Chapter One

We weren't always orphans. We weren't always freaks of nature. Don't let me fool you. We were pretty odd before the incident too.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning:

The whirring of ATV motors woke me up. I threw the covers aside, walked to the window, and pulled the curtains apart. A circle of flashlight beams revealed a beautifully colored stone statue in the shape of a human.

I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was seeing everything correctly. It's moving! I thought. The dark figures surrounding it were holding a net.

The creature jumped high into the air and tried to escape. One of the dark figures attacked it. A faint cry was heard. It's hurt! I thought.

"We can't let him slip away again." A fierce woman's voice called out.

"We can't risk him harming us either." A man's gentle voice pointed out. "He has more power than any of us."

"I don't care. The boss wants him returned to the Research and Development facility in Japan. I don't want to disappoint." The woman called out again.

"Our people have been chasing this thing for years. Every time we attack it it's merely fractured. We're too busy chasing it to notice." The man persisted. "The pieces become wanted for the power they possess but we never find them in time."

The creature struggled with the several others that were attacking him. A steel net fell over him and wrapped around his body. He twisted out of it's grasp and leaped over their heads. He seemed to almost float for a few seconds.

"Follow him!" The woman barked. "Don't damage him too much, though. I'll get paid more if he's in good condition."

They chased him into the unplowed fields. The headlights on the ATV's followed every step he made. With one swift move he disappeared. The figures stood there for a moment. I heard muffled sounds of yelling. Then they vanished in thin air.

I fell asleep shortly after climbing back into bed. When I woke up I thought it was all a dream. I found something later in the day that had changed my mind…

***

"I'm bored, Mommy!" I complained.

Mom put her brunette hair into a bun. "Destiny, you are a spoiled seven year-old with a huge closet full of toys. Why don't you go play with them?"

I stomped my foot. "Allison and Madison are playing with them. They are playing with my toys!"

Mom set aside her book and said gently, "Honey, they can't be playing with all of them. Besides, they're your triplets. The toys aren't just yours. Your sisters have every right to play with them too."

Dad stopped typing on his laptop and threw in an idea. "Why don't you gather up your siblings and play a game together."

I nodded and ran up the stairs, down the hall, and barged into our room. Allison and Madison were lying on the floor playing with most of the Barbie items that we had received over the past couple years. "Wanna play hide 'n' seek?" I asked.

Allison stood up and shrugged. "Sure." Madison hustled to pick up the toys, shove them into the closet, then headed towards the twins' room.

Belle and Alyssa were coloring at their little table. "What?" Belle asked.

Madison announced cheerfully, "We're playing hide 'n' seek."

"Can we play?" Alyssa quietly asked.

Allison folded her arms. "Yeah, we would've started already if we didn't want you two toddlers play!"

Belle stood and folded her arms too. Alyssa mimicked them. Belle sneered, "You don't have to such a meanie head about it! We're not toddlers either! We're five!"

"Yeah!" Alyssa yelled.

"What are you girls yelling about now?" I turned around to see our older brother in the doorway.

Belle went ahead and tattled. "Allison is being mean!" Alyssa nodded.

"What do you want me to do about it?" he asked.

"Zach! You're eight! They're seven! You can tell them what to do!" Belle exclaimed.

"Their blonde… they might not get it." Zach laughed.

I faced him and snapped, "You're blonde too! I wouldn't be talkin'!"

"Hey!" Madison yelled. "What happened to the nice game of hide 'n' seek we were gonna play?"

We stared at each other for a moment.

"I'll count." Zach said as he headed downstairs.

After he disappeared, Mom came up with David in her arms. "David is going down for a nap okay? Be quiet."

"Okay." We said automatically.

Belle faced Alyssa. "Alyssa, we should hide in the coat closet." Alyssa smiled and nodded. They ran downstairs.

"I'm gonna hide under my bed." Madison said. She retreated to our room. Allison walked downstairs. "I'll hide in the basement."

I have a better idea… I thought. I ran downstairs into the dining room, took one of the chairs and dragged it across the floor.

Now for the stairs… I thought.

Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. Three stairs down, eleven more to go. I gripped the chair and drug it one more step. Thunk!

"David is sleeping!" Dad said sternly. "Enough."

"Then help me." I said irritably.

Dad got off the couch, walked over, and picked it up. He placed it at the top. Then, he went back downstairs.

I stood on it and reached for the rope that would bring down the trap door leading to the attic. As I climbed them, I felt myself being enclosed in the hot, musty air.

I began to pull away dusty boxes to make myself a fort that would cover me. I was about to pull a sheet over the top when something shone in my eyes. I froze and looked around. Another blinding flash came from the window.

I climbed over my fort and walked towards the circle window. I gazed out onto the big front yard. Cornfields were on both sides of the lawn and there was one across the street. The swings and sandbox were to the right side of the long dirt driveway that split the yard in half. Next to the swings was the tall, old oak tree.

Facing the oak tree with his hands covering his face was Zach. I could faintly hear him yelling out numbers. He was challenging himself to count to 100.

On the left side of the driveway was Mom's flower garden, filled with roses, sunflowers, and other stuff. I pressed the right side of my face to the glass.

A light shone again, blinding me. It's coming from the garden!

I was curious to see what it was, but I wasn't going to give up the game for something I could check up on later. I stepped away to think it over.

I heard Zach's faint cry, "Ninety-nine…one-hundred!" I looked out the window to see him leave the tree. I ran and closed the trap door. I jumped over the fort walls and covered the top with a sheet.

