Briser Le Soleil by the-dreary-unicorn

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Adventure, Romance
Characters:Fang, Max
Published:2010-02-22 07:24:37
Updated:2010-02-22 07:24:37
Packaged:2021-04-04 14:45:25
Summary:Max has a secret she can tell no-one else. A power so dark, it could ruin everything she holds dear. When she runs away from her home, a government laboratory called Pandora, she learns she is much more valuable than she thought. AU. I'm bad at summaries.

Table of Contents

1. AN Page
2. Chapter Zero
3. Chapter One

1. AN Page

This entire honking huge chapter/page/I don't care is dedicated to author's notes, summary, disclaimer, etc. If you are brave enough to skip it (which is what I would do if I was you- go figure), then do so and move on to Chapter Zero, just don't tell me I didn't warn you that this fanfic might not be what you are expecting. Otherwise, read on.

Author's Notes

Briser Le Soleil is both an AU and Independent fanfic. While browsing, I noticed that there were boatloads of Independent/Solo Harry Potter fics, but hardly any of the same for Maximum Ride. It's all FAX and romance. (Not that there's anything wrong with FAX or romance, I love reading both, it's just that I can't stand writing it myself. Still, there might be some tiny bits of romance here if I can find the right guy for the job. *cough* Fang in cameo *cough*) So I decided to come out of my shell and write a fanfic where Max is not only in an AU, but is Independent and Solo. There will be hardly any other canon characters in here except for Jeb, in other words, she will be alone.

However, I do plan on inserting some of the canon chars in cameo. They will come up later but in a different unexpected role. Max will act like Max (as much as possible, sarcasm is one of the hardest things to write that I know of), only in the way I've always seen her. If it goes into OOC…then too bad and I'm sorry. T.T; She will have wings. There will be whitecoats, only they are working for a different place than you'd expect.

There you have it. My long warning on how this is not a typical MR fanfic, but a total deviant.

I told you to skip all that rambling, but did you listen…

P.S. WHO comments on the A/N page? Seriously? Please don't bother unless you found something really stimulating on this page that you really need to talk about…On that note, I love you guys! The readers! The explorers! I love you love you love you…


I DO NOT own Maximum Ride or any of the other books/movies/video games that seem to influence this story. If any material in here sounds influenced by a familiar book/movie/video game, then – wait for it – it probably is.

Maximum Ride © James Patterson.


(I suck at summaries. Sorry DX )

Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride has a power inside of her, a power so dark, so terrible, that she must not utter it to a single soul, even the people she trusts most of all. Her entire life, she has lived inside Pandora, a government laboratory in New Mexico. All she knows about the outside is what she watches on television and what she is told by others. Max's father, Jeb Batchelder, takes her on field trips to the real world only very rarely. Her wings are stapled to her back― they can only be removed with a certain surgery that would leave her in severe agony.

One bleak day, Jeb announces out of nowhere that it's time for another field trip to the real world. Fairly eager, trying to alleviate her depression, Max jumps into the car and heads out with him. Not questioning a thing. But something is about to change. A secret so scarring that Max can hardly bring herself to face it is about to be told.

She has been chosen to be the focal point of the government's latest project – a project that will supposedly rip through the barriers of time and space.

No-one knows realizes just how wrong things will go. And when they do, it might be too late.

2. Chapter Zero

A/N: My second fanfic ever! The first one is currently in the operating room despite its only being on the first chapter (Me: nooo….you cannot see….*pulls back the curtains to hide what I'm working on with Feather*) but I plan on actually continuing with this one. I swear on my life, this will AT LEAST see a fifth chapter. It may even go further! Please don't flame, and, if you do, I will flame you back. I will flame you so bad even ninjas won't be able to save you…~`.`~ That's how I roll. If you ever want a review from me on one of your stories, just ask and I'll get to it the second I have time. This is in Max's perspective. It is an Independent/Solo Max in an AU setting. Lots of this will be different from what you know, though Max remains the same witty, winged fourteen-year-old she was in the first few books. And I already posted the disclaimer. So there. From now own, expect a lot less frequent (or at least a lot shorter) A/N's. I don't really like writing them and I know you don't really like reading them…So…here we go!

