Outlaw Star Fan Fiction ❯ Outlaw Star; The Ryunoken Sword(revised, rededited, and better than ever) ❯ Meet me at the Bar ( Chapter 1 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

CHAPTER 1:

MEET ME AT THE BAR

(Official disclaimer: This is entirely a fan fic. I do not own the rights to Gene Starwind, Melfina, or any of the themes, concepts, starships, alien races, or other characters that appear in the "Outlaw Star" anime or manga. So Sunrise, Bandai, or whoever owns the rights to "Outlaw Star," PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, DON'T SUE ME FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!!! I'm only doing this to honor your work and to show my respect and appreciation for what has become my favorite anime.)

THE TIME: FIVE DAYS LATER

THE PLACE: HEIFONG

The bar was exactly as he remembered it, dim and dirty. Cigarette smoke hung overhead in a filthy cloud. The mirror behind the bar was still broken from years of being struck by pool cues, chairs, the occasional body, and the odd bullet. Over by the pool tables, men and women talked and laughed. Somebody put money into the music box and began playing "Outlaw Wild." Usually, he would have nodded his head in tune with the music; it was his favorite song after all. But tonight, Gene Starwind sat on the bar stool, staring into his drink, his mind preoccupied with the memories of the past year.

"Hey handsome, haven't seen you around here in a while. You ready to have some fun now?"

Gene looked up to see the woman who had propositioned him that night all those months ago, the night the man who claimed to be the legendary pirate assassin Shimi challenged him to a duel. She still had the butterfly tattoo on her left breast, as well as a second one above her right. The new one was a black widow spider, its forelegs reaching for the butterfly. If Jim saw that he'd probably say something about it being a warning sign from above, he thought.

"Sorry," Gene said as smiled weakly, "I'm going to have to turn your offer down again." His answer obviously took the woman by surprise. I'm probably the only guy who's ever turned her down twice.

"Look just what is you problem?" she asked. "Every time I talk to you it's always, sorry not interested. If it's STDs your worried about I've had all the vaccinations."

"It's not that at all," Gene said as he shook his shaggy red hair that had finally grown back out. How he let Melfina talk him into getting that stupid looking haircut after the Leyline was still beyond him. "It's just that, well, if I had met you a good year ago, I would have jumped all over you. Let's just say that people change."

"Right whatever," the woman said as she walked over to the pool tables to try her luck on a hulking bruiser. People change. That's just what she said three months ago. Gene returned to staring at his drink as someone chuckled behind him, a very familiar chuckle.

"The last time I saw you turn down a woman, someone had just challenged you to a duel." Gene looked behind and up at the tall and muscular figure of Leilong as he sat down. The older man and former Kei pirate assassin had gotten a few more scars on him since Gene "killed" him. He also had a few more gray hairs on his head.

"Yeah, and then the guy got scared when I killed his apprentice and then faked his death so he wouldn't have to fight me." The two laughed together at how their "duel to the death" turned out to be a second chance for Leilong.

"You don't seem the least bit surprised to see me," Leilong said as he poured them both a drink.

"After our duel," the red haired outlaw said, "I heard a rumor about some new outlaw named Leilong who was working in the Jula system. I doubt that there are two people in this part of the Galaxy with a name like that. Besides, before we left Heifong to go search for the Galactic Leyline, I stopped by your grave to say goodbye, only to find a hole dug from the inside out. I pretty much pieced it all together after that. I thought about maybe getting in touch with you after my little fight with Hazonko at the Leyline, but I realized that if I did the Kei Pirates might track you down and punish you for leaving them. So I decided to just let you live your life in peace. I never heard from you again until I got that E-mail today that said, 'Meet me at the bar. Same time as last. Signed L.'"

"What about your friends?" Leilong asked. "Wouldn't they be worried that you were having a drink with a man who tried to kill you?"

"I just told them I was going out for a drink," Gene shrugged. "That's truthful enough. Unless you're working for the Kei Pirates again you're no threat. Besides, when we buried you, Jim said that since you knocked everyone out instead of killing them, maybe you were one of the good guys."

"Maybe," the older man replied as he knocked back his drink. "Now what about you? Why did you turn down that woman again? Oh yeah I forgot, from what I've heard Melfina's your girlfriend now isn't she?

