Disclaimer: I do not, nor will I ever own Outlaw Star or anything affiliated with said show.
It was a beautiful day on Symka 5 and Jim couldn't be happier. He'd met up with the purple haired girl named Hanmyo a few hours earlier and they'd had a great time exploring the space station together. He'd taken her to an electronic store and showed her the best items to buy for a ship/car/office/etc., and she'd shown him the difference between chiffon and satin…as well as numerous other clothing related tidbits that made him extremely grateful he was a guy.
Sadly it was starting to get late and he was finding himself reluctant to part ways with his new friend so soon. Looking up at the ceiling of the station that had been made to resemble the sky, Jim pulled his hands out of the pockets of his tan cargo pants to link them behind his head as he tried to think of a way to extend their time together.
His stomach growled moments later and he smiled brightly at the idea that popped into his head. Dropping his gaze to focus on the girl next to him, he watched the long billowy sleeves of her white outfit swing back and forth beside her as she danced about happily. "Hey Hanmyo." He called out.
Stopping mid skip, Hanmyo spun around to face him gracefully with a smile on her face. Brushing a stray lock of hair out of her eyes, she looked at him curiously.
"Well, um…" Jim began nervously. "I was wondering if maybe you'd like to join me for dinner." Scratching the back of his head, and tousling his brown hair even more, he continued. "I mean on my ship, with my crewmates. It's not exactly high class, but the food's pretty good and I'd really like to introduce you to everyone."
Hanmyo cocked her head to the side as she watched Jim tug at the neck of his red t-shirt, a small blush coloring his cheeks as he looked anywhere but at her. Covering a chuckle behind her hand she nodded, and then realizing he wouldn't see it, spoke. "I'd love to."
"Really?" Jim asked in surprise, a huge grin spreading across his face. "That's wonderful!" Grabbing her hand he began tugging her down the street. "I'm sure you'll have a great time. Sure, my friends can be a little…much…sometimes, but they're really nice once you get to know them. Well, maybe nice isn't exactly the right word." He muttered, rubbing a lump he'd gotten from Aisha that morning when he'd accidentally spilt his juice on her. Hey, she'd deserved it for using his favorite shirt as a rag.
Realizing he'd been babbling, Jim chuckled in embarrassment. "Sorry about that, I guess I'm just really excited. I tend to ramble on about things when I get like that."
"I think it's sort of cute." Hanmyo said shyly and Jim ducked his head in an attempt to hide yet another blush.
Silence settled over the pair and Jim couldn't help but feel things had gotten a little awkward between them. He tried several times to say something, but nothing seemed to come to mind and each time his mouth closed without a sound. In the end they reached the ship's dock without another word being spoken.
Stopping outside the door to the XGP Jim turned to face Hanmyo, releasing her hand in the process. "So…um…this is it." He said, nervousness creeping into his voice. "Do you still want to come in?"
Hanmyo eyed him strangely. "Of course, why wouldn't I?"
"Oh, well, I thought that…maybe…I don't know." He finished lamely. Rubbing the back of his neck, Jim shrugged. "Never mind, I guess I was imagining things." Turning around, he looked up into the camera that was located next to the door. "Hey Gilliam, want to let us in?"
"And who may I ask is this young lady?" The computerized voice asked back.
Pulling her to stand slightly in front of him so Gilliam could get a better image, Jim grinned. "This is my new friend Hanmyo. I thought that maybe she could join us for dinner."
"I see. Very well then, I shall input her into my database."
As the door opened, Hanmyo cocked her head to look at the boy beside her. "So Gilliam is the ship's A.I.?" Seeing Jim nod, she continued. "He seems nice."
Before Jim had a chance to answer there was the sound of something shattering followed by what appeared to be a growl coming from deep inside the ship.
Slapping his forehead with a groan, Jim shook his head. "Oh boy, this can't be good." He entertained the idea of asking Hanmyo to wait outside for a few minutes, just until he could figure out what the hell was going on and make sure it was safe to bring her inside, but she brushed past him before the thought was even completely formed. "Where are you going?" He questioned, following close behind her.
Hanmyo picked up the pace as she turned down one hallway and then another, closing in on the sounds. "Someone could be hurt, aren't you worried about what happened? These are your friends aren't they?"
