The first shocker came the next morning with Mallory. Cleech passed her in the hall, and she gave him a look of death. Well, not so much of a shocker. Mallory wasn't the friendliest of ducks, but then, neither was he. But he barely glanced at her as she passed, and she suddenly snarled at him.
"What are you staring at?!"
"Huh?" He'd barely registered her being there, on his way to the kitchen for a snack.
"I saw you! Trying to pick a fight? Huh?! What are you looking at?!?"
Cleech blinked, then stared at her quietly, wondering if her should respond.
"Well, no. Sound more like ye are, lass."
"I'M NOT A LASS!!" She punched him in the stomach, hard, and stalked off. Cleech leaned against the wall, gripping his gut painfully and staring after her wide-eyed. What in Drake's name was that all about? After a few minutes, he decided to write it off as PMS and continued on his way to the kitchen.
It was early on a Saturday morning, so he didn't expect too many of the other Pond occupants to be awake yet. Mallory didn't surprise him, those military types were always like that. He was a little surprised to find Wildwing and Tanya both sitting at breakfast, but not so much as to pay them a whole lot of attention. He stuck his head in the 'fridge, looking for something worth eating. When he poked his head out to ask who'd eaten all the leftover macaroni, he frowned.
Tanya and Wildwing were staring at each other dreamily, apparently locked up in their own little world. Cleech looked from either duck and decided not to ask. Kids.
The face on the viewscreen was cool and composed. A saurian male in his midyears, he had all the air of one in power.Draganus cleared his throat, trying to hide his anxiousness.
"Grand Admiral Talon. How may I be of service?"
The Grand Admiral nodded a greeting.
"You mentioned difficulties with your C.B.U. As this is it's trial run, we need to know exactly what kind of 'difficulties'you speak of."
"Ahh...Well, Spectre is showing signs of rebellion."
The Grand Admiral frowned.
"We've been having a few difficulties with our own units. However, your mission is too delicate to allow a malfunction C.B.U. to ruin progress."
"I understand, lord," Draganus said, repressing a sigh. How did things always end up as his fault?
Talon raised an eyebrow.
"I wasn't reprimanding you, Overlord. We do not blame you for Spectre's problems. However, the Empress has decided that things are moving too slowly on your part of the Multiverse. She has voiced the need for her own personal touch in this assignment."
Draganus nodded, only half paying attention. As long as he wasn't in- wait, did he just say...?
Draganus gulped....hard. "The Empress...is coming here?" He asked, turning a shade paler. Talon curled his lip slightly, hisexpression a cross of amusement and distaste now.
"Don't flatter yourself, Draganus. She has sent royal heiress Dagger as her spokesperson."
"The same. You will treat her with respect. We hope her stay will be as brief as possible, but she is bringing a second C.B.U. along, to update and check the stats, as well as assist Wraith in the adjustments."
"Understood. Please relay my gratitude to her majesty."
"I will. Talon out."
The screen went blank. Draganus snarled.
"Just what we need around here. A snotty inbred blue blood female telling us what we're doing wrong!" He snarled again and blew up a drone. Seige kept quiet, refraining from pointing out that Draganus was a blue blood himself. Draganus sighed.
"Well, may as well get some quarters prepared for her. A good report won't hurt, at least. Seige, inform Wraith of thenews." Draganus gestured to a couple of drones and left the main bridge.
Seige commed Wraith and told him what had happened. Wraith frowned, looking thoughtful.
"The last I saw of Dagger, she was just a child!"
"That was a while ago, Wraith. She must be well into her nineties now."
"Yes. I suppose. But that is still young, royal heiress or not. Do you suppose the Empress is sending her as part of her training?"
"You're asking me? I don't mess around in blue blood affairs."
Wraith smirked. "You should. You never know when information will come in handy...or be life preserving."
Seige snickered. "I'll keep that in mind, Wraith."
"H-hey...." Leon coughed. The teen paused giving him a puzzled look.
"You okay, man? You don't look so good...."
"Heh...yeah. I...umm, what did you want?" Nosedive grinned again and pulled a small animal out of his jacket.
"Check it out...."
Leon got a split second of blue eyes and gray fur, and suddenly found himself holding his bleeding face in shock. The cat made a loud sort of shrieking sound as it attacked him, jumping from Nosedive's arms with all the fury of a rabid devil.
