“I am so tired of that Saurian scumbucket!” yelled Victoria. “Doesn’t he have anything better to do than cause trouble!?”
“I guess not,” said Dive, pleasantly. He was tired from the beating they'd received at the hands of Dragaunus' goons, but he loved it when Victoria overreacted. For all the times she criticized him, it made the other ducks wonder if they ought to listen to her anymore.
“All Saurians should be chopped into corned beef and blown sky-high.”
“Well . . . “ Dive wasn’t very comfortable all of a sudden. “All Saurians?”
“Yes!” screeched his teammate, fiercely.
“Vicky, don’t you think that maybe, well, nah, never mind.”
“That, uh, you know, somewhere out there, good Saurians exist?”
The whole team overheard this and burst out laughing, except Grin and of course Nosedive, who looked sheepishly at the ground.
“Good Saurians? Phew! Where’d you get an idea like that, Nosedive?” laughed Tanya.
“I think too many battles have taken their toll on the kid,” said Duke, ruffling Dive's hair. Dive pulled away angrily.
“Hey, I’m fine! I’m not as crazy as to believe an entire race is pure evil. I know what they did to our world, but I hope you remember that some of our people helped them do it. Like Lucretia DeCoy." At the mention of her sister, Victoria growled and glared at Dive. She hated it beyond what words could describe when people talked about her sister. It made her look bad.
"And Falcone," Dive amended, "And many others, I’m sure.”
“What’s that got to do with it, little bro?”
“If there are bad ducks then there might be good Saurians. But hey, as far as kicking Draggy’s tail I’m happy to help.”
But Mallory, Victoria, Tanya, and Duke still snickered. Wildwing only shook his head.
“Perhaps our young friend is right. There may be good Saurians somewhere. We should keep our hearts open,” replied Grin.
“The day I care about a Saurian is the day Nosedive is actually serious about something,” snorted Mallory.
“I am serious!” yelled Dive.
“Relax, little friend. Being angry will not waver their opinions.”
“Man, I wish I hadn’t said anything. They’ll probably tease me about it all year,” Dive muttered to Grin.
“It takes a strong heart and a lot of courage to speak against stubborn minds,” consoled Grin.
“Stubborn minds indeed,” sniffed Victoria, overhearing.
“Hey guys! I’m getting weird energy readings coming from outside Anaheim.”
“It could be the Raptor!”
“No, way, big bro, Lizard-lips wouldn’t act up twice in one day. It’s gotta be something else.”
“Yeah, maybe it’s a friendly Saurian,” retorted Victoria.
“Can’t you ever shut up -" Nosedive would've loved to say a cuss word, but because Wildwing was right there: "-er, uh -snooty-pants!?”
“Ha ha ha ha!! Oh, *snooty-pants*! That’s beautiful, kid!” laughed Duke, while Victoria glowered at Dive.
“Dive," Wildwing said in a warning tone. Dive shrugged sheepishly. "All right, you guys, let’s find out what’s going on.”
* * *
“According to these readings, it looks like some sort of alien craft landed here.”
"Hey! Look there!" Dive spotted a blackened yet sleek form half-buried under the sand from the aerial view of the duck's ship. The Aerowing landed twenty feet away from the smoldering space craft. “I’ll scan for life signs once we get outside. Keep your weapons at the ready,” ordered Wildwing.
The ducks walked down the rampart and stood at a safe distance from the alien craft. “Hey! That ship looks familiar!”
“It’s a Saurian craft! They’ve found a way to Earth!”
“I say we blow it up before they get out of there. Tanya, hand me an explosive puck,” said Victoria.
“No! According to the mask, there’s a duck on board. Probably a hostage. We better wait until they make their move.”
“But what if the duck’s a traitor?” asked Duke.
“It’s only a child, Duke. About eleven years old.”
The ducks were silenced as the hatch opened. Two Saurians, one male and the other female, and a young duck, with markings like a sparrow walked out of the craft. The ducks shifted their weapons, all except Nosedive who stared astonished as a memory long buried within stirred in him.
“Make one wrong move and you’re toast, mister,” snapped Mallory as the male Saurian lifted his hand in greeting. The male appeared confused, then suddenly his amber eyes fell on Nosedive. His jaw dropped in astonishment, then smiled brilliantly.
