1. Retrospect at 3 o'clock

Y'know, it's kinda hard to sleep on a metal cot that's too small for you. That's what my bed has been for the past month, so you can guess how long I've been dealing with insomnia.

Argh, this is stupid! I'm stupid! I am such an idiot!

Here I am, stuck in a tiny Star Command prison cell, all because I wanted to have a little fun and adventure.

C'mon, people – is that too much to ask??

When I was a kid, life was good. My parents were your average storybook parents, and – believe it or not – I was a normal boy. Y'know, beating the latest videogame, stuffing the girls' lockers with trash… all that jazz. To top it all off, I was a straight-A student. Yeah, history and poetry and stuff like that bored me to death, but I've always been good with machines, so algebra, chemistry, and physics were a piece-a cake.

Like I said, life was good.

Then there was that day that I got called out of the gym on an emergency. I reported to the principal's office, and that's when I found out.

Mom and Dad were dead.

It was a stupid speeder crash, and it was a stupid drunk driver who killed them.

I was just fifteen, a sophomore in high school.

Not every life that goes bad starts with childhood tragedies like the shrinks say. It just so happens that that's what happened to me.

Uncle Dev took me in after that. I continued getting good grades – I guess to honor Mom and Dad's memory. But at the same time, I got involved for a while with some of the rougher guys in class. Don't ask me how my first cigarette went – I ain't telling. I almost got into drugs, too, until my uncle found out.

Bang. Grounded until graduation.

Okay, so in retrospect, I guess I did blow it. But the man didn't have to lock me up in the house! And all the rules I had to follow when I was at school were ridiculous! A week after my graduation, I turned eighteen. When that day came, I moved out, permanently.

So there I was, a valedictorian (Did I forget to mention that? Sorry.) graduate on my own, with no money and no prospects. Fortunately, an old buddy of mine took me in. A few days after I moved in, I got a job as a tech programming computers in spaceships for Gemini Enterprises. The pay wasn't much, but it wasn't a bad job.

But I wanted more.

I wanted to get out and see the galaxy. Sure, I'd been in outer space before but never for very long. I wanted to cruise, baby.

I also wanted to get away from people constantly telling me what to do. Oh yeah, freedom from rules sounded sweet.

But I ain't dumb – I never have been. You don't get fed by people not telling you what to do. I knew that. So I suffered through all the dumb regulations at Gemini.

Couple months later, I was working after hours on the mainframes on one of Gemini's dreadnaughts when somebody came aboard the ship. Two somebodies. One I recognized as one of our accountants, and the other one sounded sorta like a British-accented computer. It didn't take a genius to figure out that they were having a private conversation, so I hid.

Come to find out, the accountant was smuggling schematics out of Gemini for this other guy, who he kept calling "my evil Emperor".

I don't have to tell ya that it was weird.

The "Emperor" said something about wanting a new tech – preferably humanoid – who actually knew what he was doing, unlike the other "lackeys" he had. That's when I started paying attention. The accountant said that he might be able to find someone at Gemini, if the price was right. The "Emperor" suggested five times the annual tech salary at Gemini.

Oh yeah, baby!

Like the eager kid I was, I sprang out of hiding and said, "I'll work for you, mister!"

The guy looked me over as I, in turn, stared at him in shock. I'd seen a photo of Emperor Zurg once on the news before, but that could not have prepared me for meeting him in person.

Weird guy. Bucket-shaped purple helmet with red eyes, green mouth grill, and small silver horns. Purple-and-red robes with silver chest plate and gauntlets (and I could tell right away that this guy was a cyborg: those weren't gloves he was wearing – those were his hands). Black-and-red cape, a "Z" in the center of his chest like a light or a button.

Okay, so he didn't pay attention to trend, but hey! he was an emperor! Who cares about trends, anyway?

But I knew I'd made a mistake jumping out like that. The Evil Emperor Zurg had earned notoriety for his hostility toward the Galactic Alliance – technically, we were on opposite sides of a cold war. Still, he was interested in me.

"Who are you?" he demanded.

"Warp Darkmatter, sir," I said with more cockiness than I felt.

