Outlaw Star Fan Fiction ❯ Outlaw Star; The Ryunoken Sword(revised, rededited, and better than ever) ❯ Eye of a Predator ( Chapter 2 )

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

CHAPTER 2:

EYE OF

A PREDATOR

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

(Author's note: The manji that appears on the breastplates of the Oni-who appear later in this chapter- is a symbol that has been used widely in Japanese Buddhist practices. It is a symbol of night and magical practices. Physically it resembles a swastika that has been reversed. In other words, the bars move in a counter clockwise motion instead of clockwise. I wish to stress that this is in no way a reference to Nazism or an endorsement of nazi beliefs. The manji is a traditional Japanese Buddhist symbol. If you doubt my word, go to your friendly neighborhood comic book store and check out the disclaimer that appears in the front of the, "Blade of the Immortal," manga. In other words, DON'T FLAME ME ABOUT IT! DON'T SEND ME ANY PRO-NAZI MATERIAL EITHER! I AM NOT NOR HAVE I EVER HAD A DESIRE TO BE A NAZI!)

THE TIME: THE NEXT MORNING

God I hate doing this, Gene thought. He and the others stood at the bottom of the stairs that led up to the manor that served as the house and headquarters for Fred Luo's broker business. Thanks to the pirate-hunting job they had taken from the Angel Links' Heifong base, he and Jim had finally paid off the 1.6-million wong debt they owed to Fred. Helping the private security force track down the pirates' main base on Heifong 2 had earned them an easy 3 million wong. Not to mention a complete resupply and repair of the Outlaw Star on Angel Links' tab. Of course, the remaining 1.4 million had to go to paying the rental on the Outlaw Star's docking, the office for Starwind and Hawking Enterprises, not to mention the food budget-a good part of which was taken up by Aisha. How a woman who was a full head shorter than him could eat as much as she did and not become seriously overweight was beyond Gene's comprehension, even if she was a Ctarl-Ctarl.

It was for those reasons that they all had all come down that particular morning to Fred's manor. When Gene returned to the office after his meeting with Leilong the night before, Jim told him that Fred had called. An associate of his wanted to hire Starwind and Hawking Enterprises to do a job for him. Fred hadn't given the details; all he said was that his associate would reveal everything the next day. He also said that they would make a very large amount of money.

And so, here they were. They stood in front of the huge manor, about to meet the mystery client and get the details on the job he was offering.

"Gene, do we really have to do this?" Gene looked down at Jim Hawking. The blonde twelve year old, genius, and Gene's adopted younger brother had a look of apprehension on his face. He never liked going to see Fred either. Still, if the job really was both legit and high paying then there was no way they could refuse it.

"Come on Jim," Gene said. "Remember Fred's not really a bad guy. He's just…" and Gene stopped halfway as he searched for the right words, "too perky for his own good."

"Why is that a bad thing?" Gene switched his attention over to Melfina. After she had broken up with him, the beautiful bio-android girl had gone back to the way she used to dress. Under her cloak she wore a white blouse with a blue tie, black short skirt with suspenders, and gray tights with black heels. In addition to her usual ankle bracelet, she also wore a gold chain necklace with a small diamond pendant. The pendant was a gift from Gene to celebrate their first month together as a real couple. After their breakup, she offered to give it back to Gene, but he insisted that she keep it. The store he had bought it from had a strict no-return policy anyway.

"Nothing, nothing at all Melfina," Gene replied, flashing his trademark smile. "But you know Jim. He's such a wet blanket that he's always uncomfortable around people who know how to have fun."

"Yeah, well I think I'd rather stay away from Fred's idea of fun if you don't mind Gene," Jim commented. Yeah, you and me both partner, Gene thought.

"Hey," Aisha said. "I just hope that what Freddy said about how much this guy was offering is true. I've already got a million ideas about what I'm going to buy with my share of the money." Money. If enough were offered, Aisha Clan-Clan would walk barefoot into hell and back. Her hands rubbed together and her ears twitched. For a second, Gene could have sworn that he saw the cat-girl drooling as well.

