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Terribly, Terribly Wrong by Donna Gregory
Terribly, Terribly Wrong by Donna Gregory
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Terribly, Terribly Wrong

 

Terribly, Terribly Wrong
(or Gatchaman vs. Demon Bunny Monstermech #109 1/2:The Unsung OVA)

 

 

Katse stalked down the echoing, HR-Geigeresque hallways of Cross Karakorum, Soosai X's stinging words still rattling around in his pointy-eared mask. The words "useless" and "failure" carried the sharpest barbs, s/he noticed as one of them careened back into hir head.

Still fuming, s/he didn't notice hir underlings as they scattered in the hallway, trying to get out of hes path. Most of them had seen this mood before, and experience taught that staying clear equaled survival.

Katse stomped past the R&D lab. "Lord Katse? Lord Katse?" A white-coated scientist (Donaldson? Donaldberg? Donalduck? Katse could never remember) dove in front of him, clutching a sheaf of blueprints that still stunk of ammonia. "..so glad I found you, milord," he was babbling. "I need you to sign off on these mecha, and then we need to get the requisition papers, and..." Katse held up hes hand. The staff unable to get completely out of the corridor gasped and shrank against the walls, unwilling to be flash-fried with the white-coated fool.

Without a word, Katse took the blueprints from hir chief of R&D. Everyone else held their breath. Casually, s/he crumpled them into a tight little ball. Just as casually, s/he grabbed Donaldson by the nose and stuffed the wad of paper in his mouth. "Doctor," s/he purred. "I don't want to see another giant bug, giant lobster, giant plant, giant tire, or giant hairy...THING..for at least the next six months, okay?" S/he bent slightly to look in the doctor's watering eyes. "Good. I knew you'd agree." Katse straightened again. "Now run along and work out something new..something different I can crush Gatchaman with." With a mufffled shriek, the doctor scrambled back inside the lab. When Katse glanced around the corridor, the rest of hes staff scattered like roaches with the lights on.

"Idiots" s/he snarled.

****

"IDIOTS!" Kozaburo Nambu was not a man prone to bellowing. He prided himself on cool, rational behavior

But..seeing Ken and Joe standing disheveled in front of him at this particular moment had driven him over the edge.

Neither one could...or WOULD...say what started it, but Joe's black eye and bloodied lips, and Ken's almost-certainly broken nose, were more than enough for Nambu. They had been standing in front of his desk for almost fifteen minutes now, trying hard to look unconcerned.

"Not only are the two of you supposed to be adults..." the doctor started. "You two morons are the top members of the world's most elite fighting force. And how..HOW..do you decide to spend your afternoon? Beating each other up like twelve-year olds!"

Ken and Joe looked at each other, then back at Nambu. "He started it," they said in near-unison.

"Fine. Great. Both of you are confined to quarters until I can figure out what to do with you. Dismissed."

"But..." Ken immediately shut his mouth.

"Don't push it, Ken. Both of you, get the hell out of my offce!"

Silently, they left Nambu's office for Coral Crescent's sterile corridors. "This is all your fault." Joe snarled under his breath. Ken made a pig-like snort through his swollen nose. "MY fault?!? If you hadn't made that crack..."

"Feeb"

"Jerk"

"Weenie- boy"

"Asshole"

"Pansy-assed, pussy-whipped Little girly-man"

"At least I get some. How're you and Rosie these days?"

"That's it! You're dead, you little butt-kisser!!" Ken dove into his quarters and locked the door behind him with a gasp of relief as Joe pounded on the outside.

****

Deep in the heart of Cross Karakorum were a set of chambers that no one but Katse's most trusted staff entered. Out of those, there was one that even they were not allowed in.

The flowing lines of the immense chamber were far more Art Nouveau than the Art Cthulhu of the rest of base. A soothing moon-gold light filtered through the graceful canopy of artificial trees, and a faint breeze set the crystalline leaves chiming softly. At the center of the room was a bed draped in purple silk. Next to the bed, was a gleaming chest. Still further behind that, there was the gentle trickle of water.

