MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE: A HISTORY OF CYBERTRON An Advanced Cyber life Studies Post-graduate Qualifying Project New Avalon Institute of Science, Fall Term, 2413 Project Advisor: Grand Admiral Benjamin D. Hutchins, WDFN (Ret.) Associate Professor Emeritus, Robotic Engineering Project Group: Sylvie A. Daniels, Worlds Welfare Work Association Soundwave, First Decepticon Strike Reserve Rewind, 101st Autobot Armored Cavalry Editorial Assistance: Optimus Prime, Autobot Commander-in-Chief Megatron, Decepticon Commander Supreme(Ret.) First Printing, Eyrie Productions Press: 2413
THE GODS AT WAR The Great Codex, the Transformer race's main work of theolohistory, begins thusly:
At the dawn of time in this dimension, there existed in the next higher a race of beings which were powerful beyond our ability to measure -- being we might call 'gods'. There were a great many of them, and most went about their existences in their own ways, banding together in small groups and influencing various dimensions for their own amusement. As often happened in those days, a monumental enmity sprang up between two such beings, and they and their allies formed opposed sub-groups within their grouping, usually with armies of the dimension's lesser beings to campaign with. These two beings were the most powerful in their group, and came to be known by the names of Primus and Unicron: literally, the First One and the Last Survivor.
Primus was the Creator, the Bringer of Life. He always sought to build, to improve, to sow life where there was none. His general, Ultris, was a mighty warrior, strong and upstanding, militarily brilliant and totally loyal. Opposing them was Unicron, the Dark One, the Bringer of Chaos, the Twilight of Existence. He would not rest until all was destroyed and all was darkness and lifeless chaos. He, too, had a general, a mighty, cruel and merciless warlord named Quantar, the Master of the Atom and Dread Blade of Unicron. Like Ultris, Quantar was loyal beyond measure to his lord, and nearly unbeatable.
The battles fought between them and their supporters were unprecedented among the 'gods', and the dimension wherein they lived was devastated by the war. In the end, only five Great Beings remained: Primus and his general, Ultris; Unicron and his great warlord, Quantar; and He Whose Name Is Lost. Primus's heart sickened at the destruction, and his resolve to destroy Unicron wavered in its face. Ultris was worried with his lord's depression. Unicron and Quantar were exultant at their impending victory. He Whose Name Is Lost, disgusted by the carnage, disappeared and has never been seen again. When Unicron and Quantar came to do final battle with Primus and Ultris, Primus refused to fight, hoping that Unicron would accept the gesture and make peace. His hope was vain; instead the battle was fought without him. Quantar and Ultris met in battle after their armies destroyed each other, and Ultris was mortally wounded. Quantar allowed him to go back to Primus to die; Primus captured his essence and swore to put it to use in his avenging. Then, moved too late into action, Primus went to meet Unicron. A contemptuous Unicron sent his warlord to deal with Primus; without a pause, the enraged Primus destroyed Quantar. Unicron captured Quantar's essence just as Primus had captured Ultris's, and then the two great gods finally met for their last battle. The battle raged for a thousand years and wiped out all remaining life in the dimension, and in the end Unicron was victorious. As he prepared to strike the final blow and destroy his old enemy once and for all, Primus gathered his remaining energies and fell from their dimension to ours. Maddened, Unicron followed him, swearing a thousand vengeances, but lost track of him in the transition.
Thus, says the Codex, the two most powerful 'gods' in all creation came to be in this dimension, one mortally wounded, the other enraged beyond mortal understanding. There are many myths and legends about wars of gods, and almost all are dismissed by academics as falsehoods, tales created by beings in their primitive phases to explain the origins of the world. However, that is not the case with the Transformers' gods. They are accepted almost universally as being real, and this story related by the Codex as true. Partially, this is due to the plain and simple language of the Codex (like most Transformer documents, it is stored in a binary code format, not a true language, and so is not as subject to interpretation in translation), but mostly it is because the Transformers have _seen_ their gods, and have ample proof of their existence.
What is known, then, is this: a tremendously long time ago, so long that no accurate records exist, a being of incredible power and creative drive, bearing the name Primus, came to this dimension, weakened and mortally wounded. The best estimate for when this occurred is a rather vague 30 to 40 million Standard years ago. At any rate, the accepted explanation, again put forth by the Codex, is that Primus projected his energy-essence into a planetary body, taking that planet as his own 'body'. The planet would become known as Cybertron.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the universe at about the same time, Unicron arrived, projecting _his_ energy-essence across the dimensions into a planetary body in a similar fashion. Unicron was much stronger than Primus, and so could more completely refashion the planet he took, creating for himself a reconfigurable shape which could mimic his old, anthropomorphic form, or convert to a form much more efficient for transit through the vastness of space and converting available matter for use as fuel. Since he 'missed' Primus's arrival location by a very long way (the best estimate of Unicron's original arrival position, based on his approach vector to Cybertron in 2005 and his average observed speed on approach, has him appearing somewhere just beyond the Andromeda galaxy), Unicron had a very long trek ahead of him.
INCEPTION Primus knew that he could not face Unicron again; he was too weakened. With this in mind, the great creator bent his remaining creative energies toward a staggering task: the creation of a vast army of mechanoids, like the ones which he and Ultris had commanded in their own plane. One after another he made them from his own substance, fashioning them in variations of his own image (a motif that crops up again and again in Theo historical documents). Upon an unknown (but much speculated upon) one of them he bestowed the preserved essence of Ultris, his general, although the memories and core personality of Ultris were long gone.
When Primus had exhausted the last of his energies and created the last Cybertronian he could create, he made the Codex for them, and then bestowed upon them his last two gifts: two small sparks of his creative power, encoded in crystals and surrounded in near-indestructible metal casings. One of them he gave to the finest of the scientist-artisans of primeval Cybertron, a great thinker and philosopher named A3. The other he bestowed upon the leader of the dedicated military machines charged with the defense of Cybertron, a great leader and warrior named N5.
At this point Primus became dormant, lapsing into unconsciousness in a hope that Unicron would not be able to get a fix on his position and be delayed, giving his army more time to evolve into suitability for their task.
THE EARLY DAYS OF CYBERTRON Very little is known about this part of Cybertron's history. The Codex ends with the Inception, and any histories made during this time have been lost in the wars which have dominated Cybertronian history since then. Also, there are no surviving Transformers from this period; all who live today are subsequent generations produced by one of the several means of reproduction left to the original Cybertronians by their creator.
SIDEBAR: TRANSFORMER REPRODUCTION
Transformers are complex living beings, but they are still, in a basic sense, robots. Thus, all that is required to create a new Transformer is a suitable body and an intelligence for it. However, the problems lie in the complexity of these two components. The simplest one is clearly the body; many Transformers have enough knowledge of their own anatomy and physiology to construct a working body. The intelligence, however, is difficult and tricky, in that it must be a unique and viable cybernetic mind which generates a Spengler index of at least 0.85. This intelligence can be generated a number of ways:
1. Matrix Inception This method is the most famous one, and was long believed, erroneously, to be the only method of Transformer reproduction. Simply put, a body is prepared mechanically, and then it is imbued with unique intelligence and life directly from one of the Matrices of Primus. This is certainly the most spectacular of the methods, involving as it does a Matrix-generated light show.
2. Collaboratory Generation We carbon-based life forms are familiar with this method, more so than the others. A body is prepared, again, and then, two Transformers enter a temporary binary bond and create an intelligence which is derivative from, and unique from, their own. Transformers created in this way tend to exhibit traits of both their 'parents'. This process can also be used by a Transformer and that Transformer's binary-bonded carbon unit, in the modern Nebulan Master-pairings, if the participants' binary genders are different. This, by the way, is the reason behind Transformer gender, for so long believed inexplicable: the genders have different binary 'signatures' in a bonding situation, and only mixed-gender bonds can produce viable offspring. It should be noted that this is one of the several temporary and permanent binary bond applications which produce an analog to sexual gratification, and as such reproduction among Transformers _is_ often linked to romantic involvements. For more on this subject, refer to the definitive work on the subject, Arcee, Meadows, Tanner, Witwicky, et al., _Transformer Sexuality: The Riddle Solved_, NAIS Press, 2410.
3. External Creation and Fusion In this method, the intelligence is produced by some outside method, normally a powerful computerized cybernetic intelligence generator/driver such as STACIS 3.0. Vector Sigma, the Cybertronian supercomputer, is an example of this method.
THE COMING OF THE QUINTESSONS The next major event in Cybertron's history occurred at a similarly hard-to-pin-down time, best estimated at 25 to 30 thousand Standard years ago. At that time, Cybertron was invaded and conquered by the Quintessons, a five-faced, semi-cybernetic race of scientists and information merchants, and their allies from Mandalor, the makers of the finest weapons in the galaxy. The Quintessons were masters of misinformation; within a Standard millennium of their conquest they had convinced most of the people of Cybertron that _they_ had created the Cybertronian race, and that the Quintessons were, in fact, the native race of Cybertron. The Cybertronians were told that they were servitors, slaves built for the convenience and pleasure of the Quintessons, and most of them believed it.
It was the Quintessons who, seeking to control every aspect of Cybertronic life, outlawed collaborative reproduction and, in fact, rigorously segregated the genders. It was they who created Vector Sigma to give them absolute control over the creation of new Cybertronians. Both of the Matrices of Primus were hidden from them by the defiant robots, and the Quintessons subjected Cybertron to a ceaseless reign of terror searching for them, since they were both an uncontrolled source of new life and a constant threat of exposure to the Quintessons' lie.
