a Gatchaman / Battle of the Planets / Eagle Riders fanfic
Part 1. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on April 10, 1997.
Walking out of his house, Ace Goodheart strode to the mailbox to gather what the mailman had left for him. It was another typical morning with nothing going on... yet. He felt that this was the day of strange events. Stranger than anything else he'd have ever encountered in his entire lifetime.
With the day's mail in hand, he made his way back, fingers flipping through the assortment of bills, junk mail, bills, advertisements, bills... all addressed to Ace Goodheart.
He cringed. Ace, I can deal with. But Goodheart? I may as well put on wings and a halo. Right there and then he cursed his Creator. Or in this case, Translator.
His throat complained. He'd been talking unnecessarily far too much this week. It made no sense to him as to why his scripts read like 'War and Peace' while Dirk, Aggie. Peewee, Hooty, Brighthead and even Galactor had miniscule workbooks.
I hate this realm. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
The newspaper boy cme by right then. "Yo, Ace! Paper!"
"Throw it on over!"
With a good fling, the paper went sailing towards him, landing in his hands. "Thanks!"
The kid rode away. "You still owe me money!!"
Ace rolled his eyes. So what else is new? I owe people money. So do my other counterparts. Why are we all in financial trouble?
For a moment, he smiled. He remembered meeting his counterparts, from outside of his realm. Ken Washio was someone he respected. He wished he could be a little more like that, but he knew it wasn't in his hands. He couldn't balme himself. All he actually thought of was how to make it up to his Original.
Mark was an entirely different story. Wit like a wonder, deadly with a blade, but where he comes from, people only conveniently died off-screen. No real proof. And I saw my father die on the V-2 rocket, he thought. His father claimed to have escaped, and then murdered off-screen, if I remember the scripts right.
But those had been strange, good times. Joe, Jason and Dirk got along well, despite Joe very often offending Jason with his level of profanity. Dirk had in the meantime delighted in it. The three girls got into their girl-things, and he knew Princess, Aggie and Jun were talking about their personal Eagles. Princess seemed the most content of the three, Jun the most frustrated. He didn't even want to know what Aggie had told them about him.
'The First Wives' Club' came into mind. He shuddered.
Jinpei, Keyop and Peewee had created massive havoc. Ken,Mark and himself had the worst time not only trying to tell them apart, but to get a hold of them for a good long lecture.
The one thing we all still obviously share, he mused, grinning.
Ryu, Hooty and Tiny had gone off together to get something to eat. All their team-counterparts hadn't been the least bit surprised. Though Tiny's concept of space burgers all but went 'whoosh' over his head...
What an eventful meeting that had been. Ken had called the other two realm-counterparts together for an emergency; Berg Katse, Zoltar and Galactor were forming the ultimate Three Muskateer nightmare. It had been a glorious battle, if not a little mixed up. There were two things that made those days some of his very best : the sight of the three purple-clad villains panicking from there to China when they heard not one but THREE whistling tunes at once, and just for fun he, Mark and Ken had done it in a three-part harmony.
Priceless! Their expressions had been priceless!
The second was a hell of a sight : three Phoenixes going into the Firebird Effect together. Three huge mother firebirds lighting up the sky. An even greater spectacle compared to the Five Firebird Run.
He heaved a deep sigh. And we may never be able to do that again, he thought sadly. It had been fun, if not a little apprehensive on Ken's team's part, since they had been so... 'unceremoniously' translated into his team and Mark's over the years. But they had been forgiven. Again, it wasn't their fault.
For a moment, Ace looked up to the sky, and said, "Blast you, Turner!!"
He entered his house and dropped the assorted mail on the counter. He flicked on the answering machine to check for messages.
"Ace, it's Dirk. I'm bored. Call me. Go figure something to do. Something crazy, something wild, something *daring*, I... Blast it! Bad pun! I hope you ignored that! I... I...argh! I hate this realm! Nevermind!"
Ace hadn't ignored it. The proof of it was that he had picked up a cushion and buried his face right into it, laughing himself stupid.
He looked up. That voice...
"Ace? Believe it or not, it's me."
He dashed to the answering machine. Ken?
"Now, don't ask me how I got this number, it's all Jun's doing. Listen, we have a new situation. I'd like for the you to call the G-Force team together and meet at our last rendezvous point. I've summoned Mark and his team already. And this time, let's change the dress code. Your team in black and blue, Mark's in black and red, mine in black and white. I don't want to have to chase the wrong person again."
Ace was still in a daze. What was happening here?
"Hope you'll make it. This is important, and I doubt you're going to believe it when I relay it to you. Thanks."
That was real. It was Ken! We're being called together again!
Reaching for his wristcom, he called the rest of the G-Force team.
"Dirk, you wanted something to do, you got it. Everyone meet me at the base, and make sure you pack nothing but black and blue clothes, no matter what they are."
Mark ran to his seat aboard the Phoenix and ran a check on the ship's status. "Here we go again, team. The Originals are calling together the Franks and the Turners."
"Something big must be up," Jason said from his console. "Think it's like before, Commander?"
He shook his head. "But it's gotta be important. Ken wouldn't be calling us otherwise."
"a-root-a-toot-toot Jinpei and Peewee!"
Princess groaned. "Oh no... not again. Remember the last disaster the three G4s got themselves into?"
Tiny cringed. "Man, I had no idea that Ace could be so verbal."
"You probably didn't hear the words Ken used, then," Princess piped.
"Or Joe," Jason offered. "Limited but powerful vocab he's got."
Mark scanned the radar. "Well, looks like the Turners are here." He put the image up on the screen. The Phoenix - the other Phoenix - streaked by them.
"This is Mark calling Ace. Respond, G-Force." Why do I feel like I'm talking to myself?
Ace's image appeared on the next screen. A mirror of Mark. "Hey, guys. How goes it?"
"Great. Did Ken explain?"
"No, except that it's important, and that we should be there."
Jason frowned. "I hate that rendezvous point. It gives me the creeps."
Dirk appeared behind Ace on screen. "Better than anyplace else. It's private, and no one will even think of looking for us there." Ace nodded.
Princess shivered. "Still, Dirk..."
Mark and his team changed out of Bird Style, then proceeded to change out of their numbered shirts and jeans, opting for black jeans and red shirts. They left the Phoenix and waited there for Ace's team.
A few minutes passed before five familiar - apparently - people approached them, having discarded their own numbered shirts and jeans, wearing black jeans and blue shirts.
"Mark," Ace greeted.
He nodded back. "Ace."
A brief session of friendly hugs and words took place, before they felt it was time to meet with the Originals.
Their spines chilled as they stepped into the old Disney warehouse.
Hooty trembled. "Y'know, I hear they do strange things in this place..."
"I've seen some of them," Dirk noted. "Not pretty."
Aggie had to agree. "Real life doesn't apply here. Did you guys see what they did to Space Cruiser Yamato?"
Jason groaned. "Aggie, I just got over that!"
Ace turned sharply towards Mark. Mark could only shrug. "I tell you, we can't fix his speech. Honest!"
His counterpart sighed. "I didn't bring any Prozac...."
Peewee stayed close to Ace, not wanting to get lost in the place. "I can't stand it, Ace. This place is too weird."
"Ken sure has a wicked sense of humor," Hooty said.
Princess agreed. "Maybe he wants us to be thankful that it wasn't Disney who took us."
Mark shuddered visibly. "Princess, you're scaring me. I could've ended up sounding like Phoebus from 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'."
Tiny walked faster. "Yeee... Mark, don't say that. I could've ended up Nathan Lane."
"Shutupshutupshutup!" Ace growled. "If I turn into an insomniac before this is over I'm blaming all of you!"
All of them fell silent. That voice again. A shadow in front of them.
The lights came on, revealing the two teams' original counterparts.
The Kagaku Ninjatai.
Ken stepped forward, Joe, Jun, Jinpei and Ryu following close, like them dressed in black jeans but white shirts instead of red or blue.
"Good to see you all again."
Part 2. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on April 10, 1997.
After a few minutes of happy exchanges and traded war-stories, Ken decided it was time to call the gathering to order. All fifteen of them - like 5 sets of triplets - moved into a room that was completely refurnished and reconstructed to look like one of the better ISO conference rooms.
Ace whistled as he took a good look around. "Where'd you guys get the money for this?"
"Retirement funds work pretty well with us," Jun answered. "We've been well-covered for the past 25 years."
Joe sniggered. "In my case it was one hell of an insurance claim." Turning to Dirk he said, "I'm sure you know what I mean."
Jason stared absently as Dirk nodded in resignation. "What? What?"
Aggie giggled. "Face it, Jase, you've had it easy compared to Joe and Dirk."
Keyop, Jinpei and Peewee had already begun a game of tag, running and leaping wildly around the room. Ace rolled his eyes, imagining his dark hair slowly turning grey. "Will the three of you stop horsing around!!"
Ken whirled around. "Jinpei!"
All three froze in position. All three returned to their respectable 'anikis'.
Mark sighed. "Now that's one thing I don't have."
Princess held Keyop close to her, keeping him within her sights. "Sorry, Ken. He gets a little out of hand."
"Peewee's learned, though," Hooty noted. "Ever since the last time he got caught and lectured, only it wasn't Ace who caught him."
For a moment Ken stole a glance at Peewee, who was hiding protectively behind Ace, who in turn was trying hard not to laugh.
"I'm sorry about the last time, Peewee. I had no idea it was you," Ken apologized. "That's why I arranged for this dress code. We can tell each other apart this way." And as he shot a sharp glare at Jinpei, he added, "And there'll be less mistakes."
