Disclaimer: The Transformers and all characters described herein are not mine. Really, this site is called I would think this would be obvious. Still, don't want to get sued.
Author's Note: Thrust's one of my favorite characters from Armada, I admit it. He's intelligent and his strategies actually work (or would work, if not for unexpected factors like Jetfire. Bah on Autobots). However, there has been no decent Thrustcentric fic out there, with the exception of the recently written Devils and Black Sheep by the illustrious indigo-ink. Give the poor conehead some love, people!
"Dibs on the repair chamber!"
"No, I'm more damaged, I get it first!"
Thrust gave up trying to fight for a place in the repair line and retreated to his own quarters to recuperate. He had no desire to face these useless excuses for tunnel drones anyway, especially after his perfect plan had gone so horribly wrong. He'd probably get blamed for it too; never mind that there was no way of knowing that Jetfire would be there. It was too much to expect that they would actually think before pointing fingers. Best to lay low for now and let things settle.
Thrust punched his code into the pad by the door and stumbled in while Inferno ran off to join the other minicons and do whatever it was that minicons did in their free time. He slumped down on his recharge berth and stared aimlessly at his new quarters.
Like most of their makeshift base, it was in pretty shabby condition. There were cracks and dents on all four walls and a bit of exposed wiring poked through the floor on the other side of the room. He hadn't been expecting much from the wreckage of an Autobot-built spaceship, but this was pathetic.
A reasonably intact desk and chair took up most of one corner, and another belonged to a bin containing spare weaponry and energon of both the liquid and crystalline varieties. A computer, standard issue, was sitting on the desk next to a stack of unread reports and the sole non-combatant possession he'd brought with him from Cybertron: his holographic strategy board.
The sensors on the board picked up the motions of his hands, and he could move the figures it projected as if they were really there. It would play out his tactical programs, and he could see the whole field from every angle as his simulations ran and make changes accordingly.
The board could also be used for less martial purposes, and he sometimes arranged images of familiar places or people on it simply to amuse himself. Right now it was set to its default mode, projecting a star map of the sky over the base that slowly changed as the moon rotated.
Thrust ran a hand through the hologram as he walked over to his desk. The stars wavered and flowed before returning to their original positions as he sat down and turned on his computer.
He'd been doing a little studying up on Planet Earth's native species, using their "Internet", a planet-wide system of interconnected computer networks that laid infinite amounts of information about their race at his feet.
Megatron had assured him the humans were no threat, but it never hurt to be careful. So far, he'd had been right. They were barely at the nuclear weapons stage, and, with a few exceptions, didn't even know about the interplanetary conflict tacking place right on their own planet.
Still, they were a mildly interesting species. He scanned over the records of one of their most recent intercontinental wars, noting key targets and maneuvers for future reference. The humans' historical records were a bit hard to follow because they were written for other humans. Thrust had to keep stopping and looking up cultural references to fully understand them. This phrase, for instance:
His next move would upset the entire chessboard of the war.
That could be anything from a piece of furniture to a farming implement. Another Decepticon might find the constant need for reference tiresome and give up, but Thrust enjoyed it. Xenosociology was one of his hobbies.
"Display information on chessboard," Thrust ordered the computer. A text box popped up with a list of search results and Thrust selected the first one he saw.
Chess, from the Persian(probably an Earth dialect, Thrust didn't bother to investigate) word Shah, is played with two people on a square chessboard of 8 rows and 8 columns. Each player begins the game with 16 pieces: eight pawns, two knights, two bishops, two rooks, one queen and one king. One player controls the white pieces; the other player controls the black pieces. The object of the game is to achieve checkmate. This occurs when a king is attacked and it cannot escape capture.
Ah, a strategy wargame. Thrust scrolled down and looked over the rules. It bore a passing resemblance to a few he'd played back on Cybertron. Ridiculously simple, of course; what could one expect from flesh creatures?
A picture of the chessboard and pieces was also shown. Thrust hooked the computer up to his strategy board and entered a few commands. A three-dimensional chessboard complete with classical black and white pieces faded into existence on the table.
Thrust walked over to the table, inspecting the setup. Only thirty-two pieces on a roughly two-dimensional playing field. Very simple, indeed.
A flashing box popped up on the computer screen with a picture of one of the chess pieces.
Would you like to play? Easy, Medium, Hard.
"Hard," snapped Thrust. Well, why not give it a try? It wasn't as if he had anything better to do. Megatron needed cool-off time to recover from their last failure before Thrust could safely present his newest plan without losing some important part of his anatomy.
As well, he didn't actually have anything to present yet, and Megatron would probably call on him the moment he stepped out of his quarters.
Choose a number between one and zero.
Thrust made a puzzled noise. That wasn't in the rules.
"One," he said hesitantly.
Player goes first.
Of course, guessing at a randomly picked number to decide turns. Thrust pulled his seat around and sat down behind the white side. He looked down over his play-warriors, going over their various abilities in his head.
