.

Chapter XVI Greater Cause

Darkness, echoing .echoing hollowly in broken ears . Blind eyes catching flashing of life, imitations of scenes seen sliding jerkily into focus.

Amalhi tried to turn her head but even if it did move she had no way of knowing .She was stiff and numb. Even her nose seemed to have broken ,no scents helped her place herself. White ceilings glared down at her somewhere above that was a sky. But for now she was trapped, strapped down on a cold gurney watching white ceiling tiles float by as empty echoes assault deaf ears.

'How does Malrhia do it ?' She thought , relaxing her exhausted mind as she was wheeled forever onward.

'do what ?' the voice was weak and thin but unmistakably that of Malrhia.

'Malrhia?! where are you guys !! I thought ." the images ended there as scenes from the past two days filled her head. Malrhias mind was full of broken questions and unconnected images but Amalhi pieced together the events from the hotel raid until the others climbed into a car with a man with large caterpillar eye brows.

"Where are you ?" the next logical thought was quickly answered by a flood of darkness cold and deep. Amalhi shivered on her gurney as it began to slow. Over head an orange stain on the ceiling tile glared down at her. The gurney had stopped and hollow foot steps receded. Struggling against her bondage the young girl tried desperately to break free but some how her powers couldn't work against the cold steel holding her wrists ankles and torso to the gurney. Spent she lay gasping and shivering in the cold harsh light.

"Can it get any worst ?" she mumbled not expecting and answer but out of the depths of her mind a harsh piercing laugh sent waves of terror up and down her spine. In a blink the lights went out leaving her alone in the cold void.

~*~

A light tinkling music played in the background. The sounds of polite conversation filtered around her. Amalhi blinked against a pain in her neck as she tried to turn and her eyes shot open. Karen , Malrhia , Seraphim, and a pale faced girl with a rather large head sat at an elegantly set table. Around them people mingled oblivious to gaping mouths and blood shot eyes of the group of teens.

"Whats going on here ?" The girl who could have passed for an alien asked ,violet eyes squinted suspiciously scanning the crowd.

"This cant be real!" Seraphim looked drained and even paler than normal, her eyes lacked their brilliant glow.

"This is way too strange for my taste ." Malrhia's voice sounded strange in the all too calm atmosphere of the cocktail party around them.

"I."

" Amalhi ? How'd you get here ? We thought you were gone." Karen stood and gaped down at the beautiful black satin gloves with lace trim adorning her arms. More spectacular than that was the shimmering black dress that hung elegantly across her narrow shoulders.

"What the hell is this?" Malrhia demanded slamming her fists into the table. Several people stopped their chatting and glanced towards the table then as if nothing strange had happened turned away.

The girls stood around the circular table examining each others new garments forgetting, for the time , that they may still be in danger.

Malrhia's dress was a savory tint of vermilion, almost matching the shade of her hair , its dipped gently in a shallow V at the bust and clung tightly to her curvaceous hips splaying in a loose cut around her knees. Dawn, rather short wore a long light blue dress that clung to her thin form and high heeled shoes that almost made her Karen's height. Seraphim's dress was a brilliant shade of shimmering emerald , sleeve less with matching gloves and tiny emerald earrings.

Suddenly everything went silent as if a tape had finally reached its end .The lights dimmed and a violin could be heard beginning a beautiful mourning whine growing ever louder. The other guests at the party stood heads turned towards the far wall that contained an elegant ivory staircase ,down which a pair were making a grand entrance.

A girl hardly a woman stood one step ahead of her partner. Her gentle features and wide almond eyes reflected the spot light trained specifically on her. She wore a strapless light pink ball gown that seemed to be a part of her as she moved in a swaying floating manner. The click of her heeled foot against the tiled floor seemed to be a signal for the party to continue. The hum of light conversation picked up , the clink of wine glasses and cutlery returned. Only the group of elegantly dressed girls still stood eyes trained on the beauty approaching them.

The first impression of this vision of perfection stuck in their minds.

"She's beautiful." Seraphim gasped .

"Yes , I am ."

The voice carried more than words , it seemed to be laced with emotion and the girls all found that they believed it full heatedly. The deep alto, undoubtedly belonged to the woman girl approaching in her dreamlike gait but nobody saw her mouth moving an this unnerved them even more .

"She cant be one of us ." Malrhia spat finally pulling her eyes from the girl but making no move to sit.

"One of you ? No . I am far beyond you." The girls' eyes flashed demonically as the last few people parted leaving a clear path to the table .

"Yeah and I am far..out of here ." Dawn closed her eyes and began to phase but accomplished nothing.

"Something's wrong with this place ." She hissed under her breath at the others, but they were fixed on the girl who stood less than a foot from the table now, a placid smile on her porcelain face.

"There's nothing wrong here ,Dawn." She smirked telepathically confirming the girls' thoughts.

"Why are we here !" Malrhia demanded taking a step towards the doll like girl.

" You simple child ." the girls voice was deep and more fitted to someone far past her prime, the images she sent to Malrhia deaf mind were almost too much .It seemed more than odd coming from the figure next to them. " Do you really think I could have you running wild in my city ? Have you captured and who knows what ?Come now .Lets sit ."

She stepped aside and a black tuxed waiter placed a chair behind her and helped her into it .

"I am Kiladee, and this .." she motioned with one slender arm towards a figure who had suddenly appeared behind her. " is Nihility ."

If the likeness between any of the children were strong theirs were the strongest .Kiladee and Nihility were almost exact duplicates except there was a harshness to Nihility , heightened by the masculine appearance she had adopted some time ago. She wore her long hair in simple cornrows , the ends settling in curls locks on her neck and shoulders. Beneath the tuxedo she wore she seemed most definitely male even her jaw line was thicker, more pronounced that the other girls , and from the smile that tinted the edge of her thin lips she seemed to enjoy the confusion she caused in the others mind. She almost grinned as she scanned them one by one , she took in their essence and left no trace of herself behind except for a cold lingering feeling of dread.

"You see," Kiladee continued ignoring the shivers of the other girls. " We, that is , Nihility, Russell and I have been watching you from the time you arrived here. We've lived her all of our lives , undetected, undisturbed and free. But now that you've causes such a ruckus .well. You'll see."

Before the last syllable of her words faded the lights were extinguished and a cold blustery wind rushed at them in the darkness. Amalhi shivered violently remembering the coldness of the void she clung to Karen's hand and was wrapped in a warm blanket of night. Karen began sucking the unending void into herself, draining the darkness away to reveal the grayness of an empty ware house hallway.

For a second a look of fear flickered across Kiladee's face but she quickly regained composure. Her large almond eyes glazed as she began to walk a light appeared ahead. As they cautiously followed behind , Malrhia, Seraphim, Karen, Dawn and Amalhi could feel the air changing around them. It became easier to breath , the damp dankness left the air around them and even the passage way seemed to be transformed, slowly mutating into the brightly lit hall way of an office building. A door stood open before them.