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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 6

I got it! The Erasers were bigger and heavier, their wings almost twice as long as ours. But in the air, those were liabilities.

Panting, I ducked as an Eraser swung a black-booted foot at my side, catching me in the ribs but not too hard.

I zipped in and dealt out some powerful punches of my own, knocking his head sideways, then I flitted out of reach.

Compared to the Erasers, we were nimble little stinging wasps, and they were clunky, slow, awkward flying cows.

Two Erasers ganged up on me, but I shot straight up like an arrow, just in time for them to smash into each other.

I laughed as I saw Gazzy roll completely over like a fighter plane, smacking an Eraser in the jaw on the turn. The Eraser swung a hard punch, landing it on Gazzy’s thigh, and Gazzy winced, then launched a side kick at the Eraser’s hand, which snapped back.

How many of them were there? I couldn’t tell—

everything was happening at once. Ten?

Nudge, my Voice said, and then I heard Nudge cry out.

An Eraser had her tight in his arms, his fangs moving toward her neck. His teeth were just starting to scrape her skin when I dropped on him from above. I wrapped one arm around his neck and yanked hard, hearing him gag and choke. Grabbing my wrist with my other hand, I yanked harder until he let Nudge drop away from him.

“Scat!” I told her, and, coughing, she swooped away from the fight. My Eraser was still struggling but starting to weaken. “You better get your guys out of here,” I snarled into his ear. “We’re kicking your hairy butts.”

“You’re gonna fall now,” I heard Angel say in a normal voice. I swung my head to see her gravely watching an Eraser who looked confused, paralyzed. Angel shifted her gaze to the dark water below. Fear entered the Eraser’s eyes, and his wings folded. He dropped like a rock.

“You’re getting scary, you know that?” I said to Angel, not really kidding. I mean, making an Eraser drop right out of the sky just by telling him to—jeez.

And Iggy, said the Voice. I veered off to help Iggy, who was in tight hand-to-hand with an Eraser.

“Ig!” I called, as he grabbed the Eraser’s shirt.

“Max, get out of here!” Iggy yelled, and released the shirt, letting himself fall quickly out of reach.

I had time to think Uh-oh, and then the small explosive Iggy had stuck down the Eraser’s shirt detonated, leaving an ugly gaping hole in his chest. Shrieking, the Eraser plummeted heavily downward.

And how did Iggy manage to stash his seemingly endless supply of explosives on his person without my even having a clue? Got me.

“You . . . are . . . a . . . fridge . . . with wings,” Fang ground out, punching an Eraser hard with every word. “We’re . . . freaking . . . ballet . . . dancers.”

Take a deep breath, Max, said my Voice, and I obeyed without question.

At that moment, I felt a blow to my back, between my wings, that knocked the wind out of me. I rolled, belly-up, using the oxygen I’d just gotten, trying to suck in more air.

Whirling, I snapped both feet out in a hard kick into the Eraser’s face, then froze in shock. Ari!

He wheeled backward and I floundered away, wheezing and hoping I wouldn’t pass out. Ari! But he was dead—I’d killed him. Hadn’t I?

Ari lunged at Fang, just as I yelled “Fang!” Ari managed to take a swipe at Fang’s side, shredding his jacket.

Drawing back, gasping, I took stock of the situation. The few remaining Erasers were falling back, retreating. Below, I saw a white splash as an Eraser hit the ocean. That had to hurt.

Now it was just Ari against us. He looked around, then fell back as well, closer to his squad.

The six of us slowly regrouped as Ari began to fly clumsily away, his enormous wings working hard to keep his heavy body aloft. His squad surrounded him, a bunch of huge, hairy crows gone wrong.

“We’ll be back!” he snarled.

It was really Ari’s voice.

“Boy, you just can’t kill people like you used to,” said Fang.

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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