Thunder Guardians Go!

Written by Michael Robertson

Episode 2 - The Sword in Space!

Ashley and Nathan sat on the sofa, half-watching the news. Their youngest, Jayden, and their eldest, Lily, sat on the carpet and played with their Thunder Mech toys, transforming and un-transforming them, making pew pews and explosion noises at each other. Ashley watched Jayden fly the orange one around with his hand. At least they were playing with it.

Their middle child, Toby, sat with his headphones in, watching his tablet. A streamer was doing a tier list of the six Thunder Mechs.

"Orange is a B. I hear the chat saying it's A, but nah, that's a B. It doesn't even have a pilot. The press release said it was remote control. Less cool."

Ashley idly scrolled through her phone. Her last open tab was looking at price ranges of houses in other cities nearby.

A ping. Nathan checked his own phone. Ashley watched him read a lengthy text, then type a lengthy reply.

"Who's that?" she asked.

"Eric. Says he's going to be in Silver Bay for the weekend, asking if we want to meet up and do something."

"Why? With everything that's happening? Why's he coming all the way here if he's not specifically seeing you?"

Nathan smiled. "His kids want to see the robot."

> > > > >

Rupert Hope loved his walk to work. He loved his work. And, he really did love his city. Silver Bay had a cozy feeling to it, despite being huge. He liked the view of the sea and the smell of the air. He pulled his coat a bit tighter against the breeze.

The Wallace Facility was on the edge of the city - it had to be to house the Thunder Mechs and give them room to deploy. On some days he took the bus out but today he walked. A small group was heading in the opposite direction to drink and hang out at Carol's. He passed the museum, where a big sign in the window boasted about their 70s invasion exhibit. They'd always had that exhibit, but now that Earth was once again under attack from giant monsters - right here in this city, no less - they'd expanded it to a whole wing.

When he first saw the sign, Rupert wondered if it was a bit tasteless. Profiting on the previous disaster? It took a while for Japan to get Earth's first giant robot off the ground, and in that time hundreds lost their lives. Commander Wallace bought the rights to adapt that giant robot, the aliens came back, and he put some of his billions into building a new one. Then the merchandise started. Profiting on the current disaster.

Rupert considered his place in all of this. There was a real series of events that could lead to him becoming a celebrity someday. An action figure. He smiled. What would Rupert Hope's accessories be? More than that, would he want the attention? Could he handle it?

As funny as it would be for the first week, he knew the answer was no.

> > > > >

Meredith Grant poked her head into the tiny office. "How's it going?"

"I can't find these fucking aliens anywhere!" Erika Fisher leaned back in her chair, just enough to convey exhaustion without banging her head. "Every week we get attacked by aliens from outer space. Every week they appear on the edge of the city, advancing towards us, from apparently nowhere."

Meredith entered properly and got the door shut behind her. One of the monitors showed a basic layout of the solar system.

"There's a readable trace of something entering the atmosphere and falling all the way down to the ground just before each fight. It's like these giant creatures get dropped onto Earth in a tiny little capsule, then grow to giant size when they land? I guess?"

"But no sign of what's dropping them?" asked Meredith.

"No satellite, no telescope, nothing is picking up anything around Earth that shouldn't be there. If there is an alien spaceship out there throwing monsters at us to fight every week, it's completely invisible."

"So what's the plan?"

Erika sighed and shuffled a pile of paper into a drawer. "I'm preparing a report for Wallace. The Thunder Mechs are, of course, built to go to space."

"We're going to space?!" Rupert crammed into the office.

"Nice bowtie," said Meredith.

He smiled a proud dimply smile. "It's new."

"Problem is, we can't spare any of the Thunder Guardians during a monster attack," said Erika. "They're all needed to form the Thunder Knight. Luckily..."

"We now have a spare one!" said Rupert. "We can fly the Orange Thunder Mech into space. Remotely, since it doesn't have a pilot seat, which is less exciting."

Erika nodded. "We're gonna find out what goes on in outer space on a Saturday morning. If Wallace okays it."

"Have you put any thought into the timing of the attacks?" asked Meredith.

"A bit. Saturday - the work week's over, start of the weekend, everyone's relaxed and unsuspecting. But that surprise factor is undercut by the attacks being at the exact same time every week. Alien invasion as routine. Maybe the process of making a new monster takes seven days? They have to be made. Artificial. There can't naturally be a species of giant aliens based on random things we happen to have on Earth."

"I wonder what they look like when they're attacking other planets," said Rupert. "They must attack other planets, it can't just be us."

"I wonder what they look like when they're at home," said Meredith.

> > > > >

Commander Wallace was very enthusiastic when he read Erika's report and heard her proposal. He'd insisted when the Thunder Mechs were first built that they should be capable of going to space to bring the fight to the aliens - an upgrade on the original giant robot. Having a sixth Mech to fly out to space during battles could be the breakthrough this fight needed.

