Maximum Ride: The Guardian Experiment.

Summary:

What would have happened if Jeb had only busted Max and Fang out of The School? How would TAE have been different? Would the two of them have been able to live happily, or would the erasers of caught up with them eventually? Minor Fax, more as the story progresses. Flock comes in later. Pieces, such as the dream in chapter one, will be out of the original books- they will simply be slightly edited, the rest is all mine.


Notes:

Okay, so I've had this in the works for quite some time now, and I know that a few of you -- at least -- have been expecting it. If you happen to have just stumbled upon it, let me know what you think, alright? Okay, so I know I said that I wasn't going to post it until it's finished, but then I suddenly realised that there was no point in even finishing it if no-one was going to read it, you know? So here's the first chapter. Want to read some more? Let me know! I'll work on the rest, and post them on up if I get a good response for this chapter. This does mean that theres' going to be a slight delay between this chapter and the next one, but hopefully not too long!

It's really important that you let me know if you want more, because if there's not enough response then I'll cancel the story, and concentrate on my own novel, instead (like any sane person would to begin with)!

Just a short one to start with.

Thanks in advance, Nixxie x


Chapter One- Just Another Day

'Run! come on, run! You know you can do it!'

I gulped deep lungfuls of air. My brain was on hyperdrive; I was racing for my life. My one goal was to escape- nothing else mattered.

My arms being scratched to ribbons from a briar that I'd run through? No biggie. My bare feet hitting every sharp rock, rough root and pointed stick? Not a problem. My lungs burning with a need for air? I could deal. As long as I put as much distance as possible between me and the Erasers.

Yeah. Erasers, mutants: half-men, half-wolf, usually armed, and always bloodthirsty. Right now, they were after me.

See? That snaps everything into perspective.

'Run. You're faster than they are- you can outrun anyone!' My mental coaching wasn't really helping- I'd never been this far away before. I was totally lost. Still, my arms pumped by my sides, my feet crashed though the underbrush and my eyes scanned anxiously in the half-light of the forest. I could outrun them. I could find a clearly with enough space for me to—

'Oh, no. Oh, no.' The unearthly baying of bloodhounds on the scent wailed through the trees and I felt sick. I could outrun men- I was built to- but there was no way that I could outrun a big dog; not even Fang could do that, and he'd long since proven that he was faster than I was.

'Dogs, dogs, go away- let me live another day.' They were getting closer. The light was getting brighter in front of me- a clearing? Please, please let it be a clearing. A clearing could save me.

I burst through the trees, chest heaving, and a thin sheen of cold sweat on my skin.

'Yes!' I thought, and then, when reality caught up to me, 'No! Oh, no!" I skidded to a halt, my arms waving as my feet back-pedalled in the rocky dirt. I'd been wrong. It wasn't a clearing, in fact, the space before me was a cliff; a sheared face of rock that dropped to an unseeable floor hundreds of feet below. In back of me, the woods were riddled with drooling, baying bloodhounds, and psycho Erasers with guns, and every intention of using them.

Both options stank.

The dogs were yelping excitedly now, they'd found their prey: me.

There was no choice, really- if you were me, you'd have done the same thing. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and dived off the cliff face- arms spread and face to the sky.

Behind me the Erasers were screamed angrily, and the dogs baying had become hysterical. For a second, there was peace- the wind on my face, the sun on my back, and the knowledge that they couldn't reach me now.

Then, taking another deep breath, I opened my wings as hard and fast as I could. Thirteen-feet across and white, with tan, mottled brown and black patches and speckles, they caught the air, and I was suddenly yanked upwards- hard, as if a parachute had just opened.

'Note to self:' I thought, feeling the dull ache and sting of my unsteady wings. 'No sudden unfurling.'

Wincing, I pushed downward with all of my strength, then upwards, and then back down again. If I'd thought falling felt good, it was nothing compared to flying- it was something that Fang and I had only dreamed of, spreading our wings and taking to the skies.

The cliff floor, draped in shadow, seemed to recede beneath me as I laughed and surged upwards- feeling the pull of my muscles, the air whistling through my secondary feathers and the breeze drying the sweat on my face.

