ENTER THE VIPER Quacker Jax-Vanderflock and Marina LeWebb THE ARRIVAL Act One It was a peaceful night at Fort Knox. The stars were shining magnificently. The moon glowed brightly, standing out in the midnight sky like a radioactive cheese wheel. Trees and bushes rustled as a gentle breeze blew through the area surrounding the largest cache of gold in the United States. The guard on duty that night was a young clean-shaven man with blond hair. He leaned back in a chair and turned to the next page of his magazine. Without looking up, he grabbed a cup of coffee and sipped it. He then put the coffee back and took a bite out of a glazed donut. The guard's ears picked up a noise. Afterburners, he thought. He just passed it off as a plane flying overhead and took another drink of coffee. But then the noise grew louder, and stopped suddenly. The man could barely hear the next noise, which sounded like an air-lock decompressing. The man reached underneath his chair and grabbed a firearm before running out of his booth and into the midnight air. He looked around for a couple of seconds, but saw only fauna and an owl. He inhaled some late-night air and walked back. But then he heard a rustling in the bushes that changed his mind, and he spun around to see a dark figure emerge and approach him. "Halt!" the guard ordered. Still the thing came. It was larger than an average human. "Hey buddy, I said to stay put!" The thing spoke with a British-sounding accent. "Young man," he began, "please do not throw your life away challenging me. Simply step aside so I can make a quick withdrawal." "Not on my watch buster!" said the guard. "Your actions are forcing me to kill you," said the thing. "Kill me?" the guard tapped his gun's nozzle twice. "I got a fully- loaded Uzi in my hand buddy. Now either get lost, or be turned into Swiss cheese!" The thing sighed. "I did not want to kill you, but you have brought this upon yourself," it said, almost guiltily. It walked forward to reveal the head of a snake, gold all over, even on the fangs and in the whites of his eyes. "I warned you Kaa," said the guard. The guard pointed his Uzi at the serpent's head and fired. Instead of blood and screams of agony, what he got were sparks and the "pa-ting" of a bullet against metal. "What the..." The guard dropped his gun and backed away from the bulletproof serpent nervously. The reptile darted forward and grabbed the human with a four-fingered clawed hand and flicked his wrist. Before the guard could scream, he felt a sharp pain in his neck and blacked out. His spinal cord had been snapped completely in half. ***** Tanya Jax-Vanderflock ran down the hallway, huge blond mop bouncing, wiping oil off her hands with a rag. She was so excited. The genius girl had a huge smile on her face. Quacker is gonna love this so much, she thought. She found the door to her and Quacker's bedroom and knocked. The wizard duck had Hit Žem High, a Space Jam track, blasting from the stereo. "Come in," he said from the other side. Tanya punched in a code, and the door slid open. Quacker Jax was sitting on their bed juggling some sort of a blue mass. "Quacker! You know those um, modifications you uh, wanted me to make on the Migrator?" Tanya asked. "You didn't," he said. "I did!" she declared. Quacker Jax-Vanderflock dropped the three pieces of blue mass. It hit the ground with a splat and bounced briefly. He grinned and ran out of the room, heading to the garage. Tanya smirked and rubbed her palms together as she followed. ***** The two ducks ran into the garage, with Tanya close behind Quacker Jax. He took one look at the Migrator and was amazed. "Tanya! I love it!" he exclaimed. Near the back of the Migrator, on the roof, was a seat and a pair of powerful laser cannons, none of which were there two days previous. "The chair and um, the uh, cannons can turn 360 degrees, in either direction. The cannons are designed mostly for um, anti-air purposes, but they can hit ground targets too!" Quacker Jax jumped up and climbed onto the top of the Migrator and sat down in the chair. He put his hands on the cannon triggers. "How do you make it turn?" he asked. "Just lean," she answered. Quacker Jax leaned as far as he could to the right, and the seat and cannons spun quickly in a counterclockwise direction. He shifted his weight to the left and spun that way. He hollered like a cowboy the whole time. Tanya blushed. "Do you like it?" she asked. "Yes!" he exclaimed, jumping down on the floor. "Thank you Tanya!" "Ah, it was nothin'," said Tanya. Quacker Jax put his arms around Tanya's waist and pulled her close. She put her hands on his muscular chest. "Another reason for me to love you," said QJ. "I try," she giggled. "You know I'd do anything for you." "And me for you," he whispered. The two ducks closed their eyes and engaged in a deep romantic kiss, with two tongues sliding into different mouths. Tanya put her arms around Quacker Jax's neck. QJ heard the door to the garage open. He opened his right eye to spy Wildwing staring open-mouthed at the duck couple. He thought quickly. "Get off me woman!" he yelled, jumping backwards from Tanya. He tried his best to lie, not one of his best talents. "What would Wildwing say?" "He'd say you weren't fooling anyone," said Wildwing. Tanya blushed even more and grinned like an idiot. Wildwing pointed a thumb over his shoulder. "Come on you two, we got a game in one hour." "Well uh, I'd better go get changed then!" said Tanya, running out of the room and turning the corner. Quacker Jax and Wildwing walked to the elevator. Wing looked around and whispered to Quacker Jax. "Um... I'm sorry if I interrupted anything," he apologized. "I know how much you love Tanya." "Forget it, I know it wasn't intentional. But had you been Nosedive, your fate would have been much worse." QJ thought about how, a couple weeks previous, Nosedive had snuck into the garage and videotaped one of his and Tanya's make-out sessions in the back of the Migrator. Once Quacker Jax found out, he gave Nosedive the beating of his life. Tanya was so embarrassed, she didn't bother showing her face the day after. "What are you boys talking about?" Gretchen asked, bringing Quacker Jax back into reality. "Oh, nothing," he lied. "Are you ready to play Gretchen?" asked Wildwing. Gretchen hit her palm with a fist. "I'm ready to waste Atlanta!" "I noticed that your shot's been kind of errant the last couple of games. Do you still want to start, or should I let someone else fill your position?" Wing asked. "No, I think I'll be fine," Gretchen answered. "Mallory gave me some extra practice last night, helped me out with my mechanics." "Hey, has anyone seen Turbulence today?" asked Quacker Jax. "I saw her this morning at breakfast, but she's been somewhere else ever since," said Gretchen. "I'm gonna go find her," said QJ. And with that, he turned and went into another hallway, where the majority of the sleeping quarters were. ***** After he found Turbulence's bedroom, Quacker Jax punched in the code quickly and stepped back as it slid open. He reared back slightly and put his hands out in front of him at the sight: Turbulence and Nosedive, laying on her bed, cuddled up closely. Four surprised blue eyes stared at him. "Geez, whoever wrote this script was on a romance kick," Quacker Jax mumbled. "Excuse me! Do you mind?" said Turbulence. "Hey man, knock on the door first!" said Dive. "Um... sorry?" said the wizard. "What do you want Quacker Jax?" Turby demanded. "We have a game in one hour. You two, come get ready. You can finish this little escapade tonight," said Quacker Jax. "Oh my God, I completely forgot!" said Turbulence. "Later Angel," said Dive. He rolled off the bed and jogged out of the room. "You comin' Turbulence?" asked Quacker Jax. "Oh, I'll be there in a minute," Turbulence answered. "The game itself begins in one hour," said Quacker Jax. "We have warm-ups, changing, the starting lineup intros." "Don't worry QJ, I'll be there in time," she assured. Quacker Jax approached her. "Come on girly-girl, let's go," he said. The long-haired male duck scooped Turby up and slung her over his shoulder. "Aaah! Put me down!" she laughed. "Let me think for a second." One second passed. "No," he said. Quacker Jax walked out of the room with Turb over his large shoulders like a towel, his arms around her calves and the back of her thighs. As QJ pressed the button for the elevator, Lindsay turned the corner and saw them. "Quacker Jax, you are such a flirt!" she laughed. As the elevator door opened, he said, "Hey, I'm just letting her try my new taxi service." "And now," said the voice of Matt Drakeston, "meet the competition!" Matt appeared behind Lindsay and picked her up, cradling her in his arms like a newborn infant. Matt and Quacker Jax looked at each other and nodded. "Man, we are smooth," said QJ. "You two are about as smooth as sandpaper," said Turbulence. "Or broken glass," Lindsay added. "Admit it girlfriend, you like the ride," Matt said, addressing Lindsay. The boys, both carrying a female teammate, stepped into the elevator and took it up. "What would Tanya say if she saw this?" asked Turb. "She would probably want her turn to be next," answered Quacker Jax. "Which you would provide, correct?" said Matt. "Oh yeah, definitely," said Quacker Jax The elevator door opened, and the ducks stepped out into the locker room, specifically the male half, where most of the male ducks were already in uniform. Quacker Jax approached Dive. "Nosedive, I believe this belongs to you," he said, handing the entire frame of Turbulence DuCaine to Nosedive. The 17-year-old took her and kissed her before letting her down on her feet. "You know the rules Turbulence, you change in the female's half of the locker room," Wildwing said as he pointed to another doorway. "No, really?" she said sarcastically as she left the male domain with a wink in Dive's direction. She threw her thigh-length blond hair off to one side, and disappeared. "You know big bro, it would be a lot better if you were to change that rule, make things a little more interesting," Nosedive suggested. "It'd be easy enough to just knock down a few walls. We have Grin to do it." Wildwing just looked at his little brother strangely and fished his number 00 jersey out of his locker. Quacker Jax, Matt and Nosedive looked at each other and grinned devilishly. "Youth," Duke said with a smile. "Admit it Duke, you'd love to see Marina in her feathers," QJ said. Duke put his number 13 jersey on. "So what's ya point eh?" he asked. "And Wing, it's the same scenario with you and Gretchy-girl," Quacker Jax continued. Wing slid his goalie mask on. "You have a one-track mind," he said, shaking his head. "No, actually I have a seven-track mind," said Quacker Jax. "What tracks are on your mind?" asked Nosedive. "Tanya, magic, video games and hockey," Quacker Jax answered. "That's only four," said Matt. "I think someone in here flunked math!" "Hey! I resemble that remark!" Nosedive snapped. Wildwing and Grin rolled their eyes. "Well, Tanya counts as three," Quacker Jax said. He found his stick and his own jersey, number 83, with his last name embroidered