“The way that you walk, it’s just the way that you talk like it ain’t no thing, and every single day is just a fling, then the morning comes” The alarm turned on, blaring out the music into the dark and quiet room. The clock’s red numbering read 6:45 a.m., half hidden by an open book laying carelessly upon the nightstand. From the bed adjacent to it, a hand reached out from underneath the blankets, hit the “sleep” button to cease the loud racket of music, than returned underneath the covers.
It was an early Saturday morning in Anaheim, California, and the sun glistened the wet ground outside. The rain, which had pounded Southern California for most of the week, had finally lifted. Now only the crisp, cool air and soggy roads remained from the storm.
The blinds in the room tried fiercely to hide the bright sun, but the light tenaciously slipped through the crevices and right onto the bed. The figure only pulled the covers up higher. It was a weekend, and Wildwing planned to sleep in. He even wondered why he set his alarm last night at all.
Then he remembered. Today was a very heart-rending day. This was Kelly’s day.
Quickly, he got up, took a shower, and left the Pond before anyone even stirred in their sleep.
Wildwing walked down the bustling streets of Anaheim with his hands in his jacket. He watched the people pass by, some talking with friends on the corners, others eating in restaurants, and most just trying to make their way to their destinations. Only a few glanced up at the 6’1 male duck.
Apparently, they’re used to seeing alien ducks walking on their streets. Wildwing thought to himself, sidestepping a businessman too busy on his cell phone to see where he was going. It had been a little over a year and a half since he and his five fellow teammates came to Earth. Just four weeks before, they had sent Dragaunas and his henchmen to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Whether or not the four still lived down there was a good question. They hadn’t had any trouble since then, but, figuring he and the rest of his team wrecked their ship pretty badly, it would take anyone a couple months to get everything back up and running.
Unfortunately, taking Dragaunas’ raptor down also destroyed the ducks’ only way back to their home planet, Puckworld. When Dragaunas opened a dimensional gateway to bring in reinforcements, the ducks’ only way of stopping him was to destroy the generator. They did, and Wildwing was still pondering whether or not it was the right choice.
He had made the final decision. He had promised Canard, and he refused to let his happiness and future get in the way of his pledge and revenge. He saved Earth from total takeover, and he had hampered, if not destroyed, Dragaunas’ plans of conquest. But in saving Earth, did he obliterate his friends’ hopes of returning home?
Sure, they all agreed that it was the best choice. They pretended everything was all right, and continued on with their lives. But the Pond, despite the ducks’ tries, had developed a dark fog over itself. Everyone acted slightly sadder and less enthusiastic about life. And, this change in atmosphere, Wildwing knew, was because of him.
His thoughts were interrupted when he reached a street corner. Along with twenty other people, he waited until the red blinking hand turned into a white silhouette. In one fluid motion, the traffic of people made there way over to the other side of the sidewalk. He, instead of following the flow, stepped into a store nearby. Above the door read the name “Bouquet City.”
Fifteen minutes later, Wildwing stepped out of the store, a bouquet of flowers in hand. With these, he entered the crowd and made his way to Fifth Ave.
“Mornin’,” Nosedive called out as he entered the chattering kitchen yawning.
“Morning, Dive.” Five voices called back to him, successively, than resumed their talking.
Nosedive grabbed a box of Froot Loops ® from the cupboards, pulled himself a bowl, and sat down at the table. He took a couple bites before looking up at the others, who were still discussing, debating, and laughing. Nosedive tried to listen to one of the conversations, but there were too many blended together to figure out who was talking to who and to join in on any subjects. So, instead, he ignored them. Just as he stood up to place his bowl in the dishwasher, he realized something.
“Hey, where’s Wing?”
The rest of the ducks stopped their chat and looked around the kitchen.
“Is he still sleeping?” Duke asked.
“Hmm, must be. It says here his com’s still in his bedroom. And, knowing Wildwing, he wouldn’t leave home without it.” Calista suggested, look at her own com.
“But it’s 9 o’clock and we have practice in half an hour.” Nosedive insisted, crossing his arms.
“Well, maybe he went to bed late.” Mallory offered.
“I don’t know…” Nosedive let the last word trail as he exited the kitchen and headed toward his brother’s room. He knew something odd was going on, and it had to do about today. But he couldn’t put his finger on it.
The rest of the team slowly but surely resumed their discussions while they finished breakfast.
Wildwing finally reached Fifth Ave. He turned right on it and entered the Anaheim Park. He walked for about a block on the sidewalk before curving onto the grass. He walked up the hill, already feeling the ground hardening from the sharp rays of the sun. Once he reached the top, he found a secluded tree far off from picnickers, joggers, and children. There he sat down with his back against the tree, looking at the bouquet of flowers in his hands. He appeared to be concentrating on them, but, in truth, he was staring passed them, far off from the grasps of reality.
Wildwing thought about his failures in life. He looked far back before coming to Earth, before the invasion of Puckworld, and even before his 1st birthday. He closed his eyes and let pictures of faces pass through his head. He saw his brother, his parents, his old friends, Canard, and his teammates. His lids remained shut, but he scrunched them somewhat when faces of the Invasion arose. He saw faithless faces, dirty with soot from working in the mines and empty of life. He saw children’s glistening eyes as they saw their parents taken away and beaten. Everything he saw hurt him more. He lost so many friends and family, and every time he could do nothing to prevent it.
Wildwing Allen Flashblade was born June 5, 2013 on the outskirts of DuCaine Metropolis. He lived in a suburban area, and he and his brother led good lives. Their parents treated them well, and both brothers knew that their parents loved them very much. Wildwing remembered when he first met Canard when he was three years old. They were next-door neighbors, and remained that way through high school.
