A conference room in the lowest floor of Skai Tower, the president sits bustling over her work. A new recruit enters to address the shadow, Silva is a bright star above her class she is on the rise- loyal to the president and the people of Paradise City. “Report.” the shadow speaks, with a soft smooth voice, comforting and sultry.Her face enters into the light, to reveal her true identity. Serinnah, your daughters have found the documents, more importantly they are on the run.” The recruit says, nervous.
“Are they safe?”
“Yes, they are.” Silva retorts.
“Good, bring my car and tell my driver to set a course the Hub.” Serinnah worried, and nervous for her daughter’s safety, crosses her mind. Remembering, the life she lived a life before the war, and before the WO. She gazes at the happiness, of the pictures on the wall. Thick tears run down her face, as she thinks of the circumstances leading up to the eradications. Orders of the martial law, and now her only hope is to find her family and reunite- hopefully move out of Leethan. The cadet worried of this news, quickly interrupts Serrinah “Ahm, are you sure this is a good idea- Whiteout and her army is out on the prowl.” Still worried she continues to try to sway Serrinah out of going “Whiteout let you live, Serrinah she aloud you a safe haven here- please I recommend and urge you to abide.”Silva stern leans onto the president’s desk.
“I’m well aware of that- however as acting President of Paradise City, I must get to my family.” Silva, points out the dangers, very concerned for her boss- her aunt she fears the worst.
“If she catches you- you will be marked as a traitor- maybe worse.” Silva continues, to sway Serinnah “moving on the street her patrols are sure to discover you.”
“Then we will go underground, move below either way we must get to Kyonna.”
“Yes, but you’ll be captured- this city needs you.”
“Yes, is that so Silva? Whiteout must be stopped, I’m not going to sit idly by while that thing that creature is destroying my city, and her people.” Silva moves directly in front of Serinnah, and speaks stern and cognoscente of the situation “You have already, that’s how they were able to duplicate you.” “They already have gotten to us.” Moving aside she watches her aunt pass by, “wait you’re not going alone- not without me.”
“Stay here – Silva- please, I need you to run things here while I’m gone.”
“Then you’re not going- I’m not letting you get captured again-we can argue in the car if you’d like; but I’m coming with you.”
Heading out Silva calls for her agents, and together move to the underground tunnels.
“Hurry, common down here- Kyonna says- this way,” The tunnel is massive, and circular a tube that runs through and around the city. 300’ wide and 600 feet tall, Trey and Red amazed at the enormity, question its purpose. “What in god’s name is this tunnel, used for?” “It was a diversion, built during the World War III, the rails see- there.” Kyonna, quick to point continues to talk, as they walk along. “They used three large trains to ship things, from Leethan to the outlying cities and towns.”
“That’s a lot look these tracks are 12 feet apart.” Red says “What the hell were the things they were shipping.”
“Mostly, goods and products, yet towards the end of the war they started shipping people and refugees.” Elle chimes in “Then the WO stepped in changed the war and the outcome.”
“This city was headed for ruin, looting, pillaging, crime the only way to get a hold on it was.”
“Martial, law- which is where we are at presently.” Kyonna states.
“Well it seems to me this city is already in ruins.”
“Yeah, sad to see the city Trey and I loved and grew up in turn into a trash heap.”
“Martial, law – how does that save a city from financial ruin?”
“Don’t really know and can’t honestly say all I know is everything changed when the WO came in.”
“Which way, left, right, or straight on?” Wendy asks Kyonna who is looking at the medallion.
“Alright, this is where we split up.”
“Kyonna, Elle, Wendy- oh thank god you’re alive.”
They stop, recognizing the voice of Silva they quickly turn to see her and their mother running towards them. Hugging Silva, the three, catch up with their cousin. Then quickly turn to confront Serinnah. “Why, are you doing this to us?” Kyonna blares out and continues “I thought you loved us and this city.”
“Kyonna, what- what are you saying.”
“We know who you are, mom and quite frankly we are upset, I thought you loved us.”
“Can someone please tell me what the hell my daughter is talking about?”
Silva, steps in and asks Elle, what Kyonna is talking about “Honestly, what are you all talking about- Serinnah has been in Skai Tower this whole time.”