The Matrix given to A3 was kept hidden by A3 himself, who, now a most venerable robot, had taken to calling himself the slightly fancier Alpha Trion, and who tirelessly sought to organize an underground resistance to the Quintessons' rule. The one given to N5 had been passed down through several generations of military commander until it rested, now, with Scorponok, a warrior of great wisdom and ability. Scorponok wisely decided to hide his Matrix, and did it so well that, until very recently, no one ever found out what became of it. Scorponok also successfully waged a campaign of disinformation about the Matrix he held, and by the time the Quintessons had established themselves firmly on Cybertron, they believed that there was only one -- and so did most of the people of Cybertron.
REVOLUTION Roughly three thousand years after the Quintessons came, their seemingly loyal military commander, Scorponok, turned against them. He and his officers had pretended to be loyal for millennia, while in reality they were building their strength in secret. Scorponok was shrewd enough to know when the Quintessons came that his army, unused to actual conflict, could not defeat them and their Mandalorian allies; the Mandalorian Death Watch was the most feared army in the universe at the time, and had never been defeated. Instead he waited, professed loyalty, and then, when his army was ready, they all revolted en masse. In honor of this deception, Scorponok named his army the Army of the Decepticons.
Scorponok's armies ravaged Quintesson positions all over Cybertron, and the war continued for months, until finally the Decepticons massed at the gates of Iacon, the Quintesson capital, and laid siege to the city and its Death Watch defenders. They had never met the Death Watch in battle -- only lesser Mandalorian troops -- and the outcome was very much in doubt.
GLADIATORS' REVOLT In the city of Iacon, the Quintessons had built a grand arena, and in it, they had ceaselessly enjoyed pitting Cybertronian warriors against all manner of foes. It was in this arena that a great many of the great warriors of the later Cybertronian Wars learned to fight, many of them as bewildered civilian conscripts who would be lucky enough to survive long enough to learn to win. Among the most famous of the products of the Iacon Arena were Sideswipe, Grimlock, and Starscream (who had been, respectively, before their conscriptions, a construction worker, a police officer -- the police force had always been separate from the army -- and a space explorer). The undisputed champions of the Arena, though, were a pair of Iaconian brothers, twins, one a police officer and the other a transit worker: Ultra Magnus and Orion Pax. So talented in the arena was Pax, in fact, that the Quintessons had contracted with the Mandalorians to build a suit of the Mandalorian Death Watch's characteristic power armor for him to be cyber-bonded with, the better to increase his combat class.
Before this could happen, news of the Decepticon Revolution came to the arena, and Orion Pax, a great orator, inspired his fellow conscripts to follow their example and revolt from within. The revolt began, and as the gladiators fought their way to the control rooms, Pax sent his brother Ultra Magnus to the weapons rooms to seize some better firepower for them. There, Magnus discovered the Death Watch armor meant for his twin brother, and, since they had the same configuration, he donned it. It immediately cyber-bonded with him, becoming a part of his own body, and to this day, Ultra Magnus is never seen without it.
THE FALL OF IACON Scorponok's forces, outside the gates, were beginning to tire by the time of the Gladiators' Revolt. They had made no headway against the Iaconian defenses, and while they had not yet met the Death Watch in combat, their fearsome reputation was beginning to unnerve the already tense and restless Decepticon force. Scorponok feared that all would be lost if something in the impasse did not change quickly.
That something changed _very_ quickly, as the rebel gladiators from the Iacon Arena seized control of Iacon Control and opened the gates for the Decepticons. Scorponok wasted no time in capitalizing on this advantage, sending his troops charging into the city, and in the streets of Iacon, the Decepticons and the Mandalorian Death Watch met for the first time in open combat. The carnage was unbelievable on both sides, and the Decepticons, for all their might, appeared to be losing until the Mandalorian left flank was suddenly hit hard by the rebel gladiator force. This sudden and unexpected attack from a force that should have been pinned down in City Control (they had used the city's ancient network of transit and maintenance tunnels, of which Orion Pax, being a transit official, had an encyclopedic knowledge) stunned the Mandalorians, who had never even been threatened by an opposing force before. Scorponok and Orion Pax pressed their advantage, and before the day was finished, the Quintessons and their Mandalorian allies were in open rout, fleeing Cybertron as fast as their ships could carry them.
PEACE For the next six thousand Standard years, Cybertron was peaceful and prosperous. The Decepticons remained ever vigilant against outside threats, while the populace went about their lives in relative happiness. The arts and sciences flourished. It was during this time that a civilian spiritualist developed the discipline of transformation, which was to transcend a spiritual discipline and become a racial characteristic by the end of the period. It was during this time that the Cybertronian race began to call themselves 'Transformers'.
Recognizing that they themselves might become a threat to peace at some point, the Decepticons commissioned from the weapons masters of Mandalor (who, being professional mercenaries, held no grudge from the rebellion rout) a force of guardian robots, huge and mighty machines to defend the cities, and put them under the control of the civilian militia. It was a popular maneuver which convinced the populace of Cybertron that they were destined for permanent peace. But, like all things, this golden age could not last.
CORRUPTION Approximately twenty thousand Standard years ago, a strange corruption spread through the Decepticon forces. Exactly what this was is unknown; some have said that it was Unicron, reaching across space with his will and touching Primus's children, dividing them against themselves. In any event, the Decepticons very abruptly became radically imperialistic, militant and cruel. Scorponok himself was one of the first to fall to this corruption, becoming a maniacal dictator, but not losing his sense of strategic planning _or_ his ability to take a battlefield situation that has gone outside his plans and command his troops to an improvised victory. These skills proved devastating when he turned them against the local militia.
However, the Guardians proved impossible to defeat except by massed attacks and seemingly endless sieges. Losses of Decepticon forces were so heavy in the destruction of a single Guardian that the Decepticons were forced to go to the Mandalorians _again_, this time for a weapon which could defeat the Guardians. The Mandalorians, who were not fools, had not built into the Guardians anywhere near their greatest potential power, however, and to defeat them, they simply rented to the Decepticons (who could by no means afford to purchase them) five Heavy War Droids, the most terrifying engines of destruction yet created.
The five War Droids had wiped out the Guardians by the end of the Standard year, and Cybertron belonged to the Decepticons.
SIDEBAR: THE LAST GUARDIAN
One of the Guardian robots did survive the Decepticon terror, and became one of the Autobots' staunchest defenders. His name is Omega Supreme, and he was the Guardian of Iacon itself. The story of his survival is one of the few truly touching moments of Cybertron's civil-war period. Before the Corruption came, Omega Supreme befriended a Decepticon unit which frequented the Iacon area, the Constructicons. The Constructicons, being away from headquarters, were untouched by the initial sweep of the Corruption, and were horrified when their forces began to destroy the Guardians. They went underground, trying to figure out what to do.
Hook and Scrapper, the team's design geniuses, came up with a plan involving radical reconfiguration of their bodies, a bizarre new take on the transformation process. They instituted design changes in all the Constructicons, working against the clock to be finished by the time the war reached Iacon.
They barely made it. When they emerged from their bolt hole, War Droid MG-5 was at the gates and doing battle with Omega Supreme, and Omega Supreme was losing badly. He was gravely wounded and could not survive much longer. The Constructicons, trusting in the genius of Hook and Scrapper, went into action, and put their bizarre plan into motion. They transformed to their construction-vehicle forms, and then transformed again, interlocking and uniting into one gigantic robot, the size of a Guardian and with the terrifying power of a force of nature and the combined intellect of all six Constructicons. This monstrous machine, calling himself Devastator, dispatched MG-5 without difficulty and saved Omega Supreme's life.
[Today, Scrapper claims that Devastator's name is actually an acronym, standing for Dynamic Excavation Vehicular Assault System for Threat Annihilation and Tactical Operation Response. The other Constructicons deny this; Bonecrusher goes so far as to say that Scrapper is 'blowing it out his recirculator'.]
Omega Supreme would go underground and reappear years later as an Autobot. The Constructicons, sadly, were caught up in the Corruption, but before it could happen, they modified themselves further, damaging the neuromimetic connections so that when Devastator was formed, he had the mind of an idiot. When they finally reported to Scorponok, they, with one final defiance of the Corruption, lied and told him they had destroyed MG-5 so that they could have Omega Supreme's kill for themselves, to prove Devastator's worth to the Decepticon cause.
THE AUTOBOTS Alpha Trion saw the Corruption coming. As one of Scorponok's closest civilian advisors, he watched his friend grow more and more erratic, until finally he went over the edge. Alpha Trion escaped before he could be destroyed or imprisoned by Scorponok's growing paranoia, and began attempting again to organize the resistance he had tried unsuccessfully to bring into play against the Quintessons. In doing so he contacted the leaders of the Gladiators' Revolt, but of them, only Ultra Magnus, Sideswipe, and Grimlock could be recruited. Starscream had become a Decepticon and been caught in the Corruption, and Orion Pax refused to fight again. The resistance force, calling itself the Autobot Resistance in reference to the fact that most of them were transportation and maintenance workers (as well as most of the police) initially, became a nuisance to the Decepticons, but nothing more.
THE HAMMER OF PRIMUS Scorponok thought, in his ever-growing paranoia, that the possession of the Ultimate Weapon in the universe was the only thing that could make him and his position safe. To this end, he enlisted the aid of the Constructicons, ordering them to create the most powerful weapon in known space, more powerful than anything ever seen -- powerful enough to subjugate the Mandalorians themselves. His empire building dreams had encompassed Mandalor of late, and he wished to remove his dependence on Mandalorian weapons by taking the planet and assimilating the technology for himself.
The Constructicons outdid themselves with the creation of the Hammer of Primus, which was, without doubt, the Ultimate Weapon. It was a massive anti-matter annihilator cannon, capable of destroying entire worlds at a single firing. Mounted on the most powerful space cruiser the Decepticons possessed, the Hammer of Primus promised quick conquest of any sector of space. Indications are that Scorponok succeeded in conquering Mandalor, but before he had the opportunity, unknown circumstances intervened, and the Mandalorian civilization inexplicably fell. Records from this period are chaotic at best, but all indications are that there was some external war which the Transformers survived (possibly thanks to the presence of the Hammer of Primus) and the Mandalorians did not.
