Log Title: Dust Devil Defends Spike
Location: Autobot Shuttle <Federation>, Nebulos
Date: January 27, 2018
TP: Nebulos TP
Summary: Dust Devil calls Crosscut out for not better supporting Spike Witwicky in Spike's duties as junior ambassador.
As logged by Crosscut - Saturday, January 27, 2018, 9:46 AM
Autobot Shuttle <Federation>
Crosscut sits at a desk in the cramped captain's quarters of the Autobot Shuttle <Federation>, working on a report to send back to Cybertron. He pauses momentarily, lost in thought, and then changes the text of his report before he records it.
Dust Devil leans in the doorway, arms folded as he stares at the diplomat. "Ummmm hope I'm not interruptin a recharge cycle...or perhaps you were buffin yer armor? But I'd kinda like ta know why the hell ya left us high and dry? Ya got the Camian speakin fer the Cybertronians. She hasn't lived through that the rest of us has...She isn't a proper representative of our kind in this instance. And you've got Spike rather confused as ta why ya just well...abandoned him. I know that humans believe all birds need ta learn ta fly at some point. But its usually from branch ta branch and not off the edge of a canyon."
Crosscut turns to face Dust Devil, and his voice is calm in the face of Dust Devil's accusations. "Dust Devil," he says quietly. "Spike has been under my tutelage for quite some time. I feel he is ready to handle these negotiations himself, without me looking over his shoulder. And as I'm about to report," he gestures towards the log recorder, "… he is doing an excellent job."
Dust Devil frowns, "He won't talk ta you the same way he talks ta me...of course I don't say half the things I say ta Spike ta anyone else. But...I think you stepped too far back in this instance. He really kinda clammed up once Windblade swept in. Again...I'm sure she's got her good points and all in most situations. But she takes over. Look at the paintscheme...she wasn't made to be subtle about anything she does. SHe walks in and immediately all eyes and optics are on her. It is very intimidating. Especially when you figure her age in comparison to Spike's. He is ALWAYS going to view himself inferior to us. Remember among humans, age has its own level of power. Anyone older is viewed normally as wiser. Figure in a few hundred thousand or millions of years and ya got him immediately givin up main stage ta ANYONE that steps up besides him. The only reason I'm not as much of a threat is because I am so much younger than most of us."
Crosscut nods in agreement. "You are absolutely correct, Dust Devil. Which is why I remain within the shuttle. With me there, watching over him… Spike will never step out from under my literal shadow. He needs to learn to compete with people like Windblade, who are more naturally gregarious. Also, Spike is much more likely to bond with the people of Nebulos than I am. They have a well-deserved fear of 'giant robots'."
Crosscut is in the small captain's quarters of the Federation, having a private discussion with Dust Devil. =D
Spike walks out after a fitful night's rest. Unfortunately, Autobot shuttles don't typically come equipped with human showers. Thankfully, some areas on Nebulous do. He rubs the back of his neck and yawns. He goes over to his workstation and makes a makeshift french press coffee. He looks over at the two and mumbles something that resembles "morning."
Dust Devil sighs. "But I don't think this course of action is precisely the one that should be taken. I know I'm not a diplomat. And despite everthin everyone tells you about my relationship with others, I spent alot of time away from the base observing. Even when in the base, normally I was still in trouble for whatever last trespass I incurred and so I watched and listened. SLag, spent time doin that with Alpha before I ended up with the bots officially. You need ta talk ta him. Let him know you aren't just ignorin him or whatever it is you want to call quietly observing everythin. Let him know that Windblade ISN'T his replacement cause I'm half betting that's what he's thinking and at least TELL Him in person that he's doing a good job. I don't mind puttin in a word here and there when Backblast's comments kinda set everyone's hands over the destroy all robots button, but I'd rather you and Spike be the ones doing the official officiatin over this mess." Of course that's when said human walks in and he smirks, "Humans...only beings I know that can function with their neural nets still in sleep mode."'
Spike rubs his eyes, not hearing that first four-fifths of the conversation. He smirks tiredly at Dust Devil. "Must be like...jet lag, because trust me, I'm feeling pretty euphoric." He stretches and waits for the coffee to be press-able. "So...when are we taking off?" He looks over at the two. "Trust me, if it wasn't for my family, I'd stay here for another month, but Poise seems to be REALLY concerned about the Decepticons coming...and the longer we stay...the more likely that risk will come true."
