Thunder Guardians Go!

Written by Michael Robertson

Episode 1 - The Magnetic Menace!

The sun lit up the sky, unobstructed. Completely clear up there. It wasn't too windy, it wasn't too cold. Good picnic weather for once. And it was a good picnic - everyone was having a good time, the kids were playing and laughing and rolling down the grassy hills. Ashley was, in theory, enjoying herself. She just couldn't stop checking her phone.

"Ashley." Her husband looked at her. "Something's definitely going to go wrong if you keep checking."

"I know, I'm sorry." The bottom half of her face smiled. "It's just...Saturday."

"You keep saying."

"Saturday. Every Saturday morning, it happens. Three times now. Three Saturday mornings in a row, is that not enough of a pattern?"

Nathan was frowning at her. "It can't go on forever. We've got that team now, they'll sort it. Always do."

"I know, yes. Of course." The kids didn't seem bothered. If anything they seemed more excited than ever this morning. She looked over at her youngest, lying on his stomach, etching crayons into a pad of paper. Her chest tightened, then her eyes rolled when she saw what he was drawing.

That. Fucking. Robot.

The temperature dropped. The sky darkened. The sun still lit up the sky, but Ashley and her family now sat in shadow.

She got to her feet, turned around, and looked up. And up. And up.

"Okay kids, time to get packed away," Nathan called as he tried to control his hyperactive children, like he was shepherding them out of a theme park.

Ashley just stood there. She scrolled through her phone and pressed the bloody button.

> > > > >

A red spinning alarm wailed. On the screen - a large map of the city - a red dot on the outskirts blinked on. A smirk had spread across Blaze's face before his commander had even said the words. "Thunder Guardians go!"

"Thunder Guardians go!" repeated the five colour-coordinated youths, pumping their fists in unison.

They each entered the hanger through their own set of doors. Blaze raced down the red corridor - the colour of his suit - as he tapped buttons on his wrist device. The corridor was suspended in the air, the windows looking out at the huge machines below. Standing at the end, by the door of the Red Thunder Mech, was a girl with brown hair, a lab coat, and a clipboard.

"All systems go?" Blaze asked.

"As always sir," she replied.

"Just call me Blaze." He flashed his iconic smirk at her, his wicked eyes looking out from under dark messy hair. She blushed as he passed her and entered his Thunder Mech.

In the next corridor over, Specs ran towards her Blue Thunder Mech. She got to her door, adjusted her large round glasses, then stepped inside the giant plane that looked from certain angles like a right arm.

Next to her Mech was a giant plane that looked from certain angles like a left arm, and Damien was striding towards it down his dark black corridor. He didn't need to run - he wasn't going to waste energy on anything he didn't need to. Damien looked down at the tiny mechanics on the hanger floor below and contemplated their insignificance. He flicked the fringe out of his dark eyes, which rested back in front of his dark eyes, then climbed into the Black Thunder Mech.

Amy raced towards the Pink Mech, her beautiful hair flowing around her. She stopped to admire her perfect eyeliner in the reflection of the glass before climbing into her suspiciously leg-shaped vehicle.

The last member of the team, Tara, cracked her knuckles. "How's she lookin?"

A young guy in a sweater vest and bowtie greeted her with a smile. "The upgrades you requested are all done. The left knee should be a lot tighter now."

"That's what I like to hear. Let's get this done!" Tara was always requesting fine adjustments to the Green Thunder Mech to make it more powerful. She'd even requested changes to her suit, getting her sleeves removed to show her epic biceps in team photos.

All five heroic Thunder Guardians sat ready for blast-off. The mighty hanger bay doors slid open.

"Ready team?" called Blaze. "Let's rock and roll."

"Thunder Guardians go!"

Five engines roared to life and the Thunder Mechs blasted into the open sky, on their way to save the city.

Slowly, the bay doors slid back together and closed with an echoing clang.

The girl with the brown hair, lab coat, and clipboard stood in the empty space. The hanger looked impossibly big without the Thunder Mechs in it. This place cost a fortune to set up.

