Title: In the Beginning

Author: HAPPYBUNNY13

Rating: PG13

Spoilers: None

Summary: My version of how Adventure Inc. got started told kind of through the eyes of Judson's niece (not written in first person.) Different from original.

Disclaimer: I don't own the Adventure Inc. characters or the show.

Note: I re-wrote this story, because I originally wanted to write a sequel, but my rough ideas of a sequel didn't work with the story. It is different from the original so please re-read it and tell me what you think. Oh, and please understand I am my own beta reader. I also started putting quotes before stories. Hope you enjoy. Bye.

In the Beginning

"All who wander are not lost." JRR Tolkien

My translation: "Just because a person doesn't seem to know where the heck they are or where they plan on going doesn't mean they won't know one day."

"I can't believe you," said a shocked Sherry Cross as she stared at her fifteen-year-old daughter, Katie. "How could you get yourself arrested?!"

"Well," said Katie prolonging her answer. "It's actually pretty easy." She gave her mother a nervous smile. "First thing you do, spray paint the school, second, get caught."

"That's not what I meant," said Sherry.

"Oh," said Katie. "I'm sorry?"

"Why did you spray paint the school?" asked Sherry as she rubbed her eyes.

"Um..........," said Katie. "I don't know." She gave her mother another weak smile.

Sherry stared coldly at her daughter. "Go to your room," Sherry finally said with a sigh.

Katie stood up from the armchair she had been sitting in and started toward her bedroom. When she was just about out of the room, Katie turned around and said quietly, "I really am sorry. I know your disappointed in me and I know what you're thinking. I give this speech every time I get in trouble. The thing is, I really do mean it." Katie turned back around and went to her room.

"What am I going to do with her?" Sherry asked herself. It was hard to stay mad at her daughter, but this was the second time she had gotten arrested. This time, Teen Court wouldn't cover it. She looked over at the table and saw a letter from her brother-in-law, Judson. Sherry had always gotten along well with Judson and when her husband died when Katie was five, he had said if they ever needed anything, just ask.

Sherry picked up the phone and dialed Judson's number. The phone rang several times and she waited for an answer. "Judson Cross," said a familiar voice after the third ring.

"Judson?" said Sherry. "This is Sherry."

!&!&!&

"Uncle Judson!" Katie shouted through the busy airport once she spotted her uncle. She grabbed her duffle bag and hurried toward him. She dropped her bag and reached up to give him a hug.

"How have you been?" Judson asked his niece after he let go of her. He picked up her bag.

"Good," answered Katie, "expect for the whole getting arrested thing."

"I heard about that," said Judson with a smile. "It's the reason your mother asked if you could stay withe me for the summer."

"And you accepted out of guilt," added Katie.

The smiled disappeared from Judson's face and he looked down at his niece. "I accepted because you're my niece and I haven't seen you in awhile."

"Oh," said Katie with a shrug of her shoulders. "Most of the time people accept because of guilt." She looked around as she and her uncle walked through the airport. "So how's your boat?" she asked changing the subject.

The smile return to Judson's face and he answered, "I finally got it all fixed up." He paused for a moment. "Now I need a crew."

"Easier said than done, I take it," said Katie as she pushed open the door and stepped out into the humid day.

"Yep," replied Judson. They walked to his car and he opened the trunk and set Katie's bag in it. "You ready?" he asked Katie as he closed the lid.

"As long as your car has an air conditioner," replied Katie as she wiped away the sweat that had formed on her forehead. She opened the passenger's side door and got in.

!&!&!&

"I set you up a room," said Judson. "I didn't think a couch was enough since you are staying with me for the whole summer."

"My friends are never gonna believe me when I tell them I spent my summer on a boat," said Katie as she looked around. The boat looked completely different from the pictures her uncle had sent her and her mother awhile ago.

"You get to travel, too," said Judson. He opened the trunk and got Katie's bag.

"I want to know how I'm being punished again," said Katie skeptically as she followed her uncle onto the boat.

"It's not exactly being punished," answered Judson. "It's more like taking a break from your normal life."

"Getting away from my town?" said Katie.

"Yes," replied Judson.

"Seeing the world?"

"That too."

"My mother keeping me away from my friends?"

"Yeah," said Judson with a nod. He then realized what Katie had said and turned to face her. "No," he said shaking his head repeatedly. "No. Not that."

"You are a very bad liar," said Katie as she crossed her arms.

Judson stared at his niece. She definitely took after her father. "She just thinks it would be better if you got away from them for awhile."

Katie sighed. "Maybe," she said after a minute or two of silence.

In an attempt to change the subject, Judson asked, "You hungry?"

"Starving," answered Katie. "I haven't had anything to eat since that bag of pretzels on the plane. Do you know they don't give bags of peanuts? They are ruining a perfectly good stereo type here."

"Well," said Judson, "let me go see what I have in the fridge." He went into the boat's kitchen and opened the small fridge. He saw the only things he had were a bottle of water, half a bottle of ketchup, and some eggs he thought had gone bad long ago.

Katie walked into the kitchen just as Judson shut the fridge. He looked up at Katie and asked, "You got anything against Chinese food?"

"Nope," replied Katie.

"Good," said Judson. He left to go find the phone.

!&!&!&

"How about this?" Judson asked Katie as he picked up the piece of paper in front of him. He started to read, but Katie cut him off.

"Uncle Judson," said Katie, "you have read me fifteen versions of your want ad and they just continue to get worse."

"Then you write one," said Judson handing the paper and pen to Katie.

"I di-didn't mean that," said Katie staring at her uncle.

"Too late," said Judson. "Write."

Katie sighed and picked up the pen. After about five minutes, she set down the pen and handed the paper to her uncle. Judson read it and the smile disappeared from his face. "It's good," he said quietly.

Katie smiled. "I know," she said happily.

"I'm gonna go call the newspaper," he said as he stood up from the table.

"Don't forget to tell them who wrote it," added Katie just as her uncle left the room. She returned to the letter she had been writing to her mother.

!&!&!&

Gabriel Paterson looked at the ad in the paper. "Crew member," he said aloud to himself. "Maybe I could do that." It wasn't exactly a job his family would approve of, but he didn't care any more. He picked up the phone and dialed the phone number mentioned in the ad.

!&!&!&

Judson hung up the phone and walked back into the kitchen where he and Katie had been eating breakfast. "So far five people have responded," said Judson, "and I have an interview this afternoon." He looked over at the table and saw Katie fast asleep. Judson walked over to her and shouted loudly in her ear, "Wakey, wakey!"

"What?!" shouted a startled Katie as she tried to stand up. He legs became entangled in the chair and she fell over.

"You were asleep," said Judson.

"I was asleep and you couldn't have left me that way because why?" asked Katie as she untangled herself from the chair.

"I don't know," replied Judson. "It seemed like it would be fun to scare you."

"You are a very mean person," said Katie finally getting her leg out.

"I know," said Judson as he sat down at the table. "I have an interview this afternoon."

"That's nice" said Katie as she pushed the empty plate in front of her away. She laid her head back on the table and tried to go back to sleep.

"That means you have to do the dishes," said Judson. He stood up and walked out of the room.

He smiled when about minute late, what he had said finally registered in Katie's mind. "Hey!" she shouted through the boat as she went after her uncle.

!&!&!&

"Miss Previn," said Judson staring at the woman sitting across from him, "you said you have worked as a Dive Master?"

"Yes, I did," answered Mackenzie Previn. "I also have references if you want to see them."

"No," said Judson. "I don't think I do, but there is one problem."

"What?" asked Mackenzie nervously.

"I can't pay you until after the first job," answered Judson.

"Does that mean I've got the job?" questioned Mackenzie.

"Yes," replied Judson. "You've got the job."

"Give me your number," said Judson, "and I'll call you."

Mackenzie wrote her number on a small piece of paper and handed it back to Judson.

"I'll call you once we have a job," said Judson. He and Mackenzie shook hands and she left.

"How many more people are you going to hire?" asked Katie as she walked into the room.

"How long have you been listening?" asked Judson turning to face his niece.

"For awhile," answered Katie simply. "She seems like a good person." She sat down in the chair across from her uncle. "When was the last time you did your dishes?"

