After the special ones learn of their heritage and why they are special, their world drastically changes, and they must flee for their lives. When they are tasked with helping the opposition defeat the rogues and free the planet of Adoran from their cruel rule, they must work as a team and use their special skills to complete their missions. After the rogues on Adoran are defeated, the special ones are summoned to their home planet of Ulterion to face the rogues in one final battle.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.81(d)|
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The Special Ones
By SB White
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 SB White
All rights reserved.
"Way to go, Manx. It's your best time ever." Wren's voice was filled with excitement as she watched the muscled yellow cat leap from a high ramp to land on the floor of the barn and then swiftly change into a girl.
The inside of the large barn resembled an obstacle course and was filled with ramps that led to various levels of boards inside the building. Across the length of the floor were over-and-under hurdles; climbing ropes hung from the rafters; and mats were placed to one side to practice agility and defense tactics.
Breathing hard, the girl called Manx leaned over to catch her breath. Her long yellow hair had come loose from the braid at the back of her neck. With anxious green eyes, she looked toward a tall man standing nearby, waiting for him to acknowledge her effort.
The man stepped forward, leaned down to pat her shoulder, and said, "Congratulations, Manx. You have done well." The man looked around at the other children in the large barn and told them, "Gather around, my special ones. I have something important to tell you."
The children moved quickly to comply. Boxer, a twelve-year-old boy, was tall and slim with dark hair and eyes, and he resembled the tall man. Battle, age eleven, had wide shoulders and a stout build. His hair was steel-gray in color, and his eyes were a piercing blue. Wren, an eight-year-old girl with brown hair and eyes was the smallest of the group. And Manx was ten. The children fondly called the man Grand Pierre, and they had lived with him and Aunt May on the farm for the past five years.
Grand Pierre looked at the children and told them, "Each of you has mastered your unique skills and excelled at physical challenges. I cannot teach you any more."
Confusion began to cover the children's faces, but they stayed silent.
Grand Pierre continued. "Tonight we will celebrate with a special dinner, and tomorrow we are going on an outing."
The children looked at each other and grinned, excited about the celebration that would be a change from their usual sparse meal. The children never went hungry, but they also never left uneaten food on their plates.
"Will Aunt May make a dessert for us?" Wren could not wait to find out.
Aunt May had taught the children to call them Grand Pierre and Aunt May and not by their real names, knowing that the names of Piers and Maileen could give them away.
Grand Pierre chuckled and replied, "I'm sure she will have a special treat to celebrate your graduation. Now go and clean up for dinner."
As Grand Pierre opened the barn doors, the last light of day filled the barn, and the children hurried down the path that led to a large two-story house.
As promised, Aunt May had baked a special cake with frosting for dessert. After the empty dinner plates had been carried into the kitchen, Boxer said to Grand Pierre, "You said we are going on a trip tomorrow. Where are we going?" Grand Pierre motioned for everyone to come into the living room. The children gathered around Grand Pierre's chair, anxious to hear his response, for outings were rare occasions. When they went on trips to learn about the forest and the animals that lived there, they were never allowed to reveal their special skills. All of their training sessions were held in the old barn, with the doors tightly closed.
Grand Pierre considered his answer and then said, "It's the final test you must pass. Now off to bed and get to sleep. Tomorrow could be a long day."
Knowing it was useless to try to pry more information out of Grand Pierre, the children said their good-nights and climbed the wooden stairs to their bedrooms. It would be hard for them to get to sleep. Wondering where they were going and what final test Grand Pierre would have for them kept them awake long into the night.
The children had finished their breakfast and were waiting outside for Grand Pierre. Manx and Wren were swinging on a wooden swing on the front porch. Boxer and Battle were in the yard practicing defense tactics.
"You're too slow." Boxer laughed as he jumped out of Battle's reach and spun around, catching Battle by surprise and tripping him, causing him to fall backward.
As Boxer reached down to help Battle up, Grand Pierre came around the side of the house. He was driving a vehicle with four tall wheels and a large cage affixed to the rear. There were no doors on the vehicle, and inside were two seats in front and a large bench across the back. Grand Pierre referred to the vehicle as "the transport."
"Climb in, children," Grand Pierre said when he had stopped the transport.
"Where are we going?" Battle asked as he climbed onto the bench beside the two girls. Being the oldest, Boxer always sat in front with Grand Pierre.
"Not far. The transport's energy source is becoming weak," Grand Pierre answered.
Once the children were seated, Grand Pierre pushed a knoblike button, and the transport silently rolled forward.
It was a treat for the children to be outside enjoying the warmth from the sun and seeing the variety of vegetation that populated the dense forest. Wren especially liked the bright-green trees with tendrils that spiraled from their tops to the ground. Battle pointed out massive, orange-striped leaves that grew from some of the plants. Manx loved the purple-flowered trees and always picked some flowers to bring back for Aunt May.
Boxer watched the dense forest, looking for animals, but he did not see any. Early mornings or late evenings were the best times to find animals eating the large leaves — or the ones who hunted the leaf-eaters. "I don't remember going this way before," he commented as the transport climbed the steep trail to reach the top of the mountain.
