2018-11-21 Tactical Exercise

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Tactical Exercise
Date 2018/11/21
Location Lost Light - Command: Prowl's Office
Participants Prowl, Rodimus
Summary Prowl still has a few things to teach Rodimus.

It's way too early for anything. Sure, there's "night" shifts and 'formers can go a while without recharge, but it's smack in the center of what should be restful snoozing when Prowl buzzes Rodimus, over and over. "Come to my office, please."

Prowl's desk has a simple, cyan-tinged grid unfolded atop it. Holographic pieces hover off to the side. He waits, fingers threaded with his chin resting on top like one of those anime villains.

The response that Prowl gets back from Rodimus is borderline incoherent, but suggests that he will probably -- eventually -- be along.

For someone made of metal wrought largely into sharp lines and pointy corners, Rodimus has managed to round it all into a slow-footed slouch as he approaches. His gaze is sleepy and unfocused, over-bright as the light spills from his eyes. His jaw cracks in a full-bodied yawn as he clears his vents of any dust that settled while recharging, and he approaches the desk to lie himself down on top of it in a lean across it. He folds his arms beneath his head to form a pillow. "Okay'm'ere," he says.

Prowl watches the projected lines of the grid intersect Rodimus' armor and then try to crawl up over his head to adjust to the new terrain. "It's not that early, Rodimus. I suspected you might be lethargic, however, and planned ahead." He sets a tall, frosty, metal canister before Rodimus. Yummy foamy ener-coffee. "That's what I wanted to go over with you. How well you can plan ahead. What do you think of when you think of tactics?"

"Hate'oo'smush." Rodimus rolls his head to the side to consider the metal drink. His next words might be less muffled. As it is, he just stares at the drink as he slowly thinks through the question, and whether or not he wants to participate.

"Rodimus," Prowl says more firmly, "What do you think of, when you think of tactics?" He might've waited, if he didn't think Rodimus would just try to zonk out on top of his desk. He reaches to flick one pointy edge of Rodimus' chevron.

"Ow!" Rodimus says, whipping upright clear-eyed, which certainly suggests much of his current manner is more play than fact. He's slightly groggy as he collects the coffee, but not as dire as he'd made it seem. "You're such a fragging tyrant. I don't know, I guess I think of like -- pla...ans. Planning. Planning for things."

"You're the captain. You can launch me into a star whenever you want." Prowl seems bizarrely sensitive about that. "Planning, for multiple scenarios. Can you recall a mission you led where something went south and you had a plan B? Or C?"

Rodimus gives Prowl a lazy smile. "Don't worry. I'm too worn out from my incredibly thorough sparring sessions to bother," he sasses right back. It's a lightness that lasts until the question, at which point he ices up and goes guarded. He sips his ener-coffee very slowly. "Are you trying to make some kind of a point?" he asks, transparently defensive.

Prowl prickles, and his doors flick once. "...I wasn't, but now I'm curious. What comes to mind? I'm not here to talk about your failures, but I do need to know about your approach when it comes to smaller teams. Reports only give me so much."

Rubbing his face, Rodimus settles into a proper seat: feet on the floor and everything. "Everything I've ever lead goes south, Prowl. I'm not even talking about the scrap this ship gets up to. That deserves like -- an entire desertion." He probably means a dissertation. "It's all the stuff before and everything in between, from Nyon to the Magnificence. It goes south."

Prowl lets the quiet stretch out for a few lengthy seconds before breaking it. Then, gently, "Some outcomes are inevitable. But if you plan, you can at least know that you've exhausted everything, and you won't be left wondering. For me, tactics are the first defense against regret."

"The commands you dealt at the meeting - There ought to be at least three backup plans for each part of the mission. What if we can't warp Metroplex out in time? What if Penchant is already dead? What if Soundwave loses?"

The quiet wears on Rodimus, but it's the gentleness that hollows him. He looks grief-stricken by those simple, sensible words, and he puts his head down to focus on drinking his coffee for a little bit before he answers Prowl. Good coffee.

"Okay," he says after a moment, rubbing the last of the sleep from his eyes and slapping the side of his helm to force them to focus. HE'S AWAKE. "I don't think we should plan on warping Metroplex out. We don't know what has been done to him and we don't know what it will do to the city around. I want to destabilize as little as possible while, you know, overthrowing Megatron."

