Saturday, December 31, 2022

What Comes After

 Megatron was in Trypticon's command hub, studying the various maps that laid out the coming campaign, when Starscream returned. He left his back to the door - an unsubtle dare they both understood. Starscream didn't rise to the bait.


"As you commanded, mighty Megatron," Starscream said, bowing ironically. "The Combaticons will be with us for the assault on Earth."

Megatron grunted acknowledgment, not taking his eyes from the maps. "I have never understood why such fractious soldiers agree to follow you."

"I make Onslaught laugh."

Now Megatron gave Starscream his attenton. "What?"

Starscream shrugged. "Oh, not the only reason I suppose... Swindle considers me a good customer, and I've certainly kept quiet about some of his more ambitious dealings. Brawl hates me, but he can't touch me, and that amuses Vortex and Blast-Off."

"So you're their jester," said Megatron.

"Perhaps. But they also recognize one of their own. We're well aligned in how much we hate you."

Megatron might have scowled. At other times he might have simply blasted Starscream into the hub's armored wall plating. This time, he just narrowed his optics.

"That is remarkably candid of you."

"I think you and I are past the point where deception's useful, you and I." Starscream grinned. "Despite the name."

"Then if I might take advantage of this mood," Megatron said, "let me ask: why follow me?"

"The Combaticons are no friends of the Autobots, or Primes," Starscream said. "They're aligned with your goals, they've just been used too many times as blunt instruments and disposable tools to ever admit it. My... reputation... makes me a useful go-between, as I'm sure you already know."

"True enough. But I was asking about you."

"Really?" Up to now Starscream's tone had been light, but now there was a bitter edge to it. "You actually have to ask?"

The Air Commander fell silent for long moments. Megatron waited.

"My reasons for following you have never changed, Megatron," Starscream said at length. "I fight with you so I can shape the new Cybertron we all seek to create."

"And yet you betray me. Constantly."

"Because I grow impatient," Starscream snapped. "Do you recall what I was when I joined your uprising? I was the Senate's chief science aide."

"An ambitious one, as I recall," Megatron said dismissively.

"Of course. The unambitious never made it to the halls of power I walked." Starscream sounded almost wistful. "My dream was to use my influence to bring about needed reforms. Of course the Senate was so gear-locked that became obviously impossible. Which is where you came in."

"Implacable problems require unstoppable force." Megatron folded his arms.

"And the Senate certainly isn't a problem anymore," said Starscream. "But this was drags on down through the millennia. And as long as it does, there's no room to better our species. My goals wither on the vine, as the Earthlings say. Forever unmet."

Megatron made a sound Starscream barely recognized. The Decepticon leader chuckled. "Your ambition is to be a politician," he said unbelievingly.

"Don't treat it like some joke," Starscream warned. "You've fought this war for ages. How often have you considered what comes after? There will be a need to rebuild Cybertron, to put the bots who are sick of fighting to some useful purpose. You'll need leaders, administrators, at all levels if you want to have a functional people to rule."

"Really," Megatron said, his voice a low growl of threat. "You think I overthrew Cybertron's labyrinthine bureaucracy of oppression just to rebuild the same system?"

"Of course not," said Starscream. "But did you think you'd be issuing edicts like some fleshling king? Or a Prime, Matrix help us?"

"So long as I remain the one with the will to see our people rise."

Starscream snorted, a burst of static. "Of course. Still, even you understand chain of command and delegation. There will be room for me to pursue my ambitions."

"Then why undermine me at every turn?" Megatron growled.

"I've said it already, Megatron. To end the war."

Starscream saw the telltale flash of Megatron's optics, the red glare of Energon flaring brighter, and his combat protocols readied. Then it faded.

"You would never surrender the Decepticons to Prime..." Megatron said slowly.

"Of course not," Starscream sneered. "But as you said, we serve at your will. If you were to perish, there would be room for negotiation. Armistice. A chance to build for a while, instead of destroy."

Megatron was silent for a time, his gaze never leaving Starscream's face. "I see," he said at last, turning back to the campaign map. "You are dismissed, Air Commander."

"That's it?" Starscream had trouble believing it. Megatron didn't reply. He considered blasting his leader in the back, just on principle, but decided it wasn't worth the beating that would follow.

As he opened the door to the command hub, Megatron spoke.

"I've considered it, you know."

Starscream turned. Megatron's habitual growl was absent, his voice softened.

"Sue for peace. Surrender myself  to Prime's justice. I've thought of it more than once, down the cycles. Do you know what stops me?"


"Because if I admit I was wrong to do what I've done, that will be it. The Autobots will rebuild what was. Maybe it will be better for a time, but the old abuses will rise again."

Megatron turned again, and the earnest expression on his face was so unexpected that Starscream had to stifle a cry.

