N! Channel Presents:
Mysteries of the Nova World
Last Update: Jan 17 2003
The Origin of Mechanon
He appeared out of nowhere on the streets of Washington DC in March of 1979. Not unlike many villains, he openly stated that he was on his way to the White House to steal the nuclear launch codes for America’s arsenal so he could wipe out all organic life. An ad-hoc collection of several novas, most notably the Warbird, managed to destroy him on the steps of the White House. The group decided to stay together as the Capital Gang.
Unfortunately, Mechanon got better. He seems to have a habit of doing that; the most recent version that was destroyed in Canada last year is believed to be the 12th Mechanon. How much longer will it be before herodom faces unlucky #13?
That’s not the most interesting thing about Mechanon, though. To this day, nobody is admitting to know the origin of the self-proclaimed machine messiah. There are, of course, a number of fascinating theories.
The most obvious, of course, is that he’s a creation – accidental or otherwise – of Doctor Destroyer. It certainly fits into the timeframe – the bad doctor’s first documented appearance dates from 1974, and there’s a noticeable gap in Destroyer’s appearances around that time. Destroyer is also infamous for his prowess with robotics, being one of only a handful of people that could have built the first Mechanon on purpose.
The accidental version of this theory (that Mechanon is a creation of Dr. D’s that got out of his control) is as old as Mechanon himself, offered by the hero Digitak at the press conference announcing that the Capital Gang was staying together. Many believe the fact that Destroyer made a point of killing Digitak three months later as proof thereof.
A slight variant on this theory is that Mechanon IS Dr. Destroyer, or at least an extension of him. Of course, this would mean that Dr. Destroyer is small enough to ride Mechanon’s head (which detaches if the body is destroyed) – or is operating the robot via telemetry or some such. Interestingly, most of Mechanon’s appearances have occurred since the destruction of Detroit in July 23, 1992.
Something this reporter has always found interesting is that Mechanon is rarely seen as being his “own robot” – he’s always somebody’s secret plot. If it’s not Dr. Destroyer it’s space aliens, the government, or your paranoia-de-jour. As if he’s not enough to be scared of on his own?
One theory that has gained more popularity in recent years is that Mechanon evolved on its own from the Earth’s growing “technosphere”. Although he predates the burst of computerization characterized with the arrival of the practical home computer, 1979 was a time when computers were beginning to really impact the day-to-day life of the average person. Consider that in 1980 the computer was made “machine of the year” by Time Magazine, and the timing doesn’t sound quite as far-fetched.
Whatever happened to Silver Streak?
One of the first novas to come public with her identity, Jennifer von Altbusser was also a founding member of the Capital Gang. She was hailed by many as the epitome of superherodom, and was one of the most popular super heroines in the world.
She’s credited with personally saving thousands of lives during Dr. Destroyer’s first full-tilt grab for power in 1985, and thousands more during the lead-in to his second, tragic effort that ended with the destruction of Detroit. A report released on the fifth anniversary of Detroit’s destruction revealed that she personally delivered over 1500 survivors of the incident to hospitals.
On the otherwise unremarkable day of August 25th 1997, she gave an interview to N! Network’s “Unmasked” program. The interview covered a range of subjects about how society and novas have affected each other. It was intended to be part of a show for the 25th anniversary of the Emergence later that year.
She has not been seen or heard from since leaving the studio.
It was several weeks before people began to question what was going on. The world was suitably distracted by the tragic murder of Princess Diana and the death of Mother Teresa shortly thereafter. The chase for the Disruptor (Princess Diana’s murderer, still at large at press time) understandably covered the airways for weeks after the incident itself.
Part of the problem was that Silver Streak was taking a two-week leave from the Capital Gang starting the evening of the interview – her last recorded statement is that she is glad the interview is over so she can catch her flight. As such nobody started looking for her until two weeks later, when she failed to report back. By then, what her teammate Warbird described publicly as a “disturbing lack of traceable evidence” was already becoming apparent. Silver Streak left almost no clues as to where she was going or how she intended to get there; in fact, she seems to have made efforts to keep people from finding out either.
She had two public appearances that day, which according to sources began when she left the Capital Gang’s HQ at 8:30 AM. The first appearance began 11:30 AM at JFK High School as part of a DARE rally and lasted until about 1 PM. The second appearance went from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM at the Veteran’s Hospital in Wheeling, West Virginia. The interview, originally slated for two hours, began at 6:00 PM and ended early at 7:43PM.
Reconstructing the rest of her day has proven conflicting and somewhat unfruitful. Contributing to the problem is her speed, meaning that any alleged sighting anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard that day cannot be conclusively eliminated unless it conflicts directly with the three places she can be pinned to. Authorities are said to have spoken with several credible witnesses but their accounts are officially sealed by FEMA as part of the ongoing investigation.
Of course, rumors will always arrive to fill the vacuum of official information. Anyone whose career as a nova can be traced through nearly three decades acquires a lengthy list of enemies, after all. Interestingly, no one has stepped forward claiming responsibility (or credit) for her disappearance. While that may sound odd, perhaps her enemies are afraid of becoming anathema in the manner the Disruptor has for the murder of Princess Diana.
Perhaps the most popular theory these days has its basis in what most people would consider one of the greatest things about being a nova – like Warbird, Hyperion, and a few other novas, Silver Streak had not appeared to age a day in the 25 years since her emergence (which she placed at the Emergence itself). With those around her growing old, she may have felt the need to “reinvent” herself – perhaps as someone with less of a public profile, which some suggest she had shown signs of weariness with.
That theory is at odds, however, with several facts. The strongest is that the loyal, dependable Silver Streak is currently considered AWOL (absent without leave) by Primus – a felony she could be imprisoned for if convicted. Certainly Primus would have allowed her to step down or to take a less public role had she requested it. Her friends on the Capital Squad in particular are known to find this theory unacceptable.
For many, the idea that one of herodom’s most beloved novas was the victim of foul play and her killer remains unpunished is even more unacceptable.
What Really Happened in Seattle?
With only one exception, the record of the SAT Domestic Defender program has been exemplary. At press time, 22 of the nation’s largest cities are protected by a Domestic Defender. The program is held up as the model of why the Nova Registration Act and Primus’s SAT system in general work despite their early detractors.
With one, terrifying, mystifying exception – Seattle’s ex-Domestic Defender, the former Hexadecimal Heroine. Her sudden disappearance was strange enough. These days she’s dropped the “heroine” from her name, and has been spotted working with Oamen, Sting, and the Disruptor. The Disruptor? What, was Ogre or unavailable or something?
Many connect her disappearance and change of heart to the tragic collapse of the Second Narrows Bridge near Tacoma. Hexadecimal had been spotted fighting with the villain Vibron in the area earlier in the evening in Tacoma itself, but had drawn the villain outside the city and the trail ends there. Three hours later, at 9:47pm PST, the SNB shattered as if it were made of glass – and despite desperate calls to her communicator, there was no answer.
The death total of the SNB was 47 people – 47 families wanting to know where their protector was, what she was doing, and why she hadn’t answered.
Originally, Primus was merely seeking Hexadecimal for questioning – until she was spotted aiding the criminals Oamen and Sting against the Champions in Crescent City. While there had long been rumors that there was bad blood between Hexadecimal and the Champions, nothing could justify what the cameras recorded.
While many still tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, the part she played in keeping the Champions from capturing a finally-cornered Disruptor last month removed any justification possible. Primus has officially announced they’re investigating a direct link between Hexadecimal and the tragedy of Second Narrows, something many have been calling for since the beginning. Time will tell, but its doubtful the answers are good.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this ongoing series!