"Three weeks," answered Judson.

"When I called you a mean person before," said Katie, "I was mistaken."

"I accept your apology," said Judson as he smiled at his niece.

"You're an evil person," added Katie.

"Thank you," said Judson.

"How many people are you going to hire?" asked Katie after a short silence.

"Don't know," answered Judson. "I have another interview tomorrow. The kid's name is Gabriel Patterson."

"Kid?" asked Katie confused.

"He's twenty-two," said Judson, "I call everyone younger than me 'kid'."

"My mom is younger than you," Katie pointed out. "Do you call her kid?"

"Don't rub my nose in the fact that I'm old," said Judson.

"Sorry," said Katie with an evil grin. She got up from the chair and left the room.

!&!&!&

The next day, Gabriel Patterson walked down the pier toward the 'Vast Explorer'. He hadn't told his father that he was applying for the job. Gabe was positive that he wouldn't agree.

He walked up the ramp onto the boat and saw a teenaged girl sitting on the deck writing on a pad of paper and listening to a portable CD player.

Gabriel walked over to the girl and tapped her on the shoulder. Startled, the girl reached up and pulled the headphones off her ears. "What the hell did you do that for?" asked the girl as she looked up at him.

Gabriel, also startled, jumped back. "Sorry," he said.

"It's alright," said the girl after she had calmed down. "I'm just easily startled."

"I'm Gabriel Patterson," said Gabriel. "I'm here for the interview."

"Oh yeah," said the girl with a nod of her head. "I'll go get my uncle." She stood up and walked into the cabin of the boat. Gabriel looked down at the pad of paper lying on the deck and saw that the girl was writing a letter. A minute or two later the girl came back out on deck.

"He's gonna be out here in a minute," said the girl as she picked up her paper and CD player.

Gabriel nodded and let out a sigh. "Who are you listening to?" he asked trying to make conversation.

The girl looked up at him and then looked at the CD player in her hands. "AFI," she replied simply. "People tell me there old stuff is a lot better, but I don't know. I'm kind of a fan of their newer CDs." Gabriel nodded, but didn't say anything. "You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?" asked the girl with a smile.

"Nope," replied Gabe.

"Not a lot of people do," said the girl. "It's okay."

"Hello," said Judson as he walked out onto the deck. He reached out and shook Gabe's hand. "I'm Judson Cross."

"Gabriel Patterson," said Gabriel.

"Katie Cross," threw in Katie. Judson and Gabriel looked at her. "Sorry, didn't want to be left out." After a few seconds of an awkward silence, she gave a small wave and walked away.

"That's my niece," explained Judson quickly.

"Oh," said Gabriel with a nod.

"Let's go," said Judson. He and Gabe walked into the cabin of the ship.

!&!&!&

After the interview was over and Gabriel had left, Katie and Judson were eating dinner. "He looks familiar and his name rings a bell," she said to her uncle as she took a drink from the glass in front of her. She started to think back to where she had seen him.

"He's way over qualified for this job. I can tell you that." said Judson as he read over Gabriel's resume again. He took a bite of his dinner and went back to reading. "He went to one of the finest colleges in the country. Why would someone like him want this job?"

Katie, who hadn't been listening at all to her uncle, suddenly said, "Now I remember where I saw him." She snapped her fingers quickly. "I saw him when I was at the-never mind!"

Judson turned toward Katie and asked, "What?"

"Nothing," said Katie quickly. She stood up and grabbed her plate and glass.

"Where did you see him at?" asked Judson more forcefully.

Katie sat back down at the table and sighed as she started her story. "Last year on Halloween, my friends and I tee-peed our math teacher's house. We were picked up by the cops."

"I thought you were arrested for spray painting the school?" said Judson looking at his niece.

"No," said Katie. "That was second time. The first time I was arrested was back in the seventh grade." Judson stared at his niece. "Anyhow, at the police station, I saw a news report on Senator Patterson. Gabriel Patterson is his son."

"Wow," said Judson. "No wonder he's over qualified." He looked back at the resume.

"So, you're not mad about the fact I've been arrested twice?" said Katie.

"There's not a whole lot I can do about it," said Judson. Katie could hear a little bit of an edge in his voice.

Katie sighed as she picked up her plate and glass. She cast her uncle one last glance as she left the room.

Judson tried to focus on the resume in front of him, but what he had said to his niece was bothering him. After a few more minutes of pretending to focus, Judson got up and went out onto the deck where Katie was standing at the edge of the boat staring at the water.

"I didn't mean to get arrested," said Katie when she heard her uncle footsteps. "It was an accident."

"Tee-peeing your teacher's house was an accident?" said Judson as he stood next to her.

"No," replied Katie. "That was a dare. According to Teen Court, I give into peer pressure."

"Was it peer pressure the second time?" asked Judson as he leaned on the edge.

"Actually, it was my idea the second time," answered Katie. "I felt bad."

"Because of what you did?"

"No," replied Katie, "because I got my friends in trouble too. I am sorry about all this."

"Then why do you do it?"

"I don't know," answered Katie as she tried to think. "Nothin' else to do I guess" With a sigh, she walked back into the cabin.

!&!&!&

Katie was walking back to the ship trying to balance two bags of groceries in one arm while she tried to skip ahead three songs on her CD player. Katie was getting nervous that it was going to be a losing battle.

"Want a hand?" asked a voice behind her.

"If you wouldn't mind," replied Katie. Someone took one of the bag of groceries from her and fell into step with her. She looked up at the person and saw that it was Gabriel Patterson. "Hello again," she said.

"Hi," said Gabriel. "You uncle called me and told me I got the job. He also said someone had called him with a job offer."

"Cool," said Katie. Gabriel was about to ask her another question when Katie answered it for him. "MXPX."

"What?" said Gabriel.

"I'm listening to MXPX," said Katie.

"How did you know I was going to ask that?" asked Gabriel.

"There was a lull in the conversation," answered Katie. "It was the obvious thing to ask."

"Oh," said Gabriel. "They're a good band."

"Not my favorite," answered Katie, "but good."

They reached the boat and walked up onto the deck. "Good," said Judson when he saw his niece. "You got the groceries."

"Yeah," said Katie. "Any other chores you want me to do?"

"No," said Judson. "You're good."

Katie smiled and then rolled her eyes. "Thanks for your help," she said to Gabriel as she took the bag and walked into the cabin of the ship.

"Hello, Gabriel," said Judson.

"You can call me Gabe," said Gabriel.

"Alright," said Judson. "You've met my niece apparently. Please excuse her attitude. She's kind of angry at me."

"No problem," said Gabriel.

"When Mackenzie Previn get's here," said Judson, "I can tell you about the job."

"Mackenzie Previn?" said Gabriel obviously not knowing the name.

"I hired her, too," said Judson. He looked at his watch. "She should be here any minute."

"Or now," said a woman's voice.

Both Judson and Gabriel turned to face the tall dark-haired beautiful woman. "Good," said Judson coming back to his senses before Gabe did. "Mackenzie Previn, let me introduce you to Gabe Patterson and then vice versa."

"Hello," said Mackenzie extending her hand.

Gabe took it. "Hi."

"If you two would come with me," said Judson, "I'll tell you about the job we've been hired to do."

!&!&!&

"What is it?" asked Katie as she stared at the drawing.

"The "Bleeding" Sword," answered Judson. Gabe and Mac had left awhile ago and Katie had finally came out of her room. Judson was happy that she seemed to be on speaking terms with him again.

"The what?" asked Katie giving her uncle a confused look.

"The "Bleeding" Sword," Judson said again. "It's jewel incrusted sword that disappeared about two centuries ago."

"And it bleeds?" said Katie setting the drawing down.

"They don't call it the bleeding sword for the hell of it," replied Judson quickly and then immediately regretted it. Sarcasm was what had gotten them mad at each other earlier.

"Sorry I'm not a history expert like you," said Katie. Judson could hear the anger in her voice.

"Let's not use sarcasm here," said Judson as he held up his hands. "Sarcasm is what made us mad in the first. I'm sorry."

"Yeah," said Katie. "Well, me too." She looked at the drawing and then asked, "So where is this sword?"

"France," replied Judson.

