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Title: Sound Judgment

PCs: Prowl, Arcee, Ultra Magnus

Location: Decagon - Iacon

Date: 17 October 2014

Summary: Arcee gets lectured by Prowl and Ultra Magnus, and receives her first assignment...it is not a good day.


      Arcee has been summoned to the office of the Autobots' second-in-command at their central base in Iacon. According to the memo, Prowl wanted to have a word with the fembot...but knowing him, it's probably quite a few -words-. Words that she probably doesn't want to hear.

Somewhat surprisingly, Arcee actually shows up rather promptly. Either being a new Autobot is really important to her, or she just wants to get this over with and get on with her life. "You wished to see me?" she asks politely, trying to keep her expression as completely poker-faced as possible.

Arcee has been summoned to the office of the Autobots' second-in-command at their central base in Iacon. According to the memo, Prowl wanted to have a word with the fembot...but knowing him, it's probably quite a few -words-. Words that she probably doesn't want to hear. 

Somewhat surprisingly, Arcee actually shows up rather promptly. Either being a new Autobot is really important to her, or she just wants to get this over with and get on with her life. "You wished to see me?" she asks politely, trying to keep her expression as completely poker-faced as possible. 

Bland is not an uncommon expression for Ultra Magnus: it appeals to him on some innate level, the evenness of feature, the symmetry inherent in a blank face. Neutral. He stands flanking the desk with feet planted wide, solid and blue upon the floor, and his gaze, leveled upon Arcee as she speaks, is one of sober intensity. He nods to her without explanation for his presence, saying only, "Thank you for your punctuality." His courtesy is as neutral as his expression. He glances aside at Prowl after he offers it.

Prowl looks up from examining a roster somewhere. "I did." Turning around to face her fully, he folds his arms in front of him on the desk. "I have an assignment for you." he says, his face as neutral as Magnus'. "But first, I want you to tell me in your own words what being an Autobot means to you."

Arcee thinks about this for a long moment. At some point in the not-so-distant past, she would have been completely panicking at such a question. But after her most recent discussion with Elita, she feels a comfortable amount of job security. She may wash out as an Autobot -- especially if THIS dingus is in charge of new recruits! -- but that's okay, she thinks to herself. Even if this goes terribly wrong, she has a back-up plan in place. "I joined because I felt I had more of a role to play in the current state our society's in. I realize you're probably looking for a very concrete answer, such as, 'I have amazing fighting skills' or 'I possess vast knowledge of the political machinations at play'...to be honest, I really don't. I worked as a Senate aide prior to joining. But I don't want to do pointless office work when I could be something much more...work toward stability and order in society, not just ignore things and become part of the problem."

"In so far as there are correct answers to personal questions, that answer is correct," Ultra Magnus states with the kind of reassurance (i.e., not very much) that might come from a neutral-faced mech towering over a desk with implacability thrown across his weighted pauldrons like a cloak. "The Autobots can only perform that real function if they are a force for order."

Prowl listens to Arcee's miniature speech, nodding slightly at the end. "I asked you what being an Autobot means to you, not why you joined, but I suppose that was an acceptable answer." He nods at Ultra Magnus' comments. "Precisely. Couldn't have said it better myself." He stands up, holding his hands behind his back as he starts to walk over to where Magnus is standing. "Order and stability are key to maintaining a functional society. Therefore we, as Autobots, have been tasked with ensuring that continues in a chaos-prone universe. Thus, we ourselves have to make sure that our ranks are the -picture- of orderliness. How can we ever expect to keep order in a chaotic world if we ourselves cannot maintain discipline within our own ranks?" He pauses, folding his arms in front of his chassis. "So tell me, Arcee, what does maintaining order and discipline within our own hierarchies mean to you? Does it mean demanding information from your superior officers, and then speaking snidely to them when denied such information?"

(Oh, here we go,) Arcee thinks to herself. "No, that was a poor judgment call on my part to say the least," she admits. "Look, that was...not a good time for me. A *very* short time prior to that moment, I had been taken hostage by a madman, had a bomb forcibly implanted into my chest, and then instructed to go find a number of mechs on this crazy person's personal 'kill list'. Maybe you've been well trained to know what to do when something like that happens, but I haven't had the same fortune, and it was really very distressing to me. If it wasn't YOU, it would have been someone else."

