This next chapter was heavily influenced by a movie a watched near the time I wrote this. Can anyone guess what it was?


When I woke up, I was in a metal cage, being pushed along on a metal cart. "Drin!" I called.

"Don't worry about Drin," The female whitecoat murmured, smiling at me through the bars, "He's having wings grafted onto him right now. Hopefully next time you see him he'll be able to fly."

I threw some pretty rude words at her, but she only smiled. "I thought you might want to see our other experiments. The ones before and after you and Drin." My eyes widened. I was curious, but when I called her a "bee with an itch" she really looked pissed off. "Is this really how I taught you to act?" I stuck my tongue out at her.

She wheeled me into a room with clean white doors that hissed open. I spat at the door, just to ruin the spotless sterile look of it all. The door hissed shut behind us, and I got my first good look at the room.

I gasped in horror. The room seemed ordinary enough, but it was riddled with half human and bird hybrids. They had horrible mutations, none of them looked like they would survive more than a day without life support systems. One of the experiments looked like it had started to form a beak, but the split between the two pieces of the beak had never formed. There was another experiment with an overly large heart poking out of its chest. Another was starved and emaciated. I guessed that the stomach hadn't grown properly. The experiment couldn't ingest human food or bird food. There was an experiment to my left who started choking and hacking, curling in on itself. Blood started pooling on the floor of the cage. The experiment stopped moving, and with a wrenching feeling I realized that it had died. Right next to me.

I clenched my teeth, trying not to barf all over the cage. The female whitecoat deposited me in another room, where a young girl with scraggly blond hair had a boy's head resting in her lap while an older boy with brown hair watched, hands at his side. They were all wearing white smocks as though they were real clothes. I turned on my cage in time to see the female whitecoat slam the door.

Then I recognized the boy lying limp in the girl's lap. "Drin!" I cried. The other two kids, blue eyes on the girl and brown eyes on the boy, looked at me, and I saw that on their arms, feathers were folded tightly in weaving patterns along their skin, unfolding to show the bottom of a wing when they met the kids' sides.

"You know him?" The boy asked.

"That's Drin!" I cried, "He's my best friend!" I shook the bars of the cage. "Can you help me out?"

The boy walked over, and unfastened the catch on my cage. I practically flew out, wings falling loose in my haste. The girl and boy gasped. "So, you're the first experiment. The reason they tried to make us," The boy said, eyes wide.

I looked at him. He couldn't be more than eleven, the girl six or seven. "I'm sorry," I but my lip, "I'm Ave. I'm fifteen."

"I'm Newt," The girl said. When I frowned, she giggled, "Don't ask. I'm eight, I'm just small," She added as I gave a, What! look.

"Onx," the boy murmured. "I'm twelve."

"Small for your age?" I asked.

Onx laughed. "Yeah."

I knelt by Drin. "This is Drin?" Newt asked.

"Yeah," I sad, "He's fourteen."

"Oh god," I heard Drin whisper. "Who sliced my back open?"

"What?" I gasped, and as Drin climbed to his feet, I peeked at his back, where two feathered masses were folded. "Drin," I started, "Unfold your wings."

"Okay," Drin muttered, "Why?" He found out why as he went to unfold his wings. Drin grunted with the effort of lifting his new wingspan. Drin looked at his new black wings and fourteen foot wingspan with awe. "I have wings. Real wings!"

I hugged Drin, and he released his wings. "God," he muttered, "Wings are heavy!"

"Only because you're not used to them," I smiled. "We can work on flying together later."

"You can fly?" Onx asked, disbelief in his face.

"Yeah," I nodded. "I would guess that you've never been allowed to try."

Newt stood up, lifting her arms. Feathers slid into place along her arms, forming one consecutive wing with a wingspan of about nine feet.

"Wow," I murmured. "You wings are your arms."

"Yeah, and it sucks sometimes," Onx said, unfolding his eleven feet of white and brown wing.

I studied Onx and Newt. "I think you guys have the wingspan to fly. I spread my wings, an amazing fourteen feet. "Copy me."

We had to work around some things. Onx and Newt's wings were their arms, so we had to work on the motion. Drin had to strengthen his muscles in his wings, and fourteen feet took up a lot of space, so while Drin was working his wings, I told Onx and Newt stories about the real world. What my life had been like. How beautiful it was with the blue sky and green grass and trees, and multicolored plants and animals. I told them a few stories that I had learned over my year of freedom. Classic fairytales. Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I tried to stay away from stories that in anyway resembled the life these kids led.

Newt had taken to cuddling up with me at bed time. She was little, and I guess she wanted to. I hugged her as she slept, and she seemed to relax. Having grown up here, the only feeling she had ever learned was paranoia, fear, and worry.

One day, the whitecoats took us to the auditorium, and gave us six months to learn how to fly. There were even soft beds for all of us in the spare room. The female whitecoat that had raised me must have ordered that. For a second, I was tempted to tear the beds to pieces, but that would have been unfair to Newt and Onx, who had never slept in a real bed.

The auditorium was smaller than I remembered, but it would be large enough to allow Drin, Newt, and Onx to learn how to fly.

Drin and Onx let Newt go first because she was the youngest. Over the (God, how long had we been here?) time we had been here, I learned that Newt was very stoic for her age. She was quiet, and serious. I sighed. The poor kid.

Flying changed everything. Newt cried out in joy when she truly managed it. Her wings were amazing. She looked like an angel with her pure white wings flapping, golden blond hair blown back from her face. She smiled then, a real smile, the first I had ever seen on her face. Her landings were terrible at first, but we worked on that. Soon she was flying and landing as smoothly as I did.

