This story is in response to the Puppy Episode challenge.
Categories: Gatchaman Characters:
Dr. Kozaburou Nambu, Joe Asakura
Blood, Guts & Gore, Graphic Violence, Mature Content, ViolenceTimeframe:
Mostly CanonChallenges: Rewrite the 'Puppy Episode'
Challenges: Rewrite the 'Puppy Episode' Series:
1. Chapter 1: The night before. by Dragonsbain
2. Chapter 2: Why a dog? by Dragonsbain
3. Chapter 3 : "Scars" by Dragonsbain
4. Chapter 4: Broken Condor by Dragonsbain
5. Chapter 5 : Every parents nightmare. by Dragonsbain
6. Chapter 6: "Someone to watch over me." by Dragonsbain
7. Chapter 7: Calm before the storm by Dragonsbain
8. Chapter 8: Dance of the Mechas ( Part 1) by Dragonsbain
9. Chapter 9: Dance of the Mechas (Part 2) by Dragonsbain
10. Chapter 10: Dance of the Mechas ( Part 3) by Dragonsbain
11. Chapter 11 Dance of the Mechas (Part 4) by Dragonsbain
12. A moment of Peace by Dragonsbain
Chapter 1: The night before. by Dragonsbain
What happened before the mole tank appeared.
This and all following chapters are based on and influenced by
" A Critical Moment for the Science Ninja Team"
1972 Tatsunoko Productions
My heartfelt gratitude and respect goes to all of the people who were involved in the creation and execution of Gatchaman. Without their extraordinary imagination anime, animation and story telling would be far less enriched.
Please enjoy and comment.
Joe Asakura drove back to his trailer eagerly anticipating his date this evening. Dr. Nambu decided to treat the team to an early dinner. They all relaxed and enjoyed themselves. The shock of the evening came right after dessert. Ken actually produced money for a sizable tip.
Jinpei ,always the showman, decided to fake a heart attack at the table. While Nambu normally frowned upon such childish acts, something in the performance put a death grip on his funny bone.
The doctor went from a smile to laughter quicker than the team could get into Birdstyle.
The only one not amused was Ken. He was drilling Jinepi with his eyes. Nambu's laughter only made things worst.
Ken thought the best course of action was to quietly withdraw the tip. Ken's hand had only closed half the distance to the cash before it had disappeared off the table. The doctor had it and was giving it to Jun. Ken had to occasionally remind himself that Nambu was faster than any of them. When he wanted to be. The doctor signed the receipt and composed himself.
"Honestly, You kids are going to be the death of me." Nambu said with a smile.
They all walked out of the restaurant and said their goodbyes.
"Remember. 8am sharp for practice." Nambu reminded them.
A chorus of "Roger" answer him.
Joe pulled up to his trailer and took a good look around. No one was around but Mother Nature. After securing his Skyline for the night, Joe entered the trailer and quickly started opening windows. He wanted to remove any hot, stuffy air. Joe's home cooled as he took a nice long shower. He finished preparing himself as he closed the windows and shades. It was wonderful just him and his bed.
Joe did not care that it was only 9pm. He had planned this night for a week. He needed a good nights sleep and he was going to get one. He drifted off to sleep listening to the sound of crickets.
2:55am Gallactor base:
Berg Katse sat in the control room drinking tea and waiting for his newest Commander to report in. Katse really thought their latest mecha was ingenious. Even Sosai thought it had merit. A mole tank that attacked from underground.
It's ascension from the earth was enough to cause panic and destruction. The mole tank's biggest asset was the fact that it could escape underground. Neither the God Phoenix or the Firebird could follow it.
"Lord Berg Katse" crackled over the com link. Katse had learned to hide the excitement in his voice when speaking to his Commanders. It did not mean that he did not feel a rush of adrenaline at the beginning of a mission. Especially, when something advantageous might come from it.
Katse cut the com link and switched the viewer to Utoland 6. The station was always the first to report Gallactor activity. Katse did not have to wait long.
3:22am ISO Headquarters
Dr. Nambu was reading the initial security force report.
Giant mole tank...came from UNDER ( that was disturbing) the subway system...rampaging through downtown...
Nambu wouldn't have to wake the entire team up. Thankfully, Ken was out on late night patrol.
"Let Ken get grumbled at." Nambu thought.
The entire team had been trained to respond to their bracelets even from a deep sleep.
3:25am Gallactor base
Katse and everyone in the control room watched as the Special Report banner interrupted the late, late movie. Katse was very pleased with the sweeping shots of total destruction in the center of Utoland. Robert Kim, channel 6's star reporter, prattled on about eyewitness reports and live interviews as the mole tank rampaged in the background. Katse, feeling a bit giddy, addressed the viewer.
" Mr. Kim, I will be heartbroken if you don't thank Gallactor for that Emmy you will receive because of us."
The men in the control room loved that one. Katse smiled.
"Oh, what a beautiful morning..." rang though Katse's head.
3:30am ISO Headquarters
Dr. Nambu's viewer was filled with Gatchaman's slightly annoyed face.
"Hakase, I can't get Joe to respond."
"Where are you?"
"I'll be with the God Phoenix in 5 minutes. Jun and Jinpei will be there about the same time."
"Don't worry about Joe. I'll get him. Ryu did you get the report I sent?"
A very sleepy Owl answered: " Yes, Hakase. A mole tank? What is Gallactor doing? Haphazardly working it's way through the animal kingdom?"
( And thus was born the running bet around ISO. Which animal would Katse come up with next?)
"I wish I knew Ryu. Please inform me when you make contact with it."
Nambu switched off the viewer and activated his com link. It was 3:30 in the morning. He decided to do this gently.
" G-2. Come in."
Nambu waited 30 seconds
3:32 am Joe's trailer
Joe was burrowed into the sheets. Joe kept his bracelet on 99% of the time. So when Nambu was calling to him the sound was very muffled by the pillow that was over it.
"Joe please wake up."
Nambu was about to get loud when, very quietly,Joe answered.
Nambu was stunned. Joe hadn't called him that in years. As good as it felt, he knew that it was mostly Joe sleep talking.
"Condor. You have a very impatient mole tank waiting for you downtown."
Joe flew out of bed and started getting dressed.
" Sumimasen, Hakase."
"Ok, just get going. The team will be waiting for you downtown."
"Gatchaman, Joe is on his way."
"Thank you, Hakase"
Nambu was smiling at least till he got the latest report.
Joe was out the door in 3 minutes. Ken was going to be miffed. Joe knew that Hakase was waking him up because Ken couldn't. Not a good way to start a mission.
Chapter 2: Why a dog? by Dragonsbain
Here are some of the Romaji explained.
Ani (older brother)
Joe started entering downtown 10 minutes later. He could hear the mole tank before he could see it. It was making a racket along with causing a hell of a mess. Joe couldn't drive anywhere. Most of the streets had a lot of debris.
The debris Joe could somehow get around but the sinking ground had him a bit on edge. The mole tank had undercut big swaths of downtown and now the tunnels had started to collapse. He needed to find a link up point. He couldn't just sit and wait. That would make both him and the God Phoenix stationary targets. The mole tank might miss the G-2 but not the God Phoenix. Berg Katse was surely waiting for them.
He needed a road that he could drive straight for, at least a kilometer. It took another 5 minutes but Joe found one. It was one of the main roads just outside downtown. He could hear the God Phoenix's engines somewhere close overhead.
Joe never questioned how he could hear those engines in the middle of battle where you could barely hear one's own heartbeat.
If he had, Joe could link it back to his basic training that being alone was not good. The God Phoenix was the team's space. Like the ultimate fort. Each team member carried a piece of that fort. When they all got together what they created was amazing. Anyone that tried to destroy it was crazy, stupid or both. They would defend the God Phoenix and each other till their last breath.
Crescent Coral was another story. That was home. God or the fates or whatever looked after that. That was their reward for sacrificing themselves to Gallactor on behalf of the human race and the Earth.
Joe hid in an alleyway till the God Phoenix was just overhead. Joe turned onto the road and started driving. Link up was always best at a little over the God Phoenix's minimum forward air speed. Which was 100 km/hr.
"Sorry I'm late Ken. I'm ready to link up now."
Joe was ready for some verbal lashing but, surprisingly, didn't get any.
"I understand. Let's do this." was Ken's response.
Joe was looking ten seconds ahead for debris. His eyes saw something that his brain was going to dump into the don't worry about it bin. The God Phoenix was reaching for him when something told him not to go. Joe wiggled out of the God Phoenix's grasp without truly knowing why.
His brain went into review mode. A puppy. What puppy? Joe looked back down the road and saw him. He was barking at the mole tank. He was also trying to wake his mother.
" Little one your mother can't wake up. Run, hide. You can't fight that mole tank."
That was the thought that was going through Joe's head before Ken interrupted him.
"Joe! You out of your mind! What are you doing?!"
" I'm going to go save that dog. Don't mind me."
Joe gunned the engine and headed for him.
"Joe it's too dangerous. Come back."
Joe heard Jun but he never verbally responded.
" Jun. I can't just leave him there. He can't defend himself."
Ken knew it was better not to argue with Joe.
"Ryu, let's give Joe some cover."
" Whatever your doing Joe. Do it quick. The mole tank is headed this way." Ken thought.
Joe was trying to get as close as he could without scarring him. He was only a couple of meters away when the ground started to give way.
Joe backed up as much as he needed to and then left his car and started running.
Inside the mole tank:
The commander didn't believe his luck. One of the KNT out in the open.
"That's G-2 from the Science Team Ninja. Kill him!!"
Joe barely heard the laser. He made a flying jump for the puppy.
"It will be ok, boy. I'm going to take you to this great ship. Wait till you meet my friends."
Joe picked up the dog and tucked him under his wing. He started running back to the car. Joe saw the God Phoenix buzzing the mole tank.
The commander now had two targets. Spoiled for choice he said:
"We'll teach you a lesson. Swat down the God Phoenix!"
Ryu, kept his eye on Joe. Once he made it back to the G-2 he was safe.
The mole tank fired again. Joe dove for cover. He was only 30 meters from his car. Tucking the puppy close he took off again. Joe never saw the mole tank turn around and fire.
Ryu, watched in slow motion as the missile closed on Joe and Joe closed on G-2.
Joe heard the explosion and automatically dove for the ground. He felt like someone hit his helmet with a baseball bat. The last thing Joe felt was the puppy squirming under his wing and the blood filling up the left side of his helmet.
Chapter 3 : "Scars" by Dragonsbain
I would like to dedicate this chapter to the 4 firefighters, 3 paramedics and all the doctors and nurses at CMC Charlotte,NC. They got me up and running after my car wreck in 96.
I would also like to thank Golden Earring for the song.
This chapter's title and first quote are from Rush (Geddy, Alex and Neil). The song is "Scars" from the album Presto.
"Scars of pleasure
Scars of pain
Make them sensitive again"
"Each emotional injury
Leaves behind it's mark
Sometimes they come tumbling out
Like shadows in the dark" NEP
Ryu saw everything. His hands started turning the ship around before he could speak.
"Ryu. What are you doing?"
Ryu knew Ken was watching the mole tank. He hadn't seen what happened.
"Joe didn't make it."
Ken heard the thickness in Ryu's voice. He focused on his pilot. His head was down and his hands were shaking on the controls. Ken could hear Jun and Jinpei leave their seats to join Ryu and him at the front controls. Ken lifted his eyes to search the screen for his second. It didn't take long. Joe was down about 2 meters from G-2.
Ken turned his eyes from the screen. Ken put all his panic and fear in a box and threw it into the back closet of his mind. He was trained to do this. Retrieve his teammate and access his injuries.
"Already heading towards him Ken."
The commander of the mole tank saw a great opportunity.
"They are headed back for him. Take down the God Phoenix."
The men at the controls were all to happy to oblige. The commander noticed one thing very quickly.
" They are not seeing us! Change course before they ram us!"
Ryu was so focused on Joe that he barely saw the mole tank. Ken saw it at the last minute.
"Watch where your going!"
The God Phoenix and the mole tank were mere meters apart as they passed.
" Get them from behind!" shouted the commander.
The mole tank rose up to bear hug the God Phoenix.
" Look, sir! The sun is rising."
The commander wanted to scream. The KNT was his and he couldn't do anything about it.
" The mole tank can't operate in sunlight. Let them collect the body of the Condor. We just did more than crushing the God Phoenix could ever do. Descend."
