Glamorgan-IV territory, Earth, 120007916 CE
The brisk morning air gently breezed over Liege Maximo’s armor as he sat at the edge of a high white cliff, staring out over the tranquil sea. The sky overhead was obscured by a blanket of grey clouds, thinning in some places and allowing shafts of light from Sol to fall upon the rippling water. All was calm, the only sounds being the gentle crashing of waves on the rocks at the base of the cliff and the rustling of the wind through the green grass.
Earth looked much different from when Liege had seen it last, well over a hundred twenty million years ago now. Beneath the grass, the remnants of an old concrete road lingered. Further back away from the cliff, by where his ship Present Memory was landed, the rusted hulks of assault vehicles and the hollowed-out shells of powered armor were half-buried in the dark soil. A great war had been fought here some fifteen thousand years before- a war which had nearly destroyed Earth and human civilization. Liege was intimately familiar with that kind of war- how it swept over a world like fire and burned its cities to ash. How a people could lose themselves in its frenzy and indiscriminately slaughter each other, all pretenses of righteousness and justice (or even vengeance) slipping away in the bloodshed.
Liege Maximo had been foolish in his youth, to think that there could have been any victor in such a war as that. He was wiser now, but he knew that he had learned this lesson far too late. It saddened him to see that the humans had made the same mistakes he had. But like him, they had learned, and for the last fifteen millennia humanity and its planets had known peace.
I suppose we’re in good company, he thought. Perhaps now they’ll be-
A pattering of footsteps interrupted his thoughts, and Liege turned to look behind him. Over his shoulder, he saw a human woman jogging along a worn path. The woman took notice of Liege- for really, a cybertronian was hard to miss- and she abruptly stopped. “Oh!” she said, surprised to see the Prime of Lies on her morning run. “Uhm… good morning.”
“Good morning,” Liege echoed, raising an armored hand in greeting. “Don’t mind me, please. I’m just… sightseeing.”
The human woman nodded, appearing to find this a reasonable explanation for his presence. “Picked a good spot for it, you did,” she said approvingly. “Not many come by this place, believe it or not; nice to see someone else with an appreciation for natural beauty.”
Liege laughed. “Yes, indeed. Yours is a beautiful planet, but many of your people take it for granted.”
To his surprise, the human woman stepped off the jogging trail and approached him. He’d been too friendly- the “your people” remark didn’t have the same affect these days, disappointingly. His talent for discouraging unwanted company had diminished.
“Shouldn’t you return to your exercise human?” he said. “As I understand it, your bodies require a great deal of maintenance to remain in good form.”
“I run this stretch five days a week.” the woman waved her hand dismissively and took a seat by him. “Missing one won’t kill me. Besides, it’s not every day you see Liege Maximo on your morning run.”
This human was clearly persistent, unfortunately. If knowledge of his identity wouldn’t deter her, than nothing he said would. Liege closed his eyes and steeled himself in preparation to have an actual conversation. Opening his eyes again, he looked down at the woman, who had sat down on his left side. The breeze gently blew through the curls in her auburn hair, causing it to quiver. She looked back up at him and said:
“So, I take it Cybertron doesn’t have anything like this.”
“No,” Liege answered, shaking his head. “Cliffs and grass aplenty- biomechanical grass, of course- but no oceans. The weather isn’t so lively either- there’s rarely a cloudy day on Cybertron.”
“Now that is a shame,” the woman proclaimed. A moment of silence passed between them, during which both Liege and the human turned their gaze to the ocean. But then she spoke again:
“I’m Margaret, by the way,” she said. “I know your name; only fair that you know mine, I think.”
“A pleasure, Margaret,” Liege replied. “I didn’t realize I was a subject of conversation among the human species.”
“Are you kidding?” said Margaret. “Most people learn cybertronian history in school- the parts that coincide with ours, at least. I took a course once about how you and the other Primes influenced old human mythologies.”
“Yes, your ancestors did have some peculiar perceptions of us.” Liege grinned, his mind dredging up ancient memories of time spent on Earth back when humans were just beginning to shape iron into weapons and armor. “For some reason, the idea that a giant with indestructible skin was simply a cybernetic being from another planet seemed far too outlandish to them. Not sure how they could’ve mistaken me for a mischievous deity living in the clouds, but I have to admit I took some pleasure in playing god.”
Margaret laughed, and Liege continued. “To be honest, I’m saddened your species isn’t so gullible anymore. After a hundred twenty million years locked in a stasis pod, I was looking forward to coming to Earth and making you all my servants, catering to my every whim. I’d have you performing sacrifices and everything. Blood rituals, chants- I had it all worked out. Would’ve been fun for everyone.”
Both he and Margaret broke into laughter, reeling back and cackling for a good half-minute. As their hoots and guffaws echoed around them, it occurred to Liege that he could’ve just up and left if he truly didn’t want this woman’s company. Perhaps a part of him wanted someone to talk with after all- living on a tiny island on Astrum, he rarely got visitors. He thought he didn’t mind the isolation, but perhaps he also wouldn’t mind some meaningful interaction with the outside world every now and then.
“I’m-… I’m sure-… I’m sure it would’ve been a riot,” Margaret wheezed, her laughter beginning to subside. “But lucky for us, the idea of cybernetic beings from another planet isn’t so far-fetched anymore.”
“Yes, your species has come a long way, hasn’t it?” Liege said, smiling. “I remember back when you all thought your planet was flat, and that plagues were caused by malevolent spirits. Why, I vividly recall saying to Prima that this was obviously a backward, degenerate race that would destroy itself within a millennia or two. I mean, why bother with such a moronic people?”
“Ouch.” Margaret winced “A hundred twenty million years later, and that still hurts.”
“Hmph. Well, it shows you what I knew,” Liege continued. “a hundred twenty million years later, here you are as a respectable interstellar civilization, and I spent most of that time shut away in a pod on some backwater colony.”
“You certainly missed the mark there,” Margaret agreed. “But then again, I suppose we did used to be a pretty rotten people a long time ago. Bigotry, wars, inquisitions- I have to wonder: what did the other Primes see in us back then?”
Liege looked back out over the ocean, peering into its depths as his memory went further back in time. One thing his people had learned about these great bodies of liquid was that great secrets could be hidden within them. Secrets which, maybe one day, could be revealed, when the time was right. After the young and foolish had grown, and become wiser.
“I suppose… I suppose they saw potential in you,” Liege said after a moment’s pause. “That, in spite of what you were then, there was a possibility that- after a time, perhaps- you could become a wiser, gentler, better people.”
Margaret nodded slowly, sitting cross-legged on the grass. “I do appreciate the vote of confidence,” she said. “Nice of them to give us a chance- to see that potential to be better instead of writing us off. Kinda like what they did with you, maybe?”
Taken aback, Liege straightens his back and fixes the woman with a perplexed stare. Seeing his reaction, Margaret continued:
“You nearly destroyed your own civilization, right? That ‘War of the Primes’ or whatever it was. The other Primes could’ve executed you for that- and I don’t think anybody would have held it against them- but instead they put you in stasis. Maybe they thought you could become better after a time, too.”
The crashing of the waves and the murmur of the wind were the only sounds for a long time as Liege Maximo and Margaret, the former despot and the human, were silent. Ghosts of old wars lingered in their minds and in the world around them, memories and relics from times which had long-since passed. The past would always be with them, the once-proud tyrant and the descendent of barbarians, but now they lived in a brighter present. And somewhere far beneath the sea, an even greater future awaited them.
“My compatriots did always have a most aggravating and persistent sense of optimism,” Liege Maximo sighed.
As always, comments and constructive criticism are encouraged and requested.