Jinpei shook. "Sorry, Aniki."
Joe took a seat near the head of the table. "Can we get started?"
They all took their places. Ken at the head of the table, flanked by his own team mates on either side. The Franks sat all along the left while the Turners took the seats acorss their own counterparts.
Ryu nodded. "Well, looks like we're ready."
The ten counterparts didn't like the seriousness in Ken's expression.
"We have a new situation, it seems. The Kagaku Ninjatai has yet again been translated by the Americans."
Ten audible groans. "Oh god," Mark whispered.
"You mean us again?" Peewee voiced. "The same ones again?"
"Strangely, no," Jun answered. "It appears they've taken interest in our sequels."
Ten echoes. "Sequels?"
Joe turned on the main screen ahead of them. "Gatchaman had two other sequels, Gatchaman II and Gatchaman F. These sequels didn't make as much noise as the original series, but they were pretty good."
"Except that cow episode," Ken grumbled. "I became a vegetarian soon after."
Ace didn't understand that inside joke, but proceeded to ask a question. "You guys were in series right up until 1980, if I remember right. Joe came back from the dead and Ken was suffering from a leukemia-like disease."
"And it had a hanging ending," Princess interjected. "What happened then?"
The Originals were quiet.
"Well, we don't know," Jun admitted. "Our producers never got around to telling us."
"So what did you guys end up doing?" Tiny asked.
Mark hadn't liked it when he saw Ken blush slightly. He looked to Ace across him, and saw that he wasn't exactly thrilled by it either.
Both G1s were close to collapsing when they saw Jun reach for his hand.
Both G1s daren't look at their G3s.
"Ken and I got engaged."
Even without looking, Ace and Mark could feel Aggie and Princess's eyes boring into them. They wanted to run, badly.
Joe laughed heartily. "Give 'em time, girls. These two took all but 25 years to finally get it right."
"Yeah. You're only just starting!" Ryu roared.
Ken's cheeks reddened further, as did Ace's and Mark's, but for completely different reasons.
Jinpei coughed loudly. Ken paled to his normal color.
"Anyway," he continued, "An American company bought over the rights to Gatch II and F, combining the two series into one, giving it a new name."
Dirk set himself to chewing the nib of his feather shuriken. "Which American company would this be?"
Ken set his expression to neutral. Slowly, he pronounced the name, "Saban."
A sudden gasp of silence. No one moved. Ten pale faces said absolutely nothing.
"That's inhuman!!" Jason burst. "Of all the existing companies it had to be THEM?"
"After what those guys did to the Power Rangers..." Peewee moaned.
Aggie gathered herself together. "How bad?"
"So bad, Aggie, that we can even forgive Ace for his narrations," Ryu replied.
Ace's eyes looked as though they would fall onto the table. "That's bad."
"Considering that almost every off-screen moment was given to him," Dirk added. "His scripts read like the Vedas!"
Ace cringed. He desperately needed Prozac now...
Ken nodded. "Jinpei traced this information from the numerous websites on the Internet dedicated to us and our incarnaitons, namely all of you. For definite proof, I sent Joe to steal some eveidence from Saban."
"Oh you brave thing," Princess gushed. "It must've been torture!"
Dirk refrained from rolling his eyes, as did Joe.
Joe shrugged. "It was easy. Saban's pretty lame."
"What proof do you have?" Mark enquired.
Joe reached under the table and pulled out a video tape.
The Franks and the Turners could not help but stare.
Part 3. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on April 11, 1997.
Ken slipped the tape in and held the remote. "If anyone wants to ask questions or make comments, signal for me to hit the 'pause' button, okay?"
"Roger," answered 14 voices.
"I admit none of the Originals have seen this either, so I'd say we'll be in for something... something...."
"Weird?" Jinpei finished.
Dirk hurled a feather shuriken to the wall, sticking it into the plaster. Joe and Jason did the same. "It's Saban, Jinpei. It'll be beyond weird."
"Shhh.... tape's starting."
The room darkened as it would in a movie theater, and the five sets of triplets watched intently as the opening sequences played and the theme song lingered in the room.
(Note : from here on, this fanfic will proceed in certain parts following the format used by Jane Lebak in her own MST3K take on 'Science Ninja Team Emergency'. Thank you, Jane, for the reference.)
Ace : Well, I have to admit, that's what I call a theme.
Ken : Compared to the Gatch II theme we got in 1978, this is pretty good.
Joe : Aw, man.. did they have to show my skeleton like that? I look like a Halloweener.
Jason : Oooh, nice shot of me with the feather. Nice shot.
Everyone : Shut up, Jase.
Mark : Whoa, wait : that cannot be my G1. Ace, did you see that?
Ace : I'm still trying to get over that little frisbee thing I seem to be throwing...
Ken : Hey, you didn't have to actually *use* the thing, y'know.
Princess : I like the ribbon, though.
Tiny : I get my own vehicle? Cool! But why does it look like a chicken?
Jun : *All* our vehicles tend to resemble poultry in this series.
Keyop : a-root-a-toot-toot G4 Parrot?
Jinpei : It's supposed to be a Bird of Paradise!
Dirk : Comin' outta hell, yeah.
Ryu : Hey, that's stock footage of the old God Phoenix!
Ace : Oh, yeah? That's old stock footage of me gliding down! I can even tell you which episode it's from!
Jason : AAGH! *That's* the G2?
Dirk : I want my blue G2 back! This looks like a life-sized plastic toy!
Joe : You two didn't have to drive it, okay? Now shut up.
Aggie : I think I like the ribbon, too, Prin.
Jun : I was luckier.
Peewee : I thought Jai-Alai was banned in certain countries.
Ken : It passes as a weapon. Ask Jinpei.
Hooty : I like that footage of the five of us running like that.
Everyone : *sigh*
Mark : Oh my god, *that's* our logo? That thing?
Everyone : Errghh....
Dirk : I wonder if Volvo will sue...
Ryu : There are some similarities...
Aggie : And they had the nerve to put 'Saban' right on top.
Ace : Yow! A title-screen shot? We didn't have that!!
Jun : But that's a Gatch F shot, isn't it?
Joe : I saw both Gel Sadra and Egobossler in that. What gives?
Peewee : There'll be hell to figure out the transition between villains.
Ken brought the lights back on. "So far, not too shabby."
Tiny nodded. "I like the editing. Covers all of us nicely."
"Yeah," Dirk agreed. "Not like ours. They were talking about Aggie but they showed shots of Ace instead."
"What I like about it is that no one introduces them," Princess added. "I mean, my name gets said first every week. It's annoying."
Ace sighed. "I know what you mean. They gave me a ridiculous name and a blasted image to live up to." Turning to Mark, he said, "I envy you."
Joe hadn't stopped rubbing his ears yet. "That woman's gotta stop singing. I'll never be able to get that chanting out of my head."
"I think our infernal backbeat was still worse," Hooty noted. "Every single spare moment was given to the backbeat."
Peewee groaned. "You're obviously forgetting the two episodes where it was running all throughout."
"I still didn't get to see an actual shot of the ship," Mark complained. "I mean, if our personal vehicles look like..."
The five Originals looked at each other for a brief moment, expressions unreadable.
Ken took hold of the remote again. "We'll only be watching spliced scenes from certain episodes from here on, just to get a general view of it. Ready?"
With heavy apprehension, they said, "Yeah."
Part 4. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on April 12, 1997
Ken released the 'pause' button and their viewing continued with their tongues pressed firmly against their cheeks.
"Report to the Global Security Council No. G0X1, subnitted by Dr. Thaddeus Keane."
ACE : Please don't tell me that's the G1 narrating already.
JOE : Didn't you hear? He said 'Doctor.' I don't think you're up to that level. (three Eagles shoot death glares at Joe)
P.WEE : Why does it sound almost 'X-Files'-ish?
PRIN : Bad enough they went and bought the rights, they gotta steal other people's concepts too?
Cut to the appearance of Cybercon after witnessing the splitting and sinking of a cruise-liner packed with people.
DIRK : This is him? Looks like a disco light show.
MARK : Personally, I prefer the old Luminous One, or whatever...
"Hear my voice and know that I am Cybercon!"
ALL : Cybercon? JASON : *PAUSE!*
Ken hit the button and turned the lights back up. "What?"
"Cybercon?" Jason echoed again. "Cybercon?"
"Can it, Jase, and let's finish this thing fast," Ace growled. "I'm not liking it already."
Cybercon addressed his new servant. "You shall have a new name, which will strike fear in all who hear it. You will be known as... Mallanox!"
ALL : AAAAAAAAHHHH!!!! [giggle][laugh]
JINPEI : Somebody save me!!
P.WEE : I'm scared, Aggie! Hide me! Hide me!
HOOTY : Isn't that some kind of bottled liquid medicine?
JOE : That's Maalox, you dolt.
Mallanox appears before a very stunned scientist, who had to hit his brakes in order not to run the costimed freak over.
JUN : Ergh... lousy color scheme.
PRIN : Wouldn't be caught dead in it.
AGGIE : No sense of style at all.
Mallanox speaks for the first time. "Professor Harcort I presume?"
(All jaws drop)
RYU : Naw, no way!
JASON : That voice.... I've heard it before.... (Mark brightens, the figurative lightbulb appearing above his head)
MARK : It's the Joker! It's the Joker from Batman!
TINY : Jack Nicholson?
KEN : Don't insult Jack Nicholson.
