Disclaimer--- Don't own 'em…. yet…
Author's note--- This story is another chapter in my long-running Dragon Chronicles. Not every story in this series will be listed on FF.net, but all of them are listed in chronological writing order on my webpage. If you'd like to find out more about Zelda or other characters that will appear later in this series, visit my website at http://members.fortunecity.com/zeldathedragon and go to the information page. The rest of my stories can be found in the fanfiction section.
Rating- PG 13 for blood, violence, and a little angst that's yet to come!
Lies, Waking Nightmares, and a Fugitive
Written by Zelda (With the original idea from Starrfire!)
Duke cocked his head and glanced from one corner to the next. The cell was empty! He looked at the ceiling, nothing. He looked at the floor, nothing. How did he do that?
"How did he do that?" Mallory asked out loud, scratching her head as the Ducks filed into the square room.
Wildwing walked over to one barred window and looked out. Nothing.
Klegghorn shoved his way into the room. "Alright, where's the fire?" he asked, pulling his gun.
"There isn't even any smoke cappie." Nosedive shook his head. "Looks like the bird flew the coop."
"But he was in a maximum security cell! I had two guards watching him!" Klegghorn reasoned.
"The secret service couldn't guard Falcone." Duke leaned against the wall and shook his head. "It was only a matter of time before he got out."
"Well the trail's cold by now." Zelda sniffed around the room. "He's good."
"Yeah, good and gone." Wildwing shook his head. "It's not comforting to know Falcone's adding to the scum that's running around the streets of Anaheim."
"At least he doesn't have Draguanus's alliance anymore." Tanya said. "Where's he gonna run to?"
"Knowing Falcone, he could hide in broad daylight." Duke said.
Klegghorn stomped his foot and yanked a walkie-talkie from his belt. He started yapping orders into it as he stormed out of the cell.
Duke glanced up the wall of cold gray cinder blocks. No, this situation wasn't comforting at all.
Drake One was waiting in its usual humming patience as Tanya stepped back into the Ready Room with a sigh. She went over to the steely console and her fingers started racing over the keyboard.
"Any messages while we were gone?" Wildwing asked over his shoulder, as he and the team sat down.
"Actually yeah...." Tanya started. "We've got an intruder in the Pond!"
"What?" Dive asked. The team was on their feet and looking up at the screen.
"I don't know...." Tanya muttered, rapping away at the keyboard. "I can't pinpoint a location... it just says that an unauthorized person entered the lower level here half an hour ago."
"I hope this is not another man wanting our autographs." Grin sighed.
"Okay team, let's get a flank search going." Wildwing ordered. "We'll go in pairs to be safe. Nosedive, you go with Zelda to check out the east wing. Mal and Duke can circle the Rec. Room and Galley. Tanya, Grin and I'll cover everything else. All com lines open." Wildwing ordered.
"Great." Mallory yawned. "Let's go get this over with."
Mallory rubbed the back of her neck slowly as she and Duke stalked quietly through the metal corridors. There had been nothing in the Rec. Room. Maybe this 'intruder' had left. The coms had been silent. Mallory was getting sick of this. She looked over at Duke. He seemed pretty alert. They both peered into the Galley itself, the last part of their search. Nothing. "That's it, let's get outta here Duke." Mallory sighed. Suddenly, Duke gasped and looked behind her. Mallory was thrown forcefully forwards as she felt an incredible blow to her upper back. She hit the floor and rolled to the side, feeling splinters of pain rocket up and down her spine.
"Wildwing!" Duke yelled over his com. "Falcone's in the galley!"
"You were a fool to try and catch me Duke." Falcone's voice was the only indicator of his presence.
Duke drew his sabre, the golden metal gleaming sharply in the darkness.
"But that won't matter anymore." the bird continued. Duke's cat-like ears picked up the soft pacing of Falcone's feet across the metal floor. "You ruined my plans once, you won't live to ruin them again." Falcone was suddenly gone, running away in full flight.
Duke turned back to Mallory and helped her off the floor. "You okay Mal?" he asked.
"Go! Go catch him, I'll be right behind you." she grimaced, standing with her hands braced on her knees.
Duke couldn't waste any time. Falcone could vanish into thin air if he wasn't watched. Duke took off after him.
Zelda galloped up to Mallory as she leaned against a corridor wall.
"Mallory! What happened? Where's Duke?" she asked, as the rest of the team came filing up quickly.
"Falcone's here! Duke went after him." Mallory coughed, holding her back.
Wildwing raised his arm and checked his AutoTracker. "He's not moving." he said shortly.
"I'll get Mallory to the infirmary." Tanya said, slipping Mallory's arm over her shoulders and starting off.
