Team M.E.C.H.A.

Author: Chris Meadows


A series featuring Mike, Summer, Adam Douglas, Lincoln Douglas, Sarah Conner, Ariella Conner, Robert, Ray Sterling, and Dr. Odd Science, who make up Team M.E.C.H.A. Team M.E.C.H.A. uses Cyclones, hardsuits, Bahamodes, and other anime-type mecha. The story basically deals with their heroic deeds, and includes crossovers with Spectrum, Space Moose, Force Ten, and others, as well as a spin-off miniseries, "On the Care and Feeding of Unicorns." The style is more serious than some Superguy tales, less so than others, sometimes with subtle (or not-so-subtle) parody.


First Arc (#1-11): Team M.E.C.H.A. began in mid-1993, when Mike and his sister Summer stumbled upon a former top-secret government lab in the Ozark woods near a friend's house. Because Summer was a superguy fangirl, they figured that the best way to meet superguys would be to become a superteam themselves—and so Mike made up the name Team M.E.C.H.A. as something that looked neat in print and sounded cool to say—despite not actually standing for anything. He used the base's CAD/CAM facilities to manufacture mecha from his favorite anime to use as crime-fighting equipment.

Not having any real idea how to go about getting in touch with the other heroes, Team M.E.C.H.A. staged several robberies that they foiled themselves, for the purpose of gaining publicity. It didn't seem to do much good, though; eventually, they set out to fly up to Seattle for the Team Cynical/Awesome Force softball game, but were shot down en route by Dr. Sebastian Zwarghoff, a mad scientist who would become their nemesis. While freeing the small Nevada town of Garrett Falls from his dominion, Mike and Summer met Adam Douglas, Lincoln Douglas, and Sarah Conner, who would join their team after the battle was over.

Second Arc (#12-22)—the Odd Science Convention: After returning home to Missouri, the newly-augmented Team M.E.C.H.A. decided to take in the First Annual Odd Science convention, where a great deal of superscience and ubertech are on display—after all, they might learn something. At the convention, they met Dr. Anthony McLaren, who had a display of silvery fluid nanites in a tank; they also met the newly-arrived Spectrum, who was shilling for his friend Dr. Hans K. Cheef's not-quite-functional suit of armor.

The convention was subsequently attacked by mobsters, who wanted to get their hands on a hyperdrive engine being displayed there. Shots went wild, the hyperdrive engine was hit and splashed with nanites, and Summer rocketed up into the sky to get it to a safe distance before it can go critical. The resulting hyperspatial explosion fused Summer, the nanites, and her hardsuit, giving her shapeshifting powers.

It seemed that the mobster was not the only one who had designs on the convention, however; Anime Freak, Marie the Invid, and a squad of Zoomers also hit the place, and Robotech defender Ray Sterling thought it best to join forces with Team M.E.C.H.A. to fight them. Also joining forces was Space Moose.

In the chaos, Dr. McLaren was captured by the Invid, and Mike and the team had to go and rescue him. After they had retrieved him, McLaren revealed that he had told the Invid a false name so they would not know his real identity—and that his true name was Dr. Odd Science.

Third Arc (#23-30)—She Blinded Me With Science: After everyone had settled down from the events of the Convention, Dr. Science and Ray Sterling decided to join Team M.E.C.H.A. for a while—Dr. Science wanted to study Summer's new nanite symbiosis more closely, and Ray didn't really have anything better to do. Dr. Zwarghoff broke out of the Hard to Get Out Of Place, causing Team M.E.C.H.A. to have to help catch all the prisoners it released, and proceeded to invade and take over Team M.E.C.H.A.'s base (where he had formerly worked for the government on a Grunion-Buster-related research project) for the purpose of cranking out an army of robotic drones. Summer, while learning how to use (and angsting about) her new abilities, helped the rest of the team stop them—most notably by using a device Dr. Science created to blind their sensors. That is to say, she blinded them with Science.

Fourth Arc (#31-35, & associated episodes of Spectrum, Space Moose, Marie, Crapshoot, etc.)—Bob City Megacrossover:
This plot involved Team M.E.C.H.A. and friends meeting in Bob City to fight the Mighty Muddy Power Grangers. There really wasn't much more plot to it than any typical episode of Dragonball Z, and at the moment I can't even remember why we decided to meet there in the first place. Along the way, mistakes were made, the fundamental nature of Bob City was misunderstood or ignored, and Rob Furr was annoyed in extremis at the authorial coalition, leading him to declare the entire thing apocryphal. As such, it's really not even worth worrying about synopsizing. Just take it as read that Team M.E.C.H.A. and various members of other series got to know each other better, and fought the Grangers together using a combining team of Bahamode motorcycles called Bahamode Sigma. Or didn't.

