"So Canard had returned. What of the other ducks with him?"
"One was Lucretia Decoy," Wraith said, staring at the ground. Canard wasn't the one who really bothered him.
"The other two were a Eastsider duck and a Southerner, like Grin," Chameleon finished. Draganus glanced at Wraith, who was still staring thoughtfully at the ground. This was getting very old.
"Alright, Wraith, what do you know?" The Overlord demanded. The wizard chewed the inside of his cheek. Bad sign. This went against everything he knew about the sorcerous saurian. Draganus was actually fascinated now.
"The Southern duck, Lord. She's not what she seems..."
"Do tell," Draganus urged him on. This was beginning to get interesting.
"You remember, during the Invasion of Puckworld, that the majority of the population were kept alive, as we intended to keep them as slaves?"
"It was not like that for all the population, you'll remember."
"Right. I remember. That orginization of....something. I don't recall what, exactly. You said they had to be destroyed. That leaving them alive would mean my ruin. So I bombed them. So what?"
"The Southsider...she's one of them."
"What? Are you sure? How can you tell? The orginization was composed of ducks from all parts of the world!"
"I know. But she is one of them, the last of their kind. Which makes her all the more dangerous."
Draganus thought for a while. This wasn't good news. Anything that could ruffle his wizard this much had to be bad. But his mind was already trying to figure out how he could benifit from this.
"Tell me more about this organization, Wraith..."
All the same, Raye opened her eyes, blinking in a surprisingly bright light. Long months spent in darkness had made her eyes very sensitive to this kind of brightness. Where was she?
She glanced to her left, then to her right, her eyes still partially closed, so as not to alert anyone too quickly who might be interested in her death that she was awake.
She was in some kind of medical lab, that much was certain. Hospitals all look the same, to a degree, with only a few variations. This one didn't look like it belonged to the saurians....oh, right, now she remembered. Those other ducks, Cleech, getting kicked out of nowhere.
Now she was annoyed as well as uncomfortable. She tried to sit up, and found her wrists locked in place. This was getting tiresome.
Raye considered the armlocks. It would be so easy to.....no.
Before she could finish that thought, the door nearest her hissed open, and a blonde female walked in. She noticed Raye was awake and did a double take.
"Oh, d'uh, um, hang on!" The older woman said in a nasal voice. She sounded like she had a cold. The blonde duck turned on her heel and jogged back out, only to return a couple minutes later with a tall male duck. This one Raye recognized. The Northsider who's brother Cleech nearly aced. He was minus the Mask now.
The male pulled up a chair and sat down near her head.
"Sorry about the confines," he said, actually sounding sincere. "I didn't think it neccesary, but Mallory would've thrown a fit and beheaded somebody."
He said that deadpan. Raye raised an eyebrow but didn't respond. he cleared his throat, looking a little embarrassed.
"Your friend said you knew something about dimentional teleportation?" He asked, then frowned.
"Jesus, I'm sorry. That's rude. I'm Wildwing. And you are...?"
"Raye. I take it you're the Wildwing of the original stike team?"
"You could say that. Look, I, uh, I wanted to thank you. You brought Canard back. I was sure he was dead. I don't know how you did it, but I'm indebted to you."
Raye glanced over at the other medical beds, where Canard and Decoy were laying, unconscious but breathing evenly. Decoy was strapped down similarly to herself. Raye looked back at Wildwing.
"You show an odd way of gratitude. I am not your enemy."
"Right," he said, reaching over and unlocking her confines. Raye sat up and gave Wildwing a measured look.
"It wasn't me, you know. Cleech was the one who insisted on bringing Canard along when we found him. He was the one who brought him through."
"I hope that's true," Wildwing said. "We've been keeping him in solitary confinement, after he attacked my brother."
"May I talk to him?"
"Why not. If you can convince him not to blow one of us another hole, we'll let him out."
Wildwing led her out of the med-lab and to an elevator shaft. They traveled several floors in silence, then stepped off at a level slightly less brightly lit than the others. Raye felt a bit more comfortable here, truth be told, though she doubted that was the intention.
"Did it take long to build this place?" She asked of the tall male. He looked thoughtful, trying to remember how long it had taken exactly.
"A couple of months, really. Tanya's pretty good about design and building things. Well, heheh, most of the time, anyway," he chuckled, remembering that episode with the Mega-Migrator and Daddy-O. Easy to laugh now. He hadn't been amused at the time.
