Chapter 3: Lost and down.

Fred Lou was humming happily, Yesterday had been a good day, followed by a good evening and a good night indeed. He smiled stretching in his limousine there was nothing that could happen today which would upset him. His two escort vehicles, his Limousine and trailing vehicle pulled up outside his business premises and his driver got out and walked around to open the door. His two bodyguards exited first followed and formed a defensive perimeter. Fred got out next and walked into the grounds only to be confronted by a total mess.

He blinked.

"Never challenge the universe", he said to himself

Fred Immediately rushed into his building to his secretary, forcing his body guards to keep up as he almost tripped over his own feet in his haste.

"Sara!" he cried; "what happened?"

"Its terrible Mr Luo! Utterly terrible!" she said in tears

He tried to get more sense out of her but she couldn't really form words between the blubbering and the crying. So he sighed and proceeded past his checkpoint to his office. When he entered, the devastation was immense. Those two grenades Jim had thrown in had caused huge chunks of plaster to peel off and knocked over several bookshelves, paintings were hanging off the wall and a number of his Stature sculptures were broken in pieces on the floor. He desk was also shredded.

"What the…" he started but then he spotted that the vault was open and he ran over to it to find the door wide open. Fred Screamed.

"MY MONEY!" he yelled loudly; "WHERE IS MY MONEY. THEY…THEY TOOK MY MONEY!" he screamed at the top of his lungs in sheer disbelief before collapsing to his knees.

"Are you okay sir?" his head of security walked in.

Fred's eye twitched and the vein in his forehead pulsed in anger; "Where the hell were you guys! What am I paying you for!"

"Sir you pay us for personal security. Not building security. We are only here when you are, otherwise there is a light guard compliment" the man said; "it's in our contract"

His head of security had seen many wars, on many planets but in all the things he had seen the most tragic was seeing Fred Luo break down into shrill tears blubbering like a baby.

Never challenge the universe.

(0000)

Gene looked over the weapon again, yeah this was it this was definitely it. Gene removed the outer cover and started stripping the weapon down to its component parts for the tenth time and placing them out one by one on the table.

"Field stripping a weapon is all about repetition", he said to himself.

Jim stretched and yawned as he walked into the kitchen after a good sleep; it was noon already. He couldn't believe it but then after last night's activities it wasn't so surprising. He looked over at Suzuka sipping her tea.

"You sleep well Suzu?" Jim Asked.

"I did, thank you Jim" Suzuka Nodded with a small smile.

Jim looked over at Gene, working on one of the rifles they had brought home last night; "what about him?" he asked nodding his head towards Gene.

"I do not believe so", Suzuka said; "he was still here when I awoke. I do not believe he has slept"

Jim Sighed.

"Gene?" he asked walking over to the table where Gene was putting the weapon together again after placing out the parts individually.

"Yeah?" he said looking up as he loaded an energy cell into the magazine well ahead of the trigger assembly, the weapon lit up.

"Have you slept?" Jim ventured.

"Not yet", Gene said as he started stripping the weapon again.

"Gene your exhausted, you need to sleep", Jim said.

"I can't. If I sleep…I can't protect you all. I may lose another one of you" Gene said and Jim this time kneled down and took Gene's hands to stop him from stripping the weapon.

"Gene, we're going to find her. I promise but we need you firing on all cylinders when we do not want you half dead from exhaustion, Jim said.

"But…" Gene began.

"We'll be fine. Isn't that right Suzu?" Jim asked.

"We will be most secure. I will stand guard", Suzuka replied.

Gene swallowed.

"Okay" he said; "if anything happens, wake me" he ordered going to his room.

Gene lay down on his bed, resting his head on the pillow holding his shotgun in one hand across his chest as he starred at the ceiling fan, watching it rotate, listening to the breeze blow through the hole that was his window and the bustle of mid-day Heifong.

He felt his eyes get heavy, and he closed them for what seemed like a minute. Maybe a little sleep wasn't a bad idea.

(0000)

Jim knocked on Aisha's door.

"Come in!" she said.

Jim slid the door open and stepped in, Aisha was sat on the bed cross-legged counting out money in incriminates of a hundred Wong, wrapping them with ties and then stacking them. Judging from the pile in the corner she had been quite busy.

"When did you find time to do this?" Jim asked amazed.

"C'Tari don't need to sleep as much as humans", Aisha said simply.

"So why do you usually not get up till midday?" Jim asked.

