The sounds of thunder shrieked over the city of Anaheim, along with white streaks of lightning in the sky, almost black from the dark gray storm clouds of the pounding rain. Even though the lightning was loud, it didn't touch the city or anything near Anaheim. Raindrops pounded almost as hard as hail upon the streets of the city, as if they were the tears of 10,000 angels. Water from rain puddles splashed onto the streets as people walked in them. One of them was running, running from what or to get somewhere on time, no one knew. The rain boots were made of a leather in the color of white were running in the sharp coldness of the fierce wind, feeling as tormenting as a dagger cutting at a human's flesh. Outside of the leather boots were a pair of dark blue jeans, underneath a gray shirt. Over the gray shirt was a white jacket with the Mighty Ducks' logo on each side. The front side was small, on a breast pocket on the left side of the jacket. On the back, the logo was larger. Above the logo was the name of the team, and on the bottom said the city they represented. The sleeves were black and there was a back lining around the cufflinks. The person wearing the jacket, also had a baseball-like cap on, which had "Anaheim High" on it, embroidered in a golden-yellow color. There was also a black backpack on the person's back, with blue pockets and pouches on the backpack.
Why the young boy was running, no one knew. The shoes of the kid kept stepping in water puddles, while his clothing was becoming soaked like the streets of the city. Running under some shelter of a nearby building with a vacant parking lot, he let out a sneeze. Apparently, the soaking rain and the chill of the wind somehow managed to seep past his skin and into his bare bones. Hoping that he wouldn't catch cold, the young boy entered the Anaheim Pond. Two ducks noticed him entering, one of them slightly over six feet tall with a curly white bang, the same color as the rest of his feathers, and the other a few inches shorter than him, with shoulder-length blond hair, peach feathers and a patch on his beak. The boy took off his cap, having many strands of light cinnamon brown hair, in a pony tail, fell down a bit past his shoulders. That wasn't a boy; it was the human girl that stayed with the ducks! The street-tough tommy, Jessica Lockheart.
"Man; it's POURING out there!" Jessie exclaimed as she removed her backpack and peeled off her jacket.
"So I've noticed," Wildwing said. "Uhhh...Jessie...you're getting water on the floor from your jacket."
"Huh?" Jessie asked. She then looked at her jacket, which was dripping small droplets of rain water. The young tomboy blushed slightly and folded her jacket up to stop the water dripping. "Sorry about that, Wing. ACHOO!" Jessie sneezed, quickly covering her nose and mouth with her hands. She looked up at Wing and Dive, showing a bit of embarrassment in her emerald green eyes.
"Man; you okay, Jess?" Dive asked. "That cold of yours' getting worse by the day."
"I'm fine, Dive," Jessie answered. "It's only a few sneezes anyway. Not like I'm coming down with a flu or anything. It's probably from schoolwork overload. I can easily fix that with the two week vacation from school."
Jessie looked a little drowsy from all of her sneezing. The rain must have caused her cold to happen. Either that, or winter was the time when the common colds would start to kick in.
"Jess," Wildwing started to speak to stop the brief silence. "We just set up the Christmas tree downstairs in the Rec Room of the Pond. Want to go help the others decorate the tree? We'll let ya put the star on top."
"Are Duke and Grin singing Christmas Carols?" Jessie asked with fear in her eyes.
"Race you two down there then!" Jessie burst out ecstatically as she ran down the hockey stadium and to the locker room, which contained the elevator down to the secret headquarters of the secret bottom of the Anaheim Pond. Nosedive laughed while he raced Jessie to the locker room. Wildwing only rolled his chestnut brown eyes while he shook his head at the same time. He remembered back on Puckworld, when he was Dive's age and Nosedive was 10, when they raced to see who get to put the star on the tree first. Dive always somehow managed to become the winner, but Wing got to help some by lifting Dive onto his shoulders so he could place the star on the top. Even though Nosedive grew to big for Wildwing to lift onto his shoulders, they used to have a grand time decorating the Christmas tree with their parents, until the Saurian Invasion, when all the lives of the innocent citizens of Puckworld were changed.
He was surprised when he felt a single tear run down his left eye. Wildwing quickly wiped away the tear and followed Nosedive and Jessie into the Rec Room of their secret headquarters. A song called 'Guess it must be Christmas Time', sung by a famous boy band that Jessica was a huge fan of, *NSYNC, was being played. A large tree, slightly taller than Grin, was shining with tinsel and lights. Decorations covered the entire tree. Candy canes, snowmen, tinsel, cranberry and popcorn strands, and all sorts of ornaments were all over the Yuletide standing timber. All of the tree was covered, except for the very top of it. Gently searching through a box, Jessie, while humming the *NSYNC Christmas song, uncovered the final decoration: the Christmas Star.
The star appeared to have been made of pure crystal or diamond, but was really built of plastic. In the middle of it, was Holy Mother Mary, carved inside the star, carrying young baby Jesus, filled with a silver color. The star looked beautiful, but it would look even more radiant if it was on the top of the tree.
"Jessie," Duke nudged at Jessie. "I know you like the star and everything, but, we REALLY need to put it on the top of the tree."
"I know," Jessie answered. She sat up and tried to put the star on the top of the tree, but she was too small to reach the top. She then tried to jump up, to place the star on the top of the tree, but her plan didn't work, and she fell flat on her bottom. Mallory and Sonica giggled a little bit, seeing how silly Jessie's idea was. The young tommy sat up, wiping off some dust on her jeans.
"If anyone's got a latter, don't be afraid to lend it to me," Jessie replied, huskily.
Grin then bent down and lifted Jessie onto his shoulders. She looked down, a little bit surprised at Grin's volunteering to help out a tomboy from Chicago.
"Hey, Grinster," Jessie started to speak. "What's with the cheery mood all of a sudden, man?"
"When one is in trouble, one must offer his or her assistance," Grin spoke poetically. "Besides, little friend, it's Christmas time. A time when all living creatures are at peace and open their hearts to one another."
Jessie slightly giggled at Grin's remark. Even though he had strength that not even Superman himself could compare with, he was very calm and gentle, like a soft feather or a halcyon breeze. Being careful with the symbol of Christmas, Jessie gently placed the star on the top of the Christmas tree. The symbol of the Christmas spirit now in it's rightful place, Grin gently took Jessie off her shoulders and placed her onto the floor yet again.
"Thanks for the lift, Grinster," Jessie thanked.
"Not a problem, little friend."
"How'd you enjoy your first 'piggy-back ride', Jess?" Wildwing asked.
"Felt...odd, yet....kind of fun. So THAT'S what it's like..."
Wildwing smiled a bit and patted Jessie behind her left shoulder. Half of the time, she talked back and behaved so much like a boy, you would think she WAS a boy trapped in a girl's body. But the rest of the time, even though she was STILL boyish, Jessica seemed like an ordinary little girl, who just needed a little bit of care, love, and reassurance. She looked up at him, smiling slightly.
"Anything else that you want me to do, Wing?"
"How about go upstairs to your bunk and get some sleep for tomorrow, munchkin?" Wildwing suggested. "Maybe then you're cold will subside."
"Cold? What cold?" Jessie asked innocently. "I don't have any--ACHOO!" Jessie sneezed again, covering her face with her hands. She looked up at Wing, appearing drowsy and sleepy.
"THAT cold, Jessie," Wildwing answered sternly. "March up to bed, young lady."
"Yes, Wing," Jessie answered.
Reluctantly, Jessie walked out of the Rec Room, and went straight up to her bunk. Calandra slightly shook her head.
"You SURE you're not her father, Wildwing?" the Russian beauty asked him. "Half of the time you seem to act like it."
"Callie," Wing started. "For the five thousandth time; I AM NOT JESSICA'S FATHER!!!"
"Sorry, Wing," Callie replied, putting her hands up in defence. "But even you have to admit that at times, you DO seem to act like it. You act she's your daughter and all. Half of the time she calls you 'dad' or 'daddy'."
Wildwing slightly blushed a bit and hung his head down so no one could notice Wing's face, starting to turn red, like a cherry. The red in the leader's face didn't go unnoticed by Sonica Thunderbeak, the younger sister of Canard Thunderbeak, former leader of the Strike Force. She looked down into Wildwing's chestnut brown eyes, giggling slightly, her emerald green eyes dancing in the light of the room around her.
"You don't need to be ashamed of feeling that way about Jessie," Sonica comforted him. "I think it's kind of cute that she thinks of you as a father, Wing."
"You...think so, Sonica?"
"I KNOW so, Wildwing."
Wildwing felt a little bit better then, and his feathers turned back from cherry red to sugar white. For some reason, whenever he was around Sonica, he felt this strange feeling creeping up him. Calandra noticed the time on her watch, and was a bit surprised at the time on her chronometer.
"Amazing that no one's sleepy, even though it's nearly eleven at night."
"ELEVEN?!" Tanya gawked as she looked at Callie's watch. "You're right. Now that you mention it, I DO feel kind of....tired."
"Ditto here, man," Dive supported as he yawned and stretched his arms above his head.
"Okay; I think we're all a little bit tired from this Holiday prep thing," Wildwing suggested, hiding a yawn underneath his hand. "So let's all go to sleep right now."
"You guys go on ahead," Callie said. "There's something that I need to take care of first with the tree."
"I'll give ya a hand, sweetheart," Duke offered, taking her hand to his lips and kissed it softly. Callie smiled sweetly and giggled slightly.
"I better leave before I hurl all over the Christmas tree," Nosedive groaned and quickly left so he wouldn't have to suffer through anymore mush. Taking the hint, the others followed, Sonica being the last to close the door. Callie went behind the tree to unplug the lights around the branches and bristles. Unable to resist the urge, Duke snuck up behind her and grabbed her by the hips, tickling her at the very same time. Callie released out a small shriek, then it turned into laughter. Calandra turned around to look into the dark jade eye of her lover, and playfully shoved him back. Realizing her game, Duke snickered and chased after her. Cal quickly dodged him and hid behind the couch of the Rec Room, going left to right to avoid Duke. Unfortunately for Callie, she wasn't fast enough, and the next thing she knew, she was flat on the couch, with Duke on top of her, his deep Keltorian(a.k.a. Brooklyn) accent in a chuckle. Grabbing her by her bare shoulders, he pulled her up so that her cheek rested against his right shoulder.
Calandra then noticed that small green bristles were falling on the top of her hair, black like the feathers of a raven in the pale moonlight. When she looked up, she noticed that Duke was holding mistletoe above her head, with a ruby red bow on top of it. She then looked at Duke again, a look of yearning and lust in her violet eyes. Duke's lips massaged hers, absorbing the sweetness within them, as though it were more sugary than pure sugar itself. Reluctantly removing his lips from hers, Duke dangled the mistletoe above HIS head, as if asking Calandra to kiss HIM now. Taking his hint, Callie softly pushed Duke onto the couch and softly lowered her lips onto his, setting his heart and hormones in a blaze of carnal fire. Without hesitation, Duke's hands found the band that kept Callie's hair braided, and unravelled it, the locks of her raven black thatch covering every part of her back. His roguish hands then started moving up and down her back, up from the edge of her hips and down the base of her neck, while Callie's were draped over his thick neck, her fingers running through his gray hair.
Hesitantly, Calandra broke her lips away from Duke's, for a few seconds to catch her breath, then quickly brought them back down on his again, the two lovebirds sharing yet another attenuated and romantic kiss. Callie slowly released her lips and gave Duke a couple of short busses, but they were enough to drive Duke insane with ecstasy. But he somehow managed to control his hormones and gently pushed Calandra off of him. Her forehead was covered with spots of perspiration running down her head, and they were both breathless. She rested her head on the left side of his chest, wrapping her arms around his neck, while Duke enveloped his around her waist, pressing her body against his, wanting her to feel the strength his embrace.
