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Fang

FANG WILL BE THE FIRST TO DIE.
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.

BUT THERE WILL BE ANOTHER...
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.

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

Book One | MEETING DOCTOR GOD

Chapter 1

I'M A GIRL OF EXTREMES. When I love something, I'm like a puppy dog (without all the licking). When I'm cranky, I'm a wasp (like, a whole hive of 'em). And when I'm angry, I'm a mother bear with a predator after her cubs: dangerous.

I say this because lately my life seemed to be all about extremes. Like right now, for instance. I was soaring twenty thousand feet in the air with the five people I loved most in the world—and no, we weren't on a plane, hang-gliding, or hot air ballooning. We preferred to use good old-fashioned wings. The technology's been around for eons.

If you've ever dreamed you could fly, I can confirm that it's all that and better. Even if you're desperately flying through a subway tunnel to save your life, it's still off the charts. But today, flying over Africa...it was as good as it ever gets. Maybe the best part was that for the first time in a dog's age, we weren't on the run from madmen. We were on a mission—to do good.

"Max!" Iggy called over to me. "Why did they name themselves Chad? I mean, Chad. It's like naming a whole country Biff or Trey. I don't get it."

"Ig, don't be ignorant," I scoffed. "It's not like all the people there named themselves."

"Why not? We named ourselves," Nudge noted, as if I needed to be reminded that we were raised in a lab under the supervision of science geeks.

"Only 'cause we're special." I gestured to her twelve-foot wingspan. "Hey, check that out!" I pointed to a Martian-like rock formation in the distance.

Fang turned his head and gave me one of his classic half smiles—you know, like the kind of smile Mona Lisa would have had if she were a guy. A teenage guy with longish scruffy hair, dark eyes, and a leather jacket. Mmmmm.

The whole trip had been as exhilarating as one of Fang's killer smiles. Even the hundreds of miles of shifting, mysterious desert dunes had been amazing. We're world travelers and all—we've lived in wilds as extreme as Death Valley and Antarctica—but there was something downright otherworldly about what I'd seen below as we crossed over—oh, crap, I'd forgotten the names of all of the different countries.

"Mauritania, Algeria, Mali, Niger, and Chad together are about sixty-eight percent desert," Angel recited, reading my mind. Literally. She's powerful like that.

"Whatever. It's too much freaking desert," Angel's brother, Gazzy, complained. "I wouldn't mind seeing a few cows chomping away on some grass right about now."

"A-plus-plus on the geography quiz, Angel. Gazzy, Iggy, extra credit when you check your attitudes at the door." Even without parents, somehow I'd picked up the language. Seems to work when you're the leader. "Listen, I know some of you are a little cranky from the long flight, but this is our chance to finally help people. Real people," I emphasized, as if we'd grown up in a plastic bubble or something. Well, we kind of had. Do dog crates in labs count?

"Real people," Fang clarified. "As in, not just a bunch of wack-job scientists."

"Yup. Did it ever occur to you guys," I continued grandly, "that when we were told we had to save the world, it might have actually meant saving people—like, one at a time? Sending a message around the world about people in need is great and all, but actually feeding people, giving people medical help and stuff? We've never done that before. I mean, this could be it, guys. Our destiny."

"Max is right," Angel agreed, in a very un-Angel-like manner. We didn't see eye-to-eye on much these days.

"Word on the street is that you have to save the world, Max," Iggy reminded me. "The rest of us? Not so much."

Twit. Always trying to take the easy way out.

Not Fang, though. "Hey, Max, wherever you go to save the world—I will follow..." He did the killer half-smile thing. "Mother Teresa."

My stomach flip-flopped as if I'd folded my wings and plunged into free fall. Hello, Max the Puppy.

I had exactly five seconds to enjoy sainthood before I caught sight of three black dots in the distance—and they appeared to be moving straight toward us.

Looked like Mama Bear's cubs were in danger. And you know what that meant:

Bye-bye, Saint Max. Time to be a hellion again.

Copyright © 2010 by James Patterson

Read by Jill Apple

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