April 30, 2013

On the Lookout for New Music

I'm always on the lookout for new music. My friend introduced me to this band. It's pretty neat. Not my normal style, but I do like the calming nature of the songs! "Keep My Distance" is one of my favorites from that group. Check it out.
I find it neat that we can like so many different styles of music! I for one enjoy classic rock, classical and Baroque, hard rock, pop and pop rock, some country fiddle, jazz, and Dubstep, though I'm very picky about what kind of Dubstep I listen to!
Check out my Music page to see what songs I like!

April 29, 2013

My Tumblr Dash

Just a quick post showing off some customization I did to my Tumblr dashboard! It's pretty cool. I tried to get most of the stuff I like represented in the layout in some fashion!

Zelda, Transformers, Star Trek, Buffy, and Avengers are all represented here. Tried to get Ice and Fire in here too, but I didn't have room! Hope you like it!

April 22, 2013

A Second Look at Lindsey Stirling

Lindsey recently updated her blog with a post about her trip to Europe, and in it she attempted to analyze how we can all have an impact on the world; in fact, her main point was that even those of us who think we don't have a voice, or have little influence, can still make an impact on someone.
This was followed up by her saying that "[her] heroes are the small people", and that "no matter how small your impact may be, it makes a difference, so make it count. Make your influence a good one." I found this fascinating as someone who has followed her progress from almost the start of her career, because she has moved up so far from where she was. She started out as one of those small people, and she is now a nationally and internationally recognized star, and yet she still advocates for the little guy, undoubtedly because that's where she started.
The quote that really stuck out to me from her blog post though was this: "No matter how big or small we feel our impact is, each of us have people in our lives who care about what we have to say... and they watch us." That is exactly what Lindsey Stirling has done for me and for the rest of her fans. She's made an impact that has been met with overwhelming praise because we all care about her message: that of never stop being who you are, because if you put yourself out there, people will find you; you may have only five people who listen and understand where you're coming from, but that's five more people than before you put yourself out there.
I think it's also impressive that throughout all of Lindsey's success, she hasn't forgotten who she is; she has kept being herself, and I think that's what makes her so lovable. Here's the blog post link if you're curious; I recommend reading it:

April 20, 2013

Mary Anne’s Fall From Grace

Here is an essay I wrote earlier this year analyzing the book The Things They Carried. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it! It's a great read. Anyway, I think this essay represents some of my best work (I got an A+ on it, and my English teacher used it as an example of how to write a tightly packed essay in her class the next day; the students' paid me many a compliment!) Our assignment with this was to incorporate a quote or two from Ralph Waldo Emerson or Henry David Thoreau, and so I did. It's the weakest part of the essay, but I think that the analysis I did on Mary Anne's character more than makes up for it. Enjoy.