"God; that felt SO good, love," Callie said, her voice barely above a whisper, still feeling drowsy and breathless.
"Yeah; I know...." Duke sighed, brushing the bangs of his girlfriend's hair out of her face. "If you want, we can go for another, sweetheart."
"It's tempting," Calandra said, taking her head off of his shoulder, staring deep into his dark jade eye. "But I think I'd rather just hit the sack for the night."
"I'll tuck ya in, babe," Duke offered, hiding a chuckle.
"First of all, I told you NOT to call me babe. Second of all, I'm capable of tucking myself in, love."
Duke sighed in depression. But then again, he would have to turn to Callie's point of view for a change. The girl was probably determined to stay a virgin until the day she married, which was possibly, a LONG way off. Still, you couldn't blame a guy for trying, in HIS point of view. Standing up, and taking Calandra's hand, they both walked out of the Rec Room, turning off the lights behind them.
At that very moment, within the Saurian spaceship called the Raptor, disguised as an abandoned hotel, Dragaunus, the last of the Saurian overlords, was spying on Anaheim through a surveillance screen, curious about the merry happenings all over the city.
"Wraith! What's wrong with all of these people? Why are they so happy this month?"
"Apparently, my lord," Wraith explained. "They are celebrating a merry holiday called 'Christmas'. A time when people unite and are treated as equals."
"Bah!" Dragaunus exclaimed while sticking out his tongue. "Humans and their merry holidays. The only thing they should be celebrating is my conquest of this planet. Is the ray linked to the Dimensional gateway, Siege?"
"Yes, Lord Dragaunus."
"Then the conquest of this planet shall begin soon." He then chuckled evilly and smiled. "Here's a present for you humans; a new world ruler. Merry Christmas, Anaheim."
The next day around the shopping area of Anaheim, even though Christmas was still less only a week away, the shops were BUSY. People walked past each other, each one of them wishing one another a merry Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza. Jessica was holding a bunch of gifts in her right arm. To her uncle Phil, a new tie and suit. For Nosedive, she got the first trilogy of the JLA(the Justice League of America), since she noticed him staring at all of the JLA comics in the Captain Comics shop. Wildwing, she had a hard time making a decision for him since he was really secretive about what he wanted. However, since it was obvious that his hockey gear was starting to wear out, she went to the hockey store and bought some more goalie gear for the Mighty Ducks captain. Mallory, it was pretty simple for her. Jessie bought her a new red dress along with a small make-up kit. When she first looked at it, she stuck out her tongue and thought Who the heck would want something like THIS?!
Still, she realized that no one was the same as the other, and Mallory was one of those types that liked to look pretty once in a while. The gift bought for Tanya was a small science kit, but it was complex enough for even the duck Einstein herself. Duke, well, she had NO idea what the ruggedly handsome ex-jewel thief wanted. He was OBVIOUSLY a romantic, and sometimes a little bit vain about his looks. So, she bought him a can of hair gel, a new type of men's cologne, and a new white long-sleeved turtleneck with a criss-cross stitch pattern around the top and base of the turtleneck. Grin, now HE was the REAL challenge. He was the quietest of the bunch, giving him that mysterious feel around himself. But she knew that he was always meditating, so she bought him a yoga mat and CD that had music from all types of Oriental countries: China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and all other Asian countries. Since they were wordless and had a soothing feel, she KNEW Grin would go for this gift. For Calandra, she got her a new bottle of perfume and a pair of earrings that appeared to have been made of pure diamonds, even though it was made from a type of paste used for imitation diamonds.
Now SONICA. Jessie pondered that thought for a moment, thinking up what Sonica would want for Christmas. She knew that she would want Canard more than anything else in the entire world, but she didn't know how to grant that gift towards the green-haired beauty. So, she bought something else; a frame for her picture of her deceased family, and a cashmere emerald green sweater, with the collar outlined with jade green stones. Jessie's Christmas shopping now done, she fitted all she could in the bags she had and gently mounted them on her bicycle. She tied them down to the basket behind her bike seat, and rode back to the Pond. She then noticed an old man, in a Santa Clause suit, ringing a small golden bell next to a bucket that had a sign above it, saying 'Help the Poor Please'. Jessie then remembered her life in Chicago. During winter time, it was always cold and covered with snow. She was always shivering in the cold city, and so was everyone who lived in the rotten side of the neighbourhood she grew up in. Feeling pity on the less fortunate, Jessie took a five dollar bill out of her wallet and dropped it into the bucket.
"Thank you, young girl. And Merry Christmas."
"No prob, Santa," Jessie answered, smiling warmly. "And ditto to you."
Picking up speed on her bike, Jessica started to ride off to the Pond once more, passing by a foursome, who were singing Joy to the World. Parking her bike inside the garage, Jessie took out all the presents she bought and snuck them into Rec room, putting them under the Christmas Tree. In doing so, she noticed a gift under the candy cane that started with a J. Picking it up, she noticed that it had her name on it, and it was from Wildwing himself. She thought she would break into tears of joy; the only person who gave her a gift was her mother, and she's long dead. And there were eight more gifts, each one of them from the other ducks, and her uncle. An actual Christmas was going to be taking place for her. Hearing footsteps coming in, Jessie quickly put the gift down and jumped onto the couch, taking out a book in her backpack which she brought down yesterday, called The Reluctant Swordsman(yes, fellow readers; there IS such a book, written by Dave Duncan). Wildwing was then storming into the Rec room, with Phil following him, carrying a Santa suit and a fake beard in his arms.
"C'mon, Wildwing! Please?"
"For the last time, Phil: NO!"
"Hey; what's going on?" Jessie asked as she put down her book.
"Wildwing's being stubborn again, Jessica."
"No, I'm NOT. I just don't want to dress up as Santa Clause. I don't even LOOK the part. Can't you get Grin to do it?"
"Can't," Phil answered, shaking his head. "He doesn't look the part right, and he'd only scare the others."
"I won't do it, Phil. End of song."
"C'MON, Wildwing! It's for a noble cause; for charity!"
"What TYPE of charity, Phil?" Wildwing asked him suspiciously.
"Yeah, Uncle Phil," Jessie asked. "What kinda charity? And what's in it for you?"
"It's for the Anaheim Orphanage," Phil explained. "If Wildwing dresses up as Santa Clause and the others help hand out gifts, it'll help raise money for the orphans, and help them find a family who'll adopt the little munchkins."
"You SWEAR this' for a good cause, Phil?"
"Yes, Wildwing. It's to help raise money for the orphans. PLEASE?"
"Well....I don't know."
Phil only rolled his eyes and folded his arms across his chest. Jessie came up with an idea and tapped on Wildwing's shoulder.
"You know, Wing, Sonica LIKES people who help out the less fortunate."
"She...she DOES?" Wildwing asked, slightly blushing.
"Yeah, so....if you do this little stunt, maybe sparks will fly between you two," Jessie said.
Wildwing then turned to Phil and, without a second thought, took the Santa suit.
"What time do we leave for the orphanage, Phil?"
"I KNEW I could count on ya to do the little orphans a favor! In about...two hours."
Wildwing nodded and left the Recreation Room. Phil then turned to Jessie and hugged her.
"How did you KNOW that would work on him, Jessie?"
"Simple, Uncle Phil. Everyone KNOWS that Wildwing has a HUGE crush on Canard's baby sister. In convincing him that wearing the Santa suit will win Sonica's heart, it's a sure-fire hit. Is it okay if I go to the basketball court and shoot some hoops with my school friends?"
"You promise that you'll be back by curfew, young lady?"
"Yes, uncle. Aren't I ALWAYS back by my curfew?"
"You weren't last week," Phil answered, looking at her sternly.
"Well, I had a REALLY good excuse; my bike lost air in both tires, so I had to walk all the way back to the Pond."
"Just make sure you're not in past your curfew THIS time, little girl."
"Yes, Uncle Phil. May I go now before it gets dark?"
"All right, but when the rain starts to grow worse, you come home IMMEDIATELY."
"Yes, Uncle Phil," Jessie sighed while rolling her emerald green eyes at the same time. She was starting to get tired of her uncle telling her how late to stay and when she should get back. She almost wished that she was back in Chicago. Her dad didn't care what the heck she did. Then again, her father never really cared about her in the first place. Grabbing her jacket, skateboard, basketball, and bag for the ball, Jessie rushed out the Pond door. Jumping on her skateboard, she road off to the local basketball courts.
"God, that niece of mine tries me," Phil moaned, putting his hand to his forehead and shaking his head at the same time.
Meanwhile at the Anaheim basketball courts, Jessica Lockheart and her new friend, Rachel Strife, who had chest-length blond hair and sapphire blue eyes, were up against a couple of boys, two brothers named Max and Jerry Wallace. Both were Hispanic and had dark hair and skin. Even though Max was the older one, Jerry was the more intelligent. He had a GPA of a four point zero. Max, well, he was the most buff and athletic group of the group, and had a dream to be part of a military, much like Jessie. Except that he wanted to be commander of the entire American army; Jessie just wanted to be an Air Force pilot.
So far, Jessie and Rachel were winning the game, of a score of twenty-two to six. Even though Max was the buffer of the group, and Jerry had the brains, the girls had the upper-hand: Jessie, being the most agile of the group and had experience in the game, growing up in Chicago, and Rachel, was captain of the Anaheim High Girl's Basketball team. When Jessie passed the ball to Rachel, she shot the ball, and it made it into the basket, piece of cake. The score was now twenty-five to six(imagine the shot Rachel made was a three-point shot) Max molded his hands into two fists and put them to his hips.
"I swear; you two girls are cheats!"
"Yeah!" Max's younger brother pouted. "No one can have THAT many points in five minutes, unless they were Superman's whelp!"
"We're NOT cheats, Jerry!" Rachel shouted, throwing the ball at him. "It's called using what comes naturally. Learn it, egg-head."
"Quit calling me that, blonde!" Jerry whined, barely catching the ball in his hands.
"Will you stop calling blonde then?" Rachel asked roughly, her hands at her hips.
"Maybe," Jerry answered, smiling innocently.
Jessie then started to laugh a little, but it started to turn into a rough and hard cough. She covered her mouth to keep the others from hearing, but it was of no use, because Max heard her loud and clear. He rushed over to her to see if she was okay, but she waved her hand to him, as if indicating that she didn't need any assistance from anyone. She sat up right and wiped her left hand on her light blue jeans.
"You sure you're okay, Jess?" Max asked in a worried tone. "You didn't SOUND all right, with that cough and all."
"I'm FINE, Max," Jessie assured him, grabbing the ball from Jerry and starting to dribble from it. "Anyone up for a rematch? C'mon! I'm willing to take one anyone of you three! One at time or all at once; makes no difference to me. C'mon! Give me a challenge people!"
"Maybe you ought look behind ya, kid. Maybe you'll get a challenge THEN," a gruff male voice growled from behind.
The four teenagers turned around, only to see Siege, Wraith, and the Chameleon.
"Oh no!" Rachel started to scream in horror. "It's those evil alien lizards from another universe! I heard them on the news!"
"I'll protect you all!" Max defended, putting himself in front of Jerry, Rachel, and Jessie.
"Move, young child," Wraith commanded. "We are NOT after YOU; we are after your street tough tommy of a friend."
All of the teenagers' eyes turned to Jessie, who was surprised herself. What did Dragaunus want so badly that he needed her assistance? Was he having so much trouble conquering the world that he needed the help of a fourteen year old girl, born in Chicago? A giant lizard, such as himself, needing the succor of a former street rat. Impossible! No one needs her help in THAT field!