"Well," Suzuka said in her all to familiar tone of cool aloofness, "I don't really care for the money, but I think it might be interesting to work at the request of a man I was once paid to kill." Don't really care for the money huh? Gene thought. In a sense it was true. The only frivolous things Gene ever saw the female assassin buy were exotic teas and restorative oil for her bokuto.

"Well then Suzu," Aisha quickly replied. "If you don't want your share I'll gladly take it off your hands for you."

"I don't think so," Susuka said. "Oh and Aisha?"

"Yeah Suzu?"

"How many times do I have to tell you to stop calling me buy that name?" Suzuka asked; her voice tinged with annoyance. Suzuka hated being called by her unofficial nickname. That was the main reason why Aisha kept doing it.

"Come on everyone," Gene said as he ignored Aisha and Suzuka's squabbling. "Let's go see what this friend of Fred's wants."

Leading his group up the steps to the front door, Gene was met by one of Fred's bodyguards, the short and light one. After confirming that the group had an appointment with Fred, he led the five outlaws through the door and into the central display room. As usual, the display room was filled with every spare amount of space with models of missiles, laser cannons, and various grappler arm weapons. The guard then led them up a set of stairs at the other end of the display room, then down a long hall on the second floor. At the end of the hall, he stopped at a pair of double doors that led into Fred's office.

"Go on in," the guard said. "The young master is expecting all of you." That's what I'm afraid of, Gene thought. Taking a deep breath, Gene knocked on the double doors.

"Come innnn!" a high-pitched voice sang from the other side of the doors. Wincing, Gene opened the heavy doors and entered Fred's office. Fred had redecorated since the last time Gene and Jim had come to see him. Cherry trees still lined the sides but the carpet had been changed from burgundy to scarlet. He had also replaced his old, all business desk with an elaborately carved antique. Fred's other bodyguard, the tall and dark one, stood behind the desk looking out the window. Over by the left side Cherry trees, Fred stood and talked with what must have been the man he mentioned in his phone call to Jim last night. The man was Gene's height with greasy brown hair and an eye patch over his left eye. His good right eye was an icy blue color. For a second, the man reminded Gene of Hilda. He even had a cybernetic left arm. However, Hilda's arm was only cybernetic from the elbow down and was disguised by synth-skin. This guy's arm was completely uncovered and was cybernetic all the way up to the shoulder.

"Gene! How good of you and your friends to come see me."

Haykon turned around as Fred Luo turned his attention to the group of people who had just entered the office. Luo was speaking directly to the group's leader, a tall redheaded guy about 21 with a scarred cheek; dressed in a red and black jumpsuit with a red overcoat over his slim frame. Haykon watched as Luo walked up to the guy and hugged him hard.

"Um, yeah, I'm real glad to see you too Fred," the redhead said, the look on his face speaking volumes about how uncomfortable his situation was making him. Judging by his appearance, Haykon thought, this must be the famous Gene Starwind.

"Oh and Jim, how have you been doing?" Fred asked as he turned his attention to a blond kid who walked behind Starwind. "Aren't you growing up to be quite the heartbreaker?" he asked as he kneeled down to embrace the kid.

"Well, uh, I guess so," the kid said, sporting the same look Starwind had a second ago.

"Hey Fred," Starwind asked, "what's the details with this job that you called us about?"

"Oh yes the job," Fred said as his flirtatious manner switched to a purely professional one. The kid sighed in relief, grateful that his friend had gotten him out of the awkward moment. The kid must be that partner of his, Haykon thought. What was his name again? Oh yeah, Jim Hawkling, Hawknee, something like that. He then noticed the other people that came in with Starwind and Hawkey. The first one he noticed was the Ctarl woman, a rare site on a planet this far from the Empire. Based on the information that had been given to him, this had to be the former Ctarl-Ctarl Ambassador Plenipotentiary Aisha Clan-Clan. He then noticed the woman who walked to the Ctarl's right. This one was tall and beautiful, dressed in a kimono with snow-white complexion and long shining black hair. This had to be none other than the infamous "Twilight" Suzuka, an assassin whose wooden sword was said to be as deadly as the katanas forged by the guild's weapons masters.

And then, he saw her, Melfina.

