Badasses Of the Multiverse: Book 6: Volume 2: Chapter 02

Badasses Of the Multiverse: Book 6: “The Mexican, The Lawyer, And The Mechanic.”

Volume 2: “The Villains.”

Chapter 02: “Pirates and Robbers.”

By Paul Cousins.

Copyright Disclaimer: All copyrighted places, characters, items, and events, within the story, are held by their current owners. No profit is being made on this work of fiction.

(_)

Reality, Pedro and Lee's home reality. Date, it was Monday, and two days after Chang met with Balalaika in Chang penthouse office, after he had returned from his hunt for Pedro and Matthew. Place, the guest area, of the lobby, in a motel, in middle of the island city if De La Plata Podrido. Time, early morning, just after sunrise.

It was just after sunrise, in a partly cloudy name, with the air still cold, and the wind having a bite to it. Though, the day already showed promise of warming some, when compared to the previous night's low temperature.

Inside the eating area of the lobby, to a medium level motel, in the middle of the city of Plata Prodrido, the guests there were having a simple breakfast that was provided, as a courtesy, from the motel the customers were staying at.

The table by the back wall of the room of the building, there were a small continental style, breakfast set up.

On the table were an assortment of pastries, a selection of small cereal boxes. Slices of bread on a plate. With a pop-up electric toaster by the plate. A butter tray, with a block of butter, and a butter knife on it. An assortment whole fruits, in two large fruit baskets. There were pitchers of ice water, orange juice, apple juice, milk. By the pitchers of liquid, there was a hot pot of coffer, on a hot plate. And a small kettle of cream for the coffee.

Laid out in front of the foot and drinks, were porcelain bowls, plates, glasses, and coffee mugs. There were also an assortment of metal utensils, and paper napkins, on left corner of the table. And in the far right end of the table, where the table backed against a side wall, there was a small microwave that the customers could us.

Across from the back wall, from the table where the food and drinks were located, was a three sets of large windows that look out across the parking lot, and to the other side of the street.

Between the back wall, and the windows, were nine larger round tables, which set in three rows in length, and three rows in width, in a grid pattern

Each table has six armless, wooden chairs, with cushioned bottoms and cushioned backs.

Given it was a weekday, and the time of day, there were on four tables being used, by ten people, with an employee occasionally checking on the, to make sure the snack bar was full.

At a table, near the where the food was provided, sat two fair skin men. The two men were sitting across from each other, at the table they were at.

Two fair skin men. One of the men had a light complexion, while the other had a slightly dark skin tone due to tanning his skin. And both men were in great physical shape.

Both men were intentionally dress in nondescript clothing, which was pants, shirt, belt, and shoes.

While the two men ate their breakfast, they were discussing their plans on what they were going to do next.

The man with the tanned skin said, in a flat tone of voice, “Well, it is finally coming up. We are almost broke, Tony. Not that I am complaining. That last big job we pulled. Which I must say was a flawless work of art. Went to the good cause of getting your memory fixed.”

Tony inquired, “True, Herman. So, what do you want to do about it?”

Herman suggested, “That depends. We could always go home?

Tony casually responded, “I kind of like it out here. We don't have to worry about spies, or so-called do-gooders, coming after us. And if the heat for us gets to be too much, we just head to the next place we would like to go.”

Herman said, “That is true. And these seems to be an endless number of places we can go. Still, we need cash, or in this case gold, to pay for this lifestyle.”

Tony suggested, “So, why don't we just rob a bank?”

Herman casually commented, “Too cliche. We have both done that to death.”

Tony let out a small laugh. He then stated, “That is so true. Though, I heard this city has a casino. We could always steal from them.”

Herman said, “That could work. And the technology these non-superpowered realities use, are nowhere near as complicated as starktech. It would be a cakewalk.”

Tony commented, in a happy tone of voice, “I am already forming the plan in my mind.”

Herman pointed out, “So am I. But we need to do this low key. And we need to decide what to steal.”

Tony responded, “If we are going to go low key. Let us go all the way. We should just walk into their vault, steal what we want. And then walk right, through the front doors. Nobody would expect someone to do that one a Monday morning.”

Herman smiled, as he said, “You are right about that. And let's keep it simple. We still some of their gold and leave. Cash and jewels are to impractical to turn over for a profit. Given, we don't know any fencers out in this part of existence.”

Tony stated, “That is a good point. But, you are one of the best safecrackers out there. So, getting into the vault will be a breeze.”

Herman agreed, “That is true. And you are an expect computer hacker.”

Tony said, “Yes. I am. I will hack their computers to accept our fake IDs. Then, we will use our holoprojectors to walk all the way to the vaults. With the proper orders in their computers, to allow those on duty to allow us into their vaults, and walk out with the gold.”

Herman stated, “That could work. Still. We need an exit plan. In case we are caught, or walking out the front doors don't work.”

Tony responded, “No problem. I still have some explosives let from the last heist we pull. We can use those, and our car to get away.”

Herman replied, “Good. They are wonderful for demolition, but they will not hurt anyone nearby.”

Tony said, “Okay. That will be our, Plan B, for escape. Like the escape we did on that bank job in Zurich. A few realities away.”

Herman commented, “We wouldn't have had to escape that way, if I had known they did periodic thermo-scans.”

Tony replied, “Yea. But, we still got away with the loot.”

Herman stated, “Yes. We did. And we do make a great team.”

Tony agreed, “Yes. That guy, Bob, was right about that.”

Herman suggested, “I agree. Let us finish our breakfast. Head back to our rooms. Finalize our plans. Get changed into our working clothes. Head out to do the job. Get what we need. And then leave this reality behind us.”

Tony agreed, “Good idea. I will wear a long coat I have, over my professional clothing, we when check out. Given the weather, the clerk will not think anything of it.”

Herman replied, “As long as you are not wearing your mask, that should be fine.” He thought, 'And given that in realities like this, your mask, and my mask are far more well known than our actual faces. So, it is better to just go unmasked, for the most part.'

Tony said, “My thoughts, exactly.”

The two men then when back to eating the rest of their breakfast.

(_)

A few tables away from Herman and Tony, nearly the windows, sat George Benedict. George had his back to Tony and Herman, as he looked out at the window, in front of him.

As George ate his breakfast, he pondered what he was going to do next, in dealing with the job he was hired to do.

Among other things, George was dressed in a green short sleeved turtle neck shirt, light brown pants, with brown leather belt, black tennis shoes, and over his shirt was a black cloth jacket.

George took a sip of his coffee, from his mug. He then set down his mug, on the table, by his plate of food.

George looked out the window, at the parking lot, and street, in front of him. He saw a couple of cars drive by, as he thought, 'While this is not the best place I have stayed at. For the money I am paying, it is okay. The rooms, towels, and sheets, were clean. The bed and pillows are comfortable. I have hot running water for the shower and faucet. The toilet flushes fine. And the proper amenities are provided. For visit, where I am downplaying things. This is not bad.'

'And my little reconnaissance of the island, yesterday, was both good and bad, in a few ways. The good news is that everyone bought that I was just a tourist. It probably helped that I didn't have my camera with me. And I now know where everything is at. Also, the police are clearly not interested in newcomers, as long as they behave. That works wonderfully for me.'

'Still, the bad news is that the locals seemed a little cagey on some of the very vague questions I asked. It was next to impossible to get any information on the Devil's Hotel, and the Daiyu Palace Casino.'

'The only real information I have on the hotel was that the employees are happy there, and it is a wonderful place to visit.'

'And the information on the casino was even more sparse. All I know, was that the casino used to be a hotel, that was bought out, and renovated it into a casino, a few years ago.'

'Though, I always learned that both places have camera systems. With the casino also having a top notch security team.'

'The rest is hearsay and rumors. But interesting, hearsay and rumors.'

'Like this city itself, I cannot find any real records on either the Devil's Hotel, or Daiyu Palace Casino. I am not starting to realize why I was hired to look into this mystery. Because this puzzle just keeps becoming large, as I dig for more information.'

'Information, such as the rumors are that a group of foreign women moved into the hotel, a few years go. And that these women are top notch badasses that have taken out large groups of armed men, without breaking a sweat.'

'I don't know whether to be turned on, or terrified by these rumors.'

'And the casino rumors are even more fascinating. The casino was bought by a foreigner, gold. And the casino was renovated and opened in record time, of around a single month. If that is true, that would take quite a bit of money, some serious work, to accomplish.'

'Those that work in the casino employees are all foreigners. And unlike the hotel, I can confirm that none of the locals work there. Most of those employees are asian women. And none of the locals know anything about the pasts of either groups of foreigners, from the hotel, nor casino.'

'In addition, the locals stated that these two groups of foreigners are connected, but the locals I spoke with said they could not give me any details.'

'Still, I will take what I can get. As long as I do not attract unwanted attention, from my questions and actions, I will be fine. And attracting attention is something I need to avoid at all costs, while doing the job. But, in this line of work, unwanted attention can get me killed, very quickly.'

'Though, I did have check into this model, under my real name. Because, I could not get the proper paperwork for an alias, in the short amount of time I had. Fortunately, all my paperwork and permits, are in order, to stay here, in this country, under my real name.'

'But, I even if I get into trouble, it is a very small risk I will be traced back to this hotel.'

'Though, back on the topic of my job.'

'Along with this, a number of locals warned me that if I was asking questions, that I should not only stay away from the Devil's Hotel, and Daiyu Palace Casino, but also, a bar in town, named the Rats Nest, and an american style restaurant, known as the Last Resort Diner.'

'The locals mentioned the Rats Nest bar is regularly frequent that bar by some of the foreigners in question. Mostly, the women from the hotel...'

'Well, I didn't come here to drink. Experience has taught me that going to a bar, in a foreign town, is the fastest way to get in trouble. So, I will avoid the Rats Nest bar.'

'And the locals told me that the diner was connected to these foreigners in someway. But, they would not give me details. Since I am not paid to look into the diner, I will just avoid that place, as well.'

'After learning all this, I now understand the best, and safest, approach I need to take for my job. When it comes to the hotel and casino, I guess it is just going to be a stakeout style investigation.'

'I will take the car I rented, and I will spend time in the parking lot across the streets from both the Devil's Hotel main entrance. Then later, I will head to the parking lot across the street from the casino.'

'I will use my camera, with its telescopic lenses, to take photos of some of the more stranger people coming and going, from the front

'But first, I am going to have to wait for some auto stores to open. So, I can buy some windshield sun shades. I will put them around, on the interior of the windows of my car, to create a sniper blind, so no one can see me into my car.'

'I will also cut a small hole in both the front and back windshield sun shades. So, when I come to these parking lots, I can park at a different angle to these buildings, to decrease the chance of somebody becoming suspicious of my car.'

'And as an added safety measure, I will use some of my equipment, to attached my camera, at a fixed point inside my car, away from the windows. So, I can take these pictures of the entrances, to prevent myself from become tired at holding my camera.'

'Also, by anchoring my camera inside my car, and away from a window, but still angling the lenses to see out the holes, doing so will help prevent me from having to press my camera lenses against the door a window, to take my photographs, and risk my camera creating light reflections off the my lenses, to the outside, which might tip off someone by the entrances, that I am looking at them from across the street.'

'Fortunately, I have done these types of stakeouts a few times before, without a problem. So, I do not think I need to worry doing them, here.'

'And for right now, all I need to focus on is finishing my breakfast, and cup of coffee, while I enjoy the view to outside. As I wait for one of the auto shops in town to open, later this morning, so I can get what I need to begin my stakeouts.'

George then went back to eating his breakfast, and sipping his coffee, as he looked out of the window, towards the open world that awaited him, later that day.

(_)

A few hours later, the vendors of a food market in De La Plata Podrido were opening their booths for the day.

The food market was on a street, located on the northeastern part of the town, near the beach. The street was closed off to traffic, with both locals and tourists shopping there for food, and other ideas.

Just as the food stalls around them had opened up for the day, two figures appeared out of nowhere, in the middle of the closed off street, between the rows of vendors.

Due to the vendors being busy still setting up things, no one noticed the two people just appearing out of nowhere.

One of the figures was an old, but physically fit man. The man had tanned, leathery skin, due to age, and a lifetime of spending his days in the sun. The man had white hair that hung loosely, down to his shoulder blades.

The man wore a light black short-sleeved button up shirt, black leather gloves, darker leather pants, black leather boots, leather jacket and a black leather newsboy cap. The jacket was left open, and there was a large jolly roger pirate symbol in white, on the patch on the back of the black leather jacket.

His face was hidden by his sunglasses, and full, white beard, which went down to almost the bottom of his neck. And while his beard and hair were long, both were groomed, and nearly trimmed. And his mustache, the part of the beard around the top of sides of his mouth, were trimmed back.

Around the man's waist was a weapon belt. On his left hip was a scabbard, with a sheathed cutlass, which had an ornate hilt on it. On his right hip was a holster was a Colt MK IV series eighty model semi-automatic pistol. The pistol was modified to have adjustable sights, ivory pearl grips, and the outer steel had been blued, to give it a black finish. The pistol was based on the M nineteen eleven A one semi-automatic pistol. The pistol fired forty-five ACP rounds.

The man had a bullet loaded in the chamber, with the hammer cocked back, but the hammer safety was left on, Also, the pistol had a fully loaded updated magazine in it, which held up to eight bullets, instead of the standard seven bullets.

And on the left side of his weapons belt, behind his scabbard, he had an ammo holder that held two fully loaded ammo magazines for his pistol.

In his right hand, the man had what looked like a fleshy animal organ with wires, and trinkets, set into the organ. Though, the organ was not smelling, nor bloody. A such, holding the organ did not stain the man's black leather gloves. The man quickly stuffed the organ into his right side, outer, jacket pocket.

The other person, whom stood be the man, to his left, was a young, slender woman, with her head and body hidden by a red robe, and hood. She wore a light long sleeved brown blouse, brown pants, and black slippers.

As the two adults looked around, the woman sarcastically commented, in english, “You bring me to the most interesting of places.”

The man commented, in english, “Now Red, there is no need to complain. We will soon both find the people we are looking for.”

The man then pulled out an old compass, from and interior pocket of his coat.

The compass was inside an ornate wooden box, with metal trimming. The box also had a wooden top. The man opened the top of the box.

As the man looked into the box, what was inside the box was a compass. Though, as the man looked at the needle on the compass, the needle moved, and did not point north.

The woman noticed this, as she casually asked, “Do you have a heading?”

The man did not look at the woman, as he closed the compass, and he put it away in the pocket he had previously had it in.

The man said, “I believe so. And the first person we seek is this way. But first...”

Next, the man turned, and walked up to an apple vender, whose care was standing beside the man, to his right. With the women following behind him.

As the man and woman came to a stop in front of the cart, the vender look up at the man. The man then pulled out a coin, and toss it to the vender.

The vender caught the coin, and looked at it. The vender quickly realized what type of coin it was. He looked up at the man, as he said, in spanish, “Take all the apples you want.”

The man took one apple. He then turned, and walked down the street, as he started to eat the piece of fruit, in his right hand.

The woman reached out, from under her cloak, with her right hand, to pick up another apple, for herself.

The vender saw the woman's right arm and hand, was slender, thought the skin also had an orange complexion.

Given what the vendor had just been given, he did not saw a word, as he pocketed his coin.

The woman then turned, and follow the man. She began to eat her apple, while they continued walking down the street.

(_)

Two hours later, it was late morning. As the old man and the mysterious woman walked into the lobby of the Devil's Hotel and Resort.

As they entered the lobby, the music in the room change, as the speaker on the walls started to play the song, Ignition, by TobyMac.

(_)

At the moment, inside the restaurant and bar of the Devil's Hotel, Revy and most of her friends, were having an early lunch.

Besides Revy, and her friends, there were no other customers there, due to breakfast buffet being closed an an hour ago, and lunch rush not starting for at least another hour.

Those that were there were Revy, Rock, Dutch, Benny, Janet, Molly, Sarah, Kristina, Rebecca, Yukio, Aeryn, Violin, Roberta, Akira, Ranma, and Natsuru.

The reason that Yurika, Mikoto, Nodoka. Nor, the four toddler children. Shenhua's daughter Wenqian, Lotton's son Thomas, Sawyer's daughter Ivy. Nor, Violin and Aeryn's daughter Gilina. Were there, was that the three sisters had been given permission by the toddlers parents, to take them to a nearby playground, and they would be back, around noon.

The other adults trusted the three sisters completely, with the children. And Akira, Natsuru, and Ranma, felt that babysitting the four toddlers would would help their own three adult children mature a little more.

Also present in the Devil's Hotel restaurant Yolanda and Eda, whom were both invited by Dutch. And Hernan, whom was visiting Roberta, for lunch.

The only other person present in the room, was the hotel employee, Melanie. She stood behind the bar counter, as she used a rag to wipe down glasses, while she kept an occasion eye on the other people in the room.

Those present were sitting at the round tables, in the back, near the stage, where they usually sat. Each rounded table had six chairs place around it.

At the table, in the back corner, where the back wall, met the stage, sat Roberta, Hernan, Aeryn, and Violin. Roberta sat across from Hernan, while Aeryn sat across from Violin.

At a nearby table, Dutch, Benny, Janet, Ranma, Akira, Natsuru, and Yolanda, sat together. With Yolanda pulling a chair, from unused table by her, so she could sit with her friends.

By the table near Dutch, the five sisters, Kristina, Sarah, Molly, Rebecca, and Molly, sat together.

And at the table that was closer to both the bar counter, and the entrancement to the restaurant, than the other occupied tables, sat Revy, Rock, Eda, Shenhua, Sawyer, and Lotton.

And while Revy had her weapons in her shoulder holsters, she was keeping her promise to Hernan, by not consuming alcohol while armed. Instead, she was drinking a glass of lemonade with ice.

Also, Revy was not the only person in her group to have weapons on their person.

All of those present were had just finished their lunches, as they were continuing their various conversations at their tables. Their conversations were in english, given it was a language that everyone present knew well.

At the table Herman, Violin, Roberta, and Aeryn were sitting at, the four adults had just started talking about Roberta, Hernan, and his family's trip to see Garcia, at the Lovelace home.

Violins commented, “Hernan, I heard from the grapevine that you, Roberta, and your family, went to visit Garcia, at his home. I hope you guys had a great time.”

Hernan said, “It was fun.”

Roberta stated, “Things went well.”

Aeryn commented, “It is good that Hernan here was able to get a break from work, and get his wife and children, out of their home, some.”

Roberta said, “That is part of the reason I helped Hernan come up with this plan, for his entire family to take a vacation in Garcia's home.”

Aeryn complimented, “Well, it was a good idea.”

Roberta replied, “Thank you.”

Violin inquired, “Are there any plans for Garcia to come visit here?”

Roberta stated, “Actually, yes. There is. Meeting the Pena family seems to have been the needed push for him to arrange his schedule, to take some time off. He is planning to come here, soon, to visit his new family, and us, for at least a few days.”

Violin said, “Good. He could use a vacation, as well.”

Roberta said, “I fully agree.”

Aeryn inquired, “Hernan, how did your wife take the news about the truth?” She thought, 'Considering you were worried she might leave you, when she learned the truth about both you, and herself.'

Hernan answered, “Much better than Roberta and I expected.” He mentally reflected, 'Though, she wants to see the Black Lagoon series. But, that is a private matter.'

Aeryn asked, “So, how did the meeting between your family, and Garcia go?”

Hernan happily said, “Marvelously. In that the kids could have cared less about how we got there. Though, they had fun. While Maria, and Garcia got a long just fine. With Roberta and myself, having no problems with anyone.” He thought, 'Maria and Garcia seemed to hit it off very well. I think they will become very good friends. And after everything those two have been through, they could use some more friends.'

Roberta commented, “It was a very pleasant stay for everyone involved.”

Aeryn questioned, “How do they view each other?”

Hernan replied, “Much like Roberta, and myself. As siblings to each other.”

Aeryn commented, “I guess that is one way to look at it.”

Roberta said, “It works.”

Violin asked, “So, how did you kids handle the vacation?”

Hernan answered, “My children enjoyed our time at the Lovelace household. The pool at the Lovelace home was nice. And we got to finally show them Caracas, and some of the Venezuelan countryside. Something my wife and I have wished we could have done, years ago. Even though, this was in a different reality, and time, from this reality.”

Hernan thought, 'I am so happy that Antonio, Carmela, and Ramon, behaved themselves during our visit to the Lovelace home. And later this week, I plan to reward them, by taking, them, Maria, Roberta, and myself, out to eat, at a restaurant of their choosing.'

Violin questioned, “That is good. So, how did you all handle traveling across realities?”

Hernan stated, “It was fine. The children don't yet know about the fictional issue. Though, they do know they did travel between realities, with a little time travel mixed in. While Maria and I handled it in stride. And everyone is fine with traveling across realities. It also helped that Roberta here returned us home on the same day we left. And since we left out Saturday, we were able to enjoy Sunday, as well.”

Roberta smiled at Hernan, as she kindly said, “It was the least I could do for my brother.”

Hernan returned Roberta's smile, as he happily replied, “Thank you, sister.”

Violin pointed out, “Okay. I hope you explained to your kids on the importance of keeping on this all a secret.”

Hernan said, “Maria and I told them to keep the reality travel, and information on their new relatives, secret.”

Aeryn questioned, “Are you sure they will comply?”

Hernan flatly replied, “My children will not speak in public, on matters we tell them to not to talk about. They will keep quiet.”

Roberta thought, 'Hernan is clearly starting to become annoyed with these questions. And I am not far behind him. It is best that I change the topic of this conversation. And there is a topic that I wish to discuss with both Aeryn and Violin.'

Roberta asked, “Aeryn, Violin, what is it like to be a parent of a young child, again?”

Violin casually said, “Same old. Same old.”

Aeryn stated, “What my husband says is true. But, this time, we known what to look forward to. And Gilina should not give us any surprises, like when we raised our son, Little Dargo.”

Violin commented, “We did pretty good with him. And he, and my younger my brother, are running a nice, successful business.”

Aeryn said, “And that is why I do not mind raising a second children.”

Violin replied, “I understand, dear.”

Hernan stifled a chuckled, as he commented, “Wait until Gilina grows up a little bit. I have found raising a daughter is very different, than raising a son.”

Violin said, “Perhaps. But, I remember both my childhoods. And while there were differences, they were not that different.”

Hernan stated, “That is because you remember those from the child's point of view. Wait until you experience the differences from the parent's point of view.”

Roberta and Aeryn giggled a little at Hernan's comment.

Violin conceded, “Okay. You have a point there.”

Roberta inquired, “I was also wondering. Given you have both been pregnant and given birth. What are your views on pregnancy?”

Violin and Aeryn said two comments at the same time.

Violin said, “Too quick.”

Aeryn said, “Too slow.”

Roberta held back a laugh, as she thought, 'Aeryn pregnancy was very quick. While Violin was pregnant for around nine months. I guess like everything else. When is comes to pregnancy, the opinion, if it was good or bad, depends on the person that goes through it.'

Meanwhile, Hernan commented, “I find that a bit funny.”

Violin agreed, “So do I. I take it that you have seen our series?”

Hernan stated, “Yes. I always wondered what those that produced the Farscape series were on, when they made that series.”

Violin commented, “I sometimes wonder that, as well.” She turned to Roberta, as she inquired, “Let me guess. The reason you are asking this, is that you are thinking about finally having some kids of your own?”

Roberta admitted, “Meeting Hernan, and his family, has made me think about it, again. Though, I am in no rush. And I have brought up the subject with Garcia, and Fabiola. It has been years since the three of us have talked about.”

Violin responded, “Fair enough. Just keep in mind that raising even one child is a big commitment.”

Roberta calmly said, “I realize that. I am just not sure I am ready.”

Violin stated, “No one is ever truly ready to have and raise children.”

Hernan agreed, “Violin, is right about that.”

Aeryn said, “Violin, and Hernan, are both correct on this matter.”

Roberta responded, “Okay. Still, I am just thinking about it. As I said, there is no rush.”

Violin complimented, “That is a good approach to take.”

Just then, two mysterious individuals casually walked into the restaurant, from the hallway entrance.

From across the room, Revy was the first noticed the two people. She saw one of them was an old man in black leather biker clothing, while the other was a smaller woman that was shrouded in a red cloak and hood.

Revy saw the man and woman come to a stop, just inside the entrance to the restaurant. They standing side by side, with the man to the woman's right side. The man then used his right hand to pull something out of an interior coat pocket. Revy saw that it was a box.

With her enhanced eyesight, she could see that the box was wooden, with metal trimming. The man flip open the box's top. Look a little long at what was inside the box. Next, the man look in her direction. A second later, the man looked back down at the box. After which, he flipped closed the box, but held it in his hand, as he and the woman then started to walk in their direction.

Revy continued to watch the two newcomers, as she thought, 'Well, this is interesting.'

Revy then looked over at Melanie, to see that the bartender had put away the rag, and glass, in her hands. The brown haired woman looking at the two individuals, but she was not saying, or doing anything towards the two newcomers.

Revy thought, 'Melanie is going let this play out. Not that I blame her. She knows we can take care of ourselves.'

Revy turned back to look at the man and woman that was approaching them.

Beside her, Eda then noticed the two people, as she said, in a slightly loud tone of voice, to get everyone's attention, “Hey guys. Heads up. We got two strange people coming towards us.”

Everyone turned to look at the old man and the mysterious woman that were walking towards them.

While they all continued looking at the two strangers, Rock said, “Look's like we have trouble.”

Lotton commented, “Story of our lives. And if this is trouble, I am glad our children are not here.”

Beside Lotton, Sawyer replied, “I fully agree.”

Sitting on the other side of Sawyer, Sawyer said, “I do, as well. And our children will be safe with Nodoka, Mikoto, and Yurika.”

Lotton commented, “True. Given their abilities, powers, and personalities, it would take a lot to even present a danger to them. And I am sure they would protect our children, and other children, with their lives.”

Sawyer said, “That is what I hope, as well.”

Eda asked, “So, who is going to find out who these two are?”

Rock said, ““Let us allow them to make the first move.”

(_)

Nearby, Yolanda looked at the two newcomers, as she thought, 'And old man and a young woman. That is strange. And from the looks of their body language, they are not a couple. This just makes them even stranger. Still, it is best I not mention this, and let things play out. If there is trouble, the others here can clearly handled matter, themselves.'

(_)

A few seconds later, the two individuals came to a stop in front of the table that Lotton, Shenhua, Sawyer, Revy, Rock, and Eda, were sitting at. The man then looked down at his compass, then over to Revy, while the mysterious woman, robed in red, remained silent.

While continued to look at Revy, the man greeted them, in a warm friendly tone of voice, in english, “Greetings ladies. I have come a long way, in search of an old, dear friend. This person is an amoral, manipulative, selfish, greedy, foolhardy corsair, with a wicked sense of humor.”

Rock commented, “That doesn't sound much like a friend.”

The man quipped, “Those were my friend's good traits.”

Revy asked, “Well, with this group, you would find more people here with those traits, than without. Still, what is so important about this person?”

The man explained, “While we were not related, my friend was like a sibling to me. And as I have grown older I have come to appreciate the time I had with him. And like most siblings, half the time I wanted to kill him. And the other half, I cared about him, like a brother.”

Sawyer commented, “Before we go any further. I don't think you are going to get much help from us. You need to be aware, we are not normally a friendly group.”

The man turned to Sawyer, as he replied, “Neither am I. Normally. I guess we are both making exceptions for today.”

Revy was began to get annoyed with the man, as she warned, “Do not make me pulled out my cutlasses on you?”

The man turned to back to Revy, as he asked, “I don't see any cutlasses?”

Revy said, “I mean my pistols.”

The man said, “Oh... Those are not cutlasses.” The man then swapped out his compass, to where he held it in his left hand, with his right hand now free. Next he used his right hand unsheathed his sword with his right hand. He cracked a grin, under his beard, as he stated, “Now, this is a cutlass.”

Shenhua said, “A man as old as you should have a walking stick, instead of a sword.”

The man looked over at the Shenhua.

Shenhua could literally feel as the man stared into her eyes from behind his shades. She then noticed him look down at his box, in his left hand, and back up at her. He used the left side of his jacket to close the lid to his box. Next, he placed in compass in an interior jacket pocket, opposite to the pocket he had pulled it from.

The man continued to look at Shenhua, as he asked, “Interesting. And who are you, my dear?”

Shenhua answered, “I am Shenhua of Taiwan. And I am an expert in the use of bladed weapons.”

Rock stated, “Fair warning. She also has a super-soldier serum in her body that enhances her physical abilities.”

The man turned to Rock, as he complimented, “Thank, young lady, for that information. It would not be the first time I have fought such people.” The men turned to Shenhua, as he offered, “So Shenhua, would you be willing to have a little sparring match? It is so rare that I get a chance to meet someone skilled with a blade, in this day and age.”

Shenhua smirked, as she replied, “Sure. But, don't blame me if I accidentally kill you.”

The man quipped, “Lass, death holds no mysteries, nor fear, for myself.”

Shenhua commented, “I guess at your age, it wouldn't.”

The man said, “That is one way to look at it.”