S/he bowed before the simple chest, and opened the doors. It was lit within with the glaring pink light the Soosai seemed to prefer. Carefully, Katse removed the heavy purple mask, and set it within the shrine. S/he murmured the appropriate words and closed the chest with relief. The elaborate purple cloak, white overcoat and rubbery purple and burgundy armor-quit came off wHh much less reverence. With a little snort of disgust, s/he lobbed them on the bed. (I know the Soosai is my holy master..Eternal Glory to it.. I really AM grateful for my privileged existence in the shining eye of the god...) Sighing deeply with relief, Katse sank into the pool, fed by a little waterfall, and unpinned hir long, icepale hair. S/he sank deeper into the pool, hair fanning out around hir, until s/he was up to hir chin. "Television" s/he muttered to no one in particular, and one wall of the chamber sprang to life. Katse channel surfed until something caught hir eye. And slowly, like the scented mist rising off the shimmering pool...an idea began to form.

"I need a vacation."

****

Ken started when he heard a gentle tap on his door. He set the icepack down on the chrome nightstand and peeked through the eyehole, afraid it was Joe..or worse..Nambu....

To his relief, it was Jun. He sighed and let the door slide open. "Hey, there, soldier. Come here much?" She grinned at him.

"No, but what's a nice girl like you coin' in a joint like this?" Ken replied in his best, although nasal sounding, Bogie. Jun laughed and sat down in the uncomfortable grey armchair across from the bed.

Ken's room, like all the others, was spartan and industrial looking. Coral Crescent was never mean to be a permanent residence for anyone, and the on-base quarters had all the charm of a cross between an econo-lodge and a tuna can. Brushed steel walls. Industrial-strength dark grey carpeting. Chrome, black corian, and grey vinyl fumiture. Fluorescent lighting under frosted glass. Each staff member with temporary quarters here had made their own pathetic attempts to make the rooms more palatable. In Ken's case that had included taping color copies from "Jane's Military Aircraft" to the wall and trying to grow a sickly-looking cactus. (To no one's surprise, Jun had been the most successful in making her room user friendly. She would simply smile and nod and mention that there was an awful lot a creative person could do with forty-two yards of cream-colored brocade and a heavy-duty nail gun).

"so....." she poured herself a glass of water from the ubiquitous aluminum pitcher. "We all heard you and Joe had a knock-down, drag-out."

Ken nodded, lay back on the narrow bed, and groaned as he put the icepack back on his nose. "Yep. Just another shiny, happy day in the Science Ninja Team."

Jun took a sip, made a face, and set the glass down. "Which one of you started it this time'

"Joe. It was Joe's fault all the way this time."

Jun got up and sat on the edge of the bed, lightly stroking Ken's leg. "Ooo. Poor baby. I know how to make that nose stop hurting." Ken lifted up the icepack to stare at her. "Oh?"

"Oh." She just smiled.

****

Joe cursed when he heard the tap at the door. (It's probably Nambu come to tell me what a bad boy I am...) He set the icepack down on his nightstand and opened the door, braced for the worst. Jun smiled up at him, leaning in the doorframe. "Hey there. I see you're in the naughty comer."

Joe moved to let her in. "So, what brings you to this neck of the woods?" Jun laughed and looked around his room. Joe's attempt had been almost worse than Ken's. He had started gluing Budweiser labels to the walls. On the far wall hung a poster of Dale Earnhart, riddled wHh feather shuriken. She shook her head. "I heard you and Ken had a blow-up."

Joe snorted and flopped back on the bed. "Yeah. Yeah, we did."

"So, which one of you started it this time?"

"Ken. It was definitely Ken this time." He winced as he put the icepack back on his eye.

"Aww. You poor thing. I know what will make that eye feel all better." She sat at the foot of the bed and ran a hand up Joe's leg.

"Really." Joe sat up to stare at her.

"Really." She giggled.

****

Sixteen year-old Cerise was a fourth-generation Galactor. Her mother, one of the Devilstar elite. Her father, captain of a Blackbird unit. The pride they'd shown when she'd been picked for Lord Katse's personal staff had offset their profound disappointment that her older brother was stuck on the slow track in the lizard-suHed, unaffectionately known "goon-squad". Cerise didn't mind. She thought he was a cork, anyway.

