Title: Nothing Human (Suzuka Secrets rewrite)

Author: Acidbuk

Rating: PG-13 (one very naughty word and sexual implication)

Disclaimer: Outlaw star and its characters belong to Sunrise and a whole bunch of other people who are not me so lets all be nice and not get lawyers involved. That said I make no money out of this and do it for fun.

Chapter 1: Nothing Human

Suzuka Knelt on the Balcony, sipping some of her tea, looking at the sunset and Twilight gave in night, it was true that twilight was indeed her favourite time of day. Gene Starwind came over and threw himself down next to her, resting his arm on his one knee as his Red hair flickered slightly in the wind.

"Beautiful isn't it", Gene Idly commented.

Suzuka simply nodded and took another sip of her tea; it had been a month now since the Lay-line incident a month since Gene and Melfina had declared their 'feelings' for each other. Suzuka often wondered why Gene harboured emotions for the Android. That's all she was to Suzuka, although a good copy she wasn't human. She wasn't flesh, and blood and bone, she was titanium, steel and fibre optic wires, never human, nothing human.

"So Gene, what's it like fucking the doll?" Suzuka spoke bluntly, no hint of malice or hurt in her tone after all to Suzuka Melfina, was an "It" not a "her", she didn't need to consider 'Its' Feelings at all.

"What?" Gene asked irritated as his eyebrow raised the vein on the side of his head throbbing visibly.

"Don't deny it Gene, I've heard you and It late at night, it disturbs my comforting silence", Suzuka never referred to Melfina as a person but merle an object, it wasn't that she did not like the android. It was certainly pleasant enough to look at and talk to but it was still just a robot. Gene clenched his teeth and started to grind them resisting the urge to hit the woman next to him and throw her off the balcony.

"Why do you hate her so much? You'll hurt her", Gene asked looking up at the sky as twilight started to be claimed by night.

"Yes she does have elaborate programming to allow her the illusion of emotion, but that's all it is Gene, Programming. She doesn't have Blood running through her, she has wires, instead of a brain she has a core AI, she's Artificial - a machine, and elaborate one certainly I would even go as far to say Advanced but still a machine. To answer your question Gene I do not hate it, I am indifferent to it, I look at my chair and I see a chair, I do not feel anything for the chair anymore than the chair feels for me, if it is a good chair I may say 'this is a good chair. I do not hate the chair or like the chair the chair simply is" Suzuka stated sipping more of her tea and pouring herself and Gene another cup.

"So I ask you Gene, if you care to satisfy my curiosity, why do you have feelings for it", Suzuka said with no contempt in her tone.

Gene sighed any anger he felt towards the blue haired woman now gone and said; "its because… she looks like her".

Suzuka raised an eyebrow of course she instantly knew whom Gene was talking about though it surprised her for him to admit it so freely. Suzuka knew he was without doubt talking about the very person that gave Gene the crash course to become an outlaw, heck he named the Ship is named after. In Person Suzuka had never met 'her' but, she knew of the woman through reputation. As hard as stone, fast as a C'Tari and strong as a raging ox, forged in the fire of a volcano and burning with the fire of a thousand suns.

"I keep thinking that maybe part of her is alive in Mel", Gene spoke when Suzuka didn't say anything, too caught up in her own thoughts. "Perhaps maybe that part of Her is still here with me, Mel looks so much like her", Gene added looking away unable to meet Suzuka's piercing gaze.

"I see" was Suzuka's only response to the admission, though she wanted to hold him to show how much she truly cared about him, wanted to show him that he wasn't alone, but all shoe could muster was an 'I see'. It seemed so inadequate but she couldn't bring herself to say anything else, the words jumped at her but she just couldn't get them to come out. For someone who worked on logic and reason like Suzuka everything about Gene Starwind was illogical, he defied convection.

Suzuka looked out at the sun as it dipped below the horizon, both sat in silence as the stars began to twinkle. Each time she killed, it took away part of her and she had been quite void of feeling for sometime now. Her master once told her to never take a life unless you really want it because once you do everything about it belongs to you, everything it was, everything it ever would be and it cannot be undone. 'You are who you kill Suzuka, never forget that', the words of her master and trainer echoed in her mind.

