Title: Peace Through Tyranny
Date: 04 June 2015
Summary: Hot Rod and Megatron talk authority, justice, legitimacy, power, and righteousness. THEY DISAGREE.
All that is left now is victory, right?
The 'fall' of the Council should be a marker in Cybertronian history, being a point when all on this planet can unite. No longer is function or form a deciding factor for a bot, *any* bot, and that is all thanks to Megatron. Or so it should be. He has rallied an army, a people, forged them into a movement and set them forth on a path that will bring about a new era. He did that. Surely everybot will recognize that and accept him for what he is; their savior.
Megatron is not a fickle machine and every promise he has made, spoken or internalized, he means to carry out. One of the latter was to the rebellious leader that arose in Nyon. There are some similarities there, things that the Decepticon leader can identify as being akin to traits of his own, yet Hot Rod is a mech that has not yet come 'far enough' in his journey. Now more than ever Megatron is in need of those that would or could understand him. A ... friend... as it were, or at least a colleague. Somebot to relate to and one that can relate to him. Megatron has not called upon Hot Rod but once before, when he handed over the false Matrix and has not sought out the be-flamed racer since. Until now.
Vehicons are the ready to meet Hot Rod, he will have been lead to the entrance of the brig, which is where Megatron now stands. Pensive. He is mired in his own thoughts. Unlike before, at the memorial to Orion Pax, his fusion cannon is now on his arm and it is that arm, that hand, that he rubs his chin as he thinks. There is only one way this should go, only one way that it must.
Hot Rod's easy and amiable right up until he registers the destination. Brig. Jail, cops, law: all those bad things check him in a brief, reflexive brake, and he only gets moving again after asking -- laughing, but asking, because ha ha, he's not under arrest, right? -- and getting an answer.
This is friendly, right? GOOD. Hot Rod's back in a friendly mood, once past the chaos of the Council's fall. Those whispers over the radio, accusing Decepticons of trampling the innocent on the path to peace (because that's what it is, a path to peace), haven't been backed up by facts. By evidence. Instead, airwaves and datalinks overflow with the good news. There are no new arrests. Pardons have been promised. With justice comes mercy.
It's hard not to feel hope. Hot Rod doesn't even fight it. It lifts his voice as he breaks into Megatron's pensive thought with a bright, "Now what?"
"Now we rebuild."
That comes easily as a reply - either because it is what Megatron was thinking or because it is a well practiced, almost automated response at this point. He lowers his hand and turns to look to see who it is that has come to see him when, ah yes, he is the one that summoned Hot Rod. "Now we move forward, in the ways were were always intended to. Now innovation need not be limited to only those allowed to experience it. Now no bot need fear the thought they are less than the bot beside them. Now we move forward," Megatron repeats, almost as though it is a mantra for himself on this day.
"No doubt you have questions. I know I do... yet I mean for you, concerning the assault. Soundwave tells me you were not present yet I had hoped... well, you were instrumental in the downfall of the Institution. This was no different," he assures, as if he can equate Hot Rod to himself. "The reports I read suggested you nearly perished to see the Institute undone. You were willing to risk your life for what is right, what is *just*. New Cybertron will need such dedication if it is to reforge itself. I am hopeful that you will join me in my continued efforts to see our world express its new found freedom."
It's rare for Hot Rod to hesitate. He doesn't here. "I do," he admits, pushing forward when Megatron leaves the opening. "Prowl and that other guy -- they said a lot of innocents were getting caught up in the crossfire." He fails to raise legal concerns. (For now.) But it's clearly not first in his thoughts. "I was there when you first took Kaon, too, all that time ago." (It wasn't that long ago to someone who has lived more than 20,000 years, but when that is nearly the entirety of your life...! Well.) "I know how easy it is for that happen. So what did happen? Who was hurt?"
Concern tied to a deep passion, Hot Rod's voice is vibrant as he speaks. "Those are the ones we'll have to protect. Those are the ones who've been abused too long by the Primes, the Senate, the Functionists. If there is anything that's right, anything that's just, it's putting them first in rebuilding. Not sacrificing them for convenience."