However it unfolded, the weak Autobot Resistance became deeply frightened by the Hammer's power, and ceased for a time even their nuisance-level attacks and raids.
THE BETRAYAL OF SCORPONOK Scorponok's ambitious lieutenant, Megatron, saw an opportunity in the Hammer of Primus. He had already subverted the Constructicons, guaranteeing that they would be more loyal to him than to Scorponok, and now he had them sabotage the Hammer. Willing to make any sacrifice for personal power, Megatron caused the Hammer to 'misfire' upon its return to Cybertron and destroy Cybertron's star-sun. The planet was plunged into an eternal twilight, dependent on internal energy sources for light and warmth, and Megatron, blaming Scorponok, challenged his leader to a duel of honor.
Scorponok had no choice but to fight the duel. The Hammer had been under his command, and had been his project to begin with; any defect or error was his responsibility. His still-intact, if slightly warped, honor code would not permit him to pass the buck. He met Megatron in battle, and was defeated and killed. Some say he allowed Megatron to kill him, perhaps in hopes that Megatron would eventually rise above the Corruption that Scorponok had been, unknown to everyone, valiantly battling within himself for all of his lucid moments. At any rate, Scorponok was dead, and Megatron took control of the Decepticons and the Hammer of Primus, which he immediately ordered 'repaired'.
MEGATRON'S GREAT ERROR Megatron was not willing, as Scorponok had been, to ignore the nuisance-level Autobot attacks (which had resumed, fitfully and half-heartedly, since Scorponok's death). Instead, he instituted a reign of total terror, ruthlessly hunting down and exterminating anyone he suspected even remotely of having been involved in the resistance movement. These suspects naturally included participants in the Gladiators' Revolt, including its leader (once a friend of Megatron's, before the Corruption), Orion Pax. Megatron personally dispatched Pax, but unfortunately did not check his work carefully; he did not kill Pax, only gravely wounded him.
Alpha Trion came upon Orion Pax's barely-functional wreckage later that day, and saw an opportunity. He took the gravely wounded Pax back to his workshop and reconstructed him, making him even more powerful and equipping him for war, as he had been in the gladiator days. When Pax came to, Alpha Trion explained that the Autobot Resistance needed a leader who was a great speaker, a great thinker, AND a great warrior, and that he, Alpha Trion, only fulfilled one of those three criteria. Trion implored Pax to take his Matrix of Primus and with it the leadership of the Autobots, confident that if he did, he would make the Autobots a force to be reckoned with in this nascent civil war.
A GREAT LEADER ARISES Orion Pax agreed. Alpha Trion gave him the Matrix of Leadership (this is the first recorded instance of its being called by that name), and when he accepted it and placed it within him, he changed slightly. Imbued with the power of Primus, he became even stronger, tougher, and wiser than he had been before. However, unlike as with later cases of Matrix empowerment, this change was _permanent_; why this occurred is unknown. (Some have theorized that it is, in fact, because Orion Pax was originally O9X, a first-generation Cybertronian who received the essence of Ultrus. He has, himself, been quoted as saying that he does not remember exactly how old he really is.)
Optimus Prime was born, and Cybertron would never be the same.
FIRST STRIKE Optimus Prime came into the command of a ragtag, disorganized, demoralized and undisciplined fighting force, most of whom truly believed that their cause was hopeless. He turned them around in less than a Standard year, forging them in secret into a tight, close-knit, precise and deadly strike force. Armed with whatever weapons they could find, the Autobots became the bane of the Decepticons' existence, striking hard, destroying, killing, and then fading into the background. Megatron stepped up his reign of terror, trying to either force them out or cause the civilian population to turn them over and end the terror, but the tactic failed. The civilians only hated the Decepticons more, and aided the Autobots. Recruits joined by the thousands. Still, the task was daunting, and most new Autobots were worried that Megatron might become so enraged as to turn the Hammer of Primus on Cybertron itself, choosing to relocate rather than deal with the internal threat.
Optimus Prime replied to this concern by organizing an elite strike force of his finest warriors and making a risky, dangerous, desperate, inspired move. He personally led the strike team on the most dangerous mission ever attempted by an Autobot force: the destruction of the Hammer of Primus. Fifteen Autobots boarded the Hammer that day. Optimus Prime and Megatron met in battle for the first time. When it was all over, eleven Autobots had emerged and returned safely to Cybertron, seventy-nine Decepticon warriors were dead, and the Hammer of Primus had been destroyed.
MEGATRON'S REVENGE Furious, Megatron ordered the Constructicons to recreate the Hammer. The Constructicons, perhaps untruly, claimed that they could not, saying that vital components which had been destroyed made the level of power the weapon had attained impossible to replicate, since they had come from cutting-edge Mandalorian gear, none of which was now available with that civilization in ruins. However, they did replicate the basic technology, and installed a much lower-powered version of the weapon in Megatron's own fusion cannon, making him the most powerfully armed Transformer in history.
Megatron scoured Cybertron for Optimus Prime, issuing challenges and warnings and threats at any opportunity, and when he finally made contact, he challenged Prime as he had challenged Scorponok. Prime agreed to meet him in single combat in, ironically, the old Arena in Iacon, where he had made such a name for himself in the old days. Their fight was epic, matched perhaps by only one in Transformer history in terms of single combat. In the end, Megatron tried to destroy Prime using the new Hammer-like function of his fusion cannon, but was too weakened by the battle to control the reaction, and, while he destroyed half of the Arena, he missed Optimus Prime. He then fled, embarrassed and embittered.
WAR UPON WAR It would be futile to describe in detail the constant wars of the next eighteen thousand years. They all began and ended the same way: with Optimus Prime and his Autobots hampered by lack of materiel and personnel, and Megatron and his Decepticons always outmaneuvered, but never really removed from power. Frustrating for both sides. The wars ravaged Cybertron and drained most of its sources of energy, so that by the start of the Standard calendar, it was basically a used-up husk of a world.
CRASH Seeking new energy sources, Optimus Prime led the most elite of his Autobots, except for a top-echelon command staff under Ultra Magnus which was to hold the line until his return, into space. Megatron did the same, leaving Shockwave in command and taking most of his best troops to intercept and destroy the Autobot force. The Decepticons boarded the Autobot starship, and as the Transformers battled within, that ship fell out of control into the gravity well of an insignificant M-class world on the edge of the galactic center, a developing world whose primitive inhabitants would eventually get around to calling it 'Earth'. They crashed there, and all were rendered dormant by the damage incurred in said crash.
MEANWHILE AT THE FARM Back on Cybertron, it soon became clear that neither force was returning, at which point the wars resumed pretty much as they had gone before. Ultra Magnus constantly outmaneuvered Shockwave, Megatron's commander pro tem, but lacked the equipment and personnel to take the offensive. And so it went.
AWAKENING In mid-1999 Standard, the Transformers on Earth awakened and emerged to find themselves on a world with carbon-based indigenous life and abundent energy. The Decepticons sought to seize this for themselves, and cared nothing for the carbon life forms; the Autobots sought friendship and alliance with the natives and did their best to prevent the Decepticons from wreaking havoc. When both sides made contact with Cybertron, the Cybertronian War suddenly expanded to include a confused and frightened Earth. Shortly thereafter, the Imperial Salusian government inducted Earth into the United Galactica, and the UG officially declared itself allied with the Autobots. AutobotCity was established, and Optimus Prime returned to Cybertron and exchanged places with Ultra Magnus on Earth. The war on Cybertron was not going well, and by the time Prime arrived, the Decepticons had taken complete control.
Five years of jockeying for position ensued as both sides tried to find an advantage. The Autobots had eliminated any Decepticon presence on Earth, but Earth was not Cybertron, and most of the Autobots wanted to go home. Finally, in 2005, Optimus Prime formally requested the assistance and alliance of the Wedge Defense Force. It was promptly given.
THE GREAT BATTLE OF AUTOBOTCITY
On October 5, 2005, Megatron and his Decepticons decided to destroy the Autobot presence on Earth once and for all. Learning that Optimus Prime was sending a supply mission to AutobotCity from one of the Autobots' Cybertronian moon bases, he led his elite strike force, much the same one he had controlled on Earth, aboard the supply mission's shuttle, sneaking aboard during preflighting and then slaughtering the unprepared crew in flight. The AutobotCity defenses, and the shuttle's own WDF escort pilot (Commander Benjamin D. 'Gryphon' Hutchins, WDF Executive Officer, who had personally requested the assignment), were unaware that anything was amiss, and the shuttle penetrated all of AutobotCity's air-defense nets but one before being detected by a sharp-eyed infantry soldier named Hot Rod. The Decepticons then abandoned the shuttle.
Pitched ground and air battles resulted in a net Autobot loss; the badly outnumbered Autobot forces were driven back and back. Their only real airpower were the Aerialbots and the single WDF pilot; the Decepticon air warriors downed two Aerialbots (killing neither) and Commander Hutchins (who in his crippled Valkyrie Veritech fighter fought the rest of the battle in battroid mode as a ground soldier, earning himself an Autobot Valor Medal for distinction and an Autobot commission), achieving air supremacy and forcing the remaining flight-capable Aerialbots to put down for their own safety.
The Constructicons then formed Devastator, and with him at the spearhead, the Decepticons laid siege to AutobotCity. Autobot communications officer Blaster did manage to get a message out before the booster antenna array was destroyed, but no one knew if it had been heard. Inside AutobotCity, the Autobots and their one WDF ally hunkered down, fought back as best they could, and waited grimly to die.