Briser Le Soleil

By K.E.W.

Chapter Zero



One thing

I don't know why

It doesn't even matter how hard you try

Keep that in mind

I designed this rhyme

To explain in due time, all I know

Time is a valuable thing

Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings

Watch it count down to the end of the day1


Something in the way he smiled, the way he tended to look sideways at me, as though he was trying to stare through a mirror, always made me wonder what he was thinking. He was my father. Jeb Batchelder. Forty-three years old. Blue eyes. Olive skin. Slowly greying, tar black hair. A pocketful of credentials but not one judge willing to attest to it. Lately, he seemed to be starving himself. That's saying something, as I myself had been starved to the brink before. Whenever Dad would come to the lab, and I would happen to see him milling around in his white coat, I would cast him a saddened look as if to say: "Dad, look at the way your clothes hang on you. I can see your collarbone. Your cheeks are sunken. What's going on?"

My mother was gone. Abandoned the both of us a long time ago.

"Max? Honey? Are they hurting you any?" Dad ran a hand across the staples, over the little crink where my wings melded into my back, through a few brown feathers struggling to be free, and over my cold, sweaty skin.

"No. They're fine," I lied.

Truthfully, the staples hurt like living hell. The scientists had said they would. But I didn't have a choice. Never did. They forced it upon me. They gave me two choices: get the surgery or live the rest of your life out as a sedated vegetable. And, if I told Dad about them hurting, sympathy would wash over him like a freaking tidal wave and he'd rush to the infirmary and prescribe me a buttload of medications.

I was already taking enough meds, thank you.

Standing up, I turned my back to the mirror and craned my head to look over my shoulder.

"By golly, well there we have it, don't we?" I said.

These staples weren't by any standards normal. They were huge. Ginormous. Elephant sized. As far as staples go, at least. There were four of them. They had been surgically implanted into my back but a few hours ago― to keep my wings permanently folded. Through the years, I was always an "escape risk." In fact, I even had a few successful escapes under my belt. But that didn't mean these people had to go and freaking staple my wings to my back.

The metal implants gleamed in the florescent light of my cell. My brown and black patterned wings looked pitifully dull. The unusual color came from the hawk DNA flowing through my veins. I touched one, running my hand from one end of it to the other, wincing as a throb of pain flowed into me, jarring my senses. "You know what I want to know?"

"What's that, Max sweetheart?"

"Why would they go to the trouble of creating a human-bird hybrid if they never wanted me to fly? I mean, it's kind of pointless. If they didn't want me to fly, they should've made me, I don't know, a human-rock hybrid or something." I tried my absolute best to play all this off as casual, just another everyday adventure in the Life of Mutant Max, but, in reality, I was devastated. Heartbroken. Having wings but not being able to use them?

The equivalent of being alive but not having a soul.

Dad answered honestly. "Because Pandora doesn't need you to fly in order to understand how you work. Besides, if they ever do want you to fly they can just take them out…but that would leave you in pain for a long time, baby."

I grabbed my white hospital gown from the corner of my bed and put it on, slipping it over my head. After a lifetime's worth of poking and prodding, being half nude around other people never bothered me as much as it bothered the humans on television, but I preferred clothing whenever possible. It fell into a place easily now that my wings were pressed closer to my back than usual.

Forever pressed close, tight as possible, forever and ever and ever and…

Suppressing a sob carried by the current of hopelessness, I went to my bed and jumped on it. The mattress sagged from years of abuse and the springs squeaked. I pulled the crisp colorless sheets up over my legs; they were covered in tiny little goose bumps.

My room was actually an effing nice one― considering it was a prison cell. Eleven and a half feet by thirteen feet (I measured it myself once, by actually pressing my heels up against one of the walls and stepping forward from there, seeing how many steps it took to get to the other side.). White washed walls. Equally white light by means of florescent tubing. Bed pushed up against the far corner. A full mirror. Monitoring equipment. I had a bedside stand, with a lamp, a few books, and my own little stereo. Even more unbelievable, I had a television, hooked to the upper part of the wall across from my bed.