"I said we don't need to, not that we don't like to", Aisha replied with a grin.

"So how much do we have?" Jim asked.

"I've been stacking them in columns of One million Wong" she pointed to the blocked stacks in neat rows along the wall opposite her bed.

"That's a lot of money", Jim said.

"That's an awful lot of money", Aisha Corrected.

"I bet Fred is unhappy" Jim said with a grin

"I do hope so", Aisha said with a smirk on her face Jim had never seen her use before; "I never did like that guy"

"Fred? He can be useful" Jim answered.

"So can a meal worm. Doesn't mean I like that either", Aisha pointed out.

"Fair point", Jim acknowledged "So, you feel like taking a break?"

"You have anything more interesting to do than counting an awful lot of money?" Aisha asked with one eyebrow raised.

"Lunch?" Jim prodded; "Fred's buying"

Jim added grabbing a wad of the uncounted Wong from the cargo bag rather than upset her delicate work. Aisha pondered this then her stomach growled loudly making the decision for her as she finished her latest count at stacked it.

"Actually Lunch does sound good", she said with a small grin.

(000)

Suzuka watched Jim and Aisha depart, she smiled to herself those two were interesting. She knew now that with Gene asleep she had the place virtually to herself, which was an odd feeling. She was about to open her book to read, when she felt a gust of wind, fill the room. She looked up and saw a woman, tall with short-cropped red hair and freckles on her face, and she had a scar under her right eye. She was dressed in sharp white suit pants, with a white blazer and black under blouse. At her waist was a sword sheathed in a scabbard, barring the insignia of her cast.

"Ritsuko", Suzuka said.

"Suzuka" the woman replied.

"If you are here for Gene I am afraid I will have to intervene" Suzuka said seriously her voice deadly low and cold like ice..

"I am not here for him", Ritsuko replied; "I am here for you"

"Me?" Suzuka asked.

"You failed to kill Fred Luo, Suzuka", the woman sighed; "You knew there would be consequences"

Suzuka nodded.

"I did not fail to kill him, I was…side tracked" Suzuka explained.

"And yet he still lives", Ritsuko spoke.

"The Client is dead, is there any more point in his death?" Suzuka asked.

The woman visibly sighed and sat down next to Suzuka.

"It is not for me to question, you know the rules of our clan, the clan accepted the contract the client being dead is irrelevant to our agreement. If Fred Luo lives it is because you failed, if he lives then someone - you must take his place. Your life for his life as is our code" She explained.

"I feared it would come to this, and I feared it would be you. Did you ask for this assignment?" Suzuka asked.

"No", Ritsuko answered; "It was offered to me, and I accepted" she continued.

"Why? I thought you were my friend" Suzuka said and the woman clasped her hand gently. Suzuka returned the action turning her palm up to hold the younger woman's hand.

"I am your friend Suzu. Would you prefer one of the others? Ginji perhaps? At least I will make it quick and painless. You know that, he would make you suffer before you died" Ritsuko said.

Suzuka looked on with an expression of disgust, it was true Ginji was the worst of them, a sadistic sociopath he liked to torture his victims with mind games, driving them insane by killing those around his targets one by one before he would end it. she had heard stories that Ginji once drove a child to commit suicide purely to satisfy his own amusement, amongst other horrors..

"I am curious Suzu", Ritsuko asked changing the subject.

"Hmm?" Suzuka looked up curiously.

"Why did you do it, why betray your clan?" Ritsuko asked.

"I didn't betrayed them!, I never betrayed them or you", Suzuka defended.

"You failed to kill your target. That is the same", Ritsuko

"Only if you see it that way", Suzuka said; "I do not"

"It doesn't matter what I see", Ritsuko replied

"You could tell them you could not find me, or that I am already dead?" Suzuka said

"I could. Is that what you would do if our positions were reversed?" Ritsuko asked.

Suzuka considered this.

"Probably not", she shook her head; "When do you want to do this?".

"Sundown?" Ritsuko asked.

It seemed appropriate, to let Suzuka see her last twilight, she owed her that.

"Sundown", Suzuka repeated in agreement.

Ritsuko turned to look at Suzuka, and Suzuka met her clear blue eyes, they both looked into each other's eyes for a moment, searching for something that neither of them knew.

"I missed you", Ritsuko stated teary.

"I missed you too", Suzuka replied equally emotionally.

They kissed.

