⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "E.J. Deen has created another compelling story to captivate audiences. An epic sci-fi movie in the making." -BestIndieBooks.com
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "I haven't been so excited about a new book series since...well...I can't even remember when." -JellyBombReview.com
From the Inside Flap
For a moment, Kael stood with his arm still outstretched, blade extended outward, muscles tensed and bulging, and his chest heaving as he worked to catch his breath. His eyes were glued to the woman. A second later,he vaulted towards her, grabbed her by the hand, and began running away from the storefront as fast as he could drag his baggage behind him. She was small and couldn't keep up with him. Frustrated, he stopped. She immediately slammed into the back of him.
"Ow! Damn you! Where are you taking me!" she yelled at him.
"Away from here," he yelled back. Without saying another word,he picked her up like she was a sack of potatoes, dumped her over his shoulder,and ran down the street with her bouncing against his back. She wound her fingers into his shirt and held on tight to try and stop the mind-numbing bounce of her head.
"I...w-want to kn-know...where the hell you're t-t-taking me!" she shrieked, her words coming out in gasps as her stomach bounced painfully against his shoulder.
Just as the last word was leaving her lips, the Sulcrum exploded in a massive ball of fire that sent bricks, glass, metal, and parts of mannequins flying across the street. Kael kept running. The woman was too winded to scream when the explosion ripped through the store. Sirens howled in the distance, fire trucks and police cars already trying to make their way through the city streets to get to the odd scene that citizens had surely reported. Only minutes had passed since the Sulcrum's arrival, but there was enough chaos and damage on the street to make it look like a terrorist attack.
Another explosion rocked the atmosphere, the sound reverberating off the tall buildings around them. The Sulcrum's head, exploding just minutes after the body's self-destruct.
Kael kept running. He had to get as far away from the scene as possible,as fast as possible. He ran a mile before he finally stopped and put the woman down. Tears streaked her cheeks, and her nose was red and wet from crying. She wobbled on her feet and shoved her long blonde hair out of her face to get a good look at him. Kael was barely panting from the long run. Running with her weight on his shoulder hadn't even winded him. His luminous green eyes stared down into her face, assessing her emotions and her physical state.
"What the hell was that...that...thing back there!" she demanded.
"A Sulcrum," he answered succinctly.
He reached for her hand. She snatched it out of his way so that he couldn't take hold of it.
He frowned. "You must come with me."
"The hell you say! I don't have to go anywhere with you! You nearly got me killed back there!"
He reached for her hand again. Again, she moved out of his grasp."I want to know why the man in that armor was trying to kill you, and why you are running with me!"
"There's no time for that. We have to get as far away as possible,as fast as possible. Every delay could mean the death of us."
"Why? And why we? Why do I have to go with you? What the hell is going on?" She ended in a near-scream of fury and frustration.
"The Sulcrum is not a man. It's a machine. A very deadly one," Kael explained.
The woman glanced at him nervously. She looked dazed, confused, and he could smell the terror thrumming through her bloodstream.
"You've been imprinted," he stated.
"Wha-What does that mean?"
"It means that you are in danger. You must come with me."
Her eyes were beautiful. He'd just noticed. Deep as a crystal clear blue spring on Trinoor. Her hair the color of the corn silk he'd seen stripped from the ears in the farmers market. Skin fair, smooth, and clear. Next to his 6' 5" frame, she was tiny, probably no more than5'4". Not that it mattered. She was under his protection now. Like it or not, he couldn't leave her.
She opened her mouth to say something, but the words were cut short when he grabbed her by the hand and pulled her down the side street. "We must get out of sight."
She tried to twist her hand out of his, but his grip was too firm."Why should I come with you?" She yelled the words at the back of his head.
He turned abruptly and put a large hand over her mouth to shut her up.Leaning down close so she could look into the depth of his eyes, he said very clearly, "If you want to remain alive, you will follow me to the ends of your planet if need be, without hesitation and without argument."
Her eyes were wide with fear, and he could feel her heart thrumming hard against his abdomen. The energy of it beat the air between them, reaching out to strum his nervous system. His senses were at high alert, and he could see everything about her, smell everything, feel everything, like no human ever could.
"I'm going to let go now. And you're going to be good and not scream. If you hold me back any longer, I will have no choice but to leave you behind, to protect myself. If I do that, you will die. Do you understand?"
She nodded feebly, her cheeks pinched up above the meat of his palm. She looked like a pathetic little cartoon character on some earth show. When he didn't let go, she nodded more emphatically and grunted something from beneath his hand. He slowly lifted a few fingers. She didn't scream, so he withdrew his hand, but he remained vigilante. She gasped once for breath, straightened her shirt, swallowed hard, and nodded again.
"Alright. I'm following you."
Kael assessed her eyes to determine her truth. Satisfied that she would give him no more trouble, he looked around at his surroundings. Microwave and cell phone towers jutted from the tall building next to the abandoned one they stood beside. He turned and peered into the distance. The energy plant was too far away. This building would have to do, for now.
He went to the door and looked through the glass. A small hallway led to an empty lobby. He jimmied the door and stepped inside. Old broken glass crunched beneath his boots. He pulled the girl in behind him and closed the door, locked it, and turned back to look around at the graffiti-covered walls.
"What is this place?" the girl asked from behind him.
"An abandoned office building," he said.
"How do you know?"
Moving silently, his senses heightened and alert, he led her upstairs to the third floor. Glancing around as he went, he eased down the hallway until they came to a small room at the end of the hall. The girl followed him inside, but when he closed the door behind them she seemed wary and nervous. Kael ignored her and assessed the room from ceiling to floor,then went and peered out the dirty window at the street beyond. Satisfied that he would not be battling his way through any more Sulcrums, at least for a short while, he turned to the only desk that sat to one side of the room.He crossed the room and sat down slowly in the dust-covered swivel chair.
The girl looked around the room. "Why would anyone leave their office furniture behind?"
"You ask a lot of questions."
She shrugged. "I've always been curious by nature."
"Questions can get you answers that you won't like to hear."