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Five Times Meister Slips the Hounds (and One Time Prowl Doesn't)

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Hello Bluestreak,

I apologize that it’s taken so long for me to write. It took quite a while for me to settle in in Praxus - it’s nothing like Iacon, and, if I’m honest, even the thought of writing to you made me too homesick to contemplate. It’s been getting better, though. I’ve made some new friends in the city, and while I miss everyone at the Precinct every day, I’m getting used to life in Praxus.

I hope that you will forgive me for being out of touch for so long. I would like to hear about how you’ve been doing - I’ve been receiving your marksmanship scores, and seen a few news articles that have mentioned your involvement, but beyond that, how have you liked working for the enforcers?

I hope this letter reaches you well.

Prowl

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He spends far longer than he should need to on the letter.

It’s been… such a long time since he’s contacted Bluestreak - contacted either of his brothers. A hundred and twenty vorns… not spent entirely without contact. He receives notifications when they are injured on the job, tracks their marksmanship scores and achievement awards, has followed Smokescreen’s grades in every training course he’s taken. He’s even visited, once - him and Bluestreak converging in Crystal City after a negotiation-gone-wrong had left Smokescreen berthbound for orns.

It’s just… up until a few orn ago, he’s had nothing to talk to them about.

What could he say? He won’t lie to them, but… “Oh, Praxus is terrible - my commanding officer is corrupt, and all of my colleagues would like to see me killed”? “Yes, the gang lords rule the city - no, I’m not allowed to arrest them, I can’t even call them in for questioning or they’ll have me shot?” He won’t do that to them - won’t put them in a position where their own morals become as compromised by the city as his have been.

They would tell him to leave. He won’t - won’t abandon Praxus to Barricade and the lords.

But Meister changes that. He can’t tell them the truth, but… he has a team now, a team that he trusts not to turn on him. He has - and it’s bitterly, bitterly rare that he has occasion to use the term - friends.

One of whom is finally coming back out of stasis beside him.

“Hng… Grhg… Prowler?” Meister’s voice is groggy as he shifts on the medberth, hand struggling to free itself from the sheets tangled around it. “You catch the name of the tank that ran me over?”

“Hematite.” The femme was definately large, but… “She wasn’t a tank. Construction unit - but she spent some time in the arenas, enough to pay for reinforcement and a weapons mod.”

“Slag. She didn’t even slow down.” He groans again. “How bad was it?”

“Fairly. Ratchet had you stable quickly, but he spent almost two cycles reassembling your plating - he’s recharging now. I volunteered to keep an optic on you.”

At that, Meister onlines his own optics, and cringes back into the pillow, struggling against the sheets even harder. “Slag -” He stills as Prowl obligingly covers his visor with his own hand, blocking the worst of the medbay’s lights to give him a chance to adjust. “Thanks, mech.”

He hums softly, acknowledging the gratitude. “You did well. Ratchet said there might be short-term packet loss - you successfully took out Mica and Igneous. You had successfully cleared the mission area as Cenote, and then…”

“Wait, what?” Meister’s voice is pure indignation. “How’d I get flattened by a tank - ‘m sorry, mech, I know construction mechs an’ that was a fraggin’ tank, whatever she framed as - if I got out clean?

“She didn’t properly clear the intersection before proceeding. It’s an -”

“I got in a regular slagging accident?” His pitch is rising - not yet approaching hysterical, but…

“Yes. It’s an unfortunately common problem, even in more orderly cities.” He pauses. “She did not bother to stop to check on you. I assume that we won’t be pressing charges for hit-and-run, regardless.”

Meister seems speechless at that - staring up at him with a bright, shocked visor. After another moment, Prowl takes mercy on him and gives a small smile.

Immediately the assassin slumps back in the berth. “Pits, mech - don’t do that to me. So… Primus. A regular slagging accident. How’d you get me back to the clinic?”

“I arrived on-scene first, made a show of checking your medical files, and stood-by as officer-in-charge until Ratchet could arrive to transport. A hit-and-run only requires one officer to respond, and no follow-up paperwork unless the victim dies or requests an investigation.” He smiles again. “I assumed you wouldn’t be interested, and took the liberty of closing the file.”