“Cobran! Jax! Sparrow!” Nosedive ran forward to greet them.
“Nosedive, come back!” cried Wing.
Dive turned to his teammates, who stared at him confused. “It’s okay. They’re friends. I know them. Put down your weapons, guys. It’s okay. Cobran, how did you get here?”
“Where is here? We barely had time to land before our engines overheated. And what a welcome your friends are giving us.” The ducks still had their weapons aimed at him and Jax.
“They’re used to fighting Saurians. They think you’re evil. Go figure. It’s good to see you again. I’ve been worrying about you ever since you, Jax and Spar escaped from Puckworld.”
“I’m glad to see the rebel team successfully helped you and the others escape. I overheard on our communication system how they liberated the entire camp.”
“Nah, it wasn't me. The prisoners were brave enough to take on the guards and General Dactylar to prevent recapture. Without training or anything, man. It was totally amazing. And they formed a new Resistance, dedicated to freeing more prisoners. Although I don’t know how they’re doing at this very moment. But with the destruction of the Master Tower, I think they’re doing just great.”
“Um, I think we just lost your friends,” said Jaxara.
Nosedive looked back at his teammates who looked in a daze, not able to hear what the conversation was about. “I think we better let them take things little by little,” he whispered. “We’ll take you guys back to the Pond. If it’s all right with Wildwing. They’re cool, bro. Trust me.”
Wildwing struggled. They seemed okay, but what if they were with Dragaunus? He sighed. Where else could they go? Klegghorn was out of the question. “All right. We’ll put your spacecraft in the hangar with the Aerowing. But you have some major explaining to do, bro. I want to know the whole truth.”
Back at the Pond, Nosedive, Mallory, and Victoria saw Cobran and Jaxara to guest quarters while Tanya checked Sparrow for any injuries.
Cobran had protested that he would never hurt Sparrow in any way, but Tanya had insisted. Marching alongside their ‘guests’ Victoria made a habit of fingering her weapon to seem more of a prison guard than a hostess. Jaxara shuddered. Nosedive gently took her by the hand. “Don’t worry, you’re among friends here. No-one is going to hurt you.”
“Unless you try anything,” snapped Victoria.
“Ease off, Vicky.”
“Yeah, so they can stab us in the back when we’re not looking.”
“We would never do such a thing, I assure you,” said Jaxara.
“Right, and I’m the Queen of Sheba,” Victoria snorted.
“Vicky, would ya knock it off? They’re our friends.”
“Wrong. They’re Saurians. And don’t call me Vicky, dammit!”
“Yeah, well right now, they’re acting a lot more civilized than you.”
Victoria glared at Nosedive who returned her contempt without a flinch. They walked in silence with the two Saurians and saw them inside the guest-room. “Don’t worry. You guys are safe here,” the younger duck assured his friends.
After the door panel slid shut and as they were walking back to the Ready room, Mallory stopped Nosedive, letting Victoria walk on ahead.
“Why you do this? Why do you always go against us? Those Saurians are our enemies. You saw what they did to our world, to innocent people. They’re monsters, Nosedive. And by standing beside them, you’re betraying your own world - your own people!”
“Cobran and Jax turned against the entire Saurian Empire, risked their lives to free me and Sparrow, and countless others from death. I sure didn’t see you doing anything to help us.”
Mallory flinched. Nosedive immediately regretted it and chose a softer tone. “I don’t care what your opinion of me is; I am not going to just turn my back on them and walk away just cause they’re Saurians. I owe them too much.”
Nosedive walked away. Mallory sighed and walked to the Ready Room. She wondered how one could owe their life to those of the same race who had nearly destroyed it.
An hour later, Cobran, Jaxara, Sparrow and Nosedive sat before the rest of the team. All of the team members had decided that they would listen to the Saurians’ tale from the beginning. “All right, Dive.”
“Spar and I met Cobran after our first day at the prison camp . . . Governor Woodstin and his family were to be executed, but the Resistance released him and his family. Dactylar was furious. He ordered five of the other prisoners to hang in their place. One of them...was Mom. They were going to throw the bodies into the ice river, but I argued with a Saurian guard, I think his name was Ripper, to let me bury them instead. He made me do it alone.
