The Numbers by katklaws

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Family, Tragedy
Published:2008-06-30 18:46:06
Updated:2008-06-30 18:46:06
Packaged:2021-04-22 03:19:04
Summary:They have escaped countless enemies, evaded death's embrace at every turn. But now, it has come from within, lying in wait with no warning but six little digits all lined up in a row. Iggy has fallen under first- This is the story of his death. post MR4

The Numbers

The Number

Prologue: The First Stroke of the Black Wings

Iggy woke in the middle of the night with the thick sense of dread in his gut. There was a prickling of pain deep within his neck and shoulders and when he sat up, he was a tad stiff.

This was bad.

He never woke up stiff. Even when he'd been held in dog crates and metal cages for hours on end, he did not wake up this stiff. He was, and needed to be, lithe and nimble, in body and wits. Something was very wrong.

Max seemed to sense it. She came awake moments after him, which in turn woke up Fang, Angel and everyone else. There was a nameless tension in air as they slowly transcended the layers of sleep. Without thinking twice, they gravitated around him. Very, very wrong.

"What is it?" Max whispered. In her chest, there was a terrible weight. Her heart knew something that her mind wouldn't allow herself to process. It was too painful, to poetically wrong. 'There was no justice' sort of thing.

"I don't know," Iggy murmured calmly, slowly rotating his shoulders and extending his wings. There was a sudden crick in his lower neck, causing him to wince ever so slightly. Everyone sucked in a terrified breath. He hurt bad enough to show it physically? Oh god, something was horribly wrong.

He heard the rustling of clothes and recognized Fang's near-silent movements. The older boy's hand was reaching out and came near his neck. Iggy could tell he was waiting for permission and he nodded. They had to check. His heart told him this.

Silence as Fang pulled the neck of his shirt down. Silence as they realized what he was looking for. Silence as Fang stared for several long, long heartbeats, face slowly twisting into a terrible mask of pain.

The numbers were there.

"No," Max gasped, pushing Fang aside and looking for herself, but there it was. Six innocent little digits, arranged between slashes to form to the mark of death. Iggy trembled ever so slightly as he began to put the notion into thought. I'm going to die.

Iggy drew a quick, steadying breath, then spoke with icy calm. Too calm. Too calm. "How long?"

Max was choking. Fang seemed to be struggling for breath, for words. Gazzy and Nudge and Angel had pulled themselves over to stare then look away. Total, not completely informed but sensing the unalterable sense of despair in the air, whined in confusion but tried to see as well. Tears were forming as dawn began to spill blood across the horizon. One less second, one less minute, of life.

His voice trembled with the effort it took to repress his fury and despair. "How long?"

"One month," Fang whispered hoarsely.

It then dawned on Total what they were looking at. He began to bark hysterically, "This is a joke, right? After all that's happened, this isn't happening. It can't. It's wrong. It's- it's just not right. It's-"

Iggy laid his hand on the dog's quivering head. There was a terrible certainty in his voice. "It is. There's nothing we can do."

"NO!" someone roared and they all swiveled to Gazzy as he flung himself at his dear friend. Tears tumbled down his pale, beautiful face and their throats tightened as the storm broke. He pounded on Iggy with bunched fists, weak with hysteria, sobbing into his shirt. "You can't, Iggy! You can't be- be going! Stop lying!" But eventually he couldn't speak anymore. The young boy just curled closer to his dear flock-brother and held him tight.

Iggy's wings lay limp behind him, sun striking his pale head of strawberry blond hair. He distractedly rubbed Gazzy's back, a look of total shock on his face. He'd thought that the flock was immune. He'd thought that they could escape the mutants' fate. Surprisingly, he cared little that he was dying. The only thing that mattered to him now was that a whole, darker truth had appeared to his beloved family and he feared the worst- The numbers were coming.