Her heart was skipping doubletime as she adjusted her mask and bowed before the door of Katse's private chambers as it slid open. "Cerise. You can stop bowing now," Katse said silkily. "Has everything been arranged?"

Cerise straightened and adjusted her mask again. (Stupid thing. The requisition department couldn't get *anyone's* uniforms right. Ever.) "Yes, Madame," she murmured, trying not to smile. (Katse-sama depends on *me!!*) "Your plane is awaiting you."

Katse smiled indulgently at the girl and gently straightened her mask. "Such a bright child."

****

Ken and Joe sat sullenly in the waHing room outside of Nambu's offce, making great effort not to look at each other. Ken stared at the ceiling, counting the speckles in the acoustical tiles and drumming his fingers. Joe had taken to staring at the floor, trying to find vague dots of colors in the featureless grey carpet.

Finally, Nambu's door opened, and they looked over to see him standing there, colorful brochure in his hand, and a vicious smile on his face.

"Pack your bags, boys, and get your long underwear. You're going on a little trip."

****

Madame Katse watched as the goon tossed hir matching Chanel luggage in the back of the Benz like so many sacks of potatoes. (Deep breath. Count to 20. You're going on vacation.) Cerise stood by hem, practically bouncing up and down in enthusiasm. (Ah, youth...) When the goon was finished, Katse slapped him in the head and turned to Cerise. S/he laid her hands on the girl's shoulders. "Now, Cerise. As my executive assistant, H's your job to keep an eye on things while I'm gone. Do you think you can handle that?"

Cerise nearly dropped her clipboard she saluted so fast. "Eternal Glory to Galactor! You bet, Katse-sama!" Her eyes began tearing over.

As Katse slithered hirself into the Benz, s/he looked in the rearview at the still-saluting Cerise. (If we had more like her, this nonsense with the Science Ninja Team would've been over by now.)

****

To Ken and Joe's minds, Hakase had given them this newest assignment wHh far too much glee.

**...therefore, the ambassador of Corombee wants his daughter to experience some of the natural seasonal beauty of Utoland during their stay here. Which is why they arranged to take this weekend "Wilderness Adventure" trip. Which is why the two of you are going to chaperon them....**

It hadn't quite been *what* Nambu had said that bothered the two young men. Rather, it was the evil, shit-eating grin he'd worn when he'd said it.

"Maybe..." Ken started hopefully as he scanned the crowd milling about the San Frangelis airport. "Maybe she's a really hot babe?"

Joe just glowered at him. "I don't care. I hate this."

"Stop whining."

"I'm *not* whining. It's just a weekend through the northwoods IN November ON a fucking mule is not my idea of a good time."

"Don't forget the canoe trip." Ken added sourly.

"How could I forg.." Joe paused then motioned to Ken as a limo bearing the Corombean arms oozed up to the glass-enclosed entrance.

Ken smoothed back his close-cut hair. "How do I look?" Joe eyed him critically for a moment. "Like you have an eggplant welded to your face."

"Jerk."

"Bite me, ya little feeb."

"Later. Here comes the ambassador." They watched as a trim, dark Little man in an expensive suit came up the stairs. Ken met him at the door while Joe hung back, still scanning the crowd. The ambassador's guards moved aside as Ken flashed them his ISO badge. "Ambassador Delacruz? I'm special agent Washio. That's my partner, special agent Asakura. We were assigned to be your escorts on this trip, sir."

The ambassador laughed. "Agent Washio. I'm terribly sorry. There seems to have been a miscommunication. I am not going on this trip. My daughter and her friends are." He leaned towards Ken and whispered conspiratorially. "And quite frankly, I am looking forward to the peace and quiet." He turned back towards the limousine. "Rosalie! Come out here this minute."

Ken's heart sank into his stomach and sat there for several moments as Rosalia Delacruz extricated herself from the limo. 14 and overdressed, over-made-up, and popping gum, bopping to the tunes on her mini-disc player as she teetered on her elaborate little boots.