“It was raining . . . dark and cold when I was finished. The ground had been hard to dig into, and I was exhausted. Cobran helped me inside and we talked. He knew what it was like to lose a parent - unjustly. So that was the beginning. He was different from what you’d expect a guard to be . . . not cruel or anything.”
“I admit that at first I didn’t know my place. My people’s ways were strong and swift death came to those who tried to break free if they weren’t strong enough . . . and especially if they were alone. In the end, I found freedom with the help of true friends,” spoke Cobran. “My love, young Sparrow here, and your brother, Nosedive.”
“He risked everything to help us escape,” said Dive, solemnly.
“We know he took Sparrow to safety, but why did he leave you?”
“Wait a minute! The, -uh, you know-ah, Med.-scan showed that Sparrow had a broken leg at one time; about, ah, three years ago. So, you know, that means he must have been in the prison camp infirmary, right? Trusting that you Saurians took care of your maltreated- I mean- injured workers?” sputtered Tanya.
“Yes, we did,” Cobran replied evenly.
“What are you at?” asked Jax.
“You had easy access to Sparrow, but Nosedive was in the jail cell. Was his being in a guarded area too ‘complicated’ for you? Or maybe you just didn’t want to be bothered by the other prisoners begging for freedom?” snapped Victoria.
“Of all the stupid--“ muttered Nosedive.
“Maybe you were really planning to use Sparrow for a hostage,” suggested Mallory.
“Y’know, maybe I don’t need to tell you what happened. You’re pretty good at making up your own twisted little versions. Are you going to listen to me, or not?”
“Take it easy, little bro.”
“Fine, go on,” muttered Mallory.
“To get to the point, they freed *everybody.* Maybe I shouldn't have told you the long story. Maybe I will later. The important thing is, if it weren't for them, I would be probably be dead and so would about 500 other people. Good enough for you?"
"Why didn't you rescue *everybody* on the whole planet, Saurian?" shot back Victoria.
"Why didn't you, madam?" said Cobran evenly.
"Jeez, Vic, he and Jax gave 500 people back their lives! What else do you want him to do, save the galaxy?" snapped Dive.
Vic stared back at him, her expression cold. Dive sighed.
"You’re going to have to save the whole *universe*, bud," Dive told Cobran wryly.
"So, after you got away, you still managed to free the whole camp?" Wildwing said, trying to bring them back to the subject.
"Yes. Not with our own talons, but we supplied beryllium chips to a group of rebels, which enabled them to breach the security system of the mine prison. I give credit where credit is due to the rebels, since their skills were greatly needed in a procedure like this. They did all the work of it and were successful as we had hoped."
"One more question. If all this is true, why are you here? What made you crash?"
"Ah, that. We've been pursued by many bounty hunters, sent by Dactylar to kill us for our betrayal. Dragaunus would be after us with his fleet, save for that he feels we are of no consequence. The last bounty hunter followed us here. He or she is the reason we were forced to land, although I know he also crashed, damaged by our gunfire.”
“Great, just great. Now we got a bounty hunter on our hands as well. What else could go wrong?”
Suddenly Drake 1 went off. Tanya read over the reports on Drake 1. “There’s a disturbance at Anaheim mall. Some weird alien craft landed.”
“It might be the one who searches for us. Let’s go,” spoke Cobran, standing up.
“I don’t think so. I’m not convinced you’re on the level. How do we know you won’t attack
us from behind?”
“How do I know you won’t attack us?” Cobran countered, staring evenly back at Wildwing.
“There will be two different teams. One will take the Migrator, the other, the Duckcycles. Who volunteers to go with Cobran?”
“I’ll go,” said Nosedive without hesitation. Wildwing sighed.
“I was afraid you would, little bro. Anyone else?”
“I volunteer,” spoke Grin, silent until now.
“Okay. You four take the cycles. We’ll take the Migrator.”
The other ducks filed past, Duke, Victoria, Mallory, and Tanya glaring suspiciously at the two Saurians and Nosedive. Neither they, nor Nosedive, flinched. “Come on, guys and gals. We got us some bounty hunter tail to kick.”