With that the mole tank dug under Utoland and disappeared.
Ryu was already looking for a place to land. Ryu tried to set down the God Phoenix twice but the ground started giving way. The ship found solid ground about 20 meters away. The team exited the ship and flew towards Joe. They could all hear the puppy barking and whining at Joe.
The puppy was bumping and licking Joe's beak trying to rouse him. Joe was unresponsive to everything the puppy was doing. The entire team was trained from an early age to handle serious injury to each other. But when your friend/ teammate/ buddy is lying prone on the ground bleeding out sometimes training isn't enough. Jinpei broke the stunned silence.
"Joe ani, is dead."
Ken saw the boy's eyes turn deadly. Jinpei picked up a nice size rock and took a step towards the puppy. This action woke everyone up. Ken grabbed Jinpei around the waist and turned him away from Joe and the puppy. Jun shook herself and headed towards Joe. Ryu turned to help Ken with Jinpei.
"Let me go. That stupid mutt killed Joe. What the hell, Ken?"Jinpei screamed in protest.
" Jinpei is right. If it wasn't for that thing," Ryu's hand swept toward the puppy " Joe wouldn't be..." Ryu's voice trailed off.
Ken turned himself, Ryu and Jinpei around.
" Look at that dog."
Jinpei closed his eyes.
" I said look!" Ken said a bit harsher than he wanted to.
Jinpei saw the puppy shaking in terror. It looked very confused. It was trying to wake Joe and hide under his wing at the same time.
" Why are you blaming the dog?" Ken asked.
" If it wasn't for him Joe wouldn't be lying here." Jinpei said quietly.
Jun had moved in and started looking Joe over. She was the medical expert after all.
" Did you ever think that Joe had a reason to go after the puppy?" Ken asked.
Ken looked to Ryu with a ,"help me", look in his eyes.
" Yes he has to. He has to save things. It's his job."
Ryu sighed. This was going to be a tough explanation for Jinpei.
" Jinpei, Joe would have gone after the puppy even if Hakase told him not to." Ryu said.
Jinpei looked very confused. " But that would get him in trouble."
" Joe looked at the puppy and saw himself. Do you understand?" Ken asked.
" Kind of." Jinpei answered.
Jun was very impressed with the conversation behind her. But she desperately needed help.
" Help, me." Jun said.
All three guys turned around to face her. Jun's hands were covered with blood and so was the puppy.
"His helmet has been pierced by a missile fragment. I can't move his head much to see where it penetrated his skull. He's breathing is very shallow and his pulse rate is dropping. I need a back board, some sort of wide tape and a blood pressure cuff."
The guys just stood there.
" Now! Move!" Jun shouted.
The guys high tailed it back to the ship. Jun had to try to wake Joe up.
" Joe can you hear me?"
Jun's beak was inches from his.
"Joe please answer me."
She was desperately trying not to panic. Joe moaned and then tried to move his head.
" Joe don't move. Can you hear me?"
A very weak "Yes" came from the bloody face in front of her.
"Who am I?"
Jun smiled. He hadn't called her that in a while.
"Who are you?"
" Can you count from one to ten?"
"Because I said too ."
"Ichi, ni, san, yon, go, roku"
At that moment the guys got back.
" He is awake!" Jinpei squealed.
All three dropped to their knees to look at Joe's face. His eyes were still closed but his mouth was moving. Ken handed Jun a wet cloth.
"Thanks." with a nod to Ken.
"Joe I need to get some of this blood off of you. Let me move you, ok"
Ken and Ryu snickered behind her. Jun quickly shot her right hand back and caught Ryu in the side.
"Sorry." Ryu grunted.
Jun barely moved Joe's head enough to get under his beak. She carefully wiped his eyes clear of blood and gunk.
" Joe look at me. "
Joe cracked his eyes open and saw Jun smiling at him from behind her beak.
"Can you see me?"
"Is everything blurry?"
" Joe I need you to lie very still. Let us move you. We have to put you on this board and tape you to it. So you don't hurt yourself. Understand."
"Yes I need to keep you still."
" Do you remember what happened?" Jun wanted to keep him talking.
Jun slid the board next to him.
" Ryu, get over on his side and, gently lift him toward you. I'll hold his head. Ken push the board under him." Jun commanded.
Joe felt Ryu grab and lift him as the board went under him. They all gasped as they saw the pool of blood under Joe. Ryu kept the lift slow and steady. Halfway through the lift Joe jerked.
" Puppy. Where is the puppy?"
" Joe don't move!" Jun screamed at him.
Joe held still.
" Where is he?"
Jinpei answered : " Right here Joe."
Ryu lowered Joe back onto the board.
" Let me see him."
Jinpei brought the puppy into Joe's field of vision. Joe gasped.
" He's bleeding. Help him!"
" Tape,now!" Jun demanded.
" Joe don't move. The dog is a girl, not a boy."
Jun began taping his head to the board facing the same way she found him.
" She is covered with your blood Joe. As far as I know she is uninjured."
Jun was now strapping his torso and legs to the board. Once she was sure Joe couldn't move she decided he could be brought to the ship. Ken and Ryu picked up the board with Joe and started towards the ship.
" What Joe?" Asked Jun.
" Puppy, please."
They needed no explanation. The tone of Joe's voice said everything.
" Jinpei please bring her." Ken said with a sigh.
They got Joe on board and taped the board and him to the floor halfway back from the control console. Jun came up behind Ken and Ryu and whispered:
"We have to keep him talking."
Jinpei heard his sis and came up with a great idea.
" Joe what was the song you were going to teach me?"
Joe opened his eyes and said "Huh?"
"Please Joe. Teach it to me. I'll listen." Jinpei did his best sweet little kid voice.
Ken, Ryu and Jun all hoped this would work.
"Ok. I need help. Jun your the guitarists."
Jun laughed and said: " I'm a bit busy. Ryu?"
" I got your back buddy."
Ryu got going towards Cresent Coral.
"Baum, Baum, Baum,. Baum Baum Baum. Baum Baum Baum Baum Baum ...Baum Baum Baum." Ryu started hopeful this was the correct song.
"Very good, Ryu. Ken?" Joe stated.
Ken started carefully pounding the control panel in front of him to lay down a beat.
Just as the boys started playing Jun called Nambu.
" Hakase, Joe's been injured."
" What happened, Jun?"
As Jun filled Nambu in Joe started, weakly.
"I've been drivin' all night, my hand's wet on the wheel
There's a voice in my head, that drives my heal
It's my baby callin', says, " I need you here"
And it's half past four, and I'm shifting gear"
" Jun what is his blood pressure? And what is all that racket?" Nambu's voice called from her bracelet.
Jun checked Joe once again. He was getting into the song and it showed. He was bleeding a bit more but he was awake. That is all that mattered
" 105/68. It is coming up,a bit. That noise is Joe singing to Jinpei with Ken and Ryu backing him up."
Nambu just stopped and laughed. It was totally absurd but it was obviously working.
" Keep this line open Jun. I want to hear everything."
" Hakase, hai!" Jun answered.
Nambu had to get everything ready. He was out of his office and running down the hall. Nambu ran straight to the medical bay. Nambu burst through the doors and breathlessly started barking orders.
" I need a trauma team ready. I need a portable cat scan. "
The head nurse ran over to him.
" What's up doctor? Breathe and tell me." Barbara said.
" Joe's helmet failed and he has a missile fragment somewhere in his head."
Everyone was on their feet.
" Jun has him taped to a back board, face down, to keep his head still."
" Don't need no letter at all
We've got a thing that's called radar love
We've got a line in the sky, radar love" blasted out of Nambu's watch.
Everyone gave Nambu a questioning look.
"Jun's idea to keep him talking."
They all enjoyed a quick laugh as it was evident that they were all singing at the top of their lungs now.
" Did I just hear a dog howl?" Barbara asked.
" Yes a puppy."
" I'll explain later." Nambu said.
They all high tailed it to the God Phoenix's bay. Nambu was up on it's wing even before Ryu finished docking it. It was quite evident to everyone present who had taught the team to fly.
As the team was congratulating each other on their outstanding performance, someone started pounding on the roof. Ryu opened the bubble and lowered Nambu in.
Nambu immediately laid down in front of Joe.
"Hakase, Kon'nichi wa." Joe said with a smile.
Chapter 4: Broken Condor by Dragonsbain
What Joe is thinking is in parenthesis. What Joe speaks is in quotes.
Here are a few translations to help with the Romaji.
Sumimasen (excuse me,I'm sorry)
Kon'nichi wa (Hello)
Kudasai (Please, as in Please give me)
Koko ( Here, this place)
Hai (Yes,That's right)
Hakase ( a doctor with a doctorate) So the team calls Nambu by a title.
Dr. Nambu needed to quickly assess Joe. Which would not be easy. Joe had lost a lot of blood just in the God Phoenix. From what Jun described he had lost quite a bit at the accident scene as well. Joe's body, especially, his brain were very quickly becoming oxygen deprived. Joe wanted to just sleep. Nambu knew that but he couldn't let Joe sleep until they could get him in an OR room and hooked up to monitors.
"Joe. Look at me." Joe had closed his eyes.
Nambu started pounding the floor in front of Joe to get his attention. Joe was having a hard time doing anything. Nothing was going on automatic.
" Loud." Joe mumbled.
( How bad did I get hit?) Joe thought.
" Joe. Look at me."
Joe opened his eyes and tried to focus on Nambu.
" I'm all blurry?" Nambu asked.
(No I just said that for the hell of it.) Is what Joe thought.
" Hai." was what passed from his lips.
" Joe I really need you to focus as much as you can on me right now. Understood?"
(You want me to focus? My head is splitting and I can't see and you want me to focus?)
" Joe you can't focus because your head hurts. Correct?"
" Joe I'm going to touch you and you tell me where. Ok?"
(What the hell are you doing Hakase?)
Nambu looked at Joe's hands. They were closing into fists.
" Joe I know this is frustrating and you want me to stop."
" Kudasai." Joe answered.
Nambu got real close to Joe's beak and said, quietly:
" Joe you are really hurt. I know you can tell that also. Because your body and brain aren't working together. Are they?"
" Ok, I need to check you over to see what the next step is going to be. This is really important. Just hang in there for me, Kudasai."
For emphasis, Nambu grabbed both of Joe's hands and gave them a small squeeze.
"Hai." Joe said and returned the squeeze.
Nambu stood up and walked to Joe's side and sat down.
" Jun get down and watch his face for me. Don't let him fall asleep." Nambu ordered.
Jun laid down facing Joe. Jun flashed Joe a quick smile. Joe returned the gesture.
"Koko?" Nambu asked as he grabbed Joe's left ankle.
"Ankle." Joe mumbled.
"Which one?" Nambu said with an exasperated sigh.
Instead of answering Joe wiggled his left leg. Nambu wasn't going to push him. Nambu went up his body touching Joe and waiting for a response. Nambu noticed that when Joe got it wrong the team started giving hints.
"Everybody listen. This isn't a test. If Joe can't feel something I need to know. Ok?"
Nambu received a collective " Hai." in response.
Nambu was up to Joe's torso. Nambu grabbed his right ribcage and squeezed.
Nambu was confused with Joe's response. Joe didn't flinch but he started laughing.
" Yeah. No cheating." Joe was exhibiting a case of the giggles.
Nambu got in front of Joe again.
" Joe what are you laughing about. What I said or where I touched you?"
(Hakase, you know I'm not ticklish. But this is starting to remind me of ...)
Joe's mind wandered back to a crazy training exercise that Ken and Joe used to do, when they were kids, that they started calling " Itsy, bitsy spider".
"Cheating, spider funny."
Jun, Ryu and Jinpei all looked really confused.
"He has lost a lot of blood and isn't making sense anymore, Hakase." Ryu said concern and fear evident in his voice.
"Yes, Ryu he has lost a lot of blood but he is making sense." Nambu had totally forgotten about that exercise.
They turned toward Ken for some sort of validation. The veiled fear on Ken's face gradually washed away. Their was a smile starting to tug at his lips and in his eyes. Nambu could see what was about to happen and tried to stop it.
"Ken don't you dare start laughing. Because if you start he will start and Joe can't lose that much oxygen right now."
(Too late.) Joe thought and started getting the giggles.
"Stop, I mean it." Nambu punctuated this with a quick swat to Joe's rump.
"Ass" Joe said and then quickly dissolved into laughter and took Ken with him.
"I have got to hear this one." Ryu said with a smile.