The mountain could be seen from the barn, but this was the first time Grand Pierre had gone this way. Once the transport had made it to the top, the mountain leveled off into a flat, rocky area.
"Hold on tight," Grand Pierre warned as the transport started down a steep trail on the side opposite the one they had come up. The trail ran downward into a narrow valley with a stream running through the middle.
Grand Pierre stopped the transport beside the stream. He looked around and said, "This should do nicely. Boxer, bring the food. We will lunch downstream. Come, children." He motioned for them to follow as he walked away. When they reached an open area, Grand Pierre stopped and told them, "We'll eat here."
For lunch Aunt May had packed buttered rolls and slices of yellow melon that grew near the farm. When they were finished eating, Grand Pierre stood and said, "My special ones, for five years we have lived on the farm, and during this time you have learned to master your special talents, become efficient in physical skills, and excel in all your studies. Each of you is different from the others, but you are also very much alike. You have trained hard and now must become a team, depend on each other, and always remember your Cs."
Grand Pierre looked at Boxer, who said, "Control."
Then at Battle, who said, "Cooperation."
Then at Manx, who said, "Caution."
Then at Wren, who said, "Curiosity."
Grand Pierre nodded. "Very good. You must remember to always control your powers, work as a team through cooperation, be cautious before you act, and be curious if you feel something needs explaining. You will make a great team. Boxer, you are the oldest and have advanced in leadership. Battle, you have a military heritage, both mental and physical. Manx has a technical understanding of how things work. And Wren, you have a special way of getting others to trust you. Soon you will have to depend on these skills to survive. I will leave now."
Grand Pierre started to walk away, and Manx jumped up and gasped, "Are you leaving us here?"
Grand Pierre faced the stunned group and explained. "Your final test is to work together as a team and find your way back to the farm. Tomorrow you will move to the Adoran settlement and will live at a place for children. Aunt May and I must leave too; the farm is no longer safe. I will explain more once you get back. Remember your Cs." Then Grand Pierre walked away from the shocked children.
"Maybe we can follow him," Wren uttered as she watched the tall man disappear. "The transport doesn't go fast."
"I don't think that's part of the test," Boxer replied and placed a hand on Wren's shoulder to stop her from running after Grand Pierre.
Once Grand Pierre was out of sight, Battle said, "We can go back the way we came. What do you remember?"
"I was looking at all the flowers and not watching the road," Manx admitted.
"I couldn't see anything but the tall trees," Wren added.
Boxer motioned for the others to gather around. He said, "If we return to where the transport parked by the stream, we can follow the tracks back up the mountain. Once we're on top, we can find the way through the forest that leads to the farm."
They all agreed that this was a good plan.
Boxer told Battle, "You take the lead, and I'll bring up the rear." Battle stood and started upstream, with the others trailing single-file behind.
A short time later, Battle held up his hand to signal a stop. He pointed to the ground and said, "Here is where the transport turned around and went that way toward the mountain."
Boxer looked toward the mountain. "Let's make our way to the top, and then we can decide what to do next."
Battle studied the area and pointed. "We can save time if we go this way and not follow the transport's tracks. It will be a steeper climb but faster."
"I agree." Boxer nodded and then looked at Wren and asked, "Can you make it?"
"Of course," Wren huffed. She then ordered Battle, "Lead on, commander," making everyone laugh.
The children finally reached the mountaintop and collapsed on the ground, breathing hard. The climb had been steeper than it looked, but it had saved them valuable time.
Wren sat up and said, "I could use a drink of water."
After a few minutes' rest, Boxer stood up. "I'm going to scout around and see if I recognize any trails leading down."
"Don't go far," Manx warned. "I don't think we're alone." Her inherited catlike senses told her that they were being watched. Her warning caused Battle to begin to pace back and forth while looking around.
"Let's all go and stay together," Wren cautioned, and she took hold of Manx's hand.
Boxer led the way across the top of the mountain. He stopped at the edge to look around and said, "There are several trails to go down. Do you recognize anything?"
"On the way up I remember seeing a large tree with huge purple flowers," Manx eagerly said.
"I can fly and look for the tree," Wren offered, looking up at Boxer. His hesitation caused her to add, "It will save us time and keep us from getting lost."
Battle stepped up beside Boxer, looked out across the forest below, and said, "It looks safe from here."
"Wren, make one circle and fly back," Boxer said firmly, giving in to her suggestion.
"Okay," Wren answered. She ran forward, held out her arms and jumped, instantly transforming into a brown bird with red feathers across the breast.
Flapping her wings to gain height, Wren made a small circle over the others and then flew away. The others watched anxiously as Wren became smaller in the blue sky. She flew halfway across the forest canopy and circled around. Suddenly she dove downward and then flew back up, chirping a detection signal.
"She did it!" exclaimed Manx, and the three children started down the mountain to where Wren circled a tall tree.
They were about halfway to their destination when a noise came from overhead. Startled by the swooshing sound, the three children looked up to see a large predator bird called a vivan flying directly toward Wren.
