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.
Author's Chapter Notes:
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.