TF/LNH: Tales of the Intermezzo: Plot Device (Robot Invasion tie-in)

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Mon Sep 10 12:33:56 PDT 2007

                    Tales of the Intermezzo - Plot Device
               A Transformers Universe/Legion of Net.Heroes Story
                     copyright 2007 by Dave Van Domelen
                     based on properties owned by Hasbro

     "intermezzo - n. A brief entertainment between two acts of a play."
          - American Heritage Dictionary

     "The Legion of Net.Heroes, or LNH, is the oldest (and perhaps first)
USENET-based shared universe still in existence, and the name of the premiere
'net.hero' team in that universe." 
          - Wikipedia

     [Note: this story begins during System Corruptors Annual #1, the last
scene of Chapter Three.
for the text, although there should be enough infodump in this story here
that you don't need to go read that first.]

     Ever since he, Quad and the BallistiMACs had been forcibly evicted from
the "Looniverse" and dropped on this metal world that was not their Luna,
Traumastar had been having an even worse day than usual.
     "This is crazy!" Traumastar's nagging internal voice told him.  "We
might have had a chance against that Gestalt, but the Stadium-Class
FortressMAC down there that looks like a gray and green dinosaur?  No way!" 
     "Shut up!" Traumastar told himself.  He hated how persuasive that inner
voice could be sometimes.  It always sounded reasonable, but when looking
back it was usually clear it was telling him to take the coward's way out.
He knew, intellectually, that he was among the most powerful WarMACs out
there, and if he tried to stand against that FortressMAC, he might actually
have a chance of winning, or at least surviving.
     But, where squishies might be able to blame "inner demons" on their own
messy organic thinking processes, Traumastar didn't have that excuse.  He
really did have a secondary mind, intended to help run the large number of
systems in his massive spherical form.  He had been an early experiment,
trying to find a middle ground between WarMAC and FortressMAC, with a
secondary Mobile Artificial Consciousness that was superior to the usual
combat drone program used by WarMACs.  Instead, his tactical consciousness
was a coward and a half, *too* aware of all the hazards of a situation.  And
way too good at convincing Traumastar that it was right.
     Needless to say, Traumastar was the first *and* last member of the MAC
Empire to carry a secondary tactical mind.  And even the few old enough to
remember the reasons behind Traumastar's mental state still thought of him as
a weak and inconstant ally.
     "Shut up!" he repeated.  "I still have that device I found among the
possessions of our 'host', if things get truly bad, I can activate it."
     "The 'Plot Device?'" Tactical mocked.  "You think unstable alien
technology from a reality where people consider themselves *fictional* would
ever make things better instead of much, much worse?  For all we know, Acton
Lord left that there for us to find, as a trap!"
     "Just get me firing solutions on that FortressMAC," Traumastar snarled.
At least Emmexor, the Gestalt form of the BallistiMACs, had managed to
disrupt the enemy Gestalt.  Clearly these strange MACs weren't very
technologically advanced, given how easily their Gestalt bonds had been
     "Fine, fine.  Like you need help shooting that huge pile of metal.  Even
full power and with no Integrity Field to worry about, we're going to have to
hit it at least seven times in a single spot to breach that armor.  They may
be primitives, but there's nothing wrong with their metallurgy!" Tactical
     Pain lanced through Traumastar as just a single shot grazed his
spherical conveyance mode.  It had been a long time since a FortressMAC's
main weapons had hit him, and it wasn't a memory he really wanted refreshed.  
     "Warning!  Antigravs three through seven on starboard out!" Tactical
warned.  "We don't have symmetry in the field anymore!"
     "Well, hell," Traumastar said through the mental equivalent of gritted
teeth.  "Gonna have to transform or fall.  I hate transforming."  He liked
his non-humanoid mode.  Two half-spheres joined around a smaller sphere, it
was elegant and powerful, able to fire solar powerbeams in any direction down
the equatorial gap with minimal need for maneuvering.  His robot form was
ungainly and ugly, his hull forming huge wings that blocked lines of fire and
forced him to wheel around to bring his main weapons to bear.  It had been
intended to look impressive and demonic, but it was just overwrought and
     As he assumed the hated form and started to regain control of his
altitude, a staticky voice broke through on ComNet.  "...dimensional gate...
ening in three sec...ove you.  I can on...ld it open for a few sec...e fast!"
     "Firebrand!" Tactical practically gibbered.  "He'll get us out of this
hell dimension!"
     "Everyone, make for the sky!" Quad ordered.  "Firebrand's getting us
     "Aye aye, cap'n!" Trauamastar said (but didn't transmit), and shot up
towards the purplish glowing rip in space, engaging emergency antigrav
systems and being as evasive as his clumsy body would allow.  A few beams
from the FortressMAC shot dangerously close to him, but none hit.
     Then he hit the portal...and felt something going horribly wrong.
     In fact, it was going so wrong, so quickly, that Tactical didn't even
have time to say, "I told you so!"

