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Old 2012-10-08, 03:36 AM   #1
Warcry
Likes Beast Wars toys. A lot.
 
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Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Default [FICTION] Beast Wars: Keeping the Peace

Transformers: Beast Wars
Keeping the Peace

His office was deep underground, its' featureless concrete walls a stark reminder of how tenuous the Maximal presence on Pyrovar truly was. The planet had been a Decepticon stronghold in the days of the Great War and a staging ground for the Predacon military before the signing of the Pax Cybertronia, a world where hostility to those who aligned themselves with the power and authority of Cybertron was rooted into the very soil. And in the three hundred years since then, he reflected, not much had changed.

He had only been on the planet for a few weeks, but already he could feel it starting to wear on him. When he had been offered the post as overall commander of the Maximal peacekeeping forces on Pyrovar, he had jumped at it all too eagerly. The posting had earned him a promotion to commander – something he believed to be long overdue. But more importantly, it bought him a place in the spotlight. A tour of duty on Pyrovar was exactly the sort of high-profile assignment that could earn him the accolades of his peers and carry him to the heights he had always considered his due. Ever since his youth he'd dreamed of being addressed as 'general' or even 'Prime' but despite his ambitions – and, he told himself, despite his obvious skills – fate had conspired to deny him.

Although he'd been a soldier almost his whole life through, Torca had never seen combat. He'd come close at different times in his career, but he'd never actually fired a shot in anger. Most soldiers would consider it a minor miracle to be able to say that after almost a century in the army, but to Torca it was a private knot of shame that ate away at his pride in everything he had ever accomplished.

The commander had been built during the halcyon days of the Pax Cybertronia, those bright, hopeful days before the High Council Pavilion, before the hopes and dreams of peaceful cooperation had turned to ash. He had parlayed his high aptitude tests and powerful frame into a place at the Maximal War Academy. He'd served his first tour of duty in the hinterlands of Cybertron's holdings, posted on a starbase that serviced the military and civilian traffic moving past the Crab Nebula. And even after he'd moved on, he'd never found himself in a place that he truly considered dangerous…until now.

In the last days of the Great War, Pyrovar had been the last holdout, the final stronghold of Galvatron's army and the last fortress to stand against the might of the Maximal Imperium. It had been a harsh world then, and little had changed in the intervening centuries to make it any more hospitable. The Decepticon population had mostly been supplanted by Predacons, of course, and the world's poorly-Cyberformed surface had long-since started to crumble, but the attitudes of the natives and the challenges that Torca's men faced were virtually the same. The local politicians routinely denounced the presence of the Maximal peacekeepers, but they were either unable or unwilling to reign in the assortment of terrorists, criminals, separatists and miscellaneous assorted villains who called the world home. The Maximal ground troops were always kept busy trying to police the various illegal organizations that had sprouted out on the planet, and while their aerospace and fleet commands occupied themselves interdicting the smugglers who, Torca thought, probably brought more shanix to the planet than its legitimate industries did. In spite of the popular unrest, it was clear enough to the Maximal commander that without his troops Pyrovar would descend into a lawless, chaotic morass.

Torca's reflections were interrupted by a series of staccato knocks on his heavily-armoured door. He looked up with a smile, knowing immediately who would be asking for some of his time. Although he'd only known the soldier for a few weeks, Torca had quickly come to recognize Longhorn's distinctive mannerisms. He'd handpicked the veteran to serve as his aide and bodyguard, due in equal parts to the sergeant's wide range of experience as a soldier, the many years that he'd spent deployed on the world and his training as a Matrix Templar. The choice had raised a few eyebrows – an officer of Torca's rank usually chose a young, up and coming officer to stand by his side, not a grizzled veteran of dozens of ground campaigns – but Longhorn had given Torca no reason to doubt his instincts so far.

"Come in," Torca beaconed. "What can I do for you?"

"We have a situation," Longhorn told him. There were no wasted words, no honorifics or titles. The sergeant's voice was measured and controlled, betraying no hint of how severe the 'situation' might be. But that right there was a tell. This was Longhorn in serious mode, and Torca knew right away that something bad had happened.

"One of our patrols was ambushed by a squad of Predacon gunmen," Longhorn continued. "Three of our troops got out, but they're in bad shape. Four others were captured, including the unit commander."

Torca groaned. "Have they made any demands yet?"