The next morning, just after dawn, Devastator penetrated Autobot City's inner curtain. Megatron gave the order for the slaughter to begin, and just as he did so, an Autobot reinforcements shuttle arrived. Grimlock and his Dinobot special operations team disembarked in the air and, using drop packs, descended directly into the combat zone, engaging and defeating Devastator, while the shuttle landed just outside AutobotCity and an Autobot reinforcement team including Optimus Prime himself disembarked.
OPTIMUS PRIME'S FINEST HOUR Prime is reported to have said, to no one in particular, 'Megatron must be stopped. No matter the cost,' before charging alone into Autobot city and, in the most impressive display of his combat skills ever captured on film, plowing and blasting his way through most of the Decepticon force to reach Megatron himself. He challenged Megatron to single combat, and was well on his way to winning when the untimely intervention of Hot Rod, who was attempting to help, cost Prime dearly. Unable to shoot Megatron with Hot Rod in his way, Prime was forced to accept mortal injury before receiving his shot. When it came, though, Optimus Prime took it, with all the guts that had earned him his reputation as the finest warrior the Autobots possessed. In the end, both commanders were near death. The Decepticons retreated in disarray, and the Autobots, shocked and without a medic (their chief medical officer, Ratchet, although the sole survivor of the original supply shuttle crew, was unconscious, badly wounded), had to watch as their beloved commander gave the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus and then died.
UNICRON Meanwhile, Unicron had finally reached striking distance from Cybertron, the form of his old enemy, Primus. He encountered Megatron and other badly wounded Decepticons, abandoned in space by Starscream, and offered Megatron salvation in return for servitude. Megatron turned him down flat, and Unicron, incensed, continued on his way and let the Decepticons drift. He had scanned them, though, and used his own powers of creation to make minions for himself based on updated versions of their designs. Their leader was the updated Megatron, whom Unicron named Galvatron and who believed himself to be Megatron, recreated after accepting Unicron's deal. Unicron believed it would be simpler to make him serve that way, or perhaps he simply found it amusing. We will never know.
Unicron wanted the Matrix of Leadership destroyed, and sent Galvatron and his minions to do the job. On Junkion, the Planet of Junk, they finally did get possession of it, dismembering Ultra Magnus in the process (he was later repaired by the Junkions); Galvatron did not destroy it, however, as he believed he could use it to blackmail Unicron into serving him. He was wrong; he could not utilize it. The Matrix had already chosen its next holder, and neither Ultra Magnus (who had tried to use it and failed) nor Galvatron was he. Unicron mocked Galvatron, transformed to his robot form, and attacked Cybertron.
SALVATION AND A NEW LEADER During the battle, an Autobot force, including several of Ultra Magnus's troopers from Earth and that single, bedraggled WDF Valkyrie and its pilot, managed to get -inside- Unicron. One of them, Hot Rod, got separated from the group and stumbled upon Galvatron, whom Unicron had swallowed out of spite. They fought, and Hot Rod got the Matrix of Leadership away from Galvatron. When he did so, the Matrix, which had chosen at Optimus Prime's death (some theorize because the dying Prime dropped it and Hot Rod, catching it, had been the first Autobot to touch it) that he be its next holder, transformed him into a powerful Autobot commander, as it had done to Orion Pax before. This new leader, calling himself Rodimus Prime, easily defeated Galvatron, then unleashed the power of the Matrix. Unicron's body was obliterated, but he was, as the Transformers would later learn, not so easily defeated.
THE RODIMUS YEARS The mantle of Autobot leadership never sat comfortably on Rodimus Prime's shoulders. He was valorous and competent, there was never any doubt of that -- but he lacked confidence in his abilities, and he lacked experience. He never felt capable of filling the position Optimus Prime had left, and constantly fought against despair in the shadow of his legendary predecessor.
Still, Rodimus Prime was not without his accomplishments. Under his leadership the Autobots repaired and then completed AutobotCity and solidified their diplomatic position with the United Galactica and Earth. His command period saw a dramatic increase in the standard of living on Cybertron. The Autobot ranks swelled as, encouraged by the better times, more Transformers came up from the underground and joined. Rodimus met and handled several major crises during his period of command. By and large, it was a good period, despite the still-constant Decepticon threat.
HARD TIMES FOR THE DECEPTICONS Beaten and scattered, refusing the Autobots' generous offer of sanctuary and amnesty for any who wished to live on Cybertron after the defeat of Unicron, the Decepticons had taken up refuge on a burned-out, decimated world named Chaar. Charr had once been populated by a humanoid race, but they had wiped themselves out in a nuclear holocaust several centuries earlier (assisted, it is said, by the Decepticons themselves), and it was now nothing but a toxic, radioactive wasteland, devoid of all life and studded with the skeletons of twisted, burned-out buildings.
Here, the Decepticons hid and starved, their supplies of energon running so low at one point that they could not send a scouting mission in search of more. It seemed inevitable that the once-proud Decepticon elite would simply starve to death on this remote planet of ash.
Cyclonus, Scourge, and Scourge's Sweeps, other creations of Unicron, did not accept this, and finally, they decided to take action. Hoarding energon from the others, they left Chaar on June 14, 2007 Standard, in search of Galvatron, who they surmised had survived Unicron's destruction. As it turned out, they were correct; Galvatron lived, but Unicron's destruction had thrown him into a lava pit on a small, volcanic asteroid near Cybertron. When rescued on the 28th, Galvatron was, either due to the mental stresses of his defeat, brain damage from the lava, or both, stark raving mad. The other Unicron-created Decepticons followed him anyway, and they set out for Chaar.
FIVE FACES OF DARKNESS However, Chaar had been visited in their absence by a scouting force from the long-absent Quintessons, who had encountered a small Autobot force during the Unicron incident and decided that the time was right to retake Cybertron. The Quintessons supplied the starving Decepticons with all the energon they required, and demanded in return that the Autobots and their Matrix be destroyed. When Galvatron discovered this disloyalty he flew into a rage (as he was wont to do), and the Quintessons, as they so often did, resorted to deceit to placate him.
[It is ironic that, in order to assure Galvatron's assistance, the Quintessons promised to provide him with the Decepticon Matrix of Leadership -- the very thing with the Quintessons did not believe existed, and which Galvatron would have already possessed, had he been who he believed he was.]
The Quintessons' plan was elegant and terrifying in its cruel subtlety. While the Decepticons hunted the Autobots on two fronts -- a full assault on AutobotCity and Cybertron -- a commando force of the Quintessons' own loyal (and rather stupid) Transformers, the Sharkticons, would go into the depths of Cybertron itself and enact an ancient Quintesson contingency measure which, in the furious rebellion of millions of years previous, they never had a chance to use. This contingency would produce a harmonized energy field around Cybertron which would immobilize all Transformers. Unknown to himself, one of the Decepticon attackers on Earth carried a slave module to this system within him which would produce a similar effect there as well.
A Decepticon warrior, Blitzwing, discovered the plot and was horrified. He immediately reported it to Galvatron, who ignored him, raving about his 'destiny'. When Blitzwing implored his commander to listen to reason, Galvatron struck him down and told him, 'Tell it to the Autobots!' Stunned by this betrayal, Blitzwing did so, and the Autobots did their best to stop the Sharkticon team. Unfortunately, Galvatron intervened, apparently believing that the contingency switch would, in fact, provide him with the Decepticon Matrix. He activated it, and was immediately frozen, along with all the other Transformers. The Quintessons, rejoicing, moved in.
Unfortunately for the Quintessons, there was an error in their plan -- the Autobots' human allies. One of these, an Earthman, Steven 'Spike' Witwicky, destroyed the paralysis field generator. When the main generator went down, it stopped transmitting the activation signal to the slave unit on Earth. The Quintessons retreated in the face of an enraged Galvatron, and before the battle could continue, Blitzwing demanded that it be halted. Galvatron vowed vengeance, expelled Blitzwing from the ranks of the Decepticons, and fled with his Decepticons, ordering a simultaneous pullout of Earth.
SIDEBAR: BLITZWING: THE FIRST NEO-DECEPTICON?
Blitzwing's expulsion from the ranks of the Decepticons is unique in that it is the first documented case in which an expelled Decepticon, rather than become a simple independent or non-combatant, instead joined the ranks of the Autobots. Interviews with Autobots who knew Blitzwing in this time confirm that there was no trace of the Corruption in him; some, who had known him before the Corruption, have said that he was just as they remembered him from the golden age. Where did this lowly Decepticon Triple Changer find the strength to be the first of his kind to successfully throw off the Corruption? No one knows.
DARK AWAKENING Several largely uneventful years after the Quintesson Incident, on 12 February 2015 Standard, an Autobot force, including Rodimus Prime, discovered the Autobot Mausoleum Ship, a space faring memorial containing the remains of many great Autobot heroes, including those of Optimus Prime. While aboard the Mausoleum, the Autobots were attacked by a pursuing Decepticon detachment, who were driven away by the timely intervention of
Optimus Prime. Needless to say, this caused a bit of surprise, but the Autobots were too overjoyed at the return of their beloved leader to ask questions. Rodimus Prime turned over the Matrix of Leadership immediately, despite Optimus Prime's protests, and reverted to his original Hot Rod form. Shortly thereafter, Prime rendered the other Autobots unconscious and left the Mausoleum with its auto-destruct set; when he reached Cybertron he told the Autobots there that the force who had found him were killed by a Quintesson attack, and that only he escaped. He then led the entire Autobot fleet on a mission against the Quintessons' new base: a mission which was, to put it simply, flying into a massive trap.
Unfortunately for the Quintessons, two things went wrong with their plan. The first was that Hot Rod had regained consciousness and terminated the Mausoleum's auto-destruct sequence, and the Autobots had then piloted the ship back to Cybertron, then taken a fast shuttle to catch up to the fleet. The other was their chief tool himself, for Optimus Prime was beginning, with the aid of the Matrix, to realize what had happened to him.
