The 2IC felt a small measure of satisfaction at that as he exchanged the almost empty clip in his rifle for a new full one, although he knew the fight was far from won as the Dreads were stubborn and would gladly fight to near deactivation, but this time self preservation plus the knowledge that they were outnumbered had the pair of them quickly retreating away from the area, however Prowl knew there was every possibility that they would be back and with a larger contingent next time. With that line of thought running through his processor, the tactician quickly scrambled down the debris and into the open area where the Decepticons had placed Jazz and the other surviving agent.

Prowl felt his fuel tank churn at the particularly nasty wound on Jazz's left side and thigh as he knelt down beside the saboteur, his attention quickly focused upon the laser burn that decorated the saboteur's side before his azure gaze travelled down to the silver mech's thigh. The gash suspiciously looked like a large knife wound which started from the inside of his knee and ran diagonally up along the outside of his leg, the armoured plating had been torn open exposing muscle cables and other vital parts. The tactician knew that Jazz should at least be in stasis lock with the amount of energon that had collected beneath him, however the saboteur had a knack for installing protocols that enabled him to remain on-line or at least to slip into an almost unconscious state (which the black and white mech suspected he was in now) that he could bring himself out of. Although sometimes initiating them wasn't always a sensible thing to do and more often than not Ratchet had to override them so he could put Jazz into stasis lock rather than endure the discomfort or agony of whatever injury he had sustained.

Prowl slid the holding chamber out of his weapon, he gently pried one of the pellets out of its holding place. With enough pressure to bend rather than snap, the tactician carefully poured the contents onto the metal chains that had been wrapped around the saboteur's wrists. The small amount of corrosive acid worked quickly through the thick metal of the cuffs allowing Prowl to dig his clawed fingertips into the compromised links and pull them open, he ignored the slight pain and burning sensation when the delicate derma-plating of his fingers came into contact with traces of acid. However he pushed all that aside as he lowered Jazz's unconscious form to the cold, ash covered ground, the tactician wasted no time in placing his middle and index fingers upon the saboteur's neck cabling to locate a pulse. The black and white mech vented a sigh of relief when he felt a slow but steady beat underneath them; at least that was a small comfort.

"Prowl we have to move." Sideswipe told him as the red front-liner made his way over.

Prowl met Sideswipe's gaze before quickly checking the front-liner over, it seemed that Sideswipe had only acquired several scrapes and dents that would right themselves in a few orns. But if there was one thing the tactician had learnt about the twins was that they had a tendency of hiding a serious injury from others until the mission was completed or they finally succumbed to them.

"Hound's back, he's plotted a suitable route back to the extraction point." The red front-liner informed the black and white mech as he glanced across to where the tracking specialist was currently stood, the primarily green mech had a grim look upon his facial plates as he steadied the ops recruit as he got to his feet.

"Very well." Prowl responded as he pushed himself up onto his peds although not before snagging one of the saboteur's arms and pulling him up and across his shoulder struts as he did so, he staggered slightly under the extra weight but a steadying hand upon his elbow joint from Sideswipe kept him upright. The tactician nodded his thanks before making his way across to where the others were congregated, he immediately noticed that Hound was looking at him with a concerned look upon his facial plates. The black and white mech murmured 'he's still with us' as he stepped past the tracking specialist as he knew the condition of the special ops team leader was important to him "Roadbuster, Topspin, Leadfoot, I want the three of you to take point." Prowl adjusted Jazz's unconscious form across his shoulder struts before he continued "Sunstreaker, Sideswipe I want you to take up the rear, Hound you and I will take up the middle with the wounded." The tactician received murmurs of 'yes sir' or 'understood' from the others before informing the tracking specialist that he needed to transmit the course he had plotted to one of the Wreckers. Hound had simply nodded his confirmation of orders before he transmitted the proposed course to Leadfoot, the engineer/heavy hitter simply grunted in acknowledgement and began moving away.

