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2017-12-29 Take Care of Our Titans

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Take Care of Our Titans
Date 2017/12/29
Location Command -- Incident Room
Participants Rodimus, Windblade
Summary Apologies and declarations and infiltration, oh my.

Overlooking the bridge, this room is dominated by the large displays capable of displaying whatever recent crisis is at hand. It is possible to tune into on-ship surveillance in the corridors and major rooms or else pull up a view of the ship's exterior. The tactical displays are probably better at breaking down a situation than most of the people who end up in here to direct one.

A large table stands in the center of the room, glossy and whole.


When Optimus Prime and Megatron first returned, one of the first things that Rodimus did was sort the crew into categories: those he expected to go, those he expected to stay; those who would be difficult to replace, those who were irreplaceable. The lists were sorted, tagged, and organized -- by others, let's be real; Fritz had a big hand in taking Rodimus's datadump and making sense out of it -- and then updated as crew members fell, by ones and twos and even an entire squad, to rejoin the former faction leaders.

And then they were forgotten, as things calmed down.

Now they are back out again, lists projected larger on the incident room's screens, as well as information about the hits on Megatron's speech, Optimus's follow-up, and the slow but growing attention being paid to Windblade's statement. Rodimus is perched on the table with a datapad in his hand, his legs folded cross-legged beneath him, as he painstakingly updates the lists of those he expects to lose in the face of the open call. He's sent Windblade a request to join him, if she has a moment. The message was terse, for Rodimus, and without any emoji at all. His body language reads sharp from the door: stiff, squared shoulders, spoiler set in a high and tense angle, and his movements sharp as he highlights new names for those likely to leave.

Windblade's presence on the ship has been minimal of late. She could diplomat from her office, sure, but sometimes that personal face-to-face touch is what helps ease a situation from tense to productive. So it is in /this/ situation, and it's why Rodimus isn't left to stew for very long after the summons is sent. It takes exactly as long as required to travel from the space bridge to the incident room.

She strides inside wielding her own datapad, and some reasonably good news: "I don't think the Galactic Council is going to declare war, or call for widespread trials. For now. We may want to consider a statement to them regarding the eventual trials of Optimus and Megatron as war criminals though..."

Windblade pauses for a beat, skimming the displays before locking in on the captain. "Ah. Hi."

Setting his datapad to the side, Rodimus lifts his hands in a very sarcastic, "Yaaay." He stretches out of his perch, legs unfolding to hit the ground as he rises with a reaching stretch upward that causes his spoiler to twitch in satisfaction. He turns to Windblade with a grimace of apology for the tone, pairing it with words: "Sorry, that is good news. Better than I expected, to be honest. It's such a pile of slag--." He starts to wind himself up, but cuts himself off shortly, vents stilling as though to deprive the flame of any further fuel.

"Ergh. Hi!" Rodimus lips tilt up in a flashing smile; he's clearly pleased to see her despite the sharper edges. "I'm trying to talk myself out of declaring war," he says, probably not entirely seriously, "and not even on the squishes, but on Megatron. And Optimus."

"It could change but I'm going to continue pulling ears, as much as as I can." Windblade lifts a finger and circles it beside the side of her helm, sketching the appropriate shape. Those things. "So far there's really only been one tentatively positive response, but..." The Camien cocks her head and surveys the shift in Rodimus' posture, the flow of his expressions. What she takes from those combined leads to a lack of expressed disapproval. Not entirely serious? She can do that. "That would be satisfying, wouldn't it? Imagining all the gasps?"

Easing closer, she lets her elbow nudge his arm-- bump-- before Windblade angles to sit on the table's edge. Not because she particularly wants to but it grants permission for Rodimus to return to doing just that.

"Sooo," she muses while her eyes roam the lists, "is the Lost Light going to require replacement crew?"

"Oh my God, it would be so satisfying," Rodimus says, visceral in his imagined pleasure. He leans up against the table next to her with a bump back of his shoulder to hers and studies the lists. "No. And really -- it's not as bad as it could be. We already lost the easy picks, and by now, word about the Hand has spread through the crew. I'm thinking of reinforcing that with a statement to the crew: actually, I'm thinking of reinforcing that with my not-war declaration. But -- what I'm so fragging pissed at Optimus and Megatron for doing, for splintering us, is exactly what that would do. We need to fight Unicron before picking any more fights."

