My team mates!

By Julia Macgregor

It took me years to understand what a team mate was. Was it because I no family to speak of. Was it because I was taken care of by Doctor Nambu, chief researcher of the International Science Organization since I was really too young to remember my own father. I was just simple called Ken by the doctor. I was trained when I reached first grade in the arts of the ninja and recognizance.

Then, I was introduced to some kid no older than me. His name was Joe. He was the dangerous risk taker that I wish I was. Yet, we when were training at the special school, he was always at the nurse's station with a few more scrapes than me.

A few years later, then I and Joe were introduced to a heavy set kid name Ryo. He seemed fun, less dangerous than Joe and was sharp on learning to control large machines.

I was ten when I, Joe and Ryo were at local pizza place, celebrating my tenth birthday when Doctor Nambu showed up with a girl…Aww! Man a girl! I wasn't too happy with a girl. I figured on she was the Doctor's niece or something. Then, a little four old year baby who clung to the girl. I could tell the baby was a little boy. Why did the Doctor bring him too? I had to figure that one out later. I was having too good a time to even care. We were at the gaming parlor, acting a little unsure of the situation.

Before Doctor Nambu gave all of us tokens to go and play on the different games, he did an informal introduces. He said his usually friendly way, "Ken…Joe...Ryu…"

Us boys turned to face him. I was the first to asked, "What, sir?"

"I want you three to meet Jun and her little brother Jenpi!" he said with a curt nod.

"A girl!" Joe snorted. He was about ready to leave for the table top dodge-'em cars. He didn't like the idea of being around a girl. I kind of agree to that at the time. Girls were not fun at all. All they wanted to do was play house and dolls. He was quickly going to meet his match.

"Yea…" the girl named Jun snapped right back at Joe. "What are you going to do about it?"

"Oh-uh!" I thought. I was tried to not open my mouth in a way that could led into a punch in the mouth. "Joe's going to get it!"

"Nothing!" Joe shrugged. "I wanna play…Doc!" then, Joe turned and headed for the dogde-'em cars.

Doctor Nambu knew Joe was the loner of our ever growing group. He just let Joe alone in this case. He said to the rest of us, "That's Joe…he not very sociable!"

Jun snorted with a pout. She could read people pretty good. She wasn't going to let him off the hook that easily. He was going to get it one day. She said, "I'll fix that!"

Then, Junpi said in a baby voice, "Sis…I'm 'ungry!"

Feeling like the world was getting out of hand for her, Jun said, "That's not nice to say for right now…Junpi!" she scolded with a sigh. She placed a hand up to her cheek. She wondered if Junpi was going to grow up into a good man or not. She said, "We have to wait!"

Junpi wanted to cry. He knew Jun was trying to teach him at a young age, yet he wanted to be still a kid. He did not know that he was the youngest from a long line of ninjas. He was too busy with tying shoes and counting up to ten. He felt like someone had just kicked in the stomach and hard. He looked up at Jun who was trying to smile. Then, at Doctor Nambu. Finally at me. I was choice by him as a big brother. I had to keep peace with these people if I wanted to find my father.

Let's move forward to freshman years in High school. I had grown a little taller and I hoped a little wiser. I watched as my team mates grew as well. Joe's devil may care attitude was growing a little on the dangerous side, especially when he turned sixteen and got his first permit for a car. I shuttered at the dealership when me and him went to see about a beater that someone told him about. Jun was learning on how to ride a motorcycle. I didn't have to worry about her. She had a very sensible head on her shoulders. Plus there was another energy crunch going on. What was going, I wondered through the car dealer's lot. There were a few good looking cars that caught my eye. Yet, I hope to get a plane and soon. I talked over with Doctor Nambu. I was going to be sixteen soon. If I was old enough to drive a car, then I should be old enough to fly a plane. I had some money snatched away for the plane. It took me a while, but I was willing to buy a plane in full.

Joe stopped to see a very nice looking car in the back of the lot. It was so bad for the eyes, I wondered if it had belonged to a rock star or a movie actor. He was grinning from ear to ear. I had to shake my head and said, "Where are you going to get the cash for the set of wheels!"

"I have a few weekend jobs!" Joe said. Then, he winked at me as if it was a sign to me that he was willing to bend over backwards to get the car. He seemed be drawn to the car. He said, "Plus…there is always a trade in!"

I was puzzled. What was Joe talking about? I had to question him, "trade in…what trade in?"

"I have a real clunker…it's was Doc's beater and he had given to me to tinker on!" he shrugged.

I searched back to the time where I had seen a fifty-five or sixty ford that had been through the mill dozens of times. I remembered a red car with large rust spots on the car door. I couldn't picture it as if it had four or two days. Yet, I am not going to put it pass Joe to be trading that rolling junk heap for a trade in. I teased, "Can you get here without pushing it?"