Cobran and Jax grinned at him. His strength and loyal friendship had done much to soothe and relax them from the events of the hectic day. But, the day wasn’t over yet.
Sparrow ran after them and threw his arms around Cobran. “I want to go with you! I can fight!”
“You must stay here, Sparrow. Get some rest. We’ll be back soon.”
“But - “
“Sparrow, you will fight when the time is ready. Not before. You cannot grow up to become a warrior if you do not live to grow up at all.” Sparrow recited this last part along with Cobran, knowing it by heart. Nosedive hid an amused smile.
“Okay, I guess. Will you tell me what happens? Everything?”
“Yes. I promise. Everything.”
Sparrow smiled, then walked to the couch, stifling a yawn. He was more tired than he thought from his long journey.
Meanwhile, Wildwing and the others were arguing in the Migrator as Wing got the engines started up.
“I don’t understand why you didn’t lock them up in the brig. What if Dive and Grin get killed?”
“And how do you know that?” demanded Victoria.
“Dive trusts them. I trust Dive. If he knows what he’s doing -“
“Ha! That’ll be the day.”
“Y’know, if we get stabbed in the back by that scale-bucket, Nosedive would still protect him. I can’t understand why he thinks more of those Saurian murderers than us.”
“Maybe because those ‘Saurian murderers’ saved his life and Sparrow’s, and risked their lives to do so. And one thing more. Take Sparrow. He’s eleven, right? And still whole. He’s not afraid of them and, Saints, he loves them like father and mother. I’ve seen it in the way he looks up at them. He respects them,” Wing shot back, suddenly angry.
“Maybe they’ve brainwashed him.”
“Yeah like they ‘brainwashed’, Dive? Come on, you guys! Use your heads! Dive isn’t under any influence, much less Sparrow, whatever you’d like to believe. I’m willing to give Cobran and Jaxara the benefit of the doubt.”
“Fine with me. Just so long as no-one gets hurt,” replied Duke. Wildwing sighed and kept his attention focused on the task ahead.
However, he knew that if Cobran and Jaxara turned on them, it would be Dive who got much of the blame. It was getting harder; protecting his brother. Wing himself wasn’t sure he believed the two Saurians, but for Dive’s sake, he was willing to give them a chance. They arrived at Anaheim mall to meet with chaos. No-one had been hurt-yet- but everyone was in a panic that would soon change that factor.
With dread, Cobran and Jax saw the people’s antagonist. Nosedive paled as he, too, recognized the Saurian bounty hunter, former general, and overseer of a certain well-remembered prison camp.
“C-Cobran . . . is that who I think it is?”
“I don’t believe it! Dactylar!” Cobran hissed in surprise.
“Dive, don’t tell me you know this guy too!” yelled Mallory, over the noise of the uproar.
“I wish I could answer you no, but unfortunately, yes. I do know him.”
“I suppose you’re going to tell me he’s friendly too?” Victoria asked, sardonically.
“Uh, pardon my French but, hell no!!”
Dactylar turned at the sound of the young duck’s voice and his eyes gleamed. The screams of the people faded as the humans crowded out of the mall area.
“Firedrake. I can’t believe my luck! Along with the new Resistance and two traitorous Saurians at my disposal.”
Nosedive glared back, defiantly. “Care to finish our fight or are you going to run away like a coward again?”
Dactylar hissed and fired his weapon at Nosedive. Dive was not anticipating this, but Cobran saved his life by pushing him out of the way and taking the laser bolt on the forearm. He roared in pain and fell to his knees.
“Cobran, you okay?”
Cobran didn’t have time to answer, because another bolt was on its way. This time Wildwing deflected the blow with his ice-shield.
Dactylar hissed in fury. While Jax tended to Cobran, Nosedive and the rest of the Ducks fired at Dactylar. He shielded himself as best as he could, but six against one were tough odds. The battle was interrupted by a greenish glow as Wraith appeared beside Dactylar.
“I thought you could use some help, General.”
“Wraith! High Sorcerer to Lord Dragaunus! Such honor is not worthy.”
“Oh, do hush up and come with me.” Before the Ducks could do anything, the two Saurians had transported themselves to the Raptor.
“Everyone all right?”
“Everyone but Cobran. How bad is it, Jax?”
