I always wanted to fly. Naturally, I couldn't. So I did the next-best thing- run.

There's no feeling like running, I truly believe that. It provides such a rush, and everything that tries to stop you, you can leave behind with enough speed. It feels brilliant, and it makes me feel so alive.

I couldn't imagine a life where simply running wouldn't be okay. But it's in its technicalities not very orderly, and so the Judges weren't very keen to it. The Judges are all the embodiment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and we all became sick of it in many ways.

It was a bad time to start running, during the Judges' rule. But that's when I started. Because if I don't run, no one else is ever going to try. It's my job, my purpose. To be the fearless one who no one can stop.

I am Sheik, and I am a runner. And that is who I am. That is the only person I truly am or will ever be.

And there she went. Clad in black clothes, a dark scarf and a pair of New Balance shoes (her prized possession), she became a blur in the streets, a barely visible blur with a note in her vest pocket, tightly sealed within the zipper. A runner with a purpose.

Even at such fast speeds Sheik still kept focused. She had better, after all. She couldn't afford to lose a moment of time. She could be spotted at any moment by a judge, and then it was all over, especially with such precious cargo. They would show no kindness at that rate.

She turned right, along the sidewalk of a bus stop, one that took up the whole block. In the day, running this would be suicide, due to the many buses that would stop here and the crowds of workers getting on and off of them. At night, though, all the people were in their homes and the buses therefore useless. After all, there was a curfew, strictly set at ten at night. It was basic control-the-world fare, Sheik knew. Almost like a rite of passage- can't be a true domination without a curfew.

Down the empty sidewalk she dashed, looking out for anyone who even resembled a human. Around any corner could be an adversary waiting for some miscreant like her. Her steps were light as could be against the sidewalk; after all, what was the use of being invisible if people could still hear you? She observed around her and, seeing that the coast was clear, took another right into a city plaza.

Sheik did have to admit, the city still looked nice. It was smothered of all its freedom and its bright colors, but it didn't look like a totalitarian government ruin. Of course, that was part of its danger. If you got too comfortable here, you could slip up.

And as Sheik looked ahead to see a pair of Judges walking through her peripherals, she knew she had done just that.

"Shit!"

Her muttered oath was a mere hiss of the wind as she tried to examine her options. There wasn't a place to hide, nowhere to duck into. Just an empty brick span, a few benches, and the night sky.

And as she faced the dark, her heart caught in her throat as she knew exactly what she would have to do.

Sheik had heard as a kid that if a bee was swarming around her, all she had to do was stand still and the bee wouldn't even notice her. Of course, three bee stings later she knew that the advice was a crock, but maybe it could work here.

Blend in, she encouraged herself. Blend in. You didn't wear black for nothing.

Making sure the scarf covered everything up to her eyes, she stood rigidly. Arms to her sides, breath barely squeezing out her lungs, not even so much as blinking. The Judges' banter rang through the air and Sheik watched them walk into her full view.

The Judges always wore bright colors. Usually they consisted of bold maroon, shining silver and a blue seal. They always stood out from the people and their bland uniformly colors, as if to make themselves known as the dominant species. These were no exception. They looked as if they were superheroes with their metal armor and their red capes.

Sheik never let the psychology get to her. A spiteful, hateful mind clouded its goals. It would all be over soon, anyways.

At the moment, though, the red and silver simply resembled something she did not want near her. She kept her eyes quietly trained on them as they made their way down the other side of the street. The disjointed steps and the sight of one of them falling led her to deduce that they were drunk as could be. She had to suppress a laugh at their antics.

Thank my lucky stars. I got the two dumbest judges in the city.

The suppressed laugh turned sharp as a hidden gasp as she watched one of them turn towards her. She honed in her listening skills on the two as they glanced in her direction.

"Hey, Barnes," the shorter, squatter one mumbled. "D'ya, d'ya see someone over there?"

Oh boy.

The second, a lanky, tall man with a sharp goatee, rubbed his eyes. His voice was laden with excess beer as he asked "Me? I dun see nuffin, man. You trippin, Jameson?"

"N-n-n-n-no, I do see sumfin!" Jameson insisted. "She looks like a… Mistress of the night!"

"A what the hell?" Barnes looked dumbfounded.

"Like a beautiful woman made out of… erm, night!"

Why thank you, good sir.

Jameson continued. "She stands there and watches over us… cos she loves us… and we're her children!"