"No, not anymore," Gene said as he stared into his drink.

"Why, what happened?" Leilong asked. Gene didn't answer at first. He just continued to stare into his drink. After the Leyline, he had finally realized just how much Melfina meant to him. For the next three months, he and Mel had spent most of their spare time together, learning about themselves and each other. For Gene, who had never really committed himself to anything, it was hard at first, but as time went on he really began to like how being in a steady relationship felt. But by the third month, Melfina began acting strangely. Whenever they went out, he would occasionally see her looking at other couples, parents playing with their children, old folks who looked like they had been together a million years. And every time she did, Gene swore that he saw a sad look in her eye. Then one night, while he was helping her with the dishes, Melfina started asking Gene about where their relationship was going. Not prepared for this kind of discussion, Gene just told her told her that for now, just having her as his girlfriend was good enough for him. Later that night, Melfina knocked on Gene's bedroom door, came in, and told him that she didn't think that their relationship was going anywhere and that it might be best for them to go back to being just friends.

"What can I say," Gene finally answered with a shrug. "Things change." Knocking back his drink, Gene stared at his reflection in the mirror. There was no doubt in his mind that he had fallen in love with Melfina. But then again, even while they were dating, Gene still was never really sure that it was the kind of love that would make him want to spend the rest of his life with her. Melfina probably picked up on that and decided that it would be better just to end it quickly and painlessly than to drag it all out. She still lived with him and the others, not that he was complaining. He'd rather have Melfina in his life as just a friend than not have her at all. It was fun while it lasted, Gene thought. But then, whoever heard of an Outlaw settling down anyway?

"I see," Leilong said as he poured them another drink. "But you still haven't answered my first question. Why did you turn that woman down?"

"Let's just say that I have standards now, and she didn't quite measure up." Leilong nodded and didn't press the matter any further. "But what about you? You wouldn't have come back just to reminisce about old times or to catch up on new gossip. What is it that you want to talk to me about?" The older man turned back to Gene.

"Am I really that transparent?"

"In a word, yes."

"Well," Leilong said as he emptied his drink, "haven't you and your friends wondered why the Kei pirates never tried to take any kind of payback after you all killed Hazonko?"

"Actually, we were just glad to finally be left alone." Gene knew that it was maybe a stupid answer, but it was the only one he could give.

"Well kid, here's the real reason. Hazonko was very high up in the Kei hierarchy. In fact, some of the lesser bosses considered him the official second to the Tendo King."

"The Tendo King huh?" Gene interrupted. Gene had heard Suzuka mention the Tendo King once before. Supposedly, he was the big boss in charge of the entire Kei guild.

"Hazonko," Leilong continued, "handled day to day operations as well as enforcing the Tendo King's rule over the Kei territories. However, after you and your friends killed him, it severely crippled the Kei Pirates' control over their turf. It also left a power vacuum that the lesser bosses were all to eager to fill. As to be expected, it wasn't long before the Kei began to split into warring factions. The Tendo King found it impossible to maintain unity in the guild while also spearheading his own plans and agenda. In other words, by killing Hazonko you killed the entire Kei guild."

"Well considering that they are pirates," Gene said, "don't expect me to lose any sleep over it. Now let's cut through the crap. What exactly does this have to do with me?"

"Maybe nothing," Leilong answered. "But I thought that you'd like to know that as a result of your actions, the Kei were too weak to fend off the other pirate guilds who wasted no time in moving it to take the their territories for themselves."

"Is that a fact?" Gene asked as he knocked back another drink.

"Roughly one eighth of the Kei territories were taken by the Ban, but the rest…" and Leilong stopped in the middle of his sentence. For a second, Gene could have sworn that he saw the battle hardened warrior shudder.

"What about the rest?" Gene asked, already knowing that he wouldn't like the answer.

"The rest," Leilong continued, "were taken over by the Toku."

"The Toku?" Gene had never heard of them before.

"The Toku are the Japanese Pirate guild," Leilong answered. "Just like the Kei were the Chinese guild."

"Are they Tao masters?"

