CHAPTER 1: Prologue

Max's POV:

Seven years ago. I met a kid in the park. With dark blonde hair that fell over his forehead and bright turquoise eyes, he looked absolutely perfect. The type that girls would swoon over him, a ten year old boy, as soon as he shot his "perfect" smile. His name? Dylan Gunther-Hagen.

FLASHBACK

We kept on meeting each other day after day in a secret hiding place in the bushes underneath the slide in the playground. I had promised him that I would never come over to his house, and in return, he wouldn't come to mine.

One day he fascinated me by saying how his dad was a scientist. He had noted how his dad was looking for some ancient emerald treasure. I remember my exact question, word by word, "Don't geographical explorers look for ancient treasures, not scientists?" He muttered something underneath his breath that I couldn't hear. I asked him what he said, and just replied with a smile, saying it was nothing.

That very day I learned promises can be broken and innocent smiles aren't really innocent as the one that Dylan shot me was fake. I had fallen into his trap, the fake friendship.

It happened when he followed me back to my house. I found him hiding in my garage a while later, and instead of being mad for him breaking the promise and following me, I let it slide only to know it would cause danger to my mom and I. I let him in welcomingly and show him the special treasure that held our family's special possessions and treasures including a sacred journal, old pictures of my family and I when I was younger and other possessions. What I didn't notice was how a necklace with an emerald pendant caught his eye. I carefully shut the box and kept the keys in its secret place (I didn't show where it was to Dylan). Then eye to eye, he promised me that he wouldn't tell anybody about it or touch it without my permission. He left after that.

My step-dad told me to never ever show anybody the box but I had trusted Dylan as a friend. I really never understood why my dad was so ambitious to keep the emerald necklace away from anybody.

That night, while I was asleep, I heard some ruckus coming from downstairs. I came down in my blue monkey pajamas with a flashlight in one hand and a tennis racket in the other. I looked in the living room to see if my step dad was still there. I heard the noise from the garage and I stepped inside. The garage was wide open and I saw someone run out clutching something. Not any something though. The street light was bright enough to see the glint of a green emerald. Holding the object was recognizable dark blonde hair with a gleam of the turquoise eyes, that same boy I thought and had known as my friend. I gulped and looked to my right to see a table supporting a wide open treasure chest. Keys were dangling on the side of the table about to fall, the journal on the side with its pages folded and torn (not torn out luckily).

I closed the garage and sat on the stairs of the garage. A tear dripped down my left cheek and I broke down sobbing. I then got up, realizing it was pathetic to sob about someone who had just betrayed me. I furiously wiped away my tears and I heard the garage door open to see my step father standing in the doorway. He knelt down and asked if I was okay. I smelt a faint trace of alcohol in his breath, and I froze in my tracks. He was drunk, which meant the hittings might start if he noticed the missing pendant which was in clear view with no hidden evidence. My step dad wiped a tear of me and followed my gaze. He got up slowly, walked over there and looked inside the box.

He turned around and shouted straight at me, "YOU!" He continued, "You told someone about our secret. Our secret treasure box. I should have never told you- you little piece of stupid." He muttered the last part but I could hear him. I was shaking viciously without him actually touching me. He grabbed me by my hand and dragged me all the way upstairs.

I screamed, "MO-" only to have my step dad's hand over my mouth.A cold silver blade made contact on my neck within seconds initiating a thin yet deep slice on the side of my neck. I screamed and shouted, "MOMMY!" I saw the door swung right open hitting the wall behind it.

My mom instantly rushed over scooped me up and kicked my so-called dad right in the stomach. He fell back into the bookcase. He then pulled out a pistol gun, what I least expected him to pull out. On the left of him he grabbed a bottle of alcohol and took a big swing of it, gulping down the rest of the bottle. He threw it down on the floor and instantly the million shards of glass shattered on the floor

I was so distracted by that, I looked up to see a black circle right in front of me, less than an inch away from my forehead. The black circle would be the last thing I would ever saw in my ten years of living. Underneath me, I could feel my mom's rigged and uneven breaths. I closed my eyes tightly facing my sudden death and I smelled a heavy whiff of rotting alcohol. I held my breath to not gag and then I heard the trigger.

I waited. I waited for death to approach me. I wanted to feel a piercing pain in my head, whether it's slow death or fast. I waited for it to come. But it didn't.

I just opened my eyes to see my step-dad on the floor. Except he was covered in crimson red. Crimson red blood. All over him. He shot himself in the leg. It wasn't suicidal. He was drunk so he held the gun the wrong way and pointed downwards. But he wasn't dead.

I could tell my mom had her jaw dropped open by her heavy breathing without even turning around and looking at her. Blood was gushing out. My mom quickly dialed 911 on her cellphone, grabbed a bag nearby, scooped me up and rushed out the house.

I could hear sirens in the distance, and my mom carefully set me down on the grass. In a split second, officers were gathered around us, while others rushed into the house. My mom was being questioned and had to explain her side of the story, "...I opened the door to see my husband holding my daughter and one of his hands around my daughter's neck..." I was clutching my mom's hand very tightly.

Suddenly I had a whiff of that same rotting alcohol. I turned around slowly to see my step dad on the ground partly. The officer in front pulled him from his wrists which were caught in handcuffs, and the guy in the back was holding his ankles. My step dad was a human hammock. I weakly chuckled at the sight until reality took me over as my step dad motioned to the officers to pull him over to me. They did so hesitantly. He looked me straight in the eye.