“He needs medical treatment for the burns. He’ll be all right.”
“Thanks,” said Nosedive, bandaging Cobran’s arm with gauze from a First Aid Kit in the Migrator. “If it wasn’t for you and Wing, I would have been a goner.”
“Wildwing saved my life as well as yours.”
“It’s what friends do. Help each other,” said Duke, crossing his arms.
“Then it’s decided. Cobran and Jaxara are our friends,” said Grin.
“You said it yourself, Duke.”
“Ah, you’re right. Look Cobran. Sorry for not trusting you and Jax at first. I was kinda edgy and . . . “
“It’s all right. Nosedive and I didn’t get along at first sight either. We both learned to open our eyes and see past our anger and hatred.”
“Yeah, right,” snorted Mallory.
“Uh-oh. We still got a doubting drake on our hands.”
“Make that two,” said Tanya.
“I’m not convinced he’s on the level. Three,” said Victoria.
Cobran nodded in understanding. “What my people did to you was wrong. You must have been truly hard-hit by the attack to be so doubtful of me and Jax.”
“Well,” Mallory muttered, looking uncomfortable. She had lost much, but compared to what she’d heard from other tales, she considered herself lucky.
Tanya shuffled, feeling the same as Mallory. But neither were willing to let their guard down just yet. Victoria stood stone-cold, unmoved as was her character to be. That or her impossible bigotry.
“There’s nothing we can do about Dactylar. We better get Cobran back to the infirmary.”
At the infirmary, Tanya checked Cobran's burn, washed it and wrapped it in a fresh bandage. "You'll be fine," she said. Although she didn't like Cobran any better, she was still a doctor and Cobran was her patient. Her honor in this task was inscrutable. "They'll be some ah, skin peeling and maybe some pain later on, but just keep that arm from bumping into anything."
"I will be able to fight beside you if Dactylar causes trouble right?"
"Nuh-uh. Not if you want that arm to heal."
"So now we're supposed to stick our necks out for *their* battle? *That* sounds fair," growled Victoria. She turned to glare at Dive who had just entered. "And as for *you*, if one of us dies fighting that creep it's gonna be *your* fault. Got that?"
"Would you j - would you just get lost?" stuttered Tanya, in exasperation. She was getting fed up with Victoria picking on everyone not on her side. Victoria didn't care if the Saurians were good or bad. She cared more about being proven right. It was really quite egotistical.
"Yeah, go shopping or something. Relax, Vicky. You are *so* uptight. Cobran and Jax are cool, like I told you before."
"Don't call me Vicky!!!" she squawked, then turned sharply on her heel and briskly strode off.
Dive muttered something under his breath. Tanya cast him a disapproving glance and told him to watch his mouth.
After she left, Sparrow came bounding in. "Cobran, Cobran! You got hurt! I knew you shoulda let me come along, I woulda knocked the stuffin out of 'em."
"I'm sure you would have, Sparrow."
"Can I come next time?" the eleven-year old pleaded, hopefully. Dive had to smile.
"No, Spar. We need you here."
"What good am I here? That bossy lady won't let me do anything."
"Oh, that's just Vicky," dismissed Dive. "Hang with me and we can do lotsa stuff."
"Ever read comics?"
Nosedive gave a mock gasp of horror. "You poor deprived child! Hey, I got some comics in my room. I'll let you borrow them while you're here."
Sparrow grinned. Whatever they were, comics sounded sorta fun.
Just then Drake 1 went off.
"Aw, the third time today. Don't those villains ever catnap?"
"All right team, let's go!" called Wildwing.
Cobran got up to walk to the Migrator.
"Ah, and where do you think you're going?" scolded Tanya.
Jax put an arm on Cobran's shoulder. "I think it best you stay with Sparrow. If it's Dactylar, I'll help fight."
"But you could be harmed, love," argued Cobran.
"It's a chance I will take. Take care."
"You take care as well." Cobran kissed her and watched as she walked out of the sickbay. "Watch her back, Dive. For me."
"I promise, Cobran. She won't come to harm."
* * *
"I am very disappointed in you, Dactylar."
