Robot War 1984/85

By Omega Steve

The story of the Transformers began on their home planet of Cybertron more than four million years ago. This vast Saturn-sized world, circling Alpha Centauri, was inhabited by millions of sentient mechanical beings who had lived in peace and harmony for millennia.

To Megatron and his followers the peace-loving Autobots are fools and ripe for conquest!

However not everyone was content with the way of things. A former gladiator named Megatron was lusting for power and had begun to win followers to his vision of strength and conquest. For years they secretly grew in number and modified their bodies to gift them the ability to transform into vehicles, aircraft and weaponry. Until one day, without warning, they struck! The peace-loving Autobots (as the rest of the population were known) were caught totally unaware and began to take heavy losses. City after city fell to the marauders and the ruling High Council was powerless to repel this enemy within. The one member of the council with the foresight to see what must be done was Emirate Xaaron, and he persuaded his fellow elders to transfer leadership of Autobot army to a charismatic soldier named Optimus Prime. Under Prime's command the fractured Autobot army was moulded into an effective fighting force. They also gained the ability to transform an evenly-matched civil war raged for a thousand years. The conflict was so explosive that it shook Cybertron loose from its orbit and sent it spiralling into space.


Then came the fateful day when the planet faced an external threat, as it entered Earth's solar system and was due to pass through an asteroid belt. Prime gathered around 25 of his bravest warriors and ventured forth in a vast spaceship called The Ark to blast a safe passage through the asteroids. But the calculating Megatron learned of the plan and followed discretely in his own ship. Leaving his military commander aboard to co-ordinate the attack, Megatron and his forces waited for the Autobots to complete their mission and then boarded the Ark, intent on ambushing Prime and his troops when they were at their weakest. He would have succeeded had Prime not taken the decision to deny Megatron victory by setting the Ark on a collision course with the third planet of the system. The ship impacted into a dormant volcano in what would one day become North America and rendered everyone aboard inactive.

Shockwave transformed into his space gun mode and followed the ship down, intending to learn what had become of Megatron and his fellow Decepticons. He touched down in an anomalous region of Antarctica, known as the Savage Land, where dinosaurs still roamed. The Ark's computer detected his presence and resurrected five Autobots, giving them with the ability to transform into dinosaurs and dispatched them to battle Shockwave. The 'Dinobots', Slag, Snarl, Sludge, Swoop, and their leader Grimlock, succeeded in burying the Decepticon under tonnes of rock, but they were swallowed up by a tar swamp in the process.


Four million years passed and human life evolved to take possession of the planet Earth. In the year 1984 a freak eruption brought the Ark back to the surface and Auntie, the ship's computer, came online. She dispatched a probe to scan for life but it erred and mistook cars, planes and communications devices as the dominant life. Auntie then revived the Autobots and Decepticons and modified them with the ability to become Earthen machines when they transformed. The Decepticons fled Mt St Hillary in search of a potential fuel source and raw materials to build a new headquarters. They raided the Harrison nuclear power plant in Oregon and stole quantities of metal which they sculpted into a castle-like structure. But the advanced machines had little knowledge of the foreign technology and were unable to siphon fuel from their acquisitions.

Meanwhile the Autobots had also arisen and spent some time studying satellite pictures of bustling highways, and decided that the planet was bursting with mechanical life. Optimus Prime said they had a duty to protect these beings from the evil of the Decepticons and a small group, led by Prowl, was dispatched to blend in and find out more. They journeyed to a 'drive in movie' where Bumblebee bumped fenders with a car containing 17-year-old Buster Witwicky, his girlfriend Jessie, and odd man out 'O'. Buster got out to remonstrate with the driver of this careless VW Beetle and was surprised to find nobody at the wheel. Suddenly, Starscream, Thundercracker and Skywarp swooped down and attacked, badly wounding Bumblebee. His fellow Autobots reverted to robot mode and returned fire, as hundreds of screaming humans ran for their lives! Buster heard the injured Bumblebee whining in pain, and drove him to the safety of his father's auto repair shop.

The wounded Bumblebee reveals his true self to Buster and Sparkplug Witwicky.

