War.

It wrought the streets of an ancient Excelian city where death smeared the battlefield.

Silence sung through the bloodstained boulevards.

And bodies laid among the cold ashes.

Distant explosions permeated the air and Natalia Ignatius-Valdis regarded the sight of the aliens from afar—the Xzandians. Haplessly, she observed them as they carried their energetic shields powered by some unknown technology. At this distance, she knew she’d be unable to take them out. As they marched towards her with the intent to kill.

The leader, Prometheus, paused and held up one hand, keeping off his battalion that stretched far behind him. “Hand over Midnight Eclipse,” he spoke with an ounce of confidence through his helmet. A technology that kept him secure from the poisonous air that was oxygen.

“And if I refuse?” Natalia questioned, her dark eyes on his.

“Then you’ll die,” the alien declared. “So, I’ll ask again. Hand over Midnight Eclipse.”

“To your people. Never.”

The aliens discharged their weapons and Natalia avoided the bullets, even if the armour of Midnight Eclipse protected her.

The aliens fired their energy bullets and Natalia leapt into the air, higher than anyone ever thought possible, and with her demon activating, she plunged to the earth below.

The ground shattered beneath her boots, the impact never harming her, and the aliens resumed in firing their weapons, but their heated energetic bullets never affected her as they hit the armour she wore.

The detached stones around Natalia’s boots lifted off the ground before she launched herself at the aliens with incredible speed. With her sword in hand, she cut down the aliens.

She was certain there was a moment when she’d die but she never stopped. Cutting down one alien after another, after another. Reinforcements arrived and she paused, gasping for air. Then her gaze drifted to the alien hovering in mid-air on a platform. “Give up Natalia. You’ll only cause your premature demise,” Xaviaius declared, with a dark smile.

“So, what if I do,” Natalia retorted. “I won’t hand it over. You’ll have to take it by force.”

“What about your children? Gothalia and Noel-Len, was it? What about your husband Gaius?” he queried. “You wouldn’t want anything to happen to them. Now, would you?”

“Bastard.” Natalia muttered. “Touch them, and I’ll kill you.”

His gaze narrowed. “I’d like to see you try.”

A Behemoth, able to manipulate all the Excelian elements, crawled out of the ground and Natalia stepped aside to avoid the shards of ice that the Behemoth threw at her that embedded themselves into the ground at her feet.

Natalia glanced up at the Behemoth.

She was tired but she had to keep going. Fighting was all she knew. Fighting for herself, fighting for her children, fighting to keep the demon at bay and fighting to stay alive off the battlefield. That was all she knew. And she knew that would never change but now she had Noel-Len and Gothalia because of Gaius. What would she do?

“Fight,” she muttered to herself. “I won’t give up and won’t hand over the Fragments,” she declared, loud enough that both Xzandian leaders glared at her. Before launching herself at the Behemoth, which towered over them and spurred ice and fire in every direction killing both Xzandians and Excelians alike.

“See, and this is why women shouldn’t be allowed on the battlefield,” the Xzandian declared, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “You’re weak, disobedient and undisciplined.”

Natalia tasted blood when the Behemoth deflected her attack, with the element of air the gust of wind smashed into the stone rocks behind her shattering them under the impact.

Natalia avoided the lightning bolts the Behemoth released just in time before, she felt the trickle of blood over her face from when she’d hit her head.

“As far as I’m concerned.” Natalia replied, “My husband loves my rebellious side.”

Then she picked up her sword from where it was embedded in the ground and leapt high and towards the Behemoth.

Air, earth, and lightning attacked her. Natalia used the sword, to slice through the earth. Then used the earth that flew towards her to block the lightning and air attacks before she allowed herself to fall towards the Behemoth. When she was close enough, she embedded her sword in the Behemoth’s neck, and it screeched.

She dragged the sword down it’s chest and towards its belly, where the sword disconnected, and she fell towards the ground. Then paused, as the air shifted around her and the armour of Midnight Eclipse gave her the ability to hover in the air. The beast swiped at her and Natalia moved out of the way and flew towards her sword.

