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Twas the Blight Before Christmas by Ennien
Twas the Blight Before Christmas by Ennien
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- Text Size + (Kathleen Coventry)

Twas the Blight Before Christmas
A Gatchaman fanfic by Ennien Ashbrook

From the private journals of Cirean Mharagorm:

It was certainly the most unusual Christmas I'd ever had, I'll give it that.  I can't say I was the least bit disappointed.

I was at home, listening to our radio station, when the call came through.  We had been making up some Christmas parodies and one had proven to be a hit.  I cannot take full credit for the song, however -- it was inspired by my lunatic bed-friend.

"In my office there's a man named Melvin..

He pretends that I am Murphy Brown

He'll say 'Are you ready?' I'll say 'Whoa, man!

But wait until the wife is out of town'

Later on... if you wanna

We can dress like Madonna

We'll wear some eye shades, and join the parade

Walkin' 'round in women's underwear"

I must admit, I laughed pretty hard.  So did David, the other deejay, but then he laughs at nearly everything.

I had been expecting the call, since I had been fiddling around with my home system, expecting to get a little overtime in.  Little did I realise how *much* overtime I was in for...

From the private, illegible journals of Berg Katze:

How it got there in the first place was actually pretty simple. Gatchaman had invaded one of our bases, and in their wake left a single diskette marked ".Gifs".  This was designed to entice one of our hormone-headed lowlies into loading it and trying to view it. Obviously, it worked, and now the bloody virus has spread throughout Galactor, courtesy of our nexus mainframe.

Kai has often pointed out the flaws in having all of our systems linked into one central computer, for this very reason:  Get a virus in one, and it spreads to all.  Maybe now, Sosai will *listen* to her...

Not that I was terribly impressed this evening, when we summoned her.

She was wearing a black velveteen catsuit, black suede lace-up thigh boots, black raw-silk gloves (with funny-looking fingers), and a black trenchcoat.  A black leather belt with pouches and an intricate buckle hung about her hips.  Black wraparound sunglasses hung on her neck, from black idiot-strings.  She wore a smug smile, in black lipstick.

While Sosai glared at her, I tried to melt into the shadows.  It didn't work.


"No shit, Sosai."


"No problem, Daddio," she says smugly, donning her sunglasses, "CompuMinx is on ze job!"

A swirl of her coat, and she is out the door.  I turned to follow her.


From the private journals of Cirean Mharagorm:

After a thorough chewing-out, Berg stalked out and bore down on me, glowering enough to melt stone.  I was playing with one of the infected disks as he approached.  However, since I was using my personal home-jobby, it looked like I was simply drumming my fingers against my legs.

"What the hell was *that* all about??" he yelled.  I gazed up at him through the data.  He looks rather funny when viewed through ASCII characters...

"What was what all about?"

"This..!" he indicated my clothes, "And this "compuminx" nonsense!"

"'Tisn't nonsense, O flare of my corona.  'Tis my line of work. Or was, until Galactor got me."

"Quit twiddling your thumbs while I'm shouting at you!"

"I'm typing, not twiddling.  There's a difference.  The involvment of additional digits is an indicator."

He stared at my hands for a moment.  "Typing?"

I took off my shades and offered them to him.  He takes them gingerly, then puts them on.  I shall state here, for the first and only time, that Berg Katze in mask and cheaters is a truly laughable sight.  It was made even more laughable as the expression of amazement caused his jaw to drop slowly open.

"Wh.. what is this?" he asked finally.

"That's one of your infected disks.  I'm trying to locate the virus coding."

"This is a computer?"

"No, actually, that's a monitor.  XVGA, if you're interested."

He took off the sunglasses and stared at them in wonder.  Then he noticed that the shades-retention device goes down my bra.  He starts to follow it, then catches himself.  He's so cute when he blushes..

"Remember my neutrino patches?" I asked him.  He cringed and nodded.  "Same principle."

"I don't understand."

I showed him my belt, with its floppy drive, hard card and miniature motherboard.  Then I showed him the sensors in my gloves, and the hardware in the shades.

"That's amazing.." he breathed.

