BIRTH OF THE SWALLOW
part I Another Jinpei fic by the JIMP
All rights of Gatchaman are respected
"Good, their still asleep." Kozaburo Nambu said as he drove along the wooded countryside and rich farms of NorthWest Washington. It was always nice to return here, far from the work at ISO headquarters and the Mantle Plan Project.
He looked back again to check on his two passengers. The girl, Jun, was snuggled in the corner of the seat holding the smaller boy in a tight hug.
Jun was exceptional for her age. Her I.Q. was outstanding, mechanical skills way over 12th grade, closer to entry level College. Her physical abilities were what he required them to be. She was perfect.
Jinpei, the doctor thought, so much younger maybe too young to start training just yet. There were other things too, like the fact that he was somewhat quiet and inward drawn, very shy. It takes Jun to coax him to do anything.
Nambu specullated for the moment that it might be the result of some long distant trama, loss of parents maybe, but there were no birth records for the child, nothing. He had shown up at the orphinage at three years old and from what Jun could relate, he hadn't said much since then.
Nambu thought about having a long talk with the teacher to see if the wise old sage could do something to help get the child out of his shell. END OF PART I Birth of the Swallow part II
" Jun...Jun. We're here." Nabu said as he tapped Jun awake from the car window. He watched as she looked up to gaze in wonder at the shear openess of the forest and the land before her, and the beauty of the old sentinal of upper Washington, Mount Baker.
"Aye......" Her face lit up with a big smile as she pulled Jinpei next to her. "See!... look at it!" She said as the boy also looked, but not with the same air of wonder.
Nambu opened the door and extended his arm. "Well, are you two going to sit there or come out?"
Jun leaped from the car and ran onto the grass tumbling end over end and laughing for what seemed like ages. Turning back towards the car, she noticed Jinpei still sitting still. She went back and took him by the hands coaxing him into the grass. "I'm here Jinpei, stop worrying! We'll be allright here. Not like that stupid orphinage." She stroked his hair from his face. "You need a haircut again."
The boy wispered back..."No I don't." Jun just smirked and looked at Nambu as he stood with his arms crossed.
"Before we get you two settled in, there's a special person you need to meet. Follow me Jun."
They all walked past the two story house where Jun watched a tall,slender boy kicking a soccer ball around in the enclosed back yard. "Who's he?" She asked Nambu.
"You'll meet him later. Joe is his name. He comes from Sicily. But you'll know more soon enough."
They walked up beyond the compound and into the woods. Jun could feel Jinpei closing in on her, obvious fear of the woods as they were very dense and not much light got through the leafy tops.
There was a clearing beyond the trail and to Jun's surprise, it all took on an air of home. The ground was very flat, the trees both bonsai and spruce were laid in neat rows around a one story Oriental style dwelling with it's rice paper doors and windows and beautifull oaken structure.
Jinpei's mood seemed to change for the better as well. He left the close comfort of Jun's side to look at the multi-colored Carp that swan in a nearby water fountain. " He likes animals alot." She said to Nambu as he watched the boy's unsmiling and quiet face.
Suddenly, Jinpei jumped back towards Jun as a figure stepped from behind the house. Nambu quickly wispered to Jun, "Say nothing. Just keep your brother quiet and stand very still."
Jun could see that this new figure, this elderly gentlemen was very old. His white hair and tapered white beard accented his worn and ancient features. He wore a faded blue shirt like those worn by older school children and loose white pants. His sandles made no sound as they slowly moved along the pebbled walkway.
The most shocking thing of all to her was the eyes! He was blind as she could tell by the milky hues of his blank eyes as he got closer. His mere looks frightened Jinpei and he scrambled to hide behind Jun's back.
Nambu waited silently as he watched the old Chinese sage get right into Jun's face and smile. "Hello....you must be the little flower called Jun."
She stared back in surprize. "How did you know? Your..."
"Blind?" The man said in return. "You like cherry's I am told, your lipstick confirms it. I maybe blind little one but I can see many things better than most people...."
The old man then peared towards Jinpei. "I didn't know you were bringing a puppy with you? He looks a little shy."
Jun took hold of Jinpei's shoulders and brought him around, all be very reluctantly, to face this new stranger.
"Jinpei is shy...he doesn't like strange people very well."
"Oh....." Said the man with a knod. "Well my little friend...I am called Akadang, I think you have something in your hair." Akadang moved a hand slowly towards the side of Jinpei's face which caused him to naturaly pull away.
Jun tightened her grip. "Stop that!.... He's not going to hurt you Jinpei!" Jun said as Akadangs hand moved under the long brown hair and came back around. The old man blew into his hand and out of it climbed a small church mouse.
Nambu watched as Jinpei's mouth shot into a wide smile. "Well I'll be, that's the first time he's ever smiled since I saw him!"