"Sonuva--!!!" Leon backed away from the hissing animal, almost falling over his bed. There was blood all over his hands, and he could only imagine what the thing had done to his face. Nosedive stood there like a dummy, staring wide-eyed from Leon to the cat. He seemed to struggle with something internally, then grinned, a dazed look in his eyes.
"Geez, man, I guess animals don't like you, huh?" He scooped the cat up and walked out of the room, leaving a flabbergasted and bleeding Leon to stare after him. The shapeshifter shook his head, trying to make some sense of what had just happened. His face stung terribly. The animal had taken a good chunk of skin along with it.
"I....guess not," Leon mumbled, suddenly feeling sick again. Something was definitely wrong...
Grin playing a video game? Cleech shook his head. This was getting weird. And that made him very, very nervous. The buff duck had Streetfighter, Tekken, Bloody Roar, Mario Brothers, and many more games stacked up next to him, his face practically glued to the TV screen. Cleech stared at him a moment, trying to find a reasonable explanation for it.
Duke entered the rec room at that precise moment, his beak in a book. CLeech almost sighed with relief...he didn't like L'Orange, but then, he didn't really like anyone (except for Raye, of course), and at least there was someone here with a cool head on their shoulders.
The bounty hunter opened his mouth to ask Duke if he'd noticed anything strange lately, when he realized what Duke was reading.....
A romance novel. The reformed thief had a dreamy look on his face. That kicked it. Cleech slowly backed out of the room and all but ran to Raye's quarters. Without even thinking he opened the doors.
Raye blinked at the sudden light pouring into her room. She glanced at her clock. 7:40 AM. On a Saturday.
"Who...Cleech? What are you doing?" He simply moved to her closet and began pulling out clothes. He threw a suitcase on her bed. Raye sat up, confused.
"What...What's going on?"
"D'ye still have that teleporter?" He asked, dumping some clothes into her suitcase. She blinked, watching as he moved to retrieve more of her things.
"Uhh....yeah. I do. What are you--?"
"The others...have gone mad. We're gettin' outta here, goin' back t' Puckworld, before whatever sickness got them gets us too."
Raye blinked, looking amused. She sat up in her bed, clasping the sheets to her chest.
"You actually thought of someone besides yourself in an apparent threat? Awwww....I'm so honored."
"Whatever," Cleech snarled, trying to close the suitcase. Maybe he'd packed it too full...some of the stuff was hanging out the side. Raye let the sheet drop, grabbing both his hands and pulling him forward.
"That's so....sweet..." Cleech's eyes widened, as he realized for the first time since he'd entered the room that she wasn't wearing a strip of clothing. He quickly backed off.
"Err...wait a minute lass..."
She sighed dreamily, and he recognized, to his horror, the fogged-over look in her eyes. The same look everyone else in this madhouse had...
"I just love it when you call me that...."
Cleech gulped and stumbled backwards out of her room, hitting the control panel on the way out. The doors hissed shut and he slumped against the wall, a defeated expression on his face. Raye had gotten it too. Nothing he could do now...except wait.
The brown duck picked himself up and returned to the rec room, cursing himself and his luck.
"Danny had to leave. I'm filling in." The man said simply. Charlie glared at him, but couldn't think of a response. He knew something was wrong...
Charlie blinked. What the heck was he thinking? Of course nothing was wrong, and this pizza was getting cold.
"Well, get going! Time is money already! This one's fer The Pond...Down on--"
"I know where it is."
"Oh. Hockey fan huh? Good for you. Now get your ass moving!"
The stranger left. A few minutes later Charlie blinked again.
"Hey.....wait a minute...." He shook his head in confusion. He snarled and stalked out toward the men's room, where he knew full well his usual delivery boy was probably taking a moment for a cigarette.
"Boy, when I get my hands on that kid Daniel...he's gonna wish his momma never--" Charlie broke off, choking on his own words. There was a hand lying on the ground, poking out from beneath one of the stalls. It was lying in a pool of dark blood.
Charlie gulped and hesitantly opened the partially ajar door. The sight that met his eyes sent him screaming...he'd found Daniel. Or what was left of him.~To Be Continued. Wheee!!!!