"I will get you Max. And when I do, I won't be giving you a second chance," his voice slurred, as I could tell he was drunk. The words, well he meant it. "I WILL GET YOU MAXIMUM!" he roared into my face. He tried to lunge into my face to claw it all out, but the officers pulled him away leaving me in shock. I trembled and hugged my mom closely as she saw the whole thing and hugged me back. I broke down just like I did an hour ago. I was a wreck.

I hugged my mom tighter at the thought. Her warm heat surrounded me, and I didn't want to leave her grasp. Unfortunately an officer cleared his throat, and we pulled apart, and I cuddled into her lap. I held her hand tight, looked up to her face and gave her one of my best smiles at this rough time.

"I bring unfortunate news from the station. Agents have sent me to inform on the news. For both Maximum Martinez and Valencia Martinez's safety," the officer paused, looking up from his paper and continued, "you both need to separate. We at the station, have everything set up-"

"Um, I'm sorry to interrupt, but did you say we have to separate. I'm not leaving my daughter, no matter under what circumstances. She's in danger and I want to protect-" my mom said furiously. My mom put her hands on my shoulder to guard me.

The officer interrupts saying, "That's why we need to take her away from you. There are people out there who want to get you both. By capturing one of you, the other can be in great danger also. You both will be leaving today. Maximum will be relocating to San Diego, California while Valencia will be relocated to Richmond, Virginia. Both your planes will reach in 20 minutes. Ciao, Adios, Au revoir, Goodbye. Have a safe trip." The officer walked away before my mum could open her mouth to complain again.

"What's in that backpack?" I ask my mom finally after our moments of shock. I was wondering what was in it ever since she grabbed it and came outside.

"I quickly packed all the necessities we would need. But now we're going off in our separate ways," she informed me, sniffling a bit. I could see a small tear form in her eye as she continued, "I packed two backpacks." She gave me a big smile, as she removed the two bags. She put all my clothes and special possessions of mine in one bag, and her clothes and her treasures in the other bag. She handed me my bag and I looked in. I looked through my clothes, smiled at the thought she knew me the best of what I wanted.

I saw two picture frames. One of them was when my sister, my mum, me, and my dad was at the beach. I was probably six at the time, and my younger sister was five. My dad was holding me by the stomach as I tried to escape. My mom on the left had my sister, Maya captured in her grasp. Maya had the biggest smile out of all four of us. In the side on the very left, was a lump of sand that we both called it our sandcastle.

My dad died two years ago when I was eight, while my sister was taken away at the same time my father died. My mom chose to marry that stupid git, John when she was heartbroken about my father's death. After seeing that I was unhappy with her new husband, she tried to release the marriage, but wasn't allowed to.

The second photo frame had me and my mum. This picture was taken last year at a party.

I hugged both photo frames close to my chest and set them down carefully in the bag. I looked at the other treasures my mom packed. I saw a journal. My mom called it a 'diary' but I refused to call it that. I just wrote about my life and other secret stuff.

Next I saw the treasure chest that put me through all this trouble. I take it out and push it towards my mum. My mum looks down and just stares at it. She then opens it, keeping some of the treasures, and we both split the photographs. She hands me one key and she keeps the other.

Lastly I see a necklace. It has a pair of wings as the pendant. The wings are pure white with brown speckles. Maya gave me it for my fifth birthday. Well it was my entire family who gave it to me. I put it around my neck slowly, and I feel a pair of hands touching mine in the back. I turn around slowly to see my mom helping me put it, I let her and look at it carefully. The wings open revealing a picture of Maya and I. It's mostly me because Maya is cropped out at the edges.

I close it carefully, and look at my mom again. Suddenly I hear tires breaking, and I turn around to see two cars awaiting both of us. A single tear drips down my mom's cheek, and I look confused. Then out of nowhere she wraps her arms around my body into a big bear hug. I hug her back and I start to cry too. I wipe my tears on her soft maroon shirt.

She whispers in my ear, "I love you Max. Your real father and I have chosen your destiny that we're sure you're to love. I'm sorry for everything I've done."

"You've done nothing wrong. And I forgive you from marrying the other guy. I love you too," I manage to choke out through my sobs. I sniffle as I hug my mom the tighter.

"I love you my strong Max," my mom says finally as we break apart. I also sniffle back, "I love you too."

We finally break apart and grab our bags and get into our cars, where we might never see each other.

END FLASHBACK

So this is how I am today. Oh sorry, forgot to introduce myself. I'm Maximum Martinez, if you haven't figured that out already. Max for short. Call me anything else, and you'll suffer from consequences. So what I'm doing you might ask? Well I'm not your average seventeen year old teenage girl. I won't be shopping at the mall, going to high school, chilling with some peeps lazily watching TV or something. No. But I'm your average teenage girl spy.

Coming here to the spy station was like my destiny. It was what I was meant to be, my future (I'm not saying that just because my parents put me here).

It all happened kind of accidentally. Once I was parted from my only family, my mom, I lived in the streets, trying to live of money and food I usually found on the streets. One day, I bumped into a dude named Mark. He noticed my intense reflexes as I tried to pickpocket him. Of course, I was caught.

That's how I landed here at A.I.M.E. (Agency International Mission Enforcement) where I work. It's really high-tech and modern. There, my name is Maximum Ride. Being run by the government, we help the world from preventing crimes basically.