"Mm." Windblade remains focused on the lists for a moment longer before turning to study Rodimus' profile. Somehow, he's won a smile from her, deep and genuine. "It would, yes. They're doing exactly as I'd worried they would... but so are you. You're right. Any declaration of aggression would make it worse." She lifts her hand, curls her fingers and taps knuckles against his shoulder. Tink tink. "Tell me what your not-war declaration entails? I like the idea of spreading what we know through the greater universe. For those on the fence, who don't know what we know."

Shifting, Rodimus moves to take more of a seat on the table and turn toward Windblade. He pulls his leg up to rest atop the table, with his truly oversized foot at the edge a brace for his elbow. "Honestly, so far it just involves a lot of swearing. It's not that I don't care about the rest of the universe, but right now I care most about my crew: about the Decepticons Megatron's threatened, about the Autobots that Optimus is manipulating."

"First rule of declarations, swearing is not helpful. Even if you're really creative, you'll only get the outliers with warped senses of humour." Windblade mirrors the captain, knee hiked and her smaller ankle angled against the table's edge. She hooks her hands over her shin and leans back though, where he's hunkered forward. "I can't have the Council of Worlds respond to Optimus, unfortunately. It would look like damage control instead of a response, so I'm glad you're putting something together. You absolutely should speak to the people you want to protect."

"Not even a little swearing?" Rodimus asks, his tone pleading. "I should find out if -- Minimus and the rest are doing anything about Optimus." His pause is only slightly awkward, and cowardice shows as he says, "Maybe I'll ask Hound. I'll speak to the crew, then, but how do you think we can get the stuff on the Hand out to a wider audience? The Council knows. Starscream knows. Slag -- we could just tell Starscream it would be terrible and undermine Megatron and he shouldn't do it and walk away and he'd probably figure out the best way to do it for us."

It's a mark of how deeply Windblade cares for Rodimus that she reconsiders the no-swearing edict. "Well... maybe /one/ swear, at the end, chosen for impact. Cleverly used, it might add a lot. And it /does/ sort of... capture the atmosphere. And your differences." The plural your, though that isn't a class of difference she'll linger on. Instead she dips her head forward and quietly urges, "You could ask Autobot Command as a whole. All of them. But for releasing that information... just put it out there. Look at how quickly my statement spread," says she who has /no idea/ what a helping boost she'd received from Soundwave. "People want to know. Though I suppose the risk there is that mentioning it is to get them thinking about the Hand. Which could be... problematic without a way to patch everyone at once."

This is a conundrum, and her eyebrows scootch down as Windblade considers.

Rodimus draws back, draws upright, and his eyes widen as Windblade points that out. He rubs his hands over his face with a few carefully selected swears, chosen for impact, muffled by the drag of his fingers of his lips. Mostly it just sounds like the same word repeated a few times: a fricative, a voiceless stop; repeat. He drops his hands to his thighs and drums his fingers. "Okay, so -- like. Gotta open with, 'Gonna tell you this thing, but don't think about it, because that's how they get you,' and somehow not sound crazy putting it that way."

Hesitating, Rodimus studies Windblade, then says, "You've given a statement on this before. Would you be willing to go into your experience a bit more, to help others avoid the same?"

"...or release your statement in conjunction with Metroplex. Both of you, together. Get him to sign off on sharing the video he showed us. Explain that the Quintessons controlled us once and we have reason to believe that they are attempting to do so again, through abuse of the Guiding Hand, and by presenting rebuilt versions of Optimus and Megatron. He might not be as keen on using that word though." Windblade is far more comfortable with making suggestions than exploring the proposition placed before her. With her diplomatic mask off, she's able to shift a little on the table (uncomfortably) and drop eye contact. "I... I'm tempted to say that it might cause problems, to speak about it on a wider stage, with having to keep the various Councils pacified. But that's me being embarrassed. I would, yes."

"Huh. Metroplex." Rodimus considers the idea, tilting his head this way and then that. "Now that's a name with some heft to it. An interesting idea, Cityspeaker." He inclines his head to her as he makes use of the rarely-touched title. "You wanna to talk to Metroplex about that? If you really think telling your story might cause issues on the wider stage, I can ask Prowl instead. And Soundwave." Pausing, eyes narrowing, he says, "Actually, they might be better, considering. You've got a lot of pull with the colonies, but it's the faction mechs I'm most concerned with. You're safe."