Sparkplug Witwicky thought his son had turned over a new leaf and developed an interest in fixing cars, but was gob-smacked when Bumblebee spoke and pleaded for help! He repaired the stricken Autobot and stopped him leaking fuel, then as trust developed between the tiny warrior and the humans, they (or rather Sparkplug) offered to help the Autobots to convert gasoline into a fuel they could use. Bumblebee radioed Optimus Prime with the developments, and a convoy of Autobots set off for the auto garage. The Decepticons, meanwhile, learned of the meeting through their super-spy Ravage, and they gate crashed the party, intent on capturing Sparkplug. Prime and Megatron clashed and Starscream took advantage of the distraction to snatch Sparkplug and take off. Buster pleaded for help but Prime and the others were too weakened from exertion and low fuel to mount a pursuit.

Starscream lead the way to the Decepticon base, and smirked at the thought that he had scored a significant victory in his long-term effort to persuade his comrades that he would make a better leader than Megatron. His commander realised this and vowed to keep a close eye on Starscream, but in the meantime Sparkplug would be forced to aid the Decepticon cause by coming up with a formula to convert Earthen fossil fuels. The Autobots returned to the Ark to plan a rescue mission and it was then that they learned of a Transformer signal that originated in rural England. Prime lead a small task force consisting of Jazz, Mirage and Trailbreaker to the UK and they befriended a human boy named Sammy Harker, and learned the legend of the Man of Iron. He was a metal giant who appeared in medieval times but had not been seen for 800 years. The Man of Iron (in reality an Autobot) was revealed to be the protector of another Transformer named navigator, who lay dormant within their craft underground and contained the location of Cybertron. But in the resulting battle with the Decepticons both the Man of Iron and Navigator were destroyed.


Returning to America, both sides were plunged into crisis when Brawn was electrified and went mad. He turned on his fellow Autobots and caused a collision on the streets that left a human motorist dead. At the same time Starscream hatched a plot to unseat Megatron, by attacking an airbase in the intention of luring the Autobots into battle and the Decepticons to his side. But he was forced to dispose of Ravage (unsuccessfully as it turned out) to preserve the plan, and was attacked by Megatron and the very troops he hoped to command. He demanded trial by combat as an alternative to execution and was pitted against a recovered Brawn, who was anxious to redeem himself. Starscream won the resultant duel and redeemed himself, but Brawn's destruction was later revealed to be one of Mirage's illusions.


Shortly afterwards the American media had got wind of an invasion of giant robots and had gathered en mass at a safe distance from Castle Decepticon, along with a substantial presence of United States military. The newspaper photographer Peter Parker was dispatched to the scene, and as his alter-ego Spider-Man he made contact with the grumpy veteran Autobot called Gears. Together they infiltrated the castle and rescued Sparkplug, but Gears was sent plummeting hundreds of feet to his doom by Megatron! His Autobot comrades took the pieces of him back to the Ark where Ratchet revived him just long enough for Gears to inform the others that Sparkplug had provided Megatron with the fuel he wanted. Huffer was incensed by this 'treachery', especially as Autobots were being injured trying to help humanity. In his rush to escape Sparkplug suffered a heart attack, and Ratchet transformed into ambulance mode and whisked him away to hospital with Buster accompanying them.

Huffer informed Optimus Prime that Ratchet had discovered an account in the Ark's memory banks about of the creation of the Dinobots and had dispatched a probe to the Savage Land. Soon afterwards the Decepticons invaded the Ark and a demented Auntie came online and magnetised the Autobots and Decepticons to the walls of the ship. Ravage and Windcharger had to join forces to find a way past Auntie's muscle-bound-enforcer, Guardian, and pull the plug on the computer. Windcharger then used his magnetic abilities to repel Megatron from the Ark, and the Decepticons retreated to refuel and plan their final assault.


Optimus Prime knew the Decepticons would be back and at full fighting strength thanks to Sparkplug's fuel. He risked a final throw of the dice by ordering the Autobots to transfer their remaining fuel to five champions - Huffer, Bluestreak, Mirage, Ironhide, and himself. They mounted a valiant 'last stand' but were overwhelmed by superior numbers and Megatron stood on the brink of victory. But it turned out that Sparkplug had given the Decepticons poisoned the fuel and the effects kicked in with spectacular timing, causing them all to double-up in pain and fall to the ground. Prime and the others got to their feet and thanked their lucky stars... just as Shockwave (newly revived by Ratchet's probe) roared into view and blasted them all into unconsciousness.

