Nosedive dodged the beams that came from Seige's laser. "Oh man!" Dive leaned on the metal wall of the warehouse. He glanced to the other side of the building where Grin was helping Mallory get out from under the cardboard boxes that had fallen from the now broken shelving.
"Wing, look out!" He heard Tanya and Duke cry out as his brother was rammed by the Chameleon who'd morphed himself to turn into a six foot tall bull. Wildwing took the fall, but not without getting the Chameleon on the shoulder.
"RETREAT!!!" Wraith called out and then as they usually did, the three Saurians vanished into thin air. "Hey bro, you okay?" Nosedive lent his older brother a hand to get up.
"I'm fine Dive," Wildwing turned to the rest of the team and frowned, "The rest of you okay?"
"Fine, back aches though..." Mal grimaced and Tanya rubbed her teammate's back gently.
"I'm 'kay." The gray duck gave his leader a thumbs-up sign.
"The pain has passed as the wind does so often." The giant duck replied exhaling softly. Wildwing turned to his brother who simply shrugged, "Okay then, let's head home."
* * *
The room was dark as always, only lit by the blue light above. Ice-blue eyes blinked as they scanned the words and scripts on the monitor. A slender-fingered hand pushed away long blonde bangs that fell into his eyes. The screen went blank and the computer restarted itself for 'nth' time that day. Damn.
"Anything yet Hacker?" Hacker Randall, 21, looked up to see Drake Freewind standing over him, peering into the computer screen. "Sorry Drake, nothin' yet. It's crazy, the whole system's been goin' haywire for the past few days." The computer expert explained leaning on the table. He was frustrated, he'd always been able to fix things, but lately, his expertise wasn't doing him much on the system he was working on.
"Take it easy, pal, we'll have Deanna fix the whole thing in no time. Don't worry." The older man smiled down at his friend and comrade and turned to walk away.
In the training room across the hall, twin sisters Marri and Melissa Ravendell were running laps, training on the obstacle coarse and doing whatever they could to pass time.
Marri frowned as she looked to her sister. "5 minutes, 42 seconds." Melissa said tilting her head to one side, allowing her naturally wavy, shoulder length, light brown hair to fall into her eyes. "You beat your best time by fifteen second Mar, why the frown?"
"Not good enough. You know I should do this five minutes flat. I'm getting slow on my improvement." Marri snorted and stood, taking a long breath and bending down to touch her toes.
"Drake was right, sis, you push yourself too hard." Melissa smiled and positioned herself on the mat and began on her kata. Marri laughed half-heartedly. "And you take it too easy," she remarked, wiping her face with her towel and running the other hand through her straight, raven black hair.
"I've always wondered why you dyed and had your hair straightened Mar, I guess now I know." Melissa's eyes clouded over.
"I didn't do it because I didn't want us to be twins anymore Mel." Mar stood and jogged lightly in place. "I did it to be me." She sprinted off to a start.
* * *
"Okay, so let me get this straight Ace, you need what?!" Deanna Kerse leaned on the van's hood, cocking an eyebrow at the two legs that remained from beneath and car. Ace Matheson got out from under the vehicle and stood, towering over the five-foot tall, dark-haired, lavender-eyed girl.
"Dee, don't tell me you've never read anything about car racing," Ace pleaded, stripping off the grease-stained gloves from his hands. His rich, dark hair was tousled, the seven-inch-long 'tail' he'd long kept in remembrance of his childhood hung wet down his upper back.
"Never." The newly turned fifteen-year-old smiled up at him, sweetly mocking her tall, eighteen-year-old friend. She uncrossed her arms over her chest and walked over to her laptop on the table nearby. A message box blinked onto the screen:
Hacker's having problems with the system control. Fix it! Thanx.
"Just great," She turned to Ace and shook her head. He smiled sympathetically knowing what her exasperated look meant. "Keep your cool Lav," He smiled and tugged lightly on her braid, "It ain't Hack's fault. You know that darned system's been giving us all the crick in the neck."
Dee smiled and squeezed her friend's hand, she made her way to the door and slid her pass card, "I'll tell Drake to give you a hand with the... whatever." She waved her hand dismissively and walked out the door.
* * *
Nyre Leviste lay on her bed, breathing softly and thinking to herself.
The darkness enveloped her for the past two hours and the soft purring of her air-conditioner kept her alert and awake. She tossed the bright blue stress ball in the air and caught it again.
I really hate this. She sighed and tossed the thing into the basket above her headboard and rolled to one side. She grabbed the remote on her side table and switched on the VCR.
Sitting up in an up-right position she brushed away her ebony bangs and pushed back the rest of her layered hair. She clicked the rewind button and waited until the tape stopped on it's own. She pressed play and watched the fluid motions of the athletes on the screen.
"And he scores! Ducks are in the lead, seven to three!" The announcer called and fans screamed in the sidelines.