Katie turned toward her uncle with a look of disbelief on her face. "Let me make sure I understand this," said Katie. "We're going to France?"

"Yes," answered Judson.

"And I'm coming with?"

Judson nodded.

Katie was silent for a few seconds and then without warning, Katie stood up and shouted out happily, "I get to go to France!"

Judson started to laugh as he watched his niece jump up and down.

!&!&!&

Katie smiled as she stepped off the boat. The trip had taken way too long in her own opinion and it was good to be on dry land again.

"Are you coming, Katie?" asked Gabe as he stepped of the boat too. Judson and Mac had already gone ahead.

"Yeah," replied Katie. "Just taking it all in."

Gabe looked in the direction Katie was staring, but didn't see anything interesting. "Not much of a view," he said absent mindedly.

"Doesn't have to be," retorted Katie. "It just feels good to be here." She started in the direction her uncle and Mac had gone. Gabe followed her.

"We're supposed to meet with a girl named Adelaide Bovie," Katie and Gabe heard Judson say as they reached him.

"I am Adelaide," said a French accented voice. The group turned around and saw a girl around sixteen-years-old. "I am Adelaide Bovie," said the girl as she shook Judson's hand.

"Your father is David Bovie, right?" asked Judson. The girl nodded.

A bulky man a good few inches above the height of six feet came up behind Adelaide and she saw Judson's eyes drifting up to stare at him. "This is Christophe Lillard," said Adelaide without Judson needing to ask the question. "He works for my father."

"Oh," said Judson.

Adelaide nodded and looked at her watch. "We must go. My father wants us back by four o' clock."

"Great," said Judson. "Where's the car?"

"Just around the block," replied Adelaide. "Follow Christophe." The bulky man turned around and started down the street. Mac, Gabe, and Judson followed. Katie stayed behind and grabbed Adelaide's arm as she was bout to follow.

"New or old?" asked Katie simply.

"What?" asked Adelaide giving Katie a strange look.

"AFI," said Katie pointing to her shirt. "New or old?"

"New of course," answered Adelaide.

"Good answer," said Katie with a smile.

"You like them?" said Adelaide.

"Love them," answered Katie excitedly. "I like all sorts of rock music."

"Come on, Katie," Judson shouted back to them. Katie and Adelaide looked up and saw the group waiting for them, Christophe was glaring.

The two girls started toward the group and Katie said to Adelaide quietly, "Christophe doesn't talk much, does he?"

"He does not speak much English," answered Adelaide. "Understands it well enough, but does not speak it well."

"Oh," said Katie with a nod as they rounded the corner toward the car.

!&!&!&

"Dad," said Adelaide once they were at the museum, "they are here." Christophe nodded to them and then wandered off somewhere in the museum.

A man in his mid-thirties came into the room and shook Judson's hand. "I am so glad you could make it," said David enthusiastically. "I have this text I want to show you, but first I need to find my glasses."

"Dad," said Adelaide slightly embarrassed as she tapped her father on the shoulder.

"What?" asked David. Adelaide leaned over and whispered something in his ear in French. David felt his mop-top hair and pulled out a pair of glasses. "Thank you, Adelaide," said David sheepishly. "Follow me."

Judson, Gabe, and Mac followed David and Katie stood where she was and started to look around.

"Do you like Good Charlotte?" asked Adelaide.

"Yeah," said Katie. She stared at her.

"You do not really want to go look at some boring text, do you?" asked Adelaide.

"Not really," answered Katie.

"I have the Good Charlotte CDs with me," said Adelaide.

"Well, then," said Katie, "what are we waiting for?" She followed Adelaide toward the entrance of the museum when a man walked into the museum.

"Where is your father, Adelaide?" the man demanded. He had a heavy British accent

"I am sorry, Mr. Hardy," said Adelaide, Katie could here the forced politeness in her voice, "but he is on a meeting at the moment."

"Don't pull that stupid fake politeness with me, Adelaide," said Hardy. "You know that he promised that sword excavation to me."

"One," said Adelaide sticking her figure in the man's face, "accept any kind of politeness you can get from me cause that is a miracle in itself and two, my father is a man of honor and he would not want a rat like you searching for such an important piece of history."

Hardy glared down at the teenager and said through clenched teeth, "You need to learn how to respect your elders."

"I see nothing in front of me that I need to respect," said Adelaide meeting Hardy's eyes. "All I see is a low-life thief who will never have a job at this museum again."

"How dare you call me a thief!" Hardy shouted at Adelaide. The shout brought David, Judson, Gabe, and Mac from the office.

"What's going on?" asked David staring at the small group in the middle of the lobby. Hardy, Adelaide, and Katie looked over at the small absent-minder curator. "Hardy!" said David angrily as he stormed over to the man. "I told you never to come to my museum again."

"You promised the sword excavation to me!" said Hardy staring down the smaller man. "And I intend to hold you to that agreement." He turned around and stormed out of the museum.

"Who was that?" asked Judson after a minute. It was easy to see there were hard feelings between the two men.

"Paul Hardy," replied David his voice sounding calmer. "He is who I originally hired to find the sword," replied David. "But he only wants to sell history to the highest bidder. He can rot in Hell for all I care."

"Ooh," said Mac. "Mean man."

"Mean does not cover Paul Hardy," said David.

"You really hold that sword in high regard," said Gabe.

"Yes," said David. "An ancestor of mine was its original owner."

"Is that why you want the sword so much?" asked Judson.

"That is one of the reasons," answered David, "but I sometimes wonder if that sword is better off lost."

"I've read stories about the sword," said Judson, "and it seems like it's worth a fortune. The jewels in its handle alone would bring in a pretty penny."

David turned toward Judson and said angrily, "Please tell me you have more regard for history than selling it like Hardy."

"I don't want to sell the sword," said Judson in his defense. "I'm just pointing out a fact."

There a few seconds of uneasy silence and the David said, "I am sorry for my outburst."

"It's okay," said Judson, "but tell me. Why do you think the sword is better off lost?" "You have probably read the more common myths about the sword," said David, "but there is one that most people do not believe. People often ask why it is called the bleeding sword and not many people are able to answer." Katie looked at her uncle. "Please come to my office."

The group looked at the small over-worked man as he walked away and then complied with his orders. They walked into David's office. Judson, Mac, and Gabe got the three chairs in the office and Adelaide and Katie, without a second thought, just sat on the floor.

David sat down behind his desk and opened up an old leather-bond. "Along time ago, a good five or six centuries, a man crafted a sword. Its blade was made from silver, and its handle was made of gold. Inlaid in a pattern on its handle were jewels. Seven to be exact. The man had made the sword for merely one purpose. It was to kill an enemy he had, but he never got a chance. His enemy was one step ahead. As a spoil of his victory, the enemy took the sword with him. It continued that way for many years. Each time another person was killed in revenge, the sword was taken as a victory until it just disappeared."

"That has been my bedtime story since I was a baby," said Adelaide with a smile.

"Her mother never liked it when I told it to her," said David.

"That's a detailed myth," said Judson, "but how do you know it?"

David sighed. "It is part of my family history," replied David. "It was my ancestor who was originally killed."

"Why is it called the "Bleeding" Sword?" asked Mac.

"Three times in my family history the blade of the sword was said to have bled," answered David.

"That's a great story," said Judson. "Not sure if I believe it, but a great story."

David looked over at Judson and said, "You were not hired to believe the story. All I want you to do is find the sword."

"Alright," said Judson. "We'll be back here tomorrow morning."

"Thank you," said David. "Once again, I apologize for my rudeness."

"No problem," said Judson. "Come on guys." He, Mac, Gabe, and Katie left the office.

"Do you think he's telling the truth?" asked Gabe once they were outside the museum.

"I think he believes what he's told us," replied Judson. "I personally don't know what to believe, but like he said. We don't have to. He just wants us to find it"

"So what time are we going tomorrow?" asked Katie.

"We're leaving at eight," said Judson pointing to him, Mac, and Gabe. "You're staying on the boat. You're gonna clean the kitchen."

"Why do I always have to clean the kitchen?" demanded Katie angrily.

