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                  Lessons and Reflections

                        Chapter 3


            Duke quietly slipped outside. The meeting had just finished. He tried to walk

more silently. He didn't want to be noticed. He remembered seeing sparks of connection

in Wildwing's eyes when Princess unveiled herself. Duke felt unusually dazed. --She looks

so much like her. But she can't be... could she?-- --Maybe.-- Duke stopped dead in his

tracks. Every muscle was taut as he scanned the surrounding area for the voice he had

heard. Or thought he had heard. Merry laughter sounded around him. Princess stepped out

from behind a tree. "Not used to telepathic communication I see!" she teased. Duke gazed

at the she-duck in wonder. "You even laugh like her." he muttered. Princess smiled. She

stepped up to Duke and looked into his eyes. He quickly looked away, disturbed. "You have

her spirit. Yet your father's reserve. Sad. Our lineage was always proud of its gaiety. As

much as our skill." she giggled. "How is it..." Duke started but caught his tongue as

Princess' eyes confronted his. "How is it that I look like your mother?" she completed.

"Ummm... yeah." Duke agreed, this time unable to draw his eyes away. "And what do you

mean our lineage?" he continued. "Exactly that." Princess said. "You and I share the same

lineage, or rather you are my direct descendant." Duke pondered this for a moment. "I still

don't understand." he said quietly. He looked back at Princess, who had made herself

comfortable at the foot of her tree. She patted the ground next to her. "You're not above

sitting on the ground awhile are you?" she laughed. "I will explain all. But in my own

way." Duke slowly sat facing her. Princess took his hands and closed her eyes. Duke felt

himself falling slowly, as if there were no gravity around them. Soon images formed in his

mind and a story began to unfold. He saw Princess and another male duck. He was tall, with

black feathers. --Another mystic.-- he thought. --Yes, my wedding day.-- Princess' voice came

to him. --His name was Redwing. For the fire seen in his eyes at birth. I'm sure you're

familiar with the mystic tradition of not naming a child till it is born.-- --Yeah, vaguely.--

Duke replied. Duke watched silently as Redwing ran his fingers through Princess' hair. They

laughed when the flowers she wore fell out. An older she-duck ran forward laughing and stooped

to pick up the flowers and replace them in Princess' hair. --Your mother?-- Duke asked.

--Yes.-- came an unusually solemn reply. Duke watched keenly as an older male duck, Redwing's

father, bound Princess' and Redwing's wrists with a white ribbon. The duck uttered an ancient

rhyme, which was promptly repeated in unison by the bride and her groom. Redwing's father smiled

and patted Redwing on the shoulder. Duke saw fire light up in Redwing's eyes as he turned to

his bride. Redwing took the white ribbon from their wrists and placed a gold charm on it. He

then tied it about Princess' neck. Then with a flirtatious grin on his face he swept Princess up

in his arms and ran across the meadow, away from the wedding guests. The scene dissappeared

into another. Redwing came into a tent holding a fresh kill for dinner. He smiled keenly as

he presented his prize to Princess. Redwing turned around in time to see his mother-in-law step

into the tent with a duckchild in tow. Redwing's face lit up at the site of the child and held

his arms out to the child. The little girl released her grandmother's hand and ran to her

father's waiting arms. Princess ran forward and hugged her mother. The two she-ducks turned

smiling to Redwing who stood up straight holding his daughter. Suddenly the sky turned from it's

peaceful blue to a war red. Explosions sounded off in every direction. The four ducks ran out of

the tent to see Saurian drones ransacking their peaceful village. Battle ensued. All the mystic

ducks called on every resource they had. Soon the unwanted guests had been dispelled. Redwing

turned to see his wife hunched, sobbing over a body. He ran to Princess' side. He stepped back in

horror when he saw the face. The duckchild crawled out from under a bush. Redwing panicked and

ran scooping his daughter into his arms. He cradled her close not wanting her to see her dead

grandmother. Duke felt feelings of repulsion wash over him. --The child's name was Star--

Princess said. --Star? My mother's grandmother!-- Duke replied. --Yes.--

            Duke woke up. He looked over to see Princess' teary eyes. "That was not the end. Rather

the beggining. We met up with DuCaine. Gathered a rebellion to drive off the rest of the

Saurians. We met the council. Redwing was killed in battle. He jumped in the way of a drone's

laser blast saving Drake DuCaine's life. Drake dragged me away screaming for my dead husband's

body. That night the council appeared to us. They chose me for the next council. I accepted

the decree with pleasure. This way I would be able to watch over all of Puckworld in my

husband's honor. Kria soon joined us. The day came for ascension. I entered into the holy place

with Star by my side. The council looked at me. "She cannot go." spoke one female saurian.

"She's my daughter! She has to!" I protested. A male saurian came over, it was Gratz. "I'm

sorry but the child must die." I stepped between him and my child. "Over my dead soul!" I

yelled. I felt someone grab my child and run I turned to see Drake DuCaine holding Star. Gratz

turned to Drake. And held out his hands. Drake took off The Mask and threw it at his feet.

"Take me if you have to have a sacrifice. But the child must live! I chose her descendant for

a special purpose!" Gratz stopped and looked Drake over. "Then she is in your care." he said

gravely. Drake came and stood by my side. He allowed me to say goodbye to my daughter one last

time, since I would never be able to hold her again. Daman and Ausmus comforted me as I watched

Drake DuCaine take my daughter away. You, Duke, are the first one of my descendants I have been

able to physically sit close to in nearly one millenium." Duke sat silently. "My great

grandmother was raised by Drake DuCaine? But she'd have to be centuries old!" Duke said. Princess

smiled. "She is! She's a mystic remember?" "Oh." Duke sat contemplating what he had just learned.