"Then tell your leader Dino-breath that he ain't getting my help!" Jessie spat at Wraith, her emerald green eyes glowing in anger at him.
"I expected that from a former street rat such as yourself, kid," Siege insulted. "GET THE LITTLE TWERP!"
Two hunter drones appeared from behind and grabbed Jessie by both of her arms and held her up. She struggled to get free, but it was of no use; she was still weak from her cold. Siege knocked the other three teenagers out of the way. Before anyone of the three could scramble onto their feet, all of the Saurians, the Hunter Drones, and Jessie, had all disappeared, without a trace.
"Ah man!" Jerry shouted. "We were beaten by a buncha reptiles!"
"I won't tell if YOU won't, little bro," Max offered.
"Of course," Rachel added. "Those weren't your EVERYDAY lizards. Those were probably, the whelps of Godzilla himself!"
"But why would they want Jessie?"
"Simple," Rachel started to explain to them, brushing back some of her lemon drop blond hair. "Her uncle; he's the manager of the Mighty Ducks, those lizards' worst enemies."
"Maybe we oughta find the ducks and tell them the emergency," Jerry said.
Max and Rachel nodded in agreement. Jerry was surprised that they did. Rachel Strife and Max Wallace NEVER agreed on ANYTHING. They couldn't even decide on a group project title, much less the subject. Half of the time they would argue with each other, and the rest of the time, uhhh...CHALLENGING each other. Each one of them grabbing their own skateboards, the basketball team captain and the Wallace brothers grabbed their skating equipment.
"You have any idea where the ducks might be?" Wallace asked while he was adjusting his yellow knee pads.
"The Pond; where else, dummy?" Rachel asked him coldly while she strapped on her orange elbow pads.
"Don't start, you two," Jerry ordered at the same time he was strapping together the straps on his helmet. "Jessie said that they were doing a stunt at the Anaheim Orphanage for the orphans."
The three laughed, when Jerry said Jessie told them that Wildwing was dressing up as Santa Claus. Grabbing their skateboards, they rode down the streets, covered with water and mud puddles, to the orphan's home.
Meanwhile in the Anaheim Orphanage, all of the ducks had their hands full with all of the orphans, all of them between the ages of three and twelve. The younger ones were the most rowdy, since they all wanted a turn riding on the backs of the duck elves. Mallory and Tanya were handing out gifts to the orphans who had their names on the tags of the gifts. Wildwing was pretending to be Santa Claus, trying to be as cheerful as possible, and Sonica and Calandra were reading Christmas Stories to the other orphans who already received their presents. Grin, Nosedive, and Duke? Well...they were trying to SURVIVE the torment of the stunt. Dive thought it was bad enough that he had to dress up as an elf like all of the other ducks, but now he kept having all of those little kids climbing all over him was a major struggle for the teenage duck. However, he managed to make sure that they could climb on him, as long as it was only one at a time. Grin was CONSTANTLY reminding himself that helping little children would bring good karma. Duke, well, he didn't seem to mind much, but the little munchkins were starting to hurt his back REALLY bad. Right now, all he wanted for Christmas was a box of Tylenol, or some type of aspirin. Natanya Goodhearts, the owner of the orphanage, glanced at her wrist watch and her hazelnut brown eyes widened in shock. She clapped her hands firmly yet softly.
"All right children! Playtime's over. It's time to sing our Christmas song for our guests," Natanya said in a thick British accent.
The children cheered as they each ran to the stadium stairs. Natanya was laughing when they all placed on their tree green robes, stood in their rightful places, and smiled innocently.
"Very good darlings. Now, who wants to tell the Mighty Ducks the name of the song we are about to sing?"
All of the orphans kept asking and begging Natanya to let them do the honors. Everyone, including Wildwing himself, started to break out into laughter. Well, all except for Grin, that is. He just rolled his eyes.
"All right! All right children," Natanya laughed, getting them all to calm down. "Michelle? Would you like to do the honor?"
A young girl, barely five years old, with auburn hair and brown eyes, nodded eagerly, and Natanya laughed a little bit once more. Guiding the little girl to the front of the stage, she handed her a small microphone to her. Michelle took it into her hands and spoke.
"The song we are singing is called the First Noel, the story about the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of the Lord," Michelle answered in toddler talk.
Michelle was then returned to her place. Taking the baton, Natanya nodded to the piano player, Mrs. Greston, an 80 year old pianist. Few seconds after the song started, Natanya took the baton and the children started to sing, their voices sounding analogous a choir, instead of a bunch of orphans:
"The First Noel
The Angels did say,
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they.
In fields, where they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the king of Israel.
They looked up, and saw a star,
Shining in the east, beyond them far.
And to they heard, it gave grand light
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the king of Israel.
Beside the light of that same star
Three wisemen came from country far
To seek for a king, was their intent
And to follow that star wherever it went
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the king of Israel.
Born is the king of Israel."
When the song subsided, the ducks clapped lightly. Never in their entire lives had they heard such beautiful singing voices from such little kids.
"Encore! Encore!" Nosedive shouted.
The little orphans started to laugh at Dive's remark. Wildwing playfully smacked his brother on the back of his head. The golden haired male humored the orphans by pretending to be in constant pain. He kneeled on the for crying for help and an ambulance to come at his aid, claiming that Wildwing's hit was SO hard, it started to make his head bleed. When he collapsed on the floor, pretending to die, the orphans only laughed even more. Wildwing and the others just found it really irritating.
"Dive, get up," Wildwing ordered, his voice grumpy again.
"Ah; c'mon, big bro," Dive pleaded. "I'm just having a little bit of fun with them, that's all. Trying to raise their spirits; you know."
He then jumped on his feet and flipped backwards to the orphans. One of them, a girl of six years old with shoulder length curly red hair named Alexia, jumped on his back. He turned around to look at her, seeing her smile, a twinkle in her eyes.
"You promised me a horsy-back ride, remember?" she asked in toddler tone.
"That I did, little munchkin," Dive answered, wiping one of her curly bangs out of her face. He then stared at Wildwing. "What can I say; the ladies love me!"
"Like I'D be jealous of you, little bro ," Wing answered teasingly.
Dive only smirked more at Wing. While he was playing horsy, Natanya shook her hand with Phil.
"Thank you for having your team come here this year," Natanya thanked him generously. "It means a lot to the orphanage and the little ones who live here. And the money we raised for the home will help find homes for them all."
"It's my pleasure and theirs, Mrs. Goodhearts," Phil answered, smiling sweetly. "It's nice to know that we helped to do a good deed for the less fortunate."
At that very moment, Rachel, Jerry, and Max barged in. Even though it was cold outside, there was sweat dripping all over their faces and they were breathless. Phil knew each one of them and was shocked.
"Where's my niece? If you three are here, how come SHE isn't?" he asked suspiciously.
The threesome went past Phil, as if he wasn't even there. They went to Wildwing and tugged on his Santa suit.
"Uh, Mr. Wildwing?" Jerry asked. " Don't mean to bother you, man, but....there's something that we REALLY need to tell you."
"All right," Wildwing groaned, bending down. "What's the problem? And where's Jessica?"
"Man!" Max exclaimed, as if he was on the verge of breaking out into laughter. "How did Phil talk you into doing THIS stunt, Wing? Spiked your Pepsi with some type of drug? Held you at a gun point?"
"Quit changing the subject," Wildwing growled at Max. "Now tell me; where's Jessica?"
"Well," Rachel started to speak, leaning closer to Wildwing's cheek to whisper the situation into his ear. "Your lizard enemies appeared out of nowhere and grabbed Jessie while we were in the middle of a basketball game."
Wildwing's chestnut brown eyes then widened in total shock. He looked as though he would scream any minute. He stared at the three juveniles, his eyes still in horrification.
"You three SERIOUS?!"
"Unfortunately, yes sir," Jerry muttered, his head down.
Wildwing regained control of himself and stood up and whistled to the team.
"Ducks; battle gear time! There's an emergency downtown!"
"Finally!" Duke happily shouted. "An excuse to get out of this ridiculous elf costume!"
With that, all of the ducks transformed from their elves and Santa costume into their battle gear. All of their fighting uniforms shined brightly in the light of the room. As they were about to leave, one of the orphan toddlers named Natasha grabbed onto Nosedive's ankle.
"Don't leave now, Mr. Nosedive," Natasha pleaded desperately. "You promised me a piggy back ride, remember?"
"I'm sorry, Natasha. But there's an emergency downtown," the teenage blond answered. But he couldn't resist the little girl's beady azure blue eyes. He felt sorry for the young kid, but then an idea came to him. "Tell ya what, Nat. I'll come back in a few days, and when I do, I'll give you SO many piggy back rides that you'll be BEGGING for me to stop, okay?"
"Okay!" Natasha answered, happy again.
Giving the girl a noogie on her copper red hair, Dive grinned and ran to the others. Phil noticed the commotion and demanded an explanation.
"Where the heck are you eight going? And what was so important that Jessie's friends had to tell you instead of me?"
"It's a long story, Phil," Wildwing answered. "But it concerns Jessie."
"WHAT?!" Phil exclaimed in shock. "What happened to Jessie?! Where is she?!"
"Calm down, Phil," Tanya ushered him. "We're about to find out."
Leaving Phil in confusion, all of the ducks left. .Meanwhile within the belly of the Raptor, Jessie was having the stuffing knocked out of her. It was bad enough that her cold was starting to turn into a flu, but now she was starting to grow dizzy and weak. Jessica didn't know whether or not she could hold out much longer, but she knew she had to, because she knew that the ducks would come to the rescue of any innocent life and protect them from harm. With an intense struggle, Jessica pushed herself off of the ground and looked into the eyes of the evil Saurian overlord, who was laughing with delight.
"What are you trying to prove, Dragaunus?" Jessie answered weakly but angrily.
"Prove? Nothing, if you count that I am superior to your kind nothing."
"Oh yeah," Jessie mouthed off sarcastically. "You, being nearly eight feet tall, beating up a fourteen year old girl, barely above five feet, with an intense flu. That makes you VERY superior, lizard-lips."
"ENOUGH!" Dragaunus shouted, giving her one more intense punch across the face, having her fall flat on the floor. "When the ducks arrive, believing that you are dead, they'll be too mortified to fight well, and that will be the end of them, when I zap their corpses into the other dimension, and this universe will rightfully belong to me!"
Jessie thought about surrendering to him right then. It was on the tip of her tongue to give up. Then she remembered the others telling her their stories from when they were in the Resistance, of their tales of nearly being beaten to death. If they could last through the torture, then she should be able to as well. But the pain and torment was too much for the tommy to bear, even if it was only to last for a few more moments. Suddenly, footsteps were to be heard. She recognized the sounds immediately as she looked at the base of the door. Without warning, the door was blasted open, and the eight Mighty Ducks were now within the belly of the Raptor. Wildwing blew the smoke from his puck launcher and growled at Dragaunus.
"This is your gift to the people of Earth, Dragaunus? A severe beating to each innocent life?"