across the back. "Then hockey is one, and video games and magic are each one and a half." "You certainly have your priorities straight," said Wildwing. Matt put on his shirt and walked to the opposite wall. He opened the door and poked his head into the female portion of the locker room. "Are you girls almost done?" he asked. "We do have a game you know." Turbulence covered herself up with a towel. "You sick pig!" she yelled. "Get outta here!" Lindsay ordered. "What the heck do you think you're doing?!" Gretchen screamed. Mallory, who was fully dressed, approached Matt. "Scram!" she commanded. She put her hands on Matt's chest and shoved with all her might, sending him crashing to the ground. Quacker Jax and Nosedive helped him up. "Oh-ho-ho-ho, man!" said Nosedive. "I didn't know you had the guts to do that!" "Gimme four bro!" said Quacker Jax. The two ducks smacked palms. "That gets you benched Drakeston!" Wildwing yelled. "Lighten up G, and appreciate the female body for its beauty," said Quacker Jax. He turned to Matt and whispered, "So, um... how do they look?" Matt battled back a smile. "You would all be amazed at how many BABES we have got on this team!" he exclaimed. "And you people wonder why this is a TV-14 rated episode," said Nosedive. "Twas the need to feed a primitive urge," said Grin, currently in the Lotus position. "Yet, somehow, for some reason, I feel strangely... satisfied!" said Matt. Quacker Jax strapped on his helmet. "My turn!" he exclaimed. "Where's Tanya?!" The left wing/goalie darted toward the female half, but was stopped short by Wildwing's hand on the back of his jersey. "You don't wanna sit this game out too, do you?" Wildwing asked. "Man..." Quacker Jax sighed. "You know Wildwing, you're a total stickler," said Nosedive. "God sakes, you're only 21, so quit acting like you're 60!" "Yeah man, lighten up," said Matt. Wildwing simply ignored them and walked out onto the ice, as did Duke, to join his teammates who were already skating around. QJ, Dive and Matt looked at each other and smiled. "Should we?" asked Matt. "You know it Matt!" said Nosedive. The three male ducks walked toward the female sector again. Just as Quacker Jax was about to look, intent on finding Tanya, they felt their feet rise off the ground. "I told you to keep those levitation spells in a strong container," said Nosedive, addressing Quacker Jax. "I didn't cast anything," the wizard said. "Then why are we floating?" asked Matt. They all looked back to find Grin holding them by the collar. "I think maybe Grin has something to do with it," said Quacker Jax. "No more playing peeping Tom," said Grin. "You will find enlightenment and respect your female counterparts, or get thrown through a wall. It is your choice." "I'll take finding enlightenment for 500," said Nosedive. "Me too," said Quacker Jax. "I'll make that unanimous," Matt said, raising his hand. The female Ducks walked in, all in uniform: Coolbeak, Tanya, Mallory, Turbulence, Gretchen, and Lindsay. Lindsay walked to where Matt was suspended in mid-air and slapped him. Turbulence did the same to Nosedive. Tanya, who hadn't been seen by Matt, didn't slap Quacker Jax. She instead gave him an icy glare that penetrated into the depths of his soul. "What'd I do?" asked Quacker Jax. "Yeah, you should be slapping Matt, not me," said Nosedive, rubbing a red mark on his face. The female ducks walked onto the ice. "Thanks Grin, it's nice to know one of you boys has manners," Coolbeak said as she walked out. Grin, well, grinned, and then put Matt, Dive and QJ down. "'It's nice to know one of you boys has manners,'" Matt mimicked. "What a bunch of crap!" said Quacker Jax. "It hurts getting slapped by Turbulence. That girl keeps a loaded rocket launcher in her wrist," Nosedive remarked. They decided to lay off when Grin glared at them, and they hustled out onto the ice with their equipment. "I think someone's got a hockey stick up his butt," Quacker Jax mumbled. "Or in his case, a crystal," said Nosedive. "Hey, has anyone seen Marina or Chantal lately?" asked Matt. "Oh, they're around," said Quacker. "Probably out shopping or something," Dive suggested. ***** "Things look bad for the Mighty Ducks," the announcer bellowed. "With seven minutes to go in the third period, they trail the Atlanta Blaze 4- 3." "Remind me to shoot that guy after the game," Turbulence mumbled to Duke on the bench. The Ducks had their first line offense on the ice: Grin, Nosedive, Quacker Jax, Tanya and Mallory. As usual, Zelda scurried back and forth through the front row to follow the action. The small dragon had noticed some sloppiness with the Ducks' play tonight. Nosedive grabbed a loose puck and charged down the ice, drawing a pair of Blaze players. He flipped the puck to Quacker. QJ had to put the puck in between his legs and spin around to avoid the malicious stick of Atlanta's right wing. He took the puck up the ice and crossed the Ducks' logo painted on the ice. As Quacker Jax passed back to Nosedive, another player skated by and hooked him, to which there was no call. "Hey you!" Turby yelled, getting the attention of the officials. "Me?" asked one. "No, the other three blind mice," she said sarcastically. "Yes you! Don't you know a roughing penalty when you see one?" "You'd better tie a strong rubber band around that beak of yours," Duke whispered. "Yeah, they're starting to look mad," said Niagra. Mallory got the puck and instantly passed to Tanya. She was the only Duck without someone guarding her, which became untrue as soon as the Blaze's left wing slammed her into the boards. Quacker Jax heard her grunt and looked over. As soon as he saw what had happened, his rage bubbled over. "Hey! Don't ya know it ain't polite to pick on ladies?!" he screamed. QJ skated up to him, brought back his hockey stick like a baseball bat, and slammed the head into the Atlanta player's stomach. The human had the wind knocked out of him, and he slumped over, clutching his stomach. Quacker Jax glared at him for a second before tending to Tanya. "You OK sweet stuff?" he asked as he helped her up off the ice. "Well, yeah, but, why did you freaking smack the guy?!" she asked. "He hurt you," he said. "No one hurts my wife." "I'm fine," said Tanya. "That's not what the bruise on your cheek says." The officials stopped the game so they could personally discipline Quacker Jax. "You're gone, Jax!" one of the referees yelled. "I'm not gonna tolerate stunts like that!" "I'm ejected?" said Quacker Jax. "Yes!" "Me." "Yes!" "Me." "I just said that!" "You're throwing me out of the game." The referee grabbed his hair and yanked. While he wasn't looking, Quacker Jax wiggled his fingers and pointed them at the referee's skates. "Rrrrrrgggh! God! Just get outta here!" the referee commanded. "Alright, fine." As Quacker Jax skated backwards toward the bench, he laughed with glee as the same referee tried to skate and fell over on his face. The wizard had tied both his skates together. Tanya giggled to herself and winked at her boyfriend, to which he winked back. "And the Ducks' two-position superstar, number 83, Quacker Jax- Vanderflock, has just been ejected," the announcer, well, announced. Boos filled the Anaheim Pond as Quacker Jax giggled with delight at his spell. "Well guys, I'm done for today. Who wants to play now?" QJ asked as he skated into the team area. Duke raised his hand. "I'm goin' in," he declared. Quacker Jax slapped him four and sat down. "Duke," QJ called. "Yeah?" "Try and make these people cheer. They've put up with enough garbage for one day." Duke winked and nodded as he skated onto the ice. "Yo ref! I'm talkin' to you, you blind SOB!" The entire team looked at where the threat had come from and found Majzq, dressed in a #18 Turbulence DuCaine replica, sitting in the front row, with Zelda next to him. The referee looked over at the raccoon. "What's your problem kid?" the referee demanded. "My problem is that the officiating in this game has been 100% BS! A steaming pile of dragon crap could call this game better than you!" The raccoon exclaimed. The fans sitting near him stood up and cheered. Zelda looked at him disapprovingly. "Must you use such bad language?" asked Zelda. "In situations like this, yes," Majzq answered.
He returned his attention to the referee. "Who taught you how to frickin' call these games?" "Security, could you do your job?" said the referee. A pair of security guards started walking over to Majzq to escort him out of the Pond. "Oh, so now you need your little pussy security guards? Since you can't take the heat, get your butt out of the kitchen, and while you're out, buy a new pair of glasses!" "You're in for it now," said Zelda. "What the hell does he think he's doing?" Turbulence asked. "Hey, that's my best pal up there," said Quacker Jax. "When he does something, it's usually for a reason." The security guards caught up to Majzq and grabbed him by the arms. Zelda ducked out of the way as Majzq started battling. He back-kicked one guard in the groin and then elbowed him in the nose, then turned 90 degrees and socked the other guard in the jaw, and again in the stomach. The Jumbo- Tron showed the raging raccoon as he punched and kicked the security guards. Every single blue-clad security person in the arena rushed over to apprehend him. "That raccoon is nuts," Wildwing said to himself in goal. "Majzq, stop it!" Zelda pleaded. Majzq kicked the guards over and over again as they lay on the ground. Finally, a trio of fans popped up and grabbed him, with one putting Majzq in a headlock, one putting him in a half-nelson, and the third wrapping arms around the raccoon's knees. Mallory shook her head and asked, "What reason does he have for beating the crap out of the security guards?" Quacker Jax shrugged. "Hell if I know," he said. Quacker Jax shook his head as four security guards carried Majzq out of the Pond. The crowd gave him a standing ovation as he was forcibly escorted out. "A boy after my own heart," said Matt. Lindsay smacked him upside the head. ESCAPING THE SNAKE PIT Act Two A green flash of light appeared in the middle of the Raptor's cockpit, and the same golden reptile materialized. The snake-thing had a large bag slung over his shoulder. Dragaunus and Chameleon were in the room. "I have your gold, Lord Dragaunus," the gold reptile announced. He swung the bag and tossed it like a hammer to Dragaunus, who easily caught the bag. "Excellent work Viper!" Dragaunus exclaimed. Viper just looked at the ground. "What else must I do?" Viper asked. There was no emotion in his voice. Dragaunus looked into the bag and smiled evilly. "I have enough gold now," Dragaunus said. He looked over at a large cannon being constructed by Hunter Drones. Viper looked up. "Does that mean I am done here?" he asked hopefully. "Not yet," said Dragaunus. Viper looked down and sighed. Dragaunus continued. "I still need silver to power the Lightning Ray. Fetch me some." Viper put his hands on his hips. "Where am I supposed to find 300 pounds of silver?" "There is a shipment moving through Anaheim tomorrow, by armored car," the Saurian Overlord answered. "That is where you're supposed to