Onx was next to learn how to fly. Having watched me and Newt a lot, he caught on quickly, and was flying very soon. However, his landings were worse than mine or Newt's had had ever been. I joked that it was boys' horrible balancing abilities. While Onx was still working on his landings, I started working on flying with Drin.

Drin had waited a long time for this moment. After having watched me fly effortlessly for a year, he had been lying through his teeth when he said that he didn't mind if Onx and Newt went first. He had been working his wings the whole time, building up muscle. But when I finally showed him how to fly, he got nervous.

"What if I can't fly?" He asked fearfully.

I hugged Drin. "You can fly Drin," I told him. "You just need to learn." I moved my wings in a circular motion, top of the wing pointing upward as it came forward, and then reverting to pointing downward as it swept back. Drin started to smile as he felt his wings moving.

Making sure that Drin was watching, I ran forward, wings beating, and after a few hard strokes, rose into the air. I wheeled around to watch Drin.

Drin had seen me take off many times. His jaw set, he ran forward, wings flapping, and rose into the air. Dipping one wing the way that he had seen me do, he turned and looked at me, hovering in the air. "Wow." He murmured.

Onx and Newt looked up, their eyes wide, and opened their wings to join us. Drin was looking around the auditorium with keen eyes. Suddenly, he called my name.

"Ave!" He called. He was hovering near a wall. I flew closer, and my vision spotted what Drin's had. It was a ventilation shaft.

I flew forward and pried the metal grate off of the shaft. It was long and dark, but it would be large enough for all of us to fit in. I grinned. Maybe we could escape.

We had spent five months in the auditorium when we finally crawled into the shafts. They were cold and dark, and the only light was coming from behind us, and the grates along the shaft. I tried to remember how the lab worked, how it was laid out. Drin pointed me in the right direction whenever I got turned around.

At long last I saw the main office of the lab, with sunlight shining brightly through the door to the outside. I peered around the office, making sure that there was no one around. Then I pushed the grate out of the way, and fell into the office. Drin, Onx, and Newt followed.

I frowned. Only an unlocked door blocked our route to the outside world. This was too easy.

Onx and Newt were amazed by the world. Newt took a deep breath, and grinned. Onx looked around. His eyes raked the surrounding area. "It's even more beautiful than it was in my dreams," he murmured, touching a flowering plant to his right.

As we spread our wings and started to fly away, I got the reason for my uneasiness. We heard the rapid popping off machine guns. Onx and Newt of course, had no idea what machine guns were, so they had no idea why Drin and I started panicking. Drin and I flew faster, hoping that we could out-fly the bullets. I thought we were in safe range when I felt a thud in my shoulder.

I looked at a dark hole on my left shoulder right below my collarbone. I touched it, and my fingers came away dark with blood. I wasn't really sure what had happened until I was spiraling toward the ground, and Drin, Newt and Onx were crying out.

I spent the next few days in a daze, drifting in and out of consciousness. My shoulder burned with pain the whole time. Newt, Onx and Drin were always around me, and their faces swam in my conscious and unconscious mind.

When I awoke this time, I stayed awake. There was a heavy weight on my stomach, and for a second I freaked out. Then I looked and saw Drin, lying asleep on me. I smiled, and looking around, saw that it was dark outside. The dim embers of a fire were the only light. Newt and Onx were curled up near each other. I didn't want to wake them. They looked like they could use some sleep.

I gently eased Drin's head off of me and, wincing, crawled over the fire. A few pokes with a stick and some pine needles got it up and burning again.

I huddled near the fire, warming my limbs. Suddenly, I realized how thirsty I was. I stood up, gritting my teeth in pain, hand on my shoulder. I listened, and could distantly hear running water. I followed my hearing, and found a stream. I drank the cool, clean water, and when I had quenched my thirst, I went back to camp.

Newt was stirring. I tip-toed over and sat by her. Her big blue eyes opened, and she recognized me. "Ave!" She cried, and practically flew into my arms.

Her shout awoke Onx and Drin, who came running. I smiled and laughed along with them, trying not to cry out as they jostled my injured shoulder.

That night has stuck in my memory ever since. We were alive, together, and free. And the night only got better. We had a late dinner, or, and early breakfast, depending on the choice of words, of roasted squirrel and rabbit. Drin, Onx, and Newt, all tripping over each other's word, tried to tell me what had happened. Eventually I shut them all up and told Drin to tell me what had happened.

He explained that after I had been shot by a bullet, he had caught me and they had all flown to safety. At first they were afraid that I would die, as I had lost so much blood. But when Drin got the wound to stop bleeding, I showed some signs of recovery.

Drin had hardly left my side throughout the whole ordeal. He had been catching up on some much needed sleep when I awoke. I had been out for three days.

But we were free. We were in another, um, state, from the one which contained Precon Laboratories. We were on the run, homeless, and eating roasted squirrel in the middle of nowhere, but we were free.

While the joy of being free with my new adopted siblings was still in effect, Drin made the whole night complete. When Newt and Onx went on a nighttime flight to give me and Drin some alone time, Drin came close to me, pressing against my side.

"I was really worried for a time," he murmured, "I thought you weren't going to make it."

"Drin," I teased, "If I can kick twenty ninja's butts in five minutes, death isn't going to get me." I grinned, and Drin gave a weak smile.

"I know." He muttered, "But I thought..." I cut him off by kissing him on the lips. He looked at me in wonder.

I smiled. "You talk too much," And we kissed again, and again.

It's been nearly six months since we escaped. We migrate around, staying in abandoned beach houses during the winter, and spending time outside in the summer. We watch T.V. a lot, learning what we can. We 'borrow' things when we need them. We try to learn as much as we can. It's not an easy life, but it's our life, and it's not half bad.


The end. Any characters seem familiar?

What do you think? Let me know!