Once she’d reached it, she yanked out the sword and stabbed it back into the Behemoth. The Behemoth screeched once more. Oil, water, and blood coated her sword and she tore an opening big enough to enter. Then the Behemoth’s hand came down to wack its belly and Natalia leapt out of the way in time. The Behemoth struck the sword and forced it further into its belly and out through the other side. The Behemoth dropped to its knees and Natalia moved out of the way. She stood standing in mid-air and watched the Behemoth die.

Then her attention turned to the Xzandian on the platform a few meters above her. “Xaviaius!” Natalia called, the wind that fluttered around her was both cold and loud. “Stand down your arms and I will show mercy.” The black armour she wore, gleamed beneath the full moon lighting up the battlefield and her black eyes locked onto the man.

“No, it is I who’ll make you beg for mercy! Not the other way around. So, don’t be so arrogant!” Xaviaius declared, clenching the bar in front of him as he stood on a hovering platform that gave him the perfect view of the battlefield. “I’ll have your head Natalia. Count on it.”

Natalia held up the sword she procured from the fallen Behemoth and pointed it at Xaviaius. “Come on then. Let’s see who’ll fall first.”

“You will! Women are naturally weaker than men. What could you possibly do?”

“Look around you,” Natalia beckoned. “Don’t you see the death of your comrades. Most were men, weren’t they? Gender has nothing to do with it. I killed them as I’m going to kill you.” Natalia threatened.

“Aren’t you supposed to arrest me and take me back to your precious Grand Elders?” the alien mocked. “As a war prisoner?”

“That ship sailed long ago,” Natalia declared. “You killed too many of my comrades. I can’t just let you walk away.”

“I see. To the death then,” he uttered.

“To the death then,” Natalia remarked when the alien stepped from his platform and dropped to the earth below. Creating a massive crater beneath his landing. Rage consumed him and his gaze drifted to where Natalia stood, in the air. The power of Midnight Eclipse at her call. She dropped from the air and towards the earth, the ground shattering beneath her armour.

“Your Midnight Eclipse versus me? Let’s see who’ll win?” he remarked and prepared to fight. Natalia mimicked and they stared each other down before the battle began. Then they attacked.

The ring of swords clashing in the air, lingered throughout the silent battlefield. In the distance, other Excelians waited on their energetic vehicles and observed the fight. The battle they fought was long won and they knew it was up to Natalia to claim victory. “Come on, you got this,” Anaphora muttered as she observed the battle. L’Eiron stood beside her and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry. She’s a soldier. She’ll be fine,” he said.

“I know L’Eiron but she’s all alone.”

L’Eiron didn’t say anything instead, ordered the other soldiers to keep an eye out.

Then an ear-piercing screech sounded in the distance. The Alastorians caught everyone’s attention before he shouted, “Hostiles on the east. Squadron A to D defend the main guard.” Then he turned to Anaphora. “We can’t afford to be sentimental right now.”

“I know,” she said.

Anaphora pulled out her sword and called war cry. She yelled with all her might and ran forward with L’Eiron and the other soldiers in their energetic vehicles or on foot as they rushed towards the oncoming Alastorians. They needed to defend this side of the battlefield if Natalia had a chance.

Alastorians and Excelians clashed.

Natalia and Xaviaius fought a gruelling battle. She was wearing out and he had enough energy to climb a mountain. As such, Natalia was thrown to the ground and Xaviaius pinned her down pointing his sword at her throat.

“Any last words?” he asked.

Then L’Eiron’s voice broke through over the radio. “Alastorians on the east. We’ll hold them off. Hurry up Natalia.”

“Let them through,” she told L’Eiron.

Xaviaius regarded Natalia for a moment confused than he heard the Alastorians screech in the distance. He leapt from Natalia when the Alastorians ran towards them.

While the other Xzandian soldiers worked to fight them off, Natalia sat up and rubbed her throat from where his forearm pinned her down.  

The armour may have protected her from ballistics, but not once did it save her from being crushed. “Natalia!” L’Eiron called over the radio. “Where are you?”

An energetic helicopter hovered in the air not too far from her. They were searching for her she knew, and she knew she had to make it out alive.

Climbing to her feet, she ran from the Alastorians and towards the cliffs. The helicopter hovered low and the Alastorians leapt into the air to grab onto the chopper before they were kicked off by L’Eiron and the other Centurions. “I’m here!” she called back fighting off the Alastorians.

