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In the seventh book in the bestselling series, evil scientists are still trying to convince Max that she needs to save the world, this time by providing the genetic link in speeding up the pace of evolution. Worse, they're trying to convince her that her perfect mate is Dylan, the newest addition to the flock. The problem is that, despite herself, Max is starting to believe it.

Fang travels the country collecting his own gang of evolved humans, but the two separate flocks must unite to defeat a frightening doomsday cult whose motto is Save the Planet: Kill the Humans. And this time, the true heroine, for once, might just be little Angel.


Chapter 8

"NOT THAT, WHAT?" I demanded, hands on my hips. Jeb and Dr. Hans were looking at each other guiltily, as if they were sending each other telepathic messages. I guess they could have been, but Angel would have ratted them out by now.

"Just tell her," Angel advised, sitting back down.

"We don't have to discuss it now," Jeb finally said unconvincingly.

"Time is running out," Dr. Gub-Hub said.

"She's fourteen!" Jeb countered.

"Fifteen," I reminded him. Everyone in the flock had had a birthday not that long ago. We'd all gotten a year older at once, like racehorses.

"That's still way too young!" Jeb snapped.

"Too young for what?" I was practically shrieking now.

Dr. Hans turned to face me. "Max, you know that we think something catastrophic will happen to our planet, and soon," he said. "And that only some people will survive. And that you will lead the survivors."

"Yeah, I've heard all that," I said. "So?"

"Well, what happens then?" The doctor looked at me intently.

I looked back at him. "We all live happily ever after?"

"No. Say you're the leader. We don't know how long your life span will be..."

Ouch. Call a spade a spade, why don't you? Many recombinant life-forms have built-in expiration dates, when they just suddenly die. The flock and I assumed that we did too.

"Yeah, so?"

"So what happens after you die? Chaos? War? A struggle for power?"

Who the heck even thought that far ahead? I sure didn't. I was still kind of stuck on the whole "save the world" thing at the top of my to-do list.

"Maybe an election?" I offered.

"Elections work in stable societies," Dr. Hans said. "History has shown that emerging societies function better if there is a consistent ruling hierarchy. That's why kings and queens played such prominent roles historically. Only very recently have some countries been able to elect leaders, and even so it hasn't always been successful."

"So what are you saying?" I demanded. "I'm going to be queen?" I tried hard not to picture myself wearing a tiara. It just wouldn't work with the shabby jeans and hoodie look.

"Yes," the doctor said. "In a manner of speaking. And we intend for you to found a dynasty. And that dynasty will rule society until it has progressed enough to—"

"Overthrow the dynasty in a revolutionary, blood-filled coup!" Iggy said eagerly.

We all looked at him.

"Just saying." He sheepishly took a bite of cookie.

"Okay, you lost me," my mom said. "What exactly are you getting at?"

"It's very simple, Dr. Martinez," said Hansey. "We want Max to...breed. To produce heirs. Who will govern the world after she dies."

Dead silence for quite some time. We all stared at Dr. Hans, our jaws dropped to various levels. Our lives had reached a new low of inhumanity.

My face flushed. Part of me had assumed, hoped, that if Fang and I lived long enough, we would get married. Maybe have a little flock of our own. But I really hadn't planned it all out. And he was gone now, anyway. How could I possibly ever find someone...

My eyes scanned Dylan's face. I saw his discomfort.

"Oh, no," I said in horror.

"Yes," Angel confirmed. "Freaking unbelievable."

"It makes sense, Max," Dr. Hans continued as my mind spun. "You two were literally made for each other. You're a perfect match. I'd like you and Dylan to come with me to Germany, where I have a nice home waiting for you. You can marry or not, as you wish, and in time produce children, heirs to your dynasty. To carry on your legacy, your leadership."

"You have got to be kidding." My mom's voice was loud. "Over my dead body, Hans."

"Oh, thank you," I said, relieved. "So it's not just me."

"That's a crazy plan!" my mom said. She came over to me and put her arm around my shoulders. "Max is barely fifteen years old! It's bad enough that you've saddled her with saving the world. Now you want her to do it with a baby on her hip? Are you insane?"

I love my mom.

"I'm not saying today or tomorrow," Dr. Gunther-Hagen insisted. "But soon. We're convinced it's the only chance for the world's continued survival."

"Out of the question!" my mom said. "Jeb, this is crazy! How could you?! You're going to drop this right now, or you'll have to leave! I don't want to hear another word about Max breeding with anyone!"

Dr. Hans looked like he wanted to say something else, but he stopped himself.

The worst part? When I cast a surreptitious glance at Dylan and saw the discomfort in his beautiful turquoise eyes morph into a flicker of hope.

Copyright © 2011 by James Patterson

Read by Rebecca Soler

Rebecca Soler is a New York based actress who voices numerous principal characters for the CW's Saturday morning cartoon lineup including: Viva Piñata (Ella and Simone), Huntik (Sophie) The Winx Club (Techna) and Chaotic (Sarah). Other audio books include Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen and After by Amy Efaw for which she was awarded a 2009 AudioFile Earphones Award. Rebecca is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University.

Audio Excerpts (MP3)
Clip #1
Chapter 1 to 4
Clip #2
Chapters 5 to 8
Clip #3
Chapters 9 to 12
Clip #4
Chapters 13 to 16
Clip #5
Chapters 17 to 20
Clip #6
Chapters 21 to 23
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