The journey back through the debris field seemed to take longer than them entering it, Prowl mused as he adjusted his grip again upon the saboteur's arm and leg. His sensory panels were beginning to voice their disapproval of the position they had to remain in and the joints were starting to ache, but he simply tried to push aside the discomfort he was feeling; after all he decided that Jazz could always owe him a session or two of magnetic manipulation therapy once he was back on his peds. As the group trudged along amongst the dust and debris, lightning began to flash threateningly across the dark crimson sky leaving the atmosphere heavily charged with electrons whilst thunder rumbled overhead in different pitches and aggression as the storm increased in its ferocity. The tactician knew they needed to find shelter soon as the last thing they needed was to be caught out in the storm when the acid rain began to fall.

"We have to stop." Prowl announced after he felt the slight sting of an acid rain droplet upon his armoured plating, this was the last thing they needed as they tried to make their way to the agreed extraction point, although the tactician had certainly smelt the warning signs that they were due for a storm in the atmosphere earlier during their initial retreat. However that wasn't the only problem either, he could feel his back plates becoming slick with energon since they didn't have the time to see to Jazz's injuries, not too mention that the saboteur was becoming a dead weight across his shoulder struts. Prowl had refused the offer of someone else carrying the silver mech for three simple reasons; one: he was feeling slightly possessive and protective over Jazz right now, two: he didn't want to burden one of the twins or any of the three wreckers with the saboteur just in case they came up any Decepticon resistance, and three: if Jazz suddenly regained consciousness and decided to come up fighting, the tactician was the only one capable of subduing him.

"Over here!" Hound called out from their left, the black and white mech glanced over to see the tracking specialist stood in the doorway of an almost intact two storey building that would provide adequate shelter from the encroaching storm.

The group moved in quickly into their temporary shelter and just in the nick of time it seemed as the first droplets began to fall, however Prowl paid no heed to the slight hissing sound nor the drumming of the rain upon the rooftop as the angry crimson clouds finally unleashed their load as the tactician was more focused upon staggering across the debris and ash covered floor so he could set down his precious load. The black and white mech knelt down beside Jazz's unconscious form and accessed his sub-space, he located two first aid kits, one of which he tossed to Hound so the tracking specialist could treat Quicksilver's injuries, then he set the other down beside him; after all his first priority was to see to Jazz then he could concentrate on getting them out of there. Prowl overheard Leadfoot growl orders to the two other Wreckers and the twins to stand guard at any entrances and exits as he rummaged through the kit to locate the supplies he needed to treat the saboteur's wounds, he picked up the bottle of antiseptic fluid and a couple of clean cloths. The tactician soaked the pair of them before he set to work on cleaning around the scorch marks upon the silver mech's side, he had to ensure that the blasts hadn't punctured through Jazz's plating and into the fragile internals underneath.

Prowl vented a sigh of relief when he found no internal leaking, he had to admit he was somewhat concerned at the lack of response from the saboteur and knew that the likelihood that Jazz had fallen into an energon deprived stasis lock was all too high. However he had to push that to the back of his processor as he turned his attention to the silver mech's leg wound, the tactician picked up the bottle of antiseptic again and another clean cloth. The black and white mech applied a small amount of liquid on the material before gently dabbing and carefully wiping around the wound, Prowl knew that the likelihood that an infection had already set in concerned him greatly as the longer Jazz went without the aid of antivirals to fight back a possible infection, the more chance there was that only could it cause irreparable damage that could see fit to end the saboteur's career as a field agent, but kill him as well. However there was nothing more they could do for the silver mech except keep his wounds clean as much as possible until the storm had passed and they could locate the jamming signal which was preventing them from using their long range comm.'s.

The tactician finished cleaning the wound as best as he could before he applied the quick setting sealant to the deepest parts, he then set about tying a strip of cloth around the injury to prevent further dirt and grime getting into the wounds. It was only after he had finished tying the knot that he sat back and vented a deep intake of air, the black and white mech busied himself tidying up the supplies when he heard a soft groan escape the silver form lying upon the floor in front of him, he watched as dimly lit optics un-shuttered and flickered back on-line.

