Title: Confiding Doubt
Location: Autobase - Training Room
Date: 17 April 2015
Summary: Set soon after Swindle's arrest, Orion breaks an appointment (date) with Ariel, she tracks him down to find out what's going on and finds out way more than she bargained for.
++ Training Room <BOT HQ> ++
Internally shielded, reinforced and designed to handle all but the most egregious displays of power and force by those inside them, the training room makes use of holomatter emitters to similate any combatant, obstacle or environment. Training gear allows participants to feel similated damage and injury without need for massive repairs, and without a threat to their lives. Smaller practice and interview rooms, as well as lecture halls flank either side of the the facility, where instructors can assess and train students under their command. Everything here is flat brushed steel, moderately lit, floors painted with room numbers and guides towards various training stations.
Orion has had a standing date for training with Ariel to help her with her sharpshooting every week. He has never been one to miss those meetings without giving notice at least. Unfortunately, their latest lesson had been scheduled for the same day that Pax had patrol in Nyon - and the attack that occurred there. While not damaged, since hauling Swindle in, Orion had not left his quarters.
The rumor mill had flown wild over the reasons behind it, but eventually Orion made his reappearance several cycles later.
It just happened to be in the training room where he made that appearance, with his heavy ion blaster firing in rapid bursts at targets downrange. His fire is accurate and deadly, and shows little signs of slowing at least until he has to change magazines as he continues to fire, the barrel of his rifle glowing a faint red from the amount of fire he has released so far.
Ariel is given to listening to the rumor mill, but not always putting stock in it. She keeps her audials open, observing, watching what others do and say, reading their body language and listening to their particular word choice. There's a lot you can tell about someone by how they express themselves - or how they choose *not* to express themselves.
Which brings her to today. She's come to put in her training, Pax or no Pax, but finds that he's here anyways. She can almost feel the unease and irritability in his motions. He's shooting targets as if they were mesh-and-strut Decepticons trying to invade the base.
She says nothing at first, watching him quietly to avoid startling him, and letting him open up and speak when he's ready, and when he has noticed her.
It's only when he moves to change the magazine that Pax realizes that he is no longer alone with his training and thoughts. There's a pause, before he sets down the heavy weapon, and it seems all of his struts move in unison in a sigh of frustration and apology. "I know that I missed our training, Ariel. I hope you won't hold it against me." he offers her quietly, before he leaves the weapon where it was sitting and turns to face her.
He pauses for a moment, considering, before he glances to her to prepare his next question. "I've known you for a while, Ariel. And you've never hesitated to tell me when I was in the wrong." he admits as he meets her optics with his own. "Not that I think I was in this case. But perhaps.. I went too far. And I find myself now in an odd situation. I'm not sure who to talk to about it. But I do want to talk about it. And admittedly.. you're one of the very few I think I can trust to talk to." he tells her as his arms rest to his sides, his hands held in a vague position of surrender.
"You're a busy mech, Orion, I'm not going to throttle my engine and kick my feet if you get busy," Ariel reassures with a soft laugh and a welcoming smile. She walks over to the troubled commander and gently takes one of his hands. "Well, put down your weapon for a moment. Training can wait. If you need to talk, I'd be honored to listen."
Giving her hand a squeeze, Orion considers for a moment and sets aside the rifle entirely. "I know that there is a lot of rumblings that I went too far with Swindle the other cycle." the large mech admits. "I'm not even sure what I was thinking." he admits. "No. Correction. I know what I was thinking. And that is possibly the part that worries me the most, Ariel." he confides in her.
"I had just been in Nyon a few days prior when they had gotten supplies from a ship that the seekers had attacked. I had warned them of where they had come from and that such activity would no longer be overlooked." Orion holds onto her hand, not too tightly, but drawing in some level of connection from her just being near. "When I saw that Swindle had come to set up a black market there, it was an easy decision to take in Windcharger for us to bust the mech and put an end to his shenanigans." Orion draws an uneasy intake of breath. "It was when Hot Rod arrived that it started going watered down. I was hoping that maybe he had been right - Nyon needed more medical supplies. That Zeta may not have been giving them enough. I'm not sure. I never lived that life, Ariel. You're possibly far more in tune with how it was before coming here." he admits. "But instead, he was buying weapons. Weapons he said he needed to protect Nyon from.. us." the mech looks saddened by this idea. "We're not the ones who slaughtered the Senate, Ariel. Nor are we the ones who murdered Fastback and Bumper. And Feint. And Primus knows who else. But all Hot Rod wants to see if the Senate. The Senate who cost us so much, that I stood up against. They're gone now. Zeta promised that things would be better. I trust him, Ariel. He saved my life when Sentinel wanted me dead for standing up to him."