Wildwing felt that was his first failure. As a sophomore, he was rather careless and rebellious. His brother, as always, wanted to be just like him. He tagged along with Wildwing, Canard, and their friends wherever they went and he always tried to act just like them. This pestered Canard and he had told Wildwing to get his brother to find someone else to hang out with. Nosedive was too young to be going out with them and he didn’t want to have an annoying, loudmouth kid following them around like a pet. Wildwing had agreed, and made Nosedive stay home when he, Canard, and some others went to the movies. After about an hour of arguing, yelling, and whining, Wildwing was able to get out of the house brother-free.
When the group of friends waited outside the movie theater for their tickets, Wildwing just happened to turn around to see Nosedive on the other side of the street. Nosedive began to cross the street, and Wildwing frantically called out to him. Nosedive was only seven at the time and was too young to understand the parallels of crossing a busy intersection. When Nosedive heard Wildwing’s call, he lost his concentration on the cars and came running towards Wildwing. About seven feet in front of Wildwing, a car hit Nosedive.
Wildwing grimaced at the memory. Luckily for Nosedive, the car had already begun to brake, leaving Nosedive with only a broken leg and bruised rib. But Wildwing never forgave himself. He knew Nosedive would have never obeyed him, and yet he risked the chance and left him at home while he went out to have fun. Wildwing knew he didn’t control Nosedive’s behavior, but he still blamed himself for the incident.
Wildwing opened up his eyes and looked up at the sky. Clouds still covered parts of it, but they were quickly fading away. Wildwing looked back down at his surroundings. People far off in the distance were flying kites, barbecuing, jogging, and overall, enjoying life. Wildwing sighed and looked at his watch.
Wildwing looked back at the bouquet and reabsorbed himself in his thoughts.
Wildwing thought of several more failures. He was captured by Dragaunas, leaving the Strike Force with no choice but to change their plans to save him. Than he remembered watching Canard destroy his life so that the others may live. It should’ve been me, Wildwing thought grimly. Canard would have been a much better leader.
Wildwing also let his team down on Earth several times. He fell for the trap Dragaunas set where Chameleon disguised himself as Canard, he let down his team by quitting, and his reckless mistakes forced his teammates to risk their lives more than once.
But that wasn’t what was bothering Wildwing right now. Today would be the two-year anniversary of his biggest failure: His failure to protect a little girl named Kelly.
Wildwing bent his head down low and closed his eyes tightly.
“Score!” Mallory cried out, lifting her arms in the air and skating in a circle.
“Uh, Mal?” Duke called out from the other side of the hockey rink.
“There’s no goalie!”
“Yeah, but I still got it past your slow butt!” She smiled and went to grab the puck from within the goalie net.
“It’s not like Wing to leave the Pond without his com and skip practice.” Nosedive called out, skating into position as another play began.
Mallory handed the puck to Duke, who waited until everyone was in position. Today Duke, Calista, and Nosedive were against Mallory, Tanya, and Grin. Since Wildwing wasn’t there to lead them in their usual routine, they decided to play a friendly game of scrimmage. Calista faced Tanya, Duke faced Mallory, and Grin faced Nosedive.
“Dive, don’t worry ‘bout ya bro. I’m sures he just wanted some time ta himself. And he probably didn’a leave his com on purpose. Now, are ya gonna play or worry?” Duke stated tossing the puck in one of his hands.
Dive smiled and bent down into position. “Play!”
Duke threw the puck up in the air. Once it hit the ground, both Mallory and him fought to gain control. Duke got it this time. He skated passed her and passed to Calista. Calista maneuvered around Tanya, and shot the puck to Nosedive. He was about to pass to Duke when Tanya intercepted. She passed to Grin who, by now, had rounded the hockey net and was heading back the other direction. Just as he was about to shoot, Nosedive intercepted. In one fluid motion, he was able to pass Mallory and Tanya. He continued to skate with the puck until he neared the net. With a WHACK, the puck zipped through the air straight into the net. The buzzer sounded.
“Whoo-hoo!” Nosedive did his popular “I’m better than you” dance.
Duke came up and patted him on the back. “Nice work, kid.”
Nosedive smiled and was about to get the puck when a much louder buzzer sounded. “Practice is over already?”
Tanya looked at her watch. “Uh…yep.”
The six filed off the ice and began to change back into their normal clothes.
When everyone left back down to the Pond, Nosedive exited through the rink and went to go look for Wildwing.
It was noon by now, and Nosedive had searched all over the Anaheim mall. The only other place he thought his brother might be was the park. So, after a small talk with Mookie and Thrash, he headed out.
When he reached there, he found his brother kneeling by a tree. As he neared, he noticed that he was planting a bouquet of flowers. Nosedive than knew what was going on. He walked up to Wildwing and knelt down beside him.
“Hey.” Nosedive said, watching Wildwing place the last handful of dirt on the flowers’ roots.
Wildwing looked up at his brother, smiled, and stood up, wiping his hands. “Hey, little bro. What’s up?”
Nosedive looked at him seriously. “This is about Kelly, isn’t it?”
Wildwing looked back down at the flowers, picked up the tissues they were wrapped in, and tossed the paper into the nearby trashcan. “Today’s the two-year anniversary.”
“Yeah, I kinda figured that out after I saw you planting flowers. Bro, why do you do this to yourself?”
“Because I owe her that much, Dive. I promised her mother I would protect her. Instead, I let her die. I broke my promise and it cost Kelly’s life.”
Nosedive looked at Wildwing, who had begun the walk back to the Pond. “You’re blaming yourself for something that the Saurians did. It’s not your fault, Wing.” He began to walk next to his brother.
“Yeah, it is.” Wildwing looked down at the sidewalk, letting the flashback take over.