"Drake1 was built in a day, though, I'll give her that."
"Our master computor. I'll let her show you her baby though. Here we are."
He stopped in front of a doorway, flipped open the side panel and punched in a code. The door hissed open, letting the two in.
"We don't often take prisoners," Wildwing explained apologetically. That was self-explanitory. There were only four holding cells.
"One for each saurian, eh?" Raye observed. Cleech was being held in the first one. He sat on the edge of his bed, sulking. When he saw Raye and Wildwing, he jumped to his feet and stepped up to the energy field keeping him inside.
"Raye! Did they brainwash y', Lass?"
"No," Raye replied, a little sarcastic. She eyed him sternly a moment.
"If you promise to behave, they'll let you out, you know."
"Yeh, so'm easier t' kill!"
"Right....how does that work, may I ask. They could just gas your cell or something. You wouldn't stand a chance," She replied, a half smile on her face. Cleech frowned, that not being the most pleasant of thoughts.
"This isn't Puckworld, Cleech. These ducks were never part of the feuding, nor do they even know about it."
"They could be lying. How do you know they're talling the truth?"
"Because I recognize some of them as members of the original strike team, which left over a year ago, and ended up here. Cleech, these ducks were gone before the feuding even began!"
Cleech considered that. He glanced at Wildwing, then leaned closer to the field.
"Okay, Raye. I promise not t' harm any o' them, unless the' attack me. Satisfied?"
"Indubiously. Wildwing? You can let him go."
Wildwing immediately walked over and punched in the code to lower the containment field. Cleech stepped out, gave him a disgusted look, and moved closer to Raye.
On the way back up to the main level, Wildwing's com beeped.
"Yeah?" He said, flipping on the view screen. his younger brother, the one Cleech'd attacked, was on the other end.
"Jus' callin' to let you know, Duke's back."
"Where is he now?"
"Shit! Now what?"
"Why don't you find out on your own?"
Wildwing glared into his com. "I'm on my way up."
He flipped the communicator off before Nosdive could say anything else.
"I was going to say the same thing before you came," the older duck replied, nodding at the other occupied beds.
"It's a long story," Wildwing said coldly. "You'd know it if you'd actually been there when you were needed."
"Hey," Duke said, defensively, "I would've except I had to stop a mugging, single-handedly!" He winced as Tanya pulled a strip of bandage tightly and cut it. "Ugh, no pun intended."
Wildwing softened a little.
"Why didn't you call for help?"
"Because he's an overly-macho, stubborn sonnuva-bitch," came a voice from behind Wildwing. Duke's eyes widened.
"No way," he said, as Raye stepped into sight.
"Duke. I'm pleased to see you've survived." She said, actually smiling at him. The former thief stood, nearly knocking Tanya over.
"Raye! Kid! You're alive! That's great!"
"I'm glad you think so," she said, then was suddenly and unexpectedly swept up in a bear-hug. Wildwing and Tanya glanced at eachother, surprised by this display of affection from the usually reserved older duck.
"Jesus, lemme look at you," Duke said, setting her down and holding her at arm's length. Raye looked embarrassed.
"Pretty as I left you. How's Callie? Still playing the mother hen, heheh...Raye? How is she?"
Raye glanced away.
"Oh," was all Duke could say. He suddenly became aware of the other ducks in the room.
"You know her?" Wildwing asked.
"Tha's pretty obvious, don't y' think, Lad?" Cleech's voice came from the doorway.
"Ouch," Wildwing winced, realizing how stupid that really had sounded.
"I was her mentor," Duke explained briskly. "How did you get here, Kid?" He asked Raye.
"Yes, why donnae y' explain that t' alla us?" Cleech piped. He recieved some glares, but Wildwing spoke up.
"Actually, I think it's a story we all need to hear. Tanya? Can you get the others to gather in the main bay? We'll finish with Duke here, then meet the rest of you. And take Cleech with you."
Tanya frowned, but followed her orders. Cleech smirked as he followed her down the hall.
Cleech sauntered calmly down the corridor, ignoring the suspicious glare he recieved from the red-head broad...what was her name? Milly, Melony, something like that. Who cared anyway?