When Hot Rod and the others arrived, Optimus Prime had sealed himself in the command center of the flagship, alone. Hot Rod, fired by anger at having been duped, went in after him, and he and Prime fought, with Prime constantly imploring Hot Rod to stop him, to take the Matrix from him. Eventually, stunned by one of Hot Rod's blows, Prime stopped fighting and figured out the full truth.
That truth was: he was not Optimus Prime at all. The Quintessons had rebuilt the shattered body they had found, and enabled some of its memory systems (all Transformer memories remain resident after death; dead Transformers have no life force, and no one is certain why it cannot normally be restored and the robotic body 'restarted') with a simpler intelligence that would mimic the real Optimus Prime's mind well enough to fool anyone who expected him to be in shock following a resurrection. The deception had fooled everyone -- even itself. Contact with the Matrix had reawakened other parts of Prime's mind, apparently, and he realized what he was: a zombie, undead and nearly mindless. To maintain the illusion the Quintessons had not repaired any but the most vital damage to the body, which left it weak and underpowered -- which explains why Hot Rod, brave though he undoubtedly was, stood a fighting chance in their battle.
Optimus Prime, now sufficiently in control to resist the Quintessons' programming at least for a time, returned the Matrix to Hot Rod (returning him to the form of Rodimus Prime), then told him to evacuate the Autobots from the area and ordered the fleet into retreat. He then piloted the flagship, alone, through a withering firestorm of Quintesson defenses and destroyed the Quintesson command center. When he did so, the framework intelligence, dependent on transmitted power from that command center, died, and with it, so did the never-truly-resurrected Optimus Prime. His body was recovered and taken to Cybertron, where it, like the others aboard the Mausoleum, was entombed in the newly-constructed Hall of Heroes in Iacon.
DOUBT AND DANGER The Dark Awakening incident left Rodimus Prime deeply shaken. On the one hand, Optimus Prime had personally charged him with defending the Matrix, which meant he no longer felt like a usurper; on the other, he now felt the _direct_ pressure of responsibility, coming from Optimus Prime himself. In addition, he was berating himself for being so naive as to hand over the Matrix to Optimus Prime without first authenticating him somehow. A medical examination would have revealed his lack of true life, but Rodimus had chosen to hand over the Matrix right there on the Mausoleum, leaving himself and the others open to ambush. He felt a fool for the whole incident, and there was the additional pain of dealing with Optimus Prime's loss a second to deal with as well.
Galvatron chose this moment, naturally, to launch, finally, a full-scale, no-holds-barred, all-out invasion of Cybertron, which began on 3 March 2015 Standard. In the course of this war, the most violent Cybertron had seen in millennia, the Autobots were backed by the Wedge Defense Force in large numbers; the Decepticons were supported by Imperial Gamelon troops and legions of suspiciously familiar-looking robotic soldiers which were later conclusively proven to have been supplied by GENOM Corporation. The war raged for months.
Rodimus Prime and his generals defended Cybertron ably, but were unable to mount enough of a counteroffensive to drive the Decepticons away. Rodimus Prime was stricken with severe self-doubt during this war; Ultra Magnus, his chief aide, has said that he spent most of the time he wasn't actually in combat 'moping, and brooding. He said once, 'Magnus, our _real_ leader would have ended this battle by now. Optimus Prime would have won by now.' I couldn't convince him that he had the power to live up to Optimus no one could.'
FIRST CONTACT On 15 May 2015 Standard, WDF _Hawkwind_, a Wedge Defense Force transport carrying reinforcements from AutobotCity to Cybertron was intercepted by a Decepticon blockade patrol. Damaged and seeking to escape, the transport, a Corellian Heavy Industries JN-1990 bulk freighter, jumped to hyperspace without an adequate navicomputer fix. When the crew got it under control, they were outside known space.
Looking for a place to put down for repairs, _Hawkwind_'s crew located a class-M planet orbiting a nearby star. While they set their astrogator to work at figuring out just what star that was, the rest of them dropped ship on the planet and set about effecting repairs. Shortly, they found themselves contacted by natives of the planet, which they were told was named Nebulon. The Nebulans, a humanoid race, were highly advanced technologically and had recently been considering initiating contact with the United Galactica, having recently perfected interstellar travel.
The damage to the ship was more extensive than had been previously thought; the uncontrolled journey had damaged the hyper drive core, and an overhaul would be required. The Nebulans immediately pledged their alliance and began assisting with the repairs. One of their top scientists, a brilliant man named HiQ, became fascinated by Transformers, and studied them extensively during the two months it took to repair the transport. Out of his studies of Transformers and humanoid/Transformer interactions, the binary-bonding process would be extended to humanoid minds, and the first combined humanoid/Transformer teams would be produced through biocybernetic reconstruction operations devised by HiQ. By the time _Hawkwind_ left Nebulon on 19 July 2015, the first of the Targetmasters and Type One Headmasters were aboard.
SIDEBAR: THE HIQ PROCESSES
There are six major categories of humanoid/Transformer binary partnership; five are covered by processes created by HiQ of Nebulon. They are:
1) Headmaster, Type One: This partnership is the most unique as interactions go. A living Transformer, his cerebration unit transferred to a position within his body, is bonded to a humanoid whose body, equipped with an infra-restruction armor and certain biocybernetic augmentations, becomes the body's head. The two minds, while the bodies are joined, may function separately, with either one choosing to let the other control the body's actions, or they may merge into a gestalt with a single identity, producing a strange fusion of personalities, the stronger of the two dominant. The partners in this kind of fusion tend to be the closest together, emotionally.
2) Headmaster, Type Two: In this partnership, the humanoid again forms the head of a Transformer body, but the body itself is not sentient; the Transformer who was processed was dead when the process began. This produces an interesting effect: the humanoid's personality, being the only one present, controls the body, but the mind has access to the Transformer's original memories and experiences. Over time, this can cause the humanoid's personality to begin to mirror that of the dead Transformer, producing an eerily familiar effect to people who knew the Transformer before his death. This process is rarely performed, and is usually only done on Transformers who expressed a desire that their bodies be processed in the event of their deaths.
3) Targetmaster: In this partnership, the humanoid component transforms into a weapon which is wielded by the Transformer. The mental dynamics in this form of partnership are not as profound as in Headmastership; the partners will generally be close, and know almost everything about each other, but their identities rarely merge (only when the Transformer is taking a completely absorbing, all-or-nothing shot). Most of the time, the link is very similar to that of a smart gun; the humanoid component provides a great deal of status and targeting information.
4) Powermaster: The most spectacular, and rarest, of the HiQ Processes, the Powermaster Process takes the humanoid and transforms him into an engine or power source within the host Transformer. This gives the Transformer incredible power in robot mode and powers him in vehicle form (non-vehicle Transformers are rarely, if ever, processed this way); without the humanoid, a Powermaster Transformer cannot function in vehicle mode. The mental dynamics here are as they are with Targetmasters; only when the Transformer is concentrating fully on power will the personalities synchronize as in Type One Headmasters. Most of the time, the Transformer is in control, and though they minds are in constant contact and may converse telepathically, the humanoid is just along for the ride.
5) Cybermaster: In this process, the gestalt mind is given top priority, for a different reason altogether. The humanoid generally forms some kind of backup processor unit, and the Transformer is generally a piece of computer or communications equipment. This partnership does nothing useful in the physical world, but in cyberspace, the gestalt-formed unit is a nearly unstoppable force. When not synchronized, the partners are mentally close, but not joined, as with the Targetmaster and Powermaster processes. This process does not have an evolutionary effect, unlike the others, since it is used fairly rarely, and the partners have more separate physical existences than in the other processes. The principal authors are a Cybermaster team.
6) Other binary partnerships: There are a few other known forms of binary partnership. The best-documented cases are the reverse-Targetmaster partnership of 3WA Trouble Consultant Priss Morgan and Megatron, the Decepticon supreme commander (this functions exactly like a Targetmaster teaming, except that the Transformer is the weapon) and the pilot-vehicle partnership of WDF General Patricia Currier and Starscream, Decepticon Air Commander (reserve), which is functionally identical to Type One Headmastership, but since Starscream has a functional cockpit in all modes, does not require the removal of his original head.
Evolutionary effects: Most binary partnerships have an evolutionary effect. As the humanoid component moves toward the end of his lifespan, his personality and that of the Transformer become closer and closer together, until finally, they are permanently synchronized. When the humanoid component dies, his personality becomes a facet of the Transformer's. (Note that this may require retooling of the Transformer, in the case of Headmasters and Powermasters.) When the humanoid components of Type Two Headmasters die, the unit dies as well, since there is no Transformer mind to merge with.
SECOND WAVE; NEW STALEMATE WDF _Hawkwind_ and her first-contact crew arrived at Cybertron on 22 July 2015. They were two months late, but what they had with them made up for that, because the new Headmasters and Targetmasters proved frighteningly effective in combat. Unfortunately, an unscrupulous Nebulan scientist named Zarkon, one of HiQ's aides, stole the data on the Processes and sold it to the Decepticon Swindle, who in turn sold it to the Constructicons, who immediately began retooling Decepticon and Gamelon 'volunteers' with the processes. (They, of course, did not submit to binary-bonding themselves.) When he heard of this, Galvatron was furious, but when he was shown the effectiveness of the new troops in combat, he relented and did not have the Constructicons executed.
The war was even again, the technological advancements of the Nebulans thwarted by Zarkon's treachery. Rodimus Prime sank into despair, more convinced than ever that he was not commanding well. Meanwhile, HiQ worked feverishly to develop some new breakthrough which would turn the tide of battle again. During this phase of the war, the possibility of Type Two Headmasters was postulated during a rest-time discussion between a few Autobots, including Perceptor, Snarl, and Fortress Maximus, and HiQ. The idea was shelved at the time, since it, to quote Snarl, 'Gave everybody the creeps.'