               *              *              *              *

     "You know," Channel said to no one in particular, "sometimes I wonder if
I wouldn't have been more effective staying a Neutral and just tweaking
resources.  But no, I had to go join the Autobots, get shot at repeatedly,
have half of Iacon dropped on me, end up in the belly of a giant alien ship,
and now...the thrill a nanoclick world of border patrol in the Istoral
     He rode a small three-wheeled buggy that looked like it had been cobbled
together from random spare parts, precisely because that's what it was.  The
terrain was too rough for his usual maglev trick to work safely, and he still
hadn't gotten his altmode upgraded into something with, oh, MOBILITY.  A data
terminal was great when your job involved sitting in a room deep in the
Central Archives all the time, not so good if you got stuck on border patrol.
     Suddenly, the starry sky above seemed to split open, for just a moment.
A purplish rent in the fabric of the firmament opened and closed like the eye
of a great beast that was briefly roused from slumber.
     "What in the name of Primus was that?" Channel brought the buggy to an
abrupt halt and stared up at the sky, running the imagery through his data
processing routines while bringing up other sensors to see if there was any
residual energy.  In fact, his sensor suite was at such a high level of alert
at that moment that he had no idea how he failed to notice the figure who
spoke next.
     "That is the death of your universe," came a voice from Channel's left.
     He spun to face what turned out to be a tiny figure, barely as large in
total as Channel's head, and Channel was hardly a large Autobot.  It seemed
softer and rounder than any Cybertronian, and was clad in a black substance
that was flexible yet utterly blocked Channel's scans.  Held in one hand was
a shaft of ebon material clad in shimmering gold at either end.
     "Who are you?" he demanded, summoning his laser pistol from subspace.
     "Once I might have taken the time to debate comparative robotic anatomy,
discuss matters of cosmogeny and Cybertronian myth, perhaps even share a
refreshing beverage, but such is denied to me now, for I am..." he paused, as
if expecting to be interrupted, then finished, "...a stranger."
     "That much is obvious," Channel snarled.  "What did you mean, the death
of my universe?"
     "I mean that what you have just witnessed is the arrival of a cosmic
virus, of sorts.  A robotic lifeform unlike you yet like you has stumbled
through an unstable dimensional portal while carrying a potent item taken
from a world that is run by principles other than your science.  And now, the
combination of factors will quickly transform the visitor into a threat of
universal proportions, if rapid action is not taken."
     "Fine.  Rapid action.  In space.  And you couldn't tell this to one of
the Autobots with, oh...a flying form?  In case you haven't noticed, Mister
Stranger, I can't fly!"
     "I am not Mister Stranger, he is another of my ilk.  No, I am known as
the Dvandom Stranger, and by the power of my Editorial Staff, I will enable
you to overcome your limitations for the duration of this emergency.  But it
is your power to redirect energies that is vital...and your connection to me
that let me find you in the first place."
     "Connection?  Okay, I'm totally lost now," Channel shook his head, then
stumbled as a wave of energy shook the ground.  "Gah!  Fly now, explain on
the way!"
     "Indeed," the stranger nodded, unperturbed by the shockwave.  Gesturing
with his staff, he took to the air, Channel flying alongside him.  "This
world you live in is part of the domain of Lord MUDD, and for all that you
think it is purely real and physical, it is one of many fictional realms in
the broad tapestry of the PluRealities.  As such, it is susceptible to the
energies of the Plot Device carried by one named Traumastar, who even now
grows in power and madness.  You bear a link via the power of Lord MUDD to an
alternate reality version of the man I once was before I was drawn into my
own stories and transformed into a Stranger."
     As Channel and the Dvandom Stranger left the surface of Cybertron
behind, he just shook his head.  "Let's pretend for a moment that none of
that made any sense at all.  Because it didn't.  But you obviously have a lot
of power in that tiny body, since we're halfway to our destination already.
Let's cut to the practical matters, you can try to explain your insane
metaphysics later.  What do I do?"
     "If it helps, even natives of the Looniverse have trouble with our
'insane metaphysics,' and we live it," the Dvandom Stranger admitted.  "Be
glad that this is not part of an active crossover.  In any case," he added as
it started to look like Channel might decide to reach over and try to crush
