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Prologue

Taken

“No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the world we don’t recognize is still there.”

-The Exiled Captain (Author Unknown)

Rachel made her way home. She’d spent a lovely day with Timothy, her one true love—or at least that’s what her sixteen-year-old heart told her he was. She trotted home, letting her dress swirl around her and waved as she passed her best friend Pamela’s house. Pamela was more of a tomboy with her tough attitude and sturdy frame, but Rachel thought she was wonderful.

Dinner was normal. Rachel daydreamed and her mother and father tried to talk to her, but, like most teenagers, she wasn’t much for sharing. The night was cool when she went to bed, so she closed her window and settled into a dream of Timothy. She sighed in contentment.

A sound woke her…what was it? It sounded like screams from outside. Still half asleep, Rachel went to open the window when her father burst in the room.

“Rachel, Rachel honey, come on, we need to leave!” he said frantically.

Why did they need to leave? With a snap of her father’s fingers she thought of everyone in town talking about the Iumenta that had been watching them. Feeling scared, she moved with her father to the living room. There was yelling and more screaming outside. Her mother was downstairs putting food in a bag. The door of the house burst open and Rachel’s father shoved her into a closet as four black-armored figures entered the house.

She heard her mother scream and her dad yell “Get off my wife!” Then there was a thud, the sound of something being dragged, and her mother screaming “NO!” Rachel, her heart pounding, knelt, looking out of the crack at the bottom of the door. A pool of blood oozed under the door and she saw just a glimpse of brown hair that matched her father’s. She moved to the wall, clamping her eyes shut, “No, no, no, no, no!” she whispered.

There was a sound from upstairs. What was it? Another cry that sounded like her mother … was she still alive? Fear and the need to stay alive finally won out. As she opened the door of the closet and confirmed her father’s death and mother’s absence, she bolted for the door.

Shame filled her as she left her mother to whatever fate she was enduring, but Rachel had to run. The streets were pandemonium. Black-armored figures were hacking people to death. The bodies of men, women, and children littered the streets. She slammed into one of the black figures and screamed as he raised a war hammer to hit her. Then, with a crunch, the man fell to the side, revealing Pamela with a skillet.

“Come on, we need to get to the town center to make a stand!” Pamela was a fighter.

They ran as fast as they could to the town center where a small band of men and women were making a last stand. Pamela joined the fight, swinging her skillet with as much force as she could muster. Rachel, watching the slaughter, sank to the ground. Finally, the majority of the town’s people were lost, and those who were left were injured or gave up. Counting Rachel and Pamela, there were maybe ten people left.

The black figures surrounded them and Rachel was sure that she was going to die or be dragged off like the other people she had seen. The figures parted and an Iumenta walked up to the survivors, his gray skin fading in the moonlight and his yellow eyes boring into Rachel’s.