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Comic Book / Transformers: TransTech

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"Greetings, obviously inferior yet inexplicably respected alien lifeforms."
Shockwave, summing up the typical TransTech attitude towards "offworlders".

Back in 2001, Hasbro was gearing up for a Transformers series to follow after Beast Machines. It likely would have continued the storyline on a newly technorganic Cybertron, in CGI animation, and initial designs were made for a toyline that played off the organic/mechanic hybrid idea in aesthetics that were unique compared to previous Transformers designs.

Well, the planned show and toyline never happened. Hasbro ended up scrapping the idea, and instead ported over the Japanese Car Robots to serve as a filler until Armada was ready. Transtech thus seemed to be a lost idea, doomed to the failed prototype dustbin.

Until, in 2008, Fun Publications "rescued" the concept, keeping the design aesthetic, but spinning it into a wholly different universe for their own Timelines fiction. (But not toyline.)

The universe they created was one where, unique in The Multiverse, the Autobots and Decepticons never suffered a civil war. Instead they formed a society where the two factions could interact peaceably, channeling their efforts into perfecting themselves mentally and technologically. Their universe is also strangely receptive to other dimensions, leaving them able to serve as dimensional caretakers, controlling and receiving "bleeds" containing travelers from those dimensions. As a result, the giant city of Axiom Nexus was built, in order to provide the regular stream of "offworlders" with tourism, services, and safety, until they return to their home universes. Some even decide to stay and reside permanently—after all, when you're from one of the many war-torn universes, why not stay somewhere that you can instead live in relative quiet and peace?

...well. That's what your helpful tour guide tells you when you first arrive, anyway.

In actual fact, the TransTech universe has its fair share of in-fighting; it just takes the form of political maneuvering, Corporate Warfare, gang warfare, and plain old personal crime instead of outright war. And most of the TransTechs don't think very highly of their "inferior" offworlder guests. And there's the fact that the TransTechs have traded the mech fluids flowing freely for the red tape flowing freely, with just about everything in existence having unending amounts of Byzantine rules and bureaucratic agencies attached to it. And Primus help you if they label you as a "unit of interest"...

