Thanks to all those who reviewed, added this to their favourites and placed this story on their alert list, you have made this author very happy! Sorry it took way too long to update! Real Life sunk it's claws in and refused to let go.
Warnings: Use of Profanities, Mentions of Hacking
Time measurements: Breem (minute), Joor (hour), Orn (day), Cycle (week), Mega-cycle (month), vorn (year), stellar-cycle (century)
'Blah' – thoughts
::Blah:: - Radio Communication
Rain drummed against reinforced plasma blast glass in a loud crescendo whilst lightning flashed threateningly across the dark blood red sky, thunder rumbled overhead in different pitches and aggression as the approaching storm increased in ferocity. Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots and carrier of the sacred Matrix of Leadership, stood beside one of the many view ports in the hallway one level below the Command Centre which overlooked the city of Iacon. The large red and blue mech shifted upon his peds as he folded his arms across his chest plates and allowed a soft sigh to escape his intakes. It had been nearly an orn after his chief tactical officer and his team had left head-quarters, and nearly two orns since his chief of special operations and his team had failed to report in with their end of cycle progress report.
Optimus had been against the idea initially of allowing his second Lieutenant to head out into neutral territory for two full cycles with nothing more than a dozen new special operations recruits as back up, however Jazz had simply argued that the only way he could better hone their skills was out in the field; that and he had been pretty sure by the end of a single orn Red Alert would have been fritzing and Ratchet would be looking for him to personally reformat if they had stayed. The Prime had granted the saboteur permission to leave Iacon but only on the concession that the silver mech remain in radio contact at all times and request back up should he notice anything out of the ordinary. As usual Jazz had flashed him one of his grins which was usually a precursor to mischief and mayhem being unleashed upon an unsuspecting mech before he headed out of the door gathering his team as he went.
The Autobot leader shifted restlessly upon his peds as he briefly glanced down at the training grounds that stood before the complex which served as central command, he could just barely make out one or two mechs rush across the the grounds before they disappeared out of sight. A small part of Optimus wanted to see both teams return safely despite the raging storm outside, however the high percentages of capture or termination of Jazz's team which Prowl had presented to him before he had left, continued to inform him that the probability of them returning safely were incredibly slim. The Prime had initially declined his chief tactical officer's proposal that he lead the search and rescue team; after all if Megatron had already captured his chief of special operations, the Autobot leader would be essentially handing the Decepticon tyrant a large and significant advantage by allowing Prowl to go out there and be captured too. Ultra Magnus had suggested sending the Wreckers which Optimus was more willing to accept as a better option, however Prowl was quick to argue that by sending the Wreckers could potentially get Jazz and his team killed.
The Prime vented a large sigh out of his intakes, his first Lieutenant could be a difficult mech to reason with much of the time, and so the Autobot Leader had come up with a compromise that he would allow the tactician into the field as long as a small contingent of Wreckers went with him. Optimus was also willing to be lenient in regards as to who Prowl picked since he was aware that assigning Springer to the tactician would simply cause more problems as he understood that the pair didn't see optic to optic, he knew much of the animosity was caused by the fact that the Wreckers operated outside of the normal protocols that governed the Autobots. His first Lieutenant had reluctantly agreed to the terms before heading out with his selected team, leaving the Prime with the potential thoughts that neither of his Lieutenants were going to return home and that he would have no choice but to order Red Alert to change the command codes to their hub network and central mainframe.
The Autobot leader was drawn out of his thoughts when he heard the familiar heavy tread of a mech he knew all too well, he dragged his gaze away from the view port and glanced down the hallway to see the blue and white frame of Ultra Magnus making his way to him. Optimus offered his close friend a small smile although it quickly disappeared when he noticed the perturbed expression upon the supreme commander's facial plates.
"I thought I might find you down here." Ultra Magnus said as he stood beside his leader and close friend.
"Has there been any news?" The Prime inquired as he turned his attention to the view port again, the storm was still growing in intensity which the Autobot leader knew would delay the rescue team that were out looking for Jazz and his recruits.
"No and we appear to have lost contact with Prowl's team as well." The supreme commander responded "Blaster believes that there might be a jamming signal in the area."
Optimus shuttered his optics and allowed his arms to drop down next to his sides, a barely vented 'oh no' escaped him as he turned from the view port. This was the particular reason why he didn't want any of his officers leaving the safe confines of the complex, the Decepticons had up until recently began using dirty tactics and conducting numerous raids which had placed the entire Autobot army on high alert. The Prime was beginning to regret not being a little more steadfast in his choice about letting Jazz out of Iacon; after all they had several training rooms a few levels down that his third in command could have utilised for his purposes instead.