Dragaunus laughed evilly and then ordered a mountain of Hunter Drones to shoot the ducks until they fell over dead. Blasts were coming from each side of the Raptor. Jessie tried to scramble to her feet, but fell. Good thing she did, because if she hadn't, a blast from a Hunter Drone would have blasted her brains out. So instead of trying to run, Jessica crawled to safety instead of running away. Suddenly, she felt something cold and metallic against her back. Turning her back, Jessie noticed the super computer of Dragaunus Raptor. She then remembered Wildwing telling her about them winding up from Puckworld to Earth by chasing Dragaunus through a dimensional gateway portal, and of Canard being swept into Dimensional Limbo. Jessie then came up with a fabulous idea: she could swipe the wires that activated the portal, find a major genius besides Tanya to re-fix the wires into their own portal maker, go into Dimensional Limbo, find Canard, and return him to the others on Earth. Hiding a cough so no one could hear her, Jessie frantically searched for the lever that activated the D-portal. Finding the device that made it all possible, she opened it up with her dad's old pocket knife. Inside, there was a mess of wires which only Tanya herself would be able to use to her advantage. Using her progenitor's pocket knife, she cut all of the wires and placed them in the backpack she brought with her. When she closed the generator device cover, one of the Hunter Drones grabbed her from behind and held her up, her feet dangling above the ground floor.
"What were you doing?" the Hunter Drone demanded in a robot voice.
"That's not what I saw, human germ. Prepare for disintegration."
The hunter drone raised its left arm at Jessie, turning into a deadly blaster. It then put the blaster at her head. She shut her emerald green eyes, fighting back her tears, trying to be brave as her end would come. But before the drone could shoot her brain out, a hand covered by a gray glove made a knife hand strike at its neck, followed by a lower hook kick, knocking the android into at least a thousand pieces. The bangs of Sonica Thunderbeak's emerald green hair fell into her face when she caught Jessica into her arms.
"You okay, munchkin?" she asked, her slight Australian accent a sound of relief to the young tomboy.
"Yeah, I think so. Is the battle over, Sonica?"
"Yeah; let me see."
Sonica turned her head around, and her emerald green eyes saw the battle over. All of the Hunter Drones were destroyed, and Dragaunus was knocked out cold. She then turned back to Jessica, smiling.
"It's over, kiddo. Let's go home."
"I'd like the sound of that, except that my uncle might turn into a raging volcano when he sees the look on my face."
"Kid," Sonica began to speak, her voice starting to break into laughter. "If we can handle an angry Saurian overlord that's over seven feet tall, we can handle a five foot nine manager of ours that's chubby and a total coward."
Jessie laughed, even though she knew that it was an insult to her uncle. Even though she knew that her uncle was a little bit greedy at times, she still loved him and everything. Let's all face it: he was willing to take her in after her father was arrested for child abuse and child neglect. No one was willing to have a street tough tomboy for a daughter, and all of the orphanages and foster homes were filled to the max. At the Pond, Phil was pacing the floor, wondering what was taking the others so long in coming home. When he heard the Migrator pull into the hangar, he sighed with relief. But the relief wasn't to last, for when he saw the condition that niece was in, he went ballistic with rage.
"WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO JESSICA?!"
"Don't blame them, Uncle Phil," Jessie replied between coughs. "It's not their fault. Dragaunusí minions appeared at the park while the others and I were shooting hoops. It happened so suddenly I couldn't think up a plan to escape them in time."
"God!" Phil exclaimed, bending down and hugging Jessie tightly. "You all right, Jessica?"
"Yeah, Uncle Phil. I'm fine," she assured, him. But her answer was followed by two coughs and a sneeze.
"That does it, then. No more going playing basketball until your flu is gone. You need to RECOVER, young lady. That storm outside has been making you sick. Go out there anymore, and you're going to catch your death out there. No go to bed, little girl."
"Yes, U--ACHOO!!!" Jessie sneezed again, covering her face with her hands again. Looking drowsy and weak again, she walked off to her room to wash her hands. Sleep. That's what she needed. Maybe a few hours of rest, and she'll feel better. Walking into her room, she quickly went to the sink and washed her hands with the bar of soap on the bathroom sink.
She looked at her reflection at it, and it scared her. Even though her face wasn't bleeding, her face covered with marks all over her face. Most of them bruises, from the past and present. Her face was all dreary with the signs of her cold becoming a flu. The bangs of her cinnamon brown hair were all over her face, all tangled and messy from her painful torture from Dragaunus. Grabbing two different cleansers, one for her body and one for her face, Jessica stripped off her torn clothes and stepped into the shower.
Turning on the warm water, she washed off the marks on her body and washed the dirt and tangles out of her hair with the shampoo on her bathtub, which could also serve as a shower. Even though all of the dirt and blood marks from her body were washed off, the scars and bruises were still visible. After her hair was washed, Jessica grabbed a small towel hanging from the bathroom wall and wiped her hair dry with it. Combing the tangles out, she then separated her hair into two different parts. One of the sections of Jessie's cinnamon brown hair was put into a mid-length ponytail, then braided the rest of the way. The other section of her hair was also braided, then wrapped around the band in her hair.
Wrapping the towel around her body, Jessie stepped out of the bathroom and took her pyjamas out from underneath her bed pillows. The top of her pyjamas was a spaghetti strap tank, with clouds, stars, and a full moon. Her pants had the same pattern. Putting on her clothes, she then started to feel soporific. Placing the long sleeved button-up shirt of her pyjamas, she buttoned them up and hit her head on the pillow, closing her emerald green eyes and covering herself up with the blanket. Suddenly, she heard a strange noise under her room. Wanting to know who was doing the strange noises, she got out of bed and went to the middle of the floor in her room. Kneeling down and placing her ear to the floor, Jessie had a clearer hearing on the noise downstairs. Removing her ear from the floor, she moved some of the carpeting out of the way and found the trap door.
Few days after Jessie moved into the Pond, she discovered a hidden secret door and found an alternative way into the duck's headquarters. Climbing down the ladder in the hidden door, Jessie found her way into the hallway that was next to the kitchen. When she peered her head into the kitchen, she noticed Sonica sipping a mug of something, looking bummed and depressed. The green-haired femme fatale heard noises from the door and turned her head. Jessie quickly hid from Sonica's vision, but the emerald-haired enchantress couldn't have been fooled that easily.
Realizing that the game was up, Jessie peered her head in so Sonica could get a good glimpse of her.
"Oh. Hi, Jessie. Thought it might have been Nosedive again. I HATE it when he plays those pranks on me."
"No thanks. I'm too ill to pull a joke on anyone at the moment," Jessie said, followed by a couple of coughs.
"You alright, little munchkin?" Sonica asked, standing up. "Come over here and let me see."
Still feeling exhausted from the day, Jessie staggered over to Sonica, holding onto the table for support. Sonica then kneeled down and put her hand on Jessica's forehead, surprised at its heat.
"My god! Jessie, you're burning up. I think you DO have the flu. Better be sure."
Sonica then took out a thermometer and put it under the sink, in case someone used it but forgot to wash it. Wiping it on a clean rag, she put the thermometer into Jessie's mouth and took the temperature. In less than a minute, the beeper on the thermometer beeped. When Sonica took it out, she noticed that the temperature was higher than her normal degree of heat.
"One hundred and five degrees Fahrenheit. You really ARE sick this time, Jessie. That would explain all of the coughing and sneezing lately. What about your throat?"
"Well," Jessie started to say. "I never bothered to tell anyone, but, the more I cough, the more my throat grieves. It hurts a lot, Sonica."
"There there, Jessica," Sonica comforted, wrapping her arms around her, letting Jessie rest her head on her shoulder. "You'll be fine. It's probably only one of those winter time flus around here. I've seen it a lot whenever I traveled around the world during the winter. The flu happens the most during the winter season. It'll probably wear off after Christmas. I promise. In the mean time, I think I know what can help ease the soreness in your throat."
Taking a teapot off the stove, Sonica put a type of powder in another mug, then poured the hot water into the mug. She then took a spoon out of the cabinets and stirred it around the mug, turning into a dark, yet at the same time, bright reddish-brown liquid. Sonica then took the mug by the handle and put on the table.
"Here ya go, munchkin. Try drinking some of this. It'll ease the pain in your throat."
Curious on what it was, Jessica took the mug by the handle and put it to her mouth. When she sipped it, she stopped for a moment, and looked at Sonica.
"This' pretty good. It's like apple juice, except warmer, with more cinnamon in it."
"That's what it technically is, Jessie. It's apple cider. My mom, well...my stepmom, Niesha, always made this stuff every time one of us had a flu. Then, a few days later, that person was cured. Before I left my second home in Australia, Niesha gave me the formula to make this type of apple cider, because it was the only one that could cure anyone from any type of flu, although scientists are STILL testing whether or not it works for sure. Take three cups of that cider every day, and within a week at most, your flu should be cured. How're you feeling now?"
"Well, I still feeling kind of ill, but my throat's not as sore as before."
"That's good to hear. Now run upstairs and go to sleep. It takes time before the cider can kick in, so you might as well sleep on it."
Drinking the last of the cider in her mug, Jessie gave Sonica one final hug, then left the kitchen. When she was just out, Jessie believed she heard sounds of tears coming from the kitchen. When she poked her head in, she saw Sonica's head leaning to the side, hearing her sniffle and sob.
"Canard," Sonica whispered to herself. "Canard, my brother. It won't be the same without you here, and with mom and dad dead and everything, Christmas won't seem as special without my REAL parents or you, my brother. I just wish I knew whether or not you were alive. And if you are, where are you? Are you safe? Are you with a caring family, or in the arms of another type of great evil? If only I knew."
Jessica quietly snuck away so Sonica wouldn't have been able to hear her footsteps or her breathing. Sneaking back up her secret entrance, she sat on her bed. Grabbing her torn diary from her lamp post desk, she took out the secret pen within the packet and began to write within it.
Diary, Jessie started to think while writing at the same time.
What am I to do? The loss of Canard seems hard on everyone this year, but it affects Sonica the most. Not that I blame her. I know what it's like to go through nearly a decade without the ones you loved. My mom died nearly a week after my eighth birthday ::cough:: ::cough::. And I can't say that my FATHER counts as family, since all he ever did was drink and hit me for no apparent reason but because he was bored to death, so to speak. Both of her parents are dead and Canard is missing thanks to that evil miniature dinosaur Dragaunus.
Wait. The wires I stole from his ship. They were part of a Gateway Generator! Of course! How could I have forgotten so easily?! I'll go that Buzz Blitzman guy at Unbridle Technologies tomorrow and see if that eight year old egghead can whip a Gateway Generator of our own! Then, I can go into limbo, find Canard, and if he's alive, bring him back to the Sonica and the others. Jessica Lockheart, you're turning into as big of a genius as Tanya Vanderflock herself.
Closing her diary, Jessie placed it back on the tabletop and laid her head on the soft silky pillows. Her mind was all dizzy and her forehead was still hot from her fever. Her flu was starting to take over her abundant energy as the young teenage tomboy closed her glittering emerald green eyes and dozed off to sleep. She felt so tired that she couldn't think straight. But she decided to think over the matter in the morning, when her mind would be fresh and she could think straighter.
During the night, Jessie started to have dreams. Not bad ones of her father, but sweet ones of her mother few years before she died. Even though she now resides in Heaven with God, the voice of Meranda Polmfeather Lockheart, Jessie's mother and Phil's older sister, still sounded as if she was alive right at that very moment. Jessica remembered when she was four years old, her mother used to sing her to sleep. Her voice was like an angel to Jessica. The voice of her mother would hypnotize any man . Her touch felt like the softest silk ever made, and her laughter would cheer her up, even when Jessie felt at the worst. And most of all, Jessie would remember the song Meranda would sing to her to drift her off to slip, her silky arms cradling her, her harmonious singing voice sounding sweeter than the most beautiful of the angels of Heaven(to anyone who reads this fanfic, this song was written and sung by Mary Chaplin Carpenter, a country singer. Yes, I admit it; I, equivalent to Seline TruFeather, too like country music. The song rightfully belongs to her. I'm just using the lyrics as a lullaby):
Today Joseph is sitting alone, with occasional nods to the
She tops off his cup while she's snapping her gum, making her rounds on the lunch shift.
