If I Were a Rich Man by SilverScreech

Category:Maximum Ride
Genre:Adventure, Romance
Characters:Fang, Max
Published:2008-10-25 12:48:52
Updated:2010-12-23 11:25:18
Packaged:2021-05-07 01:46:42
Summary:Max/Fang established. Iggy/OC. Squeal to “Matchmaker.” Studying a device Iggy brought back from Area 51, the flock may find the answers to all their problems… Or not. Meanwhile, Tiger’s Eye has a secret… A Dawna Universe fic. Fax. Iggy/OC.

Table of Contents

1. Happy Bithday!
2. Navagation
3. Rabbit Hole
4. Enthiran

1. Happy Bithday!

If I Were a Rich Man

Description: Max/Fang established. Iggy/OC. Squeal to "Matchmaker." Studying a device Iggy brought back from Area 51, the flock may find the answers to all their problems… Or not. Meanwhile, Tiger's Eye has a secret… A Dawna Universe fic. Fax. Iggy/OC.

A/N: This is a Dawna universe fic. If you've read Macthmaker feel free to skip down to the chapter as I catch everybody else up to speed.

Summary of Matchmaker: This story takes place seven years after TFW. In it, Max and the Flock have established a military base of wayward hybrids. They are attacking the remaining Itex fractions that are popping up all over the world since Itex's fall. During these raids they often capture various experimental machines that Itex is developing in their quest to rule to world. These machines are sometimes of use to Dawna residents. One such machine came into Iggy's (who has become co-head of Research and Development along side Ella and Gasman) possession. It ended up being a telaporter and managed to send Iggy, Fang and later on, Max to an undisclosed location. Long story short they realized they were in Area 51 and that Itex had some sort of ties to it (whether they own Area 51 or are working with the government remains to be seen). Anyway they eventually got back to Dawna, Max and Fang fell in love (or rather they finally admitted they'd fallen in love as everybody knows that happened somewhere around the end of book ONE!) Um… Yep that's it. Here are the OCs already established in the Dawna universe:

Tiger's Eye: Works as a lab assistant for Iggy. She's a bit timid and withdrawn but has a fiery temper when worked up. She is a feline hybrid and often feels left out as most of the hybrids on Dawn are avian. She gives everyone she meets a nickname, a habit acquired from her time at her school.

Cannon: Second-in-command of the lead strike team of Dawna. Cannon is the quietest member of the group known as Team Fang (when you're the head of military command for an entire complex of supped up heroes, you get to have your own personal team named after you). He, like the others on Team Fang, has picked up an utterly defensive position on all things Max.

Sparkler: The only female member of Team Fang and by far the fastest. She polite, deadly, loyal to Fang and overprotective of Max.

Maxwell: Got his name from Fang when he joined Dawna and had no name other than his experiment number. Max doesn't find his name amusing, but Fang got it to stick anyway. He's gigantic, just overflowing with muscle and is the heaviest hybrid to ever get off the ground. He, even more so than the others on team Fang, is fiercely overprotective of Max and loyal to Fang almost to a fault.

Disclaimer: All characters, situations, events, and settings related to the Maximum Ride series are the property of James Patterson. Tiger's Eye, Dawna, and Team Fang belong to me and only me. Area 51 belongs to the United States Armed Forces. Thanks goes to my little brothers and sisters who refuse to let me ever have possession of the remote and therefore forced me to write this fic in my free time.

Chapter One: Happy Birthday!

"Dear God, you made many, many poor people.
I realize, of course, that it's no shame to be poor.
But it's no great honor either!
So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?" – Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof

Maximum Ride, super-powered avian American and leader of the most highly sought after group of armed forces on the planet, moaned quietly as a state of semi-consciousness interceded on her peaceful slumber. Slowly, with much effort, Max forced her eyes open and, realizing where she was, attempted to stretch in a way that wouldn't wake up the dark-haired form of the figure beneath her.

He was sprawled across their bench like a worn out teenager, the softest lights of morning draping his face softly. They had claimed this bench as their own the first night they'd admitted their love for each other. It was large and stone and sat on a small outlook from the cave structure of Dawna in a private location with a gorgeous view.

