Released June 18th 2008.
Synopsis: Former Ark 1 crew member Cyclonus leaves the Dead Universe with a specific
mission, to activate both the Nega Core on Corata-Vaz and the Guardian who will protect it until it is ready to begin the Expansion. But morbid curiosity leads him back to Cybertron first, where he is shocked at what those who came after him had done to the planet. He worries about using the very forces that cause such damage, and looks to find someone responsible to lash out at.
Onboard Ark-12, Hound's crew rush to the Garrus 9 prison, with a disgruntled Sideswipe upset at their changed orders taking them away from Earth and the missing Sunstreaker. Suddenly they come under attack from Cyclonus, who has decided that they'll do as objects of his wrath.
On Garrus 9, Optimus Prime is briefed about the breakout, and also about a Decepticon who had survived his ship crashing, but mysteriously died after being tortured and then beheaded. Prime and Prowl return to Ark-32, where a worried Nightbeat has finally played back the message he recorded on Gorlam Prime (see Spotlight: Nightbeat). Not remembering having been there, he calls Hardhead and asks for his special kind of help. Elsewhere, Arcee has caught up with one of Banzaitron's freelance agents and begins torturing him for information concerning where the Monstructor Six had been taken.
Ultra Magnus receives the distress call from Ark-12 whilst on route to Garrus 9 himself. Diverting course, the battle is soon joined and Cyclonus realises he is endangering his entire mission. Breaking off, he resumes course to Corata-Vaz without realising his former combatants are following.
Upon the planets surface, Cyclonus activates the Nega Core, but after seeing Cybertron he is reluctant to unleash the mysterious guardian, thus does not carry his second task. Deciding that his superiors will never know anyway, as the cave is unlikely to be disturbed, he makes to leave only to be confronted by Ultra Magnus and the others. Finally giving into his inner rage he fights, and when all seems lost he activates the Guardian anyway. As the inhabitants of the Dead universe can no longer survive in normal space for prolonged periods of time he flees, without noticing a tracker put upon him by Ultra Magnus. The Autobots are too distracted to pay much head though, as they face the guardian of the cave; the reanimated corpse of Thunderwing.
An observing Optimus Prime orders the Autobots on the planet keep a safe distance from the cave, ordering Prowl to summon the Wreckers. Whilst at the Benzuli Expanse, Nemesis Prime and his Lieutenants prepare to begin the transition...
Characters Featured [in rough order of appearance]: Cyclonus, Hound, Warpath, Skram, Road Rocket, Sideswipe, Ultra Magnus, Optimus Prime, Fortress Maximus, Nightbeat, Hardhead, Arcee, Straxus, Galvatron, Nemesis Prime, Jhiaxus, Grindcore. The Monstructor 6 mugshots’ also appear on Ultra Magnus' screen.
Reviews & Commentary: Reviewed by inflatable dalek
Released July 16th 2008.
Synopsis: Before departing for Gorlam Prime [following shock developments last issue], Nightbeat makes Hardhead assure him that if he shows any indication of being controlled the stoic Autobot will eliminate him, something Hardhead agrees to without hesitation.
Arriving on the planet they find the inhabitants frozen in the process of some metamorphosis. The two wonder if the change is turning the locals into something like Transformers, but the thought process is interrupted as they run into dozens of the tiny robots that Nightbeat can't remember causing him trouble during his last visit. The robots attack Hardhead but steer clear of the detective, making him worry more that the villain of the piece has something very bad planned for him.
At Corata-Vaz the Wreckers' attack on Thunderwing proves futile. Observing on monitors from Garrus-9, Optimus Prime is delivered some good news at last -- Omega Supreme has identified Cyclonus and Galvatron as crew members of the first Ark. Prime decides the Benzuli Expanse, that ship's destination, is the first place to start looking.
Within the Dead Universe, Nemesis Prime visits the wreck of the ship that brought them there and muses to Jhiaxsus on their forthcoming escape and the darkness they will bring with them. The hunchbacked scientist then brings his leader up to date: all three Nega-Cores and their guardians are active, with only two problems on the horizon. The first, the Wreckers fighting Thunderwing, doesn't concern Nemesis, but the fact Nightbeat has tracked his missing memories back to Gorlam Prime worries him greatly.
On Gorlam Prime the Autobots have fought their way to the dig Nightbeat sent the automated message from, so from here-on in he has no idea what is to come. They make it underground, but Nightbeat's programming becomes activated and another voice speaks through him. The small Transformers are designed to survive the merging of the two Universes; they're the future, and Hardhead is obsolete.
Arcee has tracked Banzaitron's crew back to their secret base in the Orcibe Cluster, only to find that some greater force has already broken the Monstructor 6 out of their custody. A battered Banzaitron offers to join forces with her, as tracking down Jhiaxus will get them both what they want.
Underneath the dig the possessed Nightbeat shoots Hardhead at point blank range between the eyes, only to discover that he bears that name for a reason. They fight and are soon knocked down to the pool leading into the Dead Universe. Surrounded by the miniature Transformers, Hardhead is out-gunned and Nightbeat offers him a painless death if he doesn't resist. Hardhead responds by shooting Nightbeat through the head, before charging the other Transformers head on as he faces his destiny.