(_)

Meanwhile, as Shenhua and the old man had their conversation. Along with everyone else in the room. Hernan and the three women at the table of he was sitting at, were looking at the newcomers.

Hernan looked at the man more closely. He then realized who the man was. He turned to Roberta, Violin, and Aeryn, as he inquired, “You girls don't realize who it is? Do you?”

Aeryn and Roberta shook their heads. Violin answered, “Nope. But, I got a feeling this fight is going to be good.”

Hernan cracked a grin, as he said, “Only one way to find out.” Hernan turned his head towards the two newcomers. He spoke a bit more loudly, so his voice would carry across the room, as he interrupted Shenhua and the old man's conversation, as he asked the man, “Hey, old man. Is your name Hector?”

The man turned to Hernan. The man had a smile on his lips, as he stated, “Aye. That is my name. Though, very few people know me by my given name.”

Hernan returned Hector's smile. He stated, “Twenty U.S. dollars on Hector, against Shenhua.”

The others were surprised by this by Hernan's open bet against Shenhua.

Roberta asked, “Okay. What is the angle, Hernan?”

Hernan turned to Roberta, as he said, “No angle. Let me whisper who Hector is. So you all can make a quick buck to.”

Roberta, Aeryn, and Violin, stood up, and leaned over the table, toward hear Hernan whisper something, as softly as he could, to them, so that the others would not overhear what he was saying, even with their enhanced hearing.

Roberta, Aeryn, and Violin's jaws dropped in unison.

As the three women collected themselves. They leaned up and set back down in their chairs.

Hernan and the three women turned to face Hector.

Roberta stated, “I will also be betting twenty dollars for Hector.”

Violin looked over at Aeryn. Aeryn noticed this, as she turned to Violin, and nodded once towards Violin.

Violin and Aeryn turned back to look in Hector's direction. Violin commented, “Aeryn and I place a single twenty dollar bet that Hector will win.”

(_)

At a nearby table, Dutch noticed this, and even with Hernan's efforts, she was about to hear enough of his whispering to put the pieces together.

Though, the others at the table, had not been about to do so.

Benny turned to Dutch, as she inquired, “So, do we take this suckers bet?”

Dutch turned to Benny, as she answered, “No. Because I also know who Hector is. Shenhua is about to get her ass handed to her.”

Janet looked over at Dutch, as she asked, “Who is he?”

Dutch smiled, as she looked at Janet. She said, “You'll find out soon enough.”

At their table, Ranma commented, “I find it interesting that the new guy figured out something that we have not.”

Yolanda calmly stated, “Everyone has a unique point of view on life. It is possible that Hernan's experiences here has gifted him with insight which we do not have.”

Natsuru complemented, “Those are wise words.”

Yolanda replied, “Thank you.”

Akira said, “Either way. This coming dual looks like it is shaping up to be entertaining.” She thought, 'I just hope neither of them are seriously injured, nor killed. Though, I might as well get this out of the way...'

Akira stated, “I will bet twenty dollars for Shenhua, against the eighty dollars for Hector.” She thought, 'Someone has to cover the bets, and this is chump change for us. Beside, Shenhua is my friend, so I might as well support her.'

Revy heard Akira's statement, as she thought, 'I don't know what is going on. But, it is clear that Hernan has inside information. So, I am going to play it safe. Though, I am glad that Akira is willing to come forward and cover the bets. Now, to find out what the others think of this matter?...'

Revy turned to those at her table, as she asked, “Do any of you want to place a bet?”

Shenhua stated, “It would be in bad luck for me to do so.”

Sawyer commented, “My gut tells me not too.”

Lotton said, “I don't want to risk upsetting Shenhua.” She thought, 'I do not want to be the one assigned to diaper duty, by myself, for a week.'

Rock said, “I have no interest in betting on this fight.”

Revy stated, “I think I will stick this one out also. Still...” She turned to the table with her five daughters, as she asked, “How about you five?” She mentally added, 'We need someone to cover the difference on the bet. And it will also teach them a lesson, on paying attention to their surroundings.'

Molly said, “We will each kick in ten dollars for Shenhua.”

Revy replied, “Okay.” She thought, 'At least Akira won't have to cover all the losses, if Shenhua loses.' She turned around to face Shenhua, as she happily said, “Good luck Shenhua.”

Shenhua said, “Thank you.”

Shenhua stood up, as she pulled out her two long knives. Given this was to be a casual fight, at close range, she decided not to pull out and place her cords on the bottom of the hilts of her weapons. Because doing so might hinder her fighting in close quarters.

While Shenhua stood, and turned to look at Hector, she thought, 'I am glad I already bought replacements for my long knives So, I could immediately replace the one that Hernan destroyed.'

'Though, I was not foolish enough to try to make Hernan pay for it. I would prefer to stay on the good side of that entire family. Because I know someday, his children are likely going be as badass as he, and his sister, Roberta are. And I would like my children to grow up to be friends with them.'

'It will be nice to spar with someone. Hector looks like he knows what is doing. I am going to be disappointed with him, if he does not know how to use his sword. Also, I am glad I decided to no longer wear high heels, and instead just flat soled, red slippers. I am not trying to impress my friends. So, I don't need to worry about any balance issues.'

Meanwhile, Hector continued to hold up his sword, as he turned to his mysterious friend in red. He playfully requested, “Red, please go stand by the bartender. She looks lonely.”

From under her red hood, the mysterious woman giggled a little, in response to her friend's request. She then turned, and she quickly sprinted across the room, to stand by the bar counter, and across from Melanie. The woman had her back to the bar counter, and she was three feet to Melanie's right side, to allow the bartender to continue to see what was going on.

For her part, Melanie decided to ignore the woman, as she watched Shenhua and Hector start to walk out into the open space between the tables and the bar counter. Though, the two adults walked away from Melanie and the woman by her, and instead came to a stop, closer to the entrance to the restaurant.

Shenhua and Hector came to a stop ten feet from each other.

Melanie thought, 'Fortunately, there is enough room between the tables and bar counter, to do this. Though, there are a few matters we need to clear up, before they start.'

Melanie warned, “I am letting you to do this. But, your swords and knives only. No throwing, nor projectile weapons. Also, if you destroy the furniture this fight immediately ends. And any survivors are responsible for cleaning up any possible blood stains on the floor and furniture.”

Shenhua and Hector turned to looked at Melanie.

Shenhua replied, “I can live with that.”

Hector commented, “That works for me.”

Both combatants then turned to face each other.

Shenhua said, “Any time you are ready, old man.”

Hector took on a one-handed sword style, with his right hand firmly on his sword, while the right side of his body faced Shenhua. He stated, with sarcasm dripping from his voice, “Lady's first.”

Shenhua did not bother to verbally reply, and instead she just came at him.

What happened next could only be classified as two master blade fighters of different styles, clashing against each other, for dominance.

Shenhua was like crashing waves, with her two blades coming towards on him, from several angles. Though, time after time. As she continually moved around Hector, forwarding the old man to continue to turn, to keep his right side to Shenhua.

On the other hand, Hector was like a rock, against Shenhua waves. Hector rarely moved from the spot as which he was standing. Each action, whether is was to block, parried, or attack, was carefully measured for maximum effect with minimum effort and strength.

Though, for a few exceptions, the only times Hector moved was when he was forced to turn, to make sure only his right side faced Shenhua. Or, for him to get better footing for his own strikes, against Shenhua.

Each time Shenhua came at Hector, the man forced the asian woman to feint back, over and over.

Neither opponent relied on strong blows. They both preferred short, swift movements in their strikes, and parries. Instead of stronger, longer blows, which might left them open to overreaching, and exposing their defenses.

And while Hector's blade was longer than Shenhua's kukri long knives, giving Hector the advantage in reach, Shenhua was extremely agile, and when combined with her having two blades to Hector's one, the fight was very well balanced.

Their fight continued for the next few minutes, as everyone watched in silence. The only sounds were metal clanging against each other.

Revy watched with the others, as she thought, with astonishment, 'Now, this is a fight. And from what sparing I do with Shenhua, I don't think she is holding back. But, from the looks up it, I think Hector is.'

Over time, everyone could begin to tell that Shenhua was growing impatient. By all accounts, she knew she should have already beating him, but she hadn't.

Shenhua has started to sweat a little, while man had showed hardly any sign of exertion.

Then, Shenhua made a mistake, as she lunged at him, she overextended herself.

Hector saw the opening and turned his body in a counterclockwise motion away from the attack, as he moved the angle of his sword.

A second later, Shenhua felt the cold blade of Hector's cutlass across the front, right side of her throat.

The blade of Hector's sword had not cut Shenhua, but she know only a master swordsman could pull off a move, without harming their victim. And she knew the duel was over, with her the defeated opponent.

Hector calmly said, “Yield.”

Shenhua dropped her weapons, to show that she admitted defeat.

After doing so, Hector withdrew his weapon, and he sheathed his weapon into the scabbard to the left side of his waist.

Shenhua turned around to face Hector.

Hector looked at Shenhua, as he complimented, in a calm tone of voice, “Lass. Do not feel bad. The only thing you lacked in defeating me was the wisdom of age, patience, and few more years of fighting experience. I spent a lifetime fighting people every day with this sword. You likely have had nowhere near that experience. But, you have potential. Would like me to teach you?”

Shenhua continued looked at Hector, as she realized that she was getting a once in a lifetime chance to learn from a true grandmaster of a blade. She said, “Yes.”

Hector happily responded, “Good. We will start today, or maybe even tomorrow. I will check into this hotel, and we will finalize the details, later. But, for now, I have to help my friend, find her friend. That is after I finish meeting with my own friend.”

Shenhua said, “I look forward to your instruction.”

Hector requested, “As you should. Also, I would like to talk to you with in private, after I concluded my business here.”

Shenhua nodded, as she said, “I am more than welcome to listen to what you have to tell me.”

Hector replied, “That, I am sure of.”

Shenhua picked up and put away her weapons. After which, she turned and walked back to the table with Revy, Lotton, Sawyer, Eda, and Rock, as she sat back down in the chair.

Shenhua noticed that everyone was still looking at Hector.

As Shenhua turned back to look at Hector, Lotton complimented, “That was a good fight.”

Shenhua continued to look at Hector, as she replied, “Thank you.”

Sawyer commented, “It was wise of you to take him up on his offer.”

Shenhua agreed, “Yes. He is good. Better than me. And to learn from him is an offer too tempting to pass up.”

(_)

Meanwhile, Hector turned and he walked over to the bar counter.

When Hector reached the bar counter, he stood by his mysterious friend, to his right. He then used his right hand pulled out a coin, from his right pants pocket, while he turned to Melanie. He tossed a coin to brown haired woman, as he ordered, “Lass. A bottle good rum. Please.”

Melanie caught the coin in her right hand. She looked at the coin. She quickly realized what it was. She looked back over at Hector, as she said, with surprise in her tone of voice, “This is spanish dobla gold coin.”

Melanie pocketed the coin, as she thought, 'This coin is going into my personal collection. This coin is in near mint condition. If this is real, I could buy this restaurant twice over with it. I will pay for the bottle of rum with my own money, after everyone leaves. And I do not know who this man is, but I am going to keep him happy, in case he tips like this, again.'

'I wonder what song played when these to entered the lobby? Though, I am not going to ask. It would be rude. I will ask the staff about the song, later. Yet. Given how cryptic these song connections can be. I doubt I will find anything out, about them, that way.'

Hector commented, in a matter of fact tone of voice, “Of course it is. Now, my rum.”

Melanie swiftly walked over, and pulled out a bottle of good rum, from the shelf behind her. She then turned back to Hector, as she handed the bottle to Hector. She said, “Let me know if you need anything else.

Hector took the bottle, as he let out a little chuckle. He thought, 'This woman clearly knows how valuable that coin is, in this era. And this is a quick way to make friends with a bartender.'

Hector replied, “I will.”

Hector opened the rum, dropped the cap on the counter, and took a gulp from it, straight out of the bottle, without gagging. He then set the bottle of rum on the bar counter. He looked back over at Melanie, as he complimented, “That is some good rum.”

Melanie said, “Thank you. You pay for top quality rum, you receive top quality rum.”

Hector cracked a grin, as he stated, “That is what I want to hear.”

(_)

Nearby, sitting at a table, Rock looked at Hector and the mysterious woman standing by him. She thought, 'Since at least one of them can handle Shenhua, we need to find out who these people are. Because they can clearly cause a lot trouble. If they wanted too.'

While still sitting down, and facing Hector's back, Rock requested, “Who are you really, Hector?”

Hector turned around to look at the women, as he answered, in a casual tone of voice, “Well, most people do not know me as Hector. I usually go by my family name. I am sure you have heard of it. That name being Barbossa.”

Dutch, Roberta, Violin, Aeryn, and Hernan starting laughing, as the rest of those there, save for Barbossa, and his mysterious friend, all stated, in not so many words, “Captain Hector Barbossa of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies?!”

Barbossa smirked towards the women at the tables, as he gloated, in a happy tone of voice, “I loved watching those movies. I think they truly captured my villainy.”

As everyone started to calm down, Rock was the first to speak, as she asked, “How did you get here?”

Ranma commented, “Yea. Reality travel technology is a little more advanced than what you had in your time.

Barbossa said, “Very true. And to answer your questions, ladies. And was little bit of magic and technology that got me here.”

The mysterious woman to Barbossa's left, coughed, to get his attention.

Barbossa stopped talking, as he turned his head towards her. He then looked back at the women and man, in front of him, as he went onto say, “I mean us. And it is a long story. But, given you know this much, I might as will tell you a few details.”

“It all started soon after my last meeting with Jack Sparrow.”

Akira asked, “How did it end?”

Barbossa said, with a bit of sadness in his tone of voice, “While I am not sure of his reasons. Jack ended up getting himself hung in Caracas. I guess Jack's luck finally ran out.”

Barbossa then noticed Revy shift a little in her seat.

Revy, herself, noticed her involuntary reaction. She thought, 'Why did I just suddenly tense up as Barbossa mentioned Jack Sparrow's death?'

Meanwhile, Barbossa continued, “Anyway, I and my men went to port, in a friendly island to pirates, and while we were there, for the night, we were attacked this blue metal monster.”

Rock thought, 'That was probably a combat boomer. Likely one of Chang's. From years ago. But, Barbossa, and his friend, do not need to know that. Knowing this would only cause trouble, if they did.'

Barbossa stated, “Fortunately, after a glorious battle, we slew the beast with repeated cannon fire. Afterward, I took the corpse of the headless beast to a fellow mystic, whom was able to find this inside its innards.”

Barbossa used his gloved right hand to reach into his right outer jacket pocket. He then pulled out the organ that had wires and trinkets on it. He held it out for everyone, even Melanie, whom was standing behind him, to see. Next, he turned back to the crowd, as he pocketed the organic device back into his right outer jacket pocket.

Kristina asked, “What is that?”

Lotton turned to Kristina, as she answered, “That is the reality device used in a boomer. It has organic covering the inorganic parts, like much of a boomer insides are. Though, I see this one has some things attached to it.”

Kristina looked over at Lotton, as she replied, “Oh.”

Kristina and Lotton then turned back to look at Barbossa.

Lotton saw Barbossa was looking at her, as he said, “Well, lass. Thank you for letting me know what that beastie was called.”

Lotton thought, 'I think I just misspoke. And I hope he doesn't put the pieces together, on how I knew all that. Still, the man is direct, so as long as I am not stupid, I should be fine.'

Barbossa then looked around the crowd, as he stated, “Be that as it may. To continue my story. The mystic told me that other monsters would come for me if I did not flee. I asked how far. The mystic said that they would track me to the ends of the earth, and beyond. Though, the mystic said that there was a solution.”

“The mystic pulled out the object I just showed you, and the mystic used some magic to make it work. When I tested the object, I suddenly found myself somewhere else in time and location. I quickly realized I could go anywhere I dared to dream. After visiting parts of the present, past, and future, of my own reality. And learning much as I could. I soon decided to go further.”

“Sooner after learning of the possibilities of space travel. I wanted to see what pirates in space would be like. And I when I used my totem, I found that I had traveled to a completely different reality, and I met, of what your time calls aliens and space fleets, across more stars than I could count. This is where I met my friend here.”

Sawyer questioned, “I find it interesting that given you are a pirate of a less technological age, that all this technology doesn't bother you?”

Barbossa stated, “I have always been one who enjoys seeing new things, and going to new places. That is one of the reasons I become a sailor, in the first place. Long before I became a pirate. And I am always open to using new technology. Such, as my pistol here.” He used his right hand to brushed against his holstered pistol, that was on the right side of his belt.

Barbossa continued, “Though, to be honest. Of all the things I have seen. All these new technological wonders. The technological advances I have enjoyed more are indoor plumbing. Such as showers and toilets. Something I am sure you ladies appreciate more than I.”

Several of those in the crowd laughed a little.

As they calmed down, Ranma then noticed that Barbossa had two legs and feet. She looked up at the old pirate's bearded face, as he pointed out, “Hold on. Didn't you lose a leg?

Barbossa turned to Ranma, as he stated, “Aye. And that goes with the point I am making. And concerning my lost right foot and leg. I received a wonderful replacement in my friend's reality, that works just as well.”

Barbossa then stomped his right boot once on the floor. Next, he continued, “Along my need body parts. I underwent some rejuvenation therapy that will likely extend my lifespan for another twenty years.”

Barbossa turned to the bottle of rum, as he commented, “Even my liver is in better shape, than it has been in several decades. Allowing me to enjoy some of the better things in life.”

Barbossa looked back to his friend, as he said, “Now, before you asked your next question. Let me introduce you to my friend. And do not be alarmed. She is an alien. But, a very nice one. She is a Togruta. Her name is Ahsoka Tano.”

Ahsoka pulled off her hood, and slightly open the loose front of her cloak, to reveal herself.

They saw Ahsoka's orange colored skin, two white and blue stripped montral horns going up the sides of her head, and white and blue stripped lekku head tails, with gray stripes, on the top of her head. Of Ahsoka's three lekku head tails, two draped down the back of her head, and onto the front of her shoulders, and over her large breasts. While the center head tail draped down the middle of her back, to her shoulder blades.

Under her red hood and cloak, Ahsoka wore a light long sleeved brown blouse, brown pants, and black slippers.

And though Ahsoka looked much like she did when she was younger, as a teenager. Much like Fabiola, Ahsoka had become much more beautiful, and physically mature, as she reached adulthood. With Ahsoka still remaining in top physical shape.

The crowd also noticed that Ahsoke had two lightsaber hilt strapped to her belt, one each side of her hips.

Revy let out a laugh. She then said, “This day is getting better by the minute.”

Barbossa looked over at Revy, as he smiled wickedly at her. He thought, 'The best is yet to come.'

Akira whispered to Natsuru, “That is Ahsoka. Anakin's apprentice. Before he went Vader.”

Natsuru softly replied, “I know. From the Clone Wars series. That series ended with her leaving the Jedi Order. She must have survived the Jedi purge.”

Ahsoka overheard Akira and Natsuru's conversation about her. She turned towards them, as she calmly requested, in english, not Galactic Basic, which was close to english, but english, “It seems you know of me. So, I request your help. I am looking for Anakin Skywalker. Also, known as Darth Vader. He disappeared, years ago. At least in my timeline. I heard he is here, and I have... Questions for him.”

Akira and Natsuru looked over at Ahsoka.

Akira thought, 'So, Vader disappeared in the timeline she is from. She is likely from same timeline as Annie. But, first, I need to ask if she is planning to try to kill Annie. For Ahsoka's sake, I hope that is not the case. “

Akira inquired, “Are you planing on trying to kill Annie, over what happened at the Jedi Temple? Annie has become a much better person since then. And Annie informed us of her making amends for the actions taken as Vader, against the people of your home reality.”

Ahsoka said, “It depends on his answers. And Anakin hated that nickname.”

Rock stated, “A lot has changed. Believe it, or not... Long story short, Anakin was kidnapped and changed into a woman. She is not also physically restored, and out of the black suit and helmet.”

Ahsoka said, “Really? This I have got to see that.”

Rock said, “Yes. Along with this, Annie has emotionally matured, greatly.”

Ahsoka commented, “That is nice to hear. I do vaguely remember hearing the Skywalker family, along with a woman that reportedly looked like Anakin's younger sister. Which I guess was Anakin. Overthrowing Palpatine.”

Akira stated, “That was likely Annie. She works at the nearby casino. On the other side of the island. Meaning the south end of the island. Even given the circumstances. I am sure, if you come in peace, she would be happy to talk to you.”

Ahsoka replied, “Thank you, for your information.”

Akira said, “You're welcome.”

Natsuru offered, “And we are more than happy to give you the answers you seek.” She thought, 'Because getting between a force user and who she is looking for, is a very bad idea. Even with our powers and skills. She would be a handful, even without her lightsabers.'

Ahsoka smiled at Natsuru and Akira, as she said, “I appreciate that.” She then pulled her hood back over her head, and she closed the front of her cloak.

A thought occurred to Ranma, as her lips curled into a mischievous grin. She asked, “By the way, are you two dating?”

At the bottom of Ahsoka's hood, they saw her jaw dropped, as Barbossa let out a laugh.

Barbossa flatly answered, “I wish.”

Ahsoka quickly collected herself, as she flatly stated, “No. Our relationship is purely platonic. Though, we have had some interesting adventures together, as we traveled through the various realities.”

Ranma replied, “Alright. Someone just had to ask the question. No offense intended.”

Barbossa replied, “No problem.”

Ahsoka said, “None offense taken.”

Molly requested, “Ahsoka. Barbossa. Can I get some photos of both of you?”

Ahsoka replied, “Sure. Though, not right now.”

Barbossa stated, “Yes. But, as Ahsoka said. We will do so, later. We both have business to attend to. Both here, and at this casino.”

Lotton thought, 'So, he is tracked someone down, to here. And, as to how? I believe that box he was holding at Jack's compass. Which would be a nice tool to have. But, I crazy enough to try to steal it from him. Especially, considering he just soundly beat Shenhua.'

'Though, we need to find out who he is after. But, before I ask. I need to butter him up some. And I just know how to do it.' She pointed out, “The casino is called, Daiyu Palace Casino. We are friends with the owner, and number of employees there. Including, Annie.”

Barbossa responded, “Thank you. That makes things much more easier for us.” He thought, 'I wish everything went this easily.'

Rock offered, “Do you wish for us to call ahead, and let them know you are coming?”

Ahsoka answered, “No. I want to surprise, Anakin.”

Rock replied, “Okay.” She thought, 'And that is going to be an interesting surprise for both of them. If they ask for a ride, I will offer to give them one. So, I can tag along, and watch the reunion.'

Lotton thought, 'Now is my chance.' She asked, “So, who are you trying to find here?”

Barbossa flatly answered, “Jack Sparrow.”

Dutch pointed out, “You just said he was dead.”

Barbossa coyly replied, “Aye. I did.”

Lotton commented, “Also, I though you hated him?”

Barbossa stated, “We were like brothers. We hated each other, but loved each other, at the same time.”

Shenhua said, “Well, Jack is not here. And we have not even seen him, once.”

Benny commented, “Yes. He is the type of person one would notice.”

Janet said, “Especially, with this crowd.”

(_)

Meanwhile, from behind the bar counter, Melanie remained silent, as she continued to silently watch the conversation continue.

Melanie remained calm, as she thought, 'While I am not touching the conversation. Though, I noticed that Barbossa knows the truth. He has been looking at her way, a few times.” She looked at Ahsoka, then quickly back to Barbossa, as she continued her thoughts, 'And while Ahsoka can read emotions. I believe force users cannot read thoughts. So, as long as I remain calm, and quite, I will be fine. And I will just let the situation play out in front of me.'

(_)

Nearby, at the table she was sitting at, with her friends, Eda looked around at her friends, as she commented, “I know Barbossa said he was dead. But, some people don't always stay dead. And Jack would be such a person.” She turned to Barbossa, as she inquired, “Are you sure that Jack wasn't tricking you all? And he bribed the hangman to fake his death? He has likely done crazier stunts than that.”

Barbossa stated, “Yes. He has. And I am quite sure that Jack is dead. I watched him hang in Caracas. I was the one arranged and watched him be buried. After I personally made sure he was dead.”

Rock asked, “Exactly, how did Jack die? For a man of his talents, being caught and hung seems an unbelievable way to die.”

Barbossa admitted, “I agree. And I have come to believe that he arranged his own death. I do not want to get into the details. But, from what I understand, Jack finally gained his sought after goal of eternal youth, but not health. Rumor has it that he grew sick. And he decided to go on one last mission, to die like a pirate should. On the other hand, I just grew older, but did not die... Such irony for the both of us.”

Revy responded, “So, as you pointed out, again. Jack is dead. What are you still looking for him, here?”

Barbossa did not immediately reply. He calmly walked over to the table where Rock was sitting, as he stated, “Well, I am looking for Jack. Or should I say Jack's next incarnation?”

When Barbossa came to a stop in front of Rock's table. Though, instead of looking at Rock, Barbossa looked Revy in her eyes, as he casually said, “Hi Jack. It has been a long time.”

Barbossa's statement, and whom it was directed towards, took everyone at the table by surprise.

(_)

At the table, where the Lagoon daughters were sitting, Rebecca commented, “Well, it figures that mom would be the incarnation of Jack Sparrow.”

Yukio replied, “While I love her. She definitely has the greed, narcissism, and creative insanity, that Jack had.”

Rebecca shrugged, as she said, “True.”

Sarah stated, “At least, she will now know what we are going through.”

Molly said, “You are correct. And that can help us with our relationship with her.”

Kristina commented, “I just hope this doesn't send her over the edge.”

Molly state, “I doubt that. If parenthood could not send her over the edge. Nothing can.”

Kristine agreed, “Good point.”

(_)

Back at the table, where Barbossa was standing by, Revy looked up at the old pirate. She flatly stated, “My name is not Jack. It is Revy.”

Barbossa said, “And what a fitting name that is, for one, such as yourself. And you always did prefer the pistols to the blades. On the other hand, I preferred the blades to the pistols.”

Rock asked, “Do you have any proof?”

Barbossa used his left hand, he pulled out his box, from an interior pocket. He then switch hands, to hold the box with his right hand. After which, he opened the box, and tilted it, to where Revy and those at the table, could see inside it. They saw it was a compass, with the needle pointing at Revy.

A few seconds later, Barbossa flipped the lids closed his compass, and put it back into the pocket, where had he kept it, earlier that morning.

Barbossa turned to Revy, as he stated, “If you have seen the movies, you know what this is. And this compass never lies. It is the only thing about Jack that never did.”

Lotton asked, “How did you wind up with Jack's compass?”

Barbossa answered, “Jack left it to me after he was hung in Caracas. After all, I was the one who buried his body. After he was hanged. I made sure he... Or should I say. You had a nice burial service, and all.”

Sawyer began giggling. She stated, “You're crazy. Revy, of all people, being the reincarnation of Jack Sparrow. The multiverse is not that twisted.”

Revy starting thinking about the Barbossa's claims. She then looked around the table, at her friends, as she softly commented, “I think Barbossa is right. My gut tells me he is right.” Revy then said, a bit louder, “Still, I cannot be believe that I was a guy in a previous life.”

Violin overheard Revy. She shouted, in a relaxed tone of voice, “Welcome to the club!”

Revy turned around, to look at Violin, as she snapped at the dark blue haired woman, “Don't start.” She then looked back at those at her table, as she continued, “There was a day that I cannot account for, in which I woke up in a pirates costume that looked like Jack Sparrow's costume. And I know who to ask about it. I need to make a phone call.”

Revy got up from her seat. She passed by Barbossa, as she headed for the bar counter.

(_)

Hernan heard all of this, as he thought, 'Honesty, I would rather be Roberta's counterpart. At least Roberta is sane most of the time. On the other hand, Jack was crazy, and Revy can be just as bad. Though, from what I understand, Jack was a lot nicer around people.'

(_)

At the table with Dutch, Benny, Janet, Yolanda, Ranma, Natsuru, and Akira, Benny asked, “Did I hear that right?”

Dutch laughed at little. She then smiled, as she replied, “Yes. And that explains so much.”

Janet said, “Oh, the mileage we are going on this information.”

Dutch's smile widened, as she responded, “I know.”

Ranma made a mischievously grin, as she commented, “The only question is, do we start with the word jokes, first? Or, do we immediately move to the visual jokes?”

Akira stated, “Either way would be fine.”

Natsuru said, “I agree. And I am thinking of several of both types of jokes.”

Yolanda calmly pointed out, “Still, when we do something like that, we need to first make sure that Revy is unarmed.”

Akira replied, “Good point.”

Dutch complimented, “That is what I like about you, Yolanda. You always plan ahead.”

Yolanda gave Dutch a warm smile, as she replied, “Thank you.” She thought, 'And it is from a lifetime of experience'

The seven women at the table, then turned their attention to Revy.

(_)

By then, Revy made her way to the bar counter. While Revy came closer to her, Ahsoka could sense in the force, that from Revy's emotional state, that Revy was in no mood to talk. So, Ahsoka just backed away a few feet, as Revy approach the bar counter.

Revy came to a stop, in front of the bar counter, she faced Melanie. With Melanie being a across the bar counter her, with her wireless phone in her right hand.