"Not really.  Anybody can cannabalize a laptop and a Virtual Reality set."

"And it's powered the same way as your neutrino patches?"

I nodded, and showed him the patches in the inside pocket of my coat, "For emergencies.  I can't power both."

"I gather you're wearing these for a reason?  To get the antidote from Gatchaman?  For that, you'd need to hit the ISO."

"And that, O cheese of my fondue, is why I need you."

From the private journals of Berg Katze:

"I still don't understand why *I* have to come along," I sulked. I wasn't happy about the virus, but I was even less happy about tangling one on one with the ISO.

"Because you're a better sneak than I.  Besides, you need to loosen up.  Sosai has your head twisted around about being male all the time.  I don't know why he bothered to make a gender-changer if he wants you to be male all the time."

"Men are better than women."

"Who says?"

"Sosai says.  Hell, this whole damn planet says."

"Tsk tsk..  Come with me.  I'll show you how much more fun it is to be female."

It wasn't the grin that scared me.  It was the wink.

From the private journals of Cirean Mharagorm:

Poor Berg.  She wasn't at all happy with me when we got caught breaking into the computer lab at ISO headquarters.  She was even less happy when she was recognised and a call placed to Director Nambu.  I, however, was unperturbed;  everything was working exactly as planned.

Director Nambu looked me up and down, recognition on his face. I smiled impishly.

"Hi, Kozy!" I chirruped.

He wasn't impressed.  "Artemis 666.  I never thought you'd stoop so low as to work for Galactor."

"Some things can't be helped, if ya know what I mean," I shrugged.   He stared at me.  I caught Berg's startled glance and hoped no one else did.  One secret out...

"Artemis 666??" went the flunkies.  The only nice thing about being sprung, I get the whole room's attention.

"Perhaps we'll finally discover how you pulled off your amazing hackeries, Artemis."

"Ooo, tit for tat!" I squealed as annoyingly as I could, "Perhaps we'll get to discover how you made your ninja team!  That's a fair trade, now isn't it?"

He glared at me, then sat down at his desk and began to fill out a little form.


"You just said it, Kozy.  Whassa matta, you gettin' Alzheimers?"

He glared at me again, "Your *real* name.."

"Ci-rean Mor-ag Mha-ra-gor'm," I singsonged.  He gazed at me stonily.  I batted my eyelashes at him.

"Uncooperative," he sighed, then turned to Berg, "Alright, we'll start with you and then resume with your friend.  We've seen you quite a lot."

"Seen but seldom heard," Berg returned.


"Berg Katze," I cut in, then giggled my most nauseating giggle. I could feel the shock coming off poor Berg, but she did a grand job of not showing it.

"You shut up," Kozy growled at me.  I giggled again.


"Katchzen Bergmann.."


I giggled.

Berg looked at me.  I looked back, our eyes locking.  Then she smiled and giggled even more sickeningly than I!

"Name!" Kozy was growing impatient.  Poor fellow, probably all those sleepless nights wondering where his children were...

"COUGAR!" Berg said in a high pitched, tensed voice, pronouncing it "kew-gurr".  She affected a funny accent and began a litany of "Oi'm Kew-gurr, yaish, Oi am.. Kewgs!"  I began to laugh.

"..and Oi loiksh.. Oi loiksh vegetablsh.. and tomatoesh.. and.. and Oi don't loiksh eggplantsh.. nao, oi don't loiksh them.."

Kozy didn't loiksh Berg or I, that was plain.  He looks so funny when he's angry, his eyebrows press up against his glasses..

"Search them and take them away.  Bring me any disks you find, they were probably after the antidote to that virus the Swan planted."

From the private journals of Berg Katze:

"Now just what the hell good what that supposed to do us??" I whispered to her harshly.  We were in a holding cell, having been strip-searched, and were being monitored by microphone.   They had taken Kai's coat, belt, gloves and sunglasses, being intensely interested in the set-up.  They had also taken my gun.

