Awakening to her sister Kyonna, slapping her hard across the face, Elle finally shakes the effects of her night mare off. Her sleep intermittent, restful at times and others bleak and restless.
“What, where am I,” Elle demands unaware of her surroundings.
“Were in quarantine remember?” Kyonna says.
Swooning from her massive head ache Elle, rubs her head and neck.
“Oof, shit Kyonna my head hurts so bad where is Trey?” Elle asks.
“You got a bad gash on the back of your head sis…so tell me about Trey.” Kyonna continues to reconnect with her older sister, soaking the blood up with gauze she pats Elle’s head and continues to ask.
“How did you meet?”
“It’s a long story sis,” Elle states.
“Then give me the short version,” Kyonna remarks.
“It was 25 years ago, at the Cower fair saw him walking with this huge beast of a man”…
“Red,” Wendy interrupts.
“Yes that’s correct Wendy, so I saw him he saw and approached me-- the rest is history,” Elle says.
“Ah- really no details,” Kyonna exhales rolling her eyes disappointed.
“What do you expect sis I’m sore and tired- you want what kind of details?” Kyonna smiles in naughty fashion, at her sister’s question.
“No, you’re being naughty.”
“Elle come on. I’m your closest sister you never give me details.” Kyonna states.
“Ok when we get through this mess all of it I will, tell you everything,” Elle promises. “You are a bad influence on me.”
Smiling at each other they are interrupted buy the thick metal door clanking open. The sound echoes resonating of the cell walls, two heavy guards enter and force them apart. Taken hold of buy the shoulders Wendy, Kyonna, and Elle are chained together at the neck. Forced down a narrow corridor long and narrow, this is The Gauntlet. Hundreds of guards line the corridor amassed the upper walls. Looking, on as the sister’s wait their turn to be eradicated they observe other victims - in a firestorm of hail fire the helpless victims are wiped clean of their skin color. This victim is white and by the end of his run of the gauntlet he is translucent- weekend, bloodied, bruised and in pain he falls to his knees. Kyonna looks over at Elle, in kind she gazes back at her younger sister and speaks, assuring her that they will be ok.
“Kyonna, look at me please follow my lead we will survive this-- I hope,” Elle says worried of the outcome.
“Ah sis we got this, I got this I’ll take care of you,” Kyonna assures Elle.
“You two in you go.” The two hesitate to enter. Impatiently waiting the guard who order them in grabs barks again.
“I won’t say it again in you go!” He grabs Elle buy the arm and violently swings her in. She falls to the floor violently, in retaliation picks the guard up and flings him into the wall. With her mind power at its optimum peak, he cracks the brick like plate glass and it shatters killing him. Quickly the guards fire, in vengeance for their fallen comrade; but to no avail. Kyonna, blocks all the pellets with her newly acquired skills and returns them to where they came.
“Kyonna- how are you doing that,” Elle asks pleasantly shocked.
“You taught me, remember I just needed a reason to apply your instructions!” Kyonna continues.
“Plus after what I’ve seen I believe.”
“I thought you were ignoring me all those years,” Elle says turning to her sister proud. Elle’s smile turns sour she shouts.
“Kyonna, look out,” She turns to face a large hulking beast it slurs a name, Marie.”
“Only friends and family call me that- my name is Kyonna -you will burn!!” She shouts.
Her nearest threat burst into a hell storm of fire, strangely no signs of fire anywhere from her. All her victims burn from the inside out, leaving empty shells of hardened ash that smolder internally. The angrier the more her power peaks she concentrates on the guards who all succumb to this carnal deity, this new form of power. Kyonna glows, and smiles at her sister and friends who arrive to help them out. Trey in awe watches Kyonna, toy with the guards.
“Hey Elle when and where did she learn to do this?” Wendy asks with Red and Trey chiming in.
“I don’t know my guess would be early on in childhood.”
Elle continues recollecting their past, the childhood - and then she remembered.
Kyonna’s first episode of this, she was being bullied, by school thugs when she set them ablaze her victims ashen and charred bodies frozen in time. That was the day people came to ask -“what the hell was going on if that girl can do that?”
Elle, quickly respond to their questions, with a lie-” she didn’t no one did.” Then never spoke of it again.
“Look we’ve got to get to the others, they won’t survive the Eradication, hello I’m talking about Kyonna and Elle,” Wendy says to both men. Still confused and in a concussed state Trey and Red respond- “hang on let us get organized gather our composure please, then get up and move!”
