Chapter 1

Aidan

Roswell, California

"Only three more weeks…" Ryan moans," Three weeks and a day until school starts." We're sitting outside King's Diner, Roswell, California's largest (e.g. only) diner. Yes, the name is stupid, like the aliens. No, I don't know about the aliens invading us. Please leave me alone.

"I know! It stinks, right?" I reply, trailing a hand through my blond hair. The shadows of dusk are starting to fall over the town and a cool breeze blows by. Ryan fiddles with his cell phone, like he's deciding whether or not to text someone.

"We've only been out for like… two months! It's too soon!' Ryan jumps off the curb," I refuse to go back to that evil place!"

"Whatever. You know you can't wait to see Callie." I say with a wink, naming his most recent crush.

"Hypocrite, you know you can't wait to see Lilly again." He fires back. Lilly's been my crush since the fifth grade. She's absolutely perfect! Although, I suppose one is required to say that about their crush.

"I cannot deny it, my love for her runs deeper than the oceans, faster than the wind, and burns hotter than a fire!" I say mockingly. Then, the clock tower announces that it's seven.

"I gotta go," Ryan whines," You know how the 'rents are…"

"For Pete's sake, we're fifteen! Why can't they see how responsible we are? Soon, you'll be driving me around," Ryan punches my arm," and then they'll have to see what mature, responsible adults we are."

Ryan laughs," When heck freezes over!" He sobers up pretty quickly when he realizes that might never happen. "Well, see you tomorrow!" he calls over his shoulder as he starts walking away.

"Course you will!" I say as I start walking the other direction. As I trudge down Main Street (once more, who comes up with these names!) I pull off my gray jacket. I have absolutely no idea why I bothered wearing it. Even at night, Roswell is about ninety degrees.

I haven't lived here all that long. My grandparents decided to move here randomly in second grade and we've been here ever since. Still, everyone here knows me pretty well by now, with the population being pretty low. All Roswell has is one row of shops, and everything else is houses. I was against the move, because it meant leaving Mom and Dad's house, but no one listens to the ten year old.

As I pull off my jacket, a small gold locket falls out of one of the pockets. As I pick it up, I flick it open. The familiar image of the beautiful woman with the raven hair and brilliant green eyes filled with laughter stares back. I have her eyes and her height. On the other side is a man, with blond hair and light brown eyes. He has a stern face, but the smile in the eyes gives the whole game up. I've only met the two of them once in my life. "Hey Mom and Dad," I whisper quietly, feeling that usual sadness welling up in my throat.

My parents passed away literally right after I was born. They were driving home from the hospital when the car next to them spun out of control and hit them. They were killed almost instantly. I somehow survived with only a scar on my back. I was sent to live with my mom's parents, because my dad's live in Brazil.

I straighten back up and keep walking, tucking the locket back into my pocket. It was my mom's, and it's the only thing I still have of them. I wouldn't get rid of it for the world.

As I walk towards home, I feel the first drop of rain on my head. I pull the jacket back on, now thankful for the protection it gives me, and pick up the pace. As my house finally comes into view, the sky booms and a streak of lightning shatters the sky, but mercifully, the rain is staying up in the clouds.

Before I walk up the driveway, I stop by the rusty old mailbox at the head of the lawn. It creaks as I reach inside and pull out the mail. Bill, bill, postcard from Nana's sister, Bill, bill…

Suddenly, the earth underneath me thrashes violently. I'm thrown to the ground, mail scattering into the air. The earth lurches again as lightning opens the sky and the rain starts to come down… hard. It pelts my skin, leaving stinging trails across my face. I try to stand up, to get inside, out of the rain, but the earth keeps buckling, sending me back down to the ground. I manage to stand up using the mailbox as a support.

All of a sudden, a hole in the storm clouds above me opens up. As I watch, a massive bolt of lightning flies through it. With a heart stopping explosion, it tears up the ground nearby. I feel ill, tears of pain well up in my eyes as shrapnel begins to hit me. A giant chunk of ground hits my arm and I scream in pain, which is hidden by the noise of the chaos.

All of a sudden, the earth stops. The storm clouds go away and the rain slows down to a light drizzle. I'm left standing there, clutching the mailbox for dear life. The only sign that what I saw really happened is the giant crater in the ground and the people running outside to see what happened.

I let go of the mailbox and it topples onto the ground. As I look down at it, I see the embedded handprints going all the way up the post. Slowly, I put my hand into one of the prints. It matches perfectly. As I stare in disbelief, the ground starts swaying again. I remember falling to the ground before the darkness closes in on me.