Max tried to force herself to heave out of a rather all too comfortable position. She managed to catch a glance at her watch, sighed heavily at the clock face that read four A.M. It was midsummer in Dawna, the busiest time for Itex raids. She knew, somewhere in the back of her mind, that she really should be getting up, now that she was awake. She didn't sleep in well and there was never any lack of work in Dawna. But she was utterly determined not to wake Fang up early. Under normal circumstances she wouldn't have hesitated to dump him on the floor and go rushing off to do whatever it was she had to get done, but if a man couldn't be allowed to sleep until he was good and ready on his birthday, well then when could he?
Max smiled a little and settled back down against Fang's chest. After all, this certainly hadn't been the first time they'd fallen asleep out here after a long evening of making out. The important people knew where to find them if there was an emergency.

It'd been over two months since they'd returned from Area 51 and somewhere along that little adventure they'd finally admitted their feelings for one another. They'd claimed this bench as their own that first evening but Max wasn't sure when it had become practice to almost always end up down here every twilight hour. They had to keep up professional attitudes; they had a miniature city to run after all. And, of course, Fang wasn't always here when she woke and visa versa. Life in Dawna was the essence of unpredictable. Sometimes whole days would pass when either of them managed to make it to a bed of any kind, much less their over-sized bench spot. She herself was racking up quiet a record from nights spent with her head against her desk top after literally working herself until she passed out. And then he often had to go out on scouting missions and she had meetings with dignitaries across the globe. But somewhere along the way this bench had become their spot and that was that.

It bothered Max, just a bit. Her work ethic was outraged, despite her best intentions to let life go to hell and just roll with her emotions a little. They had tried to be discreet about it at first. Or at least she had.

Max shook her head, sighing and wondering just how angry Fang would be if she got up and went to the underground waterfalls, She was sorely in need of a shower. Sitting around and doing nothing wasn't one of her strong points. But just then she noticed a pair of rather sleepily but playful eyes focused on her.

"Morning beautiful." Fan muttered quietly, leaning up to place his lips softly against hers. Max smiled.

"Morning. I was just debating whether or not to leave your dead weight here and go take a shower." Max replied, her grin carrying over to her voice.

Fang smiled sleepily back and buried his face into her shoulder. "What time is it?" His lips tickling against her throat.

Max discreetly dropped her watch off to the side. "No idea." She fibbed. Max let her fingers twirl themselves into his dark locks and sighed. "But I do know what day it is." She added, still smiling.

He caught something extra in her tone and pulled back to look at her face, and then smiled softly.

"Happy birthday, Fang." She whispered slightly, her lips hovered just centimeters above his.

Fang's smile grew as her pulled her back down to meet his lips.

2. Navagation

If I were a rich man,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I'd biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man. – Tevye, If I Were A Rich Man, The Fiddler on the Roof

Chapter Two: Navigation

Fang would have been perfectly happy to have spent the rest of the day there on their special bench, but Max had other ideas.

Just because it was technically her day off, doesn't mean time stood still. And even Fang's birthday couldn't keep her grounded when her family needed her. And since her family was rather large and growing, she was always needed.

This was how Fang found himself jogging gleefully down the hall at seven AM toward the mess cave, a goofy grin stretched across his face.

Arriving, Fang carefully scanned the rows of tables till he found Iggy sitting among a mass of notes, graphs and food products that he gulped down with inhuman speed. A tell-tale stack of empty coffee mugs at the edge of the table betrayed how long he'd been there. This wasn't surprising. It wasn't uncommon for the pyro to move in sometime in the night and simply forget to leave. It was rather surprising to find the shy feline hybrid, Tiger's Eye, sitting next to him, equally surrounded by notes, print-outs and a perilously leaning stack of cups. It was no secret that Iggy had sworn never to work with her again after she managed to reprogram the only specimen of Flyboy they currently had in the holds. It had taken Fang's team three full days before they could manage to catch him a new one. Smirking to himself, Fang raced over to them, his own breakfast balancing uneasily in his right hand.

"Morning." Fang said brightly, plopping himself across the table from his brother. "What brings you to the fine cuisine of the mess cave?"