Manx screamed for Wren to dive, but Wren was too far away to hear. From a running leap, Boxer changed into a big black dog and howled a loud danger warning.
From their training sessions with Grand Pierre, Wren recognized Boxer's danger howl, and she glanced down to see Manx signaling her to dive. In one swift motion, Wren folded in her wings, as Grand Pierre had taught her, and aimed toward the flowering tree. The large vivan came closer, and Wren knew it was coming for her.
Wren tightened in her wings and dove even faster. The large tree with purple flowers was coming fast, and Wren knew she would crash at this speed, but she could not break the dive because the vivan was closing in on her. Tree or vivan snack? Wren chose the tree. The top branches knocked Wren to one side and then the other as she crashed toward the ground, but she had escaped the predator's sharp talons and instant death.
Wren continued to bounce from branch to branch until she fell from the bottom limb and changed back into a girl, landing hard on her back, winded from the impact. Scratches from the tree limbs covered her arms, and her shirt was torn in places. Wren sighed with relief.
Grand Pierre had tried to explain the changing process. Plain clothes merged into their animal forms, but they could not be holding other items when they changed. This discussion had occurred after Battle, trying to beat his record, had forgotten to drop a rope he was carrying — and changed. When he changed back, he still had the rope — but not his clothes. As Battle ran for cover, Grand Pierre said that the process was not quite perfected. Since then, they had all been careful to check before they changed forms.
Boxer raced up, leaped, and quickly changed from the sleek black dog. He knelt beside Wren and asked, "Are you hurt?" His dark eyes filled with worry.
Wren slowly pushed herself up and managed to whisper, "I don't think anything is broken." Still shaking from the close call, she looked at Boxer, hugged him, and said, "You saved me. Without your warning, I would not have escaped."
Manx and Battle ran up and asked, "Is Wren okay?"
"She just has the wind knocked out of her," Boxer told them.
Wren looked over at Manx and said in a shaky voice, "I found the tree." Everyone laughed, now that the scare with the vivan was over.
Manx pointed ahead. "We came down this way. We should go soon. Someone or something is following us."
"Wren can ride on my shoulders," Battle said.
Wren stood up, took a few steps, and said, "I'm okay — I think." And then she winced.
"Let me carry you until we are out of the forest," Battle said, and he lifted Wren up on his wide shoulders.
The children hurried through the forest until they came to a narrow path that Boxer recognized. He pointed. "If we follow this path, we will come out behind the barn."
"I can walk now. My ankle feels better," Wren said, and Battle lifted her down.
With Boxer in the lead, they started down the narrow path, single file.
"Something is following us," Manx warned.
When a low growl echoed around them, Boxer took hold of Wren's hand.
"You go ahead with the girls," Battle told Boxer. "I'll follow behind."
Battle turned to face the bushes where the growl had come from. He waited, and then jumped — instantly changing into a wide, doglike animal with thick armor-like hide across his muscled body and massive head. The steel-gray hairs on his neck stood up as he issued a warning growl, the meaning of which was clear: come any closer, and you will have to deal with me. Battle waited in animal form, and hearing no challenge to his warning, he turned and followed the path. When he caught up to the others, he changed back.
"I can see the house!" Wren shouted and ran ahead.
The other children looked at each other, grinned, and chased after her.
As they all jumped onto the porch, Grand Pierre opened the door and exclaimed, "Back before dark, my special ones! Very good, very good. Any problems?"
"It was a piece of cake," Boxer answered.
"Cake!" Wren looked up at Grand Pierre. "I hope there is some left. I could use a piece."
Grand Pierre noticed Wren's scratches and her disheveled appearance, but he didn't comment.CHAPTER 2
After the children had washed up and eaten dinner, everyone went into the living room. Grand Pierre and Aunt May sat on a worn couch, and the children sat on the floor in a circle around them.
Grand Pierre said, "First, I want to say how very proud I am of you and how quickly you made it back to the farm. Now I must prepare you for tomorrow and the changes you will face. I'm not sure if you remember anything about the time before we came to live at the farm, but I must tell you your past to prepare you for the future."
Boxer lifted his hand and said, "I remember loud noises, and people running and yelling, and you and Aunt May getting us out of a burning building. Sometimes I think it was just a bad dream."
Grand Pierre answered, "No, Boxer, it was no dream. Aunt May and I were very lucky to escape with you children. Aunt May and I came to this planet with a scientific team whose goal was to alter clones developed on our own planet with specific animal traits from this planet. We chose Adoran after searching for a planet with an atmosphere like our own and a varied selection of animals. This was a critical requirement for the altered children to survive when we would return to Ulterion."
Grand Pierre paused and looked at the astonished faces of the children.
Excerpted from The Special Ones by SB White. Copyright © 2016 SB White. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
The Training, I,
The Orphanage, 23,
Mission I, 52,
Mission 2, 80,
The Rescue, 109,
The Caves, 144,
The Secret Six, 171,
The Trap, 194,
The Attack, 218,
Bunny's SOS, 249,
The Return, 267,
The Choice, 284,
The Controller, 301,
The Fence, 316,
The Final Battle, 358,
The Future, 376,