"Cause it's always the dirtiest," replied Judson ending the argument plain and simple

!&!&!&

Katie woke up the next morning to the high pitched beeping of her alarm clock. "Who the hell set my alarm clock," Katie mumbled as she turned it off. She sat up and looked, "9:05," she said through a yawn."They're long gone by now." She somehow managed to get herself out of bed and went to the kitchen.

She saw a note lying on the counter and quickly read it. "Clean the kitchen." She tossed the note back onto the counter and went over to the fridge. Katie poured herself a glass of orange juice and grabbed a package of pop-tarts. After she was done eating, she would clean.

!&!&!&

"Where are we going to start?" asked Gabe as they sat outside of the museum. David was over an hour late.

"I was hoping David could help us with that," replied Judson.

"He can't help us if he's not here," said Mac with annoyance in her voice.

A silver car pulled up in front of the museum and David stepped out. "What are you guys doing out here?"

"Waiting for you," answered Mac.

"Christophe was supposed to let you in when you got here," said David. He pulled a key ring out his pocket and unlocked the doors of the museum.

"I was wondering if you had any other books on the sword," said Judson as they stepped into the museum, "or any idea where we should start looking."

"I have both," replied David. "I have many books about the sword and there is an old chateau my family owned a long time ago."

"Was your family the last one to have the sword?" asked Gabe.

"I am not a hundred percent sure," replied David. "There is a fifty-fifty chance, I guess."

"Alright," said Judson. "Two of us can go to the chateau and one of us can stay here and go through the books."

"I will send Christophe along with you to the chateau," said David. "He knows it well enough."

"I'll go through the books," said Gabe.

"I will help you," said David.

"I guess that leaves us with the chateau," said Mac. Judson nodded.

!&!&!&

Katie sang along to the CD as she washed the dishes. Yellowcard was definitely her favorite band and she had the music blaring.

"I think you should turn it up," said a voice behind her. "I could not here from a block away."

Katie turned around quickly and saw Adelaide standing in the doorway. "You scared the hell out of me," said Katie as she tried to catch her breath.

"Sorry," said Adelaide. "What are you doing?"

"Dishes," answered Katie.

"Why?"

"Because my uncle said."

"Do you live with your uncle?"

"For the summer, I do."

"Why only for the summer?"

Katie sighed and sat down at the table. "I kind of got arrested and my mother thought it would be better if I got away from my town for awhile."

"What about your father?"

Katie paused for a second taken by surprise by the question. "He died when I was five."

"I am sorry," said Adelaide embarrassed.

"Why?" asked Katie. "It wasn't your fault." Adelaide looked at her. "Uncle Judson is his brother. He kind of took over for him.

"My mother died when I was seven," said Adelaide. Katie nodded. Adelaide looked around the kitchen and saw that Katie was nowhere near done with cleaning. "Want some help?" she asked.

"Sure."

!&!&!&

Christophe unlocked the doors of the chateau and let Mac and Judson inside. "Do you have any idea where we should start?" Judson asked him.

"No," replied Christophe. "You are here to look around."

"You gonna help?" asked Mac. The man didn't answer. "Okay."

Judson looked over at the stairs and asked, "You want to start upstairs or down?"

"I'll take the upstairs," answered Mac. "You can take the downstairs." She walked up the stairs and Judson started to look around the downstairs. Christophe did not move from his spot by the door.

!&!&!&

"We've been at this for hours," said Gabe as he closed the book in front of him.

"Correction," said David. "You have been at this for hours; I have been at this for years."

"Did you ever find anything?" asked Gabe.

"Truthfully," said David. "I did not know what I was looking for."

"Why do you think the sword is better off lost?"

"Please understand," started David, "this is only a myth I have read, but the sword is said to give unlimited strength, power, and immortality. The myth does not say how a person gets it. All it says is that a person can."

"That would definitely make the sword worth more money," said Gabe.

"And more dangerous," added David.

Gabe nodded in understanding and picked up another book.

!&!&!&

"Did you find anything?" asked Judson when Mac came down the stairs.

"Nope," answered Mac. "According to Christophe though, we were only supposed to look around."

Christophe looked up when he heard his name and glared at the two people. "I don't advise making him mad," said Judson quietly.

"We must go," said Christophe simply. He opened the door of the chateau and walked out.

"I think we should go with him," said Judson. "He's our ride."

Mac nodded and they walked out to the car. Christophe was already in the driver's seat waiting for them and took off immediately once they were in the car.

!&!&!&

Gabe's eyes started to drift close as he opened the book in front of him. He was so tired of reading old books and coming up empty handed.

"The riddle," said David quietly. Gabe looked up and saw him staring at the book in his hands. "That is the book that has the riddle."

"What riddle?" asked Gabe.

"I can not remember it," answered David. "It was a long time ago when I read and it was in English. I did not know English well at the time."

Gabe flipped through the book, being careful of the old worn pages, searching for the riddle. "I think I found it. 'Go home in the time of the Lion and watch as Apollo kneels. The bloodstained fortune shall reveal itself. Beware of the power it wields."

"That is the riddle," said David.

"You guys find anything?" asked Mac as she and Judson walked into the room.

"This," answered Gabe. He handed the book to her and she and Judson quickly read the riddle.

"What's it mean?" asked Mac.

"Your guess is as good as mine," replied David.

"Do you mind if we take this with us?" asked Judson.

For a second, a look of uncertainty passed over his face, but he finally answered, "Yes, but please be careful with it."

"We will," said Judson. He took the book from Mac and read the riddle again. Christophe was standing outside the door listening to the conversation.

!&!&!&

"I just don't get the riddle," said Judson. He, Mac, and Gabe were sitting at the bar of the local tavern. "I mean, I get some of it, but the rest of it doesn't make sense."

"Apollo has to be the sun," said Gabe, "and kneeling must mean sunset."

"The bloodstained fortune is the sword," said Mac before she took a drink.

"Home could mean the chateau," said Judson, "but what about in the time of the lion."

Mac shrugged and Gabe took a drink from his own glass.

Judson turned around and looked around the bar the people. He saw two familiar faces sitting at a table. "You guys know any reason why Paul Hardy and Christophe would be here?" asked Judson.

"They like beer," replied Mac.

"Any reason why they would be here together?" Judson asked this time.

Mac and Gabe turned around and saw the two sitting at a table near the back of the bar. Christophe handed Hardy a thick book and Hardy smiled. Christophe got up from the table and walked out of the bar.

"That didn't seem out of the ordinary," said Gabe sarcastically.

Hardy looked up from the book and over at the bar. Hatred passed over his face, and he got up and walked over to the bar. "What the hell are you guys doing here?" he demanded.

"Drinking," replied Mac as she picked up her glass and showed it to him.

"Let me warn you," said Hardy completely ignoring Mac's reply. "David Bovie promised the sword job to me and I intend to hold him to that agreement." He paused for minute and sized up the group. "Even if you are in my way."

"Is that a threat?" asked Judson matching the man's stare.

"Maybe," replied Hardy.

Judson stood up and was about to shout at the man when Hardy suddenly threw a punch that hit its intended target. Judson staggered back against the bar and both Mac and Gabe stood up to help him. Judson was covering his eye with one hand and trying to support himself with the other. "Where is he?" asked Judson.

Gabe turned around to look for him, but Hardy was already going out the door. "He left," said Gabe ruefully.

Judson left out a sigh of frustration and took a seat at the bar. He accepted the ice-pack the bartender handed him and set it against the side of his face.

!&!&!&

Katie sat at the table reading over the riddle again. There were hundreds of scratch answers on a piece of paper next to her, but none of them made sense. "Time of the lion," she repeated to herself again. "Apollo is the sun, but what is the time of the lion?" Suddenly, the answer hit her. "The time of the lion. Leo. Leo is the lion. The riddle means the astrological time of Leos."

She heard her uncle, Gabe, and Mac coming back and couldn't wait to show them the answer. She heard her uncle walk into the kitchen, but was at a loss for words when she saw him. "Why do you have a black eye?" she finally managed to ask.

Judson sat down at the table and set the ice-pack down. "I got into a fight at the bar."

"Oh my god," said Katie. "I can't wait to tell my mom."

"No," said Judson. "You're not telling your mom about this."