“Whiteout is what they are talking about, I’ve seen the documents and her face- it’s you.” Trey conveys looking at Silva, then Serinnah. Noticing Elle has her mom’s beauty and her lips and eyes are just like Elle’s. He finds his eyes wandering to Serinnah’s body and her back side and now legs, quickly he, swoons her to find similar body to Elle she is perfection and in a tighter shape. “Look, we need to know what the hell is going on, you were seen in the files as Whiteout.”
“Look I, was captured by her and held hostage.”
“That thing you refer to as Whiteout isn’t me, I’m your mother.”
“Then why does, she look like you or you look like her?”
“What do you mean thing?” Wendy and Red interrupt.
“She is not what you think she is- she’s…”
With prying ears everyone’s gaze is no affixed to Serinnah’s lips as she speaks.
“She’s…” Interrupted again this time by Kyonna “She’s what?”
Silva pipes in noticing Serinnah’s in ability to respond beyond this point “Whiteout is an entity of some kind.” In disbelief the others, chime in “So your telling me that it’s not of this world- Silva is that right?” Elle states.
“Yes- whatever it is where it’s from I don’t know- but the night your mom was held hostage it mimicked your mother somehow.”
“Yes, Silva is correct- It copied me.”
“Somehow- I don’t know how or why or where it came from.” Serinnah in tears now wiping them from her face continues- “all I know is that thing wants to rule everything it wants to rule the world- destroy us.”
“Well, that’s odd why replicate you?” Trey inquires, moving to the left tunnel with Wendy, and Kyonna.
“Where are you going?” Serinnah asks, holding them up, as she notices Red, Elle heading to the right.
“We are splitting up, because we need to find out what these three are up to- and how and where your doppelganger is running amok.”
“Alright, but we are better off sticking together- besides you all are headed in the wrong direction.” Serinnah states “Follow me, back through here.”
“We are trying to get to Whiteouts base of operations, and Clorox’s too.” Elle conveys to her mother.
“Yes, there is a quicker much safer way to it- that’s why we are going back the way Silva and I came.”
Moving along at a steady pace, they here a rumbling sound- faint echoes of machinery, pinging throughout the nave of this steamy labyrinth, Kyonna speaks
“Quiet listen, you hear it- what is that?”
“What in the heck is that?” Trey and Red halt the group where they are- pointing to Serinnah’s escorts to watch over them. Moving ahead to a new passage that opened up, Trey and Red peak down the narrow corridor. A large tracked pad moves forward, slowly, dressed in blue digs and heavily armed the WO, appears to be moving searching for something. The army scatters every two hundred feet, looking down each corridor, occasionally a straggler is shoved into a holding capsule behind the pad, as he screams and pleas to get out.
“What are they doing?” Red asks.
“I have no idea brother, no idea at all,” Trey responds.
“One thing is obvious, they are headed this way!” Red shouts ripe with anxious energy.
“Quick lets, hide” looking around they search and find an open door to the right. Moving inside Red follows Trey in where they stop and close the door.
“We wait until they are gone.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Above the mechanical clanks and wines, the two hear screams and howls of agony, the chores of suffering they have not heard since childhood. The haunting sounds and buzz, of scanner beams that jut on and off, looking for those who choose to live amongst the runic underground caverns.
”All clear,” sounds of a mechanical voices hidden in the masks. Eerie in sound, a faint hint that they might be synthesized. A series subtle beeps, clicks groans and wines complied into a human like voice. Eerie indeed, the voices hint at a synthetic life form. The army, still in communication haunts their souls with scary unknown secrets, who are the WO- more importantly what they are. Scurrying, around the soldiers seem to be in fisticuffs with someone else, a group of people Trey had been so focused on the soldiers in that army he like Red forgot about Elle the others.
“Quick Red- bro I need you to help them.”
“Again- You know I hate it,” Red responds shaking his head readying himself.
“Yes I know I do to.”
“Hang on!” Red shouts as the Abanthium comes alive again.
