XMAS (W)RAPPING

December 21, 2010

It’s Christmas! Well, almost. And here’s a little extra gift for Transformers fans from my recently dredged Dreamwave archive of unpublished tidbits. Not a lot of people know this, but in the final months of Dreamwave (not that we were aware they were the final months at the time), circa November 2004, I was asked to prepare a one-issue fill in for Dreamwave’s G1 book (issue #14 to be precise). Regular G1 writers James McDonough and Adam Patyk had stepped away from the book. (Being closer to the heart of things, Dreamwave-wise, they clearly saw the writing on the wall, so to speak, and stopped pouring work into the rapidly expanding black hole that was Dreamwave.) In the splendid isolation of this sceptered isle, I just carried on regardless. Though it was shaped to stand alone, I wanted the story to both pick up on what James and Adam has already established and tie G1 and my War Within series tighter together. The outline (it was never scripted) for ‘The Enemy Within’ (yeah, I know, but it fitted) follows. Enjoy!
***
“I got out.”

The words echo in Jetfire’s cerebellum as consciousness slowly returns. He has no sense of where he is, or how long he’s been down here, just a numbing, overpowering feeling of dread. And familiarity. There’s something here with him… and it knows him! The last he remembers… he was battling Sunstorm (in G1 #6) high above planet Earth, an explosion… and then nothing. Jetfire’s rational mind refuses to believe he’s dead. But where exactly is he?

Finally, from the thick, viscous darkness, hard edges form, shapes emerge. Slowly, with mounting horror, Jetfire realises he’s back… in the Well of All Sparks! Only he can’t be! The chamber (deep within Cybertron) was sealed eons ago (at the end of War Within — The Dark Ages). Its location was lost, like their minds couldn’t or wouldn’t retain it for any span of time. Once more, its secrets became the stuff of myth and legend. But Jetfire remembers… like it was only yesterday: the final showdown with The Fallen. The seal broke, and… that’s where Jetfire’s rational mind shut down, and events unfolded from a surreal second person perspective. He watched as from the pit a being that couldn’t exist arose — and with a gesture deconstructed The Fallen! Primus: the sentient heart of Cybertron.

Now, Jetfire stands on the edge of that same pit, staring into it. The existence of Primus and all that he/it represents flies in the face of Jetfire’s deepest held scientific convictions. He… just can’t believe. He can’t. “Which is why you will fail,” says The Fallen, materializing like some dread reaper, “And I will rise once more!” Jetfire stares awestruck as The Fallen advances. Finally though, he unfreezes, raising and firing blasters. The Fallen shrugs off the attack and strikes Jetfire, blasting him off his feet. But when Jetfire crashes back to the ground, he’s somewhere else. Surface Cybertron… but far less evolved, more streamlined, functional… and spacegoing? The stars around him are in motion, a blur. And ahead, something huge and monstrous waits.

He barely has time to flinch aside as The Fallen attacks again, but this time Jetfire is not the target. Another Transformer, some ancient ancestor (bearing a passing resemblance to Optimus Prime), meets The Fallen’s attack. They clash, explosively, and following a titanic battle the Prime-like being falls. The Fallen turns, as if noticing Jetfire for the first time… and attacks, plunging them both into a burning ruin of Cybertron… different again (much more contemporary). Autobots and Decepticons lie three deep, dead or dying, and The Fallen strides among them, finishing off any with the will or means left to fight.

Jetfire leaps to their defense, attacking The Fallen… only to find that he is fighting himself! The two Jetfires, one cast in red and white, the other in red and black, fight to a standstill, and Jetfire realises that once again it’s The Fallen he’s facing. The Fallen laughs, and suddenly they’re back in the Well of All Sparks.

There, Jetfire watches as Shockwave enters, alone. Shockwave descends into the pit, using a drill/siphon to leech energy directly from the Well. “I got out!” The Fallen says, from directly behind Jetfire, and finally Jetfire understands. Shockwave broke the seal, both on the entrance to the chamber and the Well itself. He took what he needed to pursue his cloning experiments (see: War Within — The Age of Wrath) and in doing so unbound the beast within. Sunstorm spoke of a “crusade defiled by chaos,” and Jetfire realises Sunstorm sensed that his purity of purpose was tainted by the dark essence of The Fallen, and in the end it drove him mad. And when Sunstorm was destroyed? What then?

