Ivan stood up; it was lunch time. The teacher, and most of the other students, had left the room, already. Ivan watched Jinpei cram his book on top of a mass of crumpled papers. Then he saw Omi finish his notes and neatly tuck them into a color coded folder.
He didn’t bother with notes, but he knew he had made a mistake by the odd glances he received from the other students on their way out. Three other boys walked over, one of them spat out a word Ivan didn't quite understand, but Ivan realized he was being addressed in a hostile manner. Omi and Jinpei shot the other boys dirty looks. The three unfamiliar boys baffled Ivan, because they wanted to cause pain. It reminded him of his father on several levels.
“Leave... me alone,” Ivan said in awkward Japanese, feeling artificial blood rush to his face. Again, he possessed power to make this teenager respect him, but he wasn't allowed to use it; the risk of the Black Ghost finding them was too great. The unfamiliar boys started laughing and mocking him. Again, anger and frustration flamed hot in Ivan's chest; how he wanted to make them stop, inflict pain back.
One of the unfamiliar boys, again, spat out the word Ivan didn't know, but he saw Jinpei bristle up. Ivan picked up Jinpei's hostile thought, :Bigots! Pieces of shits! You're the 'barbarian', treating him so rude.:
He felt both Omi and Jinpei get defensive. He could sense them both shift their weight and tense their muscles, ready to fight after they stood.
“Go hump yourself, jerk,” Jinpei scoffed back.
“My name is Aki, and I'll give you two newbies some smart advice. Don't hang around foreigners,” the same one who spat out the first insult said. Aki then gave Jinpei a sardonic glance and said, “Unless you want to spend your time getting your ass kicked.”
Jinpei raised his arm, lighting quick, but it was caught by Omi before it smashed into Aki’s face. Ivan could tell Omi had the same cat-like reflexes, which made Jinpei start.
“It’s not polite to threaten people,” Omi said, glaring at Aki. Omi turned to Jinpei and shook his head, “Don’t fight. You’ll just get detention.”
“Oh! I see; he’s your boyfriend, and the little foreign bastard watches,” Aki taunted back. The other two howled in laughter, grabbed their crotches, and made kissing noises at Omi. The blond assassin smiled at Jinpei, but Ivan could see the malice behind it.
“Please, allow me,” Omi said. Jinpei took a few steps back and yanked Ivan with him. Omi launched himself at the three larger boys.
“Wow,” Jinpei said, watching Omi make quick work of their new schoolmates. The bullies scrambled away from the slight looking teenager. The three new students were now alone in the classroom. “That was really excellent. That didn't look like any fighting style I know.”
“Well... I just do a lot of judo. That’s all,” Omi stammered, with a bright blush. He picked up his backpack and slung it over his shoulder.
“That... that... and Weiss Kreuz assassin training... helps,” Ivan said, no need to lie.
Omi froze with wide, blue eyes. Jinpei turned and got defensive towards Omi.
“What? Who are you?” Jinpei asked, lifting his fists and slowly advancing on Omi.
“You... have ... have same type of training... Gatchaman... fighting... to save people.... from alien... domination,” Ivan said. Both boys turned to Ivan with incredulous expressions.
“How do you know about me?” Omi asked.
“Yeah! How do you know?” Jinpei echoed.
:Because I’m not normal either. It seems we have a lot in common. Maybe we should go eat and talk about it, but can I drop the pretense of talking? It makes me uncomfortable.: Ivan thought into Omi and Jinpei’s minds. The boys glanced over at each other and let their shock melt away.
“Sure. Are you telepathic or something?” Jinpei asked. Ivan levitated his backpack and grabbed it before heading to the doorway.
:I have a lot of talents, but I have some horrible limitations, too. You see, I’m a cyborg with psychic abilities. It's better, for my sake, to have two sharp allies. That's why I'm being honest with you. Both of you spend your time fighting against the same type of people I'm struggling to stop.:
“Now this is cool! I meet a cyborg and an assassin on my first day. Finally! I feel like I’m the normal one,” Jinpei said with a wild gleam coming to his brandy-colored eyes.
“What? What do you mean?” Omi asked. Jinpei glanced around slyly and then got a crafty smile.
“I can't tell you everything, but meeting you two.... it sure beats the heck of crazy goons trying to engineer world disasters.”
“You two beat me. I don’t have anything special about me,” Omi said.
:Yes, but you do manage three other assassins, and hack computers, and act as a go between for the police. Not to mention you run a profitable floral shop.: Ivan pointed out as they walked out into the hallway.
“That’s cool. I want to boss around three assassins and hack for them! That’s just wicked cool! Too bad I’m the low man in my group. I have to listen to Ken I-can’t-pay-my-bar-tab Washio,” Jinpei griped.
“Wow. I have a Ken on my team, too. It’s a small world,” Omi said brightly. “I’m more of a 'behind the scenes' guy. I work from a distance, you could say. Tell me more about yourselves.”