Mary Anne’s Fall From Grace
            There are three goals that I believe any medium of work should meet at least one of in order to be successful, and if it can meet more than one, the better. First, the work should inform. By that, I mean it should feed us new information that we had not earlier possessed; a news story or a documentary does this quite well. Hand-in-hand with that, the item should not present us with misinformation. That’s worse than providing us with no information at all; the item has perpetuated a lie that could be seen as harmful. Second, the work should inspire, by which I mean, even if we haven’t necessarily learned anything new, we should be given something new to think about and/or question; the work should promote thought. However, so too should it promote something new; if we are told a message that we already know, then what’s the point? We already knew that, so the work is, at least on this front, a failure. Getting us to think about something in a new way, or getting us to think about something new altogether, makes the work a success. Finally, the work should be entertaining, by which I mean, if we fail to gain new information from it, or are failed to be presented with something new to think about, we are at least entertained by the experience of whatever the medium presents us with. The work should have something catching to it; it should draw us in.
The Things They Carried meets all of the above criteria in spades. It presents us with a blunt view of the Vietnam War, it gets us to think about the human condition and moral ambiguity in a new and interesting way, and the book itself is written very well. The first person narrative really puts you in the situation, and when O’Brien takes you out of his story to tell you some behind-the-scenes information, it’s exciting to get inside his brain and try to figure out what his thought processes were. Every story within the book presents us with a new slant on how humans deal with death, life, war, or friendship, but no story struck me quite as hard as “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”. Mary Anne Bell, the main character for this story, reacts to war and death in a very human way; her reactions are that of a civilian, and, whether or not the character was real, O’Brien brings this character to life by making her reactions and thoughts relatable to the average reader. This story is about what happens when the average human is subjected to war. What do you do in that situation? How do you cope with death; moreover, how do you cope with death by your own hand? These questions loom in the back of the reader’s mind as Mary Anne slowly becomes invested in war and its mechanics. How do the events of this story change the human psyche and behavior?
To answer that, first we must look at how Mary Anne came to be here in the first place. The majority of this story is told from Rat Kiley’s point of view, and one of the first things he mentions is how laid back and nonchalant his assignment at the medical base up in the mountains of Chu Lai is, describing it as “ideal duty” and saying that “you didn’t have to polish you boots or snap off salutes or put up the usual rear-echelon nonsense” (O’Brien 87). So right away, we see that this is a comfortable place. Very little to no danger is encountered by these folk, and this sets the stage perfectly in juxtaposition to the environment that Mary Anne will soon find herself in.
The second reason she came out here at all was because of Mark Fossie’s, her boyfriend, desire to see a side of the world where war didn’t matter. “‘Bring in a girl. I mean, what’s the problem?’” he asks, and the only response is “‘Nothing. A war’” (89). And that’s exactly what this is. This medical facility may be laid back, but to these people, they’re still part of the war. Fossie argues the exact opposite of that point: “‘Well, see, that’s the thing… No war here. You could really do it’” (89). No war here. That’s what he’ll keep telling himself throughout Mary Anne’s stay here. And by the end, both Fossie and the reader realize that Fossie was right. There was no war here… not until Fossie brought the storm in the form of a curious girl who wanted nothing more than to thrive in her new environment.
The final contribution to how Mary Anne got here (though this can only be called so in hindsight) is the introduction of the Greenies. Described here as “animals… but far from social” (88), these guys would vanish for weeks on end, doing things that no one bothered asking questions about because they feared the answers. The Greenies’ mystique and awe-factor gives Mary Anne something to strive towards in ways that the other people here do not. These people are smart, calculative, and deadly, and it’s easy to see why Mary Anne is so attracted to such a phenomenon. They play the role of final catalyst in Mary Anne’s fall from grace.
Mary Anne is an interesting character to analyze because she’s so out of her element when arriving, yet this new side of the world quickly becomes her element anew. She’s adaptive by nature (91). She’s curious, she wants to learn, and as the commanding officer, Eddie Diamond, puts it “‘There’s the scary part. I promise you, this girl will most definitely learn’” (92).  And learn she does, but not in the sense of learning how to cope with war. That aspect of war doesn’t come into play until the very end of the story. For right now, she learns war based on what those around her see. They don’t see moral ambiguity or emotional backlash (at least not on the outside). These people are hardened soldiers, and they see an objective to be completed. She learns from these people how to repair and operate a gun, how to splint a wound, how to amputate a leg, all with that distance of emotion that the other soldiers display (93). She’s learning without really understanding what she’s doing. Rat mentions that when she was confronted with action, “her face took on a sudden new composure, almost serene” (93). Serenity is her response to horrors because she can’t know anything else. She doesn’t know how to cope with this, so her mind resorts to what it does best: learn and adapt, and fascination begins to override logic and fear.
The human psyche is a fascinating subject all on its own, but to explore it within the confines of a fictional medium takes real skill. The characters in O’Brien’s book, real or no, are always human; they react to horror, love, confusion, war, and sarcasm as anyone would. Mary Anne’s personality is being redefined again as she begins to subconsciously question who she really is. “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you…” (Emerson 20). Mary Anne accepts her “divine providence” with vigor, but she also questions who she is and who she’s turning into: “‘It’s nothing,’ she said. ‘Really nothing. To tell the truth, I’ve never been happier in my whole life. Never” (O’Brien 95).