The Guardians were given the details - during their next encounter, they wouldn't be able to call on the Orange Thunder Mech - and were dismissed to enjoy their week. Damien learned a valuable lesson about teamwork from Blaze and together they all helped clean up litter in a nearby park.

Meanwhile, Erika, Meredith, and Rupert made the necessary checks on the Orange Thunder Mech's engine and sensors. In moments like this, Meredith smiled to herself imagining the email she was going to send to her mother. Moving to Silver Bay, working in an office for years, deciding to apply to Wallace's job opening as an admin assistant on his big new project, it felt like it'd all happened to someone else.

At first it was overwhelming. Wallace was eccentric - big ideas but not a lot of interest in the little things that made those ideas work. Setting everything up, organising the space for what would quickly become the Thunder Mechs, the interview process for the Guardians, it was all so exhausting. Then she met Erika and Rupert, and the chaos became fun. It was ridiculous, it was uncontrollable, and it was way beyond her. As long as she did her little part to keep the city safe, she could let herself slow down once in a while to enjoy it.

She had a job to do. Her life was so stupid. She'd feel a lot happier if evil aliens weren't attacking Earth every week.

She was so lucky.

> > > > >

It was Saturday, early in the morning. The Thunder Guardians were on standby, waiting for the weekly attack. Meredith, Erika, and Rupert were crammed into their tiny office.

The Orange Thunder Mech launched successfully and was now flying directly upwards, away from Silver Bay. What it saw was displayed on a monitor allowing Erika to pilot it remotely.

She took her eyes off the screen briefly to look at what Rupert was wearing. "It's neckerchief day?"

"Yes it is."

"I miss the bowtie."

"That's the purpose of neckerchief day. Keep the people hungry."

They watched the screen as the blue-grey sky got closer and closer until they were deep in the clouds. It felt somehow disrespectful to take their eyes off this sight to instead stare at a number ticking up on another monitor, but it was the only way to tell they were still going up. The off-white barrier went on for quite some time.

Then it stopped. They emerged on the other side and saw only stars stretching through darkness.

The tiny little monitor in the tiny little office felt like a window into the impossible. A piece of technology they helped to build was perched on the edge of everything.

Erika flipped some switches. "Sensors sensing. Scanners scanning. Where are the aliens?"

The stars refused to answer.

The Orange Thunder Mech drifted onwards, a strangely-coloured satellite which was also the collapsed form of a giant robot's sword.

Its movement sensor flashed.

"There." Erika leaned forwards.

She zoomed in on their view of space with the ratcheting scroll of an old mouse.

There was something. Something tiny and metal and heading straight for Earth.

"Is that a monster capsule?" said Rupert.

Erika nodded. "Yeah. It must be." She tapped a few buttons, then picked up a phone. "Thunder Guardians, I think we have our monster of the week."

"Roger that," Blaze smirked.

"How did you do that, this is a phone call?"

He was already off the line.

"Okay." Erika hung up too and tapped more buttons. "We can see where this little metal thing is headed, yeah? But where did it come from?"

On one screen, the path of the capsule was charted out, the angle and speed was calculated, and a line was drawn through space from where it was going to where it had been.

On another screen, the Thunder Guardians launched, ready to meet the new monster.

"Thunder Guardians go!"

Erika leaned forward on her USB joystick, sending the Orange Thunder Mech sailing back down the capsule's path, away from planet Earth.

"The new monster has arrived," said Meredith, scrolling through social media.

A few moments later, it appeared on the other screen. The monster was yellow and wearing what appeared to be a suit of armour, with a giant scoop attached to its stomach.

Rupert studied its design. "Is it...bulldozer themed?"

"Ahahahaha!" cackled the monster. "I'm Doomdozer and I'm here to demolish this pitiful planet!"

"Oh yeah?" Blaze raised an eyebrow. "Well we're representatives of the council here to inform you that you don't have permission to operate construction equipment in this area! Please come back when you've filled out the correct paperwork!"

Tara turned to directly look at Blaze through the window of her Thunder Mech. She extended a thumbs up. "Got him."

"Thunder Knight, arise!"

The rainbow of Thunder Mechs arced through the air and snapped together, one by one, before landing on its feet and posing.

Far below, kids cheered and parents recorded everything on their phones.

Far above, the Orange Thunder Mech raced through space towards the origin of the monster capsule.

Erika drowned out the all too familiar sounds of a giant robot fighting an alien. Her eyes flicked across the screens, the instruments, the calculated path ahead. This line through the space was taking them around to the far side of Earth's moon.

A beeping noise.

"There's something up ahead."

The Thunder Knight's blows bounced off Doomdozer's thick armour plating.

The monster laughed. "Is that all you've got?" It reeled back and charged into the Thunder Knight, smashing it with the yellow scoop on its chest.

The Thunder Guardians shook in the cockpit as sparks filled their view.

"Damage sustained!" said Specs.

"This guy means business!" said Amy.

Damien growled. "So do we."

