Legacy of the Guardians by Immeritus Noxnoctis

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Mystery, Supernatural
Published:2006-02-16 09:16:40
Updated:2007-01-07 09:32:31
Packaged:2021-04-21 23:56:51
Summary:Max and the gang are sick of the role they play in life. Little do they know it's far greater than they think. Along with the meeting of a new experiment comes the slow unraveling of their true purpose as 'freaks'. Buckle up, angels and demons ahead.

Table of Contents

1. Act One
2. Act Two
3. Act Three
4. Act Four
5. Act Five
6. Act Six
7. Act Seven
8. Act Eight
9. Act Nine
10. Act Ten
11. Act Eleven
12. Act Twelve
13. Act Thirteen
14. Act Fourteen
15. Act Fifteen
16. Act Sixteen
17. Act Seventeen
18. Act Eighteen
19. Act Nineteen
20. Act Twenty
21. Act Twenty one
22. Act Twenty two
23. Act Twenty three
24. Act Twenty four

1. Act One

Hello! I don't know if anyone will remember, but I had this story on here before. Well, it's back and revamped! So, to past readers, I hope you'll like the newer version! To new readers, just enjoy!

Title: Experiment Encounters

Rating: PG (Mild violence)

Genre: Fantasy/Mystery/Adventure

Summary: Maximum Ride and the Flock have always known what cruelty was; they grew up at the School. They know all about the hideous experimentations that go on, and what comes of them. They know who performs and runs these experiments. What they don't know is there's a bigger Plot beyond the School and Institue. With the meeting of a new 'experiment' and powerful new enemies, Max and the gang slowly embark on a journey of uncovering the truth behind their own hideous-creation. There's a much greater power working all lives.

Disclaimer: I don't own Maximum Ride, or anything out of the book. I do, however, own everything in this story not mentioned in the book. The plot, the characters, all mine!

Chapter One

The Institute for Higher Living, Lower System, New York

Jeb Batchelder, Captain of the Life Team, Lead Director for the Higher Living, emotionless leader in what he himself knew was a sick and twisted game of life, did not know what to do. For the first time in his new life, he was stunned. The only thing he could do was stare unblinkingly down the tunnel his Max has just disappeared down.

After a few moments, he blinked.

Once, twice.

What was going on?

His mouth hung open slightly.

What was he thinking?

His brow furrowed as he turned his gaze to his own hands. His fists clenched and unclenched in a nervous sort of way, one of his old quirks. He thought he had gotten rid of that habit.

It was a sign of weakness. He was weak. What was he doing? Standing there, mouth agape, staring at nothing. He was a man of action, and action was what he should be taking!

So what's stopping you?

His glazed eyes suddenly hardened, brow furrowing not in confusion but rage. Nothing was in his way. True, the Flock had once more escaped, taking a fair amount of information with them, but that was merely a minor setback.

Right now, he needed to swing into action. Orders were to be given, and an investigation was in store. He had to find out how the Flock had gotten in, strengthen the weak points, and get rid of the weak. Further more, the Flock was once more running amuck. They had to be captured.

Jeb's eyes flashed as these thoughts ran through his mind. Fists clenched, he turned slowly, ready to move. His hardened gaze found its target; a small group of Erasers had gathered just behind him. The imbeciles should have been chasing after the Flock by now! What were they doing instead? Standing around, not even transformed, and staring in shock at the ground.

With a sneer Jeb took one swift step towards the pathetic cluster. His eyes flicked across all their forms. Not so much as a flinch! Honestly, they were specially trained killers! By now he expected each and every one of them to feel his cold gaze. They would most definitely need a talking to. Exactly what held their attention so?

As if in answer to his question, an image flashed behind his eyes. A small boy waved his hands frantically in front of a smiling face. His eyes glimmered with delight.


Jeb took no further steps. His hands fell limp against his sides, face softening. Glazed eyes drifted slowly down to lock onto the very thing his Erasers gawked at. The unmoving form of Ari.

As he stared helplessly at his son, Jeb couldn't help but pray. Pray that Ari would suddenly pull himself up. Pop up, like he used to years ago, before Jeb had left. Jump up giggling and throw his arms around his 'papa'.

The truth was, Ari wasn't a child anymore. No, the form lying on the floor was far from the picture in Jeb's mind. Ari's body had slowly taken on the resemblance of a human once more, though it was not that of a sweet seven-year-old. It was strong, manly. It was quite still.

It was his fault.

A rough tap on his shoulder pulled Jeb quickly from his thoughts. His head turned slowly towards the Eraser behind him.


The Eraser blinked at him, taken aback somehow. "Sir, um, what should we do now," It stuttered, still blinking stupidly.

Yes, what should be done now?

Standing around reminiscing of the dead will get you nowhere.

This thought rang clear in his clouded mind. Slowly recognition flooded his senses again. He became aware of the fact that he was kneeling next to Ari. Swiftly he stood up, turning to face the Erasers. Recognizing that their leader was ready for action, they quickly stood at attention.

"Alright, I want all of this taken care of. Obviously the Flock has once again escaped us, but that can be dealt with later," As his stern gaze passed over the group, he noticed a few growls at this. That was better, "Right now the focus will be on the Institue."

The group of Erasers split as Jeb began to walk forward. A little hesitantly, they followed. Some glanced back at Ari. All kept their distance from Jeb.

"I want a search done of the building," He began to speak again, "Inventory shall be taken, all the rooms searched. Gather everyone for assistance. We'll meet for a progress report in fifteen minutes. Lab X. Do I make myself clear?" The Erasers grunted in agreement. One spoke.

"Sir, what about the body?" It was the same idiot who had roused the Director from his thoughts.

Two Erasers nearly ran into Jeb as he stopped abruptly. He was quiet for a moment. Thinking, they could tell. Whether or not he was angry they could not.

After another second or silence, his voice came dark and whispering. "Burn it."

Five minutes later Jeb was walking hurriedly away from the now-departing group of searchers. He had given them their instructions, now he had something of his own to take care of. His destination was Lab X. One experiment was on his mind.

Quite frankly, he could care less about any of the other experiments. Normally it would faze him thinking of the experiments running amuck in the real world. Why, there was a great possibility someone would spot them! Yet at this moment, all he cared about was Lab X. Which, in time that surprised even him, he had now reached.

What appeared to be a vast metal elevator door stood in front of him. No button was apparent on either side of the door, only two small painting. Jeb slid the painting on the right upwards. A keyboard popped out of the square space in the wall. He anxiously typed in his code.

The metal door slid silently away. Behind it lay Lab X, exactly as he had last seen it last. Computers hummed merrily, papers were still scattered atop the various counters and worktables. The table in the middle of the room, complete with restraints and monitors hooked to it, still had the clipboard lying on its edge.

Eyes scanning the whole room, Jeb smiled slightly. Everything was as he had left it. He really had nothing to worry about.

There was just one part of him that worried over something he knew was impossible. Perhaps the Flock had discovered the secret. Then they would most certainly make an attempt to liberate Experiment A.

He was being paranoid, and he knew it. He actually preferred the word cautious. Chuckling to himself he crossed the room at a leisurely pace. He came to another metal door.

Nothing to worry about, but a peek wouldn't hurt.

Once more entering a code, Jeb waited at the door slid away with a hum. His eyes took a moment to adjust as he stepped through the opening. The room was fairly small, and half of it was completely dark. Its occupant liked that.

Across the back wall was a large cage. Much nicer than what the other experiments were contained in. Six feet by six feet, very spacious. He was always telling the experiment how special he was.

A faint light spilled across the cage; simulated moonlight. Experiment A liked that, too. It shimmered across the front of the cage, though the back was bathed in shadows. Through these shadows Jeb could make out two glittering eyes. His experiment was awake. Good.

"Hello, Luxlucious." Jeb saw the eyes flash momentarily. He was quite certain he heard a hiss.

A smooth voice spoke, void of emotion. "Good evening, murderer."

Jeb merely smirked.

Right, so you know the drill Read and Review, constructive critisism is very welcome, along with praise. Thanks!

2. Act Two

Alright, I got three reviews, I'm satisfied. Thanks to all who read and commented, I really appreciate it. So, without further ado, I present chapter two! And Lux. Gotta love Lux...

Chapter Two

The Dream Wood; a lush forest of splendor and beauty, peace and serenity. Oaks and pines towered high above the forest floor. Willows stretched feathery fingers great lengths to sweep against soft moss and warm earth. Sunlight sweet as honeysuckle spilled through the close tops of the giant trees. All around came the songs of nature and soft smells of heaven.

The dream always started like this. A journey through a mass of trees and smells and sunlight. Yet no matter how many times the dream came, it never ceased to amaze him.

Even if it was a dream, he knew the forest by heart. A right turn at the Old Oak would bring him to the cave, a left into the marshes. Various other routes led him deeper into the forest, to a small stream, and into the heart of a ruined labyrinth. All these were interesting explored once, but after he had taken the route straight behind the Old Oak, he never strayed again.

A faint smile on his pale lips, he took this route. Shortly after, his sacred-place came into sight. 'Twas a bright clearing, almost perfectly circular in shape. The trees that surrounded it grew close together in a semi-circle; the other part was made of a high, rocky wall.

From this wall came a waterfall, sparkling and clear, that in turn spilled into an equally crystal pond. Around the pond was exquisitely green grass dotted with violet flowers. The blue of the water rivaled even that of the sun-lit sky.

Every time he came to this dream-place, the beauty of it always set a spark in his soul. And still, only one thing truly took his breath away every time.

Sitting always by the pond was a woman. She crouched low to the surface of the water, a pale hand grazing the top to cup a lily. He could almost hear her giggle of delight as she pulled away from the surface to study her treasure, feathered wings fanning out in excitement.

The woman never seemed to notice him. At least, not when he stood watching behind a tree. Knowing this, he always made to step forward and catch her attention. Even if he knew it never worked.

For just as he took a step forward, or even opened his mouth to shout, he was ripped away from the dream. Very slowly the vibrant colors of the forest melted together and flowed around him. He remained standing still as the colors changed to a swirling white around him. His eyes were always focused on the woman.

As usual, he was awake within seconds. The dream never lingered, nor did it flee instantly. Memories never do, do they? Yes, he was sure it was a memory. It was too vibrant to be a mere dream. He knew that forest, he knew every sight and sound of it. He knew the woman by the pond. Maybe he did not quite know how, or when, but he had known her. There was no doubt of it.

Emitting a soundless sigh, Luxlucious reveled for a few more minutes in his peaceful memory. It was comforting, yet somehow sad. Sad in the fact that there was obviously a world beyond his building exactly like the forest. A world he had undoubtedly come from. But the only memories he had besides the forest were of the cold room he now sat in, and the painful room outside the door.

He let out another sigh, this time audible.

Well, no use pondering broken memories. You're here now, with duties to attend to.

The first on his list when he woke up; actually open his eyes. Not that it did any good. The sight was always the same, even if the Head was in the room. He always stood smack dab in the middle of the pool of 'moonlight' with a hideous smirk on his face. It was days or night like these when Luxlucious just wished they would perform some experiment on him and turn him blind. With all his other senses, did he really need sight?

Then again, there was always one sight waiting for him that he never grew tired of. Curled next to him was his darling 'sister', the one person besides the dream-woman that he loved. Not that he quite remembered meeting many other decent people, but he was positive he only loved two.

Of course, the slight girl was not actually his sister. She too was an experiment. It had been many lonely years before Luxlucious met her. One day, after being jerked from his dream by a presence in the room, he had opened his eyes fully prepared to kill. But instead of finding the Head or a timid white coat in the room, a frail-girl sat huddled in the corner of the cage.

"A-awe wou gonna eat meh?" Aside from her small voice, he had instantly fallen in love with the huge, emerald, tear filled eyes. From that day forward he had vowed to protect her.

Luxlucious smiled softly down at the figure curled next to him. He lovingly ran a hand over the fluffy white-and-silver hair. At thirteen she looked just as she had as a frightened five-year-old. Except a few feet taller and healthier. He had seen to that.

He continued to stroke the soft hair, smiling down at the girl. As he did the silence was replaced with soft purring. As the purring grew louder, Luxlucious prepared for the girl to wake up.

He moved slightly to the side. The purring stopped for a moment, then resumed as contact was regained between the two. Once more, Luxlucious moved away. The girl followed. Finally he stood up and moved to the other side of the cage to sit.

A smile spread across his face as the purring became deafening, then was cut off by a small mewing. The figure uncurled itself and sat up, hands spreading around her to scratch lightly at the floor.

Luxlucious remained perfectly silent as she searched. Not that he needed to. The white cat ears that poked through the bushy mass of hair did his sister no good. Normally she had vision as keen as his in the dark, but not when a blanket of hair covered them. So she continued her search with her hands.

He stayed quiet, watching her with care, until another sound caught his attention; footsteps, coming quickly up the stairs. The footsteps of Jeb Batchelder. Something had happened.

"Kitty, over here sweets," He said in a soft voice.

She couldn't hear him, but she could feel him talking. She stopped her search, crawling slowly towards him. He unfolded one wing slightly to touch her flicking tail. In a matter of seconds she had flung herself giggling into his arms.

Hurriedly, he brushed a finger against her lips. Instantly her giggles died away. Luxlucious inched slowly to the back of the cage, deep into the shadows. Unconsciously he folded one wing around Kitty to hide her further from view.

He fixed his eyes unblinkingly on the door.

As predicted, in waltzed and uneasy Jeb.

"Hello, Luxlucious." The said 'experiment' smirked as the warm body curled against him gave a loud hiss. Even Kitty could smell the evil that clung to the Head.

"Good evening, murderer."

And there was the hideous smirk.

-grin- I like reviews...critisism is greatly appreciated...praise is awesome.

3. Act Three

Thanks everyone for reading! I'd name you all individualy, but I'm lazy! Whee! Heh, sorry. I really do appreciate the comments though. So, here's chapter three! Enjoy.

Chapter Three

All was still in the room as experiment and scientist fought an undeclared battle of gazes. Jeb remained standing, smirk growing slowly. The glowing eyes amidst the shadows kept an unwavering glare trained on the white coat. Not even Kitty dared to break the tension-filled silence.

Finally a chuckle broke out to end the steady battle. It was the throaty kind of chuckle Jeb often gave, that rang out darkly in the small room, and irritated the heck out of Luxlucious. His smirk slowly turned into what resembled a small smile. Who knows, perhaps it was a smile. Nevertheless, the only movement beyond the shadows was the narrowing of glowing eyes.

Although calm on the outside, Jeb was absolutely frantic within. Luxlucious knew something; there was no doubt of it. He was just playing stupid. What if he had been the one to help the Flock? No, that was impossible. He had been in here the whole time. Then again, what if he hadn't?

Jeb's gaze flicked quickly to the front of the cage; the door had no apparent opening, but Jeb could see it was closed and locked. So there was no way Luxlucious could have gotten out. Then again, did he really need to? There were things about the 'experiment' that even he had no knowledge of. Only the Supplier truly knew everything.

Luxlucious noticed instantly that something was bothering the white coat. His gaze followed just as quickly as Jeb's eyes flickered to the cage door. A small bead of sweat was slowly sliding past Jeb's right eye which, Luxlucious noted with amusement, was twitching.

Yet these were merely the visible signs; Kitty had probably picked up on these already. More notable to Luxlucious was the sound of rushing footsteps outside his room, the fact that Jeb himself had dashed into the lab. With him had come the distinct smell of frantic madness and worry. He could sense it in Jeb's aura.

You see, Luxlucious possessed the power to read people. He couldn't read minds; that was Kitty. More so, he could sense emotions. It was an easy task to read people with weaker minds, but his talent was often put to the test against minds such as Batchelder's. That's not to say he couldn't do it. Especially when the emotions and thoughts were very strong, such as now.

Obviously knowing of the experiment's talent, Jeb was now trying very hard to compose himself. After a moment and a few deep breaths, all trace of any emotion slowly washed away the man. The glowing eyes narrowed further, a sign Jeb knew too well. He was safe now.

With a small chuckle of his own, Luxlucious relaxed his gaze on the white coat. A smirk made it's way onto his face. He may have lost his hold on the emotions, but Luxlucious knew they had been there. The scientist couldn't get off that easy.

"Something wrong, Batchelder? You seem….worried," His smirk grew as Jeb's eyes narrowed momentarily. From under his wing came a muffled giggle. She really was a good little sister…

Though his eyes narrowed, in another second Jeb was back to normal. He gave another small chuckle, crossing his arms in a casual sort of way. Lux had to hand it to him, the white coat was a practiced actor.

"I knew you would know something, Luxlucious, I'll admit that. I'd just like to know exactly what it is you know," Jeb used a playful, friendly voice. It never had, and never would, fool Lux for one minute.

"Who says I know anything?" Jeb's smirk faded at the bored tone of otherwise sharp voice. To add to this annoyance was the faint sound of rustling feathers; Luxlucious had taken to lazily preening his feathers.

Pushing away the urge to shout, Jeb took a deep breath. The small smile flitted onto his face again. He gave another, cheerier chuckle.

"Now, Luxlucious, I know you're not stupid. You know something. Why don't you just make this easier and tell me what?"

Jeb's fury came rushing over him as the experiment snorted. He was irritated, mad, and ready to rip someone's head off. Sensing this, Luxlucious still proceeded to irritate the white coat further. He did it with a smirk, too.

"Why, pray tell, would I tell you anything?" Again his voice was soft and drawling, uninterested.

Jeb was sent over the top.

"You listen here, you arrogant scum," He hissed, taking a step towards the cage, "You're nothing but and experiment, a freak of nature. You're lucky I even keep you alive. So don't you even try playing games with me."

Luxlucious turned his gaze quickly from his feathers to the figure of the white coat. He almost let out another snort at the sight; Jeb's face was slowly turning red, a thick vein in his temple standing out considerably. He had one finger shaking towards the cage. Yes, Luxlucious almost snorted, at the sight, but instead snorted due to the words.

"I'm lucky? I think you are the one who is lucky, Batchelder. Day after day you run the risk of being caught and charged for murder, locked away forever for what you do to innocent people. I've been kept prisoner in this cage for years, I have no memory of any world beyond this death-chamber, and still even I know right from wrong." Anger flickered in the glowing eyes, though they remained steady and glaring.

Jeb took another step forward, finger still wagging towards the experiment. His face grew redder.

"If you think that I'm going to let you talk like that to me for even a minute…."

Jeb stopped in slight surprise as he was cut off.

"You kill every day. You create horrible, hell-like lives, then take them away just as easily," His voice was dark and growling, yet somehow calm. Quite unlike the normal sarcastic tone.

The glowing of the eyes disappeared suddenly. From inside the cage came a rustling of feathers and clothes; Luxlucious was slowly standing up. Not that he could stand up fully, for the cage was just an inch to small.

Whatever the experiment meant to do, Jeb hadn't a clue. Intimidate him? At the thought he found himself slowly calming down. What was he getting so upset about? So Experiment A was having a minor defect in respect for his superiors; he could be disciplined.

"Now, Experiment A…." Once more he was cut off.

"Don't," came the growl, "Don't you even try to act as if you're higher than me. You know why you're really mad? Because deep down you know that I'm right."

"Experiment A…" Jeb was stopped in mid-step and mid-sentence once more.

"You," this time Luxlucious roared, lowering his voice to a calm tone after, "You need to let me finish. And you know what? You're going to. Because you know something, even if I don't, and it scares you. That's what you're really mad about. You're scared."

For a moment all was silent as Jeb stood blinking. He was dumbfounded, for two very good reasons.

The experiment was quite right. He, Jeb Batchelder, was scared. There was something to do with the experiment that was odd, that he didn't quite know about. From the beginning he had known there was something. It had never before frightened him, because he was always certain he could control it. Until now.

The second thing that held a fearless man in a stupor, was a light. A soft, white light slowly breaking through the shadows in the back of the cage. Amidst the hazy light were the glowing eyes of Luxlucious.

"Luxlucious, I think we can talk this over," Jeb barely saved himself from stuttering over his words. The unknown fear slowly worked its way through him as the faint light grew steadily.

"There's nothing to talk about. You're a murderer. A cowardly man who takes lives with pleasure. You're not God, Jeb." With the light there seemed to come power in Luxlucious' voice.

Jeb fought the urge to turn his gaze away as the light grew ever brighter. By now he would have expected to have seen the experiments. The light certainly shown on everything else.

"Where did you get an idea as silly as a God? We're alone in this world, we humans. And it's been up to us to improve our lives; that's were you mutants come in."

Jeb found his last bit of strength to look straight into the light. Though the fear never left him, a smirk spread across his face. He still couldn't see anything within the light.

All at once, so quickly that Jeb barely caught it, the light went out. The room was silent, dark. Even the simulated moonlight had gone. The silence pressed in all around Jeb, but he found he didn't dare make a sound.

Finally, as if he had been waiting for it, there came a voice. A voice that he half recognized as the sarcastic one of Luxlucious, and half had been fearing all his life. Both were whispering, though one held such might and glory it boomed in Jeb's soul.

"You have been judged and condemned"

Next, just as quickly as it had gone, the light flared. It roared up with such intensity that Jeb stumbled backwards with a silent scream. As he fell towards the floor, his eyes fell on a figure inside the light; something he knew to be Luxlucious, yet almost didn't recognize. There were the same glowing, metallic-blue eyes. The same pale, almost white hair . His figure was still tall and slender, framed on each side by feathered wings.

As the light came to it's peak, Jeb instantly noticed the changes in the 'experiment'. Although already tall, he stood regally, with power. His eyes held an intensity that Jeb could barely stand to look at. And his wings; they were already white, but now seemed unnaturally white.

It was in that split second that Jeb suddenly realized what he had been afraid of. Or rather, who. Yet he still chose to go against it. In that moment, he realized all that was going on.

In the same second the light disappeared, taking with it Luxlucious and all but a shard of Jeb's understanding.

