Then there were those extraterrestrial attacks. Mrs. Robbinson knew that those hockey people, those ducks, or geese, or whatever they were, were supposedly helping them (the humans) keep safe from the evil aliens, but personally, she'd rather have no ducks and no monsters at all.
As her walk brought her near the end of the park, she noticed a huddled figure sitting on one of the numerous benches, wrapped in newspapers and looking in a terrible condition. Feeling in a "good Samaritan" mode, she approached the person.
"I say, are you alright young man?" She asked him. He looked fairly young, maybe in his early twenties, though these days it was hard to tell with all that surgery and things people did to themselves. Not natural, that stuff. His hair was blonde and hung in his face, not a bad-looking face, to tell the truth, and he looked lean, but well-muscled.
"Yeah, yeah, jus' fine Missuz Doubtfire. Nevah bettah," he muttered in a high voice completely unsuiting to his face. He had a strange variation of a Brooklin accent, with a touch of something else. Well, she had time, and she was curious, for boredom's sake.
"You'd do well to speak with respect to your elders, boy. What's your name?"
"Um, name? Um.....Leon."
"Who gives a--" He noticed the warning look on her face, "Um....I mean, Leon, uh, Leon Charter. Um."
"Well, Mr. Charter, why are you sitting there, looking like your mother died? Have you eaten recently?"
"Er.....Look, lady, buzz off, willya? I'm trying to work out a plan here...."
"To borrow an American expression, 'like hell you are.' Normally, I'd leave without a second thought for such rude behavior, but I'm in a giving mood today. Would you like to join me for a late lunch?"
He hesitated. Food sounded awfully tempting, but there was something definitely on his mind keeping him from accepting right away. Her curiousity grew.
"Well, okay. But no funny business, kapeesh?"
"I wouldn't dream of it. I'm originally from England," she told him as they left the park together, "but my husband and I traveled her by boat some thirty years ago. Ah, poor Harold died a few years back. Things have been terribly quiet since then. Where are you from, boy?"
He didn't answer right off, instead staring up at the darkening sky.
"Very far away, lady. Very far."
She injected the liquid into Canard, and it quickly began to take effect. Sweating like a spooked horse, the former leader, began to relax, though his eyes remained in the same, panic-stricken state.
Tanya did the same thing to Lucretia, with the same effect, eccept Lucretia seemed a little better than Canard.
"Taunnie....what happened?" Wildwing asked, snapping down metal restraints on his friend reluctantly. Tanya shrugged irratably.
"What, am I a seer as well? They just started screaming!"
"You didn't notice anything prior?"
"Nothing. We were discussing what to do about Cleech at the time."
"Oh. Figured anything out?"
"Like maybe shooting him out the nearest ejection tube?" Duke suggested hopefully. He recieved glares from Wildwing and Raye.
"I -- uh, we are going to build him a cybernetic arm, to replace the one he lost against Spectre."
"Speaking of which, who the heck was that?" Wildwing demanded, remembering the strange saurian.
"Got me. I met with him once, back on Puckworld. Just before Cleech and I teleported out of there, actually. The odd part is, he was blown to smithereens, as far as I know. There's no way he could have escaped the blast, without his wristport, which I took the opportunity to relieve him of in battle. There's something seriously screwy about him. He claimed to be Wraith's son, though they don't look anything alike, and I don't remember seeing anything about him in the Saurian files back on Puckworld."
"Me neither," Wildwing sighed. He turned to the rest of the team. "You guys go ahead and clean up and get some rest. We have practice first thing tomorrow morning, battle or not -- don't give that look 'Dive, you're in for it as it is! See ya tomorrow, team."
A few mutters of good night (though it was early evening), and the rest of the ducks departed, leaving Wildwing, Raye, Tanya, and the three hospitalized ducks (including Cleech, who'd been put under to keep him out of pain) alone.
"As for you two, I don't want to keep you from completing your tasks, but get some rest. You've had a rough couple of days, Raye, and you only just got here. Don't over do it."
"Hah! This is nothing compared to life on Puckworld lately. I just hope we succeeded in destroying the biggest of the problems. Maybe the feuding will calm down after this..."
She didn't sound too hopeful, though there was definitely a more cheerful sound to her voice than he'd become accustomed to in the past couple of days. He took this as a good sign and nodded a good night, giving his friend a last, worried look, before heading off to his quarters. Raye sighed.
"Well, I guess we better get to work, Doc," she said to Tanya. The older woman nodded in long suffering fashion. She was glad to have another cool head around.
"What do you think caused them to do that?" The blonde duck asked, checking Canard's temp.
