A hyphen will be (and has been used in the last chapter) used when shimana born are talking to one another telepathically.

Example:

-Te’ori don’t speak aloud around the humans!- Victus said. Te’ori looked over at Victus confused.

“What’?” She said out loud. Then she remembered they were around a large group of humans. -Sorry.- Te’ori said to Victus.

I just feel this will make things flow smoother instead of me always having to say they are communicating telepathically.

Thanks for reading!

R. Sulli

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Victus kept lead no matter how much Nana or Koda tried to overtake him for fear of Victus being the first to greet Solace. Victus remained aggressive in the lead position keeping his eyes on Valion until finally the eagle glided lower perching itself on a branch. When Victus caught up to Valion he stared at the bird impatiently then looked around. The others came up behind Victus. Where Valion had brought them they were surrounded by very tall mountain trees. They were no where near the higher levels of the mountain, they were still very much in the valley. When Victus impatiently glanced around, he could sense Solace was near but he was nowhere in sight.

“Is this a game Solace? Show yourself!” Victus yelled, his voice echoing through the valley. Nana looked down seeing that Victus’s hand was firmly on the handle of his sword. His eyes were fuming. Koda glanced up at a tree branch that was thirty feet up while sniffing the air.

“So you learned to hide yourself as the Brawn do, is it self taught?” Koda asked keeping his gaze on the branch, he was calm. Solace shimmered into view standing on the branch that Koda had been staring at. He wore a very large forest green hooded cloak that covered his head blocking most of his face. His arms were bare and thin yet showed form of strength in them. He wore long wrist cuffs made of steel but on the inside it was padded to give comfort to his arms. One of his legs was forward revealing dark green pants that were close to the skin, his shoes were dark as well rising only to the ankle, they were moccasins. Pulling back the hood Solace revealed shoulder length wavy black hair that was tied into a pony tail. His face was boyish almost innocent. His head was round and his features feminine in a way, one would at first glance think Solace to be a girl but upon further study could see that he was a man. He had large eyelashes and large almond shaped brown eyes. His nose was round with a wide bridge. He stared at Te’ori pleased with what he saw for to him she was very beautiful. But she was not so impressed with what she saw in Solace. For her he did not look manly enough, and he looked to be very young in age, younger than her at least.

“We all have our own secrets.” Solace said. “I will respectfully keep mine to me as well.” He leapt down from the tree branch with ease landing below. Victus’s anger temporarily left him upon seeing Solace.

“A boy?” Victus said dazed staring at Solace taking notice of his youth. Solace was insulted but remained calm, but on his face you could see the slight struggle in his eyes.

“I am no boy sir, I just turned seventeen. In my clan age sixteen is the age of adulthood!”

“That may be so, but in my eyes you are but an adolescent. What is it that you have done to claim the title of a man?” Victus said it in a way that was meant to insult, his tone worked well.

“You question the ways of my clan?” Solace said feeling defensive. Te’ori and Nana saw that the conversation between Victus and Solace could end badly, Te’ori quickly stepped up.

“Hello I am Te’ori.” She reached out her hand in greeting, she stood in between Victus and Solace. For a moment Solace stared into her eyes. His heart softened, he focused on her and a slight smile formed on his lips. Reaching out for her hand he held it gently lowering his head softly kissing it.

“Greetings beautiful Te’ori, to meet you in person I see that such a beautiful name matches such an exquisite woman.” Solace said keeping his lips close to her hand while looking up at her. He was charming Te’ori would give him that even though she was not attracted to him.

“Did you create that storm boy?” Victus said not caring to keep the situation between him and Solace calm. Solace leaned up looking over at Victus with distaste. He rolled his eyes.

“I am lead tracker of The Seekers Of Truth clan. And you need to speak to me with respect!” Solace made sure to keep eye contact with Victus to show he meant business, Victus was not concerned with Solace’s show of confidence. Victus knew what Solace was trying to do and he laughed in spite of it which only made Solace more upset. Solace turned facing him. “I know of your barbaric superstitious people, and for their love of war! It is no surprise that it is you out of everyone here that rushed to disrespect the one who saved your life!” Solace looked down seeing Victus grip the handle of his sword, in turn Solace reached down grabbing the handles of both daggers that rested at each side of his hip on his belt. Victus frowned upon seeing this.

“You wish to prove your manhood? I Can baptize you boy.” Victus said with a crooked smile, he was enjoying this moment. Nana didn’t like where this was going, she spoke up.

“So you are an elemental?” Nana asked. Solace looked over at her, his eyes opened as if to only now realize who she was. Placing his right arm in front of him he bowed slightly in Nana’s direction.

“How could I have been so foolish? Forgive me Guardian.” Solace said in an almost embarrassing tone. He kept his eyes lowered to the ground. “I have heard many tales of the great female Guardians who were created by Orakel and the amazing feats that they accomplished! And that they were very much like Swain, the guardian who helped bring me up in my childhood. My father spoke of the women Guardians in high regard, and had met with several on his journeys as a tracker.” He looked up but remained bent over slightly studying Nana. “I have never seen a female Guardian and thought I never would. But I had been told that I would know when I saw one by their pale white skin, golden hair, and ocean blue eyes. That of course pretty much resembles Swain, but to actually see a female Guardian? It is an honor to be among one!” Solace raised back up forgetting all about Victus for the moment.

“Thank you. Your generous praise I am not worthy of, but it is appreciated. But if you could kindly answer my question?” Nana replied with a smile. Solace smiled realizing that Nana had asked a question, but he was too focused on Victus and before that Te’ori.

“Yes, I am an elemental. I can conjure rainfall and storms, but it is something that I really can’t seem to control.” He said with a humble smile. It was the first time Solace had shown humility.

“If you could not control the storm then why conjure it?” Victus immediately responded. Solace gave Victus a harsh glare. “That storm caused problems for us!”

“Would it have been better if Juma was the one causing the problems? I highly doubt any of you would’ve survived against him! I had to make a decision, conjure the storm which might give you a fighting chance, or just see if you could escape Juma!” Solace looked at all of them waiting for a response, his eyes darted about.

“But what if Victus would’ve drowned?” Te’ori said trying to make sure that she didn’t sound offensive. Solace started laughing, Te’ori wondered if Solace was so cynical to laugh at the possibility of Victus drowning.

“The barbarían would not have drowned! None of us can! His nanites would’ve created the proper amount of oxygen in his bloodstream to make it possible for him to breath under water! Shimana born can not feel frozen in the cold, can not feel blistered in extreme heat. And yes, can not drown in water.” Solace looked at Te’ori letting her know that he was fully aware of what he was saying, even though she did not understand.

“What do you mean?” Te’ori asked. Nana walked up beside Te’ori.

“The only one that does not know this is you, and that would be my fault. It was my job to keep you isolated from the world, and from what you truly were unless you showed signs of your power growing.” Nana said feeling ashamed. Te’ori looked at her upsettingly.

“Why would you hide things that I should know about myself? It does t make any sense.” Te’ori said. Nana could see in Te’ori’s eyes another little part of her innocence left, she sighed because of it and Nana wondered if by the end of their journey what would be left of the old Te’ori.

“I had my orders Te’ori to keep you safe. The less you knew, the safer you would be. I’m sorry if that doesn’t make sense.” Nana lowered her head in shame. Victus saw the pain in Te’ori’s eyes.

“Now you see that her kind can not be trusted. But really can you even trust the Brawn either? How long has he been your friend, yet he told you nothing about yourself?” Victus was vigilant in what he was saying. Te’ori looked over at Koda realizing what Victus was saying.

“Do not bring me into this Victus!” Koda said defensively. “I was under strict law from King Koji not to divulge anything to Te’ori about shimana born, and that it would be up to the discretion of her guardian on doing so!” Koda looked fondly at Te’ori. “And even then I broke my fathers law and tried to do what I could!” Koda saw that Te’ori smiled at him upon hearing his words, she knew that Koda spoke truth.

“Enough Victus! You will not turn me against my dear friend Koda. I will make my own decisions, I need no outer influence.”

“So be it girl child!” Victus said feeling insulted that Te’ori did not take his side. He was starting to dislike the entire group and wondered if he should even travel with them. But then he remembered the importance of getting Te’ori to Orakel’s lair alive. He fought down his pride at least for the moment. Victus told himself if this situation persisted regardless of how important this mission was he would indeed abandon it. Nana interjected although cautiously.

“To be fair Te’ori, there were certain things I wasn’t aware that shimana born could do. I didn’t know that shimana born could sense one another once they were in closer proximity of each other. And who knows what else I am not aware of? I only know of the original humanites to be honest. You, Victus and Solace are an evolved branch of humanites, and Koda is a new species altogether. That is why you are called shimana born. The original humanites were not a blend of magic and science.” Nana said. Solace grimaced at her last sentence.

“There is no magic within us, it is merely science. I am surprised that a guardian is saying such things.” Solace said in a perplexed manner.

“How do you know Solace? What are your theories on shimana?” Nana kindly asked.

“The council is still working on explaining it, but there seems to be no proof that magic exists. All things in the world have been reformed by the shimana, but shimana is a mixture of nature and man made technology which is the nanites. Over thousands of years nanites have reshaped the earth and created a new echo system! Blessed is science! For science is the way!” Solace gave a haughty glare at Nana showing that he was truly proud to be of his clan, and that nothing the council of his clan taught was infalible. Te’ori spoke before Nana could.

“I was taught of the ancient times, and how the world ended. Do you know Solace?” Te’ori asked.

“Yes. Every child is taught the old history of the world so that it can not be repeated.”

“And how did the old world end?” Te’ori asked.

“When the Dark Dreamer fell from the sky raining down destruction upon the earth. Most likely The Dark Dreamer is an alien from some unknown planet. This is the theory of the council.” Solace said trying to let everyone know the beliefs of his people.

“No.” Te’ori replied. “That was not how the end of the old world ended.”

“Excuse me?” Solace said surprised.

“The end of the old world, it didn’t happen because of The Dark Dreamer. It ended due to the doom spell. And it caused far more death and destruction than The Dark Dreamer could’ve hoped.” Te’ori said sounding neutral. Solace quickly rebounded so as to not look foolish.

