Disclaimer: I don't own the ducks. If I did, they'd still be on Disney's One
Saturday Morning lineup instead of living on through reruns. I just borrowed
them. They were returned unharmed and remember nothing.
Rating: PG-13. Some violent descriptions, strong language and attempted suicide.
Notes: I'm a big NoseDive fan (which may not be too evident since I'm always
hurting him in my stories!) and a big Wildwing fan so I like to push the
brotherly love angle. I like the other ducks as well, and they play an important
supporting role, but the main focus is on the relationship between the two
siblings. One other thing: Duke's brother Rance was borrowed from a fanfic I
read. Rance was the creation of another awesome Ducks writer by name of Magic,
and which I used in brief passing, but still without her permission, so it must
be mentioned here.
Feedback: Please! I can't improve on my stories unless I know what you don't
like, or what I did wrong! I live for constructive criticism, but flames will be
squelched by my pet Squirtle whom I keep on hand for just such emergencies.
DESCENT INTO A MIND DARK
It was cold. And dark too. Cold winds swept the evening mist into the air,
swirling it around, giving it life before NoseDive's very eyes. Tres` creepy, he
decided with a shudder. He wrapped his arms around himself tighter, in an
attempt to keep the chill from embedding itself in his very bones. He stepped
forward and peered across the forbidding landscape. Devastated buildings in
various stages of decay and ruin littered the city NoseDive had once called
home. Puckworld had definitley seen better days. Another gust of wind picked up
the dead leaves before him, scattering them about, weaving them throughout the
empty buildings in an irreverent tribute to the dead. Nosedive listened to the
rustling sounds, and shivered. It was so cold, so lonely. Where is everybody? he
He timidly stepped forward and watched as the same leaves seemed to gather
before him. If he stared hard enough, the leaves seemed to resemble....
" Duke?" he reached out to the familiar duck composed of leaves. Suddenly the
figure exploded, showering Dive with bits of debris and dirt. Shaken, Dive
staggered back. Fear began to grip him, and he struggled to hang on to his
composure. Okay, that was not Duke, he told himself sternly. So where is he?
" Dive?" NoseDive whirled around to see a familiar sight. Bright red hair, dark
"Mallory!" he shouted in relief and ran towards her, pulling up short when she
raised her hands to block him. He was slightly hurt that she would want him to
keep away - he wasn't her favourite teammate granted, but any familiar face was
like a friendly port in a storm. " Mall, what's going on? How did we get to
Mallory gave him a cold look. " What - are you afraid?" she taunted him.
NoseDive stepped back.
Mallory walked closer. " Poor little NoseDive, " she sneered. " All alone -
again. no big brother to save your sorry hide this time."
Tears welled up in NoseDive's eyes but he refused to let them fall. " Mall,
what are you talking about?"
But Mallory didn't even listen. " You're no warrior!" she growled. " You
weren't even supposed to be a part of this team! You wouldn't be here if your
brother hadn't been such a softie!"
NoseDive was backing away, faster now. " Mal, please..."
She laughed - a truly cold sound that tore at NoseDive's heart. " You pathetic
little wimp! Poor Wildwing can't even go all out in battle because he's too busy
looking out for baby brother. If it weren't for you, we'd have captured
Dragaunus a long time ago. Why didn't you get eaten by that electromagnetic worm
instead of Canard? Then we'd have a real leader, instead of a punk kid who
likes to put worms in my boots!"
NoseDive's legs gave out and he sank to the ground. " No! I try to.."
" Try to what? Help? How? By reading your comic books instead of improving your
combat skills.? Yeah, big help." Mallory slowly pulled out her blaster.
NoseDive's eyes widened.
" Mal wait! I know I'm a screwup but you don't hate me that much do you?" his
" Do you?"
Mallory shrugged. " Yeah." And pulled the trigger.
NoseDive woke up screaming. He ran his hands over his chest frantically
checking for tachyon burns from the blast. Nothing. Slowly, reality closed in on
him and he realized that it had all been a dream. He pushed a lock of
sweat-soaked hair out of his face and sat up slowly. Lights appeared in the
crack under his door and he looked up as Wildwing opened the door.
" NoseDive?" his voice betrayed his worry. NoseDive gave him a weak smile.
" Hey bro."
Wildwing walked over to his bed and sat on the edge. He took in NoseDive's
haggard appearance, the sweat on his brow, and tension etched on his face.
" Are you all right?" NoseDive shrugged.
" Yeah. Just had a nightmare."
" I kinda figured that. I heard you scream out. For a minute I thought we were
under attack!" He tried to joke his sibling into a lighter mood, but Dive only
managed a faint grin before turning his head. "Do you want to tell me about it?"
NoseDive shrugged. " Wasn't that big a deal - just caught me by surprise.
Besides, we have an early morning practise. I'm sorry I woke you up."
Wildwing snorted. " As if I'd mind!" He studied his brother for a minute. "
Dive, if you ever want to talk, you can always come to me you know." NoseDive
glanced at him.
" I know." Wildwing rubbed his shoulder comfortingly as he stood up.
" Goodnight Wildwing."
Wildwing paused at the door and gestured to the alarm clock next to Dive's bed.
" Technically, it's good morning." he grinned, and shut the door. NoseDive
sighed and sank down in his bed, huddling beneath the covers. He knew Mallory
would never say such hateful things to him. Why didn't I tell Wildwing what
happened? Because NoseDive didn't want to burden his big brother with such
trivial problems as a nightmare. He had enough to worry about. I probably had
one too many triple spicey tacos, he decided with a yawn, and closed his eyes.
" Not bad for a first attempt after all those years without practise!" said a
decidedly evil voice. Dragaunus snorted.
" It wasn't as terrifying as I had expected from someone of your considerable
talents, Morpheus." he stated.
" I wouldn't expect you to understand!" the voice blustered.
" Show me respect, comrade!" Dragaunus snarled. " Or Wraith will send you back
to that void where all your fellow gods reside, out of touch with this modern
earth as you've been for hundreds of years!"
Morpheus, God of Dreams, wore his anger like a terrifying mask. " I'd advise
you to return that respect. Dependant or not, I am still a God."
" One that needs me to remain here!"
" For now, " the god allowed. " But my power grows stronger the longer I am
here. And when it has returned full strength I will be free to do as I please.
You would do well to remember that."
Dragaunus suddenly smiled. " Ah, my friend. We do not need to waste needless
energy fighting each other. I have helped you, brought you forth to a world that
banished you when their faith disappeared. All I ask is that you help me."
" Why attack the youngest of that group? Why not ask me to frighten them to
death in their sleep? Not that I would."
" Exactly for that reason - you're not allowed to directly interefere with
mortals, especially killing them. And second of all, I want the pleasure of
killing them - but this is a pleasant way to torture them!" Draguanus laughed at
the images his words conjured up. Morpheus looked vaguely displeased, but he
said nothing else.
" Morning everyone!" Mallory said cheerily as he walked into the kitchen.
Various words of welcome were thrown her way. She grabbed a bowl and a box of
cereal from the counter and sat down next to NoseDice who immediatley choked on
his toast. Grin reached over and thumped him on the back.
" Okay, I always thought you liked Bernie-flakes?" Mallory teased him. She
moved the box of cartoon cereal away from him. " There you go. Out of harms
NoseDive scarcely heard the good-natured laughs coming from his teammates as he
fought to control himself. When Mallory had plopped herself down, Dive's
memories of Dream-Mallory came flooding to the surface. But it wasn't the real
Mallory! he argued with himself. He managed to give Mal a small grin. Wildwing
observed all this with a practised eye. Dive had been quiet all morning. In
truth, Wildwing was more then a little concerned about him. That scream that had
torn him from sleep had scared the hell out of him. It had been full of terror,
and Wildwing wondered what his baby brother could have been dreaming about that
would have scared him so badly. More to the point, what would be so scary that
he wouldn't even tell me about it? Then he mentally slapped himself. Dive will
talk when he's ready. Aloud, he said, " Come on guys. Practise time."
" That's it!" Tonya screamed in frustration. " I've had it!"
" Easy Tonya," Duke said soothingly. " How was that guard supposed to know that
pressing the button would destroy your modifications on new puck launchers?"
" Could it be the fact it was marked Self-Destruct?" Tonya shrieked. "I give
up! All companies that are guarded by idiots, Dragaunus is hereby welcome to!"
Coming back from a mild attack on Prescott Labs by some eager crooks with lofty
goals, Tonya was considerably upset. During the course of the battle, she had
given her brand new puck launcher to the guard to defend himself with after much
hesitation. The new launcher had been her pride and joy and she didn't want to
hand it over so easily. But because she still had her blaster and omnitool, she
knew she couldn't leave the security guard defenseless. But after seeing the
outcome of that particular act of compassion, Tonya reflected, he would have
been better off with his bare hands. How could he hit a button marked
Tonya continued her whimpering while up front, Wildwing momentarily took his
eyes from the road to glance behind and chuckle at her. He was rewarded with a
look that could have froze him where he sat. Still chuckling, his eyes returned
to the road. Another ten minutes, we'll be at the Pond, he thought. Yawning
slightly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw NoseDive curled into a ball on
his seat, bracing his head against the armrest. Wildwings eyes softened as he
took in the picture of Dive completely at ease. I sometimes forget that for all
the battles he's been through and all the combat experience he's gained, he's
still just a kid. Was it only a month or two ago that he turned seventeen?
Wildwing shook his head. I'm sorry Dive. You're not having much of a childhood
are you? Wildwing's thoughts turned to the previous night. It was no wonder
NoseDive had fallen asleep. Having his night cut short by terryifying dreams,
and then followed by an early practise and petty thugs....rough day baby bro.
But what was so frightening about that dream that you can't tell me?
NoseDive woke up as the Migrator slid to a halt. Seeing the familiar rise of
the sloped dome of the Pond, he stretched, purring like a cat, and then
unbuckled his seatbelt. He followed his teammates sleepily as they made their
" How's about we order a gigantic-size pizza, to end this less-then-stellar day
on a high note?" he asked, yawning. When there was no immediate answer, he
stopped and looked at them. " Guys?"
Suddenly, a large hand clamped down on his shoulder, scaring the wits out of
" Gaahhhhhh!!!!!" he screamed, whirling around in surprise and shock. Grin
stood there, placid as always. " Are you trying to give me a heart attack??"
Grin didn't answer; shadows fell across his face. Staring at him, NoseDive took
a step back in trepidation. Something wasn't quite meshing here.
" Grin? Pal, what's up?"
Grin shrugged and glanced up at the sky. " Something is in the air. I can feel
NoseDive felt himself relax. " Oh. Man, I'm sorry. For a minute, I thought-"
Grin's fist slammed into NoseDive's gut, doubling him over, leaving him gasping
for breath after having it knocked clean out of him. Another ham-sized fist
plowed into his jaw, sending him flying back. He fought to remain conscious as
he stared up at the giant duck. What was going on?
" Grin?" he asked weakly, coughing roughly. Grin stepped forward and finally,
NoseDive could see his eyes. His blood turned to ice. That can't be Grin, he
thought desperately. Nobody's eyes were that cold, that angry. Grin's eyes were
tinged red with suppressed rage. I thought Grin kicked all those negative
thoughts out of his head!? He let out a whimper of fear as Grin stepped closer,
curling himself into a ball in a weak attempt to protect himself.
" You are a fool." Grin's tone was flat, cold, hard. NoseDive shuddered at the
sound of it. " You joke, play pathetic games and treat our battles as a form of
entertainment. If there is truly a weak link, it is undoubtedly you!"
The words struck NoseDive with the force of a blow. He winced at the sting of
truth in them. It's true, he thought miserably, keeping a wary eye on Grin. But
I have to! If I ever took it completley seriously I'd freeze up. Joking about it
takes some of the fear away. He tried to rationalize it, but he couldn't
convince himself. A shadow fell over him; he looked up at Grin's imposing
stance. Get away! his mind told him frantically. He backpeddaled, but came up
against cold brick. Too late. Sledgehammer fists swung at his face.
" Dive! Dive!"
NoseDive struck out frantically, his mind bent on escaping those huge fists.
Hands were groping him, trying to hold him down so those fists could get him.
No! He squirmed wildly, until his fist connected with something.
" Ow! Damn it NoseDive, wake up!"
The voice was snarling at him, NoseDive's eyes were clenched shut, refusing to
open them, refusing to see the intense hatred radiating from them.
" Leave me alone!" he screamed, tears escaping down his cheeks, terror stamped
on his face.
" Get back!" A commanding voice took control, and the hands that had been
clawing at him, grabbing at him, disappeared. NoseDive huddled into a ball,
shivering uncontrollably. Suddenly, gentle arms wrapped around him in a
comforting gesture. In vain, NoseDive struggled to get free, but the arms
refused to let go. Slowly, NoseDive calmed down, seeking solace. A part of his
mind told him, he's on your side. Who? NoseDive's mind triggered a memory. He
had been afraid before. On Puckworld. After the invasion. Drones had been
attacking a neighbouring city to the camp he'd been in. The sounds of distant
battle had kept him up in a panic. His brother had comforted him then. These
arms. They reminded him. Reminded him of...
" Wildwing!" It came out as a choked sob as NoseDive threw his arms around his
older brother, squeezing with all his might. Sobs wracked his body as he clung
to Wildwing like an abandoned child would to a cherished toy.
Wildwing tightened his hold on Dive as he gazed at his startled teammates.
" Shhh Dive, it's okay. I'm here, nothing's gonna hurt you baby brother."
Tonya, Grin, Duke and Mallory watched with concern. One minute they had been on
their way back to Anaheim, the next, NoseDive had interrupted the silence with
moans of terror. He had been writhing in his seat, as if trying to escape
something, and they had heard the cry of pain that came from him. Duke, in an
effort to calm him, had reached out to grasp Dive's hand. At his touch, NoseDive
had let out a bloodcurdling scream. At the sound, Wildwing had gone rigid and
pulled the Migrator over to the side of the road. By the time he had unbuckled
his seatbelt and gone over, Dive had been pleading with Duke to leave him alone,
all while still asleep. After backing everyone off, Wildwing simply engulfed his
brother in a bear hug, refusing to let go.
" NoseDive?" he asked gently. He felt a shudder go through his siblings body.
" Yeah?" came the soft reply.
He stroked the long, blond hair in a soothing motion. " You wanna tell me about
" Dive, if you tell us what's wrong, maybe we can help," Tonya said in a
coaxing tone. Still no response. Wildwing's concern grew but he held his tongue,
continuing to offer Dive support for as long as he felt he needed it. Grin and
Duke looked at each other.
" Little friend..." began Grin, but NoseDive suddenly froze, muscles taut with
tension. Confused, Grin sat back in his seat, exchanging another glance at his
NoseDive revelled in the comfort of his brother, but dark thoughts made their
way back to the surface of his mind. What's happening to me? he moaned silently.
He felt his brother stroking his hair in an effort to calm him. Finally, he
raised his head. Wildwing pulled back a little and searched his eyes for a clue
to what was wrong.
NoseDive took a deep breath and let it out shakily. " Just another nightmare
" No kidding," he said gently. " What was it about?"
