Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Outlaw Star.
A groan came from behind the computer monitor as a young boy named Jim Hawking stared at the results of this month's income for his partnered business of Starwind and Hawking Enterprises.
"In the red again...man, even though everything is back to normal I wish something would go our way! After finding the Galactic Leyline and saving Melfina, you would think Gene would have more luck getting a simple job or two," he thought ruefully while taking a sip of fresh coffee. The slightly bitter taste and the comforting warmth made him feel better, that is until his "partner" walked through the door.
Gene Starwind. A tall, broad shouldered guy with freshly cut red hair on his head and old battle scars all over his body, staggered in with a defeated look on his face. He flopped down on the couch by Jim's desk and muttered a quick hello to his younger counterpart. Jim leaned over the couch and sent a glare, prompting a staring contest between the two until Gene finally broke down and asked dejectedly, "What do you want Jim?"
The dark blonde, blue-eyed tech genius took a deep breath and shouted, "GET US SOME WORK! WE ARE STILL WAY IN THE RED!"
Gene's eye twitched as he struggled to regain his hearing, "Yeah, yeah, I hear you Jim, but even if I say we have a ton of experience in our line of work, there just isn't that much out there at the moment!"
Jim crossed his arms in thought and gave the ominous line, "You know..."
"Oh great, here it comes."
"We should ask Fred for a loa-"
"No!" Gene shouted, "No, no, no! I am not doing any more begging to Fred! You remember when we had to do that crazy space race? The damn thing nearly got us killed going through it, just to get a loan!"
"You were the one that wanted to fly through the ether stream in the first place!"
Gene opened his mouth to say something but shut it as the door to the apartment on the second floor opened and a young black haired woman in a deep blue dress came out of her room. "Hiya Mel, G'morning!"
She smiled back, "Good morning Gene, Jim!"
Jim also gave a smile despite his foul mood, "Hey Melfina, sleep well?"
"Yes I did Jim, but I was woken up by some shouting down here so I thought you two could use some breakfast."
The sounds of pans and cupboards opening along with her gentle humming diffused the tense situation. Soon enough, the smell of eggs and bacon wafted through the air and Gene felt his mouth begin to water.
"Mmm, that smells as good as always Melfina!" Jim grinned as he looked at the large plate of food before him.
Melfina simply smiled at the boy's appetite and watched happily as he ate with gusto. She looked around and asked, "Where are Suzuka and Aisha at?"
"Aisha is probably out shopping or something and Suzuka? Well, who knows?" Gene shrugged as he shoved some food into his mouth noisily. After the food began to settle in their stomachs, Jim brought out a small data pad from his pocket and showed the financial situation to Gene again.
"See, Gene? We are seriously in debt again and we really need a job or something to get us out of it! Come on, we have to go see Fred, if not for a loan then maybe a small job!"
Gene scratched his head and frowned, "Alright fine, but if nothing good comes out of this we are selling you to Fred!" Jim shivered at the thought of being a…toy for the guy.
"Fine, it's a deal, but I know we will get something." Jim sighed, secretly hoping that he wouldn't regret his words.
Gene picked up his usual equipment: a pistol, his old caster gun, his light shield gloves and his trusty yellow cloak and left a message for the others saying that they would be back whenever.
The trio entered the large penthouse of Fred Luo, a wealthy weapons merchant and old friend of Gene's. He was an easy guy to get along with, although Gene would probably remark that Fred was a little too easy to get along with. The lavish quarters were filled with exquisite art from wall to wall, very expensive looking furniture, a couple of crystal chandeliers, and of course the man they were looking for, under the careful watch of his black suit bodyguards.
Fred waved lazily at Gene and his friends from a small leather couch as he took a sip from a glass full of deep red wine with the utmost satisfaction playing across his face. "Well well, look who came out of the chop shop, my good pals Gene and Jim, and of course the lovely Miss Melfina!" He gave a smile and held his glass out in a small cheer before taking another sip. "What brings you three to my humble abode? Here to pay off some of your debt I hope." The redhead winced inwardly, remembering the fortune he owed Fred for all of his previous loans.