"No cameras," Kai signed to me.  I nodded, still fuming. "Relax, I had planned for this."  She walked over to the commode and began to peel off her catsuit.  I looked away.  Presently there was the rustle of toilet paper, and the flush of the commode.  She walked back to me.  In front of me, she held a small roll of leather, inside of which was some sort of film, with a tiny dot in the center.

It was a neutrino patch.

"Now all we need," she signed, "Is a hostage."

From the private journals of Joe Asakura, G-2:

Nambu-hakase asked me to interrogate the two Galactor women while Jun took a look at the weird computer system the short one was wearing.

Yes, wearing.  Apparently it was all contained in ordinary garments, and powered by her own body.  Two needles acted as the electrodes making the circuit.  Jun was fascinated.

I tried questioning the women, but, as Nambu-hakase predicted, they were completely uncooperative.  I tried to be nice at first, but they just giggled (why do girls have to have such stomach-turning giggles?).  I tried threatening them, but they just shrank together in the corner going "Ooooooooooo!"  I tried threatening them with torture, but they were too quick, and quoted article and section of the United Nations political prisoners act.  Shit.

Finally I was left to lean against the wall, wishing there were some legal way of forcing them to open up, listening to them chatter on about the best brand of tampon!  Gross!!

"No, I don't like the deodorant ones, they give me yeast infections," said the short one with the black hair.  She looks familiar to me, but I can't place her.  The other one, the tall blonde one; she's the woman captain we've run into.  I'd be particularly interested to know what secrets she hides.

"Ewwww, I hate yeast infections!" the blonde one grimaces, "They itch and burn so much and make that cheesy gunk that smells funny..."

Oh, Lord, please get them off this subject before I puke...

"'Sometimes I just don't feel fresh'.."

"Oh, don't you hate those commercials?  It's like, take a shower, chick.."

"Oh, hey, did you see 'Procedures' the other night?"

"No, why?"

"Oh it was too cool, they were doing a vasectomy!"

Lord, this is *not* what I had in mind...

"Oh, wow!  What was it like?"

"Oh it was really neat, they froze this guy's sac then they made these little incisions and pulled his vas deferens through them.."

That sounds painful!

"..then they put these little clamps on either side, then they took this big pair of scissors and went SNIP!"

"'Snip', just like that?  Right through?"

"Just like that, snipped it clean in two.."

My balls are starting to shrink.....

"I saw a vasectomy reversal on 'Procedures', once.  They cut the guy's sac right open and squeezed his ball out like a hard boiled egg.."

I found out why girls do this sort of thing:  It's to get their guards so grossed out that they take their attention off of them and turn their backs.  The next thing I knew, my arm was wrenched nearly out of its socket, and I felt something cool pressed against my face.

"Now be a good birdy and maybe I won't blow your head off," the short one purred.

"Now that'd be a blow job he'd NEVER forget!" the blonde woman laughed.  I raised my hands and turned around slowly.  The short one was wearing a leather finger-harness on her hand, a small piece of film covering her palm.  I recognised her now:  She was the woman who had blasted us with neutrino beams up in the Himalayas.

From the private journals of Cirean Mharagorm:

I herded our little birdy out into the corridor, with orders to take me to my toys.  Berg had confiscated his pistol and bracelet, so he couldn't warn anybody.  Knowing how he was trained, I kept a close watch on his song, listening for any signs of imminent breakout.

"Pardon me for mentioning this," Berg said to me in Zulu, "But your patch has no power.  You haven't any needles."

"So?" I responded in Ojibway, "They don't know that."

We were led down a couple of levels, into the high security areas, then our wee birdy indicated the door where his collegue, the Swan, was admiring my goodies.  Berg crept forward and slipped inside the door.  There was a thunk, then shuffling sounds, a muffled "Oh cool!", then silence.

A few moments later, the Swan walked out, carrying my trinkets.

"A little too tall," I commented, "But otherwise a good likeness."

"Yours, madame,"

"Tankee," I said, reaching for my things, "Take over for me for a sec, will ya?"  Berg nodded, placing the muzzle of her gun against the Condor's neck.  I darted inside the room.