“Good. Thank Primus.” Meister stares up at the ceiling. “A regular slagging accident.”

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Prowl!

Prowl Prowl Prowl Prowl Prowl! Oh Primus, it’s been such a long time! I’m so happy to hear you’re doing better - I remember how down you were when we stayed with Smokey last time, but I’m glad to hear that you’re finally adjusting to Praxus! I know mechs can be afts about working with you - I’m glad they’re finally warming up! Maybe I can visit sometime and meet your friends~

I’ve been doing great! I’ve finally got a team of my own - well, we’re not officially a team, but me and TB and the twins have been doing a lot of protection-detail stuff together, and Ultra Magnus pretty much always posts us together, so we’re basically a team. Teebs said to say hi when I mentioned that I was writing you a letter - I guess he worked with you back when you were stationed in Iacon? You wouldn’t know the twins, though - they were in the class after mine. They’re great, though - they’re both former gladiators, so they’re really great at close-protection stuff. I’ll send a picture of us! We got to be part of the Winglord’s protection detail last Festival, and he was kind of an aft, but his trinemates were really nice and Skywarp got us a picture with all of them to remember it.

You should write me back! And send a message to Smokey, too - he misses you a lot, although he’s really busy these days. I guess Crystal City’s been lending him out to other cities - there’s some kind of major investigation going on down in the Tri-Torus he’s been working on for decavorns, but he’s not allowed to talk about it at all so I haven’t heard much from him.

Love you lots!

Bluestreak

Chapter Text

Dear Bluestreak,

Thank you for writing back. I’m happy to hear I’ve been in your thoughts. It would be a pleasure to have you visit me in Praxus - although, unfortunately, I am also very busy at this point in time. Perhaps as the situation changes here, it would be possible - I will keep you apprised.

I’m glad to hear that you’ve found mechs that you work well with - Trailbreaker is a good mech; we worked together on several cases, and he always impressed me with his professionalism and courage. Sunstreaker and Sideswipe have solid records, also - they will complement your own talents well, if Ultra Magnus decides to make you an official protection detail.

I will take your advice about contacting Smokescreen under advisement. I admit to some trepidation - I spoke to him more recently than my last contact with you (before my previous letter) and he was under the impression that my lack of contact had upset you. Perhaps you could mention that we have been corresponding when you speak to him next?

Please stay safe.

Prowl

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“-but if Red can’t find it, it can’t be found. I don’t want you walking into a trap!”

He glances up from his letter as an unfamiliar name registers in the part of his processor that’s been absently tracking Ratchet and Meister’s argument.

“Who’s Red?”

Ratchet stiffens, even as Meister groans. “Slag, Ratch. This is why I don’ let you call me Meister.” The assassin gives Prowl a grin. “Red’s Klaxon. Klaxon’s Red.”

The word is disorientingly familiar, pricking at some part of his awareness... It takes Prowl’s ATS several moments to pull together different information, access archived memories. The way Klaxon’s files are always neatly prepared for his ATS, despite both Ratchet and Meister reporting that the hacker claims not to have accessed his medical files. The mech’s skill - far beyond any ordinary two-bit dataminer or network analyst. The itching familiarity of his style - the neatly-processed gridmaps, the carefully-sectored cameras, the near-total access he pulls out of hostile systems...

“Wait, Red as in Red Alert?”

Both of the mechs stiffen at that. “Slag.”

“No - no, it’s fine, it’s just - I worked with Red Alert! He and the Iaconi Enforcers - he’s a genius, the best there is.” Prowl turns to Meister, optics bright. “How in Primus’ name did you get the Prime’s own hacker to work with you?”

::I work for a lot of mechs.:: The not-entirely-unfamiliar voice that is suddenly, uninvitedly, in his comms is enough to make Prowl jump. ::Hello, Prowl. It’s been a while. Please don’t mention this to anyone - I would hate to have to destroy your life.::

Prowl makes a garbled sort of choking sound.

“You alright, mech?” Meister steps towards him, worriedly, but a mere moment later there’s a fizzing inside Prowl’s helm and suddenly the two-way comms call is four-way.

