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Difference between revisions of "2018-08-31 True Regret"

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Latest revision as of 02:18, 1 September 2018

True Regret
Date 2018/08/31
Location Lost Light - Science and Medical - Medibay
Participants Rodimus, Prowl, Minimus Ambus
Summary As Soundwave recovers, Rodimus, Prowl and Minimus discuss Shockwave's fate.

Shockwave is in holding.

Rodimus is not the only person walking around the ship on edge, just waiting for this to explode into some kind of terrible trap while Shockwave mono-eye monologues about it all having been according to his plan, but he is probably the one whose responsibility it will be if and when it all goes wrong. That'd be enough to deal with, but Soundwave's gone and gotten his head messed with yet again, where messed with means exploded and yet again means maybe for good. Seriously. It looked pretty fatal.

Soundwave's been medically stable for most of a day with only a wobble or two sending Rodimus bolt upright and medics scrambling to assess and stabilize after First Aid's initial miracle work. He's quiet now, and mostly shielded behind a drawn screen, while Rodimus is slumped in a chair not so very far away with a small pile of cassettes sheltering behind his feet. They are recharging, and fairly well-hidden by the block of Rodimus's armor. Big feet. He has a datapad in hand and he's watching Shockwave's cell feed in the corner and reading a transcript of what little he's said.

Minimus Ambus arrives at the medibay, but he takes his sweet time making it over to the worst-damaged patient. Perhaps it is the looming Rodimus that causes him to make this circuit, or maybe he just doesn't want to be obvious, or maybe he had reason to want to check in with the staff and officers in here before performing this duty.

As an officer who nearly lost a man in the field, Minimus approaches Soundwave's screen at a march. He glances aside at Rodimus but doesn't greet him initially in words. He looks at the screen with a deep frown to his expression.

Prowl is so sick of these radiation treatments. Everything just keeps regenerating. He argues, loudly, across the divided medibay at some unfortunate medic that told him no, and finally makes his way over to Soundwave's section.

"He's fine," Prowl says in a way that sounds like "walk it off", but is surely meant to be more sparkfelt and encouraging, SURELY. "At least, I'm told he's fine."

Rodimus startles and half attempts to crawl up the wall and away from Prowl when the first glimpse he catches of him is a twitching leg curling off his back in his peripheral vision. He regains his cool, but much too late to act casual. He throws his datapad at Prowl. CATCH. He has enough legs to manage it with one. "Nice," he says, prickle-snipping at the tone. He looks deeply sheepish and a little uncomfortable as he looks between Prowl and Minimus. He shifts his feet to better hide the cassettes.

Minimus Ambus gives Prowl a look. The treatments were much swifter in demolishing his hand quills than they were in dealing with Prowl's whole-body retrofit, for obvious reasons: less surface area. He sidles a little away, visibly uncomfortable, but who knows why. General body consciousness? The reminder? Or maybe he just has something to do here:

He comes to the screen. He pulls it open and glares down at Soundwave's unconscious frame. His expression is hard-edged -- harder-edged than one might expect from a hospital visitor, as he surveys what his bright scarlet gaze might tell him, personal observation as a substitute for any actual medical knowledge.

Prowl catches! "What? That's good. We have a crack team here." Minimus' look makes him hunch over the datapad he flicks through. "Well. I'm guessing we hold off on a proper interrogation for Shockwave?"

Soundwave has been fitted with one of the spare heads. His overall aesthetic is a little more aggressively Decepticon for it, with sharper features and a red, red gaze. His bright and shiny finish has been ruined. Personal observation tells him that Soundwave looks -- fine. Mostly. Mostly fine.

"Yes, we do," Rodimus says to Prowl, arms folding over his chest. He watches Prowl flick through the datapad without stirring. Shockwave hasn't said much. "No. We need to move immediately on that. On him. The longer he's here, the jumpier I am. If he'd just make one attempt to escape I'd feel better about it."

