Author's Note: This the the second story in the Hidden Shadows set. Before anyone reads this, it would pay to read Hidden Shadows: Truth Revealed.

Disclaimer: I do not own Maximum Ride, the flock or Erasers, they are the creation of James Patterson (the brilliant mind that he is) and I do not own them. Also near the end of the story os a device called an N-jammer. These devices are also not my creation, but belong to the creators of the Gundam Seed Anime series, I just altered them for my own story, hop you guys at Sunrise Inc don't mind. Everything else in the story is my own work and if any places or people resemble actual places and/or people, or they are seen in any other stories, it is by pure coincidence. If anyone wishes to copy this story or sections of it, please ask my permission first. Thank you and Enjoy

Hidden Shadows: Tough Decisions

Prologue

A figure sat in a large leather executive chair, paperwork piled high on his ornate wooden desk. His office was lavish, expensive wall hangings draped down the walls. Shelves surrounded the office with books, trophies and photo frames with news paper clippings framed in them. A desk lamp was on and it illuminated a folder laid out across the desk, photos of mutant kids and their locations filling the pages, followed by their profiles. The figure leafed through the pages, concern growing on his face, barely illuminated by the desk light. The door to his office suddenly opened and in walked a brown haired woman, around the age of twenty-five, with green eyes, dressed in a business suit.

"Secretary of Defense, Sir," the secretary said nervously, "there's a call for you on line one."

"I told you I was not to be disturbed," Said the Secretary, "unless it's…"

"Unless it's the president," The secretary interrupted, "and it's the president, Sir."

"You may leave," The Secretary said.

As soon as his secretary had left and closed the door, he picked up the phone.

"This is the Secretary of Defense," said the Secretary, "Mr. President, I have discovered a problem."

"I'm busy John, so keep it short," The president ordered, "Does it have anything to do with national security?"

"It's about the new experiments in the population sir," John said, "They're ignoring regulations put into effect to keep them under control."

"What regulation are they defying?" The president asked, "Is it going to cause concern in the population?"

"Sir, their population is growing, I'm certain of that," John said, "eventually their population will be greater than ours."

The president was quiet for a moment, and then he spoke.

"You know what to do, John," The president said, "You have my support."

Secretary John Marsten of National Security placed the phone down in it cradle and breathed a sigh. Hopefully thing will be returned to order after this.

Chapter 1

Skye, Drake and I sat under a tree in the park. It was lunchtime and we were having a break from our classes. Yes I said classes. Because of the revelation of the Angelan and the changed, new laws had been passed to keep us under control. Angelan and Changed were not allowed to go out clubbing at night. There was a strict curfew for our kind. None of our kind were allowed out after ten at night unless it's an emergency. Other regulations had been bought in to keep us under control but there were too many to bother listing.

"You know," Drake commented, "it's kind of disturbing. She doesn't make a single sound in public, yet she cries half the night at home."

"Tell me about it," I yawned, "At least you don't have to get up in the middle of the night to see what she's crying about."

"I suppose not," Drake replied, "although we get woken up anyway." Drake paused for a moment then spoke again, "There is still one thing I don't get," he said, "Normal humans take nine months for a pregnancy to go through right?"

"Yeah," I replied, "so?"

"So how is it," Drake asked, "that Skye had Max in four months?"

I was quiet for a moment. I already knew the answer to that, but I was collecting my thoughts to explain it to him.

"It's because of what we are," I said, "during my time at the Academy; I managed to get hold of some of the research notes on our kind, as well as from the previous generation of the Angelan race."

"And let me guess," Skye commented, cradling Max in her arms, "you go it by hacking into the computer system."

"Don't be dumb," I said, "they would have used me as an Eraser chew toy. I'm good, but not that good. I had help from Reilly."

"All the way back then?" Drake asked, surprised, "I didn't think Reilly switched sides until later."

"Remember that promise he made to my mother, Maximum Ride?" I asked, "He made that before we even met. At the time he told me it was some reading material. I think he wanted me to see it."

"Yeah," Drake replied, "I remember, but you still haven't answered my question."

"While I was reading the information I found out quite a bit about our kind. The first and second generation," I said, "The time it takes for a fetus of our kind to grow is four months. We have a shorter development than humans. It's because it's what we are. Part bird, part human."

"Guys," Skye said, "do you mind. I've already been through it; there is no need for me to be reminded about it."

"But the difference between the first and the second generation is interesting," I continued ignoring Skye's comment, "Do you know what Oviparous means?"

