Chapter one


His eyes snapped open. Gasping for air, he launched forward, aimlessly flinging his arms before him. He drew a long ragged breath. Again. And Again. Though his eyes were opened as wide as they would go, he could make nothing out. The world was a blur of color and slurred noises. He had no sense of where or who he was.

Hands pushed him back onto the cool metallic table. He groped for the arms, desperate, but they jerked away from him. His heart raced, and he tried to sit up again, his vision and mind clearing every second. He sucked in air. He could understand the noises now.

The laboratory filled with sound of sirens going off, voices of panic and anger. A masked woman stood over him, staring off at something or someone else.

"What the fuck is going on?" someone, a man, demanded.

"Someone ratted us out. The authorities are breaking though now." A panicked voice replied much younger, an adolescent boy.

"Damn it!" the man cursed.

"Shut up, we stick to the plan." The woman standing over him said. "We'll send him to Melkine, he can get him there." She turned her attention back to the small bald boy breathing heavily bellow her.

He struggled to make his voice work. "Wam… hagh… Whagh…" He managed between pants. His tongue was thick and heavy in his mouth. He didn't know who these people were or what they wanted with him.

"Hush, Leo," she said softly. "The procedure was successful."

"What?" he finally spat out struggling to sit up again. What procedure? What's going on? The white-coated woman laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"I'll explain more latter, Leo." She told him.

Leo, my name. He grasped and held on to the idea. The sounds of gunfire could now be heard through the air-locked room. Leo sat up; this time the woman did not push him back down. His eyes fell on his arms. Black symbols and twining lines climbed over them and spread across his entire body. Patches with tubes and wires sticking out of them hooked him to multiple machines. He wore nothing but a pair of white cotton pants. He stared, just as astonished and confused about the symbols as he was about everything else.

"Divert them in anyway you can." The woman commanded, her icy gray eyes piercing the minds of those she spoke to. The man in a white coat and mask nodded and rushed to the door. He pressed his hand to a scanner and the door whooshed open. He hurried out, beckoning the adolescent to follow him. Now Leo and the woman were alone.

She quickly unhooked Leo, speaking softly and reassuringly to him, yet he grasped no comfort from her words. He could not stop his arms from shaking, half due to fear and half due to the after effects of whatever was done to him. The woman picked Leo up and headed for another door. Her steps were hurried, her face sober and purposeful. He could not stop himself from trembling

"What's going on?" Leo asked, holding the woman's neck with quivering arms.

"People have come to kill us for our loyalty and dedication to the mage Narrsizar." She spoke quietly as she shifted his weight so she could press her hand to the scanner to open the electronic door. It whooshed upward and they stepped through. The other door blasted apart and two men in blue and black armored suits entered. The woman rushed to close the door, slamming her hand on a button. But, before the door whooshed closed the men fired lazarrays at the woman, striking her in the shoulder, missing Leo's head by inches. She grunted as the door shut and raced down the white hallway and swerved into another and another. The intensity of the light reflecting off the walls made Leo's sensitive eyes sting. He clung tightly to the woman and closed his eyes until they could adjust to the harsh light.

He opened his eyes again. They had come to another air locked door. The woman opened it with a shaky pale hand. Leo hugged her, fearful. He could hear the men in black and blue suits getting closer, still madly firing their rayguns.

They entered into a metallic staircase spiraling downwards. As if in total contrast to the harsh white hallways, the staircase was dark with cemented walls and grilled dim lights. The woman's footsteps echoed loudly against the steps with a metallic cling, bound to alert the men just beyond the door, yet she pressed on, not bothering to soften her heavy footfall.

Anxiously, Leo gazed upward at the door they had entered through as they descended the winding stairs. The woman did not speak; all her effort seemed to be focused on the task of putting one foot in front of the other. She stumbled, and just as she did so the door above blast open and in came the men.

The men first looked upward, deceived by the echoes, gaining the woman and Leo a little more time, but only little more than a millisecond. The men spotted them and fired.

One. Two. Three. Miss. Miss. Miss, and on it went. Luck was on the woman's and Leo's side. Never did the woman gaze upward as men raced down the staircase, shooting non stop at the woman, yet hit nothing but wires, poles, steps. The wall was marked with scorch marks left by the rayguns.