"Just one," Longhorn told him. The sergeant looked him in the eyes for the first time, a worried expression on his face. "They want to talk to you."
______________________________

Longhorn had tried to talk him out of it, but the commander was having none of it. Either because he was too inexperienced to know the danger he was exposing himself to or because he was too arrogant and self-assured to admit it, Torca insisted that he could handle anything the planet's natives threw at him. The conversation had ended there, and against Longhorn's better judgement the two of them were now standing in a public park, apparently alone, waiting for their Predacon contact to show.

'Apparently', however, was the key word in that sentence. Before Torca had arrived, he had spoken with the regional commander of ground troops in this part of the city – a rather jingoistic trooper who went by T-Wrecks – and arranged for a dozen of his least-conspicuous troops to be stationed within earshot of the proposed meeting place. Although Torca wasn't sure the security arrangements would make much difference, he was glad to have the backup either way.

"Now we wait," Torca said dourly.

"No," Longhorn corrected him. "Now, we watch. Everything."
______________________________

"They're here."

Guiledart gave the other Predacon a quick nod. "Thanks, Dead End. How many of them are there?"

"Archadis says he's spotted a dozen of them skulking around the park, plus the new commander and his bodyguard."

"You say 'bodyguard'? Just one?" Guiledart was genuinely surprised. "Torca should be more cautious."

"Should we grab him?" Dead End asked, out of duty more than anything else.

"No, no," Guiledart said, waving his hand dismissively. "We brought him here for a reason, and that's not it." The Predacon got up from his desk and met Dead End's eyes. "You're in charge while I'm gone. Have Archadis keep monitoring the park. If I'm not back in an hour, you know what to do."

"Yes, sir," Dead End said, suddenly growing grim. "I certainly do."

Guiledart sighed. "You know, you could at least pretend that you think I'll be able to pull this off."

Dead End just laughed.
______________________________

"Well, this is a waste of time," Torca said as he watched a spindly flier (Probably a Predacon spy, he surmised) flash across the sky for the dozenth time in the last ten minutes. The commander seriously considered transforming into his assault vehicle mode and shooting the irritant down, but the thought of what would happen to the hostages if he did stayed his hand. That, plus all the paperwork he'd have to fill out if he was wrong and murdered someone who wasn't actually an enemy combatant.

"I would say just the opposite, actually," Longhorn told him.

"We've been waiting here for nearly half an hour," Torca replied flatly. "No one has spoken to us and nothing of interest has happened since we got here. In what sort of world isn't that a waste of time?"

"For one thing, it tells us something about our enemies," Longhorn explained. "We're not dealing with riffraff here. Not the common rabble-rousing thugs or angry street hoodlums who cause most of the trouble around here. The people behind this are smart and cautious." His voice took on a more serious tone as he added, "Professionals."

"Assuming that's true," Torca said, "what does it tell us?"

"It tells us that they've probably planned this entire day out very carefully," Longhorn told him. "The kidnapping, meeting with you, all of it. We should assume they've got as many people here as we do, and act accordingly."

"That would explain the aerial flybys," Torca agreed.

"You noticed that?" Longhorn asked, smiling approvingly. "We'll make a soldier out of you yet, sir."

"For all of our sakes, I certainly hope not," said a pleasant voice addressing them from a few hundred paces away. "After all, I brought you here to make peace. The last thing this world needs is more soldiers."

Torca jumped and spun around to face the new voice, deploying the paralytic cannon built into his left arm and taking aim at the Predacon. He was vaguely aware of Longhorn deploying his shoulder cannons as well, but once Torca recognized his opposite number he was too stunned to pay much attention to anything else.

"Guiledart?" he said incredulously.

"The one and only," the Predacon confirmed. "It's good to see you again, old friend."
______________________________

Guiledart had to smile at the shock plainly visible on his former comrade's face. It had been a long time since the two of them had served together as junior officers, but they'd been close then. That was a long time ago and they'd drifted apart, but it still had to come as a pretty big shock for him to show up out of nowhere. Certainly that was how Guiledart had felt when his old 'friend' had arrived to take command of the Maximal occupation force that held the Predacon homeworld in the grip of an increasingly strict police state.

"I'm not your friend," Torca declared, angry now that the shock had begun to fade.

"No?" Guiledart feigned ignorance. "Why not? You didn't find me so objectionable during the decade or so we spent together on Zetha."

"When we worked together on Zetha," Torca said pointedly, "you weren't a terrorist."

"And I'm not a terrorist now," Guiledart told him. "I'm exactly the same as I was then – a soldier fighting to keep his people safe."

"You've certainly got a funny way of doing it," Torca scoffed. "Attacking my soldiers isn't going to make Pyrovar safer, not for anyone."

