This is an amateur, non-commercial story, which is not produced, approved of, or in any way sponsored by the holders of the trademarks/copyrights from which this work is derived, nor is it intended to infringe on the rights of these holders. And so it goes.
It wasn’t all that uncommon for flying objects to crash land in the lake that lay nearby the Masaki shrine. In recent years, no less than three craft had fallen into its deep confines—one repeatedly. So it was with general “Oh, look at that” nonchalance that the Masaki household witnessed yet another ship perform the aerial equivalent of a belly flop, complete with big splash. But when it was followed moments later by a second, smaller “ker-sploosh”, everyone took a keener notice. And when the tumult woke Mihoshi up from her front porch nap and they realized that she wasn’t the culprit this time, it was enough to send them all outside to see what had happened.
“Golly,” the sleepy-eyed Mihoshi said with a delicious yawn. “What happened?”
“That is what we’re trying to find out,” Ayeka informed her. “Something hit the water…or a pair of somethings. You weren’t expecting company by any chance, were you, dear?”
“Nope.” Mihoshi scratched her head and squinted out toward the lake. “Hey, isn’t that Ryoko?”
“It sure does look like her,” Sasami said. And indeed, the waterlogged, bedraggled figure staggering out from the lake bore a slight resemblance to the former space pirate. Her long cyan-colored hair hung limply around her head and shoulders, and her favorite dress was dripping profusely. But the blue fabric was torn and scorched here and there, and Ryoko was clutching something against her chest…holding it as if her very life depended on it. Sasami, Ayeka and Mihoshi hurried off the porch toward their housemate to find out what had happened.
Up close, Ryoko looked even worse. Her normally bright yellow eyes were wide, dull and glazed over, and Ayeka immediately noticed a slight red stain on the side of her head. “Ryoko?” she asked, concerned despite herself. “Ryoko, are you all right?”
“Mine,” Ryoko said dully, clutching her metallic prize even closer to her breast.
“Mihoshi, get Washu,” Ayeka ordered. The detective ran back to house; meanwhile, the two princesses attempted to get their friend away from the lake and pry her odd trophy away.
“What is it, Ayeka?” Sasami asked, pulling futilely on Ryoko’s arm.
“Mine,” Ryoko informed her.
“I’m not sure,” Ayeka replied, guiding the staggering Ryoko over to the front porch. Washu was just now emerging from the house, her features quickly shifting from mild annoyance at being disturbed to deep concern over her daughter. “Washu, I think she’s hit her head. Would you have a look?”
“I certainly will.” The tiny scientist carefully probed around Ryoko’s head. “Mmmm. Looks like a concussion at the very least, possible skull fracture. What the hell could have hit her that hard?”
“She’s got this thing,” Sasami pointed out. “And she won’t let go.”
“I see,” Washu nodded. “Looks like a piece of a tail off some kind of aircraft.” She studied the insignia painted on it—a orange rocket with a star in front of it. “Well now, this is interesting. Last I heard, these guys were long gone. How the hell did this get here?”
“Gee,” Mihoshi said, “Maybe those two guys would know!”
“What two guys?” Washu asked absently, trying to pry the tail away from Ryoko, with no more luck than the others.
“The two guys coming out of the lake!” Washu looked up and followed the direction of Mihoshi’s finger. Sure enough, two men were emerging, thoroughly soaked with their orange flight suits glistening in the morning sunlight. For some reason, Washu was reminded of Dreamsicles.
* * * * *
Up close, they were almost pathetic to look at. Two men in their sixties, one almost painfully skinny, the other in remarkably good shape with only the merest hint of a gut. “How do you do,” the skinny one said, smiling continually and bowing every other second. “My name is Ide, my friend is Hayata. We’re with the Science Patrol, and we would very much appreciate the momentary use of your phone as we’ve run into a slight difficulty with our ship.”
“Is that so?” Mihoshi declared angrily. “Well, for your information, I know perfectly well that the Science Patrol was disbanded in 1972 and its operations merged into the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, a subsidiary branch of the Galaxy Police, and I think you hit my friend up there with your ship!”
“No, no, that’s not possible,” Ide replied, still smiling though it was a bit fainter. “We hit an unidentified flying object at fifteen thousand feet, and it subsequently ripped off the majority of our plane’s tail assembly with a laser weapon.”
“Really?” Washu smiled thinly. “Does it look anything like that?” She pointed at Ryoko’s trophy, still pressed firmly against the dazed woman’s bosom.
