Mass Effect

Chapter One

The annoying blare of Charlotte's alarm clock roused her from her sleep. A peaceful dream interrupted for a new day. Slamming down on the snooze button she sat up and rubbed the sleep from her eyes; looking down at the clock, 6:45 flashed in large yellow digital numbers on the clock's screen.

Yawning, she slipping out of her bed and pyjamas in search of clothes to wear for school. Sifting through her wardrobe, she managed to find some dark blue jeans, mauve t-shirt, a purple hooded tunic and her favorite black work boots. Grabbing a pair of long blue fingerless gloves, 2 small hip belts and a small collar necklace, she packed up her laptop and school books into a worn messenger bag. Slinging it over her shoulder, she made her way out into the kitchen.

Sitting at the kitchen table was her father, Hank, her mother, Lucille, and latest edition to their family, little baby Amelia. Smiling as she walked in, she had the misfortune of her brothers bombarded her; twins Jim and Tim bolted past her, almost knocking her over while her older brother Richard caught her before she could fall. Walking in with them, she snagged her seat at the table while her mother handed little Amelia to her and loaded the table with breakfast: bacon, hash browns, eggs and an assortment of juices.

"Every good day starts with a good breakfast," she smiled, taking Amelia back and allowed her kids to eat before school. Hank sipped at his coffee and looked through the paper, sighing heavily,

"Just look at this, another 4 kids go missing in the last week, what the hell is this world coming to?" he cursed, showing the article to his family,

"Now calm down darling, remember what the doctor said," chided Lucille, Hank sighed as he looked to each of his children,

"If any of ya are approached by shifty characters, you get ya butts back here ASAP, alright?" he wasn't asking this to be done; his kids knew he cared for them and wouldn't do anything unless there was a reason to it.

"Kay dad," they sounded off as they finished breakfast, stacked their plates and washed up. Since Richard was the oldest and had a black SUV to his name, he drove everyone to school. Charlotte slipped into the front seat while the twins took the back, making their way to their school; Alexander Hamilton High School.

Finding a park was easy since not every student had rocked up yet, but the grounds were still buzzing with activity; Jim and Tim ran off to either find their friends or plan their latest prank, Richard walked off to find his long-time girlfriend, Juliana, while Charlotte was left to walk in and find her friends.

Waiting by the door was 2 other students; an Latino boy decked out in a white and blue shirt, black vest and black skinny jeans and trainers, the other was a young Caucasian girl dressed up in a Lolita-style dress, matching corset with thick boots and all kinds of trinkets and accessories. The boy looked up as he noticed Charlotte walking up the steps,

"Ah here she is," he squeaked in a feminine manner, walking up to her and exchanged a quick italian kiss, a peck on each cheek, "Now how did my little anjo (angel in Portuguese) enjoy her summer vacation?" he asked, guiding her over to their little spot on the stairs, giving the goth chick a quick hug before sitting,

"It was fine Romeo," she smirked sarcastically, "Went of a Family Vacation across the continent, flew home last week,"

"Oh please tell me you brought souvenirs?" he gasped, almost pleading his assumption was true,

"Back off Jacob, she didn't have to get us anything," the Lolita chick snipped back, reading through her fantasy novel,

"But…" Charlotte smiled as she pulled out 2 gift-wrapped presents for her friends; Jacob squealed and ripped into the bright blue wrapping, gasping at what was inside, a black and grey pinstripe fedora with a small blue feather in the band,

"Oh Charlie I love you!" Jacob brought Charlotte into a tight hug, ecstatic about his gift,

"Oh I know, I hope you like yours Mandy," looking over to her Lolita friend, to find a happy smile,

"Oh Charlotte I love them," she smiled, pulling out a pair of kitty earrings and a maid-style head band, both were quickly put on and admired. As the 3 talked and caught up, the roar of a powerful engine caught the ears of most of the student body outside the main doors. In all it's glory, a red 2005 Bugatti Veyron pulled into a reserved parking space. The doors slid open and out stepped a miniature Paris Hilton; long blonde hair tossed over one shoulder, bright blue eyes, tanned skin and wearing a dress that barely covered her.

In an instant, 4 other girls dressed in a similar fashion appeared at her flanks as they moved to the main entrance. The leader of the group looked down on the trio with distain only for a smirk to take its place,

"Oh look, it's the factory rejects," she snipped, her pose giggling behind her,

"Nice to see you too Valerie, have a nice vacation," Charlotte smiled, not one bit as intimidated by this girl, she knew her style all too well,

"Actually I did, a yacht cruise through the Mediterranean for a few close friends and myself of course," she bragged, showing off her so-called 'natural tan' to everyone around, "And what about you? Lazed about playing those geeky games?"

"Actually I spent it with my family, you know blood relatives who actually care about one another," Charlotte shot back, collecting her things to move inside when Jacob and Mandy tried to avoid a confrontation with the girl; they could tell the comment stuck something, "By the way, you missed a spot on your leg there," pointing on the spot, Valerie looked down to see a smuggle on her leg, "Spray tans are so unreliable aren't they," she smirked, walking away to leave Valerie fuming.