"Jazz." He called softly if not a little warily as he didn't know whether the saboteur was going to come up fighting or not "Jazz." He called again, this time the silver mech seemed to respond and in the exact way Prowl had predicted he would. The tactician spotted the flash of an energon blade in his lover's right servo and quickly gripped the wrist before the dagger could be plunged into his chest plates, the black and white mech was startled by a frame dropping down beside him as Sideswipe pinned Jazz's left shoulder strut to the floor. Prowl dug his clawed fingertips into the exposed muscle cables and wires in the saboteur's wrist and the humming blade dropped to the ground, although being rendered defenceless and being pinned only escalated Jazz's attempts to get loose.

"Jazz it's alright you're safe." The tactician tried to inform his lover but it seemed to fall upon deaf audios.

"Jazz snap out of it." Sideswipe said sharply as he lessened his hold slightly upon the thrashing frame, surprisingly the red front-liner's tone was enough to cut through the thick haze that had settled in the saboteur's processor as the silver mech ceased fighting the pair of them.

"Prowl?" Jazz inquired weakly as he attempted to focus upon Prowl's facial plates.

The tactician offered the saboteur a reassuring smile and a gentle squeeze of the hand he was now holding "I'm here Jazz."

"How do you feel Jazz?" Sideswipe asked as he sat back on his haunches.

The saboteur shuttered his optics briefly before opening them again and meeting the red front-liner's concerned gaze "Don't make meh answer that … I feel like I've been sucked through a trash compacter an' spat back out again."

"Look like it too." Sideswipe told him with a playful lilt to the tone of his voice.

The silver mech chuckled before it dissolved into a groan of pain as a deep ache settled along his left flank "Don't make meh laugh." Jazz tried to focus upon the ceiling above him only for it to shift and blur and further escalate the sudden violent churning in his fuel tank, the saboteur refused to purge and surprisingly managed to keep the rising nausea at bay with shallow pants. But he knew he wouldn't be able to keep it up for long and hoped that he would pass out before that time came.

"What happened?" Jazz asked wearily as he regarded both Prowl and Sideswipe as the pair of them gently and slowly manoeuvred him up into a sitting position, he nodded his thanks when the red front-liner offered him a small cube of energon. But he found his hands trembled far too much which meant he would get more of the pink fuel on himself rather than in his mouth, however a steadying servo from the tactician allowed him to get a few small sips before he placed the cube in his lap and slumped against the wall; his frame exhausted from the small exertion.

"To answer your question." Prowl began as he removed the cube and placed it down by the saboteur's side "your unit was ambushed by Decepticons and when you failed to report in we had no choice but to come out and locate then subsequently rescue you."

Jazz clenched his right servo into a tight fist "Dammit ta th' pit an' back, did any of th' others survive?"

Prowl shared a brief look with Sideswipe before glancing at his lover "Only one, the Decepticons they … terminated all but Quicksilver, Hound made sure that their tags were collected as per special ops tradition."

The saboteur rose a servo to his fore-helm and vented a shaky intake of air out of his vents, that was seriously the last thing he needed to hear as good special ops agents were hard to come by these orns. He was suddenly glad that he hadn't brought out Bumblebee as he knew he would never be able to forgive himself if anything happened to the youngling. The silver mech had a sneaking suspicion that something wasn't quite right when he had on-lined several orns prior when he had decided to head out to neutral territory to carry out the once a vorn training exercise that stretched across the duration of three cycles. The feeling had intensified when Intel. regarding the Decepticons latest movements had come across his desk. However he had chosen to ignore the signs and the Intel. (which he was sure he was going to receive an audio-full from Mirage) as he took the group of mechs he had selected, with an invitation open to Mirage so the spy could join them once he was released from the med-bay, and headed out.

Jazz could curse himself sometimes as he had been taught to always trust his instincts as nine times out of ten it was usually the best solution to go with as intuition had never failed him in the past, however right now he had more questions than answers and he couldn't berate himself over the decision he had made or lack there of. Not forgetting also that he had two fairly serious injuries that he needed to concern himself with. Speaking of which he must of drifted off as he heard Prowl and Sideswipe call out to him continually.

