- The "Keepers Trilogy" is set of Transformers novels set in Dreamwave's version of Generation One continuity family.
In 2003, capitalizing on the recent success of the Dreamwave Transformers comic book Prime Directives (#1 in sales for the year,) iBooks released a trilogy of Transformers novels.
The three books form a continuous narrative that takes place in the missing year betwen Prime Directives and Dreamwave's follow-up miniseries War and Peace.
All 3 novels were collected into a hardbound omnibus in 2004 for the Science Fiction Book Club.
The short story Two for the Price of One by Brandie Tarvin in the 2004 anthology Transformers Legends seems to be set in the same continuity. Ironically, since this story takes place after Megatron's return to power, which had just started when Dreamwave went belly-up, it represents the latest known point on the Dreamwave continuity timeline.
Events of the Keepers Trilogy
Seeking to repair their relationship with humanity after the disaster in California, the Autobots Optimus Prime, Jazz, and Bluestreak are in Tokyo, Japan for a meet-and-greet. Their event is interrupted by Megatron, and a battle wages until a mysterious force suddenly strikes the city streets, spiriting away the four Transformers and over 200 humans present.
In their absence, Starscream makes his bid for leadership of the Decepticons. He begins by destroying Sideswipe in an aerial duel, then gathers all the Decepticons who will follow him in assuming control of the human city of Las Vegas. Rather than outright conquering the town, Starscream instead makes a deal with the humans, offering them advanced technology, protection, and even the opportunity to make loads of cash starring in their own Reality TV stories about the occupation. The humans largely accept and, with few other options available to them, the American government reluctantly cedes the city to Decepticon control. Not willing to allow Starscream to consolidate a power base for himself, Bumblebee and Prowl join forces with the renegade Grimlock and his secret army of human allies to take back Vegas.
Meanwhile, Spike Witwicky is approached by a clandestine figure named Franklin Townsend, who claimed to represent the NSA. Franklin informs Spike that he "of interest" to certain underground parties (including the zealous Transformers groupie cult known as the Followers), and that his help is needed on matters of national security. He also informs Spike that his family has been placed in protective custody to ensure their safety from these dangerous individuals, but is none too subtle in implying that their safety is entirely contingent on Spike's cooperation. Franklin reveals he is an augment, one of a select group of human cyborgs that have been enhanced by Transformer technology. Their first stop is to see a naval officer named Hugo Fortuna, who recently reported seeing a phenomena much like the one in Tokyo, and Franklin sends Spike in first as bait to confront the man about what he knows. The officer tries to kill Spike almost on sight instead, and is executed in a murder-suicide by a traitor in Franklin's team before he can explain why. Franklin and Spike find a massive collection of Transformer artifacts in the man's basement as well.
Optimus Prime and the others are, of course, not dead. Instead, they have been transported across the known galaxies by a race of seemingly all-powerful beings known as the Keepers, who apparently wish to study them and their reactions to stimuli. The Transformers are forced to fight opponents in arena style combat, with the human captives' lives at sake if they refuse. Among the battles, Optimus Prime is compeled to execute a helpless opponent, and later confronts a recreation of his own predecessor, Sentinel Prime; Jazz is forced into killing Bluestreak in single combat; and Megatron fights a series of matches against various alien opponents. Megatron initially believes he has entered into an alliance with the Keepers, but soon realizes they have no intention of keeping their bargain with him.
Back on Earth, Spike and Franklin continue their search for answers. They come to realize that Spike contains information in his mind from a time years ago when he was briefly transplanted into the body of Transformer. The details of this information are vague at best, but seems to be highly valuable to the Followers. On the other side was Fortuna and his group of "Anti-Followers", who wish to kill Spike before the information in his brain can be harvested. A group of augments attempt to assassinate the pair, but Spike's latent knowledge enables him to completely disable the cyborgs. Franklin then decides they need to head for Las Vegas, following a signal that was being beamed at the augments during the skirmish.
All roads lead to Vegas. Grimlock and his allies battle the Constructicons on the outskirts of the city, and begin moving inwards to confront more Decepticons. Spike and Franklin are picked up trying to enter the city by Followers working for Darren Norbert, who apparently made some sort of deal with the Keepers allowing them to snatch the Transformers from Tokyo in the first place. He taunts Spike with the gateway key briefly before the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons reaches his penthouse, and Darren is killed by flying debris, allowing Spike to retrieve the key.