"Come on team!" Dive yelled, as he was already running in the opposite direction, towards Duke.
The team skidded to a stop upon entering the Rec. Room. They glanced around with a kind of reserved horror. Mats were wrinkled and slashed, a few pieces of the equipment lay upended.
Zelda slipped in-between several legs and stood in the light of the doorway, growling. Something moved from within the dimly lit room.
Grin reached over for the light switch and flicked it sharply. Nothing. He looked up a few inches to see the cord above the electric box in the wall was severed. He looked back to the rest of the team and shook his head. No lights.
Wildwing squinted into the room. Nosedive stepped up beside him and raised his launcher.
Zelda sniffed cautiously into the dark, and proceeded forwards. Suddenly she gasped. "Duke?" she asked. There was no response from the dark figure who lay sprawled on the slashed mat a few feet away.
The team was near her, they could see Duke as well. But Falcone could still be here, waiting to swat their heads off with one swipe of his sword... Wildwing finally let his guard down and activated his Mask. "It's clean." he said.
Grin squatted next to Duke, Zelda was trying to reawaken the twisted body on the ground.
"He's knocked out pretty bad." she sighed. "But I don't see why...."
"Would this help?" Nosedive asked, picking up a sizable length of lead pipe in his hands and bringing it over to the group.
Zelda gently turned Duke's head over to reveal a darkening bruise on the side of his skull.
"Truly malicious intentions." Grin noted soberly. He and Wildwing gently each took one of Duke's shoulders and pulled him off the floor, shuffling off towards the infirmary.
Nosedive and Zelda found themselves left alone in the darkness.
"You think bird boy's still got in in for Duke?" Nosedive asked.
"I don't see why Falcone didn't kill him." Zelda pondered. "He's got some crazy scheme working, I just hope we're not playing along."
The two exited, closing the door behind them and sealing the room off in total darkness.
Gone. The petty fools had completely missed him. He supposed they were too caught up with Duke. Falcone raised himself up from the tunnel and back into the room. He leaned back and replaced the heating grate into the floor. He chuckled lightly to himself as he stood, brushing himself off. The Ducks wouldn't bother looking for him now, he could just walk out as he pleased. The dragon was possibly right, maybe he should have killed Duke there and then. But that wouldn't be very nice and fair, almost like stabbing someone in the back. Duke would pay for delaying his ascent to become the greatest theif in the world. He would pay indeed. Peering around carefully, Falcone slipped out of the Rec. Room with a grin on his face.
Zelda gingerly regarded the Medicom data as she held the sheet of paper up in her claws. She shook her head and turned back to Duke.
"So, how is he?" her leader asked.
"Suprisingly, he's basically just got a bump on the head. If Falcone really hit him with that pipe, the blow wasn't more than glancing." she said. "He should wake up in a while."
"Well that's a relief." Wildwing nodded. "Tanya, is there still any trace of Falcone in the building?"
"Not to Drake One's detection. I still can't imagine how he got past our defenses!" she sighed, swiping a hand back through her hair. As she did this, Duke slowly started to lean up, rubbing his head and squinting.
"Awake already Dukester?" Nosedive asked with a grin. "Falcone musta really let you off lightly."
"Falcone that jerk...." Duke grunted, sitting up. "I'd like to wring his scrawny little neck...."
"Let us save all neck-wringing for tomorrow." Grin intervened calmly. "I can say we've all had our due of fighting today."
"I'd agree with that." Mallory said. "Whatever it was."
She and Grin exchanged joking smiles as the exited, with Nosedive in tow.
"You'll be okay Duke?" Wildwing asked.
"Hey man, I'm fine." Duke waved it off.
Nodding approvingly, Wildwing and Tanya slowly walked out as well.
Zelda trotted beside Duke as he slid to his feet and walked stiffly out of the room, heading towards his bunk. "So, a lovely reunion between you two tonight, I imagine?" Zelda joked.
"I'll get him back for this one. I still can't understand why he didn't kill me Zel." Duke shook his head. As they approached his bunk, the halls were shadowy and lit with the harshness of the track lighting. It almost seemed too bright for such an hour.
"Well who knows what's inside that wacky little head of his." the dragon replied warmly. "Maybe he just wanted to get ya to lose a little sleep." With that, the two waved and parted as Duke's bunk room door slid between them.