Marc

Somewhere in Italy

The rising sun already beats heavily on my skin. I ignore it as I walk down the winding road to the ocean's edge. The stones are warm under my bare feet and I walk quickly. There's a breeze that whips around me like a dancer.

When I get to the water, I quickly strip down to my boxers, revealing my tanned and lean body, if I do say so myself. Piling the discarded clothes by a rock, I wade out into the water, and as soon as I can, start swimming, ignoring the harsh cold of the water. One gets used to it after the fourth swim.

The hour surrounding dawn is usually the only time I can get in a swim. All my other time is spent working on Dad's farm, at school, or doing related work. Swimming is just a way to keep sane. I have to work a lot to help support my family. As if having to work wasn't bad enough, I have to work at a pharmacy.

The Italian water is warm, and my long, slow strokes quickly out of the cove by our town. I notice a few fishing boats and make sure I'm heading away from them. Getting tangled up in fishing net is not a fun experience.

Once I get out far enough, I turn over onto my back and float for a few minutes, basking in the warmth of the sun, now countered by the chill of the ocean. Every so often I turn over again and adjust my position, not wanting to be swept away from shore.

Suddenly, I hear yelling. I roll over quickly to see all of the fishing boats moving towards shore. I turn around to see what they're running from. A small wave out in the distance moves towards me. I don't know why the boats are retreating for a few seconds… then it hits me. It's so far away it only looks small. Big wave, really big wave!

Quickly, I roll over and start sprinting towards home. Somewhere, a siren blares. My arms move like lightning, ignoring the pain that quickly comes over me. I have to get home. Sometimes I use the few waves that pass by as a booster, propelling me those precious few feet, giving my arms a break.

But by no means is it enough. I can't waste time looking back to check my progress so I can only assume that the wave is getting closer. I don't think I'm going to be able to make it.

But then, from under the water, something grips my leg. Suddenly, I'm yanked under the water. I let out a silent scream, bubbles trailing upwards almost lazily. The light quickly starts to fade as I descend into the depths.

Frantically, I kick out. I hit something solid and my foot is released. I can't breathe as I start swimming towards the surface. I'm sprinting, but I don't think I can make it. As the darkness creeps up on me, I manage to break the surface.

As sweet air fills my lungs, I look back for the wave. Less than a mile away is a massive wave barreling towards me. I freeze in shock as it sprints towards me. And then I notice the scaly thing moving inside of it. I scream as it leaps out of the wave.

It has seven heads, all of which are screaming and biting frantically. Its scales are a disgusting shade of green and they overlap each other, forming a suit of armor. Its eyes are deep purple. On each of its heads is a single horn, curving backwards. The long necks meet at a central body point, which proceeds to form a single fin. The heads let out a screeching scream as it flies out into the air, before crashing back down into the waters.

Suddenly, I'm yanked back under the water. This time multiple hands grab me, and I can't manage to kick free. As I'm dragged down again, I see beautiful girls, somehow dressed in armor, swimming around me. Each one swims effortlessly through the depths of the sea.

As I struggle, a group of the girls starts attacking the monster. They hurl spears at it and, when they bounce off, pull out swords and starts slashing at the heads. Suddenly, I'm spun around and look into the eyes of one of the girls. She smiles, showing white teeth… sharp white teeth, and then nods as I relax instinctively at the sight of a smile. Some of the girls below me quickly tug down and I'm pulled downwards, deep into the oceans.

Quinn

Paris, France

The man doesn't even notice as I slip my hand into his pocket and draw out his wallet. Tourists never seem to notice the most obvious things. A plain white shirt and shorts practically make you a blank slate to them. I slow my steps, putting distance between my target and me. I duck into an alley before flipping open the tourist's wallet.

Two credit cards: worthless. Two hundred euros, which I slide into my pocket, and a few American bills, which I toss to the ground. I can't use those unless I exchange them, and that'll be tricky. A driver's license, showing the man's terrible picture, and a name and birthday. That joins the bills on the ground. A few pictures and other such random stuff gets tossed as well. The wallet gets tossed further down into the alleyway, out of sight.

"Ms. Harley, shouldn't you be in school?" a familiar voice says from behind.

"Shouldn't you be catching criminals?" I ask him.

"That's what I'm doing."

I turn around to see Inspector Bryans. "Little ol' me? A criminal? Never!"