L’Eiron recognised her on the ground from where they hovered in the air. She ran towards the cliffs, battered, and injured while the Alastorians chased after her. Then with as much might as she could, she leapt from the cliff.

The energetic chopper without a rotor propeller and mast, instead operated by air users, caught her. Though not without having her fly through the open window. If it weren’t for L’Eiron who caught her in time she’d have fallen through. Once the chopper turned up right, he set Natalia beside him. “Let get out of here,” he said placing Natalia in the seat beside him then glanced at the Excelian air user.

“But what about the others?” Natalia asked.

“We’re right behind you,” Anaphora declared on the radio.

Then they returned to the City of New Icarus.

The next day, Natalia Ignatius piled off the hover craft that dropped her off before retreating into the air and towards the estate only to stop and breathe in the fresh air, one not filled with smoke, blood, and rotting flesh. Instead, she inhaled the air that was filled with a fresh scent of moss, heat, and a light scent of cinder. The cinder she knew was from the lava below that would lap against the solidified earth that kept their city above the lava.

She heard the river in the distance not too far from her home and felt the soft earth beneath her feet and heard it crunch as she began to walk once more and towards the doors of her home.

The artificial sun above warmed her skin, and she glanced at the sky above aware of its falseness but similarity of it to the reality of the surface world.

She knew the Grand Elders and the Royal Family worked to make their home like the surface world as much as possible with their natural curves, crevices, trees, gorges, hills and valleys and every other aspect the Humans weren’t aware they were blessed with.

Their buildings were different and ancient; with sturdy pillars holding up the rooves of the buildings that almost mimicked the ancient roman buildings but different with a mix of Persian and Egyptian style as the earliest Excelians were from that continent. Natalia placed her hand against the glass panel of the door and declared, “Natalia Ignatius-Valdis.” The automated door opened and revealed an empty hallway.

As she entered, she heard the laughter of children and Aiden as he scolded the children. Her pace quickened as she moved to the sound. As they rounded a corner. She saw Noel-Len and Gothalia run from Aiden who pretended to be a monster and she kneeled when they spotted her calling, “Mum!”

Quickly, the children ran into her arms and she enveloped them into a warm embrace. “Hello, my precious babies,” she muttered cherishing the embrace and kissed them both on the head.

“You’re home,” Gothalia declared, squirming in her arms to look up at her mother. “See told you Len,” Gothalia remarked. “I said she’d be coming home.”

“Whatever,” he said, and clung to Natalia.

Then footfalls rounded a corner and Aiden greeted Natalia, “You’re home. Welcome back, my lady.”

“It’s good to be back,” Natalia said and climbed to her feet. “How were the little ones?” she asked.

“They were good, until Noel-Len hit her in the head with the ball,” Aiden declared. “But she’s feeling a lot better now.”

“It wasn’t me! It was Maximus and Anton!” Noel-Len defended pointing behind Aiden and at the two young boys their age, hiding behind the wall.

“What are you two doing hiding?” Natalia asked them. “Don’t I get a welcome home hug as well?” With her brow raised, and a small smile. The other children ran to Natalia and hugged her.

“Sorry Auntie Nat,” Maximus, the seven-year-old said. “It was an accident.”

“We didn’t mean to hurt Gothalia,” Anton added, the six-year-old. “It was an um . . .” he began.

“Accident,” Aiden piped in.

“Yeah, that’s the word!” Anton declared, with a bright toothy smile.

Natalia laughed at the look on Maximus’s face as he narrowed his gaze at his brother before walking into the kitchen, “Who’s hungry?” she asked.

“Me!” Maximus said.

“Ooh me too!” Anton declared.

“Me too!” Noel-Len and Gothalia declared at the same time before glaring at each other.

“I said it first,” Noel-Len glowered at his sister.

“No, you didn’t.”

“All right, you lot. Time to eat,” Natalia said, and pulled out the chairs. Aiden entered the room and declared.

“I made sure they didn’t have any dinner as you wanted to cook.” Aiden declared, messing up Noel-Len’s hair who crossed his arms.

“Thank you, Aiden,” Natalia declared, with a small smile at Noel-Len’s reaction then turned her attention to Aiden. “I really appreciate that. Have you seen Gaius anywhere?”