Akadang placed the little mouse in Jinpei's hands and touched his nose with a finger. "There....not so much a stranger am I now." He rose up fom his crouch and summoned another boy with two claps.
"Washiro!", He said as a young boy came running up from inside the woods and popped before Akadang in attaention.
"Yes teacher!" He said with a smile. "Take these two into the house and run the bath, I'm sure their both tired. I have to be alone with Hakasei Nambu for a while."
"Hi, I'm Ken Washiro." The boy said as he smiled at Jun. "Follow me. Your gonna love it here." The children ran off while Nambu followed Akadang into the small house. END OF PART II @FANFIC@BIRTH OF THE SWALLOW part III
The smells of spices, wood, and various incenses permiated Nambu's thoughts as he sat again inside the dweling of this simple yet so complex man he reguarded with respect as "Teacher". Indeed Akadang, or Mau Lee, as Nmbu knew him more personaly, was as much as teacher of life as of art.
His blindness had been a blessing insted of a curse or handycapp, it allowed the old man a dept of view on life's principles most people wouldn't understand. it was for that reason, that adaptation that drove Nambu to seek Mau Lee's aid in turning a group of children into warriors. Time was short, the enemy was on the move.
Offered a place to sit next to a small table with tea and fruit, Nambu sat gazing intently at Mau Lee as he calmly lit the end of an old maple long pipe.
"Tell me teacher, what do you think?" Nambu asked as the old man blew a stream of smoke from his lips and held the long pipe between his fingers.
"The girl?" The old man said with a smile. "Very smart, very confident, has good strenths. Tell me about the boy."
Nambu reached into his pocket for a handkerchief. "Not much I'm afraid. No history what so ever. I'm thinking of checking their national files on DNA....." Mau Lee stopped Nambu with a wave of his hand.
"Don't exhaust your efforts, you will find nothing. This little one will be an interesting challenge indeed."
Nambu was surprized. "Your not going to try and train him? I must respectfully ask you not too Teacher." He said as he sat up from the table.
Mau Lee was calm as he puffed on the pipe once more. " My dear Nambu, I've trained children younger than this one ,in China, before I came here by your graces. I need not explain my intents nor make them known. You have only seen the outside of the boy, It's what's within that must be brought out and shaped. I do have your confidence.....don't I ?"
Nambu could only agree. To try and argue against a master like Mau Lee was not wise nor productive. "Yes Teacher, you have my complete confidence as always. I'm sor...."
Again Mau Lee held up his hand. " To show reserve on the side of caution is not an insult Nambu. Leave the boy to me."
Nambu gave him a deep, respectfull bow then turned to leave, but not before throwing a fork from the table at Mau Lee's face. The old man caught in two fingers only inches from his eyes. "Your still to noisy Kozaburo.......better practice some more." The old man said as he flicked the fork to the wooden deck where it stuck hard.
Akadang returned to the peace of his pipe while listening to the footsteps of Jun and Jinpei walking from the bath to their room. " The little puppy's very quiet....... that's good. He hasn't forgotten, he's just keeping it all deep within.....good boy."
Jun quietly rubbed Jinpei's stomach as they lay on a futon covered in thick fur. It was the best way to make him fall asleep because though he was quiet as a mouse at times, he was as hyperactive as a small dog, which is why Akadang must have called him "puppy."
"Onechan?" Jinpei asked quietly. "Why do they want you?"
She yawned, "I don't know yet. Doctor Nambu says it's very important. I don't care what it is as long as they don't split us up."
Jinpei smiled as he began to doze off, "I love you Onechan."
Jun put her head on the pillow and stroked Jinpei's long hair. " I love you too Jinpei....." She said as they fell asleep.
END OF PART III
Birth of the Swallow part IV
The songs of sparrows, larks, and the occasional Eagle woke Jun and Jinpei from their sound sleep and sent them scurrying into the living room where Akadang awaited patently before the morning's breakfast, laid out apon the small table.
Jun took a seat on the floor mat across from the old man with Jinpei at his right and no sooner had he sat, Jinpei reached for the bowl of fruit at the center....and just as quickly got his hand wraped by a slight smack of his sister's hand.
"Jinpei?" She asked, "You know better than that. Say your sorry."
The boy turned towards Akadang still holding his left hand with his right. "I'm sorry teacher." He said with a sad voice.
All at once, Akadang smiled, his face taking on a glow of both surprize and wonder. "Ah.....see! Very good my young friend, very good in deed!" He said as he reached out and gave Jinpei a pat on the shoulder.
Jun seemed stunned. "What? What did he do?" She asked.
"You didn't notice it because I have not told you yet. Even Washio and Asakura have to be told time after time to call me "teacher" Jinpei's never been told, but he knows. He is smarter than you thought he was."
Jun gave Jinpei a slight smirk. "Yes, but sometimes he doesn't act like it. I can't leave him alone for a second before he gets himself in trouble. He has a way with being a little troublemaker at times."
