Bye Bye Blackbird by Pykkadilly
Summary: Not every Gallactor wants to blindly follow a maniacal, world dominating fashionista.
Categories: Gatchaman Characters: Berg Katse, Dr. Kozaburou Nambu, Jimmy / G-4, Joe Asakura, Jun, Ken Washio, Original Character, Phoenix/God Phoenix, Rocky, Solaris
Genre: Action/Adventure
Story Warnings: Adult Situations, Blood, Guts & Gore, Death
Timeframe: Mid-Series
Universe: Tenuously Canon
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes Word count: 11197 Read: 11003 Published: 01/24/2008 Updated: 01/24/2008
Story Notes:
The following is a fanfic...that is to say, a fictional story based on
characters and a storyline that are NOT my intellectual property. As
such, I am writing this story and making it available for others to view
for the purposes of entertainment only. I'm not getting paid for
this...but I AM hoping that people who read it will be kind enough to
review it and let me know their opinions.

...yes, there IS a "Mary Sue" type of character here, as the
existence of this (or any) fanfic instantly makes this setting an
Alternate Universe...and call me a jerk, but I believe that AU's can be
populated with heroic characters that are as good (in their own way) as
the familiar ones the story is based on.

Having said that˜I hope you are entertained by this
"episode" of my version of the Gatchman OAV 94 series. Anybody
who is an afficionado of Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets/G-Force/Eagle
Riders/OAV 94 (whew...say that all in one breath˜I DARE ya!) will
instantly recognize that I've borrowed those elements that appealed to
me the most from the listed sources.

1. Chapter 1: Gatchaman VS. Dragon King by Pykkadilly

2. Chapter 2 by Pykkadilly

3. Chapter 3 by Pykkadilly

Chapter 1: Gatchaman VS. Dragon King by Pykkadilly

It came streaking across the vast emptiness of space...fleeing its opponent, seeking a haven where it could rest and regain strength. Anywhere where the servants of the light could not find it...oppose it.

It found a likely blue and white world...the third one from its sun. Yes...all the signs were there˜it was a place that was starting to develop all kinds of life forms. Intelligent lifeforms would soon begin to evolve. When that happened, It planned to be seduce the sentient forms of life to become Its willing servants. To embrace the darkness.

And then, It would be able to consume all.

MARCH 21, 2066

In the news: the country of Hontwall continued to make disturbing headlines, only a few months after pulling out of the United Nations, Hontwall's President Beoluke announced that his country and at least four other nations were allying with each other in a deliberate bid to form their own military alliance. The President used the occasion of his fifty-second birthday to condemn the Mantle Plan˜a high-tech and expensive plan to help the Earth convert itself to clean, green energy˜being especially critical of the plan's most ardent supporter, Dr. Kozaburo Nambu.

Behind the scenes: the vid reports on the mysterious event in Myori were incomplete˜they really only showed what was left of the city after it had been wiped off the face of the Earth. However, the Security Chief of the International Science Organization, Dr. Nambu, knew better. And now he had the unenviable task of having to explain to the council members at the International Science and Technology Headquarters what was actually happening.

He addressed Director Anderson specifically, but both men phrased their questions and answers so that Nambu was able to outline to the entire council that the country of Hontwall was actually fronting a secret terrorist organization called the Gallactor. As such, the Gallactor were organizing advanced technology in a bid to destabilize world politics to the point where they could take over the planet. Dr. Kessler˜one of the other scientists on the council˜openly scoffed Nambu's theories, but even he was hard-pressed to explain away the huge silhouette of some oversize mecha that appeared within the last known weather anomaly reported over Myori.

Even as Nambu was making his report to the council, however, there was a report being compiled and printed up for him about how the commercial jet plane of Dr. Kirkland, an established leader in the field of atmospheric science, had mysteriously vanished in mid-flight. Nambu had no way of knowing that the plane had been hijacked, the doctor removed from the flight and then the plane itself blown to bits...not for certain. When he heard about it later however, Nambu was sure that Kirkland's disappearance was orchestrated by the Gallactor.

THE SHELL-SHOCKED Dr. Kirkland found himself being led through the huge ship he found himself captive in by a pair of tall, slender people dressed in outfits that reminded him of blackbirds˜rather deadly ones, if the wrist claws were anything to judge by. Kirkland, however, wasn't in any condition to think about it too much, however˜he was still mentally recoiling in horror at the destruction of the plane that had been vaporized before his eyes. He stumbled as he relived the sight of the energy beam blasting the plane full of defenseless people, imagining that he could hear their screams. A firm hand grasped his elbow.

"Are you all right, doctor?" the voice that asked the question˜and the touch on his arm˜apparently belonged to a woman. The scientist turned his head to stare into the blank black visor that covered the upper part of her face. Before he could say anything, the other Blackbird snarled:

"Stop coddling the human! We just need to get him to the mothership˜we don't need to be concerned about him!"

"Dr. Kirkland has been designated as being important to the Gallactor imperative, Viz." the female rebuked her fellow. "As such, we should make sure he arrives before Solaris in a sound condition."

"Fine!" the one called Viz. "But don't take it too far,'re Kiri...and that puts you at the bottom of our pecking order. We won't tolerate any sentimentality from you."

"Thanks for the reminder, Viz." Kara replied stiffly. She palmed open a door and helped Kirkland enter the space beyond˜it looked like he was being transferred to another, smaller ship. As soon as he was in the boarding space, however, Viz stepped up to Kara, placing his arms to either side of her so that she was trapped against the bulkhead within his intimate space.

"It doesn't need to be that way, you know..." Viz's voice dropped to a seductive purr, "...I'd be more than happy to make sure that your status in the cadre is elevated...if you would only grant me a few...concessions." Kirkland got the definite feeling that Viz was alluding to sexual concessions˜and Kara's body English telegraphed her utter distaste for this proposition.

"Thank you for your kindly offer, Viz." she said with obvious irony. "But I'd like to think that I...'elevated'...myself due to my own skill and training." Viz's mouth twitched and he thrust his hips at her.

"Have it your way, then." he acquiesced, then stepped away from Kara. She went on to help the man into the craft and to the seat he was to occupy. Viz took the other seat.

"Dismissed, Kiri." he said, waving a hand. The young woman withdrew, the door sliding shut. Kirkland eyed the man now piloting the craft they were in. Viz was chuckling, and it wasn't a good sound.

"She doesn't know it yet, human," Viz gloated, "But Kara will be mine. She is Kiri, and, in spite of the fact that the Gallactor rule our people, her kind is still desired for mating...their prowess for giving intense pleasure˜and pain˜is legendary." He chuckled again. "Once I have her claimed and trained...she can give me such...exquisite agony."

Dr. Kirkland wondered what the hell kind of horror he had been plunged headfirst into now.
The Blackbird called Kara, meanwhile, was questioning her continued loyalty to the cadre. More and more, the rhetoric that had been drilled into her for the past ten or so years was leaving a sour taste in her mouth.

