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Don't You Know

Chapter Text

Glowing red puddles accumulate in the depressions of Kaonite streets, disturbed in ripples by the acid rain that fell from above. Heavy drops rain down upon the metal city, filling the rare silence that adorns it. Acid storms are few and far in between, lasting on average an orn or two, yet highly damaging to a Cybertronian unfortunate enough to get caught in it. Not a single bot dares to be out in this kind of weather.

Except one.

This one has business to attend to, and this is prime time for such business, it must not be wasted. It is not that he has the armor to withstand the burning rain, oh no. He just knows how to maneuver around the open areas, using the shadows and overhangs of the buildings around him to keep away from the acid rain. Call it a detour.

His crimson visor blends into the red haze of the storm, barely any brighter than the small droplets that fell from the sky. His dark gray paint is indistinguishable from the darkness he hides himself in, a metallic glint being the sole indicator that a mech is lurking in the shadows.

Kaon is never a bright city, especially after the removal of the smelting pools, which had cast a great enough glow to reach the sky. Now, it is dark. Faint glows in the streets from bars and shops serving as the only light, now dimmer from the inactivity. The rain is making the streets scarlet red as it went on, providing a harsh atmospheric perspective to the city.

The mech pauses, servo bracing against the wall as he peers out into the streets that highly contrasts his home city-state, Polyhex. He misses it all. The bright, bustling streets full of mechs all around. The silver buildings that reach to the stars above, the antenna upon them stretching further up. The music that played all throughout the orn and beyond.

Of course, that was decavorns ago. Polyhex is nothing but a province run by a mech named Straxus, using Darkmount and its smelting pool as a way to induce fear and thus control the bots who have the misfortune of living there.

This mech is no fool. When rumor had it that the Lord High Governor was coming to power, he was long gone. Though he misses the musical talent that radiated from the city, it is better to have left that toxic province before he was caught up in the mess. No doubt would he have been dropped in the Dead End.

Shaking himself from his thoughts, he continues onward through Kaon, careful not to expose himself to the pounding rain barely a step away.

The mech approaches a large housing unit complex and sneers. How anyone can feel safe enough to find a home here is beyond him. This is Kaon, no mech recharges soundly here. They live in this city burdened with the constant paranoia and mistrust born from the merciless streets. It is rare to find a bot who doesn't know how to defend themselves because one could not live in Kaon with the expectation of peace.

He stands at the bottom of the outdated fire escape, a calculated gaze fixed on the metal structure. Crouching down, the mech prepares to jump up like a spring, claws flexing. He pushes himself from the ground, not making one sound as he reaches up and grabs onto the railing. The acid rain drowns out any noise that is made when he hefts himself up, immediately ducking down to avoid windows.

The rain stings against his plating and open seams, his armor clamping down against his protoform to protect himself better.

He won't be in the rain for long, traveling up the escape to the third story and placing his claws on the designated window. He observes the rusted lock, scoffing at how easy this is. He breaks the lock and pushes the window open, slipping inside.

For dramatic effect - and Primus, does he like to toy with his victims - he leaves the window open, welcoming the loud sound of the rain outside. He doesn't shake himself of the harmful glowing red liquid, letting it trickle and drop from his frame.

He immediately takes note of his surroundings, since it had been harder to see from the outside. A fool's mistake is having a berthroom with an insecure window. It's no wonder mechs constantly offline here.

Or maybe that's just him, the mech smirks.

A gasp breaks him out of his thoughts, and in a nanosecond, his dagger is out and aiming towards the muted blue, average - if not a little scrawny - sized mech with red-orange optics blown wide. He freezes just a few steps into the doorway, mouth agape.

“Please…” The mech sputters, his whisper barely heard over the rain.

The gray mech pauses, taken aback before he lets out a sharp bark of laughter, throwing his helm back. The way his shoulders moves as he huffs out his amusement, looking like he was relaxed, only serves to make the other bot tense up even more, armor clamped tight against his protoform. The gray mech flares his armor in response, intimidating the poor bot further. He chuckles lowly, speaking in a heavy Polyhexian accent, “Mech, Ah ain't even talkin’ yet.”

“What do you want?” He starts shaking, optics watching him carefully. He doesn't know what is spooking the mech more, the fact that he is a complete stranger standing in his berthroom which is a definite sign that he is going to be offlined, or the fact that he is dripping in acid rain with complete indifference.

He begins to pace, twirling the dagger in his digits, the remaining acid running down his arm, “Well, Gearshift,” He pauses, side-eyeing him, “Or should Ah call ya ‘Striker?’ That is what they call ya in the pits, right?”

The mech, Gearshift, chokes on a vent, “How-?”

“Ya sent three sparklin’s to the pits last orn.” The mech cuts off before he can say anything more. “Ah us’lly resort to punishin’ the mech responsible for that.”

He turns his gaze out to the open window. Countless Cybertronians throw others into the pit, looking for credits or a chance at fame. Striker, had done it for the latter. He wants his name known. By smuggling sparklings into the pits, they began depending on him to provide.

Many have lost their creations because of this. The pit traffickers would strike most in the marketplace, right at the busiest time of the orn. Sparklings could not be left alone or unwatched, or else their creators will lose them. The sparklings are sent off straight to the pits, where they would endure harsh labor and abuse. Bots had trafficked and trapped sparklings in the pits, torturing them for their own sick pleasure. It is a disgusting process.

The blue mech takes a step back. “What are you going to do to me?”

“Do ya know who Ah am, Gearshift?” He asks, completely disregarding the question. When the mech doesn't answer, he glances over from the window. “No?” He dramatically slumps his shoulders and cocks his helm, “C’mon! Just take a guess.”

“I don't know you,” Gearshift struggles to get out, shaking his helm a little.

“Ah, c’mon! O’ course ya do!” He had thrown his arms up before leaning in. Even though he is across the room, it seems that he has gotten really close. “Ya know my name, but ya don't know what I look like. No bot does.”

Again he shakes his helm, mouthing “no,” too afraid to speak.

“Ev’rybot knows me. Remember the sparklin’ stories ya were told? Don't the visor jog ya mem’ry?”

The mech watches with cruel satisfaction as the realization hit and horror pours onto his face.

“Ah- yes, there it is,” the gray mech grins, “Ya know.”

“Meister…” Gearshift gasps.

“In the mesh.” He bumps a fist against his chestplates. The blue bot starts backing up, servo reaching up to touch the doorframe to find his way. Meister holds up a servo, effectively stopping him, "Now listen here, mech, n' Ah’m gonna be straight witcha. Ya ain't walkin' outta here online."