Jeb hit the floor, and all went black.

4. Act Four

Greetings, my faithful followers. I bring you good tidings of great joy; chapter four! Although some may be tortured by the fact that with this chapter comes a new mystery. -smirk- I love this job...

Chapter Four

He was floating. Drifting through a world of black and numbness.


The soft voice broke through the calm air, and he cursed it. Still he floated.


Something gently prodded his side. Once, twice. Lazily opening one eye, he searched around the obsidian world. There was only him.


Something sharp jabbed into his side. The numbness of his unconscious state faded away as pain flared in his side. Slowly he found himself waking up.

"Ow! What're you doing!"

He heard a small squeak to his left, just above him. Something furry brushed against his cheek as the figure hurriedly scampered away.


Luxlucious sighed heavily. It was only Kitty. He just had to yell at her, didn't he? Great.

With a sigh he stretched one hand out slowly, searching for the small girl. His fingertips did not brush against cold bars as should be expected. Still a bit delirious, he paid no attention. Not coming across a body, he slowly lowered his hand to search the ground for an absently-placed tail. His fingers grazed against a cold floor; a cold, rough, and wet floor.

Luxlucious stopped his search momentarily. The floor was wet. Come to think of it, he was wet. Why on earth was he wet?

He opened his eyes, fully expecting to see the top bars of the cage, glinting softly in the simulated-moonlight. Once open, his eyes found their sight did not end six feet above the ground, but rather went on for what must have been miles. For the first time he could remember, he was looking at the sky.

It was absolutely beautiful. It had to be night, for the sky wasn't 'blue as a bluebird' like Jeb tauntingly described it. Two building blocked his sight to the right and left, but Luxlucious knew the sky went on for miles. A glorious expanse of dark velvet, dotted with glimmering stars. Of course, at the moment dark clouds floated here and there, but through them cam a faint light. Real moonlight. He smiled softly.

For a few minutes, maybe longer, Luxlucious just lay staring at the sky. His eyes devoured the sight, lungs happily taking in the fresh air. Rain water fell gently across his face, seemingly seeping into his being. For a precious moment he forgot everything that had happened, what he was, and even about Kitty.

But of course, all good things come to and end. This good thing happened to be shattered by an irritated voice.

"Are you getting up anytime soon? Or are you just going to let the cat die of shock and get captured again?"

Luxlucious blinked once, slowly registering someone had spoken. In the next second he had sprung us and begun searching frantically for Kitty. He found her curled in a ball against a brick wall, staring with wide eyes up at him. Just as she began to reach out her arms, he had already scooped her up and began to cover her with his wings.

Next his eyes scanned his surroundings. They were in a narrow ally way. To his right and left were high brick buildings, presumably apartments. Ahead was a dead end where the building met. Turning around he found his only exit, blocked by a tall hooded figure.

"Aw, how sweet, but isn't she a bit old? No, silly me, you must be lovers." Rain hummed all around them, but he could still make out the voice as a female's.

His eyes narrowed as he clutched the girl in his arms closer. She was shivering badly.

"Who are you," He growled. He was in no mood for games right now. Especially not with a mysterious, hooded cynic.

The shoulders under the cloak moved slightly as the woman made a sound of amusement. The hood moved up so that Luxlucious could make out two silver eyes beneath it.

"I'm the one who saved your life."

Saying nothing, Luxlucious narrowed his eyes even further. He wasn't about to believe this cloaked-figure for one minute. True, she didn't have the scent of one from the Institute, but that was no reason to trust her. At the moment, he could trust no one.

Though Luxlucious stood studying the figure, he could not see the person beneath. If he had been able to, it would be easy to tell that the woman was growing impatient. The smirk that had been spread on her face slowly began to fade, her proud eyes dancing with hostility. Luxlucious was able to see that she tapped her foot annoyingly against the ground, along with pale fingers against her arms. Obviously she had expected a greater response.

She gave an exasperated sigh.

"You don't have any idea how you got out here, do you?"

Luxlucious kept his eyes narrowed, now glaring due to the womans mocking tone of voice.

"Alright, let's refresh your ever-failing memory. There was a hand on your shoulder,"

Luxlucious continued to glare, emotions unchanging. Until, of course, his target disappeared suddenly. His eyes widened slightly as he crouched in preparation to run. He hadn't even turned his head an inch to look around when he felt warm breath below his ear.

"Exactly…like…this," The whispering voice came from directly behind him. With every exaggerated word came a finger curling on his shoulder, until the full weight of a hand was upon it. Before he had time to do anything, the weight had disappeared.

As his mind raced with alarm and confusion, the woman appeared three feet in front of him. This time he could clearly see her smug smirk for one particular reason; the faint moonlight caught the gleam of a sharp fang.

Who was this woman? Could she be telling the truth? Quickly he flipped through the events that had taken place just moments before. He remember the words exchanged with Jeb, and a fiery anger welling inside him. He had even had the thought of killing Jeb, despite his hatred of murder.

Luxlucious' brow furrowed as he struggled to recall what had happened after that. There was a heat, a calming warmth, and a sense that he wasn't himself. Jeb had thrown himself to the floor…and there had been a weight. A light touch on his shoulder that brought him back to consciousness.

With the realization, he turned his attention back to the woman. His eyes narrowed further, if humanly possible.

For the hundredth time he attempted to read her aura. For the hundredth time, he failed. This woman showed very strong emotions, and yet he could not read them. She had a strong aura, and yet it was unreadable. This made him all the more suspicious.

"What do you want with me," He growled. He kept in his crouching position, soaking wings twitching with the urge to unfurl.

"First, you're very welcome. Second, wouldn't you rather I answer your first question? And third, don't try it. Wet wings don't make for a good flight."

The woman continued to smirk. Luxlucious continued to glare. Kitty's shivers grew slowly to convulsions against his chest. Not letting his worry show, he chanced a glance down at the girl.

Normally bushy hair hung lank around her round face. The rosy-sheen had drained from her face, turning it as white as the drooping ears atop her head. The thin dress she wore stuck impossibly close to her thin body. Luxlucious hadn't realized that he was in the same state. The rain was taking its toll.

His gaze traveled back to the stranger as she cleared her throat. Though hard, his eyes flickered with worry. Happy to have his attention, the smirk returned to the woman's face.

"Yes, well, now that we've cleared up the fact that I'm good, and that your kitten is on the verge of death, we shall be going." She nodded with an air satisfaction.

"You still haven't answered my questions; who are you, and what do you want with me?" His tone this time was softer, though he strained to keep it from a growl.

"You're really starting to annoy me, just so you know. I come in, save you from yourself, and what do I get? Suspicion, of all things! Honestly, you Americans. Can't trust anyone, can you?" Again came an exasperated sigh. For the first time Luxlucious realized that she spoke with a soft accent. Of what origin, he was uncertain.

This time his glare was accompanied with a real growl. If this woman didn't get out of his way now, he would have no problem with plowing her down. Right now he desperately needed to find shelter and help Kitty.

Clearly, the woman sensed his hostility. Or rather, the fact that the hostility already present was growing stronger. He couldn't see it, but she rolled her eyes before speaking.

"Alright, alright, fine. The name's Annaira, I'm from an underground…service, we'll call it. As for what I want with you, that's quite apparent," After letting a pause ring between them, she dropped her voice to a whisper, "You have power, Luxlucious. Power that would do well with a group of your own kind."

To Annaira's dismay, Luxlucious chuckled. A dark, unbelieving chuckle.

"Would you happen to be part of this group? Let me guess, you want me to follow you, right?"

"Well, yes, I suppose I do."

Again he chuckled. His smirk faded, eyes turning to ice as he stared to woman down. The icy glare translated fluidly into his voice as he hissed out his next words.

"I just escaped from Hell on earth, where I've lived at for as long as I can remember. It's a place where pain and death are inscribed into the very walls, haunting those who value life and light. When you're around corrupt-psychopaths all day, you learn to distrust others," He paused for a moment, settling with a more relaxed tone of voice, "Now, I have a sick girl in my arms, and you're standing in the way of my exit. I recommend you move; I've an urge to kill." With a tilt of his head, a smirk of arrogance spread onto his face. He was, indeed, serious. If this nuisance didn't move within the next minute, he would have to move her himself. Though part of him was interested in who she was and why she'd helped him, his main instincts wanted nothing more than to get Kitty far away from danger. This was something he very well planned to carry out.

Annaira said nothing. She remained perfectly still, unmoving, eyes narrowed and studying Luxlucious. Had he been able to decipher her, Luxlucious would be able to tell that she was in a deep debate with herself.

Luxlucious faintly heard Annaira give a soft sigh and mutter, "He's going to kill me," before she moved again.

Pale arms moved out from beneath the heavy cloak. Slowly tapered fingers lifted and moved the velvet hood. With a noise of dissatisfaction, Annaira shook out long, liquid black hair. The wet strands clung to her round face, playing against moon-kissed alabaster skin. What caught Lux's attention, though, were her eyes. They were perfect in shape, framed with thick lashes. The color was a swirling mix of mercury and pure silver, the pupils slit almost like a cat's.

He knew those eyes.

Blinking in surprise, he opened his mouth to speak, but was beaten to it.

"Luxlucious, I know you have no reason to trust me. But right now, I'm all you have. You'll just have to trust me when I say I can help you. You're in even more danger than you think." Her voice was soft and frantic, eyes almost desperately searching his.

He narrowed his eyes the tiniest bit at her. She was right, after all. At the moment he needed to get away. She had already saved him, so why wouldn't she do it again? Jeb would have no use in letting him escape, then capturing him again. The white-coat was crazy, but not that crazy. Besides, even if he couldn't read her, there was sincerity in Annaira's eyes. Somehow he knew he could trust her. A part of him needed to trust her; a part of him had trusted her long ago.

Gradually he allowed his muscles to relax, standing straight and shifting his weight. His wings remained curled around Kitty in an effort to shield her, though he let them relax lightly too.

"How can you help?"

A small smile tugged at her pale lips. A smile, not a smirk. A flicker of relief and gratitude flashed in her eyes.

"For now, I can get you away from here. I can get you warm clothes and supplies, and I can unite you with others in your predicament."

Luxlucious let the idea run through his head. He quickly decided to go with her, yet remained unchanging for quite a time. He knew Annaira. He trusted Annaira. Still he couldn't fully understand how and why.

The rain fell around them as he studied her, head tilted. She too was now soaking wet, and growing somewhat irritated. He laughed to himself as she struggled to keep her 'cool', almost failing. Yes, he could trust her.

"Who would these others be," He asked finally.

Annaira's smile turned into a smirk.

"They are called the Flock," She drawled out.

The Flock. Luxlucious had heard about them. Piecing information together over the years, he had concluded that they were a group of rogue experiments. He liked them; they caused Jeb much worry.

"Where can I find them?"

"Right now, you need to find a place to stay," She put a hand up as Luxlucious was about to interrupt, "You will find a safe place by turning right out of this ally, following the road straight, take another right, and enter the first ally. There you'll find a boarded-up door; open it, it's unlocked. I've everything set up for you there. I'd take you, but I'm already late for a…meeting"

Luxlucious nodded his head in understanding.

"You didn't answer me. Where can I find the Flock?" His eyes narrowed slightly with suspicion. They narrowed further as Annaira's eyes flashed with laughter, smirk broadening.

"You can't. They'll find you."

Before he could snarl in protest, Annaira had turned gracefully on her heel. Laying the hood back on her head, she took three steps, and disappeared.

Read, review, critisis in a constructive manner. Grazi!

5. Act Five

Hello, faithful ones. I am back with yet another chapter! I'm sorry to say that it's rather short, but pleased to inform you there is yet another mystery presented in this chapter! Whizah!

Chapter Five

Christopher Tyndall stood transfixed before an ornate pair of oak doors. Awe-struck eyes glided hungrily over the massive doors, attempting to memorize every intricate carving etched into their dark surface. Had this not been his first week at the Manor, the doors would have been nothing to dream about, but rather something quite ordinary. Right now, however, the young boy fully understood their immaculate beauty.

Quite unlike their owner.

Christopher was forced to tear his gaze from the doors as a body brushed against his. Jumping around and fully prepared to defend himself, a sigh of relief dibbled out instead. It was only the kindly cook, Gurtrude.

"You best be getting that message along to the master, young 'in." Before he could protest, the stout woman bustled away. Everyone seemed to be watching him since being hired, helping him along with his duties. They spoke as if their master actually inspected their work.

This would in fact be the first time Christopher had laid eyes on his new master. He had gathered that the master was a serious man, and judging by his few employees and lack of show, perhaps unfriendly. Still, Christopher was excited to meet him.

Straightening his tunic and swiping away stray hairs, he pushed open one of the oak doors. He strained against the heavy wood until a space large enough for him to slip through was created. Wriggling himself in, the boy once more stood staring.

The room he stood in was impossibly dark. A faint lantern hanging to his right was the only source of light. The flickering light cast shadows upon what he made out to be a bookcase. Looking up he found an endless ceiling swathed in shadows, and underneath his feet was cold stone. Even after his eyes had adjusted properly he could see nothing else.

Timidly, almost fearfully due to the dancing shadows, he spoke. "Um, sir, a-are you here?"

A loud thud straight ahead caused him to jump. Slowly he let one trembling hand grip the door behind him. He was fully prepared and willing to run.

"Where else would I be!"

Christopher again jumped, this time due to the cold voice. It came from far away, and yet all around him, a hissing whisper.

Slowly he stuttered out, "S-sir, I have a…a m-message for you."

He waited in fear. Perhaps there was a reason the other workers had been protecting him. He had done nothing, and already the master was raining down fury at him.

A minute passed before an irritated sigh rang out, followed by an angered voice.

"Well, are you going to leave it?"

Christopher instantly straightened, eyes searching frantically in the darkness for his master. Again came the heavy sigh.

"Just put it on the table."

Startled, Christopher again began his frantic searching. The darkness enveloped everything in what he knew was an enormous room, how was he supposed to find a table! Slowly his gaze settled on the shadows cast upon the bookcase, tracing them to the only source of light; the lantern. Just beneath the odd lantern was a small table.

Happy to be rid of the small envelope, he hastily threw it down onto the marble-top. Straightening again he trained his gaze on what he hoped was his master, far off in the shadows. He fidgeted as he waited.

"Now leave." The voice seemed to draw on the very darkness of the room, wielding it powerfully. Terrified, Christopher turned to run from the room.

As he slipped through the crack in the door, he heard the voice hiss darkly. "Imbecile."

With that the lantern flickered out, and Christopher flew down the corridor, promptly feinting as a woman appeared in front of him.

Insert my usal read/review rant here. Thank you!

6. Act Six

Well, here I am with yet another chapter. I do hope you all enjoy it. Although we meet another character, some of you may find it a little boring and tedious.

-glares pointedly at sugarplumfairy05-

However, I am delighted in the fact that much of the information in thischapter is very important to the story, and due to the fact that you like it so much, you will be forced to read it. -insane grin- Enjoy

Chapter Six

The last thing Annaira saw as she turned away from Luxlucious were his eyes. The cold blue gaze, shimmering with normally hidden emotions, forming a look she had seen before. Rage and determination mixed with confusion, leaving only one emotion from the fatal stare.

Annaira shook the memory from her head, the burning eyes slowly drifting from her thought. Blinking the last shard of unconsciousness away, she took notice of her surroundings. Thick fog swirled around her, mixed with cool swirling mist. The fog consisted primarily of black and grey, while the mist was shining silver in color. Moments before, however, the swirling mist and fog had been projecting the images that lay within her mind. That always happened when she wasn't concentrating.

Scowling at her own carelessness, Annaira quickly muttered her destination. The fog around her gave a strong pulse, slowly rolling away to reveal a white void. She walked towards it.

As she stepped into the stone corridor she had pictured, a small boy came hurtling towards her. Eyes wide at the sight of her dark figure and the swirling portal, he let out a squeak and fainted.

"Nox got a message," she said, rolling her eyes. With a sigh she cast a sympathetic look down at the shabby boy, swiftly maneuvering around his sprawling form.

She took her time walking down the corridor. Obviously her partner was in no good mood. Normally that wouldn't bother her, but at the moment she had other things on her mind. The haunting eyes had swam back into her thoughts.

She kept her cloak on, for even though she was inside, the ancient castle was always cold. The hood covered the distracted look of her face as she walked idly. Her eyes swept absentmindedly over the tapestries and portraits that hung on the dark-stone walls. She had passed them literally a million times over the years, walking down this corridor to the study.

Annaira blinked as she found herself standing before the study doors. The exquisite double-doors were nothing new to her, nothing to marvel over. She had seen them, and everything else in the castle, many times before.

Taking a deep breath and clearing her mind, she grasped the brass doorknob. Opening the door with ease, she stepped through the wide doorway and into the study.

Annaira put on a smirk as she looked around the dark room. It was a large and circular, more of a library than a study. Iron-staircases ten feet to the right and left of the doors curved up to a second level. The tower walls were stone, but could not be seen behind the floor-to-ceiling bookcases. A black rug covered the middle of the room, where a cluster of tables and armchairs sat. Straight ahead was a massive ebony desk, and behind it an equally large fireplace.

However, the current state of the study reflected the mood of its owner. Large gaps in the bookcases indicated where hundreds of books had been taken down. Most of these books, old and new, where now strewn across the floor in all directions. The books had probably been set on the various tables that now lay on their sides amidst the broken and toppled chairs. Mixing with the books were various pieces of parchment, maps, and the candles and lanterns that had once sat atop and above the tables.

Annaira's scanning eyes settled on the small table next to the doors. On it lay a creamy envelope. Smirk still in place, she picked it up and began to cross the room. She sauntered slowly through the mess, easily avoiding the scattered items. Hood still up and smirk still in place, she stopped just in front of the paper-strewn desk.

She stared unblinkingly at the high-backed leather chair behind the desk. It appeared to be empty, but still she stared. Growing impatient, she tapped a finger on the desk.

"I know all your tricks, you might as well show yourself."

All was silent. There was no sound of breathing, no rustling of clothes, only the faint sound of rain pounding against the roof high above.

Letting out a sigh of annoyance, she rolled her glowing eyes.

"Something in here scared the messenger, and I highly doubt it was your precious darkness"

Silence rang for another moment, until a smooth voice growled out, "Well, the boy was an imbecile." Annaira's smirk grew as shadows peeled away to reveal deep blue eyes that met her own mocking gaze with a cold glare.

They continued their stare for a moment before the chair swiveled and the eyes rose. The shadows surrounding the chair turned to mist as a slender figure stepped out from within them. Shadows trailed behind as he walked to the fireplace, threatening to engulf him again. With a flick of his hand they disappeared all together.

Annaira followed the figure as he moved, training her gaze on his turned back. He had stopped and was now standing unmoving in front of the fireplace, hands clasped behind his back. His head was bent as he stared into the empty hearth.

Pulling her hood off and brushing back her wet hair, Annaira moved silently around the desk. She settled herself in the leather chair, crossing her legs and letting the cloak fall away from her body.

"I see you're having some trouble," Annaira said, smirk translating into her voice. Still the figure didn't move. Glowering, she continued prodding. "What're you searching for now? Or rather, who?"

"You know who!" The voice growled, still low and dark.

Her smirk faded at his tone. "I thought you'd given up on her."

She heard a soft sigh as the man shook his head. Turning around, he fixed his hard gaze on her once more. A frown adorned his narrow face, regal features lessened slightly. Dark hair fell in strands across his eyes, though the silky-locks were normally pushed further back.

"I did. That was before I received a report of her."

Annaira lowered her gaze, struggling to clear her mind of its thoughts. Silence took over for another few minutes. She could feel the blue-eyes boring into her. Finally she looked up, smirk in place once more, eyes dancing with amusement.

"I see you have yet to read your letter." She let her syllables ring in a way that annoyed the man, brandishing the thin envelope between two long fingers.

He continued to stare unblinkingly at her, completely unchanging. Slowly his eyes narrowed. With an aggravated sigh he bowed his head, pale fingers massaging his temple.

Waving a hand absently at her, he began to pace. "Go ahead, let's hear it."

She let her eyes follow his form back and forth before shaking her head. Brushing aside papers and books scattered atop the desk, she lifted the silver envelope-cutter. With one swift motion she opened the envelope and pulled out the note.

Her eyes quickly scanned the small piece of paper before she sighed. "He's going to love this," she muttered, barely audible.

"What's that?" Annaira stiffened as the pacing stopped.

"I said, it says this." Lightly clearing her throat, she continued.


We regret having to bother you during your requested break. Certain recent events demand your attention. As predicted, the Flock was here. We could not capture them. They freed all of the specimens." Annaira paused, reading the next part in a hushed tone. "A has escaped."

The soft pacing stopped suddenly. Looking up, Annaira found the gaze boring into her once more. Noxnoctis had let his hands drop to his sides, where they had clenched into fists. His eyes, still staring, danced with anger. He was trembling.

"What!" Annaira flinched as he roared, sweeping a hand out to knock a globe over. Before she could blink an eye he had moved to the desk, knocked everything off it's massive top, and was leaning over it towards her.

"What do you know of this?" He hissed. His eyes swirled with madness, flicking endlessly across her face.

Knowing that he was attempting to read her actions, Annaira didn't let her alarm show. She gazed coolly at his trembling form, shrugging her thin shoulders beneath the heavy cloak.

"Nothing. I was just at the Institute three hours ago, and my inspection was fine." She kept her eyes steady as Noxnoctis glared at her. Seeming pleased, he pushed himself off the desk.

Annaira watched with worry as he turned his back to her, burying his head in his hands. He stood like that, muttering to himself, for quite some time. Slowly standing, Annaira moved behind him.

"Shall we go back?" She kept her voice soft, worry still etched into her features.