BREAKTHROUGH At a loss, searching for inspiration, HiQ decided to visit the crypt of Optimus Prime, a leader he had read and seen almost all the historical data available for since his arrival on Cybertron. While there, HiQ, who was an expert with energy fields and their interaction dynamics, and had cybernetically modified himself to be more sensitive to them, noticed something unusual about Optimus Prime's remains. He went back to his lab, excited, and got some equipment; before long he had set up a complete field lab in the crypt. Eventually, after a solid week of uninterrupted work and study, he felt he had the answer. Optimus Prime was alive -- barely -- apparently through the action of the Matrix within him while he was 'undead' during the Dark Awakening incident. All he required, according to HiQ's calculations, was a properly modulated, massive burst of energy to revive him, and a power source of sufficient magnitude to sustain him afterward and serve as an anchor. HiQ compared the concept to a human being with an artificial heart -- and he had an idea of what to use to modify the energy.
From this week of work was born the Powermaster Process. Optimus Prime's body, with the permission of Rodimus Prime, was retooled by HiQ, Perceptor, and the Technobots into the Powermaster form, including the void where his original laser core had been and where his new, massive power source would be installed. HiQ, meanwhile, had modified himself and constructed an infra-restruction armor for himself. He fully intended to _be_ that source. Now, all that was needed was an initial power surge
FORTMAX CHEATS DEATH KIND OF On the eve of HiQ's bold experiment, on 12 August 2015, a great tragedy struck the Autobot forces. Fortress Maximus was cornered and mortally wounded by a massive Decepticon strike force. When he was discovered, he was clinging barely to the edge of death, and before he died, he asked 'Spike' Witwicky, the only humanoid present and a friend, to use his body after his death, to see if the Type Two Headmaster Process would really work. Unwilling to disobey his friend's dying wish, Spike had himself modified by HiQ's assistants and became the head of Fortress Maximus. The process was successful, and Fortress Maximus, eerily familiar and yet oddly different, returned to the battlefront.
THE MATRIX SPEAKS HiQ, meanwhile, was almost beside himself with frustration. Optimus Prime's new form was ready, and HiQ had tested source after source of energy against the magnitude of power he calculated was required to pull Optimus Prime back over the brink, and found all of them vastly wanting. What was required was a power source of almost infinite magnitude.
Then it occurred to him, in one of those flashes of inspiration which an Earthier scientist had once named 'a Eureka Event': the energy source which had given Prime this chance at resurrection in the first place was the only thing that could complete the Powermaster Process and bring him back -- if anything could. He approached Rodimus Prime with his calculations and asked for his assistance, and Rodimus, desperate to have Optimus Prime back, agreed readily.
What followed, on 15 August 2015, was best described by Ultra Magnus, who was one of the Autobots who witnessed it.
Every Autobot who could be spared gathered in the crypt, where most of HiQ's machines had been cleared away. Optimus Prime was stretched out on his bier, his body larger, bulkier, and bristling with new armaments, both familiar-looking and strange. HiQ stood in the middle of his abdomen, in the opening where his grille had once been, wearing his red, white, and blue infra-restruction armor, his helmet in his hands. There must have been thirty of us there: most of Prime's Old Guard were ranked on either side of him, and Rodimus Prime stood at his feet. The lights were low, and as Rodimus opened his chest panel, we could clearly see the glow of the Matrix. I had never seen it glow so brightly in all the times I'd seen it; it was as if it knew what was happening, and was just as excited and frightened as the rest of us. Someone -- I don't know who -- turned the lights completely out then, and HiQ very solemnly put on his helmet and said, 'I am ready, Rodimus Prime. Begin.' Rodimus held up the Matrix, put his fingers into the sockets, and said those immortal words: 'Now light our darkest hour.' The Matrix's glow became nearly blinding, and with a hiss, the casing split and separated away from the blue crystal, which hovered in midair. For a moment, a nimbus of energy tendrils crackled around Rodimus, as if they were uncertain what it was they were supposed to be doing. Then, one or two of snaked out and touched Optimus Prime, like the fingers of a blinded man, searching. More and more thin bolts of Matrix energy curled over Prime's body, as if they were mapping him: up and down his arms and legs, across his great chest, over his face. Then they found HiQ. The energy began to intensify, the glow becoming brighter still, and more and more tendrils shot out and ran over Prime and HiQ both; and then, with a suddenness that was startling, they all unified, and with a roar like a photon cannon, the Matrix was shooting a solid beam of energy into HiQ. He screamed so loud, it could be heard over the roar of the Matrix; I know I saw excess energy shooting from his eyes. He transformed, then, into the engine, fitting smoothly into the socket and forming the familiar grille. The Matrix kept pouring energy into him, and before long it was like a light was shining inside Prime's body. Blue Matrix light was shining out of every crack and joint, and the windows in his chest were throwing squares of light on the ceiling even over the glare of the Matrix. Then, the outpouring of energy began to slow, and presently, it ceased, and the silence and dark were deafening and blinding. The lights came back up a little, and as we watched, the Matrix's case slid shut again with a soft click, closing over the crystal which was now glowing ever so faintly, all of its power thrown into that incredible river of power. Rodimus Prime shrank a bit, converting back to Hot Rod again; the Matrix could not sustain his form. I don't think anyone in the room dared to even think for the eternal next few seconds and then, Optimus Prime's optics flickered, then glowed strongly. He stirred, then moved, then sat up and looked around the room, and to my last functional day, I will never forget what he said. 'Autobots,' he said, in that deep growl of a voice he had, 'we must be in serious trouble.'
THE RETURN OF OPTIMUS PRIME Optimus Prime, Powermaster, took command of the Autobot forces on Cybertron at Zulu, 15 August 2015 Standard. He was, at first, scrutinized (discreetly) by several concerned parties to see if the process would hold, experimental as it was. Prime showed no signs of weakness as he swung instantly into action, traveling here and there boosting morale and directing defense operations. The Decepticons did not yet know he had returned; they only knew that Autobot resistance was stiffening exponentially, and their enemies' morale skyrocketing. Confused, Galvatron ordered his troops to regroup for a full assault on Iacon.
When he was informed of this, Optimus Prime went immediately to the south gate, where the spearhead of the attack currently was, and, after coordinating the defense operations so that they would function without him, he went out to meet the attackers personally.
OPTIMUS PRIME V. GALVATRON: ROUND ONE Galvatron was, needless to say, quite startled by the appearance of Optimus Prime on the battlements, perhaps even more so by the way Prime chose to make his entrance. At Zulu, the south gate of Iacon opened, making a space barely wide enough for a large Transformer to pass. Again, an excerpt from text written by one of the witnesses of this event will capture its spirit better than the dry language of a textbook. This excerpt is from the journal of the current Decepticon acting commander, Thunderwind, who was then a warrior named Thundercracker.
The gates rumbled open about six meters, and for a second, we all stopped, and the guns fell silent. We were shocked -- they were opening the gates? They were giving up? It was so amazing we all just stopped fighting and stared. And then we started to hear it a low, dull roar, like some kind of huge engine. Then we could see a couple of lights, from inside the opening of the gate. The noise got louder and the lights got brighter, and then he just _appeared_, roaring out of Iacon with fire shooting from his stacks, his headlights blazing: a huge red semi truck, his trailer mounting heavy artillery pieces. Sleeker, bigger, more dangerous-looking, but unmistakable: in a half-cycle, all of us knew who we were looking at, and my laser core was in my throat all of a sudden. Galvatron knew too, although it took him a moment to realize it, but when he did, he completely wigged out. I still can hear his voice, screaming madly, 'NO! I KILLED YOU! I -KILLED- YOU!!' It wasn't long after that that Galvatron was giving the familiar order to retreat again.
Indeed, enraged by the idea that Optimus Prime could be alive (since, thinking he was Megatron, Galvatron believed he'd killed him), Galvatron ordered his warriors to back off while he dealt with Prime himself. Unfortunately, he grossly underestimated Prime's power levels, unaware as he was of the Powermaster Process, and was badly beaten before fleeing and taking his army with him. In a little less than eight hours, Optimus Prime had ended the war.
SIDEBAR: HOT ROD, ONCE AND FUTURE LEADER
Hot Rod, once he was rid of the onus of leadership, did not remain depressed for long. He took Optimus Prime's swift victory as proof of his own inadequacy for command, then shrugged it off, saying that 'It doesn't matter now that I'm not -in- command, does it?' with that characteristic grin of his which had been seen only rarely since 2005. He seemed not at all bitter about losing his position -- in fact, he was downright relieved. However, Optimus Prime has assured all that his service will not be forgotten, and although Hot Rod has refused to take any rank other than that which he possessed before the Unicron Incident, Prime has informed him, and the rest of the Autobots, that he intends Hot Rod to succeed him as Autobot leader, should he fall again. Hot Rod doesn't seem worried.
PEACE FOR A TIME For the next eleven years, Cybertron was relatively peaceful. There were occasional Decepticon raids both there and on Earth, but by and large, the Decepticons remained hidden and quiet, little more than a nuisance. They had apparently terminated their relationship with both GENOM Corporation and the Gamelon Empire. For all intents and purposes, they disappeared.
INVASION BY SUBTERFUGE On 19 August 2026, a major Decepticon strike force arrived on Cybertron. The Autobot defenses, more than adequate to stand against a direct assault, found themselves all but useless as the Decepticons performed an operations which seemed wildly uncharacteristic, even for Galvatron. Through a series of brilliant tricks, switches, and deceptions which completely outmaneuvered Cybertron's chief of security, Kup, the Decepticons were in assault positions before anyone knew they were there. Only hours after the Decepticons sprang their trap, Optimus Prime requested Wedge Defense Force assistance.