“Well where are we?” Wendy asks.
“From what I can see we are on the west wing directly across the girls” Red states interrupted by Trey.
“Yeah I see them; we can get there easy Red you ready,” Trey asks steadying himself.
“You give me no choice- God I hate this,” Red says in a darker tone.
“What do you hate what is it baby?” Wendy frightened continues to pry.
“Baby?“… Ignoring his new found love Red concentrates on his task, as Wendy panics scurrying around in terror; she doesn’t know what’s going on.
Strange, Wendy looks back over at Red who now is kneeling one knee down, and his arms stretched down to his sides. His fingers caress the smooth white stone. The marble titles start lifting -Peeling themselves up floating up until they reveal the blood pools below. These crimson pools boil the floor is littered in a checker board pattern; the bottoms of floating tiles are covered in boiling red too. The blood dances, and reaches towards the exact opposite vertically stretch out towards its companion. Screams of agony squeal to life as arms and hands appear. Wendy still in loss is gripped with fear, Trey looks over at her as she backs toward the window and he gives her comfort.
“It’s ok Wendy - they aren’t here for us- they’re on our side.”
Each blood square forms undead humanistic creatures called Abanthium. They gradually get larger in size each Abanthium are different and from most demonic races creeds. So individual in construction they appear more independent and roam freely when in fact they are one, stemming from Red they grab the floor walls anything they can find except friends. Without warning they yank and tear rip and shred while pulling whatever it is down with them. The tiles fall back into place all but a couple jiggle with faint screams. When Wendy opens her eyes she notices that Kyonna, and Elle are safe and back together with her Trey, and Red. The grand house they once inhabited is now rubble heaps, swelling over surprisingly not a single scratch on the five friends.
“Wow, we all reunited honey how did you do that?” Wendy asks.
“Abanthium Wendy, thanks to the big guy’s help, they come upon his calling and aid by devouring everything in their path,” Elle interrupts while giving Red a hug.
“Then why are we still alive?” Wendy asks.
“The Abanthium sees all hostiles and their pertaining property as a deep orange hue, we show up as golden halos so therefore we are saved.” Trey explains.
“Huh – strange; but ok,” Wendy responds.
“We’ve got to keep moving before Blaze finds out about his palace.” Trey informs.
“Trey is right we had best get moving- now people,” Red delegates with a stern tone.
With Trey and Elle leading the way the group continues south. They stop occasionally to plot new courses, as they get further south the more patrols and guard posts are set up meant to keep Leethan occupants in, and Paradise City residents out. The WO monitors these areas heavily, with an array of weapons and vehicles, the Striders March up and down the streets, awkwardly fleeting. Occasionally stopping to plaster strays with an emulsion beam which highlights them, rendering them permanent targets until they have been processed or punished.
“Alright it’s clear let’s get moving before they come back,” Red informs the group.
Heading up to a newer park, they seek shelter for the night. Still pressing on they scour the land searching for shelter and concealment. Stopping in the heavily wooded groves, to hide from scouts the group waits silently. They sit and rest, dusk is closing in fast the bright green sunset lends strong reminders as to the hell this city went through. Hints of orange dance along the skyline, Leehan saturates her sky with overbearing sadness evident in her baron streets and dilapidated silhouette.
“God have you ever seen such a sad sight?” Elle asks.
“Well Leethan has been through 4 World Wars-“Kyonna interrupts. “Yeah true, especially this last one with the WO.”
“We can chat later right now we’ve got to find good cover,” Trey instructs.
“Look, up ahead, a lift station there’s enough shelter underground we should be clear.” Red points out.
“Yeah, I see it, looks like a good place to hide form those Striders, their patrol will be on us shortly.” Trey adds.
With the increased patrols continuing through the night, the group gets little sleep, as they constant sound of the Striders echo through the park. Reminiscing on days past, they sit huddled close Kyonna voice breaks the silence.
“La Wanda, we forgot her,” she says emphatically.
“No, she didn’t want to join us she is working with mother,” Elle remarks then angrily continues, “She, doesn’t want to be a part of us or our cause, she’s lost.”
Interrupted by Red, the two sisters listen, and try to understand her motives.
“Wanda is trying to save her husband and family, she has been threatened by, your mom to comply or she’ll lose everything.” Red says.
“What- what, I had no idea,” Kyonna relays shocked.
Elle is dismayed at the news and reacts in much the same manner as her sister.
“How, could any of you possibly have known?” Elle asks.
