Where's my fish?
Like now, for instance. He knew he was supposed to be posing for this mall advertisement, which in and of itself wasn't so bad...What was bad was that Phil, always looking for a way to wheedle more money out of people, had come up with some absurd reason for not having them in one back ground or another. Naturally, the photographer wanted that background in particular and refused to make the shot unless he could use it. The mall's manager was fretting over the whole deal, and Nosdive knew full well that Phil was enjoying every minute of it.
"I absolutely won't stand for this! This is the only background that will work with all their colorings! I refuse to do it any other way!" The photographer said, putting his foot down.
"Oh dear..." the manager said, rubbing his neck.
"Would you do it for a thirty percent raise per duck?" He continued.
We have lift-off, Nosdive thought.
"Well...I suppose, if my clients don't object," Phil said, looking dramatically at the ducks. Wildwing, who was leaning against the wall with a bored look on his face, just waved a hand at him, signalling he really didn't give a chipped hockey puck one way or the other.
Nosedive envied the two new ducks, Raye and Cleech, who were wandering the floors of the new mall, free. They probably wouldn't be so for long, if Phil had any say in it, but for now they were off the hook.
As for the objects of his jealousy, Cleech was walking with his hands stuffed deep in his pockets, a sign that, for those who knew him well (though none on this planet did), meant he was tense. This world was too strange, compared to the one he was used to. Even before the raid, he'd lived in the roughest areas of the world, avoiding the busy city life of the busy city ducks. He was a good enough bounty hunter that he knew how to adapt temporarily to different surroundings -- for whatever hit he was on called for. But when he had the choice....
Besides the fact, the few humans present today were making him doubley nervous. He hadn't come across many alien species in his time....some raptors*, occationally, back on puckworld, though very few of those appeared after the Invasion, the little bastards. Humans were, by far, the ugliest he'd seen besides the saurians.
He glanced at Raye who was far too calm as far as Cleech was concerned. She glanced dispassionately at the shops they passed. Most were open, but it was the middle of the week, so their main customers wre probably in school still. It was only eleven thirty, but Cleech was getting hungry. He hadn't eaten the breakfast offered him in his cell, too paranoid to accept anything offered him by a Northsider, and now that he thought about it, he hadn't eaten since before the assault on the tower at Twin Beaks! Was that really only two days ago? If Earth time went the same as Puckworld, then yes. Raye had been out of it for a day, though she hadn't realized it till he mentioned it on the way. He doubted the red-head's attack had anything to do with it. He'd seen the strain that whatever had happened in Limbo had taken on her. She was exhausted. He wondered if she was hungry as well.
Wildwing had given them some spending money, muttering something about "...at least you won't spend it on comics..." and flashing a venomous look at his younger brother. Cleech decided to let that one fly, a little surprised by the Northsider's generousity to someone who'd attacked that same brother twenty-four hours earlier. Maybe Raye was right...
Cleech pulled out a couple of bills, wishing he knew what this world's currency exchange rate was to Puckworld cash. He smelled something edible coming from just ahead and glanced at Raye again.
"Let's get something t' eat," he said decidedly, not wanting to leave any room for argument. He really couldn't imagine why she'd argue though, and she didn't.
"Sounds like a plan to me..." She replied, and they picked up pace a little. The sight that greeted them was amazing to their eyes, so used to the harsh times of war. The mall broke off into a four-way split here, and directly in the intersection were several shops of fastfood. It smelled heavenly.
"Which one?" Asked the practical-minded female.
"Uh....All o' them?"
"Yeah right....I doubt there's enough money for all of them, not to mention your eyes are way bigger than your stomach, Cleech." Raye responded, giving him a sarcastic look.
"Well....let's try that one with th' big yellow arches o'er there," he said, gesturing at a brightly colored shop.
"I dunno, that clown is pretty scary," Raye said.
"Aw, c'mon...." Cleech said, never one to deny his stomach. He grabbed her arm, ignoring her attempt to pull away, and dragged her over to the counter.
The human behind the counter did a double take, but quickly collected himself.
"Ahem...Welcome to McDonald's. May I take your order?"
"Actually, I'd rather take th' order, if'n y' donnae mind, lad," Cleech said. The human looked confused, and Rayr rolled her eyes.
"Your sad attempts at humor fall on deaf ears, Whip-boy."
Raye took command of the situation.
"Two of those up there," she said, waving at a picture menu. The human nodded, grinning perkily, and typed in the order. Thirty seconds later, two bags were produced, containing to order.
"No way thass real," Cleech said in awe. He peered into the bag and found, to his joy, that he was wrong.
"That'll be three-eighty-five," the human said, holding his hand out expentantly. Cleech produced several bills from his pocket and looked at them in perplexity. The human writing was alien to him.
"Um, here," he said, handing the bills to the human, who looked at him like he'd gone mad.
"Don't you have anything smaller?" he asked the duck.
