Disclaimer--- Not mine.
Author's note: Thought it had to be done, a reaction story to the 9/11 attacks I mean. Come on, the NHL suspended games, technically the Ducks would have been affected, heh, not to mention the far more important emotional aspects, which I hope this little story will delve into. We are one crazy species, after all. I know the subject matter of this story may upset some people. Please read my little ending note if you're one of them; I don't necessarily write with an audience reaction in mind. Enjoy. By the way, if you'd like to read more stories or find out about my character Zelda, visit the information section of my page at by Zelda
She knew that there would be no use in talking to Wildwing. Ever since Drake 1's alarms had roused them out of bed early that morning, he had been glued to the computer's big screen. Several smaller ones that surrounded it were tuned to all sorts of news stations, while the main one showed CNN exclusively. Mallory sighed and stuck her head into the Ready Room for a moment. At first glance, she might have mistaken her leader for his younger brother, who had put his feet up on the console, sat back with a big bowl of popcorn, and would be watching some hideous monster movie on the big screen. But this was far different. This was Wildwing, leaned on the edge of his seat, taking all of the images in. And this was real. She let out a heavy sigh and decided to leave him be for now. It was important that someone was taking all of this in. Stepping back out into the hallway and letting the door close behind her, Mallory pondered her options. She knew that Duke was on the phone with Klegghorn, and Grin was on the phone with Commissioner Bettman, working out what would happen next on a league-wide basis. Tanya was upstairs, she had left early that morning muttering about some security business. Who knew where Nosedive was, probably still asleep. Zelda had followed Tanya upstairs, probably to go out on the roof. And she was here, standing outside the Ready Room and somehow feeling nervous and separated. Why? A little frustrated, Mallory started for the stairwell that would take her above ground.
Somehow, over the sound of a power drill, Tanya could still hear her coming, and stopped work long enough to lean up and look over at Mallory as she approached.
"What's that stuff?" the red-haired Duck frowned.
"Metal detectors." Tanya answered.
The two stood in one of the glittering green glass archways that had made the Pond such a famous architectural structure in Anaheim. It was the Pond's trademark. Now each doorway was shackled with a boxy gray frame.
The presence of them took Mallory by slight surprise. "Metal detectors?" she repeated in question. "We what, just had those in storage?"
"Yeah." Tanya answered, picking up a few more screws. "Seems they bought a set or two when they built the place, decided not to put them in. Guess we need 'em now..." she sighed, stuttering a little.
"Wish we didn't." Mallory stated, looking out into the sunny morning beyond. "They're kinda ugly. Think we'll have to keep them up for long?"
"I think they'll have to be
permanent." Tanya shook her head. "I don't know what you've seen on TV Mal, it's
"The attacks, yeah, Wildwing's still on Drake 1 watching CNN. It's crazy, isn't it? We always expected something like this from Dragaunus. Instead it's these humans."
"Did it to themselves." Tanya nodded. "It is crazy. I dunno. I think it's good that we had these things. You know that plane that ended up crashing in Pennsylvania?"
"Yeah." Mallory blinked.
"I was listening to the radio through my omnitool a while ago. Some people were speculating that they were going to try and repeat the attack here, on the west coast."
There was an uneasy silence between the two.
"So..." Mallory started. "Zelda came up here with you, where is she?"
"On the roof, I think." Tanya shrugged. "I wasn't paying much attention."
Mallory nodded. "I'll go check then." She walked back for the stairwell.
Tanya watched her leave, picking up the drill once again. As she lined up a screw with its designated hole, she pondered why it was so much easier to think about the small things.
"Thank you, yes we certainly understand." Grin nodded, getting a little tired of holding the phone to his ear. The matter of conversation, though, certainly held his attention. "Yes, we are fitting the stadium with additional security measures as we speak. We'll keep the building sealed off from all unofficial personnel as long as it's necessary." He listened patiently as there was a long-winded reply from the other end. "Very well then. We will have our manager contact you once official policy matters are constructed for the league. These are very unfortunate circumstances, we will comply in every way that we can." A few more words, and a deep nod from Grin. "Thank you, we will be in contact with you. Goodbye." And with that, he gratefully removed the phone from his ear and placed it back into its cradle. With a heavy sigh, he stood up, and walked the short distance from the phone in Tanya's lab, to the Ready Room. As he entered, he saw Wildwing turn to meet him, as if he had been waiting or expecting someone to join him.
