Transformers: X - Issue #1
A close-up of a computer screen. Maximal writing can be seen. It is translated at the bottom of the panel.
PNL: Earth. Circa 70,000 BC
Dialogue PNL: Colony Omicron: File Closed.
More of the same writing shown on the screen, but the ‘camera’ has zoomed out a bit, showing a set of green eyes glowing in the reflection of the screen.
Dialogue PNL: … eruption tore through a seam of a raw Energon. The Colony was destroyed and the planet was declared off limits to all by the Maximal High Council…
Transmetal Cheetor’s face is seen in the reflection of the screen. More Maximal writing is displayed.
Dialogue PNL: … sole survivor was found…
The same shot, but this time, Depth Charge’s face can be seen behind Cheetor’s, having walked up behind the snooping Maximal. Cheetor is startled.
Depth Charge: You won’t find anything in there, kid.
Cheetor is sitting at one of the computer terminals salvaged from the Axalon wreckage and setup inside the Ark cave. Cheetor has spun around in the seat to talk to Depth Charge who has walked off and out of shot.
Cheetor: I wasn’t… I just…
Link PNL: I want to know what happened. It says there was an explosion, but-
Depth Charge walks away from Cheetor. He has his back to Cheetor and the reader.
Depth Charge: If that’s what it says happened then that’s what happened.
Cheetor: But it’s not. You can tell me.
Depth Charge continues to walk away from Cheetor. Cheetor can be seen behind Depth Charge, whose torso and head is largely in focus.
Depth Charge: It ain’t some bedtime story -- wouldn’t want to scare your spots off, kid.
A similar shot as before, but Cheetor is now further in the distance as Depth Charge has continued to walk away. Depth Charge has a sombre look on his face, and is looking down towards the ground. Cheetor, though far away, is angry at being treated like a kid, and calls after Depth Charge.
Cheetor: I can handle it! And I’m not a kid!
Note: Panels on Pages 3 and 4 swap between the past and present. They will be notated accordingly.
(Present) Statek sits in his office, with his head in his hands, still distraught with the recent events.
PNL: Secret Maximal Research Facility.
Link PNL: Colony Omicron.
Link PNL: 164 AU.
Dialogue PNL (X): How many…
(Past) In a shadowy holding cell, a large figure (obscured in the darkness) moves towards the glass at the front of the cell. There are voices shouting outside his cell, but from this far back in the cell we can’t see where the voices are coming from or who they belong to.
Dialogue PNL: Its Spark has gone into arrest!
Dialogue PNL (2): Activate life-support procedures.
Dialogue PNL (3): It’s fading quickly!
(Present) Statek looks up, raising his head from his hands; his attention caught by the voice.
Dialogue PNL (X): How many are you willing to sacrifice?
(Past) The large figure moves closer to the front of the cell again, revealing more of the chamber outside the holding cell, but still not revealing where all the shouting is coming from.
Dialogue PNL: Stasis-Lock has failed!
Dialogue PNL (2): Prep for transfer.
Dialogue PNL (3): We’re losing it…
(Present) Statek gets up and walks into the larger chamber and towards the shadowy holding cell, but the large figure can’t be seen in the darkness.
Dialogue PNL (X): Prepared to send screaming back to the Allspark…
Statek: Please, don’t.
(Past) The large figure now stands right at the front of the cell, one hand pressed up against the glass. Through the glass we can see another holding cell. In it are three Maximal scientists in a flurry of action; one of them, Statek, is clearly in charge. They are standing over an operating table. On the table is the body of a large figure. They are trying to keep the large figure on the table alive with all manner of technology and such.
Statek: Get the R-Tank!
Maximal 1: It’s too late; the Spark has begun reintegration with the Allspark.
(Present) An angle from inside the holding cell looking out - Statek approaches it. The large figure still can’t be seen.
Dialogue PNL (X): I can hear their Sparks, calling out.
(Past) From inside the holding cell with the Maximal Scientists, the large figure on the table lies motionless. Statek, at the head of the table, his hands gripping the table, is hanging his head, having lost the Spark. The two other Maximals look to each other, concerned. Through the glass of this holding cell, we can see the other large figure in its holding cell, still with its hand pressed against the glass.
Maximal 2: It’s gone.
Statek: … Slag.
(Present) Statek stands at the glass. He looks up. From the shadows looms Protoform X, towering over Statek.
X: And my Spark calls back.
Depth Charge sits at a bar. It’s a nice looking bar, but there are only a couple of ‘bots in the whole place. A barman stands on the other side of the bar, engaging Depth Charge in conversation. There is a sunrise streaming through the vast windows of the bar.