"Later, everybody." Nambu said as he reached for the bag he brought with him. "Joe open your mouth."
Nambu put in mouthpiece hooked to a small oxygen canister.
"Just breathe normally. Ok?"
Ken and Joe forced themselves to calm down.
Nambu produced a knife and cut the board away from the floor. The team joined Nambu and Joe to exit the ship. Ryu and Ken each grabbed an end of the board and flew Joe off of the ship. Ken and Ryu didn't give Joe up to the medical team. They took off towards the medical section at a trot.
"Where Hakase?" Ken shouted.
Nambu waved off the team and motioned them to follow.
"OR room 1." Nambu shouted back.
"This has been a long day already." Nambu thought " And it's only 6:30 am."
Chapter 5 : Every parents nightmare. by Dragonsbain
Nambu stood still. He watched everyone disappear around the corner. He needed a moment.
"Hakase. Are you ok?" Jinpei asked.
Nambu turned around and tried to put on a good face for his youngest.
" Yes Jinpei. I'll be fine." He lied to both Jinpei and the bloodily puppy he held.
" Jinpei can you please take care of the puppy?"
" Yes, Hakase. I'll clean her up and feed her. She will be all pretty for Joe ani."
" Jinpei, thank-you. Why don't you and the puppy go to sleep afterward. I did get you up in the middle of the night. "
" But Hakase, I need to be there for Joe ani."
Nambu kneeled down to get on Jinpei's level.
" Jinpei, none of you will get to see Joe for many hours. I'm going to try to send all of you to bed. Especially, Ken. He hasn't had any sleep. Do you trust that I will wake you if something happens?"
Jinpei could tell that Nambu was being honest with him. Jinpei could always tell when he was being sent away. Nambu was not doing that.
"Hakase, hai." Jinpei said.
"Good." Nambu stood up and turned to go.
"Dr. Nambu we are all waiting for you." It was Barbara, the head nurse. She had come back to the God Phoenix's bay looking for someone who was supposed to be right behind her.
" Sorry. I'm coming." Nambu said.
Nambu turned back around to Jinpei.
"Ken ani and Ryu ani said that Joe ani saved this puppy because he saw himself in her. And that Joe ani would have done it even if you said not to. I don't understand."
Nambu could tell that Jinpei was truly trying to understand it but couldn't get the concept.
" What made you save that whale a few weeks ago?"
Nambu put a finger to Jinpei's lips.
" When Joe gets better, why don't you ask him? Each person has their own reasons but something tells me that you two will understand each other."
"Thanks Hakase!" Jinpei said with a one armed hug around his waist. Jinpei then took off for his quarters. Secure in the knowledge that Hakase would fix everything.
Nambu watched Jinpei leave.
"Joe, rescued that puppy?" the shock was evident in Barbara's voice. The zoo collector was Jinpei.
"Yes he did. Now let's make sure that he doesn't regret that decision"
Nambu and Barbara ran towards the medical wing.
Ken and Ryu had made it to OR #1. They carefully brought Joe inside and laid him and the board on the exam table. Jun and Dr. Snee, the team's main physician, came in right behind them. Ken kneeled down to look at Joe's face. His eyes were closed.
"Joe,wake up." Ken said as gently as he could. He got no response from Joe.
"It's ok. We have him now." Dr. Snee tried to sound confident and comforting.
The whole world immortalized the KNT. That is how it should be, their lives were not their own. Dr. Snee looked around the room and didn't see what gave Katse nightmares. He saw three terrified teenagers scared to death for their brother.
" Why don't you guys go and relax in the room with the couches across the hall."
" But, we..." Ken started.
" We need this room sterile. Which you guys are not." Dr.Snee knew they couldn't argue with logic.
Ryu, Ken and Jun turned to go just as Nambu and Barbara reached the doorway.
"Where is Jinpei?" Jun asked convinced that he was with Hakase.
" He is giving the puppy a bath and then going to sleep. I asked him to do that and he didn't argue."
Before any of the team could speak, Nambu continued.
" I'm ordering all of you to rest. You can't do anything here. No one has had much sleep. Remember, that mecha will be back. I want you all to get a fresh start before it resurfaces."
They all knew just to follow orders. Mostly because Hakase was right. They all told Joe's sleeping form that they would be close and then left the room. Two more doctors, three nurses and a portable cat scan machine took their place.
" I'm going to take a shower and then come back here." Jun said indicating her blood stained birdstyle. " Hakase said we have to rest. He didn't say where." Jun said with a smirk.
Ken and Ryu had to smile at that.
"Sleep-over here in half an hour." Jun said as she headed towards her quarters.
It only took five minutes to realize that they couldn't tell where exactly the fragment was. It was somewhere between Joe's left ear and left cheek bone. The fragment had torn his helmet up enough that the CAT scan was hard to read. They had to get him out of birdstyle.
"Ok. This is what we are going to do." Nambu laid out the best option. They all started prepping for surgery.
Back at the Galactor base:
Katse wanted to hug the Commander. The mole tank had destroyed downtown Utoland and seemingly killed the Condor. The Commander was smiling. Let him. He has actually done good. Better not let him get a swelled head though. Sosai always frowned upon such behavior. Back to business.
"When can the Mole Tank attack again?"
"The repairs will be done just before sunset. Then the Mole Tank will be able to do your bidding sire."
"Rest and prepare for this evening. Then Galactor will show the world what fear is."
Katse got a cheer for that.
"Dismissed." Katse said with a wave of his hand.
Katse went to his quarters to watch the battle tape again. Before he truly celebrated Condor's death, he wanted to make sure he was really dead. A vision of Gatchaman flopped across a bed screaming and crying into a pillow over the death of his teammate kept a smile on Katse face for the moment.
Back at Crescent Coral:
"Ok, Let's begin." Nambu stated.
The OR room cleared out except for Nambu,Joe and Barbara.
"Do you have his head Dr?"
"Yes, Barbara. You can cut the tape now."
As Barbara cut the tape Joe's head settled into Nambu's hands. Nambu could feel Joe's thready pulse against his fingers. He was scared for Joe. No brain injury is good. What would happen if he couldn't be the Condor? Nambu knew that would be the end of Joe.
"Kozaburou, we will fix him. Don't worry."
Nambu opened his eyes and saw Barbara smiling at him.
"Don't ever apologize for your feelings Kozaburou, these are your kids. Especially, this little handful. He will be turning you gray again soon." Barbara said with a smile.
Nambu put his head down and laughed.
Joe's head moved at that point. Barbara rubbed between Joe's shoulders as Nambu talked.
"Joe open your eyes."
Joe did and saw Hakase fully scrubbed and dressed for surgery.
"We are going to remove that fragment but we have to get you out of birdstyle first. I'll be here to keep your head still. Then we are going to have to go into your head and clean it out."
Joe's eyes went wide and Barbara started laughing before Nambu realized what he said.
"Very funny you two. I meant clean out the wound. Barbara get out of here."
Nambu was the only one who could handle being there for the transformation sequence. Joe was giggling again. The laughter on the other side of the door said that Barbara had told everyone.
"Joe are you ready?"
Joe sobered up very quickly. Nambu could see honest fear in his eyes.
"Scared" It took everything Joe had to admit that.
"Don't be. If I saved you before this will be easy. I mean that. " Nambu kissed the end of his beak.
Before Nambu could react Joe swung his left arm.
Nambu kept looking at Joe's head. He could see the fragment through all the swirling colors. As soon as Nambu could, he reached out and supported the fragment sticking out of his son's head. Joe was out again. Nambu wanted to scream but kept his cool.
Everyone was in the hall waiting for Dr. Nambu's signal. The first words out of the OR sent chills down everyone's spine.
" The fragment is buried in his left temple."
They all ran into the room. Nambu was holding the fragment looking furious.
"Katse will pay for this. If it's the last thing I do."
Then they started the surgery.
Chapter 6: "Someone to watch over me." by Dragonsbain
This chapter is dedicated to and inspired by my husband's transplant team. Joe's reactions to anesthesia are a direct rip off of my husbands.
The title for this chapter came from the Gershwin song of the same name. I wrote this chapter to Jean Louisa Kelly's performance of this song.
" Come here girl." Jinpei said as he patted the bed next to him.
The puppy hopped on the bed and sat next to Jinpei.
" We are going to go to sleep." Jinpei said as he yawned.
The puppy answered with her own yawn and stretch. Jinpei scratched behind her ears as she settled down with her tail smacking the comforter.
" When we wake up, Hakase will have Joe ani all fixed up."
Jinpei looked the puppy in the face and continued.
"Joe ani is a great guy. He is going to love you girl. He may act all mean but he really isn't. He can occasionally be a jerk but I guess we all can. He needs a girl to love and take care of. I'm hoping that is you."
Jinpei meant everything he said. Joe would drive him nuts but Jinpei always knew Joe would always be there whenever Jinpei needed him. Jinpei and the puppy crashed into a deep sleep quickly. Jinpei was secure in the knowledge that Hakase would make everything right.
"Should we try and look in?" Ken said as he made up one of the couches into a bed.
" We should find out what's going on." Jun quickly answered.
Ken and Jun started for the door.
" Wait." Ryu said holding up his hand to stop them. At their questioning looks Ryu continued.
" I want to know too but, should we?"
" I don't understand." Ken shot back.
" If we look through that little window all we are going to see is Hakase, the doctors and nurses covered with Joe's blood. With no reference point as to why. Or what's going on. I don't know about you two but my imagination will just run with it. I won't be able to sleep. We still need to deal with that mecha."
Ken and Jun looked at Ryu. He was dressed as they all were, shorts and tee shirts. They were convinced by Ryu's beautiful,open expression and the fact that he looked like a bear ready to hibernate.
" Your right Ryu." Ken said with a stretch. " Anyway, I haven't slept in over 24 hours." Ken stopped to yawn. " Hakase will tell us what's going on when he can."
Ken laid down and got settled on the couch. He still wanted to look but he had to trust Hakase. They all got comfortable and slowly drifted off to sleep.
Katse had been watching the tape of the attack for thirty minutes now. He came to one conclusion. If the Condor wasn't dead, then he was surely incapacitated for the foreseeable future. Katse wanted,no,needed to tell Sosai what had happened. Katse left his quarters with some,hopefully, good news for Sosai.
"Sara, Kathy and Susan I want you to help the research and development lab figure out what went wrong with Joe's helmet. Do you have the metal chip?"
" Yes, Dr. Nambu." All three ladies answered. They then took off for the lab.
" That was smooth Kozaburou." Dr. Snee said with a smile.
Nambu lowered his head and laughed.
" Shut up Harry. I am not going to have three women who start giggling every time Joe is around in here when we have to strip him."
"Don't you trust their professionalism, Kozaburou?" Barb asked with a hint of concern. After all they were her trainees.
"I think they are all bright, intelligent, thoughtful young ladies, Barb. I just don't want to tempt their....hormones. Anyway give them some time to be around him they have only been here a month. They will get over it. Ashley did with Ryu." Nambu stated smiling at one of the nurses in the room.
Ashley smiled and gave a quick bow to Nambu.
"Nicely put." Dr. Snee replied with a smile.
"Ok let's see where the rest of this blood is coming from." Barb said as she handed out three pairs of cutters.
Nambu was still holding the missile fragment waiting for the proper CAT scans to return. He watched as every scrap of fabric was removed from Joe's body. Nambu immediately saw two gashes that needed at least ten stitches to close them. One on Joe's upper left arm and one across his back.
" Oh my God." Ashley gasped.
" What Ash?" Barbara asked.
Barbara came around to Joe's feet and went three shades of white. There was a growing pool of blood coming from Joe's upper right thigh. Both women ran in opposite directions and started gathering supplies.
" Well don't keep it a secret. What do you see?" Nambu asked.
Harry stopped cleaning Joe's back wound and went to see. Harry instinctively winced and curled up a little.
" Kozaburou, another missile fragment either lodged itself high in Joe's thigh or..."
Barbara and Ashley pushed Harry aside to access the wound.
" Kozaburou, hold his head still because we have to shift him a bit." Barbara stated.
Her and Ashley pulled Joe's legs apart as far as they would go. They then immediately attacked the wound.
" you won't have to worry about any little Condors running about." Harry finished.
Nambu had a blank expression on his face. Inside he was screaming. He closed his eyes and tried to focus.
"Barb?" Nambu asked quietly.