The scene fades, and reality at last reveals itself: Jetfire finds himself entombed in the polar ice on Earth, buried deep. And he’s not alone. The Fallen is within. Within him! When Sunstorm was destroyed, the Fallen’s undying life essence found a new home — in Jetfire’s spark!

Above, the earthbound Autobots (having followed a recently activated emergency signal) arrive, preparing to dig. Jetfire tries to scream a warning, an entreaty to leave him be, to leave him buried, but of course it goes unheard. And (as the ice cracks) within, in the recesses of Jetfire’s mind, The Fallen whispers a single word. “Out!”
***

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ENERGON ARCHIVE (CONCLUSION)

December 17, 2010

Here it is, in one massive hit — the final (unpublished) issue of Transformers Energon (#36) in outline form. It all ends here. But, of course, it never ends!

As the Quintessons blitz the surface and infrastructure of Cybertron and the Autobots and Decepticons struggle to muster any kind of concerted/effective response, the Omnicons (Strongarm, Signal Flare, Arcee and Skyblast) prepare to open the Hub mainframe and mine its storehouse of ancient secrets and power.

A message from Over-Run, recorded in the desperate moments before Starscream struck, helps them understand their two-fold purpose: they are the missing link between the old and the new, guides to an evolutionary step that their race must take if it is to survive and thrive. But their more imminent/urgent mission is to tap the deep well of energon at Cybertron’s own core and empower the populace with enough raw juice to tackle the invaders (foreseen by Over-Run). But to do both, they need a Prime (the key).

On the surface of the now active (and rapidly closing in on Cybertron) Unicron, Optimus Prime and Jetfire battle impossible odds. Now Unicron is a conscious entity once more, he orchestrates wave upon wave of Terrorcon attacks. Even in their combined form, Prime and Jetfire struggle to endure the sustained punishment.

On Earth, Kicker finally decides to stand his ground and face the oncoming Demolishor. Kicker tells Rad to stand well back as he taps into the sum total of Earth’s energon reservoirs, knowing full well it could destroy him. Somehow, Kicker channels/controls the seething power, and finally releases it as a focused burst of unimaginable force. Even shielded as he is, Demolishor is destroyed outright!

Meanwhile, Unicron prepares to ingest the defeated (but still living) Prime/Jetfire but, suddenly, Unicron’s attention is elsewhere… within. In Unicron’s Spark Core Megatron cuts loose with his full energon-enhanced might, destroying key/critical systems, purging any remainder of his fear with blind carnage. Critically wounded, Alpha Quintesson tries to escape/join the Quintesson fleet, but Megatron cuts him down before he can fully teleport away. His twisted, smoking remains materialize in the Quintesson flagship — engendering panic. Unicron is closing fast and the portal to their Quintessa is wide open. Has the plan failed?

Prime and Jetfire take advantage of the suddenly confused/directionless Terrorcons to escape — heading for Cybertron. Prime senses the Omnicons’ need and heads directly for the Hub mainframe. Once there, he unlocks it. The Omnicons’ energon stars glow bright and they go forth into the battle to recharge the needy. As for Prime himself, he gathers his most true and trusted warriors, imbuing a select few with the Spark of Combination.

Aboard the Quintesson flagship, commander-in-chief Maxa Quintesson diverts the fleet’s firepower against the approaching Unicron, deciding he cannot risk the destruction of another Quintessa. Unicron fights back — decimating the fleet.

Prime orders all troops — including those on Earth and Omega Supreme, victorious in his battle against the Four Horsemen — to pull back to Cybertron. They have to defend their planet with every warrior at their disposal. Having seen the seismic shock warhead, Prime knows what’s coming, but will it be in time?? Cybertron could still be consumed.

On Earth, Rodimus and the others are ready to launch themselves through the spacebridge portal intended for Demolishor and Kicker. Kicker insists on coming too. He can make a difference! Having seen him deal with Demolishor, Rodimus doesn’t argue too much. They need each and every edge they can get. Kicker bids farewell to Rad (and Carlos and Alexis). But he’ll be back — count on it.

As Unicron despatches/consumes the last of the Quintesson fleet, he comes under attack from the entire Autobot and Decepticon armada — plus Kicker (in the cockpit of Wing Sabre). Prime leads the charge, knowing they just have to delay Unicron just long enough!

