A TRANSFICTION Project
Issue Three: "Enter, the NEMESIS!"
Written by Bryan Richard Shipp
The Transformers: powerful warrior robots waging a neverending battle across space and time. Autobots and Decepticons, fighting a war of long-forgotten ideologies, now trapped in a cycle of violence that threatens to consume them all. They have traveled across the ages from their homeworld of Cybertron to a blue-green orb we know as the Earth. But this is not the Earth we know; it is a world transformed, a place of mutants, superheroes, and villains. It is a world where nothing is as it seems. . .and these alien robots will soon find that those they thought were allies and enemies are not. They will find that there are greater threats than each other. . .
At Guangzhou Military Command, alarm klaxons rang, pilots scrambled to their fighters, and the base commanders swore at each other and their subordinates in their native language. None of them understand how three American F-15 fighters made their way this far into Chinese airspace without being detected. They are angry with each other, but they are far angrier at the Americans. They are determined to not allow the United States to dictate their policies as it has dictated the policies of all the nations in its own hemisphere. They have sent their valiant warriors out to attack and destroy the American planes. Three F-15s will be no match for a dozen SU-27s.
"Argh! We’ve been flying around for months! Why don’t we just build a new base? This planet’s rich with materials we could use to create a powerful citadel." Thundercracker grumbled.
Inside Starscream’s cockpit, in cassette-deck mode, Soundwave answered. "What Megatron commands, it is our duty to fulfill."
"Yeah, but Megatron’s not here, is he? No, he’s not. He’s wondering around with that pathetic fleshling. I say if he doesn’t want to stick around with us, then he’s not worth following!" Skywarp snarled.
"You underestimate the value of the flesh creatures, Skywarp." Starscream said smoothly. He would remember Skywarp’s expression of dissatisfaction with Megatron’s leadership--not only would it be excellent blackmail material when the time came, virtually ensuring Skywarp’s support, but it was also another indicator that the Decepticons Megatron lead to this miserable mudball of a planet were ready for new leadership. Ready, and willing.
"And I think you overestimate the fleshlings, Starscream. Wasting time and energy with your experiments. . ." Thundercracker called.
Starscream was about to reply when Soundwave erupted with an uncharacteristically loud "Enough! Cease your bickering immediately. My sensors indicate not only that we are approaching our destination, but we have also picked up trackers."
The three Decepticon Seekers turned their minds to their sensors, and saw that, indeed, they were being followed. A dozen human air fighters, broken into three groups of four, approaching from 3, 6 and 12 o’clock, closing fast.
"Megatron’s orders did not allow for discovery and combat," Soundwave reminded the Seekers.
"Yeah, well Megatron’s not here, and I’m ready for a fight!" Skywarp yelled excitedly.
"Agreed," Starscream replied almost immediately. It was important to keep the troops happy--happy troops were more likely to look upon you kindly when you overthrew your own leader. "If we do not fight here, we run a greater risk of discovery. Thundercracker, Skywarp--choose your targets and go! I’ll take the fleshlings at 12 o’clock."
"This is unwise," Soundwave said.
"This is necessary," Starscream replied, before engaging his afterburners. He didn’t tell Soundwave the real reasons he felt the need to strike out at the incoming fighters. Best that he learn that when he and his Lord and Master, Megatron, both fell beneath Starscream’s null rays.
Prowl sighed. He had never known the difficulty of being the Autobot Leader until he was the Autobot Leader. Not that he wanted to be. Optimus Prime was still the greatest of them all, their mentor and inspiration--a living, legendary figure who graced them with his presence and wisdom, pushing them on always to greater things.
"Touchdown! Consume THAT, Kansas City Chief!"
That was, he was a living legend until they crashed on Earth and the Matrix of Leadership, containing also the spark of his being, was stolen from his chest while he remained offline in stasis lock. Now, Optimus Prime was little more than a human child, finding pleasure in the smallest things and unable to concern himself with anything larger. He knew as much--that was why he had put Prowl in command of the Autobots, to take care of him and his fellows while Prime’s sparkless body slowly deteriorated.
It was all Prowl could do to keep himself from screaming venom at Primus the Almighty for what had befallen the first and greatest of the Autobots, seeing him sit in one corner of the Ark’s primary command center watching human television programs day in, day out. Occasionally, one of the other Autobots would join him--usually, Jazz or his old friend Ironhide.
