Jadestar Flashblade yawned deeply and ran her hands through her tousled blonde hair as she shuffled along one of the many long underground corridors that helped make up the headquarters that lay beneath the Anaheim Pond Hockey Arena. Making her way to the kitchen in housecoat and pink bunny-slippers, she opened the door and blinked in surprise. There were already others awake, two young females sitting at the table and an older male, fully dressed and chatting amicably amongst themselves. They all looked up at the same time to see her shuffle over to the coffeepot.
“Hey kiddo, don’t you know that stuff will stunt your growth?” asked the male.
Jadestar’s response was to glare at him and after walking over to the island he was leaning against, yawn in his face.
One of the females, tall and slim with brown hair and white feathers, snickered. “Well,” she said smirking, “she certainly told you, eh, Duke?”
Duke snorted. “I just wish she’d brushed her teeth first.”
It was way too early in the morning for this. Jadestar yawned again and thumped down into a chair beside the other female, a young sixteen-year old whose feathers were as dark grey, if not a darker grey than Duke’s were. She barely took the time to give Jadestar a cool glance before returning her attentions back to her cup.
“What time is it?” asked Jadestar.
The first female, Seline, smiled innocently. “Six-thirty.”
The blonde teenager groaned and dropped her head onto the table. “I couldn’t sleep at all last night,” she said. “So, I decided to get up before I disturbed Jackie.” She lifted her head and squinted at the others. “Why are you guys up this early?”
“We’re not,” replied Duke. Jade blinked at him, and he chuckled softly. Seline piped in. “Duke and I were doing sentry duty last night with Calista, Lucus and Mallory,” she said. “They’ve all gone to bed already…we haven’t.”
“I always get up at this time,” said Raye, the second female. She brought her cup up to her beak. “And I believe the reason you’re awake has something to do with your twin brother.”
Jadestar winced painfully and looked down into her cup. “You’re right,” she murmured. “I was having dreams all night of being jabbed with needles. But I suppose that’s to be expected, considering.”
“Even so, sweetheart,” replied Duke, “That’s still no excuse for bad manners.” He frowned down at Raye, who had the sense to flush deeply and look away.
After a long moment, Duke cleared his throat and neatly placed the conversation into safer territory. “It’s pretty good to finally have enough ducks around here so we could start working in shifts,” he said, smiling again. “It was getting pretty tough running on just three hours of sleep at a time. Even for me.”
Seline smirked. “Yep, that’s our Duke! Able to fight off cops, rival gangs and the Saurians, but helpless against the nefarious sleep monster.” She playfully cringed at the look he threw at her.
Jadestar smiled, grateful for Duke and Seli’s quick recovery. It was obvious that they desired to avoid recollecting yesterday’s incident, although the memory of it hung over the room like an ominous cloud that refused to leave. But whether their denial was due to their own uneasiness with the subject, or their desire to not reduce her to tears, Jadestar couldn’t tell.
Probably the latter, she mused. She had spent nearly the entire previous day crying and most of the night as well. But even after all those tears, as thoughts went back to her look-alike brother and the events of the previous day, she was bitterly amazed to find herself again fighting back a painful lump in her throat.
The kitchen door opened and a taller, older female with long reddish-blonde hair floated in, humming happily. Upon seeing the others, a large smile broke out. “Good morning, everyone!” she sang.
Beside her, Jadestar heard Raye mutter under her breath, “Somebody kill me now.”
Grabbing the welcome distraction from her thoughts, the young blonde managed to flash a grin at her darker counterpart. “But that wouldn’t help the rest of us! I say we shoot her instead."
Across the table, Seline rolled her eyes. “I see you had yet another absolutely fabulous time with Lars last night, Jet,” she remarked dryly.
“Oh, you have no idea!” Duke’s fellow Brotherhood member suddenly did a three hundred and sixty-degree spin and grabbed him for a hug and a peck on the beak, causing him to nearly spill his coffee. “It was so perfect! Lars is such a romantic.”
She let go of Duke and went around the island to the refrigerator. “Eh, it’s good to know you had a good time last night,” muttered the slim drake as he frowned at a wet brown stain on his maroon outfit.
