Chapter 1

Ezio woke with a start. He quickly sprung up, hidden blade at the ready. He slowly shuffled in a circle, taking in his surroundings. He was on an impossibly tall tower composed of metal and glass. Walking slowly to the edge, he peered down and immediately felt a sense of severe vertigo. Though he could very barely see the ground below, outlined with glowing orange streaks, he was far from a safe distance from the ground. He must be at least three or four kilometers up.

Suddenly, Ezio heard an odd, droning buzz, like a swarm of angry bees. Then, a giant metal bird exploded from beneath his line of sight. It was flying on multiple slabs of metal (iron?) that were shooting flames from their undersides. As Ezio stared, three independent spotlights fell on him, bathing him in stark white light. The exhaust from the authority craft's repulsors ruffled his robes and blew his hood off. Ezio, extremely frightened, was frozen in place.

The skeletal piloting droid, designation ZC-9R, saw the oddly dressed fugitive through its cyber-neural uplink to the authority craft's outboard cameras. It was the product of a new line of "smart" droids. Its developers, Pan-Galactic Droid Enterprises, had finally developed a cybernetic intelligence system which they actually acknowledged as being intelligent, despite the fact that droids had always been able to think logically, dating back to the astromech R2-D2, 2,000 years ago. Seeing as it had its target paralyzed, ZC-9R activated the comm system.

"Attention citizen…" the droid's voice was that of a typical human male, accent-less and deep. "you are under arrest by order of the New Republic Guard. Stand down and await further instruction." (For the droid's voice, imagine the robot officer's voice from the new Star Trek.)

` Ezio turned rigid at the sound of the voice, seemingly coming out of nowhere. It told him he was to be apprehended. Quickly throwing out much of his gear, like his dagger, sword, bullets, cape, extra armor, and poison blade, he ran toward the edge of the building and jumped. Holding his arms straight against his side, he fell through the air toward the ground below. He plummeted endlessly toward the orange-crossed ground below, the wind blowing his hood around his face and untying the ribbon that held his hair back.

He seemed to fall almost endlessly, until he hit another metal bird. Hard. He looked through the glass at the terrified occupants, a pair of strange and terrifying creatures. Smiling weakly, he stood unsteadily and jumped again, robes flapping in the breeze. But as he neared the ground, he feared he would not devise a solution in time, and that this may be the end. But just as he thought this, a large net made of metal, yet flexible like roped, captured and encased him. He struggled and squirmed, but he heard a horrible noise, that of metal scraping metal, and he rose, slowly at first, but with gathering speed. Ezio looked up and saw the flying bird hovering above him, a long rope connecting him with it.

As Ezio entered the bird, the doors to the outside close with a hollow echo, the following silence almost deafening. And as he was set on the floor, he looked over and saw none other than Leonardo da Vinci, who was little older than Ezio himself.

"Leonardo? I thought you were in Venice? I thought this was a nightmare." Ezio said, turning to his friend.

"Oh, Ezio my friend, this is not a nightmare. No, this is much, MUCH worse…"