She had tried to harden herself to it, freeze her heart in ice, and wrap it in unbreakable chains it had turned her into the best of course, no one matched her skill. However still the memories haunted her, the faces of those lives she had taken cut short with her blade. The faces, the screams the horror and blood, in the quiet, in the dark she remembered them all. She accused Melfina of being an, "it" a Doll, a machine a thing with only a facsimile of emotion, a facade of feeling but was she so different?

Maybe that was why she disliked Melfina, it was because Gene Starwind could love the machine but not her. She blinked hard as that realisation hit her like a brick to the face.

It was true that Gene had changed her, for the better. She had come to Sentinel III to kill Fred Luo on the behest of another arms dealer, but Gene had got in her way, she had underestimated him and he had beaten her but instead of finishing her off like she expected Gene showed mercy on her. In doing so her life now belonged to him and she hoped that maybe she during there travels perhaps she could repay her debt, to protect him from dangers that even he perhaps did not know he was facing.

She had told him that, she stayed because she found him unusual and interesting, a mere curiosity but the truth was far more than that. The truth was that for some inexplicable reason this Red haired rouge outlaw with a bad attitude had started to melt the ice and break the chains of he own making. She felt safe for the first time in years, in the quiet of the night the voices stopped, the screams dyed down and the faces in her dreams were less. She found that amongst these good people she could sleep soundly. She smiled to herself even Aeisha had grown on her.

She eyed him as he had shifted position to the other side of the balcony, he was cleaning one of his many guns. She smiled to herself again, it was the quiet moments they shared that she liked most. When Gene wasn't fighting bad guys, having sex with hookers of causing massive amounts of collateral damage. When they were just sat in the quite in comfortable silence with each other. He would always raise to a challenge, even when it was bigger than he was, especially when it was bigger them him, he would never back down and never retreat even if there was no hope of winning. He had one told her that "it doesn't matter if I die, if I accomplish my goals but die doing so. I still win" it was one of those memento about him that impressed her, she remembered what her master had once said

"The true test of strength is not how hard you can hit Suzuka, but how hard you can get hit and still continue to fight" the words echoed in her mind. She could think of no words better to sum up Gene Starwind.

He was a good person but he had storm in his heart, that much was certain and it would slowly tear him apart. Though she had not met him until later, she knew that he had loved Hilda and that they had been lovers. That much she had got from Jim when she had asked about their past, perhaps in another world, another time things may have been different, but they hadn't and her death had hit him hard. Jim had even told her that at first Gene had resented Melfina. Maybe it really was because she looked so much like Hilda, all-be-it much younger and with no eye patch, Suzuka couldn't say for certain.

The realisation that maybe she did love Gene Starwind was not one Suzuka came to easily, but with it made one question stayed on her mind as she listened to the squeak of cotton on gunmetal as Gene continued to clean his weapon. The question running over her mind again and again on infinite loop - why would he want her when he had his doll?

Gene Starwind finished cleaning his weapon, she could not identify the weapon it looked like some kind of heavy calibre pistol as he put it back together she slid the magazine into place pulling back the slide to chamber a round before holstering it.

"I'm going to head to bead Suzu" he said stretching while smiling at her in that 'Starwind way' that she was sure melted a dozen girls on as many planets.

"I think I will stay out here a little longer" she said glancing over at him.

"Okay, but don't stay out too long, don't want you catching a cold" he said as he kissed her on the forehead and made his way inside.

(000)

Gene Starwind moved into the building and headed to his room. He pushed open the sliding door and entered Melfina was already inside undressing for bed, standing there topless she raised her arms up to cover modesty. "Hey!" she said with a blush that made her look like a Tomato

"Its just me" he said with a grin, eyeing Melfina up and down.

"You could knock", she said lowering her arms and continuing to undress.

"It's my room" he countered.