“Well yes that would be true, but it was a combined effort of both The Dark Dreamer and the supposed doom spell.”

“And who were the creators of the doom spell? What race of people was it?” Te’ori said without skipping a beat. Solace squinted his eyes.

“I know where you’re trying to go with this! The Feya were the creators of the supposed doom spell, and before you say the Feya were magic users I would debate that they were a highly intelligent race of people that knew how to manipulate nanites to their will.” Solace replied defensively.

“The Feya are an ancient race, said to be the first on the earth before even humans. There were no nanites in the start of humanity. The first humanite was Jay Barette when he was injected with an experimental serum of nanites. So how could the Feya be a race of people that were able to manipulate nanites to their will when nanites weren’t even invented yet?” Te’ori smiled waiting for Solace’s rebuttal.

“You are invested in your beliefs and I in my truths. Therefore this debate is fruitless my dear Te’ori.” Solace wanted to end the topic. He didn’t want to be on the bad side of a beautiful woman. Victus saw that Solace didn’t want to argue with Te’ori and he surmised why. He started laughing. His anger had passed for now. Nana found it amazing that Solace held firm with the beliefs of his clan. Surely Solace knew more about himself and the magic that resides within him. Maybe it was the desire to belong that caused Solace to deny it. It was sad to Nana. She realized that she was thinking about the wrong subject. She glanced around scanning the area then pointed off into a direction.

“That is the way we need to go. It will take us a few hours to make it to the higher levels of the mountain if we jog.” Nana suggested. She looked at everyone in the party to make sure they were all on the same page.

“Let us go then!” Victus said taking off making sure to be in the lead. Solace looked up at Valion who had been silent, the eagle flapped it’s wings while leaping from the tree branch that it was perched on gliding into the air. Solace watched Valion fly higher into the sky then he ran off trailing slightly behind the others who had already started jogging off. The group had kept at a steady pace of jogging, they were not of human stock and did not tire easily. They were able to move swiftly and without pause. Even Koda who hadn’t gotten any rest had revived his energy after eating along the way. It was agreed after they reached the higher levels they would rest for a bit before moving on. This pace was what was needed in order to stay ahead of Law and Juma. As they went higher into the mountains the trees became even taller and thicker with branches as thick as doorways. But these trees were shimana created and were newer introductions into the eco system only being around for the past three thousand years. The trees were in abundance and was a great relief to the group for the trees would make for cover against those that hunted them. It was amazing to see such so much plant life and trees that high up. This was all due to the shimana. Nana had taken full notice of this and was studying it all as she jogged along. Shimana was heavily influencing the area with tree and plant life and as they continued to make their way further up the mountain vegetation increased greatly and began looking more like a tropical beach more than a high altitude region. Nana noticed Koda sniffing the air, she knew he was detecting something. Out of the entire group Nana knew Koda’s senses were the strongest.

-Is something wrong?- Nana asked Koda. Koda’s face showed concern as he sniffed about.

-My father always warned the tribe to never trek this high into the mountains. He said this place was haunted.- There was great caution in his voice.

-Haunted?- Nana asked. She knew King Koji personally. The King of the Brawn was powerful as well as wise. For King Koji to warn his people to stay clear of an area was cause for great concern indeed to Nana. -Did the King ever explain why he thought this area was haunted?- Nana asked Koda. Frustration set in for her she scanned heavier and wondered if it was fruitless. Anything born of the shimana she would not be able to detect due to the magical content within. That was why she didn’t get Solace’s beliefs. Granted Nana could see how humans would look at nanites as partial creators of this world, because they were. Nanites were not thinkers though, but they were instinctive in their actions. And they were manmade, and in this Nana could see the logic in The Seekers Of Truth belief system. But Solace was shimana born, he no doubt could sense the magic within him. For him to follow such foolishness made no sense. Nana could not detect magic, but she knew it existed. To Nana magic might be best explained as being part of nature. Orakel had explained to Nana long ago how the doom spell caused so much destruction. The doom spell was most certainly magic, and although the original humanites were able to manipulate the environment and other great feats, there were similarities between magic and science the two had different origins. Ignorance seemed to flourish better in the dark, and although The Seekers Of Truth had flourished in many ways it seemed in other ways they took several steps backward. The clan did not believe in superstitions which was good, but anything that could not be explained was considered superstitious such as magic. The clan also felt that the religion of worshiping a God was a poison of the human mind, yet they in their own way created a religion to be anti God. The clan even had a book of knowledge that was mandatory to read and understand by the age of adulthood. Humans were so confusing sometimes Nana said to herself.

-The King did not say how the forest was haunted, and no one dare ask him.- Koda replied breaking Nana’s train of thought briefly. The conversation between the two was private, no one else in the group was aware. Koda slowed down while quickly glancing about, his nostrils pulsing while sniffing the air. Everyone else slowed taking notice.

-What is it?- Victus asked.

-I see no one, and feel no one. But yet I still do.- Koda said glancing about cautiously. Solace glanced up seeing Valion in the distance.

-Valion isn’t picking anything up as well. Are you sure that you sense something?- Solace asked Koda.

-In one instance I pick up a scent on the wind. In the next the scent is gone as if it never existed.- Koda said. Victus pulled his sword from its resting place searching about, his instincts felt something was amiss as well. But not at first. It was only once they stopped and Koda started acting more strangely. Or maybe what Victus was feeling was Koda. A few feet in front of Victus three figures shimmered and appeared in front of the group. The three figures wore sliver armor from head to toe resembling a knight from the young era of earth. All three held long broad swords in both hands standing at the ready in a triangle formation. One stood at the lead the other two knights beside him.

“I am Eliteus, Superior Cavalier of the Karna and protector of its people! The two beside me are Cavalier Guard who aid me! You stand on undefiled ground! State your business or be cut down where you stand!” Eliteus face could not be seen, but his eyes were a piercing blue that came from the rectangle eye guards on his helmet. Victus noticed this and walked toward the three knights. Nana protested that Victus wait but he wasn’t listening to her.

“Your eyes look like the robots, yet I sense you are human. Or are you something else?” Victus said studying the knights. Nana was checking the knights out as well, her system scanned all three, and all three showed the vitals of a human. “You came out of nowhere which suggests the use of magic. But if you are human how is that possible?” Victus asked. He said what Nana was pretty much thinking, they all were. Solace kept looking over Valion’s readings and could not detect anything save for three humans.

“Magic?” Solace scoffed. “There is no magic here! But I can not detect the presence of humanites either. Surely there is smoke and mirrors at play!” He said placing both hands on the handles of his daggers.

-But we can all sense something, perhaps it is magic?- Te’ori asked the group telepathically.

-It is very possible.- Koda responded.

-Robot, what are your findings?- Victus asked Nana.

-I only detect three humans before us, and the same goes for Valion. I have already checked his systems as well.- Nana replied paying no mind to the fact Victus called her robot. The current situation was more important.

-Which means nothing!- Solace interjected.

“Humanites, why have you come? I will not ask again!”

-That little trick they just did, that is something only the Brawn know is it not?- Nana asked Koda.

-As I stated before, it is possible that others might have learned how to shimmer. But it would be a rare coincidence seeing as how King Koji has stated several times that only The Brawn are able to do so.- Koda said. Everyone stared at the knights waiting, but Victus continued to slowly walk toward them. Eliteus lifted his sword out in front of him.

“Stop humanite! If you continue your steps I will be forced to cut you down where you stand!” Eliteus said, his words only seemed to excite Victus. Victus was starving for a good fight. Instead of walking he now started jogging toward the three knights. Nana and Koda kept calling out for Victus to stop, he did not. A smile made its way to Victus’s face.

“A human threats to cut me down? A human?” Victus yelled loudly. His steps increased to greater speeds. Victus’s hand was no longer on his sword handle, he did not need his sword, not for a human fight. Victus reached Eliteus and he threw a casual punch, it wasn’t too hard; just hard enough to floor a human. Once Victus’s Fist reached close to Eliteus’s helmet Eliteus shimmered then reappeared behind Victus. Eliteus’s sword began glowing hot white and an energy sprang forth from it striking Victus in the chest knocking him backwards. Victus rolled onto his back then came to his feet his sword already drawn out in front of him. Everyone saw the energy blast, but it wasn’t detected by Nana or Valion, but Nana did see it. Her readings though could not detect a source. This was magic. Nana was sure of it now.

-Should we join in the fight and aid Victus?- Te’ori asked feeling confused.

-Let’s see how it goes first since he was so headstrong!- Koda said. Solace started walking g toward the other two knights while Victus fought Eliteus.

-Why should the barbarian get all the fun?- Solace replied. The knights stood at the ready seeing Solace coming toward them. In two steps Solace greatly picked up speed, he was so fast in fact that the first knight Solace came upon had no time to react. Solace kicked the knight in the stomach causing the knight to fly back as their sword flew from their hand. The knight rolled a few times before coming to a stop; they were unconscious. Unlike Victus was was holding back Solace was not. He wanted to prove to the others that the knights were human and nothing more. By the time the other knight knew what was happening the knight sliced their sword sideways at Solace. But it was already too late, Solace had moved so quickly that the knight didn’t notice that Solace was behind him. Solace kicked the back of the knights leg making the knight drop to one knee. Then Solace punched the back of the knights head which made the knight fall to the ground face first.

-It appears Solace has great speed.- Koda said as he watched Solace easily dispense both knights.

-It appears so.- Nana said. Nana realized that she was worried about Solace fighting Victus earlier. It was obvious that Solace could hold his own. Te’ori was watching the main battle between Victus and Eliteus with curiosity.

-The one called Eliteus seems to have more skill than the other two.- Te’ori said. Eliteus saw that both of his comrades were down. He shimmered and reappeared in front of Solace who was too busy looking his down opponent over. When Solace looked up Eliteus back fisted him across the face knocking him off his feet and onto his back. Victus loud aloud as he ran toward Eliteus.

“Enough!” A voice boomed into the air all around everyone. “I created this paradise as a place of peace! A refuge for those wishing to escape the mad world out there!”

Upon hearing the voice everyone was frozen being unable to move, as if being held by some invisible force. Eliteus lowered his sword upon hearing the voice and dropped to one knee lowering his head. Eliteus sheathed his sword then planted both hands on his knee.

