Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment Summary
The book opens up by introducing us to Max, a fourteen-year-old girl who also happens to be a human-avian hybrid. She lives in a house with her fellow hybrid friends—Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel. They used to live at the School, where evil scientists created and experimented on them, but they escaped and have been in hiding ever since.
What starts off as a totally ordinary day quickly goes sour when some Erasers—the vicious human-wolf hybrids who live at the School—appear out of nowhere and start attacking Max's group (otherwise known as the flock). They try to fight back, but the Erasers make off with the youngest flock member, little Angel, who also possesses the very cool power of reading minds.
The flock members immediately know that she's been taken back to the school. Max decides that she, Nudge, and Fang will go retrieve Angel, while Iggy and the Gasman stay behind to hold down the fort. Go team.
They take off immediately, but Iggy and the Gasman start to worry that the Erasers will come back for them. To make sure they're not ambushed, they start making bombs and setting up traps around the house… just in case.
In the meantime, Angel wakes up in a dog crate and has to run through a barrage of painful tests that the scientists put her through in order to "test her abilities." During all this, she realizes that Jeb—the scientist who broke them out of the school and brought them to the house—isn't dead. He actually went back to work at the School. Angel is horrified by the betrayal.
While flying with Nudge and Fang, Max spots a girl being picked on by a bunch of bullies. She tells Nudge and Fang to go ahead and wait for her at a meeting point, then she swoops down to defend the girl. In the process, Max gets shot by one of the bullies and has to stay with the girl and her mother—Ella and Dr. Martinez—while she recovers. They provide her with her first taste of a real home, and she loves it.
Fang and Nudge go on to wait for Max, where they find a nest of ferruginous hawks and learn new flying tricks with the birds. Nudge also tries to find her real mother based on some paperwork she saw back at the house, but they get attacked by Erasers and have to return to the hawks. Iggy and the Gasman are attacked by Erasers at the same time, but are able to escape safely and rejoin the flock.
Max meets up with the rest of her flock and they decide to continue on to the School in order to save Angel. Throughout their journey, they are attacked by Erasers, until Max, Nudge, and Fang are eventually captured and taken to the School, where they are locked into cages like Angel. Ugh.
When Max sees Jeb again, she is horrified and feels betrayed, even though he tells her that this was all a test and she is destined to save the world. With the help of Iggy and the Gasman, they all eventually escape. After they leave the School, Angel reveals that she "overheard" some of the scientists' thoughts and learned there's a place in New York City called the Institute with information about the flock… and their biological parents. Apparently, they weren't just test tube babies like they'd all assumed; they had real parents.
The flock decides to go to New York City on the adventure of a lifetime to retrieve all of this precious information. Along the way, Max starts to get these weird brain spasms where lots of images flash in her mind—and she starts to hear a voice inside her head that tells her what to do. Hrm… She doesn't know what it means, but it's pretty freaky.
As they wander through the big city tasting treats (the flock members are really into food) and hiding from the Erasers (who are basically stalking them), the voice leads Max closer and closer to the mysterious Institute. One day, they take flight in a restaurant and end up on the front page of the news as some kind of flying kid hoax.
Max and the flock members arrive at the Institute and print out all of the information they need. However, they also find a bunch of other kids in cages. Yup, there are more experiments here. They decide to release the kids, and as they're running outside, the Erasers come after them. Max gets into a scuffle with Ari—Jeb's son who is now an Eraser—and ends up accidentally killing him. As she runs away with the rest of the flock, she hears Jeb shout at her that she's killed her own brother. What the what?
Max also finds that Angel has taken a dog from the Institute. His name is Total and he looks like a totally normal dog… except for the fact that he can jump super high.
After reading all of the top-secret files, the flock members find that most of their biological families live near the Washington D.C. area. Max tries not to be too disappointed that there's no information on her parents, and she agrees that the whole flock should go to Washington D.C. next to seek out their families. With that, as this book ends, they're onto their next adventure.
- Max, our fourteen-year-old protagonist, tells the reader that this is the story of her family—which is made up of five kids who aren't related to her by blood.
- She wants the reader to know about all of them—herself, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel—and how they were made as an experiment by awful scientists. They're 98% human and 2% bird, which is pretty wild.
- They're the only experiments at the School (where the scientists work) who made it past infancy… except for the Erasers, who are part wolf and quite violent.
- Oh, and the Erasers are after them, which is pretty terrifying.
Part 1, Chapter 1
- Max is freaking out because she's facing imminent death, what with Erasers on her tail and all, and running with all her might—when she comes up to a cliff.
- Then she spreads her wings and jumps off. Ha.
- The Erasers can't follow, and are left to bark furiously at her.
- Max wakes up, startled—yeah, that whole episode with the Erasers was just a dream, thank goodness.
- She always has this dream about running away from the School and being chased by Erasers.
- Getting out of bed, Max goes to look outside the house; they're high on a mountain and perfectly safe.
- They moved here with Jeb Batchelder, who was the closest thing to a parental figure they ever had until he disappeared two years ago. They're pretty sure he's dead.
- The flock doesn't go to school because they're mutants.
- The Gasman—so named because of his gassiness (yuck)—greets Max in the kitchen. He asks her what's for breakfast and offers to pour juice for everyone; even though he's only eight, he's good about his responsibilities.
- Iggy comes in and slouches down, sleepy. And then Fang appears—he's always sneaking around silently. Creepy.
- Max leaves Iggy to make the eggs and goes to wake up Nudge and Angel, the two girls who share the last room.
- She thinks about how Angel is like her baby; she's only six and is Max's little girl. As she's pondering this, Angel wakes up and says that she loves Max best, too.
- That's the special thing about Angel: She can read minds. What a useful party trick.
- Over breakfast, Angel decides that she wants to pick strawberries since they'll be ripe today; they all decide to go with her.
- It's a beautiful day, but as they walk along, Angel suddenly screams.
- They turn around to see a bunch of huge men with wolf-like features dropping out of the sky. Yikes—the Erasers are here to get them, and this time it's not a dream.
- As soon as the Erasers show up, the flock starts fighting. They're not just going to let themselves be taken—or worse—after all.
- An Eraser grabs Max and asks her if she remembers him; she doesn't get it at first, but then she realizes that it's Jeb's son, Ari.
- They've turned him into an Eraser. Dude was just a kid the last time she saw him.
- When Max gets up again, after Ari releases her, she realizes something awful: The Erasers are gone… and they took Angel with them.
- The flock runs after the black Humvee that's quickly driving away, and Max lets out her wings. She's going to fly to get Angel.
- For some background information, Max says that she and her friends used to live at a horrible place called the School, which is full of scientists who grafted avian DNA onto their human genes.
- They follow the Humvee furiously, but then the Erasers run out (while carrying Angel) and hop into a waiting helicopter.
- It takes off, and as the flock tries to come after them, Ari yells out that they're the good guys. We're skeptical.
- Max and the rest of the flock are devastated, and Max punches a tree until her knuckles are all bloody. Gross.
- Because she's the leader of the flock, she has to calm down and come up with a Plan B so they can get Angel back.