"Isn't this exciting?" said the young guy in the sweater vest and bowtie.

"The 'Thunder Guardians go!' thing gets old quick." Meredith made a note on her clipboard then stored it away under her arm. "The first time was cool but, like, are we gonna do this every Saturday?"

Rupert smiled. "It's a branding thing. Something to make the toys say when you press their belts. At least Blaze likes you."

"Blaze...flirts with everyone," said Meredith, moving a strand of hair from her eyes as she blushed again.

"I know," said Rupert, his own cheeks getting redder.

"Come on, arsewipes!" One of the tiny, insignificant mechanics was leaning out of a door, yelling at them. "Show's about to start!"

Meredith and Rupert rushed towards the open door and crammed themselves into Erika's office. The cramped little room had barely enough space for the three of them to move, along with a desk, a filing cabinet, and a large plant that tickled Rupert's face with its leaves. Erika tapped away at her keyboard and brought up the feed from upstairs, including the large map of the city with the blinking red dot. Now there were five green dots flying in formation right towards it. Zooming in on those dots brought up five windows - a cockpit view of each of the Thunder Guardians piloting their Mechs into battle. Erika crushed herself to one side to get a drawer open and pulled out a bag of sweeties. She opened them with a crinkly plastic rustle and stuffed a handful into her mouth.

"Okay Thunder Guardians, let's see what we're up against," said Blaze.

The five Mechs flew over the city. In the distance, quickly coming into focus, was a giant person. As tall as the tallest building, it stomped towards civilisation, sending tremors with every step. Down below, people screamed and ran.

Instead of hands, its arms ended in two curved magnets.

Only when the monster turned to face the approaching Thunder Mechs did they see that its head was shaped like a magnet too - a silver horseshoe with a red end and a blue end.

"Well now, look what I've pulled in!" the monster gravelled in a metallic rasp. "I'm Polaratrix!"

"Polaratrix..." Meredith wrote down on her clipboard. "Magnet guy. That's fun. Strange how the aliens have magnets that look exactly like our Earth magnets."

"I think they're scanning us," said Erika. "Picking out bits of Earth culture to make monsters out of, or something. Would explain that traffic light guy last week."

On screen, they saw Polaratrix point his magnet hands towards the Blue and Green Thunder Mechs. He let out a sinister cackle as his giant hands started to glow and the two jets were dragged towards him.

"Ugh, this guy's tough!" said Tara. She flicked switches in her cockpit, trying to make the Green Mech blast free.

"We're caught in Polaratrix's tractor beam!" explained Specs, adjusting her specs so she could read her specs. "The sheer force of that thing is positively unassailable! We'll need to triangulate our laser fire to disrupt the beam's source!"

"Hate her," said Erika. "Hate that they have a STEM person on the team, doing calculations and using long words. Everyone thinks she's the one who built everything. As if everything could be built by one person. She ain't even that much of a STEM person, she just owns a pair of glasses."

"She's doing STEM drag," Rupert nodded.

Erika silently offered the bag of sweeties to Rupert who took a handful without looking.

The Red, Pink, and Black Thunder Mechs unleashed a hail of laser fire at Polaratrix, who screamed and stumbled backwards, letting go of Blue and Green.

"Thanks team," said Tara.

"We got this!" said Blaze, giving a thumbs up.

"Do they think the word 'triangulate' means to have three people shoot at once?" asked Erika. "They didn't triangulate shit."

"I would've simply made a monster with five arms," said Meredith, almost to herself. "Pull in all five of them at once."

"Oh here we go," said Rupert, leaning forward in what little space he had. "The best bit."

The five colour-coordinated jets flew close in formation, wheeling around Polaratrix as he swiped at them.

"Okay guys," said Blaze. "Let's show em how it's done!"

"Thunder Guardians go!"

The five craft flew directly up, high above the monster. Then at the press of several buttons, they started to shift and transform. Two of the Thunder Mechs deployed fists while another two grew feet. Then, with almighty flashes of light, they all snapped together. The Red Thunder Mech, the body connecting them all, opened at the top to reveal a head, and the resulting combination drifted gently down to stand in front of Polaratrix. The five Thunder Mechs had become one giant person-shaped robot.

