Axel Bastion IV

His name was Gregory Cutlass. In contrast to his brother the man was quite skinny and tall. His black beard had grown to his waist and his voice was much more gruff, “You came in here to tell me that? My brother has really played you boy.”

“It would seem that way, Greg. Tell me, do you like your brother?” Axel and Greg sat across from each other in the prison courtyard. It had been three months since Axel had been sent to Sorrento Prison.

“Not particularly, no.”

“And it’s quite obvious the fat man doesn’t very much like you.”

“Is that so? What makes you believe that?” Gregory stroked his beard a bit and leaned back. His lips seemed to curve into a smile, only because the hair around his cheeks moved upward.

“The man has incredible power throughout the city. He’s the leader of the largest gang and he has his stake in the judicial system. When you were sent here, he could have stopped it. Even now, I believe he could get you out. If he had the slightest of pity on you, Greg, you wouldn’t be here. Which is why I wanted to speak with you.”

Gregory let out a large laugh that echoed throughout the courtyard, “You are quite the detective. There’s much to know about Stan Cutlass if your askin’, but there’s also much to gain from those who need the answers. What are you willin’ to bargain?”

“Your freedom,” Axel said with an evil grin forming on his face.

“And how do I know you can promise that?”

“I have a plan. If it doesn’t work I’ll be killed and you’ll know because you won’t be free.”

“That doesn’t ensure you’ll set me free. Do you have any sort of valuable item with you?

“In prison? They’ve taken it all.”

“Not that ring you’ve got. Apparently you’ve managed to keep that,” Gregory eyed Axel’s middle finger. Upon it was laced a gold ring. Axel’s other hand began fingering it.

“That is what you want?”

“It is indeed. There must be some story behind this ring, a good one indeed. One that would break your heart to part with it. Give me the ring for safe keeping and you’ll have your information,” Gregory reached out his hand and Axel hesitantly placed the ring in the grasp of Gregory’s lanky fingers.

“Do not lose that ring, Greg. It’s more important to me than you’ll ever be. When I get you out that will be the first thing I see of you: the ring being placed upon my finger. Anything else and I will not stand to see you alive,” Axel glared at Gregory with determined eyes.

“Alright, alright, I understand, it’s quite imperative that you have this ring. Well, Axel, I will ensure its safety. Now, for the information. What is it exactly that you want?”

“In the bedroom and office of Stan Cutlass there is a photograph of a woman, a boy, and a dog. Who are they and where can I find them?”

“You ask the right questions, boy. The woman is Mallory Cutlass, Stan’s ex-wife. From that I hope you can gather the boy is his son, Stanley, and the dog his kid’s. Mallory left Stan about two years ago and took the other two with her. He hasn’t seen them since. They left the city. All I know is that they probably went to the next town over. Maybe even one of the farming communities. She does have a sister, named Isabell, in Harlington. She lives on the North side in the largest apartment complex. She’s quite the beauty, I once took to her myself, but Stan was always so protective of his wife’s family. Said that I would never be good enough for a woman like that,” Gregory’s eyes drooped a bit as he finished speaking and he lowered his head.

“Thank you, Greg. You have done me a great service. It will be repaid, I promise you that. I suggest you go back to your cell early,” Axel stood from the table and walked away from Greg. Waiting for the bell signalling the inmates to return to their cells to ring, Axel stood against a wall and surveyed the courtyard. He would need to know every inch of the place for him to escape.

Moments before the bell rang Axel walked into the group of men that associated themselves with Zeus and said, “You had better bow before me. Soon I will be your God.”

“What makes you say that?” a rather stupid looking rotund man said.

“Ya, we work fer Cutlass, not some prison rat!” a skinnier man spoke this time. However, he made the mistake of reaching for Axel’s shoulder. As the man put his hand out Axel grasped it and flipped him onto his back and then dislocated his shoulder. The group of men that now surrounded Axel looked dumbfounded. Prison guards began to survey the scene, but mostly waited to see what would happen next.

