#1 The Renegade Jumper

A/N: Hi, guys! Just thought I'd attempt something new. Let me know what you think! I don't own anything except Aaron and Bec Carlyle.

I never knew exactly what it was my father did. I knew he had a dangerous job, and he told me once when I asked that he was a Paladin, but his curt tone encouraged me not to delve any further into the matter.

We lived in a fancy apartment in Sydney, but I never questioned it. I just assumed that my father had a well-paying job. My mother had died when I was young – around five – and so he was the one who raised me. When he wasn't there, he would hire nannies. By the time I was twelve, I learned how to take care of myself.

Sometimes I would catch the bus down to the beach and have lunch at one of the cafes. I was totally independent even before I was a teenager.

I didn't have many friends. My unconventional, enigmatic lifestyle meant that I spent most of my time roaming the city. The few friends I did have weren't close ones, and of course I never invited any of my friends home.

By the time I turned fifteen, I got a job of my own – not that I needed it considering Dad's big income. Still, I liked the idea of being independent, and I started working at the café I always used to go down to. When I was seventeen, I'd saved up enough to buy a nice car.

There was one thing Dad warned me against, both as a child and a teenager. He called them Jumpers. He told me never to trust them. Of course I had no idea what he was talking about – I had no intention of giving away my most intimate secrets to my hoodie. By the time I was around twelve I figured out he was talking about people, and so I knew never to trust anyone.

Don't get me wrong, Dad was a nice guy. When he was home, he would take me out and spoil me. I guess he felt guilty for leaving me behind all the time, so when he was home he made it count. It was one fateful night soon after I turned eighteen that everything changed.

Dad had treated me like an adult as soon as I started getting old enough to look after myself. He listened to what I said and respected me, as opposed to all the teachers at school who treated me like I was a little kid to be patronised.

We went out to the tavern and had a few drinks, but at around eleven thirty, Dad's phone rang and he picked it up.

"Hello, Aaron Carlyle speaking."

His brow furrowed and I could tell that something was wrong. I shoved my glass aside and watched in interest. This had never happened before. Something dark came over Dad's face, and he nodded curtly and muttered something into the phone. After a few moments, he hung up. Then he got to his feet.

"Bec, I want here until I get back. I shouldn't take too long. It's just business."

I rolled my eyes, but I'd gotten used to the fact that my father didn't have a typical job. I folded my arms and his expression softened.

"I'm sorry. I promise I won't be long. Please…just stay right here."

I didn't realise then why he didn't want me to just drive home or something. I sighed heavily as Dad hurried out of the tavern. He definitely looked like a man on a mission. I felt a sudden sneaky urge come over me, the desire to see exactly what it was that Dad did. If I hadn't acted on my curiosity, things might have turned out differently.

I left the tavern and headed out onto the street. Everything was dead – after all, this was a quiet little part of Sydney where not much happened. There was a sound like glass shattering, and shouting up ahead. I frowned and walked towards the noise, my heart pattering with apprehension. It sounded like trouble.

When I got to the corner, I stopped dead and watched what was happening with fascination. There was a man – it was hard to tell how old from this distance – with brown hair that stuck up at all angles. Dad and two other men were attempting to hit him with objects that sparkled with electricity, but whenever they tried, he would…it's hard to put this in words. He kind of disappeared from one place and reappeared in another. Like teleporting.

Jumper.

I don't know where the word came from, but I could only watch with growing trepidation as the fight continued. The Jumper would appear and lash out at the armed men…these must be Paladins, like Dad. Then he appeared right in front of my father, and kicked him in the chest, sending him flying backwards.

I started forwards, running towards them.

"Dad!"

Although injured on the ground, he managed to look up at me as I sprinted closer.

"Rebecca, get away from here!"

I could see the Jumper more clearly now. He was good-looking I suppose, with dark blue eyes and a murderous expression on his face. He was young, perhaps only a few years older than me. The Jumper saw the interaction between Dad and I, and a sinister smile lit his face before he disappeared from view.