Gearshift swallows heavily, trying to be subtle with his optics darting around, looking for an escape. He knows he has none. No bot looks Meister in his visor and lives to tell the tale.

The gray mech feigns an examination of his claws, curling them and stretching them out to see them at different angles. He waits patiently until his victim stops anxiously shifting around in the doorway. After a couple kliks, he vents loudly, "Ya just gonna keep squirmin' like that, mech? Primus, and Ah thought ya'd be this big bad bot workin' for the pits." He holds up his servos for emphasis, quite possibly scaring Gearshift further with the way his dagger is angled. He takes note of this and glances at his weapon, then back to the mech, "What? Ya scared of this?"

He did not respond. Good choice.

Meister notes how the mech is leaning to the side a bit, tensed up and ready to make a break for it. In an optic shutter, the dagger is lodged in the blue mech's neck, who barely even had the chance to start turning towards the exit. He cries out in pain and surprise, falling to his knees.

The red visored mech stomps up, viciously grabbing hold of the dagger to keep it from dislodging. He had thrown the dagger in the junction of the neck and collar, purposely missing the spots that could offline him. Kneeling, Meister yanks the mech up to his face, making him whimper, "Ya thought ya could get away from me? Mech," he laughs, "It ain't that easy."

"Please..." His engine whines, Meister revs his in response.

"Oh, ya think that's gonna stop me?" He snatches out another dagger, shoving it in just under the chestplates, the weapon just short of reaching the spark chamber. Energon began seeping out of the wounds. "A lil please and thank ya? Tch, that ain't gonna save ya this time, Striker." Meister takes the dagger in the chestplates and yanks it, making sure to break more lines coming out than going in. Energon spurts out of the wound, coating the gray mech's servo. His smile widens with sick satisfaction of spilling the precious glowing blue liquid.

Gearshift wails, a major cable torn and leaking profusely.

Meister sneers at the pitiful sight, the mech no longer able to hold himself up, fully supported by his attacker, who is at least expecting some sort of defense, but the coward chose flight over fight. In his helm, he pouts, flight isn't as fun when the prey couldn't even flee in the first place.

"Those sparklin's didn't have the choice..." Having enough, finally fed up with the constant whispered pleas that slipped out of his victim's mouth, Meister jerks the dagger in Gearshift's neck, slitting it across his throat. It rips the numerous important cables there, energon immediately gushing out. The red visored mech holds him there for a klik, watching as the bot chokes on his own life fluid, his optics flickering.

He let the offlining mech drop, energon sputtering out of his mouth, and stands. He casually strolls over to where he can see a polish rag, wiping his blades on it and keeping the fallen mech in his peripheral vision. Once he is done, he subspaces his daggers with an easy flick of the wrist into his forearm.

Meister returns, sifts through the injured mech's subspace and steps away, heading to the window. Gearshift is left to leak to deactivation, unable to move. He looks back and, over the rain, says, "...And ya won't either."

He jumps out the open window and into the acid rain, intent on quickly making his way into the shadows.

Energon stained servos grips onto the railing, throwing himself over and down three stories. He lands on the wet ground below, rolling to absorb his landing. Yes, he is now soaked in acid rain that threatens to short his circuits, but as soon as he has shelter, he will be fine.

Kaon has known Meister for decavorns, all taught from sparklinghood to fear the urban legend. As bots grew up, they either stop believing in the tales, never grow out of their fear, or function only to prove Meister's existence. Some went as far as self proclaiming themselves to be better, and called Meister a coward for never showing his face, that he never participates in the infamous gladiatorial pits.

Least to say, those mechs didn't function for much longer.

The red visored myth easily put a stop to these arrogant bots, because no bot was better than he, and he makes sure it is clear.

From the shadows, he frowns up at the window of the housing unit he was just in. He is never able to stop mechs from doing what they do, but he can make them pay, and every Cybertronian around will know it was him.

He’s been quiet for a whole vorn, but now he’s back to bring pit to Kaon.

Chapter Text

To the average Cybertronian, Praxus is a quiet city-state. Peaceful even.

The tourists that come here are for the beautiful visuals offered by the Helix Gardens, but to the natives, they find more in their crystals than meets the optic.

With their additional sensors, more advanced than other flightless Cybertronians, they can pick up small vibrations and sounds from these crystals and use them to create art and their own style of music.

Some crystals are tuned to a low pitch, while others may be ringing or trilling.

The Helix Gardens lie in the very spark of the city-state with the beyond elegant crystals giving off the most powerful low hum in all of Praxus. The natives of the city-state take great comfort in feeling the vibrations run through the ground, a sensation that cannot be replicated. Because of this, the center of the city consists mostly of residential buildings, while business and office buildings are farther out.

It is rare to find a doorwinged Praxian outside of their city-state. No other place on Cybertron has their treasured garden.

Not only do the crystals have a comforting resonance, they cast a strong glow upon the city. Every building is designed to reflect the glow all throughout Praxus, ranging from frost blues to soft pinks to compliment the light.

In the early joors of the orn when the dual moons of Cybertron set, lights from housing units and small businesses are appearing on the street, adding to the glow of the crystals in multiple hues.

A few Praxians begin their orn at this time, such as the black and white mech leaving the apartment complex he resides in. His doorwings are held high, showing no signs of lack of recharge he may have.

He turns his helm to the right out of habit, just to see the edge of the Helix Gardens down the street. He will be able to have a full view of the Gardens once he starts driving, but the view from the entrance of the apartment complex is just as breathtaking. Besides, he cannot let himself be distracted while driving.

His sire should be at the Gardens now, tending to the high maintenance crystals.

Stepping into the lot of the apartment complex, the Praxian transforms into his sturdy enforcer alt. mode and lets his engine warm up for a couple nanoseconds before pulling out onto the empty street.

It is an easy and quick drive to the local precinct. He passes through only three traffic lights, all green due to the lack of other bots on the street.

The station is quiet when the black and white mech enters, only a few are sitting at their respective desks, offering a quiet greeting with the flick of their doorwings or a nod.

“Detective Prowl! Great, you’re here.” Voltline calls out as the Praxian walks further in. He waves a servo towards the door to his office. “Come with me.”

The black and white mech follows him, the lieutenant opening the door and closing it after Prowl. His superior’s office is basic, but has been personalized with a few family images displayed holographically. Keeping his doorwings respectfully at bay, Prowl politely asks, “Yes, sir?”

“We’re placing you on a case in Kaon. Iacon can't spare any of their detectives, so you're our next best bet.” He explains as he rounds his desk.

The Praxian nods, "If you do not mind me asking," he waited for the signal to continue, "What is in Kaon?"