“No, I haven’t,” he said. “But I recall him saying that he went into the city to meet with the Grand Elders. But is it true? You have it?” Aiden asked.

Natalia glanced at the children, a seriousness crossed her features and she turned back to Aiden, “I do but we’ll discuss that later.”

“I understand.” Aiden declared than retreated to the door. “I’ll see if I can find Gaius and let him know you’re home.”

“That’ll be great thanks. I would message him myself, but I think it’s best to surprise him,” she said.

Aiden nodded and said to the kids, “Behave you lot.”

“We will!” they replied. Than Aiden vanished from sight and Natalia turned back to the children.

“Okay what do you feel like having?” she asked them.

*.*.*

“But Lord Michalis!” Gaius Ignatius-Valdis declared, shocked. “You can’t possibly think that that’s appropriate?”

His voice echoed around the Council Chamber and the Cratians regarded Gaius carefully, from where they stood, beneath the balconies of the Grand Elders.

“I do, Lord Ignatius,” Grand Elder Michalis said, from where he sat above Gaius. His chestnut eyes lingered over the younger man in contemplation. “The power of Midnight Eclipse should not be in anyone’s hands. What makes you think that it’s okay for Natalia to wield.”

“She found it!” he said. “And she can’t remove it without hurting herself.”

“I am sure, there are physicians that can remove that weapon. Besides, she may have found it, but it was discovered on sacred lands. You and Natalia should know better than step foot on such sacred sites.” Grand Elder Michalis uttered; fury laced his voice.

“The only reason why I haven’t thrown both of you into the prisons below our feet is because you’re the General of Dragon Core and she is the accommodator of Midnight Eclipse. You both should tread very carefully from now on.”

“Is that a threat?” Gaius questioned.

“It is. Don’t think you’ve been forgiven. That weapon shouldn’t be in the hands of man and should be returned to where you’ve found it. Buried and hidden far from us. No being, Excelian, Human or alien, should be given such god-like abilities it’s unfathomable.” The Grand Elder regarded Gaius carefully, for a moment, before declaring. “And I’ve heard news that she bore you children.”

“She has,” Gaius declared, with a small smile the memory of his children brought him a sense of happiness that only a few could ever comprehend.

“I am happy for you,” Grand Elder Michalis proclaimed recognising the doting expression the younger man wore, “But be mindful because of the demon that lurks in her blood. She and your children will not be accepted among our society. As they are danger to us all.”

“They’re only children.”

“And will grow into fine warriors. I am sure.”

“What do you intend to do with them?” Gaius asked. His blue eyes narrowing on the Grand Elder.

“Nothing, yet. I plan to turn the other way as I see you and your family choose to live away from us and on the abandoned hill above the magma where the Valdis members claimed their roots centuries ago. None of you have committed any crimes in the past severe or otherwise. As such, I will not harm your family’s reputation or take them away from you. However, some may not agree with this decision. As such, you’ll be under the protection of the Cratians until we deem you safe.”

“Deem us safe? Are we endanger of some kind?” Gaius queried, confused.

The Grand Elder never answered and only said, “I trust you’ll take good care of those children.” Then footfalls entered the room and Gaius was escorted out of the Council Chamber and into the halls of the Cetatea. He stared at the large elegant door and his brows furrowed in thought.

“Why must you be so evasive?” Gaius muttered than travelled the halls of the Cetatea and towards an energetic carriage. He climbed within, and off the vehicle went, and towards his home on the hill. When he climbed out of the vehicle, it hummed gently behind him before the vehicle pulled away and down the stone path. Gaius turned his heel and walked up to the manor. The door opened without him needing to place his hand on the scanner and there stood, Aiden. “Aiden? You’re still here?” he asked, eyeing the other man.

“I am but I’m about to leave for the evening,” Aiden declared, with a warm smile. Warmer than he’d ever expected.

“I understand,” Gaius uttered. “Have a good night.” Aiden stepped by Gaius and climbed into his energetic vehicle before disappearing down the road. Gaius entered the house, closing the door behind him he shrugged off his coat stitched with his family’s fire crest and placed it on the hook beside his door. “Kids!” he called, into the house.

No response.