"Well, yeah, but to be honest stuff like this happens a lot around here." Jim replied nonchalantly. "I'd be more worried if everything was quiet."
Turning down a final corridor they came at last to a small kitchen and dining area, Hanmyo's body freezing in shock at what she saw.
Glancing around her, Jim rolled his eyes at the scene before him. "Really Aisha, what did you do to Suzuka this time?" He asked with a snort as he watched the kimono clad bokken wielder press her wooden blade harder against the Ctarl-Ctarl's throat.
"She purposefully ruined my favorite blend of tea." Suzuka growled angrily.
"I did not!" Aisha snapped back, her cat ears pressed low against her head. "I was only looking for some of that tasty chocolate stuff Melfina makes, it's not like I dumped the chili powder into your tea deliberately. It was an accident!"
Suzuka's eyes narrowed and she made to step closer when Jim moved between them. "Hey you two, calm down will ya. You're embarrassing me in front of my guest."
Two sets of eyes flicked over towards the doorway and blinked at the young girl standing there. "Jim, who is this?" Suzuka asked as she slowly lowered the sword to her side. "I don't recall you saying you were bringing anyone back for dinner."
"I…well…it wasn't exactly planned." Jim attempted to explain. When Suzuka raised an eyebrow, he smiled sheepishly. "Anyway, I'd like you guys to meet my friend Hanmyo. I met her at the park yesterday. Hanmyo, this is Suzuka and the one licking her wounds over there is Aisha."
"What did you say brat?" Aisha growled playfully, pouncing on him and ruffling his hair affectionately.
Shoving her off, Jim looked over at Hanmyo when she remained quiet. "Hey, are you okay?" He asked worriedly.
Hanmyo stood there, eyes wide in shock and mouth parted slightly as if she was trying to speak. Looking from the tall black haired woman with a ponytail to the cat woman dressed in green and then back again, she finally found her voice. "Oh no." Seconds later she collapsed to the ground in a dead faint.
"…well, that was odd." Aisha said after several moments of silence had passed.
Jim ran to Hanmyo's side and dropped to his knees. Taking one of her hands, he gave her a gentle pat on the cheek and called out her name. "Hanmyo, are you alright? Hey, Hanmyo?" Noticing her eyelids fluttering, he breathed a sigh of relief. "Good, you're okay." He said as she slowly opened her eyes and focused on him. "I was worried there for a moment."
"What happened?" Hanmyo asked, rubbing the side of her head dazedly.
"You fainted." Suzuka stated from her seat at the table. She'd moved back to sit down shortly after releasing Aisha and was currently sipping her cup of horribly spicy tea.
Hanmyo moved to sit up and Jim immediately wrapped an arm around her for support. "That's right. I thought I saw something I couldn't possibly have seen and I guess it sort o-." She was cut off by another voice before she could finish.
"I told you we should've just paid the extra money. There's no way this cheap crap is going to even come close to what that guy was offering." Gene grumbled as he entered the kitchen, nearly tripping over Jim and Hanmyo in the process. Dropping the bags he was holding to keep from landing on his face, the redhead glared down at the bodies on the floor. "What the hell Jim, are you trying to get me kill-…" Trailing off, he eyed the girl in Jim's arms suspiciously. "Who is this and why is she on my ship?"
Every pair of eyes focused on them and Jim cleared his throat. "Um, this is my new friend Hanmyo. I didn't think you'd mind if I invited her to dinner."
Melfina, who hadn't said a word since entering, smiled gently at the nervous looking boy. "Of course not Jim. We'd be delighted to have a friend of yours join us." When Gene continued to stare at the newcomer, she flicked him in the arm. "Right?"
"Oh, yeah, right." Gene said finally.
Hanmyo, who'd been staring at the crew the entire time, gulped. When she'd agreed to have dinner with Jim, she'd never thought that he'd be a part of the crew of the Outlaw Star, the people she'd been sent to destroy at all costs. Now she was stuck inside their ship with no weapons and no way out. She was going to die, she just knew it. Blinking at the hand that was suddenly in front of her face, she followed the arm up to a smiling face surrounded by slightly unruly black hair.
