Released: June 27, 2012
The newly revived Fortress Maximus is being interviewed by Rung. Despite the psychologist's best efforts, Max refuses to talk about the horrific torture Overlord put him through. Rung is reluctantly forced to end the session.
Meanwhile, as Swerve's, everyone is relaxing, getting gently drunk, despite Ultra Magnus arresting Swerve for serving drinks without a license. Trailbreaker, feeling Fortress Maximus is overhyped, starts complaining about him, as the guy walks in. Despite the very drunk Trailbreaker's rambling, he doesn't respond. Instead, he shoots Pipes. He then goes on a rampage around the ship, shooting several other 'bots, and then holing himself up in Rung's office. Rodimus is for once reluctant to act, since he doesn't want to risk Rung's life a second time. Things turn worse when Blaster manages to patch into the camera in Rung's room, and they find he was talking to a patient when Fort Max came in. And because things weren't bad enough, it's Whirl.
Using his typical display of charm and people skills, Whirl tries to find out whether the already violent Max really is going to kill somebody in typical Whirl-style - by putting his own life in danger. Rung notices the Autobots watching him, and turns on the microphone in his thumb, before trying to determine what Max's motivation is. As it turns out, he's pissed off at the fact it took Prowl three whole years to send Wreckers to Garrus-9, where he was being relentlessly tortured by Overlord. Knowing Rodimus is listening, he demands that he turn the ship around and go back to Cybertron. As Whirl and Rung point out, by telling him what to do, he's made absolutely sure Rodimus isn't going to (though calling him "Hot Rod" doesn't help). Then, Fortress notices Rung's microphone, and rips it out.
In the med bay, Ratchet and First Aid note the casualties of Fortress' shooting spree, with Ratchet noting he only shot five people, and only those five, not the people they were with. As Ratchet notes, his targets weren't random. They were chosen, specifically because their blue colours match that of Overlord (and Whirl is also blue).
Three hours later in Rung's office, Whirl is getting bored of arguing with and insulting Max. Max, however, is finally curious as to why Whirl is such a mess. For all his talk, this is one thing Whirl doesn't want to discuss, so Max threatens Rung instead. Rung tries to explain that he has a duty of care, but Whirl relents, and explains that regular sessions with Rung are part of his probation on board the Lost Light. He then adds that he and Fortress aren't so different, something Max takes offence to. Whirl angrily retorts that before he was the 'nutjob' everyone knows, he defied the Functionists and left his old job to start a business as a watchmaker. Unfortunately he was so successful that when he refused to pay for protection, his business was destroyed by thugs. After that he started hanging out with a bad crowd, something that got him noticed by even worse people, and when he refused to follow questionable orders, he was persuaded by Empurata. As Max grows increasingly interested, Rung picks up one of his models, and starts doing something with it. He's sending a message to Rodimus.
Outside, Swerve and Rewind are on punishment duty, replacing all the rivets on the ship, though Swerve takes it in his stride, knowing Rodimus will likely ignore Magnus and let him keep the bar. He then asks Rewind why he's on punishment duty. Rewind explains that Red Alert found some data disks of his, the ones he bought from Swindle back on Cybertron, and reported Rewind to Rodimus for what he found. Swerve immediately starts asking what they were. As Rewind explains, they were snuff movies, though he refuses to explain why exactly he was watching them. Any further conversation is halted by Rodimus calling in. He's got a job he needs the two to do.
Whirl, meanwhile, continues with his story, explaining how he wound up in law enforcement, and how it all went to hell when he was told to kill a prisoner (Megatron). His superior Orion Pax made such a fuss that the incident couldn't be ignored, but Whirl was the one who ended up taking the heat. Years later he was recruited to the Autobots, until joining the Wreckers. Rung exclaims surprise, given he never said any of this before. Whirl just retorts that Rung never threatened to shoot a friend of his. Max asks why Whirl was kicked out of the Wreckers. As it turns out, it was because he'd tried to mercy kill the comatose Springer, until Roadbuster caught him and had him kicked out. And now Whirl's finished, Max realises that the ship hasn't changed course at all, and starts pointing his gun at Whirl again. In order to delay him, Rung pleads for Max to remain calm, even as Whirl gleefully confuses the situation by encouraging him to pull the trigger.
Ratchet informs Rodimus about his findings, just as Rung works it out himself, that Max's trauma stems from his torture at Overlord's hands. Outside, Rewind and Swerve had reached the window to Rung's office. As it turns out, Rodimus wants them to shoot Max. With Rewind unable to take the shot, the rivet gun is given to Swerve. Rewind, meanwhile, uses his projector to show security footage from G-9. It's enough to send Maximus into a breakdown, with Rung assuring him it's over. Unfortunately, Rodimus is unwilling to take the chance, and orders Swerve to fire. The shot misses Fortress Maximus and headshots Rung instead. Whirl uses this as a distraction to knock Max out.
Later on, Drift and Rodimus talk, with Drift expressing his concerns about the security chief, and how he spends far too much time acting on his paranoia rather than doing his job. As he says this, Red Alert steals a drill from Ore's corpse, travels to the Sparkeater's prison, and drills. He finds a room, and inside is Overlord, muttering "kill me" over, and over and over.