She was even more desirable than he had been led to believe. Her black hair was cut collar length except for the long bangs on each side. Her large brown eyes betrayed her innocence while her gray tights seemed to only enhance the length of her slender legs. Oh how Hakon would love to have legs like those wrapped around him.

"Well," Luo continued, "My friend Mr. Davidson here is a hauler who helps in the transfer of special products such as grappler armaments to customers outside the Heifong system. Isn't that right Mr. Davidson? Uh, Davidson are you there?"

"Huh? Oh yes. That's exactly right Fred." Haykon had been staring so intently at the android he had forgotten that he was supposed to be impersonating Davidson. He hoped that Starwind hadn't noticed; otherwise his mission would be compromised. And if that happened, Hakon knew that those above him would be more than slightly disappointed with him.

"Mr. Davidson touched down here on Heifong two days ago," Luo said. "And on the night he arrived, if you can believe it, his ship was broken into. Not only that, the cargo he was carrying was stolen from right under the nose of spaceport security."

"What exactly was stolen?" the Ctarl asked.

"I was hauling five class six grappler machine guns as well as ten crates of class three homing missiles. If I don't get them back I'll have to pay for them out of my own pocket." Haykon then put on his best desperation face and shook his hands for added effect. "Do you have any idea how much weapons like that cost!" he yelled in a panicked voice.

"Hey, now just calm down," Starwind said as he raised his hand. "If that was really the stuff you were carrying then there was no way the people who stole it could have gotten very far."

"Gene is right," Suzuka said. "Weapons like that would have to be hidden away as soon as possible. Otherwise, people would notice them and report it to the authorities."

"Jim," Starwind said to the kid. "Bring up a map of Heifong City and try to find out where these people could have taken Davidson's cargo."

"Right," Hawskin said. Reaching into his jacket, the kid pulled out a palm-sized personal assistant. "Let's see," Hawklone said as he typed in the data, "it would have to be someplace large, as well as both abandoned and relatively close to the spaceport."

"Excuse me, Mr. Davidson," Melfina asked. "I don't think I understand as to why you requested us specifically to find your stolen cargo." Haykon was immediately taken aback. From what he had been told, Melfina never got involved in conversations that involved Starwind and Hawkland's work. Did she suspect something? The little bitch was smarter than she looked.

"Melfina," Aisha muttered, "for what this guy is offering, I really don't think that matters."

"Oh no, no," Haykon said. "It's perfectly alright. You see I had heard how you people had tracked down the pirate base on Heifong 2 that had been causing so much trouble for the private security force that watches over this system. I figured that if you could find such a cleverly hidden base, finding some stolen cargo would be an easy job for you all."

His answer appeared to satisfy her; at least he hoped it would.

"I got it!" Hawksin exclaimed. "There's a condemned warehouse about one block from the spaceport. It's the only place that fits all the requirements."

"Great job Jim," Starwind said to the kid as he turned back to Haykon. "Sir, Starwind and Hawking Enterprises will find your cargo and return it to you by sundown."

"Ahem!" Aisha said. "Gene, aren't you forgetting a little something like our payment?"

"I'll pay a fifty thousand wong finders fee for the merchandise," Haykon replied. "As well as ten thousand wong to each person who helps find it."

"That's good enough for me! Come on everyone!" the Ctarl yelled as she looked around excitedly. "Lets go find that cargo!"

"Aisha, please calm down," Suzuka said.

"I'll calm down after I get paid my ten thousand!" Aisha said, pushing them out all out the door at once.

"Damn it Aisha," Starwind yelled, "would you settle down and stop pushing me!"

As the motley group left the office, Haykon watched with amusement at their antics. This was going to be easier than he thought.

As the guard led them all back outside, Jim was finally able to relax. He didn't have anything personal against Fred, he just couldn't figure out why Fred thought he was gay. Jesus Christ, Jim thought, I haven't even reached puberty yet.

"Hey you!" the bodyguard called out to Gene as they exited the manor.

"Yeah, what do you want?" Gene asked

"I heard that you're single again?"

"Yeah so what about it?"