Jet leaned on the open fridge door. “Being in love is wonderful,” she sighed and turned back to grab an orange.
Jadestar imitated sticking her finger down her throat, nearly causing Seline to burst out laughing. She managed to keep her beak shut, but her blue-green eyes snapped with mirth. Duke’s shoulders shook with barely suppressed laughter.
“So, um, how long were you two out last night?” asked Seline finally, wiping tears from her eyes.
Jet laughed a clear, almost musical sound, having not noticed the joke that had been played at her expense. “All night! We just got back now! Lars went to bed, poor darling. I guess I wore him out.” She went to stand beside Duke and started peeling her orange. “It’s nice that Mallory was kind enough to take my shift.” She suddenly paused. “Which reminds me, Duke?”
She looked at him, confused. “I thought Grin was supposed to be on last night’s shift with you, not Lucus.”
“He decided to stay with Nosedive until he wakes up.” The older duck looked uncomfortable.
Jet caught her breath. “You mean he’s still unconscious?”
Jadestar felt her insides twist painfully. “I was hoping he’d be awake by now,” she whispered. Apparently there was to be no getting away from this subject.
Seline gave a deep sigh, her shoulders drooping. Looking over at Raye, she asked, “You and Tanya still don’t know what Matthias put into his system?”
Raye shook her head. ”The scanners can’t identify the substance at all. Of course,” she added bitterly, “It doesn’t help that the team’s doctors never bothered to help us in putting any of this planet’s medical information into Drake One, so our database isn’t exactly complete.” As she spoke, the kitchen doors opened to allow yet another duck in.
“Good morning, Cleech,” smiled Jet.
Cleech, a slightly smaller male with red-brown feathers who was almost always in a bad mood even when he was happy, merely grunted at them and poured himself some coffee. He took a gulp, then quickly went over to the sink where he spat it out and dumped his cup. “Argh! This stuff’s COLD!”
“Then why don’t you make some more?” asked Seline.
Jadestar looked into the contents of her own cup. “It is?” She stuck a finger into her coffee to make sure, then made a face and got up to throw it out.
He ignored the two of them. “Mornin’, Raye.”
“Cleech,” she acknowledged calmly.
Seline just shook her head at the two of them and went over to the coffee machine. Soon the smell of freshly brewing coffee began to invade the kitchen.
Jadestar returned to her chair and watched as Duke quietly looked at Raye, then back at Cleech. Then he went and sat down at the table just on the other side of the young female.
The other drake gave him a look of distaste. “Ye'd think I was gonnae rape 'er right here in front o' everyone,” he snapped.
Duke said nothing, but merely returned Cleech’s glare with a cool stare of his own.
Raye looked even less impressed than Cleech was. She muttered, “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself, Duke. I don’t need to be babysat.”
He just leaned back and sipped his coffee. “It never hurts to be sure.”
Cleech made a sound of disgust and changed the subject. “So, what were ye talkin’ about just now?”
“Nosedive,” murmured Jadestar softly.
To her surprise, he gave her a look of sympathy. “I heard about that, lass. How’s yer other brother handlin’ it?”
“He fired Dr. Matthias, if that’s any indication.”
Cleech snorted, reverting back to his old self. “Serves him right. We donnae need any humans tae help us. I say we kick ‘em all out.”
Seline rolled her eyes as she began pouring the coffee. Jadestar just blinked. “Well, yeah okay, Phil is really annoying, but Jessie and Jackie-”
“-Are two human kids who’ll only get in our way when we have t’ fight the Saurians,” Cleech interrupted as he held out his own cup. “They donnae belong here.”
Raye spoke up. “I would like to know how exactly we’re supposed to get along without a doctor.”
The muscular duck shrugged. “It’s nae like ye, Tanya and Luc arenae able to do it.”
She looked so incensed at that, Jadestar thought that she would throw her mug at him. “First off, you idiot, the three of us specialize in technology, not medicine. Second, we only have enough training to do first aid and third, we don’t have the time to devote ourselves to learn anything more!”