Fortunately, Melanie had overheard Revy's request for a phone, and she had already pulled off her wireless phone, from it's base, and headed to meet Revy, at the counter.

Melanie then handed Revy the phone.

Revy quickly took the phone, and dial a numbered. She then used her right hand to hold the phone up to her right ear.

Revy heard the phone ring a few times. When she heard it pick up, she did not even both to wait for a reply, as she flatly ordered, “This is Revy. Transfer to me to Chang's apartment.”

Revy thought, 'Lee should be there, with River. It is not like those two do anything of note, at the casino. Though, I am not one to talk. And Lee is the one in charge of producing some of the performances held at the casino. Including a few parties, my family and I have attended. And she does a good job of that. Still, if she is not there, I will call Chang on his cellphone, and he can find Lee.'

Revy heard a click, that signaled her call was being transferred. Then, the phone rang a few more times, before a familiar female voice answered the phone, in english, that Revy recognized, “Hello.”

Revy said, “Hi River. This is Revy. I need to speak to Lee, for a moment.”

A few seconds later, Lee said, over the phone, “Hello Revy. I am kind of busy at the moment.”

Revy flatly responded, in annoyed tone of voice, “Well, I have an important question for you.”

Lee sighed. She then inquired, “Okay, Revy. What do you need?”

Revy asked, in a straight forward manner, “Lee, am I the reincarnation of Jack Sparrow?”

The line was silent for a few seconds. Lee then calmly answered, “Yes. You are. How did you find out?”

Revy turned to look at Barbossa, then Ahsoka, and finally back to Melanie, as she stated, “I would love to tell you. But, you will find out soon enough.”

Lee responded, “I look forward to finding out. By the way, this is not my fault.”

Revy stated, “I believe you. You are crazy. But, not that crazy.” She thought, 'Besides, I would have remembered reading that in your stories.'

Lee replied, “Thank you.”

Revy inquired, “So, how did you find out?”

Lee answered, “Something happened to your mind that caused you to regress to Jack's memories and persona. I am not sure what. I wasn't there when it happened. I was just the one to clean up the mess, afterward. Though, you were still you. There was only one voice in your head. You just happened to prefer to be Jack at the time.”

Revy inquired, “Okay. I can guess that is the day I blacked out and awoke in that pirate's costume? I knew that outfit looked familiar.”

Lee stated, “Yea. And I am glad that Annie and River were able to put Jack back into the bottle.”

Revy wondered out loud, “Yea. I am grateful for that. Still, I want to know. Why did you help do that, Lee? I would think being Jack would be more fun. And you would prefer me to be, Jack. Even I will admit that I can sometimes be a bitch, and quite a handful to deal with.”

Lee answered, “I am glad you are willing to admit that. And I have six reasons for wanting to return you back to the personality you currently have. Revy, you may sometimes be a bitch, but you are always honest in your intentions. Jack was not. She figured out who I was. She is arguably more ingenious than Rock, Chang, or even myself.”

“While you are monogamous, she is promiscuous. I even caught her seducing Annie. And being that way would destroy your relationship with Rock and your family. She planned to make me her student. And she came onto me.”

Revy thought over what Lee said. She then agreed, “You did the right thing, Lee. Thank you.” She mentally added, 'Lee is right. Jack is promiscuous. And being Jack would have likely ruined my relationship with Rock, and my family. Had Lee not intervened, to get my mind restored, like it should be, I could have lost everything I hope dear. I guess I owe her one. I think, in return, I will cut her a little slack, the next time she needs it.'

Lee offered, “You're welcome. And if you start remembering your time as Jack, contact us immediately. We do not want a world class troublemaker, like Jack, on the loose in this reality.”

Revy said, “Don't worry. I will.” She then hung up the phone, and she handed it back to Melanie.

Melanie took the phone, and set it on the counter.

Meanwhile, Revy looked at Barbossa, with Barbossa, and everyone else looked at her.

Revy requested, in a humble tone of voice, “Barbossa, could I have some time to come to grips with this? This is a life changing event. I always felt in my life that I should have been a pirate. I just did not realize that I was a pirate in a previous life.”

Barbossa said, “Take all the time you need, Revy. I plan on staying here, for a while.” He turned to Shenhua, as he requested, “Shenhua, please meet me out front, in a minute”

Shenhua turned to Barbossa. She nodded once, as she replied, “Okay.” She then got up from her seat.

Barbossa then looked at Ahsoka, as he said, “I will be right back. Then, we will go see your friend.”

Ahsoka looked at Barbossa, as she replied, “Don't worry. We now know where Anakin is. So, take your time.”

Barbossa replied, “Thank you.” He then turned to Shenhua, as he said, “This way.”

Barbossa then turned and started walking out of the exit of the restaurant, with Shenhua following right behind him.

(_)

Just over a minute later, Barbossa and Shenhua exited out of the front of the lobby, and under the outside awning.

Barbossa then came to a stop a few feet from where the awning ended. Shenhua stopped, a few feet from Barbossa.

Barbossa then turned around to face Shenhua, without a few feet between the two of them. He then looked to see no one else was around. He said, “This is private enough.”

Shenhua asked, in a slightly confused tone of voice, “Out in the open?”

Barbossa responded, “My dear. When one spends a lifetime at sea. One learns the value of how the wind of the outside air can conceal a conversation.”

Shenhua conceded, “Fair enough.”

Barbossa inquired, “Now, I have a serious question for you, Shenhua. That being. Do you like apples?”

Shenhua responded, “While I do not consider that an important question. Of course, I like apples. That is why I prefer to wear red, it reminds me of apples. Why do you ask?”

Barbossa said, “I love apples, myself. I cannot get enough of them. Do you know that in a few years, I plan to returned to my reality, in time to retire?”

Shenhua commented, “No. Though, I can see you doing so. But, what does that have to do with anything?”

Barbossa said, “Well, I will die. And I have recently learned who I will become in my next life.”

Barbossa took off his shades, as he looked Shenhua in her eyes. She saw his eyes, as well.

While Barbossa's liver may have recovered, the whites of Barbossa's eyes were still yellow, from jaundice, as opposed to Shenhua's healthy eyes.

But, that was not what Shenhua noticed most about Barbossa's eyes. It was the intent she saw in his pupils.

The two adults continued to look each other, in their eyes, as Barbossa stated, “It is said that the eyes are windows to the soul. Tell me, when you look into my eyes, whose soul do you see?”

Shenhua took a harder, deeper look into Barbossa eyes. And she saw behind the intent of his eyes, was a look of insanity. But, it was not like Revy's wild insanity. No. Barbossa's soul was like a beast that leashed itself to remain a bit civil. Though, a beast that could unleash itself on a whim.

Shenhua realized she had only seem that look before in mirrors. She realized, as she said, with slight surprised, “I am you. And I can honestly feel the kinship.”

Barbossa replied, “So do I.” He then put back on his shades.

Shenhua asked, “But, how do you know?”

Barbossa pointed out, “As I said. The compass never lies. And as I said to Jack... I mean Revy. She preferred the pistols. We preferred the blades. Let me guess, as a child, you were considered a prodigy with those long knives of yours?”

Shenhua answered, “Yes.”

Barbossa said, “That is due to my life experience. You may not remember the lessons and experiences of my life. But, the basics of the skills still carried over.”

Shenhua thought, 'Just like some people believed that Mozart was a pianist and musical composer, in a previous life. And that is how he could play the piano and compose music at such an early age. Though, I do have a question for my previous self, that I am going to have to be a little more honest about, than I am comfortable with.'

Shenhua asked, “But, how can you end up me, a woman?...” She then forced herself to include, “And a self admitted prissy one at that?”

Barbossa grinned at Shenhua's self-deprecating humor, as he responded, “Karma. I was never that nice to women. Though, I never did anything too horrible to women. Also, we have always been very vain about our appearance.”

Barbossa brushed his right hand across Shenhua's left shoulder, against her fine white silk coat, as he mentioned, “We always did a have a taste for the finer things in life. Such as a better quality of clothing, than most.”

Barbossa dropped his right hand back to his side, as he continued, “And, I can see the look in your eyes that tells me though you like to wear the makeup, you still love to play in the mud. Honestly, I am happy that we ended up this way. I would hate for us to be Jack's love interest.”

Shenhua said, “While I find both men and women attractive. I have never found Revy attractive in that way. We have shared someone before, in the bedroom. But, it was more of a case of passing that person around. And not a case of the two of us doing something together.”

Barbossa let a soft laugh. He then stated, “Jack and I have done similar things with whores.”

Shenhua raised an eyebrow, as she questioned, “Really?”

Barbossa said, “It was a different time. A different place. A different culture. In many ways.”

Shenhua inquired, “I can appreciate that. And I have to ask. Have you ever had any real luck in romance?”

Barbossa commented, “Nope. And neither had Jack. Jack and I's luck with relationships were horrible to say the least. Oh sure. Both of us knew how to woo a woman. But, neither of us could find a woman that would stay for very long.”

Shenhua mentioned, “Well, my luck with lovers has been much better. And so has Revy's luck.”

Barbossa replied, with a bit of happiness in his tone of voice, “That is good to know.”

Shenhua asked, “So, what exactly was your association with Jack Sparrow?” She thought, 'Knowing this could help me with my friendship with Revy.'

Barbossa answered, “We were good friends. And it is nice to know that in the end, Jack will still be with my friend, and we will continue to be friends, from life to life.”

Shenhua asked, “But, what about all the betrayals? And the killings?”

Barbossa shrugged, as he said, in a casual tone of voice, “It was a game to us.”

Shenhua flatly stated, “That is a hell of a game.”

Barbossa commented, “We had no video, audio, or internet. We were bored out of our minds. As such, back then, we took our games very seriously. And from the way you and Revy seem to act towards each other. I can tell that you are close friends.”

Shenhua pointed out, “I wouldn't say we are close friend. Friends. Yes. But, not close friends. While we have gotten better over the last few decades. Revy and I had been sniping at each other for years. I use to try to kill her a few times.”

Barbossa casually said, “Been there. Done that with Jack. We finally buried the hatchet, metaphorically, a few years before he died.”

Shenhua questioned, “Okay. So, this is why you want to teach me?”

Barbossa admitted, “Partly. Yes. You really are that good with your knives. But, I also figured, what better person to teach as my successor, than me in my next life.”

Shenhua said, “While I am not opposed to leaning from you. It is a bit narcissistic.”

Barbossa commented, “True. But, it is also a bit poetic.”

Shenhua stated, “Yes. Though, I have seen your movies. I do not want to remember any of those events.”

Barbossa admitted, “I am happy to hear that. Spending years as a member of the cursed undead, and then dying, and coming back to life. Those memories still haunt me to this day. Which is why I look toward to when I die and become you. I will no longer have such horrible memories. And the scars that go with them.”

Shenhua said, “Well, rest assured that I have had a good life, I am in good health, with great friends and lovers.” She thought, 'I will not mention my children, just yet.'

Barbossa smirked, as he replied, “I look forward to it.”

Shenhua asked, “So, where is the sword of Triton? Or, did gaining that sword not happen to you?”

Barbossa snorted, “Oh, I had gained both that sword, and the powers that came with it... For a time, I also captained the Queen Anne's Revenge. A fine ship, I might add. But, Jack eventually cost me all that, in a very exciting adventure. But, that is a story for another time... Along with how I came by my current sword. My cutlass. As a trophy of one of my better sword fights... But, I need to go with Ahsoka to the casino, to meet with her friend.”

Shenhua offered, “I understand. Also, the casino is on the other side of the island. And I sure if we go back inside, that someone would be glad to give you both a lift, on their car.”

Barbossa grinned, as he replied, “I would appreciate that.”

Though, as they turned around, to face the doors to the entryway that lead to the lobby, Barbossa noticed Shenhua giggle a little.

Barbossa was to Shenhua left. He looked over at the Taiwanese woman, as he calmly asked, “What is so funny?”

Shenhua turned to Barbossa, as she admitted, “This entire situation. Jack is now a woman. And you will end up me, a woman, in your next life. And pretty one at that. And you have not made a pass at any of us.”

Barbossa said, “Well, I am not that twisted. And about the others. I took a look in the eyes of your friends. Most of them are crazy. I learned a long time ago to have nothing to do with crazy women... At least not in bed... Sometime, I need to tell you about one such crazy woman. Her name was Calypso. She was the walking embodiment of a raging tempest.”

Shenhua replied, “I have heard of her. And yes. You are right. Now, let us get inside. Where we can find a ride for you and her. So, your friend can meet Annie.”

Barbossa understood what Shenhua was not saying, as he asked, “You do not want to come with us.”

Shenhua answered, “Not really. Mainly because there is a very real chance that Annie and Ahsoka could end up fighting. And I do not want to be anywhere near to force users, when they are fighting.”

Barbossa conceded, “I can see your point.”

Shenhua said, “We will talk, after you return to the hotel. That is, unless you are staying at the casino.”

Barbossa commented, “Chances are. If things go well between Ahsoka and this Annie. That she will stay at the casino. But, I will be coming back to the hotel.”

Shenhua replied, “Good. Now, let us go find you a ride.”

The two adults then headed back inside, and to the Devil's Hotel restaurant.

(_)

A minute later, Shenhua and Barbossa walked into the restaurant, with Shenhua going in the room first, and Barbossa following right behind her.

Shenhua then headed to her seat, at the table she had shared with Lotton, Sawyer, Eda, Rock, and Revy.

While, Shenhua approached her friends, she saw that no one had moved from their spots, since she and Barbossa had left.

(_)

Meanwhile, Barbossa made his way to the bar counter, where Ahsoka was standing. With Melanie nearby, on the other side of the counter.

Barbossa then came to a stop, by Ahsoka, while facing the woman.

Ahsoka turned in Barbossa's direction, as she asked, “How was your meeting?”

Barbossa stated, “Productive. And we will be leaving in a minute, to go meet your friend.”

Ahsoka replied, “Good.”

(_)

Nearby, Shenhua reached her table.

While Shenhua sat down in her chair, Revy turned to Shenhua. She asked, “What did you guys talk about?”

Shenhua got comfortable in her seat. She looked over at Revy, as she casually lied, “We were discussing scheduling for my training with him.”

Shenhua could not tell if Revy believed her lie, or not. Though, Revy clearly let the matter drop, as Revy turned to look at Barbossa.

Shenhua also turned to look at Barbossa.

(_)

At that moment, across the room, as the bar counter, Barbossa turned to those at the tables, as he calmly requested, “Ladies, and gentleman. In the hopes of continued peace between us, I humbly ask. Could anyone give us a ride to this casino, where Ahsoka friend is?”

Rock stood up from the chair she was sitting at. She turned and faced Barbossa. She stated, “I will take you, both, by car.” She mentally added, 'Just as I thought. And I looked forward to seeing this reunion between student and teacher.'

Barbossa turned to Rock, as he replied, “Thank you, lass. Though, I would prefer to know the name of my driver.”

Rock answered, “Rock. My name is, Rock.”

Barbossa commented, “Then, thank you, Rock.”

At nearby table, Benny looked over at Rock, as she asked, “Are you taking the GTO?”

Rock turned Benny, as she casually answered, “Of course.”

Benny replied, “Have fun. And please tell us what happens.”

Rock said, “Thanks. And I will” She the turned back to face Barbossa and Ahsoka.

Revy stood up from her chair, as she looked over at Barbossa and Ahsoka, then she turned to Rock.

While Revy continued to look at Rock, she said, “I am coming to. I don't want to miss this. Because I just know it is going fun.”

Rock, Ahsoka, and Barbossa, turned to Revy.

Rock replied, “That is up to you.”

Ahsoka said, “I have no problems, with you coming along.”

Barbossa commented, “The more the merrier… Revy.”

Revy turned to Barbossa, as she said, “Thank you. By the way, since we both agree that I am Jack's reincarnation.”

Barbossa replied, “That we agree on.”

Revy requested, “Do you think I could have my compass back? I twas mine, in my previous life, after all.”

Barbossa responded, “That depends, my dear, Revy. Jack was given his compass, to help him find his way in life, in achieving what he truly wanted. Have you found what you wanted in life?”

Revy looked around the room, at her family and friends, as they turned towards her. Revy turned back to Barbossa. She grinned, as she honestly said, in a happy tone of voice, “Yes. I have.”

Barbossa stated, “Then, you do not need it.” Given Revy and Shenhua was sitting at the same time, Barbossa did not have to move his head, nor eyes, to shift his gaze from Revy to Shenhua. Barbossa continued, “While I still do.”

Revy replied, “Okay. It was worth a shot.”

Barbossa casually said, “I can go along with that.”

Ahsoka requested, “Well, let's head out, then.”

Revy happily stated, “Fine. But, I am calling shotgun.” She then started walking towards the door, to the hallway.

Rock also started walking for the door, as she turned to Barbossa. She said, “You will have to forgive, Revy. She has her moments.”

Barbossa chuckled a little. He then mentioned, “Oh, Jack had his childish moments, as well.”

There was some giggling among the crowd, which Revy ignored, as she continued walking towards the exit.

Rock said, “You will have to tell me about the events, sometime.”

Barbossa happily responded, “I would be more than happy to oblige. Now, let us head over this casino.”

Barbossa then turned, and started walking towards the door, with Ahsoka following behind.

Rock also turned to look at the double-doors to the hallway, as she approached them. She saw that Revy had just exited the room, and into the hallway. With her redheaded lover turning right, towards the lobby, and to the parking lot.

A few seconds later, Rock, Barbossa, and Ahsoka exited the room, and into the hallway.

All four adults then made their way to the Devil's Hotel parking lot, to the Lagoon's red GTO. Which Rock would drive, as she took the three other adults to the Daiyu Palace Casino.

(_)

Around an hour ago. Before Barbossa and Ahsoka, met Revy, Rock, and their friends. Inside one of the basement levels of the Daiyu Palace Casino, two individuals were walking down a hallway, towards the stairwell that would lead them to the ground floor of the casino.

The two individuals walked side by side. Each individual was carrying a small black briefcase, by the handle, with their right hand. While the briefcases appeared normal, both of the cases were reinforced to hold heavy loads of weight than normal. Inside the briefcases were gold bars the two individuals had just stole from a nearby vault, in the casino.

The two thieves had done this buy one of the thieves hacking into the computer network of the casino, and introducing new IDs and orders, for the two thieves to allowed in the vault, and to get what they wanted. The hacker also looped the video, while faking the time stamp on the video. So no one was the wise. In addition, the hacker turned off the alarms in the vault.

Also, the two individuals used technological disguises that fooled those they passed by.

They each had reprogrammable security cards, for the security locks, at each of the doors leading to the secure areas of the casino. The hacker just reprogrammed their security key cards to match their new casino accounts, and their new numerical passwords for the security locks.

Along with all this, they relied on the fact that no one would expect someone to just walk into a vault and rob it, on a Monday morning.

And the theft had worked perfectly. Due to their disguises matching up with their ID information and faked electronic orders, the guards let them through. Also, it helped that the hacker thief had experience in espionage. With the first rule of breaking into a place, while being seeing, it for the thief to convince those around people him, or her, is that the thief belongs there.

Once they were in the room, with the vault door. And they were alone. The expert safecracker of the team quickly opened the vault door. With their tools, and the safecracker's skills. It seemed that the vault was so simple to the safecracker, whom had a lifetime of experience in opening very complex vault doors in short amounts of time. That the safecracker did not even need to damage the vault to open it.

Once the door was open. The two individuals walked inside. And they quickly opened their briefcases and filled the cases with gold bars. Thirty seconds later, they were done. They exit the vault, and closed it.

They then walked out of the vault room, passed the guards, and down the hallway, to the stairwell. And the reason they preferred the stairwell to the elevator was that that there was less chance of problems just going up a few flights of stairs in a stairwell, than an elevator stopping for no reason, and trapping thieves inside it.

And to those that look at the two individuals, they would see two slightly taller than normal, black haired, asian women, with athletic physical builds. With them wearing black business suits, and black dress shoes. Though, the two individuals still looked somewhat different in facial features, skin tone, and physical heights and builds.

In truth, the two individuals were men, using three dimensional holographic technology to disguise both their appearances and voices from others.

As the two people walked down the hallway, with no one around them, and no doors nearby, the person on the right, whom was Herman, said, in a female sounding voice, in english, “I really don't like looking and sounding like a chick.”

Tony looked in front of them, as he stated, a female sounding voiced, in english, “I am not exactly crazy about it, either. But, sometimes you have to do things, to get the job done. And the trade off is worth it. We were able to walk in. Get the gold. And walk out. With no hassle. I wish most my jobs went this well.”

“Besides, it is not like we are woman. Our holoprojectors just make us look and sound like them. And we only have to deal with this for another five to ten minutes. Then, we will be gone, with enough gold to last us, comfortably, for a few years.”

Herman replied, “I guess I can live with it, for that long.”

Tony said, “That is the spirit.” He thought, 'And I am also happy these holoprojectors were also able to hide a few inches of our height, and mask our voices. Or, we would have still have had problems. Fortunately, Herman let me doing the talking. And I am fluent in chinese. So, with the IDs, disguises, electronic order, and language barriers solved, walking in was no problem at all, for us. Now, we just need to get out of here with our loot.'

The two disguised men soon made it to the door to the stairwell. They had already turned off the security sensors to the stairwell, they were using, before they had even entered the casino. The did so, with their computer equipment, that was currently in their getaway car.

The two men then opened the door to the stairwell, and entered it, with them shutting the door behind them.

They then continued up the stairwell, which would take them to the ground floor, near the gaming floor. From there, they would calmly make their way through the gaming floor, to the lobby, to the outside front doors, and finally to their getaway car, which was parked in the front part of the casino parking area.

(_)

A few minutes later, on the gaming floor, Annie was walking towards Spike, whom was standing near the back of the gaming floor.

That morning, after breakfast, Annie was bored. So, she decided to check on everyone, at the casino. Which was technically part of her official job at the casino. With her job officially being the morale officer, on the accounting records. But, in truth, she was one of Chang's private enforcers.

Given Annie has use to be Darth Vader. Whom was considered one of the people to work for, in the entire multiverse. Which was not exactly true. But, even Annie would admit to herself, that as Vader, she had days that previously come close to such claims.

And given who Annie once was, the irony, and poetic justice, of her being appointed to be morale officers for the casino, was not lost on her.

And she bet that Chang did this partly due to her abilities, and partly, because he found irony to be humorous.

Still, Annie occasionally performed her job as morale officer, to break the monotony of her life. And she did this by checking on the various employees at the casino. And being an empath helped immensely with her morale office job, because she could use her abilities to immediately tell if one of the employees was having trouble with their jobs. Or, their life.

In either case, Annie did have the authority, to send employees to be checked out by either by one of the staff doctors, or therapists.

That morning, Annie was wearing her usual jedi robed clothing, and shoes. She had her lightsaber clipped on the right side of her belt.

Meanwhile, Spike was in the middle of her morning shift, as pit boss for the gaming floor. Among other things, the woman with a green fro, was wearing a white, short sleeved button up shirt, black pants, black coat, black leather belt, white socks, and black dress shoes. Her black coat was closed over her shirt, so she looked more professional.

As Annie came to a stop near Spike, Spike continued to look around the room, as she calmly asked, in english, “How are you doing this morning, Annie?”

Annie casually answered, in english, “Fine, Spike. And you?”

Spike stated, in a casual tone of voice, “I am doing okay. So, are you here to relieve me of my shift. I hear that you have been doing such job as pit boss, on your shifts, that Jet and I might soon be out of a job.”

Annie responded, “Nah. We like you both two much, to do that to you. Besides, that has been more of a part time job for me.”

Spike inquired, “Okay. Then, what have you been up to this morning?”

Annie replied, “I am just checking up on people.”

Spike commented, “So, you are on that job, right now. Well, that is actually a good thing to do. That is what being a morale officer is all about.”

Annie responded, “Thank you. I was wondering. Do you have time for small talk?”

Spike continued looking around the room, as she answered, “Sure. It has been a slow morning.”

Annie inquired, “So, there has been no cheating this morning?”

Spike replied, “None that I have seen.”

Annie said, “Good. How is your daughter doing?”

Spike stated, “Julia is doing great.”

Annie responded, “Wonderful. I hope she is also spending time with children her own age.”

Spike said, “I have that covered. But, I do not wish to speak of such matters in public. And yes. She has some friends her own age.”

Annie realized that this was a sensitive topic for Spike. So, she decided to change the subject. She questioned, “That is nice. And I fully understand. So, are you seeing anyone?”

Spike cracked a grin, as she teased, “Why do you ask? Are you looking for a date?”

Annie commented, “No. I am just bored. And I am looking for some small talk, with someone that I trust.”

Spike stated, “I understand. Well, I am currently. As they say here. Having friends with benefits, with Faye. But, that is mainly because we are no seeing anyone else. It is not a deep relationship. Just two friends that are looking for a good time, for the moment.”

Annie asked, “I have done that before, myself. Though, what about Jetta?”

Spike said, “Surprisingly, she not interested in me. In that way. She wants to keep our relationship purely platonic.”

Annie commented, “That makes sense. She does value her friendships.”

Spike said, “Yes. She does. And do not get me wrong. She is no virgin. Since her change, she has a lot of fun. Though, she has been careful with using protection, like the rest of us.”

Annie thought, 'So, Jetta is using condoms. She always was one of the more responsible one here. Still, I wonder.' She inquired, “Of course. So, who has she been seeing?”

Spike answered, “You know how some people play the casino on this gaming floor. She is playing the employment of the casino, in a similar manner.”

Annie stated, “That could cause problems.”

Spike responded, “Not really. She does not get involved with the employees on the floor here. Or, anyone else that might be under her, in that way. So, there are no problems.”

Annie said, “Well, that is not bad. I might think about doing that. If I get desperate.”

Spike playfully joked, “If you get that desperate, give me a call.”

Annie cracked a grin, as she teased, “Maybe, I will.”

Just then, Annie sensed something through the force. She turned towards the path leading from the elevator bay, through the gaming floor, and to the lobby. She saw two chinese women, in black suits. With each woman carrying a small briefcase in their right hand.

The two women were walking side by side, as they made their way through the gaming floor, with them soon reaching the front lobby.

Spike noticed Annie looking at the two women. She asked, “What is?”

Annie continued to look at the two individuals, as she stated, “Those two are not women. They are men in some sort of energy based disguise. Inform security, we have a problem.”

Annie then started walking toward the two individuals, as Spike pulled out her radio.

Spike thought, 'I would take too long to find someone to relieve me of my post, so I could join in. But, I can call for backup.'

Spike said, into the radio, “Guys we have a problem. Annie spotted two individuals in disguises. We are not sure what they look like. But, you know Annie and her abilities. Anyway, the two individuals are in the gaming floor, heading for the lobby. Annie is walking over to confront them, and she requests back up.”

Over the radio, Mal said, in english, “We are on our way.”

(_)

Meanwhile, Annie walked very quickly, but quietly, towards the two women. So, she would not alert the casino costumers.

When Annie came within thirty feet of the two individuals, she was already in the hallway between the gaming floor, and the lobby. With the two individuals just entering the front lobby of the casino. And at the moment, there were not that many people in the adjoining hallway, nor the lobby areas.

And none of these people were between Annie and the two men in disguise.

Annie kept walking towards them, as she ordered, “Stop where you are?”

The two individuals came to a stop, as they turned look at Annie.

Tony stated, in a female sounding voice, “Looks like we had been made.”

Herman replied, in a female sounding voice, “Looks like it.”

Herman then used his left hand to press a button his belt, that dropped his disgust, revealing who he was to everyone around him.

Herman said, in his male voice, “At least we can drop these ridiculous disguises.”

Tony use his left hand to press a button on his belt, which instantly dropped his disguise as well. Tony happily said, in his male voice, “That is so true.”

Standing before everyone, were the supervillains, Taskmaster and Shocker. In their physically buffed glory.

Taskmaster, whom sometimes went by the alias, Tony, was wearing a variation of one of his older disguises. He wore blue, super-tough tight, over his entire body, except for his head. Over his blue tights was white boots, white skin tight shorts, white gloves, and a utility belt, which had a number of small pouches and weapons attached to it.

Taskmaster also wore his white, skull mask, which completely covered his head. The skull face of the mask had holes for his eyes, nose, mouth, and ear. And the skull face fitted over his own face to the point that the skull face moved with his facial movements. Though, Taskmaster was not wearing his cloak and hood, because of the risk of it brushing up against someone.

Standing to Taskmaster's right, was Herman 'Shocker' Schultz. Shocker was dressed in his usual costume, which was a yellow and red quilted styles pants, shirt, and mask. With the mask being a sky style mask that completely covered his head, with slits for his eyes to see through. Shocker also wore red boots, and gloves. And his chrome colored vibro-smashers gauntlet weapons, which were on his forearms. Along with his chrome colored utility belt around his way.

Shocker's vibro-smashers worked by sending a continuous stream of vibrations of compressed air at a target, or object. Depending on the level of power, a single blast could knock someone down, or destroy a small building. Though, Herman prefer was on of the few supervillains that did not like to harm people. Let alone kill people. And he did not care to destroy things.