No...truth be told, the anti-human rhetoric had always been repellent to her. Most of the population in Hontwall were referred to as People...whereas, humans were people˜the emphasis on the lower-case "p". The Gallactor view was that humans were inferior to the People. Technically, Kara was one of the People (a Person, to extend the so-called logic), but she was born and raised as a Kiri˜the mark on her left breast proclaimed such to the world. The KiriKiri had been in a steady decline, and all but exterminated ten years ago. No Gallactor who saw her birthmark would treat her as anything but an object to be derided˜or, as Viz was wont to do, to be lusted after, thanks to the legends that had sprung up around her tribe. It was no matter to Viz that she'd been stripped of her tribe when she was not even ten years of age and had no concept of those techniques that were supposed to make the Kiri so appealing to the Gallactor in pursuit of the ultimate pleasure.

Kara shuddered˜she knew enough about her heritage that she could see into the soul of Viz...he was one whose pleasure was pain, and she wanted to have nothing to do with that. Viz was evil, his aura showed countless twisted tentacles of pure maleficence˜an unreasoning hatred that wallowed in the black depths of his eyes. Every day of late, however, she could feel those tendrils of evil growing longer and stronger...and seeking to tangle her up in them so that she could never escape.

She had to work with him as a member of the Blackbirds, but at least at night she could escape his poisonous presence. Kara dreamed while she slept, and whenever Viz loomed large in her dream scape, he was immediately dispelled by the appearance of another man. She could never see his face, nor remember even what color hair he possessed˜yet she knew his eyes: a stormy sort of blue, like a sky awash with the gray clouds of a gathering storm, or, more accurately, a dispersing one.

She also counted herself as lucky--Viz had just been reassigned from the dragon king to the mothership for the duration, and so she didn't need to run into him for now.

Kara went to report to her station on the bridge of the dragon king, resolving that she would have to try to find some way of fleeing the Gallactor. Staying here would be the death of her˜if not her body, then surely her very soul.

NAMBU PASSED ON the report about the missing Dr. Kirkland to the ISO president almost as soon as he got it. In turn, Anderson gave Nambu the okay to assemble their own secret weapon...the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. The Security Chief immediately went to his communications center and activated the panel, sending out the signal to five different people, located in various areas in and around Utoland City.

The Science Ninja Team Gatchaman was about to see action.

KEN WASHIO WAS flying home from a mail run with nothing but clear sky around him. He loved moments like this, when he was surrounded by the peace and tranquility of the heavens˜nothing to concern him but the occasional cloud or bit of turbulence...and, perhaps, the flash of a heart-shaped face with brown hair and wide green eyes across his mind's eye.

He was wondering if he shouldn't just follow his instincts and simply call the young lady up...invite her out to a dinner and a movie? The initial reason they had ever even met hadn't interrupted his mundane existence as a mail courier for the last six or seven months˜if it hadn't done so by now, maybe it never would..?

Just then, however, a sharp, urgent sound broke into his reverie, drawing Ken's sky blue eyes down to the special-alloy band on his wrist, where a red signal light blinked. He stared for a moment, damning the sound and the light because he knew that they were definitely going to put off his intentions towards the brunette he'd been thinking about...but then he responded, also knowing that he was honor-bound to answer the summons being issued.

"Responding...this is G-1 Eagle leader. Go ahead, base."

"This is a mobilization alert." Dr. Nambu's voice was grave and steady. "Our enemy is on the move."

"The Gallactor?"

"The day we've been worried about has finally arrived." the security chief confirmed. "They've been using a giant craft equipped with a weather control device to destroy key lab sites and abduct our best scientists. Their objective is to terminate our Mantle Plan and, at the same time, create a worldwide anarchy. They're using the Republic of Hontwall to generate global conflict and, once the world is in chaos, they intend to step in and take over the planet." Ken frowned. The whole scheme had doubtless been in motion for years...but, then again, so had the training for the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman.

"Your assignment is to intercept the enemy attack craft and maintain surveillance of its activities." Nambu told him. "But your primary objective is to pinpoint the location of the secret Gallactor headquarters. You know I wouldn't be calling if the situation weren't desperate...your team was selected and trained for a mission of this importance, so I know you're up to the challenge."

" I understand." G-1 assured him. "We won't let you down, doctor."

"Keep me informed, Ken." Nambu responded. "Good luck, G-1 Eagle Leader!"

"Over and out."

Ken Washio headed for home in order to make sure that his mail courier service was put on automatic˜it would not do for potential clients to arrive or call, expecting him to provide service when he was going to be very busy...busy saving the world from the Gallactor.

THE HOT DESERT sun beat down upon the lonely stretch of sand and stone, glaring down upon the tall formations of sedimentary rock, upon the weather-beaten split-rail fence that had a series of cans and bottles lined up on it...upon the tall, lean young man standing about a hundred feet from the fence with a revolver in his hand.

The gun barked sharply six times. Half of the targets on the fence disappeared. The shooter reloaded, his gray-blue eyes narrowing as he concentrated on his task. Joe Asakura was not even twenty years in age, but he knew the value of keeping his mind on his job. He wasn't normally patient, but he was still waiting for the day that he hoped would come...the day he could avenge the parents that had been brutally murdered in front of him. Joe was not one who believed in prayer, but the only prayer he said anymore was that his be the hand responsible for destroying the ones who had destroyed his own world.

To this end, he willingly joined the Gatchaman program and trained with the team that had been hand-picked by Dr. Nambu. For this goal, Joe sacrificed all chances for a personal life, instead taking the car and the trailer offered by the ISO and waiting for the day he could fulfill his chosen destiny. He survived by entering the occasional automobile race...he even would bed the occasional groupie now and then to relieve any tensions that might build up. For now, however, he shot the remaining targets, blowing away each until only one remained. The brunet man aimed carefully at the last can on the rail--

--And stopped, halted by the audio signal from his wristband. Joe eyed the stylized "G" on the front...had he, in his zeal to erase the horrible scene of his parents' death from his memory, merely imagined the call to arms..?

The bottom right corner of the symbol on the band flashed an imperative red light. Outwardly his face remained masked. Inwardly, the heart of the Condor soared and Joe grinned.

Finally, it seemed, he would have a chance to deal death to Gallactors rather than become a victim to those terrorists. This made him almost happy. He quickly showered, still a bit introspective˜his focus had always been on avenging his parents, but lately there had been anomalies appearing within Joe's dreams of revenge. He closed his eyes as he washed away the sweat and grime of the desert, recalling the element that had been incongruously popping up: a pair of eyes the color of amethysts. Joe frowned thoughtfully. His usual dream would have him mowing down Gallactors by the dozen but, recently, just as Joe would go to kill the last one, those eyes would appear and blink at him, stopping him cold. He never saw the face that went with the eyes, only the eyes themselves.

Joe looked down, startled˜just thinking of those eyes had resulted in an impromptu erection. He hoped that the amethyst eyes belonged to a female, otherwise he'd have to do some serious introspection. For now, however, he dispensed with his erection and finished his shower, jumping into his car and taking off down the highway in order to rendezvous with the rest of the Gatchaman team.

THE GIRL ON the high dive board felt all eyes upon her, but she went ahead and executed a perfect triple somersault, the water of the pool below barely splashing as her body broke the surface. She swam the length of the pool underwater and climbed out at the other end, removing her swimming cap and grabbing up her towel.