"Oh nothing," the guard grinned. "I just thought that maybe now you'd be able to payback the young master's love for you." Gene's left eye twitched involuntarily.

"You and your friend really get off on making me uncomfortable don't you?" he asked.

"You got that right," The guard laughed as he vanished back inside. Turning around, Gene took a deep breath to regained his composure before leading them all back to the car parked at the bottom of the steps. Jim and Gene sat in the front while the girls all piled into the back. Five minutes later, they were all heading down Highway Five towards the spaceport.

"Gene?" Melfina asked all of a sudden.

"Yeah Mel?"

"Why did you ask me to come along with you on this? Don't you think that maybe I'll get in the way?"

"Well Melfina," as Gene looked at her in the rearview mirror, "Davidson offered ten thousand wong for each person who worked on this job. Besides, you won't be in the way. This is the sort of job that needs a lookout to watch the outside."

"Oh, well then I'll do my best to do a good job. I just hope we finish in time for tonight."

"Why?" Gene asked. "What's happening tonight?"

"Don't you remember Gene?" Melfina asked. "You have a date tonight with that woman you said you met at the market."

"Oh yeah, yeah," Gene said quickly, "I was so preoccupied with the job that I forgot all about it." Jim looked up at his aniki. He knew that Gene hated lying to Melfina. After the Leyline, back when they first started dating, Gene had made a vow that he wouldn't keep any secrets from her. He kept telling her that he was back in the game, but in actuality, Gene hadn't been on a single date since their breakup. And as far as Jim knew, Gene hadn't even gone to any of the local brothels either. It was as if he had been completely changed because of Melfina. Gene, Jim thought, just swallow your pride and tell Melfina you love her and that you want her back. Seeing you like this is almost as bad as when you were nothing but a letch. However, Jim knew Gene hadn't brought Melfina along for either the money bonus or to use her as a lookout. He leaned over to Gene and spoke in a lowered voice, being careful not to let Melfina hear.

"So you saw it to, huh?" Jim asked

"The way Davidson was looking at Melfina? You're damn right I saw it." Jim nodded. The hungry look in Davidson's eye was the same one Gene used to have whenever he saw a woman. Only in Davidson's one eye, Jim saw what only could be described as a cold and predatory look. Gene never admitted it, but Jim knew that deep down, Gene blamed himself for what happened to Melfina almost a year ago. Harry Mcdougal, obsessed with possessing her, had tried to kidnap Melfina while his brother Ron led Gene and the others to the other side of town. Luckily, Melfina was able to gather herself together and escape before Harry made off with her and the Outlaw Star. Gene must have taken her along with them so he could make sure Davidson didn't try to pull the same crap as Harry.

After another twenty minutes of driving, they finally arrived at the warehouse where Davidson's cargo had supposedly been taken to. The place looked like it hadn't been used in years. The windows were all broken and the rising doors in the front had been rusted shut.

"All right everyone," Gene said as he got out. "Me, Jim, and Suzuka will go in to check the place out. Melfina, you and Aisha will stay out here and serve as lookouts."

"What?" Aisha yelled. "No way! I wanna have some fun. How about Jim stays out here as the lookout and I'll go in to beat down those crooks."

"Look Aisha," Gene said. "I need Jim and his P.A.'s scanners to check out the warehouse's interior. I also need a lookout out here to warn us in case trouble comes and Melfina can only look one way at a time."

"Yeah but..."

"Besides," Gene interrupted, "aren't you always saying that the Ctarl-Ctarl have the best eyes in the universe?" With that, Aisha folded her arms over her chest and sulked. Jim snickered to himself. To Aisha, keeping her pride was far more important than having fun.

"Right then," Gene said. "Now that we've gotten that settled let's go to work. Melfina, Aisha, keep an eye out for trouble but make sure to stay within seeing distance of each other."

"Right," Melfina said. Aisha just cursed something in Ctarl. With their plan set into motion; Melfina and Aisha took positions at the opposing ends of the block while Jim, Gene, and Suzuka walked toward the warehouse. Taking out his P.A, Jim did a quick scan of the warehouse's interior.

"It looks like there's an entrance around the back," he said.