When it came to safecracking, Herman considered himself more of an artist, than a demolitionist. And in the end, when it came to Hernan's job, he was in it for the money. Or, in this case, gold. As such, he believed revenge to be a foolish endeavor.

The people around the two men were not sure what was going on. But, they all quickly scattered out of the lobby, to avoid any problems. Even the nearby employee staff, behind the check in desk, and chip exchange booths, quickly back away, as they fled into other parts of the casino.

Annie immediately recognized the two men, as she thought, 'Oh no. It is Taskmaster and Shocker. Still, it was good I long since looked into the backgrounds of all the people Lee mentioned in her stories. Still Lee, this is another one of your loose ends.'

'Okay. I know who I am dealing with, and what they can do. And I will try to take them alive, and relatively unharmed. If for any other reason, than Lee was correct. This is likely one of the best two men teams for stealing, there is.'

'And Lee and River would probably want to meet them. With Chang owing me a favor, for capturing to people, whom he might want to give a job to.'

'Anyway, I need to take them down quickly, before they hurt someone. If I remember from what I read about them. Taskmaster is far more dangerous in combat that Shocker is. Though, Shocker is not to be underestimated, either. And to many people around, to directly use the force. So, I will use a swift aggressive lightsaber style against them. That should deal with them quickly. Though, I will be careful not to cut off their limbs, nor kill them.'

Annie quickly unhooked her lightsaber, as she quickened her pace towards the two men. She the ignited the red energy blade, in front of her, as she held her held the hilt with both her hands.

Taskmaster kept his eyes on Annie, as he handed Shocker his small briefcase, in his right hand. He said, “Here. Take this. I will handler her, as quick as I can.”

Shocker to the small briefcase in his left hand. He said, “Good luck.” He then backed away from the fight.

Meanwhile, everyone nearby, also swiftly backed away from Annie and Taskmaster.

As Annie came closer to the two men, she saw Taskmaster then unhook something from the right side of his belt, with his right hand.

Taskmaster then held up the cylinder, and a yellow blade ignited from it, showing that it was a lightsaber.

Annie thought, 'It looks like I am going to have to do this the hard way.'

By then, she reached Taskmaster, as she attacked him with her lightsaber.

But, to Annie's surprised, Taskmaster held his lightsaber with just his right hand, as he was able to counter her attack.

Both of them held their ground, with Annie attacking as swiftly as she could. But, Taskmaster was countering her every strike. Though, Taskmaster was not attacking, but instead going solely on the defensive.

Still, as Taskmaster blocked Annie's strikes, with little effort, he smugly said, “I bet you didn't expect me to have one of these. And from the aggressive attack you are giving me, it is clear you recognize us.”

“To be honest, I am flattered. But, you did not take into account that I also learned you lightsaber styles from a force user, that was master of lightsaber combat. And he likely never realized how much he taught me, with me watching, while I used my photographic reflexes to learn from him.”

Suddenly, their red and yellow blades clashed to a stop, as they pressed against each other.

Taskmaster used the opportunity, to push the two blades away from them, to his right. He then quickly used his left knee to hit Annie in her stomach.

This caught Annie off guard, as the blow knocked the wind out of her.

Taskmaster followed up his attack, by using his left fist to punch, across the right side of Annie's chin. The blow knocked her to the ground, flat on her back.

As Annie fell, she let go of her lightsaber, which automatically deactivated, as it dropped to the ground, to her left.

While Annie laid on the ground, she looked at Taskmaster and Shocker. And she saw that Taskmaster did not press his attack.

Annie got back her breath, as she thought, 'I should have just used the force on them. Though, there were too many witnesses. And after knocking me to the ground, Taskmaster could have clearly killed me. But, he didn't. So, I will cut them some slack, and let the casino security handle them.'

'Also, it is rare for someone to be able to successfully mix physical blows in lightsaber combat. But, that only shows how skilled Taskmaster is.'

Meanwhile, Taskmaster deactivated his lightsaber, as he turned to Shocker. He then hooked his lightsaber to the right side of his belt, as he said, “Move to plan B. We need to get out of here, right now.” Next, Taskmaster pressed a button, on his utility belt, which summon their vehicle.

Shocker looked at Taskmaster, as he replied, “Okay.”

As Herman turned around to face the front of the lobby, he thought, 'At least Tony is agreed to follow my no killing rule. With Tony saying that he liked a challenge. Now, to get us out of here.'

Shocker then gently sat down his two briefcases, on their sides, on the floor. Next, he stood straight up, as he aimed both his vibro-smashers at the outer lobby wall, to the left of the entrance doors. After which, he fired two low level blasts, with his weapons, at that part of the outer wall.

Fortunately, by then, the people whom were inside the lobby had fled into adjacent rooms, or outside.

The vibrations against the wall did two things. One, it set off shape charges they discreetly placed on the outside. With the explosives designed to go off when sensing very powerful vibrations. The other thing the vibrations of compressed air did was to prevent the explosion from blowing into the building.

Given both Tony and Herman's experience with explosives, they knew how much explosives and use of force to pull off this trick.

That trick being that when the explosive went, it was with just enough for to blow into the building. But, the compressed air vibration prevent the wall pieced from blowing back. This created a crushing force on both sides, of the wall, at once, which pulverized the wall into small bits of rubble.

While Shocker could have just used his vibro-smashers, at a higher level, to just blow out the wall to the outside. Herman preferred doing this trick, because it prevent shrapnel from being created by the explosion. Thus, preventing anyone that might be outside, or inside, near the explosion, from being harmed.

Thus, the blast created a hole, six feet in diameter, to the outside, with only a little dust in the air, as the debris.

Fortunately, since there was no one there, the only damage was to the wall, and some nearby furnature.

By then, the security team had showed up. The team was comprised of six people. All of them running side by side with each other. They were Chief of Security Mal, Zoe, Wash, Jayne, and two female security guards. All six of them were carrying automatic rifles. But, they made sure to keep them pointed away from those around them.
which was composed of six people

Taskmaster saw the team first. He warned, “Behind you.” He then moved out of the way, and to the left side of the room. So, Shocker could have a clearly line of sight

By that time, the security team reached Annie, and passed by her.

Shocker turned around, and he saw the team. He then fired both his vibro-smashers at the floor, in front of the security team, at low levels. The force of the blasts, knocked the security down on the ground, on their backs. But, they were all otherwise unharmed.

Just then, everyone saw a blue, four door, convertible car, with the roof and side windows down, appear right outside the hole in the wall. With the left, driver's side of the car facing the hole.

Was the first to run towards the Taskmaster. As he passed by Shocker, he used his right hand to quickly picked up the briefcase, to Shocker's right side, without missing a beat.

Taskmaster then said, “Our ride's here.”

Shocker then swiftly turned around to a face the hole, as he used his right hand to pick up the other briefcase. After which, he ran right behind Tony, as they both headed for the car on the other side of the hole.

While they ran for their exit, they both pressed a button on their utility belts.

Behind the security team, Annie was the first to stand up. As she stood straight up, she used the force to telekinetically pull her deactivated lightsaber, into her right hand. She then clipped her lightsaber the right side of her belt, as she back away from the security team.

By then, the security team were back on their feet, as they fired their rifles at the two men.

Though, as the two thieves fled, the security team watched as their bullets bouncing off the lightshields surrounding the two men.

The two supervillains did not bother to look behind them, as Herman said, “See Tony, I told you these things would work.”

Tony stated, “And I am glad they do. Now, let's get out of here. And I'm driving.”

Herman replied, “That is fine with me.”

Across the room, Mal stopped firing his rifle, as he ordered, “Hold you fire!”

Mal team immediately stopped firing their rifles, as well.

By then, on the other side of the lobby, the two men both reached the hole, and the blue car, on the other side of the wall.

Taskmaster was first to the car, he tossed his briefcase in the backseat of the car, as he jumped into the driver's seat.

A second later, Herman reached the car. He tossed his briefcase in the back seat, he then dove into the backseat, as well.

The security team, and Annie, then watched as the car took off into the air, by some hover technology. With Taskmaster quickly piloting his car, into the sky, and away from the casino.

The team stared at the hole, as they were momentarily surprised as seeing a car suddenly fly.

Jayne commented, “I would like one of those cars.”

Wash said, “So would I.”

Zoe commented, “Only after you get your pilot's license back.”

Wash turned to Zoe, as he replied, “I am already working on it.”

Zoe said, “Good.” She then turned to Mal, as she calmly inquired, “So, Captain. How are we going to explain this to Chang?”

Mal looked over at Zoe, as he answered, “Simple. We will pull all the footage, and sensor recordings we have, for the last few hours. At the same time, we will find out where they have been, as we check on those places. And the computers. It is a save bet our computers were hacked. And from all this, we will figure out how these two slipped by us, and escaped. And as we do this, I will explain what happened to Chang.”

Mal then handled Zoe his rifle.

Zoe let go of her rifle, with her left hand, while still holding her weapon with her right hand. She then gripped the forearm of Mal's rifle, with her left hand.

With his hands free, Mal used his right hand to pulled out his cellphone from a pocket. Next, he used his right hand to dail a number, After which, Mal used his right hand to hold his phone up to his right ear, as the phone began to ring.

After a couple of more rings, the other end answers the phone. On the other end of the line, Chang picked up. He had caller ID on his cellphone. Chang asked, “Yes, Mal? What is it?”

Mal calmly stated, “Sir, we have a problem.”

Mal then began explaining the situation, of what had just happened.

(_)

Almost an hour later, inside the living room of the penthouse apartment, in Daiyu Palace Casino.

Chang, River, and Lee were sitting on the couch, as they watched the film of of the fight in the casino lobby, on their big screen TV, for a third time. There was no audio from the camera recordings. Just silence.

Meanwhile, Chang was on his cellphone. With River to his left, and Lee to River's left.

The first time they had watched the video and viewed Taskmaster defeating Annie, Chang was shocked at what he saw. River was confused on how this could happen. And Lee shook her head a few times, at seeking someone knock Annie to the ground.

Presently, Chang hung up his cellphone, and put it away, into one of his inner coat pockets.

Chang turned to River and Lee, with Lee and River looking at him

Chang stated, in english, “That was Zoe on the phone, with an update on what is going on.”

Chang thought, 'And the only time Mal has Zoe speak for him, to me, is when he is embarrassed. And he is clearly embarrassed about this whole mess. And he should. And so am I.'

'And I am not going to hold this against Mal. Because, at least he was the first person to call me. And he let Zoe handle talking to me, afterward. That was professional of him.'

River and Lee turned to Chang, as River asked, in english, “So, what new information does she have?” She mentally added, 'Even though I can read your mind Chang, it is better if you just tell us, out loud, what is going on. And I will not mention how embarrassed you feel, on the matter.'

Chang said, “Well, Zoe and Wash are checking over the vault. While Jayne is overseeing a team of computer technicians we have on staff. Presently, they finished a full diagnostic of the casino computers.”

River inquired, “And what are the damages?”

Chang answered, “Surprisingly none, for the vault they broke into. Nor, for the computer system. Jayne, and the technicians, found no damage to the software, nor trojan viruses. The only things they found was a number of security settings changed, and a few IDs and orders, added into the computers.”

“But, it is the speed at which they pulled this off that concerns me. If what Zoe told me is true. And what Jayne found, on the computer timestamps, is correct. Within a matter of less than three hours, these two thieves hacked the casino computers, created a few accounts, adding some fake electronic orders, and used the items to get into one of my vaults.”

Lee stated, in english, “I am not surprised. While Taskmaster is known for his hand to hand skills. He is very good at hacking computers. And Shocker is artist when it comes to safecracking. They make a good stealth style team.”

Chang flatly agreed, “Clearly they do.”

River turned to Lee, as she pointed out, “Which is why you did just that, Lee.”

Chang raised an eyebrow, as he questioned, “What?”

River turned back to Chang, as she explained, “Using Lori, from Book Three of Lee's stories, Lee teamed them up. She even had Lori, as Bob, explain to the both of them, on how they would make a great team. And now we are literally paying for it.”

Lee mentally grumbled, as she sarcastically thought, 'Thanks, River. I was hoping not to mention that to, Chang. I just hope he doesn't hold this whole mess against me.' She then continued her thoughts, in a more calmer manner, 'Though, it is ironic that Taskmaster and Shockers ended up, unknowingly, robbing the two people responsible for this situation. Chang, whom they were running from. And me, whom wrote them into teaming up, and leaving their reality, in the first place.'

River turned back to look at Lee.

Lee saw River nodded once, to confirm she had read Lee's thoughts.

River then turned back to look at Chang.

Chang slowly said, “Well... We will get to that in a minute. We need to talk about a few other matters, first.

Lee quickly took the opportunity to change the subject from herself, as she asked, “You are correct. So, where is Mal?”

Chang stated, “Zoe stated that Mal was in the front lobby, overseeing the repairs with Annie. With both of them also handle crowd control. Our repair personnel should be there within half an hour to oversee repairs.”

Lee inquired, “How bad was the hole?”

Chang responded, “Not too bad. To quote Mal. They way they actually destroyed it was a work genius. The only rubble was within two meters of the hole on both sides. And there was a little dust.”

“Except for a few pieces that need to be replaced. The furniture just needs to be cleaned. And the hole itself was just on part of the wall, without a window, support beam, nor electrical wires in it. So, it is just a patch job. And it will likely only take a few hours to fully repair.”

Lee replied, “Well, that's good.”

River asked, “Speaking of which. How are we going to handle the witnesses?”

Lee stated, “That is a good point. Those two might not be the most well known supervillains. But, they are recognizable.”

Chang said, “I was just told over the phone that Mal and Annie are already seeing to that. Since no one was harmed, we are just going to say it was theatrical stunt that got a little out of hand.”

River commented, “That could work.”

Lee said, “I agree. That would be a good excuse to give on why two men in full costumes were in public.”

Chang replied, “Correct.” He thought, 'And that is why I employ intelligent people. Because, they can come up with ideas like this, on the fly.'

River mentioned, “To bad that this happened in the casino lobby, or Arcee could have been called in to deal with them.”

Chang stated, “True. But, I am actually happy this did not turn into a destructive battle. And from what Annie told me, a little while ago, by phone, that is why she only relied on just using her lightsaber. There were just to many people around to risk a major fight.”

Chang thought, 'Also, she did not want witnesses to see her use the force. Men in costumes, and explosions can be explained. Telekinesis is harder to explain.'

River shrugged, as she complimented, “Well, those are some good points.”

Chang replied, “Thank you.”

Lee inquired, “Do we have any other information? Like camera footage from the vault? Or, the hallways leading to the vault? And how did they get to and front vaults, and the ground floor.”

Chang answered, “They used a stairwell. They looped the camera systems in stairwell, and basement areas. They even faked the timestamp on the video. They likely didn't mess with the videos from the gaming floor, and lobby, due to the traffic, and regular security checks there.”

River stated, “They are good.”

Lee asked, “Yes. They are. So, what are we going to do about these security flaws?” She then continued, in an embarrassed tone of voice, “And my oversight concerning those two thieves?”

Chang responded, “Relax, Lee. I am let you off the hook, on this matter. After all, I was the one that both helped design the security systems that run this casino. And I approved both those systems, and those that run those systems. As such, I have only myself to blame for this mess.”

Lee happily thought, 'It is nice that Chang believes that the buck stops with him. And I admire such responsibility in leadership.'

River make a small grin at Lee's thoughts. She then commented, “It was all our fault, in some ways. We relied too much on a computer ID system. And this is the second time in a month, this oversight has bit us in the ass. We should have done something about this security loophole, once we found out that Matthew was able to walk into a secured area, take a reality device, and walk out, without being caught.”

Chang agreed, “You're right. I will start ordering changes be made today. Where members of the security team, whom monitor the video cameras, in the security room, have to approve someone, each time a person uses their ID to enter a secure area. I will also look into setting up scanners that detect holographic technology, like those two thieves used. So, this will not happen again.”

River said, “I like those ideas.

Lee commented, “So do I.”

Chang replied, “I am glad for both your votes of approval.”

Lee asked, “So, what did they take?”

Chang stated, “Zoe says they took ten large bars of gold, and nothing else.”

River commented, “They knew what they wanted, ahead of time. They took what they needed, and no more. No bad, on their part. It shows they are not greedy.”

Lee said, “And that is chump change to you.”

Chang replied, “Exactly. To be honest, I am more embarrassed over the theft, itself. Than, what was taken.”

Lee commented, “Okay. Still, I hope we don't have to kill them, when we eventually find them.”

Chang scoffed, as he said, “Killed them? Actually, I plan to hire them.”

Lee inquired, in a confused tone of voice, “I thought you would feel differently. Usually, when someone steals from you, in such a disrespectful manner, it would be a death sentence.”

Chang responded, “True. But, I have to admit these two are real ballsy to pull something like this off, in the morning, on a weekday. They would have gotten away clean, if Annie had not sensed something was up. And from the way they pulled this off, I can guess they are in it for the money? Not revenge, nor ideology.”

Lee said, “From what I know of them. Yes. That is true.”

Chang stated, “Good. That gives me something to work with. As such, I am thinking of hiring them. And I will tell them that I would consider what they stole to be the down payment for their employments.”

Lee commented, “That would be a good approach. And what Tony and Herman just pulled, puts what Danny, Rusty, and Linus, did to shame. And that is saying something.”

River started chuckling, at Lee's comment.

Though, Chang did not get the reference. He asked, “I do not get reference?”

By then, River had calmed down.

Lee answered, “Ocean's Eleven.”

Chang questioned, “The nineteen sixty movie starring the Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack? They didn't get away with the money, at the end of that film.”

Lee stated, “No. The two thousand one, remake of Ocean's Eleven, starring George Clooney. And the remake's two sequels. Ocean's Twelve, and Ocean's Thirteen, respectively. And in the remake the thieves got away with the money, using a very creative theft and escape plan. And they were able to successfully pull off their cons in the two sequels, in inventive ways.”

“Besides George Clooney, all three movies had an all star casts. In addition, I consider these three movies to be George Clooney's finest work, next to the films, The Men Who Stare At Goats, and Peacemaker.”

Chang said, “I have not seen any of those movies.”

Lee responded, “Well, don't feel bad. While, I have seen The Men Who Stare At Goats, and Peacemakers, years ago. I only got around to watching the Ocean's film trilogy a few years ago. During one of our brief stays here. I regret not seeing them sooner. The ideas in those movies could have helped me a lot, when I first came to this city.”

Lee thought, 'And before, when I was working on my stories.'

Lee continued, “Still, I enjoyed watching them. And they are a fun trilogy to watch, back to back.”

River stated, “I watched the movies with Lee. The movies are a real treat to watch.”

Chang questioned, with a bit of disappointment in his tone of voice, “And you did not feel like informing me about those movies?”

Lee said, in a sheepish tone of voice, “Given you are a casino owner, we didn't want to put you in a bad mood.”

Chang commented, in a more casual tone of voice, “I always love a good heist movie. And finding out there are three good ones that I have not seen makes me feel better.”

Lee said, “Then, we will have to watch all five of those movies, sometime.”

River stated, “We will make room in our schedules, to them watch those movies together, within week, or so.”

Chang replied, “That will be fine.”

Lee commented, “Good. Now back to those two thieves. You said you were thinking about, when we find them, that you wish to hire them?”

Chang requested, “Yes. And considering I am thinking of hiring them. Refresh our memories, and tell us about those two that robbed from us. How they were able to do this? And why?”

Lee commented, “The, why, is simple enough. They likely just needed some travel money. The two of them are Taskmaster and Shocker. The guy in the skull mask is Taskmaster. Shocker is the guy in the ski mask. Taskmaster, also known as Tony, is very skilled at breaking into places. And he is an excellent computer hacker. Shocker, whose given name is Herman Schultz, is an excellent safecracker. Between the two, they make an excellent stealth thieving team.”

“As you pointed out. If Annie didn't have the force, to sense them with, they would have just walked right out the front door with no violence happening. Also, Herman has a, no killing rule. So, we don't have much to worry about from him.”

“Though, Shocker does have his gauntlet weapons. He calls them, vibro-smashers. They fire compressed air. And can be used to create a lot of damage.”

“Taskmaster is a hand to hand expert. And he can literally copy any moves he can see. He cannot copy super-power. But, he can copy and perfect, a martial art style, just by watching a practitioner of that style, for a while.”

Chang thought, 'Still sharp as ever, Lee. Nice.' He asked, “Given what they can do, they do make an interesting duo. Which is why I am not upset. Just embarrassed. Still, I want to know about those disguises and personal forcefields? The guards said those two looked and even sounded like women? But, they way they changed back on video showed that it was just an illusion, instead of an actual physical change.”

Lee said, “The disguises are likely variations on holo-projectors, which existed in their home reality. Such technology even includes voice modulators. And, on occasion, Tony has been known to use such technology.”

Chang questioned, “And the security cards?”

Lee answered, “They probably programmable security cards they already had on them. They just reprogrammed the cards to match their new casino accounts and passwords. Such identification counterfeiting is not that difficult. Even on this world.”

Chang inquired, “We will have to look into updating our security cards, as well. Also, with that lightsaber, and those moves by Taskmaster, they have been to a Star Wars reality. Though, I do wonder about their forcefields?” He thought, 'I would like to get my hands on some of them.'

Lee stated, “Likely modified lightshields from the Outlaw Star reality. They spent some time there.”

Chang thought, 'So, that is where those items are from. Still, I do vaguely remember something about that, in your stories.' He questioned, “Which was your doing?”

Lee replied, in a disappointed tone of voice, “Sadly. Yes.”

Chang groaned. He then asked, “Even though I wish to hire them. Should we worry about those two coming back?”

Lee responded, “No. As you correctly guessed. Unlike their contemporaries. Both of them are in it for the money. Not revenge. Those two know when it is time to leave. This is likely just a quick robbery, to get some spare gold, as spending money. They won't be back. So, unless they took some magical artifact from the that vault, we should be okay.”

Chang said, “Good. And I don't keep my magic items there. I have a deeper, much more hidden, and secure, vaults, for such items.”

Lee stated, “Okay. Also, keep in mind, those two are not the type to stick around for two long, anywhere. If you do hire them. I suggest you use them as freelances.”

Chang said, “I will take that under advisement. We will track them get done we finished here, and after we get back from our kingdom.”

River said, “I can live with that.”

Lee replied, “So can I.”

River asked, “Though, I was wondering. Was that really a flying car that they escaped in?”

Chang answered, “Yes. Zoe mentioned that security scans registered an outward bound reality jump, that was high up in the air, over the island. That was probably their flying car. And they likely jump realities using technology in their flying car.”

Lee pointed out, “If your security did such scans, why didn't they pick up those two, when they first came to this reality.”

Chang admitted, “I like to keep such sensors off, because they can be tracked back to the casino. Or, wherever they are place at. Like a radar dish, or radio antenna, can be found.”

Lee conceded, “That is a good reason to only use them, sparingly.”

Chang asked, “My point, exactly. So, do we have to worry about any other powerful costumed villains showing up here?”

Lee answered, “Maybe. It is possible that other costumed villains and heroes might show up. But, they are all going to learn very fast that this reality does not have a, no killing rule, to those that break the law. Either they will lay off, or get shot to death.”

“The vigilantes of this world do not do wear costumes. They do not want to attract attention. They are like Paul Kersey, from the Deathwish films. They will quietly take care of business, and move on. And the press does not like to report on such matters, because it reflects badly on the authorities the press seems to worship.”

“Though, on a side note. This also works for us. Because as long as we do not make to much of a big deal about what happened. The press will stay out of this. And we will be fine from that angle.”

Chang replied, “Good.”

Suddenly, the phone began to ring.

River offered, “I will get it.” She got up, walked passed Lee, and over to where the wireless phone was attached to its base, on a nearby table. She picked up the phone, pressed the talk button, and held it to her right ear. She said, “Hello.”

On the other end, Revy replied, “Hi River. This is Revy. I need to speak to Lee, for a moment.”

River turned and walked over to Lee and Chang. She held out the phone, to Lee, as she stated, “It is for you. It's Revy.”

Lee took the phone, and placed it her right ear, as she said, “Hello Revy. I am kind of busy at the moment.”

Revy flatly responded, in annoyed tone of voice, “Well, I have an important question for you.”

Lee sighed. She then inquired, “Okay, Revy. What do you need?”

Revy asked, in a straight forward manner, “Lee, am I the reincarnation of Jack Sparrow?”

The line was silent for a few seconds, as Lee thought, 'So, she finally found out on her own. I will find out, how, later. Right now, I need to handle this conversation very delicately.' She then calmly answered, “Yes. You are. How did you find out?”

Revy stated, “I would love to tell you. But, you will find out, soon enough.”

Lee replied, “I look forward to find out. By the way, this is not my fault.”

Revy responded, “I believe you. You are crazy. But, not that crazy.”

Lee thought, with relief, 'Oh, I am so thankful for small favors.' She replied, “Thank you.”

Revy inquired, “So, how did you find out?”

Lee thought, 'I am not going to involve Melanie in this mess. Even if she was the cause of it. She is to dear a friend for me to do that to her, and Bao.' She coyly answered, “Something happened to your mind that caused you to regress to Jack's memories and persona. I am not sure what. I wasn't there when it happened. I was just the one to clean up the mess, afterward. Though, you were still you. There was only one voice in your head, you just happened to prefer to be Jack at the time.”

Revy inquired, “Okay. I can guess that is the day I blacked out and awoke in that pirate's costume? I knew that outfit looked familiar.”

Lee stated, “Yea. And I am glad that Annie and River were able to put Jack back into the bottle.”

Revy wondered out loud, “Yea. I am grateful for that. Still, I want to know. Why did you help do that, Lee? I would think being Jack would be more fun. And you would prefer me to be, Jack. Even I will admit that I can sometimes be a bitch, and quite a handful to deal with.”

Lee thought, 'Now, to explain my reasons. And hope she understands.'

Lee answered, “I am glad you are willing to admit that. And I have six reasons for wanting to return you back to the personality you currently have. Revy, you may sometimes be a bitch, but you are always honest in your intentions. Jack was not. She figured out who I was. She is arguably more ingenious than Rock, Chang, or even myself.”

“While you are monogamous, she is promiscuous. I even caught her seducing Annie. And being that way would destroy your relationship with Rock and your family. She planned to make me her student. And she came onto me.”

Revy agreed, “You did the right thing, Lee. Thank you.”

Lee thought, 'Good. She understand.' Lee offered, “You're welcome. And if you start remembering your time as Jack, contact us immediately. We do not want that world class troublemaker, like Jack, on the loose in this reality.”

Revy said, “Don't worry. I will.” She then hung up the phone.

Lee lower the phone from her ear, press the talk button to disconnect the line from her end. Next, Lee handed the phone to River.

River then walked over to the table with the phone's base on it, and she placed the phone back on its base.

After which, she returned to sit down between Chang and Lee.

River and Chang turned to Lee.

River smiled mischievously, as she inquired, with a bit of mirth in her tone of voice, “So, how did you find out?”

Chang also asked, “What did Revy want?”

Lee turned around to face River and Chang. She saw River's smile, as she thought, 'Of course. You would already know, River. Still, I am not going to get Melanie in trouble over this. And I know you are going to keep this secret from everyone. Including Chang.'

Lee responded, “Well, to add to our woes. Revy has somehow learned that she is the reincarnation of Jack Sparrow.”

River questioned, “How did she find out?”

Lee stated, “She didn't tell me.”

Chang asked, “Does she remember her time as Jack, at the casino?”

Lee answered, “I don't think so. And it sounds like she is not upset about finding this out about herself.”

Chang stated, “Good. We have other concerns to contend with, right now. And at least, her Jack Sparrow personality is presently dormant.”

Lee agreed, “True.”

River inquired, “So, what is the plan? And how can we help?”

Chang answered, “I am heading to my office to make a few phones, to help sort out this mess. I want you two to head down to the security room, and assist Jayne.”

“You both know your way around the computer system. And helping Jayne and the technicians, while Mal, Zoe, and Wash are busy, would be a good idea. Jayne is a good subordinate. But, I don't want him in charge of a team for an extended period of time.”

River said, “Fair enough.”

Lee replied, “Okay.”

Chang said, “Now, let's go.”

The three adults then got up from their seats, on the couch.

Chang then started walking towards the door to the hallway, outside of the apartment area.

River walked over to the TV, and pressed the off button, on the lower right side of the surface. Then, she and Lee walked over to join Chang at the door.

As Chang opened the door, and walked through it, towards his office. With him leaving the door open for his two lovers.

A few seconds later, River and then Lee, walked through threshold hold of the door, and to the hallway.

As Lee exited the living room, she locked the back of the knob, and pulled the door shut, behind her.

Then, River and Lee headed down the hallway, towards the back express elevator, to get to the main security room of the casino.

(_)

Fifteen minutes later, Rock drove her GTO into the front side of the parking lot of the Daiyu Palace casino.

Rock soon found a parking spot near the front entrance of the casino.

Rock then parked her car, to where the front of the car faced the parking lane, and the casino. So, in case the reunion did not go well, she and Revy could make a quick escape.

Rock put her car in park, turned off the ignition, and put away her keys. She undid her seatbelt. Next, with Revy in the front passenger seat, to her right, she turned to look between the seats, at Barbossa, whom was behind her driver's seat, and Ahsoka, whom was behind Revy, as she said, “Well, here we are.”