In the Keepers' realm, Megatron and the Autobots have joined forces to save the remaining humans from the Keepers' games. In order to secure Megatron's cooperation, Prime is forced to grant Megatron a favor to be named at a later date. The Transformers learn that the Keepers, who had previously seemed to be merely bodiless voices, were actually leviathan sized techno-organics creatures. The conflict with the Keepers grows fierce, and Optimus Prime begins to unleash the power of the Creation Matrix, in an effort to destroy the Keepers' stronghold and all of them with it. Before this suicidal ploy can be completed, the gateway back to Earth opens, and Optimus returns to the human planet with the others. Unfortunately, the Keepers travel to Earth as well, including one who has taken Bluestreak's corpse as a host body.
Las Vegas is in chaos, as everyone present begins reacting to the sudden appearance of the missing Transformers and the awe-inspiring Keepers. Optimus Prime and Jazz are attempting to preserve the lives of the various assorted aliens who also arrived from the Keepers' world. Megatron is searching for Starscream to reclaim his throne, and the other Autobots and Decepticons present continue to battle as best they can. Unnoticed to most anyone, the human hostages from the Keepers' world also begin trickling back into population, including Paul Chateris and Melony Harcourt, two of the Followers.
Megatron confronts Starscream and learns the extent of his traitorous ex-lieutenant's plans. However, due to his own severe injuries battling against the Keepers, Megatron finds that he is in no position to quash Starscream's rebellion at this time. Megatron is reluctantly forced to cede leadership of the Decepticons to Starscream, but he refuses to bow before the new "leader". Instead, he tears off his insignia and officially quits the Decepticon forces, planning to seek his own means of dealing with the threat of the Keepers. Many other Decepticons follow suit, splitting their ranks in two: Thundercracker, Skywarp, Rumble, Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Devastator and the Insecticons remain with Starscream, while Soundwave, Frenzy, Ravage, Spyglass, Viewfinder and the Omega Sentinel leave with Megatron.
With the aliens properly cared for, Optimus Prime confronts the Keepers in the new humanoid and semi-humanoid host bodies they have taken for themselves. A spokesperson for the group, referred to only as The Voice, informs Prime of their intention to conquer the entire planet within three days' time, if it is not surrendered to them beforehand. When Optimus physically assaults the Voice for his arrogance, the Keepers unleash a wave of nullfying darkness over the city of Los Angeles, apparently destroying it and all who live in its boundaries.
Throughout these games and powerplays, Grimlock's army had been continuing their fight with the Decepticons to retake Las Vegas. Recognizing the threat of the Keepers and the consolidated Decepticon forces, Optimus Prime orders a retreat to outside the city before any further action could be taken. Grimlock was locked in combat with Devastator and could not be evacuated, but Optimus Prime, Jazz, Bumblebee and Prowl, along with Spike Witwicky leave Vegas to regroup with the other Autobots. Spike's ally Agent Franklin remains behind to guard their escape.
Meanwhile, Paul and Melony are taken hostage again, this time by the LVPD operating under Starscream's discretion. Starscream is interested in sending a message to the Followers, inviting them to flock to his city and truly become "Followers" of the Transformers. He has Melony scheduled for execution when she speaks out of turn, but lets Paul go free to convey the message to his superiors. That superior would be Allister Greaves, founder of the Followers, who was already aware of the message thanks to Franklin, his double agent in the NSA who observed Paul's confrontation with the Decepticons. Franklin approaches Paul on the street and invites him back to Greaves' base of operations to discuss what the Followers should do next.
Starscream's offer is quickly rendered moot, though, as he has a confrontation with the Keepers. The Keeper formerly known as Bluestreak approaches Starscream under a flag of truce, but then overloads the Decepticon leader's circuitry with a surge of energy, leaving him on the brink of death and a perfectly-fitting host for another of the Keepers to possess. The other remaining Decepticons attempt to flee, but are caught in an impenetrable energy barrier cast by the Keepers, and held prisoner.
