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Chapter One: Breach of Protocol

Ultra Magnus had not intended to spend the evening in violation of six separate sections of the Autobot Code, not to mention engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer and, perhaps worst of all, contributing to the creation of drama aboard the Lost Light.

The crew of the Lost Light did not need any help from Ultra Magnus when it came to generating drama. In fact, Ultra Magnus had prided himself on being the one mech aboard who set an example for the others to follow. Well, so much for his position as a role model. In the end, this ship—this crew—had dragged him right down to their level.

And that’s why he was currently fragging the brain module out of his captain in a storage closet while various members of the crew walked the hallway outside, none the wiser.

It was the sort of situation that made any sane mech wonder how a person like Minimus Ambus could ever had ended up in a situation like this.


This whole mess had started five breems previously…well, to be honest (and Ultra Magnus still considered himself an honest mech), it had truly started just over two weeks ago, on the occasion of Ultra Magnus’s first interface with Rodimus. Ultra Magnus still wasn’t sure what he’d been thinking in the time leading up to that interface—not to mention the second, third and fourth interfaces the following day.

He’d been upset about Luna One, yes. He’d felt guilty for turning the crew, who he should have trusted more, over to Tyrest, who he should have trusted much, much less that he did. He’d felt grateful to Rodimus for taking him back, for saving a large portion of the Cybertronian race, for…for being Rodimus. For being someone whose passion for doing the right thing could carry him through when the law was being perverted by a twisted madman. Ultra Magnus could only wish he had that kind of passion. He needed the law to help him distinguish right from wrong. Without a firm hand…he had nothing.

So he’d been weak. Vulnerable. But he did not feel that Rodimus had taken advantage. Rodimus had been upset too, and sought Magnus out for comfort. He felt as though he’d been letting his crew down. Magnus knew Rodimus hadn’t always been the most successful captain, but Magnus could not doubt that he’d been trying, or that he truly cared for his crew.

Rodimus had reached out for comfort. Ultra Magnus, of his own volition, had given it. Not well. He’d needed a good deal of instruction from Rodimus. But, in the end, Ultra Magnus had convinced himself that they’d both needed what the other had to offer.

For his own part, Ultra Magnus had needed it badly enough that he’d not only let Rodimus stay the night, but he’d also asked Hound to take over his duty shift the next day so he could repeat his uncharacteristic behaviour. Multiple times. First in his own hab suite, later in Rodimus’s. Eventually, Ultra Magnus had stumbled back to his own quarters, where he’d barely had time to clean his recharge slab before he promptly passed out on it.

That’s when things had gotten awkward.

Ultra Magnus could hardly look his reflection in the optics the next morning. When he finally summoned the nerve to do it, he was shocked to discover that he looked exactly the same as the day before. He didn’t feel the same at all. It seemed wrong somehow that there could be no outwardly visible sign of such a big milestone in his life.

Well, what did you expect? he chided himself, realizing he was being ridiculous. A flashing hazard indicator on your aft labelling you as a TRAMP? One of those ridiculous Rodimus Stars for yesterday’s achievement? And yet it felt wrong that there wasn’t something, anything to prove that the upheaval he felt wasn’t just in his own mind.

Ultra Magnus had steeled his nerves and risen to the challenge of facing the rest of the crew. He’d walked into the command center, still uncertain whether to inform the others in icy tones that his love life was his own private business when it didn’t affect the operation of the ship, or if it might be better to refuse to respond to their disgust and derision at all.

He’d received…nothing. Of course not. Of course they couldn’t tell just by looking at him what he had done. They treated him as they always had because they had no idea that he had become someone different overnight.

Somehow that seemed even more wrong to Ultra Magnus than their scorn would have been. It was…unjust. He’d sinned, and he was not going to be punished. What was he supposed to do about that?

He would get through the day one step at a time. Protocol and routine provided familiarity and reassurance; he would go on duty and he would do his job. It was true he had no idea what he ought to do when Rodimus broached the subject of their…affair, he supposed was the word, but he would simply have to do the best he could when the situation arose.

Then the situation…did not arise.

When Rodimus arrived on the bridge to take command for his shift, he had behaved as though nothing had changed at all. For Rodimus, perhaps nothing had. Rodimus had made a habit out of little flings with his fellow soldiers and, later, with members of his own squad. Even Ultra Magnus had heard the stories about Rodimus and Dealer—and the rumours about Rodimus and Drift. Magnus might just have to accept that for Rodimus, a tryst with his second-in-command was neither remarkable nor particularly memorable.

