I don't own these characters or profit from them.


Bargaining chips
By, Clayton Overstreet

In our last episode Gene and the others finally arrived at the resort. After spending a day on the beach, where Nita beat Harry till he spit up blood, they headed to check into the hotel.

Gene took the room keys from the clerk and gave one to Aisha and Jim, one to Suzuka and Nita, and kept the last for himself. They were about to go unpack when a voice called out behind them.
"Well if it isn't Gene Starwind and company."
Gene sighed and shook his head. "Fred, what are you doing here?" Turning he saw Fred Loa (I never remember if that is the right spelling) standing behind him in a tux. "And what's with the get up?"
"I'm getting ready for my wedding." He said. "Raiko won the competition again this year."
Aisha raised an eyebrow. "I thought you were gay."
Fred laughed and glanced at his bodyguards. "That was mostly an act... though I did experiment one time. After she got hurt and broke my hand we spent some time in the hospital together and I realized she wasn't that bad."
Suzuka smiled slightly. "I notice you have some new guards."
"Actually these are Raiko's. She insisted after finding out that I hired you last year." He reached into his pocket and took out a picture. "I still have this snap shot of Gene in his costume."
Nita leaned over. "What costume?" Gene grabbed the picture away and put it behind his back. "Hey!"
"Nothing you need to see."
Jim grabbed it away and handed it to Nita. It showed Gene standing next to Aisha in a red costume. He was dressed in a wig, makeup, a pink dress, and fake breasts. Nita looked up at her dad, then down at the picture again. Finally she and everyone else burst out laughing. Gene stood there looking unammused.
Fred took the picture back and said, "Actually Gene as long as you're here I do need a best man, an usher, and some brides maids. Raiko and I didn't have time to find any on our own."
Aisha snickered, "I can just see Gene in a bride's maid dress." All of the others let out a collective snort.
Melfina looked at Fred. "But we didn't bring a gift and at our wedding you paid for the honeymoon."
He shook his head. "It's no problem. After the money Gene made me on that dragonite deal I'm willing to call it even." He glanced at Aisha who was still wearing the same thing she had on the beach... nothing. "Though you will need to dress for the part. Why don't you put your things away and I'll have my tailor see to getting you dressed?"
Gene looked at the others and shrugged. "Sure, sounds like fun."

After the wedding Raiko cut the cake and tossed the bouquet. Aisha caught it, much to Jim's surprise. Suzuka sat at a table smiling to herself. She'd had a quick affair with the tailor just before the wedding. The girls all wore matching blue dresses while Gene, Jim, and the Gilliam drone they found in their luggage all had on tuxes.
"I feel like a penguin in this thing." Gene muttered.
Fred smiled at him. "I could have the tailor make you a dress."
Raiko stepped up behind Fred, towering over him. Despite the bulging muscles, she was quite pretty. She smiled down at Gene curiously. "Thank you for being the best man. I don't know why, but I seem to know you from somewhere. Maybe it's because Fred speaks so highly of you."
He smiled at her. "We've met before, last year at the strongest woman contest.
She smiled and wrapped her arms around Fred, who looked nervous. It was obvious that Raiko was putting forth a lot of effort to control her strength. "Oh yes, I remember now. Miss Jenny right?"
Aisha walked over from the side, drawing their attention. "It's just too bad I never got to fight you. But you'll be glad to know that I beat that werewolf pirate that fought you." She flexed her muscles slightly, ripping the arm of her dress.
Raiko looked her over carefully. "Well I've retired from fighting. I want to see what it's like being Fred's wife and I don't want to hurt him."
Fred gasped slightly as she hugged him to her chest. "Uh... Raiko, I can't breathe."

