Author's begging note: Someone draw a picture of Wildwing and Nosedive hugging! PLEASE! I never see any cute pictures between those two! Please! Please Please Please Please Please! Spread the word! Get everyone to do a cute picture between those two! See, I did one, so I filled my requirement~ Snuggling, laughing, sleeping, ANYTHING! PLEASSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! I can't stand the fact that no one ever draws those two together! It's driving me crazy! T.T I wanna draw a picture of them hugging, but I don't have the time or the patience right now, so pleasseeeeeeeeee!!! =D I'll see you my soul if you'll draw one~ Er.. Wait a second.. Maybe not that much. But please, please please please! ><; It'll make me write faster, I promise! And whoever sends me the first picture of them will get to read the next chapter first! Really, promise~

Author's Note: The original chapter title was "Gone and Taken." Lol, thought you might want to know. I had to change it after an idea popped into my head and it no longer appropriately described the chapter. Another thing I need to mention is that I had all these ideas before Ladynero's fanfics came out, I just have had a hard time trying to figure out how to utilize them. (So, if this fanfic is anything like any of hers, I apologize in advance! I didn't mean to steal anyone's ideas, but I've plotted through enough of the story in my head that I can't change them now!) Don't worry, everything that's going on will be explained in later chapters. . . Or a later fanfic. I'm trying to keep to one major event per fanfic, so this plants the seeds for the next fanfic in line.

Author's 1.5th Note: Uhm, scratch that, I'm saving that one idea until the next fanfic. Mwuahahaha. =P It's Gone and Taken again!

Author's Second Note: I'm probably going to love this chapter just as much as I did the last one, although it might be a little *LESS* evil. (Note later added: Instead it's going to be ten times more confusing than the last chapter!) I thought this chapter was going to be shorter than the others, but I think that's not the case anymore. Maybe a page or two shorter, or maybe even longer. We'll see. (Edit: 10 Pages, 3 pages smaller than the others. =P) And I'm writing the POV last, because I have no idea who I want to be talking next or what I want them to talk about. . .

Random Author's Note: I'm trying to keep to the original ducks for this fanfic, just because I don't really want to introduce new characters at the moment. I want to focus on the old ones first and *LATER* I might add some in. I got some plot twists for a later fanfic that have never been done before . . . At least, I've never read a fanfic that the idea had occurred in. Ah well, it'll be fun. And I'm bloody tired of writing this note, so we're going onto the story now because at this point in time, it's 12:30 in the morning (when I started writing, that is) and I want to do some evil! (That sounds so dirty) Mwuahahahahaha! . . . No more apple-juice for me. . . And you know what? Ducks bite hard. They do. They really do. So don't piss off a duck.

Another author's note: And then suddenly the POV attacks me and says it wants to be written first, the greedy little thing it is! =P Figures, doesn't it? I'm going to edit this later, I just wanted to upload this now. And I rushed a little with the ending, many apologies!

The Aftermath

By Icelightning

Chapter 3: Gone and Taken

Do you know how much it hurts to hear people say that you're a heartless bitch and then you start to think that they might be right? For the longest time, my whole life on Puckworld, I didn't care. I didn't need anyone -- family was useless. My parents never had time to take care of me because of the duties they had to the army, so maybe that's why I think that way. I never had one real birthday -- I never got presents, not even a "Happy Birthday!" They said that they would spoil me and I would end up rotten if they did that. So they yelled at me instead.

"Mallory, straighten that collar!" "Mallory, you missed a spot, do this entire room over!" That's all I ever heard when we were all together and they were on vacation leave. They never criticized each other, just me. They loved each other, but they didn't love me. I swear that I must've been an accident -- Mother didn't even nurse me at all. When we're hatched, we're supposed to be nursed at least once, so that we'll get anti-bodies from our mother's milk. Mine didn't even do that, despite the fact that the nurses begged her, and in the end I nearly died because of it, but she didn't care.

I heard the entire story from one of the nurses. She remembered me because I had red hair, which is rare on Puckworld. It was in the Resistance Infirmary where I met her -- she had worked undercover in one of the camps to help some children escape. She was dying. There's not much of her words that I can exactly remember, except that she told me I "was a beautiful baby."

Something about her began to change the way that I see the world. She had a rare disease that should've killed her long before she would've managed to free those kids. But somehow, she held on and only gave in after she had saved them. They gave her a reason to live, and she fought so that they might be free. Sheer willpower had held the progression of the disease at bay. It made me begin to question the idea that emotions were useless. I only questioned it more as I grew to know the team after Canard was lost to Dimensional Limbo.