Katie started to snicker and Judson sighed. "I figured out your riddle," said Katie.

"What?" said Judson looking up at his niece.

"Yeah," said Katie. "It took me awhile, but I finally got it."

"You figured out 'in the time of the lion?'" said Judson excitedly.

"Yeah," replied Katie. "Astrological time. Whenever a Leo is born."

"When is that?" asked Judson not knowing the horoscopes well.

"Now," replied Katie.

"That's convenient," said Judson. Katie nodded in agreement.

!&!&!&

Katie woke up the next morning long before her alarm clock was supposed to go off. She rolled over and looked at the display. "6:30," groaned as she pulled the pillow over her head. "What the hell am I doing awake at 6:30?" She tried to force herself to go back to, but it didn't work.

Katie finally got out of her bed and grabbed her notebook and pen. "If I'm awake," she thought to herself, "I might as well make use of my time and write mom a letter." She thought about the fact it would probably be cold out on the deck and also grabbed the fleece blanket off her bed.

Katie walked out onto the deck and sat down in the middle in one of the few sunbeams. She opened the notebook and started to write.

!&!&!&

Judson, Mac, and Gabe were sitting in the kitchen eating breakfast. They were well aware Katie was out on the deck, but she refused to come in till she finished the letter.

"Where are we starting today?" asked Mac.

"Well," said Judson, "thanks to Katie, we know when to go to the chateau, but other than that, I'm not sure."

"We could ask David about Christophe," suggested Gabe.

Mac nodded and Judson said, "That would be smart."

"Done," said Katie as she walked in. She set the notebook on the table and went over to the fridge to try and find something to eat.

"My black eye isn't mentioned anywhere in there, is it?" asked Judson as he tried to get a look at the letter.

Katie picked up the notebook with her free-hand, an apple occupied the other, and replied, "The letter is black-eye free, unlike you." She walked back outside.

"What did she do again?" asked Mac.

"Got arrested," answered Judson simply.

"Wonder where she gets her trouble streak from," retorted Gabe with a laugh.

"You're a very funny person," said Judson sarcastically.

!&!&!&

Katie was lying on the deck staring up at the sky struggling to stay awake. Mac, Gabe, and her uncle had left over an hour ago to go to the museum and she was bored out of her mind.

"See anything interesting?" Adelaide asked as she stepped onto the deck.

"No," replied Katie. "I went blind about an hour ago. Staring at the sun will do that."

"What are you going to do today?" asked Adelaide as she stepped over to her.

"In awhile," said Katie, "I'm gonna go watch the grass grow."

"You know," said Adelaide, "Paris is only twenty minutes away from here."

"What does that mean?"

"It means," said Adelaide, "I have two friends, Sebastien and Jullien, who are going to Paris and they want to know if we want to go."

"Are they cute?" asked Katie as she sat up. Adelaide nodded. "Then let's go." Katie stood up and ran to the kitchen. She tore a page from her notebook and wrote a quick note to her uncle. She hurried back out onto the deck and she and Adelaide left.

!&!&!&

"Hello?" said David as Judson walked into his office. "I did not except to see you till later. Do you have a problem?"

"Are you missing any books?" asked Judson.

"Only the one you borrowed," replied David. "Why?"

"Does Christophe have any of your books?" asked Judson.

"Truthfully," answered David, "I do not know. He might have borrowed one without my knowledge, but he does it a lot. He is a good worker. Very smart." He stared at the man for a minute. "Why?" he asked suspiciously.

"Well," said Judson, "I was just kind of wondering." David continued to stare at him. "Do he and Hardy know each other?"

"From here," responded David. "They could not talk very much. They don't speak too much of each other's languages." He paused for a minute and thought. "Did you see Hardy?"

"Kinda," answered Judson.

David got up from his desk and walked over to the overfilled bookcase in the corner of his office. He put on the glasses that rested on top of his head and started to scan the spines of the books. "I do not see any books missing, but I could be wrong." He turned to face Judson. "You have a black eye," he said to Judson.

"Uh...," said Judson reaching up to try and cover it a bit, "yeah. That was an accident." He stood there quiet for a few seconds. "We'll see you at the chateau later." He quickly left the office. He had told Gabe and Mac he would meet them for lunch at noon and he was already late. He saw Christophe enter the museum carry a large black bag. He shot Judson a glare as he walked towards his own office. "Read any good books lately?" asked Judson just as Christophe was about out of the foyer.

The large man turned around and stared at him. "I do not have time to read," the man was finally able to come up with in broken English. Judson knew the pause had nothing to do with a language barrier.

!&!&!&

"Paris is awesome!" Katie shouted over to Adelaide from the back of Sebastien's motorcycle. They were flying down the street and for the first time since she had left L.A., she didn't miss her friends.

Adelaide shook her head. "What did you expect!?" Adelaide shouted from the back of Jullien's.

"I don't know!" Katie replied. "How am I gonna tell my friends about this?" She held on tight to Sebastien's shoulders.

"Don't," Sebastien replied simply as he pulled the motorcycle to a halt.

"What are we doing?" asked Katie as Sebastien help her off the motorcycle.

"You can't only see Paris on motorcycle," said Sebastien. "You have to walk around it too."

"I guess it is hard to see all the sites of Paris if you're only driving through it," said Katie. They walked down the streets comparing stories when Adelaide bumped into a man leaving the library.

"Sorry," said Adelaide with a laugh. She looked up at the man she had ran into and a looked of hatred clouded her eyes.

"What are you doing here?" Hardy asked Adelaide and Katie. He completely ignored the two boys.

"It is a free country," said Jullien sticking up for the two girls. "We have a right to be here."

Hardy looked coldly at Katie and Adelaide and said in a threatening tone, "Stay out of my way. Tell your families that, too."

"Are you threatening them?" asked Sebastien. He took a step toward the older man.

"Yes," replied Hardy. Hardy glared once more at the two girls and then turned around. A small leather book fell out of his back pocket as he started to walk away. Hardy didn't seem to notice. Sebastien picked up the book and turned toward the other three teens. "I have an idea."

"What?" asked Katie.

"We have your book." The taunt was started by Sebastien, but the other teens soon joined in.

Hardy turned back toward the group and stared at the book. He felt his back pocket, but found the book missing. He watched as the group they took off running down the street and started after them. They got back on the motorcycles and took off down the street.

"Where do you want to go now?" Sebastien asked Katie.

"The Eiffel Tower," replied Katie.

"Can do," said Jullien.

!&!&!&

Judson met up with Mac and Gabe in the restaurant and sat down at their table.

"What did you find out?" asked Mac.

"Not much," replied Judson. "Though David does seem a lot calmer today than he did yesterday."

"What do you mean?" asked Gabe.

"He said that maybe one of his books was missing, but," answered Judson, "he didn't seem to care."

"He nearly freaked out yesterday when you wanted to borrow the riddle book," said Mac.

"Maybe it's because Christophe has the book," suggested Gabe.

"What difference would that make?" asked Mac.

"He works with the guy?" answered Gabe with a shrug.

Judson nodded and ordered his lunch. He wasn't too interested in their conversation because he was starved.

!&!&!&

Judson found Katie's note lying on the kitchen counter. He picked it up and quickly scanned it. "Dear Uncle Judson,

Went with Adelaide. Be back before dark.

Love,

Katie."

He looked up at the clock and saw that it was only three. "She probably won't be back for awhile," he thought to himself. He set the note down and went out onto the deck. Mac was lying back in a lawn chair and Gabe was typing on his computer.

"Where's Katie?" asked Gabe without even looking up.

"With Adelaide," replied Judson. "She left a note."

!&!&!&

"You guys will not believe what we found today," said Katie excitedly as she and Adelaide stepped onto the book.

"What?" asked Judson as he stood up.

Adelaide handed the book to Judson and he quickly flipped it open and started to read. "Where did you get this?" he asked in a bewildered tone not looking up from the pages.

"Get what?" asked Mac and Gabe in unison.

"I need to call my father," said Adelaide. "He needs to see this."

"See what?" asked Gabe starting to get annoyed.

"Adelaide and I "borrowed" this from Hardy," said Katie. "You might want to hurry up and use it before he comes from it."