Akadang reached to the center of the table and placed a big red apple on Jinpei's plate. "You surprize me as well my child." He said to Jun. "You handle the responsibility of being a mother at such a young age. The way you disopline seems a bit mild."
"Hitting him harder won't work." She said as she rubbed Jinpei's hand to make him feel better. "They were realy bad to both of us at that orphinage. Jinpei got alot of beatings but it didn't do anything but make him worse. He knows I don't hit him for fun."
Jun then looked right at Akadang. "Am I doing it wrong teacher?"
Akadang shook his head. "Not as I would have expected. Your doing just right."
He rose from his seat and walked to the open door of the house. "When your finished with breakfast, come with me to the pool for swimming lessons." He said as he walked out into the garden and took in the crisp morning air.
"This will be very interesting." He thought as he stood perfectly still.
They were at it again. Standing at the shallow end of the 50 yard swimming pole, screaming up a storm as to who was better.
" No way! This time I can beat you with my eyes taped shut Ken!" Young Joe Asakura bellowed as he stood chest out before his equally sized counterpart.
" In a trance, Joe! You haven't beaten me yet and you never will!" Washio said as he spashed Joe in the face and backed away, ready to take him on if he decided to come after him. The sudden loud booming of the Teacher however, ended the contest.
"Washio! Asakura! Swim now!" Akadang said as he stopped with Jinpei and Jun on both sides. " Jun, get a life preserver and join them. Swim as many laps as you can but do it slowly."
As Jun walked off, Jinpei tried to follow her but was restrained by the oaken bow staff Akadang was carrying in his hands. " No little puppy. It's time for you to get wet on your own." The Teacher said as he pointed to the edge.
Jinpei moved at a snail's pace, a funny little shuffle to the edge where he simply froze. Jun saw him stop and turned to help him but Akadang held his staff towards her. " No...go and do your laps." He said with a disoplined tone of voice. He then moved to squat next to the frightened youngster, his staff ballanced on his hip.
"What frightens you? the water?" He wispered.
Jinpei gave him a little knod. " What you fear is what your not seeing. Look very carefully into the water." Akadang said as he placed his hand above the water and gently sturred it.
"Now.....Walk from here, to the end, and back, look very carefully. You know what to do."
Akadang stood up and left Jinpei alone to himself as he walked around the pool and met Jun on the oposite side.
She watched Jinpei slowly walk the lenth of the pool. She wanted to be there if he fell in but Akadang tapped her on the shoulder.
"Watch...." He said as Jinpei slowly walked back and as if by magic, sat at the end of the pool and lowered himself in!
Akadang smiled as he watched Jun's shocked face. "He never did that for me! He......" She was beside herself as the old man stood in aproval.
"Your little brother just took his first big steps today." He said as she watched Jinpei bounce around the shallow end with a big smile.
It brought a tear to her eye to watch him all alone and happy for once.
At the other end of the pool, where Joe and Ken continued their bickering contest so sharply interupted before, Akadang took Joe aside and made him walk out of the pool area. There was yet another plan to be laid.
END OF PART IV
Birth of the Swallow part V
The night was chilly but very plesent to the kids after a full day of swiming. They sat off to the side of a lighted firepit in the teacher's compound as he stood amoung four large odaiko or Bon drums as Jun liked to call them. Ken and Jinpei knew these as well since they came from the homeland but Joe seemed to pay the display little mind.
Akadang, while being elderly, certainly wasn't lacking in dexterous ability as he bobbed with every strike of the skins using two large oak clubs as sticks. He would weave and strike one two even three drums in rapid succession......"Boom.....boom boom..boom" the drums verberated over and over in a slow almost marshal rythum, of course these drums wern't just ceremonial alone...they were alos used to call samuri into battle during the anchient times.
Jun could feel Jinpei slightly respnding to every beat with a small jump and swey that matched every strike. Ken Washio seemed to notice something else as well, Jinpei looked mad, his face an emotionless rock.
" Jun?" Ken turned to ask her as she watched the drumming. "Your little brother looks like he's about ready to hit someone."
Jun gave Jinpei a slight rub on the arms which snapped him out of his trance. slowly he lay back against her and even cracked a little smile as Akadang increased his tempo. Now the old man's were a blur of movement, striking with greater force and faster but gracefull responses.
"He's ok Ken." Jun looked back at Washio as Jinpei settled back into his gaze. "It's the way he seems to watch things. I guess the drums interest him a little."
Washio pointed. "Teacher says this is a lesson, though he won't tell me what it's for. By the way....where are you from back home?"
She answered back. "Tokyo orriginaly. I was sent to the orphinage when I was five after my parents died. That's where I met Jinpei."
"He's not your brother?" Ken watched as Jinpe seemed to suddenly look at him like he was crazy. Jun once again restored him to his drum watching.
" Don't say that again Ken, He'll try and take your head off. Jinpei might be small and quiet but he gets mad when someone says I'm not his sister."