" Uh.." he quavered a moment. What if they agreed with his dream? What if they
laughed at him?Don't be an idiot! his mind tried to be firm. They're your
friends! This was only a dream! " But it seemed so real," he murmered almost
inaudibly. Wildwing strained to hear him.
" What seemed real?"
" Remember, dreams can't hurt you, bud." Duke said, trying to be helpful.
" Yeah, NoseDive. Talking about them can make you feel better."
I highly doubt that, NoseDive thought tremulously. He gave a timid glance at
Grin, trying to keep from recoiling in fear. As if Grin could read his mind, he
sat back and placed his hands in his lap in a peaceful gesture. " I don't know
where to start..."
Wildwing rubbed his shoulder companionably, propping NoseDive against him.
" Why not the beginning?"
NoseDive gave another weary glance around, but saw no mocking faces; only
concern and a desire to help. His confidence somewhat restored, he took a deep
" Well...last night I dreamed I was back on Puckworld." Seeing the look on
Wildwing's face, he hastened to add, " No, it wasn't like that. The invasion had
already occured. This was like, I dunno, a future vision. Anyway, I was all
alone. It was really cold too - I could've sworn it was real. I kept looking for
you guys and found Mallory." His voice dropped and he gave Mallory a scared
look. Mallory was confused. NoseDive struggled to continue. " She...said some
harsh truths about me."
" Like what?" asked Duke softly.
" She...she said I was n-never supposed...t-to be a part of this team. That no
one wanted me, but..but they wanted Wing. I was the tag-along..." his voice
trailed off miserably. Mallory's face had gone pale. Wildwing tightened his grip
on NoseDive's shoulder.
" Dive..." she choked out.
" She said that I wasn't useful," he continued, interrupting her. He felt
drifting, re-living the pain of those awful truths. Only semi-aware that he
still had an audience, he went on. " Mallory said I should have been the one to
sacrifice myself to that elctro-worm thing that ate Canard. Then you'd have two
leaders, and Dragaunus would've been caught by now."
Duke was staring at him in disbelief. How could Dive believe such a thing? He
leaned forward, his voice urgent. " It was just a dream, NoseDive. It wasn't
NoseDive looked over.
" I know," he said softly, unconvincingly. Mallory turned away, shamefacedly.
Tonya patted her arm.
" Mallory, it wasn't your fault." she whispered. Mallory gave her a ghost of a
" I know that, but I still feel guilty." She turned around and knelt before
Dive, looking up at in earnest. " NoseDive, if I have ever made you feel that
way, I am so sorry. I would never say anything like that to you! You are a vital
part of this team! "
" Yeah," Duke chimed in. " One of the reason's we're so successful is the way
we work together - hell, you're our top scorer! How could you ever believe we'd
turn on you like that?"
" What was the second dream about?" Tonya broke in, casting a side look at
Grin. NoseDive followed her eyes and blanched. Grin gave a faint nod. Wildwing
caught the hidden meaning.
" Was it about Grin?"
NoseDive nodded, head down. He twisted his hands in his lap nervously. " I...I
really thought it was real," he whispered. " I got out of the Migrator and Grin
was there. Before I knew what was happening, he decked me. Twice. I crashed
against the wall of the Pond and could only feel how much it hurt."
" That's why you were crying out in pain..." murmered Wildwing. NoseDive nodded
" He said I was a-a fool...a clown." NoseDive closed his eyes. " He said I
never took anything seriously, and that I would be the downfall of the team."
" Stars, Dive..." breathed Duke. Grin looked sorrowful.
" My friend," he said gently. " Your ability to see the light in any tunnel, is
a remarkable gift. You ease the tension with but a word. I would never chide a
teammate for dealing with their fears in their own way."
NoseDive listened to the words, finding them to be a soothing balm to his
troubled soul. He sighed heavily and leaned his head against Wildwing's
shoulder. No words passed, but Mallory stood up and slid into the driver's seat,
starting the motor and resuming their journey home. It was an uncomfortable
position, kneeling next to Dive's seat and acting as a pillow, but Wildwing
closed his mind to any discomfort and instead, asked his brother: " Why didn't
you tell me last night?"
NoseDive contemplated that for a moment, judging the best way to say it. " I
dunno," he said at last. " I just...I guess I didn't want to tell you what they
said about me, and then hear you agree."
" WHAT?" Wildwing reared up at that one.
" Come on, Wildwing! I admit I'm a jerk sometimes, that I'd rather fool around
with Thrash and Mookie at Captain Comics then practise! I mean, maybe it
would've been better if Canard had made it here then me. I mean, I'm not a
professional thief with years of training in stealth, or a mountain of strength.
I don't know the first thing about survival training!" His voice rose an
octave." I can't build supercomputers or lead a strike assault team! What good
am I?" NoseDive fell silent, not believing he'd just blurted out his greatest
fear. The other Ducks froze in their seats.
With great effort, Wildwing cleared his throat. " What good are you?" He stood
and faced NoseDive. Pointing a shaking finger at him he continued. " You are the
one that comes up with a last minute hat trick in the last seconds of a game.
You are the one that is the first to throw himself into battle for the good of
the team!" Wildwing crouched down again. " You are the one that cheers us up
when we've suffered a defeat. The one that gives us a sense of normalcy by
driving us up the wall with your pranks." His tone suddenly softened as he held
his brother's gaze. " But most importantly, you are my best friend. You support
me unconditionally, look out for me, cheer me on when I think I can't do this
leader thing correctly! You are my brother, NoseDive, and don't you ever forget
With a cry, NoseDive again flung himself at Wildwing, needing the reassurance.
Wildwing hugged him back just as hard. After a few minutes, Tonya, eyes
suspiciously wet, asked, " Feel any better?"
NoseDive gave her a watery grin. " Yeah."
Mallory tried to look tough, but the sparkle in her eyes gave her away. "
Enough of this mush. Let's go home!"
" That does not look like the face of a duck who feels burdened by failure!"
roared Dragaunus watching NoseDive step off the Migrator with a relieved look on
his face. Morpheus remained unfazed.
" I'm wearing him down," he informed the irate lizard leader. " Each time I
bring him down, it will get harder for them to bring his spirits back up. It
will continue in a vicious circle that NoseDive will come to dread. The
nightmares will get worse, deprive him of sleep, of his security. It is a
Dragaunus looked at him suspiciously. " You, Morpheus, sound as though you have
used this particular ploy before."
" That's because I have," Morpheus said abruptly, sipping at a glass of wine
that appeared in his hand. " I used it against some Romans that I was not
pleased with, years ago. It drove them quite mad."
" What became of them?" Dragaunus asked, curious dispite himself.
" They committed suicide."
NoseDive staggered into the kitchen the next morning, dark, raccoonish circles
permanently stamped under his eyes. Wildwing followed him, similar signs of
tiredness etched across his face. Duke gave them a wary smile as he stood up to
fetch them cups of Tonya's famous coffee. Mallory looked up.
" Hey NoseDive."
Dive gave a grunt in her general direction as he headed for the fridge. Mallory
glanced at Wildwing. Rough night? she mouthed.
Wildwing shook his head. You have no idea. Wildwing had slept light, still
uneasy about NoseDive's nightmares. He'd woken up around 2am feeling something
was wrong. Getting to his feet, he'd walked into the hallway and paused outside
of Dive's room. Hearing the light whimpers coming from within, he'd opened the
door to see NoseDive huddled on his bed against the wall, blankets clutched
tightly to him, tears streaming down his face. Wildwing had simply sat down
next to him until Nosedive unfurled himself and crept to his brother's side. No
words had been spoken, NoseDive only wanting the silent support of his older
sibling who had wrapped an arm around him and pulled him close. Murmering that
he was safe, that no one would hurt him, Wildwing had passed the night in
contemplation. How could he help NoseDive? How can I fight something that's not
Wildwing shook himself out of his reverie and helped himself to more coffee.
Duke returned to his seat with a fresh pot.
" How's the kid?" he asked, concerned for them both.
" He'd be better if he'd gotten any sleep," was the cryptic reply. Tonya sat
across from the two of them.
" That bad huh?" Duke said sympathetically.
" Uh Wildwing?" Tonya asked, joining the conversation. Wildwing raised his
head. " I want to study NoseDive the next time he sleeps. I can't help but feel
there's something wrong."
" What do you mean?" Wildwing asked tiredly.
" Well, don't you think it's a bit odd that out of the blue he starts having
these terrifying nightmares? Nothing traumatic has happened as of late, and you
said so yourself that you and Dive worked out your problems in dealing with life
in the Puckworld camps." Tonya sipped her coffee, her eyes lit up with
possibilities and outcomes. " It's possible that an outside source may be
causing these dreams!"
" You mean like Dragaunus?" Mallory asked.
" Whoa, ladies," Duke interrupted. " How could Dragaunus affect NoseDive's
dreams? You're saying ol' lizard-lips is telepathic now?"
" Not necessarily." Tonya set her cup down. " Dragaunus has mostly relied on
their Saurian technology as a means of attacking us, true. But don't forget,
Saurians have powerful, magical backgrounds. Dragaunus may not approve of it,
but Wraith is still very much into that way of life. Maybe Wraith is using magic
to influence Dive's dreams!"
The discussion cut short as NoseDive came to the table with a glass of juice.
Everyone noticed with concern, that he sat down as close to Wildwing as
possible, as if subconsciously seeking protection from his brother against them.
Duke's knuckles whitened with fury as he clenched his cup tightly.
" If scale-face does have a hand in this, he's gonna pay for it!" he vowed
dangerously. NoseDive looked up at Tonya, something akin to hope showing
cautiously on his face.
" You mean, we might be able to stop all this?" he asked slowly, referring to
" It's possible," Tonya allowed, not wanting to get NoseDive's hopes up too
" At any rate, there's no harm in trying, is there?"
Wraith grumbled to himself. It was a bad idea, bringing that god to earth. Big
mistake. He never should have done it. Beside's wearing him out completely
(channeling spirits and conjuring them forth was hard work), they now had a god
who was only temporarily reliant on them as a means of survival. When his
strength returned fully, he'd be able to do whatever he wanted. And I really
don't want an angry god ruining my life, he thought with a tinge of fear.
Blackmail was a necessary thing at times. But to blackmail a force of nature
itself was suicide. But what Dragaunus wants, Dragaunus gets. Wraith thought
back to the day when he had told Dragaunus how the gods had been banished years
ago to limbo. Excited at the prospect of having a god at his beck and call,
Dragaunus had ordered Wraith to bring them forth.Using a dark crystal from his
own collection as an anchor for the god, he had done his master's bidding. But
Dragaunus didn't know I could only bring one at a time. And Dragaunus had not
been pleased with the choice.
" God of Dreams??!!" Wraith flinched slightly at the memory of Dragaunus's
angry shout. It wasn't until Morpheus had explained the depths of his power that
Dragaunus had been happy and eager to test him.
" Wait until the tables turn, my lord," he muttered. Wraith wasn't looking
forward to that day at all. If only he dared to return Morpheus to the void from
which he'd been summoned. But that required time, and preparation. And it was as
if Dragaunus knew what he was thinking, keeping Wraith busy and on call
constantly. The Mighty Ducks could buy him the time he needed, he mused. But
then his eyes narrowed. But that would mean working with them. Not only is that
a disgusting prospect, but it would also mean facing Dragaunus's rage
afterwards. Wraith scowled. So which is the lesser of two evils?
NoseDive lay back on the cot in Tonya's laboratory. I don't wanna do this! he
thought frantically. The thought of going through another nightmare scared him
" NoseDive, you have to calm down!" Tonya scolded him gently, as she placed a
metal helmet on his head, and attached several electrodes to it.
" Calm down? How? How do you expect me to-" NoseDive was cut off as Wildwing
sat down next to him and gave him a comforting look.
" Dive," he began. " I know you don't want to go to sleep but-"
" I'm scared Wildwing!" NoseDive burst out. " If I sleep, I'll dream again. It
hurts! I feel each blow like it's real, hear each accusation like they mean it!
And what if you can't wake me up? I can feel myself being sucked in !"
Wildwing could only hug his brother and as he did, he wished that he could take
the pain into himself. NoseDive's never hurt anybody in his life! Why is this
happening to him? Wildwing wouldn't say it, for fear of scaring his little
brother even more, but he was scared too. Dive was fragile, psychologically. He
had a major self-esteem problem. For all of his cocky antics and attitude he
presented to the world, Wildwing knew that was only a facade, a coverup for the
true fear NoseDive harboured deep within. The fear of being rejected, of being
shunned by the very people he had come to trust with his life, and whose
opinions and judgements he valued above all else. Wildwing watched silently as
Tonya finished her preparations. Then he looked down at his younger sibling.
NoseDive was trembling slightly, most likely fearing that the next nightmare
would be even worse then the last. His eyes met Tonyas and she nodded. NoseDive
was too keyed up to sleep.
NoseDive was trying to decide how he was going to keep himself awake without
his attempts to do so being completely obvious to Tonya and Wildwing. So
absorbed in his thoughts was he, that he never reacted until the needle had
totally plunged into his arm. He squawked in outrage, his eyes filled with
betrayal as Tonya withdrew the syringe and his eyes slowly shut.
Tonya breathed a sigh of relief that the hard part was done. She quickly turned
on all the machines and a large screen to the side of her blipped into life.
" This is NoseDive's normal brain patterns while sleeping," she explained. "
When a person sleeps, they almost all look like this to start."
" Well, when a sleeper hits REM sleep, that's the deep sleep where you actually
get all of your rest." she told Wildwing. " And it's also the stage where you
start to dream."
" Won't that sedative interfere? Like, I don't know, send him straight into a
" Nope. I took precautions against that - he's so tired naturally, that I
needed only to give him a small dose of a very mild sedative. Were he at full
strength, he wouldn't even feel it."
Tonya continued with her preparations. Wildwing glanced at his brother, and his
" Is Dive in REM stage?" he asked, watching the screen.
" No, not yet," Tonya replied flicking a switch that would record NoseDive's
brain patterns. " It takes approximately four minutes for the average sleeper to
enter REM stage."
" Then why is he dreaming?"
" What?" Tonya whirled around and saw NoseDive murmer softly, his face looking
worried. " He can't be dreaming yet." She turned to a separate moniter that kept
track of NoseDive's regular brain patterns. " Wildwing, I'm registering
" What does that mean?" Wildwing asked nervously.
" Alpahwaves are generally used to measure paranormal and psychic brain
activity!" she said, eyes flying furiously across the chart.
" Dive's not psychic!" Wildwing protested. Then he paused. " Is he?"
" No!" she exclaimed. She poked her finger at the screen. The original line
that had been measuring NoseDive's brain patterns was continuing on as normal.
But a separate line had split from the first and was spiking rapidly. " Do you
Wildwing examined the monitor closely. " Why is Dive's brain split in half?"
" That's not Dive!" Tonya said excitedly. " That's a totally separate brain
Wildwing suddenly clued in. " You mean, someone had just entered NoseDive's
" Exactly!" she said.
" So, how do we get them out?" Wildwing asked, his tone of voice bordering on
hope. But Tonya suddenly frowned as she glanced past the screens to the bed.
" I'm not sure. But right now, we have bigger problems."