(0000)
Jim belched loudly after stuffing his face. Looking at the empty plates in front of the two of them it was no wonder, they had finished a lot of food.

"I am so stuffed", Jim said.

"Hmm" Aisha said slurping down the last of her soup directly from the bowl and then belching loudly; "Now I am stuffed" she said.

Jim laughed.

"That was a great lunch, we normally can't afford this kind of place", Jim said looking around at the classy restaurant they had ended up at, where the prices were about as high as a street hookers skirt as Gene would put it.

"Well we can get used to this for a while", Aisha said with a grin; "On Fred".

"On Fred", Jim replied sagely. "I don't know though, the way Gene spends money…"

"Point", Aisha said. "Best enjoy it then while we can. Another round?" she asked.

"Waiter!" Jim yelled

(0000)
Doctor Moore watched her screens with interest, Melfina was strapped down to a bed surrounded by a great many lab technicians who were manning various machines. There were numerous wires connected to her for a myriad of different sensors and a large machine was scanning her with a green looking laser, that pulsed and strobe along her body from her toes to her head and back again.

"Preliminary results?" Moore enquired.

"Looking good, Titanium-G Skeletal structure, she probably has more fibre-optic cable in her than this entire lab. The most interesting thing so far is her advanced bio-nanomachine systems, they seem to form into clusters and act like muscle tissue her skin and a kind of advanced synthetic composite which sends electrical signals through her nanite-clusters into her AI core. She is extraordinarily hardy despite how she looks, it also explains why her reactions are so…. Human like", the technician spoke

"Human like", Moore clarified; "Not Human".

"Indeed. The technology is advanced, she is a work of art really, Khan was well ahead of his time, she is like nothing else I have ever seen", the same man replied.

"Can you reverse engineer the technology?" Moore asked.

"Perhaps, it will be difficult but nothing is impossible given enough time and resources"

"Keep working", Moore ordered; "Alphonse has authorised unlimited resources for this project, use extraordinary measures if you have too"

"I would prefer not to damage her", the scientist replied as he extracted some form of white liquid out of Melfina that passed for blood; "keeping her AI core intact should be a priority"

"I will take it under advisement doctor", Moore replied; "Alphonse is impatient"

"Then tell him to do the damn work himself", the scientist scowled; "Results happen when they happen she is unique we can't afford to damage her"

(0000)

Jim Belched again and groaned, why had he agreed to this, another round was such a bad idea, he looked over at Aisha who was somehow still eating, how did she manage, more than that where did she put it.

"Aisha?" he asked, as she flicked up several dumplings into the air and caught each one, barely touching the sides as she swallowed them whole.

"Yeah?" she said while picking up an egg roll with her chopsticks.

"Can I ask you something?" Jim said looking at her to try and judge her mood.

"Shoot" she said with a smile, scoffing her egg roll in one.

"Will you teach me to fight?" Jim asked.

Aisha almost choked on her egg roll.

"Your serious?" she asked.

Jim nodded vigorously in agreement

"Wouldn't Gene be better to teach you?" Aisha questioned, eyeing the boy carefully as if sizing him up.

"Not really, Gene would just use it as an excuse to kick my arse and pretend he's teaching me something", Jim said. "But I trust you"

Aisha nodded her understanding.

"Okay Jim, then I will happily train you in the way of the C'Tari!" she exclaimed loudly then turned serious. "But I warn you C'Tari training is not easy and is very physically demanding"

"I can do that" Jim nodded.

Aisha smiled and rested her head on her palms with a dopey dreamy look on her face.

"You okay?" Jim asked as she was starring at him

"Hmm" she said; "Just content" she added.

"I haven't seen you like that before", Jim said.

"I haven't been this content in a long time, not since I left the empire" Aisha said. "I guess you just have that effect on me"

Jim blushed.

(0000)
Gene was asleep on his side, his legs were curled up and he was crying.

"Melfina" Gene said in his sleep, tossing over onto his back flailing his head on his pillow

"Please. Melfina, don't leave me" he cried out, begging her to stop

"MELFINA!" Gene woke up with a start and in a cold sweat, sitting up dead straight bolt upright aiming his shotgun at the doorway until he realised that no one was there and he lowered the weapon with a sigh. He looked out, it was dark; what time was it he wondered, when he heard voices down stairs, one was definitely Suzuka, the other he did not recognise.

Gene moved to the side of his bed taking his other pistol out of a side draw and moving to the door, he was no where near as quiet as Suzuka at this but, he wasn't too bad either. The voices got louder.