- They head home, where Iggy starts yelling at them because they couldn't get Angel. Max tells him to stop; they can't fight right now—they're not the enemy, the Erasers are.
- Max starts to cry, and then feels even worse when the Gasman tries to comfort her. After all, it's his sister who's been kidnapped, so he deserves to freak out more than anyone else there.
- Nudge points out that the Erasers didn't want to kill them since they had guns, but didn't shoot any of the flock members.
- The flock agrees that they should hunt down Angel and bring her back home, but there's one fact that makes them all apprehensive: There's only one place the Erasers would take her—to the School.
- The flock basically freaks out as they talk about the School.
- But Fang leaves the room and comes back with a bunch of papers that used to belong to Jeb before he disappeared.
- They spread the papers out onto the table and pore through them until they find what they're looking for: a map of the School.
- The School is in California and six hundred miles away, so the kids have to be up for a seven hour flight—at the very least—if they want to go rescue Angel. And remember: They won't be hopping on a plane for this trip.
- Even though Iggy has reservations, Max is clear on the plan: They're going to go get Angel. Actually, she, Nudge, and Fang are going to get Angel, while Iggy and the Gasman hold things down on the home front.
- Iggy and the Gasman are upset about this. Iggy thinks it's because he's blind, and the Gasman thinks it's because he's too emotionally involved (since Angel is his sister), but Max just reiterates that they can't come. Deal with it, guys.
Part 2, Chapter 12
Hotel California, Sort of
- Max, Fang, and Nudge take off to find the school, which is located near Death Valley. How delightful.
- They're flying at about 90 mph, which is amazing, but Max still doesn't think it's fast enough because she wants to get to Angel as quickly as possible. After two hours, she feels kind of shaky, since flying is a serious workout.
- As they fly, Nudge brings up something unrelated: When they were going through Jeb's files, she found her real name (Monique) on a page along with the name of a town called Tipisco, Arizona.
- Nudge thinks this might be a way to find their parents, or "real" family members, but Max tells her that it's not worth investigating.
- Angel wakes up groggy and finds that she's in a big old dog crate. It's obvious that she's been taken to the School.
- She can hear the thoughts of the other children in the room, who are also locked into cages—they're thinking incoherent things about how she's new and how she has wings.
- They also have some kind of animal features, but they look like they might be mistakes.
- Angel is wondering where her friends are when a couple of adults in white lab coats come in and peer at her. They're obviously excited that the Erasers managed to grab a member of the flock.
- Eventually, Nudge complains that she's hungry and they decide to swoop down on some empty vacation houses to see if they can find something to eat.
- They creep up on a house that's set apart from the others, break inside, and dig through the kitchen cupboards until they find some canned food.
- They stuff themselves silly and then decide to take a nap while digesting.
- At home, both Iggy and the Gasman are in foul moods, still smarting from being left behind.
- Then they realize something else: What if the Erasers come back to the house for them? No…
- It's a scary thought, but Iggy and the Gasman aren't going to go down without a fight, so they have a little meeting of the minds and decide to make traps and bombs. Just in case.
- Poor Angel is being put through a gauntlet of tests by the evil scientists at the School. Right now, they're forcing her to run, and each time she stops she gets electrocuted. Yikes.
- Even though she hates the pain, at a certain point Angel can't take it any more, and she passes out. As she does so, she imagines Max crying over her.
- The scientists wake her up and are super impressed because she lasted three and a half hours on her run. Which, to be fair, is super impressive.
- Angel thinks to herself that she has to fight back and figure out a way to break free, but right now she's going to sleep. Girl's just too tired.
- Max wakes up disoriented and wonders where she is—until she realizes they're in the cabin, and that they didn't just settle down for a quick nap. They've practically slept until the next morning. Oops…
- She wakes up Nudge and Fang, and they hurry out the window, once again on their way to rescue Angel.
- Max beats herself up for letting them rest for so long, but Fang points out that they couldn't help it—they were all exhausted. Even part-bird people need breaks, yo.
- Nudge and Fang ask Max what her plan is once they get to the School, but she stays quiet. She has a Plan C in her back pocket, and it involves everyone going free… except for her. But she's okay with that.
- Even though they're anxious and worried about Angel, Max, Nudge, and Fang still enjoy their long-distance flight.
- Max thinks about the towns that they're passing and the kids below, wondering what their lives are like and how different it must be to grow up "normal."
- As she's flying, she makes out the shape of a few bigger kids—boys—ganging up on one small girl.
- She turns to Fang and tells them to meet her at Lake Mead. She's going to swoop down and defend that kid, even though it'll set their schedule back a bit more.
- Even though Fang doesn't approve, he has no choice but to take Nudge and go to the lake.
- Iggy is kind of a mad scientist, and he goes through everything that they have at home to make some homemade bombs.
- He even uses Max's Mickey Mouse alarm clock as a timing device… though maybe that's a little bit of revenge for leaving him behind.
- Max lands a bit away from the group and creeps around the warehouse to see what's going on. She sees some teenage boys surrounding a girl who looks like she's only twelve; one of them is even holding a shotgun.
- Max steps out from behind the warehouse and the boys and the girl turn to look at her. When they see it's just another girl, they go right back to picking on the little girl, whose name is Ella.
- Max tells them to stop it, and they laugh at her, even when she says that she's planning to kick their butts. They obviously don't believe her… but they also don't know that genetic engineering has made her stronger than a grown man.
- She immediately rushes into action, kicking the leader in the chest (and breaking a rib), before grabbing the shotgun from another and hitting him in the head with it.
- Ella looks at her in confusion, and Max yells at her to run. As Ella runs off, the third guy grabs Max's arm and she punches him in the face.
- The guys get up and one of them grabs the shotgun again—Max takes off running into the woods as fast as she can.
- Max can't let the boys see her wings, and so she just keeps running. As she does, she realizes that they're actually shooting at her…
- And then they actually hit her on the shoulder. She gasps before tripping over a tree root and tumbling down a hill.
- This is not going as planned at all. What in the world is Max going to do now?
- In the meantime, Fang and Nudge have found a cave up on some cliffs and are digging into the food from the vacation house that they brought along with them.
- They sit at the edge of the cliff in silence… until Nudge calls out Fang's name.
- Fang and Nudge find themselves surrounded by ferruginous hawk nests, a.k.a. the homes of some of the biggest, baddest birds on the planet. They both stay quiet as the hawks survey them.
- Slowly, Fang extends his wings and the hawks turn to stare at him. He's letting them catch his scent, and eventually they relax and go back to whatever they're doing.
- After the fear subsides, Fang and Nudge grin at each other; it's pretty awesome to be surrounded by all these huge, majestic birds.
- Nudge starts to get worried—after all, Max said she'd be back soon… So why hasn't she returned yet?
- Fang, on the other hand, encourages her to fly around on the cliff in order to take her mind off of things and reduce her anxiety. She flings herself off the cliff and spreads her wings, and it feels amazing.
- As they fly in circles and practice the moves they're learning from the hawks, Nudge starts to feel a bit better.
