Dedication: Okay, so it's my turn to dedicate! This chapter is dedicated to Snowy, JinJin, Pandora and Oedipuss.
Disclaimer: We, that is to say, Paws and Blackie, do not own Maximum Ride.
Okay, so, Hello everyone! This is Blackie writing this intro. I have a few things to say first and they are important, so please read. Firstly, this is a joint story. It was written by both Paws and Blackie, not just one. Secondly, the beginning has been changed by me, as when I copied it down, I lost the beginning so I've had to write what I could remember. Sorry! Okay, so, please enjoy!
By Blackie and Paws
"Snarrf..Snarrf….Rarrc…Zaazz" I groaned, and rolled over. My flock seriously could do with some lessons in not snoring. It turned out that it was just Nudge.
"Nudge, Shut UP!"
"What for?" she growled sleepily.
"You're snoring!" I said angrily.
"No, I'm not!"
"Yes, you are!" I didn't normally press matters like this, but she was really annoying me.
"Whatever," she said and closed her eyes again.
I was on first watch. We were in… I don't know, Australia, was it? And had camped for the night in a forest. I glanced around at my flock. Iggy was asleep in a corner, up against the trunk of a tree. Angel and Gazzy was lying together, Gazzy's wings serving as blankets for both of them, Angel's hand trustingly in her big brother's. I glanced at Fang. He rolled over onto his side, winced and sat up.
"You okay?" I asked.
"Yeah, he said, smiling bravely up at me, "just rolled over a stone. I'll be fine."
"Oh. Okay." He laid back down. I grinned. Hang on- Fang? Smiling? Bravely? Huh? Fang, the I-won't-talk-and-you-can't-make-me guy? Something weird was going on, but it was probably just a mutant bird kid phase. I yawned. I couldn't help it- I was tired, okay? Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something red. I got up, and crept over.
A pool of red liquid was hidden from the other's view, and lying in the puddle of blood was- no. No, it couldn't be.
But… I had just spoken to Fang! I had just seen him lie down to sleep!
The Fang in the pool had a long cut, reaching down his arm. His ebony wings were drenched from the puddle. What was going on? Was he okay? Could just rolling over a stone have caused that? Could he have got a new power and teleported over here? If so, he had been very quick.
I raced back to the clearing. What? That was definitely a Fang cough. I would recognise it anywhere. So - what? I stood up and wandered whether to leave Fang. I had to find out what was happening. I ran back to the clearing and sure enough, Fang was asleep on a clump of grass. What the-?
I had no idea what was going on, and I didn't like it one bit.
Which one was Fang? Was either of them Fang? Was Fang really somewhere else entirely? Was that Nudge even the real Nudge? She had seemed a bit snappish...
Nooooo! I felt myself shaking. I was getting really terrified now. Was this Earth? What if I was in a parallel world? What if-? No, no, no. Calm down. Remember what Jeb told you. Never panic. Think straight and act fast. Right. Two Fangs. Both weird. One Fang lying in a pool of blood from a tiny cut and one Fang smiling. One of them must be Fang but not both of them. Well, logically, the Fang in the pool of blood would be the weirdest one...so obviously he was a clone? Was he?
I had no idea. What if neither of them were? This whole situation was driving me crazy! I decided to go and wake smiling Fang.
He rolled over and woke up.
"Come and see this." I led him over to the pool of blood and showed it to him tentatively. He cracked a smile- not a classic Fang half smile, but a blown out, real evil smile.
"So you figured it out." He whispered. The other Fang- The one lying on the ground, suddenly woke and got up too.
"W-w-where's Fang?" I whispered.
"I'm here" They said in unison. I screamed. The Fang I'd just woken continued to smile evilly. The Fang who was drenched in blood had a double take when he saw the other Fang.
"What's going on? What happened to me? Why - Is that my twin or something? And what happened to my arm?" His eyes widened when he saw the pool of blood.
Was this a trick? Was he pretending?
"Fang!" I shouted, "On the count of three!" He tensed, ready for battle.