Outside the city, Autobot reinforcements have arrived in the form of Ironhide, Sunstreaker, Ratchet and Wheeljack. At Soundwave's approach, Optimus Prime leaves to make contact with Megatron, and the two agree to join forces against the Keepers. Elsewhere, Allister Greaves and the Followers make their plans as well. Contacts from inside the government have informed Greaves that a two-stage military assault is being planned against the Keepers, with a wave of combat vehicles to be followed by an all-out nuclear strike if the first strike is unsuccessful. Horrified, Greaves sends Paul back to Las Vegas to try to save Melony and evacuate as many of their people as possible, while directing Franklin to reconnect with the Autobots and offer any assistance he can to their inevitable counter-strike as well.
The Keepers were hardly idle all this time, though, and were more than aware that various factions were conspiring against them. They make an attempt at "shock and awe" to cow the planet's populace into submission by grotesquely mutilating and transforming Melony into a new Keeper, casting her soul into the same endless void that Bluestreak and Starscream have been reduced to since giving up their forms.
As Optimus Prime and Megatron enter the city with their troops and the first wave of US miltiary forces, they join up with Skywarp and the remaining Decepticons from Starscream's faction, and so the war with the Keepers begins. Spike is still trying to reactivate the gateway key, in the hopes of sending the Keepers back where they came from. As the other Transformers strike out at the aliens, Bumblebee and Agent Franklin remain with Spike until the key can be activated. Devastator and Omega Sentinel begin fighting with Keeper-Starscream and Keeper-Bluestreak, as the others fall in behind them.
Then a bunch of things start to happen at once.
First, the US government deliberately steps up their timetable, launching the nuke at Las Vegas early in the hopes of obliterating the Transformers along with the alien threat. The Keepers controlling Bluestreak and Starscream are suffering damage in their battles, and so physically and mentally join forces to become a more powerful gestalt being. The other Keepers are busy, however, as Melony Harcourt manages to retake control of her physical body and begins violently lashing out at the Keepers. Grimlock re-emerges as well, having found a vein of pure energon running underneath Las Vegas after his climactic fight with Devastator a day earlier. And, as a final twist, Franklin Townsend reveals himself as a triple agent who was been working for the Keepers all along, and threatens to kill Spike if he doesn't hand over the gateway key his masters' desire.
As Optimus Prime comes upon the pool of energon, he conceives a plan to manipulate the Matrix to use against the Keepers. Infusing himself and the Matrix with pure energon to temporarily become super-powerful, Optimus then asks his fellow Autobots to give up the majority of their own life-energies to merge with his own. Bumblebee, who had left Spike's side to inform Optimus of the energon pool, realizes his mistake and returns just in time to stop Franklin from murdering Spike. Still, Franklin recovers the gateway key and brings it to his masters in the hopes of escaping. Time, however, has run out. The nuclear warhead strikes earth, and the massive radioactive shockwave begins to race over the land. Devastator, Omega Sentinel and Bumblebee are too far away, but the super-charged Prime manages to protect the other Autobots and Decepticons from the onslaught. He then gathers the nuclear fire up in a net of Matrix energy, casting it all back at Franklin and the Keepers just as they open the gate, blasting them to atoms and out of our solar system.
In the aftermath, those outside Prime's protective bubble are heavily damaged, including Spike Witwicky who was hiding under Bumblebee and needs to be rushed for medical treatment. Devastator and Omega Sentinel may never be reactivated. Bluestreak and Starscream had combined mental force at the last moment and overwhelmed the Keeper who controlled them, destroying their captor and shattering their bodies back into separate pieces, with the possibility of revival still open. Paul Chateris and the Melony-Keeper both apparently died fighting against the Keepers before the blast. And, as the dust settles, Megatron calls Prime on the favor he is honorbound to grant from their time on the Keepers' world:
Megatron wants to be named the new Prime.