Gaze narrowing in his study of Arcee, Ultra Magnus considers her for a long moment spent implacably silent. "An appropriate course of conduct when addressing a mistake, or ... poor judgment call, toward a superior officer," he observes, "is apology, not excuse." His weight shifts subtly in place, his shoulders setting themselves with his hands behind his back. His frown seeping back into his expression, he says distantly, "For future reference." He studies a point on the far wall for a moment, not as though he is actually looking at the wall, but almost as though he is running through lists behind his eyes. He says, "There is little room for subjectivity in a chain of command. The ability to control yourself is critical to smooth functioning in any operation."

Ultra Magnus' words again ring true, though Prowl isn't overly concerned about an apology. He is more concerned about what Magnus said -after- that. Moving forward, not looking back. Not regretting the past. "Exactly. When you have placed yourself in a position such as this one, you will find that allowing circumstances to compromise your ability to make a sound judgement call may have dire consequences. If you want to 'make a difference' in this society, and effectively 'work toward stability', as you say, without burdening your team more so than you are assisting, you simply -can't- let those things degrade your clarity of mind. Because you -are- going to stumble upon them again in this line of work. I can almost guarantee it."

"So are you ready to deal more efficiently and effectively with challenging or distressing circumstances from now on? You will not allow them to compromise your ability to pass sound judgment?"

"I will do a *better* job of it, absolutely, if that's what you're getting at," Arcee says, already thinking this entire situation is beyond ridiculous. Yes, she screwed up! She knew mechs who screwed up even worse than her, a thousand times a cycle, and no one EVER called them out on it. "But let me remind you again. I'm not a pre-programmed supercommando. You seem to think I've had ample training to deal with any possibility. Believe me, I would love that to be the case, but unfortunately, up until very recently, I did primarily office work for the Senate. I *am* learning how to use weapons. I think I've become fairly accurate with a laser-rifle. I bring that up just to show you I'm *trying* to broaden my skills, without needing to rely on anyone else. To become better? Sure. But I'm not perfect."

"Ah," rumbles Ultra Magnus, with a little restrained sigh of a noise as he returns his gaze to Arcee again. "If you require more training to correct your deficiencies of personal discipline, it can be provided." He tips his hand, and then lets it fall to rest against the desk. Even his gesture is constrained: a tap, tap, against its surface. The weight of his gaze is steady. "You can either take on an assignment and perform your duties to form, or you can take on more training because you aren't ready to function at a professional level." Now he glances aside at Prowl, frown pulling at his expression.

Prowl seems satisfied with this answer. "Excellent. I never said I expected you to be perfect, but I do expect you to improve at an appreciable rate. So it's good to hear that you've been training hard, and have a definite desire to do just that."

He glances up at Magnus. "Oh, I think she's ready." After all, she just finished telling them how she's been working hard at learning the ropes of being an Autobot. "Besides, it's about the right time for a first exam, don't you think? Give her an opportunity to put all that training to good use."

The officer moves back over to his desk, and picks a datapad up off of the top of a perfectly aligned stack of documents, glancing briefly at it before he hands it to Arcee. It contains suspect data on a certain Blast Off, who is a wanted criminal. "Recognize him? Currently at large and on the run from the law for at least 1 count of unauthorized space travel, 3 counts of homicide, and most recently, 1 count of assault and attempted homicide resulting in severe injury to the victim. I am making it your responsibility to find him and bring him in. -This- is the sort of work you ought to be familiarizing yourself with, Arcee."

Arcee stares at the tablet, then looks at Magnus and then Prowl as if she's fairly sure they're both about as sane as her new 'friend' Drift. "..." She looks back at the tablet. "You know he's Ex-Vanguard. Right? Trained sniper? Trained *fighter*? I mean, I...I'm not sure who you are," she admits to Magnus, "But I'd like to think I know what kind of a mech Prowl here is...and...if you haven't been able to bring him in yet...whatever makes you think that I can?"