"What's the word?" he asked.
"Commissioner Bettman wasn't able to give many specifics." Grin answered. "But this is a very delicate time. The nation's shock at this is already starting to show, and out of respect and from security concerns, he's decided to suspend games until the weekend."
"At the very least, I'd suspect." Wildwing nodded, rubbing an eyebrow. "This is just... just a mess. I feel like I'm watching a movie."
Grin nodded slowly, staring up at Drake 1's towering screen, now muted as people fled in silent terror through the canyons of downtown New York City, chased by billowing clouds of powdered concrete. "It is a tragic event..." he started. "There's no doubting that. All that seems to resound is shock, emptiness...."
"Agreed." Wildwing said quietly. "I don't know Grin. I've been sitting here ever since Drake 1 woke us up at what, five thirty this morning? The stuff that I've seen, it's just... chilling." Wildwing trailed off rather quickly, left staring at the screen in silence.
"It reminds you of Puckworld."
Grin didn't ask as much as he stated, eliciting a rather surprised response from the team's leader. It was if he had read his thoughts! This day just kept getting more and more unreal. He could only respond with a slightly stunned look.
Grin nodded, as if he understood, and glanced back up at the screen before returning to the door. "I'll go find Nosedive. Have you seen him this morning?"
"No..." Wildwing started, reminded of something else that had been unsettling about this day. "I think he went back to his bunk. He might be asleep."
"I'll just go check, and then let the others know about the suspended games."
"Thank you Grin. I'll let you know if anything else comes up."
Grin nodded understandingly again, and stepped through the door, leaving Wildwing alone again, the dozen muted televisions behind him all blaring with the silent truth of the morning's reality.
"Yeah, thanks." Duke winced as he held the earpiece away from his face. He could still hear Klegghorn yelling into the other end. "Yeah I know yer all busy! We wanted to cooperate! Yes, it's federal government business... No, no we haven't gotten any official word from the league.... Alright then! That's all you hadda tell me in the first place! Fine fine, I'll get off your back. Good luck, Caps." Duke gladly slammed down the phone in a loud huff. As if being woken up so early hadn't given him enough of a headache, having Klegghorn scream at him added to the problem. That little guy sounded like he was on his last nerve. He must have been hearing from Washington all day today, ever since this whole mess had started. Even on the nation's opposite coast, life seemed to have come to a halt. All of the major tourist attractions had been shut down, businesses sluggish to open. Duke refused to step out and get some coffee this morning, he knew a decent cup couldn't be had anywhere around here. Duke rubbed the bridge of his beak between his thumb and forefinger, trying to just clear his mind for a moment. He felt exhausted, but was felt far too strange to go back to sleep. There was something about this whole mess that felt wrong. Duke was used to creating messes, to committing the crimes that made the news. Only lately had he gotten used to making headlines in a far more positive light. But this... was far worse than anything he had seen before. It was like the entire country, even the world, was frozen in its footsteps, as if everyone had turned to look over their shoulders, and stare at the images blaring again and again on TV, the gabbering of reporters over the radio. Duke stood and looked around at his familiar bunk with a blank stare. He really wished that he could go back to sleep.
One ear twitched backwards as she heard the door open. If she weren't upwind, she'd know instantly who was behind her, but she had a feeling.
"Out here again, hm?"
Mallory's voice confirmed Zelda's gut recognition, and she turned to face the red-haired Duck. "How are things going back inside?"
"Haven't changed much." she shrugged her shoulders.
"Do you guys need any more help?"
"Not yet, I think we've got everything covered so far..." The Duck trailed off slightly, looking around at the horizon. "Weird. I'm always used to seeing planes flying around here from LAX. Turns out they have a ground stop on all flights now, everywhere."
"Amazing, isn't it?" Zelda asked, her voice not sounding particularly wistful. "It's odd. Humans are so different from the rest of life on this planet. Normally, it's the law of having the strongest survive. The predators and the prey, and such." she waved a paw. "I've been up here, all morning, thinking this over. I'm sorry that I haven't been able to help you guys out, but... well..." she paused. "I guess I just needed to sort things out for myself. We've been around humans for quite a long time. I thought I'd understand."
"Now you've seen everything, eh?" Mallory sighed a little.
"Feels that way. But I still don't get it. Why they'd do that to themselves. How they could feel so divided as to do this to each other."