First Intermission Arc (OTCAFOU #1-12)—On the Care and Feeding of Unicorns: Not actually a Team M.E.C.H.A. numbered series, this miniseries followed Sarah Conner as she was subjected to a case of mistaken identity and kidnapped back to the small central-European nation of Terrania, where an evil Baron wanted to steal the throne, and had imprisoned the living symbol of the nation, a unicorn, in the hope of stealing its power to do this. Over the course of the miniseries, Sarah made many new friends—including her long-lost twin sister, Ariella Conner, and Robert the thief, Ariella's fiancee. And Scholarman, whom Ariella contacted to help them return from America to Terrania. In the end, Sarah called in Team M.E.C.H.A. for a plane ride home, with Scholarman as their honored guest.

Fifth Arc (#36-43; Force Ten #24-25)—It's the Swing: In order to create a new suit of Ginsu armor, Superuser visited Team M.E.C.H.A., and happened to be in their base when the call came in from Sarah Conner in Terrania, asking for a ride home for herself and Scholarman. Ariella and Robert decided to come along, also. Adam Douglas had been acting slightly peculiar lately; upon learning there were mages in the plane he became downright sullen, ranting against the evils of magic and its users. Subsequently, he and Sarah had a falling out, and then Adam browbeat Link into letting him out of detention so he could escape on board a Cyclone. As he rode away, Adam flashed back to his youth, when his mother had been killed by a magic-user.

Troubled by what had happened, Mike contacted Spectrum, then went to ask Adam's father, Fairbanks Douglas, for help. Sarah Conner continued learning magic from Ariella, then they went shopping with Summer, just in time to encounter Force Ten and help them fight That Other News Network and the Invid.

Mike searched more for Adam Douglas, and Sarah and Ariella did a bit of divination work of their own. Summer, while experimenting more with her powers, heard the Radio Free Hero transmission that signalled the dawn of the impending Industrial Revolution. Superuser finished getting what he came for, and headed home.

Sixth Arc (#44-50, Industrial Revolution Battle Royale, etc.)—The Industrial Revolution: The Industrial Revolution was a major arc in the Superguy universe, touching and drawing together characters from almost every series. It built upon a prior series by Gary Olson, Songs of Darkness , in which his vampire mage character Radian nearly destroyed the world. In the Industrial Revolution, a group of people decided to eliminate the potential threat to the world by eliminating the mages. This group included Bulletproof, Spandex Babe, Unorthodox Lass, Ginsu World Class, Spectrum, and Adam Douglas, among others. It was very much Superguy's equivalent of the Civil War, pitting hero against hero.

Team M.E.C.H.A.'s involvement was especially thorny, as one of its members and one of its staunchest allies (Spectrum) were on the other side. The arc began with Summer consulting the other members of the computer intelligence community and tracking Adam Douglas to Austin, Texas, where the Teen Team mage Deckmaster had just gotten a great deal of bad publicity for attacking Rush Limbaugh. Team M.E.C.H.A. arrived in time to prevent Adam from shooting him, but were not able to prevent him from getting away.

Deckmaster and Ariella were subsequently kidnapped and taken to Bob City, but Summer managed to stow away aboard the getaway truck. Later, she slipped into the Revolutionaries' prison to free Ariella, Deckmaster, and Shadebeam, who had also been taken prisoner. At the same time, Mike confronted Adam on the streets of Bob City, and took several gatling gun bullets through the chest for his pains.

The rest of Team M.E.C.H.A. participated in the climactic battle of the Industrial Revolution, whose events are mostly outside the purview of this synopsis; Deckmaster ended up getting killed (though not by Adam). The Revolution was broken and ended.

Afterward, as Mike was recovering in a hospital bed, Spectrum came by to apologize. As they prepared to head home, they found Adam's Cyclone and all his weapons, left by their jet with a similar note of apology.

After they got home, Mike announced he was leaving the team. Without him to lead, the rest of the team also decided to depart—Ariella, Robert, and Sarah to Terrania to plan the royal wedding, Ray Sterling to go back to Detroit to see if his friends there had finally found him a way home, and Summer to join the Teen Team in Austin. Link and Dr. Science elected to stay in the base and work on research. Thus resolved, they parted, pledging to meet one more time to fly to Terrania for the wedding.

And so Team M.E.C.H.A. went on hiatus.

