Fairytale of the ISO by Daniella T
[Reviews - 1] - Table of Contents - [Report This]

- Text Size +
The band has just finished its cover of “Winter Wonderland” and had launched into a rendition of “Fairy tale of New York”, as the lights dimmed and some, more emotional, patrons lit up their mobile screens. Nambu stared into his amber-coloured drink, took a small sip. He had chosen the bar for its single-malt menu, not its music, but he had to admit that a dose of the Pogues was what he needed right now. One of the many, many things he needed.

He felt her presence before he saw her ” a trait that he had assigned to her all these years ago. “You can’t be a secret agent, Meritxell,” he had laughed. “Your targets will feel you coming.”

She had taken his comments with good humour, smiling at what she chose to perceive as a double-entendre. “Only if I let them live that long.” And that had been that.


It wasn’t a greeting, but would have to do. She landed gracefully in the seat across his, as a black-clad waiter rushed to her side.

“What’s he having?” she pointed at Nambu’s tumbler.

“Glenlivet 18,” Nambu supplied before the waiter could remember what the gentleman with the glasses had ordered.

She nodded at the waiter. “I’ll be having the same then.”

As the waiter left, Meritxell looked up and saw Nambu for the first time in 15 years.

“Are you my ghost of Christmas past?” he whispered, as she gave in to her emotions, lunged over the table and hugged him tightly.


The briefing room at Crescent Coral was small, basic and way too hot, but there was no way of reducing the heating without condemning the scientists in the labs on the outside of the building to freeze, so they let it on. Nambu, Kentaro Washio and Meritxell Adorno huddled around the table, looking at maps. A couple of pictures were haphazardly stuck with scotch tape to the walls: Kentaro’s boy, Ken, and Meritxell’s nephew, Joe, four-year-olds on the beach or in the park. They didn’t know each other, but their relatives hoped that one day they could become friends.

Nambu pulled at his collar, loosened his tie.

“Take the damn thing off,” laughed Kentaro.

“I’m not a rogue pilot like you, Red Impulse,” replied Nambu. “I need to give a good example to the lads in the lab.”

“Who’s going to come see us here?” snorted Meritxell.

Nambu conceded the point.


They turned to the maps. Two days before the mission, and everything should have been already checked and triple-checked. But, this being the ISO, it wasn’t. Nambu could foresee a couple of late nights ahead until the two agents had left ” and then a long series of even later nights until they came back.

“So let’s go through this once again. You get to the Carellian system, you meet the local man there ” who could be a woman ” and you locate the missile launch pad. You destroy the launch pad and everything on it, and scoot back to the rendez-vous point where an ISO rescue craft will be waiting, courtesy of the Carellian resistance.”

“Got it, Kozaburo,” said Meritxell for the tenth time.

“Got it, Kozaburo,” repeated Kentaro, laughing.

“The team is ready and spirits are high,” Nambu pretended to dictate a note to himself.

“We just need to go through the payload for our approach vehicle,” continued Kentaro.

Meritxell went through the list, and in the end even Nambu was sort of satisfied with the level of preparations.

“One more briefing tomorrow, ok?” he reminded them as they stood up to leave, buttoning up for the colder corridors outside.

“Sure we know all we’re going to know by now,” said Kentaro, but nodded all the same.

However, the next day brought unexpected news and the briefing was not the ticking-the-checkboxes affair Nambu had had in mind.

“We received intel that Galactor has gotten whiff of our plans. I recommend that we abort, and try again in a few months’ time,” said Nambu stiffly, trying to control the shaking of his hands. Shaking of outrage, not of fear. Of nerves, not of worry.

Ignoring their stricken looks, he continued.

“There must have been a leak on Carellia ” no, don’t interrupt me, Washio! I do know it, it’s my job to know it! What’s happened happened. Galactor are fortifying their installations. The launch pad is inaccessible.”

Kentaro shook his head.

“Can’t accept this, Kozaburo. You find a way to get us in, and find it by tomorrow morning.”
“Otherwise we go on our own, and according to this plan,” added Meritxell.

Nambu knew better than to try to talk them out of it. So he spend another night trying to come up with a better infiltration plan. He was not happy with the final product, but the two agents were, and, in the loose structure allowed in the department of covert operations, it would be up to Kentaro and Meritxell to take the final decision. Nambu had no doubt as to what it would be. Even if Kentaro had been willing to take a step back for a couple of months, he knew that Meritxell would not be so accommodating: Carellia was her planet, after all.

As they were getting ready to board their approach craft, with the usual bravado of ISO staff, the two agents asked Nambu for a moment of his time to speak to him in private. Making their way through the engineers and ground staff running last-minute checks on the approach craft, they huddled in a corner.