Way to go Nosedive. Nyre smiled to herself as she watched the hockey player receive a hug from his teammates. Get on with it, game's not over yet.
The next caption was of the opposing team's forward coming in for 'the kill'. He stick handled the puck and avoided Duke, then he broke off and sped to the Ducks' goal. He shot.
"And Wildwing catches the puck!" The announcer's voice came again. The cameraman shot some of the Ducks' fans, girls screamed in delight, the guys cheered and the buzzer sounded just then, ending the whole game.
"DUCKS WIN THE GAME!"
I knew that already. Should've said 'Ducks win AGAIN'.
Click. The TV went dead and the room was dark again.
"Nyre...?" A soft voice came from the door.
"I'm 'wake Drake, whatcha want now?"
"Heard your TV all the way across the hall, any problem?" His tone was teasing, like that of an older brother. Which he was... to her... to all of them.
"My TV was hardly that loud Drake, unless you switch on the intercom, that is." She sat up and threw a pillow at him as he turned on the lights. "I wanted the dark, Freewind. And this is my room." She pouted mockingly.
Drake simply pulled on the chair by her dresser and positioned himself before her. "Why the long face 'gel?" He playfully pushed his knuckles on her chin. "The Ducks won, didn't they?"
"Shaddup Drake. You don't know what's up with me. You don't, never have and never will."
"The next tip-off is tomorrow, or tonight if you want to get it over with,"
"I thought that we didn't have any new news on lizard lips."
"Krysta got new stuff. She videotaped the whole thing at the box warehouse last night. She's coming over to show us the take, it wasn't as hard to do as the last time."
"Drake, I don't get why we don't just get over there and help them face to face." Nyre tied her long hair in a ponytail and massaged the back of her neck.
"Just because Nyre... you know how they'd react if they found me... alive."
"Could do them and you some good, boss. B'sides--"
"Don't say it. It's better she doesn't know. Believe me. She knows a lot already."
Drake snorted, "How would you feel if I told that, and I quote: 'amazing guy of a duck', how you feel, huh kid?"
Nyre simply smiled and threw another pillow in his face. "You couldn't possibly, not unless you want them to see you Drake, and that's a million to one chance."
Drake stood and cast his gaze to the ceiling as if to say 'why? Puh-lease tell me why.', winked at Nyre and left, shutting the lights for the fifteen-year-old's convenience.
* * *
Mallory stifled a laugh, Tanya buried her attention back in the New Discoveries magazine, Duke whistled and returned to the TV, Grin cocked an eyebrow and Wildwing groaned at the expression on his brother's face.
"That's the law, boobie, sorry. I can't do anything about it." Phil Palmfeather explained, looking slightly harassed. Anyone would be, if a representative of the California state stormed into your office at 7 in the morning going on and on about how the rule of education applied to all minors... not excluding ducks from a different planet... este, universe.
The seventeen-year-old cast a pleading glance at his older brother who simply gave him a look saying 'don't ask me!'.
"Phil, you gotta be kidding me! I don't need no school!" Nosedive began to list about million-and-one reasons to get out of the fix he was in. 88% of his reasons were hockey-related... the other 12%? Dumb, lame-ass excuses that definitely wouldn't pass.
"Yes, you do, junior." Duke put it, waving the remote control and biting on a toothpick.
"Who's side are you on Duke?" Dive asked, praying that the rest of the team would side with him.
"The right side Dive," Wildwing put in just then. "Phil's right, besides, I looked things over with him and you'll only need to take the classes that well... we didn't have back on Puckworld."
"Oh yeah, name one." The rebellious duck asked, glowering.
"I'll name two. History and literature." Wildwing cocked an eyebrow.
"History I get, why bother with literature?!" A cough came from behind. Both ducks and their manager turned to Tanya, "On every planet and any other universe for that matter, literature has been taken as one important factor as a medium for expression. Literature shapes the history and culture of each nation." She finished, smiling slightly.
"English please, Tan-tan."
"They won't pass you unless you take it."
"So...?" Nosedive turned to his brother and shrugged. "Okay, fine. But you'll regret it when I begin to get cranky."
"I seriously doubt that."
* * *
"Okay, so here's what I got from last night's encounter." Krysta, STROBE's informant, popped the tape into the player and clicked rewind to the top.
"So I guess this means the Ducks got the message the other night, eh?" Marri crunched on a potato chip. Mel pinched her in the ribs and grabbed the chip bag from her sister, handing some to the rest of the team.
"Exactly, and since it seems that our clues and information plan will continue," Drake smiled at his subordinates. "Hacker, Dee, got the system fixed in record time I heard."
"We found the glitch." Dee smiled proudly and glanced to her blond friend who made a motion as if to say 'magnefique'. The team cracked up.