"But my lord, I had the Resistance in my grasp ---"
"Then why did you not deliver it to me? The Resistance took the Master Tower down shortly after Nosedive escaped your camp. And because of their presence on this planet, we are forced into hiding. And now you bring me news that more of our kind have betrayed us to stand by them? And you permit them to live? They know everything about us as well as they know ourselves...our strengths...our weaknesses...our
technology...they could share this information with those blasted ducks!"
"My lord? I have an idea . . ." said Wraith, suddenly.
"What, old one?" Dragaunus snapped.
"The ducks can't possibly accept working with Saurians. They've suffered too much at our hands to be so forgiving. Should we tip the scales . . . perhaps we can turn them further against each other."
"What do you suggest?" asked Dragaunus, intrigued. Wraith smiled. It was good to be appreciated.
* * *
"All right, we gotta stop going for every signal we get, bro. I mean, come on, a poodle stuck up a tree? What kinda disturbance is that?"
"We have a duty to protect this planet, little bro. And that includes poodles," Wildwing said, trying to be stern, but smiling nonetheless.
"Okay, okay, I get your ---whoa, watch out!" Dive yelled as an object materialized in the road. Wildwing swerved to miss it. The drone turned and ran for a warehouse on the nearby docks.
"Let's get after it!" Wing shouted. "Dive, Jax, come with me. The rest of you stay. It could be a trap."
"I'm with ya, bro. Come on Jax!" Victoria barred Jaxara's way.
"Why her? Surely one of us could do better."
"I would much appreciate it if you leave the choice to me, Victoria," said Wildwing, the eyes of the Mask glowering. Victoria was wasting their time. She brought her hand down and Jaxara leapt out of the Migrator and ran beside Dive and Wildwing after the drone.
The warehouse was dark when they entered. Obvious sign for a trap. "Wing, I don't think one drone is worth it. Let's go back," said Dive, uneasily.
"You're right. Let's - aagh!" Wing yelled as he was hit from behind. He crumpled to the ground, unconscious.
"Bro!" yelled Dive. Jax gasped and looked up as a net fell on them. Nosedive struggled fiercely then cried out in pain. The net was made of sharp fibers and cut him when he fought.
"Stay, still, Nosedive."
"Ssss -- aaoow . . . aah . . where's Wing?"
"Wildwing is the least of your concern," sneered a cold voice. Dactylar.
"You . . . what do you want?"
"It's not what I want. It's what Dragaunus wants. He after all has the same goal as I do. To see you dead along with your leader and these traitors." Dactylar kicked Jax hard. She gave a cry of pain and Dive seethed, furious.
"Leave her alone, jerkweed!"
"You'd do best to shut up." Dactylar, along with his two prisoners, transported back to the Raptor.
* * *
"Ohhh . . . I said 'no', Phil . . . "
"Hey, Tanya, I think he's comin' around," said Duke, peering hopefully at Wildwing.
"What - where's Dive and Jax? Are they okay?" Wing demanded. Seeing the worry on Duke's face, he sat up hurriedly and then wished he hadn't.
"Lay down, Wildwing, you have a concussion," scolded Tanya, pushing him down gently.
"What happened, Duke?"
"Uh . . . I'm afraid Dactylar got them."
"WHAT?!" roared Cobran, who had just walked in. No-one had told him what happened.
"Hey, easy, Cobran," assured Duke, "We'll get them back."
Cobran was not so easily reassured. "Dactylar is no fool . . . There is a plot behind this. Else why would Dragaunus leave Wildwing unharmed?"
"Unharmed?" griped Wildwing, massaging his aching head. "I think not."
"Well, still alive then."
"Good question. He missed an opportunity to strike," said Mallory.
"But he got Dive and Jax."
"I'm worried about Jaxara. The penalty for betrayal is death."
"Well what about Dive?!" screeched Victoria. "He's in this too, thanks to you!"
"Victoria!" half the team yelled in shock and anger.
"It's true. And now he cares only about his girlfriend!"
Cobran's eyes narrowed. "I care about both of them. I know this, Dive will live longer than Jax, for he is undoubtedly a hostage. They are both in considerable danger, but Jax's life may be much shorter -lived if Dactylar and Dragaunus intend to kill her for betrayal. Or perhaps they will use her as bait for me and Dive as bait for the rest of you. I'm not certain. One of the Saurian's strengths is unpredictably. It often causes them to win in battle."