Without Prime, the Autobots had no leader, and without the Matrix, they had no hope. Prowl would not be so arrogant as to think he could be even an adequate replacement for Prime--nor did he believe that he would have to replace Prime at all. Months before, he had sent the majority of the Autobot forces out into the wilds of this new world, ostensibly to learn as much as they could about the humans and, hopefully, to find the location of the Decepticons. But the word had been given in private: they were to seek and locate the Matrix of Leadership, and bring it back to the Ark, no matter who had it or what it was being used for.
Those months had passed in vain, and now Prowl couldn’t help but wonder if Optimus Prime would perish before they could find the Matrix. He thought how, in a way, it was foolish for the Autobots to vest in their leaders the most powerful artifact on Cybertron, something which merged the spark of the host and the Matrix itself together. It gave the holder tremendous power. . .but it left him vulnerable to exactly what had happened to Optimus Prime.
Two humans walked through the open entryway to the Ark. One of them Prowl recognized as Ambassador Cullen, the human who had championed the Autobots when they first left the Ark, and who had sought to learn as much about them as he could since. The man with him was someone knew, but Prowl could tell he was a human official of some type.
"Commander Prowl, let me introduce you to General Preston. He’s the commander of the military base outside." Cullen looked pointedly at the General. "He’s been too busy to meet you until now."
Preston cleared his throat. "Ah, nice to meet you. Tell me, what have you been doing to find those Decepticons you told us about. You know--the ones who killed one of my best men, and who put another into a coma."
Prowl frowned. "We’ve been doing the best we can, General. We’ve not found them yet."
"Well, I think I’ve found them for you."
"What?" This shocked Prowl--granted, he’d made the Autobots’ first priority finding the Matrix, not the Decepticons, but he didn’t think they’d miss out on finding the Decepticons, either. "What news have you got?"
Preston cleared his throat. "We’ve got one hell of an international incident, here. The Chinese are saying that a few of our F-15s shot down a squadron of their--" At this point, Preston snickered. "Air superiority fighters. Only a slight problem with this--none of our boys has been near China."
"China?" Prowl asked.
Optimus Prime swiveled in his seat. There was a commercial break, so he was all right. "I know this China!" He exclaimed. "It’s where Chinese food comes from!"
Cullen looked wounded, then smiled at Prime. "Yes, Optimus Prime, that’s right. Chinese food comes from China."
Prime nodded, and Preston began to splutter. "Th--That’s your leader? Some fifty-foot couch potato with the intelligence of a five-year-old?"
Cullen gasped, stricken, and glared at the General. Prowl only responded by narrowing his optics, and leaning down to look at the human directly in his face.
"That ‘couch potato,’ as you so incoherently called him--"
"Oh, a, uh, couch potato is somebody who sits around watching television all day," Cullen interrupted.
Prowl glanced at him, then back at the General. "That couch potato, as you so accurately called him, is Optimus Prime. He is a living legend among Transformers--there is no Decepticon who does not quake in his capacitors when he hears that name. There is no Autobot who does not swell with pride at the victories brought about by the hand of Optimus Prime. He is a philosopher and a warrior--there is none who is nobler in all the universe than Optimus Prime. How dare you speak so badly of him!"
Preston was taken aback. "I--I’m sorry. I didn’t know."
Optimus Prime stood and walked over to Prowl, embracing him in a strong bear hug that lifted the smaller Autobot straight off the ground. Prime put him down. "That was beautiful, Prowl."
"Ah, yes, Prime. Uhm. . .isn’t your show back on, now?"
Prime slapped his forehead. "Of course!" He rushed over to sit down happily.
Prowl shook his head and turned his attention back to the two humans. "It saddens me to see him this way. I’ve known him when he was an inspiration to all around him--this is less than a shadow of the robot he used to be. His logic circuits were badly damaged in the crash. We’re trying to repair them, but it’s no use."
"I’m sorry to hear that," Preston said quietly. It seemed that Prowl’s uncharacteristic passion had reached even him. A few seconds passed in silence, the only sound echoing in the Ark’s command center the laugh track from the sitcom Prime was watching. Then, Preston shifted his feet, and the moment of mourning was over. "Ahem. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because three of your boys--the Decepticons, that is--had alternate modes of F-15s. We think that this attack was from them."
Prowl nodded. "No doubt it is, General. How will you handle the diplomatic end of things without revealing the Decepticon presence?"
Preston shrugged. "That’s up to diplomats."
Prowl and Preston both looked at Cullen.
"What? Don’t look at me--I don’t know how the Chinese think! I only ever served as Ambassador to Canada!"
Preston snorted. "Like we ever needed an ambassador there."
"Canada is not the northern half of the United States no matter what you seem to think, General."