Ken quickly nodded. "Sorry Jinpei. Didn't mean it." Once again Jinpei turned his head.. and cracked a smile for Ken.
Joe, meanwhile, seemed to grow wrestless just sitting there watching the Teacher bang away. To Jun, it was accepted. Joe might not know the custom of the Bon since he lived across the world in Italy.
"Joe?" She asked him as he sat sipping a coke. "What's Italy like?"
"How should I know. I'm not Italian." He returned with a slightly miffed sound in his voice.
" She asked you a simple question Joe, and she didn't know about your feelings for "Sicilia"." Ken remarked.
" Sorry." Joe returned. "I'm Sicilian, we pride ourselves as true Romanio and Italian's kind of an insult.
Jun bowed slightly as Joe took another swig of his coke.
" He's not a bad guy, Jun. Just a little mouthy at times." Ken returned on Joe with a snipe. In return, Joe threw Ken and Jun three cans of coke from a bag.
Jun opened hers and looked once again at Washio. "So....why are we all here? Doctor Nambu never told me a thing."
Joe responded. "Don't know. Me and Ken have been here for three years each and we haven't got a clue. Teacher keeps us busy with all kinds of stuff, marshal arts I think from the looks of some of it. Personally, I think it's good for use on a dance floor, you know, "Wang Chung"!"
Joe proceeded to stand up and swagger as if he was cutting up a dance floor at some night club, of course he was too young for that crazy stuff.
Akadang seemed unphased by the sudden revelling, he could hear Joe's dancing clearly amoung the drum beats and the arrival of one more visitor to the compound.
"JOE!" Doctot Nambu said with a shout. "Sit down." Nambu placed his hand on Joe's shoulder and forced him to sit as he removed his long grey dress coat and sat facing the four children with a less than enjoyed look on his face........"It's time you knew."
END OF PART V
Birth of the Swallow part VI
As the teacher toned down the drums, Nambu quietly looked into the faces of the youngsters, yes youngsters, before him.
" So young, so much, so soon. Are they even ready?" He thought. "Yes, tell them Kozaburo. They'll need to rely on you from now on."
Nambu stroked his moustache and cleared his throat. " Well......what if I told you, that some day, the fate of the very Earth will rest apon all of you?"
Joe smirked. " I'd say it sounds like a rated B movie." The rest of them seemed to laugh.
" No Joe, this isn't a movie, nor a joke..... it's real." There was no hint of a joke in Nambu's face which brought a sudden shock of reality to their faces.
"Listen all of you. What I'm about to say of each of you is important...all of you need to know where the other one comes from because your lives and the lives of millions will hang on you."
" Ken Washio, Your dear mother died when you were eight years old. Yor father, my best friend, placed you in my care when he vanished. You are the leader, calm and cool, a quick student and artfull teacher. The Falcon who will hold all together despite any odds....."
"Joe Asakura, son of Sicilia, your parents were killed by our adversaries but you they could not kill. You are fearless, angry, pasionate, and somewhat rash. These shall be your strenths or your weaknesses. That is for you to chose. You are the Condor, mighty bird of prey."
"Jun Matsushita, your parents died when you were too young to understand why..our enemy wished you dead as well, but they failed...much to your own pain and sorrow. You are the Swan. Intelligent, gracefull and beautifull both inside in spirit as well as out."
"Jinpei....you were not ment to be here, it was not your place. But your sister's love for you is beyond any point to break. The teacher see's many things in you that we can't see yet....but they will come forth... You are the swallow...small and brave who will fight even bigger odds than itself to survive.."
"There is a fifth, The Great Horned Owl who will join us very soon..." Nambu stopped to think..then continued on....
" I know what must be going through your heads right now. Fear, wonder, questions, all answers will come in their own good time. You have all been chosen, not because of the tragidies that bind you, but because of your special gifts, your tallents, and your hearts.
"Once before on Earth, mankind rose up in a great crusade apon which rested the hopes and dreams of all humanity. Many paid the price with their lives.
Now......while other children continue to play, you are being asked to go to war to defend what is, in the hopes that there. will be a tommorow. The road for all of you will be no less dangerous, no less fearsome than the road those who went before you traveled......but this time.... You will be going into battle as the most powerfull group of people ever assembled for one purpose.
All of you will be armed by the marshall sciances of the past and melded with those of the future. added to this the will of faith and the steel of spirit....and nothing will stop you...."
They all sat perfectly still. Not one of them spoke, their faces did it for them.....untill Ken stood and spoke.....
"Is that why we're here Doctor Nambu? What's to become of us? What will we be called?"
"The name?' Nambu returned with a knod. "KAGAKU - Science, that modern tool which will aid you against a high tech foe. "NINJA"- The ways of your ancestral homeland. Masters of the 18 fold path of Togakure. "TAI" - Team, the family that binds you all. "GATCHAMAN" - The meaningless name.. but in time it will become a name which means only one word.........Justice!