“Take a look for yourself. This is from late last orn.” The lieutenant slides a datapad across his desk for Prowl to pick up.

He accepts the device and powers it on, accessing the first file. An ID image of a mech with orange optics greets him; Gearshift, a merchant in Kaon. A swipe left reveals the next photo, and Prowl studies the gruesome picture. There in a berthroom is Gearshift, a pool of energon underneath him with a perfectly angled cut on his neck cables, along with a gash under his chestplates. The offline optics of the mech are blown wide in permanent disbelief.

The rest of the images reveal energon smeared in various places among the room, and a polish rag left on the floor, soaked in the blue life fluid as well.

Prowl recognizes this scene. Not Gearshift specifically, these images were taken recently, but the MO. It had been during his training to become a detective, the Enforcers Academy used this exact situation as an example when teaching about modus operandi.

The Praxian turns his gaze towards Voltline, finding the lieutenant has been waiting for him to figure out whose MO this is. The blue mech nods, his expression grim. Prowl returns his focus back to the datapad in his servo and shutters his optics. “This is… quite unexpected.”

“I’ll say! We thought the mech was gone for good,” Voltline says, then shakes his helm. “I suppose it’s never that simple when it comes to Meister.”

He silently agrees with the lieutenant. Meister would make a kill a few times per decaorn, and had been for decavorns, even before Prowl emerged. Then a vorn ago, he stopped and hadn’t announced his return until now.

Sparkling stories blow the serial killer way out of proportion, scaring sparklings into never talking bad about him and starting up foolish games to summon him. Of course, they never work. Meister mainly runs about in Kaon, rarely traveling outside the city-state.

It has never been clear to Prowl whether or not the serial killer is a myth. It always has the Praxian questioning his existence, because Meister does not have a face to his name. Not a single Cybertronian has seen him. Stories strongly rumor he has a red visor, they do not specify shape or size. His height, build and paint color are unknown.

Everybot knows, if one knew what Meister truly looks like, they were offline in less than three shakes of a petrohound's tail.

Prowl finds the evidence for Meister’s existence to be too sporadic. There isn’t solid proof for the damn mech.

This leads to Prowl feeling inclined to agree with the bots who theorize Meister is not an individual, but a name for a group of killers. How could one mech possibly keep up with his strict schedule offlining mechs left and right, while stalking his next victim? How can he possibly do this all the while keeping himself hidden? Just how much preparation does this one mech have to go through for each deactivation?

Prowl knows the weight of taking on this delicate case, seeing the stamps on the cover of the case. He will be monitored by the High Council and the Prime himself while investigating. He is being trusted to find this mech - or mechs - and bring him down.

Ways to tackle this case immediately spring forward in his advanced processors, but he has to pause the calculations for the time being. He has not taken in all the necessary information, it is pointless to try and run possibilities without the known variables.

“When will I be sent to Kaon?” Prowl lowers the datapad, effectively cutting off any thought process in the making.

“Hopefully by the first transit next orn, if that works for you,” Voltline says apologetically, “I know you like to have a couple decaorns notice.”

Prowl nods. “I understand.” His doorwings flick, “May I spend the rest of the orn preparing?”

“Of course. You may leave the station of your own accord.” The lieutenant brings out another datapad and hands it to Prowl. "You will need to fill this out and return it to me before you leave. We are letting you construct your own team from this list for the investigation and they should be ready by the time you get there."

The detective accepts and acknowledges, tucking the datapad into subspace.

He waits patiently to be dismissed from the lieutenant’s office, said lieutenant did so with a smile and the bounce of his own doorwings. “Good orn, Prowl.”

“Good orn to you, Lieutenant Voltline.” Prowl bows his helm and flicks his wings in acceptance,taking his leave from the office. The enforcers present look up from their work expectantly, curious of what happened behind the office door.

"Tumbler," Prowl calls out to his partner, who is sitting at the desk next to his. He nods, "Kaon needs me for a case, I will be leaving next orn."

"Gotcha," the white and orange mech dips his helm, then looks at the stack of datapads on Prowl's desk that will now become his work. He vents, then slides the pile onto his desk.

Amusement washes over Prowl for a nanosecond before it fades. He has to return to his housing unit to prepare and tell his brothers of his departure.

He is the middle child of his family, having one older brother and one younger.

Due to their creators’ occupations - their sire a Helix Gardens caretaker and carrier an enforcer - the two older brothers moved in together and became the legal guardians for their youngest brother, who is now entering his youngling vorns. They have joint custody over him, sharing with their creators.

While they all have their respective occupations cramming up their schedule, they always have at least one of them available for watching over the youngest.

Prowl’s older brother should be up by now, preparing the youngest for his education. Hopefully he will be back at his apartment before they leave.

The brief meeting with his lieutenant did not last very long, but transits and bots are up and about when Prowl exits the station. Rush hour has not started yet, and Prowl is given a short drive back to his apartment.

The enforcer transforms, striding back into the building, up the elevator to the second floor where his apartment lies. He sends the command for the door to unlock and open, and he steps through.

It is a standard apartment; a living space that holds a couch and screen, a refueling station with a table nearby, and a hallway that leads to the washracks and berthrooms.

Two more Praxians were sitting at the table, having been chatting with their cubes of energon before he walked in.

"Prowl!" The smallest, his younger brother, smiles from his seat, "Back already?"

Nodding, he starts to make his way to his room, sending the command for the lights to turn on, "I was called in for a case in Kaon."

"What?" The eldest brother cries out from the other room, "That's on the other side of the planet! Don't tell me you're leaving now!"

"Early next orn," Prowl says over his shoulder as he tucks a couple datapads into his subspace. He already has his standard enforcer's weapon and gear. He returns to the main room. "I have this orn off, however. So we may spend it as you like, if you're not busy."

The youngest of the three jumps up, "We should go to the Gardens!"

A smile from the eldest is sent his way from across the table, "You have lessons today."

Bluestreak pouts, slumping in his stool and letting his doorwings drop. He crosses his arms. “We can go see Sire.”

“You shouldn’t abandon your studies,” Prowl says, seating himself on one of the stools. “Besides, we have later today if you wish to visit her.”

 

Bluestreak continues sulking, knowing his older brother is right. He leans forward enough to snatch his cube off the table and hold it up to his mouth with both servos.

“Smokescreen, are you taking him?” The middle brother asks, turning his attention to the mech.

After taking a swig of his cube, he speaks. “Well… you are off…”

Knowing Smokescreen will now try anything to get Prowl to take Bluestreak instead, the black and white mech already gives up. “Alright. I can take him.”

“Really?” Smokescreen sits up straight. “Wow, you’ve never given up that easily before.”

