Chapter 1

The Girl

So as I stood there in the middle of a busy street getting a good "talking to" all I could think of was that old man threatening me like he did. I mean, I could break his hip in a flash. So after a good half hour or so a finally met back up with the old guy, I had a better chance to get a good look at him and I couldn't help but think I've seen him somewhere? But Where? T.V.? Oh, well couldn't hurt to listen to him for a little while.

"So grandpa, who exactly are you?"

"Well, the boys down at my shop call me grandpa, or old man, just like you, he he, but for now you can call me Geppetto." Said the old man with an overly large grin beaming from his face, "Well come on let's go."

"Go? Go Where?" I said but that crazy old coot just kept on walking away while humming his little song that he just won't stop humming. So I followed him, not because he told me too but just because it would be rude to not follow. And plus I was a little curious.

So we made our way to the edge of town without saying much to each other he was usually just skipping away and looking at all the shops and junk, you know the kind of shops that old people always look at, full of stuff that I've never even heard of. Anyway, we made it to the edge of town and we climbed into a little bus that I hadn't ever really noticed before, and we drove through the calm farm lands for about fifteen twenty minutes and then all of a sudden the scenery went from luscious, peaceful, calm lands to a blisteringly hot, vulture infested wasteland, that I personally had never seen before. I mean yeah I've never really been out of the town but you'd think that id have at least heard about there being a desert out here before. But I just kept quiet sat there waiting. After about another twenty minutes we came to an enormous sand dune one that you wouldn't notice until you start to travel up it and you almost flip over you vehicle. As we began to traverse our way up the sand dune I saw a tall point protruding from behind the mound of sand it began to look like the top of a tower but I couldn't quite be sure. At the moment we came to the top of the sand the point that I had seen from a little bit back was now towering over us at least fifty stories high, it must have been one of the tallest buildings I had ever seen, or even heard of. We made our way to the base of the tower with it soaring over us higher and higher with every mile or so we got closer. We finally came to the base of the building and climbed out of the car and we began to walk into the building. Within the first few seconds of entering that building I knew exactly where I had seen this old dude. A huge crest hung over the lobby and at first I wasn't quite sure where I had seen that design before but then I remembered one day when I was passing a local television store I saw the president of some big multi million dollar company giving a speech about his new business and all the perks of it at reasonable prices. He introduced this old guy, the one I had been traveling with as his personal body guard and guard trainer. But how in the world could this guy be a bodyguard? He's got to buy at least a hundred and five years old. Well maybe I can learn something from him at least.

"So ya finally figured it out did ya? He He."

"Huh…? What? Figured what out? What are you talking about?"

I yeah, I figured it out, he was part of this organization, this faction, called , but why would they be training bodyguards? Everyone knows they've been after a new world order for years. I don't even own a TV. And I know that, Oh well, maybe they've had some offbeat change of heart. But we made our way across the lobby to a big glass elevator, which probably went all the way to the top floor, because there were two other elevators that were just playing old stainless steel. We mad our way over to the glass elevator and there were two big guards standing on either side of it. And when we finally got to the elevator on of the guards said…

"You know, old man," said on of the guards in front of elevator as Geppetto looked back at me and smiled and whispered, ("see I told ya.") "The boy can't go up there with you, right?"

"I've been workin' here for fifty-seven years, OF course I know that. Now, get outta my way." He looked back at me and said, "Don't you worry I'll be back in a jiffy, just gotta go see the man upstairs." And with that the elevator jolted upwards and all I could hear in that quiet waiting area was the sound of that old man hollerin' on his way up to the top floor, "Weeeeeeeeeeeee!"

"Weird guy."

"You're tellin' me! Oh I mean… uh… never mind." Mentioned one of the guards in front of the elevator. I walked over to a little section roped off sort of like a little waiting room . As I was sitting there I glanced over to the front entrance just in time to catch this girl walking in and the moment I saw her time seemed to stand still, as did she. There she was standing there, long red hair down a little past her shoulders, with a clipboard and folders in her arms. Everything seemed quiet, still, & peaceful and as soon as thought that a yell came from behind me and I turned around not knowing what it was, only to find out that it was the old man flying down to the lobby in the elevator, and when I realized this I jerked my head back around and she was gone.

"What you lookin' at youngin'?" said the old man from behind me

"Huh oh just this girl, she had red hair and she didn't look too much older than me and she was in a business suit so I'm guessin' she works here."

"I dunno I've been here for a while and I haven't seen anyone like that around here. Most the people they hire are at least thirty years or so."

"Oh, well, I dunno so! What's the plan geezer?"

"That's Mr. Geezer, to you! But come on I've got a place for you to stay, But your gonna work for it, but not by stealing helpless merchants wallets. And who knows maybe you'll even get a job here some day!"

"Uh… cool!" I stuttered out, not knowing what to say, "Lead the way!"