"Faaaaaather.." She whined. "I don't wanna go on any stupid trip! I wanna go into San Frangeleeees."

Ken leaned back towards Joe. "Joe," he whispered, "as my blood brother, it's your duty to kill me now and put me out of this misery."

"Are you out of your mind?" Joe hissed. "If I have to go through this, so do you!"

"..and I don't see why we could only bring ONE suitcase EACH. REAAALLY, father," she was complaining.

Joe leaned his forehead on Ken's shoulder. "Maybe we could kill each other..."

****

"Let me get this straight," Berg Katse heard hirself say for the fourth time. "The cruise is canceled?!?!" Katse was in a fiercely grouchy mood. The trans-pacifica flight Nepjing to San Frangeles had been a turbulent one (although the inflight food was better than if e/he'd opted for "Air Turtle King"), s/he was tired and hir pantyhose was becoming a real pain.

The drab little man behind the desk at the Gateway Travel Agency stared blandly at Katse.

"Yes."

"The UN has shut down all South Ameris cruises due to heavy terrorist activity ~ Katse slapped hir forehead with a strangled sound. (Don't incinerate him..yes it would feel good but think of your blood pressure. Count to 20) "Don't you have *anything* that will fit my schedule?"

"We do have a lovely fall foliage trip to the northwoods..." the little man began.

****

Ken, Joe, five gum-popping teenaged girls and one matronly, middle-aged duenna sat in the passenger compartment of the chartered Lear Minijet, waiting for takeoff.

Ken and Joe had spaced themselves so they could keep an eye on the girls at all times. Joe had ended up in the front of the cabin, while Ken had taken the back. Initially, Joe was pleased. He could keep tabs on everyone entering and leaving the compartment. Now, though he was not enjoying himself. Joe winced inwardly at the chorus of screeching giggles that erupted every time he got up or turned to check things out. He fumed to give Ken another evil glare and sighed as the girls burst into hysterics again. Ken smiled broadly back at him and shrugged.

He turned back to the front, thoroughly disgusted. He was about to resign himself to playing another mindless video game on the seatback computer when he saw the slender, leggy blonde in the lavender Jil Sander suit. She wore dark, wraparound sunglasses and an expression of utter contempt.

As she flung a round leather case in the overhead compartment wHh a snarl, Joe thought he might be in love.

****

Cerise paced the corridor, mind in overdrive. Katse-sama was so overworked, she thought. So burdened by responsibility. Cerise wanted to do something special for hir... something that would make hir understand just how beloved s/he was...

An idea flared like a moth in a bug zapper in the back of Cerise's head. "Doctor Donaldson?" she said brightly as she punched up R&D on the network. "I need to talk to you about a little project!"

****

A trim, attractive redhead, dressed in finest Eddie Bauer style stood at the front of the passenger compartment with a perky smile. "Hi everyone. I'm Kelsey, your guide for the Northwoods Autumn Exploration. I hope all of you remembered your daypacks, hiking boots and most importantly, your SMILES!" she clapped her hands and beamed at the passengers.

Katse sank into hir seat with a grumble. S/he would make the little nebbish at the travel agency pay, oh, yes. S/he was going to have him carved up and his eyeballs served for cocktail weenies at the next Cross Karakorum staff meeting. A placid smile spread across hir face at that thought. This little ninny in the flannel shirt would be next.

Rosalia Delacruz and her friends squealed and giggled, showing off their Gucci "workboots" to each other, while Anna, their chaperon, looked down resignedly at her orthopedic loafers.

Separately, yet simultaneously, Ken and Joe started planning revenge upon the sadistic bastard who was inflicting this on them, knowing that somewhere Nambu was having a jolly one at their expense. Joe turned to look back at Ken, certain he was plotting as well, and was greeted wHh another chorus of squeals and giggles from the girls. He groaned.

Those girls would be next, maybe. Katse thought as s/he fumed to see just what the hell they were giggling at. Hir eyes met those of the long haired young man in the leather jacket, and he shrugged sheepishly. Definitely not hard on the eyes, Katse decided. But he seemed terribly familiar.