Iggy attempted to glare at him but the effect was slightly spoiled by the fact his eyes were focused three inches to the right of Fang's face. "What's got you all cheery?" It was common knowledge that Iggy was not a morning person. "I'm only here because someone," He turned to glare at the feline hybrid at his side. "Forgot to fix the coffee machine in my lab and, of course, I have no time to walk back and forth for my required caffeine and someone," He glared at Tiger's Eye again. "Refused to do it for me so I simply had…" Iggy's voice trailed off suddenly and his sightless eyes suddenly focused on Fang's plate, sniffing.

"What is that?" He asked, a mix of curiosity and suspicion.

Fang smirked. "Eggs. And don't bother asking, Iggy. You're not getting any."

Iggy's face turned bright red. "The people behind the counter told me there wasn't any left… Not for three more weeks at the next raid!" Fang just continued smirking.

"Those fraudulent, overzealous idiots!" Iggy exclaimed. "They saved some for you?!"

Fang continued smirking. "Maybe if you were vaguely nice to them they'd give you treats too."

Iggy opened his mouth to reply, but was cut off as Max entered the mess cave, coffee mug in hand, and sat down next to Fang. Iggy nodded to her in greeting as she smiled before continuing his pointless rant. "Why, just two days ago I told that peppy little red-head how I liked what she'd down with her hair."

Tiger's Eye snorted. "You called her Ivy." She said in a voice that obviously thought this was the stupidest thing he'd ever said in his life.

"So?" Iggy asked, his eyebrows furrowing.

Tiger's Eye stared at him like he was seriously losing it, something she never would have dared done a week ago. Obviously she was more fed up with Iggy then Max had thought. "Her name is Maple." The 'moron' was implied.

Iggy made a point of ignoring her. "That still doesn't explain why he gets special treatment." He said, that poor excuse for a death glare still fixed on his face.

Max raised an eyebrow. "It's July 13th." She said slowly.

Iggy shrugged. "So?"

Max rolled her eyes. "It's Fang's Birthday, idiot." She sighed. Sometimes she wondered if Iggy ever left his own personal bubble anymore.

Tiger's Eye smiled. "Congratulations Shady."

Fang shrugged. "I really don't think it's that big a deal." Max rolled her eyes but didn't protest. Instead she reached out and grasped Fang's hand, squeezing it gently. Iggy looked at her for really the first time that morning.

"Hey Max… It's you day off isn't it?" Iggy said suddenly, his eyes eager.

Max frowned but nodded, curious.

Iggy beamed. "Perfect, then you can help with this conundrum. I think you saw something similar in…"

Max sighed deeply, interrupting him. "Isn't that why Tiger's Eye is here, Iggy?" She asked in desperation. "Or have you two become study buddies?"

Fang smirked between fork fulls of egg. Tiger's Eye sniffled a giggle. Iggy attempted to scowl at all three of them at once. "Hilarious." Iggy said. "But no, Kitty here just happens to be invading my personal space."

Tiger's Eye rolled her eyes and cast Max an exasperated glance. "He stole my notes. I wasn't about to let Walker 'borrow' my work without supervision. He has no respect for anything not written in his own handwriting. Last time he did this he 'accidentally' dropped them in a paper shredder."

Iggy gave an insulted huff. "Look who's talking!" He hissed. Igyy returned to Max. "Could you just help me please? I'm working on a device I brought back with me after our excursion to Area 51.

Fang groaned. "Iggy, if Max goes off and does your homework that would rather defeat the purpose of forcing her to take a day off. It's my birthday. Today she's at my beck and call, not yours."

Max rolled her eyes but otherwise ignored Fang, instead turning to Iggy. "I thought Tiger's Eye was assigned to deciphering the data device since it seemed to largely hold informational files in Russian, which Tiger's Eye happens to speak. And aren't you supposed to be concentrating on a way to get through the force field surrounding Area 51 unnoticed?"

Iggy shrugged. "Yeah, but I hit a major stumbling block. It's not like I'm able to pull solutions out like a cat from a hat." Iggy shot Max a pleading expression as she fought unsuccessfully to keep a smile off her lips. Fang burst out into an uncharacteristic howl and even Tiger's Eye cracked a smirk and snorted.

"What?" Iggy blanched, his eyes angry and accusing.

Fang seemed unable to talk through his laughter, Max rolled her eyes, but it was Tiger's Eye who finally answered the pyro.