He got no answer. Nambu opened his eyes to see the two women searching for the wound and any metal fragments. Nambu could feel his hands trembling.
"Where is that CAT scan?" Nambu asked to the room.
" I'll find out." Harry said.
Ashley and Barb were swabbing blood and going inch by inch over Joe's right thigh and groin.
"Ow. I think I found something metal." Barb said pulling her hands apart. "Ash, get in there."
Ashley carefully felt for the metal shard. It was where Joe's right thigh and groin came together. Barb carefully held Joe aside as Ashley went in.
"Got it." Ashley said going in with tweezers.
Nambu saw and felt Joe's head twitch.
" Don't move! Anyone." Nambu screamed.
Barb and Ashley stopped moving their hands but Joe's thigh kept twitching.
" He isn't all the way under. " Nambu whispered.
The two anesthetists and one anesthesiologist were doing the best they could. Joe was very hard to put under and keep under. The best they could normally do was have him slurring. Joe's system just burned through anesthesia.
" They are bringing the CAT scans now." Harry said as he pulled Joe's eyes open.
Joe's gaze followed his pen light very slowly. The anesthesia team started readjusting Joe's med drips.
" Joe you have to just hold still. You have a metal fragment that we need to get out. If you understand, squeeze Dr. Snee's hand." Nambu said quietly.
Joe's right hand twitched closed. Ashley pulled out a two centimeter metal shard and searched the wound for more. Barb could feel Joe's thigh twitching like mad.
" Sorry Joe, honey. I promise to stop man-handling you as soon as I can." Barbara said through a smile.
Nambu leaned in to Joe's ear and quietly said:" Now is not the time to play shy."
Nambu's and Barb's words had the desired effect. The tension left Joe's body which slowed the bleeding and twitching. Joe's mouth was attempting a smile.
" We will put you all the way under as soon as we get your drips right." Nambu said to Joe's face.
Just then two doctors rushed in holding pictures of Joe's brain.
" Dr.Nambu we have the CAT scans."
"Where is this metal touching his brain?" Nambu asked knowing the weight the answer held.
Harry took the scans and placed them on a screen that Nambu could see. The metal was resting next to his amygdala. Not puncturing it. A bruised amygdala was a lot better brain injury than Nambu was expecting. Joe's head flopped in his hands.
"I think he is out, finally." Nambu stated.
Harry opened Joe's eyes to find they were rolled back.
" He is in la, la land. So, let's get this fragment out of his head and these wounds stitched up." Nambu, happily, stated.
" Hai!, Nambu."
Chapter 7: Calm before the storm by Dragonsbain
"Katse. Let us take advantage of the Condor's accident. When can the mole mecha attack again?"
" At sunset, sire. I have crews repairing it now." Katse was rather shocked, Sosai sounded pleased.
" Good. Go rest till you wake and smash the Science Ninja Team. Do not ruin this opportunity."
" Thank you, sire. I will not fail you." Katse said as he bowed.
Katse went to bed fairly certain that he was on Sosai's good side. That was enough to calm a fused brain.
Sosai felt Katse drift off to sleep. Katse needed his rest. Sosai could only push him so much. Sosai was impatient for his goals to come to fruition. Impatience could not lead to the destruction of his greatest creation, Katse. Katse was Sosai's greatest chance of achieving world domination. So, for today, Sosai would keep the monsters and nightmares, in Katse's brain, quiet.
" For tonight, my beautiful creation, you shall destroy the Science Ninja Team and help me achieve world conquest." Sosai said to Katse's sleeping form.
Nambu looked at the clock. It was 9:45 am. Three and a half hours since the God Phoenix had docked. Wow. What a morning. They had not found any more wounds on Joe since they pulled the metal fragments out of his thigh. Ashley had pulled three of them out. It took a total of sixty stitches to close up Joe's wounds.
Nambu hated finding flaws in the bird styles like this. He preferred to find them in the testing stage. The R&D team was already working on improvements to the teams helmets and a little more protection of his team's " soft parts".
" Too damm close." Nambu whispered as he finished wrapping Joe's head.
" What was that Dr. Nambu?" Ashley asked.
" That wound your wrapping. It is way to close."
" Yes, it is Sir." Ashley answered.
Nambu stepped back from Joe's head and addressed the room.
" Excellent work, everyone. I want to thank you all personally. From myself and the team. Everybody clean up and relax. You all deserve it."
Nambu got Joe to recovery. He wasn't sure if he should stay. He wanted to.
" Dr. Nambu. Why don't you go rest. We will call you if something happens. It will be hours before Joe even thinks of waking up."
Nambu left Joe in the very capable hands of his medical staff. He walked back through the OR room and stopped to think of how many more times this scene would play out before the war was over. Nambu walked out of the OR and across the hallway. He was sure Ken, Ryu and Jun were camping out in one of these rooms.
Nambu cracked open the door and saw three sleeping figures. No noise. No snoring. They were all in a deep sleep. They all looked positively angelic. It was at times like this that he could, almost, forget how deadly they all were. He wanted to cry but was too mad to let any tears from his eyes.
Nambu decided not to disturb them. He scratched a quick note and hung it on the inside of the door.
Joe is in recovery. The surgery went well. I will fill you later. For now just sleep.
Nambu walked to his quarters cursing Katse, in his head, the entire way. He wanted blood. Not only for Joe and the team but for this whole bloody war. Nambu cleaned himself and put on an outfit he thought he would never wear again. Nambu went to his wall safe and pulled out the item that would allow him his revenge.
" Katse, tonight I will make you regret the day you were born."
He sat on the bed and practiced.
First attempt: passed out for 10 minutes.
Second through fifth attempts: threw up repeatedly into waste basket.
Fifth through tenth attempts: buried face in pillow to stifle cry of pain.
By the twentieth attempt Nambu could stand with no ill effects. Nambu stripped and rested.
" Katse, you are mine." Nambu whispered to himself.
Chapter 8: Dance of the Mechas ( Part 1) by Dragonsbain
The battle scene got long so I broke it into sections.
Dr. Nambu awoke about 3pm. He was hoping that the team was still asleep. He packed a small duffle and headed off to the God Phoenix's bay. He really didn't want to be seen,yet. One of the advantages of planning and building the Crescent Coral base was that he knew all the rarely used hallways. He made it to the God Phoenix without seeing a soul. The bay was quiet. All the repairs had been done. Nambu used Ryu's entrance to board. He stuck the duffle in the medical bay, in a locker. No one would see it unless they were looking for it. Nambu got back to his quarters unseen.
The medical bay was quiet. Joe had tried to wake up but couldn't over come the grogginess. His vitals were all good. He was still bleeding a bit from his back and thigh. The wounds would eventually clot. Thankfully, Nambu regularly made the team bank their own blood. Joe had received two units in surgery. His body was still readjusting.
" Hello, everyone." Nambu stated as he entered and headed for Joe's bed.
Ashley went over to greet him.
" Hai.,Dr. Nambu." Ashley stated.
" How's our Condor?"
Ashley handed Nambu Joe's chart. Nambu leafed through as Ashley filled in the rest.
" He tried waking up an hour ago. He could barely focus on me. I told him just to go back to sleep."
" Good Idea. We gave him a massive amount of anesthesia. It will take a while for even him to burn through it. Did you give him something for his stomach? "
" Yes, sir."
" Thank you. He probably needed it."
" Hakase!" Jinpei called.
Nambu turned around to find the rest of the team coming into the medical bay. Jinpei was the only one dressed in his civvies. Ryu, Ken and Jun had just woken up. Hair disheveled and carrying their pillows and blankets. Jinpei ran to Joe's bed and started waving a hand in front of his face.
Nambu walked over to Jun, Ryu and Ken.
" Did you three sleep well?" Nambu asked.
Nambu got a collective " Hai."
" Do you want me to fill you in on what we did to Joe now? Or wait till you shower and wake up?" Nambu asked with a smile on his face.
" Hey, sis." Jinpei waved from Joe's bedside.
Jun gave a quick wave back.
" You might as well tell us now." Jun said with a sigh.
" Joe ani. You awake?" Jinpei said quietly while holding Joe's hand.
" Jinpei, Joe can't fully wake up yet." Ashley offered.
" Why, Ashley?" Jun asked.
" We had to use a lot of anesthesia on him." Ashley answered.
" Even with that he, kind of, woke up in the middle of surgery." Nambu offered.
" Scary." Ken said with a shiver.
" I need to apologize to Joe when he wakes up." Ashley said while blushing.
" You will do no such thing. You were doing your job. He will understand. If he even remembers." Nambu said.
At the questioning looks from the team, Nambu continued.
" Joe has a bruised amygdala. Gashes on his shoulder and back and..." Nambu stopped and covered Jinpei's eyes. " ...this." Nambu pulled back the sheet.
Ken and Ryu had the same reaction. They both curled up and immediately had sympathy pains for their brother.
" What?" Jinpei wined.
" Trust me. You don't want to see this." Jun said.
" The wound is in his thigh. It just looks really bad. I pulled three metal shards from it." Ashley said.
That uncurled Ken and Ryu, a bit. Nambu pulled the sheet back over Joe and released Jinpei.
" Is that what you were doing when he woke up?" Jun asked.
Ashley blushed and nodded. Jun came over and gave her a hug.
" R&D is working on improvements to your helmets and added protection in other areas." Nambu offered.
" I hope so." Ken and Ryu said together.
" Team, you better get ready. I'm sure that Mole Tank will be back." Nambu said.
" Bye, Joe ani. Feel better." Jinpei said as he touched his lips to Joe's cheek.
" Runt germs." Joe said sleepily.
The team gathered around his bed. Joe got his eyes half open and smiled at them.
Nambu took this opportunity to see how Joe was feeling.
" Joe are you in any pain?"
" IIe, Hakase."
" How is your stomach?"
The sound that came out of Joe's mouth indicated that his stomach wasn't doing to great. Nambu figured out that Joe's digestive tract was still sleeping.
" Joe I'll get you some ginger. It always makes my stomach feel better." Jinpei happily said.
Joe grabbed Jinpei's hand and quietly said; " Can't eat yet. But thanks."
Jinpei looked lost and a bit upset. Ashley walked over with a cup and some small sponges.
" Jinpei. Take these over to the sink and put cold water on them. Joe can suck on these."
" Thanks Ashley."
Jinpei hurried over to the sink.
" Good move, Ashley." Jun said with a smile.
Jinpei ran back to Joe's bed and gently started wetting Joe's lips and mouth.
" You feel better Joe ani?"
" Yes, thanks Jinpei. Where is my puppy?" Joe said with a smile.
"I washed her. Then she slept in the bed with me. Then we got up and I took her for a walk." Jinpei paused and pointed to the coral reef above them. " She was chasing a few crabs around. One of them almost got her nose. I told her she wouldn't like that. Then I came inside and Casey in the lab said he would take care of her till we were off the mission."
Joe tried his best to follow Jinpei's rapid explanation through his drug haze. Everyone else just had a smile on their faces. All of them had long ago gotten used to Jinpei's rapid fire speech. The more excited he got the faster his speech was.
" Thank you for looking out for her, Jinpei. I owe you one, runt." Joe said through a smirk.
" Anytime, Joe ani." Jinpei said as he gave Joe a half hug.
Joe looked ready to drop back into sleep. So Nambu decided to get Joe some quiet.
" Ok, team. Let us get ready and let Joe go back to sleep." Nambu said.
"Kick that mole's ass for me." Joe said.
" No problem, bro." Ken said.
Nambu watched them leave. He leaned over Joe's bed and started whispering to him.
" Joe, I'm going with the team."
Joe eyes tried to open wide but couldn't.
" I'm just getting a bit of cabin fever. I'll be just fine. Anyway what we pulled out of you was that whisker metal. I want to run a few scans before we destroy that mole. Ok?"
Joe's expression calmed and he closed his eyes. Nambu kissed the top of his head.
" So don't give the girls any trouble." Nambu said through a smile.
" Me, never." Joe whispered as he fell back into sleep.
( And Daddy is going to bring you Katse's head on a silver platter.) Nambu thought as he turned to go.
" Dr. Nambu?"
" Nani, Ashley."
" Why did you put the focus on Joe's thigh wound when his head wound is the important one?"
" If I made a big deal of his head wound, everyone would fret and worry. That would make Joe start manifesting symptoms to fit the injury."
" Just like when med students seem to get every disease in the book." Ashley offered.