"Well then," Gene said as he drew his gun, "let's go check the place out." Moving down an alley that led around to the back of the warehouse, Jim somehow got the feeling that they were being watched. But as he looked around, he didn't see a single thing. Not a person, not even an alley cat. That's weird, he thought. Usually in Heifong City, you see at least one stray cat in every alley. Jim knew of at least six who lived in the alley behind the office. Melfina, kind person that she was, was always leaving food out for them. It was almost as if something had scared the strays off. Maybe I'm just a little unnerved by how that creep Davidson was staring at Mel.

After coming out the other end of the alley, Jim and the others saw the door he had mentioned at the top of a short set of stairs in the warehouse's back. Climbing up the stairs, Gene reached for the doorknob and tried to open the door. Unfortunately, the door was locked and wouldn't open

"Stand back everyone," Gene said as he brought his gun up to blast the doorknob.

"Wait a minute Gene!" Jim exclaimed as he grabbed Gene's hand.

"Come on Jim, what's wrong now?"

"Don't you think that if you shoot the door then whoever's inside might hear it?" Gene may have gotten a little more mature in the last year, but he obviously wasn't any smarter.

"Well then," Gene asked, "do you have a better idea?"

"I do as a matter of fact," Suzuka said. Pushing Gene aside, Suzuka removed the hairpin that kept her left hair lock in place. She then placed the pin in the door's lock and, after a brief second of wriggling it around, successfully unlocked and opened the door.

"What a showoff," Gene muttered as Suzuka put her hair back into place. As they entered the warehouse, the feeling of being watched seemed to steadily grow. Something is very wrong here, Jim thought, but I just can't put my finger on it. The feeling seemed to explode as they neared a door that led into the warehouse's storage area. Gene took position on the door's left side while Suzuka took position on the right. Suzuka drew her bokuto and Gene drew his shotgun to back up his pistol. They nodded to each other and with a whirl of his coat, Gene kicked in the door, both guns drawn and Suzuka covering him. The three of them entered into the storage area as Jim fumbled around at the wall, searching for the power switch. As soon as he found it, he flicked it on and the lights came on in a flash of sparks, revealing the warehouse to be completely deserted. Dust and broken glass were littered all over the floor. A pile of old wooden crates was stacked over by the wall to their left, but the starship weapons Davidson had described were nowhere to be seen.

"I don't believe this," Gene yelled. "This was nothing but a goddamned setup."

"It may be more than that," Suzuka said. Her dark brown eyes were flickering all over the warehouse's interior. "I have a feeling that we've been led into some kind of trap."

"I hate to say it," Jim said, wanting nothing more than to get out of there, "but I think you're right. I've got a weird feeling that someone is watching us."

"Everyone," Gene said, "get back to back. Jim, do a scan. Try and see if you can find anything." They all promptly stood to each other's back as Jim scanned the warehouse's interior.

"I can't find anything Gene," Jim said. "Visual, radio, magnetic, nothing shows up on…."

"Look out," Suzuka suddenly yelled. She pushed them out of the way as five metal spikes flew down from above to where they where they standing. The spikes struck the spot where they were all standing, missing them by a matter of inches as they landed in a heap with Suzuka on top of Gene.

"Suzuka," Gene grinned, "I never knew."

"In your dreams Gene," Suzuka coolly replied as a dark figure jumped down from a catwalk on the warehouse's ceiling. Scrambling to their feet, they quickly examined their visitor. Is this guy one of those Kei ninjas? Jim thought. No way! He's something else entirely. The creature, that was the only thing Jim could think of to call it, was as tall as Gene. It was dressed in a black one piece that clung loosely to its arms and legs, but was drawn tight around the torso. In addition to the one piece, it wore armored gauntlets, shin guards, breastplate, and a facemask that covered the lower half of its face. A manji symbol adorned the center of the breastplate, the right angle arms radiating from a center adorned with a single eye. For a second, it looked to Jim like the creature's armor was actually growing out of its flesh. It stood tall and straight and had a lean muscular build, a sharp contrast to the hunched and gangly form of the Kei ninjas. It had dark gray skin, white hair, and featureless eyes that glowed with an evil looking green light. The creature raised its right hand and, to their amazement, the hand stretched and flattened into a sword with a jagged blade. Without a word, the creature pulled back its blade hand and charged straight towards them.