"Our Room" she said with an infection grin.

"Okay, our Room" he said.

"Now close our door I'm sure you don't want the others to see me naked, do you Gene?" she said with a slight giggle as she pulled down her panties.

"The thought had crossed my mind, if only so they know what they are missing out on" Gene replied with a smirk.

"Gene Starwind!" Melfina said with a mock pout. "Behave"

Gene grinned as she shut the door and watched her get into bed before undressing himself also and getting in between the sheets and Melfina snuggled up to him laying her head on his chest.

"So no nooky?" he asked.

"No" she said trying to sound firm but with a mischievous tone. "You wanted to flash my naked body to everyone in the Apartment", she added.

"Only because they'd be really jealous" Gene said in amusement.

Melfina tried hard to keep a straight face and firm look but couldn't as she moved to straddle Gene with her knees either side of him;. "Well, I suppose a little nooky might be good" she said leaning down to kiss him

(0000)

Heifong city was, unusual in many ways, the city never really slept there was always something going on, where it was production in the factories by automated machines or the neon draped gilded skyscrapers of the casino district. Heifong was extremely diverse. Even at 3am. In the adjoining building to Starwind and Hawking something was happening.

"This is alpha dog to pack, Copy" came gruff male voice of a man in what was some sort of exo-skelital body armour system complete with NBC mask and Thermal vision.

"One Copy"

"Two Copy"

"Three Copy"

"Four Copy"

"Fire Copy"

They each said in turn, some were men, others were clearly women, which you could tell from the tone of voice but also by the distinctly different looking armour that fitted the form of the commandos.

"Sniper in Position" said a man across the street in an abandoned office floor holding an impossibly large rifle that fired a 17.7mm armour-piecing incendiary round.

"All Pack members. Go. Remember we need the princess alive, lets keep this clean and tight", Alpha said as he prepared the rope to sail down the side of the building with the others in his 'pack'. They slowly made there way down the building coming to Gene Starwind's window.

"This is Two, I have visual ID on the princess"

"Three Confirms"

The five soldiers moved as one with Alpha taking a device off his utility vest and attaching it to the window the hummed gently as a red beam shot out the sides and rotated around several time scoring the glass. Then another stronger blue beam cut right through it creating a nice man-sized hole that the soldiers pushed through detaching there equipment ropes and raising there rifles. Silently they pointed at Melfina and Gene one of them grabbed Melfina with a hand over her mouth to stop her screaming as they dragged her out the gloves of the power-suit giving off a sleep gas that knocked her out. She was then loaded onto one of the repel lines and hoisted up to the roof

Gene woke up with a fright as one of the soldiers caught his foot on a door

"What the…" Gene yelled.

"Gas now!" Alpha commanded and three uses a Sleep Gas Grenade, the gas flowing out into the room filling it with a yellow haze. So much for easy

Gene reaching under his pillow and taking out the double barrelled sawn off shotgun and firing both 12-gauge rounds into the chest of one of the soldier. He fell back full force into a wall but the body armour did its job but the shotgun ignited the latent sleep gas causing a fireball that sent the soldiers back, blew out the windows and gene through an adjoining wall landing on Jim bed, much to Jim's Surprise. As 'two' and 'three' moved forward and fired two orange pulses from their rifles at Gene and Jim dropping them with a thud before they could react

The Soldiers gathered themselves and got up.

"This is Four, Package is secure on roof, Extraction requested" came the voice over the radio as they had hoisted the unconscious Melfina up the robes. Suzuka burst into the room, since the door had been blown off its hinges, sword at the ready. Bringing her Botaku down, Alpha rotated his rifle so that the Carbonate buttstock took the blow, which he then parried away. Quickly pressing a button on the rifle to extend a six-inch blade from the side of the Barrel Cover outwards.