" Exactly. Now we can now safely see what changes he goes through. I hope he avoids most of them. He is horrible about telling anybody that he is hurting."
" I'm sure if we keep an eye on him he won't be able to hide much."
" I truly hope your right Ashley. "
" Or he can actually start telling you what is wrong." Ashley said with a grin.
Nambu started quietly laughing.
" You believe in miracles, don't you? Berg Katse will surrender first."
" Your right, Doctor."
Nambu left to get ready to battle the mole.
Katse, being a light sleeper, was up by 2 pm. He felt good. His commanders were ready for him with damage reports,death tolls and buildings destroyed.
" What is the target for tonight, sire?" the mole commander asked.
" How about the oil refinery just outside Utoland? I'm in the mood a bonfire." Katse said as he sipped his tea.
" Very good, sire. I will make the preparations." the Commander said with a bow.
Katse was in the mood for a good fight. As much as he despised the KNT, he actually enjoyed their battles. They were excellent advisories. Katse once read that a warrior's true potential can only be achieved when fighting an equally great enemy. Those children had proved themselves to be that great enemy.
Katse hoped he had the advantage. They would be one psychotic Condor short. He wanted to give Sosai this victory. Then came the drudgery of claiming the Earth for Gallactor. Katse moaned thinking of all the bureaucratic bs it would take.
Oh well, when one is ruler of a planet, you can always give the paperwork to others.
Katse smiled to himself and went to prepare his mecha.
5:30 pm Crescent Coral base Command Center
" Dr. Nambu the earthquakes have started again."
" Has anyone spotted the mole yet?"
" Not yet."
" It is probably the mole again. Give the order to launch, Hakase."
" Are you all ready?" Nambu asked his team.
" Hai, Hakase." they answered in unison.
" Dr. Nambu! The mole has been spotted heading for the oil refinery."
" Launch, the God Phoenix. I pray for your success." Nambu said.
The team saluted him and left for the God Phoenix's bay. It was a 5 minute trip. They all boarded. The team nearly jumped out of their birdstyles when Nambu emerged from the medial bay and stated:
" Hi, team. I'm coming with you."
They all looked a bit confused but stated:
" Hai, Hakase."
Chapter 9: Dance of the Mechas (Part 2) by Dragonsbain
Becky: Thank you for Beta Reading this section.
Sorry it took so long to post this. Some explanation for the chapter.
(Bird's Head Tachi is a variation of the Efu tachi and were carried as court swords during many periods of Japanese history.)
A hira shurkin is a throwing star.
Nambu settled into the chair in front of the small view screen .
" We pulled some of that Whisker metal out of Joe. I want to scan the Mole mecha before you guys destroy it. I want to see if the entire mecha is Whisker or is Galactor just tipping their missiles with it." Nambu stated in his calm, teaching voice.
" Hai, Hakase." Ken stated.
Ryu pulled the God Phoenix out of it's bay and into the beautiful ocean. The team could spend hours watching the fish parade by. Nambu noticed the looks on their faces and smiled. Nambu could now see why they occasionally got very distracted when doing underwater patrols. The sun was harsh, by comparison, when they broke through the waves.
The team noticed the black smoke in the distance and instantly hardened into their KNT personas.
" Jun, can you get me an exact location of the mole?" Ken asked.
" 141.32 degrees East Longitude. 36.79 degrees North Latitude."
" Ryu. Can you bring us up behind it?"
" Sure can Ken."
Nambu noticed how the God Phoenix seemed to be as light as a butterfly under Ryu's control.
" Hakase. Please get your scan ready. You probably have no more than 20 seconds before the mole notices us."
" Thank-you, Ken."
Nambu noticed how the command tone disappeared from Ken's voice when speaking to him. Nambu appreciated that giving of respect. Even though he had every right to use it, in this situation. They finally saw the burning refinery. Thankfully, the mole's head was down. Nambu let loose with five different scans at once. The data they generated would help the ISO immensely. Nambu was given 13 seconds before they were spotted.
As the mole turned around, Jinpei decided to address Katse.
" Hello, you pointy eared freak. I'm here to kick your ass in the name of my ani, Joe."
Jun was quick with the swat to his helmet.
" Watch your language, Jinpei."
" That is perfectly ok, Jun. He is just venting." Nambu said. He had known for a long time that Jinpei's language was just as bad as Joe's. Considering what Jinpei could do, swearing was minor.
" There is the Science Team Ninja. Should I destroy them, Lord Katse? " the Mole Commander asked.
( No I want you to invite them to dinner.) Katse thought.
" Yes. Please make them part of all this flaming mess." Katse said as he indicated the destruction on the view screen.
The Mole Commander knelt down between the mecha's drivers and quietly gave them their orders. The Commander turned around, bowed to Katse and gestured towards the screen.
(This better be good.) Katse thought.
The Mole Tank hadn't moved in over 30 seconds. It was crouched over looking over it's left shoulder.
" Why hasn't it moved,Ken." Ryu asked. His fingers ready to move the God Phoenix.
" I don't know. But they are up to something, Ryu. Jun. You got anything?"
" No. It's readings haven't changed."
" It's stuck." Jinpei laughed.
" No, it's not...Evasive maneuvers!" Ken shouted.
Ryu brought the God Phoenix down under the arc of the flaming oil tank that the mole had pitched over it's left shoulder. Ryu brought the God Phoenix around and buzzed it's head. Ken, Jun and Jinpei picked themselves off the floor and belted themselves into their seats. Nambu wanted to comment about how he taught them to buckle up during battle but thought the better of it when he looked at their faces.
" I think we pissed them off. Keep it up Commander." Katse said through a smile.
For the next minute the Mole Tank kept pitching flaming debris at the God Phoenix and Ryu kept dodging it.
" Let's bird missile it and go home." Ryu suggested.
Ken was quietly thinking. Nambu watched Ken mentally drop into his own space. Nambu realized this is what Jinpei referred to as " Ken putting a shield up around himself".
" We need to lead it away from the remains of the oil refinery then blow it up. Somewhere open. No people."
" Ok. Where Ken?" Ryu asked.
" Over that hill is a huge soybean field. If the farmer isn't working that would do." Jun suggested.
" Ok, Ryu. Get the Mole Tank to chase you. Then head for that field."
" Hai! Ken." Ryu answered with a smile on his face. He just loved buzzing Katse's mecha.
" Here they come again. Get another piece of debris ready. Bounce it off their nose." Katse said.
The crew found a nice piece of pipe and got ready to toss it at the God Phoenix.
Ryu flew right under the pipe and came up inside the arms of the Mole Tank. Before the Mole could bear hug the Phoenix, Ryu flew straight up and over it's head.
Anyone not in a seat on the command center of the Mole hit the floor. A general " What the hell? " rang around the room.
Ryu turned around behind the Mole's head and hovered over the top of it. Everyone could see he was quickly calculating a maneuver. Ryu flew out over the Mole's face and dropped till he was almost sitting on it's nose. With the hill in front of him he hit the afterburners.
Katse saw the Phoenix drop from over their head and sit on their nose.Before Katse could say or think anything the view screen was filled with fire. For the next ten seconds chaos reigned on the Mole. Katse got his bearings and shouted:
" They can't fire backwards. We just got a face full of afterburn. After them!"
There was much laughter on the bridge of the God Phoenix. Ken was slapping Ryu on the shoulder.
" That was a great move. Never saw that one coming." Ken laughed.
" Thanks everyone. Are they following us?"
" Wait. Katse is probably screaming at them. Here they come." Jun said.
The God Phoenix crested the hill and started scanning.
" No one around for miles." Jun said.
" Good. We will drop that Mole here then." Ken said.
Nambu was quietly watching his team work. They had probably forgotten he was there. He would have liked Joe to be here. The dynamic was totally different now. Not better, just different. He would love to see the entire team working together.
Katse had charged over the hill looking for the God Phoenix. It was hovering over the middle of a field of soybeans.
" Flame roasted birds over edamame. Sounds great. Kill them!" Katse ordered.
Ken stood over the red button waiting for the right moment.
" Closer. Come on." Ken whispered.
Katse saw them hovering and suddenly realized what they were doing.
" They are going to bird missile us! Dig!" Katse shouted.
Ken fired the missile just as the mole dove into the ground. The bird missile took out part of the hillside.
" Damm!" Ken shouted.
Suddenly Nambu was right behind Ryu.
" Follow it Ryu." Nambu ordered.
" But the God Phoenix can't dig. Hakase." Ryu answered very confused.
" You don't have to. Go in the hole it creates and get under it's tail. Trust me, we will fit. Do it now, Kudasai."
Ryu looked to Ken. Ken looked confused but shook his head yes.
" Strap in everyone." Ken ordered.
Ryu dove into the hole left by the mole. He gunned the engines slightly to catch up with it. He flew right under the Mole's tail. He tried not to look around at all the Earth wanting to collapse on his beautiful ship. They were traveling about five minutes when the mole slowed down.
" Shit!" Ryu screamed as he slowed down just in time to miss hitting the Mole's rear.
He didn't hear any of the soothing comments his teammates were telling him. It was just him, the Mole tank and the 5 meters that separated the two. Come on. Take me to your den. Ryu got his wish two minutes later. The mole came to a dead stop. There was a great trembling in the tunnel.
( Please no. Don't let my beautiful ship get buried.) Ryu was screaming, in his head. The falling rock bouncing off the ship did not help calm anyone. A sliver of white light pierced the blue glow surrounding the Mole. Pretty soon it was flooding the tunnel.
The Mole moved slowly moved in. The hanger for the mole mecha was enormous.
" Ryu, head for that dark corner." Ken ordered.
Nambu quietly watched the small screen in front of him. There was nothing in that corner of the hanger. He was hoping that the commotion of the mole tank would cover their descent and landing. Ryu eased the God Phoenix down without incident.
"Excellent navigating, Ryu." Nambu rose from his seat to shake Ryu's hand.
" Thank-you Hakase."
Ryu was trembling a bit. Nambu had truly pushed Ryu's comfort zone. Nambu knew that Ryu could do it even if Ryu didn't. Nambu turned to address the team.
" I hope that I have proved to you all that the God Phoenix can be squeezed into tighter spaces than you all realized."
"Hai, Hakase." the team responded.
" Good. Now how about all of you go and destroy this base. After Jun accesses the mainframe."
Jun, Jinpei and Ken turned to go, with big smiles.
" I do believe I said everyone." Nambu reiterated looking at Ryu.
" But someone needs to stay with the ship." Ken and Ryu said together.
Nambu motioned for Ken to come closer and Ryu to stand up. When they were standing together, Nambu walked behind them and Gibbs slapped both of their helmets. Nambu walked in front of them and stated:
" I'm sorry. I didn't quite hear that."
Nambu flashed both of them an evil grin. To Ryu's credit, the dawning light of the idea hit his eyes before Ken's. Jun and Jinpei were badly attempting to stifle their laughter.
"Sorry, Hakase. The four of us will infiltrate this Galactor base. Recover some files and then eliminate this base." Ken stated with a bow.
" I have the timed explosives ready." Jun stated.
" How long are they set for?" Nambu asked.
"Twenty minutes Hakase."
" Please set them just before you leave. To give Ryu time to get us out of here." Nambu stated.
" Hai, Hakase!"
The team disappeared through the top dome. All four of them were out of the hanger in under 30 seconds.
"Well it's now or never." Nambu said quietly.
He moved his communication watch to his right wrist. He took out his bracelet and placed it on his left wrist. Nambu quickly changed into his white kimono and boots. The kimono was simple and elegant. It had three Kanji words diagonally across the back. Knowledge, Truth and Serenity. They were embroidered in black with red shadows. The same design was on the sleeve cuffs. Power on the left and Accuracy on the right. Nambu wrapped his waist with a belt that matched the kimono. Nambo took a moment to center himself.
At least, two dozen Galactor troops were repairing the mole tank. Nambu jumped to the wing and then landed softly on the floor. All the repairs were covering his exit out of the hanger. Nambu ran down a hall and under a stairwell to get his bearings. A couple of goons passed by calmly. Which told Nambu that the team hadn't been discovered yet.
The team had made it to the central control rooms. Thankfully, the hanger level of the base was a floor above the control rooms so the team could look down on Katse and the Commander talking. Ken motioned for Jun and Jinpei to move towards the computer.
Ken and Ryu watched as Jun and Jinpei flew silent as snowflakes to the floor. Jun hid behind the racks of server towers as Jinpei crawled forward enough to pop one of the panels open. Jinpei froze as a goon walked straight by him. Without noticing Jinpei or the popped panel, the goon proceeded with his patrol. The whole team released a collective breath.