I was the last one found. I wasn't even found, actually. After a HALF HOUR, I couldn't take it, my curiosity was killing me! I opened the trap door, nearly falling in my haste. I ran down stairs and shouted in a monotone "You guys didn't look hard enough!"

I put on my shoes and ran to the garden. I skidded to a halt, knowing mom doesn't like it when we play in it. I scanned the area. There were five, three-dimensional, diamond-shaped rocks in a little pile. Orange, light sky-blue, laser-yellow, red, and purple were the colors of them. They were each one color and were about one inch in length.

They're the same color as the creature! I thought. It wasn't a dream!

I carefully maneuvered through the flowers. I picked them up with care and delicately placed them into my pocket. I'll keep these and tell them about what I saw. I figured.

I opened the front door of the house. My triplets and older brother were on the wood floor watching Scooby-Doo. Mom was putting the twins' red hair up in pig tails. Dad was still on his computer.

"Mom! Dad!" I yelled.

"You don't have to yell, we're right here." Allison sneered.

"I'm not talking to you, Allison." I shot back. I turned to my parents. "Mom, Dad, guess what! Last night I saw this statue of a person walking around and these people were trying to attack it!"

"It must've been a dream." Mom said gently.

"No it wasn't! I saw it with my own two eyes!" I persisted.

Dad smiled. "With that kind of creativity you might become an author one day."

I sighed. "Why don't you believe me!"

"Do you hear yourself?" Zach retorted. "You sound like a crazy person."

I made a fist at him. "I'll show you what's crazy!"

"Enough you two…" Mom began. "Honey, you must've thought it was real when, in reality, it was only a dream."

I sighed and stormed off to my room. I concentrated on finding a good hiding place for my new collection.

They know better not to touch my stuff…so I'll hide them in my dresser. I figured. Maybe it was only my imagination… I shrugged.

I opened my sock drawer and whispered to myself, "I found them, they're mine." I hid them in my favorite pair of pink fuzzy socks.

Unfortunately, my secret didn't last for very long, only a few days.

"What are you doing?" I squealed at Allison.

Allison put her hands on her hips. "I can't find my black fuzzy socks, so I'm borrowing your pink ones." She went back to her task. When she picked up the waded up socks, she mused, "Ooo, what's this?" She poured the colorful rocks into her hands. "Why didn't you tell me you had these! I want one!"

I snatched them from her. "No! They're mine! You can't have them! I found them! Finder's keepers, loser's weepers, that's a rule of life."

Zach barged in. "Why are you two yelling?"

I turned to him and pointed to Allison. "She's trying to steal my rock collection."

Zach looked at what was in my hands. "These ain't rocks. These are part of a treasure chest."

I stared blankly at him. He's the crazy one. "They're not treasure. They're rocks. Anyone with a brain knows that."

Allison reached for one of my collection items. I smacked her hands. Zach continued with his theory. "Ya know the pirate story dad tells us sometimes? The treasure is just like this. Jewels, a chest full of jewels. That's what's in the story. This is just like that."

I entered deep thought. Zach managed to snag a jewel. "Hey!" I yelled. I tried to punch him, but he was too quick. I wound my arm back to try again. Zach gave it back.

Madison finally stepped in. "Let's let dad tell us what to do with it. He'll know if it's treasure or not."

I ran downstairs. "Daddy! Daddy! Look! Look!"

I shoved them in his hands. He stared at them for a moment then looked at me. "Where did you find these?"

"I found them in Mama's garden." I explained.

Mom leaned over. "Their beautiful. What kind of mineral could they be?"

"They look like they're sapphire." Dad said, handling them with care. He glared at me. "Have you been playing around the mine?"

I shook my head. "No, I found them in Mommy's garden."

"Destiny, don't lie to me."

This is useless. "Sorry Daddy, I won't do it again."

"Thank you." Dad relaxed , though still aggravated.

"Are they treasure?" Zach asked.

"You can say that." Mama said. She was fiddling with a gemstone.

"Told ya." Zach sneered.

"They aren't from the creature?" I asked.

Dad looked at me for a moment. "I don't know what goes on in your head, but I can assure you these didn't come off any living thing."

Madison jumped up and down. "I have an idea! I have an idea! Can we get them put into necklaces! I want the orange one!"

I pushed her down. "No! They're all mine! I found them first!"

Dad said sternly, "That's enough!"

I stepped back. "Sorry."

Mom was obviously pondering the idea. "I suppose we could get them put into necklaces. But," She pointed towards me. "…you missy, get one or none."

I stared at the ground. "Fine, I want the light blue one."

Allison looked worried. "I want the yellow one!"

Dad looked at the twins. "Belle, which one do you want?"

Belle grinned. "The red one."

Alyssa shyly asked, "Can I have the purple one?"

Mom smiled gently at her. "Yes, you can have the purple one."

"I'll go into the city tomorrow and do that then." Dad declared tiredly.

And so Dad returned the next day from the city. When he walked through the door I was holding David on the floor. He started drooling on me so I gave him to Mama.

Allison was the first to ask. "Can I have mine?"

Dad handed her a silver chained necklace. I saw a horribly greedy look on her face. She turned to put the yellow jewel upstairs. Madison received her identical jewelry and she followed Allison.

Belle and Alyssa proudly paraded around the house while wearing their gifts.

I was given mine last.

"What do I get?" Zach asked.

Dad took out a brand new BB gun and handed it to Zach. "You only use this when I get home from work. You don't get to handle it until we get to the targets in the fields. Okay?"

"Okay." Zach agreed.

Of course at the time, I was only concerned about where to stash my necklace.