"Comes for what?" asked Gabe.

"For this," said Judson holding up an old worn book. "It's all about the sword."

"And my family," Adelaide threw in.

He opened the book and then sighed. "It's all in French. Adelaide go call your father." He had only been able to read the French title; the content of the book was a different thing.

Adelaide nodded and took out her cellphone. She dialed the museum's number and waited while it rang.

"How did you get this?" Judson asked his niece.

"Adelaide and I ran into Hardy today while we were out," explained Katie. She laughed a bit. "Literally, we ran into him. When he dropped the book, we picked it up and "forgot" to return it. We didn't know what the book was about until we stopped to read it."

Judson tried to be mad at his niece, but he couldn't. Sometimes, she could do great things without even trying.

"How long ago did you "borrow" it?" asked Judson as he thumbed through the book.

"We took it around noon," said Katie.

"We had better hurry up then," said Judson.

He turned another page and saw some words he could translate.

"'Never to have made another man bleed," said Judson aloud.

"What?" asked Gabe looking over at Judson.

"The book says it," replied Judson. "I can't read anything else around it though."

"My father will be here as soon as possible," said Adelaide as she hung up her cellphone.

"Good," said Judson. "Can you tell me what this page says?" He handed the book to Adelaide.

"Sure," answered Adelaide. "'By the blood of the sword, you will gain the strength of all those who swung the sword and all those slain by the sword.'"

"What does that mean?" asked Mac. She looked over Adelaide's shoulder, but could read very little of the page.

"I'm not sure," said Judson. "I hope David get's here soon."

!&!&!&

"I cannot believe it!" exclaimed David. "My life's work is about to pay off." He grabbed few of his books and the keys to the chateau.

David locked his office door and walked through the darkened museum. It was Sunday and the museum had been closed the entire day.

"Where am I going to put it?" he thought aloud to him. "We still have those empty display cases in the back. Need to clear some room in one of the wings." David continued to mutter to himself as he walked through the museum.

David stepped into the cool afternoon air and headed for his car. He reached for the handle, but before he could open the door, the barrel of a gun was placed against his head.

"Going somewhere?" the holder of the gun asked coldly.

"I should have known this would not be easy with you around, Hardy," said David as calmly as he could.

"Oh," said Hardy, "but I couldn't have don it on my own." Christophe stepped over to the car. He too had a gun.

Hardy stared in disbelief at who he had thought was a loyal worker. David was at a loss for words.

"Get in," said Hardy as he pushed David into the side of the car. Hardy walked around to the other side of the car keeping the gun trained on David the entire time. "You follow in my car, Christophe." They got into the car and David drove the car towards the boat.

!&!&!&

"Did you guys find anything interesting?" asked Katie as they waited for David.

"No," replied Judson. "It's been a very dull day."

"Until you guys found that book," Gabe threw in.

"Would that be my book?" asked a voice they all knew. The group turned toward Hardy and saw him holding a gun to David's head. Christophe was standing behind him.

"Dad!" Adelaide shouted nervously when she saw him.

"Well," said Hardy as he cocked the gun. "Would that be my book?"

"Yes," replied Judson answering for Katie and Adelaide.

"Have a seat," Hardy said to David. David sat down with the others, but Hardy and Christophe remained on their feet. "Adelaide, would you be so kind as to read from that book you took from me?" asked Hardy calmly.

Judson watched as a range emotions passed through Adelaide's eyes.

"Go ahead, Honey," said David quietly to his daughter.

Adelaide nodded and started to read. "'By the blood of the sword, you will gain the strength of all those who swung the sword and all those slain by the sword. But this cannot be if things are not right. Never to have made another man bleed. One can always overcome their obstacles by using the strength of another.' That's all it says."

"I was right," said Hardy. "You have to drink the blood from the sword."

"That's gross," said Katie. Judson looked nervously toward his niece and Christophe glared at her.

"What about never having made another man bleed?" asked Mac calmly.

"That is a problem," said Hardy, "but one that is easily solved." He leveled the gun at the group. "I have a question for you and please be aware that a wrong answer could cost you your life." He paused for a minute. "Who among you has not purposely hurt another person?"

When no one answered, David grabbed hold of Judson's should and put the gun against his head. "I will ask again: Who here has not purposely hurt another person?"

Katie, Adelaide, and Gabe slowly raised their hands.

"Good," said Hardy letting go of Judson's shoulder. "Christophe told me about the riddle. It is about an hour from sunset. Why don't we head on up to the chateau?" No one moved. "Fine," said Hardy. "Don't listen." He grabbed hold of Gabe's shoulder and leveled the gun at him. "We're going to take a nice ride up to chateau and you guys are going to find me that sword or you all die, got it?"

The group nodded and got up from the table. "Christophe, you take Mr. Cross, Miss Bovie, and Miss Previn," said Hardy. "I'll take Mr. Bovie, Miss Cross, and Mr. Patterson." They walked outside and got into the vehicles.

"He's pretty smart," Judson thought to himself. Christophe was making him drive. "He knows I won't do anything as long as he's got Katie and David won't do anything as long as Christophe's got Adelaide."

!&!&!&

Katie sat quietly in the back seat. She knew this wasn't what her mother had excepted to happen while she stayed with her uncle.

David sat in the driver's seat of the car, Hardy had the gun aimed at him from the passengers' seat and Katie and Gabe were in the back.

"Doesn't hurt to be out thought by me?" Hardy asked David. "I think it proves you made a mistake, and I was the right person for the job."

"You would have done this in the end," said David without taking his eyes off the rode.

"Face it," said Hardy. "I'm smarter than you."

"So what?" said Katie from the backseat. "This doesn't prove anything."

Hardy turned toward Katie. "What?" he asked. "I definitely tricked you all."

"Big deal," said Katie. "You give a chimp a typewriter and he can produce Shakespeare."

"Are you comparing me to a chimp?" asked Hardy through clenched teeth.

"No," said Katie with a smile knowing she was going to regret what she was about to say, "I don't want to insult the chimp."

David was struggling to hold back a laugh as Hardy sighed and turned back toward the front. Then, without warning, Hardy swung his hand and backhanded Katie across the face. The force caused her to hit her head on the window of the car. "I advise you to shut up."

Gabe looked over at Katie and saw staring to blankly ahead. She looked confused on what hurt worse, her head or her jaw. Her lip was split and had started to bleed. "Are you okay?" he asked her. She looked a little shook up.

"F-fi-fine," replied Katie quietly. She swiped the back of her hand across her lip to get rid of the blood.

!&!&!&

Christophe's and Hardy's car stopped in front of the chateau and the passengers got out. Judson looked over towards the other car in search of Katie. She was holding a tissue to her bottom lip. "What happened?" asked Judson as he rushed over to her.

"I got sarcastic," replied Katie simply.

Hardy pushed her forward and glared at Judson. "Go up to the chateau," said Hardy coldly.

"What happened?" Judson demanded of Gabe.

"Hardy got mad at her and backhanded her," answered Gabe. "She hit her head on the window, too. She was pretty shook up after it happened."

Judson wanted to run up and deck Hardy, but he knew that it would only make the situation worse.

"Would you please unlock the door?" Hardy said to David. David sighed and pulled the keys out of his pocket. He inserted the key into the lock, and then turned it. The large oak doors of the chateau opened and the group walked inside.

"How long to sunset?" asked Christophe impatiently.

"I should be happening any minute," replied Hardy.

"How do you know about the riddle?" asked Mac.

"I told him," said Christophe. "I have been through all the books."

"It's sunset," said Judson breaking up the conversation.

They group all turned and stared out one of the windows. It was the only window on the west side of the chateau that was plain glass. The other four were stained glass. The sun started going down, but the sword wasn't revealed.

"Where is it?" Hardy demanded of nobody specific. He turned and grabbed the front of David's shirt and screamed, "Where is it?" Judson and Mac took a step forward, but Christophe cocking his own gun stopped them.

"Where is it?" Hardy shouted at David. When he didn't answer, Hardy shoved him up against the wall.

Hardy was about to hit the smaller man when Adelaide's quiet voice interrupted them, "It is a door."