Raye was just getting settled into her quarters. Not that much settling was required, considering that fact that they both had, well, nothing to their name, aside what was strapped to their body. Cleech simply walked in, not bothering to knock on the half-open sliding doors. Interestingly enough, Raye was simply sitting on the corner of her bed, her sword in hand, staring down at the blade. She was quickly pulled out of whatever she was thinking about at his appearance. The older duck leaned in the doorway, looking falsely nonchalant.
"How can I help you, Cleech?" She asked, matching his coolness.
"Interesting story y' told back there. I found it quite entertainin'. Pity it wasn't true."
"Wasn't it?" She asked, a strange look of warning creeping into her eyes. Cleech stared at her a few minutes. She met his gaze evenly.
"Alright," she said finally. "Close the door."
His eyebrows shot up.
"What's this abo't, Lass?"
"Close that door and I'll tell you."
He hesitantly complied. The thought of being caught alone in a room with a minor made him a tad nervous.
However, he soon found that wasn't his biggest concern. No sooner were the doors closed shut then did he suddenly find himself spun around and pinned against the wall, Raye's sword held poised to strike.
"Here's a word of warning: you will go by no other story than what you heard in the Main Bay or your blood will decorate more space than even you, dear Bounty Hunter, thought possible. I only give one warning. Clear?"
"Like crystal," Cleech retorted coolly, showing no emotion whatsoever. Truth be told, this was turning him on a little. How sick was that? The older duck quickly pushed those thoughts from his head and focused on the situation at hand. Raye kept that pose a moment more, then stepped back, sword still at ready. Cleech held up a hand in defense.
"I'm afr'id I must d'part, milady," he said with the utmost composure. "If ye'll excuse me?"
"Be my guest," Raye said, lowering the weapon but still keeping her eye on him. As he left, he couldn't resist turning around a moment more.
"Strong little thing, aren't ye?" He said, grinning. He barely managed to avoid being skewered by the flying blade thrown in his direction. Laughing, the older duck hurried back to his quarters.
"I don't know. Raye has always been distant, hard to read."
"Where do you know her from?" Wildwing wanted to know. Duke sighed.
"Just after the Invasion, after the Brotherhood was scattered, I befriended a young military commando by the name of Callie McDrake. Nothing serious, just a mutual situation. She'd dug Raye up from some rubble somewhere....she was pretty vague about the whole thing. I dunno. Anyway, the kid was in bad shape, kind of out of her head, if you know what I mean. I helped clean her up, but there didn't seem much we could do about her shattered mind. I mean, she just laid there, never moving, babbling to herself all the time, her eyes real wide....like she wasn't really there. I think, in a way, she wasn't.
"I kept trying to bring her out of it. I think, at the time, that I thought that if I could help this one girl, I had a chance at turning my life around, you know?"
"Yeah...." Wildwing said slowly. "I felt the same way about 'Dive after the Attack. Sorry, go on."
"Well, I kept this up for two or three weeks, not sure if she'd ever really come back to herself. Then one day, I was telling her a story...I don't remember exactly. Something that had happened to me once. It as supposed to be funny, and I was really trying to pass the time till Callie got back from Headquarters. And suddenly she just stopped muttering and looked at me. I mean, really looked at me. It was the creepiest thing, 'Wing. I'm not kidding. So I stopped talking and looked back, kinda shell-shocked.
"And she just opened her mouth and said 'so then what happened?' Just like that! Like nothing had ever happened. You can imagine Callie's shock when she got back to our shelter.
"Her progress after that was incredible, though she never spoke much. I started teaching her to use a sword and, well, the sort of things you learn from the Brotherhood. She was the fastest pupil I've ever had. I daresay she's better with that sword of hers than I am now.
"It was her that really got me interested in the resistance. I mean, sure, Callie was part of it. She was typically military, but she never really tried to get me to help. I guess she decided that I wouldn't be interested, being a thief and all. Maybe she was right, to a small degree. But Raye expressed a strong desire to join, ultimately dragging me in as well. And she got in, through sheer extent of her capabilites. The officials were impressed, I won't lie. She...she can do these things, 'Wing. Wierd things, like, I dunno, magic. Things with her mind.
"She really wanted to be apart of the first strike team - our team. Raye never said so, but I think she resented that I got to go and not her. But she was too young....."
"They sent her on the second strike though."
"Yes, they did," Duke said, narrowing his eyes. "She's just a kid...I can't believe McMallard would pull something like this...."