find 300 pounds of silver." Viper frowned and looked at the ground again. "Why do you require me to steal and kill for you, lizard?" he demanded. "Because this is war! Things die and are destroyed in war!" A puff of smoke rose from each nostril. "Simply do this last task for me, and I'll send you back to that jungle planet from whence you came." "As you wish Lord Dragaunus," Viper sighed. He walked into the hallway and disappeared. "What's his problem?" Chameleon asked. He was sitting on the ground playing jacks. "You know these righteous heroic types," said Dragaunus. "Lizards like him get on my nerves." "You shoulda hired someone else then," said Chameleon. "Siege coulda easily snagged some o' that yellow stuff for ya." "The Ducks have us under constant surveillance, or have you forgotten!" Dragaunus pointed a wrist cannon at a Hunter Drone and fired, reducing it to a smoking pile of rubble. "They know nothing of Viper's presence. Besides, when I'm done with him, I'll do with him what I've done with all the others." "Limbo right?" "Precisely," said Dragaunus. ***** "Ya know Jax, that raccoon of yours is lucky those security guards aren't pressing charges," Klegghorn said. The cop and the duck were down at the Los Angeles Police Station. "A, Captain, he's not my raccoon,' and B, since I already paid bail, I get to skip your stupid lecture and take my friend home," Quacker Jax sneered. "Just keep him under control from now on," said Klegghorn. Quacker Jax put his hands in front of him and glared at the little cop. "What am I supposed to do, huh?" he asked. "I don't own the guy! I can't say, 'You're grounded,' and lock him in his room. It don't work that way. Now quit it with your law enforcement psycho-babble and unlock the freaking cell!" Klegghorn fished a key out of his trench coat pocket and walked into a long hallway. Quacker Jax followed. Klegghorn stuck the key into a cell. As Quacker Jax turned the corner, he could see that the occupant of the cell was Majzq Fleetpaw. "It's about time you got here!" Majzq exclaimed. "I would imagine that you knew this place pretty well," QJ sneered. "I do," said Majzq. "And I know quite well how bad jail sucks!" Klegghorn opened the door to the cell. "You're free to go, raccoon," said Klegghorn. He motioned at the entrance to the hallway. "I'm honored," Majzq said sarcastically. "Get your attitude and your tail outta here before I change my mind!" Klegghorn ordered, pointing at the doorway. Majzq looked ready to pounce on the tiny cop. Quacker Jax grabbed him by the collar. "Come on M-Coon," said the duck. "I think you've beaten up enough cops for one day." He pulled the raccoon out of the hall with the cells and out of the police department. When the duck and the raccoon got outside, Majzq brushed QJ's hands off his collar. "Let go!" he ordered. He pointed at his white Mighty Ducks jersey. "This is officially licensed NHL merchandise you're stretching!" "I couldn't care less," said Quacker Jax. Majzq "hmmphed." "How are we gettin' back to the Pond anyway?" the raccoon asked. "Wildwing let me take the Migrator, for once in his life," Quacker Jax answered. The two animals found the Migrator at the opposite end of the parking lot and got in. As Majzq put on his seatbelt, he noticed something... different about the Migrator. "I don't recall this thing having a CD player," Majzq noted. "12 hours ago, it didn't have the awesome sound system either," said Quacker Jax. He turned the key in the ignition and flipped on the new stereo. Loud bass thumping filled the Migrator over the voice of Ice Cube. Majzq bobbed his head and grinned. "This stereo system would make anyone 'Bow Down,'" he said, slipping in the title of the current song. Quacker Jax shook his head and mumbled, "This show definitely needs a different writer." The Migrator pulled out of the parking lot and shot down the street, afterburners blazing as it sped back to the Pond. ***** Back at the Pond, and more specifically, in the dining room, Majzq grabbed a big doughy pretzel and dipped it into a bowl of cheesy salsa, simultaneously bracing himself for Wildwing's wrath. "WHAT DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING?!" Wildwing demanded. "I think I was venting my anger," Majzq answered. "That little temper-tantrum you threw made the six o'clock news!" Wing yelled. Majzq took a chomp of his pretzel and leanded back in his chair. He shrugged and said, "Good. 20,000 people were cheering for me anyway." Wildwing rolled his eyes. "You can't punch out the security guards! Or cuss out the referees! ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE NOT PLAYING!!!" Majzq just looked at him, seeming unimpressed. Wildwing snorted. "You're suspended from EVERYTHING FOR TWO WEEKS!" Wing continued. Majzq lowered his brows. "What?" he said. "Since when were you my parent and guardian?" "I am the captain of this team," said Wildwing. "And as long as you live in this base, you will abide by the rules." Majzq shoved the rest of his pretzel in his mouth. "Oh yeah?" Majzq got up and walked backwards out of the room. "See this, you filthy pus-sucking maggot-ball?" The raccoon, who had five fingers, tucked in his thumbs and stuck out both middle fingers at Wildwing. "This is me, not following the rules." As he turned the corner and disappeared from sight, he called, "That's somethin' you'll never be able to do, you four- fingered phlegm-wad!" "Get back here Fleetpaw! I'm not done with you yet!" For once, Wildwing's orders were not followed. Majzq did not return. He pounded a table with both fists as Nosedive walked in. "Um... did I come to get an apple at a bad time? I can come back later you know," said Nosedive. Wildwing sat down and sighed. "No, go ahead," he said. Nosedive walked into the adjacent kitchen and opened the Ducks' titanic refrigerator. He hunted for an apple, but couldn't find one. "Wing, have you ever considered getting a smaller fridge?" said Nosedive. Wing put a hand over his eyes. "Please Dive, now is not the time. I have enough problems as it is." "What just happened?" "Majzq and me had an argument, and he ran off." "Where did he go?" "Ugh...I don't know." Wildwing just sat there and stared at the table. Nosedive put a hand on Wildwing's shoulder. "I'll go look for him if you want." "If you're goin', take a few Ducks with you. That raccoon is strong enough to give Grin a run for his money." ***** Majzq stomped into the garage and hopped on his motorcycle. Duke was in there doing something to his Duckcycle. "Hey, goin' somewhere?" Duke asked. "Yeah Duke, I'm just goin' out for awhile." "Remember to get back before 11. Otherwise Wing 'll chew ya out." Majzq slammed his helmet down and started his engine. "Give Wing a message for me." "Sure, no problem." "Tell him Majzq says, 'Go to Hell.'" And with that, the raccoon sped off, leaving Duke open-mouthed and wondering why Majzq was in such a bad mood. He scratched his head and shrugged and continued working on his Duckcycle. ***** Nosedive sped the Migrator down an empty Anaheim street late at night, accompanied by Grin and Turbulence in the back and Mallory in the other front seat. "Nice sound system Dive," said Turbulence. "Thank QJ, he put it in," said Nosedive. He turned to Mallory, who was peering over some sort of lighted homing signal. "Got anything on Majzq yet, Mallory?" Mallory shook her head. "Not a blippin' thing," she answered. "This is bad," said Grin. "Have you guys considered some of his favorite hangouts?" asked Turbulence. "Hmm... now that you mention it, he does like to play billiards a lot," said Nosedive. "Does he have a particular spot he goes to?" asked Mallory. "Quacker Jax said he hung out at some place, what's it called, I think it has something to do with numbers um... I think it's called Club 311," said Nosedive. "What kind of an idiot names his place after police code for indecent exposure?" said Mallory. Turbulence sang quietly to herself. "Know that we have always been down, down, if I ever did anything to you, then just let me do it now." "What the hell does that mean?" said Grin. Turbulence shrugged. "Beats me," she answered. She turned to Nosedive. "Actually Dive, I think he said it was Club 411." "That place with the wet bikini contests every Friday night?" said Nosedive. "We do have a spare barf bag available, right?" said Mallory. "Chill out girlfriend," Turbulence assured. "This is Wednesday, remember?" "Right," said Mallory. "Nosedive, where exactly is Club 411?" "That's the problem," Nosedive answered, "I have no frickin' idea." Grin pointed out the window. "Maybe he can help us." "Who?" said Turbulence. Nosedive flipped on the Migrator's brights and said, "That giant golden lizard with the extend-o-neck and long scaly tail heaving those large bags of somethin' or other." "I got him," said Mallory. She took the puck bazooka off her back and hung out the window. She aligned the golden lizard-thing in her bazooka's crosshairs. ***** Viper mumbled to himself as he carried the bags of silver. "Mother never did like my line of work. I could have been a dentist, a teacher, a race car driver, a strawberry farmer, the producer of an animated television program about hockey-playing superhero alien ducks. But nooooooooooo, I had to be a space marine. Pff. A lotta good that military training did me when I fell through that vortex. Now I'm working for some crooked salamander with delusions of grandeur. I went from space marine Captain to Dragaunus' slave in three weeks. I hope Elizabeth and Jacob are still OK." Viper heard a quiet, high-pitched whistle and looked up to see the bright lights of the Migrator, with Mallory leaning out the right (the Ducks' right, his left) window, and a puck flying at him. Without thinking twice, Viper chucked the bags of silver onto the sidewalk and dove after them as Mallory's puck hit the street and exploded, leaving a large pothole in the street. "Good Lord!" Viper screamed. "Who in the hell..." ***** Mallory couldn't believe her shot had missed. "Damn! Whatever that thing is, it's got reflexes a tiger would be proud of," Mallory commented. Nosedive stopped the Migrator, and the four ducks got out. Viper picked up the silver bags and started trucking away from the ducks. "Life really sucks," he mumbled to himself. Mallory aimed her bazooka again and shot twice at Viper, missing the serpentine creature altogether and instead blowing up a trash can and a car. "And they say Volvo is the world's safest car," said Nosedive. Viper looked back to see Mallory shoot again. The fourth puck aimed in his direction would have connected with his head and scattered his blood and brains had a beer bottle thrown from a building above not happened to fall into the path of the projectile. "Another reason to love beer," said Viper as he turned the corner. "Another reason to hate beer!" Mallory shouted. "After him!" Nosedive shouted. The four ducks ran around the same corner, all with firearms prepared (except for Grin who, of course, rarely carries one). But when they got around the corner, all they saw was a rat scurrying across the street. "We lost him!" Turbulence shouted. "Come on, let's spread