A new camera angle showed all five Thunder Guardians, now sitting in the same room, raising their fists in unison. "Thunder Knight, arise!"

The giant robot posed and a bolt of lightning struck.

The three employees in the tiny office gave a weak round of applause. It really was very impressive what they'd been able to build.

"Most impressive thing to me is how they all end up sitting in the same room once it's combined," Meredith mused.

"Don't even go there," said Erika. "Absolute nightmare getting the hydraulics to move all the chairs properly."

Polaratrix raised his mighty magnets and dragged the metal giant towards him. At the push of a button, Thunder Knight extended its fist and let the monster punch itself.

"AHH!!" Polaratrix stumbled backwards again. "You pesky Guardians pack quite a punch!"

"Do you ever worry about the monsters stumbling backwards onto a building? Or, like, a person?" asked Meredith.

"I updated the app so it tells people in range of an incident to evacuate," said Erika. "As long as they don't actually get into the city. It'd be surprised if the roads could take their weight."

Rupert leaned forward again. "Here comes the finisher!"

Thunder Knight bashed its fists together, then posed.

"Let's give this magnetic menace everything we've got!" called Blaze.

Then, in unison, all five Thunder Guardians posed. "Thunder Knight Justice Beam!"

A laser of rainbow light blasted from the giant robot's fists and burned a hole in Polaratrix's chest.

The monster sparked. It let out one final cry, then collapsed and exploded.

Thunder Knight lifted its arms again and fired two jets of foam that put out the fire, then pulled a heroic battle pose.

"Good job Guardians!" called Blaze. "The city is safe again!"

On the streets, people cheered and shouted and took selfies with the giant robot.

Ashley's kids waved up at it and Ashley herself sighed.

> > > > >

"Good work, Thunder Guardians." Commander Wallace paced back and forth in front of his five heroes. He was a thin man, given an imposing silhouette by his dark coat. "The city is once again safe thanks to your efforts. Enjoy your time off."

"Thanks commander," said Blaze.

The commander nodded. "Dismissed."

Blaze, Specs, Amy, and Tara high fived in various combinations. Damien kept his distance as always, regarding his teammates in the way a dark storm cloud regards a peaceful ocean. Blaze put his arm around his shoulder, silently inviting him to lighten up, and they all laughed their way out the door, just as Meredith, Rupert, and Erika came in.

"You wanted to see us?" said Erika.

"As always, the Thunder Mechs performed perfectly," said Commander Wallace. "You and your teams should be immensely proud. The technological feat you have all accomplished will be remembered forever and your work routinely saves thousands of lives."

Erika smiled. "Thank you sir."

"We'd like you to give it a sword."

For a moment, all they could hear was the sound of machinery quietly humming in the background.

Erika maintained her smile. "Sorry, what?"

"A sword. The Thunder Knight is a knight after all."

She frowned, then politely laughed at the joke. Meredith and Rupert joined in to take the edge off the awkwardness.

When the empty laugher had run its course, they were left once again with the humming and the commander's expectant gaze. "How soon can you have this done?"

"Sir." Erika pressed her hands together in front of her face. "You want us to give the Thunder Knight a sword because of its name?"

"Also because it tested well with the focus groups. And we need more toys to sell. The merch is really keeping this whole world-saving operation afloat."

Erika tilted her head, her eyes closed in quiet anger. "But the Thunder Knight had no difficulty destroying the monster. It never does! Think of how much it would cost."

"Think of how much I have." Commander Wallace turned his back on the trio and sauntered away. "Good luck, team!"

> > > > >

Erika cracked open an energy drink and took a gasping swig. "RIGHT. This sword's gonna need to fold up or something, but it can't fold up when it's hitting a bad guy or it'd be a pretty shite sword." She sat with Rupert and Meredith in the conference room usually reserved for Wallace and his shareholders. "Also, which Thunder Mech do we burden with this thing?"