- Later, she watches the hawks take care of their babies. It makes her feel sad, though, because she never had a parent to take care of her like that.
- By nightfall, Max still hasn't returned, so they go into the cave and fall asleep together.
- Max manages to get away from the jerk teenagers who are hunting her down with a shotgun, but she's pretty frustrated with herself—now she's injured and late to go rescue Angel.
- She walks around the woods, trying to figure out what to do next. Then she sees lights ahead, and finds herself in front of a house.
- As Max stands there, Ella (the girl she saved) comes outside with a dog, and before Max can change her mind, she starts walking up to them.
- Poor Angel is still in her dog crate, listening to the scientists think about what they're going to do to her next.
- One reaches into the crate and grabs her arm; they're taking blood from her for tests.
- Iggy and the Gasman are still setting up traps at home like they're in a remake of Home Alone—we're talking nails on the road, safety bombs, and all sorts of other things.
- Being prepared makes them feel somewhat better about everything that's going on.
- Ella is surprised to see Max approaching her, but when she sees that she's wounded, she immediately helps her inside the house.
- As Max walks inside, Ella yells for her mom to come quickly—they need help.
- Iggy and the Gasman set up all of their traps outside and then start to walk home.
- As they walk, they list off the things that they've created: a trip wire, an oil slick, and nails on the road. It's not a bad start—Kevin McCallister would approve.
- An adult woman comes out and Ella explains that Max is the girl who saved her—and that she was shot in the process.
- The woman offers to call Max's parents, but when Max hesitates, she doesn't press it. (Phew, right?) Instead, she goes to get some medical supplies, since she's a veterinarian. (Okay, more like double phew.)
- The woman cuts off Max's shirt to examine the wound, and frowns when she sees the part where her wings tuck in.
- Even though Max never shows her wings to anyone else, she decides to go ahead and tell the truth. Then she unfurls the wings just a little bit, and both Ella and her mom stare at her in wonder.
- Instead of asking a bunch of questions about it, though, Ella's mom just gets to work caring for the wound. She's so caring that Max starts to cry—no one's ever been like this with her before.
- Iggy and the Gasman are hiding at the top of a tree in the early morning because the Erasers have come to get them.
- There's a Hummer coming quickly, and as it comes up the road, it hits the oil slick, spins out of control, and hits a tree.
- The Erasers get out of the car and start approaching the house on foot. They're obviously fuming from the "accident" and are going to make Iggy and the Gasman pay for it… if they ever find them, that is.
- As they wait for the Erasers to approach, Iggy and the Gasman go to hide in a makeshift cabin nearby that's been abandoned.
- Iggy talks about how they're going to have to eliminate all the Erasers, even though the idea of killing anyone makes them sick—they have to do it so they'll stop coming for the flock members.
- Then they hear a noise. There's a scratching at the door and a voice whispering; the Erasers have found them.
- As the Erasers kick open the door, the Gasman knows that they're going to have to fight to the death now.
- Nudge wakes up and freaks out because Fang isn't beside her. It seems that all the flock members are disappearing on her these days.
- As she crawls out of the cave, though, she sees the hawks flying in a beautiful formation—and then she sees one that's bigger than all the rest. Fang is flying with the hawks as if he's a part of their flock.
- Without hesitation, Nudge unfurls her wings, leaps off the cliff, and follows them.
- They paw through the food and stuff it into their jackets, talking about how they have to go find Max. After all, she wouldn't just leave them on their own—she must have run into some kind of trouble.
- When Max wakes up, she is warm and safe, which is pretty different from the way the past couple of days have gone.
- She realizes that she's at Ella's house, and that she's been bandaged up. Nonetheless, her shoulder still hurts.
- The bedroom door opens slowly, and Ella and her mom ask her if she likes pancakes and breakfast sausages.
- She nods and they leave to let her get ready. When she gets up, she sees that her clothes have all been laundered, and that there's a new sweatshirt with large slits cut into the back for her wings. Aw…
- The Erasers taunt Iggy and the Gasman, telling them that because they got Angel, they don't have to keep these two alive.
- Iggy and the Gasman have no choice: They immediately unfurl their wings and burst through the roof of the cabin, going straight up.
- As they fly, Iggy throws a package down to the cabin; a few seconds later, a big boom sounds below
- That would be Iggy's bomb going off. The cabin is now completely swallowed by a fireball, and all the Erasers that came after them are now dead.
- In the meantime, Angel is being forced to run through some kind of awful maze while she's timed—every freaking time she slows down, she gets an electronic shock.
- They've been at this all day now, and Angel is starting to cry because she doesn't think she can take it anymore. Can't say we blame the kid…
- As she reads the scientists' minds, though, she can see a rough plan of the maze. They're thinking about it, so Angel goes ahead and memorizes the layout; she can avoid all the traps this way.
- Angel runs through the maze in record time and then collapses, listening to the scientists talk about how amazing she is, and whether or not they should dissect her to study her brain. Freaky…
- An older man in a lab coat approaches Angel, and she starts: It's Jeb—he's very much alive, and he's working at the School.
- Nudge and Fang circle around looking for Max, but they don't see anything. Fang point out that if they go look for Max, it won't speed things up—they should go back to the meeting point and wait.
- As they fly, Nudge sees a sign that says Tipisco, Arizona is only three miles away. Hey—that's where Nudge's family is from.
- Fang says that she can't go, but Nudge is adamant, and she flies off without stopping to wait for Fang.
- The Gasman and Iggy climb up to a cliff and hide in a fissure, hoping that the Erasers don't catch up with them. They're sure to meet violent ends if they're found now that they've killed off some of the Erasers' pack.
- The Gasman finally says that he has a plan—but it's risky. Iggy says he's on board.
- Max has never felt like she's had a normal life, but spending the day with Ella and her mom, Dr. Martinez, makes her feel like just an average kid. It feels good.
- They eat breakfast together in the kitchen, and then Ella goes off to school. Dr. Martinez asks Max if she wants to talk about anything, but Max doesn't dare, and Dr. Martinez seems to respect her privacy.
- When Dr. Martinez asks Max if she can really fly, though, Max can't help but say that of course she can. She quickly tells Dr. Martinez that she has lighter bones, and bigger lungs, and a more efficient heart.
- Then she tells Dr. Martinez that she doesn't know how all of this happened to her. This last part's a total lie, of course.
- When Dr. Martinez finds out that Max intends to meet up with her friends by flying, she says that it'd be dangerous for her to strain her injury before it's healed. They really should take an X- first to see the extent of the damage.
- They go to Dr. Martinez's office, where she tells everyone that Max is Ella's friend and is getting a tour of the office for a school report.
- Max freezes in the examining room from the smell (which reminds her of the School), but Dr. Martinez reassures her that she's safe. They take the X-ray, and then Dr. Martinez shows it to Max, who is fascinated.
- It looks like there's only muscle damage, and so her wing bones are completely fine.
- Dr. Martinez points out a square on the X-ray that's in Max's forearm, and tells her it looks like a microchip. Dr. Martinez explains that it might have a tracer, which would allow the scientists to track Max down… wherever she is.
