A few years had passed since Judge Moses has expelled Tarik from his sanctuary, he told Tarik never to return unless he had wiped the poison from him. The sun was slowly setting, Tarik sat upon a motorcycle driving at half throttle causally coasting along a lone country road. Much had changed these past years. Tarik was considered an outsider to the gifted, word quickly spread that Judge Moses had kicked him out of the sanctuary. And although he was an outsider to them he had certain services that some of the gifted required. For a fee he would protect them or hunt down and kill Shroud soldiers. He had no fear of them, and in fact there was only hate, there was no room in Tarik for any other emotion but hate when it came to the Shroud. To the gifted he became a legend of sorts, one who had no fear of the Shroud and hunted them. In a way Tarik was admired, yet feared. No longer one of the gifted because he broke spiritual law, after all one of the gifted were never to make money by using ones gift, Tarik charged a wage for his services. He no longer cared for spiritual law, it was not his way. He was not accepted as one of the gifted, he refused to be one of the Shroud. Among the gifted when one could not be part of either faction they were considered a half light, not fully good, not fully evil but somewhere in between. The title half light was something Tarik did not like. To him it was just another place that others decided to put him. It reminded him of how Judge Moses tried to put him in his place, that didn’t work out too well. He increased the speed of the motorcycle squeezing the handle bars. Damn them all, if he was to be a half light then this was something that he would enjoy being.

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They had been on the run for days. She ran from the destruction of the place she called home, her eyes wide stricken with desperate fear. She firmly held Moses’ hand not even realizing that she was pulling him so forcefully. Her desperation took root controlling her actions. Her name was Irma, her life hadn’t been a good one, the only true blessing that she felt she ever had was her eight year old son Moses. She was born to slave parents, she’d never known her father he died prior to her birth. Her mother was sold to a new master leaving strangers to take care of her. When Irma was ten years old she was in turn sold to a new master. At the time she lived in Georgia as a house servant. Her new master was adventurous and was moving his family out west, the new frontier it was called. Irma with several other slaves were purchased and the plan was they would help the new master tend to his new home. Irma was afraid on the long ride to the west and with good reason. There were stories of savage natives that killed any who trespassed on their territory. That was interesting to Irma that the whites called the natives savages when she was owned by whites, and treated nothing remotely that a respectable human being would treat another. She had been molested by a few grown white men, but thankfully she’d never been raped. She’d been warned by other female slaves that this would be an eventuality. It was torture to not know when it would happen. The simple fact that the supposed savages were merely ones protecting their homeland was also intriguing to Irma. The whites were the foreigners, even she considered herself not of this land, or maybe she just felt that way because she was merely treated as property and not a human being. The trip was relatively peaceful on the way to Colorado, and her new master was a pretty good man and treated his slaves well, the only mark against him was the simple fact that he owned slaves. His wife on the other was very crude, and since Irma was the one who aided the masters wife with her two daughters Irma got to always be reminded that she was never equal to the two daughters. She was beaten from time to time because she didn’t know her place according to the masters wife. Aside from the occasional beatings she felt pretty good about living there. That all changed when a small band of Comanche raiders struck the settlement. A few slaves were spared including Irma. She’d never seen a native before, she was both filled with fear and curiosity. Over all she was joyous because she knew she would be free or so she thought. The terrible end result was now she became a slave to the Comanche instead of the whites. They were savages after all. She was however treated slightly better among the tribe but not by much.
She was looked down upon for her dark skin and different appearance, it was blatant. At least she didn’t have to ever worry about being raped, that was a foolish thought indeed. For on her fourteenth birthday she was raped by one of the older boys from the tribe. What was worse was that it wasn’t viewed as a crime. And when it was time she gave birth by herself and only God knew how she came through that unscathed or worse. Life was much harder in the tribe, the father of her son never acknowledged that he was the father, why would he? That would mean he committed the rape to begin with. And although life was hard among the Comanche tribe Irma at least had her baby son Moses to comfort her. She gave him the name of the biblical prophet who had brought his people out of bondage, a man directed by God himself. Moses was a suitable uplifting name for her son. The story of Moses was one that brought hope to many slaves. And so Irma became accustomed to her life among the Comanche as a slave, she worked without causing problems so she was pretty much free to do as she pleased, she was much freer as a slave for the Comanches, than she was for the whites but still she was a slave. Alas she was never destined for peace. In early morning the American Army happened across the Comanche’s and all hell broke lose. It was more a massacre than a battle, the Comanche were taken by surprise. Because Irma didn’t look like one of the Comanche she wasn’t targeted. She fled not looking back fearful to be in the clutch of the whites again. She started to slow, her eyes looking weak. Finally she dropped to the ground. In her fear and desperation to escape with her son Irma didn’t realize that she’d been shot in the back, the bullet penetrating her right lung. She rolled over gasping, Moses dropped to the ground crying out to his mother. This scene played out for many hours before Irma finally passed away. At least she was truly free.
Tarik reminded Moses of himself in the early years when his gift first manifested. He wielded such power, and Moses used that power to strike down anyone who stood in his way. His rage in those days was much like Tarik’s now. Hundreds of years passed before he crossed paths with another Judge. They fought to a draw, there was no winner. Since he couldn’t win all that Judge Moses could do was listen. It took almost another hundred years for him to calm and finally accept his role as Judge. Tarik was out there now in the world, his potential was staggering, his power could one day rival any. With that kind of possible power that could eventually be his who would he listen too? Deacon Marino was a kind and loving man who tried his hardest to change Tarik, yet that darkness within always remained clinging to his soul. Judge Moses sought to succeed where his friend had failed. Years ago Judge Moses was forced to send Tarik out of his sanctuary. Would there be anyone that Tarik would listen too? Judge Moses felt that if there was, it wouldn’t be someone anytime soon. And that was what concerned him. There was time for Tarik to roam free, to cause havoc, to indulge in his thirst for Shroud blood.