The jet engines on the back of the Black Thunder Mech fired up and the Thunder Knight's left arm blasted a rocket-powered punch at Doomdozer.

In space, the Orange Thunder Mech blasted around the moon, approaching its dark side. Erika instinctively tilted her head as if it would help her see around.

The beeping had increased in speed. Something was out there. Something close.

Despite every warning, it still made them jump. It was surreal, like a joke. This whole set-up started to feel like they were playing a game. Erika had to remind herself what she was seeing was real.

Hiding behind the moon, hanging in space, was a flying saucer. Erika shivered. The craft was unlike anything she'd seen but unmistakable in its purpose. Vast and round and smooth.

"We're recording aren't we?" asked Rupert.

"Yeah," said Meredith, quietly.

The sensors on the outside of the Orange Thunder Mech illuminated and started to scan the shape in space, taking readings of everything there was to be read. Erika looked at the impossible image and got the feeling that it had also started to scan them.

Doomdozer smashed into the Thunder Knight, forcing it backwards. The ground tore apart as its mighty metal feet dragged through it.

Missiles poured out the back of the Knight, locked on to their target, and ineffectually bounced off its metal plating like rain.

A progress bar ticked up slowly on the scan of the spaceship.



On the other monitor, they watched the Thunder Knight get pummelled. It tried to fight back but every attack just bounced off Doomdozer.

"They need something to pierce through the monster's armour," said Rupert. "They need...the sword."

Erika stared at the progress bar.



Sparks flew as the Thunder Knight was hit, again and again.


Erika turned the Orange Thunder Mech around and blasted back towards Earth.

The Thunder Knight sparked and struggled as Doomdozer giggled.

Erika leaned forward. "Faster!"

The Orange Thunder Mech unfolded, its engines retracted, and it shifted into its sword form. Erika pointed the blade at Silver Bay as it plunged back into the atmosphere.

As it fell, the sword began to burn. A brilliant orange streak flared across the sky.

Erika picked up the phone again. "Guardians, stand back. You have a sword incoming."

"Right." Blaze cracked his knuckles. "Everyone, we don't need to pierce Doomdozer's armour, we just need to push him back!"

"Though piercing his armour would be a bonus!" Amy added.

Then all five Thunder Guardians raised their arms and voices. "FIRE!"

A barrage of lasers blasted out of the Thunder Knight's body and limbs.

"Argh!" Doomdozer raised his mighty scoop against the blasts but was forced back regardless, right into the path of a growing shadow.

Doomdozer looked up and saw the sword crashing down from above. "Looks like I'm the one who's being demolished!"

Impact. In an explosion of sparks and flame, the Orange Thunder Mech ran Doomdozer through.

The Thunder Knight stepped forward and unsheathed its weapon from the monster's head.

The giant armoured bulldozer man fell backwards and exploded.

"Woooo!" Blaze cheered. "Good job team!"

The Thunder Knight posed with its sword held high.

Erika, Meredith, and Rupert all relaxed.

They didn't say anything for a very long time.

> > > > >

Commander Wallace watched the video, then took a long pause. "Finally."

Erika had done incredible things. She'd overseen the construction of a giant robot designed to protect the world. She'd shaken hands with the mayor and her wife. And earlier today, she'd remotely flown a craft around the moon to find an alien spaceship.

"Good job, Ms Fisher. You've done us a great service today."

"Thanks, appreciate it."

An assistant appeared by Wallace's side. "Commander, the Thunder Guardians are here."

"Ah good, send them in." He turned back to Erika. "That'll be all."

Erika nodded. She turned and headed back to the office, just as the Thunder Guardians entered. Blaze, Specs, Damien, Tara, and Amy all walked by her and arranged themselves in formation, ready to hear what Wallace had to say.

As Erika walked out the door, she heard the start of Wallace's speech. "Well Thunder Guardians, my idea was an absolute success! I've been able to determine-"

The door closed.

Part of her was trying to hear the rest, even though she knew it would make her angry.

My idea. I've been able.

She took a breath, like her dad taught her, and made a decision about how angry she was going to let herself be.

Erika turned around and got back to work.

> > > > >

Ashley and Nathan sat once again in their living room, TV on in the background.

"Eric's kids enjoyed the robot," Nathan said, scrolling through texts. "Sofia's not happy."

"Seriously?" asked Ashley. "She's just nuts."

"Oh she admits the robot's real now but she's still saying the aliens are a hoax. She says they're both robots. They had a proper argument about it."

Ashley leaned back on the sofa, looking up at the ceiling and the circular shapes in the plaster. "Aliens used to be the big thing. The big question. But Lily and Toby and Jayden and all their friends are never gonna question it. It's just part of the world for them, always has been."

Nathan nodded. "It was easier to call the first one fake, before the internet. But then the internet created whole new ways for things to be faked so..." He stretched. "I need to remember to put the bins out."


The Thunder Knight toy was still lying on the floor from when the kids were playing with it, now with its orange sword thing held up.

Ashley sighed a little.

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