"I know," Guiledart admitted. "And you probably won't believe me, but I never wanted anyone to get hurt. Not today and not ever. You know me, and you know that life is very precious to me."

"You're right." Torca's optics narrowed. "I don't believe you."

His sharp words stung Guiledart. The Predacon had castigated Scavenger and his petty gang for a good half-hour when he'd heard that three Maximal soldiers had been injured in their foolish attack. He'd always been a strong voice for peace, but lately Guiledart felt like no one was listening. His people were lashing out in anger, and he couldn't blame them. He'd been away from home for a long time, but if Torca's attitude was representative of how the Maximal occupiers treated his people it was pretty clear why the Predacons were so upset. He was just happy that he'd managed to put the brakes on before anyone had been killed...this time, anyway. He might not be so lucky the next time if things didn't go well today.

"If I wanted to kill anyone," Guiledart told the Maximal, a dangerous edge in his voice now, "you and your bodyguard would be at the top at the list." His voice grew polite again, as if he and Torca were talking over a glass of energon instead of in the middle of a park with armed bodyguards at their sides. "It would be quite the coup, you know, luring the head of the Maximal occupation force into a trap like this. It would probably earn me a quick promotion. But I'm not interested in it. At all. And do you know why?"

"No, but I'm sure you'll tell me."

Guiledart sighed. "Things don't have to be like this, Torca. You and I, we used to work together. We were friends, comrades-in-arms. And we weren't alone, not by a long shot. Maximals and Predacons all across the Imperium worked together side by side, happily. But then things started falling apart. Our people were well on the way to reconciliation, but now…we're regressing, Torca. Don't tell me you can't see it."

"This isn't a political debate, Guiledart." Torca crossed his arms, something that the Predacon had seen more than once in their youth when the other Transformer was at his most obstinate. "It isn't a negotiation either. You have four of my men trussed up in a hideaway somewhere. Release them now or what happens next will be on your head."

"Your men are safe," Guiledart told Torca, "somewhere that you will never, ever find them. Once I've returned safely from this meeting, they'll be released."

"Just like that?" Torca asked incredulously. "You would have me believe that you would go to all the trouble to kidnap them and just let them go? No demands, no negotiations or anything of the sort?"

"Yes," Guiledart told him. "I do. Because I've already got what I wanted out of the situation."

"Which is?"

"You," Guiledart answered bluntly. "I wanted to talk to you."
______________________________

The Predacon's words filled Torca with a rage the likes of which he hadn't experienced in ages.

All of this…the injured troops, the fear that the captive soldiers must be feeling…all of it so he could talk to me?

"A comm call would have sufficed," Torca said bitterly.

"I'll be sure to remember that for next time," Guiledart said sincerely.

"There won't be a 'next time'," Torca all but spat. "I don't want anything to do with you. The next time we see each other will be when I get called to testify against you at your trial. And if you ever pull another stunt like this I'll kill you where you stand."

"Calm down," Guiledart told him. "Calm down and listen, because I have a very important message to give you."

"Don't bother," Torca told him. "I care to hear anymore of your propaganda."

"It doesn't have to be this way, Torca." The Predacon sighed. "How long has this been going on? How many years has Pyrovar been occupied? How many people, how many Autobots and Decepticons, Maximals and Predacons have died pointlessly on this planet? But you can end it, Torca. You can end all of it right now."

"And how precisely could I do that?"

"Leave," Guiledart told him. "Pack up your soldiers – sorry, your 'peacekeepers' – your warships, your bases and security checkpoints and go home."

"You can't be serious," Torca said incredulously.

"Deadly serious," Guiledart replied. "All of this," he gestured around him to the run-down park that they were occupying, "all of this happened because your High Council decided to clamp down on the Predacon independence movement."

"No, Guiledart," Torca snapped. "This planet didn't turn into the Pit because of an act of Council. It didn't become a haven for terrorists, smugglers, pirates and criminals of every stripe because a few political parties got banned. Your homeworld is crumbling, Guiledart, because you and your ilk can't let go of your misbegotten dreams of a Predacon Empire and live peacefully alongside the rest of your species!"

"Chicken or egg?" Guiledart said ruefully. "Most of my people were perfectly happy to live peaceful, normal lives right up until they couldn't look out the window without seeing a platoon's worth of Maximal soldiers roughing up random pedestrians. But it's amazing how much hate a hundred years of oppression can breed. And Torca? It's only going to get worse."