"That's a story book, moron. The Cat in the Hat, its Dr. Seuss."

Iggy's eye brows furrowed. "Never heard of him." Iggy snapped, shooting Tiger's Eye a death glare that three months ago would have sent her shaking as she dashed from the room. Now she merely returned his glare with an uninterested glace. Finally Iggy gave up intimidating the feline hybrid and returned to pestering Max.

"Anyway, I really need to get this completed ASAP. Kitty here may be able to translate the terms, but she really doesn't understand the material and..."

Tiger's Eye sighed in exasperation. "Actually I understand almost everything. The core of the text is a history of experimentation. But, of course, he refuses to acknowledge any of that."

Max stole a bite of egg off of Fang's plate before leaning towards Tiger's Eye with interest. "A history?" Anything that could help them better understand how they were created could be of future use.

Tiger's Eye set down her pen and touched her chin thoughtfully. "Well, there's this account of how they were looking into reforming the world into a more functional and worthwhile society."

"Which we already knew." Iggy pointed out in annoyance.

Tiger's Eye let lose a low hiss through her teeth and Iggy promptly shut up. Then Tiger's Eye returned her gaze to Max, smiling. "There's also a brief summary of the experiments done in Area 51. They kept a very detailed timeline of everything. There's a lot of boring details to shift through. They are very through on the 'leave only footprints' concept. There is a longer history of the early experiments done, largely those that created rise to the early erasers. "Tiger's Eye said, still smiling. "It's all very interesting actually but not really useful. You should read some yourself, if you get the time."

Iggy snorted in a way that made it obviously evident that he believed Max and free time were not likely to get any better acquainted in the immediate future.

Max, who was feeling a certain level of pity for the young feline hybrid, smiled back. "I'll see what I can do." Max said. Fang took a long swig of coffee, then sighed. "I've gotta go, see ya later?" This to Max, of course.

"Don't think I've forgotten your birthday." She said coyly. "There's a surprise waiting for you after work is done."

He smiled widely, forcing Max to catch her breath. "I'm counting on it." And then sauntered off. Max closed her eyes and let the sounds and smells of the mess hall cover her with the bliss of contentment.

"Look at this." Tiger's Eye's voice broke through Max's retrieve.

Max eyes snapped open in time to see Tiger's Eye push a slip of paper covered in notes towards Iggy. He pulled out his translator and began to read the translated Braille. After a moment Iggy frowned and nodded gurgling, as if he was reluctant to admit she was right but had little choice. Thoroughly intrigued Max leaned forward again. "What?"

"I wonder…" Iggy muttered, scanning the notes with his translator and ignoring Max completely. Tiger's Eye frowned and read over his shoulder, pointing out a particular line. "It's a log." She said, answering Max. "It about a particular group of white coats who undertook a excursion of sorts outside of the normal hybrid experiments. The interesting part is it's incomplete. Whoever started this record never finished it. Something happened that caused them to abandon the experiment. It's like everyone involved just disappeared, or at least had to up and leave in a hurry."

Max frowned deeply. "That's… very strange. What could have caused that?"

Iggy put his device down, finally acknowledging her. "Oh, lots of things. Maybe they got to transferred to another project, or the experiment got out of hand or failed and they didn't want to get killed by their superiors, or maybe they just got bored and discontinued the logs. But, whatever the reason, they may have left some if not all of their work back in that abandoned lab across from Area 51. I think I could find it again easy enough. This program might also include the key. I know you and Fang were too busy making goo-goo eyes at each other to notice, but there were a lot of large locked metal doors behind that hologram…

Max nodded. "So if you go back you might be able to open some of those doors and figure out how to sue the teleporter thing?"

Iggy shrugged. "It's worth a try."

Tiger's Eye snatched her notes back from Iggy and began to gather her things. "Regardless, this experiment the white coats where conducting… It would be amazing if we could find the rest of the information on hybrid development. It could lead to huge leaps of understanding of how we were created, how certain side effects could be avoided. Medical records alone would blow what little the Shrimp has discovered out of the water. If we could get the scans for the first hybrids, lean the base code and compare it to what we know now…" She eyes sparkled with anticipation.

