"There they are!" Gazzy yelled. Sure enough, when I looked to the cliffs in the distance, I could just make out half a dozen black forms approaching us. The hawks pulled up alongside us, their powerful wings working in sync with ours', and began to fly with us. When Angel had been kidnapped, Nudge and Fang had waited for me in the birds' cave while I rescued Ella, who I had no idea I was related to at the time, from a group of bullies and got shot for my troubles. It's a small world and all that.
"Ewww! One's got a rat in its mouth!" That was Nudge. Seeing the raptors tearing apart small rodents and snakes had permanently put her off meat.
We flew in tight circles using tiny adjustments with as few as two or three feathers, a trick we had learned from the birds of prey themselves. The majestic hawks kept a tight formation with us while we pulled stunts; they had become well used to us due to our almost daily flights with them.
Eventually, I remembered why we were here. "Guys! We gotta go!" One by one, they peeled away from the birds and fell in behind me. Despite the increasing darkness, the hawks kept pace with us until we reached the very edge of their territory, where they turned back with piercing cries.
I heard Total sigh as he poked his head out of Fang's backpack; lucky he remembered to bring food. "Jeez, you know those birds give me the creeps. Why do you guys have to hang out with them?"
I removed him from the backpack mid-flight and zipped him up in my windbreaker. "Lighten up, Total," I quipped, "Not all of us look like a snack." I ignored his mumbling and shouted, "Flock! Stack up!" Fang positioned himself above me, with the rest of the flock taking their places above him, with Angel at the top. We fly like this often to practice synchronization, as our wings have to flap at the exact same time, lest we hit each other. We angled towards California and flew off into the darkness.
"Maaaaaaax..." I heard Nudge whine from somewhere to my left; we had broken formation an hour ago. "I'm hungry!"
I sighed, not willing to admit that I was as hungry as her. "All right, but we gotta eat on the fly." Slipping off the backpack I had removed from Fang, I rummaged through it and withdrew a couple fruit bars. I held them out, and Nudge swooped in to take them. I began handing them out to the rest of the flock, and after they all had some, I started munching on my own. It wasn't much of a meal, but Fang hadn't packed as much food as I had previously believed. The backpack's main purpose had been a Yorkie ferry service. Speaking of that little black bundle of... fun.
"Hey!" he yelled indignantly from Angel's grip, "Where's my food?!"
"You ate plenty when we were flying with the hawks. You can wait until we stop." I snapped; the dog had eaten at least half of what Fang had brought, another reason for the meager rations. Too late, I saw Iggy and the Gasman flying next to each other, whispering something I couldn't hear. "What are you two doing?" I snarled, knowing what their response would be.
"Nothing!" they yelled in unison, way too quickly and too loudly to be convincing, but I wasn't going to get anything out of them, so I would have to wait until whatever they had planned came to pass.
An hour later, I found out. They timed it perfectly. We were just beginning to falter and slow, and I gave us another thirty minutes before calling it a night. Unfortunately, I also stopped expecting the pranksters to pull something. "Think fast, Max!" I heard Gazzy's voice ring out as a water balloon, yes, a water balloon, hit me in the back of the head and soaked me.
From there it became a war-zone. Gazzy and Iggy were pulling seemingly infinite water balloons from their jackets and winging them at whoever happened to be closest. How would they get these weapons of mass hydration, you ask? I have no idea, but the blind mutant always had some on hand; it was better than him throwing the bombs that he also always had close by. Another balloon burst on my leg as I banked and flew up towards them. Catching Iggy unawares, I grabbed him and pulled him between me and the Gasman. As I did so, I flapped Iggy's shirt and the multicolored globes fell to Earth, probably soaking some poor guy's car. At that exact moment, Gazzy ran out of balloons and the two partners in crime began cackling like madmen. Disgusted, I shoved Iggy away and put some distance between us; it was fun watching him struggle to right himself.
We flew in silence for a while until we saw the glow of those glorious golden arches. Without a word, we angled down and landed behind the restaurant. Unfortunately, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Silent had neglected to bring money. Fortunately, we're used to dumpster-diving.
"I found some veggie burgers!" Nudge whispered loudly, thrusting the sandwiches in the air. I settled for half a package of fries, a hamburger that wasn't fit for sale but still edible, and a baked potato. None of it tasted good, but it was a step up from char-boiled desert rat.
The "meal" was quickly finished, due to our hunger, and soon we were in the air again. We flew high enough so that we were positive that we couldn't be viewed from the ground. When the pinpricks of light that represented the small town faded into the distance, I knew that we were over a forest. I dove, feeling the wind whip by, and fell almost to the top of the trees. I dipped below the treetops and settled on one of the branches while the rest of the flock took their places atound me. Iggy had first watch, because he could hear a fly cough from fifty yards. The rest of us exchanged our good nights and settled in for the night. We had made a little more progress than I thought we might, but I figured we still had half a day before we got to the School, not including stops. I closed my eyes and sleep slowly overcame me.
