“New jet that top secret?” he joked, removing his hat as Nambu led him into the dining room-turned-conference room.
“Not the new jet,” Nambu replied grimly. “Something else. Something I can’t risk anyone else finding out, at least not yet.”
Washio’s joking demeanor immediately fell away. All of his senses went on alert. “What’s going on?”
Nambu sighed, and tried, as he had been in the hours since calling Washio here, to formulate the words so that they made sense and not that he was just being paranoid.
“As you know, the ISO has been trying to expand, to get as many countries as we can involved, and that frequently has meant involving the political parties running the countries,” Nambu said. It was not quite a lie, this lead-in, but Nambu was not about to launch into this particular truth to anyone. Washio nodded, but said nothing.
Nambu walked over to a screen and pressed a button. A map of Hontworl appeared. Mild surprise flickered across Washio’s face. Nambu held his hand over the capital city, directly over the government building.
“There has been reason to believe that there is…activity…of a faction, or a syndication, that is gearing up to not only take over Hontworl, but that they are in the process of amassing weapons of some sort.”
Washio raised an eyebrow. “ ‘Some sort’?” he questioned. “Or the sort that would cause another war?”
Nambu hung his head a moment in thought. His brother’s face came to his mind’s eye. Once again, he heard his brother’s last words in his ears. “At first, I thought it was that the political parties in Hontworl were trying for a coup, or hostile takeover, of other countries, but now….” He paused and looked Washio straight in the eye. “Now I have reason to believe that it’s bigger than that.”
“How much bigger?” Washio asked, his voice dripping with skepticism.
“That’s the piece I’m missing,” Nambu admitted. “I can’t take this before the ISO board because we’re a scientific community, not a peace keeping one. The UN may listen, but without hard proof, the ambassador to Hontworl would, most likely, not only deny it, but if he’s a part of this new political party, he may tip our hands to them, and we’ll never know before it’s too late.”
“So who’s behind this new faction?” Washio asked. “Have you any information on their objectives?”
Again, Nambu shook his head. “No, I have nothing at this point in time, other than my suspicions. That, and this.” Nambu reached into his inner suit coat pocket and pulled out the card that he found in his brother’s coat. He held out the card, with its red symbol, out for Washio’s inspection. Silence filled the room.
“So why bring me into it?” Washio asked at last. “Why not bring this to a branch of the military? If I’m not mistaken, Merren is high up enough in the army now to at least send a peace-keeping troop out, if that’s what’s needed…”
This, now, was the moment Nambu had dreaded. He took a steadying breath and turned to look out the window. It was past midnight and the black landscape stretched away into the inky puddle of dark sky.
“I need someone to go in,” Nambu said softly. “I need a mole to find out exactly who these people are and what they are planning. I know it goes by the code of ‘V-2’ but beyond that, I haven’t been able to find anything else. We need to know what it is and who is behind it.”
Nambu stopped, trying to sort through the swirl of thoughts in his mind, trying to make sure he was including everything that Washio would need to know, but leaving out the parts he didn’t. Like about his brother. Washio stared at him a moment, then gave a laugh.
“Seriously, Nambu? So why are you telling me this? I am no spy. I’m a damn test pilot for God’s sake. I know nothing of espionage. Surely you have other people, other resources….”
“No!” Nambu roared in anger. In frustration. He was nearly frantic in his desperation to make Washio understand the urgency, the dire need to find out this information before it was too late…for all of them. “I’m asking you because you are the only one I know of who could do this. You can go in, under the radar, and pretend to be one of them. I know you can, I’ve seen you do it. And I know you, of all people, would not be swayed into joining them. I need someone on the inside that I can trust, and that person is you.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” he replied sarcastically. “But have you seriously thought this through? What something like this would mean?” Washio took a step back and raked a hand through his hair. “And how long is this intended to go on? What sort of help would I be able to get if things got out of hand?”
“I know I’m asking a lot,” Nambu said, his head down. “It would mean going into the government and essentially spying on them. If you were ever caught by the Hontworl government, you would be charged with treason. If you were caught by this new faction, they would most likely kill you as well. For obvious reasons, the ISO would not be able to protect you at all.”
“So if I get into trouble, I’ll just be left twisting in the wind?” Anger flashed in Washio’s eyes. “And what about my family? I mean, my God, man, if I go undercover, as you suggest, what do I tell my wife? That she may end up getting arrested along with me? What about my…my son? I can’t do that to them. I won’t put them in that sort of danger.”