June Jenar was used to attention˜she was a very pretty young woman with medium-brown hair and green eyes, and most of the current oglers were the men hanging around the pool. None of them mattered, however...there was only one man she wanted to have ogle her, and he was a man bound by honor and duty. He'd never forsake them, this she knew, but she was rather hoping that Ken would realize that he didn't need to in order to be with her.

Painful as it was, however, the situation couldn't be remedied by June herself˜it was Ken who needed to acknowledge the possibilities between them. She could only wait and hope that he learned his lesson sooner rather than later.

Suddenly the band on her left wrist beeped and flashed a little red light. A priority alert˜she stiffened as she realized that this meant, most likely, that her daydreams about Ken and herself would likely not come true...not for a long time, if ever.

Again, however, she acknowledged that this didn't matter. Ken wasn't the only one who bowed to honor and duty. She had just been summoned, and so she would go.

June dried herself off as she briskly made her way to the locker rooms, cramming herself into the leather jumpsuit and hurrying off to where her motorcycle was parked. Gatchaman was calling, and she had to report. She mounted the motorcycle and zipped up her suit before roaring out onto the road, hurrying not only because June was being called to duty, but also because this would be her chance to see Ken once more.

"Hey, June, what's your hurry?" called out the teasing voice of her adopted little brother, Jimmy. He drew up alongside her speeding bike, riding a state-of-the art hoverboard. "Reporting for duty doesn't mean you get to break all the speed laws and rip up the road..!" He was grinning from ear to ear, however, since he was easily keeping up with her as they sped along.

"You better check your training manual, then." she reminded him. "We just got a high priority

Both of them were rather curious to find out what had prompted their first official high-priority scramble...and both weren't sure they would really like knowing.

ROCKY KEEAWANI WAS napping in the warm sunshine of the day, a smile on his face as he dreamed of being on a Pacific Island with lovely native women...the kind that like to run around half-naked with nothing on under their trademark grass skirts. He snored softly as the course of his dream had him with one of those lovelies in his arms when the shrill beep from his left wrist awoke him.

"Hmm˜huh?" he grunted, then his eyes went wide as he saw the confirming red light blinking on his band. "A high-priority scramble!" In his haste to leap to action, however, the old Adirondack chair he'd been napping in broke under his considerable bulk. He grimaced˜he'd loved that chair, but that wasn't important at the moment. He hurried over to the door to the marina's rental office˜the Boat House Dragon˜and put out the "CLOSED" sign. Rocky rushed over to the hidden hatch and dived in so that he could get to the Godphoenix that rested in its concealed berth under his location.

It had to have been very serious for Dr. Nambu to have summoned the Science Ninja Team, Rocky thought to himself as he entered the ship. He could only pray to God that they were all up to the challenge. He transmuted to his bird style, becoming the Horned Owl and taking his place at the pilot's chair. Preflight checks were optimal and he took to the air, consulting his locater readout to see the most efficient way to pick up the rest of the team.

The readout told him that June and Jimmy were the closest and also relatively close to each other. He would go get them first.

June activated her bird style and transmuted into G-3, the Swan. Her motorcycle likewise transmuted into a bleeding-edge machine that became a hovercycle that blasted easily over the top of the ocean in order for her to get to the berth that Rocky˜also known as G-5˜opened up for her. She docked where she was supposed to and went on into the Godphoenix, reporting to the bridge.

Jimmy transformed into G-4, the Swallow. He was ensconced inside the vehicle he liked to refer to as his "Falcon Tracker", although the personnel at ISO referred to it as a helicobuggy. He took his vehicle into the docking bay that Rocky opened up for him, securing it and also going to the bridge.

West of Utoland City, a snug little sports car zipped along an abandoned stretch of highway, seemingly on a suicide course for the end of the road˜which would mean that the car would soon be hurtling off the edge of a 500-foot cliff. The long-haired man at the wheel of the car brought his left wrist up and around.

"Shapeshift Condor!" he cried imperatively. The band on his wrist activated the change in not only himself but his vehicle. Gone was the mundane young man in a leather jacket and jeans driving a neat little sports its place was now a long, low-slung black vehicle that looked to be heavily armored, being driven by a figure in a black, caped uniform. G-2, the Condor, wore a visored helm that evoked the bird he was styled after. He now looked every bit as dangerous as his years of training made him.

The armored vehicle zoomed off the edge of the cliff, seemingly to its doom. But, as he had in the endless training flights, G-5 piloted the Godphoenix over the airborne vehicle and scooped it up into its own berth at the front of the ship. Joe reluctantly left the car and also went to join the others.

The last member of Gatchaman to be picked up was Ken, who had transformed into the Eagle. He easily guided his sleek G-1 craft into the rear landing bay and hurried to take his place as the commander on the bridge.

"I'm glad to see you all made it." Ken greeted everyone as he entered the bridge. "It's been a long time. I've missed you." He made it a point to not look specifically at the Swan as he said this.

"No time for sentiment, Ken." G-2 replied. "It's a real mission...the enemy's finally started its offensive. We're going into battle. It's the showdown we've been waiting for." Sky blue eyes clashed with stormy gray-blue ones. Then the Eagle moved decisively forward.

"All right, everybody take your positions!" Ken ordered, going to his own seat. "We're about to receive our orders."

Chapter 2 by Pykkadilly
Nambu's signal preceded his image appearing on the front monitor screen. He carefully outlined the information that he had and then ordered the team to go find the mecha that was responsible for the weather anomalies as well as the destruction of Myori. It was essential that Gatchaman tail the mecha to find out where its base was, since Nambu was convinced that finding out where its command center was would be the most important task.

June's surveillance of the anomaly confirmed that it was about 2000 meters ahead of them. The Condor was rather vocal about the need to attack the mecha they detected despite the fact that G-1 was standing firm about following Nambu's orders to not engage the warship, but to observe it and try to find out where its base was.

"Ken˜they're like a pack of mad dogs." Joe insisted. "We need to mount an offensive before they attack us!"

"We're not going to be mounting any offensive." the Eagle countermanded.

"What do you mean?"

"While I'm in command here, we're following orders. Dr. Nambu is relying on us." Ken said firmly. "June, collect as much information as you can about their ship using your sensor array. Then report to Dr. Nambu and tell him we're awaiting his orders."

"Roger." G-3 acknowledged, turning to her panel, her slender fingers dancing over the surface so that the information they needed was gathered as quickly as possible.

"Oh, brother." the Condor rolled his eyes and sat down, knowing when he was beaten˜at least, this time. He still felt that Gatchaman should attack the mecha rather than waiting.

"You're making this spy business too personal, Joe." Rocky assured him. "I'm sure there'll be plenty of time to engage these monkeys. The battle's just begun." The Swallow appeared beside Joe's chair, leaning an elbow on the top of its back as he added his own two cents' worth:

"It's better to study them first...what do we really know about these people..?"

"I know as much as I need to know. Believe me, I've devoted my life to exterminating them." the Condor ground out, his hands clenching the armrests of his chair. " I never told you before˜but when I was a boy, the Gallactor came for my father and when he wouldn't go...they killed my parents." The raw pain and anger in his voice was evident and it made everyone listening very uncomfortable.