"Um...." Cleech looked at Raye helplessly. She shrugged, no more able to interpret the money than he. The human sighed.
"Eight hundred, then," he said, typing up numbers on his registure. Cleech and Raye glanced at each other, now actutely embarrassed. The human produced their change, which Cleech stuffed into his pocket.
"Thanks for buying at McDonalds, come back soon," the human said, perky once more.
"You think they train them to be like that?" Raye asked as they sat down at some tables to enjoy their first meals in a while. Cleech shrugged.
"I hope not," he replied, pulling out a suspiscious looking object. It looked like a round sandwhich, stuffed full of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, some kind of sauce, and a meat patty. Cleech bit down, chewed a moment thoughfully, them grinned and swallowed.
"Dig in," he said, chomping down on another mite, this much bigger. Raye was eyeing her drink. It was some kind of cold, dark liquid that bubbled spontaneously when it was moved. She wasn't so sure she wanted to try it. However, she did try the meat sandwhich, and found it surprisingly good, though it had an oddly fake taste to it at the same time.
"I wonder what they use..." she said between bites.
"Who cares?" Cleech responded cheerfully, guzzling down some of the drink that Raye had decided to avoid. His reaction was interesting.
"Whoa...." His eyes widened. "It kinda burns, but it's sweet too." He took another gulp, this a bit smaller.
"Not bad, though."
"I'll pass," Raye decided.
"Suit y'self," Cleech shrugged, finishing his sandwhich and starting on some greasy strips of what may have been potatoes once. He finished these remarkabley fast as well, then stared predatorily at Raye's food till she handed him her own potatoe strips in exasperation.
"I'm not that hungry anyway," she muttered, watching him eat in horrid fascination. She handed him the rest of her sandwhich and watched him gulp down her drink as well.
"Shall we go? We can always come back," Raye said, standing up. Cleech followed suit, giving a final, longing stare at the other food counters. Still so much to try....
They headed back towards the other ducks, having seen as much as they wanted to see (well, except the food...), and stood in the doorway of the room where the Mighty Ducks were being photographed, perplexed amusement on both their faces.
What a strange world, Earth was....
"Okay, smile for the camera...Duke, baby, come on! You can look more sexy than that..." Phil was saying. Duke looked more than a tad annoyed and really humiliated.
"C'mon, Duke, look sexy for the camera!" Raye said, a half smirk on her face. Duke glared at her.
"Watch it, Kid, or I swear I'll--"
What ever threat he was going to use on her was cut off by an explosion that knocked half the people present off their feet (these mostly consisting of the humans and a couple of ducks who will go unnamed to preserve their dignity and my life). Several drones and two saurians appeared in the dust and broken mortar.
"Wraith and Chameleon!" Wildwing said, as they all quickly switched to battlegear.
"Thank god," Nosedive muttered.
"Nice effect," Cleech said, staring at the newly appeared armor. "When d' I get mine?"
"Not the best time to discuss this, Cleech," Raye said, whipping out her ducksabers. Cleech noted that there were now two hidden ducksabers in her keeping. Where she kept them was the real question...
Smooth as ever, the Eastside duck snapped his whip in the direction of one of the drones that was getting a tad friendly. It's head and body fell in seperate directions.
"One down," he said, bowing to Mallory, who rolled her eyes and blew the head off another robot. This was a suspisciously small number of drones to be sending against them, the red-head thought. Was Draganus up to something or just being sloppy?
Duke was immediately at Raye's side, feeling a sort of paternal protection over her. She didn't much appreciate it, however, and had already cut through three drones, making a beeline for the saurians.
Oh shit, Duke thought. I should have known....
Wraith, for his part, waited patiently as the young female duck cut her way to him.
Finally, they were facing each other.
"So we meet at last," the saurian smirked.
"You must be Wraith," Raye shot back. "I have a message from your son. He said to send his regards."
"I have no son," Wraith returned, then lashed out with a fireball before she could speak again.
"No!" Nosedive shouted, seeing what was going on. Then something that he would never forget happened. Raye was standing too close to dodge the fireball quick enough. But she didn't try to, and the flames -- evaporated around her!
Wraith didn't seem surprised however. If anything, he was satisfied.
"Just testing," he said coolly.
"That wasn't very nice," Raye said, narrowing her eyes. The saurian looked a bit unnerved but stood his ground.
Chameleon jumped her, in the form of a rather frightening monster with very long claws, which tore open her upper arm.
"Shit!" She snarled in pain, as blood began to pour from the wound and down her arm. The saurian shapeshifter had her pinned to the ground, but she quickly remedied that by kicking him in the crotch.
"Eeeep! That wasn't fair!" Chameleon said, his voice about three octaves higher than usual.
Ignoring the agonized reptile, she leapt up and threw herself at Wraith, coming in contact with his torso and sending them both into the corner of the room. A brief struggle insued, which, it looked to Nosedive, strange though it seemed, to be over Wraith's staff! He managed to knock off a couple more drones, then hurried over to help her.
