There's a bomb on Optimus Prime that will go boom.
The Autobot Powermasters Getaway, Slapdash and Joyride arrive to guard a warehouse belonging to Ethan Zachary's Alternate Reality computer company, where a backup of the floppy disk containing Optimus Prime's personality is stored. They relieve the Protectobots so that they can travel to Rutter U.S. Military Base, where the Combaticons have been spotted. However, once the Protectobots are gone, Darkwing and Dreadwind attack the base, and after a struggle with Rev, Darkwing's Nebulan partner Throttle steals the disk.
Getaway grabs onto Darkwing and Dreadwind as they combine and ends up trapped in their joints as they escape. The newly returned Protoctobots form Defensor, but are unable to shoot the Decepticons down without also destroying Getaway and Rev. The appearance of 4 of the 5 Combaticons (Blast Off had been tasked with transporting the stolen military equipment) allows Darkwing and Dreadwind to escape.
Getaway is imprisoned on board Scorponok's orbiting space ship. He learns that the stolen equipment, two missiles with warheads and most of the components for the advanced A.B.C. guidance computer, are going to be used to create a smart bomb, designed to home in on Optimus Prime using the specifications on the disk. Despite being restrained by energy manacles, Getaway is able to escape from a cell via the creative use of a credit card (probably a Blackrock card). Still manacled, he and Rev reach the A.B.C. (which has been completed with Cybertronian technology) and retrieve the disk with Prime's backup. Getaway interfaces with the upgraded A.B.C., but is unable to change its rigid human programming. Getaway speaks eloquently about Optimus Prime's good nature, but the computer still refuses to stop the missile. Rev secures an escape pod, and they are forced to flee, radioing a warning to Optimus Prime.
Optimus Prime flees to the mountains, where he can face the missile with minimal interference and a decreased risk of collateral damage. However, the smart bomb proves to be a clever opponent for Optimus. When he tries to trick it into a collapsing tunnel, it evades. When he tries to blast it out of the sky, it retreats. Deciding to outwait its fuel supply, Optimus Prime races to a nearby lake, where the missile would be unable to strike them beneath the water. However, his Nebulan partner Hi-Q so over-strains his systems to get them to the lake ahead of the missile, the breathing system in his Powermaster exo-suit malfunctions. Rather than let Hi-Q drown, Prime surfaces. Prime leaves Hi-Q at the shore and then sprints far enough that Hi-Q will not be harmed by the explosion. Bereft of any other options, when the missile comes at him, Optimus Prime punches it.
The missile fails to explode. It seems that the A.B.C. computer had been so moved by Getaway's description of Optimus Prime's good character that it overcame its programming and disarmed the warhead. Getaway laments that Scorponok will almost certainly destroy the computer for its disobedience, but the Autobots instead choose to celebrate its—no, his—life as the first Earth machine to achieve free will.
- Optimus Prime is drawn with only four fingers on each hand.
Items of note
- The appearance of Dreadwind and Darkwing turns this story into something of a continuity headache, as they were never seen working for Scorponok in the main comic storyline, and in fact spent very little time on Earth at all. It's possible they worked for him after leaving Nebulos but before taking up their robot-spotting gig with the Mecannibals (after all, they left Cybertron specifically to find Scorponok and his crew), but there's no direct evidence for it outside this story. They also reappear on Earth in the equally problematic Annual story "Dreadwing Down!", this time with the Shockwave or Ratbat-allied Seacons coming to their rescue. Apparently, they'll work for anybody.
- Having Optimus Prime on Earth as a Powermaster, and the Protectobots still active, could place the story shortly before the Underbase Saga, although as the Protectobots weren't among the on-panel casualties of that storyline it could, at a stretch, take place between then and "The Greatest Gift of All".
- The Combaticons are shown working for Scorponok, which could not have happened until he assumed command of the Earth Decepticons -- which would definitely place it after the Underbase Saga.
- There is implication elsewhere that most of the non-organic Transformers (which would include the Protectobots and Combaticons) went offline during the Underbase Saga, which basically means this story couldn't happen at all.
- Try not to think too hard about it.
- Slapdash's Nebulan partner Lube does not appear in this story -- Slapdash forgot about him, trapping himself in vehicle mode.