But Rodimus could at least have had the good graces to say something. Even if it was nothing more than thank you.

Rodimus had approached Magnus a few times in the last two weeks, and each time Magnus had hoped to receive, at the very least, an acknowledgement of the encounter they’d shared. Instead, each time had been for frivolous and stupid requests: drinks at Swerve’s. Movie night. Board games—as if Ultra Magnus had ever wasted time learning to play some pointless game.

Yesterday, Rodimus had managed to lure Ultra Magnus to the observation deck. Magnus had arrived posthaste and demanded to know the purpose for their meeting; Rodimus had shrugged and muttered something about spending time together. Rodimus had been utterly unable to specify what they’d be doing, though, and Ultra Magnus had told Rodimus not to waste his time and stormed out. Even now, Ultra Magnus was halfway certain that the whole encounter had been some sort of practical joke. Magnus only wished he knew if he’d spoiled it or if he’d inadvertently provided whatever punchline Rodimus had been looking for.

Now it had been over two weeks since that fateful encounter. Two weeks, and not one word from Rodimus on the matter: no summons to Rodimus’ office to discuss it, no classified memo issued, no revisions to Ultra Magnus’ description of duties, nothing. Ultra Magnus was far from an expert on the matter, but he was almost certain that at the very least Rodimus ought to have invited him on a date if he’d had any interest whatsoever in an ongoing courtship. The lack of invitations in Ultra Magnus’ inbox should be proof enough that Rodimus was not interested in anything beyond a one night (technically, and also the next morning) stand.

Ultra Magnus felt a rising irritation. This ongoing silence was downright cowardly. Surely Rodimus ought at least to have the good graces to issue a statement confirming his disinterest. This ongoing silence on the subject indicated an utter lack of respect for Ultra Magnus, who apparently didn’t even deserve any indication of closure.

Ultra Magnus had been slumped in front of the surveillance monitors, debating whether that lack of closure was a deliberate slight on Rodimus’ part or simply another example of Rodimus’ typical disregard for proper operating procedure, when an image on camera 4445-2 caught his attention.

The corridor outside of Swerve’s bar. Ultra Magnus spent a disproportionate amount of time watching this camera, because that corridor was the scene of a disproportionate amount of misconduct. Every time someone was sneaking into the bar during duty hours, this corridor was where the security cameras betrayed him. Every time someone was sober enough to make it out of the bar, yet too intoxicated to make it to his hab suite, this corridor was where he passed out. Every time tempers rose and Swerve told his patrons to take it outside, this corridor was the scene of the fight.

Now, Ultra Magnus saw two bots crash through Swerve’s door and impact the wall opposite the bar. One was Rodimus; the other was Atomizer. They hit as one, limbs tangled together.

And they were obviously not fighting.

Ultra Magnus stared, and a memory swam, unbidden, into his mind.

It had been after he’d tried to do the gentlemanly thing and escort Rodimus back to the captain’s quarters after their….rendezvous…in Magnus’ suite. Rodimus had pulled him in, slammed the door and the next thing he knew, he was flat on his back on Rodimus’ bed and Rodimus was on top of him.

It wasn’t fair to lay all the blame on Rodimus. Ultra Magnus had warmed up to the idea of another round very quickly.

Rodimus had done something new this time, though. Nuzzling Magnus’ interface panel. Kissing it. Even licking it, which had shocked Ultra Magnus, even though he’d seen Rodimus doing that sort of thing before thanks to the surveillance cameras.

Ultra Magnus had tried to ask Rodimus…he still wasn’t sure what. It was either a question about what he should do or an inquiry about what it would feel like, but all he’d managed was a noise, like an animal, and Rodimus had stopped, lifting his head and busting out laughing when he’d seen Magnus’ expression.

Magnus could still hear Rodimus’ voice: what, never seen that before?

Magnus had panicked, fearing Rodimus was mocking him, and he’d snapped back, I’ve seen you doing it on the surveillance cameras entirely too often.

