The Transformers: powerful warrior robots waging a never-ending 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. . .
Issue #9: The Phalanx Ascension part 2 "S.O.S."
By: Wes A.
Autobase, underground Cybertron
The chamber of the Autobot Elders was abuzz with talk. It was not only the 12 Elders who were there, but also Fortress Maximus, Ultra Magnus, and Elita-1. Everyone in the room was talking with one another, with the head Elder Emirate Xaaron trying to bring order. Off in the corner of the room, Ultra Magnus merely sat in a chair, watching all of the Autobot leaders settle themselves down.
"Everyone, please be silent," said Xaaron, "We’ll review the message again."
Xaaron turned toward a large screen behind the large table where the 12 Elders were seated. With the push of a button, the screen came to life. A simulated picture of Blaster’s face came upon the screen. It was an encoded message from the Autobot that was received a few short hours ago.
"This is Autobot Comm officer Blaster. Code Red! Repeat: Code Red! We have reached our destination via the Space Bridge and are on a planet called Earth. The Decepticons have built a city on this planet, with the presumed dead Decepticon Shockwave in command. A techno-virus known as the Phalanx has assimilated the city and all the Decepticons inside it. If this virus reaches Cybertron, it can potentially take over the entire planet. We need back-up ASAP! Repeat, we need back-up ASAP!"
The image faded away. There was a grim silence in the room. Xaaron turned off the screen.
"He’s right," said Elita-1 grimly, "If a techno-virus gets to Cybertron, it could be disastrous. The Decepticons are in low-supply of Cybertronium, they’d be the perfect targets."
"We’re not going to let that happen," stated Xaaron.
"What exactly do you have in mind?" asked Fortress Maximus.
"We’re going to gain access to the Space Bridge and send a strike team to the Earth. The team will be armed with anti-tech virus weaponry and help retake the city."
"I take it we aren’t to be asking the ‘Cons for help on this?" piped up Ultra Magnus.
Xaaron shook his head. "There’s no time. Plus, I doubt the Decepticons even know that their outpost has been overrun. The minute they open the Space Bridge, the virus would have a chance to get through. We can’t risk it."
"Ah," said Ultra Magnus, "And who will be leading the team across the Space Bridge, if you don’t mind me asking."
Ultra Magnus stared at Xaaron for a moment, neither saying a word. "Well, sounds good to me."
"You’ve got to be kidding me, we just did this routine!!"
Magnus closed his optics for a moment, letting his troops get their anger out of their systems. The Wreckers were Ultra Magnus’s personal troops, the best in the Autobot army. The team consisted of Ultra Magnus, his second in command Impactor, Springer, the Jumpstarters Topspin and Twin Twist, Rack and Ruin, and Whirl and Roadbuster. Just a few weeks ago, the Wreckers had attacked the Decepticon capital of Polyhex to allow Blaster’s group access to the Space Bridge* (* see A World Transformed #3 for details). Now they were being asked to do so again.
"I’m serious Magnus, it’s just suicide to try this again," said the Triple-Changer named Springer.
"He knows that Springer," said Impactor.
"Yeah Springer, just relax," said Rack while polishing a plasma rifle, "We kicked Decepticon skid plate before, we can do it again. What’re you so worried about?"
"I’m worried about getting blown to a dozen pieces by a squad of Vehicons, that’s what," said Springer.
Rack just gave Springer a dirty look and muttered, "Aw you’re never any fun."
Magnus raised his hand, indicating for the Wreckers to be silent. "Springer, I know how you feel, but you have to remember that we’re the most qualified unit for the job. The Aerialbots are still off-planet raiding the Decepticon’s energon facility on Talos 7, so the mission automatically falls into our hands. It’s as simple as that. You‘re free to decline the mission, if you wish."
Springer let out a frustrated sigh. "I’ll take the mission Magnus, you know that."
Magnus smiled at his fellow Wrecker, "I know, I just wanted to lay the guilt trip on you anyway. Now everybody get yourselves ready. We head out in half an hour."
Magnus walked down the halls of the hidden Autobase. The base was several miles beneath the surface of Cybertron, deep in the lost levels of the planet. Billions of years ago, the older Transformer races inhabited these levels. Over time though, other layers were built over it. It was almost as if the past had just disappeared.
Magnus looked at the faces of the other Autobot’s he passed in the hall. Their faces had different looks on them. They were looks of hope and determination. Ever since the Ark went missing, the moral of the army had slowly declined. But following the announcement of the Ark’s founding and the defeat of Straxus, the Autobot’s had renewed vigor for battle and determination to retake their home.
"It’s funny, no matter how many times I put my skidplate on the line for Xaaron and his pals, they keep asking me to do it. And you wanna know the funny part? I keep saying yes. Some people never learn I suppose."
Magnus came to a halt. He turned around to see the battle-scarred form of an older gray and blue Autobot standing before him. The older Transformer gave Magnus a smile.