NoseDive blinked as he found himself back in the Puckworld camps. He whirled
around, his senses being assaulted as hundreds of sights, sounds and even smells
permeated his brain. Nononononono. Drones marched defiant but hapless prisoners
to their deaths, Saurian lizards ordered others to keep working. NoseDive backed
away in horrer as an old duck fell to his knees in front of him, one hand
pressed to his chest, vainly trying to keep his blood from spilling forth. The
drone who had fired the blast, walked up to the dying duck and kicked him
viciously in the head. The old duck fell over, his life's blood emptying itself
from his already dead body. Nausea welled up in the back of his throat at the
sight and he let out a low-pitched moan of terror. No, stars please no.......
NoseDive turned around and tried to escape. He ran across the camp, fleeing
blindly, trying to block out the sounds of the dying around him. He pulled up
short at the sight of a young mother holding her child to her breast, trying to
coax the baby to eat. NoseDive watched transfixed at the sight of such a
maternal moment in the midst of all the horror. Then his eyes focused on the
child. The dead child. His gaze flew to the mother. She was staring blindly
ahead, in shock and not knowing, not caring, that her baby was already dead.
NoseDive turned away and vomited. Tears mixed with the sweat and rolled down his
face. It was bitterly cold and he shivered from both the chill and the scenes
around him. Slowly straightening, he suddenly saw a familiar face. He recognized
the two ducks ahead of him as classmates from before the invasion. About to
sprint over, instinct made him hold back. The one wasn't standing as he'd
thought - he was being held up ropes looped around his wrists and fastened to
the wall. The other young duck was sitting on the ground next to him. Both were
tied. Both were dead. NoseDive squeezed his eyes shut. Suddenly, a hand gripped
his shoulder and pulled him into an alley.
" Wildwing!" NoseDive grabbed his older brother in a bonecrushing hug. " Thank
the stars you're all right!" He sniffled. Wildwing gave him a small smile.
" Yeah, good to see you to." NoseDive started at the unusually lukewarm
welcome. But he dismissed it. Wildwing was here, that was all that mattered. His
brother would take care of him - Wildwing always did. NoseDive felt safer. Then
a second duck ran into the alley.
" Canard?" He stared at the massive mallard. Canard barely glanced at him.
" Wildwing!" Canard and Wildwing shook hands warmly. Wildwing had a big grin on
" Where have you been?" he asked. NoseDive watched, hurt at the reception
Canard had recieved.
" With what's left of the military. We've formed a resistance, and we're gonna
take out Dragaunus!" Canard flashed him an evil smile. Wildwing returned it.
" With this..." he pulled out the Mask of Ducaine. Wildwing's eyes lit up. "
...and some citizens we've had our eyes on. Like you."
NoseDive watched all of this, feeling a sense of deja vu come over him. Canard
was going lizard hunting? And wanted Wildwing to help? Sounds like fun!
" Let's go!" he said. Canard looked at him with contempt.
" Beat it kid, before you get hurt."
NoseDive looked at him with a hurt expression. But then he shrugged. Wildwing
wouldn't go without him. He looked at his brother with an expectant gaze. But
Wildwing raised his hands.
" Hey, you heard the man, bro."
What?? NoseDive staggered back. He couldn't be serious.
" Wildwing?" he asked pitifully. " You...you can't leave me here alone!" He
panicked, feeling betrayal wash over him. He struggled to breathe as he saw
Wildwing give a casual shrug of his shoulders.
" You have to toughen up sometime little brother. I can't protect you all the
" Waitaminute!" interjected Canard. " We can't just leave him here like this."
NoseDive stared at Canard with shock and relief in his eyes. But also doubt. He
was about to ask what changed his mind when he saw Canard pull out a small
blaster and toss it to Wildwing, who hefted it, judging the weight of it.
NoseDive let out a croak of fear as he saw Wildwing raise it to his chest at
point blank range.
" Belive me Dive, this is a mercy." Wildwing said, almost apologetically. "
This is more merciful then what those drones will do to you." He flicked the
NoseDive backed away. His mind refused to believe this was happening. He looked
into Wildwing's eyes, searching for a sign that this was a test, a joke,
anything but what it seemed. But Wildwing's eyes remained impassive.
" Bye, bro."
He pulled the trigger. NoseDive slammed backwards, both the force of the blast
and the reaction to Wildwing's coldheartedness sending him spiraling downwards,
rapidly, into darkness. Even as his sight left him, he could vaguely hear the
screams around him. His screams. Wildwing....
Disclaimer: I gave them back! You hear me? I don't have them anymore! Besides,
it's YOUR fault if you can't keep track of your characters...*Stormy's tirade to
Disney's officials is interrupted as it is pointed out that the microphone is on
and running* Ooops. *Stormy grins sheepishly* Hi fanfic readers - just pointing
out to the MARVELOUS people at Disney that of course, I am not making ANY money
at all from this bit of fiction. *Glares at the man holding the microphone and
cracks her knuckles* DIE MASKED MAN!!!! *Stormy flings herself at the man who
drops the microphone and runs for his life*
" You had better be right," Seige muttered darkly as he led the way to the
transporter room. Wraith glowered at him.
" Seige, I no more want to work with those wretched fowl then you do. But would
you rather have a vengeful god destroying what remains of your sanity?" Wraith
asked him with a smirk. " Dragaunus may threaten and blow hot air, but he won't
kill us. He needs us - we're the only Saurians here."
" But Morpheus won't need anybody," Seige finished. " Yeah, yeah, I got it."
Chameleon skittered ahead and looked in. No one, not even a sentry drone. " The
boss and Morpheus must be in the main viewing room."
" They are. When I left, they were planning another trip into the younger
duck's dreams again." Wraith cast his gaze about nervously, and then fixed it
upon the transporter. " Let us go now."
Seige rumbled up to the controls and entered the coordinates for the Pond. " I
can't get you into the Pond itself - those ducks have transporter shields up."
Chameleon snickered. " I bet I can get us in!" he boasted. " I did before
disgusing myself as that old man."
Remembering Chameleons success at impersonating Michi, the janitor, Wraith
nodded. " Let's go."
" NOOOO!! PLEASE!" NoseDive screamed in terror. He was thrashing around wildly,
bucking on the bed in an effort to get away. Wildwing tried to grasp his
brother's arm, muttering a curse as he just missed being kicked in the head.
" NoseDive! Wake up! It's me, Wildwing!" he shouted, trying to reach Dive. If
anything, his words made him shake his head with a low moan of fear. He resumed
his frantic attempts to escape. Tonya's machines were going wild, recording
everything. Tonya tried to aid Wildwing but part of her mind remained focused on
the machines. Not only was his brain being affected, but a surge of adrenaline
surged through NoseDive as he battled the shadows within his mind. His heart
rate sped up and his breathing became a harsh sound.
" Wildwing, he's hyperventilating!" she cried. She grabbed a paper bag. " Hold
" I don't care! Sit on him if you have to!"
Wildwing flipped up and on the bed, straddling his brother and effectively
pinning his legs down. He grabbed Dive's arms and leaned forward, pressing his
weight onto them. Trapped, NoseDive lay there with tears streaking his feathers
as Tonya placed the bag over his beak.
" Deep breaths Dive!" she ordered the now semi-conscious duck. NoseDive's eyes
were still terror-filled, but sanity could be seen, creeping into them. Tonya
breathed a sigh of relief as NoseDive began breathing into the bag. Wildwing
eased off the pressure and climbed off him, but kept a loose grip on Dive's
arms. After a few minutes, Tonya removed the bag and turned on the medlab
equipment to scan him for after-affects. Wildwing leaned down to face his
brother, feeling the tremors coursing through him.
" NoseDive, can you hear me?"
A small nod. Wildwing saw the fear in his face. He saw that NoseDive wouldn't
look at him for longer then a few seconds at a time.
" It's okay baby brother. I'm here, everything's okay," he soothed. " I won't
let anything happen to you."
NoseDive closed his eyes, feeling the tears well up. When he opened them again,
he saw Wildwing also crying. Wildwing never cries! The thought raced through his
fogged mind. It was another dream! He sobbed openly now in relief, that
Wildwing hadn't really turned on him. Wildwing blinked back his tears and leaned
in, resting his forhead against Dive's arm. After a few minutes Wildwing
composed himself and looked at his brother.
" You okay NoseDive?"
NoseDive glanced quickly at him and then looked anxously at Tonya. " I'm fine,
can I go now?"
Tonya snorted, but her eyes remained gentle. " Not yet. You were
hyperventilating - I'm scanning you now to make sure you're really okay."
" I said I was."
" Tonya," interjected Wildwing. " Why did Dive have a harder time waking up
" I'm not sure." Tonya mused, checking over her readings. Then her eyes lit up.
" Wait a minute! This looks interesting!"
" Right here!" she jabbed her finger at the paper. " Right here is where Dive
started shaking. The readings get stronger."
" So, right after that was when we first attempted to wake him up." She pointed
to another spot on the paper. " See the second brain wave pattern? It gets
stronger - there! It's like whoever is attacking him, is holding Dive prisoner.
Dive's patterns seem to pause briefly, like he's being held. After that brief
pause in the chart, his brain waves are the exact same as the invaders!"
Wildwing looked upset at that. " So, basically what you're telling me is, when
Dive sleeps, he's at the mercy of whoever is sending him these dreams!"
Tonya took off her glasses and wiped them off. " Essentially, yes. "
" Is there a way to block the interference?"
" I have no idea," Tonya sighed. " If it were mechanical, I'd have a easier
time saying yes to that. But this looks magical Wildwing. I don't know anything
Wildwing's shoulders sagged slightly. Then he stiffened. " We'll think of
something. Even if it means going to the Raptor and stopping those lizards
personally. Right NoseDive?" He turned to his sibling, hoping his words had
cheered him up a bit. NoseDive flinched slightly under his sudden gaze.
Wildwing's eyes suddenly widened in realization.
" NoseDive? What was that last dream about?" He sat down next to him. NoseDive
shook his head.
Wildwing sighed. " It was about me, wasn't it?" NoseDive froze for a second -
and then relaxed a bit.
" Yeah." he whispered. " We were back on Puckworld, y'know, when Canard found
NoseDive struggled to get the words out. " Well, this time 'round, you didn't
want me to come along. You attacked me, saying it was merciful compared to what
you were going to leave me to - the camps..." he broke off, shuddering as the
gruesome images came back to him full force. Wildwing winced. He remembered the
camps. Sleepless nights as screams of pain and terror filled the darkness. Days
of backbreaking labour. Hundreds of their people suffering from starvation. The
dead lying where they had fallen, and failed to rise. He shuddered in sympathy
for NoseDive. It had taken a long time, but both he and NoseDive had eventually
come to terms with their fears and nightmares. They had put the past behind them
where it belonged. To have someone reach into Dive's psyche and pull them back
to the surface was cruel, evil. Anger rose in him until he thought he might
choke on the strength of his emotions.
" We're gonna stop this Dive," he vowed, jaw clenched. " I swear to God, this
is going to end, one way or another."
Hating to interrupt such a moment but knowing she needed to, Tonya came
" Wildwing? We need to talk."
" What about?"
" Let's go outside."
Mallory's head jerked up as Duke came into the room, bearing a party-size
" What'd ya get?" she asked.
" Triple cheese, mushrooms, pepperoni, bacon, and hamburger." Duke placed the
pizza down on the coffee table as Mallory lifted her feet from it. Her eyes
" NoseDive's favourite."
" I know." Duke glanced briefly at her and turned a faint shade of red.
Mallory sighed and leaned over, laying a hand on his forearm. " I'm worried
about him too Duke."
Duke shook off her hand. " He'll be fine. The kids been through a lot, but he
always lands on his feet."
" More lives then a cat."
" Damn right!" Duke let out a short burst of laughter. Then he sobered. " I'm
sorry Mal. You're right. I am worried. This is something we can't fight! How can
we help him?" He slammed his fist down in frustration. Mallory opened the box
and took out a slice of pizza, biting into it while studying Duke. So that was
it. Duke was more then worried about NoseDive: he was angry at himself for not
being able to help. Well, it makes sense, she thought. Duke had never been
happier when Canard recruited him. He had been accepted, not just for his
skills, but because Canard had liked him too. And we've all become like family
to him. And to Duke, you were supposed to protect family. Duke had made that
mistake before - he had let petty jealousies ruin what little relationship he'd
had with his brother Rance back on Puckworld. Then the Saurians came, and well,
there wasn't a chance for Duke to apologize and make amends with his sibling.
And since being stranded here, he's taken Dive under his wing, so to speak. It
had amazed her to see big, tough Duke L'Orange acting like a protective mother
hen over all of them, especially the kid. Wildwing may own the title of
worrywart over NoseDive, but Duke was almost as bad. He lost one brother and
gained another. Mallory finished her slice silently. Grin had joined them,
gazing at them questioningly.
" Don't know, big guy." Mallory opened a can of coke. Grin nodded.
" We will though. And then we will stop whomever or whatever is causing this,"
he promised. Then he also grabbed a pizza slice. Tonya and Wildwing entered the
room, Tonya looking stressed, and Wildwing with his head down slightly, as
though the weight of the world were pressing down on his shoulders. Duke leapt
to his feet.
" What's wrong?"
" Relax guys, he's fine for now," Tonya sighed. Mallory raised an eyebrow.
" For now?"
" That's what I wanted to talk to you guys about. NoseDive's not gonna be okay
" What do you mean?" Grin asked.
Tonya rubbed her eyes wearily. " During this last little dream session,
NoseDive started hyperventilating. His dreams are starting to affect his
The Mighty Ducks stared at her, not totally comprehending.
" But they're just dreams!" Duke protested. " Aren't they?"
Wildwing looked at him. " Apparently not."
Tonya broke in again, eager to explain. " First off, Wildwing made me notice
something. NoseDive had only been asleep for a few seconds before he began
" So?" came from Mallory.
" So..." Tonya continued, glaring at her for the interruption. "...NoseDive
isn't reaching REM sleep, the stage of sleeping where you get all your rest. And
if Dive first started experiencing these dreams almost three days ago..."
" Then technically, he hasn't gotten any sleep for 72 hours." Mallory finished.
Tonya nodded. " He's suffering from serious exhaustion. It's not just the lack
of sleep, it's the surges of adreneline racing through him during each
nightmare. He's not recovering from each surge like a normal person. Add in the
battle, and morning practise from yesterday, and the fact that he hasn't really
eaten since the nightmares began, and you have one duck who's on the verge of
Silence greeted this. Then Duke spoke up. " What else is there, Tonya? You're
holding out on us."
Tonya cleared her throat. " It's getting more serious. Each attack is harder
for him to wake up from - he's literally at the mercy of whoever is causing
" Aaaannnd?" prompted Grin.
" The last dream made him have problems breathing. If he had been alone, it's
possible he could have eventually suffocated."
" Great! " burst out Duke. " What if the next time he's scared so badly he has
a heart attack?"
" Calm down Duke!" snapped Wildwing.
" Forget it Wildwing - I wanna get moving! Let's quit waiting around here for
the next nightmare to arrive, and go knock the cure out of Dragaunus!" He stood
and began pacing. " This inactivity is driving me nuts! At least by attacking,
Wildwing stood up and blocked Duke from stalking around. " We're all worried
Duke." he said softly. Duke stared at him, and then crushed him with a hug.