Second Intermission Arc (Teen Team Summer Special, Sarah #1-2, Adam #1-5, Mike #1-15)—Interludes: These arcs cover what happened to the various Team M.E.C.H.A. members during the time they were not together as Team M.E.C.H.A.

While staying with the Teen Team, Summer entered the computer program Phobos (Mason Kramer) had created and gave it life and sentience...and Jenny, the computer intelligence Teen Team and Team M.E.C.H.A. would thereafter share, was born. She had a brief crush on her "father," but soon got over it.

Sarah Conner noticed the two people who had kidnapped her in the Care and Feeding arc. They turned out to have been covert agents for hire to "the Terranian royal family," and so Sarah set them to the task of finding the Terranian Thieves' Guild. After they found it, she went down there to give Robert a pep talk and fetch him back to the castle. Two of the thieves, Clifton and Brody, grumbled about her coming into the Guild, and decided to rob the royal wedding...with the help of Superguy's first arch-villain, Flatphoot.

Adam Douglas wandered the countryside, getting guidance from a Catholic priest, then meeting a talking dog and wolf who turned out to be shamanic archetypes. They noted that he had an aptitude for shamanic magic, and offered him a choice between them. Although reluctant at first, Adam finally acquiesced, and began to learn. In the end, he returned to Terrania for the wedding, and a reunion with Sarah.

Mike, back at college, soon found that he wasn't meant to leave the heroing life behind after all. A young man named Larry Thomas, frustrated to the nth degree by college bureaucracy and restrictions, went over the edge and declared himself to be the College Anarchist. He struck the campus with computer hacks, smoke bombs, prank pipe bombs, and soda bottle dry ice bombs, giving Mike something to think about before he headed off to the Terranian Wedding. When he returned, he found that the Anarchist had planted a dynamite device this time, and that his roommate Chris Meadows had sussed out his superheroic secret identity. Chris—helped by the USENET Oracle—pep-talked Mike back into starting to hero again, and Mike set out to track down the Anarchist.

The College Anarchist's next scheme involved planting six explosive devices in SMSU's Craig Hall. Not having the time to disarm them physically, he used directed electromagnetic pulses generated by his Bahamode's sensory system to fry their detonators—but managed to fry his bike at the same time. As the Anarchist planned more mayhem, Link and Dr. Science brought Mike a new Bahamode mechabike, the Bahamode X.N., which featured improved sensory equipment and the first use of Dr. Science's new repair nanites in the field.

The next day, Mike received an anonymous tip about the Anarchist's next target. The tip led him quite coincidentally to arrange a meeting with Larry Thomas, who planned an ambush. However, the ambush was deflected when something large and furry tackled Mike out of the way of the blast, taking injuries itself. It turned out to be a large anthropomorphic squirrel, who subsequently turned into a human girl—named Lorrie—while he was bandaging her wounds. She had been a normal college student, until someone had kidnapped her and changed her. She subsequently fell in with the squirrels on the SMSU campus, who actually ran things there.

For the next few weeks, the Anarchist was quiet...planning his next move. After a bit of research, he found his way to the junkyard outside of town where the defunct Zoomers left over from the Odd Science Convention battle had been scrapped. He proceeded to use his technical expertise, and schematics photocopied from old magazines, to restore a few to functionality. Lincoln received a call from Pinto Sally of the Grangers, and they caught up on old times, and Mike called Summer to ask her to do some research for him.

The College Anarchist went to the mall to do some shopping, and came out to find his bike had been taken by security for being parked in the wrong spot. This so enraged him that he decided to use his Zoomers to level the mall before doing anything to SMSU with them. Meanwhile, Summer and Jenny were able to track down the identity of the Anarchist, Larry Thomas, and asked Defense Squad/DefCo's Jake to track him down physically for them. The satellite imagery showed him and his Zoomers in the junkyard. Summer immediately let Mike know who and where he was, and that he was heading for the Battlefield Mall; Mike asked Link to meet him there, and went looking for help back at the dorm. He found it not in the form of Chris Meadows—who was too worried about insurance to dream of assaying superheroism—but in Chris's more-eager-than-competent friend Joe Moore. As Larry's Zoomer army invaded the mall, Mike declared Team M.E.C.H.A. to be reformed, and he and Joe raced to the mall. Here, the miniseries ended, to be picked back up in Team M.E.C.H.A. #51.