He glances down at their joined hands and catches her other one with his free hand, if she allows. "But what if Hot Rod is right. What if Zeta is not on the up and up? I don't want to believe that, Ariel. I can't believe that. We've come so far. Disposables and low castes have more rights than ever before. Things should be /better/."
"So why are we still so hated and distrusted?" he asks her. "It was as I was looking into the shipment that I lost my control. Among all the supplies and goods that Swindle had.. was Bumper's pistol. I pulled up it's ID code, just to make sure. He stole the damn thing and was selling it to Nyon to use against the Autobots. I.. couldn't take it anymore, and I lost my coolant and went off completely on Swindle. Am I exactly what I swore I wouldn't be, Ariel? Have I become what Nyon claims to fear so much? Just another oppressor?"
It's easy to see why Orion is so burdened and restless as he confesses his worries, fears and frustrations to her. She's glad for them to be alone right now, as these are the sort of things that don't do morale any favors when they become public knowledge. As he takes both of her hands and continues to speak she is quiet for a moment to reflect on the situation.
"Come, have a seat with me." She gently tries to pull him towards a bench near the back of the training room. "This is something we need to step through one discomfort at a time."
Orion allows himself to come along with her. As if he would have told her no and stormed off, right?
"When I was a dancer, my instructor told me that if I was going to be any good at my job, I had to learn how to set aside the constant whirlwind of my own thoughts and feelings, and focus on the dance. For that time when I was on stage, there was nothing but the music, the movement and the performance. That one technique has stuck with me; it was not intended for any noble or higher purpose, but it can be very helpful to set aside all the storm inside you, and focus on just one thing at a time," Ariel begins.
"I've seen them from all walks of life, and I'm no high born femme. There's real anguish out there." She gestures to a weapon a rack. "Picture yourself as having that gun as an altmode. You aren't a person anymore. You're a thing, to be treated as a thing. Your only hope from ignition to burnout is that you won't shut down from lack of fuel, or be broken and bent in some larger bot's hands."
She continues. "Hope is a powerful thing, especially when the very thought of it finally comes to those who never had it. When you finally have some thread of a better life in your hands, you can't bear to let it go, no matter what it costs you. The alternative can become unthinkable. Once you've tasted hope, life is unbelievably bitter if you can never taste it again."
"The Decepticon manifesto promises hope to those who never had it, and the sheer desperation of some bots will cause them to do things they never considered. They won't always think clearly, because they won't want to let go of that thread. They won't always be reasonable, Pax, in their desperation. They will come to see you as the slayer of hope - or as the representative of a force that continues to take it away."
She tilts her head to the side. "The question to ask, then, is that, if things are really better, why would so many still see the Autobots as the deniers of hope? And with that question comes another: Without taking legal permissibility into account, have you witnessed with your own optics things being done by your superiors, past or present, that simply are not -right-?"
Ariel's expression brightens. "I've come to know you and your moods well, and I don't believe you to be a violent, brutal mech. Not for a moment. But I do also know that when something isn't right, you've stood against the will of the Prime to maintain your integrity. If your spark aches this much, it may be trying to tell you to look and listen to what is going on with your own optics.
"I was just an archivist before all of this, Ariel. I've never been anyone that special. Just unafraid to speak what was in my spark, I guess." Orion comments humbly as he takes her hand in his and holds it to his chest compartment for a moment. "This should be the measure of a Cybertronian, not what someone says that they are based on the hand that Primus or some grand design handed them." he admits as he turns his attention to the femme.
"I saw the horrors that Sentinel was prepared to bring forth. I remember the fear of being on the run, but never being allowed to show it because there was too much that was dependent on me. Other survivors, those that if it were not for ability to work together, would have surely perished." he has no doubts that if Sentinel had caught the outliers, they would have been put to the sword.
"I saw what the Senate did to the mech I thought was the brightest spark of them all, and someone I was proud to call mentor and friend and turn him into a cold, calculating, unfeeling machine that allows logic to dictate what is supposed to be and not be in the universe." Orion closes his optics for a moment. When he reopens them, he searches her face for any sign of explanation that he can use. "I've also seen true beauty brought to me and I hope she knows how truly special I find her." he says in quiet admission, slipping that in before he changes the subject so quickly.
"I've seen a lot that happened in the past. But I also recall when Zeta said that things would be different as he became Prime that I want to believe him. He promised a better tomorrow, a future where all of Cybertron would work together. But I do not know now. I have also seen a mech, one that was once full of promise in his words of working together for a bright tomorrow become so corrupted by his situation that he now believes that tyranny can only be coveted by force."
"Is this the cost of power, Ariel? Does any taste of command corrupt so many mechs that it only causes this amount of destruction, devastation and now.. war. Your instructor sounds very wise, Ariel. I will take your words to spark, I promise. There is very much that I need to work on. But I would like to know that there is someone there that is willing to work through it with me."