Crosscut nods again. As Spike arrives, Crosscut gives him a nod as well in greeting. He then turns back to Dust Devil and says, "I hear you, Dust Devil. I will take yours words into account and think seriously on them." Making no further initial comment about them in front of Spike, Crosscut changes the subject.
"Soon, Spike," Crosscut answers the question. "Maybe give it one more day, while we try to contact the Hive? If we fail to get their point of view soon, we'll leave nonetheless - you are correct in your assertion that every day here places the planet further at risk."
Spike looks tiredly at the two, then the magic 3-minute time comes, where he can press said coffee into a meaningful fuel. "Obviously... Gort would be the one I would love to deal with over Poise..." He looks quizzically at the two. "But...is it me, or does Gort seem TOO perfect?" He adds "I mean, his background, his approachability, his wanting to be friends with us immediately." He shakes his head. "I don't get a 'bad guy' vibe, but I have to admit...after playing defense with Poise for 2 days, my defenses are totally down for Gort." He looks at Crosscut and gives an 'I know I know' gesture. "Not that I WOULD take what he says blindly, obviously..."
Dust Devil grins at Spike, "Precisely what I was pickin up. Unfortunately Windblade is too...trusting in this instance I think. Glad yer here ta catch that. The best way ta attack someone you aren't sure of is ta get close enough ta get under their guard. If this IS a resistance...then I'd think it'd play by similar rules as what the bots have had ta do. Ever notice how some of the friendliest mechs in the bots are also some of the most dangerous? Falso sense of ease and BAM!"
Spike jumps slightly as he was sipping coffee when Dust Devil's 'BAM' came up. He shoots an alarmed look at Dust Devil. "Yeah...I mean...I sure hope that's not the case of Gort. I feel like..." he shakes his head. "Nvermind."
"Your caution is admirable, Spike," Crosscut advises quietly, glancing over at Dust Devil. "But also trust your gut. If Gort seems sincere to you, it might not be wrong to offer him your trust - but also be prepared in case this is merely a clever ruse, as Dust Devil suggests. It's a delicate balance to walk, but your instincts are good. How far, however, do you feel the Autobots should go in helping the Nebulan resistance against their oppressors, if we're to believe the situation as Gort has characterized it?"
Spike looks at Dust Devil and Crosscut. "Honestly?" He gulps "Not at all at this point." He gestures to a screen displaying some Earth reports. "We don't know ANYTHING about the Hive...and while I'm pretty sure they need to be toppled, we have virtually no knowledge of the inhabitants." He adds "We have this country on Earth...Afghanistan. And for literally centuries, other countries have come in, and tried to 'topple' a government, for various reasons, but almost every time, outside interference ends up making things worse, either because they didn't have the manpower or resources for such a vast area (The US), or they didn't understand the culture of the inhabitants (the Soviet Union)."
Spike adds "Maybe...if word gets out, maybe the 'HOPE' of establishing contact with another species will give the resistance a boost, like, more of a reason to overthrow the hive..." He looks at Crosscut slightly challenging "After all, there's plenty of corrupt regimes on Earth that Prime could have raised like *that* (snaps his fingers), but he chose not to, to keep along with his desire for us to proceed 'naturally' in our evolution." He adds "Even if it means bloodshed."
Spike looks at Dusty and Crosscut. "What do you think?" He frowns and points to Crosscut "And don't pull the 'I'm withholding my opinion' crap. This isn't a test for me, this is a brand, new, diplomatic relationship that could sway the war in the Autobots' favor."
Dust Devil says, "My issue with helping the resistance is what side it REALLY is...I'm leary about contactin the Hive myself...I wish we had some of the better hackers here to check their stuff without talkin to anyone. We are seeing only one side. Take any ONE of your governments and let them do the spin. It could easily look like everyone is picking on them. Its just frustrating because we have NO place in THEIR war....and it really should remain that way unless there are countless deaths and even then where is our interference going to get anyone? We can't take care of our own...how are we to govern others?"
Crosscut nods again. His face remains passive, but his voice sounds pleased. "Exactly right, both of you, although of course Optimus will have the final say. Autobots will have the tendency to rush in without full information and play the hero, but knocking out a regime creates a power vacuum that can result in a nasty civil war that could actually make things worse. Sometimes diplomacy really is the better strategy, even if it can be frustratingly indirect and slow in affecting change."