"Those that took to the streets in Iacon were not innocent - on either side. Every Decepticon that stepped into the fray knew what they were doing - I made sure of that. They were given orders to not assault any civilian that was not in their way nor to fire upon any claimed Autobot. Feel free to ask any soldier that should you wish." Megatron even gestures to one of the several Vehicons here should Hot Rod wish to do so right now. "There were no bystanders, no helpless bots milling on the streets. If somebot was harmed, even slain, then it was because they chose to be there. Is that not the very definition of freedom? The ability to defend ones own choices? Caught in the crossfire would imply that there were bots there that did not wish to be. If not a Decepticon, those in attendance were there to defend the Functionist Council. They defended poorly. There was no effort to chase any of them down, and as you might of heard, amnesty is promised to all those that renounce devotion to the Council."
"What happened was that justice was carried out, Hot rod. Not some long measured debate that would force more *truly innocent* bots to suffer. There were cries during the assault, and after, in particular by one named Leadslinger. About how the Council was not brought to trial. You *see* why that could not be, don't you? Asking bots to endure such unnecessary hardships even a moment longer is intolerable to me and it is abhorrent to think that there are those that would believe in such a thing. You *know* the pain that others have had to live with. You have *fought* for them. This is what happened - peace was delivered for those too unwilling or unable to fight for it themselves."
Megatron shakes his head. "I assure you, it is they who are foremost in my mind and first among my considerations. Who else would all of this been for? It must be for them. I am strong so I fight. Let my strength serve for those that cannot rise up themself." The Decepticon leader smiles here believing that... yes, he made the right choice in reaching out to Hot Rod at this particular moment. "It is for them that we must continue to labor to ensure their safety. They have sacrificed far more than enough. It is not they that need to give any more."
He then motions towards the brig. "May I present you with something?"
Hot Rod /almost/ looks convinced. He catches on a minor point or two. Or three: "Sometimes civilians get in the way anyway. It's not their fault! It's chaos, you know that. They're just trying to get /away/. They don't mean to get /in/ the way." His expression brightens, however, as he says, "I did hear about the amnesty. And I was glad to hear it. Mercy's been in short supply."
That's the Decepticons, though. Mercy, freedom, justice. Yep. What a bright new day.
"Justice?" Although Hot Rod sounds doubtful, he's uncertain on this point. He wavers, very nearly persuadable. "The Council was terrible. The Functionists have been at the root of a lot that was wrong. Their hands have been behind everything. I'm not denying that. But who makes that choice? It doesn't seem right, just making that decision. That's what the Primes did." Once he's said as much, he seems to rethink the wisdom of saying so to Megatron's face -- but too late! It's been said!
The rest is certainly more convincing. It plays right into everything that Hot Rod holds up as a model of behavior. Defending the weak. Saving the innocent. Protecting the helpless. His doubts fade, but they certainly don't vanish. The words he's spoken linger, but curiosity pushes him forward another step, eagerly caught up in the idea of ~heroism~ again. "What?" he asks, following the gesture to the brig.
"The people of Cybertron make the choices now." Megatron says that with such *confidence* that there shouldn't be any doubt that he doesn't believe it. In his mind that is how this is working. The people 'speak' and he does, for them. That is how it is, right? Megatron stiffens, visibly, as Hot Rod suggests that there is anything Prime-like in his approach. Megatron looks ready to answer that... but stops himself. Reminds himself of what has guided him.
"It is remarkable to me how many that wish to suggest they can advocate for the bots of Cybertron without ever actually talking to them. The Primes did not listen; they dictated. I have listened. This is what Cybertron wanted, which is a truth that I believe many that have taken to keeping the Autobot symbol are unwilling to acknowledge. Their perception of reality does not match that of what is actually out there, what the common bot say to one another." Of that he is sure.