This is her heart telling her that she is still human; her heart and mind are at odds with each other, no longer “vibrating to that iron string”. She’s coping with things that she was never meant to cope with, and this is the primary reason why soldiers don’t bring their girlfriends out into the field. “The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried” (Emerson 20). Fossie knows how war works, and he doesn’t realize that his power to understand it and its complexities is not universal. Mary Anne’s understanding of war is peripheral in nature compared to Fossie’s; she hasn’t had the training or the preparedness that he has had, and when she finally does give in to the war and its consequences, it is in spite of Fossie’s help and not because of it.
“You come over clean and you get dirty and then afterward it’s never the same. A question of degree. Some make it intact, some don’t make it at all” (O’Brien 109). Mary Anne did not make it back intact… because she died out there. She was destroyed. She was so fascinated by war and by the mechanics and politics of it that she forgot who she was and why she had come out here. She was a young, aspiring, intellectual woman who was in love with a man who both believed in himself and in her, and he had wanted her to come out here to see him. He needed that support, and Mary Anne needed that stimulus of being with her love once again. “‘I loved her…. We all did, I guess. The way she looked, Mary Anne made you think about those girls back home, how pure and innocent they all are, how they’ll never understand any of this, not in a billion years” (108). Mary Anne certainly got her stimulus, but it was one of war, one of discovering things that were not meant to be seen by young, unprepared eyes. “Vietnam had the effect of a powerful drug; that mix of unnamed terror and unnamed pleasure that comes as the needle slips in and you know you’re risking something” (109).
A powerful drug is a perfect metaphor for how we greet unfamiliar territory. We don’t see new things through rose-colored glasses; we are able to capture the full experience and our mind tries to relate it to something that we are familiar with. Mary Anne does this by looking at war as another thing for her to understand. Her mind is one of learning and adaptability, and so she imprinted her skills onto this new environment of hers. “You become intimate with danger; you’re in touch with the far side of yourself” (109). Her vision of this place, of war, and of Fossie begins to evolve into a kind of instinctual sense, and instead of sorting out what she wants to see and understand, she now sees everything, and attempts to rationalize all of it out. “‘She was there. She was up to her eyeballs in it’” (108). And she understood what it was like to be in Fossie’s position; she now knew what it was like to kill and to face the consequences of it.
Her interactions with the Greenies are particularly telling of this; she took after them more so than after Fossie because she had seen and done all there was to see and do in Fossie’s world. She needed something more, and the Greenies offered that to her in the form of daredevil stunts and black-ops mercenary missions. When she does come back to Fossie’s side of the war then, she’s barely recognizable. “‘You’re in a place… where you don’t belong…. You just don’t know…. You hide in this little fortress, behind wire and sandbags, and you don’t know…’” (106). Fossie never understood what real war was; he barely (possibly never) went out into the field. He was shielded from attack; all that safety and morale and easy-going nature made Mary Anne let down her guard, and when she was introduced to true warfare, she was forever traumatized, leaving her in a state of pure sadness, which eventually evolved into a kind of uncaring emotionless glaze over her character: “There was no emotion in her stare, no sense of the person behind it. But the grotesque part, he said, was her jewelry” (105).
And that leads into my favorite scene of this particular story: “At the girl’s throat was a necklace of human tongues. Elongated and narrow, like pieces of blackened leather, the tongues were threaded along a length of copper wire, one tongue overlapping the next, the tips curled upward as if caught in a final shrill syllable” (108-9). This is what happens when a civilian is treated to the table of war. This is how much of a mistake Fossie made in bringing Mary Anne here: she’s not only lost to him, but she’s now lost period. Mary Anne died when she first came out here. Much like cancer, the war itself consumed her, eating her alive while those around her coped with it through their camaraderie and friendship. Mary Anne was left in the dust, having no external support. Fossie was a soldier; he couldn’t know how she was dealing with all of this, and yet at the same time, he wasn’t a killer; he was stationed at a medical facility that saw very little war. He didn’t know how much an actual firefight or assassination can mess a girl up, and as such all Mary Anne could do was honor her kills by threading a wire through their severed tongues and hanging them around her neck as a final act from her humanity as it finally left her to be replaced with instinct and animalism.
The Things They Carried as a book impressed me on every level it possibly could. O’Brien put so much care into his characters and settings and then just held you there. This story, “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong”, remains my favorite story out of the entire book because it presented the reader with the story of a B-grade character who was consumed by war and death and had no way to deal with it. Moreover, it met all of the criteria that I hold a work to. This story informed us of just how bad and traumatizing war can be, it inspired us to think about ourselves and our own life in a new way, and it was just a masterfully written piece overall. Mary Anne’s fall from grace is beautifully illustrated here, with lots of foreshadowing and juxtaposition and moral questions presented to us. Her interactions with Fossie are very human; at no point did I feel like I was reading dialogue out of a book, and the way she deals with her situation is realistic and natural. This story painted one of the most realistic pictures of how war can change a civilian, and of how our own brain can get thoroughly screwed up when presented with the horrors of war.

