Chapter 1: Rita

Racing through the maze of streets under the beating rain, a lone teenage boy carrying a simple backpack full of countless stolen green bills.

His shoes ran against the wet concrete, sprinting in attempt to evade the sirens pursuing close behind. The teen boy was used to running, and was confident in his ability to escape. Just a few more feet. A feet more feet and he would escape...

Headlights blinded his path, cutting off his route. "Stop right there!" An officer shouted as he got out of his squad car. The teen quickly changed his direction, running away to the sanctuary of a nearby alley.

The officer was in close pursuit, just as every bit athletic as the teen. Looking for routes of escape, the thief slammed into a back door and ran inside, quickly bounding up flights of steps towards the roof.

"You just won't give up..." The teen thought to himself. A glance over his shoulder confirmed that his pursuer was still behind him, keeping pace. Determination drove him faster up the steps, and he slammed into the door and ran onto the roof.

He kept his speed, never slowing down until he reached the edge of the building, forcing him to an abrupt halt. He looked over the edge. The street lay dozens of feet below, the blue and crimson of police cruisers lighting up the stormy night.

"That's far as you go." The officer said behind him, cocking his weapon. The teen boy froze, standing silent in the rain, listening to the police sirens below.

"Step away from the edge and put your hands on your head," The officer commanded, slowly pacing towards him, pistol raised. "Slowly now..."

The teenager closed his eyes and sighed. "I didn't want use this power, but it seems you left me no other choice..."

"On your knees! Do it now!"

The teenager glanced over his shoulder, giving the police officer a casual smile, his emerald green eyes looking calm. Before the officer could react, the boy vanished in the blink of an eye, disappearing right out of thin air.

Shock instantly hit the police officer. The suspect was just there, standing right before him! How did he-

Without warning, A hard blow landed against the police officer's skull, knocking him out cold before he hit the ground. His attacker stood over him, triumphant in victory.

The young teen had reappeared just as soon as he had vanished.

"You left me no choice. Nothing personal."

The sound of approaching police sirens quickly brought him back to the reality that he was still be pursued. It was also turning into a late night as well. He couldn't stay out too long.

After all, he had school tomorrow.

Looking up into the rain, he smiled one last time at the unconscious police officer before vanishing right on the spot.

-...-...-...-...-...-


"Thank you for sharing," Mr. Miller said with a polite smile. "Rita, would you like to introduce yourself next?"

Rita Lark felt her stomach drop once again

She always hated talking in front of large groups, especially when that large group consisted of her classmates. She wanted so much to refuse her teacher's request, but reluctantly found herself getting out of her seat and walking to the front of the class.

"Hello, my name is Rita Lark," She said, trying to avoid their gazes. "I'm 16 years old and a freshman this year. I like reading and art, and I also like to hang out with my friends."

An awkward silence filled the classroom.

"Is that all Rita?" Mr. Miller asked, as if he was expecting more.

Rita nodded quietly, playing with a strand of her burgundy brown hair.

"Yes."

"All right, thank you for sharing then. Audrey, could you introduce yourself..."

Rita quickly retreated back to her seat with the rest of her class, eager to get away and out of everyone's view. She was already getting the very attention she was trying to avoid.

Her clothes didn't help her in that. Faded worn out sneakers, torn jeans, and a gray hoodie probably helped her stand out more then blend in.

If her hair was cut a few inches shorter, she could be mistaken for a frail boy.

Rita sat back down in her seat, already dreading her first year of senior high.

She knew this day was coming. Summer vacation had come and gone and now Rita would be introduced to the teenage world of high school romances and dramas. Being a freshman at Kennedy Senior high was something she hadn't been looking forward too.

Especially in a new town.

Lucky for her, the day was almost done.

Her last class of the day was a Economics class. Easy, just boring. Today was their first day, and they were going through the motions of introducing themselves. Rita didn't really see the point, as she already forgot most of her classmates names already.

The introductions took them most of the period. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only thing they did.

"Alright, now that I know a little about you, I like you to fill out this survey," Mr. Miller said as he began passing out worksheets. "This survey isn't hard, it just an activity to help me get to know you better."

Rita looked over the sheet, scanning the questions. The first questions were the easy ones. 'What's your name?' and 'What's your favorite color?' However, as the survey went on, the questions became increasingly difficult.