“Mine,” Ryoko declared.
Ide and Hayata looked at the tail fragment, then at each other. “Yes,” Hayata said slowly. “It would appear that this is our missing section.” He turned to find Washu staring very, very intently at him. “But I must ask…what was this young lady doing in restricted airspace, and where is her craft?”
“She doesn’t need a craft,” Washu replied. “She can fly. And as for what she was doing up there…well, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that sometimes you just feel like flying around for the hell of it, now do I?”
“I don’t understand your meaning,” Hayata replied a bit too quickly. A slight sheen of sweat appeared on his brow.
“Oh, I think you do,” Washu replied knowingly. “Heard from the family out in Nebula M-78 lately, big boy?” She was rewarded with the sight of Hayata turning sheet white; her smile stretched to almost feral length, then returned her attention to the ninny. “Speaking of restricted airspace, what the hell were you two doing up there in an antique ship?”
“Oh, I’ve taken great care of the Science Patrol ships since we were forced to disband,” Ide said happily. “And we were having our anniversary reunion this weekend, and while celebrating I made a bet that Hayata here couldn’t fly his old ship to the southern border of Japan and back without cracking up, and he took me up on it!” Ide turned to the terrified Hayata. “By the way, that’s ten thousand yen you owe me!”
“Later,” Hayata whispered. “Look, miss, I didn’t get your name…”
“Washu,” the scientist said crisply. “I doubt you’ll know it, but ask your big buddy. I’m sure he’ll remember it.” Hayata looked deep in thought for a moment; an expression of pure horror subsequently flickered across his face. “Told you. Now ask him if he remembers the name ‘Ryoko’.” Moments later, he gasped again. “That’s my daughter. She’s the one you crashed into with your little ship. I’m not pleased, bucko. Ask old Silver what it means when Washu isn’t pleased.”
“He…told me,” Hayata whispered.
“Mine,” Ryoko noted.
“We are terribly sorry for the injury done to your daughter, Miss Washu,” Ide noted with a trademark smile. “At the same time, we really do require the use of your phone to inform our friends that we have accidentally crashed our plane and require some assistance in retrieving this and…” A slip of paper suddenly appeared in front of his face, held there by an exquisitely shaped hand. “Excuse me? What is this?”
“It’s a ticket,” Mihoshi replied sweetly. “We accept all credit cards or cash.”
“Mine!” Ryoko cheered.
“But…” Ide finally stopped smiling. “I don’t understand! We’re honored members of the Science Patrol! We were directly responsible for stopping most of the giant monster invasions that threatened Japan during the 1960’s! You can’t do this to us!”
“Sure I can,” Mihoshi replied sternly. “You hit my friend.”
Ide stared at the long litany of violations, then thrust the paper at Hayata. “This is yours,” he said angrily. “After all, it’s all your fault, isn’t it?”
“MY FAULT?” Hayata yelled. “If you’d kept that antique junker in decent condition, I wouldn’t have had so much trouble keeping it under control up there!”
“That plane was pristine!” Ide bellowed. “Don’t blame it—or me—just because you can’t get behind the wheel of anything without cracking it up! For crying out loud, Hayata, you were so bad you hit Ultraman’s spaceship and killed yourself! How bad does a pilot have to be to pull that sort of stunt off?”
“Ultraman?” Hayata looked about ten seconds shy of a heart attack. “How…how did you know? I kept that a secret?”
“Oh, come on, Hayata,” Ide sneered. “Half a bottle of sake and you had no secrets! Did you really think none of us knew? ‘Hayata—we’ll all go investigate the monster in that direction. You check behind those rocks!’ Good God, man, we weren’t that stupid!”
“That’s a matter of opinion,” Washu said quietly.
“Mine,” Ryoko agreed amiably. She gave the tail a big loving hug.
“Excuse me,” Ayeka said over the din. “There’s a rather angry woman inside, wishing to speak to these gentlemen. She said her name was…Fuji.”
The argument between the two men stopped instantly. Ide gave his friend a pitying look. “Boy, are you in for it now,” he whispered.
* * * * *
She was blessed with a classical beauty that time could only enhance, not diminish. Her dress was clearly a designer label, her hair and nails professionally done. Even the fury clearly etched on her finely sculpted features only made her lovelier. “Well,” she said tightly, arms folded over her chest and eyes narrowed. “Our lost little boys have been found. Thank goodness I had your positions marked by GPS. What do you two have to say for yourselves?”
“He did it,” Ide said quickly.