Death's Door

            Here's a piece of writing I did back in 7th grade. Our assignment was to write in the style of Edgar Allen Poe. This is what I'd created. I think it's a good example of my vocabulary (though this obviously overuses it... a lot), and I'm quite proud of it. I should mention that I am an optimistic and friendly person, with an active social life and am surrounded by good friends and family! Anyway, here it is. Enjoy!

Death’s Door 
            Oh, with such fidelity does death take me. With such grace, such calculation, that even my senses, with their adroit readings, don’t detect the sleek and progressively mephitic feeling of dread, derision that death presents. It has the touch of insufferable pain, its laughter is that of a caustic cry, and, had it eyes to see out of and to be seen, they would have been filled with rancor, and with malice, at the mere musing of entering my head, my senses, my soul.
            Oh, how the darkness looms before me, over me, within me. It is what the soul cannot extricate, what the light cannot deflect and what is within the bowls of the great jaws of malevolent archness, of malicious astuteness. Death presents thousands upon thousands of souls, minds, and choices, each attempting to be at the forefront of my vision.
            Oh, how I fall. Fall into the precipitous chill that runs down every person’s spine as they realize that someone is within them, gradually taking over from within, subtly pressuring, influencing, their actions until they are no longer human at all. But let us not forget about the emotions, the senses, the coherent mind and body of death itself. It is what we deny, what we attempt to remold into light, when in truth we know nothing but darkness. Death cannot destroy what it means to be human, nor what we think of as joy or happiness.
            Oh, the pain! I see only the lassitude, the indolence, of what were once gifted people- talented, endowed people, such as myself- all of whom snatched up by death. All the joy and happiness sucked away. Everything, all hope, is gone. Only the animosity remains, obfuscating my vision. And then I see death itself. It is not at all what I expect.
            It is rushing wind; though inscrutability hinders full explication. It bares no sentiment, no feeling, no reaction. And there is something else... I am falling. I am descending, but from where? I look up- if there really is an “up”- and see light.
            I suddenly realize that I hate that puny speck of warmth, that source of freedom. I hate it! I am content on staying within the velvety blackness, the cold, the pain, the enormity.
            As death takes me down, down into the ever-lasting dreadful pit of hell, I feel the pressure... and I like it, oh yes! The utter feeling of death trickling down onto me! I love it. Yes! Yes! I enjoy the taste of despair, the feeling of hopelessness, of despondency. I enjoy the feeling of dejection, which connotes death. I want more. More darkness, more despair. I hate that diminutive glimmer, that petite glare.
            But that glare is the only thing that allows me to struggle on. Is this some test, some form of clarification, elucidation to make sure that I am able to ascend up into the light...
            NO! How dare I think to go up into the epizootic light. How dare I think about leaving my one true home of death. How dare I! I want to destroy the light; I must make it completely and utterly dark. I must negate the fact that the light is up there and must make the world see the blackness, the perfect hum of dark curtains whispering over oneself. I must make the world engulf the sense of understanding and of sagacity that death offers. I want the world to embrace the clarity!
            But what clarity does hell have to present? Is it simply cajolery? Or is it purpose? Purpose? Oh, I know that word, “purpose”. It is purpose that binds us, that drives us, makes us, and controls us.
            Exactly, yes. That light is simply control, purpose, something that should never even exist. It must go away. But, no. Why, it is still there. That filthy light! I want to kill it! Make the pain cease! Please, make it stop!
            Now there is something else; a sort of feeling... No! I now not only want to destroy the light, but the warm and soft touch of love and of good that is exuding from it. Get it OFF! The darkness is heaven! This is where I belong. This is my domicile. Yes! Yes, this is the very meaning of perfection, of clarity.
            That light, up there, don’t go there. That is merely an illusion, a pile of bad tricks that make you want to embrace it. It is nothing compared to the cold, devious, conniving, awesome power of death, of obliteration, of annihilation.
            Good god, what am I becoming? I am mad!
            What did you just think? You thought of me as a lunatic, as unbalanced, as mad? How dare you. You want me to embrace the light? No! I stay with the darkness. You think me mad? MAD? We shall see who is mad! I am merely the beginning of the clarity. I am the beginning of the vicious cycle of hatred, of fear, of remorse.
            Suddenly the light grows outsized, superior, finer. It seals my vision. No!
            Let it consume me.
            Please, no!
            I need that light.
            I need it. Don’t do this.
            Take me back to the darkness! Please. I NEED it!
            No, I don’t need this beggarly show of tricks. It represents the evil inside of me, the essence of hatred. Let it go.
            Now the light is over me, within me. I feel it forcing the heavenly- no, not the right word- the hellish- yes that is better- the hellish blackness out of me. I don’t need it. I require the light. I abnegate my hold on death’s hand, and embrace true heaven! I am free. Free. Peace is finally here.
            I love it! Oh yes. The source of the warmth, the love and the good cascading over me, around me. I enjoy the taste of utter sympathy, of empathy. I want it. I need it. It is lucidity, clarity, perfection, and, ooh, sweat symmetry. I have finally arrived at heavens door...

April 17, 2013

Arcee Mayhem III

Image property of Dreamwave Production, Generation One Ongoing Vol. 3 #12
Yes, I know the image is of Optimus Prime holding Elita One. I thought that it was a powerful image, and if you read the story, you'll understand why...

