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Title: In Plain Sight
Rating: PG-13 for implied violence
Characters: Jazz, Prowl
Summary: Investigating murder isn't high on Jazz's list of favorite activities, but things are much more complicated than they seem at first glance, and time is running out to solve the case - and to clear the name of his friend, the only suspect.

(This is un-betaed as Life is being particularly unkind to my beta lately, so I didn't want to burden her with rush-checking this before I went off for vacation. If there are any glaring mistakes, discrepencies, or confusing areas, please let me know so I can fix them when I have internet access again. I'll post a list of the units of time I'm using if anybody wants me to, and I'll be able to respond to comments Friday)


File: #185402-A
Date: Vorn 5, Stellar Cycle 10, Orn 262 AWR
Investigators: Prowl, Jazz
Location: Iacon - Cargo Docks
Crime: Murder

--

The bright glow of the barriers stationed around the back section of the storage building slashed through the darkness like bright blue beacons. The lights inside the building were disabled, but several mechs were working to repair them so the investigators could thoroughly map the scene. Until then, they documented what they could.

With his spark extinguished, the glow of the victim's vital fluids had dissipated a long time ago, leaving him lying in a puddle of deep purple which appeared black in the dim light of the building. It pooled in the thin scratches on the metal floor left behind as evidence of the victim's struggle against his attacker, and the sheer amount of fluids was not surprising given the extent of the damage. He might have been blue or maybe green at one point, but even in the dim lighting, it was easy to see that a lot of the mech's paint had been scraped away in his struggle. The victim's chest was little more than scrap metal, the gaping cavity filled with a puddle of fuel, lubricants, and shards of glass from the mech's shattered spark casing. Shredded wires floated in the fluids which originated from his ruptured fuel tank - either ruptured or manually torn. Without the lighting repaired, that was hard to discern, and it could not be documented until then as not all of the investigators had the same ability to see in the darkness.

Other than the body near the back of the room, the storage building looked rather ordinary. Crates, boxes, and containers were stacked atop one another in neat rows throughout the building, organized by owner and content. The larger containers were near the back of the facility which was where the investigation was taking place, the victim tucked against one of the largest containers and nearly out of sight. The close quarters of the scene held in the stench of burned lubricants and spark-deprived energon.

It was a scent Jazz had hoped to never smell again.

"They've almost got the lights up again," Prowl was saying as Jazz documented what he could with the finely tuned settings of his visor. "And I just got off the comm with Blaster - he's on his way with Rewind and Steeljaw."

"Good," Jazz muttered in reply. "I hope 'ya warned Steely 'bout how much it reeks in here though. Don't wanna overwhelm his sensors again after what happened last time."

"I warned him, but that doesn't mean it will help. I'd send for Hound instead if he was closer."

"We'll just have to make do." With one last sweep of his sensors, Jazz pushed himself to his feet and turned to look past the evidence markers and toward a corner of crates and containers where three investigators were guarding a mech who was sitting on one of the crates, blue optics locked onto the floor. With a frown, Jazz excused himself from his position and carefully stepped around the evidence markers as he made his way toward the group of mechs. "C'mon," he spoke once he was within range. "Back off of him a bit. 'Ya know he doesn't need this kinda guard."

"But, sir-" one mech started to argue, but he cut himself off at the look he received from Jazz.

"I'll take over," Jazz said firmly. "Go see what Prowl needs help with." He made a shooing motion with his claws and watched them sternly as they reluctantly left their post, waiting until they were sufficiently away before he spoke again, "Sorry 'bout that. How quickly some forget, huh?" When he received no response, Jazz turned to look down at the mech they were guarding, and he could not help but sigh.

The mech was so much smaller than he was just five vorns past - once, he towered over Jazz with an air of authority that demanded undivided attention and unrelenting respect, and his voice could command even the turbofoxes to halt in their fervent dashing. Now...he was still a little larger than Jazz but by far lost his commanding presence. The bright reds, blues, and whites of his chassis were the same, and the mask hiding his face - if he had one - was identical, but his antennae were gone. Even so, in Jazz's mind, he could still easily replace the mech sitting before him with the leader he knew once - he could easily picture the same mech who shot down the white tyrant over Perihex five vorns ago.