With the WDF's assistance, the Autobots held the line against the Decepticon invaders, but just barely so. The Decepticons were fighting with a zeal and morale that had not been seen since the glory days of Megatron, and the Autobots had no new tricks to throw at them. They had air supremacy despite the intervention of the Wedge Defense Force's elite fighter groups. They owned the ground despite the WDF's Destroid units backing up the Autobot infantry. Nothing, it seemed, could stand in the face of their relentless advance -- except Autobase, the Autobots' backup headquarters bunker on the opposite side of Iacon from the assault force. Within three days even Iacon had fallen, and all that remained was Autobase. To destroy Autobase, Galvatron ordered in Devastator, and it seemed that, within hours, Cybertron would fall to the Decepticons.
THE HAMMER STRIKES There was time for only one attempt at stopping Devastator: an eleventh-hour scheme created by a Wedge Defense Force simulation artist, an aging Earthier officer, Martin 'PCHammer' Rose. (No one knows. He refuses to explain.) Rose had constructed a simulation of Devastator and attempted to destroy it with any means necessary, and had discovered, quite by accident, the monster's weak point -- placed there by the Constructicons themselves, in anticipation of falling to the Corruption, millennia before.
Devastator was and is different from all other Transformer composite teams. Whereas most composites are held together and motivated by mechanical linkages and servos, Devastator adds to that a force field similar to that used by the so-called Gryphon style of starships (such as the Constitution class) for structural integrity and motivation. The six Constructicons are linked together mechanically as well, but without his structural integrity field, Devastator cannot maintain his integrity. Rose discovered that certain seismic vibration frequencies would disrupt this field -- the weakness the Constructicons themselves had given their monstrous alter ego before the Corruption took them.
Working against time, Rose, Blaster, and Perceptor effected a daring trap for Devastator. Using a hologram of himself as bait, Rose lured Devastator onto a concealed ground-wave generator apparatus built at the very doorstep of Autobase. Then, as Devastator entered the trap, he was magnetized to the ground and shaken apart. It worked perfectly, and the Decepticons, their spearhead shattered, withdrew.
GALVATRON'S REVENGE Before leaving Cybertron, though, Galvatron discovered that a human had been responsible for the defeat of Devastator. Enraged, he remained behind, watched Rose board his personal aero spacecraft (a unique transforming vehicle of his own design), and then shot that vehicle down in flames. Galvatron then departed, confident that his revenge was complete.
It was not. Rose, trapped and unconscious within the wreckage of his vehicle, was still alive, and for the next week, a team of WDF and Autobot medics fought to separate him from the remains of the vehicle and save him. It was during this period that WDF Chief Medical Officer Jenna Steen discovered that the peculiar makeup of the vehicle's computer systems, the energy patterns of Galvatron's weapon, and the power sources of Rose's vehicle had conspired (perhaps, as some Transformers who were present believe, with the will of Primus) to inextricably link his nervous system with the vehicle's shattered electronics.
It was then that HiQ was consulted, and the Nebulan genius turned his encyclopedic knowledge of Transformer/humanoid interactions to work. Combined with Autobot Chief Medical Officer Ratchet and Protectobot medic First Aid's mastery of Transformer anatomy and Doctor Steen's extensive human medical skill, he adapted the sub-ether infra-restruction technique used in his Master Processes to a rather unusual use. Martin Rose survived, and was forever changed.
SIDEBAR: THE HUMAN AUTOBOT
When Martin Rose emerged from the medical facility (ironically enough, on his sixtieth birthday), he was a bizarre fusion of human and Transformer. In his base form, he looked and felt perfectly human (much like any Master human, out of his infra-restruction armor). With a cybernetic act of will, he could convert himself into his vehicle, armor and all, and all trace of organics vanished. This was, without a doubt, HiQ's ultimate expression of his philosophy that man and machine could be truly one, and no one alive today understands how it works -- least of all Martin Rose, who has been, apparently, rendered functionally immortal by the process.
Martin Rose was not the first human to be officially commissioned an Autobot (that honor belongs to 'Spike' Witwicky, who was commissioned by Optimus Prime in 2000), but he was the first Autobot to be a member of the Wedge Defense Force, and still serves, as a member of the Criminal Investigation Division, today.
THE LONG PAUSE The beaten Decepticons vanished off the map in 2026. Nothing was seen of them for decades. The Autobots rebuilt Cybertron (again), and many of them followed PCHammer into the Wedge Defense Force and Worlds Welfare Work Association. (The most famous Transformer 3WA Trouble Consultant team is #979, the Protectobots.) Nothing at all happened during this period, which some more action-oriented Transformers, such as Hot Rod, referred to as 'The Yawn'.
DEATH OF A LEGEND On June 1, 2091 Standard, HiQ, an old Nebulan at 140, fell ill. Three days later, peacefully in bed, surrounded by friends, he died, and when he did, the Powermaster Process he and Optimus Prime had begun seventy-six years previous completed itself spectacularly. HiQ's personality became one of the facets of Prime's complicated personality, and Prime himself was finally stabilized, capable of surviving without the Powermaster conversion.
After the funeral, which was held on the sixth, Optimus Prime left Ultra Magnus in command of the Autobot forces on Cybertron and boarded the SDF-17, the WDF's flagship _Wayward Son_. There, a WDF mechanical team, in consultation with Ratchet and Wheeljack, began the task of reconstructing his body to remove the handicap the Powermaster conversion had now become. Prime permitted the team to take much longer than usual during the reconstruction of his body so that they could study his workings and learn more about Transformer physiology. In the meantime, Prime himself had other plans for spending the two years the reconstruction would eventually take.
On the twelfth of June, Optimus Prime's intelligence was cybernetically transferred to the brain of a cloned and gene tailored human body by the WDF Life Sciences Division. To protect his much more fragile new form, he was given a false identity as a Wedge Defense Force junior officer, and was posted as a fighter pilot to Gryphon's famed Eight-Ball Squadron, serving as a fill-in for the squad's usual Executive Officer, Lcdr. Dave Ritchie. (Ritchie, it is said, had taken a sabbatical to go hunting.)
For the next two years, Senior Lieutenant Olaf Petersson, a tall, handsome Nordic man of indeterminate middle age, served as the Eight-Ball Squadron's number-two man, flying Gryphon's wing. He performed the job admirably, and all agreed when Lt. Petersson 'retired' from the WDF on 19 June 2093 that he would be missed. The next day, Optimus Prime, in his new robotic form, showed up for Gryphon's 120th birthday party. As for Lt. Petersson, he's still seen every now and again, since Optimus Prime is now, perhaps, the most unique Powermaster of them all -- his own.
RENEWAL OF HOSTILITIES The turn of the century saw the Decepticons reappearing, this time allied militarily with the warriors of Kilrah. The Seventh Kilrathi War began on 9 January 2102 with, as usual, a simultaneous invasion of the Vega and Enigma sectors -- except that this time, the Enigma invasion-force was 80% Decepticon. The Decepticons were not pleased by this development -- the mighty Decepticon Army, forced to work as mercenaries for carbon creatures -- but hard times had forced it on them. It was either this, or starve again, as in the beginning of the last century.
The WDF mobilized against the Kilrathi invaders, and with them were the many Autobots who had joined during the Yawn. Soon the Enigma sector operations had become another joint effort. This was Kilrah's biggest push to date, and despite the fact that Optimus Prime and MegaZone played off each other's plans brilliantly (and with what one observer termed 'inspired lunacy'), the war dragged. Soon it was evident that it would be a long and hard-fought battle to drive the Kilrathi and their Decepticon hirelings from each and every world they owned -- galactic trench warfare at its worst.
With the SDF-17 in the Vega sector and Optimus Prime's flagship, CWS _Remembrance_, in Enigma, the two-fronted war ground on and on, affording no opportunities for the kind of personal-touch warfare that Optimus Prime favored. Fourteen years of unremitting combat began to wear heavily on even the motivated and patient Autobots, not least because this war, unlike most of their own, was affecting millions of uninvolved beings on the conquered worlds. The WDF's patience had run out long ago. They were hanging on through grim determination and sheer stubbornness. Then, in the middle of 2116, an opportunity came.
GHORAH KHAR Intelligence data gathered by the Autobots' master spy, Punch, indicated that Galvatron was going to personally command Decepticon operations on Ghorah Khar from June through August of 2116. Ghorah Khar was a Kilrathi border world; it had been Kilrathi territory before the war, but had flared into revolt at the beginning of the decade and added itself to the hot spots list. The Kilrathi government had apparently thought that a show of force from their Decepticon allies would quiet the rebellion -- a rebellion which the Elite Guard themselves had not been able to quell in six years. Optimus Prime sent the _Remembrance_ and the rest of the battle group on to another area, leaving Ultra Magnus in command, and took a small strike force to Ghorah Khar, hoping that this would be the break he needed.
It was. On 14 July 2116, the Autobot force ran a Kilrathi/Decepticon blockade and landed successfully on Ghorah Khar. Although they encountered stiff resistance from the ground forces entrenched there, they reached Galvatron's capital by the twentieth, whereupon Optimus Prime issued a challenge to Galvatron. Still smarting from his defeat of a century earlier, Galvatron flew into a rage, injuring three subordinates who encouraged him to order a retreat, and went to face Optimus Prime in single combat.
OPTIMUS PRIME V. GALVATRON: ROUND TWO The fight which ensued has been called the single most impressive combat in Transformer history. It lasted for nearly three hours. During the course of the combat, both parties refused assistance from supporters numerous times, and the outcome was constantly in doubt. Some say it was Galvatron's finest hour; considering his consistent record of retreat from even remotely threatening situations, it does seem uncharacteristically tenacious of him to actually carry a duel through to its conclusion.