There were two doors, one leading to my bathroom ―complete with shower― and the other leading to the East Hall. The former was made of wood and fairly normal-looking, with a tiny wired window and metal handle. The latter was also made of wood and also had a tiny window…but opening it wasn't as easy as turning the handle. It was equipped for escape-prevention to the brim, often on lockdown mode by the security system.

"You sure they don't hurt, Max? I couldn't take it if you lied to me about something like that."

"Dad, no. Forget it. It's okay."

"I can't stand to see you in any pain, you know that…"

I shook my head. If he only knew that the emotional pain, the pain of feeling your soul ripped from your heart, was what hurt the most.

"They already gave you some acetaminophen, but I could suck up and get you more if you need it."

"I don't need it, alright?" Dad's face dropped, hurt, his brows sinking into place just above his navy blue eyes. I compensated. "…Sorry. It's just that I have to take a handful of horse pills every night as it is. I think I'm gonna survive without another dose of acetaminophen. Doesn't hurt that bad."

For a moment he hesitated, unsure whether to believe me, but then, smiling at last, he pulled a pen from the pocket of his lab coat. "Alrighty then." Dad took a clipboard from a shelf fastened to one of the metal bars at the foot of my bed. Glancing at me occasionally, for reference, he took his time writing out the day's report.

Welcome to Purgatory, Max. So much worse than Hell. At least in Hell you get the thrill of the chase. Here there is nothing but the cage. Nothing but the solitude. No way to get out of it this time. You'll probably die in this exact same place. Sighing, I propped up two of my pillows against the wall and melted down into the bed. My mind could be a bit morbid sometimes. I needed to work on controlling its more angsty moments.

Dad finally pulled the report from the clipboard and folded it twice, sticking both the piece of paper and the pen in his pocket. He put the board back.

Hoping my eyes weren't watery with tears, which would undoubtedly give me away, I glanced over at him. There was something I had to tell him before he left me here for the night:


"Yeah, hun?" His shoes click-clicked against the smooth surface of the tiled floor as he started to walk away.

"I love you."



You know the one thing you don't want to hear or see when you turn on your television at eleven o' clock at night, your back hurting beyond freaking belief, hoping for something really depressing that will make you feel sorry for someone else instead of yourself for once?

I'll tell you.

What you really don't want to hear or see when you turn on your television at eleven o' clock at night, your back hurting beyond freaking belief, hoping for something really depressing that will make you feel sorry for someone else instead of yourself for once is the scene from The Lion King where Simba and Nala make up after meeting for the first time.

"Can you feel the love tonight? The peace the evening brings…The world, for once, in perfect harmony…"

Sorry Disney. But, no, I wasn't really feeling the love. Not at all actually.

I looked away. I didn't want to see all the gushy, cheesy stuff, but this was the only channel I got ―AQSBC, all PG-rated movies, all the time― but I also felt an intense need for background noise. Settling for halfway was better than nothing.

I set down the remote. Pulling aside the crisp sheets, I climbed out of bed. Ghostly blue light from the television played hide and seek with the darkness, flickering off of every surface.

Aside from a select few, mainly at the security stations, the lighting systems in Pandora had been shut off. Policy. All the scientists had gone home an hour ago. I had always been curious how they did it. Generally, the evening staff had about twenty-three scientists to its name, and the dirt road leading away from Pandora was insanely narrow. If they all left at the same time, well, that would be one hell of a caravan.

That wasn't to say nobody was still working here. There was security, par usual. There were also few scientists that either lived in Pandora or were lagging behind. And emergency medical staff in case I randomly started dying or something.

I was the only subject in this place. Actually, I was the only subject currently in government possession. If I was to believe in what Dad said, I always had been. Before this modern age, the government had never been so adventurous as to try an experiment on a live human being. I was the first…except for...except for…

No. I couldn't talk about him. I could never talk about him.

Sudden pain jabbed through my back the moment I got up. Flesh strained against metal staples. Muscles knotted. Wings pulsated. I let out a cry, stumbling back against the side of the bed. I shuddered.