"Yeah right," Gene said, who promptly shot the creature. The creature took the bullet in the middle of its forehead, falling back and on to the floor.

"Damn. That was easy. All right everybody, let's clear out of here before anything else…."

But before Gene could finish his sentence, another creature, identical in every way to the first, dropped down from the ceiling. It was followed by five more. And then, another six just seemed to materialize out of the walls. As they appeared, each creature changed its hand into a weapon. Some turned their hands into elaborately shaped swords and blades while others just extended their fingers into six-inch long claws.

"Gene!" Jim said, scared out of his mind. "We're surrounded and….oh shit! Gene look!" Gene turned around and looked at what Jim saw. The first creature, the one that Gene had shot, was getting back up. It was then that they all saw there wasn't any blood coming from the bullet hole in its head. Not only that, the wound was healing as they watched.

"Jim," Gene said under his breath, "when I give you the signal, run for those crates." Jim nodded in acknowledgement. The creatures were already striking attack stances and were preparing to charge. "Now!" Gene yelled as he dropped a flash grenade. The grenade exploded in a flash of light and blinded the creatures. Seeing his chance, Jim ran between two of them and hid behind the crates. Suzuka, wasting no time, charged for the three closest to her. Her bokuto became a blur of motion as she eviscerated one; then cut a deep gash across another's chest before cutting off the left arm of the third. The arm flew through the air and disintegrated before it even hit the ground. The five that came out of the walls ran straight for Gene, but Gene's trigger finger was faster than the creatures. His guns roared and the creatures went down. But just like the first one he shot, these others just got back up, regenerated, and reattacked. Likewise, the eviscerated and slashed creatures that Suzuka attacked simply healed their wounds while the one she "disarmed," simply grew a new one, complete with an armored gauntlet. A group of four joined the ones Suzuka was fighting and surrounded her. Suzuka unleashed one of her secret techniques and a whirlwind of air rose and sent the creatures flying backward. Two of them got back up again and ran towards her. They slashed and stabbed at her with their claws and blades. Suzuka slashed back and parried with her sword, matching and countering blow for blow. But for each one she took down, two more took its place. The ones Gene fought were doing the same thing. Gene ran and circled around them as he reloaded his guns as fast as he could. I've got to do something, Jim thought. There's no way these things could be human, but they've got to have a weakness somewhere. Gene will be out of ammo soon and Suzuka looks like she's already starting to get tired out. If we keep fighting like this then we're dead.

Taking out his P.A, Jim began scanning the creatures for any kind of weakness. One of the creatures that was fighting Suzuka turned and saw him. It raised its left hand as its extended claws straightened out into spikes. Jim ducked behind the crates as the spikes launched from the creature's hand. They flew through the air and ripped through the crates before embedding themselves in the wall, barely missing Jim's shoulder. The creature then jumped and flipped through the air, landing right in front of him. Jim fell and scooted backward in a vain attempt to get away. The creature's right hand stretched and extended a full yard before capping itself off with a vicious looking scythe-like blade before silently raising the weapon to bring down right upon Jim. His mind numb with fear, Jim's hand reached behind him in search of anything that he could use as weapon. His shaking hand closed upon a brick that someone had used to break one of the warehouse's windows long ago. In desperation, he grabbed the brick and threw it as hard as he could at the creature, striking it in the manji symbol. The creature lowered its blade and stumbled back, its hand clutching its chest. I couldn't have hit it that hard, he thought. Could that symbol be its weak point?

Regaining his composure, Jim reached for the gun in his jacket's holster. He wasn't anywhere near as good a shot as his aniki, but there was no way he could possibly miss at this range. He fired, hitting the creature right in the symbol, knocking it back and on to the ground. The creature thrashed and convulsed violently before disintegrating into dust, leaving behind a fractured green crystal the size of Jim's fist.