out," Mallory ordered. "That thing couldn't have gotten far, it wasn't wearing a teleporter." "Aren't we supposed to be looking for Majzq?" said Nosedive. "The raccoon can take care of himself," said Mallory. "Right now we've got a bigger problem on our hands: an extraterrestrial bank robber." "Right," said Turbulence. "Majzq 'll be back, no matter how many timed Wildwing pisses him off. But you gotta think that anything who looks like a lizard would be working for Dragaunus." "Ehhhhhh! Wrong!" Nosedive exclaimed. "The two times Draggy's gotten hired help, it's been a falcon thief and a seductive female mallard!" "You wanted a date with Lucretia DeCoy!" Mallory reminded. "I told you, I ain't picky," said Nosedive. "Look, this bickering is pointless, now let's move," said Mallory. "Grin, go with Turbulence and head south. Nosedive, come with me. Meet back at the Migrator in 15 minutes." "Um, which way is south again?" asked Turbulence. "It's easy enough to tell," said Mallory. "You can tell by the positioning of the north star and from the wind, since the beach isn't more than a thousand meters from here." Before Turbulence could say further, Mallory shot up the street, followed by Nosedive. "Hey! Wait up girlfriend!" he yelled. Turbulence looked up at Grin and asked, "Grin, which way is south?" "I have no idea," he answered. "Well then, let's just go..." She turned around and pointed randomly at an alleyway. "That way." "If you insist," Grin mumbled. The expert pilot and the Zen master ran into the alleyway and disappeared from sight. Viper, still in the tree above where the Ducks were a moment before, caught his breath and thought about past times. "At first I didn't recognize her, but... could it be? But this planet is in a totally different sector of the universe, millions and millions of light years away from Puckworld's solar system. And yet, I see a duck who looks and sounds exactly like Mallory McMallard on this planet. We never did meet each other, what with her being a Puckworld Special Forces agent and me being a space marine, but I've heard plenty tell of her combat skills. Maybe Miss McMallard can help me out of this predicament I'm in." Viper took a bar of silver out of one of the bags and sank his tough teeth into it. He yanked a piece off, chewed and swallowed. "Mallory is the one creature I may be able to depend on in this world." He reached into the pocket of his blue pants and pulled out an identification card with his picture and vital information. "And since I can prove I'm not one of his little punk henchmen, Dragaunus is gonna pay for what he's done to me." Then Viper got an idea. "Speaking of pay..." Viper activated his com and got in touch with Dragaunus. "What is it Viper?" Dragaunus asked. "Teleport me back to the Raptor. I have your silver," said Viper. Dragaunus smiled evilly. "Excellent work Viper!" he exclaimed. Viper clicked off his communicator and hefted the bags of silver as he leapt out of the tree. A few seconds after he hit the ground, a green light enveloped him. ***** Nosedive followed Mallory, who jogged down the street with her puck bazooka shouldered and ready. Every few seconds, she looked around, hoping to find the tip of a tail or a visible arm attached to the golden reptile. Nosedive wiped a drop of sweat off his forehead as he whined, "Slow down Mallory!" "We have to hurry if we're gonna catch that thing," said Mallory. Mallory saw something out of the corner of her eye. It looked like four gang members beating the hell out of one person. "Nosedive! Over there!" She pointed at the scene. "Mallory, please, we have enough problems of our own. We don't have time to break up a fight that's none of our business," Nosedive commented. "Nosedive! Quit being such a frickin' jack ass! Take out that puck launcher and get ready to use it!" she ordered. "I'm the military officer, you're the leader's dumb little brother, so you'll do what I say! I've been in plenty of back-alley brawls in my life, and what I know for a fact is that guy's gonna die unless we help him!" Nosedive unholstered his puck launcher. "I didn't know you were allowed to say 'jack ass' on this show," Nosedive noted. "Didn't the producers tell you before you put on the armor? This is a prime-time special. We get to loosen up a little bit," said Mallory. "Oh yeah," said Nosedive. The two ducks ran into the alleyway as the four gang members continued injuring the downed figure with chains, crowbars and kicks to the gut and head. "Hey! Why don't you try playing with fair teams?" Mallory asked loudly. Two of the gangsters looked back. One of the whirled a chain above his head. "Whaddya want?" he said. Mallory stepped into the light with Nosedive. She lined up the chain- wielder's head in the bazooka's crosshairs. Nosedive pointed his own puck launcher at another guy. "I'll give you a choice," said Mallory. "Either you back off and let this man go-" Mallory cocked her weapon, sending a "click" echoing through the alley, "or I shave off more than that blue rat's nest on your head." Without a word, the attackers scurried off out of the alley, leaving their victim laying on the concrete, groaning with agony, rolled up into a ball. Mallory strapped her weapon across her back and knelt down next to the savagely-beaten man. "Are you OK?" she asked. "Ma-Mallory?" he croaked.
"What the..." Mallory picked up the figure and brought him into the light. It was Majzq. The raccoon had two black eyes and a bloody ear, and his nostrils leaked blood freely. The golden eagle necklace he usually wore was nowhere to be seen. Neither were his hat or his jersey, both stolen, leaving him shirtless and revealing his hair, which had dirt and small pebbles stuck in the tangled mass of black. His jeans had rips and tears in the knees and shins, showing a pair of scraped raw kneecaps, both furless and skinless. "My God..." Nosedive mumbled. "What happened?" Mallory asked. Majzq's face was frozen in a state of agony-inspired grimace. He was unable to open either of his eyes. "They... kicked the... crap outta me. They wanted my... stuff. Those bastards... stole my gold... necklace... and half... of... my clothes. They... were drunk. I got... sucker punched. One of 'em... hit me... in the back of... the knees... with a baseball bat... and then they were... on top of me... I couldn't... get 'em off, I was... outnumbered," he managed. Mallory picked up the short raccoon, cradling him in her arms. He groaned in agony as she lifted him off the ground. The raccoon had been attracted to her for so long, and now here he was, cradled and protected in her arms, soft but strong. The bad part was, he hurt so much that he couldn't enjoy it. Mallory looked back at Nosedive. "Nosedive, get Turbulence and Grin, tell them to get back to the Migrator." Nosedive threw a quick salute and did just that. Mallory leaned over next to Majzq and whispered, "It's alright buddy, you'll be OK. Let's get you home." "This is... all my fault..." he said. "If I hadn't been... such an idiot... I wouldn't be... all... screwed up." "It's alright, it's nobody's fault, but you're gonna be bedridden for a long time with those injuries," she said. Mallory carried the half-dead figure of Majzq Fleetpaw out of the alley, down the street, and back into the Migrator. Nosedive followed, at the same time talking with Turbulence over his communicator. ***** As Viper materialized in the heart of the Raptor, Dragaunus looked at his figure with excitement. He looked over at the tremendous Lightning Ray, the finishing pieces being constructed by Hunter Drones and Siege. Viper dropped the bags of silver and said, "Here it is." Dragaunus walked over and picked up the bags. He looked into one, and saw trapezoid-shaped silver blocks in a pile. "Viper, you have been a great help," said Dragaunus. "Do you wish to return to Quetzlatl VII now?" "No." "What?" "I wish to stay on Earth as one of your soldiers." "You've finally seen the light, Captain Pufader," said Dragaunus. "Since you have been such a great help to me, I will give you the next couple days off. Do as you wish." "Thank you Lord," said Viper. Viper jogged down a hall and literally bumped into Chameleon, who hit the ground with a loud thump and a grunt. "Hey, watch where ya goin'!" he yelled. "Ahh, Chameleon. Just the lizard I wanted to see." Viper helped him up and dusted off his shoulder padding. Chameleon looked at him strangely. "Are you feelin' OK?" Chameleon asked. "I feel just fine. Listen, I need you to do me a favor." "Eh, whaddya want?" "Pretend to be me for a couple of days. Since I'm going to be here for a while, I need to know where I'm going on this planet." Viper reached down onto his belt and pulled out his wallet, from which he produced five blue and white pieces of paper. "And just to show you I mean business, here's 5,000 credits." "What if Lord Dragaunus starts to wonder where I am?" Chameleon pointed out. "Simple. Just duck around a corner and change back," answered Viper. Chameleon took the money and said, "Are you tryin' to bribe me?" Viper nodded as Chameleon turned into the gold lizardman. "You did a good job of it," said Chameleon, now in the form of Viper Pufader. "Now scram before I change my mind." The real Viper nodded and walked off down the hallway. As soon as Chameleon disappeared from view, he wiped a hand across his forehead. "Phew, glad that's over," Viper mumbled. "The thought of working full-time for that megalomaniacal psychopath is nauseating! Almost makes me feel sorry for those three. That I could bribe Chameleon with money that's useless on this planet only illustrates his stupidity. Now where's the exit hatch?" As Viper walked down a hallway, he leaned up against a wall and slumped down. "I guess before I try to get out of here, I should stop and catch my breath," he said to himself. Viper's tail accidentally rubbed a small panel in the wall, and he looked back as he heard the "zip" of a wall panel sliding open. His golden eyes saw a pair of small guns, barely the size of a water pistol, with curved metallic pieces on the nozzles. Saliva ran down his sharp fangs as he smiled. Tesla Cannons! he thought. I finally get a break! Viper grabbed both the firearms and stuffed them into his gun holsters, which would have packed automatic laser pistols had Dragaunus not confiscated his weapons when Viper was captured. "Now Dragaunus," he said to himself, "it's payback time." ***** Viper wandered the streets of Los Angeles in the early morning hours, when you need to be 21 to get into the only opened establishments not called McDonald's or Taco Bell. A light drizzle had begun to fall from the heavens, sprinkling his head with scattered raindrops. "Well, I guess my contract states that I have a one-break-per-episode limit," Viper said to the air. He continued, "My one break was finding these." He briefly put his hands on both the holstered Tesla Cannons before letting his hands drop to his sides again. He spotted an open building with the word "BAR" illuminated in red neon letters. "Maybe someone in there can help me," he said. Viper walked into the bar, which was sparsely populated. The air was