A Day in the Life

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A Day in the Life

Post by Redbird » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:04 pm

This was originally posted to the Gatchamania site in response to the 200 Prompt Challenge. I had a lot of fun writing it and hope you enjoy it :)

It's evolved into an ongoing story (when I have time to actually write it). Am posting the original response here and will update with the continuation in a separate thread.
Last edited by Redbird on Sun Feb 18, 2018 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Day in the Life

Post by Redbird » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:11 pm

*ryu* *****
Ryu Nakanishi thought about staying home to watch the big game on TV, but while that sounded full of potential, he decided it was high time he went out to do a little fishing. He slapped a big straw hat on his head, grabbed his fishing pole in one hand and his tackle box in the other, and after locking up, headed out the door.

The pier was crowded that afternoon. Everyone was smiling and nodding to one another and filled with good cheer. He passed a bunch of kids roller skating along the docks, and a sunburned man in a Hawaiian shirt singing a dirty ditty about the birds and the bees to himself as he worked.

"Eat my dust!" one of the skater kids shouted to a friend as they raced along the dilapidated pier and Ryu snorted, willing to bet anything they'd wind up in the drink. He rounded the next corner and spied a fishing vessel "The Dawn", that was preparing to disembark on a booze cruise. He suddenly stopped short in surprise for everyone on the boat was dressed as if ready for romance. The press of the tanned, oiled bodies of the attractive men and women aboard gave him pause. Strains of Guns and Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" drifted out over the water from a neighboring boat, the promise of eternal love.

Ryu continued past "The Dawn", when a young woman came running down the ramp to the boat and was promptly sick, emptying her stomach right on the pier. He turned around at the noise, leaning on his fishing pole, and watched as a well muscled Adonis with a dragon tattoo on his calf and hair the color of sunshine, came after her.

"Come on Melanie!" Adonis huffed impatiently, hands on his hips. "Get it together!"

The girl merely moaned and rested her head on the ground.

"I have no idea why I even brought you out here!" Adonis continued, as Ryu frowned. "You're going to embarrass me in front of everyone!"

People were beginning to murmur and stare as they walked by, whispering behind their hands and pointing.

Adonis looked up to see Ryu standing a few feet away, watching them with growing interest.

"What're YOU looking at fat boy? " Adonis sneered, showing his perfect pearly white teeth. "You coming on board? Coming on the booze cruise? I saw you checking it out.”

"Nah, I don't think so...." Ryu countered. "Not my style...."

Adonis snorted. "I'll just bet!" He stepped off the boat and onto the pier, appraising him with an arrogant air, and finding him lacking. "Say...just what is your style? Blondes? A water buffalo?"

"I prefer hula dancers myself." he said mildly, watching Melanie as she tried to get to her feet, but stumbled, almost falling into the water.

He pushed past the golden boy, wanting to get the girl to safety, but Adonis was quicker and grabbed her arm first, roughly yanking her to his side, the girl crying out in pain. Her long dark hair hung in her face obscuring her features, she struggled to free herself from his grasp.

"You're hurting me Steven!" she cried, hair sliding to the side and Ryu could see her blackened eye. "Let me go!"

He felt a fire building in his belly, a red haze beginning to creep in on the edges of his vision. There were few things he hated in life, but there was nothing he hated more, than a bully.

"Be quiet and get back on the boat. This is what I get for doing speed dating!" Adonis snorted, then saw Ryu still standing there. "What? You want her? Even she's too good for you and she's worthless!"

"Alright, enough!" Ryu shouted, letting go of his fishing pole and dropping his tackle box with a thump. "Get on the boat or get the hell outta here!"

To his surprise the creep suddenly rushed him, swinging madly. Ryu ducked under his arm, and came around his back, shoving him into a cement pylon. Steven caught himself at the last second before turning around to face him again, fists cocked, eyes snapping.

A blow whizzed over Ryu's head, his straw hat went flying to parts unknown, as the guy danced around him. He casually deflected a blow, which only infuriated the bully more, as he continued to curse in his frustration.