Counting out coins, he leaves them arranged, in neat lines and circles and arcs.
She just stares at the tip that spells out her name
And ideas are like stars.
And yesterday pedaling down Fourth Avenue, between the stalls
and the bookshops.
The sepia tones of a lost afternoon cradled a curio storefront.
And inside the air was thick with the past, as the dust settled onto his heart.
And here for a moment is every place in the world, and ideas are like stars.
They fall from the sky, they run round your head.
They litter your sleep as they beckon.
They'd teach you to fly without wires or thread.
They promise if only you'd let them.
For the language of longing never had words, so how did you speak from you heart?
Yet here is a box that swears it has heard that ideas are like stars.
Tonight Joseph stood out in the yard, as Debussy played from
Celestial companions 'til morning's first lark, shone overhead and he listened.
And who was that shadow there by the gate? Who was that there standing guard?
It was only loneliness, and loneliness waits, and ideas are like stars.
Ideas are like stars.....
That song kept on playing through Jessica's head for the next few years in life, and still did, the exact voice of Meranda still living on Jessie's mind, and most importantly, her heart. And it still will, for the rest of her life. A single tear ran down her left eye from painful memories. Realizing that she needed her rest, Jessie drifted off to sleep once more, and stayed that way for the rest of the night, her mother's voice still inside her heart, the sound of her accent still living on throughout eternity.
Morning rose in Anaheim, but it was still dark and gloomy from the rain clouds, and the drops of the angels' tears were still descending from the heavens to the base of the earth. The young tommy slowly rose out bed. Jessie felt her head throbbing slightly and her throat still very sore from her coughing and intense flu. She went to the mirror to look at herself, and was not surprised at what she saw. She looked exactly like a boy. Reaching behind her head, Jessie pulled out the braids in her pony tail, her light cinnamon brown hair descending from her head to her hips.
Even though she looked very pretty in the mirror, Jessica still didn't think of herself as the attractive type. Once a tomboy, ALWAYS a tomboy, she always believed. No one would be smart enough to want to date a girl like her. She was born in Chicago, she barely had enough to survive on, she had nearly 14 years of a horrible education in her side of the neighbourhood, her mother was dead, and her father could care LESS for her.
Not that she was to give in to treachery. She was a born survivor. Her hard life of poverty and gang wars gave her what she needed to stay tough and not reveal her true feelings. But here in Anaheim, Wildwing and the others consider that acting like a bully of some sort. But what would they know? They never went through what she did. The Saurian invasion, maybe. But not their entire LIVES they had to go through a life of poverty and acrimonious treatments.
Then she realized something. She was starting to soften up now! At first, she felt uncomfortable around the ducks. Nosedive she came to trust after a couple of days, but he was the only one who truly understood her. The others followed slowly, Mallory being the last, since she had the least amount of patience. Jessie cursed under her breath for actually thinking that the others didn't care for her few seconds ago. The young tommy wrapped a surgical mask around her nose and mouth, so others would avoid catching her straining flu. Changing from her pyjamas into her favorite jeans jacket, white long-sleeved turtleneck, and dark blue jeans, she grabbed her small backpack and rushed out her door. Double checking to make sure no one saw her, Jessie started to sneak out the door, when a hand touched her shoulder. Scared, she lightly turned her head, and saw Nosedive.
"Mornin', Jess! And happy Christmas Eve. Going somewhere, may I ask?"
"I was on my way to see Buzz Blitzman and give him his Christmas present early. We owe the little tyke a LOT for what he's done for us the past few years."
"You want me to drive ya over there, buddy?"
"No thanks, Dive. I can take the bus."
"But Orbital Industries won't let you in, Jessie. Now ME or the others they will, since they know us. So, if I go with ya, they'll let ya in. Catch my drift, babe?"
"Well...yeah, I do now, Dive. But what's with this calling me 'babe' all of a sudden?"
"Huh? Oh, ehhh...sorry. Force of nature, Jess. Not to mention I've been hearing Duke saying that word a lot lately, ever since Callie became part of the team."
"Yeah...and as punishment, always kept falling flat on his rear or received a black lining around his spare eye. You think that after nearly 20 beatings the old guy would take a hint and lay off the word 'babe'."
The two teenagers laughed at that, making Jessie feel at ease. Dive truly made her feel like she could be herself and not worry about whether or not people would think of her as some sort of weirdo. Being the total oddball was either Duke's or Nosedive's job. For Dive, it was part of being a teenager. Duke, well, it was his nature. Why it's his nature, no one will ever know. Without thinking straight, Dive's arm was suddenly around Jessie's shoulder, causing her head to be on HIS shoulder as well.
"Uhhh...Dive? I don't think that's a wise idea. You might catch what I have."
"But the mask around your mouth should prevent that, right?"
"Yeah, but what if the wind blows if off my face and I can't grab it in time?"
Dive realized the error of his decision and quickly removed his arm from Jessie's shoulder. She looked at him with a little bit of shock. Why on earth did he do such a thing? To make her feel at ease for some apparent reason? Or was it too give her some type of comfort, showing her that he felt sorry what she had to go through the night before? Dive stared at her backpack, hoping to start a conversation with Jessie.
"Uh, what's in the backpack, Jessie? A present for the Buzz-mister?"
"Uhhh...yeah. If you want to come with me, I guess I have no choice but to say 'yes'. Come along then, Dive. Should we take the Duckcycle, or the bus?"
"Bus takes too long, and besides, if we used that method of transportation, I'd be swarmed with fans wanting my autograph. Not to mention that the Duckcycle's faster and doesn't pollute as much as the bus."
"Never thought that you would come up with an intelligent, Nosedive," Jessie said, sounding astonished. Since when was Nosedive environmentally conscience? Usually Dive was the type that never showed interest in anyone's feelings, especially ones of the humans. Thrash and Mookie, yeah. But those were his friends. Dive was still trying to get used to the fact that there was a human living with him. A human girl that acted like a pure American boy, liked to fight, and play basketball. Well, at least she had an obsession with sports and comics, like him.
Taking her hand, Nosedive guided Jessica to the garage and helped her mount on the Duckcycle, tossing her a helmet. Taking the front seat, the cycle came to life. The engines coming to life, Dive and Jessie rode off onto the streets of Anaheim.
"How come the cold doesn't bother you, Dive?"
"Because on Puckworld, this is considered summer weather."
"But this is the coldest weather here in Southern California!"
"It's summer weather compared to the winter weather on Puckworld, babe!"
"Whatever," Jessie breathed, coughing inside her surgery mask.
Even though half of the time she got on his nerves, Dive felt thrilled to be near Jessie. He was tired of being the youngest of the Mighty Ducks. But when Jessie arrived from Chicago to Anaheim, he was the second youngest of the group. Even though he and Wildwing were really close, they never had much in common. With Jessie around, he felt like he had some sense in him. They both had a passion for hockey and comics, and they both loved to pull pranks on the other ducks. But Jessie's were no where near as annoying as Dive's. Her ideas were basically throwing fake spiders in Tanya's clothes basket and replace the pot of coffee with a pot of mud for Duke in the morning. Dive, well....everyone would get a general idea of what the master prankster could pull on anyone.
"When we get back to the Pond, how about we pull a prank on Wing and Duke?"
"Yeah! How about we fill their boots with cement?"
"Nah; too intense. How about we rig a trap on their bunk doors? When they leave, they get drenched with shaving cream!"
"Not bad, but I have ANOTHER idea. How about we fill their shower drains with some molasses? That way, when they try to take a shower, they'll get drenched with hot spices?"
"Alright! Good one, babe!"
Jessie and Dive laughed together, discussing ideas of pranks they could pull on the leader and the former jewel-thief. While they were, they approached Unbridled Technologies, home of the kid genius, Barney 'Buzz' Blitzman. Accepting admittance from the guards and Buzz's custodian and boss, Dive and Jessie were granted permission to enter the factory, right to Buzz's room. Knocking on the door and receiving permission to enter, the two teenagers were face to face with Buzz himself.
"Hi Dive! Hi Jessie! Where's Mallory? Is she here? Did she bring me a present?" Buzz asked excitedly while jumping up and down.
And they say I'M too hyper-active, Jessie thought to herself, rolling her emerald green eyes and giggling. "Sorry, Buzz. She didn't come with us today. Mallory ain't the morning duck anyway."
"Not to mention the most cheerful," Dive muttered under his breath.
"Well, I'd be glad to offer my services to you all, guys. What can I do for you?" he asked, this time a lot more calmly.
"Well," Jessie began, taking a huge breath before continuing to speak. "Dive, Buzz. Before I show you what's in my backpack, you have to SWEAR that you won't tell ANYONE. Not even Wildwing himself."
"Deal, Miss Lockheart," Buzz swore, doing the Boy Scout signal.
"Ditto," Dive repeated, doing the same signal.
"Okay, here it goes," Jessie breathed, bending down.
The street-tough tomboy took off her backpack and unzipped it, pouring the contents onto the ground. Wires of different colors were mixed together. Buzz looked at them strangely, and Dive looked as though he saw the wires before.
"Those look like wires from a Dimensional Gateway Generator."
"That's because they ARE, Dive. I stole them from old lizard-lips' ship yesterday."
"YOU TORE APART DRAGAUNUS' DIMENSIONAL GATEWAY GENERATOR WIRES?!" Dive exclaimed, his voice a mixture of surprise and vehemence. "Great going, ya annoying tommy! Now we have no way of getting back home to Puckworld!"
"Easy, Nosedive," Jessie shushed him, her hands on his shoulders. "Yes, I stole the parts to Dragaunus' gateway portal. But for a good cause. That's where Buzz comes in."
"You...want me to make a different D-portal for ya?" Buzz asked, sounding astonished and eager. "For what reason?"
"If I tell you all, you have to PROMISE you won't tell ANYONE."
"I swear, Miss Lockheart," Buzz nodded eagerly.
"Ditto," Dive grunted, still kind of mad at Jessie.
Jessie took a deep breath, sighed, and explained her entire plan of entering dimensional limbo to find Canard, rescue him, and bring to Earth as a Christmas present for Wildwing and Sonica. When she was through, Dive and Buzz looked shocked.
"You...find Canard?" Dive asked, dumbfounded. "Are you INSANE?!"
"No, I'm just trying to do a friend a favor. Besides, I'm getting sick and tired of hearing Sonica's moans, descrying her tears and yearnings to see him again. You'll help, won't you, Buzz?"
"Well...," Buzz started to say, deep in thought over the situation.
Should he, or should he not? For one thing, limbo is unknown. There could be holes in there that would lead to other universes, possibly the direct dimensional prison of the Saurians themselves! On the other hand, Buzz wanted to help them as much as he could in the battles against Dragaunus, and so did Jessie. So, if he helped out in Jessie's plan to bring Canard, he would be helping out in the battles against Dragaunus. That would be a major accomplishment for him, having to have helped in the effort to stop a silent war.
"You bet! It just so happens that, for the past three years, I've been working on some plans for my own dimensional gateway generator. C'mon, I'll show them too you all!"
Digging through his drawers, Buzz pulled out a silver box. Blowing off the dust, he unlocked the box. Opening it, there were several papers inside the box, each of them in the color of blue. Digging through the blueprints, he found the one he was looking for. It was the blueprint of his very own Dimensional Gateway Generator. It was very small. In fact, it was so small, it could fit into your backpack. On top of the D-portal, there was a small satellite-like dish on top. On the left side, there was a small rectangular box, possibly the device that tracks down bodies of matter.
"Buzzie," Dive said, astonished. "You never cease to amaze me."
"Well, I try," Buzz said, sound as if he was a stuck-up snob. "It'll take me some time to make the gizmo, but it'll go quicker if..."