"Hello there, my name's Melfina. It's a pleasure to meet you." The woman dressed in a white button-up shirt and black skirt said sweetly.
Deciding she'd better play along, Hanmyo took the offered hand and slowly got to her feet. She'd been warned that this particular crew was crafty and she knew she'd have to make sure to always be on her guard. No way were they going to get the better of her. Shifting her eyes from one person in the room to another, she scanned the room quickly and determined that other than the bokken, and of course the Ctarl-Ctarl's sharp claws, there appeared to be no other weapons present. If she could only keep them distracted enough, perhaps she could still get out of this alive.
Once she was on her feet, Jim led Hanmyo to the table and offered her a chair. "Here, why don't you have a seat. There's no point in standing around until the food's served." He said with a smile, which Hanmyo forcefully returned.
Things settled down some after that, Melfina moving to the stove to finish the meal she'd started earlier that day and Gene and Aisha joining the rest of them at the table. "So Hanmyo, where are you from?" Gene asked curiously as Aisha began to pick at her claws in boredom.
"…um…well…" Hanmyo looked around nervously as she tried to figure out how to answer the innocent sounding question. She was sure there was some ulterior motive to it and she didn't want to give anything away. "…here and there. I travel around a lot so I guess you could say I'm from all over the place." Pleased with her answer, she prayed the food would be finished soon so she could leave.
"I know what you mean. I moved around a lot as well. I guess that's pretty common though nowadays." Gene said with a nod. "So, what are you doing with a guy like this?" He asked, grabbing Jim and pulling him into a headlock with a grin. "Don't tell me the two of you are an item or something?"
Aisha's ears perked up at that and she jerked her head up quickly. "What's this, Jim's got a girlfriend? How sweet, our little boy's all grown up now." She cooed, patting his head. "So when can we expect a wedding invitation?"
Rolling his eyes Jim swatted the hand aside, but the blush was back full force. "Knock it off; you're going to scare her away."
"If her face didn't scare the girl, I doubt anything will." Suzuka said with a smirk, knowing the comment would anger the Ctarl-Ctarl and hoping for a chance to finish what they'd started earlier. Unfortunately, before Aisha had the chance to fully grasp what she'd said, Melfina appeared at the table with a large pot in her hands.
"Dinner's ready everyone." Mel said with a smile as she placed the pot in the center of the table and started filling bowls to pass around.
Grabbing his bowl, Gene licked his lips. "All right, stew!" He said happily, picking up a spoon and digging in before anyone else had even had a chance to get their food.
Shaking his head with a groan, Jim handed Hanmyo a bowl. "Please forgive his manners…or lack thereof. He has a one track mind when it comes to food."
"Actually he has a one track mind period." Suzuka said as she brought the spoon to her mouth.
Narrowing his eyes at the assassin, which got him a raised eyebrow in response, Gene turned his focus back to his dinner, choosing to ignore the comment in favor of devouring his food.
Hanmyo watched everyone at the table closely as she pretended to eat the food they'd placed in front of her. The Ctarl-Ctarl was wolfing down her meal at incredible speeds and was already on her third bowl. The assassin was taking measured bites; it almost appeared as though she was following some kind of routine. The bio-android had stopped eating long enough to wipe some noodles off the side of Gene's face with her napkin, and Jim kept looking over at her between bites and smiling softly. To the untrained eye everything seemed normal, but Hanmyo was a highly skilled member of the Anten Seven. She knew better.
As several more bowls were filled and passed back, Hanmyo was starting to feel like something was wrong. She wasn't sure what, but there was a nagging feeling in her gut that said danger was approaching. A conversation had started between Gene, Aisha and Jim, there was mention of some hot springs vacation, but she wasn't really paying attention. Suzuka had finished her stew and moved back to sipping her tea with a slightly glazed look in her eyes, and Melfina had stood up and started cleaning up the dishes.
Nothing immediately jumped out at her as being dangerous, but Hanmyo always trusted her instincts and right now they were screaming at her. Clutching the spoon tightly in her hand, it was her only weapon, her eyes darted around quickly, assessing everything around her in preparation for what was to come. Her heart started racing and she nearly jumped out of her skin when Jim suddenly spoke to her.
