Astriea Clark sat on the windowsill in her room after taking the screen out. It overlooked an ally way below the apartment building that her family owned. She could see her mother throwing away some trash in the large dumpster. Her long, black hair was pulled up into a pony tail and her dark brown eyes were looking in front of her. Astriea could see her mother's slim shape and how short her mother was. She had to reach to get the dumpster all the way opened. Mrs. Clark turned and saw Astriea sitting half out her window. "Riea," Mrs. Clark called up, using Astriea's nickname. Astriea looked at her mother and sighed.

"I'm fine, Mom," Riea yelled down.

"Astriea Bailey Clark, You get down from there this instant," Mrs. Clark yelled up to her fifteen year old daughter.

"Whatever," Riea mumbled as she sat down on her bed. Riea didn't understand why she couldn't sit on her windowsill. It didn't matter if she fell; Riea was fast enough to grab the windowsill. Even if she wasn't, the dumpster was opened below. She knew just how to fall so she wouldn't be seriously injured. She was, after all, a ninja.

Riea's father was a ninjutsu master. A true master, unlike most who clam mastery over this difficult martial art. Mr. Clark was currently training his daughter this difficult art. He owned a small dojo where he taught Tai Kwan Do and trained himself and Riea. He had told her that soon she wouldn't need a master and that she would be able to train herself until she became a true master. She only had a couple more years to go.

Riea smiled at the thought of becoming a master. It's what she's always dreamed of. Mrs. Clark wasn't as enthusiastic as her husband about their daughter becoming a ninja. Mrs. Clark had always been slightly overprotective of her only child and it took immense amounts of persuasion for her to even think about letting Riea become a ninja. Riea had always hoped that Mrs. Clark would lighten up when Riea started to quickly rise up the ranks, but to her displeasure, Mrs. Clark became even more protective, not even wanting to see when Riea finally got real weapons to work with.

Riea turned and looked at the few things that Mrs. Clark did approve of. Getting up, Riea walked over to her two violins, one acoustic; the other electric that were leaning against her bookshelf in their cases. The electric had seven strings, so she could play the parts of many different instruments. She ran her hand over the various pedals that were sitting next to the violins that allowed her electric violin to achieve the desired sound she wanted. She looked at all the different books she had. All kinds of genre, authors, titles, colors, and thicknesses filled the tall bookshelf, except for the bottom shelf that was stuffed with binders and sketch books. The binders held copies of her writings and the sketch books were filled cover to cover with drawings and doodles.

Turning once again, Riea went to her rack of weapons. A multitude of swords, daggers, a couple sets of nunchuku, two Bo Staffs, three kusarigamas, four spike balls and chains, and a bunch of small throwing objects, such as kunai and shuriken sat upon it. She even owned a battle ax and some spears. She was planning on getting more weapons as she mastered them, but she knew the true weapon was herself, according to her dad.

Riea was snapped out of her thoughts by her dad's voice. "Riea," Mr. Clark called.

"Coming," Riea yelled down. Mr. Clark's bright green eyes and soft smile greeted Riea as she came down the steps. She took in his dark brown hair that was graying above his ears. He was muscular and fit for his age. "Yeah?" she asked.

"We need milk," was all Mr. Clark said as he handed his daughter ten dollars. "Oh, and see if Mr. Kingston and his son will come over for dinner tonight at six," he added. Riea nodded and left for the store. She walked down the street, careful not to bump into anyone. All too soon, she was at the small, family owned grocery store that was only two blocks down from Mr. Clark's Tai Kwan Do studio. She walked into the brightly lit store, causing the bells on top of the door to jingle. The boy at the register with brown, shaggy hair looked up from his book, titled Marked, and smiled at Riea.

"Hey, Riea," Zach called. Zach was a student at Mr. Clark's studio also Riea's best friend.

"Slow day?" Riea asked. She adjusted her studded belt that helped hold up her tight black skinny jeans and pulled down her black button up shirt with a loose red tie and leaned on the counter a bit.

"Yeah, you're my first costumer in two hours."

"Your dad here?"

"In the back," he replied. "Why?" Riea shrugged.

"My dad wants to know if you and your parents will come over tonight for dinner." Zach smiled.

"Cool," he said. "Maybe this time I'll win when we spar." Riea laughed.

"Yeah, and maybe I'll win the beauty pageant this year," she replied sarcastically.

"You might, if you actually join." Zach started to chew on the cap of his blue pen, a bad habit he had.

"There is no way in hell that I'm gonna join a show where girls prance around on stage like trained stage horses," Riea said, forcefully. Zach laughed.

"Trained stage horses, that's a new one," he said.

"Well, how else would you explain the way they act on stage?" she asked. Zach looked at her and he could tell she was dead serious. He laughed. Just then, Zach saw his father come up behind him.

"Ms. Clark, to what do we owe the pleasure?" Mr. Kingston asked.

"Milk and an invitation to dinner," she said.

"Well, you know where the milk is and we would be delighted to come over for dinner. What time?" he asked.

"Six," Riea answered. She looked at the clock and it said five forty-five.

"Sounds good. Get your milk and then we'll close up and walk back with you," Mr. Kingston answered.

"I can always help lock up," she offered as she walked over to the milk and grabbed a gallon. I walked back to the counter and handed Zach the money.

"We couldn't ask you to do that," Mr. Kingston said. Riea shrugged.

"You aren't," she said. "I'm offering. Besides, Zach helps me close up the studio, so I kinda owe him." Mr. Kingston sighed.

"Alright, Riea, you can help Zach lock up," he said. Riea smiled and took the change form Zach that he held out to her. She went over to the door while slipping the change into her pocket and flipped the sign to "Closed." After everything was locked up, Riea followed Zach and Mr. Kingston out of the store the back way. She walked with Zach, talking and laughing with her best friend the entire way, That is, until she saw the smoke coming from her apartment building.

"Mom, Dad," she said softly. She quickly pushed her way though the crowd and was stopped by an officer.

"I'm sorry, Ma'am, but you can't come though here," he said.

"That's my house," she shouted at them. "My parent's might be in there." One of the firefighters came over.

"Let her through," he said. "If that's her house, she's got clearance." The officer stepped aside and let her though. She ran to the fire chief.

"Sir, did you find my parents?" she asked, her voice filled with panic. He turned to her.

"We found them," he said. Relief filled Riea. "But, I'm afraid we were too late, miss." Riea's world came to a screeching halt. Falling to her knees, Riea let out a giant sob. She stayed there like that for hours, crying and refusing to move for anyone. Zach finally had to carry her back to his house.