They supposedly represented a human army, although Thrust could only see the barest of resemblances between the pieces and the flesh creatures. It was outdated even by their primitive standards, with no pieces representing aerial forces or range weaponry. Still, Thrust found certain familiarities in the blacks and whites. Not to a human army, but that of the Decepticons.
Thrust moved his first piece out into the battlefield. The pawns represented the minicons, of course. Small, numerous, and weak, but powerful when used properly. That was one of Megatron's problems. He used the minicons as tools to power himself and the others up and ignored their worth as individual fighters. A huge asset, and Megatron rarely used it.
As if moved by an invisible opponent, a black pawn came out to counteract Thrust's white warrior. The tactician mused over the board for a moment, ignoring the game in favor of the pieces themselves.
The rooks symbolized the larger troops, moving in routine, unoriginal paths. Demolisher was loyal but sharp as a puddle of grease, which made him part of a depressingly large portion of the Decepticon army. No wonder they weren't winning, when stupidity was rewarded with promotion. That hunk of junk should be mining or working in a factory somewhere, not fighting.
His strength would be joined by that of Tidal Wave, when the hulking battleship actually got here. Tidal Wave and Thrust had left Cybertron at the same time, but Tidal Wave had never been known for his speed of thought or action. Thrust calculated his arrival in less than three Earth days.
The crazily-swerving knights were Cyclonus and Sideways, both complex to the point of baffling. Cyclonus was a berserker; you pointed him in the right direction and then backed up. How that maniac had gotten selected for the Earth mission was beyond him. Still, there was a twisted sort of intelligence behind that insane front. The problem was getting it out.
Sideways… Now Sideways was an enigma, even to Thrust. Thrust had briefly glanced over the reports of the Decepticons' prior battles on Earth, and knew how the horned 'cycle had spontaneously decided to switch sides, betraying Hot Shot and gaining them the Star Sabre.
Here was more proof of Megatron's stupidity. He had never thought to ask why Sideways had suffered such a change of spark.
Thrust had searched the Decepticon databanks four times. There was no mention of a Decepticon named Sideways. There was no mention of an Autobot named Sideways. There was no mention of even a minicon named Sideways. In all three categories, there were no transformers that matched either his name or his description. He simply didn't exist.
Thrust was convinced that the mysterious motorcycle had his own agenda. He just needed to find out what it was and either support it or destroy it. For now though, the turncolor was with them and Thrust would have to at least make a pretence of trusting him.
The tactician encouraged another pawn and the computer captured it. A futile gesture, as Thrust killed its killer and put his pawn in a more strategic location all in the same move.
The meaning of the two most important pieces was obvious. The king was Megatron, the entire reason for the battle. He moved slowly and decisively, but was nothing without the other pieces to protect him. Megatron was too confident in his own power, and that would be his undoing.
He was flanked by Queen Starscream, who went everywhere and destroyed all in his path. Herein lay another of Megatron's problems, one of his largest. He held Starscream back, trying to force him into submission when he should be channeling that passion against their enemies.
Starscream made a good second-in-command, but nothing less than total command would satisfy him. Megatron seemed blind to this, the fool. Thrust had picked up on it in moments just by watching them interact.
Someday, Starscream would be a spring. Finally pushed down too far, he would rebound and one of them would not survive the encounter. It had already happened to a small extent, he had heard, and Starscream should be thanking the stars that his head and body were still on good terms. But he would try again, that much was certain. Thrust wondered if he could somehow turn this impending conflict to his advantage.
Thrust picked up the illusion of the last piece and studied it carefully before his next move. The tactician reached up and felt the slope of his head while tilting the piece back and forth in his other hand. The parallels were unmistakable.
He was the bishop, who moved slanted and unnoticed through enemy ranks. He stood at the side of both Megatron and Starscream, aiding them as their closest ally and confidante. For now, at least. Thrust moved his doppelganger diagonally and took out an opposing knight. The computer replaced it with a pitiful pawn, quickly targeted for destruction.
This primitive strategy game was beginning to intrigue the tactician. He moved, the computer retorted, and Thrust took advantage of its fallacies. Pieces fell in battle and new ones rose up to take their place.
Now Thrust was closing in on his prize, the black king. The computer "castled", moving its king out of range and sending a lower peon in to take the shot. Just like an Autobot, sacrificing itself for a cause that would be lost anyway. Thrust captured it and pushed onward.
Seeing no escape, the king went where he herded it, trapped by its own solders and surrounded by Thrust's minions. The tactician backed the king into a corner, his victory in sight. One more move would do it.
Checkmate! Player wins!
A trio of joyful chords played. Thrust gazed victoriously at the enemy king, now fallen before him in surrender. He poked the cross-shaped projection on its top to make it spin around its larger base and chuckled. He was already thinking of a new plan to defeat the Autobots. He'd have to get that shuttle out of the way, and of course Smokescreen would have to be disabled...yes, it was all coming together.
Thrust checked his internal chronometer. Probably time to go speak to the real king now. He looked at the board, which had promptly reset itself with Thrust commanding the black pieces.
Well, perhaps one more game.
Author's note: Turncolor is similar in meaning to turncoat, as in one who changes the color of his insignia to join the enemy.