2016-06-07 Worth, Justice, Virtue

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Worth, Justice, Virtue
Date 2016/06/07
Location Delta - Velocitron
Participants Rodimus, Ultra Magnus
Summary Important philosophical discussion on the nature of blame and also some smooches

The message that comes to Rodimus arrives from Ultra Magnus with sudden clarity where before all was static. It goes: << Rodimus. This is Ultra Magnus. >> Because it was totally necessary for him to self-identify considering the rest of the data in this communication, but never mind. << Now that communications are restored and reports have been provided, I wanted to check in personally. >>

"<< Magnus! >>" Rodimus trusts Ultra Magnus. He has faith in his ability to deal with simple (simple, ha!) complications to a normal mission. He certainly has faith in Grimlock, Viviqueen, and the rest of the bruisers that went with Ultra Magnus as well. Even so, there's an obvious weight of relief to his voice. The burst of brightness fades as he says, "<< Hound has command. I'm on Delta. >>" He packages coordinates in the message. "<< Did you want to meet back on the ship or--? >>"

The hesitation before Magnus's response comes is not long, but measurable. "<< I reported back to the ship for ... minor repairs, >> "he says, very delicate in his phrasing since 'to remove shrapnel from my head' conjures far more dire images than those that are entirely accurate, for all that there were no strictly speaking medics on his away team. "<< But I don't need to inconvenience you. I can catch the next shuttle down to the planet. >>"

"<< I'll wait, >>" Rodimus promises, and then abandons what he was doing -- sulking, probably -- to go speed up to the landing pad that the Lost Light shuttles are using as spaceport. He slips through the traffic. He could almost be a native, if he weren't such a chunky little speeder. (ARE YOU HAPPY, PENCHANT.) Transforming back into root mode, he jogs up to wait. He's early. He's very early. By the time the shuttle actually lands, he's gotten bored again, and is seated cross-legged on the floor hunched over a datapad.

When Ultra Magnus steps out of the shuttle, he is one of several other crew disembarking on Delta to go do the tourist thing, because why the hell not. It's been an awkward shuttle ride. He sat in one corner of the shuttle and the other bots in the shuttle sat in the other corner and tried not to look at him because looming there being stolid made everything uncomfortable for everyone.

Relieved to be by himself for a moment, he looks around the landing pad, and some of the lingering tension eases out of him in a wilt of his shoulder towers as he spies Rodimus sitting on the floor reading. Probably reading. He paces over and casts a long shadow over him from behind, as though to try and see what he's looking at by force of habit mainly.

As Ultra Magnus's shadow falls across him, Rodimus's gaze lifts to track over those familiar lines. He looks up, gaze brightening with the lift of his smile. From what Magnus can see of his reading, Rodimus is reviewing aid and repair plans marked in Soundwave's neat hand. Rodimus stashes the datapad as he bounds to his feet, reaching for Ultra Magnus. He pulls back at the last second, clasping his arms and then dropping his hands to fold them behind his back. "Quicksight had quite the report." His eyes dance, moving over Ultra Magnus's features as he basks in his nearness.

The worst signs of repair are across the broad bulk of Ultra Magnus's chest and the patched crack in his helm where something mighty was sticking out of it. He's otherwise looked spiffed up and polished. He greets Rodimus's words with a frown, which might be enough to put a damper on the brilliance of his gaze, but then again, maybe not; he's probably used to it by now. "It was an ... uncomfortable set of circumstances. I am not well accustomed to being part of any kind of rabblerousery."

Rodimus repeats 'rabblerousery' without activating his vocalizer. His lips and tongue shape the words regardless. That's a silly holdover. Why would he do that. It's not like he's organ-- NEVER MIND. MOVING ON. "Think you did some good?" he asks in the end.

The question takes Ultra Magnus far too long to answer. He looks stiff. His hands flex into fists and then, forcibly, relax. "It was unquestionably a regime on the wrong side of justice," he says finally. He still looks a little glum, though.

Shifting, Rodimus begins to reach up, then reaches out instead to cover Magnus's hand with his own a moment. "Then you did some good," he says, letting his hand fall after only a brief touch. "It's a lot easier, and often a lot more comfortable, not to take a stand. I'm glad you did."

