Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

This is a short bit -- almost just an essay, really -- set in the months following the Generation 2 comics. It also helps (very vaguely) to set up the storyline of my fanfic 'Corrosion of War', which occurs a year or three later.

The set-up at the end of the G2 comics, for those who don't know them well, is as follows: the Autobots and Decepticons, faced with destruction at the hands of Jhiaxus and his latter-generation Cybertronians, had allied themselves. During the climactic battle with the Cybertronians, the allied forces witnessed the Matrix-induced transformation of the Swarm (a sort of hungry energy cloud that ate mechanisms), and the accompanying re-re-rebirth of Optimus Prime, an event that apparently left quite an impression on them all. The implication was that the two sides were still allies in the wake of the final climactic battle.

Enjoy!




A Parting of Ways

1. Prowl

Logic. Rational, pure, reliable, steadfast logic. It is more than just a heirarchy of sensibility; it's a coherant framework to view the world from. A way of putting events and facts into perspective, a way of sorting out order from the dominant chaos of the universe. A hierarchal ordering of priorities, knowledge, experience... and feelings?

Living beings and their feelings. That has always thrown a spanner into the works, because living beings stubbornly refuse to be classified according to the stringient routines of logic. They decline to mold their behavior into any sort of predictable shape, or to anything that could even be reasonably approximated by mathematical models. My life would be much simpler if nobody had feelings to foul up all my calculations.

But who am I kidding... I have them as much as the next being.

That doesn't lessen the frustration, though. From minute-to-minute interactions, all the way up to the biggest problems we're facing, the inability to tell what someone's going to do is pervasive in my life. And there's no logical way around it, because you just can't understand feelings. Not through logic, anyway, and what other way is there? Duplicate them yourself? How am I supposed to know what a one-time galactic conqueror is feeling?

With logic, it'd be a simple equation. Megatron has wanted to lead his forces on a binge of conquest for as long as he's been head of the Decepticons. After a four million year absence, he's just reinstated himself to that position. Ergo, he will resume his campaign at the first available opportunity. With the forces of Jhiaxus defeated, the opportunity is now.

But then those confounded emotions come into play. A sense of wonder can change a person. So can shared experience, by creating an emotional bond where there was none before -- but what kind of bond? How long will it last? Will it override past histories and differing wishes? Extrapolation of these variables is an exercise in futility -- there's no way to acquire reliable data, other than by observation -- and by then it's too late.

Intellectual interaction can also change a person, which makes sense -- but even that is often confounded by emotional attachment to old ideas, or illogical resistance to new ones. Even I, on an emotional level, am still hesitant to accept the Decepticons as allies. We've fought them for so long... But nothing so concrete as intellect is at work here. I'm dealing with emotion... the very antithesis of the rational. The opposite of everything I know well.

I see it happening all around me -- to the other Autobots, and to our allies the Decepticons. The changes are at work on them all. Some are growing used to fighting alongside old enemies. For some of us, it's the third time we've done this in the last ten years. Others are growing more and more convinced that it won't last, that it can't last. And if those are their convictions, how can they be wrong? Aren't convictions the driving force behind the actions we take?

What is going on inside Megatron's mind?

Is he really planning to betray us? After all this time, all the work and fighting together and the trust, how could he be willing to go back on it all? A more naive Autobot -- such as myself a few short years ago -- would find it hard to believe.

But now I have to look at evidence, and at history. It's happened before. The Decepticons were more than happy to betray us in the past. Despite all the wonder of the miracles we Autobots have seen while fighting alongside them recently, despite the mutual threat we may still face, I just can't give them my honest trust. That requires an emotional leap that I for one am not ready to take just yet.

I'd like to believe Megatron is changing, or has changed. I really would. And it almost seems that way. But I've taken more than one fall in the past from trusting instinct over rationality. I don't want it to happen again. And rationality is telling me that in the end, Megatron is more than likely still the same old Megatron. Unless he isn't.

Has he changed? I don't know. I just don't know...




2. Optimus Prime

So many variables, so many things to consider... so many things. One could loose their mind simply contemplating the vast realm of possibility, of all that could be. And indeed, as I try to decide what stance to take regarding Megatron... I find myself staring at times into the void of madness.

And yet a whole army still looks to me for direction, for the position they should take on the matter. What can I tell them? I have no convictions myself. I cannot simply admit that -- it would be a show of weakness, of indecision, and in this dangerous new world we find ourselves in, the Autobots need strength as much as ever.

With no immediate, visible threat, our army and our alliance are in perpetual danger of falling apart from lack of purpose. It would be so easy to tell them not to trust, to keep their guard up -- to provide them with some phantom enemy till we can accertain that the real ones are still out there. I can think of few ways more effective to hold together an army that is weary of war and would like nothing better than to disperse. But I have never lied to those who follow me and I will not start now.

Yet I withold. They ask of Megatron, of our erstwhile allies the Decepticons. I give them no answer, for I have none.

He is Megatron! The oldest of enemies, the most persistent, the hardest to kill, the hardest to keep dead. He has slain more friends than I can tally, destroyed more lives than I can bear to remember. My nemesis, my counterpart. My partner in a dance of death that has come now to a strange impasse.

The threat is gone; our mutual enemy, vanquished. Yet he and his army remain among us, living and working as allies. Why? What would the old Megatron hope to gain from this? We have ships again -- those who desire to leave Earth could have done so weeks ago. Anything he could hope to gain from this planet could easily be had elsewhere. The only thing Earth has to offer is us, an army of his foes.