"One!" He didn't move.
"Two!" Still no movement.
"Three!" I shot at both of them, confident that neither was my true right wingman.
Ouch! What was up with these guys? The blood drenched Fang deflated like a balloon and the smiling Fang remained standing. He was like a rock. i rubbed my bleeding knuckles.
It hurt. Was he made of rock or something? I whipped out my wings and flew back to the camp, hoping for reinforcements. To my dismay I saw Nudge standing there with exactly the same evil smile on her face.
Nudge? Fang? Oh no. I Stepped back horrified. They were closing in on me. Then I remembered Angel and Gazzy and Iggy!
"Ange! Gaz! Ig! HELP!!! NO, RUN!!!!"
Iggy was still asleep- asleep or unconscious? Angel and Gazzy were punching the Nudge with blood on their hands and with sacred expressions on their faces.
"Guys it's no use! They're made of rock or something! RUN!!!" (Which meant run and fly of course) They did as they were told and took off, hovering and waiting as I tried to wake Iggy
"Iggy! Iggy, please wake up!" He stirred, and moved over.
"Not now, Max."
"IGGY! UP! NOW!"
"Ugh...He dragged himself out of bed. I'm so tired...sooo tired....His legs bent and he fell down again. "Iggy? Oh, Iggy, what's wrong? Look, we'll explain everything later but right now we need to fly!! RUN!!!!"
He was up in an instant, thanks to reflexes. I glanced down and saw that the clone's wings were just for show. They kept trying to take off, but nothing happened.
I couldn't stop myself from sniggering at them. I shook out my beautiful big wings and soared upwards.
The four of us flew away.
"Max?" Angel said. She sounded terrified. "Why were Nudge and Fang attacking us?"
"That wasn't them, sweetie," I said sadly.
"Has the school got them, then?" asked Gazzy. His big blue eyes, so like his sister's, stared at me worriedly. I couldn't imagine what the real Nudge and Fang were going through right now. How had the school got them? When had the school got them? And, oh God, how did I not realise?
"Well. Those ones were clones. I don't know where the real them are but I think they are at the School. We need to get there guys, now."
"Yeah," said Iggy. His voice sounded rough.
We flew east. The problem was, where was the school were they were being held prisoner?
"Well, Max. Where should we head? Which one?" Iggy looked vaguely annoyed. I struggled. "Um, you know, the one where, the, uh," I started coughing fakely and carried on flying. It didn't work. Iggy glared and said,
"You have no idea do you?"
"No!" I said, finally getting tired of him. "We're going east, and that's that!"
Nudge awoke with a low groan. She was in a cage, an uncomfortable one at that. She started to panic. "Max? Angel? GUYS?" She was alone in a room of empty dog crates.
"Woof." A little rustle and Nudge saw that there was in fact one dog, just one. He was in the dog crate nearest to her. Nudge took a deep breath and tried to calm down. She looked at the dog.
"Hello, little one. Were you captured as well?"
"Yes," said the dog. Nudge gasped in surprise. The dog TALKED?
"Are you one of those kids with the wings?" it rasped.
"Y-yes," stuttered Nudge nervously.
"That boy's with the men in white coats. They said something about testing him."
"Testing him? Oh no! What else did they say? And how come you can talk? Were you scientifically altered? You're cool. I'm kinda cool too, not that I'm showing off or anything, but don't you think so? I mean I can fly and stuff and -"
"I know. I heard. You're the one that talks too much, aren't you?"
"Hey! I don't talk too much! Oh No, what are they doing to Fang? Are the others here? Are-"
"They said about adding something to do with feline. Wondered if the feline DNA would cause the silent one to attack himself. I don't know about anyone else."
"Oh no. I've got to get out of here." Nudge wriggled forwards and tried to bust the lock. She banged her head on the ceiling of her cage and winced.
"Ugh! This thing won't open!"
"Of course it won't" snapped the dog irritably. "You honestly think I haven't tried? And soon there'll be a feline-avian thing in here and I'm a dog!"