"Well, uh, about that, you see Fred, we are kind of in the red right now so I was wondering if you had any work that we could to do to get our feet back on the ground and start paying you off as soon as the cash comes flowing in again?" Gene gave his best professional smile despite practically begging to be let off the hook yet again for the debts he owed. Fred swirled the wine slowly before smiling happily.
"Nope, sorry, nothing for you at the moment. At this rate Gene, you're never going to pay me back. Didn't you say you found that, oh what was it called, Galactic Leyline or something? Wasn't that supposed to be your 'Big Break'? Sorry, but until you pay back some of your debt, there is simply nothing I can do to help you!" The man finished chewing out Gene and worse, made it clear that no help was going to come their way any time soon.
Gene and Jim's mouths practically hit the floor in shock, "What do you mean you won't help us anymore? I thought we were friends!" Gene shouted while a calm Melfina looked onward. Jim also rebounded from his shock in order to attempt his least favorite ploy (against Fred anyway).
"Please Fred, we need money to get us out of this financial crisis we are in," Jim said with fake tears welling up in his eyes, "We need something to get us by for year, or if not that, then just a few months, please?" Gene considered following along, but thought better of lowering himself that much, he had some pride after all!
Fred let out a small sigh, "Fine, fine. How you always manage to catch me on a good day I'll never know." He placed his glass on the small marble table next to the couch and gave a small smile. "I just happened to meet an old acquaintance of mine a few weeks ago and we began dealing business quite well. I don't have any work for you but I am thinking that she just might have something right up your alley." He signed a quick note and handed it to a bodyguard who silently gave it to Gene and moved immediately back into his position.
Gene squinted his eyes while attempting to read the man's intricate cursive, "Tsu-na-de? Tsunade? I've never heard of her." His comment drew a collective sigh from both Jim and Fred.
"Don't you get it Gene? She just started back in business, you think we would have heard about her so soon?" The boy gave a small shake of his head in disappointment at his older counterpart. "Sometimes I feel a bit worried about you Gene. Where would you even be without me?" Melfina finally spoke for the first time, surprising all of the men.
"Um, but if she has just come into the business, how do we know she isn't a crook?" She asked in her sweet and innocent tone. Gene only smiled before answering.
"Well Mel, if someone as big in the industry as Fred trusts her, then I am fine with it." He spoke with a light confidence towards her, easing her worries. Fred put down his glass and rushed to hug a now regretful Gene.
"Oh Gene, I can't stay mad at you! You are indeed my great friend!" He exclaimed with tears in his eyes. Gene forced back a scowl and tried to make the best of the situation.
"So, if that's true, can we get some more help from you then?" Fred's cries of happiness immediately stopped as he looked up at the redhead.
Gene shoved the man away as hard as he could and turned on his heels to walk out the door. Fred smiled as the trio walked out the door, "They are really fun to be around."
After driving around the city to find the address of Fred's acquaintance, they entered a large building that seemed bleak on the outside, yet the inside was furnished modestly well, considering the business was just starting out. There were five floors total with several elevators seen moving up and down in an unseen rhythm, people were moving from floor to floor, getting what they needed for whatever client they were working for. Gene walked up to the receptionist desk with Jim and Melfina cautiously in tow. The woman behind the desk looked up from her paperwork as she straightened her posture. She was a thin, slightly athletic woman that had short black hair and had a simple look that still caught the eye. She gave a smile that oozed professionalism but was still friendly to all.
"Greetings and welcome to Konoha Industries, how may I help you?" Gene looked at her nameplate facing outward on her desk. A small holographic text was displaying the name "Shizune." Once again putting on a professional smile as best he could, he spoke up,
"Ah hi there Shizune, we're friends of Fred Luo, and he said we might be able to get a meeting with Tsunade."
Hearing both names immediately put her at her best attention, "Oh! Uh, yes sir, mister..?"
"Starwind, Gene Starwind," the redheaded man grinned while motioning to the others, "And these are my friends Jim Hawking and Melfina." Shizune gave a quick smile in affirmation to them, and pointed towards a large leather couch.
"Please wait while I contact Tsunade, it should only be a moment." She calmly picked up her phone and dialed a few digits, whispering in the receiver end. Jim saw a small dressed up pig walk by and pointed it out to Melfina.