“Kozaburo, there’s something we need to ask you,” started Meritxell.

“But we don’t really know how,” added Kentaro.

“Not like the two of you to be lost for words,” he observed mildly, but did not press them.

“It’s my son, Kozaburo,” Kentaro took the plunge. “If something happens to me, promise you will take care of him.”

“And my nephew, Kozaburo,” said Meritxell softly. “You know things on BC Island are not the best. Take care of him if… if something happens and I’m not there,”

Nambu shook his head, plastering a grin on his face.

“Guys, nothing’s going to happen. You’ll be back here before you know it, with your family and all.”

He tried to convince himself he believed this. The plan was not his original one, but it was solid. The elements were in place. The Carellian resistance was ready. The launch pad would be destroyed and the two agents flown back to the ISO.

Meritxell grabbed his arm, a new urgency in her voice.

“Kozaburo! Promise me!”

Kentaro looked at him, his face broken.

“Please, my friend.”

So he only nodded.

“I promise.”


When the news came to the ISO that the launch pad was destroyed but that Galactor had stopped the rescue craft from taking off and had taken the crew and the agents prisoners, Nambu had hoped for a quick PoW exchange. Until the ISO had discovered that Galactor did not really go for PoW exchanges. Not when they had the infamous pilot and operative Red Impulse in their grasp, not when they had Meritxell Adorno, the number one ISO agent on their wanted list. Nambu gave it a few months. He did. Then he sought out Kentaro’s little son. And after the tragic events on BC Island, when another little boy called Joe was left without a home and a family, Nambu sought him out also.


The news of the escape had reached the ISO, but not of the agents’ whereabouts. Kentaro and Meritxell had gone to ground. More than ten years after they had been captured, the two had managed to escape Galactor, and were now making their way across the universe. Helping local resistance bands against Galactor, occasionally even getting in contact with Nambu and the Science Ninja Team. Nambu had spoken to them, on the intercom. He had seen Kentaro once or twice, the tears of their reunion blending with the tears of joy at Kentaro seeing pictures of his son as the Eagle.

“Tell him, Kentaro,” Nambu had insisted, gripping his friend’s hand. “Tell him.”

But Kentaro would not budge. “Not yet, my friend.”

Nambu had spoken to Meritxell as well, but had not seen her in person. She had not wanted it, she said. Too much to take in, the first years of her freedom. Too much to do. Then, out of the blue, she had called him. She was in the Carellia system, close to Earth, and would like to meet him over a drink during the Christmas holidays. She was on a mission with Kentaro again, for the Carellians, but could steal a couple of days to fly to Earth.

He balked at her.

“You are in Carellia? Christ, Meritxell, you are wanted there!”

“I am wanted everywhere, Kozaburo,” she replied evenly. “So, now, what’s it going to be? You going to meet me?”

She had lost so much weight, Nambu thought absently. But what she had lost in weight, she seemed to have gained in steel. He closed his eyes.

“Of course I’m going to meet you.”


The boys of the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day

As they hugged, Nambu let his tears run freely down his cheeks. Meritxell held on to him.

“I missed you,” she kept saying. “I missed you.”

“Your nephew…” he started, as they pulled apart.

Meritxell took a generous gulp of her single malt.

“I know…I’m so proud of him…You did good, Kozaburo. With both of them. With the whole team.”

Nambu shook his head.

“No I didn’t. I should have never let you go on that mission, you and Kentaro. Then Ken would have had his father, Joe would have had his aunt…”

“You couldn’t have stopped us, Kozaburo. Not then, not now, if the same situation arises. I will fight against Galactor with every fibre of my being, and so will Kentaro. And so will you,” she added seriously.

“But all these years in prison…”

She shrugged.

“We knew it, didn’t we? When we took off on our missions? That it could come to this?”

Nambu was not convinced.

“There’s no shame in loving freedom, Meritxell. There’s no shame in wanting to live a free life, and not be behind bars.”

“Of course both of us wanted to live a free life and not behind bars,” she smiled. “Which is why we escaped! But I also want my nephew to live a free life without ever worrying of being taken prisoner by Galactor, Kozaburo. Which is why we will all continue doing what we’re doing until it’s over.”

He sipped his drink, gazing at Meritxell over the rim of the glass.

“Speaking of your nephew, there’s someone waiting outside whom I’m sure you’d like to meet. Or to meet again, as the case may be.”

He waved at a dark figure hunched just outside the bar. The figure started walking towards them.

“Joe, this is your aunt Meritxell…”

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
So Happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

The boys of the NYPD choir were singing Galway Bay
And the bells were ringing out for Christmas Day
~ Table of Contents ~
[Report This]
You must login (register) to review.