After a moment his head lifted, muttering stopped. "Go back? Yes, I suppose we should. Of course." Annaira jumped slightly as he turned around, but the sight of his unfocused eyes worried her further.

"Nox? Are, are you okay?"

His eyes drifted absently towards her. As she reached out a hand, they followed. Only when she had touched his hand did he regain recognition. Annaira flinched unnoticeably as he jerked away, eyes returning to their hard stare.

"Well, are we leaving anytime soon?" His voice was impatient, cruel. That was Noxnoctis.

Letting her smirk drift back into place, she turned around and began to walk towards the doors.

"Where are you going!"

"Incase you haven't noticed, I am dripping wet and in need of grooming. A wet corset makes a camper damp. You might do well to clean up, too. We're higher than they, are we not?" As she slipped out the door, the smirk on her face was actually genuine, not a fake. She loved it when Nox made that impatient noise. Cross between a strangled chicken and dying elephant, he only made it a few times a decade. Content and having forgotten about the haunted eyes, she hummed to herself as she walked through the dark castle.

An hour and forty-three impatient raps on her door later, Annaira emerged from her room. A brilliant smile allowed her fangs to fully show, glowing white against crimson lips. Perfectly dry and in new clothes, she was more than ready.

"Well, are you ready?" Smile turning to a smirk she stopped next to the glowering Noxnoxtis. His hair was combed back, silken shirt fully buttoned, and eyes glimmering with hatred. Lovely.

"You look pretty. But we're the wings? They make such a lovely impression on the white-coats." Annaira teased.

Still he glared.

Sighing, she rolled her eyes.

"Alright, fine, let's be off then. I'm dry, I'm dressed, I look gorgeous. Just one more thing…" Her eyes help a flash of hope as she stared up at her glowering partner.

After a hard moment of glaring, he muttered darkly. "You know I hate blondes."

Annaira let her eyes shift downwards. Yes, she knew. Lightly taking his hand, she mumbled the words of departure, and they disappeared.

Christopher woke up to dark voices, feinting as he saw shadows engulf his master and the woman far down the corridor.

Was it boring? Pretty good? Absolutely spectacular? Too many details? Not enough? Tell me, a writer always has room to improve! Just pretend you're my editor...my very evil, yet kind, editor. Yesh...

7. Act Seven

Finally, I wrote chapte seven! Took me a while to write it...dunno why, it's not that long. You might be happy to know that this is the last chapter before we finally get back to Lux and Kitty, and the Flock, and start figuring out all the random mysteries! Yippee! So, here it is, enjoy!

Chapter Seven

Annaira gasped as she opened her eyes, struggling to remain conscious. Her eyes danced frantically around her in an attempt to find Noxnoctis. A thick wall of heavy shadows pressed in around her, obscuring her view. Only a small trace of her own silver essence floated within the in-between world.

Slowly she fought off the fog that had tangled in her mind, breaking free from the shadows that were suffocating her body. Taking a deep breath of dark air, she scanned the infinite span of shadows again. There was still no sign of Noxnoctis.

"Nox!" She called out with her soul. "Nox, where are you?"

A soft pulse emanated to her left. Her silver wisps, which had been lazily floating around, began to slowly drift towards the area. Annaira desperately tried to keep them there, searching, but the pulse had faded away.

"Nox, I need you to stay here. Try to call out again."

A moment later, the pulse came again, vibrating the shadows. The silver wisps gathered, surging forward. After a moment of feeling nothing, another consciousness brushed against her being. Annaira held it there, brow furrowing in concentration. Linking herself to Nox's presence, she managed to wheeze out their destination.

The white void came slowly, battling off the shadows that threatened to engulf it. Annaira barely managed to push herself forward towards it. With a surge of strength and determination, she flung herself through the void, Noxnoctis' being trailing close behind.

Minutes later, Annaira's still chest heaved with a spluttering breath. A series of coughs forced her to roll to her side as her body forced out the constricting shadows. Suddenly her entire being went rigid, relaxing slowly as the shadows left her.

Her breathing returned to normal after one last spluttering breath. Opening her eyes, she blinked as a white wall came into view, bright light glaring against it. White and grey linoleum felt cool against her fingers. Down the long hallway she could hear the hum of computers, along with muffled voices. She was definitely at the Institute.

Where's Nox?

Blinking again, she rolled onto her side. The bright light from the ceiling was suddenly obscured as a figure came into view. It took a moment before she could focus on the figure. A sigh escaped her lips as she realized who it was.

"Nox," She breathed out.

Noxnoctis was crouching at her side, dark and menacing as ever. His deep eyes were hard, face set into a scowl. Between his elegant fingers he held a mass of shadows. They tugged and writhed in his grasp, but he held them firmly.

"They followed us out. Tried to escape into you when the light hit them." His voice was low and cool.

Annaira nodded in recognition as she sat up. A dull headache reminded her of the shadow's presence, but she pushed it from her feeling. Her body ached with the strain of the transportation. Inwardly she groaned, cursing herself. Transporting two people was hard enough, but doing it with someone as emotionally heavy as Nox had been was suicide.

"Are you okay?" He only asked out of necessity, for his voice was cold as ever.

Again Annaira nodded.

"Good. We should move ahead now. I can hear Batchelder's sorry voice," Noxnoctis sneered.

Annaira blinked one last time, pushing herself into a standing position. Consciously she straightened her skirt and tugged her corset into place, running a hand through her long hair.

After taking a sigh, she said, "Let's go."

As she began to walk forward, Noxnoctis slowly stood. With a flick of his fingers he let the captive shadows free from his grasp. Another flick and he had directed the shadows safely behind them. They floated for a moment before melding with the other shadows that formed his black wings.

Light smirk flitting onto his face, Noxnoctis moved forward, dark wings drifting eerily behind him.

Jeb stood glaring at the pitiful group surrounding him. As requested, the scientists and Erasers had gathered after fifteen minutes to report back to him. It had taken another twenty before anyone was smart enough to check in Lab X for their absent leader.

The Eraser who had ventured in to look for him had been very surprised. Jeb Batchelder was spread out on the floor of the Holding Room, and the room was completely dark. The Eraser had then proceeded to poke his leader until he awoke. Needless to say, Jeb had not been happy been he finally regained consciousness.

He sneered as his eyes drifted across the unlucky Eraser, who at the moment was holding his injured arm. Jeb let his gaze drift back to the scientist who was timidly giving her status report. Her voice trembling, she concluded her non-informative report.

All was silent as the group waited for Jeb to speak. He let the silence continue, enjoying the nervousness and fear coming from the group. He fixed every one of the workers with a cold gaze, eyes flickering with cruel amusement when one of them flinched.

"Has the Supplier been notified?" He made sure to keep his voice low and harsh.

No one spoke, until an Eraser sighed and stepped forward.

"Sir, Nobs went to send a message earlier."

Jeb let his gaze land on this particular Eraser.

"And was Nobs going to say anything about A?" His voice was cruel and mocking.

The Eraser flinched under his gaze, fidgeting for a moment. He was about to answer when a voice rang from behind the group.

"Nobs did indeed inform me of A's escape." The dark voice sent chills through the groups' bodies, ringing cold and cruel, rivaling even Jeb.

Slowly they all turned, eyes widening slightly at the sight.

Standing ten feet away was a tall, slender man. He could not have been a day over twenty and yet he spoke with such power, held himself with a regal might. His eyes were a deep, rich blue, filled with hard wisdom and cold command. With elegant facial features and flawless skin, his beauty surpassed that of the highest Erasers.

Equally as beautiful was the woman standing at his side. She wielded the same dark might, yet somehow seemed softer. Perhaps it was the fact that, even with high-heels, she only reached the mans shoulders. More likely, it was her eyes. They were wide and perfect in shape, a glimmering swirl of purest silver and grey.

Jeb was left staring only for a moment. The surprise and awe fled from his face, replaced with an irritated look.

"And who exactly are you?"

To his dismay, the man chuckled darkly. Amusement flashed in his eyes. The woman next to him smirked slightly, tilting her head to fix Jeb with a cat-like gaze.

"Why, Jebediah, I know we've never properly met, but surely you realize who I am?" The man too tilted his head.

Jeb let his eyes narrow in suspicion. The man met his own cold gaze with mocking eyes, smirk widening. Jeb was the only one who did not cringe as the smirk grew to reveal a pointed fang.

Breaking eye contact with the stranger, Jeb turned towards his group. He had to clear his throat before anyone tore their gaze from the mysterious strangers.

"Well, that concludes our meeting. I want trackers sent out immediately, round up anything you can find. The Flock can be attended to later. Here I want security tightened, and all computers scanned for intruders. Do I make myself clear?" His group nodded. "You may go."

The group slowly went to their tasks, muttering as they left the hallway. Almost all of them chanced one last look behind them before they rounded the corner, trying one last time to figure out if the man had wings on his back. They certainly appeared to be wings.

Jeb glared as the last Eraser lingered at the corner. When he had disappeared, Jeb turned his attention once more to the strangers. Neither man, or woman, said anything for a long moment.

"Are you not going to invite us to your office?" The man's voice was mocking.

Inside Jeb was furious. How dare this man mock him! Still, he knew he had to comply. Without a word he turned around, marching down the hallway. There was no sound of footsteps following. Turning his head to glance behind, he found that the two were walking steadily. The woman's heels didn't even make a sound.

They continued like that, in utter silence, for quite a time. After traveling further underground, where the lighting was sparse and shadows prevalent, Jeb stopped before a wooden door. He smirked to himself as he slipped an antique key into the brass keyhole, eyes dancing over the dark wood. Surely the two strangers would be in awe of the beautiful door, and even gasp at the study beyond. As he walked through the door and across the small study, he wished that he could see the strangers' faces.

Fortunately he didn't see that the Annaira and Noxnoctis walked through the 'small' doorway without so much as glancing at the door. Noxnoctis almost sneered in disgust at the sight of the study. Small, very light, and quite plain.

Jeb seated himself behind a neat wooden desk, motioning for the others to sit down. With looks of distaste, they settled into the faux-leather armchairs. Still they managed to keep their air of elegance.

"So. Who are you, and what do you want?" Jeb fixed the man, who was clearly in charge, with a hard gaze.

Once more he was disgruntled to find the man smirking, eyes dancing with the cruel amusement.

"Jeb, I really thought you would have figured this out by now. Tsk, tsk, very disappointing."

Jeb's pride flared up inside him, eyes practically flaming with rage. He opened his mouth to speak, but was beaten to it by the man.

"Well, if you don't recognize me, then perhaps my partner will be of more familiarity. She's the inspector often sent to the Higher Living facilities."

Once more Jeb let his eyes narrow as he studied the slight woman. Whenever inspections were done, he usually let his lead scientists give the reports. He himself had only met with the inspector once. She had indeed been a woman, but she had always worn a hooded cloak. The scientists had once told him that her eyes were silver.

His narrowed eyes widened slightly. The inspector was sent, not by the government, or even the Director, but by the most important person to the Higher Living's survival; the Supplier.

Jeb turned his gaze from the woman to the man. He was now leaning back in the chair, legs crossed, gazing unblinkingly at Jeb. His eyes were cold.

"You have some explaining to do, Jebediah."

Jeb found himself flinching at the words. Jeb Batchelder, of the Life Team, Lead Director for the Higher Living, emotionless leader of a horrible attempt to twist life, found himself suddenly afraid under the gaze of the Supplier.

"Sir, I assure you that everything is under control. The experiments will soon be located, they can't have gotten far, and…" Jeb found himself stopping as Noxnoctis leaned forward, gaze silencing him.

"I don't care about the experiments. I don't care, because if they're discovered, then that's your problem. What I care about is the Flock, and Luxlucious." He spoke with a low hiss, so dark that a shudder ran down Jeb's spine. He didn't notice as one of the lights flickered out.

"I realize where your priorities lie, but you must have some care about the other experiments. After all, if they're found, the authorities will be able to trace all our funding back to you." Jeb felt his pride come back for a moment. He was right, after all.

Noxnoctis chuckled darkly.

"No, Jebediah, that will fall squarely on your shoulders. Your are the Head, after all." The amusement faded from his eyes, face suddenly shadowed with seriousness.

"Now, back to my point. The Flock and Luxlucious are, from this moment on, our main concerns. We already know the Flock's potential, and surely by now you've realized Luxlucious' importance," Nox paused only for a moment before continuing, "I know how the Flock managed to escape, considering they always do. What about Luxlucious? How on Earth did you manage to let him escape!"

Noxnoctis was leaning over the desk now, one fist inches from Jeb's hand where it had slammed down. His eyes flickered with fury. This time Jeb took notice as three lights went out, partially shrouding the room in darkness.

"I don't know how it happened…"

"Of course you don't know! But it did happen. That's the problem. He escaped."

Jeb watched in fright as the man paced back and forth before his desk, hands flailing wildly with each word. His eyes were wide, dancing with insanity, and fixed on Jeb.

This guy's a lunatic…

Jeb jumped as Noxnoctis leaned himself over the desk again. This time his arms swept over the surface, knocking everything off it. His face was inches from Jeb's.

"He escaped, and there's no possible way he could have. I put barriers around that cage myself!" Jeb could feel his breath against his face, cold and heavy.

"That was thirteen years ago. Perhaps they've broken…"

"My barriers don't break." Each word came in a growl, his face suddenly turning dark.

Jeb let himself nod. He let himself relax as Noxnoctis pushed himself off the desk, settling back into the armchair. Still, he prepared himself for another outburst.

"Now, what exactly happened before Luxlucious escaped?" Jeb's eyes narrowed slightly at the calmness of his voice. What was this man playing out?

Nevertheless, he recounted what had happened. He spoke of how Luxlucious had known something, of his disrespectful behavior. As he began to tell of the odd light, Nox flinched. When he described how Luxlucious had seemed to change, Nox's eyes widened. Then, very much immersed in his own story, Jeb recounted what Luxlucious had said and the impact it had had on him.

When his story was finished, the room fell silent. Jeb could not see Noxnoctis' expression, for his head was bent. The woman was leaning over the side of her chair, whispering silently in his ear. She jumped back when the man snapped at her, fixing her with a cold stare. Slightly hurt, she settled back into her chair.

Noxnoctis turned the hard gaze slowly to Jeb, glaring at him through half lidded eyes. Slowly he stood, keeping his gaze on Jeb.

"I trust that you're looking for Luxlucious?"

Jeb blinked. "Yes, of course. But how did he escape?"

By now the woman had stood too. Both dark figures were making their way towards the door. Nox stopped in mid step, turning around to answer darkly.

"Luxlucious has power, Jeb, power far surpassing that of the Flock at the moment. How do you think they've attained their power?" Giving him a questioning look, he turned around, reaching for the door.

"Wait!" Jeb stood up behind his desk, expression frantic. His head was swimming with questions he intended to have answered.

Nox stopped, though he did not turn around. "We'll be meeting again soon. We have a new mission, Jeb. A far greater mission."

Before he could protest, both figures had walked gracefully out of the study, closing the door behind them.

Outside of the study, both Annaira and Noxnoctis had stopped. Noxnoctis stood with his head bent, fists clenched at his sides. When Annaira touched his arm, he snapped his head up to look at her.

"Nox, try to calm yourself, okay? I don't want a repeat of the last transport." Her voice was half commanding, half pleading. Her eyes danced with worry.

She grew more and more concerned about him these days. He seemed to be having uncharacteristic outbursts more often each day. Now, with this…

Annaira quickly pushed the thought from her mind. It had to be done. He had to escape. It had to happen, for things to be set right. She had to do it.

"He's awake, Annaira. Do you know what that means?"

She sighed as his eyes grew frantic. "I know. Please, Nox, calm down."

She was relieved as his eyes softened, body relaxing as he shook himself out. Even the shadowy wings on his back seemed to relax. Closing his eyes, he nodded at her. Annaira breathed a sigh of relief as she took his arm, quietly muttering the words of departure.

Still a bit confusing? Anything I need to improve on? Please tell me, even if it's a tiny little thing! I always want to improve my writing...you guys can help!

8. Act Eight

Guess who's back? The Flock! Finally, they're back in the story!-grin- Thanks to those who've been pointing out the areas I need to work on. I really do appreciate it. I'm sorry if this chapter is a bit boreing. The next one might be too...gets better after that, though. Right, here's chapter eight!

Chapter Eight

"So, where are we going again?"

I smiled to myself as Fang sighed in annoyance. Glancing to my right, I saw him turn his head to glare to his right.

"For the fifteenth time, Nudge, we're going to Virginia!" Fang, Almighty-Master-of-Emotionless-Voices, growled out.

When Nudge didn't answer, he sighed with relief. Shaking his head, he turned his gaze straight ahead. We flew in peace for a moment, content with the breezy sound of the wind. Only for a moment, though.

"Are we there yet?" Yes, Nudge had asked the whopper, the one question that drove parents, and in this case Flock-mates, absolutely crazy.

Oh boy…

Chancing a glance at Fang, I found that he had turned a nice shade of red. His jaw was clenched, doing wonders for his teeth, and his body was shaking. He even missed a beat of his wings, dropping and inch or so.

"Fang, breath!" I hissed down at him. He took my advice. Poor Nudge…

Steadily he rose again. Steadily he turned his head towards Nudge. Steadily, he fixed her with a laser-death-glare.

"Nudge, we are going to Virginia. We left New York this morning. We're in New Jersey. We have four more states to go. Do you think we're there yet?"

"Sheesh, I was just asking. No need to get all mad at me." Rolling her eyes at him, she veered to her right. As she dropped out of our air current, I heard her mutter, "Someone needs a nap."

I distinctly heard Fang growl as, once more, he turned his gaze straight ahead. Our flight became peaceful again. It was nice, flying at this time of day. The setting sun cast pink and orange tints across the sky, allowing us to fly in a twighlighty-haze. With Nudge ten feet below us, the only sound was the rushing wind and our wing beats. I noted that Fang and I were pumping in perfect unison.

And I care why?

Blinking, I shook my head in an attempt to get rid of the thought. I seriously needed to do some thinking about Fang. After that day on the beach…and the kiss…

Again I shook my head. Time to get your mind off Fang, Max.

"Beautiful sunset…" So I talk to Fang. Good idea.

It's not like he was actually paying attention. Looking at him, I could tell he was thinking. Or silently cursing Nudge. Probably planning her ultimate doom. Whichever it was, his brow was furrowed and face set into a scowl over it. He did grunt at me though.

There's one absolute way to tell we've been flying for too long; Fang starts to get cranky, and shows it. When it gets to the point that he pondering every way to torture one of us, that definitely means we need a rest.

I couldn't really blame him. The past few days had been hectic, what with him nearly getting killed and all. Last night we had managed to get some sleep, but were up at the break of dawn when Iggy swore he heard an Eraser. We stopped once in a small town to get some food. Besides that, we've been in the air.

As if to confirm my decision, which she probably meant to, Angel fought her way into our current to fly next to me.

"I'm tired, Max. Total, too." The wriggling dog gave a bark.

I smiled at the angelic little girl. "Alright, just let me talk to Fang. We'll stop soon."


"Promise." With a giggle of delight she let herself drop down towards the rest of the Flock.

Turning to look at Fang, I found him already gazing coolly at me. He looked normal again. Well, as normal as you can get with wings and an emotionless face. Fang normal.

"Stopping soon?"

"Thinking about it. What do you say?" Fang would know what to do.

He seemed to think for a moment. His eyes narrowed as he scanned the land miles below us. Finally, he looked back at me.

"See that area just ahead and below us? That's a city. By the time we reach it, it'll be dark. Coming in on the right side will be directly entering the outskirts, avoiding any housing developments."

I followed the direction of his pointed finger. Zooming in on the specific area, I could see that he was indeed right. We would be entering a part of the city comprised of only buildings, avoiding houses, and hopefully people. Fang always knew what to do. So why was I the leader?

Some are born as leaders, Max. Be thankful, you didn't have to earn the title.

"Great, Voice returned. I thought I had gotten rid of you," I thought bitterly.

The Voice chuckled darkly. At least, I think it did. It's hard to tell when it has no particular sound. Max, you know very well I can't leave you. What would you do without me?

"I can think of a few things…"

Listen closely, Max. In the city you have chosen to rest you will find something very important. Something important to your whole quest. Do not push it away. I know you may be suspicious, but you'll have to trust me.

"Do I have any other choice?"

It chuckled again. At the moment, no. Now, pay close attention.

I let out a strangled scream as pain raked my body. Images suddenly flooded my vision, remaining even when I closed my eyes. They flashed quickly across my mind, making it almost impossible to see them. I did try, though.

The unbearable pain suddenly stopped, the images disappearing. My Voice rang clear inside my head.

Remember, Max, for the path leads to your fate.

When I regained my senses, I was surprised. Instead of falling through the air, like I had expected to be, I was floating. The wind wasn't whistling nastily in my ears, but instead I could hear a steady beating.

Am I, am I dead? Panic overtook me at the thought. Had I fallen to my death? Was that what the Voice intended? Was my fate death!

Still in a panic, I opened my eyes. Nothing but black came into my vision. As I jumped, something held me in place.

"Max, are you awake?" I stopped flailing at the sound of Fang's voice.

Turning my head upwards, I found Fang looking worriedly down at me. With a sigh of relief I realized that I wasn't falling, Fang was carrying me. I had seen only black because my face was pressed against his chest. The beating wasn't my heart, it was his. I was so close that I could hear Fang's heart…

"Y-yeah. What happened?" I felt Fang stop moving. Wait, he stopped! Looking down, I saw a road. So we weren't flying, we were walking. Fang was walking, I was being carried. By Fang.

If it had been lighter, Fang would be smirking his butt off over my blush.

"Well, I assume you had one of your Voice attacks again, and you passed out. Iggy caught you as you passed him, but dropped you because he thought you were a giant killer-bird." I heard a snicker come behind me, from Gazzy, and a smack as Iggy hit him. Fang continued. "So after he dropped you, I was sent chasing after you again. I caught you, you didn't wake up, so we continued flying. We're in the city now."