In the ruins of Las Vegas, Optimus Prime and Megatron meet again under a truce. They discuss the aftermath of their battle with the Keepers: Devastator has been fused into a single entity, the Omega Sentinel is reportedly dead, and the apparent healthy return of Bluestreak and Starscream. Megatron tells Prime that he plans to make Starscream squirm a little bit by naming Skywarp his second-in-command for a time. Optimus tells Megatron that he cannot name him "Prime", as only the Council of Ancients can do that. He does, however, agree to relinquish the Matrix to Megatron, and with it, much of the Autobots' power. After Optimus leaves, Megatron approaches Omega Sentinel, whose survival he kept a secret from Optimus. Since the Omega Sentinel is not technically a Decepticon, he is able to interface with the Matrix and use it to magnify his power, giving Megatron a new weapon in his plans.
Allister Greaves is trying to extract something meaningful from the mess created by the Keepers and his brush with the US government. He decides that becoming a public figure again will be the best way to protect himself from retaliation from the White House. He instructs Carl Lomax, a former Follower and LVPD chief of police previously under Starscream's command, to extend an invitation to the Transformer-friendly news reporter, Isolde Holden. In the meantime, he meets with Spike Witwicky to discuss Franklin Townsend's betrayal and a possible technological alliance with the Autobots.
Megatron has his own plans for dealing with the government. He leads the Decepticons in an open attack on Washington down Constitution Avenue, stopping in front of the White House. After the President refuses his challenge to meet face-to-face, Megatron summons Omega Sentinel to break open the mansion like a lobster shell retrieving the President from his reinforced bunker underneath it. Megatron confronts the President with his involvement in the nuclear strike on Las Vegas and, with the help of Soundwave and Reflector, records the entire exchange and sends it to the media, as a warning to the government against future interference.
Meanwhile, Franklin and the Keepers were not dead, but had survived in a pocket dimensional space known as the Void. The Keepers send Franklin back to Earth to once again prepare it for their arrival. As the Autobots are watching the President make a plea for their assistance on television after the Decepticon attack on Washington, Franklin rushes into the Ark and somehow takes control of Bluestreak. The Autobots are unable to stop him from fleeing with Bluestreak, and are forced to consider meeting with the President (the very man who tried to blow them up a month earlier in Las Vegas) in order to present a united front against the dual threats of the Keepers and Megatron with his Matrix-empowered Sentinel. The President, however, is planning treachery. After helping the Autobots orchestrate a battle with the Decepticons, he plans on unleashing a new weapon on the united Transformers: the deconstructionites. These weaponized nanites are created from Allister Greaves work in reverse-engineering Cybertronian technology, and will conceivably break down the Transformers' systems at a molecular level, ridding America once and for all of these "dangerous aliens".
After Allister Greaves meets with Isolde Holden and sends out his message of cooperation to both the Autobots and Decepticons, he soon receives a visit from Megatron and Starscream. Before Allister can fully respond to Megatron's demand for control of the Followers in exchange for the technology Greaves sought, Franklin arrives with Bluestreak and manages to take control of Starscream again as well. The two brain-washed Transformers begin attacking Megatron, who summons the Omega Sentinel as reinforcements. Unfortunately, the Matrix has done more than empower Omega Sentinel: it has altered his programming so that he can no longer carry out Megatron's command to destroy Bluestreak and Starscream. He removes the Matrix and tosses it away in order to stop the programming block, but this tactical error only gives Franklin a chance to acquire the Matrix for his own purposes. As Megatron and the Omega Sentinel flee, Franklin takes Allister hostage and begins forcing him to construct the gateway which will bring the Keepers back to Earth. By a stroke of luck, Spike Witwicky returns to Allister's mansion and quickly takes stock of the situation. He manages to get close enough to Franklin to steal the crystal key needed for opening the gateway, and leaves before Franklin notices it.
Optimus Prime meets with the President to consider a battle strategy against Megatron and the Decepticons. He brings Prowl with him to judge the strategic value of the plan, and Bumblebee to judge the demeanor and motives of the humans suggesting it. By the time they left the meeting, the Autobots had worked out a viable ambush scenario by which they and the US armed forces could eliminate the Decepticons. They had also realized that the President intended to wipe them out at the same time. After hearing Spike's news about the Keepers' scheme to return to Earth, Optimus Prime decides the best allies for the time being would be Megatron and the Decepticons, against both the President's forces and the Keepers. With some reticence, Megatron agrees to meet with Prime and they forge a new alliance against their common enemies.