The tiles bricks and concrete split apart, paint peals and lifts away like dry flakes of autumn. Red, In agony, spires into the liquid that hulks out from the bloody crevasse now agape. Trey, moves through the door sword drawn he quickly removes the army that is fighting off the Abanthium. Together, Trey and Red wipe them all out, Red snaps back into his original form, while his brother moves up along the cracks and brick, now liquefied- he checks for the all clear. The door opens, Red breathing heavy steam and gas vapor lifting off his body looks at his brother in the doorway “it’s clear.”
Rejoined by their companions Serinnah asks “what just happened?”
“Trey and Red, are special mother, you had given the orders to keep out here in Leethan while you built that safe haven Paradise City.” Serinnah still confused “I did no such thing, I was building the safe haven yes but I assure you I signed no documents- that was Whiteout.” Moving forward, Elle looks her mom directly in the eyes “Really, mom we saw the signatures that is your hand writing, are you saying that thing also forged your signature?”
Kyonna now interrupting, “Mom, you know you did I heard you and dad discuss this the night of his death.” The flickering of the fire that eats their estate, pops and crackles- dancing orange glow caresses his strong face as he struggles to speak “Come sit next to me Serinnah, so that I may gaze on your beauty once more.”
Moving gracefully to the foot of the bed she sits, and leans forward, weeping she grabs his burned hand. Kissing it gently she, gently guides it to her cheek, her face silky soft though he can’t feel it, as all his sense of touch burned charred, his flesh peeled away. Only the whiteness of bone, shines through, he winces- “oh how I long for the past now.” In pain she blots into a gawk of teary agony.
“My dearest, Serinnah this war has taken its toll on this city- I am the face of Ashen a once great province.” She trembles as he continues, “Don’t cry my sweet, A proud state she was now crumbled a wound like me left gaping.”
“The people look to me now those who know Ashen, see a saddened burned affair such as I. For those new and are curious, they too gaze upon my affair, ripe with agony they understand Ashen.” Serinnah, weeping still, he wipes her tears as she speaks softly to her lover “You- you’ve done the best you could Ashen in in unseen hands- you were and still are the president.” She leans in further looking into Ishtan’s eyes she continues her voice lovely and soft “She is at war Leethan her capitol city, is under the watchful eyes of a great deceiver- even you could not have seen it coming- Blaze is to blame for this treachery.”
“Oh, mmfff the pain- I’m such a fool- my legacy destroyed scoffed and wounded this pile of heap the saddest of affairs must recover.”
“Yes and she will, but recover- I will finish what you have started Paradise City will be built.”
“Yes, the treaty you must sign the treaty- none of this would have happened if Blaze and his kind weren’t allowed to reside here.” Ishatn, coughs thick clumps of blood spew from his mouth as he speaks, dripping down. Creaking and gnawing sounds of wood and metal crashing behind them. The architecture of Leethan, is quite distinct a beautiful mix of old English Victorian, and subtle hints of modernism blended seamlessly by stone and wood “I never knew he was a Death head- I had no idea.”
“Blaze is just one enemy, this war has brought an unseen enemy upon this Province and Leethan seems to be at the heart of it all- Blaze and his kind will pay.”
Serinnah pulls the leaflet from her beloved’s breast pocket and signs it.
“My love this is…” sobbing uncontrollably, at the sight of her husband, Serinnah reminisces the times they shared the love- raising three bright beautiful girls, Wanda, Kyonna, and Elle and Wendy. Taking her in because her own parents abandoned her- she says softly “is your last wish.”
“Serinnah, this- this treaty is to prevent those with such power like Blaze from living amongst us for our safety, for Ashen’s greatest city Leethan it must be so.”
Signing it, his hand falls from the caress of her face to his chest, and lastly to the floor. Barren and lifeless Ishtan’s body now lifeless is engulfed in flames from embers of the nearing fire. The flames lick the stone floor and eat whole the remains of her man, her lover gone with every pew of dark smoke, every flicker of flame.
Serinnah, remembering that fateful night asks, Kyonna
“Where were you, how could you have possibly known?”
“I was by the air-conditioning vent hiding in the hall next to you by the exhaust register.”
Kyonna, now closing in on her mother, hugs her in a strong yet soft embrace whispers -“that vent allowed me to hear everything.”
“I signed it, yes but that was to keep Blaze and those like him out.”