I smiled slightly up at him. "You carried me the whole way?"

"No, Iggy and I took turns." For some reason I was disappointed by this. The thought of Fang carrying me the whole way seemed…romantic. Gosh, what am I thinking?


"Are you okay to walk?" Well, at least Fang sounded concerned. That was a plus.

Nodding, I let Fang carefully set me on my feet. I wobbled for a second, but he steadied me. Looking behind me, I saw that my wings had been folded and my coat was concealing them. The rest of the gang was standing behind us, looking tired and anxious.

"So, what'd the Voice have to say?" Fang had begun to walk again.

I sighed, shaking my head. "I'm not really sure. Something about this city being my fate. Showed me a bunch of stuff, too. Ooh, we take a right here."

I stopped as I said this. Fang had stopped a few inches behind me, fixing me with a questioning look.

"How'd you know that?"

"I don't know…I just do." I blinked, searching my mind for an answer. While searching I discovered a number of directions that needed to be taken. I realized that all of them were the flashes I couldn't see. Now I could. It was like the data had been downloaded into my brain…

"I know where to go."

Before anyone could protest, I started forward at a fast pace. I continued on like that for awhile, dashing around corners and tramping through alleyways, all in a sprint. The Flock ran behind me, silently accepting my sudden madness.

Panting, I turned into a narrow brick alleyway. Walking slowly down it, I came to a boarded-up door on my left. I was the last picture in my mind.

"This is it," I whispered, turning to the rest of the Flock. Angel and Gazzy were red in the face from the sprint, Nudge highly out of breathe, and Iggy clinging for dear life to the back of Fang's coat. Still, they nodded.

As I reached for the door, Fang lightly grabbed my wrist. I spun around to face him.

"Let me go in first. I don't trust your voice." His eyes were hard and commanding. I stepped aside.

Slowly, he pushed on the door. After a few tries it swung inward, nearly banging into the wall behind it. He stuck his head through the dark doorway. Before I could protest, he disappeared through it.

Stepping forward, I leaned through the dark doorway. "Fang?" I whispered.

"All clear." I jumped as Fang's face appeared inches in front of mine. I swore I saw him smile, then he disappeared again.

"C'mon, gang, we're going in." Silently we stepped through the doorway, Gazzy closing the door behind him.

Even with our keen eyesight, none of us could see a thing. I groped around for a minute, pulling the small forms of Angel and Gazzy towards me. I felt Iggy press against my back, and Nudge grasped my wrist. Still no sign of Fang.

All of a sudden I heard footsteps rushing towards us. They stopped a foot away from me, though I couldn't see who it was. I pulled Angel and Gazzy closer as I took a step backwards.

"Someone's here!" Came Fang's frantic whisper.

That couldn't be good.

Read, review, you know the drill. Dunno why I bother with this...

9. Act Nine

Bah, I'm sorry for taking so long with this chapter. I've had it written for ages, I just haven't gotten it up. Sorry! Anyway, please enjoy!

Chapter Nine

After Annaira disappeared, Lux had stood blinking only for a second. What on earth did she mean, the Flock would find him? A hard shiver against his chest had torn him from his thoughts, focusing on the matter at hand. Clutching Kitty closer to him, he had set forth at a running pace.

Lux had decided that though suspicious, Annaira's directions and word were all he had. Thus he had followed what she had said. Luckily the street was deserted and the night dark, for he kept his shining wings curled to shield Kitty. Most of the brick buildings he passed seemed old and vacant, leaving little chance to be seen. There had only been two lit windows to sneak past.

Following Annaira's directions had brought him to an alleyway. Forming the alleyway was a small bookstore to the right, and an ancient hotel to the left. The flickering street-light, one of the only ones that actually worked, cast a faint light into the alley. Without hesitating, Lux had slipped into the alley.

There had indeed been a boarded door. Pushing against it, he found it was unlocked. Slower than his trip to get there, he had entered the hotel. Making his way through the dark building had been hard; stairways were collapsed, entire rooms had fallen in, and debris blocked most of his attempted routes. Eventually he had found the room Annaira had prepared.

He had known it was the right room because a pale light flickered under the closed door. Opening the door, he found that the room was one of the only that still looked like a hotel room. It was very large, the presidential suite of its day. The décor indicated that it had once been very grand. Red and gold wallpaper was peeling off the walls, gold trimming chipped and faded. The carpet, once thick and black, was now ragged and nearing grey. The painting on the ceiling was faded, the gold chandelier hanging from only two wires.

To his relief, there was a bed. Though the dark wood was chipped and the silk blanket moth-eaten, the bed was a glorious sight to his tired eyes. He wasted no time in laying Kitty down, wrapping blankets around her, and curling himself to watch her. Weariness overcame him, and he fell asleep.

Now Luxlucious was sitting on the edge of the bed, cursing himself for falling asleep. He had meant to stay awake and keep watch. Keep and eye on Kitty, make sure she was safe. Instead he had fallen asleep, not just for a few hours, but a whole day! Yes, the sun's last rays were shining through the tattered curtains now, and the last time he was awake it had been night.

Sighing, Luxlucious opened his eyes. At least he had had a dreamless sleep. Whatever happened last night, it had completely drained his energy. Even now, after hours of deep slumber, his body and mind ached.

Slowly he stood, careful not to move any of the blankets and disturb Kitty. Once up he stretched his aching muscles, letting his wings unfold halfway. He grimaced as his left wing pulsed with a sudden burst of blood. There was a reason one never sleeps on their wing…

Refolding his wings, he scanned the room. The red-and-gold sunlight had by now completely disappeared, leaving the room in shadows. The candle that had been lit the previous night had long ago burnt out, but a streetlight outside the hotel allowed light into the room. Even this faded light illuminated the room through his enhanced eyes.

As Luxlucious crossed the room, he passed a small round table. The used candle sat in the middle of it, along with an assortment of packaged food and bottled water. A black rucksack hung off the side of one chair. Slung over both chairs were two coats; one long and the other short, both black. Luxlucious smirked to himself, running a finger over the longer coat. Annaira really had provided for them. Why?

Shaking his head at the thought, he continued his way across the room. He stopped in front of a gold-plated mirror. Tilting his head, he peered into the reflective surface. His face was pale, paler than he thought he was, and dark bags lurked beneath his eyes. His pale blonde hair was matted and lank, thanks to the rain. Yet still his eyes were shining eerily, white wings on his back almost glowing.

He glared at his reflection, having expected something different. Tearing his gaze from the mirror, he looked to the dresser below it. The dresser was made of dark wood, intricate designs etched into its surface. It was long, taking up half of the wall, and low to the ground.

Thinking for a moment, Luxlucious stooped down to pull open the top drawer. Annaira had left coats, so why not warm clothes? The first drawer held a comb, nothing more.. The second and third held nothing. Wistfully he pulled open the fourth, a smirk spreading onto his face as he did.

The entire drawer was a sea of black and blue. Slowly he pulled out a button-down black shirt, which he noted felt oddly like silk, black trousers, and black socks. Under these he was surprised to find more clothes; a short-sleeved shirt, black with cracked silver writing on it, and dark jeans.

He ran his hands almost lovingly over the new clothes. He had never had such clothes before. With a smile, he decided he needed to try them on.

Hurriedly he glanced back at Kitty. Or rather, he glanced back at the bed. All that could be seen from under the mass of tangled blankets was a swaying white tail and the top of a pointed ear. A soft purring could be heard. Kitty was fast asleep.

Turning back around, he hastily discarded the thin cotton shirt and pants, happy to trade his all white wardrobe to all black. He slipped into the dark blue jeans, savoring their sturdy material. Next came the short-sleeved shirt. It took a minute to get his wings through the large slits in the back, but he managed. He didn't bother with the socks; he had never worn socks or shoes before, why start now?

New clothes on, Luxlucious took a step back. He kept going until his whole body could be seen in the mirror. Pleased with his new look, he walked back over to the dresser. Now, for the rest of the clothes. Once more he turned around to check on Kitty; she was just as she had been. He pulled off the shirt with a bit of trouble, cringing as some of his feathers were pulled out. They fluttered slowly to the floor, along with the now discarded shirt.

As he began to wrestle with the button to his pants, a noise drifted to the room. His head snapped up at the sound of hushed voices. He stood motionless, listening, until a thud resounded through the air. Slowly he crept to the door. Again came the voices, along with footsteps inside the building.

A single pair of footsteps began coming closer to his room. Lightly turning the handle, he slowly opened the door. It was almost fully open when it gave a loud creak. He cringed, keeping absolutely still. The footsteps stopped, then began retreating quickly.

He glanced back at Kitty as he closed the door. Silently he began pursuing the footsteps. He cursed as the footsteps stopped again. Now where had the person gone?

"Someone's here!" Luxlucious smirked. There was his answer.

Slowly he crept forward, tracking the source of the hushed voice. It was coming from just beyond the bend in the hallway, where the front door was. Taking a deep breathe, Luxlucious peeked around the corner.

His eyes widened at the sight. It was a group of kids, six of them to be exact. The oldest looked to be three or four years younger than him. One of the group, a male, was standing with his back to Luxlucious. On his back was a pair of dark wings.

"They found me," he muttered, so quiet nobody heard. Inside he chuckled. He would have to thank Annaira someday.

Making a spontaneous decision, he stepped forward. The oldest girl's eyes widened at his appearance.

"Can I help you?" His voice came out colder than he intended. Oh well.

10. Act Ten

I know, I know, this chapter took forever to get up. Honestly, I have up to eighteen written. I just happen to have this on the Maximum Ride website also, so when I update there I often forget to update here too. I'm terrible...-smacks self- I'm ImmeritusNoxnoctis on the MaxRide website, incase you cared. Right, I'll let you get to the chapter...

P.S. I changed the name for the story. Normally I don't come up with a decent title for a story until I'm halfway through it and inspiration strikes. So was the case for this story. The reason for the title is in the next chapter...I think...

Chapter Ten

I squinted my eyes in a desperate attempt to see Fang, even if it made me look like a complete idiot. I let out the breath I wasn't aware I was holding as a faint light lit up his figure. Even though I couldn't see his face, it was still good to know he was there.

Wait, light!

Slowly I shifted my gaze from Fang's form. As I did, I was aware of the fact that my eye's were growing to an abnormal size. I probably looked like an imbecile as I gazed back at the glowing eyes behind Fang. Hey, you'd be staring too! It's not often you see a pair of sinister, glowing eyes directly behind the man you…never mind…

The owner of the eyes must have seen me, because a smirk suddenly spread onto his face. Yeah, I could see his face. The same light that was illuminating Fang was shining on this guy. The light was soft and very faint, casting shadows over part of his face and body. It only shone around him.

"Can I help you?"

My widened eyes narrowed at his cold tone. Glowing eyes, smirk, cold voice. I didn't think this guy was our friend.

Fang jumped and spun around. He took a step backwards, lightly grasping my hand as he did. For a moment my attention was turned downwards, staring dumbly at our hands. That is, until Fang let it go.

"Who are you and what do you want," Fang growled, keeping his voice low.

The smirk disappeared from the guy's face, replaced by a more serious look. Like I said, most of his face was shadowed, so don't take my word. I could see his mouth, and most everything beneath his cheekbones, but the top half of his face was dark. Except for his eyes. Weird, really.

We all flinched as the guy shifted his weight. I caught a flash of white as he did, then he was back in the shadows.

"Who I am is, at the moment, none of your concern. As for what I want, nothing with you. I heard someone in the building, and I went to investigate. Just as you would do."

Slowly I took a step backwards, pushing Angel and Gazzy behind me. Iggy was already inching towards the door, groping in the darkness for the handle. We were all prepared to run.

Well, almost all of us. Fang remained right where he was, eyes narrowed, sizing up the situation. I could tell he was, because he remained perfectly still in that I'm-dark-and-intelligent kind of way.

Just as I was about to step forward to stand next to him, he spoke.

"We were just leaving. If you don't bother us, we won't bother you." He turned towards me, though I couldn't see his face, and made his way to the door. I made sure to keep my eyes on the other guy. Just to make sure Fang was safe.

The guy was quiet for a moment. Finally he sighed, speaking afterwards in an airy tone. "As you wish."

As he turned to leave, my eyes widened again. I'm sure Nudge, Gazzy, and Angel's did, too, because all of them gasped. Hearing their gasps, Fang turned around. I'm sure his eyes just narrowed.

On the guy's back was a pair of huge, white wings. That flash of white I had seen had been one of the shining, pure white feathers. The weird light around the guy? It glimmered all around him, but was at it's strongest in his feathers.

We all watched, dumbfounded, as the faint light disappeared around the corner. We could hear faint footsteps retreating down the hall. Three white feathers were just visible where the guy had stood…

Quickly I turned to Fang. I couldn't see, but his eyes were on the feathers, brow furrowed in concentration. Before I could say anything, however, I felt a tug on my sleeve.

"Max, did he have wings?" Gazzy was staring up at me with big, question-filled blue eyes.

"Well, duh, of course he had wings! What d'you think they were?" That's Nudge for you. I cast a warning glance down at the girl. Not that she could see me.

Again, I turned to Fang. Now his eyes were on me.

"So, what do you think?" He remained silent. I heard a soft rustle as he shifted his weight. Still silence.

Then, making us all jump, came the guy's voice. "You're welcome to follow. You can rest and eat."

The footsteps started to retreat again. I jumped as Fang touched my hand. I could feel his gaze boring into me, along with four others from behind. None of them could actually see me, I know, but I still knew their attention was on me.

"Are we following?" I closed my eyes as Fang asked. Sometimes it is tiring, being the leader. It's a nice break when Fang makes the decisions. Guess I should face up to my calling.

Like my Voice said, some are born as leaders.

My Voice also said I'd find something important here. Suppose it was talking about a person? Suppose I'm just crazy? Do I really have a choice?

Sighing, I shook my head. "Let's go."

"You sure?" Fang's hand was on my arm now, in a comforting sort of way.

"No. Is anyone?" Reaching behind me I grabbed Nudge's hand, who in turn grabbed Gazzy's, who grabbed Angel's, who grabbed Iggy's. Fang remained at my side, though he had let go of my arm.

We continued through the hallways that way. All the while I kept my eyes on the faint light. It was far ahead of us, disappearing around corners at points and forcing us to search for it. We couldn't hear the footsteps anymore.

The light had disappeared around a corner again. As we turned the same corner, we stopped. There was nothing but a long, dark hallway. After exchanging worried glances, we continued forward. Well, I continued, and the others followed. I think by now they thought I was utterly mad.

As we walked along the hallway, I was aware of the doors that we passed. Most of them were open, revealing rooms far beyond repair and livability. Halfway down the hallway, however, we came to a door that was closed. A faint light glowed beneath the door.

"I'll go in first, kay? Wait until I clear it." I looked back at the others, who I could faintly see. They nodded. I looked up at Fang, for reassurance. He nodded too.

Taking a deep breath, I grasped the doorknob. With a small push and a creak, the door opened.

Cautiously I stepped through the doorway. I took in my surroundings with interest. It was a large room, obviously very old, but still charming. To the left I saw a large dresser next to a wash-basin. To the right was a large bed, blankets tangled in a lump on the mattress. Something white and fluffy was dangling from beneath the covers.

A movement brought my attention to the middle of the room. There was a small, round table, covered with various items. Food, water, matches, candles. Coats were draped over the chairs, along with a rucksack. Standing next to the table was the man.

My eyes lingered a little longer than intended on him, studying him. He was taller than Fang, perhaps taller than Iggy, and appeared to be about seventeen He looked like he had been through a lot recently; his skin was deathly pale, face tired and gaunt. Tangled, pale blonde hair hung limply around his face. Yet his eyes shone bright and alive, glowing just as brilliantly as the wings on his back.

With a slight blush I noted that he was wearing a pair of dark, fitted jeans. Only a pair of jeans. So, basically, I got a good look at his lean, slightly muscled body. Shifting my gaze down, I saw he had no socks or shoes on. Odd.

I jumped as Fang brushed against my side. He cast a suspicious gaze over the room and over the new guy. He kept his eyes trained on him, narrowed, as he spoke.

"Who are you?"

The guy looked equally as serious, though his eyes were not narrowed. "Luxlucious. You are?"

"Fang. Where'd you come from?"

"The Institute. You?"

Fang's eyes narrowed further. "We were just at the Institute. We didn't see you. How'd you escape?"

Luxlucious paused, sighing. "You didn't pass by my Lab. I had someone else help me escape. She told me I needed to find the Flock. You didn't answer my question."

Fang kept silent. I was vaguely aware of the fact that Angel had slipped into the room, along with Gazzy and Nudge.

Since Fang didn't seem like he was going to answer anytime soon, I took a step forward.

"Who was she?" Lux's eyes moved quickly to me.

"Her name was Annaira. I don't know exactly who she was. You still haven't answered my question."

Persistent, isn't he? "We're from a place called the School. We escaped a few years back. With some help, that is."

Luxlucious nodded in understanding. "I've heard of it. And you." At this point he smirked. "You've caused Jeb a lot of worry."

I was alarmed by his answer. He knew Jeb?

Well, duh, Jeb was at the Institute too. But how long has he been there?

Before I could say anything, though, another voice interrupted.

"Max, it's a kitty!" Angel giggled.

Angel, Gazzy, and Nudge stood next to the bed. All three were crowded around Total, whom they had followed into the room. The little dog was yipping and batting at whatever hung down from the bed. Suddenly a frantic mewing started from under the covers, and whatever was under it moved backwards. The dangling thing, a tail, moved slowly out of sight.

"Hey, get away from there!" My attention snapped to Luxlucious as he shouted at the three kids. Eyes wide in alarm they took a step back, Total retreating behind them. Fang and I both rushed forward as Luxlucious moved towards the bed. We stopped, however, when he instead sat on the bed.

Our eyes widened slightly as he slowly untangled the blankets, pulling them off of whatever was under them. Or rather, whoever.

Under the blankets sat a girl, a little younger than me, but much smaller. Her skin was as pale as Luxlucious', round face just as tired. She stared at us with large, brilliant emerald eyes, blinking in surprise. Her hair was a tangled mass of white and silver. Poking out from under the mess were two large, furry, white cat-ears. The same silky fur crept in a single line along her jaw, down the sides of her neck, down her arms, and along each claw-tipped finger.

The girl's mewing stopped as Luxlucious pulled her into a hug. A soft purring filled the room as she grew content. Her fluffy tail flicked happily.

"Lux…" I jumped as the relief-filled voice resounded in my head. So did everyone else, who had slowly inched towards Fang and I.

Luxlucious kissed the top of the girl's head before looking up at us. A warm smile was on his face, eyes soft and friendly.

"I suppose I should explain…"

Read, review, you know the drill. I like compliments, though constructive critisism is very much needed. Grazi!

11. Act Eleven

Chapter Eleven

Annaira sighed, taking a step backwards. Head tilted and eyes glittering, she studied her recent masterpiece. She noted that the bottom of the waterfall needed a bit more work, and the flowers were too blue. Nothing a bit of mixing couldn't fix.

A faint smile flitted onto her face as she studied the painted landscape. It wasn't that she thought her work was good. No, Annaira wasn't arrogant. It was the fact that the painting, which she had been working on for the past month, looked exactly as she remembered the actual spot.

Nodding to herself, she pulled away from the dream-like thoughts that threatened to attack. She stepped closer to the easel, reaching next to it to swirl her current paintbrush in the glass of water she kept handy. Wiping it on her white smock, she prepared to dip it into the blue paint, sighing when she realized she had used it all.

"It's always blue. Why's it always blue," She muttered darkly. Carefully she set down her brush, wiping her pain-smeared hands on her smock.

Still muttering, she made her way across the room. She had set this room up specifically for painting. It was fairly large, made completely of aged stone. Six floor-to-ceiling windows on the back wall let in amazing amounts of sunlight, giving a magnificent view of the mountains and valleys beyond the castle.

She kept the room tidy, or as tidy as an inspired artist can anyway. Easels stood ready and equipped in various places around the room. Various small tables were scattered with brushes, paint tubes, papers, pencils, opened books, and trays. Her current easel was positioned against the right wall, next to a long and narrow table piled with tools.

Against the left wall, just next to the windows, was a large wooden cabinet. It was perhaps the only organized thing in the whole room, constantly stocked with art supplies. It was bound to have a new tube of sky-blue paint.

Before she could reach the cabinet, however, she heard a faint noise. Stopping, she turned towards the door, listening. Light footsteps were hurrying towards the room. They stopped just in front of the art-room. After a moment, a rap came on the door.

Expecting the knock, Annaira was already standing at the door. The knock wasn't even finished when she opened the door. Standing there was the small messenger-boy. He stared up at her with fearful eyes.

"Yes?" She asked, arching an eyebrow.

He stared up at her for a moment longer, mouth agape. Finally realizing she had spoken, he blinked.

"Miss, the m-master requests your presence in the s-study." The boy was fidgeting now, casting his eyes everywhere besides Annaira.

She snorted, rolling her eyes. "Calls himself master now, does he? Oh well, I suppose it's something important."

She turned her back to the boy, muttering to herself as she walked further into the room. Pulling off her smock she set it on the nearest table. Quickly she rinsed her hands in the wash-basin against the left wall. She chanced a glance at the mirror next to the basin, grimacing as she did so. Her hair, which was pulled into a bun, was falling every which way into her face. Flecks of paint were splattered on her face, smeared where she had wiped her forehead. She had been chewing on her lips again, so it sported a nice cut. Brilliant.

"Not like he even pays attention..." Sighing, she turned to leave the room. She stopped at the sight of the messenger studying her recent painting.

"And what, pray tell, are you doing?" The boy whirled around, blinking in fear as she stared at him.