Max smiled, catching her mood. "And what if some of those early experiments survived? If we could track them down… Angel could completely revolutionize hybrid medicine." Max looked off into space in awe. "If either of you are even marginally right… I agree, it's worth a look. Iggy you have a go. Get a team together, and make sure Tiger's Eye is in it. I know that two of you don't particularly get along, but this just now officially became a joint project. You both get equal credit for figuring this out. I want the two of you with me."

Tiger's Eye and Iggy both froze for a sec. "With you?" Iggy finally sputtered. Max was head of the greatest military/research compound of all time. Max was commander of Dawna. Max was a perfectionist. Max did not go off base for a mere research excursion.

The red-head in question smiled slyly. "What? It's my day off and I fancy a trip off this hollowed out rock."

Snickering quietly to herself at their bewildered expressions, she got up and headed off to gather her things… and radio Fang. After all, what better place for a birthday picnic then the spot where they finally began their relationship?

3. Rabbit Hole

Chapter Three: Rabbit Hole

And that was how Max, Fang, a rather excited Iggy and Tiger's Eye and extremely bored looking Team Fang found themselves standing in an overly cluttered lab awaiting transport. The team, especially Maxwell who was rather convinced he wouldn't fit through the thermal decela-whatever despite the fact that Iggy had explained several time that "you're going to get broken down to atoms, tiny little molecules of cellular make-up. There's no way even your atoms are too large for safe transportation." To which Maxwell has replied. "I don't know if you noticed blondie, but I happen to have quite a lot of atoms in my make-up." Needless to say, it wasn't the most intellectual exchange in the history of Danwa.

After much debate Max and Fang had agree (and thereby squashed anybody else's opinion) that flying over a possibly Itex operated military based that served at the very least as a training center for fighter jets wasn't the best idea. Even if there were no Intx links to Area 51, the United States military might not take so kindly to them poking their noses around where they didn't belong (they were just paranoid like that).

So the plan was to use the teleporter (which still would only go to one location despite Iggy's fervent attempts at altering it) to the holo-cavern and get to work from there.

When they reached their destination, Fang took to the air to run a bit of recon, taking Cannon and Sparkler with him. Max stayed behind at Fang's request, though she didn't really mind. She'd never gotten the chance (or the guts) to tell him, but Max loved to watch Fang fly. He let himself go then, let the carefully emotionless mask effortlessly fall away. It was his element.

Iggy found a word carved into the stone above the door and he and Tiger's Eye were currently debating it's meaning and or significance. While they both were convinced it was Latin, neither knew enough of it to tell what it meant. So the carving Lepus Cavus would apparently remain a mystery.

Fang wasn't letting them try to open or unlock anything until he got back from his scouting flight, so Iggy squatted down in the corner with a large sandwich in one hand and his other hand on his laptop which was currently balancing perilously on his knees. Tiger's Eye too was working, keeping it low tech with her notes and printed readouts, tough she did glance often at the screen on Iggy's knees from her position next to him.

Fang and co landed about half an hour later with an unsurprising all clear report. Tiger's Eye stood up and headed down the hall behind the holo-wall, Iggy in toe. They tried the first door and managed to get it to respond, but not open, after about three minutes. Fang yawned dramatically and grabbed Max's hand. "Well, you guys have fun!" He shouted, turning to leave. Max gave his a disapproving glace. Fang just smiled.

"What? Aren't I allowed to have a little alone time with my girlfriend on my birthday?" He asked, his eyes fake-pleading.

Max pretended to considered this then grinned. "You kids stay here," she told the others though her eyes didn't leave Fang's, "the adults need to talk." She added, twirling around to disappear through the hologram.

"Play nice!" Fang added with a grin as he followed after.

Sighing and muttering something about 'teenage hormones that never fade', Iggy got back to work. Four minutes later, Sparkler challenged Cannon to a game of slap jack. Ten minutes after that, Maxwell fell asleep. All the while Tiger's Eye worked silently at Iggy's side, occasionally giving Maxwell an appreciative glace. What? A girl can only be human.

Three hours and thirteen minutes later, the first door of the lab swiftly slid open.

Tiger's Eye shrieked in surprise, Cannon looked up to see what was the matter, Sparkler won the game, Maxwell woke up and Iggy, who had been leaning against the door, fell flat on his face.

