Deacon Marino opened the door to the church with Tarik following behind him. “Have you ever set foot in a church?” The Deacon asked, he laughed slightly teasing Tarik. Guiding Tarik down the center or the church, Tarik saw a large statue of Jesus with arms extended in welcome at the head of the church on the stage. Deacon Marino noticed Tarik staring at the statue almost in awe. “He was one of us you know, it is said he had the most power that no gift had before him, or after” Deacon Marino held his gaze on the statue, head held high in adoration. The Deacons attention turned toward the front door, his eyebrows pushing down bunching together at the center of his head, he had sensed something that Tarik didn’t. Someone was entering the church. “Who is it?” He called out, his voice echoing. It surprised Tarik, he didn’t realize that anyone was there until he saw a shadow move near the back of the chairs. He stepped behind the Deacon his little heart fluttering. Had the chained one found him again? The shadow came into the light showing a man that looked nothing like the chained one, Tarik eased upon seeing this yet it wasn’t an enjoyable sight to see. The stranger staggered holding his mid section tightly while hunched over. Blood oozed from in between his fingers that held the bloody wound. Deacon Marino rushed to the stranger just as he was about to fall. The Deacon held him up placing one hand on his wound. “It, it hurts…” The stranger forced out. Deacon Marino closed his eyes. “Be calm my son, Gods glory is with you through His vessel” The Deacon said calmly. His hand began to glow bright red, the stranger bucked as if something was being pulled out of him, and that’s what was happening; the Deacon was drawing out the wound healing the stranger. The strangers eyes lightened showing the realization that he was going to be alright. The red faded from the Deacons hand, he lowered it smiling at the stranger. “Thank you! I thought for sure I was a goner” the stranger remarked. “I can’t take the credit, for I am merely a vessel, all praise goes to God, the one who has blessed me with this gift” Deacon Marino humbly responded with a smile. “Who shot you?” The Deacon asked, the stranger laughed. “Shot me? Yea but he didn’t use no gun! It was a Shroud agent. Three of em!” Deacon Marino’s face became focused and concerned. “How far from the church were you when they attacked?” He asked urgently. The stranger responded proudly. “A good five miles or so away, back by the Latham Street bridge is where those bastards attacked me, but no worries, I shook em before I came here.” Deacon Marino rubbed his chin in deep thought, the stranger saw that the Deacon was concerned. “Hey it’s cool, they didn’t follow me, I made sure I doubled back before coming here!” He said in an attempt to relax the Deacon. “They are shroud agents I’m sure they will be hunting for you still” Deacon Marino began glancing about in various directions, Tarik remained silent, the stranger seemed too at ease and was determined to convince Deacon Marino that everything was fine, but before he could speak the Deacon raised his hand to silence him as he continued looking about. Finally his eyes fixed on something. “Three life signatures over a mile back coming from the direction of the Latham Street bridge. They’ve picked up your trail again, and from the looks of it they’re making their way here. I suggest you make a hasty retreat my friend and get as far and away as possible!” Deacon Marino said. The stranger nodded in protest. “Now look Deacon, I can help! It’s my fault that they’re coming here!” Deacon Marino smiled as usual looking calm as ever. “They aren’t here yet, I will go and greet them” The stranger became more insistent. “That’s three Shroud agents man! Three of em! And one of em shoots telekinetic bullets from his fists! That’s how I got that hole in my stomach! You’re gonna need my help!” He protested. Tarik just looked on observing the Deacon. He was amazed at the level of calm the exuded from him. “I’ll be fine my son, God is with me. What I need you to do is please go as I’ve instructed. If by any chance others were called in to help seek you out then this church would be found out, many of the gifted rely on this church and on me. I can’t afford loosing this place, please go” his voice was even and calm. The stranger shook his head in disbelief. “Imagine if you came here yet the church was gone? What would the outcome be then?” Deacon Marino asked. The stranger looked down then back up. “I’d be dead by now…” He said staring at the Deacon. He gave off a slight smile. “Thank you” he said before disappearing into thin air. Tarik stood up looking about the room surprised by the sudden disappearance of the stranger. The Deacon kept his gaze on the life signatures that his gift was detecting. “Stay here child, I’ll be right back” The Deacon said. He turned walking out the front door. Tarik was starting to see how aggressive the Shroud was at hunting the gifted, he was not aware yet that this was only the beginning.

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