"I've already assembled another team to head out in the next ten breams, I believe now is not the time for discrepancy with both of your Lieutenants missing." Ultra Magnus told his commanding officer somewhat sharply, the large blue and white mech was still feeling slightly bitter after Prowl had vetoed the idea of sending the Wreckers, and yet it seemed that those same mechs would be heading out to rescue both teams.
Optimus glanced at his close friend and met his expectant gaze "Go." The supreme commander dipped his helm in acknowledgement before turning full about and striding down the hallway leaving the Prime in the company of his thoughts once again. The Autobot leader contemplated putting both of his officers under house arrest when they returned and whilst he knew that idea wouldn't have much of an impact on Prowl, Jazz on the other servo would have no choice but to delegate his own field work to his sub-ordinates. Although Optimus knew keeping the saboteur behind a desk rather than letting him back out into the field would without a doubt produce boredom and dangerous behaviour which would place the base on high alert, have Red Alert fritzing with paranoia and Ratchet threatening bodily harm if he did. The Prime vented a sigh out of his intakes and pinched the bridge of his olfactory sensors with his thumb and index finger when a wave of weariness finally settled itself at the forefront of his processor, although it was quickly chased away when someone pinged his comm. link.
"Prime here." He responded.
::Sir could you report to your office, there's something you need to know.:: Came Mirage's voice much to the Autobot leader's surprise as he was certain that the spy was currently in the med-bay recuperating from his injuries.
"I'm on my way." Optimus told him before he shut off the comm. link and began heading in the direction of his office, he could feel the sense of foreboding that something wasn't quite right as he made his way through the interconnecting corridors as quickly as he possibly could. Finally the Prime reached his office and palmed the pad on the wall although before Optimus stepped through the doors, his audio receptors picked up the familiar voice of his chief medical officer who appeared to be in a middle of a rant.
"... Stupid, glitched, good for nothing special ops agents who think they know everything, wait until I get my servos on him, he'll regret leaving my med-bay before I give him permission to do so …. yes you, you fragger."
Optimus turned to see Mirage waiting upon the other side of the doors with a look of indifference upon his facial plates despite the fact Ratchet was threatening harm to his frame, the Prime spotted a swift movement from the corner of his optics as Ratchet reached into his sub-space and drew out one of his many wrenches. The Autobot leader knew he had to act quickly before the CMO could render the spy unconscious and delay whatever information the blue and white mech found he needed to share with his Commander.
"Ratchet I'm sure that Mirage has a very good explanation as to his discharge against medical advice." Optimus levelled a reprimanding look at the spy however the blue and white mech appeared unfazed, in fact he only seemed to grow more anxious as he shifted much of his weight onto his good leg.
"Sir you have to recall all teams from the field now including Jazz's, our security has been compromised." Mirage told his leader as the large red and blue mech stepped round his desk and sat down in his chair.
"What?" Ratchet demanded "how the frag would … oh stupid of course, you've been in the fragging hub network instead of focusing your attention upon recovering."
The spy scowled at the chief medical officer and folded his arms across his chest plates "If I hadn't then that information upon this data-pad would have either been erased or lost in the network, and right now I believe the breach in our security and the potential loss of my team leader is far more important than my recovery and the breach of protocol."
The chartreuse mech opened his mouth plates with the intention to argue however Optimus beat him to it "We've currently lost all communication with both Jazz and Prowl's teams …." The Prime noticed the minute stiffening of the spy's frame at that piece of information, it appeared that the blue and white mech had not been privy to the knowledge about Prowl and Jazz despite his unauthorised intrusion into the hub; something he was going to bring up with the saboteur when he returned.
"When?" Mirage inquired with a tint of concern in the tone of his voice.
"We lost contact with Jazz nearly two orns ago, and it's been several joors since Prowl last reported in." The Autobot leader informed the injured spy.
"Frag." Mirage cursed as he briefly shuttered his optics as the information sunk in before he glanced up at his leader again "Sir I believe Jazz had every reason to suspect and investigate the new recruits .. I suspect he was looking for this Decepticon agent." The blue and white mech handed the data-pad he had been holding over to Optimus who took it with slight hesitation.