Within Unicron, as Megatron makes his bid for freedom, blasting his way past part-digested Quintessons, so the seismic-shock device goes critical, beginning a monumental, apocalyptic chain reaction. The Autobots and Decepticons retreat, just as a monumental explosion tears Unicron apart! A vast shockwave spreads, smashing into the still open portal, causing it to implode. Cybertron is rocked by a tidal wave of force — scattering the awed Autobots and Decepticons. But it passes, and when next they look Unicron is just gone, a massive debris field/ring all that’s left. Megatron’s fate is uncertain. He is simply listed as ‘missing.’

In the aftermath a new threat to Cybertron surfaces. The portal has turned into a hungry, all-consuming threat of its own and Cybertron is slowly, inexorably being pulled towards it!

Cue… TRANSFORMERS: CYBERTRON.

And no, I never got as far as detailing how Transformers Cybertron would have played out in comic form. But I have one last treat from my Dreamwave archive still to impart. I’ll post that in the run up to Christmas. A little present from me to you!


ENERGON ARCHIVE (10)

December 15, 2010

The second half of the outline for (the unpublished) Transformers: Energon #35, ‘Armageddon part 4’:

Optimus Prime’s fleeting SOS is picked up by the ever-alert Perceptor. He immediately alerts Jetfire: it’s Prime — he’s alive! With heavy heart, Jetfire advises Rad (he and his forces currently held at bay by the epic power of Demolishor) that he now has no choice but to lower the defence shield (before it falls anyway!). Omega Supreme is standing by to relieve Mars Base and Optimus Prime needs extraction — now. He’s sorry, but Kicker will have to fend for himself.

The shield is lowered, and Omega Supreme enters the fray in earnest… engaging Unicron’s Four Horsemen with a truly monumental display of firepower. Simultaneously, Megatron makes the jump into the very heart of Unicron — just as Jetfire flies in, adding his might to Optimus Prime’s fraught (and losing) battle with the Terrorcons.

Rad, alone, reaches the cavern in which Kicker is being held. As long as Grimlock and the other Autobots can keep Demolishor busy, they still have a chance. But Rad is stopped by a forcefield, one Kicker tells him is designed to counteract his energon abilities. Anything he tries just strengthens the field. Rad contacts Carlos, who concurs. It’s very similar to the sort of defences AlterEnergy have been developing: if he can pinpoint the field’s harmonics frequency, they might just be able to throw a spanner in the works. But Demolishor, now alerted to the lack of shield, is coming back, intent on transporting Kicker to his final destination.

And within Unicron, Alpha Quintesson activates the Initiator, opening a vast portal to an alternate dimension. Quintesson ships immediately enter Cybertronian space, blitzing the planet. Next, he prepares the satellite into which the Conduit (ie. Kicker) will be ‘installed.’ Through it/him, the cores of the two planets will be inextricably linked via complex energon ‘streams,’ bound for all eternity (and so they will control all levels of Cybertron’s infrastructure). Kicker’s unique physiology — replacing the original mechanical Conduit — will unite the two streams, becoming just a component in a sophisticated inter-link assembly. As a human being he will cease to exist! Then, the final coup de grace, the exquisite moment Alpha Quintesson has been dreaming of for many, many years — the utter destruction of Unicron! First, though, the Conduit!

But… Kicker is not where he should be. Freed by Rad and Carlos, he’s on the run.

And finally, Megatron vengefully takes on Alpha Quintesson. But, before he can finish him off, Megatron realises that Unicron is now awake and aware. He’s trapped inside the chaos-bringer — again!

To be concluded…


ENERGON ARCHIVE (9)

December 13, 2010

The closing stretch of the de-archived outlines for the unpublished issues of Transformers: Energon begins with the first half of issue #35’s ‘Armageddon part 4’:

Out of the blue, Megatron’s Decepticons target one of the shield generator towers in an all-out assault — intent on collapsing the energon shield around Earth. The reason: Megatron is ready to return to Unicron… to confront and, ideally, destroy Alpha Quintesson. Caught unawares, Jetfire urgently scrambles a response team, but his resources are stretched to breaking point. The ongoing search/rescue mission for Kicker, the attack on Mars base… and now this! If only Optimus Prime was still with them! They need his power now more than ever!