"Now Quinn, you know that you'll have to go back the detention facility eventually," he says, stroking his short brown mustache. He thinks it makes him look cool. It doesn't. His small nose can barely hold up his glasses. His clothes are very outdated. "It might as well be today."

I've known the Inspector for a year or two now. He brought me in for pickpocketing, my first and only error, and that was the start of a beautiful rivalry. He hasn't caught me since then, after I managed to daringly escape the car by … well, no need to go into details.

"Not today." I say as I dart by him, causing him to shout. I seamlessly merge into the flow of the crowd in the street. I duck and weave through the crowd, until I emerge on the other side of the street. I look back and see the Inspector pushing and shoving his way through the road, with limited success. He's been joined by two lackeys, both probably low-ranking officers. One has a very large mustache that overpowers the rest of his face. The other is nondescript and has a very forgettable face. That's probably the reason the first one grew his mustache. The Goons waste time flashing their badges and creating a path. I laugh as I duck inside a store.

Quickly, I find a new shirt and a hat that both say," I love Paris." I cram my long red-blonde hair into the hat and pull the shirt on over my other one. A pair of sunglasses finishes my transformation into a tourist. I can never figure out why anyone would by such a shirt, but I see plenty of tourists wearing them, so some people must think the shirts mean something special.

I toss some money onto the counter and tell the woman working there to keep the change. Then I duck behind a rack of clothing and wait for my chance. After a few seconds, the Inspector barrels into the store and starts frantically tearing through the store, peering through clothing racks and looking under the changing room doors, checking for my feet. I have to suppress a laugh as I slip out of the store and tear of the glasses and the hat… and run into the two Goons.

They let out a startled shout and I curse under my breath as I sprint by them. Their shouts bring the Inspector tearing after me. Luckily, he has no idea of the art of getting through a crowd, so I get away fairly quickly and duck back into another alleyway. This one has a fire escape and I jump up and pull myself up.

I run up to the very top and watch as the Inspector and the cronies run by. I'll have to stay up here for a little while, until the Inspector gives up, and then I'll make my way home. Hopefully Isaac will be back by then, with plenty of food.

When I was little, my parents vanished. No one knows why, they just were wiped off the face of the earth. Just like that, my older brother and I were orphans. Luckily, the system decided to keep us together. So we were sent to live with an elderly couple, but after a while, I got in trouble. It wasn't anything major, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Isaac and I knew that we would be definitely separated, so we ran. Surprisingly enough, they haven't caught us yet, and not for lack of trying. We've stayed in France, but we've lived everywhere in that realm.

I get lost in my thoughts and lose track of time. When I look at my watch, a good twenty minutes have passed. I stand up and start my descent off the ladder. But as I take the first step down, a massive blast of wind hits me and throws me off. Flailing wildly, I manage to grab the railing, almost wrenching my arm out of its socket.

The relentless wind continues, seemingly intent of throwing down to my death. It smashes into me again and again, until the strength I have in my arm is gone and I have to let go. As I fall, my body spins and twirls, so that when I land, it's on my feet. I stand out of the crouching position and stare, first at myself, and then at the two stories I just fell. There's no pain, which I 'm thankful for.

Shaking my head, I walk out of the alley. I want to get home, to see Isaac, and to sleep and forget about what happened. But that plan's crushed as I see Inspector Bryans and the Goons walking back towards me, shoulders slightly slumped in defeat. I slowly back up into the alley. If one of them saw me, I might not be able to make it away.

"It's her!" a shout from behind causes me to curse under my breath. I take off running for my life, momentarily forgetting the strange wind.

Tanner

New York City, New York

The last message on the phone beeps," Tanner, its Mom. The meetings ran late again. I'll be home around eleven, so call for some food and don't stay up for me. I love you." I let out a weary sigh, though the weariness doesn't really belong there. I haven't seen Mom, really seen Mom, in what feels like forever.

I walk out of the main area of the apartment and into my room. The maid left the curtains open, revealing the small balcony and the amazing view of the city below, including the long plunge down ending in splatting on the pavement. I can't keep those images out of my head, of falling all the way down to death, so I close the curtains, stumbling over with my eyes closed. I hate heights.

I just got back from walking around Central Park and wandering the streets. We're only in New York for a week, for Mom's work, and I want to see everything I can. Of course, we can always come back, but then again, we might not.

Mom's a famous estate lawyer, so she's always flying around to meet with her clients. When she's in charge of me, I go with her, but I always have to wait for her or explore. I've even had gotten to go to Europe once, England to be specific. I managed to summon the nerve to go on the London Eye. Just without her. But at least we get to stay in awesome places like this, although I would prefer a room closer to the ground.