“Why’d you do that? You’re a dumb man, rat!” With that, a sort of distraught call to arms, three men lunged at Axel, but proved nothing and were soon either dead or writhing in pain. Axel stared at each one of the men and expected them to all attack at once, but instead the prison bell rang and the guards started yelling at the prisoners to return to their cells, but no one moved.

Every pair of eyes was on Axel, aside from the guards now beginning to abuse the prisoners that resisted. The largest group of men moved in a herd like fashion toward the Zeus members and flanked their sides, sending most of them onto the ground. Suddenly men were being killed and a riot had broken out in the prison courtyard. Guards acted liberally with their weapons and opened fire into the huge crowd of people murdering each other with their fists, but it did not quell the outrage. Axel maneuvered himself free of the brutish entanglement and instead took down the nearest guard and stole his weapon.

Axel began his escape as he acquired weaponry and assaulted only the guards--which happened to be almost every guard in the prison. He made his way out of the courtyard and into the actual prison building and stealthily moved throughout it using his weapon sparingly. His route took him to a window looking over the courtyard. Half of the prisoners lay dead and most of the guards were as well, or had began to flee in terror.

The front door to the prison was guarded by a small man that Axel easily killed. He then proceeded to walk out the door of the prison making sure he waved at the cameras on his way out with a smug smile on his face. Axel made his way to the shore of the island and found a boat manned by three prison guards. He was able to easily dispatch them--the guards in this prison were not used to actually being in any combat setting. They had been trained for it, but never had they used their training. No one ever escaped Sorrento Prison and no one had ever really tried. Since guards were lax with prisoners and quick to loose their weapons, they were easily provoked and thus easy to fool. Axel slipped past all the guards with relative ease as he had spent his last eight years fighting and gnawing his way through the streets.

Anyway, once on the boat he killed two men and held the other hostage. Axel made the hostage drive the boat to the mainland and once there he killed him mercilessly. He had successfully escaped the inescapable prison. The orphaned boy proved himself worthy of leading the world to chaos. “Because,” as Axel would say, “with chaos comes beauty and with beauty comes order. Once you have order then the world is yours for the taking.” Axel didn’t return to Sorrento, not quite yet. He instead headed North, toward Harlington.

“Oh, Hogarth, you are quite the joy!” a woman wearing a small black dress sitting on a white couch exclaimed to the man sitting across from her. Her hair was a light brown and her eyes as well. Her face held a soft pulchritude that seeped its way into the vision of men, rather than striking them with it. It was subtle and voluptuous. Her body was rather plain, but still had quite pleasing feminine characteristics, or so Hogarth was thinking.

“You haven’t heard the best part! After we had thrown the man into the gutter he looked back at us and called us ‘criminals’! Can you believe the audacity of such a malnourished cretin? He can’t even find himself a decent job and resorts to stealing from hard working restaurant men, the fool,” Hogarth laughed and took a sip from his cup of wine. He was a tall man with longer brown hair that ran past his ears and a beard graced itself upon the man's chin.

“Tell me, Hogarth, I’ve heard many stories of where you are from, but never the name of the place. Where was that again?” the woman asked, raising an eyebrow and leaning forward, letting her already fairly exposed chest grace itself into Hogarth’s vision more fully. He never took his eyes off of the woman’s face.

“Isabell, it is not that important where I am from. What matters is that I am here, with you, but if you must know I will tell you. I from the Northern states. One I do not believe you’ve heard of,” Hogarth also leaned forward letting his face extend over the coffee table and pushing closer to Isabell’s presence.

“Try me, Hogarth. I am a woman wiser than I seem.”

“Well, it is called Vassil. A land of great wealth. It is actually where I am getting the food and cuisine for the restaurant I plan to open here in Harlington. Oh, and I thank you for offering to board me even when I am quite the stranger to you.”

