I hit Genevieve low, like a football player sacking the quarterback, and we hit the ground in a tumble.  I rolled backwards off her, getting my sword up just in time to block the knife-strike of the man in white, his two blades sparking off my weapon.  I stared into his eyes and found them filled with a malevolent force of incredible intensity.  I could feel his arms straining to push my sword aside.  He fully intended to kill me.

            I attempted to use my leg to sweep his, but he leapt into the air and bounced back a step, holding his knives on guard.  I rose to my feet cautiously, keeping my sword at the ready.  We circled each other warily, each taking the measure of the other.

            “You stopped me.”  The masked man said with a growl, and with some surprise.  He stopped moving.  “No one stops me from killing.  No one!”

            He had been standing completely still on the balls of his feet, but with those last words he slashed forward with his right arm.  It was lightning quick, and would have killed most people.  My years in the desert, however, had fine-tuned my senses and sharpened my reflexes.  I had seen the tensing in his muscles before he struck, and that extra second gave me the time to sidestep his blow.  It was instinct alone that caused me to duck the slash coming from his left hand, aimed at my head.  I swung with my sword for his gut, forcing him to jump back a step.  He looked at me, and despite his mask I knew he was astonished.  We were evenly matched.

            “REZA!  LET’S GO!”  A voice hollered, and he sprinted away from me.  I followed him with my eyes and saw Neal and another man on horseback, leading a further steed by the reins.  My adversary hopped upon this one and then wheeled to face me.

            “WE’LL MEET AGAIN.”  He shouted, and then they rode away.

            I turned to my sister, now starting to pick herself up from the snow.  All of it had happened so fast.  I offered my hand to her, and she took it.  Inwardly, I sighed my relief.  I had worried that she would still try to ignore me.

            “Are you all right?” I asked.  In answer, Genevieve embraced me and shook.  I could feel her begin to sob, and held her close.  I stroked my fingers through her hair as our mother had done to soothe her as a child.

            She looked up at me after awhile, wiping tears from her cheeks.  “I never stood a chance against him.  He would have killed me as surely as he killed Alex.  You saved my life.”

            “Who was he?”

            “He is the Reaper,” she said, speaking with the voice of a prophet.  “The Dark Warrior.  He is the Tiger.  He is Death.  You must stop him.” 

            I stood there, feeling shivers run up and down my spine.  I realized that the man on horseback had called my adversary “Reza;” I had faced  the creature who had murdered my friends, and who wore my face.  But the shivers were from more than that:  when I heard Genevieve’s words, I remembered the dream they echoed.  The one where she died.  I had prevented it from coming to pass.

            I hugged my sister close, grateful for her survival, praising God in His mercy.  I threw my head back, smiling up at the stars in victory:  I had denied them from looking down on Genevieve’s passing with indifference.  I had lived with those cold spectators in the desert, and had developed an irrational need to deny them the satisfaction of watching our suffering.  As if they were some television audience that should be ashamed of enjoying watching people’s lives exposed on talk shows. 

            Instead of letting them watch people die today, I had shown them that sometimes people fight for what is good, and sometimes people live.  I had found that the future was not set in stone, and sometimes could be changed.  The stars, for all their watching, did not know everything.

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