"No, Max," I told myself. "Stop it. You don't hurt that much. You know you don't." Sucking in a breath, I pushed myself back to my feet and continued forward to the bathroom, holding back tears all the way. Water dripped from the sink faucet. Drip. Drip. Drip. It was always running; the concierge bunch never seemed to get around to fixing it. Shadows devoured shadows, turning the bathroom into a pitch black wonderland ―luckily, my eyes had long since become adjusted to the night.

"You needen't look too far…stealing through the night's uncertainties…"

I placed my hands on the sink's edge: cold, ceramic, a little wet from the water I scattered while brushing my teeth earlier, and let my legs sag, arms now supporting most of my weight. "Oh my Goooddd," I moaned. "God, God, God, God, God fucking God…!" If God never realized that I didn't consider his name holy ground…he sure as hell did now.

This wasn't fair. Sure, before now, I would have reprimanded myself if I started calling things "not fair." Life was never fair and that was obvious to me. But, damn it, this was an eternity. A lifetime of being grounded. Never tasting freedom. Ever. Locked up day after day after day. Even I had to eventually admit it freaking sucked.

The first tears fell, tracing sticky lines down my cheek. Yet again, I shuddered from my aching wings and throbbing back. I took in a sharp breath through my nose, attempting to hold back a volley of sobs. I couldn't see anything in the mirror over the sink, though I looked. It was too dark.

I had to face the facts. Couldn't act tough and impervious to damage forever. I was now, officially, not going to get out of this place. They had decided to make sure of that. A quick operation equaled my everlasting doom. Yeah, I could try and run away. But I could only try. Not to mention that running away, sans the use of my wings, would probably equal an eventual death of dehydration in the maze of New Mexican desert. If I was lucky, and didn't get lost in the desert, I would make it to the highway. There I would eventually be picked up by a member of the government security force, wandering the road― looking for me.

Without my wings I was nothing.

Zip. Nada.

My shoulders heaved and I leaned forward, still more tears pouring forward, the jittery breaths through my nose coming faster and faster. Instinct kept telling me to not feel sorry for myself. Emotion told me to screw it and just cry already. So that's what I did. Breath burst from my mouth, free at last. I howled. I rested my head in the crook of my arms and howled.

Sooner rather than later, my legs became so weak that they collapsed under me, and I was left kneeling against the sink. Shoulders still heaving. Back still hurting. Tears still streaming. Eyes still burning. Hands wringing in the cloth of my white hospital gown. A few of my wails were so loud I that worried one of the staff would hear me and come into my room, to give me anti-psychotics or relaxant drugs out of some kind of sick, twisted compassion.

At least I had one thing.

It was all I had now that my wings were useless. A secret no-one knew but me. A secret that, if I told anyone, would ruin my life even more than it was already ruined. A secret I learned about when I was a little girl, when I had gotten into the drug storage room and wormed my way into one of the cabinets…

Even though I could feel pain, even though some of the experiments done to me were so harmful I could taste probable death on my tongue, I, Maximum Ride, could never die.


What it meant to me will eventually be a memory

Of a time when I tried so hard

And got so far

But in the end,

It doesn't even matter.

I had to fall…

to loose it all.

But in the end, it doesn't even matter.

To remind myself how I tried so hard…


1 Lyrics ©Linkin Park, In the End.

3. Chapter One

A/N: This is sort of a long chappie. Sorry if it's too long. DX No, by the last line of the first chapter she did NOT mean she was immortal. She is really fourteen years old and didn't have any past lives. She is simply invulnerable, kinda sorta of like Claire from Heroes but with a secret twist. Oh, and one of the characters in here is a canon character in a cameo role. Guess who. :P Warning to boys: There is a part about girly shower stuff in here…so…

Max: Stop writing really long A/Ns! Just stop it. My story is awaiting telling and you said you would stop. *throws a pillow really hard at me*

Me: Nuuuu!!!!! Pillows are deadly!…*hides*

Fang in His Cameo Role as ________: Did someone say girly shower stuff? *squints one eye and smiles*

The Two of Us Girls: 0.o oh wow….

Chapter One



"I have no idea who you are, but I'm sure that a man brave enough to operate a security camera must be very cute."

The red light near the eye lens of the camera blinked a few times.

"Oh, you're checking me out now, aren't you?"