The violence of the war had torn apart the areas surrounding Perihex, Polyhex, Kaon, and Iacon, and the self-proclaimed Decepticons were sweeping across Cybertron in a wave of destruction. With the death of Sentinel Prime in the original uprising, the citizens of Cybertron had little choice but to weather the storm or choose sides. The resistance of Cybertron's citizenry, given the moniker of the Autobots, was at an immediate disadvantage - with Cybertron's Prime dead and the Decepticons constantly flaunting their continuously growing power, the Autobots proved to be the less and less appealing faction to support.

Then, the Matrix, salvaged from Sentinel Prime's corpse, let the Council know it had chosen the next Prime, and the Autobots looked to their new leader for hope as the war worsened and grew more violent. Some were skeptical and feared the Matrix had been damaged in the battle that killed Sentinel - after all, why else would it have chosen a simple archivist rather than a seasoned soldier to lead them? Most of the Autobots knew Optronix well by that stage of the war, and although some had schooled the timid, cynical archivist in the basics of combat at Optronix's insistence on knowing how to defend himself should the need arise, few saw the makings of a leader. Only the two soldiers who had known Optronix the longest - his combat tutors, Ironhide and Kup - knew there was more to the archivist than his cynicism and pacifistic nature.

Optronix rose as the new Matrix Bearer, Optimus Prime, and it only took one battle for the Autobots to be convinced that the Matrix had made the right decision. The war turned from a horrific, losing struggle to much more equal grounds. As an archivist in his previous "life", Optimus Prime studied the strategies and maneuvers of both the Autobots and Decepticons and was able to make adjustments, fill gaps in security, and change their own strategies to finally counter the Decepticons rather than simply trying to defend against them.

Megatron, the Deceptions' leader, attacked more fiercely, more violently, and in the battles where Megatron himself appeared to ravage the landscape and destroy the ranks of combating Autobots, Optimus was there to counter and draw the tyrant's fire and take the brunt of the assault himself. After the first vorn of his leadership, the Matrix's choice could not be protested any longer, and all Autobots looked to their young Prime with renewed hope as they struggled through the following vorns of the war.

Just over fifteen vorns into the war, the Decepticons heavily attacked Iacon in an attempt to distract the Autobot forces while a separate strike force assaulted Perihex to cripple the Autobots' energy stores. It was a maneuver Prowl had anticipated, and Optimus Prime insisted on heading the counter force in Perihex while Prowl defended Iacon. Jazz was also part of the defense team at Perihex, and even nearly six vorns later, he remembered that fateful vorn vividly - roaring flames flooded the corridors, explosions of ignited energon rocked the walls, and gun fire shot from blankets of smoke as Autobot and Decepticon alike fired blindly into the chaos.

Jazz had sustained a crippling blow to his shoulder that nearly took off his arm, and he honestly had no idea if he had been shot by a Decepticon or by a stray shot from one of his own comrades, but he could not afford to waste time trying to determine his attacker or nurse his wound - all he could do was duck into a corner long enough to attempt to deactivate the pain receptors he could find before he dove back into the battlefield where he immediately had to dodge a shot from Blitzwing.

From there, most of the battle was a blur of flame, smoke, pain, and flashes of gun fire in Jazz's memory, but he still remembered select bits and pieces - screams and expressions of shock and horror from his comrades that he would never forget for as long as he remained online. Jazz rushed to and from every alcove he could, trading shots with nearby Decepticons in his attempt to regroup with the other Autobots, and he was running across a section of Perihex that was entirely too clear for his liking when it happened - he jerked to a stop with his gun raised in self-defense when something dropped from the air just in front of him, and he found himself staring into flickering crimson optics set into a malevolent face twisted in an expression of rage and shock. Megatron's body was contorted at an odd angle due to dropping from the sky, but the hole through his chest was easy to see as smoke billowed from it and it spurted fluids from ruptured lubrication and fuel lines.