Both Skye and Drake shook their heads. They didn't know.

"It means that the first generation," I explained, "when having children, had to lay eggs. It was something to do with retaining the use of our wings in life."

"But that wasn't what happened," Skye said, "there's more isn't there?"

"Yes," I replied, "I found there was a difference between the first and second generations. The second generation gives birth to live young, without the loss of usage in the children's wings."

"But why is it different?" Skye asked. It was far more interesting than the physics book she was trying to revise out of.

"I don't know," I said, "but I have a theory."

"Let hear it," Drake and Skye said at the same time.

"I believe that with each generation born; the genetic structure strengthens, become more perfect. The first generation had many failed experiments. The second generation only had a few. If the scientists had made a third generation, there would have been even fewer deaths. It's like with each new generation, the genetic structure improves itself, rids itself of any weaknesses shown in previous generations."

"Interesting theory," Skye said, "you have too much time on your hands. How about helping me out with Max a bit more."

"I've only been looking over the information recently," I replied, "during class. I already know most of this stuff."

"Smarty pants," Drake joked, "I could use your smarts."

"Try studying instead of staring off into space," I replied, "that might help get your brain functioning in the first place."

A figure walked up in front of them and asked a question.

"I'm sorry to bother you," the figure asked, a girl by the sounds, "You mentioned the name Reilly. Did you know him?"

"Yeah," I replied, "why?"

"Because I'm his younger sister."

Chapter 2

"Younger sister?" I asked surprised, "I didn't know he had any siblings, let alone any other family members still alive."

"Yeah, well," Reilly's sister said, "He hasn't talked to his family in over ten years. By the way, my name's Reisha. But I prefer to be called Rei."

I stuck out my hand and shook it with her.

"I'm Nathan," I replied, "This is Danielle, my life mate and that's Daniel. They're my family."

"You're an experiment aren't you?" Rei asked, "What do you call yourselves, Angelan?"

I nodded my head. I didn't say it out loud; there were people at our school who don't like Mutants.

What about you? I asked telepathically, and no, you aren't hearing voices in your head. It's me Nathan, I'm telepathic.

Rei nodded her head, letting me know she was an experiment as well. She wasn't entirely surprised by my comment, perhaps she had come across other mutants with telepathy.

"How did you know my big brother?" Rei asked, "I've been looking for him since I found out I had an older brother."

"What did you know about Reilly?" I asked avoiding the question. I wanted to know how close they were before I broke the news to her.

"My entire family had been living in the labs; my mother and father were whitecoats that worked in the labs. Reilly had an argument with the rest of the family, because he decided to become an experiment and test the new drug that could change people. He became an Angelan. I, however, was born as an Angelan. My parents had to sell me to the whitecoats to keep their lives. They wanted to leave, but the board said no, so they made an agreement, we give you our daughter as a test subject, in exchange for our freedom. They agreed."

"Reilly might have been changed, but they employed him as a whitecoat." I said, explaining the part she didn't know. "He talked to Maximum Ride, before she died; he kept a promise to her, to protect the Second Generation. Max was smart; she knew they would try something like that and I'm the living proof. Reilly worked at a place called The Academy, where they trained us to be assassins. I don't know how long he worked there. I don't even know the difference between his life when he was experimented on, and ours. He helped us escape, keeping his promise to Max. Later on, after we had been on the loose, Reilly came to our rescue again and saved our lives."

"Do you know where he is now?" Rei asked me.

"Where the wind is," I replied, "Rei, I don't know how else to say this, but when he saved us, he was shot by an Eraser named Lucas. He died from the wound. I killed Lucas, and cremated Reilly."

Rei was shocked. I saw her face go pale as I told her and she began to cry.

"I only knew what people told me." She whispered through sobs, "I never got to meet Reilly. I was born after he became an experiment. I guess now I will never be able to meet him."

Chapter 3

"How old are you Rei?" I asked, suspicions gnawing at my mind.

"What?" Rei replied, still in shock, "I'm Seventeen. Why?"

I looked at Skye and Drake. They understood what I was thinking.

"Rei," I said softly, "I don't think Reilly was your brother, or if he was, I don't think you being an Angelan was part of a deal made by your parents."

"What?" Rei exclaimed, "I don't understand."

"Rei," I explained, "We are seventeen as well. I don't know what went on in your life, but as I said, we are second generation. We were created from two of the first generation Angelan."

"What do you mean?" Rei asked.

"You have heard of Maximum Ride?" I asked Rei, "Right?"

