Disclaimer--- Don't own 'em, don't profit off of them, but I would love to do either Normal Unknown User 2 5 2001-10-06T00:45:00Z 2001-10-06T00:45:00Z 3 1434 8175 DellComputerCorporation 68 16 10039 9.3821 0 6 pt 6 pt 0

Disclaimer--- Don't own 'em, don't profit off of them, but I would love to do either!

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.

Lies, Waking Nightmares, and a Fugitive, PART 3

Written by Zelda (And Starr!)

                Zelda could merely shake her head as she finished bandaging Duke's wounds. "Never seen thin air cut like that." she commented sharply. "When I find Falcone..."

                "Is he as bad as he looks?" Mallory asked.

                "Depends." Zelda sighed. "His cuts haven't bled much really, but he's exausted. If he rests, he should heal well."

Duke opened his eyes and sighed slowly. "Rest sounds... so nice about now." he muttered.

                "What happened to you Duke? What attacked you?" Wildwing asked.

                "It's... a long story." Duke closed his eyes. He looked horribly beat. Bags sagged under his eyes, his hair was matted with dirt and blood. "I was having these nightmares.... bad ones.... I would get hurt in the nightmare, and when I woke up... the injury was there...." He shook his head. "They started happening when I was awake... I had to find out what was going on, but I never did."

Mallory breathed slowly. So he was lying.... but she had never suspected this to be the root cause! She shook her head in a silent apology.

                "Take it easy Duke, it's our job to find that out." Zelda was up at the Medicom control panel. The scanning ring began to whirl quietly around Duke's head. "Try to clear your mind and relax Duke, I'm performing a brain hormone scan to see what's up in there." she said.

There was a silence for a moment.

                "Anything?" Nosedive asked, his voice echoing a little off of the infirmary walls.

                "Eveything is normal... there's nothing even suspicious here." Zelda rubbed her head.

                "Then the problem isn't inside Duke's head...?" Starr said strangely, as if she didn't believe it.

                "Wait just a second, I'm getting some weird brain impulses here." Zelda was distracted as she continued scanning, typing at the control panel.

More silence.

Duke waited with open eyes.

"The Medicom is reading foreign electrical impulses in the brain..." Zelda reported.

                "And what does that mean?" Grin asked.

                "I'm scanning..." Zelda shook her head. "Duke. It's coming from your eyepatch..." she said.

Duke sat up slightly in his bed.

                "That thing is like, a machine, right?" Nosedive asked.

                "Yeah..." Duke said.

There was a forboding silence in the room.

Wildwing felt itchy. Something was really wrong. "Uhh, I think we'd better go out for a bit Zel." he started.

The others shuffled slowly for the door. They must have sensed it too.

                "Yeah... I guess everyone should get some sleep." she said, rather emptily. "I'll take care of Duke."

Wildwing nodded and slipped out quickly.

Duke slid up slowly and sat on the edge of the bed, wincing as he did so.

Zelda turned about, tearing a data sheet from the Medicom printer. "Well that eyepatch is gonna have to come off Duke.... I just have to see what's in there."

Duke blinked a little. Maybe Zelda had a fear of taking it off. Maybe he did too. It had been so long ago...

"How does that thing work anyway?" he heard the dragon venture.

                "It's not complicated." he started. "You just take off the strap and it sorta slips off." Zelda hesitated. Duke reached behind his head and slipped off the black strap that held the patch in place. The patch itself loosened from the socket, and hung down.

Zelda saw that it wasn't just a covering for the damaged socket, but was actually electrically wired into it. Three wires of different colors hung down about an inch in length from the eye.

"These wires attatch to the nerves." Duke explained, trying to speak as if he didn't know what was happening.

                "So you can still see...." Zelda said in a monotone, handling the device gently. "Not bad..." She looked at the device strangely, tilting it. "Everything seems pretty normal...." she broke off.

                "What is it?" Duke asked.

Zelda pulled something off of the back of the patch, and turned it over in her palm. "This." She held a small computer chip up for him to see. "This must have been altering the electronic impulses in your brain... Falcone must have planted it there when he knocked you out!"

Duke dropped it on the ground and crushed the chip with his foot.

                "Not anymore." he snarled under his breath.

Zelda was still holding the eyepatch gently, looking at it. She glanced up at Duke, looking at his empty eye. It was gnarled by a jagged, lumpy scar. The wound that must have been inflicted there was deep and painful. It probably had taken out the eyeball. She tried not to grimace, but Duke saw it anyway.