That had shut Rodimus up for a moment, at least. Then the captain had leaned closer and asked, do you like to watch me? Is that what you do, Magnus? Is that how you like to spend your time on duty? You look for me on the cameras, and hope you’ll get the chance to watch me doing things like…

Magnus had cut him off with a snarled no. At the time he’d thought it was because he didn’t want to admit that he’d followed Rodimus with the cameras entirely too often, far more so than he did with most of the rest of the crew, and definitely more often than random search patterns or routine surveillance warranted. Now, though, he thought of how he’d felt when he’d watched those scenes. He’d not been able to find a word for the feeling until he realized that it was not one emotion but two: a volatile cocktail of excitement and fury.

He loved to watch Rodimus when the captain was alone.

He hated to watch Rodimus with anyone else.

He’d sat up and grabbed Rodimus and kissed him far too forcefully, pinning his arms, likely bruising his lips. Magnus’ sober second thought had come after he’d started to take action, not before taking action like it usually did, and once he realized what he’d done he felt horribly guilty, not to mention angry at himself for his uncharacteristically impulsive behaviour. He’d expected Rodimus to haul off and kick him, and he’d have deserved it, but instead, Rodimus had seemed to enjoy having Ultra Magnus manhandling him. Rodimus had responded very enthusiastically, kissing back, opening his interface panel and…


No wonder Magnus had spent so long in Rodimus’ quarters.

Now, Ultra Magnus watched Atomizer petting Rodimus’ spoiler and felt that same combustable mixture simmering in his spark.

Rodimus was beautiful, dimming his optics, his mouth opening in pleasure. Rodimus was disgraceful, carrying on like that in a public corridor for anyone to see. Atomizer was…

Atomizer was trespassing.

Ultra Magnus closed his hands into fists. Rodimus could’ve come to him, if he’d wanted his spoiler petted. Magnus would have done it. Instead, Rodimus had gone to Atomizer, and now all Magnus could do was sit here and…

Do you like to watch me?

Rodimus’ words echoed in Ultra Magnus’ audials. On the screen, Ultra Magnus was getting treated to an up close and personal view of Rodimus’ pleasure. His hands closed on Atomizer’s back, and then…

Rodimus leaned against Atomizer. The interior decorator-turned-assassin nuzzled Rodimus’ neck, but Rodimus’ optics were locked on the lens of the surveillance camera.

Ultra Magnus had seen mechs notice the camera before. Usually their features betrayed a sense of guilt, though the most unrepentant recidivists just scowled at the realization they might be caught out. Rodimus did neither.

Rodimus split his lips in a grin.

And Ultra Magnus could’ve sworn Rodimus was deliberately winking at the camera.

Atomizer’s hands traced Rodimus’ spoiler in a gesture that looked much like what Magnus clearly remembered doing to Rodimus in the privacy of his hab suite. He also recalled exactly what effect that gesture had on the captain. Magnus ground his teeth, watching Rodimus arch his back and open his mouth in what had to be a groan of pleasure, and Magnus…Magnus remembered exactly what that sounded like. Atomizer’s mask retracted and the archer captured the captain’s lips with his own.

Ultra Magnus’ vision turned red from fury.

Magnus clenched his fists until they hurt, slamming them down on his thighs. He hated this, hated it, and the only thing stopping him from doing something about it was the knowledge that he had no right to try to dictate Rodimus’ sexual behaviour. Ultra Magnus knew exactly how that felt, to have someone else controlling who he interfaced with and how, and it felt horrible. It was absolutely, unequivocally wrong for him to try to do that to Rodimus.

Atomizer’s hands slid down to Rodimus’ interface panel. Rodimus twisted and danced away, laughing and teasing. Atomizer pounced him, knocking him into another wall, and once again they twined together.

Disgusting behaviour, and in public,too…

Ultra Magnus blinked.

Actually, there was something he could do about the scene on the camera. The Autobot Code strictly forbid obscene behaviour in public places. There was also the chapter on conduct befitting a commanding officer, of which Rodimus was currently in violation on several counts: Atomizer was not command staff and therefore not an appropriate intimate partner for a ship’s captain.

It was petty. It was a technicality compared to the real issue. But…

Ultra Magnus felt his lips twist in an uncomfortable way. He glanced into the reflection of light off the monitors and recognized that he was sporting a rather terrifying smile.

He was the (former) Duly Appointed Enforcer of the Tyrest Accord, and he lived for technicalities.

And he was heading down to that corridor for some duly appointed enforcing right now.