He could have left... yet he remains. He could be obstinate, uncooperative... yet he is not. He could rally his troops, segregate them from us... yet we remain one force.

He could have left. Yet he remains.

I find it almost impossible to believe... but Megatron actually seems to be changing.




3. Grimlock*

Megatron walked by and didn't give me another look. It's not the first time. I'm not important to him. I'm just an obstacle. No different from all the times we've fought as enemies. He's still fighting, just not out in the open right now. He needed our help, he got it, now he's waiting for the moment to wriggle free of this alliance.

I know Megatron. He's like me, a brute force kind of guy. Not the kind to change his whole approach to life because of a supernatural sound and light show. It's hard for me to believe, but there are a lot of Autobots who can't see this.

These troops, they talk to the Decepticons like they're friends now. I try to tell them, be careful, it's a cover, they can't be trusted -- the fight, the hatred, it's in their blood. But they don't listen! All they see is Optimus Prime, his fancy speeches and fine talk of truce and alliance. Alliance against what?! There's no more Swarm; Jhiaxus is all gone. How long are the Decepticons going to hang around with us, playing galactic guardians? Not very long. Not if I know Megatron. And I do know Megatron.

Okay, maybe he hasn't just up and split since Cybertron answered our calls and sent us some ships. He hung around. So what? He probably just wants to steal energy from the planet, wreck our ships, and blow us up by way of saying 'bye'. My Dinobots, they see this. But the other Autobots... they just don't get it!

But what's really amazing is that Optimus Prime himself doesn't see it. He of all Autobots should know better. I have a lot of respect for Prime, and it grows every time I have to lead troops, every time I see what he goes through, and how well he does what he does. But if he thinks Megatron's changed an iota, he's simply wrong, pure and simple.

Megatron didn't change for a minute... Megatron will never change.




4. Manta Ray

Megatron just walked past Grimlock. Even from across the camp, I could feel the temperature drop a little. Grimlock just gave him a look. Megatron didn't even acknowledge it. I don't know what's up with those two. Grimlock's a great fighter and a top-notch leader... but the way he talks, sometimes I wonder what I've gotten myself into, siding with him and the other Autobots.

"Megatron not our friend!" he tells me -- even though I was under the guy's command at first, even though he created me! Does he think I can just forget about that? Sure, the Decepticons' style just isn't meant for me... but to turn around and fight against them, just on Grimlock's say-so? That's pushing it, to say the least.

But when I told him this, he just says something about Razorclaw being the rule, not the exception. That the Decepticons will never let me and the others just switch sides like we did, even though -- even though it wasn't really a switch; it was just figuring out where we should have been in the first place. Okay, so Leadfoot agrees with Grim about it all, says Razorclaw really was going for a kill, but hey, Leadfoot's as much of a hothead as Grimlock. Truth is, we don't know what Razorclaw was thinking when he leapt at me. And even if we did, is that reason enough to damn the entire Decepticon army?

I mean, come on! How can it really be that big a deal to them? We're one force now, one army. Sure, there's a history of bad blood, but look at us now -- working together, we're achieving more as one than we ever could have separately. The alliance will continue; it's just the sensible thing to do. Who can't see that?

So what if I'm taking orders from Optimus Prime now instead of Megatron? What's the difference? Why would Megatron or anyone else even care? What possible reason could either side have for breaking the alliance?

Things have changed! And I just don't see why everyone's so worried about Megatron.




5. Megatron

I see the looks they give me, the hopes in their eyes. There was a time, not long ago, when I would have dismissed those hopeful looks as the sentimental longings of weaklings and fools. Now, though... some part of me understands.

But ultimately, it does not change things.

It nearly did change me. Even I, hardened by millenia of war and conquest, was not unaffected by the battles we fought side-by-side, by the miracle we all witnessed. Indeed, if anything has made me stop and ponder my own path in life, it is certainly the events of these past months. For a time, I thought this change might even be permanent -- and I did not regret it, I did not fight it.

The old ways have come back of their own accord, not from any resistance of my own. Instincts die hard. I cannot alter who I am. How can I settle for a life of petty scratching in the dirt for survival, when there are more glorious paths open? How can I compromise who I am, who I've always been, the dreams I've held for so long, the future I've promised my followers, my race, my self? I have a duty!

I have a new understanding of Optimus Prime, one I've never had before. Almost... empathy. I understand some of the feelings that drive him to do what he does.

I understand them. But I do not share them.

Despite our clashes in the past, I bear him no ill will, now. I have fought alongside him, warrior to warrior, and he has proven as worthy an ally as he has been an obstinate foe in the past. But that which bound us is now past, and our many differences remain. The time will come... soon... when I must go my own way.

And if Prime tries to stop me, I will do what I must -- former alliance or no. Destiny still has a higher calling for me and those I lead, and an allliance of survival must not be allowed to deter us from it.

I have vastly changed from what I was.... and now I have returned to what I am.

**********************THE END****************************

[* -- Yes, this is Grimlock narrating. I'm taking the "flawed speech circuits" approach here, which means that what we hear him say isn't word-for-word what he's thinking. Why? Well, do you really want to read whole paragraphs of "Him brute force kind of guy. Me Grimlock not believe it, but there still Autobots who no see this."? Yeah, I didn't think so.]

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