"I know you probably think I got this in some noble street fight right?" he sighed.

                "Listen... Duke..." Zelda started. "You don't have to tell me this if you don't want to."

                "Zelda, all of my life... a lot of things have been secrets... bad secrets. I put my old life behind me... but those secrets still remain. Maybe I need to get rid of some of them."

Zelda listened sadly.

"When I was young, like maybe fifteen or sixteen, I was already in the Brotherhood of the Blade." he sighed. "I was doing petty work, rookie stuff. I drew the cops, looked out for police raids, stole little trinkets off the street, took food for the others. I hated it. I wanted to be up on the top of the ranks. I wanted to be the greatest theif of all. I was so young then..." he trailed off. "But anyway... at that time... the cops killed the old boss, a guy by the name of Xercon. He was shot trying to steal this huge diamond... the thing was the hugest thing Puckworld had ever seen. Anyway, the Brotherhood had a kinda policy when the ringleader was picked off. They had everyone go on a theiving spree.... whoever got the most valuable stuff would be the new boss."

                "Kinda like what happens to our kind when a leader dies...." Zelda said thoughtfully. "Not a game for the weak, I suppose?"

                "Not at all." Duke sighed. "The competition continued on for two or three years... something like that anyway. The Brotherhood was in complete turmoil. Theives were stealing from each other. I had a little hoard myself, I risked my neck everyday keeping it safe. I thought that I had my big chance... I could be the greatest theif... but what I stole was small bread compared to the others. I knew I had to go for something big. So one night I sneaked out... I knew I had to steal the diamond that had killed Xercon..." Duke closed his eyes, letting the memories come back to him. "I remember going into this museum where it was held... in through the roof... inching along the walls. When I finally got the gem exibit, I thought I was home free. I was wrong."

                "Cops?" Zelda asked.

                "Worse. I wasn't the only one after the diamond." Duke blinked slowly. "One of the hottest rivals in the Brotherhood for the new position, was after it too. It was Falcone.... I used to look up to him as a kid. He was so smart, he stole things like it was second nature, you know? But I wanted that diamond.... and I had to fight him for it.....

                "Bad odds?" Zelda asked sadly.

Duke paused. "I don't remember much about the fight...." he said lowly. "He and I both had swords. It seemed like we fought for hours... I knew it was only minutes though. He had me pretty beat. He was the one who chipped my beak..." He stopped. Zelda looked at his face and saw a grimace on it, as if he felt the pain of the blow all over again. "And I remember I caught him pretty hard across the side of his head.... there was a lot of blood. And he came back at me.... he had lost his sword, but he used something on his hand... I think he must of had spiked knuckles... and hit me in the eye...." He didn't say anything more. He lowered his head to stare at the floor. The room was enveloped in silence. "I got my diamond."

                "And Falcone?"

                "I thought that I had killed him. He was all the cops found. He was still alive though, they took him to a hospital and he escaped a few months later before they could jail him." Duke muttered. "I didn't enjoy that fight one bit. He still haunts me sometimes..... But I got my prize. I became the boss. Nobody believed in me. I had to defeat the greatest thieves in the Brotherhood to earn their trust. They hurt me pretty bad, I was nearly killed sometimes. But none of those fights hurt as much." Duke picked up his patch and put it over his eye.

                "And you've left it behind." Zelda smiled at him proudly.

Duke frowned. "I dunno Zel, there's no way I can forget the past."

                "Forgetting it isn't the key." Zelda patted him on the hand. "Accepting it and moving on is the key. Few physical wounds don't heal. Yours are of that kind, but the main importance is the mental wounds. Those never heal. Your memories will haunt you to your grave, as will mine, and as will everyones'."

                "Your comfort is remarkable." Duke snorted sarcastically, standing up.

                "But the keynote is that you recognize those memories, and you've overcome them. You'll be forever able to control them now. That's when the mental scars dissapear." Zelda was up beside him.

                "Maybe." Duke sighed. He and Zelda walked out of the infirmary, shutting the lights off as the doors closed with a hiss.

The End

Mighty Ducks-The Animated Series, including all logos and characters (except me) are copyright and property of Disney. You may copy, print, or whatever with this document, so long as it is not altered and I (Zelda) am credited. Again, a BIG thanks to Starr!