It had been a bad day so far for Wildwing. In fact it had been a really bad day.
First Dragaunus and his goons had tried to eliminate him, causing serious damage to the surrounding houses. The Mighty Ducks had put up a good fight, but the stupid lizards STILL got away!
To make things worse, Wildwing had to argue with Klegghorn about the extensive property damage, and the fact that the donut store had been obliterated in the battle.
Then, as if things hadn't been bad enough, his Duckcycle had broken down just when he was passing the garbage tip. Even after ten showers, he still smelled like rotting banana-peel and fish heads.
Right now, he wished that he could just crawl into dimensional Limbo and stay there. He could already feel nagging doubts about himself in his head.
What use is a leader who doesn't even check that his Duckcycle is in working order!
He cursed the doubt, but as usual it still ranted on at him.
You let them get away! I bet even Klegghorn could have got those scaly creeps.
Wildwing sighed and sat down on the chair in front of Drake 1. He leapt back up again with a yelp as something sharp made itself known to his behind. He turned to glare at the stupid object, but was caught off guard when it glared at him first.
Staring up at him was a single, unblinking blue eye. Attached to it was a very realistic dragon medallion. At first he'd thought the medallion was made of silver, however Tanya analysed it ("just out of curiosity") and found out that it was some other sort of metal. Biological metal that was stronger than Titanium. That, thought Wildwing, could only be dragon's scale.
She's using it to keep an eye on you. you obviously made a great impression when you met her..
Wildwing picked up the medallion and held it thoughtfully while he let himself reminisce.
`She' was a Special Agent from New York. A Chinese girl with a curiously strong British accent and bright blue eyes that could almost stare through someone's soul. Her name was Silver Dragon. Wildwing hadn't liked her at first. She'd seemed cold, obsessed with duty and unwilling to accept any help from them in defeating the Saurians which had moved to New York (in fact, she had ordered the Ducks to stay away). A bit later he'd found out none of these personality traits were real. She was actually kind, understanding and knew they would help anyway. The previous Silver had been a finely crafted illusion. Just like her humanity.
Silver was actually a thirty foot high dragon.
Wildwing had only see her transform once. What he saw was a sleek, silvery creature with massive wings and a tail. She was different to the dragons he'd imagined, which were practically all teeth and scales. Her scales were so tiny that it was more like skin (except on the chest, where they were layered like a thick armour plating) and she didn't have noticeable teeth, in fact she had something more like a falcon's beak. Most of the time she stayed in her human form. She said it was because walking around in her true form would be too frightening for people. Wildwing just thought it was because she liked humans better than Dragons.
He stared at the eye of the medallion. She'd given it to him as thanks for flushing the Saurians out of New York. She'd told him "Remember who you are". Silver had always assured him that the mask of Drake DuCaine made no difference to his leadership qualities, that it was his own courage that made him strong. Wildwing wasn't sure he totally believed that, but it was a comforting thought.
He blinked, then realised that he had completely forgotten why he was having such a bad day. He smiled. Silver just had that effect on people when she was being nice (when she wasn't they tended to end up as a pile of ash). That was probably why he valued her so much as a friend.
You want it to be more than friends though.
Wildwing's blood ran cold. He'd been having thoughts like that for a while. He didn't think they were good ones. YES he liked Silver. YES she was always there for him (sometimes if his doubts were too much for him he would call her to check how things were going in New York'). YES she was absolutely stunning but-
But she's a DRAGON. They need to be with other dragons, not some freaky Alien that washed up on the planet. Wildwing wasn't sure, but he thought that dragons only had eyes for other dragons.
He couldn't be farther from the truth.
Dragons, on occasions when they visit Earth, sometimes fall in love with someone there. Human and dragon minds work in much the same way, so they get along very well (duck and dragon minds seem to work in the same way too. If not better). Dragons have been known to stay on Earth and give up immortality just so that they can stay with that special person.
There is, however, one nasty drawback.