“When will Youji get here?” Ken Hidaka wailed to the ceiling, as he leaned back. He gripped the bars and swung slightly as he reiterated his question. He looked over to Jet, who leaned against the bars with his long, pointed nose poking outside. Joe Asakura, on the other hand, sat calmly on a metal bunk.
“Would you shut up, for the last stinking time,” Jet growled. “I can’t wait to get bailed out of here!”
“If you wouldn’t have crashed our cars, things would have been fine,” Ken said, swinging from left to right as his white knuckled fists clung to the bars.
“You want to say that again, soccer mom?” Jet asked with a wide toothy smile. Ken jumped away from the bars and narrowed his eyes.
“Yeah!” Ken said, gritting his teeth. A large shadow engulfed the pair.
“If you don’t quit, I’ll beat the shit out of both of you,” he threatened, shooting each of them a look of pure anger. Ken and Jet went back to their holding cell bars, periodically shooting each other dirty looks.
“Is there a Heinrich, Washio, and Kudou in the waiting room?” a female police officer asked. Ken Washio glanced at the other two men who had been waiting with him in silence.
“My name is Youji Kudou, officer. I’m sorry if my coworker caused any problems, but I do have to say, I’m glad it gave me a chance to meet you,” the blond man said, flashing a charming smile at the woman. She blushed horribly as she lead the way to the holding cell.
Washio grimaced at Kudou’s lame pick up line and rolled his eyes. He glanced over at the other man, Heinrich. The man with a German name wore dark glasses, a fedora, and thick gloves. Eagle Ken could clearly see anger in the man's hasty walk and clenched lips. He shook off the thought and got back to being angry with Condor Joe. He had to bail out Joe with the money he owed Jun for his bar tab. Now, Jun was certainly going to make him work the door for the Snack J all weekend long.
“Youji! What took you so long?” asked a young man in a green soccer shirt. He was bouncing up and down in excitement. “Sorry about the van.”
“No problem. Aya picked it up and is going to get it fixed. Is Omi okay?” Youji asked, walking over to the cell.
“Fine, no thanks to him,” the soccer guy said, jerking his thumb towards a redhead with a scowl.
Ken Washio couldn't yank his eyes off the bright scarlet hair for a long moment, then his eyes traveled downward towards the lanky body. He shook off the distraction with aggravation; this redhead was tougher to ignore than usual. He was still stinging from being turned down by a Saudi Prince his team had rescued from Egobossler's influence. Ken chalked up his wandering eye to wounded pride and adopted a cool, authoritative stance.
“Albert! It wasn’t my fault!” the redhead shouted in English, which Ken picked up with his rusty language skills. The German man shook his head.
“You know better than to make a spectacle of yourself, Jet!” the man said in English, with a thick German accent; it was harder for Ken to make out. Ken tried to eavesdrop on the two as they descended into a fierce, low-toned argument. He could pick out the two used a mix of German and English; it cause Ken further curiosity what the lanky redhead was doing with the older man.
“Ken, can you bail me out now? I’ve had enough,” Joe asked, starling him back to the task at hand.
“I wouldn’t bail you out for all the tea in China!” the soccer guy shouted at Joe.
“Not you. Him,” Joe said and, pointed to Ken Washio.
“Sorry. Guess Ken is a popular name.” The soccer guy gave a half-hearted rubb to the back of his head. “Speaking of which, Youji, can I get out of here?”
“Yeah. I posted your bail. You owe me, big time,” the blond flirt said with a smirk as he eyed the female police officer.
“All of you are free to go. Just don’t cause trouble in front of the high school again,” she warned. The younger soccer fan named Ken bounded out of the cell and stood by his coworker, the flirt.
“You know, you’re still being a jerk about the accident,” Ken said, glaring at Jet. “I wouldn't have ran into your car, if you were watching what you were doing.”
“Go suck a soccer ball, flower boy,” Jet shouted and ran towards the florist. In a flash, Albert grabbed Jet around the waist and started dragging him towards the door. Youji planted himself in between the hostile pair, while struggling to move his coworker out of the room too.
“I think you’ve had enough excitement today,” Youji said, trying to avoid fists.
“You too,” Albert said, jerking Jet along behind him. The four left, leaving Eagle Ken with his second. Ken turned to Joe and opened his mouth.
“Ah, ah! Not a word, Washio,” Joe said, waving a finger in the air. Ken sighed and followed Joe out of the holding area.
“Decisions, decisions,” Youji said, smiling as he leaned on the shop’s van. Parked in front of the florists’ van was a pretty, blond girl in a red Porsche. Parked behind the van was a pretty, brunette girl on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Youji hadn’t felt this torn in a long time.
Both had wonderful athletic figures and fantastic taste in transportation. He flipped a mental coin just as the bell rang and a flood of teenagers rushed towards them. He quickly spotted Omi’s blond hair; he was walking with two other teenage boys.
“Youji! Hey! I hoped you’d pick me up,” Omi said as the other two boys tagged along.