“Last I remember-”

Prowl begins, but is cut off by his brother waving his servo dismissively. “Yeah, yeah. Blue was late because I kept bickering with your logical a-... logic. With your logic.”

The detective shakes his helm. “And that is exactly why I won’t argue with you.” He redirects his attention to his younger brother, ending the conversation with Smokescreen. “Bluestreak, are you ready?”

“Yep!” The youngling places his empty cube on the table, Smokescreen picking it up to take care of it along with his own cube.

“Where is your datapad?” Prowl ushers his brother towards his room. “Go get it please.”

They watch as he runs off, his doorwings bouncing with each step, excited to have Prowl take him for once. Smokescreen is frowning however, staring at Blue's open berthroom door. "You know it's been almost a decaorn since he's seen Sire and Carrier, right?"

"Yes. He will be able to see them soon." Prowl waits patiently for his younger brother to return. "We may be able to visit later this orn like he mentioned."

"Right." The eldest agrees, his doorwings lifting.

Bluestreak comes barreling back into the living space, datapad in servo and eagerly stops before Prowl. "I'm ready!"

The black and white brother nods. "Let us go then."

They leave the apartment and take the stairs to let Bluestreak burn off any excess energy. It is counterproductive to have a riled up sparkling in an educational environment where he will need to focus.

Being on the second floor means that the stairs didn't offer much but it is better than standing in an elevator. Once they exit the apartment complex, Prowl transforms and opens his passenger door for Bluestreak to seat himself in.

The safety belt was secured around the youngling, and Prowl begins driving. It is a short drive, but a little longer than the drive to the station.

While Prowl is focused on the road and his surroundings, Bluestreak is captivated by the sheer beauty of Praxus once more. It never seems to get old for a sparkling.

Even for adults, there is still that fascination. Praxus takes great pride in having this effect, even on its natives.

Prowl will have to relish in the glistening streets and crystals for the remainder of his time in Praxus. He does not know how long he will be in Kaon, a dark and considerably dirty city compared to Praxus.

It is dirty in more ways than one, and Prowl has to remind himself that during his stay there, he has no business with any bot except Meister.

Prowl turns into the Academy’s loop to drop Bluestreak off, offering his farewell to his younger brother.

"Bye, Prowl!" He smiles, then turns away from his brother, walking up the steps to the entrance of the Youth Academy.

One last wave from the youngling and Prowl pulls out of the loop, turning back onto the street.

The way back is a little agonizing, with rush hour hitting and Prowl being an enforcer - albeit off-duty but other drivers did not know that - further slows down the traffic. He is a patient mech however, and can deal with a little extra time getting back to his apartment.

He has not much else to do in his orn anyhow.

Next orn will be busy. He will ride the metro to the other side of the planet, where the time differs. While it will be extremely early in the orn for Praxus when he leaves, it will be a little late in Kaon.

For now, he will return to his apartment and build his team of investigators for the case, hoping Smokescreen won't distract him too much.

Chapter Text

Mechs return to their regular routines once the acid storm let up the next orn. None dare to attempt driving in their alt. modes, the streets still littered with puddles of the red rain.

Meister takes to stalking through the shadows, having washed himself of the drying energon only a few joors prior to Kaon becoming active again. He is heading to the bars that grace the formerly silent city with noise.

He lingers in the darkness, sending a command to darken his red visor to a deep black. He straightens his back, and silently steps out into the street. Bots brush past him with an indifference for the mech, his once powerful and deadly strides effortlessly shifting into a laidback gait.

No longer is he Meister, but an entirely different mech.

He saunters into the bar, intent on spending the credits he stole on the decent high grade served here.

This orn is for finding his next target, but he will worry about that after a couple light drinks.

Only a few bots spare him a glance upon his entry. It is dim in the bar, and smells like warm if not slightly stale high grade. Most mechs are too busy sulking to socialize with strangers, muttering amongst their friends or silently drinking their cubes alone. Being this early in the orn meant the partygoers aren’t around just yet in a bar this small.

“Hey there, Jazz,” the bartender greets, recognizing the gray mech who nods in return and takes a seat at the counter, servos set on the shiny metal surface. He holds up one of his four clawed digits, not saying a word. The bartender leaves him momentarily to fetch him a cube of high grade.

The cube is slid down the counter, Meister now Jazz easily catching it in his servo and lifting it up to his lipplates. High grade isn’t necessarily the best tasting energon depending on the blend and concentration, but it usually has this bitter taste to it and burns as it goes down one’s throat. The gray mech lets himself grimace as he swallows the potent beverage.

He holds the rim of the cube with the tips of his claws, glancing at the screen above the counter. A low class gladiatorial game is on, the two mechs brutally fighting each other with just their fists - having lost their weapons earlier in the fight it seems - having no tactic; didn't go for each other's weak points and hit until the other stops. He snorts, these are amateurs. They won't last more than a game or two, and won't have a chance in the high class games.

His attention shifts from the brawling mechs to the announcer above, excitement in his voice as he narrates the fight. How he gets such enjoyment from this lame battle is beyond Jazz, or maybe he is paid to hype up the audience, who are probably overcharged or high beyond belief and finds anything presented to them entertaining.

“Grit is gonna win this one, wouldn't you say?” A stranger says from beside Jazz. His red paint is pristine, not a single scratch or scuff. His overall design is stylish yet simple, large chest leading down to a narrow waist that accentuates his wider hips. He gestures to the stool next to him, bright red optics on him, “May I?”

Jazz tips his cube, letting him take a seat. The gray mech glances at the game, and back to the stranger, “Which one is Grit? The ugly green one?”

The red mech lets out a short laugh. “Oh, his paint job is ugly alright. Yeah, that one's Grit. Vandal is the pretty black one. A real idiot though.”

“Ya watch these games?” Jazz asks, pointing to the screen.

“Nah, not this one. I'm waiting for the next game. A mech named Breakdown has been killing it in these past few games. Literally.” The red mech smirks, “He's not all that bad looking either. Guess I'm a sucker for brutes.”

Breakdown is not a name Jazz recognizes. Must be a new mech, or he's stayed in the unimportant lowest of the low class games. Up until now, of course.

“The sweet stuff, please,” the red mech says as the bartender approaches. His cube of high grade is retrieved and served to him. After giving a grateful nod, he turns back to the gray mech, and introduces himself. “Knockout.”

“Jazz.” He nods, tapping the side of his cube with Knockout’s.

"Ah, so you're Jazz. You're the talk some late orns." Knockout comments with a smile. They take sips of their high grade, Jazz finishing his. He never gets the sweet kind of high grade that Knockout has ordered, it takes away most of the burn he desires in the strong kind. “Maybe I could meet him, if I become his biggest patron?” Knockout wonders aloud, returning back to the conversation about Breakdown and staring at the screen. His red optics return to Jazz, “You ever become a patron for a gladiator?”

