When the Saurians showed up and enslaved the planet, I was lucky. I escaped capture. I managed to get out of the city. I didn't end up dead, or in some labor camp, or imprisoned somewhere.
I stood in line for breakfast-if one could call it that-and glared at the approaching drake. He was tall, and big-that is, big for the emaciated mine workers one found here. He looked me over critically, and decided to cut in front of someone else.
I was big myself, and certainly healthier. He knew that, too. I was more trouble than he wanted.
I hadn't been here as long as the rest of these prisoners; only a few weeks, in fact.
I was here on purpose.
I had joined the resistance against the Saurian oppression. I had helped steal supplies, sabotage key sites, and rescue valuable personnel.
That was in fact why I was here, in one of the worst of the work camps. This place was considered bad for a mine camp, and mine camps were the worst type of camp to end up in. It was a death sentence.
I had willingly been captured and thrown into this camp. Why? Good question.
I was on a rescue mission. I was to locate and, in exchange for joining the resistance, help one Duke L'orange escape.
The problem was that I had been here for about four weeks, and had not seen a trace of the former thief.
The resistance needed his help. L'orange was allegedly the best in the world at his trade. He would be a valuable asset to the resistance.
It would also be the only way I was going to get out of here. I was stuck here without him.
Intelligence said that he had been caught robbing a supply train of medical supplies four months back. He had consequently been thrown in here.
He could have been taken somewhere else entirely. He could be dead.
Intelligence didn't believe he was. I just hoped they were right.
The big drake decided to try his luck further back in line. He scoped out his target, and in one swift move slipped into line in front of him.
Nobody here is guaranteed a meal. Once the meager ration of food is gone, it's gone. If you didn't get anything, you didn't eat, which was why this guy was so desperate to get ahead.
"Now I'd like ta know exactly what ya think you're doin'." Judging by the sound of things, the fellow behind the big drake had taken offence at being skipped. The offender, of course, simply ignored him.
"I said-" The smaller drake started again, but was told to shut up. I was too far up to see exactly what happened next, but I did hear a blow land as he continued. "Let me make myself a little clearer." Then the two were out of the line and going at it.
The one who had been skipped was smaller and thinner, but was also less clumsy than his opponent. He was grey-feathered and sported a patch over one eye. He carried himself in a way that suggested that he was all too used to fighting.
I felt the guards approaching before they actually entered, and shouted a warning. Neither of them needed that kind of trouble. Fighting was forbidden, that rule was strictly enforced. The two scrambled up and slipped back into line. Nobody argued; nobody wanted to risk it.
The grey drake smirked as the drones came into view, and tapped the big guy on the shoulder. As he turned, the smaller drake decked him.
He went down, and the guards were on the grey drake in a heartbeat, escorting him to solitary confinement. I shook my head as the fallen drake pulled himself together and turned to get my-for lack of a better word-food.
It was grey, and lumpy, and watery. It was similar to oatmeal, barely. The taste, at first, had been nauseating. After a few days, however, you were too tired and hungry to notice the taste, and if you did, it was likely you wouldn't care.
I scanned the room as I sat down, questioning people as I ate. No one had ever even heard of a Duke L'orange.
I talked to people as much as I dared while we worked, and again during dinner that night. I even risked talking to others as we headed towards the barracks to be locked in the rooms we slept in at night. No luck.
As I stared into my breakfast the next morning it occurred to me that I might never find him. I might be trapped here.
A shadow fell across the table and I looked up to see the smaller drake from the scuffle yesterday. "Thanks for the warnin'." He said, sitting down across from me.
I snorted. "You're welcome, not that it did you any good."
He smirked. "Sure it did. Everything worked out jus' fine."
This was news to me. "They put you in solitary." I pointed out.
"Yep. Let me out last night." He set upon his food as if he hadn't eaten for, well, a day, which he hadn't. My bewilderment over the situation must have shown, because he chuckled and launched into an explanation. "I was prepared ta fight ta defend my place in line. I was also prepared ta continue that fight in the presence of them guards. I also left him out of the trouble wit' the guards. I also knocked him down. He knows all this, and so does everyone else, so nobody'll mess with me for a while." I shook my head, amazed at his line of thinking, and he laughed. "You ain't been here but a couple of weeks, kid. You'll catch on soon enough, if ya last."
I regarded him with surprise. "Is it that obvious?" I asked.
"One," He said in reply, finishing his food, "you're too healthy ta have been here long. Two, I noticed when ya showed up. Three, you been askin' around about me."