Nambu straightened his back and looked at Washio. “I would do my utmost to take care of them. To make sure that they are looked after and protected.”
“No offense,” Washio sneered. “But that doesn’t make me feel any better.”
“I know,” Nambu said miserably. “And you’re right, but I don’t see any other way this can be done. You would need to assume a new identity, which I can provide you with, and drop out completely as Washio Kentaro, severing any and all ties with them…”
“Wait a minute. What?”
“You couldn’t just go in as yourself,” Nambu elaborated. “If either side found out who you really are, the repercussions to your wife and son would be very real, and no doubt harsh. These people take no prisoners,” Nambu thought of his brother and his family, swallowed hard, then pushed on. “They would try to use them to get to you, Kentaro. You would have to disappear completely for a while.”
“A while?” Washio echoed with a harsh laugh. “And how long is ‘a while’ defined? That I just leave…” He paused a moment, swaying under the full weight of the implications. “Forget it. I won’t do it. Find someone else.”
“Kentaro, I need you to do this. You’re the only one…”
“Why?” he roared back, his emotion fueled in equal parts of pain and anger. “You believe in it so much, why don’t you go and do it yourself?”
“Because I can’t! Don’t you see? I don’t have your skills, or your background…” And they would know me instantly…
“Background in what?”
“You know how to blend in, or disappear altogether. That is what is required here--”
“I will not have my wife and son believing that I just abandoned them out of some whim. Or worse, that they did something to cause me to leave,” he spat, raising a clenched fist. “I’m not…I won’t be…I’d rather have them think me dead than think that I just walked out on them. God knows, the only way I would leave them would be if I died, and even then, it would not be willingly.”
Nambu stared at Washio, only just then realizing the enormity of what he had just asked Washio to do. Then he remembered his brother again, and his brother’s family. He was sorry, genuinely sorry, but it did not change anything.
“We can do that,” Nambu said quietly, his mind racing to analyze the situation. “We can stage…something, an accident of sorts. Maybe at first just say you are missing in action. It could work.”
“And from there, what? Let’s say I get this information on this V-2 whatever, then what happens? Would I ever be able to go back?”
The question hung in the air between them, almost palpable. “I don’t know,” Nambu answered honestly. “We can try….”
“Not good enough,” Washio snarled, grabbing his hat and heading for the door. “Find someone else.”
Nambu moved quick to intercept him, grabbing hold of Washio’s arm. “There is no one else, don’t you understand? We can’t sit by and watch as some unknown group decides to decimate the world and do nothing! There is no one I can go to without hard evidence. Just get the evidence, and we’ll work out whatever we need to from there.”
“But my wife, my son….”
“Would you be so selfish?” Nambu’s tone turned cold. “You once said yourself that, in a war, one must do what is called for to ensure the greater good for the most people. You would put your wife and son above the entire planet’s survival?”
Washio’s breathing was ragged and still he remained facing the door. “Yes,” he said savagely. “I would put them above all else.”
“Then let me put it to you this way,” Nambu continued ruthlessly. “This is all going down in your back yard. Hontworl is peaceful now, but it won’t be if this faction takes over. Which means your family would the ones in the first line of danger.”
“We could always move, seek asylum…”
“To where, Kentaro? Where would any one of us be able to go if there is no one willing to stand and fight?”
Washio felt his stomach twist. For seven years, he had the life he had always dreamt of having. For seven years, he had been loved, he had a wife, he had a son. For seven years, he lived a life like everyone else. And now, another ending.
* * *
During the remainder of the night, Nambu and Washio put together the plan that would see Washio Kentaro disappear. It was nearly dawn by the time he arrived back at the hotel at which they were staying. He had only a few short hours to lay at his wife’s side, to feel the warmth of her body against his, to touch her, to love her, before he would be taken away.
He stared at her face, composed and peaceful in her slumber, trying to commit every last detail to memory. He was watching it all come to an end, their time together, and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
* * *
He saw Nambu’s disapproval before the man even said a word. Washio did not care. He hugged his small son tighter and walked towards the jet that would ultimately part them.
“Why did you bring him?” Nambu’s voice was tight.
“Because this is going to be all the time we’ll have,” Washio replied unrepentant. He looked at Ken, whose attention was focused on the waiting jets beyond. He kissed him on the forehead and set him down on the ground.
“Listen to me, Ken,” he said gruffly. The boy looked his way, blinking at this uncharacteristic tone in his father’s voice. “You be a good boy and listen to Nambu Hakase. You be good for your mother. Understand?”
