Outlaw Star Fan Fiction ❯ Outlaw Star; The Ryunoken Sword(revised, rededited, and better than ever) ❯ Troubled Thoughts ( Chapter 4 )

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

CHAPTER 4:

TROUBLED THOUGHTS

(Official disclaimer: This work is entirely a fan fic. I do not own the rights to Gene, Melfina, or any of the themes, concepts, planets, alien races, or any of the other characters that appear in the "Outlaw Star," or in the case of this chapter "Angel Links," anime or manga. So Bandai, Sunrise, or whoever owns the rights to "Outlaw Star" or "Angel Links," 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: In this chapter, the two officers of the Angel Links security force that Gene and company met in episode 19 make a special guest appearance. I have never seen the "Angel Links" anime, so I have no idea if using them like this would be in continuity or even accurate to the story line of "Angel Links". Just bear with me and don't flame me about it later.)

THE TIME: THREE DAYS LATER

THE PLACE: SOMEWHERE BETWEEN HEIFONG AND BLUE HEAVEN

Naked from the waist up since all of his shirts were in the dryer, Gene sat on the deck of the Outlaw Star's Laundromat, listening to the steady rumble of the dryer as it tumbled around and around. Jim was working in his quarters while Aisha and Suzuka were helping Melfina make lunch in the galley. They were all on their way to the free town of Blue Heaven. The asteroid city was far deeper into Ban territory than Heifong. Gene hoped that staying there for a few days would give them the time and safety they needed to think things over and form a plan of action.

As he sat, Gene thought of everything that had happened over the last few days. Melfina seemed to be all right. Still, he had ordered her to only enter her navigation chamber on a minimal basis. After all that had recently happened, she needed some time to recuperate. He hadn't told her that Hakyon had tried to molest her; he had instead told her that he himself had loosened her collar to help her breath easier. He didn't want to risk traumatizing her. After Harry McDougal had tried to kidnap her, Melfina had cried herself to sleep every night for almost a week. Gene had told her though about the man in black and how he had helped them save her. Melfina seemed curious about the man and why he had helped her. She had asked Gene and Jim to do as the man suggested and look him up. She wanted to thank him personally.

Deep down, Gene was secretly jealous of how Melfina took such a sudden fascination to the mysterious man, although he didn't know why. He and Melfina were over. She was free to be attracted to any man she wanted. Thinking that, Gene began to wonder why Melfina still traveled with him and the others. They were no longer dating so she didn't have to still live with him. Did she feel that they needed her to cook for them and help pilot the Outlaw Star? If that was the case, then they were forcing an obligation onto her. Melfina had changed so much since the Leyline. She no longer constantly worried about why she was created. She spent most of her time reading or studying on the Internet. She had taken up drawing, and was getting quite good at it. She was learning about herself; developing an identity, although ever since their breakup she occasionally seemed a little distant from him. She had to have some dreams of her own. Gene just couldn't believe that the outlaw lifestyle was something that a girl like Melfina wanted to do for the rest of her life. Raising his eyes, he checked the timer and saw that his shirts still had about twenty minutes to go. Switching his attention to the fluorescent lighting overhead, Gene leaned his head against the bulkhead and blew out through his lips.

"Penny for your thoughts?" a voice asked. Gene looked to the side and saw Jim standing in the Laundromat's hatchway. The blonde kid had his own bag of laundry thrown over his shoulder. The bag draped down his back and almost scraped on the deck surface.

"Hey Jim," Gene joked. "Don't get a hernia carrying that thing."

"Ha, ha, ha," Jim replied as he glowered at Gene. Gene just laughed as Jim turned away and emptied his load into the lower washer.

"Jim?" Gene asked as his depression returned.

"Yeah?" Jim answered as he turned around.

"Do you think that Melfina's happy?" Jim blinked in confusion and stared at Gene.

"What do you mean, 'Do I think that she's happy'?" Jim asked. "Of course she's happy!"

"Come on Jim," Gene said. His eyes were lowered to the floor. He couldn't look at his partner's face; he already knew how it would look. "Don't you sometimes think that maybe she'd be better off without us?"