Suzuka recovered and moved to side swipe aiming to cut the man in half, however he rotated his weapon again this time so the newly extended blade took the impact and parried the strike so he then brought the stock down onto her foot. Suzuka gave a yelp as the Carbonate stock connected with her foot. But that was nothing compared to what came next as before she could recover to land a third hit the stock of the weapon was already up and heading towards her face at full speed. The impact sending her sprawling over hunched in pain as the stock was then mercilessly brought down upon the back of her head knocking her clean out. Alpha shot her again just to make sure.

"I will never mock Bayonet classes again" he said just before Aisha burst through the wall barely having time to react as she pounced claws first toward him. He did the only thing he could do. He dropped onto his back just before she reached him using the rifle as a leverage pole he kicked his feet up into her stomach and sent her flying through the window. There were screams and soft "meows".

"I thought this was a non-lethal op sir?" Two asked about the woman he had just kicked out of the window.

"She's a C'Tari. She could take a fall three times this without serious injury", Alpha replied as the sound of low flying jet engines seemed to radiate nearby. "Guess that's our ride out, lets get out of here" he said as he reattached his rope lines and climbed back up to the roof with what was left of his team closely behind. The aircraft was quite elegant despite its boxy design it did have a number of flowing curves, which narrowed and tapered towards the front, it was black and silver and bore the 'Arc Tech' Logo on the side in the midsection. It came to a hover as its jets rotated so that the exhausts were pointing downwards. The aircraft descended to the roof without touching down the rear ramp opened and the soldiers embarked one of them carrying the naked Melfina over his shoulder.

"Easy Money" Alpha said with a grin as he took off his mask helmet unit and strapping himself into the seat as the aircraft took off again, and was gone.

(0000)

For Gene Starwind, waking up was a gradual process like booting up a computer. First there was the awareness of warmth, then the awareness of something cuddled up on him, which he naturally assumed was Melfina. Then came the physical reactions that actually led to him opening his eyes. Though he felt like he had downed a case of Saurian brandy.

Gene Starwind awoke to the bustling sound of Heiphong; it was the sounds of the big city he had come accustomed to over the past few months since moving to the busy neon gilded metropolis. The first thing Gene noticed was that he was not in his bed. The second thing he noticed was that he was naked, neither of these things was always bad in fact for Gene they tended to happen on a regular basis until recently.

The third thing he noticed was Jim curled up on him. Gene blinked. Gene blinked hard. Gene screamed, loudly.

Jim woke up with a startle sitting up on reflex as the sound of Genes screams disturbed his sound slumber. "What, what the hell is going on" his head was throbbing and his vision was hazy as he tried to make out the world around him. When he did he wished he hadn't as he let out a shrill cry. "GENE WHY ARE YOU IN MY BED NAKED!""

"I don't know!" Gene said honestly. "I thought you were Melfina!"

"You thought I was Mel! What do I have Dark hair and great boobs now?" Jim yelled indignant "How the hell do end up in my bed naked!, did you get drunk off your arse on Saurian brandy and Forget which room Mel was in so you just pick one at random?" Jim yelled; "And while we are on the subject why is there a hole in my wall! I've told you again and again to stay away from the caster gun when you drink and now you put a god-damn hole in my wall!"

"Look Calm down Jim" Gene tried to placate, the fog still making his thoughts hazy.

"Calm Down? Calm Down! You are naked in my bed How the hell am I supposed to be calm about that" Jim's eye twitched.

Suzuka had woken somewhere in the middle of this exchange and entered the fray through the hole in the wall, blushing as she saw the naked Gene Starwind standing there defending himself against a clearly freaked out Jim Hawking. Suzuka coughed to announce her presence.

"What do you need Suzuka?" Gene said standing there not even bothering to cover his modesty, until he actually realised he had modesty to cover he then quickly ducked down behind Jim's Bed.

"Haven't you defiled my bed enough Gene" Jim said folding his arms.

"Do inform me when you two are finished so that perhaps then we may go to find Aisha and discover the fate of Melfina", Suzuka said matter of fact. To Gene it was suddenly as if the fog was lifted truly he had been to busy and distracted trying to placate Jim that his mind never even focused on the nights events, then it all suddenly hit him. The armed goons, Mel, the explosion caused by the gas.