A slow smile comes across Spike's face. "Dust Devil, that was a very reasoned, thoughtful, non-snarky response."
Spike nods to both and says in a concerned tone "I feel like with Poise, I have skeptic that I'm absolutely terrified of making the wrong move." He nods to Dust Devil "Hence, Dusty coming in and saving my aft in that case." He adds "But with Gort...and I know this sounds cheesy, but...I feel like I just met a friend, even though we only talked for like 30 minutes, it was like...psychically, he knew every single soft spot to hit." He adds "I'm just hoping it was for real."
Dust Devil frowns as he gets a beep and looks at his forarm where a small hud slides open, "Be right back....gotta check the computer surveillance I did set up and that small spy drone I had buzzin around."
Crosscut nods sympathetically in response to Spike's expressions of feelings about his interaction with Gort. "Unfortunately, that's going to make it that much harder to explain the situation to Gort. Windblade seems to be promising him the world, but she doesn't speak for Optimus Prime - you do, Spike. This can be a painful part of the process - having to pull back from promises made from people not in a position to speak for Autobot Command." He nods in response to Dusty's need to step out a moment.
Spike blinks and looks on in concern as Dusty Devil leaves. "Wait, don't..." But Dusty already has left, leaving him alone with Crosscut. He gives a timid smirk to his diplomatic mentor - just the two of them now.
Spike looks at Crosscut and says timidly "No...WE speak for Optimus Prime, Crosscut." He adds "Yes, I'm being TRAINED to speak for Prime on the "Earth" side of things, but ..." he gestures to Crosscut "THIS affects Cyb'tron FAR more than Earth."
Crosscut nods, acknowledging the point. "With that in mind, would you like the report back to Optimus Prime, Spike, or would you prefer I do it? We should pass along our suggestion of non-intervention - we will protect the planet from Decepticon attack, but otherwise stay out of local interfactional politics. I will back your recommendation as valid, but we should ensure you get the credit for negotiating with Gort."
Spike looks at Crosscut, somewhat defeated, but gives him a very honest assessment. "You should...." He adds "He trusts you more than me." He gestures at Crosscut "That's NOT like a self-pitying statement, it's the truth. You're the best diplomat the Autobots have, and you know after hearing my report, he's going to go to you." He gives Crosscut an honest 'tell me I'm wrong' look. "He adds simply "He's busy. I'd rather have him wade through one report and not two."
Spike adds "This is my first time EVER interacting with another species, I mean, other than the Quintissons, Prime would be absolutely mad to take what I say as gospel without consulting someone who's done this literally hundreds of times."
Spike smiles to himself, envisioning the day that Prime WOULD be comfortable enough hearing Spike's council on a matter like this - alone - but that's years down the road. Many years down the road. Like...maybe when he's like...JUST turned 76.
Crosscut doesn't point that Spike's assessment of how many times Crosscut has done this is off by several orders of magnitude. Instead he simply says, "I may have more experience, Spike, but I'm not sure I'd say I have more of Prime's trust. You've been absolutely loyal to the Autobots and him from day one. As for his trust in your abilities... well, that has to be earned by taking responsibility for decisions made in the field. I can handle this report, Spike, but eventually you'll have to make the call yourself." Crosscut pauses. "And when you do, Spike, I'm sure it will be the right call."
Spike nods and stares at the terminal for awhile. He hates that 'you'll have to make the call yourself' passive aggressive remark Crosscut seems to wave in regularly. He looks over "Heyah...on Earth...so, we have regulations that say we have to take a break every so often on a work shift." He looks up at Crosscut "Do you mind if we take a short...SHORT break?" He asks "And talk as 'friends' and not 'subordinate/supervisor' for a sec?"
Crosscut chuckles. "Of course, Spike. What would you like to say to me - off the record? Feel free to speak freely." Crosscut leans forward in his seat, looking curiously down at the human ambassador. "I might have a personal request as well," he says mysteriously.
Spike grins and continues to nurse his french press. "About 3 years ago...Dust Devil came into the repair bay. He kept losing energon." He adds "I ended up keeping him in the repair bay for almost a day for a long and arduous diagnostic, where we scanned his ENTIRE lines for a fuel leak...we couldn't find any. And as a result, he wasted a day in the repair bay." He adds "He wasn't too happy, to say the least."
Spike gestures "What I found out was that it had to do with a malfunction with his humidifier system - it was acting wonky (technical term) - and as a result, a lot of that fuel was evaporating." He gestures "Yes, tire's a point to this story..."