At that exact moment, Prime makes it out onto the surface of Unicron — heading, with some urgency, for an external sensor array. His anxiety is two-fold: first, he needs to warn the Autobots that Unicron is much, much closer to full reactivation than they calculated (thanks to the steady supply of energon from Nervissa) and second, he had to get himself off Unicron before the seismic shock warhead he discovered en route detonates! Immediately, a multitude of Terrorcon clones descend. Prime fights them off as best he can while simultaneously trying to turn the sensor bundle into a transmitter. But even if he succeeds in getting a SOS out — there has to be someone actively looking for it. Prime’s window of opportunity in measured in nano-klicks.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, Rad and his AlterEnergy assault team are closing in on Demolishor and the captive Kicker. His forces have been bolstered by the addition of Wing Saber, Cliffjumper, & Rodimus, plus Grimlock & Swoop. At close range, Rad is able to pinpoint Kicker’s exact position and they head underground into a massive cave system. Demolishor… is ready for them!

Megatron watches and waits as the assault in the shield tower intensifies. He is only too aware this is something he should have done months ago. The knowledge of his own vulnerability is sure to humble and destroy him more completely than a thousand Unicrons. To be the leader he was, he has to face his fear and conquer it… utterly! Megatron knows exactly where to deposit himself to evade Alpha Quintesson’s early warning systems, and once in he’s effectively immune to the local antibody systems (as his current body was created in situ). Nevertheless, should Unicron return to full sentience while he’s still inside, no power in the universe will save him.

On the surface of Unicron, Prime succeeds in sending his SOS — only to be completely overwhelmed.
((MORE SOON))


ENERGON ARCHIVE (8)

December 9, 2010

As promised, here’s this week’s third Energon Archive update, the second half of Transformers: Energon #34, ‘Armageddon part 3’:

On Earth, Jetfire agonizes. He knows (from Rad) that if he lowers the shield now it will allow Demolishor the window of opportunity he needs to escape with Kicker, but at the same time he desperately needs to send reinforcements to Mars. Omega Supreme is on-line and about the only thing truly capable of stopping the Horsemen. What to do? Rad is closing in (thanks to information provided by Alexis), but can he get to Kicker in time… and free him? Jetfire diverts what resources he can to help Rad and sends the signal to Mars: hold out as long as you can.

Easier said than done. Automated sentries and Guardian robots are cut down wholesale and the Autobots stationed on Mars Base amount to exactly four: Bulkhead, Quickstrike, Prowl and Checkpoint. They join the battle nonetheless — and almost immediately Prowl is cut down.

On Cybertron, Levitacus interrupts Avalon’s preparations to send the seismic shock warhead through a (non-Cybertronian) spacebridge portal. He confronts Avalon, and is attacked ruthlessly. It’s been a long time since Levitacus used his alt. mode, but Avalon has no such compunction about cutting loose. Levitacus is forced to respond in kind, and the battle escalates. Wheeljack observes the battle and duly reports to Megatron, who orders him to intervene — and stop Avalon. Avalon defeats Levitacus but is surprised and then felled by Wheeljack. Critically wounded, Avalon just manages to trigger the spacebridge transfer and the warhead disappears.

Within Unicron, Optimus Prime begins his perilous ascent (to the surface) through a redundant vent shaft. He reaches a staging level, whereupon he is suitably shocked to discover the (newly arrived) seismic shock warhead, armed and counting down to detonation!

And, finally, Alpha Quintesson orders Demolishor (waiting by a spacebridge portal in a subterranean cavern in central Mexico) to stand by. He expects the planetary shield to lowered at any moment, and when that happens he is free to transport the Conduit — Kicker!

To be continued…


ENERGON ARCHIVE (7)

December 7, 2010

Here’s the second of this week’s trio of Energon Archive updates, taking us through the first half of the outline for Transformers Energon #34’s ‘Armageddon part 3’:

With great ceremony, Councillor Avalon launches the Initiator, an ancient Quintesson artefact designed to create a chain reaction in space/time and open an epic-scale portal to an alt. universe Quintessa. There, a massed invasion force waits — ready to attack the unsuspecting Cybertron (its infrastructure destabilised, its defences below par). Next, the ‘Conduit’ must be moved into position, and that means the lowering of Earth’s defence shield. As if on cue, Unicron’s Four Horsemen (Death, War, Famine and Pestilence) start blitzing the Autobots’ Mars base.

