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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 6

WE ALL HEARD IT: the drone of a small airplane. It landed in a dry flat field behind my mom's small house. Gazzy, always hoping for an explosion, seemed disappointed it didn't crash into the trees or go over the nearby cliff.

A minute later, Jeb was at the door with Dr. Hans, who, the last time I'd checked, was still on our official archenemy list. (Yes, we have to keep a list. It's kind of sad.)

My stomach clenched as soon as they walked in the door. Jeb and Dr. Hans together? It was wrong on so many levels. This was the same Jeb who had abandoned us as little kids, forcing us to fend for ourselves in the mountains of Colorado. Ever since then, my relationship with him had been tentative. Tentative like the relationship between a spider and a fly. I am the fly in that scenario.

I looked at Dr. Hans warily, and he looked back at me. He'd almost killed Fang—I'd had to jab a hypodermic needle full of adrenaline directly into Fang's heart to save him. Which, now that I thought about it, was so gross.

Both of these guys could be brilliant, generous, pretty useful, and committed to saving humanity. Or, they could embrace the dark side, try to take over the world, or worse: try to make me do something I didn't want to do.

"So much for my vacation," I said, crossing my arms over my chest. To my surprise, Angel copied me, and then so did the rest of the flock. And Dylan. Angel and I have butted heads on more than one occasion, but I have to admit, she'd been pretty sweet to me since Fang had left. This visible show of support nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Oh, my God. I was pathetic! Dylan was right.

"It was really more of a staycation," Gazzy mused.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," Jeb said, "but we really need to talk to you, all of you, but especially Max."

"This oughta be good," I said. "Let me guess. We're needed for a research mission at the coldest place on earth?"

"No," said Jeb. "This is bigger than you, bigger than all of us. I need you to open your mind and listen."

"Last time I opened my mind, you injected hallucinations into it," I pointed out. I hardly ever forgive, and I never forget. "Is it...a crazed megalomaniac who has a secret underwater lair where pollution is creating huge, mutant sea monsters?"

"No," said Jeb, looking irritated.

"Yeah, because how likely is that?" I scoffed. "That would never happen! It's crazy!"

"Just hear me out. An evolutionary revolution is happening all over the world."

"Which means what exactly?" I asked.

"Worldwide, a new generation of children with supernatural powers has appeared," Dr. Hans said.

"So far, you're not riveting my attention," I said.

"You know that there are labs and schools all over the world that are trying to speed up the human evolutionary process," Jeb said.

"I do now," I said.

"Dedicated men and women of science are trying to find a way to save the human race. And they've been successful. Overwhelmingly successful, for the first time."

I got a prickle on the back of my neck. The flock and I had been created in just such a lab, a nightmarish place called the School, where another way to say "dedicated men and women of science" was "power-hungry mad scientists with Frankenstein complexes."

"You know that, historically, you've been among the most successful of the recombinant-DNA life-forms," Jeb said. "You were the fifty-fourth generation of DNA experiments."

Some kids get called "bundles of joy" or "slices of heaven" or "dreams come true." We got "the fifty-fourth generation of DNA experiments." Doesn't have the same warm and fuzzy feel. But maybe I'm oversensitive.

"The Erasers were the seventeenth," Jeb said, and we all flinched involuntarily. (If you want to delve more deeply into the wild 'n' wacky world of human-wolf hybrids, check out the earlier Max chronicles.)

"Not that I'm not enjoying this little jaunt down memory lane," I said curtly, "but you're not making a lot of headway here. In fact, so far you're just annoying the heck out of me and making me remember all the reasons I never want to talk to you again."

Jeb glanced at Dr. Hans and then at my mom. She made a face that said, "Way to go, bucko," and he cleared his throat.

"My point is that you guys were successful," he said. "I'm sure you remember all the versions that weren't successful."

"I'll have their catastrophic images burned into my brain till I die," I said. "Are we done here?"

"No," said Dr. Hans. "These children, this new generation, are the ones you'll be leading, after you save the world. It's time you start leading them. Now."

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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