Crosscut listens to Spike's story without interruption.
Spike concludes "The point being that I thought it was something, it wasn't, so I tried something else, and it happened to be the thing." He adds "BUT, I had the freedom to do that." He looks at Crosscut candidly "Crosscut...I'm SO scared right now, whenever I talk to Poise. I'm afraid that the slightest missed phrase, or general comment about us will cause her to turn away." He looks at Crosscut, "I know I'm not supposed to feel this, or let it eat at me, because it'll affect how I talk BUT..." he trails off. "This is as a friend."
Spike gulps "Is that why Windblade came? Be honest, I'm totally cool with it. But in my opinion, Dust Devil actually did a better job swaying Poise than Windy, but I thank Primus both were there."
Crosscut chuckles again, leaning back in his chair. "No, Spike. Just the opposite, in fact - I invited her to she could see how we do things here. This was about convincing Windblade of our good motives as much as convincing the Nebulans. Windblade is new to us - she doesn't know how the Autobots have changed in the years she's been gone. I wanted her to see a side of us devoted to diplomacy - not just war."
Spike grins weakly. "But to the other point..." He looks at Crosscut "This isn't part of my 'evaluation' - but...I'm so scared sometimes. Sometimes I think I'm doing okay, but others..." He adds "I so don't want to let Prime down."
Spike rubs his eyes "Anyway, 'as a friend' - I'm scared." He adds "Anyway...you were saying you had a request?"
Crosscut leans forward again, and his voice turns serious. "Spike, that's why I'm here - to advise you, and to have your back. If I feel you're getting off-track with the negotiations, I'll say something - privately, behind closed doors. I've kept mum because you're doing a great job on your own. Optimus Prime will be proud of your work here, as much as he is with your work in the repair bay."
When Spike brings up the request, however, Crosscut suddenly turns away, and finds something interesting to look at on the bare, unadorned shuttle walls. "Um," he stammers. "Don't worry about that. We're far too busy. I shouldn't have mentioned it."
Spike arches a brow and looks around. Poise isn't outside. Neither is Gort. The ship is fueled. They're literally just doing nothing but chatting. "S'riously?"
Spike gives a bemused look at Crosscut. "Requests are usually no more than 3 sentences, if that. You don't have time to utter one sentence?" He adds "I don't have to say 'Yes' or 'No' just right now, but c'mon..." He looks at his watch and grins, cornering Crosscut "We still got like...7 minutes left of our allotted 15 minute break."
Crosscut laughs nervously. "Well, you know. OK. Fine." He pauses a long minute, his air fans running rapidly to cool his systems. Finally he asks, "You remember my history as a failed playwright, yes? Well, your comments about it have me thinking. I miss creating -- writing. Twin City has a thriving theatre district again - partially thanks to your actions in revitalizing Cybertron - but I think those days are behind me. I might..." Crosscut looks away again. "I was thinking I might try making a film." His tone suggests deep embarrassment.
Spike looks like he just got hit with a low jolt. "Wha..a...fil..I mean..." he shakes head "Sorry...you said you were thinking of making a film?" He tries to think of anyone...ANYONE he knows in Hollywood...nope - can't think of any. "Okay...I mean, I don't know ANY filmmakers per se, but...I'm sure Mel, the reporter I HAD regular correspondence with may know someone. (she may not know she's in time out, but eventually, Spike will resume feeding her tips)
Spike rubs his eye again, sometimes a gesture in exasperation, other times bemusement. "What's...what's the movie about?"
"Oh! Oh!" Crosscut says quickly. "Nothing like that! I'm not thinking some big-budget extravaganza! Maybe, like… just a little art film. Something simple, that I could write, act, AND direct, to keep things simple. Maybe about Nebulos, if you wouldn't mind helping me get some footage while we're here. Nothing outrageous -- maybe - maybe we could make something that could show the beauty of this place - like, a training video for future diplomats," he says quickly in attempted justification.
Spike closes his eyes and rubs his temple. He heard about some film called The Room on Fresh Air (NPR) a few nights ago. About how the director of the Oscar-bait film ABOUT the Room joked at how starring, writing, and directing a movie always leads to disaster.
Crosscut looks shyly at Spike with hope in his optics, never as vulnerable with his friend as he is now, with his fragile dreams on the line.
