2016-06-30 Burdens of Duty

From Transformers: Lost and Found

Burdens of Duty
Date 2016/06/30
Location Lost Light - Docks and Storage
Participants Ultra Magnus, Pipes
Summary Pipes runs out of reasons to avoid Viviqueen, but gets help from her counselor.

A steady hum of activity runs through the lower levels of the ship. Although never entirely quiet, there's a feeling of isolation that's impossible to entirely shake.

There are a number of storage rooms in the depths of Deck 6. Ultra Magnus, in his time in the logistics section, has been doing an item-by-item inventory of one of them, making sure that the manifest and digital records match the actual physical determinable contents of the room. It is a little mind-numbing and he has been at it for hours. He is out of his armor, although not in his smallest form; he holds a clipboard as he goes methodically down the list on it, checking off the contents of the shelving. When he finally emerges from the storage room, even his considerable ability to manage under the yoke of the terrible trivium has been challenged. He looks, as he steps out into the hallway, a little glazed.

Pipes has finally resolved to once and for all, for sure this time, do what Rodimus asked and talk to Viviqueen about ... well, something about watching her stuff for her. It's been a long time, colonies have happened, you know. He walks purposefully towards the dragon's lair, but catches sight of Magnus and, vwoop. Diversion. "Hey Magnus, uh, Min-Minimus I mean, Minaaa ... Are you OK? You look a little out of it."

Minimus startles a little on hearing himself addressed. His scarlet gaze flickers and sharpens with a blink as he straightens, lifting his clipboard. "Ah. Pipes," he says after a beat. He offers no guidance on whether it is better to refer to him as Magnus or Minimus, because he's singularly unhelpful. "I'm fine," he says. He looks up the long hallway and then back to Pipes again. "Are you looking for something down here? Several of us have been completing inventory. I've actually turned up almost twenty kilograms more plastic molding for the fabricators than was on the manifest."

"Me, no, nothing, nothing specific," Pipes answers unconvincingly. He looks around, here and there, busy busy you know. "I mean, I have errands to run now and then, and of course keeping tabs on my collection is always a high priority. ... Say, twenty extra kilograms, you say? That's better than twenty less, right?" Let's talk about these things and not about why Pipes is down here right this very second.

"I suppose, although it does lead me to wonder where the inexactitude lies exactly: in the manifest? In the purser's files? I'm reasonably certain it can't be sourced to instrument failure." Minimus Ambus frowns gravely down at his clipboard for a moment, and then shakes his head slightly. "I'd prefer an exact match, but I suppose a surplus is a better riddle to solve than a shortage. I admit, neither question with respect to this materiel could be classified as mission critical." He thumbs lightly at the side of his clipboard, his frown deepening beneath his facial insignia for a beat, and then he shakes his head. "I wouldn't think your collection would find much to add down here."

Pipes is always happy to talk about the collection, especially to avoid an awkward meeting. He starts off eagerly. "Oh, there's nothing here to add to it. I just like to check on it, make sure it's intact, nothing has fallen over. And then once in a while I bring some things down from my habsuite and swap them for fresh things. Or, you know, just look through it some." By the end he's more tentative, as if even he realizes this may seem like an odd pastime. Certainly he's been told that before.

Minimus Ambus looks a little baffled as he slants a sidelong look at Pipes. "How do you determine what you want to keep in your habsuite? Do you have some kind of order of priority?" he says. He considers for a moment, and then adds another question: "I don't suppose you have noticed anything in particular going ... missing ... from your stored goods since you began working with Viviqueen?"

"Nope, just whatever tickles my fancy at the time. I guess once in a while I notice I haven't looked into a crate in a while so I, um, prioritize it." At the mention of Viviqueen Pipes shudders a little ... noticeably? Has he been found out? But he recovers to answer the question. "Oh! Well, yeah, I had loaned out a jukebox to Swerve and it somehow ended up in Viviqueen's ... collection, I guess you could call it. But we worked it out. It's on an extended looooan." He stretches out the last word to emphasize that the time period for the loan is loooong.

"I believe she stated that it was 'held for interest'." Minimus Ambus gives Pipes a look. It is the kind of look that is incomplete because it is not being performed over a pair of half-moon spectacles. "For her envoy, evidently."

"Right, of course, you were there, you know what I'm talking about then." Pipes shrinks under the gaze. Even if Magnus is no longer in command, Pipes considers him an authority figure. "It's all ... arranged and ... fine ..." Bolts, he knows about the envoy thing, too. Did Rodimus cc him? "Envoy. Yeah."

"I admit I was uncertain what she meant by that designation, but apparently she has designated me 'counselor' or something to that effect." Minimus Ambus tips his head slightly to one side, tapping lightly against the clip of his clipboard before he flips it flat against his side. "I attempted to collect some inventory data of the contents of her collection but she seemed disinclined to permit any such thing."

Pipes makes a wild guess that Magnimususus isn't aware that Pipes hasn't been officially appointed as envoy quite yet. He may yet get away unscathed. "She does seem protective. I guess I am too, sort of." So he's stuck with a title in her court too, huh? "So, when you got made her 'counselor' ... like, did she make you swear an oath or something? Like, as if she was in charge of you? Because I don't think I could -- I mean," bolts bolts bolts I said too much is it possible to unsay things "My loyalty is to the ship, and the Captain, and the command staff of course" bolts bolts bolts he's not command right I just need to stop talking "It's a ... CONFLICT OF INTEREST." Wow, that was loud. But maybe he'll forget all the rest of what Pipes said! Wow, the cooling system isn't working very well here, is it.