"My name is Mallonox."
ALL : So we heard.
The scientist watches as his car fries to a crisp and then gets sucked into Mallanox's transport ship.
"Watch your head on the door!"
ACE : I.... I want to laugh... but I just can't... I can't....
Cut to the meeting at the Global Security Council. Director Anderson, as his new name was unmentioned as yet, began to address a man who appeared to look like Nambu, the Chief and Brighthead, but was called Dr. Thaddeus Keane.
"Then it was my turn to address the Council," said a voice from nowhere, not speaking to anyone in particular.
(Jaws drop again)
DIRK : *He's* the narrator? This... Keane or whatever his name is??
RYU : [groan] I'm feeling sick already...
JINPEI : Must be all that pizza you ate before...
ALL : Shhhh!!
The Director is still addressing Keane. "... who used to command the famous Eagle Riders."
EAGLES : What about us?
JOE : So we're called the Eagle Riders, huh?
TINY : Why am I picturing myself sitting on an eagle, riding it like I would a horse?
P.WEE : Jeez, don't start giving me ideas!
ACE : Too late. I have the image in my mind. It won't go away... (Dirk thumps Ace on the head with a rolled-up copy of a G-Force script)
DIRK : Better?
ACE : [blink][blink] Nope. It won't go away.
Keane begins his theory related to the unidentified object that fell from the sky and ran into the said cruise-liner. "Fortunately all that were on board were rescued."
KEN : *PAUSE*
The lights came on again. Ken had a stunned look on his face which no one could immediately explain.
"They were all rescued?" he hissed. "After what we saw?"
Jun quickly rushed to his side, her hand gripping his. "Breathe, Ken. Remember : reality is not in order in that world. There is no reality."
Hooty had to stand at his seat. "Fabrication!"
"Like we couldn't tell if anyone lived through that..." Jinpei moped.
Ken had calmed down some, and proceeded to release the 'pause' button.
Keane reminds them of a previous threat of alien nature, saying that they may be behind the kidnappings of major figures in global defence, like the unfortunate Prof. Harcort. "You may have forgotten the Vorak, but I don't think for a minute that they've forgotten about us." Another representative interjects. "You mean those androids have returned?"
JUN : Vorak?
KEN : Androids?
PRIN : Vorak?
KEYOP : A-root-a-toot-toot Androids?
ALL : Androids? (brief moment of silence)
ALL : AAAAAAGGGGHHH!!!
Keane tells then that he has already called for the supposedly disbanded Eagle Riders. Cut to scenes of the remaining four members arriving on the scene. The G1 appears first.
"Hunter Harris, reporting for duty."
ACE : *PAUSE!!!*
They all looked at Ace strangely as he began to howl with insane laughter before he leapt out of seat, commencing a series of flips on the conference table.
Joe stood. "Ace, what the fu-"
He landed neatly in his seat again, still howling, tears gathering in his eyes. "Yes!" he screamed. "There *is* a God! There is a name worse than mine!! Thank you, God!!"
Jinpei rolled his eyes. "Ace Goodheart still rolls in as a close second."
Ace was laughing into his hands now, unable to stop. "Doesn't matter! That one takes the cake! I don't care!!"
Ken got up, closing in on Ace's position, and then walloped him with the remote. He abruptly shut up.
"We're all happy for you, Ace," the Original Eagle said drily. "But we have an observation to finish."
"Kelly Jennar, reporting for duty."
PRIN : Hmm... snappy, gutsy...
JUN : Still not me.
AGGIE : She's got a nice name, though. (The others proceed to roll their eyes)
"Mickey Dugan, reporting for duty."
JINPEI : No complaints. Yet.
P.WEE : Sounds suspiciously like me...
KEYOP : A-root-a-toot-toot 4 G4s!!
EAGLES : [groan]
"Ollie Keeawani, reporting for duty."
DIRK : And "Alooohaaaa!" to you too.
RYU : That's unfair. I always get turned into this laid-back character.
KEN : Aren't you?
JASON : I'm half expecting him to come out in a straw hat and Hawaiian shorts.
JOE : Leis?
OWLS : Ah, shaddap.
Keane speaks again, addressing no one in particular. "These are the Eagle Riders, the protective force, created as the last guard against alien intruders, dedicated to serving the Global Good."
AGGIE : Echoes of G-Force.
HOOTY : "These are the adventures of G-Force! Five secret agents -" TURNERS : Shaddap!!
MARK : Suddenly I'm very thankful to be a Frank....
KEN : Oh god oh god oh god.... this doesn't look good....
Part 5. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on April 17, 1997. Co-written with Falcon-chan.
Cut to the second episode, where it opens with Hunter's voice from nowhere : "Report to the Global Security Council No. G0X2, sumitted by Hunter Harris."
ACE : *sigh* Some things never change...
KEN : I'm sorta glad we had our own narrator; we didn't have to say much.
JASON : Listen, Ken. You didn't have a talking peanut dispenser that looks like a metal Mr. Potato Head monitoring your every move who has a tin-can of a dog that eats bolts.
ALL : Point taken.
The Eagle Riders escape the Guardian and chase after Zarnak. Hunter corners him and he slumps forward with a feather shuriken in his neck. Kelly says, "A feathered stunner! He's been deactivated!"
JOE : Deactivated?
DIRK : Deactivated?
MARK : What?
ALL : Deactivated?
JUN : *PAUSE*
The lights came back on again and everyone got out of their seats, with Ken yelling, "Tylenol Break!"
When they returned to the room ten minutes later, they settled down again, and depsite Ace's begging to not continue with the viewing, Ken released the 'Pause' button.
KEN : Deal with it, Ace.
ACE : (getting out of his seat) I'm going to go take another Tylenol.
The battle sequence on the Vorak base. Hunter's crash. His visions of Joe, Joe's voice.
JOE : Bad enough that his name is still Joe, but didja get a load of his voice?
DIRK : I'm happy with mine, thanks.
JINPEI : I've only heard him say three lines, and already I think he's a sap. (The Condors all start chasing Jinpei around the room)
Cut to the third episode now. A voice from nowhere. "For as long as I can remember, this was my home : Gateway City. I was proud to serve the Global Security..... but I haven't been with Hunter nad the others for a very long time."
ACE : (to Dirk) How'd ya like that?
JOE : If that's me I'm not gonna speak fro a week.
AGGIE : He sounds so... soft... so... corny.
TINY : Corny? Aggie, he's the entire state of Kansas.
Hunter reaches the end of his transport. "Eagle Mode Now!"
JUN : As opposed to "Bird Go".
PRIN : Or "Transmute".
P.WEE : Or even "G-Force Transform".
MARK : As long as they change, who cares what they say...
JINPEI : As long as it's not "Moon Prism Power Make-Up".
KEYOP : A-root-a-toot-toot Sailor Condor! (The Condors all start chasing Keyop around the room)
Cut to the prison scene. Ollie is taking a look around. He falls into a well. Hunter's voice comes over the wristcom. "Ollie?"
Ollie : Don't go hittin' the panic button, Hunter, I just fell down a well.
Hunter : Okay. I told you to watch your step.
Ollie : Aw, why'd it have to be empty? When they built these things didn't they use to put water in 'em?
ALL : [laugh]
KEN : [gasp] I have to admit, that's good rapport.
HOOTY : I guess I haven't changed much...
P.WEE : Considering that you're from Hawaii now. ALOOOHAAA!!! (The Owls all start chasing P.Wee around the room)
ACE : CAN WE STOP THIS RUNNING AROUND ONCE AND FOR ALL BEFORE I HAVE TO BIRDRANG ALL OF YOU????? (abrupt silence)
MARK : [blink][blink] Ace... I didn't know you had it in you.
ACE : Result of repressed expression. Blame that outburst on Turner. Listed under 'emotional distress'.
Now the Eagle Ridrs are trapped in an electrical force-field. One Vorak tries to run for it but ends up getting zapped. Only one way out, and that's the Eagle Cyclone.
P.WEE : Hey, Ken, that's the Tornado Formation, right?
KEN : Umm... well...
PRIN : But how do you make a Pyramid with only four people?
JUN : Uh, guys...
RYU : You'll be sooorryyyy....
The four huddle together, and Hunter calls for the Eagle Cyclone. Their belts charge up and create a towering cyclone in the center.
SWALLOWS : Care Bear Stare!!!!
EAGLES : Die! (The Eagles lose patience and chase the Swallows around the room)
JOE : I'm glad I wasn't in this sequence...
PRIN : It really isn't as impressive, now is it?
MARK : [huff][puff] C'mon, it doesn't even make sense!
KEN : (plopping into his seat) Sense was optional in this series. Really.
Joe's voice-over comes on again as the camera pans from the Eagle Riders to Gateway City. "But I know deep inside that one day we will be together again... but until then I will have to remain a ghost."
ALL : Aww.... [sniff][snuffle]
JOE : When I get my hands on this lame-o he *will* be a ghost.
DIRK : Oh yeah...
JASON : Don't leave me behind guys.
AGGIE : But those words really touched me...
ACE : Yeah, me too. Y'know where? My bladder. Anyone else need to go? (Ken hits the 'pause' button and all get up to head for the restrooms)
JUN : Fast forward and let's see what they made out of Joe's comeback.
JINPEI : I'll bet they runined what was a percet sequence.
RYU : (eyes skyward) So what else is new?
Hunter and Keane are having a petty argument about who drives the Falcon Tracker.
MARK : Now that's dumb. It's a new vehicle, isn't it? He wouldn't know much about it even if he was around.
