The Battle for New Millennium
Chapter 2: Jackson Girard
Sam Gunn stared down his opponent, the mysterious Tzu Lee. Lee had made his way through the tournament through dirty fighting and brutalizing his opponents. Lee was easily three times as big as Sam and ten times as deadly. His long black hair adorned the back of his head like a beast’s mane. His dark eyes looked ablaze in the light of the small fighting den.
Sam locked eyes with his opponent. His blonde hair was stuck to his forehead with sweat, but he made no move to fix it. This would easily the toughest battle he would face since leaving his small town and entering in the underground fighting tournament. He was built of muscle and sinew, but was older than his opponents by ten years or more. Sam used his experience in martial arts to defeat his opponents until he made it to the final match, where he now stood trying to stare down the demon in the flesh, Tzu Lee.
The crowd roared, but the two combatants ignored it. Money was passed back and forth as various bookies and bet takers scribbled notes furiously. Lee was the favorite, but Sam Gunn had become the underdog and the longshot. If anyone planned on making any real cash at this tournament they bet on Sam Gunn.
Sam had other motivation. A motivation that only he and Tzu Lee knew. Years ago, it was Tzu Lee that killed Gunn’s family when he was a police officer in the mid-west. Once Sam found out about the tournament and that Lee would be entering; he had no choice but to enter.
“HAJIME!” the referee shouted, throwing his hand down and exiting the ring. There wasn’t much else for him to do now that the match had began. The match would only end with a knock out, if one of them fell out of the ring, or death.
Sam and Lee continued to stare at each other as the crowd around them jeered and screamed at them to fight in various languages. Lee’s eyes were fire as he dared Sam to make the first move. Sam stared right back daring Lee to do the same. Today was the day Sam Gunn would get revenge for this family, and he knew it. Finally, it was Lee that struck first.
Lee struck out with a lighting-fast first that struck Sam in the nose. Sam wasn’t expecting it and tumbled backwards. Sam flailed at the edge of the ring, and Tzu Lee took full advantage by delivering a hard spin-kick to Sam’s rib cage. Sam fell out of the ring onto his back, clutching his ribs. He looked up at Lee who was staring down at him. The fight wasn’t supposed to end this way, and Sam Gunn wasn’t the only one who knew it.
Jackson Girard got up on his elbows as stage hands rushed over to him. He wiped the blood that was pouring down his face on the back of his hand. Suddenly the production companies nurse was staring into his nose and swabbing the blood away. Jackson ignored the pain in his ribcage as she did this.
“It’s not broken,” the nurse said more to the director than Jackson. “Thankfully. He got wacked pretty hard.”
“What the hell, Tzu?!” the director said to Tzu Lee, who refused to be in the movie as anyone other than himself. “This is an acting gig. ACTING! You’re not really supposed to fight! Also, you were supposed to lose!”
Tzu Lee didn’t say a word. He continued to stare down Jackson. Finally he pointed to Jackson then moved his finger along his throat.
“Get him outta here!” the director yelled. “Seriously, Lee. Control your brother!”
“Yessir,” Tzu’s younger brother, Son, said bowing. He was much smaller and skinnier than his brother. He wore thick glasses and had his hair gelled in spikes. “I will talk to Tzu. He will fight fair.” Son bowed one more time before running off in the direction of his brother.
“That’s going to swell up, isn’t it?” the director asked the nurse who was now putting ice on the bridge of Jackson’s nose. “For what it’s worth you were great, brother. The suspense was awesome. If only he came in from the left like he was supposed to. Guy can’t follow stage direction for anything!”
Jackson looked at his director who seemed to be addressing anything in the room except for him. He knew what the director was doing. He was trying to gloss over the fact that Tzu had just attacked him instead of performing their choreographed fight they had been working on for weeks. Tzu was probably insane and shouldn’t have been on the set, but he was a big name in the martial arts world, and the director just had to have him for Sam Gunn’s nemesis.
“Well today’s shot to hell,” the director said, looking around the room with his hands on his hips. “There’s no way we can film you with that nose swelling up. Why don’t we start again tomorrow morning from where the fight started. We can’t finish this thing up without Tzu, so let’s hope his brother calms him down before then. Ok? Good.”
Jackson sat in his dressing room drinking a tall glass of gin. It had been a long shoot, and he just wished it could be over. He was grateful this one was in New Millennium. The last one was shot in the Republic of New Asia, and the entire continent was under siege by two rival gangs that both claimed to be The Dragons. The most discerning thing about their war was that nobody seemed to mind that they were fighting in the streets and tearing the cities apart.
Jackson longed for the days that would never be his. Centuries ago, before the dark times and the wars, there was a place on the west coast of North America where they shot movies. Hundreds or thousands of them were filmed every year. The actors of this time were lifted up as idols among the people, to be admired and fawned over for all of their days.