him, "the key lies in your designed affinity for powerful reality-altering
energies, a capacity not even your builders were aware of when they located
your schematics in an ancient database."
     "Wait, you know what I was designed for?"
     "Of course, for such is my power and such is my curse as a Stranger.
Suffice to say that you were intended to be a piece of something of great
power, but the potential for that combination has since been lost.  What is
not lost is your ability to harness the very energies of creation, such as
those even now being unleashed by the Plot Device inside of Traumastar.  The
Editorial Staff can act as a safe repository for these energies, but only you
among all those on this world are capable of safely drawing them out and
redirecting them."
     "Ah," Channel said as they came within visual range of Traumastar.
"Clearly this is some new definition of 'safely' that I was not previously
aware of.  You do realize that this guy is easily the size of a warship
already, and I can see him gaining mass without needing to refine my sensor
sweeps any?  I'm having to shut down sensors, in fact, to keep them from
being overloaded by the passives he's putting out!"
     "It is the definition of 'safely' that includes the planet below us
being spared from total annihilation," was the calm response.  "And
Traumastar cannot detect us...yet.  The pain of his transfiguration blinds
him, but soon he will regain his senses if not his sanity, we must act soon."
     "Right.  Where's this Plot Device?  Let me the very center of
that gigantic pulsing sphere of energy that looks like it's about ready to
collapse into some sort of black hole?"  
     The Dvandom Stranger simply nodded. 
     "Of COURSE," Channel sighed.  "Oh, and to make things more fun, I'm
picking up some Decepticon comm chatter...they think this is a return of
those aliens in the mysterious black worldship, and are prepping a full
missile assault.  Not that it did much against those aliens either, but I
doubt that sort of logic will keep a 'Con's finger off the firing stud.  And
I'm thinking this is where you tell me that any overt attack will wake our
boy up?"
     "That is correct.  You seem to be adapting to my 'insane' metaphysics
quite rapidly," the Stranger replied wryly.
     "It's surprisingly easy.  Just think of the worst possible outcome and
call it the most likely one," Channel snarked.  "Damn, he's big.  And ugly.
And I can feel a gravity field coming off him now."
     "This will, at least, make it possible to land on him and remain stable
during the siphoning process."
     "Ah, a bright side at least," Channel frowned as they alit on
Traumastar's abdomen.  Before them, in the cavity between abdomen and chest,
was a roiling mass of energy held in a roughly spherical shape.  Barely
contained, the power seemed eager to reach out and devour reality
fact, Channel realized it was doing just that!  Traumastar's growth was being
fueled by the Plot Device consuming the zero point energy of spacetime,
thereby replacing emptiness with nothingness...what seemed like a fine
distinction until you realized that you could always put something back into
an emptiness, but a nothingness had nowhere left to fill.
     "The attack has begun," the Dvandom Stranger observed.  Indeed, Channel
picked up the active lidars of several dozen missiles painting Traumastar
with their targeting beams.  "We may wait no longer."
     "This.  Is.  Going.  To.  Hurt," Channel grunted, bringing his energy
transfer systems online and reaching out towards the ravening sphere with one
hand, while grasping the slender hope of the Editorial Staff in the other.
     Suddenly, power such as he'd never felt surged through his systems,
which miraculously held instead of burning out like a cheap fuse.  Flow
meters simply shut down when the readings went so far past their intended
range that the numbers stopped making sense.  And yet, not making sense was
probably all that kept Channel from vanishing in a puff of volatilized metals
and plastics...any strictly scientific energies at these levels would surely
have killed him instantly.  But this was something different.  Something
touched by a power not of science, not of his reality.
     What had he been designed for, that he could cope with forces that he
could only describe as supernatural?
     "Break contact now!" the Dvandom Stranger shouted, raising his voice for
the first time since he had appeared.
     Channel tried to obey, but the sphere now wanted him.  It hungered for
something to replace what he had stolen, and would gladly take his entire
life in partial payment.  He could feel his arm being slowly ripped from its
socket...the Editorial Staff was an anchor like none he'd ever felt, and
would not let him go, but neither would the beast at Traumastar's heart
relinquish its prey.
     Then the missiles struck.