"I, um, w-would you like me to tell the master you're coming?" He gave a feeble smile. Annaira smile knowingly back at him.

"No, no. There's no reason for you to get your head torn off. I suppose he's in a horrid mood." The boy hesitated, then nodded. "Right, well, lets be off then. C'mon, shoo shoo!" The boy, still smiling, quickened his pace as she batted him out of the room.

Once in the corridor, the boy walked beside her, hurrying to keep her pace.

"That was a pretty picture."

"It's a painting, but thank you anyway."

"Oh." He went silent, frowning a bit. Within seconds he was staring back up at her with curiosity. Little boys… "Who were the four people? One of 'em looked like you. 'Cept you're prettier." Annaira couldn't help but laugh at his remark. Looking coyly down at him, she rustled his hair.

"Curious little thing, aren't you? Yes, I suppose one of them did look like me. Now, run along, we're nearly to the study. I suggest you keep out of the 'masters' way." She rolled her eyes at the thought.

Smiling, the little boy nodded, running off. Halfway down the corridor, however, he stopped to shout back at her.

"The wings were pretty, too! Especially yours." Annaira stopped only for a moment, smiling lightly to herself. At the sound of his retreating footsteps she continued on.

Clearing her face of emotion, she slipped silently into the study. It was in the same condition as yesterday, if not worse. She had wanted to come in and tidy it up, but Nox hadn't allowed it. As soon as they had arrived in the castle last night, Nox dashed off and locked himself in the study. Men…

Carefully she picked her way through the mess. It was a bit easier today, for most of the lanterns were lit. They gave the room an odd orange tinge.

Annaira dropped herself into a plump armchair in front of the desk. She picked at the dried paint on her jeans for a moment, waiting for Nox to speak. He was standing with his back to her, glaring into the fireplace. That seemed to be his favorite pastime lately.

"We're meeting with Batchelder." He didn't turn around.

"Mm, are we? Where?"

"The Institute. I have questions for him."

Annaira sighed, turning her gaze to him. "Why are we even including him in this? Both Lux and the Flock are out of his hands, now. He obviously hasn't been doing his job. First he let the Flock get away, and now Lux. What's the point?"

Hissing, Noxnoctis whipped around to face her. His eyes burned with madness, dark bags beneath them evidence of his long hours without sleep.

"Incase you've forgotten, which I'm sure you have, Batchelder an advantage on the Flock; he has the chip." Annaira cringed. She hadn't forgotten about the chip. "Therefore, we need to keep him thinking he has a part in this. Perhaps we've let him keep the Flock and Luxlucious contained for too long, but that's something we can't change."

Annaira watched Noxnoctis as he paced back and forth, eyes unfocused. He was talking more to himself then to her.

"We'll let him believe he's the master in this for a bit longer. Let him think this is all one big experiment, all one test for the Flock. Until we can find them again." It fell silent as he stopped both pacing and talking. Annaira fidgeted slightly in her seat.

"Do you think he's remembered?"

Nox glanced at her, looking away just as quickly. He didn't answer.

"If he has remembered, he'll go looking for Ciel." She knew he didn't remember anything. He most likely wouldn't. Unless she, Nox, or Ciel broke the Vow.

"Perhaps he's already found her. Perhaps she's the one who helped him escape…" Nox seemed to ponder this for a moment before turning quickly to her. Swiftly he moved towards her, grabbed her wrist, and yanked her from her chair.

"Ow, what the heck Nox!" He dragged her through the mess of the study and out into the corridor. Only then did he release his tight grip on her wrist, instead grabbing her hand.

"We're going to the Institute now. If she's helped him, then she's likely to know where the Flock is. All the reports of her have been in the same area as the Flock. We're going to find them."

Annaira blinked, wondering what she had gotten herself into. Sighing, she attempted to pull herself out of his grasp.

"I need to change. A t-shirt and jeans won't do to impress. Nox, let go!"

Nox's grip tightened. He glared darkly down at her. Annaira shrank away from his gaze, casting her gaze to the ground.

Fully prepared for a rough transport, she muttered the words of departure.

12. Act Twelve

Chapter Twelve

"Kitty's deaf."

I nodded in understanding. I'm sure all of our thoughts instantly went to Iggy, who was still lurking in the doorway.

Three guesses how a cat went deaf.

Anger welled up inside of me at the thought of what had happened to Iggy. It was just one example of how the white-coats' curiosity had ruined our lives. Not one thoughts of concern had even struck them, I bet. They could've cared less if anything happened to Iggy during their 'research'.

I was drawn from my thoughts by a light touch on my hand. Snapping back to reality, I found Fang staring at me with concern. The others, excluding Iggy and Lux, were giving me the same look. My eyes drifted over all of them, questioning. Kitty gave a squeak and hid her face in Lux's chest as I passed over her. Lux was staring at me with soft, knowing eyes.

"Yes, I fell the same way. She wasn't always deaf." His eyes suddenly turned hard, calm voice taking a dark tone.

"When I first met her, her hearing was excellent. She could even hear the white-coats talking outside out lab. That's how we learned Kitty was a test to see how I interacted with others. They figured I'd kill her, but it didn't matter to them; she was already dying.

"After a few months they realized she was growing stronger, so they took her for more experimentation. It was weeks before they brought her back to me. They only did because I took one of the white-coats hostage." His eyes were positively black at this point. "She was dying and deaf. I nearly killed my hostage."

"What stopped you?"

Everyone's attention turned to Fang. Lux's eyes softened a bit, but his face remained serious.

"Killing him would have made me like them. A murder." He paused for a moment before continuing with a lighter tone. "Besides, Kitty had been around that sort of thing enough. She didn't need it from me, too." He smiled down at the wide-eyes girl.

It was silent for a moment. Only a moment. Nudge was in the room, remember?

"That's a sad story and all, but what about the voice we heard? Y'know, the one in our heads?" I cleared my throat, giving Nudge 'the look'. She just looked at me, hands on her hips. "And what was up with that wind thing, Max?"

I instantly stopped giving her 'the look'. Instead I adopted a 'what –the-heck-are-you-talking-about' look, otherwise known as the questioning stare. Before I could say anything, however, Lux took to tackling his questions.

"Kitty had to learn to use her other senses, or in her case powers, to hear for her. I'm sure your blind friend has developed heightened hearing and sensory in place of his lost vision. Kitty learned to use her mind." The girl nodded in approval, allowing Lux to continue.

"She learned to lip-read quickly, but that wasn't enough for her. She somehow learned to apply her super-hearing to her mind, picking up the thoughts of the white-coats instead of their voices. Then one day, she managed to link our minds. It was a weak link at first, but after a few weeks of constant talking back and forth, she could speak clearly using telepathy. Now it's second nature for her to link to others' minds, even if she doesn't mean to. That's why all of you heard her."

"So, she can read minds?" Nudge gave Kitty a suspicious look, receiving a glare in return.

"I hear thoughts. Yours are very loud."

It was Nudge's turn to glare as Kitty smiled in triumph. She glanced innocently up at Lux, hiding her face once more when he gave her 'the look'. She giggled when he whispered something to her. Though I suppose he had to think it, too, for her to hear.

The room became silent after that. I glanced over at Fang, who was studying me with concern.

'What?', I mouthed to him. He continued to study me for a minute longer. Finally, he took a step back, hard face softening.

"I think you've discovered a new power." That said he turned to investigate the food on the table, glancing suspiciously at Lux as he did.

I stared at his back, my eyes wide and blinking rapidly like the idiot I am. When he didn't make any attempt to clue me in, I turned to the group by my side; Iggy was leaning against a wall, Gazzy was sitting next to him, and Nudge was hiding behind my back, still glaring at Kitty. Angel had somehow ended up standing right next to Lux and Kitty, studying them with her cute little blonde head tilted.

Thus, Nudge became my target.

"What!" She stepped back as I stared at her. "Oh, the wind thing. Right. Well, you were just standing there, and your eyes got all white, and some of the feathers on the floor started lifting around you. There was this wind that kinda blew on us, too. Then it stopped when Fang touched you." She nodded, eyes wide as she concluded her story.

I looked over at Gazzy, who nodded, then Fang. He was studying me again. He gave me that cool-guy barely any movement at all nod. Then his eyes shifted back to the group by the bed.

He still didn't trust the situation. Why did I? Just because a voice in my head led me here? I think I'm crazy. As if being a mutant experiment isn't bad enough.

Sighing, I shook my head. If I was going to trust this guy, and if he was my 'fate', I had to find some things out.

"So, Luxlucious, where're you heading?"

He flicked his gaze from Angel to me. It was kinda creepy how he stared at me. Sure, Fang does that all the time, but his eyes don't glow.

"I'm not sure. I was told you'd find me, so I was just going to wait for that."

"We were supposed to find you?" Yeah, the Voice was definitely behind this.

He nodded.

"And this Annaira woman told you that?" I exchanged a look with Fang.

"Yes, why?" He was looking at me suspiciously now.

I hesitated before answering. "Well, we had a…source that led us here."

His eyes narrowed further. "What are you saying?"

"Well, it's kind of weird, isn't it? A woman suddenly appears and brings you here, even though you were in New York city which is a days' flight away. A voice tells me to come here…"

He raised an eyebrow at this. "A voice?"

"Long story. Anyway, it's just odd. Obviously we were supposed to meet, but who wanted us to and why? Are they our allies, or our enemies?"

Lux answered in a dark, quiet voice. "I trust Annaira."

Again, Fang and I exchanged worried glances. "But I thought you didn't know her?"

Lux seemed at loss for words. Before I could press him further, Iggy pushed himself off the wall.

"Someone's coming!"

Instantly we all went silent, listening to a set of footsteps nearing the door. As I backed towards the bed, Fang came to my side. Nudge, Gazzy, and Angel grouped behind me. Lux pried Kitty from his body and stood up, letting a wing unfurl to shield her.

We all crouched unconsciously, prepared to bolt. We waited.

The footsteps stopped in front of the door. Then it flew open.

Lux seemed to relax as he saw the figure standing in the doorway.

"Speak of the devil…" He muttered.

The person in the doorway, a woman, smirked lightly.

"'ello Lux. Glad the Flock found you. You guys need to get out of here."

I chanced a glance at Luxlucious. A faint smile had crept onto his face.

"Guys, meet Annaira."

13. Act Thirteen

I know, I know, it's been forever since I last updated. Seriously, I have twenty-three chapters. And, since this chapter isn't all that interesting...actually, it is really interesting...kinda reveals some important stuff...ah, I was going to give you two chapters, but I just talked myself out of it. Heh, I ish an ebil one...enjoy, my pretties!

Chapter Thirteen

He'll be okay…

Subconsciously Annaira let her eyes drift towards Noxnoctis. He was sitting calmly in his chair, eyes fixed on Batchelder as the scientist gave his report. His dark eyes remained steadily on Jeb's calm face.

Resisting the urge to sigh, Annaira looked away. She dropped her gaze to her lap, where her wrist rested in her hand. She studied the vibrant bruise for a moment before covering it with a shudder.

It'll all get better…

She closed her eyes, taking in a calming breath. Slowly she soothed herself, clearing her mind of all thoughts. When she opened her eyes she was focused, eyes sharp and face stoic.

For the first time during this whole visit, she listened to the conversation.

"Furthermore, my team has everything under control. Both the Flock and A will be tracked and regained." Jeb leaned back in his chair, seemingly satisfied with himself.

"How fast can you track them?"

A smug smirk spread onto Jeb's face.

"We've already found the Flock's location. As for A, we're still looking."

Annaira knew Nox was secretly smirking to himself. He knew the connection between Luxlucious and the Flock. He knew they were likely to be together. Only Annaira knew they were.

"Where are they?"

"Newark, New Jersey."

"Have you sent a team out?"

Jeb's smirk seemed to widen. "No, I will as soon as our meeting ends. The Flock have been stationary for an hour now, which most likely means they're resting after their continuous flight. Using the numbers from the grid, I've determined that they're in an abandoned hotel. It'll take my team an hour to capture them."

Nox had leaned forward in his chair, listening intently to Jeb. After a moment of hard silence he settled back in the chair.

"We'll come with you."

Jeb seemed alarmed for a second, but he quickly brushed it off. "No, no, that won't be necessary. I'll notify you as soon…"

Nox cut him off in a cold, dark tone. "We'll come with you.

"I'm sorry, Sir, but I really don't think this is your job at all. I'll make sure…"

Jeb was silenced as Nox leaned forward, chuckling darkly. He settled his eyes, cold and glowing, on Jeb. A light flickered out.

Here we go, Annaira thought, sighing inwardly.

"Jeb, dear Jeb, if only you had a clue." His chuckling stopped. Mocking eyes turned hard. "There's more to this than you know, Jeb. This isn't just some giant experiment."

Jeb blinked, slowly managing to regain his cool. "I think we've had this conversation before, Noxnoctis. What do you mean?"

A cruel smirk spread onto Nox's face. "You know that trusty chip of yours? Yes, I know all about it. I know how it's literally wired into Maximum's system. You think you have complete power over her, don't you? She's more powerful than you think." He paused. Another light went out. "When you tell her she's going to save the world, it's not just a mind game. That's what she was created to do. We were all created for that reason."

Jeb's eyes flicked towards the two overhead lights that were now dark. Quickly they came back to the dark form of Noxnoctis. Even through his fear, though, the typical white-coat curiosity nagged at him.

"Who was created? Who created you?"

"Originally it was Luxlucious, Annaira, Ciel and I. We were the Guardians. Our story ended long ago. Now the Flock has been chosen to continue our legacy.

"The One who created us, as He did all things, is neither a who or a what. He is nothing and everything at once, fully alive and yet unclassified. The Creator of all things." Nox's eyes were shining, his voice bitter. "But that's not the point, is it? No, Jeb, my story is over. The Flock had been put into place now. Their time has come."

Jeb was left blinking, attempting to decipher the information. Nox didn't notice this, for he was lost in his own thoughts. Thoughts of long ago, everything he had done; his fall, his exile from the Guardians, the lonely years afterwards.

A smile flicked onto his face as a new flood of memories hit him. Memories of fifteen years ago, when his suffering ended and he finally got his revenge. Finding the Guardians had been a surprise to him. As soon as he found them, however, he set up a devious plot.

The key in his plot had been two of the Guardians. Their downfall had been one's love for him, and the other's love for her. Thus Annaira fell into his clutches and Luxlucious was forced to surrender.

A shadow fell over his face. His victory hadn't lasted long. Ciel had escaped his plan, eluding his grasp even now. News of the Flock and their escape reached his ears two years ago, and further studies confirmed his beliefs of their calling. Now Luxlucious had managed to escape, most likely helped by Ciel herself.

At least he still had Annaira.

A smirk made it's way back onto his face. Slowly he turned to the chair next to him, hand reaching out to grasp Annaira's. His face fell, however, when he saw she was no longer there.

Jeb watched with a mix of horror and interest as the man before him slipped into a daze. His face went through a series of expressions, undoubtedly reflecting what he was thinking. Now the smirk that had flicked onto his face disappeared as he looked to the chair next to him.

Jeb smirked. He had seen the woman leave ten minutes ago, but hadn't said anything.

It seems Noxnoctis had lost something…

His smirk quickly faded as Noxnoctis turned slowly towards him. The dark blue eyes danced wildly with insanity, face contorted in a mad grin.

"I'll just be collecting the Flock, now. Good day, Jebediah."

Jeb suppressed a scream as the lights went out completely. Something cold and evil wound itself around him. He passed out as the shadows entered his open mouth.

Nox silently left the room. He kept himself engulfed in shadows, lights turning flicking off wherever he stepped. His search for Annaira began.

Be honest, now, am I ebil? Huh, huh? As ebil and insane as Noxy-poo? Read, review,and rate my ebilness for not giving you TWO chapters!

14. Act Fourteen

Hey guys! I don't think it's been too horribly long since I last updated, but probably long enough. Ah well. Nonetheless, I'll give you guys another chapter. 'Cus I'm good like that.

Chapter Fourteen

Annaira closed the door slowly behind her, cringing even as it lightly clicked shut. Letting out a held breath, she turned slowly around.

"Move, Annaira, you have to do this. You started this, you have to continue it," she muttered. Taking a deep breath she started down the hallway.

She knew her way around the Institute. She had been there countless times for inspections, and countless more times to help the Flock. Jeb wasn't the only Voice.

Annaira smiled to herself, attempting to cheer herself up. Jeb had to use a computer to be the Voice. She need only use her powers.

At this thought, she sighed. Her power of telepathy was limited, only to be used in rare cases. There had been a time when her telepathy and teleportation powers had had equal power. Now, with the loss of her source of power, she needed to concentrate what power she had left into one task. Nox demanded it be teleportation.

A bump against her shoulder drew her from her thoughts. She mumbled a quick apology to the scientist that passed her, hurrying around the corner. A turn around another corner brought her to the needed corridor.

She quickly made her way to one of the many steel doors. Five doors down on the right of the bright hallway was the data room, her destination.

She stopped in front of the door. It was locked. It was always locked. She didn't need to unlock it, however. The first time she visited the room had been the only time she ever need pick the lock. Now that she knew what the room looked like, she could transport herself there anytime.

Quickly she looked up and down the hall, listening intently for any noises. The hall was clear, as well as the rooms beyond. Muttering her destination, she disappeared.

Annaira stepped out of the void into a small, very white room. It looked like any other research room one might see. The walls were white, the floor a white tile, and the ceiling held overhead lights. To the right of the door was a steel cabinet. Along the right wall was a titanium worktable. Straight ahead was a long metal desk with three computers on top of it. The left wall was completely bare.

Practically flinging herself in the computer chair, Annaira wheeled herself towards the computers. The middle computer was a laptop, sleek and white. Carefully she opened it, delicately pressing the On button.

Her fingers drummed against the desk as she waited for the computer to boot up. She shifted her gaze to the door, straining her ears for the sound of footsteps. Nox could end his rant at any moment, and then he would come looking for her. She had to get this done first.

A faint beep caused her to jump, nearly sending her to the floor. Heart, racing, she turned around. The computer was ready. Letting out a sigh of relief, she began her search.

Annaira knew the computer almost as well as Jeb did. She had used it many times within the past year. At first it had been only to keep track of the Flock, to see if Ciel had found them. Then, when the Flock was sent running again, it became her tool to help them. She was able to communicate telepathically to Max, yes, but she first had to know where the girl was.

Besides, the computer was very handy for downloading information to Max. It took strength she no longer had to relay images telepathically. Thus, when she needed to show Max certain things, the computer had become her tool. She had only used it in this way twice, though; once to lure the Flock to the Institute, hoping they would free Lux, and once to lead them to Lux when that failed.

Now she was scrolling frantically through the programs. Luckily, they were alphabetized. Her eyes lit up as she found the right program. GPSCMR, right where it should be, between Formulas and HLN. Jeb didn't seem to like change.

Confidence somewhat restored, she gingerly clicked the program. Instantly a box popped up. 'Entrance Password' was typed just above a narrow box. Luckily, she knew the password.

Mouthing the letters, she typed in the password. Power. Jeb made his passwords so simple sometimes.

The computer beeped. The password turned red, then cleared itself.


Annaira stared helplessly at the screen. That's what Jeb had been thinking! When he spoke of the chip, hundreds of thoughts had raced through his mind. The computer, the file, it's contents, the wall, and the password. Power. She had read it herself!

She sighed in frustration. If power wasn't the password, then it had something to do with the password. Her mind worked quickly to find things associated with power. Money, status, royalty, strength. Her eyes drifted towards one of the computers. The screen shone with an open file. An experiment's file. New words raced past her. Experiment, science, perhaps a certain experiment, experimentation, data.

"Knowledge," She mouthed to herself. Knowledge is power.

Wiping around, she quickly typed in the word. For a moment nothing happened. Then the program appeared.

Filled with relief, she made her way through the opening screens. A column to the left listed a group of possible targets. Who else Jeb was tracking, she hadn't a clue. MR was her one and only concern at the moment.

The lights instantly went out as she clicked on the particular name. She didn't flinch, for she was used to it. Right now the once bare left wall was a glowing map, and as she clicked her way to find the target, it enlarged. Right now she wasn't looking at the detailed map, however. She knew where Max was. She couldn't have Nox find out.

With that program open, she set to work crossing signals. How she did it, the poor author hasn't a clue, but she somehow managed to incorporate all the other targeted signals together, leaving one big mess for Jeb and the computer illiterate Nox.

Just as she was typing in the last codes, a noise pricked her ears. Footsteps were coming directly down the hall. Quick, almost silent footsteps. Swiveling around she hurried to finish her job. All the while she was aware of the footsteps coming closer, and finally stopping by the door.

Turning around slightly, she noticed a slender black tendril swirling from under the door. Nox was outside the door, no doubt listening to her. He didn't seem to be making any attempts to pick the lock. That could only mean one thing.

She turned back around, fingers flying on the keyboard. Just as she hit the enter button, fully scrambling the signals, the door fell to the floor in a smoldering black heap.

Annaira caught one glimpse of the glowing, dark blue eyes as she whispered her destination. They were filled with insanity.

15. Act Fifteen

'Ello, my faithful readers. I realize I haven't updated in awhile. I keep you guys waiting alot, don't I? Yes, I suppose I do. My deepest apologies.

-hangs head in shame-

So, to make up for that, I thought I'd give you guys three chapters in one day. You may fall down and praise me now.

Chapter Fifteen

Lux found himself almost smiling at the sudden arrival of Annaira. Instead he smirked at the sight of her disheveled state. Half of her liquid-black hair was pulled into a messy bun, while many more strands hung around her pale face. Her skin was flecked with paint, matching the baggy white shirt and frayed jeans she wore. Definitely different from the last time he saw her.

However, his smirk faded as she spoke. True, she kept the same sarcastic, mocking tone, but it was the news she brought that wiped his smirk away. That coupled with the look in her eyes, that is. They were frantic, meeting his questioning gaze with a worried look.