Third Intermission Arc (TWA #1-4)—The Terranian Wedding Album: This took place in the early part of the Mike miniseries. Not too much of overall plot importance took place; the major events were that Robert and Ariella got married, Flatphoot tried to set into motion a fiendish plot to kill all the wedding guests and rob the Terranian treasury, and Adam and Sarah Conner finally reconciled. Other important events happened for other Authors' series. Beyond that, the plot is largely self-contained, without as much bearing on the rest of the Team M.E.C.H.A. storylines.

Seventh Arc (#51-59)—Reunion & Recruitment: Over episodes #51-53, Mike, Joe, and Link managed to defeat the College Anarchist. Lorrie pleaded with them not to turn him in, to let him try to turn over a new leaf—because it turned out her full name was Lorrie Thomas, and she was his brother. Mike reluctantly agreed. Also at this time, the new owner of the Battlefield Mall (who had been in the mall during the Zoomer battle) ceded Team M.E.C.H.A. shop space to use as a local base of operations.

The next few episodes after that involved Summer's return to the team—she got fed up and lonely at the Teen Team being out of the universe for months, and ended up serendipitously teleporting home. Phobos soon followed her, needing somewhere to go as the Teen Team followed Team M.E.C.H.A.'s example in breaking up for a while. After that, all the crazy paranorms in Springfield heard there was a hero team reforming and showed up seeking admission. Mike finally decided to create a new affiliated team, the Springfield Hero Irregular Team, so that he had a place to put them all that kept them out of his hair.

Finally, much to Team M.E.C.H.A.'s surprise, Pinto Sally became fed up with the rest of the Grangers' plans to destroy Team M.E.C.H.A. and kill her beau, Lincoln Douglas. In the end, she left her cousins entirely and joined Team M.E.C.H.A.

Fourth Intermission Arc (Irregulars #1-3)—The Irregulars: In this brief mini, the Irregulars have their first outing, to stop a would-be used car hijacker. To everyone's surprise, they manage somehow to get the job done.

Eighth Arc (#60-78, Dvandom Force #53-61)—The Grand Tour: At the height of my net fiction career, I was writing many stories in multiple universes. I had the bright idea...why not do a Grand Tour and cross Team M.E.C.H.A. over with all of them (plus a few other series by friends, such as Philip Moyer or Dave Van Domelen). That way, I figured, I could introduce Superguy to them, and them to Superguy, and maybe cross-pollinate the writing pool a little.

In theory, it seemed like a good idea at the time. In practice, it kept growing bigger and bigger (one episode stretched all the way to 9 parts, covering three entire archive files!) and ended up going on practically forever. (Just short of 11 months, comparing the dates on episodes #60 and #78.)

The series ties into the prior arc of Dvandom Force—involving DeFacto, a villain from the future who had travelled back in time to try to assure his own creation, failed, and now sought a way to regain the power that was formerly his. To this end, he provided the remaining Grangers with additional technology to build new giant robots, a scientist (Dr. Zwarghoff) to help build them, and Wayne the Invid, to help drive them. A dimensional teleportation system was secretly built into the Grangers' robot, to zap Team M.E.C.H.A. to the LNH Looniverse so that DeFacto could get his hands on them. However, Bahamode Sigma—whose neural upgrades had ended up linking everyone within it together into a new sentient mental gestalt—was able to turn the beam back on the Grangers, sending them to the Looniverse instead.

Team M.E.C.H.A.—plus Spectrum, Phobos, and Sally, who insisted on coming along—used Summer's own hyperspatial capabilities to follow them...but ended up getting blown a little off-course. They found themselves in the universe of, a fantasy shared-universe newsgroup, where they were helped by friendly natives to find their way to the next world. (These natives included Andrea and Sheryl, a pair of human/unicorns, one of whom who would subsequently appear in the Superguy universe.) Afterward, they found their way to (which was in those days a science-fiction shared-universe newsgroup, not the chat group it is today), and onward to other worlds. After a bit of poking around, they found their way to Dave Van Domelen's RoboMACs: Exodus setting, then RoboMACs: 2163, which had crossed over with the Looniverse before—meeting counterparts of themselves in both places. In the process of foiling a MACE Empire (the villains of 2163) plot to deplete the world's air, they crossed over into the Looniverse at last, finally meeting up with Dvandom Force to fight DeFacto. They also ended up meeting a second Doctor Zwarghoff—apparently an LNH-universe counterpart to the Superguy version.