The next day I had woken up with a smile. Big wow, huh? I mean, who smiles when their life has officially spiraled into Purgatory? Yet I did. I woke up feeling fresh, alive, vibrant, witty. Yeah, my face was red and puffy, sticky from the night's tears. My wings and back still ached. They were still stapled down. My throat was sore. But…dang did I feel good.

After I had rubbed the sleep and crusties out of my eyes I decided to stand up on the bed and do my usual morning thing― give whoever it was that worked the security cameras trouble. I never knew who it was. I hoped it was a guy. If it was a girl behind the camera…then….well…Anyway, every morning, like clockwork, I would stand up on my bed and give the camera person guff. Sometimes I flirted. Other times I recited poetry. Still other times I acted out little plays.

It had always been there, sleek and black, hooked to the upper corner wall over my bed, keeping an eye on me. But I didn't find out just how fun it could be until a year back.

Flashing red, the clock on my stereo revealed the time: 4:37AM. Dad didn't come until five or so. I probably still had lots of time to torment the camera person, making myself feel better in the process.

"I was thinking, you know, you'll probably be off before Dad gets here, and well, my room is always open to security personnel." Fluttering my eyelashes teasingly, I mentally peered through the glass lens, pretending to be looking into the poor guy's soul.

Whoosh. With the sound of the door opening, a current of cold air flowed into my room, and I went stiff. Immediately, one thought ran through my head: no way. "Max? What are you doing with the camera?"

Before I hopped down from my bed, I gave the camera a wink and a pointing finger. "Call me."


"I was just, um, having a conversation with the, um, security people."

What was he doing here so early? Very un-Jeb Batchelder-like of him. I prayed that another painful surgery or experiment wasn't in order for me― that would take these people from sadistic neo-Nazis to lunatic neo-Nazis. And nobody likes those. Nobody likes any kind of Nazi really, but when you're as screwed as I was, and don't have a choice, then you start preferring the lighter type.

"Were you now? Max, please don't flirt with the guy behind the camera."

"But I-"

"He's fifty-two. And he might just take you seriously. Now I'll have to have a talk with him."

I blushed, embarrassment and regret flowing over me in the form of red ears and goosebumps that popped up all across my painfully white-skinned legs. Ooops. "He can hear us already can't he?" Laughing off-handedly, I tried to change the subject. "He has to know it was just a joke, Dad. Relax. Anyway, what are you doing here so early? Sheesh. It's, like, not even five."

I walked over to my stereo and distractedly switched it on. An early-morning talk show streamed through the speakers…No. Definitely not. Now was a time for happiness, not ennui. My only hope for sanity was to put yesterday's staple surgery behind me, forget it, act like today was any other day in the Life of Max. Speaking of which…I pulled open the top drawer of the bedside stand and pulled out my diary. Lord knew the people here had snuck in and read it before, likely under the jurisdiction of my father, to make sure I was keeping out of trouble, but it wasn't like I was stupid enough to keep my darkest secrets in there.

And they didn't really care about my feelings to begin with.

So, whether everyone read it or not, keeping a diary had long been one of my few solaces. Usually, my routine was to turn on a nice song and sit on my bed, writing random thoughts in there until Dad came to work ―at the least, it was a way to keep my literary skills in check.

I tossed it on my bed, alongside my purple pen, then fiddled with the stereo dial, searching for a station that played upbeat music.

"I came early because I wanted to see my favorite daughter, of course."

His only daughter, more accurately. Didn't have much basis for comparison. Freak-avian-mutant-lab-rat-girl was, in the end, his only choice for cutting the daughter mustard.

"Don't even think about taking me to testing early," I growled, half sarcastically, half serious. "Just don't go there."

"Oh no, baby. I wouldn't dream of doing that to you the day after surgery," he said. Points for pity, Dad, but you would have gotten a lot more if you didn't let it happen in the first place…"Actually, I just came to ask you if you wanted to go outside with me today."

Hope fluttering in my chest, I froze, the radio left to crackle, not on any station at all. "Outside, as in, outside?" I asked. I didn't look at him. Outside meant out of the lab. Outside meant the real world, where normal children like me lived, only without wings, free, no cold, locked rooms…Outside was a luxury I only got to have a few times a year.