June announced that the mecha was heading for Kaimar City, where the main research facility for the Mantle Plan had been established. The Mantle Plan was supposed to be a way for the Earth to conserve its resources and be able to continue have its current technology function without continuing to pollute the environment. Ken ordered that their findings be relayed to Dr. Nambu at once, along with the recommendation for the city to be evacuated as well as UN fighters be scrambled to defend it.

They all saw, to their horror, the huge mecha emerge from its storm cloud cover. It resembled a cross between a dragon and a turtle...and it rained destruction upon Kaimar City. The hoard of fighters that rose to meet the monstrous thing were repelled with contemptuous ease, none of the Hellraiser missiles fired at it even dented the armored exterior. Then the mecha went on to use its beams of energy to raze Kaimar City completely to the ground. Everyone aboard the Godphoenix knew that there hadn't nearly been anywhere near enough time to have evacuated even one-quarter of its population.

"Look at what you've done!" the Condor cried, springing across the deck and hauling Ken up out of his seat by the front of his uniform. "If you had let me attack them when we had the opportunity, we could have saved all those people! Those lives were lost because of your bad command judgment!" Ken pushed the angry G-2 away from him.

"Stop it, Joe!" the Eagle retorted. "We did what we could, but it wasn't enough..." He went on to point out that attempting to take out the mecha now with the armament on the Godphoenix

Nambu announced that the information gathered and sent by June confirmed that the mecha had been created and manned by extraterrestrials. Jimmy was guessing that such aliens were bug-like˜he was an avid amateur entomologist.  The security chief pointed out that, since the aliens had been on the Earth for a rather long time, they most likely looked human. Nambu told Gatchaman to continue to monitor the ship and to keep him updated with whatever course the ship would take.

Nambu signed off and took the hard copies of the data he received with him, knowing that he had to report the developments personally to Director Anderson. He was deep in thought as the elevator made its way to the level that housed the director's office, trying to formulate the best course of action for Gatchaman to take. He was coming to the conclusion that the team would need to infiltrate the warship itself˜to sabotage the inner workings of the mecha˜when the doors to the elevator parted. He only had time to take a step forward when he was suddenly hit by a dart to his chest. The mustachioed man stumbled back and slid to the floor, attempting to fight the shock and the drug that now coursed through his veins. He looked up into the mocking smile of Dr. Kessler.

"Wha˜what are you doing...?" Nambu gasped.

"It's time for you to take a little nap, doctor." the blond man responded archly. "Have a nice rest." Nambu struggled against the drug's effect, but was soon enveloped by darkness.

"IT LOOKS LIKE the Gallactor ship has changed its course." Jun reported from her station on the Godphoenix. "It's headed for Utoland City, and at this rate, it'll be there in an hour!"

"What???" Ken gasped. Then he sent a signal back to Dr. Nambu...who, it seemed, was not responding...

NAMBU BLINKED, TRYING to marshal his fuzzy thoughts into some semblance of order. He looked around him, instantly recognizing that he wasn't in ISO headquarters anymore, but somewhere else...a sumptuously appointed office that had a spectacular view of sky and clouds. However, the hum of machinery that he felt through the floor seemed to indicate that he was either in a high rise factory (highly improbable) or on a ship of some sort.

"I see you're finally awake, Dr. Nambu." the figure on the other side of the expensive antique desk spoke confidently even though he was technically facing away from the security chief. "Wh-who are you and what am I doing here?" Nambu demanded.

"Welcome, doctor, you're aboard what your people like to call a 'mother ship'." Beoluke turned to face Nambu.

"Why are you here, President Beoluke? Are you responsible for kidnapping me?"

"I apologize for any mistreatment that you may have suffered in the transportation, but it was important that we meet and I knew that you would never come voluntarily." Beoluke said evenly. "I have a proposition for you. I know your mind is one of the most advanced on the planet so I'm giving you a chance to join a very elite organization."

"I'm afraid I don't quite follow you."

"I'm inviting you to live aboard this great ship and work with the kind of technology that you have only dreamt of in your earthbound imagination! You will be among the only ones of your kind to make it into the glorious future." Once again the president of Hontwall faced the window.

"And what happens to the rest of the human race?" Nambu asked archly. "Have they offended God so badly that He plans to wash them away with yet another flood?"

"I'm afraid 'God' is just a concept for the fearful among us." the bald man said dismissively. "As for the rest of humanity, they'll very likely be eliminated through their own foolishness." Beoluke turned back to the younger man. "They pretend to care for their fellow man, but deep inside they're filled with selfish interests and greed. They pretend the world is in peaceful balance, but each day it teeters on the edge of annihilation. Technology has advanced much faster than man's moral development and all it will take is a maniac with a bomb to destroy civilization. I know certain nations are preparing to attack Hontwall because our military alliances are upsetting the balance of power." Beoluke faced his captive once again. "My pre-emptive strike will lead to total war. The only survivors will be those living aboard this ship."

"You madman!" Nambu responded in shock. "The world will rise up to destroy you!"

"I'm counting on them to try, particularly after I vaporize the UN Headquarters."

The security chief could only stare in horror as the clearly-insane president of Hontwall laughed...and laughed...and laughed.

"COME IN, DOCTOR...please respond!" Ken called over the communicator yet again, but was met only with silence. He wasn't getting any response at all from any of the assigned emergency frequencies.

"Hey, what's happening here?" G-5 asked with a frown. He wasn't the communications expert of the team, but even he knew that Nambu would never deliberately refuse to respond to a call from Gatchaman.

"I think I know." Jun announced and then explained about the sudden build-up of military presence in the airspace and oceans outside of Hontwall, using the ship's screens to emphasize the gravity of the situation. The countries of the United Nations were blaming Hontwall for the attacks on the various cities and wanted to attack Hontwall before anything else could happen.

"Wait!" Ken cried, leaping to his feet. "This must all be part of the Gallactors' plot!"

"If that spacecraft attacks Utoland City," the Swan pointed out, "The UN will attack Hontwall and there'll be war."

ABOARD THE MOTHERSHIP, Beoluke was still attempting to persuade Dr. Nambu to join the Gallactor side. The security chief was still holding out, the president brought Nambu to meet with other people who had joined up.

Nambu recognized all the missing scientists from the various reports about the destroyed facilities from the past few weeks, including Dr. Kirkland and, apparently, Dr. Kessler as well. The security chief was happy to see they all survived, but was repelled to hear them all spouting the same twisted garbage that Beowulf had tried to persuade Nambu with earlier, each of them saying they were excited to be there.

"They've all been brainwashed!" Nambu muttered softly. Beoluke still attempted to persuade the scientist to his point of view.

"Dr. Nambu, the new millennium is dawning right before your eyes!" the bald man said glibly. "Join us as we guide your species to the next rung of the evolutionary ladder! You have a chance to be remembered as a great benefactor of humanity...all you have to do is to help bring order to your turbulent world˜by working for the Gallactor!"

Nambu still refused, and accused Beoluke of being Solaris in disguise. The bald president of Hontwall revealed himself to be the tall commanding figure Solaris, who laughed at the security chief, insisting that there was nothing that Nambu nor the ISO could do to avert the end of human history.

