She felt like an idiot for ever thinking that luck was looking up to her. She felt like calling herself a noob. She felt suffocated. But most of all, she felt like she was going to pee her pants at any moment.
Sian felt horrified as she struggled to get out of her grip. Though she wasn't holding her in a chokehold, it was still an iron grip and Sian was ready to crawl back to whatever hell she was from.
"Listen, Max right?" She choked out and the grip tightened. "I think you've got the wrong idea of things."
"Max," A younger girl put a hand on her shoulder. "She doesn't know about Evan, she only knows about us but not much. It's okay. Let go."
YES! LET GO!
If Sian wasn't so scared and if her brain was working as usual, she would've questioned how the girl knew these. But right now, the only thing she wanted was to get out from this almost death grip.
Max seemed to hesitate. Then she looked at the girl, who Sian was pretty sure to be Ariel, and let go of her. Sian landed on the floor with a thud and bent over as she gasped for air.
"Who are you?" A boy around Ariel's age asked.
"I'm," She straightened up again. "Sian Dent, journalist."
"Oh I know who you are, all right?" the strawberry blond haired guy said angrily. "But I did not hook up with you! That's just wrong!"
Sian grinned. "Jeff, right?" But the grin fell when she saw everyone glaring down at her. Sian would admit, it was a bit scary, because all of them were freakishly tall. Evan Ariel was at least two inches taller than her. "Sorry about that but I…"
"How did you know about us?" The black haired boy asked. Nick, her brain supplied.
"I, uh, I had an accident and…."
"We know how you found the girl." Jeff snapped. "But how did you know about us? How did you know her name, and mine?" He pointed at Max, then at himself.
"Oh." Sian thought about it. But unlike Charles Siemens and Janice Woodcomb, lying to them or dodging the questions seemed like bad idea. "I, uh, I,"
"Speak!" Max snapped.
"I broke inside an Itex facility and learned about you!"
Max looked at Ariel. Ariel nodded.
"She's telling the truth."
"Wait- how do you know that?" Sian finally noticed the weirdness of the situation.
Ariel just gave her a very creepy smile.
"What do you want from us?" Nick demanded.
"I - I want your help." Nope, there was no break in the glaring contest. "I want to take down Itex but for that I need hard evidence and you're my best shot into getting that."
It was like they were betting on who could burn up Sian Dent first with a stare.
"Why?" Max demanded.
"Why do you want to take down Itex?"
"Oh." Sian was dumfounded. Why did she want to do it again? "Because, um, because what they are doing is wrong." That's why! Beat that ye punks! "And I want to stop it."
Max kept looking at her judgingly. Hm, I feel like a freaking high school drop out doing a job interview.
"No," Max gave her verdict and turned around.
"What?" Sian panicked. "What do you mean 'no'?"
"No, as in I don't believe you!" She turned and looked at her again. "You can get out now."
"What is it with you people and not believing me?" Sian finally snapped. "I am doing this for you! So you can get a life!"
"Yeah well you're not convincing enough."
"No, Max." Ariel grabbed her shoulder. "Maybe she can help us look for Evan! We have no idea where to look and she might come to help."
"We'll be fine." Max said firmly. "We'll…"
"Who's Evan?" The attention came back to Sian again. But she was too excited to notice. All the things that she had found until now, all the information about the Experiments, mostly Experiment 000333, everything she had heard from Daniel Grey, about his life and Itex and his wife, all of it was coming together now.
"Is it your kid?"
Suddenly Max was on her again. But this time, she actually put pressure in the grip. Sian gasped and clawed at her hands, but with no avail.
"How do you know about her?" Max growled out. Nick tried to get her off of Evan.
"No Max." He said as he pulled again and motioned Jeff to help. "You're killing her!"
Instead of moving, Max put more pressure in the chokehold. "Answer me!" She yelled.
"She doesn't!" Ariel screamed as three of them pulled her off of Sian. "It was a guess Max! She doesn't know where Evan is." She looked at Sian who was again bent over. "Go!" She whispered. "Leave!"
This time, Sian didn't need to be convinced.
"Hey, how did it go?" Grey greeted when she received the call.
"Not good." Sian choked out as she pressed the cold water bottle on her throat. Man, that girl has a damn good grip!
"Are you okay?" Grey sounded worried. "You seem all choked up!"
Oh, I'm choked up all right? She thought bitterly. I'm choked up.
"No I'm fine." She sighed. "But they didn't believe me. They refused to help."
"But they are the ones, right?"
"Well then try again."
"But I told you, they don't…"
"Convince them." Grey said confidently. "These are all beat up people Sian. They've been running for forever. If you want them to help you, you're gonna need their trust. And the only way you can get their trust is if only you can earn it. You have to earn their trust Sian."
"Yeah Gandhi? And how do I earn it? How do I convince them?"
"Tell the truth." Grey said as if it was only a matter of fact.
And Sian sighed. "Whatever."
"Damn it!" Max screamed as she again bursts open the door. "Where is she?"
"Max I told you!" Angel said for the umpteenth time as she and the rest of the Flock followed her inside. Again, the stood in the living room. "They won't take her in a branch that we know of. They were thinking about the head branch. I'm telling you she's in there!"