"Justify your choices to yourself all you want," Torca told him. "But don't expect me or anyone else with half a brain to accept it. When you're ready to turn yourself in and rejoin civil society, we can talk. Until then, don't waste my time."

"I was afraid you'd say that," Guiledart sighed. "If that's the attitude you're going to take, old friend, then what happens next will be on your head. Not mine."

"Lets start with this, then," Torca snarled – half a second before he punched the Predacon in the face.
______________________________

Longhorn watched in disappointment as Torca slugged his Predacon friend. He'd been a soldier for long enough now to know that things were never as simple as they seemed, and jumping into a violent confrontation like this was never a good idea. But regardless of how he felt about the situation Longhorn was a soldier, and as a soldier he would do what he had to do.

Torca's rash action elicited a quick response from the crowd. Two Predacons who'd been pointedly ignoring them while pretending to enjoy the scenery rushed toward them, drawing weapons. Longhorn took a quick stride, placing himself between them and his commander as he deployed his forearm blades. A quick slash with his left arm and the nearer of the two collapsed in a heap, clutching the stump where his right wrist – pistol and all – had been neatly amputated. The other Predacon froze for a second on shock, and a quick kick from Longhorn's reverse-articulated legs caught him in the torso and sent him crumbling to the ground. Once he was sure neither one was going to get back up, Longhorn interposed himself between Torca and Guiledart with another long stride.

"That's enough," he said, addressing his commander in the tone of voice that he usually reserved for first term cadets who'd forgotten to wear their Maximal insignias to inspection. "Sir, we're here to get our troops back, not to beat up on the person who took them."

Torca shot him a death glare, but quickly then shifted the focus of his rage back to Guiledart.

With his commander preoccupied, Longhorn waved over one of their troops and had him drag off the wounded Predacons for medical treatment.

The situation might be ugly, he mused, but we're not savages. He shot a wary look over at Torca. Not yet, anyway.
______________________________

Torca glared down at the stunned Guiledart, arms crossed in defiance once more. "So," he spat. "'What happens next', hmm? That sounds suspiciously like a threat, friend."

"No threats." Guiledart collected himself and slowly rose to his feet. "Or at least, none other than the ones you've made. Let me tell you a story, Torca."

"I don't have time for this, Guiledart. Either give me my people back or admit that you're pulling my chain so that I can shoot you in the face and get it over with."

"All in good time, old friend." Guiledart had the temerity to smile as he said it. "Storytime first. It's a story about a couple of friends and the different directions their lives took. Now, these two friends went through the War Academy together. They had almost the same marks, and they ended up being assigned to the same post after graduation. Working as junior officers, they both got spotless performance reviews. They were as identical as two officers could be…until one of them got promoted on schedule, and the other one didn't. He didn't understand why, so he started to work even harder. His superiors, including his former peer, kept praising him…but nothing ever came of it. His friend got promoted again and eventually got reassigned to a more high-profile post, all while the other soldier toiled away as a lowly sub-lieutenant. Until one day, after nearly fifty years of service, he finally accepted that he'd never advance in his chosen career and resigned his commission. And you know what the only difference between the two of them was, Commander Torca? You're a Maximal and I'm a Predacon. One of us is a second-class citizen."

"Really? That's it? You honestly think there was some grand conspiracy to keep you down? Get over yourself, Guiledart. You were a mediocre soldier with a bad attitude and you were treated like it."

Guiledart laughed. "I was a better soldier than you, Torca. I still am. But I was never given a fair shake. None of my people are. We were willing to give peace a chance. Most of us still are. But for that to happen you needed to give us a chance."

"We did," Torca shot back. "We did. After the Pax Cybertronia, we did. Do you think you would have been allowed into the academy if we didn't want to give you a chance? But you people turned around and threw it back in our faces."

Torca didn't have to be any more specific than that. Guiledart would know what he meant. Everyone would know what he meant. It had been a day so terrible that no Cybertronian would ever forget it, a day that had shaken the very foundations of Transformer society.

"What Windrazor did was completely unacceptable, but—"

"No buts," Torca snapped. "He set off a fusion bomb in the high council chamber. While they were celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of Treaty Day."

"I realize that, Torca." Guiledart was getting angry himself, now. "But you need to look at it from our perspective."

"The perspective of the suicide bomber who blew up three hundred veterans of the Great War? Who murdered more Autobots in one attack than Galvatron managed in the last fifty years of fighting? That perspective?"