While, Revy, Barbossa, and Ahsoka undid their seatbelts, Barbossa looked out the front window of the car, at the casino.

Barbossa commented, “You people definitely like to build big things in this age of man.”

Rock stated, “Very true.”

Ahsoka looked at the front window. She scoffed, “This is nothing compared to buildings of Coruscant.”

Revy turned to look between the seats, towards Ahsoka, as she stated, “Coruscant is a class onto itself.”

Ahsoka shrugged, as she agreed, “True.”

Revy happily stated, “Now, let's get out of the car, so we have the big, happy reunion, and possible fireworks.”

Ahsoka looked at Revy, as she commented, “If I didn't know better. I would think you were hoping for a fight.”

Revy gave Ahsoka a wicked grin, as she admitted, “That is because I am.”

Rock looked at Revy, and then to the two adults in the backseat, as she commented, “I apologize. But, Revy sometimes gets this way. She is a lot better than she use to be.”

Ahsoka deadpanned, “Really?”

Barbossa looked over at Ahsoka, as he calmly said, “Relax, Red. Some people are just that way. As long as they are not picking a fight, you have little to worry from them.”

Ahsoka turned to Barbossa, as she replied, in a polite tone of voice, “Thanks, old man.”

Barbossa said, “You're welcome. Now, let's go see your friend.”

After Rock and Revy opened the two car doors were still open. The two lovers then got out of the vehicle.

Rock and Revy then lower their front seats forward, so those in back could get out.

Ahsoka then immediately got out of the car, with Revy raising her seat, and shutting the door behind her.

It was then that Rock noticed that Barbossa did not have his sword on his waist. She also saw that Barbossa's sheathed sword, in its scabbard, was in the backseat of her car.

Rock thought, 'He must have had taken off his scabbard and sword, while we were traveling.'

Rock watched as Barbossa started to undo his belt buckle.

Rock thought, 'He is getting ready to put his sheath back on his belt. That reminds me. I need to ask him to do something.'

Rock requested, “Barbossa. Please, don't take this the wrong way. But, while Ahsoka's lightsaber would not attract attention, unless it is ignited. I request that you please leave you gun and sword here. The owner and management, personally know us. So, they do not mind Revy having her weapons. But, they did not know you.”

Barbossa looked over at Rock, as he flatly said, “I prefer to keep my weapons with me.”

Rock stated, “And I can respect that. Though, I do not want to start a fight in there. That casino has a lot of wealth inside the building, and security there is very wary about guarding such wealth.”

Barbossa conceded, “Aye. I can appreciate that. But, I still wish to keep my weapons.”

Rock said, “I will offer you a compromise. Leave your sword, but you can take you pistol, as long as it is holstered. We will vouch for you. And as long as you are with us. There should not be a problem.”

Barbossa stated, “I can live with those terms.” He then redid his belt buckle.

Rock replied, “Good.”

Barbossa then got out of the car, and took a few steps, to stand back from the car. Rock then used the controls to electronic lock the door, and closed the driver's side door.

After which, the four adults turned and walked towards the casino. When they were all passed the front of the GTO they grouped back together, in a row. Rock to the far left, with Barbossa to her right side. Ahsoka was to Barbossa's right side. And Revy was to Ahsoka's right side.

While they walked, Revy asked Barbossa, “Barbossa, why do you call Ahsoka, Red? It is because of her red hood and clock?”

Barbossa looked over at Revy, as he stated, “No. I call, Ahsoka, here, Red, because when my friend here gets angry, she can cause more bloodshed in a single battle, than I can in an entire decade.” He then started to chuckle evilly, as he turned to look at the casino they were approaching.

Ahsoka smiled at her friends comment. She then adjusted her hood and cloak, to better hide her face and body.

Rock overheard their comments. She thought, 'I really hope that Revy knows better than to try to start a fight with a force user, or we could all be in for a lot of trouble.'

They soon approached the large front entrance, carport awning that covered the front entrance and a few lanes of vehicle traffic, and three large concrete pillars, acting as supports for the far end of the awning.

The four adults saw that presently, there were no vehicles near the entrance.

As they came closer then not only saw that valets, but they also noticed, to their right, near the entrance, the large hole in the wall of the casino.

Revy loudly stated, “Wow. What happened here?”

Rock calmly replied, “Let's find out.”

Just then, Ahsoka slightly grinned, as she said, “I sense that my friend is nearby.”

Rock cautioned, “As long as you don't start a fight, I don't think there will be a problem.”

Ahsoka smirked under her hood, as she replied, “Don't worry. I don't start fights. I finish them.”

The four adults soon reached the entrances to the casino. When the valets saw Rock and Revy, the recognized them, and the opened the doors for them, and their guests, with all four adults walking inside. With the valets shutting the doors behind the four adults.

(_)

At that moment, inside the front lobby of the building, near the hole in the wall, Annie was standing by Mal. With no one near them.

Due to the damage, there were a couple of guards near each of the entrances to the room. These guards had been assigned by Mal to steer the customers away from the lobby area that was damaged. And except for those that were there to talk to the clerks, and tellers, the other guests were politely requested to head further into the casino, or outside, until repairs could be done.

Presently, Annie saw that Mal had his encrypted cellphone in his right hand, as he held his cellphone to right ear. And from what she overheard of the conversation, it was Zoe that he was talking to, for the last five minutes.

A second later, Mal disconnected his phone, and put it away, into a pocket.

Annie continued to look at Mal, as she asked, “So, what is going on?”

Mal turned Annie, as he answered, “The good news is that Zoe said that Chang is okay with the situation. We just need to get this hole fixed.”

Annie commented, “Let us count our blessings that this hole is the only major damage we have to worry about.”

Mal stated, “I agree. The repair personnel should be here in about fifteen to twenty minutes.”

Annie inquired, “What is the hold up?”

Mal responded, “They are getting together their tools and materials for this patch job.”

Annie commented, “That is understandable.”

Mal said, “Yes. It is. And until they get here, one of us will have to be here, to make sure everything goes smoothly.”

Annie questioned, “Do you have anywhere better to be?”

Mal thought, 'Annie will immediately know if I lie to her.' He replied, “No. Zoe, Wash, and Jayne are handling everything else that needs doing on our end. How about yourself?”

Annie said, “Not really.”

Mal asked, “On another matter. I was wondering. This cover story should work. But, do you know any force tricks that might help us?”

Annie answered, “Unfortunately, no. While I do know the basic mind trick ability. And a few of few less than savor mental techniques against others, that require a bit of concentration. I do not know any real force techniques dealing with crowd control and mind tricking large groups of people, at once.”

Mal commented, in a casual manner, “Well, that explains the brute force, and lack of people skills, in your previous life.”

Annie flatly replied, “I will let that comment slide.”

Just then, Mal saw Annie turn her head towards the entrance. She was looking at four adults whom had just entered the casino.

Mal noticed this, as he asked, “What is it?”

Annie kept looking at the entrance to the lobby, as she giggled a little, at the joke she was about to tell. She coyly said, “I sense a disturbance in the force, from someone I have not seen, in several years.”

Mal groaned, as he got Annie's joke. He then inquired, “In a good, or bad, way? There has already been enough damage done to the casino, for one day.”

Annie continued look at the four adults nearby, as she answered, “Good. Very good. Let me introduced you to an old friend.”

Annie then started walking towards the other adults. Mal followed beside her, to Annie's left side.

Mal looked over at saw the four adults. He recognized two of them, as he thought, 'So, Revy and Rock are here, with an old man and a woman in a red cloak and hood. I wonder which one of them knows Annie. And it looks like I am about to find out.'

(_)

Across the room, Rock and Revy came to a stop, with Barbossa and Ahsoka stopping one step after the couple did, in response to Rock and Revy stopping.

Barbossa asked, “What is the hold up?”

Ahsoka smiled under her hood, as she answered for Rock and Revy, “To our right.”

All four adults turned to their right, to seem whom was approaching them. They saw a woman and man walking towards them. The woman had brown hair, and wore a brown robes over white pants, shirt, and shoes. The man wore a black business suit, with dress shoes.

While Ahsoka continued to look at Annie, she asked, “Is that her?”

Rock answered, “Yes. That is Annie.”

Ahsoka grinned, as she replied, “Good. And at least she looks cute.”

Revy cracked a grin, as she commented, “You should see her in a bikini.”

Ahsoka giggled a little.

Meanwhile, Barbossa remained silent, as he only moved his eyes towards Revy. A second later, he turned back to look at the two adults approaching them.

Just then, from the corner of her eye, Revy saw a female guard approaching them, from the front entrance.

The guard was about to confront the four adults.

But, by then, Annie and Mal were within ten feet of the other four adults, as they came to a stop.

Mal turned to the guard, as he said, “Let them be. And go back to your work. They are with our friends. So, we can trust them.”

The guard looked over at Mal, and nodded once. She then turned around, and headed back to her station, at the front entrance, where a few other guards were.

Barbossa looked over at Mal, as he said, in a sincere tone of voice, “Thank you, kind sir.”

As Mal and Annie both came to a stop, eight feet in front of the four adults, Mal stated, “You're welcome. I am Malcolm Reynolds, the chief of security for this casino.”

Barbossa replied, “Nice to meet you.” He thought, 'I do not think I will give my name just yet. Until I am more sure of the situation, and the people, around us.'

Mal looked at Rock, Revy, and the two newcomers, as he thought, 'While I do not know who these two newcomers are. And even with one of them being armed. I am sure that anyone that can stand Revy for more than five minutes has enough self-control to not do something stupid while in this casino.'

'Also, it is clear the old man is sharp. He did not give me his name, yet. But, I will get it in a minute. Though, for now, I will let Annie handle this. Considering she at least knows one of these two individuals.'

Annie and Ahsoka silently looked at each other for a few seconds. They were close enough that Annie could see Ahsoka's mouth and chin, under her hood.

Ahsoka was the first to speak, as she asked, “Anakin?”

Annie replied, “It is Annie, now?”

Ahsoka inquired, “So, what I was told is true?”

Annie said, “Yes.”

Ahsoka stated, “It has been a long time.”

Annie agreed, “Yes.”

Ahsoka inquired, “I heard about your little coup, on Coruscant. Why didn't you include me?”

Annie said, “I couldn't find you.”

Ahsoka said, “Fair enough.” She smiled, as she continued, “It is good to see you.”

Annie returned the smile, as she replied, “Same here.”

The former teacher and student then took a few steps closer to each other, until they were able to hug each other.

While they hugged, Annie said, “I am glad you are alive.”

Ahsoka replied, “Same here.”

Revy look at the two women hug each other, as she thought, 'As touching as this is. There are other matters to deal with.'

Revy turned to look at the hole in the casino wall, as she thought, 'So, this is what Lee meant by being busy. I thought she was having a different kind of busy, in her bedroom. I guess I was wrong. Though, we might as well find out what happen.” She looked over at Mal, as she joked, “I see you have done some redecorating.”

Mal turned to Revy, as he flatly replied, “Ha. Ha. Revy.”

Rock thought, 'Neither Revy, nor Mal, are the most social of people. I best step in, before this becomes a contest to see who can be the most macho. The last time that happen, between these two, was at one of our bikini parties. With Mal as a woman, as well. And as funny as that was watch. This is not the time and place for that.'

Rock calmly asked, “What happened?”

Mal answered, in an even tone of voice, “A break in and theft. It is being handled. Though, no one has been harmed.”

From Mal's tone of voice, the other adults knew better than to ask any other questions.

By then, Annie and Ahsoka let go of their hug, and they took a few steps back from each other.

The former teacher and student continued to look at each other, with warm smiles on their lips.

Annie happily said, “It is good to see you, again.”

Ahsoka joyfully replied, “It is good to see you, as well.”

Ahsoka look Annie up and down. She then look at Annie's face, as she commented, “You certainly have changed.”

Annie replied, “And for the better.” She then turned to Mal, as she stated, “Mal this is my old friend, and a former student of mine. Her name is Ahsoka Tano. She is a Togruta. An alien. That is why she is hiding her appearance from everyone here.” She mentally reflected, 'Though, with all the strangeness in this city, I doubt any of the locals would look twice at a pretty, humanoid alien.'

Mal turned to Annie and Ahsoka, as he said, “That is understandable.” He mentally lamented, with a bit of sarcasm, 'Great. That means she is likely a force user and she has a lightsaber, on her, which she knows how to use. And this just what we need. Another force user. I will just have to warn the others to not play poker with her. Because, if she is a good as Annie, she could clean house, with everyone, but River and Lee.'

Annie turned back to Ahsoka, as she went onto say, “Snips, this is Mal. As he just stated, he is the head of security here. And he is a friend. Though, he is rough around the edges.”

Ahsoka looked over at Mal, as she said, “Nice to meet you.”

Mal turned to Ahsoka, as he replied, “The feeling is mutual.”

Revy noticed the nickname, as she asked, “What is with the, Snips, nickname?”

Ahsoka turned to Revy, as she calmly answered, “It is a joke about my former attitude, when I was a teenager.”

Annie commented, “Yes. You had a real, snippy, attitude back then.”

As Ahsoka turned back to look at Annie, both Ahsoka and Annie giggle a little.

As the two women calmed down, Ahsoka replied, “And I still do, in some ways.”

Annie giggled a little more. She then smiled, as she stated, “Well, it is good to have you here.”

Ahsoka said, “It is good to be here.”

Annie complimented, “And I have to say. It is a smart move on your part to wear a hood and cloak, to hide your appearance. It is a simple, yet elegant solution. And it is rare for aliens to come to this planet. So, you have good reason to hide yourself from the public. But, in the privacy of this employee parts of this casino, you do not need the cloak and hood. The employment here has seen far stranger people than you. And if one of the customers sees you, we will just say you are in makeup for a performance.”

Annie thought, 'This would not the first time we have given that excuse for someone. And that excuse works.'

Ahsoka happily said, “Thank you for informing me.”

Annie replied, in a warm tone of voice, “You're welcome.”

Mal thought, 'Now is my chance.' He turned to Barbossa, as he calmly requested, “Now, that we know who your friend is. Who are you?”

Barbossa looked over at Mal, as he introduced himself, in a slightly humorous tone of voice, “I am, Hector Barbossa. You might have heard of me.”

Mal immediately put the name with Hector's face. He replied, “I have.”

Mal thought, with worry, 'Oh... I am so glad I saw those pirate movies about him... Still, we have Annie's former student, and one of the most craftiest pirates in the multiverse, together, in the casino. With Revy and Rock. Chang needs to handle this. Not I. Annie, Revy, and Rock, will at least listen to him, if things start to go bad.'

Mal stated, “If you will excuse me. I have an errand that I need to run.”

Rock turned Mal, as she said, “Have fun.”

Rock then looked back over at the others around her, as they continued their conversation.

Meanwhile, Mal turned towards the right side of the room, from the entrance. He then began walking towards the door that lead to the back of both the check in desk, tellers.

While Mal walked, he thought, 'That was not a lie. So, I should be okay. Now, to find a place to contact Chang, where Annie, Revy, and Rock's sharp ears won't hear me.'

A few seconds later, he reached the door. He pulled out his security key card, and slid it against the electronic lock, by the door. He then put in his personal password, as he thought, 'While Chang didn't tell me why. He did request that I change my password. Which I did.'

Mal heard the door unlock, and he pulled it to him.

As he walked into the small hallway on the other side of the door, he shut the door behind him. He then put away his key card, and he pulled out his encrypted cellphone.

Mal held his cellphone in his right hand, as he used his left hand to speed dial he had preset in his contact list.

While Mal dialed the number, he thought, 'I need to tell Chang what is going on. After all, he is the boss. So, he should handle this, himself. And just in case things go bad, I will hang back here. So, I can have a heard start.'

'I have no illusions about my chances against two force users. And with Barbossa and Revy there, there is a real chance that things could go real bad, real quick. Even with Rock present.'

'And if things go well, I will stay here, until the repair team shows up, to hand off the job of fixing that hole to them.'

As Mal finished dialing Chang's personal cellphone number. He held his phone up to his right ear.

The phone rang a few of times, before Chang picked up.

On the other end of the line, Chang inquired, in a tired tone of voice, “What is it this time, Mal?”

Mal calmly said, “Chang. This is important... There are some people that have just entered the casino, with Revy and Rock. Their names are Ahsoka Tano, a friend of Annie's. And Hector Barbossa. And yes. I believe he is that Barbossa. Annie is there, with them. And I left her to handle things. They are currently in the front lobby.”

There was silence for a few seconds, on the line. Chang then replied, in a more firm tone of voice, “Thank you, Mal. I will be right there.”

Chang hung up the phone, from his end.

Mal turned off the connection from on his cellphone. He then put his cellphone away, into the pocket he had pulled it out of.

Mal then stood, as he leaned his back against one of the walls of the hallway. He thought, 'Now, to hope that things work out for the best.'

(_)

At that moment, inside the main security room of the casino, a rare instance had occurred. With the casino security staff being on alert, without alerting their guests. Though, with the other casino staff being told to just act normally.

Most of the casino security had assigned elsewhere. Some of the security were appointed to main the front lobby, to help with flow traffic at the entrance and hallway that lead into the lobby. While others personnel were sent to guard the other entrances to the casino. In addition, two security personnel each, were assigned to guard each of the various casino vaults, and security storage lockers. And most of the security staff that was left, were sent to increase guards that already were stationed within the gaming floor, and a few other places.

Even Arcee was called in to stand outside the back garage entrances, in her motorcycle mode.

The only ones currently in the main security room was Jayne, was there because Mal and Zoe trusted him to direct the other staff, with the communications equipment in the room. Also, there was some computer technicians, at various work stations, whom were checking on and repairing the casino computers, software issues. And River and Lee, whom just reached the room five minutes ago, with the two women being there to help Jayne.

Presently, Jayne was sitting down in a swivel chair, at a computer workstation. He had just finished up his parts in doing the final parts of the computer diagnostic programs on the main casino computers. With the diagnostic programs stating that all computers were reported to be fine.

When the computer system was installed, the security staff was given lessons on how to use it. Including, Jayne, Zoe, and Mal. And Wash presently using some of his off hours to better learn the computer system, so he could do his job better, as a member of the security staff, at the casino.

River and Lee were standing behind Jayne. And all three adults were all looked up at the wall in front of them. The wall in question was the wall in front of them, in the main casino security room. The wall had video screens laid out across it, in a grid pattern, which showed silent video feeds from the various security cameras placed in the casino.

Presently, all three of them were watching the video feeds that showed different angles of the front lobby of the casino. And the group, composed of Annie, Rock, Revy, and two newcomers.

Less than a minute ago, the three adults had watched Mal leave the group of adults standing around the front lobby entrance. The other adults were Annie, Rock, Revy, and old bearded man in black colored, biker clothing, and a woman whose looks were hidden behind a red hood and cloak.

And Lee was the first person to realize who the old man was, as she asked, “Is that?”

River had read Lee's thoughts, as she said, “I think he is.”

Lee commented, “And who is that woman that Annie just hugged? I wonder who she is?”

River responded, “She is wearing that hood and cloak to tightly for me to tell. And I am not going to try to telepathically sense the thoughts of one of Annie's friends. So, there is only one way to find out.”

Lee stated, “I agree. It is not worth the risk. And you are correct, there is only one way left.”

River mentioned, “Also, all of Annie's friends tend to be very powerful, and very dangerous.”

Lee replied, “I know.”

Jayne kept looking at the video monitors on the wall, as he inquired, in a confused tone of voice, “Girls, I cannot understand you... What are you two talking about?”

Lee looked down at Jayne, as she explained, “While we don't who the woman that Annie just hugged is. We do recognize the old man as the pirate captain, Hector Barbossa.”

Jayne asked, “I do not recall the name?”

Lee said, “Barbossa is one of the main characters from Pirates of the Caribbean movies.”

Jayne replied, “Okay. So, he is an old pirate from those movies. What does that mean?”

River looked down at Jayne, as well. She answered for Lee, by stating, in a serious tone of voice, “It means that he is a crafty old pirate who knows how to start a whole lot of trouble. He is almost at Jack Sparrow's level, in such savviness. And whomever is with him, is a friend of Annie's. Add to that Revy is nearby, and you have a massive recipe for possible destruction.”

Jayne turned around in his swivel chair, and looked up at the two women, as he said, “Okay. That explains why the captain left. But, we just got robbed, less than two hours ago. We don't need anymore trouble today.”

Lee stated, “Yes. We agree.”

River responded, “We have to get down there before something bad happens. If you do not mind, Jayne. I would prefer you to stay here, and keep an eye on things.

Jayne said, “No problem. Let me know if you need any help.”

River replied, “We will.”

River and Lee then turned and walked towards the exit of the security room, that lead to a back hallway, that would take them to the front lobby of the casino.

Jayne turned in his swivel chair, as he silently watched the two women reach the door. Lee was first to the door. She opened it, and held it open for River. Lee then, walked through the door, and closed it behind here.

Jayne then turned his swivel back to face the wall of with the monitor screens on it.

On one of the video feeds he watched as River and Lee walk down a back hallway, away from the security room.

When Jayne saw them turn the corner, to another hallway, and he knew that he was likely at a safe distance from them, he let out a sigh of relief.

Jayne continued to look at the various video feeds, showing River and Lee walking through the back hallways.

While Jayne watched the two women, he thought, with mild annoyance, 'Hiding my thoughts, and emotions, are becoming such a chore.' He then continued his thoughts with more happiness, 'But, after so long, at least I know I can do it, when it comes to River, and Annie.'

'And if River and Lee want to handle this mess. I say, let them. I am getting the same pay and benefits, if I am doing my job in here, or out there, on the floors.'

'And in the long run, all that doesn't matter. The people do, but this job doesn't. What does matter is dinner tonight, and those I will be with... I am so looking forward to seeing them.'

'Also, the fun thing about being fourth in line, in the management and security of this casino. Next to Chang, then Mal, then Zoe, is that nobody questions me when I leave, unannounced. And if Mal, Zoe, Chang, or the others ask where I have been, I will just tell them I was on an errand. Which is not truly a lie. And they take my word at face value.'

'And since Wash has returned, it has been so much easier to work with Mal and Zoe. Especially, Zoe. And they are so happy, that they both could care less about what I am doing, as long as I am not harming them, our friends, nor this casino's reputation.'

'Also, Zoe and Wash's wedding was fun. Good people. Good cake. Good dancing. Good music. Good party. And it was good to see both Wash and Book again. As adults. And they both remember me.'

'And should any of them catch me, at what I have done. I can always point out that what I did was actually less troublesome than what River and Lee did to bring back Wash and Book.'

'And while I am not sure about Chang, River, and Lee. Mal and Zoe are many things. But, they try their best not to be hypocrites.'

Jayne then went back to his job, as he patiently waited for the evening to come.

(_)

Meanwhile, as River and Lee walked down the hallways, to the front lobby, River asked, “Do you think we should contact Chang?”

Lee responded, “No need. I would already guess that Chang is on his way, as well. As Chief of Security, Mal is suppose to handle situations like these. And he does have a sense of honor in doing so. But, he is not stupid. If he feels he cannot handle a situation, he will ask for help. And the only person his pride would let him call, while doing this job, would be his boss, Chang. That is likely the reasons that Mal excused himself. So, he could find someplace private to contact Chang, and let him step in to handle this mess.”

River said, “That makes sense. Sometimes I forget how sharp you are.”

Lee replied, “Being sharp comes with this lifestyle.”

River agreed, “You are right about that.”

The two women then continued walking down the hallway they were in.

(_)

At that moment, nearby, Chang was just walking out of the gaming floor, and into the hallway leading between the gaming floor and the front lobby.

Except for Chang, there was no one else in the hallway.

When Chang got the call from Mal, he had immediately started heading downstairs, to talk to those that Mal had mentioned by phone.

As Chang walked he thought, 'Even after everything that has happened this morning. I am pleasantly surprised that Mal has the fortitude to call me directly, when the situation warrants it. And this situation does warrant my direct attention.'

'Besides defusing a potential problem like this. Which needs my personal attention. I need to keep things peaceful, so there is not any more damage to my casino.'

'Still, how did Ahsoka and Barbossa end up in this reality? I will just have to ask them, when I see them.'

Just then, as Chang approached the locked doors, along the wall of the hallway, to his right, Chang saw one of the doors open. And Chang saw River and Lee walk out the door.

Lee shut the door behind her.

A second later, Lee and River spotting Chang, and they quickly walked up to him.

The two women walked up to be beside Chang's right. With River being beside Chang, and Lee to River's right.

There was no one else around, as they walked through the hallway.

As the three adults continued walking towards the front lobby, Chang inquired, “Let me guess. You recognized Barbossa on the video screen?”

River said, “Got it in one.”

Lee questioned, “So, how did you know what is going on?”

Chang stated, “Mal called me, to let me know what was going on.”

Lee thought, 'Told you.'

River cracked a grin at Lee's thoughts. She then said, “Still, we could not figure out who the woman in a red clock and hood, whom was hugging, and talking, to Annie.”

Chang said, “That must be Ahsoka Tano.”

Lee asked, “Annie's former student?”

Chang stated, “The very same.”

Lee said, “Then, this could be worse than we thought.”

Chang conceded, “That is possible.”

Lee then realized, as she stated, “I think it might be worse. It is possible Barbossa was the one to inform Revy about Jack.”

River said, “That would explain why Rock and Revy are with them.”

Lee commented, “And it is likely Rock and Revy gave those two a lift here, to see Annie.”

River agreed, “That is very possible.”

Chang asked, “While, I agree. I want to know how could Barbossa know the connection between Jack and Revy?”

Lee said, “Likely the same way Barbossa and Ahsoka found Revy in the first place. They clearly used a reality device to get here. Then, they used Jack's magic compass.”

Chang deadpanned, “Oh... That is just great.” He then asked, in a more curious tone of voice, “Still, is there any way we could get our hands on that compass?”

River pointed out, “We have to first confirm the compass is here.”

Lee responded, “I am sure the compass is here. That compass is the only way all the pieces fit. And Jack would guard that compass with his life. Still, I know for a fact that the Jack we met, as Revy, died from a noose in Caracas. He. Well, she told me. It is very possible that Barbossa was involved in Jack's death, and he got his hands on Jack's compass.”

Chang questioned, “So, how do we get the compass from Barbossa?”

Lee stated, “We don't. At least not for the moment. We don't want to create an incident. Especially, with Annie, Revy, and Ahsoka, nearby. That is just asking for trouble.”

Chang conceded, “True. Still, you are our resident manipulative bitch. No offense.”

Lee cracked a grin, as she replied, “None taken. Considering all three of us are magnificent bitches, or bastards. Depending on our moods.”

River giggled a little at Lee's joke.

Chang smiled, as he asked, “Touche. So, how do we get the compass?”

Lee answered, “Simple. Though, it will not be right now. We will have to be patient. Barbossa is an old man. And he likely realizes he will die soon. And he knows better than to leave such a dangerous artifact unattended. He will likely leave it to someone he knows. Maybe someone here. The person might even be Revy. We will just the person and make we then a fair offer for the compass.”

Chang complimented, “Good idea.”

Lee replied, “Thank you.”

River suggested, “Why don't we just offer the vat treatment. Restore Barbossa's youth, in exchange for the compass. Even with the gender change. I don't see how he could refuse the offer.”

Lee stated, “I completely disagree. If even half of what happened to the movies, happened to this Barbossa. Which I don't see any reason not to assume that. Then, he has literally been a member of the undead, and he as been killed and come back from the dead at least once.”

“He knows what is waiting for him on the other side of death, and he has never acted once in fear of dying, and going back there... No. He is likely looking forward to death, like a long, well earned rest.”

Chang questioned, “So, you don't think he went to hell?”

Lee commented, “If he did. He must have made a good impression on the devil.”

Chang said, “That is possible.”

River asked, “Still, how could Ahsoka even be here? She is not from the movies.”

Lee pointed out, “You forget that I used Cad Bane in my stories. And Ahsoka is from the same series and meta-timeline as Cad Bane. They are both from the Clone Wars animated TV series.”

River inquired, “So, why didn't you use her in your stories?”

Lee stated, “She was a child during the series. And at the end of the series, she left the order. So, there was hope for her future. And I didn't want to mess her up anymore than she already was. I just hope she is not here for revenge against Annie.”

River said, “I won't worry. Annie can take care of herself.”

Lee pointed out, “Actually, if those two clash, I am more concerned about those around them.”

River questioned, “That is a good point. We just need to make sure that doesn't happen.”

Chang calmly requested, “Well, we will get our answers in a minute. And defuse this problem, at the same time. And please let me do the talking.”

Lee commented, “That works for me.”

River replied, “Of course.”

The three lovers then continued walking down the hallway.

(_)

Meanwhile, at the front lobby, Annie, Ahsoka, Barbossa, Rock, and Revy, were still standing together, in a group, while facing each other, as they continued their conversation.

Annie turned to her former student, Ahsoka, as she asked, “So, where are you two planning staying?”

Ahsoka looked over at Annie, as she said, “I am not really sure.” She turned to Barbossa, as she asked, “What do you think?”