"Ya' know," he said mildly. "I really don't have time for this today...."

And he let loose with a solid haymaker that caught Steven right under his chin.

The braggart swayed on his feet for a fraction of a second, a comical look on his face, then collapsed in a pile on the dock beside the garbage can.

How appropriate, he thought wryly.

Another girl from the party boat, a friend he assumed, came running down the ramp and knelt down by Melanie who was frozen to the spot, eyes wide. It took some coaxing but she was able to help her to her feet. Ryu could hear them talking about what an ass Adonis was, and the friend was trying to convince her to filing charges against him.

"Uh, Mister.....I called the police." A timid woman wearing a sarong and a bikini top told him, holding out his straw hat, which had been knocked off during the fight. She looked frightened and didn't want to get too close to him. "They'll be here in few minutes..."

Ryu nodded his thanks, tucking the hat beneath his arm, and bent to pick up his rod and tackle box once more.

"Hey!You over there in the red shirt!" he called out, pointing to one of the dock workers who stood staring in awe. "You get two of your pals and take Sleeping Beauty here and put him somewhere secure until the cops come, ok? One of the storerooms down by the main office, ask for Rocco, he'll help you."

"Yes sir, Mr. Nakanishi, sir!"

The dockhand poked the kid working next to him, gesturing to follow. They were joined by one of the Captains from a nearby vessel, who helped them cart off the still prone body of Steven.

"I've never seen anyone fight like that before!" one of the onlookers exclaimed. "Where did you learn to do it?"

Ryu ran a hand through his hair, making it stand up on end even more than usual, then placed his hat back on his head. "Uhh...it's a tradition. It runs in my family...."

"Really? My mother always wanted me to be a prize fighter...." the young man told him, grin splitting his pockmarked face.

He eyed the youths' slight frame and non-existent muscles. "Don't quit your day job kid..." he winked at him good naturedly and carried on down the docks, hoping to find the toothless little old man he saw occasionally that had the best nightcrawlers. But at the rate his day was going he'd never get to eat Surf and Turffor dinner that evening. And to make matters worse he'd never get a chance to try his new lures made of brightly colored feathers.

The sun rode high in the sky, and he watched as the boats came and went, leaving the boundaries of the marina. It was a life his father taught him, and his father before that. To view the ocean as a living, breathing thing of special beauty that deserved to be protected, not just some place to get food from. That to be able to enjoy the freedom of being out upon the open water was a gift and not a right. And that life was a journey, not a destination.

Feeling the heat of the day beating down upon him, Ryu moved his hat and wiped his brow with a red bandana he pulled from his pocket. Despite everything that had happened thus far to foil his plans, he was still in a good mood.

And he laughed a few seconds later as a little girl came running past him wearing a T-shirt with Gatchachibis figures emblazoned across the front. It was apparently a new thing that had taken the retail world by storm. Someone having come up with their tiny warped likenesses and plastering it across everything imaginable. The whole thing had Nambu Hakase in a tizzy. Ken thought they were weird looking, Joe grumped that they should get some of the proceeds from the sale of the stuff, Jun thought they were cute, and they found Jinpei had bought a doll with his likeness and had hidden it in his bedroom.

While it was all fine and good with him, sometimes it made him yearn for the simpler times before he became a Science Ninja. Especially seeing as their nemesis, Berg Katse, was always trying to expose their secret identities. So it was imperative that they maintain unity within their ranks and be on alert at all times. And while the it was determined they weren't entitled to any of the proceeds from Chibi merchandise, in a gesture of good faith, the toy manufacturer had promised to set up a special fund for war orphans in their name.

Ryu continued to the end of the doc, sitting down on the edge, watching the clouds go roll in. It looked like it was going to storm. He'd like to own the marina one day, he'd like to own another boat too. But that called for money, money he didn't have. Except for that, his dreams were, in all respects, mostly simple ones. He dreamed of world at peace, he dreamed of a boat in the moonlight on a calm ocean, a pretty girl with brown eyes, of treasure to......