"Of course not!" Jim yelled. "How the hell could you possibly say something like that? We're her family Gene!" Jim's voice was angry. Of course, Gene couldn't blame him. He knew how much that Jim thought of Melfina as a mother figure

"Maybe, but sometimes," Gene said as he looked towards the galley, "I think that Melfina would be happier if she went off on her own. I mean she has such amazing potential to be anything that she wants. Just off the top of my head, I can see her becoming a professional chef or maybe even an artist. You've seen her sketchbook Jim. You know how good she's gotten. And if she didn't want to be either of those things, than she could go to college and do whatever. Of course, there's also the issue of her love life. You can't have much of one when you're constantly running around the frontier whenever we feel the need to pull up anchor." Those last words hurt him to say more than he at first realized. Gene knew that his relationship with Melfina was over. However, there were times he wished that he could wrap his arms around her slender body and hold her against him. He remembered how she often fell asleep on his shoulder, saying how it made her feel as if she could dream. But she hadn't even done that since the breakup. When Jim didn't say anything, Gene looked up and saw how Jim's face had a horrified expression. He looked as though someone had ripped his heart out and stomped it into the deck.

"I don't believe what I'm hearing!" Jim yelled. "The Toku are after Melfina and you just want to abandon her!"

"What? Hell no!" Gene found himself on his feet, staring down at Jim. "I don't want to abandon her! I just…" he stopped as he searched for the right words. "I just don't want her to feel like she has no choice in what she does with her life."

"Did you ever think that maybe what Melfina wants is to stay with us?" Jim asked.

"I really wish I could believe that," Gene answered, a sober tone to his voice. They both stood silent for a while, neither one saying a thing. "Look," Gene said, "let's forget about the whole thing until after we figure out why the Toku are after Melfina. And then, I'll talk to her about it and see what she thinks."

"That's the first really smart thing I've heard you say in this whole conversation," Jim said

"Excuse me?" a genteel voice sounded. Gene and Jim both looked up and saw a pink maintenance robot, the size and shape of a soda can, hanging from the maintenance rail above their heads. "Melfina wishes me to inform you that lunch has been prepared."

"Thanks Gilliam," Gene said as he turned to Jim. "Come on. We'll both feel better after we have something to eat."

"I heard that," Jim said. He turned to leave as Gene reached into the dryer and pulled out one of his shirts. It was still damp but he put it on anyway. It would dry out in the air soon enough. He stepped out of the Laundromat and walked down the hallway toward the galley, catching up with Jim shortly after. "By the way," Jim suddenly said, "I finally found some information on our friend."

"Oh yeah?" Gene asked.

"Yeah and I think that we all should sit down and take a good hard look at it." Gene nodded, knowing that Jim must have found something really big if that was the case.

She had heard everything.

Standing against the wall, just aside from the hatchway, Melfina listened to Gene and Jim's conversation. She had gone down to the Laundromat to tell them that lunch was ready when she heard her name mentioned. Stopping in her tracks, Melfina listened as Gene went on as to how she would be happier if she left them all. What does he mean? she asked herself. Does he not want me around anymore? Am I nothing but a burden to him now? She leaned against the wall and felt tears well up in her eyes. Melfina knew that she wasn't Gene's girlfriend anymore. She had to remind herself that on almost a daily basis. Still, did that mean that they couldn't at least be friends? Wasn't that enough of a reason to stay with him?

"Melfina dear," a voice asked, "is there something wrong?" Melfina looked up to see one of Gillium's maintenance robots hanging above her head. It was the pink one that Jim took with them whenever they docked at a port. She quickly wiped the tears out of her eyes with her sleeve before looking up to him.

"No Gillium," Melfina answered. "I'm okay."

"You know that I don't believe you," Gillium said. "You should also know that it's useless to lie to me." Melfina broke her gaze away from Gillium. The Outlaw Star's computer was almost as sentient as she was. And with his sensors, he could always tell whether someone was lying or not. "Does this have something to do with what Gene and Jim are discussing?" he asked. Melfina blinked in surprise and looked back up to the robot.

"You heard them?" she asked.

"Of course," Gillium replied. "My eyes and ears are all over this ship you know." Melfina just stared at her feet, not looking up to meet Gillium's gaze again.

"Gillium, could you please go tell Gene and Jim that lunch is ready?" She couldn't go into the Laundromat. She needed a few seconds to gather herself together before she could face Gene. She didn't want him to suspect that she had been eavesdropping on him.

"I'd be glad to," Gillium answered. Melfina looked up to him and smiled at the pink robot.

"Thank you." As she walked back to the galley, Melfina's mind drifted back to the end of their quest for the Leyline. She remembered when Gene told her that he wanted her to be with him forever; touching her lips as she recalled the emotional bliss she felt when he kissed her for the first time. She had wanted to be with Gene forever as well, but she herself had broken off their relationship. Did she still have the right to be with him after what she did? Did Gene still even want her around? Melfina shook her head and her raven tresses danced over her face. I'll just have to live with the consequences of the choice that I've made, she thought. After all, it's not like I really could have stayed with Gene anyway.