“These trespassers came and attacked us Father Caste. And that one there downed my aides.” Eliteus pointed to Solace who’s eyes were wide with anger.

“Your brethren are fine, for I have seen to them.” Caste said. The other two soldiers slowly sat up. “See? They now stir and are well.” A earth colored robed figure shimmered beside Eliteus. He had long dreadlocks that went all the way down to his feet, and a beard that was almost as long. His hair was freckled with grey. His face looked to show the age of around sixty. His eyes were light brown, and so was his skin. There was a kindness to his face that Te’ori noticed instantly.

“Are you Feya?” Nana asked. She could not detect anything from Caste whatsoever. No human vitals, or signs of nanites. Caste smiled.

“The last of them to be precise. That is why your artificial eyes can not detect that I am even here.” Caste said.

“Of course you’re here! We can all see you including the Guardian. Stop with this nonsense!” Solace yelled out. Caste turned looking at Solace with a gentle smile, wrinkles formed on the corner of Castes eyes.

“Of course you can all see me including the android. But the android can not detect the source of what I am because I am of magic. Just as she can not detect any of you humanites because part of you is magic as well. It is not so difficult to understand child.” Caste said calmly. “What do you think holds you as I speak?”

“Nanites! They are all around us in microscopic levels, but they are there!” Solace yelled.

“My magic keeps the nanites at bay here. They have never impregnated the earth in these mountains.” Caste said, and with the wave of his hand Solace and the others were released from the invisible hands that kept them from moving. Instantly Solace bolted toward Caste. Solace reached out to grab Caste but was stopped inches from Caste being frozen once again. Caste looked Solace’s face over studying it. “Such hate for something you do not understand. Characteristics of the old world this is. There is no place for it here.” Caste’s smile left him, he brought his face close to Solace’s. “I could draw the nanites out of your body, but it would kill you. Let this be a lesson of my kindness. But do not take my kindness as a sign of weakness. I will not tolerate further aggression toward me or my children.”

“Children?” Te’ori asked. Caste turned to Te’ori, he smiled as he extended his arm toward Eliteus.

“This is my oldest son Eliteus.” Caste said. Eliteus reaches up with both hands removing his helmet to reveal long blonde hair that fell from the helmet touching his shoulders. His skin was white, just as white as Nana’s. His eyes were blue but of a different shade, not the same blue as Victus had claimed. His features were thin, eyes long and skinny.

“Eliteus is no robot?” Victus said as if Bri f appalled by the sight of Eliteus.

“No, he is my eldest child as I have just stated.” Caste said.

“How is that possible? Your son has no resemblance of you!” Victus continued, none of this made sense to him. “Only robots look at your son does! Any others who would look this way, those people have long died out in the world!”

“Those people you claim have died out. Some of them still live here and thrive. Eliteus’s mother was one of them. She was a great woman, and I hold her memory close to my heart.” Caste said. He pointed to the other two knights who also lifted their helmets revealing identical female teenage twins. Their faces more resembled Caste’s, and they had their hair pulled back into ponytails, the tip tightly in buns.

“My daughters Elina, and Casera. Their mother is my current wife.” Caste said. “They are knights in training.” Victus started laughing upon seeing the two girls.

“Solace has truly proven his manhood by attacking two girls!” He laughed even harder. With a wave Solace was gently pushed to a safer distance from Caste then he was released from being held still. Solace knew that it would be foolish to attack Caste again, no matter how badly he wanted to. Victus’s laughter made matters burn even more. No matter how badly Solace wanted to to, he knew it was foolish to do anything against Caste or Victus. Caste seemed to no longer be focused on the confrontation and he extended greetings once more to the group including Solace. Nana immediately started asking Caste questions at which point Caste raised one hand to hush Nana, she quieted upon Caste’s kind insistence. Caste said there would be time for questions once they made their way back to the village. The walk back was a casual one and took thirty minutes from the spot of the confrontation. Caste took this time to explain that he had come to the Valdous Mountains after the Doom spell had been released. Caste was one of the twelve elders of the Feya. Beside the chief the elders had the most powerful magic of its people. Since Caste admitted to being one of the elders that would mean he had to be over ten thousand plus years old. He had to have already existed for some time before the era of the doom spell, which meant currently he quite possible had to be the oldest living being on the planet. Caste told the group that upon the release of the doom spell it was only then in that instant that they all knew it was a mistake. The spell shot out from ground zero spanning across the globe, it’s affects were instantaneous. The Dark Dreamer knew this he was fading fast as the doom spell snapped his life. The doom spell claimed the lives of the elders. PaPa Jinx, the Chief of the Feya saved Caste thus sacrificing his own life to save Caste.

Caste explained that after The Dark Dreamer fled deep into the earth to escape the doom spell, Caste began searching for a place to settle and live out his days. He came to the Valdous Mountains thinking he would live out his life and die alone. Instead Caste found a starving village on the brink of death. A people who had fled the chaos of the world and beat the odds of the initial hand that death had dealt to the entire world. People of all walks of life gathering and making their way to the highest area they could find for safety. But the harsh cold would took its toll on the village. It was Caste who came and took pity on the people, he made the area as warm as summer, and made food grow in great abundance. The village had been unnamed before, Caste took it upon himself to name the village Karna after his only daughter that was lost to the doom spell. From that point on Karna thrived and remained cloaked from the outside world thanks to Caste’s magic. The people of Karna looked up to Caste and saw him as their savior and appointed him as their King. Caste’s first motion as King was to govern the people to keep them safe from harm. Caste ordered his people to never go outside the boundaries of the Valdous Mountains, out past the borders of his protection. Under Caste’s rule the kingdom of Karna flourished for thousands of years and still continued to do so. This is what was learned on the trek to Karna. Nana found it fascinating. Te’ori admired Caste for trying to redeem himself for his part over releasing the doom spell on the earth by helping the kingdom of Karna thrive. Koda wondered why his father never spoke of Karna, surely King Koji would’ve came across the Karna in his early days when he scouted all areas of the Boki. Even though the Valdous Mountains might not have been an actual part of the Boki, it was connected to it which to Koda meant it was part of Brawn domain. Victus saw Caste as cowardly for staying hidden in these mountains for all that time. Caste was a powerful wizard, and all that power was going to waste when Caste could rise up against the Dark Dreamer. Victus had no respect for Caste no matter how much he helped his people. Solace fought to not listen to anything Caste said. After all it went against everything Solace was taught. He had to remain strong and untainted. As they neared Karna all Solace could think was that the entire kingdom would be brainwashed with the foolish notion of magic. Solace could not wait to be out of Karna and the Valdous Mountains. The sooner the better.

Koda trotted along pacing himself, his muscles were aching. Victus ran on one side of him while Nana ran on the other both in stride with Koda. Te’ori was seated upon Koda, hunched closely to his upper body with her arms wrapped around his neck, she kept looking up at the dark thick storm clouds above. A heavy wind picked up blowing fiercely through the valley as they started making their way upward. Te’ori could sense that the storm was not natural, someone had created it. Thunder boomed deeply and slowly alerting everyone below that soon a great downpour would start. Lighting streaked across the sky followed by loud crashes of thunder.

“Someone is creating this storm.” Te’ori said to Koda.

“Yes I know.” Koda replied. A few drops of water touched Te’ori’s skin. The renwolves that were pursuing turned tail rushing back to the cover of the Boki. They wanted nothing to do with all of this water. Thunder sounded off violently above followed by heavy rainfall, it was instantaneous.

“Whoever created this storm, I don’t know whether to curse them or thank them!” Koda said.

In the center of the valley where the group rushed up in an attempt to get to higher ground water had already started flowing down passing through their feet. Visibility was difficult and would’ve been for a human, but the keen eyesight of a Shimana born was able to peer through the heavy rain effortlessly. After a mere few minutes Koda, Nana, and Victus found they were in a river that was two feet and quickly rising. The current was strong but for now they were stronger. Te’ori looked back seeing Law soldiers on horse back, at their lead was Juma. Juma stared at Te’ori with great intent, no one had ever looked at her with such hate.

“Juma is coming!” Te’ori cried out not using telepathy. Nana looked back briefly, her face showing the fear she felt. Victus looked over seeing Nana and he frowned.

“Keep pushing! Don’t stop or the current will take us!” Victus urged. Nana turned back around methodically searching the area. She spotted what she was looking for off to the left further up the hill.

“There! A mile up to the left there is an area that levels off near a rock formation! The water does not gather there!” Nana said her voice was desperate. Victus and Koda spotted it once Nana pointed to its location.

“Go!” Victus yelled out.

Koda dug his claws into the muddy earth urging his large frame on. He picked up speed pulling away from Nana and Victus. Nana got behind Koda which alleviated some of the current pressure, but it was still a battle. The water was now chest high to Nana and Victus. Water continually splashed into their faces which now made it difficult to see, but they knew where they had to go. Nana and Victus slipped and went under. Nana dug her fingers into the ground, she quickly glanced back and reached out grabbing Victus by the arm as the current was about to take him. Both got their footing and stood up thier heads barely above the water now. Nana did not fight and gasp for air from all the water pushing against her face as Victus did. She wasn’t human and did not need air to breathe. Finally Koda leapt out of the water and pulled himself onto the safety of the rock mass. Te’ori jumped off of his back her eyes stayed fixed on the heavy currents. She saw the top of Nana and Victus’s head briefly before both were swallowed by the raging river. Seconds later Nana sprang out of the water using her amazing leaping ability. She landed onto the rock standing near Te’ori. She looked at Te’ori desperately, water streamed down her face making her hair cling tightly to her skin.

“I tried to reach out to Victus as I prepared to leap, the current took him!” Nana said.

“No!” Te’ori said. Her eyes searched the current. She had just met Victus and although she did not know him long enough to care for him, she did care for his life, he deserved to live. That was just how Te’ori was. She was a healer, all life was precious to her. Further down the rushing river Victus surfaced briefly before going under again. Nana, Te’ori and Koda watched helplessly.