Mayhem III: Repercussions
Arcee ran. She could feel her body carrying her quickly through the street as the rain came crashing down. Her legs were aching, and the rain pitter-pattered against her form like cold needles. Ice was beginning to condense around her collar and thighs; she did not like the cold. She veered around a corner and scrambled up a low-set roof. She heard the voices; they were getting closer. She shivered.
“Arcee, halt!”
She did not halt. The voice belonged to the one person who she had tried to avoid for all her career as an Autobot mercenary. She hated him. She turned and tumbled off the roof, summersaulting in the air, landing with a thud on the slick pavement. Her body ached. She fired a couple blind shots behind her, attempting to distract her pursuers.
They were not so easily distracted.
She turned left, her legs aching as she sped up. She ran up a ramp, leaping onto a second rooftop. She slipped, caught herself, and rolled sideways, catching the lip of the roof. She shivered in spite of herself. Her chasers were coming up quickly.
Arcee swore, dived off the building… and transformed.
Her body glided through the motions of transformation with ease: her arms and head compressed cleanly into her chest, her legs twisted around, vehicle armature springing from the insides of her body. Her back unfolded, sprouting turbines and wings; her abdomen compressed and swiveled, and her entire body twirled until it snapped into its final altered form.
The hover car plowed forward, aligning itself with the ground, racing through the streets. The Cybertronian lights whizzed past as Arcee swerved around, darting through alleys and closed street shops. Her vehicle was admittedly not well suited for the rain either, but it was fast, and she had plenty of time to make up.
She heard her pursuers transform as well, their piercing engines revving as they continued the chase. She saw the infamous red-and-blue clad vehicle wing up beside her, its weapons deployed. She was surrounded now; another vehicle had drawn up beside her, with three more flanking her. She sped up and took to the skies, deploying her wings as she did so. Three of her opponents transformed again and drew weapons; evidently they did not possess full flight. The other two joined her in the air, their weapons firing.
She steadied her ascent and continued to move forward, her engine humming along as she did so. The other two kept pace right with her, attempting to squeeze and stop her momentum. The rain beat harder now, hail-like, and Arcee had to fight it to remain in the air. Her exterior was frozen solid, and the two vehicles on either side of her were beginning to wane under the constant hailstorm. They tried another collision… and Arcee stopped her engine, dropping like a brick to the ground.
She did not see what happened to her enemies, nor did she care. She had not planned this out very well. Her exterior was so cold and stiff that transformation was now a chore in and of itself. She screamed as her body contorted itself back into robot mode; she felt her back and chest pop into position, sparks erupting from contact. Her arms and legs unfolded painfully and assembled themselves sloppily, ice popping out of her joints. Lastly, her head sprang up from its recessed hiding place, and her eyes widened as she saw how close she was to the ground.
She managed to cushion her fall slightly by landing on her side, cruising along a slick roof before finally hitting and bouncing off of a lip, landing a second time with a clunk. She was out in the open, now, and her body was not doing well. Hail had made her limbs numb and slow, her eyes frosty and her breath stiff with cold. She looked up, and groaned. The other three adversaries had caught up with her, and their weapons were trained at her Spark chamber. Her two aerial attackers were nowhere to be seen, and she was slightly glad of that. She could feel Energon pumping rapidly within her; her head was pounding. She looked at her captors, studying their faces.
“Arcee,” said a voice. She had not seen him arrive, and her heart sank. “Stand down. You are outnumbered, wounded, and you have nothing to gain from continuing this pursuit.”
She turned, looking up. He was just as she thought he would be: heavy-set, broad-shouldered, and he looked like he could take out a legion of Decepticons with but a glare. She glared right back at him, staring daggers into those crystal blue eyes. His armor was frosted with condensation, the red turned almost pink by the saturation of the color. The blue of his legs was thinning, revealing the silver beneath. His silver abdomen had been bandaged from where he had been stabbed, and his breastplate was cracked and dented. One of his antennae was fractured. His gun hung limply by his side.
“Prime.” Arcee spat the word. She got up, wincing as she noticed pain course through her right leg. She looked down. It was not supposed to bend that way. She looked up again, burying the pain beneath her resumed glare at Optimus Prime. She was a good head shorter than he was, her physique much slimmer.
“You cannot fight all of us,” Optimus said in a sad tone. His eyes sparkled in the rain. Arcee cocked her head to the left, thinking. She could evade him long enough to take out his men. She could flee; disappearing would not be difficult, she’d done it before. She felt Optimus’ eyes studying her face; he knew her plan.