He tuned out his thoughts to a suspicious sound. --Leaves? footsteps? We're being watched.--

Duke's eyes scanned the area looking for their spy. --Wildwing has been watching us.-- Princess

smiled. She turned and looked at a small thicket nearby. Wing's head slowly peered up over the

branches. With a sheepish grin, he said "You must hate me Duke. I'm not as good a spy as you."

Duke's worry finally faded into a comfortable smile. "Naw... I don't hate you. But I'm still a

better spy than you." Wildwing came and sat with them. "I knew there was some kind of connection.

But I wasn't sure what. Who would've thought you were related." He said. Duke nodded in

agreement. "So I was chosen to deliver a pendant?" Duke muttered. Princess giggled. "No, silly.

Wildwing delivered the pendant, remember?"  Duke brow furrowed with confusion. He looked at

Wildwing whose face mirrored the same confusion. Wing finally spoke up. "Ok, if I was chosen to

deliver the pendant, then why did DuCaine say that he had chosen one of your descendants for

something? What has Duke done?" Princess smiled then said "DuCaine had chosen each of my

descendants through Duke to further the course of the pendant." "But why us?" Duke prodded.

"Because Redwing saved his life. Drake watched carefully over me and my child after that day. He

would protect Star as if she was his own child. He took care of me like I was his sister. He

taught Star all her theivary tricks, the same tricks she taught you." Princess explained. Duke's

jaw dropped. "Yo.. You mean all these years I've been using Drake DuCaine's tricks?" he

stuttered. Princess simply nodded. Duke shifted uncomfortably, then looked over at Wildwing who

sat contemplating all of this. Princess smiled sadly. "I've told you much. Come. Let us rejoin

the others." she said quietly. Wildwing and Duke exchanged silent gazes and then stood to go back

into the compound.

            Rose wandered around the compound aimlessly. She had such a bad feeling. She wandered into

the kitchen. Pat and Kareem were there ravaging a couple of ham sandwiches. Kareem looked up to

see Rose standing just inside the door. His eyes wandered the now empty package that had

contained the ham. He attempted the smile apologetically as he offered the uneaten half of his

sandwich. Rose smiled appreciatively and shook her head no. Pat frowned as she turned and

wandered out of the room. --What's eatin' her?-- he turned to Kareem. Kareem just shrugged in

confusion. Jack stopped in the hallway as Rose slowly brushed past him and turned into the living

room. She stopped and gazed at Missy who sat forlornly on the couch. Rose slowly sat in the

chair across from her. Missy's sad eyes looked up and met with Rose's. --You're not going to make

it, are you?-- Rose thought. --No.-- was the simple reply. --You will be the one to choose won't

you?-- --Yes.-- Rose moved over next to the girl as she tried to suppress her sobs. Missy and

Rose embraced and cried. Their sobs shook the two girls painfully. Jack's forehead creased in

worry as he watched the scene. --We won't all make it?-- he thought. --That's why there's only

six in the council!-- He felt his heart drop as he realized that the entire psysquad would not

be together for the millenium. He felt a hand grasp his shoulder. It was Maloney. --Who will make

it?-- he asked. --I can't tell you just yet. Only Missy can see that. She's the one who will

decide who goes and who stays. Or rather, who lives.-- Jack's eyes met Maloney's in alarm.

--Lives?-- Maloney simply turned away. Jack felt as if a ten tons of weight had dropped on him.

He turned back to the scene in the living room. Rose was alone now. Missy had gone to her room.

Jack sat down gently next to Rose and held his arms out to her. She threw her arms around his

shoulders and sobbed vehemently. Jack sat holding her. He gently stroked her hair. After what

seemed like a long time, Rose's sobs calmed. Jack wrapped his arms around her tighter. "I love

you." he whispered to her. He felt Rose's arms tighten around his shoulders as she whispered

back, "And I love you." Jack hugged her close, not knowing when the end would come.

            Beads of sweat broke out on Canard's forehead as he attempted to telekinetically lift the

stack of books. It had been easier at first. Kria had first just used one encyclopedia. Then two,

three, and finally the whole volume of encyclopedias. They came two inches off the ground and

then came crashing back down. His shoulders slumped as he watched the books tumble over into a

huge messy pile. Kria patiently stacked them back up and said, "Again." Canard stretched his

shoulders and took a deep breath. They had been at this all night. The ducks left the compound

late that night and took Kria with them. He had started training at midnight. It was now 4 a.m.

His memory washed over the tearstained eyes of Rose and Missy as they had left at ten o'clock.

He knew something was bothering them. But Canard pushed his mind back into the present and

focused on the stack of books. Slowly they rose up in the air and moved from the floor to a

table nearby. Once the stack was placed there neatly, Canard slumped to the floor. "Not yet, my

friend. Now you must telekinetically clean up our mess." Kria said with a wry smile. Canard

gave her a harsh look as he stood up and focused once more on the books. This time he just

lifted the top two and flew them to their shelf. Two by two the books were soon put up. He turned

and headed off the his bunk to sleep. "Rest well Canard. You'll need it tommorrow." Kria said

with a grin. Canard's shoulders slumped once more as he hobbled away from the room.



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