::Hello, Jazz, Ratchet. Thank you for remembering my code-name, Jazz. Please don’t tell the police I’m working with you, Ratchet, it’s such a mess to clean up.::

The medic has a guilty look on his face. ::Sorry, Red.::

::Anyways. Prowl, I will ruin your life if you tell anyone that I’m working with these two. Other than that, I’m sure it will be a pleasure to work with you again. Sending the blueprints you requested now - they’re accurate as of sixteen orn ago. Ratchet, I’ll have the cameras packaged up and sent over in five joor.::

The comm call dissolves as quickly as it had established, and Meister grins. “He seemed… cheerful. Barely threatened you at all! You must’ve made a good impression at some point, Prowl… what’d you work with him on?”

Prowl takes a moment to find the words to answer. “Kidnapping case - I was the enforcer liaison. Worked with his partner - Inferno?” Meister nods recognition. “How did he -”

“Know you were talking about him?” Prowl gives a helpless nod. “Oh, he’s spying on us constantly. He’s got everywhere me or Ratch go on a regular basis bugged up to the Pit - doesn’t usually pipe in, but he’s listening.”

“I used to work with him. In the army. I was - you know about his glitch?” Prowl nods again - everyone who knows about Red Alert knows about the famous hacker’s glitched paranoia. “Worked with him on that in the early days. When I left, we kept in touch - then I met Jazz, and we started working together, and eventually we hit a job we couldn’t handle ourselves. Red helped us out, and we’ve been working together ever since.”

“Should you -”

“Be telling you that? No, probably not.” Ratchet gets a worried look. “He really will ruin your life, mech. I’ve seen him do it before. If I were you, I’d offline myself before I let that little piece of intel slip over your glossa, because you aren’t going to exist as anything except a stain on the digital pavement when he’s done with you otherwise.”

“I know.” But he can’t keep a small smile off his lips. “Like I said, I’ve worked with him before.”

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Prowl!

Aaa, we’re all so busy, it seems! Iacon is constantly moving - we’ve been working protection details for different nobles as often as Ultra Magnus can schedule us, it seems. It’s very exciting - orn-long details with three cycles between them, mostly, but we’ve had one or two that have been shorter. The pay is very good, though, and it’s not too stressful - I sleep when our protectee does, and Sides and Sunny swap off at night. Teebs is starting to look real worn-down, though - I might talk to him about swapping off for an orn or so, but I don’t want him to feel like we don’t want him on our team!

And yeah, he was telling me stories about when you two worked together - he makes you sound totally bad-aft, but I already knew that. Still, it’s nice to hear it from someone else for a change!

I’ll tell Smokey to lay off of you, of course! He’s such a fusspot, sometimes - acts like I don’t know how you handle things! It’s not like I talk to him all the time, either - although I’ll admit a centivorn was a bit of a long time to be out of touch. Still, don’t worry, Prowl! I would have written if I was really upset - I just figured you needed the space to sort things out!

Love you forever!

Bluestreak

Chapter Text

Dear Bluestreak,

I’m glad to hear you’re keeping busy. In some ways, Praxus is quieter than Iacon - not as many important visitors, certainly, and the festivals here are much smaller in scope without the Prime leading them. Still, I miss the bustle of Iacon - there is less work for a tactician here, and even my shifts as a patrol officer are generally quiet. It is nice to get to drive more regularly, however - I am not so bound to my desk, at least.

Trailbreaker is a good mech, but he tends to overwork himself on security details. Perhaps you could take the initiative of asking Ultra Magnus to move you all to patrols for an orn? If he is looking seriously at transitioning you into a full-time team, it shouldn’t be an issue - he will be looking for signs that you are investing yourselves in a more long-term partnership, and paying attention to the needs of your team is part of that.

One of my new friends, Jazz, is a street performer here in the city. He thought you might like to hear one of his performances, so I have included an audio file of one of his performances.

Give your team my best.

Prowl

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“Nah, mech. Don’t say it like that.” Meister is reading over his shoulder again. Prowl flicks a wing to knock him away - just a nudge - and turns to look at him.

“Like what?”

“Don’t say I wanted you ta send a recording of me - tell him you thought it.” Meister points at the offending line, the tip of his finger clinking on the datapad’s screen.