A slightly younger Wildwing was thrown into a cell, his brother Nosedive soon after. The cold temperatures forced the two to huddle together for warmth. Hour by hour passed, and they watched in horror as more and more Puckworldians were dragged and thrown into different cells. Suddenly, there cell door opened. Frightened, the two brothers pushed their backs against the wall. A woman was thrown into the cell, followed by a small girl, no older than six years old.
“Are you two all right?” Wildwing ran next to the woman and child, helping them up.
“Yes, thank you.” The woman bent down and picked up her child. She slightly smiled, but it was hard to tell by the dirt covering her face. “Who are you?” Her voice was soft, but cautious.
“I’m Wildwing Flashblade, and,” Wildwing pointed to the short blonde hair duck a couple feet away from him, “this is my younger brother, Nosedive.” Wildwing looked back at the female. She was slightly shorter than Nosedive and very petite. She had brownish-red feathers, partly covered by dirt and blood. Her eyes were large and yellow, and her hair was black and shoulder length. The small girl she was holding had big blue eyes, black hair that was held up in a ponytail, and white feathers. She was wearing a ripped pink dress and was covered in filth. In her hand she held a small teddy bear, old and worn out by both age and dirt. By the looks of the grip she had on the stuffed animal, she wasn’t going to let go anytime soon.
“What’s your name?” Wildwing asked, smiling at the little girl. She giggled, blushed, and placed her head behind the lady’s shoulders.
“I’m Angel Cane, and this here’s my daughter, Kelly.” She smiled at the face hidden behind her shoulder and picked up the little girl’s hand. “Say hi, Kelly.”
The girl promptly lifted up her head and her eyes twinkled. “Hi!” She suddenly seemed to have lost her shyness. She quickly got down from her mother’s arms and walked over to Nosedive. “Hi!” She said again.
Nosedive smiled and rubbed her head. “Hey there. That’s a nice teddy bear you got there.”
Kelly smiled even more and lifted him up to Nosedive’s face with both hands. “It was a present from my daddy.” She brought her prize next to her chest and hugged it tightly while she skipped around the cell, totally oblivious to her surroundings.
Angel smiled at her and sat down with her back against the wall. Wildwing sat down next to her, and Nosedive played with Kelly. They watched as he lifted her up and pretended she was in a plane. Kelly, in return, squealed with delight, but always made sure never to let go of her teddy bear.
Wildwing noticed this. “Angel, if you don’t mind my asking, where is Kelly’s father?”
Angel smiled, but did not make eye contact. “With Drake, I suppose.”
Wildwing instantly regretted bringing up the subject. “I’m sorry—”
Angel immediately dismissed it. “Nonsense. Might as well create some conversation if we’re going to be here a while.” She smiled again when Kelly squealed as Nosedive lifted her higher in the air. “He gave her that bear before he left for Iamber. When he died in the plane crash…” Angel took a deep breath. “…Caused by a gang raid, Kelly never left sight of that bear. When we were caught from the Saurians, she wouldn’t even put the animal down.” Angel sighed again and looked out the cell, wincing a little.
Wildwing noticed the blood on her arm. “Are you hurt?”
Angel looked to where he was looking and forced herself to laugh. “Yeah, I guess I am. When the Saurians hit, Kelly and me were walking down the street. A laser hit the building next to us, causing some boulders to rain on us. Luckily, all we got was a lot of dirt,” she looked at the scratch on her arm, “and this.”
Wildwing smiled and turned his head back to Nosedive and Kelly.
“How’d you end up here?” Angel asked after a minute of watching.
Wildwing noticeably winced at the question. “Luckily, my parents, brother, and I were at home when the invasion hit. We got out of the house as fast as we could and followed the rest of the evacuating citizens. But it was no use. They had already blocked off all of the exits. Group by group they separated us.” Wildwing took a deep breath.
“Were you separated from your parents?” Angel’s voice was sincere.
Wildwing shook his head and choked back his tears. “Nah. They came with us.”
Nosedive overheard what Wildwing and Angel were talking about and deliberately played with Kelly “louder” so that the little girl wouldn’t hear. It also helped him to ignore what they were talking about. Nosedive didn’t want to the scene to replay in his head.
“Our group was taken to this temporary prison…” Wildwing looked around at the Saurians’ fortress, one of thousands that were planted all around Puckworld holding prisoners just like them. “Here, they lined us up in a long line and placed us into two groups. My brother and me were separated in one group and my parents in the other. They shackled our wrists and sent us marching here.” Wildwing looked up at the cell they were in. “But…” Wildwing took a deep breath and wiped a couple tears from his eyes. “…Before we had made it out of sight, the other group…the ones my parents were in…was shot on sight.” Wildwing brought his knees up to his chest and rested his head between them.
Angel patted his back in a friendly manner. “I’m so sorry…I’m sure they’re with Drake now…away from all the pain and suffering.”
Wildwing lifted his head back up, and wiped his eyes. “Yeah…” His voice was barely above a whisper and hoarse at the sound.
Nosedive looked over at his brother, and put Kelly back down on the ground. “Do you think we could take a break, Kelly? You’re heavy.” He smiled playfully and rubbed her head.
She giggled. “Okay.” She hopped over to her mother and sat on her lap.
Nosedive sat down next to Wildwing. “You okay?” Nosedive wasn’t sure if he was asking Wildwing or himself by the way his voice sounded.
Wildwing looked at his brother and rested a hand on his shoulder. “Shouldn’t that be me asking you?”
“Well, I kind of asked for both of us.” Nosedive forced out a smile and laid back against the cold, blood red medal wall.
They four remained silent for the rest of the night.