When the battle was over, the vanquished Grangers and Zwarghoff were sent back to the Superguy world, followed by Team M.E.C.H.A. and the Looniverse's Zwarghoff (who, unbeknownst to the others, had traded places with his Superguy counterpart), and Errand Boy, who would be retrieving the advanced technology files Zwarghoff had been given. The villains arrived on schedule...but Team M.E.C.H.A. did not, having been diverted one last time to Philip Moyer's Serendipity universe for an encounter there. By the time they got home, Zwarghoff had managed to snag a good portion of the files and vanish.

Ninth Arc (#79-84)—You Must Be an Angel: Dr. Odd Science took a trip to some old stomping grounds—the giant super-tech landfill in Fresh Kills, New York, to search through junk for useful gadgets and parts, and to unwind after the stress of the Grand Tour. What he found was a cybernetic head and torso that bore an odd resemblance to Summer. He repaired her, put her back together, and named her Lita—then tried to keep her from finding out what Team M.E.C.H.A. did so she wouldn't do it herself and get hurt, out of a perhaps misplaced sense of parental concern.

Shortly thereafter, a group of terrorists and Zoomers under the command of one "PenumbralPerson (TM)" held up an 18-wheeler transporting Fleer bubble gum. Team M.E.C.H.A. went out to engage, and Lita snuck onto the plane to join them. It turned out to be good that she did, for only she had the speed to deal with the upgraded Zoomers PenumbralPerson (TM) was fielding. Defeated, PP fled, and Lita decided to join Team M.E.C.H.A.

Subsequent examination of a captured crate of the gum revealed that it was giving off remarkable quantities of hyperspatial energy, and could thus be used as a power source. Dr. Science continued to try to talk Lita out of joining Team M.E.C.H.A., inadvertantly revealing that what had happened to Summer had been more his fault than was previously suspected. After realizing how powerful the gum could be in the wrong hands, Team M.E.C.H.A. raced to the Joplin warehouse where the gum was going—but arrived too late, as it turned out that PP had set up an ambush for them, complete with pink-hardsuited Bubble Gum Troopers.

In the battle that followed, Summer took several hits; it took the M.E.C.H.A. jet crashing through the ceiling to intervene to turn the tide in their favor. PenumbralPerson (TM) and his troops managed to escape. Following up what Dr. Science had said earlier, Lita asked Jenny and Phobos to find out what was on his nanotech research disc. Phobos snagged it, Jenny had the ALU's JOEL decrypt it, and they read through the files.

What the files revealed, Jenny told the team at a subsequent meeting, was that Dr. Science had not actually created his nanites at all. It came out via flashback that they actually tied back into Kopikat, a robotic member of Dvandom Force whom they had encountered in the LNH crossover. Dr. Science had found them when they flowed through a crack in the shattered space-time continuum into the Fresh Kills junkyard. He had only begun to suspect their true origins when they had passed through the Grand Tour and he'd had a chance to examine Kopikat's. He finally gave in and allowed Lita to join Team M.E.C.H.A. After the revelations of this last episode, Summer and Lita decided to de-stress by joining the Road Race from Hell (TM), a megacrossover that would end up never being finished.

(Note: PenumbralPerson (TM) was a parody of Superguy Author Jesse "ShadowyWriter" Taylor; Lita was a homage/steal from the Battle Angel Alita manga/Gunnm anime.)

Tenth Arc (#85-97)—A Summer to Remember: This somewhat convoluted arc actually combined a couple of storylines. There was one about the two scientists whose technomagic machine had been somewhat responsible for Lorrie's squirrelification. Dog showed up and asked Adam to investigate the magical disturbances; the scientists kidnapped one of Chris Meadows's brothers, Aaron, and subjected him to experimentation. Adam Douglas and Alex Meadows (the other brother) investigated, and found the trail crossed paths with PenumbralPerson (TM). In the end, Team M.E.C.H.A. went to the rescue.

Meanwhile, PenumbralPerson (TM) continued his attacks on Team M.E.C.H.A., and continued getting beaten. Finally, he wrote what would be the ultimate computer virus, to take care of Team M.E.C.H.A. once and for all. Unfortunately, it didn't work. Then a left-over from the LNH crossover, the Master of the Net, noticed PP's problems, and stepped in to offer his help. With that help, the virus was able to kill Summer, after she'd shoved Jenny into a physically separated backup computer. Just about everybody on Team M.E.C.H.A. and the Mob angsted for a while. Meanwhile, Jenny discovered that she could resurrect Summer, at the cost of her own life. She did so, and everybody (including JOEL, Jenny's significant other) angsted some more.