“Oh, by all means. I could never turn down a friend of Mallory’s. I’m actually quite glad you stopped by. You see, I haven’t heard from her in a few days and I was wondering if you might check in on her for me. I am so very busy right now. I couldn’t possibly bear it.”

“Of course I’ll stop by, only I’ve forgotten where she’s gone off to. Ever since she left Stan it’s impossible to keep up. How was Stanley doing when you last heard from them? And the dog, what was his name?”

“I don’t remember the dogs name. That old thing died quite some time ago. But Stanley was doing fine. He does quite well in school, I hear. As for her home, she lives on the South side of Harlington. She’s in between 240th and 250th street in number 243. I believe it’s the only apartment there. ”

“Thank you for reminding me. As for the child, that is blessed news, Isabell, blessed indeed.”

“Please, Hogarth, call me Bell,” Isabell leaned forward slightly and slowly creeped her hand onto the coffee table until it was in contact with Hogarth’s. Hogarth pulled his away slowly and leaned back into his seat.

“I’m sorry, Hogarth. I mean to act more noble. I’ll leave you be now,” Isabell moved to stand, but before she could get up Hogarth spoke.

“No, no, Isabe . . . Bell, it is not your fault. You do not need to apologize. It’s only you are quite beautiful and I fear I might do something too forward to offend this hostess-guest relationship we have established. I mean we only just met a few days ago.”

Isabell still stood and turned toward the man and said, “Hogarth, you do not need to worry about offending me. I find you an attractive man, but I will not make you feel uncomfortable. Good night, Hogarth, I will see you in the morning.”

Isabell began walking off, but Hogarth quickly stood and grabbed her arm pulling her into his chest. He let himself kiss her softly and in return Isabell passionately embraced the offer. They led their romance to the bedroom and for the rest of the night slept soundly and proudly.

Hogarth awoke just before sunrise and saw the beautiful Isabell sleeping next him. She seemed to glow in the darkness, but Hogarth resisted the urge to pick up the events of the previous night. Instead, he quickly dressed himself and stood above Isabell on the other side of the bed. He caressed her cheek and kissed her on the forehead softly saying, “Bell, it is time that I left. I must pay your sister a visit.”

Isabell stirred and looked tiredly at Hogarth whispering, “You need to leave at such an early hour? Come back into bed and wait until it is a more reasonable time. She will not even be awake.”

“You see, that is why I need to leave. She cannot be awake when I see her. That is kind of the point.”

“You are acting strange Hogarth, but if you must leave can I know when you will return?” Isabell began to sit up in her bed, but Hogarth restrained her. She found herself pinned to the bed underneath Hogarth’s strong arm.

“I will not be returning, Bell. I must have Stan Cutlass reunited with his family before I kill them. I mean I am quite a civil man,” Hogarth covered Isabell’s mouth as she was about scream. She struggled, but the strength of the man holding her down was too great and after some time her struggles faded and life silently left her warm, beautiful body. It is a shame, really, but she was quite detestable in her attitude anyway. She cared too much for money, these women are too predictable most often, the man thought as he searched the apartment for Isabell’s car keys and when he found them the man sent off to search for Mallory Cutlass and her son.

Dawn was near and Mallory Cutlass sat at the edge of her son’s bed. She was a woman who seemed to be thirty years old with dark brunette hair and a round face. She wore a purple dress and her hair had been put up into a bun. She could not pretend to sleep any longer and had prepared for the day and sat at the edge of her child’s bed. She looked at him partly with disgust--seeing a part of his father in him--but soon replaced the feeling with love. The boy was all she really had in the world and every moment after she had left Stan Cutlass was one she had to fear for his life. He slept soundly and moved little. There was not much spirit in him. For he was a weak child, his emotions often overcame him and he would lash out in fits of rage. It was then his mother would hate him most. He was like his father in too many respects, but the mere fact that this boy was her child caused her to love him.