Ultra Magnus makes a low, rumbling, disgruntled noise in the very depths of his frame. He doesn't disagree. He does, however, reach to drop his massive hand across the small of Rodimus's back, tugging him a little closer to his bulk where they stand on the platform. "If it had been my call, I don't know what I would have done. I followed orders."

Glancing to the side and tracking where nearby crew members are -- not too near, but maybe near enough, Rodimus looks up at Ultra Magnus with a tilt of surprise in the angle of his helm. He moves closer, and places his hand on Ultra Magnus's arm. "You would have done the right thing. You always do." Eventually. He summons a quick smile, curiosity rising. "How's that going?"

"Strangely. You may need to be prepared to brig me, on the occasion of when I pound that mouthy overbearing Dinobot into paste." Because that's-- totally what would happen. Magnus frowns a little, and lets his hand, resting warm and solid on Rodimus's back, stay there for a lingering moment in defiance of subtlety before it lifts. "What's been happening here? Being out of communication was ... hard."

"I'll spring you." Rodimus tilts his head: walk and talk. Leading the way toward the main hub of the relief efforts, he says, "Well, Knock Out's basically the next chosen one, and I'm just barely resisting the urge to throw myself off the city every time I think of that." He says it lightly, but there a thread of tension, of unhappiness, that probably has nothing to do with Knock Out. Probably. "And there's a city that's been in trouble -- bad repairs, stuff like that -- but some medics and engineers are on that. Transit. They were just gonna let them die or something because they were slow. This place is kind of messed up."

Ultra Magnus murmurs in a low voice, matched with low insistence as the weight of his hand falls, instead, on Rodimus's shoulder as they walk: "Please don't throw yourself off the city." He matches Rodimus's stride, massive and bulky and -- of course -- slower than any Velocitronian on Delta. Apparently that's romantic now, though. "That is part of what we saw on Mu."

"What's up with this place?" Rodimus prickles in defensive outrage on behalf of the slow, the blocky, the blue. "Just the kind of shallow, mean-spirited place you'd expect to look to Knock Out for inspiration."

"Even before we arrived the Mu citizens were looking to shake the status quo. We ended up assisting a small group of oppressed miners in their revolution." Ultra Magnus sets his teeth against some other commentary and shakes his head as a slow trickle of air wheezes its way through his vents. His hand slides across Rodimus's back to firm up at the central point of his spoiler. He says: "Perhaps it is an inherently Cybertronian cycle to make determinations this way. Function, speed, size, shape."

Rodimus shifts closer and rolls his shoulders to press back against the touch. He doesn't reach back for Ultra Magnus in turn. There are a lot of reasons, beginning with the practical: it's a lot more awkward for him to reach up and over, and anyway, he probably can't even reach around. Mediumus is so much more convenient. "No. I refuse to believe that." Despite the mountains of evidence in favor. "And anyway, just because something's innate doesn't mean we have to give in to it, or let it determine how we treat others."

"I agree that we don't have to," Ultra Magnus says quietly. "To strive against our worst natures is part of what we're doing here, isn't it?" He presses hard with the point of his thumb even as he gives Rodimus a faint, sidelong lift of the corner of his mouth.

Rodimus's eyes widen when he spots that little lift. Smiling and touching! In public!! He looks a litle -- almost flustered. Surprised, certainly, and pleased -- stupidly pleased, grinning widly all out of proportion. "Yeah," he says. "Yeah, we are." There's a roughness to his voice that seems misplaced. He presses his shoulder against Magnus's side in a brief bonk, then pulls ahead to hurry them through the slow-moving crowd of walkers on their walkies, all too enchanted by the novelty of it to go anywhere fast, so that they can get to the local Lost Light base in reasonable time.

The smile lasts no longer than any of his usual ones, of course -- because smiles that last longer than thirty seconds, etc. -- but Magnus seems both touched and rendered a little self-conscious by the strength of Rodimus's reaction. He falls quiet again, ducking his head as he follows Rodimus's lead through the streets of Delta.

It's in a boring, ordinary meeting room -- not even a large one -- that Rodimus finally stops dragging Ultra Magnus around to turn and face him. His smile is gone, and he looks at him uncertainly. "Okay, uh." Nothing good can follow that kind of hesitating open.

