Mystery of the Space Pirate Ship is the twenty-third episode of Transformers: The Headmasters. It first aired in Japan on December 25, 1987 on Nippon TV.
The Autobot and Decepticon clones enter the fray as both factions search for the hidden proton energy of Pirate Planet.
Somewhere in the depths of space, on a barren world known only as the "Pirate Planet," the Decepticon clones, Pounce and Wingspan touch down on the rocky surface. They are searching for the second half of a small, golden skull-shaped idol - an item that is in the possession of the Autobot clones, Fastlane and Cloudraker, who are lying in ambush! The two sets of clones engage in battle over the skull, and the Autobots take the upper hand until Sixshot appears and aids the Decepticon clones in defeating their opponents. As the Autobots escape, Galvatron appears, demanding to know why the Decepticon clones have not yet discovered the secret store of energy hidden on Pirate Planet. The skull, they explain, will reveal all, which is why they must obtain the second half from the Autobots.
Fastlane and Cloudraker contact Battleship Maximus, summoning the Autobots aboard to Pirate Planet. As they set forth, Daniel wonders if everyone that lives on the planet is a pirate, but Highbrow sets him straight, explaining that it was used by pirates in the past to store the energy and wealth they plundered from neighboring planets. While the Autobots reflect on Galvatron's mysterious plan for the energy the Decepticons have gathered and Highbrow's continued attempts to identify Scorponok's weak spot, Battleship Maximus enters a "space graveyard", a mass of debris from wrecked spaceships. Highbrow and Daniel are particularly interested in a nearly-intact spacecraft that resembles an earthly pirate ship, and Highbrow notes that the skull of the ship's stern is emitting a strange signal.
Back on Pirate Planet, the Clones are again battling each other, this time with the Horrorcons adding their firepower to the Decepticon side. A tackle from Apeface knocks the second half of the skull from the Autobots' grasp, and the Decepticons pull out, returning to Scorponok. There, Galvatron links the two skull-halves together, activating an electronic map that pinpoints the location of the "proton energy" stockpiled by the pirates.
Elsewhere, Battleship Maximus has landed, and the Autobot clones report their sad situation to the crew. They recount their history with the Decepticon clones - formerly friends before either group had sided with a faction, the two teams separated to travel through space to train and increase their skills. It was during this period that Fastlane and Cloudraker came upon the skull, and soon met up with the Wingspan and Pounce again, only to discover that their former friends had joined the Decepticons, and had half of the skull stolen from them. Twincast reports in that the Decepticons have located the proton energy, and the Headmasters head out to meet them in battle at an old ruined site in a desert. The skull is reclaimed and the Decepticons are quickly repelled, allowing Highbrow to study the skull and figure out what to do next - when the skull is placed in an another skull-shaped receptacle on the desert floor, a signal is transmitted that raises a giant pyramid from beneath the sand. A sneak attack from Galvatron fells Highbrow, and he is taken back to Battleship Maximus for medical attention. The door of the pyramid proves so tough, however, that Galvatron is forced to have Scorponok pound on it with his claws, to no avail.
Recuperating on Battleship Maximus, Highbrow realises that the signal emitted by the skull in the desert is the same as the one being emitted by the skull on the ship out in the space graveyard. He and Daniel board Shouki and Yukikaze and head for the graveyard, although their departure is observed by Soundblaster, and he pursues them. While on the journey, Highbrow notices that Daniel has brought his video-game light gun with him, and switches its power cartridge while the boy is not looking. Subsequently, they arrive at the pirate ship, and Shouki and Yukikaze tear off the skull. Soundblaster then appears and holds the Autobots at gunpoint, demanding to know the connection. Highbrow whispers to Daniel to use his gun, explaining that he has swapped the cartridges to give the gun real power, but when Daniel hesitates, Soundblaster nicks Highbrow with a blast of his own, spurring Daniel on to open fire and send Soundblaster flying off through space.
Back down on Pirate Planet, Battleship Maximus joins the fight, and while everyone is occupied with the fighting, Highbrow connects the skull from the ship to a headless skeleton positioned by the pyramid door. The pyramid opens up and Highbrow and Daniel head inside; they are attacked by the Decepticon clones, but the Autobot clones come to their rescue and send them packing. Outside, Scorponok transforms to robot mode, and Fortress becomes Fortress Maximus; as the Headmasters distract Scorponok, Maximus delivers a slash to his chest with the Master Sword, causing him to start bleeding energy badly and forcing the Decepticons to retreat.
As the Autobots gather themselves at the battle's end, Highbrow reveals that the pyramid contains no energy at all, showing the others a message carved in stone by the pirates. The message explains that the proton energy is unstable, and if it misused, it will bring only death to those who would manipulate it - a fate that has already befallen some poor, unknown souls in the past, which is what caused the once-green Pirate Planet to become the barren wasteland it is now. Twincast reports that the Decepticons are now on their way back to Chaar - the planet-plundering is done, and now it is time for the real war to begin!
In the episode
English dub changes
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
Animation and/or technical glitches
- In the first scene of the episode, Wingspan and Pounce each speak a line, but Pounce is animated as speaking both of them. Consequently, both the StarTV dub and the R2 DVD subtitles rework the two lines into one.
- Galvatron's unknown master plan was first hinted at in "Fight to the Death on Planet Hive!!"
- The existence of Scorponok's mysterious weak spot was revealed in "Find MegaZarak's Weak Spot!!."
- Daniel's video game light gun previously appeared in "Find MegaZarak's Weak Spot!!."
- As in "Fight to the Death on Planet Hive!!", Scorponok takes a slash to the chest from the Master Sword and immediately retreats. Just as in that episode, you might think that it's simply 1980s cartoon villain logic, but just wait for "I Risk My Life for Earth".