Barbossa turned to Ahsoka, as he answered, “I plan on heading back to the Devil's Hotel to check in. I believe that they accept gold there.”

Annie said, “They do. And so does this place.”

Barbossa looked over at Annie, as he stated, “That is good.” He turned to Ahsoka, as he suggested, “Though, Red, I feel you need to be with your friend here.”

Ahsoka replied, “Of course.” She turned to Annie as she commented, “Though, while Barbossa has some money. I don't have anything to pay for lodgings.”

Annie stated, “Don't worry. I will pay for your room and board.”

Ahsoka smiled at Annie, as she replied, “Thank you.”

Just then. Chang, Lee, and River walk up to the five adults.

As Change Lee, and River came to a stop a few feet from the group, the other adults turned to look at them.

Chang stated, “I am Chang. The owner of this casino.”

Barbossa commented, “I did not expect to meet the owner of this establishment so soon.”

Chang stated, “When my scheduling allows. I make it a policy to try to meet high provide individuals, such as yourselves, when you show up.”

Barbossa replied, “Of course.”

Annie said, “Let introduce everyone. You already know who Chang is. The two women with him are River and Lee. River is the redhead, and Lee is the black haired woman. River, Lee, the woman in red is my friend, Ahsoka Tano. And the man with us is, Hector Barbossa.”

Ahsoka turned to River and Lee, as she politely commented, “Nice to meet all three of you.”

Chang, Lee and River looked over at Ahsoka, as River replied, “Same here.”

Chang commented, “It is always nice to see new faces, and meet new people.”

Lee stated, “I looked forward to getting to know you, better.”

Barbossa commented, “I always liked the additions of more pretty faces.”

Lee looked at Barbossa, as she replied, “I appreciate that.”

Chang turned to Revy and Rock, as he asked, “So, Revy, Rock, how did you end up with these two?”

Revy answered, “Well, Barbossa found us with his... Well, my former magic compass. And he told me about my previous life as Jack Sparrow.” She shrugged towards Ahsoka, as she continued, “And it seems that Ahsoka here has been traveling with Barbossa for a while now.”

Chang commented, “That is interesting.”

Barbossa turned to Revy, as he flatly questioned, “Lass, are you sure you are not Jack, right now? Because you certainly share the secrets of others, easily. Just like Jack.”

Chang teased, “So, that is where she gets that from?”

Except for Revy, Barbossa, and Chang, the others laughed a little at Chang's comment.

Revy apologized, “Sorry. I got a little ahead of myself.”

Barbossa calmly said, “Oh well... Don't feel to bad about it. It would not take one long to figure out I have that compass.” He turned to Chang, as he flatly stated, “I can see it in your eyes that you want my compass. And the answer is, no. I am not selling it.”

As those adults that had been laughing, calmed down, Chang complimented, “I am fine with that. And while I wouldn't mind purchasing that item from you. I have no intention of trying to steal it.”

Barbossa stated, “Aye. Yet, you are gambling my age will aid you in gaining my compass, when the reaper finally comes to claim my soul for good.”

Chang admitted, “Yes.”

Barbossa said, “At least we are honest with each other.”

Chang commented, “A rarity in our professions”

Barbossa agreed, “Absolutely.”

Lee thought, 'Someone needs to change the subject, before we accidentally create the very problems we are trying to avoid.” She turned to Ahsoka, as she asked, “So, what are your plans, while staying here, in the city?”

Before Ahsoka could speak, Revy interrupted, “While I am not sure about Ahsoka here. Barbossa here is planning to teach Shenhua few things about sword fighting.”

Lee commented, “That is not surprising. He is one of the best sword fighters of his time.” She mentally reflected, 'And he is getting up there in age. Finding a student would likely be a hobby for him.'

Barbossa turned to Lee, as he said, “Thank you, young lady.”

Lee looked over at Barbossa, as she replied, “You're welcome.” She then turned back to Revy.

Revy stated, “Exactly. And he just beat Shenhua in a sparing match, back at the hotel bar.”

Lee smiled, as she answered, “I wish I could have seen that.” She thought, 'I wonder if the Lowe family still had access to the hotel security camera system. Or, I could just ask Melanie for a copy. I am sure, if I asked politely, in person, she would gladly give me copy.'

Revy inquired, “By the way, about the day I blacked out and awoke in that pirate's costume. Though, I don't remember that time. I now know I was Jack during that time. What I don't know is how did you get me back to normal?”

Lee answered, “Fortunately, Annie and River, here, were able to put Jack back into the bottle.”

Annie commented, “It wasn't that hard.”

River agreed, “No. It wasn't.” She thought, 'Once we got Jack to agree to allow us to put her back into a dormant state.'

Revy looked over at Annie and River, as she said, “I am glad to hear that. And should that happen again, I know who to go to for help.”

River offered, “Anytime you need it.” She thought, 'I agree with Lee, that should Jack return. She would cause nothing but trouble for everyone. Including, possibly wrecking Revy's personal life. So, I might as well keep the door open for Revy to seek our help, if that does happen again.'

Revy replied, “Thank you.”

Chang turned to Barbossa, as he said, “Now, that is settled. Since, I am the owner of this establishment, I can tell you both, that you are more than welcome to spend time here, and gamble in my casino.”

Ahsoka said, “I don't gamble.”

Barbossa coyly replied, “I prefer to gamble in other ways.”

Chang commented, “To each their own.”

Annie mentioned, “That being said. Ahsoka here has decided to stay with us.”

Chang looked over at Annie, and then to Ahsoka. He said, “That is wonderful. And what of Barbossa?”

Annie answered, “Barbossa is heading back to the Devil's Hotel.”

Chang said, “Of course.” He turned to Barbossa, as he continued, “So, you can be closer to Shenhua, as you train her?”

Barbossa replied, “Exactly.” Barbossa thought, 'This Chang is clearly a very sharp man. He has already tried to convince me to stay at the casino in a few different ways. He clearly still wants my compass. And he wants to keep me around, so he might have the chance to acquire it. I will have to watch myself around him, and his workers.'

River then realized, as she thought, 'I cannot read Barbossa's mind at all. I wonder why? Still, that is not important. And I don't dare try to read Ahsoka's mind... I will just sort this out, later.'

Rock thought, 'As fun as this is. The only reason those three would show up, is because they are concerned that a fight might break out. And with this crew, that might happen. But, I can solve that problem real quick.'

Rock casually stated, “Well, we need to be heading back to the hotel.” She turned to Ahsoka, as she said, “Ahsoka, I hope you have a pleasant time here.”

Ahsoka turned to Rock, as she commented, “I plan too, Rock. And thank you for the ride.”

Rock replied, “You're welcome, Ahsoka. And don't be a stranger. I would love to hear about some of things you know about the multiverse. Even about your home galaxy.”

Ahsoka commented, “That would take several days to tell you.”

Rock stated, “Not to worry. We have the time.”

Ahsoka said, “I will consider it.”

Rock replied, “Thank you.”

Revy suggested, “We will just invite her to have some of our drinking parties at the Rats Nest. I am sure the others will love to meet her. And such stories are great over a few drinks.”

Ahsoka responded, “I agree. And I just might take you up on your invitation.”

Revy requested, “Just think about it. And let us know.”

Ahsoka replied, “I will. And I will let you know.”

Revy replied, “Good. You can reach us at the Devil's Hotel.”

Ahsoka said, “I will keep that mind.”

Barbossa turned to Ahsoka, as he stated, “Have a good time, Red. When I get checked into my own room, I will leave a message at the front desk of this casino, with my phone number, and room number.”

Ahsoka looked at Barbossa, as she said, “Thanks. I will look forward to your message. And I will inform you when I am assigned a room, as well.”

Barbossa replied, “That will be fine.”

Chang turned to Ahsoka, as he offered, “Ahsoka. I would be more than happy to give you a tour of this casino. And then we will find you a room to stay in.”

Ahsoka looked at Chang, as she stated, “Annie already said she would help me with getting a room. Though, I would love to have that tour.”

Lee looked over at Chang, as she thought, 'Chang's tours are always fun. And I am sure, River, and Annie, are going to come with Ahsoka and Chang. So, I might as well, come also.'

Chang smiled, as he said, “Then, right this way. We will head to the gaming floor first. Since, it is the closest location in this tour. Then, we will go from there.”

Chang then turned around, and he started walking back towards the hallway that lead to the gaming floor.

Ahsoka, Annie, River, and Lee, followed right behind Chang.

Meanwhile, Barbossa, Rock, and Revy, turned, and they started heading for the front door, to Rock and Revy's GTO, that was parked out front, in the casino parking lot. So, they could return to the Devil's Hotel and Resort.

(_)

A few minutes later, Mal opened the door he was beside. He poked his head out of the small hallway he was in, and into towards the lobby. He around to the check in desk, to see that the others had left. He leaned back up straight, exited the hallway, and shut the door behind him. After which, he returned to the front lobby to wait for the repair team, which showed up ten minutes later, from the large hallway connecting to the lobby, to the gaming floor.

The repair team were pushing two carts full of tools and supplies, to be used to fix the hold in the wall.

Mal then handed off the job of looking after the hole in the wall, and repairing it, to the repair team.

The repair team then began their repairs on patching the hole in the wall. Within three hours of the start of their repair work, and the place where the hole had been, now looked exactly like it has been, before it was blown up.

(_)

Earlier, around twenty minutes after Rock, Revy, and Barbossa had lead the Daiyu Palace Casino, Rock finished driving, Revy and Barbossa, as she pulled into the front of the Devil's Hotel parking lot, and parked her family's red Pontiac GTO.

They the got out of the car, with Barbossa putting back on his scabbard and sword, on the left side of his belt. After which, Rock and Revy shut their doors, and they inside.

Though, as they head into the front lobby entrance, they did not notice another car pulling up into the parking lot, near where the GTO was parked.

As Rock, Revy, and Barbossa walked into the lobby, from the front entrance, Barbossa asked, “So, shall we retire back to the bar, with your lovely friends?”

Rock came to a stop, with Revy and Barbossa stopping right behind her.

With her back turned to Barbossa, Rock rolled her eyes for a seconds, as she thought, 'I would call Barbossa a dirty old man. But, he would likely take that as a compliment. Still, let's look around.'

Rock looked around her. To her right, on the right side of the lobby, she saw her five adult daughters, sitting around a set of four couches, that were set in a square, facing each other. The couches were placed near the windows of the lobby. And there was a low, square coffee table set in the middle of the couches. In addition, there was enough room, in the gaps, in the four corners of the couches, for someone to easily walk in and out of.

Rock also saw three women sitting with her five daughters. Those three women being Ranma, Natsuru, and Akira. She also noticed that from the facial expressions on their faces, the eight adult women were having a wonderful conversation. And though she could have listened in on their discussion, with her enhanced hearing, she chose not too.

Rock then looked to her left, and she saw that another set of four couches, turned to face each other, with a low, square coffee table set in the center. The set of couches were places by the windows, on the left side of the lobby. She saw that the rest of her family and friends were sitting around, in those couches, while they talked.

The people sitting at those couches were, Dutch, Benny, Janet, Lotton, Shenhua, Sawyer, Aeryn, Violin, Yolanda, Eda, and Roberta.

Rock also noticed, that except those she knew, and the two hotel staff members, at the check in counter, there was no one else in the room.

Rock thought, 'I guess the people here are wise enough to avoid us. Though, as long as we continue to pay for our rooms, leave the other customers alone, and we don't damage the property, we are allowed to stay here... Still, where is Hernan?'

And Rock looked some more, and she did not see Hernan, anywhere in the room.

Rock thought, 'Hernan must have gone back to work. Which is understandable. Considering he was only here to have some lunch, and visit Roberta. And after getting to know him, I think he is a nice guy. I am glad that he and his family have gotten along so well with Roberta and Garcia. I believe that Roberta and Hernan are good influences on each other.'

'Also, we are going to have to tell them about what happened at the casino. But, we really don't have any information, right now. Given Mal was tight lipped, and Annie had other matters on her mind, by being reunited with Ahsoka.'

'Still, I need to answer to Barbossa's question. And I will move on from there.'

Rock kept her back turned to Barbossa and Revy, as she stated, “No. The party has moved to here... This way...” She turned to her left, as she walked over to the older members of her family and friends.

Revy and Barbossa followed Rock.

A few seconds later, they reached the women whom were sitting down at the couches.

As they approached the adults that were sitting down, the other adults stopped talking, while they turned to look at the three newcomers.

Rock came to a stop, as she stood by the back, right corner of the couches, from the front left corner of the room, to allow those sitting down, to be able to turn, and look at them.

Barbossa stood behind Rock, to Rock's right.

Meanwhile, Revy walked around Rock, and she went over to sit down on the couch where Benny, Janet, and Dutch were. Fortunately, there was still enough room for her to sit down on that couch.

Dutch was the first to speak, as she casually asked, “So, how did it go?”

Barbossa replied, “Wonderfully.”

Rock coyly replied, “It depends on how you look at it.”

Dutch inquired, “What do you mean?”

Benny asked, “Was there a fight there?”

Rock answered, “Yes. But, the fight happened before we got there.”

Revy stated, in a casual tone of voice, “The casino got robbed.”

Except for Rock and Barbossa, Revy's comment took everyone else around them, by surprise.

Dutch said, “I never thought I would see the day someone stole from Chang in such a brazen manner.”

Benny replied, “You and me, both, Dutch.”

Janet said, “The thief, or the thieves, either don't know who they stole from. Or, they are suicidal.”

Roberta commented, “Or, they just like a challenge.”

Dutch said, “There is challenging, and there is crazy. This is borderline for both.”

Roberta replied, “Most real challenges are.”

Shenhua stated, “Either way, that would be an extremely unwise action to take.”

Violin stated, “Well, whomever stole from Chang must have some a serious pair of stones.”

Aeryn commented, “And whomever did it, must be very intelligent and resourceful. Chang's security is formidable. Even by Peacekeeper standards.”

Yolanda said, “You are correct about that.”

Eda questioned, “Who would do this?”

Rock said, “We don't know. Those at the casino are not talking. Though, we will find out, later.”

Yolanda commented, “That would likely be wise. Given, Chang, and the other things, are very prideful people.”

Rock agreed, “That is true.”

Janet asked, “Do the thief, or thieves, escape?”

Revy mentioned, “Though, from the hole in the wall, in the front lobby of the casino.
I am guessing that the thieves got away.” She though, 'Given Mal not have been acting so uptight, if they had caught, or killed them.'

Dutch inquired, “How bad was the damage?”

Revy replied, “Not bad. And they will likely have the hole completely repaired by later today.”

Dutch said, “Well, that is good.” She thought, 'And it means Chang will not be too upset.'

Janet stated, “Still, whoever these guys are. I hope they know how to hide. Because Chang will eventually come after them.

Roberta turned to Janet, as she commented, “While I agree with you. Given that they were able to achieve a successful break in and theft, I believe Chang might try to hire them.”

Sawyer flatly asked, “Chang would not that foolhardy? Would he?” She turned to Shenhua, and Lotton, whom were sitting right beside her, to her left, on the couch they were sitting at.

Sawyer saw Shenhua and Lotton looking at her.

Shenhua just shrugged, in response.

Lotton said, “It is possible. Chang does value talent. And anyone that could break in, and get away, would be talented. Though, it would depend if anyone got hurt.”

Rock stated, “Mal stated, no one was harmed.” She thought, 'And from the way everyone was acting there. I believe that is the case.'

Lotton replied, “That is good.”

Benny asked, “So, how as the reunion between Annie and Ahsoka?

Rock said, “It went very well.”

It was then that Barbossa chose to speak up, as he stated, “Yes. Red seems to be happy with her meeting with Annie.”

Lotton guessed, “You don't have a clue who Annie is?”

Barbossa turned to Lotton, as he responded, “Quite the contrary. I have seen the Star Wars movies. And Ashoka's Clone Wars movie and series. Which she has seen, as well. And it may interest you that I have dealt with worse individuals than Vader could ever hope to be.”

Lotton stated, in a serious tone of voice, “If anyone else has made that claim. I would not have believe them. But you, I do believe.”

Barbossa cracked a wicked grin, as he said, “Thank you, for your vote of confidence.”

Violin inquired, “So, where is Ahsoka?”

Revy answered, “She decided to stay at the casino. So, she could visit Annie.”

Dutch stated, “I am glad just glad their union went so well. It could have gone very badly.”

Revy replied, “Oh, I agree.”

Just then, from her vantage point, Shenhua saw Nodoka, Yurika, and Mikoto, enter the front entrance of the lobby, as they herded four toddler children with them. Three girls and a boy.

Shenhua thought, 'Good. They are finally here. And I think I will introduce Barbossa to them.'

Shenhua stood up from her seat. She then turned to Barbossa, as she kindly requested, “Barbossa, could you please come with me, for a moment. I would like you to meet some people.”

Barbossa looked over at Shenhua, as he replied, “Sure.”

Shenhua then walked over, passed Rock, and Barbossa.

Barbossa turned and followed Shenhua towards the middle of the room.

The rest of the adults present, turned to see where Shenhua and Barbossa were heading, and they realized whom had returned.

Roberta commented, “I am glad they are back, safe and sound.”

Dutch agreed, “So am I.”

Violin said, “It looks like our daughter is fine.”

Aeryn agreed, “Yes. It seems so. And those three can be trusted with her welfare.”

Benny asked, “Hey, Lotton. Are you sure it is wise to let Barbossa so close to your children?”

Lotton stated, “I am sure. Barbossa knows better than to harm our children. And if he does. He will deeply regret it.”

Sawyer commented, “My chainsaw is in our suite. I can get go up there, get it, and bring it back down here, within a few minutes.”

Lotton replied, “Exactly.”

(_)

Meanwhile, Shenhua was not the only ones that saw Nodoka, Yurika, and Mikoto return with the young children.

On the right side of the room, the five Lagoon sisters, along with Ranma, Akira, and Natsuru, saw them enter the room, as well.

As the eight adults look over at at them, Sarah said, “It looks like they are back.”

Akira commented, “Yes. And they are likely tired from their babysitting trip. Still, this experience has likely done some good.”

Ranma suggested, “Yes. It likely did. How about you five bring our daughters over here? There is much we need to tell them. And it would be best just to get it out of the way.”

Natsuru turned to Ranma, as she complimented, “Good idea, Ranma.”

Molly said, “Sure.” She then looked around, at her sisters, as she stated, “Let's go, girls.”

Ranma, Akira, and Natsuru then watched as the five Lagoon sisters get up from their seats, as they headed over to the center of the room, to retrieve their three adults daughters.

(_)

A few seconds later, Shenhua and Barbossa, and the five Lagoon sister, reached Nodoka, Yurika, Mikoto, and the four toddler children, as the same time.

As everyone present stood, and looked at each other, Rebecca commented, “Well, this is awkward.”

Nodoka asked, “What is going on?”

Yukio answered, “There is a lot of we need to talk about. If you don't mind, your parents would like you to join them.”

Nodoka turned to Yukio, as she replied, “Okay.”

Meanwhile, the four toddlers just stood and watched the adults talk.

Mikoto pointed at Barbossa, with her right hand, as she inquired, “Who is he?” She then dropped her hand to her side.

Molly stated, “We will tell you in a minute.”

Shenhua suggested, “It might be best if you three go with them. And thank you, Nodoka, Yurika, Mikoto. I will take it from here. So, have some fun with your friends.”

Yurika turned to Shenhua, as she said, “Thank you.”

Nodoka, Yurika, and Mikoto, then headed with the five sisters, back to meet with their parents, on the right side of the room.

Shenhua and Barbossa looked at the eight woman, whom were heading towards the right side of the room.

Barbossa asked, “Who are those three women?”

Shenhua answered, “The green haired girl is, Yurika. The purple haired girl is, Mikoto. The girl that has blue hair, with black highlights is, Nodoka. The three of them are sisters. And they are all very nice. Much nicer than us. Still, each of them can manipulate various elements of nature.”

“Yurika can create and control electricity. Mikoto can generate and control fire. And Nodoka can manipulate, water, ice, fog, and steam.”

Barbossa stated, “I will be sure to stay on their good sides.”

Shenhua replied, “That would be wise. Now, let me introduce to you my children. And the child of my friends.”

Shenhua turned to looked down at at the four children, Three of whom, were her children.

Barbossa looked down at the children, as well. He saw that all four kids were wearing tennis shoes of various colors. That the three girls were were feminine colored pants and shirt, while the young boy wore blue jeans, shirt under a sweater.

Shenhua said, in a sweet, warm tone of voice, in english, “Children. This is Barbossa. Say hello.”

The four children looked over at Barbossa, as they said, almost in unison, in english, “Hello.”

Barbossa calmly replied, “Nice to meet you.”

Shenhua then used her right hand to point at the black haired girl with asian facial features, and pale skin tone. She stated, “This is, Wenqian. I gave birth to her. She is one of my three children.”

Next, Shenhua pointed at a black haired girl, with pale skin and caucasian facial features. She said, “This is, Ivy. She is one of my children, as well.”

Shenhua pointed at the black haired boy, with asian features, and fair skin. She said, “This is. Thomas. Another one of my children.”

Shenhua pointed at the girl with dark blue hair, asian facial features, and fair skin. She stated, “This is, Gilina. She is the daughter of two family friends that you met today. The dark blue haired woman known as, Violin. And the black haired woman known as, Aeryn.”

Shenhua then dropped her right hand back to her side.

Barbossa turned to Shenhua, as he complimented, “They all appear to be happy, healthy children. And those are all fine names. Especially, Wenqian. Which I know what that name means. It means refined and modest.”

Shenhua looked over at Barbossa. She smiled, as she said, “I am surprised you are taking finding out I have children, in stride.”

Barbossa commented, “Yes. I am not surprised you are now a mother. Actually, I find it comforting that you are continuing your family line.”

Shenhua replied, “Thank you.” She thought, 'I find Barbossa taking such a relaxed view on my motherhood, both amusing. Though, comforting.'

Barbossa commented, “And contrary to my reputation. I try not to harm children. Adults of either gender are fair game. But, children are off limits.”

Shenhua thought, 'I am glad that carried over to me.' She said, “That is nice to hear. And I agree.”

Barbossa suggested, “Good. Now, let's reunite this children with their parents. And then I will go check in to the hotel, and get a room.”

Shenhua replied, “My thoughts, exactly. Afterward, I will help you check into the hotel.”

Barbossa said, “Thank you. I appreciate that. And when we are finished, we will talk about your training regiment.” He thought, 'Then, I will find out the phone number for the casino, from Shenhua. And I will leave a message there for Ahsoka.'

Shenhua happily commented, “I look forward to it.”

Shenhua and Barbossa then lead the young children over to their parents, on the left side of the lobby.

(_)

Meanwhile, on the right side of the lobby, the five Lagoon sisters had returned to the seats they had been in before, on the couches.

As the five sisters sat down, Mikoto and Yurika sat down, on a couch, near their parents. While, Nodoka sat next to Kristina, on another couch.

Nodoka and Kristina looked at each other and then kiss each other on the lips for a brief moment. After they broke their kiss, Kristina asked, “How was your babysitting experience?”

Nodoka said, “Quiet. For the most part. They are very well behaved, for their age.”

Kristina replied, “That is nice.” The couple then turned their attention back to the others.

As this went on, Ranma, Natsuru, and Akira, had decided to stay silent, as they listened to their children, and their friends talk.

Yurika looked around her, at the other women nearby, as she asked, “So, what did we miss?”

Rebecca replied, “A lot.”

Sarah explained, “After you left this morning, with the kids, two individuals showed up at the bar here, while we were all having an early lunch.”

Nodoka asked, “And those two would be?”

Yukio stated, “Hector Barbossa from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. That old man you just met, with Shenhua. He is Barbossa. The other person was Ahsoka Tano. Yes. That Ahsoka. The alien girl, who was Annie's former student. Only, she is now grown up, and she is a full fledged babe, like the rest of us.”

Yurika replied, with a bit of excitement in her tone of voice, “Cool.”

Nodoka asked, “Now, how did those two end up traveling together?”

Kristina commented, “We don't know. All we know is that their friendship is platonic, and there is a tale to be told on that matter. Still, there is more.”

Mikoto cracked a grin, as she requested, “Do tell.”

Molly said, “It turns out the reason they were here, is that they looking for a couple of people. Not only were they trying to track down Annie, Ahsoka's former teacher. Which she did. But, they were also trying to find Jack Sparrow.

Nodoka asked, “But, why would they think, Jack Sparrow is here? That man would stand out in a crowd. Even among us.”

Molly let out a breath. She then said, “Well, it turns out that Revy, one of our mothers, is the reincarnation of, Jack Sparrow.”

Yurika questioned, in a slightly surprised tone of voice, “You're kidding? Right?”

Molly calmly replied, “No. Aunt Revy even confirmed this.”

Nodoka, Yurika, and Mikoto, turned to look at their three parents, Ranma, Akira, and Natsuru. With their parents looking back at them.

Akira confirmed, “They are telling the truth, sweetie.”

Yurika, Nodoka, and Mikoto then started giggling, for a few seconds.

As they calmed down, Mikoto said, “That is ironic.”

Nodoka inquired, “Still, how can they be so sure?”

Kristina answered, “Because Barbossa has Jack's magic compass. We even saw it. And he would have no reason to lie about this. There is no reason to. Also, as Molly said, Aunt Revy confirmed this to be true.”

Nodoka replied, “Well, that is interesting.”

Kristina agreed, “To say the least.”

Mikoto turned to Rebecca and Yukio, as she asked, in a mischievous tone of voice, “So Rebecca, Yukio, how does it feel to have Jack Sparrow as a parent?”

All nearby eyes turned to look at Yukio and Rebecca.

Yukio and Rebecca looked at each other. They then turned their attention to the others.
Rebecca stated, “To be honest. This is likely the most normal thing we can say about our family.”

Yukio said, “I have to agree.”

Except for Rebecca and Yukio, everyone around started laughing.

Yukio mentioned, “Look at who we were in our previous life. We are not ones to talk.”

Everyone around laughed even harder, for the next few seconds.

As everyone calmed down, Akira, Natsuru, and Ranma, looked at each other.

Akira commented, “Well, Revy's birthday is not that far off.”

Natsuru asked, “True. So, what gift are should we get Revy for her birthday.”

Akira said, “Something Pirate themed.”

Ranma suggested, “And a fun item at that. Maybe, a wenches costume.”

By then, everyone around Ranma had been paying attention to the comments on Revy's birthday, and all women around Ranma, including herself, started to giggle a little at her comment, for the next few seconds.

As they calmed down, Yurika said, “I will go buy the hidden cameras.”

Mikoto stated, “I will pay for the costume.”

Molly mentioned, “Lee mentioned she knows of a well stocked costume shop in town.”

Mikoto happily replied, “Nice. We will ask her where it is. I am sure she would be more than happy to tell us.” She thought, 'Knowing her. She would also likely guess why we want to know where that costume shop is.'

Natsuru said, “I can set up the video link to the camera.”

Akira stated, “I'll help. And our laptops, that are upstairs, should be able to handle the video feed recording.”

Nodoka responded, “Good. All that is left is is the matter of hiding the cameras?”

Ranma stated, “With my skills, that will not be a problem.”

Sarah requested, “You wouldn't mind providing copies of Revy in her costume? Would you?”

Ranma's lips curled into a wicked grin, as she replied, “Sure.”

The women continued their conversation.

(_)

Meanwhile, across the room, the four toddler children were safely reunited with their children.

A few minutes later, Barbossa check into the hotel. Shenhua's helped him. And given the rarity of the items in question, the hotel staff gladly accepted one of Barbossa's coin as payment for his suite, for the next month.

Ten minutes later, Barbossa made it up to his suite, with Shenhua kindly accompanying him. He found the suite to his liking.

Barbossa then asked Shenhua for the phone number for the Daiyu Palace Casino. And Shenhua gave the number to Barbossa the phone number. Barbossa then used the suite's phone to call the front desk at the casino, and he left a message for Ahsoka. That he was now check into the hotel, he provide her with the direct phone number for his room. Which was listed on the base of the suite's phone.

After Barbossa finished his phone call, he and Shenhua then talked about how he would train her. About what she knew. And what possible areas of sword play that she felt she needed to brush up on.

Then, a few hours later, Barbossa began Shenhua's training, on the center of the roof, of the hotel. Which Shenhua asked Melanie for a key to the roof door. And Melanie gladly provided them, with a key to use, to get to the roof.

The two adults then spent an hour on the roof, with Barbossa training Shenhua, while the two of them had fun in doing so. When they were finished, they headed back down to join Shenhua's family and friends, for an afternoon and evening, of pleasant conversation, and entertainment. Which included supper, and then karaoke, in the hotel restaurant.

To everyone's surprise, save for the old pirate himself, Barbossa had a nice singing voice. And he was able to sing the song, Amazing Grace, with the proper lyrics, in tone, and in sync with the music. Afterward, Barbossa mentioned he was quite fond of that song.

Barbossa also enjoyed watching some of the others in the hotel restaurant, sing various karaoke versions of songs, as well.

And rest of the night was pleasant for everyone involved.

When Barbossa retired to his room for the night, he received a message from Ahsoka, that she had received his message. And she left him the information on her suite phone number, at the casino, to contact her with.

