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Maximum Ride: School's Out-Forever

If you've already devoured James Patterson's #1 bestselling blockbuster MAXIMUM RIDE: THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT, stop right here—just turn the page, and hold on tight!

As for the rest of you-well, where have you been? Meet Max, Fang, Iggy, Gasman, Nudge, and Angel, six absolutely unforgettable kids. With some major problems. THEY'RE BEING HUNTED BY KILLERS. BUT WHO?

It's even worse than that. Max is sure that a microchip has been inserted under her skin-leading freakish forces of evil to ambush them at any moment...AND WORSE!

She and the others are supposed to save the world. BUT FROM WHAT? WHEN? AND HOW?

Max will stop at nothing to find answers. One thing she does know: it's got something to do with an astonishing ability they have that no others can claim. THEY CAN FLY.

Max's heart-stopping quest to protect her "family" and investigate the mind-blowing mystery of her ultimate destiny continues in the scariest, strangest, and funniest James Patterson thriller yet.

THE ANGEL EXPERIMENT WAS JUST A TEST DRIVE. NOW, BRACE YOURSELF FOR THE MAXIMUM RIDE!

Chapter 7

We hovered in place for several minutes, waiting to see if there would be a second attack. For the moment, we seemed in the clear, and I took the time to catalogue our injuries. Fang was flying awkwardly, his arm pressed against his side.

“I’m fine,” he said curtly, noticing me watching him.

“Angel? Gazzy? Nudge? Report,” I said.

“Leg hurts, but I’m okay,” said the Gasman.

“I’m fine,” said Angel. “And so are Total and Celeste.” Celeste was the small angel-dressed stuffed bear Angel had—well, let’s say—been given at a toy store in New York.

“I’m okay,” said Nudge, but she sounded whipped.

“My nose,” said Iggy, pressing it hard to stop the bleeding. “But no biggie.”

“Okay, then,” I said. “We’re almost to DC, and it should be easy to get lost in another big city. We good to go?”

Everyone nodded, and we swung in a tight, graceful arc to return to our flight path.

“So . . . what was with the flying Erasers?” Iggy said a few minutes later.

“I’m guessing a new prototype,” I said. “But, man, they’re failures. They were having a hard time flying and fighting at the same time.”

“Like they’d just learned to fly, you know?” said Nudge. “I mean, compared to hawks, we look clumsy. But compared to those Erasers, we’re, like, poetry in motion.”

I smiled at Nudge’s description, silently checking out my own aches and pains.

“They were bad fliers,” Angel chimed in. “And in their minds, they weren’t all Kill the mutants, like they usually are. They were like, Remember to flap!

I laughed at her imitation of a deep, growly Eraser voice. “Did you pick up on anything else, Angel?” I asked.

“You mean besides dead Ari showing up?” Gazzy said, sounding bummed.

“Yeah,” I said. Just then I caught a warm updraft and coasted for a minute, enjoying a feeling of pure bliss.

“Well, none of them really felt familiar,” said Angel, thinking.

Having a six-year-old mind reader came in handy. Sometimes I wished Angel’s mind reads were a little more specific, or that they’d come when we wanted. Then maybe she’d be able to warn us that an Eraser was about to drop in and say hi. But sometimes she just gave me the willies. Angel was starting to control people with her mind—not just Erasers—and I wasn’t sure when she was crossing the line into, say, witchcraft, for instance.

A while later, I realized that Fang wasn’t beside me and I looked around to see him below, maybe twenty feet back. He’d been silent, not unusual for him, but now I could see that his flying was ragged and off-balance. His face seemed paler, and his lips were pressed tightly together.

I dropped back and swooped down next to him.

“What’s going on?” I said in my no-nonsense tone. It had never worked on him before, but a girl had to keep trying.

“Nothing,” he said, but that one word was tight and strained. Which meant he was lying through his teeth.

“Fang —,” I began, and then saw that the arm pressed against his side was dark and wet. Blood. “Your arm!”

“’S not my arm,” he muttered. Then his eyes fluttered shut and he started to lose altitude fast.

Really fast.

Copyright © 2006 by James Patterson

Read by Valentina de Angelis

Valentina is cast for James Patterson's Maximum Ride - School's Out-Forever. She co-stars with Joan Allen and Sam Elliot in "Off The Map", directed by Campbell Scott. She has appeared in Law and Order SVU and in the new CBS hit series Love Monkey. She has also appeared in over 50 commercials, narrated voice-overs, and did a guest stint on Saturday Night Live. Click here to see photos of her in the recording studio!

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