Ultra Magnus looks back at her, registering her (understandable) consternation implacably. "Your assessment of the fugitive is accurate," he says. "We have received information from confidential sources that he is currently manifesting a ... story that would place him at the center of a conspiracy that you are uniquely situated to take advantage of. Provided you follow all correct procedures, and take sensible precautions for your own protection, /if/ you are prepared to keep a cool head and maintain your professionalism, Prowl's confidence in you will not be," he pauses, glances at Prowl again with a visible weight of doubt in the set of his optic ridges, and then finishes his sentence with possibly the Magnus-tactful version of what he is thinking: "... misplaced."

"Yes, I am perfectly aware of that." Prowl replies, his face a wall of cold indifference. "But I have confidence in you, Arcee. You have been training for some time now, as you've already explained. Additionally, he is a sniper. Therefore, he is not well-suited to close-quarters combat. It's all about knowing your enemy. Knowing when, where, and how to strike. And if you do it right, he will fall right into your hands."

He glances up at Magnus, sensing that slight bit of doubt in the other Autobot's visage. It was expected, but Prowl isn't second-in-command for no reason. He turns back to Arcee. "I spoke to you earlier about trust, didn't I? If you are going to be functioning member of this organization, you must learn to trust your superiors' judgment. Sentinel Prime didn't appoint me as his second-hand mech and advisor for no reason at all; if he had, I wouldn't have accepted it. Therefore, if I believe you are fully capable of executing this task with calm professionalism, then you likely have good reason to believe it as well. And, as Magnus has already mentioned, you have strategic value in this particular situation--I know you have met him before. He knows you, thus he is more likely to let his guard down and begin to trust you. If he doesn't trust you already."

Arcee silently remembers one of the last things Rung ever said to her...he was upset to learn that she had decided to join the Autobots. If she had misgivings about it at that particular moment, she's having *serious* reservations about it now. Where was the payoff in this 'justice'? To lose a dear friend, betray him, and get some proverbial pat on the back from these stone-faced mechs for all the trouble? But then again...what choice did she *have*? She'd probably be hunted down like a turbo-rat and put in jail if she refused to follow through. This entire business was sickening to her. Just disgusting.

"Will there be anything else?" Arcee asks.

"Remember," Ultra Magnus says sternly, tapping a single fingertip lightly against the edge of the desk and then withdrawing his hand, "that he is to be brought in alive. He is to be held on suspicion and accorded all the rights and protections of an accused suspect so held." After a beat's pause wherein he apparently considers Arcee's relative levels of experience with the law, he adds: "If you have any questions as to the necessary protections I can ensure you are provided with an explanatory pamphlet."

Prowl nods firmly at Magnus' assertion that Blast Off is to be brought in alive. "Yes, he is to be arrested, of course, not killed." As if that's going to be an issue with Arcee. Well who knows!

"That will be all, for now. You are still a fairly fresh cadet, so we will take things one assignment at a time, for now. Do you have further questions about the assignment, or about any of the information in that suspect file?"

Arcee barely even looks at the datapad, although she does take it and file it away for safekeeping. She's pretty sure if she gets drunk enough, she'll be able to pore through the file and find some little tidbit of information on her best friend that she can exploit. Maybe eventually, she can just lose that part of her that hurts so damn much. Hell, look what a long time of hard living did to these mechs! Now why is she having such a difficult time fully appreciating that? "No, I think I have everything, thanks," she says blandly.

"Good." Prowl says with a nod. "Of course, arrest is the best-case scenario, but I'm sure you know that if self-defense becomes necessary, you will not be faulted for that, regardless of the end result." Even if that end result is Blast Off gets killed. Not ideal, but still, one less dangerous criminal on the streets.

He stands and shakes Arcee's hand. "Good luck to you, Arcee. I know you won't let us down." There is a very slight hint of a polite smile on his features as he nods. "You are free to go."

Arcee tries to remember the last time she felt like she feels at this very moment. The only thing that even comes close is the feeling she had right after she was sent off on her suicide-bombing mission. That in and of itself speaks volumes about how she feels over any of this.


Her body nods and leaves, but her mind's already clocked out. Her immediate mission is to steal away someplace where she can't be found, and just drink away the pain.

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