This series/universe provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Evil: Shockwave describes himself as morally ambiguous instead of outright evil.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: The nicer administrators and upholders of Axiom Nexus' omnipresent bureaucracy.
  • Born Lucky: Jackpot, who has a tendency to escape certain doom via ridiculously improbable means.
  • Bothering by the Book: The good guys (or as good as this universe gets, anyway) have no qualms about playing the omnipresent bureaucracy to their advantage.
  • Broken Bird: Crystal Widow. Beautiful, lonely, and bitter due to being separated from her lover in her home universe, since the TransTechs refuse to let her go home.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Much like Bothering by the Book above, Cheetor and his (good) police force usually follow the rules; they just don't always follow them with the methods or interpretation their superiors would wish.
  • Casanova Wannabe / Handsome Lech: Jackpot loves the ladies, but the feeling is not mutual. (It's not clear if this is because they think he's not attractive or if it's due to the fact that he's a bit of an egotistical jerk.)
  • Character Blog: During the early 2010's, there was an "Ask Vector Prime" on Facebook which had him answering questions about the multiverse. He was briefly kidnapped by Sideways who insulted everyone until one question which called Sideways Tarantulas and freed Vector Prime. After the final question (explaining what was up with Optimus Primal being described as a "spirit guide" for 2001 Robots in Disguise Optimus Prime in the Air Attack Optimus Primal toy), Vector Prime left because of Nexus Prime's actions in the Shattered Glass finale. As such, the blog went through guest hosts, each of whom were laid off after some time:
    • Grimlock - Grim Grams - Plummeting ratings
    • Swindle of Swindle, Swindle and Swindle - Swindle's Spiel - Kept advertising his store's wares.
    • Sentinel Minor - Sentinel Shouting - Freaked out upon learning he was talking with organics and pulled a Screw This, I'm Outta Here.
    • Bumblebee - Bee's Backtalk - Abruptly ended up on a battlefield as everything exploded around him.
    • Cy-Kill - Renegade Rhetoric - Cheetor confronted him after casually admitting to bombing a government building but Cy-Kill and his new Renegades escaped to their own dimension.
    • Sky-Byte - Shark Sonnets - In Haiku, no one liked this and after delierving one final Haiku, left to work at The Blue Deployer.
    • Spacewarp - Spacewarp's Log - Mostly until she could leave Axiom Nexus.
    • After that, Vector Prime returned, though thanks to Nexus Prime's actions, Vector was now an inhabitant of Axiom Nexus. The third-to-last post was an audio recording with him and Scorpia having made it to Nebulos and asking the readers to keep moving forward. The second-to-last post was to alert readers about the final Go-Bots story. Then, the final post was to tell readers about a non-canon Ask Vector Prime hosted on Tumblr.
  • Characterisation Marches On: The Axiom Nexus News Facebook pages continue a trend started by the "Around Cybertron" strips by having Rook (and, to a lesser extent, Andromeda) take a level in jerkass, going from being a heroic Intrepid Reporter to a slimy, paranoid and stubborn Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist. Other iterations, such as in Beast Wars: Uprising, continue this trend.
  • City of Adventure: Axiom Nexus
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Bulletbike and Ego definitely are, and there's a strong implication that There Are No Good Executives.
  • Crapsaccharine World: See the intro.
  • Darker and Edgier: You would think a universe where the civil war never happened would be light and cheery. You would be wrong. The lightest story is a romp that still is a fugitive chase involving a dead revolutionary, two Loveable Rogue Autobots framed for murder and being used as patsies by the police, and bloodthirsty gangsters. It goes through progressively darker stories to finally land on a first-person story of a mech going from being a Corrupt Corporate Executive to a Serial Killer.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Hubcap tricks Black Shadow into confessing to Gutcruncher's murder in front of Gutcruncher's revenge-obsessed gangster allies.
  • Evil Feels Good / Evil Is Easy: When the formerly law-abiding Bulletbike loses his ethical subroutines, he finds out that murder and theft are very easy—and empowering—methods of solving problems.
  • Evil... er... "Morally Ambiguous" Genius: Shockwave describes himself as such.
  • Fantastic Racism: The TransTechs look down on their multiversal visitors as being "lowtechs" and savages, with only a very few like Cheetor being sympathetic.
  • Frameup: Hubcap and Jackpot get framed for a gangster's murder by being in the wrong place at the wrong time and used as patsies by the police.
  • Friendly Enemy: More like friendly professional rivals, but shady businessman Cryotek and Officer Cheetor have a respect for each other.
  • Gilded Cage: If you're a unit of interest, the best you can hope for is being left to make your way freely in Axiom Nexus, so long as you never try to leave.
  • Grand Theft Me: Bulletbike is convinced that his spark has been transplanted from his previous advanced body into a lowtech one, and someone else into his old body, even though there's no evidence that actually happened. Eventually turns out he's right, though by then it's far too late.