Minimus glowers at the shiny finish in frustration. He tells Soundwave, "I should never have taken you on that mission. I should have been able to prevent this." Then he yanks the screen closed again and sweeps his glare across Prowl and Rodimus as though they're next on his list to get barked at merely by existing.

Prowl watches the feed of Shockwave and his lone, blank optic, then goes over the transcript again. "It would be better if we had our telepath-" Minimus' glare has Prowl shrinking against the raised division, "-And we shouldn't rush Soundwave's recovery," he quickly appends. "Are you suspecting Shockwave planned this capture or something, Rodimus?"

"He's Shockwave," Rodimus says, sounding wearied by his existence. He leans forward, hands clasped and elbows resting on his knees behind the guard as he meetings Minimus's glare with level sympathy. "He's too useful to leave behind. He's always too useful to leave behind. So are you. There's no way that you could have prevented it, Minimus. I know you have a justifiably high opinion of your skills, but you're not actually omnipotent."

Minimus looks frustrated but doesn't argue his omnipotence; instead, he turns to Rodimus and gestures with a cutting, flat-palmed swat of his hand at nothing in particular. "It was an unnecessary risk. He is too important to the restorative justice program to let him get himself killed in the field. We should put him--" Minimus looks up and gives Prowl's weird spider legs a glower. "--/and/ you on restricted duty. I'm sure you aren't positing that we're going to violate Shockwave's rights while we're holding him prisoner, by the way, /Prowl/."

Prowl is abruptly and undeniably conflicted. "The program is important," he begins, carefully. "But no one could've stopped Soundwave from helping on the field, let's be honest. And not everything hinges on him. Or me. The... concept is the important bit." Right? Right. He's less defensive of Minimus' accusation, however, and tucks against himself. "Soundwave knows how to handle Shockwave. That's all I'm saying."

For just the lightning flash of an instant, Rodimus looks pissed. His gaze sweeps over Minimus, reevaluating, recalculating, as he steadies the cycle of his ventilations and mutes the ready thrum of his engine as it threatens to throttle hard. The anger -- maybe not passes: not so fast, not so easy -- quiets. Very carefully, he says, "Prowl is right that this is bigger than any two individuals. But if you want to talk about people handling Shockwave, Starscream also managed. Or Shockwave managed him, one or the other.

Minimus flashes the quick edge of a glare in Rodimus's direction. Not being sure what he said that was upsetting deters him from being prickly _not at all_. He runs his hand, in a sliding scrape of hard fingertips over the curve of his helm, and says, "I shouldn't have let him draw fire, anyway. It took me five seconds to obliterate Shockwave once I got /in/ there--." He breaks off, folds his arms and says, "Fine. Never mind."

Prowl stands amidst this unseen exchange of fire, the tension prompting him to cast a hard look between both fellow commanders and clear his voice. "We can use Starscream, sure. I just have a feeling that any true or useful information isn't going to come easily, even with our most cunning interrogators. We might get lucky. Shockwave might assume it's logical to give us information that's accurate because we can't stand up to Megatron's troops."

"I don't--" Rodimus pinches his brow. "Trying to follow your line of thinking is giving me a headache." That's probably to Prowl. He rubs his hand across his face and gives Minimus a last, hot look. "You're so sure you could have taken care of him on your own."

Confronted with this in so many words, Minimus does deflate a little from his thrashing aggravation. His shoulders hunch as his arms tighten in their fold across his chest. "No-- no, I couldn't have. I'm not invulnerable. I just..." He turns and shoots his glare at the screen protecting Soundwave. He admits in a lower, rumbling growl, "I was overconfident in my own plan and I wasn't the one who paid the cost for it."

Prowl finally looks over at the screen shrouding Soundwave. Then down at the cassettes behind Rodimus' legs. "Just apologize to him when he rouses, and work a little harder on your field strategies," he suggests to Minimus.

The banked heat of Rodimus's anger deflates from coal to cinder as Minimus deflates into this last admission. He releases the carefully steady cycle of his ventilations into something the shakes a little before settling in a sigh. "Commanding would be easier if we were the ones who paid for our mistakes. But you don't." He gives Prowl a medium baleful glare and shifts his feet to better screen the pile.