"Melfina!" he said standing up again baring all to Suzuka and making her blush.

Gene stepped through the hole in the wall into his room that looked like a hurricane had hit it. Papers were everywhere, shelves were collapsed, cupboard doors were blown off, some of the walls were charred and there was a large hole in the wall as well as the glass in his window being completely blown out.

"Jesus" He said, even though Gene was not a religious man. "Melfina!" he shouted.

There was no reply.

He called again, and again there was no reply. Gene Starwind walked the entire Apartment searching room by room. There was no sign of his beloved Melfina or Aisha either for that matter. There was a knock at the door and Gene, still buck naked rushed to open in he tried to hide his disappointment but failed when he opened the door to only find a battered looking Aisha.

Gene sighed and went back to searching the Apartment.

"Fine don't ask how I am, jerk" she said.

"Holy Crap, are you okay Aisha?" Jim asked as he and Suzuka walked down from the upstairs area.

"I've had better wakeups" she said. Jim winced looking at her, she was pretty banged up, a black eye, she walked with a limp and had numerous cuts and bruises all over and that was just the parts they could see.

"What the hell happened?" Jim asked.

"I got thrown out of a window" she said; "any sign of Mel?" Aisha asked looking around. Jim and Suzu shook their heads in reply.

"Any idea what happened to her?" Aisha asked.

"None" Gene said from the kitchen. "She's just. Gone. Vanished. We searched the Apartment and she's not here, there were men here. Last night, do you think they took her?" Gene asked finally.

"I am hesitant to jump to conclusions however, it seems like this may be the case. These men were skilled and highly trained, if they did indeed take Melfina it is likely they were working in the employ of someone hiding in the shadows for what purpose I cannot say" Suzuka said. Suzuka looked off into the distance thinking back to her fight with one of them and how he had bested her. There was no excuse - she was slowing down, her time here had dulled her skills. She would need to fix that.

Meanwhile Gene simply paced the kitchen over and over again, slowly wearing a trench in the tiling, "why the hell would they take her. She hasn't done anything. She's not valuable. She has no enemies" Gene said working himself up into a panic attack. Of course none of those were strictly true, she was the maiden of the lay-line that made her valuable and she was the girlfriend of Gene Starwind, Gene knew he had plenty of enemies who would hurt her just to get to him. Plus Melfina had plenty of her own enemies in the K Pirates. That said though these men did not look like Pirates, there tactics were too clean, too focused and they lacked that Pirate smell they looked more military than Pirate's for sure, there equipment from what Gene could remember looked high end too.

Maybe Fred would know it, Gene froze in his pacing, that wasn't a bad idea. Maybe Fred would know he was an arms dealer or maybe he could at least point him in the right direction. Gene shook his head he would need more than just vague half-arsed memories he would have to at least try and dry the weapon.

(0000)

Meanwhile Jim had taken Aisha to the bathroom, where he was tending her wounds with a washcloth and some water mixed with antiseptic. He pressed the cloth gently against her skin over one of her cuts and she winced.

"Sorry", Jim Apologised.

"Don't worry about it. I've had worse", she distinctly remembered being shot several times with Genes caster gun and near charred to a crisp. C'Tari C'Tari were hardy it was part of there genetic code, part of there culture – The C'Tari C'Tari had a broad back able to carry the weight of the world on it.

"I just feel sorry for Gene" she said, wincing again as Jim applied more water to her cuts forcing him to mouth another apology.

"Why do you feel sorry for him?" Jim asked curios as he continued. Jim was more worried for Melfina that feeling sorry for Jim. Especially after waking up to find Gene naked in his bed.

"To lose your life mate is a sad thing Jim" She said.

"Life Mate? They are not married Aisha" Jim replied almost amused at the thought of Gene Starwind married.

"What is this Married?" Aisha asked curious, even though she live amongst humans now many of their customs and culture was still a mystery to her.