“It was your idea.” Prowl cocks his helm at the sentence. “Do you think it will matter? He will enjoy the music, regardless.”

“It ain’t about him likin’ the music, mech! It’s about him believing you when you say you’ve got friends.” Meister gestures at the letter. “That just makes me sound vain.”

Prowl considers that for a moment, then replaces the word. “If you’re certain. And why wouldn’t he believe me when I say I have friends?” He feels like he should be offended by that.

“You haven’t even told him our names!”

“As soon as I tell him your names, he will do exactly what I did - look you up in the enforcer databases. Possibly even send it to Smokescreen, who has access to more detailed files, although he wouldn’t be able to share that information with Bluestreak. I still think it’s a terrible idea.” But Meister wants him to do it - told Prowl to trust him, and Meister is far better at understanding how other mechs think.

“Believe me, they’ll find a couple of tickets, a handful of fines, an’ nothin’ else. Jazz is clean as a whistle.” Meister grins. “Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna get myself caught ta help you make up with your brothers, Prowler.”

“No, I expect you will not.” Prowl nods in deference to the assassin’s expertise, and sends the message.

Meister grins, and then scuttles back over to the medical berth. “Great. Now that that’s done, you mind sprayin’ my back? I think I’m finally gettin’ some color back, but it slagging itches.

Prowl quirks a lip. “Ratchet would tell me to let you suffer.” He accepts the spray bottle, however, gesturing for Meister to turn. “He’d say it will teach you not to get lit on fire.”

“Aw, you wouldn’t do that ta lil’ ol’ me, would ya, Prowler? It’s gonna take all orn fer my nanites to colonize, anyways - ain’t it bad enough I gotta go around lookin’ like a dead mech?” Meister’s voice takes on a whining note. “Besides, it’s not like I got lit on fire. Everything got lit on fire - I was just in the middle of it!”

“I suppose, although I doubt Ratchet accepted that as an excuse.” He gives the bottle a shake before spraying a cool line of salve straight down Meister’s back. The assassin shudders as the anesthetic kicks in, blocking feedback from the rapidly-multiplying chromeonanites. “You could always… make me more sympathetic to your cause.”

“Ah.” He gets a glance back over the smaller mech’s shoulder, and Meister’s voice is suddenly flirty. “And how might I… persuade... you into helping little ol’ me?”

He sweeps the spray back up and over the damaged plating, enjoying the way it makes Meister’s armor tremble. “I had been thinking you might return the favor, actually.”

“A backrub?” Meister grins. “You hardly have to ask, mech. You know my hands are yours for the asking.”

“I thought it seemed… appropriate.” He pauses. “A little you-scratch-my-back, I-scratch-yours.”

Meister’s engine hiccups at that, visor brightening with laughter, and Prowl gives him a moment to recover, carefully working the spray in broad lines across his shoulders until the whole grey expanse of decolonized armor is glossy with sheen. But the assassin’s reply is, as ever, carefully composed and lavacious: “Always, mech. You know I love getting my hands on those wings…”

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Prowl!

You were right - I went to Ultra Magnus, and he said we could have an orn of patrol for the Festival of Lights! Trailbreaker seemed pleased, and the twins were very excited - apparently the Festival is very different in Kaon, where they’re from, so we’re all looking forward to getting to wander around a bit!

I think Magnus really appreciated me asking - I mentioned that you had suggested it, and he said to say hi! And that you’re always welcome to write to him, if you want. I think he misses you, to be honest - I know you two always got on really well, and no one else really gets him when he’s in one of his grumpy moods. And he definitely misses having someone to help him with the scheduling!

Jazz’s music was beautiful! You should ask him if he has any more recording - I’d love to hear them. And tell him thanks for watching over my big brother, okay? I was kind of surprised to hear you had friends outside the enforcers, but I’m glad that you’ve got someone to drag you away from your work. Maybe he can take you out to a bar, sometime? Tell him I’ll send him something nice if he gets me a picture of you overcharged~!

All my love!

Bluestreak

Chapter Text

Dear Bluestreak,

I’m glad to hear that Ultra Magnus was so receptive. If I am truthful, I have missed him, as well. The influence of a mech of his discipline is, I am afraid, sorely lacking in Praxus. I will consider sending him a note, thank you - I am pleased that he remembers me so fondly after so many decavorns.