- Of course, Max is entirely horrified. She immediately tells Dr. Martinez to take it out, but Dr. Martinez says that she can't—it'd be too dangerous.
- Then they both freeze: They can hear men's voices in the waiting room asking questions. Dr. Martinez tells Max to go into the medicine storage closet while she investigates.
- The men tell Dr. Martinez that they're law enforcement and are looking for anything strange, and she tells them to get lost.
- They leave, and Dr. Martinez tells the receptionist to call the cops if those two men come in again. Then she goes to the closet to check on Max.
- Max says that she should probably go right now, but Dr. Martinez says that she needs one more night of rest. Doctor's orders, yo.
- Fang follows Nudge as she flies toward Tipisco, trying to convince her to turn around, but Nudge knows where she's going and there's really no stopping her.
- They find a mobile home park and wait outside the right numbered house, until a woman comes down to the front yard; they both watch her in silence.
- As Nudge sits there and wonders what she's going to do next, though, they hear a voice behind them. It's the Erasers again. Aw, shucks… Can't they get a break?
- Nudge and Fang jump to their feet and find that there are three Erasers waiting for them. One of them is Ari.
- Ari tells them that they're the last members of the flock alive, which makes Nudge start to cry; he also tells them that their home has burned to the ground.
- Fang, on the other hand, tells her to do a pinwheel. They're discussing moves they can do in code—you know, since they've learned all sorts of fancy flying maneuvers from the hawks they've been hanging out with.
- Nudge grabs a can of spray paint and aims it right at Ari's face. This stops him momentarily, and she and Fang take off in flight.
- The Erasers yell back after them, but they can't follow now that Nudge and Fang are airborne.
- Nudge apologizes to Fang, and then they both go back to their nest with the hawks. For now, this will have to be home.
- Angel stares at Jeb Batchelder, trying to figure out what is going on. She thinks for a moment that he might be here to save her, but she can't know for certain because she literally cannot read his thoughts—which something that's never happened to her before.
- She also notices that he's in a white lab coat, which can only mean one thing: Jeb works for the School again.
- Angel is furious. She has no idea what to do, or how Max is going to react when she finds out that Jeb is a white coat—Max considered him a father.
- Jeb tries to tell her that it's okay, and that he's not a bad guy, but Angel's not hearing it and says that she hates him.
- Back at Dr. Martinez's house, Max is helping make cookies from scratch. She's never done this before, and she feels like she's in heaven.
- She stuffs herself full of cookie dough and freshly baked cookies, and then tells Ella that she has to leave the next day.
- Ella is upset and tells Max that she's been like a sister to her. It makes Max feel worse about everything because she really does love Ella and Dr. Martinez.
- But she can't lie, and so Max tells Ella that she can't visit them in the future—she'd love to, of course, but it's just too dangerous.
- Nudge is pretty shaken up from her run-in with the Erasers. She can't get over seeing Ari, and hearing that all the other members of the flock are dead. It's all quite traumatizing.
- Fang shows up with some kabobs, which they eat with relish because they are hungry and kabobs are amazing.
- As they sit there and talk about what they can and cannot believe, they see some big creatures flying toward them.
- As the figures approach, they realize that it's Iggy and the Gasman. Yay. They aren't dead after all.
- The next morning, Max wakes up and puts on her new sweatshirt. Dr. Martinez gives her a little backpack with some supplies and their phone number—you know, just in case Max needs help.
- She thanks them for all that they've done, and steps outside. Then Max spreads her wings until they're fully extended and takes off.
- As she flies away, she can see Ella and Dr. Martinez looking up at her in awe. They've gotten quite the show.
Part 3, Chapter 49
School—What Could Be Scarier Than That?
- Max heads straight to the meeting place where she arranged to meet up with Fang and Nudge. No one is waiting for her there, though, and Max starts to become worried.
- But then a shadow falls across her, and Max looks up to see a bunch of hawks flying—and there are four kids with them.
- They all land next to Max and greet her joyfully. Iggy and the Gasman catch her up on what happened at home, and how the Erasers are now hunting them down.
- Then they all take off to look for Angel.
- As they fly, Nudge tells Max about how they tried to look for her mom.
- Max admits her own disturbing news to the flock: She has a tracer chip implanted in her, and she's pretty sure that's why the Erasers are able to find them so easily.
- The flock members all have an inborn sense of direction (cool trick), so it's easy for them to naturally go toward the School.
- When they stop for a break, Fang and Nudge show the rest of their friends the maneuvers they learned from the hawks. Everyone's amazed.
- They finally get close to the School and stop to find food. The kids watch as a fancy car pulls up to an ATM machine and a guy gets cash out.
- Then a pick-up truck pulls into the parking lot, and they sneak into the woods because they're worried that there are Erasers.
- As the man in the fancy car rolls down his window to yell at the pick-up truck, the window of the pick-up truck rolls down and the kids see Ari inside. Uh-oh…
- Max tells all the kids to keep quiet as Ari takes off in the pick-up truck. He doesn't seem to have noticed them, thank goodness.
- After they're sure that he's gone, they approach the ATM and try to figure out how to use it. It's asking if they want another transaction—apparently, the guy in the fancy car didn't log-off (and apparently, in this book, this is how ATMs work…).
- The machine asks for the access code, though, so Iggy gives it a shot—he could hear the difference between the keys (his hearing is heightened since he can't see).
- He figures it out, and the machine shoots out a bunch of money. Awesome.
- They scamper back into the woods to hide out, and then see a guy pull up in a red van. It's obvious that he works at the store.
- Even though Max feels awful, she relents to the other members' insistence that they need to steal (or rather, borrow) the van.
- There's only one problem (beside stealing being not cool): They're all too young to drive. This doesn't deter Max, though.
- She piles all the flock members into the van and hops into the driver's seat.
- Max drives the van toward the School, even though she's really—really—bad at driving. She also has a bad headache from the stress of it all. In fact, Max has been getting a lot of bad headaches lately…
- Fang convinces her to stop off at a small town and get something to eat, since the driving's not going so great.
- Max agrees, but tells them all to be on their guard because anyone around them could be an Eraser.
- Max and the gang go into a fast food restaurant and order a ridiculous amount of food, since they need more sustenance than the average human being.
- They take their food back to an inconspicuous table and dig in like crazy.
- As Max eats, though, she becomes aware that something is wrong. She looks up and sees that all the tables around them have been filled with a bunch of guys who look like they're male models.
- Oh no… the Erasers are here.
- Because Max and Fang are the first ones to notice, they both quietly alert the rest of the flock members and tell them to make a run for the fire exit door.
- In a burst, they take off and get to the van, where Max immediately hits the gas and drives recklessly into traffic.
- The van isn't fast enough, though, so Max tells the other flock members that she's going to stop so they can get out.
- But just as she drives onto a road, another car comes out of nowhere… and Max hits it head-on.
- The air bags inflate, and Max calls out to the rest of the flock members to make sure they're okay—they're all pretty beat-up, but they're otherwise fine.