Softly pushing Serinnah away to look her in the eyes, the pain the suffering her sisters went through Kyonna can’t bear it any longer like a hungry bear she spits the truth
“by signing that treaty, you annexed my sisters from me, mom listen please Elle, Wendy and Wanda were and are Necromancers.”
Stunned Serinnah looks at her daughters so proud of them starts sobbing – realizing the direct consequences of her actions. She knew possible back lashes and risks were involved, but couldn’t have known her actions extended to her own children. How, witches- how could this be- unless- Ishtan. “I had no idea, oh my babies- please believe me when I say I-I didn’t know.”
“You, knew- you kept it from us.”
Elle turning to Kyonna to interrupt “No, she didn’t know father found out- he had watched us practice he didn’t say anything.”
“Ah, that’s not correct either,” Wendy interrupts “Blaze, knew it was Blaze your father found out after wards.”
“How, do you know this?” Silva asks trying to soak everything in.
“Serinnah, remember my adoption?” Wendy says, walking to her.
“Yes of course I do, including the very day you showed up to play with my daughters, I thought who could abandon this nice sweet beautiful girl.”
“Well, I never understood it either but I was abandoned because I was a necromancer- I never realized it but; Blaze was my father- I tried many times to tell you- I couldn’t.”
“Why, couldn’t you why didn’t you?” Serinnah upset yet loving moves close to Wendy wiping her tears Wendy looks into her eyes.
“I couldn’t because dad passed away your husband’s death that night was the same night I found out Blaze was my father.” Wendy says.
Seeing, Blaze standing on the balcony of the burning estate, he stops looking at Ishtan and Serinnah below, sounds of scurrying feet and loose gravel Blaze turns his gaze toward the direction of the ruckus. Waving the bellowing smoke and fiery embers from his face, he finds Wendy. Young strong and beautiful, he can hardly stomach the fact she is a witch. He pulls the picture of his beloved family from his trench coat pocket tears it in two tosses it down to his feet. He leaves, with is guards. Quickly running over to the picture as it slowly melts and catching fire Wendy stomps it out picks up the two pieces. Looking at the bigger piece she rubs the dusty char away and sees a young couple happy and together, then the other smaller half her Face smiling with her father’s hands on her shoulders.
“Ishtan never told me I never thought- you all couldn’t bare the loss of father- I thought you all ran away.”
Elle and Wendy, now move in to hug and embrace their mother, with the four of them in tears they hold each other. “It’s ok, mom you couldn’t have known we never told you.”
“Look guys- Ladies it’s time we must get moving.”
Wiping tears away and smearing their makeup, they all head out Serinnah taking the lead steps out “Follow me -up this way.” The group makes haste, steady double timed pace, and “What time is it?” Serinnah asks Silva.
“7:00pm-why?” Serinnah says.
“They will be sending patrols out by the dozens looking for their platoon- we’ve got to find a place to stay hidden and rest for the night.” Looking around they find another maintenance door “There in there- we should be safe hopefully.” Moving ahead Trey checks the corridor “Trey is it clear?” Red shouts softly while the door opens Trey signals back to Red.
“Ok, let’s go coast is clear.” Red says guarding the entrance holds the door open they all enter; he closes the door behind him shutting it lightly soft without a sound.
Searching the corridor and two adjoining rooms Trey announces they are safe- and should be for tonight. They start to gather in for the night; Wendy and Kyonna start the fire, in the process Kyonna’s first lesson in witchcraft. The hardest lesson, fire Wendy snaps her fingers in a flicking action and fire lights her, in the center of the room. “Here you try” Kyonna concentrates and snaps her fingers, to find nothing. “It’s ok Kyonna it doesn’t happen right away” Elle says come over to observe and support. “Try again, Kyonna this time believe it see it manifesting there you may find success.”
Acknowledging her sister, she nods and clears her mind then meditates and delivers- only she hasn’t snapped her fingers her fingers in a blaze of light dancing and fiercely surging like a raging forest fire. The flames surging up, from her fingers- awe struck Serinnah watches this transpiration and is rendered speechless. She nods at her sisters and smiles at mom, who smiles back in return. Then Kyonna lights the fire that’s already lit.