A chime broke his reverie and he realized his bracelet was flashing.

"You must assemble at once! Galactor has launched an attack on Utoland City!"

"I'm on my way doctor!" he replied, rising from the pier and leaving his tackle box and pole behind.

Right now, he had bigger fish to fry.
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Re: A Day in the Life

Post by Redbird » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:17 pm

*jun* ***
Hmmm, Jun murmured to herself, looking down at her experiment. It was a cake. Or was supposed to be one anyway. After the last rejection she received from Ken at the party at the Snack two weeks ago, she thought that if perhaps she tried harder to be more ladylike, to be able to cook and be more domestic, that she might finally win his heart.

She sighed and rested her elbows on the counter staring grumpily at the misshapen pumpkin cake before her. It was burned beyond recognition. And while her last cake wasn't bad it certainly hadn't received applause and fireworks. She had seen Jinpei discretely spit a piece into his napkin, and Ryu drank enough water with just one piece to float away on his own.

In all her years of food service she still hadn't been able to master the art of cooking. Usually it didn't bother her too much, because Jinpei knew how to cook and she did have someone coming in during the week and two part timers on the weekends when they were really busy.

But the thorn in her side, the straw that broke her back was THAT woman. The one Ken had been seeing. The woman she hadn't known about, but Jinpei accidentally let slip one afternoon when they were cleaning up after the lunch rush. The woman who....cooked for him.

And he liked it.

He had gone back for seconds!

She knew it was melodramatic, but oh.....the treachery of it all. Jun had dried her private tears, pulled herself up by her bootstraps and stood herself in front of the mirror in her bedroom with conviction. And she promised herself that damn the consequences, she was going to learn how to cook.

Let him eat cake!

Or not, she thought sourly as she poked the lopsided dessert with a finger, then grimaced as she wound up making a hole in it. She pulled her finger out only to see it was covered in batter. How could that BE? How could a cake be burnt on the outside , but uncooked on the inside?

Of all the secrets they kept from her, this mystery woman had to have been one of the worst.

Jun glanced around the Snack; at the tinsel hanging from the small Christmas tree in the corner, gaily decorated for the holidays. At the floor that was waxed so much that it was slippery, the sparkly snowflakes that hung from the ceiling by paperclips.

She remembered the beginning, when they were children--when she first saw Ken, of the butterflies in her stomach. It had been winter then too. She was sure she had a big silly grin on her face and even though he had shaken her hand as Hakase told him to, she thought he looked terrified.

Her hand lashed out slapping the counter in frustration. Why did she let him cause her such pain? She would wager he didn't even feel the same way for her. She just knew it.

She was smart, she was pretty, she had more talent with computers, math and explosives then any girl he could ever hope to meet. Men noticed her everywhere she went... but not Ken.

After the party she felt like she'd been shoved back to square one with him. She had spotted him leaning against the wall by the jukebox, so she went over and tried to make conversation with him, but most of his answers were wooden, one word replies. In her embarrassment she realized the whole thing had been a mistake, and went back to the kitchen to break a few glasses. When she was finished venting her anger, she saw Joe had joined him, engrossed in a heated discussion, Ken shaking his head madly and Joe making his usual hand gestures.

Oh to be a fly on the wall!

Against her better judgement and letting her curiosity get the better of her, she made her way across the dance floor to hand Joe a beer and casually asked what had gotten him so worked up.

"Undercover Mission," he winked at her, taking a swig from the bottle and excusing himself to mix amongst the crowd. To which Ken had immediately announced that he was leaving, as he had an early morning of deliveries the next day.

The next day was Sunday! No one delivered anything on Sundays!

It was madness, she thought, coming back to the present. To want a man who apparently didn't want her in return. She slid her hands under the cake and went back into the kitchen to throw it out. Earlier she had tried scrubbing out the pan she baked it in, using the cute little scouring pad by the sink that was shaped like a bunny, but the cookware was beyond repair. It was currently sitting in the bottom of the garbage pail, with the cake now on top of it.