If the pair has a child, then it is a mixture of very different genetics. Things go wrong. They could end up growing scales, breathing fire, or sometimes just dying as soon as they are born.
In the case of Mercutio Del Fortua, he had lost his nerves. Literally.
Mercutio was in his early twenties and very well built. He had flaming red hair that he didn't bother to cut, so it was tied back to keep it out of his eyes (which didn't work, seeing as a few strands got loose and brushed at his eyebrows). He wore a black cloak to hide scars and had a huge gun-sword strapped to his back.
`Merc' had been born without the ability to feel anything. He could be shot, slashed and burned but still not be able to feel it. He sometimes thought of it as a curse, but for his line of work it was quite useful.
Merc was a slayer. A Dragon slayer.
Or he WAS. Merc gave up after he had met Silver. Originally he was going to kill her, but she had cast a spell that had sent a fire through his skin and brought him down. She had caused him to feel pain. Once he had surrendered, she spared him and told him that she could teach him how to feel. After that she taught him how to heal himself so the wounds would knit themselves up in minutes. He gave up dragon slaying and became a mercenary, with the belief that not ALL dragons should be killed.
He owed Silver a lot. She was the only person who treated him like family. Like Wildwing, he would do ANYTHING for her.
And. like Wildwing. he was about to be played for a complete fool.
The Brotherhood was a gangster-Ninja cult in New York which deals with magic and world domination. Usually they're fairly quiet, but today the head of the organisation was about to put some grains of sand in the clockwork daily routine of the city.
Mainly because he was bored.
Oni No Makura was a demon. More accurately, he was a Darkness Demon. One of the most deadly and powerful kinds. He had skin so black that light just fell into it without a chance to scream, and he wore slightly-less-black leathers. He tied his hair into a tight ponytail so not even a strand fell out of place. In his face glowed two icy blue eyes which shredded the will of humans when he stared at them for too long. He knew he had power, but unfortunately Oni was powerful AND immortal, which made life really boring unless he was plotting an evil scheme. Like now.
He leaned over the chair where his right-hand-man, Mr. Smiles, was sitting. Smiles was a Chinese man with slightly greying hair who represented Oni in. well everything. Despite his name, Smiles didn't even smirk. Not even at `the Simpsons'. At the moment he was hacking through communications lines.
"Are you sure this is a wise decision master?" he said, without looking up or stopping.
"No." Oni grinned, "It's a brilliant decision. One that's going to be very entertaining."
Smiles stopped typing and held out a microphone for Oni. Who took it and cleared his throat.
"Wildwing here." Said a voice over the radio.
Then Oni did something extraordinary.
"Wildwing it's me! You've got to help me!"
Smiles jumped in surprise. From Oni's mouth came the voice of a young British dragon they both knew all too well.
"Silver?! Is that you?" The voice of Wildwing had an urgent, worried tone to it now.
"Who do you think it is?! The Luck Dragon?!" Oni had obviously been paying attention to the way Silver spoke in battle.
"I'm being hunted! There's this Slayer in New York even I can't beat! He can't feel a thing and none of my spells are working on him!"
"Can't you transform?!"
"And make myself a bigger target?" Oni put in some pleading tones as he reached for a gun on the table. "Please Wing, You've got to-"
Oni fired the gun next to the microphone and screamed like a dying dragon. It sounded like a cross between a gigantic eagle and someone scraping their nails down a blackboard. Then he cut the transmission.
Smiles was visibly impressed. "That was very convincing master."
Oni grinned "Like it? I'm about to do a repeat performance."
He flicked a switch on the radio and cleared his throat again.
"Mercutio Del Fortua. What's up?"
"Merc! Finally I got through!"
"Oh, hey Silver! What's up?"
"I need your help. I've been badly wounded and I just can't do this job right now."
"What happened?" The voice sounded more serious this time.
"There's a White Dragon running around Manhattan! He was disguised as a friend of mine and then when he transformed. I wasn't ready. I'm hurt pretty bad, but I managed to cast a hold spell, so he's stuck in his duck form."