"Come on Suzu," Aisha begged. "Just let me have a little taste?"

"No!" Suzuka answered. "Melfina wanted us to wait for Gene and Jim. And stop calling me Suzu!" Turning her attention back to the teakettle on the back burner, Suzuka saw a fork reach for the wok that held the simmering bell peppers and beef stir-fry out of the corner of her eye. But as fast as Aisha was, Suzuka was faster. With a quick flick of the stirring spoon Suzuka smacked Aisha's paw before it could reach its targer.

"Owww!" Aisha screeched as she rubbed her paw. "That hurt Suzu!"

"It serves you right for trying to steal a bite before everyone else."

"Can't I leave you two alone for five seconds without you two getting into an argument?" an exasperated voice asked behind them. Aisha and Suzuka both turned to see Melfina standing in the hatchway.

"But Suzu started it!" Aisha whined. Suzuka just rolled her eyes in frustration. "Where are Gene and Jim Mel?" Aisha asked.

"Um. I couldn't find them so I asked Gillium to go and tell them."

"What!" Aisha whined. "You mean I have to wait some more?"

"They'll be here shortly," Melfina reassured her. She then walked over to the stove to check on the progress of the stir-fry. As Suzuka watched Melfina, she noticed a few telltale signs most people would have missed that indicated that Melfina had been crying.

"Melfina, is something wrong?" Suzuka asked. Melfina jumped slightly and looked at Suzuka with a startled glance.

"Of course not," Melfina answered a little too quickly. "Why would there be?" As Melfina turned her attention back to her cooking, Suzuka knew that Melfina was lying. Had Gene said something to upset her? Suzuka made a note to ask him later.

"Hey everyone," Gene said as he and Jim entered the galley. Gene sniffed the air and grinned. "Melfina, that smells great."

"Oh, thank you Gene," Melfina said. She usually turned to smile at him whenever he complimented her cooking. But this time, Suzuka noticed that Melfina kept her face away from him. It was the usual repertoire between the two of them these days. She remembered how Gene began to push her away after he found out why she was created, ashamed to tell her of what he had learned. Melfina seemed to be acting the same way. As they all sat down, Melfina served them all, heaping a particularly large sample on Aisha's plate, before sitting down beside Suzuka. Suzuka noticed that Melfina had chosen the seat that was furthest from Gene.

"Now then," Gene said as he ate. "I wish that this could be a peaceful meal, but we all need to talk." Suzuka saw Melfina's shoulders tense as Gene spoke. Could what Gene wants to talk about have something to do with what has made Melfina so upset? Suzuka asked to herself. "First of all," Gene continued, "Jim has found out something about our friend we met on Heifong."

The man in black? Suzuka's interest was peaked and she promptly sat to attention. Melfina, meanwhile, relaxed her shoulders and began to pay attention as well.

"What do you mean 'our friend'?" Aisha asked through a mouthful of food. "That guy sucker punched me!"

"Yeah I know," Gene said as he grinned. "That's why he's our friend." Aisha just turned her nose up at his comment and sulked.

"Jim," Gene said as he turned to his left, "bring up what you found."

"Right," Jim said as he reached into his pocket. He brought out two mini-disks and held them up. "Gillium, insert these into the galley monitor would you?"

"Of course Jim," Gillium answered as a maintenance robot, one of the standard blue ones, lowered down to take the disks from Jim's hands. The robot traveled along the galley maintenance rail toward the monitor and inserted the two disks.

"The first disk concerns a message that was supposed to arrive four days ago but was delayed due to all those ether storms over by Heifong 7," Jim said to them. "Gillium, play back disk A."

"Right away," Gillium replied. The screen activated and flashed blue before the contents of the disk downloaded into the system. An image appeared of a balding, paunchy man with a mustache and wearing an apron. By his side stood a girl with brown-blonde hair and wearing a tight fitting and revealing waitress uniform. They were standing in what looked like a small and dingy bar. Suzuka recognized the two as Gene's friends from Sentinel 3, Clyde and Iris.

"Gene, Jim, how are you guys?" Iris said. Suzuka cringed at the sound of her voice. She had never liked Iris. Her voice had a high tone that Suzuka found extremely irritating. The fact that Iris was a total bimbo didn't raise Suzuka's opinion of her either. Suzuka simply had no respect for a woman who allowed herself to be groped by her customers in hopes of getting a bigger tip.