The matronly chaperon leaned towards Joe wHh a look of exasperation. "Mr. Asakura, Please! Would you stop flirting with the girls? REALLY. It's not proper." Ken was starting to crack up at the back of the cabin. Joe wasn't sure whether he should scream, laugh, or crawl under the seat and die.

Katse, on the other hand, very nearly choked on hir package of peanuts. (ASAKURA?! Awww...NO! NO! NO! No..It can't be...) S/he whipped around in hir seat again to look at the young man. He looked up and winked at hir. Katse turned back and sank into hir seat. (It is. This can't be happening. Be cool. He doesn't know who you are, you stunning, gorgeous pinnacle of creation. Be cool.) Katse sighed.

It was going to be a long flight.

****

Cerise strode into mecha hanger 47, feeling like a Little kid on Christmas morning. Donaldson met her on the walkway, clutching his papers. When he felt secure that Cerise wasn't going to stuff them in his mouth like Katse had, he handed them to her.

She looked at the diagrams, then at the huge mecha looming above them. "Oh, Doc..." she gushed. "This is just..so..keeewwl..." Donaldson made a small sound akin to a rabbit trapped by a dog. "Cerise...are you certain this is all right?"

She stuck her tongue out at the older man. "Katse-sama left ME, not you." She stabbed a finger at Donaldson's chest. "In charge, mister. I'm gonna be second in command of all Galactor." She looked back up at the mecha and folded up the papers. "Fuel that baby up...we're gonna get Katse-sama one HECK of a welcome home present!"

Donaldson suddenly began to wonder what sort of career opportunities the ISO might be offering.

****

Ken looked at his watch with a strangled groan. Another hour. Another hour of screeching teens and grumpy chaperons. Another hour of contemplating a weekend trapped in the middle of nowhere with those same people. He was marginally cheered at the thought of Joe attempting to ride a mule, but it didn't help much.

Joe had taken to staring at the blonde in the front row, who was now pointedly ignoring him. (Campfire, starlit night, alone in the woods.) A dopey smile started to slide across his face. He was relieved that the girls had finally seemingly lost interest in him, and looked out the window at the landscape below. (Maybe this won't be *that* bad.)

Katse could feel Joe's eyes on hir. (Does he know who I am? Why is he STARING at me?) S/he started making little origami cranes out of the peanut wrappers, mind racing.

Ken sat back in his seat. (At least those little twits have quieted down.) The scenery below was cheerfully autumnal, and he started to relax. (Maybe this won't be *that* bad.) Far in the distance, he saw a wink of light, growing closer. He watched it wHh mild interest, trying to guess what sort of plane it would be, then frowned.

It was moving too fast, and was too large to be a plane. He felt a dull shiver in his spine, and looked across and up the aisle to Joe, staring at him until Joe fumed around wHh a glare. Ken motioned to him and Joe got up. The girls giggled.

""Thanks a lot," Joe hissed as he sat down next to Ken. "I thought they'd given up." Ken just pointed to the window. Joe squinted out at the blue sky. "What the hell is that?" he whispered.

"Trouble," Ken muttered back, rising. "I'm gonna go up front, get those pilots to get us out of here. Joe nodded and moved to let Ken out. The girls giggled as Ken walked past.

The craft was closer now, and Joe was able to get a better view of it. It was very...pink.

There was a brilliant flash of light, and then a sound like thunder as the plane rocked to the side.

****

Cerise stood on the bridge of the Jackabatalope mecha, bouncing up and down with excitement. The requisition department had outfitted her with a Captain's uniform, and she had spent the last fifteen minutes showing everyone the fluffy pink rabbH tail attached to her behind.

Then she pounced on the goon piloting the mecha. "Hit 'em again! The ambassador from Corombee is on that plane...and what a great prezzy he'll make for Katse-sama!! Can't this thing go any faster? COME ON!!!!!!!" She started shaking the goon by the neck. "FAAAAAASSSTER!!!"