"Marri, I heard you finished the course in 4 minutes, 38 seconds. Great job. We'll send you in with Krysta on the next one. Mel, Ace, set up all the gear in the mobile transfer, we'll need you on the scene as well."
"What about me, cap?" All eyes turned to the late comer who stood, leaning lazily on the doorway, still dressed in her street hockey gear. "Message file again. I want you to handle the computer. You know how to get inside Drake One without blowing any alarms and leaving any viruses. All I want is a quick intrusion, the leaving of the message where Tanya is most likely to find it, and I want you out of there in five minutes flat."
"Done." She said and glanced to see Krysta. She gave the older woman a smile and seated herself on the beanbag up front. "The tape?"
"Yes." And she clicked to play.
The screen was blank for a few seconds and then Nyre and the others heard the voices. The footage was from above, most likely from the roof. She could make out the six figures below easily.
"Grin, Mal, you two take the side entrance. Duke, Tanya, you move on first, Dive and I'll take up the rear." There were nods from each of the ducks. Wildwing activated the Mask and surveyed the perimeter.
"Nothing... no -- wait! Incoming!" A blast of laser energy shot right at them. The team dodged and the battle began.
* * *
Twenty minutes later all members of STROBE were discussing the next plan of action. Well, almost all of them....
"I still say that it's better if we park a couple of blocks nearer to the site so Mar and Krysta can just run and get the hell out of there!" Melissa reasoned. Deanna nodded and pointed out the city map and where the van could park itself safely.
Drake shook his head. "Sounds risky, what if the Saurians follow?"
"The Ducks are s'posed to watch over the civilians. Drake, it's obvious Krysta and Mar won't be in trouble. They'll be using the cloaks for goodness' sake!" Hacker threw his hands in the air in exasperation.
All eyes turned to the lone, petite figure not looking from the screen where she replayed the footage. "Whadya say, Nyre?"
"I agree with Drake. It's risky." She turned her piercing ebony eyes at each of them. "And I'm not talking about the Saurians. They know Krysta's face. They know what she can do, they'd know better than to mess with someone who's singed their scales more than once. And Mar can take out any one of them," She paused. "Except maybe the fat one." She smiled apologetically at her friend. "But what if the Ducks think we're in league with the Saurians? We have no guarantee they'll believe us. The camcorder gives them enough reason to believe that we work for dragon breath."
Drake frowned. "You're right, Nyre, I wonder why I didn't see that. But, angel..." Nyre cocked an eyebrow back at the older man. "...Who could possibly spot us? No one can see any of our team if they have the cloaks."
Nyre smiled and rewound the tape, pausing it at the moment a golden light flashed and Wildwing donned the golden cosmic mask. "You forget Drake, that the Mask of Drake DuCaine can see through any cloak, no matter what the technology." The young girl paused, glancing back to the screen for a moment then returning her attention to her leader and base operator. "If that thing can spot the Raptor in open space and in broad daylight, who's there to say it can't spot Mar and Krysta running around with the camcorder during a fight."
"How come you know so much Nyre?" Dee asked, intrigued at her foster sister's knowledge of the Mask of Drake DuCaine.
She smiled in return. "I do my research." And she turned, leaving the room and the team as she always did.
* * *
"C'mon Dive," Wildwing dragged his brother out of the Migrator's passenger seat. "It can't be that bad." He glanced at his reflection on the Migrator's side and ran a hand through his hair. "Geez, I should've put a little gel."
"Oh, now who's nervous of how they look on the first day?" Dive laughed sarcastically, snapping the older duck back to attention. "Why don't you go and attend the school, Wing?"
"Because I don't need to li'l bro." He grabbed the collar of Dive's polo shirt and dragged him out, closing the door right after. "Now c'mon. You'll be late."
"Whoopee." The teen rolled his eyes.
* * *
"Hey isn't that...."
"Well duh, Kimmy, isn't it obvious?"
"God, he's even cuter without the uniform...."
"Which one? I think they're both cute!"
"The younger one, duh!"
"Nuh-uh, the older one's definitely the looker."
"Ah shut up, Fie, nobody asked you!"
Wildwing glanced to Nosedive who kept his attention focused elsewhere, though he obviously could hear the murmurs from behind as well. The two entered the administrations office and he signed Dive up, after a little chat with the President of Anaheim High.
* * *
Anaheim High -- Lunch time -- The cafeteria.
"Have you heard?" Nyre looked up from her papers to see Kimberly Grathe approach her table. The rest of 'the Coven' glanced to each other, knowing Kimmy, this was obviously big news.
"What is it this time, Kimami?" Nyre pulled off her reading glasses and cocked her left eyebrow at her gossipy schoolmate.
"It's just so amazing, you'll never believe, I mean, I don't myself but--"
"Get to the point Kim." Moira the wild child, one of Nyre's close friends, snapped, putting down her sandwich. "We don't have time for games, we were discussing the new candidates."
