2016-06-20 Early Retirement
From Transformers: Lost and Found
|Location||Lost Light - Recreation -- Library|
|Participants||Red Alert, Ultra Magnus|
|Summary||Red Alert and Ultra Magnus both thank each other for their service.|
Meant as a place for quiet study and public record, this storeroom is a repository of information. Whole collections of datapads fill shelves along all of the walls and the multiple diving partitions, giving the space a very 'full' feeling. While many of these pads contain a copy of Cybertronian knowledge and study, many still are empty, meant to be filled with what is discovered from the continuing exploits of the Lost Light. Both a library and record hall, this room shares what is known and means to add to it with what is found.
Inside the entrance is the main desk, unmanned, but the terminal there serves as a nexus to track what datapads have been checked out and by whom. From this entry, there are stairs down and up as there are two levels to this library, one thematically purple and the other predominantly red. The central connecting space is open, allowing for those below to view who might be above and vice versa.
Red Alert moves through the shelves of the library, strangely calm and at peace. One of the quieter places on the ship, surrounded by information, it brings him a sense of comfort that few other places can provide him. Here he is shielded from many of the fears that plague him, and he dares to hum a tuneless little ditty as he fetches a datapad off the shelf and finds himself a seat. Convinced he is alone he finally lets his guard down and relaxes into the chair, putting his knees up so he can read the datapad curled and comfortable.
Red Alert's unusually powerful hearing is enough to forewarn him of the heavy tread through the library that means his solitude is necessarily shortlived. Ultra Magnus rises from the bottom flower with a clank of his heavy foot against each of the spiraling stairs. He is carrying a datapad in his off hand, waggling lightly against his palm as he frowns.
Red Alert is weighing in his mind whether he dares be a little rebellious and put his feet up on the table when he hears a dull thud from somewhere in the library. Then another one. He is on his feet in an instant, datapad clutched tight to his chest and audials strained for the source of the noise. It resolved itself into heavy footsteps, which mount the stairs and come toward him. Red tenses with the sudden urge to flee, but as a pair of antennae appeared from the direction of the staircase, followed by a blue helmet and a familiar frown, he let some of the tension drain out of him. He can't say he trusts Magnus, because he doesn't trust anyone, but Ultra Magnus is low on his list of suspicious characters.
"Sir," Red says automatically, forgetting momentarily that Ultra Magnus has stepped down.
"No need for that, Red Alert," Ultra Magnus says mildly as he steps up around the last curve of the stairs. Pacing a few steps closer, he pauses beside the long line of the shelves with one hand lifted to rest his fingertips against it. Head tilting slightly to one side, he gives him a look of faintly furrowed brow, the edge of his helm heavy over his bright blue eyes. "I no longer hold an officer's rank."
Oh. That's right. Red mentally shakes himself for forgetting. He's also halfway to a salute now that he notices, and he drops his hand feeling sheepish.
"Of course si--um--of course." He fidgets awkwardly, rotating the datapad around in his hands. "How should I...address you, then?"
"How long have we served together?" Ultra Magnus asks, almost rhetorically, but he holds up a hand to belay what he's just said, spreading fingers in an open gesture, before striding forward to stand behind -- not Red Alert's chair, because that would be rude -- but one of the other chairs in the reading nook of the library. He says, "Never mind. Magnus would be acceptable. Or Ultra Magnus, if you would prefer." Ultra Magnus, of all people, would never object to somebody performing the formal address to the informal, after all.
Red furrows his brow at the question. "Must be, hrm, a few million years at least, and I've called you sir in all that time. It may take some time to adjust, but I'll do my best. Magnus." He adds that last part on slowly, as though trying to get a feel for the shape of it. He shakes his head after a moment and then takes his seat again. No, it's too strange. He'll just not call him anything for the time being. That would be easier.
For a moment he looks like he's going to go back to reading quietly, but he keeps glancing up at Magnus, and then at last he speaks again. "Is it strange? Not being in command anymore, I mean." He looks away suddenly, regretting his decision to speak but unable to take it back. "It's strange not having you as commander," he admits.