" That was too close." Ryu whispered.
Ken nodded in agreement. Jinpei hooked up the cable and stayed still. Jun was at the other end downloading as much information as her tiny tape drive would hold. The signal Jinpei was waiting for was two light tugs on the cable.
Katse and the Commander were hunkered over the map table discussing their next target. The team had long ago learned to tune out any idle chit chat that Katse did.
Ken and Ryu noted the attack targets. Even if this base ceased to exist, Katse wanted to destroy those targets. Ken and Ryu's eyes were scanning the room for any threats to Jun and Jinpei. As an info gathering mission this was pretty dull. Katse and the Commander were the only two in the room. There were two goons guarding the door. This was a cakewalk.
Jun's hands started to buzz. The tape drive was full. So far, so good. Jinpei felt the cord move and quietly disconnected the cable and closed the panel. He joined Jun behind the towers. Jun planted one of the timed explosives on the back of a tower. They both flew to the top of the towers and then up to the balcony to join Ken and Ryu.
Ken was mildly shocked. They would actually get out without a fight. That is when Ryu noticed something happening at the door.
" Hey, guys." Ryu whispered.
They all heard a very muffled struggle at the door.
(Who the...) Ken thought.
The team had to keep themselves quiet when they saw who walked through the door.
Nambu was in ornate kimono carrying a dead goon. Nambu threw the goon so that he landed right in the middle of the map table. Katse and the Commander both hit the floor waiting for the Science Ninja Team to land. When nothing happened Katse cautiously moved. He looked to his Commander and saw a five pointed hira shrunken embedded in the base of his skull. The growing blood pool told Katse that the Commander was dead.
"So, which one of you kids got the new toy?" Katse asked as he slowly started getting up. "Come on speak up. Be proud, that was a great shot."
Katse got to his knees and looked up to see Dr. Nambu starring at him.
( What is Nambu doing here? Why isn't he in a suit?) Katse thought. Wanting to get control of this situation, Katse walked up to Nambu and gave a short bow.
" Dr. Nambu it's a pleasure."
" It won't be in a minute." Nambu stated with a wild grin on his face.
Katse's instinct to run was overridden by his curiosity as to what was going to happen next. He was expecting Gatchaman and his band of idiots to appear any minute. Katse always wanted to get at least a few verbal jabs in before he escaped.
" What is he doing ani?" Jinpei said.
" I don't know but let's not move yet." Ken whispered.
Katse was too busy looking for the team to notice Nambu raising his left arm to his face.
" Bird Go!" Nambu boomed. Katse ducked and covered his eyes against the swirling colors.
The team were too shocked to say or do anything.
Katse felt himself lifted and thrown onto the map table next to the dead guard. Katse saw Nambu's eyes full of rage behind a black tinted beak. As bad as Nambu felt, he was quietly thanking himself for transmuting twenty times earlier. Nambu jumped on top of the table and kicked off the dead goon. Katse had a very murderous Red Crowned Crane standing over him.
Katse had to admit it was a elegant birdstyle. Katse wondered how just three colors could frame a body so beautifully. Each leg was drenched in black from the crest of his hips to the bottom of his boots. The middle third of each wing had fluttering black feathers. Black wrapped his neck and tapered over his ears. Ending, finally, in a long, pointed crystalline black beak. Most of the birdstyle was in a snow white. His forehead sported a deep blood red spot. Nambu's birdstyle had a double wing layer. Actually, it was a cape with a second layer of fabric feathers over it. Each feather was separate. So his birdstyle could ruffle.
Katse watched as Nambu's face dropped the mask of the controlled scientists, mentor, and public face of the KNT. What took it's place was primal, protective and dark. Katse was too fascinated to realize he should run. Regular humans intrigued Katse. Katse was human, genetically. His emotions were a roller coaster on bad days and settled to a simmering tea kettle on good days. He was envious of his men being able to have true happiness and peace. He watched Nambu to see what he would do next.
Nambu watched as Katse's face changed to one of a curious child.
(How screwed up mentally are you, Katse? That you would stay and study me rather than run?) Nambu thought.
The team watched as the two men just stared at each other. It seemed like an eternity but it was only two minutes since Hakase had entered the room. Jinpei looked like he wanted to speak but Ryu pinched his lips together and shook his head no. Ken turned his head and shrugged his shoulders. Jun was the only one that kept her eye on her timer. Eighteen minutes till the bomb took out this room and two others.
" Do you know how many people you have killed?" Nambu growled.
Katse's eyes rolled up in his head as if he were reading a spread sheet.
" 967,213 I do believe."
Nambu was impressed. The ISO and UN were, at least, keeping the death tolls correct.
" How many more bodies do you need before you stop?"
Nambu sounded a bit calmer. The team was waiting for the other shoe to drop.
" Just 5. The rest of the Science Ninja Team, Gatchaman and you." Katse said with a smirk.
"You know we are not that stupid. Once we are gone you are going to destroy everything. You know we will fight till the last person on Earth. So Katse," Nambu narrowed his gaze and spat the next words out. "it comes down to who wants Earth more. You or us. I'm putting my money on us."
" Dear Dr. Nambu I was created and chosen by Sosai X to give him this planet. He shall get it. I'm being practical. One can not disappoint one's God. You and your flock of birdies are the only thing that is in my way. So just give up now and I will let your other four live."
Katse expected Nambu's expression to show something with that statement. Katse saw nothing so he continued.
" I would have liked to have all six of you alive to train my rather inept troops. Sorry my Commander was a bit too trigger happy. Don't worry. My men will fear the Condor name till the end of their days. I think he would approve. "
" Sixteen minutes. Hurry up Hakase." Jun whispered.
The team was waiting for his response.
Nambu's head tilted back with his eyes closed. His head rolled between his shoulders and gave his wings a mighty shake. Katse instantly froze in fear. The team could not see inside Nambu's wings. Katse wished he couldn't either. Nambu had two Bird's head Tachi, one for each wing.
Nambu lowered the blades till Katse could feel them lightly caressing his torso.
" You were the cause of me having to take five akachan and turn them into killing machines."
Katse's mind was all over the map. He couldn't think straight. Anything he said would just make things worst.
" You did it. Why blame me?"
Nambu let out a scream of rage. The team all cringed reflectively. None of them had ever heard such a sound come out of Hakase's mouth. It rightly scared all of them, especially Katse. Nambu dragged the two swords across Katse's body. They weren't deep cuts but he was bleeding. Katse let out a strangled whine.
" Silence!" Nambu ordered.
Ken got a hold of himself and started watching the door. Somebody had to hear that. The goons had to be coming. Ryu motioned for them to fly down and cover the door. Ken just wanted to sit still for now.
" I have 5 time bombs on my hands. They will never be normal. If I kill you now I can, maybe, let them have a somewhat normal life."
Katse realized that Nambu was not only yelling at him but at the ISO? Or whoever made him create the KNT. Nambu said five. Condor wasn't dead. Great, another problem.
" Have you ever watched the light of life slowly flicker to embers in someone's eyes? Huh, Katse. "
Katse was afraid to speak. He just shook his head no. He hated getting yelled at like this. The only one who Katse allowed to treat him this way was Sosai.
" Of course you wouldn't. What would you care? I've seen you sacrifice thousands of men for nothing more than canon fodder."
"I have not!!!" Katse screamed. " Sosai's order's."
Nambu starred at Katse with pure contempt. Katse was losing it. Stress always had a tendency to trigger him.
"Did you not give the orders?" growled Nambu.
Nambu saw Katse's eyes change. For an instant, Katse's eyes teared up. But then a cold, manic look took over.
" They know what they were hired for Nambu! They are willing to die to achieve Galactor's goal!" Katse screamed.
"What do they mean to you?" Nambu quietly stated.
Katse went blank.
"I though so. They are nothing but parts of the machine. If one part breaks, toss it aside and get another one."
"That's about right." Katse proudly stated.
The team was watching the door. Ryu and Jinpei signaled that they had heard something. Four figures floated silently to the floor. Jinpei crouched down and peeked around the door. Three goons were thirty yards away listening. Jinpei held up three fingers of his left hand. Ken turned towards Nambu and willed him not to make a sound. He didn't want to say it. The team was convinced that Nambu and Katse were in their own world now. So any quiet attempt at communication would not be heard anyway. Jun pointed at her timer. Fourteen minutes to go.
Nambu was studying Katse's face. He wanted to make the next statement crush or at least confuse Katse.
" You won't understand this but I'll tell you it anyway. I have accepted the fact that my flock, as you call them, will hate me once this war is over. That is my punishment for doing what I have done and allowed to be done to them. I refused to allow myself to think of them as just weapons to be used. No matter who told me to."
Jinpei motioned that the goons were turning around. The team breathed a sigh of relief.
" I didn't..." Katse squeaked.
"Shut up and listen!" Nambu bellowed.
(Good going Hakase.) thought Jinpei. As he saw the goons turn back and head for them. The team got ready to fight.
" I have worried and wept over my team. That makes me a stronger, better leader than you will ever be."
The goons were now ten yards away.
" I'm keeping my humanity alive as a shield to protect theirs. My efforts will, hopefully, allow them to rebuild themselves emotionally. There will be a life for them after Galactor."
The room went from almost dead still to utter chaos in under ten seconds. The three goons looked in the room to find a big Crane hovering over a bleeding Katse. One of the goons asked:
This was enough to penetrate the attentions of both Katse and Nambu. They both turned to see the three guards in the door and the KNT hugging the wall. Katse screamed:
"Kill them all!!"
The confusion on the goons faces told Katse they hadn't seen the team yet. Before Katse could say anymore, the team jumped the three goons. To an outsider, the ninjas were deadly. The team knew they were fighting blind. Just as the goons appeared the entire team was focused on Hakase and his words. They were all letting their minds run and the result was blinding them for a moment.
The three goons saw through all the hype and bravado of the Science Ninja Team. They were just kids with deadly toys and skills. The tears in all of their eyes wouldn't let them be any more. The entire way to defeat the KNT lived and died in the minds of the goons.
The team took out their pain on the goons and left their tears with the three dead bodies.
"Hakase! Twelve minutes!" Jun screamed.
Katse saw his chance to run. He kicked straight up. He wanted to see Nambu writhing in pain on the floor. Nambu felt Katse start to move and jumped straight up missing the kick. Nambu saw the fury in Katse's face, as he momentarily hung over him. Katse turned and flew off the table.
" Oh no you don't!" screamed Nambu.
Katse turned and saw only two blades and Nambu's face twisted in rage. He reached his escape panel and it closed behind him. Then he noticed a sharp pain on the top right of his head. Katse could feel the change starting. His last thought was:
( Not here please. Not now.) Then Katse's vision faded to black.
" Let's move. Set the charges behind me." Nambu ordered as he picked up the top left side of Katse's head dress and started for the door.
" Katse's a blond."
Nambu stated as he bit down on the ear and lead the team to the hanger bay with two blades leading the way.
Chapter 10: Dance of the Mechas ( Part 3) by Dragonsbain
I've tried to separate what is happening to the team from what is happening to Sosai and Katse. They are both happening at the same time. Enjoy.
Nambu stopped at the door to the room and retracted his blades. He could leave Katse's headdress in his teeth. The psychological impact was limitless to the Galactor goons. But, he needed to breathe, unimpeded, to fight his best. He tucked the piece into the back of his belt. Hopefully, he wouldn't lose it. He was going to present it to Joe then study it. It was full of Katse's DNA. He turned to see Jinpei, Ryu, Jun and Ken behind him. Their eyes were full of questions.
" I promise that we can all talk when we get back home. Ok?" Nambu said.
The team nodded. They still looked shocked.
" What are you so surprised about. When I said I tested the equipment that you use, I meant it."
Ken and Ryu were pointing to their arms with a, please can I, look in their eyes.
" No you guys can't have swords. My weapons." Nambu said through a smile.
" Damm!" Ken and Ryu whined.
Jinpei walked up to Nambu and looked him in the face. Nambu could see him studying his eyes.
" What is the matter, Jinpei?" Nambu asked.
" No offense, Hakase. But, can you see to do this?"
The rest of the team were wondering the same thing. Jinpei was the only one brave enough to ask. Nambu smiled and held up his head. Jinpei looked through Hakase's beak.