"No sweat. He's already gone. You get some rest Silver."
The transmission ended and Oni sat back with a content look on his face. Now all he had to do was wait.
Mallory walked into the Pond about 15 minutes after Wildwing had received the `call for help'. He was already running around getting things ready for him to leave.
"What are you doing?" said Mallory.
Wildwing jumped in surprise. "Mal! I was just-"
Then she realised. "You're leaving?!!!"
"Yes, but with good reason." He sighed, "you're in charge until I get back."
"What?! Where are you going? What's happening?"
He stopped for a minute and picked up the medallion.
"It's Silver." He said.
That was all Mallory needed to know. She watched him walk out of the door to journey to New York without saying goodbye. It's personal, she thought, better to stay out of the way if it's something to do with him and Silver.
She noticed something on the screen of Drake 1. Someone had been hacking through FBI and CIA files to get as much information as possible. She read a bit of it and then stared at the picture of a young human with flaming red hair and a really big sword. She started to wonder if Wildwing WAS coming back.
Wildwing arrived in New York at about midday. He didn't know the place very well, but at least he didn't have to worry about being noticed. New York humans, he concluded, have seen so much strange stuff that a big, white duck with a mask really isn't that exciting. He walked out into the streets and mused about how much he liked New York apathy.
It may be interesting to know that this same apathy applies to big redheaded men on motorcycles carrying an Uzi. Or at least up to the point when he starts firing it.
Wildwing felt the bullets clang off his armour and on reflex he whirled round and fired a puck at the motorcycle. Merc heard a nasty grinding sound from the engine as the puck blasted through it and leapt away as the motorcycle span out of control down the street. It came to a stop at the side of the road, bleeding oil and petrol onto the tarmac.
"So you're that stupid creature I've been hearing about!" Shouted Merc as he got up, "You should have killed me when you had the cha-"
Another puck knocked the Uzi out of his hand. It was shortly followed by Wildwing's fist. Merc was flung across the street by the blow, but managed to roll back to his feet and draw his sword.
Wildwing was about to fire again, when he heard a clicking sound from the sword. As he leapt sideways, he heard the weapon fire. It sounded like a clap of thunder, and even after the bullet had passed him, Wildwing could still hear it echo around the buildings.
Merc grinned, "This thing was made to kill a Black Dragon, so it'll take you out just as easily."
Wildwing felt the side of his armour, there was a huge gouge in the metal where the bullet had grazed his side. There was also some blood, and he winced with pain as he got back to his feet.
Merc aimed the gun to take another shot, except this time Wildwing dived towards his legs and tackled him. They fell to the ground with a thud and Wildwing heard the reassuring clatter of the gun-sword leaving Merc's grasp. He then felt the not-so-reassuring thud as Merc's elbow hit him in the head. He let go and dodged as Merc tried to punch him. Then he hit back as hard as he could. Merc didn't seem to notice much, and they both ended up rolling around trying to strangle each other.
They were completely unaware of the fact that they were being watched.
Oni looked down at the scene from a nearby roof and grinned. This was just too much fun to end.
Far away in another part of the city, Silver was up to her eyes in paperwork. She sighed angrily. Why did the Agency do this? There were so many reports here of strange phenomena that it was impossible for them all to be important, or even true! She picked up one report which was about gigantic mutant broccoli terrorizing the downtown grocery store and tossed it into the bin.
Then the phone rang. In a flash she picked it up and answered. Even if it was a wrong number, it had to be better than this.
"Silver Dragon speaking." She said.
"Silver? Are you okay?"
"Mallory! Hi, it's good to hear from you. Yes I'm fine."
"Then why did Wildwing seem to thing you were in trouble?"
Silver blinked. "I don't know, what's happ-"
Her secretary burst through the door.
"Miss Dragon! They need you down in sector 14b right away! Merc's gone crazy! He's fighting this giant duck in the-"
Silver put down the phone and ran out of the door. A few minutes later, her secretary heard the sound of a pair of giant wings flapping and a dragon flying very, very fast to wherever section 14b was.