"No," Guiledart said. His momentary anger seemed to have faded, replaced now with the sadness of someone who was having to face up to a still-open wound. "The perspective of a people who lost over a hundred of their own heroes in the same attack. Those three hundred dead weren't just Autobots, Torca. Shockwave, Spinister, Rage, Sinnertwin, Breakdown, Blackjack, Acid Storm, Lyzack…the list of Decepticons who died is almost as long as the list of Autobots."

"So what?" Torca demanded.

"So we suffered the loss just as strongly as you. We'd been betrayed, just like you. But we were betrayed twofold." Guiledart's optics narrowed. "One of our own butchered more than half of the Decepticon and Predacon signatories of the Pax in one fell swoop. Then our Maximal allies turned on us and blamed us for the bombing. Put yourself in the place of an innocent Predacon merchant or artist or programmer, Torca, and tell me how you'd feel if you came online one morning to find that your entire race had been officially declared untrustworthy by your own government."

Torca clenched his jaw. "I didn't come here to listen to your deluded manifesto," he rumbled. "Predacons get a raw deal. So what?"

"So what?" Guiledart repeated, incredulous. "Over twenty million Transformers – nearly a third of the population – live under constant suspicion for no reason other than where they were built. They have no opportunities in life, no chances to advance or pull themselves out of the squalor your Maximals have shoved them down into." His optics narrowed. "My people are angry, Torca. And they have every right to be."

"So what?" Torca said again. "None of this gives you the right to kidnap my troops and hold them to ransom, any more than your terrorism gives me a right to start rounding up and shooting random Predacons."

"The kidnappers didn't take them for ransom, you idiot!" Guiledart snapped angrily. "They took them to be executed."

"What?" Torca tensed, and he felt Longhorn take a step ahead of him in case he needed to interpose himself between the two of them once more.

"Like I said," Guiledart repeated, "the people are angry. Angry people do stupid things. A gang of young Predacons dragged your men in off the streets. They were planning to parade them in front of the rest of the disorganized rabble they called a 'resistance cell' and kill them." His eyes narrowed. "I stopped them, Torca. I'm not holding your troops hostage. I rescued them."

Torca was thrown by what the Predacon had to say, and it took him a few moments to regain his train of thought. All he could think to ask was, "Why?"

"They want to start a war, Torca," Guiledart told him. "These ignorant rebel bands think they've got enough firepower to take on the whole Imperium, and they want to prove it. The Alliance has hundreds of agents in the field at any one time trying to make sure that doesn't happen. I'm one of them. I've seen the Maximal Army up close, I know what we'll be facing if I fail and I can't let that happen."

Guiledart turned, slowly walking away from Torca with his shoulders slumped in defeat.

"Obviously you don't feel the same. I'll release your soldiers as soon as I get back to the renegades' base, Torca. They should be meeting you here in a couple breems. While you're waiting…think about what I've said."
______________________________

Torca wanted to say something to Guiledart as he walked away, but he didn't. What was there to say? They'd been allies, once. Friends, even. But when the time came for Guiledart to choose between his friends and his people, he'd made the wrong choice. Chance had put them on the same side today, but Torca wasn't foolish enough to think that would last. Guiledart was a Predacon through and through. He would keep the peace for as long as the Tripredacus Council told him to and not a moment longer.

They really had been friends, once. But now? Torca couldn't really understand what was going through Guiledart's head, but how could he? Everything the Predacon had said had been true, even if he'd slanted it to support his argument. But what Torca had said, all of that was true too. It was the lives they'd led, Torca suddenly realized, that led him and his old friend to see the same world but understand it completely differently.

And in the final accounting, Torca realized he couldn't blame Guiledart. He hadn't been on Pyrovar for long, but he'd been there long enough to see the grinding poverty and despair that afflicted so many of it's residents…and to see the undisguised hatred that looked back at him from so many innocent civilians. And worse, he'd seen the same look on the faces of his own troops, directed toward the very people they were supposed to be protecting.

Guiledart was right, in a way. The Maximals and Predacons had actually believed that peace could work, once. They'd lived and worked together, trusted each other and genuinely tried to forge a new future together. But those days were long gone, and those hopes had long since been consigned to the dustbin of history. There was nothing left now but fear, suspicion and hate. Nothing left but a perpetual "Peacekeeping Occupation" that did nothing to keep the peace and everything to stir up more and more strife. Nothing left but discrimination, poverty and marginalization. And Torca wasn't just a part of it, he was in charge of it.

"Not anymore," he whispered under his breath. "Not anymore."
______________________________

Epilogue

"That worked out a lot better than it could have," Magmatron said, a satisfied expression on his face. "Good work."