"I am sorry it has come to this Suzu", the unknown voice said.

"As am I", Suzuka replied.

"If I had any choice you know I would not be doing this" the other voice, female spoke almost tearfully.

"I understand", Suzuka said.

"Sundown?" the voice asked.

"Indeed" Suzuka replied. "Sundown"

There was nothing left to say.

There was a gust of wind, and then silence, Gene moved down into the main room, Suzuka smiled up at him as he descended the stairs, she seemed happy, cheerful even if one could ever call her that but also he could see the sadness in her eyes. He was about to say something when the door burst open and a very cheerful looking Aisha and Jim entered in a fit of giggles and belches.

"We're back!" they both said.

"Stuffed!" Jim said.

"Utterly stuffed!" Aisha corrected.

They both disappeared into Aisha's room sliding the door shut behind them

Gene looked at the scene oddly; "is it me or are those two more friendly lately?".

Suzuka nodded

"I had noticed it too" she stated.

"You don't think?" Gene asked.

"What?" Suzuka asked nonplussed

"Nah nothing" he said dismissing the thought.

"Did you sleep well?" she asked, changing the subject.

"Not as well as I would have hoped" he stated; "but well enough for now"

"Good", she replied

"What time is it?" he asked stretching.

"Just after six" she replied.

"Maybe I did sleep better than I thought" he answered.

"Indeed, you were quite restful" Suzuka stood up and smiled; "if you will excuse me Gene, I have things that I need to put in order"

"Right now?" Gene asked.

"There is never any time as good as now sometimes now is all we have", Suzuka replied

Gene couldn't help but feel like she wasn't telling him everything. Something about the way she said her words told him that who ever her visitor was, had made her happy and sad, had come with news of some kind.

Suzuka looked haunted as she left, Genes eye wondering over her, Gene never brought it up because he was never one to pry into her affairs she was a very private person, When he come to think about it he knew very little about her at all. He didn't know if she had friends or family, or other people she cared about, he'd never seen her go on so much as a date, though being a Class S assassin did tend to lower your pool of potential partners.

He briefly wondered if he loved Suzuka, he pondered that for a moment wondered where it had come from, still it didn't matter anyway, she was cold, aloof and distant there was no doubt about her feelings towards him as far as Gene was concerned, she tolerated him at best. Still, there had to be a reason she stayed other than because she found him to be a simple curiosity.

He sighed, and sat down at the table once more and began field stripping his weapon, weapons were easy. it was all about repetition.

"Screw it", he said standing up and heading out to follow.

(0000)

Suzuka walked though Heifong to the local park; it was a pretty clearing of grass and trees. It reminded her of home. She thought about that, home. It had been a long time since she had even considered home but then home was here now. Before home had been with her parents, before they were killed by the pirates, then home had been with her clan, until she had failed in her contract, now home was with Gene Starwind and his motley crew of outlaws, outcasts and misfits.

Ritsuko coming here had caused Suzuka to think about her past more; they had been inseparable friends and more during their training, then they had drifted apart after they started taking assignments. They had kept in touch some, every so often they would get together and rekindle their relationship briefly before parting ways once more passing ships in the night. Now though it looked like it would end, one way or another one of them would be dead.

Suzuka sighed, she knew that she could not kill her friend, partner, lover, even if her own life depended on her doing so. She smiled sadly, she knew Ritsuko would do it, it would kill her inside and she may never be the same but she would do it, she was always the more dedicated of the two of them.

Suzuka thought back to there training together.

The area was set into a large courtyard with a wooden flat arena in the middle six meters by six meters square, with four pillars towering up and supporting an elaborate roof structure, surrounding it were a number of cherry blossom trees in full bloom.

Suzuka and Ritsuko stood on opposite ends of the arena, both had their weapons sheathed and were dressed in Kimono style outfits, Suzuka's was more elaborate and tied with a red sash in the back, where Ritsuko's was more plane white and black tied in the front.

"This match, will be fought between Suzuka and Ritsuko, to first blood under the eyes of our ancestors whom call to guide our hands", Her master said standing at the edge of the ring, he lowered his hand in a sweeping motion

Suzuka and Ritsuko bowed to each other and drew their Bokuto, Suzuka opting for the two handed technique while Ritsuko turned her blade to face backwards the blunt side resting against her shoulder with her arm stretched out. Each walked around the other eyeing them up and down, looking for weakness.