He climbed the stairs and toward the children’s bedroom. Noel-Len and Gothalia peacefully slept in their shared bedroom and he smiled. They were asleep and no doubt their cousins would be home by now with their parents and in bed as they should be.

Then his attention moved to his bedroom opposite the hall. He entered the room and turned on the fire, which lit up the walls of the room. He was alone and that made him a little sad. He wondered when Natalia would return.

How he missed her but pushed his mind from it aware that it would only bring on unwanted heart ache. He sighed than entered the room and closed the door behind him.

He removed his clothes than moved to the bathtub. He ran the cold water from the faucet then heated it up with his élanocytes. The water bubbled and steamed. He allowed the water to cool before climbing into the tub and relaxing his tired muscles.

Gaius placed his head on the back of the tub and sighed in delight. “Perfect,” he muttered, appreciating the warm water after a long day. Than he noticed a figure in the doorway and moved to cover himself only to stare in wonder.

“You think?” Natalia asked, dressed in only her underwear. He recognised her skin covered in scars from countless battles, but it was still smooth to the touch. The colour of her brown skin gleamed beneath the fire like bronze and his arousal rushed through him. “I merely thought the water was too warm.”

“That’s because you’re not an Ignatius. By blood I mean,” he said, and relaxed further into the water. He smiled as she removed the silk wrap from her frame and wandered over to him. Lust flashed across his eyes and she moved over to the bathtub and massaged his shoulders.

“There are so many things I could say to that, but I won’t,” she purred. “I’m simply happy to be back. I missed you.”

“I missed you more.” Then she leaned over and kissed him. Both, unaware of the figures outside their manor and fallen Cratians in the shadows of the night watching the silent house.

*.*.*

The night was young, and Natalia sighed in delight as she laid in bed beside Gaius. The air was cold against their skin but not so cold by the small controlled fire that lined the room.

“Keep this up and we’ll have more children,” he told her, and Natalia smiled.

“Is that such a bad thing?” she asked, content. “I’m no longer a soldier. I get to live my life in peaceful bliss even if it means with a swollen belly.”

“But you are still an accommodator of Midnight Eclipse,” Gaius responded. “They could call upon you when they need to, and anything could happen.” Natalia sighed and propped herself up on her elbow to eye her husband. Even until this day, she couldn’t begin to believe he was all hers and she was all his.

“They most likely will my love,” Natalia replied, stroking his jaw. “But I can’t ignore the fact that I have a family to take care of.” She ran her fingers through his blond hair as he ran his fingers through her black hair. They regarded each other with a lingering gaze and contemplated their lives. Natalia snuggled into him and he held her close. “My family is my number one priority not the Fragments that make up Midnight Eclipse. Not the wars, the famine, the droughts. Not the crimes but you and Noel-Len and Gothalia.”

Than they paused, listening to each other’s heart beats until they heard a clatter in the distance. “What was that?” Natalia asked, uncertain. The house was normally dead quiet at this time of the night.

“Not sure,” he declared, his brows furrowed. “Probably Noel-Len and Gothalia.”

“They shouldn’t be up,” Natalia declared, “It’s past their curfew.”

Another clatter occurred followed by a loud thud. Natalia and Gaius climbed out of bed and dressed before rushing to the children. Noel-Len and Gothalia were still in bed asleep.

They relaxed a little until Gaius regarded his wife for a moment with one single look in his eye, ‘someone’s in the house’. Natalia nodded and pulled out a handheld from the cabinet beside the children’s room and threw it to Gaius then disappeared into the room with the children.

Cautiously, Gaius stepped down the stairs. Than Lord Michalis’s words entered his mind—“some may not agree with this decision”—when he made it to the landing, he pointed the weapon Natalia had given him into the darkness.

Silence greeted him.

His eyes adjusted to the dark than he saw it. A figure in the shadows and he lowered his weapon. “Anaphora?” he questioned, confused. “What are you doing in my house? At this time of night.” He turned on the light and he spotted the other people in his house—all of which he knew. Quickly, Anaphora turned off the light.

“We don’t have a lot of time,” Anaphora declared then rushed past him with L’Eiron behind her than Maximus and Anton’s parents. “Come on,” she said.