Afterward, Barbossa got ready for bed, and went to sleep for the night.

(_)

In the early afternoon, of the same day that Barbossa and Ahsoka had come to De La Plata Podrido, pleasant events were taking place in the Last Resort Diner.

It was just after lunch rush was over. And the last few customers had just paid for their meals, and they were leaving the restaurant. Though, the lack of customers, right after lunch, during a weekday, was normal for the Last Resort Diner.

And now that the employees finally had some privacy, and a moment to rest, the three adults on staff, Lori, Ed, and Rico, were talking to each other, as they stood behind the counter.

That day, Lori was working as the cook, with Ed and Rico being waitresses for their current shift.

Lewis, Stan, Irene, and Leona, were not on shift, and the four younger adults were taking the afternoon off. Though, they had just finished having a late lunch, in the diner, in a booth by a window, on the right side of the room. With Ed and Lori allowing their drinks and meals to be on the house. In the hopes it would help smooth over things between Lewis and Irene.

Lori, Ed, and Rico, were standing around the left side of the middle counter in the dining room.

Lori saw the last of their current customers walk out the doors. Just after the doors closed behind the customers, Lori turned to her wife, and Rico, as she said, with relief n her tone of voice, “Finally, we can talk.”

Ed stated, “Yes. We can. And I am so glad about how well, Irene and Leona worked out for us, in doing their jobs.

Rico commented, “Yes. That help wanted sign is long gone. And I have to say both our good at both waiting tables, and cooking. But, Leona seems to lean more towards cooking, and Irene's people skills are top notch. I think our customer numbers during peak hours has actually increased.”

Ed said, “I will have to look at the accounting books, to be sure. But, I believe you are right.”

Lori responded, “That is good. But, we should not force them into a role they don't like. If we do, we might run them off.”

Ed replied, “That is a good point.”

Lori commented, “Though, as long as we continued to offer them flexible hours, good management, and fair pay, they will stay.”

Rico stated, “I believe so, as well. That is how I ran my Gateway To Fantasy collectors store, back in Aspen.”

Lori inquired, “By the way, how is your store doing.”

Rico happily answered, “The last time I check. A month ago for me. A month for them. The person I put in charge is doing a wonderful job. And I get a nice supplementary income from the business. And I am happy that you two talked me into keeping that store open, under different management.”

Lori replied, “You're welcome.”

Ed stated, “You put too much work into the business to just throw it all away, to come here.”

Rico replied, “Yea. But, it has been a fun two years.”

Ed agreed, “Yes. It has.”

Lori said, “It has been an interesting time here.”

Rico inquired, “So, what is going on with the sisters living arrangements?”

Lori answered, “I talked to them, at work, yesterday. They are happy with the apartment we found for them. The place is in good shape, with a decent amount of living space. The landlord is nice, and the lease is fair. And the amount for monthly rent is affordable.”

Rico commented, “That is good.” She thought, 'And that will help convince those two women to stay.'

Ed mentioned, “And the apartment is only a few blocks from the beach. Which may not mean much now, during the winter. But, during the summer months, they will be able to enjoy being close enough to the beach, that they won't have to use transportation.”

Rico complimented, “Always, the long terms planners.”

Ed replied, “Of course.”

Lori said, “Also, it seems that Lewis and Irene seem to be getting to know each other.”

Ed commented, “Yes. It is so good that Lewis finally met someone he is interested in. And Irene seems to like him, as well.”

Rico stated, “I agree. And Leona seems to be working well with everyone.”

Ed agreed, “Yes. Both of them are friendly enough.”

Rico responded, “Well as much I would love to continue this conversation, we need to get this place cleaned up, before some more customers come back.”

Lori replied, “True.”

Ed said, “Yes. Let's do that. I will get the broom and dust pan. So, I can clean the floor.”

Rico stated, “I will take care of the dishes.”

Lori commented, “I will clean the stove and food preparation tables.”

The three women then went back to work, doing their various jobs, in the diner.

(_)

Meanwhile, across the room, in the right side of the restaurant, Stan, Lewis, Irene, Leona sat in a booth that was set beside the windows on the right side restaurant.

Leona sat, on the inside of the booth, as she faced the front windows of the diner. Irene sat on the outer side of the same bench as Leona.

Across from Irene, with his back turned to the front windows, was Lewis. With Stan to Lewis' right side, on the inside corner of the bench the two brothers were sitting in.

Fortunately, the booth and seats, were big and long enough, to comfortably seat all four of the adults.

The reason they were at the diner was to get some lunch. Which they had finished about ten minutes ago. At the moment, they were having a casual conversation on various subjects.

Irene asked, “So, did you two go to high school?”

Lewis answered, “Yes. And we did so together. And we both graduated without too much trouble.”

Stan mentioned, “I was even on the american style football team, in high school.”

Leona commented, “With your physical builds, I am not surprised.”

Stan replied, “Thank you.”

Leona inquired, “So, what role were you on the line up?

Stan answered, “I was on the defensive line. I was nicknamed, the line breaker.”

Leona shrugged as she replied, “Neat.”

Irene looked over at Lewis, as she questioned, “So, have either of you had any steady relationships before?”

Lewis saw Irene looking at him, as he stated, in a casual tone of voice, “Not really.” He then looked over at Irene. As he continued, in a relaxed tone of voice, “But, I am hoping that might change in the future.”

Irene realized Lewis was talking about her. She smiled at him, in response.

Leona asked, “What about you, Stan? Any previous relationships?”

Stan casually answered, “Not since high school. Where I took the prom queen, to prom.”

Leona look over at Lewis, as she questioned, “Is this true?”

Lewis stated, “Yes. Stephanie. Stan's girlfriend, and the prom queen. And she even let me have a dance with her.”

Irene turned to Stan, as she commented, “That was sweet of her, and you, Stan.”

Stan replied, “Thank you.”

Lewis said, “Yes. It was, on both their parts.”

Leona turned back to Stan, as she inquired, “So, what happened? Why are you still not together?”

Stan plainly stated, “She wanted to go to college, I want to do something else. Things happened, and we just took two different directions in life. Still, we parted on good terms.”

Lewis commented, “Yes. We are still friends with Stephanie.”

Irene asked, “That is a cute name. So, where are you really from?”

Leona said, “Yea. Until now, none of you have really talked about your pasts.”

Stan thought, 'We might as well get this out in the open. And right now is a good opportunity.'

Stan answered, “We are from Mars, in a Cowboy Bebop reality. After the beginning of the twenty third century. And please no Star Trek jokes. We have likely heard them all.”

Though, there was no laughter from Stan's comment. Instead, there was silence, for a few seconds, as Leona and Irene let the implications of what Stan has just said, sink in.

Leona then flatly questioned, “You know who we are?”

Lewis thought, 'I might as well tell them, what we know of them.' He looked over at Irene, as he answered, “We know your parents are the Knight Sabers. Our parents knew who you were, before they hired you. Rico, Stan, and I, were told after work, that night, in private. We are guessing that Leona, you are Leon's daughter. And Irene, you are Linna's daughter.”

Leona said, “That would be correct.”

Irene guessed, “And you all decided not to confront us, and let things play out?”

Lewis responded, “Yes. We figured we would just see what happened. We did want to ruin a potentially good thing.”

Stan said, “Besides, we needed the help here. So, we could all have a life.”

Leona responded, “Okay. And I guess that is why you are so open on talking about reality travel?”

Stan stated, “From a direct standpoint. Yes. But, many of us have been here for a few years. And anyone with a brain, and some knowledge, in this city, can figure it out what is going on. It is just that the locals are intelligent enough not to talk about it. At least, not in public.”

Leona questioned, “So, this is a secretive town?”

Stan answered, “Only in a good way. Most people here will help you, if you need it. And just don't advertise who you are, and where you are from, and you should do fine.”

Leona said, “Okay. We will keep that in mind. And this does explain a few things we heard on the grapevine, about this town. That this city can be lively for reality travelers. But, not very dangerous, for those that are careful.”

Stan responded, “That about sums it up. And if you are looking for excitement, you will find it here.” He thought, 'So, that explains why you two came to this city. You learned about it, from rumors you heard. Now, to have some fun, with my questions.'

But, before Stan could ask his question, Irene commented, “We are more of the type that are just seeing what is out here.”

Lewis replied, in a supportive tone of voice, “That is fine, as well.”

Stan asked, in a casual tone of voice, “So. I have to ask. How does it feel to have super-heroes as you parents?”

The two brothers saw the sisters squirm a little in their seat.

Leona then stated, “It is more a case of having parents that are mercenaries.”

Lewis commented, “Oh. We have been there. Our parents use to be bounty hunters, before they chose their current jobs.”

Irene asked, “So, who are your parents?”

Stan cracked a grin, as he said, “You haven't figured it out?”

Leona questioned, “Figured out what?”

Stan coyly said, “You have already met our parents.”

Leona asked, “Where are they?”

Irene questioned, “Who are they?”

Stan rolled his eyes for a second. He then looked back at the two sisters in front of him, as he flatly stated, “They are your managers. Ed and Lori.”

Irene shrugged, as she said, “Interesting.”

Leona sarcastically commented, “So, you have two mothers. So, what? We have eight.”

Stan coyly said, “It is a little more complicated than that. And no offense intended. But, we already knew that, as well.”

Irene asked, “No offense taken. Also, I guess that your family also knows that a few of our mothers used to be men?”

Lew soberly replied, “Yes. And so does Rico. And we do not judge you, nor your parents, on such issues.”

Irene said, in a warm tone of voice, “Thank you.”

Leona commented, “Still, do you know how embarrassing it is to have a mother that gave birth to you, whom was originally a man?”

Lewis started laughing, while Stan remained silent.

Irene realized, as she said, “You do.”

Lewis said, “Yes. Lori used to be a gender bender, before she locked in her current female form. She was originally born a man named, Bob.”

Irene asked, with in concern in her tone of voice, “Why was she locked in her female form?”

Stan stated, “It is not what you think. She is locked in female form due to the physiology of her gender bending abilities. That when she reached old age, she locked as a woman. And yes, both our parents are much older than they look. Still, this is not something we like to talk about, outside our family.”

Lewis commented, “No. it is not.”

Irene replied, “I understand.”

Leona turned her head, to look at Lewis, as she asked, “And I guess, your father gave birth to you?”

Lewis cracked a grin, as he stated, “No. Not me. Him.” He shrugged his shoulders towards Stan

The two women look at Stan.

Stan explained, “Long story short, our mom used magic power to change into a man. They things together, with medical equipment, and they end up pregnant with both of us at the same time. My father was pregnant with me. While, our father also impregnated our mother, at the same time. Do not ask for the details. Because neither of us like to think about it.”

Irene stated, “That is messed up.”

Leona said, “Yes. It is.” She thought, 'Though, it is nice meeting someone who knows what I went through.'

Stan replied, “That we agree on.”

Lewis commented, “Sadly, yes... Though, it does make for interesting conversation.”

Stan conceded, “That it does.”

Leona inquired, “So, how did you handle learning about your birth? It took me a few hours to come to terms with the truth about my mother's origins. When she personally told me, in private.”

Stan shrugged, as he casually commented, “Nothing a fifth of Jack Daniels cannot help.”

Leona asked, “I guess that could work. Also, given your father could change genders, are you two gender benders?”

Lewis answered, “Yep. We turn into hot caucasian woman.” He thought, 'I will leave out that we also turn into redheads. And that if we stay as women long enough, we literally start acting like our mother use to be. A crazy genius babe.'

The two girls giggled, as Lewis asked, “This is not going to effect our relationship, Irene?”

As the sisters calmed down, Irene requested, “Not really. You are a nice guy and I like your personality. Though, I want to see both your female forms.”

Lewis stated, “Not right now, while we are in public. I will be more than happy to show you, in private. Later.”

Irene replied, “That will be fine.”

Leona turned to Stan, as she asked, “How about you?”

Stan joked, “Not unless you are willing to pay for my dinner, first.”

Leona let out a single laugh. She then complimented, “Good one.”

Stan commented, “And I have several more.”

Leona responded, “I am sure... Still, there is another matter I would like to ask you. We have heard rumors that some of the female reality travelers here, having wild bikini parties, on a tropical island, somewhere in the multiverse.”

Stan questioned, “You heard about that?”

Leona replied, “Yes.”

Stan stated, “Well, the rumors are true.”

Lewis replied, “Yes. They are.”

Leona asked, “You have been to them?”

Lewis just nodded twice in response.

Stan answered, “Well, they are fun. Though, to attend, we have to be women, and wear bikinis. That is the rule for all adults that go there.”

Irene commented, “Well, I look good in a bikini.”

Leona said, “So do I.”

Lewis realized where they were going with their comments. He offered, “We will talk to the Lagoon family, whom are the hosts of those parties. We will see if we can get you both invitations. Though, I do not see that as a problem.”

Irene replied, “Thank you.”

Leona stated, “Yes. We appreciate it.”

Stan commented, “Don't worry. We will just vouch for you. And they should let you come to the next party. Which happens on a regular basis.”

Irene said, “That is nice to know.”

Leona replied, “We will look forward to it.” She thought, 'Now, to have some fun.'

Leona turned to her sister, as she teased, “By the way, Irene, last night, I saw you making out with Lewis here. After closing.”

Irene looked over at Leona, as she flatly stated, “That is not something you talk, in front of others.” She turned to Lewis, as she said, “Especially, in the presence of the other member of the event.”

Lewis looked at Irene, as he calmly replied, “I am not bothered by her comments.”

Stan looked at Lewis and Irene, as he commented, “I am not surprised to learn this. You two have been treating each of other very kindly for the last week. So, you seem to have hit is off. I don't mind. I even talked with mom, dad, and Rico about it. We all support you.”

The two sisters looked at the two brothers, that were across the table from them.

Lewis said, “Okay. That is awkward, but nice to hear.”

Leona and Stan chuckled a little.

Irene stated, “Still, there could be a problem with us dating.”

Lewis inquired, “What do you mean?”

Irene said, “Well, it is how my mother will react to you, that I am worried about. She has a powersuit, and she is not afraid to use it.”

Lewis let out a laugh. He then commented, “We will have to tell you the back story about our parents sometime.”

Leona asked, “What do you mean? Don't get me wrong. They are nice. But, they don't look like much in a fight.”

Lewis answered, “While our mom is not really a fighter. Lori, our dad is. She fought Revy to a stand still, a few times. And our father outright defeated her once. Do you know who that is?”

Leona inquired, “Is that the redheaded woman, in the daisy dukes, that carries two pistols?”

Lewis replied, “The very same.”

Leona commented, “Well, Auntie Priss mentioned that she beat her, a few months ago. Our time. By pinning her to the floor. Though, she admitted that Revy was a challenge to beat.”

Stan mentioned, “That is how our dad beat Revy, as well.” He thought, 'I guess, while Revy does learn from her mistakes. She still hasn't taken the time learn how to deal with fighters that used grappling and wrestling techniques.'

Lewis said, “So, as you can understand. Our father knows how to fight. Also, the rest of us are no slouches either.”

Leona questioned, “And Rico?”

Stan stated, “She can also hold her own.”

Lewis said, “Still, we might as well tell you about who our mother really is. You know how we said we were from a Cowboy Bebop reality?”

Leona replied, “Yes.”

Lewis asked, “You have seen the Cowboy Bebop series?”

Leona answered, “Both of us have.”

Lewis stated, “Well, our mother is the super-hacker Ed. A former crew member of the Bebop. Our dad and her met years after the series ended, when they were both teenagers. And things just clicked.”

Irene said, with astonishment, “Wow. After spending some time with your mother, I came to believe she looked familiar. But, I could not place her.”

Lewis commented, “Yes. And some people still only think of her as a kid, instead of the adult she is, now.”

Irene replied, “True.”

Leona inquired, “Since you mother is a super-genius. We have to ask. Did you inherited any of your mother's intelligence?”

Stan replied, “Yes.”

Lewis coyly responded, “Let us just say you don't ever want to play chess with us. And if you are going to play poker. Get ready to use at least five decks, at the time.”

Stan commented, “Though, I know mom can count cards up to eight decks at once. And that is the number of decks she is willing to admit to. I think she can do up to ten. At least. But, I am not sure.”

Lewis stated, “Yes. But, that gets kind of ridiculous.”

Stan said, “True. But, if you want to get into ridiculous situations. We need to tell you about Lee's stories sometime.”

Leona asked, “Stories? What do you mean, stories?”

Stan responded, “Neither of you know about Lee's stories? We know that your parents know about those stories, because they went after Lee.”

Irene answered, “All they told us, and our sisters, was they had some information on a target they were going after, whom was named, Lee.”

Lewis commented, “Okay. We will tell about those stories, in detail, later.”

Irene said, “I will look forward it.”

Leona replied, “As will I.”

Lewis commented, “Though, before you read book two, of Lee's stories, we need to talk to you. Because what you find out, will upset you.”

Irene replied, “Okay.”

Leona said, “I will keep that in mind.”

Stan requested, “Just promise us you won't go after Lee, once you learn about her stories?”

Lewis stated, “Yes. While we are the first to admit that Lee made some serious mistakes, without realizing it. We got to know her, and we like her, as a person. Lee is really a good person, and a family friend. Stan and I practically consider her to be like an aunt to us. And once you get to know her. I am sure you would like her, as well.”

Irene replied, “Okay.”

Leona stated, “I will try to honor your requests. But, if I decide to do anything about Lee, I will talk to you both, first.”

Lewis inquired, “Alright. Also, now it is our turn to ask. Have you see the Bubblegum Crisis series?”

Leona said, in an even tone of voice, “Yes. All of them. OVAs, TV series. We have even read the mangas, fan magizines, and novels.”

Irene commented, “Though, the soundtracks are nice.”

Lewis stated, “I am not surprised by your answers.” He turned to Irene, as he calmly requested, “Since there is no time like the present. And our secret is out. Would you like to go out for dinner, tomorrow night at eight?”

Irene coyly answered, “It depends on where you are planning on taking me?”

Lewis stated, “On the island, there is a good american style steakhouse that my family, and I, have been to, before.”

Irene said, “Okay. We will stop by both our homes, to get changed after work, and then head out.”

Lewis replied, “That will be fine. And thank you.”

Irene responded, “You're welcome. Though, and later, tomorrow night, you will have to show me your female form.”

Lewis said, “Sure. I don't mind. Just don't be jealous.”

At four adults at the table laughed a little at Lewis' joke.

As they all calmed down, Irene inquired, “Don't worry. I won't be. Though, is there anything else you want to tell me about your female forms?

Stan playfully mentioned, “Well, we are redheads in our female forms.”

Leona joked, “And here, our parents warned us not to date redheads.”

All four adults laughed a little more, at Leona's comment.

As they calmed down, Irene mentioned, “Though, I believe that Auntie Nene, and Ed, are exceptions to that rule.”

Lewis and Stan said, almost in unison, “Thank you.”

Irene replied, “You are both welcome.”

The four adults then continued their conversation for another half hour, before they decided to head out of there restaurant, for other parts of the island, using the car that Stan and Lewis owned, until their shift, at six PM that night.

(_)

Later that evening, around seven PM, not long before sunset, at Daiyu Palace Casino, there was a mystery taking place.

A mystery that only one woman had so far noticed. That woman being Inara.

Over the course of the last few weeks, Inara had noticed that Jayne had occasionally left the casino, right after work. With Jayne returning a few hours later.

Due to Jayne position in the casino's security team. No one questioned his comings and goings.

At first, Inara thought that Jayne has been spending time with his good friend, Lori.

That was until one night, when Jayne was gone, she got a phone call, on her cellphone, from Lori, asking if she had seen Jayne. Meaning that Jayne was not with her, nor the rest of the Lowe family.

And that was when Inara started looking further into this mystery.

Due to her training, in various carnal areas, and her knowledge of human nature, along with the fact that Jayne could be very stubborn, and private, she knew better than to confront him on the matter.

Also, Inara had not proof to question Jayne with.

In addition, she did not want to ask River and Annie for help, because she did not want to poison her decent friendship with Jayne. Which was cordial. Nor, did she want to risk asking someone to read another person's mind, without their permission, over a matter than might be very minor.

Such as Jayne maybe playing pool at a bar, or seeing a secret girlfriend.

Though, Inara doubted that Jayne had a new girlfriend. Because Jayne also smiled when he was dating. And Jayne was not that good at pool, or other casual games.

And she knew that he could not be renting out a place for himself, given the Security Crew, along with the Bebop Crew, were allowed to live in very nice, large apartment suites, inside the casino, as part of the benefits of working at the casino.

Zoe and Wash had even recently moved into a larger suite, in the casino, than the one Zoe had previously been living in, after the two got remarried.

All this only made the mystery, of where Jayne was going, even more puzzling for Inara.

So that evening, Inara decided she was going to follow Jayne, to wherever he was going.

Though, Inara knew that Jayne could spot a tail. But, she also knew that Jayne used one of the black, four door, sedan cars, the casino had, in the back garage.

So, she call in a favor from Kaylee, whom stuck a tracking device that Inara with given her, on the car specific black sedan that Jayne preferred to use. Due to Inara and Kaylee being good friends, Kaylee did ask Inara why she wanted to track where Jayne was going.

The tracking device was connected to a small remote with glowing arrows to show in what direction Jayne's car would be in. Very simple, but it worked. The tracking device had a ten kilometer range. So, there was little chance of losing him on the island.

After Inara then waited that evening for Jayne to leave. Which was just before seven PM.

Earlier that day, Inara already took another of the sedans from the garage, and she parked it in the back parking lot, near the garage, while facing the garage doors of the casino. Along with her tracking remote, she brought a pair of binoculars with her.

When Inara saw Jayne heading for the garage, she circle around, to the car she had parks.

So, had just gotten into her car, and buckled up, when she saw that one of the garage doors open.

She then moved swiftly as she ducked down, to her right, while Jayne drove passed her, across the parking lot, and onto the street.

Inara then sat back up, and quickly turned on the ignition, and sit the car in drive. She then follow Jayne out of the parking lot, and onto the street.

As Inara tailed Jayne, she was careful to keep about a city block's distance from him. And with her tracking remote, she easily kept track of Jayne, even when she lost sight of him, when he turned down a road.

Also, with the tracking device, Inara did not have to worry about losing Jayne, if she was caught by a red light, and had to wait until the light was green, to continue following him.

After ten minutes of following Jayne, Jayne had lead Inara to a beach, on the southeast part of the island.

As they drove down a two lane road, that was ran parallel with the shoreline, a hundred feet from them, with Jayne's car was about five hundred feet ahead of her.

Jayne then turned down, on a driveway that lead to a large white home, on the beach.

Meanwhile, to avoid suspicions, Inara just drove passed where Jayne turned in. She then did a gently u-turn, as she parked her car on a hill overlooking the home.

After she turned off her car, but she left the keys in the ignition. She unbuckled her seatbelt. Inara pulled out her binoculars, and looked through them, at the home. She was facing the southwest side of the home.

The home was a large white home, set about fifty feet from the sandy beach, on a hill that was ten feet higher than the beach. The hill lead way from the house, inland, to the road.

The outside of the home looking to be in great shape. With the paint job, and the roof, in great condition.

There was an above ground deck attached to the home, on the side facing the beach, with stairs leading down to the beach, on the deck, and on the sides of the road.

Inara then looked down at the curved driveway, that loop around the back of the home, so a vehicle could drive up to the home, and a way from the home, without backing up, and turning around.

Inara saw that Jayne had already parked his car, on the driveway, by the home.

Through her binoculars, she saw Jayne get out of the car, and approach the home. She saw that Jayne was still wearing his the black business suit, and dress shoes, which he wore for his security job.

Inara then watched as Jayne walked to the door, and knock on it a couple of times.

A few moments later, Inara watched as the door opened, and a much old, fair skinned woman, walk home, and hug Jayne, for a few seconds.

The older woman then let go of Jayne, and the two adults entered the home, with the door soon shutting behind them.

Inara looked around the sides of the home, which was the western back part of the home, and the southern side of the home.

Inara then noticed that the curtains were pulled back on large window on the south side of the home, facing her.

She saw that it was a large dining room, with the large, elongated table always set with plates, utensils, paper napkins, glasses full of various drinks, and metal trays of home cooked food. There were several people already gather around, as they all sat at the table.

Inara then saw older woman walk into the room, and Jayne following her. The old woman then sat at one end of the table, and Jayne sat down on the other end of the table.

The people at the table then bowed their heads, as the older woman said a prayer. When the woman finished her prayer, the people at the table then started passing around their plates for food. So, they go eat in a few minutes.

As Inara continued looking at Jayne and people she did not know, have dinner, she mentally wondered, in slight confusion, 'Okay. Did Jayne adopt a family? What is going on? I will have to ask him, when he returns to the casino, later this evening.'

Inara lowed her binoculars. She buckled her seatbelt. She started her car. And she drove back to the casino.

A little over ten minutes later, she returned to the casino, and she parked the black sedan where she had originally retrieved it, from the casino garage.

As she got out of the car, and walked over to the key box.

After she returned the key, back to where it went, she walked back towards the nearest door the back hallway of the casino.

She passed by Kaylee, whom working on car. She had the front hood open, and she was leaning down on the an engine, as she worked on it.

Kaylee continued to lean down on top of the engine, as she inquired, “Did you find out what was going on? And don't worry, Arcee is out on an errand. So, it is just the two of us, in here. So, you can talk freely.”

Inara stopped in her tracks, as she turned to face Kaylee. She thought, 'She most have recognized my footsteps. That is possible. And I guess she really did have questions for me, after all. Not that I really have any answers for her.'

Inara replied, “Not really.”

Kaylee asked, “So, Jayne is not doing anything naughty?”

Inara responded, “Quite the contrary. I think he was doing was very normal, and polite.”

Kaylee said, “Hmm... Well, all I want to do is make sure he was not going to bring us any trouble.”

Inara stated, “I do not think we have to worry about that.”

Kaylee responded, “Good. I will pull out the tracking device from Jayne's car, tomorrow. And soon after, I will return it to you.”

Inara thought, 'I need to find out when Jayne returns, so I can confront him.' She requested, “That will be fine. By the way, could you let me know when Jayne returns to the casino?”

Kaylee flatly said, “No can do. When I am finished working on this engine, in about ten minutes. I am going upstairs and getting cleaned up. I have a dinner date with Simon, in an hour.”

Inara commented, “Okay. I will find him, later. And good luck on your date.”

Kaylee replied, “Thank you.”

Inara turned, and headed for the nearest door that lead out of the garage. As she walked, she thought, “Jayne usually returns around two hours, later. I will just come back to the hallway, outside of the garage, in an hour and forty minutes. Set up a room to talk to him, in private. And wait for him, there.'

A few seconds later, she reached the door she was heading for, which lead to the back hallway. She opened it, walked through the threshold, and shut the door behind her. As she headed to back elevator bay, and her suite. So, she could sit down, and relax, until it was time to come back down, and confront Jayne.

(_)

An hour and forty-five minutes later, Jayne had finally returned to the casino.

Jayne had just finished parking his car, and returning the keys he had used, back into the key box. Now, he had just exited the garage, into the back hallway.

Presently, Jayne's intent was to head to the back elevator bay, and to his suite, where he could get some rest.

But, as he walked, he soon saw Inara standing by the inner wall of the back hallway.

Except for Inara, Jayne did not see anyone else in the back hallway.

Jayne watched as Inara looked at him. She then started walking towards him.

Jayne thought, 'I wonder what she wants?'

When Jayne and Inara came within ten feet of each other, they stopped, while facing each other.

Inara flatly said, “You and I need to talk. Now. Come this way.”

Jayne replied, “Okay.” He thought, 'I know from experience, that in the long run, it is best to do what Inara says. And I will sort out what is going on, later.'

Inara swiftly lead Jayne to a nearby door, in the hallway. Inara already, long since knew the door usually unlocked.

Inara opened the door, and she held the door open, as she turned to Jayne. She firmly ordered, “Go in.”

Jayne saw it was a dark room, but he still complied with Inara's request, as he walked inside.

Inara followed behind him, as she flipped the light switch on to her right, in the interior side of the wall. She then shut the door behind her.

With the lights on, Jayne saw they were moderately large storage room, for the janitorial equipment.

As Jayne came to a stop, he thought, 'Okay. This is not a bad place to talk in private. The doors to these rooms are almost never locked. And it is conveniently close to where we were.'

Jayne turned around to see Inara standing five feet away from him. Jayne continued his thoughts, 'Now, to find out what she wants to talk about.'

As the two adults looked at each other, Inara demanded, “Jayne, what is going on? And who are those people you are with?”

Jayne thought, 'She must have followed me there... It is always those you least expect... I might as well admit what I have done. She may not be a telepath, nor empath. But, she is good at spotting a lie.'

Jayne stated, “They're my family. The ones I talked about all the time, while we are on the Serenity.”

Inara questioned, with a bit of surprise in her tone of voice, “You brought them here?”

Jayne calmly replied, “Yes.”

Inara sternly pointed out, “Do you realize how much trouble you could be in for doing this?

Jayne responded, “I had very good reasons for what I did. Besides, this is nothing compared to the stunt River and Lee pulled to bring back Wash and Book. And don't lie me and say you aren't happy to see them again. Back among the living.”