Arcee stared blankly at Optimus’ gun arm, wondering how long it would take for him to react to her idea. The sleet and hail whirled around them. She was so cold. Her arms and feet were frozen. High-class marksmen and the leader of the entire Autobot army surrounded her. Was it worth it? Could she pull it off? She’d done battle with Starscream, Bludgeon, Banzaitron, Overlord for Primus’ sake! These were not names to be tossed around lightly. Taking out a couple top-notch Autobots and their leader was nothing compared to that! She locked eyes with Optimus.
She smirked as he blinked.
Her kick landed squarely in Prime’s groin, sending him down to one knee. Arcee backed up, deploying her knife as she did so. Two of the other Autobots lunged at her, their daggers drawn. She backpedaled. Her first priority was to relieve them of their weapons; she was good, they were better. Time to prove that wrong.
One of the Autobots began slinking around, attempting to get behind Arcee. She ducked his blade, flipped, and sent her attacker flying back with a lethal kick. That made her leg hurt even more, it’s pain rippling through her circuits like successive shocks. She gritted her teeth as two more marksmen came rushing at her.
She flipped and skidded, momentum carrying her quickly toward her attackers. She reached up and grabbed one’s arm, bringing him to the ground. She finished him off with an elbow to the chest. He gasped, his hand springing open, and dropped his weapon. Her third attacker backed away, drawing his blaster as he did so. She turned and tumbled, avoiding the gunfire as best she could, landing behind a raised column of roof. The Autobot advanced, still firing. Her leg was throbbing, the ice was condensing, and her Spark fluttered nervously in her chest. She transformed her arm into its rifle form and fired back, sending up shards of ice between her and her opponents.
She ducked back behind her hiding place. She had to flee. She peered over the side of the raised platform, and was seized by the throat by one of the Autobots. She landed on her back; the wind had been knocked out of her. The Autobot continued his assault, his arm transforming into a bladed weapon. She was able to dodge the first blow, her bladed arm coming up to block. She got up then, spinning and kicking the Autobot in the chest. She plunged her blade into his throat, wrenching it out with such force as to pull out his voice box.
She looked around frantically as her third kill dropped to the floor. Optimus had to be around here somewhere. “Prime,” she screamed, turning more frantically now. She shivered furiously. “PRIME!!!”
“Arcee.” Arcee turned hastily, her rifle pointed squarely at Prime’s chest. Optimus’ tone was even; he was trying to comfort her. “I grieve for you, but I was no more responsible for Cliffjumper’s death than you or any other Autobot. Starscream made the kill. You do not need to do this anymore. Please, lower your weapon.” Optimus stepped forward, transforming his arm back into its ambulatory form.
“Don’t come any closer, Prime.” Arcee held her stance. She tried not to shiver. It was very cold. “You sent me and Cliff on a suicide mission. You knew he wouldn’t make it back. Starscream finished him off just as an afterthought. He didn’t have a chance.”
“Cliffjumper’s death was indeed tragic, but survivor’s guilt will not bring back those we have lost, and yours needs to stop. Now.” Optimus’ stern eyes pierced Arcee’s head like hot needles. “Your desire for revenge is understandable, but the execution of a fellow Cybertronian, be he Autobot or Decepticon, in service of that desire is detestable, and as such, you will need to come with me for a full court martial.”
“No.” Arcee’s eyes narrowed. She felt the rage fill her again, her fists tightening. The rain continued its barrage. She shrugged off a sheet of ice condensing on her shoulder. She relaxed her form, loosening her joints.
“Arcee, please. You aided the enemy.” Optimus retracted his faceplate. His mouth was frowning.
“No, the enemy aided me. We killed Starscream. Do you know how much I’ve done for this team? I killed him. My reasons are irrelevant. I’ve given you a fighting chance, and now you’re going to throw that away just to bring me to court for helping you?”
“Your actions are commendable, but working with the Decepticons is an action frowned upon by our faction, and, whether you choose to admit it or not, by you yourself. How would Cliffjumper feel if he knew that the only way to avenge him was to work with those who murdered him?”
She snapped. Her sword swung around, its blade glistening in the light of the rain and the two moons. Optimus saw it coming. Arcee felt the blow of his fist into her abdomen as he reached around, grabbing for her sword arm. She darted the grab, hitting Prime in the back with her elbow. He barely noticed, absorbing the impact and continuing his assault. He twirled around in mid stumble, crashing his right fist against the left side of Arcee’s head. She grunted, her head curling against her body in pain.
Optimus’ left arm assembled itself at lighting speed into its blaster form, following through with his attack with a sharp blast to Arcee’s already-damaged leg. Arcee went down, her leg throbbing. She looked up. He was so much quicker than she was, so much more calculative. He had thought all of it through. He had brought her down with two punches and a single gunshot. She grimaced.