KEN : Repeat after me : Consistency is not an option.
ALL : Consistency is not an option.
DIRK : Ken?
ALL : It didn't work.
The Eagle Riders and Keane all freeze as they hear a whistled tune. But one that is less familiar.
TINY : Why is he whistling "The Ants Go Marching?"
KEN : My god, my god... my trademark... gone! GONE!
ACE : After all that time I spent learning to whistle that tune!!
PRIN : I think the tune is 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again', but it sure as hell doesn't make things any better.
JINPEI : You kidding? I mean, who's stop everything they're doing when they hear someone whistling 'When The Ants Go Marching'?
DIRK : (dripping sarcasm) Hurrah, hurrah.
A quick reunion, Hunter's punch to Joe's jaw, a brief sandy play-about, a mecha attacks, Joe dives into the ground inside the Falcon Tracker.
"Your coordinates have been imputed into the Falcon Tracker's computers. It should take you right to the epicenter," Keane tells him. Joe replies, "Good. 'Cause it's kinda dark down here and there aren't a lot of sign posts."
RYU : Why does he sound like a Ninja Turtle?
CONDORS : Because he's a half-WIT!
P.WEE : As opposed to half-shell?
Joe comes up to a tough spot along his drive. "There's a tight squeeze up ahead. Good. I've always wanted to try this trick."
JASON : It's a real shame. He's almost a Condor, y'know.
Joe is now heading towards a pool of lava. "Uh-oh. I'm in the soup!"
DIRK : And yet he's a moron.
JOE : (looking skywards) What did I ever do to You?
Joe accoplishes his mission, not without trashing the Tracker in the process. Hunter is amazed that he comes out without a scratch. "So, I'm lucky. So sue me."
JASON : Lucky? What in blazes is he smoking?
JOE : I dunno, but I think I want some...
Joe starts lamenting about not being an Eagle Rider anymore becuase of his hatred for the Vorak. Hunter does the obligatory talking. "I think I unerstand what you're saying. You're afriad you've become too emotional to be a good soldier."
MARK : As opposed to how calm and colected you've always been before?
ACE : Mark, which dreamworld did you come from?
KEYOP : Toot-toot Wonderland. (Mark growls something incoherent, but Keyop gets it and shuts up)
"If it's one thing I didn't miss it's listening to your lectures," Joe Thax says with a smile. Hunter laughs lightly, a sound that is actually somwhat pleasant compared to his speech.
P.WEE : Gee, Ace, it's nice to know that there's something about you that can't be changed.
HOOTY : Yeah, and in the other two Eagles, too... [snigger] (Ace appears calm, then turns to Mark and Ken)
ACE : May I? (They nod) (Ace takes out a copy of one of his Tolstoy G-Force scripts and wallops them both upside the head. They see stars and slide underneath the table)
ACE : Okay. What's next?
Part 6. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on April 23, 1997.
"What's next is that we decide how to deal with the problem," Ken told them. "I figured it would take all three teams to deal with this, since we're already aware of the mistakes done upon us, and that we've learned how to deal with them or fix them."
"Can't fix this, though," Ace noted, referring to the San Fransisco telephone book-sized script of his. "Only way I can get out of this is if I come down with laryngitis for the rest of my animated shelf-life."
"We could kill them," three Condors said unaminously.
Mark shook his head. "Out of the question. It'd be like killing ourselves."
Princess agreed. "When we came out the Kagaku Ninjatai didn't lay a hand on us."
"And when we came out neither predecessor came after us," Hooty offered.
"Besides, like Ken said, they're us, but with plenty of flaws, unfortunately more than any of us put together," Jun said. "All we can do is try to put them right again."
Dirk rolled his eyes. "And how many eons d'you think it'll take?"
P.Wee sighed. "The rate those guys are going, I just might actually age before we're through."
"So what's the plan?"
Ken was silent. As usual in very deep thought. Ace took after him, since he was the other Eagle. Mark only waited to see what the other two would come up with. It'd been a while since he'd come up with a good scheme anyway.
Ken got out first. "I think we could take them and convince them that they could change to live up to our images."
"In other words, we grab 'em and bang some sense into them, each to his or her own counterpart," Ace redefined.
The Condors grinned sinisterly. "Are you two thinking what I'm thinking?" Joe asked.
Dirk grinned wider. "I know I am."
"You two are crazy," Jason grumbled.
"Agreed then," Ken said. "Now we split up and head into Saban's realm, seek out our counterparts and haul them in."
"Roger!" echoed 14 voices.
Ken couldn't hide his smile. "Some things just don't change."
Jun, Aggie and Princess explored the city until they came to what was familiar as their snack bar. They waited at the corner, making sure that Kelly Jennar was alone. The door opened and Mickey Dugan stepped out, heading down the street. Now she was totally alone in the snack bar.
Jun nodded to the other two, and they raced into the bar, Aggie locking the familiar doors, Jun dropping the familiar blinds. Prin turned out the lights, leaving Kelly very much in the dark, literally.
"What the -"
"Hi," three female voices chorused. A pink flash of light, and Kelly saw before her not one but three white-and-pink clad Swans, identical to her own Dove.
"Three other Doves?" she managed, still in a state of shock.
"Swans," they corrected through gritted teeth. And moving quickly, Jun had Kelly gagged with a dish-towel, while Aggie and Prin's yo-yos served as perfect binds to keep her limbs from flailing about.
Aggie smiled brightly. "I'm beginning to enjoy this already."
Ryu led the other two Owls into the fast food restaurant. Sure enough, they found Ollie Keeawani wolfing down the food he had stacked in his tray. The sight made the three Owls' stomachs gurgle.
"Not now," Ryu told them. "We gotta wait until he leaves here. There are way too many people here."
Tiny sighed. "Couldn't we grab some lunch first? I'm starving."
They looked at each other for a moment, before shrugging. "Why not?"
They made their orders and sat right across Ollie's table, keeping their eyes on him. They had filled their guts happily by the time Ollie was getting out of the place.
Hooty got up. "Woof... I think that was a bit much. We won't be able to run him down like this."
"Hey, he ate more than we did," Ryu noted. "We'll catch him."
"Heh. And if we don't, then we'll all just sit on him."
Ryu and Hooty looked at Tiny, and then grinned. "That'd work."
Moments later, after having sat on an exhausted and bloated Ollie, the three Owls hauled him into the pick-up truck they came in and drove out to the rendezvous point.
Joe Thax didn't stop running, internal thoughts continuously becoming audible to everyone around him. "I didn't know what was going on. I knew there were three people chasing me, but why? Who were these people? And why do they keep yelling at me to shut the hell up?"
Joe (Asakura) ran ahead of the other two, his cybernetic body complying to his every need to catch this guy. Dirk and Jason split up, hoping to nail Joe Thax from the other direction. All three had their feather shurikens ready, Dirk and Jason loading their cable guns with fresh cable.
Thax had run himself into an alley, which wasn't smart at all, considering his predecessors' reputations. He looked for a way out, but his cybernetically-enhanced brain was obviously of a lower-quality internal processor.
Dirk and Jason pounced on him, their cable guns firing the cables that coiled around him, disabling any kind of movement. They slapped high-fives.
Joe descended from the top of the building adn glared down at Thax.
"I didn't understadn what was happening. My captors all looked exactly like me, adn yet they weren't me. The one in black and white was the fiercest one of them, and I didn't like the way he looked at me... as though there was a whole other purpose to this attack and I wasn't about to wait around to -"
"SHUT UP!!!" *POW*
"Then I was unconscious... gaaahhh...."
Dirk pouted, folding his arms. "No fair. You got to hit him."
"Oh shut up. You'll get your chance."
Jason grinned. "I'm sure."
"There he goes," P.Wee whispered. "Do we jump him now?"
"Naah... he's smarted than the others," Jinpei told them. "We gotta lure this donkey."
"Rrrrr-toot With what?"
"This." And Jinpei pulled out a little kitten from his backpack. "If anything, we're all suckers for animals. I figured this would work."
P.Wee giggled. "Man, if your Aniki caught you with that..."
"Actually he got it for me, once we retired," Jinpei smiled. "He said for once it wouldn't bother them." He then set the kitten running, the creature quickly moving towards the one that very much resembled her master. She moved to Mickey's feet and meowed sweetly.
Mickey looked down from his standing position. "Aw, hey, aren't you a cute one." He picked her up and she licked his face. "I wonder if Hunter would let me bring you in? I'm sure he wouldn't mind."
"Yeah, that's 'cause Hunter's a ditz."
Mickey looked around for the voice, but before he could he was stashed into a sack and tied firmly. The kitten crawled out and ran back to Jinpei.
"Yup," P.Wee nodded. "That's one smart cat you got there. What's her name?"
Jinpei snickered. "What else? Katse!"
The other two Swallows fell over laughing. "Gasping, P.Wee managed to speak again. "I - I'll bet Ken wasn't thrilled when you told him that..."
"You kidding? He had three fits before he gave up!"
Laughing merrily together, they threw the sack into Jinpei's jeep and sped off, the kitten purring happily in Jinpei's lap as he drove.
"How are we going to find him, anyway? This is a huge city."
"Mark, it couldn't be that hard to find a yo-yo dressed in a numbered t-shirt, now could it?" Ace retorted.
"It really makes me wonder why Katse or Sadra never figured that out," Ken wondered aloud. "Remember, we're looking for the blue #1, not our old red ones."
Mark turned around and saw a dark-haired figure in a blue numbered shirt walking towards them. "Speak of the Eagle, here he comes."