"No need to finish, Buzz," Jessie interrupted. "No need to continue. Dive and I already know what you're going to say. And we'd be glad to help you out."
"Yeah; ditto," Dive finished.
And so, Dive, Jessie, and Buzz got to work on the dimensional gateway generator. Much commotion went around. Wires kept getting tangled in Buzz's hair, and half of the time Nosedive messed up on Buzz's instructions on what goes where. Within less than an hour, the dimensional radar and portal was made, with a left over control device. Smudges of oil were all over everyone's faces, arms, and clothes.
"Well, that's that," Buzz said, tossing Nosedive and Jessica two pairs of small towels for them to wipe their faces on.
"At least the messy phase's over," Jessie said, wiping the smudges of dirt and oil off of her scarred face. "Now for the DANGEROUS phase; retrieving Canard."
"How're we gonna do THAT?" Dive suddenly asked. "I mean, if you do find him, how'll you two get back from wherever your going, back to Earth?"
"Not to worry, my fellow ducks," Buzz answered proudly. "I have developed such a way to do so."
With that, he tossed Jessie a special type of miniature clock-like device. It was black with a see-through green screen in the middle of it.
"It's a special type of communicator and transporter built into one. I call it the commu-porter. Just call us when you find Canard, and will give you the coordinates to come back to Earth. Punch them into the commu-porter, then press enter, and you'll be zapped back to the source of the energy readings."
"Great! I'm going in!"
"Wait a second," Dive ordered, sounding like a younger version of Wildwing. "You mean you're just going in right now, without a second thought?"
"Not a wise idea," Buzz warned while shaking his head. "We don't know what's contained in Limbo, and what if you get attacked by vicious monsters? You'll need weapons and some type of armor. I've developed just the thing."
Pressing a red button on the left side of his wall next to his bed, a dark blue chamber was revealed to Jessica and Nosedive. The inside of the chamber was empty, but it appeared to have water inside of it. It appeared to have looked like the type of escape chamber used by the great Harry Houdini himself.
"What's that? The escape chamber used by Harry Houdini himself?" Dive asked, sounding dazed.
"Yep," Buzz answered proudly. "Unbridled Technologies bought it, and I made some modifications to it. So now it's a suit-up device. It could come in handy for when you enter Limbo to achieve Canard. Ready to suit up?"
"You bet I am!"
Entering the suit-up chamber, Jessie stood up, her hands against the sides of the chamber for balance. When the doors closed, a bright light filled the chamber. So bright, in fact, that any signs of life inside the chamber were no where to be seen. When the light subsided, Jessie appeared to look different than before. Her regular clothes were replaced with a sleeveless uniform.
The uniform was a violet chest plate similar to Mallory's, except that there were no shoulder pads or a green collar on the chest plate. The leotard she wore was all white, with the sleeves slightly past her shoulders. Her boots were black and went a few inches past her knees, and the knee pads were all silver. On her right hip, here was a container for a blaster of some sort, with a smaller pouch in the middle of it, containing more ammo and some stones. Her sling-shot was on the right side of her belt, and on the left was her pocket-knife.
"Buzz," Jessie whispered astonished. "You never cease to astound me."
"You're too kind," Buzz said proudly, slightly blushing at the same time. "Well, are ya ready now?"
"Yeah; got the commu-porter, I'm suited up for the occasion, and I've never been more determined than ever in my life. Send me into limbo, Buzz!"
"Alright then!" Buzz said happily, pressing the button the portal device. "Here we go, and good luck!"
With the button pressed, the portal device was then activated. Beeps of computer sounds were heard all over the room, a blur of colorful lights being formed all around. When the portal was big enough, Jessie took a deep breath, preparing for what ever lied within the corners of limbo. Her head turned to Buzz and Nosedive. Buzz tried to look brave and everything, but inside, he felt a deep type of concern for Jessie, wondering whether or not she would come back alive. Nosedive, well, he didn't hide his concern for Jessie at all. It was as plain as day on his face that he was worried whether or not she return with Canard, or return at all for that matter. She looked at his shoulder-length lemon drop blond hair and his ocean blue eyes, wondering if she would ever see that mischievous face of his ever again. The two grew to become very close friends, almost as if they were part of one another. To lose each other would be the same as to lose a part of themselves. But they would have to push their feelings aside, and try to do the right thing. Swallowing hard, Dive looked into Jessica's emerald green eyes and spoke to her.
"Promise that you'll come back alive, Jessie?"
"Don't worry, Dive. I will. I hafta, or we'll never be able to play any of those pranks on Wing and Duke."
Nosedive laughed dryly, but then went serious again.
"I'm serious, bud. Even if you can't find Canard, come back before Phil or the others find out yer missing and all. We can't celebrate Christmas without ya back at ho--er, the Pond. It won't feel the same without a fourteen year old boyish brunette there."
"Dive, this' a RESCUE mission, not a SUICIDAL mission."
There's a difference between them? he thought roughly and concerned at the same time. "Just don't get killed, okay?"
"Alright," Jessie promised.
Nosedive took Jessica into his arms and hugged her tightly. Jessie quickly wrapped her arms around Dive's neck and embraced him back. Their embraces started to make Buzz feel as though he should leave his bunk and give the two some time alone. He wasn't that dumb though; he learned what could happen if a guy and a girl were left alone in a bedroom. Besides, it was his room, so he had a right to be here. Jessie believed that his hug was just his way of telling her that he wanted her to come back alive, but to Dive, it was a symbol of how he truly felt about her. When she took her arms off of Dive's neck, she seemed to have been as serious as she was a few seconds ago. Nosedive pretended not to show any emotion either, but inside, he was praying to God, Jesus, and the Angels of Life and Christmas to keep Jessie safe from danger, harm, and to bring her back from the jaws of the unknown.
"Well, I better be leaving now. Be back soon, Dive. I PROMISE. Buzz; Merry Christmas."
Giving a farewell wave to Nosedive and Buzz, Jessica stepped into the hole of bright and flashing colors. The portal was then closed, swallowing Jessie up hole. The rest was up to her now. All they could now, was pray that she would come back to them alive, and if possible, with Canard himself.
"Good luck, Jessie," Dive whispered to himself. Don't die on me, my love.
Meanwhile, at the Anaheim Pond, Phil was pacing the floor madly. No one knew exactly why, but anyone could assume that it was in anger and in fear for the welfare of a certain brunette that wasn't in her bunk for some apparent reason. Wildwing saw the worry on his face and touched him on the shoulder. He sprained up in surprise.
"Who--oh," Phil sighed in relief, seeing that it was only Wildwing, WITHOUT his mask and in his street clothes. "Wing; you nearly gave me a heart attack."
"You'll be giving YOURSELF a heart attack with that beer gut of yours, Phil," Wildwing countered, slightly poking him in the belly. "What's with you right now? You look worried for some reason."
"Can you blame me?" Phil asked, sounding a little bit angry. "Would be too if your only niece was somewhere out in Anaheim, with a hundred and five temperature, no idea where she is, and you told her to stay in her room until she recovered from her flu!"
"Phil, for once, calm down!" Wildwing ordered him, shaking him slightly. "She's with Dive. They went to Orbital Industries to give Buzz a Christmas Present. They'll be back around noon or two."
"I just hope that she goes nowhere else BESIDES O.I," Phil grunted. "Jessica obviously got it from Meranda. That older sister of mine was ALWAYS testing my dad's temper. Going places she was never allowed to go to, staying up past curfew, and sneaking away. She's got too much of my sister in her. It's the female Polmfeather curse in her blood."
Wildwing couldn't help but laugh a little bit. When he was around Jessie's age, maybe a few years older, people would say something about 'he gets it from his dad' or 'he gets it from his mom'. The same went for Nosedive as well. Everyone kept saying that Wildwing received his looks from his dad, and some of his personality from his mother. Nosedive, well...no one would believe it unless they saw it for themselves, but, he received his mischievousness and playfulness from his dad. From his mom, well, mainly the yellow color in his hair. The rest is still to be found out for now. Phil glanced at his watch, which read eleven thirty.
"Well, the sooner she and Nosedive come back, the sooner I can stop worrying about her. I swear, that niece of mine drives me crazy!"
"She makes EVERYONE go crazy," Wildwing assured Phil. "Who wouldn't? She acts like a boy and prefers skateboarding and comics over make-up and pretty dresses. Not to mention makes Mallory's temper explode like a volcano every time she pours fake spiders into her laundry basket, and Duke angry whenever she replaces the pot of coffee with a pot of mud. Oh well. At least she doesn't put worms in anyone's boots."
"Once again from Meranda," Phil apologized. "She was always pulling pranks on the faculty lounge."
Wildwing had no choice but to agree. For once, Phil was right. Like mother, like daughter. Or in their case, Jessie is a younger version of Meranda, except not as rowdy or mischievous as her, or, as she used to be until she reached adulthood. Phil then looked at his watch again, his brown eyes widening in shock.
"Where DID the time go! You guys need to get ready; you're suppose to be the guests of honor for the children's choir!"
"Phil," Wildwing groaned. "You promised no more stunts for the rest of the Christmas holiday."
"It's for charity," Phil pleaded. "You appear, and the choir will be a HUGE success!"
"Is it for the orphanage again?"
"Not this time. THIS time, it's for the poor and to fund some hospitals in need of money and care for their patients. The Saviour Hearts group is trying to raise money to feed the poor and homeless people, and to find them homes. Not to mention the patients of the Orange and L.A. county hospitals are in needs of funding to buy for supplies and to take better care of their patients. PLEASE, Wildwing?" he begged. "It's Christmas Eve. You'll be helping out the less fortunate. Besides, didn't Grin tell everyone that Christmas time is a time when all creatures are at peace with each other, and when we all help one another?"
Wildwing groaned again, his arms folded around his broad and sturdy chest. God, he was getting sick and tired of all of these Christmas stunts! It was SO hard to get out of anything that Phil planned ahead of time, and the only way he and his friends could get out of ANY publicity stunt or public appearance was if there was an attack from Dragaunus or some other type of evil foe, lurking their evil faces in Anaheim.
"If I have to wear that stupid Santa suit again--"
"Wildwing, relax for once," Phil pleaded. "You just need to dress formally this time.
Oh great. A tuxedo, Wing thought to himself angrily. "Fine. But don't blame me if the others plot revenge on you, Phil."
Before Phil could ask what Wing meant by that, Wing had already went down to the Rec Room to tell everyone the bad news.
Meanwhile, Jessie fell through the portal of limbo, falling flat on her rear. When she sat up, she looked around to where she had fallen.
Where she was, no one knew its name or if it was even worthy enough to be called a 'land'. The sand below her was slightly lighter than the grains existing on the plant of Mars. The sky was a dark black, possibly even darker if it was the middle of night. Maybe it WAS night on this strange world. Alas, no stars were gazing through the pitch black night sky. No trees were in sight, or any signs of life as far as the eye could see. Giant hills of red grains were within the ken of the human eyes, but that was all. Not a sight worthy of being called even 'unusual'. In fact, it barely qualifies in the art of being called 'ugly'. No one could survive in such a barren wasteland. Or if there WAS civilization within a land such as this, how could they have survived in a terrain like THIS.
A beeping sound in the tracking device built into the commu-porter was heard. Jessie pulled it out of her pocket and scanned it around the entire land surrounding her. It beeped the loudest and fastest when she pointed to the North.
I guess that's where Canard is, she thought. I just hope that I don't run into any type trouble along the way...