He grilled me on my knowledge of computers. I answered every one of his questions correctly and handed him my PDA, which had my school and job records. Between my knowledge of computers and my records, he was impressed. "Well, Darkmatter, are you interested in working for me?"

"Uh, Your Highness, I…"

"What is it? Speak up, boy!"

"I – I'd be betraying the Galactic Alliance, sir. I'd be betraying my home."

He laughed – and the way I know him now, I know he was laughing at me. "Does that bother you, Darkmatter?"

"Kinda."

"Oh please! Betrayal, home – hah! Betrayal's a part of life, Darkmatter, and the sooner you learn that, the better off you'll be. And what home do you have, anyway? Your parents are dead - you said so yourself!"

That hit home, and he apparently saw that.

He gave an electronic sigh. "I can see there are some things I'm going to have to teach you. Are you willing to learn?"

Should I have said it? I'm not so sure anymore. "Yes."

That did it. I was in.

Zurg took me to his home, Planet Z. Everybody's heard of Planet Z – it's horror-tale material. And it became my new home.

It wasn't bad. It was actually pretty fun. With all the state-of-the-art technology I was working with and even – in some cases – being given, I was in heaven! If this was evil, chain me to the wall!

Ha-ha, bad joke.

Besides a capable tech, Zurg had also been trying to find somebody who could infiltrate Star Command. As the rising top law-enforcement agency, it posed a big threat to Zurg's schemes. Zurg wanted to send someone into The Academy to work his way up from Cadet to Space Ranger.

At eighteen, I was the perfect choice.

I registered just in time to make it before the first semester began.

Funny, if I'd ever thought that Uncle Dev's rules were bad, these people were ten times worse! This was the military, and they made that painfully clear.

Still, I did really well. So did my roommate. Actually, he did better than me, which was something I was totally unused to. For a while, there was a lot of competition – pretty fierce on my side, pretty good-natured on his. My belligerence (yeah, I can use big words) didn't make for a very comfortable first three months.

Universal rule: all boys love to play pranks in some form or other. For some guys, it's just verbally trapping their sisters in their hard-to-follow logic. For other guys, it's the real stuff, like buzzers and itching powder and stuff.

I kinda told ya earlier what kind of pranks I like.

So a couple of my classmates and I were planning revenge on our computer science teacher for his stupid extra homework that didn't teach us anything. Yeah, he was a real pain in the neck. It wasn't just me – that's what everybody thought.

Including my roommate and rival. He overheard us planning, and I thought for sure that we were dead. He was such a by-the-book guy, I thought he'd turn us in, or at least give us one of his already-infamous lectures.

So I got one of the shocks of my life when he grinned and said, "That's not the way you do it. Here's what you do…" And he launched into a full plot that was well thought-out.

I was gaping. I couldn't believe my ears.

Well, we pulled the prank off without a hitch, and nobody was ever the wiser. That's when I decided that my roommate and I would work pretty well together.

Okay, listen to this, 'cause it's important:

Buzz Lightyear and Warp Darkmatter.

Yeah, we were a great team. The best.

We pulled off our pranks together and helped each other with our homework.

We teased each other about the girls we dated, and Buzz could get really merciless about ribbing me on that one. Okay, so maybe it was kinda nuts to go out with a new gal every month and sometimes a couple of them at a time, but hey! can I help it if the ladies love me? We also argued about which was better: redheads or brunettes. I preferred redheads (think it's kinda cute when they blow their tops); he preferred brunettes. (That redheaded rookie in his new team is pretty cute – wonder if he'll come to his senses and start going out with her.)

So went the two years at Milky Way Academy.

When graduation came at last, Buzz came out with the highest score ever, and I was right behind him. Star Command welcomed us with open arms, and Commander Nebula, knowing how good of a team Buzz and I had been in the Academy, decided to keep us together.

'Course, I was reporting this to Zurg, and he wasn't too happy about the "new boy" on the scene. Lightyear was a potentially dangerous foe that he wanted out of the way.

Zurg had never been more right.

I tried to stop Buzz from damaging Zurg's schemes too much without giving myself away – I really did! But Buzz was just too crater-blasted good!