But suddenly, to the shock of all, the battle ended as quickly as it began. The last few drones disappeared, along with Chameleon and Wraith, in a hiss of smoke.
The ducks looked at one another in confusion.
"Something's wrong," Wildwing said. "We better get back to the Pond. That was too easy, even for a Disney episode!"
His com beeped, and he answered it. It was Tanya, obvously concerned.
"Don't worry, stay there," he told her. "We're okay, I think." He turned the communicator off and looked around for his brother, who was helping Raye to her feet. Her arm was bleeding terribly from the claw marks, and she was trying to stop it, gripping the place and grimacing. Red liquid seeped through her fingers.
"Hey, 'r' y' okay, Luv?" Cleech asked, striding over to her and bumping Nosedive out of the way. The latter glared balefully at him and sulked.
"Peachy, Cleech. Just fine," Raye snarled through clenched teeth. He looked concerned, however.
"Sorry about the mess, sir," Wildwing said to the manager, who was hiding behind some of the disgarded backgrounds with the photographer. "Phil'll pay for it."
"What?" Phil's head popped out of some bushes.
"Let's go," the young leader said, heading for the exit and the Migrator. Raye's arm needed cleaning and bandaging, and he didn't feel safe in the open anymore.
Chameleon limped up to Lord Draganus as soon as they were back.
"Mission accomplished -urgh!- sir."
"The tracker is in her bloodstream then?"
"As ordered." The shapeshifter was in too much pain to try to make a joke. He limped away to heal himself and his dignity.
"And you, Wraith. What did you find out?"
"Nothing that I didn't expect, lord, except, perhaps, one thing."
"And what might that be?"
"I don't think she knows, lord. Not entirely. But I'm not yet certain. I'll have to study her further."
"There will be plenty of time for that, if this new tracking system of yours works. We have only to wait for the right moment to make our move now."
"Indeed, my liege. If you'll excuse me, sir, I must make preparations. She won't be an easy one to hold, no matter what she knows."
"As you will, Wraith."
The sorcerer departed, leaving Draganus to smile to himself. Things were beginning to look better already....
Nosedive was still trying to accept what he'd seen. He was pretty sure no one else had noticed that fireball thing -- they'd all been a bit busy saving their own butts. It was so hard to believe....
He watched, leaning in the doorway of the Med-bay, as Tanya wrapped a gauze around Raye's arm. The cut had been clean to the bone, unfortunately, and Raye didn't look at all happy about it.
"Dammit, that's my sword arm," she complained.
"You use two swords," Duke pointed out. Hewas dressing a minor burn on his leg he'd gotten from a laser shot by one of the drones. Nothing too serious, but it would probably sting for a few days. Cleech had pulled up a chair and was watching intently as Tanya bandaged Raye's arm. The younger female looked annoyed by the attention.
"Is that neccesary?" Raye asked, glaring at Cleech.
"Jus' mekin' sure she does it right," the older duck replied.
"Yeah, right. I saw where you were looking, and it wasn't at my arm!"
Cleech feigned horror.
"Y' would accuse me o' such a thing, lass? I'm truly insulted, luv. Truly!"
Raye gave him a strained look, but Tanya ruined the effect by giggling. Duke gave Cleech the old 'I'm gonna have to talk to you later' look, so the latter decided to retreat for the time being. Tanya finished up and snipped off the extra gauze.
"Uuuuall right, that outta hold till, uh, well, you should, uh, get it replaced in, um, if the blood starts seeping through, okay?"
"Got it," Raye said, standing up and leaving the medical bay. Nosedive picked up stride with her.
"Hey," he said, not sure how to start.
"Hey," she replied, not particularly in the mood for conversation.
"Um, I don't think we've really formally met, but...I'm Nosedive."
"Right......Uh, can we talk?"
"We are talking."
"You know what I mean."
Raye sighed. This one was insistent. There was obviously no getting rid of him, and by the look on his face, there was something more on his mind than the obvious.
"Fine. Where would you like to go?"
Nosedive hadn't expected that. He racked his brain for a moment, coming up with some places they could go. Captain comics wasn't a good idea, because he didn't really want Thrash and Mookie in on this yet ('yet' being the operative word), and he thought it best to avoid malls for now.
"You wanna go to a movie or something?"
She looked surprised.
"They have movies here?"
"Sure, doesn't everybody?"
"I suppose all the actors are human as well, hmm?"
"Well, yeah, unless you include the animals. Hey, speaking of animals how about Dr. Dolittle?"
"You're the expert," she replied, wondering what she was getting herself into. She doubted he just wanted to take her on a date, though she realized the poor guy was the youngest duck till she got here, so he had been missing out on a lot of what came natural to his age group because of it. Still, something else in his eyes made her curious. She had a feeling the movie was just going to end up as background noise....
To be continued in Chapter Four! Oooooh I can't wait! The sarcasm is killing me....no wait, that's suspense! The suspense is...oh never mind...