The Festival of Lights is beautiful - I’m glad to hear you will have a chance to enjoy it with your team this year. I have had a package sent with a few crystal carvings for the four of you - hopefully, they will arrive in time for the festival, but if not, please give them to your team with my apologies for the tardiness.

I have also enclosed a datapad with several more of Jazz’s songs on it - he was pleased to hear you had enjoyed the first sample, and insisted that the rest be sent in a higher-quality format. He says to tell you he will keep me out of trouble. While he failed (despite significant effort) to persuade me to visit a bar on my off-shift, he did accompany me to a patisserie we frequent and smear creamed mercury on my face. I have enclosed the images he took as proof, with hope that it will satisfy you.

May your patrols be quiet this festival season.

Prowl

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“Heya, Prowler.”

It’s a sign of how comfortable he’s gotten with the other mech that Prowl doesn’t even startle when Meister’s voice greets him, unexpectedly, as he enters his apartment.

“Hello, Meister.” He gives the assassin a nod as he drops his datapads on the table before wandering into his kitchen for some fuel. “Have you fueled?”

“Yeah. Sorry, didn’t mean to drop in like this - hope you don’t mind?”

A little flicker of warmth fills his spark at that. “Of course not. You’re always welcome. As long as no one saw you come in?”

Meister chuckles at that. “Never.”

Prowl grates a little magnesium onto his cube before trotting over to the couch to join the other mech. Meister is laying on it, helm propped up on an arm - as Prowl approaches, he tucks his pedes up, making room. “So what brings you by?”

“Eh…” Meister glances away for a moment, and Prowl can teek just a hint of embarrassment where their fields brush. “Needed someplace to crash, actually. Was wondering if I could spend a couple nights on your couch?”

“Of course.” The answer is automatic - there’s no question. “What happened?”

“Nothing major. A couple of your co-workers ran me off my corner, so I don’t want to be showing my face in my usual haunts for a bit - an’ Ratch is dealing with a big influx of ‘Rust cases, so I can’t stay with him.” Meister pauses. “Wheeljack’s right out.”

“Obviously.” He and Ratchet actually share a quite nice house - a free-standing structure, not a common style for residences in Praxus. It’s…

Calling it filled-to-the-brim with explosives would be an exaggeration, but not an inaccurate one.

But something else has caught his attention. “Ran you off?”

“Yeah, thought it’d be funny to toss me around a bit, scare the foreigner. They didn’t do anything too serious - smashed up my harp, an’ kicked creds all over th’ street, but they didn’t hurt me.” Meister huffs his vents. “Spent a couple breem in stasis cuffs, an’ they let me go - had all my paperwork on me.”

Prowl flares his wings, a sudden surge of vicarious aggression almost shaking his plating. “They should not have treated you like that!”

“Eh, it’s festival season. They always get rough with performers around now - anymech who’s got a nice spot, like mine, gets pushed outta the way so they can set up for the booths.” He shrugs. “Comes with th’ territory, Prowler - I shoulda thought of it last cycle an’ just steered clear.”

“They had no right to break your instrument!” His engine is almost rattling in his casing at the thought, half snarling. “They had no right to make you leave the permitted location you paid for -”

“I know, Prowler. Calm down.” Meister shuffles towards him, until they’re right besides each other, and he can lean into Prowl’s frame and push calm into his field. “Ain’t right - but fightin’ was just gonna get me smashed up. Ain’t like I could knife ‘em right there in front of everymech.”

“I know, but…” Slowly, he forces his frame to relax. “I know.”

“Let’s talk about somethin’ else, mech. I don’t want to worry about it right now. I can go buy a new harp tomorrow - ain’t no thing.”

Prowl shakes his helm. “I will be buying it. After work - I will accompany you, if you wish, or at least give you my chit.”

“Nah, mech, you don’t have ta -”

“Please.” Prowl cuts him off, laying a hand over his knee. “The enforcers should be paying, but… at least let me do this, Meister.”