"They’re less of a military threat to the United States than Texas. That’s all I need to know."
Cullen opened his mouth to continue the argument, then thought better of it and turned away with a sigh. Instead, he looked at Prowl. "We don’t know what they’re doing, attacking the Chinese military, but my bet is that’s it’s something important if they’re finally risking their cover being blown."
Prowl nodded. Behind him, he heard Prime’s chair scrape. Prowl turned, almost afraid of what he would see the massive Autobot doing.
Optimus Prime stood tall and strong, one fist clenched by his side. His optics were narrow, and he radiated an inner strength that Prowl had thought all but lost.
"The Decepticons must be stopped, no matter the cost," Prime said.
Prowl stared. Could this be the return of his old commander? Could the threat of the Decepticons have restored him to his previous functionality?
"And now, back to ‘The Young and the Discontent.’" The television blurted.
"Ooh!" Prime cried, and sat back down.
Prowl shook his head sadly.
"Why in God’s name do you let him watch TV, anyway?" Preston asked.
"Because it is through your television that Optimus Prime will learn a great deal about this world and your people. Such knowledge will be very useful to us."
"Then why don’t you have him watch the Discovery Channel or something, instead?"
Cullen butted in. "The Discovery Channel is on cable, General. They don’t get cable here."
Preston nodded, and Prowl once again heard Prime’s chair scrape back. He closed his optics, expecting the worst.
"Prowl," Prime asked, "Can we get cable television? I would like very much to watch it."
Prowl stared at Preston, hoping his expression clearly stated You had to mention it, didn’t you?
Prowl nodded. "I’ll see what we can manage, Optimus."
Optimus hugged him again. "Thank you, Prowl!"
After Prime sat back down again, Prowl sighed. "We’ll do the best that we can in finding the Decepticons and getting them off your world, I assure you. You’ve given us the first solid lead we’ve had yet--we’ll get on it right away."
"You’d better," Preston snarled, and turned to walk out. Cullen shrugged at Prowl, looking apologetic, and left as well.
"This is the location," Soundwave said.
They were somewhere over the South China Sea when Soundwave finally spoke up. He had been judgmentally silent since they’d destroyed those fighters, and Starscream was happy to finally hear his voice again. Not that he claimed any special kinship with the Decepticon; rather, it meant they were finally over the sunken Nemesis.
"Dive!" Starscream cried, and he and his Seekers dove straight into the water, their energon-fuel engines propelling them even without air. They continued to the very depths of the ocean, where they saw before them, outlined in its four-million-year-old, battered glory, the Nemesis. The ancient ship which carried them to this Primus-forsaken world.
They transformed and found their way inside through one of the many emergency hatches which dotted its surface. The command center and much of its hull had been torn open by ancient explosions--odd, Starscream didn’t remember the bridge being hit by the Ark--and much of it was filled with water. It would take a lot of work to make it worthy of being the Decepticon headquarters on Earth--making it spaceworthy was out of the question, it was so badly damaged.
The Decepticons finally found a spot near the center of the ship that wasn’t flooded, near the repair bays. Inside the repair bays were Thrust, Dirge and Ramjet, each with a massive hole in his chest. Soundwave immediately walked over to try and repair them.
"It feels good to be out of that wet," Thundercracker murmured.
"Yeah, I know what you mean," Skywarp replied. "If Transformers were meant to be in water, Primus would’ve put water on Cybertron."
"Soundwave!" Starscream called, "eject your cassettes! We’re going to need help repairing this disaster area!"
Soundwave turned and ejected Ravage, Rumble, Laserbeak and Buzzsaw, then returned to repairing Dirge.
"And Frenzy, Soundwave."
"Frenzy is not present. He is on another mission."
"Without my permission, Soundwave?"
"Take that issue up with him, not me--I did not ask him to leave."
Starscream frowned and shook his head. They worked on repairing the hull of the Nemesis for several hours, long enough to patch several of the damaged sections and nearly tripling their dry living space. When they returned to the repair bay, Soundwave had finished repairing the three damaged seekers and reformatted their transformational capabilities so they would fit in with the flying vessels of this Earth.
"Dirge, report!" Starscream snapped. "You were left to control the Nemesis while the rest of us boarded the Ark--so why do we find it now, shattered and worthless, at the bottom of an ocean?"
Dirge appeared confused. "Ocean--?"
"Answer the question! What happened after we left to attack the Ark?"
"Well, as you were all leaving, Shockwave just held back--I asked him if he was going with you, and he shot me!"