Suddenly I felt a part of something -- something more than just a team. Tanya's my best friend and she's like a sister to me, despite the fact that I don't know the first thing about machines. Wildwing's a good friend -- and he knows me almost too well, so that he can tell right before my temper explodes. Duke, even though I used to hate him, is the teasing older brother. Grin's also a good listener and he knows just what to say to calm me down. And Nosedive . . . Well, Nosedive's the annoying little brother you love and hate at the same moment. I may threaten to hurt him when I'm chasing him around the pond after one of his little pranks, but I'd never really go through with it. I heard he was in the camps and only a true heartless bitch could willingly hurt someone that's been through that.

And since I can't even think about truly hurting him, no matter how angry I get at him, then I guess I must not be a heartless bitch after all. After all that's happened, how could I survive without friends? I need the others, as much as I hate to admit it.

I also need patience, as much as I hate to admit that as well. Actually, I need a lot of it. I've never been very much of a patient person, preferring action to planning. And I can't stand slow people! I hate slow people! They walk so slow when they're in front of you, and you have to take such small steps that cause you to nearly fall over! I've seriously considered kicking them in the ass. During the time I had a sprained ankle, I still walked faster than they did, and my leg was in an air-cast! Stupid . . .

At least Nosedive doesn't walk slow, although he might wake up slow. Which isn't too bad, as long as he doesn't delay practice getting started. That's when I get angry, but then again, maybe that's why he's usually only a couple minutes late. He probably doesn't want to risk my wrath.

After Wildwing was thrown into his coma, I finally realized how much I cared for Nosedive. He's like a little brother to me. Maybe that's why I'm so harsh on him and he decided I'm the one he plays pranks on. Despite the fact I might criticize him and put him down all the time, I really do care -- I just don't want to see him hurt.

The same thing must have gone through Wildwing's mind when he pushed Nosedive out of the way of that semi. Nosedive's still a child, and for a child's life to end so early . . . It was simply unacceptable. Unforgivable.

And Wildwing's death would have been the same. I never realized how much he meant to me either, until after he nearly died. Strange, isn't it? You never realize how much you care about a person until you lose them. I guess I was lucky.

With Wildwing being so close to death, it was probably the first time I really thought about my relationships to the other ducks. I became a bit protective towards Nosedive while Wildwing couldn't be there to do the same. Now that I think about it, I've never seen Nosedive as being a weak person, very annoying at times, maybe, but never weak. But during those two weeks, Nosedive seemed so small and defenseless. Wildwing was the world to him, and without Wildwing. . . Without Wildwing, he saw no reason to go on. I realized it might be the same in reverse, but I found that out afterwards, when Wildwing admitted it to me during that conversation late at night.

My friends mean everything to me in this strange world. And if we ever get back to Puckworld, it'll probably be the same. We might live in the same house, even, since we've lived together for nearly a year now and we're even closer now than at the beginning. Hell, do you know how convenient it is to have your best friend living only a few doors down? Pretty damn convenient, especially when you need to talk to something. We work and live in harmony, I guess. And oh geez, I'm starting to sound like Grin. Heh, figures -- we've lived together in one base for long enough. Why shouldn't I start sounding a bit like him?

I'm not alone anymore. I no longer fight for myself -- I fight for them. They are the reason I get up every morning, the reason why I can go on. I laugh when they laugh, I cry when they cry. . . We do so many things together, things I had never done before. They're my family. My siblings. That's why I fight. That's why I win. And that why I'll never give into Dragaunus and his henchmen.

This is the first time in my life I've been truly happy. I have too much to lose if I fail.


Nosedive and Wildwing were laying side-by-side, staring at the ceiling, deep in thought.

"Wildwing?" The younger brother finally broke the silence and the elder one turned his head to regard him.

"Yeah?" Wildwing replied, blinking softly. "What is it, baby bro'?"

"Remember the time when I was ten and the slide broke when I was going down it?" Nosedive asked, still looking to the ceiling.

"Yeah. . . Scared the shit out of me." Wildwing stated, smiling weakly.

"You freaked out completely."

"Did not."

"Did so. You screamed like someone just ran over your privates." Nosedive laughed and Wildwing flushed brightly.

"Did not!"

"You did," Nosedive nodded, trying to hide his wide grin and failing, "I know you did, 'cause I remember laughing my ass off at you so badly that I cried."

"I did *NOT* sound like I got my privates run over!" Wildwing stated again, just as Duke walked into the room.

Hearing Wildwing's last statement, Duke raised an eyebrow.

"Sounds like I missed an interesting conversation," The gray duck stated and Wildwing turned even redder.