Guiledart had spent several days cleaning up the mess that Scavenger and his goons had started, but it looked like he'd finally started to put everything to bed. The soldiers had been released and the hoodlums who'd kidnapped them had been turned over to the Maximal authorities for trial. He didn't envy the other Predacons their fate, but they'd brought it upon themselves. Random acts of violence served nobody.

Once he'd finished with all that, the Predacon officer had taken the first shuttle up to Predacon Command Outpost One for a meeting with his supervisor. Now he was standing next to the much larger Predacon, shoulder to shoulder at a viewport that stared down that the blighted, charred surface of Pyrovar.

Like it always did, the view of his ruined home almost made Guiledart lose all hope for the future. But he didn't want his superior to see that, so he covered it with a smile. "Torca is leaving, I hear?"

"He is." Magmatron turned away from the window, obviously no happier with what he was seeing than Guiledart was. "According to our agents in Cybertropolis, he's been recalled. They're trying to find the transcript of the council session he addressed, but apparently it's been sealed." The Predacon commander waved his hand as if indifferent to the whole thing. "All in all, a resounding success! Exactly what I would expect from my new sub-commander."

Guiledart tried to conceal his surprise, but he didn't think he'd succeeded. "I'm not sure I've done anything to deserve that, sir."

Magmatron scoffed. "Oh, nonsense. You singlehandedly foiled a renegade scheme that would have brought the entire Maximal army down on us. In fact, you've managed to turn it from an embarrassment to an opportunity. You've heard of that narcoleptic grinning idiot who fancied himself a new Galvatron, yes?"

Guiledart nodded.

"He claimed to have found a new source of energy that would let the Predacons reign supreme, bwa-ha-ha. The typical megalomaniac routine." Magmatron smiled. "The only thing is, he might actually have been onto something. He and his crew have disappeared along with the Maximal crew who'd been sent to deal with him. I'm taking a ship out to see what happened, and I want a second in command that I can rely on to think his way out of problems instead of shooting them. And thanks to you, the planet's leaderless Maximal garrison won't be able to interfere with our launch. I think that makes you the perfect choice."

"Oh." Guiledart was flattered and didn't even try to hide it. "When you put it like that, sir, I'm only too happy to accept."
______________________________

He'd only brought a small box, since his office had never been what you'd call opulent. And aside from a few mementos from his previous postings and a small collection of service medals, there really wasn't much to pack. But in spite of that, Torca just couldn't bring himself to get up from behind his desk and walk out.

There was a knock at the door. Torca looked up from the metal crate that he'd filled with his personal effects, doing his best to muster up a smile for Longhorn when he walked in.

"Come to see me off?"

"Not quite," Longhorn told him, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "You're not supposed to be here unescorted. It would seem that you're a security risk, sir."

Torca laughed. "One of the clerks actually called security on me?"

"That they did, sir."

Torca shook his head. "You tell one High Council meeting that that maybe we'd make more headway sending construction crews and teachers here instead of soldiers, and all of a sudden everyone thinks you're a Predacon sympathizer…"

"Are you?" Longhorn asked him seriously.

Torca was taken aback by the question, one that he'd never seriously stopped and thought about before. After a few seconds consideration, he shrugged and said, "You know what? I think I probably am."

Longhorn nodded approvingly, as if Torca had finally faced up to a deep, dark secret about himself. And maybe, just maybe, he had. Maybe Guiledart hadn't actually convinced him of anything. Maybe his old Predacon friend had simply opened his eyes to all the abuses that he'd already seen since he'd arrived on Pyrovar and forced him to think about what they really meant. Maybe Torca had known it even longer than that and just not wanted to face it. Maybe it was something that every Maximal knew, but something that was so ingrained into their society that it felt normal to them. It was a disturbing train of thought, and one that he'd followed to to it's natural, unsettling conclusion more than once over the last few days.

What if we're the bad guys? Torca asked himself. Have we become what our ancestors spent so much time fighting?

He'd grappled unsuccessfully with the question more than once over the last few days, but this time Longhorn spared him by asking, "If I may ask…what will you do now, sir?"

Torca sighed. "I honestly don't know. Assuming they can't trump up a reason to drum me out of the service entirely, they'll probably put me in command of an exploration ship and fire me off into the Outer Rim somewhere so I can't make any more trouble. That's what they do with disgraced commanders these days, isn't it?"

"Are you? Disgraced, I mean?"

Torca wasn't sure how to answer that, other than to say, "The Council certainly thinks so. They don't like it when the nice, simple narratives they like to spread are contradicted by inconvenient facts."

