This one is from Max's POV, taking place where the last chapter left off. Obviously. Well, I hope that you enjoy it!
This was who my Dad had sent me to face? Five kids who were just like me? Five kids who had wings? It occurred to me that they weren't just like me – they were those five who had escaped, even though I'd never seen any of them for more than a fleeting second, I knew. There was no other explanation. They were experiments, though, and I was an assassin- trained to take them down. That was the mission I had been given.
Then why did I hesitate?
On my worst day, I can handle five Erasers, without a problem; and Erasers are tough cookies. Try taking down one of them, but don't expect me to come crying at your funeral. Seriously, chica¸ don't waste your time- take it from me, they're tough. Simply put, five against one isn't a problem for me. That is, five hulking wolf men aren't an issue.
Five mutant bird kids with wings?
The magic eight ball says: Please ask again later. Your answer seems foggy at the moment.
Each of them were an equal match for me in strength alone: they were the same as me they had to have been made in the school, because there aren't that many bird kid machines around. And, as they advanced, I could see someone had trained them, trained them well. Not as well as me, but they had some skills. I refused to allow myself to think Dad had known who I'd be facing- if he'd known, he'd have known there was no way that I could beat them. It just wasn't something in the realm of possibilities.
But that wasn't why I hesitated. I'd faced fights I wasn't able to win before – I always tried, even if I failed. Which, to be honest, was rare.
There were five of them- two males around my age, three younger- two female, one male. Five, just like the number of experiments that had escaped. I remembered small snippets about them, my head going through the details quick as lightning: made at the same time as me, the same batch of experiments as me. I'd only been told small details, and only when I begged and pleaded with my father when I was younger. They were like me. I had wanted to know. As I'd grown older, I'd grown distanced- they were experiments. Just because they had wings didn't make that different.
I probably could have taken out the two youngest without a problem, but it was the light issue of the older three to deal with. One of the oldest had dark hair, and, before I could even blink, he was the one who tackled me to the ground.
"Her hands!" The thing on me grunted as I struggled and kicked. He'd pinned my wings- freeing myself from this position was impossible now. Protect your wings. That's what I'd always been taught. "Her. Hands. Tie. Her. Hands."
"I'm not seeing where you're pointing." Another voice, most likely belonging to the second oldest male, said. "With what?"
"Uh- Gazzy's belt." There was a sound, then the fabric feel of a belt around my wrists, behind my back. The way he'd tied them effectively pinned my wings with my shoulders.
"Now," The dark one's voice said, and he moved from pinning me down, knowing I was incapable of going anywhere. "Why are you here?"
Spitting out dirt, I rolled onto my back and squinted up at him. Sun bounded off of his dark wings, turning them nearly purple. The others stood slightly behind him and to his sides, dirty faces angered but victorious. I lifted my upper lip and snarled; I knew there was defiance in my eyes.
"An answer would be nice." He spat, glowering down at me as he towered over me, his chin raised.
"So would a mocha latte, but nobody ever gets what they want in this world, buddy." I said, inwardly gloating at my own response.
"Come on, you remember her!" The young blond male said. "She's Max. She's an assassin." They were those kids then, there was no more doubt in my mind.
The youngest, the blond female, calmly said "He remembers, Gazzy. She came to kill us."
I sneered, but I had to hand it to her – the kid was creepy. "What're you, a mind reader?"
Without smiling, or even blinking, she answered me. "Yes." I barely had time to process the new piece of information – I hadn't known there was a mind-reader among the five that had escaped, but then again, I hadn't known much about them at all. Before I could even blink, the dark, obnoxious one – Fang- was speaking again.
"Alright, Maximum." I pretended not to be surprised at how nonchalantly he said the words. I'd just attacked him and he was acting as if it were no big deal. I sensed something in him, though – something fierce, something protective. This kid wouldn't go down without a fight. Not that I'd given him much of a fight. "Your way then."
"You're letting me go so I can kick your scrawny asses to next Tuesday?" I asked, tilting my head to one side. Blood trickled out of a gash on my cheek that I hadn't previously noticed.
Fang didn't react. "You're coming with us. Our new houseguest. We'll get out answers." In one sudden movement, he'd hoisted me to a standing position, hand clamped on my shoulder. Trying not to seem unsteady, I sneered as the wind gathered my hair and tossed it behind me. There was a wildness in my eyes; I was the wild and untamed girl. He shoved me forward. "March."
And that was when remembered.
Remembered him – only him, though I'd seen the rest of them sometime in my life. I remembered briefly their faces, though they'd be younger. They'd been trivial until they escaped, intriguing because they were like me, but not. They were caged, I was the … not free, never free. Freer then them.
I'd never been truly allowed in their lab room – any time I had seen them I'd either snuck in, and that was probably where they knew me from. I'd caught glimpses of all the experiments as they were moved from room to room, sometimes heard stories about things that had gone wrong, eavesdropped on conversations. None were important, most died, and I'd forget them.
But not him. Never him.
Not Defiance, as I'd called him, because every step he took as he'd walked to the lab, led by white coats, was full of it, full of defiance.
He'd been the only one I'd ever named – don't get attached because they'll die someday, and ignore the pressing fact that you're just like them and are going to expire too – and I'd named him because I loved him. Not loved him, but loved what he symbolized. Defiance. He'd been the only one, and I was the young assassin who couldn't help but wonder why. Wonder why he looked like that, wonder why he defied. Why he wasn't like the others. And then he'd simply vanished, gone away like so many of them do. Died, I thought, but now I knew better- he was among the living, among the escaped.
And now I was among the captive, a hostage.
"Hey man," One, the pale one, said. We'd begun to walk, me, dazed, towards the house. I was unable to escape, nearly losing balance just walking. "We're really going to keep her in our house? An assassin?"
"No other choice." De… Fang said.
"I don't like it." The oldest girl, who looked about eleven and had skin the color of coffee, said. "She'll kill us, as soon as we turn our backs."
"She won't." The youngest one said, smiling at me. "She wants answers too."
"You don't know that!" The older girl said, frantically waving her arms. "She's a killer. Maybe … maybe she killed Jeb, too!" There was fire in her eyes, pure hatred.
I stopped, dead, in my tracks. "You little fool, you liar." I spat. My Dad was far from dead, and I'd never, ever, done such a thing. "You shut up, you shut up right-"
"You did, didn't you?!"
"Enough. She didn't." Defi… Fang said, and he was looking at me with the most peculiar expression. Realization hit me like a bucket of cold water.
It was all in the time frame. Four years ago, these four had vanished – the same day my father had gone on a business trip.
"Because he's not dead." I shook my head, confirming the simple truth. We were caught in a moment of sudden, complete understanding, and I hated it. Hated to be on any level with the enemy. Because that's what he was, if he was taking me hostage, if I'd been sent on a mission to kill him. That's what he had to be. "Because he sent you on this mission."
Another nod from me.
"I don't get it!" The youngest boy said. "Jeb died two years ago." His voice wavered. Two years ago, when he'd reappeared to the School. "He rescued us and then died. So why would he send her to kill us?"
Yes, Father? Why. Why send me to kill the ones you'd rescued. Suffocating betrayal slammed into me. He'd used me. He'd used them.
"Because," said Fang. "We've been betrayed."