She turned and hung up the big mixing spoon on the bracket by the oven and walked back out into the dining area to turn the jukebox on, changing the setting to play random songs.

How many times had they helped save the Earth? How many times had she stood by Ken's side, backing him up through thick and thin, helping to present his case to Hakase Nambu when he asked her to?

The song "Happy Tears" began to fill the room, and she slumped onto one of the stools at the bar. Why couldn't she be like that? Just pick herself up and move on? Find someone who really loved her? She ran her fingernail over a burn mark on the counter.

Maybe she should go down to that new little boutique shop that opened a few blocks away. Perhaps something new and pretty could cheer her up. Not to mention the trek would do her good. The Snack had been quiet all day and she had let Jinpei go earlier due to lack of customers. If memory served her, they had a lovely red dress in the window that seemed about her size.

If she hurried she might make it there before they closed. Hopefully no one else had their eye on that dress or it would be clobberin’ time, as Jinpei was wont to say these days. Well, her mind was made up. She was going to indulge in a little retail therapy.

Jun stood and switched off the jukebox, then grabbed her yellow rain slicker from behind the counter. Maybe she'd get a new pair of shoes too, she thought thrusting her arms into the sleeves. As she switched off the lights, she wondered if the store offered a frequent buyers points card.

Her mood lifting at the thought of going out, she stepped outside only to hear the tattoo of rain upon the street. Well, bad weather was certainly not going to stop her! She locked the door to the Snack and pulled up her hood. She was halfway down the road when a she heard a loud boomin the distance.

Jun stopped in her tracks, head cocked, listening. That wasn't thunder. It happened again, and her bracelet immediately began to chime. The street was empty due to the weather, and she ducked into a doorway to receive her orders.

"This is G3, the Swan!"

"You must assemble at once! Galactor has launched an attack on Utoland City!"

"I'm on my way!" she replied, and took off at a run back towards the Snack, all thoughts of Ken's supposed "betrayal", vanished from her mind.
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Re: A Day in the Life

Post by Redbird » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:24 pm

*jinpei* ****
Jinpei sat in the local library, nose buried behind a book. His eyes darted over the top, scanning the room from side to side before returning to his reading. Smiling to himself he turned the page of the comic that was hidden behind "Gulliver's Travels". He was really supposed to be doing some homework, but this was the one place he could indulge in one of his favorite pastimes without reprimand. Sis hated that he read comic books, she said they rotted his brain.

For the most part Jinpei didn't have any enemies. Except sometimes he wondered if his sister was one of them. Sometimes he felt everything he did was wrong. For instance, two weekends past the Snack had been packed. Jun had thrown a Christmas party and the place was rocking. The kitchen was busy and in all the confusion, he accidentally dropped a box of glasses and they shattered all over the floor. Jun had been furious with him and told him to clean up the mess, which he had already been doing. It made him feel awful. He hung his head, just wanting to get lost and to stop feeling like he was such a pain to everyone.

He gazed out upon the revelers, watching everybody dance. A smile broke over his face and he thought about joining them, but then noticed Jun giving him the eyeball from the edge of the dance floor. Oh. Forget it then, he didn't want to go into the lion’s den. He found it was better if he tried to lay low and just do his job without complaint. Grabbing a plate of battered fish the cook shoved at him, he picked his way across the dance floor only to trip and have the plate go flying, the fish with it. The fried flounder flew through the air only to land in the crotch of a customer.

Oh, now he had done it! Jinpei knew was going to face Jun's wrath once more.

Sure enough, she thundered over, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck, and told him she already received an anonymous complaint in the suggestion box about the service that evening. That he better straighten up, and that any rogue little boys would run the risk of being stripped of their weekend movie privileges.

The situation was only made worse by the fact that Jinpei thought the patron was a spook. Being a Science Ninja he could tell these things, for the man wore a sleek black suit and tie with sunglasses indoors! And when he removed them to see where the mysterious fish had come from, he appeared to be a doppelganger for Tommy Lee Jones.

