Stand. STAND!
By Sinead

Original text (and thus, inspiration) from Gorrz

Author's Note: So technically, this is a collaboration. I want to thank you with all my heart for helping me corner my muse, Gorrz. Also, a sincere apology goes out to those who have been following me and reading my stories. I'm sorry that I haven't been writing as often as I know I used to, but I've been increasingly busy with my full-time job, as well as with my church. Please bear with me! I'll get more up offa the drafting board as soon as I'm done re-editing the suckers! (Shudders at thought of the remaining six stories of the Awn'néad series to be re-edited . . . the sheer volume of text in that series is almost overwhelming. Not to mention the grammatical, detail, and time-continuum errors . . .) Oh! And just a random FYI: On October 29th, it snowed in the Boston area. I kid you not. This winter's gonna be rough.

And the formatting for edit program isn't letting me do this the way that I had originally formatted it. What a total and complete pain in the butt.

. . . He didn't go to the valley to "protect" anyone; he didn't face overwhelming odds to "save the future;" most of all, he didn't die, as Optimus had put it upon his passing, "lived a warrior, died a hero."

He went there to meet fate in the face . . .

I breathed in the autumn-scented air, seeing the bright colors of the early-changing trees among the still-summer-green of others. It was nearing the end of October. Smiling, I turned back inside, closing the sliding door of the patio and looking at the television screen. That's right. I had paused it to leap outdoors, hearing the coyotes calling to each other again, declaring their territory. It was early in the day, and I usually heard them at night, after dark, speaking their eerie tongue.

I was watching Code of Hero for the first time in months.

. . . He went to stop running from his demons . . .

I pressed the "play" button, sitting back and remembering the episode in the whole. It was indeed the centerpiece of the entire series, and not just because of the content. New animation techniques and tricks were also developed in the making of the episode. I had listened to Bob Forward, one of the original writers, speak about his directing this particular installment. He had introduced the use of storyboards; before this point, they hadn't done so. The animators had set up everything that they needed before "filming." They ran ahead of schedule. They did things quicker, more efficiently.

They brought to life what would become a legend. Of what was to be the most-remembered episode in all of Beast Wars history. Of what was to be the inspiration for many authors, artists, and fans. It was up to them, and they had done us all proud of their efforts.

. . . He fought because he had to, not due to the fact that there was no choice due to the situation or lay of the foe, but because he was a warrior, a soldier, born of the blade, sharpened with honor, and sheathed in lies, failure and shadow . . .

Birds circled lazily over the python's kill of two anthropoids. Crows, black as night, with beady, intelligent, menacing eyes that watched all movement with equal calculation: Is it dead? Will it die soon? Is it safe to eat? I saw those birds all the time when walking to and from the city library. I walked past a graveyard every time I wanted to access the internet on a PC. They were a constant presence, almost pressing down sometimes. Other times I would watch as they fly effortlessly over the stone memorials. Someone said once that a graveyard isn't so much for the dead as it was for the living. It was for those who were left behind, so that they could gain some comfort in wake of the death of their loved ones.

I find peace in the garden of obelisks. Nothing moves. Promise of a new life awaits. A life after death, with all your ancestors beside you; your family that had gone before you.

. . . He died for himself, for who he was . . .

The blade was drawn, within his hands, its individual components swirling lazily, dangerously. There was ritual in his movements, a sense of gravity in how he viewed his blade. In Japan, it was called "seppuku." Ritual suicide. It meant that he felt that even his honor had deserted him, or that this was the only way to preserve his honor. It meant that he felt he didn't deserve to live, because he failed his commanding officer; his liege lord. He failed his "clan," his team . . . both of them. He was not of one world nor the other; neither Maximal nor Predacon.

For Dinobot, the only thing left was death. And in death, death by his own hand, he would have found, or retained, his honor. Honor was everything.

. . . He died a blood-soaked blade, one clean of its sheath . . .

I let my back relax against the couch, pulling the corners of my fleece blanket close around me, remembering gazing at blades behind sword-store counters, holding a katana for the first time. The steady, balanced weight was perfect. I was drawn into a complete awe as I saw the hint of my reflection within the blade's steel depths. My shoulder had tensed subconsciously while I gripped the blade with instinctual knowledge passed to me from my Celtic warrior-ancestors, wanting to move the blade in the way it had been forged to move. I ached to dance its dance of lethal glory.

I felt complete in holding that weight in my right hand, seeing the seemingly-unbreakable, curved tip reflect the light up at the ceiling. The black leather beneath my carefully-gloved hand fit my hand perfectly. The hilt warmed. In a way, that is how I feel about myself. Carefully forged in the fires of my life's circumstances, I'm held in the hand of One who knows far better than I do on how I should be used. I am a blade that fits His hand perfectly, knowing His touch and warming to it without a second guess.

. . . He fought as he lived, for the fight, in the fight . . .

The sword was flung across the room, clattering against a rack of identical swords, shaking them, before bouncing and rolling into a shaft of light. I could only imagine the warrior's head falling into his hands as he found out that he wasn't able to complete the ritual. That he wasn't strong enough to complete it. It was weakness. He didn't have the self-discipline to continue. For all the gruffness he surrounded himself with, for all the snarling sarcasm he bit out at others with, he couldn't bring it upon himself to end his own life. For all his training, for all of his pure warrior's spirit, he couldn't do it.