Five minutes later, Max and Fang were dragged by a not even slightly fazed Tiger's Eye to see what they had found.

Max gasped.

They were standing before a small city.

Certainly an old city, like one you'd find in South Africa among the Aztec ruins or something. It was the picture of ruins to, vines hanging off all the crumbling stone buildings.

Max took a tentative step forward and Fang instinctively motioned for Sparkler and Cannon to take point on either side of her. Max shot him an unapproving glace, but he just smiled.

With a deep sigh Max took off into the ruins tentatively, exploring each glace that she got. Iggy and Tiger's Eye took off in a different direction, with Maxwell between them in case of "unexpected surprises (and to control the bickering) as they went in search of the entrance to the central building.

Max was enjoying herself, wandering aimlessly through the uninhabited city. It stretched larger and larger the farther she went and Max began to wonder if the whole thing was real or just another hologram. She was so wrapped up in her exploration that she jumped slightly when she felt Fang nuzzle his face into her neck from behind. Max giggle slightly in spite of herself, but managed to wiggle free of his grasp. He gave her a playfully insulted look and wrapped his arms around her again. "Don't worry," he muttered into her hair. "They're all off playing Indiana Jones," Max gave a quick scan of their surroundings and saw he was right, they were alone. Her resolve completely crumbled as Fang softly buried a hand into her hair and leaned down to sigh contently against her neck. Max smiled and turned around in his arms so she could bury her face in his chest, inhaling.

Fang laughed. "So, when are we having this picnic?" He asked pleasantly, stroking his hands up and down her spine.

Max blushed slightly as she traced the curve of his neck with her fingers. "I was think dinner since everybody should be reasonably occupied by then. Of course, we'll have to feed Iggy first or he might try to come and find us."

Fang laughed again, happily encircling her waist with his arms. "I still can't believe you made him bring Tiger's Eye along. He looked like you'd made him suck a lemon.,, possibly a rotten one."

Max's eye twinkled mischievously. Secretly she found it rather amusing to watch the two hybrids annoy each other, even if it was none of her business. Suddenly without much warning Fang leaned down to capture her lips. Max moaned slightly in contentment.

"Um… Sir? Madam?"

The two sprung apart like a pair of teenagers caught making out by a parent on the back porch. Maxwell was standing a few yards away, a lopsided grin on his face.

"Yes, Maxwell?" Max asked using her most professional and authoritive voice, the one she usually reserved for presidents and traveling dignitaries.

The mountain-man shrugged. "The squints found something."

Maxwell's words were a serious understatement. As he led the two down a long hall to where the scientist hybrids were waiting, Max followed transfixed with wide eyes. The place wasn't stocked up with valuable technology like they'd originally hoped, but it was like a snap shot into an ancient culture. The ruins seemed to be emptied of humans (and not at all holographic) and the door to this corridor had been sealed shut before Maxwell had broken in so it was likely exactly as the culture that has lived here had left it. The thick layer of dust only added to the place's allure, as if Max were literally breathing in the past.

The room they finally entered was not like the other ones, more modern with sleek lines and electric lights, but still everything lay in a blanket of dust.

Unsurprisingly, Tiger's Eye was speechless with glee when they found her. She was simply walking around the room, looking at everything. Iggy, in contrast, remained grounded in front of some sort of display wall at one end of the room, arms crossed across his chest. Sparkler and Cannon both stood leaning against the entrance to the room looking extremely bored. Hundreds of bone fragments and artifacts lined the walls, these were what mostly drew Tiger's Eye's attention. Each display case was labeled in an unknown language and were remarkably preserved in some sort of frozen state, minus the cold. Even Fang grew wide-eyed at the mere quantity of remains and grunted in astonishment.

Tiger's Eye, who had finally found her voice, came skipping up to them and giggly flung her arm around Iggy's shoulders, hugging him tightly. "Oh yea of little faith…" She said softly and Max saw that clearly she would have hugged anybody closest to her; it was merely a symptom of her rapture. Iggy didn't seem to appreciate it though as he struggled against her iron grasp.

"As you can see," Iggy said as soon as he'd managed to free himself from the death grip. "The linguist is happy."