"That is the name.....Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman." Nambu said as he rose and touched their faces one at a time before he left them alone."
Joe stood up first and took Ken's hand. He had no words.....He then bid Jun and Jinpei a good night before he left for bed.
Ken was next. He knelt down and slowly stroked Jinpei's hair. Then he took Jun's hand. "May I have the honors of calling you Onechan too?"
She blushed. "I don't think it's wise..He might not like that at all." She refered to Jinpei.
"Then call me friend." Ken said as he bid then a good night and went to bed.
Jun and Jinpei sat outside a litle longer. She looked down at him as he watched the fire and she felt so afraid.
"Jinpei? I'm scared. I'm....so scared." The boy looked back around and gave her a hug. "I'll protect you Onechan." He said as she rocked back and forth till she rose up and carried him off to bed...... The mission had just begun..... END OF PART VI
July 27, 1998
The first year of training went by rather fast and rather easily for the team, including Jinpei who had finaly settled into the routine. Well....almost settled. Three things made themselves instantly known to the six year old "swallow" Gravity,balance, and Joe.
"Oof!" Came the blow of air as once again Jinpei fell from the thin wooden plank that hung on chains five feet above a bed of sod.
"Comeon shrimpy, how many times is it gonna take you!" Joe fired his taunt with the desired affect, it made the little boy even more upset than he was the other ten times he had tried to walk the board.
Akadang had forbidden Jun to help her brother a long time back. He was even moved to a different room from her's which caused some distress as she could hear him cry himself to sleep untill just three months back.
Ken tried to stop it though, being the leader that he was suposed to be. He stopped Jinpei at the ladder. " Jinpei, don't listen to Joe you hear me, just concentrate on what your doing."
Jinpei scaled the ladder and slipped out once more on the board. He could see Akadang using subtle cues with his head as if to urge him on but once again...."Look! Shrimpi's gonna make it!"
Down he went again with a loud thump! And he came up just as fast, making a bee line towards Joe with his fist clenched!
Ken jumped between them and pulled Jinpei back kicking and nashing his teeeth like a real angry dog.
"ENOUGH!" Yelled Akadang with upraised hands. All of you take some rest.
Jinpei took one look at his sister and bolted down the path towards the house, he was realy upset.
"JOE!" She screamed back in anger. But Akadang quickly stopped her.
"Matsushita!" When I command a rest, I mean it! Jun tried to follow Jinpei but once again, Aka dang called her back.
"Joe, Ken, leave us." The Teacher said strictlly as he sat down.
Jun stood before him, her breath betraying her near rage. "First Matsushita, you will calm down before you even try to speek to me. Your anger will solve nothing nor help your brother."
"But teacher, This is too harsh." Jun pleeded with the old man.
"Jun. Do you trust me? Have I earned that at the very least?" He asked her with a smile.
"Yes teacher! fully! but..." He put his hand up and held a finger aloft for a minute.
"There are things about Jinpei that you nor anyone knows about yet, but in time it will make itself very aparent. Right now, Joe is part of my process, a process you must not impeed if you wish to see your little brother become a young man."
Jun frowned a little, but she had to have faith in the Teacher's wisdom. He deserved that for allowing her this chance.
He rose up from his seat and walked up the trail to find the puppy.
Jinpei was at the front of the dwelling, still fuming with anger. He walked over to where the odaiko were and picked up one of the clubs intent on bashing the skin!
Akadang came up sillently and ripped the club from the boy's hand. " What were you going to do Jinpei? Smash the drum to pieces when it didn't eveen hit you?"
"Joe's a jerk teacher!" Jinpei said back with a noticable injury of pride.
" And you listen to him? What's worse, a bully with a big mouth or a big fist?" Said Akadang as he tapped the club in his hand.
" But he's bigger than me." Jinpei said as he leaned against the Odaiko in frustration.
"That's not the question I asked you Jinpei." Akadang gave him a slight tap on the head.
" His mouth?" Jinpei asked back. Akadang knoded in aproval.
"There...you learn fast Jimpei. You please me. Tomorrow will be another day to take on the high board."
Akadang handed Jinpei the club. "Now, show proper respect for the drum this time.
Jinpei gave the Odaiko a light tap. "No..." Said Akadang as he grabbed Jinpei's hand and wrapped the drum once.
"Like that! Strong but with respect!" He said as he placed his hands on the boy's small shoulders.
"Your not moving Jinpei. The Odaiko requires rythum, melding of mind,body, and motion into one form."
Jinpei continued to try and although his first attempt was a mess, he wasn't giving up. "Good boy." The old man said with aproval.
END OF PART VII
September 23, 1998
"Onechan, you like him huh?" whispered Jinpei as he and the others slowly moved down a path in the deep woods.