Jun promptly dragged him to the counter telling him to stay in the kitchen on the sideline for the rest of the night. He crossed his skinny arms over his chest. It wasn't fair! He never got to have any fun, always had to work and the joint was jumping! Everyone was there-- big brother, Joe-aniki and even Ryu was enjoying himself in the big corner booth where he was participating in a drinking contest.

Apparently she had taken Joe's advice and printed up a hundred flyers and plastered them around town in order to drum up business. It would be good advertising he had said. Was he ever right!

Other patrons gathered around the small Christmas tree they had put up in the corner, tossing about a piece of mistletoe, trading presents and generally horsing around. Unfortunately, given everything that happened that evening it didn't look like there were going to be any gifts for him under the tree this year.

Feeling even more depressed than before, he did what his sister asked and trudged into the kitchen where the cook handed him a list and instructed him to bring up supplies from the basement. He hated the basement. It smelled bad, it was cramped, and it was dark. Imagine that. Him, Jinpei the Mighty Swallow-- afraid of the dark. Standing at the top of the steps, peering into the shadows, he told himself to face his fears and bring up the pudding mix and provisions the cook wanted. Maybe if he didn't screw this up, Jun would give him a second chance.

A look of determination came over his face. He could do it! He'd never let Sis regret taking him in. He wasn't some rookie kid! He was a Science Ninja!

Squaring his shoulders, he raced down the stairs, quickly grabbing what he needed and scurried back up without lingering. He burst through the door into the kitchen and left the boxes on the counter. As he was doing so, he thought he heard a commotion outside. Against his better judgement, after peering over his shoulder, he slipped out the back door to be greeted by the unbelievable sight of a very wet Joe, hair plastered to his skull, shirt stuck to his body like a second skin.

"What're you gaping at squirt?"

"What are you doing?" Jinpei asked, quietly shutting the door behind him.

"Can't leave my baby out in the rain with the windows open now can I?" he replied, leaning against the car.

"What's going on? Where's big-bro?"

"He gave Jun the slip earlier," Joe chuckled pushing hair out of his eyes. "If he were smart he'd get some protection. He's gonna need it."

Right then he decided older brothers were weird. They were hiding something from him, he just knew it. He opened his mouth to ask more questions but....

"Pssst. Joe! Jinpei! Is the coast clear?"

They both turned, looking over by the dumpster at the back of the lot, to see the dirt streaked form of Ken, creeping out from behind it. He looked haggard, like he had run a marathon.

"What the hell happened to you?" Joe asked, not even trying to hold back his laughter.

Ken shot them both a look, then cast a quick glance about, teeth gnawing at his lower lip.

"Promise that you're not going to let Jun hear a word of this. Swear under penalty of torture!"

Joe snorted and nodded his head and Ken moved to join them under the awning of the back door.

"Joe, that girl you introduced me to.... you know, the one that can cook? I think she's a Galactor recruit!"

"What!" Jinpei crowed, eyes growing wide. "Who?!"

Joe immediately slapped a hand over his mouth shushing him, but he pried his hand away giving his brothers a decent withering look for such a young kid. "I think you forgot to tell me something....!"

"Joe!" Ken continued, grabbing onto his arm. "I swear she's trying to kill me! She won't leave me alone!"

"Get the hell outta here!" Joe chuckled, trying to shake his hand off. "She's a harmless twit--what can she possibly do to you?!"

"She keeps asking me over for dinner." Ken whispered, looking around. "But I'm beginning to think that I'm the main course! You gotta help me."

"Come on...." Joe laughed, rolling his eyes. "You're pulling my leg Ken."

"You won't feel that way when my death makes the headlines!"

"Oh for God's sake, Ken! You know....just... give her what she wants!"

An indignant look crossed the Eagle's face. "No!"

"Forget it man, I'm outta here....." Joe shook his head, waving Ken off and heading for the G2.

Jinpei appraised his big brother, eyebrow raised, impressed. "You're dating someone that can cook!?"

"Keep quiet about this Jinpei." Ken threatened, finger pointed in his face. "I don't want Jun to find out...."