“Nah,” the gray mech slides the empty cube onto the other side of the counter, “Those credits ain’t never go to the mech himself. All goes to his manager.”

Might as well call them owners. Most of the poor mechs forced into the pits are basically slaves to their managers. They are sold into fights, bets, and interface. Some are even used to carry sparklings that will be used to work or fight in the pits. It is absolutely sick.

Jazz denies having his cube refilled with a shake of his helm.

He settles for watching the rest of the game in Knockout's company, the two brawling mechs having taken quite the beating. Their armor dented and energon leaking from all over. Vandal has his life fluid dribbling out of his mouth, nose and right optic. Grit has less damage dealt to his frame, but Vandal has landed a few good hits to his side that he constantly left open.

The two are circling each other, the announcer above babbling on about the suspense. Both are ready to pounce, but neither makes an advancement. The cheers become louder, calls to fight and which should win roaring over the stadium. Neither Grit or Vandal react, focusing entirely on one another and their movements. One wrong twitch, and they'll be fighting again.

The stupid fraggers. All of them. Every single Cybertronian in those pits are slagged in the processor. How many of those mechs have families? How many of them knowingly support the games that indulge in sparkling labor and slavery?

Like any other bot that grew up in Kaon, these mechs do not know any specific fighting techniques, relying only on street fighting and dirty moves. The hits, shoves and grabs like these would never be used in friendly spars.

Pit fighting is brutal, but effective if one knows what they're doing and their opponent doesn't. However, a bot skilled in coordinated attacks and defense can easily take out a street fighter.

The cries of the crowd playing lowly from the speakers brought the gray mech back to see Grit throwing his opponent down onto his back, stunning him. Vandal’s front is now exposed for that short moment, and Grit didn't waste it. He slams his servos on the black chassis, breaking the latches inside, then brutally tears the plating apart, forcing his opponent's chestplates to open and bare the spark chamber. The crowd is roaring with excitement, knowing fully that Vandal has lost.

The horrid green mech shoves his servo in, breaking into the spark’s casing and pulling out the bright glowing sphere of life that is frantically pulsing. Wires strain to stay connected to the orb, resisting getting pulled out. The black mech claws at his servos, trying to stop him from detaching each cable one by one, ultimately falling limp in defeat. Life leaves him from the lack of having his spark, optics fading offline.

Their audience is going wild, screaming for Grit’s victory as he holds up Vandal’s spark and crushes it with a splatter of energon.

Jazz frowns at the screen, when will it be Grit’s turn to lose? There is no way he'll make it to the high class games.

The red mech next to him bumps a fist on the counter. Jazz looks over to see him smiling, switching his gaze from the screen to the gray mech, “Called it.”

He sends him a tight smile, “That ya did.”

“You staying to see the next game?” Knockout questions, taking a leisurely sip from his cube.

“Nah, Ah think it's time for me to head out,” Jazz waves a servo, then gets up from the stool. He leaves a tip on the counter for the bartender and began turning away, “Nice meetin’ ya, Knockout.”

The stylish red mech nods, “You too, Jazz.”

Sparing no glance back at Knockout, he walks out of the bar. His gait remains the same lax stride as before as he heads down the now bustling street. Bots are going about their orn, heading to whatever work they have or to a place to drink.

No mech gave him second thoughts. To them, he is just another low-life walking through Kaon. They don't know he is a killer out for energon, for payback.

His optics linger on the bots that pass by him, dark visor hiding his gaze. How many of these nobots will become his targets? Who was secretly a pit trafficker or sparkling abuser? A slave owner? How many does he eventually need to offline?

Do they know that some orn, they'll meet him? That they won't function afterwards? Do they live in fear and remain online during the late orn thinking about him?

It’s times like these Meister wishes he weren't sober, that he were too overcharged to care about the substantial amount of mechs he has to hunt down orn after orn. Worrying about the unfortunate ones who are affected by these fraggers is a waste of time. What good does it do? Rather, he spends his time on revenge.

Meister fixes his gait that was gradually slipping into aggressive steps. He vents, his legs carrying him through the street more smoothly. He needs a drink. One cube of high grade isn't enough for him.

The street leads him to one of the best bars in Kaon and his favorite, The Pit’s Trough. It has the best broadcasts of the high class gladiatorial games and serves the strongest high grade that can get any mech overcharged with just a few cubes. It is expensive, but Meister has nothing else to spend his credits on at the moment. Besides, he can always get more.

The bar draws in mechs from the pits due to having the best broadcasts. A perfect spot to find his target.

His damned target. A fragger by the name of Hex. Of course, that is not his true designation, simply an alias in the pits.

He strides in, brushing past mechs who are leaving. Like the last bar, it’s dim inside, but smells strongly of spicy high grade that pleasantly tickles his olfactory sensors. The atmosphere feels light and alive, unlike other bars that are typically muggy and dreary. Bots inside are enjoying themselves, hanging out with friends or being seduced by pleasurebots. There are gambling games all around, large amounts of credits placed on the tables that move around constantly from mech to mech as they are bet.

Meister loves this place for its liveliness. It is refreshing.

Multiple screens line the walls, many above the counters with a couple currently broadcasting the game Knockout was talking about, the one with Breakdown. He has to admit, the brute isn't that bad looking. Not his type, but definitely has his own charm.

The gray mech takes a seat at the large counter, ordering the strongest high grade they had, Unicron’s Delight. This bar is renowned for this type, none other being able to replicate its potency and taste.

The mech sits sideways in the stool, observing the mechs in the bar. He will need to search for his target, who has appeared on broadcasts before, giving Meister a faceplate to an alias.

He takes a sip of his high grade, a grimace twisting his features. It burns more than the last high grade he had, and is insanely spicy on his glossa. It feels good.

Pit mechs typically move in packs. Hex should be with his buddies, all of which might become Meister's next targets. They may not have a distinct look to them, but the way they socialize and present themselves gives them away immediately. The idiots cannot hide themselves very well.

He scans the bar, studying each faceplate. His optics pause at one of the gambling tables. It is the loudest, having eight rambunctious mechs sitting around it. The gunmetal gray mech at the left side of the table laughs, red optics flashing with humor.

That's him.

Meister throws back his cube, bracing himself for the burn as he swallows the spicy drink.

Hex laughs again as he wins credits. "I am sure to spend this next orn! Heard those rust sticks were back in the market!"

"Might have to grab myself some before they're gone then." Another says.