- There's no time to rest, though, because in the next second, the Erasers are hammering at the glass with guns and pulling open the doors of the van.
- Although they try to escape, Ari and the rest of the Erasers take down the flock. In the next moment, a chopper comes down and Ari says that they're all going back to the School, just like old times. In the meantime, the Gasman and Iggy somehow escape.
- Max is thrilled when she finds Angel in the cage next to her—because it means that she's alive. Even if they're both stuck in dog crates at the School (the worst place ever), at least Angel is okay.
- Angel starts apologizing to her and saying that this is all her fault, but Max cuts her off and tells her not to be silly.
- Then, Angel says that she has something super important to tell them all—but before she can spill the beans, Jeb walks into the room and says hello to Max.
- Max is completely flabbergasted by Jeb's presence and wonders for a moment if she's hallucinating. All this time, she thought that he was dead.
- All of her feelings of love and admiration for Jeb are immediately replaced by pure hatred—she doesn't say anything back to him.
- Jeb unlatches her crate door and holds it open, and Max crawls out.
- They walk past a bunch of computers to a small room with couches and a little kitchen area.
- Jeb starts talking about how proud he is of Max, and how he has lots of questions about what they've been up to and all that they've learned.
- The whole time, Max just remains silent and listens to what he has to say.
- He tells her that this has all been a test, assuring her that someday she'll understand that he's not a bad guy.
- He also tells her that she's even more special than she realizes—she's been created for a reason.
- Apparently, it's her destiny to save the world. Say what?
- Max is pretty shocked by this revelation—and also pretty sure that Jeb is completely out of his mind. After all, you don't just go around telling people that they're destined to save the world.
- Jeb tells her that he can't give her any more details, but that it's true; then he leads her back to the row of dog crates and locks her inside.
- Because they're under surveillance, Max can't exactly talk to Angel, Nudge, or Fang while they're locked up in their dog crates.
- At some point, a scientist comes in and dumps an experiment into the crate next to Max's. The kid looks covered by a fungus, and sometime later, he stops breathing—Max realizes that he's died.
- The scientists and Ari come back and load Max, Angel, Nudge, and Fang onto a cart while they're still in their dog crates.
- Then they push them outside and over to the yard at the School. This is the same yard where Erasers are trained to bring down prey by tearing creatures apart.
- Yeah, things aren't looking so good…
- Ari pushes his fingers through the bars of Max's cage and taunts her; she immediately leans over and bites down on his fingers as hard as he can.
- As soon as this happens, Ari freaks out and starts kicking her cage. The cage tumbles to the ground, and Max quickly reaches out to unlatch Angel's crate door—which is just inches away from her.
- Angel scrambles out of her crate. Ari continues to shake Max's crate, and she looks up to see storm clouds approaching.
- That makes her smile, because she knows what they are. They're not really storm clouds—they're actually flocks of hawks led by Iggy and the Gasman. Yay.
- The hawks dive bomb the school and immediately start tearing into the Erasers.
- As pandemonium breaks out, Max unlatches Fang and Nudge's crates and they all turn around to beat up the scientists.
- Then they all take off in flight as Iggy gestures to the hawks that the battle is over. They start to fly off, and Jeb yells up at them that this was all a test and Max has to trust him.
- Yeah right. Max takes off with the rest of the flock and goes far away from the School.
- They fly to Lake Mead, where they collapse next to all the hawk nests; Angel starts crying and says that she never thought that she'd see them again.
- Max gives a little speech about how much she loves them all, and how she sees them as a family. It's a bit awkward, but it's obvious that they all feel the same way.
- Because they can't go back to their house—since Jeb knows where it is—the flock decides to go east.
Part 4, Chapter 67
New Yawk, New Yawk
- Even though the flock is now homeless, Max feels relieved and happy because they're all together and Angel is safe.
- As they're flying, a strange pain explodes in Max's head. She has no idea what it is… but she knows that it's bad.
- Max starts to drop toward the ground while her head explodes in excruciating pain, but Fang scoops her up so she doesn't fall to her death. Good catch, Fang.
- When she manages to speak, Max tells Fang that they need to find a place to land. Gee, ya think?
- An hour later, Max feels somewhat better; the flock works to make a camp for the night and to find some food.
- She tells them all that she's fine, but inwardly Max is worried—the problem with being a hybrid is that their spliced genes often unravel after a while, and the hybrids end up having a lower life span.
- Even Erasers only live about six years. Max has no idea how long her life expectancy is, but she's worried that this pain in her head is a sign that she'll soon die.
- As she thinks about this, though, Angel comes to her and says that she learned a secret while she was kept prisoner at the School. It's about where they all came from.
- Angel says that she heard stuff people thought while she was locked up, and through their thoughts, she was able to figure out that there's a place where information about their origins is stored.
- She says that it's somewhere called the Institute (or something like that) in New York City. She also says that they weren't made in test tubes like many of the other hybrids.
- Instead, they actually had parents—real parents—and they were born from biologically human mothers.
- Iggy gets mad at Angel for not telling them sooner, but she says that it just made her really sad and she didn't want to share it until now.
- Angel learned that the doctors put the genes into them before they were born. Nudge's parents in particular had no idea—they think she died after birth, because that's what the doctors told them. The same thing goes for Fang. Iggy's mom, on the other hand, died when he was born.
- Angel learned that her own parents (and the Gasman's, since they're siblings) gave them up to the School voluntarily.
- When Max asks about her parents, Angel says that she didn't hear anything about Max. Huh.
- All of the flock members are pretty upset after that truth bomb. The Gasman is angry that his parents gave him to the School, and Nudge can't stop crying.
- After the others have gone to sleep, Fang sits up with Max and says that she's lucky, in a way.
- He's upset to know that his mom was just a teenager when she had him, and wonders what would have happened if she knew that he was still alive.
- Max wakes the flock members early the next morning and announces that they're going to New York City—it's only a six or seven hour flight away, after all.
- Twenty minutes later, they're taking off when the pain in Max's head starts up again, and she falls to the ground.
- A bunch of images flash across Max's mind as the pain continues. Then, after it subsides, she throws up and lies there, gasping for breath.
- The flock members are super worried, but Max lies and tells them that it's probably just a stomach bug. Yeah, that's it…
- They all fly off again, and Nudge tells Max that she's been thinking about her mom; she thinks that her parents would be happy to see her again, since they were probably sad that she "died."
- Max thinks of how much she liked being around Dr. Martinez and Ella, and how she longs for that kind of family connection.
- All of the kids are super thrilled as they fly over New York City and see all the lights and people wandering around. They want to go shopping and eat food, but Max (ever the responsible one) tells them that they're here on a mission.
- They fly down to a park and watch an outdoor concert, which is awesome. Afterward, Max tells them that she has a plan, even though she hasn't figured it out yet.
- As the kids explore New York City, they're totally blown away by how many strange people there are around.
- But then, as they stroll through the park, they see a clown and a random man make eye contact after looking at the kids.
- It's obvious that there are Erasers here, too, and they're going to catch the kids if they can.