Nosedive took one look at his older brother and burst into hysterically laughter, laughing so hard he fell off the bed.

Duke sniggered as Nosedive moaned, sat up, and rubbed the back of his head, Wildwing still flushing too brightly to snicker along with him.

"You'll have to tell me that story sometime, kid," Duke commented, earning another bright flush from Wildwing just as it was starting to subside.

"Sure, I'll tell you all about it!" Nosedive piped back, forgetting about his aching head, grinning widely.

Wildwing sat up to regard them better and crossed his arms, frowning slightly.

"And I'll start scheduling practices at four in the morning!" Wildwing stated, and both Nosedive and Duke paled.

"Errr. . . Maybe some things are better kept as secrets." Duke added and Nosedive nodded vigorously in agreement.

"Y-Yeah, some things are best kept as secrets."

"Glad you both agree," Wildwing smirked and laid back down, closing his eyes as he rested his hands behind his head. "So, why are you here, anyways?"

"Tanya sent me," Duke replied, hiding a grin. "She said you'll be free to go as you please tomorrow-"

"FINALLY!" Wildwing sighed in relief, opening his eyes and turning his head to grin at Duke as Nosedive cheered.

"-except you won't be able to skate on the ice, fight, or drive for another two weeks," Duke finished and Wildwing groaned, causing Duke's face to shine with amusement.

"Aw man! So what is 'Wing supposed to do until then?? Play cribbage?!" Nosedive whined and Wildwing snickered, despite the fact he was a bit put out himself.

"I'll just have to bother you, I guess," Wildwing grinned and Nosedive glared at him.

"You wouldn't dare! That's supposed to be my job!" Nosedive mock-frowned and Wildwing snorted.

"No, you're supposed to bother Mallory," Wildwing stated and Nosedive's frown turned into an evil grin as he looked heavenward.

"Hey, you're right. . ." Duke and Wildwing both sniggered as Nosedive tried to do his best impression of innocence.

"Wildwing, you should know better than to egg on your brother like that," Duke said with a laugh.

"What?" There was a twinkle in Wildwing's eyes. "He keeps Mallory on her toes and makes me smile, as long as his pranks aren't too harsh."

"Yeah, 'cause then Mal-Mal would kill me," Nosedive joked.

"And you know how much funerals cost these days," Wildwing added.

"Hey!" Mock-frowning, Nosedive put his hands on his hips.

"What, baby bro'?" Wildwing smiled at his 'fuming' little brother.

"That's mean!" Was the reply and Wildwing laughed lightly.

"Your point being. . .?" He continued to smile.

"Uhm, that it's mean?" Nosedive offered, causing Wildwing to roll his eyes.


"What do you mean, 'so?' It's mean!"

"And I say once again. . . So?"

"Duke, Wildwing's being mean to me again!" Nosedive sighed sadly, turning huge eyes onto the eldest mallard in the room.

"That's nice," Duke stated absently, patting Nosedive on the head as he walked out.

"Hey!" Nosedive protested, glaring at the gray mallard's back.

Wildwing snickered and Nosedive threw a pillow at him.


Dragaunus paced back and forth along the floor of his room, a small tendril of smoke blowing out of his nostrils. It had been weeks since there was any real development on Wildwing's condition in the newspapers. He hoped that this lack of news meant that the meddlesome mallard was dead. The conquest of Earth would be relatively easy without Wildwing to lead his band of rogues.

And so he waited, waited to celebrate his future victory over the remaining Puckworlders. Even if it was true that Wildwing was dead, he would not be truly happy.

All of his minions knew that he wanted to be the one to kill Wildwing. He wanted to be the one to break the mallard's neck. And he wanted to be the one to kill the fool's little brother right in front of his eyes.

But all that would become impossible if that stupid duck was dead.

His musings were interrupted by the door to his bedchamber opening with a swish as Wraith walked gracefully into the room, despite his age and his need to use a cane. Putting a closed fist to his chest, Wraith bowed respectively.

"My lord?" He spoke quietly and Dragaunus stopped his pacing to regard him with annoyance.

"I told you, Wraith, that I was to only be bothered if you had more information!" He shouted to the older and weaker Saurian, smoke billowing from his nostrils as he snorted angrily.

"I do, Lord Dragaunus." Wraith replied, no longer fazed by his master's unpredictable moods, having grown used to them.

"Then it better be good news!" Dragaunus glared, a small smirk on his face as Wraith finally shuddered in fear.

"Both good, and bad, my lord." He replied once more, carefully planning how to best tell of what news he had discovered.

