Story Copyright Rachel Baker 99. All characters Copyright Disney, and used without permission.

The Turning

By Jadestar

Duke L'Orange strolled up the main street of DuCaine Metropolis, hands in pockets. He was unrecognised by his fellow shoppers, and though he was pleased with that in some ways, it hurt in others.

"Funny way they have of showing gratitude." he muttered, as his stomach growled. He mournfully wiggled his fingers in his empty pockets, wishing for a bit of money.

He kept walking, trying not to smell the delicious aromas. His weekly allowance was long gone, pittance that it was, and there was to be no more food for another two days.

It's not really fair. Duke commiserated to himself, frowning as he watched ducks buying clothes, looking at displays, and tossing coins to buskers. Without my help, they could all be in the mines or dead. He grunted with annoyance as he saw the busker get enough money to buy himself lunch. Maybe I ought to try busking. He chuckled dryly to himself as he imagined his billing. Get your pocket picked, get your wallet stolen. Is it slight of hand or is it daylight robbery? He grinned a crooked grin as he spied a full-looking wallet poking out the back of a duck's jeans pocket. Now that one'd be easy_

No! he quickly berated himself. Don't go there. It's wrong. I decided it was over, remember?

Oh_ He gazed pitifully after Full-Wallet as he made his way down the path.

He slunk into a small alley between two buildings and sat on the ground. I coulda just taken enough cash to keep me going until hand-out day. Posted the cards an' that back. And if there was no address, coulda given it to Mal at the cop shop_

He screwed up his beak at that thought. The law still annoyed Duke, no matter what side he was on, and the fact that Mallory was now in the even more detested part, he'd dropped contact with her. Come to think of it, I've lost communication wit' all of `em.

Well, if he needed to talk with them, he still had their last address. If they'd moved, he could still track them down. He had the time.

That was another sticky point. The fact that he was the only one `working for the government' in the sense that he mooched, and they gave him a hundred a week. Tanya had un-surprisingly made it big in the mechanics industry, Grin was off running some mediation camp somewhere (Duke didn't particularly care exactly where), Nosedive was finishing university with flying colours and Wildwing was a teacher or something as degrading. Duke had heard he enjoyed it though.

Duke's stomach growled again, and Duke fought an insane urge to punch it. He stood up and kept walking.

***

He walked for hours, and where ever he looked, he saw something to steal. It infuriated him. How did they expect him to keep straight if they kept trying to tempt him?!

He was walking past an outlet of the World Bank when he saw them carrying money casually inside, happily aware of the fact that crime was lower than before the Invasion.

"Stuff this," Duke muttered, as he spun on his heels and stalked back to his rented apartment. "Tonight's the night that I hit it big again."

***

Duke felt for his saber, and smiled. He hadn't worn it for too long. He stroked it lovingly, and activated it. He cut through the air, listening to the swish. He spun it round and round, faster and faster, getting back the state of oneness. When he was satisfied that neither his body or his saber was going to let him down, he walked out into the night.

***

The drake flitted in and out of the shadows like a sparrow, visible for only split seconds at a time. He melted effortlessly into the darkness, and, breaking the lock on the door, entered. With a flick of his saber he killed the security system and strode to the safe. This was the best part. Explosives or perhaps a quieter approach? He could do both.

It had been a long time, and Duke decided to return with a bang. Slapping a few sticks of gelignite to the safe, he stood back.

"Hey, I've been on the wrong side of the law. And if we don't fight evil where ever we find it, we're no better than Dragaunus."

"If I didn't know better, I'd say someone just blew the vault in that bank."

"And I suppose you want us to stop them."

Echoes of what was said in the past whistled through his brain, and he faltered. The safe blew up. He could see what was inside, but he couldn't move.

I could leave now. Pretend I never tried to do this.

What? And keep on living in a dump, with no future? This is the only way out! Don't pretend you don't enjoy it either.

It's wrong.

A lot of things are wrong.

I don't want to be wrong.

This is you. This is what you do. It's what you've always done.

He stood staring at the safe. The door hung wearily on one hinge.

"Oh, Duke." A voice full of disappointment came from somewhere behind him. It unfroze him, and he twirled around. Mallory stood there, holding a gun in both hands. On seeing who was there, she'd lowered the gun's aim in slight confusion.

"Mal_" I gotta run. Look at her uniform.

"I trusted you! You said you'd gone straight!" She raised the guns aim, and Duke slowly raised his hands.

"I haven't actually stolen anything yet." he pointed out.

"I can charge you for intent and damage to private property." she hissed.

"I was about to leave. I changed my mind."

She strode over, keeping the gun trained in him. "You have the right to remain silent_"

"Do you have any idea what I'm living on? They don't give me enough to keep me fed for a whole week!"

She slipped the handcuffs around his wrists, and she locked them tight. He winced.

"Mal, that's a little tight_"

"That's so they stay on." She dealt him a scathing glance, and started pushing him out the door.

I can't believe I just stood there. She's not that good a shot_Not worth prison anyway. Duke berated himself as she forced him into the back seat of the squad car.

***

"Name?" the officer on jail duty asked.

"Duke L'Orange." There was no point in lying, Mallory was right next to him.

"You'll be here for awhile then." the officer smirked. He turned to Mallory. "Charges?"

"Breaking and entering, damaging private property and intent to steal." she said coldly. He tossed her a set of keys, and she caught them with one hand, pushing Duke down a corridor with the other.

***

She opened the heavy door, and shoved Duke into the room. He glanced around, and looked at Mallory with questioning eyes. He knew he could break out of here in a second, and she knew it too.

"I don't ever want to see you again. Ever. If we meet once more like this, you don't get put in the window cell." she growled, slammed and locked the door.

"Good-bye Mallory." he called after her. She raised a hand in farewell, but kept walking. Suddenly she turned around and rushed back.

"We're planning a little get together. Meet Dive out the front of the university tomorrow at twelve." She looked at him with a little spark of pity. "Maybe we can help you."

"So we will see each other again." he smirked. She shrugged.

"I wouldn't care either way, but that was mostly for his," she jerked a thumb behind her shoulder at the front desk. "Benefit. Stay out of trouble till then." She left abruptly.

He grinned slightly, and started on his escape.


The End
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