Considering that settled Megatron turns, knowing Hot Rod will follow. Into the brig he goes. The cells they are mostly empty though there are a few scattered prisoners here and there. It is one cell in particular that Megatron leads Hot Rod to where, inside, are a trio of bots. All are bound and gagged. "There was a great deal of research involved that went into the attack on the Council, prior to and after. As you said, they were the root of virtually every evil that has plagued us. There was a lot to be uncovered. Such as," and he gestures towards the three in the cell, "Those that calculated and decided on the choice to send Zeta into Nyon. Those that coached Zeta's use and technology used on the innocent there. Those that armed the Destroyers that marched on it."
A slight frown creases the metal of Hot Rod's brow. It's an uncertain, thoughtful expression. There's a 'how' written across his features that -- for the moment -- he doesn't speak. How do the people speak? How does Megatron know he's really doing what they want? How, how, how.
But he follows. Of course he does. And when Megatron tells him what sits in the cell before them, Hot Rod's eyes widen with a sudden blaze of light. Heat runs through his lines, followed by ice. His ventilations come just a little quicker as his systems heat with a stifled impulse to action. The weapons on his arms don't quite activate, but it's a near thing. His systems growl. He's drawn forward, to stand just before the cell as though magnetized. "How--." His voice breaks in static. "Are you sure? How do you know that?"
The answer to both is the same. "By being sure."
Megatron motions for one of the Vehicons to come forward. "There are many that seek to call themselves champions of the people when really they have no interact with the people at all; even a willingness to engage with them. They see themself as being above their equals, that they are set apart either by their power or their willingness to use it. The people of Cybertron have suffered under the boot of such a rulership for far too long. The Primes, false as they were - as we know now, ruled in this manner. Then there are the *true* champions of the people - those that don't seek it for the glory that might come with it or the power, but because it is *right*. You listened to the bots of Nyon, those that others disregarded, cast aside, wrote off. That is what I have done for all of Cybertron. I have spoken with my brethren, walked among them. I *am* one of them. Those I cannot reach, Soundwave does for me. He ensures I hear what needs to be heard. When I say that I act for the majority of Cybertron, believe me, I *do*. There are some that still wish to cling to what is known and others, often Autobots, that presume to know what is best for their fellow mech. The era of such decisions being made *for* us can no longer be tolerated. If we are to be free then it is the people that much speak loudest. It is their will that must be done."
The Vehicon presents Megatron with a datapad which he in turn presents to Hot Rod. "Should you not be willing to believe Soundwave's confirmation as to their guilt then let this assure you on it. These are the documents they signed that lead to all those actions. If you need proof that justice is demanded then here is it, Hot Rod." Bullet meet gun. Now all that is needed is for the trigger to be pulled.
That's a pretty good answer, actually. It seems to address everything that matters while gliding lightly past the questions of authority, responsibility, and the righteousness of right. Hot Rod reaches for the datapad when it is presented, but the action is reflexive. He doesn't even look at it. He just takes the datapad and holds it to his chest, pressed over the flames, while his arms cross over it. He studies Megatron with an intensity that could easily be off-putting.
He's /listening/. It's unusual for him to give so much focus to any one thing for so long. Hot Rod shakes free of it with a twitch of his shoulders in a shudder that quivers to the tip of his spoiler. He glances away. "I don't doubt that justice is demanded. I'm just not sure what justice /is/."
If there is an answer to that then Megatron has it. He has *become* it. And he would wish to see Hot Rod become it as well. To join him in that.
Megatron makes it sound that simple because it *is* that simple. In case Hot Rod is unable to power up his muffler guns, then Megatron will seek to make that easy as well. He calmly, carefully, detached his fusion cannon and then, singlehandedly, holds it out towards Hot Rod. It only need be attached to be used.
"What every innocent that perished in Nyon deserves is here before you. Now. What was done to them they can be held accountable for. You can make them know the cost of preying on the innocent. There is no bot in existence more responsible for the loss of freedom for so many in Nyon than these three. Here, now," he holds out that cannon again, "Is your chance to be sure that all those lost sparks are heard."
It sounds very simple. It would be very easy. Hot Rod shifts, glancing over as Megatron offers the cannon. His hands clench on the datapad, then release, and his arms begin to unfold. But he hesitates. He doesn't quite reach for it.
