When the Transformers first appeared on Earth,
the Intelligence & Information Institute32 took it upon itself to archive and study Cybertronian artifacts. Even after the group disbanded,33 some of the former staffers kept select items, including one they called "Schrodinger's Box," which had been found in a prehistoric excavation. Through advanced analysis, they determined that the "box" was actually a flight recorder from a Cybertronian ship that had come from several centuries in the future.34 The recorder also held "Core Consciousness File: X-9,"35 the memories of the ship's sole passenger: Ravage.36
32: Triple-I was introduced in issue #15 of Marvel's comic
33: Transformers #68
34: From Beast Wars Season 2's "The Agenda"
35: In Japan, all the Transformers toys have an assigned number. The Beast Wars Metals version of "Jaguar" was given the ID number X-9
36: Note the special irony of finding a somewhat alive version of a dead "cat" in an item called Schrodinger's Box.
The Institute's scientists made contact with the Consciousness File, and agreed to give it a new Binaltech body in exchange for technology and knowledge of the future. They created a fake BT body, but still needed to bring Ravage back to life.37 To do this, they retrieved the present-day Ravage from EDC custody, forced him to transform to cassette mode and initiated a stasis lock,38 then stored him in the fake BT body's audio system, providing X-9 with a Spark.39
37: Ravage died in "The Agenda"
38: A near-total shutdown that keeps a TF running on the bare minimum of power, like the robotic version of a coma
39: Introduced in Beast Wars Season 1's "The Spark"
Despite all the precautions and failsafes
Triple-I had built into the body, Ravage overcame them and freed himself. Finding the world unchanged from the one he remembered, he realized the plan to change Earth's history during the ancient Beast Wars had failed. He immediately disposed of all evidence that he had been resurrected - including the scientists who had performed the deed. Knowing what the future holds for the Decepticons, Ravage is now out to alter his history by influencing our future.
During this time, Honda's Wako Basic Technology Research Center, which already had experience developing humanoid robots,40 had been working on rebuilding Overdrive, whose old body had taken a lot of damage and required extra attention. There are several prototype versions of Overdrive's body,41 all of which were donated to Wheeljack's Bodyshop Project.42
40: It was at the Wako Research Center that the Asimo robot was developed
41: A reference to the toy being renamed "Windcharger" for the US and to the (later postponed) Wildrider/Decepticharge
42: Transformers #281 (Marvel UK)
Equipped with an Omni-Blaster43 that duplicated his three former weapons44 and a ballistic shield made of durabyllium,45 Overdrive serves as the Earth forces' primary tactician. Because of restrictions in the BT developers' contracts,46 Overdrive's weapons were removed from his vehicle mode.47
43: A reference to the fact that Overdrive was one of the Omnibots
44: The G1 toy had an Electric Cannon, a Plasma Beam Rifle and a Neutron Blaster
45: A fictitious metal refenced in several of the old toys' tech specs
46: A reference to Honda's demand that the toy's gun barrel be removed for the US version
47: The G1 toy had flip-out weapons for an "attack mode"
The Autobots on Earth, led by Ultra Magnus, managed to repel frequent Decepticon attacks and continued to send any spare energy reserves to their comrades on Cybertron. But soon, a series of unnatural coincidences began to plague the Autobots. Defenses were destroyed, energy rerouted, and finally, a shuttle filled with Energon cubes48 bound for Cybertron exploded on the launch pad. These incidents were, in reality, the result of Ravage's chronal sabotage. However, Overdrive had experience with interdimensional travel49 using the Quantum Dial,50 and recognized the "reality flux" he felt at the site of the shuttle explosion. He warned the Earth/Cybertron alliance that someone from outside the normal time stream was twisting the original history.
48: The G1 source of energy for both Autobots and Decepticons
49: The ads for the mail-order Omnibots encouraged fans to order quickly, or else they would "fight a war in another universe"
50: The Quantum Dial is an original creation of Ichikawa-san
While the Alliance searched for a way to fight an enemy who had the ultimate advantage, Ravage continued his plan. Hijacking Wheeljack's shuttle on its way back to Cybertron,
he landed in the ruins of the Decepticon territory and retrieved the wreckage of Shockwave's kronosphere.51 Just as Megatron was about to force the Autobots into a full retreat, Ravage used the Kronosphere to entrap the majority of the Decepticon forces in a rift in time. With their leader and more than half their soldiers gone, the Decepticons fell into disarray and were easily defeated by Optimus Prime and the Autobots. But all this was Ravage's intention - he knew that Unicron would soon be attacking,52 so he left the Autobots to face him by themselves. No matter how the battle went, when it was over, Ravage would release Megatron and his forces to destroy the victor.
51: From Season 2's "War Dawn"
52: In Transformers: The Movie, the Decepticons were in control of Cybertron when Unicron attacked, and were nearly decimated until the Autobots arrived to help them - it is at this point that the Alternators/Binaltech timeline diverges from previous continuity
Needing a leader for the remaining Decepticon forces, Ravage infiltrated the BT-13 research facility, which was attempting to re-create the Transmutor,53 a device that can alter the composition and structure of objects by changing the quantum information of their atoms. He used the device to turn an ordinary Mazda RX-8 into a BT body54 for Shockwave.