Tears blurred his vision and he barely saw the boy nod his head solemnly. Washio handed the boy over to Nambu. “Take care of them,” he whispered.
Then he turned on his heel and practically ran towards the jet he was to fly that day. A small sound made him turn around. He saw Ken running towards him, then fall, again and again, until Nambu finally caught up with him. Ken was muddied now, his arms outstretched, crying for his father, for him…and he could not go to him. He would never be able to comfort his son again.
With a sheer force of will, Washio hauled himself up and into the jet and closed the canopy. He got the jet to taxi to the runway, then got it airborne. Once in the air and headed for the target, he shut off all communications. And screamed.
Tears flowed down his cheeks and he struck out at the console with both hands. He didn’t want to leave. This wasn’t fair. His whole life hadn’t been fair. Other people were happy, why couldn’t he be?
And, for a brief moment of time, as he neared the point of the soon-to-be accident, near to where Nambu had promised a submersible vehicle would be anchored for him to make his escape, he contemplated having the lie of his death become the truth.
* * *
When he snuck back into Hontworl, he had brought nothing with him. No wallet, no photographs, not even his wedding ring. Everything that could have linked him to the man known as Washio Kentaro was gone. Washio pushed his hands further into his coat pockets as he hunched against the cold wind that whipped down the canyons created by the buildings in Hontworl’s capital city.
Nambu had promised a package to be left in the main bus terminal and this was where Washio was headed for now. In that package would be a new identity that would make him into a completely different man. He had already changed his outward appearance as much as he could—colored contact lens, different hair cut, and even different hair color, thanks to a bottle of cheap hair dye purchased at an out-of-way rundown drug store.
In a day, he would begin his job as a maintenance worker within the government capital building itself, to ferret out whatever secrets it was holding. They had thought this job would, at least, provide him with the best cover and he would be able to roam almost at will, having access to just about every room and office, under the guise of cleaning and maintaining them.
He could only pay cash for anything, careful to leave no paper trails at all behind. He had taken some money with him, only a small amount from what he had had in his wallet, though Nambu promised more funds within the package to help him. Washio would live simply, as he had been used to doing prior to entering the military.
While he did not mind living that way, he ruefully thought of the house that he had only a few miles from here, the home he made with his family. Clenching his jaw against the emotion that welled up, he steeled his back and stared straight ahead, walking with purposeful strides.
He paused on a street corner, waiting for the light to turn so that he could cross, when the newspaper in one of the automated racks caught his eye.
“Local Pilot Missing, Feared Dead” the headline read. Beneath was a picture of a young woman, obviously distraught, a hand raised to her face, her other hand clinging to the hand of a small boy. Nothing now remained to connect him to them. Nothing at all, but the beating of his own heart.
He stared at the photo, swallowing hard. So easy, he thought. It would still be so easy to go back, to tell them it had been a mistake. Return to them now while he still could. Except that he couldn’t.
Washio turned and crossed the street to find his new life, hating himself with every step that took him away from them.
* * *
It had been a long and frustrating time, but finally Washio was able to contact Nambu with information. Washio headed for a secluded spot along a rocky curve of road near the shoreline. He pulled off the road and glanced around. From this vantage point, he would be able to see anyone who was near or even approaching.
They had agreed that Washio would only contact Nambu using a cheap, disposable cell phone and a calling card, and only when necessary. There had not been many calls between them in these first few years. It had taken time, more time than either of them would be believed possible, for Washio to become established enough so that people would talk or confide in him.
After every call, Washio would break the phone and discard the pieces at several points. He dialed Nambu’s number. Within the first ring, Nambu picked up.
“I have a name.”
“The syndicate itself is called Galactor.”
“Yes. They have infiltrated into the Hontworl government, but how deeply, I don’t know yet. They have apparently been in operation for a number of years." He paused a moment, then continued. "This is big. Bigger than we originally thought. Several places around the world. One of the largest here. The other on BC Island.”
“Are you sure?”
“As sure as I can be. Been in contact with one of their agents. Actually admitted his connection to them once I got him liquored up and talking. Here’s the thing—he said something about something big going down on BC Island soon—next week or so—and he was leaving on ‘vacation’ from here to take care of it. Apparently someone high enough up must be getting nervous. Didn’t get all of the details before the guy passed out, though. I’d go and check them out myself, but I can’t. It would look too suspicious for me to take off right when this guy does and I’m being watched as it is.”