" I know. But we have to do something!"
" We will." Wildwing gazed at his teammates, seeing the resolve in all of them.
But how to begin? They had always waited for Dragaunus to make a move first -
the Raptor's cloaking device prevented them from getting a permanent fix on it's
location. How would they find Dragaunus?
Suddenly they heard the alarm go off. Someone was at the Pond's front gates.
Wildwing and Mallory headed topside. Reaching the main hallway, they went to the
front doors. And stopped short, seeing who it was through the glass. Mallory
" I don't believe it..."
NoseDive slowly opened his eyes. It was no use - he couldn't sleep. Not that he
wanted too. No more dreams, he pleaded his with his mind. Sitting up slowly, he
rubbed his face roughly, his eyes feeling gritty and his throat as rough as
sandpaper. He reached out to the bedside table and grabbed the glass of water
Tonya had left for him before herding Wildwing outside. Wonder what's so
important they can't include me? NoseDive was starting to get sick of this.
" I can't sleep because I'm afraid of my dreams, yet I can barely stay awake.
And when I am awake, my friends and family go out of their way to keep secrets
from me," he muttered. " Maybe this is a dream too!" A wave of exhaustion
flooded over him, bringing a sense of warmth. He felt himself slide backwards
against the sheet, drifting. Suddenly he snapped awake, lungs bursting, chest
" You idiot! " he snarled at himself. " You almost fell asleep!"
But you can't keep this up forever, a snide voice in his mind told him.
NoseDive ran his fingers through his hair, tugging on the tangled strands in
mute frustration. Tears began welling in his eyes, and he tried to force them to
go away. Big, tough duck you are. Crying all the time. He raised his head,
feeling nauseas at the movement. At the far end of the room was a mirror and
NoseDive studied his appearance. His normally cheerful face had taken on a thin,
haggard appearance. His blond hair, normally his pride and joy, hung limply in
clumps across his face. He raised his hands slowly and watched them tremble.
Then he looked into his own eyes. Deep, dark circles surrounded bright blue eyes
that stared back at him in defeat. He could taste the bile in his throat, feel
the tears in his eyes. He thought of his nice comfortable bed and he was nearly
overwhelmed with sheer terror and panic. Is this what I have to look forward to?
he thought, breathing raggedly as he fought back his fear. He nearly broke down
at the thought of going through the agony for the rest of his life. I CAN'T do
this! he wailed silently. He drew his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms
around them, tugging the blanket up. He rested his head on his knees, and began
to rock himself back and forth. Go away, his mind whimpered. Please, go away.
His eyes fell upon Tonya's omnitool which she had taken off so's not to
interfere with her equipment during the tests. If memory served him right, one
of the functions included a knife. He picked up the tool and pressed a button,
watching the blade spring into existence. He turned it slowly, watching the
light catch it and reflect back off. A part of his mind was screaming at him to
stop, but another part of his mind was feeding off his exhaustion and mental
incoherence. I'm going insane, he thought detachedly. Some part of him should be
shocked he thought, but all feeling had left him, leaving him numb. He lowered
the blade to his wrist and held it there. His thoughts stretched far ahead of
him: always jumping, never sleeping. Constantly checking his back for attacks by
his friends, never knowing what was real and what wasn't. Hell, maybe this isn't
real, he giggled. This is another dream, I'll bet! He traced the blade with his
finger. It must be. I'd never hold a knife to my wrist. He giggled again, a
highpitched noise that was strange to his ears. Only one way to find out. He
slowly drew the blade across his wrist, watching the thin red line well up and
then spill over. It wasn't very deep, and NoseDive was shocked to feel a
stinging sensation radiating from the wound. This is real! He mentally cried
out, staring at his wrist, utterly absorbed. The blood trickled down his wrist
but NoseDive made no move to bandage it. Instead, he contined to stare at the
wound, going into shock at the sight. His mind fogged over: Stop, he commanded.
Was he referring to the flow of blood? Or to the endless cycle of fear? Please
They'll never stop, a voice told him. NoseDive raised his head, eyes huge and
" Who said that?" he asked shakily.
I did. NoseDive shook his head - the voice seemed to be coming from within his
" Oh good, now I'm hearing things," he said darkly. " I'm ready for the funny
The voice snorted at him. If you weren't before, just talking to yourself would
" Great - I'm hearing voices and what are they doing? Instead of dating tips or
advise, they're lecturing!" NoseDive laughed crazily. I'm going insane!
Just about, the voice agreed. NoseDive lost his patience.
" Who the hell are you??? What are you doing in my head?? Leave me the hell
alone!!!" he screamed, his throat raw.
Are we finished? the voice asked sarcastically. NoseDive sank back against the
headboard breathing heavily. His wrist was really starting to hurt now, but he
brushed it aside.
" What do you want?" he asked in a defeated tone.
Maybe I should answer your other questions first, hmmm? NoseDive shrugged in
resignation. Very well. I am Morpheus, God of Dreams.
So I know why you're having these nightmares.
" Oh yeah? Who's to say you're not the one who gave them to me in the first
place?" NoseDive growled.
" WHAT???" NoseDive reared up. The sudden movement made him dizzy and he barely
leaned over in time before he vomited into the garbage bag next to him. " Shit.
Memo to me - no more fast moves." He was feeling strangely light-headed.
Shall I continue?
" If I say no, what are you gonna do - hit me with another nightmare?" Dive
The voice sounded impatient. I could do much worse if you're not careful - how
would you like to literally be scared to DEATH?
NoseDive sat back and held up his hands in mock surrender. " Can I just ask you
" Why me?" NoseDive asked in a quiet tone.
If you'd let me finish, you'd know. NoseDive gave a small nod, subdued. Much
better. As I said, I am the God of Dreams. I once lorded over the earth with my
fellow gods. My job was to monitor the sleep of humans, to inspire them with
visions of success and fortune, to guide them when they were lost and sick at
heart. I virtually created the human imagination by encouraging dreams of
fantasy and make believe. I punished with cruel nightmares.
" Why? What did I do to you?" NoseDive asked again.
Not just the deserving get nightmares - fear can inspire men to be better
people. Fear can help sharpen one's instincts. Fear can help children recognize
danger. Nightmares serve just as good a purpose as dreams of flight and fancy.
The voice seemed to darken it's tone. And then came the day the man fought back
against the gods. We were reluctant to battle because man was, and is, our
greatest achievement. They blamed us for their failings and fell to using black
magic, taught to them by gods who had been cast out, like Satan, Judas, Mars,
Ares and others who had taken up residence in the prayers and beliefs of other
cultures. Two Roman "priests" the voice snorted in derision, used the dark arts
to banish the gods, and sealed us away in eternal torment. Though I was able to
infect them with nightmares the likes of which would send you straight to
insanity, we were all trapped in hell. You would call it limbo, a lifeless void.
" Huh. Sounds like they had the right idea," NoseDive muttered. He was starting
to feel sleepy again. Darkness was creeping in around the edge of his vision; he
eyes, trying to keep the darkness at bay. The voice sighed again.
I was summoned back by a Saurian magician, Wraith.
" Knew those damn Jurassic Park-rejects were involved." He yawned.
Their leader, the one called Dragaunus wanted to attack your leader, Wildwing.
For freeing me, I had no alternative but to help. He wanted subtlety, so that
none of you would realize what was happening. So we decided to influence your
dreams, to drive Wildwing crazy with worry.
" Doin' damn good job..."
But this is far enough. I will soon have my strength back fully, and will be
able to deal with those Saurians in my own way. But I have come to enlighten you
" I'd rather you just take away my nightmares." Dive blinked at him.
I cannot do that.
" Oh, but you can give me them?"
I can only influence what's already in the mind I'm inhabiting. Dreams and
nightmares both have to come from within. What I started with you, was something
you were already facing. I merely brought your true fears and worries to the
forefront of your mind.
" What are you saying, exactly?"
I stopped interfering with the second nightmare you had involving your team
" Tonya said that there were two brain wave patterns!" Dive objected.
" Apparently, I'm at your mercy!"
I stopped interfering - but I can always watch. And you're at the mercy of
yourself. These nightmares are of your own creation - and I can do nothing to
stop them. True, I enhanced them at first, but you've taken control of them ever
since. And to directly interfere in such ways as you have asked me to, would be
to erase the problems completely instead of learning to deal with them.
" I can live with that, " Dive argued, eyes sliding shut again.
No you can't. You may not be human - but your mind is similar. To run from your
problems or ignore them, does not make them go away. You'll be doomed to repeat
it again, and again. And that will kill you just as surely as the knife wound
you inflicted on yourself.
Why am I not surprised, NoseDive sighed. " It's my fault...." The blood from
his wound was soaking the sheets beneath his wrist, a crimson pool puddled on
the ground. The omnitool fell from his grasp, clattering to the floor. His head
fell back and he slipped into unconsciousness. The voice and it's owner studied
the unconscious duck for a moment; and then exited his mind.
" I don't believe it!" Mallory said again, puck launcher trained at their
guests. Seige snarled at her and Chameleon hid behind him in case Mallory got
trigger-happy. It had taken a lot of fast talking to keep Mallory and Duke from
going into full-out battle mode when the three Saurians had knocked on their
door, but only concern that Dive's cure lay in their hands had kept them at bay.
After hearing the story, Wildwing stepped forward, bristling with rage but Tonya
held out her arm.
" Wait a minute. Let me see if I have this right," she said wrinkling her brow.
" Wraith conjured up a dream god to give NoseDive nightmares. And all of this
was to drive Wildwing nuts, to distract him enough to let Dragaunus attack?"
" That was at the beginning, " Wraith allowed. " I'm afraid Dragaunus has
become intrigued with the possibilities of attacking all of you in this manner -
he's quite enamoured with the subtlety. It's normally not his style."
" No shit," Duke spat out. He was on edge, wanting so badly to whip out his
sabre and give the saurians a quick fencing lesson. Coupla quick swipes and we
could have some headless lizards to mail back to Draggy. He forced the pleasing
thought away with an effort. " Normally he likes guns and big explosions! What
changed his mind?"
" The way this method has of attacking just one primary target, but it still
affects all of you, " answered Seige with a growl. " He's put off wanting to
kill you, and wants to continue with mental torture."
" It's a lot more fun!" chimed in Chameleon popping out from behind the orange
lizard. Seeing five ducks glower at him, he immediately dove behind Seige again.
Mallory hissed at him.
" Any time you want some fun lizard," she hefted her puck launcher. "...bring
" Knock it off, you two!" snapped Wildwing. " Wraith, how do we get Morpheus
out of Dive's head and back into limbo?"
" Wait a minute!" Duke interjected. " Why are you three helping us anyway?
Draggy ain't gonna be too happy about that."
" Good. Maybe he'll blast them." Mallory growled. Duke gave her a tight grin.
" Down girl."
Seige broke in. " Because as bad as Dragaunus is, Morpheus is worse!"
" Yes," agreed Wraith. " Morpheus needs us to keep him in this dimension until
he regains his strength. However, once he's recovered..."
" You're afraid Morpheus is going to turn on you and drive you insane with
nightmares!" Tonya guessed.
" Well, give the lady duck a prize!" Chameleon said sarcastically. Grin moved
" Now, answer Wildwing's previous question. How do we help NoseDive?"
" There is a vortex portal in the nose of the Raptor. You know this, yes?"
Wraith asked. The ducks nodded. " Okay. Using an ancient human spell Dragaunus
found during one of our excavations and an amulet of my Saurian ancestors, I was
able to combine it with the properties of the vortex portal. When the portal
opened, amplified by my magic, it generated an opening into limbo. I used the
amulet to lock on to the gods essence and pulled. Morpheus was brought through.
However, the strain of keeping it open was too much and I was unable to keep the
portal open any longer. The amulet was used to capture the gods essence and act
as an anchor. This kept him from slipping back into limbo. Now, his power is
growing stronger; it's only a matter of time before he's at full strength."
" And I see you still haven't answered Wing's question," Duke drawled, holding
his sabre out and playing with the blade idly.
" I was getting to that!" Wraith snapped. " If I can get the time needed to
cast the spell with the vortex portal, I can open the gateway again. If you
smash the amulet near the opening, Morpheus will be sucked back into limbo. If
we wait too much longer however, he'll be able to stay without the amulet as a
" So we have to sneak aboard the Raptor again." Mallory's eye's had an evil
glint in them. And then it's payback for what they did to NoseDive! Mallory
wasn't a emotionally demonstrative person normally. And she'd be the first to
admit NoseDive could be just as much a pain in the neck as an asset to the team.
But this was too much. What Dragaunus and Morpheus had done to Dive was cruel,
heartless torture, plain and simple. They had been unable to help him. But now,
she had just been given a target.
" Time for a little fun!"
" Gear down, Mallory," Wildwing said. Then he turned to Wraith. " The vortex
portal is in the front of the Raptor. Morpheus and Draguanus will both be
" Yes. Along with many of his drones, I dare say."
" Okay. You three can teleport us into the main room." His mind was racing
furiously to devise a plan. Visualizing the layout of the portal room of the
Raptor from memory, he continued. " Mallory and Duke?" The two looked up
sharply. " You two are responsible for keeping Dragaunus at bay. Seige? You and
I will protect Wraith while he casts the spell. Do you have the amulet?"
" No - it's in a stasis field next to the generator."
" Grin. You'll grab the amulet while we're doing the spell. As soon as you have
it, wait for Wraith's signal to break it."
" Understood." The giant duck bowed his head in acknowledgement.
" Once Morpheus is sent through the portal, ducks? We will be making an
immediate retreat. First priority after disposing of the god is to get everyone
home in one peice. Got that?" Wildwing stared hard at Mallory and Duke. They
nodded. " Get your licks in while you can." Tonya stepped forward.
" Wildwing? What about me?"
" Tonya, I need you to stay with Dive. He's in bad enough shape - I don't want
to leave him alone." Wildwing's throat ached. He wanted so badly to take on
Morpheus and Draguanus himself. But he knew that petty vengeance would be
detrimental to the real mission of sending Morpheus into limbo. Mal and Duke had
some built-up tension to release, a luxury that he as the leader, could not
indulge in. He had to make sure Wraith and Seige wouldn't doublecross them, and
he'd be able to tell with the Mask of Ducain if what they were doing could be
turned on them. Tonya glanced at him.
" When do we leave?" Duke had holstered his sabre and faced him expectantly.
" Soon. I just want to let Dive know what's going on. Give him some hope to
hold on to."
Morpheus came back to his own body and looked up at Dragaunus, who was staring
at him, anger visable on his features.
" And what was so important about this little jaunt into that duck's mind, that
you could not bring me?" he growled.
Morpheus looked at him distastefully. " Call it a god thing."
" No!!" Dragaunus slammed his fist down on the main console in the portal room.
" Might I remind you that you are here only because of me! And I can send you
back to limbo just as easily!" He gestured to the amulet in the stasis field,
glowing an amber light. Morpheus swallowed his rage at such a disrespectful tone
directed at him. A god. Patience, he counselled himself.
" Might I remind you, that soon you will not be able to hold such a threat over
You may think you are superior, but I am a god, and as such, still hold the
sword of Damoclese over your insignificant head!"