"The red one." said Rupert. "Blaze is the leader, it'll add a bit of extra...drama to his Mech."

"Ooh, if we mount it to the underside of Blaze's Mech, it'll be on the Thunder Knight's back when they combine!" said Meredith. "So grabbing the sword will look like the Knight's unsheathing it!"

Rupert slammed the desk. "It's there, we got it, done."

Meredith started scribbling. "The design of this thing would need to be aerodynamic. And we'd need to increase the strength of the thrusters to compensate for the new load."

In the middle of the conference table sat the transforming toys of the five Thunder Mechs. Erika reached over and grabbed them. " might just be easier to make the sword its own thing."

"Its own thing..." Rupert leaned back in his chair. "You mean..."

Erika nodded. "A sixth Thunder Mech."

Rupert and Meredith both let out an impressed, semi-sarcastic "ooooOOOOOoooo."

"A simple Thunder Mech. Small, remote controlled. Literally just a box with a rocket booster on it. It flies into battle when called and unfolds into a sword."

"So it's not burdening the Thunder Knight when it's not needed," said Meredith.

Rupert grabbed the Red Thunder Mech toy from Erika and started rolling it around. "What colour is it going to be?"

Erika snorted. "Why does it need a colour? Its colour is sword. It's the sword one. Its hex value is #stabby."

"They all need a colour. Branding."

"We're trying to save people's lives from evil space aliens, not make money."

Meredith looked up from her notes. "Money would help actually, this is going to cost an arm and a leg."

"I hope not," said Erika. "The arms and legs cost a fortune."

Rupert lined up all the toys. "Red for Blaze, Blue for Specs, Black for Damien, Pink for Amy, and Green for Tara. What"

"What about silver?" said Meredith. "Swords are silver."

"Nah, not silver," said Erika. "It's just a standard power-up, it's not that special."

"I thought you said it didn't need a colour?"

"I did, but if we're giving it one it might as well be right." Erika thought about it. "I like orange. Truly the most auxiliary of all colours."

"Boom. Bingo. We shoot, we score," said Rupert, getting up. "Now we just need to build a little orange plane that turns into a sword! Let's go!"

Rupert raised his hand for a high five. Nobody high fived him.

> > > > >

Erika explained the plan to her team of graphic designers, who set about 3D modelling a sword that could fold up into something that could fly. Meredith dropped by a few times to bring fresh coffee and watch the latest simulations, a few of which literally crashed and burned. Even Commander Wallace poked his head in, was very complimentary, and insisted on running the final shade of orange by his focus groups.

Based on the height of the Thunder Knight, it was easy to calculate how long the sword needed to be and therefore how much material it would require to make. Rupert and Erika checked through the final designs while sharing gossip. Apparently some rich prick was trying to shut down Carol's, the trendy cafe where the Thunder Guardians liked to hang out. Luckily, all the cool kids in the city rallied together and told him to take a hike.

As the collapsible blade was being forged and assembled, a team of people in lab coats and goggles tested the strength of the rocket thrusters required to move the thing. Thunder Knight's AI then had be modified so it knew how to pick the sword up and swing it when it arrived on the battlefield.

At the end of it all, on a Friday night, Meredith, Erika, and Rupert, alongside 40 or so engineers, software designers, mechanics, concept artists, and 3D modellers, stood in the hanger looking at a sixth Thunder Mech. Wallace's focus groups were a challenge to work with but it was a nice orange.

Rupert put his hands on his hips and sighed at a job well done. "And now we wait."

> > > > >

Saturday morning.

A red spinning alarm wailed. The map lit up with a new threat.

Commander Wallace gave the signal. "Thunder Guardians go!"

Blaze, Specs, Damien, Amy, and Tara blasted off in their Red, Blue, Black, Pink, and Green Thunder Mechs, flying once more to the rescue.

Rupert and Meredith shuffled in to Erika's office. "I got popcorn this time," said Rupert.

"Is it sweet?" asked Erika.

"Of course not, it's popcorn," said Rupert, throwing a handful into his mouth.

Meredith fiddled with her clipboard. "Moment of truth."