"Excuse me young man....."

Jinpei jerked back to the present. "Huh? Oh...what?"

"I'm sorry, but if your phone doesn't stop ringing, you're going to have to get out."

"My phone?" he asked, confused. "I don't have a ..."

It was then that he heard it---his bracelet was going off.

The grey haired woman lay a finger over her lips and walked away, pushing a cart of books in front of her. He quickly grabbed his comic book and ducked behind one of the tall bookshelves.

"This is G-4" he whispered.

"You must assemble at once! Galactor has launched an attack on Utoland City!"

"Never fear! I'm on the way!"

Jinpei shoved his comic book in his back pocket, running for the exit. He'd better hurry or Hakase would have a bone to pick with him, not only that but if he was late again, Jun would probably take away his allowance.
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Re: A Day in the Life

Post by Redbird » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:27 pm

*ken* *
Ken Washio sat on the floor in the middle of his shack, listening to the rain on the roof and wondering how he managed to entangle himself in such a mess. It seemed every time he went to the Snack just to relax and hang out, Jun tried to put the moves on him. And he was such a klutz he didn't know how to handle it.

Hell, he didn't even know if he liked her that way. So he treated her with cold indifference and tried to brush her off. He knew it wasn't the best way to deal with things, but he didn't know what else to do. It was bad enough he knew he was hurting her feelings, but now he was really embarrassed because Jun had found out about his escapade with ....what's her name. To be fair, the girl was an absolutely awesome cook and she was quite pretty. As Joe would say, that was a positive, not a negative.

Then he remembered Joe was an idiot about women sometimes.

But apparently Jun had gone berserk, when she heard the story. Ken wasn't sure how she found out, but he had a niggling feeling it was probably Jinpei.

So now he lost his hangout spot, and with nowhere to go, was a virtual prisoner in his own home. A prisoner because....what's her name... had begun stalking him and knew where he lived. He knew he was in trouble when she hinted that she was looking to settle down and started talking about marriage. To be honest he had his suspicions when he saw all the wedding magazines at her place and a book about relationships on her coffee table. It was then he realized that she was looking at him as a merely a prize and not a person. Something to be won and not cherished.

At that point he told her he wasn't interested in getting married anytime soon, and that he thought they should stop seeing each other. But his confession had no effect on her and she had made several attempts to lure him out of his shack with promises of home cooked dinners. It was getting so bad that he was tempted to report the whole thing to Nambu Hakase, just to have something on record.

Ken felt like a dope, he had fallen for the girl's act hook, line and sinker. He was never going to take Joe's advice about women again. Maybe he was used to women trying to kill him, but Ken wasn't. He was too young for all this! He clutched his head in his hands. It throbbed so badly, he was afraid his brain would splatter the walls.

As much as he wanted to blame Joe, he knew it was his own fault. He walked over to the kitchen to make himself some tea, noting his pallid hands, and his weakened legs shook as if there was an earthquake beneath his feet. He really needed to eat something. There was no way he could survive on ramen noodles for the rest of his life.

But he had squandered too much money recently on repairs to the shack to afford food, and he was afraid if he went to the Snack that Jun would poison him, intentionally or not. No matter what, it was critical that he get some nourishment into his body. It was so bad that he dreamed of a loaded pizza a few nights ago and woke up with the edge of his blanket in his mouth.

The rain showers continued coming down outside. He thought about making rice, but glanced at the burnt pot in the sink, rice cemented to the bottom. Been there done that. Shivering with hunger and cold, his hand wandered over the scar across his shoulder, a gift from Galactor. Ken lay down on the couch, shoving a pillow beneath his head. He thought about calling Joe to see if he could drop off some food, but he knew his friend would erupt with laughter and want to why Ken didn't want to leave the house and who the prime suspect in the stalking was.

Ok this was ridiculous! It was time to do something brash. He was hungry and fed up.

And he was Gatchaman, dammit. The White Shadow that slipped in unseen. He fought off hordes of Galactor goons with his bare hands! Had faced Berg Katse more than once!