cloudy, and the stench of belched alcohol combined with those of tobacco smoke and marijuana. The gold reptile sniffed the air twice and stuck his tongue out. "Yuck, no wonder there's only a few people in here," he mumbled. He walked over to the bar and sat down next to a man lighting up a cigarette. Viper did a quick backhand that removed the cigarette from his mouth without touching the man's face or the lighter. The man glared at Viper. "Hey man, what did-" He took one look at Viper's towering frame, and a frog filled his throat. Viper shook his head. "Smoking is really unhealthy," he lectured. He then looked down at the man's hands. "I see you're wearing a ring," he continued. "So what're you doin' in a place like this? Go on, get outta here." Viper pointed at the door and motioned him out as the man got up and walked out nervously. Viper called after him, "Go home to your wife and kids you loser!" The bartender approached him and looked up. "May I help you, Mr. Salamander?" the bartender asked. "I seek information-and a bottle of beer." "What kind?" The bartender looked under the bar. "We have Miller, Coors, Busch, Michelob, Budweiser, Heineken-" Viper, irritated from slaving for a villain, not seeing his family in weeks, and wondering whether or not he'd be trapped on this planet forever, lost it. "Listen, you pathetic worm, I asked for beer, not real estate owners!" he screamed. The bartender grabbed a bottle without bothering to see which kind it was and put it on the bar. Viper backed away. "That's better." Viper took the bottle and pried the cap off with his teeth. The bartender just sat there and watched in amazement as the golden reptile sucked down the entire bottle of beer within five seconds. Viper tossed the bottle into a garbage can all the way across the room. "You humans have a weird idea of what beer is. That's the weakest stuff I've ever had. Now, for the information." "Hey buddy you-" "What?" Never make an irritated seven foot tall golden salamander pay for beer, the bartender thought. "Um, nevermind. What do you need to know?" "I seek the one called Mallory McMallard. She's a duck." "McMallard plays pro hockey." "All I want is her location, I'm not in the mood for small talk." "She plays for a team called the Mighty Ducks," the bartender said nervously. "The Ducks all live in a place called the Pond." "Thank you. Where is this place, the Pond?" "It ain't in LA. We got those lousy Clippers instead. Wave down a cab and get a lift into Anaheim. It's right next to Los Angeles." "Thanks." Viper left 20 credits on the bar before he left. The bartender looked at the universally-accepted galactic currency known as the credit. Accepted everywhere but Earth. "Cheapskate," he mumbled. He coughed. "From now on, smoking prohibited every Thursday! I KNOW this is a good idea now!" ***** Quacker Jax laid on the couch in the Rec Room, his hands behind his head and his legs crossed at the knees. He just stared at the ceiling. Every light in the room was off, leaving the room almost completely pitch dark. It had been an exhausting day, what with losing 4-5 to the Atlanta Blaze-the Ducks' first loss in more than 30 games-bailing Majzq out of jail and watching his friend as he was hooked up to the Medicom. The raccoon was really screwed up, but Jax knew that he'd survive. He looked over as the door slid open and he saw a dark silhouette standing in the doorway. "Who's there?" he asked. The figure approached him. It spoke with a sniffly female voice, "Alone at last." Quacker Jax grinned and blew a tuft of hair out of his eyes. It was Tanya. "How's Majzq doin', Taunny?" he asked, sitting up. "He's just fine. Sleeping like a baby," she answered. "Good. The poor guy really took a beating," said Quacker Jax. "What's the diagnosis?" "Oh, ya know, seven cracked ribs, broken forearm, fractured foot, broken nose, a severe laceration to the side of his face, and his knees look pretty bad." Tanya frowned. "Oooh, he's gonna be out of action for at least a few months." "Well, all we can do is try to comfort him and uh, let the body's natural processes fix him. Unless you know a good healing spell, that is." "I used a good healing spell to kill the pain, but I'm not advanced enough to mend bones instantly. That's extremely hard to do," he said. Zelda came bounding into the room, in a state of worry. Quacker Jax and Tanya looked back over the couch at her. "What is it Zelda?" Tanya asked. "We got an intruder in the Pond!" Zelda yelled. "I don't know who it is, but Drake 1 picked up a security alert about 10 minutes ago!" Quacker Jax spawned a reddish-orange fireball in his hand and got up. "I'm ready for him," he declared. "Where is he?" Tanya asked, whipping out her puck launcher. "I dunno, let's go see!" Zelda exclaimed. The two ducks and the purple dragon scurried out and into the Ready Room, where Drake 1 was tracking the intruder. A small red blip moved quickly across a floor plan of the Pond. "How did it get in?" Tanya asked. "We've got the teleportation shield up, and all the doors are locked!" "Phil is going to pay for this stupidity!" QJ yelled. "Phil's in Richmond renegotiating a contract for a minor league baseball player. He couldn't have let that thing in," Zelda pointed out. "Oh yeah (duh)," QJ mumbled. "This guy has Dragaunus written all over him," said Zelda. "I'll go wake the guys up, we'll need their help in case it's some weird duck-killing cyber-soldier from Dragaunus," Tanya said as she ran into another hallway. "It's coming this way!" Jax warned. The door on the left side of Drake 1 slid open. Quacker Jax put his hands up and prepared to toss his fireball. The intruder was Viper. The first one into the room was Mallory, wearing a purple and green robe. "You!" she exclaimed, switching to battle gear. She took the bazooka off her back. "Say your prayers, you sorry excuse for an animated series character!" Viper put his hands up and took a small step back. "Whoa now, let's be rational please!" he said. Mallory cocked the bazooka. "I have a nasty habit of not trusting seven and a half foot tall golden lizards with a pair of Tesla Cannons on their belts!" she warned. "You'd better have a good reason for being here lizard, or else you're gonna get blown up and charred at the same time," said QJ, with the fireball hovering over his hand. "Who are you?" asked Zelda. "And how did you get in here?" "I bypassed the security systems with a few automatic bypass codes and a toothpick," said Viper. He unfastened his weapons belt, and the two guns dropped to the ground with a short clatter. "Now as you can see, I am unarmed. Will you listen to me, Mallory?" "Wha?" Mallory mumbled. "But how did..." She put down the weapon. "I'm Captain Viper Pufader, Quetzlatesian division of the space marines," he said. He walked over to her and flashed his photo ID. "I've heard plenty tell of your combat skills, Lieutenant McMallard. You're quite famous in the military ranks." "So why are you working with Dragaunus?" asked Zelda. "I'd rather not be doing that. The guy makes me ill," said Viper. "You see, it was like this..." The room became wavy, and Quacker Jax dissipated the fireball so he could hold his stomach. "Achoo!" he sneezed. "Speaking of being ill, did I ever tell you I was allergic to flashbacks?" "I don't believe you have," said Tanya as she walked into the room with Nosedive. Nosedive held his head. "It's alright Quacker, I have the same problem," said Dive. "May I proceed with my flashback?" asked Viper. "This episode is only so long ya know!" "Sorry, go ahead," said Quacker Jax. "Thank you," said Viper as the waves increased. "I was back on the planet Aquarius-you know, that place with 98% of the planet covered in water-checking out some mysterious energy readings that were linked to the Saurian army." The view switched to that of Viper on a small island with two other space marines. "Just two weeks previous, the same kind of energies had been picked up on Puckworld from a Saurian earthquake machine. We had to check it out." "Is that Aquarius? It's beautiful," asked Quacker Jax. "Good guess lad," said Viper. "Tanya, maybe we should go there after the season's over," suggested QJ. "Wow! That 'd be great!" Tanya exclaimed. "Hey, this is my flashback, not yours," said Viper. ***** Viper sat on the island, observing the water and small amount of land with annoyance. "Hey Racer, Cobrafang," he called to his two reptilian cohorts. "I've just noticed something." "What's that?" asked Racer, a black lizard. "There is absolutely nothing here!" Viper screamed. "Well," began Cobrafang, a green lizard with a genetic hood, "I told the commander that this would be a wild goose chase, I mean come on, this whole planet's covered in water! But does anyone listen to me? NO! No one ever listens to Cobrafang until it's too late!" Racer sat up suddenly as he felt a disruption in the air. "Guys?" "Yeah?" said Viper. "Did you notice how the air was blowing at 35 miles an hour, and it just suddenly stopped?" asked Racer. "Yeah," said Cobrafang. "So?" "The wind on this planet doesn't just die instantly," said Racer. "Unless... I just remembered that quakes share an energetic make-up with another phenomenon." "And that is?" asked Viper. "Dimensional gateways," Racer whispered. The black lizard jumped back as the wind went in the other direction and spiraled into one spot as a purple dimensional gateway appeared out of nowhere. "Viper! Cobrafang! Get back! It'll suck us in!" Racer yelled. "Well, where are we supposed to get to huh?!" Viper asked. "There's nothin' on this friggin' planet except water!" Racer tried to jump back, but he slipped in the island's sand and fell. The dimensional gateway threatened to suck him into another universe. "VIPER! COBRAFANG! HEEEEEELLLLLLLLPPP!" Racer shrieked. "RACER! NO!" Viper yelled. He grabbed a grappling hook gun off his belt and shot it at Racer, catching him by the back of his uniform top. "HELP ME COBRA!" Cobrafang grabbed a segment of the rope and tugged with all his might, as did Viper. Racer was in the gateway up to his waist. "GUYS! GET ME OUTTA HERE!" Racer yelped. "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD RACER WE'RE TRYIN'!" said Cobrafang. "I CAN'T PULL ANY HARDER!" Viper yelled. "RACER! PULL YOURSELF ON THE ROPE! PULL ON THE ROPE! CLIMB!" Racer pulled himself up the rope as the vortex continued trying to claim him. Racer lost one of his grips and yelped. "DON'T PANIC RACER, YOU'RE GONNA MAKE IT!" Cobrafang screamed. "Almost... there..." Viper mumbled. "COME ON RACER!" Cobrafang yelled. "JUST A FEW MORE INCHES AND YOU'RE SAFE!" Racer finally managed to yank himself out of the vortex, but then disaster managed to strike anyway. When Racer got out of the vortex, he shot out like a cannon. The black lizard flew into Viper and unintentionally submarined him. "Aaaaahhhhh!" Viper bellowed. He flew end over end and found himself unable to do anything as he sailed into the purple depths of the dimensional gateway. "VIIIPEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!" Cobrafang screamed. "Noooooooooooo........" Viper's voice trailed off as he disappeared. With its victim