Five weeks later
Angel whimpered in pain as she was carelessly tossed into the cell. She sat up just in time to catch her daughter. The cell shut roughly in front of them and they were left alone in the dark cell.
Kelly was crying. Angel scooped her up in her arms, and with all her strength, walked to the far corner of the wall. There were two blankets there, and she used one to cover Kelly. She held her tightly, rocking her child back and forth until the cry turned into a whine and then into even breathing. Kelly was asleep. Angel laid the girl down so her head rested in Angel’s lap.
Nosedive and Wildwing were still gone. Their group had to work the mines, meaning they would be the latest ones back. Everyone hated the mines. They were dangerous because there was no safety precautions, no gas masks to use from the toxic air, and hazardously cramped. Hundreds of ducks died in the mines each day as they mined belirium for the Saurians. Angel prayed that Wildwing and Nosedive would return safely.
She and her daughter had returned from working in the factory. There they made weapons, food, and other accessories for the Saurians. Although it wasn’t as awful as the mines, the air was stale, the fumes were deathly, and the machines were dangerous. Just like in the mines, many ducks died each day from machine accidents, especially small children. Angel looked down at the sleeping child.
Kelly was covered in filth from beak to toe, and numerous bruises and scars were on her body from near misses with the machines. Angel shuddered at the thought. She tenderly rubbed Kelly’s forehead, removing her messy hair out of her face. A cold wind moved by Angel, and she shivered.
Angel felt her forehead and realized she was burning up. Her feathers were oily, and her hair was dripping in sweat. She coughed when another breeze blew by. “Oh, great…” Angel whispered to herself as she nestled against her daughter and fell asleep.
“Angel? Angel, wake up!” Wildwing nudged her, trying to wake her up. In five minutes, the Saurians would come to pick up the ducks that were to be taken to the mines.
Angel slowly opened her eyes. “Oh…alright…” She slowly heaved herself up with Wildwing’s help. Wildwing got a good look at her. Deep black circles were under Angel’s eyes, her hair was completely wet with sweat, and her feathers were oily.
“Angel, are you okay?” Wildwing asked her, feeling her forehead. She’s burning up.
“Yeah, fine.” Angel shrugged him off and stood up shakily. She almost fell, but Wildwing helped her the rest of the way.
“You sure? You know what? Why don’t I take your place at the mines today, and you can go with Kelly to the factory. Me and Nosedive can take another day, right Dive?” Wildwing looked over pleadingly at Nosedive.
Nosedive looked at Angel and agreed. “Yeah, it wasn’t that bad. No problema.” He made an A-OK symbol with his fingers as he went to wake up Kelly.
“Nonsense…” Angel shrugged off Wildwing and began to walk to Kelly. Suddenly, her legs gave way and she kneeled on the floor. She coughed up blood before completely collapsing.
“Angel!” Wildwing ran over to her and propped her head up in his lap.
Angel stared right through him. “My daughter…”
“Nosedive!” Wildwing called to Nosedive who had just waken up Kelly. Kelly saw her mom on the floor and came running to her.
“Mommy? Are you okay?” Kelly had dropped her teddy bear and was wiping the sweat beads off of Angel’s forehead.
Angel lifted her hand and cupped her daughter’s cheek. She than looked at Wildwing. “Take…care of my daughter. Protect her for…me.” Her sentences were choked with her breathing.
Wildwing nodded his head, tears streaming down his cheeks.
Angel looked back at Kelly and smiled. “I love…you. You…know I…do.” She rubbed Kelly’s cheek and the child grabbed the hand with both of her own.
“Mommy, where are you going?” Kelly had tears flowing down her cheeks and her voice was gripped with emotion.
“I’m…going to be…with…daddy. We’ll always…be with…you…okay?” Angel’s voice was choking more with every word as her breath got shorter.
The child nodded her head, still rubbing the mother’s numb hand against her cheek. “I love you mommy.”
The mother smiled, and her eyes closed.
Angel was gone.
The Saurian came up to the cell and opened it. “Alright, ducks going to the mines gets your butts out here now!”
The Saurian looked in and saw the female duck lying on the cold cement with her head in a male’s lap and a small child next to her. “Body pick up, cell B46!” He called over his shoulder.
Within a minute, two Saurians came into the cell. Without any respect, they heaved the dead female duck from off the ground by the feet.
“Mommy!” The little girl fiercely tried to grab at her mother’s hand, but Wildwing held her back.
The two Saurians took the female duck out of the cell and walked out of sight.
“Mommy!” Kelly screamed as loud as her heart could bear. Her screams turned into cries as she clung to a still-kneeling Wildwing. “Mommy…”
Nosedive came over to Kelly and knelt next to her. She looked at him and what he was holding out to her. It was her bear. She took it gratefully, gave Nosedive a hug, and followed the Saurian out to the mines. Wildwing began to follow, but the Saurian stopped him as he shut the cell door.
“Factory workers start at 5 a.m.”
With that, he left with Kelly and the others.
And that was the last time Wildwing or Nosedive ever saw Kelly.
“They said she died from a machine accident.” Wildwing stated, his eyes glistening from the memories. He and Nosedive were about a block from the Pond.
“Wing, It wasn’t your fault! He wouldn’t let you go with her.” Nosedive persisted.
“Dive, was that protecting her? I wasn’t even there when she died! She was only five. She didn’t deserve to die that way. She didn’t deserve to die at all. She had a life, a future…” Wildwing shook his head and wiped his eyes as they neared the rink.
Nosedive sighed. “Don’t you get it? You protected both Angel and Kelly. You gave them your blanket, extra food, allowed them to take your factory days so that they could have it just a little bit easier. This whole time you said you never protected her, and all this time you had protected both of them.”