He waited silently while I looked him over. He was emaciated, terribly so, and exhausted to the point that he sat with his head propped up heavily on one arm. His grey hair was just beginning to go white, and he had, as I mentioned before, a patch over one eye. He moved less clumsily than most here, and seemed less affected by what was happening around him.
"You're Duke L'orange?" I finally asked, not quite certain if I should believe my luck. Or was this merely an imposter, hoping for a way out? I had no way of knowing as I sat there. It could simply have been someone desperate, or insane. "It's hard to find a guy when you have no idea what he looks like. They didn't have any pictures."
He laughed. It was a rare sound in this place, but had a harshness to it. "Of course there weren't any pictures. I've never been caught."
"You've been arrested once." I said with a frown. I did know that much. Perhaps it had been too good to be true.
He shrugged in response. "Doesn't count. The deal was I was supposed ta go free. Two-timin', double-crossin' cop." He grumbled, but it was good-natured.
"It still happened." I said, hoping he would elaborate. I could match what he said with what I had been told.
"Yeah, sure. A deal with a thief ain't no deal at all." He complained. I had heard that phrase, the justification for arresting him even after the police had agreed to let him go. "Don't matter anyway." He continued. "I was out again in three days." He grew serious. "Now what exactly do ya want wit' little ol' me?" His voice had gone low and harsh, as if daring me to be looking for trouble.
This had to be him. I took a deep breath. "My name is Canard." I began, softening my voice so as not to be overheard.
"I know who ya are. Why are ya here?"
"I'm a member of the resistance. I was sent to find you and get you out. We could use your help."
He looked thoughtful. "So I agree ta help, and in return ya bust me out?" I nodded, though that wasn't exactly accurate.
"Right then." He said, leaning back in his seat. "I see what's goin' on. I ain't interested. I seen too many wannabe rebels disappear. I ain't lookin' for trouble, and ya can make sure the Saurians know that. I'm just tryin' ta stay alive here. Sorry kid."
I stared at the older duck. "What?" was all I could manage to say.
They easygoing manner lessened somewhat. "Look, I ain't stupid, and I ain't fallin' for your little trick, okay?"
"But's it's not a trick!" I protested. "Look, I was told not to leave without you. It's that important. I went and got myself thrown into this pit to find you."
"Sorry kid." He said, and stood up and walked away. I stared at his retreating back in shock. Now what?
There had been no plan for getting me out. There hadn't been enough information on the mine camp to figure anything out. My escape had depended on the two of us figuring something out. I was trapped, it seemed, for good.
I didn't see Duke again for another week. Then one evening he fell into step with me as we walked from the mines to the mess hall.
"Ya serious about this, kid?" He asked. I turned to look at him, and he shrugged. "I thought it over, alright? Were ya serious?" I nodded. "Okay then," he said, "how do we get out?"
I sighed. "That's one of the reasons I couldn't leave without you."
He stared at me, surprised. "Ya mean ya don't got a plan of some sort?"
"I was hoping you might be able to help in that department." He nodded tersely, trying to think. I let him, and we walked in silence, I occupied with thoughts of my own.
He looked worse this time, as if he hadn't been eating at all. Or as if his body were losing the fight to stay alive on the limited amount of nutrition and sleep we were getting. We were up before sunrise and finished long after sunset. This place was probably crawling with disease, too.
"Here's what we'll do." Duke finally said, his voice practically a whisper. "On the way back from the mines tomorrow, we'll pull the ol' 'he's fallen and he can't get up' ploy. I'll fall, and you try to get me to get up and get goin' before the guards come."
"Will they fall for that?" I asked skeptically.
"Happens all the time. See?" He said as the duck in front of us stumbled and fell, and his companion started pleading for him to get up in frantic whispers. It was a side of the camp I had tried to avoid having to see.
"Get up, fool." Duke hissed, his voice hard. "They'll kill ya otherwise."
"I'm-going-to-die-anyway." The fallen drake gasped. "I-can't. I'm-sorry." He said to his friend, who was now sobbing loudly. That would certainly attracted attention. The guards were beginning to notice us.
"Then die on your terms, not theirs." Duke snapped. "Die in bed, where you're gone long before they find ya."
"I-can't." He gasped painfully. "Please."
Duke scowled, and knelt down quickly, leaning over the fallen duck. As the guards reached us, I heard a snap, and Duke stood and stepped out of the way just in time.
The other duck wailed, and launched herself at Duke as I realized he had broken the other drake's neck. Duke caught her, and dragged her away from the body and the guards.