"Shhh!...quiet Jinpei!" Jun sternly but silently replied. The past few months now saw her six year old brother entering a new stage in life...the talking when your not suposed to kind. Talking was especialy bad news where they were at, and that made itself all to clear when from behind Jun came a God awfull "KABOOM!"
Jinpei scampered like a squirrel into a bush after his foot had set off a shotgun shell in the dirt. "Jinpei? You allright?" Jun asked as he slowly came out of the bush.
" Yeah, he's allright!" Said Joe with a look of vicious anger on his face. "The little shrimp only killed us for the seventh time!"
Jinpei was at it again. pushing against his big sister, looking for a fight. "Joe! Your mouth's as empty as your head!" The boy screamed as Jun grabbed him by the belt.
"Oh, you wana fight kid? I'll kick your butt. Bring it on!" Joe couldn't resist as Ken began to push him back.
"That's enough Joe! Lay off Jinpei right now or I'll start swinging! You got that!" Ken shook Joe till he backed off.
"You expect me to go into a fight with him Ken? The kid's ungainly, and careless, he's not even thinking about what he's doing!"
Jun got up at that remark and blasted back! "What do you expect for a six yer old boy Joe! Give Jinpei some slack!" She was realy upset.
"Slack? If he keeps this up Jun, the only slack we'll all have is the ropes on our pine caskets!" Just then Akadang apeared from behind a tree and put a stop to the fighting.
"All of you, except Jinpei, Keep going down the trail." The old man said as he found a log to sit on and gestured Jinpei to join him.
"Aparently...Joe has a good argument young puppy. Your attention span and thinking needs more work. This isn't a game you play, it's very serious work that you have a limited ability to keep focused on."
Jinpei held a stick in his hand and was scribbling in the ground when Akadang took it from him and strongly smacked the hand that held it.
"Did you hear me boy?" The old man asked more sternly as Jinpei looked fearfully at his face. "I'm sorry teacher." came the tearfull reply.
"Jinpei...to be a ninja isn't a game, it is life and death. Respect it and you will live, mistreat it...and you will die. Do you want to be a ninja or not?"
Jinpei knoded. "Yes! I wana be one." He said as Akadang took out a pipe and lit the end.
" I don't think you do." The old man returned with a puff of smoke. "I want you to prove to me that I'm wrong. A little test for you to see if your smart enough to be a ninja."
" I'll do it." The boy said with a sudden air of confidence.
"Very well. You will stay away from the house for three days. The only way you can come in is too get food. For three days you will steal something from your brothers and sister. You must think, concentrate, and watch your steps to avoid getting caught.
"Now, I want you too steal your sister's heart lockett necklace on the first night." That made Jinpei's heart sag.
"I can't! That's something from her mom!" Jinpei remarked with fear.
"No excuses. A ninja knows no respect for such things. She will get it back when your finished." Akadang placed his hand on the boy's shoulders.
"Next is Joe's watch. That won't be an easy task but I bet a fun one for you. The last thing is the black book that Washio carries around with him everywhere. Do all that in three days without being caught, and your ready to be trained further.....understand?"
"Yes teacher." The young boy replied as Akadang left him alone in the woods. He sighed heavily as his little mind saw a nearly imposible task ahead. END OF PART VIII
Evening 23 sept 98
"ahhh....choo." Jinpei shook his head as he sat nervously in the woods watching his sister's room light and tryng to think about what he had to do, which isn't easy when your only six years old, shivering, and upset. He didn't even fully understand what a ninja realy was or did but somehow he wanted to be one. He thought more about Jun than that, though, as the Teacher was quite serious. Would they take him away from Jun if he couldn't do this? The thought made him boil and kept him somewhat warm.
He awoke from dozing off two hours later with everyone asleep. "Ok....the window." he thought as he began to walk from the woods towards the house. Suddenly, he tripped on a stretched piece of wire and fell,with alot of noise, into the pebble covered walk! " Ouch!" He yelped quietly as he quickly scrambled behind the fountain to nurse his scraped elbows. "Stupid!" He thought. "Think.....!"
Another hour went by before he tried again, this time moving more slowly and probing carefully with his hands and eyes. Finally, he reached the side of the house.
Of course, this presented another little problem.....Hight! Jinpei looked about for something to stand on and a nearby box looked like a good idea.....looked like it till Jinpei saw how well it was rigged!
He sat back for a moment rocking his shivering body in frustration. " I can't do this." he started to think untill he took another look at the window then looked at the ground, then the window and ground again.
"Under the house?" He thought. Indeed the Oriental house was built off the ground with plenty of crawlspace.....and spiders.... and rats......and mice........"mmmmph....." Jinpei gave out a scared breath of wind.
" Don't let it frighten you. Use your head!" Came Akadang's words...Jinpei slowly pulled himself under the part of the house where Jun's room was.
Using his hands on the boards above, Jinpei recalled the lesson about secret doors and loose planks ninja could use to gain entry or exit into a ompound....If they had it back then, then why not?........