“A sad thing to see a man who survived the destruction of his people only to be taken by the river!” Koda said. Nana agreed. Even though Victus had been cruel to her she had admired him for his strength. And she even secretly admired him for more than that. How strange she said to herself because she did not understand the feeling of admiration for a man, not how she was feeling toward Victus. She looked forward to being repaired by Orakel, these odd human emotions were a bit much for her.

“We will stay here until the rainfall stops then press on into the mountains.” Nana said. She looked over at Te’ori who was raising her arms stretching them out toward the river, Te’ori’s eyes were glowing bluish white. Nana stared at Te’ori analyzing Te’ori’s energt fluctuations in awe. This was a power Nana had never seen from Te’ori.

“Look out there!” Koda said surprised. Nana looked out into the violent currents farther down, she detected an energy signature. Her eyes also caught a bluish white energy flickering just below the surface, she knew it came from Te’ori who seemed entranced and deeply focused. Slowly from the water a large orb of energy rose out hovering above it. Within the orb was Victus who was coughing up water, he was on his knees. The bluish white orb moved above the water toward Te’ori and the others then landed in front of them near the edge of the rock formation. Te’ori blinked her eyes a few times before they changed back to normal. Victus slowly stood and turned looking down the river where Juma and his soldiers were last seen riding. He was ashamed that a young girl had just saved him, he would’ve rather died. He could not turn to face Te’ori, instead he looked down where Juma and the Law soldiers had been riding. The lower valley was full of water now that turned into a temporary lake.

“Juma has been swept away with the current.” Victus said. He looked up to the sky. “This storm that wanted to swallow us up has instead taken our pursuers. Vegas be praised!” Victus shouted.

The rain started to slow then it stopped altogether. The clouds broke and the thunder subsided. The setting sun was visible. The loud sound of rushing water was all that could be heard until the screeching of an eagle broke. Victus caught sight of the large eagle circling high above, so did the others. Nana scanned the eagle detecting familiarity.

“The eagle is artificial intelligence.” Nana said.

“Who created it?” Koda asked.

“Isn’t it obvious? Who else in Old America would have the knowledge and ability to do so? It is Orakel’s creation. But that type of eagle I can guarantee was gifted to a Tracker.” Nana said. Koda eyed Valion with his keen eyes looking the eagle over, and after much evaluation Koda spoke.

“Agreed. Even in the Boki I have heard of the great trackers from The Seekers Of Truth clan. My father has even come across a few before my time, and he spoke of the trackers and their animal companions that were not living and breathing animals but creations of the great Orakel.” Koda replied.

“But then if this eagle belongs to a Tracker…” Victus said, his voice trailing leaving the rest of his thoughts to himself. His father Chief Vegas had a treaty with The Seekers Of Truth clan. And although Victus had never seen a Tracker or any from his clan, Chief Vegas had given his full opinion of the clan to his people.

“Then the Tracker is near as well. The eagle serves as the trackers eyes and is used for safe surveillance” Nana said. Koda shook his head to get the water out of his fur. The shaking continued all the way down his body, water flickered from his fur in a mist into the air, Te’ori giggled being amused by it, Victus was not.

“The Tracker is Shimana born.” Victus said while he wiped the water from his face that was supplied by Koda. It was peculiar that Victus was disturbed by his face getting wet when the rest of his entire body was wet and his pants and boots were soaked. Nana had taken notice of how well defined Victus was. His wet skin seemed especially appealing. Nana found herself admiring Victus once more and she got frustrated. It would’ve been better that the current swept Victus away than for her to feel flustered when she looked at him. Of course that was a mere thought in frustration, Nana really didn’t feel that way and would never consider it a true option.

“Greetings…” A voice said inside Te’ori’s head. “My name is Solace. I am a Tracker from The Seekers Of Truth.”

“Oh, hello.” Te’ori said surprised, she spoke out loud.

“The Shimana born speaks to you?” Victus said.

“Yes, he says his name is Solace, and that he is from The Seekers Of Truth.” Te’ori replied.

“Why does he not speak with all of us?” Victus remarked suspiciously. Te’ori decided to ask Victus’s question, Solace answered Te’ori who in turn addressed the others.

“He said he wanted to know that Koda would be at peace with him before he made himself known.” Te’ori said. Victus frowned looking at Koda.

“I do not understand. Why would the Brawn concern him?” Victus said.

“Because long ago trackers came to the Boki unannounced. They attempted to spy on the Brawn unaware that Brawn scouts were already spying on them as soon as the trackers had set foot in the forest. The trackers were brought before King Koju who mistrusted them. My father told them to never return to the Boki.” Koda said. Victus raised a brow.

“A large bear can hide against a Tracker?” Victus replied. Koda took offense to Victus’s words.

“The Brawn are not just some ordinary bear! We are all shimana born! And with the wisdom and direction of King Koju who is most likely the oldest of any Shimana born the Brawn have prospered!” Koda was angry, Te’ori had never seen Koda upset or angry. It made her start to dislike Victus because he had also insulted Nana.

“Are you always so rude to every person you meet Victus? First you were rude to my Nana, and now you are rude to my dearest friend!” Te’ori said. Victus seemed confused by Te’ori question but he rebounded quickly. Pointing to Nana he replied to Te’ori’s question.

“That is not a person, it is a robot! Your friend Koda is a Brawn not a human! I am not here to make friends! Orakel asked me to get you to his lair safely, and because I see the importance of it I will do the honorable thing and help you on your quest!” Victus argued. Nana once again was hurt by hearing that she was not human, and it angered her this time.

“Did you just disrespect Koda by saying he was not human?” Te’ori said.

“Well I wouldn’t be offended by that because I’m not human.” Koda said. Te’ori realized Koda was making fun of her and she thought about what she had just said. They both started giggling. Victus saw nothing amusing about it.

“You both are immature. A little girl and a baby bear.” Victus said. Te’ori looked at Koda, and Koda back at her.

“Koda…?” Te’ori said looking Koda up and down.

“Yes Te’ori…?” Koda replied jesting.

“You are a baby bear!” Te’ori said bursting out in laughter. Koda joined her. Nana watched them both in amazement that they could find a lighthearted moment in all of this tragedy. It was welcoming to see and Nana found that she was even smiling. Valion screeched overhead grabbing everyone’s attention.

“Solace says to follow Valion, he will take us to where he is.” Te’ori said. Victus shook his head in distrust but agreed to follow the eagle. Victus had a question to ask Solace when they met, and Solace’s answer had better be a good one.

“Then let us go.” Victus said firmly. He looked up at the circling eagle, Valion broke from the circular motion flying off to the left away from the rushing water that crashed downhill. Victus started off first making sure to keep his sight on Valion, the others quickly followed behind him.

“Victus seems quite eager to meet Solace.” Koda said to Te’ori telepathically.

“What do you mean?” Te’ori replied back. Koda had let Nana in on the private conversation as well. She was studying Victus while he hurried along.

“His vitals show intent indeed.” Nana said.

“We should keep an eye on him once we meet up with Solace, I don’t think we are off to a good start with those two.” Koda said.

“Wait, you actually think Victus wants to fight Solace?” Te’ori asked.

“We all sensed the storm was created by a Shimana born. There are high chances that the creator of the storm was Solace.”

“Solace? But I didn’t feel any negative intent from him.” Te’ori said confused.

“Neither did I, but it will be interesting to see what his reason was to throw down such a fierce storm upon us. And I’m sure that’s what Victus wants to find out too.” Koda said. Nana didn’t reply to any more of the conversation that was going on between Koda and Te’ori, instead she was running numbers on the probability that Solace was the creator of the storm, and if so why did he unleash such a storm on ones who were not the enemy? Granted Juma and Law were in pursuit of them but was a storm of that level needed to subdue Juma and Law? They had almost lost Victus because of the storm. If Solace did create the storm then the next problem would be Victus. According to Koda, Victus was stronger than them all, and if Victus lost control and wanted to confront Solace in battle would they be able to intervene? And would Solace be powerful enough to stop Victus? Nana didn’t like the ratio to all of her queries. All she could do was wait and see the outcome once they reached Solace.

*******

His horse. His army. Everything was swept away in the current. Juma was full of rage from the acts of rebellion that he had witnessed. He sensed three Shimana born among the four that he pursued, and a fourth who was the conjurer of the storm who was hidden someone undetected for the most part. He sensed that the female among them was an android, and had he been in reaching distance a mere touch and she would’ve been under his control. But now he was at the bottom of the raging currents. His fingers and boot tips dug deep in the muddy earth to keep from being swept away. He did not fear drowning for the shimana within him allowed him to breath even under water. Juma did not move for he felt that he could be swept further from his enemies, yet he knew he could not merely sit and wait for the current to die down. He was so close, he had seen Te’ori. He could not fail and possibly loose her again. Who knew how long it would take if she made outside of the Boki? At least here Juma was able to locate and surround the area, but if Te’ori made it outside of the forest the hunt would have to start all over again. No he must not fail Juma told himself, there was too much at steak. If he lost the humanite girl when being so close to catching her the Dark Dreamer would be furious. This alone was enough to keep going. Slowly he started moving forward, the raging waters would not deter him from his ultimate goal. His fingers dug deeper into the muddy surface, tiny rocks and sticks carried by the current struck Juma’s body. It did not hurt him but he was annoyed that he was put into this position in the first place. The one who caused this storm, they would suffer a slow and painful death. Juma repeated this like a mantra.

“Juma…” A whispering voice echoed inside of Juma’s mind, it was his master, the Dark Dreamer.

“Yes my lord.” Juma replied.

“I am impressed with your endeavors. Even after my armies have been swept away by the storm you alone continue to pursue. Do not allow the girl to leave the mountains alive. Continue to impress me.” The Dark Dreamer said, it was all that was said and nothing more.