"You think you've got it bad?" Nudge snapped back, "I don't know what they could be doing to him in there! And then they'll come for me! I don't know where my flock is! They could be dead for all I know!"
She burst into angry sobs. She cried even harder because she felt ashamed of herself, crying in front of a stranger. Everything was going wrong.
"Hey! I didn't mean it like that! I'm sorry. Look - I'll try and help you." The dog reached out a paw and tapped her hand through the bars.
"You…you will?" she sniffed.
"Yeah," said the dog sheepishly. "If I don't try and attack your friend as soon as he comes in the room, I'll try to get us out. But you've got to take me with you." His eyes became round and pleading. "Please!"
"Okay," said Nudge shakily, and suddenly her world became much brighter. Sure, she was in a cage, sure she could get seriously hurt, but she had made a friend. But then the door swung open, and her world came crashing down on her.
Three white coats walked in. They went straight over to the dog's cage and dragged him out of it. He barked, terrified. His breath rasped and he looked desperately at Nudge. Nudge shook the bars in her hands. "I'll save you!" she mouthed
"Hey, you!" she shouted angrily. "Leave him alone!"
The white coats looked at each other. "It's talking," one murmured at the other. "YES I'M TALKING!" Nudge roared. But despite everything, her friend the dog was taken out of the dimly lit room.
Nudge began to sob again. She couldn't open this cage and now she just had to take what came to her.
Just then, Fang was dragged into the room. The whitecoats looked excited, and thrust him into the large crate opposite hers. They left quickly. From her position, Nudge could see two pitch black cat ears poking out from under his dark hair.
Uh oh. "Fang what happened?
""Miaow. Change me. Cat. Hard to control new cat feeling. Miaow. Ack!"
"Fang!" Nudge shrieked. He groaned and turned to look at her. He was a mess- scratches all over him. Nudge started trembling.
"Nudge? Nudge? What am I going to do?" He sounded so vulnerable, so unlike Fang, she just sobbed.
"Oh, Fang! What are we going to do?
Just then the door burst open again. Another whitecoat walked in. He looked around; his beady little eyes swivelled evilly. He caught sight of Nudge. Aha! You're coming with me. His hands stretched forwards and Nudge squirmed as she was lifted effortlessly and dragged out of the room.
"NUDGE!" Fang yelled. To his surprise, a long, black tail whipped round. But the white coats heard his yell and before he knew it, a long needle was plunged into his arm.
"Max," came a tired little voice behind me, "can we stop?"
We had been flying without any breaks for four hours now. After that fight, Angel and Gazzy were tiring quickly.
"Ok, sweetie. We can stop." We touched down lightly in a field and Angel and Gazzy collapsed onto me. I stroked their fair hair. Poor things.
"Will Nudge be Ok?"
"I hope so," I said, sighing. I hoped she would be okay and Fang, too. They were my brother and sister. Without them the flock wasn't flock. Iggy lay down flat on his back.
"What do you thinks happening to them?" He needed no answer. Angel shivered and pressed closer to me.
"Don't worry. We'll find something to eat. We'll rest. Ad we'll find them. We'll save them. Like before. When have we ever failed?"
"Hmm..." Again, he needed no answer.
Nudge awoke back in her cage several hours later. The dog was there, asleep, as was Fang. She strained to remember what had happened.
The white coat had shrieked angrily when Fang attacked him and then...
hmm...there had been a fight...3 more whitecoats had come and then they'd fought fang off and taken her and drugged her and then...she couldn't remember anything after that. She sat up. What was that funny thing she was lying on? She twisted round to investigate. Surely that wasn't a tail? She felt her head. Oh no. Oh yes. Ears. She was a cat. But she was also a human. And a bird. Boy, was she a mutant.
"Hmm...?" He stirred sleepily, his ebony tail uncurling itself.
"I've got a tail!"
"It's a small world." He suddenly tensed. "Nudge?"
"What?" She was becoming hysterical.
Nudge turned. She fixed her gaze on him. A long hard stare.
"How should I know?" She muttered eventually.