"I'm still here." The saboteur informed them.

"Good because you're not allowed to check out on us." The red front-liner told him as he gave the silver mech's left shoulder strut a gentle squeeze.

Jazz offered him a weak smile "I'll try not ta."

"Sideswipe I believe you were assigned sentry duty." The tactician informed the red front-liner, Sideswipe simply made a small noise of acknowledgement before he offered the saboteur a reassuring smile as he pushed himself up onto his peds. The black and white mech watched the red twin make his way across the room and take up point near one of the doorways before his gaze returned to Jazz, Prowl couldn't help the concerned frown making its way onto his facial plates when he noticed the saboteur's colour appeared to be slightly faded. The tactician was all too aware of his lover's chances of surviving this mess were slim, they were variables that he simply didn't want to acknowledge just yet despite the fact that his battle computer was insisting that he be prepared for all possible outcomes. Prowl knew that he would have to push his emotions to the back of his processor as he needed to be able to think clearly in order to form a plan of strategy that would get them out of here, he knew the Dreads were still out there lurking and waiting for the prime opportunity to attack them and he hoped to avoid them at all costs.

The tactician removed his acid pellet from sub-space and busied himself with meticulously checking the weapon over, it was small distractions such as this that allowed him to push all other thought aside so he could focus solely upon creating a flawless strategical retreat back to the extraction point. In fact the black and white mech became so immersed in his task that he missed the worried look which was making its way onto Jazz's facial plates.

"Whatever has ya worried has me concerned." The saboteur spoke up distracting Prowl from his current task of checking his rifle, he knew his lover was only meticulous over small details when he was worried about something.

The tactician vented a sigh out of his intakes as he slid the almost spent cartridge out of its loading chamber before removing a new one from sub-space and sliding it into place "Nothing." The black and white mech spotted Hound shifting restlessly upon his feet just to the left of them and knew the tracking specialist wanted to give Jazz the deceased agents tags as per special ops protocol, however Prowl sent a brief message to him stating that now was not the best of times and that he should hold onto them for the time being.

The saboteur frowned although it soon turned into a grimace when he shifted, he clamped his arm against his wounded side and tried to push the pain aside "Certainly means somethin' if ya say nuthin' like that."

Prowl lowered his voice several octaves as he addressed the silver mech "I believe your team was specifically targeted."

Jazz couldn't help the look of surprise that appeared upon his facial plates "But no-one knew where we were goin' except you, Optimus an' th' mechs that came out wit' me." That all too familiar feeling that the saboteur had experienced that morning several orns ago was starting to make its reappearance, Jazz knew that for the Decepticons to find them in this isolated spot clearly meant that someone had given away their position. The saboteur also felt his spark clench in its casing at the thought of the young agents who had been terminated, although it did leave him wondering why the Decepticons had left Quicksilver alive. Jazz knew there were several reasons why they would have left him on-line, the usual being that the Decepticons would slowly and painfully torture the agent in front of him in hopes that the saboteur would give up any valuable Intel. Or they would use him as an example to show the Autobots the price of their continuing defiance. Then his thoughts turned darker, he realised the all too high possibility that Quicksilver had betrayed them and sounded out their position to the enemy, or had made prior arrangements for his capture; after all it wouldn't be the first time Megatron had offered a reward for the more weak minded Autobots so he could get his servos on him.

The tactician noticed the lingering glance Jazz was casting at Quicksilver(who seemed quite jittery and refused to step even near Hound), he had only seen that particular look when the saboteur had one of his intuitions which usually resulted in a mech disappearing quite suddenly and had Red Alert dissolving into one of his paranoid fits "You have your own suspicions."