He felt it! A trap door! But where was it in Jun's room? Under her? was it set to make noises like the others? Only one way to find out. He slowly undid the catch and allowed the door to slowly swing down.........and a pile of dirty laundry fell all over him!
"The closet!" He thought as he tossed the laundry back through the opening. But he soon stopped to remove a pair of gym sweats and a thick gym shirt he'd need for sleeping outside.
Another hour would pass before Jinpei was totaly inside the closet space and another hour yet before he had the sliding door open.
He had to crawl very slowly across the mat to where Jun slept, and boy was he tired now as the clock on her wall said 3AM!
He could see the lockett, hanging loosly around her neck. "Think!....." he could hear himself talk as he waited for her to shift on the mat.
When she finaly did, Jinpei slowly undid the small latch and allowed the pendant to slip off on it's own. Slowly, he looked at it with a feeling of happiness, yet sadness at what he was doing to Jun, but he knew it was for her that he did it.
The next thing was dumb, he could have got himself caught for it, but slowly he kissed Jun on her forehead. Then he sillently moved back to the trap door and slipped away as the sun began to rise at 4:30 am on the 24th.
He had gotten her..now it was Joe's turn. And that....Jinpei reserved a tiny snicker as he found a thick bush to hide and sleep till he was ready to go again. END OF PART IX
Morning 24 Sept 98
"You made him run away you jerk!" Jun's voice woke Jinpei from his sleep and he lay listening as she blasted Joe with a mix of Japanese and English. She was realy upset and there wasn't a thing Jinpei could do except let a couple of tears go. He also glanced at his clothes, "She'll kill me for being so dirty." he thought as he watched them walk away from the bush.
Once he knew they were gone, Jinpei slowly moved back to the edge of the wood near the house. He could feel his stomach stabbing away with nagging kicks, he could also see the food sitting on a small table next to the fountain. "Hmph!" he snorted. "I'm not stupid." He said as he slowly walked past the table and darted under the house.
Once again in the mud and muck, this was getting fun! He thought as he found another trap door and slowly opened it. A bag of apples and a small note fell into his lap.
" Ahh....very clever puppy. Your thinking. Now, what always happens on Thursadays?"
Jinpei thought........."Swmming practice! Joe always puts his things in a small box!" The boy said silently as he closed the trap door and crawled from under the house.
Joe was still trying to explain himself at the side of the pool, but Jun wasn't hearing it. She rememebred Akadang's words and that made her all the more angry. Both of them went too far in her mind and she seriously thought of telling Nambu off as well.
Ken suddenly remarked as he looked at her neck. "Hey Jun....Your locketts gone." She looked down and sure enough...it was gone! "I never took it off! That was a gift from my mother!......." She stopped in thought. "No!... why that little...." Now she knew where he was, he'd done this before without her knowing it when he was four years old. She kept to herself without changing her tune.
Jinpei waited in sillence till they were in the water and out of sight as he darted into the small changing room and knelt before Joe's box. It would be too easy, Joe never hid the combo on the four button lock 1...2....3....4... simple. But something made Jinpei stop short. The lock looked wet.
He sat there making pondering faces as he looked about the room. "Toilet paper?" he thought as he got up and got a sheet from one of the bathroom stalls. He only had to dab the corner which came up a light green color.
"Glowing stuff?" He thought. The lock was covered in flourescent oil! "Great!" Jinpei thought. Carefully he looked over the wooden box for some other way around his problem. He shook the lid...."Loose! loose but where?" He thought harder. "The hasps pins!"
Looking about the room, Jinpei spyed a nail sticking out of a board in the wall. He wiggled it free and pushed the pins out of the hasp to open the lid.
"There it is!" He said with a smile as he grabbed the watch and replaced the pins in the hasps.
Before he left, he decided to add insult to injury....he left the nail standing up on the wooden lid before slowly crawling back into the woods.
He was soon rewarded by Joe's loud and very angry voice as he found his much prized watch missing. Jinpei couldn't help but fall on the ground laughing, now he was thinking of things other than stealing, to do to his brothers and sister. END OF PART X
Morning 25 Sept 98
"How am I going to explain this?" Ken said to himself as he slowly walked to the Teacher's house for morning breakfast with the others. When he woke up from bed, he got the shock of his life as he found a pair of Jun's white night slips clasped in his hands. From that point on he knew only one person would or could have done it.....Jinpei.
As he opened the sliding door to the living room, his eyes met Jun's, which were in the same situation. "Uh......I think these are yours?" Jun said as she held up a pair of Ken's briefs! But that wasn't the only thing that happened from last night.
Next came Joe, totaly angry as a bear who had just steped into a bee hive, ranting in his native sicilian........ Jinpei had painted his nose with red dye while he slept....the reaction from Jun and Ken was obvious....they exploded in roaring laughter! "Vai al diavolo, Ken!" Joe screamed as he sat down. "Little monio stupidio! I'll kick his hide for this!"