“Her husband sought us out, and told us,” Red informs with sad tones of despair.
“Oh, I see,” Kyonna says.
“Look, I know how difficult it is; but try to get some sleep- we need the rest.” Trey instructs.
The thick night air is filled with a ripe odor of ozone as blue mists emit from large tesla like towers. These towers litter the city, hurling their unearthly qualms across the land. Whiteout, and Clorox overlooking their handy work. The strange blue mists settle and seep into the surrounding environment. Now laden with, blue hues a barrier is created from it, the electrical field covers the entire area where the emulsion seeped. The current is so strong that it fries several guards standing to close.
“Good that should keep everyone inside Leethan,” Clorox says.
“We’ve lost several guards in sectors 4-7; they came within proximity of the charge fields.” a commanding officer informs.
“Morons, is what you have given me,” Whiteout shouts at Clorox.
“If you insinuating, that I have provided the haphazard enforcement think again’- Clorox continues to defend her case- ’the markings suggest Blaze is to blame.”
Whiteout, turns and walks away ignoring her partner, she still suspects her intentions are evil.
Entering the next area, Whiteout hails her assassin, “Madeleine- I need you to track and report Clorox’s every move then report your findings back to me.”
“Yes, will do, surely as we are talking right now she suspects an ulterior motive,” Madeline retorts.
“None the less, I need you to be discreet about this- Madeleine under no circumstances are you to be detected - we need your best on this,” Whiteout instructs.
“Understood my lady,” Madeleine responds.
Madeline leaves; cloaking herself the mission has begun. Clorox heads out, to the far North outpost. Greeted by Blaze, her inquisition begins.
“How is it that Serinnah, knows about our plans to take over her operation? It’s your fault we are in this mess Blaze.” Clorox emphatically states.
“Don’t accuse me, you’re the one who took the documents and associated plans to the board of trusties” Blaze continues angrily; “A board that was created by her- a board to which is associated and managed by the WO.”
“You mean the ’Panel?”
“Yes, the ‘Panel’- you have handed yourself and your plan over to her.” Blaze suggests.
Catching the full jist of the conversation Madeline, broadcasts the conversation to Whiteout in real time. In a thick heavy rain, Madeline continues her surveillance and tracking. Following Clorox and her caravan to, her headquarters where she enters her lab, is in prime position to continue her mission. Looking at all the duplicate surrogates her specimens are derived from Whiteout’s designs. She looks closely then heads down the corridor for research and development in the back.
“These, drones will not do’- Clorox says instructing her team to reconfigure the designs she continues her instruction.
“They must be I identical to Whiteouts,” she bellows.
“We, need the syntax - the code without it we can’t complete the product.”
“Whiteout doesn’t use a code she has placed an algorithm in the clones, infecting the body with this allows them to function at ungodly rates.”
“Well whatever she uses we need it our product is useless without it.”
Clorox looks on - standing in front of the prototypes, gazing on this work she storms off instructing her team to find this syntax by any means necessary.
The sweet ripe smell of Ozone, thick and ripe unveils its freshness that sets in on Red and Trey’s location.
Sniff “Trey- you smell that,” Red asks.
“Yes, Ozone- come on everyone let’s get moving, wake up,” Trey commands “We are leaving!”
“How did they find us, and which way will we go?” Kyonna asks, in agreement with her Wendy and Elle nod. Moving along into a near buy storm drain they all drop into a massive tunnel.
“This way,” Trey comands.
Running they make their way into Paradise City, finally exiting the tunnel at Confluence Park. The tunnel ends, and with silence chocking the early morning air they pause.
“Shh, quiet you hear that?” Red asks.
“Hear what?” Elle and the girls ask.
“Yes, brother I do,” Trey confirms.
“Ah, hello guys- hear what exactly?” Wendy demands.
“Silence, it’s too quiet.” Red responds smiling at his new love.
“Agreed brother- far too quite can you sense anything?” Red asks Trey.
“No my senses are cluttered- I’m not picking up anything.”
Trusting Trey’s instincts or lack thereof they set out. Kyonna takes the lead now “hang on boy’s I’ve got this,” She says.
Kyonna grabs the medallion, clutches it in her left hand, and leads them out. Through the park, and into an adjacent high rise, where her apartment is located they move. Managing to escape one of the patrols, they enter her apartment; her son in the hidden compartment in the floor comes out, after she knocks the secret code.
“Clorox, is after all first born children,” Kyonna states.
“Well that’s a puzzling development,” Elle states.