53: From GI Joe Season 1's "Worlds Without End, Pt. 1"
54: In Season 2's "Starscream's Brigade," old military vehicles were turned into the Combaticons in much the same way
When Ravage hijacked the shuttle, he showed Wheeljack his future: death at the hands of the Decepticons.55
While the other Autobots celebrated their victory, Wheeljack had to decide whether to attempt to thwart Ravage's plans, which would mean his own destruction. Looking for a way out, he contacted Chip Chase on Earth, and began the Bodyshop Project, a way of saving those doomed Autobots. In order to function as a "tactical diversion,"56 Wheeljack was equipped with the GT system: the Alpha Unit is his original body, still on Cybertron, while the Beta Unit is the Binaltech body on Earth; for now, nothing is known about the mysterious Omega Unit. The Beta Unit is equipped with a laser-strafer rifle57 and a cryo-sword, which generates an immobilizer field.58
55: Wheeljack was killed along with Brawn, Prowl and Windcharger in Transformers: The Movie
56: The same function as the Actionmaster version of Wheeljack
57: From Actionmaster Wheeljack's tech spec
58: From Season 2's "The Immobilizer"
The next BT body was named "Prowl 2,"59 and intended as a backup for the Autobot tactician. Prowl was attacked while investigating a Decepticon stronghold on Saturn,
and Wheeljack activated the long-range GT system in an effort to save him. However, the unstable data link was severed, and his laser core was lost in subspace.60 The next day, Chip Chase hit upon an idea: years before, when Prowl had been severely damaged, Chip had used his own computer to remote control Prowl's body;61 since Prowl's knowledge and personality were already installed in the BT body, Chip sacrificed his life, uploading his own mind62 to bring Prowl to life. Prowl's new body can assume the patterns of various police forces from around the world at will.63 The all-blue version is a Generic Host Shell,64 able to serve as an emergency fallback for any Autobot.
59: A reference to the Spychanger from Robots in Disguise
60: Subspace, in Transfandom, is the place where all the kibble goes when it's not needed. When things like Optimus Prime's trailer disappear, that's subspace
61: Season 1's "Roll for It"
62: As in Season 1's "Autobot Spike"
63: Explaining the differences between the Hasbro and Takara versions of the toy
64: Explaining the non-police deco'ed version of the toy available in Japan
A lightning strike operation carried out by Prowl and Overdrive finally saw Ravage captured, but it was too late:
just then, Unicron approached Cybertron, devouring the planet's moons and unleashing his ground troops, killing many Cybertronians. Ravage revealed that the key to defeating Unicron was the Matrix of Leadership,65 and Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus boarded a shuttle headed for Unicron. At the same time on Earth, the Autobots initiated Operation Distant Thunder,66 an attempt to prevent Ravage from ever altering the original course of history. Just as Skids, the first Autobot to receive a Binaltech upgrade by his own choice, was about to enter the temporal vortex on Dinobot Island,67 his sensors warned him that a squad of Decepticons was swiftly approaching his position.
65: From Transformers: The Movie
66: The name is a reference to Ray Bradbury's short story, "A Sound of Thunder," which features dinosaurs and dealt with the way actions in the past could change the future.
67: Season 2's "Dinobot Island"
For several years, Dr. Arkeville had secretly been constucting a Binaltech body from spare parts stolen from Decepticon repair lockers. A near perfect melding of robot technology, Earthling construction and miniaturization techniques, this is the most powerful Binaltech body ever created. If Megatron couldn't destroy the Autobots, Arkeville would build a robot that could. Years of working with a stolen scan of Optimus Prime's programing had given Arkeville an understanding of Transformer technology decades ahead of any other scientists, and he created the ultimate military leader – ruthless, efficient, calculating and above all wise. All that remained was to find a Spark capable of animating the dark commander.68 As the mad doctor initiated his subspace linkup experiment, a mysterious glowing orb appeared, engulfed the body, and was gone.
68: From Hasbro's unpublished Nemesis Prime bio
Deep inside the body of Unicron, Ultra Magnus was alone. Optimus Prime had been damaged during their assault,
and had to fall back, but not before passing the Matrix to his successor.69 Stripping off his outer armor70 to move about more easily, Magnus made his way to the heart of the beast. He struggled with the Matrix for a moment, but it finally opened71 and a blinding burst of light destroyed the monster Unicron from within, but the danger was not over yet. During the battle, Shockwave had disappeared, taking the key to the kronosphere with him. Megatron and the time-displaced Decepticons could return at any moment, so Prowl ordered a full retreat from Cybertron.
69: Magnus was Prime's first choice to bear the Matrix in Transformers: The Movie, as well
70: Transformers Generation One volume 2, "War and Peace" #6 (Dreamwave)
71: Ultra Magnus had the same problem in the movie, but lost the Matrix before he could get it to open (despite everyone's passions being inflamed by his reckless use of the word "damn")
With the Decepticon attack on Dinobot Island repelled, Skids and the EDC team were free to complete Operation Distant Thunder. They launched a probe into the past, warning against Ravage's attacks. If all went as planned, their world would soon be no more, as history re-wrote itself. The heroes waited nervously - if the plan had worked, their reality should have been undone in an instant.72 It seemed as if the gambit had failed, but suddenly warp holes began to appear all around the world, expanding as if to consume it. A figure appeared in the center of the island's temporal vortex, his silhouette looking like Optimus Prime. He held an orb of light in his hand, which grew and engulfed the entire planet.
72: if it wasn't obvious by now, this timeline isn't operating under a causality loop
When the light faded, the spatial warps were gone. Skids cautiously approached the black clone of his leader,