Jed, Mr. Worth, and Scars.
Jed stepped off the train with little to no idea of what he was getting himself into. He didn’t really want to work for Sarah – or whatever massive corporation she was being employed by – but he couldn’t think of anything better to do with his life other than sit in Saddle’s Sasspire and drink away his sorrows.
Jeran, his dead wife, haunted him day and night. The alcohol washed her away somewhat, but nothing – not even the few drugs he had dabbled in – wiped her away completely. She always sat aside him, her bright green eyes dazzling in any light, her hair brown and healthy, her chest always swelled with pride at calling Jed her husband. If there were a single trait Jed could say he loved about Jeran, it was that she was extremely supportive of his line of work. Even though she didn’t know each intricate detail of his assignments, she had a general idea of what he did – killed for money. And that money paid their bills month after month so Jeran could stay home and prepare for their coming child.
Jed sensed Sarah coming up beside him off the train. As attractive as Sarah was, nobody could compare to the beauty that Jeran held in those sparkling green eyes.
Sarah grabbed his arm and began to pull him toward the tall set of stone stairs that led to the tower that rose up before him. The massive cylinder spiraled up into the darkness, the surface of the tower smooth, dark purple, and lit up at each level in blue light, adding a wonderful color effect Jed hadn’t seen since Legion had brought darkness to the entire planet.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Sarah asked, pulling him up the steps. Large automatic gun turrets stood posted around the stairs at different intervals, held up on stone pillars. “The lights change color every other day. Tomorrow, they will turn green. Five hundred billion dollars is what this building has cost us so far.”
Jed could see the main entrance at the top of the stairs. The bottom level of the tower had been made completely of glass – at least on the outside. The front door of the tower stood wide open, two figures covered in black armor guarding each side.
“Where did all of that money come from?” Jed asked, pulling his arm out of Sarah’s embrace. The further he kept himself from her, the easier his job would become. He held no romantic interest in her – nor would he – so there was no point in wooing her or pretending to be her friend.
“Donations.” If Sarah felt hurt by his rejection of her, she didn’t show it. Instead, she kept her pace going up the steps and calmly walked Jed into the front lobby of the tower. A line of small turret guns spread through the room, covering the entire front side of the tower. “These are the line of defense if anyone makes it into this building.”
Jed found himself impressed with the amount of weaponry Sarah had managed to gather around the building. He still didn’t know what the building housed, but he was certain it was something valuable. Maybe too valuable.
“Come,” Sarah said, grabbing his arm again. She pulled him toward silver-plated elevator doors which opened as they approached. Once inside, Sarah pushed a bright red button with a sideways eight on it and the doors shut.
As the elevator ascended toward the top of the tower, Sarah leaned against the wall and slid her hands into the pockets of her black pencil skirt. “You’re a distant soul, Mr. Worth. I don’t expect you and I to be friends. I have enough friends and plenty more enemies. What I do expect is that you treat me as your employer, to which I am from this point on.”
“I never said I’d take the job,” Jed grumbled. “This is just a field trip, isn’t it?”
Sarah grinned. “You really think I’d bring you into my tower just to show you around? This building consists of state-of-the-art technology that you – nor anyone else on this forsaken planet – has ever seen before. You’re in this now, Jed. There’s no turning back.”
Jed glanced at Sarah’s wrists. He couldn’t see through her blazer sleeves, but he imagined the scars she had just finished showing him on the train. “And if I try? You going to do to me like you did to that little girl? That child?”
Sarah frowned. “I’m ready to let you in on my secrets, Jed. But only if you’re willing to be an ally. If you’re not for me, for this tower, than you are against me.”
Jed shuffled his hand to his belt while he slid his other hand into the inside pocket of his leather jacket. “I’ll gun you down if you threaten me like that again.”
Sarah shook her head. “You don’t frighten me. Mercenaries are a dime a dozen. The only reason I specifically picked you out of the fish barrel is because you have serious potential. You’re not quite like the other mercenaries I’ve done business with before. When you put your mind to something, there’s no stopping you. When you find a cause to fight for, you fight to the death. I need you to care about my cause.”
Jed took his hand out of his pocket and crossed his arms in front of his chest. “What is your cause?”
The elevator came to a stop. As the doors slid open, bright sunlight burst into the small compartment, nearly blinding Jed who hadn’t seen sunlight since before Legion attacked Earth. “The hell?”
Sarah took Jed’s arm and pulled him out of the elevator. When he opened his eyes and adjusted his vision, he saw a floor of clouds as far as the eye could see, the sun blazing in the brilliant sky in the distance. Crystal blue sky filled the horizon above the clouds, and the air smelled fresh and cold.
Sarah nodded, grinning at his awe. “We’re at the top of the tower. Above Legion’s darkness.”