If I thought the outside of the mansion was plush, the inside blew my mind completely. There were beautiful paintings and statues placed throughout the rooms along with expensive-looking furniture that looked incredibly inviting (years of sleeping in trees will do that to you). There were countless doors and hallways and I wondered how any of the students milling in the hallways knew how to get around.

And speaking of the students, I'd never, ever seen such a...well, such a different crowd of people. It's not that they looked any different from your average person, but they gave off a different kind of vibe. They seemed almost like a different kind of human. It was the first time in my life that I ever felt normal, like the huge wings on my back didn't distinguish me from them at all.

I caught a few of them staring in our direction and giving us weird looks. That's nice.

Despite the weirdness of all the students it wasn't hard to see that there were some of them who came from money. You could see it in their clothes and the way they held themselves. I hoped we wouldn't have to deal with any snobby rich kids. I hate those.

"Hurry up," Logan said gruffly, and I realized that I'd been lingering in the hallway while everyone else had filed into an elevator. He pressed a button and we shot up, coming to an abrupt stop on the third floor. The elevator opened right into an office. There was a man sitting behind the desk. He looked up when we came in and smiled, and immediately I knew that wherever this man was, we would be safe.

"Welcome," he said warmly. "I'm Professor Xavier, and I want you to know that you are all welcome here." He made direct eye contact with me. "You are Max, I presume."

I startled when my eyes locked with his. It was almost like I could feel him probing my mind. "Uh, yeah," I mumbled. Logan elbowed me. "I mean, yes sir. Thank you."

"But I saw six of you at the museum. Where, may I ask, is..." Here he stopped and closed his eyes for a moment. "...Fang?"

"He..." I hesitated.

"He's being a butthead," Angel finished helpfully. "He didn't want to come. He thought a place like this would be dangerous."

Xavier smiled again, but I noticed that this time his eyes looked worried. Immediately a warning bell went off in my head.

"Then we'll have to find him and reassure him, won't we?" he said to Angel, who smiled brightly back at him. "Now, if you all don't mind, I need to talk to Max in private for a moment."

I felt Iggy bristle next to me. Xavier turned to him. "I didn't think you'd like that. However, it's important that I have all of your trust. I would never do anything to hurt any of you. Whether or not you want to stay here is completely up to you."

"I know, but...well, we've been betrayed before," Nudge said quietly.

Xavier's eyes darkened. "I know," he said. "And you need never worry about being betrayed again, by any staff at this school. Now if you'll excuse us just for a moment."

I nodded to them. "It's fine," I said.

Xavier turned to them. "If you go down to level 1 and turn left down the hallway you'll end up in the kitchen," he said. "You may help yourselves. Logan, please stay."

After the Flock had left, Xavier folded his hands. "Now Max," he said. "What do you know about the Brotherhood?"


"You won't like hearing this," he said. "But I have reason to believe that Fang is in danger."

Immediately every muscle in my body tensed. "What?" I said sharply. "What do you know about Fang that you haven't told me?"

He made a strange movement then and it was at that moment that I realized he was in a wheelchair. He wheeled out from behind his desk and approached me.

"Max, you must not act irrationally when I tell you what I've learned. But I have the means to touch on the minds of every mutant in the world. And I believe that the Brotherhood has abducted your friend."

I woke up with a throbbing pain in my temples and a rage that I'd never felt before in my body. I was sitting in a weird metal chair with my wrists and ankles strapped to its arms and legs. I was in a weird-looking room; it was dark and cold.

"He's awake!" I heard someone yell. Then suddenly a figure hopped into my line of vision. "Hello bird-boy. Did you have a nice nappy-nap?" It was the guy who'd been driving the van. His skin looked especially green and disgusting up-close and his breath made me gag. His face was probably two inches away from mine.

"Get away from me!" I said, trying to lunge at him but held firmly in place by the straps.

He backed off a little. "Haha," he said, smiling. "You can't touch me." Then he made a weird sound in the back of his throat and spit a green slime into my eyes.

"Ugh!" My eyes burned; I was blinded. I heard the weird guy chuckling in my ear.

"Enough, Toad!" a man's voice commanded. The green slime was wiped off and I blinked, trying to hold back the tears that came automatically from my stinging eyes. "Is that any way to treat a guest?"

"Guest?" I said, my voice hoarse with rage. I looked up at the man's face; he was old, and his hair was grey. His eyes were steel-blue.

"Welcome, Fang," he said, smiling coldly. "My name is Magneto, and I have a proposition for you."