" Wow. You are blind. That would make my head hurt." Jinpei found himself in a headlock with Hakase playing a samba on his helmet.
" My beak is the same prescription as my glasses. So I can see just fine. Anything else? We have a battle to fight."
The team shook their heads no. Jinpei had turned into a giggling mass of swallow by the time Nambu released him.
" Jun, Ryu I'm sorry I took so much time. How much do we have left?" Nambu said.
Jun looked at her timer.
" Ten minutes, Hakase. The other charges are still at twenty minutes. So this area will go up in ten. Then the others will still give us time to escape."
" Thanks, Jun. Ok. I will clear the way. You guys set the charges. Also, please don't let me drop this. We need to study it." Nambu flipped up his wings so they could see the headdress. " Everybody ready?"
" Hai!, Hakase."
Nambu closed his eyes, drew in a deep breath and raised his arms over his head. He looked like he was about to dive. Nambu dropped his arms and opened the blades as he released his breath.
" He is centering himself, I think." Ken whispered. The team nodded.
Nambu leapt into the hallway,arms swinging. Two goons hit the floor with their throats cut open. The team came through the door following Hakase. Nambu had made it to the end of the corridor. He was waving them on.
"Katse, wake up." Sosai had felt pure panic come through his link with Katse. Now Sosai could get nothing. Which meant Katse had passed out. Sosai could only do so much through his links with the Galactor troops. Sosai concentrated on and strengthened his link with Katse.
Ken was a bit lost. He was normally in the lead. Ken finally got to see the trail of bleeding and broken bodies. Was this what Joe always harassed him about? While Ken was up front acting like some insane gymnast the rest of his team was wading through the gore he created protecting his tail feathers. The Great Gatchaman got all the glory and Ryu, Jinpei, Jun and Joe got all the crap. He felt horrible. He would have to talk to his team and apologize to his friends. Sometimes the greatest insights happen in the stupidest places.
" Ani. Come on." Jinpei was pushing on his beak.
" Sorry." Ken ran down the corridor to catch up.
Jun was waving the timer as he approached. Six minutes before the first charges blew. Hakase was about thirty yards ahead of them. They were far enough away from the command center and it's blast zone to start setting charges again. No use wasting any.
Ryu was shoving a door open because of the shear amount of electrical conduits entering the room from the celling. Galactor built bases to be functional not pretty. The team regularly used this fact to find power hubs, information centers and so on. Ryu got through the door and disposed of the two goons stationed there. He had found the power center.
" Right on, Ryu." Ken said as Ryu and Jun flew around the room placing charges.
Sosai occasionally regretted the mental outcome of merging fraternal twins. There were two psyches. The only thing that was certain was that Katse's female form triggered the brain to support a 280 IQ. The rest was up in the air. Now Katse was a blank. Sosai could tell that stress had triggered a gender shift. He understood and could relate better to Katse as a female. Sosai had to wake her and alert the base.
Ken, Jun and Ryu stepped back out to the corridor looking for Hakase and Jinpei. Jun spotted them a few meters from the end of the corridor. By the time they had caught up to Hakase and Jinpei, the team could hear them both laughing. Jinpei emerged from Hakase's wings stifling giggles. Before anyone could speak, Nambu quieted them with a sign. Hakase pointed to his eyes and then pointed around the corner. Nambu silently counted to three and took off. Jinpei started his own silent count.
Nambu burst into a large intersection of four corridors. There were five goons that were surprised and shocked by a large Crane whirling blades. Two of the goons went down before they could move.
"Ten, eleven" Jinpei kept his eyes glued on Hakase.
One of the goons got behind Nambu in an attempt to grab him. Nambu shot both blades backwards and skewered him. Nambu pulled one blade out and brought the other around. The blade released it's prey on top of the other two goons.
"Fifteen, sixteen" Jinpei crouched like he was ready to run.
Nambu sliced open one of the remaining goons and knelt down. Jinpei reached twenty and took off. Jinpei's bolo killed the last goon. Nambu had curled into a ruffling lump on the floor. Jinpei ran straight up Hakase's back and perched on his shoulders as Nambu stood up. Jinpei and Nambu both crouched and jumped at the same time. Jinpei was launched from Nambu's shoulders. Nambu landed gracefully on the floor as Jinpei spun on a pipe six meters over head.
Jinpei flew up another three meters and stood on a large pipe. Jinpei was stareing at a massive electrical hub. Nambu was looking up waiting for a signal from Jinpei. After prying open the hub, Jinpei looked down with a smile and wildly started gesturing. Nambu had taught them all sign language. Easy to communicate without giving away your position. All you needed was line of sight. After about a minute of signing back and forth, Jinpei started cutting wires. Jinpei finished and flew to the floor.
"You two are just evil." Jun stated through a smile. Ken, Ryu and Jun could only read about half of what Jinpei did. He signed like he talked, very fast.
"Nani? You guys don't do stuff like this all the time. Anyway, it will help with our escape. It is all logical." Nambu said.
"Katse, wake up pet. Time to go." Sosai was doing two things at once. Ninety percent of his brain was with Katse. The other ten percent was establishing a link with the base commander. Time to project myself, Sosai thought. Sosai never panicked but he was very concerned. Katse was not responding, thus must be injured, badly.
The team realized that Hakase was having fun. They hadn't seen this side of him in over five years. They had never seen him in birdstyle before but his fighting moves were the same. He used to delight in throwing Ken, Ryu and Joe around the gym. He was teaching them but also goading them on. As soon as the team could best him, he turned them over to some teachers that Nambu, at his finest, couldn't beat.
"We have three minutes. Let's move." Nambu said smiling at the celling.
Katse could feel someone shaking her. Sosai had crawled into Katse's aura. His power was great enough to do this. Sosai could manipulate the air to touch and poke. At this distance he couldn't physically move her.
The base commander was quite shocked to see Sosai on the monitor. The commander and all the staff hit the floor in deference to Sosai.
"Get up you fools. What is going on there?" Sosai roared.
"Sosai. Is that you? Where am I?" Katse whispered. Sosai turned his focus back to Katse. Sosai appeared to her.
"Nothing Sosai. The base is operating normally." The Commander stated.
"Check again." Sosai ordered. The Commander scrambled to organize his troops to search the base. Sosai was never wrong.
"Katse, please follow me." Katse by pure will crawled behind Sosai. Sosai could feel his connection to her fading. Sosai projected a hand to her. Katse gingerly took it. Sosai lead her to the escape chute. Katse froze at the top of the slide. Katse slipped into a nightmare.
The team took off towards the hanger bay. It looked like they would make it to the hanger before they would have a big fight. Better to avoid it. Wastes too much time. Nambu was still in the lead. Ken had started to relax and appreciate the mop up position. He could see how well his team worked.
Not all of Katse's host families had treated him well. One of his foster fathers threw Katse out of a second storied window for changing gender in front of him when Katse was ten. Katse broke her left arm and right leg. Sosai had the man killed and Katse brought to him. Now Katse was convinced that it was happening again. Katse was curled up sobbing and pleading for her life. Sosai had no time to convince Katse otherwise.
Ken wouldn't allow himself to feel the "warm, fuzzy" feeling that was trying to engulf him. He could have it when they were all safe. Ken saw a flash of green to his left. His birdrang laid it still.
Jun and Ryu turned around and whispered: "We miss something?"
Ken holstered the birdrang and whispered: " Missed one. He was a stray. No problem."
Jun and Ryu gave Ken a quick thank you bow. Nambu looked at his team and signed: "Boom."
"I'll take you away from all this. Would you like to live with me Katse?"
"Yes please." Katse pleaded.
"Jump. I'll catch you. I won't drop you." Sosai never allowed himself to be tender towards Katse but she was responding. Katse jumped into Sosai's arms and quickly passed out.
The first charge went off and alarms woke up all over the base. Ken, Jun and Ryu ducked under their wings not wanting to get soaked. Jinpei and Nambu just looked and smiled. No water or fire suppressant. Jinpei had cut the wires for the fire system. The only places that were getting wet were in a line between them and the rest of the base. So anyone coming after the team would be drenched. Unless they were already in the hanger. The team had to hide in a small room as a bunch of goons came to fight the fire.
Nambu was watching as chaos filled the hanger. The Galactor troops were asking where Katse was. No one knew. At a snide comment from a guard, one of the commanders slapped him. The guard kneeled apologizing profusely. The commander kicked him in the face and then shot him. The team winced and Nambu bowed his head thinking (that's why I'm better). He gathered them in his wings and said:
" We have to either open the hanger doors or smash through them. Let's try and find the switch." The team split up. They were sneaking around the walls trying to find something to open the massive hanger door.
Chapter 11 Dance of the Mechas (Part 4) by Dragonsbain
Time to wrap this battle up. Enjoy!
" Ryu. Come here." Nambu whispered.
Truth be told, Nambu could have yelled and no Galactor would have noticed. Ryu turned around because he heard something. Nambu was waving him over. Ryu crawled back along the wall to Nambu who was hiding behind some storage crates.
" This is useless. It is probably in a control room getting flooded with water now."
" Hakase. Don't get frustrated."
Nambu wanted to believe that they could open the doors. There were five of them trained to look for such things. After five minutes, nothing. Nambu started tapping his bracelet. Around the hanger, three birds pulled their wings about them and watched a tiny light blink.
Go to ship. Wasting time looking for switch. Ten minute boom. Ram door and then go. Copy?
Nambu had to keep it simple. It was Morse Code. Nambu watched as first the Swallow, then the Eagle and the Swan acknowledged. Nambu and Ryu started for the ship and were interrupted by Sosai.
Katse's jump into Sosai's arms was really a slide into the back of the escape craft. It was not dignified but Katse would survive. Sosai could pilot the ship back to Galactor headquarters. With Katse safe, he could turn his attention back to the base. Sosai's enraged voice filled the base's communication system.
" Attention you poor excuse for troops. You have all failed me again. Worst, Katse has been wounded. Since Katse is coming to me, I have no more use for this base."
Everyone had gone silent and still. The only sound was that of the fire alarms. Then the smarter of the troops started to run for the Mole Mecha.
" Thank you for your servitude. You have ten minutes to live." Sosai's laugh was harsh and belittling.
The team all bolted for the ship. Jinpei was there first. He stood on the left wing looking around for everyone. He spotted Jun and Ken. They joined him on the wing. Jinpei was shaking, badly.
" Was that Leader Sos.." Jinpei was fighting tears.
" Jinpei. What is wrong? Why are you so freaked out?" Jun wrapped him in her wings.
Ken got into the group hug. He was concerned. Jinpei never freaked out like this.
Jinpei pulled himself together enough to talk.
" Remember when we were taught that you could feel, see things when someone talked."
Ken and Jun reached back into their body language classes. Jinpei seemed to be super tuned to what people were feeling when they spoke.
" Yes, Jinpei. Go on." Jun prodded him.
" Well he..it isn't here so I shouldn't be able to see and I saw pure black. There is nothing good, no light. I can see light in Katse! And he is evil.If Katse is evil..."
Jinpei broke into sobs. Nambu and Ryu were listening from a meter or so away.
" Jinpei. I'm sorry you had to experience that." Nambu said quietly.
Ryu walked behind Jun. Jun backed into Ryu's strong arms. Ryu's hug was just what Jun needed to calm herself. Ken moved so that Hakase could see Jinpei. Jinpei let out a sob and leapt into Hakase's arms.
" Jinpei you were born with a gift to see what most can't. What you heard was pure evil. I know I said no one is all one thing or another. That is why you can see light in Katse."
Jinpei raised his head from Nambu's chest.
" Then Sosai is alien?" Jinpei asked.
" We would have to consider it. It would explain the technology." Nambu said pondering the implications.
They were interrupted by hollering. There was a commander on a small ledge shooting at his own troops. He was protecting something.
" The switch to open the hanger door." Ken whispered.
The team focused on him. He was dodging bullets and making moose antlers at his troops.
" What is he saying?" Ryu signed.
They all focused their hearing.
" We pledged to Zero. What is wrong with all of you?! Die with dignity." the commander was screaming.
The commander had had enough. He pushed a few buttons and a shield went up around him. The bullets just bounced off of him. He fell to his knees and started chanting as he kept making the antlers.