At last they reached the bottom, the woman struggled to press her hand to the scanner, the men continued to fire. The woman had just pressed palm to screen when her luck ran out. A Lazarray stuck the woman directly in the back, she screamed, yet pressed on and stumbled through the door. It whooshed closed just as the woman's knees gave way.

Leo dropped out of her arms, his limns struggled to support his weight, but they were too weak. She collapsed to the side struggling to breathe. Blood drenched her coat from the wound to her shoulder and even more from the small hole in her back. Her face was growing deathly pale, yet her gray eyes locked on Leo.

"Melkine." She gasped. "Get to Melkine." And she lifted a hand and pointed to a wall lined with air locked doors. Yellow and black tape darted vertically down the middle. "Escape pods. Set coordinates for 0057GP.77." her voice was hardly a whisper now. "Go!" she gasped.

Small beeping noises sounded from the other side of the door. Leo struggled on weak limns, crawling for the escape pod.

A man in a white coat darted from out of nowhere, face full of panic he raced for one of the pods. He did not seem to see Leo. His eyes were fixed on those black and yellow-striped lines.

"Hea, hel, Help!" Leo struggled with the word. It was hard to talk and move at the same time. The man did not hear him. He darted passed Leo. He pressed button and the doors spit down the middle and whooshed to either side.

"Help!" Leo cried again, easier this time. The man ran inside and the doors closed behind him. Alone again, tear's leaked out of Leo's eyes. He was little more than twenty feet from the woman. The door exploded and the men in black and blue suits entered the garage-like room. One shot the woman in the head to confirm that she was dead. Blood spatter the woman's light blond hair. The rest of the men stopped and stared at Leo in horror.

One of the men recovered himself and pointed his raygun at Leo.

"Wait!" another said and knocked the gun just as the man fired, the lazarray skimmed Leo's balled head, inches away from sensitive flesh. "He's just a child." The man who had knocked the gun spat out.

"Are you blind? Do you not see what that is?" the man who had fired shouted, pointing at Leo's forehead.

Leo lifted a hand and touched where the man had pointed. He felt nothing but smooth skin. He glanced to the pods, still yards away. There was no way he could reach them in time, if they did not shoot him they could simple walk over and pick him up. His limbs were too weak to support him.

"Let's take him to Eddine, he'll decide." A third voice broke in, clearly the one in charge. The man who had saved Leo's life started forward.

At the mention of Eddine, a strange anger rose in Leo. It was in total contrast to his hopeless fear. It was a rage of the deepest hatred and loathing. Leo's limbs shook, not out of weakness or fear now, but rage. The man now was little more than two feet away. He put out a friendly hand to Leo.

All at once the symbols spattered across his entire body went hot and turned white. They grew bright and fed power into Leo. He rose to his feet, strangely not of his own accord. The power grew stronger. Energy pumped through his veins. His eyes rolled to the back of his head as everything erupted into a sheer of white light.

He found himself in the interior of an escape pod without recollection of how he had gotten there or what had happened to the men. He jumped at the sound of someone banging on the outside door.

"Let us in kid, we're not going to hurt you." It was the voice of the man who had saved his life.

Leo took a step towards the door, but stopped, remembering the woman's instructions. He turned to the controls and stared at them. In the back of his mind somehow he knew how to set the coordinates. His hands moved as he struggled to recall what just happened and how he managed to get inside the escape pod.

"Look, I don't want to blast these doors down, some of the shards might kill you." The man continued on, attempting to persuade Leo, but the boy was too preoccupied with his task. He blotted out the muffled voice of his savior.

A soft robotic female voice repeated the coordinates to Leo and asked for confirmation. Leo gave it and buckled himself up. With a small pop the pod launched into the open skies. The screen covering the windows receded back to give Leo a clear view of what lay outside. As the pod lifted higher into the air Leo observed the dessert and red rocky terrain. Outside, dozens of blue and black aircrafts swerved about, shooting down any pods that attempted to escape.