claimed, the dimensional gateway constricted and vanished out of existence. Racer and Cobrafang lay on the ground, staring open- mouthed at where Viper and the dimensional gateway were just seconds previous. ***** The waves began again temporarily and subsided as we returned to the present. The rest of the team had filled the Ready Room by now. Lindsay and Matt sat on the ground munching popcorn, and Duke sipped on a soda pop. "I came out of the other end in the cockpit of that scaly bastard's star cruiser," said Viper. "We were old enemies, and he had a grudge. Stripped me of my armaments, made me his slave." "That's why you were carrying all that silver, right?" said Turbulence. "Unfortunately, yeah, and that punk made me get him gold too," said Viper. "It's not like I have a choice. I need that slimeball's gateway generator to get back to Quetzlatl VII, my home planet. Otherwise I'll be separated from my wife and son until I die, or unless I fall back into my own dimension, which seems highly unlikely." "What does Dragaunus need with gold and silver bars?" asked Wildwing. "He says it's to power some big-ass gun he calls the Lightning Ray, and believe me, when I say big-ass, the emphasis is on big," said Viper. He turned to Mallory. "Sergeant, I need your help to stop this mental case before he sends 50 billion volts of electricity racing through your planet, and I also need to get home." "It sounds like a viable story," said Grin. "Or maybe he could be full of crap!" said Nosedive. "This whole scene has 'trap' spray painted all over it in big fat magenta-colored graffiti!" Viper got up and approached Nosedive, who was more than a foot and a half shorter. He lifted Nosedive up by his collar and pressed his nose up against the younger Flashblade's beak. "Listen here pipsqueak!" Viper yelled. "I know this scene was written while the author was watching a kangaroo documentary on the Disney Channel, but I'm speakin' the truth!" "Viper, put my brother down," Wildwing requested. Viper realized what he was doing and put Nosedive back on the ground. "Sorry," Viper said as he dusted off Nosedive's shoulders. He turned to the Ducks. "The only options I have are suicide and working for that moron. Dragaunus said he would send me back home to Quezltatl VII, but I've seen past episodes. If I believe him I'm on a one-way trip to dimensional limbo. Will you help me?"
IT'S PAYBACK TIME Final Act Wildwing thought for a moment, scratching his chin. "Marina," He said. "You're a good judge of character. What do you-" He trailed off and looked around. "Where's Marina?" Duke looked around. "Yeah," He said. "And where's Chantal?" ***** Marina LeWebb and Chantal Axillar sat on a bus coming from the airport, their arms folded irritably. "Let's go over this one more time," Marina said sourly. "When Wildwing tells you we have an away game in Atlanta, do you believe him?" "Yes," Chantal responded sullenly. "Very good. Now, when Nosedive tells you we have an away game in Atlanta, do you believe him?" "No." "Remember that next time and maybe we won't get left out of half the show." Chantal looked at her. "Y'know," She said. "This is a seriously lame-o way to fit us in mid-episode." "Don't look at me," Marina said. "I just work here." ***** Coolbeak put a hand on her hip in annoyance. "What was the point of that scene?" She asked. "Can you say 'sub-plot'?" Quacker Jax responded. "No," Mallory put in. "But I can say 'rookie writer'." "Come on," Wildwing said. "Let's get back to Viper." He turned to the lizard in question. "I trust you. We'll help you any way we can." "Viper," Tanya said. "Can you sneak us into the Raptor?" "Of course," Viper responded. "Then I can probably hack into Dragaunus's dimensional gateway generator and send you back to your home planet." "Let's go," Wildwing said. "Matt, Turbulence, you stay here and watch after Majzq." Something nagged at Wildwing, pulling at him relentlessly. It was Lindsay. "You can let go of my jersey now." Lindsay stopped tugging on him. "I think I should stay, too. Just in case, uh, Majzq, uh, gets violent." She looked sideways at Matt, who grinned. Wildwing thought back to the damage Majzq had done during the hockey riot. "You're right." He glanced at Matt. "For whatever reason." Mallory loaded her puck blaster with a chk-chk sound. "Let's rock," she said. ***** The Chameleon stood smugly before Dragaunus, who scratched his chin thoughtfully. "You've done well," He said. "You may keep the credits he gave you." "Great," The Chameleon muttered. "On this planet I might as well use 'em as tissues." Dragaunus turned to Siege. "Have you got a fix on those Tesla Cannons he stole?" Siege looked up from the computer. "Yes Lord Dragaunus. And just look where they turned up!" Dragaunus looked. A grid map of Anaheim was on the screen, and a green homing beacon blinked on a block in one of the upper corners. A very familiar block. "Blast it!" Lord Dragaunus yelled, banging his fist on the console. "That wretched newt has gone straight to the Ducks!" ***** The bus pulled up in central Anaheim. It paused a moment and then sputtered off, leaving a cloud of exhaust in its wake. Chantal and Marina coughed and looked around them as the smoke cleared. "I guess we shouldn't have expected them to come pick us up," Chantal said. "I wonder if they've noticed we're gone yet," Marina replied. "Nosedive has. He's probably in my room, playing my video games, as we speak." ***** As they spoke, Nosedive clung upside-down to a wide beam in the upper reaches of the Raptor. "Okay," He said. "What was the point of that scene?" Duke reached down and pulled him back on top of the rafter. "Uh, dramatic tension, I think." Mallory glared back at them. "Would you two keep it down?" She hissed. Eight Ducks crawled carefully along the beam, Wildwing and Tanya in the lead. "I hope Zelda and Grin'll be alright in the Migrator," Gretchen murmured. "If they're not," Tanya said, trying not to look down. "I'll trade with them!" "We need you to operate the gateway generator," Wildwing whispered. "Now everyone be quiet." Quacker Jax said nothing, but patted Tanya's leg reassuringly. She looked back at him and smiled. Coolbeak poked him. "Keep it moving, QJ." Wildwing held up a gloved hand to silence them, motioning below. They looked. ***** Dragaunus addressed Viper. "Viper," He said. "I'm putting you back into active duty starting tomorrow. I trust you're up to it?" "Of course, Lord Dragaunus." "Good." He turned to go, but turned back as though remembering something. "Oh, I wanted to talk to you about our infestation problem." Viper was confused. "Infestation, Lord Dragaunus?" Dragaunus chuckled. "Yes. A feathered infestation." ***** "Can anyone hear what they're saying?" Wildwing asked. "Something about an insect nation," Mallory responded. "Bogus!" Nosedive said. "Dragaunus is gonna sick a horde of bugs on Anaheim!" "Viper had better play his part," Coolbeak said. Suddenly there was a blasting sound, followed by the creaking of metal. "That ain't good." Though everyone agreed with Duke, no one had time to say so, because at that moment the girder fell from beneath Tanya and Wildwing, sending them hurtling to the floor far below them. Quacker Jax dived for them, but was too late. ***** Wildwing picked his head up and groaned, half out of pain and half out of expectation. There, sure enough, stood Dragaunus, his wrist cannon still smoking and an annoyingly smug smirk on his scaly face. "Well well well," He said. "Not Trick-or-Treaters, I assume." "Jehovah's Witnesses, actually," Tanya said. "We've got some fascinating pamphlets if you'll just-" "SILENCE!" Tanya shut her beak. "Well Dragaunus," Viper said. "I've delivered the Ducks." "What!?!" Tanya and Wildwing said in unison. "You have done well," Dragaunus said. "For a brief moment even I was deceived." "You'll never get away with this, Dragaunus," Wildwing said defiantly. Dragaunus looked at him dryly. "You do realize, Wildwing, that you sound even more pathetic than usual." "If that's possible," Viper put in. Dragaunus looked up at the Ducks still in the rafters. "No matter," He said. "You'll soon be silenced permanently. And it seems your friends will soon suffer your fate." Wildwing and Tanya followed his gaze. ***** Coolbeak hastily clamped a hand on Quacker Jax's beak as he tried to yell Tanya's name. "Are you out of your water-logged mind?" She hissed. "You'll blow the entire operation." "Hate to break it to you, Sweetheart," Duke said. "But I think the jig's pretty much up." As he spoke, three green silhouettes formed on what remained of the metal girder in front of them. Siege, Wraith, and The Chameleon appeared, wielding blasters. "Oh really?" The Chameleon said sarcastically. "What would give you that idea?" "Well, y'know, I guess I'm just intuitive that way." He threw himself flat onto the beam as a blaster shot went over his head. Quacker Jax jumped up as Coolbeak and Nosedive dived underneath him, firing their puck blasters. Gretchen yelled out and kicked the blaster from Siege's grasp. Duke shot his grappling puck into a rafter above and swung around, saber drawn, to slice Wraith's blaster in two. He alighted in front of him and they began to duel. The Chameleon shot Quacker Jax's blaster out of his hand. "It'll take more than that to rub out this duck!" He yelled triumphantly, raising his staff. That too fell to the ground far below, a blaster bolt deep in it. "Great," He said to himself. "Chameleon is kicking my tailfeathers!" The Chameleon backed him up on the girder. Quacker Jax glanced behind him. The hatch they had come in through was wide open, and the street below looked ready to sock the wind, not to mention the innards, out of him on impact. The Chameleon chuckled. "Time to hit the road, Jack!" "Hey," The wizard responded indignantly. "That's Jax!" Almost as he spoke, Mallory flipped The Chameleon from the girder. She brushed off her hands with a self-satisfied clapping sound. Quacker Jax grinned. "Strong and beautiful," He said. "What a combination." "Please QJ," Mallory said, rolling her eyes. "Save the flirting for Tanya." "Tanya!" Quacker Jax remembered. "We've gotta find her!" "Yeah," Duke said, extinguishing his saber now that the Saurians had gone. "And Wildwing. Dragaunus took 'em off somewhere." Gretchen looked down at the rubble left from the fight. "Let's go," She said. "Before the rest of the sky falls." ***** Wildwing and Tanya stood in one of the Raptor's containment cells, bound to the wall at their wrists by electromagnetic bands. "Well," Wildwing said. "Viper got us in and unattended. Now we just have to get free." "Well, as usual, they didn't take my Omnitool!" Tanya stretched a finger around the restraint band and opened her clippers. They snaked around and sunk into the electric blue fetter. Rather than shearing it, however, the electric impulse ran through it, shocking her. Hastily, she drew the clippers closed and gasped for air. "Okay," She said. "Let's go to Plan B." "There's a Plan B?" "Give me a minute and there will be." Tanya looked around. "There has to be something I can use to divert the current," She said. "If we could get a