"The truth is never inconvenient," Longhorn said with surprising ferocity.

Torca forced himself to get up from behind his desk. "To you and me, maybe. To soldiers. But to politicians?"

As Torca walked out of the ramshackle office that had once been his, Longhorn fell into step beside him. The two of them walked along in companionable silence for a few minutes before Longhorn spoke again.

"So, this exploration ship they're going to exile you on," he said, "does it have room for one more?"

Torca smiled again, and this time he really meant it. "If it doesn't, my friend, I'll make room."
______________________________

This story's a bit more preachy than I'm used to, and obviously makes allegorical reference to a lot of real-world scenarios that are neither black nor white. Hopefully that doesn't detract from anyone's enjoyment of the story. I've always had the impression that the politics of the Beast Wars universe are a lot more complex and greyer than the simple good vs. evil dynamic that the Autobot/Decepticon conflict brings.

I've always had a soft spot for the non-show Beast Wars characters. That's why I was so excited by the prospect of IDW's Beast Wars comics, and why I was so disappointed when they turned into an exercise in "let's cram in as many characters as possible!" Part of that is because most of the Beast Wars toys I owned as a kid were non-show characters, first-wave toys I bought before the show started (which roughly coincided with my parents telling me "no, you're too old for toys"...that worked out well for them, didn't it?). Another reason is that the Beast Wars story arc is very tight and closed-ended, so But I've always been fascinated by the wide variety of interesting non-entities who got toys but only a few paragraphs of personality. A few years back I wrote a story starring Sky Shadow, and today it's Torca's turn.

Normally I like to write a story building from the characters out, but this one was different -- once I knew the story I wanted to tell, the characters I needed filled themselves in for me. Torca himself is exactly the same character as Polar Claw, a generically badass Maximal field commander. Either one of them could have filled the lead role interchangeably, but Torca got it because of his more interesting character design.

Guiledart, for those of us not familiar with the Japanese Beast Wars shows, was a character from BW Neo. He was Magmatron's loyal second in command, more or less 'Beast Wars Cyclonus'. Most of the canonical Predacons are idiots, traitors or vicious killers, so when I went looking for a Predacon who was smart, loyal and dedicated my choices were basically Guiledart or Vice Grip. Guiledart won out because he has the coolest Transformer name ever.

Longhorn is the last major character in the story. Unlike the other two, I could have pretty much chosen any Beast Wars Maximal to fill his role and no one would have batted an eye. So naturally, I chose a Beast Machines Maximal instead (with lots of design cues taken from his Universe body). There's no real need for that in-story, but I have some half-formed ideas about continuing Torca's story in the future and Longhorn would definitely play a big role in whatever happened next.
 
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Old 2012-10-08, 02:47 PM   #2
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You killed me off, you bastard! Off-screen, to boot!

And, um, Rage as part of the Pax Cybertronia? Really?

Otherwise, though, a great, great piece for both Guiledart and Torca, and both Longhorn and Magmatron receive quite a bit of nice character moments as well. The politics and gray areas are touched on pretty well, and Guiledart's motivations and the racist background always alluded to in the Beast Wars cartoon gets shown in full flow here.

Torca, for one, has developed from a simple big brute Maximal in my head into, well, an actual character. I like how he keeps trying to cling to his Maximal beliefs despite Guiledart laying all the evidence (manipulated or otherwise) to get him to change his mind.

Guiledart has an awesome name, and a nice little profile for such a nobody from the Japanese Beast Wars series. And, well, the guy's a bit of a magnificent bastard, isn't he?

Nobody likes Windrazor, indeed.
 
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Old 2012-10-11, 06:32 AM   #3
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You killed me off, you bastard! Off-screen, to boot!
It beats being an implied casualty who doesn't even get namedropped, don't you think?

I'm assuming that most of the G1 cast is long-since dead, with the only clear exceptions being Ravage, Grimlock, Reincarnated!Prowl and (maybe) Iguanus.

Oh, and Soundwave apparently, since he lived long enough to get his spark extracted in Beast Machines.

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And, um, Rage as part of the Pax Cybertronia? Really?
I'm going to assume that the treaty included a clause about supplying him with lots of narcotics and psychotherapy.