BACK ABOARD THE Godphoenix, the members of Gatchaman were all discussing attacking the mecha their ship was following. The consensus was to fire the Armageddon rocket at the spacecraft, but Ken nixed the idea, pointing out that none of the conventional missiles had managed to hurt it. He instead proposed that the team infiltrate the ship and plant a few strategic bombs to destroy the mecha from within. Once he voiced this as a choice, Joe was all for it˜this meant he'd be able to personally beat on Gallactor troops.

Rocky soon maneuvered the ship over the rear of the mecha and put the Godphoenix on autopilot.

Soon there were five figures sailing towards the dragon king mecha, intent on stopping it before it precipitated a world war. They landed on the outside of the ship, finding a hatch and siccing young Jimmy on it. G-4 made short work of the electronic lock used to secure it and the quintet dropped down into the belly of the beast.

"COMMANDER!" ONE OF the troops at a monitor on the bridge suddenly announced. "We have an unauthorized entry on B deck, Hatch 5, Area 12."

"What???" Drakon bellowed, then swiveled about in his chair. "Blackbirds team!" The four people assigned to the bridge dropped down from their perch.

"Sir!" they all acknowledged in unison, Kara amongst them.

"We have an intruder...go and take him out."

"Right." the team leader said, and the cadre took to the air. "Head for the hatch...we'll track the intruder from there."

"HERE ARE THE assignments..." Ken told them in a soft voice, "...Jun and I will will go to the engine room...the rest of you survey the ship."

"Bring me back a souvenir of their drive system!" Jimmy directed his request to the Swan, who gestured dismissively.

"Stop joking!"

"Let's move." Ken interrupted the exchange. The Eagle and the Swan ran off in one direction, while the Condor, the Swallow and the Horned Owl quickly hustled away in the other direction. The quartet of Blackbirds arrived at the now-empty scene.

"Switching to infrared." Kara said, touching the control on her visor. The heads-up display showed two different sets of tracks going in opposite directions. "They split up˜three of them went that way." She pointed off towards the secondary monitoring station for B deck.

"Where the hell would the other two be going?" Marin, the team leader, asked irritably. The other Blackbirds kept their mouths shut while Kara pointed out the painfully obvious:

"Hel-lo...infiltrators on a ship? They're trying to find the engine room!" Marin's face flushed.

"In that case, smart ass," the team leader ordered, "You follow the trio and we'll go after the ones trying to sabotage the engine room."

"But...that's three-to-one..!" Kara said, dismayed. "I'll be at a distinct disadvantage."

"Then think before you open your mouth next time, Kiri." sneered the team leader before he zipped away with the other two members of the cadre.

'Asshole.' Kara thought uncharitably, then went after her assigned quarry. 'Marin's such a dense idiot, he'll likely get his ass kicked anyway.' She based her hypothesis on the fact that five operatives were able to get into the mecha that was flying tens of thousands of feet above the Earth's surface. That bespoke intelligence as well as skill.

Though she had no way of knowing it, Kara was completely correct. Although Marin and the Blackbirds with him got the drop on the white-winged intruder, they were easily defeated by G-1. June was able to plant the charges and started the timers.

The dragon king mecha now had a mere ten minutes to live.

GARY SAT AT the computer console, bored. He was a Gallactor grunt, assigned to monitor duty, and he felt like this stupid assignment would be the death of him, for he would be bored to death. He was half right, as his dead body slumped forward, thanks to the energy garrote used on him by G-2. The other two members of the B deck monitor crew turned around to stare at Gary...and were immediately felled by the blitzkrieg attacks launched by G-4 and G-5.

"Good." Joe approved. "Now let's see if we can find their headquarters...Jimmy, can you access their computer records..?"

"No problem." the Swallow sat down at the nearest console and plugged in his universal access unit. "It operates like a joystick at a video game arcade..." The boy began working the device, running through the different code combinations, but getting only the dreaded "ACCESS DENIED" message on the readout.

Kara could hear voices from the monitor station, and she could tell they weren't the voices of the crew˜the infiltrators had obviously gotten the upper hand. She stealth-walked to the doorway, turning off the infrared on her HUD and hunkering down as she silently got out the poisoned quills that were mandatory equipment issued to all Blackbirds.

"Shoot...I'm locked out and I don't know the access code!" the voice of a young boy˜he couldn't possibly have been more than eleven at the very most˜complained.

"Too bad, little buddy...I guess the Gallactor's smarter than you if it's got you beat." the person replying to the boy was a giant of a man˜he had the bulk and the muscle of a Sumo wrestler. Kara immediately pegged him as the threat to take down first, as he was doubtless the strongest.

"Don't say that!" the boy begged, and Kara's instinct was torn in twain. The two of them sounded so...friendly. It was a shame she had to kill them...but it was her duty to defend her ship. So she aimed and went to toss the virulent quills...and then gasped in shock as she beheld the back of the third, practically invisible infiltrator˜the mark on the back of the wing-like cape he't be...and yet, the evidence of her own eyes made it so:

He wore the mark of the Kiri on his back!

Joe heard a gasp behind him and caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He reacted instinctively, leaping over the console he stood at.

"Rocky! Get down!" the Condor cried out, shoving Rocky back a few steps with his landing. In the spot where Rocky stood were some wicked-looking, thin daggers. All eyes went to the doorway, where there knelt a figure in a bird-style-like wings, solid black visor. Joe saw the finely-shaped mouth of their adversary twist in a smile˜or it may have been a grimace, since the wannabe-assassin missed his target. There was a slight chuckle, too...low and hard to hear.

Kara was definitely grimacing and she chuckled at her own ineptitude. If she lived through this, she'd be on the wire for at least eight hours for messing up such a simple kill.

And now all three of the obviously extremely well-trained operatives knew she was there, trying to kill them. She heeded her instinct and bolted down the hallway, using her comm link to signal the Commander that she would try to lure her three targets to the landing bay.

"Heh...finally a worthy opponent..." Joe's own chuckle and accompanying smile was not at all nice as he took off after his perceived quarry.

"Joe˜what about our assignment..?" Rocky called after him. The Condor continued his single minded pursuit, however. The Owl and the Swallow raced behind him.

"We don't have time for this!" Rocky complained.

"Jo-OE!" Jimmy admonished.

"Nobody's makin' ya follow me!" snarled G-2, who didn't want to let his prey go˜which almost puzzled him. Logic dictated that Rocky and Jimmy were both correct˜following this would-be assassin wasn't according to orders...and yet, there was something about this one that was pushing all his buttons. Joe felt compelled to have to do his utmost to catch this guy. He put on a burst of speed.

Kara prayed she'd actually make it to the bay, as she could definitely hear the trio pounding down the hall after her. Her survival instinct was what was prompting all this...but, even so, Kara's mind was still turning over the implications of the symbol on the backs of not just the operative with the black uniform, but the other two as well. Not only that, but her senses were also telling her that the people behind numbered two humans and a Person˜the one hellbent on catching her.

She was totally ambivalent about leading the three young men into the trap laid for them, but she wasn't about to stand still and allow them to kill her, either. Kara reached the sanctuary of the landing bay and leaped to the first level circular catwalk, relieved to see the silhouette of the troops there, ringed around the bay. She landed on the catwalk and huddled down, breathing heavily at the exhertion and receding anxiety of nearly getting caught by her pursuers.