Almost twenty years passed with this back-and-forth game. Zurg grew more and more powerful, and Buzz got better and better. He had to go, and I knew it.

But eighteen years of being with a guy does things to you, y'know? Buzz… Buzz was the best friend I'd ever had, even if he was really nuts about the rules.

(Funny, he loved rules – wrote half of them, in fact! – and I hated 'em. And we were still a good team!)

But then came Zurg's kidnapping of three LGMs, and let me just say for the record that, no, I had nothing to do with it. My only part in the whole affair was to keep Buzz from finding the LGMs, which, of course, I botched. It wasn't my fault – it was those stupid rescuer LGMs! They proved Buzz's hunches right.

Before that mission, I'd gotten the call from Zurg to pack it up at Star Command. He wanted to pull me out of there and bring me on fulltime. We just had to fake my death so spectacularly that genius-boy Lightyear would never suspect the truth.

When Zurg told Buzz that he'd activated the self-destruct on his little base, I knew that this was it. I didn't plan on that huge beam falling on me, though; I got squeezed helplessly between junk. In the following explosion, my right arm was blown away – yeah, there's a reason why they say pyrotechnics are dangerous, trust me.

I'll admit it – I was scared. Fire's all around you, you can't move when you try… who wouldn't be scared? My guess is that even His Purpleness would be wailing.

Me, I was a soldier. Whatever my future was, I was gonna face it like a soldier.

Then Buzz found me.

This was the hard part. I figured that the moment the place blew, the floor would give way and I'd be safe underground – that's the way Zurg works. But if Buzz was still here trying to get me out when that happened, he'd be captured by Zurg.

So long forever, Buzz Lightyear.

Call me a wimp, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't let Buzz die – not after all we'd been through together. Even later on, when I was gunning for him as Agent Z, I'm not sure that I would've done it. Even when Zurg gave me a direct order, I'm not sure I'd've done it.

So much for the cynical, sardonic Darkmatter.

I told him to get outta there. He wouldn't listen to me. Desperate, I punched his jetpack on, rocketing him high into the sky.

So long, Partner.

Y'know, if I'd let him stay, he'd more than likely be dead now. I definitely wouldn't be in jail right now.

If I'd know this then, would I have still let him go?

Weird thing is…

Yeah.

Yeah, I still woulda done it…

One of the few functions they left on my mechanical arm is my chronometer.

3 am.

I've heard of three o'clock in the morning. It's supposed to be the time for mulling over stuff, usually negative stuff.

Guess I'm upholding the time-honored tradition, huh?

I wonder if Zurg'll ever get me outta here. Probably. And then I'll probably go back to being his Agent Z (and I still think that name's stupid). His bad guy.

But – sweet mother-a Venus – I'm actually gonna miss Star Command.

I'm gonna miss Buzz.

Not that I'd ever tell him that, of course – I really would die first.

Aw craters. Zurg, get me outta here before I go crazy with all this mushy stuff!

It's 3 am, and I've been up all night.

I'm gonna try to get some sleep.

Disclaimer:

I obviously don't own BLoSC, because if I did, I would've made a second season and a bunch of movies to wrap up the story satisfactorily.

Author's Notes:

In watching Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins for the first time in a while, I noticed something off-kilter – Warp sent Buzz away. Now really, why would he do that? Warp knew that he didn't need to fear for his own safety because it was all an elaborate hoax. If Warp had let Buzz stay, Buzz would have been captured by Zurg, so this begs the question: if Warp issuch a bad guy, why did he send Buzz away? Forcibly, even – remember, he pounded Buzz's jetpack button.

Personally, I think that Warp actually couldn't bring himself to let Buzz die. He demonstrated this fact in "Ancient Evil" and apparently (I've never seen this episode for myself, but I've heard about it) "Tag Team," too. This whole story was built around this thesis as a way to show why he did it.

In future fics, Warp's past as shown here (and created by yours truly) will remain the "Darkmatter canon."

Last but not least, this is my very first fan fiction here! I am so excited! I welcome reviews with open arms, and shun flames with every subatomic particle of my being! I have not seen the whole BLoSC series by a long shot, so if you ever notice anything that conflicts with canon or seems OOC, please let me know so that I can edit and improve my work!