Barman: I’ve gotta admit, this isn’t what I expected to be doing in my retirement.
Depth Charge: Funny, I always pictured you in a bar.
Depth Charge pushes his empty glass back to the barman, who is protesting about his lot in life.
Barman: Yeah, the one getting kicked out, not the one serving the drinks.
Depth Charge: Speaking of which…
The barman picks up the glass and refills it with dirty oil.
Barman: Don’t you miss it?
Depth Charge: Only on the slow days.
Depth Charge drains the glass in one go.
Barman: The smell of blaster fire. Explosions lighting up the night sky. We knew what it was to be alive then.
Link PNL: Now… I dunno.
Depth Charge’s radio crackles to life. He answers.
Radio PNL: Commander, this is Ravidus. We have a situation on one of the lower levels.
Depth Charge: On my way.
Depth Charge places his glass upside-down on the bar.
Depth Charge: You could join the Security Forces. Ex-military are in demand to show these young Maximals what to do.
Barman: Nah, I dunno how you do it.
Depth Charge gets up from his seat at the bar.
Depth Charge: I do it because I was asked.
Barman: Still taking orders.
Depth Charge and the barman shake hands, each of them smiling slightly. Further down the bar, a ‘bot can be seen trying to get the attention of the barman.
Depth Charge: Look who’s talking -- that bot’s been trying to get your attention since I walked in. Best not leave him waiting.
Barman: Get out of here; you’re lowering the class of the place. And leave a tip.
Depth Charge walks from the bar. The bar and the barman are in the background.
Depth Charge: A tip? Get a real job.
Barman: You always were a sourpuss.
Depth Charge (2): Next time, Gusher.
Barman (2): Hey, nobody calls me that anymore!
In the foreground, Statek sits crumpled on the floor, his back to the reader. He is clearly distraught. Protoform X looks down on him from inside his cell. He looms over him ominously.
X: I’ve only killed four; that last Spark takes your tally to 9, and yet I’m the one in the cage?!
Statek: I’m trying to understand nature; understand how-
X (2): Nature? Do you think anything about this is natural?
Statek (2): … create something… Something greater…
Same angle as Panel 1. Statek now looks up at Protoform X.
X: What if nature can’t be tamed? What if nature got it right the first time? What if the thing you’ve long desired to create was right there in front of you the whole time?
Statek: Something perfect…
Statek’s hand types into the access panel on the side of Protoform X’s cell. It beeps in agreence.
Statek: Something… beyond…
Link PNL: Something…
Dialogue PNL: Code Accepted.
A close-up of Statek’s face. A large pair of hands cradle Statek’s head, almost lovingly. Statek looks up, smiling.
An angle from behind Statek. Protoform X crushes Statek’s head between his two hands. He laughs maniacally.
Depth Charge walks into the Security Command Room for the Colony. Several other Officers are seated around computer screens monitoring security footage from around the Colony. Some screens show nothing but static. Depth Charge’s 2IC, Ravidus, sits over a comm-system interface, trying to talk to Statek, while another Officer talks to Depth Charge.
Depth Charge: What’s happening?
Officer: We’ve lost contact with downstairs. Statek isn’t responding.
Ravidus: Statek, Tusk -- this is Ravidus, please respond.
Depth Charge (2): Another bug in the comm-system?
Ravidus looks up from the comm interface, his brow furrowed. A dark voice comes over the comm.
Ravidus: I don’t think so. The cameras are glitching too. Tusk went down to che-
Dialogue PNL: Hello?
Depth Charge and Ravidus lean over the comm interface.
Ravidus: Tusk? Is that you?
Dialogue PNL: Oh, no. Tusk can’t come to the phone right now.
Depth Charge: X?
Protoform X leans over the clearly dead form of Tusk lying on the ground. X talks into the commlink on Tusk’s chest. In X’s hand is Tusk’s weapon.
X: You knew that box wouldn’t hold me forever. Now we’ll finally get to have that little dance, old friend.
Depth Charge slams his fist into the comm interface to turn it off.
Depth Charge stares at his hand, still imbedded in the interface.
Depth Charge: Begin a colony-wide evacuation.
Ravidus (2): And tell the locals what?
Depth Charge (2): Tell them to get the frack off this planet.
Depth Charge walks towards a bank of elevators as an emergency broadcast comes over the PA system of the Colony. Colonists look up and listen to the broadcast, puzzled.
Dialogue PNL: Attention -- Attention -- This is a priority one message…
Colonists suddenly begin to run in all directions, scared by the announcement. Depth Charge is nearer the elevators.