Meister looks up at him, and Prowl can’t hide how much he needs this. The thought of them, his fellow enforcers, smashing the assassin’s instrument, of Meister in cuffs - but Meister nods. “Yeah, Prowler. We can go tomorrow. You can help me pick out somethin’ pretty, alright?”

Prowl vents, and slowly, the tightness in his spark relaxes. “I’d like that, yes. Thank you.”

Meister gives a soft smile. “Ain’t no trouble at all.”

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Prowl!

Ow! I guess you probably heard about what happened, with the bombs and the fire and stuff. Exciting! Lots of excitement! I think I’m done with Festival patrols for now.

I know you and Smokey saw the medic report, but I promise it wasn’t as bad as it looked! I got knocked around a bit, sure, but the whole losing-my-leg thing was a lot less painful than I expected, and Trailbreaker managed to shield us pretty well from the second explosion, so that was fine. Sunny and Sides were amazing - they were even closer to the first blast than I was, but they just tanked right through it! I know you’ve seen their technical specs, and so had I, but I didn’t realize just how sturdy gladiator frames were! They both send their thanks for the crystals, by the way - we set them up on our desk in the bullpen, since we don’t really have much paperwork. Everyone’s been stopping by to admire them!

And tell Jazz thank you again - for the pictures and the music! You look so happy together - even with cream everywhere. And the music is great - it’s given me something to do while I’m cooped up in medical, at least! I really appreciate it.

Please don't jinx me again!

Bluestreak

Chapter Text

Ultra Magnus

I apologize that I have spent so long in Praxus without contacting you. It has taken a long time for me to adjust to the different policing cultures of our cities, but I am finally starting to settle in and find teammates who are willing to accommodate the peculiarities of my ATS. I only recently resumed contact with Bluestreak, but I have been pleased to hear he is encountering success in his role as a sniper - and gratified that you remembered me well to him. Thank you for everything you’ve done for him - and for me. You were a fine mentor, and, despite my distance, I consider you a good friend.

I wanted to inquire after Bluestreak further. While I have access to both his file and the official reports, I was hoping you would be able to tell me more about his reaction to the bombings - I know he has faced combat before, but this was the first time he and members of his team were seriously injured. Are his teammates providing the support he needs? The situation in Praxus is difficult, now, but if you think it would benefit him, I’m sure I could find a way to travel to Iacon for an orn.

I hope you, yourself, are also well. If it is not too forward of me, please, remember to take some time for yourself, now and then. The Iacon Operatic Choir is performing The Singing in the Spheres next cycle - I have sent you two tickets. I’m sure Bluestreak would be happy to accompany you, if you don’t have a personal guest.

Prowl

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“Really? He got his leg ripped off - and you’re still here?” Ratchet gives a surprised huff, but his hands stay steady as he carefully works a weld down Meister’s leg. “Slag, I’d be in Iacon already - that’s not a minor injury, Prowl.”

Prowl hesitates, not certain how to explain things to the medic - or to Meister, who is glancing back and forth between them. “It is… not typical. I am Bluestreak’s brother, but not part of his precinct - for me to rush to his side for an injury that has already stabilized would be… insulting, I suppose would be the term. It would imply that his team and his fellow enforcers were not adequately caring for him.”

“You visited Smokescreen when he was laid up. That’s what you told me, anyway.” Meister’s tired gaze settles on him. “Is it that different?”

“Of course.” He hesitates again at that. It’s obvious that Meister doesn’t understand… “Meister, Smokescreen was dying. He had been exposed to almost a hundred cc’s of aerosolized aqua regia - even after the medics managed to neutralize the worst of the damage, there were concerns that hidden pockets of vapor could suddenly breach his processor and cause critical damage. Of course they summoned us to Crystal City.”

Ratchet gives a soft, horrified hiss, and his optics are paler that Prowl has ever seen them before; his hands go perfectly still, the flame on his welding iron going out. Meister looks appalled.

“Slag, mech. Is he - is he okay?” He lets out a grunt of pain as he shifts to look at Prowl.

“Of course. The medics in Crystal City are very skilled. They eventually neutralized the last of it, and while repairing him took almost a full-frame rebuild, he was able to return to service after only two vorn.”