"Bad news?" Dragaunus growled and Wraith shivered softly.

"Wildwing has survived his coma." The old Saurian whispered and Dragaunus eyes flashed in anger, making a start for Wraith.

"But wait! He has yet to fully recover his strength, and is still weak." The Saurian Overlord stopped to consider this bit of news.

"What are you suggesting we do, Wraith?" Dragaunus asked, more curious than angry.

Wraith relaxed, smiling inwardly. He knew he had Dragaunus now.

"If we could get him by himself, Wildwing would not be able to defend himself." He answered simply.

The Overlord's ensuing grin of pure malice caused Wraith to shudder in terror.


"Man, this isn't fair!" Nosedive whined, pinned by his brother to the floor as the others watched, all of them laughing at his misfortune.

"Not fair? You were the one that tried to tackle me," Wildwing replied, smiling as his younger brother glared up at him.

"But you're still supposed to be weak! I should still be able to win!" Nosedive frowned, annoyed that his window of opportunity had closed a few days back.

"Not my fault I recover fast," Wildwing stated cheerfully with a shrug, ruffling his brother's hair before standing up.

Nosedive pouted for a minute before he stood up and jumped at Wildwing, wrapping his arms around Wildwing's waist in an effort to knock him over again. Wildwing just merely glanced down at his younger brother, raising an eyebrow as he watched Nosedive strain to push him over to no avail. He smirked down at his little brother, patting the boy on his head and earning a glare from Nosedive.

"C'mon, fall over already! Aren't you still tired??" Nosedive demanded.

"I'm still a little tired, but either way, I have fifty pounds on you," Wildwing laughed, putting an arm around his brother's shoulders. "Sorry, but you're back to being the baby in the family again."

"Sooooo not fair." Nosedive sighed, giving up on trying to knock his brother over, resting his head on Wildwing's chest instead.

*Snap!* There was a blinding light that blinded the two brothers. When the temporary blindness faded, they blinked to an impishly smiling Mallory and the camera she was holding in her hand. A bout of laughter from the others ensued.

"That's one for the photo album!" She stated, grinning as Nosedive glared at her.

"I'm tempted to chase you out of the room, Mal-Mal, but I think I'll just stay here and cuddle with my bro'. He's comfy." Nosedive stated, causing his brother to flush a somewhat dark hue of scarlet as Nosedive pressed into him.

"Aw, that's just too cute!" Mallory snapped another picture and Duke smirked.

"It's your first day out of bed and you're already blushing!" Duke grinned, and Wildwing only flushed more.

"You know, you're cute when you blush," Tanya smiled mischievously as Wildwing's blush took on an even darker color of red.

"Why do you think I'm taking pictures?" Mallory asked, winking back at Tanya.

"Blackmail?" Nosedive piped up, and Duke snorted.

"You really don't want to give her ideas, kid. She might use them." Duke stated and Mallory tried her best to look innocent.

"She can go ahead and try to blackmail me with this pictures, but I don't exactly mind them being shown to everyone," Nosedive replied, and Wildwing smiled softly.

"I don't mind, either."

"Well, damn it," Mallory frowned and the rest of the ducks burst out into laughter.

"He would mind, however, if you took a picture of him after he woke up in the morning," Nosedive grinned, and Wildwing blushed again.

"Is this 'Tease the Leader Day' or something?" Wildwing asked, looking suspiciously to the other ducks.

"Basically," Duke answered, resting his cheek on his hand, sipping his coffee with an amused smile on his face.

"Nosedive, you're going to have to let go of me, you know that, right?" Wildwing asked, and Nosedive blinked up at him innocently.

"And why is that?"

"Because I'm starving and I'm afraid I'll mistaken you for cereal and I'll try to eat you for breakfast," Wildwing joked and Nosedive eeped before letting go.

"That's a pretty good reason," The younger brother commented and Wildwing snickered as he walked by him, ruffling Nosedive's hair on his way to the cupboards.

"Dude, watch the hair!" Nosedive complained, although he was still grinning.

"So, what do we have planned for today?" Wildwing asked, pulling out some cereal.

"Nothing, nothing, and more nothing. Oh, and then a practice, which you sit out on because Tanya says you wouldn't have regained your balance yet." Nosedive laughed, and Wildwing rolled his eyes.

"Tanya threatened to lock Phil in the closet if he tried anything. And I said I'd help her." Mallory added, winking.

"He agreed that maybe the best thing would be to let you rest some more," Tanya stated, and Wildwing chuckled.

Grin walked in then and there was a chorus of greeting from the other ducks. Wildwing, his head now in the fridge, waved to Grin and Grin smiled back.