I soared upwards; past the cliff face, past the snarling Erasers, and past the baying bloodhounds. This was what freedom felt like- I was sure of it. And then one of the Erasers raised his gun, malicious intent clear on his face as a small, red dot appeared on my nightgown.

'Not today, you jerk.' I thought, as I veered sharply west- so that the sun was in his hate-crazed eyes. 'I'm not going to die today.'


I jolted upright in bed, gasping, and unable to help but glance down at my bed shirt- there was no red laser dot there, and I fell back on my bed as relief filled me. There was a long moment as I simply lay there, gasping for breath and trying to slow the erratic beating of my heart.

God, I hated that nightmare. Every time it was the same: the same woods, the same nightgown that I would never wear, the same eraser that pointed his gun right at my chest. Finally, I managed to collect myself, and glanced over to where Fang was usually asleep. His bed was empty, and neatly made- I knew that if it was up to him, then our room would have been so messy that we'd have been unable to see the floor, but since Jeb had disappeared, I'd taken over leadership duties, and Fang had gone out of his way to follow my command.

Jeb. God, even thinking about him hurt. He'd been the whitecoat that had busted out of the despicable place that we'd been imprisoned in for the first ten years of our lives. He'd saved us, and then, two years ago, he'd disappeared. For a while, Fang and I had kidded ourselves into believing that he would come back- he never had, and we'd had to come to realise that he was dead.

He'd always said that death was the only thing that would keep him from the two of us, and it was the only logical explanation for his disappearance. But, oh, God, it hurt. He'd raised us like we were his own kids, and he'd been the only father-like figure that we'd even known. He'd taught us everything that he knew, and he'd paid the ultimate price for it.

His life.

Sighing, I stood up and headed out into the long corridor. The house itself held five bedrooms, one of which was deemed out of bounds- it was Jeb's old room. Three of them were used mainly for storage purposes, and Fang and I shared the last one. Jeb had offered to give us our own rooms, and seemed reluctant to allow us to share when we insisted.

Truth was, Fang and I had been in the same holding room at The School for as long as I could remember, and I wasn't sure that I could sleep without him there. He felt the same, and both of us had ignored how Jeb had made it clear that it wasn't normal for two fifteen-year-olds who were completely unrelated to share a room. He didn't seem to understand, in situations like that, that we weren't exactly normal, either.

Besides from the bedroom that we shared, the only other rooms in the house that were regularly used were the two bathrooms- one on either side of our room- the lounge, and the kitchen. The TV was playing in the longue, but my Fang-o-meter was insisting that he was in the kitchen, so I headed that way instead.

It was early, and he hadn't bothered to turn the light on, so the kitchen was dark. With his dark hair, dark eyes, lightly tanned skin and his black wings slightly unfurled, a human coming into the kitchen wouldn't have seen him at all. My heightened eyesight, and amazing night vision, allowed me to recognise that he was sat in his usual chair, eating a bowl of cereal as silently as he did everything else.

Wordlessly, I headed over to the cupboard above the sink and grabbed a bowl and two glasses before making myself a bowl of cereal- officially emptying the house of food- and pouring a glass of orange juice for the both of us. Once content with my bland breakfast, I slipped into my normal chair, at the far left hand side of the table, opposite Fang, and began to eat- surprised to find that I wasn't particularly hungry.

Being a bird-kid, I needed a lot of calories, so that in itself was a miracle.

I felt Fang studying me as he took a long drink from his juice, but I kept my head down- letting my dirty blonde hair fall down so that it covered most of my face.

"The Nightmare again?" He asked, after a long moment. I nodded slightly.

"I don't understand why I keep having it- or why it feels so real." I muttered pushing the cereal around in my bowl, before pushing said bowl over to Fang. He glanced between me and the bowl.

"I'm not hungry, so you can have my share. And don't even try and tell me you're not hungry, you could of happily filled your bowl to the brim to start with, you shouldn't have left some for me. We need to go shopping, anyways."

"In which case, you're going to need your energy." He reasoned, pushing the bowl back to me. I simply shook my head and pushed the bowl back to him.

"Forget it. I'm going to take a shower- we're leaving in half an hour." I said, standing and heading out.

"Max-" Fang called after me, but I ignored him, and headed into the bathroom regardless.