Ultra Magnus settles his weight back on the heels of his heavy boots as he studies the uncertainty of Rodimus's expression with a gathering tension in his own. It reflects back in the subtle straightening of his shoulder towers and the wary lift of the edge of his helm. "Yes?"

"We talked to Navitas," Rodimus says in a sudden rush. He looks down. His spoiler droops. "Me. Windblade. Soundwave. We asked him about the Knights. I haven't told anyone. I don't know if I will. I don't know what to say."

"I take it the news is bad, then." Magnus steps forward. Rarely able to resist the sad droop of the sad spoiler even when he's in far less receptive frames of mind than this, he reaches for Rodimus to claim him in an encircling of his arms. His head lowering as he looks down toward Rodimus's feet, he frowns as he seeks to meet his gaze.

Rodimus buries his face in Magnus's side, surging against him. "Mumble," he says. Well, okay, that's not what he said.

Ultra Magnus simply permits this for a long moment silent, his arm a solid wrap around Rodimus, his frown a deep groove in his expression. Finally he rumbles: "Didn't catch that."

Rodimus noses his way into tilting his face up. He heaves a long sigh, cycling the exhalation of his ventilations through his entire body. It shrugs from his shoulders. "We're not good enough for him to help."

Ultra Magnus frames Rodimus's face in the spread and curve of his fingers. He peers into his expression with gathering skepticism behind his bright blue eyes. He asks: "What does that mean?"

Scrunching his face, Rodimus looks up, clearly upset. "Seemed pretty self-explanatory. He wouldn't help us find the Knights, wouldn't tell us where they are. We're helping save his people, and we still don't deserve to know? It's scrap!"

Ultra Magnus considers this as a new addition to his reality and apparently chooses to reject it. "This from a Titan whose people make determinations as to value and worth based entirely on 'speed'." He lifts his hands away from Rodimus only so that he can more effectively place air quotes around the word. Then he drops his hands again, crossing his arms in a tightening clasp of an embrace around Rodimus's frame as he presses him close against the unwieldy bulk of his chest and side. Mediumus may be more convenient, but Magnus can at least apply a lot of solid warmth to his hug. "You're right," he says quietly, "that is garbage." (He doesn't swear. He'd have to apologize.)

Rodimus buries himself against Magnus's side quite contently, even if he is really ridiculously oversized. "Do you think it's because I broke the Matrix?"

"No," Ultra Magnus says with firm immediacy. "There was nothing unworthy about what you did on Luna-1, Rodimus." Well, of course he thinks that, he was dying at the time.

"What is it, then?" Rodimus turns away, pacing restlessly. "It's the war, right? It's got to be."

Ultra Magnus somewhat reluctantly permits Rodimus to escape his grasp, frowning as the warm weight of him against his side is replaced by the cool breath of absence. He starts to follow and then stops, fingers trailing over the surface of the table in this meeting room. "I don't know," he says.

"That's not fair -- it's not! What were we supposed to do? Stand by and let Megatron turn the planet to slag? Let Soundwave render all the neutrals down for metal?" Rodimus turns, springing back to half-kneel on the table, leaning up and toward Ultra Magnus. "The war was awful, but to not stand against it would've been worse!"

"Trying to ascribe reasonable motivations to a Titan sounds more the province of a priest than a command officer, Rodimus." Ultra Magnus drops his hand heavier on the table and leans forward toward Rodimus where he kneels and leans in. His frown is stern. "I'm sure every bot aboard this ship has a regret to weigh their spark. None of that means Navitas is right. But that doesn't change where we stand, does it?"

Rodimus drags his other knee up and scoots toward Magnus. He sits back, resting on his heels. Not the proper use of a table. "No. We keep going. Of course we keep going," he says, shaking his head. "Just trying to get there might be worth more than we find if we can actually make real change with getting Bots and Cons working together." He hesitates. "But."

"This is a complication, not the end of the road." Ultra Magnus draws the backs of his fingers down the column of Rodimus's neck, frown faint and serious as he surveys his face. His hand firms and steadies against his shoulder and chest as he ducks his head. "But," he almost agrees, quietly.