After two minutes of watching Merc and Wildwing try to choke each other to death, Oni was getting bored again. This wasn't like in the comics when they would spend hours just smacking each other across the city! And no one here looked like they were going to die very soon.
He muttered something foul in Japanese and looked down at the street. He stared. Then a slow, malicious grin broke out on his face.
That would work. If motorbike fuel was as explosive as he thought, then this should prove interesting.
Oni rubbed his thumb and forefinger together, creating a tiny flame no bigger then that which you would find on a candle. He watched it flicker in his hand for a second, then carefully dropped it into the street below.
He watched it spiral towards the motorbike fuel and laughed.
Wildwing wasn't sure how long he'd been throttling Merc. He was fairly sure that the guy was starting to go blue, but it was hard to tell when his vision was clouding up.
He heard something in the distance.
"Josh! This is so cool! Look at those guys! It's just like on TV!"
"Dare you to go closer."
"Heh, no problem.. See I -- hey what's that?"
Then Wildwing heard the most frightening laugh on the planet. He had time to think.
Merc, going blue in the face and forgetting how to breathe, didn't hear the kids in the background. However, out of the corner of his eye, he saw the flame spiralling down towards the remains of his bike and the fuel.
He also had time to think.
He looked up at Wildwing, and they both let go of each other and ran. Wildwing was running towards the kids, and Merc was running towards the imminent explosion. At first glance, this seemed stupid, but he had an idea.
He grabbed the edges of his cloak, leapt towards the fuel and muttered some strange words.
Then the world in front of him exploded.
Wildwing had followed his first instinct to get the kids out of harms way. His head was still throbbing from the recent battle, but he had managed to grab both of them and shove them into an alleyway. He vaguely remembered Merc running towards the bike, but then he felt a rush of heat behind him and he and the kids were thrown forwards by the explosion.
He got up and helped the kids to their feet. They stared at the blazing mass at the end of the alley with wide, terrified eyes. Wildwing followed their gaze, and started wondering.
He couldn't have survived that. could he?
Wildwing thought hard. That guy had taken some of his most powerful punches and hadn't even flinched. Then he'd stayed alive for God knows how long when Wildwing was trying to wring his neck. But even so. it was a big explosion.
Then he saw the flames part, and a figure limped towards them. One of the kids clung to his leg in fear and whispered something about zombies.
The figure in front lurched down the alley. There was a faint blue glow around his silhouette, which didn't look like flames. His clothes were in tatters and his skin had been shredded into rags. As he walked towards them, he reached up to his left shoulder and pulled sharply. There was a disgusting `CRACK' as he put it back in place. He stopped just in front of Wildwing.
The skin on his face and body started to grow back. Deep cuts became little scratches, and then they were gone. The face of Mercutio became more and more clear beneath the scars.
Merc had to admit it. It was a stupid idea really.
He'd seen Wildwing duck into the alleyway with the kids, and had figured out that the flames from the explosion would travel down it like an express train. So he flared out his cloak, cast a `fire proofing' spell and acted like a human wall. Unfortunately most of the flying debris and shrapnel had hit him, so his skin was torn up and his left arm dislocated itself. He was aware that a few pieces had hit him in the head, because his vision was blurred. He counted himself lucky that he couldn't feel it, and that he wasn't dead.
Right now he wanted to get a few facts straight. He looked at Wildwing. White Dragons normally didn't care about humans, even their children. This was very unusual behaviour to risk it's own life to save two kids.
"Why did you.?" Merc stopped and realised there was something wrong with the way everyone was staring at him.
"Oh. Sorry. My eye?"
He reached up. There was a `splotch' and he looked up again.
"Anyway. Why did you save them?" he asked.
"It was the right thing to do."
Made sense, thought Merc, Dragons are obsessed with what's right and wrong, but White Dragons have different views. This one was just an anomaly. Merc thought hard, and wondered if he should let this one live.
"I can't let you get away with what you did. I'm sorry." Said Wildwing.
