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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 C Gi 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.
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:
- Actor Allusion: The "Bee in the City" script-reading play has this regarding the voice actors of Transformers Animated which crossed over into this continuity.
- Ambiguously Evil: Shockwave describes himself as morally ambiguous instead of outright evil.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: TransTech Megatron.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Crap Saccharine World: See the intro.
- 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.
- Frame-Up: 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.
- 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.
- Promoted Fanboy: Shockwave and Flareup are voiced in Bee in the City by two Transformers fans, Fairlady Z and Internet Personality Vangelus.
- 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.
- 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.
- Talking to Himself: During "Bee in the City" David Kaye plays both Optimus Prime and Megatron from Beast Wars.
- 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.