"Keep to your treacheries, Starscream. I will never stop fighting for the cause, and I will not allow you to win... but if you do, I wish you well."

Starscream didn't know what to say. Thankfully Megatron did not wait for a response, turning back to his war. The Decepticon left him to it, his mind churning, considering fresh possibilities.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

A Conversation With My Son This Morning

"Dad, why can't people litter?"

"Because it hurts animals and plants and messes up the environment."

"I want to litter."

"No, we have enough litter at home."


"Because you two don't clean up your messes and Mommy and Daddy work too much to handle it all."


"Because Mommy and Daddy both need to work to make money."


"Because the economy is a shambles."


"Because people don't vote right."


"Because civics lessons aren't focused on."


"So people won't know how to vote."


"So bad people can stay in power."


"Because there's a lot of money to be made."


"Because people don't vote right."


"Because civics lessons aren't focused on."


"So people won't know how to vote."


"So bad people can stay in power."


"Because there's a lot of money to be made."


"Because people don't vote right."


"Because civics lessons aren't focused on."


"So people won't know how to vote."


"So bad people can stay in power."


"Because there's a lot of money to be made."


"Because people don't vote right."


"Because civics lessons aren't focused on!"


"So people won't know how to vote!"

cackling, daughter joins in unison "Why?!"

"So bad people can stay in power!"


"Because there's a lot of money to be made!"

more cackling "Why?!"

"Because people don't vote right!"


And then, mercifully, the car trip ended.


Saturday, November 12, 2022

I, David Earle, Have A Dream

That one day I will publish a book with my name on the cover.

That one day I will have enough money that I can stop worrying about it.

That one day my house will be clean.

That there will come a week I can relax without guilt or consequences.

That I won't have to interrupt this blog post to go rescue my dog from a downstairs cabinet because she tried to jump up to the oven and steal my son's chicken sandwich and she got one of her nails stuck in a cabinet hinge.

That is my dream!

(The dog is fine.)

Thursday, November 10, 2022

With Twitter Collapsing It Occurs To Me

I don't actually need to make my blog nothing but long-form content.

If I want to post random nonsense I can do it.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Apropos of Nothing, My Blog

This is my blog. There are many like it but this one is mine.

I have not blogged for many a year (almost three), but the writing bug is upon me again so I may resume. I am certainly not writing this in response to someone buying Twitter. Assuredly not! As this platform is at the sufferance of Google so it's not like it's better.

Anyway: if you're worried you'll miss my presence on the Interwebs at some point in the near future, the contact thingie on the right still works. Mebbe. Or you can leave a comment - I know that works because that's where the spambots live. So... yeah.

*    *    *

Speaking of the writing bug.

I recently watched one SuperEyepatchWolf's retrospective/celebration/memorial for Kentaro Miura, author of Berserk, recently passed. And there was a bit that stuck with me punched me in the throat, in the last ten minutes, where he talks about putting one's happiness before one's dreams. I won't try to summarize or quote it, watch the video it's well worth your time.

And what hit me was not an epiphany about overwork, because when it comes to writing I'm very much the opposite, writing in fits and starts over years and, very rarely, finishing the things I start.

What hit me was, after doing this for... let's go with twenty-five years, because that's a nice round number that encompasses wee Davey getting started with a six page short story in high school...

After doing this for twenty-five years, I finally got hit with the big question: Why?

Why am I doing this.

Why am I writing.

Does this make me happy.

Because if writing is my big, shining, Griffith-like dream then I've been deferring it for a lot of years so it sure seems like maybe I'm not all that keen on it after all.

But. But.

There's a world where the crossing between life and death got broken a long time ago, ruled by a tyrant in black armor whose body will never stop burning. And in that world there's a boy who just picked up a jewel that could fix the world, or break it apart.

And then there's a bar in Washington where the fair folk work a woman half to death, not knowing that inside her is a knight sharpening silver knives. Across town her brother studies magic under the tutelage of a pixie of mysterious motives. And in a hospital nearby a golem sits by her husband's bedside, comforting a man she's loved for eighty years through his last days.

And in southern Maryland, a brother and sister are wandering the woods behind their house, hoping the Antlered King can guide them to a cure for their sick mother before the Widow Queen wraps her in thick webs and devours their home.

And there's a kid with his pet cyberdemon rocketing towards fallen Earth to reclaim the world, and there's a rogue landing on a planet-sized engine with a plan to steal it, and there's a beast with flaming orange hair that used to be a human running on all fours through the grass as her flesh and muscle warp into horrifying new forms, and there's a man trying to troubleshoot a Teams call late at night as the shadows in his office building creep closer and closer, and, and...

And I don't really know how to cope with a head full of too many ideas, except to try and write them down.

So I'm going to keep trying that. And I think this year, I might try a little harder.