The three infiltrators rushed into the bay, and the bulkhead door behind them immediately slid shut.

"We're blocked!" the youngest cried.

"Damn it!" cursed the black-caped agent.

"We're trapped!" observed the husky man in green.

The overbright repair lights snapped on, and clicks of dozens of automatic weapons being primed sounded all over the perimeter of the bay: the three Gatchaman agents were in the sights of no less than eighty of Gallactor's finest.

'Well,' Kara personally amended, '...eighty of Gallactor's finest draftees.'  She didn't think that made them the finest, per se˜but they certainly had numbers on their side.

"On my count..." the black-garbed male said to his companions in a low voice. Kara heard him anyway, and was totally aghast˜they were so horribly outnumbered, yet they were fighting anyway? How

"Don't move!" yelled Drakon, striding forward between his two personal Blackbird guards and glaring down at his three captives. "What monumental arrogance you have, to break into the dragon king, our ultimate killing machine! There will be no mercy for spies and saboteurs like--" There was suddenly the appearance of an incredible boomerang-like device, thrown from the upper levels of the bay, taking out just about all the troops at the topmost catwalk. Kara's eyes rolled. Yup...Marin had gotten his fool ass kicked.

"Good timing!" commented Jimmy.

"There's more of them!" the reptillian-uniformed commander stated in irritation. Kara's eyes rolled again˜not only had Marin gone and got his ass kicked, but he had failed to report to their commander the fact that he'd gone after another two of the infiltrators. She stood up and turned around, looking down to see that the trio on the floor of the landing bay had already taken advantage of the distraction the boomerang attack had afforded and were now gone, the half-dozen or so troops that had been closest to them now scattered on the ground, out cold or dead.

'Hmmm...if Marin's team got beaten,' Kara thought to herself, '...then that means...'

"There are bombs in the engine room..!" the Blackbird groaned, immediately running for the upper exit with the intention to try to get to the engine room and find the bombs, even as every soldier with a gun opened fire all over the bay.

"Hey, you!" one of the troops noticed that a Blackbird was trying to flee the scene of a muster. "You're supposed to stay and fight!"

"I have to go to--"

"Hey˜you're the Kiri trash!" the soldier recognized Kara's voice, snarling with hatred. He reached out and grabbed her arm, yanking her around from the door to the railing. "Stay and fight, you cowardly bitch!"

"You don't understand, you fool!" Kara snapped, struggling to pull her arm out of the man's grasp. "If I don't get to--"

"You're not leaving us here to fight your battles for you, bitch!" the soldier roared in blind hatred. "Fight, damn you!" Kara ripped her arm out of the soldier's grasp, but her attention had been focused on him˜she freed herself in time to get the butt-end of another soldier's weapon smashed down across the back of her head...and then she was falling...

Chapter 3 by Pykkadilly
Drakon screamed at his idiot troops, who were wasting ammunition and time shooting at the barely-seen figures zipping near the ceiling of the landing bay, ordering them to hold their fire and, instead, aim at the ones on the floor˜then he saw, much to his anger, that the trio of formerly-easy-targets were no longer there.

"Sometimes we appear as one..." intoned Joe.

"Sometimes as five..." added Rocky.

"Sometimes with no form at all˜just a flash at the corners of your vision..." said June.

"But you always know when we're here..." Jimmy said a bit gleefully.

"The Science Ninja Team...Gatchaman!" Ken announced, appearing very clearly, outlined by one of the main repair lights. Everyone fired upon the man the commander's order, but it was merely an illusion.

"Aerial assault formation˜flash strike!" ordered G-1. Suddenly the air was full of fighters that all seemed to be everywhere at once: the Swan taking out several Gallactors with an energy yo-yo device and then sending yet another one of the troops sprawling with a flying kick; the Swallow zipping around, his speed and agility such that he slammed one Gallactor into the wall before downing two more with expert tossing of his bolos; the Condor savagely beating Gallactors with his bare hands, reveling in the damage he was inflicting with his fists; and the Horned Owl slammed troops not only into the unyielding metal walls of the mecha, but into each other as well.

"You idiots!" screamed Drakon, spotting the white-garbed Eagle and attempting to leap on him in an two-weapon ax attack. "Die!!!" Ken was a whirlwind of action, deftly avoiding the blows of not only the axes, but the attacks of two Blackbirds as well. He used the Science Ninja formation: Triple Shadow to help confuse and, ultimately, beat the Blackbirds. Drakon saw that the Gallactor's numbers were seriously dwindling, however, and decided that descretion was the better part of valor, leaping away to escape the landing bay.

Joe had just finished pounding the face of one Gallactor when another one tried to attack him from behind. G-2 unleashed a feather shuriken, smirking when the weapon buried itself in the man's throat. Then he leapt back from the Blackbird that tried to dive-bomb him, flinging a second shuriken at the dark-garbed assassin...but the shuriken struck the opaque black visor at an angle as opposed to lancing up through the eyeball like Joe had intended˜this Blackbird had not been dive-bombing him, but, apparently, dropped out of the air. Most likely killed by one of the other members of the Gatchaman team, he thought, turning his attention to the battle around him...and becoming extremely disappointed when he found none.

"Uhhhhnghhhh..." the Blackbird that had fallen groaned and shifted, apparently still alive. Joe reached for another shuriken to finish the bastard off˜but found, to his annoyance, that he was fresh out. Damnation! Joe reached for his gun, then--

"Joe!" Ken's voice interrupted. "Let's go˜we only have less than sixty seconds before the bombs go off!" The Condor's hand was on his gun and he glared down at the still-living Blackbird lying face-down on the ground.

"Fuck it." he cursed, spitting on the man's sprawled body. "I'm not putting you out of your misery that easy...better to let you fry in the explosion!" Then he raced out of the landing bay after his teammates.


KARA WAS FINDING it very hard to think. Why was she lying on the cold deck? And why was the inside of her Blackbird visor decorated with a feather? And why was that man with the voice that was more than welcome to star in her lovely, lovely wet dreams cursing her..?

"...we only have less than sixty seconds before the bombs go off..."

Bombs. Oh, yes...she had wanted to go find the bombs...but the silly Gallactor got in her way...the pain in the back of her head told her that she'd been stupid enough to get struck from behind...

Goddammit...if she lived through this, she'd be on the wire for at least sixteen hours for being fool enough to allow some grunt to get the drop on her AND for missing a simple kill. That would make for a great time, now, wouldn't it? much time until the bombs went off..? Kara blinked, trying to get her head to work. the engine room...they'd take out the power source for the ship, to be sure...but the ship itself would remain relatively intact˜unless the Science Ninja Team had been smart enough to make sure that the bombs were placed not only to stop the mecha but also to destroy its fuel source...which, judging by how competent they'd been so far, Kara immediately assumed that was exactly what had been done. After all˜it wasn't very politic to have a 400-foot-tall mecha drop like a stone into the middle of downtown Utoland City if the whole point of the mission was supposed to keep the city from being attacked in the first place, right..?