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Torca, for one, has developed from a simple big brute Maximal in my head into, well, an actual character. I like how he keeps trying to cling to his Maximal beliefs despite Guiledart laying all the evidence (manipulated or otherwise) to get him to change his mind.
For all his years of experience, Torca's basically a rookie -- he's spent his century-long career inspecting cargo and filling out paperwork. He's a glory-seeker, and like most glory-seekers he gets a pretty harsh lesson in how war -- or "peacekeeping" -- is anything but and his black and white ideals are nothing but a fantasy. Poor guy's maturing at the speed of an asari...in a couple hundred more years he might even have grown up enough to tell Guiledart he was at least partly right.

But one of the things I like about Beast Wars is that the setting makes this sort of story possible. In G1, where everyone's either war-born or been fighting a war for four million years, these lessons have already been learned.
 
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Old 2012-10-13, 04:45 PM   #4
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I'm assuming that most of the G1 cast is long-since dead, with the only clear exceptions being Ravage, Grimlock, Reincarnated!Prowl and (maybe) Iguanus.
Eh, better than having practically everyone walking around still alive and healthy in IDW or Fun Publications' version of Beast Wars, despite it being supposedly set off in the far flung future after G1.

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Oh, and Soundwave apparently, since he lived long enough to get his spark extracted in Beast Machines.
That was a generic, wasn't it? IIRC the G1 guys we saw in Beast Machines (Soundwave and Prowl) were supposed to be generics...

Do you really think Soundwave would stand there stupidly and allow shitty little Nightscream to hide behind him? Soundwave would feed Nightscream to the Vehicons. No, that's... that's probably Kaon or somebody masquerading as Soundwave for Halloween and the real Soundwave probably died in an epic battle before Beast Machines.

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Poor guy's maturing at the speed of an asari...
So in a couple of years Torca's going to don a skimpy hooker suit and lap-dance for perverted Commander Shepards in the seedy bars in Omega?
 
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Old 2012-10-13, 06:57 PM   #5
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Eh, better than having practically everyone walking around still alive and healthy in IDW or Fun Publications' version of Beast Wars, despite it being supposedly set off in the far flung future after G1.
I think it was 3H that started it, but FunPub carried on the tradition. At the very least, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker, Hot Rod, Skywarp, Cyclonus, Arcee, Ratchet, Ironhide, Outback, Chromia, the G1 Predacons, Laserbeak and Buzzsaw were still running around during the Beast-era in the fanclub stuff.

That's...a bit much.

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Do you really think Soundwave would stand there stupidly and allow shitty little Nightscream to hide behind him? Soundwave would feed Nightscream to the Vehicons. No, that's... that's probably Kaon or somebody masquerading as Soundwave for Halloween and the real Soundwave probably died in an epic battle before Beast Machines.
I think Soundwave realized how boring and preachy the show he was in was and let himself be killed because it had sapped all of his will to live.

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So in a couple of years Torca's going to don a skimpy hooker suit and lap-dance for perverted Commander Shepards in the seedy bars in Omega?
Don't even joke about things like that. I didn't need that image in my head.

Besides, he'd obviously sign up as an Eclipse merc.
 
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Old 2012-10-14, 03:07 AM   #6
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I think it was 3H that started it, but FunPub carried on the tradition. At the very least, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, Trailbreaker, Hot Rod, Skywarp, Cyclonus, Arcee, Ratchet, Ironhide, Outback, Chromia, the G1 Predacons, Laserbeak and Buzzsaw were still running around during the Beast-era in the fanclub stuff.
Still no idea how Ironhide and Ratchet are alive despite, well, you know, 'such heroic nonsense'.

Plus Deathsaurus. And Devcon. And Smokescreen. And Ransack. And Big Daddy. And Squeezeplay. And Jhiaxus. And Dai King Atlas. And Brawn. Hell, IIRC even Wheelie made an appearance in the Universe comics despite being killed in the first issue of 3H's Wreckers... and that's just 3H.

And Rook, Glyph, Tap-Out, Roulette and Shadow Striker, retconned G1 characters. And Fun Pub retconned new-G1 guys Flamewar, Moonracer-but-not-Moonracer and Ben Yee's Cyberjet fan character as well.

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Don't even joke about things like that. I didn't need that image in my head.
What do you expect, comparing Torca to an Asari?
 
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Old 2012-10-14, 04:53 AM   #7
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And Squeezeplay.
Wait, what?
 
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Old 2012-10-14, 07:15 AM   #8
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Wait, what?
Squeezeplay showed up in one of the 'let's take twenty random guys we have and plonk it together' scene in one of the the Universe comics because one of the writers had Squeezeplay when he was a kid. Of course he could be Marvel Squeezeplay or something, but since we're dealing with BW/BM continuity here...
 
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