Windblade wrestles through her discomfort, finishing up by rubbing the back of her neck before she's able to meet Rodimus' eyes again. "I can ask him, but for a joint statement, it should come from the both of you together. I can help you communicate with him though. It would be nice to see him again," she admits. That, at least, gets her smiling again. "The three of us together would cover everything. But targeting the Autobots and Decepticons specifically, with voices they know and respect... and then me, so the neutrals know this affects everyone, not just those with badges?"

Rodimus nods as Windblade points out the way the three would cover all angles, but as he considers her question, it's Rodimus's turn to look away. He draws in on himself. It's subtle, but to her eye -- naturally perceptive and further honed by training -- more than obvious. "Uh. Hm. Wow, I'm not sure I -- ah. Are you sure you can't just talk to Metroplex?"

"I'm sure," is quick and firm-- yes, she caught that. Gentler is Windblade's follow-up. "It's your statement to make, Rod. Your message to the people you want to protect. I can help you and Metroplex work together but it's yours. That's the second rule of declarations. You have to own them. You have to /mean/ it."

Rodimus scratches a doodle onto the table with his thumb and then rubs it away into a scuff. "I think I'll separate them: a statement to the crew, from me, and then you can work with Metroplex to get something on the hand for spreading to a wider audience, and I'll talk to Prowl and Soundwave about something for that. They don't have to be the same. They shouldn't be the same, really. The crew knows about the Hand, knows the risks." While it's clearly enough that he'd rather avoid speaking with Metroplex, it's also clear that he's not entirely just trying to avoid it. It totally makes sense!

Nuh uh. Windblade's eyes narrow in that oh so thoughtful way she has. Having just suffered her own evasion squirmfest, she knows what's before her. "Why don't you want to speak to Metroplex, Rodimus?" Because there's nothing like targeted questions to ease tension in an atmosphere.

"He might be fine with the swearing."

Rodimus makes an undignified face at Windblade as she fails to allow him his very unsubtle retreat. He hesitates, then asks, "Have you and Metroplex ever talked about -- well, I guess, obviously, you talked about the past. Like the long ago past. But before the war. Just before the war. Have you ever talked about Nyon?"

Up go Windblade's eyebrows. "We talk about a lot of things. When it isn't about work, it's mostly about poetry though. He hasn't gossiped about anything you may or may not have done," if that's what he's worried about.

Venting slowly, Rodimus says, "Okay. So -- I don't know if you noticed, but I know Metroplex. I lived in -- around, running through -- him, when he was all but forgotten, and I was freshly forged. We didn't even know him by his name. He was just an old part of the city of Nyon that was known as the Acropolex. Nyon was his city, kind of like New Iacon is now, I guess. The city grew up around him, and over him, and he was forgotten. Asleep for a very long time. One of the very first atrocities of the war was the destruction of Nyon. And I planted the bombs that brought it down. And I pushed the detonator that set them off. So we've got some, uh, extremely awkward history, I guess. Metroplex's halls are some of my first memories. But I'm afraid to talk to him."

"Oh." That... was unexpected. But where once Windblade might have exploded at the thought of a titan at risk, now she lapses into a silence which ends with her gaze lifting to chase his again. "Then you /need/ to apologize. And this is a good time for it." A pause. "You might be surprised by how he responds, too. They don't process the way we do. But however he responds, you can and should apologize. For yourself, as much as for him."

The idea of facing Metroplex and apologizing causes all of the anger to drain from Rodimus, his limbs to slacken, and his spoiler to angle back and down. He rolls his head back on his neck and looks up, then over at Windblade. He studies her a moment, then looks through her in a way that he's studying himself behind the brightness of his gaze. He refocuses on her and gives her a short nod: "You're right."

"Occupational hazard," Windblade says, too solemn to be /entirely/ joking. There's no smile in evidence. Mostly because, "But you didn't say you'd do it. Will you? I'll go with you. I'll translate, so neither of you will misunderstand the other."

Rodimus laughs outright: "That wasn't an evasion! Yeah, I'll do it. I'll do it." And being forced to commit to it, he settles somewhat, posture easing and expression fading rueful. "Frag, you're a hard one to wiggle around."

"/Also/ an occupational hazard," Windblade tells him. This time, he's earned the grin she's giving, wide and relieved. She leans forward to give his bent knee a pat. "It'll be a good thing. An apology, and a statement. He's either going to be really excited to try something new or very, very confused at why it helps to have him included."

The rueful expression warms into something more genuine as Rodimus considers Windblade's words: "I think I'm a little jealous of your connection to the titans." That, of course, draws up against a harsher subject, and he pauses. "You heard about Udunus?"