"Yes." Ultra Magnus runs his fingertips over the back of the chair and then, slowly, maneuvers around it to sit down in a long, slow folding down of his massive frame into the seat, which is at least sturdy enough to take his weight after an initial creak that threatens the dignity of the moment. "It is strange. It will take me time to adjust, too, I think. The work in logistics is suited to my skills but ... at times I have found I do forget myself." His jaw tightens very slightly with the shake of his head, a cue to some unlost tension. He says, "In the field, particularly, it has taken ... an effort. But -- in ways it is--" He hesitates over his word choice for a long moment, but as he looks up towards Red Alert with a deepening frown across his brow as he says, "--a relief. You may be able to relate."
Red Alert looks back down at his datapad, the situation suddenly hitting too close to home for comfort. He stares at the words on the screen but they don't make sense, and all he can think about is Ultra Magnus's surprisingly soft admission. Red lets his shoulders slump as he ex-vents, and switches off the datapad. If Ultra Magnus can trust him with this, then he should try to trust him back, even if it's not in his nature.
"Yes it's...been an adjustment," he confesses the feelings that he has previously only told to Rung. "When I first woke up after my--after what happened, I wasn't sure what to make of it. Tailgate has done a fine job of running things in my absence, and perhaps I was--" he bites back the word jealous, and then tries again-- "Sorry that I wasn't able to perform my duties as well I should have." He looks away again, regretting that he no longer had the datapad to distract him, and carefully says, "but you were a fine commander. It's a shame to see you step down."
"There's no need to apologize. Your long service honors you, but your health is important." Magnus hesitates for a moment over the reasons for his own withdrawal, and then he says, "I understand that it has been troubling for a number of the crew. I heard from some of them about it personally. But I believe it was the right decision for me."
"I...didn't mean to judge," Red Alert shakes his head quickly. "You have your reasons. And your wellbeing is important too. I suppose what I'm trying to say is..." He gnaws his lip, fumbling with the words. "I'll miss you?" He blushes suddenly, knowing that's not exactly the right thing to say. Ultra Magnus isn't going anywhere after all. "As commander, I mean. I always knew that you would always give the best orders for the situation, and never abuse your command." He hesitates on the 't' word, but it's not quite right. Not yet.
"Look I'm not saying this right, but maybe this will." And he fumbles in his subspace for a minute and draws out a datapad. It's a card, one he intended to give to Magnus before but never felt the moment was right. The message is short but sincere, thanking Ultra Magnus for his years of dedication to the Autobot cause and his soldiers' wellbeings. Red Alert hands it over and waits nervously for Ultra Magnus's reaction. "It's not much," he adds, "but thank you."
Ultra Magnus resets his vocalizer in the clear of his throat, gaze dropping and then lifting again. He is a little awkward, almost flustered, in greeting Red Alert's acknowledgment that he will be missed.
Magnus reaches out with his large hand to take the card and looks it over. His expression is revealing, or at least, more than it usually is. He looks very touched. In this private moment between the two of them, he seems much more comfortable accepting the sentiment than he was surrounded in a room full of people all talking at him at once (this is not actually how the party went, but it is amazing how perception can alter memory). He turns the card over in his hands and looks up at him, leaning forward slightly in his seat as he lowers the card between his hands. He says, "Thank you. For this. The legacy of Ultra Magnus and of his work -- my work -- is very important to me. I-- I appreciate it.
Red has no more words left to say. He already poured too much of his spark out already today. But as Ultra Magnus thanks him for his card and looks honestly glad to have gotten it, Red does something he hasn't had much occasion to do. It's awkward, feels kind of strange, and he doesn't think he's got it quite right, but he does it anyway.
Red Alert smiles.
Ultra Magnus doesn't smile, exactly, but his gaze is warm as he meets Red's, however temporarily before he glances aside. He leans forward and proffers his hand to Red Alert for the solidity of a clasp. Between retired officers, maybe. Between equals.
When that's done, he rises, giving him only the gravity of a slow nod, and moves off to lumber through the library, leaving him again to the comparative stillness of the library.