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Tarik extended his hand looking at the short Hispanic man with wild curly hair, he was a father of two young daughters, his wife was deceased. His name was Joe. “Do you have the required retainer?” Tarik asked sounding unconcerned. Joe’s wife was killed last year by Shroud soldiers that possessed speed like no one he’d witnessed. If not for a fleet of tour buses that pulled into the rest stop they were at they’d all be dead. The odd thing was that it wasn’t just a few, all five soldiers seemed to possess the same abilities. The word among the gifted was to get to sanctuary until things cooled down, that the Shroud had a new army that was capable of wiping out the gifted that’s why Joe hired Tarik, to make sure that his family made it safely to sanctuary. Tarik refused to take him to sanctuary but promised that he would set him close enough. Joe pulled out a small wad of cash then paused before handing it over to Tarik’s waiting open hand. “You sure you can stop these new soldiers? I heard you were good, but these new ones…” Joe said his voice slightly shaking. Tarik glanced down at the much shorter man eyes annoyed. “I’ve killed several of their kind already!”
“Yes but the ones I saw last year..” Joe said nervously.
“Are no different than any other Shroud member that has fallen before me!” Tarik responded angrily.
“So you’ve crossed paths with the seekers then?” Joe asked cocking his head slightly and curiously. Tarik was surprised to hear the name seekers, he’d heard it before. Word among the gifted spoke of these new soldiers of the Shroud. Tarik had never clashed with one yet, but he looked forward to doing so. He would gladly steal their abilities adding to his own. “Hello?” Joe asked breaking Tarik’s concentration. Tarik gave a quick glance of disapproval that made Joe nervous wishing that he hadn’t challenged Tarik’s pride. “You could always take your chances alone, see how far you make it?” Tarik responded coldly as he lowered his hand letting Joe know that he could keep his money and go it alone if he wanted. Tarik wanted Joe to know it was fully Joe’s choice. Joe looked down at Tarik’s hand then up to his face looking into his eyes. “I’ve heard about you, you’ve taken the battle to the Shroud and killed some of their soldiers. I’ve even heard that you’ve possibly caught the attention of Illusate. Some among us call you a half light because of your actions! But I need those very actions to keep my daughters safe. I need the skills of the Shroud hunter!” Joe declared almost desperately yet very determined. At hearing himself be called a half light he initially cringed gritting his teeth, anger slowly mounting. But upon being called the Shroud hunter, this title was suitable, he was proud of such a title. Tarik extended his hand the validation of approval on his face. Joe placed the roll of money in Tarik’s hand. Tarik turned and began walking away. “Six am” he yelled back to Joe without turning around. “Steal a van, it’ll be easier for traveling, and prepare your daughters for the journey. In a few days you’ll be in sanctuary! Tarik walked off blending into the darkness leaving Joe to his private ruminations.

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