Gene and Jim sat in the back watching as Fred and Raiko opened their gifts. The girls were watching them enviously.
"I don't get girls and weddings. Why do they make such a big deal about it?" Jim asked.
Gene shrugged and took a swig of wine. "Beats me. I never really understood why they make such a big deal. I preferred the wedding night myself."
Jim shook his head. "Is that the only thing on your mind?"
"Hey, Melfina enjoy it too." He smirked down at his partner. "Besides, I saw you drooling at Aisha when we were on the beach. Little Jimmy discovers girls at last."
Jim frowned, but shrugged. "So? You can't really blame me can you?"
Gene rubbed Jim's hair, then looked back at Melfina. He remembered how she had looked in her wedding dress. "It's nice to have a quiet moment every now and then."
Jim punched him in the arm. "Don't say that out loud!"
Gene frowned and rubbed his arm. "Ow! Why not?"
Just then Fred opened the last present and it exploded. Gas filled the room quickly and everyone began coughing. Three heavily armed men rushed in and shot the bodyguards. One yelled out, "Nobody move!"
Gene stood up, but quickly toppled over as the gas took effect. The last thing he heard before everything went dark was Jim mumbling, "I told you so."

When he woke up Gene glanced around the room. The guests, Melfina, Fred, and the others were in the middle of the room, surrounded by over a dozen, armed men. Gene himself was tied to a chair off to the side. Looking around Gene saw that almost all of them wore the markings of the Tai pirates. "Oh crap."
Suddenly someone standing behind him grabbed his hair and pulled his head back. "Wakey wakey Tugboat."
Gene managed a smirk as he saw the familiar rat mask. "Hi Crackerjack. What happened? Did I miss the Mickey Mouse club reunion?"
Crackerjack let go of his head. "Oh very funny. You know I was just going to hold Loa and his blushing bride for ransom, but now that I think about it, killing you and your friends might just drive the point home."
"No!" Melfina and Nita yelled at the same time. They both moved towards Crackerjack, but found themselves being held in place by two of the pirates.
Gene gritted his teeth, catching Aisha and Suzuka's eyes as they prepared to attack. He shook his head and they relaxed a bit. "Let them go Crackerjack."
Crackerjack looked at Gene, then nodded to the pirates. They picked both girls up and set them with the others.
Fred stood up and straightened his clothes. "Excuse me, but if you are interested in money we may be able to make a deal."
Crackerjack stepped away from Gene and walked over to Fred. "We have already contacted your father. He has agreed to pay us more money than you have if we return you and your blushing bride in one piece." He punched Fred in the gut and pushed him back onto the floor.
Raiko jumped up and went for him. Two of the pirates stepped forward to stop her, but she threw them aside easily. Crackerjack jumped back and the rest of the pirates jumped forward, holding her in place.
Gene flicked his wrist and a tiny blade snapped out, cutting the ropes. "Now! Grab Fred and follow me." He jumped out of the chair at the same time Aisha and Suzuka moved. They followed Gene as he ran up the stairs. The pirates were still holding Raiko back, but the gas was beginning to take effect. Gene jumped out one of the windows, smashing the glass. The others followed him, hitting the ground and running.
Suzuka glanced at Fred. "How did she do that to Tai pirates?"
"She studied under them and attained their highest level. How else would she be the strongest in the universe?"
Gene shook his head. "You sure know how to pick 'em Fred."
"What do we do now? We can't just leave Raiko and those others back there."
"We can't?" Aisha asked. Jim looked up at her and frowned. "I mean... of course we can't."
Jim smirked at her. "You aren't afraid of a few pirates are you Aisha?"
She looked back and saw three of the pirates running after them. She gulped and said, "Of course not. But if we hurt them they might hurt the hostages."
Nita looked at Gene. "Hey dad, I have an idea." She turned and the others followed her.
"Uh, excuse me but we seem to be running back to the hotel." Fred said.
Suzuka frowned at him. "Your grasp of the obvious is astounding."