"You could say that." The saboteur responded as his azure gaze settled mostly upon Quicksilver, he could feel his pre-emptive protocols stirring to life as he watched the young ops agent nervously pace back and forth. Jazz recalled that the purple and silver mech was an excellent information gatherer which had quickly earned him a place in the special operations unit, but Quicksilver was hardly a team player nor was he very sociable which had often caused rifts to occur between him and his team-mates; rifts that couldn't be afforded in the unit especially when your team-mates depended upon you for back-up. A small slither of anger began to slowly seep into his systems, there was absolutely no way that his team could have been compromised as both he and Mirage had trawled through each new agent's personnel data files to ensure that none of them had any form of Decepticon sympathies that could very well put the unit at risk of ambush or deactivation. And yet the saboteur couldn't help but wonder whether they had missed something important.

"So what's th' game plan?" Jazz inquired as he accessed his diagnostics systems and couldn't help but grimace internally, he was certainly going to be spending a few orns in Ratchet's good graces much to his chagrin. But that wouldn't stop him from entrusting Mirage to launch a full scale investigation into the rest of the recruits whilst he was cooped up in the med-bay; after all they couldn't afford to allow Megatron to destroy the Autobots from within with his own sleeper agents.

"First of all you need to rest and gather your strength back, the success of our escape relies upon you being able to move under your own power." Prowl responded as he placed his rifle upon the floor in front of him before leaning back against the wall behind him. He drew up one leg and rested an elbow joint upon it as he scrutinised his lover, he took note that saboteur's condition seemed to be improving just a little in comparison to just over a little more than a joor ago.

"And then?" The head of special ops asked as he gave the tactician a sidelong glance "I assume you have a plan ta get out of here?" The silver mech watched as a look of offence crossed the normally neutral face plates of the chief tactical officer before Prowl levelled him with a light glare at the mere suggestion that the tactician wasn't already one step ahead of him with a workable plan tucked safely away in his processor. A small chuckle escaped the saboteur as he held both clawed hands up in a placating manner "'course ya do, gonna let any of us in on it?"

Prowl's gaze fell upon Quicksilver as he nervously shuffled upon his feet before moving towards the steps near the back of the building, the tactician did however send a small data packet across a secure line to the others with a small note attached to it requesting that it not be opened until he said so "Not yet."

Jazz briefly scanned the outline of the plan enclosed in the data packet then stored it behind a secure firewall; after all Soundwave was still out there amongst the ruins, although the saboteur was beginning to suspect that the communications specialist wasn't the one running the jamming signal which was preventing them calling for back-up "Well ya better think of somethin' fast, ya might not of noticed but we still have 'cons out there circlin' like turbo-vultures."

A small almost barely there smile graced the tactician's lip components as he regarded his lover "I have not forgotten."

::Now we just need ta wait am I right?:: Jazz inquired on a secured bandwidth.

::Now we wait.:: The black and white mech responded as he rested his helm upon the wall behind him, he watched as the storm outside of their small temporary haven increased in its ferocity before he allowed his cerulean gaze to fall upon the silver form slumped against the wall across from him 'And pray that we all get out of here in one piece, we've lost too many already.' Suddenly movement to Prowl's right attracted the tactician's attention as he observed Quicksilver remove a small device from sub-space and move with more determination toward the stairwell which was half covered in debris, immediately his battle computer began drawing up probabilities and scenarios at the agent's strange behaviour. The black and white mech glanced across to Jazz and knew instantly that the saboteur had spotted Quicksilver's movements, however before either of them could move from their positions, the purple and silver mech threw the small device into the centre of the room, scrambled over the debris and fled up the flight of stairs.

"Take cover!" Prowl shouted over the loud beeping as he scrambled to his peds and attempted to flee the room with the others as they responded to his command. But it seemed that Quicksilver had anticipated their response and set the timer for nothing more than a few astro-seconds as the beeping was swiftly followed by a concussive force of blue energy that sent each of them sprawling across the soot covered floor and into the blackness of unconsciousness.

A/N: * - I've likened these to the dog tags worn by the military.

Wow where have I been?! Sorry to all my readers for my absence but Real Life certainly dug its claws in tight and took me on one hell of a roller-coaster ride for a while, but now I'm hoping to get back into the game of writing fan-fics again.

Review please!