Regrets by Katharine
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Author's Chapter Notes:
This is the first fic of what my editor humorously calls the "Disturbediverse" (because the nickname she gave me is "Disturbed")

REGRETS


Original Fan Fiction: A Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets Short
Story (c)1994, 2001 by Katharine.

Characters © Tatsunoko Productions, Sandy Frank Enterprises,
and KFM.  Do not reproduce without permission
from author.



 



     At 8:56AM on a cold, foggy Monday,
the gates of Sky Harbor men's maximum security prison shut behind
it's newest inmate. With the metal on metal clash of condemnation,
convicted murderer of three Stanley Bradley bid hail and farewell
to the outside world for the rest of his life.

     A week later he was as comfortable
as a convict could get, acclimated to his new surroundings, comfortable
with the few men that he had chosen as his friends, and savvy
to the rhythms and customs of the prison. The queers left him
alone, the bullies for the most part gave him no trouble. He was
a big man himself, six-two with a slight but wiry frame, thinning
blonde hair pulled back in a tight tail. He figured that it was
his outside reputation that kept people off his back rather than
his size, and enjoyed the peace that he had because of it. It
didn't figure to last long, in a place where outward strength
and a reputation for brutality were all a man owned. So he kept
to himself, worked at the welding job that the prison staff had
given him, kept his eyes and ears open for news from the outside,
and became a regular at the library. He missed his little girl
Amy.

     Months passed. One appeal after
another ran out; he wasn't going anywhere. His attorney's bag
of tricks was nearly empty. He missed Amy even more. He began
to realize that what had originally started as just another bar
fight at Sam's Roadhouse, would terminate at his death of old
age inside concrete and razorwire, laser guardlines, infrared
and motion sensor detectors.

     Six months gone. His ex-wife sent
him a picture of Amy at her fifth birthday party, dressed in pink
and smiling hugely for daddy. She was still too young to understand
what had happened to him, only that he had to go away for a long,
long time. He felt bad for his ex-wife Debbie, who would someday
have to tell Amy the truth. He didn't love Debbie anymore, but
he wished that no one would have to tell such a wonderfully happy
and innocent little girl that her daddy was a murderer.

     So he kept the picture of his daughter
in his shirt pocket at all times, close to his heart, and wished
that what had happened at Sam's Roadhouse hadn't happened at all.
Even if those three men had been drunken and stupid loudmouth
assholes, picking at waitress Jolene's blouse and making comments
about her anatomy that would've made most Marine drill sergeants
blush like schoolgirls.

     If he had one regret in his life,
it would be opening his mouth to tell the three idiots to shut
the hell up. Sometime later, during the shouting match that ensued,
he ended up bringing his glass pitcher of Miller High Life crashing
down onto the big one's head, caving in his skull and sending
blood and brains splattering all over the oak bartop. The rest
was trivial, really, and ended with the death of the other two
as well. He couldn't really remember what happened after he swung
the pitcher, but it hardly mattered anymore.

     He missed his daughter, and the
days rolled on.



 



     Bradley came to discover that
nearly two-thirds of the inmates at Sky Harbor weren't violent
crime offenders like himself, but captured troopers from the terrorist
Gallactor Syndicate. He was familiar with Gallactor, and how they
ran entire countries like the old mafia. Their conquest was always
control of the planet's wealth and resources, and the entire international
community was their adversary. In a way, he admired them, for
standing up to the UN giant and the Earth Defense Command, and
yet at the same time he feared them for the many times that they
had come near to destroying life as they knew it on the entire
globe. When the occasion called for a direct confrontation between
the EDC and Gallactor, combat squadrons and anti-terrorist teams
from around the world were deployed against them and their war
machines. Gallactor prisoners were taken when the opportunity
arose. After interrogation, they were tried for their crimes and
deposited at the only six penitentiaries world-wide that were
secure enough to hold them. The sole American prison was at Sky
Harbor.