Koda pushed himself most of the day in an attempt to put distance between Juma and the group. Koda had no fear in confronting Juma, in fact it was appealing to him, the idea of the Brawn Prince taking down the General of the Law army. The pride that King Koju would feel if his son defeated Juma. But this was the fantasy of a young Brawn Bear. Koda was only one hundred and two years old and spoiled by his parents. He had much growing to do, and most likely Koda alone against Juma would not go well for Koda. The main concern for Koda was not fighting Juma, his concern was Nana and Te’ori. Although Koda knew what Nana was, he was amazed at how much fear he smelled from her on the very mention of Juma’s name. King Koju had told Koda long ago what Nana was, that she was a creation of Orakel, but it really didn’t make sense. Nana was an android Koju told Koda, but Koju’s definition of what an android was seemed to confuse Koda. Possibly Koju didn’t understand it either himself. A machine with great intelligence that looked human but was not human Koju had said. Koda had learned what a machine was, they were in the days of the old world and in various levels of use. Koda had even seen machines in city ruins; but none worked having been shut down by the doom spell long ago. Machines were either small or very large. Had they worked Koda imagined that human emotions would not come from them. But Nana displayed emotions much like humans, granted anything else was not. Nana was much stronger, smarter, faster, and she never aged. Humans aged and were not as intelligent, and far weaker. Koda could telepathically talk to Nana whereas he could not with a human. Koda often wondered if there somehow was a connection between shimana born and machines because of that. Shimana born did not age and were much stronger than humans as well. Koda had been around Nana a few times but had mostly spent time with Te’ori. He had never seen fear come from Nana and thought that she could never experience it since she wasn’t human. But it was obvious Nana was afraid of Juma, Koda did not know why. In Koda’s eyes Nana was a great warrior in her own right. And then there was Te’ori. Although she was shimana born to Koda she was more on the weaker side. Koda’s father always said that shimana born were great warriors, hence why the Brawn were feared by others for their prowess. Juma was shimana born and was a mighty warrior. Then there was Te’ori who although was not as weak as humans did not seem to really be the warrior type. Koda could not envision Te’ori riding into battle on horseback wielding a sword. Koda knew Te’ori all of his life, she was not a fighter. And for these reasons that he saw between Nana and Te’ori Koda did not wish to confront Juma, for fear that Te’ori and Nana both would perish.

Koda pushed on, but he was starting to fatigue. Finally they made it to the valley, but a long uphill trek was next. Koda slowed, Nana took notice.

“Why are we stopping?” Nana asked.

“I have been running all day with no break.” Koda replied.

“We can break once we have made it into the mountains. There we will have trees in abundance, and caves that we can hide in from Law.” Nana replied.

“You have no need of a break because you have been sitting! I have not eaten, and I am tired from trotting with you two on my back! I have need of rest now or I will not be able to continue!” Koda replied. Nana glanced back nervously, she slid off Koda’s back.

“Can you detect Juma?” Nana asked.

“No.” Te’ori said sliding off of Koda’s back. She was a little annoyed that Nana did not seem to care for Koda’s well being.

“I have not felt Juma for most of the day. But that means nothing. I have been blocking Te’ori and I from being detected by Juma, but I am certain he detected Te’ori before I was able to conceal her from him.”

“You sound as if there is more to say.” Nana said staring at Koda intently. Koda started sniffing the air for food.

“If I am able to conceal Te’ori and I from detection it is possible that Juma can conceal himself from us as well. Although my father claims that to his knowledge no other shimana born are capable of doing so other than the Brawn. But we can not assume.” Koda replied. “You will need to hunt for me Nana, apologies. But it takes more strength and focus to conceal both Te’ori and I.”

“You have never taught Te’ori how to conceal her signature from other shimana born?” Nana asked concerned.

“It is against Brawn Law to teach an outsider the ways of the Brawn, even if they are shimana born. But I have broken that law and taught Te’ori how to conceal her signature. But only recently did I decide to do so which means Te’ori still has not achieved this skill fully as I had hoped. Had she been able to your initial journey would have been much easier because the renwolves would not have been able to track Te’ori so easily.”

“Wait, the renwolves were tracking Te’ori via her shimana?” Nana shook her head in realization. “It all makes sense now! I didn’t know that it was possible!”

“That is because Orakel was obviously not aware. How could he? How many shimana born have come in contact with him? And how many would actually know? Even Te’ori did not until I told her.” Koda said. Koda quickly turned his head looking off into the distance, so did Te’ori. This confused Nana because obviously they were both sensing something, but it wasn’t behind them in the direction Law or Juma would be coming. Nana waited to say anything to allow Koda to first understand whatever he was detecting, Nana had complete faith in the Brawns senses.

“What is it?” Nana finally asked. Te’ori seemed confused trying to better figure out what she was sensing. Koda sniffed then stood on his hind legs sniffing the air to confirm what he was sensing.

“A shimana born, a male. And very strong. Stronger than any of us.” Koda said still remaining on his hind legs.

“He doesn’t feel like he has bad intentions.” Te’ori said.

“That’s because he doesn’t. He’s not even trying to conceal that he approaches. He’s walking downwind on purpose.” Koda said. Nana flipped out her gun.

“How can we be sure that he means no harm.?” Nana asked.

“When we detect one another we can feel intent whether it’s positive or negative, it’s the first thing we sense. In Juma’s case Te’ori and I could feel that he wants to kill us, with the person who approaches I don’t know about Te’ori, but I sense that he knows exactly who we are. He has come to help.” Koda said lowering himself to all four legs. Nana zoomed in getting her first sight of the approaching man. The first thing she noticed was his striking green eyes that stood out due to his dark skin. He was handsome. His brow was heavy, his features were chiseled down to his strong chin. He was very muscular and shirtless showing his well defined upper body. He wore tan leather suede pants that were loose, and dark brown leather boots that rose up to his knees. At his side resting in a scabbard was a sword, and on his back resting in a leather hold was a long staff that was made of dark wood. His hair was black and braided in cornrows.

“Are you certain Koda?” Nana asked again as the man approached, her gun at the ready.

“I mean you no harm.” Said a voice in Nana’s head as well as to the others, it was coming from the approaching stranger.

“Who are you?” Te’ori asked.

“I am Victus The Brave. Last of the Sun and Moon Tribe.” His voice was deep, there was strength in it. Te’ori noticed that Nana seemed to be surprised when she heard Victus introduce himself, but she said nothing.

“Sun and Moon Tribe? I know of your people through my files on Old America. Law wiped out your people two hundred years ago, it was presumed all were lost.” Nana said. Victus said nothing more until he stood before the group.

“You were ill informed robot. There is one descendant of the Sun and Moon Tribe that remains.” Victus said it coldly upon seeing Nana. His stare at her was uncaring. It was as if he held a grudge against her even though he did not know her. Te’ori took insult to how Victus spoke to Nana and how he acted toward her. She stepped in between Victus and Nana.

“You speak rudely to my Nana.” Te’ori said guardedly. She had to look up because Victus was so tall, he looked down at her his face showed kindness it threw her off.

“Besides I am no robot. I am an android!” Nana said feeling insulted. Victus looked up at Nana his face grimaced just at the sight of her it seemed.

“Robot, android. They are both lifeless shells pretending to be human.” Victus said coldly. He placed his hand on the handle of his sword, Te’ori looked down noticing this. Koda walked up to intervene.

“Greetings Victus, I am Prince Koda of the Brawn. Son of King Koju ruler of the Boki Forest.”

“Greetings Prince Koda, I have heard of the Brawn and their power. It is an honor.” Victus said while turning to face Koda. That was Koda’s intent.

“This is Te’ori healer of Hok Village.” Koda said introducing Te’ori to Victus. Victus looked down at Te’ori again with kindness.

“It is a pleasure Healer Te’ori.” Victus said. Te’ori smiled back, she couldn’t help it. Victus was very handsome. The most handsome man she had ever seen she thought to herself. Te’ori was flustered by Victus. “Orakel reached out to me and pleaded for me to come to your aid.”

“Pleaded?” Nana said curiously. Victus looked at Nana with great disdain.

“You heard me correctly robot.” Victus said sternly. Te’ori was broken from her spell that Victus caused, his attitude toward Nana had broken it. Then Te’ori realized something.

“How did you know that Nana wasn’t human? Did you somehow sense it?” Te’ori asked Victus. Victus looked Nana over with a frown.

“Her pale skin. The blonde hair. The blue eyes? Those are not human characteristics. From that it was not hard to detect that she is not human.” Victus said. Nana wanted so badly to retort to Victus’s cruel remarks but thought best not to. If what Koda said was true about Victus, they would need a warrior with Victus’s level of strength if they were to make it. Victus would be just what was needed for the group.

“That is cruel to say. I need to ask you to apologize to my Nana!” Te’ori replied to Victus.

“It is not needed Te’ori.” Nana said calmly. Koda, Victus, and Te’ori all turned quickly looking behind them, their attention taken away from the argument. Victus pulled his sword from the scabbard and walked past Te’ori and Nana his eyes stayed focused.

“I am afraid I do not have the strength to mask both Te’ori and Victus’s signature and myself. They know now where we are. The renwolves will be coming, they are the fastest among Law. And if they know where we are then So does Juma!” Koda said.

“We need to get to higher ground!” Nana said urgently. Darks clouds started to swirl in the valley. Lighting streaked across the sky.

“A storm forming this fast?” Victus said studying the clouds above.

“Then we have need to move with even greater haste!” Nana said.

“Why is that?” Te’ori asked.

“Look around you. We are in the valley.” Nana said.

“And this valley is known to flood heavily during a rainfall.” Koda finished. He sighed realizing that he would have to carry Nana and Te’ori yet again, but the current situation was causing him to be re energized. He lowered himself near Te’ori.

“Are you sure my friend?” Te’ori asked Koda.

“Yes I am. I will let no harm come to you. We will make it to high ground!” Koda protested. Nana walked past Koda who was surprised at first.

“Nana…?” Te’ori asked.

“I will be fine dearest Te’ori. I will be able to keep up. I only rode Koda before so I could focus on protecting us from a sneak attack. But we won’t have to worry about that now. I’m certain any who are following us have noticed the quickly forming storm. They won’t dare follow us now for risk of loosing their own lives! The storm is a curse and a blessing.” Nana said. Victus sheathed his sword and started jogging to high ground.

“Let’s go. Who knows how much time we have until the rains give us trouble.” Victus said. Thunder sounded heavily across the valley. Dark clouds gathered over head and the first drops of rain started to fall.