"It is good to see you on your feet, again," He commented and Wildwing looked back to him, grinning.

"And believe me, it's great to be on my feet again!" Wildwing replied with a laugh.

"But remember, you must take it easy until you've fully recovered. Which means no fighting, no skating, and no rough-housing!" Tanya reminded him, giving him a look that clearly stated 'do as I say or it's another week of bed for you.'

"But you didn't object when I wrestled with him. . ." Nosedive objected and a sneaky smile spread across Tanya's face.

"I don't consider that strenuous activity."


Wildwing snorted, nearly choking on the glass of milk he had just poured for himself and everyone looked to him in shock. He eventually stopped coughing and looked around at the others, blushing faintly as he realized they were all watching him with worry.

"I'm okay, I'm okay!" Wildwing reassured them, smiling weakly. "Just got caught by surprise, that's all."

Nosedive sniggered.

"You sure?" The teenager ducked the crumpled napkin that Wildwing threw at him.

Wildwing smiled to his brother and his brother smiled back. It was good to be back on his feet again.


"Wildwing, you know I can't let you operate heavy machinery! And that includes the Migrator!" Wildwing opened his beak to object, but Tanya interrupted him before he even got to ask his question. "And that also includes the Duckcycles, the Aerowing, and other sort of vehicle!"

Wildwing, his question already answered, closed his beak, sighing with a frown.

"But then how am I supposed to get some new stuff for our room?" Wildwing asked, referring to the room that he and Nosedive shared, and Tanya blinked in surprise.

"Why do you want to get some new stuff for your room? I thought you said Nosedive couldn't get anything else. . ." Tanya stated, trailing off.

"Yeah, well, that was before I stayed in there for two weeks. It could use a little more. . . I don't know, it just needs something!" Wildwing replied, looking a little guilty. "I didn't realize how plain it looked until I stayed in there for two weeks."

Nosedive's eyes lit up and he practically bounced over to Wildwing, earning looks of shock from the other two ducks in the docking bay.

"Does this mean I can get a few new posters for our room??"

Wildwing hid his smile, instead pretending to give off a shuddering sigh.

"Yes, Nosedive, that means you can get some more posters to plaster over all our walls," Wildwing failed to hide his smile as Nosedive cheered. "However, I'm also getting some stuff that I want for our room, so you can't have all the space."

"Aw man. . ." Nosedive pouted and Wildwing pat his shoulder.

"Don't worry, I won't take up all the space," Wildwing reassured him and Nosedive grinned slightly.

"You said you need a ride?" Nosedive quickly put his hands up in defense at the look Wildwing gave him. "Hey, hey, hey, don't look at me like that! I promise I'll go the speed limit!"

Wildwing gave him a skeptical look and Nosedive frowned slightly, hurt.

"Wildwing, you know I wouldn't drive fast after what happened! I don't want to hit anybody like they. . . t-they-" Nosedive let out a small cry of surprise as Wildwing pulled him into a hug, rubbing his back tenderly.

"Shh, I believe you, baby bro'. I believe you." Wildwing whispered soothingly and Nosedive smiled weakly, pressing closer as he wrapped his arms around Wildwing's waist.

"I'm glad," Nosedive replied at length, smiling a bit wider. "You know I wouldn't chance you getting hurt again. Once was enough."

Wildwing nodded in agreement and a few tense minutes passed in silence before Tanya spoke up.

"You two better go, the mall closes in a few hours, and you know Nosedive will want to spend a few of them in the comic shop with Thrash and Mookie," Tanya smiled weakly and both brothers turned to look at her in surprise.

"She's right, baby bro', we'd better go before it's too late," Wildwing stated, gently pulling away from the hug and wrapping an arm around Nosedive's shoulders. "So let's get moving."

"There's just one problem with that, bro'," Nosedive commented, earning a curious and confused glance from Wildwing.

"And that is?" Wildwing raised an eyebrow.

"You got the keys." Nosedive stated.


Tanya couldn't help but roll her eyes.


"Well, here we are!" Nosedive exclaimed, grinning at his brother as he shut off the engine. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

"We didn't get a ticket," Wildwing pointed out, after long thought. "And we're still alive. So, I guess."

"You guess?" Nosedive cried, looking offended, as Wildwing snickered.

"Yep, I guess," Wildwing repeated and Nosedive frowned.

"Man, you suck!" His frown worsened as Wildwing burst out into laughter.

"Aw, I'm so sorry; I didn't mean to make you pout," Wildwing teased, still chuckling, as he unbuckled his seatbelt.