Dragaunus started slightly at the power in Morpheus's voice.
" I'm sorry, my friend. I have been getting a little caught up in the
Accept my apology." Dragaunus ground out between gritted teeth. He then turned
and stalked out. Morpheus waved his hand and an ornately designed gold-and-glass
goblet filled with a ruby red liquid appeared in his hand. Sipping at it, he
pondered his dilemma. Truth be told, he wasn't all that upset that the young
duck he had visited was at the end of his rope. He'd seen worse. Inflicted much
worse on kinder people. NoseDive was just another human. Well, half-human. But
it was the fact that he had been ordered to do so by another half-human type
creature, that was bothering him. As a god, he had to do his job correctly. If
fate had decreed NoseDive suffer the nightmares, Morpheus would have done it
without another thought. Immortal beings rarely wasted their time worrying about
the welfare of one mortal. But he was being ordered around as one would a
servant. And, he had been gone such a long time. None of the other gods exist
here, he thought, a slight pang of lonliness invading his thoughts. Not even the
fates. Which was a pity - he'd always been rather fond of the future fate. She
always let him know ahead of time what dreams he'd have to inflict, saving him
much work. He sighed and took another drink of his wine. What he'd told NoseDive
was true. If he eliminated the nightmares, he'd be erasing a deeper part of
NoseDive that defined who he was as a person. NoseDive had to confront his fears
to win. It happened very seldom, but there were mortals who had won out over the
nightmares and became better people as a result. Those two Roman priests were
different though. He chuckled wryly at the memory. They had been hit so hard by
him as punishment for banishing the gods, they had committed suicide less then
twenty-four hours later. Was NoseDive strong enough? Probably not, he thought,
remembering the bright red of NoseDive's blood as it flowed, soaking the sheets.
" It is no matter," he decided finally. " Soon, I will be free of this accursed
amulet-anchor and I will take over as the head god since Zeus is no longer
here." He smiled contentedly at the thought. He'd always wanted to be king.
Wildwing followed Tonya back to the medlab, Duke right behind him. He'd been
meaning to check on the kid but with all the excitement, he'd put it aside. Good
thing Wing's his brother, Duke thought. I don't DO bedside manners very well.
Mallory and Grin had been left behind to stand guard over tthe three lizards.
The thought of allying himself with them disgusted him. But, he rationalized, it
was for a good cause. So wrapped up in his thoughts, he was caught totally
off-guard for the scream that came.
Wildwing sprinted to his brother's side and came to a halt, staring in shock at
the blood pooling beneath the lax fingers of his brother. Tonya had muffled a
curse and lunged for a towel lying on a counter. Reaching Dive, she immeditely
applied pressure to the wound. Wildwing's knees buckled and he sank to the floor
next to the bed, never taking his eyes of the still figure. Duke swallowed hard
as bile rose up in his throat. Giving up the fight, he sprinted to the sink and
threw up the pizza he'd had for lunch. It wasn't the sight of blood that sent
the chills down his spine - it was knowing what happened.
" Oh god, Dive, " Wildwing gasped, still in shock. " Stars no, please!" His
trembling fingers pressed against Dive's neck. After what seemed like an
eternity, he felt a thud. And another. " Thank god," he whispered ferverently.
Tonya released her iron grip on Dive's wrist slightly, and took a peek at the
" It's not even that deep," she said with relief. Ordering Duke to grab her
suturing kit, she dampened another towel and began cleaning the wound. Duke
brought her the kit and she set to work stitching the flesh back together. Duke
watched for a moment, face pale, and then slipped out the door. Throughout it
all, Wildwing retained his grip on Dive's hand, willing him wake up. Tonya
worked fast and efficiently, years of patching her teammates up serving her in
good stead. Finishing, she stood and washed her hands. While drying them, she
motioned to Wildwing.
" Lift him up."
Wildwing gathered his brother in his arms and waited patiently while Tonya
quickly stripped the bed of it's blood-soaked sheets. He held NoseDive tightly
to him. The initial shock was wearing off. God Dive, he moaned silently. I'm so
sorry. He had left his little brother alone, even knowing that was when the
nightmares attacked. If he had been there, he could have stopped Dive from
hurting himself. As Tonya finished making the bed, he lay Dive down gently,
brushing a stray strand of blond hair off the pale face. Dive whimpered quietly
at the soft touch, tilting his head towards Wing's hand. Sitting down beside him
on the bed, Wildwing finally allowed the tears to come.
" I'm here Dive, it's okay now. You're safe." He continued to stroke Dive's
hair. " I promise you're safe. C'mon baby bro, wake up. You're scaring me." It
was this admission that broke through the fog in Dive's head.
Dive felt so tired. All he wanted to do was sleep. No! Sleeping is bad! he told
himself. Don't care. He was too tired to fight anymore. Wanting nothing more
then to sink into oblivion, he waited for darkness to overtake him. Suddenly he
felt a vague discomfort, a slight pain in his arm. Ignore it, his mind
commanded. Sleep. He tried to listen, but he felt himself moving and then a
gentle hand at his brow. Automatically, he turned towards the gesture, finding
it comforting. He could hear a quiet voice saying something. Safe? I'll never be
"..you're scaring me..." Who said that? Wildwing? NoseDive would have snorted
if he were able. Wing's not scared of anything. But then who...? NoseDive
stiffened slightly as he finally recognized the familiar voice. Wildwing sounds
like he's about to cry. I wonder who's hurt? He struggled to open his eyes. It
was like wading through quicksand, but he fought back against the tugging
" Wing?" came a weak croak. Then two arms wrapped around him and held him
close. NoseDive drifted off, a small smile on his face.
Wildwing couldn't think of a time when he'd ever felt so relieved. The thousand
pound weight that had slammed down on his shoulders at the sight of NoseDive
lying in a pool of his own blood suddenly lifted as he felt NoseDive move
" Wing?" Wildwing closed his eyes and let the relief wash over him, tears
streaming down his face. Unable to speak, he simply pulled Dive to his chest and
held him as he once did when Dive was younger. Tonya checked his vital signs and
gave Wildwing a tiny grin.
" He's asleep." Tonya wiped her brow. " He should be okay."
" Should be?"
" I don't want to get your hopes up, Wildwing." Tonya gestured to NoseDive.
" He's weak from exhaustion and lack of food. He's being mentally tortured
whenever he sleeps and he's depressed when he wakes up. Now combine that with
shock and blood loss, not to mention more mental agony when he wakes up and
realizes that he inflicted the wound himself!"
Wildwing's face paled. " He''ll blame himself," he murmered. Tonya shrugged and
checked her machines again.
" Keep him covered with that blanket. He went into shock, and we have to keep
Wildwing nodded and gripped Dive tighter, tucking the blanket more firmly
around Dive. That was too damn close, little one, he thought. Listening to
Dive's even breathing for a few minute, he let his mind wander. Had it only been
three days ago that Dive had been racing around with a comic in one hand, and a
spicy taco stuffed in his face? His mind struggled with the enormity of the
situation. Dive tried to kill himself! He closed his eyes against the onslaught
of emotions waging war in his mind. Part of him wanted to go and strangle
Dragaunus with his bare hands, and then drop kick Morpheus back to wherever he
came from. But the rest of him wanted to stay right where he was, standing watch
over his baby brother, protecting him as he should have all along. But he knew
he couldn't send the rest of the team out without him - even if they could get
along without his leadership, they'd need the mask for protection, and none of
them would touch it after the last fiasco. I felt sorry for myself and abandoned
the mask, abandoned the team. Lucky he had some sense knocked into him and he
was able to retrieve the mask and save the day. I have to go, he told himself.
It's my duty as team leader. Then he stared at Dive's sleeping face. But what
about my duty to him? He's my brother, my family. I'm his legal guardian. Where
does he rate in the grand scheme of things? Not high enough, apparently. But
this time, leaving him would benefit him in the end. Don't worry Dive, he told
his sibling silently. We know what the problem is now, and we're going to fix
" I love you, little brother, " he growled. " And I'll be damned if I let you
get away that easily. Draguanus is going to pay. I swear this to you."
Duke stumbled along the corridor, barely registering where he was going.
Reaching the far end, he punched his hand against the door lock with enough
force to almost shatter the damn thing, and went into the main room. Mallory
glanced at him, an expectant look on her face.
" Duke, where's Wildwing? We leav..." she broke off at the look on his face.
Duke swallowed hard and met her gaze. " Wing will be along in a minute," he
said in a husky tone. " He...Dive needs him right now."
Mallory nodded understandingly. " He had another nightmare?"
" You could say that," he sighed. " Actually, the strain must have gotten to
Grin and Mallory stared at him quizzically. Their three saurian guests looked
" NoseDive slit his wrist." he clarified. The puzzled looks changed to ones of
" Oh no," Mallory whispered. " Poor Dive. Poor Wildwing!"
Grin squeezed his hands until his nails bit into his skin, and his knuckles
" Is he all right?" He asked quietly. Duke shrugged.
" Tonya was patchin' him up when I left. I...I couldn't stay there," he
confessed. Grin lay a large hand on his shoulder.
" Do not be ashamed of showing emotion my friend. We are all upset, and it does
no one any good to bottle up their feelings."
" I know, Grin, but it's hard for me to do that. So just give me a little
space, 'kay man?" Duke looked up at the big man.
" As you wish," Grin said comfortingly.
" Awwww, ain't this sweet?" Seige taunted them in a sickeningly sweet voice.
" Who cares? You're all gonna have the same problem if we don't go take out
" That's it!" Mallory growled savagely. She whirled around, blaster already in
hand, hammer cocked, locked and ready for action. " Between the eyes? Or do you
want another belly button?" Her hand trembled only slightly; Duke was the only
one who saw she was close to losing it.
" Mal!" He stepped up to her and gently pressed his hand down on the muzzle of
the gun. She resisted at first; then allowed him to push the blaster until it
was aimed harmlessly at the floor. " He ain't worth it right now. Much as I hate
to admit it, we need him."
Mal's mouth opened slightly and then closed again. She looked down as she
holstered her gun, and kept her gaze to the floor as she moved towards the three
saurians. Her voice was low, but there was no mistaking the deadly iciness of
her tone as she lifted her eyes to theirs. " Duke is right. We have a temporary
truce." She stepped closer, thrusting her face right in Seige's. Her eyes were
hard and emotionless. " But Wildwing is gonna be coming out that door in a
minute, and if I hear one word about him or NoseDive, I'll gut you myself, truce
or no truce. You saurians don't hold the market on torture techniques."
Seige paled slightly at the suppressed rage evident in front of him - it was
like listening to Dragaunus, and he found himself responding the same way he
would if Draguanus had used that tone on him. He bowed his head in
acknowledgement, and avoided her gaze as he blurted out, " Got it." Wraith
nodded slowly. Chameleon simply remained behind the two of them.
" Good. " Mallory let her breath out slowly. Then turning, she stalked to the
other side of the room to await the return of her leader. Duke dropped down
beside her; Grin would watch the scumbags.
" I feel better," she admitted with a short, bitter laugh.
Duke grinned at her. " I knew you had it in you."
" Had what?"
Duke merely smiled benevolently. Reaching over, she punched him playfully in
the shoulder. Duke squawked in outrage and retaliated. So absorbed in their
play-fight, they almost didn't notice the hiss of the door as it opened. They
pulled apart instantly while jumping to their feet, faces red. Fooling around
like a couple of kids while Wildwing was going through hell.
" Wildwing?" Duke asked softly. Wildwing looked at him with a gaze almost as
hard as Mallory's had been.
" Let's go."
Tonya adjusted the blanket around Dive, smoothing out a few wrinkles. Giving
her EKG machine a cursory glance, she made a note on the chart that she'd
printed out following Dive's last attack. Dive had been drifting away when
Wildwing had stood up, given him one last look and murmered he'd be back, before
exiting the medlab. She sighed - she'd really wanted to go with the team. I owe
that damn lizard some payback too! But her gaze fell on her teammate and she was
filled with a protective feeling that made her want to defend NoseDive. And I
will too. She noted that it had been almost five minutes since Wildwing had left
to collect the team so they could extract their revenge. Maybe Dive will get a
little rest before the dreams start up again? Just then, NoseDive began to moan
softly, head turning to the side.
Another noise, stronger now. Small tremors began coursing through him, and
sweat beaded his face.
" Noooooo..." he sighed, hands tightening into fists. His face blanched
slightly as pain travelled from his injured wrist. Tonya quickly went to him,
giving him a gentle nudge.
" Wake up NoseDive," she said firmly. NoseDive blearily opened his eyes and
Tonya swallowed a sigh of relief. She had gotten to him in time.
" whaaa..?" NoseDive's eye's were confused.
" It's okay Dive," she soothed. " You didn't get sucked in that time."
NoseDive grimaced. " This is getting repetitive." He scowled weakly. " Where's
Wing? What's going on?"
Tonya pulled up a chair and sat down. " How much do you remember?"
Huh? " I don't know...you wanted me to sleep so you could do some experiments
on me, your own personal lab rat," he joked weakly.
" And..." his voice trailed off as something tickled the back of his memory.
Voices, he thought. Were they another dream? A sharp pain stabbed him in the
wrist and he glanced down. Saw the crisp white of the bandage. Oh shit....
" No!" he breathed in agony. " I..I didn't mean-"
" Easy!" Tonya held up her hands. " Dive, it's okay! You were hardly in your
" No buts. Although it scared all of us big time. You're the one person we'd
never expect to give up hope. But it's not your fault!" Tonya tried to reason
with him, but NoseDive brushed away her words with a quick movement.
" But I didn't give up! Well, I guess I sorta did, but..I mean.." he broke off
and ran his good hand through his hair in frustration. " I don't know. I thought
it was another dream!"
Tonya studied him thoughtfully. " That would make more sense." NoseDive saw the
relieved look on her face and thought for a minute it was because she believed
he didn't mean to intentionally hurt himself. Then the wheels started turning in
his brain and he realized it was something much more. How many times had the
team been in a life and death situation and at the end of their rope? NoseDive
couldn't count begin to guess, but he could count on one hand the number of
times he had given up. Wildwing always said that he was the eternal optimist. I
have to be, with Wing being the king of all pessimists, he smirked slightly.
Could it be that for all their grumbling about his lack of maturity, they
actually appreciated his comments? His banter? His attempts to lighten serious
situations? Food for thought. Then he started. A small knot of doubt in his head
seemed to lessen, and float away. Maybe Morpheus was right.
" Morpheus!!" he fairly shouted, sitting up rapidly. Then he groaned as his
head caught up and began punishing him for moving so fast.
" NoseDive!" Tanya scolded. " Lay down - you're still weak!"
" No-wait! You don't get it!" NoseDive lifted his gaze to her.
" Oh I do-wait a minute!" she narrowed her eyes at him. " How did you know
NoseDive sorted through the vague memories coming unbidden, to the forefront of
his mind. " He came to me. After I..." he gestured, with some shame, to the
wound on his wrist.
" What did he say? What did he want? Did he threaten you?"