"Outside as in outside," he confirmed. "Maximum, it's about time I told you."

"Told me what? That there's a chance you might not be my baby daddy?" I joked, starting to fidget with the radio dial again. Inside, I was ecstatic about going outside, and didn't care why we were going. As long as the reason wasn't too crazy.

"No, Max. There's this woman I've been dating. Her name is Esmeralda Amparo. And I really think it's time that you met her."

Well that just about made my heart slam into the freaking wall.

I stopped what I was doing. Luckily, this time I had found a station with music― eighties rock and roll. I looked at Dad. God, he was getting pathetic. His clothes really did hang loosely on his body. His cheekbones showed. So did his collarbone. His hands looked deathly, as though there wasn't enough skin to wrap around them. Today he hadn't worn typical lab attire; draped over his undernourished body was a pair of grey jeans and a blue t-shirt.

I refused to believe it. After all, any woman insane enough to accept with open arms a man who not only works at a government laboratory but keeps his daughter locked up inside one was a woman I did not want to meet. He always could have lied to her about me, yet I did not want to think about that possibility. Mental chills flowed through my soul, threatening to leak into my emotions, and I shook my head. Nope. Not possible. Nuh-uh.

"Dad, you know what you need to do?" I said. I got onto my bed, pulling my legs up beside me and grabbing my diary and pen. "You need to stop yanking my chain and get something to eat. Look at you. It's sad. I'm in better shape than you are."

"I'm serious, damn it. Please just try to listen to me." He came up to the side of the bed and rested his arms on it. His blue eyes were burning with intention. His grey-black hair had been combed neatly, slick against his scalp. "I love her. I've been dating Esmeralda for three years now."

Three years? Dang. If she was real, Dad was on a roll.

"Yeah. Did you ever tell 'Esmeralda' about the whole my-daughter-is-a-mutant-freak thing?"

"No. Do I look stupid to you? I've always told her that you lived with your mother in California, and you only visit every few years."

"Ah, well that's cutting it close, you know." I opened up my diary ―which was actually only a double-ruled pink notebook I jacked from one of the female scientists five months ago― and started writing my thoughts of the moment, in pretty purple ink.

Overhead, the florescent lights of my cell thrummed. I swallowed, trying to alleviate my sore throat, and abstractedly kicked at the sheets as I wrote, forcing them all into a rumpled pile at the end of the bed.

"Please go with me, Max. Meet her. See if you like her."

"Never said I didn't want to go. All I'm trying to say is I don't believe a word coming out of your mouth."

"It's the truth. Don't you trust your own father?" he asked.

"No, not really."


I paused in my writing, thinking. "Well, there's the whole situation with your helping the government experiment with my genetic code while I was in the womb. And all the death threats to my mom before she left us...Right now it's the situation with your keeping me locked up for the rest of my life." I gave him the deepest look of incredulity I could muster. Slamming my diary shut after only writing but a few sparse sentences about dad's 'Esmeralda,' I stood up. "But fine. I'll go. Now scram so I can shower."



Jeb's heart palpitated in his chest. Esmeralda. Her voice. Her voice was like the softest satin. And her touch. He unfortunately could not feel it at the moment, but her touch…her touch was fast but sweet, like the beating wings of a hummingbird. She awaited a response on the other end of the line.

"Yes, we'll be over this afternoon. Be expecting us." He leaned against the security station counter, hands so sweaty it was a wonder he didn't drop the cell phone. Behind him, a red-headed security-woman plugged away on a computer. She wasn't doing work, as she wasn't a secretary. She was just messing around online until something happened that would require her attention. Across the glossy tiled floor from him was the door to Max's cell. He couldn't see inside the window. Too small.

Esmeralda giggled on the other end of the line, and Jeb swore that it was just like the chiming of silver bells.

"Oh, wow! I can't wait to meet Max!" she exclaimed. "You said she never really comes to see you anymore―"

"Yeah, Max can seem so far away sometimes," he lied. "I mean, she's all the way in California. To anyone else, that may just be a couple hundred miles, but to me she might as well be on the moon." Doing his best to sound compassionate about his daughter, Jeb's heart fluttered again.