               *              *              *              *

     Channel's optics returned to operation.  He was in the Istoral Trench,
next to his buggy.  The sky was lit by a fading explosion.  His arms felt
like they'd need some major repair work, but both were still attached and
more or less working.
     "It is done.  The explosion hurled Traumastar through the dimensional
barriers and back to his proper place, the remnants of Plotdevicium still in
his body being consumed by the opening of the rift.  The other energies are
safely contained in my Editorial Staff, and I was able to use a portion of
them to return you home.  Now, the task completed, I must be on my way."
     "Wait!  What about the purpose for which I was designed?" Channel
     "Once I might have tarried and discussed beginnings and endings with
you, or spent many an hour speculating on what might have been, but now I
cannot, for I am..."
     "A stranger," Channel finished.
     The Dvandom Stranger nodded.  "And such is my curse."
     With that, the Stranger's black coverings seemed to fold in on
themselves, taking him with them to...wherever it was he was from.
     Slowly, gingerly, Channel got back on his buggy and headed back to
base.  "What a day.  I save the universe, and all I get to show for it are
stress injuries in my wrists...."


Author's Notes:

     This one may take some explaining.  Oh, who am I kidding, it'll take a
lot of explaining, even after the exposition dumps within the story.  The
first chunk of these notes will be aimed at the Transformers fans reading
this, the second at the Legion of Net.Heroes fans.  :) has links
to many of the Legion of Net.Heroes stories I reference here, but not all.
The links on that page to other resources are all dead, try for some other stuff.  A summary of Constellation
#1-36 can be found at has my other Transformers
fanfic, while has a lot of
Channel art.

