Yet another Transformers: Prime short! This one's set during the episode "Speed Metal", a little while after Vince the bully has been saved by Optimus and before the last scene at school where Jack finally gets to give Sierra a ride on Arcee. Optimus' "Explanations can come later." line inspired this. Arcee, Bumblebee and Bulkhead looked pretty unhappy at the prospect of that. I wanted to see how exactly those explanantions went!
"Right after I learnt that Jack had gone out racing with Bumblebee, Bumblebee contacted base. He was being pursued by Knock Out."
Arcee held herself rigidly as she gave Optimus the full account of what had happened prior to his arrival during her pursuit of the Decepticon Knock Out. She, Bumblebee and Bulkhead were standing in line before their commander back at base.
"Bulkhead and I went out to assist him. When we got there, Jack and Bumblebee were safe, but Jack informed us that his school rival had been captured by Knock Out. We went after him and chased him to an empty car park. Breakdown arrived on scene and engaged Bulkhead and Bumblebee. I attempted to force Knock Out to give up his hostage. But he escaped onto the highway. I pursued him. Then you arrived just on time to intercept him."
Arcee fell silent for an awkward breath of a moment.
"And...that's the end of my report," she finished uncomfortably.
Optimus said nothing for a long moment. He simply looked sternly at her and at Bulkhead and Bumblebee on either side of her. He had already sent the kids back to their homes as it was late in the evening, but not before Jack had apologised several times and explained again to Optimus that 'this had all been his fault'. Everyone had confessed to Optimus their parts in the events that had spiralled out of control. It was something none of them had been looking forward to doing.
Now as the great Autobot leader stared hard down at his troops, Arcee, Bumblebee and Bulkhead felt like wilting from shame and failure. Bulkhead shifted his broad foot uncomfortably. Bumblebee's gaze dropped to the floor. Arcee wanted to move her eyes elsewhere too, anywhere but at Optimus' face, but the disciplined soldier in her forced her to keep her sight firmly locked on her leader's expression. Real soldiers didn't look away. They faced up to their responsibilities and mistakes.
Finally, Optimus spoke.
"You are all aware of the care and caution we must exercise when involving ourselves directly in human affairs. Every time we do, we risk drawing unwanted attention to ourselves and inviting the wrath of the Decepticons on innocents. Arcee, Bumblebee, getting yourselves involved in racing was unwise and dangerous, not only for yourselves but for Jack as well. You both demonstrated poor judgement there. You used your greater powers and abilities for competitive personal gain against other vehicles of this world."
Arcee and Bumblebee's heads bowed in shame.
Optimus' gaze fell upon Arcee.
"Your reasons for racing are understandable. I know you are individuals with feelings. You can be angered by insults..."
His gaze moved to Bumblebee.
"...and sometimes you wish to help our human friends when they ask for it..."
His gaze swept over all three Autobots again.
"...but this is not Cybertron and we cannot simply act as we please without consideration of what consequences our actions might bring. We cannot afford lapses in judgement like this again."
Optimus seemed to sigh inaudibly.
"We were fortunate this time that no harm was done and we were not seen, but we cannot always expect to be so lucky."
He paused, regarding his troops calmly.
"As I have told the human children already, in future, it is imperative that we do not keep secrets from one another, especially in regards to our activities and whereabouts. It should go without saying, but I expect you all to inform me sooner of questionable and potentially dangerous matters from now on."
"Yes, Optimus," Arcee and Bulkhead acknowledged. Bumblebee made a low sound of acknowledgement as well.
The three Autobot soldiers turned sombrely and began to head out of the command room.
"Arcee," Optimus said quietly.
The small blue female Autobot stopped and turned round. Optimus approached her.
"Jack is a young human, still growing, learning and going through many experiences in his life. Perhaps a little compassion for his social challenges might not be a bad thing. This whole affair began when he was faced with pressures from school and he sought your assistance to save face before a challenger and to please a female peer he is attracted to."
Optimus' expression seemed to soften.
"Though it was unwise to become involved in a race, it would not have harmed either of you to have granted the request of Jack's female friend and allowed her a ride with Jack. He would have appreciated it. You are Jack's guardian, Arcee. And he needs your understanding and support sometimes."
Arcee's gaze fell and she nodded.
"I...will try to be more sympathetic to Jack's needs and problems in future," she agreed.
Optimus bent forward and placed two of his large fingers upon Arcee's petite shoulder. She looked up at him.
"I know you will, Arcee."
Then Optimus stood up and took his leave.
After watching him go, Arcee stood alone for a moment in thought. Then she transformed and drove out of base.
There were a few more hours to kill before she would have to take Jack to school in the morning.