“Are you finished?” Optimus sounded no different than before the fight had begun.
“Not… quite.” Arcee was breathing hard. Her stomach throbbed, her leg ached, and her head was pounding. She was so stupid. Why couldn’t Megatron have dropped her off at… Tyger Pax, or Miranda II? But he didn’t, and after a day, she had run right into Optimus and his crew, right into the man and crew whom she had tried so hard to avoid. She rolled, deploying her shoulder cannons as she went, putting enough distance between herself and Optimus to warrant a firefight.
Firing, Arcee saw Optimus’ sword deploy, ripping through her proton bullets like paper. Arcee’s sword rose as Optimus ran towards her, his blade connecting with hers. They were locked now. Arcee began hacking away at her opponent, Optimus dodging all of her swipes and thrusts. Optimus’ blade came down hard and fast, Arcee’s sword coming up just in time, the impact sending shockwaves up her arm. She went down to one knee, her leg on fire. Prime pushed the assault. Arcee did a sloppy tumble, her sword skidding across his, dodging his following downward stroke by luck, and making a slash just under his left eye. Optimus stumbled, and Arcee took her chance. She fired her blaster, the proton bullets connecting with Prime’s chest.
Arcee got up, running, elbowing him next in the head. Keeling, Prime made a blind jab with his sword and clipped Arcee’s neck. Arcee screamed, her weapons retreating into her arms, her hand shooting out for protection of the wound. Optimus’ fist came up for a finishing blow, sending Arcee flying backwards, crashing into the ground. A thin layer of ice shattered beneath her.
She was so tired, so cold, her body curled. “You… killed… Cliff.” Her voice was shaky. Her wounds were beginning to drain her.
“Arcee, stand down, and I promise you leniency.”
“Leniency?” Arcee’s eyes shot upward. “Prime, you sent me and Cliff on a mission from which you knew both of us would surely perish. Except I didn’t do that, did I?” Her voice was shaky, her wounds throbbing. She locked eyes with him. “I survived, and you didn’t like that. And when I killed Starscream, you didn’t like that either, so now here we are, and you’ll have to kill me now in order to grant me leniency, because I don’t serve you and I certainly don’t recognize your faction of government. Not anymore. You’re God to those you command, Prime, and you have far too much power.
“Cliff was smart; he knew your lies and deceit and tricks. And then I learned them, too. You’re no leader. You’re a heretic. You’ve mutated the Autobots into a force of personal gain. You didn’t want Cliff and me in the picture anymore, so you tried to have us killed. That isn’t what we were founded upon. Cliff believed in the true Autobots, in what our faction was created to represent. You don’t impress that anymore, and Cliff saw that, and I certainly see it in what you did to him.” Arcee spat, her blue eyes pulsing with anger.
“You make a compelling argument, Arcee. And I may have overstepped my boundaries in allowing you and Cliffjumper to venture forth into unknown territory in order for the Autobots to be rid of two rogue elements, and for that I am deeply sorry. But you are still held in contempt of the Autobots for aligning yourself with Megatron in an unsanctioned alliance to take down a powerful agent of chaos; a victory perhaps, but a costly one, and one which is not without further repercussions. You must learn to take responsibility for your actions. And don’t think that I have not taken responsibility for mine.
“I have had Cliffjumper’s death on my mind since your initial foray, and I have indeed questioned my fitting the role of Prime. But my personal demons are no concern of yours, and I will have you sanctioned and under guard, whether you permit it or not. So please, Arcee, let me help you. Let me try to redeem myself for my mistakes by helping you heal. Let me help you recover from your wounds.”
Arcee’s body was stiff and raw, the rain continually beating down hard, and with great effort she managed to rise, staring at Optimus with loathing. “You sent us to die! What kind of a leader does that? You’ve slipped, and you cannot ever redeem yourself in my eyes. You want me, fine. But I am not going to go willingly.”
“Then you leave me no choice. Arcee, by the power vested in me by the Tyrest Accord, I hereby place you under arrest on charges of corroborating with the enemy, of conducting treason against fellow teammates, and of abandoning your fellow Autobots in the line of duty.” Optimus held out the stasis cuffs, their blue bands glistening.
Burry the pain.
Arcee flipped back twice, putting some distance between herself and Optimus. Her leg was dead weight now, and her neck was throbbing, but she did not care, not so long as Optimus was alive. Her weapons deployed in tandem, and she began firing, trying to keep her balance on the slick pavement.
Optimus dodged the fire with ease, unsheathing his sword and coming at her with a sideswipe. Arcee was nocked off her feet as the flat of the blade made contact with her abdomen, making her trip. Optimus kneed her in the chest, then made a grab for her arm. She rolled, dodging his grab again, and made for his blaster.