Now, it was much different. Less than ten movies would be filmed a year, and they’d be lucky if enough people would pay to see this one to make it worth filming to begin with. Sure, Jackson Girard was a big name in the martial arts world, and he had a natural charisma that made him irreplaceable on the screen; but was that really enough to keep asses in the seats in the theaters?
The golden days of the West Coast were over. Hell, the entire area got swallowed up by the Pacific Ocean during a great earthquake and tidal wave just before the Great War of the dark times took place. When society rebuilt, they didn’t make way for another legendary Hollywood or City of Angels. Most actors lived in trailers waiting for their agents to make the drive to them with an offer. Most of them died hungry and lived in squalor, waiting for those brief intermissions where they were clothed, cleaned up, and fed like Gods. Only the few that made their producers any real money were kept along to live the high life. Jackson was fortunate enough to keep working in these action movies long enough to get free meals and a roof over his head. It was more than his parents had.
Jackson looked at the old picture of his parents once the memories of them flooded into his mind. What little memories there were. They were both killed violently in Jackson’s youth so that a bank robber could use their car to get away from the police. They stopped him three minutes after he stole the car, but his parents were dead. They died so a three minute police chase could entertain the gawkers of New Millennium.
There was a knock on the door, and Jackson was taken out of his trance of memories. “It’s open!” he called.
One of the director’s assistants came into Jackson’s small trailer. She had to be no older than nineteen, but Jackson knew the director was sleeping with her. “We can’t find Tzu,” she said. “If he’s not back by morning we’re canceling filming.” She left without another word.
“Great!” Jackson said to his empty trailer. It was looking like this was his last night in the small trailer. If the movie they’d been filming for the last few weeks never saw the light of day, Jackson would likely not find acting work again. It wasn’t his fault Tzu booked before the movie was done, but this was a harsh business.
Jackson looked at the photo of his parents again. “What would you think of all this?” he asked the silent photo. This isn’t the life they would have wanted for him. It was their memory that made him start training in the first place. It was because of them he met Julian Lyons and learned how to fight from him, and it was Julian Lyons that taught him the ways of The Post.
“The world cannot defend itself,” Julian told a much younger Jackson Girard. “It is a sad fact of life, but we must be its shield and its armor. We must show them the light as the darkness grows. At times, we must be the beacons of death.”
Jackson smiled as he remembered his old mentor and sensei. Without meaning to do so, Jackson got up and walked over to the small chest he kept with him (it was senseless to keep too many items with him when he could be homeless tomorrow). He pulled out the black outfit that Julian had given him on the day of his “graduation”. The leather mask was still intact. it had been so long since he wore it.
Show business had taken so much out of him and had taken him so far from his home in New Millennium. In his absence, fear and evil had taken over his city. Above all else, The Post taught preparation and vigilance. Jackson may have lacked the latter of the two, but he was prepared, and he was resolved to rid the city of its evil if it required him to be its beacon of death.
“I have not forgotten, Julian Sensei,” Jackson said to the empty trailer, putting on his mask.
“Get the wallet!” Jojo said, holding his gun in front of him. His boys, Chuck and Tomboy, had their hands full. Chuck was going through the poor slob’s pockets looking for money and other valuables, and Tomboy was holding his wife across her chest with one arm and digging through her purse in the other.
“Please,” the fat man was saying. “Take what you want and let us go!”
“Shut the fuck up!” Jojo said. “I think I’ll let you go and keep your wife.”
“No!” the man shouted.
“She smells real nice,” Tomboy said. “Cap fat-boy, and let’s get this going.”
“I can’t argue his logic,” Jojo said. He pulled the trigger and shot the man in his stomach. He fell to the ground clutching his wound.
“John!” the woman yelled, trying to break Tomboy’s hold.
“Hold still,” Tomboy said. “We’ll be done in a minute, darling.”
“What the fuck you do that for?” Chuck asked. “Next time warn me! I nearly shit myself!”
“Just get his money,” Jojo said, approaching the woman. “Take the purse, Tomboy. Jojo gets first dibs on the girl.”
The woman screamed, and Jojo pressed the gun to her temple. “You best cut that out,” he said. “If anyone comes along I’ll put a bullet in -”
Jojo never finished his statement. There was a blur of black, and he was on the ground. The others turned to see a man standing there dressed in a black shirt, hood, and pants. He was wearing a leather mask to match.
Jackson didn’t wait for the others to respond. He moved like the wind, and dropped Tombody with a kick to the side of his head. He moved like the water, and landed a chop to Chuck’s windpipe. He moved his arm again to knock chuck out with an elbow to the forehead. Jackson noticed that Jojo was starting to rise.