Barnes slapped his companion aside his head. "Jameson, you so drunk, you couldn't locate yer own asshole! Erm… with help!"

Sheik smirked at their antics. Quite amusing.

"Well mebbe I can't locate my asshole… but I located yer mom's! Ah! Hahahaha! Ha!"

Sheik had to bite her tongue and suck in her stomach to keep from laughing at their moronic exchange. Good God, that would be the worst way to go. Laughing at a couple of stupid drunks and then being captured by them.

"Ah, piss off!" Barnes exclaimed, ending the matter. Sheik was very pleased to hear his next words: "Let's get the hell out of here."

"Right- hic- behind you!"

And just like that, the two of them walked out of sight. A minute after she was sure they were gone, Sheik resumed her run, exiting the plaza.

It wasn't that far now back to base camp, or whatever you'd call it. The night was quiet and the cool breeze flooded her face. It was exhilarating as ever. God, she loved her job.

With the note in her pocket and a clear path back home, she smiled and let triumphant music fill through her head even if victory was a ways away. The power would be theirs soon, and she could already feel it surging through her veins with every footstep.

Through alleyways she fled, a blur through the night. She leapt over trash cans that had just been emptied, over broken bricks of a corroding building. Adrenaline was a drug and she was addicted.

And it felt so good.

The hardest part was coming up, and that was her favorite part. With a confident smirk and a twinkle in her eye, she dashed down the open street towards the twenty foot tall fence. This was the fence that tried to keep her from home. There were other ways around it, but Sheik preferred to show the fence that it had nothing on her. It may not be the best idea, but hey, adrenaline rushes did that to people.

She was about fifty feet away when she started her routine. The bench was first. She glided along the edge of the backrest, not stumbling for a second as she outstretched her arms. Next was the ledge of the small store next to that bench. It was a small building, and out of place with the gray skyscrapers that seemed to be made out of dreariness.

She wasn't done. She lightly ran over the cloth awning of that store, her steps not even leaving a dent in the material. She found the metal railing and then leapt into the air. Ten feet down, the ground waited, eager to swallow her up if she fell, but she would deny it that right. She caught the streetlight's frame and almost instantly flung herself on top of it. Finding her pacing immediately after touching ground, she ran across the narrow metal structure, not stopping for a moment, not even a mite of fear in her heart. She used to be afraid to try such stunts. Now she was dulled to it.

As she ran out of streetlight to run on, she took a mighty leap across the second half of the street. What seemed like forever was little more than a few seconds, as she slowly began to clear the pavement below her.

She brought her attention to the fence. Every time right about now, it always seemed like she was going to hit it. But this time, just like every other time, she pulled her legs up and cleared the gap.

Success.

She lunged for the tree branch that she always used. Just thick enough to support her but one she could wrap her hands around. It took her five attempts to settle on that branch.

Using that branch as a propeller, she leapt down and using the trees around her to wall jump, slowing her descent down until she was safely on the ground. She caught a few deep breaths as she settled her feet into the soil of the earth.

"Perfect,"She sighed in content.

"Congratulations," she heard a familiar voice near her. She smiled with a cocked eyebrow as she watched her friend emerge from the shadows. He looked just as he always did- shoulder length tan hair with a white smile, friendly green eyes, a short gray jacket that didn't quite fit, green body-length suit, red boots and his favorite brown scarf around his neck that looked like a fox tail and inspired his nickname.

"Thanks, Fox."

Fox clucked his tongue in amusement as he gave the sweating girl a once-over look. "You always gotta do things the hardest way, don't you?"

"Give me a break," she replied, breath heavy with every sentence. "Gotta have some sort of fun in this lifeless town."

"Yeah," he sighed. "But, really, you should have thought that through. This is incredibly important cargo. You can't afford to lose this."

"You worry too much. It's not like I'd mess up," she replied hastily.

Fox shook his head, wrapping an arm around his friend. "Trust me, Sheik. From years of running experience, no one is perfect. Anyone at any point can screw this up at any time. You just gotta make sure you're not risking anything when you do."

When she didn't reply, he changed the topic. "Anyway, let's get you back inside. I'm sure the wing man's gonna love to see that we got it."

She nodded. "Sounds good."

Fox led her through the quarantined forest. The Judges cut it off from society in order to keep nature out of their grasp. Nature meant plants and flowers and providing themselves with food and plants. Hence, the Judges cut it off. They meant to simply destroy it but eventually they put it off so far that they simply didn't care anymore.