Starscream’s eyes narrowed. "Shockwave."
"Wh--what is this place?" Blaster asked quietly.
"I do not know. But a cursory evaluation indicates that we possess a severe tactical deficiency," Perceptor responded.
"You do indeed." From all corners of the enormous Decepticon city, Decepticons appeared, their weapons trained on the small band of Autobots that found their way across the Space Bridge and into the heart of the enemy camp. "Perceptor, is it not? It’s my lucky day indeed."
Out of the shadows at the base of the ramp they were standing on, a ramp that was designed to connect perfectly with the other side of the active Space Bridge, came an almost-familiar figure.
He was larger now, with a deeper purple hue. The squatness of his old form was replaced by a taller, leaner frame with large shoulders and a thin waist. The cannon of his right arm appeared even more menacing now, the black hole of its barrel matching the glowing yellow eye in the center of his head.
"Shockwave!" Perceptor cried. "You died four million years ago, along with Megatron and the rest of your madmen!"
Shockwave laughed. "I am not dead, as you can so plainly see. Rather, both the Nemesis and the Ark crashed on this planet, having shot each other to pieces, four million years ago. I, on the other hand, remained away from the battle on the Ark long enough to make my escape in a personal shuttle from the stores aboard the Nemesis. After the Ark crashed, I traveled to the surface of this miserable world, hoping to find the Matrix of Leadership in Optimus Prime’s rusting wreckage.
"But the Ark wasn’t defenseless. It repaired General Grimlock and his elite forces, and they came for me. We battled each other, and they were trapped in a pit of bubbling tar while I myself was trapped under an avalanche. And so I lay there, in status lock, for four million years.
"Then, fifty years ago, I was awakened by a group of small, pathetic flesh creatures calling itself the Nazis. I was conscious, but unable to control my body--my neural cortex was damaged, and when the Nazis repaired me, they repaired only my mobility centers." Here, Shockwave’s voice grew low and angry. "They used me, and I paid the ultimate price. They sent me to attack their enemies, and I was bombed out of existence. My body was destroyed, and only the fact that my neural cortex was separated from everything else saved me.
"It has taken me fifty years, but I have regained all my former power and more! I was rediscovered by another group of these same fleshlings, calling themselves Soviets, and they brought me back online. Fully online, this time. They used me as a kind of ultimate computer. . .and so I manipulated them, maneuvering them so that their empire would fall and I would be left to pick up the pieces. In the meanwhile, I had their greatest scientists design for me a new, more powerful body, one more powerful than that of Megatron himself!
"Now, nothing can stand in my way. I control the Decepticons here, in the city of Trypticon, in the wastes of Siberia. In the fields all around are the remains of the Soviet nuclear armament. I have weaponry that Transformers have not dared use since ousting the Quintessons from our homeworld! And I will use it to get exactly what I want.
"I want the Matrix of Leadership, the Creation Matrix."
"I’m here, Prowl. Here’s the scoop on these ‘X-Men’ you had me tail. Apparently, they’ve found out something big, namely about us. Energon seems to have an effect on human physiology--I don’t know what it is, but they do. Broke into one of their own governments’ labs to find out what it is. They may have some information on where we can find the Matrix, if they know about us."
Prowl nodded. "Good point, I--"
Prowl heard a large transformation sound behind him and turned around. Optimus Prime had risen from his chair and transformed into truck mode, and was already headed out of the Ark. "Prime, what are you doing?"
"I have to find my spark! Don’t worry, I’ll be right back--New York’s just down the street!" With that, he was gone.
Ironhide and Bumblebee came running. "What happened?
Prowl sighed. "He’s decided to go to New York, to see if the X-Men know where his spark is. Follow him, will you? Make sure he doesn’t get into trouble--he seems to think New York City is just a few miles away."
Ironhide snorted, and he and Bumblebee transformed on the run, following Optimus Prime out of the Ark and into the wide world beyond.
Prowl leaned against Teletran-1. "Jazz, this is Prowl again. Optimus Prime has decided to join you when you meet the X-Men. Do nothing until he, Ironhide and Bumblebee rendezvous with you. Understood?"
"Roger dodger, over and out."
As soon as Jazz signed out, Wheeljack ran into the room. "Hey, Prowl! I think I’ve found Grimlock and his friends!"
Prowl rolled his optics. "Wonderful. Get them, and quickly." Hopefully I can put him in command!
A Note to readers: Due to time constraints, this issue of "A World Transformed" will be the last penned by Maximus Prime. "A World Transformed" will continue, though, under the helm of a different author.