The marketplace. That's where he will most likely next orn. Perhaps during the rush. He knows that there is the possibility of Hex not following up on his statement, but Meister always finds a way to watch his target.

He needs more high grade. He has what he needs for his target.

Before he knew it, Meister is ordering another one, and another one. One after the other until he starts feeling that familiar buzz.

Meister typically holds himself well with high grade, but when it comes to drinking Unicron’s Delight, he lets loose. His tolerance to high grade lets him drink more of them than what's considered normal, but one thing is for sure, he won't be leaving this bar any time soon with the amount he drank so far.

He hadn't wanted to get himself overcharged, but Primus apparently has other plans for him this orn. It isn't like he'll say some slag that can get him offlined. He can control himself.

Nobot bothers him as he continues to watch Hex and his buddies.

Chapter Text

Blue optics stare back at Prowl as he gazes out the window of the monorail he is on. The metal land passes by, offering nothing interesting to see. However, in the far distance are a couple cities, Tyger Pax being the closest. Its buildings are not as tall as other cities’ like Iacon, but are just as graceful as they spiral into the sky.

It will be another joor before he arrives in Kaon. A large acid storm had recently torn through the city, lasting a total of three orns. Acid storms typically happen a couple times a vorn, and mainly pass through the lower hemisphere of the planet where Kaon lies.

Meister had not been affected by the acid rain, and that worries Prowl. If he makes a kill regardless of the weather, there's no telling what else he is willing to do.

Prowl sighs, looking away from the window and reaching into his subspace. He pulls out the datapad containing his case and powers it on, the blue screen lighting up. He selects a certain file and opens it to view its contents. It holds the images and information of the hundreds upon hundreds of deaths caused by none other than Meister.

White text went on and on as Prowl scrolls down the list. He stops at the glyph for the merchant, the case he was shown last orn.

There is a clear pattern with how Meister offlines mechs, slitting their throats and leaving them to leak out. He leaves plenty of energon at the crime scene, all his victim’s.

They just don't have the reason why. There was never a deep enough investigation to provide it. Kaon is known for its bad mechs, other city-states don't care for them as long as they stay there. However, alarm raises whenever Meister travels outside of Kaon and kills. That is a rarity though, and most times those victims are traced back to Kaon.

His vorn-long absence disturbed the higher ups, raising suspicion when he returned. They immediately went into action in hopes of catching this mech that has been slipping through their digits like sand for decavorns.

Prowl needs to know who Meister's targets are, and why he is targeting them. What does a pit trafficker, a merchant, and the other seemingly random mechs have in common? There are mechs working in trade, office businesses, bars, construction. It goes on to a variety of jobs that have no correlation, Prowl notes as he continues to scroll.

He needs to consider every factor in order to solve this case. If he knows Meister’s select targets, why he's killing them, it will make finding and arresting Meister easier.

Does he do it to induce fear? To control mechs? Does he seek power, or satisfaction? Revenge?

It is hard to come to a conclusion, none of the reasons seem more plausible than the rest. It can be anything, and that irks Prowl.

If Meister kills again while the Praxian is in Kaon, he is securing the crime scene himself. Who knows how many details previous detectives or enforcers left out, how much evidence has been tampered with, how many enforcers were tainted with corruption.

Prowl wonders for a klik, what will happen if and when he catches Meister? Will he be sentenced to deactivation, or multiple life sentences? It truly depends on his reasoning, but if it were up to Prowl, he would put the bastard in permanent stasis lock. He never let his opinions mess with his work, but this mech deserves it. Causing hundreds of deaths, and continuing to, is no small feat.

Besides, put him away and he'll escape. Why else do bots think he still runs loose?

He could issue a shoot on sight order if he makes a strong enough case with his superiors. To Kaon, and possibly neighboring city-states, Meister is a threat.

Two decavorns ago, the killer had raised all sorts of panic when he hit in Iacon, a city-state on the far side of the planet. Many thought it was a bluff, that there was just a wannabe Meister running around, but there is always that one variable that a bot could miss.

There have been mechs trying to copy the killer in the past, but they had forgotten about the no forced entry, or the polish rag, or the look of fear on the victim’s face that only Meister can truly accomplish.

Prowl observes the photos of each victim, specifically the stab wounds left on various areas, such as the collar, underneath the chestplates, the thigh. Had he done this to stop the mechs from fleeing? To terrorize them?

He backs out of the photos, scrolling down to view the vi- wait. His digit goes back up and selects the photos again. It is a known fact that Meister uses the same weapon with each kill. A few of the stab wounds had gone through the tough armor of these victims and sliced clean through the metal support of their necks.

They seem to have a specific width and length. Prowl has never seen such small blades dealing such fatal damage. Only a Cybertanium blade is capable of this at such a size. Cybertanium is the strongest metal alloy on Cybertron, found deep in the planet and close to the core. It is extremely hard to obtain and is insanely expensive. How Meister got a hold of these, he doesn't know.

The Praxian glanced over the photos from the Meister copies. Not one had the same Cybertanium daggers that left a signature mark on the victims. They had only sloppily stabbed the victim to deactivation with a large blade, the slit on the throat for show rather than offlining.

Why are there no mentions of the type of weapon used? They know fully well it is a short blade, but that is as far as the report goes. Prowl vents, not a single bot had connected the dots? Had they even bothered?

The fact that Meister has Cybertanium blades can immensely narrow their search.

This is why Prowl was called for the case. No other detective is Kaon is as thorough as he is apparently. No other cares as much as he does.

Unless they support the killer. What if they perceive it as Meister killing mechs who had done wrong? What if that is true? What if he is doing what is right, because others won't?

Prowl shakes his helm, his optics finding the window again. He is entering the city. Murders are murders, no matter who is killed.

A detective doesn't choose his victim.

“Arriving in Kaon, station U-95, in five kliks.” The monorail’s intercom states.

He tucks the datapad away, waiting patiently. The buildings passing by become closer together as they go deeper into the city. Station U-95 is near the edge of Kaon and next to his assigned station.

The enforcers he will be working with should be waiting there to retrieve him. Just to be sure, Prowl sends a ping to them, quickly receiving a confirmation back.

He settles back into his seat, fanning out his doorwings to make himself comfortable. His helm is tilted towards the window, avoiding optic contact with any of the other bots on the monorail.

It comes to a slow stop, intercom beeping to alert the passengers that they can exit. Prowl stands from his seat, making his way to the doors that slide open.

The vibrations from the monorail Prowl has welcomed disappears as he steps off, immediately getting a strong sense of loss. It is quieter in Kaon, less soothing vibrations here. He shakes himself of the thoughts. Work matters more at the moment.

