|Summary:||Max has a vision of Iggy dying. By trying to stop it, she puts him in more danger then before. Now she's alone and doesn't know what to do.|
I don't own Maximum Ride. Just so ya know.
Any moment, everything can change, Feel the wind on your shoulder
I finally managed to get away from the Erasers and soared up to join the rest of my flock. I did an automatic head count. One, two, three, four-Four?
I counted again, more slowly, more anxious. Four? Who was missing? I glanced at Fang-he'd noticed it, too. He looked puzzled for a moment, then "Iggy!"
Only it wasn't only Fang who'd said it. Four voices came at me. As one, we circled back towards the ground, going as fast as we possibly could. I prayed that Iggy hadn't run into any more-
Erasers. They were everywhere. Dozens of them stood in the small wood clearing. I gasped when I saw Iggy, pinned under Ari. He was taking a horrible beating. Blood was already pouring onto his shirt. "Iggy!" I shouted.
Ari looked up, saw me, and pulled Iggy to his feet. Then he called to the other Erasers, "Want to have some fun with this one?" He punched Iggy in the stomach and I cringed. I could not imagine what this must be like for Iggy. To not even be able to see his enemy.
Beside me, Fang had already launched himself at the nearest Eraser. I was right behind him, trying to get as close as I could to Iggy. Behind me, Nudge had already taken another Eraser out with a spectacular kick to the jaw, and Angel and the Gasman had ganged up on another.
I managed to get to Iggy and hauled him to his feet. "Get your wings out." I muttered, then "Up and away!"
The flock took off as one, leaving the ground behind. Iggy had some trouble, and favored one wing, but he still had enough energy to take out a small bomb and throw it behind us, towards the Erasers. I didn't worry about starting a forest fire now. This was revenge.
We kept rising, and I noticed Iggy having even more trouble. "Fang!" I cried, glancing at him. His white eyes were glazed over, and he looked completely out of it.
Well, so would you if you'd just been attacked by three dozen wolf-men.
But now he was falling out of the sky. Fast. Towards the raging inferno below.
And there was nothing I could do about it.
"Iggy!" I cried, watching his body tumbling down towards the flames. I looked up at Fang. "Watch my back!" I started to dive down after the boy who had been my brother for fourteen years.
Fang held me back.
I was too surprised to even struggle.
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"Iggy's going to die!" I shouted up at Fang, so frustrated and angry and hurt that I didn't even think to struggle.
Fang looked at me blankly. "What are you talking about?"
I looked back down and couldn't believe my eyes. There was no fire. No flames. No trees. Only gently, rolling hills and a few shrubs. I looked back up at Fang, wondering if this was some type of test.
Not a test, Max. A gift. You can see the future. Stupid, stupid voice.
I looked around at the flock, who were looking at me like I was crazy. Who knows? Maybe I was. Iggy was looking the most alarmed, his face as expressive as ever, his usually handsome features screwed up in the concentration to pick up every word-every sound.
"Iggy's going to die?" the Gasman, who had always been the closest to Iggy, looked scared and confused.
Welcome to the club.
I picked my words carefully. "Apparently, I can see the future now." Looks of various degrees of alarm showed on every one of the flock's faces. I could hear Total gulp from under me, where I was carrying him.
"But no, Gazzy, Iggy's not going to die. Nobody's going to die. Not if I can help it." I balled my fists at my sides, blinking hurriedly so the tears that dangerously close to falling would stop in their tracks.
I saw Fang give me a look, but I ignored him. I swept over to Iggy. "Ig, are you making any bombs? Small ones, like rocks?" I touched Iggy's shoulder.
Iggy nodded and reached into his pocket, staring straight ahead with unseeing eyes. He pulled out a small brown object.
The Gasman, who was above us, glanced down. "Wrong one, Ig." He said kindly. "That's a rock."
Iggy flushed, muttering. "I don't know why we had to make them feel the same." He reached into his other pocket and withdrew an almost identical object. He held it up to Gazzy for confirmation, and Gasman nodded.