"I am not pouting!" Nosedive replied in an obvious pout.

"And what do you call that?" Wildwing asked, pointing to Nosedive face.

"An expression of annoyance," Nosedive stated.

"A pouting expression of annoyance," Wildwing added.

"Is not!" Nosedive cried in denial.

Wildwing didn't reply, only smirking as he got out of the car. Nosedive didn't realize that Wildwing had gone until he looked at the empty seat beside him. Frowning, the boy quickly put the car keys in his pocket and trotted after Wildwing, quickly catching up.

"So, where are we going first?" Nosedive asked as he caught up to his brother.

"Well, I was thinking maybe someplace to eat," Wildwing admitted, smiling guiltily. "I was in such a hurry to leave the house, I forgot about lunch!"

Nosedive failed to contain his snicker.

"You're joking, right?" He gave Wildwing a skeptical look. "You never forget those sort of things!"

"Well, I did today," Wildwing stated with a blush. "Try and not make a big deal out of it, okay?"

"Aw, you're no fun!" Nosedive complained, and Wildwing grinned softly. "Never said I was, now c'mon, let's go get some pizza."


"So kid, you figure out yet what's wrong with the Mask?" Duke walked into Tanya's lab, ignoring the newly blackened section from her last experiment got awry.

"I.. I can't, there's nothing wrong with the circuitry or anything! I've checked it once, twice, three times and still nothing's shown up!" She shook her head, looking the Mask over and giving it a confused look.

"You mean, after you fixed it from when it got slammed into the concrete," Duke pointed out and Tanya winced involuntarily, causing Duke to apologize. "Er, sorry."

"Yes, after I fixed it. It's not that it's broken or anything. . . It's almost like it doesn't want to work." Tanya stated with a sigh.

"Got any theories?" Duke leaned over the other side of the table Tanya was working on to get a better look at the artifact in her hands. "Do you have any idea why it won't work?"

"None, and that's what irks me! This should be a simple thing to fix, I feel, but I have no idea why it won't work! It can only do the most basic of its functions." She sighed once again, and adjusted her glasses.

"Is it low on energy or something?" Duke took his gaze away from the mask and glanced up at Tanya, but she shook her head again.

"Although it lost a great deal of energy when Wildwing was hit with the truck, it still has more than enough to perform its usual functions," Tanya replied, a frown of concentration on her face.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Tanya, did you just say it lost a great deal of energy when Wildwing got hit?" Duke spoke his realization and Tanya blinked, before her eyes widened.

"You mean, do you think that it-"

"-might have used that energy to somehow create a shield of some sort to protect Wildwing? Hell yeah." He nodded firmly.

"But then why was the Mask damaged by the fall?" Tanya frown returned and the only thing Duke could do was shrug. "Oh!"

Tanya's eyes lit up and Duke grinned inwardly. She obviously had a theory. Then she did something that Duke completely unexpected.

Hugging him quickly, Tanya laughed, "That's it, thank you, Duke!"

"Uhm, erm, uh, you're welcome?" Duke could barely hide his blush, even with his dark feathers. "What exactly did I do, anyways?"

She was too busy launching into an explanation to answer.

"Maybe it put up the shield too quickly and somehow that damaged the circuitry!" Her eyes practically sparkled at the possibility of the Mask serving as more than just a sensory artefact. "It could be possible, since it was never used in such a way before, or in at least, a really long time!"

"How does that work?" Duke blinked, confused. "Wouldn't that not matter?"

"Oh, but it does!" Tanya grinned, eyes dancing. "Take a harddrive on a computer for instance."

"Okay. . ." Duke replied slowly, getting more confused by the second. "What about it?"

"It's got to spin up when it's first turned on, right?" Tanya paced around, suddenly filled with a bounty of energy.

"Yeah, so?"

"So the Mask might have had to do the same thing for the shield! And what happens when a harddrive has to spin up to fast?" Tanya asked, and Duke blinked, before a light bulb came on, his eyes widening.

"If it spins up too fast, then it can get damaged!" Duke exclaimed, then his jaw-dropped at the realization. "You think that the same thing might-"

"-Have happened to the mask? It's quite possible!" Suddenly she looked put out and she frowned. "However, I replaced all the circuit boards after the fall, and yet it still doesn't work as it should."

"So what does that mean?" Duke asked, blinking once again.

"Perhaps it's now in some different mode than we've seen it in before, like perhaps a defense mode of sorts. Or maybe I didn't fix it quite right -- which could be possible. Or the Omnitool could be reading the power-level wrong." Tanya sighed and shook her head once more. "I have no idea what it could mean!"