As she stared at her son, wondering at what his future held, the light in the hall went out and Mallory could hear a window open, then close. A small breeze went down the hallway and seemed to ruffle Mallory’s hair. However, the house had gone black. There was nothing left to see, not even the child in front of her. She stood from the bed, too afraid to call out, and reached out her hands. They touched something. Mallory could feel a hard cloth-like surface in front of her that hadn’t been there before. She kept feeling around until her hands touched a cold hard metal.

Jerking back her hands Mallory was about to scream, but her mouth was covered and she was lifted out of the room without making a sound. The one carrying her placed her on her own bed and removed the binding from her mouth. A small lantern was lit and Mallory could see a large, light brown, finger held up to a dark silver mask with the mouth of a smiling wolf across the place a human mouth should have been. She almost screamed again, but her mouth was covered just before her vocals left her throat.
Again the finger lifted to the point on the mask where the smiling mouth of a wolf was painted. The mask had no other markings--only two slits that revealed cold, brown eyes--and it seemed to carry fear within. The finger stayed at the mask, which nodded to Mallory. She nodded as well and the binding was again loosed.

“Who are you?” she whispered softly, her hands shaking in fear.

“As of now, I am your friend and that is all that matters,” the mask said in a deep and unnerving voice. It was slightly muffled, but all the more enticing to be terrorized by because of it. The voice told of a man that was confident in himself and the mask proved to hide the expression that would prove that presumption correct. It was impossible to realize the intentions of the voice, whether filled with animosity or grace. However, it never seemed angry and always insisted toward goodwill. Such was the voice Mallory heard, and one that defined the mask that stood before her.

“Listen,” the mask continued, “there will be, in a matter of minutes, a man that will come to your door and kidnap you. There is nothing you can do to stop it. It is going to happen no matter how you resist and you will die.” Mallory’s eyes widened and her mouth opened, but the mask’s hand covered it and a finger again raised to the wolf’s mouth. Mallory nodded and the hand lowered and Mallory said, “You expect me to just sit here and let myself be killed? What about my son?”

“I have come for the boy. He is quite special. He will be of great use to me. You, however, are of no importance. I am only here to take your son and keep him from dying. I could not care what happens to you,” the mask bound Mallory’s mouth once more and he began walking out of the room. He was a tall muscular man. His shirt was white and dirty. His pants much the same only gray. Everything he wore displayed signs of poverty, but his magnificence suggested a past that wasn’t so destitute. The man walked with such grace that Mallory--even in her deplorable condition--marvelled at how such a large man could be so nimble. He made no sound while moving across the floor and even the door he closed had only made the click of the knob.

Once the door closed Mallory removed her binding and ran to her sons room, but once she arrived he was already gone. There was no evidence of him ever sleeping there, for the bed had been made and no windows were open. Mallory shivered at the thought of the ghost that had just kidnapped her child and was about to scream when she was struck with a blow to the back of her head.

“What is the meaning of this?” the fat Stan Cutlass said as he was being rushed down the halls of his warehouse. He was on the move to his office and his right hand, Jin, led him there.

“Sir, there is someone here to see you. He is very urgent with his call and asks to see you immediately,” Jin said. The man was quite large in height, quite strong, and quite hard headed. He commanded authority as he spoke, even when speaking to his boss. The hair on his head was all shaved off and he instead wore a small blonde goatee.

“Jin!” Stan yelled, “Is it really so impor’ant that you drag me from my dinner?” Stan’s corpulent body had trouble keeping pace with Jin’s long strides.

“Yes, boss, it is quite important. You’ll want to see this,” they walked for a few more seconds and came to a door. Jin opened the door and dragged Stan inside, throwing him to the ground.

“Jin! What are you doin’?” the man’s face began to turn red with rage and he was about to start yelling, but when he saw the woman tied to a chair in front of him he couldn’t bare to speak.

“Haven’t seen pretty Mal in a long time, have you Stan?” Axel said. He was sitting in Stan’s chair and had his feet placed on the desk in front of him. Axel looked toward Stan and waved his hand. Jin lifted the man to his feet and forcefully sat him down in a chair across from his ex-wife.