     Battle-hardened and filled with
hatred for the EDC, they were left for the rest of their lives
at Sky Harbor. Their only hope was that Gallactor might forgive
them for being captured, and take them back.

     Until then, their only recreation
was cursing the EDC and their combat squadrons, harboring every
grudge, every injury suffered, every shred of hate and hope and
prayer that they would someday be free to exact some sort of revenge
on their captors. And at the top of everyone's list was the Rigan
Red Impulse, the EDC Beta Squadrons, and the most celebrated combat
team of them all: G-Force.

     They watched the Networks for news
of Gallactor's movements, and waited.

     Gallactor had broken into prisons
only twice before to fill their ranks with new troops. Bradley
wondered if they would accept him, if they decided to break Sky
Harbor. It was a chance at freedom, a new life, a chance to see
Amy again. Hope, so rare and faint inside the prison, began to
glimmer inside Bradley.

     Over the weeks, Bradley noticed
a significant change in the security force on the prison. More
guards were brought in- not normal correctional officers but SWAT-trained
law enforcement. National guardsmen were added on. The surveillance
net around the compound's perimeter was tightened to the point
where anyone wandering within one hundred meters of the fence
line was zeroed with krypton lights, alarms, automated laser turrets
and no less than a dozen Heckler and Koch T340-A 7mm magnum sniper
rifles with night-vision infrared scopes. Lockdowns became more
frequent. Soon, nobody was seeing any daylight at all. The staff
inside was very, very, nervous.

     Bradley's sole cellmate, a refrigerator
sized and completely insane former Gallactor commander named Lorenson,
passed the news along that his division, a small but powerful
faction named the Black Hammer, had been located and annihilated
by G-Force. Seventy armored air battle cruisers and nearly four
hundred Gallactor personnel had been destroyed. The time was ripe
for new blood to be rounded up, and maybe a reconnaissance of
their older and more experienced warriors.

     Bradley could barely contain his
excitement. It was nearly a year into his life-long term, and
he felt that his freedom was near.

     Deep in the cold and foggy pre-dawn,
a Gallactor amphibious ship slowly cruised through the Pacific
on a north by northeast heading, silently slipping past the sleeping
residents of Fort Bragg and Eureka, navigating around the rocky
beachhead. Radar and infrared sensors passed harmlessly over its
hull, engines cycling so slow and soundlessly that sound detection
was impossible. It came to port about six hundred meters off the
beach in front of Sky Harbor, and settled on the sea floor. It
waited.

     Lorenson didn't sleep that night.
He spent the better part of it pacing his cell like a bear in
a zoo.

     Bradley dropped off right away.
He had worked nearly thirteen hours in the weld shop building
door fortifications and he was exhausted. Before he drifted off
he remembered hearing something from Lorenson, being told to get
plenty of rest while he could.

     In the first of four control rooms,
a corrections officer lay splayed across his desk-mounted video
screens, blood swiftly pooling under his slashed neck. Behind
him, the soldier wiped the blood off of his knife on the sleeve
of his black combat suit. He then clicked his radio's transmit
button twice in quick succession, then once more.

     In the second and third control
rooms, the corrections officers were shot by more of the soldiers,
wielding simple semi-automatic pistols with silencers. The only
thing heard outside the rooms were soft popping noises, like someone
inside was opening cans of soda.

     In the fourth and last control room,
four more of the soldiers held a lone officer at gunpoint. Shaking
like a snared rabbit and pissing in his pants, he opened up the
secondary gates and shut down the security net in the all four
quadrants, then locked down the quarters holding the guardsmen,
and the nine watchtowers. Afterward, the soldiers shot him in
the head.

     Lorenson reached down and grabbed
Bradley by the collar, shaking him awake like a doll. Bradley
blinked in surprise; all of the lights were on and prisoners were
leaving their cells at a fast run. Lorenson grinned down at him,
and told him joyfully that it was time to go.