large enough conductor I could set up some kind of temporary redirection unit, or-" "Uh, Tanya?" Wildwing said. "Couldn't you just use the water dripping from the ceiling to short circuit the bonds?" "Yeah, sure," Tanya snorted. "Go the easy way." She extended the clippers again and curved them towards the water that, sure enough, dripped slowly from the ceiling. It collected on the closed clippers and dribbled down their metal cord to the electromagnetic binding. Wildwing strained his neck and watched anxiously. Just then, footsteps were heard in the hallway. "We have to hurry!" Wildwing whispered urgently. "I can't rush it, the water might fall!" Wildwing set his jaw nervously, watching the water's snail-like procession down the clippers. Drip. Drip. Drip. The footsteps grew louder, and Wildwing held his breath. Finally, Tanya's bonds sizzled and burnt out. Tanya was free. "Now let me just undo yours-" "There's no time," Wildwing said. "Climb through that ventilation duct before you get caught." Tanya nodded and pulled herself up on a pipe by the vent. She quickly unscrewed it and was gone before Siege opened the door. "Hey," He said. "What happened to the other one?" "The other what?" Wildwing asked, deadpan. "The other Duck, wise guy." "What other Duck?" "The Duck I put in here with you." Wildwing looked around innocently. "I don't see any other Duck." Siege groaned in annoyance. "Listen, Feathers-For-Brains," He said. "If you don't tell me what happened to that pointy-haired friend a' yours, I'm gonna smash your beak right into your face." "Hmm," Wildwing said thoughtfully. "Where would I put my Mask...?" Siege left, grumbling that he knew exactly where he could put it. ***** Tanya hunched over the Raptor's computer, looking over her shoulder every other moment. She worked quickly, ignoring the nervousness that gnawed at her gut. All she had to do now was- "Are you almost done?" A whisper interrupted her from the shadows. "Yeah," She whispered back. "I just have to key in a few last code sequences." "Good. With any luck this will be over soon." Tanya paused briefly in her work to look into the shadow Viper lurked in, but she couldn't make out his motionless form in the impenetrable darkness. She wondered why he was hiding- she was the one who wasn't supposed to be there. "Give me one minute and-" She was stopped mid-sentence by the grip of a scaly claw on her shoulder. "-I'll just get caught by a Saurian." She looked over her shoulder. Sure enough, a Saurian, namely Siege, had caught her. "You Ducks always talk to yourselves?" Now Tanya knew why Viper had been hiding. "Only when we're plotting to overload computer systems." Siege ripped her away from the console. "If there's one thing I hate," He said. "It's a Duck messin' with my computer." Tanya blinked. "Really?" She said. "I thought it'd be something like the Olsen twins." Siege thought. "If there's two things I hate," He said. "The second one is a Duck messin' with my computer. Dragaunus is gonna have a lot of fun with you." "You have no idea." Tanya looked in the direction of the reptilian voice, and was not surprised to see that it, in fact, belonged to the Saurian Overlord. "Thank you, Siege," He said, approaching. "I'll take care of her." Siege released her, and she fell in a heap on the floor. "I'm gonna enjoy watchin this," He said, chuckling as he backed away. As Tanya pulled herself onto her hands, Dragaunus kicked her back down- not hard, but enough to sting when she made contact with the ground. She tried to prop her self up on her elbow, but she was kicked again, harder this time, and skidded across the floor. "The problem with you Ducks," Dragaunus said haughtily. "Is that you are stubborn. If you had given up long ago, it would not have had to end like this." He effortlessly lifted the groggy Duck from the floor and threw her across the room. She hit the computer console, the edge of it jamming in her spinal cord, and fell to the floor, temporarily paralyzed from the pain. "You'll excuse me for stooping to do this myself," She heard Dragaunus say. "Normally I would have one of my henchmen take care of the grunt work. But you miserable mallards have pestered me so, I shall truly relish this." As Tanya's head cleared, it occurred to her to fight back. If she could just keep Dragaunus occupied until Viper or another Duck could get to the computer, the dimensional gateway could be opened. However, that meant staying alive for at least a little bit longer. She heard heavy footsteps, and soon found herself staring at Dragaunus's large, taloned feet. She heard him laugh down at her, and, sensing him bend to pick her up again, she somersaulted between his legs, rose to her feet, and kicked the Overlord from behind. He lost his balance and fell to the floor. Retrieving his reptilian grace, he swiped at her with a massive fist, connecting and sending her into a wall. She recovered quickly this time, and reached for her Omnitool, not caring what she unleashed. Dragaunus grabbed her arm, however, and ripped the tool from it, casting it aside. Dragaunus backed Tanya into a corner. Lifting her by the collars of her jumpsuit, he banged her against the wall several times until her head spun. About to lose consciousness, her senses reeling, all Tanya could do was grasp the great lizard's claws in a futile attempt to pry them from her clothing. Dragaunus did not even notice. "Now Duck," He snarled, his foul, hot breath hitting her face. "We end this." He lifted his fist for a final blow. "Stop!" Startled, the Saurian turned. There stood Viper Pufader, Tesla Cannon aimed straight for the Overlord's cold-blooded heart. "If you do not release the Duck," He said. "She will soon be covered in your blood." Dragaunus did not seem to feel threatened. He did, however, seem to feel very angry. With a snort of smoke, he dropped the beaten Tanya and advanced on the insolent salamander. "You seem to have forgotten yourself, Captain Pufader." "On the contrary, Lord Dragaunus," Viper said without flinching. "I have remembered myself. But it's funny that you should mention memory, seeing as you yourself are about to become one." "I seriously doubt it." Dragaunus swiped the Tesla Cannon from his hand and lifted him off the ground with one arm. "Siege!" He yelled. "Wraith! Chameleon!" The three henchmen emerged from the shadows. "Ready the dimensional gateway." "Yes Lord Dragaunus!" Siege responded. "It's already set for dimensional limbo!" Tanya picked her head up. Could this be? Would they send him back to Quetzlatl VII themselves? The Chameleon glanced from Tanya to the computer to Viper. He had seen the Duck at the console. "Uh, Siege?" He said. "Not now!" The round lizard barked. "But you should know-" "Not now," He said again. "Can't you see I'm doin' somethin'?" "But-" Before The Chameleon could continue, Siege pressed a button and a dimensional portal opened. Tanya grabbed on to a pipe on the wall, the sucking of the vortex pulling her towards it. She remained by the wall, and was given an excellent view of the proceedings. "Now, Pufader," Dragaunus said, holding the Captain aloft. "I must bid you farewell. Enjoy rotting away in dimensional limbo!" And with that, he threw the lizard in. The gateway closed, and Tanya released the pipe with a sigh. He had made it. Dragaunus turned back to Tanya. "Now," He said. "Where was I?" "You were about to have your scales fried!" Came an all too familiar voice. Everyone turned. There stood the Ducks, all of them, with Grin and Zelda in tow and Wildwing, the speaker, triumphantly in the lead. Every one of them had weapons drawn. "Leave her alone," Quacker Jax shouted. "You slime-covered sorry excuse for a super-villain!" He hurled a fireball at the Saurian, but his rage made his aim inaccurate, and Dragaunus dodged easily. "You may be in time to save this Duck," He said as Tanya pulled herself to her feet. "But you're too late to save yourselves!" He pressed a button on his wrist, and a panel in the wall opened, revealing, a very large, very ominous, very powerful-looking gun. "The Lightning Ray!" Zelda gasped. "Talk about negative cosmic energy," Said Grin. "This Ray," Dragaunus said. "Has enough power in it, at full setting, to reduce this miserable rock of a planet into ash. And you, naturally, are going to help me test it." "Naturally," Mallory said dryly. "You ain't takin' us without a fight, Dragaunus!" Duke yelled. "That's where you're wrong." As Dragaunus spoke, a net fell on top of the Ducks and the dragon, pinning them to the ground. Tangled up in each other and the net, they could not free themselves. The Saurian walked to the Ray and put his hand to a switch near the rear of it. "As soon as I throw this switch, you'll all be electrocuted past recognition. You've been outstanding arch-enemies, Mighty Ducks. Give my regards to oblivion." Just as he was about to flick the switch, a black-and-white feathered blur swooped in front of the machine. When it passed, the entire barrel of the ray lay on the floor in front of it, cut cleanly and irreparably away. The blur passed in front of the decimated gun again and alighted back on the rafter from which it had sprung. "Marina!" Duke shouted. And so it was, with Chantal next to her, puck blaster drawn. "And I bet you thought we were just comic relief," Chantal said. "You weren't that funny, girlfriend," Nosedive shouted up at her. "Curses!" Dragaunus swore. "My Ray!" Chantal put her arm around Marina's neck and shoulder, and the two swung down from the beam, each with a showy dismount. "How did you two get here?" Wildwing asked. "Well," Marina said, disarming Siege in one stroke of her katana. "When we saw the Migrator parked outside a poultry shop, we figured that no matter what was going on, it wasn't good." "I guess you could say we suspected 'foul play'," Chantal chuckled. Everyone groaned. "Hey," She said. "Who's savin' who here?" She flipped The Chameleon onto the floor. In rage, Dragaunus swiped at Marina. She did a neat back flip over his head into a back handspring towards her ensnared teammates. She landed on her feet and slashed the net in one fluid motion. "Hey!" Chantal yelled as she grappled with Wraith. "How come you're stealin' the show?" Marina shrugged. "The writers like me better." "Great," Chantal said, readying herself for the hunter drones that were entering the room. "You spill *one* cocktail at a lousy staff party and you're marked for life."