" Actually, he wanted to talk." NoseDive rubbed his eyes. Spots were dancing in
front of his eyes, and he wished the room would stop spinning. I'd like to get
off. " He told me what happened. I need to tell Wildwing - I know how to get rid
of him!" He looked up at Tonya who suddenly averted his gaze. His eyes widened,
and his voice got very soft.
" He's already gone, isn't he?"
NoseDive squeezed his eyes shut. Did Wildwing know how to beat this guy? An
image of Wildwing failing and then being subjected to the same nightmares made
Dive feel ill. These dreams, he wouldn't wish on anybody, much less his big
brother. It's not like he'd have the same anyway. That snide voice in his head
was back. Remember? Morpheus can only influence what's there to begin with. What
did that mean? I'm doing this all on purpose? A memory struck him - Morpheus
basically telling him it was all his fault. I'm the one putting the team through
this - these are my own nightmares, from my own mind! Tears welled up. Tonya
took one look at him and believed it was from pain and exhaustion. The thought
of guilt being the cause of NoseDive's anguish never crossed her mind.
" Relax, NoseDive. I'll get you some aspirin." She hurried off to find some.
NoseDive barely noticed her leaving. All his thoughts were on his brother, his
teammates, racing off to face an enemy on his behalf - not knowing the real
enemy was back at the Pond with a bandaged wrist. I'm sorry.
The Aerowing soared through air silently, cloaked in darkness. Amazing how time
flies when you're having fun, Mallory thought. Out of the corner of her eye, she
could see Wildwing's jaw clenched as he gripped the controls. The Mask of
Ducaine prevented her from seeing his eyes, but the memory of that cold, hard
voice telling them to move out sent shivers down her spine. Maybe it's a good
thing I can't see his eyes.
She looked down in front of her to the console. It felt awkward, sitting in the
co-pilot seat. NoseDive's seat. She brushed the thought away, willing herself to
concentrate on the upcoming battle. Instinctively, she reached down and patted
the holster of her blaster, the feel of it reassuring.
Grin was normally the placid one of the group. But even he had his limits and
his anger was almost as hot as Mallorys. The thought of his little friend trying
to kill himself chilled him, and the thought of destroying the one responsible
brought an evil-looking smile to his face. Cracking his knuckles in
anticipation, he stared out the window of the aircraft, at the blinking lights
below him. Soon...
Duke was fidgeting, hardly able to keep still. He traced the lines in his sabre
impatiently, returning it to his shoulder, only to bring it down again for more
study out of sheer nervousness. Imagine if the Brotherhood could see me now, he
snorted. Nervous as an amatuer making his first pinch! The thought crossed his
mind that most beginners in the Brotherhood were around Dive's age...Stop that!
He told that train of thought to go back to the station. He could still see
Dive's blood soaking the bed, the pale color of his skin. His fingers tightened
around the sabre's hilt. Oh Draggy! his mind sang. Look what I've got for
Wildwing only thought of one thing. One way or another, Morpheus is going back
into limbo. Even if I have to drag him there myself.
In the infirmary, NoseDive brought his knees up to his chin and buried his head
in his arms. Please bring them back, he begged silently. Don't let this happen
to them because of me! He raised his tearstained face and stared blankly at the
wall. A feeling of shame overwhelmed him as he realized that as much as he
wanted them to just turn around and come back, part of him wanted Wildwing to
make the bad guy go away. He could always count on Wildwing. But it's my fault,
he argued. And if anything happens to him, any of them, it's all my fault.
Disclaimer: The Mighty Ducks belong to the Disney Corp. The Disney Corp. is at
the beck and call of the public. I am a member of the public. Therefore I feel
justified in my right to use the characters as I see fit. *Stormy glances
nervously around for lawyers. Spots one tapping briefcase containing legal
documents* Okay, okay - y'know, I don't have to take this kind of abuse. I ain't
makin' a cent. *Lawyer shrugs* *Stormy growls under her breath* Sharks. Every
last one of you....
Dragaunus stalked impatiently into the nose of the Raptor. " When do we return
and see what has happened to that annoying child?"
" Patience, Dragaunus."
" I will NOT be patient!" he hissed.
Morpheus sighed. Such impatience. " Very well. Look."
Suddenly the landscape changed, became a whirling mix of colors. The feeling of
being tilted up-side-down, shapes and rainbow blobs bouncing past his field of
vision. Draguanus squinted, feeling the ground once again solidify beneath his
feet and saw the colors give way to a plain stretched before him, as far as the
eye could see. The astral plain. Dragaunus shivered at the feeling of power that
rushed through him as he stood there. If only I could will myself here, without
the power of Morpheus! The damage he could do to anyone he chose! Morpheus stood
on an floating platform in front of him. In the distance, millions of balls
glowed brilliantly, setting the vast horizen on fire. Draguanus stepped forward
and saw the familiar ball of shimmering light that was NoseDive's psyche, being
pulled to them by Morpheus. He eagerly placed his claws on it and stuck his head
in. Almost as quickly, he wrenched back, snarling in anger.
" He's still alive!"
Maybe that duck is stronger then I'd given him credit for, mused Morpheus.
Aloud, he said, " So what?"
" I wanted him dead!"
" I thought you wanted to torture him?" Morpheus countered.
Dragaunus sneered, showing his fangs. " I want Wildwing to suffer. I want to
torture Wildwing. What better way to do that then to kill his baby brother?"
Morpheus shrugged. " Give him time."
" I want results NOW!"
Suddenly Morpheus whirled around, hand slamming out and wrapping itself around
Dragaunus's throat, lifting him high into the air. " You presume to order me one
too many times!" he said coldly. Dragaunus could only manage a half-strangled
gurgle. " I may need that accursed crystal to remain in this world, but I am
almost at full strength. What is there to prevent me from just keeping you here,
where I reign supreme, until my powers have returned completely?" Dragaunus
paled, an incredible feat as it was also turning blue.
" Urk-yyou..ack..c-c-c-" his attempt to speak was cut off as Morpheus tightened
" I can."
" Because I am a god and it's high-time I started acting like one." With a
powerful blow, Dragaunus was thrown into another platform, his back striking it
with an audible crack. Morpheus watched him, a half-smile curving his lips.
" You see, Draggy, I do not like being bossed around. Zeus did it for years,
Morpheus do this, Morpheus do that. But now he's gone and I am the only god left
in this world. I shall take control as Zeus did before me."
Dragaunus looked up weakly, a defiant snarl still in place. " If you are so
eager to take control, why show such hesitancy to destroy one mere duck?"
Morpheus sat down as clouds and rock fused together creating a throne fit for a
king beneath him. " Because as a god I have responsibilities. We are not
tyrants, out for the destruction of mankind. Unless you count Ares. What would
you expect from the God of War?" He shook his head at the memories. " Gods
provide balance. There must be reason and purpose for all that we do. Normally I
wouldn't have cared about the duck NoseDive. But it was under your orders that I
gave him the nightmares, and that is why I am upset about it. I will do nothing
more to him; he will have to banish them himself, or perish at his own hand. But
it is no concern of mine any longer."
With a wave of his hand, Dragaunus was lifted into the air and held against a
slab of granite. Woven bands of energy wrapped around his wrists and ankles,
tying him spread-eagle to the cold stone.
" Now Draguanus. You will stay here. My power has returned to the point where I
can hold your mind captive here - and what is a body without a mind to guide it?
An empty husk." Morpheus smiled at the sight of Dragaunus struggling to free
" Sometimes I really love my job."
Wildwing landed the Aerowing outside of a large, empty office building. Bricks
were crumbling off it, the windows boarded up and litter spread in front of it.
" What a dump!" commented Duke as they exited the plane. Broken glass crunched
beneath their feet. " Doesn't look like anybody's home."
" That's because it's cloaked, you idiot!" Seige growled at him. Duke merely
glanced at him and turned to his leader for instructions.
" Seige, Wraith and Chameleon, teleport us into the Raptors main room."
" Would that be the living room, the ball room?" Chameleon asked with a
chuckle. The deadly look in Wildwing's eyes shut him up.
" One transport to the gateway generator coming up!" On cue, the four ducks
grabbed hold of the lizards as they pressed the button on their wrist
communicators. Wildwing felt the wierdest sensation of having his molecules
disassembled, free floating, and the reassembling. He felt the floor beneath him
and he stumbled slightly.
" You ducks act like you've never teleported before, " Seige muttered snidely.
Mallory gave him a look that would have froze him if she hadn't bent over
clutching her stomach in an effort to keep her dinner where it was. Duke shook
his head and looked over to see how Grin was. The big duck looked calm, as
though he'd been doing teleportation all his life.
" If that zen stuff keeps you from almost passing out while doing this, I may
have to start taking lessons from you, big guy."
Grin smiled. Wildwing shook off the last lingering effects and turned to
" Okay, what's the deal? This isn't the room we're supposed to be in!"
Duke held his sabre up to Wraith's throat warningly. Wraith growled.
" The room is right through there! Would you rather have the advantage of a
surprise attack? Or would you rather have Dragaunus's scanners register our
teleport signal before we even arrive?"
" Oh." Wildwing almost looked chagrined; then his gaze hardened. " Let's go."
Mallory lifted her blaster and fired at the door. With an explosion of fire and
smoke, the door blew inwards, blasted off its hinges. Wildwing leaped through,
followed by Duke and the three Saurians. Mallory and Grin brought up the rear. A
wall of red-metal drones stood before them.
" Change of plans Grin!" Wildwing shouted. " Guard the door! Don't let any more
Grin nodded and began taking out the drones closest to him, throwing them back
through the charred opening. Duke and Mallory leaped over the front line,
looking for Dragaunus. What they saw, pulled them up short.
" What the..."
Dragaunus was lying on the floor, his eyes open, but blank. Morpheus (had to be
him), stood next to him, sipping from a crystal goblet. Duke shook off the
surprise and levelled his sabre at Morpheus.
" You're the one that attacked Dive!" Morpheus merely raised an eyebrow at
With a cry, Duke lunged at him, hoping to spear him through. Morpheus vanished.
" Where'd he go?"
Meanwhile, Wildwing and Wraith had fought their way to the gateway generator.
Wraith pulled an ancient scroll from within the folds of his robes, and a
handful of mystic sand from a small bag. A drone fired at them and Wing
deflected it with his ice shield.
" How long is this gonna take?" he shouted at Wraith. Wraith waved his arm at
" Quiet! I need to concentrate!" he shouted back and then focused his
attention on the generator. Flinging a handful of sand at it, he began reciting
a spell, in an old language that sounded like gibberish to Wildwing's ears.
Chameleon jumped and skittered over and under drones, trying to keep his tail
in one piece. He reached Draguanus, who was still lying prone on the floor.
" Boss?" He tentatively touched Dragaunus's shoulder. No response. He watched
his boss's chest rise and fall.
" Well, he's not dead."
" Too bad!" Mallory landed next to him and stuck her blaster next to his head.
" But I can fix that!"
" I don't think so!" Chameleon doubled his size and backhanded her. " Can't let
ya kill the boss. Not part of the deal!"
" You are SO gonna regret that!" Mallory mumbled, rubbing her jaw.
Duke stumbled as Morpheus reappeared and backhanded him.
" I haven't had this much fun in a long time!" Morpheus said, genuine amusement
in his voice. " I've always relied so much on my powers I'd forgotten how
invigorating it is to battle in hand-to-hand combat!"
" You are sick!" Duke growled, wiping at the blood that flowed from the cut
above his eye.
" Possibly." Morpheus agreed.
" Why are you doing this?" Duke asked him desperately.
" Because I'm a god! Because I can!" Morpheus kicked him sharply. Duke doubled
over, pain racing through him. But still he tried.
" But why Dive? He's just a kid! He didn't deserve this!"
" Neither do most humans,"said Morpheus, backing off a bit. " But it's a part
of nature. Of balance. For one to sleep easy, another must suffer."
" Because that's the way the Gods intended!" he snapped. " Fear does more good
then you realize! It makes one feel alive, makes a person brave when they face
it down! It teaches! It humbles!"
" Maybe; but nightmares are one thing, cruel torture is another!"
" Ahh, that is true. But I have already rectified that mistake. I have sworn to
no longer interfere with NoseDive." Morpheus grinned. " I am fair, if nothing
Duke snorted. " And when did this come around? Why is Dive still suffering?"
" Because he must defeat the demons in his mind by himself!" Morpheus's eyes
narrowed. " I do not see why you need to know this - I have already told this to
the young one. It is out of my hands." Then his hands began to glow. " And you,
my boy, are out of my league!"
Duke watched in confusion - which immeditely turned into stark terror. He
screamed, a vile, horrifying sound that turned everyone's blood to ice.
Grin batted away another drone and paused to wipe the sweat from his face. The
number of drones he'd destroyed was such that he'd effectively barricaded the
door and earned himself a respite, however brief. He studied the large room
intensively. Wildwing and Wraith were crouched over the generator still. Mallory
was duking it out with Chameleon, the unconscious form of Dragaunus laying
behind them. Seige was having a blast, crunching drone skulls together. And Duke
seemed to be talking with Morpheus. He watched as Duke suddenly fell to his
knees, clawing at his head. His scream seemed to penetrate his very soul. Grin
flushed with rage and with a huge leap, he landed between Morpheus and Duke who
was now rolling on the floor, moaning in terror. Morpheus turned his gaze on
Grin who stared back evenly.
" What have you done to him?"
" I sent a bolt of fear into him - if he doesn't give himself a heart attack,
he'll survive." Morpheus shrugged. " Nice to see I haven't lost my touch. And
now it's your turn." He casually flicked another bolt out at Grin - and was
stunned when Grin merely shrugged it off.
" Wha-" was cut off as Grin struck him with a massive fist. He staggered back.
" That's not possible!" Then he realized his mistake. Grin was more in control
of his mind then the others. A touch of mental prowess; impressive, but not
enough, now that I realize what he's capable of. He prepared to throw another,
stronger bolt. Suddenly he felt pain. He looked down and saw razor-sharp claws
thrust through his chest, dripping blood. I must still not be up to full
strength if I'm bleeding. The claws retracted and he turned to see who would
dare assault him in such a manner, wounds already beginning to close. Dragaunus
stood there, shaky on his feet, but the hate and rage clearly evident in his
" You! "
Dragaunus was in pain but he managed to stay on his feet. When Morpheus had
abruptly left the astral plain, Dragaunus had remained pinned to the slab. As he
struggled to free himself, he could sense the sounds of a battle being fought.
He realized that his hearing it meant that Morpheus was preoccupied and slowly
losing his hold on Dragaunus in the astral plain. Renewing his efforts to
escape, he was rewarded as he felt a shock of pain reverberate through the
astral plain. As he tore the bands loose, he felt himself being sucked down.
With a thunk, he had returned to his own body. Feeling as though he weighed a
ton, he'd opened his eyes to see an enlarged Chameleon battling that accursed
Mighty Duck, Mallory. Seige was joining their battle. His eyes took in the hord
of destroyed drones. Whatever battle was being fought, it looked to be almost
over. Almost. He had pulled himself up and searched for Morpheus. Seeing him
battle the two ducks Grin and Duke, he'd been sorely tempted to let Morpheus
finish them off first. Then he realized he'd need them to get rid of him. Wraith
and Wildwing were to one side casting the spell; he decided to extract some
revenge. It had felt good to rip into Morpheus; now though, as Morpheus faced
him, he only felt rage.