"I thought we'd already determined that neither of us know."
"I know, but, uh, an, uh, you know, off-record guess?" She was starting to stutter again, and reminded herself to speak slower. That always helped.
"Off-record? Well, With as long as they were in dimentional limbo.....Ah, never mind"
"It's stupid....just a theory, really."
"What if they have some sort of link to that place? Limbo, I mean? Nobody really knows much about it, right?"
"So, what are you saying, exactly?"
"What if, having been there, what, over a year? What if they formed some kind of connection, and when Limbo is disturbed, say, by someone transporting through it, or tearing a new rift, or something like that, they feel it as well?"
"Um, an interesting idea, but even if it were plausible, why didn't it happen to Draganus and his kind? They were there a lot longer."
"In a safe zone, protected by by machinery and magic! In an official prison in the middle of Limbo, Tanya. These two were out there, being battered around by raw anti-matter, tele-particles, and who knows what else!"
"And you? How did you get through? You had no ship."
"I already told you. I don't know. Cleech doesn't know. I don't remember anything of that. And maybe that's what Limbo does: takes pieces of you away the longer you stay till there's nothing left but a burnt-out, babbling husk. Eventually, it may even consume that. No one knows. There's been too little study of Dimentional Limbo. We know way, way too little about it too make any positive analysis."
Tanya frowned and glanced at Cleech.
"Well, I guess. You, ah, better get to work on his arm. I think I have some cybernetic blueprints in the second drawer to the left over there. Most I think are of eyes -- Duke's eye has broken down once or twice, and I ended up fixing it. They didn't put that in any Disney eps though....I guess they thought it too graphic for young watchers. I think it's educational, but hey, what do I know? Anyway, I think there are a few on limbs as well, that ought to get you started. I'm going to stablize these two and get some rest. Don't stay up too late."
"Yes, mother," Raye replied, giving her a smile. Tanya left the Medbay, and Raye retrieved the 'prints she wanted. For the next hour or so, she studied, measured, and made adjustments for the arm. It wasn't till about nine-thirty at night that she glanced up and realized she was no longer alone with the invalids. Grin was standing in the doorway, giving her a cold, level stare.
She returned the look, not the least bit intimidated. For several minutes, they stared at eachother, unblinking. Then Grin spoke.
"You've told them nothing?"
"I see nothing to tell, Grin. Nothing at all."
He scowled, completely out of character for his usual, docile manner.
"Why now, Raye? Why here? Of all the places you could be...."
"I don't remember asking you to sign up for the first Strike Team. Personally, I see no reason why we can't let bygones be bygones--"
"You know better."
Raye sighed and returned to her blueprints.
"It's been a long day. I don't need to hear this--"
"And me? I think I'm owed a little explanation, a little something!"
"I owe you nothing, Grin." Raye bit out each word painfully. "Nothing at all. Not after what you allowed to happen. Now leave me be."
"What I--?!" He stood up, looking indignant and angry, a terrifying thing to behold in such an enormous form. He stormed over to her, standing bare inches away. She looked a bit unnerved, but stood her ground.
Silence roared between them. Finally, Grin backed off.
"I will not be the one to tell, Raye. Our status remains as is was three years ago."
"I wouldn't have it any other way," she returned calmly, and proceeded to ignore him completely. He hesitated at the door, then walked away, fuming.
Somewhere, a place difficult to really determine, because no map can ever tell you the same thing twice about it, the King and Queen of that place noticed a Presence. It was a disturbing Thing, that Presence, and though far enough away not to be of danger yet, They worried.
"Shall I send out the Sisters?" The Queen asked her husband. He shook his head.
"No", He said, "This is no job for them. Only One knows how to deal with The Progidal. You know Who I'm speaking of?"
"Of course," The Queen said, feeling a bit anxious. She did not like that One who he referred to. She was very, very old, though one might not guess it, looking at Her, and He frightened her, and she knew the King feared Him as well. But He was their allie, and more importantly, their only hope if things went bad. And if this Presence was the same as They remembered, it would get very, very Bad.
"Very well. Call out the Wild Hunt."
The Queen hoped this turned out well.
Raye blinked against sudden light shining in her eyes. Nosedive was standing in her doorway, looking way too perky for seven AM.
"I thought I'd get out of it for a few days, till I'd settled in," Raye said, dismayed. She was an average hockey player, for Puckworld (which is pretty good on our world!), but she didn't feel particularly up to it this morning.