“Oh, now, now, don’t be at a loss of words. This is a glorious reunion! Smile Stan, don’t be so glum,” Axel said lifting his feet from the desk and removing himself from his chair.

“Jin,” Stan began to speak, but Jin smacked the back of his head and silenced him.

“Jin doesn’t answer to you Stan. He doesn’t even answer to me. The only reason he is listening to me is because we are good friends, you see. I called in a favor and now he’s answering my call.”

Jin moved in front of Stan and crouched to look him in the eyes and said, “You stupid, fat, old man. This city falls apart under the supposed ‘rule’ of Zeus. Citizens are being killed, you idiot. We leave them out of these gang fights. We aren’t here to kill the innocent. The only reason I joined this gang was because my family needed me. Now they are gone because you decided to pick a fight with the wrong man. Axel has a plan. I’ve heard it and it is the plan that will put this gang, and city, back to where it belongs. There will be order once more in the city of Sorrento and you are not to be part of it.”

Once Jin finished speaking, he punched Stan in the stomach and made his way to Mallory. Jin grabbed her hair and pulled her head back, exposing her neck. She tried to scream, but her mouth had been gagged: only the tears streaming down her face spoke of her fear. Jin pressed a knife to her cheek and the cold metal stung Mallory’s face. She panicked more as Jin let a little blood flow from her lovely face and down her neck.

“Jin,” Axel began speaking moving behind Stan, “let’s not ruin her pretty face too much. I would like Stan to remember her how she was, not how she is right now. It really is a shame you had to bring this woman into my business Stan. Keeping all those pictures of her around yourself. Did you think you had no enemies? You really are a fat, stupid man. I could tell the moment I saw you engorging yourself on massive plates of food while all your men starve.”

“Bu . . .” Stan began, but was stopped when Axel punched him in the jaw.

“Don’t open your dirty pig mouth again, or I’ll make sure it stays shut. Now, if you want to live take a seat in your desk. Good, now grab that pen and start writing on that piece of paper. Tell your men that you’ve handed over the authority of this gang to the man who escaped Sorrento Prison. Tell them you have failed them as a leader and will now leave them to lead much better lives with Axel Bastion. Tell these men that I am their new leader and that you give them your word to never again bother their lives,” as Axel spoke Stan followed every order and wrote as Axel had commanded. When he had finished Stan signed the paper.

“You are quite the dog Stan,” Axel said, “Jin, will you show this dog how we deal with men who so easily give up an empire?” Jin untied Mallory from her chair and tore off her clothing. Stan tried to yell, but Axel struck him in the jaw again and tied the man to his chair. Axel held his eyes and head toward Jin and Mallory, forcing Stan to watch Jin rape the woman he was still in love with.

Once Jin had finished he took out his knife and went to slit Mallory’s throat, but Axel stopped him, “No, Jin. This is to be my new office. I don’t want to stain the floor with the whore’s blood. Here is what we will do: Stan will stop whimpering like a dog and be a man for once and then kill Mallory. Once you have, I might let you leave here without a shred of dignity. Refuse and you can guarantee your death with be slow and terrifying. You won’t know when death will come. You won’t know where you are or where to go. The only thing you will know is that you want death more than anything. You’ll try to kill yourself, but your body will be so weak you won’t be able to even come close to succeeding. You’ve already insulted me by sending me on a false mission to see your brother. I escaped the inescapable prison and now I’m back to take what is mine.

“You ordered the death of my parents and I. Only you didn’t know our names, you only knew us by my father’s reputation, you knew us as the family of Spit Fire’s Mouth. He posed a great threat to you. I’ve taken down the gang that employed my father purely because it was unworthy of the reputation it held. That left Zeus to be the dominant power in this city and from there I planned to control it.

