An exercise in trying to understand Spotlight: Arcee, gender-roles from an outside perspective and the fact that Jhiaxus's reasoning being 'just to see if he could' is wonderfully fucked up. The only thing I really have any problem with in regards to this is how incredibly OLD it means Arcee is. After all, no one knew who Galvatron was in Spotlight: Galvatron, despite his going aboard the original Ark and Ark itself being a near forgotten relic. And since Jhiaxus disappeared with Ark and Arcee was altered by him… I'm still trying to wrap my brain around how exactly she got around all those countless years to only be tracked and captured by Ultra Magnus recently (but if IDW can mess around with times and age, so can I). Some ideas had been borrowed from Dreamwave. By the way, it's harder to remember to write Arcee as 'he' than I thought it would be…

Also it's become obvious that I can no longer do one-shot long fics. Recently every time I've tried, it sprawled into a multi-parter. Curses.

Special thanks to Wills for being my beta and Cafei for prodding me to finish this.

Do You Know What it Feels like

"Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots, because it's okay to be a boy, but for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, because you think that being a girl is degrading. But secretly you'd love to know what it's like, wouldn't you? What it feels like for a girl?"

-Charlotte Gainsbourg, The Cement Garden

"Sir, I am not certain about this… manifesto."

"'Manifesto' is such a strong word, Thunderwing. I would call it more theoretical rhetoric or perhaps even a tentative credo. But manifesto it is not."

"Still. I am not sure I agree with it."

The rapid fire clicks of keys and beeps as data flew across the screen were overlaid by a deep, humored chuckle. "Why would you need to agree with it?"

"But if Prime-"

"Nova is a passionate mech, but he has little regard for much else."

"So then," the assistant asked slowly- though he was one of the more brilliant minds to have been sparked, his mentor always left him reeling like a fledgling, "you do not agree, either?"

"Agree or disagree, it is of no concern to me."

"If Nova Prime asks your assistance in this endeavor…?"

"Then he shall be given it. It is, after all, my duty."

"But Jhiaxus, sir. This… 'credo' is calling for the extinction of all biological races-"

"In order to pave way for an expansion of our own, yes. I am aware of what it says." The clattering abruptly halted and for several nano-klicks the stream of data beeped until it finally caught up with all that had been inputted into it. "Do you find this message to be so reprehensible, Thunderwing?"

He regarded his young assistant with cruelly distant optics, a look usually reserved for the experiments that lay spread across the lab tables. Thunderwing had seen it many times and shuddered whenever it was turned on him. Jhiaxus was no passionate mech and found no joy even in his own work but it was a contentment, and one he found satisfactorily enough to continue his work. So long as they remained useful, Jhiaxus was willing to tolerate many things, his assistant included.

Cautiously, with as much care as he would in choosing a tool with which to make an incision – knowing his mentor's faith in his competence hung in the balance – Thurnderwing picked at his words. "I just do not understand Nova Prime's logic in regards to his possible intentions, sir. It is implied that our right to conquer and destroy is based on the idea that biological beings are inferior to Cybertronians. While I do not argue that we are by far the most technologically advance race that I am aware of, we are not without our own flaws and that alone begs to question the idea that our ability to make decisions is sound enough to eradicate entire races."

The disinterested edge disappeared from Jhiaxus's expression, softening into a thoughtful consideration. Jhiaxus was a brilliant- albeit misunderstood –mind and while he cared not for those unable to comprehend the difference between opinion and objective fact, his want of discovering made him charitable to those he deemed worthy of his vast knowledge.

"All creatures with free sentience are flawed." He said mildly. "There is no possibility for any being to be infallible in a universe so chaotic and susceptible to random chance. But it isn't the fact that we have more superior foresight than others that allows Nova to believe in these somewhat deluded ideals of his." Jhiaxus turned back to the monitor, though he merely used one hand to continue with his work.

"We are a strong race, more durable, adaptable and open to new technologies. Most other biological beings are content in dedicating their lives to their 'traditions'. It is merely a propagandist word to dress up obsolete thinking as 'natural'. For example," Jhiaxus waved his free hand, "all organic civilizations have a gender bias where more than one is present. 93 of these races can't survive without all their other genders, but one is always deemed superior to the others- mainly in terms of size and physical strength. They're unable to overcome this prejudice despite the fact that it is a useless means of segregation. Despite any physical capabilities the fact is they need each other or they'll die out."

"But sir, we are not without our own prejudices."

"Ah, but deep space vessels have little need for building constructors. It is very possible for one type to not meet another and arguably lead just as useful a life."

This example didn't seem to want to make sense to Thunderwing. "Prejudice is an imaginary distinction of importance between two mostly similar beings. I'm sorry, sir, but I still don't understand."

"The difference between our prejudice and other races' is the fact that we are all prejudice against each other while they push theirs in one direction. All aerial constructs believe themselves superior to all others. Same as fixed wing against helos, or prop wings or hover vehicles. These other categories, in turn, believe themselves to be the superior one. In organic culture, however, anyone who is not of the ideal is inferior. Culture, appearance, gender- anything. This thought is so ingrained that it's not just the ones deeming themselves superior that believes it, but also those they oppress as well. They'll degrade themselves, objectify themselves, pander to this view that they are less than they are because that is how they were taught to look at themselves." He scoffed, as if it were some jolly, sick joke. "Is that not a pitiful enough existence, Thunderwing, to allow someone with more vision and tolerance the wish to eradicate them?"

The assistant shifted quietly, the only sound a hesitant hum from his engines. "I apologize for my apparent ignorance, Jhiaxus sir," the smaller mech turned enough to glare impatiently, his optics daring Thunderwing to continue arguing a subject he already deemed as closed, "but are we not looking at this as a race unaccustomed to such challenges? If we had the same variables as, say, gender bias, can we really say we would not react the same?"

The one-handed clatter froze in mid-input and Jhiaxus tilted his head to one side, a blank, shut-off look hanging on the edges of his faceplates. Thunderwing knew that look particularly well, knew some poor fool would be subjected to another of Jhiaxus's scientific fancies. Thunderwing wondered if the vague hesitance he felt stirring deep in his internals was the beginnings of 'guilt'.

"That is a well-made point. It's hardly a subjective response if there are no first-hand experiences with which to draw from."

"How do you propose to do that? How is it possible for a gender-less society such as our own to know what it is like to be segregated like that? We have no sexual organs with which to discriminate ourselves."

"No, we don't. But gender issues stem from much more than just sexual bias." He waved Thunderwing off, "Before you've finished for the day, get me the Security Force's newest roster of mechs. Perhaps one of them will suit my needs."