As Nightbeat dies, Jhiaxus, who was controlling him, reels with pain. A disgruntled Nemesis Prime declares that without Nightbeat to do the task for them he will have to face and kill Optimus Prime himself. He starts to reveal a glowing energy source within his chest...
At the Benzuli Expanse a team led by Cloudburst have arrived and found the entire area has vanished, and any probes sent in disappear as well. Jetfire persuades Optimus Prime to let those Autobots undergo a difficult and dangerous procedure that might allow them to survive in the growing emptiness. Prime is then contacted by Dealer, who claims to know the solution to the problems at hand: the Magnificence.
Characters Featured [in rough order of appearance]: Hardhead, Nightbeat [Shot through the head], Broadside, Springer, Whirl, Thunderwing, Road Rocket, Sideswipe, Topspin, Twin Twist, Roadbuster, Optimus Prime, Prowl, Lightspeed, Scattershot, Afterburner, Jetfire, Galvatron [On Screen], Cyclonus [On screen and flashback], Jhiaxus, Nemesis Prime, Ultra Magnus [Flashback], Hound [Flashback], Arcee, Gutchruncher [Seemingly killed in Monstructor 6 Escape], Banzaitron, Axer [Seemingly killed in Monstructor 6 escape], Treadshot [Seemingly killed in Monstructor 6 escape], Cloudburst, Landmine, Groundbreaker, Waverider, Dealer. Plus the following mini Transformers: Highjump, Neutro, Groundpounder, Crumble, Takedown, Detour, Blackjack, Hyperdrive, Road Hugger, Tailspin, Free Wheeler, Roadhandler, Swindler, Roller Force, Barricade, Ground Hog, Motorhead, Big Daddy, Greaser, Hubs, Mudslinger, Powertrain, Tote, Bombshock, Tracer, Dropshot, Growl, Big Shot, Sidetrack, Flak, Nightflight, Storm Cloud, Whisper, Tailwind, Sky High, Eagle Eye, Tread Bolt, Blaze Master.
[Special thanks and cake to the Guru's Guru, the lad himself, Halfshell for Micromaster identification help.]
Reviews & Commentary: Reviewed by inflatable dalek
Released August 20th 2008.
Synopsis: Arriving on Earth, Dealer convinces Hot Rod to take him to the Magnificence so they can use to get answers to the current predicament facing the Autobots. Across the Planet in China, Straxus and Grindcore have arrived and begin mining the Energon planted by Shockwave in order to fuel the Expansion.
Galvatron and Cyclonus emerge from the Benzuli Expanse, and whilst the former flies off to parts unknown, Cyclonus stays to fight Cloudburst's science ship
On Garrus 9, Nemesis Prime has arrived. Blasting his way in past the guards, Optimus orders a pull back whilst he goes to face his predecessor personally.
Hot Rod takes Dealer to the Magnificence's hiding place, Ki-Aleta, the very planet their doomed team first retrieved it. Hot Rod begins asking some difficult questions about that mission, but Dealer continues to avoid them by placing a guilt trip on the Autobot.
The Technobots rush to the Benzuli Expanse with their organic shell cargo, but look likely to be too late to reach Clouburst's ship before Cyclonus destroys it. However, the conversation about the pitfalls of Pretender technology reminds Jetfire that Bludgeon once used an Axis Cradle Override to control Thunderwing's body.
Back on Garrus 9, Optimus and Nemesis meet at last. The latter reveals not only his name change, but the fact that within the Dead Universe he found an evil ancient power source stronger than the Matrix. He uses this "Darkness" to blast Optimus and moves in for the kill.
On Ki-Aleta, Hot Rod finally leads Dealer to the Magnificence, whilst continuing to probe about the failed mission. When he reaches the orb, Hot Rod has one simple question, "Did Dealer betray us?”. With an affirmative answer, he shoots and kills the double agent.
After consulting the orb in detail on the Dead Universe crisis, he then contacts Ultra Magnus with the information. They learn that there are three Nega Cores each with its’ own guardian (Thunderwing, Monstructor and Sixshot), that Straxus and company are mining energon on Earth and a Space Bridge link up (fueled by that energon) to connect everything via Gorlam Prime. On that planet, Jhiaxus becomes aware of Jetfire's efforts to interrupt his control of Thunderwing, and so activates his back up Guardian - Bludgeon.
Characters Featured [in rough order of appearance]: Nemesis Prime [Flashback and present], Springer [Flashback and present], Roadbuster [Flashback and present], Twin Twist [Flashback and present], Topspin [Flashback and present], Thunderwing [Flashback and present], Jhiaxus [Flashback and present], Cyclonus [Flashback and present], Galvatron [Flashback and present], Reaper [Flashback], Dealer [Killed], Hot Rod, Machination Headmaster [Destroyed], Grindcore, Jhiaxus, Cloudburst, Landmine, Waverider, Groundbreaker, Fortress Maximus, Optimus Prime, Drench [Killed], Manta Ray [Killed], Cosmos, Searchlight, Fastlane, Cloudraker, Catilla, Skyfall, Hoist, Stepper, Download [Flashback], Gizmo [Flashback], Backbeat [Flashback], Nosecone, Afterburner, Strafe, Lightspeed, Scattershot, Jetfire, Bludgeon [Flashback and present], Ultra Magnus, Monstructor, Sixshot.