“Understood.” Nambu put the cell phone down on his desktop and pulled up his schedule for the next few weeks. He picked up the phone again. “I could probably swing it. Change a few things around, but not enough so anyone would notice.” He went on the internet and pulled up a few choice websites. “Seems to be a few conferences going on during that time. I could probably get in on one or two without raising too many eyebrows.”
“That would be best.”
“Get the names of the higher ups involved?”
“Giuseppe and Katrina Asakura.”
* * *
The year Ken turned eleven, his father was declared legally dead. It was also the year his mother died. Nambu would have contacted Washio, but he had no idea how. He could only wait until Washio called him. When the phone finally rang, Nambu found himself at a loss of words.
As always, Washio merely began talking, running down the information he had been able to find thus far, without any preliminary small talk. When he finished, he heard silence answering him.
“You still there?” he asked.
“I need to tell you something,” Nambu said quietly. “Are you alone?”
Washio snorted. “As always.”
“Are you somewhere where there isn’t anyone hanging around, or who could possibly overhear?”
“I’m in my room. Private enough for you? Why, what’s going on?” Washio asked, alarm in his last words. “Is everything all right? How are they?”
Nambu winced. “She died,” he said, his voice trembling slightly. “About two months ago.”
Nambu heard a sharp intake of breath. “What? How? What happened?”
“About a year or so ago, the breast cancer returned. She underwent treatments again, but it was a particularly aggressive form…”
“ ‘A year or so ago’? Why didn’t tell me before this?”
“And what would you have done if I had? There was nothing you could do, nothing anyone could have done. We couldn’t put this mission in jeopardy like that…”
Nambu heard a savage cry, some static, and then….nothing. He disconnected the call, removed his glasses, and rubbed at his eyes, all the while wondering what would happen now.
* * *
Upon impact, the phone shattered into several pieces that rained down onto the worn carpet. Washio took in a shuddering breath before almost crying out again, then bit it off. Even now, even through his pain, he could not risk someone hearing him. He sank to his knees, then doubled over, hunching over the pain that radiated from his chest. He felt sick. He felt like wailing, rending his clothes and bellowing until he could breathe no more. But he didn’t do any of that. He couldn’t. Slowly, his forehead hit the floor and he raised his arms to cover his head. His body rocked with silent grief.
He could see her. Could picture her and their son so clearly he could almost reach out and touch them…
He could see her blue eyes sparkling, that smile of hers that captured his heart right from the very first…
Gone. All gone. And he would never see her again. He heard a low, keening sound, and it took him a while to realize that the sound was coming from his own throat.
She was gone. The only one in his life who had ever loved him, and now she was gone. Had been for over two months and he never knew it. How could he have not known? How was that even possible? How could he have not felt…something?
This was it, then, he knew. There could be no going back for him now. He did not realize it until this moment how much he had held on to the hope that he would always be able to go back.
But now his beloved wife was gone, his son would soon be a man in a few years’ time, and it all happened without him. His son would grow up without knowing the love of parents…just like him.
Darkness crept into the room on silent paws and curled up around him. When he rose up from the floor the next morning, for all intents and purposes, Washio Kentaro no longer existed. That man had well and truly died that night. The pain ripped through his heart. His son was just like him now.
Now he truly was nameless, empty and alone. There was nothing he could do now but continue on, because this mission was all he had left.
* * *
It was a rare meeting, the first time Nambu would see Washio face-to-face in years. Or, more accurately, what was left of him.
“What happened?” Nambu asked, taking a seat next to him on the secluded park bench. At four in the morning, there was no one else around.
Washio shrugged. “Got too close.” He shook his head. “I knew they suspected. They put out a welcoming committee for me. Won’t happen again, I can tell you that. Now that I know how they’re operating.” He paused, then looked at Nambu with his good eye, the one that wasn’t swollen shut. “You realize, the longer this goes on, the bigger they’re getting. It’s snowballing fast and it won’t be long before they try something on a big scale.”
Nambu sighed hard. “I know. That’s why I’ve made the decision to release the project I’ve been working on early. I would have preferred to wait, at least until they’ve had a few more years training, but I don’t think we have that kind of time any more.”
Washio raised an eyebrow. “And what project would this be?”