Summer found herself in a nightmarescape, fighting the last remnants of the virus that had been intermingled with her code when Jenny had revived her. She was helped by a mysterious individual named Chet, and at last woke up. The virus was expelled from her body in the form of a small trickle of nanites, which took with them Chet and what remained of Jenny. These nanites subsequently absorbed Lita, and everybody angsted still more. The new persona operating these nanites, calling itself Eris, subsequently entered the TMHQ computer and ripped PenumbralPerson (TM)'s mind out of his body, and nobody angsted at all; the Master of the Net subsequently took possession of PP's body.

Summer went after Eris, and after a bit of physical and cyberspatial battle, was able to put her down, and reconstruct Jenny, Chet, and PenumbralPerson (TM) out of the leavings. Chet turned out to be a RoboMAC named Comlink from the RoboMACs: 2163 setting, whom Summer had absorbed, believing him to be defunct. PenumbralPerson (TM) turned out to be...a character from the Author's Altiverse area of Superguy, who was hastily retconned into being a girl named Penny from another universe. Finally, Summer discovered Lita's head and torso unit floating in her subspace and hastily pulled it back out so Dr. Science could bring her back to full function.

The Master of the Net, meanwhile, learned that the rest of the computer intelligences in the world didn't take kindly to what he'd done to Summer and a rather final way.

And then, four years passed...

Eleventh Arc (#98-119)—Of Uncertain Vintage: Four years after prior events, the mysterious, cursed, and incredibly puce Hopeless Diamond was exhibited as part of a Smithsonian tour in the Battlefield Mall...and it had attracted the attention of a gang of thieves led by the mysterious redhead Sherry Chaser, who bore an equally mysterious resemblance to Summer. After their first attempt to snag it was foiled by the Irregulars, Sherry and her gang (technician Geoffrey Carlisle, gambler Kevin Slater, and Kevin's younger sister Ellie) managed to steal the diamond and get away in an armored car. The Irregulars, Summer, and Comlink (now embodied in a transforming Dodge Neon) followed in hot pursuit...and were met by several transforming helicopter gunships, as well as a cargo chopper that picked up Sherry's gang's getaway armored car (but not before Unnoticeable Man had managed to drop his comlink in it). Ending a hiatus from the team, Mike raced to the rescue on his Bahamode battle-bike, but wasn't able to prevent Sherry's helicopter from escaping with the diamond.

When it turned out that the helicopter could be tracked by the comlink's carrier signal, Mike called in the other members of Team M.E.C.H.A.: Adam and Sarah (in Terrania), Link (in Oklahoma, with Pinto Sally), and Joe Moore (who was dragged from behind the counter of Domino's Pizza with reluctance) and they kitted up to head to South America in pursuit of the helicopter, leaving the Irregulars to hold the fort. Meanwhile, Sherry's gang arrived at a hidden base, where Colonel Felder (who had worked with Dr. Zwarghoff early in his career) met them and relieved them of the diamond. Despite Sherry's wishes to return to the USA, Felder assigned them to quarters in the base in case he had further need of them...and then it was revealed to the reader that Zwarghoff was, indeed, behind this operation.

Perhaps a trifle rusty from those years out of the harness, Team M.E.C.H.A. was captured almost as soon as they dropped on Zwarghoff's South American base. One of the transforming black helicopters turned out to have an intelligence of its own on-board, called K-flight, and it assisted in the capture. Except for Summer, the other members of the team vanished in mysterious flashes of puce light.

In a mysterious computerized control room somewhere, Zwarghoff activated puce controls to set some fiendish plan into motion. The Irregulars watched in surprise as a puce force dome suddenly came into being over the entire Ozark region.

Meanwhile, Sherry and company had decided to break out of their quarters and see what was going on elsewhere in the base. They came upon the soldiers taking Summer to a cell, and followed them, just in time to overhear Zwarghoff revealing to Summer that Sherry was her biological sister, and that an explanation could be found in the government's Grunion Buster files. Sherry tried to break Summer out, but Summer told her she couldn't leave if Zwarghoff had the rest of the team, and to get Unnoticeable Man's comlink from their armored car and get in touch with the Irregulars in Springfield.

Zwarghoff returned, and took Summer through a transmat to another place, where the other members of Team M.E.C.H.A. were stored in cryogenic suspension. He forced Summer to enter a glass sphere and interface with computer components within it so that he could use her processing power to automate control of his helicopter drones. A woman calling herself Keri appeared, revealed herself to be the mind inside the black helicopter called K-flight, and merged with Summer.

