A/N: This is the prologue for a new story I am thinking about writing. It's about an abused runaway who ends up on the streets of Chicago. Long story short, the police catch up to her four years later and send her to live with her Uncle, who she had never met, and to prep school. There she meets new friends and develops a mentor relationship with her teacher, Mr. Devin Stone. The question is, will that mentor relationship turn into something more?

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My real name… I can hardly remember my real name at this point. My real name is Elizabeth Anne Thomas, though you may know me as a number of names. You may know my as Jacelyn Blake, the name I switched to when I was 13. Maybe you know me as my street name 'Ace' or my fight name 'Sam Gunner'. You could also know me as 'Jace' or 'Lynn' or even 'Blake' which I reserved for the friends or closer contacts I made over the past four years. Or maybe you know me as 'Liz' or 'Tommy', the names my gang calls me.

My gang… they're the ones I truly consider to be my family. We're not really a gang in the conventional sense. Sure, we are involved in underhand and illegal things but it's for a reason. We don't go around picking fights or stealing or vandalizing things. No… we leave the normal people alone. The only 'business' we do is with contacts that know full well what they're getting into beforehand.

But my gang is my family in every sense of the word but blood. We watch out for each other, love each other, and defend each other. We'd take a bullet for each other and we all live together, knowing that no matter what, there's someone covering our backs. My gang or new family consists of four others.

There's Raine Williams, or 'Sam' is her street name, who is 17 now (like me) and is pretty much my other half. We're practically sisters and I'm closest to her and one other in the group. She's been living on the streets sine 13, like me, when her parents kicked her brother out of the house (he was 18 at the time and dumped her on him).

Then there's Blaze. Blaze is 15 right now and he's the most recent member to our team. He was found left for dead by his foster family a year ago, when we took him in. He's only fifteen but he's one hell of a researcher. He researches into our contacts and, being a great hacker, is able to hack into federal files to find information on all sorts of people. With the business we deal in, it helps a lot. Blaze is like a little brother to me and we come from similar backgrounds, allowing me to be pretty close to him.

There's also Reese, who's 19, and is our get-away car driver. He's been with the group since he was 16 when he ran away from home and joined the circus that is our gang. Reese is cool, hardened slightly from the three years on the street, but he's nice enough with us. Out of everyone in the gang, I'm the least close with Reese but no matter what, I know he's got my back like I got his.

Lastly, there's Jason Williams, or 'Gunner' as his street name. He's our leader of sorts, being the oldest, as he's 22. Raine is his younger sister and he taught us the ways of the streets. Even before he was kicked out of the house, he had a few street buddies that 'showed him the ropes' so to speak. He's been the leader of the gang, protecting Raine and I until we figured our way around, as he now protects Blaze. Other than Raine, I'm closest with him. He's part of my fight name, though I'll deal with that later.

My real family, as you must have noticed, I haven't mentioned yet. Well, there's a reason I don't mention them just as there's a reason I'm a runaway. To everyone else, it seemed the typical, good ol' American family. There was the stay at home mom, the business man dad, the 'good' girl and the 'good' older brother. Really, it was nothing like that though.

My mom would do nothing at home, instead forcing the chores, cooking, and other household work upon me. Other than that, she didn't really do much besides the occasional blow to the head by a frying pan, book, or miscellaneous item. She said she loved me when I was younger and I believed her. Something changed when I was eight though. For a reason I could never figure out, she no longer was that loving mom to me. She still loved my brother and took care of him, but she despised me for some reason. The mother I described above was all I knew the last five years before I ran away.

My dad was a different story entirely. He had always been cold and strict and whereas mother never outright abused me, he did. He would come home drunk many nights and beat me. One time it was so bad that I swore I would die. I was ten at the time and scared. When they brought me to the hospital and lied saying I was hit by a car, the doctors asked me if it was true. I was scared- terrified more like it. I was terrified that my dad might beat me again or worse… leave me at my brother's mercy. So, I lied as well, learning to deal with the various injuries- stab wounds, words carved into my back, burns from the stove and cigarettes, cuts from beer bottles thrown at me, broken bones, a bruised self-confidence, and shattered trust.

The worst was probably my brother. He did a combination of all three. At school, he would knock my books out of my hands and 'accidentally' close my hand in the locker. He would go out of his way to get me in trouble and he'd then laugh as father would beat me, hitting me again and again and again. Of course, he had is fun too. Half the knife wounds on my back came from him, and the scars along my neck are from the many times he would tie a rope around my neck, jerking me around. Of course, I tried my best to hide these wounds on my neck, lest it look like I attempted suicide on myself. The worst part about my brother was the nights when he was restless.