- Six, then eight, Erasers start chasing them; the flock scatters, trying to lose them.
- To escape the Erasers, the flock members try to run into the Central Park Zoo, which gives them flashbacks to their lives behind bars at the School.
- Since the kids have never seen any of the zoo animals before in real life (they were kind of sheltered growing up), they're totally amazed by the zoo.
- At the same time, they feel really sad for the animals. After all, they know exactly what it feels like to be kept in a cage.
- The Gasman tells them that he likes New York City because there are so many freaks—the kids blend in just fine.
- Max buys the flock members food that they want, like hotdogs, and burritos, and knishes.
- But then she finds a place selling cookies and buys some for herself. Sadly, they're not as good as the ones she had with Ella and her mom. They're still delicious, though.
- The flock members have been walking around all day and are starting to complain.
- Fang suggests that they find a phone book in order to look up the Institute, and Max notices that they're approaching a library, so she acts like this has been her plan all along.
- They're going to go inside and look up the Institute on the library database. That should work… right?
- The library is huge, and the flock members are duly impressed, since they've never been inside of one.
- Max signs into the computer lab as "Ella Martinez" and searches for the Institute. They don't find anything useful at all, though.
- After hours, they finally decide to give up. It's closing time anyway, and they need to leave.
- The flock decides to sleep in Central Park. They go down to the subway to get there, but then they look into a tunnel and find that people are inside.
- Max decides to hop onto the rail and walk down the tunnel until they find the people.
- They walk along the subway tracks until they find a cavern where a bunch of people are sleeping—it's an underground homeless encampment.
- Some of the homeless people point to an empty ledge where the kids can sleep.
- They're all tired and the cavern is warm and dry, so they decide to settle down for the night. Fang takes the first watch so that Max can get some rest.
- While Max is sleeping and dreaming, she suddenly feels a burst of pain in her head—it's another one of those brain explosions that she's been having,
- As she suffers through the flashing images and terrible pain, she hears a voice far away demanding to know who's screwing with his computer. What the heck?
- The pain subsides and Max looks up to see a kid about their age running up to them angrily—apparently his computer system crashed and he tracked down the interference to their group. That's certainly weird…
- Max asks him what he's talking about, and he turns his computer toward her. She freaks out when she sees a mishmash of flashing images on the screen—they match what she saw when she was having her brain attack.
Part 5, Chapter 86
The Voice—Make That My Voice
- The guy threatens to beat them up if they don't explain what's going on with his computer, but Max is too busy staring at the screen—because now it's talking to her. She can hear a voice inside her head while words scroll across the screen, like: "Hello, Max."
- The pain comes back into Max's head and the screen starts flashing all sorts of things again. Max catches one phrase, though: "Institute for Higher Living."
- The kid simply can't figure out how they're crashing his system when they don't have any gear. He asks them what they're on the run from, and Max asks him the same question.
- He tells her that he got kicked out of MIT for not taking his medicine, but when Max asks more questions, he gets paranoid, grabs his stuff, and runs away.
- Max decides that first thing tomorrow, they're going to go looking for the Institute for Higher Living. After all, it's the only real clue they have so far.
- The next morning, Max and the rest of the flock wake up and go off to find some food before hunting down the Institute.
- Max buys them all honey-roasted peanuts (nom nom) and they walk around for a while. She calls 411 to ask about a listing for the Institute for Higher Living, but there's no listing under that name.
- Then they reach an electronics store with a whole display of TV screens in the window.
- As Max walks buy, she feels pain in her head again, then words start scrolling across the screen addressed to her.
- The words on the screen tell her to get onto the Madison Avenue bus and to get off where it looks fun. How mysterious.
- Max says they should all get on the Madison Avenue bus, even though Fang is worried that it's a trap. Thing is, they don't really have any other options right now.
- The whole time they're riding, Max is looking out the window, trying to figure out what the voice in her head meant when it said to get off somewhere that looks fun.
- But then she sees a huge toy store—AFO Schmidt (not to be confused with FAO Schwarz). This is clearly what the voice was referring to, so Max tells the kids it's time to roll out.
- The kids have never even been to a toy store, let alone one as big as AFO Schmidt.
- Angel in particular is taken with all the toys and wants Max to buy her a stuffed bear that's dressed like an angel. Unfortunately, the bear costs fifty bucks, and the kids are running out of money, so Max tells her no.
- Max wanders off and finds an Ouija board that's moving on its own. It spells out, "Save the world, Max." Because that's not creepy at all…
- Max calls for Fang and tells him what she saw in the Ouija board; then she says that she wants to get them all out of there.
- They can't find Angel right away, so Max starts to panic… until she finds Angel with an older woman who's buying the stuffed animal that Angel wanted. Work it, girl.
- After the woman pays, gives Angel the bear, and leaves, Max demands to know what's going on and what Angel said to get her to buy it.
- Angel tells her that she used her mind to ask her to buy the bear. Say what?
- Max and Fang are super freaked out by this—they never knew Angel can influence peoples' thoughts, and this certainly changes things.
- But Max doesn't say anything just yet. Instead, she just buys the kids some falafel for lunch and they go on looking for the Institute.
- The voice in Max's head just won't shut up. She's starting to get scared because it's constantly talking to her and telling her to relax.
- When she snaps and starts yelling back at the voice, all the other flock members look concerned. She sounds like she's talking to herself, which is disconcerting.
- Out of nowhere, two Erasers pop out and the kids start running. When one grabs Max by her hair, though, Angel starts screaming bloody murder.
- The Eraser throws Max over his shoulder and laughs because he's pleased that he caught her.
- One second the Eraser is running at top speed, but the next he collapses, taking Max down with him.
- She scrabbles backward to find that the Eraser is dead. She has no idea why or how it happened.
- For now, they're not being chased by any more Erasers, so the flock members start walking away from the scene as quickly as possible.
- As they go, Fang mentions that the Eraser was five years old, which is right about when Erasers start to die since they have a shorter life span.
- Max suddenly sees a sign that says, "Every journey begins with one step." It's obviously some kind of mysterious message for her.
- She takes one step and looks down to see… an ATM card with her name on it. The voice in her head tells her that she can use it as long as she figures out the password.
- Just like that, it looks like the flock might not run out of money so quickly after all.
- The flock goes back to Central Park where they feel safest. Fang tells Max that the voice is tapped into her senses inside of her—that's how it knows wherever she is.
- They examine the ATM card. Max just has to figure out the password…
- While they're sleeping in a tree, they hear a booming voice tell them that it's against the law to climb trees in Central Park.
- Max wakes up and looks down to see a cop. She wakes the rest of the kids and tells them that they're going to get down like normal (a.k.a. without flying), and then make a run for it.
- As the cop asks them if she can contact their families (you know, since they're all just kids), they run for it—even though Angel resists because she's left behind her toy.
- Then another cop car pulls up and Max thinks that she sees Jeb dressed as a police officer, getting out of the vehicle. They have to run even faster now.
- They run and run until they find themselves at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
- Since it's supposedly a sanctuary, Max decides that they can go in and try to blend in with the tourists. Maybe they'll lose their pursuers.
- Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral, there's a bunch of people milling about silently. The flock members go toward the altar at the middle, because they have better visibility there.
- They all kneel down and pretend to pray, which is something that they've never really done before. Nudge makes a real prayer to find her parents, though, and Angel asks for her teddy bear back.
- Max just wants to be a better leader so that she can take care of her flock (gee, that sounds familiar…). She'd also like some answers, already—all of this mystery is driving her crazy.
- Max seriously thinks about staying in the cathedral, but then a sharp pain bursts through her head and shows a building at 31st street. This obviously means something important.
- She remembers what the building looks like, but not the exact location on 31st street, so the flock members start walking all the way down 31st street, looking for the Institute.
- The kids are getting hungry, so they have to figure out the password to Max's ATM card.
- They approach an ATM machine and try a bunch of failed passwords. Everyone is frustrated when Angel suggests that they try "mother."
- Max enters in the numbers that spell out "mother" and the ATM machine starts to work—when she asks Angel about it, Angel says that the word just popped up in her head.
- The whole thing makes Max uneasy, but she just withdraws two hundred dollars and carries on; there's nothing they can do about it now.
- They walk on and on, until Max sees the building from the images that have flashed through her brain.
- When they approach the lobby, though, there's no listing for an Institute of Higher Living. It's just a bunch of other businesses.
- Max is frustrated, but when she looks at the receptionist's computer screen, it says that there's a pot of gold beneath every rainbow.
- This gives Max the idea that the building might have a basement. As soon as she asks the receptionist how to get to it, security guards start after them and the kids take off running.
- Six blocks later, they finally lose the security guards. The Gasman starts yelling about how everything stinks and he's hungry. Looks like somebody's getting hangry…
- Max comes up to hug him, and promises that they can go eat at a nice restaurant if he wants.
- The Gasman points out a restaurant that he wants to go to, and they ask for a table for six.
- At first, the waiter seems okay with the fact that a bunch of kids are sitting down for a nice meal at this restaurant.
- But when the kids start to order excessive amounts of food (because they biologically require more nutrition), the waiter gets tense and keeps reminding them that it will cost a lot of money.
- The waiter brings over the manager of the restaurant, who tries to kick them out.
- The flock members are upset, but they agree to leave. That's when the cops show up, though… and they have no way of knowing whether or not they're the real deal or Erasers.
- Because they don't have a choice, all the kids just spread their wings and take off. As they flap around the dining room, the entire restaurant looks appropriately freaked out.
- Finally, Fang points out the skylight and the kids burst through it to escape. Yes, they've blown their cover, but at least they did it in style.
- They find a tree to land in, but they're not in the clear yet because Erasers immediately surround it.
- One of the Erasers is Ari and he starts antagonizing them like he always does—he even says that he resents Max for shutting him out when he was just a kid, back before he became an Eraser.
- Then Ari pulls out Angel's bear, and she starts to scramble down to get it. Max has no choice but to drop out of the tree in order to defend Angel.
- Angel uses her mind powers to get Ari to drop the bear against his will (apparently she's getting better at this), then hops back into the tree with the bear.
- The Erasers leap forward to attack them, but Ari tells them to stop—they have their orders to leave the flock alone for now. He motions to them and they all disappear. What was that about?
- The flock relocates to the top floor of a super tall apartment building, which feels safer than staying in a tree.
- Nudge and Max go grocery shopping and they all eat dinner before going to bed.
- Except for Max, that is, who can't stop thinking about how the Erasers are able to track them down so easily.
- She also wonders why Ari stopped the Erasers from killing them today. Then there's the issue of Angel's new powers… what's going to happen with those?
- The voice in Max's head tells her to stop worrying and to go to sleep. Without even thinking about it, she does just that.
- The next morning, Max wakes up to find newspapers and breakfast in bed. How nice of her friends, right?
- In the newspaper, they find a story about their escape from the restaurant, complete with pictures of them flying around.
- It looks like they're going to have to lay low for a while, or at least adopt some cool disguises.
- In the afternoon, they go out to get food again and try to decide what to do next. Max thinks that they might have to leave the state for a little bit because of the news story.
- As they're talking, though, some people from a salon approach them and ask if they'll allow them to give everyone makeovers.
- Max thinks it over for a second, and then realizes that this it their best bet if they want to look unrecognizable. She agrees.
Part 6, Chapter 110
Who's Your Daddy, Who's Your Momma?
- The flock members all have new clothes and edgy hairstyles, which have pretty much rendered them unrecognizable. Max even gets to wear make-up. Perfect.
- They walk around, confident that they won't be recognized as the flying kids from the restaurant.
- Then, when it gets dark, they take off to fly over the city.
- They fly around until they find a part of a beach that's not so inhabited, then they swoop down to eat, set up camp, and sleep.
- The voice in Max's head reminds her that this is a learning experience, and that everything is on a need-to-know basis… whatever that means.
- Even though they're running for their lives, the flock members are still delighted by all the new experiences, including getting to play in the ocean.
- All the kids are running around and playing, and Fang asks Max if they could stay if they knew they'd be safe.
- But she tells him that they have to find the Institute in order to learn more about themselves. Fang isn't so convinced that it's necessary to learn about all of that, though; he thinks it might be better to just drop it.
- The next morning, their whole stunt at the restaurant is buried on page six of the newspaper, which is a good thing.
- Max watches all of the kids swimming and playing in the water and feels torn. She doesn't know what's going on and who is on the good and bad teams; she also doesn't know what's going on with Angel.
- As she thinks, the Gasman turns to her in panic. Angel went under the water and hasn't come back.
- The kids all panic and go hunting for Angel underneath the water, which is difficult to see through.
- Minutes pass before finally, Max sees Angel pop up. She rushes over to them and is super excited. Guess what? She can breathe under water, too.
- The flock members each try to breathe under water, too, but it turns out that Angel is the only one who can actually do it.
- The voice inside Max's head says that they're all works of art, and that's why they have different (and cool) powers.
- Then the voice starts talking about how Max is destined to save the world again. Will it ever shut up about that?
- Once again, Ari somehow tracks them down, and the flock members wake up to find that they're surrounded by hundreds of Erasers. This is bad.
- Ari starts stroking Max's cheek and mocking her, so Fang tries to jump in to defend her—he always has her back—but unfortunately, the Erasers grab him, Max, and Iggy while Angel quickly flies up.
- Max screams at Nudge and the Gasman to take off, and they rise to hover above the scene with Angel.
- Ari starts to beat Fang up while Max screams. Fang throws sand in Ari's face, but it doesn't stop him, and Max has the sickening feeling that Ari is going to kill Fang.
- But then they hear a voice call out Ari's name. It's Jeb.
- Max is completely livid to see Jeb again. He walks through the crowd of Erasers and tells Ari that he has to follow orders. Ari lets go of Fang.
- Jeb comes up to Max and asks her if she gets why they've done this, but she just spits on Jeb's shoe and tells him that she doesn't get it and she never will.