The entire team being freed, the brawl began. Hunter drones were destroyed left and right as the team spread out across the room. Chantal and Nosedive shot pucks from behind a fallen drone, one firing while the other reloaded. Quacker Jax and Tanya were all over the Raptor, spreading mechanical carnage together among the scores of deadly red robots. And Marina and Duke were in the center of it all, back to back with swords drawn, slashing at everything that came near them. QJ ducked down with a yelp as he got too close to one of Marina's whirling katanas, and he and Tanya joined the two friends in a ring of destruction. "Well, my Striped Mistress," He said. "Some party you started here." "Bring it on," Marina grunted. The hunter drones were easily dispatched. As the twelve heroes stood among the mechanical rubble, only the Saurians remained. They knew they were outnumbered. "You've won this time," Dragaunus said. "But this is far from over!" He pressed a button on his wrist cannon. Suddenly, a hatch opened underneath the team, and they fell through the floor and into the sewer. They landed on top of each other with a splat in the muddy water. "They're getting away!" Wildwing said, rising. As he spoke, the ground shuddered. "Oh no!" Tanya moaned. "They engaged the auxiliary engines!" "One a these days we gotta take those out too," Duke grumbled. As the Raptor took off above them, the walls of the Anaheim sewer shook violently, dislodging all kind of mire onto the heroes below them. "Let's get out of here," Gretchen said. Everyone heartily agreed. ***** The Ducks helped each other topside through a manhole. "Suddenly I feel the urge to eat pizza and hang out with a giant rat," Duke said. "Wrong cartoon," was Coolbeak's response. "Gross!" Nosedive said, wiping a glob of muck off his beak. "This is not my idea of a great way to spend a Saturday night." "Is it Saturday?" Quacker Jax said, putting his hands on Tanya's waist and pulling her to him. "I guess it's too late for a date." "I wouldn't be too sure," Tanya said as they kissed. "In three seconds I'm turning the hose on you two," Marina said in disgust. "C'mon Misty," QJ said, not taking his hands off Tanya. "You're such a prude!" Duke couldn't help but laugh at the very idea. "Mari " He managed between laughs. "A prude!?!" Marina folded her arms, an eyebrow arched irritably. The others turned eagerly at the prospect of some gossip about a Duck they knew so little about. "You mean Miss Super Chill has a history?" Nosedive said in gleeful surprise. Duke grinned. "I guess you could say she's an expert in foreign tongues." "You're one to talk," Marina said, poking him in the chest. "When I first saw your apartment back on Puckworld, I thought your little black book was an encyclopedia set!" Mallory intervened. "Listen, this may be a prime time episode, but if you start recounting your escapades we're gonna have to cut to commercial." "Yeah," Chantal said. "I've got a feeling you two've done stuff that'd make Howard Stern turn red." "Not together I hope," Coolbeak said with an amused glance at Duke. Marina rolled her eyes in exasperation. "I'll be in the Migrator," She said, storming off. "Is it just me," Said Nosedive. "Or is she avoiding the question?" "C'mon Dive," Chantal said, poking him in the ribs. "I don't think we actually want any answers." "An excellent point there, Chants." "Oh, and Nosedive?" She smiled sweetly. "If you messed with any of my video games, you're gonna wish you were a lot farther away than Atlanta!" ***** When everyone was finally back in the Migrator, Nosedive and Quacker Jax had Tupac Shakur blasting in the brand new stereo. "Hey," Chantal exclaimed. "Who put in the slammin' hi-fi?" "That would be me," Quacker Jax said smugly. "Alright QJ!" "Quacker Jax," Wildwing said. "Did it ever occur to you that there was a reason we didn't have a sound system in here?" "Uh, no." Marina leaned over to the CD player and ejected the Tupac CD. "Hey!" Nosedive yelled. "We were listening to that!" "I know," She replied. "And I pity you for it. Let's put on some Mozart." "I happen to have a recording of Gregorian Chants," Grin said. "Get your brain re-wired, Grinster," Chantal said. "TLC all the way!" "No way Kid," Duke said. "If we're puttin on anything, it's gotta be some jazz." "I think Tupac is just fine," Quacker Jax said, putting the CD back in. Nosedive clapped a hand on his shoulder. "QJ, when you're right, you are right!" "And I'm always right." The argument began full-force. ***** Five minutes later, the Ducks sat sullenly as Mozart's "Rondo alla Turca" sounded around them. Marina smiled smugly to herself. Wildwing glared at Quacker Jax. "This," He said. "Is why we didn't have a sound system." Quacker Jax nodded. "I'll remove it as soon as we get home." Nosedive snapped. "I don't care howmuch the writers like her," He yelled, jumping out of his seat. "I am not listening to this stuff!" Marina pulled him back into his chair by the back of his shirt. "Sit down, Surfer Boy," She said. "This is my moment." "Is it just me," Chantal said. "Or is this episode one big tangent?" "It ain't just you kid," Duke muttered. "It ain't just you." ***** By the time the Migrator arrived and came to a stop in the Anaheim Pond's subterranean garage, Quacker Jax and Nosedive had gone into convulsions from the evil music known as Classical. QJ lay in the Migrator's backseat, his head in Tanya's lap, while he shook and twisted and made agonizing faces. "Please Tanya! Make it stop!" he pleaded. Tanya noticed her boyfriend's condition and frown. She saw that Nosedive had begun to cry. She leaned her head down next to his. "Sshhh, it's OK Quacker, we're home now. Hear that? The bad music is gone now. I'm here QJ." "Promise?" "I promise. If it makes you feel better, I'll give you one of my patented massages. You always enjoy that. Now come on, let's get you out of here." Nodding slowly, QJ got up with his left shoulder twitching. The whole team had suffered some degree from the horrid "music" that Marina had forced upon them. ***** When Wildwing walked into the Pond's Ready Room, he found Turbulence sitting cross-legged on one of the chairs near Drake 1, fists slamming rhythmically into the metal. "Um... Turby?" "Yeah?" He was almost afraid to ask anything more. "Uh... how did everything go while we were out?" "You wanna know, Wildwing? Do you really wanna know? I had to wait on that raccoon, hand and foot, while Lindsay and Matt made out on the couch! Come with me!" Turbulence led Wildwing to a storage cabinet, from which she produced a can of silly string. Taking the spray can, she walked to the Rec. Room, where sure enough, they found Lindsay and Matt. The two Mighty Ducks were conjoined at the beak, eyes closed, not noticing anything else. Oh, this was too good a set-up. Turbulence aimed. Turbulence fired. A shocked yelp came from Lindsay's throat as her and Matt were covered in dark purple silly string. And for the first time in four hours, Turbulence smiled. The wide-eyed stares of surprise made it all worthwhile. "Now we're even," she said, and walked triumphantly out. Wildwing watched her leave, then looked back at Matt and Lindsay, humiliated, removing the purple silly string from their bodies. And he couldn't help but smile as he himself left, too. ***** Quacker Jax was feeling much better right about now. As he lay face-down on his bed, He could feel the delightful touch of Tanya's hands massaging the tension out of his back. His shirt lay on the floor, revealing his broad back and shoulders. Quacker smiled wider with every rub she gave him. It felt so good, having someone to love, and to have someone love back. He didn't know what he did to deserve Tanya's affections. Whatever it was, it must have been pretty damn good. "Oooh," he sighed. "That's the spot." Her hands pressed into a spot near the bottom of his back. "See?" she said. "I told you this would help." "You're always so right." Quacker Jax smiled as he turned around. He put his arms around her neck and pulled her close, kissing her long and soft, touching her tongue with his. "I love you, Tanya." "I love you too." Reluctantly, Tanya pulled away. Reaching a hand up to the neck of her jumpsuit, her thumb and forefinger groped for and found the zipper. Bringing it down slowly, she brought Quacker's beak up to hers and looked into his brown eyes. With a quick snap from the magician, his bedroom door locked, and he was alone with his wife. And you could only imagine what happened next! ***** Tanya was the first one awake. At first she was somewhat groggy, but after a few minutes, she realized where she was. Her bare body was pressed against his own, his arms tucked under her shoulders. He was keeping her so warm by himself, the blanket was pretty much useless. What an amazing night. Every time he made love to her, it seemed more passionate, more sensuous, more romantic. The boy knew how to use his hands very well. He had even more skill with his tongue. Placing her tongue on his muscular chest, she licked it up to his beak and kissed him. His eyelids fluttered open, and he smiled once he realized that Tanya was still there with him. He ran a hand through her long blond hair and kissed her lightly on the side of the neck. "Good morning Tanya," he greeted, pulling her closer. Tanya's stomach felt like it was tied in a quadruple knot. He was great by himself, but he was unbelievable in the sack. She loved him so much that it amazed her. "Good morning Quacker." They smiled at each other and kissed. Reluctantly, Quacker Jax got out of bed to stretch, giving Tanya a full view. "I need to shower and drink some mocha. You're free to join me for both if you want," he joked. Tanya sprang to him. "I think..." She placed her hands on his chest and ran them down his torso. "I will." Quacker seemed amazed that his offer was actually accepted. With smiles on their faces, they headed towards the bathtub. ***** A few hours later, Tanya was dressed in one of her trademark purple jumpsuits, glass eye shield resting on her beak, blond hair set up in its usual position. She felt clean. He even knew how to handle a washcloth with slow sensuality. It was certainly a deep clean. With a mug of coffee in her hand and her posterior planted on a chair in the dining room, Tanya brought the mug to her lips and drank some of the caffeine- saturated substance. Somehow, her thoughts turned to yesterday's adventure. She wondered if he had gotten back to his home by now. Tanya hoped so. To be separated from someone's love and child for nearly a month had to be torture. She had a husband, and to be separated from him for a day would do a serious number on her cheerfulness. And if she and he hadn't been careful last night, in nine months, she'd have a baby duck on her hands, too. Which is what she found herself wanting: a son or a daughter to call her own, and to raise, with Quacker Jax there to play the role of father. She smiled, and mumbled to herself, "I actually hope I'm pregnant." ***** The salamander named Viper Pufader had been lucky enough to land in his home city of Lasani. To see his home again, his wife Elizabeth, his son Jacob whom he loved more than anything... it brought tears to his eyes to know that it was all over. The military could go suck an egg. Viper wanted to spend his life raising a family, not slaughtering complete strangers. Clothes torn, muscles bruised, he turned a street corner as a yellow taxi whizzed by. This was his street. About 90 yards ahead was his home. He saw Jacob Pufader, the five year-old blue salamander who was his son, shooting a basketball into a small hoop in front of his house. He smiled at the sight of his child. It was good to see him again. It was good to be away from all the carnage of war. But as a tear filled his eye, he realized that, more than anything, it was good to be home. THE END