Duke rubbed his eyes as his alarm went off. He sat up slowly, groaning in trying to wake up. He sat for a moment, eyes half open, silently. He wanted to make sure he wasn't walking into another trap. He pinched himself lightly, he was awake. Jeez he hated nightmares. He actually hadn't had one of those in a long time. But it scared him, enough to wake him. Duke slipped quickly out of bed and went into his bathroom, starting to fill the sink with water. He couldn't even remember much about it now, just him falling and falling and falling. He splashed some water on his face to wake him up fully, and then reached into a cabinet to get out his toothbrush.
Duke yawned as he saw the last of a hard wrist shot dissapear into the vaccum of his captain's glove.
"Come on Duke, you can't shoot it harder than that?" Wildwing teased, tossing the puck up into the air and snatching it with his glove again.
"Yeah sleepyhead, wake up." Zelda chided from the boards, leaning down to thwunk him lightly on the helmet with her tail.
Duke shifted his helmet back into place as Wildwing tossed the puck to his younger brother. Nosedive artfully bounced the puck on the tape of his stick, showing off a skill he'd worked on for a good few weeks now.
"Great Dive, just great." Mallory sighed. "Maybe we can hook up a show for you in-between periods next game."
Nosedive grinned and let the puck drop to his knees, where he started kicking it with his knees and skates as if it were a hacky sack. He smiled from ear to ear as he kept his eyes carefully on the puck. Suddenly, he yelled and fell easily to the ice as Tanya checked him hard in the shoulder. He hit the ice on his back and rolled up quickly as she snatched up the puck.
"OW!" He snarled. "What was that for?!?"
"To make sure you don't start fooling around like that during a game!" she grinned. She snapped the puck back towards Wildwing, who caught it again.
"I'll agree little Bro, we need less playing around and just more playing."
Nosedive huffed as the puck came back to him.
Duke lowered his stick and yawned again.
"What's the matter Duke? Headache keep you up last night?" Mallory asked.
"Funny." Duke snorted. "I'm fine." He had the puck passed to him and suddenly found Grin charging up the wing to take it away.
Duke was exhausted by the end of the day. He yawned as he drew back the light gray comforter of his bunk bed and climbed in. From high up in his little 'perch' he took a tired scan of his dark bunk in, before he gently dug his beak into the pillow and closed his eyes. Suddenly, he was plunged into a world of light, red light. There was a hissing a spitting all around him. Intense heat lapped at his legs and sides. Red and orange light rippled and waved all around him. Fire. He was in a fire. Immediately Duke felt every muscle in his body tense as he realized where he was. He felt the bottom of his stomach drop out, and his heart shoot up into his throat. Fear. He was terrified of the light that flickered and thrashed out at him. He snapped to order as he felt his feet and legs singe. Immediately he looked for some way out, glancing around desperately for some way to escape the approaching flames. Suddenly, something cracked overhead. A huge beam of wood, flames lapping at every uncovered space, came falling down from some invisible ceiling. Duke felt every ounce of the wood coming down on his right arm, felt the pressure it created as his entire body was jerked down. He felt the impact in slow motion as his brown arm was lost beneath the flames and wood as the beam hit the floor with an echoing clatter. The whole world seemed to come to a standstill as he felt the flames lapping at his arm. In a move of sheer instinct, he defied muscular constraints and tore his arm from beneath the flaming beam in a whoosh of sheer adrenaline and terror. He looked up and finally saw relief, a way out. In that space of nothing but hellfire, there was a square black window five feet away. He heard more crackling, he knew in his mind that more beams were coming down on him. More were falling down. He gathered himself and flung out like a bounding rabbit, putting every ounce of energy into reaching out to that window. He felt a wave of freezing cold wash over him from arms to toes as he slowly glided through that window. The fire was gone, he was safe. But slowly, his body started to tilt downwards, giving Duke full time to see gravity come racing up to pull him down again. What was slow motion now snapped into a fast forward. Duke suddenly shot straight down. It was all black, and there was nothing around him to stop him from falling.
The duck gasped in a long, cold breath as he snapped and sat straight up in bed. Black, it was all black..... the room. Duke blinked as panic started to leave him slowly. His room.... his bunk was all black with the night. Duke breathed out audibly, but it was not a sigh. He looked around him with eyes wide, pupils wide and straining to see in the blackness around him. Duke shivered, and realized that a cold sweat had broken out all over him. He reached down to pull the covers back up around him, when a snarling pain shot up the length of his right arm. Duke drew his breath in quickly and squinted, his whole body freezing. Duke looked down at his arm to see some sort of residue on it..... ash. There was ash along his arm. Duke's eyes widened.
Duke lay his arm down on the galley table, using his less dexterous one to pick up a cup of coffee. He looked up to see a paper unfolded in front of him. "So what's on the schedule today Wing?" he asked to the paper across the table.
"Huh?" Nosedive lowered the paper and looked around quickly.