"Hey Magnus, long time no see."
The two Autobot’s enthusiastically gave each other a slap on the shoulder and shook hands. Both had wide smiles on their faces.
"Hey old timer, how’ve you been?" asked Magnus.
"Who you callin’ ‘old timer’? I’ve told you before, I’m ‘well aged’."
"I thought you and your squadron was still on the other side of Cybertron raiding the ‘Cons space ports. When did your team get back to Cybertron?"
"Just yesterday. Been busy at the med center. I tell ya, those upgraded Vehicons put up a hell of a fight."
"Tell me about it. So the Elders have you on a job already?"
"Yeah. Actually, we’ve been assigned to go through the Space Bridge to Earth."
Magnus’s optics raised a bit. "Really? Well, at least they got the right team for the mission."
"Yer telling’ me. You on your way to the armory?" Magnus nodded. Kup tilted his head toward the direction down the hall where the Autobot armory was located. "Come on, I’m going there myself. I hear that they have some special weaponry lined up for this mission."
Earth, Australian Outback
"Are you sure these are the right coordinates, Starscream?"
"Don’t worry, just land when I give the order."
High in the sky, Starscream and Skywarp were in their jet modes flying over the desert stretch of the Australian Outback. The Casseticon Ravage sat in Skywarp’s cockpit. For several hours the jets had been flying. They had just left the Phalanx-assimilate Nemesis and Starscream and insisted that they travel to this location. Skywarp didn’t know what was so important about it, but as long as it meant staying away from the Phalanx, he was fine with it.
The two jets finally landed near a large rock formation. Ravage hopped out of Skywarp before the two jets transformed into their gigantic robot forms.
"Who goes there?"
The trio turned around to see the Constructicon’s Mixmaster and Hook each standing with a plasma rifle pointed at them. When he saw his fellow Decepticons, Hook lowered his gun.
"Starscream, what are you doing here?" asked Hook.
"I’m afraid your mission has been cut a bit short, Hook. The Nemesis has been taken over by a techno-virus, along with Megatron and all the other Decepticons," informed Starscream.
"A techno-virus? On this little planet?! That’s hard to imagine," snorted Mixmaster, "These fleshlings are still dependent on fossil fuels, there’s no way they could create a techno-virus."
"[I doubt the virus was manufactured on Earth. This virus was highly advanced, like nothing I have ever seen,]" growled Ravage, whose speech was translated with the others built-in translators.
"Despite its origins," continued Starscream, "We believe we know of some...allies. But in order to combat the techno-virus, we need Cybertronium."
"That will be no problem," said Hook confidently, "follow us."
The two Contructicons led their Decepticon companions to the rock formation and down a tunnel. After traveling several meters, they came to a lit area. When they got there, Skywarp could see a cobbled together power generator providing light. Also in the area were the other Contructicons: Bonecrusher, Long Haul, Scrapper, and Scavenger. Bonecrusher, the Contructicon leader, nodded his head in a form of salute to Starscream. The Seeker commander did likewise.
"Starscream, what brings you here?"
After a moment, the rest of the Contructicons were filled in on the story of the Nemesis.
"Well, you don’t have to worry," said Bonecrusher walking over to a large bin in the corner of the room, "because we are in full supply of Cybertronium."
Bonecrusher opened the bin and Skywarp saw several dozen canisters of Cybertronium, each bearing a Decepticon insignia.
"Where did you get them all?" asked the obsidian colored Seeker.
"Megatron knew that some of the Cybertronium in the Nemesis had fallen out in the crash-landing on this planet. So before he left, he instructed us to travel this planet to collect as much as possible. As luck would have it, most of the Cybertronium landed near this continent the fleshlings call Australia," finished Bonecrusher.
Starscream picked up one of the canisters and a sly grin crossed his face. "Excellent. Prepare your troops Bonecrusher, we make our move soon."
Black Hills, North Dakota
Despite all his time with humans, he knew that there were still concepts that he did not understand. He knew love. He was positive that he did. For years, he had loved and been loved in return by Wanda. Love, kindness, compassion, he knew them. But now he began to know darker concepts. Hate, fury, and fear.
He sat on the tops of one of the edges, gazing out at the beautiful scenery before him. He had once heard Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, talk about this area once before. Dane said that it was beautiful land. Although he couldn’t enjoy it as much as Dane, the Vision could still admire it, in his own way.
It had been over a month since the change had taken him* (*See Neoknights #6). The experience was very odd, unlike anything he had ever experienced before. Some sort of...virus had infected him. He had changed, transformed into something else. Even now, he could only remember brief bits of what happened, but he knew that he did not like the transformation. Since that day, he has spent a great deal of time trying to find out what happened. He had Hank Pym, better known as Giant-Man and Ant-Man, run a sweep of all his systems, but there were no excess programs found. Recently he has taken a leave of absence from the Avengers to figure out what this new part of him was and why it had taken form within him.