Uncertain he was truly seeing what he thought he was even as the last flickers of red light faded from the dead mech's optics, Jazz lifted his gaze from the slowly greying mech at his feet to see the large form of the Autobot leader standing just a few paces away. Smoke curled from the barrel of his rifle, and his optics were bright in his own shock, unable to believe he had actually shot down the white tyrant. Had the ashen grey, still-smoking evidence not been at his feet filling his olfactory sensors with the terrible odor of spark-deprived energon, Jazz might not have believed it either.

In the storage building surrounded once again by the stench of death, Jazz looked down at the red and blue mech sitting on the crate and staring forlornly at his hands. Yes, he had lost his commanding presence, but Jazz would always see him as the leader who restored peace to Cybertron.

Without Megatron's leadership and strategic mind, the still fairly newly fashioned Decepticon faction began to fall apart just a few orns after his death. Many surrendered without further conflict, and some continued to fight to the death, but by the Matrix's blessing, and perhaps another by Primus himself, the Autobots were able to clean up the rebellion for the most part within just a few solar cycles. Optimus refused to take credit for the efforts at quelling the short-lived uprisings and did not particularly care to take credit for killing Megatron either - when approached about it, he merely said he did what was necessary to restore peace to Cybertron, and that further endeared him to the Autobots and affected citizenry which is why it shocked and saddened his closest comrades so thoroughly when, twenty-five solar cycles into the post-war clean-up process, Optimus declared that they no longer needed him, and he was going to step down from his position as Prime.

They tried to argue with him, tried to convince him to stay, but they could not deny for long that he, once again, was right. They had managed to restore most of the lesser-damaged cities, populations were rising again as evacuees and refugees returned and came out of hiding, and it would only take another half a vorn - maybe two at most - before Cybertron was again the prestigious power it once was, and those who knew him the best also could not deny how miserable their Prime was sitting in a tower in Iacon overseeing such mediocre tasks.

It was near the recharge cycle that Jazz approached Optimus one orn, and, rather than arguing with him or once again trying to convince him to back out of his decision, he instead asked him what he was going to do once he stepped down. It was the first time he saw the brightness of anticipation light up Optimus' optics as the red mech explained himself, and it was then that Jazz learned that he had not always been Optronix the war archivist - he had been someone else before the rebellion: a simple dock worker in Iacon pushing and carrying heavy crates orn after orn. It had been his shift that fateful orn when Megatron launched his first attack on Iacon, the attack which began the war, and Optimus - Orion Pax at the time - had been the only survivor. Barely.

At the docks to pick up a shipment of parts he was anticipating, the old scientist and engineer Alpha Trion had found Orion's battered, dying form and rushed him to his bunker to try to save him, and it was only by Primus' blessing that he managed. Unfortunately, Orion had sustained so much damage at Megatron's hands, sections of his spark itself had been compromised, and he no longer remembered who he was past or present. All he could remember was Megatron's face - his hateful red optics, his grating laugh, and his expression of utter glee as he razed everything in sight. This one memory was enough for him to know he was not a newly-sparked mech, that the white mech laughing at him in his memories had taken something - everything - from him, and it fueled the cynicism and bitterness everyone knew him to have as the archivist with whom they acquainted themselves. At a loss, all Alpha Trion could do was enlist the newly christened Optronix in the resistance and hope he could mentor the confused and overwhelmed mech as the war progressed. Alpha Trion eventually was transferred, but Optronix remained in Iacon where the Matrix soon chose him as Sentinel Prime's successor.