****

Joe hung onto the seat as the plane pitched to the left, luggage went flying, and the girls began screaming. The mecha was bearing down on them fast, and he couldn't believe what he was seeing. Great pearly pink, leathern wings were blocking out the sun.. vicious pink antlers gleamed cruelly ..and the floppy pink ears trailed out behind its head like banners.

Joe blinked, certain he was hallucinating, as the glittering pink eyes rotated like enormous disco balls and another beam of force shot from them.

Katse saw the mecha as s/he was being flung from her seat. (No..no..it can't be..) As the plane pitched farther to the left, Katse scrambled back into hir seat and peered out the window at the fluffy pink monstrosity bearing down on them with a look of utter rage.

"IIIIIIDIOTS!!!!!" S/he couldn't help hirself. Oh, when s/he got her hands on Donaldson.....

****

Up in the cockpit, Ken was not enjoying himself. The Little jet was hardly the G-1, and as implausible as that giant furry pink thing out there was, it was gaining on them. He fought the yoke as yet another blast rocked the plane and thanked God that they hadn't scored a direct hit on themyet.. The pilot and copilot were plastered against the wall of the cockpit, Ken having unceremoniously shoved them out of the way. 'What..what IS that thing?" one of them stammered.

Ken peered out the window. "A giant pink rabbit with batwings and antlers," he said dryly and keyed up his bracelet.

****

Joe stared at the blonde at the front of the compartment. He had heard that "Idiots" somewhere before.

Before he could fully form the thought, though, the plane lurched again and he grabbed a suitcase before it went flying into the ambassador's daughter. The girls' screaming had reached a constant level and Joe was two steps away from joining in from frustration.

"KEN!!" He roared into his bracelet. "What the FUCK are you doing up there???"

****

Cerise clenched her hands and chewed on the ears of her costume as the little plane started downwards. "EEEEEEE!! WediditwediditwedidIT!!!!!" The crew rolled their eyes and nodded in agreement.

She grabbed the mecha pilot by the head again. "GOGOGOGOGOGOGO!! Get them!! Swallow them UUUUUUPP!!!!"

****

Ken was ignoring Joe as he tried to explain to Hakase their current situation. At first, Nambu hadn't believed him, but Ken's continued insistence on the existence of a 60-foot long pink jackabatalope finally won out.

He wished he was having as much luck keeping the damn plane airborne. When the engines quit. Ken just sighed. "It figures."

****

Even as s/he was hanging on for dear life, Katse was already planning what s/he was going to do to Donaldson when s/he got back. She had no doubt s/he was going to survive this, oh, no.

Then s/he looked back at the young man in the leather jacket. He was staring at hir. (Me and my big mouth)

The realization hit Joe like a freight train.

It couldn't be..How could it? But he was almost certain that the last time he'd heard "Idiots" like that, was coming from a pointy eared purple mask.

He struggled his way to the front of the compartment, trying not to feel fear that the plane was headed down at an alarming rate of speed. When he got to the blonde, she was staring at him with a panicked look.

He felt stupid even asking. "Do I know you?"

****

Katse finally snapped.

S/he started throttling Joe, bobbling his head back and forth and screaming at the top of hir lungs. "YOUSTUPIDSCIENCENINJA!!ALLIWANTEDWASALOUSYVACATIONBUTNOOOOOOOOOMYCRUISEISCANCELLEDANDYOUUUUUUUHAVETOBEONMYFUCKINGFLIGHT!!BAKABAKABAKABAKAAAAA AAAA!!!"

Joe was in a state of shock. Normally, a beautiful blonde trying to strangle him might be something he actually enjoyed.

"YOU'LLNEVERTAKEMEALIVEYOUFOOOOL!!YOUORTHISFUCKINGSTUPIDMECHAAAAA!! I HATEYOUIHATEYOUIHATEYOUUUUUUUU!!" S/he was still bobbling his head as he reached around and slapped hir.

"Get a grip!!" S/he stopped throttling him. "Oops."

Their discussion was abruptly ended when the plane hit the first tree.

