Chapter 1 "Now, who can tell me how Sentinel Zeta (as he was known then) managed to achieve his sweeping series of victories over the naval forces of Clench's Destron Empire? Tonans, how about you? You haven't answered lately." Ironhide frowned as he watched the usually quite silent mech stutter out his answer. The boy was bright, no doubt. His structure was just lacking in overall integrity. "W-well, sir, Zeta abandoned the then-common b-b-big gun focus that most c-c-capital ships had up to that point. H-he focused on basing a large number of f-f-fighters and other small spacecraft on them so that his squadrons could enjoy the benefit of beyond sensor-range engagements." Ironhide nodded in what could be interpreted as approval, and used his holochalk stylus to draw a basic diagram on the board. It depicted two basic types of warship. One was billowing with guns, while the other was a sleek affair with hangars on the side. X-ing out the former, he turned back to his students. "So, as Tonans said, the battleships of old relied on their sheer firepower - usually in the form of large main batteries consisting of long-range weaponry - to win their fights. While this was all fine and dandy when navies were battling it out in Cybertron's orbit and targeting the biggest heat signatures with their fire control systems, it would not be so for long. The advent of interstellar flight, space-to-space missiles, infrared stealth measures, and increased range on smaller starships changed the paradigm to favor ranges that the old ships couldn't engage effectively at. Now, here lay the genius of Sentinel Prime. He may not have been a great warrior personally - but by his aptitude for coordination and ability to adapt to change, he defeated Clench and brought a period of...tenuous peace..to Cybertron." The moment he said the last few words, the class as a whole felt a shadow - that of current events - come over them. "So, I feel that was...overly topical, but that's why we have Military, History and Analysis. So we can relate the past to what happens today in our future. Things - especially large conflicts like we seem to be heading towards - don't happen for no reason, do they? Anyhow, class dismissed. Our next lecture is to be one of my favorite subjects - the Thetacons's war against the occupying Protectobot forces and effective use of cunning guerrilla tactics to make up for numerical/technological inferiority." Looking in the general direction of the door, Ironhide groaned as he saw a familiar face enter as the younger Cybertronians leave. "Primus, of all the days for you to barge in, Warpath. You know what the kids just saw on those vidscreens - Kaon's chief Augur, shot down while speaking and the successful escape of his killer! A religious figure, a holy man, killed with impunity! The world on the edge of civil war! Seeing you - a prominent officer - is just going to confirm their fears." His visitor merely responded to this with a dismissive grunt. His speaking voice was a low roar, a spring under tension, about to be released. "Tough. The sooner the illusions of peacetime shatter, the better. You know why I'm here, Sergeant." Ironhide sighed. "I'm retired." "Read your discharge and separation document again. There should be a provision regarding this. Bottom, second page. You knew this would happen when you went to the Academy on the Senate's bill." Ironhide pulled said papers out of his desk. Paper, a needless formality in his opinion, was still insisted upon by the Government - harder to forge, they said. Reading the relevant words out loud, he realized that Warpath, sadly, was right. "In exchange for benefits offered, I, Ironhide, sign myself into the Lifetime Reserve to be called up at the discretion of the Armed Forces of the Republic, in times of planetary emergency." Warpath put his hand on Ironhide's shoulder. "Sorry, buddy. It's there in ink, though. Ain't nothing more binding in the state's eyes."