The Swan was slumped over her desk, having been stripped of all but her undergarments.  A large lump was forming at her foramen magnum, and I figured she'd have a bad bruise.  I took a quick run around the room, nabbing whatever disks I could find.  I found what I was looking for, then dashed out of the room.

"Tanks," I said to Berg, laying my palm against the Condor's cheek, "So what do we do for transportation, any suggestions?"

Berg grinned a Cheshire Cat's grin, "He's got a nice car."

From the private journals of Berg Katze:

The G-2 is actually quite a fun little machine, especially when the Condor is at the wheel.  Of course Kai's keeping her powerless palm against his cheek did a lot towards keeping him cooperative.  I found a nice resting place for my gun, too, against his ear.

"You're going to take me back to Galactor, aren't you?" he asked.

"Oooooo!" Kai squealed, "Isn't he the clever one?"

"All this and brains too!" I replied, then we dissolved into gales of giggles.  My throat was beginning to hurt.

"Here, gimme that bracelet for a sec.."

I handed it over and she opened it up and began tinkering.

"I'll have you know you'll get nothing more out of me than I got out of you," the Condor says in that "macho hero" sort of voice.

"Awww, that's not what we want you for!" Kai says, not looking up from her tinkering.

"It's not?"

"Uh uh.  Berg Katze wants to fuck your brains out!"

YOU BITCH!  I nearly died when she said that!  She giggled insanely and I managed, after a few chokes, to join her.  While the Condor's vision was occupied by a speeding car, I directed what I hoped was a vicious glare at Kai.  She ignored me, grinning maniacally.

"Oo!  Lookee here!  Is cesium power cell!" Kai said presently, holding up the small, glowing pellet.  *Cesium??*

"Y'know what this mean?" she asks.


She pulled her hand away from the Condor's face and twiddled the glowing cell into a pocket in the film, "It means I can power my neutrino patch!"

She waved her hand about happily.  A soft whine oscillated higher and higher.  The glower on the Condor's face grew darker and darker.  He turned to her.

"You mean all this time you.."

"Careful, gorgeous," I whispered into his ear, nudging him with my gun, "This isn't the kind of head I'm partial to."

"Get his belt, too.  I have a hunch I know how these things work," Kai added.

"Me??  You're the one in the front seat!"

"Oh all right, ya weenie..." She ducked down and the Condor made some funny little "urk" noises that made me wonder what she was doing, besides getting the belt.

"Can you listen in on that thing?" I asked her.

"Not without the power cell, why?"

I pointed back behind us, "INCOMING!"

Tracer fire spat from the G-1, trying to blow out a tire.  Kai didn't look up from the belt she was destroying.

"Y'know, the Eagle's got lousy aim," I commented, "If it were he doing that," here I nudged the Condor, "We'd be in the ditch by now."

Kai nodded, looking at her hand reflectively, "This thing's about to go off."  She rolled down the window.

"You finished with my belt??" the Condor growled.

"Oh yeah, here, sorry..  Cool set-up, why haven't you got cancer?"


"With the amount of radiation required to activate that thing, you should at least be showing symptoms by now," Kai said, hoisting herself out of the window.

<<BRACKT>> <screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee>

The car screeched and spun as a wild shot came off the G-1.  The plane spun in the air, dodging Kai's neutrino beams.  Then we hit a patch of black ice, and spun madly into a snow bank.

From the private journals of Cirean Mharagorm:

"Kai!!  KAI!!" Cat-sama was screaming, dragging herself out of the car and running towards me, dodging fire from the G-1.  When the car hit the ice, I, being halfway out of the window, was thrown clear and was currently up-ended in a ditch.  Ouch.  My patch was about to go off again, so I cleared it with another shot to the G-1, and one for the G-2 for good measure -- the Condor was trying to get her out of the snowbank.

"Are you alright??" came Berg's frantic voice.

"Mmph grph," I tried, spat snow, and tried again, "Yeah, I'm great, just a little chilly.  Here, help me out of this.."

"Now what the hell good was that supposed to be?" she hollared.

"Will you take a pill??" I rummaged around in the wallet I had nicked from the Condor's belt, "Damn, no credit cards.. Oo!  An unspecified medical card, even better!"