The rest of the flight from the following morning passed without incident, and around mid-afternoon we found ourselves hovering high above a field nearby the School, watching the unveiling of Project New Beginnings. The information Nudge had gotten off the internet was a day off, and we were lucky to arrive a little earlier than we expected. Below us, around a makeshift stage, was a group of fifty flyboys; from this distance they simply looked like men with elongated faces and fur, albeit with giant wings tacked onto their backs. In the center of the stage, though, was what I could only describe as... a stargate. It sat on a large, unobtrusive pedestal and had large, black rings around it every foot or so down its circular length. A large crowd of whitecoats surrounded the stage.
I swear, if these scientists weren't the epitome of evil, than cancer, STD's, and all other diseases would be cured in a heartbeat. But no, their approach is to kill anyone with a sickness because they're "holding back the human race." Suddenly, a woman walked up onstage and held up a microphone. Judging by the way the crowd fell silent immediately I figured that she was a higher-up in Itex, the School, or both. She brought the microphone up to her mouth and cleared her throat.
"Ladies and gentlemen," she began, "I am sure that by now word has reached you about the unfortunate incident in Germany, which involved the premature cancellation of the By-Half Plan." She allowed the crowd a moment to grumble before continuing. "If you are here, than you have come to the same conclusion that my colleagues and I have: our future lies not in this world, but the next." I looked over my shoulder to see Iggy, Gazzy, and Nudge stifling giggles at the ridiculousness of her statement, but I wasn't amused; they wouldn't announce something like this without evidence behind it.
I looked back down so I wouldn't miss the woman's next words. "Here at the School, we have moved beyond the boundaries of genetics. Instead, we have crafted this machine." She indicated the stargate with a dramatic sweep of her hand. "When activated, this device punches a hole through the fabric of space and time into a new world. There, the human race can start anew; there, we no longer need to worry about those failed experiments known as the flock standing in our way!" If only she knew.
"Oh come on!" Nudge said as loudly as she dared, "They have no idea what the new world would be like! I mean, there could be a boy that can create things from mere thought, or there could be an alliance of alien races bent on destroying Earth and the only thing that stands in their way is a heavily armored super-soldier! In fact, there may not be anything on the other side of that thing!"
I tried to hug her in mid-air, but it didn't work out well. "Once again, supposed genius logic is picked apart in seconds by a twelve-year-old!"
We all hushed up once we realized the woman had started speaking up again. "In a show of good faith, we will take ten volunteers from those of you gathered here to enter this new world. After one week, the rest of us will go should it be determined to be safe. A contingent of robotic eraser units will accompany these volunteers, along with myself, just in case. So, who would like to be he first?" About twenty hands were raised, and ten of those were selected. While this was happening, a group of whitecoats were bringing up enormous, military-style backpacks and putting them on certain flyboys. "Some of the eraser units are being outfitted with provisions to last us all the week, but we must learn to fend for ourselves as well; we will not have these forever once the rest of you cross over with us. Now, the moment you have all been waiting for. Power up the portal!"
As she had been speaking, a separate group of whitecoats had taken their places at the stargate (no, I'm not going to stop calling it that) and began pressing buttons on control panels that we couldn't see. A loud hum filled the air, and the inside part of the ring split in two. As the whtecoats continued their work, the space between the two halves of the ring began to glow a bright blue, and the humming increased in volume. Suddenly, beams of light, the same shade as the glow in the gap, shot from all sides. They flew out at every possible angle, exiting from one end of the ring and entering at the opposite side. Eventually, they coalesced into a rippling field of blue light. At this point the hum hert our ears, even this high in the air.
"The eraser units will enter first!" The woman had to scream into the mic to be heard over the noise. "Followed by me and the volunteers! When the last of us is through, the portal will close. In one week, the rest of you will be able to join us in a glorious new beginning!"
They're going to ruin whatever world they arrive in. I thought to myself. Then I made one of my famous snap decisions. Why are they famous? Because they usually end up being incredibly stupid. I looked back down to see the last couple volunteers passing through the gateway.
"Guys!" I yelled, "Come on! We gotta follow them!"
I dove, wings tucked in tightly, and was relieved to see the others do the same. The wind tore at my clothes and the g-forces played hell with my face, but I stayed on course. Through the tears in my eyes, I saw the last volunteer step through the brilliant blue plane. The distance between me and the portal grew smaller rapidly.
Max, wait! The Voice screamed, but it was far too late. I shot through the portal, and immediately felt as if every cell in my body was being stretched to its limit, then as if my entire being was compressed into the space of an atom. My last coherent thought was hope that the rest of the flock had made it in before I lost consciousness.
A/N I wonder where they'll end up? I'm sending this in to Equestria Daily after this is posted; wish me luck!