"Hey Hanmyo, we were going to start a game of cards. Are you interested?" He asked, head cocked to the side curiously.
"Yeah, come on, it'll be fun." Aisha added, grinning just wide enough to show off one of her sharp fangs.
Gene held up a deck of cards and smiled as he waved them back and forth. "You should join us. It really is a lot of fun."
Standing up, Suzuka grabbed her bokken and slid it into her red sash. "Well I think I'm going to get some reading done. Goodnight."
"Night." Melfina called from the sink.
All of these things seemed to happen in slow motion for Hanmyo and she couldn't understand what any of them were saying. The only things she saw were fangs, small boxes, and swords being wielded by dangerous foes. Raising the spoon in front of her face her eyes widened and her breathing became ragged. "Stay back!" She cried. "Don't move!" Waving the spoon around, she stumbled back as far as she could before a wall prevented her retreat.
Everyone in the room turned to look at her with varying degrees of surprise. "Um…are you okay?" Gene asked, moving his hand towards the table.
"I said don't move!" Hanmyo hissed, pleased to note that Gene's hand flew back up immediately. Aiming the spoon at Jim, who had started to stand up, she narrowed her eyes. "That means you too."
Sitting back down, Jim opened his mouth to speak, but Hanmyo cut him off.
"Now, be good little captives and tie yourselves together or I'll have to use force." She threatened, the spoon flicking from one person to another as she emphasized her point.
The room was silent for a few seconds until Aisha blurted out. "You'll force us with a…spoon?"
Looking down at the object in her hands Hanmyo's eyes widened in fear. "Oh no, I'm going to die!" Spinning around she bolted towards the exit, forgetting she'd backed herself against a wall. With a loud 'thud', she collapsed to the ground in a heap.
The crew of the Outlaw Star looked at each other, then over at the unconscious girl on the floor, and then back at each other without a word. Scratching her head, Aisha voiced the question that everyone was thinking. "What the hell was that all about?"
Rushing to her side and dropping to his knees for the second time in less than an hour, Jim gently pulled Hanmyo's head into his lap. "Hey, are you okay? Come on, answer me." He said, fanning her face with his hand in an attempt to bring her back to the land of consciousness.
"Here, I'll get you a damp towel." Melfina offered, rinsing her hands of soap and grabbing a dishcloth off the counter next to her.
With a shake of her head, Suzuka continued on her way. "There's never a dull moment around here." She muttered to herself as she left the dining area and headed to her room. That book she'd picked up earlier was sounding more appealing by the second. At least while reading she wouldn't have to worry about paranoid children threatening her with silverware.
When Melfina handed Jim the wet cloth, Aisha slowly approached Hanmyo's sleeping form and nudged her with her foot. When the girl remained still, she scratched at her ear and then shrugged. "Well I think I'll split too since there's nothing fun going on anymore." She said with an exaggerated yawn. She hadn't taken more than a couple of steps when Hanmyo's eyes began to open.
Releasing the breath he'd been holding, Jim smiled down at the girl in his arms. "Oh thank goodness, you're okay. I was afraid you might've hit your head a little too hard when you fell."
"I think I did." Hanmyo said, blinking to clear her vision. "I had this scary dream where I was surrounded by these dangerous people and they were all trying to kill me." Moving to sit up, she ran a hand over her face, pausing mid-motion as the people around her came into focus. "B-but, b-but it was just a dream…a dream!" She cried out, wrapping her arms around herself protectively.
Jim raised his hand to place it on her shoulder, but Hanmyo shoved it aside as she jumped off the ground. Shaking her fist in the air, she snarled angrily. "You'll never take me alive!" Then she bolted out of the room before anyone had a chance to say anything.
A few moments later the hiss of the ship's outer door opening was heard, and then the only sounds were those of Gilliam's bots as he prepared the ship for their departure the following day.
Blinking in surprise, Gene shook his head. "Man, you sure know how to pick 'em Jim." He said with a snort as he pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. "Cute and crazy, what a combination." Smirking, he slapped a very stunned Jim on the shoulder. "That one's definitely a keeper."
Staring at the doorway Hanmyo had all but flown through, Jim ran a hand through his hair in bewilderment. "…uh…huh?"