"Marriage, its…well when two adults love each other they have a ceremony, exchange rings and vows saying that they will stay with that person for the rest of there lives. Or at least until they get divorced", Jim Explained; "Its supposed to be about affirming your love but its more about economic and legal benefits today than anything else" he added.

"What about your people?" he asked.

"We don't have Marriages, we have Life Mates, every C'Tari in there peak will find a life mate, for procreation and continuance of the tribe assuming of course they are genetically compatible" she explained.

"Genetically Compatible?"

Aisha nodded; "Genetics are important to the C'Tari, two genetically strong mates will produce a strong litter, a strong litter is good for the tribe and what is good for the tribe is good for the C'Tari. A Weak litter will cause the tribe hardship"

"What about love?" Jim asked.

"Love", Aisha said, turning the word over in her head.

"You know that feeling inside that you just know that person is right for you, that you can spend your life with that person and be happy", Jim said.

"Love happens sometimes, Life mates can be in love, or lean to love their partners but often Life mates are chosen for genetic strength than emotions" Aisha explained.

"That's kind of sad, what about if two C'Tari want to marry because they love each other but are not genetically compatible?" Jim asked.

"Then they are disowned by the tribe and exiled from the C'Tari empire, A weak litter brings hardships for the tribe and the parents. The good of the tribe is above the good of the individuals within the tribe and the C'Tari as a whole"

"You exile them out of your space too?"

"Of course, if they were permitted to stay they would be a bad example to future C'Tari, others may try and follow as they do, leaving only weak litters, the tribe would collapse and our enemies would crush the C'Tari Empire in our weakness. This cannot be allowed" Aisha paused; "Joining's do happen for love alone sometimes but they do so and know they bare the consequences of that choice."

"That's incredibly sad Aisha" Jim said looking down.

"That is how it has always been for the C'Tari" she said simply.

"How do C'Tari perform a joining?"

"The two to be joined stand before our Paragons in the halls of our ancestors and before our tribe. The Keeper provides the Chalice of the Ancestors, each to be joined sips the sacred water" Aisha explained, using her hands to explain vividly much to Jim's amusement "then they each use a ceremonial dagger provided by the keeper of the clan to cut the palms across and draw blood. The two then clasp palms together and recite the blood vows." Aisha smiled.

"They are joined for life after that, no C'Tari will ever take another mate even if one of them dies. The other will remain a lone mate forever in mourning for there loss of there mate", she added.

"That's a lot more elaborate that human customs. I think I know why it means so much to you", Jim said with a small smile.

"Thank you Jim", Aisha said.

"For what?" he asked.

"For letting me explain a about C'Tari culture, ever since I left the Embassy I've not really had the chance to tell anyone about our people for a long time. Thank you for giving me that" she said as she kissed him on the forehead causing him to blush a shade of red so deep you could land aircraft by it.

(0000)

Jim walked down from the bathroom after seeing to Aisha into the Kitchen area almost expecting to find Melfina but then he remembered she was no where to be found. On the floor lay a shattered glass, a few it looked like actually and a bottle of bourbon on the counter. Gene was sat there on a stool staring out into space.

"Gene, are you ok?" Jim asked hesitantly

Gene looked up; his eyes flaring with rage and Jim immediately knew he had said the wrong thing. "Am I ok? Oh I'm just dandy. The woman I love has been spirited away under my goddamn nose in the middle of the night and I have no clue or leads' who, where or even why she was taken but no, no I'm just awesome Jim. Thanks for asking" Gene stated sarcastically.

"I didn't mean…I didn't. I just meant how are you feeling?" Jim said trying to phrase it better. Truth-be-told he was always better with machines than people.

"It… hurts"; Gene managed as he took another swig of the bottle and burst into tears

"Do I have a sign branded on my forehead or something Jim? One that reads 'Gene Starwind can not protect his women. Kill them easy'? " He asked looking up tearfully.

Jim looked into his friends eyes and knew what Gene was talking about immediately, he recognised that Chassid emotionally drained stare, he had only seen it once before. he sighed and shook his head.