Quickly he let his smile return, nodding towards the Flock.

"Guys, meet Annaira."

She turned her attention from him to the Flock, acknowledging them with a wider smirk.

"Nice to finally meet you." She took a step forward. The Flock flinched.

Fang's eyes were narrowed, Max's arms spread slightly to shield the younger kids. Kitty mewed softly behind Lux, pawing at his back once. Turning around, he gave her a reassuring look. She seemed satisfied.

Max, however, was not.

"How do you know about us in the first place?" Her voice was low, eyes narrowed, and wings twitching to spread in front of her Flock-mates.

Annaira smiled, understanding flashing in her eyes. "Ah, you must be Maximum. Leader of the Flock."

Max's eyes narrowed further. She opened her mouth to speak, but Annaira cut her off.

"I know who you are because I'm involved in this. No, I'm not the bad guy. Right now, there's really no time to explain. Perhaps later." She seemed thoughtful for a moment, stopping to stare into space. A second later, however, she had crossed the room to the small table and began stuffing it's contents into the rucksack.

"Honestly, Lux, I expected you to be prepared by now. Haven't packed, haven't dressed the cat. I doubt you even know the names of your new friends." She stopped to stare pointedly at Lux. Receiving a blank look in return, she smirked with triumph and continued her stocking. "Well, the leader girl is Maximum, dark fellow Fang, gangly-blind kid Ignatius, tawny-girl Nudge, and the youngest are Gazzy and Angel. Flock, if he has been so rude as to refrain from introducing himself, this is Luxlucious, and his little pet there is Kitty."

The stunned group blinked. The woman, Annaira, had now finished filling the rucksack with the various provisions and was now making her way to the dresser.

"Now, as said before, you need to get out of here. Jeb was planning on sending a little team, but I don't know if that'll happen now that Nox knows where you are. Honestly, you guys would want to deal with Jeb's team instead of Nox." She was pulling things from the dresser. Walking back to the table, she stuffed the pair of pants and shirt Lux wasn't wearing into the rucksack, along with an extra pair of clothes for Kitty. "Lux, I suggest you put on a shirt and shoes. Getting the cat dressed wouldn't hurt either." She threw a comb, shoes, and set bundle of clothes towards Lux.

Smiling at his expert catch, she turned towards the Flock. They shrunk under her gaze. She sighed, smiling softly at them.

"I know you have a lot of questions. You want to know who I am, who I work for, and how I'm going to hurt you. You'll just have to trust that I'm not the bad guy." Still smiling, she turned her gaze to the youngest Flock member. "Little one, you have much to learn about mind reading. There are those who can block it, you know. Take Jeb, for example." The little girl smiled, stepping out from behind Max. Before she could move forward, however, Fang stopped her. She retreated behind Max once more, glaring at Fang.

"Is that why I can't read you?" Lux, now fully clothed, was working out a knot in Kitty's hair. She too adorned a new pair of clothes, which she was purring over; a pair of dark jeans and a black corset-style shirt.

"Ah, yes. You've always…" Her smile faded, face becoming suddenly serious. "Yes, that's why you can't. That comb was for you, by the way. Your hair looks horrendous."

Lux remained motionless, studying Annaira as she turned her back to him. Kitty, hair now manageable, took to grooming Lux, concentrating very hard on the snarls.

Annaira turned back around, coats and rucksack in hand. Walking briskly towards the group, she lay them on the bed. With a slight smirk she took the comb away from the struggling Kitty, sitting beside Lux to continue the job.

He blinked in surprised as Annaira sat beside him, softly picking through the tangles in his hair. After a moment his tense body relaxed, eyes going soft as he watched her. Her brow was furrowed in concentration, eyes flicking to and fro. They flicked towards his face, catching his look. For a moment their gazes locked, their worlds collided and time stood still. Only for a moment.

Sensing a link opening between them, Annaira tore her gaze away. Standing up quickly, she busied herself with tucking the comb into the rucksack.

Max watched the strangers with interest and confusion. Obviously these two had some sort of history, even if Lux claimed not to know the woman. Could she be trusted? Now would be a great time for her Voice to help…

It's your destiny, Max. Embrace it.

That was oddly quick. Her Voice never gave advice on command. Ah, well, the Voice had spoken.

A tug on her sleeve brought her from her thoughts. Looking down, she found Angel staring up at her with her angelic blue eyes. The little girl nodded up at her, smiling.

So now the Voice and Angel told her to trust this Annaira character. It seemed her fate was decided. Trust Annaira or die.

Ignoring Fang's glare, she stepped forward towards Annaira.

"Where are you taking us?"

Annaira looked up at her, fixing her with a knowing stare. "Ah, I'm not taking you anywhere. Where you go is up to you. I just suggest you don't stay in one place too long."

Max tilted her head slightly, eyes narrowing. "Why?"

"Well, if you haven't noticed yet, Jeb's little minions always seem to turn up when you've been stationary on the ground. I suggest you stay in the air, get as far away from here as possible, and see what happens after that." Sighing, Annaira turned back to look at her. "Before you ask why, think about that little chip in your arm. Why do you think it's there?"

Glancing out the window, Annaira gasped. She turned back towards Luxlucious and the Flock with a frantic look.

"I don't care where you go, just go now! Quick, up, you can eat later. Kitty, Lux, coats on now! Shoes are optional, Lux, makes for a better flight, just take them with you. I know you have a credit card, Max, but there's money in the pack as well. Should last you a few months." By this point she had practically pushed the group out the door and into the hallway, guiding them down a different way then they had originally come.

"Right, if you take your next right, go down a flight of stair, that'll bring you to the back door. Get our as quickly as you can, but stay covered. The moon's a bit bright tonight, so don't take to the sky until you're out of the city. Then fly like your life depends on it!"

Max almost turned around to look at Annaira, but was stopped by a pleading look.

"I promise, I can explain later. Hopefully. Right now, you need to trust what I say and get out! Protect your Flock, go!" No questions asked, Max grabbed Fang's sleeve and tugged him down the dark hallway.

Annaira watched as the group disappeared around the corner, their footsteps becoming softer and softer. She was aware of a soft light next to her. Turning her head, her gaze locked with Lux's glowing eyes.

"Why can't you come?" His voice was soft yet strong, knowing and oh so familiar.

Smiling sadly, she looked away. Away from the glowing eyes of the past.

"I'll be along eventually. Right now, I need to protect my Flock. Now please, Lux, go! Kitty's beginning to yowl without you."

Eyes widening, Lux looked all around him. Kitty was indeed gone. With one last questioning look at Annaira, he hurried down the hallway and disappeared.

Annaira was left staring into the empty space, eyes threatening to tear. A large thud below her, however, snapped her from her thoughts. Listening intently for footsteps, she heard none. The Flock were out of the building, along with Lux and Kitty, and Nox had entered it.

Sighing, she muttered the words of departure. Dealing with Nox now would be pure suicide. Later she might be able to.

Or maybe not.

Comments, anyone? They are much appreciated.

16. Act Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen

Nox landed gracefully before the dilapidated hotel, feet slipping through seemingly nothing to touch solid ground. The shadows he had used to hover above the ground slowly peeled away to linger behind him as he stood smirking before the building.

This was it. He could destroy every one of them in one attack. Luxlucious, Annaira, the Flock. Only Ciel was missing.

Yes, he knew Luxlucious was in the building. He could sense him.

Besides, the whole area should have been pitch black in the presence of he and his shadows. Instead, one white feather lay before the alleyway entrance, glowing brightly against his shadows.

Light always had to have the last word, didn't it?

Now sneering, Nox moved forward, entering the dark alley. The feather gave a feeble pulse before loosing it's glow entirely, engulfed with snaking shadows. He took no notice.

It took mere seconds for him to burst through the door, into the hotel, and begin making his way down the hallways of the hotel. He knew what path to take, thanks to Luxlucious. His shadows, the shadows that snaked and glowed black, refused to trail down any hall Luxlucious had carried his light. Thus, Nox knew the way and had simply to coax his shadows to follow.

At the top of a flight of stairs Noxnoctis stopped. His eyes narrowed, scanning the long, dark hallway. His shadows cautiously slipped forward to travel down the hall. They did it on their own.

Luxlucious' mark was gone, but that could only mean one thing. Someone trailing darkness, shadows, had traveled down the hall and covered Lux's light.

Nox smirked. It was incredibly stupid for Annaira to appear in the middle of the trail to cover the tracks. The woman never had been particularly cautious when it came to matters of the heart.

No matter, he would take care of her in a few minutes. No more worries of her stupidity, her flowing emotions.

Striding slowly down the hallway, smirk gleaming in his eyes, he headed towards a closed door, the only closed door in the hallway. A single white feather glowed dully before it.

Slowly, leisurely, he pushed the door open. He gathered a swarm of shadows behind him, prepared to unleash them on the group waiting inside the room. He would tangle them, trap them, ensnare them, then send them back to the place they so hated. His lips curled into and insane smile as the door swung open fully.

At the sight of the empty room his eyes widened, smile disappearing. All that was left of the group was a tangled bed-spread sprinkled with white hair, and white feathers scattered across the floor.

However, instead of a cry of rage of swarm of angry shadows destroying the room, his lips curled into a smile once more.

It seemed Luxlucious was molting. He tended to loose feathers when drained of power.

Testing his theory, he flicked a shadow towards one of the faintly glowing feathers. As it approached, the feather flared with light. For a moment the shadow began to retreat, but at his command continued towards the feather. The twisting shadow snaked around the glowing light, which slowly began to shrink. With an impatient flick of his fingers Nox sent the shadow on full attack. The light gave a feeble last attempt, a pulse of light, before the shadow completely drained it.

His smile widened. Perhaps Luxlucious didn't have all of his power. That made things much easier for him.

Dark glee glimmering in his eyes, Noxnoctis left the building on his cloud of shadows, drifting across the sky as a black shroud of fear.

Drowned in his insanity, he took no notice of eight figures flicking from shadow to shadow below him.

17. Act Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen

Lux traveled quickly through the hotel, jumping down a flight of stairs and flinging himself through what he suspected to be the back doorway. All the while he had noticed his light dimming, a few feathers falling away to drift softly behind his sprinting form.

Somehow he must have managed to stay quiet, for the group huddled outside the doorway gasped and jumped as his figure came flying out. He stumbled for a moment, nearly running into the brick wall of another building, but regained his balance using his wings. Whirling around he faced the group, eyes darting madly from one person to the next.

"Where's Kitty?" His voice was low and frantic.

Max, who had the little girl Angel pressed against her body, moved to the side. Clearly she knew what it was like to be so protective over someone, verging on maternal. Smart girl.

When she stepped aside, however, not only did she reveal Kitty but also Iggy. The tall blind boy stood somewhat awkwardly, mainly because Kitty had her arms wrapped around him and her face pressed against his chest. He had rested one hand against her trembling back, perhaps in an attempt to console her. The fact that he was a full foot and a half taller than the not-much-younger girl didn't help the matter much.

With a smile of relief, Lux stepped forward. Kitty jumped and squeaked as he laid his hand on her shoulder. Staring up at him with frightened eyes, she slowly stepped away from Iggy. Fully expecting the impact, Lux braced himself as Kitty flung her trembling body into his arms.

Scooping her up to cradle her against his chest, he slowly calmed her down. How he did it, he hadn't a clue. It had always worked, especially when their mental connection had been established.

Kitty calm, he turned his attention to Max and Fang. They seemed to be the leaders of the Flock.

"Any ideas where we're going?"

Fang glanced down at Max, eyes filled with warning. He still didn't trust the situation. Lux didn't blame him. He didn't even know why he was going along with all this.

Ignoring Fang completely, Max looked up at Lux with hard, serious eyes. "No idea. But I think we should get moving before something bad happens."

Lux smirked. "Sounds good to me."

Seeing as she was the leader of her Flock, Lux allowed Max to lead the way. She crept forward through the shadows, followed closely by the rest of her Flock. As Fang passed by Lux he gave him a warning glare; stay away from my Flock was what it read.

Kitty cradled in his arms, Lux trailed a few feet behind the creeping Flock. He wasn't yet fully trusted by them, nor did he fully trust them. He only trusted Annaira.


He smiled down at the cat-girl. And you, Kitty. You know you're my girl.

It didn't seem as if any of the Flock had heard Kitty's thought, for they continued without looking back. Noticing this, the girl smiled happily to herself. Lux kept his concentration on the matter at hand; escaping alive. Who they were running from, he wasn't quite sure. He had never encountered this Nox person.

As they reached the outskirts of the city, Max stopped. The rest of the Flock huddled closely around her, waiting for instructions. Lux stayed about a foot away, though he could hear her whisper just as well. Perks of being a bird-kid.

"Alright, as soon as we pass this building, I want everyone in the air. Stay in close formation, fly low. We'll use the clouds as cover."

"But Max…" Max shot a glare at the girl, Nudge.

"I know they're uncomfortable to fly in, but we'll have to. Until we get farther away from here. Everyone clear?"

Most of the group nodded. Fang remained eyeing Lux, and Iggy turned his gaze to what he hoped was Max.

"Just one question; where exactly is 'farther away from here'?"

Max sighed, shaking her head slightly.

"For now, D.C., like we planned."

Without another word she darted forward, keeping in the shadows, until she emerged from behind the building. With one leap she was in the air, wings beating hard. Soon the rest of the Flock had fallen in behind her.

Lux stood on the ground, staring up at the group with a mix of awe and confusion. Awe for the obvious reason that they were six kids, and they were flying. It was beautiful. Confusion for a reason he wasn't certain of. Somehow seeing them in the air was comforting to him, like he had seen it before.

He had a life before the Institute. He was sure of it. The white-coats had told him that he'd been there since he was created, and that his memory loss was do to a bad drug they had given him to stimulate intelligence. He didn't believe them. This had happened to him before, he had seen humans flying. He had done it before.

"You coming?" Max's shout from above snapped him from his daze. She was hovering ten feet above him, wings pushing air across his face and rustling his feathers.

His lips curled into a reminiscent smile. Kitty clutched in his arms, he took three bounding strides, ending with a leap. For a moment it seemed as if he would fall. A shock of white burst from the darkness as he unfurled his itching wings, their translucent veins pumping with adrenaline. He lingered for a second, motionless, nothing but the air caught in his feathers holding him up. Then with one mighty pump of his massive wings, he was soaring into the night.

It felt glorious.

18. Act Eighteen

Chapter Eighteen

She shifted slightly in her seat. Her eyes flicked nervously around the room, her heart pounded with fright. Yet still she managed to remain cool and poised on the outside.

She was back at the castle, in the study. It had been four hours since she had helped the Flock, Lux, and Kitty to escape. Four hours in which she had time to change her clothes, remove any of Lux's scent and light, and collect herself, hiding her thoughts.

Still, four hours hadn't been enough time to fully prepare herself for the encounter with Nox. She had a story prepared to cover her tracks, and she was ready to change it if need be. Fifteen years with only Nox as a companion had taught her how to effectively deceive, weaving a web of pure lies that one would believe.

Yet here she sat, quaking on the inside, praying to the Creator she had abandoned. Praying that Nox would not see through her lies, and she would be allowed to continue her mission.

She had been given the chance to make things right again. It couldn't have been a coincidence that Luxlucious began his awakening the same day she was inspecting the Institute. His power, his light, had given her the courage to fulfill her Vow. She couldn't screw it all up now.

Her body froze as a book was knocked off a table five feet away from her. Nox was in the room. He had been for the past ten minutes. As soon as he had walked in the light was sucked from the room, replaced by smothering shadows, as sure sign that he was angry.

Her eyes flicked towards the noise, settling on a slightly glowing black shadow. She followed the loose shadow as it trailed towards her, stopping an inch in front of her. Weight fell on the either side of the chair as Nox settled his hands there, forcing her to lean back. She felt his icy breath on her face. A few of his shadows twisted around her arms and hands to hold her down. He was angry, indeed.

"Hello Nox."

She flinched as the shadows seemed to tighten. Her eyes remained cool and emotionless as Nox appeared before her, shadows peeling away to dance tauntingly around her.

His eyes were what scared her. Livid and glowing, they glimmered with cruel insanity. His mouth was curled into a cruel sneer, shadows glowing intensely behind him to form his dark wings.

This wasn't going to be fun.

"And where, my dear, have you been?" His voice was mockingly sweet. The shadows tightened with the last word, threatening to seep into her.

Still, she kept cool. "You know very well where I've been. You were there yourself."

The shadows loosened somewhat. A flash of confusion came of Nox's face. It was gone in a second, however, the cruel look replacing it.

"Then you admit to being at the hotel?"

Annaira nodded slightly.

Nox smirked cruelly. "Then you also admit to helping the Flock and Lux escape."

Instead of the shocked and pleading look Nox was anticipating, Annaira smirked with amusement.

"No, I admit to arriving there before you." Her smirk was wiped away as Nox's eyes narrowed, shadows tightening once more.

"What are you up to, Annaira?"

"Merely following the plan, Noxnoctis. Nothing more."

His eyes narrowed further. "Why did you scramble the signals at the Institute? And why, my dearest, did you flee when I appeared? All part of the plan?"

Annaira stared up at him with knowing, cold eyes. "I scrambled the signals to delay Jeb from reaching the Flock. I fled so quickly because I wanted to investigate first, and knew you wouldn't let me."

Nox raised an eyebrow. She put on a pouting look.

"You never let me do anything, Nox. I wanted to get to the hotel before you to find out if Lux or Ciel were with the Flock. I was even hoping," She let a look of embarrassment flash across her face, quickly concealing it after, "I was hoping to perhaps lure and capture them."

Nox stared at her through narrowed eyes. "What stopped you?"

"Well, first of all, they weren't there anymore. They must have left minutes before I arrived, because some of Lux's feathers were still glowing on the floor. I didn't see any black feathers, so I doubt Ciel was with them in the first place. She normally leaves a feather behind to spite us."

He seemed unmoved. "And why did you not wait for me at the hotel?"

Again she allowed her face to flush. She even began to fidget for good measure. "Well, I was still investigating when you arrived, and I got scared…so I fled…again," She stopped fidgeting, face becoming stoic and eyes glimmering with hostility. "I know this whole thing was stupid for me to do behind your back, but I had to try. You really don't let me do anything. Can you blame me?"

The next moment, as Nox studied her, Annaira found her very being shaking with anticipation and fear. She had put on a good act, but would it work? If not, then she would resort to yet another story. Hopefully it wouldn't come to that.

She relaxed inwardly as Nox stepped back. The shadows curled around her arms floated away with a flick of his fingers. His eyes had softened, his smirk mocking. He chuckled slightly.

"Don't let you do enough, eh? Well, I suppose you're right. Perhaps I could put you in charge of tracking Luxlucious and the Flock. Would that be enough for you?"

Half acting and half for real, she smiled with delight. Her eyes brightened, dancing with glee. Not only had her story worked, but Nox was now entrusting her with the Flock and Lux! Could he be serious?

"You really mean it? You'll let me track them? What about their capture? And Ciel?"

Nox was leaning back on his desk contentedly, mocking smirk still in place.

"Yes, I mean it. I'm sure you'll do a good job. However, I want reports of their whereabouts, and their capture shall be up to me. Ciel will be my task, unless she happens to join Luxlucious once more. Then the task becomes both of ours."

Suddenly her eyes became serious. "What about Jeb? Shall I keep him in this?"

"You may do whatever is necessary to find and ensure the capture of the Flock and Lux. Keep Jeb in the loop, drop him, follow the Flock, befriend them, hire spies. Whatever you think will work. I'll leave it to you."

Annaira could barely contain her excitement. Quickly she stood, hiding the flash of glee in her eyes.

"Well then, I suppose I should start now. Perhaps a meeting with Jeb can be arranged soon? We have some explaining to do, I think." She smirked at this.

Nox almost smiled. Almost. "Yes, I suppose we do. Is that what you wish to do?"

She nodded. "I'll keep Jeb for as long as I need. He might be useful. In the meantime, I'll figure out a plan."

"I'll arrange a meeting for tomorrow. That should give you enough time to devise your plan, right?"

"Certainly. I'll start right now." Nodding dutifully at him, she turned and began to walk away. Shadows peeled away as she walked, allowing her to see more clearly in the dark room.

Smiling with glee and disbelief, she began to pull open the door. Nox's voice behind her caused her to pause.

"Just remember, Annaira. You're Vow belongs to me. You're bound."

His words sent shivers up her spine. Yes, she knew. One way or another, she would fulfill her Vow of loyalty. However, she had a greater Vow to fulfill.

Sending a wave of recognition back towards him, she left the room quickly.

Still leaning against his desk, shadows swirling around him, Nox smirked. Yes, she would fulfill her Vow. Even if she wasn't aware of doing so.

Annaira was once more the key in his plan.

He couldn't wait to see her broken again.

19. Act Nineteen

Chapter Nineteen

We were escaping. Again. From who, I actually wasn't sure of. The name Nox meant absolutely nothing to me. Thus, I had about a million more questions added to my ever-growing list.

Who was this Nox character? Was he connected to the School or Institute? If not, what did he have to do with any of this? Who was Annaira? How did she know to warn us? How did she know about the chip in my arm? How did she know about us, period? Could we trust her?

Now would be a wonderful time for my Voice to make an appearance. But, of course, it didn't. I was too curious. It would probably just say something like, "Life is full of twists, Maximum. It's all part of the fun." 'Cus, y'know, it's mysterious like that.

Then again, it's a voice in my head. Of course it's going to be mysterious. It's a voice in my head.

Not meaning to, I sighed in frustration. Sometimes being a mutant experiment was really frustrating. If you think I'm being an overdramatic teenager, you try being a mutant on the run from psycho-scientists and blood-thirsty Erasers. Get back to me.

I won't say 'I told you so'. Promise.