Dialogue PNL: The Colony is being evacuated -- Please make your way calmly to a designated evacuation point -- This is not a drill…
Depth Charge puts a key into a panel and opens the doors of an elevator.
Dialogue PNL: Repeat -- The Colony is being evacuated -- Please make your way calmly to a designated evacuation point…
Depth Charge stands in the elevator as the doors begin to close. Colonists are still running in every direction.
Dialogue PNL: This is not a drill…
(Flashback scene) The doors of an elevator open, revealing Commander Depth Charge. The hallway before the elevator is clean and bright. There are porthole windows showing the environment outside - we are underwater. The seabed can be seen, and there are one or two glowing crystals jutting out of the ocean floor - raw Energon crystals. Walking towards the elevator is the Maximal Scientist Statek.
Statek: Welcome, Commander. We’re delighted you could join us.
Depth Charge: Thrilled.
Statek (2): My name is Statek. I’m the Head of the Research division.
Depth Charge steps from the elevator and shakes hands with the smaller Maximal.
Statek: How are you enjoying your new assignment?
Depth Charge: Let’s just get on with this.
Statek (2): Very well.
Statek and Depth Charge walk down the hallway towards the rest of the facility. There are other passages leading off in other directions.
Statek: What have you been told of our work?
Depth Charge: Nothing good. The brief from the Council was exactly that.
Statek (2): Then I expect that you have a good many questions for me.
Depth Charge peers down another hallway. Other Maximal Scientists and Analysts are going about their business, carrying handheld data-tablets and so forth. Statek politely leads the way.
Depth Charge: Only one.
Statek: This way, Commander.
Statek leads Depth Charge down another hallway. More porthole windows line one side of it.
Statek: If your question is one of purpose, I would have thought, being a soldier yourself, that the answer was self-evident.
Depth Charge: A War-Machine.
Statek (2): I believe you’re paraphrasing the Council’s words there slightly, Commander.
Depth Charge looks down at Statek, studying him. They walk on.
Statek: “The creation of a warrior, capable of altering the course of a battle -- nigh a war -- singlehandedly.”
Link PNL: A pursuit that would spare the lives of countless others is undoubtedly a noble one, and one that our team takes great pride in.
Depth Charge stops in the doorway of a dimly lit room. He studies the old and unused equipment within. CR Tanks, operating tables and other medical equipment.
Statek: This whole facility was originally an underwater infirmary when the Mining here first went into operation.
Link PNL: To think -- the new recruits would have their exo-structures made waterproof and a more suitable alternate mode assigned by those old CR Tanks. It seems so old-fashioned.
Statek and Depth Charge walk on.
Statek: But now the facility serves as a home of discovery -- for unravelling the many mysteries that surround our very existence.
Statek and Depth Charge continue on down another corridor. An analyst passes them going in the opposite direction, his head buried in what he was reading on his data-tablet. Depth Charge looks at him.
Statek: Some of us consider our work to be the next step in the evolution of our species. I, however…
A close-up of Statek’s face, excited by what he is saying.
Statek: I am of the belief that we are in the deifying business -- the making of Gods.
Depth Charge, who is much taller than Statek, looks down on the scientist, with a worried expression.
Depth Charge: You’re not serious.
Statek: Resolutely. Not only will these Maximals outlive Cybertron itself, but they will be of a great intelligence, and of a supreme physical power.
Link PNL: Gods, Commander. Gods!
Statek and Depth Charge arrive at the large glass doors of what must be the main hub of the facility. It is well-lit and futuristic looking. Statek politely holds out a hand to usher Depth Charge in.
Statek: Would you like to meet one?
Depth Charge: Primus in a jar? Sure, why not.
Depth Charge stands at the centre of a facility’s main room. Branching off from it are holding cells and other rooms with scientific-looking equipment in them. Statek’s office is also a room adjoining this main chamber. There is one holding cell in total darkness.
Statek: He was originally a miner here during the War. As you’re probably aware, the Energon mined here is raw and emits a very potent radiation.
Link PNL: Today there are measures in place to protect the miners, but back then they weren’t as fortunate.
Link PNL: The radiation was found to cause a minor corruption of the neural-processors in some of the workers. It was thought to be manageable.
(Flashback within a flashback) Underwater, a large Transformer is lit up by torchlight of sorts. On the seafloor are the bodies of dead Transformers, torn apart, as well as raw Energon crystals growing out of the seabed. The large figure is still holding one of the bodies. He has a crazed, evil look on his face. His back in hunched and it’s as if he has an aversion to the light.