"And you'll be getting just that," Wildwing said, appearing suddenly to give his younger brother a light kick in the rear."Go on, get outta here, 'Dive. She'll be joining us when she's ready....hopefully in a week or so?" He directed that last toward Raye. She shrugged and nodded at the same time.
"Sure, I suppose."
"Well, as long as you're up, stay up. Might as well get used to our schedule. Later!" He hurried after his brother. Raye yawned and got up to shut her door. She gave the blueprints she'd left scattered across her desk and the floor a ponderous glance, then stretched and went to take a shower.
Mallory had been nice enough to lend her some clothes -- blue jeans and a T-shirt. After she was dressed and refreshed, she went in search of the kitchen. Maybe there'd be some coffee left over (what else could Nosedive be using to be that energetic in the morning?).
When she got there, she found Phil talking, rapidly, to someone on his cellular. He paused momentarily to practically sing "Good Morning!" before returning to his call. Raye searched the fridge, wondering what was customary breakfast material here. Various liquids of different color filled the refridgerator, as well as bread, cheese, meat, and something in a tupperware dish that had yet to be named by science. She looked at Phil helplessly, and he seemed to take the hint.
"Well, I gotta skiddadle, Boobella, but keep in touch! Remember, I'm here for you." He turned the machine off and faced Raye.
"Sorry, babe, I forgot. It was the same way when the others got here. We're all out of cream cheese, so you'll have to settle for cereal." He showed her the pantry, which was stock-piled with tall, rectangular boxes. Cereal?
"Out of curiosity's sake, what do you guys eat for breakfast on your world?" Phil asked.
"Lately? Anything we can get our hand on."
"Oh. Sorry, babe."
"Right." He pulled out a bowl and spoon for her.
"You want milk with that? It's one of our sponsors, so you really should drink it...."
"Fine, whatever. Could I get some caffeine?"
"No problem," he said cheerfully. Another morning person. He poured her a mug, and she began to eat. And he began to talk.
"Now, I've been thinking, baby, about some advertizements -- nothing major to start with, of course --but I can see you doing a lot of the latest fashionwear. You have a fantastic figure, by human standards, though your hair needs some work -- looks like it's been hacked at by someone with a big, dull knife --"
"No offence. It's a good length, just needs a trim. Also, you'll need contact lenses for your eyes."
"What? Why?" Raye asked, through a mouthful of Cheerios.
"Well, I think yellow eyes would creep a lot of people out, and blue would be a lot more striking--"
"Or gold, if that's what you prefer--"
"What are you talking about? My eyes are brown!"
"Nuh uh," he said, pulling a handmirror from his wallet and handing it to her. She stared at her self, confused.
"But....they were brown. I remember them being brown..."
"When was the last time you had a look in the mirror, baby?"
"Uh, a real look? Not since I met Duke first time around."
"Wow. That's almost two years, huh? Wow." Phil looked like he didn't want to believe her. Raye was too shocked to try to prove herself. How could her eyes have changed? They were brown, before!
Phil merely shrugged, having seen much wierder things happen in the past year.
"Well, easily remedied, with some colored plexiglass. Sorry, gotta run Babella. I have to sue someone in half-an-hour, then cancel some meetings and make some new appointments, which reminds me I still need to make that call to the manager of Mall Market...." he continues muttering to himself as he left. Raye shook her head. Humans were strange.....
She finished her breakfast and walked down to Medbay to check on Cleech and the others, coffee in hand. Once she was satisfied that they were resting comfortably, she found her way out to the rink and sat watching the Mighty Ducks' practice session, sipping her java contentedly. It had been far too long since she'd gotten a moment without being paranoid or expecting a droid attack....
Watching Wildwing, she noticed that he was an exceptionally good goalie. Either that, or the rest of them stunk at hockey, and considering it being as much a part of their lives on Puckworld as taking a walk down the street, that was unlikely. No one was getting a shot in past the young leader.
Nosedive glanced up and noticed her watching in the stands. He paused to wave brightly and was immediately checked by Mallory.
"Eyes on the game, Rookie," she said, grinning triumphantly at him.
"Well, I guess I bin told," he grinned back, and took a swipe playfully at her as she skated away.
"Foul!" Wildwing called. Nosedive frowned.
"Shit, I was just--"
"Go on," Wildwing said sternly.
Raye's respect for Wildwing stepped up a knotch. He didn't make exceptions, even for his brother. Nosedive skated over to the penalty box, and turned around to talk to Raye.
"Hey, 'sup? You gonna play or what?"
"Maybe later on. I'm still a bit jet-lagged, to tell the truth."
"Oh, man, it's been so long....." he looked distant for a moment. "Too long. I miss my friends."