At the same time, Spike and Bumblebee leave on a mission of their own. Spike plans on convincing Isolde Holden of the threats they face, and using her influence with the public to shame the President into backing down and consolidate the world against the threat of the Keepers. His plan for doing so surprised even Bumblebee, however: to use the crystal key and travel into the Void with Isolde, where he expected the Keepers were holding the Matrix. As the three pass into the portal opened by the key, though, the gate destabilizes before Bumblebee can make it through, leaving the two humans to face the Keepers alone. By focusing on the news story, Isolde manages to convince the Keepers that it is her driving motivation, and so they let her and Spike return to Earth to spread word of their coming triumphant return. Spike and Isolde reappear a full four days after they left, although it felt like less than an hour while they were in the Void.
Out in the desert, the Autobots and Decepticons play their respective parts in the battle orchestrated by Optimus Prime and the President, awaiting the ambush by the human forces when the Transformers would turn as one and disable the threat. Naturally, Megatron had not informed Optimus in advance that his soldiers would be shooting to kill once the humans did reveal themselves. When the moment comes, however, the Army's deconstructionite pellets prove more effective than the Transformers had anticipated. Several robots fall quickly due to malfunctions caused by the attack. Also, during the battle, Megatron is incensed by Omega Sentinel, who uses nothing more than a non-lethal sleep-inducing beam against the human forces. Still, Reflector manages to capture enough footage of the armed forces clearly acting as the aggressors, and so the Autobots and Decepticons break off the attack, planning to turn the media against the President later. Sure enough, a news story with Reflector's footage hits the airwaves less than 24 hours later, painting the President's actions as an assassination attempt, pure and simple. The President is forced to disavow knowledge of the incident, passing blame onto the general in charge of the forces in the field, and break off any further immediate plans to destroy the Transformers in order to avoid any more public scrutiny.
When Franklin noticed the crystal key was missing, he orders Bluestreak to hunt down Spike Witwicky with him. They find Spike and Bumblebee just outside Las Vegas, where they had just dropped off Isolde. The battle is short but fierce, with Bluestreak reluctantly causing serious damage to Bumblebee. Franklin also proves to be more powerful than even his augmentation should have allowed, as Bumblebee plunges the crystal into his chest with little effect. Still, Bluestreak manages to work around the Keepers' control enough to lie to Franklin about incoming Autobot forces, compeling the crazed human to leave before killing Spike and Bumblebee. Knowing Franklin now has what he needs to open the gateway, Spike and the wounded Bumblebee begin making their way back to Greaves' estate.
At the estate, Megatron and Optimus Prime are already present, with Devastator and Omega Sentinel prepared to act as back-up. As Franklin returns with the key and activates the completed gateway, Prime rushes forward to enter the Void and confront the Keepers, while Megatron, Devastator and the Omega Sentinel keep Franklin and his pawns busy. Of course, Megatron takes the first opportunity to remove the crystal key from the device, trapping Optimus Prime in the Void with the Keepers for all of eternity. Somehow, Bluestreak and Starscream break free of the Keepers' control at this point, and the dance partners change. Bluestreak goes after Franklin in revenge over all he's done, and Starscream takes yet another shot at destroying Megatron once and for all. These new skirmishes are interrupted, as Bumblebee tries to stop Bluestreak from committing murder, and the Omega Sentinel steps in to protect Megatron from Starscream.
During the melee, the crystal key has fallen loose again, and Spike Witwicky gains possession of it. Spike tries to stick the key back into the gateway to allow Prime's return to Earth, and his actions draw the attention of all the other combatants. Megatron tries to send Devastator to stop Spike, but the gateway is reactivated. Franklin eludes the arguing Bluestreak and Bumblebee and assaults Spike so that he can retake control of the gateway, but is blasted straight through the chest by Bluestreak's electron rifle. In the meantime, the Omega Sentinel has now shaken off the last bit of artificial programming instilled in him long ago by Megatron, and has resumed his original function as a guardian and protector. As Omega Sentinel begins fighting Devastator and Starscream returns ready and willing to fight...well, everybody, the situation degenerates even further, and the combatants lose immediate interest in the growing portal that is active once more.