Here began the 'new order' of Shockwave's rule. The one-eyed walking computer had concluded that Megatron's command of the Decepticons was seriously flawed (after all they were almost wiped out after by a human who tricked them). Logic dictated that new leadership was required, so when Megatron woke up manacled to a repair system in the Ark, he was given a stark choice to accept demotion or be executed. He chose the former but was seething with anger on the inside and was determined to have his revenge.

Buster discovers the shocking fate of Optimus Prime - now a helpless prisoner!

Over at Portland Hospital, a recovering Sparkplug Witwicky made Buster promise not to have anything more to do with the Autobots. Buster tearfully agreed but intended to accompany Ratchet to the Ark to say goodbye. When they got close to Mt St Hillary they spotted Rumble and Frenzy guarding the entrance to the Ark. Buster argued that his diminutive size gave the best chance of sneaking past the guards and discovering what was going on. He went inside and found all of the deactivated Autobots hanging lifeless from a ceiling like slabs of meat, and pushed to discover Optimus Prime's head separated from his body! Amazingly Prime was still alive and he implored Buster to disconnect a pair of cables from his head and attach them to Buster's. The youth did as he was asked and was instantly electrified and rendered unconscious!

Meanwhile Shockwave set off to capture a sophisticated off-shore oil drilling platform owned by the billionaire GB Blackrock. During the attack a young electronics genius named Josie Beller was badly injured and it would later prove to be a fateful moment. For now Shockwave returned to the Ark and was ambushed by Megatron, who was desperate to destroy his usurper and reclaim leadership of the Decepticons. But the attack was premature and foolish. Megatron was nowhere near full strength and was easily defeated. Rather than terminating his rival, Shockwave carried him back to the Ark as an example to the others of the fate of all who would oppose the new regime.


Buster regained consciousness and reported back to Ratchet (neglecting to go into details of the curious encounter with Prime). Ratchet left his human friend in the care of some campers and, after seeing the Decepticons depart to a new base (none other than the Blackrock Aerospace Facility annexed by Soundwave and Laserbeak) he decided it would be safe to venture into the Ark. Once inside he realised everything Buster had said was true and even the great Optimus Prime was defeated! Optimus beckoned Ratchet to come forward and told him he was the last Autobot and must find a way to defeat Megatron (who had remained at the Ark on guard duty). The medic and the megalomaniac clashed and Ratchet realised he was badly out of his depth. He could not best Megatron physically but perhaps he could outsmart him. He offered to journey to the Savage Land, reactivate the Dinobots and use them to destroy Shockwave. In return Megatron would agree to turn the Ark over to Ratchet. The Decepticon accepted the proposal, more out of a desire to relieve his boredom than anything. He had little faith that Ratchet would be successful but he could always destroy him later, and naturally Megatron had no intentions of upholding his end of the bargain.

Ratchet commandeered a Mobile Autobot Repair Bay (MARB) and flew to Antarctica and the strange pocket of jungle where dinosaurs still roamed. He succeeded in freeing Slag from the tar pit and probed his mind to learn more of the Dinobots' battle with Shockwave four million years ago. He transmitted the images to Megatron to make him believe that Shockwave was destroyed, and then sent the Dinobots to lay in wait at the rendezvous point, and reveal themselves at Ratchet's signal. The Dinobots battled Megatron on the ski slopes but were defeated, so it fell to Ratchet to finally become a warrior and shoulder-charge his enemy, hoping to carry them both over a cliff. Instead Megatron absorbed the impact and stayed firm. He was impressed by Ratchet's bravery and said it would make killing him all the more honourable, but the rocks gave way under him and he shrunk to gun mode as he fell and was swallowed up by the snow.


Ratchet and the Dinobots began their journey on foot back to the Ark, with Grimlock encountering human life on the way, and being surprised by the reaction he got. Ratchet recounted a story from the early days of the war on Earth to illustrate how humans are unable to distinguish between Autobot and Decepticon. It was the tale of how the Decepticons destroyed a dam and the Autobots saved a settlement from being overrun with water, only to get no love from the suspicious humans. Swoop flew ahead to the Ark where he was battered by Guardian! It turned out the muscle-bound Autobot droid had been reprogrammed by Shockwave to guard the base against intruders, and was laden with explosives. As Ratchet began to revive his Autobot comrades, Guardian burst in. Swoop regained consciousness and learned that Guardian was a ticking time bomb. So he transformed to his bird mode and airlifted Guardian miles away, but was caught up in the resultant explosion and presumed destroyed.