"What are you doing?" Berg asked, mystified.  I fired off another bolt at the Gatch-niks.

"This ought to do it," I commented, holding up the paper money contained in the wallet.  I took off my patch and held it out to Berg, "Here, hold them off for a few, I'll be back in a couple of minutes."

She took the patch and gingerly fitted it over her palm, "How do I use this?"

"It's a lot harder to control than the human-powered patch.  If it starts to sting your palm, fire:  Otherwise, it'll go off and take your arm with it."

"How do I fire??  Kai!!  Where are you going???"

From the private journals of Berg Katze:

Fine time to leave me in the lurch, I fumed.  I stared at the circling G-1, at the G-2 struggling to leave its snowy prison, at the faintly glowing patch on my palm.  It was starting to sting, and I had no idea how it worked!

Another round of tracer fire startled me and I shrieked, throwing my hands up to shield my face..

<<BRACKT>> <screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee>

..Oh!  So THAT's how it works!  My palm felt hot, but was unharmed, and the energy recoil ran up my arm with a feeling like crawling army ants.   The G-2 had pulled out of the snow and was bearing down on me, picking up speed.  I stood up and faced it, the wind off the G-1 smacking my face, blowing my hair around.  Snakes of fire crawled up my arm as the patch began to sting.  It was a Kodak moment...

<<BRACKT>> <screeeeeeeeeeeeeeee>

GOT HIM!!!  Right under the bumper!  The G-2 shot up into the air, rolling backwards end over end.  A dark, bird-shaped shadow leaped from the spinning car, rolling with the force of the car's impact.  I looked up:  The G-1 was circling above me, trying to pinpoint me.  One more pass...

<<BRACKT>> <screeeeeeeeeeeeeeee>

Right in the exhaust port!!  Yes!  I have the power!  Neutrino queen!  Atomic Mutant of Mayhem!!

"Having fun, are you?"  It was Kai, holding a box of Monoject Extra-Fine hypodermics under her arm, "Don't get too carried away, we need to let them catch us for a bit."

"Catch us??? Why???  What on earth for??"

She looked at me in amazement, "Why to give them back the stuff we borrowed, of course!  What do you think I am, a thief??"

"Oh, right, 'Artemis 666'.."

"I borrow things," she says primly, "I always put them back when I'm finished playing with them."  She goes back to breaking the ends off the syringes, then pulls out a Swiss Army Knife and twists the naked ends of wires around them, "I need to tap into that cesium cell for a sec."

"Uh, Kai.. If I stop firing, we'll be in trouble.  The Condor is stalking us."

"Yeah, so?  I told you, I want him to catch us.  Only for a little while."

"He'll beat us up!"

"Can't.  We're women."

I wasn't sure I wanted to trust this logic.  I gave her the patch, and watch her tap into it with a small soldering pen.  Carefully, she soldered the leads to the syringes.  The acrid smell hovered in the air, stinging my nostrils.

"Give it up, Galactor!" The Condor shouted.  I spun around and nearly jumped out of my skin:  He was right behind me.

"We are the white shadows in the night.." a voice intoned, "Shadow warriors of justice.. Sometimes five.. sometimes.."

<<BRACKT>> <screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee>

"Sometime you'll have to see 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'," Kai said, her face lit with fiery sparks.  I broke up.

Then the world exploded into stars;  I reeled from the blow, then had my arms wrenched around my back.  I had forgotten about the Condor.


"OW! OW! OW! OW!"

Tee-hee.. forgotten I had his gun, too...

From the private journals of Joe Asakura, G-2:

That damned Galactor witch damned near took off my foot!  I *hate* hopping around with an injury, it's so humiliating.  Although not as humiliating as Ken's getting caught out in the middle of his monologue:  I've warned him about that time and again... He's going to hurt for a while....

As I lay in the snow, trying to stop the bleeding, the short woman announced "Done!" and showered me with a pocketful of diskettes. She also gave me back my wallet, with an IOU for the pocket cash.  Damn, so much for the movies on Sunday.