"Maybe," said Erika. "None of the other fights needed a sword, why would this one?"

The five Thunder Guardians arrived at their destination and saw this week's monster.

It was a plant. A giant green plant man covered in poisonous flowers and wrapped in thorny vines.

"I am Flower Fiend!" announced Flower Fiend. "You'll never be able to cut my deadly vines!"

Erika glared at the screen. "Mmmm."

The Thunder Mechs flew in a tight formation, twisting through the air, snapping together one by one until the shape of a person whirled through the sky, delivering a spinning kick to the enemy. Thunder Knight landed and struck a powerful pose.

The kick had made a hole in Flower Fiend which immediately grew back over, fresh branches and vines filling in the gap.

"Take this, Thunder Guardians! Ha!" From its fingers shot thick green vines that wrapped around Thunder Knight, pinning its arms down.

"Oh no!" Specs tried flipping every switch, pressing every button. "All of our systems have been neutralised! This vegetable matter is unbreakable!"

Blaze smirked. He rubbed his hands together and cracked his knuckles. "Right then. Time for something brand new."

He pushed an orange button in his cockpit.

"Orange Thunder Mech, let's go!"

The small plane in the hanger lit up. Its jet engine burst on. From the office, Rupert, Erika, and Meredith heard it rip by them and launch out into the air.

"Now I have you exactly where I want you!" Flower Fiend growled, slowly stomping towards the Thunder Knight. Every time its leg touched the ground its roots buried deep into the soil, and every time it lifted its leg again it uprooted itself, tearing a path through the earth.

Flower Fiend raised his arm, ready to strike...

...but then!

The Orange Thunder Mech reconfigured itself from a plane into a sword, span through the air, and cleaved Flower Fiend's arm off.

The monster roared, the vines slackened, and Thunder Knight caught its new weapon with one hand raised above its head. The sun glinted off the new orange blade.

Below, citizens oohed and ahhed and gasped before agreeing on applause.

The Thunder Knight advanced and started hacking away at Flower Fiend. "No! This planet will be overthrown! Or should I say...OVERGROWN!?"

The monster's human shape started to devolve into an angry mass of vines and thorns.

With one final strike, the Thunder Knight stabbed the orange sword straight into the place where the Flower Fiend would've kept a heart. The monster screamed as it withered and a blizzard of brown dead leaves were ripped away into the wind.

It only took a few moments for the towering tree to collapse into nothing.

The Thunder Knight, triumphant, held its new sword aloft and the people of the city cheered.

In the office, Erika, Meredith, and Rupert breathed a sigh of relief, then shared a few feeble high fives, like a space program control room that had just successfully landed a shuttle in Montrose.

"It really is a nice orange," Erika grumbled.

> > > > >

"Mum, hurry up!"

The air was damp and an unseen seagull called to another in the distance. Ashley's kids vanished into the Wilsons, past the pick and mix sweet stand, guided by pure instinct towards the toy aisle. Ashley always thought it was an assault on the senses, the bright and clashing colours of the action figures in their boxes, each designed by a different brand's marketing team to get you to look at them.

She couldn't believe it when she heard. She'd already been forced into buying them the transforming Thunder Knight toy and the action figures of all five of its pilots. They were heroes, of course, but it just felt strange having toys of celebrities around the house. They were people, and people weren't perfect. But whatever - they made the kids happy so she bought them. Maybe it would inspire them to grow up to help people or something.

But then her kids saw the new advert on TV, between their cartoons, and she knew she was never going to hear the end of it.

There it was, sitting on the shelf. The brand new Orange Thunder Mech.

Ashley sighed.

"Pleeeeeeease mum," said her youngest. "It's not complete if we don't have the orange one!"

She folded her arms. "It was complete a week ago. It was a perfectly fine, functioning robot man, perfectly capable of blowing up bad guys."

"Yeah but muuuuum, that was before we knew there was an orange one! It won't work without the orange one now!"

Ashley looked at Nathan. Nathan was finding this all very funny. She reached into her bag for her purse. "Just this once."