Spike rubs temple. Far be it for him to not nurture Crosscut's artistic side, anything to get him to be more personable and approachable. "I mean...I'm not a cinematographer - so... you'd want me to like 'film' some cool places here?" He adds "I'm not a director, but since we may not be back for awhile, I'm guessing some places where there's not too much action so...if we'd have to film on Earth as well, it'd be like...stuff that Earth and Nebulous share, right?"
Spike squeezes and massages his temple again. "I wanted to get some footage anyway to show Carly, and I have some free time today, so I can definitely help out but, again...I really don't know what I'm LOOKING for so...what's...what's this...movie about?"
Crosscut practically bounces in his seat with sudden excitement. "I'm not quite sure yet, but maybe we could find some interesting locations - do some establishing shots, find some inspiration - stuff we can use when we get back. And interspersing the footage with images from Earth, drawing parallels about how an alien world can be so different yet so similar to yours - that's genius, Spike!"
Spike looks on in almost bewildered confusion. "Wait...you...you want me to start filming...which I'm TOTALLY cool with, but..." He close his eyes, trying to think logically "But...you don't have a story yet?"
Spike rubs his fingers, almost hoping the kinetic energy would give him an idea to either talk Crosscut out of this, or get him to at least focus on a story first. Spike bites his tongue, doing his best to LOOK like he's REALLY thinking this through thoughtfully.
Crosscut's enthusiasm is suddenly quashed, and he literally reels back in the face of the mildest criticism. "Well, the idea is still in its infancy. It's just... Nebulos is so beautiful, and I'd been thinking a long time about what you said about the need for self-expression. I thought - well, I thought if we could get out there and see the alien world, through the lens of the artist instead of the diplomat, that maybe... I dunno." Crosscut blows air out his vents and looks away.
Spike gets up, Spike may still be very much a diplomat in training, but given that he journaled even when his mom was alive, he's always been incredibly good at empathy. "No...no...I mean, let's think through this - it definitely has promise!" He adds "And...some of the best art comes out of spontaneity, right?!"
Crosscut looks back at Spike, and says cautiously, "Well, I suppose. I mean, I did do a bit of improvisational theatre before the war, with mixed results..."
Spike adds "Your...vision...is like...this acorn, this really nice acorn! So...uh... yeah. Let's uh..." Crosscut has been so patient with him, maybe it's time to reward the favor in kind. He gets up, looking for a camera. "I'm guessing you want something more than my Droid, so do we have a camera small enough for me to operate?" If anything, THIS gives him the chance to get FAR away from Crosscut for awhile. After all, he had that one short-lived relationship in college where his girlfriend had a new novel or art project she wanted to do every other week, but nothing ever materialized. Maybe this is the same. We can hope. Spike adds "And just look for something like...inspiring, right?"
Crosscut hms, looking around. "Nothing really designed for the task. This is the one time in history that I might wish Bishop was here - or better yet, Raindance. We have some surveying equipment on board that might be up for the task, and it's designed for use by those of all sizes, so... maybe?" Crosscut stands and goes to look for the charting gear. "And, yes," Crosscut calls back. "Something pretty!" he adds for clarification.
Spike gives a friendly smile at Crosscut. "I...I like this! You know...I think we can do this." He gives a solidarity 'pat' to Crosscut's shoulder. Though he would never want to jinx this very important mission, he's sort of hoping for a MINI crisis to get Crosscut to stop thinking of this film.
Spike nods and sees a handheld surveying gear, he quickly reaches in, practically wanting to flee the environment now. "You know what, THIS seems perfect, and if it's not, I have my phone as a backup!" He nods, "Something pretty...perfect. That's ... exactly the direction I need!"
Spike looks at Crosscut and says eagerly "So...maybe rendezvous with you guys in like...two hours?!"
Crosscut's optics narrow as he looks over Spike with his recording gear. "Yes. Two hours. Be safe. Bring along a security escort if you wander too far - we don't want my side project to put you in any danger." He lowers his voice. "And, Spike - thanks for humoring me on this. I know it's not within your occupational duties as ambassador."
Spike waves a hand "Heyah, if anything, this gives me a chance to familiarize myself with the world." He gives Crosscut an exasperated look "I'm FINE...I don't need a detail. We want these beings not to be threatened, and I promise...not too far away from the ship." Spike adds "I'll be on my radio, cool?"
Crosscut nods. "OK, Spike. Thanks again. Good luck and have fun. I can't wait to see what you bring back."