On the other side of the Void, Optimus Prime confronts the Keepers, and finds that their power is much weaker outside of normal space. Able to overcome their manipulations by force of will alone, Optimus locates the Matrix within the Void and recovers it. He is prepared for a suicidal ploy, unleashing the full power of the Matrix to destroy himself and the Keepers to ensure they never threaten Earth or Cybertron again. Once the portal reopens, though, Optimus is content to repel the Keepers with the Matrix's light as he makes his way back through the gateway, Once he returns to Earth, however, Optimus realizes he's stuck -- the power of the Matrix is the only thing keeping the Keepers out of real space, yet if he tries to back up or move aside the energies of the Matrix will mix with the gateway, with probably disasterous results. Someone else is needed to shut down the portal for him, yet no one is available. Megatron was planning to gun him down as he exited the portal, and now Bumblebee is locked in a decidedly one-sided combat with the Decepticon leader to prevent that, while Bluestreak is off hunting the absent Starscream. The power of the Matrix was flickering, and something needed to change, soon.
Seeing Omega Sentinel grappling with Devastator off in the distance, Optimus Prime plays a hunch and radioes the former Decepticon for assistance. The Omega Sentinel acknowledges, and carries his battle with Devastator back towards the gateway. Just as Optimus shuts down the Matrix, the Omega Sentinel plunges himself and Devastator through the portal to block the Keepers' passage, and the gate collapses around them just as Prime tosses the crystal key through, sealing the Void forever. As the Omega Sentinel faces the furious Keepers on the other side, he crushes the crystal key with his claw, eliminating the main source of the Keepers' power and destroying them forever. The resultant energy discharge shatters the Void itself, leaving the inactive Omega Sentinel and Devastator floating alone in the depths of space. A top secret human spacecraft called Bounty runs across Devastator in the great expanse, and prepares to return him to Earth...
The Keeper's trilogy pioneered the use of fake-sounding names, which would later be used in IDW's Infiltration series.
Listed in order of appearance
- Isolde Holden
- Hugo Fortuna
- Franklin Townsend
- Candyce Simmons
- Chris Killah
- Joe Chuckry
- Tom Hyroon
- Rhona Jay
- Iolus Monk
- Janie Whitmore
- Paul Whitmore
- Hendry Whitmore
- Paul Charteris
- Melony Dodds/Harcourt
- Vic Mellors
- Vern Fox
- Antoine Debussy
- Dave Langer
- Ben Fellows
- Paul Buckley
- Joe Torres
- Ryan O'Brien
- Ginny O'Brien
- Phil Brodaker
While the nuclear explosion in Prime Directives took place in San Francisco, the Keepers Trilogy moves it to Los Angeles for no apparent reason.
Most Transformers fans were disappointed by these novels.
Scott Ciencin (writer of the first book and part of the second, though uncredited) left many readers cold with a mix of sex, gore (Her severed spine jutted from her torso, and entrails uncoiled and slowly snaked out from her body, slippery and eager to stretch out and relax.) and faux-edgy pop culture references. In addition, Ciencin's actual knowledge of Transformers was visibly limited, consisting of what appeared to be hasty perusals of some sources - his description of Bumblebee, for instance, was clearly derived from a cursory glance at his Marvel Transformers Universe profile, presenting him to be blue and yellow (a result of the limited colour palette of the comics), rather than the correct black and yellow. Energon is described as a silvery-gold liquid (before the Energon series depicted it as such), and presented as the power source of the Matrix.
David Cian's half of the trilogy, which dropped the shock tactics and seemed better-researched, was much more positively received.
The Trilogy takes much of its tone from the first Dreamwave miniseries Prime Directives, which also featured gratuitous gore, nuclear missiles, government conspiracies, a vague sense that Transformers had little sense of free will, and an angsty, indecisive Optimus Prime under the illusion he's engaged in a cosmic struggle of robot vs self. He uses the Matrix twice.
The Keepers baffled fans by being extremely, extremely similar to the Quintessons in method, technology, outlook, relationship to the Transformers, and (to some degree) appearance. Ciencin seems to have simply been unaware of the Quintessons' existence when he created them.
On a positive note, the Keepers Trilogy is one of the few stories to explore the long-term impact of Transformers' interaction with human society.