Sherry and friends got to the van, retrieved the comlink and such equipment as they could carry, and looked for an exit...pursued by Felder's men until Geoffrey accidentally managed to summon the Team M.E.C.H.A. jet with the Team M.E.C.H.A. comlink. Once aboard, they headed for Springfield, where they met up with Phobos, Mental, Roger, and Dreamweaver from the Mob.

Comlink discovered he was tumbling through outer space, an environment in which he was not designed for maneuverability. He managed to jury rig a thrust system out of propellants for missiles and grenades that got him to a Soviet spy satellite, whose thrusters he used to head for the object in a higher orbit that was projecting the force field.

Dr. Science revealed to the Irregulars that he had found the puce Hopeless Diamond could be used to project a puce force field, through which nothing could enter or leave save by puce transmat. Subsequently, he realized that only one person, Zwarghoff, had the technology to create that force field...and that Zwarghoff knew where TMHQ was and had long wanted to get his hands on its CAD/CAM mecha-assembly systems. He and Jenny hastily instituted scuttling procedures for the headquarters, and advised Lorrie to do the same at the Battlefield Mall outpost.

As Zwarghoff's forces teleported into and secured Springfield, the Irregulars made their way to a hidden location in the storm tunnels of Springfield, where they were met by a Dr. Science riding in a pink Dodge Neon that turned into a bank of computer consoles with Jenny in it. Dr. Science began working on a secret weapon that would turn the tide of battle against Zwarghoff.

Zwarghoff took possession of TMHQ and began upgrading the computers for the next step of his plan. Meanwhile, Keri revealed to Summer that Zwarghoff had torn her out of her human body...and was holding it hostage against her good behavior. Summer pointed out that the MAC copying process would have left her body either brain-damaged beyond salvation or still occupied. Enraged, Keri merged with Summer again.

Sherry's gang and the Mob members worked out a way of getting through the force field, and engaged countless helicopters in a battle that destroyed the M.E.C.H.A. jet but provided cover for them all (sans Mental and Roger, who stayed outside the dome to coordinate) to slip through undetected. Meanwhile, Comlink arrived at an odd-looking space station, used his comm laser to hack into its systems, and found a strange text-adventure-gaming-based interface, which he realized he could use to free Team M.E.C.H.A. from cryogenic stasis. He did this...but was then booted out of the system as Team M.E.C.H.A. awoke.

Dr. Science revealed his creation to the Irregulars et al: a neutrino sieve force-field belt, capable of about four minutes of performance. Sherry field-tested it against some soldiers and helicopter drones, and prounced it workable, and three more belts were created for Phobos, Geoffrey, and Kevin. Sherry's gang set out to cause distractions around town so that Phobos could slip into the Battlefield Mall outpost to get parts for more belts. While in the outpost, Phobos overheard discussion of plans to use Springfield's population as fodder for the destructive scanning process that created robot minds. Upon returning to the temporary HQ, they decided that the best course of action was to try to take out the Team M.E.C.H.A. assembly line before it could start cranking out helidrones. Dr. Science and Phobos created more force-armor units, including customized ones for the Irregulars, and they all left on their mission.

Mike, Joe, Adam, Link, Sarah, and Lita awoke to find themselves inside live-action versions of computer games they'd played in the past. Sarah managed to crash the one she and Lita were in, then release the others from their games. After some exploring, they discovered that they were in the Gameworld satellite, a space station theme park for live-action gaming that had gone out of business only a few months after it had been founded. The command decks were locked down, but Link discovered a possible trapdoor in the computer code that could be used to gain access—by challenging the newer computer to a game of StarAtegy. However, they got more than they bargained for in the form of Keri, who used Summer's nanitic powers to override the game's rules. Fortunately, Summer's nanites were also rebelling against Keri, and they granted Summer the power to fight her. After Summer took a cannon blast that had been meant for Keri, Keri was convinced to work with Summer.

On earth, the Irregulars' distraction and Sherry's penetration mission was going well...until Sherry's gang were caught by a troop of Felder's soldiers. However, right when things looked their bleakest, Felder's soldiers and the helicopter drones started winking out in puce flashes of light. Summer and Keri had taken over the puce transmat system. At the same time, Dreamweaver and Unnoticeable Man captured Felder.

Mike and Link, released from the StarAtegy game, made their way to the upper level, where they confronted Zwarghoff. Zwarghoff revealed that he never had any Looniverse counterpart—the "counterpart" had actually been a ten-years-older version of himself who had arrived, traded with his older self, spent nine years in the Looniverse, and then jumped ten years back in time to shortly before Team M.E.C.H.A. arrived in the Looniverse. While he was distracted by his exposition, Summer snuck out of the nanite tank and knocked the gun out of his hand—but Zwarghoff used an emergency escape transponder and transmatted away. As the rest of Team M.E.C.H.A. arrived in the command center, a call came in from an approaching starship: Jeffrey Pournelle, the former administrator of Gameworld, was about to arrive in response to an automated message Team M.E.C.H.A.'s escape had generated earlier.