/Does/ he know?
There is very little that Hot Rod is not sure of in life. It's not his way to hesitate and mull deeper philosophical questions. For him, the big questions have always been decided by the small things, and the small things resonate with what is right in his spark. But here, now -- with the memory of Nyon so fresh, and the authors of its destruction before him -- it all muddles together. If it's their fault, it's not his. If it's their fault--.
Hot Rod's eyes dim a moment before he lifts his gaze, clear and bright. It is simple, after all. He settles in firm certainty. "The only way the lost can really speak is to make them answer openly, fairly for everything they've done wrong. They're responsible. I don't doubt that. But I -- we," he corrects, more firmly, "don't have the right to kill them. Not like this. That's not justice. Nyon deserves better."
In those final words, Megatron can find agreement.
Which might be the only reason this doesn't suddenly go a lot differently.
Just like that... it is over. Megatron draws back that cannon and reattaches it. His arm twitches, like it threatens to raise, to point it... at Hot Rod. Where before Megatron had looked on the rebel with a look of hope now there is a smoldering intensity, one that does not leave Hot Rod. Like a fire fed gasoline that stare deepens the more it lingers, burning brighter with each moment.
Megatron sees now that there are bots that will never understand. No matter what he does, what he gives, it will never be enough. There are those that will doubt him, *reject* him, even in light of all that he has accomplished. All that he has *given* them. He has presented Hot Rod with the very thing he needed and still the bot turned away from it. Away from *him*.
- THOOOOM!* The fusion cannon fires as he quickly brings it around to fire on the first of those three bound and gagged prisoners.
- THOOOOM!* Still, Megatron does not look away from Hot Rod as he fires, blind but true, on that second prisoner.
"Never return. Never again stand before me. Or you will wish you hadn't. Nyon *did* deserve better," he sneers. *THOOOOOOOOOM!* That is for the third.
"If you will not act for the weak then go. Join them. Allow me to speak for you as well." That cannon lowers but swings, threatening to point at the mech he stares at should Hot Rod not heed his command.
Because it has been entire /minutes/ since the last time Hot Rod did something /spectacularly/ dumb (that time it was comparing Megatron to the Primes), it's time for him to do something dumb again: he throws himself against Megatron's arm. That would be a lot more effective if height, weight, mass, strength, and other important words weren't all stacked against him. He proves more annoyance to Megatron than salvation for the prisoners.
As the air stills in the wake of the third shot, Hot Rod stares in disbelief at their corpses. It's a look that quickly morphs to horrified outrage. He pivots to square off against Megatron and snaps a heated, "I'll stand with the weak every time rather than stand with bullies and-- and /despots/! I'd stand between your gun and the helpless any day. You'll never speak for me!"
Not ignorant of the swing of the canon, Hot Rod pelts off, shoving past the Vehicons. That's his final word on the subject.
There is not a challenger that Megatron will not engage. Never will he chase another, however - let them come to him. If Hot Rod wishes to fight then he would find Megatron *eager*.
Yet... despot. That stings. It is the first he has heard it. Or at least the first he has been made aware of that claim. It *wounds* him, far more than any blow the rebel punk might of landed. Megatron staggers back a step and had he thought to fire on Hot Rod as he departed, the Con leader is unable to.
A despot. That echoes on the heels of the comparison to a Prime earlier. Is it true that he is exerting his will alone on all others?
For a moment, a brief moment, Megatron feels what he hasn't felt since his days in the mines.
"NOOOOOOOOO!!!!" Megatron roars! Defiant! He will be heard! He will not be denied! he will not be forced down, subject to worry or hesitation ever again! He has was selected by Primus - he *made* himself. He forged himself into Megatron. Megatron, the Primeslayer. Megatron, the champion of the people. It is for them and them alone that he speaks - no. For them that he fights.
And Megatron does not enter a fight he is not prepared to win.
Megatron huffs, venting air sharply as his coolant is not working near well enough. Despot? Fine. Then if he must be the tyrant then he shall be the tyrant. Let that be how he delivers peace to Cybertron.