Nambu's eyes saw the letter sent by the Asakura's pleading for escape for their son. He was now seeing what was told in the letter. Nambu was suddenly on the beach cradling George. Then in the hospital, a week later, trying to explain why to a half dead eight year old. Flashes of nine years of fragile fatherhood for a flock of five. His lips on a blue tinted beak. Thanks Dad. Nambu came back to screaming Galactor troops and a Swallow trying to put himself back together. Nambu locked eyes with Jinpei. Nambu saw strength behind those tear glazed eyes. Similar to what he saw in George's eyes ten years ago. Jinpei nodded as Nambu put him down.
" Team get in the ship and pick me up at that platform."
He was greeted with stares of horror.
" Now!" Nambu ordered.
" Hai! Hakase."
The team got in the ship as Nambu flew to the floor. Nambu ran for the platform that was about sixty meters away.
" Let's get ready to launch, Ryu." Ken stated.
" Can we put Hakase up on the screen, please?" Jinpei was very calm.
Nambu was running in bursts. He hid behind anything he could along the wall. Nambu did not want any troops impeding his progress. He had no idea how he could get through the shield. He would figure it out when he got there. It was obvious that the commander had lost his grip on reality. If this is what Galactor did to it's command staff what would they do to the Earth? Nambu went cold thinking of the possibilities.
" You ok there, Jinpei?" Ryu asked.
" I'm fine. Everyone. That voice just scared me. "
Jun looked into Jinpei's eyes.
" Say that looking into my eyes."
Jinpei couldn't do it. He went to Ken.
" I'm sorry. Ani. I'm scared." Jinpei started getting faster. "I know I'm not supposed to be scarred. Ninjas don't get scared. If that is the guy we are really fighting I don't know if we can win." Jinpei started to cry again.
Jun gathered him up in her wings.
" Silly boy. Who ever said ninjas don't get scared?" Jun said with a smile.
" What?" Jinpei looked confused.
" Should we tell him? It might help." Ryu asked Jun and Ken. " I think Joe might even agree."
Ryu, Jun and Ken all nodded at each other.
" You just had your, it got real for me moment." Ken said.
Nambu was about ten yards from the platform. The Galactor troops had scattered. Probably looking for an override switch. What if that was the override switch. Now it made total sense. The commander was guarding the only switch that would open the doors quickly. Sure someone could reroute the wiring but not in seven and a half minutes.
Nambu got a good look at the shield. It covered three sides of the platform but was open on the top. He could drop in from above. The walls were smooth all around the platform. Nothing to help there. The closest object that Nambu could launch off of was five meters away. Also the platform was about seven meters straight up. How did the commander get up there?
" When we get out of here I promise that we will all sit and talk. None of our moments were pretty either." Ken said through a smile.
"Really?" Jinpei asked.
" Yes, really." Jun said.
Jinpei bear hugged his sis and turned to the viewer.
" Where is Hakase?"
" Don't ruffle your feathers Jinpei. He is right behind that forklift. I've been keeping my eye on him for you." Ryu answered.
Nambu would have to launch himself in the air seven meters. Actually, closer to nine meters. To get over the shield. The birdstyles could let them glide but they needed a series of launch points. He would have to do it straight from the ground. Nambu sighed knowing he was really going to feel this in the morning. Nambu centered himself and ran out in front of the platform. Nambu looked up to judge the distance and readied himself to jump.
The Galactor goon had no idea where the big bird had come from but he knew what to do with it. Kill it. This might make his death at the hands of an ungrateful leader feel a bit better. His gun was empty but he still had his dagger.
Nambu heard the goon approach. He pulled his blades and started spinning. Nambu sliced the goon open on his first spin. The body fell away from Nambu so he wouldn't have to realign himself with the platform. The next two spins built up some serious speed. The fourth spin Nambu put all his energy into his ankles, crouched and launched. Nambu cleared the shield. Nambu put the commander out of his misery before he landed. Nambu flipped up the switch and the hanger rumbled. The God Phoenix was right next to the platform in ten seconds.
Nambu lowered into the ship to shocked looks.
" Later. Ryu, Go!" Nambu ordered.
They all strapped in. Ryu flew through the tunnel that they had come in by. It was slowly collapsing. Ryu did not appreciate the falling rocks. Ken was hoping to not have to go to Firebird mode. He was unsure about how Hakase would handle it. They all put their faith in Ryu. His piloting was superb. The ship was dinged but flew out into the moonlight. Ryu circled around to see the hole they just emerged from.
" Ryu?" Ken asked.
" Any second now." Ryu stated happily.
The team watched as the soybean field rippled then fell still and silent. Two seconds later fire and smoke emerged from the hole the Mole mecha had dug. Then half the field collapsed into a sink hole.
" Yes, Ken."
" Can you make sure that the ISO compensates the farmer?"
" I will."
" Yes, Jinpei."
" How long have you had a birdstyle? How did you make that jump? How do those swords come out of your wings?"
Nambu walked over to Jinpei and put a hand over his mouth before a thousand more questions could emerge. Ken, Jun and Ryu all focused on Hakase.
" Ok team. First don't you think Joe should hear all these answers also?"
" Of course I do." Jinpei said defensively. " Joe.."
Jinpei disappeared under Hakase's wings before Nambu could stop him.
" Hakase! You still have it!" Jinpei shouted as he emerged from under Nambu's left arm holding part of Katse's headdress.
" I am very glad I did not drop it." Nambu stated.
Nambu watched as the rest of the team gingerly passed it around. Ryu was looking very closely at it when he almost dropped it.
" Hakase! You scalped him!" Ryu was in shock.
"Let me see." Jinpei pushed in-between Ken and Ryu. " Ewww! Gross! That is skin!"
In typical young boy fashion Jinpei grabbed the headdress and ran over to Jun.
" Look, Sis." Jinpei was pointing into the depths of the piece. " See what all that blond hair is attached to."
Jun took the piece and stared at it a moment. She wanted to touch it but did not want to mess up the genetics inside. Katse was hurt, badly. If Hakase's blade cut any closer, Katse would have a shattered skull. Jun looked up with a beaming smile.
" Nice shot Hakase." Jun handed the piece to Ken and gave Hakase a quick hug.
Nambu folded his wings around her and said " Thanks."
Ken, Jinpei and Ryu all nodded at Hakase indicating that they seconded the gesture.
Ken smiled as he dropped into his seat and said:
" Ryu take us home."
" Yes, sir."
Nambu settled into a seat because he needed to focus. His emotions were bubbling. He had spent all his rage on Katse and his troops. With the rage gone nothing was there to hold down the rest. He closed his eyes and focused. He calmed himself, for the moment. Nambu felt eyes on himself. He opened his eyes to Jinpei smiling at him.
" Yes, Jinpei."
Nambu looked at his face and could see what he wanted. Nambu stood up and let Jinpei examine his wings. Jinpei carefully went over every inch.
" Oh this is sooo cool Hakase. Look guys." Hakase allowed himself to be dragged over between Ken and Ryu. Jun shot Hakase a " is he annoying you look?" . Hakase mouthed " I'm fine." and flashed her a smile. Jun smiled back.
Nambu was quite impressed with how well Jinpei was figuring out how the blades worked just by looking at them.
" Am I correct so far, Hakase?"
" Yes you are Jinpei. Very impressive."
Jinpei continued up to his shoulder pointing out parts. Nambu was so impressed with the explanation that he almost didn't stop Jinpei before he reached the trigger mechanism. It was located just on the back of his underarm. All it took was a muscle flex to trigger the blades.
Ken and Ryu watched as Hakase got a smile on his face and curl Jinpei into his wings. The blades safely popped out behind Ken and Ryu's chairs. Hakase was unsuccessfully trying not to laugh. Nambu wasn't mad. This was a beautiful distraction from thinking at the moment.
" Oh, that's the trigger mechanism." Jinpei's voice floated out from Hakase's wings.
" Yes, Jinpei." Hakase retracted the blades and looked into his wings. " Remember I'm under this."
Ryu, Jun and Ken had gotten a case of the giggles at this point. So they missed Jinpei's " Why should that matter?"
The team watched as Hakase laid Jinpei across the top between Ryu's and Ken's chair. Jinpei was being supported by Hakase's left arm as he squirmed trying to get away from Hakase's right arm that was dancing all over his midsection.
Jun was looking on from her seat. Jun looked on this very family type scene and knew whatever happens from this day forward they all had a father. Jun didn't want to ruin the moment by getting all mushy towards Nambu. She could do that later. So she just watched her brother scream with laughter and pleas for her to help.
" Nope. Can't save you. I'm sure you deserve it." Jun said through a smile.
Nambu turned and looked at Jun. Everything she wanted to say to him was in her eyes. Nambu almost melted. He caught himself and released Jinpei.
" We are home everyone." Ryu announced as they pulled into the docking bay.
It was nine pm. What a day.
A moment of Peace by Dragonsbain
The boys flew out of the God Phoenix leaving Nambu and Jun aboard.
" Aren't they coming?" Jinpei asked.
" Yes, in a minute." Ken said.
Both Ryu and Ken knew they needed some privacy.
"Why didn't you tell us you could do this?" Jun asked.
" I've only pulled this outfit out to do modifications for your birdstyles. Never thought I would fight in it." Nambu lowered his eyes and studied the carpet. " I'm sorry if it upset you at all."
" I'm not upset, Hasake. A bit confused that is all."
" Confused about what, Jun?"
" Why now? What happened?"
" Long explanation. The short version is I got mad. I'm not proud of it. Especially after I lectured all of you on not letting your emotions influence your actions. I'm sorry." Nambu looked up expecting to see a stern look from Jun.
" Don't be. I'm not." Jun said as she drew Hasake into a hug.
Nambu was confused. This wouldn't be the first time. He knew he wasn't a great parent. He was never sure what he had gotten right or wrong until he was told. Jun could feel his confusion.
" I never had anyone who would go and fight for me. Take care of the school bully, as it were." Jun said squeezing him tighter.
" But the boys fight for you all the time. Actually, you have complained about that on many occasions." Nambu stated.
Jun hated getting mushy. She didn't like the underlying weakness of it. Nambu would never think her weak. Plus, he deserved to hear this.
" It's not the same as your Father doing it. Thanks Dad."
Jun could feel Hasake steady his breathing. She could tell he heard and understood.
She broke the hug and disappeared out the bubble.
" Parenthood is truly an institution." Nambu said to the God Phoenix. " With all the mood swings that is where you'll end up."
Jinpei had already made it to Joe's bedside. Joe was sound asleep. Jinpei was torn. He really wanted to wake him and tell him everything. But, Joe needed to sleep to help the healing. So much to tell.
" Joe ani. Wake up. We are back." Jinpei said as he shook his brother awake.
Joe mumbled groggily.
" Let me sleep, shrimp."
" Hasake has a bird style and he scalped Katse."
Joe opened his eyes and tried to move. His body was stiff and sluggish. Joe always hated getting an injury. It would mean recovery. Recovery was slow, tedious and boring. One of the hazards of the job. Joe looked beyond Jinpei to the rest of the team.
" Has he eaten to many Skittles? The shrimp is making no sense."
Joe slowly sat up in the bed. He looked to the faces of the team. None of them were even smiling.
" No Joe. Jinpei is not on a sugar high." Ryu offered.
" Hasake has a beautiful birdstyle. He always told us he tested the technology on himself first." Jun added.
" So he came with us to..." Ken paused.
" vent his frustrations on Katse." Jun finished.
" Did you defeat the Mole?"
" Yes." they all answered.
" Is Katse, dead?" Joe would hate it if he missed Katse's death.
" No, but I almost cracked his skull."
Nambu moved Jun over so he could stand next to Joe's head. Joe gasped when he saw Hasake's bird style.
" I want you to see this first." Hasake said as he handed Joe the headdress.
Joe slowly turned it over in his hands. He smiled when he saw the bloody, blond hair.
" How did you do this?"
Nambu backed up and twirled a few times to show off his birdstyle.
" That is beautiful, Hasake. A crane. Suits you very nicely." Joe was impressed.
"And quite deadly as well."
Hasake faced Joe and shook his wings. Both swords popped out. Joe got all wide eyed.
Before he could speak, Hasake cut him off.
" No you can't have a sword. These are my weapons."
" You are no fun Hasake." Joe said with a smile.
" Yes I've been told that for a couple of hours now." Hasake said returning the smile.
They all had a good laugh around Joe's bed. Hasake knew, for the moment, things were ok. That is all he could hope for.
P.S.--- I had wanted to do a bigger ending. I decided just to do a follow up story. I want to thank all those who encouraged and helped me with this. Thanks for being there.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.