"Gene, Suzuka!" he yelled. "Aim for the manji on their breastplate! It's their weak point!" Gene and Suzuka looked to him and nodded. Gene reloaded his gun and took careful aim at the five creatures surrounding him. He shot them all in their symbol and they fell, convulsed, and disintegrated. In a burst of speed, Suzuka knocked back five of her attackers before using one of her techniques to slash their symbols all at once. For the last one, Suzuka reversed her hold on her bokuto, spun, and brought it up and through the creature's symbol. It thrashed on her sword and then disintegrated like all the others.

"Hey, are you two all right?" Jim asked as he came out from behind the pile of crates.

"Yeah," Gene said as he panted heavily. "Just give me a moment to catch my breath."

"That goes for me as well," Suzuka said as she leaned on her sword.

"What the hell were those things?" Gene asked as he surveyed the battlefield, looking like he expected more of the creatures to fall from the ceiling, pass through the walls, or maybe even float up through the floor.

"I don't know Gene. But it looks like this is their power source," Jim said as he kneeled down to pick up one of the fractured crystals. Gene and Suzuka walked over as Jim used his P.A. to do a chemical analysis on the crystal.

"Well?" Gene asked.

"Gene, it can't be," Jim said as he looked up at his aniki, "but the analysis says that it's dragonite."

"What?" Gene asked incredulously. "How the hell can that be dragonite? It's green!"

"Yeah I know, and the analysis says that its radioactive half life is only a fraction of what dragonite is supposed to be. Still, that's what it says it is. I'm going to have to do a more accurate analysis when we get back to the office so I can't give any real answers at the moment."

"Sure Jim," Gene said. "But first, let's go find Davidson and beat some answers out of him. He tried to play us for suckers and I don't appreciate that at all. So as I was saying before those things interrupted us, let's get the hell out of here before anything else happ…" but before Gene could finish his sentence, he was again interrupted, this time by a voice from the outside.

"Hey you! What the hell do you think you're doing? Let her go you asshole!"

"That sounded like Aisha," Suzuka said.

"Great, what the hell is her problem now?" Gene asked. But then, Jim remembered the predatory look in Davidson's eye. He and Gene both turned to each other as a mixed look of fear and enlightenment spread over their faces.

"Melfina!" they said in unison.

She looked left and she looked right. Both ways seemed clear of any trouble.

Melfina had decided to take a lookout position on the street's eastern end while Aisha had moved down to the west. Looking over her shoulder every once in a while, Melfina checked to make sure she and Aisha were still in seeing distance like Gene said. Since Melfina could still see Aisha, she figured Aisha could still see her, especially since Aisha's Ctarl eyes were as good as Melfina's android eyes.

She hadn't said anything, but Melfina was glad that Gene and Jim had taken her with them on this job. She couldn't be sure, but in Fred's office, Melfina thought she saw a frightening look in Davidson's eye. A look exactly like the one Harry Mcdougal had when he tried to kidnap her. Right before they all went to look for the Leyline.

Harry, Melfina felt a pang of sadness stab her heart whenever she thought about him. At the Leyline, he claimed that he loved her. He even gave his life trying to protect her from Hazonko. Still, Melfina knew that Harry didn't really love her, nor did she him. He just thought that as they were both contructs then they should be together. Of course, he wasn't really a bad person. He was just lonely. He felt that he was unworthy to be around real humans. If he had found a human who would accept and love him just like Gene had done for her, than maybe he wouldn't have been consumed by his own self-loathing.

Just like Gene did for me, Melfina thought before pushing the idea from her mind. What they had was over. They were just friends now and that was the way it had to stay.

Remembering that Gene had assigned her to be a lookout, Melfina snapped out of her daydream. She looked left and right again. All seemed quiet. Gene was counting on her to do her job and she wasn't going to let him down.

"Well, fancy meeting you here." Startled, Melfina whirled at voice and saw Davidson was standing in the alley behind her, leaning against one of the buildings.

"Mr. Davidson," Melfina said as she regained herself. "What are you doing here?" Davidson strolled out of the alley and pointed toward the condemned warehouse where Gene, Jim, and Suzuka had just walked into. "Is that where my cargo has been taken to?"

"Yes," she answered. "Gene, Jim, and Suzuka just went in to check out the inside."