  • Hurricane of Puns: "Bee in the City" had some puns regards Isaac Sumdac's Bi-directional Unified Transit Terminal.
  • Hustler: Jackpot and Hubcap are Autobot examples, oddly enough.
  • Implacable Man: General Demolishor. Even after the GoBots and Crystal Widow throw everything they have at him, including Widow using her powers to run him through with an energon sword and essentially do the equivalent of freezing his blood solid, he still doesn't quit until he's finally arrested by an entire army. The fight takes up 6 pages of a 47-page prose story.
  • Insistent Terminology: Shockwave will have you know he's not "evil", he's "morally ambiguous".
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Axiom Nexus is essentially the in-universe embodiment of this trope. As the narrator from "Bee In The City" points out, the city is crawling with robots of all shapes and franchises. Even also from beyond Transformers, as there are cameos by everything from Starriors characters to Winslow from Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire.
    • There are also specific examples that form the focus of the plot in most of the stories:
    • The Facebook material has a few as well.
      • Hawk, the G.I. Joe leader, is a member of the Convoy, a multiversal fighting force.
      • Jem and the Holograms preformed benefit concerts on Axiom Nexus in order to gain civil rights for holomatter.
  • In the Back: Poor, trusting Skyfall...
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Flareup identifies Bumblebee of Transformers: Animated as a "kid-appeal yellow car type".
  • La Résistance: Alpha Trion and his followers are this against the TransTech. Not. It's actually a cover for trying to steal TransTech bodies and escape back to his home dimension to conquer it.
  • MacGuffin: The AllSpark key is actually called "a MacGuffin" during "Bee in the City".
  • Morality Chip: Most TransTechs have "conscience programming" called "clarity codecs" installed, which theoretically reward good behavior and cause punishing sensations for violent behavior. Though Cheetor had his and his partner cop's disabled so they could learn how to control themselves on their own, and Bulletbike's descent into serial-killing insanity shows what can lurk in some TransTechs' sparks under the control.
  • The Multiverse: The stories are essentially an attempt to turn the Continuity Snarl of the Transformers franchise into story fodder for a series.
  • My Rule Fu Is Stronger than Yours: Standard operating procedure for both the good and bad guys in Axiom Nexus.
  • Mythology Gag: Numerous. For instance, "Ego" is named after Starscream's name in France.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Optimus Prime is based on Barack Obama.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The meaner administrators and upholders of Axiom Nexus' omnipresent bureaucracy.
  • One-Winged Angel: General Demolishor, again, whose alternate mode essentially resembles a metal Eldritch Abomination.
  • Only Sane Man: Skyfall complains frequently about how messed up the universe, the people he's stuck with, and his ongoing quest are.
  • Playing with Syringes: Shockwave's job is pretty much to run evil... er... morally ambiguous experiments for Megatron on any units of interest with especially interesting technology. The methods are not pleasant.
  • Priceless Paperweight: Corrupt Corporate Executive Ego has a private collection full of ridiculously powerful devices from across the multiverse, which he uses as mere decoration.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: The entire plot of "I, Lowtech", essentially. While Bulletbike was never really a good guy, exactly, he did start out as a sane and (technically) law-abiding regular TransTech executive. Over the course of trying to figure out why he's now in a "lowtech" body, we watch through his POV as he descends from that sanity into becoming a serial killer utterly detached from reality.
  • Retcon: Andromeda - Axiom Nexus News Reporter is among the many sources that helps confirm that the Transformers Aligned Universe is indeed part of the larger Transformers multiverse.
  • Robo Speak: Used hilariously for Black Shadow's autonomous battle shell.
    "Expression of menace and unveiled hostility. ...Ironic yet mean-spirited quip."
  • Rules Lawyer: Anyone who wants to do more than just survive, good or bad, pretty much has to become one.
  • Running Gag: Every prose story has at least one person who complains that they "hate quantum". Also, "I'm not evil, I'm morally ambiguous."
  • Sanity Slippage: See Protagonist Journey to Villain.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Cheetor ticks off his bosses regularly while trying to help the offworlders, but his job is safe because nobody else wants it.
  • Urban Segregation: In very precisely-ordered degrees, ranging over a gradual spectrum from the upper class levels where the TransTechs live, to the utterly lawless Heap.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Jackpot and Hubcap eventually end up on an organic world where the inhabitants complain about these strange, pink, glowing energy things that have a tendency to explode. The two Autobots are very happy to graciously remove all of those nasty, horrible things for them.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Units of interest are never allowed to leave Axiom Nexus. And even those who can leave are sometimes sent to "an approved alternate reality" instead of their real home universe.