Rodimus leans forward, elbows on the edge of the desk. "We need to plan for Megatron to blow the spacebridge bombs at any second, though. I've already reached out to the colonies to let them know. Unsurprisingly, they're willing to throw a lot of metal behind the fight to retake Metroplex. I'd like to hear your options there. Penchant is probably too useful to kill right now, but there's a strong possibility that he might be so badly fragged that he'll need immediate medical support and could take years to recover."

Then-- "Soundwave." There's nothing else to his sentence. Rodimus closes his hands.

Prowl listens with a growing smile, however slight. "I think banking on warping Metroplex out is risky as well. We'll be on a timer the moment we touch ground. We'd need to crack the defenses hard and fast, so if you think we could possibly have additional troops from the colonies, I'd set them on the front line with Max and Minimus. Come from all sides. Above and below. We have a lot of drilltanks, turns out."

"Soundwave," Prowl repeats, palms turning out with his knuckles on his desk. "If Soundwave loses," he begins, carefully, "And Megatron returns to New Iacon before we're able to break the defenses or disarm Metroplex, basically, worst case scenario. The scenario that's terrible to think about. The scenario that's the hardest to plan for - and that's what we plan for."

Rodimus's spark shrinks from the idea: you can see it in the silence, in the soft unfocus of his gaze. His hands fall to his lap and curl, lace together.

Then: "Right, okay. So. Let's start there," Rodimus says, and looks to Prowl.

"If we've thrown everything at New Iacon. If we've exhausted every other option. If the defenses refuse to break, and Megatron threatens setting off the bombs, we might have to consider a surrender," Prowl looks up from his blank grid, searching Rodimus' face. "Could you make the call on something like that?"

Rodimus's lips part, his tongue curls, and behind the wall of his teeth his voccalizer clicks into static as he starts to say something -- snarl something, really, a denial hot and fast on his tongue. But he catches it before it's spoken, and he looks away. He studies the blank grid, and looks for something in the lines, something he apparently fails to find, the way he keeps searching it. "He'll kill them. The fleet. If we surrender. We saw it, we saw what happens when he wins."

"Yes, he'll kill them, but not immediately. The colonies would remain untouched, and we'd get more time to adjust for a new plan with new parameters. You try to search for little pockets of time when the plan is in motion." Prowl vents a soft sigh. "I'll think more on that scenario so you can focus on making sure it never gets to that point."

The holographic cube-shaped pieces are spread out over the grid between them. Walls are denoted by filled in squares. A blue piece is in the center of a long hallway, with red pieces on either side, closing in on it. "What's wrong with this grid, Rodimus? In your opinion."

"No." Rodimus waves the image to the side, hand passing through it. "You're right. Let's -- uh. Let's plan for the worst. Surrender. Surrender and retreat. We need to be able to fall back in order, and we need to be able to fall back in a way he won't be able to find us. I don't think we should retreat to a single location. Scatter, plan for dozens, hundreds of retreat points if we have to. He won't be able to follow them all."

Prowl looks surprised. He flicks his grid aside to bring up his notes, and scribbles a few things down. "The tunnels we create, possibly. Shuttles positioned far out in the flats somewhere. Make sure everyone who doesn't have a mobile mode finds someone that does." He taps his stylus, frowning. "Why didn't I think of fleeing."

"You didn't have that very important early experience running from the cops," Rodimus says, looking up at Prowl with a glint of his eyes. "You're too busy being the cops. There already are tunnels, especially in Metroplex. And Cybertron itself will help, too," he says with absolute confidence. "Tell people to get in and go down. Metroplex might not be able to help much with that, but I know that Vector Sigma will, if people can't get to shuttles."

Prowl leers. "Someone had to keep the peace," he mutters. "Alright. I like this plan. Vector Sigma would be a tremendous help. I'd forgotten about that." He sets his datapad on its edge, fingers hooked over the top as he studies Rodimus. "You can get back to recharge. I still intend to grill you on scenarios, at some point."

Suspiciously bland, Rodimus says, "I'd ... really rather not, at this point." C'mon, Prowl. Don't conjure nightmares and then trap someone with them. "Let's keep working through things." He gestures at Prowl and his scenarios. LET'S GO NERD.

Prowl eyes Rodimus a moment longer before nodding. "Alright. You set up a scenario for me, first, and I'll go get myself some waking-grade. Back in a few, don't go snooping around." He stands and gives Rodimus' helm a pat-pat as he passes (if Rod doesn't duck out of it). GOOD JOB.

Rodimus's spoiler wiggles as he's patted. Yay. Good job.

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