"Hey Melfina, look! That little pig is wearing clothes!" He let out a chuckle at the strange sight. Melfina smiled and went over to pet the pig, but it quickly saw her and hid inside Shizune's desk in a panic.
"Ah, sorry about that, Tonton is my pet pig. She is usually very shy, but she's quite friendly once you get to know her." The raven haired woman gave a warm hug to the tiny pig and put it back down on the floor. "Tsunade will see you up on the 5th floor Mr. Starwind. Just take the elevator and go straight down the hall, you can't miss it."
Gene stretched as best he could on the couch and got up, "Thanks, and no need to call me 'Mr. Starwind,' just plain Gene will do." Jim sighed at the man. Apparently he couldn't help flirting with other women despite the fact that his girlfriend was standing right next to him! The blond gave a quick stomp on his foot in annoyance since Melfina was busy watching Tonton.
"Jeez Gene, tone it down a bit will ya?" Jim said.
"Sorry Jim, old habits die hard!" He grinned.
They walked through the building, Jim noticed the sun was starting to set as the golden yellow rays began to filter through the sunroofs and display the Konoha symbol onto the lobby floor. "Konoha huh? That sounds a bit familiar, but where have I heard it before?" He gave a mental shrug and followed Gene and Melfina into the awaiting elevator. The doors soon opened to a large hallway illuminated by small covered lamps before each door's entrance. The final set of doors near the end were very ornate cherry red wood, with the company logo yet again showing up as a perfect carving on the door.
"This must be the place." Gene muttered. Jim held a quip back and looked at Gene.
"Gene, make sure you are on your best behavior. No womanizing, no cussing, no guns. ONLY business. Got it?" Jim stood adamantly in front of the door, blocking the path to make sure his partner fully understood that he didn't want to mess up any more business opportunities before they even got to talks.
Gene shrugged, "Yeah, yeah, I know Jim," he turned to Melfina, "Hey Mel, would you mind watching him here while I get us some work?" Melfina gave her cheerful smile.
"Sure Gene, make sure to do your best. If you do, I'll make your favorite dinner tonight in celebration!" She sat on the small padded bench next to the door and pat the spot next to her, "Come on Jim."
Jim inwardly groaned at still being treated like a child, but couldn't help but feel a little happy to spend some time with Melfina. He walked over to the bench while still giving Gene a somewhat serious glare and finally sat down. Gene returned the glare even though he knew that Jim was technically right on all counts about his behavior. He just didn't like to admit it. Gene rapped on the large door and they opened inward to let him in and as soon as he was inside, they closed once again.
The office was far less extravagant compared to Fred Luo's place, but considering that the woman probably didn't live here, it was still pretty nice. A large oak desk was in the far back of the room, and sitting behind it was one of the most gorgeous women that Gene had ever seen. Her light blond hair was tied into a gentle ponytail and framed her face perfectly. She had a light green gem on the center of her forehead which accented her light colored skin, thin eyebrows that floated over her incredible honey brown eyes and her perfect lips practically glistened as he looked at her. Her light jacket seemed to hug her every curve just right, and Gene felt he would be lying if he didn't think that she had the largest pair of "assets" that he had ever seen.
"-wind? Mr. Starwind?" A voice shook him out of his daze. "Mr. Starwind, are we going to talk or are you just going to stare all day?" He finally remembered the reason he was there and shook his head lightly to clear his thoughts.
"Sorry about that, Ms. Tsunade. My name is Gene Starwind of Starwind and Hawking Enterprises, and I am a good friend of Fred Luo's. He told me I should come here since there is a job you might have for me?" He walked forward, noticing that the carpet was as plush as it gets, and sat down in a very comfortable leather chair that seemed to mold to his shape.
The blond woman waited until he was seated to continue, "Ah yes, Fred's friend. Yes, he told me all about you," she said with a slight twinkle of mischief in her voice, "Don't worry, it's nothing bad, he has nothing but high praise for you and your crew, even telling me that you saved his life from the infamous 'Twilight' Suzuka." She leaned back in her chair and gave a small chuckle, "Though he does not hold back on mentioning your ability to hold a long debt Mr. Starwind."