Joe just shot me a dirty look. He knew that car needed a shove right into a comparator. He wasn't going to tell me that. He was going to leave everything up to chance.

"What else did you have in mind sirs?" a man asked wearing a loud suit.

I had to give Joe a worried glance. This guy looked like he could have stepped out of the TV during those early morning hours on a Sunday when nothing else is on. I had to blink for a second or two just to let my eye refocus on this guy's suit.

He smiled and said, "Hello…sirs!"

This was a trap and I knew it. Yet, it was Joe's idea of getting a new car. I let him climb out of the hole he was digging himself into. I nodded with a slight smile.

On the other hand, Joe was trying to hide his goofy grin at the sale's man. He said, "Hi!"

Joe wasn't the one for talk. He was always the loner. I think it's because of his mum and dad was taken away from him when Joe was just a boy. He was thinking of his words very carefully. He still had a large chip on his shoulder. It was the kind that he had to control with the right thing to say. He nodded before saying, "I was just looking!"

"Just looking?" the salesman asked with a very well defend glance. He knew that he had just stepped into the realm of Joe. This was no ordinary sales pitch at this time. The salesman had to think things through with Joe on the other side of the agreement.

Trying to be diplomatic, Joe said, "I have a car that I want to trade in!" He had to make this car sound better than it was. He was going to spend lots of time in the garage before taking Doctor Nambu's old beater to the dealer. Joe gave a quick eye at the large price sticker. Although remaining cool, Joe was not going to over the budget for this car.

The dealer asked with his smile still stuck to his lips, "What kind of a car?"

"It's a classic car that I have!" Joe nodded slightly.

I watched Joe as if he was a fisherman just starting to bait his hook with a fairly tempting treat for any fish in any pool. The words 'a classic car' made the dealer think twice before dishing out the soft soap on Joe.

The dealer said, "What year is the car?"

Joe and I shot glances at each other. We always wanted to ask Doc about the car he had for years. I jumped right in and said, "I think it's a fifty-nine or sixty!"

"A fifty nine or sixty?" the dealer asked with a slight eyebrow raise. He had to give the speech about the trade in. "We do have the best trade in value in this area!" he nodded.

Joe glanced at the car once more. He said, "I can test this car…to see if I want to trade it in?"

As I recalled Joe got to test the car and found it to be fairly good. There was something wrong with the transmission. Joe had a very good ear in finding out what was making the car act fun. He told the dealer about knocking off some of the price or there was doing to be no sale from him.

A few months later as we trained hard for a project that Doctor Nambu was coming up with, I had a very shocking experience with Jun. It was when she had tuned sixteen. I was completely trying my best to fret the simulations for the new jet plane that I was being trained for right. I had to do perfectly and the pressure was great. I was at the training grounds at the IOS. I had seen Joe and Ryo for further institutions. I was impressed by the way they were handling the new responsibilities of being a team. We were carefully crafted into a team, a fighting combat troupe that was going to help out people in danger. Then, there was personal idea of being a family. We didn't have much as real bloodlines or ties to each other. Yet, we grew as a family. Jun was going to point it out for me as I entered the lounge area of the ISO. I had not thought of a birthday for a girl like Jun was such a big deal. Boy was I going to be proved wrong!

Jun had just stepped out of the other entrance way to the lounge area with Juipei in tow. She had received a large card from someone she knew downtown at a local shop. I didn't speak because I was a little taken by Jun's appearance. She was dressed not her usually T-shirt with a large number three on the front and her striped bell-bottoms. Instead she was wearing a tan sweater and black pants. She looked very nice. She glanced at me and asked, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing'…nothing at all!" I managed to say after a minute of awkward silent staring. She was a very pretty girl. I couldn't keep my eyes off of her. She was a force to behold.

Juipei asked, "Sis…what's wrong with Ken?"

She smiled a little and said in a loud whisper, "I think he sees a pretty girl!"

"A pretty girl!" Juipei asked with a surprised stare on his face. He never stopped to think of Jun being a pretty girl. He believed that Jun was just his sister.

Feeling a little hurt, Jun snapped, "And what's wrong with that?"

Juipei gasped trying to think on his feet, "Nothing…but you're a sister and not a girl!"

I had to duck out of there in a hurry before things got sticky. I headed for the opposite end of the room towards the hanger. I was just getting ready to go flying for a little while. Then, it hit me…or rather Jun's voice slammed me right against the wall. She said, "Don't forget my birthday party at my new club!"

"What?" I thought in a panic. My face was a little surprised on the surface yet, I was remained on the outside as cool as I could get. "Oh!" I said in a normal tone of voice.

"And there is going to be a big crowd!" she smiled. She folded her arms over her chest and nodded.

"Oh…when?" I asked with a raised eye brow. I was just trying to remain casually surprised about the whole deal.

"The club opens at five followed by a dinner at six!" she said. She placed a hand up to her chin.