The Prime on-lined the pad and was instantly greeted with the profile of the mech in question, he was one of the new recruits Jazz had selected from the group of neutrals they had rescued a few mega-cycles ago. The Autobot leader scrolled through the next few pages and felt his anger rising at what he saw as upon the screen were numerous communications between the covert agent and the Decepticon's Second in Command Starscream. The mech had relayed several critical pieces of intelligence to Starscream which explained how they had known when to hit their outposts and where to deliver the maximum amount of damage, no doubt the Seeker was looking to earn extra credit in order to get back into Megatron's good graces after his recent failures to secure a victory over them. Unless Megatron himself had ordered the assassinations to be carried out and had 'requested' that Starscream make the call to their undercover agent and relay his orders.
Optimus had to admit there had been suspicions amongst the command staff as to where their Intel. was being leaked since it seemed unlikely that the Decepticons were able to predict their every move or know their weaknesses, and now he knew where exactly Megatron had been getting his information from; their own fragging intelligence department! It explained now why Jazz had been on edge the few orns before he had left and why the saboteur had been so persistent that he and the new recruits leave Iacon so he could flush out the traitors without causing collateral damage. However that was not all which nearly had the Prime's on board weaponry activating, or throwing all proverbial sense out of the nearest view port and leading an attack on Megatron right then.
Within several of the communications logs, there were instructions to severely incapacitate or even assassinate both Prowl and Jazz, an unforeseen move the Decepticon leader had never attempted before; after all he had a tendency to attack their transports and outposts in hope of weakening the Autobot army. However this change in tactics showed that the Decepticon leader was now changing his game plan by targeting the two individuals who kept poking holes in his normally sound strategies. The Autobot leader knew it would only be a matter of time before Megatron launched a full scale attack on Iacon to reach the Allspark which was hidden deep within it's vaults; a time he knew was rapidly approaching, the question was: would they be ready?
"That's not all." The spy continued as he stepped closer to the desk "whilst I was in the hub network, I discovered several virus' that Red Alert will need to quarantine and purge from the mainframe immediately before they begin to interfere with normal operations."
"Just what the hell is going on?" Ratchet demanded as be glanced between the Prime and the special ops agent. The CMO had heard rumours amongst the other members of the senior staff about the change in behaviour in their leader and his two Lieutenants, however the chartreuse mech had simply written it off as too much work and not enough recharge. In fact he had been close to assigning them all some down time, but now he was starting to understand that it wasn't enforced R'n'R they needed (although it certainly wouldn't do the three any harm), it was the answers they required to the mystery of whatever was going on in their ranks.
Optimus vented a heavy sigh out of his intakes as he briefly glanced down at the data-pad in his hand "It would seem that Megatron has finally grown weary of his usual tactics failing, and therefore has decided to strike at us from within Ratchet."
The CMO clenched both of his fists tightly as anger began to seep into his frame "And you didn't think to involve the rest of us?" The chartreuse mech cast Mirage a glare only to receive a frown in return.
"When Jazz first brought the issue to me that he suspected Intel. was being leaked to the Decepticons through the neutrals we had rescued, Prowl and I thought it would be best to keep the investigation low profile as not to tip off the suspects." The Prime explained as he slouched back in his seat, his grip tightened fractionally upon the pad as the thought that maybe they had made a mistake with not involving the rest of the command staff especially now that he was faced with the probability of losing both of his Lieutenants "In fact we had just narrowed the list down to several individuals when Jazz requested to leave Iacon."
Ratchet couldn't help but frown at that as although it was not unheard of for the saboteur to be off base, it did seem a little odd for him to leave rather quickly "Why the frag would he do that?"
Mirage shifted a little uneasily upon his peds which quickly attracted the attention of the CMO "Special operations don't follow the Autobot code when it comes to information gathering Ratchet."
The Chartreuse mech's frame stiffened as realisation sunk in "You force download mech's against their will?!" Ratchet shot his leader a dark look "and you permit this?"
Optimus opened his mouth plates with the intention to defend himself against the accusation made by his CMO, no he didn't agree with force hacking another individual and had made it abundantly clear to Jazz that no such thing was permitted even if their victim was a Decepticon; after all it went against their ethics and morals as Autobots. The Prime however had made one exception to the rule that only deactivated Decepticons could be hacked, although he certainly wasn't permitting that Special Operations go out of their way executing the enemy when there were other means to obtaining information. The Autobot leader was about to explain this to his old friend but it was the spy who answered for him:
"It only becomes forced when it's the enemy and ninety eight percent of the time the individual has been deactivated before we even hack their systems." The blue and white mech told him.