"Well that's what we are trying to do Angel." Max turned at her, her eyes furious. "We're trying to find out where the head branch is! That's why we busted into that fucking branch but there was no fucking trace of her! They don't even have any files on us there!" She stopped and took a deep breath. God it seemed so hard now. It wasn't this hard nine years ago, was it?
"Yes, it was." Angel answered her question. "It was just this hard. But we were younger then and none of us gave a damn for the world. But Max," She said calmly as she looked at the others. "It was too long ago. Now all of us have lives and we've been out of the game for too long. You saw what happened today when we were fighting those erasers. We hardly survived. We can't do it like this Max. We need help."
"Help?" Max scoffed. "You mean that girl?"
"She's our best shot."
"Angel's right." Fang said as he put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "We need her help Max. She's bright, even if she doesn't know the whereabouts, it'll be easier for her to find it."
"Yeah?" Max felt desperate. With each passing hour Evan was in more danger. She was ready to do whatever it took to get her daughter back. "And how are we going to find her?"
"I know a way." Angel grinned.
Sian was a bit upset.
Okay, scratch that. Sian was a lot upset. Like a lot! The whole nobody-trusts-me-why-why-why thing was taking its tolls on her. She was now in the hospital. She thought maybe if she saw her father she'd feel good, but she was wrong. Seeing her father in a coma from which he might not wake up, also wasn't working. So she was getting ready for another round of uncomfortable sleep on the couch because she was very eager to end this long and tiring and fruitless day.
That was when someone knocked on the window.
Sian almost jumped. She looked at the window, but the curtains were closed. She was about to give decision that it was just her exhausted mind when there was a thumping noise. Sian stared at it for a few seconds, deciding what to do, and then she picked up an empty flower vase and tiptoed to the window. She moved the curtains an inch and this time she did jump when she saw Max sitting on her balls on the windowsill. Sian breathed a secret sigh of relief and opened the window.
Max came down and gestured her to close it again. After closing it she saw Max staring at the vase in her hand.
"Were you thinking about attacking me?" She asked in a sarcastic tone.
Sian shrugged. "Well, the last time you did try to kill me."
Max's smile fell. "Yeah, sorry about that. Shouldn't have lost my temper like that."
"It's okay." Sian waved it away. "Just don't do that again, huh?" She stared at Max for a few seconds. She hadn't noticed before, but now she could see the slight lump on her back. She must've flown here because this room was in the seventh floor. "How did you find me?"
"Angel told me. She said we needed you…"
"The blond girl?"
"Oh," But wasn't her name Ariel? Sian didn't question it though. "How did she know?"
"She said you were thinking about it the whole time." Max explained. "You were worried about him." This time she looked at Sian's father. "What happened to him?"
Sian sighed. "Itex happened. They threatened me to stop and I didn't listen so they did…that." They stayed silent for a few seconds before she panicked. "Wait – how did Angel know?"
"Oh, she can read minds." Max said and Sian's jaw literally dropped.
"She can read minds? Are you joking?"
"Do I look like I'm joking?" Max smiled. "It comes with the whole wings thingy, you know about them, right?" Sian nodded. "It's her ability. All of us have abilities like this. For instance I have super speed. Which also means if you try anything funny, you won't be able to hide from us." Though Max smiled the whole time, Sian understood the seriousness of the threat.
"Why are you here?" She asked.
"We need your help." Max said as she sat down on the couch. "You were right, Evan is my daughter." She sighed. "She was an experiment that they did on me. They wanted to experiment her too but I ran away before she was even born. And now they have her."
"Who's her father?"
Max's face-hardened. "Doesn't matter."
Sian didn't press her about it. "Well, what do you want from me?"
"We're guessing that they'll take her to the head branch. Do you know where it is?"
"No," She shook her head. "But I might know who does."
"Good." Max nodded. "In that case I have only one question for you. If you can satisfy me with the answer, we'll go to this person and in return we'll tell you anything you want to know."
Sian smiled. "Good enough for me."
"But if I'm not satisfied with it," Her smile fell. "Well, let's just say the consequences won't be good."
She shrugged, trying to seem upbeat. "Shoot."
"Why do you want to take down Itex?" Max repeated the question from before.
Sian gulped. Then she stared at her for a whole minute. Max was about to get up and call Angel in her mind when she spoke.
"Because I'm selfish." She said in a calm low voice as she stared at her hands. "I'm selfish. Like any other journalist, I search for a story Max. A great story. A story that will turn my life. A story that will bring me success and fame. And I knew this was my story. So I took the opportunity because I knew if I could land this, this would be a gigantic fish." Sian sighed. "But this was before my father's accident. Before I lost my job as a journalist."
"And now?" Max felt curious. "Why are you doing this now?"
"Now I want revenge." She looked up from her hands. Her eyes were glassy, but full of emotions. "I want to take them down because I want revenge. I want them to pay for what they did to my father. I want them destroyed."
After a few minutes of silence Max sighed and got up. "I believe you." Sian looked at her. "And who knows, maybe someday I will even trust you."
"Believe is enough for now." Sian got up too and shook Max's offered hand. They smiled at each other and Sian had a weird feeling in her stomach that said, someday, they'd develop an interesting kind of friendship.
"Well come on kid." Max gestured at the door. "We've got a lot to do."
Sian scoffed as she followed her. "I'm not a kid." And Max grinned.
They had some scientists' butts to kick.