As she started to walk, the sands making a gritting sound beneath her feet, Jessie heard strange noises coming in her direction from behind. When she turned around, the teenage tommy saw two soldiers standing behind her. Both had shoulder straps around their bare arms, connecting a dark snake symbol in the middle of their chests. Their bodies were as red as the sand, and their chests were broad and muscular, with thrice the strength of even Grin's muscles. Their armlets were black as well, and in their left hands, each soldier contained a spear in their hands, the blades sharp, pointy, and deadly to any of its victims.
Under their immense torsos, their pants were tight and black as well, with silver boots reaching just below their knees. The sand soldier on the right had chest length black hair tied in a pony tail with a small pointy beard on his chin. The sand soldier on the left had shoulder length black hair, but in the same style as the soldier next to him. But THIS one had a moustache, connecting to a beard around his chin and sideburns. They looked at each other, and smiled.
"Well, well, Conrad," the first soldier said in a German accent. "It appears we have yet ANOTHER prisoner to be taken to the cells."
"Indeed, Goldan," Conrad spoke in a Canadian accent. "So many have come to Prison Island this month alone. Now this young...what were they...humans? Yes, humans. Now this young female human shall be added in."
"I'm not going ANYWHERE with the likes of you bastards!!" Jessie exclaimed.
"Ah; a BOLD human. SO rare in these parts," Goldan complimented. "Oh well. 'Tis a shame we'll have to break her spirit in the end. Conrad; activate the capture beams."
"With pleasure, Goldan," Conrad smirked.
When Conrad held his spear up, the blade of it started to glow a pale white. When Jessie tried to run, the light of the spear turned into whips, wrapping herself up tightly. The spear having telepathic powers, Conrad and Goldan dragged Jessie off to the prison that they were talking about. She quickly hid her commu-porter inside of her black boots to they wouldn't find it if they decided to do a search on her. The sand of the ground was tearing through her clothes, scarring her knees.
Jessie was disgusted with the prison she was dragged to. Hardly any air to breath, and each cell had only one window for staring out. Nothing much to stare at except for the hills of sands, but it was a better view than the prison cells. The stench of rotting corpses and fresh blood would be enough to make anyone pass out. Every prisoner that they walked past barely had any meat on their bones, and were either sleeping or hanging on the cell bars, begging for the guard's mercy on them. Conrad opened up a cell on the right, while Goldan shoved her in there, the teenage girl falling on her abdomen. While the two jail guards walked off talking merrily and laughing, Jessie kept pulling on the jail bars.
"Let me out of here, you red-skinned bastards!" she shouted at the top of her lungs. "You can't keep me chained up in here like some thief or slave!!!"
Jessica kept pulling on the bars harder and harder, with little success. Despite it all, she kept trying and trying, until a male's voice, sounding in despair and weakness, spoke.
"It's no use, kid. Don't bother. I tried; the bars are unbreakable."
"You may be the type that gives up easily, man. But I'm not!"
"Heh; you remind me of me two years ago."
Unable to see him in the dark side of the prison, Jessie kindly asked the man to step into the lighter part of the cell. When he did, Jessie's emerald green eyes widened in shock. This man was really a male duck! Tan-brown feathers, dark brown eyes, a tattoo on his left arm, and a dark brown patch on his beak. This must've been the Canard who Wildwing was talking about when Jessie first met the ducks. Except that he looked somewhat different than what Jessie had imagined. Wildwing had told her that Canard was a buff and brave duck, who helped them in the battle for freedom. But THIS Canard, well, his blue leotard was torn in his torso, arms, and legs. His shoulder pad was cracked in the ends, his body was bruised and scarred, and his once-been muscles appearing to have been shrunk some.
"Who--who are you?"
"The name's Thunderbeak, kid. Canard Thunderbeak."
Well, at least I FOUND him, Jessie thought to herself. "I'm Lockheart. Jessica Lockheart. But everyone calls me Jessie for short. I heard a lot about you Canard."
"How? And from who?"
"A duck named Wildwing Flashblade--"
"WILDWING FLASHBLADE?!" Canard exclaimed, as if he had the wind knocked out of him. "How do you know my best friend?!"
"Simple," Jessie started to explain. "While chasing your lizard enemy, Dragaunus, through the gateway portal, they ended up on the planet Earth, my home world. Wildwing and the others work for my uncle, Phil Polmfeather, as a professional hockey team and crime fighters. They've been fighting Dragaunus ever since then. MUCH has happened while you were gone, Canard...."
With that, each one of them exchanged stories of what happened to themselves and the others over the three years that had passed. Canard told Jessie that the worm he was sucked up in brought him onto Prison Island, where he was taken prisoner in these jail cells. Several times he tried to escape, only to be captured again. He helped others escape, but as punishment, was beaten to a pulp, finally breaking his will to try to escape again.
In return, Jessie told Canard of the ducks many adventures. After that, she described her life living as a pauper with a father who's only love was alcohol, until the Chicago Courts sent her to live with her uncle in Anaheim, where she could have a chance at life. She also described about his former employee, Calandra Drakeler, coming to Earth to help them in their battles against Dragaunus. When the teenage girl was telling him on how Sonica came to Earth, Canard stopped her suddenly.
"My baby sister? She's alive? With Wing and the others?"
"Yep. She's breathing and all, and with us. Do you want to see her again?"
"Yes, but how? Like I told you before, there's no way out. I tried escaping several times, only to get beaten to a pulp time and time again."
"That's not the Canard Thunderbeak Wildwing Flashblade told me about! He said you ranked the best amongst us all, even when you turned the mask over to him. You're not letting a few lost causes going to break your spirit, are you?! I had to put up with living with my over-abusive father for six years, and not for one moment, had I gave up! I kept going and going, using it to make me tough, giving me my ability to be tough and stand up to anyone who tries to push me around! Are you going to help, or do I have to do this one on my own? It's a good thing Sonica's not here to see this. To see her own big brother, one who she respected all of her life, giving up before he even tried. If she saw this, she would be ashamed of you...."
Canard stared at Jessie, his brown eyes widened in shock. A young girl, barely above five feet tall, actually having the nerve to stand up to him, over six feet, and several years older than her. To mention that his sister would be ashamed of him if she saw him like this. He gulped, and perked up again.
"Your right, Jessie. What WAS I thinking! I can't let these guys get the best of me. Let's find a way out of here! Any ideas?"
"Well, I THINK I have one..."
Jessie nodded her head to the guard in front of their cell, rubbing his shoulder intensely. This guard was a different one, though. He looked like Goldan, except he had no moustache, and his hair was a blonde color instead of a black color. Jessie calmly walked up to the soldier and smiled seductively.
"Hey, handsome. What seems to be the problem?"
"Shoulder, prisoner. No matter what I do, I can't get the pain to go away."
"Hmmm...maybe I CAN help. Are the prisoners allowed to give the guards rubs? If they are, I can cure the pain..."
"Feel free to touch me anywhere you want to, baby," the soldier said seductively. "If you do a good enough job, maybe I can take you out of the cell long enough to show a REAL good time."
Jessie giggled a little bit, but in her mind, she was ready to vomit from that request. Her hands went to the soldier's shoulders, and she slowly started rubbing them. He groaned and sighed while she kept massaging him. Canard looked at her strangely. She was REALLY good actress, pretending to actually wanting to touch him. How she could hide her disgust for someone like him
"Good, baby, good," the soldier groaned. "Oh yeah. That's the spot right there. Ahhhh....good baby. OH yeah. Mmm...that feels EXCELLENT. Keep this up, and I'll keep you for the rest of your sentence here on Prison Island. Mmm...."
The guard then fell asleep, snoring loudly. Jessie smirked, then, remembering Duke's teaching's in how to grab something without the victim feeling anything, she reached her arm out to grab the guard's keys. Carefully pulling them off his belt, she put the key in the keyhole, opening the gate.
"We're free, Canard. Let's move!"
"But what about the other prisoners?" Canard asked. "They've committed no crimes on Prison Island, yet they were locked up in here as well."
Jessie looked at the other cells as well. The faces of innocent people were desperate and hungry. Most of the prisoners were innocent children, MUCH younger than Jessie themselves. Feeling pity on them, Jessie opened each one of their cells. They were now free. Quickly, each prisoner ran out of their cells, rejoicing for their freedom. One of them, a girl of four years of age, with her red hair dirty from slave work, ran up to Jessie and smiled.
"Thank you, saviour,"
The girl then ran out to join her parents. Jessie stared back at Canard, smiling as well.
"Well; whatdya know. I'm a hero to her."
"Congrats, kiddo," Canard complimented, taking the downed guard's blaster. "Now let's beat it before we run into more trouble."
Quickly running out of the cell room, Canard and Jessie ran into four more guards. He quickly blasted at their heads, each soldier dead as a door knob. Jessie stared at Canard in shock, but he explained that they had it coming for them, with the way he treated him and the other prisoners in their prison cells. Jessie would've argued at that point, but immediately stopped herself. She was starting to turn into Wildwing!!! If not him, her mom. Her mother would argue constantly with her elders, and now she was starting to turn into that as well. Jessie decided to lay off the arguing until they reached Earth again. There, she would have to give a HUGE explanation to the others and her uncle. Before they reached the other end of the doorway, Canard stopped and turned his head to his right.
"Canard, why the heck are you stopping?!"
"It's just for a few seconds, kid," Canard explained. He then shot at a container at his right, which was where his puck blaster was. He grabbed it and put it in his belt pouch. "Can't leave without my trusty weapon."
"Whatever," Jessie groaned. "We don't have time for this, Canard. We gotta leave now, before the guards catch us and we end up in prison again."
Canard groaned again. This was the first time a teenager started to boss him around. What was happening to the adolescent clan these days? Talking back to their elders and disobeying them at times. They were becoming more juvenile every decade. Deciding to lecture her later, Canard followed Jessie on the stairs and outside. The former prisoners were running up the hills, shouting thanks to Canard and Jessie for freeing them. But the two's victory wasn't to last much longer, for more of the soldiers ran out of the tower to torture Canard and Jessica for escaping and freeing their prisoners. While Canard held them off with his puck blaster, Jessie used the commu-porter to contact Buzz.
"Buzz! Buzz come in! It's me, Jessie! I got Canard. We need a ride back home, and we need one right now!"
With that, a portal was slightly opened up next to Canard and Jessie. They quickly jumped in before the guards could throw their spears at them. They tried to follow them, but the portals closed before they could charge. After swirling through the colored lights, the twosome were back in Buzz's room.
"Alright! We're back on Earth!"
"Finally," Canard sighed in relief. "Away from that awful prison."
"So THIS' Canard," Buzz said in astonishment. "Nearly everything I was told about from Wing, except I think that his muscles shrank some."
"Yours would too if you've been denied good food and tortured for nearly two years," Canard snapped at him. Seeing Buzz looking frightened, he softened up some. "Sorry, kid. But after what all of the people and I went through, it can make just about anyone a grouch."
"Hey; where's Dive?" Jessie asked.
"Ummm...well, there's some bad news I got to tell you guys. While you were gone, Jess, Nosedive got a call on his communicator from Wildwing. At some Christmas concert where they were the guests of honor, Dragaunus' minions attacked them. Something about them being the cause of a computer problem in the Raptor."
"Canard, c'mon! You'll get to see Wildwing in action this time!"
Patting Jessie lightly on the shoulder, Canard used Jessie's commu-porter to bring them to the theater where the concert was going on, and all of the danger.
At the theater, everything was being blown to smithereens. The stages were blasted apart, people were running around, screaming their heads off, and little kids were crying for their parents to protect them. Shots of laser blasts and pucks were exchanged, left and right and vice versa. Calandra was tearing a hunter drone apart with one of her knives, but was caught from behind by three more drones. The Russian vixen struggled to free herself from the robot's grasps of pain, but it was of no use. A golden saber quickly cut through the metal of the drones, taking Cal into her savior's arms. Passionately and hungry Duke and Calandra kissed each other.