“Who the -”
Jackson moved quickly again, kicking Jojo in the side of his head with the bottom his boot. Jojo fell onto his face, motionless.
“Help him!” the woman screeched from behind Jackson. “John needs an ambulance!”
Jackson knelt behind the man that was bleeding into the dark alley. He checked for a pulse and found none. He knelt down to listen to the man’s breathing, but it had already stopped. “I’m sorry,” he said. “But he’s gone. Get somewhere safe and call the police.”
“John,” the woman said, beginning to cry. “He was -”
“Get somewhere safe!” Jackson yelled. “Call the police. I don’t have anything to tie these guys up with!”
The woman listened this time and ran off to the lit road. Jackson made sure the trio were knocked out before running in the opposite direction. He did a good thing saving that woman’s life (even if he was ten seconds too late to save her husband), but the police don’t look kindly at vigilanteism. Especially when a body is involved.
Jackson said a silent apology to the deceased man in the alley, and ran back into the darkness of the night.
Damien Geist looked out his large office windows at the darkened city of New Millennium. He stroked his black, thin goatee as he admired his own reflection against the backdrop of the city. He sat in a seat of power as CEO of Geist enterprises. He nearly had all of Deskue’s business bought up, until that boy scout Jonah Judge swooped in and took it all from him. He sneered as the city teemed beneath him. It won’t be much longer, he thought. Not at all.
“Mr. Geist?” the voice of his secretary said over the intercom on his desk. He sneered again, turning towards his desk. How he hated that name. It was reminder of everything he hated about being here. It was an auspicious name, but it sounded so human.
“What is it?” he asked, nearly grinding his teeth when he clicked off. He did not like to be disturbed when he was in deep thought.
“Mr. Sachine and Ms. Arhea are here to see you,” the secretary said. She was scared of her boss. She had a right to be. At first, she had found him handsome and debonaire. He usually wore dark suits that accentuated his normally dark demeanor and his black hair. He was always well groomed and dressed. Appearances were very important when trying to hide your true nature.
“Send them in,” Damien said, taking his finger off the black button when he was done. He pushed it back down as an afterthought. “Have Mr. Plague sent up. Call me when he is here.”
The door swung open as Damien’s command was issued. Mr. Sachine walked in followed by Ms. Arhea. Mr. Sachine was completely bald and had broad shoulders. He nodded a hello with his stoney chin and walked to the chair next to Damien’s desk where he sat. He didn’t say a word, but Mr. Sachine rarely does.
Ms. Arhea followed, and stood near the other side of Damien Geist’s desk as she usually did when the trio conducted business. She had long, red hair that was nearly down to her knees. Her frame was thin and her demeanor was cool. Her chin never drooped as she walked around the offices of Geist enterprises ensuring the empire was a smoothly running machine.
There was nobody else that Geist trusted more than the two individuals that he was in the room with. Demons usually adhere to their oldest friends.
“You know why I called you here,” Geist said.
“Yes,” Ms. Arhea said immediately. “Jano Xing. He has gone back into hiding.”
“He leaves his protege in charge,” Geist said. “Kasayda Kiz is now in charge. He trusts her completely.”
“Even after Nil’s failure?” Arhea said, not trying to hide her disdain for Kiz. “I would think she would have enough honor to end her own existence after what Nil did.”
“Perhaps Xing sees something you do not,” Geist said. “Either way, we have our part to play as well. I have enlisted a new ally to assist us. He is on his way up here now. He is very eager to assist us.”
“A human?” Arhea asked.
“Not merely a human,” Geist said. “My contacts in New Asia tell me that he is very deadly. The Dragon Clans ousted him due to his violent nature. His services have been up to the highest bidder since then, and it turns out I have the capital to employ him. For the time being, anyway.”
Mr. Sachine shifted in his chair uneasily and grunted.
“What is it?” Geist said. “We have been friends for a very long time. If there is something you wish to say, I wish you would just say it.”
“Humans,” Sachine said, nearly grunting it as well. “Why must we employ them for the fun stuff and confine ourselves to this building?”
“I do not question orders,” Geist said. “Our time will come. The reign of the humans on this putrid earth will soon be at an end. If Kasayda Kiz wins her battle, we can shed the guise of this corporation and cull the humans as we see fit.”
“Mr. Geist,” the voice of Geist’s secretary said. “Mr. Plague is here to see you.”
“Send him in,” Geist said, pressing the black button once again. “He is very prompt, that one.”
Geist’s office door opened once more, and an Asian man with wild black hair and a black duster entered the room. He looked around, observing and taking in the scene.
“This, my friends, is who I was telling you about,” Geist said, smiling. “This is the Dragon called Black Plague.”