We entered the mess hall, with her struggling every step of the way. Once inside, Duke turned and shoved her against the wall.
"Listen ta me." He said sharply, though not, I was surprised to notice, unkindly. She blinked, and stared at him. "He's dead. It's over. He's gone. No sense in makin' him suffer any more. But you gotta pull yourself tagether. They'd a killed ya right along wit' him, ya know?" She glared at him defiantly as he continued, but she was listening. "No point ta that. Don' give up. We'll survive. We'll take back what's ours someday. We ain't alone. Ya know people are fightin' it."
She looked at him miserably. "You really think there's still hope?" She was desperate, I realized.
Duke nodded. "Course. There's always hope." He sounded like he believed in, in spite of our conversation the other day.
She seemed comforted by that, and we left her to get in line.
"When I fall," he went back to his plan as if nothing had happened, "you do just that sort of thing, in staged whispers, ya know, cause we actually wanna attract attention. Grab the guard, like ta give me time ta get up? He'll probably hit ya to get ya off. He hits ya twice, let him go. We don't want ya dead. I'll grab his keys while he's dealing wit' you.
"We'll break out of the cells after everyone's asleep, and make our way ta the control room. We'll deactivate the fence, and climb over it. Then we jus' gotta worry about the river and hit the woods after that."
"That's all? It's suicidal!" I protested.
He gave me a sharp glance. "You got a better plan?"
I sighed. The cook had just run out of food.
Duke studied me for a moment. "You wanna do this tonight?" He asked.
I turned to stare at him. "Tonight?" I spluttered.
He shrugged. "Why not? We're as prepared as we're gonna be."
I shook my head in amazement. "Sure."
We headed out toward the barracks, stomachs empty. Without warning, Duke collapsed and hit the ground with a moan. I winced. It was a little too convincing for my taste.
I dropped down beside him, doing as I had been instructed, all the while wondering if he actually were hurt. The guard showed up as planned, and kicked him, ordering him to get up.
I grabbed the guard, begging him to leave Duke alone, insisting he was fine, he just needed a minute. The guard swung at me, and I nearly let go as I saw stars. I yelped and held on, repeating my pleas. He hit me again, and I let myself fall back and hit the ground.
I shook my head to clear it and saw Duke take a blow to the ribs and he 'managed' to get up somehow. Together we hobbled to the barracks.
He stumbled against me ever so briefly as we walked. "You okay?" I asked, worried.
"Yeah. Sure." He said. "Jus' tripped, is all." He turned and headed to his section of the barracks, and I headed the other way.
It occurred to me as I walked that he could do the rest without me, now that he had the keys. Would he? We had planned for both of us, but how much could you really trust a thief?
I turned as I heard a shout. It was the guard. He was yelling at Duke, who shrugged and spread his arms as if to say 'search me.' My breath caught as he did, shoving him roughly against the wall. He found nothing, however, and let Duke go.
I frowned as I sat down on my bed. How had they found nothing? If Duke had had the keys, they would have found them. I leaned back, and noticed my pocket felt heavy.
I reached in a pulled out the keys. Duke must have planted them on me. Duke must have suspected he would be searched, and had acted accordingly.
It didn't take long for everyone around me to fall asleep. Like food, there was little of it. I slipped out of bed and went to the door, only to realize the key did not fit.
Now what? My mind was racing. They would be suspicious now. We wouldn't get another chance. We might not survive to try again. Accidents happened in the mines every day.
I heard a soft click, and the door swung silently open. Duke was waiting for me outside.
"How-" Duke silenced me with a finger to his beak. We crept through the barracks in silence, hearts pounding, every sense alert.
We reached the outer door, where Duke pulled out several long, thin pieces of metal and set on the lock. In a few minutes, he had the door open.
"Where-" A sharp glance and I again fell silent. We crept through the shadows to the control room, a small building near the center of the compound.
I unlocked the door, and we slipped inside. One sleepy guard waited for us, staring for a second or two before jumping into action. Those few seconds were all it took for Duke to launch into him, delivering a blow to his throat to keep him from calling for help.
The guard was strong, though, and shoved Duke down. I grabbed the long, heavy club the guards always had with them, and cracked the guard over the head. He dropped to the ground, unconscious.
I offered Duke a hand, and hauled him up off the floor. "Thanks." He muttered.
Three minutes was all it took for Duke to disable the fence. It occurred to me to wonder why he even needed my help at all. He seemed fully capable of managing on his own.