“Stan Cutlass, you tried to kill a twelve year old child and his family. I would have the sin repaid by having your family killed, but it seems your son has somehow eluded me. I have failed in that respect, but this will be enough to punish you. Kill Mal, and I can promise you a better existence than the one I’ve threatened,” Axel walked over to Stan and cast him in front of his naked ex-wife’s body.

Mallory had no tears left to spare for her condition, her fear had left her and she accepted the omen of the mask. She was going to die and she knew it. Stan on the other hand, was distraught at his condition and considered begging, but knew Axel to be resolute in his desire and did not want to risk being beaten again. He slowly crept to Mallory and looked into her eyes. They already seemed dead, but he knew they were alive.

Stan placed his hands over Mallory’s throat and began to squeeze. She struggled, at first, and Stan could see the emotion return to her eyes and she realized that her last moments had come. Horror placed itself into the being of her gaze and Stan Cutlass’s spirit was killed from the murder of his love by his own hand. She kicked a few times, but after a short time the naked body of the fair woman lay still and began to lose warmth. The luster that had filled the smiling cheeks Stan had remembered when he first met Mallory faded into nothing as her spirit was taken from her: or so Stan tried to believe, but the existence of a God seemed less and less plausible as he fell crying upon the dead body of his ex-wife.

“You are a good dog, Stan, but a detestable man. Jin as promised you may do what you will with the man,” Axel said taking a seat at the desk of his new office.

“No! You promised I would be let go!” Stan screamed in fear as Jin pulled his knife from its sheath.

“He only promised you a better existence. Any existence is better than the one you have, fat man,” Jin sneered as he picked the man up and forced him into the hallway. Jin closed the door behind him and put the knife back in its sheath and spoke, “Fight me the best you can, fat man. I will not be armed. It is cruel to sentence you to death and give you no honor to fight back. This is what Axel has promised you. Now fight me!”

As Jin finished speaking he lunged at Stan and tackled him to the ground. Stan tried to strike at Jin, but he was too quick and grabbed Stan’s hand. With the grasp Jin held he twisted quickly and broke Stan’s wrist. Jin then punched Stan in his nose, blood spurted from it, but Jin didn’t relent. Stan made an effort to struggle, but Jin was too strong a man to be resisted and Stan’s other arm was broken. With strong hands Jin pressed hard on to Stan’s throat and as Stan was about to die Jin released his grasp and stood up, removing himself from Stan’s body. The fat, old man coughed up blood and stayed laying on the ground, making no effort fight back. Jin took the knife from its sheath at his side and flung it into Stan’s heart. Life drained from Stan’s eyes and Jin watched with a smile.

Standing from his victory Jin walked back into Axel’s office. He placed himself in front of the desk and said, “He has been finished, Axel.”

To which Axel responded, “Good work, my friend. Now, let us purge this waste of a city.”

Five years had passed since the death of Stan Cutlass and Zeus had never seen such prosperity under the hand of Axel Bastion. Once he took the gang, Axel set to eradicate the city of any opposing forces through less than reasonable means. At this time many things had happened in the city of Sorrento, but one was the raising of a boy and his sister. The sister had fallen terribly ill and the boy, nineteen years of age approached the building he believed to be Axel’s headquarters.

“There is a boy here to see you, Axel,” a man wearing a tight black shirt and pants said walking into Axel’s office.

“What does he want?” Axel responded sitting in his chair reading through a pile of papers.

“Well, sir, he says he wishes to join us.”

“And, what do you think about him?”

“He looks strong enough, he can’t be too smart coming here unarmed, but that’s a good thing. He’ll follow orders well.”

“This is true, did he say why he wanted to join?”

“His sister has fallen ill.”

“Ah, that is the weakness I was looking for. It’s important to know. Send the boy in, I wish to speak with him.”

“Will do, Axel,” the man left the office and came back quickly with another man and a strong looking young man with blonde hair and a suit that didn’t fit him. The young man came in with an air of confidence and smug attitude that was marred with an obvious sense of fear. Axel looked him up and down surveying his capability. He was able bodied and looked fierce--as if he were a father lion trying to protect his cubs.