Aaaand there goes her smile. Good job, Rodimus. Windblade turns her head, and finds an immediate interest in staring-not-staring at the assembled displays. Her first attempt at a reply ends in a little huff, tight with emotion. The second fares a little better. "That's not Udunus. Whatever it is. It's a tragedy."

Rodimus returns the pat to the knee that she gave him with one of his own, though the reassuring touch lingers longer than a simple pat. "Yeah. It is. I'm sorry." He straightens, touch falling away. "We brought back the staff. It's broken, but the nerds have it, to find out what they can. But titans: that's kind of your thing. And it might be a good practice run for Unicron."

Windblade must appreciate the gesture. She slips her hand over his and answers simple contact with a gentle squeeze. Then, with a suspicious rattle forced through her throat, she too straightens up. "You think there's enough of Udunus left in there that I would be able to communicate? There didn't seem to be anything left of the Knights we ran into at the tower, and the dig site. It doesn't take a Cityspeaker to throw explosives at a titan."

"I have no idea," Rodimus admits, his gaze moving over her features, "but we have Pipes and Lieutenant here, walking around like -- well, maybe not like nothing ever happened, but they were raised too. And they are absolutely there. I know that if there is anything of Udunus there, you'll be able to find it -- and if you plan on communicating with Unicron, it might not be a bad idea to, uh, get your toes wet. Well maybe more like plunge up to your intake, but just close your vents, it's fine. Uh, I think this metaphor is getting away from me."

Primus. This time, Windblade outright hides from that study: she covers her face with both hands. There might be a tiny groan made behind this safety barrier, and her voice is slightly muffled behind it when she says, "You're right." Tit for tat. /But/. "...I hope he /isn't/ in there. Whatever it means for Pipes and Lieutenant." Her hands drop. "Please don't ever tell them I said that."

When she covers her face, Rodimus looks away, letting her hide. He even manages to suppress any urge to fist punch the air in victory, and only allows a quick half-smile for the 'You're right'. It doesn't last. She kills it as effectively as he killed her smile: tit for tat. "I really don't know what to think about Pipes and Lieutenant. Or what to do. Or how to help them, if they can be helped. I'd pray, if I were the praying type. And if I weren't half-afraid that whoever is listening is just waiting for the chance to reach out and turn me into a Rodi-puppet."

"You're safe, unless they learn a way around the patch. But... it's true. I don't know what to do either. I've been... there's so much else to do, and it's just... when is it going to be enough? What this crew has to cope with?" Windblade tucks her arms around herself and hangs her head forward. This is not something she can express any pride over saying. "I'll tell Blast Off and the others to put together a tracking team, find out where Udunus is now."

Aw, no, Windy. Looking over at her curling in on herself, Rodimus reaches to wrap his arm around her shoulder, navigating past her wings. "In my experience? It's never enough. Universe always has something new for you. But we find our ways to carry it. It's easier when you can trust other people to help you with it. You help me a lot, and I'm grateful for it. I'm sorry I haven't always helped you."

"Universe needs to take a break on the heavy layering," Windblade says, almost a mutter. But Rodimus is being sweet and, with his gesture made, she finds her way to smiling for him, sending it with a sidelong glance. "I like helping. Being allowed to help does help, like you agreeing to work with Metroplex. The rest... I'm not always good at accepting help, and I know that. You're fine, Rodimus. I'm alright."

"I'll tell it." Rodimus shifts, drawing away to stand and start sketching the broad gestures of a speech in the wave of his hands: "Forget the crew, the factions, Cybertronians, maybe the first thing we should be addressing a declaration to is the universe. With a lot of swearing."

"Write that one first and get it out of your system." This advise is not without its own trace of humour, a low chuckle which leaves Windblade rolling shoulders and wings back, drawing straight again. She's okay. Honest. "First things first though. Set Intelligence on finding Udunus, and get you down to Metroplex."

Oh yeah. Metroplex. Rodimus's big gestures draw small again, and he braces on the table in a lean. "Right. Take care of our titans. Skeletra Magnus might be using Udunus as his base, so be ready for that, and the Knights under his control to be there. And otherwise, good hunting."

Windblade points toes to the floor and slides off of the table. She drops her hand on his shoulder as she goes, according him a second steadying squeeze. "Like you said, it's a good practice run for Unicron. Past impenetrable defenses and chock full of nasties. And /then/ the real work." She hesitates. "Thank you, Rodimus. For shouldering on."

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