Jun continued to laugh despite Joe's fury. "Well Joe...you knew this job of taunting my little brother was dangerous...I warned you about him." She took a look at Akadang who couldn't help but smirk. "You too Teacher! You've known something about Jinpei all the time!"
Akadang betrayed no secrets, if he had any, but he did knod with aproval. "Aparently our little puppy wants to be a ninja very badly and so far he's been quite amazing. But he still hasn't passed my test yet."
Joe was sitting down, still angry, rubbing his nose in a towel.."The little bambino has become a terrorist ,Teacher. I think you've proven him more than worthy. Now get him back here so I can spank him into tommorow!"
Jun smirked at Joe's huffing. "You'll do no such thing! In fact, I think Ken should go out and get him!"
"Me?" Ken said as he pointed to himself. "Yes you!" Jun returned. "After all..you are our leader...or so you brag!"
Joe agreed. "Yeah Ken. Let's see you take on the little monster. Maybe he'll listen to you?"
From his seat, Akadang pointed to the black book on the table. "Bring that with you Washio. That's Jinpei's next target. I'd be very carefull with it if I were you."
" Hmph...." Ken blew confidently from his nose. "I've been around alot longer than Jinpei has Teacher, I think I can handle a smart six year old boy."
"We shall soon see." Akadang returned. He listened as Ken confidently strided out of the room.
The woods were Ken's second home away from the regimens of practice and problems he faced over the last couple of years he'd been a student. He knew most of the good hiding spots as he used them himself when the Teacher would track him down. But soon he was finding Jinpei to be a very illusive if not quiet prey.
"Jinpei?" He called..."It's me..Ken. I know you wouldn't want to make me angry would you? Why don't you just come out and we'll call this little game of yours even?" " Hi Anikie!" Came a sudden voice from behind.
" Well, well." Said Ken as he turned to see a very dirty six year old with a wisecracking smile on his face.
"Anikie?" Ken remarked. "Big brother? Your sister said you wouldn't like that? I bet you want this book, right?" Ken held it up before the youngster.
"Umm.......NO!" Jinpei said as he turned around and began to walk away.
"Oh no you don't!" Ken said as he began to run towards Jinpei's back and just as he almost had him by the shirt, a sudden jerk launched him off his feet!
A nearby sapling snare did just what Jinpei wanted! Ken was so surprized by being caught that he lost hold of the book which landed right into Jinpei's hands!
"Bye bye Anikie Ken!" Jinpei said with a wave as he bolted into the woods leaving Ken struggling with the noose around his ankles, not to mention the wounding of his pride! Evening......
They were all gathered around the dinner table except Jinpei, who was still hiding in the woods and by now probably laughing at his older sibling's failures to catch him.
Akadang sat blowing from his pipe as Ken told Jun of her little brother's trick. " See...".Jun said as she pointed a finger. "I told you Ken, your not dealing with a baby here."
"If a six year old kid like Jinpei could do this to us, then these so called "Gallactor" would chop us to bits." Ken said with reservation.
"The young one has given you all a good lesson I think." Akadang said as the lights in the house suddenly went out! "Aparently.... he's not quite finished just yet."
"Jinpei!" Jun yelled. "You can stop playing around now! You proved your point!"
Jun suddenly jumped from the small table as she recieved a rather sharp pinch on the foot. "Ow!.....Little brat! He's under the table!"
Joe and Ken moved to oposite sides and slowly removed the pine top ,that rested on stilts, over a reccess hole in the floor, sure enough, a very filthy and mud covered Jinpei smiled back at them. Placing the Book, the watch, and the heart lockett before Akadang's sitting pillow.
Jun just stood there smiling and laughing at her little brother's messy apearence. Even Joe, who had been angry before, couldn't help but laugh as well. He gave his hand and helped Jinpei climb out. "To mess with a Sicilian's nose makes it personal monio, but I give you credit... you got a lot of guts!" Joe said as he smacked Jinpei's back hard!
"So little puppy." Akadang asked Jinpei. "Do you want to be a ninja?"
"Yup!" Jinpei answered back with his chest sticking out. " I think it's fun!"
"Be carefull about thinking fun, little swallow. Don't let your 'fun" go to your head or you might very well end up eating your words in the long run."
"Comeon pigpen." Jun said as she pushed Jinpei before her. "I think you need a bath before you become a ninja!"
END OF PART XI END OF CHAPTER ONE
NEXT: CHAPTER TWO OF BIRTH OF THE SWALLOW............
It's 1999, Ryu Nondoriko, the Great Horned Owl G-5, arrives to join Gatchaman as they begin training together as a team. Jinpei recieves his first clackers and his first bumps from trying to master the art of Shurikenjutsu. His atitude as a smart mouth child gets him and Ryu into big trouble when they go exploring in a dangerous, underground cave.