"Or maybe there's more to the mask than we think and could be responding to something outside. . ." Duke offered, and Tanya nodded.

"At this point, we can't even confirm that. All we can do is keep on running tests until some definite theory begins to emerge." Duke nodded in turn to her statement, and they both sighed, a new mystery to replace the old.

They had gotten farther than they had been, only to find out they had more of a distance to cover than they had at first thought.

It was then that Drake One went off.


"C'mon Wildwing, why can't I have that poster of Britney Spears on my--our-- wall??" Nosedive sighed, pouting again, but this time on purpose.

"Because you hate her guts, remember?" Wildwing replied evenly, looking through a rack of posters

"Oh yeah," Nosedive stared up at a rack of music above him with a knowing smile on his face as Wildwing snorted.

"You're making this hard on purpose, aren't you?" Wildwing asked, not even trying to hide his amused smile.

"Yep," Nosedive replied with a grin.

Having had their fill of pizza, the two mallards had journeyed over to the record store after Nosedive begged, whining that he hadn't had any new CDs for a while. Wildwing, still not fully recovered from his injuries (or so was his excuse to himself), caved in and the record store had become their first stop.

"Oh look, a poster of us," Wildwing stared, bemused, at the poster his had turned to.

"Yeah, imagine that; at least it's a nice picture," Nosedive laughed, looking at the poster that showed them all posing in their hockey gear. "I mean, just think if it was one of those other photo shoots, like the one with the sumo wrestler costumes?"

"God, don't remind me!" Wildwing shuddered, horrified at the memory. Nosedive only laughed again, and then his eyes lit up mischievously as he noticed something.

"Look, Wildwing, one of those Christmas beanie babies of you! You know, the ones that go 'quack, quack, quack' when you slam them against the wall!" Nosedive rushed over and picked the offending toy up. "See?? We should buy it and put it in our room!"

Wildwing merely crossed his arms over his chest, fixing Nosedive with the look he gave to Phil whenever he tried to make them do a photoshoot.

Nosedive looked at him innocently, grinning widely.

"Okay, okay, I won't put it up in our room, but at least can I have it as a voodoo doll?" He asked, although he already knew the answer.

Getting a sudden idea, Wildwing quickly walked over to him and began to search the shelves with purpose. This earned a confused look from Nosedive.

"'Wing. . .?" Nosedive blinked to his older brother.

"Please tell me they have one for Phil!" Wildwing prayed, and Nosedive smothered a laugh, before looking on the back of the tag attached to the toy in his hand.

"I'm 'fraid they don't have one, 'Wing," Nosedive mock-groaned, and Wildwing cursed softly under his breath.

"Damn!" Nosedive barely smothered his laugh.

"Although that's very wishful thinking, big bro'. . . If only!" Nosedive sighed, replacing the out-of-proportion replica of Wildwing back in its spot on the shelf.

"Yes, if only!" Wildwing agreed with a sigh of his own.

They continued to look through the shop, eventually deciding on a few posters and a CD each, before they went to the counter to pay for their items.


"Mallory, what's going on?!" Duke exclaimed, Tanya and Grin right behind him as he rushed into the main room.

"Drake One's detected teleportation energy!" Mallory replied, Grin looking over her shoulder.

"Where?" Tanya asked quickly, worry evident in her voice, thinking how badly the attack was timed, with Wildwing and Nosedive out on their own.

"The Anaheim Mall!" Mallory replied, frowning.

Grin nearly fell off Tanya as she can to a startled halt.

"The Anaheim Mall?! Wildwing and Nosedive went their to buy some things!" Tanya exclaimed, eyes wide in realization. "Dragaunus must be after Wildwing!"

"Then we must aid them!" Grin stated and he was the first to rush towards the docking bay, the others quickly following him.


"Okay, we're splitting up so you can go to your comic book store and I can go look for some new bookshelves, am I right?" Wildwing asked, placing the spoils they had already gotten from that day's shopping in the trunk.

Nosedive nodded and grinned, replying, "Basically, although you'll have to come get me, and we'll have to have the bookshelves delivered."

"Because we both know you won't come to get me," Wildwing stated with a knowing smile and Nosedive grinned cheekily to him.

"Basically!" Nosedive grinned and waved to Wildwing as he ran off towards the comic book store. "Bye, see you in a bit!"

Wildwing shook his head, and watched Nosedive as he started towards the furniture store and was so absorbed in watching his brother's antics that he failed to notice the Saurian standing in front of him until he bumped into Dragaunus himself.


Nosedive had swung open the door to the comic book shop and greeted Thrash and Mookie when he heard a scream of pain escape from his brother's throat.