"I don't need /advice/ about /apologies/ from you," Minimus bristles right back up again at Prowl, although this is like-- demonstrably untrue considering their surroundings. He stalks a few paces away from the screen, though, and scuffs his boot against the floor as he looks, saccadic, towards the aftermath of their last adventure that is written literally all over Prowl's body and then looks away. "...rrf," he rumbles, like the beginning of more words that gets cut off into just a grumpy noise.

Prowl wars with his own sense of pride here. His many hairs prickle and shift as he works through his salty thoughts to land on a resolution, which turns his sharpened stare blank and flat. "What exactly are Shockwave's rights, here and now, Minimus? Given the situation on Cybertron?"

Rodimus quiets, looking between the two, and then to his datapad, still in Prowl's hands. He doesn't ask for it back. His gaze shifts to the screen and past it, to tarps folded near the slab. He rises, going over to sort through them for one to drape on his seat and provide a better shelter than his feet were offering. Behind him, Soundwave remains largely still.

Largely.

There's a shift along his side, where the cords that remain from his Quintesson-Knight hybrid artifact are spooled. One begins to unspool, now. To reach. His vitals remain steady.

Minimus Ambus looks blankly at Prowl like he doesn't understand the question. "Why would that have any impact on the rule of law?" he says, in a tone that is halfway between genuinely mystified and you know better than this. It's like he's going back and forth between them fighting. First Soundwave, then Rodimus, now Prowl. Next, he'll kick his own ass.

"I'm hoping it might have an impact on you. Soundwave very nearly died from this mission. We should get the most out of our victory. We've used telepathy before, safely-" Prowl pauses to watch Soundwave's cords unspool and reach. "That's a good sign, right?"

"That's not how this works. You don't get to measure up the cost of your last action and use it to justify your next," Rodimus says, heated enough as he looks back at Prowl to be -- at first -- oblivious to the direction of his gaze or his words. And then: a familiar touch, as the unspooling tentacle wraps around his arm, and holds fast. He twists, expression lost in the turn, but Soundwave continues to lie there unresponsive but for that one touch.

"Within the rules. Shockwave may consent to the procedure, or we can obtain a warrant," Minimus Ambus says with a deep frown. "In this case, I think it makes the most sense to petition for the warrant from the Council of Worlds since we plan to bring our other ... judicial needs there." He glances at Rodimus and his gaze lingers just for a moment on the coil of tentacle around his arm, and then he looks away quickly, as though merely by standing there he is inadvertantly invading privacy that he has no wish to intrude upon. "Anyway, Shockwave may yield to the logic of the situation considering the inevitability of the warrant, or not. That's up to him. We do this right or we don't do it at all. No compromises."

"I'm not trying to take advantage of someone," Prowl says with renewed heat, the fierce cyan brightening his gaze as he looks between Minimus and Rodimus' spoiler. "I'm not trying to coerce someone, or threaten someone, or inflict anything cruel and unusual. I'm on your side, damn it, and I'm trying to help. You can doubt and scowl, and make your troubling 'hrff' sounds," to Minimus, and then to Rodimus, "But don't assume I'm over here scheming, waiting to find a way to screw someone over. Sure, we'll do it right. We'll do it so right. I'll get this warrant."

Rodimus lets the argument fall to the side: he doesn't answer Prowl, with his attention instead on the banks of unresponsive monitors. He slides his hand over the coil of Soundwave's cord around his arm, but there's no response. After a moment, his fingers curl over it, and he turns back to them, still schooling his expression back to blankness from bleakness. "Okay. Just -- get your warrant."

"You're the one /asking/ what /rights/ mean like you haven't been in law enforcement for /millenia/," Minimus snaps and prickles back at Prowl for his reaction. He could say more, but something stays his tongue: it's a visible slowdown of his bite, and it comes with a slide of his gaze over Rodimus. He looks away again and says, "Is Shockwave a candidate for restorative justice?"