But as one could tell watching Fox and Sheik disappear behind two trees and down a suspicious hill, you could deduce that the Judges' attempts to control the people helped create the perfect base camp for the people who wanted to destroy them.

As Fox entered the hidden building, he pressed the button again and the thick metal door shut, its dirt-caked side facing the night sky and any potential passerby. He took off both of their jackets and allowed the chilly air of the hangar to cascade over him. "Ah," he stated to no one in particular, his voice echoing through the halls. "Secret hideout air. I love the feel of it."

Sheik chuckled a bit at her friend's optimistic statements. Not many people could be satisfied living underground in a formerly abandoned and barely running aircraft hangar, but the fact that he could brought some comfort and sanity into the cold, metallic place.

The first set of ears to pick up on that belonged to a shorter, older man in a white jacket and black pants who sat on a tattered leather couch. His short but still mussy hair further entangled itself as he faced the two runners. "Ah! Mr. McCloud and Miss L'oriel. Glad to see you two back in one piece."

Sheik smiled and waved. "Hey, Doc."

Fox took a more personal approach, grinning and giving Doc a hug. "Hey, Doc. It's good to be back, especially with the goal we set out for ourselves."

The woman in the seat next to Doc suddenly turned around, belting out "You got the note? Hell yeah!" Her own blazing red hair flew into her face as she swerved forward, and she brushed it out of the way in frustration.

Sheik gave the red-haired woman a somber nod. "Yes, Mel, we did. He was a brave man to give this to us. We owe him a lot."

"Oh," Mel replied. "So he really went through with it? I mean, I thought that he said he'd do that as a last-ditch effort for your escape."

"I was just fine, though."

Mel sighed, taking her seat back next to Doc. "What a guy," she whispered. "Hard to find people like him in this world. People dumb enough to do crazy things but smart enough to know when to do them."

Sheik nodded. "Anyway, where's our fearless leader at? Is he asleep with the others?"

Mel pointed behind her. "In his office. He was waiting on you."

"Thanks, Melanthe."

"Oh, no problem, child. Good job."

Sheik grinned one last time as she turned into the office, not bothering to knock because she knew he didn't care. Their leader wasn't one for strict regulation- how could he be, considering their opponent?

She saw that he was already looking straight up at her. His orange hair was still up in its spikes, his green eyes were alert even through exhaustion, so it was easy to tell he hadn't even contemplated sleeping. Most importantly, his eyebrow was raised and a proud smile was slight but visible on his face. Any small amount of nerves bothering her dissipated and she smiled back.

"I got it, Bowser," she told him.

He walked over to her, wrapping his arms around her in a hug. She didn't hesitate to reciprocate, engaging in the embrace. She could hear Bowser laughing from nearly a foot above her- he was a tall man, after all. She smiled and sank into his leather jacket, her exhaustion and relief overcoming her at last.

"Good work, Sheik," she heard him say as the last of the adrenaline seeped away and she felt tired enough to collapse asleep where she was right now.

Good work, Sheik. She allowed the words to echo in her mind as she started to drift off.

A/N Ah, what a glorious setup I have me here. Things sure look odd at the moment but trust me, it gets better.

Some notes

This is probably not gonna be a short story updated every say (although the last part is obvious.) I am infatuated with this idea and it will probably be full length, but hey, don't make me make a commitment. I'll never go through with it in that case. XD

All the characters upcoming are human. That includes Melanthe, Fox and Bowser. It's a bit tricky to imagine, so for reference, look up the brilliant Krowjak on DeviantArt for some reference. It's a bit different in some parts, but it works.

Doc is in fact Doctor Finn Mario, my own interpretation of Dr. Mario (spawned from chapter two of the contest, which is getting along pretty well.)

The title wasn't inspired by The Book of Eli, which I haven't seen yet (but my parents loved it.) It's actually a play on the gospel The Book of Mark, from the bible. The idea is that this book could be the salvation of the world the Judges run. A similar premise to Book of Eli, but in an entirely different way.

The inspiration is... still a secret, although you guys may be able to figure it out if you really really looked. ;)

If Bowser seems OOC to you... hold your friggin horses, man! xD I just started! Give it some time!

Anyway, I'll have chapter 3 up sometime before I die. (yay commitmentphobia!) I'll see you then!

MoD