A couple enforcers standing near call him over. As he approaches, he shifts his wings to a straighter position, higher upon his back. He offers a nod and a quick dip of his wings in greeting, and they return the nod. One steps forward, addressing the Praxian mech, “Detective Prowl.” The predominantly black enforcer gestures to the exit, “The station is ready for you.”

“Then let us go, shall we?” The Praxian follows them out, and transforms into the street. They lead him down to the station, passing by variety of bars, clubs, markets and housing units.

The station is bustling when they enter the main room. Enforcers are going about their business, running datapads and patrol. In the cages are arrested mechs, pending investigation or release. Some are pacing, others melting holes in anybot's armor with their glares.

It is quite the change from the calm stations of Praxus.

"Detective Prowl! What an honor for you to be here!" A sergeant exclaims as they enter the station. The off-white mech approaches the group, "Whatever you need for this case, we will be happy to provide."

Prowl nodded in greeting and gratitude, doorwings flicking as he scans over the room once more before returning his gaze to the short - still standing taller than Prowl - but burly mech in front of him, "I will start on the case next orn. For now, I wish to settle."

The sergeant eagerly smiles, "Of course, of course! Barricade, show Detective Prowl to his quarters, please. Don't forget about your patrol in a joor."

He acknowledges the order and gestures for Prowl to follow him further into the station. "I assume Praxian stations still don't have personal quarters?"

"They do not," the black and white mech confirms, twitching his doorwings, optics still observing every little thing in this foreign place. A little has changed since the last time he was here a vorn ago for a case on a sparkling pit trafficker that was abruptly cut short due to none other than Meister.

That had been the last known kill Meister had made before he disappeared.

"Yeah, they're mainly used for enforcers who would rather stay throughout the entire orn or so. But originally, we have them in case we need to take a bot into protective custody or if we have enforcers from another city-state, such as yourself." They go into a well lit lower level, something his Praxian stations don't have, and approach a door on the left, "These will be your quarters."

"Thank you," Prowl nods and enters the room that has the bare essentials, such as a desk, a berth and washracks. The Praxian can't help but feel a little unsafe in this room, and he can't tell if it is because this is Kaon, or the quarters are insufficient.

It is most likely the absence of the crystal gardens causing him paranoia and to feel exposed here. He would say so, judging by how much his doorwings are twitching when he examines another aspect of his temporary quarters.

Barricade watches him for a couple kliks before turning away, "I have patrol to get to. I can give you a tour later, or you can get one of the other enforcers to."

“Of course. Thank you.” The door closes after him and leaves Prowl to his own devices. He will take a joor or two to himself, however long it takes for Barricade to finish his patrol, then request a tour and some energon.

One thing setting Prowl off about this room is that it is painfully quiet. He hopes the familiar vibrations of his home will start up again, and is constantly teasing his doorwings with the feeling of each step he takes, thinking it is the crystals singing to him.

He will not enjoy his stay here.

With that, he is already missing his city-state and brothers. He won't have a family to come back to after work for as long as he is investigating this case in Kaon. He can't visit the Helix Gardens that sit almost across the whole planet, previously down the street from his home.

Lowering himself onto the berth, Prowl rubs his helm. He didn't think that he would be this affected by leaving Praxus, but it has been a vorn since he has. His last travel was to Iacon, shortly after his cold case in Kaon, to review the investigation once more before officially closing it.

That was the first and only time Prowl had confronted the High Council and Prime and was allowed to speak.

When it comes to Meister, the Council and Prime don't mess with him. They had decided that orn to not pursue the case after Meister offlined Prowl's suspect. They would not interfere with whatever business Meister had with the mechs he deactivated.

It had bothered Prowl for orns, being his first cold case, forced closed by a phantom of Cybertron.

At the time, the Praxian wished that he was allowed to look into it, but orders were orders, especially from the Prime himself. Now, they placed him on this case, knowing he has a great tactical processor and a sort of experience with Meister.

Soon, his investigation will become global news. It's not every orn that a Praxian detective is sent to the other side of the planet by the High Council to find Meister, who is believed to be a myth by half the population of Cybertron. Even one of the Council members doesn't believe in him. The rest of the Council are convinced that Meister exists, even if he has been "debunked.”

Mechs who try to prove or disprove the killer don't have all the necessary information on him, such as each kill and every photo. Unless they are working on the case like Prowl is, nobot is privy to the information.

It will soon become common knowledge, as much as Prowl would rather keep it a private investigation.

What will happen when Meister learns of Prowl investigating? Will he be completely unaffected, thinking that the detective can't touch him? Or will he run? There will be a serious problem if Meister leaves Kaon, he will become a true threat and Prowl will have to go after him, possibly never finding him again.

This is the best chance Cybertron has to catch Meister, and the case inevitably going public has the possibility of ruining it.

Prowl vents, doorwings drooping a bit. This is going to be a tough case for him, possibly the hardest one he's ever taken.

He stiffens at the thought of who he is working with. He was given the choice to pick his own team, despite not knowing any of the mechs personally. Barricade is the only one he knows, having shared a bit of their heritage. Barricade is half-Praxian, half-Kaonite. They are not close, however, and are entirely professional.

Optics refocusing from the spot on the wall, he slips out a datapad from his subspace. It is an old datapad, the corners worn down and scratches along the sides, but it is one of Prowl’s first and most personal. He powers it on, entering a password. It grants him access to numerous files listed neatly on the screen, he opens the first file.

Five faceplates smile at him, and he stares back for a long while. It is a picture of him and his family, standing as bunched up together as they could with doorwings. It is a celebratory picture, taken right after Prowl finished his training as an enforcer and was accepted into the force. His younger self held a small smile, rookie badges in place, and Bluestreak had the largest grin, hugging his side.

He flicks to the next picture, it is of him having recently become an adult sitting with a very small Bluestreak. He was watching sparkling Blue play with his toys, a warmth in his optics that only appears when looking at his younger brother, who had to have been only a few vorns old in this photo taken by his sire.

The next picture is one of just his creators, both smiling softly. His sire had her arm around his carrier’s waist, tucking her into her side. His carrier had the enforcer badges in this photo, which isn't a surprise to Prowl, she always likes to keep them on. His sire had special etchings on her collar, the marks of a Helix Gardens caretaker. Blue is always fascinated with them, hoping he could have them one orn.

He scrolls by two more photos, one of him and Smokescreen when his older brother went into his enforcer training, and the other picture was Prowl right after his emergence, happily nestled in the arms of his carrier. He was so small then, able to fit in his creators’ servos. It is crazy how much Cybertronians grow.