Minimus Ambus opens his mouth and closes his mouth. "I was not asked to swear any kind of an oath and Viviqueen is certainly not in charge of me by any stretch of the imagination," he says. He stares down at Pipes with mild consternation. "My commanding officers are Penchant and Soundwave," he states firmly. "What is this?"

If Pipes's mouth were visible, its jaw would be seen as having dropped. "When ... when I talked to Rodimus, when he sent me a message about it ... he said I'd have to promise to ... I don't know, it sounded like she'd want me to work just for her, but I can't, because Rodimus said so and of course I wouldn't do that, and then she'd get mad and all loud and then she'd," his voice is very quiet now. "She'd probably eat me. And I'd never get my jukebox back."

"I see." Minimus Ambus gives Pipes a stern look, although this is hardly unusual. Most of his looks are stern, or at least the ones that aren't anxious or unhappy. "Viviqueen is certainly not authorized to eat you, Pipes," he says. "She's under orders not to attack any member of this crew."

"Have you seen her, though? Well, of course you've seen her." Pipes is too distressed about this whole thing. "She's big enough not to have to worry about orders. Plus her temper! I mean, she might just get so angry she'd gobble me up without realizing it." He tries to calm himself down, see the situation rationally, as if the dragon lurking in storage absolutely will not have him for a snack. "But really it's the oath thing. I really thought ... I don't know what to do. She could want me working just for her, but I don't want to, but I have orders to talk to her about it. I don't know what to do so ... I've been avoiding it. All this time." The minibot hangs his head. No-win situation, and now he's just revealed all his dereliction of duty to the most dutiful bot on the ship.

Minimus Ambus frowns more deeply as he ponders this. Then he reaches out and drops one of his green gauntletted hands across Pipes's shoulder. He says, "Your duty to this ship clearly precedes any duty you have accepted with respect to Viviqueen. She likewise has a duty to this ship. To appropriate the arcane language she seems to favor, you owe fealty to the same liege lord. She is not entitled to usurp his vassals."

The touch of Ambus's hand on Pipes's shoulder carries assurance, something the minibot needs at the moment. "Liege lord," he says quietly. "Maybe I can use that. Maybe she'll understand that. Is that what you told her?" He looks up, optics glistening beneath his visor.

"She didn't ask me. Apparently I lack your particular appeal." Minimus gives Pipes a look of swept up helm's edge that suggests lifted brows. "If you need support, Pipes, let me know. I still have the armor."

"Hm." Lucky Pipes. A sigh vents from around his mouthplate. "Thanks. I, uh ... sorry about that. It was, sort of, all pent up. But I should do this myself. I just need to ..." there's probably some knight analogy here he could use but he's not in the right frame of mind to go for it.

Minimus Ambus gives him a grave nod and draws back again, shifting his weight as he folds his hands over the clipboard before him and resets his vocalizer in a low clear of his throat. "There is no need to apologize. I am familiar with the pressure of duties that pull more than one way."

Pipes tries to at least have a partially normal conversation from this point forward. "Oh, hm, your retirement, I guess you mean? How is that working out so far?" Pipes looks at the clipboard, and glances behind Minimus at the room he just surveyed. Pipes isn't sure he himself would be a fan of inventorying, except for his own collection, but Magnus ... maybe. Certainly a possibility.

Minimus hesitates for a long moment as he considers how to answer that question, and then apparently just doesn't get around to it: "I was actually referring to my ... earlier predicament," he says. "The Duly Appointed Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord did ... occasionally come into conflict with the duties of Ultra Magnus, Executive Officer. Though you were certainly present for the, er, denouement of that particular conflict." He looks aside.

"Well, I remember some of it," and Pipes rubs his midsection. Piercing memories they are, so to speak. "I guess with Tyrest gone, though, there's no more enforcers anyway, right? Doesn't matter if he, oh, relieved you of your duties. Probably for the best, anyway." Pipes wonders if getting fired by Tyrest still bothers Magnus. Minimus. Whatever, Magnus.

"Yes. I have my place here." Minimus Ambus seems pretty at peace with this, up until the point where his frown pinches a little at his helm's edge and he adds, "And my duties here."

If there's any dissatisfaction displayed in Magnus's answers, Pipes doesn't notice it. Despite trying to be attentive, he is back-processing how to talk to Viviqueen, given the new ideas from the earlier part of the conversation. "I guess we all do. This is a good place to serve, really. I guess, that's what made me so upset about talking to Viviqueen. I ... I don't want another post. I want this." The rediscovered resolution of his loyalty to the ship, oddly, makes him less afraid of the inevitable talk with the dragon. It's sort of inspiring.

"I agree," Minimus says quietly. He nods, once, in time with this mild, muted agreement. His gaze narrows with suppressed humor. Dryly, he allows a sigh to cycle through his vents and says: "This ship certainly grows on you."

"It does." Pipes's mood is certainly more relaxed now. Being in the calming presence of Magnus is to credit for it. So. What now. "All right. I'll go see if Viviqueen is ... in. If not, well, let me know if you'd like some help inventorying. I have a little experience with it."

"Thank you. I've no doubt of your expertise, considering the breadth of your collection, but I believe logistics and supply have this one in hand." Minimus sounds very nearly like there's a joke hiding somewhere in there, although it's always hard to tell. He gives Pipes another nod, and hoists his clipboard like he is raising a lance to salute before the tilt, or something. All right, that analogy doesn't make a lot of sense.

Reflexively, Pipes salutes back. Old habits. He turns and resumes his purposeful walk to the lair, better armed than before. There's that knight analogy!

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