"Good," he said. "Where's that Ctarl friend of yours?"

"Aisha? She's over there."

"Ah yes, I see her now." Mr. Davidson, for some reason, seemed angry that Aisha was outside with her. It was then Melfina began to feel afraid. But of what she had no idea. "Ms. Melfina," Davidson asked, "would you be so kind as to give Gene a message for me?"

"Sure, of course," Melfina replied. The feeling of imminent dread was getting worse.

"Tell him," he said with a cold smile, "Leyline Project Command: It was you who broke my mason plate." Melfina gasped. That was the pass phrase that Professor Khan programmed into her. The same phrase that used to send her into a stasis mode. Of course, thanks to the wish she made at the Leyline, the command code and everything else that made her the Maiden of the Leyline had been stripped from her, leaving the pass phrase completely useless. Davidson meanwhile, blinked in surprise. He must have been starting to realize that the pass phrase wasn't going to work. Melfina knew she had to take advantage of the situation before it was too late. She turned and started to run towards where Aisha was standing.

"Aisha!" Melfina yelled. "Hel..."-but before she could finish, something pricked the back of her neck. Her limbs failed and her vision went black as she fell unconscious.

Haykon couldn't believe it. The pass phrase was supposed to knock her into a coma. Instead, she just stood there as if nothing had happened. Could the command codes have been deleted from her operating systems? Impossible! Only Gwen Khan had the ability to do that. And he had been told that Khan had died at the Leyline. Well, there was no time to think about that now. The little bitch was already starting to run for her friend. Luckily, Haykon had a backup plan. The android started to call out for the Ctarl woman, but she hadn't taken two steps before Haykon flipped up the wrist of his cyber-arm. The needle gun installed into the wrist's underside fired a tranquilizer tipped spine straight into her neck, causing Melfina to immediately fell unconscious. He rushed over to catch her before she hit the ground, just as he heard someone yell in his direction.

"Hey you! What the hell do you think you're doing? Let her go you asshole!" Haykon looked up to see the Ctarl woman running straight for him. He was a lot stronger now, thanks to the cyber-arm the Toku weapons masters had built especially for him. Still, he really didn't feel like fighting the Ctarl-Ctarl Aisha Clan-Clan, known for both her immense strength and violent temper. He reached into his pocket, found the whistle, and blew as loud as he could. Right on cue, the four Oni who had stayed outside as his lookouts appeared to hold her off. The ones waiting inside the warehouse should have already killed the others by now. With the Ctarl woman busy fighting the Oni, Haykon made his escape. Hoisting the android over his shoulder, he pressed the button on his watch that activated his car's autopilot. The red '07 Panther pulled up to the curb and he threw Melfina into the back. Wasting no time, he jumped into the driver's seat and stepped on the gas. As he passed the warehouse, he saw Starwind and the others run out from the alley. Hawkstin and the Suzuka woman ran to help the Ctarl fight off the Oni while Starwind began firing at the car. Luckily, the Toku had foreseen to have the chassis and the windows bulletproofed. Haykon gunned the accelerator and turned left, then right. With the speed he was going and the course he was taking, there'd be no way for them to follow him. His mission was a success. He had paid off his debt to the Toku.

As Haykon turned the next corner, he caught a glimpse of something in the rearview mirror that made his heart skip a beat. He stopped and turned around in his seat for a better look, but there was nothing back there. The street was completely deserted. It must have been my imagination, he thought. All right, now just calm down. I've done my part. The Toku messengers will take over after they arrive to take the android to the Toku leaders. As he continued on his way, Haykon just dismissed what he thought was a mere figment of his imagination. Still, he had to admit that it was the most realistic hallucination he ever had. He could have sworn that he had really seen a large silver and gray wolf running after the car.

(Hakon has kidnapped Melfina! What do the Toku Pirates want with her? Who are the messengers for the Toku that are coming to get her? Will Gene and the others be able to save her in time? Did Hakon really see a wolf chasing after his car? And what about the man in black? What is his role in all of this? Stay tuned for our next exciting episode. Same outlaw-time. Same outlaw-website. Don't forget to review.)

Chapter 1
Chapter 3

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