“No not come on,” Gaius uttered, annoyed, and bumped into L’Eiron who scowled at him. “What is going on and why are we in the dark?”

“There are soldiers outside,” Anaphora declared.

“And they have live rounds,” Mia declared, Maximus and Anton’s mother. “They killed everyone.”

“And I let them know we’re in the house,” Gaius declared, horrified.

“That you did.” Anaphora remarked glaring at him.

“Where are the children: Noel-Len and Gothalia?” Anaphora asked, halfway up the stairs.

“In bed,” Gaius declared, exasperated. He wasn’t too sure why he was annoyed. If anything, he was scared. Scared that what Lord Michalis had told him was true. His family was in danger and for what purpose? He had no idea. Instead, he regarded his surroundings searching for an answer and knew that his home was home to many other members of the Valdis clan. With Jax, Mia’s husband, he exited his home and entered the night, searching for survivors.

It was a risky move, he knew. If there were soldiers, they’d shoot him and Jax with no problem but seeing that there were no laser pointers on him, and their building wasn’t heavily surrounded he assumed they were hidden at the edge of the estate waiting in the shrubs. Quickly, he moved across the estate and towards the houses at the base of the hill.

He regarded the darkness around him, and not once did he ignite a fire in his palm even if he wished that he could. As he knew that the fire in his palm would tell the enemy where they were, even if they didn’t already know where they were. Both Jax and Gaius crept across the open grass before running to the first house and forcing open the door.

Bodies covered the floor. Gaius regarded his brother-in-law and his wife were on the ground. He ran by them and towards the children’s room. Blood smeared the walls and his hand covered his mouth. Jax turned away.

Gaius ran out of the house to the next one, it was the same result. Then the next house, some bodies were strung up as if they were tortured and Gaius grew angrier with each senseless killing, he saw. When they’d checked all the houses Jax declared. “We told you.”

“I had to see for it myself,” Gaius said. “You should get out of here.”

“What are you going to do? You’re not going to do something stupid are you?” Jax asked. His fair skin shone beneath the artificial moon as the cool false air greeted them. His dark eyes watched Gaius carefully and Gaius’s blue eyes lingered over the garden in the distance.

“Not particularly,” Gaius uttered.

“Why is it that I don’t like this one bit,” Jax prompted.

“I understand you may not like it, but they targeted our family.” Gaius said.

“And we must pay them back tenfold.”

“That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

Than the crunch of stone not too far from them caught their attention. Gaius and Jax faced the sound and noticed a soldier with a sword on his back and a rifle pointed at Gaius and Jax. “Did you kill them?” he asked the soldier who appeared to not respond until he said:

“Stand down.”

“Never,” Gaius declared.

Another soldier crept out from one house and towards them. Gaius held up his hands as Jax did. “Secure them,” one said.

As the soldier moved towards Gaius an explosion struck the soldier in the back from a strand of fire in the air. The soldier screamed in pain and the second soldier fired his rounds quickly, Jax pulled Gaius out of the way and he allowed his élanocytes to consume him and he vanished in a cloud of black smoke and far from the soldiers and closer to the main house—his house. He ran inside with Jax at his feet once they were inside Gaius slammed the door shut and locked it.

Beside the stairs, he spotted Natalia with Gothalia and Noel-Len. Both children appeared to have woken up with their messy hair and sleepy eyes.

Anaphora declared, “We need to get out of here.”

“How? We’re trapped,” Gaius declared. “We’ll have to fight our way out.”

“You know the law. If we resist than we’ll—” Mia began.

“If we don’t resist, we’ll be dead.” Gaius countered.

“Mum, what’s going on?” Gothalia asked and her mother glanced down at her.

She kneeled before Gothalia and pulled her into a quick hug. “Nothing you need to worry about.”

“They’re after the Fragments of Midnight Eclipse.” Natalia declared.

“They could be, but I think it’s something else.” Gaius replied.

“What makes you think that?”

“If they were after the Fragments, they would have attacked us and not the others. They’re not just after the Fragments. They’re wanting to wipe us out.” Gaius replied.

Mia pulled her children close to her and attempted to keep her composure, but Gaius saw it. She was scared and she had every right to be. She had the lowest unstable élanocyte count and was unable to activate her demon.