Inara relaxed both her tone of voice, and her body language. She shrugged, as she conceded, “True. I agree with what you said. I am glad they are back. And Zoe is with Wash, again. So, what are you reasons?”

Jayne answered, “If I hadn't done so, the Operative that was after River, would have murdered them.”

Inara sadly replied, “Oh...” She thought, with sadness, 'You are right, about that.'

Jayne commented, “It is a long story.”

Inara suggested, “I already know this much. You probably should tell me the rest.”

Jayne let out a deep breath. He then responded, in a sober tone of voice, “Well, to start with. I never told you what happened to my family, after that whole dusted up over secrets on Miranda. But, as you can guess, when the Operative went on his destructive insanity. Bombing up, literally everywhere, we have been. He glassed my homeworld.”

Shock was evident on Inara's face, as she began, in a disheartened tone of voice, “Oh, Jayne. If we had known...”

Jayne interrupted her, as he calmly stated, “You would have felt sorry for me. But, since there was nothing you could have done at the time, there was no point in complaining. Though, at that time, given our situation then, I wasn't expecting to live very long. And I was looking forward to seeing them.”

“Then, Rock, and the others showed up. Leading us to this great adventure we are on. And she brought with her the possibilities of reality jumping technology. Including, time travel.”

“I have seen enough time travel movies to understand what that means.”

Inara forced herself to calm down, as she realized, 'This was not done in haste. He has been planing this for a while.” She calmly asked, “How long have you been planing this?”

Jayne casually admitted, “Years. Decades. I have been patiently waiting for my opportunity. Which was to have the technology, and bring them somewhere they would be safe, and still be able to comfortably live their lives. The main problem was watching what I thought around River. And later, I learned how to control my emotions around Annie. So, neither of them can sense what I am thinking, nor feeling.”

Inara thought, 'We all have sorely underestimated Jayne's level of intelligence.' She questioned, “How?”

Jayne rhetorically asked, “You don't think all those times I invited River to play poker with us, was just so I could lose my money to her. I got more out of those poker games than her. She got my cash. But, I got so much more, by learning how to block my thoughts from her. And over the course of a few years, I became very good at doing so. None of you really know what is going on in my mind.” Jayne cracked a grin, as he continued, “And that is the way I would like it to stay.”

Inara replied, “Seemingly not. And point taken. Please continued.”

Jayne dropped his grin, as he stated, “Okay. While we had the technology, I did not have the opportunity. Then, we had this whole mess with Lee come up. And Chang convinced everyone to move here, and start this casino. And when I took good, long, hard look around this island. This city. The people here. I could see this was the perfect place, time, and reality, to bring my family too. Plus, there was all the wealth that Chang is paying each of us, for these casino jobs.”

“Even if I quit my job, now, family and I could live very comfortably, on the gold Chang has already paid me. Not, that I am going to quit.”

Inara commented, “Yes. This job does keep things from being boring.”

Jayne replied, “Exactly.”

Inara wondered, as she asked,“Besides money issues. Which were not that bad for us, on Mars. Why didn't you just bring them to Mars, in the Cowboy Bebop reality.”

Jayne stated, “Unlike Mars, the technology here is not that far apart from what my family is use to dealing with. Still, the medical technology here is good. And the locals don't ask too many questions about newcomers. So, I finally had the technology, the wealth, and the place, to bring my family too. And as such, I took that opportunity, and I seized that day.”

Inara asked, “Does anyone else know about what you have done?”

Jayne said, “I believe a few suspect. Though, no one has called me on it, but you.”

Inara inquired, “Such as?”

Jayne answered, “Well, I think Chief Del Soto suspected. He has no proof. And since the Cobb family keeps to themselves. And he has his hands full with everything else, he likely did not look to closely into the matter.”

Inara complimented, “I must say. This is brilliant planning and implementation on your part.”

Jayne happily replied, “Thank you.”

Inara commented, “You're welcome. You are clearly far more intelligent than most people give you credit for.”

Jayne chuckled a little. He then responded, “I am glad someone finally noticed.”

Inara happily requested, “Now, please tell me more.”

Jayne stated, “Certainly. Due to Chang, and these jobs, we are all quite rich.”

Inara commented, “And happily so.”

Jayne stated, in a casual tone of voice, “And our jobs keep us busy. And they are not that bad. I mean, for my job, I still have a gun, and occasionally get to play the brute. While, in your new job, you still bend over, but for completely different reasons.”

Jayne's comment caused Inara to giggled a little. As she calmed down, she replied, “That is a nice way to put it. And with my new job as the casino spa director, and masseuse, I can use my training in way that does not annoy Mal.”

Jayne said, “Yes. You traded up on that. And our hours and benefits keep us here.”

Inara agreed, “Very true. Also, we really do not have anything better to do.”

Jayne commented, “You are right about that. The only other things I can think of doing, besides this, as a job, would get me in a whole lot of trouble.”

Inara pointed out, “Well, the companion services are nowhere near as structured and regulated here, as it was in the verse.”

Jayne replied, “Yea. I guess you had some protections there, when you did you job.”

Inara stated, “Absolutely. And the pay, and perks, were worth it.”

Jayne thought, 'I really don't want to know the details of your previous job.' He stated, “Anyway, Since I had all this wealth, and nothing really to do with it. I mean people dream of making it big. But, after doing a couple of wild and crazy things. I never really thought what I would achieve this level of success. That was one of the reasons I did this. I always cared for my family. So, I decided to bring them here, and use my wealth to help them as much as I can.”

Inara inquired, “How did you get your gold out of Chang's vaults, without him, or someone else, realizing it?”

Jayne answered, “Mal and Zoe put me in charge of overseeing the accounting of what goes in and out of those vaults.”

Inara commented, with a bit of disbelief in her tone of voice, “I am surprised that they would put you in charge of that.”

Jayne flatly stated, “Don't be. I am paid enough. And I am in a job I like. That I am not going to steal anything. But, I was able to pull some of my gold out, without anyone being the wiser. Though, I have kept a record of what I pulled out. Still, the first thing I did was use that gold to buy that home you followed me too.”

Inara complimented, “It is a nice home.

Jayne commented, “Yes. It is. And it has better be for what I spent to pay for it.”

Inara questioned, “So, why did you decide to buy a beach home for your family?”

Jayne said, “After we went to Chang's beach home here, for a few parties, and business meeting. I found I liked that style of home. And I bought the same type of home, along the beach, here. I even used the same restated agents at Chang used.”

Inara asked, “And what was your next course of action?”

Jayne answered, “Next, I bought my family here. Most of them were on my homeworld. But, a few I had to track down. And I had to bring a few spouses and kids, as well. But, all in all, things went well. After that, I had to forge them all some IDs. Which was not hard with this casino's resources.”

Inara inquired, “So, how much do they know?”

Jayne said, “Well, they know they are on Earth. There was no point in lying to them about that. Also, I just told them that in my many adventures, I found some technology that could take them to an Earth of the past, but not the Earth we came from. And that is an honest enough answer.”

Inara questioned, “True. And what about secrecy?”

Jayne replied, “Already got that covered. Taking into account what I am giving them, they all agreed to keep what they know secret. Well, at least the adults. And the kids. Well... We can just say they are being kids.”

Inara responded, “That is a pleasant surprise on your part. And what do they know of your job here?”

Jayne admitted, “I never really told them about what I use to do for a living. I sent money, and they didn't ask too many questions. But, I told them that I got my life turned around. That I now have a good, respectable job, that pays well, and allows me to spend time with them.”

Inara commented, “That is basically the truth.”

Jayne said, in a relaxed tone of voice, “It is nice not having to lie to my family, for once.”

Inara inquired, “So, have you told any of them about you gender abilities?”

Jayne stated, “I only told my mother. Because, I wanted her advise on how I should tell the rest of my family.

Inara asked, “And her answer?”

Jayne replied, “She said she need to think about it.”

Inara questioned, “Do you receive any other responses from her finding out you can now enjoy both sides?”

Jayne flatly said, “She stated that I now had no excuses for not giving her some grand-kids, of my own.”

Inara could not help but giggle a little at Jayne's comment. As she calmed down, she asked, “And how did you reply?”

Jayne commented, “I didn't.”

Inara complimented, “Wise choice.”

Jayne replied, “Thank you.”

Inara asked, “So, when did you do this? When did you bring your family here?”

Jayne replied, “Over a year ago.”

Inara thought, 'Interesting. I guess that from when we started this job, to then, would be enough time to save up the funds from work, and implement you plan.' She commented, “I can guess that you now fund them with your wealth.”

Jayne said, “Yes. I give them gold, and cash, regularly. I have found some people here whom buy gold, as the current market rates, and don't ask to many questions. And these buyers know I am work at the casino, so they know not to cross. me.”

“Though, some of my family are working on getting jobs. Given this town is use to outsiders coming to live here. No one is really asking questions. But, most of my family. Even those looking for a job, are being given an education in both schooling of the cultures and technology of this world.”

Inara asked, “How is that working out for your family?”

Jayne stated, “Slow. But, we are making progress.”

Inara commented, “I would not surprised if you have also decided to gain an education from the lessons you are paying your tutors.”

Jayne replied, in a casual manner, “Oh. I am. And I am learning a lot.”

Inara responded, “Good. And with our extreme longevity, you have plenty of time to receive a proper education.”

Jayne said, “You are correct about that.”

Inara gave Jayne a warm smile, as she complimented, “Well, Jayne. I never thought I would say this to you. But, I am very proud of you, for what you are doing to help your family, and for the actions you have taken for your own self-improvement. It sounds like you have this all planned out, very well.”

Jayne returned Inara's smile, as he responded, in a kind, sincere tone of voice, “Thank you, Inara. And speaking of which, the medical treatments have already been started for Mattie. And he is responding well to the treatments. The docs say he should be fully cured of what has been ailing him, within six to eight months.”

Inara happily replied, “That is great news.”

Jayne agreed, “Yes. It is. I also had the docs check out the rest of my family.”

Inara complimented, “That is a good precaution.”

Jayne replied, “I know. And except for some minor issues. Which have been taken care of, or being treated. For chronic conditions. They are all fine.” He then dropped his grin, as he continued, in a more sober tone of voice, “Now, that we have discussed all this. I really need to tell one of you what happened to the verse after we left.”

Inara thought, 'I guess, after going back for his family. His curiosity would get the better of him, and he would want to see the future of our home reality. And I really need to know, myself.' She inquired, with concern in her tone of voice, “Is it bad?”

Jayne flatly replied, “Very bad.”

Inara thought, 'I should not be surprised. Still, there is one other question I need to ask, before I inquire further on this matter.' She responded, “Are you not worried, that by telling me, you might risk a paradox.”

Jayne answered, “I highly doubt what we could significantly change the course of what happened. Delay it. Perhaps. But, not change the outcome.”

Inara softly demanded, “Then, tell me, anyway.”

Jayne stated, in an even tone of voice, “Fair warning. You are not going to like what I have to say. And I am going to ask you to keep it a secret.” Jayne continued, in a stronger, though even tone of voice, “Because, I didn't want Mal, or maybe even Zoe, to go on some damned fool quest to try to save everyone one, only to get themselves killed. Especially, after Zoe finally got Wash back.”

Inara offered, “I understand. I will be discreet. If I have to talk about it with someone, it will be River.”

Jayne responded, “Fine. She would likely find out it, from you, anyway.”

Inara conceded, “Probably. Now, please continue with your story.”

Jayne said, “Well, after I rescued my family. I decided to see how events would play out after we left. Now, after learning what happened. I really wish I didn't do that. And it is all that damn Operative’s fault.”

Inara asked, “What do you mean?”

Jayne stated, in a sober tone of voice, “Inara, would you say, while on the Serenity, we visited several different places?”

Inara said, “Yes. More than I could care to count.”

Jayne continued his explanation, in the same sober tone of voice as before, “I never realized how many places we have been too. And on many of those places, we only spent a brief amount time. Just long enough to either pick up our load, or drop it off, and get paid. Or, maybe just long enough to rob a bank... And now that I think about it, I regret not spending more time on a few of those worlds. Even a couple of the moons we went to were nice.”

“Some of those places, I wished we had spend enough time to either watch a sunrise, or a sunset there.”

Inara calmly said, “Jayne, I never took you as a romantic.”

Inara saw Jayne gain a glassy look to his eyes, as if he was looking through her. He replied, “Neither did I, until I realized how much we have lost. And it is now to emotionally painful to go back to. Even if is in the past, for those places, to us.”

Inara realized that what Jayne was about to say was horrible. And she forced herself to ask, in a hesitant manner, “What are you trying to say?”

Jayne took a deep breath, and then slowly let out. He then looked Inara in her eyes, as he said, in a very sober, serious tone of voice, “As I said. I wanted to see how our reality faired after we left. It wasn't good. It seems that when all was said and done, in an attempt to flush us out, that damn Operative literally destroyed around a quarter of the known verse to try to get to us.”

Inara stated, in shock, “Dear god!”

Jayne responded, “Yes. He targeted almost every single place we went too. Nearly every place we had ties too. And not just the places we spent a few nights at, while Kaylee was doing repairs on the ship. But, the places we went to, just to drop something off, or pick up. Hell. He even went after the places we robbed. And not just the cities we were at, but entire worlds, moons, spacestations,”

“With the exceptions being a few place, such as the Alliance central worlds, like Ariel. And I think, at the time, if he thought we were hiding there, he would have glassed that planet, just to kill us.”

While Inara was still in slight emotional shock, the only words that Inara could find to say were, “Such... Fanaticism... Talk about the cure being worse than the disease.”

Jayne stated, “True. And I also cannot believe what a monstrous idiot the Operative was. I see no justification for what he did, nor for those that carried out his orders. I mean, think about it. The Alliance controlled the press, the police, the courts. It would have been their word against River's. And let's be honest, even her own brother, Simon, a trained doctor, openly admits that she is insane... Well, was insane.”

Inara spoke up, “You right, Jayne. It would have been her word, against theirs.”

Jayne said, “Exactly. Though, River has gotten better since then. Annie has been a great help to River in reclaiming her sanity.”

“But, that was only the start to the Operative's stupidity. After that much destruction, then on top of it, the news of the Alliance’s genocide of the population of Miranda, and their accidental creation of the reavers, everything went to hell, very quickly.”

“There was no question on who did all the destruction. Considering the Alliance was the only military power left after the war, and they are the only ones that could pull it off. And no one can hide that level of destruction from the rest of civilization for long. Most of the locations that were destroyed, use to have Browncoat leanings in the war. And more than a few of those that had family on those planets, moons, and spacestations, that were destroyed, had very deep pockets. Some, even had powerful Alliance connections.”

“And though most of the people on these planets, moons, and spacestations were murdered, their surviving families, elsewhere, were not. For these people, the Operative had made his attack personal to them. And you never want to make it personal. Especially, on a scale such as this.”

Inara guessed, “The Alliance accidentally restarted the Unification war?”

Jayne explained, “No. Worse. Things went, as the human say here, MAD. Mutually assured destruction. When word spread in the Alliance military of what some of their comrades did to the Verse. Along with many officers losing their family and homes, due to this madness. On top of the news about Miranda and the reavers.”

“Less than a month after we left our reality, a very bloody civil war started within the ranks of Alliance. Nukes were used in this civil war. I am not sure which planet, but I heard at least one of the central worlds was completely glassed in the fighting.”

Inara quietly said, “Oh no.” Then she realized, as she inquired, at a normal tone of voice, “And the families of those killed in the Browncoats area?”

Jayne complimented, “You are catching on. While this Alliance civil war raged, it gave the Browncoats time to reunited, reorganize and prepare. They had no army, but their hatred of the Alliance had been fully reignited. What they did have was research, know-how, technology, and weapons of mass destruction. Items that many groups of Browncoats successfully hid, at the end of the Unification War.”

Inara asked, “After all this happened, and came out, what were the Browncoats' opinions on the Alliance?”

Jayne responded, “Not good. Not good at all. The Browncoats I talked to, both before and after they attacked that Alliance, stated they believed that after the Operative's attacks, Miranda, and the reavers, that the Alliance, and their supporters, had gone insane. And they all needed to be put down like rabid dogs.”

Inara commented, “Sadly. After everything that has happened. There is some truth in their beliefs.” She mentally lamented, 'And I was a supporter of the Alliance during the Uniification Wars. My, how things have changed.'

Jayne requested, “Yes. But, I would never have gone anywhere near as far as what the Browncoats did next.”

Jayne continued, with concern in his tone of voice, “And don't tell Mal and Zoe about this. It will break their hearts, if they learned what some of their comrades had done.”

Inara replied, “I will take that under advisement.” She thought, 'Mal and Zoe have deep scars over that war, and I would loath to reopen them. Also, I am tempted to ask how it could get any worse. But, I have a feeling that Jayne is about to tell me that it did.'

Jayne responded, “I appreciate that... Anyway, as the Alliance civil war winded down, with the rebels on the losing side. The hardliners, were still somewhat crippled by their war. They were at their weakest. Their forces numbers just over a third, before the civil war had started. Most of their large aircraft were damage, some to the point they requiring dry-dock, and they had spent most of the conventional, and non-conventional ordnance against each other.”

“And that was when the Browncoats struck with their weapons of mass destruction. Though, while some weapons were used on Alliance planets, moons, and spacestations, were chemical. Most of the weapons used were biological and nuclear weapons. The nukes were mostly reserved for the spacestations and the large Alliance military ships.”

“And about the biological weapons. We are talking about the nasty type of biological weapons. Such as the highly contagious, fast acting hemorrhagic fever viruses. Though, that is not all of the weapons used by the Browncoast.”

“Some former Browncoats were even able to go to Miranda, and make it back, alive. And those that did make it to Miranda, somehow found, salvaged, and reworked the chemicals used to keep all those people, and create the reavers.”

“As we both personally know, getting to, and escaping Miranda, through reaver space, is a literally a journey to hell and back.”

“But, these fools actually topped themselves with their insanity. They figured out how to weaponize the reaver making chemicals used on Miranda. And they dropped their new weapon into the atmosphere of one of the core worlds. I don't know which one.”

“And unlike the reaver plague, this one didn't kill ninety-nine percent of those affected. No, it only killed one percent of the people that were exposed to it. The rest went violently insane.”

Inara's face paled, as she thought, 'It did get worse. Far, far worse.'

Jayne continued, “They are just as dangerous as the original reavers. They will rape, torture, and eat people alive. And the chemicals used to make these new reavers were clearly untested, because this affliction became like a contagious disease to other humans, by fluid transfer. Incubation can be a matter of days, to months. From what I understand, various psychotic medications will help those effected.”

Inara coud not help, but ask, “How bad did the situation become?”

Jayne stated, “Bad. Very bad. Think the worse than a standard zombie apocalypse, because these reavers, like the original reavers, still have enough brains and know how to operate starships.”

“The Alliance tried to glass the originally infected world. Though, as the bombs dropped, anyone with a ship, fled the planet. This included those infected, and a few hundred thousand new reavers. With the Alliance to weakened by the civil war, and the Browncoat attacks, to stop all the ships.”

“And from there, the infection quickly spread to the other core worlds.”

“By the way, don't worry. I make damn sure I was clean, and not infected, before I came back here. If I was infected, I would have taken care of myself. With a message to all of you, stating what happened. So, you all would know what happened, So, you would know what to expect, if you ever returned to the Verse.”

Inara inquired, “I am sure that you would have. So, do you have any good news?”

Jayne answered, “Well, not much. The only good news is not everyone infected went full reaver. About a quarter of those infected become very violent, but they still had much of their sanity left. These poor souls usually are given some weapons and turned loose on the reavers in suicide missions. Which most of them volunteered for. With their reasoning being, if they cannot stop being violent, they can at least put their violence to good use in fighting that which was destroying civilization.”

Inara said, “Better do die as one's self.”

Jayne agreed, “Exactly. And just to add to the misery. Of course, given how spiteful the Alliance can be. The surviving Alliance navy decided to launch what weapons they had left on the Browncoat leaning territories, which were the only habitable places left in the Verse. And in so doing, the Alliance doomed humanity, in the Verse, to a slow death.”

“And this is not counting the original reavers spreading out their territories. Though, what was left of the both the Alliance and Browncoat space forces nuclear arsenals were used both against the original reavers, and these new reavers. Not that doing so helped much.”

Inara inquired, “How can you be so sure that the situation was hopeless? We have been in some trying situations, ourselves.”

Jayne responded, “That we have. Still, in this situation, it was hopeless. And I learned that it was hopeless, after I jumped ten years, after we left, into the future. Those still alive, in multiple locations stated they estimated that only twenty percent of humanity was left alive. With around half of them reavers, or carriers of the reaver disease. With no fuel being produced, space travel was becoming very rare, except for the reavers that steal fuel from the ships that are foolish enough to attempt space travel.”

“The only close to nice places I have found, are on the edges of the verse, away from everywhere. And they are now dark age level civilizations.”

Jayne's voice broke a little bit, as Inara saw the man was on the verge of tears, while he said, “I am sorry, Inara. But, we don't have a home to return too. And one of the reasons I am asking you to keep this a secret is that I don't know how to break it to the others, without crushing their hearts.”

Inara composed herself, as she said, “Someone has to tell them. And I will do so. I will figure out how to tell them. And when I do, I will inform them, and handle the matters. But, I will do as you request, and I will not tell anyone today.”

Jayne responded, “Thank you. And let me know when you do figure out how to tell them.”

Inara responded, “I will. We will talk, before I speak to them. Still, that reaver disease needs to be dealt with, before it spreads across multiverse.”

Jayne said, “I am way ahead of you, on that. I talked to Bob about this... Well, Lori... Even though she is now chick. On occasion, we still hit the town on our wild drinking nights. Only her wife, Ed, demands that I go as a chick with her.”

Even after hearing all the bad news, Inara giggled a little, at Jayne and Lori spending their time, as friends, as women.

As Inara calmed herself down, she thought, 'After such horrible news. I really needed that laugh. Now, to find out what Jayne did in response to this mess that the verse has become.'

Inara commented, “So, what did you do?”

Jayne stated, “I got in touch with Lori's friends, on Deep Space Nine, in a Star Trek reality. And I convinced them to offer me aid on this matter.”

“And don't worry. They cannot connect this back to us, here in this reality. I reality jumped several times, between there and here. And my explanation to them was that I was given this technology to help those of the Verse. And I was seeking their aid. Given the dire situation the Verse was in, those I spoke too did not ask to me questions of how I got the technology I had. And they did not try force me to stay with them.”

Inara said, “That is nice.”

Jayne commented, “Yes. It is. And as part of their aid, I helped to send one of their large ships to the Verse and back. They were able to retrieve a sample of the reaver disease, along with bringing some survivors they took with them to the Federation. Some were Browncoats. The others have been with the Alliance. By then, the survivors no longer care who started it this mess because they were having to fight together just to survive.”

“And, in relative terms, as we speak, the Federation is right now working on both a vaccine and a cure. And when they have the cure ready, they even had the technology, which they are willing us, to disperse that cure, across the Verse.”

Inara said, “That is good to hear.”

Jayne mentioned, “I agree. I even let them have a sample of that gender bending disease we have. They found it interesting. And don't worry, it is dormant, and it will likely not infect other people, outside of a blood transfusion, or like what happened with Lee. They said my blood may even help treat a similar ailment that hit an alien world there.”

Inara stated, “Interest. I am glad that disease will be used to help people.”

Jayne commented, “Yes. So am I. Though, back to the Verse. I try to keep in mind. That all of this is because the Operative claimed to want to create paradise. Instead, he turned the Verse into a hell. I wonder how he finally went out, in the end?”

While Inara hid her emotions well. She thought, with disgusted, and anger, 'Such destruction bought on by arrogance and insanity. Wherever that Operative is, I hope he is suffering, because from the sound of it, he set the Verse ablaze. And what of his, paradise that his superiors clearly brainwashed him into believing in? And may they suffer, as well.'

Inara responded, in a calm, even tone of voice, which Jayne could clearly tell that she was hiding her emotions, “It does not matter. Still, I wonder of the paradise he wanted to create. Who was that paradise for? It clearly wasn't for the for Browncoats. Nor, the Alliance citizens. Given he freely murdered both those groups. It wasn't for himself, as he said the paradise he was trying to create was not for him. Nor, was it for the Alliance military. And nor was this paradise for the elitists of the Alliance. Such as River, Simon, and others like them. Whom were the best and brightest of the Alliance.”

“And instead of the Alliance valuing and cherishing the individuals. The Alliance government tricked many of them into becoming tortured slaves and brainwash living weapons, to be experimented on. Such as River.”

Jayne commented, “Yes. I see now that my trying to hand River and Simon over to the Alliance was like casting pearls before swine.”

Inara thought, 'After we saw our own series, we did not really call you on your actions, on Ariel. Because you had since proven yourself to us. And besides, we all did things, that were shown in that series, which we were not proud of.'

Inara said, “I see your learning, in other areas of life, as well.”

Jayne stated, “I am surprised you guys didn't space me after we saw our own series, and movie.”

Inara pointed out, “We all did questionable actions, that were set out in the open, due to us watching those videos.”

Jayne commented, “True. We just had to let go of the past, and move on.”

Inara stated, “Yes. We did. Given our situation. It was the only way we could remain sane.”

Jayne responded, “I agree. Back to the Operative. That Operative was a true fanatic, that destroyed all his masters works. Leaving only despair and decay, to the colossal wreck of what once was there. Now, boundless and bare.”

Jayne poetically styled comment caught Inara mildly off guard. She calmly questioned, “Are you paraphrasing the poem, Ozymandias? If so, that was very good.”

Jayne said, “Yes. And thank you. I have learned a few lessons and quotes from my tutors. And I actually like that original poem. And I did look up what an albatross was. All that trouble over a bird.”

Inara giggled a little. Inara then smiled at Jayne, as she responded, “That is nice. I guess, like their Operatives, those of the Alliance government has become true fanatics. They had redoubled their efforts, while losing sight of their goals.”

Jayne finished Inara's comment, “And in so doing, the Alliance lost everything.”

Inara replied, “Exactly.”

Jayne stated, “Thank you again for deciding to keep this secret.” He thought, 'Since you decided to keep this secret, on your own. There is less chance of you telling anyone.'

Inara said, “I do not mind. Actually, I have been thinking about doing the same thing you did. Going back and rescuing family and friends that I care for.”

Jayne sincerely offered, “Do you need help retrieving them?”

Inara answered, “No. I can handle that on my own. Though, I could use some help in finding my family and friends some places to stay here, on this island.” She thought, 'Since it would be foolish to just rent them a room here, or at the Devil's Hotel. With the other hotels on the island not being up to par for my tastes. And I would settle for nothing less, than the best, for my family and friends.'

Jayne stated, “I will just use the same local real estate agents that Chang and I used. They live on the island. And their names are Sans and Isandro. They are discreet, and fair, about their listings and prices.”

Inara inquired, “Do you have their phone numbers?”

Jayne said, “Not on me. But, I can give it to you, later.”

Inara replied, “That will be fine.”

Jayne then remembered, as he thought, 'Best to warn her. So, the others don't find out what happened, through her.'

Jayne cautioned, “Now, while I can understand you talking to River, about me bringing my family her. Be careful when you think about this, around River, or Annie. My family being here is minor, compared to everything else I told you. And I don't want them finding out. Until, you and I figure out what to tell them. If they react badly to the news. Especially River. They will immediately will tell the others. And this could quickly spiral out of control.”

Inara stated, “I realize that. As I said, I will handle telling them. When the time is right. And I have a lot more experience, and training, in keeping secrets, than you do.”

Jayne said, in a polite tone of voice, “I am sure of that. But, in dealing with telepaths and empaths, it is always wise to be wary of what one thinks and feels around them.”

Inara replied, “I will agree with your point. And I before I do anything, will talk to you, first.” She thought, with a bit of a sense of irony, 'Who would guess, that I have ended up having Jayne, of all people, be my confidant.'

Jayne thought, 'This has been a draining conversation. But, a good one. With me finally getting a lot off my chest, with someone I trust. Still, I really need to head to my room, to sit down and relax. Now, to convince her to let me go.'

Jayne suggested, “Good. Well, this conversation has been interesting, but we probably need to get back to what we were doing. Before people will start to notice that we are gone.”

Inara agreed, “Good idea. But, we will need to talk about this further, at a later date.”

Jayne responded, “That will be fine. But, let's give it a few days, to a week, to think about what we are going to say on this.”

Inara said, “I will agree with that. Now, enjoy your rest.”

Jayne thought, 'Damn. She is good at reading people. I have sometimes wondered if she was psychic. It wouldn't surprise me. Still, there is no point in denying.”

Jayne said, “I will. And have a pleasant night.”

Inara replied, “Same to you.”

The two of them then turned, and exited the storage room. Jayne was the last one out of the room. He turned the lights out, as he shut the door behind him, as he exited into the hallway.

After which, Jayne headed for his apartment suite, on one of the higher employee levels of the casino. While, Inara headed to the front, entertainment areas of the casino, to find something to do, to entertain himself. Though, she was not going there to gamble.

To be continued.



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