The village burned so brightly it lit up the night sky with a orangish hue. Only two made it out alive. Miles out of Old Las Vegas two men stared watching their village turn to ash as it was devoured by flames. Chief Vegas the leader of his people and his son Victus were the only two strong enough to fight their way out of a large army of Law soldiers that descended on their village at mid afternoon. Victus looked at his father seeing the tears being held back, this was not the time to mourn. The battle was not yet completed. Both men were covered in the blood of enemies and loved ones and comrades. Chief Vegas held an ax that was formed in the style of his tribe. The long wooden handle was curved near the blade. It was the ax that had been handed down for many generations only held by the Chief. Chief Vegas was average height with above average build. His eyes seem to light up in the display of fire that lay out before him. His skin was very dark as was his son who stood beside him. He wore the traditional cornrow braids that went halfway down his back.

“Your Mother Wind Song, your younger sister Bird Song, the tribal council and all of the others. They have went on ahead of us to rejoin our ancestors.” Chief Vegas said, his voice was even and firm. Victus placed his hand on his fathers shoulder to console, he stood much taller than Chief Vegas. He was also of heavier stock and far more muscular. His hair was braided in corn rows like his father that went halfway down his back. In his hand he held a long sword that Chief Vegas had found in the ruins near the village when Victus was a little boy. It was not a traditional weapon of his people, but Chief Vegas felt his finding of the sword was of divine purpose and that it was meant for Victus.

“There will be no more of our people to look after. The long line of Vegas Chiefs will end with you my son.”

Chief Vegas briefly looked over at his son there was a deep sadness in his eyes. When the Chief became too old to lead he would pass on the title to his son, and then the son would be the new leader, the new Vegas. He knew Victus would be the last of his people, it was very troubling to Chief Vegas, yet there was comfort when his eyes set back to the fire in the distance.

“The gods have touched you and breathed the shimana into you. And for this you have been able to do things that no ordinary man could do. You are the greatest among us and for this you will thrive long after I have gone.” Chief Vegas said, there was great pride in his voice. “Soon Sire and Juma will come and the final battle will take place, for I will not run. I do not expect to survive my confrontation with Juma and this does not sadden me, for I will be rejoined with my ancestors.” Chief Vegas paused in deep reflection staring off into the distance. Victus did not seem to be at peace like his father. His thoughts were about betrayal.

“We should have never let the pale one come into our village! He deceived us, he brought Law and wiped out our people from the earth!” Victus said, his voice was full of hatred.

“I feel there is more to Sire’s betrayal than we come to realize. Juma has magic that controls Sire now, this is what I feel. Sire’s actions are not his own. Sire did many great things for our people, and he made life easier. He will be remembered by our people for this.”

“I will only remember that the pale skinned Sire wiped out my people!” Victus said, his voice shaky.

“My son, where have you learned this hatred for I did not teach it to you. Many did not wish to welcome Sire into the village because he looked different, and some said that his blue eyes were the color of devils. But Sire’s actions proved to me that he was a good man, and that the gods were with him. Maybe in time you will learn to forgive Sire for the actions that he can not control. For how can you not see that Sire is the slave of Juma, but not by his own will? You too loved Sire as a brother for he greatly helped Wind Song and I to bring you up to manhood. And he was your greatest protector, you can not deny this. You speak with hatred toward Sire because your heart grieves. Your heart is confused so now you see that Sire is different than us when before you did not.”

“I always knew Sire was different. He looked nothing like my people! And what is more he never aged! Death can not touch him! Maybe his pale skin death fears!” Victus said, Chief Vegas shook his head in shame.

“You say that Sire was different from your people yet so are you. You carry a power that none of the tribe has or ever had. And the only one that helped you understand and harness that power was Sire. And you also share similarities.”

“I look nothing like Sire!” Victus said feeling detested by his fathers words.

“I did not mean that you look anything like Sire. He does not age which means death will never come for him. Death will never come for you. Let me tell you of a time when you were a boy. I remember when I took you into the ruins to find your warrior name as my father did before me, and his father before him. When we were in the temple of the ancient warriors we had made our way to the higher places of the temple. I had become distracted and took my eye from you only for a moment. You were close to the edge and lost your footing, you fell to the ground which was far below. I cried out knowing you couldn’t survive such a fall. And when I looked down I saw that your body was bloodied and bruised and lifeless. I ran down to retrieve your body, to take you back so that Wind Song and I could mourn you. When I came down you were seated at the foot of a broken statue, healed and alive. The gods had breathed life back into you and healed your body. At the foot of the statue I noticed words, most of which were faded or crumbled from the ages. But one word I did see, the gods brought it to my attention, I am sure of it! And that word I gave to you as your warrior name.” Chief Vegas said.

“I never knew…” Victus said feeling humbled, Chief Vegas smiled in reflection.

“It was a story that I planned on telling you in my old age. When it would be the time you inherited the title of Vegas from me.” Chief Vegas continued to smile, but that smile was wiped away upon seeing two figures walking toward him in the distance from the burning village. “Never forget your people my son, for you are Victus the brave for which I named you. The greatest warrior of our people. Shimana born, chosen by the gods. You will be the last of the Sun and Moon Tribe. But you will carry our legacy and start our way of life anew when it is time for the gods are with you. And in this my heart rejoices.”

One of the figures in the distance started running toward the two men at an amazing speed. Chief Vegas saw the man as he approached.

“Sire is yours Victus!” Chief Vegas said, he kept his eyes on the other figure further back who was still just casually walking to them.

“But what about Juma? Maybe I should fight him instead?” Victus said concerned.

“Do not disgrace me in my last moments Victus. I want to fight the one responsible for wiping out our people! I want my people to welcome me with open arms in the realm of rebirth for fighting bravely to my last breath! The ancestors are all watching!” Chief Vegas said, he kept his eyes fixed on the slowly approaching Juma. Sire rushed forward his eyes fixed on Chief Vegas, Victus saw this. He vowed that Sire would not reach his father. Victus rushed out meeting Sire halfway. Bringing up his sword Victus brought it down diagonally, Sire stepped back avoiding the downward strike. From his left arm a long blade sprang up allowing his hand to flip all the way back to give the blade room. The base of the long blade was round protruding out from the forearm. Sire’s hand locked around the base gripping it.

“Your bloodline ends here Victus! Your father named you properly!” Sire said laughing maniacally. His eyes showed something beyond mad, Victus had never seen Sire looking this way ever. Sire began swiping his sword back and forth, Victus skillfully dodged the attacks and from time to time he blocked with his sword.

Chief Vegas was not watching his son do battle with Sire, the entire time he watched Juma slowly walk toward him until Juma stood a few feet from him.

“It is true what they say about the Sun and Moon Tribe, all of them were brave warriors. They died with honor. Down to the last man, woman, and child. And now you stand before me Chief Vegas, bravely awaiting your own death. You could have fled, but you did not.” Juma said. Chief Vegas nodded his head in agreement.

“It is true as you have spoken. The men, women, and children of The Sun and Moon tribe all faced their deaths with honor. For it is our way. And I their leader am ready to join them.” Chief Vegas said calmly. He brought his battle axe out in front of him and hunched over slightly into a fighting stance. Juma was impressed.

“Good…” Juma said. He ran forward as Chief Vegas brought up his axe with both hands. But Juma moved with such speed that Chief Vegas didn’t even have time to bring the axe down. Chief Vegas’s eyes went wide, he gasped while looking down seeing Juma’s arm was already through his chest. Juma reached up grabbing the base of the axe and tossed it. Juma locked eyes with Chief Vegas. “Go to them.” Juma whispered. Juma pulled his bloodied arm out of Chief Vegas’s chest then pushed the Chief back, Chief Vegas fell backwards to the ground giving out a loud sigh as life left him. Victus saw his father and cried out to him. Sire smiled.

“Do you know what your name means? Do you know the definition of Victus? Of course not! You fools merely go into the ruins of Old Las Vegas and the first word you see on a building, or an old book it is considered divine and you make that word a warrior name for a male who has come of age.” Sire said laughing hysterically. He stepped forward, Victus stepped back to stay out of range. Victus glanced over at his father and could sense that his life force was gone, Victus was stunned. Sire’s laughter caught his attention. “Your name means defeated, conquered, subdued!” Sire began swinging his sword from left to right, Victus blocked them weakly. He glanced over seeing Juma standing over his father. Victus replayed in his mind what his father had just told him.

“At the foot of the statue there were words where you were seated, most of which were faded or crumbled from the ages. But one word I did see, the gods brought it to my attention, I am sure of it! And that word I gave you as your warrior name!” Chief Vegas’s voice echoed in Victus’s mind.

“You and your people have most certainly become conquered and now they are extinct. Let me help you finish the circle!” Sire said tauntingly.

The words that Sire said sank in and his fathers own words combated against them. Victus lowered his sword being distracted by the battle that went on within his mind. Juma saw the conflict as weakness, it was disgusting to him.

“Kill the humanite! Send him to hell!” Juma yelled to Sire. Sire raised his sword above his head, Victus did not seem to notice, his eyes were blank. Sire brought his sword down to finish the last descendant of the Sun and Moon Tribe. Chief Vega’s voice echoed a final time in Victus’s mind, but this time it was loud and strong.

“And that word I gave you as your warrior name!” Chief Vegas’s voice rang out. It filled Victus with determination as if his father stood right by him.” Opening his eyes Victus saw Sire’s sword coming down upon him. Victus’s eyes began glowing a white energy, the same energy flowed out of his hand into his sword causing the outer edges of the sword blade. Sire saw this and was suspicious of it for he had never seen this before. He continued his downward strike, Victus brought his sword upwards with greater speed. Victus’s sword met Sire’s breaking the blade in half. Sire’s eyes widened realizing what would happen next. In that brief moment Sire regained all motor functions, he stared into Victus’s eyes with appreciation. “Thank you…” Sire uttered just as Victus’s sword rose up slicing through his chest protruding out of his back. The sword continued rising upwards slicing through the chest, neck, and head splitting it all in half. There was the brief crackling sound of electricity, Sire fell to the ground before expiring. Juma watched in satisfaction.