"Come on girl, this can't be the first time you've thought that." Mallory frowned. "Humans have gone to war, they've fought each other, ever since they've been around as I understand it."
"True." Zelda nodded. "But there's something different about this. I don't know." she shook her head and stood. "Maybe I never will. In a way, I'm glad that we're removed. That it's not me, not my kind, not us here. But in another way, I'm thinking... that it is us. No matter how we look at it." The dragoness swung her head back to look Mallory in the eyes. "This changes a lot. Even if these attacks stop here, it's far from over. Too far."
"I know." she sighed back, breaking the gaze to look out at the horizon again. "It's weird. Come on, let's get inside before we get ourselves too confused about this." She forced herself to turn from the skyline and tread back up along the roof, heading for the door.
Obediently, Zelda followed. As unclear as the situation around them was, reentering the Pond seemed very much akin to reentering her den back home in the Territory. She felt safe here, and she was eternally grateful for that, at a time like this.
He didn't want to get up. Why couldn't he sleep? He didn't want to get out of bed. Rolling over for what seemed like the hundredth time in the past half-hour, Nosedive punched the pillow up around his ears, desperate to go back to bed. Why did he always have to be first? He had been the one to spring out of bed when Drake 1's alarm rang. He had been the one to race into the Ready Room, to switch on the big screen, to turn on CNN. He had been the one to see the second plane hit the other tower.
He didn't want to get up.
Although he was trying to distract himself with frustration over his insomnia, there was no way that Nosedive could block the image of that exploding plane from his mind. At first, the newscasters got it wrong, and he did too. At first they thought it was the body of the first plane, exploding. Only when they replayed the footage did Nosedive see the second plane ghost in out of the lower corner of the screen. It seemed so familiar, somehow. It was as if it were straight out of a movie. Scarier still, it was almost like what he had seen back when Puckworld was invaded. Almost. That image... was terribly unique. Why did he have to be first? He really wished that he could just fall back to sleep and forget everything, wake up and find that it had never happened at all. What was the team going to do now? What was the country going to do now? It seemed like the first time he'd had to worry about such a thing. Nosedive sighed into his pillow, unable to keep himself from thinking. For a moment, he wondered about what could be going on outside of the Pond's walls. Were more attacks taking place as he lay here? Naw, impossible. The others would call him if there was any trouble. So then what was happening? Most likely, Nosedive grudgingly accepted, one of those post-storm calms. When everyone would just poke their heads out of hiding and survey the damage. Well, no surveying for him, he'd seen it as it happened. He'd stay in his hiding spot, thank you very much. He didn't care if his curiosity was eating away at him. It was better to see it later, he determined, than to have to see it live. Nosedive rolled over again and shoved his face into his pillow, bunching himself up to a near strangling point in his blanket. He was desperate for something other than this. He wanted it to be sleep, but he knew that he probably wouldn't be able to get to bed for a long time.
With a long sigh, Nosedive began to consider his options. The more he thought it over, and the more he looked at what he was doing now, the more he grew disgusted with himself. What was he doing here, hiding like this? Sure, he didn't like what he had seen, but it had been on the other side of the country. And hey, he was a Duck! He was used to dealing with destruction and damage as a way of life, lately. Why should he of all people be curled up under the sheets at a time like this? Surely his teammates were doing something to try and handle the situation. He felt guilty for not being involved. Growing determined, he pushed his blanket aside and rolled out of bed. He was still fully dressed from the morning, and only had to pop on his boots and quickchange into his armor, before he was ready to go. Frowning at the whole mess, he punched a panel on his wall and stepped back into reality as he opened his door.
Wildwing looked up and away from the screens as he heard his brother's voice behind him. He turned, standing. "Dive! Where have you been all of this time?"
"Umm... not here." Nosedive answered slowly. "Just handling some stuff. What's going on now?"
"You haven't been watching?" Wildwing was genuinely surprised.
"Not since this morning..." Nosedive only took a short glance at the scrolling headlines across the bottom of CNN's screen.
"Oh yeah..." Wildwing remembered. "A lot's gone on---"
"Wait a second." Nosedive interrupted him, staring at the screen. There was a shot of the New York City skyline. But something was missing. "Where'd the towers go?" And before Wildwing could answer him, the video switched, to a scene of people running through a canyon of buildings. Business suits and dresses flashed by as they fled in terror from a thundering cloud of dust and ash that finally caught up with every one of them. Another video clip, from the roof of another building this time, as a tower descended one hundred and one floors to the street, in an umbrella-shaped hail of concrete and steel.