"I'm so sorry, honey. But she's finally coming up to visit you after all this time. From what you told me, Max sounds like quite the beautiful little girl."

"She is."

That was all he had to say about that. To Jeb, Max was…just Max. His daughter, sure. He cared about her. But there had never been anything he could really do to help her situation. And when he couldn't help Max, he found that the best thing to do was just distance himself from her emotionally and physically, not rushing to her side to help her every time she got zapped on the treadmill, not visiting her every single day, not crying when she got seriously hurt, letting these people have their way with her as much as he could allow.

Naturally, he couldn't tell Esmeralda the truth about his daughter. Never could.

"I hope you guys don't mind home cooking," she said, changing the subject. "My boy will be there. It'll be a real family affair now!" For a second time, she giggled at her own joke.

Jeb beamed. Chills ran through his toes to the top of his head ―his soul had long since taken a one-way dive into a swirling pink puddle of lovey-love. For a second, he glanced over at the door to Max's cell, wondering when she would be ready.

"Not at all. We're going to love it, baby, trust me."

"That's such great news, Jeb. Couldn't take it if my own favorite man didn't like what I was doing for him. Hey. When do you think Max's plane will get here?"

"Oh, she'll be here soon. Really soon, actually."



Back when I first got it, I'd started a list in my notebook-journal thing. A list of the things about my life that either really suck or really make me mad. My hair is one of the things that really makes me mad.

I mean, seriously. Anyone could look at it and tell the stuff was hopeless.

Frizzy. Clumped up to my shoulders from sleeping on it all night. Hell, I didn't even know what color it originally was supposed to be.

Jeb once told me that, when I was a little girl, and the scientists would take me outside to play, that my hair would get all these sun-streaks in it, turning it a golden-copper color. Right. Not anymore. Months of being inside twenty four seven had turned my hair an almond brown, like the color my eyes, just a little lighter. The cute freckles all over my pale skin compensated for the horrid, bland colors a little but not much.

But, like it or not, I needed to get my butt moving and get in the shower. I stripped down and climbed inside after letting the water run for awhile so I didn't freeze to death in the icy currents. Warm water was hard to come by as far out in the New Mexico desert as we were, but that was to be expected.

I had no razors. Only a special cream for removing hair. Razors were considered too much of an obvious suicide risk for the scientist to let me own any. I took care of the rest of the washing process quickly but efficiently, coming out shivering. Wanting to get going on Dad's little field trip as soon as possible, I hurried with everything else, yanking the towel off the rack, patting down my legs, my tummy, my arms, my…

Oh God. Turning my back to the mirror and craning my head over one shoulder to get a better view of it, I finally realized there was a major problem with my wings: Since they were pinned, I couldn't unfold them and dry all my feathers out. At first, it didn't seem like a major problem, but it was. If the feathers were soaked, and I left them all smashed up together like this, then they would get musty. I could get an infection even, or a sore.

Crud. Crud taco. Crud sandwich.

"Super ginormous effing crud..."

'Crud' was my alternative when I was unsure whether an issue was really worth cussing or not. Teeth grinding in frustration, the super bright, orangish lighting in the bathroom making me wince, I set to patting my stapled wings down with the towel.

Like the golden law of the universe states, something is better than nothing.



"Oh, well look at my pretty Max girl," Jeb said the moment he got a look at me.

I guess it was justified. I could count on one hand the number of times in my life where I'd worn normal people clothes instead of a hospital gown. For this particular date, Dad had went all out (he'd probably gone last minute shopping for my clothes the moment 'Esmeralda' decided she wanted to meet me): skinny, straight-lined jeans, wedge sandals (he'd said they were typical for New Mexico girls – I doubted it), a lacy white tank top, and over that a yellow, short-sleeved jacket-thing to hide my wings.

Unlike usual, my almond hair wasn't a disaster; I'd put some effort into making it lay tame and had pulled it up into a pony-tail. On the top of my head rested a pair of sunglasses.

If my skin wasn't ashen from being inside so long, and had a little tan to it, then, hey, I might've actually looked good.

"You ready to go?" he asked, smoothing back a lock of his hair back into place.