The light's already fading outside, so I can't go back out. Even though she's never around, if Mom found out I was out after dark by myself, I would never see the light of day again. I already read all my books so the only thing to do is watch television.

I yawn as I flick on the television and lie in my comfy bed. The best part about staying in high star hotels has to be the bed. You can just sink right into them. I'm surprisingly tired. Maybe a delayed bout of jet lag? I yawn again and briefly close my eyes.

When I open them again, a new show is on the television and I can hear rain hitting the walls of the building. Groggily, I turn off the television and go over to the large sliding glass doors and pull back one of the curtains. The rain is smashing into the window, making the nearby neon lights look smeared.

Suddenly, a flash of light tears at my eyes, accompanied by a burning smell. The glass window is smashed and I am hurled out into the storm.

My gut flies up my throat as I plummet to the ground. I let out a muffled gasp as something hard stops me descent abruptly, but then I'm flung back up into the air. The wind cuts at my skin as I rise up and then slow down before falling again. My scream is torn out of my mouth and another flash of light hurls me back up into the air.

More lights flash and I'm hurled around from side to side, violently crashing into barriers and being hurled away. The world is spinning wildly then stops for brief moments of pain before taking off again. Flashing lights streak on my eyes, until it all stops with a jarring snap. I've been placed back in my room.

I sit quietly sobbing against the bed, pain coursing through my body. The rain has stopped, but I'm still soaked, and a howling breeze flies through the broken glass of the window. Shaking my head, I stand up and try to find the telephone in the debris of the room, staying far away from the window.

As I pick up the phone, something on the ground catches my eye. A gleaming silver hammer lies on the ground, untouched by the chaos around it. Slowly, carefully, I pick it up. The second my hand touches it, all the pain in my body flows away.

I stare at the hammer, then stow it away in my suitcase. Then, I pick up the telephone and dial a number. "Excuse me; this is Tanner Williams in Room 485. The window in my room just broke and…"

Mahi

Somewhere

I walk through the dark forest. The cool, wide leaves brush my face as I walk through them, shoving them aside. With every step I take, I'm barraged by a cacophony of noise, from bugs chirping to fierce roars. I shouldn't be here, and yet something won't let me turn back, even though I want to flee from this evil place.

Suddenly, the trees fall away, and I enter a small clearing somehow barricaded from the noise outside it. Moonlight illuminates it and casts deep shadows all around me. In the center sits a man, surrounded by a leopard, a wolf, and a lion. I let out a small gasp of shock and fear, for his form is that of four others.

On each side of his head is a face, and on it rests a small golden crown. Each of the faces is cold and has closed eyes. From each side of his torso extend a pair of arms. His legs are crossed and he sits upon a large lotus flower. At the flower's sides rest the animals, asleep.

A voice echoes in my head," Do not be afraid, beloved. These beasts cannot harm you, not here nor in the waking world, and this form is only temporary. Soon we shall be together once more." The voice is oddly familiar and comforting.

"Who are you?" I ask my voice more confident than I feel. I can still sense the evil in this place, trying to gnaw away at my body, my soul.

"You know who I am; you just do not know it yet. You also know how you must help me, and what you must do."

"What the heck are you talking about? " I have to suppress the urge to yell it, but I can't help raising my voice.

"You do not know how much it hurts for you not to know my face. You must find my voices, my spirit, if any of us are to survive this war. They were taken from me in the Change, but I fought back and they were given to our brethren. Each of the four holds one. I avoided giving you one because once I did, I could not guide you."

"This is just a dream or something. It's been fun, Mr. Four-Face, but I have to go," I say as I turn around and prepare to walk out into the jungle.

"Don't bother. I control this dream, for I created it, and I will bring you back as many times as needed to make you listen to me." Something in his voice tells me he's not kidding.

"What do you want?" I ask as I turn around.

"I just wish to give you a gift."

"A gift?"

"Yes, then I will be forced to leave you alone. It takes far too much energy for me to remain here. All you have to do is accept it."

"Where is it?"

"Just say, 'I accept'"

I take a deep breath. I don't know what's gonna happen, but I don't think this guy's going to hurt me. "I accept."

Suddenly, a piercing pain rips through my head. I let out a scream as I fall to my knees.

"Don't think too badly of me. You need your memories if you are to succeed." The voice says as the world fades to black.