Ratchet is still staring at him, pale-opticked, and Prowl half-braces for a conversation he’s had many times before. It won’t be the first time a civilian, or even a medic, has called an enforcer cold-sparked for being devoted to their duty.

From Ratchet, though, it will hurt.

But after a moment, Ratchet’s engine lets out a soft rumble, and his hands pick up the weld line with the same steady grace they left it off. “Pits, you mechs really are warframe-coded.”

“What?” It’s not at all the response he was expecting.

“Warframes do the same thing - compartmentalize, form cohorts with the mechs they’re in proximity to, rely on teammates and cohort for support rather than spark-kin. I spent half a lifetime dealing with it - just didn’t recognize it in a civilian frame.” Ratchet shrugs. “No wonder Magnus slid out of the army and right into the Enforcers, after the war. I had always expected he’d join the Home Guard, maybe even take command - I think everyone was shocked when Megatron announced the war was over and he just paid in his commission and went civilian.”

It’s… an intriguing concept. “I hadn’t realized. Even in Iacon, I rarely encountered warframes.”

“So why are you askin’ Magnus about Blue’s team, then? Won’t that just insult them anyways?” Meister cocks his helm. “Or is it different because it’s private?”

“I have full faith in Bluestreak’s teammates.” Trailbreaker, Sunstreaker, Sideswipe - all of them seem like model officers, and he has no doubt that Ultra Magnus would intervene if he thought Bluestreak was being neglected. “It is a matter of courtesy.”

How to explain… “Ultra Magnus was my mentor. My direct mentor - he trained me in the tactical applications of my ATS. So it is appropriate that, if I wish to know something about goings-on in Iacon, I ask him. But he is also commander of the Iaconi Enforcers…”

“... So you can’t ask him directly.” Ratchet nods as he completes the seam, and moves to the next fracture. “Medic trainees are taught the same thing. You never ask your mentor about a case directly, because answering directly would violate patient privacy. You couch the hypothetical, and ask questions from there.”

Prowl nods.

“So you want…” Meister rereads the letter again, his engine giving a faint, dusty whine. “What? Information about his team?”

“Of course.” Or rather… “Not about them, specifically. I would like to know his opinions about their performance. A bombing like this… many enforcers will never face such a challenge in their function.”

Meister coughs a laugh, and Ratchet glares at him - then turns that glare on Prowl. “You give this fragger some lessons, then. I don’t care that the first one was at my house, Jazz - no mech has any business being in two explosions in the same orn -”

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Prowl

I am pleased to hear you are adjusting to Praxus well. I know that the transition between cities can be difficult - I was not offended that you have not been in touch. It is good that you are speaking to Bluestreak again - I know you value your brothers greatly. Thank you for calling me a friend; I consider you one, also.

Bluestreak’s team performed above and beyond any expectation; they were the closest enforcers to the blast, and acted quickly despite their injuries to evacuate wounded civilians and secure the scene. I have placed commendations in each of their files, and also recommended them for a Primal Merit Award for valorous service in the defense of life - I expect it to be between three and eight vorn before I receive a response. His team have remained close by his side, and are dedicated to his recovery.

While I do not believe you need to concern yourself with his injury, I would like you to return to Iacon at the end of the vorn. While it has not been made official, I intend to officially designate Bluestreak, Trailbreaker, Sunstreaker, and Sideswipe as a dedicated protection detail, and promote Bluestreak to Sergeant. I believe he would enjoy your presence at the ceremony. If you are amiable, I will have arrangements made; consider it my repayment for the tickets. Shockwave and I enjoyed the play immensely.

Ultra Magnus

 

Chapter Text

Dear Bluestreak,

Congratulations on your promotion to Sergeant! I hope you know how proud I am of you - and how proud I’m sure Smokescreen is, as well. You have earned every inch of it through your courage and dedication, as a credit to Iacon and her Enforcers. I am sure we will see great things from you and your team in the vorns to come - I have never been more honored to call myself your brother.

I apologize for keeping it a secret from you, but Ultra Magnus requested I not mention it until your promotion was finalized - he has made arrangements for me to visit Iacon for your pennanting. I will arrive an orn beforehand, so I can assist you in preparations and sit vigil with you, and he has persuaded Barricade to give me a full orn of leave after to spend in the city.

