The night had started off clear and calm, but clouds slowly made their way in over the stretch of the night blocking the moon and the stars that had been sitting, an audience of twinkling celestial families that had slowly been covered. Joe was sitting in the passenger seat, his daughters were in the back chatting. Tarik was out scouting the area for Shroud activity. He wanted to go on foot without them and would be back in a few hours, he told Joe that it would be safest this way. Lisa and Maria talked laughing and joking with one another almost seeming oblivious to the danger that might be lurking near bye. Maria felt that her father was staring at her intently through the rear view mirror. She glanced up breaking from her conversation. “What?” She asked firmly feeling how Joe was staring, it wasn’t exactly in the kindest of manners. Lisa instantly froze feeling the energy between her father and sister, she slid away from Maria giving room for the verbal war that she felt was about to take place. Joe waited a moment thinking on what he wanted to say before he turned around fuming at Maria. “I wasn’t sleeping earlier you know! I heard your little conversation with the half light!” Joe yelled so loudly that Lisa flinched. Maria shook her head discontentedly. “And what did you think you heard?” She replied in a yell to equal her fathers. “Don’t play stupid with me! You were trying to act like some little slut with him! You’re mother would be disappointed!” Joe replied outraged. Maria’s eyes rounded followed by tears showing a fierceness that made her face blush. “Fuck you!” Was all she could say being so distracted by what he said to her, she was beyond angry. She opened the door and slipped out slamming it behind her. Joe struggled to open his door as smoothly being surprised that she had gotten out so quickly. When he finally got out he ran to the other side of the van only to see that Maria was gone. “Maria!” He called out but got no response. The soft low rumble in the distance followed by flickers of light in the clouds alerted Joe to the fact that a violent storm was coming. He called out again hysterically looking about for any motion or sign that his daughter was near. They’d had fights before and she’d done this running off, but this time it was too risky. The Shroud had increased their efforts on hunting the gifted, and with these new soldiers that they were using, it was just too dangerous for Maria to be throwing a tantrum right now. Not for her or her sister, they were human. But if they found Joe and Lisa, they’d both be dead. He knew he didn’t have the power to protect Lisa. He rubbed his head nervously while looking up at the brewing clouds that slowly swirled.

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Jeni’s legs were burning just as badly as her chest was. She’s been running for the past few hours, her clothes were in tatters and her skin showed scrapes and cuts all over her body and face. She’d been fending off the Seekers, her gift was the ability to paralyze her opponent but the victim would only remain so for a short time, twelve minutes to be exact. What was worse was the fact that she could only paralyze one Seeker at a time, it would’ve been convenient if she could paralyze the entire lot of then but regretfully it wasn’t so. Every time she would paralyze a Seeker It would weaken her, and every time the Seekers would catch up there would be more than the last time. The Seekers knew that eventually they would overwhelm her with sheer numbers. She was beyond tired she was exhausted. Her fear of the Seekers catching her was her fuel, it motivated her to keep running even when her body said no more. It was so dark the forest allowed no light save for the what flickered across the night sky in the clouds. The rumbles became louder, the winds picked up tossing around a cooler air with the scent of rain on it. She didn’t realize that the Seekers had already caught up to her numbering in the twenties hinging closer to thirty of them when they originally started out at only five. They were silently following from the trees all of them enjoying the hunt, patiently waiting for the Commander to give the order to kill her. The anticipation was which Seeker would be allowed to finish the hunt with the kill? Commander Garland was in charge of five Seekers, he asked to borrow the rest in order to finish this hunt, even now more Seekers were coming, they weren’t needed but it would get him more attention. He couldn’t keep up with the Seekers so ordered them to run ahead and observe only. Once he caught up he wanted to question Jeni, he knew that she was most likely fleeing to sanctuary, he wanted to know where it was. Lord Apex would be pleased with this information, no Shroud agent had ever discovered the whereabouts of a sanctuary anywhere in the world. And if Lord Apex was pleased then it meant that the Sovereign would be as well. Commander Garland was excited, this was a defining moment in his career. It all happened so fast, before he was a low ranking soldier with a long way to go before he even became commander. But after the introduction of Seekers, the Sovereign decreed that all Seekers would now be soldiers and that everyone else were to be bumped up to Commanders over seeing the Seekers. This was an exciting time! Commander Garland had new rank coupled with the wealth that came along with that rank, and opportunities to truly show his leadership skills. As a soldier he felt that would never happen and now it was. He jogged along causally as to not over exert himself, Jeni was a nuisance, she kept getting further from his Seekers. He was surrounded by four Seekers who paced their jogging speed with the Commanders. “Sir she is completely surrounded but she is pulling further away us. At our current pace she could get further away from our current location and closer to sanctuary” The Seeker closest to him said. Commander Garland stopped jogging to catch his breath, he knew what the Seeker was saying, he took a deep breath before speaking. “Ok tell your brothers to stop her, but do not kill, only subdue! I want to get some answers out of her first!” The commander said. The Seeker nodded in agreement sending out a telepathic call to his brothers it was time to end this. The wind picked up as lighting streaked across the sky in all directions.