Duke looked at him with a surprised little grin. "Taking intrest in the news Dive?" he asked.
The blonde-haired Duck turned the paper around for Duke to see. "Funnies." He explained.
Duke shook his head and got up with his coffee. He passed Tanya in the hallway as he walked over to the Ready Room.
"Morning!" she said cheerfully. "I hear Wing's gonna stick it to the offense in practice today, really make you work." she grinned, slapping him in the shoulder.
"Ow!" Duke snarled, buckling over with the pain in his arm, nearly spilling his coffee.
"Oh jeez sorry!" Tanya said quickly. "What happened to your arm Duke?"
Duke froze for a second. "I lifted a little too much weight with it in the Rec. Room a few days ago. I think I pulled something." he said sadly, an expert at lying.
"Man... you should get a heat pack for it." Tanya shook her head. "That'll help the blood flow to it faster." She waved goodbye and continued down the hallway.
Duke looked after her, sighing as she rounded a corner. Why didn't he just tell her the truth? Duke had felt very uneasy about lying ever since he had joined the Resistance, especially to his teammates. But he couldn't tell.... Tanya would think he was nuts! Duke shook his head as he kept walking. He was still trying to figure out things for himself. What on earth would cause him to wake up with his arm all burnt and pulled like that? Dreams couldn't hurt you..... Duke kept pondering this as he sat down on a couch in the Ready Room, to listen to the morning news.
Zelda watched Duke carefully as he crossed the ice, dropping the puck for Dive behind him. Nosedive shook off Tanya's forechecking and sped like lightning up the wing to snatch the puck. Unfortunately, he slammed into a solid wall wearing jersey number 23, and his play came to a halt. Duke tried to muscle in and take the puck back, but quickly broke off from Tanya's defensive grasp, wincing in pain.
Tanya fetched the puck and snapped it up ice, ending the play for the moment. "Sorry Duke, did I hit your arm again?" she asked quickly.
"No no, I'm okay." he insisted.
"You got a bad arm Duke?" Zelda had latched on to her suspicion, leaning watchfully over the boards overhead.
"I'm fine! It's just a little sore!"
"A little soreness on the arm of one of our best playmakers? And with the game tomorrow night? Wildwing rested his hands on his padded knees and shook his head. "Get a heat pack for that thing Duke. The sooner the better."
Duke caught his leader's drift and slid off the ice, exiting into the locker room with a little growl under his breath.
Zelda trotted at his heels closely.
Duke quickchanged out of his gear as he walked from the locker room and just down the hall to the infirmary. As he walked in, Zelda jumped ahead of her and leapt up onto the table.
"Come on," she patted the dull steel surface. "I might as well have a look at it while you're here."
Duke rolled his eyes and placed his arm gently on the table, wincing as he slowly rolled up his sleeve.
"Jeez Duke!" Zelda's reaction was immediate as she saw the deep bruising up the Duck's arm. There was also something else: little lines and patches peeked out from all over his arm, colored just slightly lighter than the rest of his skin. "Scars?" she raised her eyebrow.
"Old ones." Duke said shortly.
Zelda nodded and didn't further the conversation. "Well." she said simply. "I'll get you a heat pack for it." She walked over to a cabinet on the wall. "How did you hit your arm up like that anyway?" asked, rummaging about inside of it.
"Fell outta bed last night." Duke said sheepishly. Another lie.
Zelda turned around with a pack and walked back towards him. "You falling out of bed?" she smiled. "And what about the burns? That arm looks like it got a little torched there. Don't tell me you've been playing with matches now...." she grinned sarcastically.
"Very funny." Duke started. What about the burns? What could he say? "... I spilled some coffee on my arm this morning... guess I didn't know how bad it hurt." he said.
"Poor kid." she scoffed good naturedly, laying the pack on his bare arm and securing it with and ace bandage.
Duke stood up and smoothed his sleeve back into place. "Thanks Zel, I think I'm gonna watch the rest of practice." he said, walking out.
Zelda put the wrapper from the heat pack into a garbage chute, and wiped the steel table clean with a sponge, thinking to herself.
Duke lay in his bed, blinking up at the dark ceiling. He was afraid to sleep. What would happen to him when he closed his eyes? Duke sighed. It was the first thing he'd really been afraid of in a long time. Duke suddenly snapped himself too. So he'd had a freaky experience, so what? Why should he be afraid of sleeping? Duke got angry at himself. So what if he pulled his arm... he might have just hit the wall with it or something. But the ashes..... Duke shook himself again and frowned. He nuzzled his head deeper into the pillow and shut his eyes.
To be continued...