H2O: Just Add Maximum Ride

I looked at the large building in front of us, the last lights in office windows diminishing as the cleaning crew finished up. Soon several people could be seen making their way from the building, their talking and laughter breaking the silence of night.

Their normal conversation, from their normal lives. I sighed. Sometimes I wished I were just a normal person, with nothing more to worry about than friends, parties, and Fang.

I stole a glance at Fang, his dark form blending into the night as it always seemed to do, wherever he was.

I felt eyes on me and saw Angel lying on one side of Fang, smiling knowingly.

I felt my face flush. What was worse than your own personal mind reader listening to everything you thought?

A mind reader who never would tell Fang everything you thought about him, Angel's voice said in my head.

Okay, so now I should be thrilled to have a mind reader in my head?

Angel smiled her angelic smile at me.

I turned back to the business at hand, looking at the parking lot as the last car left, cruising past the bright Itex sign by the exit.

It had taken long enough to find out the location of another Itex branch that had any useful information, but Voices in your head were helpful on occasion.

A very rare occasion.

But still, here we were. I didn't know why my Voice felt the need to help out. It certainly wasn't out of any sympathy toward me.

But whatever the reason, I had the location and the information to get inside.

I looked at my flock. They were flat on their stomachs, wearing dark clothes, and generally ready for a night invasion. They were ready to go, and if evil scientists followed semi-normal schedules, there was no one in the building.

Of course, with my past, the building would probably be crawling with some sort of evil menace bent on destroying me and my flock.

Come on, Max, Angel's voice said, Stop being so negative!

Okay, so I wasn't helping flock morale any with my musings.

I took a deep breath. It was time to go.

I nodded to Fang and we stood up, the rest of the flock following our lead.

I looked down again at the Itex laboratory in front of us as I tipped forward and fell off the edge of the building roof, on which we had been waiting for the last three hours.

I plummeted toward the ground at a dizzying rate, covering an easy thirty feet before I unfurled my wings and jerked upward slightly from the air resistance.

I shook my hair out behind me and grinned. Whether we were about to invade a laboratory by one of the leading corporations in the world on a potentially life-threatening mission or not, nothing compared to the joy of flying.

Fang soared up beside me and his barely visible smile made it clear that he enjoyed flying as much as I did.

Or he just likes the way you look when you're flying.

Angel, I thought, Be quiet, you're wrecking the moment.

You mean you don't want him to like the way you fly? Angel asked.

I felt my facial coloring redden a shade, This is no time to be talking like this, Angel.

As we neared the Itex building I soared upward to regain the height I had lost while gliding before making a soft running landing on the roof.

Fang landed beside me while the rest of the flock stayed in the air. We quickly covered the roof and, seeing no security breaches, motioned the rest of the flock down.

We stood in silence as Iggy pulled out his tools and went to work on the lock on the door to the stairs leading into the building. The only sound was metal on metal as Iggy's fingers worked the lock.

Finally the lock gave a click and the door slid open. I slipped through it and ran silently down the stairs. From the occasional scuffing or squeaking of a shoe on polished floor I knew my flock was right behind me.

After counting six floors I stopped and Iggy ran into my back.

"Don't be so quiet," he muttered.

Fang shushed him, but I could tell he was smirking.

I ignored them and turned into a hallway with white painted walls and the smells of everything anesthetic and medical cleanliness hit us from every direction. I nearly gagged but tried to hold it in, despite the rather pleasant thought of what the whitecoats' faces would look like if they came to work in the morning and saw barf all over their precious equipment.

I shook my head to clear it and looked for the door to the technical room.


Read a sign on a door. That could be what I was looking for. It was nice of these whitecoats to label the doors as if they knew we'd be coming in here.

I pointed to the sign on the door and walked to it, looking inside through a very helpfully positioned window. Nobody in sight.

I motioned Nudge forward and pointed to the door handle. She nodded in comprehension and put her hand to it lightly. She gave a little jerk but made no noise. After a moment she stumbled backward and moved her mouth silently:

"All clear."

I noticed she was sweating with the thoughts of these evil scientists and was about to comfort her, but Angel moved forward to comfort her and I reluctantly turned back to the task at hand, knowing that Angel could make Nudge feel better. I grasped the door handle and delicately turned it.

It was unlocked.

I slowly opened the door and slipped inside, the rest of my flock following me. I turned to Nudge, hesitant to ask for her help again, but she looked okay and Angel walked with her over to a computer as she ran her fingers over the keyboard, eyes closed. She typed seemingly random keys for a moment before the computer screen came to life and displayed a welcome message with a list of options.

Nudge clicked on a folder icon and a list of files appeared. She looked at me inquisitively; I was the one who knew what we were looking for.

I scanned the list of files until I saw one labeled "List of Successful Experiments". I pointed to it and Nudge clicked on it. I looked and, satisfied, pointed to the print button.

As the pages came off the printer, I picked them up and quickly them read over. It was a list of all the experiments that had made it past infancy from the School. Most of them were dead.

Most of the way down the list I stopped. My Voice was right!

"What is it Max?" Fang was suddenly at my side.

My mouth moved but nothing came out.

"Max?" Fang repeated, alarm raising his voice slightly.

All this time, we were alone.

"Max, what's wrong?" Gazzy asked.

All this time, we were the only ones alive.

"Max, are you okay?" Iggy asked, his brow furrowed as he tried to get the mood without visual.

But now...now...

Angel looked up at me, wide-eyed, "There are more," she whispered.

"More what?" Nudge asked.

"There are more of us," I said, finally finding my voice, "There are more mutants."