"Not a cool move to start the year Charlie," Mandy sighed, "You know Viper Valerie is going to get you back for that,"

"Sorry but I don't like taking crap from her, the best way to beat a bully is to beat them at their own game," she replied, digging into her locker next to her friends,

"I'm all for correcting beauty faux par as much as the next queer dearies but even I know not to cross the Vampire Mistress of Hamilton High," Jacob defended, closing his locker before fixing his fedora and grabbing his books,

"She doesn't scare me, if she starts something with me, I'll finish it," Charlotte pulled out her books and closed her locker,

"And that is why I like you, Lottie," Mandy smiled, "You don't follow the status quo, you don't follow her like a sheep to its Shepherd," grabbing her own books and shutting her locker. Walking side by side, they continued to chat until they reached their respected classes; Mandy had Chemistry, Jacob had History while Charlotte had English, her favorite class. She loved writing stories, mostly sci-fi and adventure but she dabbled in romance, horror and drama. She had actually finished a small project for class, and was quite proud of it.

After that it was a pretty normal morning; she had her English class, then she had Math and after that computer technology. Walking into the lunchroom, she sighed at the sight of different cliques sitting together on their own tables. It was a pitiful sight sine half of her other friends were from different cliques. Then, sparing a glance at the central table, she glared at the so-called 'Popular/Varsity clique' where the most popular cheerleaders, Valerie and her posse, sit with their jock boyfriends at lunch break. The sight made her want to gag by how they were, put simply, 'making public displays of affection',

**More like public displays of lust** she thought by the sight of a particular couple, looking away she moved into line to get her lunch before moving to her friends and the table they held. She could hear murmurs and whispers from Valerie to her friends as she walked passed but she simply ignored them. Sitting with Jacob and Mandy, along with a few other friends; Tyler was a skater boy and self-acclaimed class clown, Samantha was a conservative teen and the Student President, Wilson was a labeled geek and head of the AV club, Loretta – Lori to her friends – was part of the Glee club and finally, Lucas the German foreign exchange student.

"Hey guys, how was class?" she asked, sitting next to Lucas and Samantha,

"Ugh! Valerie gave the dumbest report in History and got an A…I got a B+ for mine," Jacob sighed dramatically, "The History of Woman's fashion when I was supposed to be about Life and Politics in the Victorian era,"

Pushing Valerie from the conversation, they spoke about their summer vacations and what they had done before a high-pitched whistle echoed around the lunchroom, everyone turned to the center table; Valerie was standing on the table surveying the room as if it were her kingdom.

"Students of Hamilton High! I, Valerie Weyland, daughter of John Weyland, am hosting a little 'back to school' party for the whole student body. At the industrial warehouses just off the main highway. Be there or be square," she smirked, eyeing Charlotte and her friends before sitting down.

Charlotte sighed as she was being dragged into the warehouse by her friends to enjoy Valerie's party; She had told her dad they were going out and promised to call him if anything happened; he was a cop after all.

The moment they walked in, the air was thick with music, sweat and alcohol. Everyone from school was dancing around and having a good time but the many bottles and cans of beer and various types of alcohol and spirits caused Charlotte's concern,

"I don't think we should be here guys; underage drinking and I wouldn't put it past Valerie if there were drugs here too," Charlotte looked to each of her friends and shared the same look as her; they were outcasts for a reason – peer pressure was something none of them would fall into,

"You…you think you could call your pops and give us a ride home?" Samantha asked, nodding Charlotte pulled out her phone and began to dial her dad's number but a loud scream pulled them back to the party; frightened students were screaming and running about while men dressed all in black were picking them off one by won. Smoke bombs let off to further confuse and trap more students. Following her friends, she pressed the call button on her phone,

"This is officer Haines," came her father's voice,

"Dad it's Charlotte!" she screamed, now hearing gunshots going off, "We're at the warehouses off the main highway! Guns are going off and kids are being taken! AHHH!" pulled by a black glove, it wrapped around her neck to cut off her breathing and causing her to drop her phone,

"Charlie? CHARLIE! YOU THERE BABY! CHARLOTTE!" her father tried in vain to get her to respond as she fought her attacker, punching and kicking all she could reach before biting down on her assailant's arm. He let go but not before striking her hard on the head. Crashing down next to her phone, hearing her father's frantic orders to other officers in his area to go help,

"Dad..dy…I…I lov…love you…tell momma…Ricky…Jim…Tim…Mia…I love…them…and tell…Mia…I'm…I'm so-sorry I…wasn't a…great big…sister," one more swift blow to the head cause her world to go black.

The men clad in black moved quickly as they loaded unconscious teens into strange cylindrical pods while others cleaned any trace of them being there; some of the students who resisted were shot on sight, collecting bullets and their casings would leave forensics virtually nothing to go on. Upon hearing sirens in the distance, the entire warehouse now smelled like bleach, drenching everything from the walls, floor and bodies – all trace was wiped clean and they got away was almost half the students attending the party.

By the time the police arrived, they were long gone. They tried their best to find something to go on and try to find the many others that had gone missing. But they wouldn't find them…not for another 170 years…