"Like the invasion of Puckworld for instance?" Victoria said sharply. Cobran sighed heavily.
Grin had heard enough. "Victoria, I often choose peace over violence, but if you don't shut up, you will find yourself being able to talk through the back of your head."
Victoria shut up, either chastened or in shock that she was actually *being* chastened.
"Right. So we need to do something unpredictable in order to get Dive and Jax back."
"What is predictable of your manuevers that you can avoid?" asked Cobran.
"Well, anything in the script is predictable, so let's torch that sucker," joked Duke. Wing gave him a sour look. "Okay, that was lame. I'll tell you what's predictable. Waiting for Dragaunus to contact *us* in hostage situations. We ought to be acting sooner."
"And doing what?"
"Tanya, is there anyway you can hook something up that will immediately trace the location of Dragaunus if he should contact us?"
"Well, sure, but first I'd have to invent a tracer then hook it up and that can take, ah, you know, weeks."
"You don't have to invent anything." Cobran reached into his pocket and pulled a small object out. "This is a tracer used by guards to find soldiers if they go AWOL, like me and Jax. Each soldier has one practically sewn into him from the moment he joins the army."
"Yikes. I'm never complaining about tight army boots again," muttered Mallory.
"With Jax's help, it was removed and several parts were taken out that can easily be replaced."
Cobran pulled a small pouch with the necessary chips in it from the small device. "That way, it can be used again, should we ever need one. Tanya, you can use this to find the Raptor when Dragaunus contacts us."
Wildwing nodded in approval.
"Will do," Tanya said, and went to work.
"Wait! What if that thing has a virus in it that will wipe out Drake 1's configuration?" Victoria squawked. No one thought it worth their while to answer her.
* * *
"Nggh!" Dive hissed as the bonds sliced into him, thwarting him from twisting his wrists free.
"Don't do that," Jax said worriedly as she noticed a thin stream of blood trickling down his arms which were stretched above him and held by the glass-fiber bonds. Dive's legs were tied together and he was held in this position flat against the wall of the Raptor. Jax was tied only by her wrists and her ankles and left next to Dive on the floor. She didn't know why they hadn't both been simply killed by now or thrown into a cell, but she certainly didn't like the way it was looking.
A door slid open and Dragaunus walked in, his glaring eyes glancing from Dive to Jax in a mixture of contempt and smugness. "So, we've captured a brat and a traitor all in the same day. My, aren't we lucky."
Dive got a look on his face that meant he was about to say something smart-ass.
Dragaunus knew it well and before Nosedive could speak, the Saurian calmly put a clawed finger to his throat, adding pressure until the young teen flinched in pain.
"It really isn't worth it. Make one sound of disrespect, and your voice box will be experiencing a first class flight to the other side of the room." Dive gulped and nodded that he understood. There was a time to be a smart-ass, and a time to be smart. This was one of the latter.
"Ah, Jaxara. How is it that such a delicate flower could be such a devious traitor?" Dragaunus crouched before her and reached a talon out to stroke her face. "If you were on my side, you'd be keeping your life much longer . . ."
"Why am I not dead already? What do you need me alive for?" snapped Jax, cutting to the chase. Traitors were killed on the spot in Saurian society. There was no mercy, and no time for the traitor to gather any thoughts or pray for their souls. Betrayal to the Saurians in times of battle was worse than any crime imaginable on their planet.
"Yo, Jax, don't remind 'im," Nosedive muttered.
"You have a very special role to play, my lady traitor."
"Which is?" Jax tried to keep her voice steely, but she was afraid this 'special role' was going to involve Dive.
"You're going to kill Wildwing's brother." Dragaunus grinned maliciously at her.
There was a silence, broken by laughter. Jaxara was laughing in Dragaunus' face.
Dragaunus' grin turned to a dark scowl, but Jax seemed oblivious. "Me? Kill Dive? Impossible."
"Oh it's simple really. If you don't kill him, he'll die by the process of *D'Nai*."
Jax's laughter was cut off as suddenly as a scythe cuts a wheat stalk and she went very pale. "No . . . Lordras no . . . " she murmured. "Not the D'Nai . . ."
To be Continued...