The G-2 is practically a write-off, and will need a lot of work to get her back to being roadworthy, let alone suitable for Gatchaman duty.  The G-1 is going to have some serious engine trouble, but still flies.  Jun has a concussion, but is otherwise all right, and my foot is missing about an inch off the inside of the ball.

They made their escape in a taxi, heading towards the airport. Before they left, the blonde woman sauntered up to me, dumped Jun's clothes on me and said "See you some other time, gorgeous.  You're the most fun date I've ever had."  Then.. oh God, I'm going to have nightmares about this... she *KISSED* me!!  Blargh!  The only worse torture I can think of than kissing that Galactor woman is kissing Berg Katze!

From the private journals of Cirean Mharagorm:

Berg was chattering away on the cellular phone they have on the plane.  She'd been making call after call, ever since we boarded.

"I thought that was a great idea of mine," she said smugly.

"Mmm, indeed.  Dr. Nambu's just a little too confident in his security system."

"Oh definately!  Imagine, leaving your credit card number and expiry date just lying around in the hi-sec. computer lab!"

"You memorized his signature, I hope?  If you didn't, I know it. I can show you."

"Along with the rest of the important data.  His next statement is going to be quite a nasty surprise," she chuckled, "I love having an eidetic memory."

"Mm-hmm, comes in handy sometimes..." Especially when its not being erased by Sosai X.

"So you got the antidote then?"

"Mm?  What antidote?"

"The antidote to the virus!"

"That?  Phshaw, I took care of that before we even left!"

"I don't understand."

"The techs at Galactor really are stupid.  You were quite right when you told Sosai I was the only one with brains enough to be able to cure it.  There's a very simple cure for virusses: its called 'the off switch'."


"Sure!  Turn off the power, and the virus can't survive.  I was looking up the lifespan when you approached me after Sosai was finished with you.  It has a lifespan of three days in the RAM, so we'll be down for three days.  During that time, however, we can run a kill program over all of the diskettes, to make sure it doesn't get reloaded."

She stared at me, bafflement giving way to rage, "Then what the *fuck* was all that messing around at the ISO for????"

"To get you your Christmas present, silly!"

Epilogue -- Christmas morning:

Berg Katze was the first to rise, stumbling groggily out to the kitchen to make hot chocolate and heat cinnamon buns.   Balancing the bed-tray over her companion's lap, she crawled back into the warm blankets.  Kai reached down, and pulled up a stuffed Christmas stocking, which she presented, with great ceremony, to Katze.

"Oo, goody!  I've never had a stocking before!"  Katze reached down and brought one up for Kai.  Between bites of sticky-bun and sips of chocolate, they emptied out their hoarde.

"Oooooo," Kai breathed, "They're all moonstones!"  The morning sunlight glinted off the necklace, lighting their deep internal fires. Katze smiled and dug into her own stocking.

"Oh, paint brushes!"

"They're for acrylics."


When they had finished their breakfast and opened their stockings, the two women bounded out into the living room, where the great, shining tree towered, sheltering an enormous mound of sparkle and gift-wrap.

"Good morning, Katze-sama, Ms Maragorm," The door admitted several of Katze's private escort of trustworthy people.  The two women greeted the newcomers, and all sat down around the tree, eager to rip into the packages.

Paper tore, and exclamations were made over laptop computers, video game systems, mechanic's sets, wood-shop paraphenalia, jewelry, cookware, cars...  "Enjoy it!" Katze said happily, "It's all on Director Nambu, courtesy of online shopping!" then laughed uproarously.

"So, Kai," Katze said finally, turning to her bed-mate, "What could be at the ISO that you had to go through all that trouble for?"

"These," Kai replied.  She reached into the tree, extracting several diskettes, hanging cleverly disguised as ornaments.  She unhooked them and handed them to Katze.

"What are they?"

"The plans and blue-prints to Cresent Coral Base."

Their eyes met.

"You were right," Katze whispered finally, "That was a lot of fun.  ALTHOUGH I COULD HAVE SHOT YOU A COUPLE OF TIMES!!!"

Kai threw her head back and laughed and laughed and laughed...
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