On Earth, Megatron notes the attack on the Mars base, convinced that Alpha Quintesson is finally making his move. Megatron’s ten-year stretch as a disembodied fragment of Unicron’s Spark gave him a unique insight into Alpha Quintesson’s intricate machinations. On the surface, the alien appears loyal to Unicron (and vigorously dedicated to restoring the chaos-bringer to full operational status), but Megatron can smell latent treachery a mile off. Whatever schemes he was hatching in secret are now coming to fruition, the endgame begun, and Megatron doubts that’s good news for any of them. Megatron orders his agents on Cybertron to be extra-vigilant, while knowing deep down in his troubled spark he needs answers now — and there’s really only one place to get them!

Avalon, meanwhile, has used his High Council authority to divert one of Ironhide’s ‘seismic-shock’ warheads to a secret (deserted) location on Cybertron, where an alien-tech spacebridge portal has been assembled. However, this action has raised a red flag on the monitoring station of fellow Councillor Levitacus, who took it upon himself to personally oversee (hush up!) the decommissioning programme, aware that general knowledge of the existence of such doomsday weapons could cause mass panic. Rather than log an official report, and maybe embarrass Avalon (and thereby the rest of the Council), Levitacus investigates in person, off-the-record.

Within Unicron, the constantly beleaguered and on-the-run Optimus Prime — fighting increasingly impossible odds — is starting to piece together the bigger picture. Earth, he realises, was a (massive-scale) diversion. While they were allocating resources and troops to fortify Earth, the main Terrorcon forces were overrunning/ransacking Nervissa. Prime realizes he must take a desperate leap of faith and hope that someone on Cybertron knows he’s here and is actively searching for him. He has to try to get a message out — but that will necessitate total exposure. He’ll have a window of nano-kliks! Prime plots a course for the surface of Unicron and considers a prayer or two…

On Mars, the outpost’s considerable defences finally buckle under the sustained and ferocious assault of the Horsemen…
((MORE SOON))


ENERGON ARCHIVE (6)

December 6, 2010

Here’s the second half of the outline for ‘Armageddon part 2’ (from the unpublished Transformers: Energon #33):

The energon inferno on Cybertron rages out of control. Skyblast’s energon warheads manage to free Arcee and Signal Flare before Starscream can drain them, but the explosions only add to the conflagration. And Starscream… isn’t harmed at all. In fact, he’s getting stronger all the time. The Omnicons are forced to retreat, but Starscream pursues in jet mode, relentless.

Cut to: Megatron, in his cloaked satellite base. Shockblast reports that the assault team is ready. They just need the target. Megatron tells him it’s an ore processing facility in the Cayman Islands. Shockblast hesitantly ventures the opinion that they’d be better served by attacking key Autobot installations and entrenchments and not these ‘soft’ secondary targets. But Megatron just dismisses him. He has his orders. Mirage comments to Shockblast that he thinks Megatron has “lost his edge.” Shockblast firmly rebukes Mirage but we get the impression he silently shares Mirage’s opinion.

Megatron remembers his long ordeal — disassembled (in #22), disembodied, slave to Alpha Quintesson’s will, then finally re-animated in a new body, freed! And in this private, unguarded moment we see just how deeply shaken Megatron is by the whole experience.

Back on Cybertron, Strongarm comes up with a desperate strategy. Before, when they were helpless captives of Snow Cat (in #25), their minds ether-linked, forming a much greater whole. They have to try that here and now, let Starscream all the way in and fight him as a single/combined entity. Starscream starts to drain the Omnicons’ energon reserves, but suddenly feels them fighting back — draining him! Finally, Starscream loses the battle of wills and reverts to a solid form, his old (cowardly) personality immediately reasserting itself. Attacked by the powered-up Omnicons, Starscream turns tail and flees. But it’s a pyrrhic victory for the Omnicons. Over-Run… is dead.

Avalon reports that the last obstacle has been cleared away. They can begin in earnest. He uses his High Council access codes/clearance to re-route one of Ironhide’s deadly seismic shock warheads (issue #24) to a new location. And, finally, the Four Horsemen close in on Mars Base…

To be continued…