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Tarik leapt high above the forest gliding silently landing on his feet below.
He greatly enjoyed the first gift that he’d ever stolen, it was when he first met Deacon Marino that Tarik acquired it from the Deacons opponent, a Shroud soldier. He found his mind starting to wander slipping back into memories of Deacon Marino but shook them off quickly, he was on a job, he didn’t need the distraction. Walking out of the forest he saw Joe standing in front of the van looking quite vexed. Streaks of lighting danced above, the wind picked up blowing about violently. As Tarik approached Joe looked up shamefully. “She ran off!” He yelled running up to Tarik grabbing him by the shoulder, Tarik slapped Joe’s arms away. “What do you mean? Who ran away?” Tarik asked. “Maria! We, we got into a little argument and she ran off! I think she might be lost! She should’ve been back by now!” Joe ranted hysterically. Tarik looked at Joe suspiciously. “What did you say to upset her?” He asked. Joe’s eyes averted from Tarik’s. “That’s not important now, just please get my daughter back!” Tarik frowned feeling that somehow he was part of the cause for the argument. “Ok but it’ll cost you more!” He said, Joe became irate. “Look I’ve already paid you for the trip!” Joe said shaking his finger at Tarik. “You paid for the trip, this isn’t part of the trip, this is a search and rescue!” Tarik said firmly. Joe stomped around cursing making sure to not call Tarik a half light but every other obscenity flew from his mouth before he addressed him again. “I don’t have any more money! I don’t have any way to pay you!” Joe belted out competing with the loud thunder and winds that had picked up by continuing to yell. Tarik stared at Joe then finally spoke up. “I’ll think of something, you definitely owe me for this one” Tarik said calmly. Joe froze for a moment then relaxed after he realized that Tarik was going to be searching for Maria. “Get back in the van, it’s about to rain. I’ll be back with Maria in a bit” Tarik said confidently. Thunder rumbled vibrating through his body from it’s strength. He looked up at the sky the tree tops were bending from the strong winds. “Gonna be one hell of a storm” Tarik thought to himself as he walked away.

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The Seekers had attacked with silent precision cutting the back of both tendons in her legs so that when she fell she wouldn’t be able to get back up and run. This was it Jeni told herself, she wasn’t going to make it but she was going to paralyze as many of these bastards that she could before she was killed. She was on the ground in an upright seated position, the Seekers began attacking and with each one she paralyzed them. But moments in the Seekers numbers grew and Jeni found that she couldn’t focus on all of them. Fortunately for her the order to kill wasn’t given or she would’ve already been dead. She could tell that they were playing with her, waiting for something. She didn’t know that they were waiting for Commander Garland. Her arms were too numb and heavy to raise anymore. She fought to catch her breath her arms dropped to the ground for support in order to keep her sitting upward. Struggling to stay up she thought that this was exactly how she knew that she would die, she nodded her head laughing to herself. “Worry not my child, you have run far to reach me, and sanctuary you have at last found…” Judge Moses voice peacefully said telepathically to Jeni. “Be at ease, none will harm you…” Judge Moses voice rang out consoling Jeni, but he wasn’t seen anywhere around her. The Seekers could sense that something wasn’t right as they gathered around Jeni they all stopped looking confused trying to detect what their senses were feeling but could not be seen. Suddenly they all began writhing in pain falling to the ground. With the latest rumble of thunder the first few rain drops began to fall. It had taken Commander Garland almost fifteen minutes to get to the area Jeni was reported to be. “Sir…” One of the Seekers said extending his arm protectively in front of the commander. Commander Garland looked at the Seekers hand as if insulted not knowing that the Seeker had already felt his brothers demise moments ago. Commander Garland smacked the Seekers arms away stepping past it before walking into the brush coming out the other side. He stood frozen looking down at the ground, he gasped. The other Seekers came through behind him. Littered on the ground were dead Seekers, all of their necks had been broken, there was no sign of Jeni, she had been swept away by Judge Moses to sanctuary. Commander Garland was bedazzled his eyes blank while he looked about at the one sided massacre. “But where…?” He softly said. He knew that the female couldn’t have done this, surely it was the Judge of the sanctuary she was fleeing to. Commander Garland had heard the rumors of how powerful Judges were, and that the only power that could stop them was the Sovereigns. Glancing about seeing that twenty or more Seekers had no chance against a Judge there could be no possible way that he would fair any better with lesser numbers. A sudden feeling of dread came over him, he started backing away bumping into a Seeker behind him. Maybe there was a reason the Shroud never found a sanctuary. He took one final glance before turning around. “Let’s get the fuck out of here!” He said before running into the brush, the remaining Seekers followed behind him. As the thunder and lighting ensued the rain began to at last fall heavily.

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