Wildwing looked at Nosedive as they entered the rink, but didn’t say anything more. The two remained silent as they entered the Pond.
“Hey, guys. What’s up?” Mallory called out to both of them as they entered the Pond.
“Nothing much. How was practice?”
“What? Nosedive didn’t tell you that he whooped our butts?”
“Well, that’s good, ‘cause he didn’t.”
“Wait just a min—” Nosedive began.
Mallory had already left the room. Wildwing was giving Nosedive a funny look. “Do I even want to know?”
Nosedive shrugged his shoulders helplessly. “Beats me.”
Nosedive left to watch some TV while Wildwing went to the kitchen.
As Wildwing entered the kitchen, Grin walked out.
“Whoa, hey there, Grin.”
“Welcome home, leader.”
Wildwing eyed him weirdly, than continued to his destination. Calista and Duke were in the kitchen. “Hello.” Wildwing said, grabbing the coffee pot and filling it with hot water.
He waited a second for a reply, and when he didn’t get one, looked over at the two.
“Hello?” Wildwing walked over to them and realized they were playing a game of chess. “Never mind…”
Just as Wildwing finished making his coffee, the Drake 1 sounded. Startling both Duke and Calista, the chessboard flew up in the air, pieces flying. A pawn landed in Wildwing’s cup.
“Oh, just what I needed…” Wildwing put down his cup and followed Calista and Duke into the Ready Room.
Tanya furiously typed on the Drake 1, occasionally glancing up. The screen showed that there was a burglary in progress at the First National Bank.
“Is it Dragaunas?” Calista asked pulling out her saber and checking its sharpness.
Tanya remained silent as she typed a few more keys. A green line ran down the screen, signalling that Tanya turned on the Saurian radar system. It moved up and down the screen once before completely disappearing. “Nope. Uh…it says that it’s just a burg…burglary.”
Wildwing took a step closer to the screen. “Have police already arrived at the scene?”
Tanya turned in her chair so that she faced him. “Yep…but…uh, it’s not just…a…burglary.”
Wildwing cocked his head. “What do you mean?”
Tanya twirled her chair back to the Drake 1 and typed in a few keys while she talked. “Uhm…police channels I’ve…picked up from the, uh, satellite, says that it’s, uh, a hostage situation.”
Wildwing walked out of the room, grabbed his com that still rested on his nightstand, and pressed a few buttons. Suddenly, all the members of the Mighty Ducks were in battle gear.
He appeared a few minutes later in the Ready Room. “Let’s move, team!”
The seven ducks made it to the First National Bank in less than fifteen minutes. When they appeared out of the Migrator, Klegghorn came up to them. But, instead of harassing them to leave the crime scene, he took a different approach.
“Can any of you negotiate?” He asked, holding a walkie-talkie that buzzed with static.
“What’s the situation?” Wildwing asked.
“Some lunatic, around 12:30, came in with a gun. He saw one of the clerks hit the silent alarm and shot her on sight. We’re not sure whether or not she’s still alive. Most of the people we were able to evacuate from the building. Unfortunately, he’s got a little girl being held hostage. She’s supposedly the daughter of the woman who was shot. He’s asking us to let him go free with the money, or else….” Klegghorn sighed and began to talk to an officer through the talkie.
Wildwing looked back up at the bank, than back at his team. They looked at him worriedly, already knowing what he was debating inside his head. He turned back around towards Klegghorn and tapped him on the shoulder. Klegghorn stopped talking into his talkie and looked up at Wildwing impatiently.
“Why are you asking one of us to do it?” Wildwing asked. “Why not a real negotiator?”
Klegghorn sighed. “The nearest negotiator is in Hawaii right now. If we asked anyone else, it would take more than a couple hours to get them here and ready. This guy,” Klegghorn jutted his thumb towards the bank, “is giving us two hours.”
Wildwing looked up at the bank and saw Kelly flicker through his eyes. He shook his head, than turned towards the rest of his team. “I’m going.”
Everyone began to protest at once.
“You can’t do this!”
“You’re not a negotiator…”
“This guy’s a lunatic…”
“You’re going to get killed!”
“Let him choose his own path.”
Everyone stopped, and looked to see Nosedive speaking.
“Let him choose his own path.” Nosedive repeated.
Wildwing was even surprised. He figured, if anyone, Grin would have said something like that. “Nosedive?”
Nosedive walked up to his brother and hugged him. “Maybe this will prove to you that your are truly a great leader…and protector.” Wildwing hugged him back, than looked back at the rest of his team. Everyone was quiet.
“I’m coming with you.” Tanya spoke up, startling everyone.
Wildwing quickly started to protest. “Tanya, I don’t think—”
Tanya held up her hand. “If that woman he shot is still alive, she’ll need medical attention. Let me go with you. Maybe we can save both their lives.” All her stuttering had vanished, leaving only sincerity and stubbornness in its place.
Wildwing nodded his head. He turned towards Klegghorn. “Me and Tanya will go.”
Klegghorn smiled. “Alright than.” He turned around and cupped his hands over his mouth. “Get these guys ready!” He called to two officers nearby. Quickly they ran to a van, pulled out two bulletproof vests, came over, and helped the two ducks put them on.
After Klegghorn explained to Wildwing and Tanya where the snipers were located, what priorities they needed to put first, and placing a hidden phone in Tanya’s hair that would act as an ear for them, he grabbed a megaphone. “We have a negotiator and a paramedic! They are being let in as I speak. Please, I repeat, please, stay calm as we lead them to the front door.” With that he nodded his head to Wildwing and Tanya. Together, the two ducks made their way inside.
