Disclaimer: I do not own Ca- I mean, Maximum Ride. It belongs to TS Eliot and Andrew Llo- gah! It belongs to James Patterson! (I've been sticking to the Cats fandom for waaaaay too long…) The only things I know are the things you don't recognize (unless you RP with Chui and co., of course.)

"Shh… it's okay, Chui," an eight-year-old boy whispered, stretching a hand through the bars of his cage to try reach his friend. She continued to sniffle, although she gently extended a hand of her own to touch his.

"It hurts, Choro," she whispered, looking at him with tear-filled eyes. "Everywhere hurts."

Choroa Kulungu frowned slightly, upset that he couldn't help her. The oryx hybrid was her only companion, and, as such, he felt like he was responsible for her well-being.

Chui sighed, withdrawing her hand and running it through one of the patches of her leopard-spotted fur.

"I thought that leopards were supposed to be pretty…" she said quietly, suddenly changing the subject. "But I'm not. I'm ugly."

"No you aren't," Choro argued. He was used to her random subject changes. "You're pretty, too."

"Nuh-uh." She shook her head. "The hyena part of me makes me ugly. Hyenas aren't pretty."

He frowned, faintly distorting the white patterns on his face, before opening his mouth to argue with her. He stopped when a shadow fell over them.

"Subject forty-three," the lion-like mutant growled, unlocking Chui's tiny, cramped cage. "Come with me."

The leopard-hyena girl shrunk back as far as she could, looking at him with fear-filled, mismatched eyes. The lions were their prison wardens- similar to the American Erasers, but without the wolf DNA. Every mutant knew to fear their arrival, because, when the lions came for you, it meant that you would be tested.

"Run!" a whitecoat barked harshly, flicking a riding crop at her. Chui tried not to whimper as she picked up her pace, the standard-issue treadmill whirring beneath her feet. If she stopped, she would become one of the lions' chew toys. That was what happened to anybody who didn't do exactly what the whitecoats wanted.

She finally collapsed after running for two hours.

"The poor girl," a woman's voice clucked, rubbing something cold and funny-smelling onto her wounds. Chui's ears pricked up, but she didn't open her eyes.

"Kuswela," a whitecoat, her tormentor from the treadmill exercise, snarled. "You're interfering with our data collection."

"And you're interfering with this young lady's life," the woman- Kuswela, apparently- snapped. The leopard-hyena continued to listen in, intrigued by her "healer's" foreign accent. She didn't seem to be Namibian, like everyone else in the facility…

"Listen, Kuswela, you're new here. I'll 'cut you some slack,' as the Americans say. But don't interfere with our data again, or we'll be forced to ship you back to Kenya."

Chui's eyes snapped open to meet a pair of warm, black eyes set into a smiling face.

"Kenya?" she whispered softly, before she could stop herself.

"Yes," 'Kuswela' replied, still smiling with an eerie kindness. "It's where I come from, on the other side of Africa."

The girl's eyes widened further. Someone being from across the continent was equivalent to someone being from across the universe in her eyes. She was so shocked that she didn't notice when the disgruntled whitecoat left the room.

"Why are you here?" she asked, once again unable to stop herself.

"I'm your…" The older woman paused for a moment, searching for the right word. "Mentor."

Yes, it was very short. No, I do not care. I just felt like writing this after reading a friend of mine's fic, about her own OCs, Sonic and Mikki. So I decided to do one about lovely Miss Chui, and her evolution from a semi-innocent little girl into the unfriendly semi-sociopath she is today.

It shall be multi-chapter, however! *strikes triumphant pose*DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE!

This isn't the best thing that I've ever written, but I'm still fairly pleased with it.

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