Her, the soldiers may keep alive, but Gaius wasn’t too sure. He couldn’t risk placing his trust in something that was only a fifty percent chance but there was something he knew he could do.

Gaius moved to the door once more and told everyone to stay indoors. “What are you going to do?” Natalia asked.

“The only thing I can do. Those soldiers, they’re Centurions and as far as I’m concerned answer to me as the General of the Excelian battalions. However, if there orders come from someone else than there's nothing that I can do.”

“Do they know it’s you they’re attacking?” Mia asked.

“They know.” Gaius responded.

“How?”

“Honestly, it’s a hunch.”

“I’m getting the children somewhere safe,” Natalia said, guiding the children away from their parents. Maximus and Anton fussed and didn’t want to go but their mother Mia told them to and they calmed a little, but confusion wrought their expressions and it broke her heart.

“We’ll be together soon,” Mia replied kissing both her children on the head. “Go with Aunty Nat and be good.” They nodded and the children were on their way out of the house by the back route.

The air filled with a sense of dread and Gaius turned to Mia. “You can leave too.”

“No, I’m staying with my husband.”

“Mia—” Jax began.

“—No, I’m not losing you,” she replied.

“Go with our boys. You’ll be safer with Nat.”

“No. I’m not losing you,” Mia repeated staring Jax down. “I’m not losing you.”

“Okay,” he said, than they both turned their attention to Gaius. “What are we going to do?” he asked.

“We fight,” Gaius said. “If they want to wipe us out. We’ll show them why the Valdis clan is feared.” Everyone in the room carefully regarded Gaius. “And we’ll show them what happens when they mess with us.”

Anaphora stepped forward, “I’ll be happy to fight for my clan and my home.”

“Me too,” L’Eiron said. “I’m tired of them always giving us a hard time.”

“Honestly, so am I,” Mia said. “They always find reasons to demonise us.”

Gaius placed a hand on her shoulder. “I know it isn’t fair but that’s why we have each other. We are stronger together than we are divided.” Gaius removed his hand and moved to the door. He leaned against it and listened for subtle movement than his eyes drifted to the other members. “We need to cause a distraction and limit their numbers. Here’s what we’re going to do: Anaphora, you and L’Eiron cause enough noise and distract them enough to draw their attention and out in the open.”

“Mia, you and Jax will be with me and work to take them out silently, understand?” he asked Mia, aware she had military training but never enlisted for as long as he, Natalia, Anaphora and L’Eiron.

“I understand.” Mia declared, there was a hesitation in her voice but there was a determination in her eyes. Everyone caught it but they never commented. They knew ever since they could remember that for Mia, the sight of blood from others always turned her stomach. Jax held slipped his hand in hers and held it.

“On the count of three,” Gaius declared. “We split up and carry out the plan. It doesn’t matter how you do it.” His eyes on Anaphora and L’Eiron. “Distract those bastards so we can survive. If not us, the children.” They nodded. “One. Two. Three!” Quickly, they ran to their positions. L’Eiron and Anaphora ran out the back of the house and towards the side while Gaius found a few rifles he’d brought home from a mission as souvenirs and he was certain there were only a limited amount of bullets than he smiled. “That could work,” he muttered to himself and tossed the weapons at Mia and Jax.

“What about you?” Jax asked.

“I don’t need it,” Gaius declared, “because I’m going to make those bullets have a massive impact.”

Mia and Jax shared a look than smiled. “We just may have a chance then,” she commented.

“Agreed.” said Jax.

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K Johansson Studios has helped writers and authors for years by providing them with the best services and quality products necessary to help them achieve their dream. From ghost-writing through to book trailer design and animation, we ensure the best outcome for our customers. We pride ourselves on providing quality services at an affordable price. Owned by author Kalverya Johansson, K Johansson Studios, has everything you could ever want or need as a creator and writer.ABOUT

K Johansson Studios has helped writers and authors for years by providing them with the best services and quality products necessary to help them achieve their dream. From ghost-writing through to book trailer design and animation, we ensure the best outcome for our customers. We pride ourselves on providing quality services at an affordable price. Owned and operated by author Kalverya Johansson and her team, K Johansson Studios, has everything you could ever want or need as a creator and writer.

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