Prowl works his jaw but says nothing. He lets the datapad clatter on the nearest cart, done with falling back on Shockwave's ominous mug.

Rodimus snorts. "He literally can't feel true regret." That's probably an awful thing to say about someone a victim of Autobot shadowplay.

Minimus Ambus does not seem entirely sanguine about this as a dismissal of the entire concept. He gives Rodimus a distinctly uncomfortable look, but he doesn't raise any issues about the awkwardness of where that feelinglessness came from; he just says, "Retributive justice is about punishment. Ultimately, is that not about remorse?"

"Where are you going with this? You want to offer it?" Prowl asks, incredulous.

Rodimus drags his hand up his face to press his knuckles to his brow again. These two keep giving him headaches. "What do you mean? How is retribution about remorse but restorative isn't? If he doesn't fragging feel bad about what he did, why should he get the chance to -- I don't know. I mean, what's stopping him from doing it all over if he doesn't recognize it was wrong?"

Minimus shakes his head. "Justice isn't about emotions," he says. "It's about fairness. It's about consistency. It's about right and wrong. Shockwave isn't a horror because he is without feeling. He is a horror because he has chosen reason unbounded by ethics." He folds his hands behind his back, twining his fingers together as his shoulders, again, hunch. "I'm just... concerned that we are prepared to offer restoration to our enemies only once we like them."

Prowl fails to come up with an immediate response, forced to think. And think. "...Who's offering? We're not even sure this is going to work yet. I imagine we'd have to... trust the public, eventually. We let Starscream become the President, didn't we?"

Rodimus looks guilty, then annoyed he looks guilty, then more guilty for being annoyed. His grip on Soundwave's tentacle tightens, and the cord begins to retreat. For a moment, he tries to clutch at it, but then he lets it pull away. He folds his arms over his chest and gives Minimus a slightly sour look. "That's the point, though. He chose it. He's never chosen otherwise. If he did, then maybe, but he hasn't."

As Prowl speaks, Rodimus immediately prickles: "I didn't." No, he fucked off in a ship instead. "You might've let Starscream claw his way to a crown, but we were busy." He refuses to take blame for that one.

"When does it have to come in order to count?" Minimus asks Rodimus very quietly. He shakes his head and then looks away. "Perhaps it's a moot point. Perhaps he won't seek it. Perhaps mercy is as alien a concept to him as justice. Yet the consideration is as much about us -- about our governance, about our honor as a society -- as it is about the accused." He ducks his head, and then lets his shoulders slump slightly. "I'm sorry," he says. "This is ... a terrible setting for this discussion. You have ... much on your minds. Both of you."

Minimus' disarms the pointed snarl Prowl had worked into his lips. He simmers and evens out with a faint sigh. "We can discuss it later. It's important. We can come up with a process and stick to it," he assures. "I'm glad your trap was successful, but I'm sorry Soundwave suffered the brunt of it," he says to both of them, and to the hidden tapes as well.

"It has to come up literally ever, at any point," Rodimus's shoulders hunch with the prickle of his frame. "I can't believe you're standing here advocating for Shockwave." His arms cross a little more aggressively rather than address anything else they are saying.

About to let the whole thing drop in the wake of Prowl's concession to the time, place and manner of this discussion, Minimus gives Rodimus a long look, and his lips press into a thin, tight line. "Justice is fair," he says, "or it isn't justice. It's something else."

Prowl drops his hands to his sides, exasperated. "We're not getting anywhere."

Between Minimus and Prowl, Rodimus shuts up. He glances to the side and provides no further argument.

Minimus Ambus turns, his shoulders again drawn taut, and begins to walk away. Unusually tense, but then, maybe it's not _that_ unusual.

Prowl lingers for a moment after, limbs drawn tight against his back. "I'll get everything prepped and you can let me know how we'll proceed tomorrow," he tells Rodimus, and turns to depart. If he walks slow enough he won't have to awkwardly pace with Minimus.

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