"WILDWING!" Nosedive shouted, running back out the door, only getting a few steps in before he stopped in shock. "Wildwing, no!"

All four Saurians had surrounded the duck, and were beating on his mercilessly, Wildwing doing his best to defend himself against them. But he was failing, and failing horribly, his responses weak and sluggish because he was not yet fully recovered. His armor softened many of the blows that hit him, but it couldn't save him when Dragaunus backfisted him across the face, sending him flying. He stayed where he landed, groaning softly, having been knocked senseless.

The Saurians weren't bothering with the usual taunts, they were straight to business. Their goal was to either kidnap or capture Wildwing, and both goals were now quite within the Saurians' collective reach. However, Nosedive wasn't going to let his brother be taken without a fight.

"Wildwing, I'm coming, Wildwing!" Nosedive found his feet again as panic rose in his chest and he transformed into his armor mid-run, pulling out both of his puckblasters and firing at them. "Leave them the hell alone, you creeps! I swear, if you kill him, you'll never see the light of day again!"

Dragaunus let out a harsh, terrible laugh that cause Nosedive to nearly stumble and fall, but the boy kept on running. He had to get to Wildwing, he had to get to Wildwing! He just had to! If something happened to Wildwing. . . No, no, he couldn't think about that! Not again, it wasn't happening again! It couldn't be!

"You BASTARD!" Nosedive let out a scream of rage as Dragaunus kicked Wildwing in the side and sent him flying into a mailbox. "Leave him the hell alone!"

Dragaunus merely laughed as the pucks bounced harmlessly off his armor, kicking Wildwing again so he laid on his back. He then stomped down on Wildwing's stomach, knocking all the air out of the defenseless Puckworlder and causing Nosedive to become even more enraged as Wildwing gasped for breath. No one hurt his brother like that, no one!

"Now did I say I was going to kill your brother?" Dragaunus called to the boy, slowly grinding his foot into Wildwing's stomach, the white duck too weak to fight back or to even raise an arm against him. "You mistaken my intentions. I don't intend to kill him; at least, not at first!"

"I don't care what you want to do with my brother, you just leave them before I rip out your heart and feed it to you!" Nosedive barely registered what he was saying, and if he had been in the right mind, he would've been shocked at his own words.

"Well, well, well; it seems that the duckling has guts!" Dragaunus taunted and the other Saurians cackled, surrounding their leader in a protective triangle. "Too bad guts won't save your pathetic little brother from me!"

"You're the one that should be worrying!" Nosedive shouted back, knocking Chameleon unconscious with a puck to the forehead.

"Oh really? I think not. You see. . ." He took his foot off of Wildwing's stomach and placed it on the mallard's throat instead, grinning maliciously as Nosedive came to a sudden halt, his eyes wide and frightened. "I hold your brother's life in the palm of my hand. All I have to do is bring down my foot and he dies."

"No!" Nosedive shook his head wildly, his courage replaced by a deep fear for his brother's safety. "Don't hurt him, I'll do anything you want!"

"Then stand there," Dragaunus laughed, programming his teleporter. "Stand there, drop your weapons, and do nothing, else I change my mind and kill your beloved Wildwing!"

"N-No, Wildwing!" Nosedive, shuddering softly, did as he was told, his puckblasters falling noisily to the concrete before he realized what Dragaunus was planning. "Don't!"

"Too late, little boy, he's mine!" Dragaunus laughed, his form and Wildwing's becoming insubstantial. "And you can do nothing to save him!"

The other Saurians began to disappear as well, Siege holding up an unconscious Chameleon as Nosedive rushed forward, diving for his brother's disappearing form.

But he was too late, Wildwing disappearing completely from view just as Nosedive fell onto the spot he had been until but a moment before. The other Saurians laughed and disappeared as Nosedive screamed.

"WILDWING!" He got up onto his knees, looking around, eyes wide in horror. "Wildwing, Wildwing! God, no! This can't be happening again! Please, no! NO! WILDWING!!"

Nosedive began to sob, ignoring the crowd that began to peak out of the doors of the shops, his eyes squeezed tight with tears. He had to catch himself with his hands to save himself from falling onto the pavement beak first, but he cared not.

His brother was gone; gone once more! And like the time before this, he was unable to save him.

*End of Chapter 3*

Author's end-note: Sorry this took so long to get out, it took a while to write! I'll finish editing this one when I get the time, since SATs are this weekend and I'm pressed for time. Send me e-mails, I love them! And please, draw me pictures for inspiration and I'll be ever worshipful of you! Thank you! Please read and review!

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