We began walking towards the front door and out of the corner of my eye I saw that girl again, "Hey Gepetto look, over there that's her!"

"Huh, Where? Her there?" When he finally picked her out of the crowd a shocked look came over his face, and he turned white like he saw a ghost, " Come on we need to leave. NOW!"

"Why? Hey I asked you a question? Tell me!" By the time I finished saying this we had made it outside the building and not a few moments later a massive explosion came from inside the building shattering the lower front part of the frame and in the same instant three large hooks shot down from the top of the tower, keeping it from collapsing to one side. Everything was happening so fast the explosion, the hooks, and the girl…"The girl! Who was she I said to Gepetto, "Who is she and how do you know her?" I spoke this and then out of mid-air, it seemed, people with axes, hammers, swords, and knives began coming out of the woodwork cutting down employee's left and right.

"The girl? The girl! The Boss he's in trouble! Stay here it's safer for you." Said gepetto as he began to hobble off towards the building.

"Hey wait a second; I'm not waiting here…! Geppetto, Look out!" At this time one of these guys wearing a trench coat popped up behind Geppetto with a .44 drawn and pointed at the back of his head, and as soon as I saw this, I reached down and drew a small knife which I had tied and concealed under my pant leg and threw it as hard as I could puncturing the side of the mans throat, but the gun still went off, but not killing Geppetto just clipping him in the leg and then I ran up to him, "You okay?"

"I got shot in the leg how do you think I feel?" he said as he looked at the man who had shot him seeing the knife embedded in his neck, "Did you do that?

"Yeah you owe me big time old man. He was gonna get you one from behind you, like a coward." I said while trying to help him up.

"You got a lot to learn boy, there's no such thing as a fair fight. Sometimes what's right isn't what's smart. That's a vital thing you'll learn someday. But listen you've gotta get to the top of the tower and make sure the boss gets out of there safely. Can you handle that? Here…" He said while reaching over to a dead body and taking a large sword form this soldiers sheath and placing the gilded handle in my hands, "Can you use one of these?"

"Um yeah," I stuttered out, "I used one once when I was younger it shouldn't be much different."

"Good, now run get your ass up there!" With that I ran to the front of the building dodging people left and right trying to not get involved with any of the surrounding battles, but by the time I reached the front doors there were rebels spotted all over the place and the only way to the stairs was through them. So I ran up to 'em swingin' I slashed upwards at the closest guy sending him flying backwards and catching the attention of the surrounding rebels, causing them to come after me. So I had to fight my way through them swinging back and forth cutting them down one by one until I finally made my way into the building where everything seemed way too peaceful. But not caring I ran over to the stairwell where I found two more guys who looked like they were set there to guard the stairs. So I snuck up behind them and I grabbed the closest one and tossed him over the stairway railing and watched him fall to the bottom and quickly pulled a dagger out of the other guards' belt and buried it into his kidney and letting him roll down the stairs. After I took care of them I sprinted up the stairs as quickly as I could to the top floor where I saw the girl with red hair standing there with a jagged whip let down to the ground and a man sitting in a chair, with his legs crossed, facing out towards the window so that his face couldn't be seen.

"So, you've got me. What is it that you want from me?"

"We know what you're up too, and we want you to turn yourself in. Either that or I'll throw you out that window you sadistic Fuck!"

"Now, Now there's no reason for that kind of language little girl. And I'm not gonna turn myself in, now if you'll excuse me I am a very busy man…!" Not a moment after he said this an enormous gust of wind came barreling in, shattering the windows and nearly knocking me and the red head off our feet, so I latched onto the nearest railing and putting my arm over my face so I didn't get glass in my face. I looked up though, just to se what was going on, and I looked up just in time to watch the red head fly past me down the stairs, but she was caught by one of her associates.

"Come on!" Shouted the man that grabbed her, "We need to leave, we're being overrun!"

"Ah! Ok, come on." Said the girl with the red hair as she turned around and ran away down the stairs.

As they retreated, the powerful wind squall had died down and I was able to move again. So I cautiously walked over to the desk that the man was sitting behind to make sure he was ok, as if I needed to ask, but I figured I would anyway.

"Can I help you?" said the boss man sitting in the chair behind the desk, "you're the new boy Gepetto mentioned aren't you?"

"Uh…yes sir, are you alright, we saw the girl with the red hair and then the explosion and then he got shot in the leg, and now I'm here."

"Yes I'm fine. It's been decades since someone actually posed as a threat towards me. Actually I think it was that old fool Gepetto that last stood up to me, one hell of a fighter that guy. That was back before I achieved this position of… "Greatness." And the rest is history, he became my guard and now he trains my soldiers… I mean bodyguards for hire."