I took the object from him. I was so relieved-so certain that this would make things right-that I couldn't help teasing him. "Why do you carry rocks in you pockets?"
Iggy pushed me away from him.
I straightened up and flew back to the front of our small formation. It was getting dark, and we'd been flying for three hours. We needed to refuel.
Beneath me, I spotted the beginnings of a large forest. Two minutes later, I sighted a clearing ahead. "Okay, guys, get ready to land." I shouted, fingering the small bomb.
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I put everyone to work as soon as we landed. It was dangerously close to sunset, and soon, we'd have no light to work with at all. "Okay, Fang and Nudge, firewood. Angel and Gasman, food. Iggy, start a fire. Total, try to find water."
My flock scattered in different directions. I sat down, rubbing my head, which had started hurting again. A mild brain explosion that made me want to rip my brain out. I looked over at Iggy who was crouched over a pile of leaves and bark, trying to coax a fire out of it. I frowned, still disturbed by what I'd seen.
It had been so vivid. I don't know if I mentioned that before, but it was true. I was so sure that we were under attack. I remember everything so clearly. I couldn't put it out of my mind. Seeing Iggy alive made me so indescribably happy. What kind of life do I have that seeing my friends alive made me happy?
The rest of the flock eventually returned. Angel and the Gasman had managed to hunt down and kill seven small rabbits. For us, that meant they were eaten in two seconds flat and everyone was still hungry. But something's better then nothing, right?
I sat back down after I ate, watching everyone. Angel was playing with Total, letting him lick her. It was hard to imagine that that sweet little girl may have taken over the mind of the leader of the free world.
Nudge was showing an animal to Iggy and the Gasman. They were taking turns describing it in low voices for Iggy's benefit. I watched him slowly put out a hand, and a smile played around his lips as the animal licked him.
My throat closed up just watching them. I had already lost Iggy once. I wasn't going to let that happen again.
Later, while everyone was down for the night, I noticed Fang picking his way through the maze of bodies towards me. He knelt next to me. "What's wrong?"
I sighed. It was a big question. "I had another headache earlier. Probably something to do with my being able to see the future now."
Fang stretched. "Yeah, about that, how do you know?"
I sighed again. It was becoming a habit of mine. I knew that Fang was looking for loopholes-confirmation that this wasn't going to happen. But I couldn't give that to him. "I just know it. My Voice said so, too."
Fang leaned back next to me. He rubbed his eyes. "Do you think we can stop it from happening?"
I shrugged. I really didn't know. "I have no idea. But I'm going to do everything I can to make sure this doesn't come true. I just hope that maybe, this seeing the future thing could help us."
Fang nodded, and I knew he understood. I watched him pick his way back through the maze of bodies. Watched him throw one arm over Nudge and the other over Iggy.
I smiled and lay down. I was tired beyond belief. I through an arm over Angel's shoulders. She was holding her brother's hand and clutching Total to her. I through my other arm over Iggy and promptly fell asleep.
And I'm sure that if anyone could have seen us, they would have seen the circle we made subconsciously. Our need to be near each other was as great as our fear of strangers. Being able to touch everyone else at night was as expected as stacking our fists. It was one of our ways to bond.
I hoped that that bond would never be broken.
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Those without brains fight- Lost in Space
I woke up, blearily rubbing my eyes and cursing my self for not posting a guard. I kicked Fang in the side, who kicked Nudge, who kicked Iggy, who kicked Angel, who kicked Total, who bit the Gasman, waking him up with a yelp of pain.
I smiled. Who said mutants didn't have a sense of humor?
I started coaxing a fire out of the pit that we had already formed the previous night. It wasn't a hard task, and within an hour we were roasting some berries and pieces of meat that none of us could identify over it.
Suddenly, I glanced over at Fang. He nodded, and anyone who wasn't a mutant probably wouldn't have seen the nod. But I did, and it just confirmed my suspicions.