" Yes. Me!" he snarled. Morpheus made a move towards him and then Duke's sabre
cut through the air, slicing his arm. Morpheus turned back in anger. Dragaunus
was about to attack again when he heard a highpitched whine coming from the
generator. Turning around, he saw a portal open slowly, magical mist swirling
through it. Wraith collapsed under the strain and Wildwing began shouting at him
to wake up. Dragaunus's eyes narrowed as he studied the gateway, watching it
grow in size. He then turned his gaze to the stasis field where the crystal was,
the crystal that stored Morpheus's ties to this earth. He kicked some demolished
drones out of his way and lunged for the crystal. Holding it aloft, he smiled
Morpheus laughed as he prepared to fire the coup-de-grace at Grin. Duke was
out cold on the floor and Grin was wavering. " So long, Mighty ones. Enjoy
Suddeny; he felt himself being moved, like his soul had a mind of its own. He
realized why he felt so unstable as he turned and saw Dragaunus holding a small
crystal high in the air.
" No!" he screamed. Dragaunus nodded.
" Yes." And smashed the crystal to the ground. Morpheus stared in horror as a
whirlwind of air and energy erupted from the shattered remains and headed
Mallory was exhausted, sore and really pissed off. Chameleon was unconscious
thanks to a quick thrust kick to his jaw, but Seige was now circling her, like a
tiger stalking its prey.
" Why don't you just be nice and surrender now?" she asked with a sneer.
Seige snorted. " In your dreams duck! Boss's back, Morpho is gonna be gone, so
that means the truce is over!" He whirled around, his massive sledge hammer of a
tail arcing through the air. Mallory leaped high into the air, letting it pass
beneath her feet. Arcing her spine, she turned the jump into a back flip and
landed out of range. Seige chuckled and advanced towards her.
Mallory was vaguely aware of the sounds of battle around here, when all of a
sudden a hush fell across the room. It was broken by a piercing scream.
Mallory's head snapped up and she looked around for her teammates. Grin was
helping a dazed-looking Duke off the floor. Wildwing and Wraith were watching in
amazement as Dragaunus took a large crystal and smashed it to the floor.
" Whoa." She vaulted past Seige and landed next to her leader, watching as a
funnel of swirling energy and light coalesced into a tornado of violent power.
Light shot from it's center, bathing the room in blinding white. Spots danced in
front of Mallory's eyes as she squinted, not wanting to miss a thing. Morpheus
had backed away from the vortex in a panic. Now he stood tall, and exerted some
kind of power. He must have been at almost full strength! she realized. Does he
have enough power to withstand the crystal?
Morpheus seemed to glow, a dark blue aura battling the pure whiteness. He
raised his arms majestically and bolts of blue lightning shot forth. He strained
against the invisible bonds which sought to claim him. His feet scraped along
the floor as inch by inch he was pulled, ever so slowly. His eyes lit up and he
snarled at the vortex, renewing his struggle.
The Mighty Ducks watched this display of power in amazement. They could feel
the energy in the room, crackling, snapping. It surrounded them, filled them,
leaving them in awe, shock, and scared out of their minds. What would happen if
he didn't go back? Mallory wondered. With this kind of power, he could literally
rule the world! That thought filled her with anger and she glanced at her leader
with an apologetic look. No matter what, Morpheus had to go through the portal.
She took a deep breath, and with a fierce karate yell, she did a front
hand-spring and struck Morpheus feet-first into the small of his back, driving
him forward. Her own momentum carried her with him as she tumbled. The winds
howled, catching her breath and her every nerve and synapse felt as though they
were on fire. Morpheus disappeared into the glow with one last hate-filled
shriek, and Mallory closed her eyes, not wanting to see the light swallow her up
and carry her away, vaguely aware of herself screaming. Suddenly she was
wrenched back, the breath totally forced from her lungs as a large hand wrapped
around her waist and hauled her out of harms way. She was vaguely aware of
someone chanting and she felt the winds die down.
" Mallory? You okay?" Wildwing stared down at her, his face filled with
concern. Mallory struggled to sit up.
" Is he gone?"
" Yeah. Thanks to you."
" Oh good." She passed out.
Wildwing had been paralysed by that white light, so beautiful and so terrifying
at the same time. And to see Mallory throw herself into Morpheus to drive him
through....well, to put it mildly, Wildwing was ashamed of himself. I should
have been the one to do that. A quick though of Canard flashed through his mind.
That's the second time someone else has tried to sacrifice themselves for the
good of the team, over me. He silently vowed that there would not be a third
time. He brushed a lock of white hair from his eyes.
" Everyone else all right?" He called out. Grin looked up from where he was
tending to Mallory.
" I am intact, " the large duck acknowledged. Wildwing nodded and turned his
" No prob, boss-man," Duke said weakly, supporting himself against the Raptor's
control panel. " Just get me home to bed and I'll be good as new." Grin stood
and walked over to him, helping him over.
Wildwing then turned his attention to the Saurians. Wraith looked drained, and
he was partially hiding behind dazed-looking Seige. Wildwing hid a smile -
Dragaunus was not gonna be happy with his boys. Oh well! Chameleon was still
lying in an unconscious heap from where Mallory had left him. Dragaunus was
rising to his feet, looking every bit as tired as the rest of them. His eyes
were still hate-filled though, and he raised one razor sharp claw, blood
dripping off the edge. Wildwing stared back coolly.
" Now it's payback time!" he hissed. Rage began filtering through his body. His
hands clenched into fists so tightly his nails left little crescent moons carved
into his flesh. Pictures of his brother cowering in fear flashed through his
mind. NoseDive lying in a pool of his own blood. The pain and terror in his face
after a nightmare. Cringing away from his teammates. Re-living the nightmares of
the past, night after night, unable to break free. Wildwing's eyes flashed
dangerously. " For what you did to NoseDive, I swear Dragaunus, I'm gonna rip
you apart!" He began stalking Dragaunus. Dragaunus looked none to steady on his
feet, but he growled and strode towards Wildwing.
" You've done a lot of things to us Dragaunus!" Wildwing snarled as he dodged a
vicious swipe. " But attacking NoseDive was the worst idea you could ever come
up with!" He slammed his fist into Dragaunus's face. Dragaunus howled and tried
to slice Wildwing in half. " You attacked one of the people I care the most
about in the entire world!" Wildwing kicked him sharply in the stomach and then,
turning on his ice shield, struck him in the head again. Dragaunus flew through
the air and struck the side wall.
" It's one thing to attack me. It's another thing to attack my teammates! But
when you attack my little brother, especially in such a cruel and vicious way,
you have really screwed yourself up!" Wildwing had worked himself into a fury.
He had spent so many months alone in the Puckworld camps, he had thought he
would never see his family again. Discovering NoseDive was alive had made him
actually have hope for the future. The ember of life had turned into a sparkling
flame and he had devoted his life to making sure he took care of his family as
best he could in those camps. For the last few days he had watched as his
brother suffered, unable to help him like he'd vowed. " You sadistic bastard!
You want to hurt me? You don't attack my team, you come after me! You want me,
you got me!" He screamed, and ripped out his blaster. Pointing it at the
motionless form, he smiled thinly. " You're gonna find out what you get isn't
what you wanted."
Suddenly Seige and Wraith jumped in front of their leader, prepared to battle.
Wildwing didn't even flinch. But Duke crept up beside him.
" Uhh...Wing? Man? Easy bro, relax a sec." Duke put a hand gently on the barrel
of the gun. Wildwing growled. " Uh, Wing, there are more drones on the way, the
ship's got internal defences primed, and we're two ducks short of a full deck,
know what I'm saying?" Duke pleaded with him.
Wildwing took in Duke's words, letting them absorb. But he wasn't wavering -
the gun was rock-solid steady.
" Wildwing! You said so yourself - first priority was to get rid of Morpheus
and then pull out! You got your licks in! But we're outnumbered now and running
He stood directly in front of Wildwing so the gun was planted in the middle of
his chest. Wildwing gave him a murderous look, but the anger faded slightly.
Duke pushed the muzzel down. " We'll get 'em next time. I promise. I'll even
hold him down for ya. But you got a kid brother at home you need to check on."
He held Wing's gaze. " Lets' go home."
Wildwing took in a deep breath. " You're right," he admitted. " I'm sorry."
Duke shrugged and grinned at him. " No problem, fearless leader." He glanced
down at Wing's blaster, his own hand still keeping it firmly pointed at the
ground. " I seem to be doing this a lot lately!"
Mallory sat up woozily. " Anyone get the number of that truck?" she muttered.
Grin helped her to her feet.
" I think in the future, you should not risk your life so casually. It's bad
for the karma!" Grin smiled.
" I know - bad karma means I'm gonna suffer right?"
" Actually, I was referrring to mine. I nearly dislocated my shoulder
retrieving you. Swearing, even in your mind, still gives bad karma!"
Chuckling, Mallory stepped over a pile of debris and stood next to Wildwing and
Duke. " Can we go home now?"
" I don't think so Ducks!|" Seige had aimed his blaster at them. " Enough
chatter - hands above your heads!"
"' Not today - call my secretary and make an appointment!" Duke sneered and
fired a puck launcher at the side wall. When the dust had settled, the Saurians
could only watch as the Mighty Ducks slid down a rope Mallory flung out the
window. Before following his teammates, Duke took a couple of small,
marble-shaped objects from his pocket and scattered them. The smoke screen
covered his exit.
" Blast!" Dragaunus cursed, and then stumbled. " After them!" Seige and Wraith
looked at each other's battered forms and then took in the damage done to the
Raptor, and the drones lined up stupidly against the wall.
" We could use the internal defences that Duke mentioned," Wraith said. "
" Screw it. I'm going to bed. " Seige stomped out of the control room.
Dragaunus whirled around.
" Chameleon! Go after them!" A low moan was all that came from the unlucky
lizard, still crumpled in the corner.
Dragaunus was about to order Wraith when he saw the Saurian was gone in a puff
of smoke. He slumped down in his chair, weariness catching up to him. "
Miserable ingrates. Next time. I'll win next time."
Disclaimer: *Stormy is dragged kicking and screaming to the podium* " I won't
say it again! Not four times! You hear me?!?! I WON'T!!"
*Lawyer whispers in Stormy's ear* "I don't care! You know I don't own the ducks!
You also know I'm broke! Why do you persist in tormenting me?!?!"
*Lawyer whispers again* "I-I said it again??....." *Stormy growls and battle
aura erupts around her* "DIE FIENDS!!!"
*Mass chaos ensues, major dust cloud obscures the audiences vision. Screams of
" HELP!" and " MERCY!" and " LAWSUIT!" are heard. Stormy finally emerges, slings
her trusty hyperdimensional mallet over one shoulder, and struts off* "Ha!
That'll teach 'em."
NoseDive sat in the infirmary bed, playing yet another round of Go Fish with
Tonya. He struggled to keep his eyes open, a loud yawn escaping his mouth. Tonya
eyed him worriedly. He caught her looking at him and he snapped his beak shut.
Tonya reassured him.
" Don't worry, NoseDive. Wildwing and the guys will take care of Morpheus."
NoseDive gave her a tight smile but inside, he was being eaten up by guilt. Too
bad Wildwing's gonna pound on the wrong guy. Morpheus's words echoed through his
mind: I can only influence what's already in the mind. NoseDive grimaced. I am
worthless,he thought miserably. I get everyone worked up over these nightmares.
If I had been stronger to begin with, Morpheus wouldn't have had anything to
work with. The guys wouldn't be out risking their hides for me.
" NoseDive?" Tonya's voice broke through his train of thought.
" I said, got any three's?"
" Oh, uh..no. Go fish." NoseDive stared at the game in front of him. Suddenly
Drake 1's alarms went off. NoseDive's cards flew out of his fingers as he bolted
upright, swaying slightly at the sudden movement. Tonya put her cards down and
planted her hands against NoseDive's chest, pushing him back down.
" Stay!" she ordered. " I'll check it out. It's probably the team returning."
" Stay, NoseDive. I'll be right back." Tonya left NoseDive sputtering. She
walked out of the medroom calmly, breaking into a run as she hit the hallway.
Reaching Drake1, she hit a large flat button on the panel. Wildwing's face
appeared in the viewscreen.
" Tonya, how's NoseDive?"
Tonya grinned in relief. " You guys are okay! Great! Oh, and NoseDive's fine,
Wing. I kept him awake so he didn't have anymore nightmares."
Wildwing gave her a large smile. " Tell him to go get caught up on his beauty
" Morpheus is gone?"
" For good, hopefully. Thanks to a brave and foolish stunt by Mallory, he's
back in limbo where he belongs." Wildwing raked the hair out of his eyes. " That
should be the end of the nightmares."
" I'll tell him - he'll be thrilled. I don't think he could have slept anyway.
He's been too worried about you guys."
" I know the feeling. We'll be back in twenty minutes or so. Wildwing out." The
screen went black. Tonya released the line and hurried back to the medlab, a
lighter bounce in her steps. Then she paused. " Brave but foolish stunt? Better
get the medlab ready. Mallory always has some new bumps after one of those!"
Tonya was right - Mallory did have some new bumps to patch up. But after being
poked and prodded, she pronounced herself fit and then made a break for the
recreation room. Wildwing smiled from his chair as he watched Tonya chase
Mallory with her med scanner in hand.
" Those two, " he murmered affectionately. He glanced over at his brother,
sleeping soundly for a change. He ruffled Dive's hair gently and picked up his
book and continued reading, still not comfortable with leaving NoseDive alone.
Duke stuck his head in the medlab.
" Hey Wing - how's the kid doin'?" he asked casually, not meeting Wildwing's
" Sleeping like a baby," Wildwing replied. " What's wrong Duke?"
Duke shuffled his feet nervously, unusual for him. " I, uh, just wanted to stop
by and ...ya know...apologize."
" Apologize?" Wildwing placed his book on the bed and gave Duke his full
attention. " For what?"
Duke looked him straight in the eyes. " For over-riding you back there. I know
how much you wanted to blast Dragaunus, and I pulled you away. I over-ruled your
authority as our leader."
Wildwing chuckled softly. " Duke, I should be thanking you. I had no right to
endanger the team by keeping us there after accomplishing our mission. You did
the right thing, and if you apologize for it, then I'm gonna make you sit
through one of Tonya's examinations to make doubly sure you didn't suffer any
" Anything but that!" Duke laughed. Then he sobered. " Thanks Wildwing."
" Anytime Duke."
Duke looked past him, towards the bed. " At least the kid can get some rest
" We got lucky," Wildwing agreed. " But it all ended well."
" Wing? I don't think it did - look!" Duke's eyes had suddenly widened in
surprise. Wildwing whirled around to see NoseDive's eyes squinted shut in
terror, tears already welling up. With a surprised squeak, he grasped NoseDive's
shoulder and shook him roughly.
" Wake up NoseDive! Right now!" Worry tainted his voice. NoseDive came awake
with a violent yell, eyes panicked. " Dive it's me, Wildwing! Calm down!"
NoseDive gasped for breath, staring up at his brother in confusion. Wildwing
took his gaze away long enough for him to bark an order to Duke: " Get Tonya.