Ah. So much for letting him live.
Merc thought about what it was he might have done, then stopped. The list was far too long. Probably killed its mate or something.
"Alright." He sighed, "I'm under orders to terminate you too. But lets do this properly. Did you ever watch any Westerns?"
"Well we're going to have a showdown. Nothing fancy. Guns at side, aim, shoot. One of us dies, the other goes home alive. No one else gets hurt. Okay?"
"Fine." said Wildwing.
Wildwing kneeled down and looked levelly at the two boys. He told them to run home as fast as they could, and not to look back. Then he walked back into the street where the initial fight had started. He stood there, reloaded his puckshooter and waited.
Merc followed him and put some more ammo in his sword-gun. He stood ten paces away from Wildwing and put his finger on the trigger.
There was a moment of total silence. They stared each other out. Then they both looked to the heavens as the sky erupted with Dragon.
Wing shielded his eyes instinctively as Silver landed, and when he looked up he almost had a heart attack.
He almost laughed out loud with relief, but he caught the look in her eye. Then when she started talking he knew he was in trouble.
"What the hell is going on here?!" she yelled.
Merc's voice could be heard on the other side of Silver's huge form.
"I could be asking the same question! What are you doing here? You said you were injured."
"Well obviously I'm not!" she growled.
She turned to Wildwing, her blue eyes staring levelly into his. It was the sort of stare that said `I've had a very bad day so don't try and make any jokes.'
"Why does Mallory think I'm in some sort of trouble?"
Wildwing hesitated for a bit, but under the harshness of the eyes he began to explain.
"Er. I got a phone call from you- or someone sounding like you- and you said that this guy was trying to kill you and--"
He didn't finish explaining. On the other side of Silver came a furious interruption from Merc.
"Oh come on! I'm a retired slayer! I only kill bad guys now!"
"Then why did you try and kill me?!"
"I was told you were a White Dragon."
"Do I look like a fifty foot high scaly lizard to you?!"
Silver roared. That was really the best word to describe the sound that came out of her mouth. It was like hearing an extremely large and annoyed bird of prey crossed with nails scraping down a blackboard. There were some complications to it, such as it being impossible for any bird of prey to shriek an entire collection of bass notes. The ground seemed to shake, and the sky looked like it shrank back from the noise.
It had the desired effect. Both men abruptly fell silent.
Silver looked down, her eyes burning with anger like sapphires. Her voice didn't sound human anymore. It hissed through her mouth like steam and growled baritone notes on every word. It was definitely a dragon's voice.
"You have both been played for fools." She seethed, "And I have no pity for those who are tricked so easily. This just shows that neither of you think I could take care of myself. Fine. Kill each other. But do it quietly, and with minimal damage to the surrounding area. I'm sick of the both of you!"
Then she leapt up into the sky, unfolded her gigantic wings and was gone.
Wildwing and Merc stared upwards for a while, then looked at each other. Merc laughed and shook his head.
"I don't see what's so funny." muttered Wildwing. He still had Silver's final words ringing in his head.
"Oh she's like this." smiled Merc. "She gets more irritable in dragon form. something to do with the blood getting hotter. That's why she blew up like that. Once she's back in human form she'll have forgiven us."
"How can you be sure?"
"Trust me. I've done this before."
Merc grinned at Wildwing. It was as if he had totally forgotten that he had been trying to strangle him five minutes ago. If only things were so easy for Wildwing. he was struggling with conflicting emotions. Most of them regarding the fact that Silver appeared to hate him now.
Merc took note of this and smiled what he hoped was a reassuring smile.
"Hey don't worry. You don't have to apologise to her or me. Now how about we get some coffee or something?"
Wildwing followed him. Coffee would be really good about now.
The next day, Wildwing immediately called Silver to apologise. He knew he probably didn't need to, but she sounded pleasantly surprised and he had a feeling he was in her good books again. Part of him vowed never to go rushing into a situation like that again without a good reason, the other half of him knew he probably would anyway within the next twenty-four hours.