The little hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. Never a good sign. But I didn't hear anything. I turned around, on the pretense of getting more meat, and caught a flickering shadow. That was enough for me.
We all had our packs on. We sleep with them, never letting them out of our sight. Total was sitting next to Angel, eating the bits of "breakfast" that she slipped to him. All I had to do was mouth "Up and away" and we were OUT OF THERE!
So good to be flying again. I thought, though I was vaguely disturbed at the thought of the silent Erasers I'd seen. Ah well, there was a time and a place for worrying, and this wasn't it.
I signaled that we should keep going fast for about a quarter hour before we regrouped. The younger kids and Iggy still had no idea why we were running in the first place. And guess who had to be the one to explain it to them?
"There are what?" Nudge screamed in a disbelieving tone later.
I nodded. "Yup, silent Erasers. As in totally silent. As in Iggy couldn't even hear them." I glanced over at Angel, "Did you feel anything?"
She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. "Not that that means anything. I wasn't really paying attention, or anything." She tried to assure me.
I noticed that Iggy had been oddly quiet. "'s the matter, Ig?" I asked, turned on him.
Iggy played with the cuffs of his shorts, plucking at the fabric, his sightless eyes pointing right at me. "They're totally silent, Max." he whispered.
I nodded, not getting it for a moment. Then, "Oh, Ig, I'm sorry. I just didn't think-"
He cut me off, "no biggie, really. I'll just need a bit more warning next time, 'kay? I mean, mouthing stuff's good and all, but you guys nearly left me behind."
We were all silent for a second, then Fang, who was closest to the mouth of the cave we had picked for this meeting, glanced out. "Umm...guys? I think some of our new friends just found us."
I looked out to, and for a second couldn't believe what I was seeing.
The cave was surrounded by mutant, flying, silent, deadly, looking-for-revenge, Erasers.
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There were way, way to many to simply fight off. And our only route out was the front of the cave. I really hoped the scientists hadn't made this batch faster.
"Up and away everybody, meet ten minutes southeast!" I yelled, not bothering to keep my voice down. "Gazzy, don't let Iggy out of your sight!" Not that he would anyway. The Gasman absolutely adored Iggy, but better safe then sorry, right?
I scooped up Total and threw him to the nearest person flying next to me, who happened to be Fang. His face after getting this "gift" didn't exactly reveal pure happiness. "You get the front," I screamed at him, vaguely wondering why my voice was getting louder, "I'll get the back!"
The Erasers were on top of us by this time. In a flurry of wings and bodies, I lost track of everybody. The Erasers were all crowded together in a pack-almost like a huge, deadly cloud. I dipped down under them and sped away with my super-sonic speed, going to where (I hoped) going southeast for ten minutes at normal speed would get me. I waited around, waiting for everyone else.
They dribbled in. Nudge came first, shaking off some Eraser blood and looking completely disgusted, but otherwise unhurt. Angel was next, sporting a cut down her arm, but it didn't look to serious.
Fang came in, carrying Total. He was a mess, with bark and twigs in his hair and his shirt covered with Eraser fur. Total jumped out of his arms, swaying back and forth as though he were sick. "I had to lose them in patch of trees." Fang half-explained.
But even though we waited patiently for the next five minutes, neither the Gasman nor Iggy showed up, either together or alone.
I officially hated boys now.
"Fine, lets go look for them." I said, after another ten minutes turned up no flying mutant freaks, either bird kids or Erasers. The rest of my flock nodded, looking anxious. I really, really hoped they had just gotten lost.
We flew in the general direction of the cave where we had first been, spread out so that we covered more ground. We were maybe five minutes from where the Erasers had first attacked us when Angel pointed down. "Look at that! Could that have been one of Iggy's bombs?"
I glanced down, and immediatly started to land, going down in decreasingly tiny circles. A small ring of dirt and ash surrounded me. It was definetly a bomb, probably Iggy's or possibly the Gasman's. I searched for other clues. I didn't have to look long.
