Author's note: This (shorter and lighter) fanfic got its start from a discussion I had with Stained Lace... As usual, all of the Matsumoto characters belong to Leiji Matsumoto. The Amish people I speak of herein may not be known to most; they are a religious sect of people who believe in a simpler way of life who originated in Europe and travelled to Pennsylvania due to religious persecution early in America's history. Any mistakes I make about them are borne of ignorance, not of intent. You'll meet "Doc" Thea Mallory better in "Eulogy." I hope I can do them all justice!
"Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes." ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden
Harlock was in his quarters with the five ladies of the Arcadia, some of whom held a pair of his usual uniform trousers in their hands, which totaled a number of three pairs. His arms were crossed over his bandaged chest wounds and he stood stiffly in their midst wearing his robe and underwear. It was hard to maintain a dignified posture, he mused, while attired in such a manner. Nonetheless, if he wanted help he would need to bend on some issues, he thought resignedly. He looked at each of them in turn, hoping for a miracle. Looking at their faces, his heart sank in his chest.
"Harlock," said Kei, "we need for you to get new clothes - your current trousers are worn out and you have just managed to skin through this pair on the last mission and it will have your knee showing on the left side, not to mention the seat of your pants have also been torn." She put her hand through a pair of his trousers and wiggled her gloved fingers through the gaping hole in the left knee guard area, and the seam in the back of the trousers, to demonstrate the futility of the project. "These will protect you not at all," she firmly stated.
Julia DeBeaupara held his tattered cape in her arms. She shook her head grimly. He had come so close to disaster this last time and only Harley had been in position to assist. She didn't like to think what might have happened if Harley hadn't been there. The cape had large gaping holes in it as well. While it had done its job of disguising his body position, it was now little more than shreds held together with the collar.
Masu shook her head sadly as she surveyed another pair of the black trousers with gold zippers that Harlock wore regularly in her lap. She sat in Harlock's high backed chair by the round table near the windows; Duranium scissors and needle and the battle fabric thread in hand, but with the frayed edges of the torn side seams and snagged zippers, did not hold out much hope for the current state of their disrepair. "I've repaired these three pairs of trousers for you so many times that I don't think that anything can hold them together any longer. Time to visit a tailor." She looked at both Kei and Miimee for support and then up at him expectantly.
Off to the other side, as Miimee held the third pair of trousers in her hands; inspecting the torn right pocket area and the inseam where his Cosmo Dragoon holster tie had worn through the tough battle fabric at long last. She shook her beautiful blue hair in dismay - how had he managed this? "These are ruined as well." She stated. She looked at him with her mysterious golden eyes and their impossibly long lashes.
He looked at all of them in disbelief. "New trousers?" He asked doubtfully. "Why can't we sew these back together?" He was inwardly groaning. If these could not be repaired, then he would have to brave a shopping expedition. He'd rather fight off an entire armada than do that! "I mean, they aren't all that old!" He exclaimed desperately, as he implored them with his hands held out to his sides, palms up in supplication. "Couldn't you take parts of one and fix the other two pairs?" He looked at them with hopeful eye(s).
All three shook their heads in unison. "No." Their statement brooked no argument and no discussion; not with five pairs of eyes boring into him with the truth.
Great, he thought moodily and re-crossed his arms on his chest. Now, how was he supposed to shop for trousers, await them being made and pass the time until all was completed? Not to mention finding a place and person that would make combat uniforms for tall, skinny, scarred, and one-eyed pirates; nor the safety issues involved with finding a tailor to assist in the project who wouldn't turn him in to the nearest authorities - in his underwear, no less. He sighed. He turned around and stared out the floor to ceiling French-paned Duraplast window in his quarters to the space scene outside that currently reflected the nearby silvery-blue, green, and pink nebula they were hiding behind.
Maya had made his uniform trousers for him and packed them in a case for him to be delivered by the Earth Resistance before he had embarked aboard the Arcadia five years ago. Since then, he had worn them day in and day out these past five years. How she had managed to make three sets of complete battle gear while sick and imprisoned had been a mystery to him, but Maya had always been very resourceful. His gaze softened. While he wore them he could pretend that he still had Maya with him. He still missed her, but the pain of her loss was more distant now and lessening for him.
Now, he had to consider replacement of his uniforms. He had used white jeans in the past to stretch out the time and durability issues, but they hadn't held up well under the punishment he gave his clothing. No, battle cloth was best; it deflected most shots and protected him in other ways as well. He stared out of the window. Who did he know that could do this for him? The Arcadia ladies could do repairs, but not a full construction. He also shied away from the idea of them measuring him for the garments. That was more contact than he wanted.
"Doc" Thea Mallory looked at the trousers she held considering the problem. It wasn't likely they could just march him into the nearest Mall and shop for trousers in a regular store. That would bring out the bounty hunters in droves and they would have to fight their way back out. Would Marina Oki have connections? She mulled this over in her mind and then discarded the idea. Harlock would hear no end of teasing from Warius Zero were they to ask for help from that quarter which would not be good for Harlock's mood. Maetel was off on one of her many adventures thwarting her mother's plans while seemingly assisting Queen Promethium. Emeraldas was currently in the third quadrant of the Hercules cluster working on the project there... AH! She had it!