"What do I want to be when I grow up?" Rita read to herself. "I don't know, who's asking?" She skipped down to the next question.

"What is your greatest achievement?" Rita gripped her pencil in frustration. She hated questions like this. Filling out this survey was beginning to feel like an interrogation. She decided to skip this question as well.

On and on, she continued to read the survey, most of the time skipping the questions. She had about reached the end, until she stopped on one question in particular.

"If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would that be?"

She paused, silent in thought.

"I wish I could be more confident. I wish I could make anyone like me. I wish I was taller. I wish I was more attractive. I wish that I didn't have to fill out this stupid survey!"

She was just about to throw her pencil across the room when the bell rang. Finally, the best part of the day was here.

"Alright class, the only homework you have is to finish your survey!" Mr. Miller called everyone rushed to the door. Rita wasted no time in getting out first. Before she knew it, she was quickly racing down the hall to her locker. A quick stop for her bag, and she was out the door in record time.

-...-...-...-...-...-

The walk home was a refreshing change of pace, and it was a welcome to finally be home after a long and tedious day of class. Just walking into the door made her feel more at ease.

"Rita is that you? Oh, your home early!" Her mother said with her warm smile that seemed to light up the kitchen.

"Ya, long day. Too long..." Rita groaned, completely drained. She dropped into an empty chair at the kitchen table.

"I hate this school mom. Everyone avoids me..."

Her mother gave her a soft squeeze, rubbing her hair. "It's just cause they don't know you yet. Just talk to them, you'll see."

Rita sighed, as if the simple task of making friends seemed next to impossible in her eyes. Ever since she and her mother moved from their small quiet town to the much larger city, she felt fragile and clueless in this new place.

And the small battered two story apartment didn't make her feel much at home neither.

Despite this, she was lucky to have her mother in her life. Lydia Lark was a woman with a caring heart, but she always seemed so tired lately. Rita never mentioned it, but her mother seemed to be getting weaker and weaker from the long hours at her job as an office secretary.

No matter what however, Rita's mother always seemed to hold her head high and her spirits higher.

"Don't worry sweetie." Her mother said with a peck on the cheek. "I'm sure you'll make friends at school in no time."

-...-...-...-...-...-

After a brief supper, Rita washed her dish and quickly bounded up the wooden stairs to the one place she felt completely at peace: Her room.

It was even smaller then her old room. Her twin bed nearly took up half the space, at that wasn't even counting her desk and dresser crammed next to it. The walls were a faded mustard yellow, and the paint was chipping. Spiders and cobwebs decorated every nook and cranny, and the one window was cracked.

However, she had made it her own, and she took pride in fixing what ever she could up. She and her mom couldn't afford many luxuries, so she took comfort in the little things.

Rita dove on her bed and landed on the thick, wool blanket her mother had made her for Christmas last year. She flipped on the radio, grabbed her paper tablet, and began doing one of her few hobbies: Drawing manga.

She had enjoyed drawing, but she still wasn't any good at it. However, it helped to pass the time none the less. If that didn't work, she always could do her other favorite hobbie: Reading manga.

Rita grabbed the countless manga volumes she had scattered on her desk and reached for the latest one she hadn't gotten to reading.

"Degree of Sorrow..." Rita read to herself as she looked at the cover. "Could be kinda cool..."

The manga started with the introduction of Gai Kuromoru, an average teenage student. Great looking, cute smile, and quiet. Typical of most protagonists she would read about.

However, as she read on, Gai's major problem was with his peers, constantly picking on him and beating him up. Being the weakling that he was, Gai's only option was to simply take the beatings from his classmates, until a mysterious entity grants him the power to create change in his depressing life. After receiving powers, he soon began to change not only himself, but the people around him.

Rita read the final page, ending with Gai now much happier and a new goal for the next issue.

She tossed the manga aside and sighed. "If only I had powers...I don't know what kind, but just something, anything..."

Rita shook her head in denial. "Stupid girl," She scolded to herself. "There's no such thing, It's just fantasy..."

Looking up at the chipping paint on her ceiling made her realize the reality. She was just average girl, and she would end up living an average existence. Just like everyone else.