Giving my head a good shake, I forced myself to relax. I concentrated on the cold air sweeping past my face, running through my feathers. The steady sound of wing beats filled my ears. The moon shone brightly against the dark sky, and a sea of wispy storm-clouds drifted below us. It was a beautiful, if not cold, night.

I almost let myself relax. Almost.

Then I remembered that we were on the run again, had a new enemy we knew nothing about, and a few new allies a Voice in my head told me to trust.

Looking around me, I found those were not my only problems. Put simply, we were all exhausted.

Flying slightly behind me and to my left was Iggy, who had his sightless eyes squeezed shut, and Fang, who despite his determined look had lines of exhaustion etched on his face. To my right were Nudge, Gazzy, and Angel. My heart gave a painful throb as I saw Angel and Gazzy, both barely managing to flap their wings, and Nudge, who seemed ready to tuck in her wings and take a nap.

I was proud of the younger ones. Here they were, ready to drop out of the sky, and still they kept flying without a word of complaint. They knew how important this was. They were used to having to escape.

Would it always be like this?

Pushing the thought away, I shook my head again. I cast my eyes around me; we, the flock, were flying in close formation. Think the v form you often see geese flying in. Except geese aren't over four feet long with at least ten-foot wingspans and a yipping dog as an extra passenger. I think you get the point.

Looking to my left, I saw Lux. He was flying just above us, about ten feet away. Unlike us, he was full of life and vigor. From the moment he unfurled his wings he had been our own personal human air-show. Swooping, spinning, veering, testing all sorts of air currents and body angles. It seemed almost as if he'd never flown before, despite his journey from New York.

It was interesting to watch someone outside the flock flying. As in a human. I noticed that he was a little different than us, though.

His wings were a little bigger than ours, about eighteen feet across. That was probably because he was a little older, but the length of his wings wasn't the only thing different. They seemed bulkier, more muscled. An extra layer of small, sharp feathers outlined the perimeter of his wings, sticking out in a somewhat awkward way. When he tilted his wings slightly, the stiff feathers moved in the same direction.

I think that's what made flying so much easier for him. Because once he stopped with the aerobatics (Mainly because Kitty threw a hissy fit. Literally) he flew with easy grace and elegance, if you can fly with elegance.

It was kinda weird. I wouldn't say the guy flew better than us, but he was right up there with the control and maneuvers. He had kept up in the first leg of the flight, when we had been flying at 90 MPH at the least. When he first took off, it was like he'd never flown before. And now he was Flyer of the Year.

Maybe he was different than us.

Well, he definitely didn't fit with our flock. That was why he was flying so far away from us. I felt a wave of sympathy hit me as I watched him, flying in solitude. He looked happy, content with Kitty nestled in his arms, but it must be lonely. I don't know what I'd do without my flock.

I still didn't know if Lux could be trusted. Sure, he had wings. He had another experiment with him. He hadn't tried to hurt us yet. Heck, he was barely paying us any mind. Was it all part of a trap, though?

With that in mind, I made one of my split-second decisions. Fang cast me a feeble yet sufficient scolding look as I gave an extra-hard pump of my wings. I smiled down at him, receiving a roll of the eyes.

Fang definitely didn't trust Lux. Oh well. Guess I'd have to be either the really nice one, or the complete idiot of the flock.

A slight tilt of my body and I was soaring ten feet above my previous altitude, directing myself towards my left. As I fought against an air-current, I realized those extra feathers probably would have made thing a lot easier. I made it, though, normal wings and all.

If wings can be normal on a human.

As I fell in line next to Lux, careful to avoid his softly beating wings, I cast him a friendly smile. He seemed to be lost in his own little world. The only reason he looked my way was because Kitty gave him a rough poke.

How she knew I was there, I don't know. Her eyes were closed.

Probably just some weird mutant cat-girl thing. Perfectly normal.

When Lux did turn his head to look at me, I almost sighed with longing. Though his face looked gaunt and tired, he was absolutely glowing. No, not as in actually glowing, that had stopped a while ago. I mean he looked happy. His face was the picture of serenity, calm and peaceful. I don't think he was ever going to come down out of the air.

"So, how're you doing?" Idle chit-chat, but friendly. We'd have to befriend him sometime, right?

"This is absolutely amazing, what can I say?" I swear, the guy cooed. As in, like, a bird coo. It was different…

"Yeah, it is pretty amazing."

It fell silent for a moment. I listened to the gentle sound of wing-beats, the rushing of the wind. The feeling of the wind in my feathers took over, the sight of the endless expanse of sky almost exciting me.

A contented smile crossed my face. Looking over at Lux, I saw he had the same faint smile. He had probably been focusing on the same things.

We really weren't that different.

"So, tired at all?"

He looked at me as if I was crazy.

"Oh, no, I could do this forever." Again he cooed out his words. I realized for the first time that he had a faint British accent. Very faint, though, yet lilting.

"Yeah, I know the feeling. I was the same way on my first couple flights."

Lux cast me a sideways look, suddenly loosing his smile. His face became serious.

"Somehow I don't think this is my first flight. It's just the first one I can remember."

I gave him a questioning stare. Not exactly prying, but hey, I was curious. I don't know the guy, remember?

Before I could say anything, though, Fang joined us. He pulled up alongside me, gave Lux a hard glare, and turned his weary face towards me.

"Sorry to interrupt, but we need to land. Now."

Lux, completely immune to Fang's glare, snapped his head up to fix us with a reluctant stare.

"Do we have to land right this minute? Shouldn't we wait for a town or something?"

Fang glared at him. Lux glared right back. Still glaring at Lux, Fang directed his speech towards me.

"Nudge can barely move her wings, Max. We need to fuel up and rest."

Lux and Fang were still locked in their glare. Kitty now had her eyes open and was hissing softly at Fang, fingers clawing at the air in his direction. Lux's glowing eyes looked deadly.

Quickly I moved into action. Which meant I rapped Fang hard on his shoulder, glared at him meaningfully, and gave him orders.

"Alright, Fang, why don't you drop down and round up the crew. See that section of woods? I can see a cave. We're landing there."

Fang gave Lux one last glare, tore his eyes away to glare at me, and nodded. I swear he snarled as he dropped below us.

Shaking my head, which by now was throbbing with a dull headache, I turned apologetic eyes towards Lux.

"Sorry about him. He's a bit trust-challenged. I think it has something to do with having deranged killers chasing you."

That was supposed to be funny in a sarcastic kind of way. Lux gave me a faint smile, quickly looking away.

"That cave down there? By the stream?"

I nodded. So he had our vision.

The rest of the flock had begun to descend. I noticed Fang and Iggy were flying awfully close to Nudge, just below her. Gazzy and Angel trailed after them.

Looking at Lux, I found his face was serene and peaceful again. He sighed heavily.

"What goes up must come down, I suppose."

A smile crossed his face. A very mischievous smile.

I almost laughed at the sight of Kitty, very pale and mewing, practically clawing Lux's chest the whole way down to the cave.

That was probably because he was spinning in tight spirals all the way down, headfirst, very, very fast.

20. Act Twenty

I know, I know, it's been forever since I last updated. Once again, my deepest apologies! I really do have alot more written, I just haven't gotten around to updating. Whoops.

I would tell you the deep meaning of this chapter, but I don't remember it since I wrote it so long ago. But I bet there was some sort of meaning to it. Besides, of course, a glimpse into what happened the night Annaira was capture, Lux took his Vow, and Nox became all-powerful again. ;)


Chapter Twenty

It was dark. Dark and cold, frightfully so. Waking from unconsciousness, the sight was enough to widen her eyes.

It was so dark…

Breathing heavily, literally shaking with fear, she tried to move. Pain shot through her wrists as she tugged her arms upward. They wouldn't budge. Looking down she found the same frightening darkness of the room held her arms and legs tightly to the chair.

So cold…

Desperation set in. Every time she moved her arms a mixture of pain, fear, and coldness shot through her body. Her mind raced to remember what had happened, how she had been captured. Who had captured her.

There was only fear.

Fear and darkness, sorrow and pain. She could feel it in the room. She could feel him in the room. Longing and pity rose inside her, at the same time accompanied by timid fright. It had been so long. Hundreds of years. She had tried to forget.

Taking a deep breath, she reached out. With her mind, her soul, everything she had amidst the smothering fear. She broke through the somewhat weak barriers.

She touched darkness himself, lurking just behind her. For a moment she felt all the pain, the sorrow, the fear and loneliness. The longing, the bitterness, the regret.

The insanity.

Darkness severed the connection suddenly, tauntingly, bitterly. Her mind seared with pain, eyes flashing with fear. Feathers fell as her wings trashed, darkness shrouded her. She let out a scream, barely realizing she did so.

The darkness closed in, the world broke around her. She could see nothing, hear nothing, feel nothing. Only the bitter darkness. Only her memories of him.

She had fallen for his tricks this time.

All at once the darkness fell away. Tears streamed down her white face, her wrists ached with the marks of the restraints. Slowly her vision returned. The fear and darkness shrank away, cowering, fleeing.

A blinding light entered the room. Burning, glowing, destroying the darkness.

Darkness himself did not back down.

Bitter and insane, Noxnoctis faced a furious and glorious Luxlucious.

Annaira jerked awake as a noise invaded her memories. Her body shook with long-ago fright, her chest heaving with ragged breaths. As usual, cold sweat and tears glistened on her face. Her wrists ached, black marks glowing faintly on them. A sign of her bondage.

Her breathing slowed after a minute, her shaking reduced to slight trembling. Sitting up in the large four-poster bed, she wiped the tears and sweat from her face. Eyes closed, she wrapped her arms around her legs, resting her head on her knees.

She was used to this. Every time she woke, she awoke from the same nightmare. The same memory. It had been fifteen years ago, yet the feelings never left her. The fear, the sorrow, the darkness and the light.

Her eyes snapped open as the door creaked. A sliver of pale candlelight cast itself on the stone floor. In the blink of an eye she grabbed the dagger from her nightstand, pulling herself onto her knees in a fighting position.

Nox poked his head into the room. An eyebrow rose as he peered in at her, smirk tugging at his lips.

"Expecting someone?"

Grumbling to herself and flushing, she set the dagger back on the nightstand. Settling back down on the bed she pulled the covers self-consciously to her shoulders, hiding her scantily-clad self form Nox's unblinking gaze.

"No, and yet here you are. What time is it?"

Nox leaned himself against the doorway, smirk widening as he watched her.

"Time for you to get up and dressed."

Without another word he turned around, closing the door behind him. Blinking, Annaira jumped out of the warm bed, wincing as her feet touched the cold stone. Pulling the door open she leaned herself out into the corridor, eyes flicking onto Nox's sauntering form.

"Where are we going?"

Without turning around, he shouted back at her.

"You wanted an appointment, I got you one. I just hope you have a plan ready."

"When do we leave?"

"As soon as possible. And we don't leave, you do. This is your appointment."

Before she could protest, Nox had rounded a corner and disappeared from her sight.

Well, she could handle Jeb by herself. Couldn't be too hard.

Gosh, I haven't had a review in ages! Please, please, review.

21. Act Twenty one

Well, since I haven't updated in a very, very, very long time, I think it's only fair that I put another chapter up for your viewing pleasure.

I like this chapter. Jeb gets all scared and broken in it.

Poor, evil, insaneJeb.

Oh, and it pretty much explains why the Flock are so speacial to Nox. How they came to be. And if you pay close attention, what they really are.

Chapter Twenty-one

Jeb shuddered as he stared at the mug clasped in his hand. Steam curled upwards from the honey-colored liquid inside, carrying the strong herbal scent that churned his stomach.

He hated tea. Always had, probably always would. The only reason he had been gulping it by the mug-full the past day had been because his doctor prescribed it.

Yes, Jeb had been thoroughly shaken by his last encounter with Noxnoctis. Before that he had already been shaken by Luxlucious. In between all of that had been utter stress and worries of what the Director would say about his loss of the Flock and Luxlucious.

The Director hadn't been happy.

Everything combined was why Jeb now sat behind his oak desk, hunched in his cushioned leather chair. One hand was clasped around a steaming mug of herbal tea, the other massaging the area just above his newly acquired black eye.

He never knew the Director could be so physical.

His doctor had said to stay calm, take a few days off. His doctor didn't know that it would be impossible to part from his work now. Jeb did take the opportunity to cancel all his meaningless appointments and hide himself in his dark study, though. A lucid threat to his secretary ensured he would not be disturbed.

That was exactly the reason why a rap on the door startled him. Jumping an inch off his seat, he scrambled to make sure the steaming tea didn't spill onto his lap. He swore as the liquid instead spread out on his desk, soaking a few very important documents about the origins of a very important experiment.

A white-coat poked his blonde head into the room. He hesitated at the sight of Jeb, holding a steaming mug with liquid dripping down the sides. His eyes were settled, glaring, on the white-coat at the door.

"S-sir, you have a visitor."

Jeb glared, translating the icy stare into his low voice. "What did I say about my privacy, Nobs?"

"Yes, well, sir, I tried to turn her away, but she insisted on seeing you. S-she said it was about the Flock."

Jeb raised and eyebrow. "She? I had no appointments with a female."

Nobs hesitated again as Jeb's face went blank, seemingly lost in his own world. A trickle of sweat appeared on Nob's forehead, a shudder wracking his body. Was the Head going to change? That was never a pretty thing, especially when you were the man's target.

Pushing aside his fright, Nobs continued. "The inspector, sir. She says it's urgent. Sir."

Nobs sighed as Jeb turned his hard gaze back to him. He didn't look hostile, though. Just regular Jeb Batchelder, Head of the Institute. Not like the Director.

"Well then, send her in. No point in sending her away."

"Yes, sir."

Nobs nodded, almost bowing, and quickly scurried from the room.

Outside the door, Annaira almost jumped as the little white-coat rushed out of the study. Sweat glistened on his face, and he appeared to be shaking. Clearly Jeb had frightened him.

That was a funny thought.

Annaira quirked an eyebrow at the little man as he almost walked right past her. Stuttering and bowing, he back-tracked towards her.

"Y-you can go in, miss."

With that the little man hurried down the hallway, muttering about character changes and the Director.

Shrugging to herself, Annaira pulled open the door and stepped into the study. Her eyes had to adjust to the darkness of the room. A strong herbal scent reached her nostrils, making her nose twitch. Obviously Nox had had an effect on the white-coat. Would it work for her?

Jeb, now sitting straight with his tea-mug gone, watched the inspector as she stepped soundlessly into the room. A heavy cloak shrouded her undoubtedly slim figure, the much-exposed skin glowing white in the shadowy room. Quite used to examining specimens, he noted every unusual thing about her.

He noticed the cat-like pupils expanding to take in light, turning her eyes virtually black. Her nose twitched at the herbal scent, even though the mug was clear across the room. She almost glided across the room, making no noise whatsoever, seating herself gracefully in the uncomfortable guest-seat.

She clearly was not human. By now, he already knew she wasn't. Nor was Noxnoctis, or Luxlucious. The Flock, who seemed to be involved in all of this, either already weren't or soon wouldn't be.

Perhaps his wasn't the only plan.

Flicking the thought from his mind, Jeb settled his gaze on the inspector. He smirked at the sight. There she sat, small and fragile, staring at him with wide eyes. He drew himself up in his seat, leaning forward over the desk.

"Noxnoctis sent you, I presume?"

The woman's eyes narrowed at his mocking tone. "No, Noxnoctis merely arranged the meeting, though obviously you attempted to wave it off." Jeb's smirk faded as the woman tsked at him. "Not a good idea, Jeb. We have business to attend to."

Jeb eyed her for a moment. He hadn't expected her voice to sound as it did. He expected it to shake, quiver slightly with an attempt to hide discomfort and fear. That's what females normally sounded like while under his watchful eyes.

Instead her voice was unwavering, clear and assured. At the same time it was soft and melodic, lilting with a flawless British accent. Beautiful and commanding all at once.

Just what he liked in a woman.

The smirk spread onto his face at the thought. He stayed leaned in his chair, hands folded across his lap. His eyes focused on the woman's face. She hadn't taken her hood off yet.

"And what business would that be?"

The woman sighed in annoyance. "Surely Nox made that clear in our last meeting, did he not? No, I suppose you're too hot-headed to believe any of it."

Again Annaira managed to wipe the arrogant smirk from the arrogant face of arrogant Jeb Batchelder. Nobody did that twice and escaped his wrath. Not even a promisingly pretty woman with a definitely pretty voice.

Before he could say anything, a delicate hand rose from beneath the cloak to silence him.

"Listen, Jeb, I'm going to make this quick. Nox has officially put me in charge of tracking the Flock and Lux." Jeb moved to protest, again silenced by the hand. "Yes, yes, I know that's your job. So it will be."

Jeb quirked and eyebrow. "What are you proposing?"

"I propose we work together. You give me access to your computer and all your files, completely leave the research to me, and speak of nothing to Nox."

Jeb's eyes narrowed. The woman sat, serious and unmoving, eyes boring into him. She was clearly serious.

"And where do I come into that plan? What's in it for me?"

Jeb shuddered as the woman smirked wickedly. A white fang glinted in the sparse light, sending chills up his spine.

"I'll keep all your little secrets safe. Your little mood swings, the Director's true identity, and Maximum."

If possible, his eyes narrowed further, eyebrow quirking in slight interest.

"My apologies, miss, but I honestly have no idea what you're talking about."

The woman snorted in disgust, glowing eyes rolling at him.

"Don't give me that, Batchelder. I know all about your history. You weren't always a blood-sucking scientist, where you? You worked as a doctor, led a completely normal life, and even had a family. A wife, kids. Do you remember that?"

Annaira's smirk began to fade as she gazed at Jeb. His eyes had widened, face completely still. His eyes were beginning to cloud over, body beginning to shake. She was having an impact on him. Might as well continue.

"Then you got a job offer. One you couldn't resist. You'd be working as a genetic scientist, something you always wanted to do. You were amazed on the first day. The facility was completely new, all the equipment unused. Somehow you managed to land the position Head of your department. It was amazing, your first day on the job and already there was an experiment to be done."

Jeb's eyes were now closed. He breathing came in ragged gasps, his body shaking visibly now.

"The first month or so was harmless enough. Nothing but lab mice and rabbits to test on. Little did you know, something was beginning to work in you that first month. You longed for excitement, for something more than rats and simple testing. Something only few had ever done, something that would change the human race as we know it. So you began testing on humans."

Annaira shifted in her seat, tilting her head in mock interest. Her eyes glowed with hate.

"Do you remember the first baby, Jeb? Barely a month old, readily donated by a teenage mother for drug money. Perfectly healthy boy, could have lived a somewhat normal life. He was dead in a week.

"A year passed, and amazingly your lab managed to continue their human experimentation. Partly because nobody notified the government, and partly because you would have given your life to keep it a secret. No, you would never go back to testing on mice and rabbits. You even managed to keep your conscience at bay by telling yourself the babies were doomed anyway.

"Eventually, though, the government did find out. Luckily you were able to escape with the few experiments you had, covering all evidence of human experimentation. Still, the lab closed down, leaving you and your colleagues jobless. Which didn't really matter.

"Within the next month you received a letter from your former agency, inviting you to join their new secret project. The Higher Living would continue their human experimentation, even if it forced them into a small laboratory with next to no funding. Things were bleak, but you saw a future in it all. The human race depended on you.

"You weren't in the pathetic excuse for a laboratory long. Soon the Higher Living began receiving funding from an anonymous donor. Thus the School was built, just miles away from your home. Convenient. You didn't have to move your wife anywhere. Which was good, because she was already beginning to complain about the time your job consumed. Because really, it was changing you. You began to distance yourself. From your family, your friends, the love of your life. Soon your job became priority number one, the secret of it all your life."

Annaira's eyes had begun to cloud over as she gazed intently at Jeb, searching his guilty eyes.

"Another year passed. Experimentation became more intense, studies ever growing. However, it was becoming harder to find subjects. Not as many people were willing to give up a child. Slowly your hunger for change became a starvation. By now you knew enough about humans and their reactions, about diseases and malfunctions. You wanted more.

"The answer to your problems came via a short but revolutionary letter from an anonymous source. A secret facility was to be built in New York, underground. In return you were promised a promotion and a revolution. You couldn't resist.

"Your wife almost left you when you told her about moving to New York. She refused to go. Thus, you promised to be home within the month, leaving your wife and newborn daughter for a much greater project. Once in New York you found that construction was already well under way. By the end of the month the Institute was nearing it's opening day. Still, you had to go home. You'd promised your wife.

"Once back home, your life became unbearably boring. Your wife was the same, if not more irritable towards you, your daughter was too young to be of any interest, even your job was boring. Boring only because you knew something was going to happen soon. Something revolutionary, something huge. Something that would happen at the Institute, and you weren't even there. Every day you were home became torture. You thought of nothing but what would happen in the future. You could hardly wait.

"You didn't have long to wait. Soon an invitation came in the mail, inviting you to the grand opening of the Institute. It promised a revolutionary unveiling. The next day you were on a plane without your wife even knowing it. But that didn't matter."

Jeb had gone completely still by now, his eyes wide and glassy. A smile spread onto his face. Annaira continued in a low voice.

"The unveiling was of something no one had ever dreamed of. Luxlucious. Fully grown, no younger than eighteen. With a fully formed pair of wings. Wings. You could never have asked for anything better. All your longings, your cravings for something greater, and there he sat. A revolution.

"Needless to say, within the next week the Institute was alive with experimentation. Firstly, you had to discover how Lux could possibly be the way he was. You never did properly figure it out, though you did find his DNA to be a bit odd. Not entirely human. Perhaps it was a bit avian.

"When you left the Institute a month later, only because your wife was irate, two experiments had already been successful. How long they would last, nobody knew. Still, two babies had successfully had their DNA mixed with avian DNA.