"They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely," Ariel comments. "There's no one to stop you at the top, not unless you're willing to take wise council from others." That would be the main problem with the Primes: A lack of willingness to council, and a lack of wise council, period.
"You've helped me a great deal, Orion Pax. I'd be happy to return the favor and help you as much as I can." Yes, Ariel is fully aware of Pax's mention of someone beautiful and how he holds her in high regard, but she does not presume that it's her unless he says so. No need to cause embarrassment.
And someday, he'll tell her it's her. Just not at the moment, there's too much weighing too heavy as he presses Ariel's hand to his chest before releasing it. "I had thought Zeta to be different. I still believe he's different, Ariel. But I can concede your point." The mech draws in an intake of air and leans over, hands on his knees as he stares across the room. "I have been so protected by the idea of command and comradery that I have not step outside of.. this badge.." he glances at the badge on his shoulder and coincidentally at her, "..that I may have forgotten what the common mech lives. Or have not observed it for myself." he sighs.
"There is still so much to do however. Between the stepping up of the Decepticon attacks and Zeta's rebuilding of the Senate, I have found myself with more and more to do on my desk these cycles than I should have ever imagine. Careful what you wish for, right?" he asks her with a slightly amused and chagrined chuckle. "Speaking of, Zeta wants Swindle moved from here to the Decagon. I assume it is because he wants to handle his interrogation." And that's when he lets the other shoe land solidly on the ground.
"Or perhaps he thinks that I will not be able to handle Swindle's interrogation professionally. Which is a legitiment concern, considering the damage I caused him..." he considers for a moment, and then his voice lowers, barely the sound of a whisper between them.
"If that explosion hadn't happened, Ariel.. I fear I may have killed Swindle. He wasn't even fighting back. And I just kept.. going after him. Like it wasn't me. But it was me. The whole time. And I hated it. Every astrosecond of it - but at the same time.. it felt so. Damn. Good."
"I'm no psychometrist... but maybe you were looking for an acceptable target to take out your frustrations on. Ironhide seems to believe that if you simply get rid of Megatron, all of this will blow over. He's ... well he's very eager to help," Ariel admits, trying to downplay Ironhide's enthusiasm to 'bust some Decepti-chops'.
"Oh, he's not the only one." Orion looks bemused at the idea to say the least. "The problem is, is that it's too big now. If you kill Megatron, you make him a martyr to his own cause. Nyon would definitely rally to the Cons aide. So would most of the populace. Megatron has made himself.. too big to kill at this time." he admits as he turns so that he may face her properly again.
"Truth be told.. I could have ended this before it all started." he confesses. "Whirl had attempted to kill Megatron, when he was in my custody and Whirl was an officer on my force. I.. stopped Whirl. It wasn't right for someone to be murdered simply because you did not agree with them. I wonder now, Ariel. I try not to dwell on it, but I do wonder."
She reaches up and places a finger over his mouth. "Don't. Don't give in to 'what if', because there is nothing you can do to change the past." NO ONE MENTION BRAINSTORM. "You did the right thing in that cell, letting him go. He wasn't the same mech then, and what he's become is his choice. He's very loudly proclaiming that."
She moves her hand away to his cheek, cupping it affectionately. "You have to accept that even you, my dear super cop, will make mistakes. Learn from them, try not to repeat them, but don't let them eat you up inside."
BRAINSTORM. Is it like that one movie that he watched where if you say the name three times he'll show up? As her finger touches his lips, Orion quiets and then closes his optics against the touch on her cheek. "Primus." he manages faintly as he nods his head against her hand. "You're right, of course, Ariel." he says with a faint smile and then meets her optics with his own.
"We've known each other a long time, Ariel. I.. I was hopeful that perhaps sometime, if you did not want to just train, perhaps when we have some downtime, we could perhaps go spend some social time together?" This is so not his strong suit, but it feels so right to just talk to her about anything at this point. "I mean, I know it's not the same frame, but the same spark is still underneath." he offers helpfully.
"That would be wonderful," Ariel agrees without a bit of hesitation. She's rather glad, deep down, that he asked.
"Great!" Orion says, relieved and excited that she agreed. And then he pauses. "So, where were we?" he asks her as draws in a breath, though complaining about his failures and short-comings seems to have no place in the conversation anymore. She's a lot more pleasing than all that.
Ariel can't help but chuckle softly at Pax. He's cute when he's fumbling. "Target practice, I believe?" she replies, returning her hands to her lap.
"Target practice, right." Nevermind that Ariel scored all direct hits so far. Orion rises to his feet before he turns his attention to Ariel, offering her his hand to help her up. "Well, we should get to it, though I don't know why you bother, you're already a pretty good shot, Ariel." he teases her. "I'm pretty sure you can outgun me by now."
Ariel stands up and follows Orion to the shooting range. "Well then, I suppose the master will have to become the student."