The Tripredacus Council
If there's one thing Transformers fans love, it's playing with toys. But if there are two things that Transformers fans love, then the other one is a well-written show/comic to portray their favorite toys. To this end, sometimes we get lucky and sometimes we don't. As fate would have it, we did in fact get lucky with Beast Wars. And with any well-written show (or anything, for that matter), you've got rounded-out characters, intrigue, back-stabbing, and all kinds of plot twists. This is where the Tripredacus Council comes in.
First, the name deserves an explanation. One of the most popular Transformer institutions is the combiner; you know, where a few Transformers connect to each other and merge into one giant robot. Well, Tripredacus was the name of one of the two combiners released by Hasbro for the Beast Wars line. As the name implies, there were three of them (tri-) and they were Predacons (-predac-). The three Predacons were named Ramhorn (a stag beetle), Seaclamp (a lobster), and Cicadacon (appropriately enough, a cicada). They weren't meant to be characters on the show, but they made a guest appearance anyhow.
Race and Politics on Cybertron
The exact history of the events that took place between the end of the original Transformers series and the beginning of Beast Wars is something that will probably never be told in any canonical fashion. I sort of like this intentional open-endedness because it allows the TransFans to fill in the blanks for themselves. However, there are a few things that are reasonably clear. The first is that the Maximals are descended from the Autobots and the Predacons are descended from the Decepticons. (Well, sort of. Even this isn't really clear, but I'll discuss that in a minute). We were also told that the Maximals and Predacons on Cybertron exist in a rather precarious truce that serves as a backdrop for political deceit and diplomatic intrigue. Something else we also know is that many Predacons seem to be completely dissatisfied with their standard of living; they see themselves as second class citizens and the Maximals as their "first class" overlords. This introduces a rather interesting concept to the Transformers mythos: are the factions divided upon political lines, ethnic lines, or a blurring of both? It's tough; Maximal protoforms can be reprogrammed into Predacons (see Inferno), but at the same time, Rattrap is wont to making comments such as "once a Pred, always a Pred." To further confound the matter, Blackarachnia was a Maximal protoform that was converted into a Predacon and then reprogrammed (deprogrammed?) as the Maximal she was apparently meant to be. Whatever the case may be, the Predacons are discontent with the treatment they receive on Cybertron and some of them want to do something about it.
"Tripredacus Council now in session."
The Maximal faction is overseen by a generically-named "High Council" (alternately referred to as "the Maximal Elders").Almost nothing is known about this group other than the fact that they are more or less the reigning government on Cybertron and that they don't want their constituents reading about certain figures from Cybertron's past. Their word is the law when it comes to disputes amongst the Maximals. The Predacon equivalent of the High Council is the triumvirate known as the Tripredacus Council. These cheery fellows make the laws for the Predacons and they have no such compunctions about censorship. In fact, they seem to love the idea of the Predacons reading about their great Decepticon ancestors. It's good for stirring the soul and engendering the warlike spirit that predominates their programming. Unfortunately, the Tripredacus Council cannot afford to get its hands dirty by actively supporting violent resistance against the Maximals; after all, their main job is paying lip service to the High Council and telling them what they want to hear. They have to seem like they're in line with the Maximal party line of peace, progress, and prosperity when in reality they are still Decepticons at heart. The only difference is, they seem to have a bit more tact than, say, Galvatron. Some of them, anyway. Whereas the Tripredacus Council quietly bides its time and makes clandestine preparations for some sort of revolt, others are simply tired of waiting for them to figure out the next hand to play. One of these others is Megatron. Fed up with the constant political wrangling, Megatron and his misfit group of rebel Predacons struck out on their own by stealing the Golden Disk, an enigmatic alien artifact (later revealed to be the informative disk that was sent out wih the Voyager spacecraft) that contained a message from the original Megatron, asking any Decepticon descendents who might receive the message to travel back in time and ensure his victory in the Autobot/Decepticon War should he prove to be its loser. From what I've been able to gather, Megatron was some type of general or radical politician saying what many Predacons felt but were afraid to openly declare and the Tripredacus Council wanted to shut him up...permanently.
To that end, they employed Tarantulas to be a mole in Megatron's organization. When Tarantulas became marooned on prehistoric Earth with Megatron, his life was in a state of limbo. He had no contact with his bosses and he didn't even know if the operation was still underway. Eventually, however, the Tripredacus Council dispatched another agent to apprehend Megatron, kill him, and destroy any evidence that the events of the Beast Wars ever occurred, all without the Maximal High Council ever learning of what had happened. The agent they selected for this task was the reformed Decepticon Ravage. Although things got off to a good start, Megatron showed Ravage the message from his former commander and quickly brought him around to his way of thinking. Presumably, Ravage's defection would not have amused the Tripredacus Council if they had ever found out about it; Ravage was killed on prehistoric Earth in a cataclymsic explosion. This put the Council in a rather odd position: what now? Although Megatron accepted Tarantulas back into his ranks (it seems as if treachery is not so much detested in Predacon nobility as is failure), he was still inexorably tied to the Council. One question of debate is exactly how loyal Tarantulas was to them. He waS always operating his own agenda, but that begs the question how much of it was really his and how much of it was shaped by his involvement in the Predacon Secret Police? It was revealed in the third season that Tarantulas and the Tripredacus Council were not descended form the same group of Decepticons that the other Predacons were. Exactly whom they were descended from is another source of controversy. Megatron once made what seemed to be a throw-away comment about Tarantulas being a "spawn of Unicron." Although the giant world-devouring Unicron is probably the closest thing that Transformers have to the Devil and thus it's likely that this was an idiomatic insult, Unicron created an army of Decepticons designed to serve him in his quest to destroy the Matrix of Leadership possessed by Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus, and finally Rodimus Prime. However, one of the series editors (I believe Bob Forward) remarked that this was not just an insult, but actually a statement of fact on Megatron's behalf: Tarantulas and the Tripredacus Council actually were the descendents of Unicronian soliders. This adds a new layer to the race vs. politics arguement: what's the difference between a Decepticon-descended Predacon and a Unicron-descended Predacon? We never found out since Tarantulas was killed in a bizarre altercation with the Vok and the Tripredacus Council wasn't exactly available for comments on the subject.
Another theory concerning the origin of Tarantulas and the Tripredacus Council is that they were members of the second generation Decepticons introduced in the Transformers: Generation 2 comic book. These Decepticons had abandoned Cybertron after it was driven to near destruction and spread themselves across the known universe, conquering and terraforming every planet and culture they came across. Wherever they came from, one thing was for certain: they were not here to say.
This is one of those times where I actually wish the authors of the series had chosen to fill us in on the details. Although the Predacons were soundly defeated in the Beast Wars, Megatron returned to Cybertron ahead of the Maximals and somehow managed to conquer it entirely in pretty short. How this happened is never explained. I suppose the Tripredacus Council was given their walking papers by the Predacon commander they had tried to kill on a few occasions (and understandably so) and they were destroyed prior to the Beast Machines series. Of course, there are no corroborating details for this, so it's impossible to be sure as to what really happened. One thing is for sure, though: the Tripredacus Council never fucked around with Megatron again.
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