Jet gracefully cleared her throat. “Going back to the original question, Wildwing is more than a little upset. So it would probably be a good idea not to bring up the subject of his brother until he actually wakes up.”
The others had no more than finished agreeing when Wildwing walked in, clad only in a pair of plaid pajama pants. He walked over to the fridge and opened it.
Jadestar snuck a peek at Seline, who was gaping open-beaked at her brother and fought down a giggle. Seline’s crush had to be the most well known secret in the Pond, the only person not knowing it being her brother. Either that or he was purposely ignoring it.
She looked back at him and became aware of a sense of pride that washed over her. It wasn’t hard to see that he was a handsome male, tall, strong and proud in just the right way. She couldn’t understand why he couldn’t attract the females as Duke could, but after a moment’s thought, she had it. The grey-feathered ex-thief had a personality that made it easy for him to talk anything out of anybody. He practically oozed charm and humour, whereas Wildwing held himself aloof from the others, cool and distant.
She was snapped back to the present when she heard the ever-tactful Cleech remark, ‘I hear ye had some problems with the good doctor yesterday.”
Jadestar groaned softly with the others. Way to go. Wreck his day before it starts!
Surprisingly, her brother merely shrugged. “You could say that. But he’s gone now, so we shouldn’t have any more problems.”
Wildwing turned to make his way to the table, a breakfast drink in hand and gave small start of surprise to see his sister sitting there. Pulling up a chair beside hers, he leaned over and gently rubbed the top of his beak against the side of hers. “I’m sorry I never came to you afterwards,” he murmured.
She closed her eyes and leaned into his caress. “It’s alright. I know how preoccupied you were with the doctor. Besides, Jackie took me out to the mall to try and get my mind off…it all.”
“And did it work?”
“No, not really.”
“Well, after I’m done this, we’ll go down to Med. Bay together, okay? ” He picked up his drink and after a moment’s thought, looked down at Jadestar and her coffee. “Which reminds me, exactly how many cups is that, Jade?”
She looked up at him and scowled. “For your information, big brother, this is only my first. So there.”
He looked into her cup and asked, “Who made it?”
“I did,” replied Seline.
Wildwing looked at her for a long moment, causing a red flush to cross her beak. He leaned back saying, “Well, that’s okay then. I’d have to take Jade’s cup away if it had been Duke.”
The young team captain gave a look of wide-eyed innocence. “What?”
The phone interrupted whatever comments Duke had. Before anyone could react however, it was cut off in the middle of the first ring.
“Must not have been very important...” Wildwing mused.
A few moments later, his communicator blipped. A female with blonde hair that looked like a bright yellow plant stuck on her head came on the screen and announced in a stuffed up voice, “Wildwing, phone call for you. It’s uh, you know, Phil.”
Duke lifted an eyebrow as the Wildwing stood up. “He’s up awfully early.”
Wildwing gave a wry smile and picked up the receiver. Meanwhile, Jet went and sat down in his spot. “Just thought I’d keep his seat warm for him,” she smiled. “So, any ideas what Phil’s calling for?”
Jadestar tried to listen in on what her older brother, but he was talking too low for her to understand what he was saying. So she turned back to Jet’s question. “My money’s on that Phil found a new doctor already.”
“So soon?” This came from Duke.
Whatever Jadestar was going to say in her defense was drowned out by Wildwing’s sudden outburst.
“You’re sending us a college graduate?!?”
Around the table, beaks dropped and eyes went wide. “You’ve got to be kidding,” whispered Seline, shocked.
They watched as Wildwing rubbed his temples in frustration and grind out, “Fine. Send her.” A long pause. “Yeah, whatever, Phil. Goodbye.”
He slammed down the phone and stood there for a long moment, trembling.
Cleech looked at him casually from the fridge where he stood, arms crossed. “Problem?”
Wildwing turned and looked back at him, black fury written across his features. Then with a snarl, he stalked out of the kitchen, leaving all of them sitting there, frightened and whispering.
Jadestar watched him go, shivering. Her thoughts went to the soon-to-be-new doctor, and suddenly felt desperately sorry.