"Yeah," Rei replied, "I have heard of her."

"Max was a first generation, born fourteen years before I was." I explained, telling the same story that Reilly had told me, "She was fourteen when Max and her flock died. I was born two years later. They called me a Second Generation. My parents were Angelan, experiments like Maximum."

"What he's trying to tell you, Rei," Drake interrupted, "is that his Mother was Maximum Ride, his father was another member of her flock called Fang. When we were at The Academy, we were told lies. Nathan was told that people on the outside world killed Max and her flock, when it was his own grandfather that ordered her death."

"Your mother was Max?" Rei asked me.

"Yeah," I replied, "She didn't give birth to me, but I was created from her DNA. Jeb got what he deserved at The Installation."

I pulled out my Wrist pilot, a small PDA type device that could be strapped to the wrist, hence its name.

"You were the one that destroyed The Installation?" Rei asked, "You do realize that it wasn't far from The School, located in Death Valley, right? The place where Max was kept captive."

"Yeah, I realize that," I said, "I do watch the news, the people at the school are on trial. I also did a little checking into the files before the military got rid of them."

I fell silent as I focused on what was on my screen. I was searching the files I had copied from the labs that were being shut down. I was searching for Reisha Reilly in their database, but matches were proving difficult. Then one caught my attention.

Name: Reilly, Reisha
Subject: number: 2G93
Parents: 1GED9, 1GED13

I focused on the numbers and began to put the pieces together. Reisha was 2G93. She was a second generation subject ninety-three. Her parents were First generation, experimental Drug, subjects nine and thirteen. I looked up the numbers in the database and discovered who the parents were. One name wasn't important; the whitecoats had most likely chosen it at random from the other subjects. What had taken my interest was the father. Parent 1GED9 was Reilly.

"Rei," I said, my voice shaky, not something that happens very often, "I'm sorry to tell you this, but Reilly wasn't your brother… Reilly was your father."

Rei was quiet, shocked at the new piece of data. I could see she was having trouble coping with all the information, but she had to know that piece of data. I un-strapped the WP from my wrist and passed it to her, letting her see the information with her own eyes.

When she had finished reading the information, she handed the WP back to me and sat in silence. I heard a beep and looked at the WP to find a message had just arrived. I opened it up. It was in code so I deciphered it and read the message.

To: Blaze
From: Shadow
Subject: Urgent

Blaze,
I need to talk to you, alone.
I have tried talking to the councilors but they will not agree to meet with me.
Please, I need your help.

Shadow

Chapter 4

I replied yes to the message and sent Shadow a meeting place, encrypted so that not even the military could crack it, deleted the message once I had finished and put my WP in standby mode. Just then, the bell rang for our return to class. The rest of the day was uneventful and boring. Considering our IQ's were higher than most of the teachers at school, we sat at the back of the class, doing our own little things.

Drake, Skye and I arrived home and Skye placed the sleeping Max in her crib. She came back down a few minutes later.

"What was that message about?" Skye asked me.

She knew about the messages I got from the councilors, everyone in our flock knew about them. The council was a collection of the leaders of each of the groups of Angelan and Changed. Throughout the country there were Tribes of altered humans, Flocks of Angelan and packs of werewolves. Yes, werewolves; previous Eraser experiments that had turned good, as hard as that is to believe. They lived as normal humans, although occasionally got furry and went hunting wild animals. There were also packs of other hybrids like the human-tigers and similar experiments. Skye, Drake and the others had chosen me to be the leader of our flock. I was the one with the most experience, and I had taken care of us since our escape. Skye was the second in command, but since she was talking care of Max, Drake was assuming her role. Council meetings tended to be held in large buildings because there were so many of us or held via satellite communications.

"It was Shadow," I replied, "He wants me to meet him. He says it's urgent."

Just then, there was a knock on the door.

"Terra and Flacon should be home soon," Drake said, "but they don't usually knock. I'll go check it out."

Skye and I waited for a few minutes in silence as Drake answered the door. We heard a quiet conversation and then Drake returned with Rei in tow.

"Um…" Rei hesitated, "do you guys mind if I crash here for a couple of days? I kind of have nowhere to go."

"Are you a lone bird?" I asked, it was a joke shared by the Angelan, it meant that you were a lone traveler.

"I was never part of a flock," Rei said, "I've always lived on my own, living on the streets."

Do you think we can trust her? Skye thought, knowing that I would pick up on it.

No idea, I thought back, but she is Reilly's daughter. We do owe Reilly our lives.