Duke sprinted out of the room. Wildwing turned back to his sibling. "
" Wildwing." NoseDive's voice was subdued. " You're back." Wildwing nodded and
raked his hair back, thoroughly confused. Tonya burst through the door, scanner
" I thought sending Morpheus back would end the dreams!" Wildwing snapped at
her, ignoring the small twinge his subconscious gave at taking out his
frustrations on her. But Tonya merely shrugged it off - she knew it was the
" It did! I think!" she rushed over to her beloved machines and checked the
latest readings. " See? No other presences! It's all NoseDive in his head, no
" Maybe it's just normal, leftover residuals from going through a tramautic
experience?" Wildwing guessed.
" It's possible," Tonya allowed. She looked at NoseDive, who didn't look very
surprised at the fact that he still had nightmares. " How do you feel?"
" Just great, " he whispered, twisting the blankets between his fingers. "
Maybe it's 'cause I'm sleeping in here and not my bedroom." He pushed the
blankets away and stood up. Wildwing rushed to help support him, but NoseDive
waved him away. " I'll be in my room."
Wildwing watched him leave. Something was nagging at him. He replayed all the
events in his mind, including the battle with Morpheus. Dive wasn't acting
right. Granted, still having nightmares might not make one conducive to
conversation, but NoseDive didn't even look surprised at the nightmares still
occurring. He raised his wrist-com to his beak.
" Yeah boss? Dive okay?"
" For now. Look, when you were battling Morpheus, did he do anything, any
spells or something that might have made the nightmares stay even after he was
" Nope. He was too busy having fun, `engaging in hand-to-hand combat'." Duke
frowned. " But he wouldn't have done that anyway."
" Why not?"
" He said so - he said that messing with Dive wasn't his idea, and that he'd
already rectified his mistake. I get the feeling that while he wasn't a nice guy
to begin with, he didn't really wanna hurt him."
" He told you that?"
" Well, not that last bit. But I'm pretty good at judging people. I'm glad he's
gone, but I think Dragaunus had more to do with such a personal attack."
Wildwing pondered this for a minute. " I think I'm going to go and have a talk
" 'Kay Wing. Anything else?"
" Nah. Go relax - you guys have earned it." Wildwing cut the connection and
stared at the door Dive had walked out of. What's going on? He rose and went to
see his brother.
NoseDive counted. On three, there was a soft knock on his door.
NoseDive grinned faintly. " Come on in Wing. You're right on time."
Wildwing entered the room, steering clear of the piles of clothes and comics
littered about the floor. " So, you think you know me, huh?"
" Well, guess what?" Wildwing sat next to him. " I think I know you pretty well
" Yup." He paused. " Why do you still have nightmares?"
NoseDive looked at him. " Do the words, `big nasty god with gnarly powers' ring
a bell? Maybe I'm being punished from beyond the limbo."
" Duke said Morpheus didn't do any spells. He also apparently tried to fix what
he did. And you didn't seem surprised at all when I woke you up."
NoseDive twisted his sheet in his hands. "Morpheus...told me some things. About
myself, I mean."
Wildwing scratched the side of his head in confusion. " Yeah? Like what?"
Sighing, NoseDive confessed. " He stopped giving me nightmares after the one I
had about Grin. Morpheus said that he can't create nightmares - he has to have
something to work from that he can enhance, or something."
Wildwing gazed at his sibling. " So those nightmares basically came from your
" Yeah." NoseDive couldn't meet his brother's gaze at first.
Wildwing closed his eyes. When he opened them, NoseDive was struck by the deep
" I had no idea that...well, I thought you'd put all those bad memories from
Puckworld away. I thought we both had dealt with them."
" I thought I did!" protested NoseDive. " And Morpheus did make it worse you
" But all the dreams after - the ones where you felt you were worthless, where
you should have been left behind. Where did those nightmares come from Dive?"
Suddenly, NoseDive was very interested in the design on his blanket. Wildwing
sighed. " Dive, why do you keep telling yourself these lies?"
" What do you mean, lies?"" NoseDive mumbled. " They're truths."
" No they're not!" Wildwing stared at NoseDive, worry rising within him.
Apparently, NoseDive's insecurities went way beyond what he had originally
believed. NoseDive didn't think he was important - he thought himself worthless!
Wildwing suddenly stood up and stalked over to NoseDive's window. He watched a
family of four cross the street in front of the Pond, laughing and talking.
Where did me and Dive go wrong? he asked himself. He turned around.
" Would you still feel the same way if we went back to Puckworld?" he asked
" The camps?" NoseDive asked, horrified.
" No - our home. Dragaunus isn't there anymore. Puckworld was probably won back
by our military after the Saurians lost their leader. Remember - drones made up
the bulk of Dragaunus' forces and they were all powered by his headquarters: the
" Which is here on earth!" breathed Dive. " You're probably right!"
" So answer my question. Would you feel the same way about yourself if we were
to go home tomorrow?"
NoseDive frowned and he looked away. " Maybe."
" Why??" Wildwing asked again. " Who told you that you were worthless?" he was
struck by a thought. " Was it...me? Did I make you feel that way?"
NoseDive rocketed out of bed and to his brother's side, staring Wildwing in the
eyes with an angry look.
" Don't you ever think that!" he snapped. " It's not your fault your brothers a
" Then who's is it?" Wildwing asked calmly.
" NoseDive, please. I want to know what's bothering you." He gave him a quirked
smile. " I'll lose my big brother's license if I don't beat up whoever is
picking on my little brother - says so in the handbook."
" There's a handbook?"
" Well, in your case, it was more like an instruction manual."
" Enough stalling." Wildwing stared levelly at his sibling.
" I....I can't say." NoseDive finally whispered, lowering his eyes. Wildwing
looked at him.
" That's okay bro." NoseDive looked up in relief. " You just confirmed it."
NoseDive backed up a step. " Are you a mind reader now?"
" No," Wildwing sighed. "But I know you." He turned back to the window and
leaned on the sill, a sad expression on his face. " Canard was my best friend,
but he was never very nice to you, was he?"
NoseDive was completely floored. " Huh?"
" I mean, for the longest time, it was just you and me, surviving foster home
after foster home. You were, and still are, my best friend." He glanced sideways
at NoseDive who stared back with shock still written on his face. " When I met
Canard, it was the first time I had someone my own age to talk to, someone to
hang out with during class when you weren't there. I liked that." He sighed, and
turned around, leaning back against the sill and resting his elbows on it,
staring straight ahead, lost in memories. " But I was worried that I was
neglecting you, whom I had the responsibility of protecting. So I introduced the
two of you. Sparks flew all right, but not the kind I expected." He chuckled
softly. " You and Canard were two polar opposites. He was the smart kid in
class, the respected team captain that the girls all flocked around. You were
the younger, rebellious tag-along kid that never put in the study time like he
did, yet pulled off good grades without even trying. He envied you that, you
" Liar." NoseDive said with a weak grin, but motioned for Wildwing to go on. He
had the feeling Wildwing needed to tell him this as much as he needed to hear
" It's true. Canard had always been the leader of the crowd, but I was the
person to like him for him, not because he got more goals then anyone else on
his hockey team. You, on the other hand, always had friends around you, goofing
off, and playing video games. I could never compete with that either. I think
that's why Canard and I got along so well."
" I never knew that," NoseDive said softly.
Wildwing grinned at him. " You weren't supposed too. I can keep secrets pretty
" I'm beginning to see that."
" Let me finish. I knew Canard didn't really appreciate you being around. He
thought you were too much of a showoff, and self absorbed. That just tells you
how blind he really was at times. But then came the Saurians, and with them came
the camps. When the bombs began falling, and we were separated, I almost gave
" What do you mean?" NoseDive's eyes were very serious.
" I didn't know if you were alive or dead. My baby brother was missing, and
there was no way to find out if you were okay because I was a prisoner too."
Wildwing's eyes closed as he relived the memories. " The drones worked us hard
all day, and half the night. There was hardly any food, and people were dying
every day. Sometimes they'd drop dead in the middle of a job and the drones
would just leave them there. It was up to us to dispose of the bodies. I don't
know how many exactly, but I had a hand in burying almost half of the
upperclassmen from school." NoseDive was horrified, but Wildwing continued.
" But I kept on going. I had hope that you were alive. I knew I had to find you.
But as the months passed and each survivor that was sent to our camps said
they'd never heard of you or seen you, I began to lose that hope. I was planning
my death when a nearby camp was demolished, and the prisoners sent to us. I
couldn't believe it when I saw you Dive - I thought I was hallucinating." Tears
were in Wildwing's eyes as he opened them to look at his brother. NoseDive had
the same stricken expression. " You were back. That was all that mattered. And
then I almost lost you again to sickness. During the time that you recovered, I
never gave Canard a single thought, you know. Some friend I was huh? But all I
could think of was making sure you lived. And you did." The relief in his tone
was painfully evident and he reached out and ruffled Dive's hair gently. " But
then Canard came back while we were being relocated. I was ecstatic that he
survived too - my two best friends were alive and well. As well as could be,
anyway." Wildwing's eyes darkened. " When Canard told us of his plan to take on
Dragaunus, I was skeptical - until I saw the mask." He fingered the mask
reverently as he went on. " I knew it was possible then. But then he said that
you had to be left behind." His tone was very low, almost dangerous. " In that
moment, I hated Canard. With every fibre of my being."
NoseDive reeled back. He hadn't expected this.
" Canard wanted me to go without you. And when I insisted you come along, he
said it was my job to make sure you didn't screw up. And when we destroyed
Dragaunus's headquarters and were about to leave, we saw that the Aerowing was
missing. He blamed you, even when you flew it up to us. He never acknowledged
the fact that even if you had left it alone, we'd have been killed. The blast
came too quickly - we never would have gotten the engine up and running in time
to escape. You saved our lives, Dive."
NoseDive choked. " Wing..."
" And Canard knew it too. But he never thanked you, did he?" Wildwing turned a
calm gaze to NoseDive who was fighting back tears. " And you knew that, as
well." He sighed. " Canard at one time was my best friend. But for what he put
you through...on good days, I wish he'd made it to Anaheim with us so I could
tell him what I thought of him, to clear the air between you two. But on bad
days, I think that the electromagnetic worm was too good for him."
NoseDive's voice was very quiet. " How did you know?"
" That Canard was the one behind all your self-doubt? Dive, he's the only one
you would protect."
" Huh?" NoseDive didn't get it. Him protect the guy who couldn't stand him?
" Yes. You didn't know that I hated him for what he did. At one time he was my
best friend, and I will miss him - I'm not heartless. And sometimes I wish he
would come back, because for all his faults, he was still a good leader. But you
could only see that Canard was my friend and since it made me happy, you would
keep quiet about your dislike for him. You didn't want to taint my memory of
NoseDive could only nod his head. Wildwing smiled gently. " And that's why
you're the best brother I could ever hope to have."
Tears streaming down his face, NoseDive barrelled into his brother who wrapped
his arms around him tightly. " Let it out NoseDive." There was no recriminations
in his voice.
" I hated him!" NoseDive gasped out, his voice slightly muffled. " He took you
away from me!" He sobbed, shoulders heaving rapidly. " He wanted...he wanted to
leave me behind!" There it was, the ultimate betrayal. Wildwing let his own
tears come. NoseDive's body was wracked with sobs, his body trembling violently
at his emotional outburst.
" I was so messed up that he wanted to leave me there! With all the death! He-"
NoseDive broke off as he tried to catch his breath, tears streaking his face.
Wildwing rocked him soothingly, as he urged NoseDive to let everything out. " He
said I was useless! A liability! I had to prove him wrong, but I keep screwing
up!" He buried his face in Wildwing's shoulder. " Even Mallory says I goof off
too much, and Duke treats me like a little kid that should be excused for his
mistakes because he doesn't know any better!"
" And they all got their impressions of you from listening to Canard first."
Wildwing finished. " No wonder Morpheus got a hold of you so easily."
" There's another screwup of mine-" NoseDive began but Wildwing cut him off.
" Dive, he had powers to bring all these feelings and emotions together and
make them worse then they already were. You couldn't do anything about that. And
it was Canard who planted all these insecurities in your head to begin with." He
forced his brother to look him in the eye. " You are not worthless."
NoseDive heard the strength and truth ringing true in that statement. It cut
through him to the core and he felt a warmth spread through him as his doubts
began to lighten.
" I know."
Those two words made Wildwing choke up and he hugged NoseDive even tighter.
" Why didn't you ever tell me all of this?"
" You know why," NoseDive shrugged. " Canard was your best friend. And since
he's gone, disappeared into limbo to save all of us, I figured the least I could
do was to leave his memory in peace."
" And that's just another reason why you're a special person, NoseDive. Even
after all he said to you, you still tried to respect his memory. A more petty
person would have been spiteful." Wildwing looked at him closely. " Feel
NoseDive nodded. He did feel better. His doubts hadn't magically disappeared as
he would have liked, but deep within himself, he could feel a spark of pride
light - Wildwing was proud of him. NoseDive grinned.
" Good." said Wildwing. " And if you ever feel this way again, from anyone or
anything, tell me please."
" 'Kay." NoseDive agreed. " You'll do wonders for my ego."
" With pleasure," Wildwing tried to sound lightearted. What ego? We'll have to
work on that!
" How can you be so calm about it? You say you hated him but you don't sound
Wildwing sighed. " I've spent more time alone working out my feelings regarding
Canard and you and this team then you could imagine. I've destroyed my room on
several occasions, working out my frustrations, and sometimes, I've cried myself
to sleep. I've been through it all NoseDive, and I can finally forgive Canard
for what he did. Now though, that I've realized just how deep he went with you,
I think my punching bag is gonna get some extra time, but I've worked through
it. And now that you're going to be okay, it won't be as hard."
NoseDive gazed up at him in awe. " I never knew that either." I'm not the only
one who has problems.
" I know."
" Make you a deal bro. Next time I'm feeling depressed, I'll come to you, if
you talk to me when you're the same way. Deal?" NoseDive looked up anxiously -
he didn't want to see his brother end up as far gone as he himself had been.
Wildwing grinned. knowing what Dive was thinking. " It's a deal, little
NoseDive suddenly grimaced as he put a hand on his stomach. Wildwing looked at
him in concern when NoseDive smiled, a real smile for the first time in days.
" I was exhausted but my stomach has taken priority. I'm starving!"
Wildwing burst out laughing. He's back! " Come on bro. Let's see if the others
want to order pizza for dinner."
" Oh yeah!" Wildwing helped NoseDive up and the two of them headed for the rec
room. Wildwing felt lighter on his feet. He's going to be okay.
Okay - it's finished! At last! At long last! And it's all because of a few
people who's names must be mentioned here who did the kicking-of-the-butt
routine that made me finish it.
Joanna Capello - one of the best darn authors I've ever had the pleasure of
reading, and talking to. She gave me some valuable tips and I highly recommend
any of her stories.
Wyvern - my insane friend! Not afraid to bash me in the head with chickens,
mallets and combos of the two!
Shadowcat - 'Cat is a pokemon/x-files writer who's the first to read my stories
and tell me what she thinks!
Zelda - for writing awesome ducks fanfiction that inspired me to write my own.