Dialogue PNL (Statek): The specimen first came to attention when a crew of miners failed to return from their shift. A rescue party was sent out and they found him -- alone -- surrounded by the dismembered bodies of his workmates.
Dialogue PNL (Statek)(2): He was brought in, analysed, and found to be suffering from a severe form of psychosis due to the radiation exposure. Under questioning, he claimed to have eaten his crewmates’ Sparks. Such an admission found him with a death sentence of his own.
(Part of the same Flashback) The large figure is strapped to an operating table of sorts, as smaller Maximals look over him, tools in hand. The large figure tries to thrash around.
Dialogue PNL (Statek): It was at this point that a secondary effect of the radiation was discovered. His Spark had formed a shell of assimilated Energon particles, protecting its integrity -- making it seemingly inextinguishable.
Link PNL: This research division was then setup to study the phenomena.
(Back to the original flashback scene)Statek leads Depth Charge towards the darkened holding cell. It appears to be empty, but it’s hard to make out anything in the shadowy interior.
Statek: We have no record of who he was prior to the incident so was thus dubbed Protoform X.
Depth Charge: Ominous title.
Depth Charge and Statek stand at the glass of the holding cell. Depth Charge is looking down at Statek.
Depth Charge: Has it ever tried to escape?
Statek: We take every precaution in ensuring his continued captivity.
A dark voice comes from the darkness before Depth Charge. The same shot as Panel 2 but this time Depth Charge is looking into the darkness instead of at Statek.
Dialogue PNL (X): Does that frighten you, Maximal? The thought of me loose in the universe?
Protoform X looms out of the darkness and up against the glass for the first time. Depth Charge stands his ground but Statek steps back quickly.
X: Fear is a wonderful thing. It spurs some into action, while others are rendered motionless, transfixed by the consuming terror…
Depth Charge walks away, leaving Protoform X pressed up against the glass.
X: I wonder which one you are… hoh-ho-ho-hah-ah-ha-ha!
Depth Charge: Cute.
Depth Charge leaves the main chamber and heads back out into the corridor. He’s seen enough. Statek follows along behind him, unsure as to what is happening.
Statek: Well I suppose that concludes our tour, Commander. Did you have any oth-
Depth Charge: Just one -- the same one I’ve had all along. Can it be killed?
Statek (2): Killed? I don’t understand.
Depth Charge walks on; Statek is still trailing behind him, attempting to placate the larger Maximal.
Depth Charge: Monsters that get kept locked up in the basement have a nasty habit of getting out.
Statek: But I assure you, Comma-
Depth Charge (2): And somewhere along the line, someone thought it would be a good idea to build a Colony on top of this little circus -- so humour me.
A close-up of Statek, who is thinking hard.
Statek: Well, possibly. His Spark has shown an astounding tolerance throughout all our testing. That has led some to speculate that under the right conditions his Spark is more likely to splinter than be extinguished.
Link PNL: That’s all hypothetical of course.
Depth Charge hammers on the button to call the elevator to the surface.
Depth Charge: The right conditions?
Statek: The use of a fine Energon blade -- a Scalpel for example.
An angle from down the corridor showing Depth Charge looking out one of the large windows into the underwater world. Large Energon crystals can be seen jutting out of the seafloor.
Depth Charge: What about something a little rougher?
Statek: Like what?
The exact same angle as Panel 5 on the previous page, but this time we’re back in the present. The large Energon crystals can still be seen out the window. The elevator doors open revealing Depth Charge, looking pissed. He is carrying his large blaster. The facility is clearly a few years older now and in need of a little repair. It’s no longer shiny and new like it was in the flashback.
Depth Charge steps from the elevator and raises his blaster and points it at the elevator.
He shoots the elevator. It bursts into flames and is taken well and truly out of commission.
A close-up of Depth Charge’s face, highlighted by the flames. He still looks really pissed.
Depth Charge: Knock knock, Creep.
Depth Charge raises his blaster in readiness as he walks down the corridor, away from the smouldering elevator. A dark voice echoes around the facility.
Dialogue PNL (X): Is blocking the only exit a standard military tactic? Locking yourself in here with me?
Depth Charge: Just so we’re not disturbed -- but then, you’ve been disturbed for a while.
Dialogue PNL (X)(2): Oh-hoh-ho… A battle of wits, is it? We should have done this years ago!
Depth Charge peers around a corner.
Dialogue PNL (X): Tell me -- How do you expect to kill me? All their poking and prodding failed to extinguish my Spark.
Depth Charge: I’m gonna cut your head off -- see if that works. It should slow you down at least.