The group turned in the direction Adelaide was looking and saw her staring at a design one of the stained glass windows had cast on the wall. It was a man standing with one hand holding up a sword, but behind him, there was a door. Judson walked over to and touched the brick that the handle from the window was on. "It's loose," he said. He pulled the brick out and found a real door handle behind it.

"Open it," said Hardy.

Judson reached through the hole in the brick and opened the door of bricks. It was unusually light and Judson knew the bricks weren't real. The group crowded into the new room and looked around. Through the middle of the room, there was a mirror image of the stained glass window from outside; it was however missing the door in the background. Behind the glass, the sword rested on a pedestal.

"Break it," Hardy said simply.

"You cannot!" shouted David appalled by Hardy's words.

Hardy sighed and grabbed Gabe's arm, who had the bad luck to be standing closest to him. He shoved the gun into his back and repeated, "Break it!"

"Everybody stand back," said Judson with a sigh. He picked up large stone that had fallen out of the wall of the room and hurled it at the window. Hardy smiled as he watched the glass break. This was what he had been waiting for.

"You," he said pointing to Judson, "go and get the sword and bring it to me."

"No," said Judson quietly.

"Excuse me?" asked Hardy. Judson looked up and saw a look of pain on Gabe's face as Hardy shoved the gun deeper into his back.

Judson quickly relented and stepped through the broken glass to retrieve the sword. He took it off it's spot on the pedestal and held it in his hands. It was a beautiful sword with designs down the blade and jewels in the handle. He stepped back through the glass and walked over to Hardy. "Here," said Judson angrily as he handed the sword to Hardy. "Now let him go."

Hardy laughed and shoved Gabe toward the group. He held the sword in one hand and the gun in the other. Christophe smiled when he saw the sword.

During this entire time, no one noticed Katie as she slowly bent down and picked up a shard of glass. She walked over to Adelaide and muttered quietly under her breath, "Please forgive me." She took a deep breath and put her hand over Adelaide's mouth. Before Adelaide could react, Katie pulled the glass across her arm. Adelaide cried out in pain, but Katie's hand muffled the scream enough that no one noticed.

"Why the Hell did you do that?" demanded Adelaide quietly as she looked at her bleeding arm.

"I'll explain later," said Katie. "Just cut my arm." She handed her a piece of glass and held out her arm. She closed her eyes anticipating the pain.

"What?" asked Adelaide. "Are you crazy?" But seeing the seriousness in Katie's eyes, she took the piece of glass and cut Katie's arm. Katie hissed in pain and pulled her arm closed to her body. Adelaide dropped the glass as if it burned her.

Hardy stepped into the middle of the room holding the sword tightly in his hand. "All I need now is a volunteer." He turned toward Adelaide and Katie and saw that both their arms were bleeding. "It doesn't matter if you cut yourself."

"I cut her and she cut me," said Katie through clenched.

The smile faded from Hardy's face, but it quickly came back. "That's okay," said Hardy his voice growing more menacing, "there is still one choice." He walked over to Gabe, the gun still trained on the group. Hardy nodded at Christophe who was standing behind the group. Christophe raised the his gun and hit Gabe on the back of the head. He crumpled to the ground unconscious.

"Hey!" shouted Judson taking a step toward Gabe.

"I'll still kill him," said Hardy aiming his own gun at Gabe's head.

Judson stepped back and watched as Hardy grabbed hold of Gabe's shoulder. He dragged Gabe to the center of the room and set the gun the on the pedestal.

Hardy watched as the blade bleed. Christophe pulled a golden chalice out of his black bag and tossed it to Hardy.

"You stole that from one of the exhibits at the museum," said David angrily as he looked at the man. Christophe sneered at David and nodded.

Hardy collected the blood from the sword in the chalice and then set the sword down. He pulled Gabe to his knees and poured the blood down his throat.

The blood brought Gabe back to consciousness, but before he could spit it out, Hardy placed his hand over his mouth. "Swallow it," said Hardy putting the gun against Gabe's head. Gabe swallowed the blood and immediately felt his stomach churn. He started to cough badly as he held his stomach in pain. Hardy just laughed. He picked up the sword from its resting spot on the pedestal and then plunged it into Gabe's back.

"Are you crazy?!" shouted Judson. He was about to rush at the man, but the cold steel of Christophe's gun against the back of his head stopped him. Judson looked over at the shocked faces of his comrades, but brooded over the fact he could do nothing.

"No," said Hardy with a laugh. "I'm not crazy. I'm powerful." He pulled the sword out of Gabe's back. Gabe felt every once of strength leave him with the sword. He fell to the floor and let the darkness engulf him.

"You said you wouldn't hurt him!" shouted Mac, but the gunman behind kept her glued to the spot.

"No, I didn't," said Hardy. "In fact, I said that I'd kill him." He aimed the gun at Gabe's head and pulled the trigger.

Judson watched as David tackled Hardy to the floor and the shot fired into the ceiling. David fought as hard as he could, but since Hardy had all the strength, he quickly lost the battle.

Mac had used this time to knock the distracted Christophe to the ground and Judson rushed over to where Gabe was lying. Judson prayed for good news as he felt for a pulse on Gabe's neck. He was relieved to find a weak, but constant, pulse. He sighed and then half dragged half carried Gabe back over to the rest of the group.

"We have to get him out of here!" shouted Mac. She was trying to wake Gabe up, but was failing. He remained lost to the world.

"And just leave Senior Insane over there?" exclaimed Katie.

"You have to break the blade," said Adelaide. She looked over at Judson.

"What?" asked Judson.

"I didn't read the entire page," said Adelaide as she shook her head. "The rest of it said; 'For strength to be gone and death to come, break the blade that binds them all.' You have to break the blade."

"Alright," said Judson. He looked up and saw David running toward them.

"We can't fight him," panted David. "He's too strong."

"We're not going to fight him," said Judson. "You and Mac are going to get Gabe to a hospital and get Katie and Adelaide stitches." His tone left no room for argument, but that didn't stop Katie.

"What are you going to do, Uncle Judson?" asked Katie nervously not really wanting to hear the answer.

"I'm going to stay here and get Hardy to break the blade," said Judson. "Now get out of here."

The group nodded in understanding and Mac went over to Christophe who was lying dazed on the floor. She grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him to his feet. "Where are your keys?" she demanded. For a second, He didn't look like he was going to answer, but the plain fact he was outnumbered and unarmed forced him to change his mind. His reached into his pocket and pulled out the key-ring.

David put one of Gabe's arms over their shoulders and Mac made Christophe do the same. Adelaide grabbed Katie's arm and nearly had to drag her out of the castle. Katie wasn't willing to leave her uncle.

Once they were outside, Katie stopped dead in her tracks.

"I'm not leaving until my uncle is out of there," said Katie. Her voice reflected the determination on her face.

Mac sighed and walked over to Christophe. The man was already afraid of her and she was going to use that to her advantage. She got just a few inches from his face and said menacingly, "You had better get him to a hospital, or I swear you will regret it." The man swallowed hard and nodded. "You guys go ahead, I'll stay here with her." Adelaide, David, Christophe, and the still unconscious Gabe continued to the car.

Mac looked at Katie; she just stood there in the cold night. If Katie was cold, she didn't show it. She held her cut arm against her body tightly using only her hand to stop the bleeding.

"You're going to stand out here in the cold until your uncle gets out?" asked Mac.

"Yep," replied Katie simply as she continued to stare at the castle. "I already lost my dad, I'm not going to lose my uncle too."

Mac walked up beside the girl and stared at the castle with her.

!&!&!&

"You are a stupid man," said Hardy staring across at Judson. "You should have left with your friends."

Judson didn't say anything, he only continued to stare at Hardy.

"I'm surprised I didn't kill him when I stabbed him," said Hardy. That still didn't get a response from Judson. "Your death will be slow and painful because you caused me too much trouble." He lunged at Judson with the sword, but Judson just side-stepped him.

"You may have the strength," said Judson, "but you have no technique." Hardy glared at Judson and swung the sword again.

This time, Judson got caught by the broad side of the sword. He fell to the ground and felt the blood trickle behind his ear.

"Your niece is very sarcastic," said Hardy. Judson was having trouble telling where the voice was coming from. "I hope I taught her a lesson." Judson looked up and saw Hardy about to bring the sword down on his head.