“You have reached deep within yourself and have discovered your full potential!” Juma said to Victus who stood staring at Juma with white glowing eyes of energy, his face full of rage. Victus has no words to speak, only action. Running toward Juma he yelled out a battlecry raising his sword high above him. Juma lowered slightly then rushed toward Victus meeting him. Juma raised while striking Victus in the solar plexus, it caused Victus to fly back at high velocity crashing into an old building that was a few stories high. The building came down on Victus. Juma laughed. “But you have realized your full potential too late!”

Victus was dizzy, he fought to clear his mind, to regain his breath. His vision was dark and blurred. Juma was already standing over the rubble, he reached down breaking through it and grabbed Victus by the throat pulling him forcefully out of the rubble. Raising Victus above him Juma smiled and squeezed Victus’s throat until Victus fainted. After that Juma tossed Victus over his shoulder and slowly walked back to where the fire raged. Looking around Juma saw the ruins of a very tall and broken building. He walked over to the building studying it. He found the fire exit and made his way up to the top of the building with Victus still over his shoulder and unconscious. Standing close to the edge of the roof Juma looked down at the raging fire below. He tossed Victus off the edge into the raging fire below. Victus body was consumed by the flames. Juma stared a moment to make sure that the fire had taken Victus. When he was certain that Victus perished Juma turned and left. His job here was done.

After Nana set fire to the forest it slowed all renwolf activity. Most likely the packs fled that area of the Boki all together for fear of the fire. It was something Nana wanted to keep from doing, but in the end she had to, there were just too many renwolves. Koda ran for hours to make distance between them and the packs taking advantage of the forest fire that kept the renwolves at bay. Only once that the first signs of sunlight came did Koda decide to take a rest. He slowed in a particular area that had caught his attention. Nana slid off Koda’s back seeing that he was searching for something and that something was food. Although Nana brought food she knew it would not be enough to sustain someone as large as Koda. Walking near a tree Koda sniffed the trunk of the tree then looked upward.

“If you’ll excuse me Te’ori, I need to climb the tree. There’s a very large bees nest within it up there.” Koda said kindly. Te’ori slid off Koda’s back, the Brawn quickly made his way up the tree. Te’ori caught sight of the heavy smoke the filled the morning sky off in the distance. Her eyes watered and her face soured.

“Did you have to do that Nana?” Te’ori crossed her arms, her voice was shaky and emotional. She grew up here and knew the affects of a forest fire and the death and destruction it could bring.

“I had no choice Te’ori, there were just too many of them. I didn’t want to do it, but it was the only way the disperse the renwolf packs. Because of that we now have a better chance of getting out of the Boki.” Nana protested.

“But at what cost? How far will the fire spread? When will it stop?” Te’ori said. Nana had no expression. She was however annoyed with Te’ori. How could Te’ori not see that Nana set fire to the forest to protect Te’ori’s life?

“What Nana did was the only alternative however destructive it might have been. My father is the lord of this forest and I still vindicate her actions, it bought us time.” Koda said, he was plunging his large paw into the side of the tree where he had made a hole big enough to pull out portions of the honey comb. He hungrily ate the nest portion by portion. It was strange to see such a large creature up that high easily clinging to the tree. He was already sniffing the air for more food. The honey would only be a temporary fix. Koda looked down at Nana. “If you could be so kind, there is a deer a quarter mile to your left. I’d appreciate it if you could kill it and bring it back to me? I fear I’d lose the energy I got from eating the honey chasing the deer.”

Nana looked up at Koda then scanned the area that the Brawn mentioned, she detected the deer eating some berries a quarter mile away just as Koda said.

“Of course.” Nana said then she took off toward the deer. It was an easy kill. She switched her mini gun to single fire and killed the deer with one shot to the head before the deer even knew she was hunting it. Koda was watching Nana from the tree scraping out the last remnants of honey.

“Nice shot. Maybe you should be using that single fire mode over your rapid fire mode with the renwolves? It seems more accurate.” Koda said to Nana. Nana tossed the deer over her shoulder and started running back to the tree where Koda was. What Koda suggested was correct, the single fire mode was more accurate. Why didn’t she think of that, Nana thought to herself. She instantly knew that it was the emotions that she was dealing with that had something to do with her battle processor. Her battle processor helped her make lighting quick decisions while in a confrontation with an enemy, her emotions were affecting that somewhat. They were a distraction. Nana knew that until they made it to Orakel, she would have to find a better way to not let her emotions get in the way of her tactical decision making. Nana wondered how humans could live with so much emotion. She needed emotions to bring up Te’ori when she was a child so that she feel loved. But Nana could turn off her emotions when she needed to. But not anymore for some reason. Nana realized that she would have to endure until she got to Orakel. It was quite frustrating. Nana dropped the deer carcass at the base of the tree that Koda was already scrambling down in anticipation of eating the deer. Nana walked off and sat near where Te’ori stood resting her back against a tree and crossed her legs.

“Thank you!” Koda told Nana. When Koda got to the bottom of the tree he grabbed the deer carcass and went behind some bushes to eat in peace. Koda knew that it bothered Te’ori to see him eating other animals. But Te’ori didn’t judge her dear friend, she just didn’t want to see him killing or eating other animals in front of her.

“No problem.” Nana said before closing her eyes.

“You going to take a nap?” Te’ori said deliberately picking on Nana. Nana kept her eyes closed when she spoke.

“We will rest here for an hour before moving on. I suggest you grab something to eat from the food I packed and rest some. We will be pressing hard for the valley, we need to make it to high ground before nightfall. The valley is too open and will leave us vulnerable.”

Te’ori did not reply. She knew that the journey to and through the valley would be a strenuous one. Once in the valley they would have to make their way up the Valdous Mountains that surrounded the valley. Once they made it up the Valdous Mountains they would officially be out of the Boki. Any other route would take weeks to be out of the forest, but most did not take the journey through the Valdous Mountains due to how difficult the trek was. Koda came from out of the bushes and sat beside Te’ori. He started licking his paws to clean the remnants of blood from eating the deer.

“You know, the journey itself through the Valdous will be the easy part. For a human yes it would be difficult, but neither of us including Nana are that.” Koda said. Te’ori looked over at him squinting. She could smell the blood on his paws. He stopped licking his paws and looked up at her realizing it. He took his paws and plunged them into the ground digging them into the earth to mask the smell of blood that was on them. Koda pulled his massive paws from the ground and rubbed the dirt between his paws. The smoke was further away but it now filled a large area, below fire raged through the forest.

“Do you think things will ever go back to normal here?” Te’ori said staring at the raging flames tear through the forest. “So much death and destruction. The peace of the Boki has been disrupted.” Te’ori realized she could smell the burning forest it saddened her.

“My father will purge Law from the Boki and bring order back. But much attention has been brought to the Brawn, the Dark Dreamer knew we were here before but now? After we have come against his armies? He will be relentless in his pursuit of revenge against us. But I have faith that the Brawn will prosper in the long run. The Boki we know well, it will protect us. Law will come back after they have been kicked out and the forest will swallow them all.” Koda was confident when he spoke.

“Do you believe that? There are so many of them here, how can the Brawn ever expect to clear them all out?”

“There might be many of the enemy here, but the Brawn outnumber them all. We are just spread through out the forest in small clans, but we are united under one king. When my father the King of the Brawn calls his people to him, we will rise up against Law and surely crush them.” Koda lay his head down on his crossed paws closing his eyes. He was finished talking for now, he needed his food to digest. Te’ori saw this as a sign Koda wished to rest. She decided that she should as well.

“Te’ori!” Nana said telepathically, her voice was urgent. Te’ori opened her eyes thinking she had just fallen asleep but she had actually been sleeping for twenty minutes. Te’ori looked over at seeing Nana facing off staring into the distance, she was focused and concerned. “I am detecting signatures by the hundreds coming this direction!” Nana said. Koda was already walking toward Te’ori.

“Do you feel it?” Koda asked Te’ori. At first Te’ori didn’t know what Koda meant until she actually did feel it. It was the presence of another Shimana born. There was nothing pure or good about the intent of the energy they felt, it was sinister. Te’ori looked at Koda intently.

“Juma…” Te’ori said. Nana quickly turned staring at Te’ori her face was locked in fear. She knew that Shimana born could sense each other within a two mile radius, that meant he was very near.

“We need to leave!” Nana said urgently, she reached down grabbing the supply pack and tossed it over her shoulder. Koda stood next to Te’ori.

“Hop on.” Koda said to Te’ori. He lowered himself allowing Te’ori to leap on his back easier. Nana quickly leapt on Koda as well. Koda ran off heading toward the valley. If they could make it to the mountains in time it was possible for them to make it more difficult for them to be found. The Valdous Mountains were full of new breeds of tall thick trees that could survive higher altitudes. This was going to be a tiring run for safety.

Solace stared at his captive, his knee on the Law soldiers throat with just enough pressure to keep the soldier from making any sound. His other knee was on the soldiers arm to keep the soldier from getting up. This was an interrogation but no words needed to be spoken. Solace placed his fore finger on the side of the soldiers face by the temple, this caused the soldier to be put into a trance like state. All the information that Solace needed was pulled from the soldiers mind via his finger as the nanites tapped completely into the soldiers mind reading his thoughts. The soldier was helpless, he could not resist. After a few moments Solace had all of the information that was needed. Solace looked away from the soldier realizing now the direction Nana and Te’ori had gone initially. From the soldiers thoughts he knew that Nana and Te’ori had went to the river. Solace could at least formulate a plan since he had a better idea of what Law was doing It seemed Law was heavily relying upon the renwolf to track the two women. Valion called out high above in the star filled night sky, Solace knew that it was a warning. But it was a warning too late.

“You were always good at camouflage, better than your father Aspirant to be sure. But then again he was just human, you are not.” Said a mans voice near the bush Solace was hiding. Solace turned peering out of the bush, he remained silent. In the light of the torches that brightened the village Solace saw an old familiar face. The mans face was pale skinned, his eyes light blue, and his hair long and golden blonde. “Come out Tracker Solace, although I can not see any signatures that you are there due to the shimana within you, I can see that soldier you are interrogating.” Swain said, he laughed softly. “I saw your handy work near the north end of the Boki. You made quick work of those soldiers, only a shimana born could do that so easily. I’ve been searching for you ever since Juma summoned me to find you here. Not too difficult really, I knew you’d come to Hok in search of the humanite girl. She’s very popular it seems.”