“Oh no! Aren’t these the other two from the car accident this morning?” Youji asked Omi. The young assassin nodded enthusiastically. To Youji’s delight, both women walked over to the group.
“Youji Kudou. These are my new friends, Jinpei Nambu and Ivan Whiskey,” Omi introduced.
“You made friends,” the blond woman squealed in French and flung herself at the boy named Ivan. “I’m so happy!”
“Please, Frances,” Ivan said, peeling away from her embrace.
“I like your new friends, Omi,” Youji said, eying the women who seemed related to the boys.
“Well, I hope you’re turning a new leaf,” the brunette girl said, crossing her arms and adopting a skeptical look at Jinpei.
“Let me assure you, Omi is the most upstanding student you’ll ever see. Squeaky clean,” Youji said, flashing her a smile while ruffling Omi’s hair.
“Hey, guys! Why don’t you come over, and we’ll get the homework over, play some video games, and eat some pizza?” Jinpei asked.
“Oh no! You have to bartend tonight. I’ve got an appointment,” the brunette girl said.
“Jun,” Jinpei whined and gave her a sour look.
“I’ve got a wedding we’re working on anyway,” Omi said, looking disappointed. “But we could get together for a little while tomorrow.”
“Cool,” Jinpei said. “Do you have a job, Ivan?”
“No. It wouldn't be... practical,” he answered, looking at Omi and Jinpei.
“Big Sis can always use an extra hand on weekends,” Jinpei offered.
“I can always use another delivery guy around the holidays. This will be perfect,” Omi said.
“Wait a minute!” the women and Youji all shouted at once.
“Come on, Jinpei. Time to go,” Jun said, walking back over to her motorcycle. Jinpei got on behind her and waved goodbye as they took off.
“Yes, Ivan. We’ve got to get home. We’ll talk about this job idea with the others,” Frances said, leading Ivan towards the Porsche. Youji watched them leave and turned to Omi.
“Okay, you’ve got to get us invited over to their house,” Youji said.
“Which one? Jinpei or Ivan’s?” Omi asked, hopping up in the van.
“Either one will suit me just fine,” Youji said, hopping into the drivers seat.
“I guess you wondered why I’ve invited you to my base,” the man in a black, skeletal mask asked the two men seated at the long mahogany table. The room was dim and empty of any other presence.
“We didn’t come here for the sights, Scar,” Reiji Takatori said. “You had an interesting proposition. It seems your science fair projects got away from you, and you’d like some help tracking them down. Isn’t that it? Haven’t nine of them been running loose for a few years now?”
“My understanding was that Scar and the Black Ghost organization was offering help in eliminating the obstacle to Sosai Z’s domination. The blasted Science Ninja Team, not some rickety, old cyborgs, is where our concerns lay,” Count Egobossler said, crossing his arms after casting a sardonic look at Takatori.
“I have problems of my own. It seems Kritiker is planning to follow me into my newly acquired territory in Utoland City,” Takatori said.
“That’s why I’m proposing an alliance between our organizations. I believe we can help each other since our problems have all seemed to converge in one city,” Scar said, leaning back in his high-back chair.
“Sosai Z will not accept anything less than total world control,” Count Egobossler said, an intense, passionate expression crossing his handsome face.
“If he wishes to administrate the world on an overlord level, who am I to argue? That is not the goal of the Black Ghost organization. And as far as the Takatori Family, there is need for the wealth and low level control of the streets. The Black Ghost organization has lost some of this in its focus on technology development. I believe our enemies, and my property, can be controlled if we work together,” Scar said.
“You have point,” Takatori said finally. “These assassins are very good... and very illusive.”
“I’d like you to consider fetching my property, the Double Zero Cyborgs, for me, Mr. Takatori. In return, I’d like Count Egobossler to hunt down your dirty, gutter sniping assassins,” Scar said.
“And what does Sosai Z get in return for catching a bunch of assassins from the Kritiker organization?” Count Egobossler asked, flashing a sly smile.
“I will personally handle your Science Ninja Team problem. If each of you brought the dossiers I’ve asked for, we can exchange information and plan an organized strike in a month or so,” Scar said. “Gentlemen, what is your answer?” There was marked silence for three long minutes.
“I’m in, Scar,” Takatori said. He turned to the Count and said, “Good luck with those Kritiker pest.”
“Don’t worry. I’d be pleased to handle your problem for you, Mr Takatori,” Count Egobossler said. “I have a person in mind for this job. Of course, I'll need to gain his release from prison.”
“Give me his name, and my men, Schwarz, will get him out.”
“Donald Wade. I've got his information too.”
“We meet again on Wednesday with our proposals. Time and speed is of the essence. Here are the dossiers on my property, Mr Takatori,” Scar said, handing over nine manila folders.
“Don’t worry. Schwarz will catch them,” Takatori said with a smile as he flipped through the folders. “I have a feeling none of these enemies, or property as you call them, will know what hit them.”
To be continued.