Wildwing slowly peered into the bank. Everything was dark. The only light came from the door he was standing behind, and it only illuminated a couple feet inside. Taking a deep breath, Wildwing opened the door completely and walked in, Tanya right behind him. Wildwing waited a minute for his eyes to adjust to the black that blanketed the vicinity. Once they did, he could make out slim silhouettes of desks and chairs. But no people.
“Where are they?” Wildwing whispered to Tanya.
Using the ducks’ radar remote, Tanya flipped a switch. The small screen on the device lighted up and a blueprint of the bank appeared. After another couple seconds, white dots began to appear inside the building imprinted on the screen. Two dots were close together near the entrance, one was on the east wall of the first floor, and two others were on the second floor. “The man and the child are upstairs. But the woman, she’s…” Tanya let her sentence trail off as she used the radar to guide her through the dark room.
“She’s where?” Wildwing asked, beginning to follow Tanya who was quickening her pace.
“Here! Wildwing, help me turn her over.” Tanya bent down next to the woman. Wildwing opened up the blinds on a nearby window, shining light onto the three. The sight was not pretty.
The woman had her face to the floor and was on her side. A trail of blood stained the carpet beneath her stomach, and continued to grow each minute. Tanya and Wildwing carefully turned the woman over so she was on her back. Tanya placed the radar remote and the first aid box she’d been carrying next to her. She than checked the woman’s pulse.
“She’s still alive…barely.” Tanya opened up the first aid box and took out a towel. She used it to apply pressure to the apparent bullet wound on the right side of the woman’s stomach. “We need to get her out of here, Wing.”
“Alright.” Wildwing gingerly lifted the woman of the ground, Tanya still applying pressure to the wound to stop the blood from flowing freely. The two walked as fast as they could and stepped out of the bank. They were immediately greeted by paramedics who took the woman out of Wildwing’s arms and placed her on the stretcher. In the bright sunlight, Wildwing could see the woman’s face. She was no more than 30 from the looks, and had short, curly brown hair. He watched as Tanya ran with the paramedics to the ambulance.
“Wildwing?” Wildwing turned around and saw the rest of his team staring at him. Duke was the one who spoke.
Wildwing looked back at the ambulance pulling out of the bank’s parking lot, than back at his team. “That little girl still needs help.” With that, he walked back toward the building, feeling his teams’ stares on his back the entire way. He didn’t want to go alone, but too many people could scare the terrorist and make him do something irrational. Wildwing shivered at the thought as he pushed open the door.
Back inside, he could still see the window on the east wall revealing that side of the room. He walked back over and picked up the radar remote left by the box of first aid. Flipping the switch, he could tell that the two figures up on the second story hadn’t moved. Hesitating slightly, he made his way to the stairs on the far back wall.
Once he neared the top, Wildwing could here faint sounds. They were small, but he couldn’t make out any words. Just as he made it to the top, he could tell it wasn’t someone talking. Someone’s crying. Wildwing looked around the darkroom. To his left everything was obscured by black. However, to his right, far off toward the back of the room, he could see the blinds from a window part open. As he took a step closer, he could tell it was the terrorist looking out the window. Taking in a deep breath, Wildwing spoke.
“Hello?” Wildwing watched as the terrorist jerked around and aim a gun straight at him. In return, Wildwing placed his hands in the air.
“Are you the negotiator?” The terrorist’s voice was low and hoarse.
“Where’s the other one? There was supposed t’be a doc.” The man interrupted Wildwing, walking closer to him. “What da hell? Yer a freakin’ duck! One a d’ose hockey-playin’ ones!” He cocked his gun and placed it under Wildwing’s neck. “What kinda prank are d’ose cops tryin’ ta pull? I want a real negotiator!”
Wildwing swallowed hard. He could tell the adrenaline was pumping through both him and the man. “The ‘doc’ took the woman you shot out of the building. I’m here because there are no negotiators that could make it in less than two hours.”
“So ya think that yer a good replacement? What ya gonna do? Talk me down wit’ hockey strategies?”
Wildwing ignored the last comment. Instead, he brought up another subject. “Why do you want to be talked down?”
The man stared at Wildwing a minute. “’Cause I don’t know what da ‘ell I’m doin.” He continued to look at Wildwing before laughing. Wildwing smiled slightly to amuse the terrorist. But, at the moment, he didn’t feel like laughing. Just as quickly as it came, the man ended his laughing abruptly and stared back at Wildwing. “I don’t sappose ‘dose copies down d’ere told ya my background, did they?”
“I’m sorry. Refresh my memory.” Wildwing knew Klegghorn had rushed them. If this man had a mental disorder the cops failed to mention, the situation could worsen…if that was even possible.
“Locked away for 15 years. For what, ya ask? For takin’ too many pills, dat’s why! I had a good life. Graduated wit’ a scholarship and got a career as a stockbroker. Married at 22 wit’ a pretty little thing. She became my new life. We had beautiful little boy. Then, one day, God took ‘er from me. Just like ‘dat. Some crazy drunk driver smacked into ‘er on ‘er way home from work.” Tears began to develop in the man’s hysterical eyes. “Ta take away the pain, I took a couple pills. Musta took one too many ‘cause next thing ya know I wake up in a loony house.”
“What happened to your son?” Wildwing asked, still uncomfortable with a gun wavering slightly underneath his beak.
“What happened ta him? D’ey took ‘im away! Away ta some foster family in Brazil who t’ink they’re a betta family d’an me!” The man yelled. He took a deep breath and calmed slightly. “I tried ta escape too many times ta count, but every time d’ey brought me back ta da ‘ell hole. I was stuck fer 15 years with nuts. D’ey didn’a understand d’at I made a mistake. ‘nd d’ey wouldn’t give me second chance.” The man sighed.
Wildwing didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t tell whether the man was telling the truth, and he didn’t know whether or not he was sane. “I’m sorry.”