Rita Lark curled up on her bed, drifting off to sleep, still wondering what it would be like to have the power to change her life.

She never realized she would get her wish.

"Wakey, Wakey, 'little bird...'"

Rita opened her eyes from her slumber, hearing a voice that she did not recognize. As she opened her eyes, a world of pitch black stared back at her, seemingly infinite in its dark void.

"What? Where am I?"

"Where am I? Who am I? What am I doing here? Such a lot of questions, but so little time to answer them..."

Rita looked around for another person, trying to find the source of the strange voice. "Who are you?"

"Who am I? That's a question, which I'm not allow to answer. Instead, let me ask you one..."

"If you had the power to change your life, would you use such a power?"

Rita opened her mouth to shout at the voice, but suddenly found herself considering the question. It was almost like one of the questions in her school survey, but this one she had actually asked herself.

"Well?" The voice inquired. "Tick tock, Tick tock..."

"I don't know," Rita began, trying to understand all of this. "I-

"Yes! Or No!" The voice shouted, almost sounding impatient as if she were running out of time to answer. "That's all I require!"

"Yes then!" Rita shouted back, this time sure on her answer. "I would want power to change my life!"

Silence. Then, a small, quiet chuckle.

"Very well 'little bird'. Then power you shall have."

-...-...-...-...-

"Rita, time to get up for school!"

She awoke to find the early morning sun shining through her broken window. She lay still as a statue, realizing what had happened.

"It was only a dream..." Rita whispered to her self. "A dream, but it felt so real..."

"Rita, are you getting up?" Her mother called again from downstairs. "You don't want to be late on your second day!"

"Yes, I'm up!" Rita called back down. Being short on time, she grabbed the first clothes she saw from her dresser, straightened her hair, grabbed her bag and rushed downstairs. She ate breakfast in record time and was out the door on the walk to school. While she was dreading the day to come, she couldn't help but keep thinking about her odd dream.

-...-...-...-...-

By the time Rita made it to school, she was already late for her first class, despite nearly sprinting half way across town.

"Great, I'm late for what I hate..." She muttered under her tired breath. Rita made a trip to the office to get her late slip.

The receptionist looked like an old crow, with a crooked nose and glasses thick as window panes. She was hunched over her computer, typing away without pause. Cautiously, Rita approached the desk, half wondering if the woman would cast some spell or curse at her.

"Um, excuse me, I was wondering if I could get a slip to class?"

The receptionist didn't seem to take any notice, instead ignoring her and continuing to type.

"Hello, I was-

"Yes, I heard you. Name?"

"Rita. Rita Lark."

The receptionist stopped typing, glancing up at her through her ugly purple frames.

"Aren't you one of the new students?"

"Yes..."

The receptionist sighed, making it seem like Rita was the worst student she had ever crossed talons with. She pulled out a sheet and scribbled out a late slip.

"Here." She snapped, shoving the slip in Rita's face. "Next time set your alarm. Teenagers..."

Rita gave a silent glare, reaching for the note and touching the receptionist's perfumed hand. "You know, it would do you some good to be nicer..."

The receptionist froze, as if Rita had just snapped her fuse or broken the woman all together. Then, without warning, Rita saw the something she never thought could happen.

A smile. Not just any smile, but a completely genuine smile that seemed to offer warm and comfort to those you need. A smile so big, it even reminded Rita of her mother's.

"Here you go. You have a good day Rita!" The receptionist beamed, her mood completely changed.

Rita stood completely shocked. She didn't know if she really was being nice or being completely sarcastic. Slowly, she backed away, still not believing what she had just witnessed.

"What the hell is her deal..." Rita muttered, looking back at the now joyful secretary. "She must be bi polar or something..."

-...-...-...-...-

Unbeknownst to Rita, she wasn't the only one who had just seen the strange situation unfold.

Tall, blonde, and handsome as ever, Jamie Lanning silently observed the new freshman girl walk away, taking careful note of what had just occurred.

"She one of the 13...I don't know if she realizes it, but she's the '13th'."

Jamie grinned. "It looks like I'm not the only one..." he said to himself, a flash in his emerald green eyes. "Perhaps this year will be more interesting then I thought..."

Jamie smiled to himself before vanishing right out of thin air, using a secret and supernatural power only he and now 12 others shared.