His sacrifice allowed Ratchet to complete his repairs and all of the Autobots except Sunstreaker were successfully repaired. Prowl assumed command in the absence of Optimus Prime and the first priority was to secure a source of fuel. To this end Jazz made contact with GB Blackrock (a man with many reasons to resent the Decepticons) and he offered to keep the Autobots supplied with converted gasoline in return for protection. However Blackrock's paralysed employee, Josie Beller, was in no mood for getting cosy with 'robots', and had turned herself into a living weapon called Circuit Breaker! Coated in microchips and metal she overcome her paralysis and was able to fly using magnetism and unleash bursts of electricity. When Starscream and Frenzy attacked Blackrock's giant laser and the Autobots stepped in, Circuit Breaker attacked both sides (the good guys more so) and then departed vowing to destroy all the Transformers.


GB was given a tour of the Ark by Prowl, and revealed that one of the phones in his aerospace plant was bugged. It could provide a way to eavesdrop on the Decepticons, who were currently occupying the plant. The Autobots learned that Shockwave was planning to extract the Creation Matrix (a mystical program that gives life to new Transformers) from Prime's mind. He had already created six new warriors called the Constructicons, and human slaves were busy making a super plane called Jetfire. The Constucticons and Soundwave left the base to build a massive transmitter dish capable of making contact with Cybertron. When the Autobots attacked the Constructicons combined to form a titan known as Devastator, and Huffer hesitated allowing Soundwave to complete his transmission.

Buster uses the Matrix to take control of Jetfire and make him an Autobot.

Meanwhile Buster Witwicky began to realise that Optimus Prime had transferred something very powerful to his mind. All of a sudden he had gained the ability to disassemble, repair and control complex machinery with single thought. Prime had passed the Matrix to him in a bid to prevent it falling into Decepticon hands. Although Shockwave had been able to use the remaining vestiges in Prime's mind to give life to the Constructicons there was nothing left to activate Jetfire. So the Decepticon launched an immediate investigation, and probed Rumble's memories of his time on guard duty to draw out an image of Buster sneaking into the Ark. He dispatched Laserbeak and the remote controlled Jetfire to capture Buster. But the Autobots also learned of the developments and sent Bumblebee and Bluestreak to protect their human friend. They were no match for Jetfire and it fell to Buster to unleash the Matrix and take Jetfire apart then reassemble him to serve the Autobots.

Bumblebee made a plan and Buster piloted Jetfire to the Decepticon base, intending to trick the Decepticons into thinking he had been captured, and then use Jetfire to rescue the head of Optimus Prime. But the US air force intercepted them, and as Jetfire ducked and swerved Buster was rendered unconscious.


He awoke to find himself strapped to an operating table, and was powerless as Shockwave (who had by now discovered the Autobot's listening device) decided to set a trap. He programmed Jetfire to drop a fake Prime's head in a swamp, and the Autobots retrieved it and connected it to their leader's body. As soon as it was in place, the decoy head commanded Prime's body to attack its fellow Autobots and Soundwave and the Decepticons arrived to complete the ambush. Just when things looked bleak Buster exerted control over Jetfire and ordered him to punch-out Shockwave. He reprogrammed Jetfire to take the real Prime to the battle scene. Optimus was rejoined with his body and defeated the Decepticons single-handed. Shockwave flew to confront him and the two leaders battled, with Prime gaining the upper hand and throwing his enemy into the swamp, where he sank. The Autobots implored Optimus to destroy Shockwave while he was helpless, but instead he rushed back to the aerospace plant to free Buster, and after he was reassured of his safety, he took back the Matrix.

The leaderless Decepticons fled back to their original castle fortress to lick their wounds, and Prime grappled to come to terms with the trauma of the last few months. He indulged his debt to Buster by wearing a Santa's outfit on Christmas Eve, and caused whispers of alarm among his followers. Circuit Breaker came back on the scene and was found herself feared and hated by her fellow humans, despite saving a girl from a frozen lake. She retaliated by attacking Jazz but spared him for a second time when Buster reminded her that it was Christmas Day. Both factions ended the year uncertain of what lay ahead.

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