Disclaimer: Maximum Ride belongs to James Patterson. I take no credit save for my original characters.
AN: Time setting for this story corresponds with The Angel Experiment. I hope you enjoy a new POV.
Chapter One: Shake Hands
It's ironic how most stories go. The authors always seem to put it in the perspective of the hero or heroine. That's the most annoying goddamn shit ever. For once, I'd like to see what goes on in the bad person's head. I can hardly find any stories like that. Then again, I can barely manage the time to read at all…unless you count mission briefings a pleasurable read. I don't. Well, on to business, shall we?
I sat upright in the speeding Humvee, willing my increasing heart rate to slow down. Guessing by the way no one looked in my direction with interest, I had my face pretty schooled down to a cool and calm façade. Kudos to me. I looked around to my teammates- my pack. Sitting in front of me in the driver's seat was Wrath, sullen as ever and trying his best to look bored. However, I could practically smell the anticipation lolling off him as he drove the Humvee, making smooth sharp turns up the curvy mountain side road without batting an eyelash. I glanced to my right and Avarice met my gaze, a wolfish smile on his boyish face. When I didn't bother returning the smile, he gave me a little pout and went back to typing furiously on his laptop. Avarice, or Ava for short, was my tactical man. His devious mind can scheme things so quick that most computers would shut down in shame against him. Sitting next to Ava was Lust. He was the oldest out of all of us. Eight full years. It gave me something to look forward to. I'm guaranteed to live that long, at least.
… Assuming nothing killed me before that.
Lust was trembling slightly, but not from fear. Never. He was excited, riled up for a fight. He was aptly named, I thought wryly. Lust's passion for battle was unmatched. Bloodlust, I think it was called. We all had it. Every single one of us. We weren't exactly designed to be that way, but I guess it had to do with all that wolf DNA.
"Pride, contact Envy and see that your pack knows what they're doing," barked a voice that seemed smothered with velvet, "If you guys screw this up, I'll have your sorry butts neutered."
The particularly irritating voice came from the shotgun seat (which by all rights, was my seat). I forced my eyes upon the scowling face of my superior officer. …Ari, little baby Ari. I didn't like him… and it didn't have to do anything with the fact that he was the real son of Jeb Batcheldor. Something special, alright. He was too pompous and bossy for my liking. Not to mention he wasn't officially trained like we were… or born like us for that matter. He was a mere human boy. Had been, actually.
"Yes sir," I said neutrally, only letting my anger show through my heated gaze. Ari smirked, enjoying taking over my usual command. He turned back around, snuggling in his seat like the smug seven-year-old that he was.
Well, I suppose now is a good enough time as any. Let me introduce myself. My name's Pride or experiment B-thirty-four, if you prefer. I'm an Eraser, fifty percent human and fifty percent wolf. I was bred for combat and raised to command my team. Think of me as the alpha wolf of the pack. If you take away that arrogant snob sitting shotgun, this is how we normally function and go about. The scientists that created us are called whitecoats. I don't know who started that, but for some reason it stuck. The whitecoats give us missions and this one was a big doozy.
… a big enough one to have daddy's little boy boss me around like some newbie cub. Please. I did enough missions to send Ari's neck snapping the other way when I breezed by the reports. However, him being Jeb's son and me being an expendable subject... I had to buck up and follow orders.
Putting on my radio headset, I paged Envy. Within a few seconds a charmingly raspy voice picked up. "Envy here, what's up?"
"Is it a couple of birds?" I asked, allowing myself some grim humor. There was a pause and then Envy came back in, sounding as if he'd just chuckled.
"Nah, boss. They're all in the house. All six of them, just eating breakfast."
"Just a little bit in front of the house… I've got the trees as cover. Boy, they sure are a bunch of birdbrains. I've been keeping tabs on them for a whole week and they haven't suspected a thing," Envy said. I could imagine the gloating grin of his face.
"You're just that good, Envy," I drawled sarcastically. Ava and Lust snickered, making Ari look back at them in annoyance. Of course, I wasn't cut any slack either.
"I am, aren't I?" Envy replied crisply.
"Yeah. Whatever," I said, ignoring Ari's glare for now. And Ava called me a killjoy?
Wrath pulled the Humvee to a stop. We were on an old trail, leading up a hill. Over the hill was the house where the avian experiments were. I could see the tiled rooftop peeking over the trees. We would have to walk the rest to avoid drawing attention. Ari, Lust, Wrath, and Ava all got out. All of them excect Ari looked at me for orders. I gave them a wait signal and opened two more channels on the radio. A faint buzzing sounded in my headphones and angelic tones greeted me. The other two of our seven sins were at another location with a chopper.
"Are you ready yet?" Acedia asked sourly.
"At the pace you're going, we'll have to refuel the chopper," Gluttony cheerfully added over helicopter noises.