An angle from behind Depth Charge. He walks down another corridor, ready to fire.
Dialogue PNL (X): Oohhh… I like you more and more.
Depth Charge: Where’s Statek?
Dialogue PNL (X)(2): He’s with his Gods.
Depth Charge walks into the main chamber of the facility. The bodies of Statek and Tusk can both be seen lying on the ground. But still no sign of Protoform X.
Depth Charge: I suppose he filled your head with his crazy ideas? Making a few new playmates for Primus.
Dialogue PNL X: I paid no attention to that worm.
Depth Charge (2): He was the only one keeping you safe.
Dialogue PNL (X)(2): Safe? From who? You? You and your little protests to the Council?
(Flashback) Depth Charge stands before the three members of the Maximal High Council - Silverbolt, Ironhide and Silverbolt. They are in their chambers back on Cybertron.
Prowl: From what Statek has told us, the subject in question is providing excellent data, and his confidence in the practical experimentation is increasing with each trial.
Depth Charge: It’s already cost four Protoforms their Sparks -- the War is long over but lives are still being lost. Is this what we fought so hard for? So we could stop killing Predacons and start killing our own?
(Back in the present) Depth Charge examines the open door of what was Protoform X’s cell.
Dialogue PNL (X): You told them this would happen -- that you’d have to clean up their mess -- the Council’s little janitor.
Link PNL: All too late for poor Tusk of course.
Link PNL: His Spark reeked of terror -- delectable!
Depth Charge leaves the chamber to search the rest of the facility.
Dialogue PNL (X): It’s your job to protect those on the surface; and those under your command. But what about those down here? Who was protecting them?
Depth Charge: Is that what this is all about?
Depth Charge walks down another corridor, still being taunted by the dark voice.
Dialogue PNL (X): This? Oh, no, this is just for fun!
Link PNL: Look at you -- all alone. The weight of responsibility crushing down on you. The pressures of duty…
A close up of Depth Charge’s face, his optics open wide.
Dialogue PNL (X): Uh-uh-uhh…
Depth Charge raises his hands, but is still gripping his blaster in one hand. Over his shoulder can be seen Protoform X, standing in front of the still smouldering elevator.
Depth Charge: Sorry, it’s out of order.
An angle seemingly from X’s POV. Depth Charge turns around slowly to face Protoform X. Depth Charge still has his hands raised. X has Tusk’s weapon pointed at Depth Charge.
X: That’s the wonderful thing about pressure. It pushes, and pushes… Looking for the smallest crack…
Same angle as previous, but X moves the blaster to be pointing at one of the big porthole windows.
X: And when it finds it…
A close-up of Depth Charge’s face, resolute.
X: I’m certain I’ll survive, but you… You’re not exactly made for the water.
Depth Charge: Try it. Or are you all talk?
Protoform X fires at the window, laughing maniacally as he does. Water bursts into the corridor.
X (Laughter): AHHH-HA-HA-HAAAAH-HHAA!
Depth Charge turns and runs from the torrent of water that is flooding the chamber. Protoform X is lost behind a wall of water.
Depth Charge throws himself around a corner as the water chases him.
He hammers an emergency bulkhead door release button.
The door lowers but water keep streaming in, filling the corridor Depth Charge is in, who gets knocked over by the torrent.
Finally the door closes, and Depth Charge is left panting, lying in water. An announcement comes over the PA system.
Dialogue PNL: Warning -- Hull Breach in Sector 5 -- Structural integrity down to 64%...
Depth Charge: Great.
Depth Charge looks out of a porthole window.
Dialogue PNL: Please evacuate the facility…
Depth Charge wades up a corridor.
Depth Charge leans on a doorway to rest.
A close-up of his face. He looks intrigued.
He enters the room. It is the room with the CR Tanks and operating tables Depth Charge first passed on his initial tour of the facility many years previous.
He walks up to one of the CR Tanks. It is offline and all its controls are dark and powerless.
A close up of Depth Charge’s hands on the controls. The controls light up.
Depth Charge smiles slightly, his face illuminated by the light from the console.
In the foyer of Colony Omicron, the PA announcements are still ringing out. The bank of elevators can be seen. Maximals are still running around, trying to find evacuation ships.
Dialogue PNL: Please make your way calmly to a designated evacuation point…
A rumbling comes from one of the elevator shafts. Some Maximals stop to look what is causing the rumbling. The elevator dings.
Water bursts from the elevator. Maximals run away from it.
As the water washes away, a large figure is revealed hunched on the ground.
The dark figure, Protoform X, raises his head and smiles an evil smile.
----- End of Issue #1 -----