Ace growled something incoherent. "I wouldn't call him an Eagle if you paid me to."
The three Eagles leapt up into a tree, watching as Hunter walked by beneath them, happily whistling "When the Ants Go Marching."
Ken's hands curled into fists. Ace held him back. "Whoa, there, Ken. We'll get him for that later. Let's tail him."
They followed Hunter down a deserted street, an oppurtune moment. Suddenly Hunter stopped dead in his tracks as he heard a lingering whistled tune, a haunting song of impending events, done in a three-part harmony.
"Who is it?"
"God, I love it when they say that."
Hunter whipped around, hearing the voice. "Who's there?"
The wind blew around him. Silence. Then the voice came again.
"Aru toki wa itsutsu, aru toki wa hitotsu; Jittai wo misezu ni shinobiyoru shiroi kage..."
Hunter blinked. "What?"
Three white shadows pounced on him, pinning him down. Hunter could not fight off the three people who held him down; they were three times his own strength.
"Who are you?"
Ace grinned from behind his blue visor. "Sometimes five, Sometimes one..."
"In this case, three..." Mark threw in for good measure.
Ken's lips curled into a satisfied smile. "The white shadow that moves unseen..."
Part 7. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on April 23, 1997.
Way, way out in a barren, deserted land, three Phoenixes formed a triangle on the ground, a fire burning in the center of the confinement, five sets of triplets surrounding another bunch of their mirrors, tied up together.
"Exactly what is the meaning of this?" Hunter asked angrily. "Who are you people?"
The Red, Blue and Black teams all remained silent, the Condors especially loving every bit of it. Jason wanted to burst right out laughing when he saw Thax quiver. Kelly remained pretty calm throughout, but Ollie and Mickey couldn't stop wriggling.
"Oh stop wriggling, you two," Ace barked. "We're your predecessors. I'm Ace, from Turner's G-Force, 1986." Turning to the Blue team, he introduced the rest of his troop. "Dirk, Aggie, P.Wee and Hooty."
Mark stepped forward, though with lesser authority. "And I'm Mark, from Sandy Frank's Battle of the Planets, 1978. This is Jason, Princess, Keyop and Tiny."
The sinister Black team them moved forward, like shadows of death, Ken's voice cutting the air. "I'm Ken Washio, the original Eagle. Tatsunoko's Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman, 1972. Joe Asakura, Jun, Jinpei and Ryu Nakanishi." His mouth curved into a small grin. "You came from us."
"You mean we're fourth-generation copies?" Ollie cried out. "We're not original?"
Jun grinned wickedly, which very much surprised her identical Kelly. "With Saban, nothing is original, Ollie."
"So what do you want with us?" Joe asked. And suddenly, in the air, his voice resonated. "I had to try and maybe draw out the interrogation while I came up with an escape plan. Hunter's probably working on something already, but it's still 15 againt five, and although I loved a good challenge, these guys look pretty good themselves. Tackling them would be -"
"SHUT UP!!!!!" 15 voices screamed. Thax's jaw dropped.
The Eagles were having a hard time then to restrain the Condors. Ken didn't take as much effort as Mark or Ace, the former having the toughest time of all.
"Lemme at 'im!" Dirk screamed. "I'll run his tongue over with the G2!! Lemme go, Ace!!"
"Dirk, will you control yourself? We're supposed to be dealing wiht them, not randomly executing them!"
Ken gripped harder on Joe's arm. "Joe, you'll blow a circuit if you keep this up. Calm down and we'll settle this." Joe calmed, but even the ever-calm Ken could feel the heat radiating from him.
Hearing Ken calmed Jason some as well, but he continued to simmer softly.
Thax blinked several times. "You... you all heard that?"
15 voices boomed again. "Of course you DOLT!"
Ollie rolled his eyes. "We've been hearing you too, nutzo. And I quote : 'I will have to remain a ghost'. How's that?"
"That... that was *personal*! None of you were supposed to hear that!" Thax sputtered.
"Well we heard it anyway, you sissy," Mickey piped up.
"May I say something here?" Hunter voiced almost timidly.
His four Riders turned on him. "NO!"
"Already Joe's a sentimental confessor, we've got you doing not only deadpan narrations but also deadpan acting," Kelly noted. She then smiled. "No offence, though, Hunter."
Hunter could only sigh. "Well, it wasn't all my idea, okay? You think I like my scripts? I'm just about as convincing as David Carradine doing Kwai Chang Caine!"
The three predecessor teams stood in complete silence, eyes wide.
"Well hell," Joe commented, somewhat pleased.
Aggie smiled. "They can be helped, Ken. That's a good sign already."
Ken had a tiny smile on his face, but it didn't say very much about what he was actually thinking.
"So what do we do now?" Tiny wondered aloud. "'Cause I'm getting kinda hungry..."
"You're always getting kinda hungry," Ace's entire Blue team retorted.
Mickey couldn't stop staring. "Hey, Hunter, where'd these guys learn how to speak together at the same time?"
Hunter shrugged. He had no idea.
Ace shook his head wearily. "Sorry. Old Turner habit."
"Damn I wish we could cut that out," Hooty complained.
"We can't," the other four responded. After a second they all slapped themselves.
Ken nodded. "Yeah. I got a plan."
Part 8. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on April 28, 1997.
The others simply stared, not knowing whether he was kidding or not.
"You're serious, Ken?"
He nodded. "Very much so, Hooty. We've done it before, we can do it again."
Mark rolled his eyes. "For God's sake, Ken, they're Saban! We're not miracle-workers here, you know."
Aggie stepped forward. "Yes, but for one, we've got three of us each, and I'm sure three would be able to do something to just one of them."
Joe grinned. "Yeah... 'something'."
And Thax very visibly trembled.
Ken shrugged. "Agreed then. Owls and Swallows, gran your counterparts and take the Frank ship. Condors, take Thax over there and take up the Turner ship. Swans and Eagles, follow me."
The Owls quickly vanished with Ollie as did the Swallows with Mickey, while Joe did the honors of hoisting Thax over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and taking him aboard the ship. Kelly walked calmly ahead of the Swans, while Hunter was reluctantly moving along with the Eagles.
Princess took a glance at the Turner ship, then turned to Ken. "Why'd you let the Condors go on their own."
"Joe'll behave, Prin. Don't worry," he repleid flatly. "As long as I keep tabs on him, he'll behave."
Mark nodded. "Jason's okay. He's stubborn, he's bad-tempered, but he can work some wonders. He could be alot worse, you know."
"Then what about D -"
"I don't *want* to know what Dirk does!" Ace burst. "I don't want to see, I don't want to hear, I don't want to have to explain anything to Brighthead when we get back, okay??"
Aggie slipped her arm across his shoulders, leaning close to him. "Okay, Ace, okay. Just try to stay cool."
Kelly dipped a little closer. "Say, um... those two look kinda cozy, don't they?"
Ace and Aggie looked up to see Ken and Jun walking very close together, arms about each other.
They stared for a little while, then replied, "Yeah. They're engaged." And for the first time, Ace felt something when he said that. He blushed.
Kelly gaped. "Really? You mean they got together?"
Mark laughed. "Actually the rest of them have been trying to push them together for a long time. Me and Prin... um... we're just starting out. I think."
And Prin smiled as she heard him say it.
"And you two?" she asked, referring to the Turner pair.
The color on Ace's cheeks deepened. "We're.... we're.... getting to it."
Aggie grinned. "The fact is, you should be pursuing you-know-who over there, for the sake of reputation, of course."
Ken looked back at them, glaring. "Girls, save that for later, please."
Hunter finally whipped around to face his captors, eyes on fire. "Look, if we could talk about this we could come to an understanding!"
Ace saw Mark's fists clench tight, tighter than he'd ever seen before. He slipped a glance to Ken, who saw the exact same thing and was probably wondering the exact same thing he was : what in hell....
Mark walked past them all, moving up slowly behind Hunter, and with a hard look upon his face, he pulled his leg back and let fly a good upright kick to his behind, sending him at least three feet off the ground.
Ace laughed into his hands until he fell over, until his sides ached, until breathing became painful for him, just as Ken came up to Mark and patted his shoulder firmly. "Nice work, Mark. I had no idea you had it in you."
Mark smiled, but it wasn't like any smile he'd ever given. "I'm not through yet."
And Mark kicked Hunter all the way into the Phoenix and into the bridge, each motion of the leg bringing a yelp from the helpless captain of the Eagle Riders.
Jason had seen Mark's unique outburst and he couldn't help but grin. It looked absolutely wrong but absolutely rihgt at the same time. "Way to go, Mark," he said.
"Glad I'm not on that ship," Dirk noted as he started up the Phoenix. "I hate it when my ears bleed."
Joe took the seat right across Thax, smiling like a cherub gone bad. "Make a case file outta this, Thax, and you won't be able to figure out whose bird missile hit you first, capish?"
Jason glanced at Dirk, and quite frankly said, "I like this guy."
What started out to be a real proper interrogation for the Owls and the Swallows turned into the inevitable : nothing. In the first place, Ollie and Mickey didn't have any seriously crippling problems, just the scripting for them was pretty bad. They'd ended up discussing dinner and games.
"Y'know, I know a great place that serves the best cheese-fries in the world," Ryu informed. "What say the rest of you?"
The Owls nodded. "We're in!" Ollie was no exception.
"And hey, later, we could go to this place I know that has the best seafood," Ollie offered. "You guys like seafood?"