"He sent me, didn't he?" Mallory stated bitterly, making her presence known. "His own blood..."
"Sorry kid. Didn't know you were back there. You weren't meant to hear that...."
"It's okay, I already knew my father was a bastard anyway. And don't call me 'kid'."
"You got it, Mal-Mal."
Mallory gave him a rare soft look. "She's like a daughter to you, isn't she? That's really cute...."
"You're despicable, but yes. In a way she is."
Wildwing wasn't listening anymore. Canard's pulse and brainwaves had fallen into a rythmic pattern once more, but he still was in a coma, and neither he nor Decoy showed any sign of returning anytime soon. Wildwing wished he could have known what happened there, in Limbo.
Better yet, he didn't considering the state of his best friend. Canard had been the strongest person he'd known, Puckworld or anywhere else for that matter.
A year. A whole year spent in Limbo. Regret began to tug at his soul. Why hadn't he tried to do something about this? Could he have?
Tanya interrupted the chatter of Mallory and Duke, and Wildwing's thoughts, by walking into the room.
"H-hey, uh, I took a look at the Mask, um, and I, like, could- uh, couldn't, you know, find anything. It's fine now, whatever happened earlier."
She handed the contraption to Wildwing, who looked puzzled, momentarily distracted.
"Must've been a glitch, I guess. It's never happened before, though."
"Well, like, just don't hope it, you know, happens again." Tanya said, a half-smile on her face. She retreated then, returning back to whatever work she still had. Mallory and Duke likewise left, leaving Wildwing alone for the moment, aside the vegetables.
That's a mean thought, vegetables, it occured to him. He must've picked that up from Earth. He didn't remember ever hearing that sort of reference on Puckworld. But then, there were a lot of things he'd forgotten, so that was okay.
His thoughts turned to Raye. She did seem young. Real young, yet real old too. Kind of scary. Real different from his brother, though they seemed pretty close in age.
Nosedive chose that moment to enter. He gave his older brother a half-grin.
"Hey, Bro'. How's he doin'?" The younger of the two asked, nodding at Canard.
"The same," Wildwing sighed.
"Hey, he'll be okay, don't worry. Canard's the sort of pain in the ass that doesn't just go away, you know?"
"Kinda like you." Wildwing retorted.
Nosedive gasped in mock-pain and grasped his chest.
"Oh! He got me! Ugh! Gettin' darker....darker....Hey, by the way, we have a photoshoot in ten minutes. Just lettin' you know, since I figure it'd be better if Phil didn't have to come down here himself. I doubt it would help the invalids much in their recovery, you know."
With that said, he turned on his heel and walked out. Wildwing shoot his head in amusement and stood to go. He glanced one more time at Canard.
"Take it easy, okay? I'll be back soon, I just have to take care of something...business as usual, eh good buddy? Hang in there..." he told his friend before departing.
Wildwing arrived at the top floor to be greeted with the sight of Phil shoving a contract in the two new ducks' faces. Cleech looked genuinely terrified, and even Raye looked a little ruffled.
Oh shit. This was their first human, too. Great way to be introduced to a species....provided that Phil actually was human.
"Um, Cleech, Raye, allow me to introduce Phil Palmefeather, our manager. Just ignore him and he'll go away," the team leader said, getting between Phil and the two ducks.
"Hey! I have big palns for these two! Disney'll start a fresh season for sure with these two on the team! Come on, Boobella..."
"Later, Phil. Listen you two, I doubt you want to see what's coming, and I have to leave behind Tanya and Grin anyway, to watch after those two down in Med Bay, so you have the choice of staying or coming with."
"Come with," Raye said, with surprising decision. To the curious looks, she responded, "I'd like to become acquainted with this new world as soon as possible."
Wildwing noted a knowing smile from Duke and nodded.
"As you wish. And you, Cleech?"
"Hmph. Th' lass has a point. I'll come with, I guess." The older duck said, shrugging. He seemed strangely docile now, compared to his behavior before. Spazoid, Wildwing thought, a word he'd heard his brother use.
"It's your funeral. It's a mall shoot, so I guess that's a beginning. Come on, then."
All the ducks, with the exception of Grin and Tanya, piled into the Migrator and drove off, unaware of what laid in store for them...
To be continued in Chapter Three...