And he was afraid to leave his house.

Come on man! He could hear Joe's voice in his head. Don't let a skirt get the best of you!

Ken rose from the couch once more and padded over to the window. Normally he would be able to see the brilliant blue sky, but he wouldn't today. Everything was cloudy and grey.

"Come on Washio." he muttered to himself, tapping a finger lightly against the windowpane. "Stay frosty".

He jumped as a reflection on the window winked back at him. His bracelet. It was flashing and pinging like mad.

"This is Gatchaman, go ahead."

"Assemble your team at once! Galactor has launched an attack on Utoland City!"

"I'm on the way Hakase.."

Ken's mind raced, no longer thinking about his empty stomach or the pleasure of being stuffed from home made dinners. He grabbed the keys to the shack, which were atop a renewal for "In Flight" magazine and a book about stockholm syndrome. Hair flying behind him, he raced out the door all the while praying the G1's wings wouldn't freeze before Ryu picked him up.
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Re: A Day in the Life

Post by Redbird » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:33 pm

*joe* **
"Goddammit!" Joe muttered, sucking on the end of his thumb, tongue tasting blood. Carefully, he backed out from under the hood of the G2 and tossed his shop rag aside.

He watched the other guys working on their cars, the Preston Team with their fancy yellow and black uniforms talking trash and casting the rest of them dirty looks all morning.

He growled low in his throat and leaned back against his car. The track was all up in arms over them, for they had taken the circuit by storm. It didn't sit too well with him, he was stuck in a rut himself, having lost the last two races, coming in second and third. As if the stress of fighting Galactor wasn't bad enough, he had to deal with those posturing clowns on his off time. They usually didn't give him too much grief, for the first day they tried one of their juvenile tricks on him, was also the last day.

There had been rumors that members of their crew had been involved in the theft and hijack of some of the fancier cars around town. Apparently a few of these crimes had occurred in the business district during broad daylight.

"Hiya Joe!" Cletus called out to him, waving as he passed by to water the little pot of parched roses, that had mysteriously appeared the other day, atop an old oil drum outside his garage bay. How they survived during the winter Joe had no idea. He made a mental note to get rid of them later.

He turned back to the car grabbing a socket wrench from his back pocket, when he heard the not so dulcet tones of Stu, the track manager as he stood outside, arguing with someone.

"Jesus Christ! For the twentieth time Dave, I'm not hiring a woman to work here!"

Who the hell is Dave? Joe thought ducking back under the hood and adjusting his drop light.

"Aw, come on Stu! Why not?"

"I'll tell you why not! I can see her becoming the entertainment around here that's why not! Your minds should be on racing and your cars, not some woman prancing around in hot pants..."

"Well you gotta admit it would put a little sizzle in this old dump...."

Joe chuckled to himself as they moved further down the line and out of his range of hearing. Stu was always in a bind over something. From what he heard he was looking for someone to work in the office. Apparently the last guy they had working there had left to go to college rather abruptly, so it was a scramble to find someone new. They really needed someone with experience, who could deal with Stu's grumpy moods, as well as the other horn-dogs and dirtbags that worked and raced there. So he laughed at Dave's anticipation that some chick might actually be hired.

If they ever took on a woman for the job he was sure she'd probably be looked upon as a [/U] toy[/U], or Stu's knowing luck, would be a speed freak looking to steal high-end parts for money to pay for their habit. No, for a woman to work there, she really needed to have a set of balls, who knew cars and could put up with their crap. His thoughts turned to the red-haired girl on the motorcycle he had met during the spring. They had caught each other's eye at the old Americo Station on Route 6. She had the greenest eyes he had ever seen. Not to mention she was cute and didn't pull any punches. Honestly, he found it refreshing to have someone be so frank with him. They spent most of the summer together. Days and nights. Joe smiled at the memory. He thought he'd never get all that beach sand out of the G2. It had been good, great even, but when October rolled around, she vanished. He tried calling but the connection wouldn't go through. He'd even been tempted to use his ISO contacts to track her down, but thought better of it. If she didn't want to share her reason for leaving, he could respect that. Maybe they'd see each other out on the highway again someday. It was a small world and God only knows stranger things had happened to him.