"Happy!" She screeched and Cannon made a show of covering his ears. "You don't have any idea! And here, Walker dear, I am more a paleontologist rather than a linguist. A person could spend a lifetime just looking at the things contained in this room! I wonder who these people were, that Itex took such an interest in them? What we could learn about the human race, evolution! Our own physiology!" She suddenly turned very thoughtful. "Actually, that's a good question. Why.." She muttered walking off to stare at another wall.

Iggy, in the meantime, had found what appeared to be the only actual computer in the room. He was clicking his fingers impatiently over the keys which were marked with strange symbols Max had never seen. "What's running this thing?" Max wondered aloud. It was amazing, the things they found on their adventures. It never ceased to amaze her that they had such a strange magnet for the weird and uncertain.

Iggy barely acknowledged her. "I think it's thermal." He muttered, talking largely to himself. "But if… connect to.. ah, there we go, it's active." Suddenly instead of the screen blinking to life the screen slid away, like a small glass door, to reveal a small glowing women inside the monitor. Max blanched.

"Cool," Fang said. "A hologram."

The holo-lady smiled. "Welcome travelers," her electronic voice droned. "To El Dorado."

AN: Yes, I did just do that.  This city of gold here we come!

4. Enthiran

Chapter 4: Enthiran

It was hardly the strangest thing Fang had ever seen in his life. In fact, if you were to make a list containing each and everything Fang had witnessed or experienced in his rather short life you would not only have of one of the longest accounts of strangeness in existence, you would also be pretty freaked out to the point of sensatory collapse. It was that bad.

No, it wasn't the strangeness of the holo-lady that impressed Fang, nor was it the first hologram he'd ever seen. But there was just something that was so Obi-Wan Kanobi about them. In fact, if someone were to record even a small portion of his history in a book, Fang had little doubt it would rival Star Wars itself on the weird scale.

After greeting them, the holo-lady had said little else till Iggy stumbled along some sort of activation switch. The lady had then proceeded to start proclaiming loudly in what Fang assumed was a recorded message.

"As you can see, sire, the success of the dig thus far has been marvelous. My name is Ethiran, and I am in charge of the city's mainstream works. I am sending along this prerecorded message to welcome you, as I myself am occupied with The Project. If you could proceed together to-"

Iggy grunted from his position underneath the computer, messing with the wiring. The holo lady blurred, then reappeared though now her hair was up and she was wearing a different dress. She continued speaking.

"It's truly amazing, how intense the feelings get as we get closer to-"

Iggy did something again and the froze midsentence Iggy crawled out into the open.

"There, that should keep her quiet till we know what she is." He muttered. Iggy turned to face the assembled hybrids behind him.

"As far as I can tell, these are prerecorded messages of some sort. They were transmitted somewhere or possibly stored messages sent form elsewhere.

Max smiled. "So it's like we're looking at some sort of white coat Inbox?'

Iggy nodded. "Or sent folder, as the case may be. It's defiantly Itex anyway."

Maxwell, who had been largely ignoring the others especially since he had no idea what the holo-lady could be talking about. He looked at the frozen figure now.

"She doesn't look so good." Maxwell said.

The others looked back at the holo-lady. It was true, the women's eyes had dark circles under them and her whole face looked hollow and worn out.

Iggy continued to sweep forwards through the messages, only pausing to listen to snippets here and there. A complaint about the hours, a comment on the weather, and all the while the lady's health rapidly deteriorating. Suddenly the image on the hologram was a much younger women, her face also wasted with fever.

"We have sealed up all the artifacts and have begun to despair. Only Marcus and I are left... We don't believe we should return to the surface... the sickness..." Her eyes had a haunted look. The hologram blipped to an end, the screen a whirl of blue.

"I don't like the sound of that," said Max and exchanged a worried look with Fang. At that moment, Tiger's Eye came scurrying back over. "I know why Itex were so interested in this area." she said breathlessly. "You know how we always knew there were many experiments before us right? That's why we turned out so well. Well, they lived here, in this city."

Max eyes widened. "Really? Where did they go? No one's lived here in decades."

Tiger's Eye bit her lip.

"That's the thing Madam." Tiger's Eye said. "They all died. They never left."