Nambu glanced down at a patch of grass in front of him. How much to tell him? All? None? A part? He chose his words carefully. “They are to be called the Science Ninja Team. Five young people, trained to specifically fight Galactor based on the information you’ve been giving me, along with other information I’ve obtained from other sources.” He stopped, debating about telling Washio anything further. He needed Washio to assume a different purpose now, so he needed to tell him something. He couldn’t risk him walking away. Even now. Especially now. “I need you in the air, to help them, until they settle in as a working unit. Maybe you could even train…”
Washio interrupted him with a bark of laughter. “You need me in the air. You need me here. I go back to flying, to help out this pet project of yours, and what happens to everything I’ve spent doing here? Or was that just a waste of my time and my wife’s life?”
Nambu felt a flare of anger, then quickly tamped it down. “Nothing you’ve done so far has been wasted. Or will be. I still need you here, to get the V-2 plans and the evidence we need of what’s going on in Hontworl’s government, but there will be times when I will need you to fly, to help them. To back them up.” He eyed Washio’s bruises. “It also looks as though you could use some help yourself.”
“So what are you proposing? Assuming there is a point to all of this?”
“The formation of a flying team. Fly in, get the job done, fly out.”
Washio looked at him a moment. “Mocking me, Nambu? Really?”
“No,” Nambu answered steadily. “I’m dead serious. I’m thinking it would be a three man team. You and two others. I can requisition three jets without setting off anyone’s radar, and I have an idea of a place to store them until they’re needed. I just…need you to tell me if you know of two pilots that you would trust beyond a doubt to call in for this.”
Washio glanced away from him, taking his time before answering. Dimly, he noted that the sun would rise shortly and they needed to be gone before then. And he would need to yet again change his name and appearance now that Galactor knew of this most recent incarnation of his. That this mission was once again shifting shape did not surprise him. Over the years, it had morphed from just a simple information retrieval, to something that neither of them could quite define. He still needed that proof, but in addition, he was now Nambu's only informant in Hontworl. The information he was able to glean was what Nambu was using to try to derail them. They had to stop Galactor. That's all there was to it. But...at what price? He sighed heavily. “There is no one I hate enough to wish this life on. I will not provide you with the names of pilots I respect just so they can be dragged into this mess as well. They don’t deserve it any more than I did.”
Nambu was only mildly surprised at the venom in Washio’s voice, at the bitterness in his words. “We can arrange it so that they would not need to leave their families. They can continue on with whatever they are doing now, with the understanding that, on occasion, they would be called in for some specialized flying missions.”
“So,” Washio said with a dry laugh. “You can do that for them now, but you couldn’t for me?”
“This is different and you know it.”
“Oh, I know only too well.”
After a brief silence, Washio stood up. “Masaki. He was with the 8067th last I heard. Contact him, tell him Lightening sent you. He’ll know what that means and will have the discretion not to give it away. He can probably give you the name of a third man. I don’t know who else is still out there who can be trusted.”
* * *
They met at a remote air strip on an island in the South Seas that Nambu had secured for them. Washio had just enough time to change into the uniform that had been left for him when the two men arrived.
Masaki, looking the same as ever, even under the guise of the red uniform, was easy for Washio to recognize. He did not know the third man at all.
Masaki smiled when he saw Washio. “It had been a long time, my friend,” he said in greeting. Washio nodded as he grasped the man’s hand in a handshake. “I want you to meet Onishii. He does not speak because he cannot. When Nambu Hakase outlined for me what he had in mind, I thought Onishii would be the best candidate. He was rendered mute by Galactor and has a score to settle with them.”
Onishii backed up Masaki’s words with a nod of his head. Washio gripped the man’s hand. “Welcome aboard. I understand that we are to fly today. Get to practice working as a team.”
“That we do,” Masaki agreed jovially. “So, shall we take to the skies and introduce the world to Red Impulse?”
* * *
He looked at the man in red before him and Nambu wondered if there was any part of him at all that remained as Washio Kentaro, or had that man been completely subsumed by being no one at all for so long. The last few years saw Washio becoming colder, harsher, more distant. Nambu regretted everything, but none of them could turn back now.
“They are doing well, but they are struggling in this mission. The God Phoenix can do a lot, but they are still young as a team. I need you to go in and cover them on this. Make sure that they do not fail,” Nambu instructed. Red Impulse listened impassively.
“If they are that green, then why did you send them in at all?” he finally asked with a shrug. “You could have waited.”
“No, waiting was not an option. And you know as well as I do that it is only with time and practice that they will learn to operate as a team.”
“So how does our bailing them out help them?”