The ISO, Joe snorted, grimacing as he tugged on a particularly stubborn bolt. If he didn't start winning some races, the ISO'd kick him off the track pretty soon. Toss him and his luggage by the side of the road so to speak. One of the other teams had lost their best driver in a crash a few weeks back. There had been a memorial service for him. Joe hadn't known the guy well, but he had been a good racer and he couldn't imagine the devastation the man's family felt after his death.

He 'd been away for a while and he felt a little bit of an outcast trying to catch up on all the news he had missed. There just wasn't much time to devote to the track, especially when he was trying to vanquish Galactor from the face of the Earth.

Part time racer, full time Condor he supposed.

One thing he had to admit was that elusive first place finish was tempting him like forbidden fruit. It put him on edge and the other night he engaged in a game of chicken on one of the remote highways outside of town. The speed and the danger was what attracted him to it.

It was in his blood.

Wiping his brow with his forearm, he straightened up and stretched, wincing as his back cracked. There had been a Rally in Ameris he wanted to participate in as well, but Hakase had them take a special mission at the embassy in Monalince. When the team returned, the G2 needed a total overhaul. He just couldn't catch a break.

If it had breasts or brakes it always gave you trouble.

Speaking of trouble, Ken seemed to think he made a fatal mistake in going out with that chick that knew how to cook. The whole thing seemed a little bizarre to him, but Ken was weird when it came to women. He couldn't tell if he was busting his chops or really serious. Jun was angry with him too, for whatever reason she picked for that particular week, so now he was making up little white lies about why he was avoiding the Snack.

Joe's thoughts were interrupted by the shrill sound of feedback screeching over the loudspeaker, signaling an impending message. Sure enough, there came an announcement that the days racing was put on delay, because there was a string of bad storms in the area and they were right in their path.

He fished around in one of his tool boxes, looking for the new gear shift knob he had sent away for from a specialty shop. A flash of confusion crossed his face, when after a moment's digging, he couldn't find it. Ah well, he probably left it back on the kitchen table at home.

Speaking of, it was getting late anyway and he needed to get back to the trailer. While it was no fancy manor, it was his, and he was looking forward to a hot shower and perhaps a nap.

The voice over the loudspeaker continued to drone on stating that anyone out on the track during the delay was in violation of the rules, and if caught, they would incur fines and penalties against their team. Not to mention that any participating sponsorships would be frozen until the aforementioned penalties and fines were cleared.

The rain was coming down hard and Joe knew before long the whole place would turn into a muddy swamp. He needed to get out of there fast, if he didn't want to get stuck in a flood.

He tossed his tools into his toolbox and grabbed his drop light, locking them in the trunk. He was in firm beliefof 'get while the gettin' was good'.

Joe opened the door, sliding into the car, tossing a T-shirt he had received as a promotion onto the back seat. He was surprised to see one of his feather darts resting on the passenger seat next to him, beneath the shirt. After taking it up between his fingers and scrutinizing it for defects, he jammed the shuriken into the hidden pocket in his jeans.

He had just started the car when his bracelet began to chime. The Gatchaman medallion flashing wildly on its face. He briefly wondered what kind of scrape they would have to work their way out of this time.

" G2 here."

"You must assemble at once! Galactor has launched an attack on Utoland City!"

"Roger, G2 out !"

Joe shifted the car into gear, hitting the horn as he pulled out of the bay. Torrential rain pelted the G2, making it difficult to see and he flicked the wipers on full blast. He tore through the lot that led to the exit and floored it as he merged onto the highway, the road clear ahead of him.

He wondered if he could make it there in landmark time. What the hell, he needed the practice anyhow.
He grinned and pushed the car into high gear, engine roaring, as the taillights disappeared in the rain.

Playing darts with the Condor's feather shuriken...

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