Hooty roared with laughter. "You kidding? We're fishermens' boys! We live on seafood!"
Jinpei sighed and plopped into his seat. "Always food. Nothing new ever happens with the Owls."
Mickey snorted. "Tell me 'bout it." Something caught his eye. "Say, those are neat clackers you guys got there. Can I see 'em?"
P.Wee offered his. "Sure, if you let me see that jai-alai thing of yours."
Mickey's brow creased. "What's with him?"
Jinpei shrugged. "Long story. Didja know that jai-alai was banned in almost every country because it was so dangerous?"
And their chatter continued from there, carrying on to things that would cause pandemonium for the Eagles if allowed to happen.
Part 9. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on April 29, 1997.
"Pop quiz, Hunter," Mark began. "What is it that trails down from your skull to your pelvic bone?"
Hunter snorted. "You probably think I'm stupid or something."
Ace leaned back in his seat. "You have no idea how tempted I am..."
Mark had ignored the exchange. "What's the answer, Hunter?"
He shrugged. "The backbone."
Ken smiled. "Oh, good. You know what it is?"
"Of course I do!" Hunter glared at them, but it fell very far off the mark of what was original. "Do you take me for an idiot or something?"
Sighing, Ace said, "Can I say it? Please?"
Mark and Ken nodded.
He stood from his seat, approached Hunter so close that their faces were only inches apart. Then in a low voice, he said, "YES."
"What exactly was the purpose of the backbone question anyway?" Hunter voiced, a little more nervous now than before. "I know what it is."
"You do?" the three Eagles chorused.
Three voices with equal Eagle authority boomed. "THEN GO GET ONE, MORON!"
Hunter fell off the chair.
"But Hunter's so... so.. dim!"
Prin giggled, but said nothing to it.
"Well, yes, of course he's a little dim now, but he'll grow onto it," Aggie told Kelly. "Ace did. Eventually."
Jun sighed. "At least he didn't slap you after the woman-eating plant issue." Turning to Kelly, she then said, "You didn't even get slapped when you kept insisting Joe was alive. I got all the beating."
"Then why on earth are you engaged to him now?"
"That's because I love him, silly. Now that we've retired nothing can bother us." She held out her left hand to show a little sparkly diamond there. "What say you girls?"
Prin sighed. "I'm going to start hinting big time."
Aggie nodded. "In time you're going to find that dark-haired captain of yours very attractive, and you're going to have to do something about that."
Kelly shook her head. "He's not gonna like it."
Jun grinned wickedly. "That's the best part of it."
The four girls giggled together, like little schoolgirls at recess. In the next room, Ace, Ken and Mark grew nervous of what the girls were up to.
"Listen, Thax," Jason started. "Nothing personal, but we Condors have a sort of a reputation to keep up."
Dirk flung a shuriken towards Thax's seat wedging itself right next to his ear. "Y'see, we're the guys who give the captain a hard time. We bother him, we question him, we deck him if necessary. That's our job."
"We ying the yang around here," Joe finished.
"But I like Hunter!" he objected. "I care about him."
Jason shook his head. "Am I the only one who thinks it sounded a little weird right there?"
"I don't wanna know..." Dirk shook off the strange ideas he was beginning to see and continued. "It's not that we hate Ken, Ace or Mark, twit. We respect them, of course, but being the antagonist is a necessity."
"We ying the yang around here," Joe inserted. "It's a delicate balance. Without the rebel against the captain, the show will get very dull."
"Ace is nothing without me. Without me he won't get to occasionally lose his temper and beat me up. Without me he's got his job easy."
Thax listened gaping. "You can't possibly mean that he enjoys that?"
"They may no enjoy it, but believe me, they appreciate it," Joe answered.
_Joe, stop putting words into my mouth. Just handle him and spare him the bullshit_
The other three stared at Joe as he remained silent. He looked up. "Sorry. We all developed telepathy in Gatch F. Ken's just keeping tabs on me."
Jason shivered. "That's scary. I'd hate to have Zark in my head like that."
"Anyway, Thax," Dirk pushed on. "You gotta change. It's the only way to keep up appearances."
"And if I don't?" he challenged. "What'll you do to me, you maniacs?"
Joe shot Dirk a quick glance. Dirk hurried over to his console and pulled out a shoe-box that was buzzing with robotic activity within. A sparkle came to Jason's eyes.
"Whoa! You saved some of those?"
"Couldn't waste all the leftovers. They're easy to fix. Ace and I dealt with them."
Joe closed in on Thax, grinning. "Thax, really, you have some good points. You have some potential as a Condor. Really. But you need to toughen up a bit. So we're gonna give you a little test."
"You can't scare me! I won't talk!"
Dirk rolled his eyes. "Idiot, why do you keep thinking we're interrogating you? We've got other methods for that!"
"We wouldn't tell you about them, of course," Jason chimed as he reached into the shoebox ofr the first of the robotic ants from Katse's older attacks.
"I'm not afraid, you hear? I'm not afraid!!" he shouted. But slowly his resolve evaporated as his mirror images closed in together, whistling a rather threatening version of 'The Ants Go Marching In'.
Ken tensed abruptly.
Ken shook his head. "I'm okay. I just got a telepathic vibe from Joe."
Ace walked towards his seat. "What'd he say?"
"That he's having the time of his life."
Ace's mouth fell open as Mark let out a quick gasp. Ken's eyes darkened.
"That's... that's... a good thing?"
Ken turned back to the monitors, maintaining the God Phoenix's course. "Just tell Hunter to pray for that friend of his, Mark."
Three days later....
Ace dreaded this moment. Ken had sent him of all people to go check on Thax and the Condors. Between Ken, Mark and himself, he'd lost the rock-paper-scissors game. I shoulda put out scissors...
He leapt onto the turret, the bubble closing around him and bringing him down. He held his breath as he surveyed the area.
A pile of used feather shurikens lay in one corner of the ship, the floor littered with bits and pieces of the robotic ants he and Dirk had tirelessly put together for future unknown use. There were little heaps of unnamed substance around Dirk's console, and Ace wonered if Thax had survived his retraining.
The door to the bridge opened, and Joe, Jason and Dirk stepped in. "Hey, Ace!" they greeted warmly.
"Checking up on us, hey, buddy?" Dirk asked, smiling.
"Umm.... yeah. Where's Thax?"
A voice came from nowhere, and Ace tried not to roll his eyes.
"They had taught me so much, and yet I was doubtful. Could I really live up to their expectations? They were asking for so much..."
All three Condors whacked Thax upside the head. "I thought I told you to -!"
"Sorry, sorry... I didn't mean to -"
Dirk whacked him again. "Geez, don't be such a pansy!"
Joe eased him. "S'okay, Thax. Just work on it. You'll get the hang of it."
He nodded quickly. "I will, Joe. Really."
Jason's turn to whack him again. "Don't sound like such a sap! If anyone questions you and you don't like it, don't apologize, dammit!"
"The phrase is, 'Bite me', remember?" Dirk instructed.
Amidst all this, Ace felt panic welling up inside him. Ohmigod, we forgot to warn Hunter...
"And when Hunter's being an idiot," he heard Jason say, "*Tell* him he's an idiot. Antagonize him. It's healthy."
Joe stepped away from them, coming towards Ace. "So how'd the Eagle briefing go?"
"Joe, what have you guys been doing?" he asked just below a whisper. "You three were about to murder this guy into the next century and now you're so chummy?"
Thax turned to Ace. "Trust me, Ace, I'll reform. And if there's anything you forgot to teach Hunter, I'll make sure I'll fix it." He proceeded to leave the Phoenix to rejoin the other Eagle Riders.
"Just give him a good whack on the head," Dirk said as a farewell. "Usually fixes everything."
Ace glared at Dirk, but it had no affect. He was too busy enjoying himself.
Slowly they all left to meet up with their own teams. The Black team were all assembled, as were the Red and Blue, but there was still the matter of the Eagle Riders to speak of.
"PINK?" Hunter yelped. "PINK? Why are we the Pink team?"
"Because," Ryu answered, "You guys were sanitized into a sweet-sugary pulp that everyhitng is meaningless."
The Black team clapped their hands in applause. Joe smiled broadly. "Couldn't have said it better myself, bud."
Mickey griped. "How come you guys get to wear red?"
Prin had a good answer. "Well, no one died on our show. We wear red to signify the lacking of blood in it."
"So why are you blue, then?" Thax asked sharply, a very Condor-ish edge to it.
"Well, we were - shall we say- pretty true blue to the original storylines depsite our scripting problems," P.Wee answered. He received no further argument.
"For what reason, then, are you the Black team?" Hunter asked the Black team's captain.
Ken glared down at him. "Because, Hunter, everything begins with Black and white..."
Ken's bracelet chimed, and he excused himself to deal with it.
Part 10. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on May 3, 1997. In collaboration with Sarah C. and Falcon-chan.
"Guys, we have a situation," Ken began seriously. "We've just picked up a giant mecha heading for Tatsunoko Studios in Japan."
Ken shook his head. "None of the above. No identification as yet. We'll have to head out and go after it. I want as much firepower on our side as possible in case it turns out to be hostile."
Joe sighed. "Ken, if they weren't hostile we'd be out of our jobs, y'understand?"
Ken shot a glance at Joe's remark, but instead of scowling, there was a tiny smile, and a look of understanding.
Thax saw this and it blew him away. So Joe was right! It does balance things out! Suddenly he smiled himself.
"What're you grinning about, Joe?" Kelly asked him.