"Excuse me, are you the Vision?"
The yellow and green synthezoid turned around to see a family of six standing several feet away from him, big smiles on their faces. What was so strange was that he hadn’t detected the family’s approach, his advanced audio systems should have at least picked up their footsteps. A small boy, no older than 10, held out a notepad.
"Can I have your autograph Mr. Vision, please?"
Vision conducted a scan of the family and quickly found that they were not human. Their outer appearances looked human, but they were actually technologically made. After a quick scan of his databanks, he concluded that the technology was unlike any he had ever seen.
"I think that you want more than an autograph," said the Vision, "And you no longer need to continue your illusion. I know that you aren’t human."
The family’s appearance dissolved into that of yellow and black Phalanx drones. Three of the drones charged. Vision’s body became immaterial, causing them to simply pass right through him. He re-materialized himself and opened fire with his eyebeam lasers at full power. Two of the drones were disintegrated.
"You cannot defeat us Vision. You will be added to our consciousness," said another drone as it charged him with an elongated claw hand.
Vision hit the drone with a punch, knocking its head off. As the severed Phalanx head merely rolled onto the ground, the other three drones charged. Vision hit another one with his eyebeams, disintegrating it. Another ran at him, its hand morphed into a spiked club. The club hit Vision, but merely caused a scratch.
"That was unwise," Vision instructed the drone.
Within a moment, the drone joined its brothers as disintegrated particles. Finally, there was one drone left. Vision approached it calmly.
"You will tell me who you are and why you’ve attacked me."
"Negative," came a voice behind Vision.
It was the drone whose head was knocked off. It had reconstructed itself and rammed its hand into Vision, beginning the infection.
‘Warning...foreign virus infecting systems,’ said Vision’s internal computer.
As Vision looked down to see the abdomen shift into that of a Phalanx drone’s, he felt the change come over him again. His entire body erupted in flame, melting away the Phalanx infection. The two drones saw as Vision’s entire body turned into a metallic black covering, his cape likewise turning to blackness, and a chain running across his chest. The yellow diamond remained on his chest, but his head was no longer as it was. It was now a human skull, surrounded in flame, even after the flames all over the rest of his body were gone. The drones were silent as this new entity looked towards them. This was no longer the Vision; this was the Ghost Rider.
"You seek to destroy my host body, and thus interject on my mission. For that, you will feel the pain of hellfire."
With his right hand, the Ghost Rider shot out a stream of fireballs, hitting the drone that infected the Vision. With an inhuman shriek of pain, the drone was disintegrated. Grabbing the chain around his chest, Ghost Rider lassoed the other drone. Some of its body was likewise disintegrated, but for the most part remained intact. Ghost Rider leaned in toward the drones face.
"Now tell me: what are you and why did you attack the Vision?"
"We are Phalanx," said the drone in its monotone like voice, "The Vision is one of this planet’s most advanced technological beings. We sought to add it to our collective."
"Are there more of your ilk here on Earth?"
The drone nodded, "Affirmative."
Ghost Rider mentally tightened the chain around the drone‘s body, "Tell me where they are."
Mt. St. Hilary, United States
Trailbreaker, Cliffjumper, and Huffer lay on a hill that provided a good view of Mt. St. Hilary, yet provided enough cover. They looked down and saw the tail end of the Ark sticking out of the mountain, it’s yellow surface shimmering as if it had a life of its own.
Trailbreaker shook his head, "I don’t believe it."
"I told Prowl not to split everyone up, but NO, he had to do it. Now the Ark has been taken over and we‘re probably the only ones left," griped Cliffjumper.
"What’re we going to do?" asked Huffer with a concerned look.
"I have no idea," said Trailbreaker.
"We’re taking back the Ark, that’s what."
The three Autbot’s turned around to see the form of Mirage shimmer out of thin air. The Autobot spy had several canisters of Cybertronium in his arms.
"Mirage!" exclaimed Huffer, "What’s happened to the Ark?"
"It’s been taken over by a techno-organic life form calling itself the Phalanx. Every Autobot on the base has been assimilated. I barely made it out before they locked the base down. Just an hour ago, they finally got the human‘s military base too. I‘ve been waiting around to see if there were any late Autobot units showing up. Should have known it‘d be you three," finished Mirage with a grin.
"So I take it from your tone of voice you have a plan?" asked Cliffjumper.
"I’m working on it. But first, we’re going to need to call in some back-up."
Trailbreaker’s optics narrowed in confusion, "Who do you have in mind?"
"A group of the ‘superheroes’ I met. They’re called the Heroes for Hire."
To be continued...
Mirage and the remaining Autobots go seek the help of the Heroes for Hire in Heroes for Hire #10, the Phalanx Ascension continues in various MU:TF titles, and the Transformers battle with the Phalanx.