Kara's head cleared just a bit˜there was still some fuzziness around the edges of her thoughts, but it was manageable. Her brain prodded her into action˜she brought her communicator to her mouth.

"Co...Commander...there are bombs...bombs on board..." she croaked into the device.

"What? This is the Kiri upstart, isn't it?" Drakon's voice responded. "That stupid Science Ninja Gatcha-mahoosis fiasco is all your fault! I'm recommending that you get a full day on the wire, you useless bitch!!!" He cut off the link.

Kara would have laughed, but that would only have added to the pounding in her head. These fools didn't want to listen to the emotional Kiri female, then? Fine. She had tried to do her duty by the ship, but they didn't want her help. Now she had to try to help herself... ...but first...a little nap...just...a little...


DRAKON RAN ALONG the route to the command deck of the dragon king, seething with anger. Only a third of the way there, his comm link beeped and he heard the groggy voice of some female:

"Co...Commander...there are bombs...bombs on board..."

Who in the hell was this? Oh, wait˜on the Blackbirds team...there was a woman...yes, that's right...that Kiri that Viz had warned him about...Kiki...Kathy...something...oh, who gave a shit! His ignominious retreat from the landing bay wouldn't have had to happen if she had competently been doing her job, the slut.

"What? This is the Kiri upstart, isn't it?" Drakon's voice responded. "That stupid Science Ninja Gatcha-mahoosis fiasco is all your fault! I'm recommending that you get a full day on the wire, you useless bitch!!!" He cut off the link, storming onto the bridge in a towering rage.

"Gatchaman...I'll deal with them after I destroy Utoland City..." he vowed, looking out the viewport to see the city coming into the range of the dreaded plasma blasters, a fact confirmed by one of the technicians in Tactical.

"By the time I'm done, it'll be ashes!" Drakon snarled, then ordered: "Power to maximum!" The bridge crew followed the command.

"Plasma beam standing by..." the crew commander at the weapons station relayed, "...Ready to fire on your order!"


THE FIVE MEMBERS of Gatchaman were on K deck, trying to open Hatch 8...however, the safety interlocks were still operating and would not allow the hatch to be opened while the flight system was engaged, in spite of the brilliant hacking that Jimmy was doing.

"I-I can't open this hatch lock!" G-4 admitted, looking frazzled.

"Stand back." Joe told everyone, drawing his gun and flipping up its energy dampener. He pointed the weapon at the circular escape hatch and pulled the trigger. The unencumbered energy blast blew the hatch off the ship, and the Science Ninja Team were soon gliding serenely away from the doomed dragon king and back onto the nearby Godphoenix.

THE LIGHT WAS warm and welcoming and made Kara want to weep with relief for being within it. She could feel the presence of the Bright Lady herself.

Yes, Kara, you are loved. assured the gentle voice of the Lady. But, my is not your time yet. You must go back...there is much for you yet to do. You must help the other Kiri defeat the Darkness that would consume you all.

O-other Kiri? But...I thought I was the only one left... Kara was stunned.

Kiri exist in spirit, Kara, not necessarily by birth. The Bright Lady told her. You are the means by which the other Kiri may discover their true power...if you don't return, they may not realize what it is that they can do. They have the power, but you have the must become one if you are to defeat the Darkness. No one may accomplish this alone.

I...don't understand... Kara's head was spinning and fuzzy. How will I know them if they weren't born as I was..?

You already know them, dear one. The Bright Lady bade her. In the

Kara's eyes snapped open.

She was on a ship that was going to explode literally any second now...and she had to get out of there! Unfortunately, while her spirit was more than willing, her head˜her at the very least mildly-concussed head, she now realized˜was less than cooperative. Kara crawled over to one of the emergency cases and smashed it using her wrist claws, grunting as the pain jarred through her to her (surprise!) head. She pawed through the bits of shattered safety glass, finding the item she'd been looking for˜an emergency rebreather. Then she crawled over to where one of the emergency escape hatches were...and waited...


ON THE BRIDGE of the dragon king, Drakon sat at his command chair, bellowing orders:

"Set objective: the ISO building!!!" He pointed imperiously towards the vista filling the viewport. His faithful crew scrambled to do as they were ordered.

In the landing bay, Kara huddled by the escape hatch, her fingers flexing in her anxiety to leave, but she knew that she had to wait until the bombs wrecked the flight system before she had a prayer to open the hatch.

She could only hope that this happened before the fuel finished off the rest of the mecha.


"TARGET IS LOCKED in, Commander!" Tactical announced over the comm system. Drakon's lips curled in a cruel smile.

"FIRE!!!" he roared, one arm sweeping forward as though he, himself, were a god casting forth a thunderbolt with which to strike down the puny human mortals on the Earth.


THE CHARGES SET by June blew. The engines were immediately destroyed, which shut down the power to the entire ship. Kara was bounced around a bit, but she grabbed the emergency release bar of the hatch she was beside and yanked with a strength born of desperation...the bar groaned and began to yawn away from the hatch.

"ROCKY," KEN ORDERED, "Put us into overdrive."

"Copy that!" G-5 acknowledged and then pushed the Godphoenix on a trajectory away from the crumbling mecha. They didn't see the head of the dragon king separate from the dying body and take off as well.

KARA WAS LEANING her entire weight into the stupid emergency release bar, which was now stuck midway through its arc...the primary power systems had rendered the flight systems inert...but the damned back-up generators kicked in and put the safety interlocks back online˜and the safety protocols were now re-engaged for the hatches.

The bar refused to budge.

The reluctant Blackbird didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. A rumble and another violent shudder lurched through the dying dragon king...and Kara stared as the landing bay exterior wall suddenly buckled...and then became rent with several fissures...which, themselves, widened out into gaps that Kara could easily pass through.

She thanked the Bright Lady and dived out of the ship and into the sky...several thousand feet above the waters outside of Utoland City.

THE HUGE DRAGON king mecha exploded in a spectacular fashion, making Jimmy leap to his feet, pumping his fists in triumph.

"Yeah, all right!!!" he crowed.

Joe watched the destruction of the mecha with just the hint of a smile on his face, imagining the wounded Blackbird he'd been prevented from shooting suffering from suffocation at being unable to breathe this high up in the atmosphere. The thought of a Gallactor suffering always seemed to make Joe's day.

Even as the pieces rained down into the large lake below, June reported the escape of the dragon king head. Ken ordered that she keep tracking the mini-ship˜they still had Dr. Nambu's original orders to find the Gallactor's base, and he was determined that they would do this, come hell or high water.

KARA SHOVED THE rebreather into her mouth and then used her free hand to remove the feather shuriken that was still dangling in front of her eye inside her visor. Damn˜that Condor was a dangerous son of a bitch. She'd have to remember that in the future...if she survived the plunge. The Blackbird curled into a ball as the mecha went through its final explosions. The force of the explosions pushed her further away from the mecha pieces˜for which she ought to be grateful, she supposed˜however, she was being pelted with shrapnel from the ship. It was a good thing that her uniform's wings were reinforced fiber...not quite bulletproof, but able to stave off most of the pieces that were catching up with her.