****

Ken was desperately trying to land the plane with a minimum of damage..mostly to himself at this point. When he'd seen that the plane was going down no matter what he did, Ken had activated his uniform and hollered at the crew to strap themselves in (This is not how I want my service record to end...killed in a crash with a planeful of teenage girls that was brought down by a giant rabbit...thing..) He groused to himself as he braced for the impact.

Cerise was getting ticked. She wondered how Katse-sama handled it all the time...these morons couldn't even grab a stupid little airplane.

She watched in dismay as the little plane careened into the forest below. "Ohh..poop." she huffed. 'Well, let's go down and finish them off.."

"Uhm...Commander..Ma'am..." one of the goons stammered. "I think we have other problems..." and he pointed to the blue and red object on the screen.

Cerise sighed heavily. "Oh. Boogers. Get us outta here."

****

Ken took exactly 45 seconds after the plane finally came to a halt to make sure he was still alive and breathing. The pilot and co-pilot were white as sheets and looking like panicked deer but seemed otherwise okay.

(Good..things could be worse) He thought to himself as he opened to door to the passenger compartment to see Joe put the blonde woman from the first row in a headlock.

"Joe? What the hell ?" he started, then winced as the woman managed to elbow Joe in the groin. She was laughing hysterically as she tried to bolt for the hatch. Joe doubled over and wheezed "Ken..It's..KATSE!! Shit!..."

Somewhere in all of this, the girls had stopped screaming and started crying.

Ken leapt over his second in command to grab Katse as s/he started pulling on the door, still laughing. "It's over, Katse..I don't know what your plot was this time..but it ends here!"

Katse wheeled on Ken and hit him in the face, hir hand going up under his visor. "GAAAH!" Ken covered his nose with a strangled scream. "By DOSE!!"

"YOU IIIIDIOTS!!" Katse was nearly frothing. "All I wanted was a lousy VACATION!!!!" S/he flung the door open and leapt from the plane, screaming at the giant pink rabbit hovering above them. "DONALDSON!! YOU PRICK!! I AM BERG KATSE!! GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!!!!"

Katse promptly stopped screaming at the Jackabatalope as the first explosion from the God Phoenix's bird missiles tore the fluffy, antlered head right off of it.

****

"Let me get this straight..." Nambu had an indescribable look on his face. "You had Katse and you let him get away?"

"Well, sih, he hit be in by dose.." Ken started then stopped watching Nambu's face on the vidscreen turn several shades of red. "Nebberbyd. It'll be in by repawt." Nambu growled something inarticulate and switched off. This was a diplomatic nightmare, and Ken envisioned himself and Joe doing paperwork on it till they were in their eighties...

Joe was sitting at the weapons station with his head on the console. "I had him..her..I..bah!! I had Berg Katse by the throat and he..she..bah!! GOT AWAY!!!!" He whacked his forehead against it a few times for emphasis. The girls, their chaperon and crew of the minijet were crowded into the cockpit of the Phoenix. The ambassador's daughter kept trying to dial her ruined celphone. "Daddy? DADDY?!?!?!"

Jun just shook her head as she shooed one of the girls away from her console. "You poor babies..."

"Can you make it all better?" Ken and Joe said in unison. Ken blanched and turned to Joe with a growl as the other started to get out of his seat. 'What did you say?"

Ryu rolled his eyes. "Here we go again..."

****

It had taken cunning, daring, and liberal bribery to get back to Cross Karakorum, but a bedraggled Berg Katse felt a sense of weary accomplishment as s/he finally strode down the hallway to hir chambers. (It is so good to be home...) S/he stopped when she saw Cerise hobbling towards hir..one arm in a cast and leaning on crutches. She was balancing some sort of floral arrangement in her good hand

"Cerise? What is this?" Katse asked the frustrated looking girl.

"HERE!" Cerise thrust the wilted carnations and daisies at Katse. "Welcome Home!" and continued hobbling down the hallway.

Katse looked down. In the center of the flowers was a cute, fluffy, pink stuffed rabbit.

Katse's scream could be heard all the way down to the R&D lab...where Doctor Donaldson just smiled.

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