"I just realized that I was having internal thoughts, and they stayed in! They didn't come out! I'm not voicing-over anymore!"
The fifteen predecessors clapped their hands in a slow, sarcastic manner. "Wonderful, Thax." "Bravo." "Do we have to kiss you or something now?"
Something struck Mark right then, and he quickly interjected. "Ken, I think we forgot to warn Hunter about -"
"We have no time, Mark!" Ken barked. "The Eagle Riders will just have to work things out as they go along. Call it a learning experience."
Tiny's jaw dropped. "Y'mean they're comin' with us?"
"I said I needed all the firepower we can finagle, and this is it. Let's go!"
The Black, Red and Blue teams nodded and threw their classic salutes, accompanied with the calls of "Roger!"
The Pink team watched the spectacle in slight bewilderment. "What was that? Why that response?"
"It's called tradition, Hunter," Ace called back as he ran off with his team. "Learn to respect that."
With shared shrugs, the Pink team headed off to find their Ultra Eagle, affectionately nicknamed by the other teams as the GatchaRooster.
Once Hunter had settled in his chair, he called out to Joe in his usual deadpan manner. "Joe! Personnel report!"
Thax sucked in a deep breath. Slowly, the attitude leaked in, the words formed. "Hunter, if you would care to take a quick look around, there are FIVE of us. There are *always* FIVE of us. If you can't take the time to observe that, then how are you going to keep up with the battle, huh?"
Hunter was struck by the words. He turned around, startled. "Are you really Joe Thax? What'd they do to you?"
"Improved me." And an unmistakable Condor grin spread across his face, chilling Hunter to the core.
Ken's image and voice suddenly appeared on the Ultra Eagle's oversized main screen. "Hunter, what in blazes are you doing? Skip the check ups! Nothing changes, understand?"
The screen split and Mark appeared on one side. It split again and yet another mirror appeared, Ace. "It certainly is taking a while to get that Rooster in the air, isn't it, Hunter?" Ace questioned harshly. Behind him, Dirk, Hooty and P.Wee began to crow, and he found it hard to keep a straight face. "Get up here already!"
"Will you three knock it off?" And Ace vanished from the screen.
Mark had a quiet smile on his face, but it quickly hardened. "Obviously you didn't absorb what we told you very well, Hunter. You act on impulse and guts, not on your script. That's the rule from now on. Unless you've forgotten what it feels like to have my foot near your rear."
Hunter shook his head quickly. "N-n-no. Okay, Ollie. Take her up. Now."
As the ship ascended, Hunter risked a look over his shoulder at Joe Thax, and realized that his life has been altered beyond belief.
I'm a dead man...
Now with all four ships in the air, Ken began a briefing from the God Phoenix. "Well, we have a visual on it. I'm sending over to you all now. It appears to be hostile, and it looks like... we can't actually figure it out but it looks like a huge golf ball."
Jason grinned. "Couldn't be much different from the bowling ball before."
Ken's brow creased. "It's got a pair of big round black ears attached to it."
They all momentarily received the visuals. The American teams all fell silent. It made even Joe nervous. "What is it, you guys?"
The Owls swallowed hard as the Swallows instinctively went to their Eagles. The Condors all wore grim expressions as the Swans held their breaths.
For once, Hunter had something useful to say. "That's not just a golf ball with ears."
Ace blinked rapidly; born in 1986, he had a pretty good idea of what it was.
"It's Epcot Center. Epcot Center," he breathed.
Ollie growled. "I always thought there was something suspicious about that thing."
Prin chimed in. "If it's Epcot Center, then... then it's...."
Twenty voices. "AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!"
Ace stood up.
Kelly spoke up. "I have it in sight. It looks like it's heading towards Japan."
Now Joe tensed. "Where in Japan?"
"Tatsunoko Studios. The copyright building."
Ken swallowed. "Shimatta..."
Dirk's eyes went wide. "You mean they're out to steal the rights again?"
"What else could they want?" Hooty shot back.
"If they get a hold of the Gatchaman rights God only knows what they'll do to us," Jinpei voiced. "Ken-aniki, we gotta stop 'em!"
Ken nodded. "All ships full power! We're heading for Tatsunoko Studios!"
Still only fourteen voices echoed, "Roger!"
Hunter looked back at his team. "Do we have to?"
They shrugged, except Thax. "Unless you want Mark to come over and kick your can again."
Quickly, as though with practiced ease, the Eagle Riders chorused as slightly off-key, "Roger!"
The predecessors shrugged. "It's a start."
And they closed in on Tatsunoko Studios... and the Disney mecha.
Part 11. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on May 4, 1997.
The God Phoenix, the other two Phoenixes and the Ultra Eagle arrived at the scene in a matter of minutes, although the Ultra Eagle lagged a bit.
"Blast it! Is this ship on cruise mode or something?" Hunter complained. "Those guys are getting ahead of us!"
"I have locked in full speed," Auto bleeped. And suddenly Hunter lost it and kicked the contraption aside, setting the ship for Manual Control. Auto flew to the back of the bridge, bleeping and blooping before shorting out.
"Shut up, you tin can."
Briefly, Ace appeared on the main screen in one corner. "Now that's what I wanted to hear. You're getting there, Hunter."
Hunter smiled, and somewhere in the back, Thax was pretty relieved himself.
They caught up with the Epcot Mech, and for some reason they couldn't help but giggle at the very least at the appearence of the thing. It was indeed an oversized version of the Epcot Center, only with Mickey Mouse ears attached to it. Quick observation revealed that what should have been the monorail track on the real Epcot was now a ring of laser cannons, and that alone indicated pure hostility, despite what the silly company stood for.
"They couldn't possible want to destroy us if we attack," Prin reasoned. "It'll be dead against their own policy."
"People get desperate when they want something badly enough," Mark interjected. "They could kill, off-screen or not."
Dirk's voice came in. "Yeah, and we'll all bleed invisible blood."
Ken commed to the entire group. "They haven't spotted us yet, so we'll tail them. If we can draw them away from public area, then we'll engage."
Hooty looked up, and saw that the Epcot Mech had turned around, heading towards them now. "Ken, I think they know we're here."
"We must've been flying in too close a cluster," Joe growled. "We left too big a radar impression."
"Either that or the GatchaRooster crowed and they heard," Jason said drily.
Giggles and snickers trickled around, leaving the Eagle Riders embarrassed and slightly upset. Until Ollie spoke up. "Hey, this is *my* baby, and it flies as good as I want her to! Sure she's ugly, but she's got charm!"
The laughter subsided, and they nodded in complete respect. The Black team had taken that ship before anyway; they knew just what it felt like.
"Okay, we'll lead that mech away from the area," Ace said. "We'll split and attack from different sides."
"Sounds good to me," Tiny said, and pulled the Phoenix out of formation. TheGod Phoenix and the Ultra Eagle did so too, leaving the Epcot Mech to pursue the Blue team.
Aggie gave a quick observation report. "They're heavily armed, that's for sure. Those laser canons are straight out of the Star Blazers live-action remake and we know what kind of damage those can do."
Joe appeared on their main screen. "That's a lot of firepower. One good thing abuot having the GatchaRooster with us is that they've got an inexhaustible supply of Bird Missiles. We'll be needing those."
P.Wee piped up from the back. "Hey, those ears aren't just ears. There seems to be a speaker system installed in them."
"Speaker system?" the other four echoed together. Catching themselves, they slapped themselves with the heels of their hands, also simultaneously.
Joe onscreen rolled his eyes. "How talented."
Ryu's voice. "We're in open area now. Commence attack, Ken?"
Ken nodded. "All right. All teams begin attack sequence now. Bird Missiles, Hasshin!"
The four ships turned about and headed towards the Epcot Mech, each Condor at his station. They each let loose a stream of Bird Missiles, the Ultra Eagle providing more firepower than the other three. Unfortunately, all their missiles made not a dent in the mech.
"That's not a good sign," Mickey cried out nervously. "We gotta do something!"
"Wait! I'm getting some kind of activity from the mech!" Jun reported. "Power surge!"
Mark tensed. "What? Laser blast?"
"I don't know. I'm not getting anything," Prin voiced.
Suddenly the air rumbled, and P.Wee had been right about the speakers. With all four ships in range, the huge ears blasted them with the loudest and most annoying rendition of 'It's a Small World'.
Twenty screams bounced around, but went unheard, drowned out by the children's annoying voices. The ships cracked and creaked with the strain on their hulls.
The four Eagles managed to push through. "Fire Bird Missiles!"
Again the missiles were launched, now towards the ears, but they exploded with the vibrations before making target.
"Kuso!" Joe hollered. "They're not working!"
"I'm not dying like this!" Dirk screamed. "Not against Disney!"
"What about Firebird?" Jun asked.
Ace, Mark and Ken said no. "The strain would more likely blow us apart than have us make target," Ace reasoned. "There's got to be something else!"
Jinpei crouched under his console, but it didn't drown out the song. "Neechan, I swear I'll never ask to go to an amusemnet park anywhere EVER!"
Extensive damages were further reported. Things didn't look good.
And then the music stopped, followed by twin explosions, and the call of a Firebird.
Ken pried himself out of his seat and looked up. Yes, it was indeed a Firebird. But all four ships were present. He gasped. "It can't be...."
Slowly the Firebird disintergrated, and as the ship became clear, a different tune rang through the air.
"Soar into the light
"Never say die...
"Try with all your might
"Let's Fly... high..."
Their screens blinked on, and a team of five, familiar yet different, peered at them.
The Black teams' jaws all fell loose. "You!"