After she was relatively sure that most of the bigger pieces of mecha had passed her by, Kara spread her wings and adjusted the angle of her descent, figuring that she more than likely had a semi-decent chance of being able to back off terminal velocity being as high up as she was. She also estimated that her chances of surviving the landing would be better if she did so in the water, rather than on land.

So she eventually maneuvered herself into a wide, rather graceful spiral, the water below getting inexorably closer and closer.

DRAKON, IN SPITE of having escaped the destruction of the dragon king, was not having a good day at all. He was stammering out an apology to Solaris˜or, rather to Solaris's holographic image˜and Solaris was not in the mood to be apologized to. Solaris coldly ordered that Drakon turn the escape ship around and dispose of the Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, or not bother to return to the base.

"Remember...all power to Gallactor..." Solaris intoned, the holo-image saluting Drakon before fading away.

"HE MUST HAVE picked us up..." Rocky said, puzzled at his console readings, "...he's coming back our way."

"Wait˜he's gonna ram us!" Ken pointed out as the dragon head sped towards the Godphoenix.NOW!!!" The Owl at the controls gasped and used all his skill to get the ship out of the collision course the head of the mecha was now following. However, the enemy ship was still fast enough to give pursuit, as well as creep closer.

"The sensors are picking up a bomb in that craft..." June reported, standing up and looking towards Ken. "It's a neutrino bomb." The Eagle's blood ran cold.

"He's planning on making it a kamkaze mission!" G-1 declared.

WITHIN THE DRAGON king head, Drakon laughed.

"You can't get away from me now, Gatchaman!" He kept laughing. "Anyone who tries to interfere with the Gallactor master plan must pay the ultimate penalty!"

"KEN, HE'S STILL on our tail!" Rocky reported unhappily.

"Right." the leader of the Science Ninjas acknowledged, then ordered: "Buckle down...let's try a hyperspace jump."

"Say what???" the Owl's voice almost squeaked, the million-and-one ways that this particular maneuver could literally blow up in their faces coming to mind.

"Are you serious?" the Condor asked, staring. "You plan to use--"

"Our only choice is the Firebird." the Eagle said logically. "And we can blow him up if he's close enough."

"Ye-es..." Joe conceded in a drawl as a shocked and scared Jimmy looked on, "...but he might take us with him."

"Not if we time it right." Ken's voice was firm. "Rocky, make him follow us into space...we don't want a neutrino explosion in the lower atmosphere."

"Right." the pilot agreed, resigned to trying this hare-brained idea, thinking to himself that he didn't want to live forever, anyway. He punched in the navigational coordinates and guided the ship away from Earth, with the dragon-head vessel still following. "Approaching maximum overdrive..." The safety harnesses engaged, locking the crew of the ship into their seats for the upcoming physical transmutation. The process started, a fiery nimbus beginning to envelop the Godphoenix.

"This maneuver had better work or we'll all be toast..." Ken said by way of prayer. The layer of fire outside the ship thickened.

"YOU CAN'T ESCAPE from me, Gatchamaaaaaan!!!" Drakon's insane howl was unheard across the vacuum of was the explosion of the neutrino bomb aboard his ship. The unholy flare of light from the release of energy was nigh blinding, though.

Yet, out of that burst of neutrino energy flew a magnificent bird of fire, screeching its triumph to the heavens as it winged its way back to Earth.

The Godphoenix reverted back to its normal physical state, with Rocky straining to pull the craft up out of its dive before it hit the water.

KARA LOOKED UP, gasping as she saw in the air above her the phoenix of legend. She recalled a snippet from her childhood˜something her mother had told her:

"The bird of fire is the agent of the Bright behold its radiance is to be blessed by her."

Kara was sure that it was a sign˜she was defecting from Gallactor and never returning to Hontwall ever again. However, there was one last thing that she definitely wanted to find out, and Kara knew that only one person in the world could answer that final question for her. She looked down. The water was coming up fast. It was almost time for the Blackbird to start swimming.

ABOARD THE MOTHERSHIP, Solaris was frowning in thought while gazing out of the viewport.
"Too bad, Solaris." Nambu said, sounding anything but sorry. "I guess you'll have to put off that victory celebration you planned." The elaborately-garbed commander of the Gallactor chuckled and turned to face the security chief.

"My compliments, Dr. Nambu," the alien replied lightly, approaching, "You display a sense of humor in the face of catastrophe. Before too much longer this planet will be ruled by me...but you won't be around to observe that day because you are too dangerous for me to let you live..." One gloved hand reached towards the captive scientist with deadly intent...

...halting at the sound of shattering glass˜the Science Ninja Team dropped in through the skylights in the ceiling of the craft. It had been fairly simple for Gatchaman to find the mothership once the obscuring clouds generated by the late dragon king were gone. The five young people surrounded their mentor, knocking out the guards in the room, and interposing themselves between Nambu and Solaris, who took a few steps back.

"I guess some days it doesn't pay to get out of bed." the security chief deadpanned. "You had something to tell me..?" Solaris chuckled once more, then out-and-out laughed in their faces, appearing to grow to nearly ceiling height and becoming surrounded by what appeared to be an energy aura˜the shifting purple glow seemed to replace most of Solaris's body under the sweeping cape.

"Don't be intimidated..." warned Dr. Nambu, "...this is some kind of illusion."

"You are a foolish species whose era is about to end." loftily declared Solaris in a resonating voice, "You pretend there is hope for your struggle, but the conclusion is cannot fight the will of the universe...those that survive will learn to accept the domination of the Gallactor, if not today, then tomorrow."

Joe had enough of the bullshit˜he threw a feather shuriken at Solaris's head...and it zipped through the apparition's forehead, causing the image to melt even as its mocking laughter echoed through the room.

"He's...a projection." Jimmy said, stunned.


IT WAS SOME time later that a humble Solaris bowed low before the Master that the Gallactor served. The high-tech communications center suddenly...magically?...shifted to a temple setting that evoked the atmosphere of ancient Egypt or the like.

"Forgive me, Lord Zoltek, we met with unexpected resistance." the commander apologized abjectly. "We were unable to complete our conquest of the planet according to the timetable."

"Hear me, Solaris." bade the awesome dark being before which Solaris was submissively posed. "Do not underestimate the skill of the Science Ninja must exterminate them all."

"Yes, sir."

"I'm counting on you." Zoltek said, practically purring, "You will be the king of planet Earth...the leader of the new Age of the Gallactor..."

"Your wish is my command, my lord!" Solaris assured the entity. The commander of the Gallactor stood and saluted in rapture. "All power to the Gallactor!"

An anticipatory chuckle echoed through the chamber, but there were no witnesses to tell whether it was Solaris or Zoltek...nor exactly what it was that either of them could have been anticipating at the time.

THE SCIENCE NINJA Team Gatchaman were in the Godphoenix when they received an incoming message. The ship's main video monitor flickered to life.

"Thank you, my friends." Dr. Nambu told them sincerely. "Very good work˜the world will never know how close it came to complete disaster...and it's not over yet, I'm afraid. The Gallactor will be back to challenge us again, but with your strength and courage, I know we'll prevail. Are you with me?"

To the last person, the Eagle, the Condor, the Swan, the Swallow and the Horned Owl agreed, wholeheartedly.
This story archived at