"So I suppose Jazz is going to murder each of those recruits just so he can find this singular traitor, least he leave several young mech's traumatised once he's done with them." The chartreuse mech retorted, he understood that much of what special operations did was kept under the radar, and now he knew why as he was certain that if knowledge of what they got up to was leaked into the wider population, there would be mass panic and serious trust issues. The CMO had seen the aftermath of a special ops agent who had been subjected to hacking by the Decepticons on several occasions, and it was such occasions that he never wanted to experience again.
The Prime frowned "Ratchet I have instructed Jazz to use the up most discretion during this investigation into his team that includes information gathering through respectable means, least word of this betrayal and special operations activities spreads to the rest of the army, that is why ..." The Autobot leader pushed himself up to stand on his peds as he regarded his CMO "... only a select few were to know what was happening as we were concerned about how this threat would be perceived."
"And when those young recruits are either reported dead or end up being submitted for psychological evaluation due to the trauma they've faced?" The chartreuse mech inquired as he folded his arms across his chest plates.
"Training accident and Jazz will ensure that any memories of his tampering will be deleted." Mirage responded succinctly.
Ratchet frowned at the spy's delivery of those simple words as they seemed cold and unsettling, however before he could make a remark regarding the blue and white mech's cold sparked demeanour, Optimus spoke up:
"I'm sorry that you were kept in the dark about this Ratchet, but right now there are several issues that must be addressed. Mirage, you and I will head to the security hub and brief Red Alert on your findings, I believe it would be best if I were there to help soften the blow." The spy dipped his helm in acknowledgement before taking the data-pad with all of his findings on it from his leader "Ratchet I believe it would be advisable to have the repair bay prepared and your medical staff on stand-by for potential wounded."
"Understood Prime." The Chartreuse mech responded, he turned quickly and headed towards the doors however rather than step through them when they slid open, Ratchet glanced over his right shoulder and his azure gaze fell upon the weary frame of the Autobot leader "I truly hope this plan of yours succeeds Optimus as not only are there several invaluable lives at stake, but the entire safety and security of this base and our remaining outposts will be compromised."
The large blue and red mech watched Ratchet leave his office before he allowed a heavy sigh to escape his intakes once the doors slid shut. The words spoken by his CMO cut a little deep as Optimus was all too aware of the lives that were at stake, but he also understood the sense of deception and lack of trust his old friend had to be feeling especially since he was one of Prime's two confidants. However the Autobot leader knew deep down that it had been necessary to keep this as quiet as possible in order to keep certain individuals safe, and the Autobot army ignorant of the fact they had been betrayed by their own special operations department who in turn had also been deceived by one of their agents. Optimus knew he would be in for a lecture from both Ratchet and Ironhide once all of this had been resolved, speaking of said weapons specialist, the Prime knew he was currently in command since he was currently on light duty much to his disgruntlement. The Autobot leader glanced at Mirage briefly before activating his .
::Prime to Ironhide.::
::Ironhide here.:: Came the gruff response from the weapons specialist.
::I need you to recall all patrols and raise the alert status of the base from yellow to red, also have Blaster contact each of our current outposts and instruct them also to change their condition alerts to stand-by, new Intel. suggests we could be facing an attack.:: Optimus told the black mech as he and Mirage stepped out of his office and began heading in the direction of the security hub.
::This wouldn't have somethin' to do with the loss of communications with Prowl and Jazz's teams, an' now Ultra Magnus leaving the base would it?:: Ironhide inquired with a hint of suspicion in the tone of his voice.
::You have my orders.:: The Prime informed his weapons specialist.
::Yes sir.:: Ironhide responded somewhat reluctantly before ending the .
Within seconds of the call ending, the alert klaxon sounded throughout the base and the bright illumination in the interconnecting corridors dimmed to be replaced by the all too familiar red glow. Almost immediately Red Alert was pinging his and demanding to know what was going on and why the base's alert status had been changed without his knowledge, however Optimus simply told him he would explain the moment he reached his Chief of Security's office before abruptly ending the call from Red Alert. The Prime just hoped, as he and Mirage stepped through the large blast doors to the security hub, that they weren't too late in preventing any significant damage to their main-frame or about to lose one of their so few outposts they had left. The Autobot leader also sent a small prayer to their deity Primus that the three teams who were either currently stuck in neutral territory or heading that way returned back to base safely.