“Why are you being so difficult with this,” Nambu lashed out. “I would have thought you, of all people, would have wanted to help out Ke—.” He stopped and caught himself, but Nambu knew his error was a grave one. Red Impulse leveled a glare at him, his eyes narrowing, which Nambu only barely saw through the tinted visor he wore.
“Help out who?” he asked, his voice low and level.
Nambu’s shoulders slumped. He had not told him. Of course he had not. He couldn’t have. Given his reaction after he had been told of his wife’s passing, Nambu could not have been certain how he would have reacted to this. But now he had no choice. A push coming to a shove.
“Ken,” he said finally. “Ken is on the team. Actually,” he admitted hesitatingly. “He is the leader of the Science Ninja Team.”
Red Impulse said nothing for a moment, nor was there any noticeable reaction, until he spoke. “Ken? My infant son? A part of this folly of yours? Are you out of your mind?”
“He is an infant no longer, and he is very good. I trained him myself where I could. You would be proud of him. He has your skill as a pilot…”
“Damn it all, Nambu,” Red Impulse turned on him. “When you said you would take care of him, I never envisioned that you would use him for one of your damned experiments. Did she know? Did you even talk to her about this?”
“No,” Nambu said tersely. “By the time it came down to it, Ken’s mother was too ill to make such decisions.”
“So you decided for all of us? It isn’t enough that you had to take me, that she had to give her life, but you had to take our son as well?”
“You’re not the only one who has had to make sacrifices here,” Nambu shot back, coming to his breaking point. “At least you had a wife, and you have a son…”
“Who, because of you, I can’t even see…”
“And that will change now. When you are in the air with them, with him,” Nambu said, then plunged in deeper, laying out the rules of engagement, as it were. “You will be able to see him again, but there is just one thing. You can’t ever let on to him that you are his father. You have been able to change everything else about yourself and now you will need to be as opposite as you can be to the father he would have remembered. Just in case he does remember. I can’t have him distracted. He talked about you, a lot, when he was younger,” Nambu swallowed hard as he forced the words out. “He needs to be focused and stay that way. Knowing he was right, and having you here, I don’t want that to interfere,” Nambu bowed his head a moment. “It is not much, but it is all I can offer to you now. They need your help.”
Red Impulse glared at him a moment, then relented. “Fine. I’ll contact Masaki and Onishii and we’ll get there as soon as we can.”
Red Impulse turned and walked away, mulling over what Nambu had just told him. He had no desire to see his son suffer any further and end up fighting in this mess that was the root cause of his leaving him in the first place.
He has your skill as a pilot…
On the other hand, Red Impulse could not help but wonder just how good Ken really was.
He wanted not only to see his son become not just a good pilot, even better than himself possibly, but to emerge as a strong, confident leader…
…and he wanted to see his son voluntarily leave this team of Nambu’s and pursue a life that would be more normal, a life that would give him some modicum of happiness without the inherent danger of being ripped away from it at any given moment, as he himself had been.
Red Impulse climbed into the jet and pulled the canopy closed. Would he help push Ken to be the best leader he could be…or would he try to help push him out of harm’s way?
As he took off, Masaki and Onishii taking up their positions on either side of him, Red Impulse had no answers. He would have to see how this played out. At the moment, he was merely looking forward to being in the same place, at the same time, as his son, for the first time in fourteen years. Everything else could wait.
Red Impulse eagerly went forward, not knowing that this meeting would be the beginning of the final ending in his life.
* * *
They came up fast and hard on the Godphoenix, maneuvering around it just enough to get their sights lined up with the Galactor saucers.
“Fire at will,” Red Impulse ordered as they entered the airspace. “Do what you must, but remember, above all, we are here to protect the Godphoenix.”
They flew in and around the large ship, which rocked in the wake of their jets. Red Impulse could only wonder as to the thoughts of the occupants within it, one of whom was his own son. Just a baby, and he was there, and in the line of fire.
He shouldn’t be, Red Impulse thought angrily. Nambu had no right to do what he did.
Red Impulse circled again, with Masaki and Onishii making their own tight turns, and with a few more shots, the sky was clear. They made a final pass around the Godphoenix and he couldn’t resist. He switched his communications frequency to that of the Godphoenix open communication frequency.
Nambu never said that he couldn’t talk to them, only that he had to be different than what Ken would have remembered him to be, he rationalized. He could do that. Been doing it for years. Not a problem. He began to laugh.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Science Ninja Team, I am Red Impulse. Let us meet again!”