"No, they're martial artists who value brute strength and military tactics," Leilong said as he poured them both another drink. "They feel magic is a tool for weaklings and should only be used when there's no other option. The Senjutstu fighting style that the Kei assasins used was first taught to them by the Toku, back when the Kei and the Toku were allies against the then larger Ban guild."

"Well then what's the difference?"

"The difference," Leilong said as he stared Gene hard in the eye, "is that Tao masters are sorcerers who manipulate the ki lines around them to produce an effect. Martial artists, like the ones who work for the Toku, are masters of their own ki. They can raise it, lower it, and use it to do things that go beyond human limitations." Gene was right; he didn't like the answer.

"I still don't see just what this has to do with me," Gene said. "So the Kei are gone and someone else has taken their place. What's the big deal?" Leilong lowered his drink and looked Gene dead in the eye.

"The big deal," he told Gene, "is that word is starting to spread that you and your friends are the ones who killed Hazonko. So now every pirate group in the remaining three guilds is seeing you as a potential threat." Gene's neck hair bristled and his mouth felt dry. He had always wanted to make a name for himself, but this wasn't exactly what he had in mind.

"Are you saying that the Toku might come after me?"

"I don't really know," Leilong said as he polished off his fourth drink. "But still, I'd keep my guard up. These guys are tough. Even the Federal Space Forces are afraid to mix it up with them. And with the Kei territories added to their own, they're now the most powerful pirate guild in the entire galaxy." Upon saying that, Leilong pushed out his stool and stood up.

"So that's it then?" Gene asked. "You just stop in for a drink, tell me to watch my back and then leave?"

"Pretty much." Leilong said as he walked to the door. "I've got a flight to catch. You take care of yourself now kid."

"Yeah," Gene said. "You too." As soon as Leilong left, Gene stared at his drink for a second, knocked it back, and then left himself. After hearing what Leilong had to say, he just didn't feel like getting drunk anymore.

"So that was Gene Starwind huh?"

Leilong had only walked a block from the bar when he heard the rough voice. He turned to see a big and broad shouldered young man dressed completely in black leaning against the weather-hewn building. A large silver and gray wolf lay down beside the man, its ears twitching as it listened to every sound around it.

"Yeah," he answered, "that's him."

"Are you serious?" The man in black seemed rather skeptical. "A skinny kid like that actually killed Hazonko?"

"That's what they say." Leilong said as he kneeled down to scratch the wolf's head. "But don't dismiss him just like that. Remember what I taught you; you never know what anyone is truly capable of so never underestimate your opponent."

"Yeah, I remember," the man said. Leilong smiled. He knew the man in black would never forget what Leilong had taught him. Leilong was too good a teacher, and the man in black was his prize student.

"So," Leilong asked as he stood up, "are you gonna go and tell her tonight?"

"I really don't know," the man replied, a sober look on his face. "Something like this isn't the sort of thing that you slip into normal conversation. I don't even have any real proof. All I have is a partially corroded computer record from Professor Khan's laboratory. I won't really know for sure until I get a DNA sample from her. And I have no idea how I'm going to explain that to her."

"You'll find a way," Leilong said. "Look kid, I taught you everything I know about combat and honor, but I can't give you anything to help you in this. You're going to have to face this and everything that comes as a result alone."

"Yeah," the man replied, a weak smile on his face. "But I'll manage. I always do."

"Of course you will." Leilong then took the big man's hand is his own and shook it. "I can wish you luck though."

"You too," the man replied. "And thanks for coming all the way here to help me out. I appreciate how you got Starwind out here so I could check him out."

"Don't mention it. Now I've got to go or I'll miss my flight back to Jula." The man in black nodded and they went their separate ways, Leilong to the Spaceport and the man in black to the hotel where he and the wolf were staying. I wish I could give you the answers you need about Melfina old friend, Leilong thought, but Hazonko never told the Anten seven anything about her or the Leyline project. All I can do is wish you luck and pray that the answer you find is what you're really looking for.

(The man in black was Leilong's student? Leilong brought Gene out so the man in black could check him out? Maybe the man in black is the real threat and the Toku are just a distraction. But then, Why is the man in Black so interested in Melfina's DNA.? Stay tuned for more. Don't forget to review)

Prologue
Chapter 2

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