"What about Widow Schulte?" She asked. The group looked at her, brightened and then looked at Harlock. He raised an eyebrow and turned to look at them, considering the idea. "Possible," he stated, "but we would have to find the fabric for her to use. And battle cloth is not available to just anyone." He considered what smugglers they had connections with. None he knew were capable of procuring the cloth.
Miimee cocked her head to one side considering the problem. "What about that neutral planet we visited two months ago?" She asked. "We were able to help them out so they DO owe us a favor or two." All the other ladies nodded their heads.
Harlock snorted and said, "True, but whether or not they believe they owe us a favor may be an entirely different issue." He shook his head ruefully. "Often we have helped people in the past and have received naught but curses in return. We would have to be extremely careful in order to not have a disaster on our hands. I don't want to lose someone over a stupid pair of pants!"
Kei said, "Maybe Widow Schulte would be willing to travel to the planet with us, buy the cloth and make them for you here aboard the Arcadia? No one could possibly object to a little old defenseless Amish lady shopping on a neutral planet." Everyone looked at her in amazement.
"Widow Schulte?" Mazu questioned thoughtfully.
"Travel?" Miimee echoed doubtfully.
"Aboard the Arcadia?" Harlock's other eyebrow joined its twin, high on his forehead, deep under his long, messy, and auburn-tinged brown hair.
"Perhaps if we bartered with her," "Doc" Mallory mused. Thea was a bit amused at the idea of Widow Schulte as being "defenseless," despite her firm religious beliefs of non-aggression. Ah, well, they would see!
Everyone looked at the others, down at the trousers and then up at Harlock. He considered the idea. He would need to travel to Earth, to the town of Bird-in-Hand in Lancaster, of the old state of Pennsylvania. He would need to personally talk with the Widow, and talk her into doing the project and obtain her son Jakob's permission. Then she would have to agree to ride on the Arcadia, away from her family for the time involved, do the projects and then be returned home, safe and sound.
Okay, he thought. Think it through. She was Amish, therefore wasn't likely to talk with "English" authorities unless directly questioned by them, liked "Plain" clothes and a "Plain" lifestyle, and since she wouldn't be required to pilot the Arcadia, she should be willing to just ride in the Arcadia - that wasn't against her beliefs - the Amish frequently got rides with their "English" friends. The Arcadia was, ahem, mostly plain black... one would, of course, have to ignore the flashy Death's-Head on the bow and the retractable, gleaming and indestructible Duranium ramming blade, quite a few cannon and Space Buster ports, the Grazers and other assorted armaments...
Widow Schulte had nursed him back to health after his adventures two years ago; feeding the Earth while it was under the thumb of the Illumidas. He had forgotten who he was for a while from his head injury, and she had made his clothes for him while he hid in plain sight during his recovery, as his usual garb wasn't exactly circumspect. He wasn't too certain how she would deal with the gold side seam zippers as they were not "plain," not to mention the whole skull and crossbones thing, but maybe she would give him a pass on that one as he was also an "English," he thought wryly, a German "English." He had never been able to fully convince her that he, too, was of German descent.
Of course, to her, the Illumidas were merely the "Green English." He snorted. The world around Widow Schulte could be exploding and disintegrating and she would merely look at him reprovingly and ask politely if "thee could manage less noise," then serenely go back to what she had been doing.
He had received an old style letter from her two months ago and hadn't had a chance to reply. He could reply in person. He grinned. This time around, he'd try to not barnstorm her son's hay barn... He marched over to the Com and called the Bridge, telling Yattaran that they were headed to Earth to an area once known as Pennsylvania.
He then walked into his largely bare, cavernous walk-in closet and pulled out of the sealed case his only other pair of trousers made of battle cloth; his red Captain's uniform from when he had served in Sol Fed Navy. When he had changed into Maya's garb, he had stored his Sol Fed uniform in the case she had packed his new pirate battle gear in. He pulled them on and was satisfied to see that they fit him still and were in fact, a bit loose in the waist. He pulled on his usual shirt, his black boots; stuffing the legs of the trousers into the boot tops. He slid his belt through the trouser loops, hooked his weapons and utility belt around his waist and holstered his weapons. He hung his robe in the closet and emerged.
The ladies of the Arcadia all raised their eyebrows as one as they stared at his garb. Black pirate shirt with the Death's-head emblem on the chest paired with his bright red naval trousers with gold piping on the side seams. Truly an ironic pairing, they thought with amusement. He cocked his head at them, aware of their thoughts, picked up his rather tattered cape from Julia and swung it over his shoulders as he exited his quarters.
Kei, Miimee, Julia, Thea and Masu looked at each other and smiled a bit. This might be a rather interesting adventure! Four of the ladies had heard about the Widow, and Harlock's adventures there, but this would be the first time they would hopefully meet her. Reportedly, according to Thea, the Widow had kept him in line and this was something that they wanted to see.
Harlock entered the Bridge of the Arcadia and mounted the bar, grasping the anachronistic ship's wheel of the Arcadia. Everyone on the bridge was staring at his bright red trousers paired with the worn black pirate's shirt and tattered cape - a very schizophrenic outfit. Tochiro was grinning and smirking. Sabu waggled his eyebrows at him and Harley openly laughed at the sight. Yattaran merely shook his head and picked up his model of the Yamamoto to inspect it. Harlock ignored all of them rather pointedly.
"Arcadia, Hasshin!" he commanded. The Arcadia leapt forward at his command and slipped between, along the spheres and strings of time and space, to the planet of its origin, Earth.