Ritsuko charged forward, swinging her sword across, Suzuka jumped backwards and the sword passed her harmlessly, Ritsuko tried again this time bringing her sword down slicing through the air, Suzuka moved to the side with her upper body, this repeated several times. Suzuka dodged with lightning reflexes, side to side, side steps, ducking and moving out of the way, it was far from a perfect defence, but certainly an effective one.

Ritsuko brought her sword down for another go and equally as fast, Suzuka turned the tables parrying the blow with her own blade, taking Ritsuko by complete surprise as she moved into the air performing a spinning scissors kick into her chest and knocking Ritsuko on her rear. Suzuka closed the gap between them lightning fast bringing her training sword down forcing Ritsuko to roll out of the way to avoid the blow and flip to her feet.

Suzuka unleashed a flurry of quick strikes with her sword, cutting through the air, forcing Ritsuko onto the defensive who parried them away each one at a time while dodging those she couldn't.

The Master smiled at his two best students as they fought, it was impressive to watch them use the techniques that he had taught but also so much more than that. He watched the fight with pride as it ebbed back and for, it flowed like water across a smooth lake from one move into another, from attack to defence and back again. Both were extremely skilled and neither could penetrate the others defence enough to overwhelm and win the match.

The Master raised his hand into the air and both opponents stopped and looked at him.

"This match is a draw", he said bowing to each in turn, and they bowed to him and then each other.

"That was a good work out, not bad Suzu", Ritsuko said with a smile

"Likewise", Suzuka said as the other woman put her arm around her.

Suzuka sighed, they had always been an equal match for each other but she knew that she had slowed down since then, since living with Gene she had not practised her craft a much as she should. She wondered what was someone supposed to do when they knew they were going to die, she had no affects or few that were not on her person, she had no family to survive her or kin to mourn her. Suzuka frowned for the first time that actually bothered her, she wondered if she should have done more with her life. She was usually so focused but now it seemed her emotions had got the best of her.

She mused to herself knowing that only Gene could make her feel this way, make her so confused with her own self, She wondered why, why did she feel for him like this? He couldn't even begin to be 'her type' as she had thought of it but then, Suzuka never even considered any relationship at all, with anyone, She could never let herself get close to anyone really before now except Ritsuko and even then the consequences could be so high, time had proved that.

She couldn't decide what was worse, having your lover find out what you did for a living and leaving you, or someone else finding out about your lover and killing them in revenge for something you did.

However Gene knew about her past and accepted it and still wanted to be her friend, he knew how many people's lives she had taken away with a swipe of her sword yet still, he allowed her to be close to him. Suzuka could not quite understand why, it was like something tugging on the edges of her mind but never making it into her mental plate.

Then suddenly it hit her.

Did he know? had he figured out how she truly felt about him? That she really did love him and would do anything for him and if he did, did he feel the same way about her? She shook her head. It wasn't possible. Why was she even thinking that, he had his doll anyway, right now she was missing but they would get her back, so even if he did feel something for her isn't it all just pointless anyway. She made her way back to the clearly slowly walking as it was getting late and would be sundown soon, she would face her fate eyes open and her sins accounted for.

(0000)
The afternoon Jim and Aisha were both in the back room, it was the largest and Gene had turned it into a fitness gym to help him keep in shape. Aisha and Jim had cleared a space for them to train. Jim was dressed in a pair of sweat pants and a white T-shirt. Aisha was in a pair of black shorts, with a stripe down the side and a sports bra, without the elaborate gear she usually wore Jim could sea the C'Tari markings and tribal tattoos she bore, as well as scars from her fight with Iruga.

"Right" she said; "Take that off for a start".

"What?" Jim stuttered, then blushed as he took his shirt off; "Why do I have to take my shirt off exactly?"

"C'Tari martial arts is very physical and requires mobility, that shirt would just be too restrictive for training", she said professionally; "Look at my clothes for example"

Jim blushed he had been trying not to look

"Jim", Aisha said shaking her head, "Look at me?"

He did so reluctantly but was still staring at her feet

"You don't like the way I look?" she asked nervously

"No, not that at all you look great!" he protested; "its just well, I've not been around many girls with such little clothing on"

"Does it bother you?" she asked shifted her weight to her other foot.

"Not really, its just well, it will take me a while to get used to", Jim said with a smile.

"Well I can't teach you if you're not willing to look at me", she said.