     Men were silently running like mad
out of the cellblocks and out into the yard. The sight was so
surreal that Bradley nearly tripped. Right on his tail, Lorenson
picked him up by the arm and told him to move his ass. The secondary
delivery gates were opened wide, and men were streaming through
it, being herded by more men wearing Gallactor combat green. Bradley
braved a glance upward at one of the watchtowers and saw correctional
officers and guardsmen standing trapped with their mouths gaping
open. The lasers were inactive; the guardsmen couldn't get out
of their cubicles to shoot. Bradley fought the urge to laugh insanely.
Then he was out on the beach, seafoam washing around his ankles.

     The amphibious submarine breached
the water like an oceanliner-sized whale, water sliding off its
sides in crashing sheets, and advanced towards the crowd of inmates.
Bradley watched in pure amazement as the machine crawled up onto
the beach on huge treads, and as the armored plating over it's
nose pulled back to reveal a loading hatch. Still half in and
half out of the surf the hatch opened and two Gallactor troopers
appeared, waving them all in. Minutes later they were all piled
inside, sitting in seats and on the hull floor. When the armor
slid shut and the submarine began to reverse back out into the
ocean, the men began to cheer and sing. Lorenson clapped Bradley
on the back, congratulating him and telling him that his life
was just beginning. Bradley agreed, and the releif that he felt
was indescribable, for he saw himself soon finding his daughter.



 



     Bradley was fed, given new clothes,
and assigned a rank and post in Gallactor intelligence. He was
very pleased to see himself working beside his new friend Lorenson,
who would teach him the ropes of being a first-class Gallactor
agent. He rested, and then joined Lorenson's team of specialists
who were working on plans to recapture a nuclear power station
in Quebec. It was easy, interesting work, and being computer literate
and business-minded, (many of the men he had been imprisoned with
weren't) he fit right in. He thought that he had never been happier
in his life. All he needed now was to locate Amy and bring her
home. The threat of invasion of his new base of operations by
the EDC was the farthest thing from his mind.

     Lorenson, Bradley, and the rest
of Gallactor had no idea that they were being tracked, and had
been since the amphibious ship had surfaced the Pacific in front
of Sky Harbor. The warship Phoenix, her blue, red, and black avian
form invisible in the sea, moved silently through the ocean like
a shark, her course heading due south. G-Force had a positive
bearing on the new Gallactor base and was gearing up for the assault.



 



     Lorenson and Bradley were eating
together in the stadium-sized commissary, discussing plans, the
future, and life in general in the Gallactor universe, when the
explosion hit.

     The blast came rolling in the form
of a hard, jarring concussion, and the floor heaved upward as
though over a severe coastal earthquake. Then flame and smoke
shot through the upper floors of the base, debris flying like
cannonfire and slicing anyone who hadn't been cooked in the heatwave.
In nearly total panic, Lorenson and Bradley ran out of the cafeteria
and out into the main arena of operations where their war machines
lay stationed for attack.

     Men were running everywhere. Bradley
saw the experienced ones regroup and head out in formation; the
newer ones, including a great many of his former inmates, scattered
screaming in sheer hysteria. A uniformed commander stood on a
catwalk above and shouted down at them in a futile attempt at
order. Then Lorenson, in a rage of disgust at the fleeing men,
bellowed out for them to halt and regroup into their ranks. He
had forgotten about Bradley.

     Suddenly the top of Lorenson's head
disappeared in a red haze of blood. Bradley spun around as Lorenson
hit the floor with a wet smack, and saw her.

     She stood above him, palming the
circular blade that she had so neatly sliced Lorenson's head open
with, her expression cold and grim with the business at hand,
scanning the crowd for her next target. For a moment Bradley was
transfixed, staring at the G-Forcer in open fascination, then
she looked down right at him. Something sparked in her eyes, and
Bradley dove for cover.