"Two years passed at home. The Higher Living had learned that it was much easier to inject a life form with foreign DNA while still forming. Oddly, plenty of mothers were willing to aid the School. Mostly wives and girlfriends of the scientists, though. Experiments had branched well beyond the avian variety. Some were successful, some failed miserably. Most never made it past a year.

"Another year, and the Higher Living hit a dilemma. More so, they were hungry for more knowledge. If a newborn was injected with foreign DNA, it would be successful but only for a short period of time. Things were still forming, you concluded, and thus it was harder for the body to take. If injected before birth at an early stage in the pregnancy, the foreign DNA would become more a part of the body. But, what would happen if DNA was injected at an older age?"

Annaira's voice became dark, laced with malice and disgust.

"Oddly, few people were willing to donate a child over the age of two. Except you, Jeb. You knew that this was for the greater good, for all of mankind. It had to be done. And who better to have the opportunity to be great than your own daughter?

"So you kidnapped your own daughter, three-year-old Max. Your wife didn't know what had happened. How could she? She knew nothing of went on at the School and Institute. Why should she know? She wouldn't understand it. She'd try to stop it all. You couldn't have that. Especially this, your daughter. She would be great.

"You didn't even think about what would happen it the experiment was a failure. You couldn't think about it. Luckily the experiment was a success. Your daughter had been injected with avian DNA, and within a week showed signs of a forming pair of wings. Her bones became weaker as they attempted to hollow out, her lungs and heart grew to a larger size. With the help of a few surgeries, you had a living bird/human hybrid. Just like Luxlucious. A revolution had begun."

Annaira blinked rapidly as she drew herself away from Jeb's thoughts. She shuddered as the effects hit her. Voice trembling, she barely managed to get the last of the story out.

"Six years later you had five more bird/human hybrids, and twelve other developing experiments. Not to mention a new race of wolf/humans. Your job consumed you, barely leaving any time for your wife and new son. You started taking Ari to work, to give him a chance to see his sister. To spend more time with him. To get him ready for what would happen to him. You didn't think he'd tell anyone what he saw, because you told him it was a secret. Little boys are horrible secret keepers, Jeb.

"He told his mother. She blew up at you. She screamed, she cried, she begged. She hated you. That almost hurt you. Almost. After a few hours of fighting she went for the phone, to call the police. You were mad, fearful, insane. She dropped to the floor when you hit her, never to wake again."

Again Annaira shuddered.

"That's your life Jeb. You threw everything away for an experiment. But it wasn't all you, was it? Something helped along with your change. Something that ultimately brought about this Jeb, this bloodsucking, evil, white-coat Jeb. The same change brought about the Director in you, didn't it?"

Annaira smirked as Jeb blinked, pulling himself from his stupor. His eyes slowly became clear again as he regained recognition. A questioning look spread across his face as he analyzed the question.


Annaira had pulled herself from the chair and crossed to the door, settling Jeb with a malicious stare. Her voice came cold and hard as he stared at her.

"Good evening, Jeb. Thank you so much for the information."

Jeb could only blink as she left, leaving no time for him to yell at her. Or stop her. Kill her, question her. Become the Director.

Outside the door Annaira leaned herself against the wall. A shiver went through her body as the remnants of Jeb's thoughts rushed through her. His mind was cold, filled with regret and desire. Fearful and prideful, meek and strong. It was confused. He was confused. Someone had molded Jeb into the person he was today.

Slowly standing straight, Annaira shuddered once more. Three guesses who had changed Jeb into such a dark creature. All along she had never known it, never even guessed it.

As she muttered the words of departure, throwing herself into a dark In-Between world, one thought raced across her mind.

Noxnoctis had much more planned than she thought.

22. Act Twenty two

Once more, it's been a very long time since I've updated. How shameful of me. That probably explains why I've lost all my readers...it makes me all sad inside...

However, I have not forgotten this! I shall post a chapter tonight, and if someone reviews soon, I vow to keep updating more frequently! Though I won't take a Vow such as Lux took...that would be painful...(hinthint)

P.S. I have up to thrity-six chapters written. If I were you, I'd review quickly.

Chapter Twenty-Two

The opening of the cave was wide and round, not exactly the best place to hide, but it would have to do. Lux landed somewhat ungracefully at the lip of the cave, Max landing perfectly beside him. Eyes narrowed slightly he stared into the cave; it was dark, but he could hear rustling inside. The rest of the Flock had already gone in, now including Max. Cautiously he too slipped into the cave, ducking slightly to enter.

He found that it was slightly lighter inside the cave than he had thought. The figures of the Flock could be seen easily, moving about the cave to settle in for the night. Fang and Iggy had set to work starting a fire with matches from their pack, while Nudge and Max sat preparing a quick meal. Angel and Gazzy sat huddled together just beyond the fire.

As the fire crackled into life, the whole Flock came to crouch around it. The flames cast flickering shadows on their tired, worried faces. Looking up at him with a feeble smile, Angel slid to the side to make an opening for him. He hesitated for a moment, but a mew from Kitty had him occupying the open space. Kitty content in his lap and all but Fang okay with his presence, they ate a peaceful dinner.

Minutes after the food was hastily gobbled the Flock were ready for sleep. Fang was the first to take guard duty, to be relieved by Iggy three hours later. Lux watched with interest as the members of the Flock stacked their fists, tapped their hands, and mumbled a feeble goodnight. With that done Fang went to the opening of the cave and the other Flock member's fell to the floor.

Lux, not exactly fond of fire, chose to settle to the far left and back of the cave. Kitty immediately curled catlike next to him, tail flicking and purring deeply. He watched her for a moment, faint smile making it's way onto his face. He was glad Kitty had made it this far with him. She was like his little sister, nay, his daughter. If Kitty had been left behind, he didn't know what he would have done.

With those thoughts swimming through his mind, Lux drifted off. For the first time in a few nights, he dreamed his memory. It was the same. The forest, the glade, the woman. Except this time he stood studying her. Yes, she looked extremely familiar. Her hair was a pale silvery-white, her wings gleaming silver to match. She was slight, her skin was pale. For a moment he caught the shine of her eyes.

They were silver.

Curious as usual, he moved to step forward. As usual, the memory collapsed around him. While he lay regaining his senses, the sound of muffled voices reached his ears. Quietly, he listened.

"I say we go our separate ways."

"Fang, you know we can't do that."

"Why not, Max? We know nothing about them. They could be dangerous."

Lux kept his eyes closed as Fang and Max turned to look at him. He could feel their strong auras, thus giving him an image of the people around him. The three younger Flock members lay sleeping around the fire-pit, the blind boy sat listening by the cave opening, and the two leaders were crouched in the back of the cave. He knew they looked at him because Fang's aura became hostile while Max's flushed with sympathy.

It was a handy, if not tiresome, power he wielded.

His tense body relaxed as the two looked away. He heard Max give a sigh, laced with indecision and exhaustion.

"I know, but we can't just leave them. They're one of us."

He thought he heard Fang snort.

"Seriously, Fang. Besides, we were supposed to meet. Like it or not, they're part of our fates."

Fang's aura went icy as he undoubtedly glared at Max.

"Let me guess, your voice told you that." His voice matched his aura, dark and cold.

There was a rustling as Fang pulled himself up. Max's aura became frantic and angry.

"Fang, don't be like that. Fang. Fang, don't walk away from me!"

Lux stiffened as Fang brushed pass him, making his way towards Iggy to relieve him of guard duty. Max stayed in the back of the cave, blinking slowly. Her aura pulsed with uncertainty and sorrow. Poor thing.

As everything shifted back to normal, Lux decided it was safe to open his eyes. Sliding them open slowly, he blinked as his sensitive pupils adjusted to the darkness. He found he was laying awkwardly on his side, staring at the dark wall of the cave. Shifting himself up onto his elbows he stretched out his wings slightly; a bit sore, but nothing to bad. Eyes fully adjusted, he took a look around the cave.

Ahead of him, sitting at the lip of the cave, were the figures of Iggy and Fang. It seemed as if Iggy had fallen asleep against the wall, and Fang was still fuming. Around the dully-glowing fire were Nudge, Angel, and Gazzy, all stretched out and snoring. Max had taken to busying herself with cleaning up last nights dinner, her face set into a scowl. She looked tired.

Yawning at the thought, Lux realized he himself was well rested. A bit weary from the flight, but rested nonetheless. The light glow was even starting to come back to his feathers. It was very faint, but it was there.

Yawn passed, Lux looked down to the ground beside him. Fully expecting to see Kitty's small balled-up figure, his eyes widened when he saw nothing but dirt and a few white hairs. Pushing himself into a sitting position, he searched the cave frantically.

A sigh escaped his lips as his eyes landed on Kitty. She was sitting just in front of him, leaning against the cave wall. Her legs were pulled to her chest, pale arms wrapped tightly around them. She had her chin resting on her knees, her lip set into a pout, and her eyes wide in fascination. Of course, it was hard to tell when her eyes were truly widened or just normal. The glimmering emerald-orbs were wide to begin with.

Lux moved himself forward, sitting himself next to the girl. He made sure to avoid her flicking tail. The girl didn't seem to notice as he placed himself an inch from her side. Smirking slightly, he brushed a stray chunk of fluffy hair from her face, scratching behind her cat-ears as he did so.

She loved when he scratched her ears. Normally, anyway. Frowning, he noticed her ear didn't so much as twitch. Eyes narrowed, he followed her steady gaze. She was either staring outside the cave, or at the lanky form of Iggy.

'It's Iggy. Too dark outside.'

Lux nodded, fully cursing himself for thinking to loudly. Then again, how could he not think loudly about something like this? His Kitty was staring at a guy she'd had her arms wrapped around last night. That had to mean something, right?

The girl giggled softly. She shifted her gaze up to him for a moment, playfully batting his arm. Luckily she remembered to keep her claws retracted.

'Oh, Lux, stop it! You don't have to worry abou' that!'

Lux noticed she sighed both in the natural and in her mind. Her gaze returned to Iggy, eyes literally glowing as her pupils enlarged to take in light.

'We're really not that different, y'know.'

Lux resisted the urge to snort. Kitty had never been this serious before.

"Right, you're a deaf cat and he's a blind bird. Not different at all."

He ruffled her hair as she looked up at him, face scowling and lips set into a pout. Looking away, he wrapped his own arms around his legs.

"I know what you're saying, Kitty. You're not the only experiment they totally messed up."

Lux blinked for a moment. Kitty looked up at him, giggling.

'Did you just say totally?'

He grimaced, avoiding her laughing eyes.

"Well, that depends on what you heard. Or rather, what you didn't hear. Didn't hear but read, sort of. Heard the thought."

'Don't try confu'sing me, Luxy. You said totally!'

Lux smiled to himself as the girl went into a giggling fit. After about ten more minutes she calmed down, snuggling against him and purring. They sat like that for what must have been hours, perfectly content with each other's presence and the fact that other experiments were with them. Perhaps they were outsiders for now, but every person in the cave shared something in common. That had to count for something.

As the two watched the sun painting it's colors against the dark sky, the rest of the Flock slowly began to wake. The fire was rebuilt and breakfast served to sleepy kids, which is really quite a task. Max and Fang seemed to avoid each other, but both seemed to have calmed down.

Well, that is until Kitty decided to thwack Fang with her tail repeatedly. Iggy, who was next to Fang, received a firm whack on the head from a disgruntled Fang, much to Kitty's discontent.

Thus, when they all gathered to leave the cave, all were happy for the warm breeze that rustled through their sore wings.

Except Fang, of course. Wind doesn't feel to great blowing against cat scratches.

Remember what I said about reviewing? And yes, I'm bribing you with fourteen more chapters. So hop to it!

23. Act Twenty three

If you're reading this...thank you! Whether you're a new reader or old, thank you so much! If you're an old reader, I'm terribly, horribly, awfully, dreadfully, appalingly sorry I haven't updated in so, so, so very long. I'm afraid I lost inspiration, interest, and passion in this. (Plus a good bout of laziness and every-day life hit me. D)

I've finally realized, however, that I do need to continue this, because I'm terribly fond of all my lovely Guardians, their plot, and Maximum Ride. Which, by the way, I definitely do not own. Which is sad...JP should hand Iggy over to me...

So without further ado, more of the story!

Chapter Twenty-three

"See, if we take this route, it'll get us there by Wednesday at least."

I sighed heavily, brow furrowed as we studied the map. "Oh, and what day is today?"

Fang gave me a quizzical look. "Monday. Anyway, Wednesday night we should be in the capital, as long as we keep the speed we've been going at. That should include rest stops, but no unexpected stops."

"Like saving some random girl, getting shot, and then spending a few days with really nice strangers, right?" I attempted a quirked smile at Fang. He just stared at me. Honestly, it wasn't my fault he didn't like Lux. Why keep taking it out on me?

I gave up as he kept staring at me, sighing lightly. Mumbling, I turned my attention back to the map spread out on the table. It wasn't the greatest of maps, but it at least showed basic routes and interesting landmarks. Hey, it was a buck. I'm not complaining.

Right, so here's the situation now. We left the cave at dawn, and we've been flying for about ten hours. We'd veered out of New Jersey and into Pennsylvania, and let me tell you, it's a big ol' country state. Luckily we had cut in about halfway through it on the far east side, so we were almost through it. Next came Virginia, and we were in.

At the moment we occupied two booths in a Country Buffet restaurant. The town was tiny, so the only choices had been this, and a McDonald's and Chinese place located in a strip mall. Technically we didn't have to stop, thanks to the ever-mysterious Annaira, but I thought it'd be nice.

Plus I could've swore I heard a chopper up in the air. As in the School's chopper.

You know what they say; you're never paranoid if someone is really after you.

So, I took my crew down as fast and casually as I could. It was about lunch time anyway, so nobody questioned it. Fang did give me a suspicious stare, and I think Lux was studying me suspiciously, but I can't be sure.

Maybe he was just studying me. For some odd reason unbeknownst to me.

We had been in the restaurant for about an hour now. I made sure our booths were by a big set of windows, close to the door, and directly under a skylight. Fang, Gazzy, Angel and I sat in one booth, while Nudge, Iggy, Lux and Kitty sat behind us.

The little guys in my booth were digging into ice cream, and behind us Iggy and Nudge were practically sleeping due to overstuffed stomachs. Lux was watching everything with his odd, studying gaze, grinning to himself every once in a while. Kitty stared up at him, purring, and she too giggled once every few minutes. I guessed they were having a conversation. I thought I'd heard faint whispering. In my head, of course.

Though I'm sure Lux would have said something if anything was wrong, I did a quick check of the place. Seeing nothing remotely suspicious, I turned back to Fang. He was sitting across from me, finger tracing out our route on the map spread on the table between us. He had made a quick run to the gas station across the street just after we'd ordered our numerous amounts of food. Luckily, the older waitress didn't ask why we wanted so much. She did question why Kitty wanted her fish fillet raw, though. Lux avoided that by slipping over to the Chinese place to pick her up some sushi. Yum.

My troops safe, our journey planned and our stomachs full, I sighed the heaviest sigh I've ever sighed, which I seemed to be doing a lot of lately. I rested my elbows on the table, dropping my head into my hands.

"Max, you okay?" Glancing up, I found Fang staring at me. Concern was written all over his normally emotionless face.

"Yeah, I'm fine. This is all just catching up with me."

Little Angel, who was swinging her legs in that annoying but cute way, looked up at me with her big blue eyes.

"Don't worry, Max. It's just our life. You'll get used to it." She smiled up at me, displaying chocolate coated teeth.

I lifted my head, settling her with a warm gaze. Honestly, after all this she still managed to be just as adorable as before.

"If you say so." Rustling her hair, I turned my attention back to Fang. He was still staring at me with concern.

"What? Fang, I'm okay, I promise. It's nothing new."

He didn't seem convinced. "Nothing new from the Voice?"

I shook my head. Behind me Lux perked up in his seat, settling me with his penetrating stare. Sheesh, first Fang and now Lux. Was it a weird macho-dark-guy thing?

Note to self: Fill Lux in on everything.

Almost as if he had read my mind, Fang switched his concerned look to a narrow-eyed glare.

'What?' I mouthed.


I rolled my eyes. Seeing my exasperation, he leaned forward over the table.

"Max, we don't know him. He doesn't need to know anything." He hissed, voice low and eyes dark.

Again I rolled my eyes. I leaned over towards him to hiss a retort back, but was interrupted.

"Max, can we go? Please?"

Fang and I both turned our attention to Gazzy. The little boy was fidgeting in his seat, eyes flicking around the room.

"Gaz, what's wrong?" Something was definitely wrong with him. He was beginning to sweat.

"Can we just go, please? Something bad is gonna happen." My heart almost broke as he looked up at me with pleading eyes. He looked truly spooked.

Fang gingerly placed a hand on the boy's shoulder, fixing him with a steady gaze.

"What do you mean, Gazzy? What's going to happen?"

Gazzy's eyes stopped flicking, his gaze fully caught by Fang. His face had gone deathly pale, his eyes suddenly unfocused. His lips barely moved as he spoke.

"They're coming."

Fang and I looked at each other. That was enough for us. Nodding at him, he quickly moved out of the booth and gathered the troops. I pulled out a wad of cash, fully knowing it was probably fifty over our bill, and set it on the table. Quickly I slid out, pulling Angel behind me.

"Fang, get Gazzy!" Gazzy was still sitting in his seat, transfixed and unmoving. Fang scooped the boy up and threw him over his shoulder, hurrying to catch us as we hurried out the door.

Just as the doors closed behind us, we heard a crash from inside the restaurant. A few screams followed, along with a gunshot.

"Run and fly!" I cried frantically. Quite frankly, I could care less if anyone saw us right now. There was someone inside that restaurant that was more than likely coming for us. If I had to choose between our lives and our secrecy, I'd choose our lives. 'Cus I'm good like that.

We ran right through the road and towards and open field for flight. As soon as they reached the outskirts, Lux, Iggy, and Nudge took off into the air. Behind me I heard a screech as a car stopped, followed by two gunshots. A bullet brushed past my ear. Quickly I grabbed Angel, who had stopped to pick up a fallen Total, and threw her into the air. She snapped her wings out, pushing hard to stay up. Taking a giant leap I did the same, struggling to catch up with the others.

Only when we were a mile or so up did I look towards the ground. Police had gathered around the area, along with nosy civilians. One of them caught my attention; she had pale skin, long black hair, and was clad entirely in black. She was holding a jet black feather in her hand.

I swear, she was looking right at me.

A/N : To my MaxRide website readers, I know this is an old chapter. Just bear with me for a while. I have up to chapter 36 fully written already, and I'm definitely going to start writing more. So just hang tight!

24. Act Twenty four

So I received a very flattering review for the last chapter. Which I am very, very grateful for. I'm not entirely sure everything said about my story was true, I'm sure it could use improvements. But it definitely makes me want to keep writing.


Before I start writing new chapters, however, I have to first read through everything I do have written. I have the tendency to hide things in my writing, things that I normally forget about until I read it again. So for a while I'll be re-reading my writing, making sure the plot is as it should be, and then I'll continue writing.

Have no fear, though, I'll continue posting the old chapters. And hopefully I'll have new chapters very, very soon!

Chapter Twenty-four

What did it all mean? This had obviously been planned from the very beginning. Had Nox been counting on all of this to happen?

Annaira sat nervously on her bed, head resting in her hands. The floor-to-ceiling windows were covered by thick curtains, throwing her room into and endless abyss of shadows. Perhaps not the greatest idea while in fright of Nox, but he wasn't home right now. Annaira had come home to an empty castle. It seemed everyone was gone; the cook, the butler, the messenger, and Nox. She had done a quick sweep of the castle for any trace of thoughts and had found none. Of course, that didn't mean Nox wasn't there.

Nox had planned all this. It was he who had anonymously restarted the Higher Living Foundation. He had recruited Jeb. He had changed Jeb. Along the way he had captured Luxlucious and kept him contained. But why? Why hadn't he simply destroyed them all?

Annaira let out a heavy sigh. Had Nox really planned all this? Did he know she would show up to free Lux? Probably. Her love for Nox was out of sympathy. Her love for Lux was true. That could be counted on.

Had he known Lux and the Flock would be united? Most likely. That was a given. Obviously she knew all about the Flock and their powers. Thus, she would bring the two together in hopes of in time finding Ciel.

What exactly was the connection between Lux and the Flock? Why were the Flock so important? They had powers. But why?

Lux. Noxnoctis had been the source that gave Lux to the Higher Living. Why? He knew that Jeb was becoming a white-coat: curious, intelligent, and thirsty for more knowledge. For a revolution. Lux was a 'human' with wings. Of course Jeb would snap up the chance to replicate that.

With all his failed attempts of splicing avian DNA into a human, going through all the hardships and misunderstanding, of course Jeb would take the easy way; use the DNA of an existing bird/human hybrid. Lux.

But Lux wasn't a bird/human hybrid. The Guardians weren't human anymore. They hadn't been for hundreds of years. Jeb didn't know that. Nox did. Nox also knew Jeb would use Lux's divine DNA to create a new batch of bird/humans.

The Flock weren't fully human. They had Lux's essence; the essence of a Guardian. The powers, the divine nature. The destiny to save the world.

Annaira's eyes widened, her head lifting from her hands. Realization hit her. A realization of a master plan. A master plan wrought not by the Master, but by the exiled-Guardian.

Nox had ultimately created a new set of Guardians.

Whatever he was planning, it was big.

He had had control all along.

Gasping, Annaira stood quickly. She suddenly became aware of a dark presence in the room. Trying to remain calm, keeping her face stoic, her eyes searched the room.

"Looking for me?"

Her eyes widened as a swarm of shadows burst towards her, snaking around and blinding her vision. Just before they engulfed her, she caught sight of Noxnoctis.

He was standing in the corner, smirking.

His eyes shone with insanity.

Thanks for reading! Reviews are highly valued. As are you, my faithful readers!