"Listen up team," I barked, cutting off all friendly complaints. Everyone in the Humvee group visibly perked. "We'll be reaching our target point in thirty seconds. Envy, wait for our signal. Gluttony and Acedia, start bringing the chopper over. You have five minutes. Got it?"
"Sir!" replied the three via radio.
"The rest of you-" I began, in full command mode. However, Ari butted me off my soapbox. Figures.
"Wait in the woods and we'll slowly surround the house and ambush them," he said, enthusiastically, "Then we'll capture the youngest avian recombinant. All of you remember how she looks like, right?"
"Shortest one of the group, blond hair, blue eyes, white wings, and looks like an angel," we all chorused in bored tones. Ari sure loved to be thorough. This was his first mission from his daddy and he didn't want us screwing him over. Privately, I thought the same for him. At least he wouldn't be terminated if he failed.
"Then let's move out!" Ari snarled and started up the hill whether we followed him or not. As he walked, he morphed into his wolf form. We all heard his soft groan, almost with a whimper quality to it. Ari wasn't born an Eraser, he was made into one. That was one of the many differences between us. He knew he was the outcast of the group. We weren't exactly supportive of him… nor were the other Eraser packs. In our defense, I'd like to say that Ari had made no attempt to be friendly with us either. With a smirk, I motioned for the others to follow the Mr. Grouchy and Uptight.
While everyone else morphed, I stayed in my human form. I still had the radio headset on my head and my wolfy self wouldn't be too comfortable if I had changed right then. It was lucky that I had since Envy beeped me right then, sounding excited but controlled.
"They're coming out of the house now, Pride! All six," he murmured softly, emphasizing how close he was to the flock.
That surprised me and put a big hitched in our plans. Ava had specifically given every angle to ambush the flock within the house, not outside of it. Of course, he did mention a few alternative plans that I casually told him to shut up on. Ava was known to think too much, but every once in a while he got me apologizing to him. "Ah… stay put. What the hell are they doing? Do they suspect anything?"
"Doubt it. They're going strawberry picking," Envy deadpanned on me, voice a mere low growl. He'd morphed. I refrained from commenting on the strawberry statement. What the hell? I took in a deep breath through the nose and let it out in a sigh. The fresh country air relaxed me somewhat and got my mind focusing sharply… or maybe it was that tangy scent? I looked around, spotting bright patches of red up the hill. Fruity. I sped my pace, catching up with the rest of the group and stopped them with a hiss. Red bunches… Strawberry patches? So they were headed our way already. I didn't know if this would make us an advantage or disadvantage but I was going to try and make it the former.
"Envy, let them pass you and follow them from behind. When we attack, you attack," I ordered and got a pinging signal as an affirmative answer. Envy was now too close to the targets to be talking. I turned to my current group and delivered the new info with zest. "Abandon plan. They're not inside the house anymore and coming this way. We ambush them as soon as they're in sight. For now we'll use the woods as cover."
We hurried to the top of the small hill and settled within the foliage of trees. It wasn't the best hiding place, but dark clothes and fur tended to blend in well enough.
"How did they know that we're here?" Ari asked, looking frustrated.
"They don't," I said with a small vicious smile. My adrenaline was building up and I was twitching to morph like the others. "On my signal, we bust their berry-picking spree."
At my comment I was given odd looks from my pack. They didn't get it, but I'm sure Envy would've smirked at that. However, the radio was off and hopefully he was too busy tailing after the flock to appreciate it.
"Bust their berry picking spree…" Wrath mused out loud, "That's very badass, Pride."
"You know me," I muttered as we fell silent.
I took this chance to yank off the headphones and morph. Crouching low on all fours, I willed the animal part of me to take over. There was a quick moment of pain that made me twitch. After that, it was all pleasurable from there. My senses heightened and I felt my body gain new strength. I savored the feeling before straightening. Not to brag or anything, but I was a piece of art. My fur was midnight black with no hint of any other shade. Lean muscles lightly laced my arms and legs, a mockery of my real potential. Alien hunger leaked into my mind and I hastily shoved all carnivorous thoughts away. It was another reason why I was leader of a pack. I was the best at sustaining my human mind from my canine body. Back at the school I had seen unstable Erasers go berserk when they transformed. Newer versions weren't so prone to that. I was one of the oldies as was the rest of my pack and I was damn proud of it. Call it petty, but it was one of the few things we could actually be proud of.
Hunkering down on my haunches, I waited. My triangular ears flicked forward, picking up the slightest noises. Sniffing, I bared my teeth. I could smell them. Their avian blood and human odor… yummy.
Predators on prey. Hey, it was nothing personal on those avians. We were just doing our job, living the only life we had.
… and it wasn't their fault they tasted like chicken.