The light in Kim's eyes dimmed as she realized her wrong timing. "It's okay Kim, just tell us." Vivienne O'Hara, another of Nyre's closest friends put in.
The bubbly auburn-haired girl smiled broadly and glanced to each one of the girls, "Get this, Nosedive Flashblade of the Mighty Ducks is here!"
"Say wha?" Cassidy Brant pulled down her Armani shades to her nose, cocking an eyebrow as well. She cast a sideways glance at the others but most especially to Nyre. "That's very nice news, Kimma-girl, but enough jokes please."
"Did you say Nosedive? The Nosedive Flashblade, here? No way." The fifth and final core member of 'the Coven', Margaret Dwayne laughed and waved her hand dismissively. "Heard that before Kim-y, the last time I heard it was that new kid actor from what's that new movie?" She asked her best friend Moira, forgetting that the girl was even there.
"But it's true!" Kim placed her hands flat on the table and stared Nyre in the eye. They stared it out for a few seconds when Nyre placed her papers in the blue envelope and picked up her bag. "Fine then, Kim. I believe you, for now. Show me where he is." She stood and followed the taller girl, motioning a goodbye to her friends.
She glanced around the cafeteria and spotted Ace and Hacker. She nodded and they followed later on as not to get anyone of their schoolmates suspicious.
In the hall, Nyre grabbed Dee as she shut her locker.
"Nyre, I've got something--" Dee said.
"No time to talk, Lav, just follow me, sis." Dee saw the seriousness in her foster sister's eyes, so she did. Kimmy approached the library door, not noticing that there were four now following her when-- Nyre's bag and envelope fell to the floor as she bumped into someone. A very tall someone.
"Oh, excuse me." A deep, male voice said softly as the person balanced her. Nyre looked up and gazed into the most unbelievable pair of eyes she'd ever seen. She glanced down at the four-fingered, white-feathered hand that held her arm. She swallowed softly, "I'm sorry. It was my fault." She managed to get out, barely above a whisper.
"No, it's my fault." Wildwing laughed softly as his gaze was held, soulful, sad and yet somewhat defiant ebony eyes. He bent down and scooped up the envelope and the ethnic, knit bag and handed it over to the tiny young human he'd bumped into.
"Thanks anyway." Nyre took her bag and turned back to Kim who was now slightly speechless about the sight before her. "Kim?" Nyre asked and the redhead snapped to attention. "I'll be going now, Nyre, see ya!" she smiled cheerfully and ran off in the other direction.
"Nyre, you still going in?" Hacker asked, just to fill in the silence that was beginning to form.
"Yeah, cause... cause if you aren't we still need to do our research." Ace put in as naturally as he could. He found it really hard to ignore the slight pinkish glow that was forming on his teammate's cheeks.
"I'll follow in a little while." She smiled wryly at the two, taking her cue from them. She turned to her fourth companion, "Dee?"
"I'm in!" Her lavender eyes twinkled and she entered the library giving Nyre a slight pinch on the hand, which went unnoticed by Wildwing. "Save a seat for me!" Nyre called as the glass door closed. She turned back to Wildwing. "Uhm, thanks again." She bit her lip unconsciously. "You're Wildwing of the Mighty Ducks aren't you?" She asked, though she very well knew that.
"Yeah, and you are...?"
"Nyre Leviste." She shook his hand. "I'm a third year student here." She added.
"Yo bro! I'm done!" Nosedive came out from the classroom nearby and stopped, eyeing both Nyre and his brother. He stepped in and smiled at Nyre who laughed at his next sentence, "Hi! I'm Nosedive, I see you've met my brother? Are you a junior? I am, or I will be, so what're your classes, maybe you can show me around, since you've met my brother and all." He winked.
"Hi, Nosedive, I'm Nyre. Yes, I'm a junior, but I don't know if we've got classes together, at least, not yet. And yes, I'd be happy to show you around." Dive beamed and glanced to his brother, winking in the process. Wildwing shot him a look of question.
"Thanks... Nyre." Wildwing managed to say as he stuck his hands in his jean pockets. "Dive, I'll send Duke and Tanya to pick you up at oh, let's say five?"
"I can go home by my own Wing, I'm meeting with Mookie and Thrash at Cap'n Comics afterwards, saw Mook today y'know."
"I know. I saw her too." Wing nodded and glanced back to Nyre who simply smiled back while raising her eyebrows in question. "I'll get going now." The older duck said, voice natural as it could be. "See ya later li'l bro! We got practice at six-thirty. Don't forget."
"Do I ever?" Wing shot him a look, which earned a giggle out of Nyre. Both brothers eyed her curiously. "Never had brothers. Sorry."
"Right." And Nyre watched as Wildwing disappeared around the corner before turning to the younger Flashblade, "So, where do you want to go first?"