"Look!" Fang pointed to a tree. A couple of loose feathers were stuck in the branches. They were brown, like the Gasman's.
"And here!" Nudge pointed to another tree, right next to the one with Gassy's feathers in it. It had some blood on it, though I couldn't tell if it was Eraser or bird kid. There were also some feathers on this tree. Grey-white, like Iggy's. Great.
I sat down, my head in my hands. They were probably captured, and after that disturbing future-vision thing, Iggy being captured was the last thing I wanted. Any help here, Voice? I asked half-heartedly.
Surprisingly, I got an answer. I never said you would change the future for the better, Max.
Awesome, seriously. How is it fair that while trying to save a guy that was like you freaking brother from death by firemean that you actually condemned him and a guy who wasas good as your brother to something worse then death?
But who said life was fair?
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"Iggy!" The Gasman patted his friend gently on the cheek, trying not to think too much about where they were. He needed to get Iggy awake, he needed Iggy to help him.
Finally, Iggy moved his hand enough to grip the set of iron bars, not even bothering to open his useless eyes. "Woah, serious de já vu." He mumbled. The Gasman nodded his agreement.
They were together in a large cage, just like they always had been when they were little. Only this time, Max wasn't next to them, and Gassy's sister was no where in sight.
The Gasman took in a great shuddering breath, and Iggy put a hand on his shoulder, "We'll be okay. We have Max looking for us!" The Gasman nodded, remembered that Iggy couldn't see him, and burst into tears.
"Hey, hey." Iggy brought Gazzy closer to him, surprised and a little scared at the younger boy breaking down. He had always been a so tough. "We'll get out of this. I'll think of a plan."
The Gasman buried himself deeper in Iggy's worn T-shirt and mumbled something. "What'd you say?" Iggy asked. The Gasman took another breath.
Gazzy extracted himself from Iggy's shirt. "I said, 'How are you gonna get us out of here, with your busted eyes and my busted wing."
Iggy tensed, immediately offended when Gassy mentioned his eyes, but then said, "Your wing's busted?" Gazzy nodded. "Turn around." Iggy muttered. Gassy did as he was told.
"Not too bad. I think you just clipped it." Iggy ran his hands over the Gasman's wings. "Must hurt like hell."
Gazzy nodded, sniffling. "Come here." Iggy held out his hands to the Gasman, as much for his comfort as for the younger boy's. He hated the school. He hated the fact that he never knew where he was when he was in it. He hated the fact that the whitecoats could control them so easily.
Max turned to Angel, who was crying silently. "We'll find them, don't worry honey." She said. She really wished she would keep this promise.
"Okay Fang, I give up, where are we going?" she called to her friend. He pointed up ahead. That cave looked familiar…
She smiled at Fang. She knew that he loved those hawks.
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Fang was in front this time with the hawks following close behind. I was slightly to one side with Nudge and Angel. I was feeling pretty good about this plan. We'd just have to wait until nightfall and then…
The School was in sight. The School was right there! And guess who was in front of the School?
Well, three guards with rifles, but they didn't see us. But guess who was in the back?
Yeah, you guessed it. Iggy, Gassy, secured to the ground by chains, and Jeb, and Ari. Whoopie.
I circled around to front, signaling with my wing to go higher, above the clouds. Once we got there, I confess, I peeked out. And nearly cried.
Erasers were coming towards Iggy and the Gasman. For once, I cursed my far sight. I saw everything clearly. Iggy was slightly in front, pushing Gazzy behind him. I could pretend I heard the Gasman's voice, whispering the numbers to Iggy. I could pretend I saw Iggy's face screwed up in concentration, trying to pick up every sound. Trying to find an escape route with only his ears.
My boys were so brave.
"We attack now!" I said loudly, dropping from the clouds and out of sight, hearing my flock coming down behind me. The Erasers were getting closer. One of them took a swipe at Iggy, and I saw him pull away with flesh caught in his mouth. My rage drove me forward even faster. I cut through the air like a bullet.
The Erasers didn't know what hit them. I stomped on the chains that held my friends to the ground.