Rodimus leans, tipping his head to rest against Ultra Magnus's -- this is why he climbs on furniture, Magnus; if only he was smaller, Rodimus wouldn't have to climb things -- in a gentle press of their foreheads as he vents the same air for a steady moment. "I stood before the spark of a titan, filled with hope, and was told I was unworthy," he says in a quiet voice. Back to him, then.

Magnus answers him with a deep, basal, grinding rumble. His voice is so low it is almost more vibration than voice, difficult to hear but for the intimacy of their closeness. "I've spent millions of years telling myself I was worthless. I'll tell you what you've told me, Rodimus. Don't listen."

"Mm." Rodimus twines his arms around Ultra Magnus's neck and leans against him, still and quiet.

Ultra Magnus lets his fingertips trail in a long stroke down Rodimus's back. He tilts his head, lifting it to press the warmth of a kiss to Rodimus's brow. He can certainly not speak louder than a Titan, but that doesn't stop him from repeating himself in his hushed earnest. "Don't listen."

Rodimus smiles, and bumps his head against Ultra Magnus's again. "Okay." It's easily said, but he might need a few reminders. "Show that stupid titan, anyway. We're gonna help so much it's gonna make him sick."

"Indeed." Magnus runs his fingers in another long glide down the length of Rodimus. Then he says, "For all we know, the reason that Titan dislikes us is because we've meddled with his people and helped overturn their speed-based structure."

"Then he's stupid, and he deserves it." Rodimus's engine growls in a little, fierce bite, and he looks back at Ultra Magnus. He lifts his hand to frame his face and gives it a little shake. Just a little one. Tiny. It's a focusing clasp. "I'm proud of you for standing up for the right thing," he says, sharp and bright in his affection. It dulls then, blunted by an awkward laugh. "That's not ridiculously patronizing, is it?"

Ultra Magnus vents a faint snort, his gaze narrowing with humor. He reaches up to take Rodimus's hand, engulfing it in his in a close twine of fingers. "It could be," he says. He adds: "I'm reasonably certain you wouldn't take it that way when I say I'm proud of you."

"That's different," Rodimus laughs. He tries to lace his fingers between Ultra Magnus's. That doesn't work. The best he can really manage, without it being tremendously awkward, is a tangle with the first or last two fingers of his hand. He goes for that one. "I am, though. Just because it was the law of this place didn't make it right."

"There comes a time where there is a higher justice than the letter of the law. Ultra Magnus always knew that, you know. Or he couldn't even have supported Optimus, not from the very beginning." Magnus looks down at the awkward joining of their hands with regret and temptation warring in his expression for a moment before he banishes the wistful edge for something more serious and grave. He says, "To follow the law blindly, unquestioningly, without a firm grasp on the reason and ethics behind it, is not particularly more virtuous than to break it; it's merely less chaotic. However, that justification had better be on the firmest and most rational of ground. Justice demands no less."

As Rodimus looks at Ultra Magnus, and listens to those grave, serious words, a smile warms his features. He leans closer, tightening the wrap of his arms until he can cup the back of Magnus's helm in one hand, and slide his other hand down the line of his spinal support. "My justifications are always rational."

"That's ridiculous," Magnus tells him gently. He loops the weight of his arm around Rodimus's waist, and then scoops him up, hoisting off the table with a sudden shift of weight that leaves him holding Rodimus in his arm, braced against him but held aloft rather than misusing the furniture. "Your justifications are always after the fact."

Rodimus presses his hand more firmly against Magnus's back, balancing the lift from the table. His legs drag behind, toes scuffing the table's surface before at last the table is no longer chair. Or stepping stool. Rodimus noses Magnus's cheek as his smile flares to a grin. "So what? M'full of virtue."

"You're certainly full of something." Magnus says these words, and yet: his hand slides down, and he shifts, gripping Rodimus by both thighs to brace him firmly against the solid breadth of his chest. He tilts his head, angling to kiss his (likewise ridiculous) grin off his mouth.

Let's hope no one needs the meeting room, because Rodimus is clearly intent on putting forth a persuasive oral argument as to his virtue. It might get lengthy. He has to be thorough. Virtue demands no less.

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