I must have shown some physical sign of my epiphany, because Shane was leaning far too close to me, snapping his fingers in front of my face.

"Max? Max? What happened? What's going on? Is something wrong? I promise, whatever's in your head right now, it isn't—" I cut off his rant (a Nudge-worthy one, at that) with a sharp slap to his cheek.

"Ow…Max. What the he—"

"Please, Shane, do me just one favor," I said, still slightly dazed from hearing Angel's voice in my head.

"Um…sure," he replied stiffly.

"Shut up." In three seconds I was bulleting through the sky at super-speed, back towards where I'd left the flock. A new record maybe? I thought vaguely, but all too soon even my thoughts were snatched away by the wind.

"She's not coming," Gazzy said for about the fifty-zillionth time that hour.

"She's coming. She has to be coming. She loves us, right?" Nudge was biting her fingernails—something she only did when she was really nervous. I knew because I could hear her chompchompchomping away between every sentence. Sometimes even during the sentence.


"Well if she doesn't come I won't blame her. After the way you treated her—I wouldn't come back!" Gazzy huffed.

"Me? What about you! You practically ignored her all the time!" Nudge shouted back.

"Well you were the one who put us all against her in the first pla—"

"Well she practically killed us! I was just trying to protect—"

"Max would never do something like that on purpose! You know—"

"Of course I know that, Gazzy, but—"

"But what? Huh? What could possibly make you turn against—"

"I was scared, okay? I was scared." The silence that followed was penetrating. And then, all at once, it was like someone turned off the mute button.

Nudge was bawling. Which started Gazzy crying. Which started me wondering. Why had we so forcefully pushed Max away? I guess we were all scared. We'd been betrayed before, by Jeb. There'd been a Max II—she could have come back. And Fang…maybe he was blinded by how much he cared for her. Scratch that. For sure he was blinded by how much he cared for her. I mean, I'm blind. But damn is that boy blind. The point is…Fang's a mess when Max is gone. Always has been. So he was naturally completely insane when it came to her. Unlike the rest of us, who maintained the precious ability to look past our love for our dear leader and be scared shitless by her almost ripping our throats out.

"Iggy!" Snapping out of my thoughts, I turned to the sound of Angel's voice.

"Max tracked us." I tilted my head a bit.


"She's here."