"We hope that you two have been doing well," Clyde said. "And we're glad to hear that you boys have finally gotten yourselves out of debt. I really wish that this could be a social call, but I've got some information that I think you two should hear."

"This guy dressed all in black came into the bar a couple of days ago," Iris said. "We don't know who he was; we had never even seen him before. But anyway, he came in, ordered a beer, and started asking all these questions about you Gene. He wanted to know where you were and what you were doing."

"It was just then," Clyde interrupted, "that a group of six guys in the bar's back noticed him. One of them screamed something about the guy killing his brother and then they all rushed him. He looked at the six people attacking him as if they were nothing but an annoyance. And then, he moved. I really can't describe it. It all happened to fast. All I can say is that in less than a minute, the guys who attacked him were down and my bar had been completely wrecked. It took me almost two days to get it all cleaned up."

"The guy then turned to leave," Iris said. "Clyde tried to stop him and then demanded that he pay for all the damage he did to the bar. The guy just glared at him and said something about how Clyde should use the money he saved by serving the watered down beer in his tap. He then walked out the door and that was the last we saw of him."

"However," Clyde said, " we heard a rumor about two days later that the guy had captured some Rorgan mercenary name Drom Su'lack over in Hugo. Not only that, Su'lack told him where to find you. You better watch your back Gene. I don't know if that guy was working for the pirates, but he's no one to be taken lightly."

"In other news," Iris said as she kneeled over, revealing even more of her cleavage, "I hear you're available now Gene. Why don't you come visit and we'll have some fun like we did back in the good old days."

"You guys take care now," Clyde said as the message ended and the screen returned to blue. Suzuka looked over to Gene. He had his face buried in his hands and he was blushing furiously. She then looked over to Melfina and saw how the bio-android girl looked like she was going to cry again. Is that the reason for her behavior? Suzuka asked herself.

"Does any of this sound familiar?" Jim asked.

"Hell yeah it does!" Aisha said. "I knew that guy was nothing but a total animal!"

"Isn't there some old saying about the pot calling the kettle black?" Gene asked loud enough for everyone to hear.

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING AN ANIMAL?" Aisha screamed as she slammed her fists on the metal table.

"Ahem!" Jim said in frustration. They all returned their attention towards him. "The second disk concerns the identity of our friend," he said. "Gillium, play back disk B." The screen once again switched from blue to an image of two people. The first person was an enormous blue-scaled Saurion wearing a green military uniform. The reptile man's huge and powerful body dominated most of the screen. Beside him, a tall and beautiful human woman with slender features and exotic blond hair stood. They all recognized the two as their contacts in the Angel Links Security Force, Duuz Delax Rex and his partner Valeria.

"Gene, Jim," Valeria said. "It's good to hear from you again. I'd like to once again thank you for helping Angel Links track down that pirate base in the Heifong system. Thanks to you, Duuz and I can now return to our company's headquarters on Oracion."

"I hate to say it," Duuz said, "but for a bunch of degenerate mammal punks, you people did pretty good. Our company's C.E.O., Ms. Li Meiphon, also sends her thanks on a job well done."

"Not only that," Valeria added, "but Ms. Meiphon asked me to tell you all that if you ever got tired of the outlaw lifestyle, she has a position for you all at Angel Links that she thinks you would be perfect for."

"How about that?" Duuz said as he flashed a toothy grin. "You space bums get a chance to do some honest work for a change."

"Same old Duuz," Gene said. "Always giving outlaws a hard time."

"Anyway," Valeria said, "I received your message Jim. I took the description of this man that you sent to me and sent it on to our investigation department at the Angel Link's central base. We received an answer from them at about thirteen-hundred hours Heifong standard time." Valeria suddenly paused as a serious look came over her face. "Gene, if you're after this guy, then I suggest that you forget about him."

"I agree," Duuz said. "This guy is no one to mess with. Especially for some kid who hasn't been in space a full year yet." Suzuka watched as Gene tensed his jaw. Well that settles it, Suzuka thought. We're definitely going after him now.