In the end, it was Optimus Prime who proved victorious, breaking Galvatron and with him the fighting spirit of the Decepticon forces. They gathered up their leader's shattered remains (after his passing was confirmed by Ratchet) and vanished, not to be seen again for nearly three centuries.
Ominously, though the event went largely unremarked, Unicron's head vanished from Cybertron's orbit at around this same time.
THE BIG YAWN At long last, the Decepticons were vanquished, and peace returned to Cybertron. Truth to tell, most of the Autobots found this all insufferably boring, even worse than the last gap in the action. Those who couldn't or didn't want to settle back into polite society stayed with the WDF, the 3WA, or other military and police organizations.
Aside from poorly-documented, possibly spurious encounters in the OuterRimTerritories, nothing more was seen or heard of the Decepticons until 2412.
SURPRISE ATTACK In one of the most poorly-timed offensives of all time, a Decepticon force under Shockwave assaulted and sought to secure the Iacon region. A lightning strike on the IaconDiplomaticCenter, where a Salusian special envoy was engaged in talks with Autobot leadership about the Salusia-Cybertron alliance's position with regard to Federation border defense, was intended to kill Optimus Prime and his staff, rendering the defenses of the area disorganized. Fortunately, Shockwave's intelligence was in error - Optimus Prime was still at AutobotCity on Earth. The Salusian special envoy, his 3WA escorts, and Ultra Magnus, the senior Autobot on the scene, were miraculously uninjured in the attack, and, seeking to get off world and alert the Autobot City forces to the attack, they went to the Iacon spaceport.
There, they encountered the second big surprise of the day.
MEGATRON'S RETURN At the spaceport, Ultra Magnus and his companions encountered an apparition from the past - none other than Megatron, former Decepticon Commander Supreme. They found this most confusing, since Megatron was not only supposed to be dead, but a -different- dead Transformer, by that point in time. Even more confusing, he did not want to fight with them. Instead, he engaged in ritual combat with Shockwave, destroying him, and declared his intention to return the Decepticon Army to its former state of glory and erase the Corruption.
A startlingly high number of Decepticons joined him; those who did not attacked Megatron en masse. When the smoke cleared, only Megatron was standing, and his supporters pledged their allegiance with one voice. The Army of the Decepticons was almost whole again.
SIDEBAR: MEGATRON'S REVERSAL
Here, in Megatron's own words, is the story of what happened to Megatron during the time he was believed to be Galvatron, and how he shook off the Corruption.
I encountered Unicron [in 2005] he offered to remake me, and the other Decepticons that traitor [Starscream] had abandoned, in return for servitude. I refused. I belong to nobody. Unicron was displeased, and left me, and the others, to drift. In four hundred years of drifting in the void, I learned much about myself. After all, for the first time in millennia, there was no war to take up my concentration, no treacherous underlings to watch my back for. Nothing occupying my mind except itself Human beings can remake themselves with mere decades of thought and reflection, and we are not so different from them as we would sometimes like to believe. Do you remember when the word 'Decepticon' was a word that inspired trust, respect, thoughts of integrity and honor? Do you remember when every Transformer's dream was to earn a place in the ranks of the Decepticons? When we protected Cybertron from the ravages of off-world despoilers? When we stopped the empire-building tendencies of the decadent old monarchy? Decepticons freed Cybertron from the Quintessons not Autobots. The Autobots didn't even exist then. I fought in that war, as a general to the Decepticon Commander Supreme, Scorponok. Do you remember Scorponok? And then, we grew complacent, sure of our power. Corruption spread in our ranks. Our standards were lowered, and the rabble started to enter the ranks. Even the mighty Scorponok was not immune to the spreading corruption, and it seemed the easiest thing in the world to slip into power-mad imperialism. If you ask Optimus Prime, he will tell you: before the Cybertronian Wars, I was an honorable robot. I began my decline when we invaded Tellar. Something in me changed the day Scorponok ordered me to take my brigade and break up a simple civilian peace demonstration with lethal force. At first I hated following those orders; then, slowly, I came to accept them, and then to even enjoy my work. Then ambition and power-lust overtook me. I assassinated Scorponok--my own creator, a leader I had revered for centuries!--and took his place. I kept my position through force and intimidation, slaughtering all who sought to oppose me. I killed innocent civilians for fun That practice was to prove my undoing. One of the civilians I slaughtered would be rebuilt as Optimus Prime my opposite number, my greatest arch-foe. For millennia, I kept going that way, allowing all manner of scum and villainy to join my army, crushing the Autobots whenever I could, always, it seemed, with the upper hand, but never enough to be victorious. And then, in 2005, Optimus Prime and I met for our final battle, and all but destroyed each other. Starscream abandoned me, and I drifted, all but dead, unable to do anything but think and reflect, for four centuries. Over that time, I realized about myself all that I have just told you, and it sickened me. I believe--I hope--that I have purged the madness and evil from myself, and I set myself a similar goal for my return. When I returned, when I was rescued, I vowed that I would purge the Decepticon Army as well, and return them to their former glory. And then, after a cold eternity in the void, my wish was answered. I encountered a vessel of the Cylon Empire, and, fascinated by my mechanical complexity, they picked me up. My wounds had healed over the centuries, just as my mind had; all I required to be fully revived was energy. The Cylons, in their attempts to disassemble and examine me, provided me enough to become ambulatory again. I attempted to be diplomatic with them, but they only responded with violence, leaving me no choice but to answer them in kind. The engine core of their ship provided me with all the power I needed to return to Cybertron.
HARBINGER Megatron's day of combat was not over yet, however. After undergoing repairs for the injuries sustained in his battle with Shockwave and his loyalists, he found himself locked in mortal combat with his most surprising enemy yet - Galvatron, recreated yet again by Unicron. In the ensuing combat, Megatron found himself blinded, and was saved by the intervention of a human who, in the ensuing battle, became his binary partner, 3WA agent Priss Morgan. Galvatron was destroyed by the newly-bonded team.
While Megatron underwent repairs for -that- battle, Optimus Prime arrived on Cybertron and went to meet with the Decepticon leader. Not long after that meeting, a small group of Decepticons under the ad-hoc command of Windrazor broke away from the new Decepticon order and departed from Cybertron, calling themselves the Imperial Decepticons and vowing to return and take Cybertron some day.
A resurrected Starscream, who had spent the intervening time existing as a cybernetic 'ghost' within the computer system of the Wedge Defense Force super-dimensional fortress Wayward Son, appeared on the scene shortly thereafter, to maximize the shock value of Megatron's day. By the end of that day, the Army of the Decepticons had allied themselves with the Autobots, and Cybertron looked forward to its first real period of unity in millennia.
First, though, it would have to face its greatest challenge.
UNICRON'S REVENGE On October 4, 2412, Unicron reappeared over Cybertron, bent on the final destruction of his ancient enemy's children. This time, the Transformers knew he was coming, defenses were dug in, and the entire planet was on alert. Against Unicron's size and power, all of that amounted to nothing at all.
In the ensuing battle, the combined Transformer defenses accounted for Unicron's minions. Scourge, the master of the Sweeps, was shot down by Martin 'PCHammer' Rose; Cyclonus was slain by the newly-bonded binary team of Starscream and WDF General Patricia 'Terror' Currier. Megatron, wielding the weapon the Constructicons had made him from the remains of the Hammer of Primus, succeeded in seriously wounding Unicron, but it seemed as if nothing could stop him. The Autobot Matrix of Leadership, still a pale shadow of its former glory after resurrecting Optimus Prime, seemed a faint hope indeed, but, at the eleventh hour, Prime used it anyway.
The result was astonishing. Used in Megatron's presence for the first time, the Autobot Matrix caused the Decepticon leader's components to reconfigure and release a prize that no living Transformer, including himself, had known he possessed - the long-lost Decepticon Matrix of Leadership, its power untapped and undimmed throughout its career. Scorponok had hidden it in the last place he thought anyone would ever be able to look - within the body of his ablest lieutenant.
Megatron sought to release that power as a weapon against Unicron, and, as is wont to happen on Cybertron in times of crisis, something amazing happened.
UNTIL ALL ARE ONE The interaction of the released Autobot and Decepticon Matrices created an energy field that surrounded Cybertron, drawing in every Transformer it touched. As the field contracted, it brought all the functional Transformers on Cybertron together, causing them to transform into completely new shapes, until at last they all fused together into a single huge entity, equal in size to Unicron and possessed of the combined firepower of the whole Transformer race.
This entity - the embodiment of Primus himself - proceeded to win the eons-old battle between himself and Unicron, destroying his ancient enemy.
Victorious at last, Primus gave himself up to the universe, disintegrating again into the thousands of smaller beings who make up the Transformer race. The echoes of his brief reappearance, though, will continue to resound in the collective Transformer consciousness for millennia to come.
RECONSTRUCTION As this work goes to press, Cybertron, under the governorship of the Autobots, with the Decepticons back in their rightful place as the true military service of the Transformer race, is picking up the pieces. The damage done by Unicron's final assault will take years to erase, but if there is one thing the people of Cybertron are good at, it is reconstructing war-damaged areas. Megatron now serves with the 3WA, having left the able and courageous Thunderwind in command of the Decepticons. Optimus Prime still leads the Autobots, a position that, today, makes him Cybertron's effective head of state. Peace and unity, it seems, have returned to Cybertron at last - a unity made all the more poignant by the revelations the Transformers have recently endured about themselves and their gods.
As for Windrazor and his Imperial Decepticons, nothing more has been heard of them since their departure from Cybertron, but no one expects them to stay hidden forever. When they inevitably return, the Transformers of Cybertron will be ready.
On Cybertron as perhaps nowhere else in the galaxy, life goes on.