"Max!" Gazzy ran over to me. I wondered vaguely why he didn't fly, but that was the least of my worries. Behind him trotted two Erasers. Three of the beasts pulled me out of the air. Time to fight.
Secretly, I was glad to fight. It was good anger management. Next to me, Fang was directing the hawks to scratch out the Erasers eyes, still holding onto a distinctly uncomfortable-looking Total. He was holding onto Total and fighting Ari at the same time, not an easy thing to do. Not to self: Help Fang as soon as possible.
Nudge and Angel were fighting back to back against four or five Erasers, but they were doing pretty good.
The one who was worse off was definitely Iggy. Poor Iggy was getting clobbered by the new silent Erasers. He wasn't out of the fight yet, but he would be soon. I broke away from one of the Erasers and shouted "Up and Away!"
Everybody left the ground immediately- hawks, Erasers, bird kids. Basically everybody but Jeb. I wasn't scared, we could lose the Erasers easily. Except that Gassy was dragging behind, with one of his wings not working to good.
I barely had time to realize this before Iggy grabbed on to Gazzy, pulling his higher and whispering something in his ear that made my little guy smile. Then Iggy shouted up to me, "Bomb, Max!"
I was confused, until I remembered the bomb I'd taken from Iggy just two days ago. I dropped it towards the School. At least a small section of the building erupted in flames. Yes!
Iggy was being pulled down by Erasers. Before he lost his wings completely, he tossed Gazzy up, out of harm's way. Then one of those monsters bit his wing, and he started falling towards the fire.
My nightmare of a vision was coming true.
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It was at times like these that you really appreciate the bond that the entire flock has. Before the scream had even escaped my lips, the Gasman and Fang were both dive-bombing towards the rising flames, desperate to get to Iggy in time.
For his part, Iggy was beating his wings madly against the air, but his attempts weren't strong-that Eraser had taken a good-sized chunk out of his left arm and his blood was flying through the air all around us like red rain.
It was all I could do not to go down with my boys, but there was still the Erasers to tend to. I pushed Angel, who had Total, and Nudge in front of me, ordering them to get out of here. I couldn't care less where they went, I just wanted them away from here.
I took out two Erasers with one swipe of my arms. It was such a good form of anger management, you know? And the hawks were going after the Erasers with their claws and beaks and feathers, making them blind for a few seconds.
Behind me, I heard the unmistakable sound of huge mutant bird wings. I turned just enough to see Iggy supported by Fang and Gassy, very much alive. I broke free of the mob of birds and scooped Iggy out of my brothers' arms. They'd go faster without carrying him. I screamed over my shoulder, "cave," then I was out of there.
Iggy wasn't in great shape. He wasn't even in good shape. His arm wouldn't stop bleeding, and it was nasty to look at. I got a mouthful of Iggy blood that I accidentally swallowed while flying. But he was alive; I could feel the rise and fall of his shoulders against my chest. That was enough for me.
I sped past Angel and Nudge, in that brief instant looking them over for injuries. Except for a few scrapes and bruises, they seemed to have none.
I flew into the cave, thankful for the small bit of safety it offered. How bad had my life gotten that I now loved caves? I didn't answer this question immediatly, because of one small detail. Iggy dying. Yeah, that's kind of big.
Naturally, I knew that we had to stop his arm from bleeding out ony more of his unique blood, but before I tended to that, I had to make sure there weren't any more serious injuries. I lifted Iggy's shirt...and groaned. "Oh, Ig, what's they do to you?" I remember muttering. Just then, Fang and the Gasman flew in, surprisingly beating Angel and Nudge, who were right behind them.
Gazzy dropped to his knees immediatly. He looked at Iggy's chest and stomach and looked away. I knew without knowing how I knew, that Gazzy had the same things on his own body.
The thought made me want to throw something. Or at least bash in Jeb's head.