"Run!" I'd never heard Dad sounded more terrified – not for himself, but for me. Jumpers meant trouble, and I was to avoid them at all costs. I turned and ran in the direction from which I'd come, but by that time it was already too late.

The Jumper suddenly appeared in front of me, a wicked grin on his youthful face. I gasped in astonishment. I admit, I had to ask myself, why is it that the bad guy happens to be young and hot? It's just not fair.

There was a malevolent light in his eyes as he grabbed me, spinning me around and pressing me against his chest. The Jumper pressed something cold and metallic to my head – something I recognised, with a thrill of fear, to be a gun. He gripped my arm so tight I thought he might break it.

Dad and the other two Paladins were running towards the Jumper, but Dad's eyes widened when he realised the Jumper had taken me hostage, and he flung out an arm to stop the others.

"Don't!"

"Wise move, Carlyle." The Jumper's breath was hot on my neck as I struggled against him, and I thought I detected a British accent, "Otherwise I'll be forced to kill your lovely daughter…Rebecca, is it?"

"Bec," I snarled at him.

I couldn't have had any idea at the time that everything the Jumper did was premeditated. He hadn't just randomly grabbed me, hadn't just noticed I was there. I would later learn the truth about everything.

"Put down your weapons," the Jumper commanded, his tone completely cold.

Dad dropped his lightning staff without a second thought. The other Paladins exchanged glances, before reluctantly dropping their weapons as well. All three held up their hands in surrender. I could almost feel the Jumper smiling.

"Well done, gentlemen."

The Jumper laughed delightedly, and then everything just…disappeared. We reappeared in what appeared to be a cave with furniture. Wherever it was, it was dark and foreboding…and I was disorientated, because I had no idea where we were.

I turned around to glare at my kidnapper, who was looking very pleased with himself.

"What's the big idea, asshole?" I snapped at him, my rage overcoming my blind terror, "They dropped their weapons, so you abduct me to this stupid cave?"

His eyes narrowed. "It's a lair."

I restrained a snicker that could have proved dangerous.

"Yeah, whatever, I don't care. Just bring me back right now!"

His grip tightened on my arm, and I winced.

"Let me go, you prick!"

The Jumper's eyes flashed – bad move. He grabbed me by the shoulders and slammed me against a wall. He wasn't that tall – probably around 5"9 – but he was a fair bit bigger than my height of 5"5.

"Listen to me carefully," he hissed, "You obviously don't know what's going on, but you soon will. Your father is a very powerful Paladin…not that that would mean anything to you. You're the daughter of the second highest Paladin when it comes to authority, and with you as leverage…I'll have them on their knees."

My eyes narrowed and I glared at him.

"Who the hell do you think you are?"

He smirked at me, so self-confident and arrogant that I wanted to slap him.

"Griffin O'Connor."

He had to be twenty, twenty-one tops…but there was something dark about him, something that made me frightened. I had no doubt that he loathed Paladins with an intensity, and even though I knew nothing about this secret world that I had suddenly been exposed to, I guessed I was about to find out a lot more.

I pushed at him, attempting to shove him away, but his eyes sparkled and he grabbed my wrists and pinned them above my head with one hand in a display of superior strength. His other hand gripped me by the throat, and I grimaced and shifted, trying to breathe.

Griffin's smile was pure evil.

"You're going to behave, Bec. You're going to be a good girl."

So I was more valuable to him alive than dead. He needed me to get at the Paladins…this was very interesting. I managed a hoarse laugh despite Griffin's choking grasp.

"I don't where you get these wacky ideas from."

His smile vanished and his eyes blazed, but he relinquished his grip on my throat and stepped away from me. I coughed, sliding down the wall. So Griffin was a Jumper. I sat there wondering what kind of monster had kidnapped me.

Griffin turned and glanced contemptuously down at me.

"Welcome to the war. And like all wars, we take prisoners."