The electric fence surrounded the compound. It was twenty feet high with razor wire at the top. It also had a high enough voltage to immediately fry anyone who touched it.
The razor wire had me worried. "When they laid it." Duke grunted as we climbed, they didn' actually expect anyone to make it up there. So they laid it-" He paused, drawing in a deep breath. The climb was wearing him out. He continued, "carelessly. Unevenly. Places it's laid out so ya jus' gotta be careful as ya climb over it."
When we got to the top, I realized he was right. He climbed over first, nearly dropping as he grunted.
"You okay?" I asked as he regained his grip.
"Yeah. Jus' cut myself. No biggie."
I hoped he was telling the truth as I followed him over. He slipped again on the way down, but it was only about a four foot drop, so he landed and waited for me.
We stopped for a minute when we reached the river. "Where'd you cut yourself?" I asked, hoping it wasn't too bad.
"Skinned my arm. Shallow, no muscle damage, looks worse than it is, alright?" He said shortly, panting for breath.
That was when we heard the alarm. We looked at each other, and wordlessly plunged into the river.
I think fear was what got us across. Or maybe the thought of freedom being so close. We dragged ourselves ashore, and staggered into the woods. I knew where to go from here. There was a rendezvous point a couple miles from here, where people had been waiting for us since I had gone in.
We were shivering, exhausted past the ability to think, and dizzy from our excursion after a full day of work and no dinner. We were a bit dazed too, I suppose.
I didn't warn Duke. Flashlight hit us full in the face and he froze. I just watched stupidly as someone made the mistake of coming up behind him.
Duke whipped around, kicked the guy in the stomach, disarmed him, and somehow found the strength to bolt up a tree. The guy with the flashlight turned to stare at me. "You didn't tell him?" He asked.
"Tell him what?" I asked. I was so tired.
"That we're the good guys."
"Oh." I staggered over to his tree. "Duke!" I called. "They're the good guys!"
"Rescue team." The guy Duke had attacked managed to gasp.
Silence. Then Duke slid out of the tree. "Oh." He said. "Right. Gotcha."
The rest of the night was a blur as we marched the long miles back to the base.
All I really wanted to do when we go back to base was collapse somewhere, anywhere, and sleep for a year. First, however, I had to take care of my escaped prisoner.
It was decided that since it was 2:00 that we would meet with General Tanner, the base leader, at 7:30, halfway through breakfast. I was too tired to comment on how stupid I thought that was.
Duke had stayed withing five feet of me since he had come down from the tree. Here at the base was no exception. I led him down several hallways and to the showers.
It was amazing to see the wonders that a hot shower and clean clothes did for our refugees that escaped from the work camps. I went to get Duke a towel and some clean clothing.
Jessica, one of the doctors on base, was ready with towels and clothes for both of us. "Take a shower and get some sleep." She ordered. "Towels, and clothes, and this. It's for lice and fleas and whatever else you've picked up there. Now off with you."
Duke was already in the shower when I got back. I left the towel and the clothes, and handed him the soap with a "the doctor says to use this for fleas, lice, or whatever." Let him be insulted by the doctor, not by me. A lot of people were touchy about that sort of thing.
"Thanks." He said, and I could tell he meant it.
I left him and staggered into an empty shower and turned the water on. It felt wonderful. No wonder so many refugees stood in the shower forever when the first got here. It was marvelous.
I scrubbed myself down, and reluctantly got out of the shower and dressed. Duke was waiting for me in the hall, standing just outside the door.
He stared at the room that was now his. It was small, with a bed, a small side table, a lamp, a small closet, and a window, but after the barracks, well…
"Mess is at 7:00." I said. Wake up call is at 6:00. I'll show you to the mess hall in the morning."
"No need." Duke replied wearily. "All I need are directions."
I gave them, and left to find my own bed.
The siren that was wake up call jerked me awake in a panic. I was up, dressed, and staggering into the hall before I remembered that I was no longer in the mine. I took a deep breath and let myself relax.
I was still tired, and understandably so after yesterday. But I was free again, and that was something. I strolled down the hallways, my heart light and a smile on my face. Other rebels I passed eyed me grumpily, wondering how I could be so cheerful at this hour in the morning.
I made my way to the mess hall, and got my food. As I sat down, the smell hit me, and I gagged, nearly dropping the tray. It had been a while since I had eaten real food, long enough that I considered the food here 'real' food.
I managed to swallow a few bites before my stomach threatened to rebel. I set down my fork as Mallory, the base leader's daughter, plopped down beside me.