Exactly half an hour later, Fang and I headed out of the door. Shopping was something that we both hated, so we left it as long as we possibly could- unfortunately, that meant that when we did go, we had to re-stock the entire house, so we were both wearing backpacks that, as of yet, only contained our windbreakers.

The revelation that we needed to go clothes shopping wasn't exactly as surprising as frustrating, and the shopping trip soon became an overnight venture into civilisation, something that was both displeasing and necessary. Thankfully, the town closest to our little E-shaped house had a little motel, and enough shops to satisfy all of our needs, so the trip wasn't any longer.

We had a plan that we always stuck to on trips like this. We set out early on the morning of day one (which, in this instance, was today) and spent the morning flying for town. Upon reaching the town, we grabbed a bite to eat, and then booked our hotel room. The afternoon and evening of day one was spent shopping for clothes. We then took all of the shopping back to the motel, and spent the night there.

The entirety of Day two was spent shopping for everything else, and we always returned to the motel room to pick up our stuff and check out at seven O'clock- meaning that we were back home by midnight to one in the morning at the latest.

It was a routine that Jeb had taught us, and one that had stuck- we'd never deemed it necessary to change it.

"How long have we been flying for?" Fang asked, he was soaring above and slightly in front of me- I knew that he was trying his best to keep most of the December wind off me, and was both slightly annoyed and grateful. I mentioned neither feeling, and instead, consulted my watch.

"About four and a bit hours- we should be there in half an hour or so." I answered after quickly doing the math in my head. The flight there was always shorter than the flight back, simply because on the way back we were so heavily weighted down.

I used the half hour to mentally assess how much money we had left. Fang and I both had anywhere between a thousand to three thousand dollars on us each, but since both of us ate, on average, four times the normal amount as normal people, at least $1600 of that would be spent on groceries tomorrow- and would last us maybe a little longer than a month.

I quickly counted up my money, and saw Fang do the same out of the corner of my eye- I had two-thousand and five hundred, and Fang announced that he had a nicely rounded three-thousand. I did the math in my head, and figured out that we would have roughly $3900 to spend on the motel room, meals and clothes- which wasn't a bad sum, when it came down to it.

Besides, if the prices for the motel were the same, then that would only cost 150 dollars, which still left us with $3750. If we budgeted to $1000 dollars max on new clothes (including shoes and jackets) then we'd still have $2750 spare money-minus however much our meals cost- until we next raided the still-nearly-full-to-the-brim locker where Jeb had kept all his money. How he'd earnt so much, I wasn't sure, but we were making it last as long as we could.

We were in deep trouble when the money ran out.

Finally, with the mental maths out of the way- thank God for our high IQs- the town came into sight, and I spotted the familiar alley behind the all-you-can-eat buffet, and we touched down. It took us only a few minutes to remove our windbreakers from our bags and slip them on to cover our wings, before the two of us headed inside.

Thankfully, the queue was fairly small, and they had extra staff on hand, so Fang and I were seated and eating quickly- although my paranoia made the whole experience a bit more agitating than it should have been, and constant three-sixties interrupted my eating a little. We ate quickly, and found ourselves in our motel room within the hour. We dumped our backpacks, and some of the money- in well hidden places, of course- there, and headed out for the first, and worst, chore of the trip.

Clothes shopping.

The clothes shops were clearly the most well-off shops for miles around, with a constant stream of customers that made me either want to scream, or hit someone. Fang seemed to sense my mood, and stuck nearby, keeping a reassuring hand on my shoulder as we searched ruthlessly for clothes.

By the end of the day I had: four new t-shirts, two new bras, two new packs of underwear, three new tank tops, two new hoodies, two new windbreakers, three new pairs of jeans, a new pair of combat boots and a new backpack (since my old one was practically falling apart). Fang had- with the noted exception of the bras and tank tops- virtually the same as me, but in black, of course.

We also ended up buying new toothbrushes, deodorant, toothpaste and hairbrushes- all of the stuff that we never seemed to remember, and with sore feet and aching arms from carrying the bags, we headed back to the motel to drop everything off.

Dinner was an easy enough obstacle to tackle, and we simply called in for room service- which, according to the bed-side menu, delivered with a smile- and ate until we were stuffed before finally retiring to bed with full bellies, and shopping bags full of new clothes.

For the first time in weeks, I slept without a nightmare.