The man looked Wildwing in the eyes. “Yer sorry?! When ya marry, you’ll learn how much love takes o’er yer life! You’ll know how much that one person means to ya! Then, we’ll see how ya feel when God takes ‘er away from ya. Your entire life vanishes, just like d’at.” The man snapped his fingers on his empty hand in emphasis. “You’ll do something crazy and stupid in effort ta take away da pain an’ end up in a loony bin, just like me. An’, if ya got a kid, ya watch the other part of yer life slip away. Ya think yer left with nothing when ya lose yer wife? Wait til they take away yer creation. Then…THEN, will ya be sorry.” The man took a deep breath and shook his head. “But that doesn’t matter anymore. Today’s da day I’m gonna get ‘im back.”
“Your son?” Wildwing asked.
“YES, my son!” The man yelled.
“Just a wild guess, but, considering the situation, I don’t think you’re going to get very far.”
“Don’t. Mock. Me! That blasted woman tripped da alarms when I tried ta get out my savings.”
“You weren’t robbing the bank?”
“’ell no! Why would I do a thing like d’at? I got two million in savings. I told ya, I was a stock broker.”
“Then why did she trip the alarms?”
The man took the gun away from Wildwing’s face and walked over to a nearby desk. He picked up a piece of paper and shoved it into Wildwing’s face. Wildwing took the paper from the man’s hand and looked at it. It was a wanted poster with the man’s face in the center. Below the face it read “George Plyer, escaped patient from Long Beach Mental Institution.”
“She musta recognized me.” George took the paper out of Wildwing’s hands and crumpled it. “This wasn’t sappose ta happen. I was sappose to get my money, go to Brazil, get my son back, and make a new life for the two of us.” He looked at the crumpled paper before tossing it on the ground. “Now I don’t know what da ‘ell I’m doin’.” George walked over to the window and peered out of it carefully.
“If you were just taking out some savings, why’d you bring a gun to the bank?”
George turned back towards Wildwing. “Bein’ stuck in a loony bin fer 15 years kinda makes you do stupid t’ings. I went ta a storage warehouse a couple a blocks from ‘ere and got some of my belongings d’ey had kept after installin’ me inta d’at asylum. D’his gun ‘ere happened ta be wit’ it. O’er d’ere’s my od’er stuff.” George pointed over towards the wall. Wildwing looked, and, sure enough, a large black camping bag laid against it. George resumed his observation of outside by peeking through the curtain.
Wildwing looked around. In the far corner of the room, he could make out a room. That was where the crying was coming from. But Wildwing had to make sure. “Where’s the girl, George?”
George turned back around at Wildwing. “None of yer damn business!”
“George, you still can go see your son.”
“HOW?! Dey’ll never let me go now. I killed a woman an’ took a little girl hostage. Even if they realized I wasn’t crazy, I’ll be arrested an’ put in jail for murder.
“If you feel that sorry for yourself, why don’t you give up before you make things worse? That little girl did nothing wrong. Let her go and give up.” Wildwing had taken a couple steps closer toward George.
“I ain’t givin’ up ‘til I see my son! All I want is my savings an’ a plane ta Brazil. Just tell da cops d’at and da girl won’t be harmed.”
Wildwing almost slapped himself. He forgot that Tanya was the one with the microphone hidden in her hair. He was completely on his own. “You haven’t killed that woman. Yet. You’re not a murderer, George. You’re not a robber, either. But you have to stop what you’re doing. The situation is getting way out of hand and the cops are going to break in here at any minute.”
“WHAT? Whaddya mean dey’re comin’ in? Sendin’ in a negotiator means dey’ll wait until you call ‘im an’ tell ‘im what I want!”
Wildwing sighed. “That’s not what they’re doing. They gave my partner a microphone to place in her hair so that they could hear the situation themselves. But, when we found the woman, she left with the ambulance. Because I have no microphone, I don’t what they’re planning.
The man walked up to Wildwing and jutted the gun under his beak again. “Den call ‘em an’ tell ‘em d’at if d’ey even t’ink of comin’ in ‘ere, I’ll blow yer and da little girl’s head off.” His voice became threatening.
Wildwing looked around the dark room. “Did you just turn off the lights, or did you blow the circuits?”
George thought for a minute and threw his hands up in the air. “Dammit, dammit! You don’t have a cell either?”
“Like I said, the cops were planning on listening through a microphone.”
George sat down in a nearby chair and placed his head in his hands. “I’ll neva see my little boy again.” He relaxed back into the chair and stared up at the ceiling. “What’s yer name, duck?”
“Wildwing…do you have a wife or girlfriend?”
“So you don’t ‘ave any kids?”
“How ‘bout family?”
“I have a younger brother.”
“Ya love ‘im?”
“Of course I do!”
“Do you think you could live wit’out ‘im?”
Wildwing thought back to the time where he almost lost Nosedive. He knew, from the fear he felt when he saw Nosedive get hit by the car, that he could never live without his little brother. “No., I couldn’t.”
“Would ya have gone to the extremes I ‘ave to keep ‘im?” The man stopped looking up at the ceiling and looked over to Wildwing.
“Yes, but he wouldn’t have allowed me.”
The man stood up and walked over to Wildwing. “Help me get my son back. I’ll give up, an’ I’ll go ta jail for what I’ve done. But, please, help me see my son again. I miss him so much.” George looked pleadingly into Wildwing’s eyes, begging for mercy.
Wildwing nodded his head.
George smiled genuinely for the first time, and walked over to the door. He opened it with a key he had grabbed out of his pocket and walked in. A minute later he came out with a small girl bound. She was crying hysterically. He placed her on the chair. “Take her down to the police. I give up.”