"They're gone, Dive." Wildwing started quietly, recapturing the younger Duck's attention. "Both of them. They fell down with all of those people and rescue workers inside, and nearby."
All that Nosedive could do was to walk forward, closer to the screens, to watch. "By DuCaine." he muttered. It looked like something out of a movie.
"I'm afraid that's not all..." Wildwing started, his voice clearly hesitant as his brother walked past him, and he turned. "A plane hit the Pentagon, a section of it collapsed. And a fourth plane crashed too, in a field in Pennsylvania."
"I don't believe this..." Nosedive continued to stare.
"I know." Wildwing patted his shoulder. "But we're okay here Dive, everything's a lot calmer now that they've stopped all of the flights. I just wish there was something we could do to help."
"They're not letting us?" Nosedive turned. "Bro, we've got some serious equipment here. We could definitely---"
"We've already been over it, Dive." Wildwing sighed, nodding. "With Klegghorn, with the federal government. They don't want us involved. It's too much of a mess already. There were a lot of people in those towers Dive. A lot. And there were a lot of firefighters and police that went in to help. And there were a lot of people at the Pentagon too. Right now, they want to try and keep things organized. They don't want vigilante groups like us getting involved, because they couldn't keep track of us. Better to just lay low, keep our eyes open."
Nosedive silently turned back to the screens, and watched.
Wildwing frowned slightly. "Look, Dive, I've been watching this ever since this morning. It's a lot. I can't wrap my mind around this whole ordeal."
"Me neither." he shook his head. All of the screens were muted, and the brothers spent a few moments staring at them all in silence. "So... what are you going to do now?"
"Now? Probably just watch some more." Wildwing answered. "A lot is still developing. We've got Drake 1 on full alert, scanning just in case."
Nosedive nodded. "I think I'll stay and watch too..." There was so much he felt at the moment, a confused kind of helplessness. He was torn between putting the effort into grasping reality, or retreating back to his bunk. But he decided to work at it, and opt for the former.
Slowly, the two took seats at Drake 1's console, and turned the sound back on.
What to do, Tanya wondered, when you ran out of small things? She'd spent hours installing these metal detectors, but now that the job was finished, what? She glanced out of an archway pane to see the shadows in the parking lot. It must be around noon, and her stomach was grumbling a little. Was eating a small thing? Not really, not on a day like today. The big things were beginning to crowd into her brain again. How could she think about eating at a time like this? Well, maybe she could manage it if she didn't see or hear any new developments on her way down to the galley. Maybe she could eat in her lab, surely she'd find something to fiddle with in there and take her mind off of things. Tanya sighed as she pocketed the last of the tools she'd used with the metal detectors. Why was she trying to hide? Suddenly, her thoughts were broken as she saw Duke approaching, muttering to himself in an annoyed tone.
"Heya girl." he greeted in a tired voice, suddenly noticing her.
"What's going on?" she asked, although she didn't want to know. To her relief, Duke shrugged his shoulders.
"At this point, I really don't wanna know." he shook his head. "It's a mess, all of it. Feel like I don't wanna get involved until it cleans itself up a bit, as bad as that is."
"No, I know exactly how you feel." Tanya admitted. "I think that's gonna creep into everyone, sooner or later."
"I give Wildwing a world of credit." Duke said. "He's been down in the Ready Room ever since this morning, watching everything."
"He has?" Tanya asked. "Wow. That's good of him. Then again, I guess somebody has to, out of us, you know? Everyone else has been off doing their own things. He's stayed on top of the situation as a whole."
"That's what he's team captain for." Duke nodded. "It's nice to know somebody's keepin' his head in this situation."
"What's everyone else been up to?" Tanya asked.
"Well, I think Grin might be meditating, haven't seen him in a while. Dive finally woke up, the kid's with Wing by Drake 1. Last time I saw Mallory she was in the galley, and Zelda—"
"She's not up on the roof again, is she?" Tanya frowned.
"No, I think Mal brought her down. She was headed to the Ready Room too."
"You know what, I think I'm gonna opt for cowardice at the moment and go get a bite to eat."
"I'll join you." Duke nodded. "And hey, whoever said it was cowardice? We're not running away from anything here. What happened, happened, there's nothing we can do now to change that. I'd call it opting for temporary ignorance."