One thing you should know about my brother: he's not a nice guy in any way. He was a sexual predator, having raped several girls around the town. Of course, being his sister, that didn't ever stop him from coming onto me. When the outright abuse by my parents started when I was eight, he saw his chance.

It started with innocent touches, ones that I would never be able to tell the difference between brotherly and sexual. Then, it got worse when I was nearly ten. He would outright feel me up and I'd plead with my dad to make him stop but, they didn't care. Why would they?

When I was eleven, he did it for the first time. He did unspeakable things to me, things I try and try my best to forget. Things that still haunt my nightmares each night where I return to the silent hallow halls of my house. Things that I'll never forget.

For two years, he continued his tirade of sexual abuse on me. He was smart though, using protection. After all, it would out my parents too of the abuse and neglect if it wound up my brother impregnated me, right?

So, for two years I dealt with devastating blows from my parents and brother. My brother in particular, more creative than my parents, would try different ways of raping me. He chained me one time, getting off on the fact that I could do nothing but plead. Then he took it upon himself to 'silence' me in the most violent and sexual way that disgusts me. I dare not even think it, never mind speak of it.

That all ended that one day. I'll never forget the day I got away from my awful parents and nightmarish brother. It was one of the best days of my life, tying with the day I met Raine and Jason.

It was my thirteenth birthday. I hadn't seen my grandparents in god know how long. To be truthfully honest, I hadn't even known they were still alive until my dad walked into the basement and ordered me to get ready to go see them. They, of course, didn't know about the abuse for if they did, they never would have tolerated.

So, we went to my grandparents' house. They very nicely gave me fifty dollars, something that I relished in- being given something. They then also insisted we go to the zoo, something my parents were forced into and unable to refuse.

Thankfully, my brother hadn't been there that day. He was at a friend's otherwise I surely would have been caught as I gave them the slip, fifty dollars in hand. I ran from the zoo for as long and far as I could, before jumping on the next bus. I sat on the bus and didn't look back. I never did regret that day, other than the fact that I left behind my sweet grandparents wondering what could have happened to me. I never did see them again… but I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, I escaped and I ran. I wound up in Chicago, which is where I met Raine and Jason. The three of them- Chicago, Raine and Jason- taught me everything I know. Chicago taught me to be hard, independent, and to never turn your back. You had to stand your ground to earn respect; otherwise you'd be as good as dead. Raine and, more so Jason, taught me how to survive and what a real family was like.

Without them, I don't know how I ever would have made it to now. Without them I'd never have made the friends I have now. I'd never have had the family I did then with them, or the family I have now. I never would have survived the mess that happened just a few weeks ago. I never would have been strong enough to survive this prep school or strong enough to survive the rollercoaster that is my relationship with Devin. Without them, I wouldn't be standing here in this graveyard above their gravestones.

I wince in anger and fury at having even thought the bitter thought. Glaring down at the reflection of me in the puddle seeing as it was, ironically, raining; I knelt down on my knees. I placed the bouquet of flowers on their joint grave before taking the other two bouquets and placing them on Reese and Blake's respective graves. I then frowned, trying to force myself not to cry. Angry at myself for causing their deaths, for thinking the wretched thought, and for being so weak, I pull a switchblade out of my pocket and hold it to my skin.

I almost fall back on the old habit of cutting myself but I stop, staring at the scars. I lightly trace one of them with a shaky finger before dropping the switchblade. That was no longer me.

Another time, I would never have hesitated to shred my skin to ribbons with the blade. It was another time then, and essentially another life it seemed. I was no longer that person. Besides, Devin, Jason, Raine, Reese, Blake- it all would have been a waste. All of them, my new friends and family included- I would forsake it all and let the others in my crew have died in vain. No… another time, I may have been selfish or scared enough- cowardly enough to take the cheap way out.

No, now I was strong enough. I had made it through tons of shit before and I would now. Besides, my crew didn't die for nothing. They didn't die just to see me join them soon as well.

I guess, though, I ought to explain how I got to this point. It all starts back when I was fifteen. Jason took me to see a street fight once, two girls going up against each other, and I had fallen in love with the thuggish sport. It wasn't long before I signed up under the fight name 'Sam Gunner', in honor of the two most important people in my life at the time. It's not here that my story starts. It starts earlier this year in fact, on August sixth, my birthday…

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A/N: Well, that was the prologue! I hope you liked it! Remember to review and let me know: 1) what you think and 2) If I should continue it or not!