Solace slowly stood walking out of the bushes, there was no need to hide any longer, he looked at Swain.

“So you gave up on finding my father?” Solace said. For a brief moment Swains eyes showed sorrow.

“I am under Juma’s control. Go before I kill you!” Swain said quickly before dropping to his knees, his fingers digging deeply into the earth. He struggled to break free of Juma’s control, Solace could see this. Swain looked up snapping at Solace. “Go!” He yelled. Soldiers had taken notice of what was going on but waited to do anything because they knew Swain was under Juma’s control. This would be amusing to watch. Solace reached into a small leather pouch that was tied around his waistline and pinched a small amount of the dust contents from within while stepping away slowly being sure not to turn his back to Swain. Swain closed his eyes and once he opened them again Solace knew that Juma was in full control. Swain stood up sprinting toward Solace his eyes full of rage his face looking feral. Solace pulled his fingers from out of the small pouch flicking the dust into the air causing an explosive bright light temporarily blinding Swain who stopped his forward progress. Swain covered his face with one arm and began cursing out loud. When the brightness dissipated Solace was gone. Swain looked around attempting to at least track any motion or sound from Solace before he got away, but whatever was in that dust Solace tossed was messing with Swains tracking systems. His vision was blurred blended with a crackling sound that disrupted his hearing caused by the dust. The soldiers were scurrying about shouting to one another for possible sightings of Solace. They feared what Juma would do if he found out that they did nothing when a shimana born was in their midst. Swain knew that Solace by now was already out of the village, deep inside he sighed in relief.

“Well played Tracker, I expected no less. Let the hunt begin.” Swain said under his breath. The forest was full of Law soldiers as well as renwolf packs by the thousands. And above all else Juma himself was out there somewhere searching for Te’ori. Swain knew that Solace or Te’ori might not make it out of the forest alive. Only time would tell, but their chances were very slim.

Solace sprinted with amazing speed. Orakel has told Solace that surely he had to have been the fastest humanite that he had seen in some time. His speed was amazing. Solace had already left Hok Village and was in the open field at Old Pass. He was aware that he could be seen easily, and that Law waited to ambush him but he wasn’t too concerned. There wasn’t a human alive that moved fast enough to make him concerned. Solace was a vain person, and it was all due to the power he acquired. He was used to the attention given him by others in his clan. He was treated as someone special. As he grew he never learned how to fear because there was no one for him to fear. He was handsome, he had power and skill that was above human standard. He was accustomed to being what he was. He was by no means a bad man, but most certain he knew that he was better than the others. It didn’t help matters that his clan viewed outsiders as primitives, lacking any true knowledge. Solace had a confidence that was even above that of his people. He had been given the title of the greatest Tracker by the council, a title only held by his father. Everything that Solace was only seemed to magnify and therefore justify his own thoughts and actions. Although he would not hesitate to help others, he also felt that he needed no help from anyone because he was capable of doing that on his own. When Orakel asked him to seek out Nana and Te’ori and aid them on their journey to Orakel’s lair Solace saw purpose in it. But there was also curiosity. Solace had never met another shimana born, and she was also around his age. Solace looked forward to meeting Te’ori and romancing her.

Solace ran across Old Pass hearing Law soldiers yelling out in anger as they spotted him up on the hill. At the moment there was no one in the open field taking up pursuit, Solace was moving too fast for them. From high above Solace could see what Valion was seeing. Both Solace and Valion could see quite well at night, and at the moment nothing was going to sneak up on Solace thanks to Valion’s back up. Solace started slowing down upon seeing a small pack of four renwolves making their way toward him from the open field. Instead of running his mind started to hatch an idea. When Solace interrogated the Law soldier he was only able to get basic information. But if he interrogated a renwolf he would get much more accurate information. Solace knew that renwolves were connected telepathically, and what one renwolf knew, so did they all. If any renwolf came in contact with Nana and Te’ori, Solace would be able to know exact locations.

Solace slowed some more while pulling a metal handle from the side of his belt. It was was polished black to conceal it better from light reflection. At the top and the handle grip and at the bottom electrical energy sprang forth in form creating a bow. Solace kept his eyes focused on the open field seeing the renwolf pack quickly approach. Solace continued to run toward the pack while bringing his bow out in front of him. His free hand came forward and as his fingers passed the center of the bow an electrical chord formed and in Solace’s fingers an electrical arrow quickly shaped. Valion spotted back on the hill Swain who had been watching Solace. Swains right hand flipped revealing his mini gun. Valion circled back around toward Swain, a thin piece of metal pushed out from the birds chest area, it was a weapon. Swain was no fool. Although Solace was Swain’s initial target, he knew that first he would have to contend with Valion. Raising his mini gun Swain opened fire on Valion who swerved, the laser fire missed him. Valion shot his weapon at Swain who side stepped the laser striking a soldier behind him. Solace knew what was going on with Valion and Swain but remained focused on the approaching renwolf pack. Releasing the energy arrow it shot forward racing toward the pack, the first renwolf the arrow came upon side stepped it and the arrow curved slightly tracking the renwolf’s motion before entering through the head. The massive electric shock destroyed the nanites within it killing the host instantly, but the arrow didn’t disappear. Solace glanced at the next target and the arrow shot toward the next renwolf shooting through it killing it as well. This occurred until the arrow finally disappeared. One renwolf remained. Solace rushed toward the surprised animal grabbing it by the throat, he quickly put his bow away and placed his fore finger on the beasts face. The renwolf instantly went into a trance once Solace started extracting information.

“Keep Swain off my back long enough for me to get what I need.” Solace said to Valion who was already busy with Swain. Swain kept dodging Valion’s single burst laser fire. After all, Swain was not human; he was an android with abilities above that of a human. Swain glanced down at Solace seeing what was taking place.

“No!” Swain yelled out angrily and started running down the hill toward Solace. Solace’s back was turned to Swain, he could not at the moment defend himself, he needed to extract more information from the renwolf so Solace would have to rely on Valion at least for a few moments. Swain picked up speed running toward Solace, Law soldiers were further back also taking up pursuit but they were much slower. The soldiers would not wait this time to see the outcome between Solace and Swain, they would do the job expected of them by their master. “Do not pull out your rifles! Do not touch the humanite male! He is mine!” Swain screamed out as he picked up speed. His hand flipped back out replacing his mini gun, he wanted to finish this hand to hand. As Swain ran he continued to avoid Valion’s laser fire. Solace remained beside the renwolf, his back still turned to Swain who drew even closer to him. Solace almost gave up upon hearing Valion call out to him in warning, the birds screeching echoing in the night sky. But Solace could not be distracted, the thoughts of the renwolf flooded through his mind. As he saw various events through the collective thoughts of the renwolf he saw Nana tossing a renwolf into a pit before snapping its neck. Solace also saw the hate that was in all renwolves for Nana killing their kind. And then he saw Koda running with Nana and Te’ori on his back as they fled the safe zone. Solace released his finger from the renwolf as he heard Valion screeching behind him. Turning Solace looked up seeing Valion clawing at Swain’s face with its steel claws, the eagle flapping its wings rapidly to stay in front of Swain’s face. Swain swatted Valion away to reveal cuts all over his face. Valion rebounded and shot again hitting Swain in the chest during his distraction of his face cut up by Valion’s claws. But even then his synthetic skin was repairing itself. Solace pulled out his bow and shot an arrow through the renwolf’s head, the arrow disappeared upon impact. Solace drew back his bow this time his arrow was pointed at Swain.

“Take to the sky Valion!” Solace ordered. Valion rose up following Solace’s orders. He flew high to avoid further attacks from Swain then disappeared into the clouds above. Swain looked over at Solace and smiled, he didn’t seem too concerned that an arrow was pointed in his direction. The arrow was released and sped toward Swain who turned his upper body once the arrow was about to strike his chest. Swain then sprinted toward Solace, the arrow bent sharply turning back toward Swain who showed a crooked smile. Swain did not look back when the arrow was about to strike, he merely extended his arm opening his hand and from his palm a brief flash of light appeared in time with the arrow strike. The arrow exploded on the other side of Swain’s protective barrier. Swain reached out grabbing Solace by the throat with both hands. Solace rolled backward grabbing both of Swain’s wrists as he placed his feet on Swain’s front area of his hips. Solace rolled on his back tossing Swain over him while pulling both of Swain’s hands from his throat. Swain flailed then twisted landing on his feet facing Solace. Swain rose with a smirk on his face.

“Come now dear Solace. Have you forgotten that I was once your guardian? I know everything about you including how you fight and all of your little tricks.” Swain was quite satisfied. Law soldiers now surrounded Solace and Swain, Solace did not like these odds.

“If you want to fight me, it will have to be just the two of us. I do not trust your lackeys or your new master.” Solace said. He flipped backwards onto his hands then pushed upward landing behind one of the Law soldiers taking the soldier by surprise as Solace grabbed the soldier by the neck with one arm. With the other arm Solace reaches into his leather pouch once again grabbing dust. With one arm he snapped the soldiers neck and rushed toward Swain who stood his ground bringing up his guard. Solace flicked the dust out in front of him causing brilliant light, then flicked again behind him. The brightness made the soldiers and Swain cover their eyes. Swain kneeled bringing up a force field in case Solace attacked him, but Swain knew all to well that this was merely a distraction for Solace to escape. The light faded but this time Swain protected himself from the electrical disruptions the dust made to his systems prior. Swain looked around the field, Solace was gone or either hiding in the tall grass.

“Spread and and search every area of the field!” Swain ordered to the soldiers who quickly fanned out in search of Solace. Swain was irritated. Solace had slipped twice now through his fingers by way of his gorila tactics. He must not make it out of the Boki. Although the forest was extremely large, here Nana, Te’ori, Koda, and Solace could be contained in a particular area. Once outside the Boki they might be able to make it much harder to be found. Once outside the Boki who knew which direction any of them would go? And if Solace was allowed to reach the others the group would then become more formidable for Law, and for Swain. Juma though was another question. His power could very well be enough to stop them all. But Swain did not know the whereabouts of his master. Juma was out there in the forest in search of the others. Obviously Juma was having a difficult a time as much as Swain was.