"There's not much to go back to at the moment, Nosedive."
"I know....Hey, I've been meaning to talk to you about that photoshoot thing....what happened, I mean. When the saurians attacked, you were fighting Wraith, and....I saw..." He didn't seem to know how to explain it. Raye nodded.
"You know Wraith is a sorcerer..."
"There were also studies of magick on Puckworld."
"You're a witch?" He looked impressed, mostly out of teenage vigor.
"I really hate being called that. Sorceress, wizardess, magick-user. Whatever. Witch has a bad reputation."
"Then you know magick?"
"Cool. Can you show me something?"
Raye started to respond, but Wildwing called 'Dive back into the game right then, stopping her.
Fifteen minutes later, Wildwing called the session to an end. Tanya skated over to Raye.
"How far, uh, did you get? On the, y'know, limb?"
"I finished making adjustments on the 'prints. Added some here, altered a little there. Put some finishing touches. It's ready to be built."
"Great, I'll, uh, make a stop at Lectric Land to get the materials. I think Mal's heading to the, uh, Mall, if you, you know, wanna go with."
"Thanks. I need some clothes." Her coffee had gone cold, so she stood and followed Tanya and the others back into the Main Bay.
"Did you check on the others?" Wildwing asked, refering to the three in Sick bay.
"Yeah," Raye said, and took a sip of coffee, forgetting it was cold already. She made a face.
"Okay....that was cute."
"Whatever. I'm heading to the mall with Mal, if that's okay with you....and her," she added, glancing at Mallory who'd overheard. She shrugged like she didn't care one way or another. Wildwing nodded assent.
"'To the Mall with Mal,'" Nosedive repeated. "'To the Mall with Mal....'" He began to repeat that, singing it like some kind of show tune. Mallory threw a puck at him.
"Knock it off, wiseguy. You need to go re-patch that crack in your sanity again."
"Uh, oops. Maybe I should cut down to a couple pots a day, huh? Speaking of which, you gonna finish that?" He nodded at Raye's mug.
"It's cold," she told him in warning.
"Thass okay, he's killed off the majority of his tastebuds with those triple spicy tacos he's always eating," Duke muttered. "I doubt he knows the difference."
Raye handed him the mug and followed Mallory out the door. Nosedive gleefully downed the rest of the coffee, to the morbid fascination of those present.
"God, you're nasty, 'Dive."
Leon was still asleep on the sofa. The poor guy seemed wiped out, and terrified, once she'd gotten through his shell. Something had happened to him recently, she could tell, but he'd been pretty vague the whole time. It sounded like he was a scientist, or an inventor of some kind. He mentioned, once or twice, tools and computors in his mumblings. He had a lot of wise-cracks up his sleeve, and was pretty closed off. He reminded her of her son, who'd died of AIDS a couple years ago.
She decided to wake him up. Sue walked over and gently shook him.
"Mr. Charter? Leon, wake up, it's half-past eight," she said. He blinked and fell off the sofa, confused.
"Sorry, Lord, I wasn't.....oh, it's you. Hey, Toots, 'sup?"
"It Mrs. Robbinson, young man. Sue, if you're my friend."
"Okay, but I'll have to know what the offence was if I'm going to press charges."
"Very funny. Are you hungry? I've made pancakes--"
"Why are you doin' this, lady? I never did nothin' for you, 'least not that I know of. Say, this isn't one of those Karma coming back to bite you in the butt things, is it?"
"Not for you, it isn't," Sue sighed. "I'll go set the table. You take a shower, and I've left some of Harold's clothes out for you while I wash your old things."
He started to say something and thought better of it. A few minutes later, 'Leon Charter' stood under a rush of warm water.
"What to do, what to do," he repeated to himself, morphing back to his true form. Chameleon rubbed his neck, frustrated. Nice lady down there, but The Highlord forbid she ever know his true nature. She'd probably hit him with a broom or something.
He almost kicked himself. This was no time for jokes. Draganus would never just let him go, not after open betrayal. That bit with Atlantis had been a pure stroke of luck. He wouldn't get it, this time. If the Overlord caught up with him, he was as good as dead already.
Chameleon finished showering and morphed back into his Leon Charter form. Time to play the befuddled bum again. Nice lady.....
To Be Continued.....
Author's Note: There are a great many preludes in this chapter that will not be continued till later stories. The last sentence refers to a story I call "The Wild Hunt," which won't appear for some time, though you'll certainly hear a lot about it before that. "Traitors" has another purpose, aside from annoying the heck out of you! Stay tuned.