It was after the Matrix filled him and upgraded his mish-mashed body of spare parts from Alpha Trion's bunker with its mysterious power that the now renamed Optimus Prime remembered his past - all of it. When the Matrix merged with his spark, it repaired the damage he had sustained as Orion, and he finally remembered who he once was, and throughout the war, the main thought that kept him going, kept him fighting, was the dream that, if peace was restored, he might be able to return to the simple, calming, peaceful life he had enjoyed so thoroughly as nothing more than a low-class worker. No one had ever heard of a Prime stepping down from his position before, but Optimus swore the Matrix itself had told him, when he was ready, it would allow him because it, too, was no longer needed for now.

No one really believed him at the time, but now, as Jazz looked down on the much smaller form of Orion Pax, he knew they should never have questioned the Matrix Bearer. Jazz had kept in touch with him during the last five vorns of peace as he had all of his closest comrades, more than happy to consider him not a former comrade but a good friend. He could not be certain since he had never known the original Orion, but he doubted he looked much like his former self - after all, Alpha Trion had needed to nearly completely rebuild him. It was uncommon for mechs to bear a mask all the time rather than just for work-related tasks, but after relinquishing the Matrix, Jazz could not ever recall Orion having a face. It, unfortunately, was not helpful to the former Matrix Bearer during his first vorn as a citizen as most still remembered him as the benevolent Optimus Prime and continued to treat him as such. Still, after the second vorn post-war, they finally began to accept him as one of them.

Now, seeing Orion so forlorn and downcast, it reminded Jazz of the first vorn after he had relinquished the Matrix and so many mechs - citizens and soldiers alike - questioned his sanity for giving up his position. Not just a few times did Jazz have to beckon Orion to meet him in a more casual atmosphere so the other mech could vent his frustrations or simply so Jazz could try to cheer him up and encourage him that following his spark was not the wrong decision - the Matrix supported it, and that was all that mattered.

No amount of levity would help now. Orion had not lifted his head since Jazz's arrival. He continued to stare at the reeking fluids coating his hands, splattered over his windshield and grill, and drying on his feet. The fact that none of the fluids were Orion's made Jazz's spark quail. They did not have to test the residual spark signature left on the fluids to know it belonged to the dead mech a few paces away - Orion himself admitted to that, and as it stood, he was the only suspect. Jazz knew in his spark that there was more to it, but evidence was evidence, and the vast majority of the evidence was currently drying on Orion.

The lights finally ignited and flipped through several different spectrums until the investigation team decided on the proper setting and brightness for them to take all of their readings and samples. Jazz heard the booming voice of Blaster near the front of the building as he made his way to the scene, and he knew Blaster too was going to quail seeing Orion like this, but his presence was unavoidable - they needed Steeljaw's olfactory readings and Rewind's luminescent imagery.

Jazz lifted his head when he heard approaching steps and frowned upon seeing one of the other investigators approaching, a glowing set of cuffs in hand to take Orion to the station. There was no sense in arguing - Jazz only worked as an investigator part-time and only held the rank he did because of his performance record during the war. He could get the full story out of Orion at the station.

The soft voice of the mech sitting next to him jarred him, and Jazz quickly turned his attention back to Orion who had not looked up from his hands. He started to ask Orion to repeat himself when the weak, shocky voice filled his audios again.

"I didn't do it."

Frowning, Jazz gently rested his claws on Orion's shoulder as he replied, "I know 'ya didn't. And I'm gonna find out who did."

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-02 01:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] playswithworms.livejournal.com
!!!!!!! Of course Orion didn't do it but who did!!!! *grabs and shakes* And who is the dead mech? anyone we know or a convenient redshirt? Love the history here, of Optimus being all too happy to return to being a simple dockworker - will he be able to return to that life? Or will circumstances dictate that he become Prime again? Or will he got to jail or be executed for his crimes? Maybe he DID do it O_O Maybe it was mind control, or self defense, or or or....

Jazz will figure it ALL out, though, I have faith. Because Jazz is awesome, yes.

Um, no pressure or anything...more? :D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-01-02 04:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mmouse15.livejournal.com
I'm with PWW! Of course Orion didn't do it, but who did?! What happens next? I love how you have set this up.

I am sorry that this was missed in the newsletter. For my part in that, I apologise.
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