“Fuji…honey…I can explain,” Hayata began.
“Explain? EXPLAIN?” Fuji’s voice was rising in pitch and fire. “Please do so, Hayata! And while you’re at it, perhaps you can tell me how to explain to your grandchildren that Grandpa and Uncle Ide were out trying to recapture their childhood by flying an aircraft that should have rightfully been junked years ago—without permission, without authorization, without a pilot’s license…”
“That’s true,” Ide pointed out to Hayata. “You lost yours back in 1970.”
Fuji’s ice cold eyes turned on Ide. “Shut up,” she said firmly. “You’re next.”
“Where was I? Oh yes, flying around in a dangerous, obsolete jet plane through restricted air space, hitting a poor alien girl…” Fuji turned to Washu. “How is your daughter? Will she recover?”
“I believe so. Thank you for your concern. I’m honored.”
As Fuji continued to berate the two men, Ayeka leaned over toward Washu. “I assume you know this woman somehow?”
“Oh yes. She runs Fuji Industries. Really hi-tech stuff. Ide is one of her top researchers. I do some consulting and pass the occasional invention her way every so often for spending money.”
Washu rolled her eyes. “How do you think I manage to keep Ryoko swimming in sake?”
“Mine,” Ryoko beamed, with her friend Mr. Tail firmly in hand.
“…and I swear to God, if I ever catch the two of you even glancing at a bottle of sake ever again, I will personally throw the two of you into the Sea of Japan without so much as a life preserver! Do you understand?”
“Yes, Fuji,” the chastened men said as one.
“Good!” Fuji took a deep breath and forced herself to relax. “Now then. A truck is coming out to retrieve the wreckage. Hayata, you will have to assist them in getting the plane out of the water.”
“Me?” Hayata shook his head in apparent bewilderment. “How am I supposed to do that?”
“Dear,” Fuji said, rolling her eyes. “Get out your beta capsule, summon Ultraman and have him fish it out. What did you think I meant?”
“God,” Hayata moaned. “Was there anyone who didn’t know?”
“I don’t think Arashi ever quite put it together,” Ide suggested.
“Mine,” Ryoko said smugly.
* * * * *
Ayeka, Washu and Mihoshi watched from the porch as the silver-and-red alien once known as Ultraman waded into the lake, bent over, and fished around with one hand for the damaged plane. Fuji and Ide stood by the shore next to a long flatbed truck. “One never has a camera when one could use one, you know?” the princess commented.
“Boy, he sure is big,” Mihoshi said.
“Yeah, but the minute his chest light blinks he’ll run off like a scared rabbit.” Washu grinned evilly and fished a small control board out of her dress sleeve. “Watch this.” She manipulated a series of dials, and seconds later the device on Ultraman’s chest began to flash on and off. The towering alien froze in mid-search for a moment, looking puzzled. He then glanced over at the trio beside the house and shook his fist at Washu, who merely laughed at him.
“That was mean,” Ayeka chided, but she was grinning as well.
“He deserves it,” Washu sniffed. “Hitting my poor little girl while she was out enjoying the day and minding her own business for a change.” She glanced over at Ryoko, who was still sitting on the deck, rocking back and forth and cuddling up to her prize. “Lord.”
“Umm, Washu,” Ayeka said hesitantly. “Not that I really like Ryoko all that much, but…will she recover from this? I mean, you have to admit, she’s pretty out of it.”
“She’ll be fine. I checked her out. Solid concussion, but her system is already repairing the damage. She’ll eventually go to sleep and let her body finish the job.”
“And the tail?” Ayeka asked.
“I think we’ll keep it. For one thing, it’ll keep that damned thing off the ground.” Washu nodded toward the lake, where the silver and crimson warrior had finally located the damaged craft and was carefully placing it on the flatbed. “And for another, I think she’s gotten rather attached to it, if you ask me.”
“Well, of course she has,” Ayeka said with a smile. “It’s what she always wanted, you know.”
“I beg your pardon?” Washu said.
“Oh, come now, Washu. She’s said it herself on several occasions.”
“Please explain yourself.”
Ayeka giggled. “Why, Miss Washu. Don’t you know that the one thing Ryoko has always wanted was…a nice piece of tail?”
“Mine!” Ryoko agreed.
Writers note—this was written with great love and respect for that classic 1960’s series of Japanese live-action television—Ultraman! If you want to learn more about the adventures of Ultraman and the Science Patrol, I suggest you visit Big Silver's Wikipedia Entry.