"Miaow. Ack! Why did I just say that? Purrr. Fang - why do i keep making random noises?"
"It happens at first. I couldn't control the sounds either. I can now. Don't worry. That's the least of our problems."
"What do you mean?" She was nervous.
"How are we going to get out of here? What will we tell the flock? Oh don't worry about us, we'll just cough up a few hairballs now and then! And don't even get me started about the ears and the tails!"
"What do you mean?"
"Listen, before, we could waltz in anywhere. Just tuck in the wings and voila! Normal looking kid! Now-" he paused. Nudge slowly began to understand. Their cover was blown.
"I just- I just want out!" She looked at him helplessly.
"Out isn't an option."
"What will we do?"
"Don't ask me!"
"Ok! Calm down!"
"Don't criticise me!"
"Yes you are!"
"Keep your temper under control!"
"You're just not helping!"
"You're the one who keeps complaining!"
"You're just a silly little kid!"
Nudge screamed angrily and tried to hit him. She stared tragically at her 'claw'
"We're- we're monsters!" She started to cry helplessly.
"Nudge? Hey, Nudge! I didn't mean to make you cry, I'm sorry!"
"We're bird cat things!" She sobbed.
"We're setting a new trend," he said weakly. She gave him a watery smile.
Just then, eight whitecoats barged into the room. Four headed for Nudge's cage, while the other four headed for Fang's. Nudge let them take her- she couldn't resist. Fang fought, and scratched, but they soon overpowered him- four adults against a mutant- what chance did he have?
They dumped them in a training area. Nudge ran to Fang. He hugged her and she rubbed her head against him. His wings unfolded and wrapped around her as their tails curled together.
"Oh Fang!" She sobbed.
"Nudge" Moaned Fang softly.
"Right! You two freaks! Up and running!" One of the white coats marched forwards. He held the dreaded wand. One flick, and Fang and Nudge both new would mean mental and physical burning pain
They shivered, and got up. They started to run. Fang, being taller and older, ran quickly, but Nudge had only recently (well more recently than Fang) been given ears and a tail, so she lagged behind. They began to run. And run. And run. While whitecoats measured their energy levels, their maximum speeds, their pulse rates and breathing.
"Hmm...interesting..." You! Faster! He pointed at Nudge. Nudge stumbled as she tried to accelerate. He pointed the wand at her. Nudge screamed. White hot searing pain shot through her arms and legs and she felt as if she were splitting in half. Her brain roared and ached. "Aaaaargh!!!" Tears pricked her eye lids. Her eyes clamped shut and she bent over, clutching her head.
"Nudge!" Fang shouted, and he rushed over to her. "Oh no you don't!" snarled the white coat. He flicked the wand at Fang who gave a half whimper, half yell of pain. He sprang at the white coat only to find an eraser blocking his path.
"Well, well, well. We meet again and again and again, don't we?" Ari sneered down at him.
"You" muttered Fang in disgust. Great. He was already getting tired and the pain from the wand was getting unbearable. And he ached to see Nudge suffering so much. And, on top of all that, he was being humiliated by Ari.
"Yes, me," smirked Ari. Fang tried to move closer, but Ari had caught his hands and was not letting go. Nudges screams and laboured pants rang out in the background. Fang tried to struggle, but Ari held him in a razor sharp grip.
"It's all right. Let him go. We haven't finished measuring his sweat levels yet. Ari! You heard me." The evil Eraser let go and kicked Fang back onto the running track. He crashed into Nudge who whimpered and collapsed.
"Get up you useless freaks!" Ari sneered. Fang shakily got to his feet and carried on running.
Nudge remained on the ground.
"Up, freak, UP!"
But Nudge didn't get up. She couldn't get up. She lay still, unmoving. Fang froze. He could see from the other side of the track what was happening. He ran towards Nudge, he felt as if it was in slow motion.
"Ugh." The whitecoat pointed the wand at her. Nudge's body trembled but she didn't react. The white coat trudged over to her as if it was a huge effort and Nudge was dying on purpose.
But was she?