For life, in itself, spited him, and it wasn't about to let him go just yet. Fate had one more great test in store for him.

. . . He truly lived even in death, but he was no hero . . .

I bit the inside of my lip, lost in thought again. There was a time, just after the accident that had left a man dead upon my father's account, I had contemplated death in a vague way. I had thought of the agility of a blade, a sharp kitchen knife, how it could easily slice through the soft, creamy-pink skin of my under-wrist, through the blue-green veins that lie within. Never could I imagine anything past that. Not long after, I had finally gotten over the mental shock of the accident. I broke down, pushed past my limits by school, friends, family, and everything else. I relented and accepted my grief that a life had been lost. I accepted that I had nothing to do with it. I accepted that it was fate that led me to that day, that moment, that hour, that minute, that second. I regretted thinking the thoughts of ending my life. God wasn't, and isn't, done with me yet. He still has tests in store for me. He has a plan for my life that only He knows. Do I call it fate? Possibly. Trust in His will, definitely.

And yet to those who idolize me, I say that I am no unattainable goddess that flies among the clouds. I am as mortal as anyone. I have my vices. I am no "untouchable" immortal. I have my faults. I am no hero.

. . . Perhaps to all the kiddies, yes, he was a hero . . .

He argued with Rattrap, the anger-consumed vermin accusing him of things he new were true. He was not who had been in the beginning of the Wars. He had a different sense of who he was, of what his reality was, of what lay beneath the surface of his person. He didn't like what he saw. Not many of us do, when we're forced to look upon ourselves. We see our shortcomings. We see our guilt. We see everything that we should be, but are not.

And yet there are always those who insist upon looking upon our good points, overlooking the things we focus upon. There are those who gladly see the best in us. They will always consider us their heroes. Yet naive they are not. Nor misguided. Just innocent. Pure.

. . . Dinobot's death was tragic, it was a heartbreaking, tear sobbing, a moment of weakness . . .

Feeling the moment of decision as Dinobot reached it, just before he entered the valley, I watched, awestruck again as if it was the first time I had seen this episode. He came to the end of his personal road. He died by his actions. And his inactions. He spoke his last. Again, his words inspired new faith in me for believing in the future, to keep walking and moving forward.

Never before had I cried at his passing. I had just taken it in stoically, thinking that was what he would have wanted, had Dinobot been real. Had he been beside me, watching with me his own death. I don't think he would have wanted pity or sadness. I didn't think that he would have wanted me to witness these last moments, usually ones of frailty.

Nevertheless, in those moments he had a strength that burned with a flame that can only be felt, never seen or otherwise detected. In moments of perfect weakness, he had perfect strength. In moments of perfect brokenness, he had perfect solidarity. He had perfect, radiant glory in those moments of perfect darkness.

I cried for what he was. I cried for what I wish I could be.

. . . But he died how he lived, and in death, and in that few moments, in battle, begging for the strength to just stand again, to draw his weapon, that was his legacy . . .

I never noticed the shadow in the hallway behind and to my right. The end credits scrolled. I stopped the DVD, rubbing at my face. A feeling of completion surrounded me as I thought of what Dinobot's character had taught me. Never fight without a cause. Always know where you stand. Never underestimate your foes. Always remember to be true to yourself, no matter how much that hurts. Never accept failure, and never back out of a fight you know you can win. Always try to live life one breath at a time. Never stop believing in the future. Always look for what you can do to contribute to those around you.

Never let the grip upon your honor falter.

Always believe that your next step will bring you closer to what awaits in that step beyond. Always.

The shadow moved and half-leaned, half-crouched before me, a warm hand pulling my own hands gently away from my face. I blinked once, slowly.

. . . Not saving the humans, not correcting his wrongdoings with the golden disk, but standing up, and not laying back; just to simply stand . . .

"Stand," he said, his face suddenly inches from mine. "Answer my questions. Tell me everything."

I looked back into those blood-colored optics, in the worn, character-lined face, seeing weariness of life, weariness of fighting, weariness of being on guard every day of his life. And I smiled for him, at him, feeling my own face relax. How he was here, I didn't know. Neither did I know what he wanted, or what he wanted to hear. But I knew that I would tell him the truth of everything he asked for. For there was honor in speaking truth. Yet to tell the truth was a battle all of its own. A fight I would gladly partake in.

"Tell me your questions," I whispered, barely able to breathe, "and I will give you what answers I have."

He nodded once, solemnly, face never lifting from its scowl. But a fire burned within his optics. A fire that I had noticed in human eyes that would, at its own time, result in an understanding smile. I sighed, looking away, almost embarrassed to look directly into his gaze. But I looked back, and he was still there, watching me. He straightened, looking down his nose at me in an expression I had seen so many times I knew it well enough to draw without even a reference picture. He was allowing me to adjust to his presence. I rubbed at my eyes again, and steeled myself, looking up into the gaze of the warrior, drawn into his world and reality, pulled into his whirlwind of carefully-hidden emotions that warred with the ones he openly showed, led into the quiet center of who he was . . .

Into Dinobot's very face.

And then I stood.