Grabbing onto it, she scampered up his bulky form until she was on his back, viciously hacking away at his heavily armored figure. Optimus spun, but Arcee continued her barrage. Groaning in agony, Prime dove, attempting to take Arcee down quickly. Arcee frantically sliced the left side of Prime’s helmet before dislodging herself. Both combatants went down hard, each rolling away from the other.
Arcee sprang up first, immediately firing her blaster at the spots on Optimus’ back where he had suffered the most damage. Optimus screamed, turning so that his chest absorbed the impact. His physique was in shambles now. Like Arcee, Optimus had been weakened by the cold, and he was starting to succumb to it. Arcee darted forward, tripping Optimus, and scrambling up onto his back once again. She retracted her blaster from her arm, replacing it with a second sword. She slammed it hard into his left shoulder, the sparks and Energon running down his red armor, mixing with the hard rain as he screamed.
She smiled.
With her other sword, she hacked again at Prime’s weakened back armor. His blaster retracted, his hand grabbing at air from the pain. “You will not take me alive,” she whispered darkly. Arcee’s work was devastating. Optimus’ shoulder blades were almost completely gone, revealing the complex circuitry and biotech that surrounded the Cybertronian skeleton.
Arcee plunged her sword into his spine, making a precise downward stroke quickly. Optimus jolted upward in pain, his screams piercing the night air. “Enough!” Optimus reached around and tore Arcee off of him, transforming his arm next into its blaster form, firing. Arcee spun uncontrollably on the ground, her body taking in the blasts. Optimus rose, his form smoking, his calm demeanor now replaced with calculative rage. His left arm was limp. Arcee quivered against the ground, her leg’s pain returning to her. Optimus walked slowly towards her. “You may add Cybertronian disfiguration to your list of wrongdoings.” Optimus' spine smoked, the rain turning to steam as it met his disfigured form.
“And you…” Arcee was out of energy now; she couldn’t fight anymore, not well, anyway. “You can go to hell.” She twirled off the ground, her blade sweeping across the air.
She would finish him here and now. Her blade made a satisfying slice as Optimus jerked backward, his face contorted. With his remaining functional arm, Optimus made a counter jab with his sword.
Arcee froze. Her body was numb from the chest down. She looked at Optimus. He was glaring. His right eye had been shattered from Arcee’s sword swipe. Her sword was jammed between his head and helmet. Arcee and Optimus just stared at each other for the longest time, their wounds manifesting as they did so.
The rain came down hard. It was very cold.
Optimus’ sword had sunk deep into Arcee’s chest. She could feel her Spark draining. They were at a standstill. Optimus’ good eye fluttered between his sword, stuck in Arcee’s chest, to Arcee’s outstretched arm and sword now impaled in his head. Arcee knew that any major movement would send them both to their deaths. She could deal with it.
Arcee raised her good leg and pried herself away from Optimus. The two swords exited their bodies with grinding agony. Arcee flipped lazily in the air, landing on her stomach. Optimus groped at his head with his good arm. Energon was everywhere, mixing with the rain and sleet. Arcee was dying. Optimus tore off his helmet, wires and armor retracting into his scalp as he did so. Arcee turned her head, the world sideways in her eyes. She saw Optimus topple to the ground a little ways from her. She rolled over onto her back.
Her chest was badly injured. Armor and burnt metal cascaded around her upper body. She felt her Spark pulse gently within her form. She leaned her head back on the ground, taking in the sweet feel of the bitter cold rain. This is how her lights go out? On a rooftop in the dead of night? All of her battles and victories and disobeying the rules and this is where she ends up, getting killed by the leader of her own goddamn faction. Funny, no? And they would find Optimus, and he would be healed, and he wouldn’t even give her a second thought. He’d be glad to be rid of her. She hated him so much.
She would die. No one would care. All the people who loved her were dead. She would join them soon. So very soon… Cliff. She would see him again. And Tailgate, and Rodimus. All of them. She wouldn’t be alone. Not anymore. Her legacy didn’t matter. All of her battles and carnage all for nothing. She closed her eyes. Take me. Take me now. She smiled. The rain beat against her chassis, cold and stiffening. She had won.
“Arcee? Respond.”
Arcee opened her eyes. Optimus was bent low, holding her in his arms. “Prime…”
“I have called for rescue. You will be healed.” Optimus’ eyes found hers.
“Not today. You’ve granted me leniency.” She coughed, her eyes squeezing shut. The rain collected around the two Autobots. “I’m seeing Cliff soon.”
“Arcee, I’m sorry… so, so sorry… for everything.” Optimus’ eyes glistened beautifully in the rain.
“I… am sorry too, Prime. I ask only that you fulfill this favor: Tell my story to those who would ask. Tell it truthfully, would you? Tell of the ill as well as the good; Primus knows there is a lot of the ill in mine. And allow my judgment to pass accordingly. The rest… is silence.”
Optimus closed his eyes. He bent low, caressing Arcee’s head. “You have lived a warrior and have died a believer. May your Spark join the Matrix as the greatest of Cybertron.”