“What are you doing here kid?” Axel asked.

“My s-sister, she’s sick. I have no money, no insurance. Nowhere for her to live. I have nowhere else to go. . .” said the young man, his voice shaking.

“And you think coming to me will help you cure your sister? I’m not a doctor or a miracle worker, you fool. Get this child out of here, he has no place with us,” Axel commanded and watched as the two men grasped the boy and pulled tried to pull him away from his ambitions.

“Please! I cannot let her die! I have nothing else, nothing!” the boy screamed as he was being dragged out of the room. Axel stared while he thought to himself, He has spirit, but let us see how much he actually cares for this girl, Axel thought. The young man seemed to struggle and pulled an arm free and wrapped it around the man holding him. The man was swung around into the one on his other side. They tumbled into the wall and Kefka lunged at them. He desperately, and feebly, attempted to grapple one to the floor and by some luck he grabbed hold of the revolver strapped to the man’s waste. He timidly aimed the gun at the man and took a step back. The other guard made a movement to try and stop the boy but Axel stopped him saying, “Wait, let’s see if he’ll actually do it.”

The boy kept the revolver pointed at the grunt, and answered Axel’s call, “Y-you’re just going to let me kill him?”

“Why wouldn’t I? He tried to kill you. Look, kid, if you really need my help you’ll have to prove to me that’s the case,” the seated man responded. The young man agonizingly sighed and after a few moments his finger pulled the trigger, there was the sound of bang and then a soft thud.

Axel began laughing hysterically, but quickly composed himself, “You, child, are something else. Most that come in here looking for money don’t have the determination to resist being thrown out. You have killed one of my men, I will need a replacement. How about this? You put the gun down and we’ll talk about what you need.”

The boy aimed the revolver at the seated man and pulled the trigger only to hear a click with no resulting shot.

“You’ve got moxy kid. You’re lucky that Eric wasn’t the best henchman. There is no telling what would happen to you. You’d never get your help and then you’d just be hunted. You think my men would stand back and let you run off after having murdered their boss? No, you’d be hunted and torn to shreds. Put the gun down, put yourself down, and talk with me.”

The boy hesitated for a moment. He kept the gun pointed at the man and slowly moved to sit down. He lowered the gun and dropped it to the floor.

“There’s a good boy. Now, tell me your name?”

“It’s Kefka Maximilian. I understand that you are Axel Bastion, leader of Zeus?”

At the mention of the boys name Axel’s mind went into a fury. He remembered his best friend growing up as a child, his first murder, a darkness rose inside of Axel and he then remembered the promise he had made a woman five years earlier inside a dark apartment building before he killed her. The only woman that had displayed the same amount of courage Axel’s mother had when she was killed. He remembered the feelings that tried to form when he spoke with Elizabeth Maximilian. The closest feelings Axel ever had to love. Axel had never found the children, but they instead came to him. His emotions almost surfaced, but Axel was cold in his heart and subdued them quickly.

The face of his childhood best friend flashed across his eyes once more and he saw the same lion-like fierceness in Kefka Maximilian. He saw the eyes of Elizabeth and the same determination to keep those whom he loved safe. Axel respected that drive and looked upon Kefka with interest and with a disconnected demeanor said, “Yes, that is me.”

“So, you’ll hire me? You’ll help my sister?” Kefka asked eagerly. The words of the promise echoed across Axel’s mind, he felt a certain obligation to Kefka and his sister, and with a smile Axel said, “I will do what I can.”

“Axel, it’s starting,” Jin said urgently as he crashed through the door of Axel’s office.

“What is starting, Jin?” Axel said tiredly, as he had just woken from a long sleep. After he had returned from the house, Axel had taken to dreaming in his office and was now woken by Jin’s interruption.

“Kefka moves to start a war. He arms his men as we speak.”

“Well, I guess it’s time we moved as well,” Axel replied with a grin.