This issue contains examples of:
- All for Nothing: Played for Laughs. Ultra Magnus makes Tailgate study the relevance of a semi-colon in a clause of the Autobot Code for seven hours. Turns out it wasn't relevant at all.
- An Arm and a Leg: The flashback shows Overlord having already removed some of Fortress' limbs with a chainsaw, just because.
- Aw, Look! He Really Does Care About People: After Whirl's monologue about his Start of Darkness, Rung comments that Whirl was never this open during Rung's sessions with him. Whirl's response?Whirl: Well you never threatened to shoot a friend of mine!
- Blatant Lies: Most of what Fortress Maximus says in his sessions with Rung.
- Boom, Headshot!: On the hostage.
- Butt-Monkey: Pipes gets a little bit shot, being the first victim of Maximus' rampage.
- Chromedome identifies who's transforming just by sound, something Swerve claimed he could do back in issue #2.
- Back in the last issue, Red Alert mentioned Rewind had been looking for something in his quarters that he'd never find. And in this issue, it's mentioned the paranoid head of security found gory recordings in Rewind's quarters, hence why he's on rivet duty.
- One of Fortress' flashbacks shows Overlord cutting the guys' limbs off. When Fortress was found by the Wreckers in Last Stand, he had been missing all of them. We mercifully don't see the deed itself.
- Cannot Keep a Secret: Swerve, in spades.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The golden discs Rewind acquired, we find out what they are here, but not why he bought them in the first place.
- During Fortress' flashback to his torture, Overlord mentions stories of something being buried under Aequitas. While this might seem like a throwaway line, or Overlord getting some facts mixed up, it will eventually turn up again... several years later.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Ore's corpse.
- Child Soldiers: Whirl casually mentions Fort Max is a "warborn". War is all the guy's known, and he's not the only one. And yet no-one considers this might have something to do with his breakdown.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: At least part of what Overlord subjected Fort Max to, and not for any specific reason. He just wanted to.
- Cryptic Background Reference: Simanzi gets mentioned by a plastered Trailbreaker.
- Did Not Think This Through: As both Rung and Whirl point out, ordering Rodimus to do anything will never work.
- Dirty Coward: Brainstorm claims he tried to stop Fortress Maximus. The panel in question shows him cowering terrified in a corner.
- Epic Fail: Fortress Maximus is a big 'bot, and yet Swerve completely fails to hit him, while blowing up Rung's entire head. Well, Swerve did try to warn Rodimus...
- Hostage Situation: Fort Max takes Rung and Whirl hostage in an attempt to get Rodimus to turn the ship around and go to Garrus-9.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Overlord is bound and has his weapons removed, which makes killing himself impossible.
- In Vino Veritas: Trailbreaker gets drunk, and starts making disparaging remarks about Fortress Maximus, then tries to cover himself when the guy comes in.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Fortress Maximus's initial method of taking out Whirl, and Whirl's eventual method of taking down Fort Max. Even done using the same pipe.
- Jerkass: Whirl, who refuses to stop talking even when Fortress is threatening to kill him, most likely to test the likelihood of Max using deadly force.Whirl: Seriously, all of this is a bitit's a bit pathetic though, isn't it? Even for an epic, epic failure like you. I mean, not only do you practically beg the Decepticons to take G-9 off your hands, but you curl up into a ball the moment Overlor(Maximus pistol-whips Whirl)Whirl: Wow. If I'd known that was the best you've got, I'd have said something genuinely offensive.(Maximus pistol-whips Whirl again)
- No Indoor Voice: Siren. And yet someone let him be the ship's announcer.
- Not So Different: Whirl's opinion of himself and Fortress Maximus. In some twisted ways, he's right.
- Oh, Crap!: The reaction on the bridge when they realise that the other person in the room with Rung and Max is... Whirl.
- Properly Paranoid: Red Alert, as it turns out. The voice he's been hearing was real and it's Overlord.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Fortress Maximus goes on a psychotic rampage around the ship, shooting anybody who reminds him of Overlord.
- Shoot the Hostage: Accidentally - they were trying for Shoot the Hostage Taker, but Swerve isn't that good a shot.
- Snuff Film: Rewind's been smuggling them onboard. He's on rivet duty because Rodimus found out. (His aren't sexual, though, or at least that's not why he's watching them.)
- Spotting the Thread: Ratchet figures out what's Fortress's deal, as does Rung a few minutes later.
- Start of Darkness: Whirl explains why he's such a mess. He managed to do the impossible on Functionist Cybertron: he followed his dreams and became a clockmaker, instead of a job that had anything to do with turning into a helicopter. He was very good at it, too. Then he attracted enough of the wrong kinds of attention, and the Senate replaced his hands with crab-pincer-type gripping implements, which left him with very limited fine motor ability and a lot of resentment towards any form of authority.
- The Stinger: Revealed on the last page: that voice Red Alert was hearing underneath the ship? It's real. It's Overlord, who is supposed to be disassembled and sealed in a whiteout vacuum on Cybertron.
- Trauma Button: Fort Max is set off by the phrase "duty of care", which reminds him of how the Autobots did absolutely nothing to get him away from Overlord, and then by being directly reminded of Overlord. The first one sets off the rampage, the second one makes him freeze up enough for Whirl to stick a pipe through him.
It's okay. We're done here. No more for today.