Gene inwardly winced again and made a mental note to force Fred to reconsider what he tells other business partners, "Ah, yeah, we had a big operation going on at the time and needed a lot of money for financing it so it just kind of built up on us. Oh and call me Gene by the way." He gave a smile, hoping to score a few points for being friendly.
"Alright then Gene, aside from your debt problem with Fred, you seem very qualified for the job I had in mind. Do you-" The lights suddenly shut off and a loud click was heard as the lights came back on, revealing Gene with his hand floating just above Tsunade's bosom and staring down the multiple barrels of a large gatling gun. "You squeeze, I squeeze, Gene," she whispered deadly quiet as she stared at him with extremely cold eyes.
A nervous chuckle softly emit from his mouth as Gene raised his hands up and slowly backtracked to his chair. The woman's enormous gatling gun following his every movement. "What the hell? Where did that come from? And how the hell is she able to hold the damn thing with one hand?!" He thought as a bead of sweat trickled down his face.
After what was an eternity, Tsunade finally dropped the gun with a loud thud onto the floor and rubbed her temples with her fingers while closing her eyes in a grimace. "Damn it, another fucking power outage? Why must Naruto continue to work on that blasted cannon of his?"
Gene struggled to regain his composure and sat up, listening intently, "Naruto? Who is that?"
"Naruto is my surrogate little brother. He's always in his workshop, testing out random things to see how far he can get with them. His latest ambition is create a working, spaceship-sized caster, but the only thing he ever accomplishes is these damn power outages or worse, explosions that could probably destroy a whole city block." She fought back the urge to throw something very hard, and forced herself to return to business. "Well, lucky for you Gene, he is the one that I was going to tell you about."
Gene sat forward in his seat, waiting for her to continue. "Your job is to protect Naruto."
"A bodyguard deal? Is that it? That's not too hard for me to handle." Gene said smugly.
Tsunade continued while ignoring his comment, "He is currently being pursued by the Kei pirates, being that he is one of the only known living Castersmiths in existence today."
Gene held up his hand, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on a minute. You're saying that this guy is a Castersmith? A real Castersmith?" She nodded. "Why the hell haven't I heard of him until now?"
She sighed and stared back at the man, "Because if he went around saying he was a Castersmith, then he would obviously be hunted by so many people besides the Kei pirates that he would be either driven insane or be pressured into creating something that would most likely start intergalactic wars."
"Good point. So do I have to take him anywhere specific?" Gene said.
"Finally getting to business," Tsunade smirked, she handed him a small envelope, "I need you to take Naruto to Heifong III and meet with my informant, Jiraiya. He will tell you more about his situation."
"Jiraiya, got it. Keep the guy safe from harm's way and meet the informant in Heifong III," He paused before asking, "How much will I get paid for this?"
She brought out a small digital pad and wrote down a number, causing Gene to let out a low whistle, "I must have him safely brought to Jiraiya, Gene. I want nothing, and I mean nothing to happen to him or you will not receive a single wulong, got it?" Gene knew if this job was done fast and done well he would be sitting pretty for a good decade or so, and stared Tsunade directly in the eye.
"I understand, consider it done." A small smile crept onto the blond woman's face as she held out her perfectly manicured hand to shake. As soon as Gene gripped it, he felt his hand almost being crushed in a vice.
"Oh, and by the way, if you ever try to grope me again, there is going to be more than a gatling gun up your ass." She gave a happy smile that betrayed the venom behind her words. It took an immense amount of will power to not scream at the crushing strength of the beautiful woman. Tsunade released her grip and wrote down the address for Naruto's workshop, handing it silently to Gene who was currently biting his tongue, trying not to scream at the intense pain in his right hand as he walked out to meet his companions.
Jim and Melfina rose as one and immediately had expected things had gone wrong until Gene gave a grin and showed the envelope and address to Naruto's workshop.
"Come on guys, let's get out of here." Gene said over his shoulder as quickly as he could away from the office doors. Jim and Melfina cheered at Gene as they followed right behind him. As the trio headed down the hall, the lights dimmed once again, causing Gene to groan, "This guy is going to be a handful."
A/N: Okay, back with a new story (Big thanks to my beta)! Decided to try something new so please R&R and let me know what you think. Update to my other fic is also on the way soon!