Okay JP crushed my soul - I'm writing my own version to crush everyone elses. It's set in Aussieland so if you don't understand something that's prolly why. Disclaimer: I don't own the characters and shizz you know the drill. Though I do own the original ones, le duh. And I have been told sigh that I need to wh0r3 for reviews. -.- So please review, thank you.

Man Left Behind

Chapter One

I crouched on the tree branch, my flock strung out in a line to my left. A kookaburra broke into a raucous laugh and I jumped, hearing Fang's quiet chuckle from beside me. I glared down at the scene before me with doubled intensity, my embarrassment fuelling the hate I felt for the people below us.

You're wondering what we're doing in Brisbane, Australia, staring down at people from this huge old fig tree? Well, we are bird kids – human birdies tend to need big trees. But back to the staring – and the Brisbane-ing, I suppose. This is Itex – but not Itex, it's the new Itex, new branch anyway. And watching the equipment and laboratory cages being carted inside was not going to put them on my Christmas card list.

We couldn't actually do anything yet, but I was hoping to shut this place down before it got half a chance. A new influx of lab techs – probably ordinary science students from the universities – were heading inside, a few checked their watches as they went as if there were some meeting they'd be late for. This was our chance – we could pass for university aged.

"You four stay here. Angel, hear a threat? You tell Iggy and get the hell out of here," I told her, my tone and eyes telling her how serious I was. I turned to Iggy with my next instructions, "If we don't come back, meet at the tallest building in the city, wait three days and if we don't come back we probably aren't going to," he nodded, just once and may have muttered a small 'good luck' but we were already moving – timing was everything and we couldn't be one of the stragglers.

I nodded to the rack of coats provided for the techs and we walked casually up to them, trying our damndest to look like we belonged.I pulled the coat around me, feeling a shiver of dread I associated with anything reminiscent of my childhood and sped through the door, feeling Fang's comforting presence at my back.

The flood of people headed straight into an auditorium where presentations of the company's work would one day be seen. There was no opportunity to break off from the crowd to do our own little exploration – I mean, to look for a bathroom – so we settled into seats for whatever this was. The voices quieted and all eyes turned to the front or to the clipboards some techs had on their laps – pen poised to take notes.

We looked up to the lectern and stared. I wondered briefly if he actually had to work at crushing my soul at every opportunity, but a far more worrying thought kept at me – Why was he here? Did he know we were too? Was this a trap? My eyes scanned the crowd for threats but none of the people around us seemed to care about us. My eyes came to a halt to the left side of the stage.

At first I thought she was a young girl, younger than us, in fact. She was crouched, her arms wrapped around her knees, long dark hair tied back at the nape of her neck. And her eyes. She was totally transfixed with the speaker. At first, I thought the look was innocent, her face was blank, head cocked a little to one side, but then I noticed the intensity, listening to every word, watching his every motion, like a predator studying her prey.

The girl's head swiveled to stare into the crowd, as if sensing my eyes on her, but it didn't take long before her eyes were drawn back to Jeb, addressing the lab techs on company policy and their responsibilities. Jeb – working against us again.