He rolled to the side and heard the sword hit the floor. "Don't you ever hurt my niece again!" shouted Judson angrily as he struggled to his feet. Hardy merely sneered and then knocked Judson to the floor again. Judson saw the gun lying on the floor near the wall. He started to crawl towards it hearing Hardy behind him all the way.

Judson grabbed the gun and rolled onto his back. He aimed the gun and thought, "I only have one shot." Judson pulled the trigger and the sound of the shot filled the air.

Hardy opened his eyes and the smiled. "Missed," he said raising the sword again. "Besides, it doesn't matter. I can't die. You lose."

"I wasn't aiming for you," said Judson with a smirk. Hardy looked at the sword and saw that the blade had cracked.

Before Judson's eyes, Hardy's body started to turn to dust. The sword fell to the ground and Judson breathed a sigh of relief.

He got up off the floor and picked up the sword handle. "No, Hardy," said Judson quietly, "you lose."

Judson walked out of the castle into the cool night air and saw Mac and Katie waiting for him. His niece was sitting on the ground with Mac's jacket draped over her shoulders.

"Uncle Judson!" shouted Katie. She jumped up off the ground and gave him a hug.

"Katie?" said a confused Judson. "What are you doing here? You need to be at the hospital."

"She wouldn't go until you came out," said Mac. "I had to wait."

Judson looked at his niece and saw that her arm was bleeding badly. "We need to get you to a hospital."

"But I'm fine," argued Katie. She started to walk, but her legs gave out from underneath her. Judson ran over and caught her.

"How long have you been waiting out here?" asked Judson nervously.

"Awhile," replied Mac. In the dark, she hadn't noticed how pale Katie had gotten.

Judson scooped his nice up into his arms and started to carry her toward David's car. He prayed Hardy had left the key in it.

"I can walk," said Katie weakly. Judson didn't listen to her though. He just continued to carry her back to the car. He hoped she would be okay.

!&!&!&

"Was I really so blind that I could not see what was going on under my own nose?" said David sadly. He couldn't believe he had been fooled. The police had arrested Christophe once they had gotten back to town, but it didn't relieve the guilt or embarrassment.

"It is not you fault, dad," said Adelaide trying to boost her father's spirit. "I did not see it either."

"He did not work for you," said David.

Adelaide sighed brought down by her father's own depressing words. "They should have been back by now," said Adelaide. She was pacing back and forth across the hospital waiting room.

"Calm down,"said David. He was getting dizzy watching his daughter pace. An hour ago, she had gotten stitches and they had taken Gabe into the emergency room.

"How can I calm down?" asked Adelaide. "They could be dead!" She started to pace faster.

David got up from his chair and walked over to his daughter. "You need to calm down," said David as he place his hand on her shoulders. "You can't dwell on things you have no control over. You need to try and remain calm."

"Okay," said Adelaide taking a deep breath, but David knew it had done absolutely no good.

!&!&!&

Judson carried Katie into the hospital. He couldn't tell if she had fallen asleep or passed out.

"Is she okay?" asked David getting up as Judson and Mac entered.

"No!" Judson shouted at the man. At this point he was easily agitated. "She need s a doctor!"

Judson ran up to the nurses station and started to demand a doctor.

"Calm down, sir," the nurse said in broken English. She paged a doctor and continued to try and calm Judson. Mac was watching as the man who had been relatively calm when faced with death completely lost it when he couldn't help his niece.

A doctor and two orderlies came out with a gurney. Judson set Katie down and watched as the doctor wheeled her away.

"How's Gabe?" asked Mac sitting down next to David. Judson took a seat, too.

"Don't know," said David. "The doctors took him to the emergency room when we got here. We haven't heard from them yet."

Judson handed the sword handle to David. "This is all that's left of the sword and Hardy."

David took the handle and stared at it. "This is all that the world needs of both." He set the sword handle in his bag. "I cannot thank you and your crew enough. You saved both a part of family history and my family. I would be honored if stay to come to the exhibit."

"Thank you," said Judson.

!&!&!&

Katie walked out into the waiting room with a doctor behind her. She looked tired. "Hey," she said drowsily.

"Is she okay?" asked Judson getting up from the chair.

"Yeah," said the doctor struggling with his English. "She be fine. She needed stitches and had small blood loss."

"What about our friend, Gabe?" asked Mac as she got to her feet.

The doctor shook his head. "I do not know about your friend," said the doctor. He apologized and then left the waiting room.

"I'm not too great with French," said Katie, "but I think they said something about a twenty-two-year-old in surgery, but don't rely on it."

"David," said Judson, "would you go up there and see if you can get any information on Gabe?"

David nodded and went over to the nurses station. He came back a minute later and relayed the information. "Gabe was taken into surgery about an hour ago. She'll tell us when she gets more information."

The group settled in for a long wait.

!&!&!&

Two hours later the nurse came over to David and started to talk.

"She says that Gabe came out of surgery okay," said David, "and once the doctor gives the okay we can go see him."

"Ask her when he can leave," said Judson.

David turned to the nurse and asked Judson's question. "She says that if nothing goes wrong he can leave in a few days.

David thanked the nurse and she went back to the nurse's station.

"Thank god he's okay," said Mac as she breathed a sigh of relief. She finally sat back in the chair and relaxed.

They waited until the doctor said it was okay and then they went down to Gabe's room.

"We are gonna go," said David. "I will see you at the exhibition." He and Adelaide left the hospital.

Judson, Katie, and Mac entered Gabe's hospital room and saw him lying back half asleep.

"Hey," he said hoarsely as they walked into the room.

"How are you feeling?" asked Judson.

"My back is really sore," replied Gabe, "and the thought of eating or drinking anything makes me sick to my stomach. Other than that, I'm great. What happened back there?"

"I'll give you the condensed version," said Judson. "Hardy is dead and they only thing left of the sword is the handle."

"I think that's more than enough of that sword," said Mac.

"When can I get out of here?" asked Gabe.

"If there are no problems, you can leave in a few days," relied Judson. The group talked awhile longer and then Judson, Katie, and Mac went back to the 'Vast Explorer.'

!&!&!&

"What do you think?" David asked Judson two weeks later at the exhibition.

"You seem very fond of history," said Judson looking around at the exhibit.

"I try my best," said David. "I still can not thank you enough for what you did."

"No problem," said Mac.

"Do you guys want something to drink?" asked David.

Mac and Judson both answered yes, but when Gabe saw the dark red fruit punch, he quickly declined. "I'm not that thirsty."

"There is a pop machine in the employees's lounge if you are thirsty," said David understanding his hesitance.

Gabe thanked him and walked off toward the employees's lounge.

"Have you seen Katie?" asked Judson after noticing she had disappeared.

"I was going to asked you if you had seen Adelaide," replied David.

"They went off to listen to music," said Mac. "I saw two guys with them." Both Judson and David reacted to the mention of the boys.

Gabe returned carrying a can of pop. "I have a question for you," Judson said to him.

"What?" asked Gabe before he took a drink.

"I know your father is Senator Patterson," said Judson, "and I know from your resume that you went to one of the best colleges in the country, but I want to know, why didn't become a lawyer or something. Why work for me?"

"Because I don't want the same things as my father," answered Gabe. "And this is better than anything he could have picked."

"While we're all here asking about family lives," Mac said to Judson, "I have a question for you."

"Shoot," said Judson.

"Katie said her father had died and that she wasn't gonna lose you," said Mac, "what was she talking about?"

"Katie's father and my brother, Jack, died about ten years ago," replied Judson. "I've spent a lot of time with Katie and her mother after it happened."

Gabe and Mac nodded. They understood his lack of calm early and his reaction to her split lip. He cared for Katie as a father.

"I want to thank you both," said Judson. "I definitely couldn't have done this without."

"No problem," said Gabe with a shrug.

"Yeah," said Mac, "as long as we get paid." She and Gabe started to laugh and Judson shook his head.

The End

!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!&!

Please, review and if you reviewed the first version of this please review again and tell me if you thought it was better or worse. Oh, and if you have any ideas for my sequel please email me. Thanx. Bye.