     As with many of my Tales of the Intermezzo in 2007, this was written as
a Fanfic Challenge for the forums.  The challenge was "Meet Your
Maker," a meeting between you and one of your fancharacters, or a canon
character you had adopted as your own.  Initially, I wasn't going to
participate.  I don't really like doing self-insertion these days...even
leaving aside the Mary Sue/Gary Stu aspects of it, there's certain logical
problems raised that bother me.  Namely, the interaction of a fictional
character and a fan of that fictional world.
     The usual way this is done is to have the "real world" character dumped
into the fictional setting somehow.  They'd know all sorts of things about
the fictional world, making them a sort of informational Mary Sue even if
they don't gain any powers from being in the new world.  And, frankly, it's
been done.  A LOT.  And pretty well in a few cases (such as the Fan.Boy
series in the Legion of Net.Heroes).  I didn't really want to play it that
     Another way involves bringing the fictional character into the real
world, or at least as close as you can get to the real world when you have a
fictional character running around in it.  I called this sort of setting
"Real World -1" when I addressed the issue in Dvandom Force (another Legion
of Net.Heroes tale), during the Crysys On Ynfynyte Tyms (Dvandom Force #42).
And, frankly, I didn't feel like retelling that.
     Next, of course, there's the "analogue" path.  Assume that there's a
version of yourself in the fictional setting, and have them interact with the
characters.  The problem with that is pretty obvious when you're talking
about writing fanfic about a subject you're heavily involved with.  How can I
still be me if Transformers are real instead of fictional?  My fandom has
shaped a lot of my life, and a world where Transformers were real would
almost have to have a different approach to the fandom.  Oh, I could take the
Marvel Comics approach and say that the fandom is about the same, some
details are changed, and so forth, but that feels too much like a cop-out.
     So, I was about to shrug and move on, waiting for the next month's
challenge, when I examined one of my premises a little more.  I don't write
self-insertion *any more*.  But I used to.  Specifically, several Legion of
Net.Heroes characters are essentially versions of myself.  One of the early
features of the LNH was that everyone had a Writer Character, like a Player
Character, who was supposed to be you in some way.  This was abandoned
eventually, but both Sig.Lad and Acton Lord were essentially me in better
shape and with powers.  Turning the idea over in my head even more, I
considered the Dvandom Stranger.  He is a "Real World -1" version of me who
got sucked into the LNH "Looniverse" in one of my earliest stories.  Granted,
he's a version of me from before I created Channel, but close enough, eh?
And he also has the sort of powers and mandate that make him a natural to go
messing about with other fictional characters of mine.
     All that remained was to pick a way to get it all together, and I had a
natural candidate.  Back in 1994 I ran a crossover in the LNH called "Robot
Invasion".  It started in Constellation #17 during the Looniverse Adrift
crossver, with my villain Acton Lord using inter-newsgroup transport to go to and visit a number of the fanfics posted there.  He
eventually found my RoboMACs 2163 setting and decided he could use it as a
source of manpower.  Antiochus V, leader of the Mobile Artificial
Consciousness Empire, turned the tables on him and used Acton Lord's base on
Andale Atoll as a beachhead to invade the Looniverse.  The invasion took
place over the course of Constellation #21-24, with crossover issues in all
sorts of other titles, such as Pliable Lad, Kid Kirby/Particle Lad and
Opinionated Lad.  Eventually the invasion was thwarted as the good guys
pulled an "open the Matrix" sort of play and shoved everyone out of the
Looniverse.  The good guys all went home, but the bad guys got scattered
across various Transformers realities, leading to the story linked at the
very start of this file.  Replacing SCAnnualA with SCAnnualB gets the rest of
that story, by the way.  Firebrand, a RoboMAC based on Dr. Clayton Forrester
(MST3K) found a way to get all the MACE guys home, but I grabbed Traumastar
for a little detour in this story.
     RoboMACs are my own version of Transformers, originally created for a
giant robot RPG.  I eventually made a new setting for the version of that RPG
that saw print, but the "RoboMACs 2163" setting was used for the Robot
Invasion.  I basically took the archetypes of Transformers but created a new
setting in which the RoboMACs (a Robo body with a Mobile Artificial
Consciousness inside it) were a descendants of humanity and had come to
dominate Earth and the Moon (now a half-metal-covered world generally called
Luna).  Trauamstar is one of the few RoboMACs in the original setting book
who isn't a direct or partial ripoff of any canonical Transformer, instead
being more of a 1979 Cylon Basestar that can (but usually doesn't) transform.
The BallistiMACs are Combaticons, Quad is Astrotrain (but a four-changer),
and so forth.  The "FortressMAC" mentioned in the opening is Trypticon, and
the enemy Gestalt was Bruticus.

     Now, as for the Transformers stuff.  "Tales of the Intermezzo" is my
loose non-series series for Transformers fanfics, more like a one-person
anthology title with occasional recurring settings and sub-continuities.
Given that I've done crossovers of Transformers with Stargate SG-1 and the
Goon Show in some of my Intermezzos, doing an LNH crossover is only natural.  
     Channel, however, has not really been a fanfic character of mine per se,
in the sense that he hasn't starred in an Intermezzo before this.  He was my
second character on Transformers: the Lost Years MUSH, a game set in the
years right after the Ark departed Cybertron.  The original high concept was
that he was going to have a third mode as "God Armor" for Vanguard, an
ancient Autobot played by a friend of mine.  The plans had been lost for a
long time, then recovered by Cybertronians who lacked the context, seeing
just a decent design for a new body and putting it into use.  This
combination plan, sadly, was nixed by the admin, and eventually Vanguard got
rebuilt into Guardstar anyway, so the compatibilities would have been wrong.
But that's the "purpose" the Dvandom Stranger was going on about.  Vanguard
was "Matrix Compatible", so Channel had to be as well.  This sort of thing
never came up in play, though.  The aliens referred to in passing did,
however, come up in play.  I don't know how, or if, that storyline ever
really resolved...Channel was around for driving them off the first time, but
if they ever came back I'd stopped playing by then.  (As an aside, Vanguard's
player has actually written more fanfic with Channel than I have, using an
altered version in his Headmasters II and Headmasters Crash series.)
     I've since redesigned Channel in other settings and with other altmodes,
for instance making an Armada version that turned into a truck.  I've
probably done more art with Channel than any other single character except
maybe Solar Max, he's one of my few recurring characters.  He's more of a
fanART character than a fanFIC character, as a result.

     I'd better stop now, before the notes get longer than the story!

More information about the racc mailing list