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Maximum Ride is used to living desperately on the run from evil forces sabotaging her quest to save the world—but nothing has ever come as close to destroying her as this horrifying prophetic message. Fang is Max's best friend, her soul mate, her partner in the leadership of her flock of winged children. A life without Fang is a life unimaginable.

When a newly created winged boy, the magnificent Dylan, is introduced into the flock, their world is upended yet again. Raised in a lab like the others, Dylan exists for only one reason: he was designed to be Max's perfect other half.

Thus unfolds a battle of perfection versus passion that terrifies, twists, and turns...and meanwhile, the apocalypse is coming.


Chapter 6

"ALL RIGHT, any second now..." The words were clipped, his accent thick. Mr. Chu leaned over his assistant's shoulder, impatiently looking at a blank computer screen. And then, right on time, the screen flickered and split to show two charts, side by side. Points started blinking faintly, and small words began running along different lines: heart rate, temperature, blood oxygen saturation level, and so on.

His assistant peered at the charts for a moment, then typed "Maximum" on one side and "Angel" on the other. Mr. Chu became lost in reviewing the biological data streaming in from the microscopic monitors.

"Mr. Chu? You have a visitor, sir." Another assistant stood in the trailer doorway, one hand on his weapon, as required.

Mr. Chu went down the short, narrow hall to the small receiving room. A young girl in a yellow dress stood there, twisting one of her thin braids between nervous fingers.

"Hello, Jeanne," said Mr. Chu, smiling. Jeanne managed a tiny smile back. "You were successful in your mission," said Mr. Chu, motioning to an assistant.

"Les filles oiseaux sont trés belles," Jeanne said sweetly.

"Here is your reward," said Mr. Chu, taking a lollipop from his assistant and giving it to Jeanne. Her eyes widened, and she eagerly ripped the wrapper off and stuck the candy in her mouth. Her eyes closed in rapture.

Mr. Chu nodded again, and his assistant quickly swabbed Jeanne's upper arm with an alcohol wipe. The whole length of her arm was lined with dots, marking the sites of hundreds of needle insertions. And here was a new one, as the assistant injected the contents of a hypodermic needle into Jeanne's almost nonexistent muscle. It was the first of a dozen injections to come in the next twenty-four hours.

Jeanne had learned to put up with all of the drugs—the pills, the drips, the shots. Without them, the side effects of being a self-healer were much, much worse. The treatments were a small price to pay for such rewards, after all.

Jeanne's closed eyelids flickered a tiny bit as the needle went in, but she swirled the lollipop in her mouth and didn't say a word.

Copyright © 2010 by James Patterson

Read by Jill Apple

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