"That won't do any good, Gene, Feeling like that…Melfina is not Hilda", Jim said, the words cut his throat like a buzz saw on there way out but he said them.

"But…" Gene protested.

"There is nothing we can do for Hilda Gene, she is gone, we couldn't help her. People die" Jim stated thinking it over if he should move closer to his friend or not trying to gage how volatile he really was, eyeing Gene carefully his long term friend looked like a bottle of pop about to explode. Jim thought better of it.

"I should have. I could have helped her Jim. I should have been out there with her I kept thinking maybe if I was out there. Maybe she wouldn't have died that maybe she would still be here" Gene stated; "and now they've taken Melfina too" he broke down again into tears.

"Hilda is dead. We can't change the past Gene and dwelling will not do you any good. Melfina isn't dead"

"We don't know that for certain", Gene said.

"Yes we do. We've worked enough here to know how these things are. If they wanted her dead they would have killed her here. Hell a good sniper could have hit her from three kilometres away and we'd never find them, the fact they broke in and took her means that for whatever reason they want her alive", Jim spoke carefully choosing each word.

"Then what can we do", Gene asked there was a long silence.

"We wait for a ransom call. If it's a kidnapping then they will more than likely want us to pay to get her back", Jim said.

Suzuka eyed both of them from the corner. She doubted very much that whomever sent them were interested in a ransom. The assailants were highly trained professionals and you simply did not send that calibre of individual in for a mere kidnapping. This was no gangster smash and grab or crime of opportunity of that much, she was certain but she wasn't going to dash Genes hopes, at least not until she had to.

The Telephone, rang and Gene ran over faster than she had ever seen him run to pick up, touching the Video Screen to accept the call. "Yes?" he asked hopefully. The small-embedded screen inside the unit flickered and changed from its normal logo to the face of a young woman, a blonde in a silver uniform.

"Hello I am calling on behalf of Arc Tech Information systems are you happy with your current video Link Service?"

Gene let out a ragefull cry, almost like a barbarian howl of old Earth as he ripped the phone unit off the wall entirely and threw it across the room into the opposing wall smashing it and leaving a large dent in the plaster. "God Damn Telemarketers!" Gene said panting.

"I can't lose her again Jim, not again not after …not again" he pleaded with Jim as he hugged his bottle of bourbon close to himself.

"Gene, Tell me what do you remember of last night?" Suzuka said, she startled Gene a little he had forgotten she was there.

"I remember being out on the balcony with you. I remember falling asleep with Melfina, then waking up to a noise in my room, there were armed men, Melfina was gone I thought maybe she was downstairs. They tried to gas me, some kind of knockout gas I reached for my shotgun that I keep under the pillow and then…there was an explosion. I got thrown through a wall and woke up this morning in Jim's bed" he said.

"Naked" Jim added.

"I think we covered that discussion" Gene said, he just knew even if they got Mel back that Jim was never going to let him live that down.

"The mind is like a Camera, it takes in more than we see" Suzuka said

"Gene, I want you to focus, close your eyes" Suzuka instructed. Gene looked dubious; "This is important" she added and he obeyed.

"Focus on last night" Suzuka said.

"I don't remember more than what I've already told you Suzu" Gene Spoke.

"Gene Focus. Focus on a single detail about last night, something mundane but unique to last night"

"Okay", Gene said.

"Expand on that single detail, one by one like filling in a Jigsaw, let the memory take you where it wants to go not where you think it should", Suzuka spoke, her voice seemed more distant though.

"Okay", Gene said.

"Now tell me what you see", Suzuka said her voice shifted and distant, like she was only half there.

"I see a man, in my room. He looks like the leader. The others seem to look to him for orders" Gene said.

"What does he look like?" Suzuka asked.

"Don't know, he's wearing some kind of power armour. Looks expensive, cuttings edge too. Not the kind of thing the Pirates would use. Its black mostly, but there is parts, which are silver. "

"What about his weapon?" Suzuka asked.