After that, it was all over but the cleanup: Pournelle and Team M.E.C.H.A. hosted a party aboard Gameworld, where it was revealed that Team M.E.C.H.A. had been granted permission to use it as a new headquarters; Sherry and Summer discussed sisterhood, then Sherry's gang headed off into the sunset; Dr. Zwarghoff found the Curse of the Hopeless Diamond had struck, and he was the new Generalissimo and President for Life of Panama; and Comlink discovered he was stuck in space without a way down.

Team M.E.C.H.A. Journal Summaries:

Team M.E.C.H.A. Journal was an anthology series set up to handle side-stories and adventures that didn't take place in the same chronological frame of reference as the main series. Some of them were silly, some were serious; all served a purpose of some kind.

TMJ #1: Phobos and Summer exposit about various things in the wake of Team M.E.C.H.A.'s decision to reform.

TMJ #2-3 (Driving Lessons): Chris Meadows, the analog of the Author, is having trouble learning to drive, and Joe Moore (who is watching the base while the rest of Team M.E.C.H.A. is gone on their Grand Tour) helpfully uses the base's machinery to turn his parents' Reliant into a transforming robot car...which Chris inadvertently activates later that day. It takes the intervention of the Irregulars to sort the whole thing out.

TMJ #4-7 (The Return of Spectrum): In the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, Spectrum comes to Team M.E.C.H.A. because he needs a new suit of armor and they're the only ones who had the designs on file. After Spectrum is lectured by essentially the entire team—even his former partner in revolution, Adam Douglas—the team finally decides to go ahead and make a new and improved model for him.

TMJ #8 (The Odd Phobos Summer Special): Summer tries some new shapeshifting tricks, and Phobos discovers a startling revelation about his powers.

TMJ #9-12 (Trouble in Terrania): Flatphoot returns to Terrania, to take revenge for his defeat in the Terranian Wedding Album by stealing its oil and polluting its river. Robert ropes Clifton and Brody into infiltrating his base so that they can bring him down.

TMJ #13 (The Baker's Dozen): Pedestrian Man and Lorrie Thomas are in the local branch of the St. Louis Bread Company when it is taken over by an odd group of machine-gun toting terrorists calling themselves the Baker's Dozen. Since Team M.E.C.H.A. is still out of the universe, and most of the Irregulars are nowhere to be found, she calls Chris Meadows's brothers, Aaron and Alex, who hasten to the scene to help out. Afterward, Lorrie and P-Man decide to enter the Road Race from Hell (TM).

TMJ #14-18 (All About Andrea): This arc goes into detail about the life of Andrea, a mysterious character who first appeared in the Terranian Wedding Album. It's a very strange coincidence, but the Andrea that Mike Escutia invented for that segment was a dead ringer for the character by the same name that I wrote about in The coincidence was too great not to take advantage I wrote this arc to explain how and why she had migrated from the a.p.d-i world of Generica to the world of Superguy. I intended to follow this up at some point with a tale of how Sheryl, her companion from that world, followed, but never got around to it.

TMJ #19 (Unnoticeable Man vs. the Undefeatable Army of Silence): This episode was actually posted as a joke, tying in with various other authors' joke posts of essentially blank "episodes" as a parody of the comic book publishers' silent month (in which all their comic books told stories entirely without dialogue). Like the other episodes, this one was made up primarily of lots and lots of blank lines.

TMJ #20-22 (Historic Superguy: A Carmen Affair): In 1967, a young MIB Special Agent named Dale Michael Somerset (partner of and contemporary with a similarly young Special Agent named Richard Less) had an encounter with a mysterious master thief called Carmen of the Angels, or "Carmen Los Angeles." His encounter grew into an obsession that eventually led to marriage and three children: Sherry, Dale Jr., and June. However, in 1980, a mobster for whom Carmen once worked finally found where she was, and threatened her family. Dale went down to the mobster's headquarters to insure he would no longer be a threat, but was shot fatally in the process. Subsequently, Dale Jr. and June were placed in the Witness Relocation Program under mysterious circumstances and all records of their new identities expunged. The file on Somerset was later reclassified by Less as part of the Project Grunion-Buster files.

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