     Whatever it was she tossed at him,
it whipped past his head like a bullet and he felt hot stinging
pain on his right shoulder. He scrabbled off towards the hulk
of an armored scout tracker, and crouched low behind its left
fore tire. He looked out from beyond the tracker's protection
for her and instead saw another G-Forcer, and this one was little
more than a young man! Bradley watched as the kid swung low and
upward with what looked like a pair of bolas, throttling the trooper
who had advanced to capture him. Then a low flying back-kick executed
with all the speed of a whiplash sent another one reeling off
with a crushed chest. The kid snatched up a discarded rifle and
with a manic grin of pure glee sprinted off in the opposite direction.
The woman jumped down; Bradley's heart very nearly stopped. The
jump was better than twenty feet. She landed on her feet like
a cat and zeroed in on him. She had missed him once; it wasn't
going to happen twice. With a short squeal Bradley jumped up and
ran for the opened hatch of a personnel carrier.

     He slipped on someone's blood and
fell headlong against the carrier's side. Personnel were strewn
everywhere, dead from massive traumas, twisted and broken. There
must be dozens of EDC, Bradley thought wildly. Where were they
all?

     Gasping for breath, staring at the
wreckage around him, he wished he was back behind bars, back where
it was safe. Suddenly all of the promise Gallactor might've had
for him seemed delusive, a future of nothing but war, terror,
and death. His death, and the death of his daughter for bringing
her with him.

     Just then a freshly killed man thumped
down beside him like a dropped sack of animal feed. This time
Bradley screamed, long and shrill, and he stumbled off towards
another corridor.

     Behind him, standing on the carrier
in blue and white battle gear, the G-Forcer resheathed his blood-slick
boomerang blade and lifted his hand to speak into his communicator.
Bradley caught a snatch of the transmission, something like coming
your way
, and bolted down the access.

     Bradley saw who was in front of
him and slid to a stop. He froze very much like a deer caught
in the high beams of an oncoming truck, pure terror slamming deep
in his heart.

     The G-Forcer slowly stepped out
in front of him, his eyes as black as death and burning with intense,
unwavering hate. For a fleeting moment Bradley thought to run
again but then realized with sick horror that he was cornered.
Then he remembered his own sidearm, and it gave him hope that
he could get past this man. It was only one man. He decided to
fight for his life.

     Vivid in his mind was Amy, still
only four years old and scooting around the yard on her little
tricycle. He fumbled for his gun and sudden pain sliced through
his midsection like fire. Stumbling back from the impact, he looked
down and saw at least three knife-thin steel shuriken sticking
out of his abdomen, blood coursing from the wounds. He looked
back up with a stunned expression, not understanding how the G-Forcer
could have moved so fast to nail him. Trembling from shock, he
let the gun slip from his fingers.

     Then the G-Forcer was over him,
tossing him down and flipping him over like a roped steer. Bradley
looked up at his face and saw that his eyes weren't black after
all but a blue as cold and hard as glacial ice. He saw his death
already rehearsed in those insensitive, unforgiving eyes and he
struggled for the words he needed to plead for his life, beg for
his daughter, say anything to get away from him.

     The G-Forcer took him by the hair
and lifted his head up and back. Bradley's mouth dropped open,
and blood, warm and coppery over his tongue, dripped from his
lips. I'm not a Gallactor, I'm just a regular guy. I made some
bad choices. I'm just a regular guy-


     He managed to moan only one word.

     "P-please..."

     Something cold and hard ripped across
his throat. His breath whistled out in a hot gust; he tried to
breathe in but couldn't. He choked, saw his own blood spray outward
in a fine red cloud. And he saw Amy, calling her daddy. The G-Forcer
threw his body down and strode back out into the vehicle staging
area, joining his squad.



 



     "What's wrong, Jay?"

     "Nothing. I was thinking about
something I did back there."

     "What?"

     A long pause.

     "Remember that guy you herded
towards me?"

     "Yeah."

     "I don't think he was a real
Gallactor agent."

      Another long pause.

      "That maybe I should have
let him go..."



*****

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