"Right", Jim said, as he forced himself to look up at Aisha and smiled at her.

"Isn't that better?" she asked.

"Yeah" he answered; "I like your tattoos" he said pointing out a long chain of marks and lettering on her ribs; "Where did you get them?"

"They are from my clan, given to me at maturity so any C'Tari that saw them would know my family line, it helps when selecting a life mate" she said. "People look at your blood line and see who your ancestors are, if you have a good line then a mate will be more likely to bare strong children"

"This one is my mother" she said pointing out one of them at the bottom "she became a tribal elder and this one is her mother and so on, in fact you can trace my line right up to a paragon. Paragon Lady Tasuka, I'm good stock"

Aisha had a big grin..

"What's a paragon?" Jim asked.

"A paragon is an ancestor who has contributed to the C'Tari empire or our culture in a significant and or meaningful way, there are only one or two paragons in every generation of C'Tari" Aisha explained; "Paragons are usually only ornate after death, a living paragon is extremely rare"

"Why?" Jim asked.

Aisha stretched and he started copying her.

"A paragon is honoured and revered to C'Tari, they are our spiritual leaders, all C'Tari look to them to guide us and seek there wisdom, A paragons word and wisdom is valued even above an emperors that's an awful lot to put on a living person", Aisha explained.

"You mean a paragon could overrule the Emperor of the C'Tari?" Jim asked surprised as Aisha took a basic combat pose.

"Absolutely" Aisha said; "the people would follow the a paragon", she added starting some basic combat drills that Jim copied.

"Okay now Jim" Aisha said as she stood behind him, dropping to one knee to adjust his posture. "The most important thing about C'Tari fighting is your balance"

(0000)

Suzuka arrived in the Forrest clearing on the outskirts of Heifong, it was a fairly open area but was fenced by tree's of multiple types, mostly oaks but also willow and red Acers. Suzuka mused that it was a nice spot, at least if she was going to die it would be with nature around her not in the middle of urban sprawl.

Ritsuko was leaning against one of the trees.

"So you came", she said

Suzuka joined her.

"Of course, saves you the trouble of hunting me down" she said, taking the other woman's hand who returned the sign of affection clasping Suzuka's hand tightly.

"I thought you might run, part of me hoped that you would", Ritsuko said.

"I can understand that", Suzuka said; "is there no other way?"

Despite her calm and distant personality towards most events, Suzuka did not want to die.

"The rules are quite specific", Ritsuko said; "Sadly, life for life mine or yours, the code has to be satisfied."

"I just wish it didn't have to be you", Suzuka said sadly.

"Me too" Ritsuko said.

"Lets get this over with", Suzuka said pulling her friend gently into the clearing; reluctantly letting go of her hand as they each took a fighting stance.

"Ready?" Ritsuko asked.

"Ready?" Suzuka said nodding

"Ho, Ho, Ho" came a male voice.

It was then that Gene Starwind walked out from behind one of the trees with a cocky sway. Gene was dressed in his old outfit, black vest and cargo pants with large overcoat, he was holding an incredibly large barrelled weapon over his shoulder with a thick ammunition drum attached to it forward of the trigger, he had to be a shotgun of some kind Suzuka guessed. Over his shoulder was a rocket launcher attached to a two-point sling, wrapped around his waist was an old cowboy belt holster with massive .454 slugs tucked into the bandoleer loops, inside the holster on his hip was a large silver pistol; one that Suzuka had never seen before. On the other hip was his usual shot-barrelled shotgun, and she assumed he had a shoulder holster too that would each contain a semi-automatic pistol and his Caster Gun.

"Gene…what are you…" she started but he cut her off.

"Suzuka's life belongs to me", Gene stated, to the red haired woman' "I claim the right of substitution", Gene said.

"You would fight in her place?" Ritsuko asked.

"Life for Life. My Life, for hers" Gene began. "You kill me, her debt is paid, I Kill you and her debt is cleaned", Gene said; "That satisfy your code lady?"

"It would" Ritsuko nodded.

"Gene, you can't do this, you don't know what she is capable of doing", Suzuka protested.

"Never give up. Fight until the end. Always believe that you will succeed, even when the odds are against you even if I die. as a soldier I still win as long as I accomplish my objective" Gene said with a smile that seemed older than the universe; "Gene Starwind protects his women!"

Gene cocked his gun.

Authors Notes: This chapter has not been independently pre-read.