Do we have enough room? Skye asked.

There is the spare room upstairs, I replied, she could stay there.

"You can stay," I replied aloud, "we have a spare room upstairs. You can have it."

"Thanks," Rei said.

"No problem," I replied, "We owe Reilly anyway. He did save our lives. The least we can do is give shelter to his family. Drake can you show her the way?"

Rei disappeared up the stairs to drop off her stuff, Drake showing her the way to her room.

"You sure we can handle having another person in the house?" Skye asked me.

"Yeah, I'm sure," I replied, "half the food we have tends to spoil and we have to throw it out because we don't eat it. Maybe now the food won't go to waste."

We all laughed at that. It had been two months since our escape from The Installation and we still hadn't accepted life as normal people… well as normal as we could be, laughter didn't happen often in our house. It was mostly crying from Max or arguments between the members of the household, although it never got serious.

"What did the message say?" Skye asked me, referring back to the message from Shadow.

"Shadow said that he had tried to talk to the other councilors," I replied, "but they didn't want to meet him, so he decided to get my help. He never said what it was about, but it's not good news."

"What makes you say that?" Drake asked, coming down from upstairs.

"Skye," I said, ignoring Drake's question, "do you remember that night two days ago, when I woke up from a nightmare?"

"Yeah," Skye replied, "I remember, we had to get Flame to wake you up."

"It wasn't a nightmare," I said, "it was more like a vision, like what happened when I had passed out during our escape from The Academy. I saw something that I didn't want to see. I can't remember it, but I still have a sense like something bad is going to happen."

"Like what?" Flame asked, walking out of her downstairs bedroom.

"I don't know." I replied, turning to Flame, "Sleep well?"

"Like a log," Flame replied.

"Some people are luckier than others," I replied, "at least you don't have to go to school yet. Still recovering from your "Traumatic experience."

We all smiled at that.

Chapter 5

I stood out on the porch, looking out at the sunset. We lived in new subdivisions designed for our kind. All the houses for the Angelan had been built on hills, mountainsides or near cliffs. You might think it wasn't a safe idea building houses that close to natural hazards, but hey, it's the year 2021. The foundations of the buildings were reinforced so that if there were any natural disasters or such, the buildings wouldn't collapse. The sun had painted the sky a myriad of colors. Purples, pinks, blues and golds streaked through the clouds of white as they floated by on the soft breeze. It was sunsets like this that made me thankful I was still alive, thankful I had a family.

"Something's bothering you, isn't it?" Skye asked me, walking out on the balcony and closing the ranch slider behind her, Max cradled in her arms.

"It was the nightmare I had," I replied, "I lied when I said I didn't remember it. I didn't want to upset the others."

"What was it about, Blaze?" Skye asked me, concern in her voice.

"I… I… I can't," I stammered, tears forming in my eyes, "I just can't tell you."

Skye came up beside me placed her hand in mine and comforted me. Max made noises, her soft downy feather brushed against my arm like silk.

"What is it that bothers you so much about the nightmare, Blaze," Skye asked, "Is it so terrible that you can't talk about it?"

"Because you were in it," I replied sharply, wanting to drop the topic, not sure if I could handle the emotion I kept inside, "You were in my dream, vision, whatever it was."

Skye was quiet for a moment, even Max had gone quiet, but that was because she had fallen happily asleep in her mothers arms.

"You were in it, ok?" I used a softer tone this time, "you were sick, dying from some sort of sickness. I saw flashes of television sets, the screen always showing the same thing. Something about a sickness, a virus that was going around killing those that weren't human."

"It's just a dream, Blaze," Skye replied after the shock of it wore off, "It's not true."

"To me it was, Skye," I replied, "As I said, it was like that vision I had when we were escaping The Academy. It felt real, as if I was there. I felt the emotions that were running through me, but instead of it being in the present, it was the future. I just don't understand."

"We'll get through it together Blaze," Skye said, hearing the worry in my voice.

By now the sun had fallen beyond the horizon and the colors that painted the sky were fading along with it.

"Dinner should be ready soon," I said after a while, "we should go inside, Terra and Falcon should be home by now. I wonder what they've been up to."

"I think we have young love in the house," Skye said mischievously.

"You know something about them, don't you?" I asked, "What do you know?"

"Nothing," Skye said as she opened the door to go back inside, "I better put Max to bed."

Skye walked inside and went upstairs to put Max in her crib. Then I heard a shout coming from the hallway.

"Oh man, not again!" Falcons voice called out, "I can't believe it happened again!"