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PREVIEW

The Aeolian Master
Book V

THE CHILDREN

   The officer on the right was startled. He quickly stepped a bit to the left as his whole body shook. "What the hell?" he yelled. "Who are you?"
    The other two officers peered around the one on the right.
    "My name is Cercei and I'm from the city-state of Bern." She paused and with a nonchalant expression, which was her norm, she said. "My friends and I just happened to be passing through your city when we heard the city-wide sirens. I was surprised to see so many women rushing toward the mountain to the West. So I thought I should check to see if I could be of some help."
    The officer in the middle was wearing the stripes of a Colonel, and there was no hesitation on his part as he took charge. He said to Cercei and her two companions, "Get to the mountains. This is going to be a very short and a very bloody war, and I'm not sure if any of us are going to survive." He gripped his phasor rifle tight enough to turn his knuckles white. "But I know one thing—their numbers will be greatly decreased when they get past us. Now git. If you want to live, you won't want to be part of this."
    Just then a messenger showed up. "Colonel, it's reported the androids attacking us are the Black Arms."
    Cercei could tell the Colonel wanted to shout out in frustration. But he didn’t. He kept his calm as any good leader would do. He said to the man to his left, "When the front line of the androids gets to the markers, blow the charges."
    The officer to the far left started to say something, "But Colonel . . . ."
    "I know. We planned to wait until half the androids had passed before blowing the charges. I believed this would help us somewhat. The smoke and the dust and killing some of the androids would cause some confusion, but these are the Black Arms and nothing is going to confuse them."
    "Yes sir." Holding the remote detonator, the officer raised his hand in the air and put his thumb on the red button.
    The Colonel stood stoic, but Cercei could tell he was most depressed. He was readying himself for the attack, and he would fight to the death.
    "I can help," said Cercei.
    The Colonel turned his head. "Are you still here? I told you to leave. Go somewhere and hide. And do it quick. You don't have much time."
    And to give credence to the Colonel's last words, the man on the left pointed. "Look. They're in sight, and they're coming fast."
    "Don’t blow the charges," said Cercei.
    The Colonel turned with an angry expression. He pulled his hand phasor from its holster and pointed it at Cercei's solar plexus. "You're a killer android," he growled.
    Ren jumped between Cercei and the Colonel. "She's not an android. She's a powerful citizen. And right now she's the weapon you need. So listen to her."
    The Colonel wasn’t convinced. "Prove it."
    Cercei turned her attention from the charging androids and said to the Colonel, "Have your men turn their backs to the androids and have them cover their eyes."
    "I will not."
    The androids were almost to the markers. It was time for her to reveal her weapon She pulled up the power and pushed with her feet. She started to rise, and when she was twenty feet off the ground she came to a halt. She pointed her hands at the charging androids. A white fire engulfed her hands sizzling the air. Upon seeing this, the Colonel turned his back and yelled, "Everyone about-face and cover your eyes." He clasped his hands over his face. Cercei unleashed the power of the sunburst. It was as though the sun had crashed into the meadows completely destroying everything. One instant the killer androids were charging across the farm lands and in the next there was nothing remaining—no androids, no farms, no green grass.
    The Colonel turned around and studied the scene. "Oh my God," he whispered. “You must be the most powerful citizen on the planet.” For miles and miles there was nothing to see, except the black and charred remains of the meadows and hillsides. Small pieces of ash were floating on the breeze.

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