I nodded eagerly. Jeb took my hand ―he wasn't being mushy or anything, it was policy in case I tried to bolt― and started leading me out my room and through the eternal maze of hallways that was Pandora. More than once, one of the scientists or guards would give me a kind remark on how nice I looked or wish me a good time in the outside world.

Breath steadily growing shakier, mind spinning at a hundred miles an hour while it tried to digest the events of the past two days, I prayed I wouldn't loose my nerve, that simple spark of wit in my veins, as Dad took me two stories down from my floor to Pandora's front doors. Logically, I wanted to get out of here. I wanted to visit the outside world, if only on a field trip― but it was hard. Stepping outside of your cage is always hard.

"Honey, could you sit right here for me?" Dad motioned at one of the leather couches in the spacious lobby. "I need to find somebody to do your Vow."

Another time, I nodded and took a seat.

The big wigs behind the government's operations here at Pandora were smart enough to know that the father of the country's one and only human experiment could neverbe trusted. He could take me out and let me escape somewhere. He could take me out and try to kill me. He could take me out and sell me to another country or underground company…the list goes on and on. So they set up a policy where I had to make a solemn Vow to behave myself every time I left the lab. My dad wasn't allowed to do it, and if he couldn't find someone, then I stayed.

I occupied the meandering time by looking around the lobby. In the front, there was a row of double doors, pretty much all blue tinted glass. Through them, I could barely see the parking lot and hazy sky. Centered around the fake fire pit in the middle of the room were three red, leather couches. It was no more than three years ago when I finally got over the fact leather is dead cow skin and allowed myself to sit on them without being squeamish. To the far left, the entrance station, where nobody ever really bothered to check in― the Admittance clerk always recognized everyone, and, if she didn't, then she'd corner them anyway. Two the far right was a pair of elevators. The floor was pristine, polished tiles, decorated with a popular Navajo pattern, and the nooks and crannies of this place were clogged with ornamental plants.

Someone could easily walk into Pandora and mistake it for a hotel― if they didn't know better. And if they managed to traverse the seventeen miles of desert and dirt road to get here in the first place.

This floor was the only pretty one. My floor wasn't bad. It was pretty much dedicated to my keeping and well-being. The other three were a mess of scientific stations and experimental rooms that made me shudder to so even think of them.

"Here we go." Dad returned about five or so minutes later, black-suited government worker in tow. I didn't see those types very often. Obviously, he had to go to a lot of trouble to find him. "Have at it, you two." He nonchalantly waved towards me, then left to go back to the entrance station.

Instinctively, heart beating a bit faster for a reason I did not understand, I stood up.

The worker looked me up and down. His face looked to be in a permanent scowl. The brown color of his eyes was dim, his dark skin looked cold. "Do you want to do this?" he asked.

"What do you think?" I smirked.

"Then, by all means, let's begin." Folding his hands behind his back, he at last smiled. "Is your name Maximum Ride?"

"Yes," I answered. "Boy. One question and I'm already on a roll."

"Do you live here in Pandora?"

"Always have."

"What are your intentions for leaving Pandora with your father this afternoon?"

"Apparently, he says I'm supposed to meet his girlfriend."

"What is the name of this girlfriend?"

"Some chick called Esmeralda…that's all I know. Sorry."

He shook his head. "Now for the fun questions. Maximum Ride, given the opportunity, if you were left alone, were lost or had a clear break, would you run away or would you wait for one of us to come and find you?"

What do you think?

"Oh hells no like I'd up and run away! I'd wait for one of you to come find me."

A/N: Yeah, yeah, that was probably the most boring chapter in the entire freaking world, but I promise the next one will start to pick things up! And that's also when a certain *ahem* Fang *ahem* enters in his cameo role. I promise it'll get better! I kind of needed to do this chapter anyway, even though it's boring, because I needed the filler. I don't like it when fanfic chapters are like ten paragraphs long and jump around and have no description. I want to take things slowly, so you can care about it more than you would if I just wrote it as a bunch of diary entries. I know Max isn't as serious as she was in the books, here she likes to joke more often. But still. And, wow, over 3,500 words to this chappie! Sweet balls. XD