Leo's heart began to race again. His hands clutched the armrests of his seat. Sweat droplets formed on his small, bald head. All he could do was sit and watch helplessly, waiting for the aircrafts to take him down and… He didn't know what they'd do to him. They had killed everyone else they came in contact with, but not him. Why, because he was a child? Or did they have something else in mind for him. He bit his bottom lip with the uncertainty of it all.

Inevitable, the pod was hardly into the air before the crafts began to open fire. Tears leaked out of his eyes. This was it. Barely twenty minutes into this strange world and he was going to be taken out of it.

Just as soon as the fire started, it stopped.

Relived, yet vexed, Leo leaned and looked about for the reason. He didn't have to look long. Every single escape pod launched forward and obscured Leo's pod, they all branched out in different directions. The twelve crafts split apart leaving Leo's pod to shoot down another.

Leo slumped back in his seat, taking calming breaths. Yet he kept his eyes wide open and fixed on the crafts moving about from pod to pod, once one down, they shifted to another. Leo's pods speed picked up. Quickly the scene disappeared behind him. He was safe.

At long last, Leo closed his eyes and saw the face the gray-eyed woman, pale and desperate. He opened them again, forcing himself to calm down. He went over all the information he had learned so far. Leo, that was his name. That was who he was.

"My name is Leo," he spoke out loud to confirm it. He was on his way to see a man by the name of Melkine. People in blue and black kill everyone they see. He's not sure what they do to children. As far as he could see he was the only one dawned with strange symbols and lines. Something bad was on his forehead, well to the blue and black suits anyway, so maybe it was good. "Narrsizar." His whispered. That name was important too.

Overwhelmed, Leo began to cry. First softly, but the more he thought of his situation and how lost he was, the harder his sobs became. It was not long until he was curled up, balling in his seat. He cried himself into exhaustion and from there into sleep.

He awoke to the sound of gunfire and alarms. Groggily, he wiped his face. The pod lurched violently. He jerked forward as was caught by the belts. If not for his safety belts, Leo would have been thrown out of his seat.

Outside, an aircraft had finally caught up to him and was now opening fire. He whined as the pod spun out of control tumbling down towards the rocky earth. The sun had set. By the light of the moon the rocks shone a light blue.

As a safety precaution the screen re-emerged covering the Plexiglas windows to prevent the glass from shattering and killing the passenger inside. Leo hoped it was strong enough to hold.

The pod crashed into the dessert rock below, destroying geographical formations and pillars that took millions of years to create, though that was the last thing on the eight-year-old's mind. The pod rolled upwards until it reached a peak, then tumbled down the desert slope, hitting every nook on the way down. It continued to roll until it came in contact with the side of a bluff and there the dented pod remained.

Dizzy, Leo threw up all over the controls. His position was horizontal. He shook the dizziness away and undid his buckles. He did not know how close he was to his destination, but he could not remain here. He opened the emergency exit with a hard kick to the handle and crawled out.

He stumbled and fled from the pod as fast as he could. He dived behind a pillar just as the craft returned to launch a missal at the abandoned pod. Metal and glass flew everywhere. Leo curled behind the pillar, drawing his knees to his chin. Something in the back of his mind told him to keep moving. His instincts were all he had to go by. Leo scrambled to his feet and raced for the next means of cover and waited, the craft circled around, lights searching. Leo waited and once the light had moved on he raced to the next pillar or rock. Crouching and hiding, Leo slowly drew farther and farther away from the craft.

Before long, the craft gave in and turned around. Leo remained where he was, watching the craft grow smaller and smaller. Breathing quickly, he fought back tears. What now? What do I do now? he thought, biting his bottom lip.

He then felt the cold. Dressed in nothing but a dusty pair of white cotton pants, Leo shivered against the chill of the desert. He had to keep moving. He craned his head back to look at the star spattered sky. The moon was huge and round, casting the world in a blue and silver hue.

He took a breath and stared up a slope and stopped. He should keep low to the ground in case any crafts returned. He turned and kept to the ground, keeping between canyons of rock. In the distance he heard the sound of coyotes. Leo looked off in the direction fearful, but quickly padded on. He did his best to keep quiet.

In the canyon it was warmer, the cliffs blocked the wind, but it was still cool. Leo trotted on, without any idea as to where he was headed. For all he knew, he could be heading back to the laboratory, back to the men in blue and black suits.