A sharp knock on his door has him jerking his doorwings back to their proper position, optics trained on the door. How long has he been deep in thought? He tucks the datapad away, back into subspace and stands from the berth.

The door opened and Barricade stuck his helm in, "Yeah, these doors don't have commands to ping or open.” He glanced around the quarters, "No personal items?”

“No,” he says, not explaining himself. The Praxian flicks his doorwings at the look the other enforcer gives him, he does not need to provide a reason. Taking a deep vent, Prowl changes the subject, turning them back to where they should be, “I will require to be refamiliarized with the station and the team I will be working alongside with for this case.”

Barricade nods, “Of course, of course.” He flicks his wrist in a gesture to follow him out into the corridor. Prowl catches up and matches his pace up the stairs, “Well, you know me. I'll more or less be your partner.”

Partner. Prowl glances at the black mech, who is roughly the same height as him, possibly a little taller. He's had many partners - all of which typically stand higher than him - but Chromedome is his best.

“This is the main room, every console is an open resource for you where you can access the main database.” Barricade points to the many screens in the large room, then stacks of pads in various places among the room, “Datapads are also available for documentation or research.”

They move onto a small open concept refueling area in the corner, energon cubes stacked along with a refueling station mounted on the wall.

“The refueling station. Would you like a cube now?” Barricade questions.

Prowl shakes his helm, “I will refuel at a later time. We may continue.”

“Right. Over here,” he takes a few steps to a door, “Is the captain’s office. Would you like to speak with him?”

“Yes,” Prowl confirms.

This door seems to have an entrance ping, unlike the quarters below, and opens. He and Barricade step through and into the office of the captain, which houses shelves full of datapads, a console, and a desk in the center of the office, which is where a burly maroon mech sits. Barricade greets him, “Captain Axle.”

“Officer Barricade.” He greets with a deep timber voice. His attention turns to the Praxian, and nods, “Detective Prowl, a pleasure to have you here in Kaon.”

The black and white mech returns the greeting with the downwards flick of his doorwings, “Thank you, captain.” He straightens his back more, optics still on the maroon bot, “I wish to gather my team, if that is alright?”

“They are currently unavailable, but you will meet them next orn.” Axle nods, “I hope you're finding everything okay so far?”

“Thank you, and I am.” The station has definitely improved since he was last here, new mechs and better technology for the station to do their job more efficiently. It isn't nearly as good as his home state’s station, but it will do. Besides, he's had to work with far worse.

Axle offers a small smile, “You may start as soon as you like. I would suggest having a bot prepare the gathered information on a board so that the case is ready for the next orn.”

The Praxian calmly flares his doorwings, “If you don’t mind, I will organize that myself. Lower chance of mistakes.”

“Of course. If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask.” The maroon mech picks up a datapad to work on, “I will be sure to notify the rest of your team that you have arrived and are ready to brief by the next orn. Dismissed.”

The two enforcers leave the office, Barricade making his way towards the refueling station. He snags a cube and leans against the counter, Prowl observing him a few steps away. The younger enforcer opens his cube and takes a sip, staring back at Prowl. He points to the empty boards spread across the main room. “You gonna start filling that board?”

Prowl turns to see the objects he's referring to. He frowns, “Is there a more private area to take them?”

Barricade mulls over that for a klik, optics eventually shooting over to a secure door, “We have the conference room we can take these into. Plenty of privacy in there.”

Nodding, Prowl moves forward and begins wheeling the boards towards the designated room. The younger enforcer behind him walks ahead to open the door for him.

Once they have all three of the necessary boards in and the door closed, Prowl stands back and stares. Barricade glances between him and the boards, “...Are you going to start?”

“Yes,” Prowl states. “I am simply figuring out the best way to organize this.”

He takes a step forward and powers on each board. They were essentially large datapads, able to display more with screens that stand taller than Prowl himself, and are twice as long.

This was the Praxian’s second favorite part, next to full frame autopsies.

Plugging in the datapad containing Meister's case, he begins moving files around with the flick of his digits on the screen. He can't possibly fit all the kills Meister has made, and instead picks out the more investigated cases, including his from last vorn.

Typically, once the Kaonite detectives find out that a bot is offlined by Meister through all the gathered forensics, they drop the case. They hadn't bothered, knowing they wouldn't be able to find the mech.

Out of the hundreds of cases on his datapad, only thirty end up on the far left board, location and time listed underneath each photo as well as the victim’s identity.

He stands back for a klik, examining each victim.

“What are you looking for?” Barricade inquires, having watched the entire process that had taken only a matter of a few kliks.

“A pattern,” Prowl mutters, optics drifting over each small detail. Appearance, location, function, none of them correlate to each other. The only consistency was that each bot was offlined in their personal quarters late in the orn. “There has to be a motive. What makes him offline these mechs?”

The enforcer shrugs in a noncommittal manner, “Maybe they just crossed his path at the wrong place, wrong time.”

“No,” he shakes his head. Picking up a stylus, he begins writing out notes, “This is personal. Each one happened in their housing units, and each stab wound was deliberate. He found out where the victim lived, what time they got there, and how to trap them. He took his time with them.”

“Haven't you heard the stories? Speak one wrong word about Meister and he will hear it.” The younger enforcer steps closer, standing at Prowl's side. “What do you think they said?”

Prowl ponders, maybe it is that simple. He has no other reason, so why does it still feel wrong? “Or what they did.”

“To him?”

“...I'm not sure,” Prowl admits.

After a few kliks if pointlessly staring at the board, the other two barely touched besides Prowls neatly scribbled notes on the middle one, Barricade sighs, “I think it's time to leave this for the next orn, wait for the team to arrive.” He opens the door, glancing back at his partner, “Get some rest, Prowl.”

He nods, optics returning to the board when the door closes. He shifts his weight, cocking his hip, and rests a servo on his chin.

Does he truly believe Meister is one mech? That he can organize these murders himself? That he has been doing it all these vorns?

Yes, it is possible for Cybertronians to live as long as Meister has. It is not unheard of. Yet this mech cannot be as mobile as he is when he's been functioning theoretically since before or early in Zeta Prime's reign.

There has to have been a Meister before the current one. How can a single mech stick to murdering and getting away with it for centuries?

The biggest problem is that not one Cybertronian has ever seen Meister, and thus he has no clue where to find him. He could be anywhere, at any time. Does he stay hidden all orn?

The thought of Meister being out at this very moment, possibly set on offlining another mech was enough to send an uneasy feeling through the Praxian. It is late enough in the orn for him to be out and about, he wouldn't doubt it if Meister were roaming the streets of Kaon.

When will his next kill be? If Prowl can't be on top of this case, he will never catch Meister.

“Where are you, you bastard?” He mutters.