I look forward to seeing you, and meeting your team. Ultra Magnus said he would give you leave time to collect me from the platform - I will be arriving on the GX73 out of Praxus at joor eighteen third breem.

Again, I am so proud of you, Bluestreak.

Prowl

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“Prowl?”

It takes a second to register his name through the sounds of the crowd - his name, in a voice that isn’t Bluestreak’s. He pings his brother’s comm as he turns, gets another ‘busy’ tone - and finds himself looking up at a heavily-framed green mech with enforcer livery.

The friendly smile the green mech gives him is enough to calm the sudden, paranoid spike in his spark - he’s not in Praxus, no one’s going to attack him on a crowded Iaconi platform. He flares his wings in greeting, trying to look, at least, approachable.

“Yes? May I help you?”

“Name’s Hound. I work with your brother?” The green mech offers a hand, and Prowl takes it, shaking in the Iaconi custom. Hound’s field flashes against his at the touch - warm and friendly.

“Blue’s got caught up in something at the station - nothing too big, but he’ll be busy for the rest of the afternoon. I’m off on medical -” he gestures at his leg, and Prowl’s doorwings drop a little in surprise at the thick weld lines stitching the plating together, “so I offered to come pick you up.”

“Ah.” Prowl’s wings droop only a little, at that - it’s the nature of an enforcer’s function, but he had hoped to spend the afternoon with Bluestreak. At least it explains why his comms have gone unanswered. “We should head to the precinct, then - unless it’s a matter not for outside optics?”

Hound seems to hesitate at that, as if he’s not quite sure how to respond, but he recovers quickly, shaking his helm. “No, it should be fine. Blue said you wanted to meet the rest of the gang, anyways - I can introduce you to Sides and Sunny, at least.”

He follows Hound out into the street, but the green mech doesn’t transform. “Sorry, we’re going to have to walk - I can’t transform for at least another orn.” It’s not a problem - the central precinct isn’t far, located close to the heart of Iacon.

Hound leads him down an unfamiliar route. It’s not overly concerning - every officer has their own preferences for patrol patterns - but Prowl takes the chance to log the path carefully anyway, intrigued by the other officer’s preference for moving between buildings and down narrow side-streets. His own patrols tend towards areas with wide roads and long sightlines, where the ATS can use his doorwings to monitor for threats at all ranges - Hound’s preferences seem to tend towards the claustrophobic.

“Are you a martial artist?” he asks, absently.

“What?” Hound sounds startled by the question, glancing back with brightening optics.

“Your preference for side streets. You’re quite large, but a martial artist could make good use of the narrower pathways to keep enemies within reach.”

Hound looks at him for another moment, seemingly thrown. It’s not an uncommon reaction to the ATS. “Yeah, I am. Metallicato. How ‘bout you?”

“Ah.” It’s not a choice that would seem to be a good fit for the other mech’s frametype, but… “No, I never had the aptitude for it. I can fight -” he issues the quick transformation that turns his blunt fingertips into dangerous, reinforced claws and back, “- but unfortunately, doorwings make the sort of intensive training a martial art would require risky. As I was trained as a tactician, it was too hard to justify the potential for injury.”

“Too sensitive?” Hound asks, turning down another tight alley, and the world suddenly spins disorientingly around him.

Hound is beside him - but the sounds of him, the movement of air, the heat of an engine, are behind him, receding with every step he takes. His processor swims, trying to cope with the sudden, bizarre data, and he staggers, reaching out for the wall as he does, seeking some kind of purchase as Hound - as the image of Hound turns to him in concern.

“Are you alright?” it asks, but the voice is coming out wrong - all the other sounds are still behind him, and the voice is coming from it but too far back and high up to match the mouth -

He transforms his claws again, frightened, and tries to speak. “Sensors - something’s wrong -”

The image of Hound looks down at him again, and this time it’s mouth moves, but the voice is behind him - “Slag, ‘Raj was right to warn me about Praxians.” The image dissolves, and the green frame of Hound resolves in his peripheral vision of the alleyway behind him, and something heavy and metal slams into his helm and the spinning world around him goes suddenly black.