"Well, you're ok so I'd better get down stairs and check on Gepetto, make sure he's alright." (Soldiers? What did he mean by soldiers? And why would Gepetto be involved? Well I'll ask him later.)

"You keep up the good work," he said as I turned away to leave. I heard the chair he was sitting in squeak as if it were turning around, "You'll go far, here, take this." He said as he threw a wad of cash on the table in front of him. By the time I turned to face him, he had already spun back around so I couldn't see what his face looked like.

"Um… wow! Thanks, I'll spend it well," yeah right, I said to myself I was gonna go spend it all, "So, uh, thanks." I blurted out and then turned away and walked out of the room. Right as I was leaving he said something. I wasn't to sure what he said but it sounded like, "It'll get you started, and there's more where that came from." More! There's gotta be at least a thousand bucks here! That's beyond odd. This much money in the guard business? No way.

I got down to the ground floor and the only rebels I saw were on the ground, dead, and I saw Gepetto sitting on a bench wrapping his leg with a rag he tore off of a fallen comrade. So I ran up to him to make sure he was ok, but he looked alright.

"Damn them this wasn't supposed to happen so soon," said gepetto to himself, before he had seen me coming, "Oh hey how did everything go is the boss okay?"

"Um… yeah he's alright. I don't think he needed my help though. I don't think anybody could of gotten to him, he kept me and that red haired girl away from him without ever even leaving his chair. Hey, how'd you know something bad was gonna happen when you saw that red haired girl?"

"Oh well, she and the boss have a slight history together. They were once more than friends until one day they were walking through the black woods and the boss; who was still a young, over confident man with power, fell into an unmarked hole in the ground. It seemed like it took forever to reach the bottom. So after about a half hour they finally got him out but something about him had changed. They said he seemed scared, like he had seen a ghost. There was also a mysterious burn on his hand which he had never mentioned. After about a week he was doing better but he was still different somehow. Basically it eventually ended in her finding out that he was involved in this interesting career choice and he tried to throw her out the window. He tried is the bottom line he tried and she succeeded. She spun him around and tossed him over their balcony and left for good. She's been trying to kill him ever since."

"uh… wow, that's one hell of a story. Wait, he survived falling off a balcony? How?" I said with a growing curiosity.

"Well that's just it. No one knows how he survived it was a four story drop. All I know is that had this happened before he fell down that hole he wouldn't of lived. I didn't meet him until after that happened though, but I knew he was normal before then."

"Wait, do you think that, hole incident has something to do with that strange wind that blew out the windows?"

"No that's just simple magic. You can study that here If you like. Professor Otis is the one who can help you in that department."

"Well, yeah! I'd love to! What else can I learn here? I asked him as we began walking back towards his home. He offered me a place to stay at least until I can buy my own. We talked for hours it seemed and he told me all about how he ended up here. Also about what exactly they do for a living.

So I stayed with him for a while, about a year or so. He taught me how to fight and how to use a sword better than I ever could of imagined. After that year though something was strange about him. He began to get very secret and started going to be earlier and earlier. I knew he didn't actually go to bed though. I could hear him walking through the house trying to be quiet, but he always managed to knock something over though. After about a month of this I began to get suspicious, so I followed him. I followed him. He ended up at a small pond not to far from the compound. What was odd though was that it was a pond out in the middle of the desert, sort of like an oasis, but it wasn't a mirage. I managed to find myself a hiding place on the outskirts of the little pond, up on some high rocks. When I looked down all I saw was Gepetto pacing back and forth alongside the water looking like he was waiting for somebody. Then all of a sudden there was a rustle in the bushes. Gepetto and I looked up to see what it was. Then out of the bushes came that girl. The one with the red hair, but she didn't look hostile at all towards Gepetto. As a matter of fact she looked friendly towards him. I watched them talk for nearly a half hour before I decided to get out of there, but as I was leaving I heard her say something that caught my attention.

"So what about that boy, the one you said you picked up in the city? Does he know you come out here and consort with us "Rebels?"

"Him? Oh well, no he doesn't. I don't think he's cut out for this. He's showing too much allegiance to the boss. I don't think he's the insubordinate type. At least not yet, not until he's seen the truth about our company."

"Then make sure you watch him, and remember you've got one week!" she said and then began to walk away, and Gepetto turned and started to walk towards home.

One week? What does he have one week for? And what does it have to do with me? I'll figure it out later, all I know is that right now I need to get back to the complex before gepetto does. So I ran to the house as fast as i possibly could and climbed into bed just wondering what events would take place in the near future. As I was lying there in the bed I heard my door creak open jsut a little bit and i saw a small ray of light shoot in against the other wall, and I heard Gepetto sigh and say...

"I hope your ready for this kid, you got a lot of potential. I can see it, I just hope your ready." He said, and then walked off quietly shutting the door.

I'll be ready for it. He took me in and now this was my chance to repay him. I'm ready.