Ken-94 smiled winsomely. "We heard of what you guys were up to. We thought we'd lend you a hand."
"Wow... we haven't seen the Remake team yet!" Kelly said excitedly.
Jun-94 came close to the screen, and the Swans kept a watchful eye on their respective Eagles just in case. "Hope you don't mind, of course."
"No way!" the Owls and Swallows answered, drooling. The respective Swans bopped them all on their heads.
Ken grinned, as did the other Eagles. "All right then, let's finish this job!"
Nineteen plus another five voices. "Roger!"
Hunter settled in, now more familiar with the way things should work. Thax was enjoying his new self, and couldn't wait to zing Hunter a little more. The little feeb needs it, he thought to himself. Himself.
Mark's voice now. "Right. Looks like it's going to be a four-way strike now. All ships ready for Fiery Phoenix!"
Hustling and bustling went around. The Ultra Eagle got into mode, the shields coming up around the bridge. The God Phoenix was in position, just as the 94-ship moved out of range.
"All teams stand by!" Hunter called.
A simultaneous signal.
"Kagaku Nimpo Hinotori!"
".... do we have a term for it?" "JUST GO, HUNTER!!"
Four flashes of light, four cries of the Firebird, four blazing clouds of flame. They turned, sped towards the Epcot Mech, and with the echoes of screams aboard the ship, each Firebird tore a neat hole on the sides of the mech, setting it on fire. Each Firebird entered and exited, flying away and out of range.
Aboard the 94-Phoenix, Ken-94 gave his order. "Joe, fire the missile!"
Joe-94 snickered. "With pleasure."
He fired, and that signed the contract. The Epcot Mech blasted to pieces of burning debris, landing about here and there, just as the four ships reverted out of their Firebird sequences to see the destruction.
"YES!!" Twenty voices screamed happily.
"Good work, guys!" Ken called out to all five ships now. The familiar satisfaction of every mission leaked into the air, at least for the Black, Red and Blue teams. The Eagle Riders had just experienced a real mission : a true life-threatening situation, and they were thankful for the experience.
The 94-Phoenix flew off, barrel-rolling as it did. For one last time the images of Gatchaman-94 appeared before them, and they said nothing much to them, other than the throw of smart salutes and quick smiles.
"Thank you," Ken told them, and they acknowledged. They vanished into the sun.
"So, Eagle Riders, how do you feel now?" Joe asked.
"Better than ever, I guess," Hunter offered. "I guess we learned something from this."
"Real life's tough."
The older teams exploded in laughter, and slowly they separated, each ship heading back to its own realm, hoping to meet again someday.
Conclusion. Posted to the Gatchaman Mailing List on May 16, 1997. In collaboration with Falcon-chan.
Jason lay back in his trailer as he reached for the day's paper again. A wide grin spread across his face for the umpteenth time, the same number of times he'd looked at that newspaper. The headlines were far too funny:
"U.F.O Crashes in Mountains. Disney Refuses to Comment."
"Saban Studios Mysteriously Bursts Into Flames. Witnesses Claim the Sighting of a Giant Rooster in the Sky."
The phone rang, and lazily Jason reached for it. "Yeah?"
"Dirk, you fool. Didja see the paper?"
Jason grinned again. "Aw yeah. Mark called me up and insisted that I go get the paper. You know I'm not the morning sorta guy."
"Ace and the others are making huge banner-copies for Ace to take up into the sky with his plane. They've gone bonkers, if you ask me. You heard from Joe?"
"Nah. Joe's the best man at Ken and Jun's wedding. They're all someplace right now. It's just your team and mine around here now."
Dirk sniggered on the other end. "And any word from our student?"
"Y'mean Thax? Nope. Not yet."
"He's happy, you think?"
"Oh, he should be. If he's anything like you, me or Joe, he's happy." Jason gave a laugh as he flung a feather shuriken at Mickey Mouse's nose. "I think it's Hunter who's not happy."
Mark had laughed himself to bits when Ace had flown in through his realm with the banner-sized copy of the news headlines tailing behind his Cessna. So had the rest of his team. They'd left him alone at his airfield now, Prin joining Aggie and Kelly for a little shopping trip while the three Swallows had decided to hike up the hills a bit. All Mark hoped for was that none of them brought back animals. Again.
As he passed his workdesk, he slapped on the answering machine to see if he had nay messages. There were 6.
*beep* "Mark. Jason. Thanks for the news headlines, pal. Sure as hell made my day. You wonderin' what's up with the Eagle Riders? Call me when you feel like it. But then again, I may not bother to answer anyway."
Mark sighed. Typical.
*beep* "Mark, it's... it's Hunter. Listen, I dunno what it was the Condors did to Joe.. Thax, I mean... but I think he's gone nuts... He won't listen to me... I think he sees me as a little floor rug meant to be stepped on... I.. ee! Gotta go!"
"Oh, brother," Mark griped. "I wonder if Ace is getting any of this..."
*beep* "Mark, it's Ace. You are not going to believe what Hunter's been leaving on my answering machine. I've got 5 messages from him, each one a gripe about Thax. And I think there's another one coming in rihgt now. Mark, if you don't go over there and kick him, I swear I'll do it myself."
"So he is." Mark flopped into his sofa and settled down for a book while the answering machine played on.
*beep* "Mark, it's Hunter again. Ace called me to tell me not to be such a twit. Tell me he's kidding! It's not my fault! It's Joe's! Thax's, that is. I mean, the Condors did that! I've got nothing to do with.... eee! Gotta go again!"
Mark was starting to get impatient. His fingers leafed through the book furiously.
*beep* "That's 10 messages today, Mark! TEN! I'm gonna go over there right now. I'm not gonna wait for you. If that sorry little Eagle-wannabe can't handle a little Condor-ism, he may as well learn to handle a foot up his ass. Later."
"Thank you, Ace. I wasn't looking forward to something like that," Mark said to no one in particular. "You have fun."
*beep* "Mark, Hunter again. I think Ace is here. He'll take care of this. He'll show Joe... Thax, I mean.... that he can't question and push the team captain around. He'll... hey, Ace, what're doing? Joe's over there... Ace? Ace, what are you... [PUNT] EEYOOWW!!... [PUNT] OOWWW!!... [PUNT] EEYYAA!!.. [click]"
Mark threw the book at the answering machine. "Dammit, Ace! Whoever asked you to have *that* much fun?"
History has it going something like this:
For the Kagaku NinjaTai, Ken and Jun's marriage has started something very wonderful for them. Joe, Jinpei and Ryu look to be soon-to-be uncles with Little Ken along the way. Ryu's boating business is doing well, though Jinpei is now worked to the bone due to Jun's 'bun in the oven'. Ken's airfield is building nicely, as is the renovation of his home ("Well, it's gonna have to house three Washios now, y'know."). Nambu offered Ken a very generous loan, since the illustrous team leader was still in financial tightspots. Joe's cybernetic abilities leave him in charge of the renovations, and considering that he's happy with the job, he's willing to do a little more of it. However, Ken is steadily getting weary of pregnant Jun's fussiness and demands, hoping that it's only until the baby's born.
The 1972 G-Force team are sitting quietly now, especially since Keyop's speech problem has been fixed although he now speaks with a slight stutter and sometimes sounds demeaningly like Daffy Duck ("Could've been worse... could've been Donald Duck." "Shut up, Jason."). Mark and Princess are enjoying a loving relationship and hope to be engaged soon. Tiny has sold his boathouse to open a small but successful Space Burger Ranch, and he's perfectly happy with that. Jason is still racing very regularly, considering that he has no cybernetic abilities to make it seem unfair, and is currently the local champion of the circuit. Meanwhile, Chief Anderson has begun a strange quest of identity to find out if his first name is really Chief.
The 1986 G-Force team are doing just as well. Currently, Ace has finally got his wish: he has come down with a severe but temporary case of laryngitis. He hasn't spoken for nearly a week now, and he's not due to for another two. He's perfectly happy with that, though. Aggie is still pressing him into a serious relationship, and is winning since he's unable to talk back to her. Hooty's decided to join up on Ace's airfield, needing badly for something to fly all the time. Aside from that he's still into fishing and is still the best seafood cook on the block. P.Wee is set on convincing the world that he is in no way related to PeeWee Herman, and is working on a way to get his voice to crack. Dirk is still racing, but has backed down a bit since caught racing in the same race as Jason ("I thought you'd be racing there!" "No, I thought *you* were racing there!"). Both were disqualified for double entry ("Your fault, idiot." "Marmot." "Twit."). Now he runs a motor shop that deals with only the best cars. His latest project is remodifying a Nissan Skyline GT-R.
And as for the Eagle Riders....
The Eagle Riders are in a slightly confused state. Kelly has divided her time between writing articles about the fabrications on their show and pursuing Hunter, who is apparently just as frightened of a relationship as he is of Joe Thax. Mickey and Ollie basically have no trouble adapting themselves, although occasionally Ollie is fully inclined to give Auto a good kick in the pants. Joe Thax has taken up more time to devote to further hardening himself. He hasn't spoken narratively ever since the assignment with the other three teams. Because there is so little in his life thanks to Saban's snipping, he hasn't decided what it is he wants to do yet. Hunter, however, is going to great lengths to find out if he could arrange a name change, and has a phone bill miles high thanks to his very frequent, very urgent, but mostly ignored calls to his other three counterparts ("Ken? Ace? Mark? Help me..."). He is currently under strict medication for dillusion and depression.
Well, according to history, at the very least.