"Welcome back." She said, shoveling down her breakfast. She always had an appetite, I remembered. "Dad said to remind you 7:30, and Jessica suggested that if your refugee hasn't shown up by 7:00 to check on him. Are you going to eat that?"
I shoved my tray over to her and stood. "Guess I'll go check on him." I said. "Good to see you again, Mallory."
"You too, Canard." She said. "We were starting to worry you weren't coming back from your secret mission."
Details of who was to be rescued were never disclosed, for some military reason, I supposed. I made my way out of the mess hall and to Duke's room.
A knock on the door brought no response. I tried the handle, and was surprised to find it unlocked, until I realized it probably hadn't even occurred to him that it could be locked.
I carefully pushed the door open. "Duke?" I called. I stepped inside and flicked on the lamp. "Duke."
He was lying facedown on the bed, the blanket discarded sometime during the night, and the pillow as well. He groaned, and used his arms to shove himself up from the bed.
Abruptly he sank back down into his previous position, and lay there motionless. I frowned. How close had he been to giving up? Was that why he had come back and agreed to join us?
"Duke?" I asked again, softly. "You okay?" No response. I sighed in frustration. "You need to get up now if you want to eat before we meet the General."
Another groan, then: "Oh yeah." Not quite awake, he too must have forgotten our escape last night. He rolled over and slid out of bed, standing unsteadily for a moment before sinking back down to sit on the edge of the bed. "We made it." He said, looking up at me, and it was all I could do not to flinch at the horribly mutilated flesh that his eye patch normally covered.
He noticed anyway, and looked away. "I'll be there in a few minutes. You don't gotta wait for me."
Reluctantly I left, wishing I hadn't been caught off guard so easily. He had enough to deal with without worrying about what I thought about his eye.
I returned to the mess hall and sat down beside Wildwing, my best friend growing up, and his annoying little brother, Nosedive. I had rescued them from the city almost two months ago, wanting Wing for the strike team the General was putting together to attack Dragonis and the Saurians directly.
We had everyone for the team now, but the actual plan was still incomplete. A lot of work was being put into it-everything would have to work perfectly. We couldn't afford any slip ups.
I pointed Duke out to Wing as he entered the mess hall and joined the line.
"Doesn't look like much." Jessica noted, joining us. "Of course, coming from the camps, they rarely do."
The exception being the calm, giant of a duck who got in line behind Duke, but I wasn't certain as to what sort of camp or imprisonment he had been rescued from, save that while there he had befriended the blonde duck who stood with him. Her name was Tanya, if memory served, and she a computer genius.
Tanya caught my glance and waved, then turned back to talk to Grin.
"Welcome back, Canard." That was Chris, who had just entered mess hall. "Gotta go teach the new recruits their place."
I rolled my eyes. Chris, being one of the bigger guys and the oldest recruits, had a tendency to bully the new recruits. It usually kept them out of trouble in the long run with the older, less friendly, recruits, but it still got on my nerves.
Jessica laughed at my irritation. "It could always be worse, Canard." She said lightly.
It suddenly was. Chris picked Duke out as being new, and slipped in front of him.
I watched helplessly from across the room as Duke started a conversation with Chris. I breathed a sigh of relief as Duke shrugged, and turned away from him.
My relief was short lived. Duke must have muttered some insult under his breath, because Chris grabbed him by the shoulder and jerked him roughly around, and a heated argument flared up.
I stood as Chris shoved Duke, who sank into a crouch and swept Chris's legs out from under him with a kick.
Chris went down, and I watched in horror as a fight began in earnest. I realized almost at once what had happened.
Four months of fighting for survival had overridden the knowledge that Duke was no longer in the camp, a knowledge that he had a very slight grip on anyway.
Getting a grip myself, I strode over to the two, grabbed Duke by the shoulder, and placed myself between him and Chris.
"Stop it." I hissed at him. "You aren't in the camps anymore." He froze, and the look on his face before he realized I was right was one of pure hatred.
He relaxed, some, and shrugged my hand from his shoulder. "Right." He muttered. "Sorry."
I turned to face Chris, who was glaring but reluctant to pick a fight with me. "Drop it, Chris." I said softly, leading him away from Duke.
"That-" Chris started to argue. I cut him off, keeping my voice low.
"He just came in from four months in a mining camp where to let someone in front of you may mean you don't eat, and hasn't eaten since yesterday morning, assuming he actually ate then. He's exhausted, half-starved, and in a completely foreign situation. Leave him alone, Chris."