"God, I love you."
"Later, love. Right now, we have an emergency to deal with."
Drones were destroyed from left and right, but more kept forming in each direction. Tanya and Sonica were trying to locate the source of their reappearances while the others kept destroying the ones that kept returning. Grin didn't NEED a weapon to destroy the hunter drones; his fists could do it without a single problem what so ever. Two hunter drones snuck up behind Mallory. One of them turned on a blaster inside its left arm. Before the drone could blast Mallory's brains out, two pucks from nowhere came out and dented the drone's blaster, and blowing the two robots in the process. When Mallory turned her head to see who had done the blasts, there was no one in sight. All of the drones were destroyed by the blasts of pucks from nowhere. No more could have been made.
"Sonica! Tanya!" Wildwing shouted.
The green-haired beauty and the blonde genius quickly ran to Wildwing to see what the problem was.
"Were you the one's that shot all of those drones?"
"No," Tanya answered. "Sonica and I were too busy defusing the device that sent all of those Hunter Drones to us."
"Dive? Duke? Mallory? Callie? Grin?"
Nosedive, Duke, Grin, Mallory, and Calandra denied being the one's killing off the drones. Dive was with Wing the whole time, Duke and Calandra were busy killing off the drones on THEIR side, Grin was doing the one's on his, and Mallory couldn't have because she was trying to strangle her own drones. The whole predicament was confusing for Wildwing. Who could've done the blasting? Everyone else denied being the ones who did so, the police didn't use pucks for weapons, and the public was too afraid to fight back.
"Hey Wing! Maybe you ought to ask me!"
"Huh? Who said that? Where are you?"
The sky was dark then, with the rain clouds still in the sky, producing a light shower of rain. Canard stepped out of the darkness, so that he was in the vision of all of the ducks. Everyone one of them was in shock, even Grin himself, who was usually the last person to be shocked. Wildwing of course, didn't believe it was the actual Canard, only a hologram, robot, or even the Chameleon in disguise.
"CANARD?!" Sonica exclaimed in shock.
"Don't fall for it, Sonica," Wildwing commanded, putting his right arm in front of her. "It could be a robot, or the Chameleon in disguise. I'll make sure."
Putting his thumbs at the eye sides of the mask of Drake DuCaine, Wildwing scanned Canard's body, only to be in complete shock.
"I...it CAN'T be...but it IS...."
"What? What is it, Wildwing?" Mallory asked.
"According to the mask...it's a REAL DUCK!!!!"
"You mean....," Dive spoke, astonished. "It's NOT a hologram, a robot, or Chameleon in disguise?"
"Apparently not, baby bro."
"Then that means...." Sonica whispered. "BRO!!!!"
Sonica quickly ran to Canard, wrapping her arms around his neck, crying happy tears. Canard took Sonica into his arms and twirled her around into the air. Despite the fact that she was only shorter than him by two and a half inches, lifting his baby sister into the air was no problem for the tannish male duck. Canard lightly dropped Sonica onto the floor, and the two long lost siblings embraced once again.
"Sonica," Canard whispered to his little sister. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again, sis. After I heard that Dragaunus murdered mom and dad and zapped you into limbo, I thought you were dead."
"I wound up in Australia, big bro," Sonica explained, her slight Australian accent giving him that hint. "I thought YOU were dead, after Dragaunus told me that he zapped you into limbo..."
"Uhh, Canard?" Duke asked, accidentally breaking the tender moment between Canard and Sonica. "Not that we're not glad to see you again, but, how the heck did you get out of limbo and onto Earth?"
"I had a little 'angel' guide me to freedom," Canard answered, a twinkle in his eyes. He then whistled in the darker corner of the theater.
Well...I guess it's time to accept my punishment...., Jessie thought to herself. Gathering up her courage, which was not easy for someone like her, Jessie stepped out of the darkness, into everyone else's view.
"JESSICA?!" Wildwing exclaimed in shock. "What the heck are YOU doing here?!"
"YOU did this?" Sonica asked. "You brought my big brother back to me?"
Jessie nodded to her, trying to look brave and sincere. Sonica smiled and brought Jessie up to her chest, kissing her cheeks and forehead.
"You wonderful, WONDERFUL child! Thank you SO much!"
"Yuck!" Jessie exclaimed, rubbing the kiss feel off her face. "Geez, Sonica. Not in public!!! I got a reputation to maintain, ya know."
"Jessie, we're the only ones who saw it," Mallory assured her.
"Yeah, but if I know Blondie boy right," Jessie argued. "He's gonna tell everyone in school."
"Jessica," Wildwing said, sounding like a grump. "HOW exactly did you bring Canard to us?"
"Well," Jessie began to speak. "Wing. By...by...."
Jessie then collapsed in Canard's arms, falling asleep. Wildwing stared at her, shocked, then looked at Canard.
"Give her a break, Wing," Canard pleaded. "She went through a lot this night to bring me back to you guys."
"Tell us back at home, Canard," Wildwing said.
While they were driving home, Wildwing steering the Migrator, he noticed Canard getting restless in his chair, holding Jessica in his arms while she was sleeping.
"Duke; take over."
Leaving Duke with the steering wheel, he walked up to Canard.
"Need a break, bud?"
"Thanks," Canard answered, handing Jessie over to him.
When Wildwing cradled Jessie into his arms, Canard felt like smirking. Hard to believe that the girl resting in Wildwing's arms was the one who snapped reality into him, shouted at him to buck up and regain his spirit again. Right now, she looked so innocent and helpless, sleeping on Wildwing's shoulder like a little baby. Wildwing's gloved hand gently patted Jessie's head.
"If I didn't know any better," Canard said while laughing. "I'd say that she was your daughter, Wing."
"Very funny, Canard," Wildwing groaned. "I get enough of that from Calandra and your baby sister. I don't need you starting too."
"Relax, bud," Canard ushered him, putting his hands up in defence. "I was only teasing ya. Besides, I think it's kind of cute. From what Jessie said, lots happened while you were on Earth fighting Dragaunus in my place."
Back at the Pond, after Wildwing snuck Jessie past Phil and brought her to her room, Canard explained what he went through the past two years after the worm clung onto him in the gateway portal. When the worm came upon Prison Island, it somehow released him, where he fell flat on the sand. Two soldiers then dragged him into the dungeons, where he and the other innocents that were locked up in there were tortured for no reason. He tried several times to escape the prison, only to be tortured more and more, where he just finally gave up. That was, until Jessie arrived in prison, and rekindled his will to fight. The rest, everyone else figured out.
"I wish Jessie would've TOLD me that she was planning to go into limbo to try to bring you back," Wildwing grunted.
"If she did, would you or Phil allowed it?" Sonica asked him, as if arguing with him.
"No, and with good reason. And it DOESN'T help when you don't tell me these things, Dive."
"She made me promise not to tell anyone, bro. It's like you told me before: 'When you make a promise, you have to keep it.'"
"Normally I would argue further than that, Nosedive," Wildwing grunted. "But since it's near Christmas time, I'm going to hold it over for a few days." Wing then took off the mask and handed it to Canard. "Canard, buddy. Since you're back among us, there's no need for me to be leader anymore. I hand the mask back to you, friend."
"Nah, Wildwing. YOU keep it," Canard said, pushing the mask to him. "You make a better leader than I EVER could in a thousand years. You earned the rank. Besides, from the way Jessie spoke of you, anyone would have thought of you as a god of some sort."
"What did Jessie tell ya?" Wildwing, sounding dumbfounded.
"Just about to make me realize you can do a better job than I could ever. My leadership had nearly everyone killed, while your leadership lead everyone to victory. Stay as leader, Wing. You're more worthy of the rank than I could ever be."
"Canard," Wildwing spoke while remounting the mask again. "Thank you."
"Dive? I owe you an apology," Canard apologized. "I thought were just a flaked out dummy. But you managed to learn how to fly the Migrator in less than 10 minutes, when it took me nearly a week in training to do so. Guess I did the right thing by allowing you onto the Resistance."
Nosedive grinned in victory, finally managing to earn Canard's respect. Perhaps there was hope for the tan duck yet.
Christmas morning then came. All of the ducks gathered around the tree, waiting for Jessie to wake up and join them.
"C'mon, Wing. Do we HAVE to wait for the tommy to awaken just so we can open our presents?" Dive asked, losing patience to open his gift.
"Just a few more minutes, little bro. Be patient, Nosedive."
"She's probably not even out of bed yet," Dive groaned.
Suddenly, the brunette teenage tomboy snuck up behind Dive and attacked him.
The surprise was enough to send Dive flying in the air, but instead, he just suddenly sat up and turned around. Jessie laughed hard enough for her to fall on the couch. Dive looked embarrassed and angry at Jessie for nearly scaring the daylights out of him.
"Very funny, Jessie."
"Gee, Merry Christmas to you TOO, Dive."
"Can we open out presents now, bro?"
"Oh all right. But don't get too carried away. We all know how over excited you get around Christmas time."
Nosedive had no choice but to make that promise to Wildwing. Gifts were exchanged from left to right to and from everyone. Well, to everyone except Canard. Everyone apologized for that. If they knew he would be coming back, they would've gotten him a gift as well. He forgave them, saying that his freedom and to be reunited with his friends and family were the two greatest gifts for him ever. When Jessie opened her gift from Dive, she thought she would faint: he knew that she wanted the skateboard with the Star Wars logo on it.
"Dude! Dive; how'd you know I wanted this for Christmas?!"
"You're obsessed with skateboarding and Star Wars, so, I put two and two together, and...that's what ya get."
"No prob, and thanks for the JLA comics. I've been wanting those SO badly, but I never had the money to buy them. How'd--never mind. I think I know how."
Jessie smiled as she unwrapped the other gifts. From Duke, there was the newest album from Youngstown, the newest boy band. He said that since she was obsessed with that type of stuff, it would be the perfect gift for her. He also thanked her for the white turtleneck and hair gel, but it made everyone know more of the fact that he's vain about his looks. Mallory's gift to Jessie were posters of *NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, Ninety-eight degrees, Five, and Youngstown. She thanked her SEVERAL times for the posters, and in return, was thanked for the red dress and make-up kit. From Tanya, it was basically science books. Normally, Jessie would throw a gift like that in the fire, but it was the thought that counted, and she was having a MAJOR hard time in Biology, so the books would come in handy, so she thanked Tanya for the gift. In return, Tanya thanked Jessie for the science kit. Sonica gave Jessie an Indian Jones computer game, and thanked her dearly for the cashmere sweater. Wildwing gave her two Star Wars posters from each Star Wars movie, and a couple of Star Wars action figures: one of Obi Wan Kenobi, and another of Darth Maul Sith. Jessie hugged him affectionately, almost causing Wildwing to suffocate.
"JESSIE!! Jess, I need to breathe! You're cutting off my circulation!"
"Huh? Oh...heh; sorry, Wing."
"Ehhh... the new goalie equipment is thanks enough, Jess."
From Grin, nothing special. Just a Star Wars book called 'Shadows of the Empire'. In return, he got a new Yoga mat and Chinese orchestra CD. Everyone got a different gift from every person. Everyone loved the gifts they got, and all were favored equally. The Spirit of Christmas rang around Anaheim, and all through Earth. For that day, love and hope was given to every loving life on the planet. Let this be a lesson to anyone who celebrates the season of Christmas: it is not of receiving, but of sharing and giving, and to be with the ones you love. So, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, and Happy Kwanza to everyone around Earth, and a Happy New Year. May you all receive happiness and love.