Undocumented Features

MSTed by Keith Palmer

Story by Benjamin D. Hutchins, Brian Bikowicz, and Rob Mandeville

Read this MSTing.

Fanfic: Return to the mythic and long-gone days of 1991, back when anime, to its North American fans, meant busty women and stuff blowing up, and those who could use the awesome power of UNIX looked down benignly on everyone else... actually, when I put it that way, it doesn't seem that long ago.

Be that as it may, Undocumented Features is the story of Benjamin D. "Gryphon" Hutchins and his pals at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, who just happen to include Kei and Yuri of Dirty Pair fame after Ben accidentally brings them to life with a holographic magic computer evidently borrowed from some other fanfic. Obviously having nothing better to do, the Lovely Angels join the fun of the WPI Wedge Rats with their high-quality hanging around and non-stop exchange of injokes.

Any lifestyle so enviable has to be fought for, though, and Kei and Yuri also join in wading through cafeteria bystanders, disturbingly well-armed and organised campus homophobes opposed by equally well-armed if more disorganised Wedge Rats, and Boomers from Bubblegum Crisis. By this point, the Lovely Angels have learned not to ask any questions, and get right down to offering themselves to Ben and his good buddy Megazone, who resist briefly using suspiciously identical arguments but finally give in. Sadly, the fact that Ben only created the Dirty Pair means that the Wedge Rat ReRob has to make do with a Cyclone he makes with his own time on the magic computer.

After several months of hanging around, the story finally jolts to life again when the person who sent the Boomers after our heroes finally shows up. It happens to be Largo (also from Bubblegum Crisis), who was brought to life by Entropy, a Wedge Rat completely unconcerned about working for the transparently evil Largo just so as he gets paid. Entropy manages to delete Kei and Yuri from existence; Ben gets upset, then gets even by coding the Dirty Pair back to life by hand. Philosophy is left to wait once again as he, Megazone, and ReRob churn out enough Cyclones to outfit all of the Wedge Rats (after Gryphon and Zoner supply themselves with better mecha) and wade through the preserved and reanimated corpses of the campus homophobes for old time's sake. WPI blows up immediately afterwards, but that's all right because the Wedge just happens to be able to transform into a starship and the two Wedge Rats who sat out the battle were picked up by Megazone's rebuilt flying Daytona pseudo-sports car. Our heroes head off for the stars and leave the irradiated crater that was Worcester behind, once more managing to completely ignore Largo. With that, the authors finally grace us with their play list and something resembling an explanation of some of their injokes, and Undocumented Features comes to a close.

Host Segments: Prologue: Mike and the bots flee into the endless void of space, pursued closely by Pearl Forrester and Bobo. Tom's attempts to be philosophical about it don't prevent the Satellite of Love from colliding with an ancient space probe.
Segment One: The SOL crew waits for repairs to be complete and frets. Pearl gets in touch with them, thanking them for the probe that collided with the Widowmaker and its time capsule record of the complete Undocumented Features. Mike is the only one really interested, as he was the only one who sat out "Justice and Mercy".
Segment Two: With Mike recovering from the consequenceless slaughter of the fanfic, the bots try and get him up to speed with Wedge illogic with a game of Wedge checkers, in which three undertrumps after an opponent's discard of a Trebled Fromp is an indefensible gambit.
Segment Three: Mike and the bots try to break off from muttering about how easily Kei and Yuri fell for Ben and Megazone by contemplating what they would do if they were self-insertion characters as well. Gypsy plans to land the SOL and convert it into a submarine; Crow just wants to be the best sandwich maker in the universe.
Segment Four: Mike wonders if he really wants to care about what happens to the Kei and Yuri of Undocumented Features, and the bots chide him that of course he's supposed to care about unattached female characters. He asks them their own question; it doesn't go that well.
Segment Five: The Satellite of Love Players present the rest of Undocumented Features--the ultra-condensed version. Pearl clucks over how Mike obviously no longer takes the story seriously; he and the bots attempt to dissemble until they can pull out and begin the chase again.
Stinger: Ben can't believe his luck.

Reflections: Undocumented Features, so we're told, is a modern classic of fan fiction. We're also told that it started as a throwaway one-shot, a simple attempt to get a handle on the personalities of the Dirty Pair. It's true that there are two heavily armed women in the story who cause lots of collateral damage and bystander casualties, but one begins to suspect that the characters Benjamin D. Hutchins, Brian Bikowicz, and Rob Mandeville were really getting a handle on were Gryphon, Megazone, and ReRob. As for the story garnering many positive comments and inspiring them to write many, many, many more stories very much like it over the next decade... well, it does give a clue as to who read the anime newsgroups on the Internet in the early 1990s.

It was with some trepidation that I decided to join a group MSTing of Undocumented Features organised by the now-departed MSTer Captain Bungie, who suggested the general period for the MSTing's host segments. It seemed a bit like taking on a cult film well-respected in certain vocal circles. As the months wore on and the people supposed to be working on the MSTing with me vanished into the ether, though, I kept thinking of the moment when I first read about the Wedge Rats producing gatling cannons out of nowhere to mow down the homophobes marching on the Wedge and kept riffing.

The riffs I finally wound up with may be widely spaced and the overall feel is probably slightly idiosyncratic, but I'm still pretty pleased with my end product. When I was nominated in the Web Site #9 MSTing Awards for "Best New Author" for the year 2000, I suspected it was for this MSTing. Maybe if I'd posted it on Web Site #9 as well as SVAM, I would have received more votes. Moving on from that, the experience was generally positive. I even managed to get a general idea of some of the injokes in the story from context. Still, the great cosmic "Why?" of Undocumented Features remains a little vague to me...

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