"Can you explain why we're back in the middle of the bloodthirsty pirates?" Fred whispered. They were all in a room on the second story, just above the hostages. Suzuka had used her sword to make a peephole.
Nita grinned. "Because we would have to be insane to be here."
"So what do we do now?" Jim asked. "I mean Aisha might be able to take them one at a time, but not all at once." Aisha tried to look insulted, but Jim had only spoken the truth.
Melfina looked down at the hostages worriedly. "I hope Raiko is all right."
Nita looked down as well. "You see how they keep looking at their watches? I remember you telling me that they can't hold a grudge more than forty-eight hours right?" Gene nodded. "Well I was thinking that the same might be true for their jobs. So if we could stop Crackerjack from calling Fred's father..."
"They'll run out of time and he'll be helpless." Suzuka finished.
Aisha scratched her head. "But what if there is no time limit?" They all sat there quietly. "Oh..."
"Look, maybe we should just give up and pay him. Or at least me." Fred said. "If we mess with them someone could get hurt."
Gene shook his head. "No, Nita is right. We've run across this guy before and he has no problem killing innocent people. He's probably planning to get rid of them as soon as he gets the money."
"So what do we do?" Melfina asked.
"Jim, do you still have that jammer?" Jim nodded. "Good. Aisha can you try to get to the fusebox. On my signal we'll start."

Crackerjack screamed and banged his fists on the keyboard. The power had gone out along with his link to Loa Enterprises, just when the old man had picked up. What was worse was that he had spent the last of his money hiring the pirates and it he was almost out of time. In two hours they would turn around and walk out. He briefly considered trying to force them to stay, but it would be useless to even try.
"All right, they're somewhere in the building. I don't care if you have to tear this place apart, find them!"

Gene smiled and looked down at Jim. "So how is the link up to Crackerjack's computer going?"
"I'd have an easier time if I had Gilliam to help, but since I don't..." The computer beeped. "It took me a second."
Aisha rubbed his head. "Way to go Jim. So now what?"
He smiled at her and said, "Well from what I see here, we have a little over ten minutes before the pirates go home." Suddenly he frowned. "Unfortunately Crackerjack has them on the way here. He's traced the link and knows right where we are!"
Suddenly a fist punched through the wall Nita was leaning against and grabbed her throat. As she choked more pirates broke in and surrounded them. "Give up now or the girl dies."
Gene aimed his gun at the one holding Nita, but he squeezed her neck a bit more. Finally Gene sighed and threw down his weapon. The others didn't hesitate to follow his example. Slowly they followed after the pirates as they led them back to the lobby.
Crackerjack smiled. "Ah, I see we've finally caught up to you Tugboat. We tried to get Mrs. Loa to tell us where you'd gone, but she was... uncooperative."
One of the pirates tossed the battered and bruised bride onto the ground in front of them. It was hard to tell how badly she was hurt, but her left arm was definitely broken.
"Raiko!" Fred yelled and kneeled down next to her. Gene was surprised. Fred had never shown that much emotion towards her.
Raiko turned her head a bit and smiled at him, a bit of blood dripping down her lip. "Hi Fred. I'm sorry about the honeymoon, but I don't think I'm up to it." Without another word she passed out. Fred leaned over her, petting her hair and saying it would be okay.
Crackerjack smiled at Gene and said, "Maybe we can give your girls the same treatment."
"Try it!" Aisha growled at him. One of the pirates backhanded her, flinging her into the wall.
"You're going to pay for that you jerk!" Jim yelled.
Crackerjack just laughed. "How do you figure that? All I need to do is complete my call to Loa and then I'll be free to kill everyone. I don't even need to wait on killing you!" He glanced at Gene. "And what do you think is so funny Tugboat?"
Gene grinned. "Three, two, one..." Crackerjack's eyes widened as all the watches on the pirate's arms began to beep.
"What? No! I still have fifteen minutes!" He stared at his computer.
"Actually we set your clock back a bit because we know how you love to talk." Gene said.
The pirates tossed the weapons they had confiscated down and turned to walk out, ignoring Crackerjack's attempt to stop then. Suddenly he turned as someone tapped his shoulder. The next thing he saw was Fred's fist in his face.

TO BE CONTINUED...

It's me Gene. OK, that was a sad excuse for a story, but it's what happened. Next time it gets much more interesting. While net surfing Jim gets stuck in a program he hacked. We have to go in after him. Unfortunately it seems that the Ban pirates are the owners of this program and want to keep him. Read about it next time in the next fic 'Firewall'.

Author's note
I made a mistake using Crackerjack and I apologize. I promise no more old enemies! Please write me and tell me what you think of my other stories. Clayton_n@hotmail.com