- He tells her that she's the best, the strongest, and the smartest fourteen-year-old—she's been engineered this way. He also tells her not to make any stupid mistakes.
- Max doesn't listen to him. Instead, she tells him that he's not her dad anymore, and then turns to leave with her flock.
- As she passes Ari, she tells him that Daddy always loved her best, which makes him furious. But when he moves to attack her, another Eraser stops him.
- Max and the rest of the flock try to assess how injured Fang is. When he finally comes to and tells them not to take him to the hospital, they're super relieved.
- She tells him to live and then leans down to kiss him on the mouth. Wait… Where did that come from?
- All of the flock members are staring at her like she's crazy, and Max is totally embarrassed.
- The flock flies back to Central Park and then heads down to the subway in order to find that homeless encampment they stayed at before. Things are a bit awkward between Fang and Max.
- Max falls asleep and is in the middle of another brain explosion when someone grabs her arm. She wakes up to find that it's the guy from before—the one who accused her of messing with his computer.
- She looks at the computer screen to see a bunch of random words, images, and maps. When the guy asks her if she has a chip that's causing it, she tells him that she has one implanted in her.
- He immediately freaks out and tells her that having a chip like that implanted in her is bad news. Then he runs off.
- As Max sleeps, she sees a train station: 33rd Street. Then her brain shows her a rusted over grate that leads to… somewhere.
- She wakes up and tells the group that she knows what they have to do next.
- Max leads the flock through the subway tunnels. She knows what the voice has told her, but she's nervous about this whole thing, since it could still be a trap.
- Even the other flock members are freaked out, but they don't fight it because they're curious about their biological backgrounds, too.
- Max finds the grate that she saw in her dream and pulls it up. They all slide down, ready to confront whatever is underneath them.
- Once inside the sewer system, they are all totally and completely freaked out—and for good reason. They're in the New York City sewer system, after all.
- They walk through the sewer until they find a hidden metal door. This is it.
- The door is locked, so Iggy is tasked with picking the lock. He does so in three minutes, and they open the door to step through.
- They are confronted with a long staircase going down, which is pretty creepy. As the leader, Max volunteers to go first… and the voice tells her that she's on her own now. It's not going to talk to her anymore. Gulp.
- Max's headache is back, but she just soldiers on, leading them all down the staircase and through a door.
- Inside, they find a lab, just like the one back at the School. It looks like they've found the Institute… but is that a good thing?
- When they get into the room, Max also sees a bunch of computers and tries to hack into it.
- It's useless until Nudge tells her to try "XjnP7OHj4." When Max enters this combination, the computer unlocks—they're in.
- Max is understandably freaked out by Nudge's new skill. Nudge tells her that when she touches things, she can feel things that have happened here—she felt a scientist with frizzy hair entering in her password before they got there.
- Max looks through the computer and searches for keywords like "avian," "School," and "genetics." A bunch of files immediately come up.
- She opens up the files with their names and immediately starts printing them out. They grab the papers, then Max tells them that they should go immediately… but the Gasman stops them.
- The Gasman pulls aside a fabric-covered wall and they are all startled; Angel even screams.
- Behind the curtain is a glass wall, and inside are a bunch of cages with dozens of mutants sleeping.
- Yup, there are a bunch of mutant kids being kept here.
- Max is speechless as she surveys the scene before her. They open the door to the glass wall and walk into the other lab to get closer to all the mutant kids who are sleeping in crates and cages.
- They can tell right away that a lot of these genetic experiments aren't viable—some even have vital organs on the outsides of their bodies. How awful.
- Fang is looking at a large cat, and when it opens its eyes, Max sees that it has human eyes and humanlike fingers.
- Angel is looking inside another cage with a doglike occupant. And then they see Nudge standing by another birdlike kid.
- Fang tells Max that they can't save them all, but Max says that they're going to try. She whispers to the other kids that they should start opening the cages, and tells the creatures inside to run.
- Max releases a large child with wings from one cage, and when she asks why they're doing this, Max tells her that kids don't belong in cages and that they're leaving pronto.
- They lead the mutants out of the lab, but then hear voices—immediately, they try to run up the stairs as quickly as possible.
- Fang shoves open the door and they tumble into the sewer system. But then Max hears Ari's voice behind her. Is this guy ever going to leave her alone?
- Max tries to distract Ari while she tells the others to run away. She asks him what happened to him, and why he became an Eraser—which upsets him.
- He obviously has some issues with Jeb (his father) and feels like he's the one who was left behind, while Max was considered the perfect hybrid. The whole thing almost makes Max feel sorry for him, emphasis on the almost.
- Max kicks Ari when he's not paying attention, and he slips on the tunnel ledge to fall on his back. She screams at Fang to take the rest of the flock and run while Ari pops up and punches her.
- As he pummels her, he loses his balance again and she kicks him in the throat. He goes down hard and hits his neck against the side of the tunnel.
- Max realizes with shock that she's broken his neck—and that he's dead.
- There are more voices and footsteps coming up the stairs, and so Max and the others start to fly through the tunnel.
- As she flies away, she hears Jeb screaming that Ari was his son. She turns around and tells him that this is his fault for putting them through this test or game or whatever it is.
- Then, as she turns to leave, he screams at her that she killed her own brother. Wait… What does that mean?
- Max finally makes it up to the street with Jeb's words ringing in her head; she wonders if it's true, or if he's just trying to mess with her even more.
- Fang tells her that the bird girl they saved took all of the other mutants and left. Maybe they're going to form their own little flock.
- As they walk, though, Max realizes that not all of the mutants left them—Angel is still holding the dog from the lab.
- Max tries to tell her that they can't keep a dog with them (it's not really conducive to their lifestyle), but Angel begs until she relents.
- When Angel lets out an excited yell because Total (the dog) can stay, he leaps up… and jumps almost sixteen feet. Whoa.
- That night, they find a beach on Staten Island and regroup after a rather exciting week. They're all pretty stoked that Max found documents about their origins, and she starts pulling them out of the envelope.
- The Gasman hands Max his stack of papers, and she shows him that there's an address in Virginia, along with names and pictures.
- Even Fang gets choked up when he realizes that there are pictures of people who look like him—people who are probably his parents.
- When the Gasman pulls out a picture of his and Angel's mom and dad, she starts to cry.
- Max doesn't have any files with her name on them, but she tries to put on a brave face and act excited for all of her friends because they are super happy about learning this information.
- All of the addresses for their families are in Virginia, Maryland, or Washington D.C.—which points to this being a government thing.
- Max tells them that theye're going to go to Washington D.C. and start tracking down everyone's families. The flock is super excited, but Max feels lonely and sad inside.
- Late that night, Max talks to the voice inside her head and asks why she has no files on her mom and dad. And she also asks the voice if it's an enemy or a friend.
- The voice comes back and tells her that no one loves her more than it does… and that it's not going to answer any questions for now. That's not creepy at all.
- Early in the morning, the flock takes off for Washington D.C. to search for their fortunes—well, or at least for their families.
- Even though Max has no idea how any of this will turn out, she knows that she'll do anything for her friends. They're her whole wide world.