Wildwing smiled at George. “You’re doing the right thing.”
George smiled slightly and walked over to a window. But it wasn’t the same window he had been peering out the numerous times before. Wildwing than remembered.
“George, the snipers!”
Everything happened at once. A bullet rang through the air and Wildwing watched as George fell to the floor. The gun George was holding, which was still cocked, flew up into the air. Wildwing watched as gravity to its toll and the gun began to plummet to the floor. When he realized what was going to happen, he quickly pushed the little girl out of the way. A second bullet pierced the air, and Wildwing felt a dull pain in his side. He fell to the floor and laid there, unable to move. Just as he could hear faint yells of his name and someone touch him, he lost consciousness.
Wildwing awoke to the sound of a page turning. He slowly opened his eyes and recognized the area to be the infirmary in the Pond. Instantly, he felt a sharp pain in his side. He moaned slightly, and the duck sitting next to him in a chair peered over at him. It was Mallory.
“Hey, you okay?” she asked.
“I feel like I got hit by a steam roller, but, yeah, I’m okay.” Wildwing grumbled, trying to sit up.
“Careful.” Mallory helped him sit up and placed a pillow against the headboard of the bed so Wildwing could rest against it. “You’re lucky to be moving at all.”
“What do you mean? What happened?”
Mallory sighed, placed her book away, and sat back into her chair. “You were shot, that’s what happened. The bullet missed your spine by a centimeter. If it had hit, you would have been paralysed from the waist down.”
“I wasn’t shot.”
Mallory smirked. “I beg to differ.”
“No, no…I mean I wasn’t shot at. When George…”
“The terrorist, George, got hit by the sniper, his gun fell out of his hand. I pushed the little girl—”
“I pushed Lindsay out of the way before the gun went off and nailed her.” Wildwing looked over at Mallory. “How long have I been here?”
“Well, after your surgery—”
“Yes…to remove the bullet?”
“Well, after your surgery, you’ve been unconscious for…” She looked at her watch, “nearly eighteen hours.”
“Well, he’s supposed to be sleeping. He wouldn’t leave your side until about an hour ago after I insisted that you would be fine and that you were just sleeping.”
Wildwing smiled. “Yeah, that sounds like him.” There was a couple seconds of silence before Wildwing spoke up again. “What happened?”
Mallory looked up. “With the terrorist?”
“Well, the woman he shot survived and should recover fully.”
“Yes. And she’s very thankful to you for saving her daughter’s life.”
“All in a day’s work.”
Mallory smiled. “Of course.” She frowned again. “However, George was killed by the sniper.”
Wildwing looked down. “He was giving up.”
“What do you mean?”
“I convinced him to give up. I promised him I’d help him see his son again.”
“His son? Wing, what did this guy tell you?”
Wildwing looked up. “Well, he said he was a rich stock broker with a wife and child. He overdosed on some pills after his wife was killed in a drunk-driving accident, sent to a mental institution for 15 years while a foster family in Brazil adopted his son. He told me that he came into the bank to get out some savings when the lady recognized his picture as a mental patient escapee and triggered the alarm. All he wanted was to see his son again and prove to people that he had made a mistake with the pills.” Wildwing looked over at Mallory’s dumbfounded expression. “Why?”
Mallory looked at the mattress for a minute before speaking again. “Plyer had a mental disorder, Wing. He was never a stockbroker. In fact, he didn’t even finish high school. After marrying a prostitute when he was 22, he killed her. After declared insane, he was sent into a mental institution. He never had a son, but he did frequently gloat to his fellow ‘friends’ in the asylum that he would one day escape and fly to Brazil.” Mallory watched as Wildwing’s face deteriorate after every sentence. “I’m sorry…”
Wildwing smiled slightly at her. “No, don’t be. It’s okay. I’m just a little ashamed at myself that I believed him, that’s all.” He sighed and looked down.
Mallory came up and hugged him. “Don’t be ashamed. That man was a pathological liar. You saved a child’s life, Wing. She and her mother are both okay, and they’ll be able to continue on their lives thanks to you.”
Wildwing smiled. Mallory was right. “Hey, I don’t suppose I could get something to eat around here, can I? I’m starved.”
Mallory laughed as she let go and walked to the door. “What do you want, oh mighty leader?”
“Food.” Wildwing smiled.
Mallory shrugged and opened the door. “Well, that’s nice to hear. I think there’s some vegetable soup in the cabinet. Will that suit you?”
“That’ll be fine. Thanks.” Wildwing called after her as she left the room and headed down the hallway. She waved her hand as a signal of ‘no problem’ before the door automatically shut.
Wildwing sighed and rested his head against the headboard. He replayed the past few days in his head, and locked his memory on the image of the little girl he had saved. She had shoulder-length curly-brown hair like her mother’s, and large blue eyes…just like Kelly’s. Suddenly Wildwing felt a cold wind brush past him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. That smell…
Wildwing looked over to his right and gasped. There, smiling, stood Kelly. She was still wearing the exact same pink dress, but it was no longer covered in filth. In her arm was the same teddy bear, but it looked much newer. She smiled and her big blue eyes sparkled. A beautiful white glow surrounded her, and the wind that had filled the room was rustling her black hair and pink dress. An aura of peace filled the entire room and Wildwing couldn’t help but smile. “Kelly?”
Kelly giggled. It reminded Wildwing of the first time he had asked her her name.
Wildwing watched as she stood on her toes and placed her beak next to his ear.
Wildwing looked back at Kelly, but she was no longer there. The wind had died down and everything was back to normal. The only thing that remained was the echo of her words.
Wildwing smiled and felt an entire weight lifted off his heart.
Perhaps he could convince one of his teammates tonight to let him move back to his own room while he recovered.