Fang was already removing his shirt and ripping it into pieces, which Nudge and Angel took from him to place over Iggy's wound. I barely looked at them-My eyes were on Iggy's pale face. When the girls first laid the strips on his skin, Iggy flinched away from them, but eventually let the cloth engulf the wound.
"Gazzy, I need to know exaactly what happened at the School."
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Put simply, Iggy had been burned and slashed. And so had the Gasman. He told me the whole story, even though by the end, I almost wished he hadn't.
"The white coats came, and I think we both knew that they were going to kill us. One of them was breathing real hard, which is why Iggy knew. And I swear one of them had fire coming out of his eyes." He shuddered, and Fang put his arm around him. I was appalled to see him shudder and stiffen even at the innocent touch.
"So they hauled us out of the cage-they had put us both in one cage. Again. They took us into the lab. And they tortured us." Gazzy's eyes closed, and he shuddered again. "They burned our bodies. And they cut us." He was thinking really hard now, trying to remember.
"They told us it was to test our endurance."
My whole body was shaking so much that it hurt. How dare anyone touch my flock? And they hurt them so badly.
Gazzy was still talking, "They put us in the same room. Iggy was always in front of me. He was taking the worst of it, making sure that I was never against one of them alone." Gazzy smiled, and I could tell he was desperately trying not to cry.
Nudge was crying silently. Angel was crying too, loudly. And Total was licking howling. I wished I had never asked Gazzy what had happened.
"They put us back in the cage. Still only one. Iggy made sure that I wasn't hurt any worse, 'cause I had already banged up my wing. I lied, I said I was fine. He looked so horrible, Max!" Gazzy started to cry, making Fang pull him closer.
"But he wasn't worried about himself. He told me to look for escape routs. We all memorized the entire lab, so he knew there was no way out until we were brought outside. He was giving me something to do."
Gazzy drew in a huge breath, and started hiccupping. I looked down at my hand, which was clenched in a fist and soaked in Iggy's blood. I saw Iggy's eyes flutter. "Iggy? Ig, come on!" I knelt next to him, watching as he moved his head, which was the equevelent for him of opening his eyes.
Gazzy threw himself on top of Iggy, sobbing hysterically. I was about to haul Gazzy off, 'cause he was probably really hurting him. But Iggy was crying too, and hugging Gazzy until I was sure both of them were in a huge about of pain, but I didn't dare pull them apart.
The rest of us looked as the boys cried. I'm pretty sure everybody was crying. Even macho man Fang was a little teary eyed. Because neither boy was flinching away from the other.
The only person that Iggy trusted was the Gasman. And the only person the Gasman trusted was Iggy.
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We were flying. I didn't know where we were flying to, or what we'd do when we got there. All I knew was that we had to get as far away from the school as possible.
In my mind, I reviewed the past couple of days. The vision, and the attack from the Erasers, Iggy falling. The Gasman and Iggy disappearing. Seeing them so hurt.
I don't know if anyone reading this has a brother or a sister who ever got hurt, but if you do, you'll understand the raw hatred and extreme over-protectiveness that the entire flock was feeling now.
First off, Iggy couldn't fly on his own. When I had suggested we stay a couple days in the cave, though, a look of pure terror came over his expressive features. Now he was being supported by Fang, who never seemed to tire.
Gazzy hadn't left Iggy's side since they returned. For his part, Iggy never let anyone else come as near to him as he let the Gasman. I knew he'd be back to normal soon, and in the meantime, I made sure no Erasers got within a mile of the two of them.
Angel and Nudge hadn't really understood what had happened. They kept asking Gazzy questions, trying to get the facts straight. I eventually took them aside and explained it as best I could.
"The white coats at the school hurt Iggy and the Gasman to see how they'd take the pain." Hey, why don't you try putting that situation into words and explain it to a six-year-old.
I wish I could talk to Fang. He would help me figure out what to do. Unfortunately, he was with Iggy.
Angel and Nudge were flying side by side, talking quietly with Total. The Gasman was near me, flying crooked because of his wing.
We were so messed up. What were we going to do?
The End. Review.