"Duuz is right," Valeria said. "I'm including the man's profile with this message. I sincerely hope that you take our advice Gene and stay away from him. This man is dangerous." As soon as Valeria was finished, the image switched from her and Duuz to that of the man in black. Under his picture, a data file began printing out. Gilliam read out the words as they appeared:

SUBJECT'S NAME: MAZREN (NO KNOWN LAST NAME)

ALLIAS: MAZREN THE WOLF

HEIGHT: 6' 3

WEIGHT: APPROXIMATELY 250 LBS

BUILD: MUSCULAR, ATHLETIC

DATE OF BIRTH: UNKNOWN, PRESUMED TO BE EARLY TO MID-TWENTIES

HAIR: BLACK

EYES: DARK GREEN

DISTINGUISHING FEATURE (S): PROMINENT SCAR ON RIGHT SIDE OF FACE

SPACE SHIP: GRAPPLER-CLASS CRUISER "THE WARSHARK"

CRIMINAL RECORD: 34 COUNTS OF PHYSICAL ASSAULT

19 COUNTS OF ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON

21 COUNTS OF DESTRUCTION OF PRIVATE AND PUBLIC PROPERTY

WANTED FOR QUESTIONING IN THE KILLING OF THE LEADING CIRCLE OF THE

TERRAN SUPREMECIST GROUP, THE EARTH WARRIORS

ADDITIONAL NOTES: TRAVELS WITH AN ATTACK TRAINED TYBALTIAN ROCK WOLF

APPEARS TO BE TRAINED EXTENSIVELY IN COMBAT AND MARTIAL ARTS

KNOWN TO BE HIGHLY AGGRESSIVE

SHOULD BE CONSIDERED ARMED AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS

Suzuka was struck speechless. Was that man in black who helped them actually him?

"Hey Suzu, you still there?" Aisha asked as she waved her hand in front of Suzuka's face.

"Yes of course," Suzuka answered. "It's just that I think I know who he is."

"Oh yeah?" Gene asked. "So what do you know?"

"Well," Suzuka said, "over the last three years, I've heard rumors that tell of a bounty hunter who prowls the Ban territories. They call him The Wolf because of his highly aggressive fighting style, ruthless determination in tracking down his quarries, and his coldly efficient cunning in battle."

"What else have you heard about him?" Gene asked.

"Not much. Only that he seems to possess inhuman strength. Witnesses who have seen him in action say that he has punched through stone walls, leaped distances of over twenty feet, and even survived gunshot wounds at point blank range."

"Well that doesn't mean anything," Jim said. "He's probably had extensive cybernetic enhancements done to him."

"Say Suzu," Aisha interrupted. "You seem to know a lot about this Mazren the Wolf. Maybe that's why you acted the way you did around him."

"Just what are insinuating now Aisha?" Suzuka asked.

"Well, we pretty much all saw how you blushed when he talked to you."

"I, I don't know what you're talking about!" Suzuka quickly replied.

"Hey look everyone," Aisha said as she pointed at Suzuka. "Suzu's blushing again."

"I am not!" Suzuka yelled, even though she could feel her face getting warmer.

"Honestly Suzu," Aisha sighed, "I thought you had better taste in men than that." Suzuka then began to seriously consider whether or not to test some new techniques she was developing on Aisha.

"Alright now everybody settle down," Gene said. "At least we now know what we're dealing with in regards to that guy. He said that he might contact us again, so let's wait until then. Melfina?"

"Yes Gene," Melfina said as she turned her head.

"I still don't know what that guy meant by 'assumptions about you,' but I promise I will if I ever see him again."

"I see. Thank you Gene." The rest of the meal went without incident. Afterwards, Melfina gathered up the dishes and took them to the sink. Gene offered to help her, but Melfina told him not to worry. She told him to go finish his laundry and to leave the dishes to her. Gene agreed and left, although, Suzuka swore she could have seen a look of disappointment on his face. It was then that Suzuka decided to get to the bottom of what was happening between them.

Walking down the hallway, Suzuka eventually came to the ship's Laundromat. Looking in, she saw Gene taking his shirts out of the dryer and folding them.

"Gene?" she asked.

"What's up Suzuka?"

"Haven't you noticed that Melfina was acting a little distant to you at lunch today?"

"Haven't you noticed," he said without turning around, "that she's been acting distant to me all the time lately? Besides, she and I aren't an item anymore. We don't have to be constantly hugging you know."

"Maybe," she answered. "But I'd still like to know what you said to her today to make her feel so upset."

"What are talking about?" he asked as he turned to meet her glance. "I haven't spoken to her since breakfast."

"Well you had to have said something to upset her," Suzuka told him. "After she went to look for you and Jim to tell you that lunch was ready, she looked like she wanted to cry." Upon hearing what she said, Gene's eyes suddenly widened.

"She came looking for me?"

"Yes," Suzuka said. Gene turned away from her and pounded his fist into the top of the dryer.