Tanya chuckled softly. "Heh, I guess I can deal with that. Ignorance is bliss, you know." She stowed a few more tools, and then led the way downstairs. "Even if it's only temporary."
Mallory paused slightly before she knocked on the door to Grin's bunk. He'd been in there for quite a while. It was now going on 2:00 in the afternoon, and most everyone had retreated into the galley to get something to eat. The news was on the little TV mounted in the corner by the ceiling, but it was so overwhelming that by now the volume had been turned down to something barely audible, so that the team could eat. Grin was the only one that hadn't made an appearance at the table. Mallory remembered how Nosedive had shut himself in his bunk that morning, this really wasn't the time for the team to be separated. So with that moment of trepidation, she knocked. The door opened automatically before her, and she peered inside to find the room mostly darkened, smelling strongly of incense. Grin sat on a small mat on the floor before his bed, in a Lotus sitting position.
"Is something wrong?" Grin asked, cocking an eyebrow while keeping his eyes closed.
"No, hope I didn't disturb you."
"Not at all." he shook his head slightly.
"Just wanted to get away from the TV for a while, huh?" she asked, leaning in the doorframe, silhouetted by the track lighting from the hallway. "I can understand that."
Grin nodded quietly, not breaking from his stance or opening his eyes. "It is difficult, but important, to maintain peace in a time of crisis."
"I'll say." she ran a hand through her hair. "Is meditating like that helping?"
Grin sighed for a moment. "It is a way to focus, at least."
"I can think of a better one." Mallory smiled slightly. "Most of the team's still in the galley, feel up to a snack?"
Grin answered by shifting out of position, propping himself up on a knee and standing. "Maybe it'll work better than this, anyway."
The two of them stepped out into the hallway, and walked off as Grin's door closed behind him.
"So…" Mallory started. "I heard you got the pleasure of talking with Bettman this morning. How'd that go? Besides him locking us out for a while?"
"I believe that the league officials are calm and clear-minded." Grin answered. "Their ruling is sound…"
"But we really wanna play." Mallory finished the thought for him. "I know a few thousand people in Anaheim who are probably looking for a distraction, just like we are."
"We must be mindful of the nature of what's happened." Grin shook his head. "We should not be distracted. We should be respectful."
"Eh, as usual, you're right." Mallory sighed. "Gotta give you credit for that."
Grin shrugged slightly. "Times have turned very confusing, very quickly. All we can do is what is right at this moment."
"Yeesh Grin." Mallory joked. "You write some of that stuff down, I bet you could make a killing selling books."
"You sound like Phil." Grin quirked an eyebrow.
"Well, everything seems upside down today." she admitted with a shrug, and started off for the galley.
Wildwing was almost pleasantly surprised as he saw Mallory and Grin enter. The galley was a little crowded, now that the whole team had assembled here. With only one small TV set mounted in the ceiling corner, and set on mute, this place was far less forboding than the Ready Room now.
"Well." Nosedive started, the first time he'd spoken in quite a while. "The gang's all here."
"Indeed." Wildwing nodded. "Was a good time to regroup." He ran a hand through a drooping forelock of plumage, pushing it back up into place as he thought of something to say. "We've all been pretty busy, I've gotta give everyone thanks for doing their part today. What a long day it's been…"
"It's only 2:30 Wing…" Duke chimed in.
Wildwing smiled weakly at himself. "See what I mean? Barely half over. What a mess. But we've all pitched in, looks like this is all that we can do for now."
"So we're set here?" Mallory asked.
"Heh." Nosedive cracked a sarcastic half-smile. "Now we just have to wait for the rest of the world to catch up."
(Hope you all liked, even though I wrote this long after 9/11 I feel like somehow it's helped me grasp the situation better. I've always lived vicariously though my fanfics, and this story contains bits and pieces of how I lived through that day. Much like Nosedive, I saw live footage of the second tower being hit. Unfortunately, I did not make the choice to remove myself from the unfolding situation. I was stuck in classes for the next three hours. Yet, I suffered the same impact of the discovery of the growing tragedy upon my return, as poor Dive did. We all handle the aftershock in our own way. I hope that reading this story will help someone cope and reflect. Although I found it interesting to think about how the Ducks would react to such a situation, it's very sad that this situation had to be a real-life one. It puts a new perspective on 'saving the world', in any light. My condolences go to the suffering, my thoughts to understanding, my prayers to the future. Peace.)