I do not own Maximum Ride the character nor series.

Ben dragged the drugged winged kid into the gas chamber, ignoring the shouts and cries of other bird-kids outside. Shutting the door, he returned to his place in front of the window where he can assess the progress of their newly developed poisonous gas. The room he just hauled the experiment into was elaborately lighted so that he may examine the test clearly. But it was a bit too clear for his liking. And from the screams rebounding from behind him, he knew others agreed.

Sitting only a few feet aback was a dog and five other experiments to be tested after this one. They knew their fate, but they didn't seem to care. They were preoccupied with shouting, "Max! No! Please, not her!"

Ben glanced down at his clip board. His current subject's name was Maximum Ride. What a strange title. But then again, this was a strange creature. A creature with no other use than to be exterminated. But why waste a life without putting it to some sort of test first? In answer to that question, whitecoats were retiring their recently captured experiments by using them to test their latest invention—a gas that will kill the subject and preserve its cells for months afterwards if the blood circulation delivered the toxin throughout the body before the heart stopped beating. At the moment, Ben was the only one here. There were huge numbers of experiments to be eliminated, so only one whitecoat could be spared to certain…'species'.

The figure inside the small room stirred, sitting up groggily. She looked around the room with clear eyes, vigilant despite the fact that she was still disoriented a moment ago. Her gaze landed on the little window Ben was standing behind. But she didn't seem to see him; all she saw were the rest of her kind behind him. She snarled at the Velcro straps that tied her family in place. She leapt up, pounding on the glass with her fists.

A little frightened, Ben quickly released the gas into the room. This was very good. In her anger, this hybrid's heartbeat increased dramatically, so there was now a greater chance for the toxin to be distributed all through her system.

And the bird-kid seemed to know that. She took a gulp of air and looked desperately at her family. But she wasn't begging for help. It was evident even to Ben that begging for her life was the very last thing this fierce creature would do. Instead, she seemed to be pleading for forgiveness. Her eyes were piercing into the rest of her flock, willing them to understand that she never meant for this to happen, that she was sorry that she had failed them.

In turn, her flock was shaking their heads until Ben thought their necks would break.

The smallest of them, a girl with pure white wings, was yelling, "Don't die, Max! Please don't! Just hang on!" Her cries melted into sobs.

Then another one, a boy with unfocused eyes as if he were blind, shouted, "You're one of the strongest people I know. You'll make it through!" But his yells echoed with false hope, of admittance to death.

"Max! I'm so sorry! I'm sorry for the times I didn't listen to you! I'm sorry for not cleaning my room when you said so! I'm sorry for not making my bed! I'm sorry for annoying you! I'm sorry for talking too much! I'm sorry for not helping! I'm sorry!" The winged child with dark skin seemed to have already given up hope and was paying repentance, giving last words.

She babbled on and on about parents and school so much that Ben barely heard the youngest male hybrid screaming, "Max, please don't go! I promise to be good! I'll do anything. I'll be more careful with bombs! I won't blow things up in the house!"

Meanwhile, a…talking dog was growling, "If you die, who's gonna take care of us?! I haven't even gotten my wings yet. I want to rub them in your face, so don't you dare leave!"

Then, as if all the screaming and yelling weren't enough, the fifth hybrid bellowed, too. But he wasn't shouting at Max, he was yelling at Ben. "You bastard! Turn off the gas or I'll kill you! Turn it off now!" He fought against the Velcro straps until his wrists began bleeding, and then he turned to the youngest girl, who was still bawling her eyes out. "Angel! Angel, make him stop! Use your power! Make him turn off the gas!"

With sudden hope flaring in her eyes, the girl turned her teary gaze on Ben, who was staring back intently. Then, remembering what this girl was capable of, he put up his well-practiced barriers that other whitecoats trained him to do. He waited as the girl concentrated fixedly, her brows furrowing in effort and confusion as she met nothing but a dull blank.

"I can't!" the girl screamed pitifully. "He's blocking me!" Then her sobs increased. "I don't want Max to die! Do something, Fang! Please!"

The one called Fang turned helplessly to the window where Max had her hands pressed against the glass, laboring for breath. She fought with unconsciousness, biting her lip to stay awake. Then, for the first time, she gave Ben a look. Well, not really a look, more like the glare of death. Ben knew even after this girl is dead, he'll still be having nightmares of those sharp eyes. He'll never forget the horror-struck screams of her family; never fail to recall the bird-kids' fruitless attempts to free themselves. Then, in one rash moment, Ben couldn't keep his emotions under control like he's meant to do. He suddenly saw that these creatures weren't just creatures at all. They were every bit as human as him, perhaps even more than him.

Ben launched at the off button, pounding it into the machinery in his haste to press it. Then he pulled the lever that sucks the gas back into its tank. As the safety meter reached a harmless level, he opened the door to the room. But he didn't dare approach the motionless body laying in front of him. Instead, he ran back to the other hybrids to free them from the bands that bound them to their seats. Ben only needed to free one of them, for that one immediately untied the rest. Then, not even casting a glance his way, they rushed into the room, sinking to their knees around the stock-still woman.

One of them attentively reached out and gently shook her shoulder.

"Max?" asked Angel.

No response.

Horror thickened around the bird-kids, choking them. Fang gathered Max into his arms, checking for her pulse. His carefully composed façade melted with relief as a faint throb caressed his fingers. He looked down at Max's pale face, fighting tears of hope. Then he turned to the rest of his family and said, "We have to get some clean oxygen into her system. Does anyone know CPR?"


Ben knew cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but his instincts told him that after his attempt to kill their leader, these people weren't gonna let him near her without ripping his throat out. Instead, he cleared his throat, calling for attention.

Five head snapped up simultaneously, ready for danger. The best Ben can do was not squeak as he suggested, "It's quite easy. CPR, that is."

They relaxed the tiniest bit, as though they were willing to accept his help. Well, they didn't have a choice.

Taking the silence as permission to continue, Ben instructed, "Tip her head back, pinch her nose, and just breathe into her mouth."

Now the hybrids looked among themselves as though daring each other to perform the unthinkable. They wanted to save Max but kiss her? Ummm…

With a cry of frustration and impatience, Fang threw himself into the task at hand. He'll never hear the end of this, but he refused to let Max die right in his arms when there was a chance to save her.

The others gawked with wide eyes as Fang executed CPR like a freakin' pro. Even Ben was surprised at how fast Fang had caught on. How he barely hesitated before his lips met Max's, almost as if he wanted to artificially kiss her. But then again, the Avian-American was desperate to save someone he loved, and desperation can do the funniest things to ya. Or maybe it's just love?

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