[We have two unknown characters facing off against Nemesis Prime, as highlighted in this thread: http://tfarchive.com/community/showthread.php?t=45190. If you know who they are, get in touch.]
Reviews & Commentary: Reviewed by inflatable dalek
Released September 8th 2008.
Solar Synopsis: With the information from the Magnificence Hound's team and Ultra Magnus have come to China to confront Grindcore and Straxus. Sideswipe- who it turns out doesn't actually like Sunstreaker and just wants to show him who's best- is especially reckless in fighting.
By the Benzuli Expanse the Technobots arrive just in time to teleport Cloudburst and company of their exploding ship. The four Autobots are quickly introduced to their newly formed Pretender shells and take the fight out to Cyclonus.
On Garrus 9 Jetfire is able to override Jhiaxus' control of Thunderwing and allow the Wreakers into the cave. Realising the Nega Core cannot be disabled Jetfire devises a plan to move it, but is interrupted by the arrival of the Jhiaxus controlled Bludgeon. Once he's distracted Thunderwing resumes his attack.
In the prison sub level Nemesis Prime finds he cannot use his death grip on Optimus. The Darkness is in some way similar to the Matrix and wants to follow the proper line of succession from Prime to Prime. A annoyed Nemesis uses his Palpatine lightning to zap Optimus whilst a shadowy figure watches.
On Earth a defiant Sideswipe insists on holding off Gridncore and Straxus single-handedly, even though he fully expects to die in the attempt. This allows the others to take control of the Space Bridge network. They use the network to effectively bypass Sixshot and Monstructor and get straight to the Nega Core's they're guarding. Skram also takes on a special mission, going to Rotan where the Banzaitron/Arcee team have caught up with Monstructor and are fighting him.
The difficulty of controling three guardians and Bludgeon whilst overseeing everything else has become to much for Jhiaxus, who can't manage to deliver the killing blow to Jetfire. His problems are added to when Arcee, summoned by Skram, arrives on Gorlam Prime through the Space Bridge and starts hacking him up with her sword.
Back on Garrrus 9 Nemesis Prime is killed by a shot in the back from the watching Galvatron. The Darkness now free moves to Optimus who finds himself beginning to be consumed by the evil. Galvatron gives him a choice, commit suicide by throwing himself in a nearby Solar Pool or pass the Darkness to himself. It has spoken to him and he believes it can answer his questions about his mysterious origin and past. Optimus seemingly agrees and Galvatron does get the answers he seeks, but just as he's about to reveal who/what he really is Optimus simply chucks him in the pool himself.
By this stage the three Nega Cores have been freed and sent through the Space Bridge to the Pretenders. Then using their shells as protection they take the Cores into the Dead Universe where they explode harmlessly.
A distraught and slightly more limbless Jhiaxus uses Arcee's brief diversion into the pleasure of killing Micromasters to try and escape through the Dead Universe in order to plot and plan another day, but is stopped by Hardhead who has now become undead as well.
On Earth Sideswipe is surprised to find he's won his fight and killed Straxus and Grindcore. Realising he's not actually that bothered about finding Sunstreaker after all he leaves for parts unknown. Back in the cave on Gorlam Prime Hardhead reveals neither he or Jhiaxus can die as long as they're in the space between Universes, which pleases Arcee as she can now kill her creator over and over.
Sometime later, Jetfire recounts that once Gorlam Prime emerged from its frozen state the inhabitants had become to all intents and purposes Transformers. No longer with any memory of their past lives they even rechristen their now mechanical homeworld Cybertron. Whilst Jetfire now considers the Dead Universe saga over, unknowns to him within the Solar Pool a hand emerges...
Pool of Characters [That's enough Solar Pool gags —Ed]: Sideswipe, Grindcore [Killed by Sideswipe], Warpath, Skram, Road Rocket, Straxus [Killed by Sideswipe], Hound, Fortress Maximus, Ultra Magnus, Sixshot, Jetfire, Jhiaxus, Cyclonus [Killed by Pretenders], Cloudburst, Landmine, Groundbreaker, Waverider, Scattershot, Nosecone, Afterburner, Lightspeed, Strafe, Broadside, Springer, Roadbuster, Twin Twist, Top Spin, Thunderwing, Bludgeon, Nemesis Prime [Killed by Galvatron], Optimus Prime, Galvatron [Killed- OR IS HE?!?!], Monstructor, Banzaitron, Vortex, Brawel, Blast Off, Onslaught, Gutcruncher, Axer, Arcee, Whirl, Sandstorm, Hot Rod [Monitor only], Cloudraker, Lightspeed, Hardhead [Undead]. Arcee kills a few Micromasters as well, but its hard to tell who they are when in little bits.
Reviews & Commentary: Reviewed by inflatable dalek