Chris held up his hands in surrender. "Hey, I didn't know, Canard. Sorry." He stalked off to skip in front of someone else.
I turned back to Duke. "You don't have to fight to eat here, Duke." I reminded him.
He shrugged easily, and I wondered how much of his easygoing appearance was just an act. "Yeah, sorry, I jus' forgot." He said.
He turned to rejoin the line. I went back to sit with Jessica and Wildwing, and Nosedive too, of course. "He's got some fight in him." Wing observed.
"Member of the Brotherhood." Nosedive added. "Those guys are dangerous. You don't wanna mess with them."
Wing gave his brother a look. "How would you know that?" He asked.
Nosedive shrugged evasively. "He's coming this way." He said. "Wonder what happened to his eye?" I shrugged.
"Don't ask." Wildwing warned.
Duke sat down across from me. Jessica looked him over sharply. "Welcome." She said when he looked up from his breakfast to stare back at her.
"This is Jessica. One of the doctors here." I said. "This is Wildwing, and that's his brother."
"Nosedive." The teenager supplied.
"Duke." The former thief returned, then went back picking at his breakfast.
"It's hard to stomach the food here at first." Jessica said sympathetically. Duke just looked at her.
Nosedive picked up the slack. "No kidding." He said. "I think I lost more weight the first week I was here than I did the whole time I was stuck in the city. Of course, it took Wing even longer." He added, and Wildwing rolled his eyes.
"You just have to tell everyone, don't you?" Wildwing complained with a laugh.
"So you're from the city?" Duke asked Nosedive.
"Yep. Prison Camp 06." Nosedive replied. "What about you?"
"Mine 87." Duke replied evenly, and Nosedive flinched. Everyone knew how bad Mine 87 was.
"That sucks." Nosedive said, breaking up the rather uncomfortable silence that was beginning to fall over the table. "You gonna eat that?"
Duke slid his tray over to Nosedive. Jessica started to object, but Nosedive stopped her. "The only thing he touched was that stuff that looks like oatmeal, and for heaven sakes, I hate that stuff. I'm not gonna pick up any diseases from him. Sheesh."
Duke turned to survey the mess hall, studying it rather intently. He was looking for exits, I realized, making sure he had an escape if he needed one.
Was that the thief? Or the mine prisoner? I really didn't know. I did know that Duke L'orange had been an excellent choice for the team.
I sat in the General's office, waiting for the last member of the team to arrive. As I waited, I looked from one team member to another.
Tanya sat, blonde hair and glasses, dressed in purple, looking around nervously. She was smart, though I had seen several people dismiss the idea because of her stutter.
Grin was beside her, large and strong, cool and collected as ever. Very at peace with himself and occasionally way out there, Grin was possibly the most level-headed duck I had ever met.
Wildwing was beside him, shooting warning glances at his brother to be quiet. I had grown up with Wildwing. He was tough, and brave, and loyal; and one of the best goalies I had ever seen.
Nosedive, Wildwing's bratty brother, was trying to talk to Duke. I say trying because Duke was ignoring him and Wildwing was almost succeeding in silencing him. Nosedive was only here at Wildwing's insistence.
Duke was beside me, to all appearances as relaxed as Grin, though his careful scrutiny of everything and everyone in the room as he entered had told otherwise.
Mallory slipped through the door and into a seat with an apology for being late.
"Now that we are all here," General Tanner said, "I suppose we should start with introductions." He proceeded to introduce everyone. Most of us had met before at one time or another, however briefly, and things went without a hitch.
Until Mallory recognized Duke.
"You!" She yelled, her eyes flashing. Both were instantly on their feet. "What are you doing here you-"
Duke cut her off with a grin. "Hey, sweetheart. Long time no see. You still goin' wit' that cop? Guy's got no sense of humor, ya know."
Mallory glared at him for a moment before punching him in the face.
"Mallory!" Snapped the General as Duke staggered back.
"It's okay, General," sarcasm slipped into the title, but it lacked any real hostility, "it's custom, ya see. Every time we get tagether, she decks me. Course, last time I seem to remember bein' under arrest." He added thoughtfully.
The General eventually got everyone settled back down and briefed us on our mission. There was still a lot of work to be done, and everyone was needed. I would have to watch out for Mallory and Duke, I realized, as both were in the same room together only with great reluctance.
I hoped they would be able to put aside their differences when we went into battle.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership or possesion of the animated tv show The Mighty Ducks. I am but a humble college student attempting to practice her writing and improve her writing skills.