"Shit!" he muttered. Suzuka suddenly began to get concerned.

"Gene?" she asked. "What's wrong?" Gene then proceeded to tell her everything that he had talked about with Jim.

"Well no wonder she was upset!" Suzuka exclaimed. "She overheard you and probably thought that you didn't want her around anymore."

"That's not it at all!" Gene shouted.

"Then what is it?" she asked him. Gene didn't answer. He just stood there, his hands resting against the top of the dryer. "Does this have anything to do with what happened with Haykon?" Suzuka knew she had hit the nail on the head when Gene's shoulders began to shake with anger.

"Melfina could have been raped, or even worse by that guy. And I played right into his hands. It was just like Harry Mcdougal all over again. If I can't protect Melfina than I have no right to keep her with me." Suzuka continued to stare at Gene. It was pretty obvious to anyone who heard him talk that he was still in love with Melfina. She just didn't understand why he couldn't just tell her. Was he too proud to admit it? "Besides," he added, "it's not like we're completely dependant on her. We could manage without her. She needs to live her own life." Suzuka was left speechless by his comment. It's a very good thing Melfina didn't hear that, Suzuka thought. Gene had gone back to folding his shirts and Suzuka decided to leave him be. She turned around and walked towards the lift that led down to the Outlaw Star's lower decks. When she got frustrated, working on her katas in the cargo bay was always a good way to relieve some tension.

Mazren had tried everything that he could think of and he still couldn't relax.

He first tried working out in the Warshark's dojo. But even after four straight hours of intense training, he still felt tense. He then tried meditation but he found that his mind wouldn't focus. After that, he tried a cold beer. He even tried watching television. He finally just gave up and flopped onto the bed in his quarters. But try as he might, Mazren just couldn't get settled enough to fall asleep.

"You're upset aren't you?" a throaty feminine voice asked. Mazren looked up to the spherical projectile hanging from the ceiling.

"That obvious huh?"

"I can tell by the increased flow of adrenaline through your bloodstream," Diana said. He usually wouldn't admit that something was bothering him, but Mazren knew that lying to Diana was pointless. "I'm not sure I understand. We ran the test on Ms. Melfina's blood sample three times and the results were always the same." Mazren nodded, no matter how many times he ran the test, the results were always the same. Now he wished that he hadn't used the fist of breath stealing on that Ctarl friend of hers. Well, regardless of that, one thing was for certain. And that being there was no way he could abandon her to the Toku now. Not after he finally knew the truth about himself and Melfina. "I thought that you would be happy," Diana continued. "After all, the DNA is a match. Isn't that what you wanted?" Mazren thought about that for a while. What was it that he was feeling now? Shock, disbelief, maybe a little excitement, but there was one thing that he felt above all others.

"Diana, I'm afraid," he told her.

"Of what?" she asked. "It seems like an easy matter to me. Just call her and tell her."

"If it was that simple," he said, "then I wouldn't be afraid to tell her would I? Look Diana, no offense, but you don't really have a firm grasp on the subject of human emotions."

"I suppose your right," Diana sighed. "The only real understanding I have is that your head is even harder and thicker than the Warshark's hull." Mazren couldn't help but laugh at that. Most owners wouldn't have taken a crack like that from their ship's computer. But then, he always valued people who spoke what they really felt.

"What about the Outlaw Star?" he asked as he changed the subject. "What's the status on Starwind?"

"According to the tracer built by Professor Khan," Diana answered, "their speed has increased dramatically. It looks like they have just jumped to sub-ether space."

"Melfina must be in her navigation chamber. How long until we can jump to sub-ether mode ourselves?"

"I knew you would ask that," Diana replied, "so I took the liberty of preparing the Munchousen Drive. We can jump to sub-ether in about five minutes. You try to get some rest Mazren. I'll handle all navigation for the time being. We should arrive at Asteroid Blue Heaven in about three hours." Mazren nodded and sat back up. Getting off his bed, he walked towards the galley, stepping over Slag as he slept on the deck. Maybe another beer would help him relax. He also hoped that it would give him the courage to confront Melfina and tell her what she desperately needed to know.

(As Gene and the others continue on their way to Blue Heaven, Mazren is fast behind them. How does he know about Gwen Khan's tracer? What does he wish to confront Melfina about? And then there are the Mcdougal brothers. What devious scheme do they have up theirsleeves this time? Stay tuned for our next exciting episode. Same outlaw-time, same outlaw website. Don't forget to review.)

Chapter 3
Chapter 5

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