"Long, Silver cover, short barrel, black stock, looks like it takes some kind of energy cell rather than bullets. I'm guessing expensive too", Gene said; "Triple Rail, One top with a reflex sight, a side rail and an under rail with a Grenade launcher attached"

The More Gene said the more Suzuka was getting worried that the assailants that had Melfina were Military or at least had connections to military hardware. She was sketching the weapon as Gene was describing it filling in details from her own memory to get a more complete picture.

Gene opened his eyes and looked over at the drawing Suzuka had made; "Wow Suzuka, that's exactly it! That's the suit and rifle I saw. I can take this to Fred"

Suzuka nodded and smiled.

"I didn't know you could draw like that?" Gene said.

"It is not a skill I use often" Suzuka said.

"Your really good, maybe you should have been an artist instead of an assassin Suzu", Gene replied.

Suzuka blushed slightly; "If you have seen me work Gene, I am still an Artist. I just use a different set of tools" she stated.

Gene chuckled and for a moment Suzuka say the pain in his eyes go, if only for a moment. "Okay Jim, Call Fred"

"Do I have to?" Jim asked or more pleaded.

"He's the only arms dealer I know that isn't trying to kill me", Gene stated honestly.

"The only one who isn't trying to kill you yet", Jim Corrected.

"Fair Point" Gene said, as Jim went off to one of the other rooms to use the spare phone leaving him alone with Suzuka, he relaxed on his stool, eyeing her out of the corner of his vision. She looked as if she was wrestling with herself on whether to say something or not, in all the time he had known her, she had never heisted to speak her mind or mince her words.

"There is another possibility Gene", Suzuka began; "I was…hesitant to bring it up in front of the others but…Melfina is a peace of advanced technology", Suzuka stated.

Gene looked over at her fast, and the look he gave her was worse than if he had sucker punched her in the gut then his eyes deflated and he looked down in his own sorrow.

"She's more than that Suzu", he said with an exasperated sigh.

"We know that", Suzuka said moving across to put her arm on his shoulder, in truth she didn't believe it, to her Melfina was a machine, nothing more but she was certainly not going to argue point, not today. Gene rested his hand on hers and squeezed tightly.

"However, the people that took her, if they took her for her technology certainly won't care who she is to us" Suzuka said simply. Gene nodded

No more needed to be said; she certainly did not need to remind him that if these people took her for her technology that it was unlikely they would ransom her. Either way their path was set before them - they would need to find Melfina themselves.

Jim returned beat red; "Fred says we'll need to drop by his place as soon as we can and he will see what he can do"

"Alright!" Gene Leapt up, "lets go then! Lets see if Fred has the information we need", he almost yelled as he walked over to the door, he felt alive, better than alive he felt like he had hope, he could do this. He could find her. He had to because he couldn't face the other alternatives, even if it was always on the edge of his mind of the possibility..

"Gene?" Jim said.

"Yes?" Gene replied looking back.

"Might want to put on some pants first", Jim said.

"Right" Gene said blushing heading back into the apartment.

Authors Notes: Right. Okay, I know I know its been ages since I did an update but consider this…a re-imaging of Suzuka's Secret. Honestly, that was never as good as I would have liked and while the later chapters improved it always felt like it was stringed together, plus since that time I think I have matured as a writer. So here, for your enjoyment is a better version at least I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I actually enjoyed writing this one. I'll leave the older one up for the sake of posterity but this is the one that will be getting updates. Some of that will get brought over (the Good bits at least) but most of it will end up on the cutting room floor almost undoubtedly. That said for those of you with any interest at all – Future Imperfect is still in production despite the huge update delay this is because my pre-reader has disappeared off the face of the planet and my backup too. So although the chapter has been ready for nearly six months I am really a little apprehensive about sending it out live until its been beta read at least since I know for sure despite re-writing it four times and sweeping it three times there will be errors.

Anyway, I'm going to commit myself to updating this once a week, Every Friday night to try and whip my muse into shape. Interesting fact – This chapter is actually longer in word count and page count than a lot of my old fan-fics