“Why so puzzling, she wants the first born to prevent the influx of over population.” Trey says.
“Remember this is Paradise City.” Red interrupts.
“My, point exactly,” Elle reiterates.
“So, why is she after the first born?” Kyonna asks then continues.
As the group looks out onto Columbine, watching swarms of imagrants come in through the gates from Leethan.
The new residents are being sorted, extradited the first born from their families the new residents are shipped to Leethan.
“I came here under false pretense, I assumed that Paradise City was a safe haven for us and my son; but now I’m not so sure.”
“Why are they, being transferred to a prison in Leethan?” Elle and Wendy ask.
“As far as I can tell these are innocent people.” Wendy says.
“I don’t know; but I’m willing to bet the I formation we seek will tell us,” Red affirms.
“This place - Leethan is no longer the same,” Trey states aloud.
“Come brother let us eat, rest while we figure out what is going on.”
“Yeah, your right Red I need to rejuvenate- we all could use it.”
Cooking food Kyonna’s scar is in full view for her sister to see, Elle responds to what she sees.
“I had no idea, that the scar Clorox left was so extensive,” she says helping her sister now cook.
“Well, you saw it in the hospital- remember,” Kyonna asks.
“I saw it, I just didn’t pay attention to how bad it was,” Elle quibbles.
“Well, now you know It’s why I asked you to train me to become a Which- so I can defend myself.”
“Alright sis I hear you, but why Clorox did this is beyond me.”
“Ah, that is easy - she told me- she was jealous of my good looks and spectacular body.”
“So now look at me I’m scared horribly for life.”
“Well none the less I’m shocked and upset, actually pissed is more like it,” Elle spits off in a rant.
“Why, you have always been distant and removed since Wanda left.” Kyonna quibbles back.
“That’s because you asked me to leave you alone.” Elle retorts.
As the two continue to argue, they move out of the kitchen Trey and Red look over some more maps and partial documents gathered from Blaze’s fortress. Wendy goes and breaks up the argument, the two are left to sort through all the new information.
“There’s not much to go through,” Red says.
“So far all we have is that Clorox has turned against Blaze and Whiteout, going behind their backs essentially stealing plans and intercepting information, without giving either party any hint as to her doings,” Trey adds.
“She has even put 24 hour surveillance on them,” Red confirms.
“Why, would she need to put a Recon team on them constantly?”
“I don’t know Red; but it’s evident she has taken interest in everyone’s activities.”
“That Trey, we will find out,” Red says.
“I hear you, what in the world would cause Clorox to turn against her allies?” Kyonna asks.
“That is what I intend to find out,” Trey confirms.
“And we will,” Red states in assurance looking at Kyonna and her sisters.
“Well, one thing is for certain we aren’t safe here anymore.”
“Yeah, looks like Whiteout is sending her men after us, and we don’t have much time,” Wendy states.
Again Kyonna takes, the lead heading out of her apartment, down the hall to the maintenance corridor, she speaks “quickly, down here follow the ladder all the way to the bottom.” Pointing down the shaft you can’t make out the bottom. “Trust me the best way to avoid anyone is down there, it will take you out of Leethan and into the Hub.”
“What is Ashen?”
“Seriuosly,” Wendy says looking at both Trey and Red- “It’s a free trade market also known as the Skai Tower. It also is the name of our once proud province, where both Leethan and Paradise city resides.”
Looking puzzled neither, are familiar with it. “Never been and we dam sure never heard of it.” Red states.
“The information we seek is in the Hub, ask for the Librarian there we will find out all of the pieces to this puzzle to us will be revealed.” Elle, Kyonna confirms.
“Look all we know is, the rest of the pieces to this mystery are there. SBS, order 2413. We need that information, plus all the rest of it to solve this.”
“Ah, can you please get moving, the guards are at my apartment as we speak,” Kyonna shouts.
“Regardless of the past we need to move forward, we’ve got to split up.”
“Alright- men together women together?” Kyonna asks.
“No- its better if one of us goes with you- and Elle.” Trey states continuing “If you three are marked, and Serinnahs daughters that makes you a high priority -you will need help- Red will go with you,” Trey orders- “Wendy and I will stick together.”
Moving down the ladder Red quietly closes the hatch, turns the handle and pulls the ripcord in front of him. The hatch seals itself welded shut they move down, quietly. The blackness of the room is met by subtle hints of orange glow, the light outlines a shadow. Sitting, in a chair the shadow in a relaxed position turns the chair around.